Q&A with Lynx play-by-play announcer Alan Horton
Tulsa Shock: With the exception of Seattle, no team is separating itself in the Western Conference. What are your thoughts on the parity in the conference?
Alan Horton: That has been the trend the last few years, with just a few games separating teams. Seattle has gotten off to the quick start, and I think they have benefitted from continuity. The core group of players in Seattle have been together for years and they are very comfortable under Brian Agler's system. You look at every other team in the conference and they either had a coaching change or a major personnel move. It takes time for a team to gel after those types of changes and I think early on that is why everyone has struggled to keep pace with the Storm.
TS: How do you see things shaking out in the conference as the season progresses?
AH: There is no question the final three playoff spots are completely up for grabs. It will come down to which teams get on track and come together the quickest. When the dust settles, I expect Phoenix to be the number two seed, they are just too talented and have too much experience not to be there. That leaves four teams for two spots and I think you could make the case for any of the four. Like I said, it probably comes down to a game or two and who owns the tiebreaker(s), which is one reason this back-to-back between the Lynx and Shock is so important.
TS: Thoughts on the Minnesota’s sluggish 2-9 start to the season? How does the start compare to expectations before the season?
AH: The results certainly have not matched the expectations. The Lynx roster is as deep and as talented as any in franchise history, but they have yet to get on track this season. The team has not only had to adjust to new head coach Cheryl Reeve, but also the in-season return of Rebekkah Brunson from overseas and Candice Wiggins and Seimone Augustus from injury.
TS: Thoughts on Tulsa’s 3-6 start to the year? Expected? Disappointed?
AH: When we saw the Shock in the season opener, I thought it might be a long season for the fans in Tulsa. But the last two meetings (both Shock victories) you can see that the team is starting to figure out exactly what Coach Nolan Richardson is trying to accomplish. There will be some bumps in the road, but with the way the conference is shaping up, there is no reason Tulsa can't compete for a playoff spot. TS:This if the fourth and fifth time Tulsa will play Minnesota this season, what should we be expecting from the two teams this time around?
AH: Five meetings in five weeks, I'd have to check the record books but I'll go out on a limb and say that's the first time in WNBA history that that's happened. There shouldn't be many surprises between these two, and even though they've combined for just five wins, I think there is plenty at stake. I mentioned the potential head-to-head tiebreaker, but I think more importantly at this point both teams are just looking to gain some momentum. There is a sense of urgency, I think both teams realize now is the time to start stringing some wins together.