NEW YORK, August 14 -- With this being the so-called Olympic
hiatus, we're still under our Beijing player embargo. So instead of dealing with
our usual topic, the Race to the MVP, this week we're talking Sixth Woman Award.
"What is it that makes a substitute valuable?" you might ask.
The ability to come into a game and spell a team's starters? Sure. The willingness
to come off the bench and give as much in her potentially limited minutes as
she has? Absolutely. The knack to come in and hit that vital hoop, sky for that
big rebound or make that meaningful defensive stop? Definitely.
As the league
rules state, to be eligible for the Sixth Woman award, a player must come off
the bench in more games than she starts, so these players all currently qualify.
You'll see 2007 Sixth Woman Award winner Plenette Pierson, but the versatile
Shock forward is being pressed by a flock of youngins, as you'll soon see.
Now here are my Sixth Women of the Year rankings for the 2008 season through
the start of the Olympic break.
Yes, she's also a close second in the Rookie of the Year race to another player
with a similar first name, but her contribution to the Lynx is amazing. Especially
for a rookie. It's even more impressive for a rookie coming off the bench.
She has had her less-than-terrific moments in 2008, but the reigning Sixth Woman of the Year Award winner is putting together another huge season. Aside from Katie Smith and Deanna Nolan, she may the Shock's MVP so far.
None of the players on this list have been a bigger surprise than BT in CT. This
UConn alum came to the Sun in an afterthought of a trade this spring, and
she has responded with career highs in scoring, rebounds, assists, steals
After a somewhat disappointing rookie campaign, this highly touted forward is
coming into her own in 2008. She's providing terrific quickness and agility
around the basket, and in all likelihood, she won't be coming off the bench
for much longer.
A very solid point guard who could start on many other teams around the league
(ones without Sue Bird), Wright, too, is having her finest season. She's nearly
3.0 ppg ahead of her previous career high and should prove to be a vital part
of Seattle's playoff push.
An exciting player at Rutgers, this rookie has hit the ground running in Houston
and hasn't looked back. Though her shooting percentage is low, she has nine
double-figure scoring games for a Comets team in need of youth, energy and
instant offense in the backcourt.
The reigning Rookie of the Year might not even be eligible for this award when
it's all said and done (she only needs to start five more games), but Price
is having a solid follow-up season. Offense isn't her forte, but she's a valuable
rebounder and defender coming off the pine.
What a terrific find this rookie out of Western Kentucky was for Jenny Boucek and GM John Whisenant. Cast off by the Comets in the preseason, she has provided energy, rebounding and solid scoring for the Monarchs.
Brown stepped in admirably at the point when Temeka Johnson missed some time. She's not exactly an offensive powerhouse, but she's a very skilled, solid guard who knows -- and plays -- her role on the star-studded Sparks.
A vital substitute on the 2007 title-winning Mercury, Mazzante hasn't set the world on fire in 2008, but she's still an important part of Phoenix's squad. She's a dynamite outside shooter who can come into a game, hit some threes and provide a real spark.
Last week, Lauren Hill of Mount St. Joseph University courageously took the floor for her first college game, refusing to let an inoperable brain tumor keep her from achieving her dream – and WNBA stars Elena Delle Donne and Tamika Catchings were on hand to lend their support.