Expect Surprises

If the first weekend of the 2009 WNBA season taught us anything, it’s that we should be prepared for anything to happen this year.

How many of us can actually say we expected to see the Washington Mystics sitting alone atop the Eastern Conference standings with a 2-0 record today?

How about the Minnesota Lynx averaging 99 points in their first two games as they blew out Chicago and Indiana?

Keep in mind that this came as part of a back-to-back and that the Lynx just replaced their head coach three days before the season opener. Not a bad start to the Jennifer Gillom era in Minnesota.

Of course the Lynx got off to a hot start last year, winning their first five games, so maybe we shouldn’t have been surprised by Minnesota's early success. But 198 points in two games?

There were also a number of individual performances that made fans do a double-take over the weekend.

Would anyone have guessed that the only double-double to be tallied in Saturday's game between the Sparks and Shock would come from Betty Lennox? The 5-foot-8 guard had 17 points and 10 rebounds in the Sparks’ 78-58 win.

Atlanta’s Chamique Holdsclaw played in her first WNBA game in two years and came out of the gates with 23 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals in the Dream’s double-overtime win over the Fever. So much for being rusty.

Not all of the surprises were quite so pleasant. Sacramento and Indiana fans have to be both surprised and frustrated by their teams opening up the season at 0-2. Even the teams that met in last year’s Finals – Detroit and San Antonio – each dropped their first game of the season.

At first glance, the standings appear to be flipped upside down from a year ago. Check out these stats:

The combined record after opening weekend of the eight playoff teams from a year ago: 4-8.
The combined record of the five non-playoff teams: 6-2.
In four head-to-head matchups between playoff teams and non-playoff teams, the non-playoff teams are 4-0.

As much as I try to avoid using sports clichés, the one that kept jumping in my head throughout the weekend was: “That’s why they play the game.”

Leading up to the season everyone makes their projections and predictions as to how the season will play out. But as much as we think we know about the league, you never really know what is going to happen until the games are played. That is the beauty about sports in general, it’s completely unscripted.

A common phrase used when analyzing teams – and we were guilty of it using in our season previews – is “on paper.”

On paper, this team should contend for the championship. On paper, this team will have a hard time making the playoffs.

In case we needed any more proof that games are played on hardwood and not paper, the opening weekend in the WNBA just gave it to us.

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