Diana Taurasi and Katie Smith
Named WNBA Players of the Week
NEW YORK, June 9, 2008 Katie Smith of the Detroit Shock and Diana Taurasi of the Phoenix Mercury were named the WNBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, June 2 through Sunday, June 8.
Katie Smith collects her fourth-career Player of the Week award after a week in which she reached the 30-point plateau twice and averaged 27.0 points per game, 3.7 rebounds per game and 2.0 assists per game, while shooting 45.8 percent (27-59) from the field and 40.0 percent (12-30) from behind the arc. Powered by Smiths consecutive 30-point outbursts, the Shock went 2-1 on the week.
Smiths 33 points in the 77-67 Detroit win over Seattle on June 4 marked her best scoring output as a member of the Shock, tied the team high for 2008 (Deanna Nolan, May 23 at Atlanta) and ranked fifth in franchise history for a single game. With 2:10 remaining in the matchup, Seattle pulled within three points, until Smith countered with a 3-pointer to lengthen the lead and seal the victory.
On June 6 at Sacramento, the two-time Olympic gold medalist drained seven three pointers, one short of tying the WNBA single-game record (8, Taurasi, Aug. 10, 2006). Her seven threes on twelve attempts outscored the entire Monarchs team from long distance (2-13). Early in the contest, she tied the franchise record for points in a quarter (15, first quarter).
A six-time All-Star and two-time member of the All-WNBA First Team, Smith is averaging 16.8 points per game this season to go along with her 3.0 assists per game.
Taurasi receives the sixth Player of the Week award of her career first in 2008 on the heels of a week in which she averaged 29.0 points per game, 3.0 rebounds per game and 3.5 assists per game while shooting 46.3 percent (19-41) from the floor. The former No. 1 overall pick scored 29 points in back-to-back games against Washington and at Los Angeles.
Taurasi and the Mercury spoiled the Los Angeles Sparks home opener by rallying from an 18-point deficit to top the Sparks 85-79. The UConn product scored 13 of her 29 points in the final quarter, including a free throw, a layup and a jumper to pull the defending WNBA champions within two points with just over three minutes remaining. With the Mercury leading by two in the final two minutes, she sank a field goal and a three pointer to push the game out of reach and seal the squads second win of the week.
Phoenix also secured its first win of the season this week when Taurasi led the squad to a 98-93 victory over the visiting Washington Mystics. In addition to her 29 points, Taurasi handed out six assists to put the Mercury into the win column for the first time in 2008.
A three-time All-Star and former Rookie of the Year, Taurasi is currently second
in the league in scoring (23.7 ppg), trailing only Mercury teammate Cappie Pondexter
(26.3 ppg). Her average to date is 4.5 points per game higher than her average
in 2007 and 4.0 points per game above her career scoring rate.
Other candidates for WNBA Players of the Week were Atlantas Jennifer Lacy, Chicagos Jia Perkins, Connecticuts Asjha Jones, Houstons Tina Thompson, Los Angeles Lisa Leslie, Minnesotas Seimone Augustus, Sacramentos Nicole Powell, Seattles Lauren Jackson and Washingtons Alana Beard.
About the WNBA
Comprised of 14 teams and entering its 12th season, the WNBA is the longest-running and most successful womens professional team sports league in America. The 2008 season tips off May 17 with ESPN2 again providing appointment viewing in the form of its WNBA Tuesdays telecasts. Combined coverage on ABC and ESPN2 will include 21 national telecasts, while NBA TV, the leagues 24-hour television network, will offer 70 regular-season contests.
The WNBA is deeply committed to WNBA CARES programs that improve the quality of life for all people, with a special emphasis on promoting health and fitness, breast health awareness, reading and youth basketball programs. For more information on the WNBA, log on to www.wnba.com.