Becky Hammon, who recently broke her finger, will be without her tag-team partner Sophia Young, who will miss the season with an ACL tear. NBAE/Getty Images
Sophia Young (injury)
The San Antonio Silver Stars enjoyed a solid season last year, highlighted by winning as many as 12 games in a row thanks to the lethal 1-2 punch of Becky Hammon and Sophia Young.
Unfortunately for San Antonio, however, Young suffered an ACL tear playing abroad in the offseason and is out indefinitely, leaving coach Dan Hughes with a huge void to fill.
"When she got hurt, that was substantial," Hughes said. "Sophia was a real staple for us, for what, eight years now. I think what's got to happen is our core of young players have got to step up. Those players have got to get better so that we can absorb Sophia's input."
Young was a solid defender and perimeter player that complemented Hammon's killer crossover and playmaking ability. Hughes said Hammon, whose timetable for return is currently unknown, shouldn't have to shoulder any extra weight for the team in Young's absence.
"I just want Becky to be Becky because daggone, she's been outstanding," Hughes said. "I don't want Becky to be anything other than what she's already been, and that's fantastic."
Instead, Hughes said he wants some of the younger players on the team like Danielle Robinson, Jayne Appel, Danielle Adams and Shenise Johnson to step up their game. In the offseason, the Silver Stars signed forward DeLisha Milton-Jones from the Los Angeles Sparks, a veteran player known for her tough defensive chops. Having her on the team will be key for replacing Young, Hughes said.
"I'm glad we don't have to play against her anymore," Hughes said with a laugh. "She can shoot the 3, yet has great length to create mismatches on defense. She's veteran enough to develop chemistry fast with our players, which is needed now with Sophia being hurt."
As far as how long the team expects Young to be out for, Hughes said Young will be evaluated in August on whether or not she's ready yet to get back on the court.
"She'll be evaluated and we'll see where she's at," Hughes said. "That's the earliest she would be released for contact. But even then, we don't know. It could be nine months, it could be a year. All we can do is wait and see."
Hughes said he feels great about his team's prospects this season and overall about the level of competition fans can expect to see this season.
"I think there's no question the league and teams are going to be better," Hughes said. "I'm really excited for this year. The competition is going to be good as we've ever seen. It's a great year for people to follow their teams and follow the WNBA."