2010 Playoffs: Los Angeles Sparks
Aug 27 2010 11:05PM
The Battle Rages On
Posted August 27, 2010 9:05 PM
No playoff team wants to fall into an early 1-0 hole in a best-of-three series, but for those that find themselves in that situation early on, the key to surviving and forcing a third game comes with making the proper adjustments heading into Game 2.
For Marie Ferdinand-Harris and the Los Angeles Sparks, that’s exactly where they find themselves as the first round series against the Seattle Storm heads back home to Staples Center in Los Angeles Saturday afternoon for a 3 p.m. EST tip.
Ferdinand-Harris led all Sparks scorers with 18 points in Wednesday night’s 79-66 loss at Key Arena, marking the sixth straight game since the start of the regular season that the Sparks have come up on the losing end against the Storm. But Ferdinand-Harris remains confident in her team, suggesting a little fine tuning can go a long way in Game 2.
“A lot of their success was due to some of our lack of execution,” said Ferdinand-Harris. “Also, us having too much speed. We weren’t executing because we were going too fast. We weren’t patient and it was causing a lot of turnovers which caused a lot of transition baskets for them.”
All in all, the Sparks committed a total of 14 team turnovers, only one short of Seattle’s 15. However, Seattle’s offense shot 56.1 percent from the field compared to Los Angeles’s 40.7 percent, a clear indication that any turnover could ultimately be a costly one.
The Storm’s offense was led by the likes of Swin Cash, who scored 20 points, Lauren Jackson, who dropped 17 and Camille Little and Jana Vesela, each with 11. Sue Bird also added 12 assists in the win.
“We know we have to limit Lauren Jackson’s touches,” said Ferdinand-Harris of the two-time MVP. “She’s just a phenomenal player. If we’re going to have a chance we have to limit her touches.”
“But we can’t just limit Lauren Jackson’s shots and let Swin Cash get loose,” admitted Ferdinand-Harris. “We have to kind of contain her as well and let some of the other players come off the bench.”
Outside of the aforementioned adjustments, one area Ferdinand-Harris doesn’t expect to see a change in is the physical aspect of the game.
“That game, it was like a war. I felt like both teams were just so physical. We literally should’ve had swords out there,” she joked.
“I guess that’s what playoff basketball is about.”
Penicheiro Focused on Title
Posted August 24, 2010 6:05 PM
For Ticha Penicheiro, there’s nothing quite like a WNBA championship. She knows this first-hand, having claimed a title in 2005 as a member of the Sacramento Monarchs. It’s a feeling she’ll never forget, and one she desperately wants to experience again.
“I remember everything like it was yesterday,” recalled the WNBA’s all-time leader in assists and steals. “The feeling when the buzzer goes off, the confetti coming down, it was a lot of emotions and I was on a high for a couple of months. Just having that feeling again would be great.”
Now in her 13th season in the WNBA, leading the Los Angeles Sparks to the postseason in only her first year with the club is definitely a good start. Penicheiro is no stranger to postseason play, having led the Monarchs to the playoffs in nine of her 12 years in Sacramento. This season, Penicheiro led the league in total assists (220) and assists per game (6.9). But it's not about personal achievements for Penicheiro. It's about winning.
“I think me, Tina [Thompson] and DeLisha [Milton-Jones] have all accomplished so much stuff individually,” said Penicheiro. “All we care about now is playing to win and winning some basketball games and winning championships.”
Winning didn’t come easy for the Sparks this season, but they did come in bunches and at the right time. The Sparks posted a 5-4 record for the month of August to finish the season 13-21. A tie-breaker over the Lynx secured the fourth seed for the Sparks, pitting them against the Seattle Storm in the Western Conference Semifinals.
“We know it’s not an easy task,” admitted Penicheiro in going up against the 28-6 Seattle Storm. “We know that every team that is in the playoffs believes that they can win a championship.”
Easy or not, Penicheiro knows what awaits her and the Sparks at the end of the run. It’s the time of the year when players buckle in, play through pain and remain focused on one thing: winning a championship.
“The WNBA is the cream of the crop. Playing here and winning a championship [shows] you are the best in the world,” proclaimed Penicheiro. “The other thing that comes with it is the joy of winning. It’s the thing that we all, as athletes, play for. I definitely would love to have that feeling again of winning a championship.”