By Ann Meyers
As told to Matt Wurst

Meyers, who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003, broadcasts WNBA and women's NCAA games for ABC and ESPN. She has also been a regular Blog Squad contributor to WNBA.com throughout the 2004 season. She will be all over your televisions this month, serving as an analyst for playoff games.

With the WNBA Playoffs 2004 starting Friday, September 24, we asked Meyers to analyze the first-round conference matchups.


Connecticut Sun
(18-16, 1st place)
vs.
Washington Mystics
(17-17, 4th place)

What is the most intriguing matchup?
I think the most interesting matchup is Alana Beard and Lindsay Whalen. It will be interesting to see how the two rookies perform.

Who is the Sun "go-to" player?
Nykesha Sales has had a terrific year.

Who is the Mystics' "go-to" player?
Beard is the go-to player, but Chasity Melvin will need to have a huge imapct for them. Beard is big for her position, quick and left-handed, her ball-handling has improved, and her confidence is sky-high right now. I think the rookie race got a lot closer since the break. This is the closest competition we have ever had as far as the rookies go.

In order for the Sun to win, they need to ..." ...execute down the stretch. They have been consistent, play good defense and execute their offense. I know that sounds kind of simple, but a lot of teams don't execute. Coach Thibault has done a terrific job making this team understand things, how to slow things down and get their shots. I'm going to favor Connecticut even though Washington is on a roll.

In order for the Mystics to win, they need to ..." ...their backcourt needs to excel. Again, I think Melvin is important, but the backcourt of Beard and Stacey Dales-Schuman has to play well. They have come together as a team. Just like with the Sun, their chemistry is really very good. The distraction of Holdsclaw is now gone and they have all stepped up. This is Alana Beard's team and her teammates feel comfortable with that.


New York Liberty
(18-16, 2nd place)
vs.
Detroit Shock
(17-17, 3rd place)

What is the most intriguing matchup?
I think the most intriguing matchup in this series could be Crystal Robinson for New York and Deanna Nolan for Detroit. Robinson is their defensive stopper and their 3-point shooter. Nolan likes to run, so how effective will Crystal be in keeping up with Nolan? It depends if Robinson is knocking down her shots or not.

Who is the Liberty "go-to" player?
Becky Hammon is their clutch player and Elena Baranova has to come up big. Hammon has been their go-to player down the stretch and the ball will be in her hands. She is the creator that makes things happen and gets everyone else involved. Baranova, with her size and experience, has to come through for them.

Who is the Shock "go-to" player?
Their inside players, Ruth Riley and Cheryl Ford. Fouls will be the key for them, because if they get into foul trouble, they could be taken out of their game.

In order for the Liberty to win, they need to ..." ...get to the free throw line and get the Shock in foul trouble. They have to get to the basket and knock down their outside shots. Detrina White's health remains a question, but she gives them that size to compete with Detroit.

In order for the Shock to win, they need to ..." ...pound the ball inside. The big thing with Detroit is their inside game. They can dominate on those boards and that is definitely where they have their edge.


Los Angeles Sparks
(25-9, 1st place)
vs.
Sacramento Monarchs
(18-16, 4th place)

What is the most intriguing matchup?
You know what you're going to get out of Lisa Leslie and Yolanda Griffith, so I would say the intriguing matchup here is between the team benches. For Sacramento, Kara Lawson, Chantelle Anderson, Ruthie Bolton and Lady Grooms will be very important. They go nine or ten deep. L.A. is not as deep. Teresa Weatherspoon has not been getting a lot of minutes down the stretch, Tamika Whitmore is always a big question mark, but she has had four or so pretty good games since the Olympic break.

Who is the Sparks "go-to" player?
Lisa Leslie.

Who is the Monarchs "go-to" player?
Again, it is not Griffith on offense. They have a tough time getting her the ball. I would say that Lawson is their go-to player. She can put some pressure on defensively, and when the Monarchs won, she has had some big games. She loves playing in pressure situations.

In order for the Sparks to win, they need to ..." ...continue their running game. Leslie is surrounded by three All-Stars, so they know how to win. A key for them will be how well their perimeter players can hit shots and open things up for Lisa down low. Nikki Teasley can be hot or cold. Mwadi Mabika has been in=and-out with her knee, so she needs to be conditioned. The rookie, Christi Thomas, will also be very important for them.

In order for the Monarchs to win, they need to ..." ...stay out of foul trouble and hit their open shots. But they are going to be rested. If they get a win at home on Friday night, that will be huge for them because they can run with L.A., they can put pressure defense on them. Tangela Smith and DeMya Walker also need to get off for Sacramento.


Seattle Storm
(20-14, 2nd place)
vs.
Minnesota Lynx
(18-16, 3rd place)

What is the most intriguing matchup?
I think the matchup to watch will be Svetlana Abrosimova for the Lynx and Sheri Sam for Seattle. Another one that intrigues me is Kamila Vodichkova and Nicole Ohlde. Yes, Nicole has played an entire season now, but the playoffs are different. Seattle went down the tubes last year when Vodichkova got hurt, so it will be interesting.

Who is the Storm "go-to" player?
Lauren Jackson. She is the reigning MVP and has had another MVP-type year. And Sue Bird getting her the ball. She can also knock down some big shots.

Who is the Lynx "go-to" player?
People wondered, without Katie Smith, who would step up. I'm going to go with the rookie and say Ohlde. She gets herself to the free throw line, she isn't intimidated and they can expect some big things from her.

In order for the Storm to win, they need to ..." ...push the ball and keep attacking. They are very physical. Jackson can play inside-outside, Vodichkova is a presence down low, and Bird and Lennox get it done on the perimeter. They have a lot of weapons.

In order for the Lynx to win, they need to ..." ...control the tempo, get good shots off and work the ball inside. They have size and can compete with Seattle down there. I love Tamika Williams' game because she doesn't do anything flashy, just gets the job done. I think this will be a really good series.