Calling All Stars
The Shock have five players on the roster that have made a collective 21 All-Star game appearances- 10 of them representing Detroit. Cheryl Ford and Deanna Nolan have represented the Shock in the last four All-Star games held - in 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007 - the most in franchise history.
Taj McWilliams and Katie Smith have made the most appearances with six each - but only Smithís 2006 participation came as a member of the Shock. Smith scored 14 points to help the East defeat the West for the first time, 98-82. That made Smith, an All-Star for Minnesota in the West, the first WNBA player to win the All-Star game as a member of both conferences.
Smith didnít go in 2007, which is surprising, only because it feels like everyone else from Detroit did. The game featured the largest Shock contingent ever, including head coach Bill Laimbeer and his staff directing the East. Ford, Nolan and Kara Braxton were all voted by the fans to start - although the 6-foot-6 center wasnít even starting for the Shock at the time.
Braxton held her own, posting four points and four rebounds - actually outscoring her starting counterpart for the West, Yolanda Griffith - as the Detroit trio combined for 31 points, leading the East to a 103-99 victory. Ford took MVP honors with 16 points - including her only 3-pointer as a professional - a game-high 13 rebounds and five assists.
Ford, who was named the 2003 Rookie of the Year, is the only WNBA player to receive both honors. Though she has not played yet in 2009, Ford should have plenty of time to remind voters of her name - and her game - when she returns to the court as soon as June 19 against the Fever.
Incredibly, 2007 marked Nolanís first All-Star game start voted by the fans. Her best performance came two years earlier when she scored a game-high 20 points off the bench in the 2005 contest. The Shock had a team-best four players in that 2005 game - the departed Ruth Riley and Swin Cash were voted starters by the fans, with Ford and Nolan receiving reserve nods from the coaches.
Regardless of how many Shock players the fans vote onto the Eastís starting lineup, the team will definitely have a presence on the bench. As the defending Eastern Conference champion, Laimbeer and his staff will aim for their second consecutive All-Star game victory.
All-Star game voters shouldn't rule out the next generation, either. Second-year center Olayinka Sanni has put numbers for consideration through the first three games while Braxton and Ford have been out of the lineup. Sanni leads the Shock in rebounding and is averaging 11.0 points on 56.0 percent shooting from the field. She ranks in the leagueís top-10 in total rebounds (20 - fourth), rebounds per game (6.7 - ninth), offensive rebounds (9 - fourth) and offensive rebounds per game (3.0 - sixth).