Charlotte Sting: 2005 Preview
Sometimes the game really is just about the way the ball bounces. The ping pong ball.
The Charlotte Sting secured the first overall pick in the WNBA Draft despite narrowly missing the playoffs thanks to the Draft lottery, which determines the order of the top selections based on the random musings of dozens of ping pong balls in a lottery machine. Will the player they used with the No. 1 choice, Janel McCarville, get them over the hump and into the playoffs?
Perhaps, but first she will have to beat out incumbent starter Tammy Sutton-Brown for the spot. Sutton-Brown was an All-Star in 2002. She averaged career-highs in rebounds (6.2) and blocks (2.09) during the 2004 campaign in addition to ranking second on the team in scoring at 9.6 points per game. Yes, you heard that last number correctly.
When your second-leading scorer fails to crack the double-digit mark, you know you have offensive issues in more than just one sense.
To address that concern, the Sting acquired Sacramento power forward Tangela Smith and Seattle swingman Sheri Sam. Smith averaged 11.2 points per game last season and Sam is one of just 30 players in league history to record 2,000 career points.
"Sheri brings with her athleticism, versatility and the knowledge of how to win at the highest level in this league," said String general manager and head coach Trudi Lacey. "Tangela Smith solidifies our frontcourt and gives us another serious scoring and rebounding threat. She is an impact player who has been one of the WNBA�s top post players throughout her career."
Also added to the mix was point guard Helen Darling, meaning starter Dawn Staley finally has a suitable backup for the first time in her career. The Sting's franchise player and unquestioned leader the last six seasons, Staley led the league in assist to turnover ratio in 2004 while frequently dropping dimes for leading scorer Allison Feaster.
Feaster, an 11.8 ppg scorer, will be back in Charlotte yet again -- in fact, the only starter who won't is free agent Andrea Stinson, who started every game in Sting history at the 2 but was not re-signed.
"We certainly needed to rebuild as we fell short last year," Lacey said. "We had a veteran group and then a very young group. What I did in the offseason was try to close that gap a little bit. We did get younger but we also got players who had WNBA experience."
"One thing is that we�re going to play more pressure defense. We�re going to extend our defense, hopefully get into the passing lanes a little more and hopefully create some offense from our defense by creating turnovers that will lead to some easy baskets for us. Hopefully that will increase our point total. We also got some offensive players. We think we added some really nice players to increase our offensive output."
Ironically, defense is one of the few things that went Charlotte's way last season. The Sting gave up the fewest points in the league, allowing only 2168 total points.
It is that defensive-oriented mentality that led the Sting to pick the hard-nosed McCarville when they could have opted for high scoring off guard Tan White, who went No. 2 to the Indiana Fever.
Will the decision pay off? Will the veteran acquisitions work out?
Looks like we will just have to wait and see -- the way the ball bounces.
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