2004 Sacramento Monarchs Season in Review
The Monarchs can look back at the 2004 season as a building block. Finally overcoming the Los Angeles Sparks in the playoffs was undoubtedly constructive. Also, after taking the newly crowned 2004 WNBA Champion Seattle Storm to a decisive game three in the Western Conference Finals, the Monarchs have learned that their collective game can only get better.

Near the end of the regular season, both the Monarchs and their fans were hopeful that the team would make the playoffs. Showing their toughness, Sacramento won their final three games of the regular season to slip neatly into the fourth place spot of the Western Conference and the 2004 WNBA Playoffs; thus earning the Monarchs their fifth playoff berth in the past six seasons.

Sacramento�s season read like a good mystery novel filled with excitement and anticipation of the unknown. The first test came in the preseason. After losing their first two games the Monarchs finished the preseason against the Seattle Storm. Sacramento struck the initial blow in the first of their eight total meetings on the year, defeating Seattle 59-56 as the Storm witnessed five Monarchs players score in double figures. The Monarchs seemed prepared for the regular season.

The regular season, however, proved tough on the Monarchs, as the first half of season was littered with losses. The team went 12-13 through the end of July, but thanks to a three game win streak at the end of June and an exciting 62-61 win over Charlotte entering the August break, it seemed obvious that the Monarchs were building up some steam for the second part of the season.

On June 19, Yolanda Griffith was named to the 2004 USA Basketball Senior Women�s National Team and wasted no time showing USA Basketball that they had not made a mistake by placing her on the team. In the Game at Radio City, on August 5, Griffith earned MVP honors as she came off the bench to score 11 points and grab a game-high 15 rebounds. The 2004 USA Basketball Senior Women�s National Team routed the WNBA All-Stars 74-58.

After Griffith brought home another gold medal and a winning attitude from the 2004 Olympics in Athens, she carried that dominant mindset into strong performances that had an overwhelming impact as the Monarchs headed into the playoffs. Through nine games, in the last month of the regular season, Griffith led the Monarchs in both points and rebounding on six occasions. She also increased her points-per-game average from 13.8, prior to the break, to 16.4 in the final nine games.

The Monarchs crept into the fourth spot of the 2004 WNBA Playoffs only to face the Los Angeles Sparks, a team that had eliminated Sacramento in three previous playoff meetings. The Monarchs took the first game in Sacramento, as the Sparks were crushed 75-52. Los Angeles surged back in game two winning at home, but the third game belonged to the Monarchs after some help from a trio of players, namely Tangela Smith, DeMya Walker, and Kara Lawson who all scored 17 in the pivotal game.

In the first game of the WNBA Western Conference Finals, Sacramento played in front of a crowd of 10,662 at ARCO Arena and defeated Seattle in a thrilling overtime victory 74-72, on DeMya Walker�s last second shot. The Storm quickly recovered from the loss and defeated Sacramento in the final two games, bringing the Monarchs unlikely run to an end in Seattle.

Ultimately, the Monarchs 2004 journey was shorter than what many had hoped for, but it was also more exciting than what most had expected. The season can be a lesson to fans as well as players that big obstacles can be overcome with hard work and the game itself is truly the sweetest reward.