When it was announce that the U.S. Senior National team would play against a team of WNBA stars in lieu of a regular WNBA All-Star game this year, the idea wasn't greeted with the most enthusiastic responses.
This style game when held previously, at Radio City Music Hall, has become known more for the spectacle of having basketball at Radio City, as the game itself was pretty much a blowout for the US team. Add in the fact it was the second consecutive year the WNBA's All Stars would be in Connecticut at Mohegan Sun Arena, and there was not a lot of buzz. So what would be different this time?
The league did something to generate excitement though; they instituted a fan voting system that not only allowed the rabid WNBA fan to participate by choosing the top 10 players guaranteed to play in this game, but it eliminated the biggest weakness in previous balloting, the misclassifying of player positions. Plus, this year international players would be around, so Lauren Jackson, Penny Taylor and Becky Hammon (yes, she is an international player), would all be eligible to play against the USA team. I, for one, was legitimately interested in this process.
Of course, I'm one of those people that believes an all star game is for, um, all stars. I used to vote for players from the Padres or Brewers if they deserved it in my opinion, not just my favorite Yankees or Mets. Heck, I'd even vote for a Red Sox player if they deserved it! So I dutifully submitted my ballot for the WNBA every day, checking off people like Monique Currie and Angel McCoughtry, not just members of the Connecticut Sun, or UConn alum.
It appears I'm in the minority. Congratulations San Antonio, you stuffed the box. You got four players in The Stars at the Sun game. There's a couple of teensy problems with this though.
1. One, and maybe two players didn't deserve to be there based on their on court performance. No offense to either Jayne Appel or Michelle Snow, but Erika de Souza, Sancho Lyttle, and Rebekkah Brunson are all post players that one can argue should be in the game.
2. The game is NOT IN SAN ANTONIO! I know you want to see your players. So sell out your home games! Go see them there! Why does everyone that comes to Connecticut to see the 22 best players available have to see your starting five? I mean, come on, you all even voted for Appel and Snow ahead of your own stud, Sophia Young! Priorities, people, priorities!
Oh well, it is what it is, and thankfully my fellow fans get the rest of the Top 10 right. Sue Bird and Becky Hammon will face off as point guards, and the National team had Diana Taurasi, Tamika Catchings, Swin Cash, and the injured Candace Parker voted in. The WNBA All-Stars will add Lauren Jackson to the four San Antonio players. With Parker being out, that will leave 7 people to be added to the US National team. With 11 player teams, only 6 addtional WNBA players can be added. You can argue, especially on the All Stars side, that the roster size should have been a little bigger, because someone is going to get left out for sure.
Looking at the remaining members of the USA National team pool (http://www.usabasketball.com/womens/national/roster.html), there are some obvious choices. Bird is a guard, Taurasi a guard/forward, and Catchings & Cash both forwards. So start by adding the two centers: Sylvia Fowles and Tina Charles. With only Bird, we better add Cappie Pondexter and, despite her injury plagued season, Seimone Augustus. At the forward spots, Angel McCaughtry is a lock, so there's 5 of our 7 picks. With only two left, I'll leave it to those smarter than me to decide whether guards Lindsey Harding, Kara Lawson, Lindsay Whalen or Renee Montgomery, or forward Candice Dupree are better additions.
The WNBA All-Stars is made tougher by the fact there are already the two centers. Young and Jackson are both forwards, and Hammon a guard. Unfortunately, the best of the All Stars not selected also are forwards and centers. Penny Taylor should be a lock, as well as Langhorne. There's 4 forwards. As mentioned, Lyttle, de Souza, and Brunson all deserve consideration. I say pick one more post. Guard is more of a problem. Overall, guard play isn't that strong in the league this year, and the national team has most of them. Katie Douglas is needed. Monique Currie is a guard/forward who has had a great season. Izi Castro Marques has put up big numbers too, and Tanisha Wright has been so steady. Temeka Johnson might be a good addition, as no one else puts pressure on the opponent's guard like she can. With all these options, I won't attempt a guess on the remainder, but I will say it could be kind of fun to see Katie Smith and Tina Thompson play against the National team instead of on it!
So there you have it. The results are in, and hopefully with additional players such as Taylor, Fowles, Charles, Ponedexter, Langhorne, and Douglas we'll see a good game.
If nothing else, let's give props to the WNBA office for trying something different with the fan voting in this fashion, and trying to keep the fans involved.