Like engineering disasters, there's never one clear reason for the Indiana Fever's 79-57 blowout of the San Antonio Silver Stars.
In fact, the conflagration of contributing factors make one's first impulse to condemn the game as an aberration, bury the tape and move on.
However, if we get our hands dirty a little and mess around in the wreckage of yesterday's game, we may find a few more clues. Clues not to the game that was, but to the games that will be.
The Sinking San Antonio Silver Stars
Olaf's expression said it all this game. When the Silver Stars "the SS!" played well, they failed to gain ground, when they played poorly, the wheels came off.
It's Becky Hammon's fault
There's no question in my mind that this loss is on Becky Hammon. Although Edwige Lawson-Wade played well in relief, I have no idea how the Silver Stars scored even 57 points without her on the floor. Unfortunately, 57 isn't enough to win a college game, much less a WNBA game. Chamique Holdsclaw got the ball in her hands more and had an on par game. The rest of the team did not, and there was no one to pick up Hammon's slack.
The Silver Star is the third highest medal of valor granted in the US Military. They don't grant it to deserters. Phantom quad issues aside, if there's no MRI twitpic, it's desertion.
Seriously, we hope Becky Hammon gets better and I hope my electronic hate had nothing to do with her choice to sit out of the Fever game and deprive Indiana fans of her great potpourri of playmaking.
Weak Rebounding and a Lack of Physical Play
"We were outworked, outplayed" - Young
Despite blaming this loss on Becky Hammon, I find it very hard to blame her for her team's inability to rebound, try as I might. Super Star Cult Figure PG Becky Hammon's limping in Seattle's game and absence in this game may explain the SS' low scoring, (56 and 57 points, respectively), but it doesn't excuse the inability of the Silver Stars to rebound. The Silver Stars were outrebounded 38-27. As a team, they share the distinction with the Tulsa Shock of having the worst rebounding differential in the league, both at -5.
The total rebounding differential depends on the possible number of defensive or offensive rebounds available, so this differential may simply indicate fewer available defensive rebounds. As an indication of aggressive, physical play, consider the offensive rebounding. The Fever pulled down 14 of 37 (38%) possible offensive rebounds. The Silver Stars only managed 6 of 33 (18%) possible offensive rebounds.
No matter how I try, I can't pin that on PG Becky Hammon.
What's next for the Silver Stars
The shocking thing for the SS was that 57 isn't their lowest score this season. With Becky Hammon limping, they only put up 56 against the Seattle Storm the game before.
Now at 2-4, the prognosis is just awful. It's not just that the team is 2-4, but how the team got to 2-4 and what lies ahead in the near future. The team has already lost 3, three, THREE home games. Those are heartbreakers.
Now with Hammon out with a lingering injury that has bothered her since the preseason (read: could be a while before she comes back), in the next 5 games, the SS face the following:
6/6 @Connecticut (Two Connecticut Sun scouts were at the game tonight. I looked a one of the notebooks and it said "We should start Kerri Gardin and Asjha Jones...Silver Stars broken")
6/11 Tulsa (this home game represents the Silver Stars best hope of win)
6/13 @Altana, 6/18 @Phoenix 6/20 @Seattle - ouch!
The SS could easily come out of this 3-8.
it's a disaster that will only be weathered by the fact that the SS have an owner that loves them and an NBA franchise that supports them (Spurs Guard George Hill was at last night's game, Tony Parker's made it to a home game).
Bob Corwin sitting next to me said Jayne Appel's face up 3-pointer near the end of the game was the only positive thing he saw in the game for the Silver Stars. Appel also committed four turnovers and several rookie fouls on her way to 7 points on perfect shooting in 12 minutes of play. Her ability to shot the outside jumper may help her WNBA game....
The Fever's Falcon Punch
Three stories stand out for the Fever. First, the return of Katie Douglas' offensive form. Second, the ongoing auditions for bench roles, starring new Fever guard Shavonte Zellous. Finally a shout-out to Jessica Davenport for some big plays.
Here's Indiana Fever Coach Lin Dunn's postgame presser.
155 seconds - 100603 Dunn Stars 57 Fever 79.AVI (via samjames009)
- Coach talks about how nice it was to have Katie Douglas put up 22 points
- Talks about Shavonte Zellous' play
- Unfortunately, I didn't get in a question about Zellous' shot-selection (Z was 1-8 from the field)
"Katie Douglas finally has shaken off her jet lag." - Cliff Brunt
After much hand-wringing over Katie Douglas slow start this year, the Indiana Fever's primary scoring option Douglas put up 22 points on 9 of 12 shooting (3 of 5 from 3), easily eclipsing her prior season high of 13 points.
- Says having ball in her hands more has helped (she's the backup PG while Briann January is out)
- Has some swelling in her thumb
Katie Douglas is a great defender, so when she can also light it up offensively, she can will the game. In this one, those contributions on both sides of the ball came together for a godlike +28 plus/minus.
Shavonte Zellous gets to the line
Shavonte Zellous is getting the chance to prove she can help the Fever this year. She got 24 minutes in this game, including some time at the point, flanked by Shay Murphy and Jene Morris with Jessica Moore and Jessica Davenport up front. I like that lineup a lot.
Incomprehensibly, Zellous was unable to improve on her abominable season-long 16% shooting average. She shot 1-8! That's 12.5%! Yikes!
At the same time, she did manage getting to the line a Fever season-high 9 times (made 8 of 9) and did enough good things (10 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 crazy block) to earn praise from the coach.
I guess I knew Shavonte Zellous might be a big story this game, so I talked to her in the pregame shootaround about her first week with the Fever.
- Zellous talks about her first week with the Fever
- Coaches told her to be aggressive
- Unlike the Detroit and Indiana offenses with set plays, the Tulsa offense is "BamBamBamBam".
Following the game, the press corps caught up with Shavonte Zellous:
Jessica Davenport puts on her Kobe
- Davs scored 11 points in 8 minutes. She played a total of 18 minutes and finished 4 of 9 shooting. Her scoring was fantastic in the first half, hitting almost everything on an array of shots.
- One of the features of the small lineup (which starts Shay Murphy in place of Ebony Hoffman) is that it pushes Jessicas Davenport and Moore back in the rotation, behind Ebony Hoffman. Perhaps this game Jessica Davenport was making a statement that she wanted to play.
Briann January Injury Update
- Sprained medial collateral ligament in her right knee is actually a small tear
- Does not require surgery will heal on its own
- Despite reports of expected return being a week to 10 days, it may actually be longer, two to four weeks.
Tully Bevilaqua gets the final say....