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Monday morning links: Seattle shows character against the Mercury, Skylar Diggins off to a rough start, Minnesota no longer an 'afterthought'

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It's WNBA season, which means we're going to get back to doing links more regularly on days after games are played. As explained last season, this is not an exhaustive list but a quick review of the action from the weekend highlighting those articles that reflected some of the observations I made when looking at the stats.

USA TODAY Sports

Among the most highly-touted rookie classes in league history was understandably the story of opening weekend in the WNBA.

After watching this past weekend's games, an old Public Enema Enemy song came to mind.

Random mental jukebox selection I'm sure.

Anyway, on to the links, starting with the good news from opening weekend and then breaking down the hype as necessary.

  • Paulsen of Sports Media Watch put he WNBA's impressive ratings for its opening weekend doubleheader on ESPN2 in perspective with two comparisons: the audience was larger than that for the MLS season opener and it was the largest audience for a WNBA regular season game on ESPN2 since Diana Taurasi's debut in 2004. Paulsen notes that Griner's debut might have drawn a larger audience had the game been aired on broadcast television and the ESPN2 telecast not been delayed. Read more >>>
  • Aaron Lommers of The Herald had a quote from Brian Agler that seems like a good starting point for this past weekend's action and reflects the general sentiment among the regulars at Swish Appeal about the Three To See campaign: "I think probably unfairly to (Griner) and people like Elena Della Donne and Skylar Diggins, they received so much publicity coming into our league," Storm head coach Brian Agler said. "Which I understand why. They received a lot of it in college and they’re popular players. They played well and had great careers. But when you are in college you play against players that are 18-22 years old. You get in our league and no one graduates. These players just stay and get better and they get better and they get better." Read more >>>
  • Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times highlighted the character the blue collar Seattle Storm showed in beating a Phoenix Mercury full of stars last night. While Tanisha Wright was the individual embodiment of that in accounting for 41.3% of the team's overall valuable contributions, the team's dominant rebounding performance leaps off the page: in a game where the Storm made more shots than they missed, they demolished the Mercury on the offensive boards by a rate of 23.33% to just 5.71%. That's a major commitment to defensive rebounding against a team that shot 40.6%. Read more >>>
  • Shannon Ryan of the Chicago Tribune writes that Skylar Diggins' "homecoming" yesterday was spoiled (with a video that captures the rookie's frustration well) by a Chicago Sky team that is off to their best start in franchise history at 3-0. Sky coach Pokey Chatman highlighted the play of Tamera Young, who gave the team defensive options but she was impressive statistically as well: in addition to her scoring performance, Young's 7 rebounds in 22 minutes was good for a total rebounding percentage of 19.5%. Read more >>>
  • Sarah Trotto of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote that Chicago Sky center Sylvia Fowles is "ready to dominate" after struggling through injuries last season. Fowles said she made a promise to herself that she would be more aggressive this season and that has to be music to the ears of Sky fans, especially when she turns in the kind of performance she did on Saturday: her first career 20-20 game. Read more >>>
  • Tom Powers of the Pioneer Press described how all the hype surrounding the Phoenix Mercury entering the 2013 WNBA season has rendered the Minnesota Lynx as an afterthought. But, as Powers wrote, "...they looked awfully good in their opener..." on Saturday and "We know the sports networks all will be here Thursday -- to see Griner and the Mercury. That makes a convenient platform for the Lynx to begin rearranging the league's pecking order." Read more >>>
  • Patrick Reusse of the Minneapolis Star Tribune noted that Janel McCarville's presence didn't show up in the boxscore in her first game reunited with Lindsay Whalen, which is true. But one stat was impressive: with 3 assists and 1 turnover in 20 minutes, she had a pure point rating of 5.00. If you can get anywhere near that sort of efficiency from your center over the course of a season, you're in good shape. Read more >>>
  • Also, by request from Shannon, Maya Moore's shot chart from Saturday. Turns out she didn't exactly score from everywhere, but - all things considered - is it really such a bad thing that she didn't really score from the right side of the court?

Mayamoore_2013opener_sc_medium
Maya Moore's shot chart against the Connecticut Sun on Saturday.

  • Terrence Thomas of the San Antonio Express-News reports that San Antonio Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes has told Shenise Johnson to be more aggressive this season with their two stars out due to injury. In the Silver Stars' win against the L.A. Sparks on Saturday, she showed what had people mentioning her as a potential lottery pick in the 2012 WNBA Draft: in addition to scoring a game-high 19 points, her 5 defensive rebounds amounted to a 23.31% defensive rebounding percentage. Read more >>>
  • Mark Giannotto of the Washington Post reported that Washington Mystics coach Mike Thibault said that the Atlanta Dream are not a great jump shooting team and coincidentally that was highlighted in one of the quirkier stats of the weekend: both the Dream and Mystics shot exactly 39.13% from the field in yesterday's opener at the Verizon Center. But the Dream won the game by controlling every other area of the game. And while turnovers definitely stood out, the Dream established a significant advantage on the offensive boards as well beating the Mystics 16-12. Read more >>>
  • David Woods of the Indianapolis Star recapped how the Atlanta Dream spoiled the Indiana Fever's 2012 championship celebration on Friday night. In the video interview at the top of the article, Katie Douglas said that all the "hoopla" before the game might have been part of the problem. Read more >>>
  • TruthClarity posted a fan shot of a Fairfax Times article by Nick Ellerson about Jasmine Thomas' transition from the Washington Mystics to the Atlanta Dream, which is worth your time to read. I bring it up here to note how well the Dream's backcourt of Thomas and rookie Alex Bentley has performed: this weekend they combined for 15 assists and 2 turnovers, including a 6 assist and no turnover game from Bentley against the Fever. We might not be talking about either as the best point guards in the league at the end of the season, but efficiency and speed will probably work for the Dream. Read more >>>
  • Helen of the Women's Hoops Blog offered an extended point-by-point response to Sally Jenkins' article about women's college basketball facing decline (which James has previously summarized here). Both offer something worth thinking about to the conversation about women's basketball and are worth reading in tandem. Read more >>>

As another reminder, there are obviously other links out there that I missed so feel free to dump them in the comments below along with all of your other colorful insights. But if you feel a really long comment coming on, may I suggest a fan post where we can promote your thoughts to the front page after others "rec" it (note how I'm assuming your brilliance) and it will be easier to find later. If you find links that you think we'd all benefit from between now and Wednesday, feel free to create a fan shot and I'll add it to our next links post (Thursday morning) as I did with TruthClarity's.

In any event, Happy Monday.