Today we continue to reflect on 2014 by looking at some of the best articles on our site as selected by the staff, which includes both Swish Appeal writers and the SB Nation national team that selects the Best of SB Nation articles.
A quick summary of more of the biggest/best articles from throughout the season organized by category.
The NCAA season
UConn won again, Breanna Stewart is awfully good (though Jewell Loyd is too), and Auriemma still doesn't care about what anyone else thinks of him - fittingly, the most popular story from the 2014 NCAA tournament involved Geno Auriemma saying, "Sometimes we act like girls."
Do you really need more of a summary than that? Maybe not, but I do want to take a moment to give Ray Floriani a specific shout-out: Ray covers sixth grade AAU ball with the same passion he covers a NCAA conference tournament game and I absolutely love that. In a convenient bit of synergy with Mike's work on Daisha Simmons, Ray was out ahead of currently-ranked Seton's Hall emergence as a national force to be reckoned with and did a great job describing how Tony Bozzella planted to seeds to take that leap last season.
Top NCAA stories:
6'9" Nancy Mulkey commits to Oklahoma - Most popular fanshot (Mike Robinson)
- Simmons refutes rumor that UA was unaware of family issues - Best of SB Nation (Mike Robinson)
- Daisha Simmons and the rights of student-athletes - Best of SB Nation (Mike Robinson)
- Notre Dame's Muffet McGraw and UConn's Geno Auriemma trade barbs at press conferences - Most popular NCAA tournament story (Albert Lee)
- Tennessee wins their version of "Dancing with the Stars", claims SEC Championship - Staff pick (Mike Robinson)
- Seton Hall's turnaround season - Staff pick (Ray Floriani)
The 2014 WNBA Draft
The single most popular event on this site has become the WNBA Draft and -- in case you haven't noticed -- it has become my favorite thing to cover for the site (and don't worry -- plenty of 2015 WNBA Draft coverage is forthcoming).
Chiney Ogwumike was the clear choice as the #1 pick this year, but (as described yesterday) Shoni Schimmel probably became the most fascinating.
Yet arguably the most interesting thing about the draft wasn't the players selected but the trades: both the New York Liberty and Seattle Storm took gambles by trading youth for veterans; both the Liberty and Storm ended up in the lottery. That puts the Sun in the unique position of almost having too much young talent on their roster with two more lottery picks to make this year. Overall, you might see the Mystics as the team that emerged as the big winners from the draft, freeing up Emma Meesseman to have an All-Star caliber year without Crystal Langhorne around.
But if nothing else, the 2014 draft was a good reminder of how important "fit" is: a number of players with suspect numbers had one skill that a team just needed which helped them make a roster (e.g. Jamierra Faulkner, Maggie Lucas, and Theresa Plaisance). The long-term is always more important, but I think we could end up looking back on the 2015 draft in a similar light: there isn't a talent anywhere near that of Ogwumike, but teams with an eye on fit might be able to identify some contributors.
Top WNBA Draft stories:
- The 2014 WNBA Draft day tracker (Draft junkie named Nate)
- Chiney Ogwumike's winning character shaped by relationship with sister Nneka - Staff pick (Aaron Fischman)
- Why Shoni Schimmel's pro potential is so difficult to project - Most popular actual draft story (Draft junkie named Nate)
The 2014 WNBA season
As we're under SB Nation's NBA umbrella, there should be no mistaking that this was always a WNBA site first though we're more practically a college site given the way realities of the women's basketball world. But I really had mixed feelings about this past WNBA season that I feel Mike articulated best: before that Western Conference Finals matchup between ... wait, what was that thing Lindsay Whalen did again? GoOd heavens...
Ok, what was I saying?
Well, Phoenix won it all, the Minnesota Lynx probably would've won it all in just about any year without a historically dominant team crossing their path, and good job, good effort to everyone else (unless your owner and many discerning fans thought that your effort was so bad that your coach got fired in which case you should just try again next year).
It's impossible to discuss the 2014 season without making note of Brittney Griner, who not only played outstanding basketball but also emerged as an icon in the LGBT community - Outsports recently recognized her as the LGBT Female Athlete of the Year for the combination of what she did on and off the court this past year. Not only did Griner finally meet the expectations people had for her when
Phoenix tanked she was drafted, but she has also probably had a bigger impact off the court than anyone imagined. Phoenix fans have plenty to be excited about for 2015.
But I think the fans I probably feel the worst for are the New York Liberty fans, whose team went all-in at the beginning of the 2014 season by mortgaging their future in exchange for Tina Charles and then proceeded to miss the playoffs, fire their coach and have their owner rumored to sell the team. Through it all, our resident New York Liberty lifer Queenie does an excellent job covering the ups and downs of their season and many college teams (Dear Iona: I'd love to have a boatload of photos so I don't have to keep using this guy when Queenie writes about your team...like ever again. Thanks!). I am always appreciative of her for joining me from the get-go to launch Swish Appeal five years (!!!) ago and making her NCAA Tournament Dance Cards an annual tradition that I love finding photos for.
Top stories from the WNBA season:
- Brittney Griner makes a two-handed slam - Most popular WNBA Playoffs story (Albert Lee)
- Penny Taylor's quietly valuable contributions to the Phoenix Mercury - Best of SB Nation (Nate P.)
- How the Chicago Sky survived to make the WNBA Finals - Best of SB Nation (Nate P.)
- Phoenix Mercury's Brittney Griner will be center of attention against Minnesota Lynx - Best of SB Nation (Nate P.)
- Chicago Sky's Allie Quigley discusses series with Atlanta Dream, winning WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year - Staff pick (Sherron Shabazz)
- Who are the WNBA's top five point guards? - Best of SB Nation (Nate P.)
- Becky Hammon & the NBA's coaching revolution - Best of SB Nation (Nate P.)
- Latta leads Washington over New York - Staff pick (Queenie)
- How have the Shock managed to win four straight? - Best of SB Nation (Nate P.)
- Interview with Dream GM Angela Taylor, Part II - Best of SB Nation (James Bowman)
Feel free to share your thoughts on the top stories of the year by dropping your thoughts in the comments and sharing the best writing you saw from here or elsewhere.