A midseason switcheroo between the Atlanta Dream and the Connecticut Sun is shaking out nicely for both teams so far. Since the July 9 swap that sent Layshia Clarendon to Connecticut and Alex Bentley to Atlanta, the Dream have secured big wins over the Washington Mystics and the Indiana Fever.
Meanwhile, the Sun dropped a game to the New York Liberty on July 11 but regained their stride behind the return of Alyssa Thomas from injury, defeating the Phoenix Mercury last night at home, 91-87.
But the Sun’s narrow margin of victory is misleading, as this was not a close game and Connecticut resoundingly outplayed Phoenix all night. The Mercury, as championship teams are prone to do, found a way to claw their way back into the game to give themselves a chance to win. But it turned out to be too little too late against a Sun team looking to snap a losing streak and reassert some dominance.
When Chiney Ogwumike fouled out late in the game, the Mercury attempted to seize the opportunity presented by her absence. Diana Taurasi made some big plays that gave Phoenix a chance, but her 28 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 1 steal were not enough — not even with Brittney Griner and DeWanna Bonner also scoring in double figures and Angel Robinson scoring 10 points and grabbing 7 rebounds off the bench.
Since Sancho Lyttle went down on June 30 against the Mystics, a game Phoenix won, the Mercury claimed victory on July 5 against a pre-Clarendon-for-Bentley-swap Sun team, in a game that Alyssa Thomas also missed due to injury. But it has been a three-game losing skid ever since, including a July 10 blowout by the Wings in Dallas.
So, since midseason roster moves are showing great benefit to other teams, it is fair to ask what Sandy Brondello and the Phoenix organization have in mind. Lyttle has rightfully been considered a defensive specialist throughout her career and, as Taurasi pointed out in the preseason, Lyttle is known for guarding all five players in a given possession. Without her broad defensive coverage, the Mercury look thin, and vulnerable, with no single player able thus far to fill the gaping defensive hole that appeared the minute Lyttle headed to the locker room on June 30.
Lyttle was no slouch on offense either, though — averaging just shy of 8 points per game during the 2018 season and dropping a season-high 20 points against the LA Sparks in May and a double-double (12 points and 10 rebounds) in a win against the Wings on June 12.
In last night’s losing effort, however, Camille Little, who has entered the starting lineup in Lyttle’s absence, scored 4 points and grabbed 3 rebounds and Briann January scored 3 points and dished 2 assists. Leilani Mitchell went scoreless on the night and dished two assists.
With the depth created by Sancho Lyttle’s do-all style of basketball now gone, it seems to be a great time for Brondello to make some moves. Any defensive stalwarts in need of a seven-day deal — or just someone with size?
The Mercury are now second in the standings: one win and two losses behind the Seattle Storm, but with the Mystics, Wings, Sparks and Minnesota Lynx in hot pursuit.
On July 11, the Sky signed Amber Harris to a seven-day contract and on July 12 the Minnesota Lynx signed Erlana Larkins to a similar deal.
As of July 11, the Atlanta Dream have seconded Alexis Prince’s seven-day contract for another week and the Chicago Sky have done the same for Linnae Harper.
Lynx scratch deal with Papa John’s
After Swish Appeal’s Thursday July 12 article on the Minnesota Lynx’s sponsorship deal with Papa John’s in the wake of the company’s founder using a racial slur during a conference call, the Lynx organization has decided to call a timeout. In a statement to Swish Appeal, the Minnesota Lynx reported that they “have suspended all current promotions with Papa John’s and will continue to evaluate the direction of their company in light of recent events.”
WNBA All-Star coaches will be ...
No drum roll needed: Seattle Storm’s Dan Hughes and Phoenix Mercury’s Sandy Brondello.
Under the revamped rules, this means a player from each of those teams came in first or second in the voting. According to the WNBA press release, “The two All-Stars who receive the highest overall vote totals will serve as team captains and draft their respective rosters from the remaining pool of 20 All-Stars.”
About last night in the league
Two blowouts started the evening, but two tight contests finished. Here’s a recap by Albert Lee.
The Sun-Mercury and Aces-Lynx matchups were thrillers that should have been nationally televised.
Next up in the WNBA ...
In the single WNBA game on Saturday, the Wings take on the Storm in Seattle.
Stay tuned for a preview.
Imani McGee-Stafford is all hustle and flow.
Can we slo-mo for the way my hair is flowing on that sprint back? https://t.co/OpUMTzj5vi— Imani McGee-Stafford (@imanitrishawn_) July 14, 2018
Liz Cambage suffers the consequences.
anybody want to be my sugadaddy and pay my WNBA fines? I’m down $2000 :’(— Elizabeth Cambage (@ecambage) July 14, 2018
FanDuel offers a week of free play!
- Fox Sports Arizona picks up additional Mercury game (Sunday July 15) in what should be a awake up call to ALL local sports media.
- New York Liberty to host Unity Weekend and anyone in the New York area should show their support for the WNBA, for women doing great things, for unity and for peace and for equality.
- Pat Borzi discusses the logjam at the top of the league.
- Cappie Pondexter is age 35, making an impact on her new team and showing that age ain’t nothing but a number.
- “A’ja has been a very special child,” said Roscoe Wilson. And this is a tender-hearted must-read.
- A Chelsea Gray feature in The Undefeated, and anything Chelsea Gray is a worthy read.
- The Lynx work on the details in a quest for “balanced, consistent play.” After the team was beaten by the upstart Aces on Friday night, the journey continues ...
- Pacers Sport & Entertainment have announced the formation of a local organizing committee for the 2021 NBA All-Star Game, which will take place on Valentine’s Day of that year. Hopefully a gaggle of Fever players will be a part of the show.
- Michelle Smith goes “Inside the W” to ask if this is the best WNBA season in the history of the league. From someone who has been watching WNBA games since the very first game in 1996 —YES! Hands down, no question.
- Sharon Brown of All Heart in Hoop City checked in with David Aldridge about the NBA’s offseason transactions.
- Kia Nurse had a standout 34-point game earlier this season for the Liberty, but she has not been able to dominate like some of the other rookies in the league. In her rookie diary, Nurse discusses her transition from college to the pros.
- SLAM magazine recognizes the “absurd greatness” of Maya Moore, several years after she already was great. Late to the party and thinking they’re on time.
- ICYMI: Maya Moore received the June WNBA Cares Community Assist Award because she likes to win both on and off the court. And Tina Charles was named the winner of the 2018 Mannie Jackson Basketball’s Human Spirit Award, which is so many levels of awesome.
- Nylon Calculus did the math on WNBA players creating the most open shots. Basketball math is the best kind.
How to #WatchThemWork all season
Shine brighter. * flicker flicker *