WNBA Opals: playoff update

WNBA Opals: playoff update

Seven Australian Opals suited up in the WNBA this season and after one round of the playoffs only three remain…

Knocked out in first round

The Seattle Storm were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round 2-1 by the Los Angeles Sparks but it was through no fault of Sydney’s Suzy Batkovic-Brown. The Olympian was outstanding in Game 1 with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting including 3-of-4 three pointers with 7 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks in the 63-70 defeat. She played 30 minutes off the bench and finished with 14 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals and a game high 3 blocks as Seattle leapfrogged LA 75-74 in Game 2 and she scored 8 points on 3-of-10 shooting including 2-of-6 three pointers with 1 rebound and 2 blocks in a 64-75 defeat in the third and deciding game. With form like that, she will start the 2009/10 WNBL season as the dominant centre in the league for the Sydney Uni Flames.

Advances to Eastern Conference Finals

With 22 wins and 12 losses in the regular season, Indiana romped into the playoffs with the best record in the East. Tully was the starting point guard in 32 of those games and ranked 8th in steals in the league and a prestigious 3rd in steals to turnover ratio. Her Indiana Fever stomped on the Washington Mystics in Game 1 of the playoffs with Tully registering 5 points, 3 assists and 3 steals in the 88-79 victory before taking game 2 in overtime on Sunday, 81-74. Tully scored 13 points with 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals in the series clincher, including a big three in the extra period. Next up for the Fever is the reigning champion Detroit Shock, who knocked off Chicago 2-0 in the first round, for the Eastern Conference crown. Tully has championship winning experience (with Seattle in 2004) and has now played 330 games in the WNBA. Is the Shock in for a shock?

KRISTI HARROWER – Los Angeles Sparks
Advances to Western Conference Finals

There had to be a winner from the Seattle Storm – Los Angeles Sparks showdown and it was three-time Olympian Kristi Harrower, who advanced to the Western Conference finals with the Sparks 2-1 winners. Kristi scored 7 points on 3-of-5 shooting with an equal game high five assists to go with 2 steals in a 70-63 home victory in Game 1. She had 2 points and 1 assists in a quiet game 2 that LA lost by one point, 75-74, and in game 3 she went scoreless on zero attempts with 2 assists in eight minutes on court. Kristi will go up against Opals team mate Penny Taylor when the Sparks play the Mercury in the Western Conference Finals. Fingers crossed that Bendigo can get Kristi’s signature on a new WNBL contract; she is almost irreplaceable.

LAUREN JACKSON – Seattle Storm
Knocked out in first round

The three-time Olympian and two-time WNBA Most Valuable Player was unable to take the court in the postseason and has not played since August 30 when she was diagnosed with a stress fracture in her back. Would the result of the Seattle-Los Angeles series been different if a fully fit Jackson was on the court? You better believe it.

ERIN PHILLIPS – Connecticut Sun
Failed to make playoffs

Despite finishing with a 16 win-18 loss record, the same as the Washington Mystics, Erin’s Connecticut Sun just  missed out on a playoff berth. Dogged by injuries all year, it is the first time in the Sun’s seven year history that they failed to make the post season. Erin averaged 8.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists across 32 games this season, equaling her career highs in points (19), three-point field goals made in game (4) and assists (7) while setting a new career high in steals (5).

BELINDA SNELL – San Antonio Silver Stars
Knocked out in first round

After three seasons and one WNBA Championship with the Phoenix Mercury, Belinda moved to San Antonio where she has come off the bench for the Silver Stars to great effect. She registered career highs in points (21) and steals (4) against her old team on June 23 but did not see court time in Game 1 of the playoffs, where San Antonio held off the Mercury for a one point win, 92-91. Snelly played just under seven minutes in game 2, registering 2 rebounds and 1 assists, as Phoenix tied up the series 1-1 with a commanding 106-78 victory and she did not see court time in game 3 as Phoenix closed out San Antonio with a 100-92 victory. No wonder the Silver Stars lost!

PENNY TAYLOR – Phoenix Mercury
Advances to Western Conference Finals

Penny began play midway through the season after recovering from injury and helped propel Phoenix to the best record in the league (23-11). She ranked an unrivalled 1st in points per 40 minutes, 2nd in assists per 40 minutes, 1st in the league in assists to turnover ratio, 1st in the league in three-point percentage, 1st in free throw percentage and 1st in the league in efficiency per 40 minutes – an amazing effort. Penny top scored for Phoenix in game 1 with 18 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists in 25 minutes off the bench but the Silver Stars got the win when Becky Hammon held her nerve at the line for a 92-91 victory. In Game 2, Penny came off the bench with a decisive 14 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists in 17 minutes of play as the Mercury tied the series 1-1 with a 106-78 victory. In game 3 Penny again starred for the Mercury off the bench with 11 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists in 24 minutes of play as Phoenix downed San Antonio 100-92 to advance to the Western Conference finals against Los Angeles. Phoenix won the title in 2007 and are looking good for another shot at it in 2009.

Images courtesy of wnba.com
Story by Bill Baxter