San Antonio Stars at the Halfway Point (In Depth Review)

*Note – The Stars have played 19 games (more than half of their games) and with the Stars off until Wednesday after a busy week in which they played every other day, it was time to update on how the Stars are performing at the halfway point.

With the San Antonio Stars having played more than half of their games in the 34 game season, it is time to do a review on their first half of their season. It’s also time to take a look at how Stars players have played in the first half as well. The Stars are currently in 3rd place in the Western Conference with a record of 10-9. They are 3-5 at home and 7-4 on the road.  Taking a look back at the season preview, I expected the Stars to have a better season than last year simply because of the return of WNBA All Stars Becky Hammon and Sophia Young-Malcolm. What I didn’t expect was to see how well the Stars have played so far. Even though their record is one game above .500, they’ve been playing well in most of their games.

In an interesting twist, only Danielle Robinson has increased her scoring average from last season or from previous seasons (Hammon & Young-Malcolm). So, despite the better record, it isn’t reflected of players individual stats. The Stars are truly playing team ball and this proves it.

TEAM PLAY

If you take a look at the WNBA Standings, you will find something very unique this season. The Stars are one of FOUR teams to have a winning record (Atlanta Dream, Phoenix Mercury and Minnesota Lynx are the others) and the Stars have gone 1-7 against them. They were swept by the Atlanta Dream, split with the Phoenix Mercury so far and have lost three games against Minnesota. On the contrary, the two games against Atlanta were very close and could have went easily the other way. This shows the Stars are not elite or championship level. It does show that they are a playoff team as they are 9-3 against the rest of the teams. The Stars home and road splits are also interesting. It’s very rare to see teams to do so poorly at home but at the same time play well on the road. Taking a closer look at the home record (3-5) they’ve only played one close game (a two point loss to Atlanta) and they’ve lost by more than 7 points in all of their other home losses. Their biggest home loss was in 2 OT to the Phoenix Mercury. In their three wins at home, they’ve won 2 close games against the Tulsa Shock and in a blowout win against the Los Angeles Sparks. In all 5 of their losses at home this season, they’ve struggled and had to figure out ways to come back but in wasted effort. In three wins, the Stars have had the edge and have figured out how to win. The road record (7-4) shows that in the four losses, the Stars were in only one close game (a road loss to Atlanta) while the other three losses were won by more than 7 points. Their biggest road loss was to the Los Angeles Sparks. In their seven wins, they’ve been able to find ways to win close games (5 of their road wins were decided by 5 points or less). Their biggest road win was against the New York Liberty. It shows that the Stars are able to execute and be successful in winning on the road. It also shows that for whatever reason, the same formula hasn’t worked for the Stars at home so far. Considering the fact that the Stars only have six more road games as compared to nine home games, they have to figure out how to win ugly at home as well.

PLAYER ANALYSIS (QUICK THOUGHTS)

Becky Hammon – Becky Hammon is not the same Becky Hammon many Stars fans remember. She has had some vintage Becky nights in where she has led the team in scoring and assists, but for the most part she’s turned into the Stars second PG behind Danielle Robinson. She’s also had some nights in which she was held scoreless which would never happen in previous seasons as a Star. She does lead the team in 3 point shooting and is shooting at a unreal 52%.

Sophia Young – Malcolm – Like Becky Hammon, Sophia Young-Malcolm is not the same All Star Sophia Young. Instead, she’s a shadow of her former self. She’s not all the way there yet but unlike Becky, Sophia is young and she should be able to regain her All Star form next season. However, ever since she’s been moved to the bench in favour of Danielle Adams, she’s been playing better and has improved the team’s bench play.

Kayla McBride – Kayla McBride, the #3 pick in April’s draft is currently third in scoring on the team with 11.2 points per game. She’s had games in which she has shined and has even been able to hit two game winners against Tulsa and Indiana. For a rookie, she has had her rookie moments, has turned the ball over in crucial moments such as the season opener against Atlanta, but for the most part, she’s been one of the Stars consistent players of the first half. She’s a good learner and her potential is super star worthy. Not a WNBA star, but a superstar.

Jayne Appel – Her numbers are down from last season but she has been the Stars only interior defender. She’s had double doubles but she’s also had games in which she had trouble scoring the ball. After a great season last year statistically, she was one of the players I expected would make an even better jump. However, that still hasn’t happened and even though she has played in the WNBA for 5 seasons, she still has moments where she lacks confidence.

Danielle Robinson – Danielle Robinson is the only Star to be All Star worthy this season. Her scoring numbers have increased and she is the Stars go to leader when the Stars are in need of some quick scoring. Her ability to get to the basket is the best in the WNBA and other point guards have trouble guarding her. She has had games in which she’s struggled but they have been few and this is the season where she has officially replaced Becky Hammon as the lead PG.

Jia Perkins – Jia Perkins has been always steady for the Stars off the bench as an offensive and defensive weapon. When the Stars are in need of scoring, she is usually able to deliver. This season, it’s become more prominent as Jia Perkins has put herself out there for consideration as the sixth woman of the year. Jia Perkins remains a good defender and when she and Danielle Robinson are put out there together defensively, they are very good. Unfortunately, Jia Perkins recently was sidelined for a knee injury and hasn’t played in 4 games.

Danielle Adams – Danielle Adams has always been a scorer and that hasn’t changed for her. She still can score, however she still struggles to rebound and is ok defensively. She hasn’t made any major changes to her game and like Jayne Appel, her numbers are down as well.

Shenise Johnson – Shenise Johnson averaged double figures last season and this season, she’s been mostly in and out of the lineup with injury issues. Her numbers have also taken a hit and her play is erratic. She will have very few good games, and other games in which she struggles. It’s hard to make out of what kind of player Shenise Johnson is at this point in her career. She is like Adams ok defensively.

Shameka Christon – Shameka Christon’s value as a player has decreased every year as a Star. She is currently averaging a career low in points and is just relegated to the Stars three point shooter. She can still shoot and when she gets playing time, she is still a good reliable defender.  When she plays well, the Stars benefit and are able to win.

Kayla Alexander – Kayla Alexander has gotten better this season, but is prone to foul trouble. With her limited playing time, she’s gotten better at scoring inside and is shooting 80%+ from the FT line.

Heather Butler – It’s hard to get a read on Heather Butler when she hardly plays, but from a size standpoint, she has trouble shooting over other players. She however, does handle the ball fine in her very limited playing time.

Davellyn Whyte – Davellyn Whyte has barely played this season and will sit out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL.

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That wraps up my thoughts on the Stars season at the half way point. Remember to follow me on Twitter @sastarsblogger as I tweet thoughts on the games going on for the rest of the season.

– Aneela Syed

San Antonio Stars Preview of the 2014 WNBA Season

The San Antonio Silver Stars are heading into their 2014 season with better hopes of making the playoffs now that both stars Becky Hammon and Sophia Young-Malcolm are both healthy. They also received a future WNBA star Kayla McBride in the WNBA Draft. Things are looking up for the season unlike last season in which Sophia Young-Malcolm went down with an ACL injury. Then Becky Hammon went down with an ACL injury. It was not a pretty season at all for the Silver Stars who saw season lows in scoring at multiple points (48 points several times), some blowouts and saw another player Riquana Willams of the Tulsa Shock score 50 points on them. In the end, no matter how gritty the played some games, it was not enough to secure a playoff spot. They finished the season with a 15-19 record. One of the bright spots of the Stars 2013 season was Jayne Appel. She was able to increase both her points per game as well as rebounds per game. She played well enough that she signed a new multi year contract with the Stars.

The San Antonio Stars will have expectations of making the playoffs but all of this hinges on three key areas in which they struggled with last season. Their ability to score, their ability to defend and their ability to rebound. They will have no problem with scoring this season with their top players back. They will need to defend and they will need all of their players to do just that if they want to win games against good Western Conference teams. Rebounding has been a sore area for this team for a while and they will need more from other players excluding Jayne Appel who was one of the league’s top rebounders last season.

While Becky Hammon is healthy, she is at a point in her career where she is looking towards retirement and so the impact of Kayla McBride will be sorely needed. Kayla McBride will most surely struggle as all rookies do but she is an important piece to the Stars future and more will be expected from her next season onwards. Last season, Sophia Young-Malcolm made comments that were hurtful to 50% of the league’s fan base and it will be interesting to see how she is treated from other opposing fans as well as Star fans. On the court, Sophia Young-Malcolm will need to have an MVP type season in order to keep the Stars moving towards the playoffs otherwise they will be headed into the lottery. Danielle Robinson and Danielle Adams will need to continue their development as they enter their 4th seasons in the league. Both players are important and both players are capable of being WNBA All Stars. If both do not play well, it will not bode well this season for the San Antonio Stars. The veterans, Jia Perkins and Shameka Christon must contribute off the bench as there will be times where they will be sorely needed. Shameka Christon has been struggling for a while now, so if she is not able to contribute, I think it’s safe to say she will not back in 2015. Shenise Johnson will be entering her 3rd year and she like Danielle Robinson and Danielle Adams, will have more expected of her. Her play will also determine whether or not the Stars make the playoffs.

The San Antonio Stars have a good lineup of stars, veterans and young players. If they can all stay healthy, play well together and win close games, they will make the playoffs. Star fans should be excited as this season closely resembles 2012, when the Stars played well in the regular season, even though they lost in the first round of the playoffs. If the cards play out right, this can be a fun season for the San Antonio Stars. The Stars start their season on May 16th when they take on the Atlanta Dream.

Game #25 San Antonio Silver Stars vs Indiana Fever Game Day Recap

Danielle Adams
Danielle Adams tries to save the ball from going out of bounds. Danielle had 17 points as San Antonio lost 80-63 to Indiana at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Photo courtesy of Susan J. Wilden of SportsPageMagazine.com

The San Antonio Silver Stars fell to the Indiana Fever by a final score of 80-63. Danielle Adams led the way for SA with 17 points and 9 rebounds. Shavonte Zellous had 20 points for Indiana. The Silver Stars drop to 9-16 on the season and 3-10 on the road. The Silver Stars next opponent is Tulsa on Friday and the good news is that the Stars only have 4 more road games to play this season, including the one on Friday at Tulsa. My game recap is below, along with game observations and notes.

GAME RECAP

Indianapolis

August 21, 2013

The San Antonio Silver Stars were looking to fix their road problems when they came to Indiana as they were 3-9 on the road this season. However, their road troubles continued as Indiana was able to pull out the victory and improve to .500 at home. The Silver Stars are now 3-10 on the road this season. That wasn’t the last of the Silver Star problems. Already short with their best two players, Danielle Robinson didn’t play in the second half as she injured her right knee during the last minutes of the 1st half. Danielle Robinson was leading the WNBA in assists per game with 6.9 and her status is not yet known. The Fever controlled this game thanks largely in part to San Antonio’s 19 turnovers compared to Indiana’s 12. They also managed to keep players in foul trouble making things even more difficult for San Antonio. Indiana led the first quarter by six 19-13 and built on a 22-12 run in the second quarter due to Tamika Catchings scoring 15 points. They built a 41-25 lead at half time. In the third quarter, San Antonio made it interesting when Davellyn White made two threes which cut Indiana’s lead to 44-37. However, IND was able to re take the lead thanks to Shavonte Zellous who was stellar in the second half. She had 20 points in her first game back from a foot injury. San Antonio never recovered and Indiana ran away with the game by a final score of 80-63.

GAME NOTES + OBSERVATIONS

  •  I sure hope Danielle Robinson is ok. The Silver Stars are not just the same without her leadership and her ability to run the team.
  • Chelsea Poppens played in her second game for San Antonio. She had 3 points, and was active offensively. She struggles defensively which is to be expected and I thought she was decent. She still has a long way to go before she becomes a good player.
  • Indiana’s Fever LiveAccess was sharp and the Fever had a decent attendance for a Wednesday evening with 7,416 people. It looked sparse, but full at the same time
  • This was an ugly game for SA. Not worth watching again for San Antonio fans.

Game #21 Minnesota Lynx vs San Antonio Silver Stars Game Recap

Despite a season high 31 points from Danielle Adams the Silver Stars lost to Minnesota 93-80 at the AT&T Center. Photo courtesy of Daniel Clarke Evans/NBAE/Getty Images

Well, at least it was entertaining. The San Antonio Silver Stars lost to the Minnesota Lynx for the fourth time this season and for the first time were swept by another Western Conference opponent. The Silver Stars dropped to 7-14 on the season and below .500 at home while Minnesota wins its 10th straight game and improves to 17-3 on the season.

For more coverage of the game, here’s the official recap with highlights, photos, post game videos, etc.

My game recap is below, along with my usual notes and observations.

GAME RECAP

AUGUST 6TH 2013

SAN ANTONIO

The Silver Stars had played better in the last couple of weeks and had won 3 out of 5 coming into the Minnesota game.  But, the Silver Stars had previously lost to the Minnesota Lynx a couple of nights ago and were handed another defeat losing by a final score of 93-80. The Minnesota Lynx were just too deadly as they shot nearly 57% from the field. Maya Moore had 26 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists while Seimone Augustus and Rebekkah Brunson added 21 and 20 points apiece. Lindsay Whalen who had been playing well for the last month had a double double with 11 points and 10 assists.  The San Antonio Silver Stars were able to play the Minnesota Lynx well enough for 3 and a haf quarters before Minnesota took off and eventually won the game with ease. Danielle Adams was superb as she tried to single handly win the game for the Silver Stars. Danielle Robinson had 8 rebounds and 10 assists while Jia Perkins added 16 points.  Jayne Appel was held to 3 rebounds after nearly averaging 13 a game her previous 4 games. The Silver Stars were swept by the Minnesota Lynx 4-0 and were swept for the first time by an Western Conference opponent. The Silver Stars will now try to regroup as they head into Seattle for an upcoming and rare two game matchup with the Seattle Storm. The Stars are 2-7 on the road this season.

 

NOTES + OBSERVATIONS

  • There was no defence in this game. It was up and down, shoot 3 pointers, get layups, get fouled for 3 point plays. etc. In many ways it was entertaining game between these two teams
  • The Silver Stars kept the game close for the majority of the game which was nice to see and it was much better than their previous two games against the Minnesota Lynx. In game 1 of the series, the Stars were also able to keep it close and so game 4 had a similar feel.
  • The reason why Jayne Appel had 3 rebounds was because the guards and forwards were rebounding the ball instead. Maya Moore had 10 rebounds, Seimone Augustus had 7, Brunson had 6, Robinson had 8, etc. It’s hard to rebound when everyone else is grabbing the ball.
  • Its the Danielles show in 2013. These two 3rd year players are really shining in a year where the Silver Stars are struggling. Danielle Robinson gets better every game and Danielle Adams is getting better with every game she starts in. It’s sort of reminding me of Danielle’s rookie year in 2011 in which she was great and named an All Star after being selected as a third round pick.
  • The Lynx are good. Really good. And I’m glad that the series is over because this entire series has been a mismatch for the Stars and it clearly showed in all four games in which only 2 were competitive
  • Shenise Johnson has been disappointing the last couple of games. She’s disappeared completely. The Stars need her in order to be competitive and hopefully she’s not going through that sophomore slump.
  • Delisha Milton Jones should be back in action soon. I would say in a week or 2 weeks

Game #21 Minnesota Lynx vs San Antonio Silver Stars Game Day Preview

The Silver Stars are back in action as they face the Minnesota Lynx again in a span of 4 days. This is the last and final meeting for both teams and San Antonio will be more than happy to see the Lynx for the last time. The Silver Stars are .500 at home and will look to start a winning streak while Minnesota will be looking to win its tenth straight game. Minnesota has won each of the previous 3 games with ease regardless of the arena.

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS FOR THE MINNESOTA LYNX

PG –  Lindsay Whalen

SG – Seimone Augustus

SF – Maya Moore

PF – Rebekkah Brunson

C – Janel McCarville

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS FOR THE SAN ANTONIO SILVER STARS

PG – Danielle Robinson

SG – Jia Perkins

SF – Shenise Johnson

F/C – Danielle Adams

C – Jayne Appel

THREE KEYS TO THE GAME

1. THE BATTLE OF THE POINT GUARDS – Lindsay Whalen drives the Minnesota Lynx and is one of the best if not the best point guard in the league. Danielle Robinson is becoming one of the elite point guards in this league and a good defender as well. Danielle needs to make sure Lindsay Whalen keeps from penetrating and making sure that Lindsay has a tough time not only with her shot but from making plays for others too. It’s quite the difficult task, but if Danielle can do it, the Silver Stars have a shot of winning the game.

2. KEEP THE GAME CLOSE – Minnesota usually runs away with the game pretty quickly when the Silver Stars fail to score or have a hard time scoring. They need to make sure that this game is not a blowout and keep it pretty close. They need to compete for the whole 40 minutes.

3. CONTRIBUTE –   The Silver Stars need everyone to contribute regardless of scoring. They need to set good screens, rebound, pass the ball, look for the open shot, help their team mate etc. They need all 9 players to make an impact otherwise Minnesota will have swept the four game series.

The game will be on LiveAccess. Tip off is set for 7 pm local time, 8 pm eastern and 5 pm pacific time.

 

Game #20 San Antonio Silver Stars vs Tulsa Shock Game Recap

Jayne Appel goes in for a layup against Elizabeth Cambage. San Antonio won against Tulsa 69 – 65 at the AT&T Center. Photo courtesy of Daniel Clarke Evans, NBAE/Getty Images

Well, that was some kind of game wasn’t it? I’m just happy that the game is over. San Antonio won its 7th game and are now tied with Tulsa in terms of wins. Because Tulsa has played 2 more games and have lost both of them, San Antonio moves ahead into 5th place. San Antonio is now 5-5 at home.  The game recap is below, followed by the usual notes and observations from the game.

GAME RECAP

ANEELA KHAN

SAN ANTONIO – AUGUST 4TH 2013

Coming into this game, San Antonio suffered another blow out loss to Minnesota on the road. After having one of the worst road records in the WNBA, San Antonio was looking forward to playing at the AT&T Center.  The Silver Stars were able to hang on and win against Tulsa, one of their key playoff rivals and win just their seventh game of this season.  The Silver Stars were led by Danielle Robinson who had 19 points and 9 assists, Jia Perkins who had 18 points but it was Jayne Appel’s performance that ultimately gave the Silver Stars the win.  The game started off with Tulsa scoring the first 5 points before San Antonio went on a 10 – 0 run.  San Antonio was up by the end of the 1st quarter 22- 15. In the second quarter, Liz Cambage began to score and the Shock went on a run of their own and led at half time 35-33. The third quarter featured many runs. Tulsa started out hot by giving the ball to Liz who was able to score and were up early 43-33 in the third quarter. San Antonio was able to come back and tie the game going into the fourth quarter at 55 apiece.  The fourth quarter was where Jayne Appel had her impact. She was able to defend Liz Cambage well, and rebounded well for the fourth straight game. She also banked in a three pointer which was needed as the Silver Stars had trouble scoring for much of the fourth quarter.  Despite Tulsa’s efforts to bring the game closer, San Antonio was able to hang on and win.

 

NOTES + OBSERVATIONS

  • That was one UGLY game. Not pretty at all. Both teams shot 38% from the floor and TUL had 25 FT attempts, 12 of them which they missed. TUL had 19 turnovers which lead to 22 of SAN points.
  • Danielle Robinson continues her stellar play. She had 19 points and 9 assists and was able to bother both of the Shock guards and keep them from having an impact.
  • Jayne Appel was the player of the game. She had 9 points (although she missed an easy layup), 13 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 assists and 3 blocks. San Antonio needed her performance in order to win this game. If Jayne continues to play like this for the rest of the season and next year, she’ll be in the running for Most Improved.
  • Jia Perkins also had a bounce back performance with 18 points
  • Glory Johnson is an work horse. Literally. I can see why she was an All – Star this year. This is the first time I’ve seen her play and she truly grabs every rebound she can, is a good post player and gets to the free throw line quite frequently. I even think she should be the MVP candidate over Liz Cambage because of her consistency.  I can also see why alot of WNBA fans are becoming fans of Glory Johnson. She’s a good player, there’s no doubt about that.
  • Liz Cambage is a game changer. Her ability to block shots and alter the way a team plays, is quite remarkable. Only two players can be game changers in the league and that’s Liz Cambage and Brittney Griner.

 

San Antonio now plays on Tuesday against the Minnesota Lynx before they go to Seattle to play a rare away and away game stand this weekend.

Game #18 New York Liberty vs San Antonio Silver Stars Game Recap (Mini Notes Version)

This recap is about 4 days late. I got busy and it’s hard to update your post with the All Star Game going on. The West won the All Star Game and Danielle Robinson participated in the win. Getting back to this game, the Silver Stars had an early camp day start and the Liberty were in town. The Silver Stars had won their previous match up against the Liberty and for the first time this season they swept the series against another team. The Stars improved to 6-12 while the Liberty dropped to 7-11.

GAME NOTES

  • This game was ugly. There was no denying it. It was un watchable at certain times.
  • Both teams shot less than 40% for the game.  The Silver Stars were just able to gut it out and get a much needed win
  • Jayne Appel had another strong rebounding game with 13 rebounds. If only Jayne looked to score more, she would have a good chance of being the most improved player.
  • The Silver Stars were able to hold all of the Liberty weapons to less than stellar shooting nights and defended them well
  • The Danielle Adams – Jayne Appel inside and outside combo is interesting. I want to see more than 2 games, but I think the Stars could benefit from this starting combo going forward. You get an inside post presence with Jayne and an outside shooting presence with Danielle making it difficult for teams to leave both.
  • Bill Laimbeer was ejected from this game after what looked like a questionable call for the Liberty. It was that kind of afternoon game.
  • Danielle Robinson had a great All Star performance with 17 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds
  • Jia Perkins struggled but she had other great stats such as 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals
  • Silver Stars are on a two game winning streak! Let the celebration begin.
  • Dan Hughes wins his 200th game. Way to go Dan! Dan is one of the best coaches in this league who has been able to have an impact in his players.
  • The Silver Stars biggest attendance as 12,000+ were at the game.
  • The Silver Stars now only have two matchups against the East – one on the road against Indiana and one at home against Atlanta
  • The Silver Stars don’t play again until August 2nd when they face the red hot Minnesota Lynx