Saturday, August 31, 2013

Silver Stars: Quick Intermission for Seattle Series

Originally Posted to swishappeal.com on August 27, 2013

The San Antonio Silver Stars came into Sunday’s matinee against the Seattle Storm on the heels of two straight losses. The game was the first of a pair of consecutive games between the two teams currently battling for the #4 playoff position. In the first game the Stars would come out victorious and they would do so with three All-Stars watching in street clothes including Danielle Robinson, their starting point guard in the absence of the injured Becky Hammon and league leader in assists. They would also do so without ever trailing, and never being tied after the opening 0-0 knot-up in a 70-64 victory. Rookie Davellyn Whyte got the start for the second game in a row and contributed 13 points and 7 assists and added a pair of rebounds and a theft. Another rookie, Kayla Alexander, followed up a fantastic performance in Tulsa by pulling in 7 rebounds against the Storm.

Shenise Johnson had a monster night leading all scores and rebounds with 17 points and 10 boards and nabbed a steal as well. Jia Perkins was all over the stat sheet dropping in 14 points and providing 3 assists. Jia also pulled in 5 boards and burgled the basketball 5 times from Storm opponents. Jayne Appel contributed 7 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and two blocks. Danielle Adams scored 14, dropped a pair of dimes, gathered 5 rebounds, and blocked a shot.

The Stars (10-17) look to repeat their performance tonight to get the series tiebreaker. Seattle (13-14) also currently holds the #4 spot in the West. San Antonio is in the #5 looking to unseat the Storm en route to their 7th straight playoff appearance. The Stars currently trail by 3 games and close out the regular season with games vs. Tulsa, LA, Phoenix, Tulsa, Phoenix, and Atlanta. The Storm will finish against Connecticut, Minnesota, Minnesota, Minnesota, Tulsa, and Tulsa.

Tonight’s matchup will likely be a tough, physical game with both teams grinding for the series tiebreaker that will no doubt have an effect on the playoff picture out west. Don’t expect either team to go down easy. It is unknown whether Danielle Robinson is expected to play tonight, so every Star will have to step up again. Keys to tonights victory include keeping turnovers down. The play of Davellyn Whyte, if she is still filling in for Danielle Robinson, will be vitally important as well. Keep an eye on Kayla Alexander also as she has really stepped up in the last two games, particular on the glass. The Silver Stars have risen to the challenge over and over again this season, and it's doubtful that tonight will be any different.

Silver Stars Strike Oil Too Late in Tulsa

Originally posted to swishappeal.com August 24, 2013

The San Antonio Silver Stars traveled to Tulsa drilling for a win against the Shock in a Friday night matchup, but the well seemed to be dry for the San Antonians. Danielle Robinson, the Stars starting point guard in the absence of Becky Hammon, would sit out the game with a sprained right knee in a tough 67-73 loss ( http://www.wnba.com/games/20130823/SANTUL/gameinfo.html#nbaGIboxscore .) D-Rob’s absence bumped rookie Davellyn Whyte into the starting lineup for the first time in her career on a night where she provided 7 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal. Kayla Alexander, another rookie, had a big night for San Antonio, eh? The Canadian added 10 points on 3-5 from the field and a perfect 4-4 from the line, also picking up an assist. She pulled down 3 offensive boards and 5 on the defensive end putting her in the three way tie for most rebounds (see Wrap Up.) Kayla also blocked Liz Cambage and Glory Johnson once each. Despite every Star stepping up (every Silver Star who played scored at least once and grabbed at least one rebound) and cutting a 23 point lead to just 6, they were unable to overcome a rocky start and the absence of their floor general.

1st Quarter

Shenise Johnson collected the first pair of points in the game with a jumper from the left side for the Silver Stars. Glory Johnson quickly responded with a layup assisted by Candice Wiggins, getting the hoop and the harm, and would go on to convert the 3 point play. Cambage followed up with her own old fashioned three-point play, sticking back a Nicole Powell misfire from beyond the arch with Jayne Appel drawing the whistle for contact. On the other end of the floor Danielle Adams responded with 2, tipping her own miss back in. Tulsa retaliated when a Liz Cambage assist set the table for an Angel Goodrich layup. Davellyn Whyte dropped in a couple by creating her own shot off the dribble, firing from outside the paint halfway up on the right side making it 6-8 Shock. Angel Goodrich got her second bucket in a row for the Tulsa squad on a floater from the low block on the right side. Cambage grabbed the next bucket with a bunny from the low block area on the right side. Candace Wiggins added a pair of triples, one from the right wing and one from the left, on assists from Glory Johnson and Riquna Williams. Jia Perkins got two in the paint on a Jayne Appel assist to close out scoring for the quarter at 18-8 in favor of the team from north of the Red River.

2nd Quarter

A Riquna Williams paint bucket to start scoring action in the quarter sparked a 12-0 run. Cambage netted a pair from the stripe, as did Williams. After a Candice Wiggins layup, Cambage returned to the line when she and Jayne Appel hit each other in the face going after a rebound and she repeated her previous performance at the line. Glory Johnson created her own shot on a tragically beautiful fadeaway jumper in the paint before a pair of Kayla Alexander freebies at 5:29 ended the Tulsa run. Struggling to find their offensive rhythm and identity in the absence of their facilitator, these were the first points on the board for San Antonio since 2:21 in the first quarter and marked the Silver Stars entry into double digits with a score of 10-30. Candice Wiggins drove to the lane with the ball and plowed into Chelsea Poppens who was set waiting, sending her to the deck. That created space for a Glory Johnson bucket in the paint off of a pass from Wiggins that was first tipped by Jia Perkins. The missed call was a gift that kept on giving. The Shock got to take a free throw after Coach Dan Hughes was given a technical as he gave the refs an earful for the no-call on the charge.

The Silver Stars had a quick rebuttal though when Davellyn Whyte set the table for a Jia Perkins jumper from the right side. Shameka Christon saw an Angel Goodrich layup and raised her 1, drilling her first 3 of the contest from the right corner on Jia Perkins’s dime. The next scoring contribution for the Silver Stars came as Kayla Alexander battled Wiggins and Cambage down low for a pair. A Cambage dish set up a jumper from between the top of the key and the perimeter for Jennifer Lacy. Shenise Johnson and Shameka Christon paired up to retaliate as a Christon assist set up Johnson for a triple from the left wing. Chelsea Poppens added an off balance shot in the paint to close out scoring for the half for San Antonio with 24.5 left of the clock, but Jennifer Lacy wasn’t done yet, finding the bottom of the net for a 3-ball from the right wing for the last hoop of the half. A half that saw the Silver Stars down by as much as 23 while they searched for their offense in the absence of their facilitator ended with a 10-5 run by the Silver Stars. As both teams headed into the midway break, the score sat at 40-22 in favor of the Shock.

3rd Quarter

The second half began with two Goodrich layups for Tulsa sandwiching a Danielle Adams layup on Shameka Christon’s second assist of the game. Cambage put herself in double digits on a trip to the paint. After a pair of stick backs by Appel and Adams put 4 points on the San Antonio side of the ledger, Cambage got a hoop and the harm, converting for a 3 point play the way they did it way back when, giving the Shock a 49-28 advantage. With the clock stopped at 6:03 Kayla Alexander dropped in twin freebies from the charity stripe. Liz Cambage answered with a paint bucket assisted by Glory Johnson, but it was Alexander responding once more in the paint with a putback after a strong rebound and a minute later with a dish to Shameka Christon on the right wing for her second from long distance. Tulsa responded with a 3 of their own on a Diggins to Wiggins for 3 from the right side but once again Kayla Alexander netted a response from the paint after cleaning the offensive glass. Wiggins was feeling it though, and with some help from Williams’s 2nd assist she tallied 3 more from the corner for the women from Oklahoma bringing the lead back to 20 at 57-37 with Tulsa out in front.

In the last 1:54 of the quarter, Cathrine Kraayeveld, Shameka Christon, and Jia Perkins tripled up for a 10-2 run broken only by a Liz Cambage shot from the low left block on a Skylar Diggins assist. Kraayeveld drilled a 3 from the top of the perimeter with assistance from Shameka Christon who would provide the next two points from the foul line. Meka then got nothing but net on a 3 from the right side assisted by Jia Perkins. After the Cambage bucket down low, Jia would close out scoring for the quarter at 47-59 in favor of the Shock with a pair of free throws.

4th Quarter

Shameka Christon picked up where she left off in the 3rd splashing her 4th triple of the contest to cut the once 23 point lead down to single digits at 9. Glory Johnson spoke up for Tulsa on the scoreboard with a second chance bucket in the paint after Kayla Alexander denied a Liz Cambage attempt from down low. Cambage was T’d up for sending a flailing arm at Kayla after the block and Shameka Christon took advantage from the line. Davellyn Whyte banked an off balance jumper from near the top of the paint off the glass and in for a pair, cutting the lead to 8. Not even 2 minutes after denying Cambage down low, Alexander rejected a Glory Johnson attempt as well. With 5:31 left, the Johnsons began trading buckets. Glory hit a fadeaway jumper in the paint that would have been beautiful against any other team. Shenise wanted two in the paint as well, hauling in a Wiggins misfire and going end to end for the Silver Stars score. It was Glory’s turn for the Shock, sinking a baseline jumper from the left side on a Tiffany Jackson-Jones dish from the paint. Shenise Johnson pitched in for San Antonio from the paint again on ten cents from Davellyn Whyte.

A few seconds before 3:30 Angel Goodrich found Nicole Powell who deposited a jumper from just right of the top of the key. Davellyn Whyte was quick to respond though, bring the ball up and creating her own shot for 3 from the left wing cutting the lead to just 7. Cambage responded with a runner from the right side of the paint. Wiggins then found Glory Johnson who dropped in a fadeaway jumper from the right for a pair. Shenise Johnson had a rebuttal with a left side jumper from the long end of mid-range. With time running short, Jayne Appel found Shameka Christon who buried one from just right of the top of the arch for her 5th triple of the night to narrow the gap to 6. Candice Wiggins doubled up for Tulsa at the free throw line and Shenise Johnson closed out scoring taking the inbound pass end-to-end for the pair leaving a couple seconds on the clock and Tulsa dribbled it out for the 2 possession win, 67-73. After finding momentum late, a few more minutes might have gotten the Stars the victory, but the clock ran out before the Stars could finish the rally.

Wrap Up and Thoughts Moving Forward

Liz Cambage led all scoring with 20 for Tulsa followed by Shameka Christon who contributed 18 to the San Antonio cause. Candice Wiggins got 16 for Tulsa just ahead of Glory Johnson with 15. Shenise Johnson scored 13 and Kayla Alexander put up 10 for San Antonio. Angel Goodrich led all assists with 4.

Alexander and Johnson each grabbed 8 boards for the Stars as did Liz Cambage for Tulsa. Danielle Adams gathered 6 and Davellyn Whyte pulled in 5. Angel Goodrich led burglaries with 4 steals for Tulsa followed by Shameka Christon with 3 for the Silver Stars. Kayla Alexander denied opponents twice for San Antonio as did Liz Cambage for Tulsa and Riquna Williams recorded a Shock block as well. (all Wrap Up stats from http://www.wnba.com/games/20130823/SANTUL/gameinfo.html#nbaGIboxscore )

San Antonio defense has held Skylar Diggins, one of the WNBA's "3 to See," to a total of 0 points in two games with two left in the series between Tulsa and San Antonio.

The Stars head home with a 9-17 record after a hard road trip looking to take both games against the Seattle Storm (13-13) before returning to Tulsa (9-18) for revenge in an attempt to clinch the 4th playoff spot in the West. Seattle enters the game coming off a victory over Phoenix down in the desert for their 3rd in a row. They hope to protect their #4 spot from a hungry San Antonio squad who now trails them by 4 games in the Western Conference. Hopefully the Sunday matinee will see the return of a healthy Danielle Robinson to the San Antonio lineup and a W for the Stars on their home floor.

Don't Sleep on the San Antonio Silver Stars

 Originally posted to swishappeal.com August 23, 2013

They say that sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, but the San Antonio Silver Stars are proving that sometimes it’s better to be good. "Lucky" is no way to describe this season for the Silver Stars. Before this WNBA season if someone had set up this scenario:

*The Stars would be without Sophia Young for the entire season as a result of an ACL injury in her last game of the season in China

*Becky Hammon would miss the first 9 games of the season with a broken finger and tear her ACL in her first game back and miss the rest of the season

*Delisha Milton-Jones would go down with an injury during which she and the Silver Stars would come to a buyout agreement. DMJ would go on to sign with the New York Liberty.

*The Stars would play at times with only 8 or 9 available players and would have to sign a player under the hardship clause

...you might have counted them out. You might have suggested that they just fold and tank and try to get a good pick in the draft. You might have suggested making a big trade. That’s not what the Stars are doing this season though. They are continuing to grind out wins and keep that playoff berth well in sight.

As it stands, the Silver Stars sit just behind the Seattle Storm who occupy the last playoff spot in the West. San Antonio will have a chance to battle it out head to head against the Storm Sunday and Tuesday in San Antonio following tonight’s matchup in Tulsa against the Shock.

Going into tonight’s game versus Tulsa, here are some key factors to consider regarding the Silver Stars moving forward: Danielle Robinson, replacing Becky Hammon in the starting rotation, leads the league in distribution with 6.7 assists per game and 168 overall. That’s right, the Stars backup point guard leads the league in assists as a starter and is probably the quickest player with the ball for 94 feet. Shenise Johnson breaks the top 30 in assists as well at #29 with 50 at a rate of 2.1 per contest. The Silver Stars also have 2 players in the top 30 in scoring: Danielle Adams averages 13.8 per game with a total of 346 in the #20 spot and Jia Perkins sits at #24 just between Britney Griner (#23) and Tina Thompson (#25) posting 13.5 per game and 338 total. Three Stars find themselves in the top 30 in three point shooting. Jia Perkins is #7 on the leader board in triples at .390, burying 32 from long range. DA (#16) delivers from long range at a 35.4% clip with 35 from deep and Shameka Christon has her say at the #23 spot also with 35 long range shots at a rate of .337.

Jayne Appel checks in at #6 in the league in rebounds with 8.9 per contest and 177 overall. Danielle Adams takes the #29 spot with 4.7 per game and totaling 118. Appel and DA both break the top 25 in denials as well with Jayne holding the #6 spot rejecting 23 to the tune of 1.2 per game and DA at the #23 spot with 19 at .8 per showing. As far as the WNBA’s Most Wanted for theft, Jia Perkins is #4, nabbing the ball twice a game with 50 basketball burglaries on her rap sheet. Her partners in crime are Danielle Robinson at the #13 spot with 1.4 robberies per game and a total of 34 and Shenise Johnson at #30 absconding with the ball 1.1 times per game getting a five finger discount 26 times this year at opponents’ expense (statistics from http://espn.go.com/wnba/statistics).

Let’s also not forget to give credit to the coaches and staff. The outstanding Coach Dan Hughes collected his 200th career win this season and is assisted by former WNBA player/former Silver Star Vickie Johnson as well as James Wade. Athletic Trainer Tonya Holley’s hands have certainly been full this season treating injured players and keeping healthy players healthy. Credit goes out to all the other staff on the sidelines including trainer’s assistants and equipment managers as well.
The absence of Hammon and Young presented a challenge for every Star to shine this season, and shine they have! After a wobbly start that featured several players in new and/or expanded roles, the San Antonio Silver Stars have rolled with the punches, scrapping and gutting out wins through injuries and other lineup changes, finding their identity in the process. It seems like at this point in the season the San Antonio Silver Stars not only know who they are, but they want you to know too. They are competitors and they aren’t going to walk away without everyone knowing they were there. It’s absolutely likely that the Stars could grab the 4th spot in the West, and once a team is in the playoffs there are lots of possibilities. Opponents who sleep on San Antonio may very well be in for a rude awakening.

While I’m certainly not conceding this season and talking "next year" in those terms, regardless of how the chips fall there will be a next season. The struggles and challenges that the Silver Stars have faced this season have truly strengthened them as individual players and as a team. The absence of Becky Hammon and Sophia Young has forced this San Antonio team to achieve more than what was expected of them and has acted as a crucible. Hammon and Young will return to a battle tested team that has weathered the gauntlet and come out of it much stronger. Inevitable development in rookies Kayla Alexander, Davellyn Whyte, and Chelsea Poppens will be a boost for the Stars and other teams should be terrified at the fact that young players like D-Rob, Shenise Johnson, Jayne Appel, and Danielle Adams have not even reached their peak yet. Veteran play from Shameka Christon, Jia Perkins, and Cathrine Kraayveld will solidify and ground out an already intimidating lineup (note: this is all without speculation regarding next years’ lineup but simply projecting regarding the development of this current lineup with the inclusion of Hammon and Young). This will likely push a competitive team into the league’s elite for years to come. When all the Stars line up, you know the future is going to be bright.

Just wish upon the Stars and believe!

Silver Star Finish Second in Indy

 Originally posted to swishappeal.com August 23, 2013


The San Antonio Silver Stars wheeled into the Wednesday night in Indianapolis riding the momentum from a win against a 3rd place Western Conference rival Phoenix Mercury Saturday night. It would be a different story in Indiana though as the injury plagued Stars would play the second half without the league’s assist leader, Danielle Robinson, who went down with what was reported as a knee injury by Indiana’s home broadcast. The Stars kept their deficit around 10 or less for much of the game, but the D-Rob-less nine player rotation would fall to the defending Champs by 17 with a final score of 80 to 63. (http://www.wnba.com/games/20130821/SANIND/gameinfo.html)

1st Quarter

When the Green Flag dropped in Indy it was Jia Perkins revving up and pulling ahead with a three pointer off an assist from Jayne Appel on a possession that started with Appel stealing a pass attempt from Briann January. The Fever would kick their scoring off with an offensive board and the put back by Erlana Larkins on a Karima Christmas misfire from downtown. On the next possession, Jia Perkins in the paint near the left block found a cutting Jayne Appel who kicked it out to Danielle Adams for a fadeaway baseline J. Briann January brought the ball up and started cutting towards the basket but was met by Perkins who stripped the ball away, chalking up a steal. Danielle Adams came up with it and gave to Danielle Robinson in transition who wasted no time and dropped in a pull-up, jumper from the right edge of the foul line.

Christmas came early for Catchings and the Fever as Indiana immediately responded as Karima Christmas gifted Catchings an alley oop pass for a lay in. Catchings would score again shortly after Shavonte Zellous rebounded a Jia Perkins miss from the right block. San Antonio stopped the small run with a Shenise Johnson assist to Danielle Adams for 2 on a lay up at 6:46. That would stop all scoring until 5:09 when a Danielle Adams foul sent Erlana Larkins to the foul line where she collected a pair, making it 9-8 in favor of San Antonio. Of note during the break in scoring was an emphatic block of a Briann January shot in the paint by Danielle Adams with Jayne Appel gathering in the rebound.

At 3:56 another Danielle Adams foul sent Tamika Catchings to the line where she netted a pair, giving Indiana the lead for the first time at 10-9. San Antonio responded quickly as Jayne Appel, near the top of the key, spotted D-Rob cutting to the basket and dropped the dime for a Robinson layup. Robinson would foul at the other end and send Christmas to the stripe where she got a pair. The Fever started building on their lead with a Larkins layup on an assist from Erin Phillips that preceded a San Antonio time out. A Cathrine Kraayeveld miscue from downtown became a Jessica Breland rebound. Breland passed the ball along to Layshia Clarendon who found Phillips in transition on the right wing for a 3. Breland would then grab another rebound, again giving it to Clarendon who sent it to Christmas who found Breland in the low post near the charge circle for some post moves and the bucket. Jayne Appel closed out the scoring for the first period of play at 13-19 in favor of Indiana when she converted a couple of freebies following an Erin Phillips foul in the paint. San Antonio defense and an Indiana attempt that caught glass but no iron resulted in a shot clock violation with 2.1 left giving San Antonio enough time for a quarter ending heave.

2nd Quarter

Jessica Breland got the first points in the second period of play in the key on the second assist of the night by Larkins. The Silver Stars were quick to retaliate though, as D-Rob found Davellyn White way across court for a triple from the left side. Shameka Christon slapped away a ball that bounced off of Shavonte Zellous, giving the Silver Stars the ball. Meka then located Kayla Alexander in the lane, gaining an assist with Kayla drawing the foul and bringing the Stars back within 3 but failing to complete the three-point play. The next change in score came when Clarendon assisted Breland on a jumper from the deep end of mid-range on the left side. Just over a minute later, Zellous found a wide open Tamika Catchings on the right wing for the long distance jumper before San Antonio called for time.

Jia Perkins got things rolling out of the time out with a mid-range jumper from the left side near the perimeter, assisted by DA to make it 20-26, Fever favor. Just on the high side of the halfway mark Tamika Catchings cut to the basket for a layup that put her in double digits for the evening. The scoring would subside for just over a minute and a half before a DA contact infraction sent January to the charity stripe where she was able to take 1 of the 2.

Chelsea Poppens, who replaced DA, was called for a foul shortly after checking in which sent Catchings to the line for the Fever where she netted a pair, pushing the lead into double digits with 3:21 left in the half. Poppens would get to the line less than a minute later for two shots where the newest Star chalked 1 up for her first WNBA career point. Indiana didn’t wait long to respond as January dropped one in from the deep right side for 3 aided by the second assist of the night for Shavonte Zellous bringing the tally to 34-21 with the team from Indy leading the race.
Jayne Appel’s 4th dime of the night would set things up for a cutting D-Rob for the lay up. The Fever had a rebuttal though as Catchings picked up a deuce in the paint on the third assist of the evening for Larkins. With 33.9 left, Shavonte Zellous was awarded a trip to the line where she picked up the twins after Poppens was whistled for her second foul of the evening. As the final seconds of the half ticked away, Danielle Robinson slid into a splits just before Jayne Appel drained a midrange jumper out near the perimeter on the left side. Erlana Larkins stopped and appeared to try to help D-Rob up but then continued down court and Robinson stayed down. Jeanette Pohlen drained the jumper with 0.5 left on the clock to cap off scoring for the half with a score of 41-25 Fever. The start of half time saw Robinson surrounded by Stars personnel and players from both teams.

3rd Quarter

San Antonio came out to start the second half with Robinson in the locker room. She would not check in again for the rest of the night. Davellyn Whyte initiate the scoring for the quarter with a 3 ball from the right side off of an assist by Shenise Johnson. San Antonio put two more on the board when a Tamika Catchings foul sent DA to the stripe. Shavonte Zellous put an end to the short run though, driving to the hoop and getting the layup for Indiana. DA made her way back to the free throw line after being fouled by Larkins on a fadeaway jumper with the shot clock winding down. Christmas and Whyte would also take trips to line and take one apiece for Indiana and San Antonio respectively beginning a small run for the Silver Stars with DA going on to pick up 2 in the paint. Jia Perkins went to quick work on defense, stealing the inbound pass and assisting Davellyn Whyte on the left wing who splashed her 3rd triple of the night, driving her scoring contribution into double digits. Seeing the Stars gaining in the straightaway, their 16 point half time lead shrinking to 7 at 37-44, prompted a Fever pit stop to talk things over.

January’s first shot out of the time out was shy of falling but she got her own rebound and kicked it out to Erin Phillips. She would reset, drive, and kick it to January on the left wing. January then drove to the paint and spotted Clarendon on the far right wing and assist her for 3. As that play was developing, at around 5:30, the commentator on Indiana’s broadcast announced that Danielle Robinson was on the Silver Stars bench in warm-up attire and shortly after added that it was a right knee injury, extent unknown. Jayne Appel went to the line and sent 1 of 2 through the iron. San Antonio would score again when Shenise Johnson found a wide open Adams in the paint below the right block to cut the lead to 7 again at 47-40. Appel was whistled for her second foul of the night on what appeared to be a clean block, sending Catchings to the line where she added two points. Shenise Johnson absconded with a Shavonte Zellous pass and was headed for the hoop and was intentionally fouled by Zellous to prevent a possible easy 2 in transition, forcing Johnson to earn her tally marks from the stripe, which she succeeded in doing. Shavonte Zellous more than made up for the turnover leading to the freebie though, scoring the next 5 points for the fever on a pair of paint buckets, one of them an and-1. Jayne Appel would register the next 4 for the Silver Stars putting back a missed 3 attempt and receiving the dish from Shameka Christon for an easy couple in the key. Christon was called for a foul that put Clarendon on the stripe where she missed the first and hit the second. Clarendon fouled Christon with 7 seconds left, sending her to shoot two and she dropped both through the hoop. On the other end, Clarendon found Phillips in the right corner whose shot beat the buzzer and rattled around the rim and in with no time left in the quarter. Despite missing D-Rob for the entire 3rd period, the Stars finished the 3rd quarter trailing by only 7 with a score of 48-55

4th Quarter

Shavonte Zellous would collect the initial 2 ticks on the scoreboard in the final period putting her into double digits on the evening at 11, but Danielle Adams responded with a low deuce on Christon’s third dime of the evening. Shavonte Zellous wasn’t done scoring for the evening. She earned a chance at two from the stripe on a fouled called on Jia Perkins in the restricted area. Zellous took the pair and extended the lead to 12. Jia would then drop in a long ball from right of the top of the arch on a Kayla Alexander dime and then pick up a pair on 10 more cents worth, this time coming from Whyte, #7 cutting the lead to 7 from 12 in 18 seconds. Catchings dropped in two more free throws and then grabbed a Phillips misfire from deep just to the right of the hoop and, under defensive pressure from Kayla Alexander, offered it over to Larkins just to the left of the rack for 2. The Silver Stars would come out of a time out called by Coach Dan Hughes with a pair in the paint on a stick back by Danielle Adams. Assists from Larkins and January set up Shavonte Zellous for Indiana’s next two buckets, both in the paint, the second in transition. Jia Perkins created her own shot off the dribble, starting at the perimeter and moving in, sinking a jumper from the left side.

Shavonte Zellous wasn’t done for the night just yet. Assist number 4 on the evening for January resulted in a triple for Zellous, giving her 20 for the night which would lead all scoring. January extended the lead to 18 with a pair of layups, the second assisted by Clarendon making 4 dimes for her on the evening as well. Danielle Adams contributed two more freebies to the San Antonio cause and Chelsea Poppens would drop in two more thanks to a Davellyn Whyte dime capping off the San Antonio scoring for the night. Sasha Goodlett would close out scoring for Indiana getting an old fashioned three point play in the home stretch for the Fever. When the checkered flag waved in Indy, it was over a tough 63-80 loss with a final score that wasn’t really indicative of the tight game that was played. Despite a roster that has already been plagued by injuries, the Stars hung with the defending Champs despite playing the second half without D-Rob.
Standouts, Wrap Up, and Thoughts Moving Forward

Three Silver Stars and two Fever players scored in double digits. Danielle Adams lead the Silver Stars with 17 followed by Jia Perkins with 12 and rookie Davellyn White with 10 including 3 of 4 from beyond the perimeter. Shavonte Zellous would finish leading all scores with 20 followed by her team mate Tamika Catchings with 19 for the Fever. Jayne Appel registered two blocks for San Antonio followed by Danielle Robinson, Danielle Adams, and first year player Kayla Alexander with a denial apiece.

Tamika Catchings and Jessica Breland each chalked up a pair of blocks and Shavonte Zellous added one as well. Danielle Adams led all rebounding with 9 followed by Jayne Appel with 7 and Jia Perkins with 5 for San Antonio. Larkins and Catchings pulled down 7 boards each for Indiana and Breland totaled 5. Jayne Appel led all theft with 3 steals. Turnovers and Free Throws told the tale of the night with San Antonio surrendering the ball 8 more times than Indiana with a total of 21 giveaways and connecting on only 14-19 from line compared to 21-24 for the Fever.

San Antonio looks to right the ship on Friday in Tulsa against the 8-18 Shock who now sit a game and a half behind San Antonio in the West. Tulsa will enter Friday night’s matchup on the heels of a home loss to the Phoenix Mercury on Tuesday night. Following Tulsa the Stars will head home to San Antonio where they look to take 2 games at home from the visiting Seattle Storm, the team they are currently battling for playoff position in the West. Let’s all hope for a speedy recover to the speediest player in the league, Danielle Robinson, as we all hope to see her healthy and back on the court as soon as possible. Best wishes go out to her.

Silver Stars Chill Mercury on Historic Court

 Originally posted to swishappeal.com August 18, 2013

Saturday night was an historic night for professional basketball. The San Antonio Silver Stars hosted the Phoenix Mercury for the first known professional basketball game played on a pink court in honor of Breast Health Awareness. In the spirit of the evening, the Silver Stars also donned pink jerseys and Danielle Robinson debuted a new, pinker look for her chameleon-like hair. Some of the players sported pink sneakers for the evening, with coach Dan Hughes getting in on the footwear trend as well.

Though the third place Phoenix team came in as the favorites to win, on this San Antonio night the Mercury would drop and the Stars would come out to shine. Brittney Griner treated the San Antonio crowd to some pre-game dunks and received a warm welcome in a regional homecoming, having grown up in Houston and played college ball at Baylor, but this night was to belong to the home team which earned an 88-82 win.

The injury-plagued Stars would come out strong in the first quarter while the Mercury started with a frigid 0-6 from the field. Just under halfway through the first quarter, Danielle Adams hit a three from bottom the Breast Cancer Awareness ribbon, just to the right of the center of the arch to go over 1,000 points for her career. Phoenix took an 11-9 lead on an Alexis Hornbuckle layup with 3:38 remaining.
However, just over a minute later, a Jia Perkins jumper from near the top of the key and three from the left wing sparked a 14-2 run for the Stars. Cathrine Kraayveld added a layup on an assist from Danielle Robinson. Diana Taurasi responded with a bunny from near the top of the key with 1:44 left in the quarter to bring Phoenix within three points at 16-13. Robinson blazed through the lane and got a layup on an assist from Appel who would then score on a layup from Shameka Christon with 9.9 left. Perkins’ full court defense forced a Hornbuckle travel in the backcourt giving the ball back to the Stars with 8.3 remaining. Shameka Christon would cap off the first period of play with a buzzer beating 3 on an assist from Davellyn Whyte making it 23-13 going into the second quarter.
San Antonio would continue to build their lead in the second quarter starting with two by Robinson. Charde Houston and Brittney Griner dropped in back to back jumpers, but a Danielle Adams triple on an assist from Whyte would quiet the short run. Johnson would score the next five on an assist from Christon for two and Whyte for three. Adams chalked up a couple more tipping in a Kayla Alexander misfire before Griner ended the Phoenix dry spell with a bunny shot.

Not to be outdone, Adams had a rebuttal of her own scoring in the paint on Christon’s third assist of the evening. Briana Gilbreath would continue the bucket trade on a DeWanna Bonner assist. Eventually a Lynetta Kizer foul would send Shenise Johnson to the charity stripe where she would pick up both freebies. The break would cue the debut of the newest Silver Star, Chelsea Poppens, recently signed in the wake of the Delisha Milton-Jones contract buyout.
Bonner’s second assist of the evening resulted in a Taurasi three but Christon would retaliate with a triple of her own on a Davellyn White assist. Taurasi continued a valiant effort with an assist to Kizer for two and with a transition three. Shenise Johnson assisted Danielle Adams for two, getting the hoop and the harm and going on to convert the shot for an old-fashioned three-point play. Taurasi picked up her fourth assist leading to a Krystal Thomas layup. Karma came quick as Taurasi received a dish from Candice Dupree and dropped in two. A Bonner layup with less than a minute left brought the Mercury within 10 and a Dupree jumper rolled around and in to trim the lead to eight. The half came to a close with the Stars leading 45-37.

Taurasi got the scoring started in the second half with a jumper in the paint but Jia Perkins soon responded with a bunny of her own. A foul called on Jayne Appel sent Brittney Griner to the foul line where she netted a single freebie of the two awarded and Candice Dupree hit a jumper on Taurasi’s 5th dime of the night, bringing the Mercury within five. Jumpers by Robinson and Johnson for San Antonio began a mini-bucket swap: a Bonner layup, a long two from Johnson, and Dupree layup. A Charde Houston foul sent Danielle Robinson to the line where she added two more followed by a right elbow jumper by Jia Perkins. A Robinson foul sent Taurasi to the line where she converted one of two. Robinson returned to the line, making both on a foul from Charde Houston that sent her to the ground hard. Time was stopped for a bleeding Danielle Adams between the free throws.

The score would stay at 59-47 in favor of the Stars until a Krystal Thomas assist set up Hornbuckle for a three ball to cut the lead to single digits. A foul called against Adams sent Taurasi to the line for two where she took full advantage. Danielle Robinson was issued two free throws on a Krystal Thomas foul that hooked her over the shoulder and neck. The crowd and Coach Dan Hughes argued for a flagrant but Thomas was only charged with a standard foul. The refs appeared to indicate to Hughes that they only saw the contact with the shoulder. D-Rob sank both.
Cathrine Kraayveld chimed in from the left wing on D-Rob’s 5th dime. An Appel steal lead to a role reversal by Robinson and Kraayveld. With the shot clock winding down and only a few second left in the quarter, a Kraayveld assist set up Robinson for an off-balance, heaving hook-shot to beat the 24 second clock, leaving just four seconds in the quarter. Phoenix was unable to close the quarter with a response and the score stood at 66-52 in favor of the Silver Stars.

The final 10 minutes saw Taurasi once again opening up the scoring, this time with a triple from the left corner that caught iron and bounced in. Jia Perkins hopped into double figures with a jumper from the deep right elbow area. Solid post defense in the low block by Jayne Appel left Griner nowhere to go but Appel ended up being charged with a foul under the basket, sending Griner to the line where she netted a pair. A Dupree assist from under the basket set the table for a DeWanna Bonner triple to bring Phoenix within single digits. A Dan Hughes time out led to a Jia Perkins retaliation three. Taurasi took advantage of the next possession with a bucket in the paint, but again Jia Perkins came back with a jumper off of a good move to create her own shot.

At 6:26 a Hornbuckle foul sent Perkins to the line where she split the pair. Charde Houston got a paint bucket to make it 74-62 in favor of the Stars but Shenise Johnson responded in kind 19 seconds later. With just under five minutes remaining in regulation, Adams got two more in the paint on a D-Rob assist and converted the and-1 on a Kizer foul. However, shortly after Charde Houston responded with a jumper in the paint and Shenise Johnson was called for the foul, allowing Houston to respond in kind with an and-1. 31 seconds later Houston hit a fadeaway jumper in the paint making it a 10 point game with just over four minutes remaining in regulation.

With 3:25 left Appel made a layup on which Thomas was charged with a foul and Appel was able to complete a three point play. Houston again took to the paint and converted an and-1 on a Johnson foul. With 2:08 left, Briana Gilbreath used a forearm to push off of Jia Perkins and instead of the offensive foul was awarded a trip to the line. The ball didn’t lie on the first, but the second fell. Twelve seconds later Gilbreath committed a foul that sent D-Rob to the deck, but fortunately this time Gilbreath was held accountable and Robinson was awarded two and got both to go.

With 1:40 left, Appel threw an errant pass as she fell to the ground trying to recover the miss by Griner, but Griner stole it and made a jumper in the paint to make it 84-75 with the Stars leading. Adams grabbed two more on an assist by D-Rob followed by Charde Houston converting another and-1 on a foul called against Shameka Christon. With just over 42 seconds remaining, Perkins was called for a foul that sent Hornbuckle to the line where she netted a couple, before which Jayne Appel became the second Star of the night to warrant a blood time out. With just over 15 seconds left Hornbuckle fouled Robinson and sent her to the stripe where she collected her 19th and 20th points on the night. A Brittney Griner shot from the paint went off the glass and in and closed the game at 6.9. D-Rob dribbled it out in the backcourt for the well-earned victory.

Diana Taurasi would finish leading all scores with 23 for Phoenix followed by the Danielle Duo Robinson and Adams, both dropping in 20 for the Stars followed by their team mate Jia Perkins with 17. Shenise Johnson and Charde Houston contributed 15 to San Antonio and Phoenix respectively. Britney Griner was held to 11 points on 4-11 from the field by the swarming Stars defense. Danielle Adams, Danielle Robinson, and Kayla Alexander all registered a block apiece for San Antonio as did Brittney Griner, Briana Gilbreath, and Lynette Kizer for Phoenix. Jayne Appel lead all rebounds with eight.

It was truly inspirational to see the players, coaches, and fans of all ages, female and male wearing pink for Breast Health Awareness. Just to be in attendance to see survivors and know many helped to paint the court was amazing and moving. The Stars victory on the historic pink floor was a great end to a fantastic evening of basketball and solidarity.

What is Following the Stars

Following the Silver Stars is a personal fan blog for the San Antonio Silver Stars. I am a long time basketball fan who is pretty new to the WNBA. I had told my Spurs season ticket rep that I was interested in checking out some Silver Stars games and he set me up with a deal where I got to see a couple of Silver Stars games, see the Spurs trophy, tour the Spurs' locker room, etc. I was hooked. When I saw what a great team the Silver Stars are and what a great league the W is, I wanted to share that with other people who love basketball as much as I do.

Enjoy!