WNBA Eastern Conference preview

alt As the Shock get set to start their inaugural season in Tulsa, some fans may be wondering what the Shock and the WNBA are all about. This is part two of a three-part series taking an in depth look at the history of the WNBA and the Shock. Part one (published yesterday) told the history of the WNBA, while part three (on Saturday) will introduce you to the Tulsa Shock franchise.


ATLANTA DREAM (2009: 18-16; Home: Philips Arena – Atlanta, Georgia)

The Dream joined the WNBA in 2008, and hold an all-time record of 22-46. Coach Marynell Meadors was named the 2009 WNBA Coach of the year after leading the Dream to the playoffs  thanks in large part to a 14-win improvement over the team’s 2008 record. 

Tenth-year veteran forward Chamique Holdsclaw, a University of Tennessee product, anchors the lineup for the Dream. Holdsclaw enters her second season in Atlanta after averaging  13.9 points last season. Iziane Castro Marques  averaged 14.4 points per game in 2009 while shooting 35 percent behind the three-point line.

CHICAGO SKY (2009: 16-18; Home: All State Arena – Rosemont, Illinois)

The Chicago Sky joined the league in 2006. The team has never reached the playoffs, posting an all-time record of 47-89. Last season the Sky finished the regular season in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, narrowly missing the playoffs. 

Notable players on the Sky roster include University of  Oklahoma standouts Courtney Paris and Abi Olajuwon. Jia Perkins and Sylvia Fowles look to lead the Sky this season after averaging 13.2 and 11.3 points per game respectively last season. Kristi Toliver shot 44 percent from behind the arc last season in just  386 minutes of play.

CONNECTICUT SUN (2009: 16-18; Home: Mohegan Sun Arena – Uncasville, Connecticut)

The Connecticut Sun  began play in 2003 after the franchise moved from Orlando. Since the move the team has posted a record of 143-95, reaching the playoffs in six of the last seven seasons.  The Sun reached the league finals in back-to-back seasons in 2004 and 2005. 

Rookie Center Tina Charles averaged  21.5 points per game in the preseason. DeMya Walker enters her eleventh WNBA season after playing the last seven seasons for the now defunct Sacramento Monarchs. The team’s pre-season roster has just four players with five or more seasons experience.

INDIANA FEVER (2009: 22-12; Home: Conseco Field house – Indianapolis, Indiana)

The Indiana Fever has posted a record of 168-166 since joining the WNBA in 2000. They have reached the postseason six times, and reached the finals last season where they were defeated by the Phoenix Mercury three games to two.  Tennessee product Tamika Catchings  is entering her ninth season in the WNBA, all of which she has played for Indiana

NEW YORK LIBERTY (2009: 13-21; Home: Madison Square Garden – New York City, New York)

The New York Liberty is one of the eight original franchises in the WNBA. They hold an all-time record of 223-202. The Liberty has reached the playoffs nine times, and played in the league finals four times in the first six seasons.

Janel McCarville (12.3 points per game) and Essence Carson ( 10 points per game) are the returing leading scorers from last season. Guard Cappie Pondexter joins the Liberty this season after averaging 19.2 points through four seasons with Phoenix. Former Shock player and six-time WNBA All-Star Taj McWilliams-Franklin is also a big addition to a franchise that struggled last season.

WASHINGTON MYSTICS (2009: 16-18; Home: Verizon Center – Washington, D.C.)

The Washington Mystics own a record of 158-238 since joining the WNBA in 1998. They are 4-10 in the playoffs after qualifying five times. The Mystics have consistently enjoyed high attendance figures and led the league last season with 11,338 per game.

Washington returns ten players from last season, including Alana Beard, Lindsey Harding and Crystal Langhorne. All three averaged over 12 points per game during the 2009 campaign that saw them exit the playoffs in the first round after being swept by Indiana. Beard and Langhorne averaged 15.9 and 12 points per game respectively while Harding averaged 12.8 points and 4.5 assists per game.