The Stars opened the 2014 season with a .500 record after splitting a back-to-back against the Atlanta Dream and Tulsa Shock.
The Stars did what they needed to do this weekend: Earned a split. A back-to-back against the reigning eastern champions and a much improved Shock team that had dominated the Stars in preseason? The schedule makers were unkind to San Antonio the opening weekend of the season, but the Stars nearly earned a weekend sweep — falling just short to the Atlanta Dream on Friday night.
I joked last year that the entire WNBA season is too small a sample size to really get a feel for who’s playing well, who’s not playing well and who the “best team” in the league is. So after three days there’s not a whole lot to project from the play of the Stars with the exception that this has the makings of a very fun basketball team; that’s something we couldn’t say about San Antonio in 2013. It wasn’t their fault of course, but Stars fans who suffered through 2013 will certainly enjoy seeing Sophia Young-Malcolm on the court.
So how has the newlywed performed in her first two games back from the ACL injury that sidelined her in 2013?
Shooting 6-17 isn’t great by any means (okay, it’s bad, but small sample size!) but 20 rebounds and two blocked shots to go with 16 points over two games? That’s not a bad warmup at all. Jayne Appel carried most of the rebounding duties for the Stars in 2013, but with Young-Malcolm on the floor her responsibilities should be lessened this season. Appel’s impact on the score sheet, like in 2013, understates her value to the Stars defensively.
The real story from the opening weekend is Danielle Robinson. The Stars’ all-star from 2013 has continued that incredible form to open the 2014 season.
For those not into math, that’s a 68 percent field goal percentage. She’s not going to shoot that well all year, and it’s a shame her 8-9 night came in a losing effort, but it’s great to see Robinson’s dominance continue this season. Her assist numbers are fine — and they would be better if she had better shooters to pass to. The team as a whole is shooting 38.2 percent from the field, which is in the bottom half of the league.
On the bright side, opponents are shooting just 34.5 percent against San Antonio this season — perhaps indicating that the Stars will return to their defensive dominance in 2014? Too early to tell, but if the Stars aren’t going to score a bunch they need to be good defensively.