I had an interesting pre-draft conversation with Minnesota coach Don Zierden. He asked me to name the top players in the West and after rattling off about six names, we both stopped and said we hadn’t even talked about San Antonio, yet.
While its team’s banner was prominently placed behind ESPN announcer Nancy Lieberman’s head during the April 9 draft, San Antonio has been quiet this offseason. G Becky Hammon (pictured right, jersey No. 25) is a league favorite, yet you still need to be reminded about All-Star Sophia Young (pictured right by WNBA), who’s playing well overseas. And without a first-round pick, there wasn’t much buzz around the sole remaining Texas WNBA team.
The defending Western Conference champions didn’t need the draft, anyway. They needed healing powers of medicine. Returning a healthy Shanna Crossley and signing a solid Australian free agent in Belinda Snell should keep the Silver Stars competitive with the top of the Western Conference. As discussed on a roundtable for Women’s Sports Talk Radio (airing at 1 p.m. PST), once Hammon’s shooting struggled last season, the entire San Antonio ship sank. Crossley and Snell, who was cut by Phoenix, should provide some offensive balance.
Picking in the latter rounds of a shallow draft, the Silver Stars are testing Serbian F Sonja Petrovic, wing Megan Frazee (Liberty) and touted F Candyce Bingham (Louisville), a surprise final pick in the draft. They could also help spread the defense.
San Antonio has an aging backcourt, re-signing vet Vickie Johnson with Helen Darling (eight years) and Hammon (10 years). But that’s been said for years now and they continue to find a way to win. It’ll be interesting to see if GM/coach Dan Hughes picks up a backup point to compliment French PG Edwige Lawson-Wade via the waiver wire once training camps open May 17. With only 11 roster spots, however, it seems San Antonio is simply praying for a healthy season and that teams forget about the talented pieces they have en route to a better showing in the WNBA Finals.
Being swept by Detroit the way they were last summer would motivate anyone.