Three Points, by Clay Kallam
The Pat Summitt news casts a pall over the sport this week, but I think it’s fair to say she would want everyone to focus on the game and not on her – so I’ll do my best …
1. A Bone to pick: The Kelsey Bone trade (from Connecticut to Phoenix) was interesting for a lot of reasons.
a) Too much Sun – Tina Charles, just an MVP, bailed on Uncasville, and now Bone, who’s not nearly in that category but still a decent player, has done the same thing. The word is players don’t like the remote location, and given a choice (Kara Lawson left in mid-season too), they’ll flee. That’s not a good sign if you’re trying to build a team.
b) Not enough return – So Bone, a competent WNBA post, is worth only Courtney Williams (24 really ugly minutes this season), Jillian Alleyne (injured) and a second-round pick (pretty much no value)? And here’s another thing: The Sun could have taken Alleyne with the 17 th pick if they wanted her that badly.
c) Mercury rising – Phoenix really didn’t need another post, but for that price, how could they turn the deal down? Now with Bone and Lindsey Harding (jettisoned from New York just a week or so ago), the Mercury suddenly look a lot stronger.
2. Now the Lynx are on a losing streak: Yes, the Mystics are under the radar, but there’s no way they should have won by 24 on Sunday – which makes it two losses in a row for Minnesota. Of course, that doesn’t mean much given the 13-0 start and the overall strength of the Lynx lineup, but …
Minnesota is a veteran team (OK, old) and with four starters off to the Olympics, there’s reason for concern. Lindsay Whalen’s turnover percentage is at its highest since 2005, her usage rate is down and though she can still pick her spots, she doesn’t seem as consistently unstoppable as in the past. Seimone Augustus is struggling even more, and though Sylvia Fowles and Maya Moore (the best player in the world) are excelling, that pair may not be enough for a repeat.
And remember, the Olympics are a physical grind, with games every other day, and mounting pressure in the last week. Unlike the men’s side, for the women, Olympic gold is the most valued prize of all, and win or lose, a Lynx letdown after Rio is not only possible but probable.
3. She must like recruiting – or money: Stephanie White is a lame-duck coach for the Indiana Fever this summer, as she accepted the head coaching job at Vanderbilt in the spring. There are some coaches who much prefer working in the WNBA, since the players are more mature, the season is shorter and your future does not depend on getting 17-year- old girls and their parents to like you.
But if you enjoy bigger paychecks, college is where the money is, and White decided to make the change after two years in charge of the Fever. But jumping into the SEC at Vanderbilt is an interesting call: Vandy is a very strong academic school, which it is fair to say is not the kind of reputation a lot of the other SEC schools are carrying around. Vandy is also far from the richest SEC school, though it’s possible that White got her salary, a big assistants’ budget, and enough recruiting money to compete with the Georgias and South Carolinas of the world.
It will also be interesting to see if White’s public acknowledgement that she’s gay will have any impact on her ability to recruit, because homophobia, if not rampant, is certainly present in the world of girls’ high school basketball.