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Defensive drag hinders Stars

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Stars Hoops/Rebecca George

Glimpses of Spurs-esque ball movement kept the game close. Defensive inconsistency, however, was the nail in the coffin for the San Antonio Stars as they allowed the Minnesota Lynx to improve their record to 7-0.

The issue of defensive inconsistency has been a glaring defect for the Stars who are now 3-4 early in the regular season. Stars’ head coach Dan Hughes admits that progress has been made since their May 30 loss to the Lynx, but notes that the lack of consistency forces them short of beating one of the best offensive teams in the league.

“I still don’t think we’re where we need to be. Part of that is that you’re playing a team that is the most efficient offensive team that we’ve played,” Hughes said. “I can’t say that in either game we put two halves of defense together that, I think, would be good enough to beat a team like Minnesota. It’s still a work in progress to be honest with you.”

Opponents are shooting a league-high 50 percent against the Silver & Black this season, with most of the damage coming in the paint. In the two games against Minnesota over the weekend, the Stars gave up a total of 74 points in the paint. San Antonio only scored a total of 46 in both games.

Hughes’ most current modifications to the defensive structure of the Stars have proven effective, holding the West’s leading scorer, Maya Moore, to 18 points;  8 points below the May 30 match-up where she scored 26 points and 9 points below her 27.4 ppg average. But, like any team, if one cannot deliver, another must rise to the occasion.

Enter Seimone Augustus.

Minnesota’s 6-foot guard did most of her damage as Moore’s shots fell silent. Taking advantage of a Stars defensive slump before the half, Augustus scored nine of her 25 points during the second quarter as the Lynx took a seven point lead into the locker room.

It is lack of preparation for game-changing players like Augustus that keep the Stars short of overcoming their defensive woes.

”They just have so many weapons,” Stars center Jayne Appel said. ”They are a force from everywhere. It is going to take having all five defenders on the same page moving around and helping each other out to beat them. ”

If the age-old phrase “defense wins championships” holds any substance, the Stars must continue to hone in on their defensive inadequacies for a shot at post-season play.

Improvement in containing a team versus an individual will be key for the Stars who will take the court against the New York Liberty on Thursday, June 5.

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