The San Antonio Stars are currently 2-2 in the early season. Now with four games out of the way, it’s time to do a detailed analysis on the Stars first four games and their performance.
SAN ANTONIO VS ATLANTA (GAME #1)
The season started with the Stars opening on the road against the Atlanta Dream. Since it was Game #1 of the season, both teams were still trying to figure out how to play and it showed early in the game. The Stars also got back Sophia Young-Malcolm, one of their best scorers who was missed from 2013 with an ACL injury. Danielle Robinson and Danielle Adams (who usually plays well against Atlanta) played well in the first game. Danielle Adams was able to take advantage of match ups presumably against Swin Cash of the Dream. Danielle Robinson was able to take advantage of the rookie Shoni Schimmel and got to the basket at will. Kayla McBride’s rookie game started off with some bad turnovers, some missed shots, including a game-changing turnover in the last minute. The Stars had a shot to win their first game but blew it when Sophia Young-Malcolm uncharacteristically missed free throws that could’ve given the Stars the lead and the Dream took advantage. Then, Danielle Robinson was called for an offensive foul. Even with those missed opportunities, the Stars still had time for a tie but Kayla McBride couldn’t hold on to the ball which led to the Dream winning the game by a final score of 79-75.
Since it was Game 1 for both teams, it was hard to get a read on the Stars players. I thought for the most part, except for Sophia Young-Malcolm and Jayne Appel, the rest of the Stars players played well. Although Becky Hammon couldn’t return, it was a nice start for the Stars despite the loss.
SAN ANTONIO VS TULSA (GAME #2)
The Stars started their home opener against the Tulsa Shock. This game was even at the beginning with neither team able to pull away. Kayla McBride continued to struggle although she did hit some shots. Jayne Appel was a non factor again in this game due to foul trouble and the Shock center Courtney Paris was able to take advantage. In the third quarter, the Stars began to attack the basket and were able to get 2 straight and one plays. Sophia Young-Malcolm looked much better and played flashes of her old self in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, the Stars were once again in a close game, but this time they were able to win the game thanks to back-to-back three-pointers from veteran Jia Perkins. Perkins has always been reliable for the Stars and continued to do so in this game. The Shock had a shot to tie the game but Courtney Paris missed her first free throw which caused her to intentionally miss the second to no avail. The Stars were able to get their first victory and their first home win.
In Game 2, Jayne Appel was still a non factor, Kayla McBride still struggled (although she made better decisions), Sophia Young-Malcolm looked much better, Danielle Robinson and Jia Perkins both continued their good play from 2013. This was also the second straight game Becky Hammon missed with a left ankle sprain.
SAN ANTONIO VS PHOENIX (GAME #3)
After six days off, the Stars played their second road game on Friday in Phoenix against the Mercury. The Stars were able to get Becky Hammon in the lineup which was a big boost for the Stars, they finally got back one of their top scorers and play makers. The Stars came prepared for this game as they were able to get into the lane, make smart decisions and attacked the paint all game long. The Stars were able to pull away in the second quarter before Phoenix made a run on the strength of Diana Taurasi. The Stars led at half and believe it or not, it was their first lead at halftime early in the season. In the third quarter, Brittney Griner reasserted herself and Phoenix was played well, but the Stars thanks to Jia Perkins had the lead after 3 quarters. It was in the fourth quarter that the Stars continued to get to the basket and despite Phoenix’s attempts to win the game, the Stars were able to hold on for the four point victory. It was their 2nd straight win, and their first road win of the season. Jayne Appel came up big with rebounding and free throws.
In Game 3, Jayne Appel was better despite her foul trouble (a recurring theme in 2014). Kayla McBride played better after a sub par 2 games and Danielle Robinson continued her stellar play. Although Jayne Appel ultimately won the game, the players that stood out were Jia Perkins and Shenise Johnson. Perkins was able to disrupt Phoenix’s offense by forcing turnovers, and making tough shots. Shenise Johnson was able to get to the basket and didn’t take any ill advised shots. This was San Antonio’s best win of the early season. By far.
SAN ANTONIO VS LOS ANGELES (GAME #4)
This was San Antonio’s second game on the road and the third of the season. San Antonio went in to Los Angeles to face the Sparks, looking for their third straight win. The Sparks set the tone for most of the game as they were able to get to the basket early and often, attacking the Stars, and out-rebounded them on the glass. The Sparks had too many weapons for the Stars to counter and even though the Stars were able to make it a close game at halftime, LA’s talent was too much for the Stars to handle. Reigning MVP Candace Parker had 14 points in the third quarter after only having 6 at halftime. Her play led the tone and the Stars struggled to score and scored a new season-low 62 points. LA’s defense also played a part as they didn’t allow San Antonio to run it’s offense, they double teamed Danielle Adams on the block, and didn’t let Danielle Robinson get to the basket.
In Game 4, everyone except for Jia Perkins struggled to score and assert themselves in the game. Jayne Appel was in foul trouble once again but this was one of the few games where it didn’t matter. Becky Hammon and Sophia Young-Malcolm still don’t look nearly themselves yet which could be a problem later on for San Antonio. They need both players to play well otherwise It could be a second straight year that they head to the lottery.
The Stars have a tough week ahead as they face the improving Shock team (who lost two games by a combined 5 points) and the defending Minnesota Lynx twice (who have Maya Moore who’s averaging 33.5 points per game). We shall see what team the Stars are made of this week.