San Antonio Stars at the Halfway Point (In Depth Review)

*Note - The Stars have played 19 games (more than half of their games) and with the Stars off until Wednesday after a busy week in which they played every other day, it was time to update on how the Stars are performing at the halfway point.

With the San Antonio Stars having played more than half of their games in the 34 game season, it is time to do a review on their first half of their season. It’s also time to take a look at how Stars players have played in the first half as well. The Stars are currently in 3rd place in the Western Conference with a record of 10-9. They are 3-5 at home and 7-4 on the road.  Taking a look back at the season preview, I expected the Stars to have a better season than last year simply because of the return of WNBA All Stars Becky Hammon and Sophia Young-Malcolm. What I didn’t expect was to see how well the Stars have played so far. Even though their record is one game above .500, they’ve been playing well in most of their games.

In an interesting twist, only Danielle Robinson has increased her scoring average from last season or from previous seasons (Hammon & Young-Malcolm). So, despite the better record, it isn’t reflected of players individual stats. The Stars are truly playing team ball and this proves it.

TEAM PLAY

If you take a look at the WNBA Standings, you will find something very unique this season. The Stars are one of FOUR teams to have a winning record (Atlanta Dream, Phoenix Mercury and Minnesota Lynx are the others) and the Stars have gone 1-7 against them. They were swept by the Atlanta Dream, split with the Phoenix Mercury so far and have lost three games against Minnesota. On the contrary, the two games against Atlanta were very close and could have went easily the other way. This shows the Stars are not elite or championship level. It does show that they are a playoff team as they are 9-3 against the rest of the teams. The Stars home and road splits are also interesting. It’s very rare to see teams to do so poorly at home but at the same time play well on the road. Taking a closer look at the home record (3-5) they’ve only played one close game (a two point loss to Atlanta) and they’ve lost by more than 7 points in all of their other home losses. Their biggest home loss was in 2 OT to the Phoenix Mercury. In their three wins at home, they’ve won 2 close games against the Tulsa Shock and in a blowout win against the Los Angeles Sparks. In all 5 of their losses at home this season, they’ve struggled and had to figure out ways to come back but in wasted effort. In three wins, the Stars have had the edge and have figured out how to win. The road record (7-4) shows that in the four losses, the Stars were in only one close game (a road loss to Atlanta) while the other three losses were won by more than 7 points. Their biggest road loss was to the Los Angeles Sparks. In their seven wins, they’ve been able to find ways to win close games (5 of their road wins were decided by 5 points or less). Their biggest road win was against the New York Liberty. It shows that the Stars are able to execute and be successful in winning on the road. It also shows that for whatever reason, the same formula hasn’t worked for the Stars at home so far. Considering the fact that the Stars only have six more road games as compared to nine home games, they have to figure out how to win ugly at home as well.

PLAYER ANALYSIS (QUICK THOUGHTS)

Becky Hammon – Becky Hammon is not the same Becky Hammon many Stars fans remember. She has had some vintage Becky nights in where she has led the team in scoring and assists, but for the most part she’s turned into the Stars second PG behind Danielle Robinson. She’s also had some nights in which she was held scoreless which would never happen in previous seasons as a Star. She does lead the team in 3 point shooting and is shooting at a unreal 52%.

Sophia Young – Malcolm – Like Becky Hammon, Sophia Young-Malcolm is not the same All Star Sophia Young. Instead, she’s a shadow of her former self. She’s not all the way there yet but unlike Becky, Sophia is young and she should be able to regain her All Star form next season. However, ever since she’s been moved to the bench in favour of Danielle Adams, she’s been playing better and has improved the team’s bench play.

Kayla McBride – Kayla McBride, the #3 pick in April’s draft is currently third in scoring on the team with 11.2 points per game. She’s had games in which she has shined and has even been able to hit two game winners against Tulsa and Indiana. For a rookie, she has had her rookie moments, has turned the ball over in crucial moments such as the season opener against Atlanta, but for the most part, she’s been one of the Stars consistent players of the first half. She’s a good learner and her potential is super star worthy. Not a WNBA star, but a superstar.

Jayne Appel – Her numbers are down from last season but she has been the Stars only interior defender. She’s had double doubles but she’s also had games in which she had trouble scoring the ball. After a great season last year statistically, she was one of the players I expected would make an even better jump. However, that still hasn’t happened and even though she has played in the WNBA for 5 seasons, she still has moments where she lacks confidence.

Danielle Robinson – Danielle Robinson is the only Star to be All Star worthy this season. Her scoring numbers have increased and she is the Stars go to leader when the Stars are in need of some quick scoring. Her ability to get to the basket is the best in the WNBA and other point guards have trouble guarding her. She has had games in which she’s struggled but they have been few and this is the season where she has officially replaced Becky Hammon as the lead PG.

Jia Perkins – Jia Perkins has been always steady for the Stars off the bench as an offensive and defensive weapon. When the Stars are in need of scoring, she is usually able to deliver. This season, it’s become more prominent as Jia Perkins has put herself out there for consideration as the sixth woman of the year. Jia Perkins remains a good defender and when she and Danielle Robinson are put out there together defensively, they are very good. Unfortunately, Jia Perkins recently was sidelined for a knee injury and hasn’t played in 4 games.

Danielle Adams – Danielle Adams has always been a scorer and that hasn’t changed for her. She still can score, however she still struggles to rebound and is ok defensively. She hasn’t made any major changes to her game and like Jayne Appel, her numbers are down as well.

Shenise Johnson – Shenise Johnson averaged double figures last season and this season, she’s been mostly in and out of the lineup with injury issues. Her numbers have also taken a hit and her play is erratic. She will have very few good games, and other games in which she struggles. It’s hard to make out of what kind of player Shenise Johnson is at this point in her career. She is like Adams ok defensively.

Shameka Christon – Shameka Christon’s value as a player has decreased every year as a Star. She is currently averaging a career low in points and is just relegated to the Stars three point shooter. She can still shoot and when she gets playing time, she is still a good reliable defender.  When she plays well, the Stars benefit and are able to win.

Kayla Alexander – Kayla Alexander has gotten better this season, but is prone to foul trouble. With her limited playing time, she’s gotten better at scoring inside and is shooting 80%+ from the FT line.

Heather Butler – It’s hard to get a read on Heather Butler when she hardly plays, but from a size standpoint, she has trouble shooting over other players. She however, does handle the ball fine in her very limited playing time.

Davellyn Whyte – Davellyn Whyte has barely played this season and will sit out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL.

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That wraps up my thoughts on the Stars season at the half way point. Remember to follow me on Twitter @sastarsblogger as I tweet thoughts on the games going on for the rest of the season.

- Aneela Syed

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