Shooting Stars

A modest crowd of 6,965 gathered at the AT&T Center last week when the San Antonio Silver Stars began their late-season playoff push with a battle against the Charlotte Sting. Despite valiant performances from Katie Feenstra and Sophia Young, who contributed double doubles in points and rebounds, the Stars fell to the Sting on a heartbreaking buzzer-beater. The 68-65 defeat was their second in a row, and two days later, the team followed it up with a 87-69 blowout loss to the Sacramento Monarchs.

Prior to the Monarchs contest, forward Shyra Ely commented on the team's postseason outlook. "`We need to` continue to focus on our team and not worry about how the other teams are doing and which team is winning," said Ely. "Some days it might look differently depending on how we are playing and what is happening around the league, but I think that it is important that we know we are not out of this, and that we can make the playoffs and continue to get better."

“In the past we had cliques. This year, everyone pretty mcuh has the same goal in mind.”

- Shyra Ely

After dropping games to the Indiana Fever, 76-70, and Minnesota Lynx, 82-68, the Stars are currently on a five-game losing streak, and have been effectively eliminated from playoff contention. Although many fans will look at San Antonio's late-season slide as a disappointing ending to a promising year, the Stars have actually made subtle strides toward shedding their image as the Alamo City's lovable losers. They have already won more games this season than in their last two campaigns, and next year they will feature the All-Star guard combo of Young and Marie Ferdinand. Ferdinand sat out the first half of the season on maternity leave (she recently delivered son Cedrick Michael Harris Jr.). Chantelle Anderson, Feenstra, and Agnieszka Bibrzycka have all played impressively this season.

A change in team chemistry has also taken place, providing grounds for more optimism. "It's a culture change," says Shyra Ely. "In the past we had cliques, and there were different groups within one team. This year, everyone pretty much has the same goal in mind, and that is to win these games no matter how you do it or whoever pulls through. Anybody can have a great game on any given night."

Another reason to keep your eye on the Stars comes in the form of the Racial and Gender Report Card, which once again recognized the WNBA as the best professional sports league for race and gender representation on all levels. The league received straight "As" for the third time; no other pro league has accomplished this even once. Ultimately, Stars Coach Dan Hughes should be pleased with his team's effort and performance, despite injuries to many key players, and has plenty more improvements to look forward to next season. The only thing missing is for Stars brass to pick up a Lauryn Hill or India Arie album and play some positive music at a game for a change. The Silver Stars close out the 2006 season with the Seattle Storm on August 10, and the Phoenix Mercury on August 12.


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