Ruth Riley is in the midst of her first full year as the GM of the San Antonio Stars, and things are not going according to plan.
For fans of the San Antonio Stars, things could not get much worse.
The Stars went into the 2017 season with so much hope and excitement. They had drafted Kelsey Plum with the first overall pick in the WNBA Draft and the thinking was that with the addition of Plum and new head coach Vickie Johnson, the team should see some improvement. Maybe not a trip to the WNBA Finals, but better than the 7-27 record the team posted last year.
But so far, any signs of improvement have been hard to come by.
Plum has been a massive disappointment, averaging 3.4 points and 1.6 assists mostly off the bench and playing just 13.5 minutes per game. At times she has looked completely overmatched and overwhelmed by the pro game, not playing with the skill we all became so used to seeing while she was at Washington.
Part of this may be due to the constantly changing lineup and the scheme Johnson is trying to put into place. When the Stars drafted Plum, there were a lot of raised eyebrows due to the fact San Antonio was already very well covered at the guard position. It has led to some confusion among fans as to what exactly the Stars are trying to accomplish.
And now it would appear that the Stars have decided to throw in the towel on the season. On Wednesday is was announced San Antonio had traded Monique Currie to the Phoenix Mercury in exchange for Shay Murphy, Sophie Brunner and a third-round pick in 2018.
Currie was the Stars second-leading scorer, averaging 11.8 points and 4.8 rebounds a game. Yes, Currie was most likely out the door next season, but why would you send a player with that kind of production to Phoenix when you are desperate for scoring? And for a couple of bench players and a pick that will likely amount to nothing?
Those are all questions that you would have to ask Stars GM Ruth Riley.
This is Riley’s first full season running the Stars after working under former head coach/GM Dan Hughes last year and so far, it has not gone well.
It was obvious that while Plum was the best player available, she is a bad fit for what Johnson is trying to do in San Antonio. Rumors persist that a deal was in place for the Stars to trade Plum to the Chicago Sky for Alaina Coates and another player on draft night but changed their mind at the last minute. And this was after asking for way too much for the first overall pick prior to the draft in an effort to improve now rather than later.
Then there are the season ticket holders, who all feel the Stars misled them with lofty expectations for the season that in reality had no chance of coming true.
It’s tough to lay the blame for this mess at the feet of anyone other than Riley. The players are working incredibly hard, usually keeping games close until late when the wheels start to come off. And while Johnson’s coaching won’t win any awards this season, she is in her first year and has to try to compete with the players she is given, none of whom she had any say in adding to the roster.
Which leaves Ruth Riley.
Was she not ready for the job of running the Stars, or is she just not a front office kind of person? As we all learned from the New York Knicks and Phil Jackson this week, just because you may be a great player and/or coach, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll make a good executive.
Should the Stars think about firing Riley? It’s way too early for that, but if San Antonio goes winless the entire 2017 season (which could happen) someone will have to take the fall. Sure, they can say they are tanking and that this is all part of a plan to build for the future, but if that is indeed the case, there are going to be a lot of really angry season ticket holders to deal with.
The 2017 season is already over for the Stars, but the jury is still out if Riley’s career as a GM may be over as well.