With the 2017 season all but over for the San Antonio Stars, it time to start looking ahead, and the view isn’t all that bad.
Coming in to Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Wednesday, the San Antonio Stars had just one win under their belt in 16 games of play. I am obliged to include that five of those games could have been wins, as Indiana Fever head coach Pokey Chatman pointed out in a pregame interview, and 10 of 17 games were decided by single digits, including a two possession game against arguably the best team in the league in the Minnesota Lynx.
Contrary to what the cynics like to include in their tabloid-esque writeups, the Stars have not had the best of luck to start this season. For starters, number one overall pick Kelsey Plum injured her ankle just before the Stars’ second preseason game during a scrimmage in training camp. In what was described as just a sprain, it is known news that the sprain was pretty bad. An injury to a rookie at the start of her first training camp is a huge setback, as she missed valuable experience to sponge up as much knowledge as possible to start her season. As first year head coach Vickie Johnson had said all along, implementing the rookies would be a process and would take time. Even starting point guard Moriah Jefferson took about half the season last year to become comfortable with the aspects of the league.
Fast forward to this game against the Fever, the Stars would be without their leader in Jefferson, who was out with a concussion. It is safe to say many had already dubbed this game as another loss for the Stars, who are headed for the worst record in franchise history.
The basketball gods had other things in mind. At tip-off, Plum knocked down a very quick three to start the game, and would end up with eight points in just the first quarter. With Jefferson in her ear off the bench and Johnson with a big smile every time Plum knocked down a shot, the first year player out of Washington looked the best we’ve seen her all season. Poised and confident, Plum would end the game with 12 points, four assists, six boards, and just two turnovers in just over 34 minutes of action. San Antonio, propelled by star guard Kayla McBride’s 18 points (12 of those from the free throw line) and veteran center Erika de Souza’s 14 points and 7 rebounds, departed Indianapolis with a 79-72 win under their belt, their second of the season
Now I am not here to say that the Stars are set to win every single game down the road. Looking ahead, the Stars again face the steaming hot Connecticut Sun, who they have lost to twice, 85-77 and 89-56. But, if you pay any attention to the confidence on the court and the rotations that seem to be a whole lot more efficient, it is safe to say you can’t write off the Stars just yet for an eight win season, which would be a game better than last years 7-27 record.
Talking about what isn’t lining the stat sheet is what makes San Antonio not look so bad. Plum is still a prolific passer, and while her teammates are starting to knock down the shots to give her assists, not everyone gives her credit for that first no-look pass to McBride to start the play that gets the defense out of rotation. Those kinds of passes happen a whole heck of a lot. Guard Alex Montgomery is another who looks quiet on the stat sheet yet averaging nearly 25 minutes in the last four games since Monique Curry infamously was traded to the Phoenix Mercury and is a staple in San Antonio’s defensive schemes.
In all, this could end up being a huge disappointing season for Stars fans after draft night drama and the ‘what could have been’s’. But maybe, if we look at the little things, we just might be witnessing the start of something huge to come in the next few years.