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Past articles:
  • 2006 WNBA season wrap-up

  • New Wave of Talent in WNBA

  • The 2006 Young All-America Team

  • 2005-06 College Awards

  • Academic All-America Teams

  • Candace Parker's Comeback

  • 2005 WNBA Season wrap-up

  • 2004-05 College Awards

  • Stanford walk-on Markisha Coleman

  • 2004 WNBA Awards

  • 'BEEF' up your shooting!

  • Gball's Players of the Year

  • UConn's two freshmen

  • Gball's 2003-04 All-Americans

  • Leslie repeats as Player of the Year

  • 2002-03 NCAA Awards

  • Sophia Young

  • WBCA All Stars

  • NWBL Draft

  • The Burge Twins

  • 2002 WNBA Successes

  • Title IX's 35th Anniversary

  • The 2002 High School State Champs

  • The 2002 Gball Awards

  • Being Recruited

  • Protecting Your Knees

  • Candace Parker dunks!

  • Michigan Playoff Results

  • WNBA Teen Advisory Board

  • St. Ann's girls' team

  • Leslie Gball's Player of the Year

  • Hitting the last-second shot

  • Scholarships,
    Part I

  • Scholarships,
    Part II

  • Improving Agility

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE WNBA NOW?
    By Dave Wohlhueter

    What a difference 10 years can make. The Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) just completed its 10th season, crowning its fifth different champion. With Detroit winning the 2006 crown, the league has had four different teams win in the last four years.

    Sacramento won its first league title in 2005, but the Shock put an end to a repeat by the Monarchs. Only Houston (1997-2000) and Los Angeles (2001-02) have won back-to-back championships. And Detroit becomes only the third team to be a multi-winner, as the Shock was also victorious in 2003. The only other champion was Seattle in 2004.

    When the WNBA opened its inaugural campaign in 1997, there were just eight teams: Houston, New York, Charlotte and Cleveland in the Eastern Conference, and Phoenix, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Utah in the West.

    After the completion of the 2002 season, Utah moved to San Antonio, and Cleveland dropped out of the league before 2004 began. In 1998, the league expanded with the addition of Detroit and Washington. The 1999 campaign saw Orlando and Minnesota added to the 12-team loop.

    The year of 2000 saw a big increase in teams, as Miami, Indiana, Portland and Seattle entered the competition. This lasted until 2003, when Portland and Miami pulled out. Orlando moved its franchise to Connecticut that same year.

    This past summer saw the WNBA as a 14-team league with the addition of Chicago.

    Going fast forward, the 2006 playoffs almost mirrored the previous summer as far as participants were concerned. New York was replaced by Washington on the East side of the bracket. Seattle, the 2004 winner, was eliminated in the first round for the second straight season, and Eastern champ Connecticut saw its string of three final round appearances halted by Detroit.

    During the regular season, competition was keen, as it has been in recent years. With five games to go in the schedule, the four eastern playoff teams had been determined, but the order of finish was still undecided. Meanwhile in the West, only LA had clinched its final spot. With two games remaining, the Sparks and Sacramento were a sure 1-2, but Houston, Seattle and Phoenix were still fighting for the final two berths. Houston, Seattle and Phoenix all finished with an 18-16 record, resulting in a number of tiebreaker scenarios.

    Scoring was at an all-time high. Phoenix was No. 1 in offense with a record 87.1 ppg., breaking the old mark of 77.3 ppg. by Houston in 2000. Twelve of the 14 teams scored 70 point or a better a game. Last year, only two teams averaged over 70 points per outing, with Seattle No. 1 at 73.5 ppg. At the other end, the Mercury also set a record for most points allowed (84.7). The old standard was 80.5 ppg. by Washington in 1998. Houston and Phoenix totaled a league -record 221 points in a 111-110 triple-overtime victory by the Comets.

    Third-year pro guard Diana Taurasi of Phoenix established a new game best with 47 points in that triple-OT loss. The former UConn All-American finished the regular season with six records. She broke the WNBA scoring record with 860 points for a 25.3 average. Taurasi also set new standards for most field goals made (298) and attempts (660); most 3-pt. baskets (121) and attempts from behind the arc (305).

    The WNBA had never had three players average 20.0 ppg. or better until this past summer when Taurasi led the charge, followed by Minnesota rookie guard Seimone Augustus (21.9 ppg.), and Los Angeles veteran center Lisa Leslie (20.0).

    That's the second straight season that the top scoring team in the league has also allowed the most points. In 2005, Seattle was No. 1 in scoring (73.5 ppg.) and the bottom in defense (70.8 ppg.).

    The 2006 rookie class was another bumper crop led by Augustus, who copped Rookie of the Year honors. Phoenix guard Cappie Pondexter averaged 19.5 ppg. while playing 33.6 mpg. San Antonio forward Sophia Young added superb talent to an up-and-coming club, pumping in 12.0 ppg. and grabbing 7.6 rpg. The lone bright spot at Chicago was first-year center Candice Dupree (13.7 ppg., 5.5 rpg.). Charlotte guard/forward Monique Currie scored at a 10.0 ppg. rate.

    Leslie won her third MVP award with her best offensive effort ever. Leslie joins Houston forward Sheryl Swoopes with three MVP awards each. During the season, the 6-5 center became the first WNBA player to reach the 5,000-point plateau. Indiana forward Tamika Catchings took her second consecutive Defensive Player of the Year plaque. Washington guard/forward Alana Beard was the Gballmag.com Most Improved Player, while the WNBA chose Sacramento guard Erin Buescher. Connecticut guard Katie Douglas and Indiana forward Tamika Whitmore were other worthy candidates for this award. The Coach of the Year award went to the Sun's Mike Thibault, who led his team to the best 2006 regular-season record of 26-8.

    Detroit forward Cheryl Ford set a WNBA record for rebounds (363) and rebounds per game (11.3). The former Louisiana Techster was the only player in the league to average a double-double (13.8 ppg., 11.3 rpg.). She tied Leslie for most double-doubles (17) in 2006.

    On a bittersweet note, the 2006 campaign announced the retirement of veteran point guard Dawn Staley, who finished an eight-year career (six seasons with Charlotte, two at Houston). She played in five WNBA all-star games, and this past summer won the 3-Point Shootout. She was named the 2006 WNBA winner of the Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award, an honor this also enjoyed in 1999. A three-time Olympic gold medallist, Staley will devote her new-found time to coaching the Temple Owls' women.

    Another Olympic gold medalist, guard Nikki McCray, retired early in the season as a member of the Chicago Sky. An original member of the Washington Mystics, McCray scored more than 2,500 points. The Mystics retired her jersey during the summer.

    That pretty much sums up 2006. What's next?

    Here's what we probably can expect in 2007, with the teams listed in the order they finished in 2006.

    EASTERN CONFERENCE
    Connecticut (26-8) Although still not a champion, Gballmag.com Coach of the Year Mike Thibault's crew is still the only team in the league that can match Detroit's all-star starting lineup. A year ago, the injury to point guard Lindsay Whalen was the Sun's demise. This season, all-star MVP Katie Douglas was hampered in the Eastern finals, and Connecticut missed the WNBA finals for the first time in three years. Douglas was named a first-team all-star by both the WNBA and Gballmag.com, and was also on the league all-defensive unit. Veteran forward Taj McWilliams-Franklin gets better with age. She was a second-team all-star, nearly averaging a double-double of 12.8 ppg. and 9.56 rpg. Margo Dydek, a 7-2 center, topped the league in shots blocked (2.50 bpg.), and averaged 9.4 ppg. Veteran forward Nykesha Sales missed 12 regular-season games, but still managed to average 12.0 ppg. The best player in the WNBA coming off the bench is forward Asjha Jones with 11.1 ppg. and 5.4 rpg. Add in Whalen (9.0 ppg., 4.6 apg.), and you have six players nearly averaging double figures. If Connecticut is to win a WNBA title, Coach Thibault better figure out how to do it SOON. McWilliams-Franklin is talking retirement, and Dydek and Sales are on the mature side.

    Detroit (23-11) The Shock, with a 17-4 record at home, put it all together in the finals. It went 2-1 at home during the finals, and was .500 at Sacramento. The Detroit victory ended a Monarch 11-game playoff home-winning streak. Ford topped the Shock in rebounding (11.3), and tied guard Deanna Nolan for the team leadership in points (13.8 ppg.). The latter was a second-team all-star, who tied LA's Leslie for most double-doubles (17). Guard Katie Smith, in her second season at Detroit, averaged 11.7 ppg. while finally grabbing her first WNBA championship. Forward Swin Cash averaged 10.5 ppg. Forward Plenette Pierson came off the bench to score 6.5 ppg., and was a force in the playoffs with 8.8 ppg. and 5.4 rpg. as a sub. This team is extremely strong up front, but could use more depth in the backcourt. There's no reason why the Shock can't repeat in 2007. Detroit is its own worse enemy.

    Indiana (21-13) The Fever participated in the playoffs for the second straight year, but was quickly eliminated by Detroit. Forward Tamika Catchings is annually an all-star with her 16.3 ppg. and 7.5 rpg. She has also won the Gballmag.com Defensive Player of the Year award the past two seasons, leading the WNBA with 94 steals in 2006. Forward Tamika Whitmore signed with Indiana as a free agent prior to the season, and she battled for the Most Improved Player award with 15.5 ppg. and 4.85 rpg., both career highs. Guard Anna DeForge (10.2 ppg.) was another excellent off-season pickup, coming to the Fever from Phoenix in a trade for guard Kelly Miller. Second-year guard Tan White is beginning to live up to her clippings, averaging 8.9 ppg. this past summer. The No. 1 defensive team in the WNBA (68.1 ppg. allowed) is a couple of players away from going to the top.

    Washington (18-16) Guard/forward Alana Beard (19.2 ppg.) was second-team all-league, and named to the WNBA defensive five. She was the Gballmag.com most improved player vs. stiff competition. Veteran forward DeLisha Milton-Jones has settled comfortably in at the nation's capitol, scoring 14.6 ppg. and grabbing 4.87 rpg. But she is injury-prone, and missed 11 games this past summer. Center Chasity Melvin averaged 11.9 ppg., and was the team's top rebounder (6.59 rpg.). Nikki Teasley came to Washington from Los Angeles in a trade for 2005 Rookie of the Year Temeka Johnson. She scored a bit more than Johnson, and led the league in assists (5.4 apg.). Rookie center/forward Nakia Sanford, out of Kansas, was a pleasant surprise, scoring 8.9 ppg. and pulling down 5.97 rpg. She started 19 games for the Mystics. This is another team that needs quality depth.

    New York (11-23) This was not a good year for the Liberty, a team that has been accustomed to making the playoffs. Veteran guard Becky Hammon (14.7 ppg., 3.7 apg.) was good when she was on the court. Unfortunately, she was injured for the second straight year, and she missed 12 games. For the third straight year, Hammon led the league in foul shooting percentage (.960). Rookie guard Erin Thorn was No. 1 in the league in 3-pt. field goal percentage (.431, 28x65), but averaged just 6.1 ppg. while playing just 14 minutes per outing. Forward Shameka Christon continues to get better, as she averaged 12.4 ppg. while starting all 34 contests. The Liberty has some young players with potential, but it may take some time. Forward Cathrine Kraayeveld made big strides as a second-year player, averaging 8.8 ppg. and 4.7 rpg. Rookie guard Sherill Baker lived up to her advanced billing as a top defensive performer, and she also chipped in 7.4 ppg.

    Charlotte (11-23) There was some sting in Charlotte, as it improved its offense by 11 points a game. Four player averaged double figures, led by forward Tangela Smith (13.1 ppg.). Center Tammy Sutton-Brown recorded 11.2 ppg. and a team-leading 5.9 rpg., while forward Sheri Sam scored at a 10.6 rate. Rookie guard/forward Monique Currie averaged an even 10.0 ppg. Forward Allison Feaster came back from 2005 maternity leave, but averaged just 1.7 ppg., in 32 outings, after averaging 9.1 ppg. during the previous eight years. The Sting has to find a way to win seven more games to make the playoffs.

    Chicago (5-29) HELP!! Chicago was last in the league in scoring (68.4 ppg.) while allowing nearly 80 points per night. The bright light each night was rookie center Candice Dupree with 13.7 ppg. and 5.5 rpg. Bernadette Ngoyisa, a 6-4 center playing for her third WNBA team in three seasons, averaged 10.1 ppg., and 5.67 rpg. After that, the Sky has a bunch of marginal players. Chicago also needs to find a new head coach, as Dave Cowens decided he had enough of the WNBA, and took an assistant's job with Detroit of the NBA.

    WESTERN CONFERENCE
    Los Angeles (25-9) Coach Joe Bryant, in his first full year with the Sparks, did a remarkable job in leading LA to its Western Conference title. Many new faces were in the lineup, and forward Chamique Holdsclaw, who seems to have one problem after another, did not start a game, although she did average 15.0 ppg. and 6.1 rpg. in 25 contests. It was mainly Leslie, who had her best campaign ever, and was everyone's MVP. She averaged 20.0 ppg. for the first time ever in the WNBA, and grabbed 9.5 rpg. Leslie had a career high of 3.2 apg. She tied Detroit's Ford for most double-doubles (17). Guard Mwadi Mabika had an average year with 8.5 ppg., but shot just 37.7 percent, lowest of the regulars. Point guard Temeka Johnson adapted to her new surroundings with 8.0 ppg. and 5.0 apg. The scoring was nil after that. How long can Leslie continue to lead this team is the question of the century. With her superb performance in '06, the Sparks managed to finish four games ahead of the pack in the Western Conference.

    Sacramento (21-13) The Monarchs parlayed a stingy defense (70.7 ppg. allowed) with a huge team effort to finish second in the conference during the regular season, and ride the playoffs as far as anyone could go except the winner. Veteran center Yolanda Griffith certainly didn't have a career year, but she still managed to lead the team in scoring (12.0 ppg.) and rebounding (6.4 rpg.). She made the Gballmag.com second team. The big surprise was the play of Buescher, who had averaged just 3.7 ppg. in a four-year pro career. She raised her average to 9.7 ppg., coming off the bench in 22 contests, and was the No. 1 shooter in the league, making 53.7 percent of her shots from the field. Forward Nicole Powell continues to improve with a 9.6 mark, starting all 34 games. Forward DeMya Walker, when healthy, is always a threat, averaging 9.3 ppg. and 4.00 rpg. Guard Kara Lawson is another bench player who averaged 22 minutes a night, and she scored at an 8.1 mark. Rookie guard Scholanda Dorrell started 21 games and averaged 5.2 ppg. in 15.2 minutes of playing time per evening. Except for Griffith and superb point guard Ticha Penicheiro, this is still a young team. A tough rebounder and a guard who can dish it around would be good suggestions for the draft.

    Houston (18-16) Age is beginning to take its toll. For the first time, the Comets had no one on the Gballmag.com first or second teams. Veteran forward Tina Thompson led the team in scoring with 18.7 ppg., but missed 13 games with an injury. Perennial all-star Sheryl Swoopes, a three-time league MVP, averaged 15.5 ppg., but was hampered by injuries even though she played in 31 of 34 games. Guard Dominique Canty, an eight-year vet, was missing from action in 19 contests. When she did play, she added 10.9 points per night. Center Michelle Snow, with five years in the league, is the youngest member of the starters. She averaged 13.0 ppg. and a team-leading 7.91 rpg. Even with age creeping up, the Comets still continued to play good defense (72 ppg. allowed). Houston also lost veteran point guard Dawn Staley, who has retired after an illustrious eight-year career. Van Chancellor is a superb coach, but good mentors are usually surrounded by outstanding talent. That is a thing of the past with this highly successful franchise.

    Seattle (18-16) Forward Lauren Jackson continues her illustrious WNBA career, as she is a four-year first-team all-star, scoring 19.5 ppg. and grabbing 7.7 rpg. Jackson ranked No. 1 in the league in foul shots made (170) and was second in field goal percentage (.535). Point guard Sue Bird (11.4 ppg.) handed out nearly five assists per game. Shooting guard Betty Lennox averaged 13.7 ppg., and center Janell Burse scored at an 11.1 rate and collared 6.6 rpg. The Storm has some young talent in guard Iziane Castro Marques, a Brazilian who averaged 7.2 ppg., and rookie forward Barbara Turner (6.4 ppg.). A couple defensive specialists wouldn't hurt this club.

    Phoenix (18-16) We criticized Coach Paul Westhead's style of play early in the year after seeing Phoenix in the season's opener. While it still lacks for defense, Phoenix was exciting and set a league record for points scored in a game (87.1). It also brought the Mercury a winning campaign, something it hasn't had since 2000. The sky's the limit for Taurasi in the backcourt. She averaged a league-record 25.3 ppg., and set six league scoring records in addition to most points in one game (47). Her running mate, rookie Cappie Pondexter, the Rutgers flash, averaged 19.5 ppg. Forward Penny Taylor started just eight games but averaged 13.9 ppg. and 5.7 rpg. More help, both scoring but more importantly rebounding, is needed up front. There are plenty of missed shots in this Phoenix offense. That makes for many rebounds. The 2007 playoffs are definitely in the Mercury future.

    San Antonio (13-21) Rookie forward Sophia Young certainly didn't take the Alamo by surprise, but her performance certainly was excellent at 12.0 ppg. and 7.6 rpg. She received help from guard Agnieszka Bibrzycka, who scored 11.3 ppg. in her second year with the Silver Stars. Guard Vickie Johnson, who played nine years with New York, and former Connecticut point guard Shannon Johnson each averaged 9.9 ppg. This is a team with a lot of young talent. It will continue to get better. Forward LaToya Thomas has been slow to come back from an injury in 2005, as she played in just 19 games and started none. She averaged 14.2 ppg. for the Silver Stars in 2004. A couple of young centers, Kate Feenstra (7.8 ppg., 6.15) and Chantelle Anderson (6.7 ppg., 3.7 rpg.), shared the starting time.

    Minnesota (10-24) Defense was not a priority on this team, allowing 80.4 ppg. The Lynx should have been better, compiling the worst record in the history of the franchise. Losing a head coach in mid-season probably didn't help. Guard Seimone Augustus added 21.9 ppg. to the Minnesota lineup en route to winning Rookie of the Year honors. She was named to the all-star second team. Center Nicole Ohlde scored at a 9.6 rate, and grabbed a team-leading 5.6 rpg. The Lynx were 1-9 in their last 10 regular-season games. This franchise should be better. Hopefully, a defensive minded mentor will arrive to mend the miscues when without the ball.

    LESLIE NAMED GBALLMAG.COM MVP
    By Dave Wohlhueter

    Surprise, surprise. Los Angeles' superb center Lisa Leslie has been named the 2006 WNBA Most Valuable Player by Gballmag.com. In leading her team to the best record (25-9) in the Western Conference, the 6-5 veteran had one of her finest seasons in a spectacular 10-year WNBA career.

    Leslie heads the Gballmag.com all-league team that lists players from nine different teams. Eastern Conference champion Connecticut has two players on the elite 10. Leslie tied for the league lead in double-doubles (17), and led in defensive rebounds (240). She ranked second in total rebounds (323) and blocks (57). She was third in total points (680), free throws (158) and field goals made (257). She posted career highs for points per game (20.0) and assists (3.2 apg.). In June, the former USC great was selected to the WNBA All-Decade team, and she has been named to the all-league team every season of her 10-year professional career. This season, she became the first WNBA player to reach 5,000 points in a career. A three-time Olympic gold medalist, Leslie, because of personal reasons, elected not to play for the USA this fall in the World Championships.

    Joining Leslie on the Gballmag.com first team are forwards Lauren Jackson of Seattle and Tamika Catchings of Indiana. This is the fourth straight season for Jackson on the Gballmag.com first unit. The Australian was No. 1 in the WNBA for foul shots made (170) and was second in field goal percentage (.535). She ranked third in blocked shots per game (1.70), and was fourth in points per game (19.5) and free throw percentage (.899). The 6-5 Jackson was fifth in the league in rebounds per outing (7.7).

    Catchings is just a superb all-around player. In addition to her offensive skills, her defensive prowess is unmatched. She is the 2006 Gballmag.com Defensive Player of the Year, defending her title from a year ago. She led the league in steals (94) once again. At the other end, she averaged 19.5 ppg., 7.5 rpg. and 3.7 apg. The former Tennessee star played 33.0 minutes per contest, which ranked her sixth in the WNBA. A second-team selection last summer, Catchings was on the 2004 first unit.

    The first-team backcourt consists of Diana Taurasi of Phoenix and Katie Douglas of Connecticut. This is Taurasi's second first-team selection, after making the second unit in 2004, when she was named Rookie of the Year. On August 10, Taurasi set a WNBA single-game record with 47 points. She also set the WNBA single-season scoring record with 860 points for a 25.3 average. The former NCAA Player of the Year, while playing at UConn, set league records for field goals made (298) and attempts (660), and most 3-pt. baskets made (121) and attempted (305). She was fifth in the league in assists (4.09 apg.), and third in minutes played (33.4 mpg.).

    Douglas was the glue that kept Connecticut together. Her first time on any postseason team, the former Purdue great averaged 16.5 ppg., seventh best in the WNBA. She grabbed 3.8 rpg. and handed out 2.5 apg. She ranked fourth in the league in 3-pt. field goal percentage (.422) and in steals (62, 1.94 spg.). Her injury in the playoffs hampered Connecticut's chances of advancing to the finals for the third straight season.

    The second-team backcourt consists of Alana Beard of Washington and rookie Seimone Augustus of Minnesota. Beard, the former Duke star, is a fantastic two-way player. She was sixth in the WNBA in scoring (19.2 ppg.), grabbed 4.7 rebounds per outing, and handed out 3.1 assists per game. Beard ranked sixth in the league in steals (59, 1.84 apg.). She could be counted upon to guard the oppositions' top backcourt ace, or she could make use of her 5-11 versatility to play up front.

    Raising some eyebrows from around the league, Gballmag.com has picked Beard for its Most Improved Player Award. She was good last year with 14.1 ppg. and 4.3 rpg. marks, but the 2006 season raised the bar. Beard increased her point production to 19.2 ppg. Sacramento fifth-year center Erin Buescher was close behind for most improved player. She came off the bench to average 9.7 ppg. and 3.0 rpg., after barely playing for the Monarchs in 2005. We just felt it was harder to jump to all-star recognition, and that's why Beard is our 2006 winner. Indiana forward Tamika Whitmore was also a strong candidate.

    Augustus is the Gballmag.com Rookie of the Year as basically the only shining star on the Lynx in 2006. She did receive stiff competition from Phoenix guard Cappie Pondexter and San Antonio forward Sophia Young. The former LSU All-American was second in the league in scoring (21.9), and ranked fifth in free throw percentage (.897) and minutes played (33.1 mpg.). She grabbed 3.8 rpg., and dished out 1.5 assists per outing. She set a Minnesota team record of 744 points, leading the Lynx in scoring in 27 of 34 games.

    We think Sacramento center Yolanda Griffith deserves to be the second-team center. When the 6-3 Monarch was on her game, which she was down the stretch, Sacramento was extremely successful. Our MVP last year, the former Florida Atlantic star averaged 12.0 ppg., and 6.4 rpg.

    At the forwards are Connecticut veteran Taj McWilliams-Franklin and Detroit ball retriever Cheryl Ford, a pair of double-double producers. McWilliams-Franklin was also on the 2005 second unit. She was third in the league in double-doubles (12), averaging 12.8 ppg. and 8.9 rpg. She also handed out 2.5 apg. Ford had her finest year ever in the WNBA. The only player in the league this summer to average a double-double (13.8 ppg., 11.3 rpg.), the former Louisiana Tech great set a new league record for rebounds (363) for an 11.3 rpg. mark. She tied Leslie for most double-doubles (17).

    This year's group of newcomers was one of the finest rookie classes in the history of the league. Led by Rookie of the Year Augustus, you could easily put together an all-star rookie five. Augustus (21.9 ppg., 3.8 rpg., 0.62 spg.) averaged 33.1 minutes a game in playing time, while shooting .456 from the field, an excellent statistic for a first-year guard.

    Pondexter (19.5 ppg., 3.3 rpg., 1.16 spg.) played even more with an 33.6 mark, shooting .442. Other members of our elite rookie group are San Antonio forward Sophia Young (12.0 ppg., 7.6 rpg., 1.68 spg.), who shot .421 while playing 31.3 minutes each night; Chicago center Candice Dupree (13.7 ppg., 5.5 rpg., 1.26 spg.), who averaged 30.4 minutes per night while shooting .457; and Charlotte guard/forward Monique Currie (10.0 ppg., 3.9 rpg., 1.00 spg.), who played 25 minutes per contest.

    It's time for Mike Thibault to get his reward. Last year, even though he led his team into the finals for the second straight season, we didn't pick him as Coach of the Year. That honor went to John Whisenant of the champion Sacramento Monarchs.

    Step up Mike, the Gballmag.com 2006 Coach of the Year award is yours. The Sun had the best regular-season record (26-8) despite an injury to all-star guard/forward Nykesha Sales. Let's not forget Joe Bryant, who directed Los Angeles to a 4-1 record in the final five games of 2005, and then continued to have the Sparks in the competition throughout the 2006 campaign, producing the best record (25-9) in the West. Dan Hughes continues to improve the play down in San Antonio, and Whisenant took the Monarchs to Game 5 in the finals. And there is always Big Bill Laimbeer at Detroit. Hey, he got the Shock troops organized at the end, and now they call themselves champions.

    Next week, we'll take a postseason look at the WNBA, and prognosticate what to look for in 2007.

    2006 REGULAR SEASON AWARDS
    Gballmag.com Winner
    MVP-Lisa Leslie, Los Angeles
    Defensive Player-Tamika Catchings, Indiana
    Most Improved-Alana Beard, Washington
    Rookie of the Year-Seimone Augustus, Minnesota
    Coach of the Year-Mike Thibault, Connecticut

    WNBA Media Winner
    MVP-Lisa Leslie, Los Angeles
    Defensive Player-Tamika Catchings, Indiana
    Most Improved-Erin Buescher, Sacramento
    Rookie of the Year-Seimone Augustus, Minnesota
    Coach of the Year-Mike Thibault, Connecticut

    GBALLMAG.COM TEAMS
    First Team
    C-Lisa Leslie, Sparks
    F-Lauren Jackson, Storm
    F-Tamika Catchings, Fever
    G-Diana Taurasi, Mercury
    G-Katie Douglas, Sun

    Second Team
    C-Yolanda Griffith, Monarchs
    F-Cheryl Ford, Shock
    F-Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Sun
    G-Alana Beard, Mystics
    G-Seimone Augustus, Lynx

    WNBA TEAMS
    First Team
    C-Lisa Leslie, Sparks
    F-Lauren Jackson, Storm
    F-Tamika Catchings, Fever
    G-Diana Taurasi, Mercury
    G-Katie Douglas, Sun

    Second Team
    C-Cheryl Ford, Shock
    F-Sheryl Swoopes, Comets
    F-Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Sun
    G-Alana Beard, Mystics
    G-Seimone Augustus, Lynx




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