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Past articles:
  • WNBA '07 mid-sesason report card

  • The 2007 Young All-American Team

  • WNBA 2007 draft preview

  • Phoenix wins 2007 draft lottery

  • 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

    By Dave Wohlhueter

    This writer has a philosophy that most valuable players should be integral in their teams winning a championship, or at least advancing to the final series of the season.

    Using this type of thinking would give this year's most valuable player award to maybe Diana Taurasi or Penny Taylor of Phoenix, or possibly Cheryl Ford or Deanna Nolan at Detroit. Certainly Becky Hammon had to be considered for his contributions to San Antonio's success this past season.

    But this year, we're going to throw our personal thoughts out the window and select veteran forward Lauren Jackson of Seattle. Jackson also heads the all-league first team that lists players from nine different franchises. WNBA champion Phoenix has two players on the elite first unit.

    Jackson had one of the finest seasons in the 11-year history of the WNBA. Her scoring average of 23.8 ppg. was a career-best and she led the league in that category for the third year. She also topped the league in rebounds per outing (9.7). She also had the most double-doubles (17), and set a league record with nine games of scoring 30 points or more. And while dominating at the offensive end of the court, she was named to the WNBA All-Defensive team, ranking second in the loop in blocked shots (2.47 bpg.).

    During the season, the Australia native became the youngest (26 years, 77 days) player to reach 4,000 points in the WNBA in the fewest games.

    This is the fifth straight season for Jackson on the first unit. Jackson's only downer was that she couldn't get the Storm beyond the first round of the playoffs.

    Joining Jackson on the first unit are guard/forward Taurasi and forward Taylor of Phoenix. This is Taurasi's third straight first-team selection after making the second unit as a rookie in 2004, when she was named Rookie of the Year. Taurasi was third in the league (19.2 ppg.) in scoring, and ranked No. 1 in most 3-pt. baskets made (96) and attempts (259). She ranked eighth in the WNBA in assists (4.28 apg.). Taurasi sacrificed some of her offensive abilities to help Phoenix excel, and the Mercury responded by going all the way to the top of the WNBA for the first time ever.

    Taylor, the Most Improved Player of the Year Award winner, was another important part in the success of Phoenix. The Aussie averaged 17.8 ppg., nearly four points per contest better than 2006, and five points better than her career average. She averaged 6.3 rpg., and shot 49.9 percent in 2007 compared to 5.7 rpg. and 44.5 percent in 2006. Taylor topped the WNBA in free throws made (175x198, .884).

    San Antonio's Hammon is joined in the backcourt on the first team by Nolan of Detroit. Hammon was sent to the Silver Stars in a draft day trade with New York. Selected as co-winner with Jackson of the WNBA Peak Performer Award, she averaged 18.8 ppg. in leading San Antonio to the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. In addition to scoring points (5th in the WNBA), Hammon was No. 1 in assists (5.00 apg.), which was double her career average.

    Nolan had career-highs for points (16.3 ppg.) and assists (3.9 apg.). She was a key part of the Shock compiling the best record in the WNBA (24-10). She was third in the league in minutes played (34.5), and named to the WNBA All-Defensive first team.

    Named to the second team were Indiana forward Tamika Catchings, Houston forward Tina Thompson, forward/guard Katie Douglas of Connecticut, forward/guard Alana Beard of Washington, and Minnesota guard Seimone Augustus.

    Catchings, despite missing 13 games with an injury, led the league in steals (66) and steals per outing (3.14), and is the Defensive Player of the Year for the third straight season. The former Tennessee All-American averaged 16.6 ppg. and 9.0 rpg., and tied with teammate Tully Bevilaqua for the best steals to turnover ratio of 1.06.

    Thompson was a diamond in the rough for the Comets this season. She led the league in minutes played per game (36.3) and total minutes (1,233). After an injury-plagued 2006 season, she bounced back to average 18.8 ppg. and 6.7 rpg., and was a constant threat. This season, she became the fourth player in WNBA history to grab 2,000 career rebounds.

    Douglas led the Sun in scoring at 17.0 ppg., and was named to the WNBA Defensive first team. She averaged 3.7 assists and 4.6 rebounds per contest. Last year she made the first unit.

    Beard kept Washington competitive late in the season. She was fourth in the WNBA in scoring (18.8) and tossed out 3.0 assists per outing. Named to the WNBA Defensive first team, she averaged 1.9 steals per contest. She also made the second team in 2006.

    Augustus was the consensus Rookie of the Year last season, and made the second unit. She followed up last year's first season with another great year. The former collegiate Player of the Year at LSU averaged 22.6 ppg. and had the most points (769) in the league, playing in all 31 games. She was No. 1 in field goals made (296x583).

    The WNBA was once again blessed with an outstanding rookie class. The 2007 NCAA Player of the Year Lindsey Harding, the No. 1 pick in the collegiate draft, lived up to her billing, averaging 11.7 ppg. and 3.9 apg., but suffered a season-ending injury after playing in the first 20 contests. Forward Sidney Spencer of Los Angeles had a great year on the West Coast after coming from Tennessee. She averaged 9.6 ppg. and 4.1 rpg. in all 34 games. She made 54 field goals from behind the 3-pt. arc for 43.9 percent.

    The Rookie of the Year Award goes to Chicago guard Armintie Price, who was the third pick in the collegiate draft after a fantastic career at Ole Miss. Price played in all 34 games for the Sky, averaging 7.9 ppg. and 2.9 apg. Though being just 5-9, she helped Chicago on the boards, grabbing 6.0 caroms per outing. Price was key to Chicago winning 14 games in 2007, after just five victories in 2006.

    There were so many candidates for Coach of the Year. Our pick is Dan Hughes of San Antonio. He mixed together veterans and youngsters to help the Silver Stars to a 20-14 record, which was a 14-game improvement over 2006. San Antonio set franchise records for total points, total rebounds, field goals made, 3-pt. field goals made, assists and steals. Hughes also won the Coach of the Year Award in 2001 as the head coach of Cleveland.

    We certainly can't miss mentioning Paul Westhead for taking Phoenix all the way to the top; Bill Laimbeer, who nearly had the Shock repeat as champion; Patty Coyle, who shaped a young New York Liberty team into a future contender; and Bo Overton, who in his first year nearly had Chicago in the playoffs.

    MVP: Lauren Jackson, Seattle
    Defensive Player: Tamika Catchings, Indiana
    Most Improved: Penny Taylor, Phoenix
    Rookie of the Year: Armintie Price, Chicago
    Coach of the Year: Dan Hughes, San Antonio

    WNBA Media Winner
    MVP: Lauren Jackson, Seattle
    Defensive Player: Lauren Jackson, Seattle
    Most Improved: Janel McCarville, New York
    Rookie of the Year: Armintie Price, Chicago
    Coach of the Year: Dan Hughes, San Antonio

    First Team
    Lauren Jackson, Storm
    Diana Taurasi, Mercury
    Penny Taylor, Mercury
    Becky Hammon, Silver Stars
    Deanna Nolan, Shock

    Second Team
    Tamika Catchings, Fever
    Katie Douglas, Sun
    Tina Thompson, Comets
    Alana Beard, Mystics
    Seimone Augustus, Lynx

    First Team
    Lauren Jackson, Storm
    Diana Taurasi, Mercury
    Penny Taylor, Mercury
    Becky Hammon, Silver Stars
    Deanna Nolan, Shock

    Second Team
    Tamika Catchings, Fever
    Katie Douglas, Sun
    Tina Thompson, Comets
    Sophia Young, Silver Stars
    Seimone Augustus, Lynx

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