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  • GBALLMAG.COM MID-SEASON REPORT CARD
    By Dave Wohlhueter

    Going into the second half of the season, it's time to check out the best performers of the 2007 WNBA campaign.

    Races for the top honors are fierce, starting right with the most valuable player award. It's really a two-person race for MVP between Indiana forward Tamika Catchings and Seattle forward Lauren Jackson.

    Catchings has her team at a feverish pitch, currently riding a five-game winning streak and in first place in the Eastern Conference with a 15-4 slate. The former Tennessee All-American is averaging 16.5 ppg. and is No. 3 in the league in rebounds (8.8 rpg.). She has the most foul shots made (102), and on the defensive end, she is No. 1 in steals (3.21 spg.), and No. 8 in blocked shots (1.21).

    Jackson is No. 1 in the WNBA in scoring average (22.1 ppg.), and No. 2 in rebounding (9.4 rpg.). She is No. 4 in field goal percentage (.516), and has made 42.5 percent of her shots from behind the arc. Defensively, the Aussie is No. 1 in blocked shots (2.15 bpg.).

    I give my vote to Catchings for her contributions in getting the Fever into first place ahead of defending champion Detroit. Catchings should also successfully defend her Defensive Player of the Year title.

    The mid-season Most Improved Player Award goes to Chicago second-year forward Candice Dupree. She is averaging 19.1 ppg., and is No. 5 in rebounds per outing (8.2 rpg.). Dupree is No. 2 in the WNBA with seven double-doubles, and ranks No. 4 in minutes played (34.8 mpg.). The Sky's top player is No. 5 in the league in blocked shots per game (1.45 bpg.). Dupree is one of the keys to Chicago (8-12) competing for a playoff berth and already having won more games than any other year.

    Certainly providing competition for Dupree would be Connecticut veteran forward Asjha Jones. Coming off the bench in her first five years in the WNBA, Jones is now a regular and is averaging 15.6 ppg.

    Midseason Rookie of the Year honors must go to Minnesota point guard Lindsey Harding, although she may lose this honor due to her season-ending ACL injury. In 20 games, the former Duke great has averaged 11.6 ppg., tops amongst rookies, 4.4 rpg. and 3.90 apg. Competition is coming from Chicago guard Armintie Price, who is averaging 8.5 ppg., 6.8 rpg., and 3.20 apg. Price is another one of the keys to the Sky's first-half success.

    Coach of the Year honors should go to Dan Hughes of San Antonio. Hughes has put together a cohesive unit that is one of the better defensive teams in the WNBA. At 13-6, the Silver Stars are on top of the Western Conference with a 1.5 game lead over last year's conference champ Sacramento.

    The Gballmag.com mid-season all-star first team lists Catchings and Jackson at the forwards, Detroit's Cheryl Ford at center, and Becky Hammon of San Antonio and Deanna Nolan of Detroit at the guards.

    Ford, the All-Star Game MVP, is the only player in the league averaging a double-double. She is scoring at a 12.8 clip, and is No. 1 in rebounding (10.7). She ranks No. 5 in field goal percentage (.508) and steals (2.00). Ford is No. 3 in double-doubles (6).

    Hammon could also be a Most Improved Player candidate. Last year she battled through an injury-plagued season with New York. The draft day trade to the Silver Stars has enabled the veteran backcourt ace to improve her scoring (19.4 ppg.) and rank No. 1 in assists per game (5.31). She is shooting 48.4 percent from the field, including 40.4 percent from behind the arc. Her 92.7 free throw percentage ranks her No. 5 in the WNBA.

    Nolan is having her best professional campaign. She is averaging 16.8 ppg. and is No. 9 in assists per outing (4.21 apg.). She is shooting 46.2 percent from the field, including 41.1 percent in 3-pt. land. On the defensive end, Nolan is ranked No. 9 in steals (1.58 spg.).

    That's how it looks in a WNBA season that has been marked by quality and competitiveness. In the Eastern Conference, six games separate the first four teams, but Washington (7-12), in last place, is only two games out of the final playoff spot.

    Only three games separate the first four teams in the Western Conference, which should make for an exciting second half.

    With these crucial team races, every player will have to step up their respective games to make postseason play a reality.




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