No games in the WNBA today, so we’re on to the fifth edition of Classic WNBA Monday. In case you missed any of the first four:
Today I’m going back to 2004 for the July 9, 2004, matchup between the Phoenix Mercury and the Minnesota Lynx, featuring a number of Olympians and league legends: Katie Smith, Teresa Edwards, Diana Taurasi, Penny Taylor, Nikki McCray, Plenette Pierson, plus Suzie McConnell Serio, Nancy Darsch, Carrie Graf, and Brian Agler coaching.
- I wonder if current Lynx assistant coach Katie Smith remembers who then star Lynx player Katie Smith was talking to on her flip phone as she was walking in to this game:
- Phoenix enters this game 8-9 while Minnesota is 7-9. The two teams had already played each other twice, splitting the pair (MIN 76-68, PHO 69-49).
- Phoenix had the worst record in the league the year prior, capitalizing on that finish by drafting Diana Taurasi first overall in the 2004 WNBA Draft.
- Minnesota is in their second year under head coach Suzie McConnnell Serio, former great point guard for the Cleveland Rockers. Phoenix is in their first year under head coach Carrie Graf, who had been an assistant there for four years prior. Mercury assistant coach Brian Agler is just a couple years removed from being the Lynx head coach, and he’ll make his return to head coaching in the WNBA down the line.
- Marney Gellner and Andrea Lloyd-Curry are calling the game from Target Center. Lloyd-Curry was a great player at Texas during their undefeated run to the NCAA title in 1986, and she played a couple of years for the Lynx (1999-2000). Gellner still calls Lynx game to this day.
- As mentioned on the broadcast, Minnesota lost to Indiana just the night before, so this could be a tough second night of a back-to-back for them.
- (18:54, 1st - 7:36 video) The Lynx get a great backdoor cut to a nice pass under the basket, but it doesn’t finish in a bucket.
- I’ll never get enough of Katie Smith’s shooting form, way beyond the three-point line here:
- (18:07, 1st - 8:24 video) Taurasi posting up Helen Darling outside the lane, pushing her back in and turning in to a baseline jumper feels like something I’ve seen so many times over the years.
- Around the 12:00 mark of the 1st half the Lynx go up 13-5, and they stick on 13 for a while. From here the game takes a couple of huge turns led first by Anna DeForge with a couple of threes to start. You might think a 2004 Mercury game is naturally a Taurasi game, but no, this is an Anna DeForge game for the Mercury. DeForge was the Mercury’s best player over this 2003-2004 period, and she has an incredible shooting night here.
- Andrea Lloyd-Curry mentions you’d have to be about 6‘8 to defend this DeForge turnaround jumper on the baseline. Ironically, it’s Phoenix who’ll end up with the 6‘8 player about a decade from now.
- (15:48, 2nd - 1:14:57 video) Great rebound, pass up to the logo to DeForge, spinning outlet to Penny Taylor for the layup
- (13:08, 2nd - 1:19:42 video) Long three plus the and-one for Anna DeForge puts Phoenix up 18. Easy to think this game has slipped too far away from the Lynx…
- Phoenix is up 53-33 with 8:06 left in the 2nd half. This game is over…right?
- (6:32, 2nd - 1:35:52 video) Vanessa Hayden is just so big and strong inside. Of course this game isn’t over, as she gets a Lynx run started with a big finish plus the foul. Stacey Lovelace gets the rebound out to a three for Amber Jacobs, and the momentum completely changes.
- (2:51, 2nd - 1:42:40 video) Amber Jacobs with a huge confident three off the Hayden screen to make it a 58-50 game
- (20.4, 2nd - 1:54:17 video) Katie Smith is subbed in after a long stretch on the bench and immediately draws two defenders and makes a great pass out to Stacey Lovelace for three.
- Free throws make the difference down the stretch, as Lovelace makes a pair and Taurasi misses a pair. Katie Smith goes 1-2 to make it interesting, but a huge steal by Amanda Lassiter prevents a potential miracle shot from the Mercury to tie or win.
That’s it for today. Enjoy the game, and enjoy your Monday!
P.S. In case you missed them, now’s a good time to catch up on the most recent Friday Firsts: Teresa Weatherspoon logs 1,000 assists.