Editor's note: Before the 2006 season tips off, ESPN's Nancy Lieberman and ESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel and Graham Hays each tackle one question facing all 14 WNBA teams. Here, the experts take a closer look at the San Antonio Silver Stars.
Did offseason changes make the team better, the same or worse?
The Silver Stars did great in the offseason, drafting Sophia Young and Shanna Zolman and adding Liberty legend Vickie Johnson, one of the original seven leftovers from the WNBA's inaugural season.
Young will be a very effective pro after leading Baylor to the 2005 NCAA title. And Zolman might be the steal of the draft. She's the career leader at Tennessee in 3-point shooting and already has put up some special numbers from downtown in exhibition play. As coach Dan Hughes said on WNBA.com, "I feel like we're a little bit blessed to have a draft class that includes arguably the best athlete [Young] and the best shooter [Zolman]."
Johnson is a proven stud and should help offset the loss of Marie Ferdinand, who is pregnant and will miss most if not all of the 2006 season. The 34-year-old Johnson brings plenty of intangibles to San Antonio and remains a force on the floor. In her nine-year career, her averages are 11.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists, almost one steal and 31.7 minutes per game, all while shooting nearly 44 percent from the field, including a career-high 47 percent last season. -- ESPN's Nancy Lieberman
What's the best-case scenario for the team? Worst-case?
Best-case: Adding essentially two lottery rookies to the frontcourt in Sophia Young and Kendra Wecker (who suffered a season-ending injury in the first game of her real rookie season) gives the Silver Stars an infusion of energy and, more importantly with Marie Ferdinand out for the year, offensive prowess. Shanna Zolman, lights-out from behind the arc in the preseason, comes off the bench to provide reliable outside shooting for a team that didn't have a single player hit more than 28 3-pointers a year ago. Katie Feenstra continues developing into at least as effective a post as Margo Dydek ever was in Utah or San Antonio. LaToya Thomas finally lives up to her promise, picking up her share of the offensive load with Ferdinand out. And Shannon Johnson stays sane in charge of so many young players, guiding them toward a run at .500.
Worst-case:Young's offensive game isn't ready for major WNBA minutes yet, and Wecker is slow to regain her form after returning from the knee injury. Feenstra remains prone to fouls in her second season (she averaged 2.7 fouls in just 19.8 minutes per game last season). Thomas doesn't put together a breakout offensive season, leaving Johnson to shoulder too much of the scoring load. With the young players struggling, San Antonio's lack of depth again becomes an issue. -- ESPN.com's Graham Hays
As the WNBA celebrates its 10-year anniversary, what does this franchise
mean to the league?
The Silver Stars mean "second chance." It's unfortunate that the franchise didn't work out in Utah -- there were plenty of mistakes made there on top of it being a hard market to crack in terms of support for women's basketball. The potential fan base is more reliable in San Antonio. But as coach Dan Hughes says, people there need to see the Silver Stars playing meaningful games late in the season. -- ESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel