Inside the Monarchs

Updated: May 17, 2007, 10:37 AM ET
ESPN.com

Editor's note: Before the 2007 season tips off Saturday, ESPN's Nancy Lieberman and ESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel and Graham Hays each tackle one question facing all 13 WNBA teams. Here, the experts take a closer look at the Sacramento Monarchs.

What makes you want to watch this team?

MORE ON THE MONARCHS
QUICK FACTS:
The Monarchs went 21-13 in the regular season before losing to Detroit in the WNBA Finals. Coach Jenny Boucek enters her first season in Sacramento.

2006 LEADERS:
Yolanda Griffith was tops in scoring (12.0 ppg) and rebounding (6.4). Ticha Penicheiro ranked first in assists (3.4) and steals (1.7).

WNBA.com:
ROSTER | STATS | SCHEDULE

The orchestra is much the same with the Monarchs, but the maestro is different. Jenny Boucek has taken over as coach and will try to maintain all that was good for Sacramento -- and that's plenty -- while still attempting to put her own stamp on the franchise. -- ESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel

What's the best-case scenario for the team? Worst-case?

Best of times: New coach Jenny Boucek's energy erases any possibility of a mental letdown after last season's disappointing finish against Detroit in the WNBA Finals, and Sacramento's experience carries it to the top of a conference that appears to be in a state of flux. A former WNBA player with extensive coaching experience in the league, Boucek earns the respect of her veteran team and maintains the sort of defensive discipline that was a hallmark of former coach John Whisenant's system. Back for (at least) one more season, longtime anchor Yolanda Griffith keeps the Monarchs solid in the middle, giving Rebekkah Brunson and DeMya Walker space to operate as forwards. Nicole Powell solidifies her place as one of the league's best wing players by improving her shooting percentage, and young players like Scholanda Robinson, Kim Smith and newly acquired La'Tangela Atkinson step forward to keep the veterans fresh for the postseason.

Worst of times: The Monarchs struggle to adjust to a new regime and get off to a slow start with four road games to open the regular season. Powell struggles to get her 3-point shooting back in the 40 percent range, leaving Kara Lawson and Robinson to shoulder a heavier load from outside. After an up-and-down postseason that included some moments where she looked like a future superstar, Kristin Haynie fails to step forward and handle 20-25 minutes a night in the backcourt. Adrian Williams and Brittany Wilkins are unable to contribute in the post, leaving the Monarchs to either play Griffith more minutes than her knees might withstand or go small in the frontcourt. And even as offensive roles expand, the Monarchs lose some of the edge they gained through exceptional defense and rebounding. -- ESPN.com's Graham Hays

Did offseason changes make the team better, the same or worse?

The same. Though the Monarchs added to what was already a complete roster in getting back Chelsea Newton, who played in Chicago last season after helping Sacramento win the 2005 title, losing reserves Erin Buescher, the 2006 most improved player, and Hamchetou Maiga-Ba hurts. -- ESPN's Nancy Lieberman

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