Dishin & Swishin 8/30/12 Podcast: Guard play dominating in the West; Sue Bird & Alana Beard ready their teams for the postseason
Connecticut and U.S. senior national team coach Geno Auriemma has always been fond of saying that guard play is the key to winning championships.
In the WNBA Western Conference, guard play is outstanding for the four teams that will most likely be in the playoffs. The top three have already clinched their postseason berth.
Be it the Minnesota Lynx duo of Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus, San Antonio’s Becky Hammon and Danielle Robinson, Los Angeles’ Kristi Toliver and Alana Beard, or Seattle’s long-standing tandem of Sue Bird and Tanisha Wright, they are the engines driving their teams toward their playoff collisions.
On this week’s podcast, Dishin & Swishin is pleased to welcome two of those guards. They play with the best posts in the world and are crucial to their team’s success.
There are not many stories this season that are more heartwarming than that of Alana Beard. Two years out with leg problems that would have ended many careers, Beard never gave up, even when the Washington Mystics, the only team she had ever played for, decided to give up on her and cut her loose. She persevered, and has rewarded the Sparks for taking a chance on her, giving them over thirty minutes per game and starting all 24 this season.
While her defense has always been outstanding, the break allowed Beard time to work on her individual offensive game. The result has been over 15 points per game, and a 4-0 start. In addition, her ability to handle the ball has freed Toliver to be the offensive force she has become.
Beard discusses her team, the recovery and return from her injuries, the rest of the Western Conference, opportunities created and opportunities lost plus finding success on and off the court.
Next, we talk with one of the most recognized players in the WNBA, perhaps in the history of the league. Seattle Storm point guard Sue Bird has consistently been one of the best in the world at her position, and has the championships, medals, and rings to prove it.
The Storm has had an unusual season, with the absence of Lauren Jackson pre-Olympics, the signing and then subsequent injuries suffered by former All-Stars Tina Thompson and Ann Wauters and the integration of them and the rookies into their rotation. In fact, this week was the first time all season that the Storm had their roster of eleven players available for the game.
The season’s circumstances forced Bird into a bit of an unusual role. For the first time in her career, she leads the team in scoring. It is a statistic she is not particularly comfortable with and she looks to give it up to others as soon as possible.
In the podcast, Bird talks about the mental and physical toll taken on the Olympians by the games, the importance of the return of not just Jackson but the others as well, how Seattle is looking to handle the bizarre situation of already knowing their playoff spot, but not the opponent, with ten games to go, and so much more.
In short: two great guards, two stars looking for championships; one her third, one her first.
It seems they are on their way towards a possible playoff collision.
Enjoy the podcast!