WEDNESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
- Shoni and her WNBA impact
- Great verbal from DeGrate
( CONTRIBUTING COLUMNIST GARY WITHERSPOON LOOKS AT SHONI'S IMPACT ON THE WNBA IN UTOUR WEDENSDAY CARDINAL COUPLE. SHONI ALSO GOT A STANDING OVATION MONDAY NIGHT WHEN SHE, MARIYA MOORE, SARA HAMMOND AND JEFF WALZ WERE INTRODUCED AND RECOGNIZED FOR THEIR SUMMER ACCOMPLISHMENTS TO THE SOLD OUT PAPA JOHN'S CARDINAL STADIUM CROWD DURING A TIMEOUT IN THE LOUISVILLE V. MIAMA FOOTBALL GAME. )
The Future of Rez Ball:
Impact of Shoni Schimmel’s Rookie Season on the WNBA
It was a matter of dismay and consternation for some Shoni Schimmel fans that she was left off the WNBA All-Rookie team (http://www.ndnsports.com/atlanta-dreams-shoni-schimmel-left-off-the-wnba-all-rookie-team/). Three noted WNBA commentators also discussed their disagreement with the vote (https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=651373868303277).
The rookie team vote was a predictable snub given the fact that I think this selection is by media vote, and the media normally go by comparative statistics. Because the other rookies played on teams with worse records and not as heavily laden with veteran talent, they got more minutes and thus put up more points and rebounds per game than Shoni did. But in an objective view, few if any rookies have ever had a bigger impact on the WNBA from the perspective of performance records, outstanding plays, performance style, fan and media attention, merchandise sales and ticket sales. With all those accomplishments, missing the All-Rookie team will probably be remembered in the future as an insignificant footnote to her rookie season, but it also attests to the depth of talent in the 2014 rookie class.
Shoni set a record of 21 assists in her first two games in the WNBA, and became only one of six players to ever score 20 or more points in a single quarter, a record that came against the best team in the WNBA. She was the first rookie to ever win the All-Star MVP, and she set a record for the most points ever scored by any player in a WNBA All-Star game. She also had a record seven threes in the All-Star game, and her four two pointers were all sensational shots. The back-handed flip shot over Griner was deemed by WNBA TV to be the number one highlight of the season. She made Player of the Week (not rookie of the week) in the last week of the season (only one other player on the all rookie team ever accomplished that). Her jersey sales led the WNBA, and her merchandise sales put Atlanta at the top of team merchandise sales. Her plays made the ESPN Sports Center top ten twice during the season.
With the kind of a resume that Shoni accumulated through the season, there was plenty of reason to not only put her on the All-Rookie team but to have made her Rookie of the Year. There is no doubt that she had the greatest total impact on the WNBA of all 2014 rookies, but there is room for critics to find holes in her game and in her stats and thus justify in their minds not including her in the All-Rookie awards. As it was in high school and college, her Rez Ball style of play continued to be controversial and votes like these illuminate those controversies. It will take years to fully evaluate, but her style of play may well have a permanent affect on the women’s game of the future, just as Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan affected the style of play in the NBA. While current WNBA players may not emulate her style of play, girls now playing at the AAU level may start emulating Shoni’s style more and more; and. over time, and that emulation will impact the way women’s basketball is played in the future. This is more likely to occur if Shoni continues to be a big fan draw, a frequent WNBA highlight reel focus and if her team has even greater success in the regular season and in the playoffs than they had this year.
As for the 2-1 playoff defeat of the Atlanta Dream by the Chicago Sky, it showed great resilience on the part of the Sky, and a monumental collapse by the Dream especially in the third and deciding game where they gave up a 20 point lead, a 17 point lead in the fourth quarter and a 3 point lead with less than 25 seconds to go, a one point lead with Atlanta shooting two free throws (both missed) with less than 10 seconds to go, as well as a missing a 15 foot jumper that could have won the game at the buzzer.
In hind sight, I think the move by the Atlanta Dream management to sign the French point guard Celine Dumerc turned out to be a counter-productive. It is perfectly understandable how it looked like a good move in the spring before the draft. Neither of the likely starting guards for the Dream, Hayes and Thomas, were anything approaching an ideal point guard, despite both being good players and Hayes having a much better season than was expected. When Dumerc was signed, the Dream did not know they would be getting Shoni Schimmel in the draft, nor did they know how good Shoni would be in the WNBA as a point guard.
The other problem with the Dumerc signing was that Dumerc herself never got fully comfortable playing with the Dream and playing in the WNBA. Despite the extensive international experience of the 32 year old Dumerc, she did not adjust to being the Dream’s point guard as quickly or as well as Shoni did. The fact that Dumerc did not join the Dream until June, the third month of the season, also proved to be more of a problem than was originally anticipated.
What her presence did do was keep the guard rotation in flux all season, while the Dream coaches were giving her time to adjust to the Dream’s style and players and to adjust to play in the WNBA. While some progress was made by Dumerc, her presence in the lineup kept Thomas’s and Schimmel’s role on the team, as well as that of Ajavon, in flux the whole season, and the team never developed the on-court chemistry and complementarity that coaches and management envisioned.
Next year it just might be a wise move for the Dream to draft Jude Schimmel to be their future point guard. Let’s see how Jude does as the incumbent point guard for the Cardinals this season.