Over a quarter of the way through the 2015 WNBA season, we check in with the Australian representatives from Phoenix Mercury, Seattle Storm and Los Angeles Sparks.
PHOENIX MERCURY: 6-5, third in Western Conference
Just one home loss is helping to balance the Mercury’s season so far while a three-game winning streak has got them back over a 50% win rate. Their 2-4 road record is the second worst for a potential finalist but their 31-point recent thrashing of Tulsa was an indication of how dangerous this side can be.
Leilani Mitchell- Averaging just under double-digits, Mitchell (9.5 points per game) has the second best long range shooting percentage (49%) for players making at least one three-pointer per game. After hitting just 1-3 in 19 minutes in a game against Minnesota, she quickly bounced back against San Antonio with 16 points, including 4-5 shooting from beyond the arc. Mitchell has started every match, already surpassing her total from 2013.
Cayla Francis- The return of Brittany Griner has seen Francis’ minutes drop from an average of 20 to eight. She has still contributed in those latest games but her early-season form cannot be forgotten as she impressed the entire competition. In two straight games against Seattle and San Antonio, the centre recorded 11 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block before backing up that performance with 13 points, six boards, two steals and three blocks.
Tess Madgen- After recording baskets in each of her first two games, Madgen was unable to hit the scoreboard again although her tenacious defence helped to an average of a steal per game. Unfortunately, according to an update on the Phoenix Mercury website, Madgen has been waived. Hopefully this short stint was just the beginning for her in the WNBA while there is sure to be interest from the entire WNBL league as their season begins in a couple of months.
SEATTLE STORM: 3-10, fourth in Western Conference
Seattle have fallen agonisingly short a number of times already this season, losing four games by six points or less. They have dropped their last three but that losing streak was preceded by a win over the then ladder-leading Tulsa Shock, proving they could be still a threat this season.
Abby Bishop- In a narrow loss to Minnesota, Bishop recorded her best overall game with 12 points and nine rebounds. Her two matches prior to that clash saw her block a total of eight shots, helping her to the equal- best block average in the team. As a forward, Bishop can draw the rim protectors away from the basket with her three-point shot and she has proven herself capable so far this year, nailing 33%.
Jenna O’Hea- Starting every game, O’Hea has reached double figures twice this season while proving her exceptional stroke with 15-16 shooting from the free throw line. In the same match as Bishop’s best game, O’Hea tallied a career-high 17 points, showcasing her ability to hit the spot-up shot as well as score off the dribble.
LOS ANGELES SPARKS: 2-8, fifth in Western Conference
After an 0-7 start to the year, the Sparks have won two of their last three games to get their season on track. They sit just one game outside the Western Conference top four but will be looking to arrest their 0-4 road record first.
Erin Phillips- Averaging nine points and five assists through her first three games, Phillips suffered a knee injury on June 22 that has kept her out indefinitely. As Australia’s most experienced WNBA player, the Sparks are certainly missing her leadership on the court.
Mariana Tolo- After a quiet patch of four game without reaching double-figures, Tolo has averaged 11 points in her past two games. She is shooting 53% from the field, the fourth best mark in the team and has settled into a role quickly, playing 24 minutes per night and starting in all but one match as she accompanies Jantel Lavender in the paint.