At the conclusion of the WNBA season for the Australian contingent, we look back on how all eight Aussie members of the league fared in 2015.
PHOENIX MERCURY: 20-14, lost in Western Conference Finals
Following their 2014 Championship, a loss in the Western Conference Finals, in which they did not win a game, is a disappointing result. On a positive note, the Mercury have now made the playoffs for the past three seasons with Aussie coach Sandy Brondello continuing their recent success after taking over last year.
Leilani Mitchell- Played every game of the regular season and finished with the second-best three-point shooting percentage for players who averaged at least a make per game. She complimented her deadly three-point shooting with the second-best assist ratio for the Mercury while playing 23 minutes per game. 12 points, six assists and two steals in Game 1 of the Conference Semi-Finals helped set up the series win for Phoenix.
Stats: 6.7 points, 2.7 assists, 40% three-point shooting, 89% free-throw shooting.
Cayla Francis- Making a splash in the absence of Brittany Griner early in the season, Francis finished with two starts while playing every game of her debut season. She was the team’s fifth best rebounder and fourth best shot-blocker while playing less than half the minutes of every team-mate above her. A double-double (14 points, 12 rebounds) in the final game of the regular season was a strong finish.
Stats: 5 points, 3.1 rebounds, 43% field-goal shooting, 86% free-throw shooting.
Tess Madgen- Although she was waived a month into the season to make way for Marta Xargay, Madgen’s hard-nosed defence was on show with four steals in her opening two games. All of her field goals came from beyond the arc with her best performance coming against Indiana when she collected three points, four rebounds, an assist and a steal.
Stats: 1.3 points, .8 steals in 7.5 minutes.
Look back on how Tess was feeling in the lead-up to the season on her personal blog for Basketball Australia here: http://www.basketball.net.au/tess-madgen-blog-feeling-heat-phoenix/
SEATTLE STORM: 10-24, fifth in Western Conference
An 8-9 home record gave Seattle fans something to cheer about through the season but their form on the road (2-15) never put them in contention for the playoffs. A new head coach in Jenny Boucek was unable to turn around their fortunes as they have now missed the finals for two straight seasons but winning the number one pick in next year’s draft will give them hope for 2016.
Abby Bishop- One of the team’s top defenders for the season, Bishop finished second in blocks and fourth for steals in Seattle while adding 3.5 rebounds a game. Although her talents were less required at the offensive end, she started with a bang against Los Angeles in her fourth game with 18 points while she went on to record double-figures four times.
Stats: 4.3 points, 2.6 rebounds while starting 14 games.
Jenna O’Hea- Improving on her career numbers across the board, O’Hea shot a team high 38% from the three-point line and 92% from the free-throw line (fourth in the league). The guard played all 34 games with a season-high 17 points coming against Minnesota while recording six double-figure games for the year.
Stats: 4.7 points, 1.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists.
LOS ANGELES SPARKS: 14-20, lost in Western Conference Semi-Finals
A strong finish to the season in which six of their 14 wins came from their last ten games, the Sparks reached the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year. They were out-matched against Minnesota in the Semi-Finals but showed great determination, winning Game 2 before succumbing in the deciding match.
Erin Phillips- An injury-plagued season ended prematurely for Phillips in August with a knee issue dashing her hopes of a WNBA finals stint. She played just 12 games for the season but started every one, finishing fourth for assists and fifth for rebounds in the team. Shooting 4-6 from the three-point line in a 20-point performance against Phoenix was a glimpse of how good Australia’s most experienced WNBA player can be.
Stats: 6.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 85% free-throw shooting.
Mariana Tolo- The third Australian player in the WNBA to suffer a knee injury for the year, Tolo’s campaign came to an end after 28 games as she also missed the Sparks’ playoff run. Averaging 18 minutes a content, the centre was integral to Los Angeles’ regular season, reaching double-figures five times. Her all-round game was on show when she collected eight points, five boards, six assists and two blocks against San Antonio without a turnover.
Stats: 4.9 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block
NEW YORK LIBERTY: 23-11, currently 1-1 in East Conference Finals
A superb year has seen New York finish with the best regular season record and they are currently fighting to win their first ever Championship title.
Bec Allen- In what was devastating news, Allen suffered a season-ending knee injury after playing just two games. In her debut, she tallied six points, three rebounds and three steals before grabbing six boards and two blocks against Washington before disaster struck.
Stats: 3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1 block, 1.5 steals.
Read what Allen had to say on her personal blog for Basketball Australia here: http://www.basketball.net.au/bec-allen-blog/