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May 24, 2015Basketball

The WNBA Comes to the KFC Yum Center in Louisville

May 24, 2015 Louisville, KY. (Analyzed Sports)

Louisville Hosts the WNBA

Saturday was the first time the Women’s National Basketball Association ever came to Louisville, Kentucky and it drew a crowd of a nearly 6,350 people. WNBA President Laurel Richie was in attendance to watch the two WNBA preseason games hosted at the KFC Yum Center . The four teams who played were the Indiana Fever, Connecticut Sun, Washington Mystics, and the Atlanta Dream. The event itself was called the Atlanta Dream Classic, as the Atlanta roster included former University of Louisville Women’s basketball players Shoni Schimmel and Angel McCoughtry. However the emphasis for all four teams would be getting prepared for the 2015 WNBA season, thus a lot of the starters didn’t play in Saturday’s games. Sitting the starters would allow a lot of rookies who were unsigned to get their chance to prove that they were worthy of having a WNBA contract.

Laurel Richie

Laurel Richie

Game One: Sun vs Fever: The first WNBA game at the KFC Yum Center included a matchup between the Connecticut Sun and the Indiana Fever. The Fever ended last season with a record of just 16-18 but still managed to make it all the way to the WNBA Eastern Conference Finals. The Connecitcut Sun finished the 2014 WNBA season with a record of just 13 wins and 24 losses, making them the worst team in the Eastern conference.

The starters for the Fever were Marissa Coleman, Natasha Howard, Lynetta Kizer, Jeanatte Pohlen, and Layisha Clarendon. The Connecticut Sun starters were Alyssa Thomas, Camile Little, Kelsey Bone, Alex Bentley, and Jasmine Thomas. The final score would be 76 to 68 as the Connecticut Sun came away with the win. The leading scorer for the Sun was rookie Chelsea Gray, who also had two assists and two rebounds. The leading scorer for the Fever was rookie Natalie Achonwa with 13 points, to go along with four rebounds and two assists.

Fevers' Layshia Clarendon  drives past Chelsea Gray

Fevers’ Layshia Clarendon drives past Chelsea Gray

Game Two : Mystics vs Dream: The second WNBA game at the KFC Yum Center was a matchup between the  Washington Mystics and the Atlanta Dream. The Atlanta Dream finished the 2014 Season with a 19-15 record, making them the top seed in the East. However the Dream were defeated in the 1st round of the WNBA Playoffs by the 4th seeded Chicago Sky. As for the Washington Mystics they finished the 2014 WNBA season at 16-18 and were defeated in the 1st round of the WNBA Playoffs.

The starters for the Washington Mystics were Kalana Greene, Emma Meesseman, Kia Vaughn, Bria Hartley, and Ivory Latta. The starters for the Atlanta Dream were Angel McCoughtry, Shoni Schimmel, Aneika Henry, Martha Alwal, and Matee Ajavon. This game was supposed to be a homecoming for Schimmel and McCoughtry, however the Washington Mysitcs had other plans. Washington jumped out to a 24-10 lead in the 1st qtr and pretty much dominated the rest of the game after that. The final score would be 79-55 as the Washington Mystics made their statement to Atlanta that they didn’t care much about the “homecoming”. The leading scorer for the Mystics would be the former UConn player, Bria Hartley, with 14 points. Angel McCoughtry and rookie Martha Alwal both scored 10 points for the Dream.

#8 Bria Hartley - #35 Angel McCoughtry

#8 Bria Hartley – #35 Angel McCoughtry

Schimmel/ McCoughtry: Angel McCoughtry and Shoni Schimmel finished the game Saturday with a combined 16 points, shooting just 4/25 from the field. Angel McCoughtry played just 17 minutes, while Schimmel played 34 minutes to try to get back into a basketball rhythm. Schimmel, although she didn’t shoot the ball well had six beautiful assists that reminded the Louisville crowd of her playing days at U of L. Both Shoni Schimmel and Angel McCoughtry were glad to be back in a city that supported them both for four years. ” This was for Louisville, it wasn’t for us,” said Schimmel about the game. “It was great, I wish I would have gotten to play on this floor for four years,” McCoughtry on playing at the KFC Yum Center. McCoughtry never got to play in the Yum Center like Schimmel because it wasn’t opened until 2011 U of L Women’s Basketball season, which happened to be Schimmel’s freshmen year. McCoughtry’s senior season at U of L was in 2009, in which the Lady Cards were still playing in old Freedom Hall.

The WNBA Comes to the KFC Yum Center in Louisville

#23 Shoni Schimmel

Looking Ahead: The Atlanta Dream will open the 2015 WNBA regular season against the New York Liberty in New York. The Dream are looking to get something done in this year’s WNBA Playoffs “Hopefully this is our time”, said Angel McCoughtry about her team’s championship aspirations. It won’t be easy though as the East is quite talented this season with teams like the Fever, Sun, and especially the Mysitcs. The Fever, led by the Hall of Famer Tamika Catchings, will be right in the mix among top teams in the East. The Sun have added players like the speedy guard Jasmine Thomas and rookie Chelsea Gray to help out All-Star forward Chiney Oguwmike. As for the Mystics the trio of former UConn players in Stefanie Dolson, Bria Hartley, and Kalana Greene will present a lot of problems for other teams. Also Washington All-Star point guard Ivory Latta seems more focused than ever, which could be a problem for the rest of the WNBA. This all equates to a very exciting 2015 WNBA season and a more competitive Eastern conference.

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