September 1, 2022
Daily Briefing — Sept. 1, 2022: MVP race reaches fever pitch as Wilson, Stewart each score 30-plus
Sky, Aces bounce back in Game 2 and Brionna Jones named Sixth Player of the Year
It’s Thursday. Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the W Roundup and Yesterday’s Recap. Day 8 of the WNBA postseason came and went, giving us a complete reversal of Sunday’s results. Both the Las Vegas Aces and Chicago Sky held it down on home court, giving themselves momentum heading into their first road games of the semifinals. In Chicago, the Sky leaned into the plays and match-ups that had brought them success against the Connecticut Sun in the past. Then, in Las Vegas, the Aces took advantage of a relatively quiet scoring night from every Seattle Storm player not named Breanna Stewart and tied the series. With Stewart and Las Vegas’ A’ja Wilson knocking down 32 and 33 points, respectively, the lead-up to the announcement of WNBA MVP could not be more intense.
Sixth Player of the Year: Brionna Jones
This afternoon, the WNBA announced that Sun center Brionna Jones was named Sixth Player of the Year, becoming the third Connecticut player to receive the honor. Jones received 53 votes, with the Sky’s Azurá Stevens (two votes) and the Washington Mystics’ Myisha Hines-Allen (one vote) rounding out the voting. The league cited Jones’ consistent offensive production in the Sun’s second unit, as well as her offensive rebounding per game, which ranked second in the league. The Next’s Em Adler takes you through how our staff voted; personally, I found voting for this award was a Breeze.
Remaining end-of-season awards schedule:
Sept. 7 Most Valuable Player
Sept. 15 All-WNBA First and Second Teams
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But first, read:
- Our Em Adler joined Swish Appeal’s “The Whiparound” to break down Game 1 of Aces–Storm and Seattle’s keys to the rest of the series.
- CTInsider’s Mike Anthony tracks Lindsay Whalen’s six seasons with the Sun and the lasting impact she’s had on then-Sun head coach Mike Thibault and his family.
- Uproxx’s Brendon Kleen sits down with A’ja Wilson to talk Ruffles, the WNBA playoffs and the road ahead for the Aces.
- Our Howard Megdal spoke with Rutgers head coach Coquese Washington on Locked on Women’s Basketball about her WNBA career and her hopes for the upcoming NCAA season.
Indiana Fever: Announced on Wednesday afternoon that they would not retain interim head coach Carlos Knox for 2023 season and have begun the search for a new head coach. “We thank Carlos for stepping into this role last season and for helping our young, talented team continue to improve,” said Fever general manager Lin Dunn. “We took important steps forward this year, but the expectation for this team and this franchise is sustained success on the court.”
Wednesday, Aug. 31 recap
Chicago beat Connecticut, 85–77, to tie the series 1–1. The Sky opened the game with a 13–5 run and expanded it to a 10-point advantage by the end of the first quarter. The Sun would never lead from that point forward, as Chicago mounted a lead as large as 20. In the final minutes, the Connecticut bench cut the lead to single digits, but it wasn’t enough. Overall, both teams struggled from the free throw line, shooting under 70% on at least 15 attempts. Connecticut out-rebounded Chicago by 10, while the Sky logged five more blocks.
For the Sky, big Candace Parker led with 22 points on 8-for-13 shooting from the field (3–4 3pt., 3–7 FT), four rebounds, four assists and three blocks. Big Emma Meesseman notched 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting, seven rebounds (two offensive), three assists and two steals. Point guard Courtney Vandersloot had 10 points on 4-for-9 shooting from the field, eight assists and three rebounds. Big Azurá Stevens contributed six points on 3-for-6 shooting, four rebounds and two blocks off the bench for Chicago.
Big Jonquel Jones led Connecticut and all scorers with 23 points on 10-for-17 shooting (2–4 3pt.), seven rebounds (two offensive) and three assists. Big wing Alyssa Thomas notched seven points on 3-for-8 shooting (1–4 FT), 10 rebounds (three offensive), four assists and four steals. Off-ball guard DiJonai Carrington and point guard Odyssey Sims combined for 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting from the field, five rebounds and two assists for the Sun second unit.
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Las Vegas beat Seattle, 78–73, to tie the series 1–1. The teams traded baskets until the final minute of the first quarter, when the Storm went on a 7–0 run. Seattle held onto the lead until the final seconds of the half, when a pair of free throws from Las Vegas point guard Kelsey Plum tied the game at 36. Coming out of halftime, the two teams traded baskets until a 10–2 Aces run rounded out the third quarter. Las Vegas used that momentum to power through the final quarter, though Seattle came within striking distance in the final seconds. Overall, Seattle shot a perfect 11-for-11 from the free throw line, while Las Vegas shot 18-for-23. The Aces grabbed seven offensive rebounds to the Storm’s two and made the most of them, scoring seven more second-chance points.
Center A’ja Wilson led the Aces and all scorers with a double-double of 33 points on 12-for-18 shooting (1–2 3pt., 8–11 FT) and 13 rebounds (three offensive), along with three blocks. Point guard Chelsea Gray notched 19 points on 8-for-13 shooting from the field (3–5 3pt.), seven rebounds and seven assists. Plum had 18 points on 6-for-15 shooting (1–3 3pt., 5–6 FT), three rebounds and one steal.
For Seattle, big Breanna Stewart led with 32 points on 12-for-23 shooting (3–7 3pt., 5–5 FT), seven rebounds, three assists and three blocks. She fouled out in the final seconds of play. Center Tina Charles notched 17 points on 8-for-17 shooting (1–4 3pt.) and nine rebounds (two offensive). Point guard Sue Bird had six points on 2-for-6 shooting from the field, four rebounds and six assists.
TDB Aces/Storm starter minutes watch: Four of five Aces starters played more than 35 minutes (Wilson, 38; Gray, 38; Young, 38; Plum, 36). All five Storm starters played more than 30 minutes (Stewart, 39; Loyd, 38; Talbot, 33; Bird, 33; Charles, 31).
Written by Isabel Rodrigues
Isabel Rodrigues (she/her) is a contributing writer for The Next from upstate New York who regularly covers 3x3 and the state of women's basketball in the U.S. and internationally.