PRE-GAME CHALK TALK WITH FOX SPORTS NET ANALYST DEBBIE ANTONELLI
GAME 4: PORTLAND AT SAN JOSE DECEMBER 20, 1998
Hey, thanks for checking in this week…we head west for a showdown between the top two teams in the west and two of the hotter teams in the ABL right now! These teams have played three times already with San Jose owning 2-1 edge. You want to talk about a shoot-out…well that is exactly what I am expecting to see…a combined 9 out of 10 starters average in double figures!! The top offensive teams in the ABL, two great coaches, two winning franchises and some of the best individual offensive talent in the ABL. By the way, if you like to listen to the "Fox Hot Mic" you will love listening to Coach Lin Dunn from Portland and Coach Angela Beck from San Jose. Pay attention! You will hear all the basketball terminology you can handle…and you might just learn something. I know I will learn something!
ON SAN JOSE: Exciting, running, up-tempo basketball! The Lasers are "flashy" in the open court and they can finish. They are the only franchise with four 1000+ point scorers and all five starters average double figures…a little offensive balance I would say! Jennifer Azzi is coming off Player of the Week honors in the ABL and has this team full throttle. San Jose leads the league in offense: points per game (83.5) and FG % (47.7). They are last in the league in defensive points per game (meaning they give up) 81.8 and opponents 3 pt FG % (38.9). I would not label them "all offense" but they do have the mentality "we can out score you". Doesn't look to me like San Jose is having trouble "sharing the basketball". They have balance and a lot of weapons. Great job by Angela Beck to find a way to keep everyone involved in the offense with the Triangle game/Triple Post Offense and the other creative offensive structure she runs.
ON PORTLAND: Natalie Williams and POWER…that always sounds so good together! When describing Natalie, the word I often use is POWER. What a low-post game! No one could stop her last year on her way to MVP honors and the challenge is still there. No one in the game today uses the backboard or the "bank" like Natalie. She is the best on the boards at both ends of the floor. Why? Strength, experience, and understanding how to use the glass all factor into why she is the best. I like Sonja Henning at the point also…a very good defensive-minded point guard. I like the versatility of Katie Steding who can play off-guard to power forward. Make sure you check out DeLisha Milton's wing span. It is a wing span of a 7'0 tall person and she is only 6'1!
KEYS TO THE GAME
FOR PORTLAND: 1. Get to the Free Throw Line. Lin Dunn always stresses to her team how important the stripe is. In the three previous games, SJ has outscored Portland by 18 points and Portland missed some key 1-and-1 opportunities.
2. Details. A little polish here and a few tweaks there. Still working out the kinks on offense with 6 newcomers. Find a way to win. When you look at the numbers, Portland has outscored SJ 234 to 233 and out rebounded SJ by +9. How to get a victory? In a tight game with a play-off environment, you must be detailed in your execution at both ends, have great guard play, get to the line (and make them), and find a way to win.
FOR SAN JOSE:
1. Rebound. Portland is killing SJ on the offensive boards with a 56-28 advantage. Of course it's Natalie Williams with 10 but wow…DeLisha Milton has 15. Box them out!
2. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." I mean they can flat out score. Keep running, keep the balance, keep taking it to the hole. SJ has been to the line more than team in the ABL. That stat tells me they are aggressive with the ball.
I do not pick a winner. I give you the things I am looking for or thinking about in the matchup as the analyst for Fox Sports Net. If you like to see a lot of offense, this game will be fun to watch. Dial in on how San Jose guards Natalie Williams. Should be a fun chess match between these two coaches. Watch out!
NEXT PREVIEW: Soon. Next game is Christmas Day. New England at Nashville. See you on the road!.
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