Monique Currie, Jewell Loyd put in memorable performances on WNBA's opening weekend
Lynx win opener
The opening weekend of the 2017 WNBA season didn't reveal anything too surprising. Last year's finalists, champion Los Angeles and runner-up Minnesota, started with victories. Elena Delle Donne had a terrific first game with her new team, Washington. Two players from NCAA champion South Carolina, Kaela Davis and Allisha Gray, both had strong debuts for Dallas.
But the weekend also put a little spotlight on San Antonio's Monique Currie, who has been at this a long time and reminds us how much resilience she has.
The Stars began the 2017 season kind of where they left off in 2016 -- which is to say, not doing so well. San Antonio went 7-27 last year. They got the No. 1 pick, guard Kelsey Plum, but she didn't play in their opening games Saturday and Sunday due to ankle issues. The Stars' top selection from last year, No. 2 pick Moriah Jefferson, also has been out with a knee injury.
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The Sparks raised their WNBA championship banner Saturday to go with the two the franchise won in 2001 and '02, then beat Seattle and talked about what it will take to add trophy No. 4. Story
Currie and Stars center Erika de Souza are longtime veterans, both in their 12th seasons. San Antonio also has a new coach in Vickie Johnson. If you're watching the Stars from the outside, it's hard not to think this is still a team trying to build for a better future.
But Currie, who turned 34 in February, is about the present and just getting the job done now. Saturday in the Stars' opener, a 73-64 loss at New York, Currie had 23 points. Then, after travel delays resulted in the Stars' later-than-expected arrival Sunday to Washington, Currie had 31 points in an 89-74 loss to the Mystics. For the two games, Currie came off the bench and shot 17-of-26 from the field.
As mentioned, Currie has been at this for a while. She's one of five players in the 2006 draft's first round who have had lengthy WNBA careers. Four of them are still playing. Currie is the only one of those four who doesn't have a WNBA title. The others are No. 1 pick Seimone Augustus, No. 2 Cappie Pondexter and No. 6 Candice Dupree.
Currie, the No. 3 pick out of Duke, started her career in Charlotte. When that franchise disbanded after the 2006 season, she was the first pick in the 2007 dispersal draft by Chicago. But after just two games with the Sky, she was traded to Washington and spent eight years playing in her hometown.
She signed as a free agent with Phoenix in 2015 but was traded to San Antonio in 2016. The Stars have been in a rebuilding phase that has stretched out much longer than they wanted. They've been to the playoffs once in the past four seasons, and their last winning record was in 2012.
Whether San Antonio can improve a lot this year once the Stars get healthy remains to be seen. But it's important to recognize the players such as Currie who have just kept plugging away and doing their jobs. She's had a lot of mileage over the past decade-plus, playing overseas for teams in Israel, Russia, Poland, Italy, Turkey, Spain, Romania and -- for the past four years -- Korea.
She also runs the website Women's Basketball 24.7, which chronicles play all over the world.
Her play this weekend showed that she remains a valuable asset, and someone from whom the younger Stars can learn a lot about being a pro.
Another back-to-back standout
Seattle also played two games on opening weekend. The Storm started with a 78-68 loss at Los Angeles on Saturday, when both Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird sat out while recovering from knee issues. On Sunday, back home in Seattle, the Storm won 87-82 against Indiana, with Stewart getting 15 points and seven rebounds.
Bird hasn't returned yet, which no doubt has a lot to do with the Storm's 43 turnovers in the two games.
But Jewell Loyd has been outstanding scoring-wise. Starting her third WNBA season with authority, Loyd had 25 points against the Sparks and 27 against the Fever.
Loyd said back-to-back games don't bother her; she is still just 23 years old, after all, and filled with enthusiasm.
"Basketball is just something I love to do," she said. "However the schedule is, you have to be ready to play."
Cold from outside
Minnesota opened with a 70-61 victory over Chicago, and center Sylvia Fowles dominated inside with 26 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots. But beyond the arc, things didn't go very well for the Lynx, as they were 3-of-20.
Maya Moore particularly struggled from long range, going 1-of-11. Moore still ended up with 11 points, seven rebounds and six assists, so her shooting woes didn't affect the rest of her game.
We'll see how the Lynx work out some of their bugs this week, when they travel to New York on Thursday (ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET). Despite the Liberty winning their opener against the Stars, coach Bill Laimbeer was very frustrated by how they played.