Posted on August 17, 2012 at 5:57 PM
Saturday, Aug 18 at 9:39 AM
The hottest team in the NBA for more than a month before the league took a break for the Olympics, the Silver Stars have made it clear the second half of the season can't start soon enough.
The last time the Silver Stars played a game, they rolled past Atlanta 91-70 for their franchise-record ninth consecutive victory.
That was July 13, or better put, 35 days ago. The entire squad practiced together Wednesday for the first time since the long hiatus, looking relatively sharp for the most part.
San Antonio (13-5) plays at Tulsa (3-15) at 7 p.m. Friday.
"They're about ready to play somebody else," Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes said after Wednesday's workout. "We've been playing each other for so long."
The Silver Stars are 1½ games out of first place in the Western Conference, trailing Minnesota (15-4) and Los Angeles (15-6). They play at Phoenix on Sunday and host Washington next Tuesday at the AT&T Center.
The Silver Stars were the buzz of the WNBA before the Olympic break, winning 11 of their last 12 games after starting out 2-4.
"I thought we were playing good basketball when we left," Hughes said. "That's what's important. Tulsa is going to be sitting on go. We're expecting a tough game. It's just good to be talking about the game."
'Whirlwind of a month' for Hammon
Hughes said the Silver Stars' depth was a key factor in their success in the first half of the season.
"We were putting a lot of pressure on people throughout minutes of the game," he said. "We were able, offensively, to score and defend you right through our rotation, with almost the same type of success ratio.
"The other thing we were doing was that I thought we had improved our ability to rebound the basketball to the point that we were able to play out of our defense, not only with turnovers but rebounding-wise. We were starting to get points in the paint. Those were the factors I was pleased with as we were building this team."
Veteran guard Becky Hammon, who played for Russia in the Olympics, didn't return from London until Monday night. But she showed no signs of jet lag at Wednesday's practice, draining jumpers with her smooth stroke and running the offense with her typical efficiency.
"It's been a whirlwind of a month for me," Hammon said. "But I missed my girls and I was very happy to sleep in my own bed the other night.”I'm just looking forward to getting back on the court and getting our groove. We were on such a hot streak there at the end, so we want to pick up where we left off."
The Silver Stars took some time off during the Olympics, but still got in the gym and worked out under Hughes' watchful eye.
"They had to kind of go through a whole new preseason," Hammon said. "Any vet hates preseason. It's horrible. I know they're ready to get out and get running against somebody else. I know they were working hard. I was getting updates quite frequently. I'm just excited to be back with them.
"We've got work to do and that's what I told them when I went away: 'Everybody work hard when we're away. Come back ready to go because we've got some big things to do.'"