Fred Williams' home debut as coach of the Utah Starzz tonight at 7 in the Delta Center is going to be better than his road debut Thursday afternoon.
That was the lowest this worst-in-the-WNBA franchise has ever sunk in a record-breaking rout by Sacramento at ARCO Arena, 107-69.But tonight, hey, at least nobody can miss the bus. It's a home game. There is no bus, except for the visiting Minnesota Lynx, 3-2 after an 86-73 win at Los Angeles Thursday.
That automatically should make it better for the new coach than Thursday, when five Starzz players missed the bus to the game and had to be brought in by taxi. Williams first ordered the bus driver to leave without the players, then played those who were on the bus to start the game, with an on-time Tricia Bader first off the bench.
Utah (2-3, 0-1 since Frank Layden resigned as coach Monday) is 2-0 on Saturdays, but the Starzz will really have to lay it on the line to keep that streak alive.
Until Thursday, expansion Minnesota had the biggest win against Utah so far this season, 24 points at the Target Center on June 14.
The Lynx played more like lumberjacks that night, laying their considerable heft into the Starzz at every opportunity, especially in transition, when they often sent the willowy 7-foot-2 Margo Dydek or 6-5 Elena Baranova or other Starzz players sprawling with no calls from the officials. When the Starzz tried to retaliate, often in the halfcourt game, they got the fouls.
That will be their biggest challenge tonight -- to be at least as aggressive as the Lynx, who are really the former two-time American Basketball League-champion Columbus Quest disguised in WNBA garb.
The Starzz are still trying to find somewhere to start building. They don't handle physicality well. Finesse teams slice and dice through their defense, long-range shooters do well against them, transition teams do well against them, poor-shooting teams get long rebounds against them, teams with inside games get short rebounds against them.
"We have a lot we have to work out," said Natalie Williams, Utah's best and most consistent player, who suffers double and triple teams. "We need to make some adjustments."
About all they did right Thursday was get the number of shots that Coach Williams wants to see, in the 70-80 range, as he envisions a running, transition team. But they only made 32 percent of them.
After tonight, Utah gets back on the road to Los Angeles Monday and then hosts those streaking Comets on Wednesday night, when the Starzz game will be coupled on the same ticket as the Jazz/NBA Draft.