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Lange's Silver Stars, Feenstra's Shock to Square Off on Sunday

June 26, 2007
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Former Liberty assistant coach Olaf Lange has helped the San Antonio Silver Stars record four consecutive wins.

Former Liberty assistant coach Olaf Lange has helped the San Antonio Silver Stars record four consecutive wins.

As the WNBA season nears the All-Star break, two of the league's hottest teams are the San Antonio Silver Stars, featuring former Lady Flames assistant coach Olaf Lange, and the Detroit Shock, whose roster includes Liberty graduate Katie Feenstra. The Silver Stars and Shock will meet for the first time this season, Sunday evening at Detroit's Palace of Auburn Hills.

A year ago, the San Antonio Silver Stars went 13-21 and finished next-to-last in the Western Conference. Head coach Dan Hughes' 2007-08 squad currently resides in second place in the conference standings, just a half game behind the Sacramento Monarchs. The Silver Stars have won four straight contests to boost their season ledger to 8-4. Interestingly, all four victories have come without Hughes on the sideline, as he is on the mend from Achilles tendon surgery. Assistant Brian Agler is serving as the acting head coach in Hughes' stead.

Offseason acquisition Becky Hammon, a 5-6 veteran guard, has been fueling the Silver Stars' resurgence. She is the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week after garnering the honor for the second time this season. Hammon ranks fifth in the WNBA in points per game (18.7) and leads the league with 5.4 assists per outing.

Lange, the Silver Stars' coordinator of video services and player development, is enjoying his first season in San Antonio, where he has been reunited with his wife, fellow assistant coach Sandy Brondello.

"We have a veteran group of core players who already possess tremendous chemistry on and off the court," explained Lange of his team's early-season success. "We run a lot, we use a lot of pick-and-rolls and we give the players a lot of freedom to read the defense and react. We also have very mobile and extremely quick post players, and that makes us very hard to guard."

Lange has also found himself as a part of another team, which includes numerous Christians who seek to glorify God.

"The team actually conducts a Bible study every Thursday, which helps us on the court as well," noted Lange. "However, the eternal impact is certainly more meaningful."

While the Silver Stars are dealing with an injury to their head coach, one of the Shock's key players, 6-3 forward Cheryl Ford, has missed the last five games with a left knee sprain. The team, which started 7-0 before her injury, is just 3-2 since she's been out of the lineup. However, Bill Laimbeer's squad maintains the best record in the WNBA, a half game better than the Indiana Fever.

In Ford's absence, Feenstra has been counted on to play a larger role on the team. In fact, she posted a double-double in Ford's first game out of the lineup, with 14 points and 11 rebounds against Indiana on June 16. For the season, Feenstra is averaging 3.8 points and 3.3 rebounds per contest, entering Wednesday's home tilt with the Connecticut Sun.

Katie Smith has also elevated her game recently and was tabbed the Eastern Conference Player of the Week on Sunday. One of five Shock players averaging double figures in scoring, Smith posted 18.5 points per outing on the team's 3-1 West Coast swing.

The Silver Stars and Shock are scheduled to meet twice this season. Sunday's game will be significant for Feenstra, since she played the last two years for San Antonio, and this will be her first meeting with her former team. The teams' second matchup this season, a July 31 game in San Antonio, is slated to be televised nationally, by ESPN2.