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Feenstra, Lange Prepare for WNBA Playoff Debuts

August 21, 2007  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Former Lady Flame Katie Feenstra will get her first taste of the WNBA Playoffs Friday evening, when her Detroit Shock open their series against the New York Liberty. (Photo by Dan Lippitt/NBAE)

Former Lady Flame Katie Feenstra will get her first taste of the WNBA Playoffs Friday evening, when her Detroit Shock open their series against the New York Liberty. (Photo by Dan Lippitt/NBAE)

Katie Feenstra and Olaf Lange both got a taste of NCAA postseason play while at Liberty. Now, they will each make their initial voyage into the WNBA Playoffs, as Feenstra's Detroit Shock and Lange's San Antonio Silver Stars have both qualified for the playoffs, which tip off Thursday night.

Feenstra, who has started the last 12 games at center for the Eastern Conference's top-seeded team, was a part of four NCAA Tournament teams at Liberty, including the 2005 Sweet 16 qualifier. Lange was an assistant coach for the Lady Flames when they advanced to the 2006 NCAA Tournament. He is now an assistant for San Antonio, a team making its first-ever trip to the WNBA Playoffs.

"I am very excited for both Katie and Olaf," remarked Liberty Women's Basketball Head Coach Carey Green. "They will both be getting the opportunity to compete at the highest level of women's basketball."

Feenstra is new to the WNBA Playoffs, but her team is postseason-savvy. The Shock, who won WNBA titles in 2003 and 2006, will open their championship defense in New York, Friday night at 7:30 p.m, against the No. 4-seeded Liberty. Detroit (24-10) and New York (16-18) split their four regular-season tilts, with three of the match-ups being decided by five points or less and two games going to overtime.

The series will head to the Palace at Auburn Hills for game 2 and game 3 (if necessary). Game 2 will be televised by ABC at 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon and Game 3 is slated for ESPN2, Tuesday night at 7 p.m.

Feenstra has played some of the best basketball of her professional career since joining the Detroit starting lineup after Cheryl Ford's knee injury. She is averaging 9.0 ppg and 8.1 rpg as a starter and recorded three triple-doubles in her last six games, including a 16-point, 13-rebound effort at New York on Aug. 12.

For the season, the 6-8 center from Grand Rapids, Mich., is posting 5.2 ppg and 4.9 rpg. She has recorded career-best figures for field-goal percentage (.527) and free-throw percentage (.736). She also led the WNBA with 14.9 rebounds per 40 minutes.

Prior to this season, Lange's Silver Stars had not won more than 13 games in any of their four WNBA campaigns. Two years ago, San Antonio finished 7-27. However, the revitalized Silver Stars went 20-14 this year to claim the Western Conference's second seed.

San Antonio's prize is a first-round match-up with the Sacramento Monarchs (19-15), the two-time defending Western Conference champions and the 2005 WNBA titlists. The squads went 2-2 in their four head-to-head contests this season, with the home team winning each time.

The series will begin at Sacramento's ARCO Arena, Thursday evening at 10 p.m. Eastern. Games 2 and 3 (if necessary) will be played in San Antonio, with Game 2 set for a 1 p.m. tip-off Saturday on ESPN2 and Game 3's start time yet to be determined.

Off-season acquisition Becky Hammon, a guard in her eighth year out of Colorado State, has sparked the Silver Stars all season. The WNBA leader with 5.0 apg, she ranks fourth with 18.8 ppg and is a leading WNBA MVP candidate. The veteran has also helped to steady the team after standout Erin Buescher's season-ending knee injury just prior to the All-Star break.

The winners of the Best-of-3 first-round series will advance to the Best-of-3 conference finals. The Western Conference Finals will begin on Aug. 30 and the Eastern Conference Finals the following evening. The 2007 WNBA Finals (Best-of-5) is scheduled to start on Sept. 5.