Matchup Spotlight: Kara Braxton Vs. Jayne Appel

This might not be the marque matchup of Taurasi versus Hammon or Taylor versus Young, but it is certainly one of the more interesting battles in this series. Especially if you like tough, physical post play - and I do.

Kara Braxton understands that one of the reasons she was brought to Phoenix was to give the team a physicality inside that hadn't been here before.

Coming from a Detroit Shock team that had taken on the "Bad Boys" persona of Bill Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn, Kara's got something that Phoenix wanted and it wasn't just her ability to put the ball in the basket.

Playoff basketball can get downright brutal and Kara is not only used to it, but thrives on it.

"We loved being physical," Braxton said about her five seasons with the Shock. "I still feed off of that. It hasn't gone anywhere, I continue to play like that ... That's what they wanted me to bring when I came in."

San Antonio coach Sandy Bordello has rookie Jayne Appel ready to go and Jayne seemed excited about the opportunity to matchup with Kara.

"It's definitely going to be a battle down low," the rookie said. "My coaches told me to be prepared, watch extra film on her to really know her tendencies because I know that's my main job in this game is coming in my focus is on her trying to match her physicality. I think she's really physical around the basket, in a good way. I think it's good to be physical."

Physicality is word that everyone I talked to about this matchup used.

The San Antonio game plan for Braxton is to bring help on the catch and not let Kara go one-on-one. They want to make it hard for her to catch the ball and then rotate quickly when she does get it. Phoenix changes their style of play with Braxton on the floor and Brondello feels Appel's size and strength, along with aggressive rotations, will be the answer.

Mercury coach Cory Gaines was asked if thought there was an advantage to having the Silver Stars reacting to his moves. Typically in basketball (and most things) when you the aggressor and the other side is responding then the advantage goes to the leader.

 

"(Coach Bordello) will change what she's doing to put Jayne in so I don't know if that's to our advantage or not to our advantage but I'm going to play Brax the same way anyway," Gaines said. "Maybe it's the Jedi mind-trick. She's trying to fool you that way, I don't know. I don't look at things that way. I always just stick to doing what we're going to do. I worry about us."

 

Additional Note

Jayne Appel was highly touted coming out of Stanford with many people thinking she would be drafted second behind Tina Charles. She fell to fifth and after missing most of training camp with injuries has only averaged about 3 points and 2 rebounds in 11 minutes per game this season.

Appel talked about that:

"It's easy for people to say that I can get frustrated coming from a team where I played the majority of the minutes and not really playing as much this year but I think it's going to benefit me a lot in the long run. It kind of reminds me of my freshman year at Stanford, I played behind two senior post players and didn't play that much and I picked up a lot of little things that over time I got to develop."

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