Former Duke great Alana Beard Named AP WNBA Defensive Player of the Year
GREENSBORO (theACC.com) – The 2017 WNBA Playoffs presented by Verizon tip off tonight, and 17 alumni from eight ACC institutions will be in action. The ACC has at least one alum on each of the eight playoff teams, including three apiece playing for Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington. The first round features No. 5 seed Phoenix hosting No. 8 seed Seattle, and No. 6 seed Washington hosting No. 7 seed Dallas. In the second round, No. 3 seed New York hosts the lowest-seeded first-round winner and No. 4 seed Connecticut hosts the other first-round winner.
The first and second rounds are single elimination. Teams are reseeded after the single-elimination rounds 1 and 2. Minnesota and Los Angeles are seeded No. 1 and 2, respectively and receive byes to the semifinal round. The semifinals feature a best-of-five format, with the No. 1 overall seed (Minnesota) playing the lowest remaining seed and the No. 2 overall seed (Los Angeles) meeting the remaining team. The Nos. 1 and 2 seeds will host Games 1, 2 and 5, and the lower-seeded teams will host Games 3 and 4 in their respective series. The WNBA Finals remain best-of-five and follow the same 2-2-1 format. For more information on the 2017 WNBA Playoffs click here.
In other WNBA news, ACC women’s basketball alums were recognized with AP WNBA honors this week. Duke alum and guard-forward Alana Beard of the Los Angeles Sparks was named the AP WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, while Syracuse alum Brittney Sykes of the Atlanta Dream was named to the AP WNBA All-Rookie Team and finished as the runner-up in AP WNBA Rookie of the Year voting. Beard led the WNBA with a 2.1 steals per game average and helped pace the Sparks to the second-fewest points allowed in the league at a 75.2 per game clip in 2017. At Duke, Beard was a four-time All-ACC Defensive Team selection and collected a Duke-record 404 career steals, which also ranks third on the ACC’s all-time list.
Sykes led all rookies in scoring (13.9 points per game) and rebounding (4.1 rebounds per outing). She also ranked third among first-year players in assists (1.9 assists per contest) and blocks (0.5 blocks per game). Sykes earned back-to-back Rookie of the Month awards in July and August. Notre Dame alum Skylar Diggins-Smith of Dallas earned first team AP All-WNBA First Team honors.
Below is a list of ACC alums on WNBA Playoff teams:
Karima Christmas-Kelly, F, Duke
Skylar Diggins-Smith, G, Notre Dame
Jasmine Thomas, G, Duke
Alana Beard, G-F, Duke
Chelsea Gray, G, Duke
Riquna Williams, G, Miami
Natasha Howard, F, Florida State
Lindsay Allen, G, Notre Dame
Shavonte Zellous, G, Pitt
Monique Currie, G-F, Duke
Camille Little, F, North Carolina
Jewell Loyd, G, Notre Dame
Alexis Peterson, G, Syracuse
Carolyn Swords, C, Boston College
Ivory Latta, G, North Carolina
Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, G, North Carolina
Krystal Thomas, C, Duke