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An original WNBA team. The Monarchs play in Arco Arena in Sacramento, and their sibling NBA team is the Sacramento Kings.

The Monarchs boast a strong nucleus — forward Yolanda Griffith, guard Ruthie Bolton and guard Ticha Penicheiro have all been on the team since the 1999 season — but they've never been able to put it together for a championship run. The farthest the Monarchs have gotten in the playoffs was a 2001 trip to the conference finals, where they lost to the eventual WNBA champion Los Angeles Sparks.

They ought to do better. Penicheiro is certainly the best point guard in the WNBA, as she's led the league in assists in each of the four years she's played. Griffin was the WNBA's Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and MVP in 1999. Bolton is a talented off-guard, but she's 35 years old and was hampered by bad knees in the 2001 season.

A key moment in the 2001 season came when coach Sonny Allen unexpectedly quit. Maura McHugh, the former coach of the Long Beach StingRays of the defunct American Basketball League, took over on the fly and guided the team to a 14-6 record under her leadership. But the Sparks defeated the Monarchs in the Western Conference Finals, two games to one.

Sources: http://www.sacbee.com/content/sports/basketball/monarchs/

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