Playing catch-up, I wasn't sure if I should post them back to front, front to back or a Lost-like all over the place. Traditionalist that I am, I decided to start at the beginning of the series.
This Week in the WNBA: Week Zero
I'll be bringing you a weekly roundup of everything that's been going on in the league. From games of the week to trade rumors, players on the rise to players about to get cut, this column will attempt to provide a somewhat entertaining summary of WNBA events from the past seven days, and a glance at what might be coming up in the next seven. Mondays will never be the same again (I may be prone to the occasional use of slight hyperbole. Get used to it).
This week, seeing as the season's only been going two days and you're probably still reading my Off-Season Summary and Last-Second In-Depth Season Preview, I'm going to offer my predictions for the season to come. Regular season rankings, playoff outcomes and postseason awards are all projected below, for what that might be worth. All picks were made prior to this weekend's games, just to be fair to all those other people around the internet who threw out preseason guesses (summaries, as will become clear, were written afterwards, but the picks didn't change). Warning: Gambling based on my predictions may be dangerous to your bank account.The Claw is Out
Most weeks, the section of this column dedicated to transactions will be pretty small and tucked away towards the end. A lot of weeks, it'll probably say 'none' and leave it at that. Meaningful trades and pickups don't happen very often with only 12 teams and a limited collection of impact players. This week, however, saw a player waived on Wednesday, signed on Friday, and starting for her new team on Saturday, putting up a 19pt/3reb/5ast performance in 30 minutes that showed just what she's capable of. So goes a pretty typical week in the weird and wild career of one Chamique Holdsclaw.
This Week in the WNBA: Week Two
In Over his Head or just Over-Zellous?
When it was announced that Nolan Richardson had been appointed head coach/GM/all-purpose Commander-in-Chief of the Tulsa Shock, eyebrows were raised in the women's basketball community. He might be a coaching legend in Oklahoma, but he'd never coached women, never coached pros and had his own '40 Minutes of Hell' system that wasn't going to change regardless of his personnel. Also, since leaving the University of Arkansas in 2002 amid a storm of racial controversy, the only coaching he'd done was with national teams in places like Mexico and Panama - not exactly well-known basketball hotbeds. Every new franchise tries to make a splash, but handing over complete control of basketball operations to a man who'd had no previous interest or connection to the WNBA seemed at best to be an optimistic roll of the dice. At worst, the Shock's new owners were putting their team in the hands of a 68-year old whose time had passed, and setting themselves up for a recovery that would only begin when Richardson and the franchise eventually parted ways. This week's trade of Shavonte Zellous to Indiana reignited the Richardson debate.
This Week in the WNBA: Week Three
Big Markets, Big Problems
On June 21st 1997, the first WNBA game was contested by the New York Liberty and the Los Angeles Sparks. They had some of the shining lights of the women's game on their rosters and represented the two biggest cities - and biggest media markets - in America. Thirteen years on, both franchises are still around and new stars like Parker and Pondexter have emerged to replace the likes of Leslie, Lobo and Weatherspoon. But in the opening weeks of the 2010 season, the signs haven't been good for either inaugural franchise and with ten losses between them in only thirteen total games they need to sharpen up fast. Otherwise their fans are going to be left harking back to those earlier years, and praying for luck in the lottery.
Taking the League by Storm
A month into the 2010 WNBA season, most teams have played at least ten games and there are still a lot of things up in the air. Will the LA Sparks ever work out how to play defense? Are the Minnesota Lynx really quite this bad? Will I ever admit that Marynell Meadors might even faintly resemble a decent coach? But one thing that isn't really up for debate is which franchise currently stands as the league's best team. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, the Seattle Storm.
Parker Parked, Sparks Spinning
Remember last week when I mentioned Candace Parker's recurring shoulder injury but said "don't be surprised to see her back out for their next game on Friday?" Well that idea was scuppered late on Thursday night when Los Angeles Sparks GM Penny Toler put out a brief press release entitled 'Sparks Forward Candace Parker to Miss Remainder of 2010 Season.' As it turns out, Parker's shoulder dislocation last week has finally led to the decision to have surgery that she's probably needed for several years now. Exactly how long she'll be out is currently unknown, but she's also likely out of the 2010 World Championships in the Czech Republic in late September. Team USA will miss her, as will the WNBA as a whole, but both of those organisations have players who can step up to fill the hole. The Sparks, on the other hand, are going to have to find a way to compete without their superstar, and it's not going to be easy.