The IX: Basketball Wednesday with Howard Megdal, December 25, 2019

Women's Basketball Year In Review — The year's best reads

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Final 2019 thoughts

Some stream of consciousness in rough chronological order… watching and talking with Arike Ogumbowale after she missed a free throw late in the Notre Dame loss to Baylor in the national championship, I learned who she was, and was going to be, in a different way than I did covering her two game-winning shots in 2018. Character matters in the forging of star players…

…This was a glorious year for women’s basketball in many ways, but I sure missed seeing any of Breanna Stewart, Maya Moore or Sue Bird on the court, along with almost no Diana Taurasi. A 2020 with most, if not all of them, is going to come as a welcome change…

…I still remember the determination on Megan Gustafson’s face when she spoke to us at the 2019 WNBA Draft. She was selected 15th, the last one in the “green room”, and then the Wings cut her a few weeks later. Neither of these things stopped her, and statistically, she was as effective as any rookie on a per-minute basis in 2019, with a bright future ahead of her…

…Tina Charles’ ability to speak bluntly about the limitations of Westchester County Center and the need for the New York Liberty to move to Barclays Center were a vital factor in what came to pass. Between this and her film debut, Tina Charles had a particularly impressive 2019, even as the Liberty struggled. I am eager to see her with an elite point guard in Sabrina Ionescu, and don’t underestimate how much a legitimate, major league-quality home will help…

…Skylar Diggins-Smith is another player you’ll want to keep an eye on, whether she ends up returning to Dallas, or heads to a WNBA team that covets her. (Oh, and there’s more than one, let me assure you.) It is easy to forget how instrumental she was on so many Notre Dame teams. Diggins-Smith is a winning player, and I hope she gets to show it soon…

…A year in which Elena Delle Donne surmounted the last remaining hill to climb in her Hall of Fame-level career, and did so on the young side of 30. Personally, I’ll both marvel at the career she’s putting together and wonder still what her numbers would look like if she’d had even a bit more luck on the injury/illness front. Even so, this felt like a tablesetter to…

…the 2020s with Elena Delle Donne and Breanna Stewart both healthy. The level of respect is enormous on both sides, but it’s been obvious that these two transcendent talents are on a collision course. Legacies will be written based on how they do when facing each other over the next few years. The five years ahead will define the GOAT conversation for 50…

…Geno Auriemma without the best or deepest roster has been a joy to watch. You should enjoy that now, because Paige Bueckers is coming…

…a labor agreement is a big deal, and there’s plenty of optimism it gets done, but the bigger question is how much it catapults the sport forward…

…once everyone experiences the Final Four in New Orleans, I have a feeling it’s going to be a lot like once everyone experienced the WNBA All Star Game in Las Vegas…

…2019 is the last year in recorded history when casuals don’t know everything about Kelly Graves.

Reads of the Year

This stressed me out to compile. I know I missed some. Even so:

Mirin Fader on Azzi Fudd.

Kurtis Zimmerman on Valorie Whiteside.

Karen Given on the Collens.

Lindsay Gibbs on Muffet McGraw.

Danielle Lerner on Asia Durr from draft night.

Alison Glock on Asia Durr more generally.

Natalie Weiner on WNBA practice squads.

Britni de la Cretaz on WNBA fashion.

Jackie Powell on the Liberty breaking a long losing streak.

Sabreena Merchant on Marina Mabrey.

Russ Steinberg on Karlie Samuelson’s Nick Jr. appearance.

Madeline Kenney on Courtney Vandersloot.

Matt Ellentuck on the greatness of the Mystics’ offense.

And Mike Prada on the limitations of Las Vegas’ offense.

Ben Hochman on Sophie Cunningham.

Alexa Philippou on Crystal Dangerfield.

Lyndsey D’Arcangelo on Cierra Dillard, draft night.

PJ Brown on Adia Barnes.

Molly Yanity on Curt Miller, trailblazer.

Ramona Shelburne on Penny Toler.

Laken Litman on Tiana Mangakahia.

Ava Wallace on Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart freezing their eggs.

And the stories I wrote that stayed in my head after I wrote them:

Bella Alarie.

Arike Ogunbowale on draft day.

Breanna Stewart’s injury and why it mattered so much.

Liz Cambage.

Courtney Williams.

Natasha Cloud.

Teaira McCowan.

Thank you for taking this journey with me, with all of us. I cannot wait to share all the stories with you we are anticipating, and the ones we never expected, in 2020.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Stephanie Livaudais, @Livaudais
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal High Post Hoops
Thursdays: Golf
By Carly Grenfell, @Carlygren
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by Howard Megdal

Howard is the founder of The Next and editor-in-chief.