Evaluating the Indiana-Dallas swap — Tony Bozzella sounds off — Must-click women’s basketball links

The IX: Basketball Wednesday with Howard Megdal, March 9, 2021

This is not an email about Brittney Griner, much as she is on my mind, and the mind of so many around the sport. There is precious little we know, and much to worry about. While we wait, I want to talk about something far more interesting: the big trade between the Dallas Wings and the Indiana Fever.

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For discussion sake: Dallas received Teaira McCowan, the seventh overall pick in the 2022 draft and Chicago’s first round pick in the 2023 draft. Indiana got 4 and 6 in 2022, along with Dallas’ first round pick in 2023.

There’s a wide array of opinions on this deal, with some league folks I’ve spoken to seeing it as an absolute steal for Dallas, others who strongly favor Indiana’s side, and plenty who described it as a win-win. My immediate reaction was to focus on the Indiana part — more draft picks in this year’s first round, and the potential, if Dallas misses the playoffs in a hyper-competitive league, to have an additional lottery entry in the Aliyah Boston Sweepstakes. (This assumes Indiana, whatever gains it makes in 2022, is in the lottery as well.)

Boston, for reasons you’ll see in my link below, is the kind of player you do everything in your power to get. But Dallas, let’s remember, wasn’t in the WNBA Draft Lottery last year, and just added McCowan, who isn’t just a token center.

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I’ve noted the gap between her production and her esteem in the eyes of her own team before, but it bears repeating here: McCowan is 14th in the WNBA in win shares since entering the league in 2019. And yet she started just 49 of 88 games, surrounded by players who were fixtures in their teams’ starting lineups.

Nor was this a single coach’s decision. Pokey Chatman largely brought her off the bench, and Marianne Stanley did as well. Lin Dunn decided to trade her. That’s several WNBA talent evaluators who see McCowan as less than the numbers would indicate she is. There’s nothing nefarious about this, but it’s pretty clear.

The knock on McCowan from folks around the league was an inconsistent motor. And it is easy to understand why Dallas would want to bet on that changing with a new team: the McCowan I covered at Mississippi State, especially in the NCAA Tournament, was relentless, a force, someone Vic Schaefer rode to the final possession.

Unleashing that on the WNBA would be no small competitive leap forward for a Dallas team that already rebounds the ball exceptionally well, and mirrors the recent go-big plans of the Aces and Sun, though it does complicate Dallas’ efforts to play faster, a year after finishing ninth in pace. But it’s a good old-fashioned challenge trade. Different teams building in different ways with differing timelines for that championship goal.

I sure wish the season started tomorrow, don’t you?

I asked McCowan whether she thought there was a gap between the way the league sees her and what her game is.

“I mean, honestly, if you’re not tuned in to me, then get tuned into me because I mean, I’m coming,” she said with a big smile. “That’s just how it is. I want to say that. We can leave it at that.”

This week in women’s basketball

Really heartwarming story about Jacy Sheldon’s sister.
Cheryl Reeve checks in from the Big Ten Tournament.
Mike Vorkunov on Kristi Toliver’s tenure in the NBA.
A banner year for Iowa State already.
My latest at FiveThirtyEight, on Caitlin Clark and Aliyah Boston.
Interesting look at Diamond DeShields’ offseason from Lyndsey D’Arcangelo.
Will Leitch is right.
It’s been a great year for mid-major stars.
Jackie Powell is customarily great on UConn’s arc.

Five at The IX: Tony Bozzella, Seton Hall head coach

Tony is one of the great competitors in college basketball. And he was upset about the way he felt Seton Hall’s postseason case was being presented. So I decided to give him the floor here, ahead of Selection Sunday.

Congratulations to Villanova. They made more plays at the end of the game than we did. I’m really proud of Seton Hall. I thought we fought all year, all game. We obviously didn’t shoot the ball particularly well. And give some credit to Villanova’s defense on that.

But we’re all frustrated because we felt we had a golden opportunity in front of us. But we have a really talented team, that takes a lot of pride starting with the point guard on my left, and we’re going to come back and be really good. We finished the season 11 of our last 13. The lack of respect we receive from the national media and honestly from everyone around is really disgusting and disappointing.

I don’t understand how we can win 11 of 13 and no one talked about us being one of the best teams. We lost to Creighton in double overtime and we lost to Villanova in a close game. We beat Villanova before we got here. We beat Creighton yesterday. We’ve beaten Princeton, which is a Top 25 team in the country. We’ve beaten Toledo, which only has four losses, is a top 60 team in the country. We won at DePaul.

And all everyone did is talk about everybody else. It’s disgusting and disrespectful. And those people that look at the net and don’t (expletive) cover women’s basketball anymore. You have to watch the teams play.

If we’re only going to watch a number, we don’t need anybody out there. We don’t. If you’re going to watch a number then don’t cover the game. Cover the game and watch the teams play. We have a damn good team, and the lack of respect we got was disgusting.

Doug Feinberg asked if he had further thoughts on this. Tony did.

I do. I do. I think when we’re constantly overlooked, talking about getting into a bid and at-large and everyone says, well, you know, your net is this number. I don’t care. You can take my resumé and put it next to everybody else.

If we’re only going to consider the net and we’re going to talk about the net for teams, then none of you need to work. Just take a number, take the top 64 — eight teams and let’s just move on.

When you watch Seton Hall play, yes, our net number wasn’t great, not because of anything other than we started off slow because of COVID and because of injuries, but when we got our whole team back and won 11 of our last 12 games in here and we’re never mentioned and DePaul is still mentioned and Marquette is still mentioned and Villanova should be a lock, that’s ridiculous. That’s disrespectful.

You want to look at my non-league wins versus Villanova non-league? They don’t compare. We beat Princeton. They didn’t. I’m telling you there’s not a bigger supporter here for Villanova than Tony Bozzella. I’m on the committee, regional committee. I talk about Villanova. I do everything.

But to have us not respected and not brought up in numerous meetings, numerous conversations within the league and within the national media is disgusting. And we took it as a chip. I thank them.

But we were one basket away or two baskets away from winning the game today. We’re one point away from winning the game at Creighton, at home versus Creighton a couple weeks ago. We should have won 13 games in a row. And you wanna tell us that doesn’t matter because your net was 80. What do we have to do, go 30-0?

And the lack of respect our league gets is disgusting. When you talk about getting two teams in from the Summit, from the A-10, from the WCC, and you’re talking about only two teams from the Big East, are you a fool? Have you not watched basketball?

We don’t get to play all those teams those teams play. Every game we play is hard. What Lauren Park-Lane said is true — we played Tuesday. We chose to play Tuesday to finish our league schedule because that’s what you’re supposed to do. You’re supposed to play all your league games, not pick and choose who you want to play when you want to play.

We found a date. We can play our last league game and we flew to Ohio and we played Xavier on Tuesday. And then we played on Friday and we played on Saturday and we played on Sunday. And it’s not an excuse. But that’s what you’re supposed to do.

But for us to not get the respect that we have earned is disrespectful. We’ve earned that respect Seton Hall. If you don’t think we’re every bit as good as any of these other teams you just don’t watch basketball.

So I’m tired of the net. I really am. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to hear about it. Because you think UConn is the eighth or ninth best team in the country, you’re a fool.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Howard Megdal

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