The IX: Basketball Wednesday with Howard Megdal, May 8, 2019
Burning question for each WNBA team — Paige Bueckers interview — Must-click women's basketball links
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Happy WNBA preseason eve, everyone!
No, WNBA preseason will not be definitive. We aren’t going to learn everything that the season ahead has in store for us. That said, there are lessons to be gleaned from preseason.
For instance: I watched Mercedes Russell last year in Liberty camp, and came away convinced she could help a WNBA team at the 5. It was unlikely to be New York, given their roster and set contracts, but it turned out to be Seattle, who you may remember won it all. So the question I didn’t even know to ask was answered months later, when I saw Russell celebrating down in (well, near) DC.
With full humility that I may be asking the wrong questions, here are those I have for each WNBA team.
Seattle Storm: What does their offensive flow look like without Breanna Stewart, and who becomes more of an alpha scorer? Is that Sue Bird? Is Natasha Howard or Jordin Canada ready to do that?
Atlanta Dream: I know Atlanta didn’t trade a first round pick for Marie Gulich not to use her, and there are good reasons to think she will fit in well there, particularly on pick-and-roll sets. But I want to see it live to get a sense of it — which I will, next week at Moehgan!
Washington Mystics: People have forgotten how good Emma Meesseman is. Mike Thibault hasn’t, though. Where does she fit in on the WNBA favorites?
Connecticut Sun: Who takes hold of those backup big minutes, Bri Jones or Kristine Anigwe?
Phoenix Mercury: How quickly do the Mercury let Sophie Cunningham be Sophie Cunningham?
Los Angeles Sparks: What does this spacing even look like? And how much does Chiney Ogwumike need to change her game to facilitate it?
Minnesota Lynx: The team has invested a massive amount of time and energy in Danielle Robinson. How does it all pay off, particularly from beyond the arc?
Dallas Wings: Can they find a way out of the Liz Cambage conundrum? The league’s best returning player isn’t on a roster right now, and that’s a big deal.
Las Vegas Aces: How willing is Bill Laimbeer to play small? Matters for his plethora of guards, but for Dearica Hamby, too!
Chicago Sky: James Wade clearly has a plan to utilize Katie Lou Samuelson, Gabby Williams and Diamond DeShields… what is it?
New York Liberty: I mean, Han Xu. How good is she? How soon? What does a 6’9 player with range do to Katie Smith’s attack? How does she work next to Tina Charles? I an so excited to see her tomorrow.
Indiana Fever: Look, Pokey Chatman has been after a rim protector for years. Now she has one in Teaira McCowan. How much does this change them defensively? The degree will tell us a lot about the prospect of success, long-term, in Indiana.
This Week in Women’s Basketball
Mechelle Voepel had this interesting column on the Courtney Banghart hire, but really, on North Carolina as a whole.
Make time for this mini-doc about Bridget Pettis.
Mike Anthony points out that UConn women’s basketball is just fine, thank you.
Alex Simon has a deep dive into Seton Catholic High School’s season of loss and redemption.
Madeline Kenney has the Katie Lou Samuelson draft night story.
Jeff Jacobs has a Bria Holmes returns story.
I loved watching Hanna Hall play for UB even before I saw this.
Ben Dull’s 12 Things column is back, this time with a WNBA overview.
I made a 2020 WNBA Mock Draft, because why not?
DeWanna Bonner is staying at the four… I dig it.
Just your typical NJIT-to-the-NBA story.
When Imani McGee-Stafford talks, listen.
These Tina Charles quotes on the Liberty and Brooklyn are letter-perfect.
It is so, so easy to root for Crystal Langhorne.
Always, always listen to The Cheryl Reeve Show.
Tweet of the Week
Five at The IX: Paige Bueckers
I caught up with Paige during the Final Four. You’re going to want to get to know her. (It’s pronounced Beckers, by the way.)
REPORTER: So, when you chose UConn, I know you talked about growing up, knowing what the program was, and I’m just wondering if there were player or players that you sort of think of as the ultimate UConn players when you’re looking to follow in their footsteps?
PAIGE BUECKERS: So, obviously Diana, Sue, Maya and Breanna, but what brought me to UConn was definitely Coach Geno and what he does with the players that he has.
REPORTER: When did UConn first get in touch with you, and what was that like to be talking with UConn of all programs?
PAIGE BUECKERS: Yeah, I think it was my eighth grade AAU year. It was really cool as I looked up to them when I was younger and just for them to reach out to me … It meant a lot to me just showed how much I’d been working hard. It was kind of cool. It was kind of surreal just for them to watch one of my games.
REPORTER: Is there a player or players you kind of feel that maybe you modeled your game after?
PAIGE BUECKERS: I like Diana. You can see just her competitive spirit and passion for the game is something extra.
REPORTER: Do you model yourself and think of yourself as a point guard despite your height being somewhat taller than most point guards in the W right now because you think that’s the direction the elite is going? Do you think that people look at you that way because there’s versatility expected of and allowed for players at your height?
PAIGE BUECKERS: Yeah, I consider myself a combo guard. I don’t just classify myself as a point guard, but I feel like my vision and my height helps me being versatile and doing a lot of things other than just running the point guard, and, for my high school teams and I ran like the two and three and my battle ran the point guards so, yeah, I can do both.
REPORTER: Paige, to be an iconic player in the state of Minnesota, a place when Lindsay Whalen made her mark, a place where the Minnesota Lynx have been so significant, does it feel like you a chance to be part of the continuation of a legacy of basketball in Minnesota, both at collegiate and the pro level?
PAIGE BUECKERS: Yeah, I’m going to UConn, but I rep Minnesota, that’s where I was born, that’s where I was raised, and I just wanna put our name out there, and just get everybody to know we’re not just hockey players. We play basketball too.