By Charles Hallman
The WNBA last week did a Buddy Miles “Them Changes” and announced several new moves for the upcoming season.
W draft in prime time
After years of having their annual draft shown during daytime soap opera hours, the 2013 WNBA Draft will be shown for the first time next spring in prime time. ESPN2 will show the first round at 7 pm Central time on Monday, April 15. The second and third rounds then will be shown on ESPNU.
Both league and network officials cite the historic change due to an anticipated star-studded first round that is expected to include Baylor center Brittney Griner and Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins. Both players are primed to have an impact on the WNBA similar to that of former first-year players Nneka Ogwumike and Maya Moore, this year’s and last year’s top rookies respectively.
“We anticipate [the 2013 draft] will be one of the most exciting — and followed — drafts in league history,” proclaimed League President Laurel Richie in a press release last week.
The top five picks belong to Phoenix, Chicago, Tulsa, Washington and New York in that order; Minnesota picks 12th — the final selection of the first round.
No more ‘flops’ in the W
An “anti-flopping” rule similar to what the NBA instituted this season also will be in the WNBA starting next summer.
“Flopping” is defined as “any physical act that, upon review, reasonably appears to have been intended to cause the referees to call a foul on another player.” WNBA Basketball Operations Chief Renee Brown said in a league press release last week, “Flops that are intended to mislead referees into calling undeserved fouls…are a detriment to the game.”
As a result, the “flopping” player upon review will be given an initial warning by the league on the first offense, and then all subsequent violations will be subjected to fines. If a player reaches six “flops,” she will be subject to a fine and/or suspension. A separate set of penalties for flopping in the playoffs will be used next season as well.
Another NBA rule adopted by the W for next season is the defensive three seconds — a violation that results in a technical free throw and the offense then takes the ball out of bounds at the free-throw line extended.
Also, the three-point line will be extended from 20 feet 6¼ inches to 22 feet 1¾ inches — the same distance used in international basketball.
“The extended three-point line and defensive three-second rule will create spacing and open up the lane [and] will create increased opportunities for athletic players to drive to the basket and either shoot or pass the ball back out to open players on the perimeter,” adds Brown.
Other “slight changes” announced last week by the league include using instant replay to review flagrant fouls and the restricted area.
Virtually every WNBA player typically spends their off-season overseas. Among the eight current Minnesota Lynx players:
Maya Moore (Shanxi, China) scored 53 points in a game two weekends ago.
Seimone Augustus led her Spartak (Russia) to two wins in Russian League play.
Rebekkah Brunson had a double-double for USK Praha (Czech Republic) in the Czech League, as did Amber Harris for Bichumi (Korea).
Devereaux Peters (Lucca, Italy) grabbed a game-high 20 rebounds in a recent Italian League win.
Monica Wright (Dandenong) and Jessica Adair (Townsville) both are playing in the WNBL Australian League.
Lindsay Whalen is starring for Galatasaray (Turkey) and is playing games in both the EuroLeague and Turkish League.
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