The WNBA is now on a month-long Olympic break because many of its players are participating in Rio. But while league play is on pause, we recently asked if the time off is an advantage or a disadvantage, and for whom.
“I think all the teams just look at it” as positively as possible, says Chicago Coach-GM Pokey Chatman. It can be a mixed blessing of sorts, she points out. “If you’re a team that’s inconsistent or you’re a team that is trying to have someone heal from injury,” then the break is welcomed, says Chatman. “If we get on a little run [going into the break], I’m not going to like the break,” jokes the coach.
Adds Dallas’ Fred Williams, “I think the only advantage would be getting your younger players some more practice time while this break happens.” With a compressed schedule in play due to the Olympics, “There is not a lot of practice time in the first part of the season,” he notes. “My practices sometimes come in playing the game.”
“We will do a variety of things, but one of my favorite things is player development,” explains Seattle Coach Jenny Boucek, who has two players, Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart, on the USA team. She remembers as a Seattle assistant coach in 2004 also going without two players during the break. The month off evidently didn’t hurt the Storm: “We won the championship that year,” recalls Boucek.
Now as the club’s head coach, she says, “I’m really going to be able to give a lot of time and attention to the players on the team…and try to get the rest of my team better.”
“Whether you need some rest, even if it breaks your momentum, [it’s] getting back to the fundamentals,” says Chatman, who will be without two of her players in the Olympics for the month, Elena Delle Donne for the U.S. and Erika De Souza for host Brazil.
Minnesota Lynx reserve forward Natasha Howard led all scorers July 25 as a member of the USA Select Team in an exhibition game loss to the U.S. Olympic team.
Teammate Seimone Augustus, who is on the USA team, needs just 12 points to pass Tangela Smith (5,048) for 14th all-time in league scoring. The Lynx guard has 5,037 points.
Tina Charles is on pace to become only the second-ever W player to lead the league both in scoring and rebounding. The New York forward is averaging 21 points and nearly 10 rebounds.
If she stays on track, Los Angeles’ Nneka Ogwumike will break the WNBA single-season record for field goal percentage — she’s currently shooting 71 percent. Tamika Raymond in 2003 shot .668 as a Lynx and now holds the record.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles Hallman is a contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. He can be reached at email@example.com