NEW YORK – It has been a busy low season in the WNBA since the Minnesota Lynx won the championship last year and beat Los Angeles in another thrilling final.
Las Vegas won a team while New York changed arenas. Dallas saw the return of a major domestic presence with Australian Liz Cambage after a break to join the WNBA. A third of the league changed hands, while another strong rookie harvest by A & # 39; Wilson and Kelsey Mitchell went into the league last month.
"There is so much excitement for our 22nd season," WNBA President Lisa Borders told the AP. "So many stories to tell and so many great players to watch."
The league begins on Friday night when Dallas visits Phoenix. All 12 teams will play a WNBA final between Los Angeles and Minnesota on Sunday with the marquee game that day. The two teams have been quite competitive in the last two years after playing for the title in the last two years.
"Every game we play feels like a championship game," said Minnesota star Maya Moore. "Then you know it, when you play in teams and you have the feeling that you feel: 'This is exactly how a rivalry feels.'
While Lynx and Sparks are still the league's class and the first two places in the league The AP WNBA pre-season Power Vote deserves many teams ready to knock them off.
"This summer is getting intense because of the small margin for error," Moore said. Do not be fooled; it's harder than it looks. "
Moore and Minnesota will try to end the league's repeated drought and win a record championship, with no team winning consecutive titles in the WNBA since Los Angeles 2001-2002, with the Lynx three in recent years Chances and came up short in their repeat quest each time – with the stellar core of Moore, Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus, ruling MVP Sylvia Fowles and Rebekkah Brunson all back – albeit a year older – the Lynx could finish this series.
Here are some key storylines for the upcoming season:
VIVA LAS VEGAS: The San Antonio Stars moved to Las Vegas in the winter and gave the city of Nevada their second professional sports franchise from MGM Resorts, had the # 1 draft pick and added a solid young post player to Wilson to compliment a strong guard group, and new coach Bill Laimbeer hopes the franchise to make a permanent competitor.
COACHING CHANGES: Laimbeer is not the only new coach this season. His protector Katie Smith took over the New York Liberty after working as an assistant in New York in recent years. Dan Hughes is back on the bench after a year. He's in Seattle now. Atlanta hired Nicki Collen as new coach after spending several years as an assistant in Connecticut.
WELCOME BACK: Cambage was only 19 when the Tulsa Shock summoned her and acknowledged that the city of Oklahoma was not the right solution.
"I was not happy in Tulsa, I was 19 years old and looking for a team that would support me and help me grow," said Cambage, who played with Tulsa in 2011 and 2013. "I do not think that happened in Tulsa, I'm older and mature now."
When the franchise moved to Dallas a few years ago, the 6-foot-8 star started from the WNBA after their break To consider comeback. A trip to the Texas city last May helped seal the deal.
"I'm so happy to be back and ready to take this franchise the next step," she said.
Cambage is not the only player returning to the league this year. After resting last season to rest her body, Angel McCoughtry is back with Atlanta. The former All-Star will give a boost in offense and defense. Phoenix will also see the return of DeWanna Bonner, who gave birth to twins last season.
FIND A NEW HOUSE: After a low season of uncertainty for the Liberty, where owner James Dolan announced his intentions to sell the team, New York remains owned by MSG – for now. The team will play only two games at Madison Square Garden, where the first 21 years of the franchise tournament were at home. The rest is played in Westchester at a venue that is about one-third the size of the garden.
New York hasn & # 39; In the playoffs of the last two years, he made it in the second round of the playoffs and won every time in the first round, before he was annoyed in his playoff opener.
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