Just in time for the WNBA’s opening night, Tara and Cassidy talked to Arielle Chambers (@ariivory) of Bleacher Report/House of Highlights for look at the upcoming season. The WNBA attracts the best of the best and we found out which players to watch for and why. The entire league is bursting with evenly distributed talent creating unprecedented parity. Along with the action on the court, the league’s long list of intriguing personalities set the stage for what should be an exciting season.
Chambers walked us through the major story lines people are keeping an eye on. The most pressing of them: how injuries to big stars like Breanna Stewart, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi lead to opportunities for new players to break out? We also talked about teams to keep an eye on. That list included the Los Angeles Sparks, the Atlanta Dream and the Las Vegas Aces whose new center Liz Cambage will be coached by Detroit Bad Boy Bill Laimbeer.
We also talked about challenges that the league faces, why popularity is growing, and what fans can do to help the league grow even more. If you’re anything like us, you’ll be excited to tune in on Friday night to find out what happens this WNBA season.
1:30 Icebreaker: what is a sport you have always wanted to learn more about?
6:05 Introducing Arielle Chambers. She was a competitive cheerleader and her best friends were basketball players. After college she cheered for the Knicks and the Liberty. She noticed no one was covering the Liberty and decided to do it herself. A double major in Communications and English, she was prepared for the task.
9:50 Big story lines going into WNBA season: Injuries. Sue Bird, missing 8-10 weeks off, Diana Taurasi, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart and Candace Parker are all expected to miss time if not the whole season. New stars are going to flourish. Liz Cambage has moved to Las Vegas where she will play with Bill Laimbeer. She has a little bit of “Bad Girl” in her so it will be cool to see how she does under Laimbeer.
11:30 WNBA is the most competitive professional league in the world with only 144 players on the 12 teams.
12:45 Who are some of the rising stars? A’ja Wilson made a big splash for the Aces last year and now Liz Cambage will be there with her. Natasha Cloud on the Washington Mystics is another rising star. Chiney Ogwumike went to the Sparks to play with her sister. Courtney Williams on the Connecticut Sun is another player to watch.
14:15 LA Sparks have always been her favorite team because she loved Lisa Leslie and is friends with Candace Parker. But she still reports neutrally.
15:20 Who are some of the WNBA coaches to keep an eye on? There isn’t much coaching drama. Derek Fisher is the new head coach of the LA Sparks. It is fun to watch former WNBA players be coaches. Sadly, Seattle’s coach Dan Hughes was just diagnosed with cancer.
17:00 Who are some of the teams for someone searching for a team to support? Las Vegas Aces and the Atlanta Dream are both really fun and talented teams.
18:30 Will new CBS contracts help grow the league? Yes, it will increase exposure and you can also watch 20 games on Twitter this year as well.
19:45 Why do people complain about women’s basketball so much? Many people probably do it for the attention.
21:05 What are some of the things the league has done to try and get more popular? It is probably not the league doing anything, but the players feeling more comfortable with being themselves, and more media coverage.
23:05 How do people who follow the WNBA get all of the stats that NBA teams have access to? It is really hard, for example, the media has to search for the salary information information and compile it. High Post Hoops has a salary database. Her Hoops Stats and Across the timeline (@wbbtimeline) are both good resources.
24:45 WNBA Players get 20 percent of the league revenue opposed to the NBA players who get 50 percent.
27:00 What can people do to support the league? Go to games, pay for League Pass. Tell people about it.
29:00 Are there rules or difference between the men’s and women’s games that we should know about? Games are slightly shorter and played below the rim. Otherwise it is basically the same. Pace is a bit slower than the NBA. The WNBA season is only 34 games long.
30:20 Bleacher Report/House of Highlights is a new platform where women will be represented. @WeAreJayla is the new Instagram platform in the model of House of Highlights which will focus on women and women’s sports.
33:10 Covering women’s sports is a passion project. You don’t do it for fame and money. For a lot of people, it actually costs money for them to cover women’s basketball. But it is getting better as big sites start launching platforms specifically for women.
36:45 Lynx vs Sparks is a classic rivalry, but last season the league got parity and now the competition is spread out.
Women’s Hoops And Talks (W.H.A.T.)
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Music used in the episode: “Happy Alley” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License