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The W launches: Sparks v. Storm.

The team GMs venture their opinion of the season.

If you’re watching via Live Access, good luck. I sure hope this anonymous rep doesn’t end up eating their wordsThe WNBA has angered fans in the past because of glitches on the site. I was told by a few officials that those were fixed, one even stating that problems can be worked on while not going live and will be ironed out.

From Mel: Guru’s WNBA Report: Season Opens With Familiar Faces In Brand New Places

From Lady Swish: Liberty’s Warley makes WNBA roster in Phoenix

Hoopfeed has is Previewing the 2012 WNBA season: The Western Conference and the The Eastern Conference.

There’s also the Dishin & Swishin podcast: http://www.hoopfeed.com/content/2012/05/17/dishin-swishin-51712-podcast-a-roundtable-preview-of-the-2012-wnba-season/

Richard, L’Alien, has been busy:

2012 In-Depth Season Preview: Washington Mystics

You know what’s strange – I actually see the logic here. It’s easy to rag on the Mystics and head coach/general manager Trudi Lacey. This team was a disaster last year. They failed to retain the coach and general manger that produced their best ever season in 2010, and everything went downhill from there. Constant comments about injuries and blatant nonsense about how young the squad was did them no favours with their remaining fans, and when the season finally ended after just six wins all year, it was a blessed relief. But Lacey’s moves in the offseason made sense.

2012 In-Depth WNBA Season Preview: New York Liberty

You’ve gotta love Liberty fans. A bizarre draft pick (in a draft everyone said was horrible), and a couple of poor performances in preseason (for a coach whose system is notoriously hard to adapt to) and the sky is falling.

2012 In-Depth WNBA Season Preview: Indiana Fever

Yes, as you can see from the squad listing above, I’ve bowed to popular opinion and indications from the Fever themselves and moved Tamika Catchings to the 4. I hate it, and we’ll examine why below, but it does at least add an interesting wrinkle to the outlook for this Fever squad.

2012 In-Depth WNBA Season Preview: Connecticut Sun

Should I just refer you to everything I wrote about them last year? Head coach Mike Thibault apparently spent the offseason sitting on his couch knocking back a few cold ones, because as far as he’s concerned, this team is already good enough.

2012 In-Depth WNBA Season Preview: Chicago Sky

Big changes in Chicago, as head coach/GM Pokey Chatman proved that you can get a lot done in the offseason even when you’re in Russia coaching a different team at the time. In her first year in charge last season, the Sky were ultimately just as mediocre as they’ve been for their previous four season, and missed the playoffs yet again. The endless turnovers and poorly chosen shots drove Chatman nuts, so she’s kept her young backcourt and a couple of backups – along with, of course, superstar center Sylvia Fowles – and brought in a swathe of veterans with winning pedigrees to build around them.

2012 In-Depth WNBA Season Preview: Atlanta Dream

Significant losses: de Souza (Brazilian National Team for first half of the season), Lyttle (unconfirmed absence midseason to join Spanish National Team), Iziane Castro Marques (currently with Brazilian National Team, remains WNBA unrestricted free agent), Shalee Lehning (injured and retired from WNBA), Alison Bales (retired from WNBA), assistant coach Carol Ross (left to take head coach position in Los Angeles)

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Well just reading that list above doesn’t paint a pretty picture, does it?

On the subject of the W, a couple of WATNs:

EMU Names Kristin Haynie Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach. I wonder if they’re ordering extra food rations, ’cause you know how many calories it takes to hire a Haynie?

UMMC Put Lange, Brondello In Charge. Lucky them: ’cause they’ll have Diana and you won’t.

Speaking of Diane: ‘ware the prankster!

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Dream Doctor

Alison Bales leaves WNBA for school

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and pull out your reading glasses. From Richard:

WNBA Finals Mega-Preview Part 3: The Bigs – Brunson/McWilliams-Franklin vs. Lyttle/?

Here’s where this series gets really interesting. Despite the strength of their bench, Minnesota have relied heavily on their starting five all season long. That group contains two true post players in rebounding demon Rebekkah Brunson and everyone’s favourite WNBA septuagenarian, Taj McWilliams-Franklin (she’s actually only 40, but the ‘Taj is old’ jokes never get old).

In the second half of the season, Atlanta had a very similar reliance on their starting five, including the quickness and length of Sancho Lyttle at power forward and size and strength of Erika de Souza at center. But when de Souza left to play for Brazil in the FIBA Americas tournament after Game 1 of the Eastern Finals, the Dream went small. Lyttle was generally the only post on the floor, occasionally spelled by backup Alison Bales, and wing Iziane Castro Marques had two outstanding games as de Souza’s replacement in the starting lineup. The speed of the small lineup and Castro Marques’s shooting is essentially what carried the Dream into these Finals. de Souza is expected back in time for Game 2, but it’s going to be very interesting to see how Atlanta approach their lineups and matchups throughout this series. Is their four-perimeter player group too quick for Minnesota to handle? Or will Brunson and McWilliams-Franklin dominate that small lineup in the paint to such an extent that the Dream will be forced back to a more traditional five?

WNBA Finals Mega-Preview Part 4: The Wildcards – Moore vs. Price/Castro Marques

It might seem a little strange to consider the current Rookie of the Year, Minnesota’s second-leading scorer this season and one of the most well-known female basketball players in the USA a ‘wild card’ heading into this series. But it seems fair to me. Maya Moore admitted to some nerves in their opening playoff series against San Antonio, and when the Silver Stars had the temerity to defend her with players far smaller than her like Becky Hammon and Tully Bevilaqua she struggled to take advantage of the mismatch. She was also the primary defender being lit up when Jia Perkins caught fire and led San Antonio to a Game 2 win. But Moore improved as that series went on, then had fun firing away against Phoenix in the Western Conference Finals. Plus Penny Taylor didn’t have an awful series by accident, and it was Moore defending her for most of the two games.

Mega-Preview Part 5: The Benches

In terms of pure talent, Minnesota would appear to have more in reserve, but they haven’t exactly been proving it for most of the season. Alexis Hornbuckle, Charde Houston and this year’s 4th overall pick in the draft Amber Harris will probably see very little time in this series. Monica Wright may receive some opportunities to impress, especially if Cheryl Reeve tries to counter Atlanta’s small lineup, but she’s struggled to produce in limited chances this season. The bulk of the backup minutes are likely to go to Candice Wiggins and Jessica Adair.

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Tina Charles claimed the fifth triple-double (Lisa and Margo did it with blocks, TC with assists) in W history as the Sun stomped all over Indiana, 88-53.

And they made shots under direct orders from Charles, Renee Montgomery revealed.

“She told us at halftime we better make shots in the second half,” Montgomery cracked, alluding to how Charles knew she had eight assists at halftime. “I said ‘welcome to the life of a point guard.’ I told her that even if I was open I was going to take a dribble before I shot it (like we have to deal with) the pointless dribbles they take.”

Understanding the night’s theme, the Liberty’s (struggling) Leilani Mitchell got into a zone, nailing six three-pointers on her way to a career high 24-point night, pushing the Lib to a playoff-clinching win over the Lynx.

The Dream got into the swing of things, overcoming their three-phobia courtesy of a little Izzy (the streakiest player in the history of the W), a little Miller (Coco) and a lotta Alison Bales (3-3). Oh, and yah, the Atlanta defeated Washington, 95-73.

Tulsa stayed stuck on three (wins) but kept it interesting against Settle. Then Sue Bird nailed a (wait for it) three to seal a Storm win, 78-72.

Agler had warned his team that Tulsa (3-27) wouldn’t roll over.”We played Tulsa at home earlier in August, the game before they won two straight,” he said. “I told my team (Tulsa) isn’t going to make the playoffs, but they were going to impact the playoffs. They have impacted the playoffs and I don’t think they are quite done yet.”

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Cash helps carry Storm to finals – After reinventing herself, former UConn and Shock star is back at the top of her game

Swin Cash laughs and says there are “little pieces of” her kind of spread all over the country. Western Pennsylvania is where she grew up. Connecticut is where she went to college. Detroit is where her WNBA career began, and she still has a home there. Seattle is where she had her pro renaissance. Miami is where she has enjoyed hanging out during some of her offseason time over the past few years.

Wherever she goes, this is always the same: Cash leaves an impact.

Mechelle also takes some time with Duke grad Bales: Back and in best shape of career – Career in medicine awaits, but Bales realized she’s not done playing just yet

Alison Bales knows that if she eventually follows her mother into a career in medicine, she’ll be answering the “Did you used to play basketball?” question endlessly by patients.

But perhaps she won’t mind so much if she’s able to answer, “Yes — and I won a WNBA championship.”

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From the AJC’s Pierce: Atlanta Dream: WNBA finals notebook

From Q: WNBA Finals matchup analysis: Dream and Storm share strengths, but the Storm have an edge

It might seem like a long time ago when the surprising 6-0 Atlanta Dream came to KeyArena in June for a showdown against the 5-1 Seattle Storm on national television at what seemed at the time to be a potential WNBA Finals preview.

The third-year franchise led by a second-year star looked like the Eastern Conference counterpart to the Storm’s emergent dominance in the West — a friend in Los Angeles who saw the Dream discomfit the Sparks told me, “They were tossing bombs down court like ol school LA Raiders — deep balls for layups.”

However, the Dream took a 90-72 beating at the hands of a Storm team still not quite at their best and seemed to come to a grinding halt, a fate suffered by more than one team in KeyArena this season.

From Duke: Duke Alum Bales Prepares for WNBA Finals Appearance

From Clay at SlamOnline: Two Ends Meet – How Seattle and Atlanta got this far.

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