The WNBA is mid-way through the preseason with training camp well underway and five games played. Since April 9, the day of the draft, there have been 19 cuts, six of those since training camp began on May 17. Teams have until June 5 to trim their rosters to just 11 players, down two from last year. So far, the teams that are closest to their final cuts are Indiana and Los Angeles. Connecticut and San Antonio have the most players with 17 still in the mix. The training camp roster maximum is 15 but some teams have players still overseas like Seattle and Connecticut.
Seattle’s marquee player Lauren Jackson will not arrive from Australia until May 31 and fellow Aussie Suzy Batkovic (who is getting married this month) in early June.
Connecticut is waiting for center Sandrine Gruda and Latvian free agent guard Anete Jekabsone-Zogota to join the squad after they are finished competing for teams overseas. Both are expected in late June. Consequently, even after the season starts, roster spots are not a guarantee as two players will be cut to make room for them.
The current roster numbers (taking into account players abroad) are: Chicago - 15, Connecticut - 17, New York - 14, Atlanta - 14, Indiana - 13, Detroit - 15, Washington - 15, Seattle - 15, Los Angeles - 13, Minnesota - 16, Phoenix - 15, San Antonio - 17, Sacramento - 16.
Some coaches like Seattle’s Brian Agler have been quick to make cuts after the first preseason game while others like Mike Thibault have indicated that they will take more time to evaluate players. A summary of game results give clues as to those who have locked down their spots and those who are on shaky ground.
Thursday, May 21
New York 77 Washington 71
Washington: Nakia Sanford 17 points, 8 rebounds; Crystal Langhorne 15 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist; Monique Currie 12 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists
Washington rookie Marissa Coleman finished with 7 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks
New York: Leilani Mitchell 10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists; Shameka Christon 12 points; Tia Jackson 10 points; Janel McCarville 8 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists.
Kia Vaughn and Loree Moore did not play. Vaughn was attending her Rutgers graduation.
Seattle 64 Sacramento 55
Sacramento: Nicole Powell 15 points, 1 assist
Seattle: Ashley Walker 10 points, 5 Rebounds
Ashley Walker was the talk of the game garnering accolades from the KKNW radio commentators Dick Fain and Adia Barnes as well as their on-air guests and Storm players Swin Cash and Sue Bird. The rookie was “all over the place.” When Sue Bird was on the air she said that the rookie is “going to be a pretty good player in this league.” Storm coach Agler took no time in making cuts, waiving Kimberly Beck and Mara Freshour the next day.
For Sacramento, Nicole Powell led her team. Rookie Courtney Paris had some adjusting to do against more physical players than she has ever encountered. The former Oklahoma star ended with 2 points, 5 rebounds and 1 block. Monarch stars Rebekkah Brunson and Kara Lawson did not play due to injuries
Friday, May 22
Connecticut 74 New York 62
New York: Jessica Davenport 10 Points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist
Connecticut: Chante Black, 8 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist
Although Asjha Jones led the Sun with 11 points it was rookie Chante Black who had the most to earn from her first preseason game. And although Sun coach Thibault is taking his time with cuts, Black’s place on the roster seems to be secure.
For New York, Rutgers center Kia Vaughn, had eight points (4 of 6).
Chicago 71 Detroit 67
Detroit: Tanae Davis-Cain 14 points, 2 rebounds; Shavonte Zellous, 8 points,Kara Braxton 7 points, 8 rebounds
Chicago Sylvia Fowles 21 points, 9 rebounds
Sylvia Fowles owned this game and probably would have finished with a double-double if Sky coach Steven Key had let her play more than 20:33. Center Chen Nan scored nine. Rookies Kristi Toliver and Jen Risper each scored three.
Saturday, May 23
Indiana 68 Minnesota 51
Indiana: Katie Douglas 19 points
Minnesota: Quanitra Hollingsworth 14 points, 2 rebounds
The Lynx may have lost but it was a good game for 6-5 rookie center Quanitra Hollingsworth who led her team in points. She even impressed Fever coach Lin Dunn.
“I really like the Hollingsworth kid,” said Dunn to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “She has got tremendous upside. Nice touch.”
Unfortunately for Minnesota homegirl Emily Fox, her performance may not help her chances of making the final cut. She got loud cheers from fans when she sunk a three-pointer near the end of the game. It was not enough to impact the game but enough to make her family and fans proud.
The day before game Dunn made the first Fever cuts waiving Sherrill Baker and Doneeka Lewis.
Veteran guard Katie Douglas led Indiana with 19 points. Rookie guard Briann January had 5 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals
Summary of team cuts since April 8 (doesn’t include players who found teams after they were cut—Coco Miller, Murriel Page, Kristi Harrower, Katie Feenstra, Kristin Haynie):
The Atlanta Dream - Jessica Morrow, Ashley Shields.
The Indiana Fever - Allison Feaster, Doneeka Lewis, Sherill Baker.
The Los Angeles - Britney Jordan.
The Phoenix Mercury - Jessica Adair.
The San Antonio Silver Stars - Sandora Irvin.
The Minnesota Lynx - Navonda Moore.
The Phoenix Mercury - Kim Smith.
The Seattle Storm - Melanie Thomas, Kristen O’Neill, Kimberly Beck, Mara Freshour.
The Washington Mystics - Crystal Smith, Camille LeNoir.
The Washington Mystics - Andrea Gardner, Laurie Koehn and Krystal Vaughn.
Notes: The box score on wnba.com for the Indiana-Minnesota game lists Briann January as R. Bright. Strange. The only game available on audio was the Seattle-Sacramento game directly from the KKNW web site (http://www.1150kknw.com). Although Quanitra Hollingsworth is indeed the youngest American to be drafted, Storm star Lauren Jackson still holds the record for the youngest draftee overall. She was 19 when she was the first pick in 2001. Former Tennessee player Dena Head is the oldest. Later this month, Jackson will be a bridesmaid in teammate Batkovic’s wedding. Condolences to San Antonio Silver Stars forward Sophia Young who missed Saturday’s practice due to her father’s death from a heart attack the day before. Denniston Young was a noted Calypso and Soca musician. Sophia flew to Toronto to be with her family.
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