The WNBA took another huge step towards commencing the 2020 “Wubble” season, by announcing the full schedule for the season.
The league opener will be on Saturday 25th July, with a 5 PM (UK Time) clash between the WNBA powerhouse Seattle Storm, led by Sue Bird, a healthy Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd, taking on the incredibly young, rookie-laden New York Liberty who boast the number one draft pick Sabrina Ionescu, the experienced Amanda Zahui B and Layshia Clarendon.
The two other fixture on the Saturday are equally as juicy as two loaded and historic franchises face off at 8 PM (UK Time). The Los Angeles Sparks, complete with their new signing of Seimone Augustus, GB international Kristine Anigwe and Candace Parker (to name just three) face off against arguably the toughest squad in the country, Phoenix Mercury. The Mercury boast 15 year veteran Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner, and newly acquired Skylar Diggins-Smith, in what is sure to be an epic encounter.
The third game of day one is an intriguing one. Tipping at 10 PM (UK Time) it will see the Indiana Fever face off against reigning champions Washington Mystics. This is an interesting match-up as the Mystics are missing quite a number of stars from last year and are still waiting on confirmation of a number of players’ status, in particular the reigning WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne. The Fever are yet to start training, having joined the Bubble late.
The pick of the games in the opening weekend is without doubt Chicago Sky vs Las Vegas Aces. The game times at 8 PM (UK Time) on Sunday 26th July and is a rematch of the unforgettable round 2 match up that saw Dearica Hamby steal the ball on a pass from Courtney Vandersloot and sink a 35-footer with 4 seconds remaining in the game, to break Chicago hearts.
The Aces are without Liz Cambage (medical opt-out) and Kelsey Plum (achilles) and today (Monday 13th July) Head Coach Bill Laimbeer told the assembled media that he had just six healthy players at practice, from his squad of 11. Whereas the Sky are fired up for the season ahead, with a full strength roster that knows just how close they were to something special last season.
Last year’s beaten finalists Connecticut Sun open Sunday with an ESPN clash against the mighty Minnesota Lynx, who are experiencing life without both Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus for the first time since 2006. The new-look Sun have added two-time WNBA Champion DeWanna Bonner from Phoenix with a number of big names gone from last year such as Shekinna Stricklen.
The final Sunday game sees the very young and exciting Dallas Wings going up against the Atlanta Dream that some think may end the season on the bottom of the pile. Both sides have their fair share of Rookies and Dallas in particular have a very young core with their most experienced players having just 4 years WNBA experience, however they have All-Rookie Arike Ogunbowale and Rookie sensation Satou Sabally, the ROY elect in the eyes of some. The Dream, do have Stricklen as mentioned, alongside her 2019 teammate Courtney Williams and former Wing Glory Johnson.
Each team will play 22 games in 29 days, with the league’s regular season concluding on Tuesday 8th September. Every day of games will have 3 games, each given at least one hour of uncontested game time (no two games tip at the same time).
The IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, boasts 2 courts which. Between games and training sessions there is a one hour window for the WNBA to deep clean the court and court-side to keep the Bubble as safe as possible, and this is reflected in the schedule.
As for how the courts look? Well, we think they look pretty incredible.
For full schedule information click this link to the WNBA website.
The WNBA have always been at the fore when it comes to social justice and equality, and this season is no different. The WNBA have stated in a league statement:
WNBA Tip-Off 2020 presented by AT&T also will highlight the league’s new social justice platform, The WNBA Justice Movement, with a special focus on the Black Lives Matter movement. During the national triple-header telecasts on July 25-26, team uniforms will display Breonna Taylor’s name as WNBA players raise awareness and seek justice for the women and girls who have been the forgotten victims of police brutality and racial violence. Players will individually have the option to continue to wear the placard with Breonna Taylor’s name for subsequent games. Additionally, throughout the season, players will wear warm-up shirts that display “Black Lives Matter” on the front and “Say Her Name” on the back. “Black Lives Matter” will also be prominently displayed on courts during games.
Main Article Image Credit: WNBA