BREAKING NEWS: Breanna Stewart Expected To Miss WNBA Season With Torn Achilles – Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart tore her right Achilles tendon in the EuroLeague championship game, just five weeks before the start of the W.N.B.A. season. Her father, Brian Stewart, confirmed the injury and said she is expected to have surgery in Los Angeles this week. While Storm officials have not commented about the reigning league most valuable player, she most likely will miss the 2019 season. “I don’t think it’s a career-ending type of injury,” Brian Stewart told her hometown Syracuse.com. “But it’s certainly going to put her in the barn for a while.”
Two-Time WNBA Champion Pondexter Retires – Cappie Pondexter, the 2007 WNBA Finals MVP who won two titles with the Phoenix Mercury and an Olympic gold medal with the United States in 2008, announced her retirement on Instagram on Tuesday. Pondexter, a college standout at Rutgers from 2002 to 2006, was selected with the No. 2 overall pick by Phoenix in the 2006 WNBA draft. The 5-foot-9 guard Pondexter averaged 23.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists in the 2007 WNBA Finals, when the Mercury beat Detroit 3-2. She was also a key player for the Mercury’s 2009 championship team, when they defeated Indiana 3-2, averaging 18.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists. Pondexter wanted a chance to play in New York, though, and asked for a trade to the Liberty. She played there from 2010 to ’14. She was traded to Chicago and played for the Sky from 2015 to ’17. Then last season, she played 13 games for Los Angeles and 17 for Indiana. For her 13-year WNBA career, Pondexter averaged 16.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.8 assists. She played in the WNBA All-Star Game seven times and was All-WNBA First Team three times. In 2011, she was named one of the top 15 players in WNBA history.
WNBA MVP Stewart Injured In EuroLeague Game – Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart, the 2018 WNBA MVP, exited the EuroLeague Final Four championship game with an apparent foot injury on Sunday in Sopron, Hungary. Stewart, playing for Dynamo Kursk, left in the first half and did not return to the game, a 91-67 loss to UMMC Ekaterinburg. The 6-foot-4 Stewart came down in considerable pain as she went up for a jump shot, holding the back of her foot. Stewart led Connecticut to four NCAA tournament titles and was the No. 1 pick in the 2016 WNBA draft. She was rookie of the year in 2016. Last year, she averaged 21.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.4 blocked shots for the Storm in the regular season. Her scoring went up during the playoffs, when she averaged 24.6 points and was named WNBA Finals MVP. UMMC Ekaterinburg and Dynamo Kursk, both based in Russia, will face each other in a three-game series for the Russian League championship starting April 20.
Notre Dame and Baylor Still The Story At WNBA Draft – Jackie Young said it was a dream come true to be taken first in the WNBA draft. The Notre Dame guard, who was able to declare early because she turns 22 in the same year as the draft, was selected No. 1 by the Las Vegas Aces on Wednesday night. She’s the second Irish player to be drafted first after entering early, joining Jewell Loyd, who had the honor in 2015. It’s the third consecutive year the Aces have had the No. 1 pick. They took Kelsey Plum in 2017 when the franchise was still in San Antonio. The Aces then drafted A’ja Wilson last season with the No. 1 pick when the franchise moved to Las Vegas. Young, the only junior available in this year’s draft, said she was excited to be joining the Aces. The 6-foot Young averaged 14.7 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game this season for Notre Dame. Her size, quickness and versatility at guard are qualities that should translate well for Las Vegas. Asia Durr went second to the New York Liberty. The Louisville guard, who was a two-time AP All-American, was the No. 2 scorer in school history. The Indiana Fever took Mississippi State center Teaira McCowan at No. 3. McCowan said she sees her role with the Fever being similar to what she has done for the Bulldogs the past four years. Chicago drafted a UConn player for the second consecutive season, taking Katie Lou Samuelson fourth and reconnecting her with former Huskies teammate Gabby Williams. Another UConn player went sixth, with Napheesa Collier headed to four-time WNBA champion Minnesota. The Lynx had a busy draft taking Shepard and Cierra Dillard of Buffalo in the second round. They also traded Natisha Hiedeman, whom they drafted 16th to Connecticut for Lexie Brown. They drafted Kenisha Bell of Minnesota in the third round. The Sparks took Baylor center Kalani Brown seventh. It has been a whirlwind 72 hours for the 6-foot-7 center as she helped Baylor win a national championship on Sunday. Australian Alanna Smith, who helped Stanford win the Pac-12 tournament title, was drafted eighth by Phoenix. Chinese sensation Han Xu was drafted 14th by the New York Liberty.
Chicago Sky Re-Sign Harper – Chicago Sky General Manager and Head Coach James Wade announced today the team has re-signed guard Linnae Harper. “I like Linnae’s toughness, I like her poise, I like the fact that in certain spots Linnae plays like a wise veteran,” Wade said. “We just want her to keep that going. Linnae brings the kind of energy and enthusiasm that coaches like in young players.” A Chicago native, Harper saw action in 24 games off the bench for the Sky in her rookie season. After going undrafted in the 2018 WNBA Draft, Harper originally joined her hometown team in April 2018 when she was invited to Sky training camp. Harper then earned herself a roster spot and finished the 2018 campaign with Chicago as the only undrafted free agent to complete a full season on a WNBA roster. This offseason, Harper competed in Israel for Ramat Hasharon, averaging 18.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 31 minutes per game. Prior to joining the Sky, Harper played two collegiate seasons at the University of Kentucky (2014-15) before transferring to Ohio State University, where she was selected as Big Ten’s Sixth Player of the Year (‘17) her junior year and an All-Big Ten Second Team (‘18) and Big Ten All-Defensive Team (‘18) selection as a senior.
Lynx’s More To Sit Out ’19, Focus On Ministry – Maya Moore announced Tuesday on The Players’ Tribune that she will not be playing in the WNBA this season, instead focusing on her family and “some ministry dreams that have been stirring in my heart for many years.” “There are different ways to measure success. The success that I’ve been a part of in basketball truly blows my mind every time I think about it. But the main way I measure success in life is something I don’t often get to emphasize explicitly through pro ball,” she wrote. “I measure success by asking, ‘Am I living out my purpose?’ I learned a long time ago that my purpose is to know Jesus and to make Him known.” Moore was given the franchise tag by the Minnesota Lynx last month, preventing her from becoming a free agent. Moore was the first overall pick in the 2011 draft. Since her arrival, the Lynx have made the playoffs every season, going to the WNBA Finals six times. The former UConn star was the WNBA rookie of the year in 2011, the league MVP in 2014 and a five-time All-Star. Her career average is 18.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists. The Lynx begin their season on May 25.
Mercury Fire Assistant Coach Troxel – Todd Troxel has been fired as Phoenix Mercury assistant coach after being charged with misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct. The Mercury announced in a statement Tuesday that Troxel was “relieved of his duties.” The team said it hired an outside firm to conduct an independent investigation into the Troxel incident. “We have determined that Troxel’s conduct on that night was unacceptable and does not represent our values as an organization, and we cannot continue his employment,” the Mercury said in their statement. “We recognize domestic violence as a significant problem, and we will continue our work with local organizations that support and protect victims and their families. Our league, our team, and our staff are committed to our mission of uplifting women, being an inclusive and safe space for all, and inspiring the next generation.” Paradise Valley prosecutors charged Troxel stemming from an altercation with his fiance at their home on Nov. 30. Previous reports show Troxel’s fiancée sustained a minor injury to one of her hands. One of Troxel’s hands had a more serious cut and he was treated at a nearby hospital. Celebrity news site TMZ.com reported that Troxel punched through glass during the encounter. Troxel, 41, has been a Mercury assistant coach for five seasons. He and Mercury head coach Sandy Brondello also were assistants with the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg.
WNBA 2019 Schedule Includes 16 ESPN Games – The WNBA announced its 2019 schedule Tuesday, and it includes 16 regular-season telecasts on ESPN networks. The WNBA opens on May 24 with two games: Indiana at New York and Dallas at Atlanta. The Dream announced Tuesday that they will return to refurbished State Farm Arena (previously called Philips Arena) in Atlanta this season after playing the past two years at Georgia Tech’s McCamish Pavilion. Coverage by ESPN networks begins on ABC on May 25, when defending champion Seattle hosts Phoenix at 3:30 p.m. ET. The Storm will play this season at University of Washington’s Alaska Airlines Arena while KeyArena is being refurbished. Also on May 25, last season’s runner-up, Washington, opens at Connecticut, and Chicago will open at four-time champion Minnesota. Then on May 26, Los Angeles and Las Vegas get their seasons started in Vegas. That city also will host the WNBA All-Star Game on July 27 at 3:30 ET on ABC. There will be two additional games on ABC: Los Angeles at Minnesota on June 8 at 3:30 p.m. ET, and Seattle at Connecticut on June 16, at 3:30 p.m. ET. In all, ESPN networks will broadcast two regular-season games in May, four in June, three in July plus the All-Star Game, five in August, and two in September. The entire 2019 WNBA schedule is available on the league’s website.