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The WNBA: Yes, It Still Exists


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#1

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Posted May 19, 2007 @ 9:42 AM

The WNBA starts back up on ABC today with a rematch of last year's finals - the Sacramento Monarchs VS the Detroit Shock at 3:30 E.S.T.. In recent years, the league has added a new team - the Chicago Sky. Here are the current divisions:

Eastern Division:

Chicago Sky
Connecticut Sun
Detroit Shock
Indiana Fever
New York Liberty
Washington Mystics

Western Division:

Houston Comets
Los Angeles Sparks
Minnesota Lynx
Phoenix Mercury
Sacramento Monarchs
San Antonio Silver Stars
Seattle Storm

Also, here's a great ESPN feature on Diana Taurasi & recently re-signed Sue Bird going overseas to play, to make money.
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#2

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Posted May 19, 2007 @ 8:29 PM

And should you ever see the name 'Nancy Lieberman' near your television set or an article on ESPN.com, run, and run fast.

In other news, I'd be happy to talk about the WNBA and its coverage here for posts on end, but I fear there won't be many people joining in. If anyone's interested and doesn't know, you can watch all the games that are on NBATV via the website for free. The list of available games is here. It didn't always work perfectly last season, but I'm told it was operational for the Connecticut-Washington game earlier today.
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#3

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Posted May 19, 2007 @ 10:21 PM

Nolan (Detroit) is great. She's just got that bounce, man. And I could have sworn Lawson (Sacramento) retired? She's back and she definitely lost some weight. Ticha Penicero, god bless her, that woman couldn't hit a jump shot to save her life.

Oh she could dribble the ball between all 5 defenders and throw a behind the back pass, sure. But when she shoots, she just knows it's not going in.

Okay, now, somebody explain this to me. You are Detroit. You win the WNBA championship in 2006. Uh...how do you get Ivory freakin' Latta the next season?!! I was only half paying attention and tuned back in at the end of the game, and what do you know - old wide eyes out there looking like a kid playing with grown-ups. How in the world did that happen?!

I bet the San Antonio Silver Stars (who perennially suck, apparently) are none too pleased.
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#4

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Posted May 19, 2007 @ 10:48 PM

The Silver Stars, like nearly every other team in the league, passed on Latta, and she fell to the 11th pick in the first round. I don't think Laimbeer even really wanted to waste his time drafting anyone that late, then Latta fell to him and he happily snapped her up.

The Silver Stars packaged their first round pick (center Jessica Davenport) to get Becky Hammon in a trade from New York.

Oh, and I love Ticha. Yes she isn't the greatest shooter the world has ever seen, but the girl can flat out run a team. Truly a pure point guard.
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#5

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Posted May 20, 2007 @ 12:50 AM

Ah, okay, thanks. I had no idea she dropped like that. Maybe it's her size.

I love Ticha too. It started when she was at ODU doing things I couldn't even do. I love the Monarchs just because she's on the team. Lawson's awesome and Yolanda "older than dirt" Griffith is cool, even though she's in Gary Payton territory it seems.

Other than that, I adore Sue Bird. I just hope the league hangs around long enough to get going really well. There were plenty of empty seats in Detroit on Saturday. Kind of weak for the defending champs.
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#6

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Posted May 20, 2007 @ 5:52 PM

I have a horrible feeling this is turning into a two-person thread... ;)

Anyway, I watched Phoenix-San Antonio last night (via webcast - so that one worked at least). Good win for Phoenix but SASS are kind of a mess with all their new players, lack of a true point guard and gaping hole at small forward (they have quick guards and decent bigs, but nothing in between, so the likes of Taurasi, Taylor, Mazzante etc. ripped them to bits).

Part of Detroit's problem with the arena looking a bit empty is that they play at the Palace of Auburn Hills (where the Pistons play), so the place is huge. Some of the other teams sell fewer tickets but the arena looks fuller because they play in tighter, more compact venues.
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#7

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Posted May 20, 2007 @ 10:52 PM

True. I do remember them talking about how ridiculously poor the attendance at games was. Then of course there was the whole fiasco with them locking out the WNBA from playoff games because of the American Idol finale, which I thought was just complete nonsense (as in screw American Idol).
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#8

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Posted May 21, 2007 @ 11:01 AM

Okay, I'll make three then. I read that article too Doom. Loved Taurasi's quote about getting handed straight cash after a win: "He's a legend." Plus, the Russian drinking bit.

Part of Detroit's problem with the arena looking a bit empty is that they play at the Palace of Auburn Hills (where the Pistons play), so the place is huge. Some of the other teams sell fewer tickets but the arena looks fuller because they play in tighter, more compact venues.

Yeah, that's one of main reasons I was hoping for a Monarchs repeat last year. (That and I just really love their team.) Sac has actual fans that sell out the place and truly care so I wanted to see them rewarded with back to back championships. Unlike the Palace, Arco would have been rocking Saturday. But Detroit got under their skins with all their bitching, complaining and general all purpose drama and that was that. Oh and Nolan is pretty much unstoppable when she decides to be aggressive; too bad for the Monarchs she decided to be aggressive during that series.

Ah, okay, thanks. I had no idea she dropped like that. Maybe it's her size.

I'm not sure it was all about size. I think she just didn't have a good year. Being injured was part of it, but I also think her poor decision making was exposed too. Plus, she's a complete drama queen... so I guess she'll fit in great with the Shock. Perfect fit really.

I love Ticha too. It started when she was at ODU doing things I couldn't even do. I love the Monarchs just because she's on the team. Lawson's awesome and Yolanda "older than dirt" Griffith is cool, even though she's in Gary Payton territory it seems.

Yeah, it's hard not to love Ticha. Over plucked eyebrows and all. Believe me I've tried; it took me years to get over how she absolutely dominated that '97 Final Four game. Gah. For some reason she could shoot just fine then. But Lawson and Powell are just so clutch, I love that team. Hopefully they can get it together with Boucek. (BTW awful outfit on Saturday, but she recovered nicely for the NBATV game Sunday.)

Edited by pokey camp, May 21, 2007 @ 11:08 AM.

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#9

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Posted May 21, 2007 @ 12:15 PM

I'll try to make it four, but it'll be tough. My viewership has waned in the past few years.

I just hope the league hangs around long enough to get going really well.

It's already been 10+ years; is it going to take 20? I really wish I knew what goes on in TPTB heads as far as the WNBA is concerned. They're not even treated like second class citizens.
  • The Cleveland Rockers had a decent fan base... then, all of a sudden they're disbanded - why? So the Cavs could get LeBron, new team colors, and re-do the arena floor and seats? Maybe the decision had nothing to do with LeBron, but the two will always be linked in my mind.
  • And while I love that WNBA players are made available after games for autographs and photo ops, what's up with interviewing players during the game? (A player on the bench for a rest was interviewed during a game this weekend.) That would never happen in the NBA.
The league doesn't get any respect... if it hasn't gained the respect it deserves in 10+ years, what hope is there, really? It just seems like a summer-long, televised olympic team tryout or something.

(Man, I didn't know how bitter I was until I typed that all out.)

Edited by ajra, May 21, 2007 @ 12:17 PM.

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#10

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Posted May 21, 2007 @ 1:02 PM

The league doesn't get any respect... if it hasn't gained the respect it deserves in 10+ years, what hope is there, really? It just seems like a summer-long, televised olympic team tryout or something.

Yeah. Another option for this thread title could be: The WNBA: Your Favorite Part-Time Job. (The article Doom linked pretty much spells that one out.)

I know it seems like a lot, but really 10+ years isn't that long wrt establishing a league. If you look at the big three major leagues, even though they had an obvious advantage in terms of less competition for attention and being played by men, they all took a hell of a lot longer than 10 years to gain any traction; MLB, NFL and especially the NBA. Hope that helps ease the bitterness.

And funny you should mention the Rockers, NBATV just re-ran a special on Suzie McConnell Serio. Man, I kind of miss that old school pony tail plus bangs look. Thank goodness the Miller twins are still around.
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#11

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Posted May 21, 2007 @ 2:57 PM

I believe the main reason that the Rockers were disbanded is that Gordon Gund (former owner) is an asshole and screwed them over. There are plenty of people still bitter about that one.

The league needs to find a way to keep the Storm in Seattle though (even if the Sonics leave). That's another very well supported franchise that the league can't really afford to let disappear/relocate.

Good to see other people joining in with Doom and me ;).
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#12

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Posted May 21, 2007 @ 5:10 PM

Good ol' Suzie. She had all those kids and she could ball. I would have loved it if my mom was ball player.
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#13

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Posted May 21, 2007 @ 10:37 PM

Wow, what was I thinking. For some reason I thought Kara Lawson had been in the league for a long, long time. This is only her 4th or 5th year. And Ticha has been in for what, 10 years now - longer than Yolanda Griffith. I don't know how I got that confused.

I totally agree that they're treated like second class citizens. It's awful. They'll be in the post-season and ESPN sometimes won't even show the highlights until like 35 minutes into sportscenter.

They really do need to get better marketing. This "have you seen her" stuff kinda went out a while back. I think the in-game interviews were an attempt to try to give viewers something they couldn't get in the NBA. Like trying to figure out what unique content they can generate.

That's where I think Ivory Latta (drama and all) can help. Basketball is about personalities. Either team or individual. I couldn't half remember what team Latta was on last year - there'd be a Maryland VS Duke game on and I'd be wondering where she was.

...But I was wondering where she was. Those looks, that passion, her constant yapping - it made you want to watch her. Watch her succeed, watch her fail, watch her sweat, watch her scream.

You know what, it's kind of like she was bucking the whole patriarchal system that has women being passive and deferring. She's loud, she's concerned about herself. She's not selfish to the point of being annoying or arrogant to the point of it being a turn-off. She's just really passionate. And while she did keep (or was it the media) referring to wanting to be Allen Iverson-like, it was still enthralling to see her out there.

I think one of the biggest problems the league has is the play inside on a loose ball. The guard play is often phenomenal, that's fine. But get a loose ball on the inside - even just a mishandled rebound, and time seems to grind to a halt. The players kind of half fight for it and the perimeter players just stand and watch. It's like the forwards and centers are stuck in sludge. Things go in slow motion.

I don't know what to do to fix that, but that's one of the major drawbacks to me. Of course there's the dunking issue, but a lady from Tennessee is on her way to solve that pretty soon.
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#14

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Posted May 22, 2007 @ 10:42 AM

I totally agree that they're treated like second class citizens. It's awful. They'll be in the post-season and ESPN sometimes won't even show the highlights until like 35 minutes into sportscenter.

Heck, when Detroit went from worst to first and won the finals, the next day, nothing WNBA related was anywhere to be found on the front page of Sports Illustrated's website (sportsillustrated.cnn.com). That's pretty sad.

As a matter of fact, go there right now. "WNBA" in not on one of the tabs across the top of the page. And when you mouse over "More", it's not in that list either. "High School" has a tab, people. And in the "Scores" list, it's number 5 - under NFL and College Football who don't even play in May. That's more than sad.

Of course there's the dunking issue

Oh, don't get me started on that - Lisa Leslie got the first WNBA dunk in 2002?!!??!!? No one thought to dunk before 2002? None of these women dunked in college? It just happened to be during a nationally televised game... and it just happened to be done by Lisa? That whole thing just burns me up.
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#15

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Posted May 23, 2007 @ 7:51 PM

The Seattle-Phoenix game tonight (10 EST) has been added to the NBATV schedule (and hence the webcast schedule as well) if anyone's interested. Should be a pretty good game.
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#16

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Posted May 23, 2007 @ 9:26 PM

I went ahead and bought season tickets for the Mystics and was at the game last night against Sacramento. I thought the Mystics might actually win if they kept up their 1st half play, but then they went totally cold on offense, stopped rebounding, and just generally played like they'd never been on the court together before. Brutal.

I think the game was shown on ESPN2, so did anyone see any of it? I really wish teams would focus on filling the lower sections instead of selling tickets all over the arena. One of the main sections across from the visiting team's bench was nearly empty, which had to look horrible on TV. Despite the relatively small crowd, people were still enthusiastic and actually got pretty loud.

For my money, the entertainment can't be beat.
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#17

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Posted May 24, 2007 @ 10:32 PM

I forgot about it, then remembered. Then when I flipped it over there, it had already gone off and I was looking at some random bald dude.
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#18

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Posted May 27, 2007 @ 10:16 PM

I'll join you guys. I wasn't a women's basketball fan at all until I came to the states to the east coast for university and caught Husky fever. I think the main reasons the league hasn't caught on is a) the play can be painful at times, probably due to the shortened seasons and the players' resultant unfamiliarity with one another and b) most people still think only lesbians are interested. If the owners were more invested, and didn't just view WNBA teams as tag-alongs to their NBA franchises, the league would be much better off. The trend towards independent ownership in WA, Houston, and especially Conn is encouraging, but if the Seattle team is relocated, it will be a huge blow to the league as that team enjoys the best media coverage by far, and are among the best fan-supported teams.

Enough with my ramblings, all I really care about is Diana Taurasi. I will watch any game she plays in, even if it's a handicap match, pitting her against 10 dwarves. She is an amazing freak. I hope Phoenix finally manages to get into the playoffs this year because people need to see this team play. Seattle, with Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird, is cool too, but I can't figure out some of Anne Donovan's moves. Why on earth did she cut Barbara Turner in favour of Shyra Ely? Anyway, let's hope the Phoenix/Conn game next week is decent because the last two ABC broadcasts have been duds.

Speaking about broadcasts, I almost forgot to mention my what a disaster most of the "experts" are, particularly that half-wit Nancy Lieberman. Rebecca Lobo and Doris Burke are the only two I can stand. Rebecca is plain funny and Doris seems like she knows what she's talking about half of the time.

One more thing, when are TPTB going to realise mic-ing Bill Laimbeer is a crap idea. He is an abusive bully who doesn't do anything but whine about the refs. If they mic anyone, it should obviously be Taurasi. ;)

Edited by pmiller5, May 27, 2007 @ 10:22 PM.

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#19

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Posted May 28, 2007 @ 12:57 AM

Oh absolutely, micing the coaches is an idiotic idea. Well, micing the coaches and leaving the mics on during play is an idiotic idea, anyway. They need to use it like the NFL - mic them up, then piece together the footage into a package for half-time, post-game, or a feature item the next week. It's a disaster at the minute.

Putting a mic on DT would be dangerous though - from what I hear once they bleeped out the words they're not allowed to broadcast there wouldn't be much left ;). There was a lovely moment in the Phoenix-Seattle game last week when the refs called a travel on Lauren Jackson in the paint and Taurasi came charging over and started shouting trash in LJ's face. She kept it up as long as she could until they both dissolved into peals of laughter. Bird, Taurasi and LJ are great mates and the whole game was played in a fantastic spirit even though the Mercury were getting their asses kicked.

As for the coverage, I think I suggested in my first post to immediately run away as soon as you see the name Nancy Lieberman anywhere near anything. She's an idiot, and her 'articles' at ESPN.com are riddled with factual errors even once you ignore the opinion elements. The difference between her stuff and Mechelle Voepel's on the same site is huge.
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#20

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Posted May 28, 2007 @ 10:01 AM

I'm glad ESPN(2) at least committed to showing Tuesday & Saturday games at a minimum. I don't recall that in years past, though perhaps I just didn't notice.
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#21

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Posted May 29, 2007 @ 5:44 PM

I think I suggested in my first post to immediately run away as soon as you see the name Nancy Lieberman anywhere near anything. She's an idiot, and her 'articles' at ESPN.com are riddled with factual errors even once you ignore the opinion elements. The difference between her stuff and Mechelle Voepel's on the same site is huge.


So much word - Lieberman is the absolute worst and I can't take anything she says seriously in print OR on air. I love me some Mechelle Voepel, though.

Edited by toons, May 30, 2007 @ 5:44 PM.

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#22

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Posted May 29, 2007 @ 9:50 PM

Well how quaint. I finally get a chance to watch a Taurasi game, and she loses her head and is ejected before the 1st quarter ends. Did anyone watch the game? That was hardly a flagrant, what a crap call, but expected from these awful refs. I don't think I've ever actually seen a woman ejected.

ETA I just watched the replay, and she did make contact with Lawson's head, so yeah, I guess she deserved the flagrant, but I'm still pissed she was tossed. If Laimbeer can get away with everything he says, I can't imagine what Taurasi said to warrant an ejection.

Edited by pmiller5, May 29, 2007 @ 9:59 PM.

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#23

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Posted May 29, 2007 @ 11:21 PM

Told you that mic-ing up Taurasi would've been dangerous ;).

I only saw the second half so still haven't seen the foul, but I hope you stuck around for the rest of the game - Phoenix woke up after DT got tossed and it ended up in a heck of a finish.
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#24

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Posted May 30, 2007 @ 6:46 PM

Told you that mic-ing up Taurasi would've been dangerous ;).

Yeah, but it would be ratings gold! I did catch all of the game, and it was really exciting, particularly the end. Due to some horrible coincidence, the good games are never picked up on network.

In other news, Houston lost to SA, and remain winless. I guess SA is finally a legit playoff contender.
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#25

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Posted May 31, 2007 @ 2:03 PM

The Monarchs just killed me. I caught the fourth quarter. All of those turnovers. Not scoring with 10 seconds left on the clock? Gah. Phoenix just killed them by preventing the inside passing. Gotta give them credit for coming back & just frustrating the Monarchs with the D.
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#26

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Posted Jun 3, 2007 @ 5:24 PM

In contrast to the ABC game yesterday, the Liberty/Mercury match today was incredible. I'm really impressed with NY, with the Hammon trade, I chalked this year up to a rebuilding one. Taurasi disappeared in the 4th quarter after starting hot. Someone needs to tell her coach that the last shot goes to #3. Always.
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#27

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Posted Jul 11, 2007 @ 12:28 PM

I stayed up late last night to see the results of the Storm-Sparks game on the news and the idiot sportscaster didn't even mention it. Blah, blah Ichiro (who is a great player), blah blah men's basketball, but not a WORD about the Storm. The frickin' paper doesn't even have a link for the Storm on their website - you have to click and click and click again to get to them.

Washington has two women senators and a woman governor - not to mention one of the greatest WNBA players in Lauren Jackson - you'd think we'd get a clue.
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#28

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Posted Jul 11, 2007 @ 5:15 PM

Seattle actually has some of the best local coverage in the league (although that may say more about the others than about Storm coverage itself). Jayda Evans of the Seattle Times is a dedicated Storm beat writer and writes a blog on the Storm that's updated at least once a day, and the Post-Intelligencer covers them as well. Hopefully Seattle can keep the Storm even if they lose the Sonics, because it's one of the best markets that the WNBA has.
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#29

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Posted Jul 15, 2007 @ 7:17 AM

The WNBA All-Star game is today at 3:30 Eastern on ABC. I haven't been catching many games - anybody know how Ivory Lata is doing?
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#30

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Posted Jul 15, 2007 @ 2:24 PM

Latta's been doing alright when she gets on the floor, but to be honest Detroit is so deep that she's barely played. Her defence really isn't good enough yet to get consistent minutes for the Shock, so she mostly gets on the floor for the last play of a period as an extra shooter or in garbage time.

Her fellow rookie Lindsey Harding tore her ACL a couple of days ago and is out for the rest of the year, by the way (after so far being one of the leading candidates for rookie of the year).
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