Diana Taurasi Reports to Training Camp, Regular Season Looms
Diana Taurasi returns to action in the WNBA.
The preseason will be wrapping up soon in the WNBA with regular season games scheduled to start this weekend. The favorites to win the WNBA title this season are the Phoenix Mercury (source: Stan James) and they will be opening their season on Saturday with a game against the second favorites and defending champions, the Minnesota Lynx. The game will be televised on ESPN (start time 7:30pm ET) as both teams look to start the season with a big win.
Phoenix feature a very dangerous one-two scoring punch in Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner. Taurasi, an 11-year veteran out of UCONN, has a career scoring average of 20.1 points per game. Griner, who is far less experienced, has still posted very solid numbers in her three years out of Baylor. The 6’9″ center has career averages of 14.5 points per game and 7.5 boards per game.
Neither player appeared in either of the Mercury’s preseason games however a recent article at the Mercury’s website indicated that Taurasi, who is “fresh off EuroLeague and Russian League championships,” “will report to training camp” on Monday, May 9th. The city of Phoenix certainly appears to be laying the red carpet out for the returning star, with a banner featuring her image draped from city hall. Her and Griner have both been named to the USA Olympic team in Rio, the games to be played this summer.
Minnesota’s point guard Lindsay Whalen has also been named to the American Olympic team, something she called “a huge honor” in a media-day interview on May 3rd. The Olympics will actually interrupt the 2016 WNBA season this year as they take place in August, effectively mid-season. Whalen spoke to the challenges of having that happen and said that it would be “a month of really intense basketball.”
While Minnesota have multiple WNBA championships in recent seasons, they have yet to repeat as champions. That is something that they will be looking to do, although the Mercury are considered the favorites in the 12-team league. Saturday’s game will come from the Target Center in Minneapolis, giving the Lynx the home-court advantage and a chance to gain some early-season confidence.
The game will be part of the kickoff for the 20th season of the WNBA. Multiple teams will be in action that night with the Dallas Wings vs. the Indiana Fever (6pm ET), the New York Liberty vs. the Washington Mystics (7pm ET), the Connecticut Sun vs. the Chicago Sky (8pm ET), and the Atlanta Dream vs. the San Antonio Stars. However, only the Mercury/Lynx game is scheduled for ESPN coverage. Sunday’s action will feature WNBA number 1 draft pick, Breanna Stewart’s, pro debut for the Seattle Storm. The Storm take on the LA Sparks in Los Angeles at 5pm ET.