The Lynx and Liberty make staff moves, the Sky sign a guard, and the WNBA finally sets a draft date.
March is an exciting month to be a sports fan, specifically in the world of women’s basketball. While college teams across the country fight to play another day in the postseason, the WNBA and its teams are getting ready for another season of their own with the draft now – officially – less than a month away.
Here’s some news you might have missed from the pros.
Lynx add veteran Plenette Pierson to coaching staff
Minnesota Lynx head coach/general manager Cheryl Reeve didn’t have to look far to fill her coaching staff after James Wade left to become the leader of the Chicago Sky. Last week, the team announced that former WNBA star Plenette Pierson would rejoin the Lynx, this time as an assistant coach. In addition to her duties on the sidelines, Pierson will work with the team’s player development, talent evaluation, and scouting areas.
“Plenette has a bright future as a coach and I’m really excited to have her back with the Lynx,” Reeve said in a statement. “As a player, Plenette demonstrated a strong understanding of the game and the ability to connect with players.”
Pierson retired from the WNBA in 2017 after 15 seasons with four franchises including the Lynx and the now-defunct Detroit Shock, where she won WNBA titles in 2006 and 2008 with then-assistant coach Reeve. Pierson took to Twitter to say her thanks:
Current Lynx player Karima Christmas-Kelly showed her support as well:
The team also promoted current assistant coach Walt Hopkins to a full-time assistant coaching position. He has been a part of Reeve’s coaching staff since 2017 after serving as the Player Development Coach for the now-defunct Tulsa Shock in 2013. The Lynx say Hopkins will spend his first season at the front of the bench in 2019.
“Walt was a great addition to our team two years ago,” Reeve said. “I appreciate the tremendous work he has done with our players during that time and look forward to his expanded role with our team.”
Hopkins and Pierson will join current assistant coach Shelley Patterson on Reeve’s coaching staff for the 2019 season, which begins with a home matchup against the aforementioned Sky on May 25.
Liberty name Jonathan Kolb new GM
Things seem to be looking up for the New York Liberty after a tumultuous 2018. Weeks after naming Joe Tsai as the new owner of the franchise, the team announced the hire of Jonathan Kolb as its new general manager. Kolb joins the Liberty after five years in the WNBA league office, where he most recently oversaw management of rosters and salary caps as the Director of Basketball Strategy and Analytics.
“We are thrilled to welcome Jonathan to the NY Liberty as the team’s new General Manager,” Liberty alternate governor Oliver P. Weisberg said in a statement from the team. “His basketball IQ, passion, and development ideas illustrate why he will be successful in this role and help lead the team into its next chapter of success.”
“I am both excited and honored to be joining such an iconic franchise where we will be relentless in our efforts to deliver a WNBA championship to New York,” Kolb added.
Kolb graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Justice Studies, Business, and Political Science. He will work with Liberty second-year head coach Katie Smith and her staff. New York’s 2019 season begins on May 24 with a home match against Indiana.
Sky add guard depth with Hind Ben Abdelkader
The Chicago Sky announced Monday that they have signed guard Hind Ben Abdelkader, adding more guard depth to an already-stacked spot in the roster. But head coach/general manager James Wade believes she can bring a boost of energy to the team.
“One thing that attracts me about Hind is that she can spread the floor and she has an aggressive rhythm, which is a nice change,” he said in a statement.
Ben Abdelkader played in 14 games for Indiana last season, where she averaged 2.1 points and one rebound before being released in July. However, she is currently playing some stellar ball overseas, averaging 19.2 points and shooting 92.7% from the free throw line with Hatay (Turkish League).
Training camp opens for the Sky and the rest of the WNBA on May 5.
The WNBA Draft is officially set for April 10, officially
Today the WNBA made official what many have known for weeks – the 2019 draft will be held on Wednesday, April 10, at the Nike NYHQ in New York City. The league announced that fans will be able to watch the first round of the draft on ESPN2 (7 p.m. ET) and the remaining two rounds on ESPNU (8 p.m. ET).
High Post Hoops first reported the date in January after then-Indiana COO Julie Graue told Fox Sports Indiana that the draft was to happen April 10. She has since been replaced.
The Las Vegas Aces have the top pick in the draft for the third year in a row after they won the Draft Lottery in August despite just missing the playoffs in 2018. New York, Indiana, and Chicago will pick second, third, and fourth, respectively. The rest of the lineup is below, along with where each team finished last season and any relevant trades from the league:
1. Las Vegas (14-20)
2. New York (7-27)
3. Indiana (6-28)
4. Chicago (13-21)
5. Dallas (15-19)
6. Minnesota (18-16)
7. Los Angeles (19-15)
8. Phoenix (20-14)
9. Connecticut (21-13)
10. Washington (22-12)
11. Atlanta (23-11)
12. Seattle (26-8)
1/13. Phoenix from Indiana (6-28) via Las Vegas (Bone, 2/2/18) (Alexander, 2/1/18)
2/14. New York (7-27)
3/15. Chicago (13-21)
4/16. Minnesota from Las Vegas (14-20) (Park, Lawrence, Barta, 4/12/18)
5/17. Dallas (15-19)
6/18. Minnesota (18-16)
7/19. Los Angeles (19-15)
8/20. Minnesota from Phoenix (20-14) (Robinson, 3/6/18)
9/21. Connecticut from Connecticut (21-13) via Atlanta (B. Holmes, 4/12/18) (Clarendon, Bentley, 7/9/18)
10/22. Dallas from Washington (22-12) (Hill, Powers, 7/23/18)
11/23. Atlanta (23-11)
12/24. Seattle (26-8)
1/25. Indiana (6-28)
2/26. New York (7-27)
3/27. Chicago (13-21)
4/28. Indiana from Las Vegas (14-20) (Alexander, 2/1/18)
5/29. Dallas (15-19)
6/30. Minnesota (18-16)
7/31. Los Angeles (19-15)
8/32. Phoenix (20-14)
9/33. Connecticut (21-13)
10/34. Washington (22-12)
11/35. Atlanta (23-11)
12/36. Seattle (26-8)
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