Your Day in Women’s Basketball, July 21: Players enthusiastic days before tip-off

Fever, Aces, Mercury talk to media ahead of the weekend’s season-opener

Despite missing the 2019 season, Victoria Vivians hasn’t missed a beat. And the Fever need that.

This season will have an overloaded middle class and plenty of question marks that go unanswered. So to add a player in top form could launch the Fever into their first playoff appearance since 2016.

“I have great energy coming in — like, I never have like a day where I’m just bad,” Vivians said. “If I’m making shots, great. If I’m missing, I’m still shooting until I make them. So I feel like with the tone-setting, I don’t care if I miss shots, basically. So I guess I set the tone that way. I’m gonna keep shooting.”

As a rookie, Vivians proved to be a budding talent with a sweet shooting stroke and a consistent scoring mentality on the court. Expect Vivians and Teaira McCowan to provide much of the floor spacing for the Fever, who were the second-worst shooting team in 2019.

A vlogging craze is hitting the WNBA, and it’s giving us the type of access we previously only dreamed of. In the thick of it all stands Washington Mystics’ guard Aerial Powers, the people’s champion, who has posted “Day in the life” vlogs for all her adoring fans.

Powers and her girlfriend, AzuréRae, have put a spotlight COVID tests, esports, teammate tribunals, as well as tape of the team’s first practice in the bubble. But the people have one demand that trumps the rest: Get Thibault on the vlog. #ThibaultTime.

The Atlanta Dream held their first scrimmage this past weekend against the Mystics, and the squad was… pleasantly surprised with their progress!

Sure, part of Atlanta’s glee lay in its mere ability to scrimmage, as the Dream brought just 9 players to the Florida bubble. But the team was also ecstatic with the performance of forwarding Monique Billings, who may progress from a raw athletic talent into a real contributing piece.

The Dream aren’t expected to compete this season, but strides from Billings and first-round pick Chennedy Carter could keep Atlanta in the playoff hunt.

Aces star Kayla McBride is also back in the bubble and has shared plenty about her battles on and off the court over the past few months. Recently, she has acknowledged her struggles with anxiety, and how that ties into her year-round basketball schedule. McBride took a well-earned break from basketball during the pandemic and now hopes to take the Aces to their first title appearance since 2008 when the team was in San Antonio.

On the Player’s Tribune, Aces A’ja Wilson posted a poignant piece titled “Dear Black Girls,” unapologetically opening up about her childhood in South Carolina, relationship with South Carolina coach Dawn Staley, and the humanity that all Black women deserve.

In sports media news, Chiney Ogwumike will use her time away from the WNBA this year hosting a daily ESPN radio show with Mike Golic Jr. The pair used to work together at 5 a.m. and will enjoy the overhauled 4-7 p.m. schedule.

Britney Griner told the media that she and Sparks forward Kristine Anigwe have patched up their relationship ahead of their opening matchup on Saturday. The comments come after both players were ejected and suspended for a scuffle last season. It’s hard to be anti-beef, but this is for the best. Probably.

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