WNBA

Seattle's Breanna Stewart to weather the storm following ruptured Achilles

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Seattle's Breanna Stewart to weather the storm following ruptured Achilles

“M-V-P, M-V-P, M-V-P.”

Chants rung out through EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Virginia as WNBA basketball superstar Breanna Stewart held the championship trophy for the first time. The Seattle Storm had just completed a three-game sweep of the Washington Mystics in the WNBA Finals to secure their third title in franchise history.

But that was seven months ago.

The reigning league and finals MVP, who spent her WNBA offseason playing for Russia-based Dynamo Kursk, was injured Sunday playing in the EuroLeague Final Four Championship in Sopron, Hungry. Upon returning to the States, Stewart underwent an MRI which confirmed her worst fears.

The 24-year-old ruptured her right Achilles tendon and will miss the 2019 WNBA season.

"First off, I just want to thank you for the tremendous amount of love and support I've received over the past few days," Stewart said in her announcement on Twitter. "The situation is still a shock to me. ... This year especially has been amazing and filled with lots of success and as we all know there are highs and lows throughout a career."

This is just another obstacle that I will overcome. I'm thankful that I have so many people in my corner to help me every step of the way. I'm feeling every emotion possible at this point but just know that the bounce back will be real and I'll be back better than ever.

Stewart is expected to make a full recovery following surgery and could return to the court as early as the 2020 WNBA season. Rehabilitation from an Achilles injury takes an estimated nine months to a year.

Like many other female players in the WNBA, Stewart was playing overseas to maximize her income. In 2018, she made $56,793 in base salary with the Storm and earned bonuses of $15,000 for being named MVP, $11,025 for winning the WNBA title, $10,000 for being All-WNBA first team and $2,500 for being in the All-Star Game.

Since she was taken as the No. 1 pick in 2016, Stewart has played in 111 games in three WNBA seasons, averaging 20.0 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.6 blocks. She has missed only one game in her WNBA career. 

With Stewart out, the Storm are left to pick up the pieces. Just last week, Seattle drafted 6-foot-4 Australian forward Ezi Magbegor, who could have an increased workload with Stewart sidelined. Jewell Loyd, Natasha Howard and Sue Bird will be tasked with filling the void as the Storm looks to defend its title when the WNBA season opens on May 25.

Oregon's Maite Cazorla becomes fourth Duck taken in WNBA Draft

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Oregon's Maite Cazorla becomes fourth Duck taken in WNBA Draft

The clock struck 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday evening and Oregon women’s basketball guard Maite Cazorla waited patiently.  

She watched as the hands on the clock went round and round, minute by minute passing by. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.

Then, she heard her name. 

It was the Atlanta Dream and Cazorla, Oregon’s all-Pac-12 selection as a junior and senior, had been selected with the 11th pick of the second round of the WNBA Draft. For the senior from Las Palmas, Spain, it marked the end of an era at Oregon and the start of her professional career in the WNBA. 

"She has a real chance to be a factor in the league for a long time,” Ducks coach Kelly Graves said in an official release. “We're all pulling for her. Maite's a winner and the Dream fans are going to love her." 

Cazorla becomes just the fourth Duck in program history to be taken in the draft, alongside Jillian Alleyne, Amanda Johnson and Catherine Kraayeveld. No Duck has ever been drafted in the first round. 

Over four years, Cazorla averaged 9.7 points and 4.3 assists while shooting a career-high 49.6 percent from the field and 41.2 percent behind the arc. 

Cazorla helped lead the Ducks to a 113-35 record, the program’s best four-year record in program history. In her four years, Oregon made back-to-back trips to the Elite Eight, before advancing to its first-ever Final Four this season.

Despite defeat, newcomer Ducks are built to last

Despite defeat, newcomer Ducks are built to last

Oregon entered it’s first ever Final Four as the “unproven” new kid on the block and an 8.5-point underdog. UConn, Notre Dame and Baylor are Final Four perennial powerhouses and have won eight of the past 10 national titles. Before 2017, Oregon had never reached the Elite Eight.

The Ducks’ season ended in the national semifinals to Baylor, 72-67, in a gritty battle of contrast in styles that featured 12 ties and 12 lead changes. However, despite defeat, the back-to-back Pac-12 regular season champions proved that not only do they belong among the best in the nation, the Ducks are built to last.

To get to Tampa Bay, Oregon (33-5) broke through the Final Four barrier, in coach Kelly Graves’ fifth season, by upsetting two-time defending national runner up No. 1 seed Mississippi State in the Portland Regional.

[READ: Twitter reacts to Oregon’s 72-67 loss to Baylor in the Final Four]

Despite his pregame message to his team to “have fun," Graves had a plan against the Bears (36-1), who had a major size advantage over the Ducks.

In the first two quarters, Oregon was able to limit Baylor’s high-low game and attempts to hammer the ball deep in toward the basket to 20 points in the paint. The Ducks, the best 3-point shooting team in the country, leaned on their strength, making 8-of-17 (47 percent) from beyond the arc. 

Shockingly, guard Sabrina Ionescu and forward Ruthy Hebard did not score in the first quarter. Ionescu heated up in the second quarter to score 12 points, including a four-point play to send Oregon into the locker room with a 34-33 halftime lead.

The battle of the Bears’ size and the Ducks’ deep strokes was as good as advertised. In the first half alone, the tight game had five lead changes and five ties.

The Ducks opened the second half with a couple of made three-pointers, but Baylor answered with an 8-0 run to surge ahead 45-40. Both teams shined doing what they do best. Through three quarters, Oregon scored 30 points from three-pointers and Baylor scored 36 points in the paint. Baylor did not score a three-pointer in the game, attempting only three.

In the fourth quarter, the Ducks put on a pick-and-roll clinic before going cold at the wrong time.

Forward Satou Sabally tied the game with a clutch three-pointer with 1:20 left to play in the game. Oregon missed on the next possession and was forced to foul. Five days after making their last seven field-goal attempts to beat Mississippi State, the Ducks missed 11 of their last 12 from the floor, sealing the victory for Baylor to advance to the National Championship game.

Despite going 0-for-7 in the fourth quarter, Ionescu lead the team with 18 points. Sabally added 16 points and forward Erin Boley scored 14 points.

It was a tremendous game competed between two of the top programs and the Ducks are here to stay. Whether Ionescu declares for the WNBA Draft or returns for her senior season, the Oregon women’s basketball program has elevated it’s standard and discarded its newbie title among the nation’s elite. With two seniors graduating and a strong recruiting class, Graves has taken the Ducks to new heights and the countdown to next season is on.  

"We’ve got a lot coming back," Graves said. "This is gonna be a team that's loaded."

The Storm bring home the WNBA Championship

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The Storm bring home the WNBA Championship

A 16-year veteran. A 2018 WNBA MVP. And passionate city ready for another championship. The Seattle Storm, lead by all-star veteran Sue Bird and 2018 WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart, sweep the Washington Mystics in three games to take home the team's third WNBA championship. 

What started as a blowout Seattle victory in game one, turned into a different story in game two. The Mystics made adjustments and nearly pulled out a tough road win. But Seattle flew east for game three already up two wins with just one more to go. The rest is history and the parade is on for Sunday.

Many NBA players took the moment to congratulate the Storm on their championship:

Let's quickly look at the career of young 24-year-old Breanna Stewart. Since winning her first college national championship with dominant UCONN basketball, Stewart has known knothing but winning and winning big. She went on to claim four national titles at UCONN before being drafted No. 1 to Seattle in the 2016 WNBA draft. Two years later, she can now add 2018 WNBA champion as well as 2018 WNBA MVP and 2018 WNBA Finals MVP to her already very impressive resume.

What a career, so far, for one of the most creative passers, deadly shooters, and influential basketball players in Sue Bird. She is the oldest player in the WNBA, the all-time WNBA career assist leader, a 16-year veteran in the league, and now a three-time WNBA champion. Bird scored 14 points in the fourth quarter in just five minutes to round out a win in game one. A miraculous three-point shot with the shot clock winding down in game two to swing the momentum back in the Storm's favor. And one heck of a shoe game partnered with Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving. And she's not done yet.

What a tremendous season and congrats to the Seattle Storm on another WNBA Championship!

 

 

 

 

Kelsey Plum shows off rocket arm at Spurs game

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WNBA

Kelsey Plum shows off rocket arm at Spurs game

Kelsey Plum, the former Washington Huskies star guard and the number one overall pick in the 2017 WNBA Draft has quite the future… in the NFL(maybe).

Plum, who recently joined the San Antonio Stars of the WNBA, showed support for her new home when she showed up to a San Antonio Spurs playoff game. Now only did was she in attendance, but she help with the NBA arena ritual of throwing free t-shirts into the stands.

Anyone who has been to an NBA game knows two things: 1) Everyone wants one of those shirts. 2) Unless they are using the slingshot or a t-shirt cannon, the shirts probably aren’t getting past the first 10 rows.

Enter QB, we mean PG Plum. Plum did her best Uncle Rico impersonation and dang near threw the t-shirt over the mountains.

That is the definition of a rocket arm, a cannon, a bazooka, a rifle, or whatever other analogy you want to use to describe something that shoots a projectile really far, really fast.

Plum will most certainly set the WNBA on fire this season, she was the top pick for a reason, but if this basketball thing doesn’t work out there may be some other sports calling for her services.

Sydney Wiese taken 11th overall in WNBA Draft

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Sydney Wiese taken 11th overall in WNBA Draft

Sydney Wiese is trading in the small town of Corvallis for the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. The former Beavers star was selected by the Los Angeles Sparks with the 11th overall pick in the 2017 WNBA draft, becoming the highest ever selection for an Oregon State player.

Wiese had quite the career at Oregon State, setting the Pac-12 record for career three pointers made (373), was named to the Pac-12 all-conference team four times, and helped lead the team to its first ever Final Four appearance in 2016. That 2016 team also won the Pac-12 Tournament for the first time in program history.

In her final season at OSU Wiese averaged 15.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game, and was a finalist for the Naismith Award given to the national player of the year. For her career, Wiese averaged 13.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game. When it was all said and done Wiese finished her career with 626 assists, a program record, and 1,824 points, good for fifth al-time in OSU history.

Wiese becomes the third former Beaver currently in the WNBA, joining Ruth Hamblin (18th overall pick in 2016 by the Dallas Wings) and Jamie Weisner (17th overall pick in the 2016 by the Connecticut Sun).

In a press release prepared by the Sparks, Executive Vice President and General Manager Penny Toler, and Head Caoch Brian Agler had high praise for Wiese. “Sydney is one of the best point guards in the country,” said Toler. “She is a very good passer, penetrator, and three-point shooter that has shown that she can affect the outcome of a game be either her scoring or passing ability.  She will be a great addition to our team now and for years to come.”

 “We are excited to get Sydney as a part of our team,” said Agler, “We like her ability to play the point guard spot, shoot the three-point spot and distribute to her All-WNBA teammates.” 

The Sparks open up the WNBA regular season on May 13  with a home matchup against the Seattle Storm.