On May 14, the historic 20th season of the WNBA will tip-off. It will be a monumental day for the league as it embarks on a new chapter in the hopes that the next 20 years will bring the women’s game to an even greater audience. Before the bright lights of opening night shine, however, teams must put in the necessary work in their respective training camps to ensure their shot at a WNBA championship.
For the defending champion Minnesota Lynx, that means making sure that former All-Star guard Jia Perkins doesn’t miss a step when assimilating with a talent-rich roster that has all the makings of competing for another championship.
For a team like the Phoenix Mercury, that means welcoming legendary guard Diana Taurasi back into the fold with the hopes that she can propel the team to the next level.
For a squad like the San Antonio Stars, that means starting a push towards success with 2nd overall pick Moriah Jefferson at the helm.
Above all else, it’s a clean slate. 2015 is in the rear view mirror while 2016 is dead-ahead. Ask any coach, training camp is where the real work gets put in. The regular season and if you’re lucky enough, postseason, is just the product of all the hard work you put in when the cameras aren’t around. For the 12 WNBA franchises, these next few weeks are the first steps to potentially being crowned 2016 champions. Check out what’s going on inside a few of the teams’ training camps to see how they get setup for success this season.
StormBasketball.com: Highlights From Day 1 of Training Camp
The Storm opened training camp on April 24th. This year’s roster features three No. 1 overall picks in Sue Bird, Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart. Take a behind-the-scenes look at the first day of camp.
FeverBasketball.com: Fever Gear Up For Training Camp
— Kelly Krauskopf (@FeverPrez) April 24, 2016
By the time the final buzzer sounded, the game was already in hand — the Lynx were going to win the WNBA Championship. The Fever had fought off the seasoned Lynx and several other teams along the way for their magical playoff run that pushed the Finals to a fifth and deciding game. And while few expected the Fever to even escape the Eastern Conference, they came within one game of the ultimate prize.
On Sunday afternoon, the Indiana Fever will open up the next chapter in their quest for a second championship by kicking off their 2016 training camp.
The pressure to win this year is magnified by it being the final run for Tamika Catchings, who will retire at the conclusion of the season. Catchings, who is entering her 16th active season, still has more than enough in the tank to help propel Indiana on another title run, and over the offseason, the Fever loaded up with help to put Indiana over the top.
SportsBlog.com: Tamika Catchings Writes About Her “Last First Day”
As I laid in bed this morning I couldn’t go back to sleep. This is officially my final “First Day” of training camp. It’s crazy to think of the emotions that swirled through my head the first time I watched a WNBA game, to the that night I got drafted, then the first time I set foot in Indianapolis, the first time that I got announced on the court after sitting out the first year… the first time I scored, the first time I won an award… just so many firsts and even more memories.
NYLiberty.com: 2016 Liberty Training Camp Is Underway
New York Liberty 2016 Training Camp presented by Blueprint for Athletes officially got underway on Sunday morning at MSG Training Center with the first of two practices on the first official day of the year for the Liberty.
There are 15 players in camp to start the season, with Tanisha Wright and Lindsey Harding slated to report later in the preseason. Wright recently wrapped up an Israeli League championship with her club team Maccabi Ashdod, while Harding concludes a stint playing for Dynamo Kursk in Russia.
Amongst the 15 players in camp, seven are rookies, including a pair of draft picks in Adut Bulgak and Ameryst Alston, along with Danielle Ballard (LSU/Finland), Talia Caldwell (Cal), Elin Eldebrink (Sweden), Alisia Jenkins (USF), and Annie Tarakchian (Princeton).
NYLiberty.com: Watch The Liberty’s First Practice of 2016
— New York Liberty (@nyliberty) April 24, 2016
StormBasketball.com: Breanna Stewart Lucky To Have Familiar Group of Teammates in Seattle
— Seattle Storm (@seattlestorm) April 24, 2016
Breanna Stewart had spent about 10 waking hours in Seattle before she was presented to Storm fans at KeyArena on Thursday. She flew in Wednesday night, and the next day she was answering questions about her knowledge of the Northwest and the keys to preparing for her first season in the WNBA. She donned the new Storm jersey, signed autographs and took pictures with fans.
She may have never been to Seattle before this week, but Stewart is certainly familiar with her new group of teammates. That includes the player she stood next to at Thursday’s event.
“If someone comes from behind to steal the ball, our associate head coach would call it the ‘Sue Bird move,’” Stewart said, referring to her four years at the University of Connecticut. “We’d hear that once every practice.”