Donna Orender Chat Wrap

With the preseason underway and opening day less than two weeks away, WNBA President Donna Orender is brimming with excitement for the WNBA's 13th season to begin.

On Wednesday, Donna took time to chat with fans about the upcoming WNBA season and a variety of topics concerning the league. A complete transcript of the chat is below.

Donna Orender: (4:00 PM ET ) Good Afternoon all - always good to spend time and to receive your questions. I share your excitement for the upcoming season, season number 13 and with good reason. Play will be great, Teams are energized as are their fans and it's been too long since we have seen great WNBA basketball. To your questions -

Michelle (Sacramento): Why is the WNBA season starting later this year?

Donna Orender: (4:02 PM ET ) Michelle -
Based on feedback from our teams and the schedules of our players, starting in June was a very positive step to continue to grow attendance and maximize the players performances.

Rosie Patrick, Rocky Hill, CT: Do you truly realize how very happy people are going to be about enabling folks everywhere to see so many WNBA games on line? To me its like doubling my season ticket, 17 home games and how ever many away games, yippee!! I hope this project/event really works. Thank you

Donna Orender: (4:04 PM ET ) I hope so. This effort was undertaken as a direct response to the many fans who spoke to me in our arenas, emailed us and communicated with our teams. More WNBA basketball is what we heard and that is exactly what you will get. We are all pleased by being able to get more games to more fans.

kevin (macon ga): With Lisa Leslie and Yo Griffith retiring, and Sheryl Swoopes having trouble getting signed, do you get the sense that the league is entering a transitional period?

Donna Orender: (4:06 PM ET ) I wouldn't call it a transition, I would call a natural growth cycle. We have been all witness to the next generation of players taking leadership positions and this is just part of the league's development. It's exciting to see what is coming and to celebrate those who made it possible.

Kirven (Rancho Cordova, CA): I love what ESPN has done for the WNBA. However, what can we as fans do to get more highlights on SportsCenter and have our own segment like the NHL has?

Donna Orender: (4:08 PM ET ) Kirven.

Glad you asked. In this day when media outlets profess to be about serving their fans, let's help them serve us. Send emails, call, write...It will help all producers who want to show more WNBA highlights if they can reference requests from the fans. So let's help them out.

Richard , New York: First, Good Luck with the 2009 season...I know like many fans I can't wait for it to start and watch exciting basketball... Now for my question...since the All Star Game is on Saturday Afternoon will there be events before the game like in years past? When will a schedule come out? Hope to see you at MSG this year Donna

Donna Orender: (4:09 PM ET ) Is this Mr Dodger Hat?
Yes, we will have pre-game activities and i expect we will post the schedule around the time we launch balloting.
see you as well

Icey23 (Rebkell Nation): Hey Donna O what was your off season like?

Donna Orender: (4:10 PM ET ) Hey Icey,

Off season... i don't believe I have an off-season. As I tell our staff here,, the "off-season" os the on season as that's when we work hard to ensure growth and success... this is 24/7 365.

John Molina also Rocky Hill, CT: Donna, congratulations to you and the league. Even in our hard economic times, the WNBA continues to press forward, going where no other women�s professional league has gone. May this be another year where great things happen on and off the court to continue its growth into the future.

Donna Orender: (4:12 PM ET ) Hi John,

Yes, we all continue to push forward and there are many successes to point to. But as we continue to forge ahead we also look back and are thankful for the pioneers who have paved the way for us. I think of the All-American Redheads. What an inspiring group of basketball players they were. Thanks for your leadership.

KC (New York, NY): Will a team be able to have a practice squad so that they can continue to have competitive practices if 2 players are injured at the same time? No disrespect, but having a coach fill in is not the same thing.

Donna Orender: (4:13 PM ET ) provisions have been made for teams to field competitive practices.

Phillip (Fayetteville, NC): Do you think Anne Donavan will leave NY next year to coach the Sparks?

Donna Orender: (4:14 PM ET ) I'm not the person to ask that. I can tell you there is a lot of excitement here in ny having her here on their bench. She is a class person with terrific talent. I for one am glad she is back coaching in the league.

Brendon San Antonio, TX: What are the possibilties that San Antonio recieve a All-Star Game in the Near Future?

Donna Orender: (4:16 PM ET ) Several questions re all-star locations. No decisions yet but if you want your city to be the host city, let your teams know.

Kevin (Knoxville, Tennessee): Hello Donna. Whos your preseason pick for WNBA rookie of the year? I�m going with Kristi Toliver for the sky. And u?

Donna Orender: (4:17 PM ET ) Kevin,

What's so great about what is happening in our league is that there are so many rookies to choose from. I overheard a debate by some fans earlier this week - which I loved. Kristi is a great pick but there are other options as well - Marissa, Angel, Kia, Renee, and the list goes on....

Brittainy: Pine Hill, NJ: my name is Brittainy Payne, I would like to know - have you seen any deaf basketball player join any WNBA team?

Donna Orender: (4:19 PM ET ) Hi Brittainy.

One of our star players does deal with a hearing impairment Tamika Catchings. She is an inspiration to us all with her unmatched work ethic and caring personality.

Ian New York: hey donna; i have a question... do you know who britney griner is and do u think she can be the best women's basketball player to ever play the game

Donna Orender: (4:20 PM ET ) Ian,

We all know who Ms. Griner is. Her physical skills are indeed amazing. We look forward to watching her develop as a complete player in college.

uncommonclay, san francisco, california: I am thinking that the early season games will be sharper this year, since most of the players will have gotten in camp on time ... will the "W" be able to do the same next year?

Donna Orender: (4:21 PM ET ) We agree. Reports from training camps have been very positive. They are very competitive and focused and it should contribute to a great early season of competition. We will continue to evaluate the season start dates, but early indications are that this really is positive.

Gus, Australia: do you have any input what games are shown overseas or does the network pick? PS really looking forward to the season and the girls from down under shining!

Donna Orender: (4:22 PM ET ) Hey Mate,
We do have input and our coverage overseas to nearly 200 countries is pretty comprehensive. What can we help you with? Yes, share your enthusiasm for the women from down under. They are stars

Mark (Rockville, MD): Even with losing a few teams from the league, the WNBA seems to be gaining in popularity each year with a new crop of rising stars emerging. Do you see this trend continuing with hope of gaining new teams in the future?

Donna Orender: (4:23 PM ET ) YES! We will continue to build on strength and that strength is coming from the growth in the game. The players� athleticism, talent and skill growth is driving interest everyday.

Mary Athens ,Ohio: I've been a fan of the WNBA since it began. I am very worried about the team rosters being dropped down to 11 players. I feel sorry for the veterans and draft picks who may not make the team. What are you thoughts on this and will teams beable to keep players on IR or some other way incase of injuries?

Donna Orender: (4:26 PM ET ) Mary I totally understand your concerns. That said, our championship teams last year were carrying just 10 players. Provisions have been made to adjust for injuries should they occur. Players should stay sharp as a call during the season couldhappen at any time.

Elizabeth (Minneapolis, MN): What was the response and atmosphere at the recent Lynx Rally Call at the Minneapolis Women's Club? (I was not able to attend).

Donna Orender: (4:27 PM ET ) Elizabeth, you weren't there? We missed you. It was a great environment, very upbeat and a lot of fun. The team is very excited about their franchise. Adding Renee to all of the other young and hungry talent has coach Z ready for a great season.

rocky brooklyn, ny: are there any plans in the works for wnba throwback jerseys like the nba has? it could be a great source of revenue for the wnba or maybe the jersey proceeds can go to the charity of the retired/former player's choice. I�m really on a mission to get a kym hampton #34 jersey.

Donna Orender: (4:28 PM ET ) rocky... what a good thought. Jersey sales for the league continue to grow significantly. The more we buy as fans the more opportunities are created. Let me shop your idea with our merchandising folks.

what the (rebkell - aussie): it will be great to see a full season for erin phillips at the sun.

Donna Orender: (4:29 PM ET ) agree

St. Louis MO: Hey donna, I love the WNBA but I live in a city that doesnt have a team, any chance we can get some teams to travel to non WNBA cities during the off season? I think they did it in year 2 or 3??

Donna Orender: (4:30 PM ET ) Hey St. Louis... would be a great city to host a team don't you thinkg? We are looking for options in non-wnba cities in the coming years. No guarantees but something we are evaluating.

barry (st. louis, MO): did you attend coach laimbeer's birthday party?

Donna Orender: (4:31 PM ET )I was not invited.. can you imagine? Pretty upset about the snub..

kevin (macon ga): I'm a long time WNBA fan and season ticket holder who is currently unemployed. Any chance of me getting a job with the league?

Donna Orender: (4:31 PM ET ) kevin,

You are a great fan, and always appreciate your support. Can you sell tickets?

Mary (NJ): Why are there WNBA games the day after the All-Star game? There's no extra day to give the players time to rest and fans and players time to return home.

Donna Orender: (4:32 PM ET ) The feeling was that Sunday is a great game day and getting back to the regular season was seen as a positive.

Hamden, Connecticut: Hi Donna. I love the WNBA. It is the brightest spot all summer long. When the league expands again, will you push for a new Houston Comets team first before any other city is considered? Thank you, I think the WNBA has been at its strongest since you became the Prez. Trevor

Donna Orender: (4:34 PM ET ) Questions and comments continue to come in re WNBA possible markets.. Florida, Houston, Tennessee � all great suggestions.

fans have more power than perhaps you give yourselves credit for. Start local movements� put together groups who will commit to season tickets to demonstrate to new owners that they can have success. Houston is a great market and we await a new ownership group to step up.

Jaime Houston, Texas : Do you think the WNBA season will ever become longer? If so, when?

Donna Orender: (4:35 PM ET ) Do you want a longer season?

Aubree (nj): What is the thing you are looking foward to most for this season?

Donna Orender: (4:36 PM ET ) Aubree,
I can't just say 1 thing aubree. I love the games, admire our athletes and love watching them play and spending time with them when we can and i truly love our fans. Visiting with them in all of the wnba arenas is a joy and knowing that together we are teaming up to create a great experience makes my job a great one.

rocky brooklyn, ny: ok last question so someone else can have a chance: would the wnba ever consider drafting players straight from high school? i personally disagree with high school drafts and think a player needs that extra experience in team play but what are your thoughts on that?

Donna Orender: (4:37 PM ET ) rocky.. you are a smart person

edmarie (Tampa, Florida): When is Florida going to get an expansion team. We started out with two and now we have none. Our state has moderate success with basketball, so when is it coming?

Donna Orender: (4:38 PM ET ) edmarie,

like florida and love tampa... no answers however... start the movement!

Steve (Key West, Florida): How does one obtain a job like yours?

Donna Orender: (4:39 PM ET ) are you interested Steve? In my job I mean

rocky brooklyn, ny: thanks so much! i think kym is tired of me asking about her jersey each time we see each other (but she's always so cool when we meet).

Donna Orender: (4:39 PM ET ) she is cool

barry (st. louis, MO): I doubt many refs were invited either. especially june Courteau!

Donna Orender: (4:40 PM ET ) too bad, she had a great present for him

Steve (Key West, Florida): I am very interested and would love to take over for you when you decide to call it quits!

Donna Orender: (4:40 PM ET ) Ok Steve� and your experience???

edmarie (Tampa, Florida): i cant wait till candace parker gets back on the floor. especially with lisa, tina, betty, and d-nasty. what do expect when she returns?

Donna Orender: (4:41 PM ET ) I EXPECT GREAT

Lawrence, Huntsville, AL: Mrs. Orender, Do you feel that because of currant economic climate, that future growth of the league will be a challenge to keep the league viable for years to come. Go Sparks!!!

Donna Orender: (4:44 PM ET ) Lawrence

To you and others who have asked about the economy such as Alex. The new environment presents challenges and opportunities. We have a major league product that is affordable and accessible. With our family friendly appeal i think we have advantages in this economy and we are all working so hard to press those advantage. We all need to do this together... so help us spread the word and sell tickets.

Steve (Key West, Florida): Well I just graduated from high school and was a ball boy for the Detroit Shock for 4 years. I am pursuing a degree in sports management and hope to get hired into the WNBA and eventually work my way to the top if I can!

Donna Orender: (4:44 PM ET ) You are well on your way Steve.. i am going to check on your ball boy skills just to make sure that you are on the right career track.... we would love to have you

Aaron (Caseville, MI): Which team in your opinion will take the trophy this year?

Donna Orender: (4:45 PM ET ) Aaron... I won't even tell my kids that answer. I know i will enjoy watching everyone vie for it...

Jim from Houston: Who does one contact about starting a franchise?

Donna Orender: (4:46 PM ET ) How about the mayor and the sports commission.

Trevor, Hamden CT: I'm a who is in CT for the summer so I can attend the Sun home games. (I take the summer's off work in Canada, where I live, to come here so I can go to them live in person. Will the wnba ever extend the quarters to 12 minutes like in the NBA? I see it as giving the fans more fun for their money.

Donna Orender: (4:47 PM ET ) We have discussed Trevor but think that the time is probably right for now. Hope to see you in CT on June 14th.

Brendon San Antonio, TX: In the Western Conference Finals last year with Sophia Young's shot, would you say that it was a defining moment for both the league and the Silver Stars (so far)?

Donna Orender: (4:47 PM ET ) definitely the silver stars.. What an amazing moment. It's in our highlight video so i have been watching many times over and never getting tired of seeing it. Will see you Brendon in San Antonio for the opener.

Donna Orender: (4:50 PM ET ) Thanks for all of your questions. Looking forward to a great season. If I missed you today I will be tweeting tomorrow at 3:30. Good luck to all and look forward to seeing you during the summer.