• December 7, 2021

Thursday tidbits: Prince says she learned about carrying cash overseas, NCAA tourney expansion talks continue

The WNBA held its annual pre-draft conference call yesterday. While the timing of the nearly hour and a half long teleconference overlapped with the NCAA Final Four media day, representatives from newspapers, websites and radio outlets dialed in to listen and ask questions. ESPN analysts Carolyn Peck and Rebecca Lobo led off with their views of next week’s draft and fielded questions. Lobo left the call a few minutes early to attend to her five year-old.

Former Rutgers player Epiphanny Prince, who played overseas this season instead of staying in college for her senior year, was a topic of conversation. Peck talked about the maturity Prince might have gained playing overseas with a funny anecdote:

[O]ne year of playing internationally can allow a player to grow up. One article said that she learned you can’t carry $10,000 through an airport, now why she would be carrying that much money, I don’t know, but she said that was a lesson learned, so she got a lot of off-the-court maturity as well.

WNBA coaches became the focus after the Q & A with the analysts ended. Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve, Tulsa Shock Coach/General Manager Nolan Richardson and Los Angeles Sparks coach Jen Gillom gave opening statements. All three are entering this year’s draft period for the first time as head coaches of WNBA teams. However, Reeve’s former role as an assistant to Bill Laimbeer and the Detroit Shock gives her the edge in experience.

Reeve:

It feels like my eleventh draft. My role has been the same throughout my career, in this case with Roger (Griffith) being the General Manager, I kind of found that the process for me, I’ve thought about this the same way I always have. I really like the process of evaluating players. I think for us it is not going to be that much different.

After the coaches finished up, draft prospects Allison Hightower (Louisiana State) Danielle McCray (Kansas),  Monica Wright (Virginia) and Prince (Botas-Spor/Rutgers) joined in the call.

McCray talked about her progress in recovering from knee surgery and her draft outlook.

It’s going pretty good.  Tomorrow will be my six weeks post surgery. I am just rehabbing everyday getting my strength back to normal. The doctors have been encouraging me. By hearing things and listening to people talking, before this injury I think I would have been pretty high, but the injury has impacted where I might go. I don’t think it will hurt my chances to be drafted, but it most definitely is going to hurt where I might go.

The transcripts at WNBA.com:

Meanwhile on the men’s side, the controversy over talks of expanding the NCAA tournament is getting heated. Sherri Coale and Tara VanDerveer gave their perspective in yesterday’s media call. Here’s an interesting comment for a fan under an article on ESPN.com about the topic:

This is all about money, and the worst thing that could happen. The symmetry of this tournament is one of the best things about it. Win 6 games, and the national championship is yours. Now the “good” teams in power conferences will play even worse, tired out first round opponents, eliminating the exciting ohio’s over georgetowns and murray states over vanderbilts. A 16 has never ever gotten past the first round…how is a team not even in the top 64 ever going to win the tournament.

VanDerveer’s opinon:

I think if they do it on the men’s side they should do it at the same time on the women’s side, just in the fact that opportunities to play in the NCAA tournament are really special. And if that’s what’s I think so many people are losing their jobs because they maybe don’t go to the tournament.

Maybe that is motivating in a positive way for women’s basketball too. If they were to go next year, I would hope women’s basketball would do the same thing.

Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale disagrees:

Well, I have a very strong opinion about it.  I don’t think it’s good for the men’s game.  How could you why would you touch what just happened in the men’s tournament?

I’m speechless to even respond to it.  How could you ask for a better sporting event than what’s just occurred?  And you look at our women’s tournament and we’ve had all kinds of close games and victories at the end and overtimes.  We’re getting it.  We’re figuring it out.

And I think anytime you expand that field, what you’re doing is a couple of things.  Number one, watering down what happens. And, number two, you’re sort of defeating what you’re trying to accomplish with parity in terms of competitive games and earning the right to be in something special. And I’ll tell you, I just feel very strongly that getting into the tournament is something that you earn over the course of a season.  And I don’t think that just everybody should get to go.

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