WNBA teams begin to get settled in the bubble, focused on practice and conditioning
Video courtesy Phoenix Mercury
As of Saturday, all WNBA teams have arrived at the “bubble” location, IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. The Indiana Fever was the last team to arrive. Team press conferences began Friday and will continue throughout the weekend and next week.
During the pressers, coaches and players indicated that they are satisfied with their accommodations and are focused on the task at hand: daily practices and workouts to improve player conditioning in preparation for the start of the season.
“I think the WNBA has done a great job of putting us in a safe environment,” Phoenix head coach Sandy Brondello said, “so we can have a season even though it’s a little bit reduced.”
Even though all players will be together in the same place at the same time for the first time in league history, it does not necessarily mean that they will have the time or inclination to co-mingle. A championship is on the line, and veterans like Diana Taurasi are singularly fixated on reaching the title game.
“I’m a person that when I’m in season, I really don’t like to talk to anyone,” Taurasi said. “So, the only advantage is I get to see my teammates a little bit more.”
Stay tuned to Hoopfeed for more extensive bubble coverage, including features and social media updates. The following is an outline of current information about the 2020 season.
Season Start Date and Schedule
The season will start on Saturday, July 25, for a 22-game slate. The league has not released a schedule yet.
While two teams (Indiana and Connecticut) have indicated that they will provide free streaming of the franchise’s games, the league has yet to announce the details of any broadcast deals or if all games will be available on its streaming platform, League Pass.
All press access during the season will take place virtually via videoconferencing.
Once teams arrived in Florida, they undergo four days of quarantine. Also, players get tested daily. Per league protocol, any player who tests positive will go into “self-isolation until she satisfies public health protocols for discontinuing isolation and has been cleared by a physician.” This period at least seven days including at least three days off the IMG Academy campus along with daily testing.
On July 6, the WNBA announced results of COVID-19 tests between June 28-July 5. Seven players tested positive, including two from the Indiana Fever. On Friday, the New York Liberty announced that rookie forward Megan Walker tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. Liberty second-year guard Asia Durr will miss the 2020 WNBA Season; she tested positive in early June and is still recovering.
Some players have yet to arrive as they undergo more extensive medical evaluations including the Indiana Fever’s Erica Wheeler and two players from the Washington Mystics: Elena Delle Donne and Tina Charles.
Last week, the league and the player’s union, the WNBPA, announced a slate of social justice initiatives. Players also formed a Social Justice Council to coordinate these efforts. The council meets on a regular basis according the union president and Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike. Council members include Layshia Clarendon, Sydney Colson, Breanna Stewart, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, A’ja Wilson and Satou Sabally.
Players will wear warm-up shirts that display the slogan “Black Lives Matter” on the front and “Say Her Name” will on the back. “Black Lives Matter” will also be prominently displayed on courts during games. In addition, players plan to participate in podcasts and virtual roundtables to discuss social issues.
Atlanta Dream Co-owner Kelly Loeffler
Players continue to speak out against the Atlanta Dream co-owner’s escalating attacks on Black Lives Matters actions and her support of racist, homophobic and transphobic politicians and organizations. Loeffler is a U.S. Senator (R-GA) who was appointed last December to fill an open seat. She faces an election for the seat in November.