The Canadian Senior Women’s National Team – Road to the FIBA World Cup Part II

Kia Nurse, Photo courtesy of Canada Basketball

NOTE: The Canadian Senior Women’s National Team has qualified for the upcoming FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup taking place from Sept 22 – 30th in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. Leading up to the event, every month there will be a preview on the Canadian team. Last month, it was about Canada’s expectations for the World Championships. You can read it here.

Toronto – The road to the FIBA World Cup is still three months away, but that does not mean that the preparations have not started for the teams. In this preview, we will take a closer look at the Team Canada roster and who could be a part of it come September.

The following players were apart of the National FIBA AmeriCup roster last year that won the FIBA Americas.

Miranda Ayim, Bridget Carleton, Shay Colley, Nirra Fields, Ruth Hamblin, Sami Hill, Miah-Marie Langlois, Kia Nurse, Katherine Plouffe, Michelle Plouffe, Jamie Scott and Laura Dally.

All in all, 12 players made the Senior Women’s team roster. But, there were some important players missing. Some were not able to compete due to the WNBA schedule.  Some had college commitments.

If I take a closer look at the roster, I think about 8 or 9 of the above players will make the 2018 FIBA World Cup roster. It will also depend on how they play in training camp, which is known as Phase I and Phase 2.  If you look closely, you will see a familiar name missing in the roster. Natalie Achonwa is missing and she was unable to play last year due to her Indiana Fever commitments. Other players such as Kayla Alexander can crack the roster.  There are a ton more Canadian college players who are playing in the NCAA or CIS that could crack the final roster.

In order for Team Canada to do well in the FIBA World Cup, they will need a roster that needs the following: stars, glue players, defenders, and the sixth woman. Canada will get tested against the likes of other teams who have already begun practicing for the championships.

If I were to guess the final roster, it would like the following:

Miranda Ayim

Natalie Achonwa

Bridget Carleton

Miah Marie – Langlois

Nirra Fields

Ruth Hamblin

Kia Nurse

Katherine Plouffe

Michelle Plouffe

I think those names that I have listed above are guaranteed locks to make the roster. Most of them already have extensive Team Canada experience which should bode well for them in order to make the team. I have four spots left which I believe are wide open and there for the taking. Whoever plays well in the training camps and make an impression will be on the final roster.

The 2018 WNBA Season at the first quarter point.

A'ja Wilson

The 2018 WNBA season has now reached the quarter point of the season as a large majority of teams have played 10 or 11 games now. Only Phoenix has played up to 13 games (the most in the WNBA, currently). A month of WNBA games has flown by in this condensed schedule, which has meant craziness around the league. Let’s break it down in terms of what teams have stood out, what players have excelled and those that have not yet so far. There’s still a lot of season left to be played, but at this point, we are starting to see what potential playoff and championship contenders could be.

Team(s) that have stood out:

The Connecticut Sun stood out in the very early part of the season before the schedule as well as injuries caught up to them. They were in first place for the start of the season but now have lost three straight and sit in fourth place overall. The Los Angeles Sparks have been the steadying force and as a result of other teams slipping up, they are now in first place. They’ve been solid and playing to their expectation level as many thought they would still be a top team. The Seattle Storm have been excellent as well and they have played really well under new coach Dan Hughes. Last but not least, is the Phoenix Mercury. Many had the Mercury making the playoffs and possibly a top 4 team, but no one expected this hot start from them. They have won eight straight games, they have the best road record and Diana Taurasi is playing excellent basketball along side Brittney Griner. Diana Taurasi may have a serious case for the WNBA MVP award if the Mercury keep this up.

Players that have stood out:

As mentioned above, Diana Taurasi has stood out early one quarter in the WNBA season, but Natasha Howard has been an excellent addition to the Seattle Storm. She has played well beside Breanna Stewart which has allowed her offensive game to flourish. She’s on track to being a WNBA All Star next month. Chiney Ogwumike has also stood out from the Sun simply because she was injured last season and has performed well so far. If not for her injuries, she would have already been in star form. She’s just that good. Elizabeth Cambage from Dallas also stands out because, despite not playing in the WNBA for many years, she’s become the second best player for the Wings and she’s performed really well for that team.

Team(s) that have not performed well so far

The two teams that have not played well so far are the defending WNBA champion the Minnesota Lynx and the New York Liberty. Prior to the season starting, many thought the Lynx would be the #1 team to beat but so far they have not been that team. As for the New York Liberty, they were thought of being a playoff contender but so far, they have struggled. Even with a healthy lineup, they have not been consistent so far and would miss the playoffs as they sit in ninth place overall.  Both the Liberty and the Lynx can be better than they are right now and they still have three quarters of the WNBA season to prove it.

The 2018 WNBA Rookie Class

ROOKIES!! These WNBA rookies came to play this season. Led by A’ja Wilson, the #1 overall WNBA draft pick, Kelsey Mitchell, Kia Nurse, Ariel Atkins, Victoria Vivians, Myisha Hines Allen, Azura Stevens, Diamond DeShields, Gabby Williams have ALL shown flashes or have had games in which they have stood out so far. These rookies are different from previous recent classes because they have played well or have contributed to their teams in some kind of capacity. The WNBA is in good hands with these rookies as some of them have shown superstar or WNBA All Star potential. Some have shown they can be future great defenders or great starters.

SCHEDULE

The WNBA schedule is a talking point because let’s face it, these condensed schedule is nuts. We are already in Week 5, some teams have been on crazy road trips out West, some teams have played 4 games in 7 days, etc. Also there have been some really bad back to back game schedules. Each team will experience it or already have experienced it. Teams are now starting to lose players due to it which does not help teams in terms of making the playoffs. Thanks a lot, FIBA. It’s all your fault. (On the other hand, it does increase the amount of WNBA games on the schedule, which is a bonus for us, personally speaking)

STAT LEADERS

Point guard / Shooting guard Skylar Diggins-Smith currently leads the WNBA in scoring with 21.9 points per game followed by Breanna Stewart and Tina Charles.

Center Sylvia Fowles leads the way in rebounding with 11.8 rebounds per game followed by Elizabeth Williams and Alyssa Thomas.

Point guard Sue Bird leads the way in assists with 5.9 assists per game followed by Chelsea Gray and Skylar Diggins- Smith

There’s many more categories, but I chose the main three statistics.


 

That wraps up the 2018 WNBA season at the quarter point. There’s still so much to be decided, and we will have much more to discuss when the WNBA reaches at it’s halfway point, so stay tuned for that blog post. (The halfway point — believe it or not, is in two weeks!)