WNBA all-stars will play U.S. national team this year
A good idea is being implemented by the WNBA in an attempt to spice up its All-Star game July 10 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
This year's event, which will be televised by ESPN, will feature a collection of U.S. national team members against the WNBA all-stars, according to league president Donna Orender. The national team, which will be preparing for the World Championships Sept. 23-Oct. 3 in the Czech Republic, is coached by Connecticut's Geno Auriemma.
Any time you can get Auriemma involved, it's worthwhile. He will play to win. He'll be evaluating, calculating, figuring out how the WNBA all-stars (Candace Parker? Diana Taurasi? Sue Bird?) will fit in with his national squad.
"I think any time you can showcase the best players of the world against each other in a high-level competitive atmosphere, it's got to be a good thing," Auriemma said. "Sometimes these all-star games become run-up-and-down-the-floor instead of being competitive. I think people tuning in will be surprised to see the level of play we'll have."
Auriemma's current Connecticut team, which is undefeated and considered the overwhelming favorite to win the NCAA title, should prepare him for moving forward with the national team this year.
"I haven't even had to coach my [national] team yet," he said. "We've only really had three of them available. I kind of wish it was a little different, maybe be going to coach a team that isn't expected to win every game, where maybe we could go in and say, 'Hey, we're the underdog!' I told my friend [U.S. soccer coach] Bob Bradley, he's going to the World Cup and no one expects the U.S. to win. Unfortunately, we're in a situation where we're expected to win every game and the gold medal. I'm OK with that."
-- Diane Pucin
Photo: WNBA president Donna Orender. Credit: Joe Giblin / Associated Press