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Injuries deplete WNBA rosters, teams scramble to fill places


NEW YORK — The WNBA season has had a poor start and many stars have been sidelined due to injuries.

Diana Taurasi, Candace Parker, Neneka Ogwumike and Natasha Howard are among those who have lost extended time.

And that list doesn’t include players who dropped out before the season even started, such as Elena Dele Donne, Angel McCotry, Bria Hartley and Alyssa Thomas.

“It gets magnified when it comes to some elite players, whose team came back to No. 1 in the AP Power Poll this week,” said Sun coach Kurt Miller. Clark was with Angel. There was a wave of injuries. When you don’t have star players it gets even worse. It’s disappointing to see.”

Miller saw no trend as to why the bruising was happening. The league’s preseason schedule was about three weeks its usual length.

Taurasi hurt his sternum in a game, and Parker injured his ankle in a shootaround on game day. Ogwumike and Howard suffered knee injuries during the games.

With teams having only 11 or 12 players on their roster, a flurry of injuries left them scrambling. The Minnesota, New York, Los Angeles and some other squads have received emergency difficulty exceptions, allowing them to have 10 players available for each game as their rosters drop below that number.

These difficulties are also taken into account when a player is away from the team for other reasons, including fulfilling an overseas commitment.

power survey

This week’s WNBA poll:

1. Connecticut (8-2): The Suns won Las Vegas and New York last week and topped the poll. Connecticut will have to survive a few weeks without 6-foot-6 Jonquel Jones playing in the EuroBasket tournament.

2. Seattle (7-2): New coach Noel Quinn’s tenure began with victories over Indiana and Dallas, before the Storm lost in a last-second shot to the Wings. Seattle beat Dallas on Jewel Lloyd’s OT buzzer-beater two nights earlier.

3. Las Vegas (7-3): The Aces return home for game three after an East Coast swing through Connecticut, New York, and Washington. Liz Cambage averaged 21.3 points, 8 rebounds and a block as the team led 2–1.

4. Phoenix (5-3): The difference between a winning week and a losing one was slim for Mercury. The team nearly conquered Chicago with a halfcourt buzzer-beater from Kia Nurse and an OT victory.

5. Los Angeles (4-3): The Sparks have improved their defense in the last few games, dropping just 69 points from their last five appearances. They are second in the league in terms of points allowed per game (76.5), behind only Connecticut.

5. New York (5-4): Streak, a three-game loss, has left Liberty looking for answers as they begin a stretch four straight road game. Betnijah Laney saw her streak of 20-plus point games start at eight at the end of the season as she had only eight points in the loss to Connecticut.

7. Minnesota (3-4): Kayla McBride has started to look more comfortable with her new team. McBride averaged 18 points and made nine of his 16 3-point attempts in two wins.

8. Atlanta (4-4): After missing the first six games of the season due to COVID-19, Cheyenne Parker made his debut with the Dream against Minnesota. One of the major offseason acquisitions for Atlanta, Parker gives the team another solid post player.

9. Dallas (3-5): Eric Ogunbowale helped the Wings avoid a third close loss to Seattle with a game-winning 3-pointer on Sunday. Dallas now continues its road trip with two games in Phoenix.

10. Washington (2-5): Mysha Hines-Allen and Tina Charles are starting to get more comfortable playing with each other and this could be a big help in getting the Mystics out of the early-season funk.

11. Chicago (2-7): Sky could have easily ended their seven-game skid last week, losing three of their matches by a nine-point combination. Allie Quigley is back from an early-season injury and Candace Parker may not be far behind.

12. Indiana (1-9): The Fever ended a disappointing western road trip, where they were outscored by an average of 27 points in four losses. The schedule has not been good with nine of their first 11 matches away from home. “None of us are in consolation prizes,” said Fever coach Marianne Stanley, “but we’ve made some good progress today in several categories.”

Player of the Week:

The Connecticut Sun’s Jonquel Jones had a solid week averaging 27 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks, helping the team win both of its games.

official return

WNBA referee Isaac Barnett was to officiate his first game since Tuesday night, May 27, when Dallas visits Phoenix. Chicago coach James Wade filed a complaint with the league after an official referred to him in a derogatory manner during Sky’s game against Atlanta on May 25. While Barnett was not specifically named by Wade, the other two officials from that competition have served in several games since the incident.

A WNBA spokesman said: “We have completed our investigation and do not generally comment on working discipline.”

Game of the week:

Lynx, Sparks on Saturday. Semyon Augustus will return to Minnesota for the first time since announcing his retirement as a player before the start of the season. Augustus spent the first 13 years of his career with Minnesota, helping them win four WNBA championships. She played for Los Angeles last season before retiring and becoming an assistant coach for the Sparks this year.

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More AP Women’s Basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP-SPORTS

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