Following the Friday’s game in New York, the Comnecticut Sun, who broke a three-game losing streak with a win in Indiana on Wednesday, play Seattle at the casino on Sunday. The Storm are without both Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird for the season.
The Sun, Storm, Fever and San Antonio Silver Stars (without stars Becky Hammon and Sophia Young) are four teams dealing with the serious fallout from the WNBA’s dubious decision to cut the roster size to 11 players before the 2009 season.
What’s worse, that move was accompanied with a directive preventing teams from replacing long-term injuries until it reaches the “emergency” state of eight active.
For example, if the Sun wanted to add players to replace either Montgomery or White, or both, for the three weeks they are expected to miss, the team would have been forced to either cut them – or someone else – in order do so.
Not willing to do so, the Sun had to play Washington with only eight players. After that game, they made two moves, signing veteran Izzy Marques-Castro and rookie Sydney Carter and releasing Natasha Lacy.
That gave the Sun 10 players for Wednesday’s game. But when Montgomery and White return, someone will have to go – likely Carter, signed as an emergency fill-in to help supplement practices.
The Fever (1-4) have been short-handed because of their injuries and now are in danger of falling far behind in a competitive division.
“That’s why an 11?player roster, and players 9, 10, and 11 are so important, because they are going to determine some playoff positioning early in the season,” Rebecca Lobo said. “But Lin Dunn is one of the best coaches in the league, and they’ve got that experience of winning it all last year. So they just have to weather the storm for the first month of the season.”
During Wednesday’s telecast on ESPN2, analyst Carolyn Peck, a former WNBA coach, called for the league to reconsider its stance and restore roster sizes to 13. Donovan, who won a league championship with Seattle in 2004 and Olympic gold in 2008, agrees.
“I have been out of the league for three years [coaching Seton Hall], so I haven’t been a part of the discussion revolving this issue,” Donovan said. “But it is certainly stressful to know that you are two injuries away from not being able to practice with a full team, unless you are fortunate [as the Sun are] to bring some [male] practice players in.
“There are too many teams in the league faced with this. And New York just lost Essence Carson [ACL] for the season. It’s a difficult situation.”
It’s also one compounded by the wealth of talent turned annually turned away by the league because of roster constraints.
“We we had 13-man rosters, we all would be strong [talented] 1 thru 13,” Donovan said. “We had to cut Lacy and she’s a good guard. She can play in this league. A change would keep you from declaring hardship when you lose players and keeps you competitive [while you are recovering].”
Adding to the problem is the growing number of WNBA players deciding not to play in the summer at all, either to rest injuries [like the Sun’s Ashja Jones] or to spend time with national teams overseas [such as Sun fringe roster prospects Sandrine Gruda and Alba Torrens).
“We have to look at the big picture and think about providing some sort of counter-balance,” Donovan added.