NEW YORK (AP) — Almost every WNBA team will go through a challenging road trip because of the FIBA World Cup in September that is compacting the season.
Atlanta is in the midst of its difficult stretch, playing in six different cities across the country in the past week and a half. The Dream, who have won three of the five games so far, will have travelled over 7,000 miles when it’s over.
“It’s partly self-inflicted,” Atlanta coach Nicki Collen said after practice Monday in New York. “Because of our building availability at home we are on the road a lot this month.”
The trip is taking its toll as guard Tiffany Hayes went down with an ankle injury in the team’s loss at Indiana on Saturday. Collen herself got injured in practice Monday while jumping into a drill.
“You have to take good care of yourself with all the travelling we’re doing,” the coach said. “Make sure you stay hydrated, and that’s something I didn’t do enough of it seems.”
Dream forward Angel McCoughtry, who took a year off from the WNBA last year to rest, doesn’t remember the schedule being this compact during her nine years in the league, even during Olympic and world championship seasons.
“It definitely is a lot tougher than I remember,” she said. “More games in a shorter period of time, but that’s life in the WNBA.”
The Dream isn’t the only team that had a rough travel week. Connecticut headed out west and lost games in Seattle and Phoenix on consecutive nights. A difficult back-to-back for sure with the 2 1/2-hour commercial flight. Unlike NBA teams, WNBA franchises aren’t allowed to charter planes because of the cost .
The Sun dropped both games and fell from the No. 1 spot in the AP power poll this week to fourth.
A look at this week’s WNBA poll:
1. Los Angeles (8-2): A big week from Candace Parker helped the Sparks go 3-0 with wins over Atlanta, Washington and Chicago.
2. Phoenix (10-3): The Mercury just keep rolling with eight straight victories; their big three of Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner and DeWanna Bonner are playing well.
3. Seattle (8-3): Another pair of home victories have helped the Storm continue their great start. Seven of their 11 games have been at home so far..
4. Connecticut (7-4): Alyssa Thomas is out with a shoulder injury. The Sun hope she’ll be back soon, they had a few days off after the west coast trip.
5. Washington (6-5): Won a wild game at Connecticut that saw the Mystics blow a 30-point lead before rallying to victory.
6. Dallas (5-4): Skylar Diggins and Liz Cambage are becoming a productive inside-outside duo.
7. Atlanta (6-5): The good news is that with all these June road games, July and August will bring a lot of time at home.
8. Minnesota (4-6): The Lynx rolled past New York and will look to get some momentum going with three games this week.
9. New York (3-6): A talented roster just hasn’t really gotten things together yet. Tina Charles needs more consistent help on offense.
10. Chicago (3-7): The Sky lost a pair of tough games in Seattle and Los Angeles. The young team is still without star center Stefanie Dolson, who is injured.
11. Las Vegas (3-9): Bill Laimbeer’s young squad had a busy week, going 2-2. A’ja Wilson is a force in the league, putting up only the second 35-point, 10-rebound performance by a rookie in league history.
12. Indiana (1-10): The streak is over as the Fever final got their first win, beating Atlanta. Now they’ll look to try and get a few more victories.
Player of the week
Candace Parker helped the Sparks go 3-0 this week averaging 19 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists. Other players receiving votes were Breanna Stewart and Diana Taurasi.
Former WNBA coach Anne Donovan died on June 13 of heart failure. She was 56. Teams throughout the league held a moment of silence in remembrance of the Hall of Famer. The Seattle Storm, who Donovan led to a WNBA title in 2004, had a tribute video to their former coach.
Game of the week
Lynx at Mercury, Friday. The Mercury ended a 13-game losing streak to Minnesota earlier this year. The Lynx will try and not let Phoenix start its own winning streak in the series.