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WNBA Off-Season Update: Lynx News, USA Basketball Sets Roster

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Coaching news, USA Basketball set for tour featuring Sylvia Fowles, and more.

Minnesota Lynx v Washington Mystics - Game Three Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

One of the things the WNBA has to overcome is how quiet things get once the season ends in October. So many players disperse overseas to play, and there isn’t a lot of player movement at least until free agency begins (soon.)

But we just turned the calendar to 2020, which means a new Lynx season is just a few months away, so I thought it was time to get you caught up on whatever off-season news there is, and start getting us ready for the 2020 campaign.

As you probably heard, early in the off-season, Cheryl Reeve signed an extension to continue as both heade coach and general manager of the Lynx. Here was our twitter exchange at the time:

In more recent coaching news, the Lynx have lost assistant Walt Hopkins, who has been with the team for the past three seasons. Hopkins takes over as the head coach of the New York Liberty, who finished a rather miserable 10-24 last season under Katie Smith, but do have All-Star Tina Charles and the first pick in this year’s draft, widely expected to be Oregon point guard Sabrina Ionescu.

The hiring of Hopkins has reignited the debate about the lack of diversity among WNBA head coaches—specifically the lack of any women of color among the current head coaching ranks. Nobody thinks Hopkins isn’t qualified, but the fact remains that eight of the current 12 WNBA head coaches are men, only one is a former WNBA players (Sandy Brondello in Phoenix,) and none are black women, who make up the huge majority of WNBA players.

Meanwhile, USA Basketball has announced the roster for exhibition games later this month and the FIBA 2020 Olympic Basketball qualifying tournament, which the USA will participate in despite having already secured a berth for Tokyo this summer.

These exhibitions are an outgrowth of a deal USAB made with several veteran stars to stay home and prepare for the Olympics and to help market the women’s game in the United States. Sylvia Fowles is among these veterans who will be involved. The exhibitions are against the University of Connecticut on January 27th and the University of Louisville on February 2nd, and the qualifying tournament begins February 6th in Serbia. The big roster news here is the return of Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm, who missed last season with injury.

Dawn Staley is the head coach of the senior women’s team, but is also the coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks, and thus will not be available to coach the national team during this period. Reeve and Dan Hughes (Seattle) will co-coach the squad.

Both of the exhibitions will be televised on ESPN outlets.

We’ll be back next week with a look at free agency, as well as an update on CBA negotiations.