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Thursday, May 23, 2024
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Badgers Women's Basketball celebrates their win against Michigan on February 26, 2023.

Welcome to women’s basketball. Make sure to stick around after the draft.

Many who recently discovered a love for women's basketball, are looking to get their next fix. Consider the WNBA.

The Wisconsin Badgers women’s basketball team just had its best season in 5 years, and their NIT Great 8 game was highly attended by an electric crowd at the Kohl Center. 

With March Madness concluding just days ago, the South Carolina Gamecocks were crowned national champions, solidifying their dominance in what was billed as a “rebuilding year” for head coach and WNBA legend Dawn Staley. 

The maroon and black confetti fell, the nets were cut and the trophy was raised. Now what? 

If you, like millions of others across the United States, recently tuned into college women’s basketball for the first time and found it just as exhilarating as the men’s game but are distressed about the possibility of having to wait until next November for more hoops, there is an easy solution. 

Welcome to the WNBA season. 

As mind-bogglingly close to the NCAA championship as it is, the WNBA Draft begins Monday, April 15, and the season begins in just over a month. Household names from the college game will ascend the ranks and join the WNBA in just a matter of days, and the players you’ve come to love — Angel Reese, Kamilla Cardoso, Cameron Brink and basketball megastar Caitlin Clark herself — will step onto the courts for the first time as professional basketball players. 

For aggravatingly long, the WNBA has been the butt of jokes, but it’s clear the league remains one of the fastest-growing professional sports organizations in the United States. 

Entering its 27th year of play this season, the WNBA is stronger and more popular than ever. In 2023, the WNBA recorded its most-watched regular season in 21 years, and it’s poised to reach new heights this season.

While the Indiana Fever, which have the first pick in the draft this year and are all but certain to take Clark, have not disclosed the amount of tickets sold yet, they announced a new 10-day presale period for single-game tickets to moderate the vast increase in demand. 

The reigning WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces also announced last month they had sold out their season ticket membership, becoming the first WNBA team to ever do so. 

When the Aces noticed the game against the Fever, along with four other of their home games, had sold out, they moved the Fever game to a larger arena in Las Vegas with additional capacity. Basketball analyst Deb Antonelli dubbed this phenomenon “Clarkonomics.” 

So the crowds will be electric this season, but what about the basketball itself? Well, all the action you love from men’s basketball is just as present in the “W.”

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You want to see dunks? Let me introduce you to Brittney Griner and Candace Parker.

You want to see players sink threes like Curry? Enter Diana Taurasi, Sabrina Ionescu and, soon, Caitlin Clark. 

If larger-than-life personalities are what you love about basketball, look no further than A’ja Wilson and Kelsey Plum. 

Interested in watching the GOATs of the game play? Candace Parker is set to return to the Aces this season, and Breanna Stewart led the New York Liberty to the finals last season. 

And narratives? Oh, the W has narratives.

The back-to-back champion Aces look to three-peat as their usually stacked roster, what was called a “super team” last year, gains back WNBA legend Candace Parker following a season-ending injury in 2023. 

The Liberty, which suffered a devastating defeat to the Aces in last year’s championship series, will aim for another run with Jonquel Jones, Breanna Stewart and Sabrina Ionescu leading the charge. 

On the topic of super teams, the Seattle Storm is building one of its own, and the 2024 season will determine if their offseason moves paid off. New additions Nneka Ogwumike and Skylar Diggins-Smith will be vital to a team that missed the playoffs last year and is looking to bounce back. 

There isn’t enough time to discuss each of the 12 (soon to be 13, with Golden State’s new team in 2025) teams in depth, but the Indiana Fever warrants that. The addition of No. 1 draft pick Aliyah Boston out of South Carolina last season electrified their fanbase, and that is sure to increase with Clark’s sheer name recognition. But will this duo be enough to make the postseason for the first time since 2015?

All of these questions hang unanswered as the 2024 season looms. So, if you’re in the mood for some basketball this summer and want big names and great games, consider the WNBA. 

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Annika Bereny

Annika Bereny is the Special Pages Editor for the Daily Cardinal and specializes in campus reporting. Follow her on Twitter at @annikabereny.

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