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The latest news and analysis on college and pro women's basketball.

April 25, 2011 at 2:36 PM

Monday dribble: WNBA president, pro hockey, and clips

RainSeattle.jpgIt’s interesting how many were irked at the WNBA’s timing for announcing Laurel J. Richie as its third president. The Twitter timeline blew up, ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel wrote an entire column and I spent hours discussing it with people who don’t even care about the league.
Rumor states it was a forced release because Girl Scouts of the USA was going to make an announcement. But aside from the press conference not being the same day, what does it really matter? Especially since we don’t know when the decision was made.
The WNBA is entering its 15th season. Excitement and buzz should circle the players, not the president. Of course you want the person named and properly introduced and you want curiosity from fans about who it’ll be because they’re invested in the WNBA. They, like players, should know due diligence was followed to insure a strong future.
Yet, followers should be ecstatic that the players were so compelling during events like the draft that you didn’t need a president to add to the ceremony. They should be happy a president seemingly won’t be the face of the league. Instead, Richie will hopefully be churning the same effective campaigns she helped create as a marketing executive to give the league a financial “breakthrough,” to borrow from the theme song slipped into the subconscious during the draft. In Richie’s case, that means fan growth and corporate interest.

Whether intending to or not, the WNBA did build some interest in Richie. Reporters scoured the web for nuggets about her past. Here’s a few clips from

And fans appear to still be interested in what she’ll say during Tuesday’s press conference. It’ll get way more play than if she was at the NCAA Women’s Final Four or WNBA draft.
First off, the WNBA needs to break apart from the college scene in the sense that it is a pro league — cross promote to lure fans who still want to see their Connecticut or Stanford players play. But curtailing on the NCAA exposure only diminishes the position. If the WNBA has next, they need to at least act bigger than the college game by standing alone with its news.
Announcing Richie at the draft is the same buzz-kill. Instead of being the story, it’s a side note for most publications.
It was blurb in most cities last week, too, in some cases as a note below coaching hires. Richie’s address Tuesday may not even get a second mention after the teleconference. But it’s big enough news that keeps the WNBA on the radar before training camp opens May 15.
And if Richie can sell like she’ll need to do so in her new position, she’ll make the wait worthwhile.

Former WNBA president Val Ackerman accepted a consulting role with the NHL to help build interest for women’s hockey. Only leaders don’t think there’s real promise in a pro league or the WNBA, for that matter, just that play among women has improved.
“I think the WNBA has been an unqualified disaster financially,” Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke told the Canadian Press. “I don’t think anyone at our level has any appetite for that. If we’re going to lose that kind of money, I’m going to raise my hand and say, ‘Let’s put it into development and rather than supporting 80 or 100 pro players, let’s develop 1,000.”
GOOD READS: Here’s a couple of lengthy, but good reads to pass on. The first is pertinent to Washington fans and the hiring of coach Kevin McGuff. The author discusses a different way to look at the perceived disparity among women and men coaches and how learning at a mid-major could help top BCS assistant coaches.
The second is a look at homophobia in women’s basketball. It might as well be an annual topic and until the issue is settled (dreaming), it’s worth the continued education on the subject.



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