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Hoops Happening: Tiffany Hayes grabs second Player of the Week award in All-Star-caliber 2018 season

Unfortunately, Hayes did not earn enough votes to make it to Minneapolis. Plus, the lacking All-Star coverage from NBA TV, links and more. This is today in women’s basketball for Monday July 23, 2018!

Tiffany Hayes of the Atlanta Dream earned her second Player of the Week award for the 2018 WNBA season.
Atlanta Dream/WNBA

Tiffany Hayes has earned her second Player of the Week award for the East in the 2018 WNBA season. She got here by doing what she has done all season long — coming up clutch in big moments, putting up points, and going at every play with the kind of energy that leads to scoring opportunities for the Dream or bungled plays for their opponents.

Her efforts led Atlanta to a 3-0 record for games played though Sunday July 22, which tipped the Dream to a franchise-best seven straight wins. One of those wins was clenched by Hayes with a long-range buzzer-beater, while double-digit scoring performances, coupled with excellent court vision and speed, are tools in Hayes’ arsenal that give the Dream the edge and often the win.

Yet, despite the prior Player of the Week award and consistent play all season — which also has helped to propel Atlanta to the second spot in the standings — the 5-foot-10 guard did not receive enough votes for a trip to the All-Star Game in Minneapolis.

She should have.

This does not mean another player who made it to Minneapolis does not deserve to be there. It means Hayes deserves to be there, too. But being sidelined with injury for a stretch dropped her from the sights of voters and, seemingly, from their minds as well. But her performance last week should prevent people from ever making that mistake again.

More importantly, while her opponents are stretching themselves thin during All-Star Weekend, Hayes can get lots of rest. When the regular season resumes, she and the Dream can continue their playoff quest and perhaps take over the top spot in the standings.

Tiffany Hayes highlights

In the West, the honors went to Liz Cambage. Her combined 88 points across two games, in history-making performances, were undeniable.

Liz Cambage highlights

Here are the other Player of the Week candidates: Atlanta’s Elizabeth Williams, Chicago’s Courtney Vandersloot, Las Vegas’ Kayla McBride and A’ja Wilson, Los Angeles’ Candace Parker, Minnesota’s Maya Moore, Seattle’s Breanna Stewart and Washington’s Elena Delle Donne.

About last night in the league

The Dream conquered the Storm, securing a franchise-best seven wins in a row, the Sun incinerated the Wings, Las Vegas came up Aces against the Fever and the Sparks lit up the Sky. Whew!

Next up in the WNBA ...

Four games are on the schedule for Tuesday, including the flying Dream against the Sparks, which will be streaming live on Twitter!

Stay tuned for previews.

Where things stand

As of games played through Sunday July 22, here’s where things stand:

In other words, much of this won’t be settled until the final game of the season. This has to be exciting for players who thrive on competition, yet nerv-anxious for fans watching their favorite teams yo-yo from one game to the next. But no matter how anyone feels right now, the last game of the season is likely to produce many broken hearts.

Scorching the status quo

Shoving aside the vague and theoretical notions that sometimes dominate discussions about interest in the WNBA, the numbers speak for themselves:

To the staunch WNBA naysayers: Just because something is on TV (specifically, ESPN) doesn’t mean it is more popular or has more interest. It means a programmer made a decision to air one thing over the other. It does not mean that programmer’s choice was right or reflective of the reality of viewers’ interests.

But ESPN is not alone in suppressing the WNBA from coverage, as NBA TV is as tone deaf as ever. In the run-up to the WNBA All-Star Game, in the most competitive season in league history, here’s what the league-sponsored network found to be programming priorities, as reported by Beyond the W:

  • 2005 NBA Dunk Contest in a marathon of NBA dunk contests
  • NBA All-Star Games of years past

A quick look at the website shows the extent of the problem — programmers choosing wall-to-wall coverage of Anything Other Than WNBA No Matter How Much Dust We Need to Scrape Off These Reels.

In the week leading up to the All-Star Game, in a season where the second, third and fourth seeds are tied at 15 wins and the fifth, sixth and seventh seeds each have 14 wins, this is what NBA TV chooses to air:

Monday 7/23

Tuesday 7/24

Wednesday 7/25

Thursday 7/26

Friday 7/27 — WNBA All-Star Game Practice Day

Saturday 7/28 — 2018 WNBA All-Star Game Day

So, it’s nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing all week, with three regular-season WNBA games aired hours before the All-Star Game — for token measures.

If past NBA All-Star games will be aired, why not past WNBA All-Star games? If I can remember the year Shoni Schimmel won All-Star Game MVP after shooting literal comets, why can’t these programmers? And on the practice day, which will stream live, is there a reason NBA TV can’t set aside an hour to do WNBA All-Star analysis — with a few broadcasters in the studio with a guest or two, bouncing back and forth to a sideline reporter at the practice?

This programming strategy, hinged on treating the WNBA as an afterthought, is insulting to the teams that work so hard to put on a good show every night as well as to the fans who continue fruitless searches for televised coverage and team merchandise. Prior to the season, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver blamed a lack of engagement amongst young women and girls for lack of interest in the league. Well, televising coverage of the league would go a long way towards generating that interest. Otherwise, it is hard not to view as the chief obstructionist of the WNBA’s success the league itself.

Drink up, link lush!

In just one game, Courtney Vandersloot reminded the basketball world who she is, made a solid case against her All-Star snubbing and notched herself among these elites in making WNBA history.

How to #WatchThemWork all season

Shine brighter. * flicker flicker *