Maya Moore was the MVP at the 2014 FIBA Women’s World Cup. Fast-forward four years and the four-time WNBA champion with the Minnesota Lynx is missing from action, having decided not to compete with the USA Basketball Women’s National Team in pursuit of the the 2018 FIBA Women’s World Cup.
After winning the EuroLeague championship with Russia’s UMMC Ekaterinburg, and a condensed and highly competitive WNBA season with the Lynx, Moore opted out to get some rest. Of the decision, Moore said:
It’s a sacrifice for the players who are currently competing, representing the U.S. right now; they are giving of themselves above and beyond this year. We do that every time we participate in multiple seasons every year, but this one especially. I’m hoping the players over there can stay healthy, enjoy it and do well.
Moore won the WNBA Championship with the Lynx in 2017 and she is not the only player from her team to sit out international competition. Three of her WNBA teammates who competed with her in the 2014 World Cup decided to skip the tournament as well: Sylvia Fowles, Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen.
Whalen retired at the end of the 2018 WNBA season and has taken the reigns full-time as the women’s basketball head coach at University of Minnesota. Augustus and Fowles, however, both credited fatigue and/or injuries with sidelining them from World Cup competition.
Impact of the condensed WNBA season
The league chose to finish the WNBA regular season and playoffs before the World Cup tournament began Sept. 22 in Spain. Usually, the WNBA pauses mid-season to allow players to compete internationally before returning for the season’s conclusion. However, in 2018, the league elected to push through with a condensed schedule.
In 2017, the Lynx’s 34 regular-season games were played over a span of 112 days.
In 2018, the Lynx played 34 games over 91 days.
Before the 2018 WNBA season started, Fowles was leery about how the team’s veterans would manage the grueling schedule:
I’m not sure how we’re going to hold up. It feels almost like an overseas season where games are just back to back to back. With our team, that’s just something that we’re not looking forward to. Just recovery time, rest time and trying to find time for those older players to make sure their bodies are recovering right.
The Lynx were bounced from the WNBA Playoffs in the first round, with the condensed schedule and overseas play likely contributing to the team’s outcome. So it looks like Fowles’ prior concerns came to fruition, with she and Moore now getting some much-deserved rest.
It will be interesting to see whether other WNBA veterans allow themselves to take a break from international competition during the remainder of the WNBA offseason, in preparation for the 2019 WNBA season.