Atlanta vs. Minnesota critical for the development of the game?

A friend of mine is currently taking time out as a women’s college basketball coach. But he never takes time out from the game, or from thinking about it. In fact, he usually has some amazing ideas. Take tonight, for instance.

He hit me up after game one was over and said that the battle between Atlanta and Minnesota for the WNBA crown is incredibly important for the development of women’s basketball – more than people realize. Of course I asked him why, and of course he gave me more than an answer. So I thought I’d share it.

Let us know your thoughts.

1. Rivalries Matter

While Lauren Jackson and Diana Taurasi are arguably the two best players in the world when healthy, it’s important that the league features young superstars (especially in the East for those media markets, and American ones at that) as Jackson and Taurasi age. Maya vs. Angel are two dynamic scorers, which sells, and sets the league up for its future. In addition, their difference in personalities – Maya (UConn-polished, always perfect with the media, the heir-apparent in Taurasi as the best U.S. player on the perimeter) vs. Angel (from upstart Louisville, says what she thinks, however controversial, then backs it up).

2. Style of play matters

Though both Angel and Maya are tremendously marketable players, there is a ton of talent surrounding them. Arguably you have to two of the most athletic teams in the league top to bottom who can score, which is great for viewing and television. Want to grow the game? Make it attractive for TV.

3. Race in marketing matters

It helps to have a player as talented as Lindsey Whalen as a pivotal player on a pivotal team like the Lynx. Showcases players both Caucasian and Black – marketing sees value in that. Also helps that Whalen played at the University of Minnesota to fill the arena, as well, and it looks better on television.

4. Coaching Matters

In Marynell Meadors and Cheryl Reeves, both franchises have steady hands who have been a part of the WNBA. No experiments (ahem, Nolan), no cost-cutting (coaches without WNBA experience) when it comes to coaching. If you want success in a professional league, you hire and maintain pros. These two franchises show the importance of doing that. Spend the money create a great product, then sell the product.

5. Vacuum Matters

With NBA labor talks ensuing and College Basketball a month away, there’s a vacuum – a window that the WNBA can take advantage of now: it’s the only basketball show in town. If you’re a hoops junkie or perhaps a casual basketball fan, maybe you’ll watch. So now is an opportunity to put WBB’s best foot forward when normally NBA training camp would be sucking the basketball oxygen out of the room.