Persistence pays off for old rookies in the WNBA

UNCASVILLE, Conn. ( Associated Press) – Yvonne Anderson understood that making the WNBA roster as an undrafted rookie was going to be tough, and even more difficult a decade after leaving college.

But the former Texas standout, now 32, was invited to camp this spring by the Connecticut Sun, following his international career. She played in several countries, eventually becoming a Serbian national and making a name for that country’s Olympic team last summer. He scored 14 points and scored 15 points, losing to the United States at the Tokyo Games.

“If you didn’t watch foreign basketball, if you weren’t scouting specifically for me you wouldn’t have heard of me before the Olympics,” Anderson said. “But, being seen in the United States and facing the United States and like a good performance, it didn’t hurt at all.”

And despite arriving late from overseas commitments, she impressed the Suns enough to make the roster, becoming the oldest rookie in the WNBA since Marion Jones entered the league in 2010 at age 34.

“Right now, I’m trying to fill a role with my team and show them that I know how to play,” Anderson said before making his debut in the season at Sun’s home opener on Saturday. “But, knowing that I’ve made it to the top league, it’s another check mark for me. It’s one of the last things I haven’t done and it’s an amazing feeling to be able to play at home.” is.”

Anderson, whose father is St. John’s men’s coach Mike Anderson, is one of several older WNBA rookies, most of whom have made a name for themselves by playing professionally either overseas or for national teams.

Among them are Tina Krejnik and Rebekah Gardner, Anderson’s teammate for Serbia, a 31-year-old rookie with defending champion Chicago Sky. Among the Washington Mystics is 29-year-old Rui Machida of Japan, who, like Anderson and Krajisnik, raised her profile at the Tokyo Olympics. He won the silver medal for Japan.

“Obviously, at the Olympics I had the confidence to play against Team USA,” she said through an interpreter during her introductory news conference in Washington. “I never thought I’d play in the WNBA until I got an offer from the Mystics. It’s definitely going to be the best experience I’ve ever had.”

Mystic coach and general manager Mike Thibault said the 5-foot-4 guard had been on his radar for many years, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to take him away from the Japanese national team until after the Olympics.

He said that performance “confirmed what we had already thought, that she could perform on the big stage.”

The four rookies average just over 15 minutes and four points, led by Gardner, who has averaged 26.5 minutes and 9.3 points in three games for Sky. This includes a 14-point effort in his debut against Liberty.

Their coaches say that bringing in old players, especially those playing overseas, benefits a lot.

Sky coach James Wade, who lived in Europe during the off-season, said that a big factor for him in deciding to bring on Kreijsnick and Gardner was the ability to see them play against top WNBA talent overseas, something he’d learned from college. Can’t find the players. ,

“They know pretty much who they are right now, and that’s something,” he said. “He doesn’t really need to prove himself to people that much and doesn’t feel like he has to prove himself. I think when you get into this league at a young age, you try to figure out You are who you are and so sometimes it can get in the way of the concept of the team.”

Sun coach Kurt Miller said it’s also good not to worry about teaching your old rookie the little details that go with being a pro, like taking care of your nutrition and showing up on time.

“We’re excited about (Anderson’s) chivalry and his ability to lead and I think it’s a funny story that he’s a rookie in his 30s and finally made this league,” he said. ” They said. “But she will have to scratch and claw and fight to continue her role in order to stay in this league, now that she has finally made it.

“She can’t be disappointed.”

This is not a luxury any old cheater can afford.


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