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FILE - In this Oct. 4, 2017, file photo, Minnesota Lynx's Maya Moore, left, drives around Los Angeles Sparks' Odyssey Sims during the first half of Game 5 of the WNBA Finals in Minneapolis. The two teams have developed quite the rivalry over the past two seasons, having played for the title the last two years. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

FILE - In this Oct. 4, 2017, file photo, Minnesota Lynx's Maya Moore, left, drives around Los Angeles Sparks' Odyssey Sims during the first half of Game 5 of the WNBA Finals in Minneapolis. The two teams have developed quite the rivalry over the past two seasons, having played for the title the last two years. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)


FILE - In this April 12, 2018, file photo, South Carolina's A'ja Wilson, right, poses for a photo with WNBA President Lisa Borders after being selected as the No. 1 overall pick by the Las Vegas Aces in the WNBA basketball draft in New York. The San Antonio Stars relocated to Las Vegas in the winter, giving the Nevada city its second pro sports franchise. The team, which is owned by MGM Resorts, had the No. 1 draft pick and added Wilson giving them a solid young post player to compliment a strong guard group. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)


FILE - In this May 8, 2018, file photo, Dallas Wings' Liz Cambage, left, drives against Connecticut Sun's Brionna Jones during a preseason WNBA basketball game in Uncasville, Conn. Cambage is coming back to the WNBA after a hiatus of a few years. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)


WNBA set to begin 22nd season after busy off-season

By DOUG FEINBERG

AP Basketball Writer

Friday, May 18

NEW YORK (AP) — It’s been a busy off-season in the WNBA since the Minnesota Lynx won the championship last year, beating Los Angeles in another thrilling final.

Las Vegas gained a team while New York changed arenas. Dallas saw the return of a huge inside presence with Australian Liz Cambage coming back to the WNBA after a hiatus. A third of the league changed coaches while another strong rookie crop led by A’ja Wilson and Kelsey Mitchell entered the league last month.

“There’s so much excitement for our 22nd season,” WNBA President Lisa Borders told the AP. “So many stories to tell and so many great players to watch.”

The league begins play Friday night when Dallas visits Phoenix. All 12 teams will be in action on Sunday with the marquee game that day a WNBA Finals rematch between Los Angeles and Minnesota. The two teams have developed quite the rivalry over the past two seasons, having played for the title the last two years.

“Every game that we play, it feels like a championship game,” Minnesota star Maya Moore said. “That’s when you know; when you play teams, and you have that kind of feeling. You sense, ‘This is exactly what a rivalry feels like.’”

While the Lynx and Sparks are still the class of the league, earning the top two spots in the preseason AP WNBA power poll, there are many teams poised to knock them off.

“This summer is going to be intense, because the margin for error is so small,” Moore said. “It’s awesome. Don’t be fooled; it’s harder than it looks.”

Moore and Minnesota will try to end the league’s repeat drought and win a record fifth championship. No team has won consecutive titles in the WNBA since Los Angeles did it in 2001-02. The Lynx have had three chances over the past few years, falling short in their repeat quest each time. With the stellar core of Moore, Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus, reigning MVP Sylvia Fowles and Rebekkah Brunson all back — albeit a year older — the Lynx could end that streak.

Here are a few key story lines for the upcoming season:

VIVA LAS VEGAS: The San Antonio Stars relocated to Las Vegas in the winter, giving the Nevada city its second pro sports franchise. The team, which is owned by MGM Resorts, had the No. 1 draft pick and added Wilson giving them a solid young post player to compliment a strong guard group. New coach Bill Laimbeer hopes to build the franchise into a perennial contender.

COACHING CHANGES: Laimbeer isn’t the only new coach on the sidelines this season. His protege (and former OSU great) Katie Smith took over the New York Liberty, marking her first year as a head coach after being an assistant for the past few seasons in New York. Dan Hughes is back on the bench after taking a year off. He’s in Seattle now. Atlanta hired Nicki Collen as the new coach after she spent a few years as an assistant in Connecticut.

WELCOME BACK: Cambage was only 19 when the Tulsa Shock drafted her and she acknowledged that the Oklahoma city wasn’t the right fit.

“I wasn’t happy in Tulsa. I was 19 and looking for a team that was going to support me and help me grow,” said Cambage, who only played in 2011 and 2013 with Tulsa. “I don’t think that happened in Tulsa. I’m older now and more mature.”

When the franchise moved to Dallas a few years ago, the 6-foot-8 star began considering a comeback after her hiatus from the WNBA. A trip to the Texas city last May helped seal the deal.

“I’m so happy to be back and am ready to help this franchise take the next step,” she said.

Cambage isn’t the only player returning to the league this year. After sitting out last season to rest her body, Angel McCoughtry is back with Atlanta. The former All-Star will provide a lift on offense and defense. Phoenix also will see the return of DeWanna Bonner, who gave birth to twins last season.

FINDING A NEW HOME: After an off-season of uncertainty for the Liberty where owner James Dolan announced his intentions to sell the team, New York remains owned by MSG — for now. The team will only play two games at Madison Square Garden, its home for most of the franchise’s first 21 years, with the rest being played in Westchester at a venue about a third of the size of the Garden.

New York hasn’t made it out of the second round of the playoffs the last two years, earning first-round byes each time before getting upset in their playoff opener.

Follow Doug on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg

Ohio’s Controlled Hunting Applications Coming June 1

COLUMBUS, OH – Applications will soon be accepted for controlled deer and waterfowl hunts on selected areas during the 2018-2019 season, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). The application period opens on Friday, June 1, and runs through Tuesday, July 31.

These special hunts are held on selected areas to provide additional opportunities for Ohio’s hunting enthusiasts. All applicants, youth and adult, must possess a 2018-2019 Ohio hunting license and meet the age requirements to apply for a controlled hunt.

Hunters can apply for the controlled hunts by completing the application process online using Ohio’s Wildlife Licensing System at wildohio.gov. There is a non-refundable application fee of $3 per hunt.

Hunters will be randomly drawn from submitted applications. Successful applicants will be notified and provided additional hunt information by mail and email. Applicants are encouraged to visit Ohio’s Wildlife Licensing System online to view the status of their application and, if selected, print their controlled hunt permit.

More specific information about hunt dates and locations, including opportunities dedicated to youth, women and mobility-impaired hunters, can be found at wildohio.gov on the Controlled Hunts page.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.

FILE – In this Oct. 4, 2017, file photo, Minnesota Lynx’s Maya Moore, left, drives around Los Angeles Sparks’ Odyssey Sims during the first half of Game 5 of the WNBA Finals in Minneapolis. The two teams have developed quite the rivalry over the past two seasons, having played for the title the last two years. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/05/web1_120558401-f7cd4ff0d3b74fc3b5d2ec81e073c715.jpgFILE – In this Oct. 4, 2017, file photo, Minnesota Lynx’s Maya Moore, left, drives around Los Angeles Sparks’ Odyssey Sims during the first half of Game 5 of the WNBA Finals in Minneapolis. The two teams have developed quite the rivalry over the past two seasons, having played for the title the last two years. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

FILE – In this April 12, 2018, file photo, South Carolina’s A’ja Wilson, right, poses for a photo with WNBA President Lisa Borders after being selected as the No. 1 overall pick by the Las Vegas Aces in the WNBA basketball draft in New York. The San Antonio Stars relocated to Las Vegas in the winter, giving the Nevada city its second pro sports franchise. The team, which is owned by MGM Resorts, had the No. 1 draft pick and added Wilson giving them a solid young post player to compliment a strong guard group. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/05/web1_120558401-3c35a0b5d20f4aabbe27f667aa15d6aa.jpgFILE – In this April 12, 2018, file photo, South Carolina’s A’ja Wilson, right, poses for a photo with WNBA President Lisa Borders after being selected as the No. 1 overall pick by the Las Vegas Aces in the WNBA basketball draft in New York. The San Antonio Stars relocated to Las Vegas in the winter, giving the Nevada city its second pro sports franchise. The team, which is owned by MGM Resorts, had the No. 1 draft pick and added Wilson giving them a solid young post player to compliment a strong guard group. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

FILE – In this May 8, 2018, file photo, Dallas Wings’ Liz Cambage, left, drives against Connecticut Sun’s Brionna Jones during a preseason WNBA basketball game in Uncasville, Conn. Cambage is coming back to the WNBA after a hiatus of a few years. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/05/web1_120558401-57d2c54990964c3ebf9850a5a79d704c.jpgFILE – In this May 8, 2018, file photo, Dallas Wings’ Liz Cambage, left, drives against Connecticut Sun’s Brionna Jones during a preseason WNBA basketball game in Uncasville, Conn. Cambage is coming back to the WNBA after a hiatus of a few years. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

Staff and Wire Reports