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WNBA season tips off Saturday

May 16, 2008 6:39 PM

by Kevin Stott | Although women’s basketball seems to grow in popularity every year, the translation to that attention in the WNBA has been tempered a bit as men seem to have trouble gravitating to the sport, even with the ability to bet on it.

Maybe this year’s, product will be a little more appealing with three of the top players in recent college memory being drafted in the top three spots: Tennessee’s Candace Parker at No. 1 by the Los Angeles Sparks; LSU’s Sylvia Fowles at No. 2 by the Chicago Sky; and Candice Wiggins at No. 3 by the Minnesota Lynx.

The Sparks, who have one of the league’s best players ever in Lisa Leslie, open up the WNBA season this afternoon at Phoenix where they take on Diana Taurasi and the Mercury in a nationally televised game (ABC, 12:30 p.m. PT).

The 6-foot-5 Leslie – who was injured and out for all of last season as LA went 10-24 – is really looking to playing with the 6-foot-4 Parker in the paint.

"I think it’s going to be really great for Candace and I to play together," Leslie said. "She’s a phenomenal player already, and I look forward to sharing with her the knowledge I have of the game and also learning what she knows already."

Also tipping off on Saturday are the Comets at Shock; the expansion Atlanta Dream at Connecticut in their first-game ever; the Mystics at the Fever (7ET/4PT, NBA-TV); the Silver Stars at the Monarchs (10ET/7PT, NBA-TV); and the Sky and Fowles at the Storm.

The league will take a break for the Olympics in Beijing from July 28 to Aug. 27 and the regular season concludes on Sept. 14. The postseason tips off on Sept. 18 and the WNBA Finals are scheduled to begin on Oct. 1.

Here are early Opening Day lines for Saturday courtesy of the Las Vegas Hilton's SuperBook (HOME TEAM IN CAPS):

Sparks +1 PHOENIX
SHOCK –11 Comets
SUN –9 1/2 Dream
FEVER –5 1/2 Mystics
MONARCHS –1 Silver Stars
STORM –6 Sky