Its been a year since the 2004 winter league when womens pro basketball has met together for a competition. Since the 1998 summer league, womens pro basketball competitions have traditionally been held twice a year in summer and winter, but this years summer league was canceled due to the Olympics in Atlanta.
Powered with the newly acquired Hyundai team, the Shinhan Bank team will face Shinsaegae in its opening match on its home ground.
This winter league is unique in that there is a fine line between the dominating and the weaker teams. This is due to the shuffling of star players, the return of star players previously on leave due to injuries, and the return of the old stars.
Tigger Kim Gae-ryung, one of the greatest players at the center position, and Kim Young-ok, the paragon of offensive guards, moved from Samsung Life and Shinhan Bank (previously Hyundae) to Woori Bank, which possesses former national players Cho Hae-jin and Lee Jong-ae.
Youthful center Kwak Ju-young (Kookmin Bank) and the princess of 3-point shots, Kim Kyung-hee (Keumho Life) exchanged uniforms on December 23.
After Shinsaegae fell to the bottom of the rankings due to the transfer of all-round player Jung Sun-min to Kookmin Bank, the team brought in Jung Jin-kyung, who had given up her Korean citizenship and moved to Taiwan after the draft scandal six years ago, and Yang Jung-ok, who played an important role in bringing the team to the semi-finals of the Sydney Olympics, and who had left the court due to injuries.
Foreign players that consist of half of a teams roster are not to be overlooked. Until last season, most teams brought in foreign players for the center or power forward positions. But in this winter league, Kookmin Bank, Shinsaegae, and Woori Bank selected foreign players for the point guard position. Only Samsung Life, who lost Kim Gae-ryung, chose center Adrian Williams. Shinhan Bank and Geumho Life chose power forwards.
Experts analyze that teams are avoiding bringing in foreign players for the center position because it is much more effective to use a rapid style of play by shooting from various locations on the court instead of competing under the basket, as is done in mens basketball.
The resumes of the foreign point guards are exemplary. As a member of the LA Sparks, Kookmin Banks Nikki Teasley formerly ranked first place in the WNBA with an average of 6.1 assists.
Kelly Miller of Woori Bank, who won the championship of the winter league with all-round player Tamika Catchings, is a shooting ace, ranked first in three-point shooting (0.423) in the WNBA.
Shinsaegae is placing high hopes on all-round player Alana Beard, who graduated from Duke University this year and joined the Washington Mystics.