After winning six consecutive titles from the 2012-2013 season to the 2017-2018 season, Woori Bank lost its seventh consecutive regular season title to KB Stars in the 2018-2019 season and lost to Samsung Life Blooms in the playoffs. When Woori Bank, which was supposed to be the overall champion every season, failed to advance to the championship game, many basketball fans predicted that Woori Bank would enter a period of decline, just like Shinhan Bank S.B., which won its first six consecutive titles.
However, even after the end of the ‘dynasty’, Woori Bank has never had a season with a winning percentage below 7% in the regular season. Although they have only won the championship once in the last five seasons, they have maintained their prestigious status as the leading team in the WKBL, forming a ‘two-river’ system with KB. Woori Bank has been a powerhouse for a long time, thanks to the outstanding leadership of head coach Satellite Woo, who started the team’s heyday, as well as the organization of players who have been playing together for a long time and the proper recruitment of players.
However, some basketball fans criticize the results of the last season, when Woori won the championship for the first time in five years after the 2017-2018 season. This means that Woori’s biggest rival, KB, wasn’t a true champion as they didn’t have a good season due to Park Ji-soo’s injury. Woori Bank needs to prove that last season’s title was not a “fluke” due to Park Ji-soo’s absence by winning back-to-back titles this season to dismiss some critics.
Woori Bank wins the title after five seasons without Kim Dan-bi
After the retirement of Yang Ji Hee in 2017, Woori Bank, unable to find a clear-cut homegrown big woman, turned to foreign players such as Natalie Urchenwa, Crystal Thomas, and LeShonda Gray. However, after the 2019-2020 season, the Korean Women’s Basketball Federation abolished the foreign player system in the WKBL, which was a huge disadvantage for Woori Bank, which did not have a solid center. Woori’s tallest player became Park Ji-hyun, a 6-foot-8 guard, after the foreign player ban was abolished.
Even after the foreign player program was abolished, Woori Bank continued to perform well in the regular season, led by Kim Sonia (Shinhan Bank), Choi Yi-sam, and Park Ji-hyun. However, they were swept in the 2020-2021 playoffs by Samsung Life, led by Bae Hye-yoon and Kim Han-byul (BNK Thumb), and came close in the 2021-2022 season, but lost three straight games to KB, who had the best center in the league in Park Ji-soo and national team shooter Kang Seul.
After a combined six straight losses and four consecutive seasons without a championship, Woori Bank signed Kim Dan-bi, the league’s most versatile forward, in free agency last year for a four-year contract and a total annual salary of 450 million won. Of course, Kim Dan-bi is not an “authentic big woman,” but she is an all-around player who can play inside or outside, and her blocked shots in the 2021-2022 season overtook Park Ji-soo, so it was obvious that she would be a tremendous addition to Woori’s roster.
Some basketball fans were worried about the adjustment for Kim, who had never left Shinhan Bank since her professional debut, but they were wrong. Kim played with most of Woori’s main players in the national team, including Kim Jong-un, Park Hye-jin, Park Ji-hyun, and Choi Yi-sam, and immediately became Woori’s ace. With the addition of Kim Dan-bi, Woori Bank went 25-5 in the regular season and 5-5 in the postseason to win the championship for the first time in five years.
Kim Dan-bi was the star of the show. Playing in all 30 regular season games, Kim was named the regular season MVP for the first time in her professional career with 17.17 points (2nd), 8.77 rebounds (5th), 6.10 assists (2nd), 1.53 steals (2nd), 1.30 blocked shots (1st), and a 36.9% three-point shooting percentage (4th). Kim also swept the championships, averaging 18.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.3 assists. As it ended with a happy ending, Woori Bank’s signing of Kim Dan-bi was a huge success.
Park Ji-hyun grows into a key player for Woori Bank
Woori Bank had four players become free agents after the 2022-2023 season: Go Ara, Kim Jong-un (Hana One Q), Noh Hyun-ji, and Park Da-jung (BNK). Woori signed Go Ara, who played as the team’s core sixth woman last season, and Noh Hyun-ji, a 180-centimeter long forward, to two-year contracts with a total annual salary of 60 million won, but it did not prevent the eldest Kim from returning to Hana OneQ. Park Da-jung was traded to BNK for free after signing a three-year contract with a total annual salary of 60 million won. 카지노사이트
Woori Bank, which did not make any outside signings in free agency except for re-signing Go Ara and Noh Hyun-ji, named point guard Kim Ji-young to compensate for Kim’s departure to Hana One Q. The team then acquired Yoo Seung-hee via a trade with Shinhan Bank. Yoo suffered two cruciate ligament injuries during his time with Shinhan that cost him two full seasons, but if healthy, he could be a valuable addition to Woori’s offense.
Park Ji-hyun, who was drafted by Woori in the 2018-2019 rookie draft against a whopping 4.8 percent chance of being selected, has grown into a key player for Woori. Last season, Park ranked sixth in scoring (15.28 points), third in rebounding (8.86), fifth in assists (4.48), and first in two-point percentage (55.3 percent), and if he can improve his game, Woori will be able to build a stronger team. However, as the oldest player on the team, Park needs to be more solid on defense.
Park Hye-jin “Dotchi” Park, who hasn’t performed as well as she did in her prime, but helped Woori Bank win the overall title by playing all 26 regular-season games, plus the playoffs and the championship, will not be able to join her teammates for the start of the season due to injury. At the media day on Oct. 30, head coach Satellite Woo said, “Woori Bank doesn’t have a main character,” and greatly regretted Park’s absence. Woori Bank is hoping that Park Hye-jin will come back “healthy,” even if it’s a little late.
Even if Park Hye-jin’s return is delayed, few basketball fans would disagree that Woori, with Kim Dan-bi, Park Ji-hyun, and Choi Yi-sam, has a good chance to form a two-way tie with KB this season. Can Woori continue the dynasty they rebuilt by winning the championship in Kim Dan-bi’s second season?