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getting my SCUBA certification (yup, I’m officially a diver!), the WNBA was having an interesting weekend.

On the “not fun” interesting side: Shock players had staph infections. It’s a little deja vu-esque for Tulsa. Writes Mechelle:

There’s no getting around it: This is a tough subject for the Shock — and the WNBA — because the franchise has dealt with staph infections each of the three years it has been in Tulsa.

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Still, the length of Pedersen’s absence with “flu” prompted some rather ridiculous rumors about what was actually wrong. Why didn’t the Shock just initially acknowledge publicly what it was?

Well, staph (short for staphylococcus aureus) infections are something that franchises and leagues really don’t want to talk about ever, let alone three years in a row. ESPN the Magazine’s Ric Bucher wrote, in an October 2010 story, about how staph was “the secret scourge of locker rooms everywhere.”

He detailed a staph outbreak that hit the Boston Celtics in 2006, along with several other harrowing experiences by athletes with infections. Including the NBA’s Grant Hill, who missed an entire season after contracting a staph infection during an ankle surgery.

On the “fun” interesting side, I swear I heard the “Beat LA!” chants while I was under water. I find a rally and a two-point win will do that to a NY/J crowd.

Tina rallied the Sun to beat a Sylvia-less Sky – who got a 21/15 game from Swin. But, PLAYOFFS? Swaggering Sky Puts Playoff Tickets on Sale

Katie D broke 5,000 but, more importantly, her 30pts helped Indy take down Phoenix, 89-83.

In the “what the heck is happening” interesting side, Sophia is still rockin’ the joint, but the SASS are still losing — this time by a whole heck of a lot to Minnesota (who didn’t miss a beat with Augustus sidelined.). Gotta love the eagle-eye headline editors: WNBA: Moore’s double-double leads Silver Stars.

In the “bored now” interesting side, the Dream stomped all over the Mystics. More nice things from Harding. The teams involved in the Drive for BG has begun to narrow: Draft Lottery Results Will Be Announced Before Playoffs Begin

Friday was pretty fun on the court, too. Says Nate:

This has already been mentioned elsewhere, but if you happened to miss Friday night’s overtime thriller between the Atlanta Dream and Minnesota Lynx you should go back in the WNBA LiveAccess archives and check it out. It was an instant classic unlike any other game this season if only because it was played at such a high level if nothing else.

It’s almost hard not to start the recap of the weekend’s 11 games without that game at the top, but we’ll still go in reverse chronological order just to attempt to bring some coherence to what happened…and keep the Lynx at the top (for summaries of what happened in Atlanta or New York, check out what James, Ray, and Queenie wrote elsewhere on the site).

That was a sigh of relief coming out of Seattle: Storm clinches WNBA-record ninth consecutive playoff berth. Jayda adds: Storm rookie Shekinna Stricklen is elevating her game. Sue says, Thanks, fans, for the starring role you play

Joan Niesen from FSN says Rivalries would enhance WNBA’s popularity

Cheryl Reeve has been the villain.

It’s hard to envision that here in Minneapolis, where Reeve has quietly altered the power structure of the WNBA, turning mediocrity into utter dominance. She’s still the underdog, in a sense, in her out-of-the-way city so far from the lights of New York and beaches of Los Angeles. Reeve and her Lynx are big time, but they still haven’t lost their small-town, overachiever feel.

But Reeve had a life before the Lynx, one that included a four-season stop with Bill Laimbeer and the Detroit Shock. And Laimbeer, he was the villain back then. Even Reeve admits it.

Anyone else find it weird that no Minny players are in the “running” for MVP? Maybe the fan vote will “Boost” one of them into the running.

In other news, they’re going to need a reeeeeeeally big table: The United States’ female Olympians have been honored by WNBA with its Inspiration Award. Heather Burns writes:

Tamika Catchings has won three gold medals as a member of the U.S. women’s basketball team, the latest last month in London. But it never gets old.

“When I first get my bag with all my gear, I do the same thing every time,” Catchings said. “I go up to my hotel room and I get out my jersey and my shorts and my socks, and I lay it all out on the bed. Take a picture, post it. Every time.

“When you have Team USA across your chest, you aren’t just playing for yourself or your families. You are playing for the whole United States of America.”

Speaking of the Olympics, the gold went to… Gliders get rolled for gold by German muscle

Still speaking of the Olympics: My First WNBA Game (Wouldn’t it have been cool if she could have attended wearing a USA Women’s Basketball jersey?)

Hey, speaking of honors, did you see that the NY Times wrote about the Red Heads? Photo in an Attic Leads to a Forgotten Team’s Place in the Hall of Fame

Every journey to the Basketball Hall of Fame follows its own path. This one starts with flaming red hair, a dull black-and-white photograph and one man’s ravenous curiosity about a team few others even knew.

Last Friday night in Springfield, Mass., about 65 women (many with fiery auburn hair) were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and the All American Red Heads officially emerged from basketball obscurity.

Thanks, John.

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“It’s Tree callin’.” (McClain Prepares For Naismith Induction) “Oh, and you better make room, ’cause there are a whole bunch of red-headed gals comin’ up behind me. They’re comin’ in from all over.”

New Mexico: Soybal to be inducted to Hall of Fame with All-American Red Heads

Utah: All American Red Head excited to be entering basketball Hall of Fame

Georgia: A ‘Red Headheads for hall of fame  (Click, if only for the photo!)

Minnesota: Braham grad headed to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame

Arkansas: Former Red Head Mason excited to see team in HOF

New Hampshire: Doucette to be inducted into Basketball Hall of Fame

Oklahoma: Famous Redhead named as inductee

Kentucky: Versailles woman heads to basketball hall of fame as part of All-American Red Heads

Missouri: Cairo sisters are HOF material with the Red Heads

Georgia: Naismith Hall of Fame Honor humbling for longtime Gwinnett educator

Minnesota: Sjoquist twins headed to basketball Hall of Fame

Missouri: Red Heads to Hall of Fame: Sarah’s Stories

Louisiana: All-American Red Heads, the first women’s basketball team to make the Hall of Fame

Colorado: Goodson takes pride in time with Red Heads – Longmont Times-Call

Connecticut: Tourtellotte star to be inducted into Hall of Fame

Cindy (Laliberte) Nelson knew she wanted to play basketball beyond her senior year at Tourtellotte High School, but this was 1974.

“I was going to go to UConn after high school, but women’s basketball wasn’t popular, I guess,” Nelson said.

The glory years of UConn had not begun yet and basketball scholarships were non-existent. The NCAA Division I championship was still eight years from becoming reality, and the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) was in its second year.

The only outlet for women to continue basketball was teams such as the All-American Red Heads.

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this time from Oklahoma: Pioneers with game

They’d play men’s teams — mostly a collection of area coaches, some military base teams and even some NFL players competing in the off-season to stay in shape.

And at times, not only win, but embarrass them.

“We played men and we played full court,” said Myrtle Wallace Frost of Checotah, her once strawberry-blonde hair now silver. “That was quite the transition from the days of 6-on-6 where almost to when I graduated, you could dribble and stop once before having to pass.”

A three-time all-state selection at Checotah High School, Frost, now 82, averaged “25 to 30” points a game and once scored a state-record 61 points in a game as a 5-foot-10 forward. She took her talents to the Missouri-based squad in the fall of 1948 where her pivot play in the block and hook shot with either hand marveled onlookers of the day through 1953.

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From Twin Cities/Pioneer Press: Bob Sansevere: Hall and fame find All American Red Heads, women’s basketball pioneers

Ever hear of the All American Red Heads? If you have, you know a bit more basketball history than most. (Why yes, Bob, readers of the WHB are quite informed! :-))

“This wasn’t a big outfit. This was a mom-and-pop outfit,” said former Red Heads player Diane Martinson, who lives in Lonsdale, Minn. “Ole Olson started it in 1936 and had it for 10 years. It was called the Red Heads because his wife had a beauty parlor and they were promoting the beauty parlor and the team. Back then, it was all marketing. We always wore makeup, always wore dress clothes. If you went on a date, it always was a double date.”

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From the Missourian: One of first pro women’s basketball teams recognized for blazing the trail

In the beginning, it was all about the hair. 

It was hard to notice anything else about the tall, striking women. Their bright red, coiffed hair drew blatant stares — and that was the point. C.M. Olson, who lived in Cassville, already owned a men’s barnstorming basketball team that played in small towns throughout the country, the Terrible Swedes. The women were his next basketball project. In 1936, he decided he would assemble a women’s team — the All American Red Heads — to promote his wife’s string of hair salons in Missouri and Arkansas.

The team, which went on to play until 1986, will be honored on June 11 as a “Trailblazer of the Game” at the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn.

Olson’s wife played with the Red Heads:

Coach Moore recalls one particularly memorable moment during a game when Moore had already scored 33 points. “The boy who was guarding her – when they threw the ball in to her at pivot – he just grabbed her up and run her out of bounds,” laughs the coach. “He ran her off out of fun and called, ‘Time out! You’re out of bounds!’”

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Dishin & Swishin show after 1 pm ET, www.wstrradio.com

USA/All-Star weekend is completed, and we’ll wrap it up with some interviews with players and coaches on USA Basketball, the Opals, what’s going on with the league and their respective teams. Guests include: Coaches Auriemma and Carrie Graf of the Opals, Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, Angel McCoughtry, Penny Taylor, Lindsey Harding, Maya Moore and others.

One of the most fun interview segments I’ve had. I was able to speak to not one or two, but approximately 15 members of the legendary All-American Red Heads barnstorming team, plus RebKell’s favorite historian John Molina in a roundtable format. The ladies talked about everything from touring the country in a station wagon (yes, 1 car, whole team), playing in Alaska, and so much more. I had ladies on that played in the 40s and 50s right through the end of their run in 1986. It was so much fun, and if you love women’s basketball, you’re going to love these ladies.

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