From Louisa Thomas at Grantland: Candace Parker Knows What She Wants
Practice ended, and Candace Parker’s teammates left the floor. Parker held a ball. Sweat darkened the shoulders of her long gray shirt, roughly mapping the shape of her delts. She had a packed schedule that day: two interviews, a Twitter chat hosted by the Associated Press, a tour of her house for Time Warner Cable Sports’ Backstage: Sparks, lunch with her mother, a weightlifting session with her trainer, an appointment at the eye doctor, and her daughter’s gymnastics class, all before dinner. But no one, least of all herself, wanted her to hurry off the court.
One of the men who had scrimmaged with the Sparks that morning, Tevin Calhoun, who averaged 5.5 points a game last season as a junior at Troy University, jogged over to Parker. He had a young face, mismatched borrowed Nikes — he’d shown up without shoes — and an enviable vertical leap. He also had about three inches and 30 pounds on Parker, who is 6-foot-4, and his soft box cut gave him an inch or two more. She had big hands, though, and endless arms.
Parker turned toward Calhoun, smoothly moving her dribble behind her back. “You wanna, like, play a little bit?” she asked.
From the Windy City Times: Lesbian Chicago Sky player set to attend her first Pride Parade
Although Sharnee Zoll-Norman has mentioned her wife in past interviews, specifically about her absence from the WNBA following the 2008 season until she joined the Chicago Sky this year, it has not been publicized. “It’s never been printed,” she said. And she intentionally never had a formal coming-out.
“I never felt whether I’m gay, straight, bi, [or] whatever that my sexuality had anything to do with me as a basketball player, and I don’t think it necessarily has anything to do with me as a person,” she said. “If I was straight, I wouldn’t have to come out and say that I was straight. So I’ve never had an official coming-out, or something where I felt I had to announce that I was gay. But everyone knows. I wear my wedding ring proudly; I have matching tattoos with my wife, and also have her name tattooed on me. We go a lot of places [together] and I surely don’t hide it [that she's my wife.]“
In this exclusive coming-out interview with Ross Forman, Zoll-Norman of the Chicago Sky tells of life as a lesbian, including her first appearance in a Pride Parade, when she rides on a bus in the annual Chicago Pride Parade on Sunday alongside her wife, Serita Norman.
(Looking forward to reading about the 300+ NCAA Division 1 Basketball Coaches marching is solidarity. And the Division II Coaches. And DIII. And NAIA. And WNBA…)
Speaking of coaches: someone’s cranky: Minnesota Lynx coach unhappy with her ‘big three’ star players
“My big three? If I’m using the last two seasons as a measuring stick, I don’t think they’ve come close to what they’ve been for us the last two years,” Reeve said.
About one of that trio: Dishin & Swishin 6/27/13 Podcast: Seimone Augustus embraces her role in Minnesota on and off the court
Off the court, Augustus has publicly embraced her position as a role model in the lesbian and gay community, talking openly about wanting to get married in Minnesota to her fiancée, and passionately discussing her happiness when Minnesota approved same-sex marriage.
On today’s podcast, Augustus talks about the 2013 Lynx, including candid comments about the lessons learned from their two road losses, at Minnesota and a disappointing performance in Los Angeles last weekend.
A story posted in the future notes: More ouches for Katie Douglas
Indiana Fever guard Katie Douglas will miss several more weeks of action due to a bulging disc in her lower back. Initially diagnosed after missing Indiana’s game at New York on June 5, she missed subsequent games against Phoenix, Connecticut and Washington. Additional testing this week revealed the need for continued therapy and rest.
Speaking of ouches, what are the current odds on Penny getting back on the court this season? Michelle says Penny Taylor sees silver lining
But Taylor knows, as difficult as it has been to be turned into an unwilling observer of a game she loves to play, that there was at least one silver lining.
She went home to Melbourne, Australia, for her rehab, allowing her to spend time with family, specifically her mother, Denna Noble, who was battling cancer.
“In a way, this worked out that I was home for a really important phase in my life,” Taylor said. “Because if I was playing, there is no way I would have been there for this time. I would have been overseas, and that would have been really difficult.”
About the W’s Generation Next: From Nate: Alex Bentley off to a surprising start as Skylar Diggins and Brittney Griner start to find their rhythm
We’ll take stock of the top ten first (which is essentially the eight at or above average players and two others), but I think it’s fair to say that the Rookie of the Year race is already down to a predictable two players barring a dramatic improvement for a predictable third player.
From the WaPo: Can Brittney Griner pull the WNBA out of its doldrums?
After taking the women’s college basketball world by storm over the course of four dominant years at Baylor, Brittney Griner has tried to embrace her status as the new face of the WNBA, a league beginning its 17th season on the heels of a 2012 campaign that saw attendance hit record lows. She just never expected it to be such a grind.
Not only must Griner suit up for the Phoenix Mercury, but she also is carrying the league mantle off the court, with interviews and promotional appearances across the country. No matter the venue, she is supposed to deliver.
So far: Griner’s popularity reels in fans
Inside the arena, workers have the power tools out as players begin pregame warm-ups, installing another row of courtside seats to meet ticket demand. Meanwhile, Griner is taking pictures with more than half a dozen groups that bought blocks of tickets for the season opener against the Chicago Sky.
Let’s just call it the “Griner Effect.”
“She smiled, she talked to people, and it was a lot, much more than we usually ask the players to do,” Mercury public relations director Rebecca Clark said. “And she was happy to do it. There are times I feel bad asking her to do one more thing, and she just rolls with it.
Her ROY competition made sure her team rolled: Delle Donne, Fowles lead Sky past Liberty
It has been only nine games, but Elena Delle Donne and Sylvia Fowles are turning into a formidable offensive tandem.
Delle Donne scored a season-high 26 points — her ninth straight double-digit performance — as the Sky rallied from an early deficit on the way to an 87-74 victory over the visiting New York Liberty on Wednesday.
About that game, from L’Alien:
It wasn’t a coincidence that Pondexter and Mitchell were grabbing a quick breather when the Sky pulled out that lead – the Liberty desperately lack direction with those two off the floor – but a lot of New York’s problems this season can also be tracked back toPondexter. It feels like she’s jacking up far too many long jumpers, curling off screens and just firing away, and the numbers back that up. She’s always taken plenty of long two-point shots – the least efficient shot in basketball – even when she was a legitimate MVP candidate back in 2010. That’s acceptable when you can hit them at a half-decent rate. But so far this season she’s taken the barrage of long-twos to another level. Before this game against Chicago, she was 11-46 from 16-to-21 feet (in seven games). That puts her on pace to take 223 shots from that distance over the entire regular season. She took 152, 125 and 124 shots from the near-equivalent range over the last three seasons respectively (it’s not an exact parallel because the three-point line’s moved out this year, so it was 16-to-20 feet in the past). Her attempts near the rim are actually pretty similar to past years, but some of her mid-range twos have moved back, and some of her three-point attempts have stepped inside the arc. It’s not working. She’s shooting a poor percentage, and her turnovers are through the roof as well. It’s hard to tell how much of it is Cappie settling for the wrong kind of shots, and how much is Laimbeer’s offense setting her up to take too many in the wrong areas. It’s probably a little of both. But it’s something that needs fixing if the Liberty are going to win a decent number of games this year.
It’s an interesting observation, because I have heard Bill say the words (similar to) “Our offense is better when she’s working within it, not just jacking up shots. It may be that injuries are pushing Pondexter back to her old “me rescue you even if it kills us” mentality, or it may be there’s a battle going on between the two personalities. Keep an eye on this, y’all….
Gabe Salgado has A Locker Room Exclusive: My One-On-One Interview With Elena Delle Donne
In the case of Elena Delle Donne, she gives new hope to the third-largest franchise in the WNBA. Attendance at the Allstate Arena has increased, the fan base has grown and Delle Donne has given sports fans something to talk about.
Making things even better, the Sky are on pace to have their best season in team history. Currently they are 5-3 and in second place in the WNBA’s Eastern Conference, just two games behind Atlanta.
From Andrew Hartsock: Ex-KU star Angel Goodrich finding way in WNBA
It didn’t take Angel Goodrich long to learn the WNBA was a bit more rough-and-tumble than the brand of ball she played at Kansas University.
Just a few weeks into her pro career, Goodrich already has sat out one game nursing a sore knee, then most of a week — of practice, but no games — after suffering a concussion.
“It’s a lot faster, and the physicality … it’s a lot more aggressive,” Goodrich said, comparing the pro to amateur game. “Everything’s bigger and faster and stronger. But these are the top players in the country, and it’s great to be one of them, great to be a part of it.”
That was no sure thing.
An unheralded member of the WNBA team: Adelanto resident now the voice of WNBA’s Sparks
“I’ve been trained to commute,” said Bush, who has announced basketball games at Duarte High School and Pasadena City College for the last 15 years. “I’ve done about 50 or 60 games a year. Commuting isn’t an issue for your dream job.”
Bush said that announcing at Staples Center for the Sparks, not the Lakers, is in fact his dream job. He admitted that the WNBA might not be the premiere basketball league, but as a fan of the game and a longtime follower of women’s basketball, there’s nowhere he would rather be.
Speaking of the Sparks: WNBA star Lisa Leslie surprises campers, speaks about being better role models
From the College ranks:
*cue music* Under Pressure: Sydney Moss gets her release
A different kind of pressure: Former player says ousted OU women’s basketball coach pressured her over religion
A former Oakland University women’s basketball player who played for recently fired coach Beckie Francis has come forward to say she was the victim of religious intimidation and emotional abuse by Francis.
The former player, who grew up in a mixed-faith home, has practiced Islam her entire life, and she says Francis attempted to convert her to Christianity and obsessed over the player’s weight while she was playing at Oakland University.
The University Star has a Q&A With Zenarae Antoine, Women’s Basketball Coach
SR: Is good coaching when you have players buy into your personal system or base your system off their strengths?
ZA: That is a very good question. To me good coaching comes from a number of different things, it is the X’s and O’s, which is a big part of it. In addition to that, I think that you need to have the ability to relate to the current student athlete and enhance their skill sets. There’s a lot of different ways for coaches to figure out how to win. It’s the coach’s ability to be great a communicator. For things to move forward, coaches need to be able to recruit to a system that they like and they run and that works well for them. You look at some great BCS (Bowl Championship Series) schools and they just sign great players regardless of the system, those kids just make plays, and they’re freer in their system. My personal philosophy is that I like to recruit players to a system, but it’s important that I understand their limitations as well as their ability to blend together as a person, not just a basketball player.
Nine for IX: ESPN Films’ screening of ‘Pat XO’
The roped-off area for the media and the orange carpet were clear signs that the midweek screening at a local theater wasn’t showing standard moviegoer fare. The film “Pat XO” debuted in an exclusive showing a short distance from where Pat Summitt cemented her career at the University of Tennessee.
The movie will debut across the country on July 9 at 8 p.m. Eastern on ESPN as part of the Nine for IX series – movies directed by women that focus on women’s athletics.
From M Robinson: FGCU coach Karl Smesko on the “Ackerman White Paper”, Part I: Rule changes
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