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On an “Everyone in the pool!” day (Oh, how I wish the Bangor Bears were a team!), things were not so much settled as set up.

Working left to right… After a rather uninspired loss to the Sparks, Phoenix is in the playoffs, but now fighting for position. They could keep their hopes for a Western Conference title alive by defeating Minnesota.

The Merc are in the playoffs thanks to the Lynx’ defeat of San Antonio. Unfortunately, Texas this summer too often has been a place where folks go to get their groove back, especially in the third quarter.

The Ghost of the Old Big East in the form of Allie Quigley rose up and shot the three with seconds remaining – and secured the 2-point victory over the Mystics. The Sky also added an important piece to their roster: Kiara Hood

Shenise Johnson may rap her head into elbows more often. Her 16 points helped pace the Fever to a 75-63 win over Seattle. It was a franchise record (!!) fourth straight win on the road.

Today’s Fastbreak is Catching a Fever for Indiana

From Sue: Catchings, fans preparing for her final exit

Tulsa and Mystics had Jeckyl and Hyde 3rd & 4th quarters, so they decided to settle the game in OT. The Sun ran outta legs, and the Shock moved closer to securing a who-woulda-thunk-it playoff berth. The Sun have to be concerned about Bentley, who came down wrong on an ankle.

In the first quarter against Atlanta, New York was all over the place and their play continued to be a hot mess until the middle of the third. Then, they dug down and got serious, powering to a 78-67 victory. Folks who aren’t giving Tina Charles a serious looksee as an MVP candidate just aren’t paying attention.

With about 7 games left for each team, things are getting tight. On tap Sunday:

  1. Indiana hosts New York: The Fever always give Liberty fans agita. We love Catch, but we.want.to.win!
  2. Lucky San Antonio, the Sparks are up next.
  3. Connecticut welcome the Dream, and if they have any hope of a playoff spot, they need to put Atlanta to bed.
  4. Washington welcomes Chicago, and it’s all about the 3rd and 4th spot in the East.
  5. And then the aforementioned Mer/Minny game.

From the WaPo: How one WNBA player balances her basketball career with raising an infant

The women filed through the revolving door and into the lobby of the Radisson Blu hotel, each pulling luggage for this business trip. Tayler Hill had a different carry-on.

Dressed like the others, she wore a white T-shirt and a tan jacket over skinny jeans and sandals, her hair tucked in a tight bun. But while the other women pulled roller bags Tuesday, Hill lugged her son, Maurice, shifting the 1-year-old in her arms while his nanny trailed a few feet behind with bags of clothes and toys.

For Hill, 24, the news of Maurice’s impending arrival last summer was met with nervousness. Like many women, she worried about how starting a family would affect a career for which she had worked so hard. More than a year later, the lines between job and motherhood intersect for the Washington Mystics guard, one of four active WNBA players who have given birth.

No disrespect intended, ’cause this is a WICKED hard thing to do, but it’s been going on since ’97 when Sheryl and her (NOW DUNKING!!!) son Jordan broke some barriers. So, while I love that stories are being told about the WNBA players, aren’t there other narratives to explore? And should the NBA players get asked the same questions?

Some good writing happening

by the players. From Layshia Clarendon

Arian Foster doesn’t believe in God.

I do.

We could easily fit into the believer/non-believer binary that religion has constructed over time; a Christian praying for the soul of the faithless and the godless rebuking salvation. There should be tension between us. I should be defensive about my faith when he criticizes Christianity. But I feel more of a kinship with him than most of my fellow believers.

We’re both outsiders in the Christian community — two people who don’t believe in religion as an institution but who invest in and love Jesus’ teachings; Arian, the Agnostic, and me, the Believer, both driven away by Christianity’s exclusivity. We’re the same yet different all at once — religious rebels who are forced aside as they look in on the Christian majority.

From Candice: Full Circle

Every athlete dreams of playing just one game at Madison Square Garden. It’s more than a cultural mecca; it’s a place that inspires the best players in the world to display a level of greatness beyond the imaginable. Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James — some of their most memorable game-time performances happened at the Garden. I watched those games. I imagined what it would be like to take that court, surrounded by fans, the clock ticking overhead — to have my own moment of greatness at a place that makes, and sometimes breaks, legends.

I got that chance in 2010. Life is interesting, though. Even when a dream comes true, it doesn’t play out the way you imagined.

Today’s Fast Break has their All-Time Starting 5: Chicago Sky
No surprise, guess who’s on their list? For WNBA star Elena Delle Donne, it’s all Sky, no limit

August may not be the time you usually think about basketball. But if you haven’t been paying attention this summer, you have been missing perhaps the greatest single season ever put together by a professional basketball player – better than LeBron James, and better than Michael Jordan.

That player’s name is Elena Delle Donne, and if you’ve never heard of her, now would be a good time to start paying attention.

It’s hard to compare players between the NBA and WNBA. That’s why statistics like player efficiency rating (PER) exist. The metric is a normalized stat, such that the league average – no matter what league, no matter what year – is always 15.00. A player’s performance across his or her game, from field goals, to assists, as well as negative results like missed shots and turnovers, are all taken into account. It is also judged by minutes played to account for a player’s contributions per minute.

Delle Donne leads the WNBA in minutes played. She also leads the league in PER. In fact, she leads every league — ever.

From Scoop Jackson: How Elena Delle Donne Is Handling The Pressure Of Her Monster Season

Every now and then, an athlete challenges and possibly makes history. Elena Delle Donne is in the middle of one of those seasons.

Receiving her fourth player of the week award a little more than four weeks before the season even ends, and leading the WNBA in scoring while being in the top five in field goal percentage are only part of it. Her 33.5 efficiency would set a WNBA record if it stands through the end of the season — a PER on pace to be two points higher than the NBA mark set by Wilt Chamberlain (31.8). Put another way, Delle Donne is having a more efficient season than the man whom basketball touts as the king of efficiency — LeBron James — has ever had.

From Bustle, re the above:

A recent interview with espnW presses Delle Donne to talk about how the pressure of the season might be affecting her, asking numerous questions about the “responsibility,” feeling the need to step up her game, “[feeling] the spotlight,” and the possibility of “hitting…a mental wall.” In fact the questions seem so fixated on this angle that I have to wonder if male NBA stars get these same questions stressed so heavily. (I can’t remember ever seeing it, but maybe that’s just me.) However, Delle Donne seems to be doing just fine with all the pressure, regardless.

From Mid Level Exceptional: Elena Delle Donne and the boundaries of usage and efficiency

From Ned Grffin at The Day: Sun’s Lacy is a true pro

The baseball field was a second home of sorts for Jennifer Lacy during her childhood. Her father, Lee, played 16 years in the major leagues, so she grew up around the likes of Dusty Baker and Tommy Lasorda.

“He’s been a big influence on me and my career,” Lacy said about her father. “He always said that sports are peaks and valleys. It really resonates with me. My career has kind of been up and down and in and out, just doing what’s asked of me. I think without that mindset that it would’ve been a lot harder to assume the roles that I have assumed.”

From the Washington Blade: Mystics’ Dolson embraces straight ally role

The Washington Blade caught up with Stefanie Dolson who is playing in her second season with the Washington Mystics in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). The 6’5” Dolson played center at UConn and the team won back-to-back national championships in 2013 and 2014. She was the sixth overall pick in the 2014 WNBA draft and began playing for the Mystics shortly after graduation. During her college years, Dolson stepped forward as a straight sports ally, lending public support to help break down stereotypes, stop discrimination in recruiting and create positive role models for all people, not just the LGBT community.

Sue has Brittany Boyd having a good time on her perfect-fit team and Pondexter-Prince trade paying dividends for all

Sometimes player trades work out so well that it’s hard to tell who has benefited most – the team or the athlete.

Such has been the case for the New York Liberty and Chicago Sky this season, who exchanged Cappie Pondexter and Epiphanny Prince over the winter. Both guards have become rejuvenated in systems that seem to fit them perfectly, to the delight of both themselves and their coaches.

As a result, both Pondexter and Prince are leading their teams in a fierce race for the Eastern Conference title. Going into today’s match ups, Prince and the Liberty are in first place, one game ahead of Pondexter’s Sky. And there is plenty of time left in the regular season.

’cause I know it’s some people’s obsession: WNBA STAR MAYA MOORE KICKS BIG GAME WITH EXCLUSIVE JORDAN SNEAKERS

As to the games, clearly, we’re going to have to wait to see if that coach/player conversation had any impact in Minnesota, ’cause Washington sure didn’t see any change.

Really? It’s been THAT long since New York won in San Antonio?

With Indy and New York on hot streaks, Washington getting feisty, and the Sky feline’s their way, the East’s race to the finish is intriguing.

And, the West is all tipsy-turvey, with Minnesota’s fickleness, Parker’s return, Phoenix’s tank-free-ness and Tula’s stubbornness. Looking at the standings, I had a flashback to when the East was mocked for sending under .500 clubs to the playoffs…Welcome, shoe, to the other foot!

in college news:

You stay put: Women’s Basketball Coach Sue Semrau Signs Extension Through 2020

You stay put, too: New contract keeps Ali Jaques with Siena through 2020

You stay put, three: Texas State’s Zenarae Antoine Signs Contract Extension Through 2017-18

WATN? Rhonda Mapp: 

Rhonda Mapp is helping less fortunate families get ready for school.  

Her Kool Kutz Barbershop and Salon is offering 100 free haircuts and hairstyles as well as book bags and school supplies to children August 23. Doors open at 10 a.m.

Coach Stephanie White is pulling ahead in the Coach of the Year polls. Her Indy team flew into L.A., handed the (rejuvenated, yet Nneka-less) Sparks a nice big lead, only to storm back and get the win. Ouch, playoff run!

Speaking of Indy and Coach White: Former Maryland Star Marissa Coleman Gains Confidence From Indiana Coach

Marissa Coleman is home in the heartland.

It’s taken some time, tears and toughness, but Coleman has found a comfort zone that has the veteran Indiana Fever guard among the elite players in the league, a place she always believed she belonged. Her recent selection to the WNBA All-Star presented by Boost Mobile confirmed that status.

“From day one when I signed here, the conversations coach (Stephanie White) and I shared instilled immediate confidence in me,” Coleman said last week before the Fever defeated the Mystics, 73-62 at the Verizon Center.

In Phoenix, there was no haunting after this beautifully designed play:

The (Pierson-less-cause-she-has-a-sprained-knee-phew!) Shock had a rebound-a-pa-looza against the Mercury on the way to a convincing 74-59 win. (No, you didn’t call that.)

Tulsa also received 15 points each from Karima Christmas and Odyssey Sims, and Courtney Paris added 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Included in those totals were the 1,000th career WNBA point by Christmas and the 1,000th career rebound by Paris.

The Shock are 12-14, solidly in third place in the Western Conference.

In other WNBA news:

Ouch: Meesseman to play through finger injury as Mystics fight for playoff spot

The Washington Mystics have managed to remain in the thick of the WNBA’s Eastern Conference playoff hunt despite a litany of injuries, but with 11 games left in the regular season, Coach Mike Thibault was bracing for a stretch run perhaps without one of his best players after Emma Meesseman dislocated her right index finger Sunday against the Minnesota Lynx.

Nylon Calculus offers their 3-2-C (Don’t tell Tina):

(Ed: In our first season, The Nylon Calculus covered almost exclusively the NBA from a statistical standpoint. This is largely due to the fact that with the advent of SportVU technology, the NBA game has the most robust underlying data. However, that isn’t to say new and interesting observations from a statistical standpoint are not available from other basketball leagues such as the NCAA, FIBA play and especially the WNBA. We are thrilled to have Howard Megdal to provide regular coverage of that league and hope you enjoy.)

As the WNBA season enters its final four weeks, the question of just who will win the Most Valuable Player award depends largely on which areas of emphasis you value most.

The candidates still in consideration for me will come as no surprise to you: Elena Delle Donne of the Chicago Sky, Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury and Maya Moore of the Minnesota Lynx.

Speaking of Maya: Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve, four captains hold 3-hour meeting, skip practice- The Lynx coach huddled with her four leaders in the wake of loss at Washington. 

“I can’t really talk about what we talked about in the meeting, but it was much-needed and I think it’s going to help catapult us to where we need to go,” Augustus said.

Roar: BearShare: Brittany Boyd, WNBA Rookie

Since you don’t actually live in New York City, does that mean that you haven’t had the chance to explore the city?

No, I’ve had opportunities to come into town. Especially on off days, I come. On practice days, I don’t come into the city, because at 2:30, I’m tired so I just want to sleep and just chill and relax my body and prepare for the next day. But if I do want to do something, I can easily come down to the city and look around. On an off day, I’ve walked around Times Square. I’ve been hanging out with Tina Charles, so she took me around to Brooklyn, Queens, and Harlem, so I’ve been getting out a little bit.

From Jayda: Evie Goldstein, director of operations for the WNBA players’ union, wants to explore revenue opportunities and give the players a more powerful voice.

Q:The WNBA and players’ union signed an eight-year collective-bargaining agreement in 2014, which can be terminated after six years. Will top WNBA salaries ever reach NBA minimums ($500,000)?

A: When you negotiate a CBA, the salary part is unlikely to change. But that’s not the only source of revenue for the women. There is a provision in the CBA that gives money back to players after an average team-ticket revenue reaches a certain point. The other source of revenue is licensing. More can be done with that. I’ve only been on the job six months, so I’m talking generally. But in our CBA, revenue share is based solely and singularly on averaged ticket revenue.

10 Years Later: 

As part of an ongoing series of stories centered around the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune reflects on the massive storm’s impact, its devastating aftermath, and its enduring legacy for individuals and the sports community today.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, McDonogh 35 was one of the first public schools in Orleans Parish to reopen the doors and begin the next chapter of its story.

Even before that post-storm decision, McDonogh 35 girls basketball coach Danielle Allen-Lewis had begun searching for her team.

She had good reason.

Lot’s of good news for Rio-Bound Canadians:

Canadian women’s basketball team living a perfect storm a year ahead of Rio 2016 Olympics
Women’s basketball team hopes to keep rolling into Rio – Waterloo Record
Canadian women’s basketball charts map to Rio after clinching Olympic berth – Toronto Star

Slightly OT, but related: Sucky news for not-Rio-Bound Brits (say what!). Luckily, they have English Football to offer them some comfort: ‘Our Lionesses go back to being mothers, partners and daughters today.” Just warms the cockles of my heart… how ’bout you?

“See Ya Soon” news for Seattle: Tokashiki to Miss Four Storm Games for 2015 FIBA Asia Women’s Championship; Rejoins Seattle in September

Congrats: Patriot League Announces Women’s Basketball 25th Anniversary Team

American: Jen Dumiak (2011-15); Lisa Strack (2008-12); Alexis Dobbs (2010-14)
Army West Point: Kelsey Minato (2012-present); Katie Macfarlane (2000-04); Cara Enright (2004-08); Erin Anthony (2007-11); Alex McGuire (2005-09); Lisa Russell (1991-95)
Bucknell: Molly Creamer (1999-03); Desire Almind (2000-04); Hope Foster (2004-08); Vicki Quimby (1998-02)
Colgate: Emily Braseth (2001-05)
Holy Cross: Amy O’Brien (1995-99); Kathy Courtney (1993-97); Lauren Maney (1992-96); Anna Kinne (1996-00); Norinne Powers (1990-93)
Lehigh: Anne Tierney (1999-03); Erica Prosser (2007-11); Jessica DePalo (2001-05)
Navy: Jade Geif (2010-14); Courtney Davidson (2000-04); Becky Dowling (1994-98)

More history: Pioneering Spirit Part III: Salem’s Evie Oquendo overcame the odds as basketball star, role model

For every accomplishment, every moment of greatness, there was an obstacle Evelyn Oquendo had to overcome.

Those obstacles ranged from the small, like the forgotten sneaker on the first day of basketball tryouts at Salem High School, to the prodigious, like a family expectation to join the work force after high school graduation.

One detour off her path and it’s unlikely Oquendo ever would have become the star high school basketball player, the three-time college All-American and national champion at Salem State, or the teacher and role model she is today for the students of Salem’s Collins Middle School.

Oquendo’s story is one of perseverance and destiny. The trail she blazed is a blueprint for how athletics can bring harmony and direction into life.

It’s hard to quantify beyond “It’s faster, more athletic” etc. etc. I wasn’t aware of women’s basketball in 1972, but I sure as heck notice the difference between the WNBA in ’97 and the 2016 version. The women on the court regularly do things that rarely, if ever, happened on the court in the opening years of the W. But, how to capture the difference?

Then a Facebook post got me thinking, flashing back, and then sharing. So, I bring to you, for your enjoyment and comparison, two spectacular athletes who’ve changed, and are changing, their sport:

1972, Munich Olympics – Olga Korbut

2016, Proctor and Gamble Gymnastics Championships – Simone Biles

(Hey, hey… hey! Watch those thoughts!)

Sites disappear, move or get taken over by Japanese script. AND….

A GREAT picture of Sherri Coale, “basketball player,” from the NAIA site, and this news: Elston King Announces Retirement – After over four decades of service to Southern University at New Orleans, King will end his coaching career

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina Elston King and his wife, Imogene, found themselves in the attic of their home; waters rising and in need of a rescue. Help did arrive, but they were only taking women, so King waded through the water with his wife on his back, getting her to safety. Eventually Elston King was lifted by helicopter off of the roof of his home and taken to Baton Rouge and reunited with his wife and with his other family; Southern University at New Orleans.

The recovery for both the Kings and SUNO started in those days and weeks while both were displaced in Baton Rouge. Elston and his wife in an apartment and SUNO temporarily housed by Southern University’s flagship campus on the bluff. By 2005, Elston King had dedicated more than three decades to his beloved Knights and he wasn’t about to let a storm wash all of that away. He thought about that time as his tenure at the University comes to a close. After 41 years as a student, coach and athletic director, Elston King is retiring.

“We stayed there [in Baton Rouge] for nine months but we knew we would come back”, recalls King. “Out of everything I’ve done at SUNO, I think rebuilding the program after Katrina, from nothing, into a winning program…a program that can be respected, that’s has to be right up there with anything I’ve done in my career.”

This, from the National Wheelchair Basketball Association: USA Completes Sweep of Wheelchair Basketball GOLD at the Parapan Am Games.

With a dominating performance in the Men’s Gold medal match, the USA team defeated the Canadian team to take the Gold medal at the 2015 Toronto Parapan Am Games. The final score tallied at USA 62 – CAN 39. The USA team was able to focus on their game plan from the beginning, and even the raucous cheering from the partisan crowd couldn’t distract the USA squad for achieving its golden goal.

With this win, both of the USA teams gained the top spot at the Parapan Games and have qualified for the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. Congratulations to both teams. GO USA!

Some background on the NYC high school story from the previous post courtesy of the National Women’s Law Center: The Battle for Gender Equity in Athletics in Elementary and Secondary Schools

This fact sheet discusses the importance of sports for girls, and the unlevel playing field they still face. Compared to male athletes, female athletes receive far fewer participation opportunities and inferior coaching, equipment, practice facilities and competitive opportunities.

Which dovetails nicely with the Title IX Blog’s post: LAS-ELC “Fair Play” Video

In the spirit of sharing helpful resources, this new video created by the gender equity team at Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center is aimed at students and helps them understand Title IX’s application to K-12 athletic programs. It also helps them understand their rights under California’s Fair Play in Community Sports Act, which applies to municipal athletic programs that are outside the scope of Title IX.

From D3Hoops: A three-part series: Day 1: Greatest of all time?

Let’s get something out of the way first.

Thomas More did not win the 2015 NCAA Division III women’s basketball national championship just because the Saints had Sydney Moss.  As several players and coaches, at Thomas More and elsewhere, were quick to point out all season, the Saints were a really good basketball team. They had depth in the front court, senior leadership in the backcourt and a fearless freshman dynamo at point guard. Thomas More was much more than Moss.

All that said, Sydney Moss may have completed the single greatest season of any women’s Division III basketball player ever. Heck, it may have been the single greatest season of any Division III basketball player, man or woman.

Day 2: First to reach the elite feat

On Monday we suggested that Sydney Moss may have just had the single greatest season by a Division III basketball player ever. She was the consensus Player of the Year, was named the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament and led her undefeated team to a national championship.

There have been only eight seasons in which a player has done three things or was named All-Tournament in years where the Most Outstanding Player award was not given out. Today we’ll see how those eight seasons compare statistically.

The combination of explosive scoring ability and team success is rarer than you’d think.  Schweers is the only other player besides Moss to win the scoring title and take her team to the national semifinals. In fact, since 2000 only four scoring champions played on a team that won even one NCAA tournament game in the same season — Moss twice, Schweers and Megan Silva of Randolph-Macon in 2006. Most scoring champions played on teams that didn’t reach the NCAA tournament in the same season and a fair number come from programs that have never been in the NCAA tournament.

Day 3: Dynamic duo drove Wash U juggernaut

If you want to argue that another player’s season was better than Moss’ because it came against tougher competition in the regular season, then maybe you gravitate toward one of the elite seasons posted by the dynamic duo that played at Washington U.

Wash U players account for three of the eight elite seasons with Alia Fischer making the list twice. In 2000 she was WBCA Player of the Year, the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA tournament and led the Bears to a national championship with a perfect 30-0 record. We didn’t name a Player of the Year in 2000, but we named her first team All-American. 

Her junior season in 1999 was nearly as good, with another WBCA Player of the Year award and another undefeated national championship season. The NCAA didn’t name a Tournament MOP in 1999 but Fischer was named to the All-Tournament team. We named Fischer second team All-American behind regular season scoring champion and Gallaudet all-time great Ronda Jo Miller.

Which allows me to add my addendum – UW-St. Louis’ coach, the fabulous Nancy Fahey, clearly doesn’t have enough to do:

Nancy Fahey’s 30th season as women’s basketball coach at Washington University in St. Louis will have a new wrinkle to it.

The Belleville native and former University of Wisconsin athlete will have a formal role in the NCAA Division III school’s leadership team.

Fahey has been promoted to assistant director of athletics for the Bears, athletic director Josh Whitman announced Friday. Whitman, completing his first year since coming from UW-La Crosse, said Fahey will continue to serve as basketball coach.

Fahey currently serves as a member of the Senior Leadership Team, which meets regularly to discuss all matters pertaining to the department’s operation. She is also actively involved in staff recruitment, development of policies and procedures, and strategic planning.

Here’s more on coach Fahey:

Next up: the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she earned four varsity letters, started as point guard two years, and was selected team captain her senior year. Majoring in physical education, Fahey’s goal was to teach, but not necessarily to coach — that is until she and other Wisconsin basketball players worked as summer camp counselors.

“During the camp, we led stations, such as dribbling, passing and shooting. The first time I coached a station, I got lost in it. I didn’t see anyone else in the gym but the kids in front of me,” Fahey says. “From that moment, I gravitated to coaching, and all my focus went into that. To this day, I feel that singular focus when I walk onto a basketball court.”

The record AND the win!

(And no, I’m not talking about me watching a record number of games yesterday…)

Catch and the Fever (not related to KC and the Sunshine Band… or Peter and the Starcatcher) arrived in Phoenix and gave the Merc a good rap on the head. In the process, Tamika moved into 2nd place on the all-time rebounding list and Phoenix went 0-13 on threes.

Yah, you didn’t picture that coming: Mystics topple WNBA-best Lynx behind Latta’s offense, Ruffin-Pratt’s defense

Washington Mystics Coach Mike Thibault had challenged his club’s moxie entering Sunday’s showdown with an opponent widely considered the favorite to win a third WNBA title in five years.

Later in the week, players talked about how a victory over the Minnesota Lynx could alert the rest of the league that perhaps the Mystics belong in the championship conversation as well.

And: How the Mystics beat the WNBA’s best team: Latta and Lawson

Both the Minnesota Lynx and Washington Mystics came into Sunday afternoon’s game with a lot on the line. With the best record in the WNBA, the Lynx would look for a win to help them secure home court advantage throughout the playoffs, and Washington would look for a critical win to help them stand out in a packed Eastern Conference. Ultimately, Washington would come out on top. 77-69

And: Stefanie Dolson finds her comfort level, and Mystics benefit

Washington center Stefanie Dolson came to training camp in May looking a little nervous. It wasn’t that she hadn’t prepared well for her second season in the WNBA, because she definitely had. It wasn’t that she didn’t have confidence in herself, because that’s steadily been building since her days at UConn.

Dolson simply wanted to show she was ready to be an integral part of the Mystics, but she was almost getting in her own way in her early practices.

The Sparks took down Chicago behind Parker’s monster game… making me think that Minnesota is saying, “Lose, Tulsa, LOSE (so L.A. gets the 3rd or 2nd seed.)

BTW: Girls Rule, Boys Drool, Elena Delle Donne and Michelle Beadle style.

In Seattle, the Storm hosted Russell Wilson

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson took a break from training camp on Sunday to attend the Seattle Storm’s 72-63 victory over the San Antonio Silver Stars.

Wilson attended the game with his girlfriend, singer Ciara, his mother and his sister, Anna, who is a point guard entering her senior season in high school. She has committed to play at Stanford.

Russell has said in the past that Anna can beat him one-one-one. He also has called her the best athlete in the family.

Oh, and they beat San Antonio, too.

There are two ways Jewell Loyd communicates — playing basketball and barking.

On Sunday, the No. 1 overall draft pick did a lot of postgame wolfing after leading Seattle to a 72-63 win against the San Antonio Stars at KeyArena. Loyd had a team-high 18 points with six rebounds, four assists and no turnovers.

“We’re trying to find the inner dog within us,” said Loyd of herself, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Markeisha Gatling forming the “Dog Pack.” Loyd began the season asking to not start and has since grown to be named July’s rookie of the month.

Filling out the field: Australia, Canada women’s basketball teams qualify for Rio Olympics

Also: Australia’s Opals off to Rio Olympics after win over New Zealand Tall Ferns

OPALS coach Brendan Joyce expected New Zealand to “grow an arm and a leg” and it did, pushing Australia to the brink in an 80-63 Oceania classic in Tauranga.

Don’t let the blow-out nature of the final score fool you – the Tall Blacks gave Australia as much as it could handle and arguably its toughest game of the past three years, the world championship clash against the US exempted.

But in the end, Joyce’s veterans Laura Hodges and Suzy Batkovic, plus budding playmaker Tessa Lavey ensured the Opals would be heading for another Olympic campaign and medal chase in Rio.

Also: Canadian women’s basketball team wins Olympic spot – Kia Nurse leads host nation with 20 points in final match

Couple of things about the game:

Hey, that’s my sis! Darnell Nurse inspired by sister Kia’s performance in basketball this summer

Darnell Nurse doesn’t know how he can keep up with his younger sister Kia.

Kia helped Canada win the FIBA Americas women’s championship on Sunday night, clinching an Olympic berth at the 2016 Rio Games. She was also instrumental in Canada’s gold-medal performance at the Pan American Games in Toronto earlier this summer.

“I’m not sure what I can do,” said Darnell, a defenceman in the Edmonton Oilers’ organization. “Maybe I’ll have to get out of my comfort zone and challenge her to a one-on-one game on the street before I leave for Edmonton. We’ll see, I’ve got a lot of practising to do.”

Asked if he’d played Kia at basketball recently, Darnell said that discretion had been the better part of valour.

More on the Canadians – and women’s basketball history: Grads’ influence on women’s basketball a dream for Canadian crew – National team did a decent imitation this week at Saville Centre

This isn’t the first time that Edmonton has seen this kind of dominance in the women’s game, but there are very few people still alive who saw it the first time.

With each day they spend in Edmonton, whether training out of the Saville Community Sports Centre or chasing a spot in next year’s Olympic Games, Canada’s women’s basketball team is breathing life into the 100-year-old legacy of the Edmonton Grads — even if that legacy is somewhat under the radar.

Speaking of Canada: Basketball leader recognized

To see Keith Brown coaching at a basketball tournament one would see a quiet reserved gentleman, not your typical coach. However, the passion he has for the sport of basketball is evident.

It’s this passion and dedication to girls’ basketball, and its growth in Grand Falls-Windsor (GFW), that has earned him the award of “Minor Coach of the Year” from the Newfoundland Labrador Basketball Association (NLBA).

During the last basketball season, Keith coached three junior high basketball teams!

Girls’ basketball has grown over the years.  Brown’s passion, knowledge and love of the game has been beneficial to the basketball program in GFW.

Three years ago, it was the East and West Coast teams that were dominating basketball. This past season, Brown brought the sport of basketball to a whole new level with several gold and silver medal wins between his three teams.

Speaking of history (MA): Pioneering Spirit Part I: First a Tiger, then a Friar, Ipswich’s Benirowski Canty ruled the court

The girls athletic programs at Ipswich also blossomed during that period, especially basketball under coach Kiki Papagiotis. She carved out a Hall of Fame career at the school by producing a 209-37 record, including a state championship in 1979-80.

Papagiotis did it with some extraordinary players, of course. Kathy Paganis, who was a field hockey All-American, was one of the keys for the dominant basketball team along with Ellen Galanis, who was the first Ipswich girl to net a college scholarship, ending up at Division 2 Bentley in Waltham. Both Paganis and Galanis graduated in 1977.

Then along came future Ipswich Hall of Famer Jayne Benirowski, who became Jayne Benirowski Canty after she was married. She was the baby of that group, if you will, a sophomore when Paganis and Galanis were seniors.

In NCAA news: In light of the “new violations” self-reported by UNC, Doc Kennedy of the Tar Heel blog is trying to Sort Through The Silly and the Specious of the Weekend

I readily admit I was among those who had consigned Hatchell to the dustbin, given the weight of the NCAA mess coupled with the mass defections from her program by the outstanding recruiting class of 2013. But other than rampant speculation and the lack of an extension of a contract on which three years still remain, is there any evidence that Hatchell is being scapegoated or sacrificed to save Williams or the men’s team?

An editorial in the News & Observer offers their answer: A double standard at UNC-CH over contracts for Williams and Hatchell

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is already facing enough allegations in its academic and athletic fraud scandal to make it one of the broadest sets of charges against an athletic program in NCAA history. Somehow, however, the university’s leadership has found a way to add an entirely new allegation to the mess – sexism.

Encouraging: NYC Vows 500 More High School Teams for Girls

Last spring, administrators at Beacon High School in Manhattan handed out a survey to students.

Rising sophomore Anjali Rao says no explanation or context was given for the questionnaire, which probed her school’s sports offerings and her sports preferences.

The survey didn’t seem like a big deal to Rao. “Beacon is known for its sports,” said the 15 year old in a recent interview at Women’s eNews’ office here. “Girls play the same sports as boys.”

But the information gained from it–due out this fall from the New York Department of Education–may help the country’s largest school system provide girls with more team sports opportunities at its more than 400 high schools.

In February, the U.S. Department of Education determined that many female students in the system did not enjoy equal athletic “opportunities,” a violation of Title IX, the federal law mandating that all schools with public funding provide equitable educational opportunities and benefits; sports included. (A participation opportunity is defined as a roster spot for one athlete on one team in one sport.)

Two shout outs:

  1. To friend, friend of the blog, friend of women’s basketball Phil, who is putting together an amazing “Coaches reaching milestone wins.” HUGE amount of work, but essential so folks across the Divisions and high school get the recognition they deserve
  2. To the folks who have signed up to join me at the Maggie Dixon Classic in the Garden on Monday, December 28th. We’re up to 100. If you want to come with, drop me a line: womenshoopsblog @ gmail.com

Wheeeeee… Whoops!

So, the Lib went up to Connecticut and stomped all over the shorthanded Sun. They then returned to the Garden and stunk it up against Tulsa for three-and-a-half quarters. Then Boyd went “Hello, world!” and the Shock started their patented fourth quarter swoon. Lucky for them, there wasn’t enough time and there were too many missed free throws. Shock break their 10-game losing streak – but may have lost Plenette

BTW – was that a fabulous battle between Maya and Angel or what? But you’ve got to wonder, will the Lynx’s tendency to be generous to the opposition come back to bite’em?

Flashback! WNBA Players Talk Cheryl Miller vs. Reggie Miller (VIDEO)

Canada is one game away from Flying Down To Rio. In their way: Cuba. Watch the streaming here at 8:00 EST.

Speaking of Rio: Veteran women’s basketball ref sets sights on Olympics

Karen Lasuik is a veteran basketball referee who, like a clutch shooter at crunch time, wants to bury a career buzzer-beater, one of Olympian proportions at that.

The Edmonton native has fashioned an impressive cross-border career, working NCAA women’s games all over the Pacific Northwest, which has led to a rich portfolio of major international assignments from the 2007 Pan American Games to Universiade to two FIBA Americas Women’s Championship gigs, the 2012 junior world championships and the 2014 world championships, just to name a few.

Lasuik wants to punch her ticket to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as the capstone to an impressive international career.

Gone: University of Maryland Women’s Basketball Assistant Coach Resigns After Sexual Abuse Allegation

From WaPo: Women in Sports: Dispelling some myths

4. Title IX is hurting men’s sports.

Men’s college sports that don’t generate a profit — wrestling, tennis, gymnastics — are endangered species. To close multimillion-dollar budget shortfalls, athletic directors increasingly are dropping men’s sports teams and the scholarships and educational opportunities they represent. In response, the American Sports Council (formerly the College Sports Council) was created to rally support and spread the word that a wrongheaded application of Title IX, the U.S. law that guarantees equal opportunity for men and women at schools receiving federal funds, is the culprit.

“The long-term impact,” Eric Pearson, the organization’s chairman, wrote in the National Review, “… is that colleges will continue to eliminate men’s teams in order to comply with Title IX’s gender quota.”

It’s a fallacy. 

Now, get out the popcorn – after the USWNT game is done (GOOOOOOOOAL!) you can watch a slew of WNBA games. When Canda-CUBA comes on, just swing back and forth tween computer screen and TV. It’s how we roll….