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Are you ready to RUMBLE?!?!?!

Here’s hoping that, now that we got what we want, we get what we want… No pressure.

The 2017 WNBA Finals is almost certainly going to be one of the best series ever

EPSN: 20 Questions: Another Sparks-Lynx final

Amsterdam News: Sparks/Lynx rematch in WNBA finals

SB Nation: WNBA’s new playoff format has Lynx-Sparks rivalry front and center

Swish Appeal: Iconic rematch looms, LA Sparks prepare for ‘War of Wills’

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Finals rematch between Lynx and Sparks coming

The matchup

MSR News Online: WNBA Finals preview

.com: The First Finals Rematch

Minnesota Lynx: WNBA Finals provides another chapter in riveting rivalry

WNBA BPI: Lynx have slight edge over Sparks

After sweeping their way through the semifinals, both the Minnesota Lynx and Los Angeles Sparks have a chance to complete the third perfect postseason since the WNBA Finals moved to a best-of-five series in 2005.

However, the BPI predicts that this year’s Finals, which open Sunday (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET), have a 37.5 percent chance to go the full five games for the third straight year.

Listen up! The Rematch

LaChina Robinson gears up for the WNBA Finals rematch! She previews the Lynx-Sparks matchup with Liberty associate coach and 2x WNBA champion Katie Smith then chats with the Lynx’s Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore.

More Listen Up: The Summitt Slack Summit: Previewing the WNBA Finals

LA Stuff

Mechelle: Odyssey Sims steps up her game in first season with Sparks

Sometimes the “right” fit actually isn’t. Consider Los Angeles Sparks guard Odyssey Sims, who is from Dallas, went to Baylor, and was drafted No. 2 by the Tulsa Shock in 2014. The Shock then became the Wings when they moved to Dallas in 2016, so Sims was back in her hometown. Worked out perfectly.

Except … not really.

Players’ Tribune: Write Your Story, Babygirl

It seemed like nobody knew his real name. People just called him Picture Man.

Paterson, New Jersey, where I grew up, is the hood … the inner city … the ghetto … whatever you want to call it. And a lot of people have nicknames in the hood — funny nicknames, mean nicknames, really stupid nicknames, nicknames that make no sense at all, gang nicknames, everything. Picture Man got his name because he was always taking photos. You’d see him riding around on his bike. He’d stop to snap a picture of a fire hydrant, a street sign, a family cookout or whatever, and then he’d ride away. It was kind of unheard of, in our part of town, for someone to be into photography like that, so Picture Man was seen as a weirdo. A loner. “Different.” We loved him anyway. He was so mysterious to me, like there was a whole world about him that I didn’t know. To this day, I don’t think I ever learned his real name.

But I’ll never forget where I was when I heard the gunshots that ended his life.

Lynx stuff

CBS Minnesota: Lynx Seek Redemption Against Sparks As They Chase 4th Championship

She coulda been a Lib: Minnesota veteran Rebekkah Brunson reinvents her game

Long respected as a premier rebounder and defender, this season Brunson added a 3-point element. It followed a request from Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve, who needed Brunson, Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen to expand their range to pull defenders from center Sylvia Fowles. Before this season, Brunson attempted only 12 3-pointers in 13 years, making two. This season she put up 66 and sank 23, good for 34.8 percent accuracy from beyond the arc.

Yardbarker: After a decade in the WNBA, MVP Sylvia Fowles is ready for the spotlight

Pioneer Press: If Lynx are to beat Sparks, Maya Moore has to score against WNBA’s best defender

Gopher Sports: Whalen, Lynx Start Finals at Williams on Sunday

We’re number 1! Lynx, Delle Donne lead WNBA merchandising

As expected: Wings’ Allisha Gray wins WNBA Rookie of the Year award

Truth: Jonquel Jones Has ‘Incredible Year 2’

You stay put: Sun Coach Curt Miller Rewarded With Contract Extension

Important: Once compared to Michael Jordan, ex-WNBA star shares suicide struggles at Oxnard College

NCAA

Women’s basketball Final Four bid cycle for 2021-24 to begin (Hello, West Coast? But what about ESPN and those pesky time zones?)

A different kind of Phoenix: Arizona Wildcats, Adia Barnes recruiting among women’s college basketball’s powerhouses

Bye: Report: Jinaya Houston won’t return to Iowa women’s basketball

Finances are real: Facing Massive Cut, UConn Fires Back at Legislature With Geno Auriemma

’cause it was as bad a marketing decision as “New Coke”: Tennessee women’s golf team wears Lady Vols hats, brings tears to senior

International

Intersting: German Olaf Langer appointed head coach for Russian women’s basketball team

USA Basketball: 2017 USA Women’s National Team Training Camp Set To Tip Next Week

National Team head coach Dawn Staley(South Carolina), the roster includes WNBA stars Sue Bird (Seattle Storm); Layshia Clarendon (Atlanta Dream); Elena Delle Donne (Washington Mystics); Skylar Diggins-Smith (Dallas Wings); Stefanie Dolson (Chicago Sky); Brittney Griner(Phoenix Mercury); Tiffany Hayes (Atlanta Dream); Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm); Kayla McBride (San Antonio Stars); Kelsey Plum (San Antonio Stars); Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm); Kiah Stokes (New York Liberty); Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury); Morgan Tuck(Connecticut Sun); and Courtney Williams (Connecticut Sun). Current collegiate All-Americans who will take part in the camp include: Napheesa Collier (Connecticut); Asia Durr (Louisville); Kelsey Mitchell (Ohio State); Katie Lou Samuelson (Connecticut) and A’ja Wilson (South Carolina).

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“Go hard or go home” time

Look who’s lurking….

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Phoenix and Washington need to dig deep or else we’re going to get the rematch everyone wants a little faster than everyone wants.

3pm, Mystics v. Lynx

Albert Lee, Bullets Forever: Mystics vs. Lynx game 3 preview: Washington fights to stay alive

What’s at stake?

It’s obvious. If the Mystics win, they’ll host Game 4 at Georgetown University on Tuesday. If they lose, the season’s over.

This season was certainly a different one for me than many past Mystics seasons. In some years like 2011 and 2012, they were just horrible and hope was hard to come by. But in the last four years of the Mike Thibault Era, I saw good moments, but I knew that the Mystics still had no hope of a championship regardless of how well the team played.

Minneapolis Star Tribune: WNBA semifinals Game 3 preview: Lynx at Washington

Ava Wallace, Washington Post: ‘A well-oiled machine’: Minnesota Lynx roll toward sixth WNBA Finals in seven years

Reeve’s yelling is a normal pregame scene for Minnesota. Moore, a devout Christian, gets too engrossed in her warmup drills to remember to head down to the team’s chapel service before every game, an important part of the 2014 WNBA MVP’s routine. Mid-interview or not, it’s Reeve’s job to remind her.

It’s one of the many tiny details Reeve and the Lynx take care of to keep the WNBA powerhouse thriving.

Fox Sports: Sparks look to dismiss Mercury, advance to Finals

Summitt Hoops: Sparks lead Mercury 2-0, can close out series in Phoenix

.com: 1-On-1 With 2017 WNBA MVP Sylvia Fowles

5pm Mercury v. Sparks

Jeff Metcalfe, AZCentral, Mercury face elimination at home against Sparks in WNBA semifinals

Sandy Brondello believes there is a path to beating the WNBA defending champion Los Angeles Sparks.

Whether her Phoenix Mercury can make it down that road Sunday to remain alive in the league semifinals and avert a second consecutive 3-0 exit from the final four will require corrections on both ends of the floor.

Mike Guardabascio, San Gabriel Valley Tribune: Sparks look to close out Mercury in WNBA semifinals

After a pair of double-digit wins in Southern California, the Sparks will try to make it a clean sweep when their best-of-five WNBA semifinal series shifts to Phoenix on Sunday.

Sparks head coach Brian Agler said he doesn’t think his team has played its best basketball yet, which should concern a Mercury team that hasn’t been able to stay with the defending WNBA champions down the stretch.

Eli Horowitz, Excelle: Sparks backcourt duo becoming impossible to guard

We know about former MVPs Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike. Alana Beard just won Defensive Player of the Year. But as the Los Angeles Sparks took a 2-0 series lead against the Phoenix Mercury Thursday night, something else became clear: the backcourt duo of Chelsea Gray and Odyssey Sims makes the Sparks offense nearly impossible to guard.

Mechelle, ESPN: Brittney Griner’s toughest obstacles are already behind her

Phoenix center Brittney Griner saw the worst-case scenario flash before her eyes as she felt pain ripping through her body. She thought her WNBA season was over, and her upcoming overseas season wouldn’t happen.

“I started freaking out,” said Griner of the gruesome-looking double injury she suffered on July 14 against Minnesota. “Everybody was kind of holding me and saying, ‘OK, calm down. What hurts?’ And I was like, ‘Everything hurts!'”

Talk: (all due respect, why can’t we improve the audio quality of LaChina’s gig) WNBA Roundtable Part II

More Talk: Dishin & Swishin Podcast: Curt Miller on WNBA Semi-finals and the Sun

NCAA

Congrats: Paris to Return to OU For Jersey Honoring Nov. 10

NCAA.com: UConn basketball: For the Huskies, new faces are everywhere

Thank you: Bagwell to coach Bearcats one final time

Sitting behind his desk in an office surrounded by newspaper articles, trophies and score sheets that decorate the walls from top to bottom, Bagwell reflects on just how different coaching was 40 years ago.

“If I wanted to call a recruit and I was out, or if I wanted to call back to the office, I’d have to stop at a truck stop and dial their number,” Bagwell said. “Eventually I had a credit card and I’d have to dial in a bunch of numbers, then the dadgum number would be busy and I’d have to start all over. I don’t know how we survived, but we did.”

Four years after inheriting the women’s basketball program, Bagwell had Lander on a 19-game win streak, on its way to a No. 3 ranking and a 21-3 record.

 

but it’s still tough to have both series at 0-2.

Mystics were a handful, but the Lynx found their groove (as did MVP Big Syl) and secured the win. Oh, and that player that had been out for a bit came back.

The Sparks weren’t playing, shutting down BG and running to a 86-72 win.

LA Times: Sparks turn back Mercury to take 2-0 series lead

The Sparks are playing their best basketball at exactly the right moment.

“I think tonight we did resemble a little bit more of the way we finished the regular season,” Sparks coach Brian Agler said. “Offensively we were more aggressive, moved the ball better.

“I do think we keep getting better. I envision that. And we’re going to need to keep improving.”

A little reflection: How a three minute trade altered the fates of two WNBA franchises

Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

The Los Angeles Sparks were on the clock at the 2016 WNBA Draft and had three minutes to make a selection with the sixth overall pick.

With the draft being held in their home arena, the Connecticut Sun were watching the Sparks more closely than any other team. Having already made two first-round selections, Connecticut wanted to make one more. And the team’s staff knew who they wanted to take: George Washington University forward/center Jonquel Jones.

During 180 seconds that would change the future of both teams, the Sun sent the 15th and 23rd picks in the draft, its first round pick in 2017 and guard Chelsea Gray to the Sparks for the draft rights to Jones and the 17th pick in the draft.

It is infrequent in sports when a trade is mutually beneficial for both teams and actually makes both trade partners better. But that’s what this one did, as both teams are still reaping the benefits of this particular deal.

Yea: Sylvia Fowles, WNBA star, finds peace in unlikely post-career plan

When Sylvia Fowles broke her nose in May, she did not flinch.

In a game between Fowles’ Minnesota Lynx and the San Antonio Stars, the Stars rookie Nia Coffey, full of naive bravado, decided to challenge Fowles, the three-time WNBA defensive player of the year.

Fowles took a palm to her nose in the confrontation at the rim, but Coffey received the brunt of the impact. Her shot was blocked with so much force that it sounded like a volleyball spike; Coffey was duly sent to the ground and had to be helped up by a teammate.

To reinforce the lesson, Fowles stood tall, snarling down from her 6-foot-6, 211-pound frame, without once checking her nose.

Though both Connecticut and New York had homecourt advantage AND a nice lead, they walked away empty handed. Having been on my way to the Garden during the Sun-Merc second half, it’s hard to render a “judgment” about the nature of their loss – youth or the “Taurasi effect”?

CBS: Taurasi’s 11-0 In Elimination Games, Mercury Beat Sun 88-83

Yardbarker: Don’t bet against Diana: Takeaways from the first two rounds of the WNBA playoffs

Journal Inquirer: Taurasi deals Sun a setback

Bahamans Tribune: Jonquel Shines In Wnba Playoff Debut, Sun Go Home

Hartford Courant: Second-Half Letdown A Stunning Conclusion To Fine WNBA Season For Sun

I did witness the Lib suffer a “Tina-Charles-is-our-only-scoring-big and our guards couldn’t pick up the slack against the Mystics bigs…” And, oh yes, Toliver was un.con.cious. What a sight to see.

The Diamondback sits up and takes notice: Former Terp Kristi Toliver breaks WNBA single-game 3-pointer record

Excelle has Three reasons why the Washington Mystics upset the New York Liberty in the WNBA playoffs

Bullets Forever: Mystics make their first WNBA semifinals appearance since 2002

Washington Post’s Ava Wallace: Kristi Toliver’s season-high 32 points send Mystics into WNBA semifinals

There have been times when it looked as if the Washington Mystics were teetering, standing at a pivot point that could define the rest of their season. At home in July, two games after they lost Tayler Hill to a knee injury that would cost her the remainder of the season and Elena Delle Donne to a sprained ankle for a few games. Against Phoenix and Diana Taurasi in August, with a playoff seed on the line. Both times, Kristi Toliver embraced the pressure.

She dug in again Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

Props to the delightfully annoying Mystics fans who made the trip north, group-wore red and cheered their team on. You showed up, and so did your team.

Not so much props to the body language of the Lib. Does make me wonder how long Trader Bill will be around. That Thomas guy did take credit for the Lib’s growth – will he accept responsibility for their inability to get past the single game elimination? Michael Cooper’s not busy… and where’s Julie Plank?

Newsday: Liberty ousted by Mystics in single-elimination playoff game

Swish Appeal: Toliver’s 9 threes, 32 points devastate Liberty as Mystics advance

And sure, it would be great if the second round wasn’t single elimination. BUT – fans and money and… heck, it’s an NCAA-esque environment! Win or go home. *sob*

SB has 3 things we learned from a record-setting second round of the WNBA playoffs

ESPN’s editor’s picks: Mercury’s Griner, Mystics’ Delle Donne dominate first round

What’s next: Take a deep breath and jump in! (And don’t let the BPI dishearten you: Expect Sparks-Lynx to meet again in WNBA Finals.)

ESPN: Top seeds Lynx, Sparks pose tough challenges for Mystics, Mercury in semis

WNBA semifinals podcast roundtable preview

Host Howard Megdal is joined by Lindsay Gibbs, who has covered the Washington Mystics, Ben Dull, reporter focusing on the Los Angeles Sparks, and Brendon Kleen, who has been on the Phoenix Mercury beat, to discuss the upcoming WNBA semifinals involving those three teams and, of course, the Minnesota Lynx.

Excelle: 12 takeaways playoff preview: Los Angeles Sparks gear up for surging Phoenix Mercury

AZCentral: Mercury taking on rival Sparks in fifth straight WNBA final four

Fox Sports: Next challenge for Mercury: Defending champion Sparks

Minneapolis Star Tribune: WNBA semifinals preview: Lynx vs. Washington

Summitt Hoops: The Washington Mystics are riding the wave, and Kristi Toliver’s hot hand

AP: Whalen Back At Williams Arena For WNBA Playoffs

Also, if you want to kill some time: AP Video: Players test out first WNBA video game

NCAA

The Slipper Still Fits: Introducing one of the best recruiting classes ever for Gonzaga Women’s Basketball

International

Why hasn’t FIBA/Spain told us where the World Championships are being held? Don’t they know I want to buy plane tickets??? Sheesh. In the meantime, Paul gives us some info that reassures me the September tournament ought to be amazing: What does my own 2017 World Ranking Women look like?

Brunch and Basketball, anyone?

It’s been a hot minute since the Mystics dispatched the Wings and the Merc muffled the Storm, so it’s understandable if you’re a little antsy for today’s games to start. Toss in the pressure of them being one-and-done/not dones, and wheeeeee!!! Excelle has Three things to know about each second round match-up

3pm: It’s all about the heat as “sure they’ve got BG and Diana but who are those other players” Phoenix goes up against “Oh, lordy, it’s gonna be an awful season…wait” coach-of-the-year Curt Miller’s Connecticut team.

Mechelle’s feeling bold: Expect New York to extend its win streak — and Phoenix to pull an upset

A marquee one-on-one matchup is one of the most fun things to watch. And that will be the case Sunday when post players Brittney Griner and Jonquel Jones clash as Phoenix travels to Connecticut in the second round of the WNBA playoffs.

Griner, the Mercury center who led the WNBA in scoring this season (21.9 PPG), is a past WNBA champion and an Olympic gold medalist. In her fifth WNBA season, she has taken on added responsibility for the Mercury and sparked them with 23 points and 11 rebounds Wednesday in a first-round victory over Seattle.

Yea, mini-Mi!!! Arizona Central: Shortest player in WNBA coming up big for Mercury as starting point guard

Since the Phoenix Mercury changed their starting lineup to include 5-5 point guard Leilani Mitchell, they are 4-0 and into the second round of the playoffs, a single-elimination game Sunday at Connecticut. During that stretch, 6-9 center Brittney Griner is averaging 28.2 points on 54.7 percent shooting and looking again like the best player in the league as she did before an injury July 14 took her out for a month.

Thanks, Katie! Former WNBA star buys block of tickets for children

5pm: Up-and-at’em East Coast teams! (And congrats to 6th woman Sugar and Comeback Piph!)

Bullets Forever believes Good things are happening for the Mystics heading into their NY Liberty playoff game

Most people did not think that the Mystics would get by the Dallas Wings in round one. For good reason, the Mystics had not proven in the regular season that they could with-stand a ‘punch’ – literally and figuratively – and not blow a game.

They blew huge leads against the Connecticut Sun, 22 points ahead, and against the LA Sparks, a 17 point lead, during the season.

What impressed me about the win over Dallas was the fact that they came out swinging from the jump.

The Washington Post offers up that stitched up Delle Donne has found a home in D.C.

Twice now, this 6-foot-5 basketball prodigy has taken her career, and her life, into her own hands with startling force.

The first time, Elena Delle Donne left in the middle of the night. She was 18, burned out, homesick and unwilling to cede any more of herself to the sport. She returned home to Delaware from the University of Connecticut for what she needed — a reprieve — before finding her way back to basketball on her own time and eventually becoming the No. 2 pick in the WNBA draft.

She left again nine years later, this time after spending the first four years of her professional career with the Chicago Sky.

.com has a preview and some X-Factors To Watch For.

ESPN says Improved Mystics offense could test Liberty

Newsday’s Mike Rose: Liberty hopes to stay hot Sunday in playoff game

The Liberty rolls into the playoffs as the WNBA’s hottest team with a 10-game winning streak.

One game, however, can change everything.

NY Post’s Marc Berman gives some guy named Thomas a lot of credit for this: Liberty could set franchise record as WNBA playoffs begin

“Ten in a row doesn’t really mean a whole lot except for playoff seeding,’’ Liberty coach and Thomas’ buddy Bill Laimbeer said. “In the one and done, you lose the next game and you’re out. Our players understand from last year the importance of one game.’’

In other news: The WNBA’s video game debut is a classic win-win. Publicity grab and all

We’re not surprised: Shocking But True: WNBA Has More Fans In Its 21st Season Than The NBA Had In Its 21st Season

While biding her time, The Lynx’s Seimone Augustus appreciates the good times

Brava: Liberty’s Tina Charles receives August WNBA Cares Community Assist Award

I have so many questions: Offseason to-do list: Dallas Wings need to bring Australian star Liz Cambage back to the WNBA

A different kind of ring: Notre Dame women’s basketball: Muffet McGraw takes rightful place in Naismith Hall of Fame and Pursuit of perfection leads Muffet McGraw to Naismith Hall of Fame and Hall Of Fame Ceremony: Muffet McGraw Speech

Joining her: Jeff Jacobs: From UConn To Springfield, Rebecca Lobo Always Had Her Hall Of Fame Family and Rebecca Lobo’s Incredible Journey to Basketball Royalty and From UConn legend to leading analyst, Rebecca Lobo gets call to Naismith Hall of Fame

Planning for Spain, anyone? Taurasi, Bird among 30 players invited to US training camp (and no Parker or Angel)

The Daily Citizen: Title IX 45 years later: ‘We have come a long way, baby’ (and then DeVos arrived)

Pencils Down.

So, now the playoff seedings are set.

Minnesota finished with the league’s best record for the fifth time in seven years.

“That was crucial, getting the top seed,” Lynx center Sylvia Fowles said in a telephone interview Sunday. “We understood we made it hard for ourselves, but we came in and got those last three games.”

Mechelle writes: 

The Lynx aren’t the only team going into the playoffs with a full head of steam. So is defending champion Los Angeles, which is the No. 2 seed and, like Minnesota, has a double-bye into the best-of-five semifinals, which start Sept. 12. The Sparks (26-8) beat Connecticut 81-70 on Sunday for their seventh consecutive victory.

New York, the No. 3 seed at 22-12, is even hotter, having won 10 straight games. The Liberty will get a first-round bye along with Connecticut (21-13).

*all sing* Just in time, you came back just in time….”: Whalen will return to Lynx practice Wednesday

See you Wednesday – not you, Lindsay, YOU:

Dallas at Washington: (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Seattle at Phoenix: (10 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Women’s watch: No playoff run for Sky, but teamwork showed 

Also: Sloot, there it is! Record holder for single-season assists average (8.1 APG)

Jump! From Tina Charles t o Jonquel Jones: “If anyone should break it, glad it’s this young phenom Congrats!” as Sun forward Jonquel Jones sets WNBA single-season rebound record

 NCAA

Two pathsTennessee chancellor Beverly Davenport ‘deeply values’ Lady Vols name and Tennessee Lady Vols are not boxed in by team unity issues

Tennessee isn’t thinking outside the box in terms of trying to forge a better sense of team unity within its women’s basketball program.

The Lady Vols have favored team-building exercises throughout coach Holly Warlick’s tenure, which is entering its sixth season.

This year is no different, except that they have been using more of these activities, assistant coach Dean Lockwood said last week. And one such activity revolved around what was inside the box.

Good job: UK basketball telethon raises $1 million for Hurricane Harvey relief

No H8California’s travel regulations only a small complication for CSUB

The California state legislature has thrown a curveball to college athletic departments around the state, including that of Cal State Bakersfield.

On Jan. 1, regulations in Assembly Bill 1887 went into effect that significantly curtailed state-sponsored travel to states with laws considered discriminatory by the California legislature. 

International

Family more important than gold for paralympian

It wasn’t until her senior year in college at Doane that she discovered adaptive sports. After trying her hand at sitting volleyball, Schneider was asked how she felt about giving basketball a spin. Because she was still able to walk, she figured she was ineligible to play wheelchair basketball. Once she learned such wasn’t the case, a star was born.

“I started playing in the fall of 2005 and it just kind of took off,” she said.

Shortly after joining the Madonna Magic wheelchair basketball team, she added a second team representing the University of Arizona to her schedule. Her success with both programs led to a tryout with the 2008 USA Women’s paralympic team.

From the New Yorker: The Fight Over Women’s Basketball in Somalia

Aisha got her first call from the terrorists when she was fourteen. It was 2013, and she was at home, in Mogadishu, Somalia, when an unknown number appeared on her phone. She picked up. The man on the other end told her that Islam does not allow women to play sports, or to wear shirts and pants. It was immodest and indecent, he said. His voice was harsh and menacing. He told her that he was going to kill her if she didn’t stop playing basketball. The next day, another man called to say the same thing.

Aisha changed her phone number three times, but the calls kept coming, and she became convinced that someone at the mobile-phone company was giving out her contact information. After a while, Aisha began to argue with the callers, telling them that she was going to do whatever she wanted. When they threatened to kill her, she responded that only God was permitted to be in control of people’s souls. She was just a teen-age girl, but even she knew that—unlike these supposedly pious men.

Snick. Snick. Sni….

Just like a good rainy day puzzle project, the complicated WNBA playoff picture is almost complete. And, just like when I did puzzles as a kid (and sometimes now), we’re clutching the last piece in our hand so we can be the “and it’s done” person. In the case of the W, we’re looking at Washington, Dallas and Seattle, New York, Connecticut, Minnesota, Los Angeles…EVERYONE has a stake in today’s games. WOOT!!!!

PROGRAM NOTE: Wings v. Liberty is STREAMING. 2pmET: What the Dallas Wings have left to play for in season finale after clinching WNBA playoff spot

4pm:  Seeding on line for Sun, Sparks in finale

4pm: Phoenix/Atlanta – Dream end season against playoff-bound Mercury and Mercury can finish as WNBA No. 5 playoff seed with win Sunday

4pm: Washington/Minnesota – Preview: Lynx vs. Mystics

6pm: Seattle/Chicago – Sky, Storm go different ways after regular-season finale

Boogie Down, y’all: Gabrielle Union and the LA Sparks threw a locker-room dance party after a win

From Alana: Five Toughest to Guard

I used to always want to make the big play — the big steal, the big block. But great defense isn’t always flashy — it’s work. Unrelenting work. This year, Coach has reminded me of that. And that sometimes, players are going to make shots. That’s O.K., as long as I make it the toughest shot possible.

That’s been my mentality this year for the Sparks: Make every shot someone takes the hardest one they’ve ever taken.

Now, we’ve got the playoffs coming up and a championship to work toward. So, Players’ Tribune, you know I can’t give away all my secrets. But you asked for my list of the five toughest players to guard and I’m about the people.

Yes! Lynx’s success rewarded by WNBA with 2018 All-Star Game at Target Center

And counting: LI’s Sue Bird breaks WNBA career assists record. And yes, WNBA assists leader Sue Bird has always been consummate point guard

Seattle’s Sue Bird said one of the best compliments she has ever received came from one of her counterparts, Chicago’s Courtney Vandersloot.

“She said, ‘When you’re off the court, I can tell there’s a difference. It’s not the same,’ ” Bird said. “Especially coming from a fellow point guard, that was really nice. Because when you’re on the court, you want to have a presence. To make your teammates feel at ease, more than anything.”

For 15 seasons in the WNBA, Bird has been doing just that for her teammates, and feeding them the ball as well. In fact, we officially can say now that no one in league history has done that better.

It’s been a tough, tough year – but there’s been no quit in San Antonio. Not unlike this kid: McBride closes WNBA season with big effort in San Antonio win

As expected: WNBA teams, players step up to help Texas after hurricane

Oh, and I’m not crying, YOU’RE crying: ‘I wouldn’t be here’ if it wasn’t for Tina Charles

NCAA

Impressive: 3 years after she was shot, former Lincoln basketball star is going pro

“After I got shot, I was just reflecting on why I’m really playing basketball and why I’m really out here in these streets. I love basketball and I love making my family proud. I love them smiling and them talking about me playing the sport I love.”

Those tears were replaced with smiles on Aug. 16 when Bey was honored by the Jersey City City Council. Several key figures in her life, including Lincoln coach Tom Best, vice principal and Ward B Councilman Chris Gadsden and several others, talked about her accomplishments starting at Lincoln and continuing at both Monroe and Stetson University, where she played the last two seasons and earned a bachelor’s degree in digital arts.

But of course: Mississippi State Extends Women’s Basketball Head Coach Vic Schaefer’s Contract

Bye: Sophomore guard Bradshaw gone from Dawn Staley’s Gamecocks and lands in Dayton.

Awesome: Central Michigan’s Weston To Receive Lifetime Achievement Award I was fortunate enough to speak with Marcy about the early days of wbb officiating. REALLY interesting!

One of the practical challenges facing coaches and officials is the question of collegiality. Gone are the days when, recalled Weston, the two worlds mingled freely and officials all but donated their services. Schools saved money by having the officials ride the team bus, coaches all but picked their referees and thought nothing of going out for dinner after a game. “Did anyone say you cheated?” asks Weston. “No. They hired you because they thought you were the best around. They thought you were relatively fair, not perfect.”

A Congrats! that led to a WATN? Texas Tech inducted 10 into the South West Conferecnce Hall of Fame, including Alicia Thompson. She played for the Liberty, Fever and Storm., Now a teacher, started coaching at Lubbock High in 2015. From Feb 2016:

This has been a girls’ basketball season for the books; after going 3-4 in district and 9-18 overall, the varsity girls head into the playoffs for the first time in school history. This has also been a memorable year for first year head coach, Coach Thompson.

“Words cannot describe what it means to us as a team,” said Thompson. “It has been a phenomenal season, and it means so much for us to make history for this program and for Lubbock High.”

Speaking of WATN? Sammy Prahalis named head coach at Ward Melville

“Playing against Commack will be completely sick, but I’m super-excited about it,” said Prahalis, a six-year varsity starter for the Cougars from 2002-08. “This was the plan all along. To come back to Long Island and coach.”

Speaking of WATN-2?  Where Does Fake News Come From? Kate Starbird’s research on social media in the wake of disasters uncovers a web of disinformation.

@veteranstoday: Orlando nightclub shooting: Yet another false flag? — http://veteranstoday.com/2016/06/12/orlando/ looks like another PR extravaganza

This tweet links to a story claiming that law enforcement fabricated the report of a Muslim security guard who killed 49 people in June 2016 at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla. The slayings were more likely carried out by professional assassins hired by the FBI, suggested the story, which was published on the website Veterans Today. The supposed motive: Muhammad Ali had just died, and authorities needed to counteract the positive PR his death had engendered for Islam.

“It made my hair stand up,” says Kate Starbird, ’97, an assistant professor of human centered design and engineering at the University of Washington.