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FIBA says, “NYET!”

to Russian basketball. 

The Russian Basketball Federation was suspended Wednesday by FIBA, meaning it could miss the European Championship that doubles as an Olympic qualifier.

The suspension comes after two years of infighting at the federation, which culminated last month when a Russian court ordered new elections for all senior federation posts.

An earlier court ruling overturned the federation’s 2013 presidential election result, in which Yulia Anikeeva defeated former WNBA player Svetlana Abrosimova, who alleged there were many breaches of election rules.

It doesn’t impact the women, since they’d already failed to qualify for Rio, but it does put a damper on any momentum the U19 team may have generated. Wonder if Putin thinks FIBA deserves a Nobel?

Canada says, “Heck yes!” Creating buzz for FIBA Americas Women’s Basketball Championship should be a slam dunk

Katherine and Michelle Plouffe shot a little hoops in Sir Winston Churchill Square on Wednesday to help drum up interest in the FIBA Americas Women’s Basketball Championship which runs from Aug. 9-16.

It shouldn’t be difficult.

What’s not to like about Canada’s national women’s basketball team, two local stars in the mix, gunning for a 2016 Olympic berth at the Saville Centre?

San Antonio says, “Awwwwww, maaaaaan!” WNBA suspends Stars’ Adams for three games) and then cruised over the Dream.

Phoenix says, “This is a tank-free zone,” as the Sky and Merc kicked off the second half of the season with an OT doozy pitting Delle Donne against Bonner. A Griner block helped seal the win. The Guardian asks: Brittney Griner and Elena Delle Donne: the Magic and Bird of the WNBA?

Thirty-four years after Bird and Magic debuted in the NBA, a pair of paradigm-changing young standouts, Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury and Elena Delle Donne of the Chicago Sky, joined the WNBA in 2013. Now each in their third season, the two stand poised to define their league through a rivalry that could elevate the league in much the same way Bird and Magic did for the men.

“Rivalries are good in every league,” the Indiana Fever’s Tamika Catchings said of Griner and Delle Donne. “Something to build a story around. Something compelling. Both of them have had success, and Elena has had the best year of her WNBA career. So that’s exciting to watch and be a part of.

Indiana says, “Snap!” and “We LOVE traveling between back-to-backs” as they earned an OT victory (Thank you, Catch) in Connecticut and then returned to Indiana to defeat the Liberty, ending New York’s five-game winning streak.

Minnesota says “Welcome back! (not)” to Candace Parker as Moore and Whalen as “The Professorpowered the Lynx to a win over L.A.

Seattle says, “You have much to learn, grasshopper.” Learning curve: Storm’s rookies figuring out WNBA

Dallas-Fort Worth says, “Think of the children!” A welcome Shock: WNBA team likely to inspire Dallas-area girls

The WNBA’s arrival in Arlington next year could do more for local girls than just offer them another affordable entertainment option. Basketball Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman compared the Shock’s relocation from Tulsa to a historic moment she witnessed 40 years ago in New York City.

In 1975, the teenage Lieberman was at Madison Square Garden for the first women’s college basketball game at that legendary venue. The matchup between Queens College and Immaculata University was played just a few years after Title IX legislation targeted gender discrimination in education and as women’s sports was gaining momentum.

So, what did we learn

from the U19 Championships? Ask Paul!

A is for All-Star Five and congratulations to A’ja WilsonNapheesa CollierAlanna SmithDaria Kolosovskaia and Maria Vadeeva. I would also throw into the mix Louise DambachEmese HofLaura QuevedoRaisa MusinaJulie Allemand and Ksenia Levchenko and Azura Stevens for my terrific 12.

B is for blowouts and regrettably there were far too many throughout the competition.

C is for competition format. Twelve teams is a maximum for women’s youth events and four spots for the Americas is at least one too many in the current mix.

D is for Dawn Staley, the winning coach from the USA who I thought did a good job considering the loss of key personnel ahead and during the tournament.

I’ll add my A for Announcers. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the team that handled the games. It was like having two Kara Lawsons working side-by-side, reminding viewers of what basketball announcing should be – player knowledge, history and game analysis.

W news…

So, have you decided who got the best of the trade?

Mike weighs in: Who won three-way trade?

WHAT ATLANTA GETS

Atlanta’s participation likely made this arrangement possible, as a direct trade between Chicago and Minnesota was difficult to fathom with their available assets. Expected to be a contender in the East early in the season, Atlanta’s campaign has been nothing short of a mess. Shoni Schimmel’s lack of conditioning and a mismanagement of resources on the floor has been a baffling endeavor for head coach Michael Cooper; in Atlanta’s last game before the All-Star break, a 97-92 road loss to Chicago, he seemed unaware of the foul tally with McCoughtry and Tiffany Hayes, costing them crucial minutes in a close game.

Schimmel’s stamina is returning to last year’s form, but the Dream no longer have a proven center. Their involvement in the trade was interpreted as a tacit admission that a rebuilding phase was more likely than a run at a championship. With a pair of 22-year-olds and five 2016 draft picks to this point, such a philosophy is believable.

Mechelle (edit: hate auto correct! you think it would know by now) weighs in: Three-team trade boosts Lynx, Sky

Minnesota really wants to win the 2015 WNBA championship. Chicago is hoping that it made the best of a very difficult situation. And Atlanta, while not giving up on making the playoffs this year, is looking more toward the future. Those are the general takeaways from the big three-team trade announced Monday.

Wonder how Marynell Meadors is doing. What, too soon?

David offers up an Eastern Conference team-by-team midseason review: A close race but blockbuster trade may shake things up

NEW YORK LIBERTY (12-5, 1st place)

If one team did not want to see the All-Star break, it was Bill Laimbeer’s Liberty. They are on a five-game winning streak, coinciding with the return of Epiphanny Prince from her obligations in Russia and insertion in the starting lineup. Prince and All-Star Tina Charles are the only Liberty players averaging double figures, but it seems to be Charles (17.2 ppg, 9.3 rpg) and someone else stepping up night in and night out. One night it is Sugar Rodgers hitting big shots, another it is Kiah Stokes dominating on the defensive end.

“We just have to stay disciplined in who we are,” says Charles. “It’s definitely been working for us to be number one in the East right now. We are just going to stay disciplined in who the Liberty is and just competing out there.

Keep an eye on: Four of the Liberty’s last five games are against Eastern conference playoff contenders Chicago, Connecticut, Washington, and Indiana, with the fifth game against Western leader Minnesota.

Tulsa Fire Sale! Give Tulsa fans free entry for rest of the season

Tulsa Shock minority owner, Stuart Price announced that he is calling on majority owner Bill Cameron to open seats to the remaining nine Shock home games for free. On Monday, after a few weeks of speculation, Cameron announced that he is moving the team to Arlington, Texas. The WNBA governing board approved the move in a unanimous vote on Thursday. Price has indicated that he is also filing a lawsuit against Cameron.

“Our community and fans have been here through the bad times and they deserve better than to lose the team just when it finally turns the corner,” said Price. “The players and coaches also deserve better than to have their winning season disrupted with the relocation news.”

Who dat on the cover of the Chicago RedEye? 

In her rookie season, Elena Delle Donne led the Sky to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. A year later, the team was in the WNBA finals.

Delle Donne transformed her team—can she do the same for the WNBA? There’s reason to believe so.

Today’s NBA players are rock stars. On a first-name basis with the world, they appear in summer blockbusters and soda commercials and earn hundreds of millions of dollars on the court and even more off it.

But it wasn’t always this way. In the 1970s—30 years after the league’s inception—the league was floundering. Interest had dwindled to the point that the Finals weren’t even televised live.

That all changed when Magic Johnson and Larry Bird entered the league in 1979.

Seems to me the W has ridden three surges in popularity/attention on women’s athletics:

  • The ’96 surge (which brought pre-and-early Title IXers in and a strong lesbian following) capped by soccer’s ’99ers.
  • The ’00 UConn surge (which brought current college fans to the W) capped by Taurusi.
  • The 2014-15 surge (which reinvigorated national attention and media coverage and activism) capped by the “Summer of Women.”

Here’s hoping the W can build on it’s young talent and successfully navigate the current upheaval in cable access and media coverage. If women’s basketball college coaches are smart, they’ll fully embrace the both the W AND the changing social perception of sexuality and use both as leverage in building their programs – starting with getting sufficient support from their Athletic Directors.

Did you catch this: BETH BROOKE-MARCINIAK

Welcome to The Drive, powered by Ford. In this series, Sage Steele goes back to campus with former college athletes to revisit the places and life-changing moments that inspired their drive to succeed. Beth Brooke-Marciniak, former Purdue women’s basketball star and global vice chair, public policy for EY, travels back to her alma mater.

A little more on the 2016 inductees: 

If the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame’s 2016 class was a player, it would be a combo guard strong enough to post up beneath the rim.

Or, perhaps a center not afraid to shoot the occasional three.

The six-person class that will be inducted in Knoxville on June 11, 2016, is being celebrated for its versatility.

From the Deseret News: Taylorsville native Natalie Williams to be inducted into Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016

Williams said she’s so focused on accomplishing new goals, she doesn’t always take the time to reflect on just what she’s achieved.

“I forget how much I’ve accomplished,” she said. “I’m always working on trying to do more.” One of the great joys of her life currently is coaching her three daughters, the oldest of which, Sydney, 15, will play at Alta High this winter.

Ayla, 8, and Nation, 5, also play, while Sydney’s twin brother Taurasi is a hip-hop dancer.

She said she’s not worried about whether her daughters will feel the pressure that may come as fans and media compare them to her, as she tries to help them focus on the same thing that helped her achieve so much success.

“All Mom cares about is hard work and effort,” she said.

Speaking of Utah:

Lynne Roberts doesn’t consider her hiring as the dawn of a new era for the University of Utah women’s basketball team. Roberts, the first head coach to come from outside the program since 1975, is just looking forward to the challenge of getting the Utesback to where she says they belong.

“I want to be national relevant,” Roberts said. “If there’s a sentence that would be it.”

After four years at the helm of Chico State and nine at Pacific, Roberts now heads a Utah program that has fallen on hard times. The Utes, who have an all-time record of 837-364, are a paltry 23-49 in Pac-12 play since joining the conference in 2011-12.

Speaking of rebuilding:

The idea of revamping a roster for the second straight year is nothing out of the ordinary for Louisiana Tech women’s basketball coach Tyler Summitt.

Summitt, the young 24-year-old coach who is constantly reminded by his mentors that implementing a culture takes two to three years, sat back and watched his predominately new team workout last week just as he did in 2014 during his inaugural season with the Lady Techsters.

That doesn’t mean Summitt and his coaching staff haven’t been hit with obstacles when dealing with a group of six newcomers.

Speaking of prepping for the NCAA season: 

The Gamecocks have been conditioning on and off the court in preparation for the season.

“Today was very important,” said USC sports performance coach Katie Fowler, who recently joined the program after serving in a similar capacity at Maryland. “We’ve been working a lot on our speed work. They’re tapering down a bit this week.”

The Gamecocks, who advanced to the Women’s Final Four last season and were ranked No. 1 in the nation for several weeks, are determined not to be one-hit wonders and are dedicated to improving.

Liz, Liz, Liz. Don’t call a lawyer. Grow up and decide if basketball is what you want.

WHEN did that happen?

When did we collectively decide to reward bad behaviour?

When did it become OK for sport stars to be petulant, cloaked from reality and allowed to bask in their own sense of entitlement unchallenged?

When did the media and the public become so fearful of upsetting the delicate young geniuses who dot our sporting landscape that we stopped calling an act of self-indulgence what it is?

I love Aussie basketballer Liz Cambage, even though what I’m about to say will cost me contact for a time.

Finally, as an educator who loves sports and respects the hell out of classroom teachers, I’ve been wanting to do something like this for YEARS! (And REALLY cranky that I can’t embed the dang video. I’ve tried and it just won’t let me.)

Key and Peele: Education Center

As an AAU coach once told me, “If parents cared as much about their child’s teachers as they do about why I put the team in a zone or man-to-man-defense, imagine what would happen to education.”

Lombard headed to women’s basketball HOF

Lombard will start his 38th year coaching girls high school basketball this fall owning a record of 1,165-109 [Holy CARP!!! WHB]. He reached his 1,000th win before losing 100 games.

Lombard spent seven years at Nazareth and the remaining 30 years at Canyon High. He has won 17 Texas high school state girls basketball championships. The latest title was won last year.

“I’m very much looking forward to the trip to Tennessee,” Lombard said. “But no much more than looking forward to our next basketball season. The year-to-year seasons still excite me. I know it sounds crazy but I still even enjoy preparing for practice.”

Cool! Basketball star Kia Nurse to carry Canadian flag at Pan Am closing

“I’m super ecstatic, and I wish (my whole team) could be here,” Nurse said. “All 12 of us would definitely attempt to hold the flag together and wave. But I’m so pumped for this and really excited and fortunate to have the opportunity.”

Not really a surprise: Analysis finds ties between wealth, winning in NC high school sports

Okay, a little less cranky about there not being an opponent set for UConn in the Maggie Dixon Classic, but I would appreciate the SEC schedulers FIXING THIS

Auriemma said UConn’s hope to play in the Maggie Dixon Classic at Madison Square Garden is in jeopardy. An SEC scheduling modification has apparently taken Kentucky out of the mix and the Huskies may now be looking at just another nonconference game away from the Dixon format. 

As we head into the second half of the season, Michelle has a team-by-team midseason report card.

The second half of the WNBA has arrived, and while Minnesota appears to be the front-runner, the list of potential title contenders appears longer — or at least perhaps less obvious — than it has in the past few seasons.

Remember the preseason picks? Ouch:

Atlanta Record: 7-10
Grade: C-minus

W.N.B.A. Star Tamika Catchings Nears End of One Career While Preparing for Another

The list of people who can relate to what comes next for Tamika Catchings, the only player who has been a W.N.B.A. All-Star 10 times, is short.

So as Catchings prepared for a series of lasts — her final All-Star Game on Saturday, her final playoff push with the Indiana Fever this fall, her final Olympics next summer — she turned to another Indiana basketball icon.

“The only person I’ve really talked to about it is Larry Bird,” Catchings said Friday, reflecting on her career. “Because I want to be a G.M. So I wanted to talk to him about the experience, because he got there. He talked about when you’re finished playing, going directly into whatever your next venture is. He took some years off trying to figure out what he wanted to do next. But he said, ‘I wish I would’ve started sooner.’ But he also said he was glad he took some time to figure out what he wanted to do.”

“It is so ordered.”

by Seimone Augustus.

I never thought I would get married.

A lot of women have that dream — wearing a white dress and walking down the aisle. I never did. I never pictured what I would wear, what colors my flowers would be or any of the ceremonial details.

The only thing I really ever wanted was to fall in love.

And I did.

My love story looks a little different from the ones you’ll see in Hollywood.

I knew I was gay by the time I reached middle school. I’ve never been attracted to guys. I can appreciate their beauty, but it comes without desire. I’ve always had a more intimate connection with women. In high school, I kissed a girl for the first time. It felt too comfortable and too right to think I was anyone but whom I was in that moment. I’ve followed that honesty my whole life.

in this trade (The Dream’s Erika de Souza to Chicago. They get Damiris Dantas and rookie Reshanda Gray from Minnesota and Lynx’ first-round pick in 2016 WNBA Draft. Chicago sends Sylvia Fowles and the rights to its own 2016 second-round pick to Minnesota – and no, the Lynx won’t play the Sky until (if) the playoffs), take some time to watch the replay of the US-Russia U19 game. Really fun to watch.

A few ASG articles hanging about:

Schimmell Ellectric in 2nd WNBA All-Star Game. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one listening to the ASG play-by-play wondering, “but, does Shoni’s game translate to the pros? It takes flash and fitness, kiddo.

With The All-Star Game On The Line, Maya Moore Found Another Level

At the end of last year’s WNBA All-Star Game — a “shootout” in the desert that the East team won in overtime over the West at Phoenix — Maya Moore appeared a bit irritated.

Not truly mad, mind you. But it was clear that even a so-called meaningless exhibition wasn’t entirely meaningless for Moore. The Minnesota star already has two WNBA titles and a league MVP award, while just in her fifth season as a pro. Bottom line: She always plays to win. Maybe if she was playing some 5-year-old in Candy Land, she might throw the game to the kid. But … don’t necessarily count on that.

Sefko: Why WNBA has never been stronger as league enters Dallas market

Back in the spring of 1996, “We got next” became a reality.

That was the catchphrase when the NBA board of governors approved the concept of the WNBA. The league was a leap of faith that had to be nursed through some tough times, yet has emerged as a legitimate force in the sporting world in less than two decades of existence.

It has become relevant, when many thought it couldn’t.

What is next for Tamika Catchings after an amazing WNBA career?

Doug focuses on what’s next in the WNBA:

The sprint to the playoffs and the WNBA championship will most likely hinge on which team can stay the healthiest. Minnesota is leading the Western Conference right now, but the Lynx are without two of their three All-Stars as Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus are sidelined with injuries.

Whalen, who hurt her eye last week, should be back soon. Augustus is out until mid-August while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery.

I guess it’s just as well that Liz stayed away from Tulsa: Cambage ruled out of Australia squad after skipping camp

Liz Cambage has been ruled out Australia’s squad for games against Japan and the Oceania Olympic qualifying series against New Zealand after skipping a training camp to attend a music festival.

Cambage had been recalled to national duties last week following nine months on the sidelines after rupturing her Achilles, but Basketball Australia issued a brief statement late Sunday saying the 23-year-old center had ”made herself unavailable” for the games against Japan starting Monday and had been scrubbed from the Oceania championships as a consequence.

Episode 1

Episode 2

BTW, considering my hobby, I’m guessing longtime readers will recognize that Sue and I are birds of a feather….