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Aaaaaand we’re off!

Or maybe, more accurately, “I’m off.” Gonna take a little pause here at the blog. Been doing this for 15 years, a hunk of that solo, and I’m a little tuckered out.

Like to think that WHB has brought some diversity to the news feed, a little humor, some history and some activism salted with a little snark. May ponder something weekly. But we shall see.

Lots of good folks doing news aggregating and creating original content. Follow them, amplify them, spend your money on them.

No. Really. Spend your money on them. If you think WNBA players should be paid more, spend your money. If you think NCAA players should get more coverage, spend your money.

Oh, and if you think the Liberty should stay in New York, spend your money on them. Please.

And as a last, blatant self-promo: Pretty proud of this: “We Got Next!” The History of the WNBA

On June 21st, 1997, Lisa Leslie, center for the Los Angeles Sparks, and Kym Hampton, center for the New York Liberty, took the ceremonial “jump ball” marking the official start of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). Leslie, 25, had just earned an Olympic gold medal as part of the 1996 US National team. Hampton, who’d graduated from Arizona State University in 1984, had spent the last twelve years playing professional basketball in Spain, Italy, France, and Japan. Between the two stood league president Val Ackerman. A four-year starter at the University of Virginia, in 1977 Ackerman had been one of school’s first female students to receive an athletic scholarship.

As the orange and oatmeal-paneled ball was tossed into the air, their names were added to the ever-expanding road of women’s basketball history. Retracing their route backwards through time, you would see the first NCAA women’s basketball champions, Louisiana Tech (1982), pass the Women’s Basketball League of 1979-81, and pause for a visit with the Mighty Macs of tiny Immaculata University (Malvern, PA), winners of  the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women’s first collegiate basketball championship (1972). Next, you’d circle the major road marker of Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act of 1972, which revitalized and revolutionized women’s college athletics. Further down the road would be the legacy of US National Teams in the 50’s, and 60’s and the “industrial teams” of 1930’s and 40’s sponsored by companies such as Maytag and Hanes Hosiery. Avoiding the Women’s Division of the National Amateur Athletic Federation’s attempt to strangle the sport in the late ‘20s by eliminating high school tournaments, a final exhilarating zig-zag through the nationwide explosion of the game’s popularity in the 1900’s would find you at the starting place: a gym at Smith College in 1892, right down the road from the birthplace of men’s basketball, Springfield, MA.

NEW POETRY BY INDIGENOUS WOMEN

In my Mojave culture, many of our songs are maps, but not in the sense of an American map. Mojave song-maps do not draw borders or boundaries, do not say this is knowable, or defined, or mine. Instead our maps use language to tell about our movements and wonderings (not wanderings) across a space, naming what has happened along the way while also compelling us toward what is waiting to be discovered, where we might go and who we might meet or become along the way.

This feature of indigenous women is meant to be like those song-maps, to offer myriad ways of “poetic” and linguistic experience—a journey through or across memory, or imagination, across pain or joy or the impossibility of each, across our bodies of land and water and flesh and ink—an ever-shifting, ever-returning, ever-realizing map of movement, of discovery, of possibility, of risk—of indigenous and native poetry. It is my luck to welcome you to this indigenous space and invite you into the conversations of these poems, languages, imageries and wonders. In the first installment of this bi-monthly feature, I’m pleased to share the work of Laura Da’, Kimberly Blaeser, Heid E. Erdrich, and Kat Page (full bios below).

  –‘Ahotk, Natalie Diaz

Basketball

Fort Shaw Indian School, 1904

Shoot, Minnie, Shoot, 2004 book by Happy Jack Feder. Movie, 2013

Full-Court Quest: The Girls from Fort Shaw Indian School Basketball Champions of the World, Linda Peavy and Ursula Smith, 2008

Playing for the World, Montana PBS, 2009

2001Counting Coup: A True Story of Basketball and Honor on the Little Big Horn, 

In this extraordinary work of journalism, Larry Colton journeys into the world of Montana’s Crow Indians and follows the struggles of a talented, moody, charismatic young woman named Sharon LaForge, a gifted basketball player and a descendant of one of George Armstrong Custer’s Indian scouts. But “Counting Coup” is far more than just a sports story or a portrait of youth. It is a sobering exposé of a part of our society long since cut out of the American dream.

2001: “Rocks with Wings:” A documentary that aired nationally on PBS chronicles the success of the Shiprock Lady Chieftains, a Navajo high school girl’s basketball program.

2005: Native Athletes in Sport and Society

Though many Americans might be aware of the Olympian and football Hall of Famer Jim Thorpe or of Navajo golfer Notah Begay, few know of the fundamental role that Native athletes have played in modern sports: introducing popular games and contests, excelling as players, and distinguishing themselves as coaches. The full breadth and richness of this tradition unfolds in Native Athletes in Sport and Society, which highlights the accomplishments of Indigenous athletes in the United States and Canada but also explores what these accomplishments have meant to Native American spectators and citizens alike.
Here are Thorpe and Begay as well as the Winnebago baseball player George Johnson, the Snohomish Notre Dame center Thomas Yarr, the Penobscot baseball player Louis Francis Sockalexis, and the Lakota basketball player SuAnne Big Crow. Their stories are told alongside those of Native athletic teams such as the NFL’s Oorang Indians, the Shiprock Cardinals (a Navajo women’s basketball team), the women athletes of the Six Nations Reserve, and the Fort Shaw Indian Boarding School’s girls’ basketball team, who competed in the 1904 World’s Fair. Superstars and fallen stars, journeymen and amateurs, coaches and gatekeepers, activists and tricksters appear side by side in this collection, their stories articulating the issues of power and possibility, difference and identity, representation and remembrance that have shaped the means and meaning of American Indians playing sport in North America.

2013: Beyond the X – Rez Ball, Max Preps and Beyond the X: Rez Ball fuels basketball fever in Arizona’s Navajo Nation

2013: Former Arizona State University women’s basketball player Ryneldi Becenti got her #21 jersey retired, first Native American to play in the WNBA (Phoenix)

2013: Angel Goodrich makes good in WNBA

As rookie Angel Goodrich broke the huddle with her Tulsa Shock teammates and headed for the jump ball at center court to start the game, the crowd in the stands of the Bok Center waved signs and cheered. it was May 27, 2013, and many in the crowd were there to see Angel make history as the first Native American to start a WNBA game. Her fans, most of them seated on the Shock’s end of the court, wore t-shirts emblazoned with her name across the front. Angel only played 11 minutes that night, and she turned the ball over three times. but by midseason, she was starting regularly and handing out 5-6 assists per game. On Native American night in July, the stands were full of fans from many different tribes – not just Cherokee nation – there to cheer her on.
“I saw so many familiar faces tonight,” said the happy 5-4 guard after that midseason game. “I felt like i knew everyone in one section. It is definitely an honor to represent them.”

The Schimmel’s

 “Off the Rez,” 2011 A profile of Native American basketball player Shoni Schimmel and her mother Ceci Moses. The documentary follows the family’s quest to secure a college scholarship for Schimmel by leaving their home on the Umatilla Reservation in Oregon.

Basketball is the bridge, 2013

For Schimmel and her family, basketball (and the distinctive style of play called Rez ball) became the bridge from the reservation to the outside world. While few Native Americans have made that leap, Schimmel is by no means the first. Minnihaha (Minnie) Burton was the first Native American to make a name for herself as a basketball player back in 1904.

The Schimmel Effect, 2014

Native Driven Network chronicles the amazing impact that Shoni & Jude Schimmel have had on Indian Country. We catch up with the Schimmel Sisters to find out what they have been doing since moving “Off The Rez” put them into the national spotlight.

Inside Stuff visits with All-Star Shoni Schimmel, 2015

2014: Short film: “Lady Thunderhawks: Leading the Way,”  Wisconsin varsity basketball team is a pillar of hope for an entire community.

2015: “Basketball on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation,”  video, Trans World Sport

2015Eight Native ballers you need to know better (Angel Goodrich, Tahnee Robinson, Jude Schimmel, Jenna Plumley), Indian Country Today

2017:  With rich hoops roots, Native American twins Kyarrah and Kyannah Grant bud into stars

Kyarrah and Kyannah Grant run about 30 miles each week. Twice a week, the fraternal twins sprint alongside the glimmering, blue-black ripples of Lake Pushmataha about 35 miles north of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians reservation — the place they call home.

Most people are fishing or boating or admiring the cedar, pine and cypress trees that guard the lake. But the Grant sisters do not have time to stop or stare along the trail. When Kyarrah tries to zip ahead, Kyannah pushes farther. When Kyannah pulls away, Kyarrah zooms faster.

2017: Record-Setting Alumna Inspires Teens to Shoot for their Dreams – Former UNLV basketball player Gwynn Hobbs Grant encourages Native American youths to create their own success.

“I am a Rebel, and I’ll be a Rebel for life,” Grant said, before becoming just the fifth women’s basketball player to be inducted into the UNLV Athletics Hall of Fame in May. “UNLV gave me my degree, and it gave me an opportunity to do what I love. It’s a basis for who I am, and it gave me an identity.”

Grant, ’95 BA Sociology, stood out for setting long-term goals and her legendary long-range stroke — she remains the program’s most accurate three-point shooter at 40.6 percent — as a child growing up on a Navajo reservation in Ganado, Arizona.

“I had someone I looked up to on the reservation,” Grant recalls. “My uncle was one of the best to come off the reservation and play at the collegiate level. I wanted to be like him and play like him.

2017: Nike’s Native American Division Continues its Work with Native Kids

On November 24th the University of Nevada — Reno women’s basketball team ran out into the Lawlor Events Center in a preseason tournament game against the Sacramento State Hornets; instead of their traditional anthracite uniforms they had worn for every home game during the ‘17-’18 season, they took the court wearing turquoise Nike N7 jerseys

2017: The Jr. NBA partners with the Native American Basketball Invitational for 15th annual tournament,  The Undefeated

For 15 years, the Native American Basketball Invitational (NABI) Tournament has united basketball fans as well as current and former athletes for an exciting yet competitive week of basketball fun in Maricopa, Arizona. This year, the Jr. NBA has partnered with NABI to include more than 80 Native American ninth-graders for a three-day basketball camp that aims to teach the high schoolers basketball techniques and how to apply sports and daily techniques toward life skills.

From July 10-12, about 40 boys and 40 girls from tribes across North America and New Zealand participated in positional skill development, shooting and skills competitions, and 5-on-5 games taught by league staff members, players and coaches, according to the press release. Special guests included Sacramento Kings head coach Dave Joerger, former NBA small forward Cedric Ceballos, women’s basketball Hall of Famer Ann Meyers Drysdale, pro basketballer Damen Bell-Holter and former Los Angeles Lakers forward A.C. Green, who is part Native American.

2018: Basketball camp taps Native women players, Navajo Times

It is very rare for anyone to be successful without any help. So, a key to being successful is finding someone who pushes you. Someone who pushes you to be the best you can be, said Buddy Tsingine.

“What I’ve seen are kids that I’ve coached in junior high,” said Tsingine, a retired basketball coach and a school administrator. “They never went on. They were better athletes than anybody. But after junior high, nothing.”

That is why Tsingine and his family are now inspiring area young people to take charge of their own future and complete their education past junior high and high school.

“Because they never went on – that’s what’s been bothering me,” Tsingine explained. “They have so much talent and we have so many people who are so smart.”

Earlier this month, Tsingine and his daughter, Georgia Lynn Tsingine, a family physician in Phoenix, invited Native basketball players Shoni Schimmel (Umatilla) and Abby Scott (Warm Springs) here to coach a basketball clinic at Tuba City Boarding School.

2018: Basketball standout Jude Schimmel helps open Piestewa Games, Arizona Sports

Jude Schimmel has started in a Final Four game, interviewed President Barack Obama, written a book, Dreamcatcher, and starred in Nike commercials narrated by LeBron James. Now, as a 24-year-old Native American woman, she is using her platform to encourage Native Americans to go out and live healthier lifestyles.

2018:  ‘LOOKING FOR SOMEONE LIKE ME,‘ Daily Yonder

JJ Nakai misses her days playing electrifying basketball on the reservation.

But the jam-packed gymnasiums, the thunderous crowds – united by heritage, momentarily divided by team colors – the breakneck pace of play and the irresponsibly creative trick passes are more than just memories.

They provide the framework for how she plays, the fabric of her game, infused in her basketball DNA, and part of why she’s one of the highest-rated junior-college basketball players in the country, with dreams of playing Division I.

“I loved playing on the reservation so much. The atmosphere once you’d enter the gym was so amazing. It was packed, I miss it,” said Nakai, a member of the Navajo Nation and the point guard at Pima Community College in Tucson.

A Division I offer would mean more than just a chance to play basketball on a big stage. It would help Nakai become the first member of her immediate family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree. It also could make her the Native American role model she looked for but never found while growing up.

2019: The NABI Foundation is proud to announce the 16th Annual NABI Basketball Tournament, June 23-29

NativeHoops.com: Native American Basketball – Tournaments / Camps / Clinics

THIS is why

we shouldn’t let AP Doug fly places. THINGS HAPPEN WHEN HE’S IN THE AIR.

Best of luck to the departing Prez Borders.

I’m intrigued about who the W might look for. As part of a company who just went through the “new Executive Director” process, it’s interesting to think of what the W wants, not what I want. So, how about:

  • Someone committed to social justice
  • Someone with a strong business background, specifically with the ability to sell the brand to sponsors
  • Someone who will take the time to understand that, as a niche sport, YOU CAN NEVER TAKE THE FANS FOR GRANTED, no matter how much sponsor money there is
  • Someone who can wrangle the 12 franchises into accepting what “Best Practices in Marketing” are and execute get the teams to follow them
  • Someone who is brave enough to share the financials of the league with the Player Reps and forceful enough to convince those players to keep that information internal
  • Someone who recognizes that a strong, active social media presence is essential. (So, yes, fix the damn .com) and that elevating any and all media coverage out there is essential. Which means: do not be afraid of criticism.
  • Someone who can commit to taking the league through its 25th year, ’cause the need to do a seriously good job of celebrating that
  • Someone who hires a team committed to the WNBA and its fanbase
  • Someone who will take the time to honor, preserve and celebrate the entirety of the WNBA’s history.
  • Finally, (and I’m being selfish here), someone with connections to a New Yorker who will buy the Liberty/Knicks/Rangers, kick Dolan out of the City and return my Lib to where they belong: Madison Square Garden

Where do I want them to look?

  • Former NCAA/W players or other athletes in other sports who’ve moved into the business world
  • Athletic Directors
  • ESPN executives
  • NIKE executives

About that GOLD MEDAL!!!!

I’ll admit it – I was nervous. The US-Belgium hadn’t been easy. And, through the tournament, I was concerned about the play of the young guards, the lack of a perimeter defensive stopper, and Dawn’s free-for-all-yes-I-know-you’re-resting-folks-but-what-is-happening! substitution pattern.

The arena had been rocking for the Belgium/Spain game – damn, it was a good’un!! – and it was cool to see Diana congratulate some of the Spaniard’s after their bronze medal finish. But the crowed seemed emotionally exhausted when it came time for the US to face Australia, and the Americans made sure to keep them that way. No doubt, Liz had no legs for this game. And Griner was superb against her – smart, contained, deliberate. The arena didn’t forget Liz’s sass during the Opals game against Spain, so she was greeted with good natured whistles and hoots, but not eventhat attention could get her shots to fall. Steadily, relentlessly, almost dispassionately, the US dismantled the Aussies to earn the win. The group came together as a team in that final game, and it was really cool to see.

It was also really cool to watch all the different players interact during the awards/medal ceremony (coaches, too!). There are so many inter-relationships we fans no nothing about. Fun to bear witness.

Community was kind and welcoming. Loved the cohorts of young students they brought in. Volunteers and staff were amazing. Tenerife rocked it. Aaaand, I got to visit the volcano El Teide!

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Final note: A nice moment from the prelims, Japan’s first win, there were 75-100 young’uns in attendance. All waving some sort of Japanese flag. (School project, maybe?) Japan’s Takada took time, post-interview, to visit with some of them and take pictures. THAT’s building the game.

AND: It’s time for North America to bid for the games. I’ll say it again: USA Bball should partner with Canadian Bball and co-host. Seattle/Vancouver, with the final rounds happening in the newly renovated Key Arena. It wouldn’t overly stress the Storm admin (unlike the ASG) and I’ve got to believe the many international fans would love to visit two great cities. Make it happen, folks!

Can’t get enough of international basketball? Follow Paul! 

The Undefeated: WNBA All-Star Maya Moore wants to reward great coaches

WATN? Former WNBA and Andover Central star Tiffany Bias returns to Wichita

NCAA

Finally

What I did while on vacation For the National Women’s History Museum, 2200 words on 22 years (Please excuse the typos. Hoping they’ll be fixed soon) “We Got Next!” The History of the WNBA

On June 21st, 1997, Lisa Leslie, center for the Los Angeles Sparks, and Kym Hampton, center for the New York Liberty, took the ceremonial “jump ball” marking the official start of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). Leslie, 25, had just earned an Olympic gold medal as part of the 1996 US National team. Hampton, who’d graduated from Arizona State University in 1984, had spent the last twelve years playing professional basketball in Spain, Italy, France, and Japan. Between the two stood league president Val Ackerman. A four-year starter at the University of Virginia, in 1977 Ackerman had been one of school’s first female students to receive an athletic scholarship.

As the orange and oatmeal-paneled ball was tossed into the air, their names were added to the ever-expanding road of women’s basketball history.

In Tenerife and thinking…

Rebecca Lobo is smart:

Of all the unsettling things we saw yesterday during the judiciary committee hearing, the thing that sticks with me most is the rage of the older white men. Ladies, we must raise our sons to be better. And raise our daughters to demand better.

Supporting women’s basketball is a political act against sexism, racism and homophobia. Anyone who believes otherwise is not paying attention. Remember what Clarendon has said? Remember what Stewie has said? Believe women. Support women. Educate, educate, educate.

Speaking of women…. there’s been a LOT of basketball in Tenerife. Some highlights:

In the Stands Story: Four young women sitting to my left. They notice Cheryl Reeve sitting to my right. One of them stands, walks over to get a photo with her. I turn to the woman remaining and ask, “Does she know Katie Smith is there, to?” “Oh yes,” she replies. “A WNBA champion and a Hell of Famer.” Turns out the four of them are from Germany. “My sister is mad about the WNBA. We watch all the games. When she heard the Worlds were going to be in Tenerife, we had to come.”

In the Stands Story: Two Puerto Rico fans in front of me. I’m yelling my head off for the team. They turn and say “Thank you,” and add, “Some of these girls lost everything in the hurricane. They lost their jobs, they drank dirty water. But they’re here.”

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Latvians in the house!

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In the Stands Story: A woman wearing a Latvia shirt walks over to Breanna’s dad, another Latvia shirt clutched in her hand. She’s trying to negotiate an exchange for the USA shirt he’s wearing, but it’s hard to hear because the Latvian contingent is loud, supported by an enthusiastic drummer. “I’ll tell you what,” Mr. Stewart says, “I’ll trade you this for that drum.”

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Watching the Latvian’s play their hearts out against the US, exhausted and close to weeping… and then being lifted up by their fans.IMG_2334.jpg

Nigeria breaking through. IMG_2360.jpg

NY Liberty’s Maddie could team the World’s mascot some moves….IMG_2305.jpg

A mural in Santa Cruz.

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Visiting a volcano.IMG_2362.jpg

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Gonna bus over to the arena to catch China v. Canada and very much looking forward to tonight’s semis. US v. Belgium: No surprise to anyone, the US guard play has been suspect. It’s also obvious there is no perimeter defensive specialist… and the Belgian guards have been rock solid so far.

Spain v. Australia. Never bet against a home-crowd-fueled team, but Liz has been amazing. AND, some of Australia’s “who dey?” support players have come up big.

LONG TERM PLANNING: 

Canada and US collaborate to host the Worlds in 2022. Vancouver and Seattle, with Seattle holding the medal round.

OR

Paris Olympic Committee hosts, giving them an opportunity to do a dry run for the 2024 Olympics and build enthusiasm for the Games. (BTW, the Games’ date – Jul 26, 2024 – Aug 11, 2024 – is gonna play havoc with the WNBA season.)

Quick hits from Tenerife

Still recovering from a Friday work day, trip to the airport and three flights to get to Tenerife proper. Didn’t help that passport control in Madrid had lines so long that I missed my connecting flight. I made do.

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Thanks to @Iberia (and NOT to @AmericanAir, who were 1-800-MissingInAction) did get to the island just after 11pm. Missed the US v. Senegal excitement, but was happy to have arrived.

Learning to modify my Spanish to say “GraTHIas.” Everyone I’ve interacted with has been absolutely kind, patient and helpful.

Sunday was a super-full day of basketball, starting at 11am with two games, a break to wander outside and grab some lunch, then a return for a 6pm start to two more games. I got tickets to both sessions at the door – 5euro each. Small but enthusiastic crowds for first two games. Nicely packed for first evening game (US v. China) Check out some of the top plays here.

Australia v. Argentina was pretty much a wipe out. Liz is just as aggrieved about physical contact and officiating here as she is in the W. Argentinian’s played hard start to finish, but the were simply overmatched.

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High Post Hoops: Ezi Magbegor learning from Liz Cambage at World Cup

 

 

Japan v. Belgium was a bit of a stunner. With only one post, I expected Meesseman and the ever-present Belgian Waffle/Brussel Sprout Ann Wauters to dominate. Instead, Japan used their relentless energy and quickness, savvy play by Takada (knowing not to foul) and a timely three to send the game into overtime. And then they didn’t fade.

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IMG_2189.jpgFiba: Takada too hot to handle as she jump starts Japan’s campaign

Bullets Forever: Belgium vs. Japan final score: Emma Meesseman perseveres in 77-75 overtime loss

 

 

Good showing by Belgian fans.

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China v. US showed that folks need to keep an eye on the Chinese team – for possible draft picks AND future competitions. They were a delight to watch. MIA on the US side were Griner and Delle Donne. And defense. But, if you’re gonna score 100 points…Wilson was impressive – poised and effective. Stewart found a strong groove.

TeamUSA.org: US Women Hold Off China To Go 2-0 At Basketball World Cup

Hashtag Basketball: How Americans playing in China are growing Chinese basketball

Nigeria v. Turkey was thrilling and sad to see. Hard to see a program that was so feisty in Istanbul struggle so (injuries didn’t help, nor did Q’s temper). A heart-lifter to see the Nigerian team pull together and earn an epic win (on the same day Senegal did).

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Great shot! Nigeria only just getting started after historic success

Pulse Nigeria: D’Tigress beat Turkey 74-68 in 2nd group game

Punch: I left WNBA for Turkey to enhance my career — D’Tigress star Akhator

.com: How International WNBA Players Performed on Day 2 at FIBA World Cup

Some art in the street before a late night dinner

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Monday: Sleep and the walk through Santa Cruz…

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…and then up to the Botanical Garden.

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Tomorrow: Permutations: All to play for on exciting last day of Group Phase

News:

From Doug: At World Cup, Puerto Rico hopes to lift spirits back home

Puerto Rico guard Dayshalee Salaman remembers huddling with her family in her grandmother’s house as the wind from Hurricane Maria howled outside.

For 12 hours they sat and prayed that the storm would spare them. They made it through relatively unscathed. One of her cousins lost a house when the roof was ripped off.

Salaman knows that many other Puerto Ricans weren’t so lucky when the storm hit on Sept. 20, 2017. An estimated 2,975 people died in the aftermath of the Category 4 storm, according to Puerto Rico’s governor.

”I’m blessed and glad that my family was OK and that I was able to help other families that went through a lot,” she said. ”A lot of people lost everything and it was hard to see.”

ESPN: Team USA’s Tina Charles, Liberty teammates stepping up in FIBA World Cup

ESPN: Atlanta’s finest WNBA players (plus Dwight Howard) bring the heat on ‘Wild ‘N Out’

WaPo: Residents hope new arena means new life for long-neglected area

Las Vegas Review Journal: Aces’ A’ja Wilson previews FIBA World Cup, USA Basketball

MSP: International players to watch at Women’s World Cup

TBT: Fun facts and tidbits from the Women’s Basketball World Cup

Swish Appeal: A primer on the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup

ICYMI: Why isn’t Maya Moore with Team USA in Spain? Lynx star is taking a much-needed break

HashTag Basketball: The 2018 Seattle Storm: How a Winning Formula turned into a WNBA Title

WATN? Heat add former WNBA Miami Sol player Ruth Riley as radio, television analyst

‘ello! Why not the Liberty? (Sob) Dodgers, WNBA Sparks Adding Billie Jean King As Minority Owner

NCAA

After nearly quitting basketball, WNBA prospect Cierra Dillard has ‘unfinished business’ at UB

And your future host will be….San Antonio, Minneapolis, Dallas, Cleveland. Reminder: If you want the F4 on the East or West coast SOMEONE HAS TO BID. Here’s something I wrote about that for the WBCA in 2009. NCAA TOURNAMENT HOSTING: Hidden Hurdles and Helpful Hints

Here. We. Go.

No pressure, friends, but this is national, not-cable, T.V.: ABC, 3:30pm.

Mechelle, ESPN: Mystics must look to have an early answer for Storm in Game 2

It’s not that the Washington Mystics were unprepared for the intensity of Friday’s Game 1 of the WNBA Finals, Washington coach Mike Thibault said. But once things started getting away from them, it escalated fast. And in a building as full of fan energy as KeyArena was for their beloved Seattle Storm, it felt a little like an avalanche.

Thibault said the Mystics have to make some X’s and O’s adjustments for Sunday’s Game 2 (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET) after their 89-76 loss Friday. But there’s more to it.

“We’ll make adjustments as need be, and there need to be adjustments,” Mystics guard Natasha Cloud said. “We’ve got to get back to being defensive-minded and focus on getting stops and allowing ourselves to be put in a successful situation, and then we can get into our transition offense.”

ESPN: From undersized post to defensive stopper, Alysha Clark remakes her game

But making it in the WNBA was a more challenging prospect. She was a “tweener”: a 5-foot-11, back-to-the basket, post player in college trying to adjust to being a wing facing the basket and needing to develop guard skills. Drafted in the second round at No. 17 overall by San Antonio in 2010, Clark didn’t get on a WNBA roster that year nor in 2011.

Watch the game with Renee (again). (WNBA Players Association Inks Deal With Sports Streaming ICO)

WATN? Team USA Gold Medalist, WNBA Player Lisa Willis Joins TC Williams As Head Coach

H.P.H: Katie Smith, Tina Thompson enter Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

International

And the young (and tall) shall lead them: U.S. women overcome 16-point deficit, beat Canada in exhibition

A’ja Wilson had 15 points and 10 rebounds to help the U.S. women’s national team rally from a 16-point first-half deficit and beat Canada 74-68 on Saturday night in an exhibition game.

The U.S. was shockingly down 16 in the first quarter and trailed 56-48 heading into the fourth quarter before finally getting going. Wilson, who was the AP WNBA rookie of the year, along with her Las Vegas Aces teammate Kelsey Plum, keyed the change in the fourth.

USA Basketball: 

“Everyone is used to seeing us blow teams out, and obviously that didn’t happen tonight,” Staley said. “This helps build chemistry. It helps me as a coach to see who we can call on.”

A’ja Wilson (Las Vegas Aces) answered the call by leading the team with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Wilson, Napheesa Collier (Connecticut), Elizabeth Williams (Atlanta Dream) and Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces) played the entire fourth quarter. Layshia Clarendon(Connecticut Sun) played seven of the 10 fourth-quarter minutes.

Additional quotes

Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks)
Was that a good test for the team?
Oh, no doubt. That was a great test. The first quarter wasn’t exactly ideal. But, coach Dawn’s composure helped us maintain ours. But, I also really liked that we were able to get some of the new faces out there to develop the chemistry that we need. Today was a really good test. I’m really happy we won, but I’m happy with how we won. It’s also how we won that we should be proud of.

Sporting News: Canada Women’s Basketball comes close to upset, but can’t defeat USA in pre-World Cup exhibition

“It was a battle out there and I think that was something that was great for us as a team” said Nurse. “We’ve only had our 12 in the last two games that we played [against Japan Friday and USA Saturday]. To get that chemnistry, to get that battle in this game, in a test like that, was great for us.”

Hartford Courant: US Women’s Basketball Team Beats Canada, But It Wasn’t Easy

New Haven Register: USA Women’s National Team rallies past Canada in exhibition

Fortunately for Dawn Staley and Co., a few weeks still remain before the games start counting for real.

Saturday’s tune-up against Canada served as an important reminder for the U.S. Women’s National Team that there’s still significant work to be done leading up to the FIBA World Cup, which tips off later this month in Spain.

WNBA.com: Fourth quarter comeback highlights.
Indiana Fever represent.
More essential basketball history: Ora Mae Washington gets enshrined with hoops legends

Washington, born in 1898, is considered by many experts as the greatest female athlete of her era. She not only excelled in basketball, but she was a sensational tennis player as well.

Her basketball and tennis talents were honed at the YWCA in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. She started her basketball career in the fall of 1930 playing for the YMCA-sponsored Germantown Hornets. In 1931, after compiling a 22-1 record, the Hornets claimed the national championship.

In 1932, she became a member of the Philadelphia Tribune Girls basketball team. For the next decade, the barnstorming Tribunes were the top Black team in the nation, and Washington was the team’s major star.

Off sport, on topic

At U.S. Open, power of Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka is overshadowed by an umpire’s power play

Williams abused her racket, but Ramos did something far uglier: He abused his authority. Champions get heated — it’s their nature to burn. All good umpires in every sport understand that the heart of their job is to help temper the moment, to turn the dial down, not up, and to be quiet stewards of the event rather than to let their own temper play a role in determining the outcome. Instead, Ramos made himself the chief player in the women’s final. He marred Osaka’s first Grand Slam title and one of Williams’s last bids for all-time greatness. Over what? A tone of voice. Male players have sworn and cursed at the top of their lungs, hurled and blasted their equipment into shards, and never been penalized as Williams was in the second set of the U.S. Open final.

And, for those of us trying to have “that conversation” with family and friends: #LoveSerenaHateRacism A Discourse On Western Attitudes Towards Serena Williams

“I could not believe what came out of his mouth…he said some awful things… and as an African-American I’m not going to stand for it”, she said as she approached the umpire pointing in the direction of a middle-aged man sitting at the stadium. She continued, “I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it. I had to do a double take. I think I hit a double-fault on that point.” After sitting down, she put the towel on her lap and spoke on, “He was harassing me throughout the match, and I should have said something sooner. He was saying things he shouldn’t have and it was totally unethical. It was derogatory.”

This incident took place in March 2007 during a match between Serena Williams and Lucie Safarova at the Sony Ericsson Miami Open. The middle-aged man watching the match had just yelled at Serena, saying, “Hit the ball into the net like any nigger would.” In response, Serena approached the umpire to complain and to have him ejected from the match. Six years after this event, the racial slurs directed at Serena still continue although they have become more polished and less obvious.

There’s a game today, btw. 7pm, NBATV

Hartford Courant: UConn Alumna Jen Rizzotti Continues To Impact UConn Players Long After Leaving Huskies

“It’s always special for me,” Rizzotti said. “Obviously I haven’t played with any of these guys, but I’ve been a part of their journey a little bit through USA basketball. … I’ve kind of seen them grow up through the game, and it’s really fun … just to see how much they’ve grown, how much they’ve matured, and the fact that they’ve been able to elevate their game so high that they’re still a part of this pool. And Napheesa (Collier), it’s just fun to watch the next in line and the expectation everyone has for her and how she’s handled herself in this atmosphere.”

Hartford Courant: Mike Anthony: Napheesa Collier Gaining Wealth Of Experience With Team USA

“Any time you can be around these players, it’s going to benefit you,” national team coach Dawn Staley, also South Carolina’s coach, said after a Team USA workout at the Knicks practice facility. “I don’t think the pace of the game bothers her. I think just being able to play with other players and seeing how your game fits in [is important]. With Napheesa, she plays hard all the time. There’s no big transition there. She understands the game, so there really isn’t any transition there. What’s missing is just her being out here, experience. Which she’s getting.”

WNBA

Listen up! WNBA Weekly reacts to ‘s win over in game 1 and look forward to the coming game 2 (Sun @ 3:30pm ET on ABC).

Seattle Times: Without Sami Whitcomb’s heroics off the bench…. 

What did Renee Montgomery think? SportsCastr.

Check out Chris’ photos.

Seattle Times: The Storm builds and rebuilds. Sue Bird just keeps going to WNBA Finals

Got some spare change? Isaiah Thomas

“The Storm is Seattle basketball royalty — and you can put that on a T-shirt.” Well guess, what… I did. Cop my custom tee while supplies last! Celebrate women’s hoops! And let’s goooooo . All proceeds go to .

Well, hello! WOMEN OF INTRIGUE: A’JA WILSON

Wilson’s evolution mirrors that of the Aces, formerly the San Antonio Stars before being purchased by MGM Resorts International in October and moving into a refurbished Mandalay Bay Events Center in time to tip-off in May. It was hectic development to say the least, but Wilson, who reached WNBA All-Star status, and her teammates handled it with poise, narrowly missing a playoff berth.

“I haven’t really had the opportunity to sit back and take it all in, but it’s definitely been a lot of fun and a great experience all around,” she says. “The community welcoming us and just being here in the facilities has been great, and I go to other places and know I’m spoiled.”

HOOP HALL HEROES!!!!

Lindsay Gibbs, Yardbarker: Tina Thompson and Katie Smith were the foundation for WNBA greatness

Still, as gaudy as Thompson and Smith’s statistics are, they tell only part of the story of their impact. Thompson wasn’t the first WNBA player to give birth during her career, but the way she seamlessly integrated her son, Dyllan Thompson-Jones, into her life as a basketball star, both domestically and overseas, really paved the way for future mothers in this league, such as Candace Parker and Tayler Hill, to thrive. Thompson-Jones traveled the world with his mother; he was on the bus rides and in the hotels and simply became a part of the team. She gave birth before the 2005 season and was back playing with the Comets just two months later. When she retired, Thompson-Jones was 8 years old.

And now, after paving the way for women basketball players, Thompson and Smith are paving the way for female coaches. Both legends have seamlessly transitioned into the coaching ranks. After retiring with the Liberty in 2013, Smith worked as an assistant under Laimbeer for three seasons. This season, she took over as head coach.

Streaking the Lawn: Virginia Women’s Basketball coach Tina Thompson inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

Photos/USA Today: 2018 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony

.com: Hall Of Famer Tina Thompson: By The Numbers

Weren’t watching when she was terrorizing opponents? Take a look.

The original W’s Big Three were there. Sweet!

Listen up! HoF Speech.

Katie Smith, Ohio State, Columbus Quest, Minnesota Lynx, Detroit Shock, Washington Mystics, Seattle Storm, NY Liberty, USA Basketball

Columbus Dispatch: Katie Smith gets chance to reflect, give thank in her Hall of Fam induction

Katie Smith was driving a few days before the NCAA Women’s Final Four in March when an area code for Springfield, Massachusetts, popped up on her phone.

“I was like, ‘Well, this is it,’ ” Smith said.

The voice on the other end asked Smith if she was having a good day.

“Because we’re gonna make it better,” Smith remembered the person saying.

With that, Smith learned of her selection for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, but she didn’t get a chance to celebrate with her fellow 2018 inductees at the men’s Final Four in San Antonio. Instead, the Logan native celebrated in Columbus, which was hosting its first Women’s Final Four.

Logan Daily News: Naismith HOF awaits Logan’s Katie Smith

.com: Hall of Famer Katie Smith: By The Numbers

Weren’t watching when she was terrorizing opponents? Take a look.

Listen Up! HoF Speech.

Let’s not forget Doris Burke, Providence, Broadcaster extraordinaire

Doris Burke’s stellar broadcasting career – 2018 Basketball Hall of Fame.

Bill Reynolds: The Hall is where Doris Burke belongs

WEEI: Thinking out loud: Doris Burke is one of the best

Back in April: Doris Burke has Game

But Mr. Antetokounmpo, known around the league as the “Greek Freak,” had other thoughts on his mind. Sitting courtside in what looked like a toddler-size chair, the Freak noticed an athletic woman in workout clothes a few yards away.

“Oh, that’s Doris,” he blurted, with all the self-control of a celebrity gawker. “Hey, Doris!”

“Doris” would be Doris Burke, the longtime ESPN basketball personality, who, 27 years into her career, last September became the first woman to land a regular job as an N.B.A. analyst on national television — cracking what many consider one of the highest, hardest glass ceilings in broadcasting.

Listen up! HoF speech.

Speaking of history: Across the Timeline’s got a new one!! Sheri Sam

For players who spend several years in the league, it’s not uncommon to move at some point. But today’s subject is on the more extreme side, having played for seven teams in her 10-year career. A WNBA champion in her own right for the Seattle Storm, today’s “And One” profile is on ABL and WNBA guard Sheri Sam.

Seattle Slew

Can the Mystics recover, or will the Storm continue to Whirlaway?

Seattle Times: Storm puts it in cruise control to beat Mystics in Game 1 of WNBA Finals

After Jewell Loyd lofted a three-pointer midway in the second quarter, the Storm guard turned and trotted in the opposite direction before the ball splashed through the net.

The roar from KeyArena crowd and the screams from the Seattle bench let her know the shot was good, while simultaneously signaling the end to her four-game shooting slump.

“It just felt really good regardless of if it went in,” Loyd said. “That was when I knew it might be a special night.”

Kevin, ESPN: Storm dominate Mystics, Elena Delle Donne in WNBA Finals Game 1 win

We can talk about my knee after this series,” Delle Donne said. “Excuses are for losers. If I wanted to be 100 percent, I wouldn’t have come back. So I knew coming into this thing I was going to have to figure out a different way to play.”

It didn’t help matters that the Storm used Howard, an All-Defensive First Team pick this season, as their primary defender on Delle Donne — a slight change from how Seattle had matched up in the past.

Howard in the NY Times: W.N.B.A. Finals 2018: When Her Game is Your Game, Too

And so it goes, from a veteran point guard known for sinking big shots (Kristi Toliver for Washington, Sue Bird for Seattle) to an active defender and rim protector whose offense took a vast leap forward this season (LaToya Sanders for Washington, Natasha Howard for Seattle) to versatile defensive stoppers on the perimeter (Ariel Atkins for Washington, Alysha Clark for Seattle).

It should mean a series that comes down to coaching — also a battle between two accomplished veterans in Thibault, the winningest coach in league history, and Dan Hughes, who has more wins than any active W.N.B.A. coach other than Thibault and Brian Agler of the Los Angeles Sparks.

 

No surprise: In run to WNBA Finals, Storm has no bigger fan than former MVP Lauren Jackson

Washington Post: Mystics come out flat, get blown out by Storm to start WNBA Finals

“Basically, we got our butts kicked in every phase of the game,” Coach Mike Thibault said.

Poor shooting and defensive breakdowns conspired to deal Washington its third loss to the Storm in four meetings. All of those defeats have come on the road, where the Mystics had been performing admirably over the latter portion of the season.

Not on this night, however.

Morning add-onWNBA Finals Game 1 final score: Mystics melt down in Seattle, lose 89-76

Well, that was ugly. The Mystics were always going to be underdogs if they made it to the finals, but tonight they didn’t look like they belonged in the same league as the Storm in Game 1 on Friday night. Seattle came out strong and Washington had no counterpunch.

Take some time to read this Player’s Tribune piece by Sue: So I Broke My F*cking Nose. It’s like she’s channeling Lobo’s World According to Me” by Rebecca? What, you don’t remember? Sorry, I’m old. But it was on point and funny as sh*t.)

Quick story. It’s 2004 — we’re at the Athens Olympics. And during the Olympics, you know, the women’s and men’s basketball teams, they spend a lot of time together. But I was really young at the time, in my early 20s, and I think at that point I still maybe had internalized this idea that A Lot of Men Hate Women’s Basketball. And what I didn’t realize yet was that that’s only partially true. The truth is, a lot of men who suck at basketball hate women’s basketball. But the guys who can actually play? 99 times out of 100, they respect us. And the guys who are world class — at, say, an Olympic level? If you’re at that level, I’ve found, everyone has one thing in common: They love basketball to their utter f*cking core. Men’s, women’s, whatever.

But like I said, I don’t quite think I knew that yet. So it’s one of the first days of the Olympics, one of the first days of the men’s and women’s teams hanging out together. And I end up getting into a conversation with one of the younger guys on the team, LeBron James. And we’re mostly just small talking, you know, talking about this and that, Athens, the village, the other countries’ outfits, who can even remember. But then, out of nowhere, right as the conversation was ending — he pivoted. He looked at me, and he said, “Hey, y’all are doing your thing this year. Keep it up.” And in my head, I’m thinking, you know — Nah. This is LEBRON. The guy is just being polite. He probably doesn’t even know what team I’m on.

And I think he could maybe read my mind. Because then he paused, and he turned toward me a little more, almost with a wink — and he smiled. And then he added, “Second in the West.”

Nice follow up: How Sue Bird and Kyrie Irving became basketball’s best point guard friendship

Kyrie Irving remembers the first time he met Seattle Storm basketball legend Sue Bird in person. The point guards were sent to autograph basketballs in Brazil during the 2016 Rio Olympics, where both would win respective golds for the American men’s and women’s basketball teams.

Irving said he was star-struck seeing the two-time WNBA champion and four-time Olympic medalist in person. But Bird thought he played it off cool.

“He was so friendly and like ‘Yo, Sue I’m a big fan. I love your game,’” Bird told SB Nation. “You could tell he was excited, which was cool for me. Obviously I’ve seen him play and I’m a huge fan of his game.”

Cool: Beats by Dr. Dre Announces Partnership with the NBA, WNBA and USA Basketball

Spokesman-Review: Former Gonzaga standout Courtney Vandersloot reflects on record-breaking WNBA season

Morning add -ons:

Rick Insell pulling for former MTSU Lady Raider Alysha Clark in WNBA Finals

Seattle Times: Out of basketball a year ago, Storm coach Dan Hughes is now on the verge of his first WNBA title

For the Win: Sue Bird (broken nose), Elena Delle Donne (bone bruise) kick off WNBA Finals

Might wanna review this: Kristi Toliver and Jewell Loyd Share Their Scouting Reports for the 2018 WNBAFinals

Sign me up! Moore, Parker And Taurasi Featured In Players Only: WNBA Legends Special

International

Intriguingly tight game: Canada’s Achonwa leads women’s basketball team past Japan in pre-worlds tuneup

NCAA.com: Women’s basketball: Top college players practicing with Team USA

Hartford Courant: USA Basketball Women’s National Team To Play In Connecticut This Weekend

Of note: Women’s basketball recruit first to wear hijab for St. Clair College (Canada)

NCAA

Not just a loss: Tracey Elizabeth Carrington, a former Morgan State standout,  Witness in Towson double-homicide case fatally shot in Overlea

Michelle: Inside the W: Mystics, Storm Punch Tickets To Finals

Legends have a tendency to do legendary things.

Two hours after the Washington Mystics punched the franchise’s first-ever ticket to the WNBA Finals, the league’s oldest player – not to mention one of its most accomplished, respected and revered – made sure that she would get there to join them. (“Use your legs, Luuuke.”)

Swish Appeal: Analysis: Mystics earn first-ever Finals bid, Storm finally get emphatic win to join them

WaPo: Now that Washington Mystics made WNBA Finals breakthrough, Seattle Storm awaits

Elena Delle Donne sat on a chair in the Washington Mystics’ locker room late Tuesday night at McCamish Pavilion, her left knee wrapped in ice to limit swelling from a bone bruise that, by all accounts, would have kept most players out of the lineup.

She wasn’t about to be only a spectator in the most important game in franchise history, so Delle Donne had slipped on a protective brace and proceeded to play more than 36 minutes in a winner-take-all Game 5 against the Atlanta Dream to send the Mystics to the WNBA Finals for the first time.

Mechelle: No mistake about it: Mystics are headed to first WNBA Finals

It took 20 years, but they are the star-crossed Mystics no more. Washington is going to the WNBA Finals for the first time, thanks to resilience, persistence and — finally — some good breaks going their way.

The Mystics beat the Dream 86-81 in Game 5 of their semifinal series Tuesday at McCamish Pavilion. When they left this building a week ago after a Game 2 loss, the Mystics were feeling upset and worried. Elena Delle Donne had injured her left knee late in that game, and it was hard not to fear the worst.

H.P.H. Delle Donne shines in big moments; Mystics advance to WNBA finals

A small contingent of supporters wearing Washington Mystics red cheered from the corner of McCamish Pavilion. There was three-and-a-half seconds remaining in a decisive Game Five of the WNBA semifinals. Their leader, Elena Delle Donne, had just flushed a pair of free throws to give them a five-point lead over the home team, the Atlanta Dream.

They knew it. The game was sealed — thanks to the 6’5 forward who remained calm when the pressure was at its highest.

SB Nation: The Mystics surrounded Elena Delle Donne with the perfect roster. Now they’re championship bound.

Mystics earn first trip to WNBA Finals with 86-81 win over Dream in Game 5; Storm also advance

How Elena Delle Donne went from potential season-ending injury to WNBA superstar again in 5 days

AJC: Dream’s season ends with Game 5 loss to Mystics

Biz Journals: Atlanta Dream bounced before WNBA Finals

Kevin: Sue Bird’s fourth-quarter heroics help Storm return to WNBA Finals

To reach the WNBA Finals and finally hand Diana Taurasi’s Phoenix Mercury a loss in a deciding game, all the Seattle Storm needed was a huge game from the current MVP and a Taurasi-esque performance from one of her closest friends.

Wins over Dallas and Connecticut in the elimination rounds pushed the Mercury’s record to 13-0 in winner-take-all games with Taurasi. When Phoenix controlled the first half Tuesday, leading by as many as 11 points, the visiting Mercury looked well on their way to making that 14-0.

Sue Bird couldn’t stop the bleeding from her broken nose in Game 4, watching helplessly as her team’s chance to clinch a WNBA Finals berth slipped away in the fourth quarter.

But when back on the floor in the fourth in Game 5, Bird made sure to make her mark. In doing so, she slayed the Phoenix Mercury and her long-time best friend, Diana Taurasi, to take the Storm back to the Finals for the first time since 2010

Rachel Nichols on Sue.
It was the eighth minute of the fourth quarter of Game 5 between the Seattle Storm and the Phoenix Mercury when things began to get all the way screwy, and then all the way deadly, and then, eventually, all the way legendary. Let me tell you what happened Tuesday night. First, though, read these six things, because all of the six things are important for context:
Game photos.
What did Sue do? Highlights.

The Seattle Storm started this season knowing it could be good. In 2014 and 2015, the team failed to make the playoffs. In 2016 and 2017, it was bounced from the postseason in the single-elimination first round. By May of this year, Breanna Stewart, for one, was fed up with losing.

“It’s time to start winning,” the third-year star said then. “I don’t want to come off as crass or cocky or anything like that, but losing sucks. It does. That’s just how I feel about it.”

In Other News
Think Progress: The WNBA deserves better

If you haven’t been paying attention, you’ve truly been missing out. And yet, it’s also hard to blame you — the media gives the WNBA such little exposure that it’s easy to miss even the most thrilling storylines and nail-biting games.

Some of the lack of coverage is owed to the sharp decline in local media in recent years, and some of it is due to missteps by the WNBA. But a lot of it comes down to plain sexism, and the blatant disrespect it begets.

Let’s start by looking at the WNBA’s broadcast partner, ESPN. ESPN pays the WNBA $25 million a year for the right to air its games, so you’d think the network would have a vested interest in promoting the league as much as possible. And yet, on Sunday afternoon, even die-hard WNBA fans who were seeking out the Game 4 semifinal between the Atlanta Dream and Washington Mystics — a game in which 2015 MVP Delle Donne made a miraculous comeback from injury to lead the Mystics over the Dream and force a Game 5 — were left lost and confused.

 

Forbes: WNBA Players Are Simply Asking For A Greater Share Of WNBA Revenues

Sights and Sounds from USA Basketball Women’s National Team Training Camp

Hashtag Basketball: The Connecticut Sun’s 2018 Season

The Connecticut Sun ended the 2018 season with a 21-13 record and earned a single-bye in the playoffs with the #4 seed, only to get bounced in the second round (again) by the Phoenix Mercury (again). What happened this season and what needs to happen going forward? Let’s discuss.

.com: Nurse Makes the Cut for 2018 Team Canada (Yeah, Kia “Jersey!”)

NCAA

UND News: More Prestigious Honors Await Coach McGraw This Fall

Albuquerque News: Women’s basketball: Highly touted Everett could be a star for Lobos

ESPN: Tina Thompson’s storybook career takes her all the way to Naismith HOF

When Tina Thompson was a youngster, she envisioned her grown-up self a lawyer, sitting inside her Los Angeles office, framed Harvard degree on the wall.

She didn’t dream USC would offer her a basketball scholarship. Nor could she have predicted that she would be the first pick in the inaugural WNBA draft, or that she would be integral to the Houston Comets winning the first four league championships.

Thompson didn’t picture herself in a USA basketball uniform. Even as recently as a few years ago, she had no plan to coach, either, but after working as an assistant and later associate head coach at Texas, she’s in the early months of her first head-coaching job at Virginia.

especially while zipping out to visit the Poppa for a post-birthday celebration. (Dad, btw, became a Liberty fan because I was a Liberty fan. No surprise, the thinks Dolan is a short-sighted putz.)

Anyhoo – between train, walks and yummy food, there were four fab games to keep our basketball-high going strong. What was NOT cool, of course, was the clown show ESPN’s coverage was.

High Post Hoops: Column: ESPN’s no-win situation over WNBA broadcast snafu

Oh, well. Can’t wait for two game 5s to be on ESPN2 and *squints at notes* ESPNews.

WTF.

BUT, if you’re cranky about this and are using social media to let the world know, don’t forget to TAG those who make the decisions: @wnba @WNBAPrez @ESPN_WomenHoop @espn @CStiffESPN @TaraESPN

Now, about those games.

Seattle/Phoenix

First a knee. Now a knose. Fortunately, Bird knows about broken noses. I mean, she carries a facemask with her! Small comfort to Seattle that she’s well versed from playing behind the fiberglass, as they could have used her savvy down the homestretch of yesterday’s game. Phoenix made sure to keep their fans’ hearts beating by pretending it was going to be a blow out, then fighting back to with the game on an improbable hook shot followed by a…. defensive stand? Wait, Phoenix?

Mechelle: Phoenix rallies again to force Game 5 as Seattle suffers first back-to-back losses of season

It has been a record-breaking WNBA season full of highlight-reel plays and intense competition. So it figures that both semifinal series are headed to a deciding Game 5.

For Phoenix, that meant becoming the first team in league history to climb back from an 0-2 series start to force a Game 5.

“It’s good basketball,” Mercury center Brittney Griner said after Phoenix’s come-from-behind 86-84 victory Sunday to even its series with Seattle.

Arizona Daily Star: Griner, Mercury rally to beat Storm, force deciding Game 5

Arizona Sports: Griner, Mercury fight back from 17-point deficit, force Game 5

High Post Hoops: How Brittney Griner found another gear and kept the Mercury alive

Hobbled thanks to an opponent’s flailing leg after a clanked free throw, with an eye decorated purple from a Game 3 collision, Brittney Griner in victory closely resembled her Phoenix Mercury as she walked off the court of Sunday’s Game 4 in Phoenix: Battered but resilient.

Griner’s 29 points not only tied a playoff career high, but led the Mercury to another comeback win, this time from down as many as 17.

The first time I spoke to Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner, it was for a 2014 cover story in Curve Magazine. Her memoir, “In My Skin,” had just been released, and she was fresh off of her rookie season in the WNBA. She was laid back and relaxed – a 23-year-old kid with natural basketball talent, an ardent sense of humor, and a hell of a lot of potential.

Griner joked through most of the interview, but we also touched on some off-of-the-court topics that demanded a bit of gravity and introspection. I’ve had a soft spot for her ever since, not just because of how she was so open and honest in our discussion, but also by her humble-hearted spirit. At the time, I don’t think she realized the true talent she had or how valuable her basketball skills were.

.com: Game Recap: Mercury Come Back From 17 Down, Force Game 5

Michelle: Inside The W: Bonner’s Journey From New Mother To WNBA Semis plus DeWanna Bonner has been unstoppable force for Phoenix in playoffs

Atlanta/Washington

EDD was back, and boy was DC happy.

WaPo: Elena Delle Donne’s return powers Mystics to Game 4 victory

Though Delle Donne wasn’t Washington’s leading scorer — that honor belonged to guard Kristi Toliver, who snapped out of a cold stretch on her shot with 22 points — she finished as a game-high plus-24 during her 33 minutes 42 seconds on the floor.

She would have launched dagger stares at Thibault had she played a minute less. Recognizing the gravity of the moment, Delle Donne didn’t hold back.

“I would’ve killed Coach if he didn’t let me play full out,” the sixth-year forward said as Thibault chuckled from across the room.

ESPN: Delle Donne’s return sparks Mystics, forces Game 5

“If she’s on the floor they have to respect her and honor her and that just changes everything for everyone,” Washington guard Kristi Toliver said. “I’m happy that she was able to get going, especially in the second half, feeling good, her legs were under her. … I’m just really happy to have her back.”

Washington City Paper/Lindsay Gibbs: Elena Delle Donne And Kristi Toliver Come Up Big for the Mystics

On Feb. 2, 2017, Washington Mystics head coach and general manager Mike Thibault announced that the team had acquired 2015 WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne in a trade with the Chicago Sky. Just five days later, he announced that 2013 All-Star and 2016 WNBA champion Kristi Toliver had signed with the Mystics in free agency.

Nineteen months later, it’s clear that was the biggest five days in Mystics franchise history.

Also: WNBA Takeaways: Washington Mystics dominate Atlanta Dream 97-76, force Game 5

Howard at FanSided: ARIEL ATKINS IS HUNGRY

Mike Thibault, Mystics head coach and general manager, began scouting Atikins during her junior year at University of Texas, and Texas assistant Tina Thompson, who knows a little something about WNBA stardom, made the Catchings connection for him.

“Tina had played with Catchings in every USA Basketball situation, and she said there’s nobody that works like Catchings until she coached Ariel,” Thibault said Friday. “She’s a guard, but I think she can be sensational. And she’ll be the first to tell you, she has so much to learn. And she is a note-taker, film-watcher, and you can’t watch enough film with her, she’ll ask for more. She’s just a sponge when it comes to learning the game.”

Atlanta Journal Constitution: WNBA semifinal returns to Atlanta after Mystics rout Dream in Game 4

Rob Knox: WNBA Playoffs: Delle Donne Returns and Spurs Washington to a 2-2 Semis Tie And Decisive Game 5 in Atlanta

Playing with savage fury and desperation, the Washington Mystics celebrated Elena Delle Donne’s return to the lineup by pulling away late to defeat the Atlanta Dream, 97-76, in Game Four of an intense WNBA semifinal series at the Charles E. Smith Center on George Washington’s campus Sunday afternoon.

.com: Postgame Notes & Quotes: Mystics Force Game 5

High Post Hoops: WNBA Playoffs: Coach of the Year Nicki Collen one win away from her first-ever WNBA Finals

In other news: Chicago Sky fires coach/GM Amber Stocks after 2 seasons Intrigued to see who they find.

Yup: Dawn Staley wants WNBA players to earn more, as long as ‘it doesn’t break the league’

Says Isaiah: If You Know, You Know

I was watching my sons, too, to see how they were feeling it. What was it like for them to be up close with some of the best female hoopers alive? Sue Bird was right in front of us, throwin’ behind-the-back passes. Sue’s a bonafide Seattle legend. Breanna Stewart, also on the Storm, was getting her shots up inside the key. I’m happy they got to see this year’s MVP up close. Diana Taurasi walked right by us — arguably the GOAT. Brittney Griner was dunking in layup lines. That made their jaws drop, I swear. Candace Parker, two-time MVP, was doing work. Maya Moore, four-time champ, was shooting that J. My boys got to slap hands with the players in the tunnel and get autographs, the whole thing.

Later on, sometime during the game, one of my sons said to me, “Dang, Dad — they are good. You weren’t lying.” I just smiled.

If you know, you know.

International

As you may have kenned, these playoffs will have an impact on USA Basketball’s prep for Tenerife. Lots of folks getting an opportunity to play-shine-strut their stuff, including:

SFGate: Sabrina Ionescu named to US women’s basketball roster

AP: Charles, Ogwumike headline US hoops training camp roster

Courant: Napheesa Collier, UConn Alums Invited To USA National Team Training Camp

We shall see: Canadian basketball’s future is now ’cause this is a problem: Nurse coming off excellent WNBA season that too few young girls got to watch

FIBA, Paul: Where will France finish in Tenerife, who will be their MVP and breakout Performer? Vote Now

Congrats: Asian Games: China break Korean hearts in women’s basketball thriller and China crowned women’s basketball champs at Asiad

College

WATN? Sydney Moss moves from award-winning women’s basketball playing career to coaching ranks

Sydney Moss’ heart was still in the sport of basketball, even if her knees weren’t. Win two national championships and three national Division III player of the year awards and it gets difficult to shake the sport all the way out of your system.

So the daughter of Pro Football Hall of Famer Randy Moss and Libby Offutt decided that, if her playing days were over, her coaching days needed to begin. And it hasn’t taken long for Moss to work her way up the coaching ladder.

Intrigued to see Committee Geeks dive into this: UK overrated? Underrated? NCAA alters its selection and seeding process

Arizona Daily Star: Five leading questions as UA enters 2018-19 sports season

Great leveraging: A’ja Wilson Is A Part Of The Kickoff To 2018

Drexel: Preview: women’s basketball set for great season

Hawkeye Sports: A Golden Opportunity

It took a few shots in the dark for University of Iowa women’s basketball seniors Hannah Stewart and >Megan Gustafson to help USA Team to a FISU America Games gold medal this summer.

Literally.

History: (Unless you’ve followed WBH and/or surveyed the WBH Timeline) The Nearly Forgotten History Of Basketball HOF Inductee Ora Washington

According to the Times, “Miss Washington” held the American Tennis Association’s singles title for 12 years — actually, it was eight. Her prowess on the basketball court wasn’t mentioned.

“They say she was an allround athlete who had speed and a smashing serve,” Charlie Mays, founder of the Black Athletes Hall of Fame told the Times. “But racial barriers were too strong to break during her day, so many of her achievements were never acknowledged.”

Mays says that based on bits and pieces of information he has received, Miss Washington is believed to be in her late 60s and was last known to be living in Philadelphia. He says he will keep Miss Washington’s awards in a glass case in his office until he can find her.

Len Lear knows where “Miss Washington” was that night.

“She could not be there, because she had died five years earlier,” Len says.

 

*all sing* Get Ready!

Get reaaaaady!

Lots on tap tonight if you’re a sports fan: USA v. Canada World Baseball Cup Bronze medal game, Japan v. Chinese Taipei Gold medal game, WNBA playoff, USWNT, Williams v. Williams…. A virtual cornucopia of excellence and intrigue.

Something to read (while you’re working, of course):

.com: (stole my line, I see…) Recapping An Amazing Start To #WNBAPlayoffs

AP: Mystics hope to have Delle Donne available vs. Dream

Mystics game is (close to) SOLD OUT.

AP: Mystics Set To Host Dream in Game 3 With Series Tied

WaPo: Elena Delle Donne getting ‘round-the-clock rehab’ for bone bruise, status for Game 3 in doubt

Albert: Analysis: How will the Mystics adjust with Elena Delle Donne not at full strength?

SB Nation: Meet the WNBA’s best-kept secret — for now. Tiffany Hayes of the underestimated Atlanta Dream isn’t a Batman or Robin. She’s just damn good.

Hayes, the eternal sidekick, has become the team’s centerpiece, but she still can’t seem to shake her Robin status. Her stats aren’t as gaudy as peers like Liz Cambage and Breanna Stewart and she’s not an endless highlight reel like Diana Taurasi or Delle Donne, though Hayes’ mean left-right cross has been known to break Skylar Diggins’ ankles.

The same trait that made the Dream such an unlikely threat also makes Hayes one of the league’s best kept secrets: balance. Now that they’re finally center stage, it’s becoming obvious to the rest of the league that she’s the perfect star for a team without stars. Instead of a signature move or otherworldly skill, Hayes’ biggest strength is not having a weakness.

Swish Appeal: Hoops Happening: Can Phoenix keep ‘The Chase’ for another title alive with a Game 3 win at home against Seattle?

Diana Taurasi didn’t get to be the Greatest of All Time (GOAT) without acquiring keen sensibilities and a heck of a lot of wisdom. When I spoke to Taurasi before the season, she had this to say about what it takes for a team to win it all:

I’ve said it a lot, where you go into a training camp and all you talk about is championships and you forget to do all the work and the next thing you know, you lose in the semifinals.

Winners and Whiners: Storm vs. Phoenix Mercury, 8-31-18 – WNBA Prediction and preview

Carl for SNY: Bird-Taurasi playoff matchup on Geno’s watch list – Storm lead Mercury 2-0 in thrilling WNBA semis

“I made a comment to a guy in an interview before the first game about what to watch for,” Auriemma said. “With those two, it’s always fascinating to watch how they will impact the game and they will do it at the most crucial moments. Sue will do something that will put Seattle in charge and then D will respond, and they’ll go back and forth, back and forth.

“That’s how it was Tuesday night and they do it in different ways.”

NCAA

Don’t do stupid stuff: Tennessee sophomore guard Anastasia Hayes has been dismissed from the team “due to a violation of team rules.”

Road trip? College basketball: Texas, Missouri, Duke highlight 2018 women’s Gulf Coast Showcase field

Upcoming

FIBA WORLD CUP!!! Some interesting perspective from Coach Reeve on the difference between the Olympics and the World Cup. Gonna make the trip out to Bridgeport to see USA v. Canada. Hoping work allows me to hop the train to see Japan v Canada on Friday.

Japan women’s basketball team steadily gathering speed on road to Tokyo Olympics

In 2017, the senior “Akatsuki Five” team completed a three-peat at the FIBA Asian Cup, while Japan also captured its first silver medal at the University Games in half a century in Taiwan. Japan made it to the semifinal round (finishing fourth) at the FIBA Under-19 Women’s World Cup as well.

But the Japan Basketball Association and its respective national teams will not rest on their laurels, and aim to achieve bigger things going forward.

Canada women’s basketball building toward major event medal

Proud to play: No-one missing as Canadian basketball women gather for camp

The Canadian Senior Women’s National Team – Road to the FIBA World Cup Part III

The Canadian Senior Women’s National Team is back in action. Today, they kicked off the start of their training camp where the invited players will have a chance to compete for a spot on the World Championship team.

The Canadian team is currently ranked 5th in the world and have a great shot to medal at the upcoming World Championships, so picking the right roster is very important.

Speaking of Canadians: Rookie Diary: The Sign Off By Kia Nurse – WNBA.com – Official Site of the WNBA

Toronto Star: Canadian basketball star Natalie Achonwa has always had a head for the game

One of Natalie Achonwa’s great basketball traits has always been her mind, her ability to think the game and know where to be and when to maximize her physical talents.

Having come off a breakthrough season with the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, the 25-year-old from Guelph thinks that now, finally, both facets of her game have meshed.

Mechelle and Kevin: What are the keys to Game 3? Storm can clinch but Dream-Mystics is all even

Atlanta at Washington: Who will step up for Mystics?

The good news for the Mystics is that the door is at least still open for Delle Donne to play in the series. But that doesn’t mean she will. Even if she does, we can’t be sure how effective she will be. No matter what, Washington is going to need someone else to have a huge game Friday.

Dream: Atlanta Travel to Washington for Game 3 of WNBA Semifinals Friday

Hero Sports, Rachel Galligan: WNBA Round 2 Keys: Phoenix Mercury vs. Seattle Storm

Listen up! In case you missed WNBAInsidr: “I’m glad to see everyone is OK and functional after Game 2. Join us here on the latest pod where Aryeh and I react, recap, predict and ramble about one of the most intense nights in the so far.”

Listen up! offers blunt talk on the playoffs, Taurasi, awards and… Elastigirl. w/

.com: Sparks’ Alana Beard Named 2018 Defensive Player Of The Year plus a little somethin’ somethin’ about it from Mechelle and the OC Register Sparks’ Alana Beard named WNBA Defensive Player of the Year again

Get a beverage and have some arguments: 2018 All-Defensive First Team

Flashback: How do you like’em now? Breaking Down the Top WNBA Venues: Which Women’s Basketball Arena is the Best?

College

Cr@p: Delaware senior forward Nicole Enabosi will miss the 2018-19 season after suffering a torn ACL. She was the 2018 Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year after leading the league in PPG (18) and RPG (11.8).

The State: Missouri women’s basketball coach says she and Dawn Staley are ‘in a good place’

International: Three reasons women’s basketball continues to shoot itself in the foot

It’s amazing isn’t it? I have somehow managed to come up with only three reasons why women’s basketball is shooting itself in the foot.

Of course there are many more reasons and scope for improvement across the board, but in a summer which has been extraordinarily hot and therefore I have been additionally grumpy, it feels like the time lay down my three biggest frustrations with the women’s game. And, I am not holding back. (Photo – FIBA)

CAN’T SHOOT, WON’T SHOOT

Over the years, it feels like I am having to say through my own teeth that the attractiveness of women’s basketball is the team-ethic, the passing and the shooting. Well, I don’t think I am going to be able to rave about the shooting anymore, since in recent years the perimeter shooting in particular has become an absolute joke.

Real life

Ramona Shelburne: Why we should be living pregnancy and motherhood out loud

There’s this scene at the end of the second episode of “Being Serena,” the five-part HBO series documenting Serena Williams’ life as she becomes a mother, that I just can’t shake. She’s back on the tennis court for the first time since giving birth, hitting groundstrokes with her training partner, Jarmere Jenkins, to “see if I still got it” or if “I need to find another career.”

Her doctors have cleared her for some light running and hitting, but nothing too intense on her legs and midsection, which is still healing after an emergency C-section and several surgeries to deal with post-operative blood clots and a hematoma that nearly killed her. But Serena can feel her competitiveness start to come back almost immediately. She reminds herself to be patient — or at least, she tries to.

“Was it bad?” she asks Jenkins after the workout.

“Just now?” he responds, trying to read her obviously trying-not-to-be-disappointed face. “No, no. I don’t know how much more you can ask for. Just keeping the ball on the court for now.”

Serena doesn’t answer. She knows he’s right. This was always going to be a long road back.

Laura M. Purtell and Anna Katherine Clemmons: Athlete-Mom Confidential: How the pros manage motherhood

Becoming a parent is a monumental step for anyone. But for women athletes, the decision can be substantially more complex. We wanted to hear from the women who became mothers during their careers, so we surveyed 37 athletes anonymously who reached or returned to professional competition after having children. We spoke to mothers across different sports, races, ages and sexual orientations — asking them questions that are unique to motherhood, but also those that could apply to any parent. (For more on our methodology and presentation, scroll down or click here.) Here’s what they had to say:

“Bruised knee”????

Hell to the YES!!!” *did a little happy dance through the office.

(And to those who wished EDD ill – shame on your little small self. You’re an embarrassment to your name.)

’cause anyone who’s watched any kind of women’s basketball knows exactly where our mind went.

So, let’s say it again: “Knee bruise.” HELL to the YES!!!!

Now that that’s out of the way.

WomensHoopsWorld.com: Dream edge Mystics, 78-75, to steal game 2, as Delle Donne injured and Different game, same score: Seattle needs overtime to take 2-0 series lead

*all sing* Regrets, I have a few: I regret not watching Diana Taurasi on Tuesday night

In middle school, I used to watch the 2003 Final Four game between UConn and Texas almost every morning. UConn trailed by nine with 12 minutes left in the second half — a game no one expected them to be in after the graduation of superstars Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Tamika Williams and Asjha Jones — who all were selected in the first round of the 2002 WNBA draft. Taurasi was 1-6 in the second half before UConn started to claw back. 

And with 2:07 left on the clock, Taurasi came around a double screen to hit a 3-pointer. Connecticut advanced and won their second of three consecutive championships.

So, of all people, I should have known better about going to bed early.

Shea: Even in Defeat, Diana Taurasi Is Magic

DeWanna Bonner, inbounding the ball from the right sideline on the Mercury’s side of the court, lobbed it up to Brittney Griner, who had floated over toward the opposite corner. Griner plucked it out of the air, and before her feet even touched the ground she was already looking for Taurasi. Because she knew what everyone else on the court knew. And what everyone in the stands knew. And what everyone watching the game on TV knew. And what all of the birds and the bugs and the animals and the slugs and the plants and the dirt and the sun and the universe and the amoebas knew: that Taurasi was taking that shot.

Jemelle: Breanna Stewart, MVP and athlete activist

She turned 24 on Monday, and while she’s still barely scratching the surface of her potential, it’s delightful to watch Stewart evolve so quickly as both a player and a person.

She’s found her voice and, perhaps, her calling to speak for those who are most vulnerable in our society. Besides being outspoken about sexual abuse, Stewart also participated in a massive protest at the Los Angeles International Airport last year. The protest was against the president’s travel ban, which many felt unfairly targeted Muslim countries.

So I had to ask her: How does it feel to be described as woke?

Stewart chuckled, at first.

“I think it’s fitting,” she said. “It’s just being aware of things.”

Sometimes, the personal evolution of a great player doesn’t take place until later in their career — if at all.

Listen up: WNBAInsdr: Aryeh Schwartz & Rachel Galligan chat game 2 of the Semi-Finals on an episode coming to your ears tonight

Listen up: High Post Hoops: Podcast: WNBA semifinals check-ins with Lindsay Gibbs and Alex Simon

ALSO

House money: Reaction to Las Vegas Aces winning the #1 overall pick in 2019

So, now that weak dudes are making sh*t up about players and such, does that mean we’ve hit the big time? WNBA players have become targets of fake pay disparity quotes on social media. Here’s what they’re actually arguing for. (Also, PSA: They’re not protesting the anthem)

Do NOT want to check news feeds obsessively for an update on Delle Donne. Do. Not. Want.

DO want to enjoy the fact that we were gifted two more amazing games, one OT and a total point differential of …7.

Quick hits

ESPN: Mystics lose Elena Delle Donne, Game 2 as Dream even series

AJC: Dream hold on for 78-75 win over Mystics in Game 2

Washington Post: Mystics lose Elena Delle Donne to knee injury, fall in Game 2 of WNBA

ESPN: After blowing another double-digit lead, Storm regroup to hold off Taurasi, Mercury

Breanna Stewart, Seattle Storm Barely Escape Diana Taurasi, Mercury’s Rally Bid…

(Among other things) WNBA Sneaker Culture Deserves More Respect

Tick Tock Till Tip Off…

Till then… Mechelle: At the free throw line, Elena Delle Donne is as dependable as it gets

Right foot toeing the free throw line, standing at a slight angle to the basket. Three dribbles. Right arm lifted to a 90-degree position. Line up the shot. Pause. Flick of the wrist with a lift of the ankles.

That’s the routine of one of the best free throw shooters in basketball history. And the Washington Mystics’ Elena Delle Donne has done the exact same thing since eighth grade.

“For me, it’s about making the shot as simple as possible, taking away anything that could go wrong,” Delle Donne said. “Simplicity is what gives me confidence.”

For Diana Taurasi, one night sticks out in a rivalry with Sue Bird that has spanned more than half their lives and defined a generation of guard play in women’s basketball.

It is the night she beat Bird in bowling.

“It was one of those dark, cold nights in Russia,” Taurasi said in a phone interview, before the two former Connecticut and current U.S.A. Basketball teammates faced off in Game 1 of their W.N.B.A. semifinal series on Sunday. “I remember it was at this bowling place where we used go to in Moscow. Not much else to do, and bowling always got a little competitive. She’s a good bowler. I’m not a great bowler, but I did have the best score ever in Russia, that’s all I can say. That’s all I remember.”

Bird, needless to say, remembers it differently.

“Don’t let her fool you,” Bird said. “It’s me. I beat her pretty much every time.”

Listen up:  podcast episode: We recap the Sunday afternoon games and preview Tuesday night’s games. Game 2 of Mystics-Dream and Mercury-Storm semifinals series tonight on ESPN2

SB Nation: Why Sue Bird stayed in Seattle instead of chasing a WNBA superteam

At this critical point, she had to decide what to do with the end of her career: Ring-chase, or ride it out with the Storm, who were dreadful enough to earn consecutive No. 1 picks in the 2015 and 2016 drafts. (The Storm finished 31 games under .500 in a four-year stretch after Lauren Jackson’s retirement.)

The answer wasn’t clear. Unlike the NBA, the WNBA does not allow a player’s current team to offer a longer and more lucrative contract than its opposition. While Seattle remained on the table, other situations were appealing.

Oooops! Scheduling: Tonight Sparks’ own will be on the debut of ’ “The Shop” on at 8PM PT.

Chicago Sun Times: Owner Michael Alter has big expectations for 2019 Sky

“I didn’t expect we’d be in the championship, but I thought we’d be a [playoff] team and sort of on the climb-up,” Alter said. “We’re a little behind where I hoped we’d be, based on that. Last year was kind of what I expected with all the new parts. This year, I don’t feel like we moved forward from last year as much as I would’ve hoped.

“But, overall, I love what we have from that trade and the draft.”

In other news

Buckle up: USC women’s basketball unveils schedule; Gamecocks could face every champ since 1995

Ooops! Cummings Dismissed from Toledo Women’s Basketball Team

7 points separating them. Hell, yeah, welcome to the WNBA playoffs! *ahem* Somethin’ that sorta rhymes – if you squint real hard.

Haters gonna hate
And miss something great
But we appreciate
The quality to date…

’cause we’re smart and aren’t misogynists!
which sometimes means you give/get new kicks!
(@WNBAKicks says: has been running with the all season long and it’s pretty dope!)

So… about those games…. MORE PLEASE!!!

Read (and listen) all about it:

Red v. Sky Blue

ESPN: Delle Donne, defense lead Mystics to Game 1 road win over Dream

Elena Delle Donne did what she does: Pour in points, grab rebounds and generally wear out the opposition. At 6-foot-5, she can be practically unstoppable.

But the third-seeded Mystics’ 87-84 victory over the No. 2 Dream in Game 1 of their WNBA semifinal series on Sunday was not just a Delle Donne tour de force.

Yes, she had 32 points and 13 rebounds. But perimeter defense, led by guards Natasha Cloud and Ariel Atkins, was the other huge factor for Washington. When the Mystics had to have stops — including in the game’s final sequence — those two led the way in getting them.

Washington Post: The pressure is off the Mystics after stealing Game 1 on the road

Heading into the WNBA semifinals, Washington Mystics Coach Mike Thibault deployed some gamesmanship in assessing the Atlanta Dream’s home-court advantage in the best-of-five series.

Thibault suggested it was the Mystics instead who might be in a position of strength, knowing at least one victory in the first two matchups at McCamish Pavilion could alter the complexion of the series, even more so if that triumph came in Game 1.

Bullets Forever: Mystics at Dream final score: Delle Donne leads Washington to 86-71 win

AJC (Yo – this article is BURIED. Not a good look, AJC): Dream fall to Mystics in Game 1 of WNBA Eastern Conference final (great picture, tho)

The Atlanta Dream’s league-leading defense didn’t show up Sunday in its WNBA Eastern Conference final matchup against the Washington Mystics until it was too late.

It cost them the game.

Green v. Orange:

ESPN: Young Storm survive first test in WNBA playoffs

It didn’t take long for the top-seeded Seattle Storm to get their first test of the WNBA playoffs.

Looking for their first playoff win since 2012 as they hosted Game 1 of their best-of-five WNBA semifinal matchup with Phoenix, the Storm saw a lead as large as 16 in the third quarter dwindle to two when Mercury center Brittney Griner scored on a putback with 1 minute, 40 seconds remaining.

Could the young Storm, only two of whom were on the roster back in 2012 (Sue Bird and Alysha Clark), hold off an experienced Mercury team looking to replicate Thursday’s comeback win at Connecticut that sent them to the semifinals?

Diana Taurasi wasn’t trying to kill anybody. That was just what Taurasi said the officials’ reaction felt like.

“I was just going to talk to my teammates,” she said of the technical foul she received heading into halftime, her first since receiving a suspension for her seventh in July.

The technical gifted newly minted MVP Breanna Stewart a foul shot to begin the second half, one of her game-high 28 points, and kickstarted a Storm run that opened up what proved to be an insurmountable 16-point lead as the Mercury fell 91-87 in Game 1 of the WNBA semifinals at a sold-out KeyArena on Sunday.

It’s Episode 102 of the Rey-Rey Is Fundamental podcast.

More WNBA talk in this house. And we bring back an old friend!

The excellent Jasmine Brown (@jasmined_brown) of High Post Hoops (Fansided‘s hub for women’s basketball), WNBAInsidr, and Through The Pen Sports returns for the third time as we talk WNBA Playoffs! We also talked about how WNBA has been hot this year, especially with Skylar Diggins-Smith speaking out about pay disparity. Is one-and-done good for the playoffs? And what about them Washington Mystics, huh?

In other news….

Been waiting for something like this: From The Athletic: Sparks have some catching up to do after being passed by changing WNBA

How they respond in 2019 will be a result of how accurately they assess 2018, both the good and the bad.

And when they look at the bad, it starts with an antiquated offense. Offensive schemes are evolving rapidly, and Los Angeles has some catching up to do.

In a game that is embracing and prioritizing speed and flow, the Sparks managed to rank just 10th in transition opportunities. Considering that both starting frontcourt players are capable of beating opposing bigs down the floor (and finishing fast breaks), this is a missed opportunity for efficient offensive opportunities.

Similar vein: Changes Coming As Lynx Work To Build The Next Dynasty

The end of this Lynx season represented somewhat of an end of an era for the team.

We’ve known for a while that 2018 would be Lindsay Whalen’s last season, and while it sounds like Rebekkah Brunson and Seimone Augustus will be returning next year, their roles have changed from when they were Minnesota’s primary stat producers.

Like it or not, there’s change coming down the pipeline for this franchise.

Speakin’ of youth and futures: From A’ja at the Players Tribune: 

So, you know, to fall short of the playoffs here … I’m not shedding any tears over that. I know, and this team knows, and our fanbase knows, and the rest of the league most definitely knows, how hard the Aces worked this season, and how much grinding we did — just to get ourselves into this position where there were even playoffs to fall short of. And I’m incredibly proud of this group for that. We were 511 around the end of June — and we took this thing all the way to 1213 by the end of July. That’s perseverance. And you know what else it is?

It’s motivation.

So with all due respect to the assignment the Players’ Tribune gave me — which was to rank the seven best players, 25 and under, in this year’s playoffs — I’m going to have to call an audible here, and do a different kind of playoff preview.

We’ll do the five best players, 25 and under, in the playoffs.

But then I’m going to have to go ahead and save two of these spots for the Aces.

Because whoever the young guns on our team are a few years from now, I need something for them to go back and read.

Fever Fingers Crossed: The draft lottery is cause for excitement in Indiana.

Why the heck not: You’re The Real MVP: Choosing an MVP From Each Team

Yup. But we saw it live: Someday Everyone Will Know Lindsay Whalen Was Amazing

Last Tuesday night one of the most amazing careers in WNBA history finally came to an end. When the Los Angeles Sparks eliminated the Minnesota Lynx in the first round of the 2018 WNBA playoffs, Lindsay Whalen’s 15-year WNBA career was finally over.

The game was broadcast on ESPN2 and when the game ended ESPN2 went directly to ESPN SportsCenter. And immediately, the anchors launched into a discussion of August baseball games. No mention was made at that moment that Whalen’s amazing career had just ended.

Speaking of careers that have ended, have you been paying attention to Across the Timeline‘s Salute To WNBA Greats? Thank you,  Tari! Tari! Tari!

#WNBAAllSummer Sunday

Listen up! Burn it All down is a must listen.

Gene at WaPo: Washington Mystics carry momentum and lessons learned into semifinals vs. Atlanta Dream 

“I mean, we were in this last year with the Lynx, and we saw how quickly they were able to go up two games on us, and it ended so fast,” Mystics leading scorer Elena Delle Donne said. “So we know the importance of every single game, every single possession, and we’ve been through it, and we were on the losing side, so I feel like we were able to learn a lot from it.

“We will all make sure that everybody is ready and locked in.”

Also: Old Friends Taurasi, Birds as Storm faces Mercury

.com: Mercury Advance to WNBA Semifinals, Three Wins Away from WNBA Finals

Michelle: Inside The W: The Top WNBA Playoff Semifinals Storylines

.com: WNBA Playoffs 2018 Semifinal Preview: (2) Atlanta Dream vs. (3) Washington Mystics

WPVI TV: Matt O’Donnell with WNBA Superstar Elena Delle Donne on The Travel Mug Podcast

Yup: Breanna Stewart named WNBA MVP

Seattle forward Breanna Stewart had two things on her mind entering this season: get the Storm back to the top of the league standings and be the WNBA’s MVP. She has done both.

Stewart was named MVP on Sunday and will receive her award later in the day as the Storm host Phoenix in a semifinal series opener at KeyArena (5 p.m. ET, ESPN2). The top-seeded Storm are 26-8, their best record since going 28-6 and winning the 2010 WNBA title.

Stewart wins the honor at age 23 (she turns 24 Monday). Another former UConn standout, the Liberty’s Tina Charles, also won the MVP at 23 in 2012 when she was with the Sun. The WNBA’s two youngest MVPs were 22: former Seattle star Lauren Jackson in 2003 and current Sparks forward Candace Parker, the only rookie to win MVP, in 2008.

Sue Bird, Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award: This is an importnat name on his award, in case you’re not a long time fan of the W:

The Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award is presented each season to a player who exemplifies the ideals of sportsmanship on the court, including ethical behavior, fair play and integrity. The award is named for the late Kim Perrot, who helped guide the Houston Comets to their first two WNBA championships before passing away in August 1999 after a seven-month battle with cancer.

Natasha Howard, Most Improved.

No Pressure: Natasha Howard holds the keys to a Storm run to the Finals

Also: Connecticut Sun’s Jonquel Jones Named 2018 WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year

AZ Central: Mercury back in WNBA semifinals for 6th straight year, seeking 1st Finals berth since 2014

The Phoenix Mercury are in the WNBA semifinals for a sixth consecutive year.

But they haven’t won a game at this stage since 2014, going a combined 0-8 against Minnesota (2015-16) and Los Angeles (2017).

This season, though, the WNBA defending champion Lynx were eliminated in the first round and the Sparks in the second. So the Mercury have no ghosts haunting them heading into a best-of-five semifinal series Sunday at Seattle.

Dreams face Mystics with Coach of Year, but Missing McCoughtry

Didja catch this? Minneapolis Star Tribune: Connecticut Sun point guard Jasmine Thomas: More than a basketball player

Komo: Storm’s Stewart named AP Player of Year, says ‘weight lifted’ after sharing #MeToo story

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Lynx star Maya Moore was less this season

Listen up: The Cheryl Reeve Show 16 – Lynx changes, WNBA picks

Columbus Dispatch: Rookie season in WNBA an eye-opener for Kelsey Mitchell

The Guardian: Liz Cambage earns devoted US fanbase after season of points, freedom and memes

Las Vegas Review Journal: Aces embark on WNBA offseason with eye on improvement

Bleacher Report: Skylar Diggins-Smith on WNBA, NBA Wage Gap: ‘I’m at a Loss for Words Sometimes’

The Sixer Sense: Philadelphia 76ers: It’s time to bring a WNBA franchise to Philly (hint, hint)

someone who’s waitin’. To distract me:

Chris Pross has some SHOTS! Check the photos out here at Just Shootin’ Hoops.

What should we expect from Dream, Mercury, Mystics and Storm in the WNBA semifinals?

One WNBA semifinal pits two teams, top-seeded Seattle and No. 5 Phoenix, that have won five league titles between them. The other semifinal, between No. 2 Atlanta and No. 3 Washington, is a meeting of teams that have never won a championship. The Mystics, in fact, have never made it to the WNBA Finals. The Dream have reached the championship series three times, but they’re 0-9 in those games.

The current playoff format, which was implemented in 2016, essentially did away with conference affiliation. Since then, the top eight overall teams in the standings make the postseason and then are seeded according to record through each round. Yet that didn’t prevent traditional East versus West in the WNBA Finals, and that’s what we’ll get now.

New York Times: WNBA’s Stars of Old Are New Again, and Six Wins From a Title

Deadspin: WNBA Playoff Bracket 2018: Semifinals Matchups, TV, Live Stream Schedule

Nuts and Bolts Sports: WNBA Semifinals Preview

Bullets Forever: WNBA Playoffs 2018: Mystics vs. Dream game schedule, dates, times, and how to watch

News Tribune (aka AP Doug): Storm and Dream take similar approaches during week off

The Athletic: How the Storm can win a third WNBA championship

The Seattle​ Storm,​ who hadn’t​ posted​ a winning season since 2011,​ find themselves​ in​ an​ enviable​ position heading into​​ Sunday afternoon’s playoff opener against the Phoenix Mercury.</span​>

All the Storm need to do is win a pair of best-of-five series for a championship. The squad will be rested thanks to its 26-8 regular season, which landed Seattle a top seed in the WNBA playoffs, and with it a double-bye and automatic advancement to the semifinals.

High Post Hoops: Block Party: How Jessica Breland anchors the Atlanta Dream’s defense

Video: “Inspired by those who have come before, THIS IS OUR TIME. We will defend the Dream, we will defend Atlanta!” – Mayor Bottoms

Ben at HPH: WNBA playoffs semifinals preview podcast: Seattle Storm vs. Phoenix Mercury

Texas Sports: Former Women’s Basketball teammates to meet in WNBA Semifinals

Good question: Will Seattle’s lack of playoff experience hurt the Storm?

The Storm’s Natasha Howard isn’t surprised by her breakout season: “I had it in me the whole time’

Deadspin: Diana Taurasi Just Doesn’t Lose When It Matters

In case you missed this: Washington Mystics: An energetic and efficient LaToya Sanders is ready for a championship

In May, during Washington Mystics’ training camp, center LaToya Sanders was absolutely exhausted. And, not in the normal, we’ve-been-going-lights-out-for-two-straight-hours way. The practice had just started, she was only doing layups, and she already felt like she was going to pass out. She knew something was wrong.

She alerted the Mystics’ coaching staff and trainers to her sickness, and immediately went in for a battery of tests. Soon, she had a diagnosis: anemia.

Space, it’s an issue (if we don’t raise revenue/fanbase) Multiple Teams Forced To Relocate, Losing Their Home-Court For The Playoffs. Cristhian Plasencia takes a closer look.

Hashtag Basketball: Record Breaker: How Courtney Vandersloot Rewrote the WNBA History Books in 2018

Fansided: THE WNBA IS EVOLVING RIGHT BEFORE OUR EYES

Early in an Aug. 14 game between the Los Angeles Sparks and the New York Liberty, Candace Parker did something she does all the time, something she has been doing since she was named the WNBA’s Rookie of the Year and MVP back in 2008. It was remarkable on its own terms and unremarkable for her — a perfect encapsulation of not just how stars like Parker have changed the nature of women’s basketball, but of how the women’s game is opening onto a new stylistic future.

Have you listened?  podcast on iTunes.

WNBAInsidr: May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor

Entrepreneur: WNBA President Lisa Borders Shares Why She Believes ‘Failure Is Not Fatal, It’s Feedback’

Ebony: WNBA Star Skylar Diggins Calls Out Basketball’s Gender Wage Gap

Hoops Happening: Thrilling start of WNBA playoffs leaves us wanting more early-round games – I understand where folks are going, but how about a mini – reality check: Two blowouts.

ALSO

Ya don’t say: Female basketball players face disproportionate racial bias: New study

AutoStraddle:: Young LGTBQ Athletes Are Still Facing Hardcore Homophobia; Here’s How You Can Help

I cannot imagine high school locker rooms are really comfortable for anyone. Thinking back to the many hours I spent in my own high school’s locker room, I’m flooded with memories of the awful smell, the body insecurity that came along with being surrounded by the school’s most athletic girls, the constant yelling of inside jokes.

I also remember in great detail the chipped, blue-grey paint color of the concrete floor, because I was looking at it pretty much the entire time I was in there.

Growing up queer in a small town, I came out only to my closest friends. However, in true small town fashion, more and more people seemed to know this very intimate detail of my life every day – whether I wanted them to or not.

clap your hands!

What, too soon?

Personally, I loved that clap at/clap back/talk clap back storyline between Williams and Taurasi. I respect Williams coming for the Queen. It’s a bold move – and necessary. But, you best be prepared to lose your head. <G> Of course, next time the tables might be turned…. But at the moment, we’re not talking about next time, we’re talking about…. SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY!!!!!! ’cause Seattle v. Phoenix and Washington .v. Atlanta is is gonna be some fun!

AZ Central: Phoenix Mercury advance to WNBA semifinals with win over Connecticut Sun

Playing in front of many fans who used to cheer for her in college, Diana Taurasi broke hearts once again.

The former University of Connecticut star guard scored 27 points to lift fifth-seeded Phoenix over the Connecticut Sun, 96-86, on Thursday in a WNBA playoff game at Mohegan Sun Arena.

BTW: Sun Coach Curt Miller Aims for Honesty With Team and Family

That Sunday, Brian took Miller back to the airport. In his third season with the Sun, Miller, believed to be the first openly gay male coach of a professional sports team in the United States, refocused on taking his team to the playoffs for a second consecutive season.

And he did. The Sun won nine of their last 10 games to earn a first-round bye. They will host a single-elimination, second-round game against the Phoenix Mercury on Thursday night.

But there was someone missing during Miller’s visit, someone whose anguish he always carries with him. Brian’s twin, Shawn, was not home. He was in an Indiana correctional facility, serving a 13-year sentence after a conviction for armed robbery in 2014.

Also: A huge shout out to the fabulous pre-game/post-game coverage by the Connecticut media. It would have been great for the Sun to have continued their playoff run – if only to give the league and its fans the benefit of their good, caring, in-depth work.

That other game: Not a lot of fun to be had during the Mystics/Sparks game – unless you were a Washington fan. For whatever many reasons possible, LA simply didn’t have a … spark, and Washington was all magic.

ESPN: Mystics’ balance, chemistry overwhelm Sparks in blowout win

“They’ve figured out their team,” Ogwumike said. “They’re not just playing well; they put people in good positions. People thrive because they have the chemistry. They know what people are good at and what people like to do. … They’re playing stress free.”

Quick peek forward

Home Court Advantage

There are times when me default for a game I don’t have a stake in is “OFFENSE!” Other times it’s “Give the fans a home win.”

Both were in play last night. Phoenix v. Dallas was a barnburner until the DT and birthday girl DB took off, while Minnesota and LA gave us the expected arm-wrassling, gut-wrenching game we have come to expect from these two teams. End result – a great night for the league.

Merc v. Wings

ESPN: Diana Taurasi — who else? — helps Mercury move on to second round

When the WNBA schedule turns its page to the playoffs, some players get nervous, some teams get tight.

And rightfully so.

The first two rounds are win or go home. That’s enough pressure over 40 minutes to make up for an entire season.

But Mercury guard Diana Taurasi doesn’t fret. She doesn’t feel that pressure. She doesn’t get nervous.

“It becomes a little bit more fun,” Taurasi said.

Pat Ralph: MERCURY USE OFFENSIVE EXPLOSION TO POWER PAST WINGS

The Ringer: One-and-Done: DeWanna Bonner and the Mercury Eliminated the Wings

Seven things from the Phoenix Mercury’s 101-83 win over the Dallas Wings in the first round of the WNBA playoffs on Tuesday night:

I. With three and a half minutes left in the third quarter of the single-elimination playoff game between the Mercury and the Wings, the Mercury, who were in the process of opening up the game, found themselves in a bit of a pickle. DeWanna Bonner, who had played well all night and whose defense was very responsible for having helped turn a four-point Phoenix lead at halftime into a 12-point lead in that moment, had the ball 34 feet from the basket with only five or so seconds left on the shot clock and (it appeared) no real plan.

AZ Central:  Brittney Griner tops Liz Cambage in pair’s 1st duel in WNBA playoffs

“When (Diana) and I run the pick and roll, teams really have to pick one of us to defend,” Griner said. “You can’t be at the point of the screen and get to me while I’m rolling.”

For years, Griner has imposed her 6-9 frame on the best centers in the WNBA. But this season, when the 6-8 Cambage made her return to the WNBA after a four-year hiatus, Griner was forced to go up against a player whose size matched her own.

WNBAInsidr: Wings Exit Postseason, Look To Future

“I think our team really battled,” said interim head coach Taj McWilliams-Franklin. “Phoenix played out of their minds and had some great shooting from their big three and they really carried them throughout the game.

“Our players took a hit, kept going, kept pushing, and we’re really proud of the future of the Dallas Wings.”

Dallas News: Uncertain offseason awaits for Dallas Wings after falling to Phoenix Mercury in WNBA playoffs

Sparks v. Lynx

ESPN: L.A. wins, Lindsay Whalen retires — and rivalry might never be the same

As the Lynx and Sparks were preparing to write the latest and likely final chapter in their riveting rivalry with yet another do-or-die elimination game, Nneka Ogwumike felt something odd in the Los Angeles locker room, and it had nothing to do with the mononucleosis that has drained her since last month.

Despite the fact that Los Angeles and Minnesota were about to play a winner-take-all game for the fourth straight postseason, the Sparks locker room was calm as can be.

“It was kind of chill,” Ogwumike said.

LA Times: Sparks win rematch of last two WNBA Finals, ousting the Lynx to advance to another one-game playoff

Tyler Berry at High post Hoops: NO HOLLYWOOD ENDING FOR THE DEFENDING CHAMPIONS

Ben at HPH: Takeaways: Sparks on to Washington, Lindsay Whalen’s last game, Lynx look to future

Tamryn: The ascent, summit and decline of the Minnesota Lynx

Star-Tribune: Lynx’s Season Comes to an End

Canis Hoopus: Eliminated: Lynx Lose in LA 75-68

.com: From Lindsay Whalen, With Love: A Letter

Check out High Post’s podcast – game reviews and previews.

Swish Appeal: Analysis: How the Mercury and Sparks won their first-round playoff games

Up Next: 

ESPN: Win or go home? How about win … pack and head to airport because: Phoenix Mercury meet Connecticut Sun once again in WNBA second-round playoff elimination game

Before the D.C game flashback: The Thibaults on Blake’s Jump Around podcast talked all things hoops, Mystics, Whalen, etc.

Washington City Paper: Kristi Toliver Is the Veteran Force Fueling the Mystics

“I feel like at any big point of the game, we’re always looking to her for the answers and she has them,” says Elena Delle Donne.

Other stuff

’cause it’s all about the swag: The shirts you need to show off your WNBA fandom during the playoffs

And, apparently, the kicks: The Nike Air Swoopes II, WNBA legend Sheryl Swoopes’ signature shoe, is back on the market (Hello: D-Wade offers to pay fine for WNBA player who wore his shoes) (Also: Meet Tamara Young, The WNBA’s Biggest Sneakerhead)

A fun read: WNBA coaches: What Nicki Collen, Dan Hughes, Brian Agler bring to their respective teams

Player’s Tribune, Allie Quigley: The 7 Best Shooters in the WNBA Playoffs. Period.

I don’t have a lot of memories of my dad.

Life is sort of cruel that way — what we remember and what we forget. But my dad, he died of cancer when I was seven, and it’s just one of those things: I remember what he looked like, and what he sounded like. I remember that he used to play outside with us a lot. I remember always being in the gym with him (he was a coach and a school teacher), and how much he loved sports. But specific memories have this way of feeling just out of reach.

When he died, my siblings — my older brother, Ryan, my younger brother, Jake, and my younger sister, Sam — and I started to come together a lot more as a group. I think our dad passing away really made us understand how, in some ways, we were all we had. How we were the only ones who could ever “get” what we’d lost, and what it meant for us to cope. One of the biggest ways that we did that was by playing sports with each other. First, you know, because I think that was one of our main associations with our dad — the closest we had to a full memory. But then also I think because it was almost this, like….. whole other universe. Sports became a sanctuary for us, from feeling bad about things, and from feeling alone in the world.

Forbes: Can The WNBA’s Many Stars Defy What The Numbers Say About The WNBA Playoffs?

The Guardian: How WNBA players fought back against the Twitter trolls

And: WNBA player calls out airplane seatmate for racist text message

Lotta this going on, no? The Undefeated: ‘Get back into the kitchen’: A WNBA roundtable on sexism in basketball (You know what they say, “The Stronger Women Get, the More Men Love Football”)

Check this out from Sports Illustrated: WNBA Media Roundtable: Examining Coverage of the League and Forecasting Its Future

With the WNBA playoffs starting on Tuesday, it felt like an interesting time to examine the league as a whole and how it’s covered by major publications, as well as hit on hot-button topics that have cropped up during the regular season. Keeping that in mind, The Crossover spoke with members of the media about their connection to the WNBA, how to improve it and more.

In answering the questions, members of this three-person panel were told to provide responses as short or long as they wanted. (These answers have been edited for clarity.)

THE PANEL:

• Meredith Minkow, Social media, Bleacher Report 
• Richard Deitsch, Media writer, The Athletic
• Natalie Weiner, Staff writer, SB Nation

The Ringer: The WNBA Needs Liz Cambage, but She May Not Need It  also: Liz Cambage tells us 5 ways the WNBA is failing its players

Speaking of being needed: Liberty Wrap Up WNBA Season On The Road Without Knowing What Home They’ll Be Returning To

Hashtag Basketball:  The Liberty’s Lost Season

On The Banks Episode #8 With Rutgers Women’s Basketball Alumna & WNBA’s Erica Wheeler

The State: A’ja Wilson caps off one of the greatest rookie seasons in WNBA history

Speaking of which: How special is the 2018 WNBA draft class? An in-depth look

WATN? Lindsey Harding the latest to make her mark in the NBA

NCAA

YESNCAA coaches McCallie, Legette-Jack plan for mental health awareness. I’m intrigued to see if they address some of the social factors that can impact an athletes mental health – misogyny, racism, homophobia etc. For example: I’m a lesbian basketball player. Hateful comments are pushing people like me out of sports.

Being an openly lesbian athlete is tough — and that’s an understatement. I don’t just have to be confident in my ball-handling and shooting skills. I have to work up the confidence to be unapologetically me, even when I’m targeted for who I am. I have to work twice as hard to focus on the court because I know I’m going to be treated differently than my teammates in the locker room because I’m a lesbian.

About eight in 10 LGBTQ youth are not out to their coaches. I was, and as a sophomore, there were many games I couldn’t play because my coach ordered the girls on my team to wear dresses on game day. He knew I wouldn’t wear one, and he didn’t let me play because of it.

Congrats: The Blodgett era highlights Maine Basketball Hall of Fame inductions

Yeah! 103-Year-Old Former Women’s Basketball Player Gets Surprise Visit From Team

International (No, my bags AREN’T packed yet. But soooooon!)

FIBA: Where will Japan finish, who will be their MVP & breakout Performer?

A Soggy Sunday means

some time for reflection and projection.

My Lib are limping through the last of a disheartening and humiliating season. No idea what the WNBA/NBA heads were smoking, but their ill-informed comments just poured salt in our wounds. Losing the Comets was a body blow. Watching the league lose the Liberty has been a slow bleed-out. Perhaps a Basketball Angel will appear, wipe the smudge off their uniforms and whisk the team back to the Garden. Or to the Barclays Center. But I’m not holding my breath.

All I can do is thank Katie Smith and random twitter-fortune for the two court side seats that allowed me to take my roller-derby crazed friend to her first WNBA game. In Madison Square Garden.

Her delight. Her… awed-ness? Her willingness to ignore the overwhelming sound of thousands of squealing youngsters and revel in the athleticism on display in front of her was heart-filling. And, because I know too much, heartbreaking.

You may already know this story, but this is what happened at the conclusion of the August 6th game: A little one, draped shoulder to ankles in a Breanna Stewart jersey was standing mid-court with Stewart, getting her picture taken.

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Not sure why or how she got out there, but there was a clump of photographers around the pair. I noticed a woman to my right, camera in hand, trying to get onto the court – to take a picture of Stewie, I presumed. No surprise, MSG security prevented it.

 

And then, Stewie started guiding the young girl…towards us?

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No. Towards the woman with the camera. Breanna in her socked feet, the little one clutching two sneakers that, put end to end, were almost as big as she was.

The woman, who I realize is little one’s aunt, is kvelling. If she could have been beside herself with joy and amazement and delight, she would have. “OMG. All Little One has been saying since she came to visit is that she wanted to see Stewie and she wanted her sneakers. Of course, I couldn’t say that there was no way that was happening. But look! Look!”

Stewie comes closer.

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Again, security is preventing Auntie from joining them. Auntie could care less, as she’s desperately trying to breathe so she can take pictures. She’s got a running commentary that sounds something like “omg, omg, omg…”

“Do you want to take a picture?” says Stewie. She beckons, and photos are taken.

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Stewie exits. Auntie is still kvelling.

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“Look! Sneakers. And she signed your shirt. We need to call your mom. She’ll never believe this!IMG_20180806_130353813.jpg

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My friend and I are kvelling. There is much kvelling around us from the fans who’ve witnessed all this.

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We walk off the sidelines and through the exit, and I’m thinking, “This is it. My last time in the Garden with the Liberty.”

And I stop.

Because there’s the two of them, phone plugged in, talking to mom about “Little One and Auntie’s Most Excellent Adventure at Madison Square Garden where the New York Liberty Played the Seattle Storm.”

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And my heart swells. And, no surprise, I flash back to 1997, when my friend Heather dragged me to the Garden to go to this thing I knew nothing about. And how I got chills walking into the arena, seeing thousands of people cheering on a women’s basketball team.

Thousands.

Cheering.

A WOMEN’S PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL TEAM.

IN MADISON SQUARE GARDEN.

So, fuck you, James Dolan. Fuck you for taking this away from us. From all the Little Ones.

Fuck.

You.

Oh, and everyone is playing today. Watch the games. Purchase tickets. Tweet about it. Write about it. Talk about it. Argue about it. Celebrate it.

“We Got Next” only if “You Step Up.”

Good Job, Minneapolis

Read ALL the Star-Tribune’s coverage

Twin Cities – Pioneer press: Lynx’s Maya Moore named MVP again in WNBA All-Star Game

Minnesota’s Maya Moore back on top in WNBA All-Star Game

The Old Big East was on FIYAH!

 

So, Las Vegas…. Las Vegas to host 2019 WNBA All-Star Game

FIRST: If you’re going, might I recommend a trip out to Spring Creek and Red Rock. Then, a must is the Hoover Dam. Time it so you can come back through the town with all the neon shining….

SECOND: Let’s continue to play with the All-Star game so it’s as fun as it is ridiculous. It’s Vegas – so how about have a roulette wheel that dictates some of the plays/sets at timeouts. For instance:

  • ALL 10 Bigs
  • ALL 10 Guards
  • WILD CARD: A retired WNBAer joins each team for a play
  • HIGH/LOW: Bigs outside the three, guards inside
  • 3s are WILD – 3 different players on each team must take a 3.
  • Deuces WILD – Last two minutes of the quarters: 2 pointers are worth 3, 3 pointers are worth 4, from the center logo is worth 5.

Spitballing some ideas for activities during TV breaks, before the game, during the weekend:

  • BIG THREE competition. The Bigs on the teams have a (simultaneous) 3-pt competition.
  • H-O-R-S-E competition between the teams
  • SKILLS competition – Timed (simultaneous) dribble races etc.
  • IF FANS CAN, WHY NOT US? – Videos of the best fan on-court events from across the league – and then, during the game, players try them.
  • HALF COURT HEAVE: The teams compete against each other, proceeds to charity
  • WNBA TRIVIA: A season long competition between cohorts of fans. Top two teams (3 people each) invited to the ASG. They’re celebrated and have a Trivia Battle.
  • LEGENDS OF THE GAME WALK THROUGH: Posterboards of players w/touch screens to see highlights. Would be great to have a connection to the younger players, as in – the player who most reminds me of me is… And have a side-by-side comparison.
  • YOU MAKE THE CALL: A virtual reality Officiating Game
  • YOU THINK YOU CAN GM?: A WNBA NBA Live video game competition
  • DraftKings FACE OFF: Top 5 players of the fantasy game meet with other players to talk strategy.
  • LEAGUE GIVE AWAYS – As prizes for EVERYTHING. Also, Sign ups available all over the place. A Louisville coach was disappointed that the ASG happened during recruiting. Not sure I believe most NCAA coaches care (Dawn Staley, you’re an exception) BUT, how about a “group account” give away to AAU/HIGH SCHOOL/NCAA coaches. The league tracks the number of game views. Any team/coach that watches EVERY game is put into raffle for…I dunno, a player/coach visit-camp? Merchandise?
  • BUILD THE GAME: EVERY attendee of the ASG game is given a “WomenCanHoopToo” voucher that is a Two-For-One to any WNBA game.

Plenty more were those ideas came from… Let’s hope the W plays along. (But first, can we the folks who runs their website)

Interesting W-ASG link: Mpls. City Leaders Host NCAA in Hopes of Securing Women’s Basketball Final Four Bid and Women’s Final Four committee judges Minneapolis at WNBA All-Star Game

Dabnabbit! Izabela Nicoletti will miss the entire season for FSU due to a knee injury

Hansmeyer is the proprietor and lone coach at Stacy Hansmeyer Elite Basketball Training.

She trains boys and girls in the sport she loves — really loves, just ask her — from kindergarten age beyond high school.

She might not have planned on working with college-age players again, but when some of your students wind up playing college basketball and want to keep their games in shape or take them to the next level, they come back to the coach that helped them get there.

When folks complain about the compacted schedule (necessitated by the FIBA Worlds happening end of September) my answer/solution is to eliminate the ASG every two years. Of course, that means players don’t get their bonuses AND we don’t get bonus coverage from those who regularly cover the W and those who suddenly discover it exists – even if it’s for one game.

Speaking of which: Feast your eyes.

AP: WNBA All-Stars, gathered in Minnesota, proud of bigger brand

Maya Moore, arms outstretched and her right hand gripping a basketball, has been on billboards this summer in Los Angeles, Minneapolis and New York. She’s in the same “wings” pose as the classic photo of Michael Jordan, whose Nike shoe line includes Moore, the Minnesota Lynx forward, as an endorser.

WNBA games are attracting more viewers. The star power around the league has rarely, if ever, been this deep or this strong. There’s a long way to go to capture more attention in the crowded mainstream of American sports, but these women have been busy building a bigger brand.

“You travel around, you see people interested, you hear the buzz,” Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi said. “We have a lot of work still to do, probably, but it is trending in the right way, and we’ll take that as a positive.”

For  Nick is taking a look at every All-Star.

.com: All-Stars Excited For Debut Of New Format

ESPN Media Zone: Star-Studded Verizon WNBA All-Star Game 2018 on ABC Airs Saturday

SB Nation: 7 reasons why the 2018 WNBA season is one of the best ever

Swish Appeal: A’ja’s first All-Star Game

ESPN: Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird leading Storm to top of WNBA at All-Star break

Last year, Seattle gave up exactly as many points per game as it scored (82.6), and its defensive and offensive ratings matched as well (104.7). Hughes set out to fix that. He said he used analytics more than any other time in his 17-year WNBA head coaching career to illustrate the tenacious defense he wanted — getting stops, forcing turnovers and letting the offense flow from there.

ESPN: More mature Angel McCoughtry leads surging Atlanta into All-Star break

“Charles Barkley said this to me, ‘Appreciate it while you can,'” McCoughtry said Wednesday before the practice session with Team Candace Parker at Target Center. “And I thought about that: I need to appreciate all these moments. Sometimes we take them for granted.

“You know, in four or five years, I might not be playing anymore. I’ve really learned to give my all every day.”

Listen up! Paying Homage; Tiffany Hayes – LaChina Robinson goes 1-on-1 with Dream G Tiffany Hayes who talks about her big halftime shot, her exclusion from the All-Star selection and more. Plus, Around the Rim pays homage to the Shootaround podcast by bringing back the “Cocktail Napkin” segment with the one and only WBB analyst Debbie Antonelli.

Sports Illustrated: Yes, She Can: Lindsay Whalen Embraces the Challenge of Life on the Court and the Sideline

NH Register: Connecticut Sun star Chiney Ogwumike humbled by WNBA All-Star honor

Star Tribune: WNBA 3.0: New generation of all-stars stands on shoulders of game’s earliest stalwarts. Today’s most talented WNBA players don’t have to look to the NBA for on-court role models. 

In 2004 Cheryl Reeve was an assistant with the Charlotte Sting, paying her dues in a fledgling league and about to enter her fourth season coaching in the WNBA.

Some of the players taken in the first round of the draft that spring? Diana Taurasi, Alana Beard, Lindsay Whalen and Rebekkah Brunson. They were about to enter a league put on the map by the likes of Dawn Staley, Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes. Reeve remembers wondering how this bunch of kids was going to follow that opening act.

They did OK.

Click through to catch at the Star Tribune’s coverage:

Ditto with Twin-Cities: Minnesota gets WNBA All-Star Game when ‘league has probably never been better’

Rebekkah Brunson, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi posed for photos together Friday in the Target Center press conference room, three record-breakers who have proven to be the best at what they do.

Taurasi is the WNBA record holder for points scored, Bird is the all-time assists leader and Brunson is the career rebounding leader.

All three will play in Saturday’s WNBA All-Star game in Minneapolis.

“That’s pretty cool,” said Taurasi, a Phoenix guard. “That probably will never happen again.”

Someday, when A’ja Wilson is a grizzled WNBA veteran, she admitted she might be more excited about the prospect of the All-Star break than the All-Star Game. Maybe.

Right now, the rookie star of the Las Vegas Aces, one of only two first-timers playing in Saturday’s WNBA All-Star Game, is soaking it all in.

Check it out: star is at the top of her game & intends to stay there. Follow her intense workout with trainer in the new series THE GRIND.

Sue at WomensHoopsWorldAtlanta fitting together to pursue a Dream Also from Sue: WNBA athletes: sport and character role models

About 12 hours after the Connecticut Sun notched an important win over the Dallas Wings Sunday, Sun forward Chiney Ogwumike was filming her teammates at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, for Instagram.

Shekinna Stricklen, who had tied the WNBA record for three-point shots in a game with eight, was asleep at the takeoff gate, sitting straight up in a chair.

“The vet, who shot eight three’s, is out!” Ogwumike marveled, with the clock on her screen reading 5:49 a.m. and her camera panning to the rest of the seating area.

Her other teammates lay across chairs or sprawled on the floor, clothing over their faces to keep out the light as they tried to get in a few more winks before boarding the plane for Connecticut.

It is a story that has been told on player and team Instagram videos all summer long.

Hello WNBAKicks: PUMA STEERS ITS HOOPS DRIVE TO WOMEN’S GAME WITH NEW WNBA DEAL

The State: One-on-one, A’ja Wilson thinks her new WNBA coach could take Dawn Staley

More from David Berri: Today’s WNBA Stars Are Very Much Like Yesterday’s NBA Legends

The stars of the WNBA will gather in Minneapolis on Saturday (3:30pm EST, ABC television) for the 2018 WNBA All-Star game. The actual game will feature the stars selected by Candace Parker facing the stars selected by Elena Delle Donne. Fans of the WNBA are quite familiar with both Parker and Delle Donne. But as Delle Donne recently told the Philadelphia Inquirer, she believes relatively few sports fans seem to know about her or the WNBA. Whether or not that is true one can debate. If you study the history of sports, though, it’s not hard to conclude that someday Delle Donne, Parker, and the other WNBA stars of today will be far better known. In fact, it seems possible that someday today’s WNBA stars will be as legendary as Julius Erving, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elvin Hayes, Rick Barry, and Bob McAdoo.

Fansided: Courtney Paris is a WNBA No-Stats All-Star

WNBAInsidr: WNBA Rookie Report: All-Star Edition

Honestly, I’d rather watch real games, but to each their own: NBA Live 19 Wants You To Create Your Own WNBA Player In Career Mode

Shea “Just Call Me an Aces Fan” Serrano: The Casual Superiority of Breanna Stewart – The Seattle Storm star and MVP front-runner sports a signature style of play—one that will be front and center at this weekend’s WNBA All-Star Game

There’s an obvious brilliance to the way that Breanna Stewart holds a basketball, dribbles a basketball, passes a basketball, and shoots a basketball. It’s intriguing. And captivating. And part of that, yes, comes from the allure that’s just naturally attached to knowing you’re watching someone do a thing better than nearly everyone else on the planet. (It’s why movie scenes when Denzel Washington flexes are so mesmerizing, or why a plate of food that a master chef has prepared is so hypnotizing, etc.) But the other part of that is how her brand of basketball genius looks so disconnected from everything else.

Care to bet? WNBA DFS: Best All-Star Game DraftKings daily fantasy basketball lineups

Upcoming Movie Night Alert


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/184569126″>SUANNE BIG CROW – Story Concept</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user8154464″>750 Productions</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Muddling Through Monday

NCAA

Comin’ home: Auriemma happy to see Elliott back at UConn

The State: This 5-star freshman can ‘rebound with the best of them,’ Dawn Staley says

Arkansas: Darts, Music & Tin Lunchboxes With Mike Neighbors

Fresno Bee: Remember Stacy Johnson-Klein? She’s back in coaching — and far from Fresno State

WNBA

The Kids are All Right: USC’s Allisha Gray wins award over Deshaun Watson, Aaron Judge, Ben Simmons and more

It’s been that kind of season: Fittingly, veteran Sue Bird puts finishing touches on WNBA’s record-setting week

SNY: Former Husky Sue Bird continues to build on body of work

“As you get older for a lot of players it’s not that they don’t want to play or that they get tired of it or bored with it, it’s usually that their bodies give out,” Bird said. “Whether it’s the world championships or leading the WNBA in assists or being number one in the most games played, all these rankings have nothing to do strictly with basketball success but with consistency. It is more about taking care of yourself.

“You look at Tom Brady or LeBron James and that’s all anybody talks about is what great shape they keep themselves in. For myself and Diana (Taurasi) especially, we are kind of starting that trend in women’s basketball where if you take care of yourself I don’t see why … When I turned 30 the first question I got was ‘How much longer do you want to play?’ I don’t see why that can’t be when you turn 40.

The Athletic: ‘She wants to be the best player in the world’: Already Seattle’s finest, Breanna Stewart has loftier goals

Waterbury Republican American: Maturing Stewie, already UConn icon, now major force in WNBA

Somethin’ up their sleeve: Aces pummel Fever to move within half-game of WNBA playoff spot

Well, hello! WNBA dark horse Atlanta Dream gallop to second seed

Let’s get learning: WNBA Playbook: Los Angeles Sparks ‘Double Wing

Candace Parker has proven over time to be a threat to pass, drive or score from anywhere. Los Angeles Sparks head coach Brian Agler appears to have unleashed a familiar action in a slightly different fashion that both gives the keys to Parker before the defense gets completely set and directly involves his three best players as scoring threats — Parker, Nneka Ogwumike, and Chelsea Gray.

Los Angeles went on to score 13 points on five possessions in what I’ll refer to as a ‘Double Wing’ look

One way to get some “time with at home with the kid”: Mercury guard Diana Taurasi officially suspended for Wednesday game vs. Chicago Sky

A trade – certainly not a blockbuster, but: Dallas Wings acquire Washington guard Tayler Hill in exchange for forward Aerial Powers

More fiscal breakdown from David : The WNBA — Or The NBA — Should Pay The WNBA Players More

Plum is definitely right about one thing: We don’t really know the revenue and expense numbers for the WNBA. At least, we don’t know these numbers as well as we know about the corresponding numbers for the NBA.

Each year, Forbes estimates the revenues and operating income of each NBA team. In 2016-17, according to Forbes, only the Cleveland Cavaliers had an estimated operating income below zero. Therefore, we know that virtually every NBA team had a positive operating income.

Well, maybe not. Even though the NBA gives us far more information on revenue and expenses, views on the NBA’s profitability vary.

Maaaaan, do I have some catching up to do: Around the Rim

LaChina Robinson & Terrika Foster-Brasby weigh in on Liz Cambage’s historic performance and the All-Star roster. Plus, they welcome Connecticut Sun Executive Vice President Amber Cox to bring a front office perspective to some hot topics and talk to High Post Hoops’ Howard Megdal in the “Growing the Game” segment.

Vote early, vote often: Sportswoman of the Year

Have you scrolled through this list? 

Damn: Former Clemson women’s basketball and Clemson athletics legend Barbara Kennedy-Dixon passed

 Kennedy was a two-time All-American, a three-time First Team All-ACC selection and a two-time ACC Tournament MVP during her four-year playing career at Clemson, from 1978-82. She went on to serve the Clemson Athletic Department as an administrator or in a coaching role for 31 years. Kennedy-Dixon was inducted into the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989, and the Clemson Ring of Honor in 2000

Finally, yes, I know: Former Penn St. women’s basketball coach Rene Portland dies at 65. But, let me say this: As someone who knows Rene Portland primarily through stories of her hurtful bigotry, it’s hard to honor her impact on women’s basketball without giving equal weight to the damage she did to the young women under her – and the silence of those who knew better and said nothing.

Okay, it’s a little more than two cents….

First: Get yourself a little background/context. Read these articles ’cause, well, I put a lot of work into them a while back, and I think they’re actually rather helpful to give the whole discussion some context. (Also – ignore any typos. These are the drafts I submitted, and I know my editor Lois Elfman rescued me when they went into Women’s Basketball Magazine. Not so sure about the WBCA Magazine. gulp)

MAKING THE CALLS: The World of Referees

Referees are expected to do an enormous amount of game preparation, including reviewing tape and researching team’s capabilities. Before a game the crew chief, usually the most senior of the three officials (referee, umpire 1 and 2), will initiate meetings with all the other officials (personnel at the scorers table are considered part of the crew), as well as a lead a 30-minute discussion amongst the 3-person crew to review the basics – media time outs, NCAA updates, coverage areas, etc.

Personal style will be addressed, adds Cathi Cornell, a Division I referee in the Los Angeles area. “Every referee has their own tolerance on what they’re going to deal with,” she says.

Towards the end of the season, she adds, the discussion will expand to include sharing coaches and player tendencies, and offenses that they run. After the game, all three officials collaborate on the post-game report. Submitted by the crew chief, it identifies trends of the game, notes if there were match-up issues, such as players who might be carry a grudge from one game to the next, and records any technical or flagrant fouls, as well as any atypical situations.

COACHES AND OFFICIALS: Reaching Across the Divide – A look at the relationship between officials and coaches and the impact on recruiting efforts

There’s no denying the growth of the women’s game, greater media exposure, and higher salaries and expectations has put everyone under greater scrutiny and, consequently, put extra pressure on the relationship between coaches and officials. But it’s hard to ignore the increased rumblings of “us vs. them” that has entered the debate.

EARNING THEIR STRIPES: Officials in Training

A few years ago Kantner said this about being a women’s basketball official:

“It’s not a vocation or an avocation that a lot of people innately say, ‘That’s what I want to be,’ because there’s so much negativity surrounding it. Everyone’s always focusing on the bad things about it: people yell at you, you wear bad polyester…. But those are far outweighed by the positives.”

And what are those positives? You get to stay close to the game you love; you stay in shape; you earn a little extra pocket money. And if you’re patient and good – and I mean really good – you might become one of the handful of Division I officials who do the job full-time and earn a six-figure income.

So where do these “positive” people start and how do they learn the craft? Well, if one imagines the officiating pool as a pyramid built on experience and shaped by geography and opportunity with Division 1 at its peak, its base – its foundation – is the high school official.

OFFICIATING UNDER REVIEW: Coaches, Conferences and the NCAA Working to Collaborate

It goes without saying that any coach interested in how officials are evaluated by the NCAA regional advisors or during the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship should read the very clear “2008-09 NCAA Women’s Basketball “Officials’ Performance Evaluation Form.”

While doing so, though, they should also pay particular attention to following section of the introduction:

Please note that this performance instrument was not created with the intent of replacing those used by individual conferences; rather, the NCAA women’s officiating program is interested in creating a systematic approach to selecting and advancing the best officials for its tournament. [Italics added]

Why the caveat?

“This is often an area that is misunderstood by coaches as well as the general public” said Mary Struckhoff, the NCAA’s coordinator of women’s basketball officiating, “I think it is natural for people to assume that because the NCAA writes and establishes the playing rules, that it also oversees regular season officiating.

Wrong.

All read up? Cool.

Next: Let’s talk “solutions” – which is the wrong word, because no matter what we do, officials will make mistakes. ALSO, no matter what we do, fans, players and coaches will disagree with calls.

Finally: Let’s talk intent. I’m proposing a way to elevate and de-escalate officiating in the WNBA. Elevate, as in, “support the development of a highly-trained cohort of WNBA officials.” De-escalate: As in, “defusing the adversarial and, at times, unhealthy atmosphere around the officiating profession.”

BTW: It is not a “privilege” to be a WNBA official. That’s the kind of language you use when you have an excess of high quality candidates battling it out for a limited number of spots (See USA National Team). This doesn’t mean that the goals for W officials shouldn’t be the “Best of the Best” – but, if you’ve read the above articles, you know some of the road blocks to that. Simply put: Time and money. The NCAA is a sweeter gig. More games, more money, summers off to work your other job and/or be with your family after nine-months of living out of a suitcase. If the W wants to entice officials to give up their summers, they need to be creative (and compensate accordingly).

So, let’s imagine the W is willing to commit time, money and brain space, shall we?

  1. Starting NOW, identify a pool of candidates for next season. How many, you ask? Well, take the total number of officials hired this year and add 25%. That gives you wiggle room for dropouts. The candidate pool should be a combo of recruitment/application/recommendation. Coaches, players, officials and DI-3 supervisors of officials should be asked to submit names. Candidates should submit tapes and application essay. They should then be interviewed. Initially, I would suggest the language should be more of an “invitation.” Just like many teachers, officials feel disrespected. Often, an attempt to offer “professional development” in this manner is likely to be seen as a not-so-subtle indication that you think they suck. They’re gonna be defensive and, perhaps, rightly so. Build trust, and they will come. ’cause every official I’ve ever spoken to wants. to. get. it. right.
  2. Make a long-term plan. Since we’re talking about capacity building and sustainability, your need to create a four-year budget plan that includes year-long training. That means housing, travel, food, and pay for every session. At the end of Year One, everyone’s evaluated and they either continue or are released.  This means an on-going recruitment process. Yes, this is going to be expensive. Stop trying to get quality on the cheap (Again, look at educators).
  3. Schedule short, in-person intensives across the year. These should happen during “break times” in the college season and host them in several cities across the country. Content would include on-court mechanics, communication between officials, philosophy and purpose, player and coach analysis, game tape analysis, rule book analysis, communication strategies, team building, etc.
  4. Online classes including analysis, self-critiquing, goal-setting. Participants review calls/situations – past tape, current tape, and their own tape – and discuss successes and challenges. They set goals for themselves between each session and report back to the group on their progress.
  5. Build officiating crews. Once the WNBA schedule is set, break the summer into five parts: Two units of games before the ASG, two after, then the playoffs. Identify crews of four, maybe five, officials that will work as a team. Unless they’re a disaster, they work as a team throughout the season, getting reviewed at the end of each “quarter.” Once the team is selected, there needs to be guided team-building, establishment of feedback protocols, setting of team goals, etc. The team should build a strategy for post-game analysis – what did we do well as a team, what could we do better, what did I do well as an individual official, what could I do better? How, as a team, are we going to sustain what we did well? What, as a team, are we going to do to get better? What, as an individual, am I going to do to get better? How are we holding ourselves accountable and what are the consequences if we don’t? (recognizing that improvement takes time and is not always a consistent upwards curve).
  6. Transparency: A page on the WNBA site dedicated to officiating. It should include the names of the supervisors, the mission, vision, philosophy, contact info etc. Also, an ongoing process of reporting that supports public understanding of the process (and, by public, I mean fans, players, coaches, media, etc.) For instance: publish the online curriculum, publish the review process, publish the selection process of playoffs, etc…
  7. Education of Non-Officials: Create an inter-active, online “So You Think You Can Ref?” class for players, coaches and fans. While we can’t make folks educate themselves, I do think that those who want to sit in judgment should prove they’ve done their due diligence. Participate in the weekly online sessions, take the quizzes, then be invited to a bi-weekly “Ask the Supervisors of Officials.” Those discussions are published on the .com page.
  8. Relationship building. Yes, I know why there’s an Oatmeal & Orange line between officials and players/coaches. Break it. Trust that officials are professionals and won’t let their relationships with players and coaches impact their on-court work. You know, the old, “As a friend… but as your supervisor….” Host conversations during the off-season with players, coaches, media and officials. Build a shared understanding of mission and process. Create a space where honest questions can be asked and answered. Also – THIS NEEDS TO BE PRIVATE.
  9. Accountability: At the end of the year, there should be both internal and external reporting on the successes, challenges and next steps. This should include a pro-active request for suggestions (different than complaints) from officials, players, coaches, media and fans.

So, there it is (and there’s more, I’m sure). And I’ll be the first to say that nothing I’ve written is new. I would bet several nickels that most Supervisors have some version of the above missive on paper, in their head or (yea!) in action. BUT, they do not have the support – time, financial, space, administrative – to bring this to full fruition.

This is just my attempt to use my experience as an educator-program director-professional development facilitator to step out of “Camp Complain” and into “Camp Possible Action Steps.” I welcome any responses.

Also, if you’re wondering, “WhatdidImiss?”:

In the other Saturday game, the Liberty continued their sad swoon with a 78-95 loss to the Mystics.

Some good games on today, all with playoff implications (how cool is THAT!?):

3pm: Seattle v. Atlanta: Dream pursue seventh straight win vs. Storm

4pm: Connecticut v. Dallas: Struggling Sun play at ascending Wings and Scouting Wings-Sun: Dallas looks to extend WNBA’s best home record heading into the All-Star break

6pm: Indiana v. Las Vegas: Aces engage Las Vegas community, show improved play

6pm: LA v. Chicago: Sky square off against slumping Sparks

BTW, a little international news:

🎊 with the first-ever triple-double at the Women’s World Cup with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists 👏 Not overshadowing the impressive 🇦🇷 win over @BaloncecestoFEB 🇪🇸 in overtime!

Final score 🇺🇸 92 – 🇲🇱 39 Better second half for MLI especially in defense (32pts allowed v 59) but definitely not enough to stop who with 32assists & all players but one on the scoreboard move to a comfortable 2-0 record

 

 

A 53pt game (and more). A half-court game winner. A triple-double. Records falling left, right and center. A bunch of fragile boys getting their jockey’$ in a twist and others going WTF @espn? ANOTHER half-court shot. A ridiculously fluid playoff forecast?

Honestly, you had me at, “Yo, this is the best W season in history, no doubt.”

News

Albany Herald: CHAUNTE’L POWELL: WNBA players, both young and seasoned, having breakout seasons

Mechelle: From Cambage to Howard, feel-good stories abound in WNBA

Patricia Babcock McGraw: How Sky’s Allie Quigley went from almost giving up on her dream to being an all-star

Swish Appeal: Most Resilient Player in the WNBA: Jessica Breland

Sweet: WNBA stars unite for unforgettable birthday for 12-year-old fan

Chicago Tribune: Jewell Loyd, now a WNBA All-Star, fondly recalls her time at Niles West

Lebanon Democrat: Mt. Juliet’s Clark makes mark in WNBA

Brava: Diggins-Smith Earns Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award

Take note: WNBA Indiana Fever Attendance Strong Despite Poor Record

Mike Anthony: Sue Bird Never Private, Just All Grown Up

All you see now of Bird, all you’ve come to know about her in recent years and particularly in recent months, isn’t the result of a polished new persona she’s worked to perfect or of any pointed realization that she has to embrace the spotlight as one of the top basketball players in the world, the face of a franchise, a standard bearer for a league.

She’s being herself, and she always has. We may view her differently only because we’ve been able to watch long enough, with Bird evolving like any player, like any person, does over a formative stretch of 20 years.

Little cranky they couldn’t arrange the game to happen when I’m in town. Sigh. Rosters Set For Team Delle Donne vs. Team Parker at Verizon WNBA All-Star 2018

The past nine months have been a whirlwind for Breanna Stewart. In that time she has shared her story of sexual assault in an article for The Players Tribune, discussed her assault in an “E:60” episode and posed for ESPN’s Body Issue.

It has been a time of vulnerability, opening herself up for the world to see the most intimate parts of her life. In that vulnerability, Stewart has shown incredible strength. For years she rarely discussed her assault, even with her family, but in the past nine months she’s been able to find the strength to talk openly about what she experienced. It’s a triumph for Stewart — something she sees as a sign of maturity and growth, something she sees as a way to move forward and help others.

International

USA Basketball: USA U17 Women Open with 86-48 Win Against Italy

BTW: The top 12 players to watch at the #FIBAU17 Women’s World Cup 2018

Looking forward to seeing them in Tenerife…maybe in the US. too? USNT exhibition schedule.

  • BTW: Women in the Game Conference – Washington, D.C. Sept. 9-10
    Conference Features
    Presentations from professionals in a variety of fields in the sports industry.
    Career development sessions for practical training
    Interactive sessions in coaching and event operations
    USA Basketball gift items
    Catered lunch
    Option to apply for acceptance in the on-going mentorship program.
    Ticket to the USA Basketball Women’s National Team exhibition game on Sept. 10.

NCAA

Alert: Marquette women’s basketball player Tori McCoy is seeking a kidney donation

You stay put: San Francisco Dons sign basketball coach Molly Goodenbour to extension

You stay put, too: Syracuse basketball: Orange extend Quentin Hillsman through 2024

You stay put, three: Michigan signs women’s basketball coach Kim Barnes Arico to contract extension

No doubt: Notre Dame Women’s Basketball wins ‘Best Play’ at ESPYs

Do you know why this is significant? Former Utah assistant Velaida Harris is named the new basketbalcoach at Weber State

STILL diving…

just like my poor, disheartened, displaced Lib. Sigh.

On a better note; looks like Beryl has become “just” a heavy rainstorm. St. Thomas breathes a sigh of relief, but there are still plenty of “blue tarp homes” that will struggle in the face of heavy rains. It would be cool if media folks paid attention….

Meanwhile, underwater:

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Smooth Trunkfish

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Arrow Crab

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Perennially shy Queen Angelfish

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Hogfish Snapper – goin’ right!

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Hogfish Snapper, goin’ left!

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Juvenile Spotted Drum

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Just a little closer on the Spotted Drum. Fuzzy, I know, but they move like ribbon dancers…

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Trunkfish on the move

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Can you spot the Southern Ray?

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Thar She Blows!!!!

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Thar She Goes!!!!

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You. Can’t. See. Me.

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Just talkin’ about the games….

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Grey Angelfish

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Lizardfish

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“Tryin’ to nap here….”

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“Fine! I’m up!”

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“BRB. Gotta go pick up some groceries…”

Still…

Diving….

Spotted Eagle Ray (sorry about the visibility) Here it comes!PICT0700.jpgPICT0701.jpgPICT0702.jpgPICT0703.jpg

There it goes!

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Baby Spotted Drums

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Grown Spotted Drum

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Squid!

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Spotfin Porcupine Fish (Puffer)

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Permit Jack (I think…my first spotting!)

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Spotted Trunk Fish

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Nature

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Gone…

Diving…

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Green and Yellow ruled Green and Blue: Seattle rolled over Dallas by 21.

Yah, ’twas ugly. Sparks snuffed out Westchester by 26.

 Rachel roared, helping the Sun soar over Indiana, 87-78.

Age before….youth, as the Lynx trumped the Aces, 88-73.

Did they listen? Nope. Chicago over Phoenix, 97-88 . Question: should we be worried about Diana’s back?

Up Tuesday

In the meantime: 

CBS Sports: WNBA Power Rankings: Sparks take the top spot, while rival Lynx start to heat up

It’s that time! ESPN The Magazine‘s Body Issue 2018.

You have to wonder what the trophy case at Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe’s place looks like, other than really, really big. The superstar athletes, who made their relationship public in July 2017, have been dominating their respective sports (Bird in basketball, Rapinoe in soccer) for over a decade. Together, they’ve got five Olympic gold medals — along with plenty of muscle and scars — to show for it. On the set of their recent Body Issue photo shoot, the couple sat down with ESPN’s Jemele Hill to talk about battling injuries, having to kick their nutrition up a notch and who would win in a foot race.

Swish Appeal: Hoops Happening: Sue Bird, Megan Rapinoe become first gay couple featured in ESPN’s ‘Body Issue’

Picking a 2018 WNBA All-Star from Each Team

The Unsung 2018 WNBA All-Stars: A list of WNBA players who have never been All-Stars and deserve a shot at making the team this year.

Yes, WNBA Stars Should Be Paid More Than NBA Referees

Inside The W: Love & Basketball for Dupree, Bonner

On this particular day, DeWanna Bonner is sitting in an airport waiting to board a flight to Chicago, the start of a 10-day road trip for the Phoenix Mercury.

Candice Dupree, meanwhile, is in the air on this same morning flying back to Indianapolis from Seattle, ending a five-day trip to the West Coast.

This is how the summer of 2018 looks for the WNBA veteran stars, who were married in the fall of 2016 and are juggling their first WNBA season together as parents to 10-month-old twin girls, Cali and Demi.

Social Recap: #WNBAPride at the NYC Pride March

NCAA

Ohio: Three newest members of Dayton women’s basketball team arrive on campus

Arkansas: Ramirez talks transfer to Razorbacks

A loss: Veteran women’s college basketball ref Rachelle Jones dies

Veteran women’s college basketball official Rachelle Jones has died after a seven-year fight with cancer.

Jones died June 18 in a hospital in the New York area.

The 51-year-old had been one of the top referees for the past few years and was rewarded with her first Final Four in 2017. Jones served as an alternate official in Dallas and handled off-court duties, such as assisting with instant replay reviews.

“It was so special, unbelievable,” she recalled in an interview with the AP in March of her trip to Dallas. “The Final Four atmosphere is just amazing. They put a lot into that tournament. The way they treat the officials is just great. I wish everyone could experience it.”