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on LJ.

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in Lois Elfman’s WNBA 15 for 15 is up: Crystal Robinson, Transitioning from Player to Coach

Heading into the 2007 WNBA season Crystal Robinson was in pain. Living on a daily diet of ibuprofen and acetaminophen, her body had a frank conversation with her head.

“It’s like my body said, ‘Crystal, you’ve got to quit. Do you want to walk when you’re 50 or not?’” Robinson recalls. “I got to the point where I was in so much pain that I couldn’t do the things I wanted to do. I became frustrated and decided I’m going to have to let this go.”

As the saying goes, when one door closes another opens. Robinson had always planned to go into coaching and she was excited by the prospect of being an assistant coach for Washington Mystics head coach Richie Adubato.1 Unfortunately, he resigned shortly after the beginning of the season, but Robinson remained as the Mystics assistant coach for two years.

She says the transition to coach—even with a team she’d played with up through training camp—came easily to her. Robinson, 37, attributes much of her skills to Adubato.

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Sparks hit road without Candace Parker

The key word in seeing Candace Parker’s prognosis after a knee injury suffered Sunday was this: weeks.

Six of them. That’s what is projected as the recovery time for a torn lateral meniscus in her right knee. And while there’s frustration to see one of the WNBA’s marquee players out for a significant time again after missing most of last season with a shoulder injury, there had to be collective sighs of relief, too, that the news wasn’t worse.

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Congrats to Texas A&M, nominated for an ESPY.

Ditto to Maya Moore, only the Second To Repeat As Borderick Cup Winner

Nothing to cheer about: Two ECU basketball players arrested, charged with fraud

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enjoying seeing Tulsa on their schedule? Mystics stop four-game skid by pounding Shock

Indiana stays en fuego, silencing the Lynx with a late push courtesy of Katie D, 78-75.

Speaking of “fuego,” look at d’em Stars! (And how frustrated are the Dream fans?)

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The unavoidable question

As in the previous discussion about race, coaches did not want to think that sexual orientation is an issue in recruiting, but it is at the very least a consideration, albeit one that depends on situation and context.

When ESPN HoopGurlz asked more than 20 college head and assistant coaches or recruiting coordinators whether a prospect’s sexual orientation should be a factor in her recruitment, all were adamant that it should not be. Yet, when the discussions progressed, it turned out that sexual orientation, in some situations, could have an impact.

“It does matter,” said the head coach referenced above. “I’m being honest.”

Another said, “It’s an unavoidable question.”

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Totally stinks

Candace Parker out six weeks

(Guess injury news comes in threes, huh?)

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On my way home,

but still have time to note:

An LJ-free Seattle took down the green Lynx machine, 65-55. (Talk about “old school” scores!)

Looks like the West’ll be interesting: the Sparks took San Antonio to OT, then the Silver Stars pulled away of an 90-80 win.

The Merc’s offense kept the Dream miserable. That makes three in a row for Phoenix.

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you missed a barn burner. Chicago and Connecticut took it to double OT until the home team won, allowing the headline writer over at AP to finally pull out this beaut: Sky shades Sun in double overtime.

Check out the the intriguing box: four double-doubles.

From Richard the Alien.

Okay, I’ll be honest. Very little happened in the WNBA yesterday that was remotely worth talking or writing about. Which is why this update is so late – I was waiting for inspiration to strike. It didn’t. So instead, I present a collated WNBA injury update, covering all the people on rosters who are currently known to be hurt, missing, or potentially out. Thought this might be useful to some people, at least. Back to normal updates tomorrow.

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Why teams enjoy

playing the Shock, by a Rebkellian:

I don’t think I can stand to watch Tulsa anymore. They are poised to win, with Cambage going crazy all of a sudden, killing NY all by herself, and just when they could win the game, Idiot RIchardson takes her out of the game with 1:15 or so left in the game. And what happens? They lose again.

This time it was the Liberty who reaped the benefits, behind a really strong game from Kia Vaughn. (Hmmm, maybe I’ll have to join Mechelle for some of that crow – tofu or otherwise?)

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More snake bites in Chicago

Dominique Canty Out with Knee Injury

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Omaha.

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at NBA.com’s Hoops: Katie Smith, Three-Point Queen

The year Katie Smith graduated from college at Ohio State University1 women’s basketball leapt into the national consciousness as the U.S. women’s Olympic basketball team earned a decisive gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. That excitement was met by the launch of two women’s pro leagues: the WNBA and the ABL.

Smith opted to join the ABL, staying close to home with the Columbus Quest.2 For the next two years she barely lost a game, as the Quest won two league championships.

The ABL folded midway through its third season, leaving Smith and many other professional women’s basketball players wondering about their futures.

“That was kind of a tricky time,” recalls Smith of the months leading up to the 1999 WNBA Draft. “You had an influx of all these ABL players that are bouncing over to the WNBA.3 You have WNBA players trying to save their jobs. There was some negotiation.

“They wanted to protect what they had, but also wanted the best basketball league. Eventually, that’s what it was.”

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How do you inspire a 15-year-vet?

Bench her.

Yup. Tina Thompson sat and then took out her peevedness on the Lib with a key, monster block in the waning seconds.

The box says 10,000+ came to the Forum to celebrate the start of 15 years (and the 14th Anniversary y’all. Nitpickers demand that you get it right.) of WNBA basketball. My friend Maria, one of the best fans in the history of women’s basketball, reflected on that first game before catching last night’s game.

One of the days I will never forget is opening day of the WNBA at the Great Western forum in Inglewood, CA. I had been a loyal fan of the ABL and the Long Beach Stingrays and was somewhat skeptical of this summer league. But when I arrived at the Forum and felt the electricity in the air, I knew everything was gonna be OK.

Will be rolling in nostalgia this evening.

That night, it was the Lib on top, 67-57, so I’m sure she’s also rolling in happiness today. The Sparks survived a shootout, 96-91, thanks to a fierce moment of defense on the part of Tina, Warrior Princess. As Blair Angulo of ESPNLosAngeles writes: After 15 years, Tina Thompson remains – The Sparks forward is the lone remaining player from the WNBA’s inaugural season (WHB: Yes, we see he skipped over Tina’s old teammate Ms. Swoopes, there it is! Tsk. Tsk! And the doesn’t know his 14th from his 15th)

LJ went down, but behind Sue and Swin Seattle was not Shocked. Had to stop a rally, though.

Indy was Katie D free against the Mystics, but the Z poured in 21pts to secure a road win. Washington is suffering from too many DNPs (Beard has yet to play this season.)

Calling Courtney Paris! The Dream get a win over Chicago and CP3-OK helps.

“I tried to get her in training camp,” Dream coach Marynell Meadors said. “She came close to making L.A.’s team last year, and she thought she’d go back and make it this year but she was the last cut. … She’s a space-eater. She doesn’t let people push her around, and she rebounds. As soon as she gets used to our system, I think she’s going to be really terrific.”

In what was obviously a terrific defensive battle, Phoenix rode Penny and Candice to a 105-98 win over San Antonio.

“It’s big for us to get this first win of our four-game road trip,” Taylor said. “We had a few losses to start the season, but we really feel like we are going forward now with some momentum.”

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Coaching Elon.

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Well, if it’s not Katie D,

it’s LJ: Seattle Storm Forward Lauren Jackson Out With A Strained Left Hip

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WNBA Unveils 30 Official Nominees for Voting of Top 15 Players of All Time

You know, they should come up with something other than “of All Time.” How about the “Top 15 of 15 Years?” Or the “Best 15 of the Last 15?” (Especially since they did a Top 10 and some players have been added/dropped?)

Speaking of 15, Ben has: 15 Years and Counting – June 21 is a huge milestone (And yes, I still have the newspaper photo of Lisa and Rebecca boxing each other out up on my file cabinet)

Like it or not, the WNBA is still here after 15 years.

Some people hate that. Some love it. Some couldn’t care less. In the end, ultimately, none of it really matters.

The only thing that does, however, is that the league is still around. That, in and of itself, is a big enough testament to the rest of the world.

Over at espnW, Val reflects on Fifteen years of the WNBA

Fifteen seasons ago tonight, the WNBA opened its doors to paying customers for the first time, as the Los Angeles Sparks hosted the New York Liberty at the Great Western Forum in the league’s inaugural game. I was there, tossing up the ball for the ceremonial opening tip between Lisa Leslie and Kym Hampton. (To avoid embarrassment, I practiced many times before the cameras rolled).

A lot of that day was a blur, but clear images remain fixed in my mind: convincing the Sparks’ owner that I (and not his girlfriend) was the right person to handle the opening jump ball honors; scrambling to locate a recording of the national anthem after the scheduled performer got stuck in traffic and failed to arrive on time; Penny Toler of the Sparks scoring the first basket in WNBA history; Lisa Leslie missing a dunk; nervous players showing the effects of their much-hyped moment in the spotlight; and an arena filled with ecstatic fans, many of them women and girls, who bought up every last commemorative item we’d stocked at the Forum concession stands.

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From the Liberty:

As a WNBA All-Access member, receive Up to 50% off per person. Be there to support the Liberty this season in Newark, NJ with this great offer.

Be there when the Liberty take on Candace Parker and the LA Sparks on Sunday, June 26th 4 pm at the Prudential Center. Use code: TMN241 to save!

It’s through Ticketmaster, so the 50% will probably cover their fees.

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the WNBAlien for: 06/19/2011: Mystics are Shocking

Just the one WNBA game last night, and that was unfortunate. Because this was one I could’ve happily glossed over if there were any other games to pay attention to. Nevertheless, Tulsa fans will be delirious at getting off the schneid with a home win over Washington, and they didn’t even have to bite their fingernails as the minutes ran down. Mystics supporters, on the other hand, probably won’t be reading this. They’ll be trying to forget.

and 06/20/2011: Blowouts and Beginnings?

Another quadruple-game day yesterday, and three of them ended up in blowouts of one description or another, so let’s start with the only one that didn’t. Indiana visited Phoenix, the last team left in the league without a win (and it’s kind of embarrassing to lag behind Tulsa, even if the Merc had played three games fewer than the Shock due to the quirky WNBA schedule). The Mercury were desperate for a win to get their season started, and after being held to a miserable 54 points on 29% shooting by the Storm in their previous game, the Fever will have been salivating at the prospect of facing some nice friendly Phoenix ‘defense’.

In “other blogger” news… well, dabnabbit, I can’t seem to click in to them! Too far away to reach, I guess. I can get to Swish Appeal and, as always, they’ve got some great stuff:

2011 WNBA Sixth Woman Of The Year: Top 10 Early Season Candidates
Kristi Toliver Leads Dominant Los Angeles Sparks Bench Effort Against The Seattle Storm
Ranking the WNBA Sophomores – Week 1
Charles Puts on a Show in Sun’s Victory
Dream fall to bottom of East with Father’s Day loss against Lynx
Tulsa Shock Notches First Win of 2011: A Story of 40 Minutes of Teamwork

Oh, and make sure you start your day right by checking Kim’s WBBall Daily News page.

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for the WNIT Pre-Season Bracket!

Top 10 teams Baylor, Notre Dame, and UCLA headline the field that features nine teams that played in the postseason last year. The Preseason WNIT field includes Akron, Chattanooga, Detroit, Drexel, ETSU, Hartford, Howard, Indiana State, Long Island, Manhattan, McNeese State, Tennessee Tech, and UAB.

Click here for the first-round schedule.

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All who remember Rebecca Lobo’s always entertaining “The World According to Me” say, “ME!”

If you don’t, check out 1997-2002 and a 2002 and  2003 entry.

Need a sample? How about this classic from May 22, 1999.

Before practice could start, we had to have our physicals to make sure everyone was healthy. As far as I know we all passed. Sue (Wicks), Kym (Hampton), Coquese (Washington) and I arrived at the hospital together and jumped on the elevator to go to the doctor’s office. A man who was smaller in stature joined us. He made the ingenious observation that we all must be basketball players. He then added that Co must have to sneak through the other players’ legs on the court. Sue set the man straight – she told him, “We are here for our growth hormone treatment.” Pointing at Coquese, Sue explained , “She is here for her first one.”

Oh, and Rebecca hasn’t lost her touch — she just tweets. Check her latest comments on her “Most Unexcellent flight to LA.” She starts funny (There is a 4-yr-old girl on my midnight flight… wearing heels.) and then not so much (Delta flight 1323 from ATL to LAX. Left engine caught fire on takeoff ( think bird flew into engine). Returned to ATL.)

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Softball likely a key issue in Ball State University’s case – The program is operating without a locker room, as players sometimes change clothes in parking lot

That the Cardinals’ softball team, which has been among the best in the Mid-American Conference the past four seasons with two West Division titles and one appearance in the NCAA Tournament, has no locker room most likely was one of the main issues that initiated a federal investigation of Ball State’s athletic department more than two years ago.

The university has been under scrutiny since March 2008 when an unknown person filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights. The grievance alleged Ball State was in violation of federal Title IX laws.

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Kickin’ butt for England: Israel bows before Brits, out of tourney

Minutes before leaving for Israel’s game against Great Britain, coach Eli Rabi sat in the lobby and admitted he did not know how the game that would determine the fate of the national women’s basketball team would turn out. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends with us 20 points ahead or with them 20 points ahead.” With just over three minutes left in the third quarter, Rabi’s prophecy came true – in the wrong direction. Britain had gone 52-32 up en route to a 74-51 thrashing of Israel.

Reading the article I had a Big East WATN? Laine Selwyn.

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Rhode Island.

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Santa Clara.

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…now that the Merc have won number 1? (Don’t you love that about the short WNBA season? Every game is fraught with meaning… unlike that other league.)

From Mechelle: Should slow start worry Mercury? Phoenix (1-3) finding its footing in ever-competitive West

For nearly a 24-hour period over the weekend, you could have made a statement that no one would have expected to make about this WNBA season. There was a winless team left in the league … and it wasn’t Tulsa.

Instead, it was two-time WNBA champion Phoenix, which started the season 0-3. The Mercury began the summer on the road, at Seattle and Los Angeles. Because the league schedule can be so oddly staggered at the start — Tulsa had played five games before Phoenix played its third — the Mercury’s troubles weren’t necessarily standing out. Losing to the Storm and Sparks wasn’t such a huge red flag.

But when the Mercury also lost their home opener to San Antonio on Friday, 101-99, and then Tulsa won its first game Saturday, 77-59, over Washington, Phoenix found itself alone in the Western Conference basement.

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Yah, it doesn’t scan but it’s the musical thought that counts!

More “remember whens” from Melissa Rohlin at the LA Times: WNBA celebrates 15 seasons (Photo: Ooooo, it’s Penny and Sophia — and Sophia is wearing classic NY black. Sigh. I miss those uniforms BIG time.)

Even players were skeptical at first.

Sparks forward Tina Thompson was a USC senior in 1997 and hoped to attend law school when she received a call from a WNBA official inviting her to play for the fledgling league. Worried the WNBA wouldn’t survive long, she hesitated.

“I wanted to make sure this was solid before I walked away from everything I had been working toward,” Thompson recalled. Hours before the draft, she decided to take a chance.

She doesn’t have any regrets.

In a similar vein, Jayda Q&As with Penny Toler (And check this note from the editor: Seattle Times reporter Jayda Evans will have a weekly conversation with a WNBA newsmaker. )

Q: So, the first made WNBA shot was a baseline drive in the corner on the Great Western Forum court. What do you remember about that play?

Penny Toler: I scored it on Vickie Johnson, who’s now a coach down in San Antonio. It was a pull-up and I was lucky to hit it because there were some shots taken before. Everybody always asks me about the first shot, but there was a lady named Daedra Charles-Furlow on the Sparks. She’s an assistant coach now at Tennessee. We ran the play and … Daedra just caught the ball and shot it real quick. Not once, but twice. After the game, when reporters asked me about the shot, I said, “Daedra, you were trying to make the first basket in history, weren’t you?” She said, “Yes, I sure was!”

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Owee!

Fever’s Douglas day-to-day with back contusion

But really, would any WNBA season be complete without Katie D getting whacked but good?

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Stealing booty from the Pirate

*and then the power went out. well, never say never!*

Diana is going to make’em pay, what with scoring 32pts last night. You might want less-Kobe-esque shooting, but hey, who cares? The Merc got rid of that goose egg. Took overtime in what sounded like it was a fun game to see.

So last time Tina Charles face the Big Syl Sky, she pretty much stunk up the gym. Well, who remembers that when at UConn, Charles taped a picture of Big Syl blocking her shot as inspiration-motivation? Seems like that works in the the W, too. The Sun followed Charles’ 31pts to victory.

Seattle got stomped by the Sparks, snapping LA’s 7-game losing streak to the Storm. Really nice balance on the Sparks’ side of the ledger.

And the Lynx keep on rooooollin’, this time it was Atlanta who got mauled (again).

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Pirate’s Booty and Diana Taurasi Team up to Score Points for After-School All-Stars

Pirate’s Booty, leader and manufacturer of all-natural snacks, is pleased to announce its participation with Diana Taurasi of the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury in Hoop Heroes, a fundraising initiative that benefits After-School All-Stars (ASAS), a 501(c)3 charity that provides free after-school programs to disadvantaged youth across the nation.

Pirate’s Booty will donate $10 for every point WNBA All-Star Guard, Taurasi scores during the 2011 WNBA season.

I’ve got to admit, I love me some Pirate Booty. (And yes, I’m just going to leave that statement hanging….)

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