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Archive for May, 2012

And # 26 is…

Chamique Holdsclaw:

From the beginning, the city-girl-goes-south experiment was destined either for greatness or disaster: Chamique Holdsclaw, a hoops prodigy from the hardscrabble streets of Queens, taking her playground creativity to the University of Tennessee and a women’s basketball program famous for old-fashioned discipline.

And continuing with stories on college basketball:

CSU to name Williams its women’s basketball coach today

No pressure, coach Williams: Graham says women’s basketball coach must make CSU a contender

Sweet! Former DSU coach Margaret Wade to be immortalized with statue

Stinks: 2 Hawkeyes End Playing Careers Jade Rogers and Virginia Johnson end careers with injuries

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So much basketball, so many emotions:

LA Sparks fans: Oh, lord, we had such hopes and now lo…Whooopee!

Seattle fans: Got no LJ? Beat LA! Got no LJ bea… WTF?!!?

Liberty fans: Oooo, look at the pretty new seats, isn’t it nice to be back in the Garden and look, our team is… dabnabbit! Double dabnabbit!

Connecticut fans: Nothing puts you in a good mood as a close win followed by a good, old fashioned stompin’.

Phoenix fans: Well, if we lose by 19 with Diana on the bench, shouldn’t we win by 6 when she comes back off it?

Minnesota fans: We are the Champions! We are the Champ…. Watch out for that chair Siemone! Gulp.

Indiana fans: Look, it’s a healthy Catch and a hot Katie and…yikes! Make those freethrows.

Dream fans: It’s just one game, right? It’s just one game.

Chicago fans: Sylvia’s back, and I feel fine!

Mystics fans: Well, ummmmm…. Crystal had a nice game.

Shock fans: I’m feeling a little deja vu, ’cause the fourth quarter is the bane of our existence.

San Antonio fans: Oh, so THAT’S what a healthy Shameka Christon looks like! (I know Lib fans are happy — and I’m sure two Tulsa season subscribers/Arkansas fans had a lose-win night at the game.)

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*as long as it doesn’t involve me* *and except for the fact that real people are hurting*

Sally Jenkins tweets: The forced retirement of #Ladyvols Debby Jennings is a dirty rotten piece of business. Office politics wins over professionalism.

Mechelle writes: Jennings retires after 35 years – Associate athletic director is latest longtime employee to leave Lady Vols

For those of us who cover women’s basketball, she’s an institution and the standard-bearer for a professionally run sports information department. Who can even count how many thousands of interviews she has set up, game notes she has written and edited, industry-leading media guides she has produced, awards she has won and young people she has mentored.

Which is why her “retirement” — announced in three paragraphs by Tennessee on Wednesday — is such a frustrating statement about downsizing, power moves and the lack of loyalty that characterize so much of the corporate-America aspect of college athletics.

Jennings did not comment Wednesday, but a source close to the situation told me that Jennings did not want to retire. At 57, she’s still as in love as ever with her job, and just as passionate about publicizing the accomplishments of Tennessee student-athletes. But the on-going merger of the school’s men’s and women’s athletic departments has resulted in Tennessee purging some of its longest-tenured employees. No matter how good they are at their jobs.

I’m guessing that many ex-university (female) employees are having flashback to when they were wiped out in the 80’s when the NCAA forced the elimination of the AIAW.

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The W launches: Sparks v. Storm.

The team GMs venture their opinion of the season.

If you’re watching via Live Access, good luck. I sure hope this anonymous rep doesn’t end up eating their wordsThe WNBA has angered fans in the past because of glitches on the site. I was told by a few officials that those were fixed, one even stating that problems can be worked on while not going live and will be ironed out.

From Mel: Guru’s WNBA Report: Season Opens With Familiar Faces In Brand New Places

From Lady Swish: Liberty’s Warley makes WNBA roster in Phoenix

Hoopfeed has is Previewing the 2012 WNBA season: The Western Conference and the The Eastern Conference.

There’s also the Dishin & Swishin podcast: http://www.hoopfeed.com/content/2012/05/17/dishin-swishin-51712-podcast-a-roundtable-preview-of-the-2012-wnba-season/

Richard, L’Alien, has been busy:

2012 In-Depth Season Preview: Washington Mystics

You know what’s strange – I actually see the logic here. It’s easy to rag on the Mystics and head coach/general manager Trudi Lacey. This team was a disaster last year. They failed to retain the coach and general manger that produced their best ever season in 2010, and everything went downhill from there. Constant comments about injuries and blatant nonsense about how young the squad was did them no favours with their remaining fans, and when the season finally ended after just six wins all year, it was a blessed relief. But Lacey’s moves in the offseason made sense.

2012 In-Depth WNBA Season Preview: New York Liberty

You’ve gotta love Liberty fans. A bizarre draft pick (in a draft everyone said was horrible), and a couple of poor performances in preseason (for a coach whose system is notoriously hard to adapt to) and the sky is falling.

2012 In-Depth WNBA Season Preview: Indiana Fever

Yes, as you can see from the squad listing above, I’ve bowed to popular opinion and indications from the Fever themselves and moved Tamika Catchings to the 4. I hate it, and we’ll examine why below, but it does at least add an interesting wrinkle to the outlook for this Fever squad.

2012 In-Depth WNBA Season Preview: Connecticut Sun

Should I just refer you to everything I wrote about them last year? Head coach Mike Thibault apparently spent the offseason sitting on his couch knocking back a few cold ones, because as far as he’s concerned, this team is already good enough.

2012 In-Depth WNBA Season Preview: Chicago Sky

Big changes in Chicago, as head coach/GM Pokey Chatman proved that you can get a lot done in the offseason even when you’re in Russia coaching a different team at the time. In her first year in charge last season, the Sky were ultimately just as mediocre as they’ve been for their previous four season, and missed the playoffs yet again. The endless turnovers and poorly chosen shots drove Chatman nuts, so she’s kept her young backcourt and a couple of backups – along with, of course, superstar center Sylvia Fowles – and brought in a swathe of veterans with winning pedigrees to build around them.

2012 In-Depth WNBA Season Preview: Atlanta Dream

Significant losses: de Souza (Brazilian National Team for first half of the season), Lyttle (unconfirmed absence midseason to join Spanish National Team), Iziane Castro Marques (currently with Brazilian National Team, remains WNBA unrestricted free agent), Shalee Lehning (injured and retired from WNBA), Alison Bales (retired from WNBA), assistant coach Carol Ross (left to take head coach position in Los Angeles)

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Well just reading that list above doesn’t paint a pretty picture, does it?

On the subject of the W, a couple of WATNs:

EMU Names Kristin Haynie Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach. I wonder if they’re ordering extra food rations, ’cause you know how many calories it takes to hire a Haynie?

UMMC Put Lange, Brondello In Charge. Lucky them: ’cause they’ll have Diana and you won’t.

Speaking of Diane: ‘ware the prankster!

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Speaking of Tennessee

From Debbie’s Blog: My Favorite Pat Summitt off the court experiences:

With the announcement that Pat Summitt is stepping aside at Tennessee, media attention has been focused on her legacy as an icon in the game and in women’s sports.  Coach Summitt had a profound effect on many that have a role in the game. I’ve been broadcasting women’s basketball games on TV for 24 years and had the pleasure of covering Pat Summitt most of those years. I would like to share some stories about Pat that are examples about her lighter side.  It is fun to be an associate of Pat’s.  I have many behind the scenes stories but these are a few of the highlights for me:

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of  ‘claws struggles. Now she and Sally Jenkins are spreading the word the hope that it will help others: Chamique Holdsclaw confronts her ‘little secret’ of depression

The greatest athletes are all about controlling the body with the mind, and for a long time, Chamique Holdsclaw could do that. She could hover around the basketball rim and create any shot, her imagination pulling the strings of her arms and legs. Then one morning, her mind quit on her. She couldn’t make herself put on a pair of shoes, much less elevate. She lost track of three straight days sitting on a couch in the dark, eating Fruity Pebbles. The devastating onset of depression was “my little secret,” she says.

It’s not her little secret anymore. It’s the subject of a big-hearted autobiography called “Breaking Through: Beating the Odds Shot After Shot,” and in it, Holdsclaw details her mortal struggle with despair, including her nervous breakdown as a star with the Washington Mystics in 2004, and a never-before disclosed suicide attempt when she played for the Los Angeles Sparks in 2006.

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Titans Mourn The Loss Of Former Women’s Basketball Standout Lisa Blackburn

The Detroit Titans were saddened to hear that they have lost one of their pioneers in women’s athletics as former Titan women’s basketball star Lisa Blackburn passed away over the weekend. Blackburn was a local basketball coach in the community for many years and was currently the head girls’ basketball coach at Southeastern High School.

“It is always sad to lose a former Titan student-athlete and our hearts go out to Lisa’s family in this time of sorrow,” said Associate Vice President & Athletic Director Keri Gaither. “It is also an opportunity to reflect on the impact Lisa had during her lifetime.  She was a wonderful role model and representative of the Titan family for her accomplishments both on and off the basketball court.  She was a tenacious player for the University of Detroit women’s basketball program with her name still in the top 10 in the record book in many categories. But more importantly, Lisa was an icon in the Detroit community, spending many years coaching and mentoring young women and having a positive influence on so many lives. Lisa will be missed dearly.”

***

“I was extremely saddened to hear about the loss of Lisa and she will be deeply missed,” said former Titan head coach Mary Roickle. “She was an incredibly spunky and tough, yet a soft sensitive human being. She was just a terrific person who really gave back by becoming a social worker and basketball coach. She was a team player and a big reason why we beat Kansas and not only because of her offensive game, but her defense against some of their best players including three-time All-American Lynette Woodard.”

From the Detroit News: Lisa Blackburn, girls basketball coach at Detroit Southeastern, dies

I can’t figure out when this was published, but a little background from MaxPreps: Detroit Pershing Girls Off to Hot Start – Detroit King and Renaissance have company in Class A

Detroit Pershing has suddenly emerged as a clear threat to established Class A girls basketball powers like Detroit Martin Luther King and Detroit Renaissance to take home a Class A title.

Pershing, coached by Lisa Blackburn, is off to a 10-0 start and is ranked among the top Class A schools inMichigan.

“Last year, we had a good start, too,”Blackburnsaid. “We got off 8-0 before losing our first game.”

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BCA names Dawn Staley top coach

Speaking of legends, how about #29 (Top 40 Female Athletes Counting down the best of the past 40 years): Nancy Lieberman

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From Mechelle:

Debby Jennings, women’s hoops SID for 35 years at Tennessee, retires. Many longtime employees gone since Dave Hart took over as AD.

It’s reasonable to say that fans should keep an eye on the impact that merging athletic departments has on women’s athletics at Tennessee.

If Dave Hart and Tennessee athletics think people are not noticing what’s been transpiring there, they are wrong.

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WhadImiss?

Not much, it would appear.

From Queenie’s report on the Lib pre-season shellacking by the Sky.

Overall, I am exceedingly disappointed in the Liberty’s performance against a Sky team missing both Fowles and Cash. Either get it together or fail in such epic fashion that Jim Lewis and Nolan Richardson can only shake their heads in awe.

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Dybas: Bird, U.S. women hoopsters look ready

After Friday’s practice, it was suggested to de facto Team USA captain Diana Taurasi that ongoing international dominance of women’s basketball by one country may not be good for the game.

Taurasi was a large part of Connecticut’s tyrannical three college titles in four years (2001, 2002, 2004). She also won two WNBA championships with the Phoenix Mercury. And, no one has beaten the U.S. women’s team in the Olympics since 1992.

Presented with these facts and the theory, Taurasi was introverted, per usual.

“I do not give a (bad word),” Taurasi said. “I’m trying to win a gold medal.”

That’s that.

Please, please, please ask the men’s national team the same question.

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checking it twice.

Yup, it’s that time of year: planning for the Maggie Dixon Classic. Held at the Garden, this year’s double-header (11am, 1pm) features: La Tech (Spoon) v. Rutgers (CViv) and Duke (Coach P) and St. John’s (thenewguy).

I’m putting together a list of folks and will send out a “ya want?” email later on in the year. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with an awesome MSG person (oddly enough, not an oxymoron) who’s gotten us great seats at a generous group rate.

How it works: It’s an honor system. I collect a list of folks, and when it nears purchase time I send out a “confirming you do/don’t want tickets and how many?” email. When I get a total, I purchase a group of tickets. I then mail’em out (or hand deliver, in some cases) and you respond with a check or slip me some cash the day of.

If you’re interested in being part of the WHB Maggie Dixon Classic Horde (last year I think we numbered 53), drop me a note at Womenshoopsblog @ gmail.

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Well, dang

From the DC BasketCases:

if you’re wondering whether that’s why we haven’t blogged about the Mystics this pre-season, no, it’s not about travel . . . it’s about choice.

Friday marked the sixth anniversary of the DCBasketCases blog. In those six years, we’ve written hundreds of posts, provided well over a thousand links, and shared numerous photos as well as anything else we thought our readers – primarily Mystics and Terps fans — might enjoy. Those six years of blogging have been a lot (a lot!) of work. But mostly, our blogging’s been a labor of love. And that’s what made it worth doing.

We still feel that way about the Terps. Love the team. Love the program. Love blogging about them. But we no longer feel that way about the Mystics.

Well done, Ted and Sheila.

The Rebkellians react.

From the WNBA:

Do I have to pay for LiveAccess?
Yes, WNBA LiveAccess for the 2012 season is $4.99 USD. Users will need to create an account and complete the purchase flow.

Can I use my WNBA.com or NBA.com All-Access account?
For the 2012 season , you cannot use your WNBA.com All-Access account to buy the LiveAccess subscription.

Nothing like short notice to keep fans on their toes. The Rebkellians note their concerns (right now, no access with new accounts), and I’ve got to wonder if they’ve fixed the issues from last year. Never a good idea to launch something brand new without a test run (of, say, preseason games?) because arena feeds can be iffish. Also, clearly dedicated fans won’t mind coughing up 5 bucks, but what about the random wanderer? How about “first game free” so you can sample it.

Opening day is right around the corner, and there’s plenty of waiving happening.

You can check out the WNBA Season Launch Conference Call Transcript

From Indy: Tamika Catchings, Fever try to put last year behind them for another title bid

From Minny: WNBA vet Thorn wants to show champs what she can do

From Chi Town: Sky set sights on first playoff spot

From Forbes: How Ann Meyers Drysdale Played Like A Girl And Won

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From the Advocate: Reasons to Have Pride in 2012, Part 1: We came out, we saw ourselves in media, and we conquered hearts and minds in the last year. From major wins to small victories, here is the first of four parts of 181 reasons to feel proud of not being straight and narrow: Because there are out WNBA players

Minnesota lynx basketball star Seimone Augustus is, by all means, a homebody, but something told her to go out to a Minneapolis bar one night. After a few moments of quietly nursing a drink, she locked eyes with someone across the room. But this 6-foot-tall guard, the toast of Louisiana State University’s basketball program, a number 1 WNBA draft pick, and an Olympian, was too shy to even muster up a simple “hello.”

Fortunately, fate didn’t allow these two ships to pass in the night, and five years after their first date at a local Six Flags theme park, Augustus is getting married—to a woman. She says her future nuptials with LaTaya Varner encouraged her to come out publicly as a lesbian, and the two are planning a summer wedding. Not this summer, though. The 28-year-old is concentrating on finishing her season in the Turkish women’s basketball league, a two-peat of the WNBA league title, and bringing home the gold this summer from the London Olympics.

Now, if only all those gay men’s and women’s basketball coaches would follow suit….

In other news:  Brittney Griner is Still on Cloud Nine

“When I first started playing basketball I didn’t think I would be here today, winning a championship, going to Baylor, the opportunities that have opened up for me, never would have thought that this would have happened,” Griner said.

“I’m definitely glad. It humbled me.”

Griner, who still has one year of eligibility left, said there was never any doubt she would return to Baylor for her senior season.

She also said there’s no doubt in her mind the Lady Bears can win back-to-back national titles.

“It’d mean everything in the world to repeat,” Griner said. “You don’t want to get up there and then fall down.

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a visit to the Sports Economist blog brings me this interesting take from Victor Matheson who responds to Frank Deford’s lament: Where are the American women (golfers)?

Prior to Title IX and the explosion of women’s intercollegiate athletic programs, the potential for any economic returns for women athletes were limited to golf, tennis, and perhaps figure skating, meaning those sports should attract the best athletes. It’s should come as no surprise that Babe Didrikson Zaharias, probably the greatest female athlete of the 20th century, gave up track for a career in golf. In a world with large amounts of scholarship money available to college players, however, it is far from clear that golf or tennis provide the best opportunities for monetary rewards for female athletes.

A full athletic scholarship at my institution has a retail value of roughly $55,000 per year. While that’s a far cry from $2.9 million, it’s also much easier to attain. Fewer than 90 women’s golfers earned over $55,000 on the LPGA tour last year while over 60,000 women earned NCAA scholarships (although admittedly most of them were worth only a fraction of $55,000). Still, the total prize pool from all events on the LPGA last year was about $35,000,000 while the NCAA’s “prize pool” for women athletes outside of golf and tennis was about a billion dollars. Given these sorts of figures, it comes as no surprise that American women athletes have increasingly turned from golf and tennis to other sports where the reasonable chance of a small scholarship payout outweighs the nearly impossible chance of the “big bucks.”

Visiting the Title IX blog is always interesting. A recent post: Boys Excluded from Field Hockey Teams

What does Title IX say about this?  Contrary to suggestions in both stories, Title IX is not necessarily violated by a school that allows girls to try out for boys’ teams (football, say) but denies the same right to boys playing on girls’ teams.  For one reason, when it comes to contact sports, Title IX allows but does not require schools to allow cross-over participation.  There are some quirky definitions of contact sport out there — basketball is listed as a contact sport in the Title IX regulations — so it’s arguable field hockey shares this status as well.  More importantly, Title IX regulations recognize that girls’ athletic opportunities have “historically been limited,” which justifies their crossover participation in a way that does not apply to boys, who usually have and have always had more athletic opportunities overall.

Yet, I will throw out a Title IX argument in favor of Keeling Pilaro’s case.  Courts have held that once a school allows cross-over participation in situations where it is not required by Title IX, it may not then discriminate against that cross-over player on the basis of sex.  I would argue that Section XI has elected to allow Pilaro to play even though Title IX does not require it to do so. Therefore, it may not single him out for differential treatment based on sex. Clearly it has done so, as no girls are subject to the possibility of losing eligibility for being too good at the game.  Only Pilaro, because of his sex, faces the dilemma of playing well or playing at all.

Moreover, if I were in charge, I would opt to move the cross-over participation regulations out of the stone ages by (1) eliminating the contact sport exemption, which is blatantly rooted in sex stereotypes, and (2) requiring schools to allow cross-over participation to both sexes unless doing so would take away an actual opportunity from the underrepresented sex.

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Louisville: Monique Reid, Tia Gibbs get another year

The end to a sad chapter at Middle Tennessee: Jury convicts roommate of murder in stabbing of Tina Stewart

In high school news, Glenn says 2013 class oozes with ‘It’ factor

The “It” factor is difficult to define, but you know it when you see it.

Most of the time, that is.

Courtney Vandersloot seemed to have something special when it came time to rank the girls’ basketball class of 2007. I’d known her since she was a fourth-grader in Kent, Wash., and I had my fifth-grade team from Seattle triple- and quadruple-team her because “darned if we’re going to let the little blonde girl with the ponytail beat us by herself.” She grew into a rare high school player who so quickly could make the decision between setting up a teammate and taking her own shot, maintained crystal-clear vision of teammates and defenses during a dribble drive, and who only missed shots by millimeters.

In pro news, Mechelle says WNBA season as wide open as ever

Ever been trying to cook something only to make a mistake at the start and then compound that by messing up more with each attempt to fix it?

No? OK, you’re a top chef then. But if you have ever done this, then you’ve got an idea of what things have been like for the WNBA’s Tulsa Shock the past two seasons since the franchise’s relocation from Detroit.

Now you might wonder: Why begin a season preview with the team that everyone expects to be the worst (again) in the WNBA? Well, because before tipoff of the league’s 16th season, which starts Friday, even Tulsa can feel hopeful.

Yes, it’s preseason, but Rookie Shekinna Stricklen Shines for Seattle Storm in Win Over Los Angeles: Fan Take and Rookies Glory Johnson and Riquna Williams Ready to Roll

In Minnesota, as Harris the first Lynx casualty last season and this season and Reeve takes last look back before leaping ahead

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unless, of course, you’re the Chinese National team.

US women’s basketball team routs China 100-62 in an exhibition game and Starters, subs shine for U.S. women

“We gave up too many points in the first half,” he said. “But we talked about this in the locker room — not one player on this team was picked because they’re a great defensive player. We have all these good offensive players that are going to moan when we make them play defense. Defense is going to be the last thing that we get right, but as the weeks go on, we’re going to get it right.”

Speaking of which : For women’s basketball stars, representing their country is worth its weight in gold – In men’s basketball, the NBA ring is the thing, and a gold medal is cool if it happens. But in women’s basketball, the pursuit of Olympic gold remains a priority.

Four years ago, a flight attendant recognized Sue Bird on her trip home from the Beijing Olympics. It didn’t take long before everyone on the airplane was applauding the world champion and asking the question.

Can we see your gold medal?

Bird pulled the precious item — the second Olympic gold of her career — out of her carry-on bag, and the next thing she knew, the medal was being passed around the plane. Even the pilot begged to see it.

“Nothing compares to that,” Bird said, explaining the importance and the joy of playing on the United States women’s basketball team.

Mechelle’s been busy:

Little looks for big impact in Seattle

If you called Seattle’s Camille Little a successful scavenger in the WNBA, she’d rightfully take it as a compliment. She specializes in picking up the loose ball here, the missed shot there, and trying to turn them into something valuable for the Storm.

“I’m not the first, second or even third option,” Little said. “I get my shots where they fit in. I get rebounds and putbacks and steals. I don’t get my number called a lot, but I get things done in a different way.”

However, during this past winter, Little played in China. As the only American on the team, she had a very different role than she has in Seattle.

M did a little chatting:

Jan (Kentucky): How did UNC land such a haul in Women’s college basketball recruiting? Who does Tennessee need to get them back to the Final Four?

Mechelle Voepel: Yeah, that’s something isn’t it? Clearly assistant Trisha Stafford-Odom has been a boost to UNC, having come over last summer from Duke. (What intrigue *that* is!) Carolina has usually recruited well over the years, but this is quite a haul. The questions remain, though: How exactly to they find spots for all those currently on the team, the 2012 signees, and those from the class of 2013 who’ve given verbal commitments? Aren’t we sure to see a few transfers from Carolina over the next 1-3 years? And will this talent actually develop well enough and play well together?

As for Tennessee, I know a lot of Orange fans were – and maybe still are – apoplectic over the UNC windfall, and worried that they are really falling behind in recruiting. But the new-look Tennessee staff is only now really just in place … they are going to have to hit the trail -figuratvely speaking – hard now and try to catch up, if you will. Tennessee has good recruiting coaches in place.

She also did a little podding: WSC Radio Show: May 11, 2012: Brenda and Mechelle talk about the WNBA, Brittney Griner’s injury, NCAA softball and more

Oh, ain’t this… funny: NJ kicks NY out of NJ so NJ can play NY so the Liberty Open Season at MSG

You know, those coaching changes are still happening.

Ditto with those WNBA transactions.

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From Blue Star re: Bob Corwin being ejected from a club basketball event:

When does might make right?

I have been involved in girls’ basketball for close to thirty years. I don’t believe in taunting officials and try to respect the game.  Yes, at times in scouting analysis of players I am critical but if possible I try to be constructive as well. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012, marked a first for me at age 64.  I decided to attend the club basketball event run by Brandon Clay and his Peach State Hoops organization at the privately owned Suwanee Sports Academy north of Atlanta.  I had attended Mr. Clay’s (always well run) events there before and never had a problem.  As I was attending as a non-journalist having the prior day acted in that capacity at an Atlanta Dream exhibition game, I paid the $10 admission fee and found a game that I was interested in viewing.  I remained at the same court (#4) for the next game which tipped before 11am.

Sitting by myself at approximately 11:40am, Kiel Moore, who works for Mr. Clay (and along with Mr. Clay writes for ESPN’s HoopGurlz) appeared with another man who I did not know but assume also works in the Peach State Hoops organization, tells me calmly but sternly that I must leave the building.  Without asking me what I was doing there, Mr. Moore told me that I was there representing Kenny Kallina, scouting the event on his behalf and that was not going to be allowed.  I was not told that I was otherwise acting improperly.

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but that doesn’t mean stuff isn’t happening across the age groups.

I’m already planning my July trip down to DC to watch the USA play on the 16th (are you?), and obviously I’m making plans for the Maggie Dixon Classic Dec. 9th (ya wanna help push our group to over 50? Email me at womenshoopsblog (at) gmail.com) ’cause Spoon’s back in town:  Weatherspoon returns to Garden as coach of Louisiana Tech at Maggie Dixon Classic in December

In the land of the Olympics:

Nate writes: 2012 Olympics Significant To Tamika Catchings Because It Could Be Her Last Opportunity

Catchings happy to be playing again as US women’s basketball training camp opens

“It’s not ideal since other teams have been practicing for a lot longer, but it’s what we have,” said Bird, who will also be playing in her third Olympics. “Every time you put the USA jersey on it’s an honor. I’m lucky I have had the opportunity to represent my country. Growing up there was no WNBA to look forward to, for me my dream was always playing in the Olympics.”

U.S. women’s basketball team in Seattle for Olympic tuneup

“I don’t think I have ever been as stressed out or as nervous, anxious, scared to death as I was whenever you are coaching in a medal situation for USA basketball because the expectation level is, ‘Of course we are going to win,'” Auriemma said. “That’s good and bad. … That’s great because we are the United States of America and we are supposed to win. It’s bad because sometimes people don’t appreciate how hard it is to win.”

Whirlwind Time For Lindsay Whalen, Maya Moore – WNBA Season Begins; Olympics On Horizon

From Jayda: Seattle a growing hotbed for women’s hoops

…to explain Seattle’s emergence as a center of women’s basketball, you have to go back, way back. Before the WNBA’s Storm and its passionate fans were born, before the Seattle Reign tipped its toe in the water of women’s pro hoops, before even the Washington Huskies women were outdrawing the men’s team at Edmundson Pavilion.

The story of how Seattle has become a hotbed for women’s hoops dates way back to pioneers like Cathy Benedetto and Joyce Walker, the women who showed the way. They made it possible for a couple of 13-year-olds emulating their hoops heroes in their hometown to believe it had always been that way.

The Cardinals have a new coach: Ball State University women’s coach Brady Sallee has lofty vision for program

“I remember watching the television when (Ball State) beat that team down south that wears orange (Tennessee),” said Sallee, invoking the style of Brady Hoke by refusing to acknowledge an arch-rival by name. “I’m excited to bring those opportunities and moments back to Ball State University.”

The Seawolves need a new coach: UAA women’s basketball coach says it was time to move on

Tim Moser, one of the most successful coaches in the history of UAA athletics, is leaving his job as the school’s women’s basketball coach, saying it’s time for something new.

Moser molded the Seawolves into a national powerhouse in his six seasons in Anchorage. He finished the most recent season with a 30-5 record and was one victory shy of making a third NCAA Division II Final Four appearance.

High Point needs a new coach: Wake Forest hires Jennifer Hoover as new women’s basketball coach

Jennifer Hoover, Wake Forest’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder, was hired as the Demon Deacons’ new women’s basketball coach on Wednesday.

Hoover, a long-time assistant who went 20-13 at High Point in her first try as a head coach this past season, was a three-time All-ACC honoree during her playing career at Wake Forest.

The Hoyas have a new coach: Georgetown introduces Keith Brown as women’s basketball coach

The Norse have a coach: NKU names new women’s coach
Former Michigan associate head coach Dawn Plitzuweit has been chosen to lead Northern Kentucky University’s women’s basketball program into Division I.

Toledo will have extra space next season: UT gets NCAA waiver – Women’s basketball team allowed to exceed scholarship numbers

Mikaala Shackelford has a new team: UWGB women’s basketball: Prized Minnesota recruit to leave after all

WNBA champion Lynx welcome back motherly leader (The next article in the hopper: As the NBA season opens, the 28-38 Trailblazers welcome back fatherly leader)

Taj McWilliams-Franklin led this bonding process like only a mother could. The 41-year-old, 6-foot-2 center with three daughters of her own has returned for another year with the Lynx. Her teammates couldn’t be happier to have the lanky lady they call “Mama Taj” back in the fold

Depth, Luck Major Part Of Repeat Hopes

Depth, camaraderie and health are the three main ingredients to a title defense. Look no further than the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks’ bench play during last year’s 2011 NBA Finals and its inability to replace JJ Barea and Tyson Chandler during this year’s first round playoff exit.

The Minnesota Lynx understand how important all three are to their goals this year, and they met two of those three objectives during the offseason by holding on to nine of their 11 team members from a year ago. And with coach Cheryl Reeve rolling out essentially three capable units during training camp, Minnesota has the depth to make another title run.

pilight has Three things the WNBA could do better

Now, most articles like this focus on things that cost money. Wouldn’t it be great to pay salaries competitive with those in Europe, have the players flown on chartered jets, and have massive advertising blitzes during the NCAA tournament, and so on. The WNBA doesn’t have tons of money, so today we’re going to focus on things they can do that cost nothing.

Speaking of “doing better”: What Can We Expect Kelley Cain To Contribute To The New York Liberty?

The New York Liberty announced via Twitter yesterday that first round draft pick Kelley Cain has arrived in training camp, which is perhaps the first step in calming the fears among some fans that they completely wasted a draft pick.

Surely we’ll learn more about what she offers the team as she spends more time in camp, but what might her numbers tell us about what she offers?

Well, not that much.

From a team who ought to do “real better”: Penicheiro has the right kind of mileage for Sky

Mix of veterans, youth encourages Silver Stars’ Hammon

If only basketball was played four-on-four: The Recker Crew – Mom knew best that hoops-playing quadruplets were destined for on-court success

Deidre Recker has been to every Ohio girls’ basketball state tournament since 1978. She’s proud of that fact, and mentions it often. She started bringing her children to those state tournament games when they were barely old enough to follow the action.

This is where you want to be, she’d tell them, and point to the court. This is where you’ve got to be.

Deidre stops, and she corrects herself. She hasn’t been to every state tournament since 1978. Once, in 1993, she had to watch the games on television instead.

Deidre was eight months pregnant that year. With quadruplets.

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Griner ouch?

Not good news, if true: BG breaks wrist.

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With a hefty dose of W:

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Tulsa Shock

Well here’s the bright side – the Shock finally hired a coach who might know what he’s doing. Respected Indiana Fever assistant Gary Kloppenburg takes over, and all you can say is good luck Klopp. The first move he made was positive, sending loose cannon Andrea Riley (who could easily have been cut anyway) to Phoenix for veteran point guard Temeka Johnson. Any upgrade in talent is a good thing when you’re as bad as this Tulsa team was last year.

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Seattle Storm

Storm head coach and general manager Brian Agler pulled off an unusual feat this offseason – he traded away two established veterans for the #2 pick in the draft, and yet still managed to make this roster even older than last year.

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: San Antonio Silver Stars

It was a strange offseason for the Silver Stars. They added some veteran talent, potentially improved their depth significantly, got lucky in the draft in the eyes of many – and yet unless a longshot or two comes through, failed to address their key weaknesses from a year ago.

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Phoenix Mercury

Remember when I said Atlanta had a pretty poor offseason? Well Phoenix’s was probably worse. They kicked it off by trading their starting point guard, Temeka Johnson, for wild (and wildly inaccurate) gunner Andrea Riley. The one defensible reason behind that move was that it opened up plenty of extra cap space, but an effort to spend that cash on restricted free agent Erin Phillips didn’t work out when Indiana matched their offer sheet. The Mercury settled for the consolation prize of Minnesota’s Alexis Hornbuckle instead (who really isn’t anybody’s idea of a point guard)

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Minnesota Lynx

This one’s almost as dull as Connecticut. When you waltz through the regular season 27-7, then drop just one playoff game on your way to the first championship in franchise history, you understandably don’t want to change much. They cored Taj McWilliams-Franklin just in case she might’ve been affected by another bout of wanderlust, allowing them to re-sign their evergreen starting center. Rather more surprisingly, restricted free agent Candice Wiggins was also re-signed, despite widespread expectations that someone would throw a large contract at her that the Lynx wouldn’t want to match. The offer never seemed to materialise, so Wiggins decided to stick around and go for the repeat.

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Los Angeles Sparks

New coach, several new players, and hopefully for Sparks fans, the start of a new era in LA. The combined shambles under Jen Gillom and Joe Bryant last season has been consigned to history, and the reins have been handed over to former Atlanta assistant Carol Ross. As a nice little bonus for Ross, the Sparks beat the odds and ended up with the #1 pick in what most people saw as a one-player draft (at least they did once Griner, Delle Donne and Diggins chose to stay in school). That allowed LA to add Stanford’s Nneka Ogwumike, an extremely talented forward who should be able to help immediately. Eventually, they also accomplished the important task of re-signing centerpiece star Candace Parker to a new contract.

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Washington Mystics

At least there are some new names in DC, even if the general quality isn’t much different from last year. They let former franchise player Alana Beard walk after growing tired of paying her to be injured; shipped wing Marissa Coleman to LA for Noelle Quinn in the hope that both could benefit from a change of scenery; dumped Nicky Anosike on LA in a separate deal, this time for fringe backups Natasha Lacy and LaToya Pringle; sent last year’s first-round pick Victoria Dunlap to Seattle for backup center Ashley Robinson; and signed over-the-hill point guard Dominique Canty and consistently inconsistent veteran big Michelle Snow as free agents. And breathe. You certainly can’t accuse head coach/general manager Trudi Lacey of being inactive in trying to improve this team after the debacle last season.

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: New York Liberty

It was pretty quiet for the Liberty and their fans through most of the offseason. They re-signed Leilani Mitchell and added veteran Kelly Miller to help her at the point, which should keep Cappie Pondexter at shooting guard a little more consistently this season (although “Cappie, do something” will likely still be the solitary crunch-time play). They also eventually re-signed key backup Essence Carson, although it took a while and some of the fans were becoming a little nervous.

Then everything got a little weird.

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Indiana Fever

For a team that made very few changes during the offseason, there are still several question marks heading into training camp for the Fever. They kept point guard Erin Phillips by matching a restricted free agent offer sheet she signed with Phoenix, then traded last year’s starting power forward Tangela Smith to San Antonio for Roneeka Hodges. That was about it for meaningful offseason activity. Smith had a thoroughly terrible season in Indiana last year, and they traded her away to dump what had quickly become an ugly-looking contract, but it leaves a hole.

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Connecticut Sun

Well this one’s dull. Sun head coach Mike Thibault is so convinced that his roster is all set and that no one could break into his rotation that he used the 9th pick in the draft on a Malian 19-year old playing in the French second division.

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Chicago Sky

Well, being in Russia coaching Spartak Vidnoje certainly didn’t hinder coach Pokey Chatman’s WNBA activity this offseason. They made a big splash early, turning the #2 overall pick in the draft into Swin Cash and Le’coe Willingham in a deal with Seattle. The addition of proven veterans continued in free agency, as point guard Ticha Penicheiro and center Ruth Riley were both brought into the fold. Chatman also made a deal with San Antonio for the rights to Serbian forward Sonja Petrovic, who’s been playing for her at Spartak, and even she could be a useful addition if she can adapt to the WNBA game.

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Atlanta Dream

It’s not been the greatest of offseasons for the Dream. It started with assistant coach Carol Ross being stolen away by the Sparks to take over in LA, followed by backup point guard Shalee Lehning announcing that the knee injury that ended her 2011 season would in fact mark the end of her WNBA career, and backup post Alison Bales also deciding to retire from the WNBA. Brazilians Erika de Souza and Iziane Castro Marques will spend at least the first half of the season with the Brazilian national team preparing for the London Olympics. Erika was re-signed and is expected in Atlanta following the Games; Castro Marques remains an unrestricted free agent.

Free agency didn’t exactly result in a deluge of additions or improvements either.

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it’s just work and a seriously annoying spring cold did their best to fell me. As if!

Did you catch this: Sports Illustrated’s Title IX Anniversary Issue Released; 12 Women’s Basketball Players On SI.com’s Top 40 List

Congrats and enjoy: Carroll’s Don Racine resigns as City League’s winningest girls hoops coach

Imagining that Don Racine would be the Bishop Carroll girls basketball coach for, well, ever never seemed too far-fetched.

Wednesday, though, Carroll announced Racine’s resignation after 33 seasons.

“I’ve enjoyed it. For me, it’s the best place for me to be coaching,” Racine said. “…All good things eventually come to an end. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Good, bad, indifferent. The kids are great, the administration, the families. I loved it all.”

Obviously lots of coaching shifts and, as a result, coaching openings happening.

Saint Louis hires former Badgers coach Lisa Stone. Some may wonder about this hire, but then they’re probably ignoring her pre-Wisconsin success. This might work out for both the Billikens and Stone.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff introduces Mississippi Valley State’s Kilbert as women’s basketball coach

UNCW tabs Adell Harris as women’s hoops coach

FAU hires Nebraska assistant as new women’s basketball coach

You stay put: New contract makes Kentucky’s Mitchell SEC’s highest-paid women’s basketball coach

An addition to the Jayhawks: Katie O’Connor Returns To Kansas Women’s Basketball Staff

An addition to the Vols: Warlick Names Law to Coaching Staff

Speaking of Tennessee: Warlick era under way in Knoxville – Coach influenced and motivated by dad’s love of sports

Tennessee coach Holly Warlick jokes that in her family, if you didn’t want to talk or participate in sports … you might have been tempted to try to find a new family. Her father, Bill, coached youth-league teams in basketball and baseball, and always encouraged her to play.

“Sports were just a part of our family; that’s what we discussed and what we did,” said Warlick, who officially took over as Tennessee’s coach in April after legendary coach Pat Summitt moved into an emeritus position. “If you didn’t enjoy sports, the conversation would have been … extremely limited. We were always on the go — practicing, walking to the ball field, walking back.”

An addition from Cal to Gonzaga: Lindsay Sherbert Added To Women’s Basketball Squad

Speaking of players: UNC is making some noise: Recruiting Coup – No. 3 Diamond DeShields is gem of North Carolina’s quartet of top 2013 recruits

A little conference championship hosting news: Albany selected to host America East men’s, women’s basketball championships. ‘ware the Danes!

Whoop-dee-do it’s almost basketball time again!

pilight does a little years later quarterbacking: Best Draft Picks Ever in the WNBA

Saturday Links: WNBA Preseason Begins Today With Three Games a

Check out The Michelle and Mechelle Show: WNBA Preview Advertisement

Eastern Michigan’s James is Enjoying Challenge Of Making Lynx Roster

Speaking of W hopefuls: Courtney Hurt & The Difficulty Of Making The WNBA As An ‘Undersized’ Power Forward

More from Minny: Whalen & Co. on Lynx ready to defend WNBA title

Czech out more on Whalen: One chapter in Whalen’s basketball career perhaps ending, another beginning

From Jayda, picked up by the Chicago Times: Storm’s Tina Thompson balances basketball, life as mom (I wonder if we’ll ever see the headline “LeBron James balances basketball, life as a dad?)

Out of Tulsa: Shock players see new energy at practice

Sun’s Jones chasing title, Olympic gold this year

Anticipating that trip to London, the Sun ponder impact of long Olympic break. Might I make a suggestion to the league (that they won’t listen to)? Make a big. friggin’. deal. about the Olympics. Having viewing parties. Get team members to attend. Hunt down former Olympians (and their coaches) to host. Raise money for target charities — how about the Special Olympics teams? Or the women’s paraolympic basketball team? Don’t let the W buzz die.

More Olympic stuff: USA Today’s looking at 100 Olympic hopefuls in 100 days: Diana Taurasi

The Senior National Team isn’t the only thing keeping USA Basketball busy: Top 2013 prospects set for USA trials – Mercedes Russell, Kaela Davis, Diamond DeShields to try out for U17 national team

and Four Gold Medalists Highlight 2012 USA Basketball Women’s U18 National Team Trials Roster

Sun’s Tina Charles shines her light in Africa

During the last week, contruction finished on a three-room school in the village of Ganale that will accomodate up to 150 elementary schoolchildren during the day and adult litaracy classes at night. Charles paid the entire $32,000 cost for the 2,860-square foot school.

Unfortunately, there’s a “Dabnabbit” to report: Shyra Ely tears ACL, will miss WNBA season

WATN: Vanessa Nygaard: Windward School Makes Coaching Changes

More WATN: Terrell Owens, Other Stars, To Attend Brittany Jackson Dinner Party In Ooltewah To Benefit Pat Summitt Foundation

By the way, Grandpa’s got game, too: Senior basketball is serious business – Basketball at the Bykota Senior Center in Towson is definitely old-school — including some players in their 80s

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