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Archive for July, 2012

but who’s holding the bomb: Trudi or the franchise as a whole?

A little news outta Chicago: Young stepping up when Chicago needs her most

Tamera Young is the definition of a swing player. She can switch from forward to guard and back. Need her to shut down the opposing team’s best perimeter player? She’ll do it. Having problems with the point guard penetrating the Sky defense too easily? Young is on it. Heck, she’ll even play the point if Chicago head coach Pokey Chatman asks her to.

 

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From Doug: US women basketball team prepares for tougher test in Olympics from unbeaten, confident Turkey

“I’ve always thought that you can’t judge what happens in any of the exhibition games leading up to the Olympics as to whether or not that’s the team you’re going to play,” U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said. “We’re going to play a really good team — a team that’s got some size, they shoot the ball exceptionally well, they’ve got tremendous experience.

Jim Souhan has this over at the Courant (less about the game than about the team as a whole) US Women’s Basketball Team Defeats Angola By 52

Augustus and Moore have this in common: Both have been celebrated players since they were in high school, yet both are still exploring the limits of their games. Augustus blossomed last year, becoming the MVP of the WNBA playoffs, and Moore is a stunningly talented player who often subjugates her talents in an effort to fit into a team.

Alex Wolff at SI has U.S. women’s basketball quietly on the brink of history in London

Meanwhile, with the U.S. having failed to qualify in men’s soccer, American eyes have turned to the women in that sport, particularly Twitter-fingered goalie Hope Solo, who seems incapable of leaving a publicity vacuum unfilled. Because of the Americans’ loss to Japan in the 2010 World Cup, a Redeem Team narrative has emerged around women’s soccer, and that’s a more engaging storyline than the hoopsters’ air of inevitability.

Here’s my solution: During the US-Turkey game, Annie Meyers will diss Sue’s defense which will prompt angry tweets from Candace which will, in turn, prompt media coverage of USWBB

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(if we ignore the first few minutes of  “basketball as a hot mess” and the “oh, sh*t, what’s up with Big Syl’s foot” thoughts.)

From USA Basketball: USA Women Overpower Angola For 90-38 Victory – Establishing a new USA record for blocked shots with 4, Candace Parker also added team highs of 14 points and 12 rebounds in the win

“I think that Coach and the team is looking for me being confident and playing with intensity,” Parker said. “I think that’s my biggest thing is sometimes I get in my own head. I think tonight, he just gave me two things to do: just rebound and run the ball. We’re going to play defense but I tried to focus on that and my teammates did a good job of getting me the ball.”

From Doug: Parker leads Americans in rout of Angola

From Kevin McCauley: Candace Parker Impressive In 90-38 USA Win

Chris Stephens at the Bleacher Report has USA Olympic Women’s Basketball Team: How US Is Faring Early on

One thing that is still a concern for the U.S. is their outside shooting (men havin’ issues, too). Against Angola, they were 2-for-17 from behind the arc.

That shows me that when the team was selected, they didn’t pick pure three-point shooters (WHB: Except for Diana). It also shows that there is still a lack of ball movement as players are jacking up three-pointers even when it’s obvious they’re not falling. (Wait, don’t shooters keep shooting? ‘sides, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”)

On the subject of ball movement, it was a lot better against Angola.

For those looking for some basketball excitement, the other games had plenty. Check out Snelly’s shot in this video from the Australia/France game. More here from Dan Devine. Attention grabbing shot aside, the French women still managed to stun Australia, 74-70.

“It’s a big win because no other team than the Americans has beaten Australia since I don’t know how long, 1996?” said Emilie Gomis, who scored all 22 of her points after halftime. “But this win gives us nothing right now. Tomorrow is another day, all the teams are tough to play and we are not going to take off now.”

LJ and Liz need to learn to keep their temper and not foul out.

The Izzy-less Brazilians had the Russians on the ropes, but then lost steam in the fourth, eventually falling 69-59. (Scroll down for a nice shot of Becky Hammon and her teammates)

“Playin’ Possum?” China demolished Croatia, 83-58.

In a battle of WHB favorites, Courtnay scored 11, Jo scored -15, but it w as Shona’s 18 that helped Canada to a 73-65 win over Great Britain. Quote of the day: “I’m not pissy because we lost. I’m that way naturally.”

Speaking of “hot mess,” what is up with the 21-turnover Czechs? Congrats to the Turskish team — 61-57 winners.

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But it is about friggin’ time.

From Greg Bishop at the New York Times:U.S. Basketball Star’s Success Puts Her Pain in Perspective

At a recent practice, Augustus scrolled through her new phone, unable to find the tumor snapshot. She seemed genuinely deflated.

“I didn’t want to gross you out anyway,” she said. “But it’s gross. Really gross.”

Before the picture, before the injury, there was the torn anterior cruciate ligament in 2009 that ended her W.N.B.A. season before it really started. It now seems harmless in comparison.

Rehabilitation hurt more than the injury. Torture, Augustus called it. All that bending and flexing to break up all the scar tissue. The way she cried so loudly she swore that she scared the other patients. The moments, however brief, made her want to retire at 25.

If you’re reading this, please don’t settle for doing only that — click through, tweet it, facebook it, email it… whatever you can do to share this piece. Send the NY Times a message: we want more!

Hey, how about sending an encouraging tweet to Greg? For example:

@nytbishop Thanks for the piece on the Amazing Augustus. http://tinyurl.com/cbk2kqm The whole team is amazing – AND they’re going for a FIFTH gold! Who’s up next?

You might also ask why there was no game story from him. :P

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Inside the Rings: A Giant Leap for Women, but Hurdles Remain

During Friday’s opening ceremony, Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee, drew loud and sustained applause when he said: “For the first time in Olympic history, all the participating teams will have female athletes. This is a major boost for gender equality.”

It is true that women have come light-years from the first modern Games, held in Athens in 1896, when their presence was welcomed only as spectators. Women, too, have made significant gains even since the Atlanta Games in 1996, when 26 nations did not send female athletes.

Yet the fight for true equality is far from being won.

Something Jere’ doesn’t mention is coverage. Apparently David Stern asked the Times folks if they were going to cover the women.

I don’t believe he got an answer.

So, I don’t mind repeating myself: In case you’re inspired to do something about the missing coverage, twitter is, you know, very public. Since I can’t pick on EVERY news outlet, I’ll pick on my local NYTimes folks. Maybe the hashtag could be NYTimesOlympicFail?

@LondonLive: Continuous coverage of the #London2012 Olympics by New York Times reporters and editors.

@LondonLive: Hey, LondonLive Was wondering if you knew the US had a women’s national team in basketball. They’re pretty good, what with them going for their 5th gold. What do they need to do to get coverage?

@nytbishop: New York Times general assignment sports reporter.

@nytbishop: Hey Greg. Impressed with the number of words you’re writing about the men’s national team. Is there a rule new at the Times that you can’t write about the women? Just wondering.

Rob Mahoney @RobMahoney: I write basketball things at basketball places. The New York Times. ESPN TrueHoop Network. NBA Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. NBC Sports’ ProBasketballTalk.

@RobMahoney: Hey Rob. I see you write “basketball things at basketball places.” Did you know that there are some basketball things happening that include women? Might want to check them out. They’re called the US National Team

About the basketball (which is on-going and very interesting!) The US plays Angola today. Viewing info from RebKell:

5:15 PM ET
TV: NBC Specialty Channel – Basketball

Online video for cable subscribers:
http://www.nbcolympics.com/liveextra/video-watch.html?video=womens-group-a-angola-vs-united-states

Alternate online video:
http://www.thefirstrow.eu/watch/132945/1/watch-olympic:-angola-vs-united-states,-womens.html

Preview/Boxscore:
http://london2012.fiba.com/pages/eng/fe/12/olym/p/eid/6232/gid/15/grid/A/rid/9087/sid/6233/game.html

Live stats:
http://london2012.fiba.com/extSTATIC/fiba-live/?event=6233 (scroll down to game #15)

 

Learn a little about the Angolan team at Full Court. In case you missed Lee’s July 19th preview: London 2012: Angola — Just happy to be there

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Doug says: Cash, US women’s basketball team ready to face Angola in their 2nd game of the Olympics

“I was at a point in 2008 where I didn’t want to leave this game with people defining who I was as a player,” Cash said. “Going out with an injury is not what I wanted my legacy to be.”

A conversation with five-time Olympian and basketball great Teresa Edwards helped her refocus with one goal in mind — making it to London. Cash dedicated herself to getting healthy and now that the 32-year-old is back in the Olympics, she is ready to play whoever is next on the U.S. schedule.

From USA Basketball: U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team Practice Quotes

Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx)
Practice looked intense today, did you feel it was a good one?

It was a great practice. We came in. We worked hard. We practiced as if we didn’t play yesterday and don’t play tomorrow. I think it’s why we’re going to be able to play the way we want to tomorrow. We just came in, worked on some things offensively, added a few things and tightened up a few things on defense.

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From someone named Jim Caple: Team USA being taken for granted

Really? Taken for granted? Like, say, they’re going for their fifth gold and they don’t send Mechelle Voepel and her 28 seasons of covering women’s basketball chronicle the USA women. No, they send you, Jim.

To be honest, you DID write one article about women’s basketball in 2012. And another in 2010. And one in 2009. And, hey, there were those three that  you did in 2008!

I’m not poking at you, Jim. I’m sure you’re a nice, earnest guy. But I dare you to take a look at the company who hires you before you write stuff like:

“Right now the only streak we’re talking about is winning one in a row as many times as possible,” Auriemma said. “We’re not thinking about what the other teams did in the Olympics.”

The shame is, not enough people think about what the other teams did, either. Or, for that matter, what this one probably will do as well.

If you care, Jim, tell ESPN you’d like to pay more attention to this team. They deserve it.

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about the missing jerseys, twitter is, you know, very public. Some suggestions:

Jim Tooley,Executive Director/CEO @jtooleyusa

@jtooleyusa Hey Jim, enjoy your updates. Wonder if you could update me on how I could get a USABB Catchings jersey. Want to represent the best of the US

USABasketball: @usabasketball

@usabasketball Hey USA Bball – appreciate you supporting the men’s and women’s teams so equitably. Small fail, though – looks like the women’s jerseys haven’t arrived yet. Anywhere.

In case you’re inspired to do something about the missing coverage, twitter is, you know, very public. Since I can’t pick on EVERY news outlet, I’ll pick on my local NYTimes folks:

@LondonLive: Continuous coverage of the #London2012 Olympics by New York Times reporters and editors.

@LondonLive: Hey, LondonLive Was wondering if you knew the US had a women’s national team in basketball. They’re pretty good, what with them going for their 5th gold. What do they need to do to get coverage?

@nytbishop: New York Times general assignment sports reporter.

@nytbishop: Hey Greg. Impressed with the number of words you’re writing about the men’s national team. Is there a rule new at the Times that you can’t write about the women? Just wondering.

Rob Mahoney @RobMahoney: I write basketball things at basketball places. The New York Times. ESPN TrueHoop Network. NBA Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. NBC Sports’ ProBasketballTalk.

@RobMahoney: Hey Rob. I see you write “basketball things at basketball places.” Did you know that there are some basketball things happening that include women? Might want to check them out. They’re called the US National Team

@PeteThamelNYT: Pete Thamel is the national college sports reporter for The New York Times

@PeteThamelNYT: Hey Pete. Hope you’re enjoying your summer. Any chance you could find the time to cover the USA Women’s Basketball team. They all went to — and graduated from — college. AND they’re going for their 5th straight gold!

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looking at the other scores, no team was particularly awe-inspiring yesterday.

Let’s just say “Oi, Canada!” (Or, perhaps we should be listening to Becky saying “Nyet to this losing stuff.”

China surprised the Czechs (and many others). Adds Clay: China, France surprise on an interesting first day in London

If day one is any indication, women’s basketball in the 2012 Olympics will be a great show.

About the only game that went as expected was Australia vs. overmatched Great Britain, but otherwise, from Croatia hanging with the U.S. for 30 minutes to Canada exposing Russia to China and France pulling upsets, it was a day for the unexpected – and a great appetizer for what looks like it will be a very entertaining two weeks of basketball.

On the US side, feel free to let the final score fool ya — especially if you took my advice and threw away the first three quarters. Perhaps neither the coaches OR the players should have attended the Opening Ceremonies? <g> Actually, it’s always rather graceless not to give the other team credit for your peckish performance. Says Lee: Croatia makes Team USA work in Olympic opener

From the USA Basketball quote page (no, I wouldn’t mind if this was a running theme):

Do you feel like USA Women’s Basketball is underappreciated for all these streaks and all these records?   Why do you think this team isn’t more popular?  Women’s soccer seems to get more attention.

Auriemma: I have my theories.  I think when you live in the United States and you’re a great women’s basketball player or you’re a great women’s basketball team, you happen to live in a country where the best basketball players in the world live on the men’s team and the best basketball team in the world lives.  You’re always going to be compared to that team or those players and you’re always going to come up short.  That’s just the nature of the game.  Women’s basketball is the most popular team sport in America.  And you’re right, the soccer gets a lot of attention:  once every four years.   During the regular season, during all the other times, women’s basketball gets just about all the attention from any women’s team sport in America.   But when it comes time for the Olympics, it’s like ‘yeah, they’re gonna win.’   That’s unfortunate.  It’s unfair to these players and those that came before them.   I don’t know that there is anything we can do that except just play but it is like UConn.   The only story that’s going to come out of these Olympics is if we lose and then that’ll be a big story.  Then, the U.S. women will be very, very popular all over the world.

Was amused by this turn of phrase in a Yahoo! story:

The decorated ensemble constituting the 2012 USA women’s basketball team have their sights set on extending that streak of Olympic glory to five in London, impressively unencumbered by the suffocating pressure (WHB: or actual media coverage) typically attached to such an ambitious endeavor.

SPOILER ALERT: BTW – congrats to Kimberly Rhode who, in a dazzling performance, became  the first U.S athlete in an individual sport to win five medals in five consecutive Olympics.

You know what would be a cool sidebar to the story? Teresa Edwards, who is currently serving as Chef de Mission. The four-time USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year Edwards first put on a USA Basketball uniform at the age of 17 at the 1981 U.S. Olympic Festival and was a fixture on USA Basketball teams for nearly two decades. She won: gold in 1984, 1988, 1996 and 2000, and bronze in 1992.

From the News-Tribune’s TJ Cotterill: Nothing big about Bird except game

At London’s Olympic Park, Sue Bird doesn’t look much like a world-class athlete.

Bird – standing at a generous 5-foot-9, 150 pounds – could easily be taken for a spectator as she strolls past Olympic gargantuans such as New Zealand shot put athlete Valerie Adams; 350-pound Holley Mangold, the U.S weightlifter; or even U.S. tennis player Serena Williams and her powerful thighs.

“Some of these Olympians are just specimens and you just feel disgusting compared to them,” Bird said. “I was walking around and thinking ‘Dang, I need to put a sweatshirt on.’ ”

Michelle (no, not Mechelle) at the KC Star asks: If you don’t know Team USA women by now, will you ever? (And then promptly misspells Catch’s first name. Ooops.)

“We were joking about it, how all the other athletes were flocking to those guys,” Catchings said. “Everywhere they went, a trail of people followed. It doesn’t make us mad. We accept it. It was just kind of funny. To be honest, I’m not sure I want to be that famous. I like to be able to live a somewhat normal life, go to the movies, to eat, and be recognized here and there.”

But, a little more recognition for the U.S. women’s basketball dominance sure would be nice, she conceded.

“In due time, credit will be given,” Catchings said.

In a similar vein, from Mike Bresnahan at? for? the Baltimore Sun: McCoughtry leads fourth-quarter surge for U.S.
A handful of journalists were on hand to watch the U.S. women’s basketball team win its Olympic opener against Croatia. (I was willing to be the sixth finger, but the USOC said no thanks, we have too many folks covering women’s basketball.) It was an obvious contrast to the crammed news conference the previous day for the U.S. men’s team, where reporters scurried toward Kobe Bryant and LeBron James before packing into a dense semi-circle seven or eight people deep.
“This is more physical than our games,” Bryant quipped as media members pushed and shoved one another. “I’ve seen at least two flagrant fouls.” 

Not only is the women’s team up against Croatia, the Czech Republic, etc. There’s overwhelming competition from that other U.S. team.

Maybe its me, but as I’ve been watching all of the preview shows leading up to the 2012 London Olympics, I haven’t noticed much attention given to the USA women’s basketball team.

It’s been gymnastics this, swimming that. Track and field this, men’s basketball that.

Where is Geno? Where are Maya Moore or Tamika Catchings? Where is the news about a four-time defending gold medalist?

The Courant is time sharing Mike Bresnhan with the LA Times: Geno Auriemma Glad His U.S. Women’s Team Considered The Favorites

It might be the best-kept secret in England.

The U.S. women’s basketball team has won 33 consecutive games in the Olympics, not to mention the last four gold medals, and nobody will talk about it.

Back to the US team: Ex-Tennessee Lady Vols team up with former rival Geno Auriemma to chase gold – Ex-Lady Vols join Auriemma to chase gold (I dunno – seems to me once a Vol, always a Vol. There ain’t no “ex” about it)

They’re playing for Geno Auriemma.

That might have been unthinkable for Tamika Catchings and Candace Parker before Auriemma became Team USA coach in 2009, but they’re used to it — even having some fun with it, now that the former Tennessee greats and the fiery Connecticut coach are poised to win gold together.

Are Summitt and Auriemma different? Very, Parker said.

“You’ve just got to go through it,” Catchings said of Auriemma’s outspoken style. “Trust me on that.”

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posting discounts.

If you’ve got a kid in the LA area who wants to play bball, check this out:

I am writing on behalf of Candace Parker and the 2012 Adidas Candace Parker Basketball ProCamp. It’s September 15th-16th and is open to girls ages 7-18. Candace will be on site both days directing the camp activities, along with a selection of the top coaches in the area.
I would love it if you would post something on your blog about the camp. (Done) We can offer all of your readers $20 off if they use the code “Helen” (Cool) and offer you the opportunity to cover the camp at the camp’s media day. (Sorry going to be in Vegas birding. Yes, birding. Stop laughing.)
 
More information on the camp is available at CandaceParkerCamp.com.

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from Full Court: Diana Taurasi plays “Know Your London Lingo”

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Best opening night comment? Billy Bragg@billybragg

Anyone still doubting how good it was: Tory MP attacks Olympic opening ceremony as “leftie multi-cultural crap” http://labli.st/QpqZ0f

Worst non-comment? That tall, blond woman holding the Australian flag is one of the best basketball players in the world.”

Nuff said, let the Games (officially) begin!

First – no spoilers will be seen. But read up if you’re watching taped games: 2012 Olympic Women’s Basketball: Five Russian Players to Watch

From Fox: U.S. women’s basketball after more than gold

“They have the potential to be one of the best Olympic teams ever,” said Auriemma.

Great Britain coach Tom Maher has warned opponents – including his old Australian team who they meet on Saturday night – not to underestimate his rapidly improving squad, who go into the tournament with a fighting chance of qualifying from the pool stages.

It can be difficult to take much statistically from five exhibition games won by an average of 33.6 points per game.

Yet while Team USA was absolutely dominant for long stretches, they weren’t perfect either – there were still signs that they have yet to play their best basketball. So after five games, here are five questions – or early observations – that might be interesting to watch during the games.

From Bleacher Report: USA Olympic Women’s Basketball Team 2012: 6 Reasons to Watch This Year’s Squad

From Philly.com: Auriemma keeping women focused on another basketball crown

The question with his team isn’t whether it is good, or even whether it is great. The question for Geno Auriemma is whether the U.S. women’s basketball team is too good.

Too good to be seriously challenged. Too good to make the Olympic tournament even remotely sporting.

“I don’t want to coach the underdog,” Auriemma said Thursday. “It’s like cards. I don’t want to win the seventh hand because I got lucky. I want to have four aces right from the start and kick everyone’s [butt].”

Hey, you can take the kid out of Norristown . . .

From Mike Bresnahan, Chicago’s “Tribune Olympic Bureau”: U.S. women’s Olympic basketball team has been dreamy too – Heading into London Olympics, it has won 4 gold medals in row, but is way behind men in public eye (Was this is why the WHB was denied a credential — too many people covering the women’s game?)

As the game v. Croatia starts, all I can think is, “These damn announcers better know the difference between Big Syl and Tina or I’m going to spit bullets!”

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Dear Robin,

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

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here ’tis!

Hmmm… step father’s 80th BDay at 6:30, Gold medal at 4pm. The wireless better be workin’ or I’m going to be one cranky party goer. (Spitting and tossing salt over my shoulder to appease the basketball mojo gods….)

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From Full Court: London 2012: The United States — Only gold will satisfy

From Hoop Feed: Russian national team member Becky Hammon checks in from London, talks about Olympic prep, the toughest foes and more

From one of the palest women in the world, Val Ackerman: U.S. women living the dream

This summer, much is being written about the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Dream Team, which represented the United States in men’s basketball at the Barcelona Olympics. The descriptions about the team and its place in history have personal significance for me, because I served behind the scenes as one of the NBA’s staff liaisons to USA Basketball at that time.

It was a career highlight to be associated with this incredible collection of superstars, witnessing firsthand the way they mesmerized fans in San Diego, Portland, Ore., Monte Carlo and finally Barcelona. Traveling with the team that summer was truly like being on tour with a rock band, maybe even crazier. The Dream Team was — and remains — the gold standard of men’s sports teams, and it deserves credit for the way it captivated fans the world over and for transforming the game of basketball into a global phenomenon.

Another highly gifted U.S. team is gearing up for these Olympics, although much less is being written about its prospects and storied past. The USA Basketball women’s national team is in London with its sights set on a fifth consecutive gold medal in Olympic competition, a feat that has never been accomplished by any U.S. women’s traditional team sports program.

Somebody not called Mechelle writes: Why the U.S. women are beatable

The biggest challenge for the U.S. will be a potential lack of chemistry. While much of the world has spent months prepping for London, Auriemma’s squad will have had just 10 practices when they take the floor on Saturday. And three of those were back in May.

Though it wasn’t the most enjoyable of topics, Sue Bird admitted Thursday that, yes, the ingredients for a potential U.S. loss are more than there. This team isn’t unbeatable. The ingredients come in the form of complacency, human nature after prolonged success. Then you factor in the lack of experience playing together. And the fact that it’s a one-and-done tournament. Lose and you go home. Put it all together and the unthinkable could happen. Maybe.

Doug has: Taurasi, Bird and rest of US women’s basketball team ready to start Olympic play vs Croatia

“We have one goal in mind and that’s to win,” said point guard Sue Bird, who will be playing in her third Olympics. “For us, I think with our limited training time even as we start the games, the learning part is not over. We have to take each game and improve. I know people will say we’re playing Croatia — ‘they beat them by 54’ — it’s another opportunity to play together and get better.

From CNN: Anthony, Paul and Moore get interviewed by Soledad (whose feet are more dressed up than the rest of her)

From the Bleacher Report: USA Olympic Women’s Basketball Team 2012: Stars Who Will Dominate (Maya workin’ the bear hat!)

From Ben York: Opinion: The USA Women’s Basketball Team’s Quest for a Fifth Consecutive Gold Should Be a Bigger Deal (no shit)

We—women’s basketball fans and supporters—don’t ask for much. People say we do, but we really don’t. One request, outlandish and eccentric as it may be, is to know (and be able to point out) who the players are if you’re calling the game. I know, we’re crazy like that. But, hey, it’s women’s basketball. Who cares, right? They’re lucky to even be on television! It’s not that big of a deal!

Adding to the nonsense, in nearly every timeout, the commentators would compare Team USA players to their male counterparts while crediting each storyline back to the players’ fathers (or another male figure) for advancing to the position they’re at today. As if, by doing so, somehow that makes their story greater. When in doubt, talk about men. Surely, they spent an equal amount of time during the men’s exhibition game(s) discussing the depths and dominance of the women’s team over the past two decades, right?

(Oh – prank time: Next time Tina sees Mark Jones, she should walk over and say to him, “Hi, Walt, I’m Sylvia.”)

From the Huffington Post: Can Women’s Team Win Another Gold?

No surprise, the official UConn basketball site has some coverage — but they also have feet on the ground in London: Team USA Will Open Olympic Play Saturday vs. Croatia

Earlier today, the team once again was treated to American Royalty.  During what was supposed to be a players-only event, the coaches and staff were asked at the last minute to participate in a special USA ceremony featuring past Olympians and guest of honor, First Lady, Michelle Obama.  Mrs. Obama gave an inspirational pep talk that also promoted her campaign for healthy living.

“I’m so inspired by you and am in awe of what you all have achieved,” she said. “Try to have fun; try to breathe a little.”

“I’m glad we were invited to see the First Lady speak,” said head coach Geno Auriemma.  “It was great to get a chance to listen to her talk about some of the commitments and sacrifices these kids have made to get here and how other people are going to look up to them and emulate them in many ways.  It was a reminder that the Olympics are a special event.  It’s not just another tournament.”

Speaking of the First Lady: London welcomes First Lady of fashion Michelle Obama as she dons ANOTHER patriotic outfit in support of Team USA

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Yes, college!

From Sherri Coale’s The Write Space and Time:

Really nice, well -meaning people sometimes strike up conversations with me in the spring that begin with, “It must be so nice to have the summers off!” Throughout the years, I have answered in a variety of ways. I went through the Explanation Stage: “Well, actually, summers are quite busy. We have camps in June and then we travel all over the country recruiting in July…” Then I went through the Sarcastic Stage: “Yes it’s awesome. I love summers in the gym with 300 campers, weeks whose days all run together, and playing planes, trains, and automobiles in my spare time.” Then I went through the Angry Mumbling Stage: “Grrrrrrrrrrarghhhhh (door slam)!” And I’ve finally, in the wisdom of my middle age, landed upon the Smile and Lie stage: “It is!! I’m having the best time.” Which is actually an innovative way of choosing to feed the proverbial positive dog, while simultaneously choosing not to humiliate the uninformed.

Summer is not off, ever. It’s just a different kind of on.

Funny, that’s how teacher’s feel.

Now, about how those players GET to college: check out the Dishin’ & Swishing podcast on recruiting featuring Kenny Kallina, from the Girls Basketball Insider Recruiting Service, Charmin Smith, Associate Head Coach of the Cal Golden Bears and Kelly Graves, Head Coach at Gonzaga.

From Dan Fleser: Pat Summitt gets outpouring of support from UConn fans

Alysa Auriemma’s tribute to Pat Summitt and the favorable response her blog has received from Tennessee women’s basketball fans is another example of improving relations between the two programs and their respective fan bases since the storied series dissolved in 2007 over acrimony involving recruiting.

Summitt’s secretary, Katie Wynn, said that outside of the UT faithful, Connecticut’s fans have sent the most emails, cards and letters of support since Summitt announced last August that she had been diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type.

Also, throwing in a little college/W/HOF: Sue Wicks had long journey en route to Hall of Fame

Speaking of Rutgers and the hot mess that is the Big East conference: University of Memphis women’s basketball program seeks to raise game for Big East move

Speaking of hot messes, from Clay: Olympic frenzy may not help the WNBA come September

So here’s the plan: Team USA wins Olympic gold, sparking some serious interest in women’s basketball. Then, when the WNBA gets back at it Aug. 16, new fans flock to a thrilling final five weeks of play as teams battle it out for a spot in postseason.

The only ugly little fact lurking around the corner with a set of brass knuckles is that the playoff hunt is already pretty much over. Only New York has the slimmest chance of displacing one of the eight teams already in playoff position, and the other three also-rans – Washington, Phoenix and Tulsa – can safely focus on hexing the ping-pong balls so that Brittney Griner winds up playing for them.

Honestly, once the Olympics are done, I’ll be glad they’re done, simply because I feel like the entire first half of the season has been played as if it’s a dinner of Generation Texters. Everyone’s at the table, pretending they’re paying attention to the food and conversation but really, they’re all just peeking at their phones to see what’s happening in London.

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I still think it’s cool that, at the official online shop of the US Olympic team, you can get a Lebron jersey but you can’t get a Taurasi jersey.

If that doesn’t send a clear message to all dem wimmen athletes, nothin ‘ will.

I’d give Doug a nickel to ask Diana what kind of respect the USOC was showing….

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US women’s hoops rookies are experienced veterans

Referring to the five newcomers on the US women’s Olympic basketball team as rookies is a bit misleading.

Sue Bird actually finds it amusing.

“Lindsay Whalen and Asjha Jones are considered rookies, that’s pretty comical,” the American point guard said. “In terms of Olympic experience, it’s new for them. They’ll enjoy it the same way we did the first time.

“But they’ve faced almost everyone we’ll be playing against.”

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of covering the USA Women’s team than ESPN.

Here’s a story on one of my favorite Olympians: Cut from Team in 2010, Augustus Back to Claim Second Gold

Even though I thought it was a long shot and maybe a lot of other people thought it was a long shot for me to make this team, I just kept my focus,” she said. “Coach Auriemma and his coaching staff did a great job of finding great motivating words to help me push forward.”

“I think over the last two years she’s worked herself back into the team and has overcome more than any other player that we have,” said Auriemma. “I feel a strong sense of commitment and obligation to her to kind of reward her for how hard she has worked. I’m really, really proud of her.”

Here’s a video put together by the NBA/WNBA crew.

Rich Elliot captured a little of Auriemma’s Chat About The Olympics On WTIC-AM 1080

Q: Is there any team in your group that you are concerned with more than any other?

A: “In the end, the teams that everyone has been talking about has been the U.S. and Australia and Russia and the Czech Republic. The difference in international basketball is every team has experienced players that have played so much basketball together and against each other to the point where there’s no secrets, there’s no surprises. And that’s why I think the games are always so competitive, for the most part, because there really isn’t any situation where a real veteran team is coming up against a young team, an inexperienced team or a team that doesn’t have enough scorers to make life miserable for you. So lots of teams are really good. But I think those teams are probably the ones that are going to get the most attention.’’

From Brennan at USA Today: Finally: It’s all about the women at the London Olympics

It took 116 years, but the Olympic Games will finally enter the 20th century before too much more of the 21st goes by.

Nearly all the 205 nations marching into Friday’s opening ceremony will have at least one woman competing. It required a lot of arm-twisting for the ultimate holdout, Saudi Arabia, to relent, but even the world’s most chauvinistic Olympic nation has fallen in line, sending two women — a judo player and 800-meter runner — to compete in London.

Perhaps it was the peer pressure from Brunei and Qatar.

Those most traditional old boys’ clubs caved this time, too, giving International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge a clear victory in what has been an extremely uneven journey to some semblance of gender equity at an event that once was as discriminatory as Augusta National Golf Club.

I just want to add side note here: At the 2011 Final Four, Brennan was part of a panel, and she mentioned how USA Today had turned off comments on her articles because the majority of them were homophobic, misogynistic men – women and male allies simply weren’t interested in (or were unwilling to) posting. The comments are ON for this article. Just saying.

Oh, and another side note: From Christine’s article

To be fair, we’re talking about a long time ago, 1896 to be exact, when Baron Pierre de Coubertin founded the modern Olympics, forbidding women because, as he reasoned, it would be “impractical, uninteresting, unaesthetic and incorrect.”

Guess whose grandma and great-aunt (Louise and Nancy Van Voorhees) were part of a group of women who traveled to the Aug. 20, 1922, competition at Pershing Stadium in Paris: The first international track meet for women.

Federation Sportive Feminine Internationale (FSFI) of France after the International Olympic Committee refused to include women’s track and field events in the 1920 Olympic Games. The Meet was commonly referred to in that day as the Women’s Olympic Games. The U.S. team placed second to the more experienced team from Great Britain.

My grandmother died when I was 11, so even though I’d heard my mom talk about Grammy “being in the Olympics,” I never got to speak with her about her experiences. In fact, in putting the wbball timeline together, I realized she COULDN’T have been in “the” Olympics — because women weren’t allowed. But I did start googling her name every now and then — which produced the linked page (started by a librarian at Columbia College who’d heard that one of the female professors had “been in the Olympics.” Ah, the story of women’s history…) and put the truth to the family stories.

This does explain why my mom was – and is — such a beautiful athlete. I, unfortunately, inherited neither Grammy’s skill nor her height. But I’m thinking this explains where my orneriness comes from….

Fans Taking Action Alert: From an email to the WHB: “Interesting non-response to my inquiry.” (Gotta appreciate the dry sarcasm – don’t know that Johnel caught it.)

Recently you requested assistance from our email support center. Below is a summary of your request and our response.

Subject: The rest of USA basketball

Customer By Web Form

Question: Are there only men involved in USA basketball?

Response

Hello,

Thank you for choosing SportsToday. While there are women on the USA Basketball team, we have not yet received information or stock on the Women’s team merchandise. Please check back on our site for updated merchandise.

If you have any further questions or concerns, feel free to contact us.

Sincerely,

Johnel Trammell
Customer Service
http://www.sportstoday.com
Toll Free (US): 800-927-7821

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“Shhhh, I’m reading!”

“Sorry. Don’t suppose you’re reading anything in the NY Times?”

“Don’t be silly. They’re too busy drooling another 827 words all over the men’s team.”

“Right. Silly question. So, what are ya reading?”

“Well, for starters, Fred,” from Doug: Geno Auriemma talks style of play

“We would love to play basketball the way Spain plays soccer,” he said. (WHB Spoiler Alert: Just not like they did today — guess those first class seats helped the Japanese men, huh?) “The ball moves, we’re not trying to be like Italy and win nothing-nothing on penalty kicks. I don’t think that helps anybody.”

When told his soccer analogy could irritate some Italians, Auriemma wasn’t concerned.

“I grew up in Italy so I can make that comment,” the coach joked. “I’ve seen some Italian blowouts where they’ve won 1-0.”

Speaking of that guy from Philly, a mystery writer in London has this from the Quad City Times: Women’s hoops coach Geno Auriemma on cusp of adding golden chapter to remarkable American tale

Across a life of basketball, even as the victories and championships and perfect seasons piled up, Geno Auriemma always figured there was one goal out of reach: United States women’s national team coach.

It wasn’t just that he was born in Italy. It wasn’t just that he was a man in a women’s game. It wasn’t just that he was from the college ranks and the trend lately swung to taking pro coaches.

It was Geno himself. He is, admittedly, an abrasive force. Unapologetic. Politically incorrect. Not at all a member of the inner cliques of the women’s basketball. He’s had longstanding feuds with any number of coaches, most famously Pat Summitt, the icon of the sport.

He wins games, not popularity contests. Getting to be national team coach is, quite often, a popularity contest.

“I did think that if there was a committee that picked the coach, then the chances of me getting picked were zero,” Auriemma said Thursday.

USA Basketball says, “Let the Games Begin: U.S. Women Arrive In London

Is Geno different than the perception you had of him at Tennessee?

Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks): I would be lying to you if I said no. I think that it’s cool when you come from rival schools to kind of see now Coach Auriemma does basketball stuff and how he is off the court. I always knew that he liked to joke and things like that, but it’s been cool playing. Obviously a lot of his girls are on the team. It’s been nice. It’s been a good experience. We haven’t felt too orange (reference to Tennessee’s orange), except when he makes little jokes or something like that about the Southeastern Conference.

Speaking of Candace with an “a”: Olympian Candace Parker Represents Chicago

Speaking of the SEC: Former LSU basketball stars Seimone Augustus, Sylvia Fowles formidable 1-2 Olympic punch

Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles are no strangers to shared success. The LSU All-Americans-turned-international basketball stars together have claimed two Final Four berths, hoisted the Turkish Cup and won multiple gold medals, including the title at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Their games are complementary: Augustus is a 6-foot swingman who can create shots and get to the rim, and Fowles plays the post, dominating the boards with a quickness not indicative of her 6-foot-6, 200 pound frame. And as one can imagine, with the amount of times they’ve appeared on the same roster, their chemistry isn’t limited to the court.

Loudy Foudy brings some much needed gravitas to the game: Crown Jules: Underwear or No Underwear?

Richard Deitsch at SI gives us his Women’s basketball preview

Two pieces from SlamOnline:

Yaron Weitzman: Gold Standard- Diana Taurasi will be looking to add another notch to her storied career when she leads Team USA into the Olympics.

Christy Winters Scott on The Golden Mentality:  the mindset behind playing for Team USA (Have I mentioned how USA Basketball hates that “Team USA” thang? “There is no such thing!”)

“We three Lynx from Minneapolis are … ” From the Minnesota Daily: Lindsay Whalen leads trio of Lynx to London Games – The ex-Gophers star will play at her first Olympics with two Lynx teammates.

From Kelly Parsons at the Washington Times: Maya Moore brings poise to court for U.S. women

When she’s not on the move, the youngest player on the 2012 U.S. Olympic squad spends her time taking it all in.

“I just watch and make sure I’m paying attention and observing everybody who’s in a position of leadership,” Moore said. “They’re usually there saying the right things when we need to hear it, and I’m just soaking it up and trying to cause chaos of the other team.”

Here are “25 athletes to watch” during the Olympics.

Nathan McCarter at the *gulp* bleacher report narrows it down some: USA Olympic Women’s Basketball Team: 3 Rising Stars to Watch

From Peter Souders at Yahoo Sports: United States Women Toughen Up Inside to Beat Down Their Opposition.

Peter also has: The 2012 Olympic U.S. Women’s Basketball Team is Ready to Destroy the Opposition

There’s been a lot of discussion in the media recently about the “feud” between the 1992 U.S. Men’s Basketball “Dream Team” and the 2012 U.S. National squad who claim they could beat them. ESPN has done statistical analysis on the two teams; analysts have debated the claim, and Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Kobe Bryant and Barack Obama have voiced their opinions about the debate. But amidst all the discussion about the men’s team and how dominant they might be, there is a U.S. team that has already reached the dominating levels of the Dream Team: the female half of the basketball competition in the Olympic Games.

Seems Mechelle’s not available, so espnW trots out Prim Siripipat, Jemele Hill and Shelley Smith to discuss gender equality for some male and female Olympic teams.

Lee at Full Court wonders: London 2012: Australia — Can team training offset the loss of Penny Taylor?

Speaking of Australia, I bet glad LJ paid for that seat upgrade: Lauren Jackson named flag bearer of the Australian Olympic team for the 2012 London Games

Paul at FIBA.com weighs in: Veteran ‘glue’ is key to medal prospects

As fans and media, we should collectively hold our hands up, guilty as charged. For I fear we continue to give far too much attention to the headline acts who seduce us with their stats while simultaneously shunning those players who rarely dazzle with points, rebounds or assists but in reality, make teams tick.
 
Yes, those players who are the first names on the roster for each respective coach and when you throw in the additional element of veteran experience, provide the ‘glue’ which will hold together some of the most serious medal contenders in London.
 
It’s an essential ingredient for success. And, while that is always the case at any tournament, I feel it will be an overriding feature in London. In particular for Russia and Australia who each have a great shot at making the Final and, on their day, could even upset red-hot favourites USA.

FIBA’s Mageshwaran offers up this: These Chinese youngsters are Young Stars already!

These are nervy moments of anxiety that Guo Ailun and Zhao Shuang are undergoing in the days of the build-up to China’s participation, in what is likely to be the most popular event among team sports at London – basketball.

These are two youngsters, on the brink of their maiden Olympian experience, bristling with enormous potential and have already been marked out for future stardom. How bright they will shine in the future will depend on their performance at London!

The Denver Post’s Mark Kiszla writes: Taurasi embodies rise of women’s hoops from “fluffy-fluffy”

But maybe the real measure of acceptance for women’s sports in society is the unabashed sass of Taurasi. She doesn’t have to act like a lady 24/7 to soothe the male ego. The two-time Olympic gold medalist doesn’t care who sees her sweat, or hears her swear in the stream of locker-room banter.

“It’s not all fluffy-fluffy women’s basketball. It’s not all about skirts and cupcakes,” Taurasi said Thursday. “Sometimes, there’s steak and cussing going on. And that’s life. It’s not that pretty all the time. It’s kinda ugly sometimes.”

Oh, not every guy stretched out on the sofa back in the United States wants to hear women roar on the field of play. Some red-blooded American males would rather admit to reading “50 Shades of Grey” than watch Taurasi shoot a jumper. But as Geno Auriemma plops down on the bench for Team USA, one of the last significant stigmas of female sports has been more thoroughly erased.

It has ceased to be uncool for a man to coach a team of women.

While the debate about the Dream Team or 2012 has ceased for the most part (especially as 2012 has been put to tough tests by Brazil and Argentina in exhibition play already), putting this year’s women’s team up against USA Women’s of the past is actually an adequate argument. Along with the Huskies, Seimone Augustus, Tamika Catchings, Sylvia Fowles, Angel McCoughtry, Candace Parker and Lindsay Whalen round out the loaded roster.

“We’re just as deep as they were. We’re just as competitive. I think both teams definitely want to get that gold. But me being on this team, I would say we would beat that team just to start something,” said Charles jokingly. Cash added: “The one thing about this team is that it’s really unique. Even from our team in 2004 that I played on, I just think that this team is pretty deep. We’re probably gonna be full-courting up on both sides of the ball. I just think that we have the athleticism, the quickness, the length, the size, so I would put this right up there as one of the best teams, but you gotta get out there and win gold before you can start talking about which team is better than the other.”

From “Our Correspondant” at the Liverpool Echo: Johannah Leedham on a mission to put women’s basketball on the map at the Olympics

When Leedham first began representing her country at junior level, many would have scoffed at her decision, with the sport – particularly female participation – far from being in the mainstream.

But as the 24-year-old has evolved into one of the team’s stars, hitting a buzzer-beater in 2008 against Germany to hand Great Britain its first ever Division A victory, so has the sport itself.

Jessica over at Swish Appeal talks a little Russia and Czech Republic

Just remember, the basketball doesn’t end August 11th: This Trailer for the Paralympic Games is the Most Amazing Olympic Video You’ll Ever See

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we need to bother these folks.”

Ethel: Because it’s polite, Fred, to welcome new tenants. It will be painless — we’ll say hello, drop off the tuna casserole and…

Fred: Get back to prepping for the game on Saturday. Okay, but let’s make it quick. I’ve got to keep up with the Dougster…

Ethel: I know, he is so very industrious. Too bad that nice Mechelle isn’t around to keep him company. (rings doorbell)

Man and woman: (simultaneously shouting): Door!

Man: You get it.

Woman: You’re closer.

Man: Florence, get the damn door.

Florence: Mr. Jefferson, you told me to stay in the kitchen! And that’s where I’m going!

Mr. Jefferson: (Footsteps,  muttering) What’s the point of a maid if they don’t get the door. (Opens door) What!

Ethel: (a little taken aback): Oh. Well, hello! I’m Ethel, and this is my husband…

Fred: (mutters) Fred.

Ethel: And we wanted to welcome you to the building.

Mr. Jefferson: Uh, huh. Weezy! Company!

Louise (enters): Oh, hello there!

Ethel: Well, hello! I’m Ethel, and this is my husband…

Fred: (mutters) Fred.

Ethel: And we wanted to welcome you to the building. We brought this for you. (hands Louise the casserole)

Louise: Why thank you! That’s very kind of you.

George: Okay, enough chit, chat. I’ve got work to do. Here’s the tour: This here is the living area, where we does our living, and this is the dining area, where we does our dining, and this is the kitchen area…

Louise: Where we does our kitchening.

George: (gives her a look) And this is the tv room where we do our tv-ing.

Fred: Nice television.

George: Well, of course. Since I moved up, I decided to move up, if you know what I mean: HD. Can’t watch US v Croatia on a regular feed.

Ethel: You follow women’s basketball?

Louise: Of course we do. I played a little in my day. The game is so different. And they’re so good!

George: Yah, we were season subscribers to the Liberty, but then they moved out to Jersey. Jersey?! Who the hell goes out to Jersey to watch basketball?

Ethel & Fred: No one.

Fred: We’ve been there.

George: Don’t tell me you two honkies follow women’s basketball?

Ethel: Of course. (whispers to Louise) I beat Fred at H-O-R-S-E regularly. Maybe we can shoot a few?

Fred: (admiring the big screen tv) Sure do! Not sure if Croatia is the “Upset Special” Lee says they are, but can’t wait to see them in action.

George: Huh. Fans. Who’da guessed.

Louise: I tell you what — why don’t be both of you join us for the game. I’ll cook up something special.

Ethel: That would be lovely! I can’t wait to see if Geno keeps them switching or not…

George: (escorting them to the door) And if those posts don’t start poster-izing, I’m going to send them to the cleaners, if you know what I mean. Now scoot, I’ve got some prepping to do. And keep it quiet – or Bentley will pop out and start singing “Rule, Britannia!”

Louise: He’s so proud England’s hosting the games. Now, if only Jo can help the Brits win a game or three….

George: Then he’ll be more insufferable than usual!

Fred: See you Saturday at 11:30am for the :45 tip off!

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Diana Taurasi reflects on her road to London

Diana Taurasi knows it could have been all different.

Had her suspension for a banned substance in 2010 not been thrown out, odds are she would still be fighting it in court. Instead, she’s heading to London on Wednesday for her third Olympics with the U.S. women’s basketball team.

“That whole experience has helped me appreciate things more,” Taurasi said over breakfast Tuesday. “You wake up and whether it’s the Olympics, your parents, loved ones, friends or your family you learn how fragile everything is. We all kind of appreciate every little moment a little more. Sometimes it takes things like that to help you think that way.”

The Auriemma/Hardwick story isn’t over yet, so I’m not drawing any literal parallels, but you’ve got to wonder if Doug might be writing a similar story in six months or so.

A little somethin’ somethin’ on Diana’s friend and teammate, Sue: Bird simply loves playing in Seattle

 A long way from the Pacific Northwest, Sue Bird learned that one of the mainstays of Seattle sports was gone.

Ichiro Suzuki, who had been in Seattle since Bird arrived in 2002, was traded from the Mariners to the New York Yankees on Monday. That leaves Bird as the second-longest tenured athlete in the city behind Storm teammate Lauren Jackson.

“That’s pretty crazy, I never would have thought to check that out,” Bird said. “I actually really love that. I love that I’ve been in the same place, developed a relationship with the community and the fans and the ownership. It’s a place I want to be. I feel like they’re loyal to me and I’m loyal to them. It’s a very comfortable situation.”

Thank goodness Doug made the trip — ’cause, have you noticed? Mechelle seems to be missing.

Which made me want to take an unscientific look (serious study is THEIR job) at the coverage so far. Let’s take a look at the NYTimes Olympic/Basketball section: There are 15 links (two are basically repeats).

Three are devoted to the US women, all by the AP (don’t know if Doug did’em)

Complainant Headed to Games (87 words, by AP. Not about the team)

Atlanta Coach and Player Are Eager to Get to London (682 words by AP)

Americans Travel Great Distance for a Few Warm-Ups (615 words, by AP)

11 are devoted to men’s basketball, 10 the US men

U.S. Olympic Basketball Roster Is Versatile, but Not Tall (774 words, by NY Times employee Nate Taylor)

N.B.A. Title Adds to James’s Credibility as U.S. Team Leader (915 words by NY Times employee Nate Taylor)

Nigerian Men’s Basketball Team Makes Olympics (113 words, by AP)

Hanging Out With Olympians (part of NY Times’ Google+ hangout  –  with Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks and Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers)

Blake Griffin Off Olympic Team With Knee Injury (86 words, by AP)

U.S. Gets Past Brazil but Struggles Down Low ( 776 words, 40 devoted to the women’s game, by Adam Himmelsbach, NY Times employee)

U.S. Men’s Basketball Team Routs Britain in Exhibition (506 words, by Reuters)

An Eye-Opening International Education (1023 words, by Jake Appleman, NY Times employee)

Krzyzewski, at Scene of 1992 Victory, Harks Back More to 2008 (781 words, by Greg Bishop, NY Times employee)

With One Tuneup Left, U.S. Has Biggest Test Yet (827 words, by Greg Bishop, NY Times employee)

Only a Tuneup, but One the U.S. Takes Seriously (862 words, by Greg Bishop, NY Times employee)

Wouldn’t it be cool if every single NCAA Division I, II, III, NAIA Division I, II etc. coach dropped a “6623 words v 1424 words? It doesn’t add up!” email to the NY Times Sports department? Sports@NYTimes.com

And no, we don’t have Tom Jolly to kick around anymore. Instead it’s Joe Sexton, who admonished Karen Crouse publicly for voicing her opposition to the Augusta National’s gender discrimination policy. Hmmmm… Illuminating, no?

You could also try:

Public Editor

Arthur Brisbane, our public editor, represents our readers. You can reach him by e-mail or by calling (212) 556‑7652.

Write to the Publisher or President

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And Now for Events That Are Completely Different: How the Olympics might look with Monty Python in charge

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Dabnabbit!

Candice Dupree Undergoes Successful Knee Surgery

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1996: VanDerveer leads U.S. women to ’96 gold

At Stanford, Tara VanDerveer and Jennifer Azzi helped transform women’s basketball from a virtual club program into a headliner and a must-have ticket at Maples Pavilion. Of course, two national championships and a pipeline of outstanding talent perpetuated the success and the popularity of the game at Stanford.

But on a national or international scale, women’s basketball had not quite caught up to what was happening in the college game, at least in pockets like Stanford. The U.S. women’s team had produced a series of disappointing results heading into 1996 – bronze medals in the 1991 Pan Am Games, ‘92 Olympics and ’94 world championships.

With the 1996 Olympics to be held in Atlanta, a concerted effort was made to raise the profile of the women’s team, which paled in the public’s imagination to the resounding success of the 1992 men’s Olympic team – the “Dream Team.”

No, really, I mean it — read Tara’s Shooting from the Outside and Sara’s Venus to the Hoop. The games don’t start for a few days. You have time, and it’ll give you a truly rich understanding of what’s going on in London.

1997: Nothing like the Reign – The Seattle Reign 1997 (Look! It’s Tari, Tari, Tari! She must be psyched about her cousin, Tayyiba Haneef-Park)

Flash forward, from FIBA’s Paul Nilsen: Thinking of Sanchez when The Games begin

When the eagerly anticipated Olympics finally swing into action later this week, my thoughts won’t only be with those ready to step out in London but also those who missed out – and none more so than Argentinian legend Carolina Sanchez.
 
Four years ago, when Argentina failed to punch their ticket for Beijing, it was a painful experience in more ways than one for the veteran. A broken nose caused a premature exit from the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament and rubbed an unnecessary dose of salt into a deep emotional wound.
 
And, perhaps even more agonising and disappointing than what she endured in 2008, was the way in which she recently bowed out of international basketball altogether last month.

More from Paul and FIBA: Serbian straight talking from Jokovic

Even accounting for the cynics who will hint at political motivations whenever representatives of any Federation speak, Jokovic is direct, very much matter-of-fact and that’s a hugely appealing quality.
 
“I suppose that we have started repairing the long-term consequences of inaction and the neglect of women’s basketball,” she admitted.
 
“We have improved the financial situation, set up the system, laid the foundations to build something that we will all be proud of.
 
“But, it takes maybe two Olympic cycles of serious work to get closer to our former successes.

A great tweet from Paul: Paul Nilsen@EuroLeagueWomen

I’ve no time for the bigotry, prejudice and intolerance shown towards our women players. You know who you are. Shame on you. You’re blocked!

Paulo Kennedy: Will the Opals be first class?

Julio Chitunda: What next for Mali?

From Doug: US coaches not marching in Olympic ceremony

Don’t expect to see Geno Auriemma or Mike Krzyzewski marching with the U.S. delegation Friday night at the opening ceremony.

They aren’t allowed because Olympic organizers decided to cut down the number of people marching to shorten the ceremony.

“It really was something special to do, but to be honest the Olympics are about the athletes,” Auriemma said. “No one really remembers who the coaches were. No one remembers who coached Jesse Owens.

“I’m OK with it. The focus is, as it should be, on the athletes. They are the ones who got here and deserve the attention and praise.”

Important tweets from Doug:

With Ichiro’s trade to the Yankees; Sue Bird is now the longest tenured athlete in Seattle sports.

Turkish women’s basketball team got a strong sendoff to its first Olympics. Music blaring and 70 members of hotel staff waving Turkish flags

Just the stats, m’am: Cumulative stats from USA Basketball.

Also from USA Basketball: USA Women’s National Team Ready To Roll Into London

Geno Auriemma (head coach, USA and University of Connecticut)
Is this team shaping up to look as you expected? Yeah, I think so. We just talked a little bit about how we can’t be great at everything because we just don’t have the time to be great at everything. If we did have a couple months together, we could be great at everything because the collection of players that we have is phenominal. But the things that I thought we’d be good at, we are very good at. The flexibility that we have, the versatility that we have with this team is exactly what I thought it would be. The leadership is exactly what I thought it would be. People buying into their roles is exactly what I thought it would be. So yeah, the only downside is I wish I had three months with these guys, even three straight weeks, because it would be a lot of fun to watch.

Oi! Some Aussie video with LJ.

From Swish Appeal: 2012 London Olympics Preview: Turkey

From Lee/Full Court: London 2012: Russia — As usual, an enigma

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(yes, always a dangerous thing) Now that espnW has decided to pick up the “respect” gauntlet (yes, I see the irony, and I’m still wondering, “Where’s Mechelle?”) thrown down by Diana, I’m expecting a flurry of anti-women’s basketball responses talking about how “lays ups are boring” and they want to watch 7′ men dunking on a 10′ rim ’cause that’s exciting basketball.

While I understand that they, as fans of basketball, don’t appreciate the subtlety of the give-and-go or the back door cut or the pick-and-roll or an ankle-breaking drive to the basket, I wonder why they always use the word “layups” in their diatribes. As if women’s basketball is made up entirely of layups and the men’s game is fraught with dunks. Have they never heard of the jump shot? The three point shot? Clearly they’ve never heard of Diana Taurasi, or observed the physics-defying stroke of Seimone Augustus. And what about Coop and Swoopes and… but I digress.

I’m not against dunking. Not at all! When Big Syl and CP3 throw down, it’s awesome. But, I started to wonder: Don’t the men shoot jump shots? Aren’t there three point shooters on NBA teams? Are those players “boring”?

So I did a little googling, trying to find out, on average, how many dunks there are in an NBA game. Not by one individual, but by a team. While I’m sure someone out there can fine tune the accuracy of the stats that follow, I’m going to move forward with what I have: The Clippers board states that in 2010-11, their team averaged 6.5 a game. So double that and you guesstimate that two NBA teams would produce 13 dunks a game.

If you look at video of dunks, they take about 3 seconds (if you start from take off to the post-dunk recovery-roar). So, 13 dunks x 3 seconds = 39 seconds.

Last time I checked, NBA games were 48 minutes.

So, by their own standards of dissing, fans who love the NBA because of the dunks are sitting through 47 minutes and 21 seconds of “boring” a game in order to get 39 seconds of “exciting athleticism.”

Or, to put it in another frame of reference (and if there were an easier way to tabulate the total made shots, I’d use it, but the stats are %-based): in the April 16th game against Oklahoma City, the Clips and Thunder combined for a total of 63 made baskets (they missed 99).

63-13 = 50 boring layups, jump shots and three-point shots that “I watch the NBA because they dunk and that’s exciting” fans had to endure. If you assume that most of the dunks taken were made (LeBron’s doozy of a miss v. Brazil notwithstanding) those poor fans had to sit through 149 shots and layups to get their 13 dunks.

Huh.

Why don’t they just watch Sports Center? They could avoid all those boring minutes of basketball the men play.

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Catch helps keep kids healthy.

From the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette: At Olympics, Swin Cash has McKeesport on her mind

Just as she had for most of her adult years, Cash’s mother, Cynthia, put on her orange McKeesport Housing Authority T-shirt and work pants and headed to the Crawford Village projects for her job as a maintenance technician at a senior living facility. It was going to be a hot one, so Cynthia also wore a black spandex cap over her head to hold in the sweat as she sat in a beat-up truck with no air conditioning and talked about what it was like to raise a daughter in McKeesport.

It was different place then, she said. Everybody knew each other, looked after one another, and once it became clear that Swin had the talent to be a shining light for their community, people often stepped in to help Cynthia. Sure, the mills were gone, and the money was tight all over town, but they were never short of good people, the most crucial capital.

That’s why the last month has been so painful for native McKeesporters like Cynthia, who grew up in the Harrison Village projects and raised Swin there without much worry.

The Doug-ster adding some family flavor to the Games: Parker ready to celebrate Olympics with daughter

Candace Parker can’t wait to get to London.It’s not just because she’ll be playing in her second Olympics or that she’ll get to see the city for the first time. She’s just really excited to be reunited with her 3-year-old daughter Lailaa.

“This Olympics is really for her. It will be a great experience for her to look back at this when she’s old enough,” Parker said. “This time four years ago she wasn’t even a thought and now she’ll be at the Olympics with me. It means a lot for her to be here with me.”

He also offers up some important practice info via twitter:

Doug Feinberg@DougFeinberg  almost forgot; at end of practice today @genoauriemma said he could hit underhand halfcourt shot within 5 tries; it took him 4.

From USA Basketball: USA Basketball Women’s National Team Continues Olympic Preparations

espnW writes: Women still battling for equality in sports (Umm, where’s Mechelle?) Oh, and check the comments.

Pat Griffin has some good stuff: The Olympics Are Coming!

Lee and Full Court still  rock the ‘lympic women’s basketball coverage:

2012 London: Turkey — Plenty of size, but shooters are the key

U.S. escapes a tough Turkish team, 80-61, in final pre-Olympic warm-up

A little W stuff from “The Sports Brain,” Mike: League legends lounge in ‘the 5,000 corridor’

From Sue: It’s not an either/or situation: WNBA needs to market to all of their fans

Side note: You may have noticed ESPN’s Hoopgurlz seems to have disappeared. Looks like Full Court is stepping in to cover the Prep world.

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Sally Ride, First American Woman In Space, Is Dead

Oh, oh, oh!
Let’s go fly a kite
Up to the highest height!
Let’s go fly a kite and send it soaring
Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear
Oh, let’s go fly a kite!

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Seems like other folks are interested in spilling coffee on white WHB t-shirts.

Per their request, I’m putting in an order for the (somewhat) rare “Women’s Hoops Blog – Proud Member of the Women’s Basketball Intelligentsia” t-shirt. (See photo and story behind the shirt here.)

The order includes:

3 Medium
5 Large (3 claimed)
2 XL
2 XXL

If you’d like one, drop me a line with number and size: WomensHoopsBlog @ gmail.com. Cost will be $20 a t, shipping included. I can mail you out the shirt, and when you get it, you can send along a check (or gold bullion).

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early.

With a h/t to Nan, which team won by 19?

USA Plucks Victory From Upset Minded Turkey

SA Men’s Fast Start Paves Way To Win Against Argentina (now updated to: Kevin Durant’s 27 Points Lead USA To  Win Over Argentina)

ESPN, oddly enough, said NOTHING about the women’s game, but plenty of time to the men’s game — as well as their upcoming game against Spain. Yah, there’s the expected disrespect — but, I’m also hearing echoes of Athens (Tell us: Should close games concern USA [men’s] basketball team?). Those of us who followed the women’s team will remember Dawn pointedly commenting how the women finally were getting covered – but in REACTION to the men, not on their own merits. Might that happen this year?

Nice to see ESPN could send Marc Stein to cover the men. Where’s Mechelle?

Moving on… Some post-game quotes: On Seimone Augustus …

A: “That’s why you have somebody like that. You bring her in the game because you know offensively; she’s got it going every night. Some players they know what they are good at. They know what their specialty is, and everybody on the team knows, if we go to her, something good is going to happen and she didn’t disappoint, which she rarely does. So, I was happy for her because going into the Olympics, she’s going to be that designated hitter. You are going to bring her off the bench, and you are going to get instant offense from her. So, this is a good send-off for her.

From the Wall Street Journal:

The 2012 U.S. Olympic team is one of the strongest ever. It includes an eclectic mix of some of the biggest stars in international sports and a group of bright-eyed and little-known teenagers who shouldn’t be little-known for long. Here are 20 Americans you can expect to see and hear a lot from during the next three weeks.

From the Star-Tribune: Maya Moore: Wherever she goes, titles follow

Maya Moore feels blessed and thankful about being on the U.S. Olympic team. At age 23, the second-year Lynx forward is the team’s youngest player.

“This is the biggest stage that I have played [on],” Moore said. “I probably need to take more moments to think about — wow — how cool it is to be where I am.”

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