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by something orange yesterday.

In San Antonio, the Silver Stars kept creeping back, but Parker swatted away any hope  – LA moves on.

In NY, things were going along rather swimmingly for the Lib, until Kara “fess up, you never thought I’d make it in the WNBA, much less win Olympic gold” Lawson completed a four-point play followed by a wide-open three. Bye-bye NY – CT awaits the next round.

Neither LA nor CT were particularly impressive (though I’d bet a nickel Debbie enjoyed the West games more than the East games – and I will admit, I like me a high scoring game as much as anyone), but that’s not the point right now. Winning and moving on to the Conference Finals is.

All eyes are on today’s games (Harding leads Dream to a steal; Lynx hold on by their claws).

Speaking of the Dream – from Full Court:“Basketball is everything to me”: De Souza’s story of struggle and triumph

And their opponent, Indy: – from the Star: Indiana Fever coach Lin Dunn keeps pushing toward goals

Dunn described herself as a die-hard Democrat and has aligned herself with women’s causes. At the 2011 women’s NCAA Final Four in Indianapolis, she was honorary chairman of an event for the National Center for Lesbian Rights. She said she was influenced by discrimination against blacks in the South.

“I grew up seeing that. And it was heart-breaking,” she said. “Now I continue to see how gays and lesbians are discriminated against. I just cannot hardly tolerate any type of discrimination. It’s really hard for me. I think that was instilled in me by my grandparents.”

If only every member of the WBCA had her courage and conviction to do the right thing.

Mechelle says the Storm is all-business for Game 2

Storm veteran Katie Smith knows how tough it is to try to repeat as WNBA champion. She came close to doing it with Detroit in 2006-07, but the Shock lost the latter year in a five-game series with Phoenix.

So Smith has been keeping an eye on defending champion Minnesota this season, watching to see how the Lynx are doing with the mental grind of attempting to win two titles in a row.

“Watching them play, from the outside, they haven’t relaxed,” Smith said. “You see there’s not a lack of intensity. People are diving on the floor; against Atlanta [on Sept. 7] they went two overtimes and gritted that out. They take pride in what they do. It tells you they’ve got their minds on business. It’s not, ‘We’re the champs and we can walk out and just win.’ They go out and prove it.”

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Unless, of course, you’re the LA Sparks and have to play your opening round at Galen. No never mind, though, as the SASS will have to stew on their way back to San Antonio, as they saw their lead slip away into a LA win.

At the Casino, life was probably a little more interesting than the Sun wanted, what with New York hanging around until the end, but Tina’s points made the difference and the Sun won their first playoff game since ’08. (Yikes!) Oh, and Carolyn, honestly, wear the bloody reading glasses. You’re IQ will go up 50 points if you’re not improvising because you can’t read what someone else wrote for you.

How Slam Online do in their preview? WNBA Playoff Preview Who will reign victorious in the first round of the WNBA Playoffs?

Looking at tonight, Mechelle says: Seattle’s identity still taking shape and Jayda adds: As playoffs begin, Storm healthy but still a bit unsure.  There’s a little more optimism here: Storm rested, ready to test mettle in playoffs

From the Runner Up MVP: Tamika Catchings would love to add WNBA title to sterling resume

The Pioneer Press says For Minnesota Lynx’s title defense, mum’s the word,

the Lynx site is busy Breaking Down The Lynx’s Record-Setting Regular Season, Fox Sports has Old and new mesh well for WNBA’s Lynx, while Sports Page Magazine offers As playoffs begin, coaches assess the West.  

LSU pays attention to their alum: Augustus, Hightower Set for WNBA Playoffs as does PSU: Storm and Former Lady Lion Standout Wright Open WNBA Playoffs Friday and the Blue Raiders: Alysha Clark and Seattle Storm open WNBA Playoffs on Friday

In the awards derby:

Hays: Charles wins MVP, thanks Thibault

Kara Lawson Receives 2012 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award

Sun’s Montgomery earns Sixth Woman Award

Smith: Toliver transforms into MIP

This from WaPo: Former Terrapin Kristi Toliver, eases up and excels for WNBA’s Sparks

During her first three seasons in the WNBA, former Maryland all-American Kristi Toliverfaced a more formidable adversary than any opponent wearing a different jersey: her own internally corrosive passion.

This year, however, Toliver began to dilute the more acidic aspects of her intensity. As a result, the guard had her best season as a professional and played a vital role in helping the Los Angeles Sparks reach the WNBA playoffs.

From those teams not playing:

Voepel: Magical for Merc but not Mystics

Hays: Behind-the-scenes with Washington

Hays: Gaines on Griner, prospects

From Fox Sports: Griner’s skills tower over compatibility issues and from Swish Appeal: Is Phoenix Ready For Brittney Griner?

And from Hoopfeed: How to “fix” the WNBA Draft Lottery Problem

From the College ranks:

Out of Sacto: California law will aid hurt athletes

Out of Connecticut: A Lobster Tail. Tale: This one’s above and beyond basketball

This is the story of someone’s Warholian 15 minutes. And how it morphed into a narrative of inspiration. And how it reminds us, during this season of playoffs, pigskins and pennant races, that sports are for win or lose, not life or death.

It has particular relevance here on the day the WNBA Playoffs begin and women’s basketball goes national again for a few weeks. This is one the nation needs to know: How humanity transcends the rivalry in the country’s only two outposts where women’s basketball is part of the culture.

Here is the two-minute drill version: A little girl in Niantic asked a man named Don MacKenzie to save an 80-year-old, 17-pound lobster from what would become a date with a bib and butter. And now somewhere around $5,000 has been raised from Connecticut to the Pat Summitt Foundation.

No, really

The Pacer at UT-Martin has: Pat Head Summitt: The story behind the women’s basketball legend

Out of UT Knoxville: Bashaara Graves loves her hometown, and Lady Vols

Also out of UT Knoxville — you knew this was coming: Debby Jennings files suit against UT for ‘unlawful discrimination’; says Pat Summitt was told she would not return as coach

From the Richmond Times: Offseason attrition makes VCU’s women’s basketball coach road rockier

From Naples, Fl: FGCU notebook: Women’s hoops ready to work

A little WATN? in Boiler-land: Wisdom-Hylton rejoins Purdue women’s basketball program

An update from the Illini: Tate: Bollant builds support system

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Seems to have happened with the blog formatting (nothing I did, I can assure you! on edit: But, hey! I fixed it! Magic!), but perhaps it’s the internets reflecting the wacko-ness of the ping pong balls.

Karma’s a b*tch, ain’t it Sheila?

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Disrespecting and demeaning teachers and officials is all but a national sport, but no one really wants to step in to their shoes.

Case in point: the NFL v Officials brouhaha.

Have you seen this? VIDEO: Call it maybe (NFL Replacement Officials Parody)

The thing is, it ain’t the “replacement refs” fault. Yes, they’re there because they’re “scabs,” but they are also there because the NFL and the “real” officials (Association, not Union — big difference) are at odds.

Over at the Sports Economist, Victor Matheson is Throwing a flag on Brian Goff

Earlier today my colleague Brian Goff weighed in on the current NFL referee strike. I think he got almost everything right except one crucial point.

As current D1 college soccer referee and a former Major League Soccer official, I have to take issue with Brian’s claim, “Yes, there are some specific skills, both individually and as a coordinated unit, that officials need in order to effectively manage an NFL game, and these skills take some time and training to attain to the level of the old refs. However, there are literally thousands if not millions of people capable of acquiring these skills in a relatively short time.”

Let me tell you from first-hand experience that this is almost certainly completely untrue. High-level sports officiating is extraordinarily difficult. I’m smart enough to have received a Ph.D. in economics from a good school. I am fairly athletic and fit. I have over 100 professional games and 750 collegiate games of experience as a referee. At the peak of my ability I was among the 100 best referees in the US out of over 100,000 registered soccer officials in the country. And yet, if I were called upon to serve as a replacement referee in the event of an MLS referee’s strike, I would be a significant drop in quality compared to the average referee in MLS. If someone with my skills and experience would have a hard time stepping into the lion’s den, there’s simply not some huge pool of potential MLS or NFL referees out there just waiting to be discovered.

Oh, and for those who think women’s basketball officials suck simply because it’s women’s basketball and no one cares enough to demand that they get better officials, Goff also has: MLB Umps: Evaluated but not Incentivized

The egregiously poor call against in the Yankees-Orioles game when Mark Texeira slid into first base throws attention back on to several issues with MLB umpiring

I’m also thinking that, if and when the regular refs return, fans and coaches are going to have to be sooooo nice to them. (Yah, right. That honeymoon will last a game’s worth.)

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Playoff time.

But first, it’s PING PONG time! Says Mechelle: Draft lottery will be ‘game-changer’

There have been much anticipated drafts in the WNBA before, but likely not one that will prompt quite as much chatter as that which will take place next April. That’s because there are three marquee seniors with very different games — Baylor’s Brittney Griner, Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne and Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins — who will bring not just talent, but a kind of “presence” to the league next year. Or at least, that’s what is hoped for from them.

Whoever’s picked 1, 2 or 3 will have a chance to sit with their future team and watch the WNBA playoffs where, no surprise: Lynx are heavy playoff favorites – Defending champion Minnesota leads the way as the playoffs open Thursday

How big a favorite is Minnesota to repeat as WNBA champion? Let’s put it this way: After finishing first in the Western Conference again with the league’s best record, the Lynx are very, very hard to pick against.

With two MVP candidates in Olympians Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus, a third London Games gold medalist in point guard Lindsay Whalen, an experienced front line and a bench that understands and fulfills its role … there isn’t a weak spot to attack when facing Minnesota.

Michelle has some previews:

Storm face uphill climb against Lynx: Best-of-three series opens in Minnesota on Friday (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET)

Silver Stars cooling at wrong time – Best-of-three series opens in Los Angeles on Thursday (ESPN2, 10 p.m. ET)

(We know this) Liberty have no answer for Charles

Defense will determine East semifinal – Best-of-three series opens in Indiana on Friday (ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET)

Mi & Me do a little preview video.

From the players:

Becky Hammon: A shot I’ll never forget

Sue Bird: Handing out some awards

Lindsay Whalen: Nothing compares to a title

Other stuff:

Jayda gets busy:  WNBA Talk: Catching up with former Storm player Swin Cash and My WNBA Ballot for the 2012 Regular-Season Awards

Oh, and echoing Jayda’s tweet: Why does someone who “doesn’t like” and “doesn’t watch” the WNBA have a place at the espnW roundtable? Tina Charles the MVP favorite. I’m awaiting the call from ESPN to sit and discuss the NBA’s MVP….

From Jerry Brewer at the Seattle Times: Eye of the Storm: Can women’s professional basketball succeed on and off the court in Seattle?

Ginny Gilder points to a dry-erase board in her South Lake Union Office. A handwritten note best explains her challenging life as a WNBA owner.

Defiant, not defeated

The best doesn’t come easy,

that’s why there’s nothing like it

Professional sports owners are commonly perceived to be rich white men who desire a toy, and that stereotype is often reflected in the erratic way they run franchises. But owning the Seattle Storm, in a 16-year-old women’s sports league still establishing itself, is neither a luxury nor a hobby. It’s an assignment, and sometimes a burden.

From the Sacto Bee: Leading off: Ex-Monarch Penicheiro left her mark on the WNBA

Ticha Penicheiro, the former Monarchs star who retires after tonight’s WNBA game between the Washington Mystics and her Chicago Sky (5 p.m., NBA), said the decision was easy.

She’s 38 years old, and she’s been bothered throughout her final season by sore hamstrings, sore Achilles’ tendons and more sore body parts than she can count.

“I’m like an old car,” Penicheiro said in a quick phone chat Friday. “Too many miles.”

From Phoenix Center Krystal Thomas: What My Mom Taught Me

Achieving my dreams has not come easily. When I was 11 years old, my life took a turn that seemed to put everything on hold. My father was incarcerated and sentenced to 7 years in prison. A few months later, my mother was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. I have four younger siblings, and as all of the trials occurred, my life as a “normal” teenager changed. My role at home shifted and my responsibilities became enormous. My mother battled with breast cancer for 5 years, until she passed away in January of 2006.

My mother was a huge influence in my life. She challenged me to be the best person that I could be, and she never let me give in to the failures and disappointments that life brings. She helped raise me to be the person that I am today, and I thank God everyday for that. After she passed away, I had two choices: throw my dreams aside, or keep chasing them no matter the consequence. I chose the latter, and repeated the words that my mother preached to me each day to conquer my dreams.

 Swish Appeal has a new look, but still has lots of info.

The 1996-97 ABL Players: Where Are They Now?

Indiana Fever’s January And Zellous Still Out

Kara Lawson’s Take On Top Prospect Brittney Griner

Sixth Woman: Second Round Picks Head The List

Who isn’t the WNBA MVP?

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Just when I was feeling all pessimistic and such, what with me attending the last Lib home game and seeing lots of folks in the stands and NO ONE AT THE EXIT DOOR HANDING OUT PLAYOFF INFORMATION much less COME BACK, BRING SOMEONE AND THEY GET 50% OFF!!! (It was fun watching ‘tude Sr (Plenette) go hip to elbow against ‘tude In Training (Glory)). Oh, and BTW, Michelle’s not particularly optimistic about the Libs chances: Liberty have no answer for Charles

Anyway — back to the miracle: Mystics, Lacey To Part Ways

How much does the possibility of snagging Griner play in to Marynell’s thought process?

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about Debbie “what are we put on the floor to do? Score!” Antonelli, her relationship with Coach Yow, Coach Yow’s fight against cancer, and how Debbie used coach Yow’s lessons in her own life.

BTW, the Kay Yow Foundation has raised 4.6 million dollars in four years.

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