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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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I’ve spent the entire season warning folks about Tulsa. (The Shock want wins now, not lottery balls later) I think I made the prediction somewhere that they could win 8 or so games this season. They hit 9 Ws with their 12-point stompin’ of New York. Eric Woodyard writes: Flint native Kayla Pedersen learns pro basketball’s mental aspect in second WNBA season with Tulsa Shock

Luckily for the Lib, the Sky continued their disappointing season, losing to the Dream, this eliminating themselves from the playoffs and giving NY the fourth spot in the East.

So, with the post-season looming, it’s time to rank your WNBA Playoff teams.

BTW, I’m not makin’ much of the Sparks’ win over Minny, are you? Michelle is.

BTW: WNBA star Maya Moore lit up President Barack Obama on basketball court

The Star asks, Can Tamika Catchings repeat as WNBA’s Most Valuable Player? Nate makes The Case For Tamika Catchings As 2012 WNBA MVP – Swish Appeal. At Full Court: Who’s best in the WNBA: It’s tough to argue with this surprising statistic

Since the first time I watched Ticha, I loved her game. She’s a better person, and the league will miss her enthusiasm and professionalism. From Nate: Ticha Penicheiro’s Retirement Marks The End Of A WNBA Point Guard Era

From Mechelle: Ticha Penicheiro ready to retire

The career timing was right for us to know Ticha, and we’re lucky for that. Penicheiro turned 38 on Tuesday, and we’ve watched her early years, her peak years, her experienced years, and her golden years as an athlete.

She came to the United States from her home in Portugal, and was key in revitalizing Old Dominion’s program from 1994-98. That, in itself, is an important contribution to women’s hoops history.

In 1997, she played in what’s still one of the most emotionally charged games I’ve ever covered. No offense to Tennessee, which won the NCAA title that year, but the ODU-Stanford semifinal “felt” like the national championship game. It was drenched in big personalities, high hopes, longtime dreams, and a desperate quest for a happy ending. (Which, when that Final Four was all over, neither team got.)

Both ODU and Stanford played their hearts out that night. Penicheiro’s “flying sideways” layup early on set a tone that something epic was happening; it was one of those games in which the air feels as if it’s carrying the electricity of athletic passion. You knew whichever team won would be euphoric afterward, and whichever lost would be sobbing uncontrollably. And that’s how it played out.

How much longer will we have the Warrior Princess to kick around? As season winds down, Tina Thompson the first to 7,000 points

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most teams are prepping for playoffs, ping pong balls and fan appreciation night, so call me when the regular season is over.

Perusing other news…

Well, ooops! Readers of this blog may remember Monroe College as the launching pad of a great story: Syracuse mom and grad Fantasia Goodwin. Less pleasant news to share this time:  they got themselves seriously sanctioned by NJCAA for messing with kids’ LOIs. Not cool.

Speaking of not cool: Michigan St. Players suspended.

Speaking of cool, the NY Times gives Beard some love: Two years removed from the WNBA, Alana Beard is embracing a new team and a new outlook.

Rebecca writes that The ACC move takes out trash talk, Graham writes that familiarity and frequency fueled the rivalry, while Mechelle knows that ND’s move has strengthened the ACC.

Guess the next question will be: who wants UCONN?

As for Vegas, I’ve seen all the sights: a tour of Red Rock Canyon, a sighting of a Western Grebe and a walk along the Hoover dam.

One thing I will say, their “cell tower dressed up as a reedeeally tall palm tree” is far more effective than the east coast’s “Look! A reeeeally tall, ugly fake evergreen!”

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Viva, Las Vegas!

Off to celebrate a friend’s 50th — sneaking in a couple of days early to do a little birding, maybe visit Red Rock Canyon. Holler if you’re around.

Oh, and is that a Nneka-nail going into a coffin I heard last night?

And how can you resist this headline? Four blowouts and a windbag

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The good, the bad & the ugly

Well, maybe just the bad and ugly.

New York took care of Washington, but it wasn’t pretty (and I’m not just talking about the pink uniforms.) Now Chicago has to keep up by taking down the “we love playing at home” Sparks.

On a serious note, and speaking of pink: Players feel close to WNBA’s Breast Cancer Awareness

Basketball has always been Katie Douglas’ refuge.

It’s been the Indiana Fever guard’s “sanctuary” and an “outlet to heal” after losing both her parents to cancer at a young age.

Understandably, tears tend to stream down her face when breast cancer survivors are honored before WNBA games for the league’s annual Breast Cancer Awareness Week, which tips off this season on Sept. 16.

Seattle’s 28 turnovers was baaaaad, so the  Bird-less Storm got pulverized by Indiana.

San Antonio righted the ship against Tulsa.

The Sun were Charles-(and still)-Jones-less, but they still had Kara. CT used a strong second half to put the hurt on Dupree-Prahalis-Taurasi-Taylor-less Merc.

Minny’s going to D.C.: On Tuesday, September 18, the Minnesota Lynx will visit the White House and President Barack Obama in recognition of the team’s 2011 WNBA Championship.

The ‘claw doing some important work: Ex-Lady Vol Holdsclaw returns to alma mater, shares story and battles with clinical depression

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From Nate: WNBA Hollinger Power Rankings: What Happened To The Silver Stars?

From our Alien Friend:

Paying no heed to the opening Sunday of the NFL season, there were five WNBA games on the slate yesterday. But we’ll get to those in a moment – unusually, there’s been some moderately worthwhile news emerging from our league over the last 24 hours.

Firstly, as announced by Cindy Brunson at the WNBA’s Inspiring Women Luncheon (and then first reported by Mel Greenberg via @womhoopsguru), the WNBA draft lottery will be televised by ESPN for the first time on September 26th. That’s much earlier than they’ve held the lottery before, but it should help build some buzz for the league heading into the playoffs. The extra interest this year obviously surrounds the 2013 graduating class that’s led by Baylor center Brittney Griner, with Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins considered pretty nice consolation prizes. It’s good to see both the League and ESPN showing that they’re invested in coming up with new ways to draw people into the WNBA, and get them talking about its potential.

From Jayda: WNBA to honor U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team; other tidbits from historic London Games

OK. National media didn’t do its best job covering the afterglow of women’s achievements at the London Olympic Games. The Seattle Times did offer diaries and features about Olympians with Washington ties. And I blogged/tweeted about the entire women’s basketball tournament, including USA Basketball winning an unprecedented fifth consecutive gold medal.

Side note: I was up early watching the Russians and Turks. However, I rarely tweeted about those games because surnames like Palazoglu or Vodopyanova would gobble up Twitter’s allotted 140-characters.

You know what, all the talk of Phoenix “tanking” may be goofy, but it sure has put the WNBA out there in the twitter-sphere! Speaking of the Merc, from Ben: Seven Random Observations About the 2012 Mercury

Joan Nissen has more on the Lynx: Lynx offer glimpse into winners’ psyche

Seimone Augustus remembers winning a championship last October in Atlanta.

She remembers, but it’s blurry. She and her teammates talk about it sometimes still, here in the midst of their next title chase, but the details sometimes elude them. They’re too focused on the here and now, on Chicago and then Indiana and then Indiana again. They’re thinking about Los Angeles next week, then Phoenix and finally San Antonio.

The Lynx know what comes next. They know it like their lives depend on it, and they know how much they want what lies at the end.

From Clay at Full Court: WNBA MVP race wide open — fans’ vote may count for a lot

Once again, WNBA fans have a voice when it comes to the league’s MVP.

Granted, it’s not exactly a Kelly Clarkson-sized voice (41 other individuals will also fill out a ballot), but it’s a voice nonetheless. And on top of that, one lucky fan voter will get a free trip to one game in this fall’s WNBA Finals.

The on-line voting booth at http://www.wnba.com/mvpvote is open now, and will remain open until Sunday, Sept. 23, and of course, ballots can be cast from mobile phones as well as from more mundane, if not downright outdated, devices such as desktop computers.

Clay also offers up: Who’s lucky? And which WNBA teams are really good?

We all know luck plays a role – maybe a big role – in sports, and life, for that matter. But thanks to baseball stat wizard Bill James, it’s become a lot easier to determine just which teams are the luckiest in any given season.

James calls it the Pythagorean method, because he found he could approximate what a team’s expected winning percentage should be by creating a formula that involved squaring runs scored and runs allowed. The method also applies to other sports, though with modifications, and it’s based not just on some mathematical whim but by comparing past results to, in the WNBA’s case, points scored and points allowed.

With that lengthy preamble out of the way, we can look at the luckiest, and unluckiest, teams in the league based on how they’re performed in the win-loss column as opposed to the points scored-points allowed category.

Bob Corwin had this: Atlanta nightmare leads to Dream job for Fred Williams

Assistant coaches who are quietly going about their business rarely get much ink — that is, until something dramatic happens.

When Atlanta Dream head coach and general manager Marynell Meadors was fired Aug. 27, all of a sudden assistant coach Fred Williams was not only thrust into a complex dual role, but also found himself in the middle of the latest Angel McCoughtry controversy. Williams suspended McCoughtry briefly before re-instating her for Sunday’s game, but putting that ongoing saga aside, here’s a look at the new man in charge in Atlanta.

Kelly Kline adds this: January could be the difference in October

In the last 10 games, January has posted a handful of career bests including 22 points against Phoenix on Aug. 25 and eight assists against the Liberty on Aug. 30.  Fever coach Lin Dunn says the Arizona State grad is also delivering career-best performances on defense. “She may be the best defensive point guard in the league,” says Dunn. “I’m not sure who is better.  She’s going to guard Cappy, she’s going to guard Angel and Seimone.  She’s always going to get the chance to guard everybody’s best player, so that’s been a huge plus for us that we didn’t have last year.”

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Holy, carp.

The Big East is in deeeeep doo-doo: ACC Accepts Notre Dame as New Member

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“Fred.”

*snrtle* “…due to personal reasons.” *snrtle*

“Fred! Wake up!”

*snort* “HUH? What? Is the regular season over?”

“Not quite, Fred. You were having a post-Olympics nightmare. The regular season is almost done, though. Two teams fighting for a shot at the ping pong ba… I mean, playoffs.”

(Wipes eyes, stares at computer screen.) “Ah, Chicago and New York. I see the Sylvia-less Sky beat Minny.

“They sure did, Fred. Not a clue about what that means for their team, but it does tie’em with New York. What’s the schedule look like?”

“Well, Eth, looks like NY has the easiest path — and the tie breakers: Washington twice, at San Antonio and finishing up against Tulsa.”

(Both speak at once) “But you don’t ever want to over look Tulsa.”

(Laughs) “No, you sure don’t want to face my Coach of the Year. And Chicago?”

“The Sky’s looking like they need to be road warriors, Ethel: at Los Angeles, Phoenix and Seattle. Lucky them, they get Washington at home to finish up.”

“So, any predictions, Fred?”

“Ha. I may be an old dog, but you can teach me new tricks. I’ll save my words for Monday morning quarterbacking and my money for the Tulsa/NY tickets.”

“Until the final game, then.”

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so, thanks Mark Deuel: Oregon’s Original Scoring Champion

She was easily the highest scoring player in the area. Her prodigious scoring was known throughout the league and region. She was 5-11 with a relentless work ethic, college coaches had to have been lining up to offer scholarships.

But nobody called.

Nobody called with a scholarship after Minney scored 50 points in the county championship game, singlehandedly outscoring the opposition. Nobody called with an offer despite a 57 points per game average as a sophomore.

No coaches visited after opposing team protested her playing for the Vida boys’ team in the playoffs as a freshman. “We’ll put boys in our girl lineups,” a captain of a Vida opponent cracked when told of Minney playing on the boys’ team. [1]

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Former Westwood coach Delaney-Smith to be honored by Harvard

ESPN.com and NBA columnist Jackie MacMullan will serve as the guest speaker at the “30 Years of Coaching Excellence” gala hosted by the Friends of Harvard Basketball. The event is scheduled to take place Saturday, Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. in Lavietes Pavilion on the Harvard campus.

The gala is being held in honor of women’s basketball head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith, who is entering her 31st season at the helm of the Crimson. Delaney-Smith is the winningest coach in Ivy League women’s basketball history, having captured 11 Ancient Eight titles while racking up 474 career victories. She has coached eight Ivy League Players of the Year, five Ivy League Rookies of the Year and 34 first-team All-Ivy League recipients. Additionally, all 16 members of Harvard’s 1,000-point club have been recruited and coached by Delaney-Smith.

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getting my SCUBA certification (yup, I’m officially a diver!), the WNBA was having an interesting weekend.

On the “not fun” interesting side: Shock players had staph infections. It’s a little deja vu-esque for Tulsa. Writes Mechelle:

There’s no getting around it: This is a tough subject for the Shock — and the WNBA — because the franchise has dealt with staph infections each of the three years it has been in Tulsa.

***

Still, the length of Pedersen’s absence with “flu” prompted some rather ridiculous rumors about what was actually wrong. Why didn’t the Shock just initially acknowledge publicly what it was?

Well, staph (short for staphylococcus aureus) infections are something that franchises and leagues really don’t want to talk about ever, let alone three years in a row. ESPN the Magazine’s Ric Bucher wrote, in an October 2010 story, about how staph was “the secret scourge of locker rooms everywhere.”

He detailed a staph outbreak that hit the Boston Celtics in 2006, along with several other harrowing experiences by athletes with infections. Including the NBA’s Grant Hill, who missed an entire season after contracting a staph infection during an ankle surgery.

On the “fun” interesting side, I swear I heard the “Beat LA!” chants while I was under water. I find a rally and a two-point win will do that to a NY/J crowd.

Tina rallied the Sun to beat a Sylvia-less Sky — who got a 21/15 game from Swin. But, PLAYOFFS? Swaggering Sky Puts Playoff Tickets on Sale

Katie D broke 5,000 but, more importantly, her 30pts helped Indy take down Phoenix, 89-83.

In the “what the heck is happening” interesting side, Sophia is still rockin’ the joint, but the SASS are still losing — this time by a whole heck of a lot to Minnesota (who didn’t miss a beat with Augustus sidelined.). Gotta love the eagle-eye headline editors: WNBA: Moore’s double-double leads Silver Stars.

In the “bored now” interesting side, the Dream stomped all over the Mystics. More nice things from Harding. The teams involved in the Drive for BG has begun to narrow: Draft Lottery Results Will Be Announced Before Playoffs Begin

Friday was pretty fun on the court, too. Says Nate:

This has already been mentioned elsewhere, but if you happened to miss Friday night’s overtime thriller between the Atlanta Dream and Minnesota Lynx you should go back in the WNBA LiveAccess archives and check it out. It was an instant classic unlike any other game this season if only because it was played at such a high level if nothing else.

It’s almost hard not to start the recap of the weekend’s 11 games without that game at the top, but we’ll still go in reverse chronological order just to attempt to bring some coherence to what happened…and keep the Lynx at the top (for summaries of what happened in Atlanta or New York, check out what James, Ray, and Queenie wrote elsewhere on the site).

That was a sigh of relief coming out of Seattle: Storm clinches WNBA-record ninth consecutive playoff berth. Jayda adds: Storm rookie Shekinna Stricklen is elevating her game. Sue says, Thanks, fans, for the starring role you play

Joan Niesen from FSN says Rivalries would enhance WNBA’s popularity

Cheryl Reeve has been the villain.

It’s hard to envision that here in Minneapolis, where Reeve has quietly altered the power structure of the WNBA, turning mediocrity into utter dominance. She’s still the underdog, in a sense, in her out-of-the-way city so far from the lights of New York and beaches of Los Angeles. Reeve and her Lynx are big time, but they still haven’t lost their small-town, overachiever feel.

But Reeve had a life before the Lynx, one that included a four-season stop with Bill Laimbeer and the Detroit Shock. And Laimbeer, he was the villain back then. Even Reeve admits it.

Anyone else find it weird that no Minny players are in the “running” for MVP? Maybe the fan vote will “Boost” one of them into the running.

In other news, they’re going to need a reeeeeeeally big table: The United States’ female Olympians have been honored by WNBA with its Inspiration Award. Heather Burns writes:

Tamika Catchings has won three gold medals as a member of the U.S. women’s basketball team, the latest last month in London. But it never gets old.

“When I first get my bag with all my gear, I do the same thing every time,” Catchings said. “I go up to my hotel room and I get out my jersey and my shorts and my socks, and I lay it all out on the bed. Take a picture, post it. Every time.

“When you have Team USA across your chest, you aren’t just playing for yourself or your families. You are playing for the whole United States of America.”

Speaking of the Olympics, the gold went to… Gliders get rolled for gold by German muscle

Still speaking of the Olympics: My First WNBA Game (Wouldn’t it have been cool if she could have attended wearing a USA Women’s Basketball jersey?)

Hey, speaking of honors, did you see that the NY Times wrote about the Red Heads? Photo in an Attic Leads to a Forgotten Team’s Place in the Hall of Fame

Every journey to the Basketball Hall of Fame follows its own path. This one starts with flaming red hair, a dull black-and-white photograph and one man’s ravenous curiosity about a team few others even knew.

Last Friday night in Springfield, Mass., about 65 women (many with fiery auburn hair) were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and the All American Red Heads officially emerged from basketball obscurity.

Thanks, John.

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“It’s Tree callin’.” (McClain Prepares For Naismith Induction) “Oh, and you better make room, ’cause there are a whole bunch of red-headed gals comin’ up behind me. They’re comin’ in from all over.”

New Mexico: Soybal to be inducted to Hall of Fame with All-American Red Heads

Utah: All American Red Head excited to be entering basketball Hall of Fame

Georgia: A ‘Red Headheads for hall of fame  (Click, if only for the photo!)

Minnesota: Braham grad headed to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame

Arkansas: Former Red Head Mason excited to see team in HOF

New Hampshire: Doucette to be inducted into Basketball Hall of Fame

Oklahoma: Famous Redhead named as inductee

Kentucky: Versailles woman heads to basketball hall of fame as part of All-American Red Heads

Missouri: Cairo sisters are HOF material with the Red Heads

Georgia: Naismith Hall of Fame Honor humbling for longtime Gwinnett educator

Minnesota: Sjoquist twins headed to basketball Hall of Fame

Missouri: Red Heads to Hall of Fame: Sarah’s Stories

Louisiana: All-American Red Heads, the first women’s basketball team to make the Hall of Fame

Colorado: Goodson takes pride in time with Red Heads – Longmont Times-Call

Connecticut: Tourtellotte star to be inducted into Hall of Fame

Cindy (Laliberte) Nelson knew she wanted to play basketball beyond her senior year at Tourtellotte High School, but this was 1974.

“I was going to go to UConn after high school, but women’s basketball wasn’t popular, I guess,” Nelson said.

The glory years of UConn had not begun yet and basketball scholarships were non-existent. The NCAA Division I championship was still eight years from becoming reality, and the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) was in its second year.

The only outlet for women to continue basketball was teams such as the All-American Red Heads.

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Put your money where your wish is. (This came through while I was on vacation, so it’s lovely to see Nate and Co. pick it up)

SA women’s basketball gear update: $27 K pledged in first week

Erica Mauter has provided an update to her campaign to get USA Basketball to offer more USA women’s basketball gear in their online store.

Check it out and if you haven’t taken the survey and followed the Tumblr, do so.

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and somewhat disappointing to witness, since I trekked out to Newark in the hope of a real game, not a one-sided blowout. Lib 80-zillion, Merc not-nearly-as-much. Oh, and surprise: another Phoenix player was injured.

The highlight of the game was watching Diana and Cappie chat post-game with their USA Basketball/WNBA coach, Anne Donovan. Said coach of the 2008 gold medal team, “I miss that group.”

On an interesting “behind the scenes” note: President of Madison Square Garden Sports Leaving Post.

O’Neil’s departure comes just as the Knicks are facing a new challenge for fans and corporate dollars in their home market, with the Nets moving to Brooklyn this fall. The need for a strong, creative voice on the business side has perhaps never been greater.

Scott was the gentleman with whom I had a long conversation a year and a half ago about why, after joining up in 1998, I was no longer a NY Liberty season subscriber. He tried to convince me that better times were coming for subscribers — that he was re-vamping from the inside out. I wasn’t convinced then (not sure I’m convinced now), but it’s hard to see his departure as a good thing for the Lib (a team not mentioned in the article).

In Atlanta, looks like Angel is on a bit of a mission after the ruckus: Lindsey Harding, Angel McCoughtry lead Dream past Fever.

Paul Neilsen writes a somewhat overwrought defense of Angel: McCoughtry no angel but public assassination is over the top

A little on Sophia from the Carribbean Journal: From St Vincent to the WNBA

A little somethin’ from Nneka: Life on the Road as a WNBA Star

From Jayda: Aussie to Aussie: Storm All-Star Lauren Jackson speaks with Tulsa’s Liz Cambage

From Michelle: DeWanna Bonner’s game blossoms

From Nate: 2012 WNBA Most Improved Player Rankings: How Much Better Has Kristi Toliver Been This Season?

And yes, I watched as the Sparks faded in the second half against Minnesota. Amelia knows why: Fans give the Lynx an edge – Seats fill fast, and Target Center has become one of the toughest places for visiting teams to play.

Speaking of which, Mechelle chatted today:

Sofia (Durham, NC): SASS has lost 3 straight. LA’s lost 3 straight, too. Which team’s fans should be more concerned? I say LA’s fans should be more concerned because I think SASS has looked ‘better’ in their losses. But I may be over-impressed by that great OT game against the Lynx. What do you think?

Mechelle Voepel: I tend to agree with you that the Sparks fans might be more concerned now. Not specifically because LA has lost three in a row, but because Candace Parker hasn’t seemed a dominating force since she returned from the Olympic break. Some games, her numbers have been “OK,” but not others. Furthermore, she doesn’t look as engaged as she needs to for the rest of the Sparks to build off of her. It seems like the Sparks’ defense is not sharp, and the offense is tilting a little too much to the perimeter, especially for a team with the weapons inside that the Sparks have. Maybe LA will finish the last two games of this road swing stronger and then play well as they finish the regular season at home. But there are reasons now for Sparks fans to be a little worried, I think.

The finals are set at the Paralympics:

A little revenge: Australia edge US to make basketball finals

British women’s basketball team lose to Germany

In other Olympic news:

Bruno’s Olympic Trilogy—Part Two: Memorable Moments Off the Court – DePaul Coach Will Always Remember Emotional Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery and Part Three—Personal Reflections

In college news:

From Swish Appeal: NCAA Women’s Basketball Attendance: Winners and Losers for 2012

From Marquette: Five Big East newcomers will present different challenges on women’s side

From Missouri: Q&A with Robin Pingeton and The Rest Of The Story: Pingeton Q&A

From Champaign: Bollant’s up for challenge

From El Paso: Women’s basketball heads into challenging schedule

While there has been a lot of talk about the men’s basketball team – and for good reason, given the talented incoming class and the challenging schedule assembled by coach Tim Floyd – fans should also start getting excited about the women’s basketball campaign.

Head coach Keitha Adams has done a tremendous job of building the program into a consistent winner. UTEP boasts the best winning percentage of all league schools since joining Conference USA seven years ago, has the third-most victories among Division I programs in the state of Texas over the past six years, and has won a trio of C-USA crowns, the 2007-08 regular season and 2012 C-USA regular season and tournament.

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As most of you know, it’s become an annual thing with me: get as many people as possible to join me at the Garden for the Maggie Dixon game.

We usually get a group rate ($40 each) and the seats have been super. I purchase the tickets, then mail’em out to you — and then you send along a check or hand me the big bucks at the game.

Details:
Sunday, December 9th. First game starts at 11am.
Louisiana Tech vs. Rutgers

Duke vs. St. John’s

If you want tickets, drop me a line at womenshoopsblog@gmail.com. I’m looking to put in an order this Friday.

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what with Angel making up for lost time and Big Syl returning to form.

The question for both teams is: what happens next game? As Nate asks: WNBA Hollinger Power Rankings: What Difference Might Angel McCoughtry Make For The Atlanta Dream?

The story is: Sun lose! Sparks lose! 

From Richard: Atlanta’s conquering heroine returns, while Sparks are exposed again

It’ll be interesting to see how LA fares against Minny tonight. Not particularly interested in the Sun/Mystics game, though. You?

Mechelle celebrates a good news story: Alana Beard finds fresh start in L.A.

The Los Angeles Sparks have experienced back-to-back defeats. Boo-hoo. Alana Beard, even more so than the average WNBA veteran, is not going to be fazed by such setbacks. When you’ve lost two seasons during the prime of your career, rebounding from losing two games doesn’t seem like much of a challenge.

Beard has been in the WNBA for nine seasons but been healthy enough to play for just seven. She celebrated her 30th birthday in May. Sometimes in recent years, the thought crept in her mind that perhaps she’d need to start her life’s fourth decade by submerging completely in a new career: that of the businesswoman she has long planned to be.

She is not one of those pro athletes who will wake up one day and say, “Oh, no! Now what?”

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