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her last. 

From Jayda:

In May, during the Storm’s media day, Tina Thompson was asked what’s new.

She paused for a long time before saying she’d like to learn to play tennis. She also likes to golf, but doesn’t have time. And, oh, she’d like to learn to sew more than the drapes she stitched for her home in Houston.

As training camp wore on and her 17th WNBA season began, it was becoming clear to her. It was time to retire and make time for other interests.

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and disheartened.

Heartened: The Liberty are pulling out the stops to get people in the stands. I’ve gotten lots of emails. Trader Bill has been pro active in reaching out to the fans with meet-and-greets. He’s a generous, opinionated interview. And I’ve been offered free tickets.

Ya, free. Get over it, folks. You need to put butts in the seat and hook’em with the product on the floor. Of course, if they’re smart, there will be people handing out flyers and “come back with someone else next game and you get in free” coupons.

Heartened: An MSG person sent me this article: Cheryl Ford is back in WNBA, playing for the Liberty.

Wow, what a concept: the NY Liberty making their fans aware of articles about the team. Like, you know, some kind of news collecting service that helps tell editors that folks are interested in reading about the WNBA. Where have I heard that before?

Disheartened: They sent me the ENTIRE article in the email. Do they not understand the concept of copyright laws? Oiy.

Disheartened: The article comes as close to saying “Cheryl will be a game-by-game player” as it can without actually saying that.

In other news:

From the Atlanta Daily News: WNBA Facts at Your Fingertips

The 17th season of the WNBA tipped off Memorial Day Weekend. That’s right, THE 17th SEASON. Despite the ups and downs associated with the start of any American professional sports league and the additional challenge of establishing a women’s sports league, the WNBA is alive and kicking and poised to reach a new level thanks to an exciting infusion of fresh talent and personalities.

Michelle Smith writes: Candice Dupree a smooth operator

A straight line.

That’s how Phoenix Mercury coach Corey Gaines describes his veteran forward Candice Dupree, and he means it as a compliment.

What is more consistent, more sturdy, more sure a thing than a straight line? No jagged edges, no unexpected dips, no changes of direction. Just the shortest distance between starting a game and winning it. That’s Dupree.

Dupree embodies that steadiness, and Gaines and the Phoenix Mercury have come to rely on it.

The Tulsa GTR says: Diggins, Cambage to Spark Shock

From Newsday: Rookies shine during WNBA’s opening weekend

With Griner now having a WNBA game under her belt—albeit a 102-80 loss to the Sky—she and her fellow WNBA rookies must captain another effort that is near and dear to the league’s heart entering its 17th regular season.

That effort is renewing wide-scale interest in the WNBA itself.

So far so good: WNBA Season Off to Strong Ratings Start; Most-Watched Regular-Season Game on ESPN2 in Nine Years

From DC: With many new faces on hand, the Mystics look to turn things around in 2013

From Redeye’s Ernest Wilkins: WNBA demands your respect

The contest went like this: Them vs me. If I could hit more free throws (out of 10), then I would be the champ.

As for the game itself, can I just go ahead and say Sky guard Epiphanny Prince is my new favorite basketball player? Upon being introduced to me, she sized me up like a wolf would look at a rotisserie chicken, then drained like 19 3s in a row.

Speaking of Chicago, I didn’t want to jinx it, but how cool is this? The Q is in the W: Former Blue Demon Allie Quigley Makes Chicago Sky Roster

From Scott Mammoser at the Examiner: WNBA President Laurel Richie eager to watch Brittney Griner and rookies develop

From Ethan Grant at Bleacher Report: Brittney Griner and Fellow Rookies Have Tough Task of Renewing Interest in WNBA

LZ is grumpy: Stop celebrating women’s dunks

Let us hope this ceases to be breaking news so that she can be judged as a basketball player and not written about like some sort of vaudeville act doing parlor tricks.

I guess…. but, what kind of assumptions is LZ making? Why do they celebrate men’s dunks?

Some of the Swish Appeal folks are grumpy:  Is this “3 to See Campaign” just getting too biased and coming at the expense of other WNBA teams and players?

From the .com: FIVE THINGS WE NOW KNOW ABOUT THE WNBA

From Mechelle’s chat:

Sofia (Durham, NC): As a team, Phoenix looked poor in their season opener. I know it is early but the defensive schemes were way off & their shots were not falling. Will Gaines be on the hot seat if the team does not show dramatic improvement soon?

Mechelle Voepel: It’s really way too soon to be talking about hot seats. :) [WHB begs to differ! <g>] Obviously, the Mercury got a wake-up call from that game, so let’s see how that impacts the rest of the early part of the season.

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in Kate Fagan’s really fine piece: Owning The Middle: Brittney Griner wears bow ties, dates women and dunks with abandon. Call her names if you like — she is done hiding from haters.

Ray Griner is more blunt. He says his daughter hasn’t heard from Mulkey since Baylor’s shocking loss to Louisville in this year’s NCAA tournament. “It’s about dollar signs,” Ray says. “There’s nothing in it for Kim anymore, so she’s done with Brittney.”

Mulkey was once viewed as a fierce defender of Griner. At a news conference during the 2012 Final Four, a reporter asked the coach about the insults Griner receives on social media, and Mulkey delivered a passionate response. “This is someone’s child,” she said. “This is a human being, people.” Griner says she appreciated the gesture, but she couldn’t help feeling that Mulkey was only defending part of her. “If you’re up here protecting me, then protect all of me,” she says. “We can talk about gender, but we can’t talk about the fact that I’m a lesbian?”

Take the time to read the whole thing.

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there are no games?

Don’t worry! L’Alien will fill in the blankness in your life with game recaps and analysis.

WNBA Today, 05/28/2013: Griner dunks but Mercury demolished, while Mystics squeak past Shock

Memorial Day was a big holiday for the WNBA this year. While the season may have begun for the diehards on Friday night, Monday was the launchpad for the vaunted ‘Three to See’ on national television. ESPN2 rolled out the red carpet for Skylar Diggins in Tulsa’s home opener, followed by the professional debuts for Brittney Griner and Elena Delle Donne. It didn’t all go quite according to the anticipated script, but there was some entertaining basketball along the way. Oh, and a couple of dunks. We mustn’t forget the dunks.
Sunday night saw the opening game of 2013 for two teams with very different outlooks on the season. The Los Angeles Sparks have brought back every meaningful piece from a strong 2012 campaign, and added Lindsey Harding to run the point. Their expectations for 2013 are a lot of wins and a deep playoff run, preferably with a parade at the end. Conversely, the Seattle Storm are without star duo Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson, have only four rotation players returning from last year, and are hoping to scrap their way through 2013 as best they can. Given all that, maybe the way this game played out shouldn’t have been much of a surprise.
Four more teams got their WNBA seasons started last night, and just because I feel like it, we’re going to go Bullet Point Breakdown on both of them. Away we go.

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Well, the team is set.

Clay at Full Court has more to say:Two surprising additions, one stunning omission, highlight USA U16 roster

As usual, there were surprises when the USA Basketball Women’s Developmental National Team Committee made its decision on a 12-person international roster – but this year, the U16 team that will represent the United States at the FIBA Americas in June, was more than surprising.

First, two of the 12 were not among the 33 players formally invited to try out, but rather were part of the 91 players who came to the Olympic Training Center via the open trials process. Any player could submit an application for these open trials, and though most of those who showed up were high-quality players, some clearly didn’t belong at this level. This time, though, Sabrina Ionescu of Walnut Creek, Calif., and Taylor Murray of Odenton, Md., both perimeter players, and both uninvited, were selected.

One of my favorite New Orleans Final Four moments was running into Mary (Coyle) Klinger and hearing her talk about how thrilled she was to have been named assistant for this team. Reminded me of how important USA Women’s basketball is to some folks.

The U-19ers are also set: Talented 12-Member 2013 USA Basketball Women’s U19 World Championship Team Announced

Headlined by three returning members of the gold-medal winning 2011 USA Basketball Women’s U19 World Championship Team, USA Basketball today following four days of trials announced the 12-member team that will represent the red, white and blue as it attempts to capture its fifth-straight gold medal at the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship, hosted by Lithuania from July 18-28 in Klaipeda and Panevėžys. Held May 16-19 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Springs, Colo., the USA U19 trials featured 33 athletes age 19-years-old and younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 1994). The team was selected by the USA Basketball Junior National Team Committee, chaired by UT Chattanooga head coach Jim Foster.

Speaking of USA Basketball Committees: Kara Lawson – Player, Committee Member, Commentator

The very busy Kara Lawson is involved now in just about every level of women’s basketball as a Connecticut Sun guard, ESPN analyst and USA Basketball committee member.

Last week, she was in Colorado Springs, Colo., in her new capacity as a member of the selection group that picked the 12-member teams that will represent the nation this summer in the FIBA U19 world championship and World University Games.

Speaking of USA Basketball in general: 5 questions with USA Basketball’s Carol Callan

5. At this point four years ago leading up to the 2010 world championships and 2012 Olympics, you had a women’s national team coach (Geno Auriemma) in place. No coach has been named for 2014/2016 yet. Where are you in that process and do you have a timetable for it?

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Whoa, who’s going to guard EDD? (Paging Nneka! Paging Nneka!).

Snap judgment: EDD for ROY.

To Russia with love? Sure, Piph wants to play in the Olympics, but damn, girl, you’re important to this team (see last year).

Snap judgment: Sky needs to get a comfortable lead in the East so they can hold on and make the playoffs.

Who’s going to light a fire under the Mercury? They couldn’t have looked less interested in playing yesterday — and that was on defense (as always) and on offense.

Snap judgment: Corey’s on the hot seat.

What a difference a year makes: How much fun was the Tulsa (Yes, TULSA, ESPN!)/Mystics game?!? Whoop! Whoop!

Snap judgment:  Coach K & T split COY awards.

Rome wasn’t re-built in a day, nor was the Detroit Shock/Newark Liberty. Even if Ford and Pierson get healthy, defense and offense are an issue.

Snap judgment: Liberty don’t make the playoffs.

Yes, it’s going to be a loooong season in San Antonio and Seattle.

Snap judgment: Storm and Silver Stars get the first and second picks in the 2014 draft.

“Baby, you can drive my (reaaaaally, reaaaally) nice car!” The happiest point guard in the west is Ms. Harding. The happiest MVP candidate is Ms. Parker.

Snap judgment: The Minny/LA rivalry will heat up big time. Expect technicals.

Snap judgment, two: Hollywood rediscovers the Sparks.

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pi$$ing match.

Analyzing the stigma lesbian athletes face and how Brittney Griner can be seen as a trailblazer too

Jason Collins put an end to a very long wait last month. Finally, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community had an active, openly gay male athlete in one of the four major American sports they could look up to. In a culture where sports and sports figures dominate and set the tone for the rest of society, it was a noteworthy step forward.

However, while some may have pointed out the courageous active female athletes who have come out over the past 32 years to pave the way for Collins, few would have suggested that any lesbian athlete from the past had as much to lose when they came out as Jason Collins did.

Helen Carroll, the sports project director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, summed up what lesbian athletes go through by saying, “it’s not easier for women, because they are dealing with sexism and homophobia at the same time, always.”

Former Baylor players respond to controversy about Brittney Griner’s coming out story (the comments are mighty interesting)

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Rank’em and weep.

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the reaction to Liz Cambage’s  return to the Shock.

Liz Cambage said she really wanted to join the Tulsa Shock last August for the second half of the WNBA season, but things didn’t work out.

She was drained from helping her native Australia to a bronze medal finish in the London Summer Olympics.

“I wanted to come back so bad last year. It wasn’t until I got onto the plane, and I had a bit of an event, a breakdown,” she said.

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Have you done your homework?

From Full Court

Clay: Team plus talent will win the West

Teams are more than talent.

Sure, a supremely talented group of players can overwhelm a roster with significantly lesser ability, but when two talented groups go head-to-head, “team” becomes more important.

In the competitive Western Conference, there are three very talented rosters, but only one has the balance that comes when ability matches position, when options are many and holes are few. That roster belongs to Minnesota, which is why the preview begins with …

The Sparks are set to catch fire

Seattle must weather an injury storm

WNBA Preview: Is there a beast in the East?

Ever since Dick Vitale high-volumed his way onto a TV screen, American sports fans have listened to a host of commentators talk about coaches as if they were players. “Rick Pitino sure shut down Trey Burke in this one,” an announcer will intone, as if Pitino were out on the court personally shadowing Burke.

In truth, of course, Pitino could have had the greatest strategy in the world, but if his players didn’t have the talent to execute it, it wouldn’t matter. Or, to put it another way, coaching IQ directly correlates with player talent.

Sun shake it up — but did they really need to?

The Dream might miss the point

And this cool little review: Once upon a jersey: The evolution of sponsorship in the WNBA

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, names were everything.If that play was a basketball game, and one team was the Montagues and the other the Capulets, the name splashed on the jersey would be an honor for the players to display and each fan to behold. The names of the teams (families) in this game would represent a bitter rivalry between sworn enemies, and would contribute to a competitive matchup.

The only difference here is that, unlike in the play, this basketball game would not end with the key players dying by suicide. (And I for one would like to keep it that way.)

From ESPN

Michelle says: Pondexter among MVP candidates

Mechelle writes: Defending champ back for more

On May 31, the Indiana Fever will unveil their WNBA championship banner and receive their rings. There were some times over the winter months when Fever president and general manager Kelly Krauskopf checked the WNBA website and once again had a feeling of amazement that these things were going to happen.

“I’d see, ‘Get your Fever 2012 WNBA championship gear here.’ And I’d think, ‘Wow, that’s us,'” Krauskopf said. “Then you start reflecting on the journey it is to get there — all the years, tweaking the roster, everything the team went through. When we started the playoffs badly against Atlanta, when Katie [Douglas] went down in Connecticut. That whole journey makes it more special.”

It’s a lengthy path that, for Krauskopf, reaches way back to 1999, when she was named chief operating officer of the expansion Fever.

Michelle asks: Is Harding L.A.’s missing piece?

Speaking of missing, Michelle knows the Storm will have new look in 2013

“We’ve played a lot of games since I’ve been here without Lauren,” Storm coach Brian Agler said, referring to the fact that Jackson hasn’t played a full season for the Storm since 2010 because of injuries and the 2012 Olympic break. “Not that we enjoy it, but we have a good feel for how that is … We haven’t played many games without Sue.”

Mechelle knows Mike T is Ready to resurrect the Mystics

She also is aware that the Plot thickens as 2013 season nears

Last week, women’s basketball Twitter queen Skylar Diggins sent out a short, perfectly apt tweet. It was in response to a big surprise with her new team, the Tulsa Shock, but it could apply to the entire WNBA season, which officially starts this week.

 “The plot thickens …” was @SkyDigg4’s comment. And indeed, there are a lot of storylines to follow, many of which could — and probably will — impact who we see in October battling for the WNBA championship.

With their

WEST BREAKDOWNS

and

EAST BREAKDOWNS

it’s Prediction Time! Which team will win the East? and Which team will win the West? and the crew offers their 2013 WNBA season predictions

The AP Mystery Writer says Strong offseason, filled with major moves, raises the WNBA bar for the Tulsa Shock

Are the pieces finally falling in place for the Tulsa Shock?

Time will tell, but if the preseason prognostications of the league’s general managers are any indication, Tulsa finally looks like a playoff contender. A survey found the Shock as the WNBA’s most improved team.

The AP’s John Marshall wonders: Is this the beginning of The Brittney Griner Era?

AP Mystery Writer deux is in Texas and offers this: Steady and sure, Silver Stars — one of the WNBA’s most consistent clubs — slide into new year

AP Mystery Writer trois is covering Chicago: Sky is the limit for Chicago, Delle Donne as WNBA team hopes to turn tide in 2013

APMW4 is California Dreaming: Candace Parker resumes chase for her 1st WNBA title with LA Sparks

Candace Parker is ready to resume her pursuit of the only major title to elude the basketball star in her career.

She wants a WNBA championship to add to her two Olympic gold medals and two NCAA championships at Tennessee. She even won a title with her Russian pro team during the offseason.

Parker thought the Los Angeles Sparks had the makings of a title team last year, but they came up short, getting swept in the Western Conference finals by Minnesota.

APMW5 is at the Casino: Connecticut Sun eyeing WNBA title with new head coach

Mike Thibault led Connecticut to two WNBA Finals in his decade as the team’s head coach, but never won a championship.

That will be Anne Donovan’s charge this season.

Connecticut fired Thibault and replaced him with the Hall of Fame standout in the offseason. The move came despite a year in which the Sun posted an East-best 25-9 record before losing to Indiana in the conference championship series.

“Usually, when you’re taking over a team, you’re restructuring, you’re tearing it down, you’re building it up again,” said Donovan, who won a WNBA title as coach of Seattle in 2004, beating the Sun in the finals. “That’s certainly not the case here in Connecticut.

Randy Hill at Fox Sports South is wondering: Griner will be huge, but can she make WNBA big?

The arrival of Griner and two other gifted rookies – Skylar Diggins and Elena Delle Donne – has been offered in carefully rendered comparison to Magic Johnson and Larry Bird lifting the NBA profile in 1980.

That’s not excessive pressure, is it?

“I just learn to go with it,” Griner said of handling expectations. “I really haven’t had a problem with that.”

Sports Illustrated offers up this AP article: After finals loss, Minnesota Lynx hope for title finish in 2013

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve would find herself walking through the aisles at her grocery store this offseason when she would be recognized by a fan.

The ensuing conversation would occasionally catch her off guard. Often times instead of congratulations being extended for leading her team to a second straight WNBA finals, the most common question she got was, “What happened?”

After steamrolling through the regular season at 27-7 in pursuit of their second straight championship, the Lynx lost to Indiana in the finals. For a franchise that for years was a league doormat, the newfound expectations have been eye-opening.

From Scott Gleason at USA Today: WNBA hopes Brittney Griner, new logo are slam dunks

Change is coming to the WNBA.

That message is being emphatically emphasized in the upcoming season with a new logo featuring a player rising to the rim for a dunk.

Fittingly this summer, the 12-team league welcomes a rim-rising star who’s already generated an unmatched buzz before stepping out on the court for an official game.

Lois Elfman writes this for the Amsterdam Times: WNBA veterans joining coaching ranks with the Liberty women basketball team

This will be a New York Liberty season like no other, with All-WNBA First Team guard Cappie Pondexter playing alongside fellow WNBA champions Cheryl Ford and Katie Smith, as well as talented rookies Kelsey Bone and Toni Young.

The coaching staff is also unlike any the Liberty has had before. All four assistant coaches played for the Liberty at some point in their WNBA playing careers—Barbara Farris, Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Teresa Weatherspoon and Tamika Whitmore.

Now that the rosters are set, check out who’s in and who’s out.

Jayda writes: TV Alert: With rosters finalized, here’s where to watch the Storm and other WNBA teams

John Altavilla writes: Sun Goal This Season: Tighten Things

Keep up with the Fever with Kevin Messenger’s blog.

Over at Mel’s blog, it’s Mike Siroky’s SEC Report: Making The WNBA Season Opener Rosters

L’Alien is Back (and redesigned)! Priming for Opening Night in the WNBA: New Rules, a New Line, and Prediction Time

So What’s New?

Well if you’ve ended up here, you’re probably well aware of the ultra-hyped new rookie class that’s entering the league. They’re obviously new. We’ve also had coaching changes in New York, Connecticut and Washington since the end of last season. But you can read all about that and the various roster changes in the individual previews. What has the WNBA altered for 2013 on a more basic level?

Finally, a little audio: WomenSportsCentral – Link Brenda and Mechelle’s WNBA preview starts at 13:05 minute.

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This, from FOWHB Doug:

Just thought I’d mention if you haven’t seen it that we’re trying to do a WNBA twitter chat today with Candace Parker, Candice Wiggins, Seimone Augustus, Tina Charles, Angel McCoughtry and Sammy Prahalis at 4:30 ET. Figured your loyal readers would be interested. It’s all about fan interaction with them so hopefullly people will jump on and ask questions.

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Griner: No talking sexuality at Baylor

Former Baylor women’s basketball star Brittney Griner says that Kim Mulkey, her college head coach, told players not to be open publicly about their sexuality because it would hurt recruiting and look bad for the program.

“It was a recruiting thing,” Griner said during an interview with ESPN The Magazine and espnW. “The coaches thought that if it seemed like they condoned it, people wouldn’t let their kids come play for Baylor.”

So, what’s the next thing Mulkey will profess “ignorance” of?

Meanwhile, from the New York Times: ON RELIGION‘Griner Effect’ May Change the Game at Baylor

By dint of her celebrity status, to say nothing of her marketplace value to the Baylor brand, Ms. Griner has instantly altered the relationship between Baylor and its gay students, one that has been awkward at best and contentious at worst. Far from condemning her as a sinner, Baylor offered Ms. Griner “our admiration, appreciation and support,” as the university’s director of media communications, Lori W. Fogleman, wrote in an e-mail this week.

Plenty of caveats should be attached to this tolerance offensive. Baylor continues to omit sexual orientation from its nondiscrimination policy. The university’s official statement on sexual misconduct lists “homosexual acts” — as well as sexual harassment and adultery, among other behaviors — as “misuses of God’s gifts.”

Even so, if it is too soon to know with certainty whether Baylor’s public acceptance of Ms. Griner’s sexuality will extend to the John and Jane Queer of its rank-and-file student body, a more expansive kind of change seems possible thanks to what one might call the Griner Effect.

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Cambage says she’s headed to WNBA

The relationship between Cambage and the Shock reminds me a little of that game that my nephews always begged me to give them money to play. You know, the one with all the cool-looking prizes in the big glass box, and all you have to do is pick one up with this claw-thing and then drop it off into the open space. Yeah, that’s all you have to do.

“You’re not wasting 50 cents on that,” I’d say. They would plead, “But I could get the iPod! I just know I could get it this time!”

I’d say, “Yeah, right. You KNOW the clamp will open before you drop in the prize. It ALWAYS does. You KNOW like one in a million people — if that — actually gets the iPod.”

The inevitable comeback: “Nuh-uh! My friend at school said his cousin got it once!”

Cambage, the 6-foot-8 Australian who was the WNBA’s No. 2 draft pick in 2011, has been the prize that the Shock haven’t ever quite had a grip on.

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Why, look who’s writing about the New York Liberty! Can Laimbeer lift the Liberty?

After the 2012 season, when the New York Liberty finished with a 15-18 record and exited the playoffs in the first round, many fans were disenchanted with management, uninspired by the product on the court and dreading the idea of spending one more summer “in exile” in Newark, New Jersey, awaiting the completion of final renovations on Madison Square Garden.

Then, in October, a ripple of excitement spread through the fan base: It was announced Bill Laimbeer would return to the WNBA as the Liberty’s new head coach and general manager. Laimbeer brought with him an oversized personality, a keen basketball brain and, most importantly, a history of almost instant success. In 2002, he took over an awful Detroit Shock team midseason and transformed it into a championship winner the next year. He followed that up with two more league titles in 2006 and 2008. What might he do with a team that went 15-19 in 2012?

Other folks have been really busy at Full Court. Sharon Crowson says It’s time for Chicago to meet expectations

Stereotypes can be useful because they are frequently accurate. They can provide a useful picture of a situation — but it’s vital to remember that “frequently” is very different than “invariably”.

That distinction is important to remember as the Chicago Sky enter their eighth season. They have yet to make the playoffs and the stereotype of non-playoff teams is that they lack talent — but nothing could be further from the truth.

(Speaking of Chicago, Delle Donne making Chicago homeElena Delle Donne Makes Impressive Debut for WNBA’s Chicago Sky and Sky’s Delle Donne wastes no time)

Kelly Kline says the Upgraded Shock are thinking playoffs

Despite being stood up by Liz Cambage for the second year in a row (they made up), the Tulsa Shock are optimistic about 2013. Thanks to adding significant talent through the draft and offseason trades, the Tulsa season is shaping up to be the team’s best since it arrived in Oklahoma.

“We feel like we have more firepower, bigger guards, better shooting and we have a chance to be a better defensive team,” says coach Gary Kloppenburg. “We basically have a new team.”

Will Indy pick up waived Adair now that Davenport is hurt?

Congrats: Connecticut Sun guard Kara Lawson wins WNBA Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award

Congrats! (Vrooom, vrooom!) WNBA Champion Indiana Fever named Grand Marshal for 2013 IPL 500 Festival Parade

The APs Kareem Copeland writes: Fever prep for WNBA title defense

The defending champion Indiana Fever feel like they are under the radar all over again heading into the WNBA season.

The team brings back 10 players from the 2012 roster and will be trying to become the first repeat champion since the Los Angeles Sparks in 2001-02.

They have exactly been the talk of the league so far.

Almost congrats: Brittney Griner, WNBA Phoenix Mercury Player, Nominated For 2013 BET Award and Out WNBA Star Brittney Griner Tells Youth at GLAAD Awards ‘Don’t Hide It. Be Who You Are.’

Speaking of BG, some Baylor message board fans may be turning their back on her, but W fans ain’t: Brittney Griner’s arrival sees 19 percent increase in sales of WNBA merchandise

(BTW, did you catch this Baylor news: WBB coach Damion McKinney resigns and assistant Rehka Patterson also resigns).

Odeen says Diana Taurasi is glad to share Phoenix Mercury stage with Brittney Griner

The spotlight was hers and hers alone.

Was.

It shined on Mercury star Diana Taurasi for years, nearly a decade just in the WNBA. But now comes Brittney Griner, the Mercury’s new No. 1 overall pick — a 6-foot-8 phenom whose personality is just as big as her new teammate’s.

Asked to compare her spotlight to Griner’s, Taurasi didn’t miss a beat.

“It’s a lot taller.”

Ever the optimist: Gemelos still aims for WNBA career with Minnesota Lynx, coming back from 5th repair of ACL

Mechelle says Maya Moore as motivated as ever

The WNBA season hasn’t even begun, but it has already been a championship kind of year for Minnesota’s Maya Moore.

Playing in China for the first time, she led her team to a title there. Then in April, she watched her alma mater, Connecticut, win its eighth NCAA women’s basketball crown.

“Obviously the alums feel a part of it, but that was their journey, their struggle, their learning, their growing, their competing,” Moore said of the 2012-13 Huskies. “It wasn’t an easy season; there were ups and downs. But to see it come together in those two games of the Final Four, it just made me so proud.”

It’s a reminder, of course, that how you finish means everything in sports. And last season, that’s what Moore’s Lynx didn’t do well. After having the best regular-season record for the second season in a row, Minnesota wasn’t able to successfully defend its WNBA title.

From the Yakima Herald: Storm’s Clark not taking anything for granted

Many already have Alysha Clark as a lock to make the final Storm roster for 2013.

Clark, a 5-foot-10 forward, crinkles her face at the idea.

Sure, she was part of the 2012 roster. She even played a key role when injuries and the WNBA’s break for the Olympics pulled teammates out of the lineup.

However, it didn’t land her a guaranteed contract.

An act of faith: Former WNBA player Tully Bevilaqua commits to her partner

Former Indiana Fever player Tully Bevilaqua and her life partner, Lindsay Bevilaqua, are raising two children in Indianapolis and own a gym together in the city.

So when the two, who have been together for 4 1/2 years, decided to get married, they opted for a ceremony in Indianapolis rather than going to a state that recognizes gay marriage.

But in Minneapolis: Augustus looking forward to Minnesota wedding

It looks like Seimone Augustus could get her Minnesota wedding after all.

The Minnesota Lynx star has been planning to marry fiancee LaTaya Varner, but she wasn’t sure she would be able to do it in her adopted home state because gay marriage was not legal. That could change by as early as next week.

The Minnesota House passed a measure to legalize gay marriage on Thursday and there is optimism among supporters that it will pass the Senate and be signed into a law by Tuesday.

”It’s just exciting thing to see so many people support it,” Augustus told reporters on Friday, her first day of training camp with the Lynx after returning from playing in Russia during the offseason.

From Michelle Smith: Mercury ready to rebound

“Last year was the hardest, most difficult thing I’ve ever been through as a player,” said point guard Samantha Prahalis, a rookie for the Mercury last season. “Losing that much, it was tough. People would say to me, ‘Yeah, but you get to play a lot,’ and I would say, ‘No, I want to win.’

 “I was excited to get drafted to come here and play with Diana and Penny and play for titles.”

Just a couple of months later, the clouds parted. Oh, did they ever.

M&M ponder Which team will win the East?

Did you catch this? WNBA Player Puts on Astonishing Shooting Show

Hello there, lady bolter: Alabama introduces new women’s basketball coach Kristy Curry. Here’s her goal: Alabama AD Bill Battle wants women’s basketball to outgrow Foster Auditorium

WATN? Windward’s Vanessa Nygaard will help coach U16 national team. She’s joined by LaDreda Akins (Haines City H.S., Haines City, Fla./Florida’s Finest AAU), Terri Bamford (LaJolla Country Day, La Jolla, Calif./Waves AAU),and Kimberly Davis-Powell (Essence Girls Basketball AAU, Tallahassee, Fla.)

Speaking of USA Basketball: 2013 USA Basketball Women’s World University Games Team Trials Set To Begin With 33 Collegians — Ten USA Basketball Gold Medalists Return To Vie For Roster Spots

WATN? Semeka Randall named new Alabama A&M women’s basketball coach

WATN? Eastern Illinois hires former WNBA player Debbie Black as new head coach

Another new hire: Billi Godsey takes Iona’s reins

We still don’t know why the position became vacant, but it’s no longer open: San Diego State Hires Stacie Terry

It can be tough to play friends: ND v. Penn State – McGraw challenged by draw

Of all the teams in the Big Ten, there was one team that Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw didn’t want to play in the Atlantic Coast Conference-Big Ten Conference Challenge — Penn State.

That’s because Coquese Washington, who played for McGraw at Notre Dame and was an assistant coach for the Irish for eight seasons, is the head coach at Penn State.

“Of course, we would never schedule a game against Penn State, because I try not to play my friends,” McGraw said.

Yes, Women’s College Basketball is adopting a rule long overdue…

Speaking of rules that were overdue….here was someone who said “No” to banning girls basketball: E. Wayne Cooley, pioneer of Iowa girls sports, dead at age 90

E. Wayne Cooley, a girls’ sports pioneer who left long-lasting marks on the the state of Iowa, died Saturday of natural causes at age 90.

He ran the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union, the nation’s only statewide athletic association dedicated to girls, from 1954 until his retirement in 2002, overseeing generations of athletes. Under his guidance, the Union expanded from three sports — basketball, golf and tennis — to nine programs.

Flashback to 2007: Hall of fame: Cooley led the cheers

Troy Dannen, current executive director of the IGHSAU, said Cooley has the greatest business mind he’s ever known.

“He’s the epitome of the promoter,” Dannen said. “He always came up with different ways to get people into the building. It was always about more than basketball at the basketball tournament.”

Sports Illustrated came to Iowa after Title IX passed in 1972 to do a story about the effect on the state. The article concluded the change barely caused a ripple, Cooley said.

“We were 15 to 17 years ahead of Title IX,” Cooley said of what he considers his top accomplishment. “I was very proud of that. The girls had everything.”

Generations of Iowans, Branstad remember Girls Union chief Cooley

Cooley was recalled as a musician who once sat in with Harry James’ big band orchestra as it toured Iowa, an avid fan of Winston Churchill and an astute investor eager to put a hot stock tip to work.

“When Dr. Cooley came into a room, things happened,” said Craig Ihnen, executive director of the Iowa High School Speech Association, in a eulogy.

The service was attended by former all-state six-on-six basketball players like Lisa Brinkmeyer and Jan Jensen, Drake coaches Jennie Baranczyk (basketball) and Natasha Kaiser (track) and Northern Iowa director of athletics Troy Dannen. Dozens of longtime coaches and officials paid their respects.

Branstad hails Cooley as a visionary

Gov. Terry Branstad called E. Wayne Cooley a visionary who helped elevate Iowa girls’ basketball to a national phenomenon – some thing that touched Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds directly as a forward for Interstate 35 High School during the heyday of six-on-six era.

During his weekly news conference Monday, Branstad paid tribute to Cooley as a pioneer of Iowa girls’ sports. Cooley, who died last Saturday at the age of 90, ran the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union — the nation’s only statewide athletic association dedicated to girls — from 1954 until his retirement in 2002.

“E. Wayne Cooley was a visionary leader for girls’ athletics,” said Branstad. “He made it phenomenally successful.

“He was a great marketer and promoter,” the governor added. “He’s going to be greatly missed. He has a really wonderful legacy that he leaves in terms of girls’ athletics.”

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“I am reviewing… the situation.”

Which means Liz says, “I’m baaaaaack!”

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to write a “where are they now, how are they doing and what do they think about it” about the seismic shifts that happened in 2007, I don’t know what will: Texas Tech WBB coach Kristy Curry heads to Alabama, AD Kirby Hocutt will make fourth major coaching decision in calendar year

Considering Alabama women’s basketball has been less than an afterthought for years, I don’t know if this is a move of future hope or future crash and burn.

Oh, and Jim Foster landed in a spot that loves women’s basketball.

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from the NY Times: 

Only 21 states have laws barring employers from refusing to hire people or firing them because of their sexual orientation, and only 16 of those have inclusive workplace nondiscrimination laws that cover bisexual and transgender people as well as gays and lesbians.

Mr. Collins’s announcement coincided with the reintroduction in the House and Senate of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, an overdue measure to outlaw employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It has been stalled in Congress for years. But the idea that job applicants and employees should be judged on their professional credentials and the caliber of their work, and not be penalized because of who they are, is a basic fairness principle, and one that polls indicate most Americans support.

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Griner Is Part of Mission to Help All Live in Truth

When the N.B.A. center Jason Collins announced he was gay last week, I was thrilled. Not only was I extremely happy for him, I thought that maybe, just maybe, his courage and the wave of positive reaction meant that we were on the verge of an era when people accept and celebrate one another’s differences. I think that’s what makes life beautiful: everyone is different and we can all learn from one another.

Lordy, I hope women’s basketball coaches learn from Griner and Collins.

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Cool weather and contrary winds means the current bird migration is, as a fellow birder put it, a nonslaught.

So, while I spent this morning not seeing birds, other folks are making basketball news.

Phoenix want BG to be very, very careful: Brittney Griner’s WNBA contract has a skateboarding clause in it

From Jim Massie, Ohio State’s Stokes psyched at shot with WNBA’s Silver Stars

In Tulsa, Skylar Diggins joins Tulsa as No. 3 pick, creates speedy backcourt with Candice Wiggins

Bill promises the Liberty will be fun to watch in 2013

Jayda identifies Where former local high school stars are aiming to make pro rosters

In a little Hall of Fame Minnesota high school news, A most respectful, and maddening, rivalry

Area girls basketball coaches Randy Strand and Gregg Slaathaug have been driving each other crazy for 12 years. Fans have benefited. Their antics during games are, in some cases, as entertaining as the action on the floor.

Ellyn Bartges gets a little more press on her efforts: Oral history project chronicles birth of girls basketball in Illinois

Springfield’s Alma Uphoff Liebman used a mocking tone to describe early girls basketball regulations in Illinois.

In the years before Title IX and before the Illinois High School Association allowed girls to compete on school teams, girls intramural basketball teams were often forced to play an odd style of the game. Instead of the familiar five-on-five full-court game, each girls team used six players at a time. Three from each team were stationed on one half of the court, and three were stationed on the other half “because it was too hard on us to play full court,” said Liebman, her voice full of sarcasm.

“Half court basketball’s not basketball,” said one of the Springfield area’s first girls basketball coaches.

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Veteran girls basketball coach Charles Knott shot to death

As a native Detroiter, Charles Knott was proud and compassionate about his city and its people.

And, he dedicated his life to the betterment of the young people of Detroit he came in contact with each day, especially as a basketball coach.

But late Tuesday night, the city Knott loved so much fought back.

More: Cody High, fellow coaches shocked at death of basketball coach Charles Knott

We don’t know any details about the situation,” Cody principal Johnathon Matthews said. “Right now we’re just trying to get the students situated. We have grief counselors for the students and staff, and we’re just working with the community and the family. Our students are going through a lot, and our parents have asked us to keep as much of the press away as possible. I can make a simple statement in this respect: He has been within the Cody community for over 20 years. He has impacted several people in this community. He’s not only been involved inside the community at the school level, but also in terms of mentoring in the community and programs in the community.”

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So, to distract us, Mechelle offers this: Douglas fights way back to Fever

You might wonder whether Katie Douglas perhaps had just a brief moment of regret after Indiana won the WNBA championship last season. After all her years of durability through high school, college and pro ball, how could she have suffered a debilitating ankle injury just before the WNBA Finals that the Fever won? What are the odds of that rotten luck and bad timing?

Then again … if you know much about Douglas, it won’t surprise you that, actually, not a single second of angst crossed her mind in that regard. 

“At no point was I sad at all; I was really at peace that I was finally part of a WNBA championship team,” Douglas said Wednesday, looking ahead to the start of the Fever’s 2013 season May 24. “I helped get them there, and my teammates finished it off. They were great.

Get 24 Seconds with Brittney Griner (BTW she helped tv #s on Draft Day)

Need some preseason previews? Here’s what Full Court has:

D.C: With Thibault, the Mystics have nowhere to go but up

‘sota: The Lynx lose Mama Taj but still will be tough to beat

Texas:Despite setbacks, San Antonio concedes nothing

From News on 6: Shock Poised To Bring Excitement To Tulsa Thanks To Offseason Additions

Summertime in Tulsa normally can’t be considered one of the more exciting times of the year, particularly on the sports front.

The heat is oppressive, the mosquitoes are biting and everyone is anxiously awaiting the arrival of fall and football season. However, this summer—and more in the future—an unlikely source could give Tulsans a reason to be excited, a source that has previously been a point of ridicule and even embarrassment.

Yes, the Tulsa Shock could actually be something worth seeing this summer in Tulsa, thanks to progressive improvement over the past two years and the addition of new point guard Skylar Diggins.

In the land of the Vols, a continuation (Pat Summitt still head coach emeritus) and an explanation (Vols cite job performance for firing)

This is cool: Mark Emmert calls for inclusiveness

NCAA president Mark Emmert opened Tuesday’s second Inclusion Forum by urging campus leaders to make school policies more welcoming for women, minorities, disabled athletes and those with different sexual orientations.

While he didn’t cite Collins specifically during his speech or in the subsequent question-and-answer session, Emmert expressed his support for the first openly gay active player in a major American pro sports league. He acknowledged that Collins’ disclosure that he’s gay could have a ripple effect on how college athletic departments treat other players and coaches.

What did he have to say after Griner’s “revelation”? And what is he going to do about universities who have institutionalized homophobia?

Mechelle reflects on the changing roles/responsibilities of journalists: Who should ask? Who should tell?

This wasn’t discussed when I was in journalism school in the 1980s, or even brought up much by editors throughout my career. Nonetheless, there seemed to be an unspoken code: Sports writers not only shouldn’t “out” athletes or coaches but should essentially avoid questions about their personal lives if we thought they might be gay.

If they chose to bring up the topic, that was OK. Otherwise, we usually didn’t ask. And they rarely told.

I’m certainly not suggesting all media have adhered to this “code.” But I have. And many of the reporters I’ve known seem to, as well. Or at the very least, are typically hesitant to broach the topic of whether someone is gay, even in circumstances when writing about their relationship could be deemed journalistically relevant.

After Baylor’s Brittney Griner talked openly about being gay recently, I thought a lot about the so-called “don’t ask, don’t tell” mindset in sports writing. And I’ve pondered it more since NBA free agent Jason Collins’ announcement this week.

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Congrats to Jeff House, a good guy: Kentucky women hire WNBA assistant to replace Insell

Lady Swish has some other coaching stuff: Getting to know new George Mason coach Nyla Milleson and McGuire takes over at Radford

The Connecticut Sun open training camp Monday, so coach Anne Donovan has had a lot of time to think about what she will tell her team. In the end, though, she tries not to outthink herself.

“The night before camp, there likely will be a lot of thought [about what to say]. But my general feeling is, the best thing I can do is just be myself,” Donovan said. “It has worked for me with a bunch of other teams and a lot of different players. All I know how to do is be myself. That will be my message.”

Katie Douglas is testing her injured ankle in Russia before her 13th WNBA season

Need some more WATN? Here ya go! St. Bernard hires ex-UCLA star Michelle Greco

I’m not sure I get the point of this article from Henry Abbott: Jason Collins is not Brittney Griner as he tries to explain “why Jason Collins’ coming out made bigger waves than Brittney Griner’s.” He missed a big point… Just read some of the comments.

And, on a side note, how many tweets of support did Griner get from WBCA and WNBA coaches?

BTW, this from Jayda: National Gay & Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame Launched

From Mel: Guru Adds to Hall of Fame Collection: Summer League Countdown to Launch

Since the tease at the end of the previous post was written,and for those not connected on twitter @womhoopsguru, facebook or LinkedIn, the Guru was cleared to go public to say that on Oct. 19, though he was never enrolled at the university, he will become a honorary Catholic woman when he becomes part of the second induction class of the Immaculata Athletics Hall of Fame.

The letter cited support of the university and pioneering coverage of women’s basketball.

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