Feeds:
Posts

Archive for June, 2013

another Write Space and Time:

At the USOTC the air is rare. And it has nothing to do with the altitude. Just walking from the car to the gym every day is sobering because excellence assaults you at every turn. Pictures capture the extraordinary. Boldly printed quotes urge greatness. And each and every facility begs to be the whetstone for the elite athlete’s blade.

I think it’s really hard to settle here. The steady drum of discipline is deafening, making this a place where good enough never is. If you train here, exceptional is expected. Honestly, I half expect Michael Phelps to peek in and glare at us when we don’t get back on defense. The presence of the elite hovers over you as you work, and while that might seem heavy to some, I think the great ones love it. The air here stretches them at every turn.

There is much to be gained from lofty expectations.

From USA Basketball: Coach’s Daughter, Theresa Plaisance’s Newfound Confidence Pays Off

After Theresa Plaisance was informed she’d earned a spot on the 2013 USA Women’s World University Games Team last month, she returned for five weeks to a place that always provides her comfort.

“I got to go home and spend some good quality time with my family,” Plaisance said. “I miss them a lot. I got to go home for Father’s Day and spend time with my grandparents and dad and my whole family. It was really nice.”

From Carl Ademac at SNY: Mosqueda-Lewis at home on Team USA

“We’re not a big team so we have to use our speed and quickness and be a fast-breaking team,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “But we’re also a versatile team so we’re doing all the things that we need to do to get ready.

Read Full Post »

Val’s recommendations, (Work, dabnabbit!), but I appreciate some of the comments folks have sent in to me (womenshoopsblog @ gmail.com).

As I use my week away to rest, recover and SCUBA (wheeee!) I will take a gander, but I’m already biased. Or, maybe better stated, I’m already assuming that most of these recommendations are aimed at the top 25 teams, not the whole of women’s basketball.

Meanwhile, from Rick Nixon at the NCAA: Women’s Basketball Committee outlines next steps to enhance play

The NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee is moving quickly to enhance championship play, based on the recommendations from Val Ackerman’s white paper presented nationally just over a week ago.

The committee will immediately allow regional host institutions to play on their home courts, and will also establish a women’s basketball stakeholders’ summit at the 2014 Women’s Final Four. Longer range enhancements the committee will immediately pursue include a review of the competitive format for all rounds of the championship beginning in 2015, including:

  • Shifting of weekend playing dates for the Women’s Final Four from Sunday-Tuesday to Friday-Sunday, with preliminary round game days aligned accordingly

  • Possible first- and second-round byes for as many as the top-32 seeds, so that lower-seeded teams play each other in the earlier rounds

  • Combining the Women’s Final Four with the Division II and Division III Women’s Basketball Championships in Indianapolis in the Summer Olympics year of 2016;

Read Full Post »

From Louisa Thomas at Grantland: Candace Parker Knows What She Wants

Practice ended, and Candace Parker’s teammates left the floor. Parker held a ball. Sweat darkened the shoulders of her long gray shirt, roughly mapping the shape of her delts. She had a packed schedule that day: two interviews, a Twitter chat hosted by the Associated Press, a tour of her house for Time Warner Cable Sports’ Backstage: Sparks, lunch with her mother, a weightlifting session with her trainer, an appointment at the eye doctor, and her daughter’s gymnastics class, all before dinner. But no one, least of all herself, wanted her to hurry off the court.

One of the men who had scrimmaged with the Sparks that morning, Tevin Calhoun, who averaged 5.5 points a game last season as a junior at Troy University, jogged over to Parker. He had a young face, mismatched borrowed Nikes — he’d shown up without shoes — and an enviable vertical leap. He also had about three inches and 30 pounds on Parker, who is 6-foot-4, and his soft box cut gave him an inch or two more. She had big hands, though, and endless arms.

Parker turned toward Calhoun, smoothly moving her dribble behind her back. “You wanna, like, play a little bit?” she asked.

From the Windy City Times: Lesbian Chicago Sky player set to attend her first Pride Parade

Although Sharnee Zoll-Norman has mentioned her wife in past interviews, specifically about her absence from the WNBA following the 2008 season until she joined the Chicago Sky this year, it has not been publicized. “It’s never been printed,” she said. And she intentionally never had a formal coming-out.

“I never felt whether I’m gay, straight, bi, [or] whatever that my sexuality had anything to do with me as a basketball player, and I don’t think it necessarily has anything to do with me as a person,” she said. “If I was straight, I wouldn’t have to come out and say that I was straight. So I’ve never had an official coming-out, or something where I felt I had to announce that I was gay. But everyone knows. I wear my wedding ring proudly; I have matching tattoos with my wife, and also have her name tattooed on me. We go a lot of places [together] and I surely don’t hide it [that she’s my wife.]”

In this exclusive coming-out interview with Ross Forman, Zoll-Norman of the Chicago Sky tells of life as a lesbian, including her first appearance in a Pride Parade, when she rides on a bus in the annual Chicago Pride Parade on Sunday alongside her wife, Serita Norman.

(Looking forward to reading about the 300+ NCAA Division 1 Basketball Coaches marching is solidarity. And the Division II Coaches. And DIII. And NAIA. And WNBA…)

Speaking of coaches: someone’s cranky: Minnesota Lynx coach unhappy with her ‘big three’ star players

“My big three? If I’m using the last two seasons as a measuring stick, I don’t think they’ve come close to what they’ve been for us the last two years,” Reeve said.

About one of that trio: Dishin & Swishin 6/27/13 Podcast: Seimone Augustus embraces her role in Minnesota on and off the court

Off the court, Augustus has publicly embraced her position as a role model in the lesbian and gay community, talking openly about wanting to get married in Minnesota to her fiancée, and passionately discussing her happiness when Minnesota approved same-sex marriage.

On today’s podcast, Augustus talks about the 2013 Lynx, including candid comments about the lessons learned from their two road losses, at Minnesota and a disappointing performance in Los Angeles last weekend.

A story posted in the future notes: More ouches for Katie Douglas

Indiana Fever guard Katie Douglas will miss several more weeks of action due to a bulging disc in her lower back. Initially diagnosed after missing Indiana’s game at New York on June 5, she missed subsequent games against Phoenix, Connecticut and Washington. Additional testing this week revealed the need for continued therapy and rest.

Speaking of ouches, what are the current odds on Penny getting back on the court this season? Michelle says Penny Taylor sees silver lining

But Taylor knows, as difficult as it has been to be turned into an unwilling observer of a game she loves to play, that there was at least one silver lining.

She went home to Melbourne, Australia, for her rehab, allowing her to spend time with family, specifically her mother, Denna Noble, who was battling cancer. 

“In a way, this worked out that I was home for a really important phase in my life,” Taylor said. “Because if I was playing, there is no way I would have been there for this time. I would have been overseas, and that would have been really difficult.”

About the W’s Generation Next: From Nate: Alex Bentley off to a surprising start as Skylar Diggins and Brittney Griner start to find their rhythm

We’ll take stock of the top ten first (which is essentially the eight at or above average players and two others), but I think it’s fair to say that the Rookie of the Year race is already down to a predictable two players barring a dramatic improvement for a predictable third player.

From the WaPo: Can Brittney Griner pull the WNBA out of its doldrums?

After taking the women’s college basketball world by storm over the course of four dominant years at Baylor, Brittney Griner has tried to embrace her status as the new face of the WNBA, a league beginning its 17th season on the heels of a 2012 campaign that saw attendance hit record lows. She just never expected it to be such a grind.

Not only must Griner suit up for the Phoenix Mercury, but she also is carrying the league mantle off the court, with interviews and promotional appearances across the country. No matter the venue, she is supposed to deliver.

So far: Griner’s popularity reels in fans

Inside the arena, workers have the power tools out as players begin pregame warm-ups, installing another row of courtside seats to meet ticket demand. Meanwhile, Griner is taking pictures with more than half a dozen groups that bought blocks of tickets for the season opener against the Chicago Sky.

Let’s just call it the “Griner Effect.”

“She smiled, she talked to people, and it was a lot, much more than we usually ask the players to do,” Mercury public relations director Rebecca Clark said. “And she was happy to do it. There are times I feel bad asking her to do one more thing, and she just rolls with it.

Her ROY competition made sure her team rolled: Delle Donne, Fowles lead Sky past Liberty

It has been only nine games, but Elena Delle Donne and Sylvia Fowles are turning into a formidable offensive tandem.

Delle Donne scored a season-high 26 points — her ninth straight double-digit performance — as the Sky rallied from an early deficit on the way to an 87-74 victory over the visiting New York Liberty on Wednesday.

About that game, from L’Alien:

It wasn’t a coincidence that Pondexter and Mitchell were grabbing a quick breather when the Sky pulled out that lead – the Liberty desperately lack direction with those two off the floor – but a lot of New York’s problems this season can also be tracked back toPondexter. It feels like she’s jacking up far too many long jumpers, curling off screens and just firing away, and the numbers back that up. She’s always taken plenty of long two-point shots – the least efficient shot in basketball – even when she was a legitimate MVP candidate back in 2010. That’s acceptable when you can hit them at a half-decent rate. But so far this season she’s taken the barrage of long-twos to another level. Before this game against Chicago, she was 11-46 from 16-to-21 feet (in seven games). That puts her on pace to take 223 shots from that distance over the entire regular season. She took 152, 125 and 124 shots from the near-equivalent range over the last three seasons respectively (it’s not an exact parallel because the three-point line’s moved out this year, so it was 16-to-20 feet in the past). Her attempts near the rim are actually pretty similar to past years, but some of her mid-range twos have moved back, and some of her three-point attempts have stepped inside the arc. It’s not working. She’s shooting a poor percentage, and her turnovers are through the roof as well. It’s hard to tell how much of it is Cappie settling for the wrong kind of shots, and how much is Laimbeer’s offense setting her up to take too many in the wrong areas. It’s probably a little of both. But it’s something that needs fixing if the Liberty are going to win a decent number of games this year.

It’s an interesting observation, because I have heard Bill say the words (similar to) “Our offense is better when she’s working within it, not just jacking up shots. It may be that injuries are pushing Pondexter back to her old “me rescue you even if it kills us” mentality, or it may be there’s a battle going on between the two personalities. Keep an eye on this, y’all….

Gabe Salgado has A Locker Room Exclusive: My One-On-One Interview With Elena Delle Donne

In the case of Elena Delle Donne, she gives new hope to the third-largest franchise in the WNBA. Attendance at the Allstate Arena has increased, the fan base has grown and Delle Donne has given sports fans something to talk about.

Making things even better, the Sky are on pace to have their best season in team history. Currently they are 5-3 and in second place in the WNBA’s Eastern Conference, just two games behind Atlanta.

From Andrew Hartsock: Ex-KU star Angel Goodrich finding way in WNBA

It didn’t take Angel Goodrich long to learn the WNBA was a bit more rough-and-tumble than the brand of ball she played at Kansas University.

Just a few weeks into her pro career, Goodrich already has sat out one game nursing a sore knee, then most of a week — of practice, but no games — after suffering a concussion.

“It’s a lot faster, and the physicality … it’s a lot more aggressive,” Goodrich said, comparing the pro to amateur game. “Everything’s bigger and faster and stronger. But these are the top players in the country, and it’s great to be one of them, great to be a part of it.”

That was no sure thing.

An unheralded member of the WNBA team: Adelanto resident now the voice of WNBA’s Sparks

“I’ve been trained to commute,” said Bush, who has announced basketball games at Duarte High School and Pasadena City College for the last 15 years. “I’ve done about 50 or 60 games a year. Commuting isn’t an issue for your dream job.”

Bush said that announcing at Staples Center for the Sparks, not the Lakers, is in fact his dream job. He admitted that the WNBA might not be the premiere basketball league, but as a fan of the game and a longtime follower of women’s basketball, there’s nowhere he would rather be.

Speaking of the Sparks: WNBA star Lisa Leslie surprises campers, speaks about being better role models

From the College ranks:

*cue music* Under Pressure: Sydney Moss gets her release

A different kind of pressure: Former player says ousted OU women’s basketball coach pressured her over religion

A former Oakland University women’s basketball player who played for recently fired coach Beckie Francis has come forward to say she was the victim of religious intimidation and emotional abuse by Francis.

The former player, who grew up in a mixed-faith home, has practiced Islam her entire life, and she says Francis attempted to convert her to Christianity and obsessed over the player’s weight while she was playing at Oakland University.

The University Star has a Q&A With Zenarae Antoine, Women’s Basketball Coach

SR: Is good coaching when you have players buy into your personal system or base your system off their strengths?

ZA: That is a very good question. To me good coaching comes from a number of different things, it is the X’s and O’s, which is a big part of it. In addition to that, I think that you need to have the ability to relate to the current student athlete and enhance their skill sets. There’s a lot of different ways for coaches to figure out how to win. It’s the coach’s ability to be great a communicator. For things to move forward, coaches need to be able to recruit to a system that they like and they run and that works well for them. You look at some great BCS (Bowl Championship Series) schools and they just sign great players regardless of the system, those kids just make plays, and they’re freer in their system. My personal philosophy is that I like to recruit players to a system, but it’s important that I understand their limitations as well as their ability to blend together as a person, not just a basketball player.  

Nine for IX: ESPN Films’ screening of ‘Pat XO’

The roped-off area for the media and the orange carpet were clear signs that the midweek screening at a local theater wasn’t showing standard moviegoer fare. The film “Pat XO” debuted in an exclusive showing a short distance from where Pat Summitt cemented her career at the University of Tennessee.

The movie will debut across the country on July 9 at 8 p.m. Eastern on ESPN as part of the Nine for IX series – movies directed by women that focus on women’s athletics.

From M Robinson: FGCU coach Karl Smesko on the “Ackerman White Paper”, Part I: Rule changes

Read Full Post »

the maximum: 25 years.

You took away something that wasn’t yours to take,” the mother, Tephanie Holston, said to the man convicted of killing her daughter. “You robbed the world. You robbed the family. And you didn’t have the right to do that.”

Read Full Post »

As the No Longer Big East Commissioner.

A little flashback from Jayda: WNBA Talk: Ron Rothstein

Times reporter Jayda Evans will have a weekly conversation with a newsmaker in the WNBA. This week it is Miami Heat assistant coach Ron Rothstein, who won his second NBA championship in 2013. He was the inaugural coach of the WNBA Miami Sol until the WNBA team disbanded in 2002. He had a 48-48 record from 2000-02.

Read Full Post »

WNBA season so far?

I think we kinda knew that the aging Fever would struggle. And injuries certainly have not helped a bit. But losing six in a row?

Yes, I did identify that Ms. Prince was a tad important to Chicago (her first game back notwithstanding.) . She couldn’t help the Russians, though. Not sure the rumors of the team doing a happy dance in reaction is accurate.

Wait. They DIDN’T go in to overtime… and the DID win? At HOME? TWICE! What is going on in Tulsa!?!

On the flip side, New York stumbled into overtime and then bumbled into a loss against the Silver Stars and Dan’s really impressive tie. (Shout out to the Liberty staff who wore Pride Ties.)

Both Tina and Angel shot poorly, but a (still) depleted Sun lost to what may be a one-man band Dream team. (Did the WHB Curse strike Henry?)

Yah, they’ve won since, but what was up with the Missing Lynx against Los Angeles?

And obviously, you do not want to play the Sparks at home (5-0).

Tina going of for 30 and 21 has nothing to do with hearing Katie’s footsteps, I’m sure.

Pssst. Did you know Katie was retiring?

So, where are we? Atlanta/Chicago v. LA/Minn. (Oh, and Corey’s butt may not be so toasty — but I still am unclear if he knows what to do with a real center.)

Nice news for Brian: Storm coach Brian Agler to be inducted into Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame

From Mel: Some Guru’s Musings on Val Ackerman’s NCAA White Paper

Dan Fleser checks in, too: New report assesses the state of women’s college basketball

What I say: Any change that encourages a faster pace and more scoring is worthwhile. Adopting a 10-second backcourt rule is long overdue. A 24-second shot clock might be too fast. I’d be willing to try, provided it’s combined with a wider foul lane and more stringent officiating of perimeter play. Hands off the guards. They’re the engine that will drive any scoring upgrade.

The scholarship reduction is as overdue as the 10-second rule. Too many schools don’t use their full allotment. Those that don’t use 13 should be penalized by losing another scholarship. These grants-in-aid are the hard-earned treasure of Title IX. They’re a terrible thing to waste.

As does John Altavilla: Ackerman Report Takes Hard Look At NCAA Women’s Basketball

Speaking of college, some low points:

From the AP: Oakland head coach fired due to misconduct that led to internal review

From Swish Appeal: Commentary: Amanda Butler has dropped the “ball” when it comes to Sydney Moss transfer request

After reading about the recent debacle that has become the Sydney Moss transfer situation, it’s obvious that this has become increasingly unfair for the person being hurt the most: the student-athlete who just wants to transfer to move closer to home. 

To refresh you on what’s been transpiring, The Alligator’s Phil Heilman — who by the way has done a superb job covering this ever-evolving state of affairs — reported earlier this week that Moss plans to leave Florida.

The story should have remained relatively uneventful at this point, but unfortunately it isn’t. What happened next was truly flabbergasting for those that follow player transfers closely.

Speaking transfers, the exodus of Baylor assistants has not gone unnoticed. They did snag a good one as a replacement: Prairie View’s Toyelle Wilson. (By paying her what Kim thought she deserved?)

Speaking of coaches: Thank you: Woodlan girls basketball coach stepping back

Burns-Cohrs ranks ninth all-time on the Northeast Indiana list for career girls basketball coaching wins with 219. She coached North Side for 13 seasons before moving to Woodlan in 2000.

“I don’t look at it as retirement,” Burns-Cohrs said. “I feel like God is leading me in another direction. I am stepping back and I’m ready to explore some other opportunities that are out there. I’ve coached basketball for more than half my life, and I think I still have plenty of gifts to give other people.”

And a different kind of “thank you:” Twinsburg girls basketball coach Julie Solis wants to leave on her terms: Tim Warsinskey’s Take

Julie Solis has every reason in the world to leave Twinsburg. Her husband, football coach Mark Solis, took a job near Columbus this month, and her powerful girls basketball team is back to square one.

The basketball talent that has walked through Twinsburg’s last two graduation ceremonies has been an exodus of near biblical proportions.

Few coaches in any sport can match the success Julie Solis has had in four years there: 104-6 record, two Division I state championships, three straight state finals and a 43-game winning streak that ended in this year’s state final.

Solis admits next season’s team could “easily win five games.”

So, why stick around for that?

Solis says she will return to coach and teach at Twinsburg for one more year.

Again, why?

Speaking of youngsters, consider the U16 results and realize why the women’s basketball might be the next target for elimination:

USA Women’s U16 National Team Cruises Past Costa Rica 106-19, Into FIBA Americas U16 Championship Semifinals

USA Basketball Women’s U16 National Team Downs Host Mexico 101-29 To Advance To Gold Medal Game

Gold Medal Game: USA U16 Women 82, Canada 48

So, the final was USA 289, the rest 96.

Ouch.

Read Full Post »

Ackerman’s white paper outlines recommendations to spark growth

Val Ackerman, the founding president of the WNBA and past president of USA Basketball, says a prevailing sentiment among stakeholders throughout intercollegiate women’s basketball is that the sport needs a jolt in order to spark growth.

While no one she spoke with thought the game was “broken,” the underlying theme throughout her many interviews was that women’s basketball has plateaued in recent years and that there is “a tremendous appetite for change” in the way the sport is played, marketed and managed.

More thoughts later, post digestion.

What do you think? Drop me your thoughts at womenshoopsblog@ gmail.com

Read Full Post »

Vets, rookies give Mystics new life

Snow, an 11-year veteran, and Hill, the No. 4 draft pick in April, represent the extremes in experience for the Mystics.

On one hand, you have the 6-foot-5 center who has seen it all in the pro game and been able to steadily keep a job. On the other hand, you have a 5-10 guard who’s learning more every day about what it takes to earn minutes in this league.

“When you’re young,” says Mystics point guard Ivory Latta, “you need that veteran who will get in your grill and say: ‘Hey, you are at the next level. Everybody is faster, quicker, they jump higher, they get in the passing lanes. You have to adjust.’

“Tayler — she’s going to be great. She just has to get into the rhythm of how the WNBA is played, and it takes some time.”

Where I’m going to be tonight: Liberty Host Eastern Conference Rival Connecticut Sun, by Ros Gold-Onwude

The Connecticut Sun (2-3) are hampered by injuries of their own. Streaky shooter and solid defender Renee Montgomery is out with an ankle injury. Shooter Tan White is out with a broken finger. Kara Lawson missed a game with a sore back but returned to play on Wednesday against the Indiana Fever. Due to all the injuries the Sun brought in veteran guard Iziane Castro Marquez who brings size and another scoring option to the wing. The Sun bounced back after a three game losing streak with a 73-61 win over the Indiana Fever on Wednesday June 12th. Reigning MVP Tina Charles carried the Sun with 30 points and 10 rebounds in an inspired effort. Lawson returned to the court to add 12 points but seemed limited, only shooting 5-14 and giving up 6 turnovers.

Speaking of New Jersey,  C Viv in the Nine for IX Short: ‘Coach’ Preview

Check out a preview clip from the Nine for IX digital short film “Coach,” the Best Documentary Short winner at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. “Coach” will debut on espnW.com on June 18, while the Nine for IX documentary series begins July 2 on ESPN.

Nate ponders the Three keys to the Atlanta Dream succeeding without Sancho Lyttle

Adding to the discussion of rosters and money, Clay says, In the WNBA, injuries change everything

So even though the Liberty knocked off Atlanta Sunday, starting 75-year-old Katie Smith every night is simply not the way to win consistently in this year’s very tough and competitive WNBA. As time goes on, the 12 teams are not only getting more talented, they are developing identity and pride, and a group like the San Antonio Silver Stars, hampered as they are by their own injuries, are going to play tough almost every night out. Even downtrodden and unlucky Tulsa is not guaranteed win, as the Shock have taken some of the league’s best into overtime.

This flew under my radar — and it’s interesting, because about five years ago, a NCAAW coach was talking to me about “concerns” at Nike. Nike LGBT Sports Summit underway in Portland

Folks are tweeting the event: #LGBTSportsSummit

The second annual Nike LGBT Sports Summit started this week at the same time the city gears up for the Portland Pride Festival.

The summit held in downtown Portland includes more than 100 leaders in LGBT sports community.  There are various initiatives, all centered around ending bias and discrimination of LGBT athletes and their fans.

Cyd Zeigler of OutSports.com is one of the founders of the summit, and credits Nike for hosting the event.

And Nike unveils line of sneakers celebrating gay pride – The colorful #BeTrue Free Run 5.0 shoes are available in the U.S. for $115, and profits will benefit the LGBT Sports Coalition.

In addition to the professional activists and media, the attendees include athletes, coaches or representatives affiliated with colleges and universities around the country, as well as the NCAA, USOC and USA Wrestling. And there’s an anticipated increase in the participation of active and former athletes and coaches. More than a dozen current college athletes (gay and straight) will be joined by another dozen coaches, including Portland State women’s basketball coach Sherri Murrell. Murrell is the lone out coach in Division I, and her perspective — on her responsibilities as a mentor to her athletes and as a responsible citizen to the wider community — might help move the national conversation beyond questioning an LGBT person’s fitness to coach, or beyond concerns over sexuality or gender identity, and back to simple ability.
Bill Laimbeer is standing in a piece of real estate that he used to own. Both his feet are firmly planted in the paint as he’s calmly instructs the players that Bill Laimbeer the GM has provided him how to feel for the balance and weight of a defender. Later he’ll show some of his guards how to properly curl off of an off-ball pick. Every now and then he’ll smile, too.In their 16-year existence, the New York Liberty, one of the WNBA’s original eight teams, have never won a title. There have been three finals appearances, but the last one was in 2002. Last year they finished the season 15-19. Laimbeer, on the other hand, is a three time WNBA champion—2003, ’06 and ’08—the second most in league history. It took him less than two full seasons to lead the Shock to their first WNBA title. The Liberty are hoping for an even faster clock this time around.

And some sad news that I saw, but couldn’t get to: Memorial service set for Melissa Erickson, former Washington player
Melissa Erickson, a former Washington basketball player, died Wednesday after a seven-year battle with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). She was 34.
A public memorial service has been set for June 21 at 5pm at Alaska Airlines Arena, or Hec Ed as Erickson and her teammates knew it when the Huskies advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight her senior season in 2001.

Read Full Post »

basketball “stuff,” but it is cool how basketball can distract you from “stuff.”

So, I did manage to catch my first live Lib game of the season last Sunday. Thoughts:

  • Shout out to Hasim, the Lib’s media person, for being so welcoming. (RU! RU!)
  • It’s REEEEALLY easy to get lost in the bowels of the Rock.
  • Yes, back in the day there WAS a lot of media at Lib games. Not so much now. But it still was heartening to see some familiar (stubborn) faces doing what they want to do – and love to do – in service of the game and players.
  • Speaking of someone who loves to do what she does: lovely chatting with coach Coyle. She knows next year will be a challenge, but is excited to be in the MAAC.
  • The best part of going to the game was seeing the “regulars” in the stands. And shouting “REEEEFFFFFFFF SCHOOOOOOOL!”
  • The game: The ESPN headline credits Cappie with the win over the Dream, but really it was Mini Mi and the Old Lady. Watching the 39-year-old Katie Smith dog Angel all game was a lesson in ferocity and stubbornness. Yes, Angel got her points, but on 4-16 shooting.
  • What about Mini Mi? Well, in the season preview, coach Bill stated he wanted “strong-minded women that want to be themselves, but want to play within the structure, and want to know where they stand every minute of every day.” Leilani Mitchell sure as heck knew where she stood at camp: “In front of everyone he said, ‘I don’t like small guards.'” Mitchell is generously listed as 5’5″. “It’s hard when your coach doesn’t have confidence in you.” Her response? Play with a sense of freedom and abandon. She made the team (to the surprise of some) and, while she only made one basket Sunday (a key 3), it was everything else she did that made an impression: 7 rebounds, 3 steals and +13. Which earned her praise from her not-short coach. And the fans.
  • Cappie looked outta sorts in the first half, her shots all coming up short, as if she had no legs. And then something clicked in the second half. After the game coach Laimbeer spoke about her leading by being part of the offense, “not just jacking up shots.” So I started wondering about her transition to working under a Laimbeer-esque coaching style and how that will impact her attitude and game-sense.
  • The rooks did good. Honestly, was there EVER a time when you could say, “The Lib have three rookies on the floor” and not have it because the game was outta reach? Favorite moment: Angel and Bone arm wrasslin’ each other for the ball. Bone does not let go, and Angel gets in to her face a bit, as if she believes a rookie should release control to an All-Star. Yap, yap, yap like my miniature Dachshund used to do at our bigger Kerry Blue. Bone just stood there, patiently, until her teammates stepped between the twosome.
  • Yes, it’s fun to watch the Dream get all emotional. But, while it’s tempting to draw a conclusion about their “chemistry,” don’t get fooled. It works for them. “That’s how they’ve always been,” said Smith post-game. The only thing “bad” I can see about Atlanta folks barking at each other or the refs is when they use their barking as an excuse not to get back on defense.

Speaking of Smith, the fabulous Jim Massie catches up: Former Buckeye Smith, 39, still climbing upward

Check in with L’Alien for more info on this past week’s games, like:  Charles dominates ice cold Fever

Check this week’s Top Plays. (Mark, you’d a very poor inspirational speaker…)

Other stuff:

Ah, yes, INJURIES!!! John Altavilla writes: Short WNBA Rosters Are A Problem For Sun, Other Teams. On a related note, Pilight wonders: Is there enough talent for WNBA expansion? The Rebkellians discuss.

Kwai Chan at the Meniscus: WNBA 2013: One year, big difference for the Washington Mystics

There is no jumping or shouting in the Verizon Center…yet.  But what a difference a year makes for the Washington Mystics, who defeated the Minnesota Lynx, 85-80.

Mike Thibault, who has the most wins of any active coach with 209-135 (.608) record in the last 10 years, is the new head coach of the Mystics.  Eight of the 12 players on the 2012 roster are gone, and have been replaced by four rookies and three veterans.  With these changes, one would think that just getting a team on the floor would be an accomplishment in itself.

Not so much fun being in Indiana these days: Fever not feeling, looking like champions – Defending WNBA titlists are off to 1-4 start, worst 5-game start since 2001

Michelle says: Griner’s popularity reels in fans

It’s more than two hours before tipoff at U.S. Airways Center on Memorial Day, and a Phoenix Mercury staff member is erecting a banner of Brittney Griner that shows the exact physical dimensions of her height and wingspan and the size of her hands and feet.

Immediately after he is done, a group of kids rush over and put their hands and feet up against the banner to compare.

The big girl is a big deal here.

From Media Planet:  WOMEN IN SPORTS: NO LONGER ON THE SIDELINES: Title IX opened the gates for female athletes—a halo effect empowered women to own, manage and work in the once male-dominated industry.

Case in point: Laura Gentile, espnW vice president, launched the digital initiative as a voice for women who love sports. “One of the best parts of starting this business was connecting women in sports to discuss issues and work together. Women have made a lot of strides,” she adds, ticking off names including WNBA’s president Laurel Richie and USA Today’s Christine Brennan. 

No Sancho? Williams is going to change things up a bit.

Prince leaves Chicago. Again.

No Ice, Ice Baby Tonight: From Odeen Domingo:#WNBA suspends @phoenixmercury Candice Dupree 1 game for making contact w/ game official Sat. Will not play tonight vs @LA_Sparks cc: @WNBA

All Star Voting Time! Who do YOU think deserves a $5000 bonus?

So what did you think of the Complaint Cam… I mean Borg Cam … I mean I Need my Dramamine Cam… I mean Ref Cam? WNBA debuts live high-definition ‘Ref Cam’. A ref speaks. And this: WNBA successfully debuts ref cam in Indy.

Nate keeps his promise: 2013 WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year watch list: Weighing scoring & value added in the post-Bonner era

After a three year run of Sixth Woman dominance (it’s difficult to argue that anyone was snubbed in the three years she won the award), Connecticut Sun guard Renee Montgomery won the award last season in familiar fashion in the world of basketball awards: she had among the highest scoring averages of any reserve in the league on a team that won its conference.

However in a year in which Bonner is starting (for now?) and Montgomery will miss significant time due to injury (WNBA voters tend not to give awards to players who missed significant time, which is fair in 34-game season), there is a chance the award will go to someone who isn’t quite a dynamic scorer.

In college news:

Swish has Gary Blair, Jim Foster reflecting on their careers at induction ceremony and some Hall of Fame interviews: Peggie Gillom-Granderson, Jennifer Rizzotti, Annette Smith-Knight and Sue Wicks:

Who had the greatest influence on Wicks?

“When I was a professional in Europe, players I would see, the way they held themselves, the pride that they had, the way that they played in total obscurity most of the time, I modeled myself after them. Along the way I would find someone who had a quality I really admired and I would try and emulate them.”

Coming back from an ouch: CU Buffs’ Rachel Hargis healing after MCL tear

Bye: Beckie Francis out as Oakland women’s basketball coach and Mines, women’s basketball coach Felderman part ways

Ooops: NCAA bans UNO men’s and women’s basketball from 2013-14 postseason

Yikes: Memphis Tigers women’s basketball team loses four players – Starter Abdul-Qaadir off to Indiana State as grad transfer

Wow! Congrats! Meia Daniels named new HPU women’s basketball coach

“We are pleased to be able to promote Meia Daniels to our head coaching position as well as our Senior Woman Administrator (SWA),” said Howard Payne Director of Athletics Mike Jones. “She has been mentored by two outstanding coaches in Chris Kielsmeier and Josh Prock and was a great collegiate player. She knows how to win and how hard you have to work to be successful at this level. These experiences will serve her well as she enters this new phase of her career.”

As a player, Daniels was 109-12 over four seasons leading the Lady Jackets to three American Southwest Conference championships, four NCAA III national tournament appearances and a NCAA III National Championship in 2008. A 2008 graduate of Howard Payne, Daniels holds numerous HPU and ASC records and is second in career scoring at Howard Payne with 2,118 points.

Some of you may remember Howard Payne’s run to perfection in 2008 because of the WHB or from this piece.

From Storming the Floor:

“After the incredible, unprecedented run through the 2013 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament that Shoni and Jude Schimmel, Umatilla, led the Louisville Cardinals on, ICTMN reached out to some of the most amazing and historically important Native hoops players to get their thoughts on the state of Native basketball, how to succeed in life and where they’re headed next—including from the Sisters themselves. “Let’s give them something to talk about!,” we promised. And so we kicked off a Conversations With Champions series, sitting down with eight basketball trailblazers, champions and builders for some one-on-ones. Here is a recap of the series, in case you missed any of the engaging discussions. These are men and women you need to know.”

Thank you: Iconic Elba coach Nowak retires and  Elba girls basketball coach Tom Nowak retires – Popular basketball coach compiled a 457-133 record

“It was really very rewarding to have gone through generations of family,” said Nowak. “To see the dads play football for me and then their daughters playing basketball — maybe both parents and children winning sectional titles.”

In the 2011-2012 season, Nowak coached his girls to their first state championship in the program’s history. Fittingly, the Lancers earned a perfect 25-0 season in their quest for the Class D title in Nowak’s 25th year as coach.

Read Full Post »

The Prince-less Sky fall to the undermanned SASS. (Perhaps Tony Parker inspired them?). ESPN’s headline highlight’s EDD, and for good reason: she battled the classically physical vet Delisha Milton-Jones and still managed a nice line: 17 Pts, 6 Reb, 1 Ast, 4 Blk

Snap judgment: Dan Hughes, COY.

The more undermanned Sun (add Lawson to the DNP list) were outscored in the final quarter by 11, and Mike T and his Mystics team left Connecticut with the win (and a standing ovation).

Snap judgment: All these injuries are making me feel like it’s September, not June. If folks get healthy, this really may be a tale of two season halves.

The soon-to-be more undermanned Liberty (fingers are crossed that Carson’s knee injury is a bad sprain) went down to Georgia and got spanked by the Dream, 75-56.

Snap judgment: Yes, the Dream are 4-0, but look at who’ve they played (and are going to play). It’s not until July 9th that they’ll get a real test.

Wig and Dig are still shooting like figs, but Seattle was equally putrid from three-point land. End result, Tulsa gets their first win. (They gotta win at home, though!).

Snap judgment: Yes, if you’re the Storm, this season may mean you live and die by the three, but how does a team come out “flat?” Not okay.

Read Full Post »

More Live Access Griping…

The official Live Access REALLY REALLY sucks thread

Problems w/ Live Access for Sun Game?

It the Twitter-sphere:

Lauren Jackson ‏@laurenej1517s @wnba why is live access out? And for how long?

CappiePondexter Fans ‏@TeamCAPPA17m SERIOUSLY ABOUT TO DEMAND MY MONEY BACK!!!!!! @WNBA LIVE ACCESS IS A DISGRACE!!!!!!!!!!!
Richard Cohen ‏@RichardCohen129m Okay, looks like it’s happening to all of us. #LiveAccess mess continues. And this one’s supposed to be on a TV channel. #wnba @WNBA
Muffet McGraw ‏@MuffetMcGraw30m – Is anyone watching the Tulsa game? This Wnba live access is terrible
WNBA Jones ‏@WNBAJones31m@WNBA Live Access has been terrible and so far not worth the $14.99 this yr or even the $5.00 last yr. This wouldnt happen with the @NBA.
DaTruthTella ‏@DaTruthTella36m@WNBA The “Live Access” has been horrible tonight, well it’s bad almost every night but tonight has been disgusting.
 Lynette Baker ‏@Lynette7_Baker37m@wnba exactly it’s ridiculous!RT @Ayoo_itsBreezyB Sooo we pay more money but Live Access is all mess up?? Get it together
Mike Peden ‏@TheSportsBrain37mOh great…#LiveAccess froze and I can’t watch the #Storm play the #Shock. Wasn’t the price increase supposed to fix this? #wnba
Ilene Hauser ‏@wbbswoosh Protected account47m@WNBA Live Access not working, getting a rainbow picture.
Jayda Evans ‏@JaydaEvans1h.@bigmarys Considering #ESPN is a major backer of #WNBA, boggles my mind, too. Site is sweet but shouldn’t have kinks this early #LiveAccess
Jayda Evans ‏@JaydaEvans4hRT @WashMystics: RT @ConnecticutSun: If trying to watch game via liveaccess, we are aware there is an issue. We will keep you posted!” Sigh
@xjennersonx: @JaydaEvans exactly why didn’t pay $15. I knew it wouldn’t be worth it.” Come on! New app more than video. It’s Y3? Need time

Read Full Post »

More WBHOF stuff:

From Mechelle: Wicks reflects on satisfying career – Former Liberty, Rutgers star part of Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame’s 2013 class

For Wicks, the feeling was at its peak when she played in Madison Square Garden with teammates like Teresa Weatherspoon and Vickie Johnson, and against foes like Cynthia Cooper and Tina Thompson.

She knows they all felt it. In those early years of the WNBA, so much seemed groundbreaking and even breathtaking.

“I think you just experience it, and you don’t know how to really talk about it,” Wicks said. “But even now, if I see Spoon or Vickie — they know exactly what it is, and we don’t say anything. Or even Cynthia or Tina. There’s a great deal of love there, and respect, even between fierce competitors. Because it brought something out of each one of us.”

From KBTX: Blair to be Inducted into Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame

“I have had the great opportunity to interact with the other inductees having either coached or coached against them and it will be an honor to stand beside them as we are inducted this weekend,” Blair said. “When you begin your career you do not even think of the Hall of Fame, you dream of NCAA Tournament appearances, Final Fours or the ultimate dream of a National Championship. The Hall of Fame is never one of your goals, because nobody can make the Hall without great teammates or assistant coaches. The honor is mind-boggling because of who is already in the Hall of Fame and to think that some of my former players or assistants will hopefully be able to join me in Knoxville really makes me appreciate how fortunate I am to have had their support throughout my career.”

From Dan Fleser: Signature moment epitomized Jennifer Rizzotti’s play – Fame is another move for Rizzotti and Mike Anthony from the Hartford Courant adds: Rizzotti Touched By Warm Reception At Pre-Hall Of Fame Gala

“A number of years ago, we took our basketball team to Italy,” said Sullivan, who will escort Rizzotti to the stage for her induction. “I ran [every morning] by this building in Rome. I didn’t even notice it the first two days. The third day, I stopped. The statues, the window work, the details. Because Rome is so saturated with all these iconic things, I hadn’t even noticed the building. Sometimes I feel like that’s what life with Jen is like. She’s gotten so much done and accomplished so many things, that if you’re not constantly looking at it you’ll miss some things.

“When the things you’re really great at transcend basketball, then you know you’re going to be a hall of fame daughter, a hall of fame sister, a hall of fame mother, a hall of fame wife. That’s why, wherever she goes, she’s been able to do whatever she’s done. Although I run by that building a little too often, I assure you, I promise you, that I know how beautiful it is.”

Dan also notes, Peggy Gillom-Granderson surprised to be Women’s Hall inductee

Peggie Gillom-Granderson’s accomplishments speak volumes on her behalf.

Just as well, since she still struggles to grasp the sum of her women’s basketball career at Ole Miss. The 2,486 points and 1,271 rebounds she amassed added up to phone call last summer from long-time acquaintance Eddie Clinton, informing Gillom-Granderson that she will be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. She called him back the next day just to make sure it was true.

From the Times Free Press: UTC’s Foster ready for Women’s College Basketball Hall of Fame induction

“I’m sure it will hit me when I’m there,” Foster said. “But I’m not going to predetermine what my feelings are. I have to experience things. I’ve been asked about a lot of things, but I have to experience them.”

From the Daily Progress: Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame to honor Wayland Baptist Flying Queens

The Flying Queens are only the fourth “Trailblazer of the Game” to be recognized, joining the All-American Red Heads, Edmonton Grads and the Former Helms/Citizens Savings/Founders Bank. Each group has a display at the Hall of Fame.

The five teams, then known as the Hutcherson Flying Queens – carrying the name of their sponsor, Claude Hutcherson, a local fixed-base operator who flew the teams to their games in his fleet of Bonanza aircraft – also won four consecutive AAU championships during the streak. Texas Monthly magazine did a feature on the streak in March and a company in Denver is planning a documentary on the same subject.

From TexasSports.com: Smith-Knight to be inducted into Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2013: Texas’ all-time leading scorer becomes the fifth member of the Women’s Basketball family to earn Hall of Fame induction.

“In the most simple words, we built the Texas Women’s Basketball program on the back of Annette,” UT Women’s Athletics Director Chris Plonsky said. “We have probably never had a more humble, yet effusive, superstar. In her prime, Annette was great because of her sheer-natural talent. Her competitiveness and her zest for playing were unmatched. Every great player that came to play at Texas came because of Annette.”

Smith-Knight was a first-team All-American (1984) and a two-time Southwest Conference Player of the Year (1983, 1984) as a sophomore and junior who also won a gold medal for USA Basketball at the 1983 World University Games. She paced Conradt’s squad to a runner-up finish at the 1982 AIAW Championship in addition to a pair of NCAA “Elite Eight” showings (in 1983 and 1984).

Read Full Post »

the first time this has happened on the recruiting trail. But “should” it?

From Clay at Full Court: Ohio State and Kevin McGuff know what matters most

the formula for the success the Ohio State University wants is simple: Win with talent.

So when McGuff hired Kelsey Mitchell’s dad Mark as an assistant coach, he made it clear to all that’s he serious about earning his salary, and that he will push the boundaries to get talent to Ohio State.

Now, Mitchell’s dad is a long-time, and very successful, boys’ high school coach, and he helped out with his twin daughters’ AAU team over the past few years, but there’s no way he was the most qualified person to fill out the Buckeye staff – except for his contribution to the gene pool.

Read Full Post »

Clay up after he tries to say nice things about you:

So how much does the 0-2 start for Phoenix really mean? Is Corey Gaines really an idiot? Are the Mercury really worse than Seattle? Is Brittney Griner really overrated?

The answers, in order: Very little; no; no; and emphatically no.

Merc get royally stomped by the Lynx. On a Mission Much? Maya Managed Many Points in Minimum Minutes (23/22)

The Lynx scored 60 points in a half consisting of two 10-minute quarters. That’s three points a minute. Traditionally, that has been accomplished mostly by men with large Afros and a red, white and blue basketball.

The Lynx also tied a franchise record with 30 assists, on 36 baskets, and tied a franchise low with six turnovers. Traditionally, that kind of ratio isn’t accomplished at any level of the game.

M&M discuss “Who are the top five centers.

As Brittney Griner is quickly finding out, it’s not easy being a center in the WNBA.

 It’s rough down there in the paint — the size, the physical play, the jostling, the foul trouble.

The best women’s league in the world is home to the best centers in the world in 2013, a group that includes grizzled veterans, gold medalists and some of the most promising young talent one could imagine.

Even with Storm center Lauren Jackson out of the league for the season, taking a year off from Seattle to heal her hamstring, the best centers in the WNBA make for a star-studded list of talent and experience. These strong, powerful women score inside at will. They battle for the boards, block shots and stretch defenses.

In this game-changing season for the WNBA, espnW will rank the top players at each position. We start with the WNBA’s five best centers:

The Lib are thrillin’ fans with OT wins over shorthanded teams. Their coach? Not so much.

Who’s singing “I’m Baaack in the Saddle Again”? Erin Thorn. So’s the other CP3.

How much fun is coach Donovan having? Not much. Montgomery is out for three weeks (or more) and now White’s Broken Finger Adds To Sun Injury Problem. And, do you know what? It’s Almost Time For Thibault’s Connecticut Homecoming. Wheeeeeee!

Speaking of injuries: NOT good: Prince sprains ankle in first game for Russia. Timely that espnW’s re-visioned site discuss “Player’s Priorities.”

Nate offers up 2013 WNBA Most Improved Player watch list: 10 players with the opportunity to improve

The Most Improved Player award is fundamentally about the gap between expectations and outcomes, which brings an inherent element of unpredictability to the process of picking one.

Chances are that if a player showed signs of improvement in the previous year, they don’t have the strongest case for being the most improved player in the league as every year someone takes an unexpected leap.

However, when looking at the actual winners of the WNBA’s Most Improved Player award in the past they have actually been quite predictable:

Richard l’Alien offers up: Trading Tina Thompson

Last week saw one of the legends of the WNBA, the sole remaining player from 1997′s inaugural season, announce that this would be her final year. Tributes and glowing assessments of Tina Thompson’s career rightfully flooded in, but because I’m an unsentimental soul my first thought was “does this make it more or less likely that she’ll be traded?” On reflection, it seems like the retirement announcement probably doesn’t make much difference – there was always a strong chance that this was her last season anyway, so any move for her would’ve been primarily about what she could offer in 2013. But it does seem like an appropriate time to look at whether Seattle might find a new home for Tina before the trade deadline on August 15th.

Who’s singing “I’ll be watching you.” Refs. Or is it the fans. Or is it the refs?

WATN? Pat Coyle is back in the coaching ranks at St. Peter’s in the MAAC. Lucky Patty — she inherits a team that went 2-28 last season. And they’re called the Peahens.

Speaking of coaching, Alysha Clark will sample the profession at Middle Tennessee next season.

Mel’s talking Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Induction stuff, and a guest blogger gives us the view from Chicago: Maya’s WNBA Chicago Scene: Elena Delle Donne Quickly Brings Sunshine to the Windy City

Have fun Suuuuuuuueeeeeeeee! Sue Wicks grew her love for the game, will be inducted into Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame

From SlamOnline: ‘This Is Not Hoosiers’ – Filmmaker Robert T. Herrera reflects on the compelling documentary The Gray Seasons.

With the WNBA season underway, it’s only right that the ladies got next, and although the number of films chronicling women and basketball are few and far between, they do exist. The Gray Seasons follows Shimmy Gray-Miller, head coach of the St. Louis University Lady Billikens as she takes over the Division I program. Documenting the team for four years, the film showcases the losses, which sometimes occur more than the wins, the countless moments of Gray-Miller’s determination, and the courage, pain and resolve of her team.

Slam also offers up a little slice of women’s basketball history — and you know how we love that! The Forgotten – “Machine Gun” Molly Bolin is probably the best female guard you’ve never heard of. (Of course, if you’ve read Karra Porter’s Mad Seasons: The Story of the First Women’s Professional Basketball League, 1978-1981, you know all about Molly.)

More history: US Rep. Gabbard Pays Tribute to Title IX and Co-Author Patsy Mink

Read Full Post »

Snap judgment: Don’t sleep on the Dream’s youngsters, Henry, Thomas and Bentley.

Snap judgment: It’s never to early to remind folks of Connecticut’s past bad habits: Road loses.

Snap judgment: Candace may still be a top candidate for league MVP (27pts, 20 rebounds, 4 blocks, 4 assists), but I’m guessing she’d trade that in a heartbeat for consistent scoring from Toliver and consistent distribution from Harding.

Snap judgment: Still sticking with my prediction for a playoff-less season for New York.

Snap judgment: All who agree, say “Yea”: Lynx appear miscast as WNBA’s afterthought. And yes, to l’Alien Richard’s tweet: In full flow, Mone/Moore is just a ridiculous wing combo. Cooper/Swoopes is gold standard, but this is your closest modern challenge

Snap judgment, two: It’s never to early to remind folks of Connecticut’s past bad habits: Road losses.

Snap judgment: Yes, I’m putting my money on Chicago in the Finals.

Snap judgment: Yup, the WHB curse is in full swing – sorry Atlanta youngsters…

Snap judgment: Yup, Corey’s seat in the Land of the Bun has got to be getting mighty toasty.

Read Full Post »

but I’d rather there be some facts to back it up (and maybe some action steps?).

Sally Jenkins — who has, in the past, sent over some kind words to the blog (and may now want to retract them) — offers up her piece Women’s basketball needs to work to earn an audience and it’s full of finger pointing, but little substance.

1) Why is Jenkins perpetuating the myth that women’s basketball was “elegant” and suddenly has become physical. Which Lady Vols games was she watching? As Coach Summitt says, “Offense sells tickets, defense wins games, rebounding wins championships.” Oh, now, I’m not saying the game can’t get overly physical (btw, not a uniquely female issue), BUT let’s not pretend there was a “golden age” of non-physical women’s basketball — unless you REALLY want to go back to the “golden age” of no dribbling.

2) It’s “scandalous” that scoring has dropped by 8pts and shooting percentages have dropped? What’s scandalous is there’s no attempt to identify the WHY of that. Maybe women just can’t shoot. Maybe it’s AAU’s fault. Or High School coaches’ fault. Or maybe women are now coached to play both sides of the ball….you know, it’s called DEFENSE? (BTW, if you do some research, you’ll see there are similar issues on the men’s side.)

3) Oooo, this is an oldie but goodie: It’s the OFFICIALS’ fault! What is new is that Jenkins is upset they DON’T call enough fouls. Instead of the usual old saw — blaming the referees for turning the game into a “whistle fest embarrassment” — she blames the officials for not calling physical play enough.  (Hmmm.. who MAKES the rules that the officials have to enforce? And who coaches AROUND the rules the officials have to enforce?) Damned if you do and damned if you don’t, huh, Patty, Dee and Maj? (And if anyone thinks every other league is totally satisfied with their officiating, they obviously haven’t been paying attention.)

I’ve written extensively about NCAA officiating (and even offered some action steps) — speaking with the officials, coordinators, coaches and such — for Women’s Basketball Magazine and the WBCA’s Coaching Women’s Basketball. I’ve had long, thoughtful conversations with the folks at the center of the issues and, if I may say so, produced long, thoughtful and informative pieces about the profession and its challenges. But I don’t really think “non-officals” care.

My overall takeaway? It’s easier to point fingers than actually DO something. There was a push a while back on the NCAA side — led on the women’s side by the since departed Mary Struckhoff. But it’s really up to the Conferences (meaning athletic directors and coaches). But, they like their fiefdoms and don’t want anyone telling them how they should or shouldn’t spend their money. So, what’s the path of least resistance for fans, coaches, players and writers? Blame the officials — ’cause they’re not allowed to talk back.

4) New math alert: apparently the women’s game has “healthy ratings and rights fees” and plays in “sold out arenas of close to 20,000” and the only reason it’s not raking in the moola like the men’s tournament is “mismanagement.” I know it’s too much to ask for some facts to back those statements up like, you know: what were the ratings v. the men’s, what are the fees, how much does it cost to run the tournament, fly and house and feed the teams and such….

But “sold out arenas”? What tournament is she watching? ’cause this is what Trey wrote post-2013 FF: “When Connecticut and Louisville met for the women’s crown Tuesday night in the New Orleans Arena, there were 17,500 fans, short of capacity.” So, let’s say a total of 35,000 fans. In comparison, the attendance at the 2013 men’s final in Georgia was 74,326. Which comes to a total of  148,652.

As for the overall tournament, it’s kind of a challenge to find any page listing the total attendance numbers (wonder why), but: here’s the women’s Round 1&2 attendance. And here’s the NCAA’s spin: “Attendance at the men’s basketball tournament reached nearly 430,000 fans and the women’s tournament has seen a significant increase over last year.”

Which means: The per session average of 4,850 fans was also a 20 percent increase from last year’s per session attendance average during the first- and second-rounds.” Last year, the total attendance was (I think, if I’m reading this right) 203,788. The average attendance, 4852. It would appear the the “golden years” of women’s basketball attendance were 1999-2004. I’m guessing there was SOMEthing about those years that made them good for women’s basketball, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. (Yes, that was the sarcasm plane flying by.)

So, when Sally throws around the term “mismanagement,” what I want to know is: Who’s mismanaging what? And why? What has caused attendance to drop, not build? Is it the economy? Is the fan base aging? Disenchanted? Is it because the media world is shrinking and that has snuffed out coverage? Is it athletic directors and the choices the have to/want to make?

The NCAA offered grants to schools and conferences to support their efforts to build their audiences. Some took them up on the offers — many did not. And I’m going to lay even money that most programs couldn’t be bothered to look at the “best practices” those grants produced. WHY they wouldn’t learn from others is for you to ponder.

The NCAA has altered it’s bidding process for hosting tournament games, and still schools/conferences don’t want to host — guess why.

So, if Val is laying out the following “next steps”  (according to Jenkins – h/t FOWHB Joan)…

  • Upgrading officiating
  • Bring business mind-set to ticket sales and television
  • Exploring (“dramatic”) rule changes to make the game more exciting and faster-paced (no mention of what those are)
  • Explore putting the men’s and women’s FF in the same city at different arenas

…let’s talk turkey, and not fling mud. Let’s please start with some facts. And a whole heap of will. And money. The research is out there — but who is going to make the changes happen?

And just ’cause I can, let me offer my  “BAD IDEA” feedback to “same city, different arenas” so it can be tabled and energy can be spent on things we CAN control:

A) It will reduce the number of writers covering the game, because media outlets will cut costs. I’m sure ESPN will say, “Mechelle, you have to cover the men’s tournament as well.” And you know what happens when women’s writers are forced to cover the men’s game….

B) It’s not the same fan base. I, as a women’s fan, have no desire to tromp the same streets as a bunk of over-imbibed Louisville or Kentucky fans who can’t have an intelligent discussion about the similarities and differences between Chiney and Kaleena’s games.

C) Let’s limit the numbers of host cities, much? How many have 20,000+ arenas? And, am I remembering correctly that CBS covers the men’s tournament? So, does that mean they’ll have to fight with ESPN for the good broadcasting spots, or will they share equipment (hah)?

It’s interesting to review my earlier (flashback, 2008) suggestions:

Finally, there’s simply a lot of basic, un-sexy, ground level work to be done to promote the women’s game and grow it to the next level of fandom. Some first steps?

  • Energetic Coaches who understand building an audience is part of their job
  • Better Quality Sports Information Directors who pro-actively cultivate media coverage and find creative ways to get the word out about their sport
  • Athletic Programs that take advantage of the NCAA Marketing materials that are available. The NCAA has done a lot of the work for you — but it does you no good if you don’t use it. (And kudos to the NCAA for their marketing grant program)
  • As Geno notes, ask/beg/make ESPN do a better job of promoting the game. Yah, yah, they’ve expanded their coverage to the full tourney. And yah, they had those great Monday match ups — but promos, highlights, news items and ESPN Classics broadcasts are weak. And I’m not even going to discuss the quality of some of the play-by-play and color commentary people….
  • How about a stronger cross-promotion with the WNBA? Moving the draft to the Final Four weekend was a huge success. What are other (NCAA legal) ways to connect the two worlds/fan bases?

The “Three to Watch” campaign is exactly what I meant about cross-promotion. And the draft was broadcast! The other stuff — what do you think? Have we made any progress? (Gottlieb anyone?)

Finally, a followup on the courage of Griner and Augustus and Tully: If you don’t think homophobia – internalized and external – hinders the growth of our game, you’re a fool. Simply put – haters and homophobes are gonna hate. They think everyone involved with women’s basketball is gay – coaches, players, fans – so what’s the big dealio?

Stand up and say, “So the F*CK what! I will not tolerate hate speech. I will not tolerate bigots. I will be an ally. I will speak up. I will speak out. I will challenge my fan base, my administration, my team, myself to build a more inclusive world.”

Heck, even if that doesn’t grow the women’s basketball game, it’ll make the world a better place.

And isn’t that what we want?

Read Full Post »

Read Full Post »