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Archive for October, 2013

polls:

NCAA Division III: Cool to see Montclair State up in the top five.

NCAA Division II: Bentley and Barb Stevens = consistency.

NCAA Division I (Coaches): Not a lot of surprises, except maybe with that one vote….

As we wait:

From LSU: United States Marines help train team

From Wisconsin: New-look UWGB in same old No. 1 spot

It is the sixth straight season the Phoenix has been picked preseason favorite.

“I guess I didn’t expect that,” UWGB coach Kevin Borseth said. “We lost five seniors off the squad and four starters. … I don’t know.

From North Dakota: NDSU Women’s Basketball Preview

From Oklahoma: Guards Morgan Hook, Maddie Manning injured at intrasquad scrimmage

From Pennsylvania: Penn State women’s basketball: New faces shine in Lady Lions’ exhibition romp

From North Carolina: Duke women’s basketball opens season with Blue/White Scrimmage

From Full Court:

The sport is not going away any time soon, though at the same time it’s clear there are some fundamental issues that need to be thoughtfully considered. The powers that be in women’s basketball have taken the first step by recognizing that there are some problems, and commissioning the Ackerman Report. And last week the NCAA women’s basketball committee also approved taking some steps to solve them, though their compromises on the recommendations of the White Papers Summit are a bit of a mixed bag. Having top seeds host the first two rounds of the tournament, for example, is a virtual no-brainer that can only help improve attendance in the early rounds, while at the same time rewarding the best, rather than the richest, programs.

Get out your calendar and mark these downs: Women’s College Basketball On ESPN

Speaking of calendars: Women’s basketball committee suggests changes for tourney, moving Final Four to Friday-Sunday

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Check.  Do a little acting? Double check!

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Feds Creek Girls basketball team inspiring many as they redefine winning

For girls at Feds Creek Elementary being a part of their team means much more than winning ball games.

Coach Shannon Keene says, “They would all stand up for each other at the drop of a hat, especially for Aimee and Lacy.”

5th-grader, Lacy, and 8th-grader, Aimee, are not your typical ball players.

Coach Keene says, “Lacy loves basketball, she understands when I show her something, she pays excellent attention, and that is how we communicate.”

Lacy is deaf and Aimee has Down syndrome, something many say you would never know from the outside looking in.

Beth Taylor, has a daughter on the team and says, “These girls don’t see the disabilities these other two have, they are accepting. Too often in our society kids with disabilities are overlooked.”

Chris Hagy, also has a daughter on the team, “Aimee and Lacy are making a statement when they step foot on the court saying, ‘this is something I want to do like everyone else’ and they are doing it.”

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(and some of the coaches, too)

UConn Women’s Basketball Kicks Off BTS Tour of Champions

In Support of LGBTQ Inclusion

University of Connecticut women’s basketball went 35-4 during the 2012-2013 season, capturing its eighth NCAA Division I national championship title. As some of the most recognizable names and faces in the country, the Huskies understand the importance of using fame and notoriety to impact social change. UConn women’s basketball partners with Br{ache the Silence Campaign as the first team to kick off Tour of Champions, a national initiative to increase the visibility of positive role models by highlighting NCAA Division I women’s national champions who advocate for LGBTQ inclusion in women’s college sports.

UConn women’s basketball student-athletes, Bria Hartley, Stefanie Dolson, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Brianna Banks used their own creative vision to share the importance of being not only the best in the game, but champions of respect and inclusion on and off the court.

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From Jeff Metcalfe: Russ Pennell will not return as head coach of Phoenix Mercury

Russ Pennell will not return as the Mercury’s coach in 2014 after serving as interim coach for the final 18 games this season.

“I just wanted to stay in college basketball,” Pennell said Friday. “I had a great time with the Mercury. They treated me great from the top down. At the end of the day, my calling is in college basketball, and it was in the best interest for me and my family to pursue some other things.”

From Nate: The Atlanta Dream’s decision ‘to move in a different direction’ is both surprising and understandable

There’s reason to believe the Dream were sincere in their statement that they’re looking to simply change direction (and style of play?) after going 0-for-9 in their three WNBA Finals appearances over the last four years.

Williams, whose contract runs through Nov. 30, will move to a consultant position as the team transitions to a new head coach and general manager.

“Coach Williams has been an instrumental part of our success since the team’s inception, and although we have decided to move in a different direction, we appreciate Fred’s dedicated service and ensuring that the Dream remained among the top teams in the WNBA,” said Atlanta Dream co-owners Mary Brock and Kelly Loeffler. “He is a great teacher of the game, and is well respected by his peers.”

In this case, there’s plenty of reason to believe that changing direction is genuinely the right thing to do rather than a euphemistic condemnation of Williams’ job performance.

From the News-Sentinel: Former players defend Holy Cross women’s coach

More than 50 former players, managers and coaches have signed a letter that refers to Gibbons as a “father figure” and someone they consulted when facing critical life decisions.

“Above all, he was a leader who always taught us to do right and — more importantly — to be ‘men and women for others’ in the Jesuit tradition,” the letter reads.

From the Gaston Gazette: Hatchell has lots of support in cancer battle

Support for Hatchell within the Tar Heel family was clear on Thursday. When Hatchell’s was shown wearing UNC’s “Zero Dark Thursday“ marketing T-shirt while giving a pre-recorded message during a stoppage of play in the first quarter imploring Kenan Stadium fans to support the Tar Heels, fans drowned out Hatchell’s message with loud cheers.

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Very excited….

Just got my latest USA Sochi Winter Olympic team email, and look at the gloves they have for sale!!!

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From California: Burns files wrongful termination claim

“SDSU fired her,” the claim says, “in retaliation for her unwavering demands that SDSU put women’s basketball and men’s athletics on an equal footing … Coach Burns refused to remain silent in the face of the inequities she witnessed. She regularly complained regarding the department’s disparate treatment of the women’s basketball program.”

From Massachusetts: Holy Cross coach steps aside during abuse lawsuit

Holy Cross women’s basketball coach Bill Gibbons has voluntarily stepped aside from his coaching duties, one day after he was accused in a lawsuit of verbally and physically abusing his players at games and practices. The college said in a statement this afternoon he will be on administrative leave with pay and his assistant coaches will assume all coaching duties. 

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, a former student athlete alleged that Mr. Gibbons physically and verbally abused his players and the college perpetuated a culture of denial and feigned ignorance over his actions. 

 

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From the Tulsa World: Kloppenburg fired as Tulsa Shock coach

And from Michael Peters at the World: Moral to the Gary Kloppenburg story: Nice guys do finish last

It never dawned on me Kloppenburg wouldn’t get at least one more year as Tulsa’s coach until a Mike Brown story late this season.

Only when team ownership was quoted in our story as giving Kloppenburg the most lukewarm support possible did I realize the coach was in trouble.

The Shock made progress during Kloppenburg’s tenure in Tulsa.

On that issue, there also seems to be universal agreement.

Did he make enough? Obviously, the Shock’s management didn’t think so.

*Julie Plank. Paging Julie Plank.*

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Hatchell will tackle cancer head-on

There are people who, if you gave them a free pass from work for the rest of their lives, simply wouldn’t take it. Having expectations to face, goals to meet, production to accomplish — it’s just how they are wired.

North Carolina women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell is that kind of person. Let’s put it this way: Earlier this year, during the build-up to her 900th career victory, she was asked what she might do someday after basketball. And in true Hatchell form, she immediately spoke of the job she’d want after she retired: mowing the giant lawn at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C. (she figured it would be a relaxing chore).

That’s Hatchell: She’s thinking ahead to work after work. It’s the way she was raised in the textile-mill town of Gastonia, N.C., outside of Charlotte. It’s how she has operated for the past 40 years as a coach.

And, as everyone who knows her would tell you, it’s how she’ll deal with cancer. She’ll tackle it head-on, with a commitment to a game plan and her trademark relentless optimism.

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opening the box of College Basketball….

Yup, the WNBA GMs (and Rebecca) got it wrong.

As for the Dream, I don’t care what teammates and others say about Angel, it seems she needs a Jeff Walz intervention. Being emotional is one thing. Letting it get into your own head and game is another…28% shooting is the result.

From Tim: Minnesota Lynx return to WNBA throne with sweep through postseason

The Minnesota Lynx finally can exhale.

The WNBA championship trophy is back in their grasp.

The punctuation on a season of dominance wasn’t pretty, but the prize at the end of their journey certainly was.

Los Lynx welcomed at the airport.

While I’m waiting for folks to start saying “The Lynx are bad for women’s basketball,” Tim adds Minnesota Lynx see more WNBA titles on the horizon, and Mechelle writes Lynx were the favorite all along – Minnesota wins second title in three years — now what’s next?

A few days before the WNBA Finals got underway, I managed to stir up a hornets’ nest.

Uh, no, not with anything I wrote. I mean literally stir up a hornets’ nest. Doing yard work on a day off from playoff games, I inadvertently disturbed some bees. Suddenly, buzzing creatures were coming at me from all directions.

I made a frantic run inside, and actually was happy to have escaped with just four stings. So having watched the Minnesota Lynx just win the WNBA title in a 3-0 sweep over the Atlanta Dream, I kind of have of an idea how the Dream feel.

Jon at the AP writes,The next dynasty? Minnesota Lynx bask in celebration of 2nd WNBA title in 3 seasons

Behind a curtain in the bowels of Target Center, the Minnesota Lynx gathered as a team for one last time this season. A few thousand jubilant fans waited in the arena, watching a video introduction for the team that had just captured its second WNBA championship in three seasons.

On the big screen, fans read words like “Dynasty” and “Greatest Team In History.”

“No pressure, guys!” finals MVP Maya Moore said to the group.

Kent continues the theme: Lynx among WNBA’s best already, and still on the upswing

At first, Shelley Patterson wanted no part of the comparison.

Patterson is an assistant coach for the Lynx, who just finished a dominant 7-0 run through the WNBA playoffs. Appearing in their third consecutive championship series, the Lynx swept Atlanta to win their second title.

Patterson was director of basketball operations for the Houston Comets in 1999, the year that team won the third of four league titles in a row. She saw the trio of Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes and Tina Thompson dominate. When the subject of WNBA greatness comes up, the early Comets teams are where the discussion begins.

In the “Duh” file: Minnesota Lynx’s Janel McCarville: ‘I would love to be back’ and McCarville fits right in with Lynx – Center teams with former college teammate Whalen to win championship

In March, the Lynx made a three-way trade with Tulsa and New York to get McCarville from the Liberty — she hadn’t played in the WNBA the past two years — and Minnesota really did have exactly what Whalen was hoping for. The whole package.

“The chemistry with the team, how good of an off-the-ball partner Maya is,” Whalen said. “How good of a shooter Seimone is. Brunson rebounding, myself driving. I just felt like [McCarville] would really fit the team well. Having this be her first championship with us is just really special.”

More on Moore: Moore adds another title to résumé

 It’s one of those near-universal experiences. You return as an adult to a place that was significant earlier in your life. Even if you’re not a particularly reflective person, you can’t help but reflect. Remember when …

Minnesota’s Maya Moore is a reflective person, a thoughtful 24-year-old of whom her mother, Kathryn, says, “From the time she was a little kid, she was self-motivated. Very much so. When I was her age, I was nowhere near that mature.”

Gwinnett Daily Post enjoyed having local Maya around: Moore ends Dream run at home

“It means the world,” said Moore, who was named the series’ Most Valuable Player, of the title. “We had ups and downs. I mean, it wasn’t easy. That’s what a championship’s supposed to be. It’s supposed to be hard, and when it got hard, we came together and we stuck with it and secured that victory.”

Both of those titles have come at the expense of the Dream, who have lost in the finals three of the past four years.

and Moore revels in happy homecoming

…don’t ask her which of the four titles — the other WNBA title she and the Lynx won during her rookie season three years ago, plus the two NCAA Division I women’s titles the University of Connecticut and the gold medal she won as a part of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team — is her favorite.

“Why do you ask me to compare my children?” Moore joked during Thursday’s postgame press conference. “It’s like comparing kids. I love all my championships. Each are special. You can’t make me choose.

They have some VIDEO: ‘Behind the Scenes’ … with WNBA champ Maya Moore and some photos.

So does Minnesota Public Radio: Minnesota Lynx clinch WNBA title: The playoff campaign in photos

Ummm… truth: Kevin Durant on WNBA Champ Fiancee: ‘She’s Got More Championships Than I Do’

Key Dae at Canis Hoopus suggests The Wolves still need to learn what the Lynx have figured out

You would think after sharing the Target Center with the cats for 14 years, the dogs would have learned this lesson from them by now:

In pro basketball, the draft really matters.

Like, really really matters. Really matters. Really.

Speaking of the draft (really?!?!) 2014 WNBA Mock Draft: Complete 1st-Round Predictions for Every Team

The Augusta Chronicle caught up with Auburn grad Le’Coe Willingham for 5 questions. (How can it possibly have been 10 years???)

From the Courant: Rebecca Lobo: Memorable Class – Mother Of Four Makes Home And Career Balancing Act Work (Yes, I have to ask… when do we see the headline “Father of Four Makes Home And Career Balancing Ac Work”?)

She returned last week to the Target Center where, 18 years ago, Rebecca Lobo and the UConn basketball team won their first national championship. The image of Lobo circling the court waving a forefinger in the air after the final buzzer lingers pleasantly in the memories of those blue-and-whites who were there to watch.

The sellout crowd, more than 18,000 fans, cheered. The vanquished, Pat Summit’s Tennessee Vols, took the loss hard, but with a good measure of sportsmanship, knowing nothing lasts forever.

Lobo, Jennifer Rizzotti, Jamelle Elliott and all the others have gone about their lives since graduation with the strong principles of loyalty and desire that identified that team.

From Michelle Smith: DIANA TAURASI STUCK IN DRIVE

“There was something about her in high school that no matter what court she was on, or where, or who she was playing against, she was the best player on the floor,” Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said. “That even included playing pickup with guys.”

Taurasi and her fearless game took the Connecticut program to a different level.

“Rebecca Lobo came to Connecticut and made us a national program from being a regional program,” Auriemma said. “And then Diana came and made us a household name.”

Speaking of Lobo (again)

“I think it is always important to tell the stories of those who may feel underrepresented in certain areas,” Lobo said. “There were not a lot of prominent Hispanic female athletes when I was growing up. There weren’t a lot of female sports competitions on TV, period. It is nice to see that now young girls can easily find someone to admire, including athletes like Diana Taurasi, Lisa Fernandez, etc.”

Auriemma thinks just as Lobo helped popularize women’s basketball while on court, what she does now also has tremendous and lasting impact.

“Rebecca made people enjoy the game as a player, and as a broadcaster, she does the same thing,” Auriemma said. “And each year she gets better and better at helping the fans enjoy watching the game.

Did you know this?

Penny Toler, general manager of the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks, regularly gets calls from those watching her nephew play in the NFL. Colleagues, friends and former players remember the teenager who hung out at Staples Center, staying so late that his aunt had to chase him out of the gym.

Greg Toler, an Indianapolis Colts cornerback, spent summers mingling with some of the world’s best female basketball players. Now he spends falls covering and clobbering some of the world’s best football players.

“They can’t believe it’s the same Greg,” his aunt said of her callers.

As we start marking in the home and away games for our favorite NCAA teams, Clay talks about theWhite Paper Summit: Women’s basketball heavyweights look to the future and asks: The Ackerman Report (11): Who’s in charge here?

Val Ackerman’s charge was to look at NCAA women’s basketball, and the piece of her report about governance focused solely on groups that had influence within the collegiate structure. That made sense in terms of her task, but in reality, few significant changes can be made without the approval of outside entities as well.

Still, Ackerman’s list of NCAA committees makes it clear that even within the organization, power is split up too many ways.

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UNC’s Hatchell has leukemia

Sylvia Hatchell, the Hall of Fame women’s basketball coach at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has been diagnosed with leukemia and is temporarily stepping away from her on-the-court coaching responsibilities, officials said Monday.

“I am going to be involved in a treatment plan established by Dr. Pete Voorhees, medical oncologist, and his team from the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center,” Hatchell said in a statement. “I have the utmost confidence in my doctors. There is a reason why the North Carolina Cancer Hospital ranks as one of the top cancer facilities in the nation.

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Keith Brown resigns as Georgetown women’s basketball coach

“We expect the highest standards of behavior and professionalism from all members of our university,” said Stacy Kerr, Georgetown’s assistant vice president of communications, said in a statement. “Actions inconsistent with our values have no place in our community.”

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Tina Thompson

on NPR: WNBA’s All-Time Top Scorer Tina Thompson Retires

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Mechelle weighs in on the latest NCAA news: Regionals need neutral sites -One thing clear: We’re still looking for the right formula for women’s tourney sites

If you feel like we’ve been through all this before with women’s basketball … we have. More than once.

Wednesday, the NCAA released the early-round and regional sites for the 2014 Division I women’s tournament, and as expected, the regionals will be on teams’ home courts. That used to be common, before the NCAA went away from it a decade ago with the belief that it hindered the competitive equity of the tournament.

However, sometimes all things old are new again. The NCAA is always looking at how to increase attendance for women’s hoops. But for the past year, at least, it seems there has been an increasing mindset of, “How do we make more revenue from the tournament?”

Or to turn that around more pessimistically, “How do we lose less?”

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Xavier women’s hoops coach Amy Waugh resigns

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Turn out the Lights,” but it’s hard not to think that. Seimone took the lead last night and, with a little support from her friends, the Lynx stomped the Dream.

No surprise, Angel and Fred are cranky.

“We compliment them. They won. They beat us fair and square,” McCoughtry said.

But she clearly took issue with what she felt was excessively physical play by the Lynx and, in particular, Maya Moore.

“The whole pulling me down on the fast break, all that crap, it’s not needed,” McCoughtry said. “I really hurt my elbow when Maya pulled me down on that play. I feel like it wasn’t needed. We don’t play that way. We are going to play hard and we are going to play scrappy, but we aren’t going to pull you down and hurt you. I just felt like I deserve a little more respect than that.”

Respect – be it given or taken – needs to take a back seat to showing up, sharing the ball, playing team defense and making good decisions. ’cause right now, Minnesota’s  one victory away from WNBA title, even though they weren’t satisfied:

“Of course, it wasn’t our best game,” Whalen said. “We had a lot of turnovers, some miscues and things like that. But all things we know we can fix and clean up. We’ll watch the video. We’ll learn from it. But I think it just shows … just our ability (to survive) when there are rough patches.”

Power forward Rebekkah Brunson was grim-faced at her locker afterward.

“We’ve got some things we really need to clean up before we go down there for Game 3,” she said. “We can’t be satisfied. We haven’t accomplished anything yet. We still have plenty of work to do.”

Tom Powers isn’t shy about daring the basketball mojo gods: Focused Lynx look like a lock to add to their ring collection

Let’s hope we’ve seen the last of the Lynx in 2013 — for their sake.

“We don’t want to come back to Minneapolis,” coach Cheryl Reeve said. “If we come back to Minneapolis, it’s going to be for a parade, not to play Game 5.”

And who doesn’t love a parade?

The universe is close to being back in harmony. The forces of nature are almost in balance. The Lynx clobbered the Atlanta Dream for the second straight time Tuesday night. They are one victory away from a WNBA title that somehow, some way, eluded them last season. It doesn’t look as if that will happen again.

From Mike: WNBA Finals: Lynx frustrate the Dream and go up 2-0

From the start, Atlanta sought to take the ball through the lane. The problem with that strategy? Minnesota knew exactly where the Dream wanted to go. The Lynx clogged the paint more frequently, disrupting drives and layup attempts, including an emphatic swat from Moore against Angel McCoughtry in the first quarter. Overall, the Dream made only 13 of 30 shots in the paint, for 26 points, making their increased scoring from the outside a moot point. Minnesota matched its paint production from game one, scoring 42 points, and taking away Atlanta’s strength,

“It was the backdoor cuts, some of the post-ups off of their deflections, screens off their offense,” said Atlanta coach Fred Williams. “That adds up to points in the paint.”

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Angel: Leading a Title Bid With a Lifted Spirit

The most joy Angel McCoughtry derived from the 2012 season was not leading the W.N.B.A. in scoring or steering the Atlanta Dream to the playoffs, but simply that it ended.

She was suspended for two games and spent a week hidden in her home. She was convicted in the court of social media when her coach was fired after a buildup of tension with her. At a playoff game, she was jittery and scared, symptoms that she attributed to an anxiety attack.

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I know Atlanta is resilient, but OUCH! Minnesota was hot ice. Atlanta was a hot mess.

From Mechelle: Lynx make quick work of Dream

In the third quarter of Sunday’s opening game of the WNBA Finals, Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry ran right into a screen set by Minnesota’s Janel McCarville. The Dream star hit the deck, then sat for a second shaking her head, trying to figure out who had just constructed a wall in the middle of the court.

That’s kind of what it felt like for the Dream most of the game, actually.

Echoed by the AP: Minnesota Lynx dominate Game 1 of WNBA Finals

From Nate: Minnesota Lynx show off the flexibility of their roster in Game One rout

The Minnesota Lynx’s 84-59 win in Game One of the 2013 WNBA Finals was a pretty good example of what makes this team so difficult to beat.

The Atlanta Dream’s defense did get 15 turnovers out of the Lynx, winning the turnover (percentage) battle by a narrow margin. All-WNBA point guard Lindsay Whalen was held to just 3 points on 1-for-4 shooting, which is a positive for any opponent. All-Star forward Rebekkah Brunson had a team-high 5 offensive rebounds, but only scored 4 points on 2-for-6 shooting.

But that wasn’t enough to stop the Lynx.

And Mike Peden at Full Court: Lynx overwhelm the Dream in a dominating mismatch

It was supposed to be championship game, not a scrimmage between the varsity and JVs — but if not  for a rabid crowd of more than13,000 packing the seats at Target Center, Minnesota’s 84-59 demolition of the Atlanta Dream could easily have been taken for a preseason practice between the stars and the benchwarmers.

From Tim at the Pioneer Press: Minnesota cruises in WNBA Finals opener and Bad back can’t keep Janel McCarville out of Game 1 and Minnesota Lynx give Dream a rude awakening in WNBA Finals opener

If this is the tone, it could be a very short series. It is also perhaps reminiscent of 2011, when the Lynx swept Atlanta in three games to win their first league championship.

Minnesota set a tone physically, too, with hard screens and a willingness to take charges, not caring that it committed more fouls (18) than the Dream (11). The Lynx weren’t afraid to spend time on the floor, either, flying out of bounds to keep scoring plays alive, as Wright did in the third quarter when she batted a ball backward to Moore for a crowd-energizing layup.

From Tim Faklis at Canis Hoopus: Lynx Go Up 1-0, Beat Atlanta 84-59

Perhaps the most notable stat of the night: 0-15 shooting from beyond the arc for the Atlanta Dream, who struggled shooting the ball the entire night. Leading scorer Angel McCoughtry (6-24) and Jasmine Thomas (3-15) took the most shots for Atlanta, who collectively shot 31.2 percent on the night on 77 field goal attempts.

“We’ve been through this before. First game against Washington, it was the same thing, we bounced back,” Angel McCoughtry said following the game. “We’ll figure it out. That’s the type of team we are. It’s going to be a dogfight.”

In the battle of the Bench Sparks, Monica was the brightest.

If there was a list somewhere called “The Last Thing Atlanta Needed in the WNBA Finals,” having Minnesota bench-spark extraordinare Monica Wright turn in one of the best nights of her career was probably in the top three.

Michelle on (the other) Becky: Forward Brunson boosts Lynx

Brunson is in her 10th WNBA season. Ask her how old she is and she simply responds, “old.” She’s 31 and she laughs heartily when reminded that a simple Internet search will yield the answer.

Ask her Minnesota teammates how important she is to what they do and what they hope to accomplish, and they are much less cagey.

“She is so pivotal to the foundation of this team,” said Maya Moore, while Whalen called Brunson “our cornerstone.”

Photos from MPR. (The AP’s Stacy Bengs did a nice job!)

The Baltimore Sun pays attention: Baltimore native McCoughtry seeks WNBA title

“It means a lot, I mean each time is special. You work a lot to get there, and to get there is pretty awesome,” McCoughtry said. “This time, we’re really just trying to go ahead and get over that hump and take the victory home. We have a different team, different coach this time, so hopefully we can just be up to the challenge.” 

LSU pays attention: Augustus Set for Third-Straight WNBA Final

Augustus said she represents LSU through her achievements whether it is in the WNBA, overseas or in the Olympic games.

“You definitely need to have some pride about being able to represent Louisiana, Baton Rouge, LSU and everyone who’s ever supported you up to this point,” she said.

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Our good friend Jon Krawczynski at the AP has Five things to know about the WNBA Finals

Dream’s motivation: If the Dream can’t defeat the Lynx, it would be their third finals loss in four seasons. They were swept by Seattle in 2010. The New York Liberty is the only team to accomplish that dubious feat (Ow. Thanks for the reminder), losing three of the first four championships. “We learned from our failures,” McCoughtry said.

Hopefully a sixth thing to know is that some WNBA franchises are (or should be!) holding viewing parties. Dunno if they are, but the Lynx are ready for game three at the Gwinnett.

From Mechelle: Lynx have edge over Dream in Finals

Minnesota is the favorite to prevail in the WNBA Finals, which begin Sunday at Minneapolis’ Target Center (ESPN and WatchESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET).

In 2011, the Lynx swept the Dream to win Minnesota’s first WNBA title. The Lynx were upset on the way to a repeat last year, falling in four games to Indiana. Which is probably the worst thing that could have happened from the Dream’s perspective.

Atlanta knows that the Lynx are still unhappy about the title getting away from them last year, and that Minnesota’s concentration will be very keen this year to keep that from happening again.

But Minnesota also has — at least on paper — a talent edge overall against the Dream. That said, the teams split their regular-season meetings this year, both winning on their home court.

Nate gives us the 2013 WNBA Finals X-Factor: Alex Bentley’s defense at the point guard spot key to Atlanta Dream success

For the Dream, the ability to even get back to the Finals with an entirely different point guard rotation in part reflects the quality of the rest of their personnel over the past few years: their frontcourt has helped them remain among the best rebounding teams in the league and of course there’s All-Star Angel McCoughtry on the wing along with defensive standout Armintie Herrington.

Yet the main reason the Dream have almost made the point guard position look irrelevant is their style of play: they’re a team that has always liked to push the pace to score in transition and they have wings who handle the ball efficiently enough to minimize their reliance on point guard play.

Mark Remme at Los Lynx writes. Lynx Key On Slowning Down McCoughtry’s Chaos

If you’re scouting the Atlanta Dream, the word chaos seems to come up regularly. The Dream certainly bring it defensively, and on the offensive end they will their way to victory through a collection of plays that tend to deviate on each and every possession. 

In the middle of that chaos is Angel McCoughtry, the dynamic scorer who essentially can do it all. And she does it in different ways—a noticeable trait for the Lynx guards preparing to try contain her in the 2013 WNBA Finals. On any given possession, McCoughtry might go left, go right, take a certain angle they’ve never seen before or shake her way to the hoop.

The prognosis? She never does the same thing twice.

Hello, old friend: Maya Moore Vs. Tiffany Hayes: UConn Reunion In WNBA Finals

During the three years they played together at UConn, Maya Moore and Tiffany Hayes traveled to three Final Fours and won two national championships, usually laughing at each other’s jokes along the way.

But starting Sunday, Moore and Hayes will be on different sides when the Minnesota Lynx andAtlanta Dream begin play in the best-of-five WNBA Finals in Minnesota.

“It’s a little different when you play against a friend like her,” said Hayes, the Dream’s second-year guard. “We have some little conversations, maybe have a laugh on the free throw line, but otherwise things are pretty much the same as playing against anyone else.”

In other news, a little history.

From Iowa: Charging Czech Day in Clutier

Most people in this area are aware of the Clutier girls basketball team’s remarkable history. From 1939 through 1948 the Clutier Charging Czechs dominated Iowa sports headlines. These girls, under the coaching of John Schoenfelder, had a record of 201 wins, 18 losses and 1 tie. They scored 12,295 points versus their opponents 5,660, and went to the state tournament six times, winning in 1942. Two of the Charging Czechs, Verna Mae Vorba and Adella Knoop were later inducted into the Iowa Girls Basketball Hall of Fame.

The Clutier Public Library proudly displays the trophy case and the pictures of the Clutier graduating classes. Also, the Library recently added the book, “From Six-on-Six to Full Court Press” by Janice Beran to the collection.

From Alaska: Sweet – Early team member named honorary captain of Palmer girls squad

[92 year-old] June Liebing’s time in the Valley pre-dates the Matanuska Colony, and her basketball career here came at a time when the Palmer High School girl’s team was shooting through rafters to make a basket.

So, it would seem to most, there’s really no better person to become the PHS girl’s squad’s first honorary captain.

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From the Las Vegas Review Journal: Five years later, Auriemma gets to coach touted recruit

On Friday, Delle Donne and Auriemma were on the court together, in Las Vegas of all places, as USA Basketball held its women’s national team minicamp at Cox Pavilion. Auriemma recently agreed to return as national team coach through the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, and Delle Donne, who had a sensational rookie season with the WNBA’s Chicago Sky and was selected as the league’s rookie of the year, hopes to land a spot on the Olympic team.

“It’s great to be here with him,” Delle Donne said after practice. “It was a tough decision to not play for him at UConn, but we’ve always gotten along, and I’m looking forward to learning from him. The way he breaks things down and teaches the game, it’s amazing. I want to be a sponge and soak everything up this weekend.”

From the CT Post: UConn foursome appreciates honor of competing with best of U.S.

For many years, UConn star sophomoreBreanna Stewart has had the goal of playing for the U.S. Olympic team. Winning multiple national championships during her four-year career with the Huskies is the primary goal at this point, but there is no denying her intense desire to team with the best players in the world and represent her country at the highest level.

Stewart will take another step closer to realizing her dream this weekend when she competes at the U.S. Women‘s National Team mini-camp today through Sunday at the Cox Pavilion practice gym on the campus of UNLV.

From USA Basketball: USA National Team Steps Onto the Court in Las Vegas

“When you look at all the new players here, it’s kind of nice to be able to stay consistent as far as what we’ve done the last four years,” said three-time OlympianTamika Catchings, who began her USA Basketball career in 1996. Now we’re moving into the next four years and not much is going to change. Some players come and go, but being able to build off of the success that we’ve already had is really good.”

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Jannah Tucker, women’s basketball standout, says she was a victim of abuse

When Jannah Tucker, a women’s basketball signee at the University of Tennessee, failed to show up in July for summer classes ahead of her freshman year, the school announced the Randallstown, Md., product had “chosen not to enroll due to personal reasons.”

Nearly three months later, those personal reasons came into sobering focus, when Tucker, 18, released a statement Friday calling herself a victim of domestic violence.

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From the .com: The X-Factors: Monica Wright and Tiffany Hayes

Atlanta’s slogan for the playoffs reads: “Teamwork makes the dream work!” That theme was true in the path to the Finals for both the Dream and Lynx. While both teams have standalone stars, each team wouldn’t be in this place without the supporting cast, specifically the X-factors.

Each team has a spark. That one player behind the stars that really puts the team over the edge in order to win the big games. For Minnesota that energy lies in fourth-year guard Monica Wright and for Atlanta it’s in Angel McCoughtry’s go-to shooter, second-year guard Tiffany Hayes.

Also de le .com: Angel Leads the Way

“She’s been a good leader for us throughout the course of this season,” he said. “That was something we talked about extensively in the offseason. She’s matured a lot as a player, she’s emerged as a full-fledged triple threat player getting us steals, points and passing the basketball.”

Teammate Tiffany Hayes said McCoughtry’s leadership has been the driving force as the Dream prepare for their third WNBA Finals appearance in the past four years.

“I think she motivates us more this year,” she said. “She’s always led by example, but this year she encourages by being more of a vocal leader and I think that’s really been helping us.”

Dave Southorn at the Idaho Statesman notices: Former BSU point guard ‘Fast Freddie’ is running the show in Atlanta

Williams, who played for the Broncos from 1977-79, is in his first full season as head coach and general manager of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream. He has guided the team to the WNBA Finals against the Minnesota Lynx, which begin Sunday, and after serving on the staff since the team’s inception since 2008, it is a moment he is savoring.

“Not many coaches get to see something built from stage one up to this point, so this is definitely a special feeling,’’ Williams, 56, said.

 Nate’s been wicked busy: Erika de Souza’s All-WNBA caliber season

It’s generally difficult to determine what qualifies someone as “underrated”, but there’s definitely evidence to suggest that Atlanta Dream center Erika de Souza has earned the label.

She was a blatant snub from the 2013 All-Star game before being added as an injury replacement for Chicago Sky star Elena Delle Donne. And by almost any statistical standard, she was an equally blatant snub from the 2013 All-WNBA team.

Three keys to the Lynx winning a second title and Monica Wright, versatility & the Sixth Woman award

With 6:23 left in the first quarter of the Minnesota Lynx’s loss in Atlanta on August 20, coach Cheryl Reeve took a timeout to try to stop the Atlanta Dream’s momentum.

After racing out to a 6-0 lead, the Dream were up 10-4 and nothing seemed to be working well for the Lynx – they were looking disoriented as an active Dream defense applied pressure on the perimeter and they couldn’t seem to stop Dream penetration on the other end.

Richard, too:

2013 WNBA Finals Preview: Minnesota Lynx vs. Atlanta Dream – Part 1, Match-ups and Challenges

Here we go again, everybody. The Minnesota Lynx are in the WNBA Finals for the third consecutive season, looking to regain the title that they lost a year ago. The Atlanta Dream are back in the championship series for the third time in four years. The franchises clashed in the 2011 Finals, with relatively similar rosters – and the Lynx won in a sweep. But that feels like a long time ago, and a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. The 2013 regular season, which saw the Dream finish .500 while the Lynx were their typical dominant selves, is largely irrelevant now. So a series from a couple of years ago definitely can’t be considered particularly important. Everyone starts the Finals 0-0, and the Dream’s confidence should be high after a sweep of Indiana to win the East, where they went some way towards reestablishing their identity. The track record of the Lynx makes them worthy favourites for this series, but they won’t have things all their own way.

2013 WNBA Finals Preview: Minnesota Lynx vs. Atlanta Dream – Part 2, Key Themes and Factors, and the Final Verdict

Now for the topics, trends, decisions and debates that are likely to decide the WNBA Finals, or are at least worth paying attention to as the series goes along. Many of them were touched upon in Part 1, where we took a closer look at the personnel involved, but now we’ll get more in depth. Then, just for fun, I’ll offer up a prediction. Although with the way it’s been going for me with picks this year in the postseason, you might want to go the other way.

Mr. Youngblood at the Star Tribune is not to be outdone: Lynx’ Maya Moore enjoying playoffs more than Lynx’s two opponents so far

For Maya Moore, the anticipation, the excitement had been building. So when the Lynx took the Target Center court last week for the first game in their Western Conference championship series with Phoenix, it was like Moore was being launched from a cannon.

“She’ll tell you the first five minutes of that Phoenix game, she just blacked out,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said, “because there was so much adrenaline.

“Now, she played like it,” Reeve said, laughing. “That’s why we had to take her out.’’

McCoughtry’s fuming turned Atlanta around late in season

A couple of weeks ago, Angel McCoughtry — seemingly by the force of her personality — changed the course of the Atlanta Dream’s season.

Wildly erratic during the regular season, the Dream stumbled into the playoffs at 17-17, then opened the postseason with a home loss to Washington in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

McCoughtry’s line for the game: 20 points, four rebounds, three assists, two blocks and one meltdown. “If we’re not upset right now and embarrassed on national television, then we might as well go home now and not show up in D.C.,” she fumed after the game. “Right now needs to be the turning point, this very moment.’’

Lynx are looking to ‘finish job’ against Atlanta in WNBA Finals and Lynx can no longer use the ‘no respect’ line

BTW: Elizabeth Dunbar at Minnesota Public Radio has this: Lynx success has turned team into profitable venture

As the Minnesota Lynx prepare for their third straight appearance in the WNBA finals, Glen Taylor finds himself in rare position: owning a WNBA team that’s profitable.

It took a decade to get there, the billionaire says, and it feels good.

John Altavilla at the Hartford Courant: Maya Moore’s Winning Way Continues With Another WNBA Title Shot

Jayda’s still here: Maya Moore vs. Angel McCoughtry in best-of-five series on ESPN networks

The Gwinnett Daily Post notices that the Lynx are sweeping through the postseason

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution finally pays attention.

More than two weeks ago, after a dispirited loss to Washington, an aggravated Angel McCoughtry sat in her locker and defiantly said she wanted to win a championship with the Dream.

From Mechelle: Once again, it’s Maya versus Angel – Former Big East rivals, U.S. teammates face off in WNBA Finals

Matchups between contrasting stars are always intriguing. And Minnesota’s Maya Moore and Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry, Olympians whose teams meet in the WNBA Finals starting Sunday (ESPN and WatchESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET), certainly have their distinct differences.

Moore seemed like she was in her 30s even when she was an 18-year-old. She carries herself with almost a regal dignity, her emotions generally hidden behind the “Maya mask” that somehow successfully mixes implacability and humility. She will not let up until she defeats you, but she’s not going to rub your face in it.

As much as Moore’s countenance rarely gives anything away, McCoughtry’s expressions say all kinds of things. Everything, actually. Over the years during games, you might see her look elated, irritated, amused, bemused, furious, frustrated, determined, resolved. In interviews, McCoughtry could be charming, funny and insightful — or she could be borderline morose. Or somewhere in the range in between.

From Michelle: Reeve shows the way for Lynx

And so we return to the WNBA Finals, the occasion of Cheryl Reeve’s seminal moment as a WNBA coach. The day she threw her jacket.

Upset over a non-foul call in Game 2 of the 2012 WNBA Finals, Reeve lost her cool and one article of clothing, tearing off her blazer and tossing it while yelling at the officials.

But if Reeve earned national airplay with her revealing outburst, it is only a colorful distraction from a coaching career that is starting to build momentum in the legacy of the league. An illuminating moment, but still only a moment.

From SlamOnline: SLAM Radio: WNBA Finals Preview, Draft and Stash, Isaiah Whitehead

Mechelle and Brenda do the podcast thang.

HoopFeed’s podcasting, too: Lin Dunn and Brian Agler break down the WNBA finals

Watch out! WNBA Bringing Back Ref Cams for Finals

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with Phoenix knocking of Minnesota’s biggest challenger, and Indiana doing the same for Atlanta. Guess everybody will be nice and rested.

I’m looking forward to these games, especially to see how the battle in the paint plays out… tho Jayda is looking for something different: the battle No-Longer Big Easters: Maya Moore vs. Angel McCoughtry in best-of-five series on ESPN networks

From Mechelle: Two motivated clubs meet for title

Sorry, Minnesota Lynx, you still don’t get to be the underdog. It’s your third consecutive year in the WNBA Finals, and you’re the favorite again. You wore that mantle well in 2011, but the championship slipped away from you last year.

**

Sorry, Atlanta Dream, but this is your third trip in the past four years to the WNBA Finals, and you are going to feel underestimated again. The Lynx had a 26-8 regular-season record to your 17-17. They had three players with MVP-like numbers this year (Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus); you had one (Angel McCoughtry).

From Michelle: Lynx, Dream meet again in Finals

Key to the series

Protecting the home court. Atlanta has to win at least once in Minnesota if it wants to win this series. That’s no easy task considering the Lynx’s 17-2 record at home this season. In two playoff wins in Minnesota so far, the Lynx’s average margin of victory is 19.5 points.

The Dream have won only two road games since June 23, winning at Washington in the Eastern Conference semifinals and at Indiana on Sunday. But Atlanta has been a dismal team away from its home court for most of the year, and that doesn’t bode well.

Tim Leighton at the Pioneer Press talks pre-game prep: Before WNBA finals comes 10 hours of ‘Grand Theft Auto’

The victory in the best-of-three Western Conference finals not only gave the Lynx a berth in the WNBA Finals for the third consecutive season, it also earned players a 48-hour furlough from coach Cheryl Reeve.

Augustus had two things in mind upon returning home: a massage and getting her fingers warmed up for a team “Grand Theft Auto” video game party.

Don’t let the frivolity give you the wrong impression, though. Nathan Meacham reassures fans of Los Lynx that Minnesota’s not expecting a 2011 Finals rerun with Dream

It’s back to the WNBA Finals for the Minnesota Lynx, who will be facing the same opponent they defeated in 2011, but that doesn’t mean there are many similarities.

“This team is really different than the team in 2011,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “Each of their journeys has been very different. This group wants to get this team’s championship to cap off this journey.”

Nate offers up Three keys for the Atlanta Dream in the 2013 WNBA Finals

During his introduction to the Atlanta Dream’s game against the Minnesota Lynx on August 20, broadcaster Bob Rathbun commented, “You can game plan for the stars in this league defensively, but the reason they’re stars is that they can come through despite all the defensive pressure. That’s certainly the case with Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry and Minnesota’s Maya Moore.”

And of course you can probably apply the same reasoning to Seimone Augustus.

Yet the thing that fans often forget when considering the defensive end of the ball is that defense is never entirely a one-on-one effort – it’s always a 5-on-5 effort. Conveniently, examples of what the Dream need to do to succeed showed up within the first four minutes of their 88-73 win in late August.

The Card Chronicle takes notice: McCoughtry Seeking Elusive First WNBA Championship

It’s been nearly five years since Angel McCoughtry left Louisville, and since then she’s accomplished just about every professional goal imaginable. Except one.

McCoughtry will go for her first WNBA title when the Atlanta Dream begin play in the WNBA Finals on Sunday at Minnesota. The Dream have played in the finals in three of the last four years, but were swept in both of their previous appearances, including in 2011 against Minnesota.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution couldn’t be bothered, so they asked Doug to chime in (and don’t even ask him to make it Dream-centric): Minnesota Lynx face Atlanta Dream in WNBA finals

Ever since the Minnesota Lynx lost in the WNBA finals last year, they’ve been focused on getting back there.

Now they are three wins away from a second championship in three seasons, facing a team they swept two years ago to earn the franchise’s first title.

“We’re a very hungry, determined group of women,” said Minnesota’s Seimone Augustus. “All year we’ve talked about holding our goal and destiny in our hands. We have another chance at a title after not ending last season the way we wanted to.”

Clay writes his WNBA Finals preview: Will Atlanta live the Dream? Or will Minnesota erase last year’s nightmare?

The WNBA would have much preferred one of the Three to See, or Candace Parker and company, in the Finals. The league can certainly deal with Minnesota, with Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus, but 17-17 Atlanta, two-time losers in the Finals, isn’t exactly the dream opponent (sorry).

The positives are that the Dream love to run, so there should be lots of points, and Angel McCoughtry could melt down in SportsCenter-worthy fashion at any moment.

In the end, though, the Lynx are clearly better, and an Atlanta win in this series would count as the biggest Finals’ upset in league history.

Jayda also offers up some exit interviews: Nancy Darsch will not return to Seattle

Speaking of exit interviews, Mark Ambrogi at the Indy Star says Indiana Fever looking to reload for 2014 after getting swept in Eastern Conference finals

Good news for the Chicago: Sky owner Michael Alter all-in (and for those who say the League needs to avoid being “a movement”:

What Alter did not see coming but has figured out, he said, is that “this league is still about a cultural transformation, getting people [to relate to and follow] women and women athletes. And we still have a long way to go, that’s just a fact.”

He also included the phenomenon of women reporters eschewing what some, like himself, may view as a responsibility to champion women’s sports in favor of pursuing the bigger (men’s) beats.

“It’s the same thing with the corporate battle,” he said. “Men are not as comfortable saying, ‘We should do this.’ They don’t want to be the one to make the argument convincing everyone to do it. They’ll support if, but they want someone else to be the flag bearer.”

Simply put, Alter said, that attitude took him by surprise.

Mystery AP person writes: Mercury fall short of expectations, but coaching change brings strong finish

“It was a strange year, it was a little weird,” Taurasi said. “When things were not going our way through the season we worked through it. When they made the coaching change, it could have easily been a foregone season. But we stuck with it. I’m happy the way we fought throughout the season.”

In college news:

Might be an idiot: UWGB women’s basketball: Zastrow pleads not guilty to DUI charge

Might be in trouble: Georgetown places women’s basketball coach Keith Brown on leave following complaints

Georgetown has placed women’s basketball Coach Keith Brown on administrative leave, along with assistant coach Tim Valentine, following complaints of unprofessional conduct and inappropriate language.

The concerns were raised by players on the eve of Brown’s second season as head coach of the Hoyas and were first reported Monday night by WJLA (Channel 7). Georgetown’s assistant vice president for communications, Stacy Kerr, confirmed the circumstances that led to the university’s actions in a statement.

Awful news, reminding us how hard it can be to speak up for oneself: Maryland man arrested for assault of Tennessee recruit Jannah Tucker

A Maryland man has been arrested and charged with second-degree assault in a case that involves Tennessee recruit Jannah Tucker.  The No. 12 ranked 2013 recruit surprised the Lady Vols’ staff in July when she did not report to campus as scheduled, instead sending an email citing unspecified “personal reasons.”

Full Court has confirmed a police report and obtained court documents indicating that officers from the Franklin precinct of the Baltimore Police Department arrested Joshua Anthony Gerrard on Wednesday, July 25, at his home in Owings Mills, Md., on charges of second-degree assault. Gerrard remained in custody overnight and was released the following day on $50,000 bail. A trial date has been set for Feb. 12, 2014.

In high school news:

Definitely an idiot: Ex-basketball coach gets probation over play devised to hurt student heckler

Could be an eye-opener: High school girls’ hoops seeks officials

Nice to be recognized: Dover honors 2 for legendary commitment to students, community

During the introduction for Fisk the announcer read, “Marge Fisk, a graduate of DHS, Class of 1950, and the University of New Hampshire Class of 1954, came back to Dover High in the fall of 1970. Married to husband Bill and raising four children, Marge began the awesome task of revamping the girl’s Phys Ed. Department. With determination, organization and a little bit of magic she began putting together a solid sports program and some of the best girl’s basketball and field hockey teams in the state.” 

In 1975, the field hockey team won the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association for Field Hockey Class AA Championships under Fisk’s leadership. In 1977, an undefeated team coached by Fisk won the Girls Basketball State Championship.

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