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Archive for May, 2014

Had SUCH a good time speaking with Mimi – what a great friend of the game. Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2014: Mimi Senkowski Griffin — A love affair with the game

When Mimi Senkowski Griffin is inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame next month, it will be for her contributions to the game as a basketball commentator. But one could also see it as the culmination of a three-generation love affair with Pennsylvania women’s basketball.

“I grew up on Big 5 basketball in Philadelphia. It was religion in our family,” explained Griffin. “My grandmother played back in the day when they had cages around the court. They played in bloomers and guys weren’t allowed in the gym.” At six-feet, Griffin’s mother Anne, played for Little Flower High School in the Philadelphia Catholic League, considered the elite of girls’ basketball. “She told us that their coach would call her ‘the point,’ but not in terms that we would recognize it. She said it was because he would tell the rest of the team that ‘the point’ was to ‘Get the ball to Anne!’”

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time for some straight up fundraising for my company’s Youth Theatre and I’m battling a bunch of other folks. I WANT TO WIN!!!! (nothing but the admiration and jealousy of my competition)

So, why are you inviting us to send in our money, Helen?

CAT Youth Theatre is a free, award-winning after school program for young people to create original theatre. Members meet weekly, from September through May. Most important, there is no audition or tuition and members are invited on a first come, first served basis. The criterion: a commitment to be an active participant.

The collaborative theatre process gives young people the opportunity to make new meanings from the material of their lives. It inspires creativity, builds self-esteem and resiliency, broadens horizons, develops social awareness AND it’s free!

It’s that “FREE” thing that’s key. Folks don’t audition for the youth theatre, but they do have to show up, contribute their ideas and time, learn to be responsible to themselves and their co-creators…. they work their butts off. And the results, both on and off the stage, are amazing.

Looking to raise $1000 in two weeks. Ya got an extra $10 floating around?

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like a bunch of clueless, self-delusional, profoundly tone-deaf  dingbats.

The university changed its stance, granting Romero a release as a result of a newly modified policy that allows athletic director John Currie the freedom to release student-athletes if new information or circumstances warrant the release.

When we see one person standing in opposition to a large entity, passions can be easily inflamed as people empathize. It’s the mini versus the monolith.

But that’s even more the case when, no matter how hard you look, you can’t figure out what the monolith stands to gain by exercising its power. Ultimately, that’s why so many people were baffled and angered by Kansas State’s treatment of women’s basketball player Leticia Romero.

“I’m thrilled for Leticia — this is what she deserved all along,” Romero’s attorney Donald Jackson said Tuesday morning. “I think Kansas State made the right decision and we’re thrilled about it. Sometimes things like this take a little time, but I congratulate the athletic director and the board at K-State on the decision they made.
Dang, but don’t I love a little sarcastic, subtle gloating….
Moving to a happier place: Rookie Alert!!!
BOOM! McBride drops 30 and the winner.
Story of the Game: Both teams were insanely hot from outside in the first half, combining to hit the first 11 three-point shots attempted. There were under four minutes left in the half when Shameka Christon tossed up the first missed three of the evening. The star of the show amongst the floor-wide bombing was a former Notre Dame guard – but not the one who tends to get all the press. Kayla McBride was smoking hot from the perimeter, not afraid to put the ball on the floor to create easier looks, and even made a couple of nice passes along the way as well. This is why Dan Hughes took her #3 in the recent draft, ahead of players like Alyssa Thomas and Natasha Howard who might’ve filled a more obvious hole on his roster.

Moments after becoming the first WNBA player to score 30 or more points in four consecutive games, holding a bag of ice on the five stitches over her right eye, Lynx forward Maya Moore was making the point that it’s not all her.

“Of course they are going to see I scored 30, looking at the points,” said Moore, who had 30 points in just under 31 minutes in Saturday’s victory over the New York Liberty. “But my teammates do so much for me. It’s all a team aggression; I just try to set the tone in the beginning.’’

(how cranky am I? I’ll be in Minny for a conference and the Lynx are on the road. Who’s in charge of scheduling!)
In the “it’s about time” category: Braxton waived. So much talent, so determined to squander it….
If you wanna catch up on WNBA games, check out Richard at WNBAlien.
Connecticut’s Carl Ademac catches up with old OLD Big East foe Barnes Arico: Ex-Red Storm coach is all ‘Go Blue’ at Michigan
“The Midwest is terrific,” Barnes Arico said. “It’s a great place to raise a family and the people in Ann Arbor and the state of Michigan have been so welcoming. The people in Michigan are all about the Block M and all about Michigan. I put on a Michigan t-shirt and go anywhere from California to Paris, France, somebody sees me and goes, ‘Go Blue.’ So it’s just the tradition and the pride, and to be able to work at a University that has all that is incredible. I’m loving it and enjoying it.
From the Sports Business Education Network: Muffet McGraw’s Keynote Address, “Women in Leadership
Speaking of leadership: Congrats to St. Francis’ third year head coach John Thurston as St. Francis Brooklyn women’s basketball team has been invited to the pre-season WNIT for the first time in program history.
In USA Basketball news, the U-18 team was announced. Check out Clay Kallam’s notes from the 17s and 18s tryouts.
Speaking of USA Basketball, from Anna Wilson: Red White and Dream Come True
Last year I was invited to participate in the USA U16 national team trials. Unfortunately, I was not selected to be a part of the team and missed out on the FIBA Americas U16 championship in Cancun, Mexico. This year I was invited back to Colorado Springs, Colo., to try out for the USA U17 world championship team, and this time I had more experience and more confidence. And I made the team.
Q: Team USA, coached by Geno Auriemma, will look to retain the gold medal at the FIBA world championship for women Sept. 27-Oct. 5 in Ankara and Istanbul, Turkey. What is the process of reducing the current pool of players down to 12?
Interesting flashback from Emily Nkosi: Basketball, Jesus and young lesbian identity in Waco, Texas

“I will always worry about Emily.”

That is what coach Kim Mulkey said about me in her book, Won’t Back Down. Though this is not a flattering line to have your basketball coach write about you, I actually appreciate it. I have been worried about me too, and with good reason.

Things have not been easy for me over the past decade. I don’t think my struggle is particularly unique. We all have struggles. The clearer I get on my own pain, the more compassion and authenticity I have in relating to the world around me. I hope I can share parts of my story and my pain in a way that others can relate to and learn from. That’s why I’m writing this. It’s not about setting the record straight or telling my side of the story in my own words, but rather trying to excavate the hard earned nuggets of wisdom that, if shared, could help someone else avoid the same mistakes or feel less alone.

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between Elena and Maya on ESPN2 (3:30 EST).

So far, Moore is living up to the headline of Kent Youngblood’s May 18th piece: Lynx’s Maya Moore ready for an even better 2014 season

If you think Moore, entering her fourth season, has bumped up against the ceiling of her considerable talent, think again. Or just watch her work long after most practices have ended.

“I have to do more,” Moore said. “I have to do it at a higher level. I’m going to continue with the same work habits, but just increase them. It’s the little things at this point.”

More, really?

And you, she IS stronger (who could argue with the CSN Chicago piece: Elena Delle Donne wants to step up as role model

Elena Delle Donne is just one year into her WNBA career, but she’s might already be the most popular player in Chicago Sky’s history.

The 6-foot-5 star took the league by storm in her rookie season, averaging 18.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game as she led the Sky to their first regular season Conference title in their eight-year existence.

But Delle Donne isn’t content with just being popular. She wants to be a positive role model for the female athletes growing up around the world today.

No, I haven’t started packing my bags for Istanbul yet, but come on! How much fun will it be to spend a week watching these two play on the same team!

It’s been two weeks — how is Michelle doing on her 10 storylines to track this season?

Oh, and speaking of storylines: the lil bits have been picked for the U-17 team.

“Given the large numbers and the incredible talent at these trials, it was a challenge for the committee to make the decision,” said Carol Callan, USA Basketball women’s national team director and chair of the USA Basketball Women’s Developmental National Team Committee, which is responsible for selecting the players. “However, given that quality of talent, in many ways there was no way we could fail at picking a good team, and we certainly think that we’ve done that. It’s a very versatile team with good size, good speed and quickness and good basketball smarts. So, we are really excited to see how they perform at the world championship.”

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That Elena and Maya are on fiyah.

That teams are winning, even missing stars (Minny, Chicago).

That teams are losing ’cause they’re missing stars (Seattle, Indy, Atlanta).

That being new is hard: Tulsa World’s Mike Brown writes about transitioning: WNBA’s rookie learning curve tough on many players

That being “old” is hard: Some NOT rookies ponder the future: Becky Hammon eyes the next step

“She wants to coach after she’s done,” Popovich told the Associated Press. “Because she’s not just a good player but a smart player, we gave her a chance to sit with us during the year. She came to our coaches’ meetings, argued with us. She did everything. She’s been wonderful.”

Sue Bird On Anne Donovan, Aging And The Big Picture

That the W launched a flawed iPad/iphone app and Live Access continues to be oxymoronic.

That ESPN runs a better scoreboard banner than the .com (the last score they have up is from May 23rd).

That the Minnesota Post is willing to cover the Lynx: Brazilian Damiris Dantas is Minnesota Lynx’s next big thing

That waffles are good for breakfast but tough for coaches and fans: Will she or won’t she in 2015: From Jayda – WNBA Talk: Liz Cambage – Tulsa star Liz Cambage will miss her second full season since being drafted in 2011 to concentrate on her commitment to the Australian National Team.

Mechelle chatted:

glenn (fresh meadows) How important is it for the WNBA’s survival for them to FINALLY be aknowledging and specifically marketing to the LGBT community?

Mechelle Voepel It’s interesting … we’ve had this internal discussion at ESPNW about the league’s announcement of its LGBT-focused marketing campaign. And some people’s thoughts were, “Oh, are they FINALLY doing this? It’s about time. It’s ridiculous. They should have done it long ago.” Really more chastising the league because it took so long, rather than even sounding glad that it was happening. But I have to say … I’m just like, “Look, yes, the league could have done better with this. We know that. But so could all of society.”

We’ve made so much progress in the last 10 years in regard to LGBT awareness and rights and acceptance and inclusion. So my attitude is, “OK, this is terrific. I am really happy they are doing this.” I criticize the league for things they do or don’t do that bug me, but I also understand that marketing and sponsorships and all those things haven’t been easy for women’s sports. I know there have been fans who felt very hurt and left out and not acknowledged by the WNBA. Of course I understand that. But at some point … maybe it’s that I’m almost 50, and I have some perspective that makes me more pleased with the progress than I am mad at what *didn’t* happen for years.

In random college news:

Lots of changes on Co’s Penn State staff. 

Fresno State added staff and lost a center to Oregon. Wait? They’re letting a foreign player transfer? Who do they think they aren’t?!?!

Stringer stays put.

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From Joshua Kinder, who’s all over this story: Romero exploring other options to gain her release

When Leticia Romero first asked for her release more than two months ago, she had no idea she’d still be waiting for it today and in the fight of her life with the university she’s called home for the past year. The All-Big 12 point guard has seemed to run out of conventional options when it comes to getting a release from Kansas State after the university’s statement Wednesday night that the appeals committee’s decision is “final and binding.”

Though K-State’s official stance is firm — case closed — Romero’s attorney, Donald Jackson, might just be getting started. 

Wait, there are NO take backs, K-State: Leticia Romero plans MTSU visit, could transfer

MTSU women’s basketball appears to have exclusive rights to one of the nation’s more coveted possible Division I transfers — at least for now.

Joshua: Back and forth: MTSU allowed to contact Romero, again

Kellis Robinette at The Kansas City Star: Leticia Romero still not released from K-State scholarship but can contact two schools

Enough is enough.

Someone at Kansas State needs to step in and realize that the school is getting mountains of negative PR for an athlete in a non-revenue sport by upholding a rule that is likely to be changed when the Power Five conferences are given autonomy.

This is going beyond negative PR, dontcha think?

Another blog kicks in: Let her go

Kansas State is one of my favorite schools…. It is in that spirit I tell you: I have absolutely no idea what Kansas State is doing in this bizarre Leticia Romero case.

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Swish Appeal Interviews Romero: Leticia Romero discusses the frustrating denial of her transfer release by Kansas State

Make it go away! University attorney requests Currie letter be removed, claims it was stolen

She’s free! Joshua Kinder @Joshua_Kinder · 41m  :Just learned Middle Tennessee State has was granted permission today to contact Romero — one of 94 schools on her list. #KState And story: Middle Tennessee State given permission to contact Romero 

Ooops. No she’s not: Joshua Kinder Tweet: Just Learned #KState has retracted its contact release to Middle Tennessee State and Romero due to a clerical error. This is real.

Honestly, just how many bullets and how many feet to shoot them in DOES K-State have?

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So we’re thinking that they’re getting SOMEwhere close to a rational decision, even if it does involve finger-pointing and blame-gaming and responsibility shifting, and Mechelle weighing in again:

I have seen and reported on some strange happenings in women’s college basketball over the years. This Romero/Kansas State dispute joins a short list of the most confounding.

I think of it as improvisational because it seems like with the decision-making process in this case, Kansas State’s administration has been making it up as it goes along.

Initially, Kansas State completely denied her release. In the past week, Romero said the administration would release her, but to none of the 100 schools she had included when K-State requested a list of programs she might be interested in. 

Kansas State has brought itself negative publicity, has put a foreign teenage student-athlete through nearly two months of stress and uncertainty, has marred the start of new coach Jeff Mittie’s tenure and now might be in a legal battle, as Romero is being represented by a lawyer.

And then we get this from K-State: “She ain’t goin’ NOwhere.”

Recent media reports may have created the impression that the university is reconsidering student athlete Leticia Romero’s request for a transfer. The news reports are based on an apparent photo of a confidential letter from Athletic Director John Currie to Pat Bosco, vice president for student life at Kansas State University.

Under university policy, the Appeals Committee’s decision is final and binding, and there is no university procedure to reexamine one of those decisions. Thus, the university process concludes with the Appeals Committee’s decision. Also, the final and binding nature of these decisions does not allow for them to be overturned by university administrators.

Is this the new K-State logo?

firedisney

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“WOOT!”

So, the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony is coming up soon, and I got to talk to some of the inductees. (SO MUCH FUN). The results are starting to appear over at Full Court: Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2014: Michelle Edwards — The Miracle of “Ice”

If someone had told a young Michelle Edwards that 2014 would find her preparing to be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, she might have reacted the same way she did when she got the news in 2013: Disbelief. But, perhaps, for a different reason than you might expect.

Growing up in Boston in the mid-70s, Edwards’ sport of choice didn’t sound like the squeak of sneakers on a court, but rather the “swoosh” of skis hurtling down a mountain.

“I actually was playing tennis and skiing,” explained Edwards. “It’s funny because my initial dream was to become the first African-American downhill skier.”

Basketball didn’t become a focus until her teens.

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to see if it was the same knee she injured and rehabbed before the 1976 Olympics… which got me to this fabulous photo from SI: 1976_Oly(2)

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in Spanish?

AD asks committee to change ruling

Kansas State athletics director John Currie has sent a letter asking that a school committee which had denied Wildcat player Leticia Romero’s request to transfer to reconsider its decision, ESPN’s Outside The Lines has learned.

In the letter, dated May 5, Currie wrote to committee chairman Dr. Pat Bosco that “new information regarding student-athlete Leticia Romero” has become available. It also said that “I believe it is in this student-athlete’s best interest for the committee to reconvene to consider this new information and potentially approve her request for a conditional transfer release.”

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FINALLY!!! This has been a pretty delightfully ridiculous winter/spring, but worth every hard, exasperating, inspiring moment. And getting a chance to walk up a mountain and see these gentlemen?

8969_Cerulean_Warbler_04-28-2012_6

Cerulean Warbler

 

hooded_warbler_0299

Hooded Warbler

Well, that just puts the cherry on top.

Oh, and the W season is about to start, and the Lib are BACK in the Garden and BACK in black… Let us see what magic Trader Bill has wrought.

The start of the season means it’s preview-pa-looza time.

Over at WNBAlien, Richard is back with a vengeance:

WNBA 2014 Last Minute Awards and Season Predictions

MVP

It seems like a relatively short list of candidates this year, compared to usual. Someone like Tina Charles or Tamika Catchings might be in the fold again if their teams do surprisingly well, but otherwise I see five likely possibilities: Elena Delle Donne in Chicago; Angel McCoughtry in Atlanta; Maya Moore in Minnesota; Candace Parker (again) in LA; and Diana Taurasi in Phoenix.

WNBAlien Special – Grading the Trade Catchup: Charles forces her way to New York, Sun make the best of it

The biggest news of the WNBA’s draft night this year had nothing to do with the players being selected.

WNBA 2014 In-Depth Previews: Tulsa Shock

The rebuilding – or just ‘building’, if you don’t count the Detroit variant of the franchise – continues for yet another year in Tulsa. They’ll tell you they’re aiming for the playoffs, but it’s going to be hard work achieving that barring some serious collapses elsewhere in the West.

WNBA 2014 In-Depth Previews: Seattle Storm

I may have been the only person on Earth who predicted the Storm would make the playoffs last season (I kept pointing it out when analysts claimed no one had, because it’s nice to be right once in a blue moon).

WNBA 2014 In-Depth Previews: San Antonio Stars

San Antonio’s season last year was an uphill struggle from the beginning. Sophia Young (now Young-Malcolm after her marriage) tore her ACL before the season even began, and Becky Hammon played a grand total of 12 minutes before suffering the same fate. Any team, shorn of their two veteran leaders and best players, would’ve struggled from that point on. So given that both are now back in the fold, the youngsters have an extra year of experience, and there’s another high draft-pick to add to the mix, they should bounce right back to being the 21-13 team from 2012, right? Well, maybe.

WNBA 2014 In-Depth Previews: Phoenix Mercury

After being the darlings of many experts and fans in preseason a year ago, the Mercury have been lost in the shuffle a little bit this time around.

WNBA 2014 In-Depth Previews: Minnesota Lynx

At some point, there’s not much more to say about the Minnesota Lynx. If you’re reading this, you probably watched them play last year, and the year before, and the year before that – you’ve seen how overwhelming they can be. 

WNBA 2014 In-Depth Previews: Los Angeles Sparks

The Sparks were a very good team last year. They had their flaws, and some ugly nights, but based on points per possession over the course of the regular season they were the second-best offensive team in the league, and the second-best defensive team. Of course, with the way American sports works, their season was defined by the disappointing first-round playoff exit at the hands of Phoenix, rather than any success they’d had before that point. 

WNBA 2014 In-Depth Previews: Washington Mystics

After a couple of embarrassingly terrible years, Mike Thibault took over and made this franchise respectable again last season. He turned over half the roster, created a cohesive and deep team, and just flat-out got them playing again. 

WNBA 2014 In-Depth Previews: New York Liberty

There are lots of positives for the New York Liberty heading into this season….So why does it still feel like this team has a lot more questions than answers circling around it going into 2014?

WNBA 2014 In-Depth Previews: Indiana Fever

While there is turmoil everywhere else, the Indiana Fever, Tamika Catchings and Lin Dunn just keep chugging along, showing up and winning games. That said, 2013 was a difficult season for Indiana.

2014 WNBA In-Depth Previews: Connecticut Sun

Well if we thought Chicago’s offseason was messy, welcome to a team where a bomb went off.

WNBA 2014 In-Depth Previews: Chicago Sky

Last year was meant to be the breakthrough for the Chicago Sky… It’s kind of a shame that the offseason hasn’t managed to carry that positivity through to 2014.

WNBA 2014 In-Depth Previews: Atlanta Dream

Dream fans were starting to get a little worried early in the 2014 offseason. For a squad that had reached the WNBA Finals in three of the last four years, there was still a clear weakness in perimeter shooting that needed to be addressed, and some question marks around their guard corps.

Not to be outdone, Swish Appeal offers:

2014 WNBA Eastern Conference Predictions and 2014 WNBA Western Conference Predicted Standings

2014 WNBA: Michael Cooper era for Dream begins Friday night against Stars

Phoenix Mercury Media Day: Videos, notes, and how this team more self aware than last years incarnation

WNBA Friday Game Preview and Open Thread: Five games start at 7 p.m., three on NBA TV

The .com has Top Storylines of the 2014 WNBA Season and the always insightful 2014 WNBA.com GM Survey 

And what say the ESPN experts? 2014 WNBA season predictions

New to the scene Andrew Lovell writes: Ogwumike ready to start pro career – No. 1 draft pick helps lead young Sun squad into Friday’s season opener

Chiney Ogwumike stood near the free throw line, hands planted firmly on the hips of her 6-foot-4 frame.

Sweat dripped from her braids down to the already-saturated white WNBA headband as she listened to every word leaving Katie Douglas’ mouth.

It wouldn’t be fair to say Ogwumike was angry. But you better believe she wasn’t pleased.

Mechelle says the Dream are favorite in the East

At some point, we might start wondering if the Atlanta Dream have “Alydar” syndrome. For you youngsters, that’s the horse that finished second to Affirmed in all three Triple Crown races in 1978.

Alydar was a very talented colt, good enough that he could have won the Triple Crown himself. It was just his bad luck he happened to be 3 years old at the same time as Affirmed.

Michelle says the Lynx are in front of pack in tough West

The WNBA is at its best in the West again in 2014.

There can be little argument that the power in this league continues to lie in the Western Conference, but there might be some argument about which West team reigns supreme.

Minnesota — its star-studded roster largely intact — is coming off another impressive title run, a sweep in the WNBA Finals against Atlanta last fall that sets up the Lynx as the early favorites to repeat.

And yes, brilliant headline writer: Bird’s return should bolster Storm

Sue Bird is a believer in chemistry. To a point.

“Sure, you have teams that might be less talented that can get farther than a team with more talent because they know how to play together,” Bird said. “But there’s definitely a happy medium. We want to have both.”

As the Seattle Storm retool for a new WNBA season and prepare for a brutal opening stretch, a happy medium would probably suit them just fine.

Another newbie, Melissa Isaacson adds: Stronger Delle Donne ready for tipoff- WNBA’s 2013 Rookie of the Year remained in Chicago, bulked up in offseason

At 6 feet, 7 inches and roughly 300 pounds, Miles Bankston was his usual formidable obstacle in Elena Delle Donne’s path, but common sense and team protocol dictated he not flip the franchise player on her head as she drove toward him 10 days before the season opener.

Last year it would not have mattered because Delle Donne would have avoided contact, team scrimmage or otherwise, and settled for her patented fadeaway jumper.

“This time,” Chicago Sky assistant coach Christie Sides said with a satisfied smile, “she turned the corner, hit the big boy and finished over him.”

A little video: Mechelle & Michelle: WNBA Players To Watch

A little audio: Roundtable previews the WNBA (The roundtable consists of theSeattle Times’ Jayda Evans, Bluestar Media’s Wendy Parker, and Fox Sports’ Cindy Brunson. Dishin & Swishin’s David Siegel is the host.)

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women’s basketball.

As I told my mom, when I first started writing about the game, “Only I could find a job that pays less that being a teaching artist.”

Doesn’t really matter, because both feed my soul.

So, if you wonder what Helen REALLY does, check out the Creative Arts Team’s blog and read all about it.

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as those who knew coach Ginny Doyle and Natalie Lewis mourn and regroup….

A women’s basketball history tweet-scusion brought this back: More Than a Game: 6-On-6 Basketball In IowaIn 1993, the era of girls’ six-on-six basketball in Iowa came to an end. This one-hour IPTV documentary takes a look back at the game and what it meant to generations of girls who played it. Check out the video.

Almost lost is the shuffle: a good move for VCU, and a hiccup for Stony Brook.  We (as in the royal we) at WHB had watched with an eager eye last season as Beth O’Boyle  continued to shift the Stony Brook Seawolves from a “walkover” to “watch out.” Her work caught the eye of a smart AD, and so she’s off to another state. From Hanaa’ Tameez at the Statesman: Former Women’s Basketball head coach O’Boyle prepares for new challenges at VCU

“VCU is an opportunity for me where one of the biggest things is to get closer to home,” O’Boyle said in a phone interview. 

“My family is all in Maryland, less than two hours from here. The opportunity for them to share in my coaching a little bit more and be a closer to them was really a big part of the decision.

“I absolutely love my players at Stony Brook and I couldn’t even imagine not coaching them next year,” she continued. 

“It was extremely difficult and it was really important to me that they hear my decision from me and not on Twitter.”

Speaking of moving: Old Dominion star Shae Kelley transferring to Minnesota (guess the Monarchs don’t have an issue with releasing folks, huh, K-State.)

Speaking of NOT moving, how about Mechelle on K-State’s mean-spiritedness?

Let’s hope ego doesn’t trump common sense and recognizing the decision was wrong. Because it was. I spent a lot of time talking on and off the record to people involved in this decision. I think the university jumped to the conclusion that since she asked to leave, it had to be because a member or members of the former staff was behind it. I interviewed Romero over the phone and in person. I talked to her nearly three hours between the two. I asked her a ton of questions. She is extremely bright, very well-spoken even though she has only been speaking English regularly for less than a year, and she has a very strong personality. I believe her. I think school officials did not take enough time to just *listen* to her. John Currie, the athletic director, did not even meet with her before signing off on the decision to deny her release. He may say that’s because she didn’t ask him directly for the release. She went to the compliance office, because she thought that was where she was supposed to go. Why didn’t the AD reach out to the best player on the team last year and say, “Let’s have a face-to-face meeting about you wanting a release. Let me hear from you why, and let’s talk about it.” Was she not important enough? Was it easier to just deny the release, assume she was a puppet, and then toss her to the appeals committee, which never gave her any reasons for denying her appeal? What more does she have to say? She’s said, “I wasn’t tampered with, but if you are so sure I was, then block ANY school you want to block.” Do they really have to block every D-I school in the United States by denying the release? Does that seem even marginally reasonable?

OPA! UMaine women’s basketball team completes recruiting class with Greek guard Gerostergiou

Guess who I’ll be hanging with in Istanbul this fall? Bruno, Staley, Reeve assist women’s national team (Should I watch out for flying jackets? <g>)

Speaking of the Flying Jacket: From Mechelle: Lynx again the WNBA favorite – League’s 18th season opens Friday; defending champs open at Mystics

The champagne was still wet on coach Cheryl Reeve’s clothes when her mind took a quick look ahead. Her Minnesota Lynx had just won their second WNBA title last October, so players and coaches were celebrating with some bubbly. But Reeve also had the big picture in sight.

Three consecutive appearances in the WNBA Finals? Winning two of those three series? Great … but Reeve knows every WNBA team is still measured against a higher standard set long ago.

It ain’t going to be a walk in the park, though: No Wright, Peters and now no Becky.

From David Woods at the Indy Star: 13 seasons in, Tamika Catchings can still provide for Indiana Fever (how can it possibly be 13?)

Tamika Catchings doesn’t need to be treated as delicately as a museum artifact.

After all, the Indiana Fever forward is coming off a season in which she averaged 17.7 points and 7.1 rebounds a game, comparable to her WNBA career statistics (16.7 and 7.5). Moreover, the Fever recovered from a 1-7 start and reached the Eastern Conference finals for a fourth time in five years.

However, the 34-year-old “Catch” is in the fourth quarter now. She has pledged to play through the 2016 Olympic Games and is looking ahead to a new career in a WNBA front office. She is looking for a successor to her decade-long position as president of the players’ association.

Also from SwishAppeal: Q&A: Chicago Sky coach Pokey Chatman on Elena Delle Donne’s strength, Sylvia Fowles’ injury, and trading Swin Cash and Q&A: Chicago Sky center Sylvia Fowles talks about her injury, rehab, and the loss of Swin Cash

So, yah, it’s only preseason, but have you noticed what Diggins’ been Doin’?

And yah, the Liberty are “Back in Black” (y’all better EARN those jerseys) and have Tina Charles (will the locals come?)…. but how successful are they going to be with Cappie alone at the point?

And the “Live Access” mishegoss begins. It’s breathtaking how much effort the League puts in to MISSING a chance to join the 21st Century and build a happy fan base. BTW, Muffet? The discount code is: WNBALA2014

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From the AP: Ginny Doyle, Natalie Lewis mourned

One was the constant in Richmond women’s basketball, the beloved assistant coach who had been on staff for 15 seasons, remaining through two coaching changes. The other was hardly out of college, always cheerful and willing to help.

Associate head coach Ginny Doyle and director of basketball operations Natalie Lewis were killed Friday in a fiery hot air balloon crash along with the pilot, Daniel T. Kirk, who had 20 years of flying experience and was affectionately known as “Capt. Kirk.” The three were mourned Sunday by friends, family and colleagues alike.

“There’s not a person in this business that doesn’t see Ginny as just a light,” Joanne Boyle, now the coach at Virginia, said of Doyle, who was on her staff with the Spiders from 2002-05. “She was just a light for other people, and when you talk about this business and the genuineness and caring about the kids and what’s best for the student-athletes, she epitomized that.”

From Philly: Former Archbishop Ryan basketball player killed in balloon accident

Doyle was a huge Phillies and Eagles fan, Mooney said, and they often talked about Philadelphia sports and their time at Archbishop Ryan.

After graduating from Ryan, Doyle played basketball at Richmond, where she broke an NCAA record in the early 1990s for consecutive shots made at the free-throw line – 66.

She also beat TV basketball analyst Billy Packer in a free-throw shooting contest after Packer criticized women’s basketball and dismissed Doyle’s record.

From North Carolina: Former ECU women’s basketball coach dies in balloon crash

Justice-Hinson said she remembers watching Doyle play basketball against ECU even before she started working at ECU.

“I remember first watching her play and she was so good. She was almost the kind of player you hated to play against because she was just that good,” Justine-Hinson said.

From Buffalo: Third body found, leaving no hope for Nardin star after hot-air balloon crash

“I’ve known this girl since she was 8 years old. She was one of the elite swimmers to come out of Western New York,” said Scott Vanderzell, Lewis’s former coach with the Tonawanda Titans Swimming Program. “I’m in absolute shock. The world has lost an outstanding young woman.”

 

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Hot air balloon was carrying 2 UR women’s basketball coaches

The Henrico Citizen has learned that two members of the University of Richmond women’s basketball coaching staff were passengers on the hot air balloon that caught fire and crashed last night in Caroline County.

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This Is Why College Athletes Need a Union – The case of a Kansas State basketball player reveals the NCAA’s moral bankruptcy.

Leticia Romero came to Kansas State University from the Canary Islands to play basketball. After Romero’s freshman season—a successful one on the court, in which she averaged more than 14 points per game—the coach that recruited her was fired, and several assistant coaches chose to leave as well. As a consequence, Romero decided she wanted to transfer. The Kansas State athletic department had other ideas.

Mechelle Voepel of ESPN.com has the full story, and it’s yet another infuriating example of how college sports administrators control unpaid NCAA athletes. Kansas State has thus far refused to release Romero from her scholarship, which means she can’t receive financial aid from any other Division I institution for at least a year. The Kansas State athletic department has mostly refused to explain itself, on account of “student-privacy concerns.” That excuse would make more sense if someone had told Romero why the university is blocking her release. The player says she hasn’t gotten any explanation at all.

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It’s a battle between the Rutgers and the Kansas State folks. From Mechelle: Controversy swirls at Kansas State

Leticia Romero sits in a Starbucks, about 4,600 miles away from her home in Spain’s Canary Islands. It’s a gray afternoon, an average April day in Kansas.

For the Kansas State breakout freshman star, this is her first spring in the Little Apple. It also appears to be her last.

A 5-foot-8 guard, her dark hair pulled back in a ponytail, Romero wears a purple Kansas State shirt. Which — all things considered — seems ironic. “This last month has been really frustrating,” Romero said. “And right now, I’m in a position where I don’t know what to do.”

That position happens to be at the center of yet another NCAA-at-a-crossroads issue, as amateurism has become the story of the past college sports year. We’ve seen Oklahoma’s Pastagate, Johnny Football’s autograph scandal and Northwestern players’ attempt at unionizing. But Romero’s situation touches on another hot-button issue — the NCAA’s transfer rules.

In the W:

Ouch: Devereaux Peters out indefinitely

No surprise, but…sadness: Indiana Fever coach Lin Dunn to retire after 2014 season

On the move: Dream add depth with the acquisition of veteran Swin Cash

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I don’t really pay the WNBA pre-season much mind since folks are still abroad and the games are full of names we won’t hear come opening night.

But, this totally stinks: Jeanette Pohlen to Miss 2014 WNBA Season with Torn Achilles Tendon

Hope springs eternal: Revamped Sun, Hoping to Put 2013 Behind, Prepare For Liberty Exhibition

Video: Beyond the Beat – Donovan and Chiney

Noise maker: Follow the leader: Lynx’s Moore becoming more vocal

Video: Old Friends, Together Again (Hartley/Dolson)

The Bun is back in the Land of the Sun and  Training Camp: The “Most Aggressive Thing”

Every team constantly works on their defense throughout the year.

The difference, however, is how they do so.

In Sandy Brondello’s system, working on defense begins with the absolute smallest of details. From the angle the players have their feet planted to how to properly work around pick-and-rolls from various locations on the floor, Brondello wants the Mercury to be aggressive (but smart) on the defensive end.

In Atlanta, it’s Shoni time!

Soon after the Atlanta Dream selected Shoni Schimmel with the No. 8 overall pick in the WNBA draft, coach

Michael Cooper had a conversation with his new guard.

“This is where you’re going to be ‘Showtime’ Schimmel,” Cooper said.

In college news, Kelly’s back! Purdue Women’s Basketball Adds Komara to Women’s Basketball Staff

Good news: UNC women’s basketball coach Hatchell completes treatment

History on display: Beaded dress from Fort Shaw Indian women’s basketball team unveiled at UM

The blue-beaded ceremonial dress has spent the past century in Beverly Braig’s home, reminding her of the woman who wore it during halftime fundraisers at the turn of the 20th century.

While Braig never met her basketball-playing grandmother, Emma Sansaver, her beaded dress has become something of a legend, remembering one of Montana’s greatest athletic achievements and moments of human triumph.

“She was on the world championship Indian women’s basketball team at Fort Shaw that played in the St. Louis World’s Fair,” Braig said. “My hope is that Emma’s dress will cause a conversation that will be a positive influence on Native students, especially women.

And, what! You’ve not read Full Court Quest. For shaaaaaame!

Clay Evans at the Daily Camera writes: What it’s like to be a gay athlete in Boulder

Read literally, some well-known passages in both the Hebrew Bible and New Testament condemn homosexuality (though the Gospel accounts ignore the issue entirely and, curiously, female homosexuality goes unmentioned.) And certainly, homosexuals have been persecuted throughout history (with exceptions; men and boys had sexual relationships in ancient Greece, for example).

But in proportion to other admonitions and calls to action — think, “Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself” — the issue doesn’t seem have the scaffolding to bear the hefty political and religious weight it has assumed in America. That is, no doubt, partly a continuing conservative reaction against changes wrought in the libertine 1960s, and as any minority presses forward, opposition will always rise.

It’s difficult not to think about that larger picture when reading former CU women’s basketball player Kate Fagan’s fast-paced new memoir, “The Reappearing Act: Coming Out as Gay on a College Basketball Team Led by Born-Again Christians.”

What? You’ve not read “The Reappearing Act: Coming Out as Gay on a College Basketball Team Led by Born-Again Christians.” Look deep into my disapproving eyes!

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