So semi-shouted the gentleman Ohio State fan (now from Florida) with a big grin on his face as the fans at Madison Square Garden roared and groaned their way through a double-overtime playoff loss.
Three of the four playoff games have been tight tests as teams shored up their defense, tighten up their offense, and tried to ride through small mistakes that were suddenly magnified to game changers. There simply is no favorite this year – except for the team you’re cheering for – and that, Mr. Silver, is something you should be shouting from the rooftops.
In case you were a classroom teacher-parent-admnistrator-scheduler trying to negotiation the silliness that is this September’s school schedule, here’s what you missed:
Brittney Griner literally rolled into the pregame news conference to announce that she had been named the WNBA’s Defensive Player of the Year for the second year in a row.
She arrived at the platform on a hoverboard, one of those two-wheeled contraptions that looks like a Segway without the handles.
The first time Phoenix Mercury general manager Jim Pitman saw his star center riding around on her new toy, he admitted it made him “very nervous.”
“But I’ve seen other people ride it and she is, by far, the best at it,” Pitman said. “So I feel a little better about that.”
Even in the face of the most publicly tumultuous year of her basketball career, it’s really difficult not to feel good about Griner in any context.
What’s lovely and brilliant about Elena earning the MVP is this simple truth: She’s an extraordinary basketball talent, and we just had no idea if she (and we) would get an opportunity to delight in her skills. For this year, at least, it was a resounding, “Yes!” (Oh, and the Times like one of her skills a lot: Elena Delle Donne’s M.V.P. Year Includes Mastery of Free Throws)
Of course, you’d be foolish to count Indy out. And speaking of counting, Mr. Silver: Indiana Fever among league leaders in sponsorship sales, profitability
New York-Washington – Prince was magnificent, Tina was ferocious, Latta was timely and Lawson modeled the resilience that defined the Mystics. Neither team gave an inch. What. a. game. In the end, as the Times wrote, Once Again, Mystics Have Liberty’s Number
In their first playoff game at Madison Square Garden since 2010, the Liberty treated their fans to a thrilling 50 minutes of basketball, but they now stand one game away from elimination after an 86-83 double-overtime loss on Friday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
In a game that had 23 lead changes, the Mystics had an 82-80 lead and were on the precipice of closing out the Liberty when Mystics guard Tayler Hill was fouled with 62 seconds remaining.
William Rhoden wrote: Liberty Relying on Epiphanny Prince to Return to Her Old Ways – but first, they need to hit their free throws.
Leading up to the game, Gene at WaPo wrote: Mystics count on balance in WNBA playoffs, without a star to guide them
Charged with rebuilding the Washington Mystics, Coach-General Manager Mike Thibault arrived in December 2012 at a considerable disadvantage because of some horrible luck. In the WNBA draft lottery three months earlier, the Mystics, with the league’s worst record, had drawn the fourth pick and eventually missed out on Brittney Griner, Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins.
Without a franchise player, Thibault began assembling a team in which every member of the roster would be asked to contribute. The result has been three straight playoff appearances, including this year as the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
WTOP offered: Mystics bring local flavor to WNBA playoff run
As we wind toward October, many Washington sports fans may feel disillusioned about the “P” word. But there’s a playoff-bound team here in the District, one with a chance to break a title drought with a pair of area natives guiding the way.
That team, if you haven’t been paying attention, is the Washington Mystics, who begin their quest for a first-ever WNBA title Friday in New York. And while they received big news this week about their new future home across the Anacostia, they have a chance right now to ensure they have a banner to hang when they open that building in 2018.
If the Mystics can win this year, they’ll do so with two Alexandria, Virginia, natives in the backcourt, rising defensive star Tierra Ruffin-Pratt and one of the league’s icons, Kara Lawson.
After Trader Bill earned COY honors (though, as my seatmate suggested, not coach of the last 20 seconds of the game) honors, Mechelle reflected: Laimbeer really was the best option for New York to succeed
The day the Liberty announced they were not bringing him back, I spoke with Laimbeer, and he didn’t have anything negative to say about the organization. He didn’t sound upset or angry.
He explained how the former Detroit Shock organization was different from New York. In Detroit, Laimbeer felt that as coach and general manager, he had a lot of autonomy and answered to only one person: the president and CEO of the Pistons and Shock.
With Madison Square Garden, which owns the Liberty, Laimbeer thought there were a lot of cooks in the kitchen. Although, that’s my phrase for it. The phrase he used was, “They’ve got a lot of moving pieces.”
My biggest frustration with the Liberty, who are an original WNBA franchise, had always been that there were people who had power — at least in name — with the organization but were not entirely engaged with the Liberty.
The AP’s Melissa Murphy offered this: Liberty Shot-Blocker Stokes Contender for Rookie of Year
Stokes has transitioned from defensive role player for the three-time defending champion Huskies to multifaceted spark plug off the bench for the resurgent Liberty, who face the Washington Mystics on Friday in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
“She came in and played like a veteran from the start,” said New York coach Bill Laimbeer. “I think that’s a UConn upbringing, they’ve played so many big games. Her defense has been spectacular for us all season long.”
“This team has great leaders that know how to respond,” Moore said. “Everybody had great focus going into the locker room. People were speaking up, talking about what was going on and everybody was saying things that were great – very helpful – so going into the second half with the right mindset, knowing what we want to focus on as well as our energy – it worked out for us.”
Pregame, Pat Borzi wrote: The Lynx’s title hopes confront a much-improved WNBA
Look closely at the royal blue sneakers the Lynx will be wearing for their Western Conference semifinal series against the Los Angeles Sparks. Seimone Augustus’s number 33 appears on the back of most. Augustus swears up and down this was a mistake, which is interesting, considering Augustus ordered the shoes from Nike herself.
“Nike sent over the ID and told me to ID them,” Augustus said, laughing after this detail was pointed out to her. “I figured I’d ID mine and they would kind of put everyone else’s on. They decided to put 33 on the back of everybody’s.”
In one of the WNBA’s cooler traditions, Lynx players break out identical brightly-colored sneakers for the playoffs. The color choice falls to Augustus, a nod to her seniority (she’s been with the Lynx longer than anyone, since 2006) and impeccable fashion sense. For a team beset by injuries and the general upheaval from two major trades, having even a sneaker order go wrong seemed so apropos to an off-kilter season that Augustus and her teammates laughed it off.
L.A. needs to stop the turnovers, or else….
In other news:
Australia: Carrie Graf: ‘Barefoot with a basketball and a smile, that’s all that mattered’
It’s 35 degrees, the humidity is overwhelming and chooks are scurrying across the court as Carrie Graf coaches village kids in Micronesia.
For the veteran Canberra Capitals mentor, this is well outside her comfort zone.
With seven WNBL championships and an Olympic bronze medal to her name, Graf is used to ordering the likes of Lauren Jackson about. But a chance to give back to a sport which has given her so much convinced Graf to take her young family on an adventure into the unknown.
Cool! (Though I think the headline should read “against”) FSU Women’s Basketball Shooting 24-Hours of Free Throws for Cancer
Good news for the Red Foxes: Marist’s Jarosz to return to women’s basketball team
Even before an important step Tuesday toward the start of the college basketball season in two months, FGCU women’s basketball coach Karl Smesko already has been encouraged by fall workouts…he’s already seen enough to feel good about FGCU’s chances to expand on its perennial success and last season’s first-ever NCAA tournament victory.
From the Huffington Post: Here’s Why You Should Be Paying Attention To The WNBA – “How is it a great time to be a female athlete if you pick and choose who you leave out?” (A Player’s Tribune recap) and How Reshanda Gray Went From South Central LA To The WNBA – “If it wasn’t for where I come from, I wouldn’t be here right now.”
When the WNBA playoffs tip off on Thursday, the Atlanta Dream will be absent in the hunt for a championship. Yet while her team may not have notched a playoff berth, this season caps an unlikely journey from South Central Los Angeles to professional basketball for rookie forward Reshanda Gray.
Raised in the rough LA neighborhood, Gray, 22, shared a one-bedroom apartment with seven other brothers and sisters as well as a difficult upbringing.
“My life as girl growing up, it wasn’t always pretty. I didn’t get the chance to live a normal, happy childhood. There were always challenges,” Gray, choking up, told The Huffington Post in a recent interview.
“Where I’m from, not many people make it out. So it was hard to find that one little push to see something outside of South Central LA,” she said.
Killing time before the games? Ponder: WHO IS THE BEST [U.S.] [“Modern-era”] WOMEN’S BASKETBALL PLAYER OF ALL TIME?
espnW recently crowned the best female athlete ever. Which got us thinking: Who are the best women’s basketball players in history? Mechelle Voepel and Michelle Smith of espnW, and ESPN’s Rebecca Lobo and Carolyn Peck each ranked their players. We counted the votes and seeded the players accordingly. Now it’s up to you to determine who advances and who is eliminated. Click through the matchups, read Voepel’s take on each player, and be sure to vote in the poll at the bottom of each page — or hit Twitter and vote for your favorite players with the hashtag #WBest(player’s last name). Voting for the first round will run through Monday, Sept. 21.
Might I suggest some write-in votes? From Teresa Edwards.