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Archive for August, 2016

CONN @ ATL 3ET NBATV
CHI @ DAL 4:30ET League Pass
SEA @ MINN 7ET ESPN2
SA @ WASH 7ET ESPN3
LA @ PHX 9ET ESPN2

Yesterday: Washington toyed with Indiana, and then stomped’em. The Indy Star asks: Will the Fever figure it out in time?

Tamika Catchings, she gets it. She’s one of the all-time WNBA greats, far and away the best player to ever don an Indiana Fever uniform. There’s a reason she has four Olympic gold medals.

Stephanie White gets it, too. There’s a reason she’ll soon be coaching one of the country’s elite college basketball programs.

Unfortunately for the Indiana Fever, it takes more than one great player and one great coach to make a great team.

Welcome: Dallas Wings sign point guard Tiffany Bias through rest of season

Love the optimism: Commentary: Bay Area needs own WNBA team

Love the respect: Tennessee to wear helmet stickers honoring Pat Summitt

Flashback: Ralph Wiley: An athlete with the freedom to speak

Young people who major in sociology ask questions about historical matters like the 1968 Olympic Games, or the 1936 Olympic Games, or the 1972 Olympic Games, or the Trail of Tears, or any of a thousand atrocities, and the many wars that continue to occur. Young people who major in sociology are given pause once they learn and process the bloody history of this or any other “civilized” country.

We live, love, learn. Even if we are athletes. Imagine that. To say athletes and sports are precluded from this process is, in fact, insulting, that a Tommie or a Toni Smith are like cattle and should just give their milk and moo and shut up and not have their own feelings. We should be proud of them. What they are doing is actually an act of love.

But we’re not proud of them.

Flashforward: Ethiopian Olympian Who Made Daring Protest Has Not Returned Home

Feyisa Lilesa, the marathon runner who made an anti-government protest gestureduring the Olympic Games, has not returned to Ethiopia. Reporters aboard the Ethiopian team’s return flight from Rio yesterday (Aug 24) said Lilesa was not on the plane.

Sports officials did not mention the 26-year-old’s name during a welcome ceremony where government officials greeted the team and decorated them with garlands. Ethiopian state media also omitted mention of him in news reports of the athletes’ return. Lilesa’s agent, Federico Rosa, said the athlete had stayed on in Rio but that he does not know Lilesa’s plans.

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So, THAT’s not how the Sparks and Lynx wanted to get out of the post-Olympics gate….

LA went up to Seattle and got squeezed by the Storm, 79-72. Stewie struggled, but Bird picked up the slack, hitting 5-7 from behind the arc.

“It’s surprising because we didn’t have the best offensive night. It was all about defense for us,” said guard Jewell Loyd, who finished with 15 points, seven assists and five steals with just one turnover.

Nneka continued her hot play, but it wasn’t enough.

“I think we sat around for six weeks and everybody told us how good we were and I think we softened up,” said Sparks Head Coach Brian Agler.

Maybe Excelle should play the lotto (Connecticut Sun: a team on the rise, playoffs in sight) ’cause the Lynx got stymied by the Sun (and Moore’s foul trouble)  in Connecticut, 84-80.

“We have to grind,” Sun coach Curt Miller said. “We don’t out talent anyone. There’s a reason that four of those players (on the Lynx) are on the Olympic team. We aren’t going to out-talent anyone in this league, but we have to out work and out tough.”

No one on the Lynx is pointing to the Olympics as an excuse:

“In the end, it’s probably a wash,” said Reeve, when asked before the Lynx’s 84-80 loss to the Sun if fatigue or lack of sharpness would prevail. “Any advantage they may have from being off, full-rested, maybe honing some skills, the group that was over in Rio is in game shape and has that rhythm of playing a game. That’s something you can’t simulate when you’re off.

In San Antonio, the Liberty kept their focus and dispatched the Stars, 84-77, thanks to the sweetness that is (MIP) Sugar. Hello, playoffs!

Elena Delle Donne brought the 34-point boom to Chicago as the Sky took down Atlanta, 90-82.

“We took care of the basketball, and I think the key was we married that to good offensive execution and attacked and got to the free throw line,” said Sky coach Pokey Chatman. “I think that comfort allowed us to weather the storm when we were down by seven and then up by eight. 

“It was nice to see that, and we’ll need it as we head on to Dallas.”

Speaking of Dallas, the eternal Pierson’s 23 (and 4000th) couldn’t help the Wings against Penny “sore throat” Taylor and the rest of the Merc.

Phoenix Mercury players won a combined four medals at the Rio Olympics, and more importantly, may have found the defense and chemistry that was missing before the Olympic break.

Despite falling behind by 11 early against Dallas on Friday night, the Mercury hammered the Wings 98-72 before 11,396 at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Phoenix’s most one-sided win of the season came against a team it went 0-3 against pre-Rio, including a triple overtime loss June 18 after leading 75-59 going into the fourth quarter.

Washington Post: Mystics and WNBA are back from Olympic break, but LaToya Sanders got no rest

Aussie, Aussie, ello! Mystics Sign Leilani Mitchell as Bria Hartley starts planning for a munchkin.

Slam Online: WATCH: WNBA Super20

The historic 20th WNBA season has been one for the record books. The Lynx and Sparks got off to a blazing hot start, the W has faced controversy for trying to police its players and the basketball has never been better.

With all the talent and storylines around the League, the final part of the regular season and the playoffs provide a guaranteed storybook ending.

Get hype for the rest of the 2016 campaign, picking up again tonight, with the video above, featuring highlights from the first part of the summer.

Also: Nike & WNBA Star Elena Delle Donne Donate Sneakers To Delaware Newborns

Meanwhile:

Doug Bruno savors experience with USA women’s basketball team

Baylor women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey donates to Louisiana hometown in wake of flooding

Vermont women’s basketball cancels game at UNC over transgender bathroom law

“The decision to cancel to our Dec. 28 women’s basketball game at North Carolina was made as a result of concerns over the HB2 law, which prevents transgender people from using government-run bathrooms based on their gender identity,” University of Vermont athletic director Jeff Schulman said Wednesday. “We strive very hard to create an inclusive climate for our students and staff in which they all can feel safe, respected, and valued. It would be hard to fulfill these obligations while competing in a state with this law, which is contrary to our values as an athletic department and university.”

WATN? Rodrigo is new grad assistant for Georgia basketball

WATN? Mo’ne Davis shifts her drive to the basketball court: The Little League World Series pioneer two years later

Davis, 15, is heading into her sophomore year of high school at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. She dreams of a career in the WNBA, and she knows the journey begins with the process of college recruitment. That’s why Davis has made the decision to forgo high school basketball this season – after representing her school as an eighth-grader and a freshman – and exclusively play AAU with the Philly Triple Threat team, where she can go head to head with the best talent in the nation.

“I made the decision because it was time to start getting out there in front of college coaches and showing my improvement over the next two years,” Davis said.

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Is this still you, Doug? WNBA President Wants Teams to Have Community Conversations

Lisa Borders and WNBA players are ready to move forward.

With the league resuming play this weekend after a month-long Olympic break, Borders outlined to The Associated Press a plan to have teams and players hold conversations in the community similar to what Carmelo Anthony and the U.S. Olympic basketball teams did in Los Angeles last month. The WNBA president said that was a solid blueprint for what can be done in each WNBA city.

.com: How I Spent My Olympic Break – WNBA Style

The WNBA Olympic break wasn’t necessarily time off for players, as the work never truly stops. Most athletes spent their time working out and training in preparation of the final stretch of the season.

Besides the on-court activities and time spent in the gym, players also bonded with each other through team dinners, community service, charity events, and group outings.

Here are the best social media posts displaying everything from basketball clinics to practices, USA Olympic viewing parties to beach selfies, and everything in between.

Vice: How US Women’s Basketball Defined Gold Standard in Dominant Run Through Rio

With teams this great and representative, it is tempting to let the significances of the accomplishment overtake the thing itself. Team USA’s roll through Rio was so expected that, watching it, you could catch yourself missing the actual play, contextualizing in real time. But while this squad was as dominant as any in recent memory, it was also a pure blast. For two weeks, the U.S. women played the rarest kind of basketball: steady, soulful, virtuosic, fiery, total.

Definitely Doug: Olympics done, WNBA ready for sprint to the finish

There should be quite the sprint to the finish during the league’s final weeks, starting Friday through Sept. 18.

“Very excited to get the back end of the season going,” WNBA President Lisa Borders said. “You think about the format changes, top eight teams make the playoffs, doesn’t matter what your geography is, it matters what your record is.”

Only 4 1-2 games separate fourth place and 11th after the league changed its playoff format this season to get rid of conferences. The top eight teams will make the playoffs.

Mechelle: How will the second part of the WNBA season play out?

You wonder if the WNBA participants in the Summer Olympics feel like they’ve just starred in a multi-episode run of the old “Super Friends” cartoon — especially the romp-to-the-gold U.S. team members — and now are headed to an episodic run of “Survivor.”

Blue Star: After Rio Olympics, WNBA looks to seize basketball spotlight

Forbes: Will The WNBA Strike Gold After The Rio Olympics?

WATCH: WNBA announces the “Super20” ad campaign

As Fred Williams approaches 100 career wins, Wings coach’s legacy is that of superstars influenced

Sometimes the quiet Williams allows his team to scrimmage without pause. But on this particular day even a made basket does not guarantee his team, in the middle of a six-game losing streak, will be above reproach. He reminds his players that it’s not a good shot if a couple dribbles here or a pass there can create a better one.

“You have to call them out on it,” Williams says afterwards with a knowing smile on his face. “If you just let them keep doing it then they’re just going to keep doing it. Bad habits.”

CNBC: Olympic gold medalist and WNBA MVP: How burnout actually helped my career

Slam Online: Professional and Successful: Bill Laimbeer has found success both in the NBA as a player and WNBA as a head coach.

SLAM: As the Liberty currently have 18 wins, what is this team’s focus for the remainder of the season?

BL: Execution, since we work on it every day and try to focus on it. We need to grind out as many wins as possible. We know there’s a couple of magic numbers, that we need to hit in order to secure certain seeding, so that’s our goal.

Syracuse.com: Breanna Stewart, her jersey No. 1 in WNBA sales, transitions from Rio to Seattle

On what she learned from the Olympic experience about basketball and winning:

“I think I learned a lot. Being able to be on that team with (Diana Taurasi) and Sue (Bird), who have obviously been there awhile, but also on a team with 11 other great players. They continued to put the emphasis on putting your country before everything else. We weren’t caught up in anything else except winning and representing our country and just knowing how big that was on the Olympic level.”

Jim Fuller, New Haven Register: UConn great Breanna Stewart: “Nothing compares to the Olympics.”

.com: What To Watch For: WNBA Returns With Five Games On Friday Night

After a five week hiatus, the WNBA’s historic 20th season resumes on Friday night, with a big five game slate throwing us right back into the fire. Here’s what to watch for as the WNBA gets back in gear.

Minnesota Lynx at Connecticut Sun – 7 PM EST

Fresh off a gold-medal winning performance down in Rio, the Lynx’s four Olympians will tip off the WNBA’s return to action with their 7 PM EST meeting with the Connecticut Sun.

In the two teams’ only meeting this year, the Sun scored a surprising 93-89 victory in overtime, handing the Lynx one of the just four losses they suffered before the Olympic break. Maya Moore was spectacular in the loss, dropping a season-high 40 points and grabbing 8 rebounds.

Bienvenido: Minnesota Lynx Re-Sign Guard Anna Cruz

Merhaba: LaToya Sanders rejoins Mystics, Jamie Weisner waived

Ouch: Ranking the Mystics’ roster based on under-performance

Other writers have made the point that the Mystics don’t have enough talent. I think it is worth examining a little closer in terms of expectation. 

What I have done is rank the team according to ‘disappointment’ this season. 

For me, “disappointment” is a metric. I will provide more numbers before the Mystics get back to business in another post on how to define disappointment, but the relative term works for now.

Dallas News: Scouting Wings-Mercury: Dallas hopeful Glory Johnson returns to end losing streak

Though the Wings have sunk in the standings of late, they are 3-0 this season against the Mercury (10-14). They will try to complete that sweep in the first game after the month-long Olympic break.

Excelle: WATCH: US Rowing women’s eight celebrates, responds to Diana Taurasi

LaChina Robinson wraps up the Olympic break  with her ‘Around the Rim’ podcast — Olympic victories and guests Julie Foudy and Teresa Edwards.

When you stick to your principals: Vermont women’s basketball team cancels game at UNC over HB2 law

Where will they be? Mistie Bass and Eddie Praley Named Graduate Assistants for #IUWBB

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The pause before the return

.com: 6 Facts For 6 Gold Medals

This afternoon in Rio, the U.S. Women’s National Team won their historic sixth straight gold medal by defeating Spain 101-72. In honor of the incredible feat, here are six facts you need to know about the 2016 team.

Minneapolis Star: Sacrifices, bonds made U.S. women’s basketball journey special, not the routs

After another blowout victory and another medal ceremony for the U.S.women’s basketball team, Maya Moore was asked whether such dominance hurts her sport.

“When I find a really good piece of fabulous cuisine, I don’t say, ‘It’s too good,’ ” Moore said. “I say, ‘Give me another piece.’ ”

SB Nation: The lies USA women’s basketball tells itself to be the best team in the world

There was nobody close to Team USA women’s basketball. They won their average game by 37 points, with a “scare” coming in a semifinal matchup against France that they only won by 19. They rampaged through the competition to their sixth consecutive gold medal, extending their Olympic win streak to a preposterous 49 games.

It’s hard to find a storyline in dominance besides dominance, but I noticed something strange about Team USA: They kept lying to me. They kept saying things any rational person would know was false, in an attempt to make it seem as if the competition was close. I don’t know whether they believed the things they were saying, or whether they were just following the party line.

But they kept lying, and I think these lies helped fuel their unparalleled brilliance.

Yahoo: US women ready to dominate basketball for 20 more years

There’s a heritage of leadership passed along from one golden generation to the next, a legacy of success rivaling anything ever seen at the Games.

“This team will try to pass on to the next group of players just people leading by example,” said US guard Lindsay Whalen.

“We just try to do as well as we can and pass it on, kind of just the culture and the way we approach every game.”

.com: #RoadToRio Angel McCoughtry Recap

Times-Picayune: Watch Seimone Augustus in tears over gold medal: ‘Baton Rouge, this is for you’

Q13 Fox: Commentary: Sue Bird deserves a fifth gold medal – for making Seattle proud

As the Rio Olympics come to an end, I’d rather not give any more attention to the baffling Ryan Lochte incident or any of the other athlete controversies that made headlines this month – including the story of Mongolian coaches stripping off their clothes to protest a wrestling match earlier today, which is actually kind of funny.

Instead, why not celebrate the local athlete who made history – and has always been a role model off the court: Storm point guard Sue Bird.

Cool! Danielle Page becomes Nebraska basketball’s first Olympic medalist

AP’s Brian Mahoney: Go USA! Go Coach? For US basketball fans, Olympics a change

You love them now, right America?

Mike Krzyzewski and Geno Auriemma may have their haters in college basketball, but this is the Olympics. This is when patriotic pride trumps school spirit, when there is no Tar Heel blue, only red, white and blue.

So all those fans chanting “USA! USA!” should be shouting “Go Coach K!” 

“Well, I hope they’re saying that. I’m not sure all of them are completely saying that,” Krzyzewski said with a laugh. “But I would hope that most people are.”

BTW:
Catching Up With the 1996 Olympic Team: Nikki McCray
Catching Up With the 1996 Olympic Team: Tara VanDerveer

From Val Ackerman: Where are the female leaders in sports?

After spending eight years (from 2006–14) as the U.S. representative for men’s and women’s basketball on the central board of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), I can attest that Lapchick’s characterization of Olympic board rooms as an “exclusive club of men” is largely true. Based on my experiences, here’s a formula to improve gender inclusion as the glow of Rio fades and the Olympic world turns its attention to Tokyo 2020 and beyond.

1. Acknowledge the facts.

Lapchick’s exhaustive report, which included more than 8,500 data points on the gender makeup of IFs and their zone and national affiliates across the Olympic spectrum, is an unequivocal barometer and should be required reading for anyone operating in the international sports realm. Hopefully, Lapchick or other researchers will build on this baseline data and produce follow-up reports so that improvement (or the lack of it) can be gauged.

Withdrawal? Ask Excelle: What to Watch this Week: League action returns from Olympic breaks; big slate of college events

Swish Appeal: Ice, Ice, baby and WNBA Power rankings

Interesting: Atlanta Dream on the move – The Atlanta Dream will have a new home court for the next two seasons.

LA Times: Women’s pro leagues like the WNBA and NWSL seek post-Olympics bounce, but it’s no slam dunk

Post-Olympics, those 30 elite female athletes will return to their professional leagues, the WNBA and the National Women’s Soccer League. And millions of viewers who watched them on TV at the Olympics will largely forget and move on.

Women’s professional sports continue to garner only a tiny fraction of the attention, TV ratings, advertising and salaries that men’s sports generate in the U.S.

Might I suggest the WNBA and its teams identify who from their community actually wrote about the Olympics (not even asking if they sent a reporter), drop them a “thank you” note and then invite them to attend a game.

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Make it a (Golden) six pack

FoxSports

82016-Olympics-Geno-Auriemma-PI-AV.jpgReporter Doug: Good as gold: US women win 6th straight Olympic hoops title

Geno Auriemma and Diana Taurasi shared a long, emotional embrace. Mission accomplished.

Teresa Walker, AP, Olympic gold puts Griner in exclusive company

Griner also plans to keep this gold medal very close and in a place of honor.

“This is going up in my house. I don’t have any medals, any jerseys, I don’t have anything up at my house,” Griner said. “This is going up my house. This will be the only thing up in my house.”

Johnette Howard, ESPN: U.S. sets gold bar even higher, they’re ‘not going anywhere’

They kept hearing they’ve been routing everyone because their competition is getting worse, and they kept politely trying to tell us we have it all wrong. “It’s a little bit disrespectful, really,” said Diana Taurasi, one of the stars of the U.S. women’s Olympic basketball team. And she’s right. The lazy take is the American team met little to no resistance on the way to its sixth straight gold medal Saturday, when it steamrollered Spain, 101-72, the same way it flattened everyone else it played in this eight-game tournament.

But the accurate explanation is the level of basketball the American women now play is as good, maybe better, than it has ever been.

Sam Amick, USAToday: USA women win sixth consecutive Olympic basketball gold medal

Even for fans who may not enjoy the WNBA action that all 12 of these women will now resume, theirs is the rare super team that more than lives up to the billing. The chemistry issues that dogged their U.S. male counterparts during these Games did not apply to the women, Auriemma blending the best in a seamless and collectively selfless way. Taurasi is nothing short of electric, having spent the past 16 years on the global stage showcasing the rare combination of play and personality that makes her such the entertainer.

It was all there to see in the finale.

Carl Ademac, SNY: Taurasi, Bird earn fourth Olympic gold; Auriemma wins second

“It’s just special,” Team USA forward Maya Moore said. “It’s one thing to do something unexpected, but it’s another thing to do what you’re expected to do — year after year, game after game, quarter after quarter. And, this team didn’t get complacent. “I think that’s a sign of a true champion, someone who loves the game and plays for the right reasons. Every quarter that we stepped on the court, we respected the game, we respected each other and we did everything we needed to do to deserve this gold.”

Swish Appeal: Team USA’s Golden Girls: Bird, Catchings and Taurasi

“Not many people have an opportunity to play in the Olympics… One, let alone two, three and four,” said Catchings.

“I’m blessed for all the opportunities I’ve had and all the lives that I’ve been able to impact by using the platform of basketball.”

Teddy Greenstein: Chicago Tribune: Sky’s Elena Delle Donne on first Olympic gold medal: ‘Somebody pinch me’

The 6-foot-5 Delle Donne played 16 nearly flawless minutes Saturday, hitting all three field-goal attempts, including one off the glass after taking contact. She drew some oohs when she swatted a shot by Spain’s tall and talented Astou Nador.

But asked for her favorite individual highlight, she replied: “A couple of those 3s Diana Taurasi was hitting. I just had to laugh and shake my head. I idolized her growing up, and to be able to play alongside her and see some of that craziness that I saw when I was a young kid falling in love with the game, that was really cool for me.”

Sporting News: With sixth straight gold, USA women deliver a tough message: ‘We’re not going anywhere’

It was more domination from an Auriemma team, which has gotten to be all too familiar on the college level, where his Connecticut teams have won nine national titles, including the last four in a row.

“When I got asked to do this, I thought, I must be crazy,” Auriemma said. “I go from a college program where it’s, ‘You’re bad for basketball because you win too much.’ Now I go to a program that, people are going to say, ‘You’re bad for international basketball because you win too much.’ The parallels are unbelievable. At the end of each four-year cycle, it’s not like you had to do a lot with players like this, but when you add up all four years, you look back and say, ‘That was a lot.’”

Yahoo Sports: With another gold, U.S. women’s basketball adds to legacy as Olympics’ most dominant team

U.S. rowers have now won 11 straight world or Olympic titles in women’s eight after finishing two seconds ahead of Great Britain on August 13. The U.S. women’s gymnastics team captured team gold and might have swept all three spots on the all-around podium had more than two athletes from each country been allowed to compete. And the U.S. women’s water polo team beat its six opponents in Rio by an average of 6.8 goals, surpassing its mark in 2012  when it tied Spain in pool play and survived three close knockout-round matches to win gold.

Impressive as those achievements are, none of those teams can match the vice grip the U.S. women’s basketball team has put on its sport for more than two decades now. The last 25 Olympic victories the Americans have claimed have each come by 10 or more points and the average margin in those games has been 37.

“They’re so good, so good,” Spanish center Laia Palau said.

Added Spanish guard Silva Dominguez, “To play against them, you’ve got to be perfect. If you’re not, you can’t win.”

LA Times: US women’s basketball team isn’t too good for its own good, it’s simply the best ever

It wasn’t until the Americans stepped on the medal stand, some fighting back tears, others simply beaming, that the several thousand fans remaining all seemed to realize the magnitude of witnessing arguably the greatest women’s team ever. They broke into a prolonged standing ovation that heartened an American team weary of hearing how they weren’t any fun.

“You guys are here now, we’re doing something,” said Taurasi, staring into a media crowd with a shrug. “Basketball is really important to a lot of people in the United States and no one takes it more seriously than the women. We play year-round, we sacrifice a lot of things to make sure we bring this home, and you know what? It’s OK, we’re happy.”

Today’s Fastbreak: Team USA women cruise to gold medal victory

The team wreaked havoc throughout the entire showcase with its closest win coming by 19 points in a win over France. The women’s club is certainly in a tier of its own. Via NBC Olympics, here’re the updated records that Team USA either shattered or set following Saturday’s contest:

  • Extending their Olympic winning streak to 49 games
  • Becoming the first team to score 100 points in four straight games
  • Recording 40 assists in one game to break their own record of 36 assists in a contest, which they set earlier in the 2016 tournament (the previous record was 36, set by the Soviet Union in 1976)
  • Scoring the most points in U.S. women’s Olympic basketball history with 121
  • Setting the U.S. record for biggest point differential with a 65-point win over Senegal

Jeff Zillgitt, USAToday: 

Catchings, Taurasi and Bird join Lisa Leslie and Teresa Edwards as the only U.S. basketball players to win that many gold medals.

“The players that you’re with, that’s what makes it so special,” Catchings said. “Winning the gold is awesome. But when we think about the sweat and tears and hard work, looking to the right, looking to left on the podium, seeing the flag go up, hearing the national anthem being played, it never gets old.”

Catchings, Bird and Taurasi will be forever linked to one of the greatest and most dominant runs in Olympic history amid a streak of six consecutive golds for the U.S.

Blue Star: Team USA Women’s Basketball Team creates Huge Gap with the Rest of the World

The scores of the United States’ women’s basketball games in this Olympics have been eye opening.

Team USA dismantled Spain, 101-72, here Saturday at Carioca Arena I, cruising to a sixth consecutive gold medal in a game that looked like just another mismatch against the best team in Europe. The United States averaged 102.1 points in this tournament, just short of the record 102.4 points the great 1996 team averaged, winning all eight of its games by an average of nearly 40 points.

Excelle: USA Basketball’s sisterhood of dominance only getting better

The strength with which USA Basketball turned away the Spain challenge in Saturday’s gold medal game—and the speed, with this one over by the second quarter—provided plenty of time for observers to consider the legacy of this 2016 team as well as what comes next.

There are a pair of ideas that are difficult to reconcile on these two fronts. The more impressed one is with the 2016 USA Basketball team, how singular their accomplishments and uniquely unmatched their diversity of talent, the easier it is to fret about what comes next for the Americans.

Barry Svrluga, Washington Post: U.S. women’s basketball team is unmatchable, on the court and at these Games

What must it be like to compete against these women, the dozen who make up the U.S. basketball team? They are tall and strong, quick and agile, skilled and fierce. These Rio Olympics have been defined, understandably, by Katie Ledecky and Simone Biles, by Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps. The truth: No athletes here are more dominant and peerless than the American women who play basketball.

“I’m in awe,” guard Seimone Augustus said, “all the time when I look around — at everyone.”

USA Basketball: U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team Claims Sixth Straight Olympic Gold With Dominating 101-72 Win Over Spain

“Obviously it was an incredible tournament for us,” said USA head coach Geno Auriemma. “From the very first game that we played to today, with very few exceptions I thought we played basketball at a really high level. I can’t say enough about our players. How quickly they’ve come together, how much they’ve been able to accomplish in less than a month that we’ve been together. 

“It wasn’t as easy as sometimes it looked, these last two games especially with France and today against Spain,” Auriemma continued. “These are very good teams that we’re playing, and you could see that it wasn’t just a cake walk, that it was a struggle. Then finally, because of our depth and because of the experience on our team, we were able to separate ourselves. But the way we played, we respected our opponents and we respected the game itself, we earned a lot of respect from a lot of people around the world, and I’m really proud of that.”

Photos and additional quotes:

Reflect on Athens in 2004 when you began this Olympic journey:

Bird: It seems like a really long time ago and in some ways it is. We knew the three of us were on that team to learn, to see what it meant to represent the United States at an Olympic event and to take the torch and run with it. We were really lucky to have the older players, the veteran players on that team, show us. Both with their play and with their words. We saw Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes, Dawn Staley, Tina Thompson, these are Hall of Fame players, we saw them not care about points, not care about rebounds, not care about any stat on the state sheet and only care about the gold medal. And we learned from that. I think hopefully we’ve done them proud as well, because that’s exactly how we played in each of the Olympics that we’ve been in. We just go out there and try to win.

The Future, from Reporter Doug: US women look to keep Olympic basketball dominance goingUS women look to keep Olympic basketball dominance going

Brittney Griner, Breanna Stewart and Elena Delle Donne won gold medals in their Olympic debuts. Throw in two-time gold medalists Maya Moore, Tina Charles and Angel McCoughtry – who should all be back in 2020 – and there is another strong nucleus to build on for the Tokyo Games.

“I feel really confident about it,” Bird said of the future of the women’s program. “There are some question marks with the point guard spot, but I don’t think it will be an issue. They have plenty of time to figure it out. The three youngsters on this team, second timers, there’s such a large amount of talent in our country. We push each other every summer in the WNBA and show each other what it takes.”

Boston Globe: What’s left for Geno Auriemma to conquer?

“I wouldn’t trade all the winning for anything in the world, obviously,” Auriemma said. “You do have to keep somewhat reinventing yourself. You don’t ever want to just roll in there and say, ‘Well, this is what we’ve done and it’s been good enough, so let’s keep doing it this way.’ You’re always trying to stay current and stay above the competition because the more you win, the harder they work.”

Ken Davis, Today’s U Sports: One more golden moment for Taurasi, Bird and Geno

Sue Bird swears she was not star struck the first time she met coach Geno Auriemma. It was 1998 and she was a junior at Christ The King High School in New York, where she would win two state championships before beginning her college career at the University of Connecticut.

Bird was in Auriemma’s office after a UConn-Pittsburgh game and she wasn’t one bit nervous. That’s her story. And all these years later, Bird is sticking to it.

LATE ADD ON from Dan Bickley, Arizona Central w/ a couple, of great quotes (h/t ):

The postgame scene was profound. Mercury center Brittney Griner held out her medal, saying, “I’m addicted to this now.” She hugged head coach Geno Auriemma so hard that she actually lifted him off the ground.

“It was a long way (up for him),” Griner said. “I said, ‘You OK there? Did you get a little woozy?’ ”

***

Taurasi was the engine and leader of the entire outfit, making 33 3-pointers during the tournament. She hit two in succession on Saturday that broke the game open. She gave a Michael Jordan-like shrug after another. And she felt robbed by the refs who cost her a sixth trey.

“All I shoot is 3s,” she said. “Why would he give me a two? He said I touched (the line) with my nose.”

Lee has some nice quotes from Spain.

Julie Foudy: The Women of Team USA. Lordy – imagine what would happen if US universities were actually in compliance with Title IX (as it applies to athletics.)?

BTW: HUGE shout out to Spain and Serbia – awesome tournament and awesome commitment. Here’s to the continued support of their federations.

FIBA: Milovanovic: “This means the world to us” and Milica Dabovic’s bronze miracle

Milica Dabovic is riding off into the sunset of international basketball after “a miracle” bronze medal winning performance by Serbia.

Having played at her first EuroBasket Women 13 years ago, it took more than a decade but the 34-year-old captain first helped her national side join the upper echelon of teams with a EuroBasket Women title in 2015.

So, before we get back to the mad dash to the WNBA playoffs, take a moment to celebrate the accomplishments of this amazing team, their stellar coaching staff, and their incredible USA Basketball support staff. It’s been quite a ride.

Are you saving up for Spain 2018? I sure am!

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Sporting News: For Team USA women, the element of surprise fuels dominant offense

 As a coach, there can be a challenge in dealing with designing an offense around what are 12 of the 15 or 20 best players in the world. So what Team USA women’s coach Geno Auriemma—whose team takes on Spain for the gold medal on Saturday—prefers to do is let his players work out their own offense.

Auriemma gives them structure, sure. But in his view, if his players are not out there doing things he is not expecting on the offensive end, he’s not particularly happy.

AP: Sue Bird back in practice with U.S. women’s basketball ahead of gold-medal game

There was a calm, relaxed atmosphere at the final practice for the U.S. women’s basketball team. Maybe it’s because injured guard Sue Bird was able to participate. Or maybe because many of the players have been in this position before — a win away from another Olympic title. 

“I understand it’s a gold medal game, we’ve approached it like any other game,” said Bird, a Syosset native who has helped the United States win the last three golds at the Olympics. “At the start of this entire month, every single practice and game we approached it like it was a gold medal game. Today’s no different.”

Hartford Courant: Taurasi, Bird Nudged Geno To Coach U.S. Women Again

“I think it will be, maybe, after the fact because it’s unusual that you get the opportunity to do it in the first place and here I’ve had the opportunity to do it twice for eight years and it does bring back a lot of great memories,” Auriemma told reporters, according to USA Basketball. “It’s a special time in my life that just as my coaching career winds down I get to somewhat end it with the players who, if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here. So I guess it’s just fitting that it worked out that way.”

In case you were wondering: 10 teams whose dominance rivals that of USA women’s basketball

Nina at USA Today: 1988 gold medalist Teresa Weatherspoon on why USA basketball will win another gold

“If you look at who they have on the team, they’re dominating individuals all by themselves,” she said. “But when you have a coach like Coach Auriemma who can put them together and have them work toward one common goal, that’s success in itself.”

It’s success that’s likely to bring home a seventh gold medal and a perfect bow on two weeks of memories, Weatherspoon said — even if it didn’t come with new friends from the Olympic Village.

The Medium: What I did on my Summer Olympics Break, by Alana Beard – Taught kids to swim, did some coding, built a house … you know … the usual

She is already the definition of a Renaissance woman — not only kicking butt at Duke, being selected as the second overall draft pick in 2004 for the Washington Mystics, and achieving four-time All-Star status with the L.A. Sparks — but also because she always has something cool going on beyond basketball. This hustler always has a side hustle. Take coding, for example:

“Coding is something I have always been intrigued by,” she says, after learning the skill last fall. “I would always come up with app ideas, but knew I would have to depend on someone else to build it for me. So, I decided to teach myself. From the moment I sat down at the computer, I was in love.

NCAA: 

Have been keeping an eye open for this: SDSU’s Coach Burns refused to remain silent

A judge will begin the civil trial in Burn’s 2014 lawsuit against San Diego State University. In her complaint, Burns, who coached the women’s basketball team for 16 seasons and is the winningest coach in San Diego State history, claimed the university forced her resignation less than a year after leading the Aztecs to a school-record 27-win season.

Burns claimed the university fired her in retaliation for her insistent demands that the women’s program be given the same treatment as the men’s basketball program.

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First, for some good news

 2h2 hours ago Good sign for and fans. She’s practicing

From Michelle Smith: Inside The W

Before we dive too deeply into fantasy, we need to deal with a reality check.

Sue Bird, who has started every game for the U.S. Women’s National Team in the last three Olympic Games – leading them to gold in each – sustained what looked to be a potentially serious knee injury in the quarterfinal win over Japan on Tuesday.

But by Wednesday morning in Brazil, Bird underwent an MRI and was diagnosed with a right knee capsule sprain. She was listed as day-to-day and both Bird and the U.S. team breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Doug, the Reporter: U.S. women’s basketball struggles minus Sue Bird, but pulls away to reach Olympic final

 It’s rare to see the U.S. women’s basketball team struggle during the Olympics. Then again, they’ve had Sue Bird running the show for over a decade.

With the starting point guard sidelined with a knee injury, the Americans were out of sorts for a half before finally getting it together to pull away from France in an 86-67 win in the semifinals Thursday night. Now they’re back in the Olympic final once again, one victory away from a sixth consecutive gold medal.

U.S. coach Geno Auriemma made it a point, however, after the game to stress that unforeseen developments like Bird’s injury makes it a little bit harder than just who the U.S. will beat next and “when’s the gold medal ceremony.”

Rachel Blount, Star-Tribune: After slow start, U.S. women’s basketball beats France to reach gold medal game

While her U.S. teammates struggled against France, Sue Bird found it even more difficult to watch. The veteran point guard, who had started every game in the past three Olympics, sat out with a sprained knee Thursday and agonized throughout the first half of her team’s semifinal.

“It was really hard,’’ said Bird, whose 132 games with the national team are the most on the current roster. “We were a little out of sorts. I felt like I could help in that department.’’

Gary Burton, Boston Globe, looks ahead to Tokyo (which is why I’m planning for Spain, 2018): Without Sue Bird, US women need direction

Perhaps Team USA’s second-best point guard here in Rio was purchasing souvenirs at the Olympic Park superstore about 90 minutes before the women’s basketball semifinal game against France.

That was 46-year-old Dawn Staley, an assistant coach who still looks like she can dish an assist or two. So Team USA was relegated to patchwork when four-time Olympian Sue Bird, still considered the best point guard in the States, was unavailable because of a sore right knee.

And the outcome was predictable.

Jeff Zillgitt, USA Today: Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore lead USA women into Olympic gold medal game

Someday, the U.S. women’s basketball will lose an Olympics game.Someday does not appear to be any day soon.

The U.S. outlasted France – an improving team but not quite there yet – for an 86-67 victory Thursday in the semifinals.

When in doubt – and you don’t need to be U.S. women’s basketball Geno Auriemma to call this play – get the basketball to Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore. Taurasi scored 12 of her 18-points and delivered four assists in the second half and Moore added 15 points.

“We’re locked in right now,” Taurasi said.

Dolson: No One Can Withstand 40 Minutes Of USA

France did what teams are trying to do against USA, which is kind of make it ugly and be aggressive. I think that’s what France did – realize they’re playing the US and play like they have nothing to lose. Shots were going in and they were playing well, and USA did a great job of reacting to that.

Being up only four points at halftime, USA coach Geno Auriemma’s speech could have gone a couple of different ways – he could have inspired them to go out and realize what game they’re in, trying to get to the gold medal game … or he could have been extremely upset and tried to get their butt in gear. France only scored eight points in the third quarter, so obviously the United States came out with extremely aggressive defense and wouldn’t let them get any easy baskets, winning the quarter 25-8 and never letting up.

Chicago Tribune: U.S. women advance to gold-medal game despite absence of Sue Bird

“You could see something’s missing,” Angel McCoughtry said. “Sue makes such a big difference. The way the flow of the game was going was different.”

So were the roles some of the U.S. players had to fill with Bird out. Diana Taurasi shifted more of her focus to distributing on offense and led the team with four assists while scoring a team-high 18 points.

“It took us a while to get used to it,” Taurasi said. “I had to change my mindset. When Sue’s out, you forget how much she does for this team. We have so many scorers that she finds a way to get everyone in their spots, to get everyone touches and she sacrifices for that.”

Johanette Howard, ESPN:

It didn’t feel like a 12-alarm fire when word got out that Sue Bird wasn’t going to play. The U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team is too dominant for that. It was more like the basketball equivalent of having a rock in your shoe, or having a painting that’s hung crooked on the wall. Something just didn’t feel right Thursday night in their semifinal game against France. Something was just … off.

Bird always says she’s not the fastest or highest-flying talent in women’s basketball. But when you’ve been the point guard for the U.S. national team dating back 16 years, running the show at every major international competition since 2002, and the team has not lost an Olympic game in all that time, it’s not surprising that the sight of Bird on Thursday would be disorienting for the U.S.

USA Basketball: Third-Quarter Surge Propels U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team Past France 86-67 And Into Gold Medal Game and Additional Quotes

Angel McCoughtry
On the possibility of the USA winning a sixth-straight Olympic gold medal:
It’s been tough. It hasn’t been an easy road. This was a very tough game today. I was panicking at halftime going, “Oh my God!” But the veterans stayed very composed, (I was) just watching them, they come out and we’re up by like 20 in no time. It’s going to mean a lot. We’re ready for the gold medal game. We’re not going to come out playing (around), we have to be serious and really get this. Because it’s going to be a different game. People might say, “Oh, they just played Spain and beat them by 40 points. It’s going to be a different ball game on Saturday. Very different.

Swish Appeal: Team USA showcases ‘character’ in gritty game

Team USA took on France in a heated match to qualify for the Final round of Olympic play. France served as a strong opponent, but USA’s tough defense and huge offensive third quarter allowed the team to break away with a lead, winning their 48th straight game, 86-67.

The final score did not indicate how tough of a game it actually was; not all wins are easy.

“History is not going to win you a gold medal,” said Diana Taurasi of USA’s incredible Olympic track record. “It’s not going to be easy.”

Blue Star: Diana Taurasi Sets the Standard for Team USA Olympic Women’s Basketball team

The United States’ Women’s Senior national team may be too good for its own good.

Team USA brushed away France, 86-67, here last night in the Olympic semi-finals at Carioca Arena I to advance to Saturday afternoon’s Olympic gold medal game against Spain. If they win their sixth consecutive championship, it will likely be taken for granted by the American public because they always win.

“We’ll see what happens after Saturday,” guard Diana Taurasi said with a smile, . “If we run around naked, we’ll get attention, win or lose.”

Most of know this story, but it’s always worth revisiting: Delle Donne Jumps It Up at the Rio Games For Her Disabled Sister

Lindsay Whalen’s mind focused on gold medal, not Rio distractions

Ben Greve is having a good month. The former Gophers golfer won the Minnesota State Open, and is enjoying butler service on a luxury ship docked off a Rio beach.

Well, this isn’t really a case of cause and effect. Greve is married to Lynx and U.S. basketball player Lindsay Whalen and is staying with her aboard the boat that Mike Krzyzewski hates being asked about.

Six years ago, Whalen dedicated herself to making the U.S. team. She was thrilled to compete in her first Olympics four years ago in London, and is no less thrilled to be on the current team that is dominating in the Rio Olympics.

Coming up:
Yardbarker: Nothing for free: USA women’s hoops looks ahead to gold medal challenge
More Jeff/USA Today: Olympic women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma wins and is expected to win

Through years of experience, including the occasional two- or four-loss season at UConn, Auriemma understands and manages those expectations – in a self-deprecating manner.

“Who says I manage them really well? I think I act the part though, don’t I?” Auriemma, 61, said. “My daughter is an actress so maybe she got my genes.”

Blue Star: Spain advances to Gold Medal Game against Team USA

After dealing with the media in the underground mix-zone reserved for post-game interviews the excitement of Alba Torrens and veteran guard Laia Palau could no longer be contained. The two went off running down the hall jumping and screaming for joy into the Spain locker room celebrating their 68-54 win over Serbia which moved them into the 2016 Rio Olympic Women’s Basketball gold medal game against the undefeated USA on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

It wasn’t just another Euro game for both Spain and Serbia as the winner went into the Gold Medal finals for the first time.  Both teams know each other quite well. 

Hoopfeed: Spain reaches medal round for first time, women’s basketball heydays are back for the Spaniards

With a 68-54 win over Serbia in the semifinals of the Rio Games, Spain is set to play for an Olympic medal for the first time ever. A great deal has changed since what some may regard as Spain’s women’s basketball heyday, not that FIBA’s No. 3-ranked women’s team in the world is doing too badly right now.

Indeed, Spain was Europe’s top women’s team as recently as 2013’s Eurobasket Women. They finished second, behind only the United States, at the 2014 FIBA Women’s World Championship in Turkey. But playing without defensive anchor and power forward Astou Ndour, they settled for bronze at last year’s EuroBasket, the European Olympic Qualifying event, finishing behind both France, the defending Olympic silver medalists, and the Serbian champs, whom they faced again today in the Olympic semifinals in their quest for Rio 2016’s medal podium.

Get To Know The Spanish Women’s National Basketball Team

The Good

Defense: Spain has allowed just 66.6 points per game in Rio, third among all teams, and just 3.4 points worse than the stout American defense.

Sharing The Ball: The 18.9 assists Spain is averaging is good for third among all teams in Rio and second only to the U.S. among teams still alive.

Scoring: Spain is fifth among all teams in Rio, putting up 74.1 points per game, while shooting a respectable 43 percent from the field, good for sixth in the tournament.

Texas Sports: Women’s Basketball’s Tina Thompson reflects back on Olympic experience
Thompson won gold medals at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games

As a two-time Olympic gold medalist, what is it like for you now when you watch the Olympics? 

Tina Thompson: “My most favorite sporting event is the Olympic Games. As a young child and a family experience, it’s what we’ve done my entire life. We’ve always watched the Olympics. And when I tell you we watch the Olympics, we watch everything – everything from rowing to fencing. We watch things that you just don’t necessarily watch on a regular basis. For me, watching and loving the Olympic Games the way that I do, to have been able to be a part of it is amazing in itself. It is an unbelievable accomplishment and I never thought, at the time that I was watching the Olympics as a child, that that’s where I would be. Then you fast forward to actually being a part of it and watching it now, the love is still the same. The only difference is that I can truly understand the process, what they’re going through and the emotions that you have when you’re a part of that experience. I know the joy that they’re feeling when they win gold and our national anthem is being played. I get it. 

Sally Jenkins: U.S. women’s basketball: A dynasty that began in a two-room apartment

The United States was just a start-up when women’s basketball was first played in an Olympics in 1976. Back then, Team USA was 12 women living off one credit card and sleeping in bunk beds without air conditioning. Forty years later, the memories are a measurement. 

At the 2016 Rio Games, the U.S. women led by Diana Taurasi and Tamika Catchings are living on a Silversea cruise ship along with the men’s team, and they deserve the sumptuous lounge chairs, because they’re going for a sixth straight gold medal and are beating their opponents by an average of 40 points. But they’d play that way no matter what the lead, or their circumstances, because that’s the program’s tradition. 

Since we’re talking history, here’s a WHB Flashback: Hunter Lowe:

Ted first talked about Hunter on this blog in 2005, when he was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

In February of ’08, we wrote about the Hunter and his Kodak All-Americans when State Farm took over the AA sponsorship.

Hunter died this past September, and Sherri Coale spoke to Low’s impact.

Recently, others offered their reflections on Hunter Low:

Betty Jaynes, former head coach of Madison College (Harrisonburg, VA) from (1970-82).

On meeting Hunter.

[In 1975] we had that national AIAW championship and I happen to also be the tournament director. That was the year Eastman Kodak decided that they would have a Kodak All-America team. I was on the committee to select — as well as the Championship chair — and that is where my life crossed with Hunter.

He walked into our gym one January with a whole entourage of Eastman Kodak folks to sit down and talk with me about how we could have a meeting place for the Kodak committee and the kinds of things that we could do with a group. At that time the AIAW would not let a sponsor have any type of appearance or recognition at the championships site. So our plan was, once the players were flown into Harrisonburg, to bus them in to Washington DC where we could have the Kodak luncheon and the presentation.

[Eventually] the AIAW got a little bit better at allowing Kodak to be near the championship, so about two or three years later we are able to bring the players in and have our own luncheon in the city where the championship was.

Talk about Hunter’s role in the founding of the WBCA.

He was instrumental in that because, in 1980, the NCAA decided that they would take over women’s sports. When they did that, the AIAW sued them for antitrust (and eventually lost). Hunter was very concerned about where the Kodak All-Americans would be housed — they had a contract with the AIAW and it was no longer in existence.

He encouraged me, along with many other coaches, to form a Coaches Association so that we would have our own identity, no matter what area we played — whether it was the NCAA or the NAIA, or NJCAA — no matter what it was, we could bring our coaching profession under a Coaches Association and have our own identity about strategies, awards and be political about our rules and regulations.

He sponsored the original group that met in Syracuse. Norfolk [VA, 1982] was our organizing committee, and the group that met in Syracuse during the Olympic Festival was sort of a sounding committee. They came together and decided, yes this is what we’re going to do. And he was responsible for housing that group and getting them to the meetings.

How did he connect with women’s basketball?

He had two daughters Valerie and Elizabeth – and one of them played. His wife Jody has always been heavily involved in this whole All-American thing. She said for years he went away to be with all these women, and she finally got pretty much tired of it, so she decided she’d tag along. And she falls in love with everybody and everybody falls in love with her and then Hunter says, “Now wait a minute. This is my gig!” (Laughs)

Hunter had always been involved with the American Football Coaches Association in doing their Eastman awards. You’ve got to understand that he’s a Kodak man. He was in film and the football coaches had film every Saturday. They filmed the games, they sent it Kodak and they processed it, and it was back in their hands the next day. I think he saw men’s and women’s basketball as the potentials for the use of that film. I think that was his whole thing. That’s why Kodak was the official imager of the women’s basketball committee.

Was he connected to the 1991 book of women’s basketball photographs, “At the Rim”?

His boss was responsible for that, Ray Mouland (?). Ray was really into the imaging and so he said that if we would help to get all female photographers — that was part of it. It had to be all-female photographers. We did all of that legwork for them — signed the players and the teams and the coaches — and then they put together the sports information groups, like in Virginia, and got the female photographer there. Then they went through and picked out the photographs.

That was a real exciting time for me because they let me go to Rochester and see all the pictures. I had no input, but it was just an absolutely amazing kind of thing to watch all that transpire. And then the deal was that every member of the WBCA would get a copy.

I love the one of Muffet McGraw and her baby. He went away as a [college] freshman this year. It’s just amazing how all these things transpire.

Describe the man to somebody who never met him.

Well Hunter was very big in stature — I want to say maybe 6’3” or 6’4” — a big, overpowering, gentlemen. You would think that he would be rough, but he was a gentleman’s gentleman. That’s my sister’s comment, that he was a gentleman’s gentleman. But that’s what he was — he was tender, very caring. Exceptionally polite to everyone and very gracious when he was introduced to someone.

He loved to all of the All-Americans. They always remembered him. They would write to him and communicate with him. Ann Meyers Drysdale was one of his favorites. He loved Nancy Lieberman. And Jody Conradt. Lin Dunn, who coaches the Indiana Fever. Billie Moore, the ‘76 Olympic coach, because he was responsible for taking care of a lot of their housing and their practices in Rochester.

I loved being around Hunter and his sidekick Bill Orr. Bill was with Tel Ra Productions in Philadelphia. Bill always provided a videotape of the Kodak All-Americans that we distributed to all of our [WBCA] members, and our members would show the highlights of these players during their camps. That’s the only kind of video that they had, the Kodak All-American videos. I think that’s why so many young girls coming up through the system said that they wanted to be a Kodak All-American. They learned it from their experiences during summer camps.

He just loved to the fact that women received recognition. Even before the Kodak, the early days of 70’s, the latter part of 60’s, he was involved with basketball clinics in the Poconos. It was a Kodak clinic. He funded those and that then fell into the Kodak All-American. And it just kept rolling. He was just extraordinary.

Pat Summitt, University of Tennessee

Hunter Low was a great friend of women’s basketball for many, many years. I first met Hunter in 1976 when he helped to arrange a place where our women’s Olympic basketball team could train in Rochester before we headed to Montreal for the Olympic Games.

He was passionate about the game of women’s basketball and was instrumental in the development of the Kodak All-America team. There was no better person, father or friend to the game than Hunter.

Kathy Harston (Wayland Baptist and a 1978 Kodak All-American)

Hunter Low saw the exuberance and passion that women’s college basketball players played with and was instrumental in helping make women’s college basketball what it is today.”

Ann Meyers Drysdale (UCLA 1974-’78. First player, male, or female, named to Kodak’s All-America team in four straight seasons)

Hunter, Hunter, Hunter! He really was a special man and friend. I am so sad to hear the news.

He took care of me when the first Kodak team was named. Since I was the only freshman, he sent me a round trip ticket. Or did I pick it up at the airport (LAX)? Remember in those days (1975) tickets were hand written. I was babysitting as my Mom and Dad went up to Oregon to watch UCLA and my brother David play at in the NCAA tournament. I don’t remember how Hunter worked it out with my folks to get me to fly cross country — but he did. Then when I was flying back home out of Reagan Airport (it wasn’t Reagan yet) I had thrown my airplane ticket away, because I had already used it (one way) and didn’t think I needed the receipt (which was the other leg home), but who knew? Hunter had to go to the counter and get my ticket rewritten and explain the WHOLE thing! :>)

My sophomore year in Minnesota, Hunter had a big birthday cake for me and had all the All-Americans sing Happy Birthday to me.

Hunter was great with EVERYONE! But he and I hit it off and he and Jody became very special friends in my life. He was a wonderful husband, father, and grandfather. We were so lucky to see the world through Hunter’s eyes and heart. He was special to so many and made our world a better and happier place to be in!

Jody Conradt, former head coach at Texas (1976-2007)

Talk about Hunter’s “hidden” legacy.

I think in our sport we have a tendency — I mean in the general public — to think this is something that just started in the 1970’s. At that point in time there just wasn’t as much focus on women’s basketball the way it is in certain situations now. So therefore people that weren’t involved at that point in time probably don’t have an appreciation for what Kodak’s contributions was and the fact that that contribution happened solely because of Hunter Lowe.

Describe Hunter to people who’d never met him.

I used to always think about his sense of humor. His sense of humor and how he had a wonderful recall. You could not see him for months — almost years — and you would be in his presence and he would remember obscure details about the last time you saw him, or about your team. Just wonderful recall.

Nancy Lieberman, Old Dominion University (Kodak All-American 1978, ’79, ’80)

Talk about what Hunter’s role in the growth women’s basketball

I had sent a letter to his family. I just wanted them to know what he meant to all of us and to women’s basketball. He did things…Kodak didn’t have to support women’s basketball or the all-American team. They were one of the first people to really step up, not with a toe in but with a full commitment. We’re talking about the early 70s. It wasn’t a popular thing to do, but he was so passionate.

He had a vision. He was so real. There was nothing pretentious about him he could make the call. He had the ability to write the check. Or tell the people that needed to write the check. And he did.

I couldn’t wait to give him a hug because this man just genuinely loved women’s sports. He just treated us like we were gold. Really, some of my experiences around Hunter were some of the first experiences that I had — eating at a nice restaurant or staying in nice hotels. I mean, I was a poor kid from New York. In ‘76 I was 17 — I turned 18 in Montreal (at the Olympics). Hunter was real protective of me because he knew I was so young and that I probably was a little out of my element. He always made me feel so comfortable. You don’t forget that.

What Hunter stories do you have?

I can’t tell you how many times I had dinner with him in Rochester or when he was with us with USA basketball or with the Kodak team. He loved to tell this story my senior year we’re at the Kodak All-American banquet. Inge Nissen, my teammate who was 24 — at the time we were all like 22 or something, but she was very mature because of her European background– and Inge is sitting at the Kodak All-American table with me with a cognac in one of those big glasses. Her hand is on the bottom and she’s swirling it around, and smoking a cigarette and kids are coming up, “Oh, Miss Nissen, I want to be like you one day!”

And I’m just sitting there and Hunter’s going, “You want to die of smoke inhalation and be inebriated?” [Laughs] I was such a nerd. I didn’t smoke, I didn’t drink, I didn’t do drugs, but she was so mature. Hunter loved telling that story — it was the darndest thing I’ve ever seen because, you know, she was so much older and mature. We laughed.

Talk about his legacy.

I think the hardest thing for people like me is that we didn’t see him enough, after we had a measure of success, to say thank you. And that’s the thing you kick yourself in the behind about. It’s the simplest thing to just be able to just say, “Hey thanks for everything.” And you lose those opportunities. And I’m really sorry, on a personal note, because we only saw him at events.

We were his family and his family was our family. He treated one and all like family. And he has decades and decades of us on posters. All you have to do is take a look at them and you’ll know. That’s the key to life.

 

Also – NBC: Posnanski: The genesis of U.S. women’s Olympic basketball domination

Think about this for a moment: Forty years ago, the United States Olympic Committee did not even expect the women’s basketball team to QUALIFY for the Games. When they won the qualifying tournament, there was a mad effort just to get the team accommodations in Montreal.

That was the first Olympic women’s basketball tournament, forty years ago, and the United States played in the first game, against Japan.

The headline in one American newspaper after that game: “Japan Downs United States Gal Cagers.”

Fast Company: Do Female Athletes Get Stiffed By The Sports Industry?

Marketer and talent representative Leonard Armato says the lack of high-quality media coverage, as well as everything from societal attitudes about women in sports to event attendance figures, stack the deck against women athletes. Armato is CEO and founder of Management Plus Enterprises (MPE), which represents sports figures like Oscar De La Hoya, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kerri Walsh Jennings, among others, and is the former CEO and commissioner of the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour which, under his direction, offered equal purses for men’s and women’s competitions.

Over the years, Armato says he’s seen the bias against women athletes firsthand.

The Olympics brought a moment of equality to women in sports, but don’t expect it to last.

WNBA news: New York Liberty activate Epiphanny Prince

The New York Liberty announced Friday morning that Epiphanny Prince has been added to the active roster and will begin practicing with the team immediately.

The Liberty waived rookie forward Adut Bulgak, the team’s first-round pick, to make room on the roster for Prince.

The move has enormous implications for the Liberty, and provides the team with a significant upgrade that no other WNBA roster will be getting heading into the final few weeks of the regular season and playoffs.

More Lib news: New York Liberty to hold Swin Cash retirement ceremony

Also: Dallas Wings forward Glory Johnson cleared to return from injury

Interesting: Hart’s announcement gives ‘possibilities’ to those wanting Lady Vols nickname back

CT: Montville children learn the ropes from Sun players

Yea! 2016 Class of FIBA Hall of Fame: Michele Timms

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.com: Preview: USA and France to Battle For Spot in Gold-Medal Game

Kravitz: Catchings is learning to accept her new role on Olympic bench

It’s not easy for Tamika Catchings, not easy sitting on the bench and watching the next generation of WNBA stars and Olympians grab all the minutes, the shots and the glory. She looks now at the team’s young guns – and there are plenty of them – and she sees herself 12 years ago, in Athens in 2004, even eight years ago in Beijing and four years ago in London.

Now, at age 37, the elder statesman on the team, she mostly practices hard and sits during games. In fact, Catchings has played the fewest minutes of any Team USA player, just 67 minutes in six Olympic games. She’s averaging 4.2 points per game and 2.8 rebounds per game in 11.2 minutes.

Baltimore Sun: Baltimore’s Angel McCoughtry puts her own twist on Olympic basketball experience

Angel McCoughtry’s first business will open soon. It’s an ice-cream shop in downtown Atlanta, less than a mile from Philips Arena, home of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream. Before long, fans of McCoughtry’s team may be customers at McCoughtry’s Ice Cream. That’s the hope, at least.

This dairy dream of hers has been churning for years now. During basketball season years ago in Istanbul — when McCoughtry still played in Istanbul — there was basketball and … not much else, really. She’d eat ice cream, and think about the future. Her sweet tooth led to notions of entrepreneurship and then to a commercial Realtor and then to a menu of homemade, vegan and lactose-free offerings.

She invested in what she loved. This choice was simple.

Sue, Catch and Diana:  “Queens of spades” detail life aboard basketball’s cruise ship

Movie’ on: Veterans pass torch as dejected Canadian women’s basketball team looks ahead

Every summer they came, injured or tired it didn’t matter, the country called and they came.

They were teammates and role models, confidantes and inspirations and when it was all over, the three two-time Olympians wept.

There will be no more Olympics for Canadian basketball stalwarts Kim Gaucher, Lizanne Murphy and Shona Thorburn but they have had an illustrious run that stopped with a jarring loss to France in the Rio Games quarter-finals late Tuesday night.

“It really is a disaster” – Lauren Jackson on the Opals early exit from Rio and Former AIS coach Paul Goriss urges players to stay in WNBL after Opals shock

Canberra Capitals coach Paul Goriss says a solution must be found to stop Australia’s best young basketballers ignoring the WNBL to play in the US if the Australian Opals are to rebound from their Rio heartbreak. 

*Look away, Mr. Louisville fan!*

LA Times: American women are dominating the Games, and it didn’t happen by accident

A girl wanders into a Houston gym on a school field trip, a worker loves her spark, and a dozen years later she wins four Olympic gold medals.

A girl jumps into a suburban Washington, D.C., swimming pool to make friends, a coach notices her stroke, and a dozen years later she wins four Olympic gold medals.

With five days remaining in the Rio Olympics, the final verdict is in and the winners are the U.S. women.

Not. So. Fast.

Christian Science Monitor: Media coverage of female Olympians is typical, but viewers’ responses are not

Amid a series of high-profile media gaffes deemed misogynistic by many, coverage of female Olympians in Rio de Janeiro this year may be best summed up in Dickensian terms. As Cheryl Cooky, associate professor of American Studies at Purdue University in Indiana, puts it: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” 

On the one hand, female Olympians are receiving more media coverage than in years past. That could be in part because a record number of female Olympians are competing in Rio. On the other hand, critics say, that coverage often relies on stereotypes by focusing on appearance, using infantilizing language, and referring to female athletes in terms of their roles as mothers, wives, or girlfriends. 

Rio 2016: #Covertheathlete hashtag takes aim at sexist coverage of female athletes

Hot Air: The real problem with the Rio Olympic Games? The sexist media coverage!

UpRoxx: A Closer Look At The Overwhelmingly Sexist Coverage Of Female Olympians

Aaron Hutchins: Sexism running rampant at Rio 2016

Andy Murray isn’t a tennis historian, nor is he responsible for fact-checking journalists. He’s a tennis player—and a great one at that—but to his credit, he’s also aware when he hasn’t made history.

In an interview after Murray won gold in the men’s singles tournament in Rio, the BBC’s John Inverdale told him: “You’re the first person to ever win two Olympic gold tennis medals. That’s an extraordinary feat, isn’t it?” To which Murray replied: “I think Venus and Serena [Williams] have won about four each.”

Murray didn’t directly call out the BBC presenter for overlooking the existence of women’s tennis, but he may as well have. While his response was widely applauded, it is but a lone bright spot in an Olympics where underlying sexism continues to reach the podium.

How to fix Rio 2016’s sexist coverage

It’s the sporting event we’ve been waiting for. Rio 2016 is in full swing and Team GB is dominating in second position on the medal table.

But, while Team GB’s successes are swelling the nation’s heart with pride; there’s one thing that is certainly not cause for celebration: the sexist Olympics coverage.

WNBA: ‘Around the Rim’ podcast: Taking a break

On this week’s “Around The Rim,” women’s basketball analyst LaChina Robinson talks with a couple guests on what they are doing when the rest of the world is focused on the Olympics.

In the first half, Robinson is joined by Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd, who talks about her improved season, her choice to leave college early to go pro, playing for Team USA Select and how she’s been keeping herself busy and motivated over the break.

In the second half, Robinson then speaks with the first ever WNBA front office personnel to join “Around the Rim,” Fever GM and president Kelly Krauskopf.

Marc Allard, Norwich Bulletin: Shock, sadness accompany Connecticut Sun GM Chris Sienko’s departure

“I was shocked because he has become such a constant here in Connecticut,” Sun forward Chiney Ogwumike said. “He’s brought so much to the game of women’s basketball, especially here in the Northeast, and I was like, ‘No, that’s my guy. He believes in me and he always has and he believes in all of us.”

First-year head coach Curt Miller had a different emotion.

NCAA

Good news: Lady Vols’ DeShields has regained her health, confidence

Hello again: Elliott Final Addition to Titan Coaching Staff

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YEA!!! YEA! YEA! YEAAAAAAAA!!!!!

UPDATE (from Reporter Doug) US women’s basketball captain Sue Bird has knee sprain

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Crap… Sue Bird.

Yah, I’ve got my fingers crossed – but folks who’ve been through knee injuries often know that they feel like…. the knock on effect for her if her face was an accurate read of the situation? Well, just crap.

Hate this headline, because it dismisses the athlete’s reality:  Rio Olympics 2016: Sue Bird injury creates smidge of drama for U.S. women’s basketball team

In other news, they started slow, but finished strong:

US Routs Japan 110-64, Advances To Women’s Basketball Semis

Rio Olympics: Takeaways from USA Basketball’s win over Japan – Excelle Sports

The other quarters offered some great drama:

Ole! Former Lynx/Liberty Guard Anna Cruz Sends Spain To Olympic Semifinals

Oi! Australia’s inconsistency caught up to them – and Serbia was more that able to step through the door. Olympic Shocker: Taylor, Australia Eliminated by Dabovic, Serbia

Au Revoir: France eliminates Canada in Olympic basketball

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Deep breath… here we go!

Nebraska: Page Leads Serbia To Quarterfinals

Former Husker Danielle Page scored 15 points and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds in a 95-88 win over Senegal to help Serbia advance out of Group B into the quarterfinals at the Rio Olympics.

In Sunday’s win over Senegal, Page hit 7-of-11 shots from the floor including a three-pointer, while adding a pair of blocked shots to give Serbia its second straight win.

Herald Sun: Retiring veteran Penny Taylor determined to go out on top

PENNY Taylor knows she is running out of time.

The clock is ticking on a meteoric career that will officially end with the WNBA season in October and could draw its final Olympic breath by Thursday morning.

The 35-year-old WNBA trailblazer will retire at season’s end, with Australia’s Opals finally into the cutthroat quarterfinal against Serbia.

Chris Young, Yahoo: A little anger fuels Canada into women’s basketball quarterfinals

Canada’s basketball women should be in a snarling mood when they return Tuesday to the same Olympic quarter-final stage that was their undoing four years ago in London.

The difference means everything, though. At London 2012, it was the unbeatable United States that awaited a less experience Canadian team and ended their tournament. This time around it will be France, and with six French League pros on their roster Canada knows them well.

FIBA: Palau and Spain chasing game-changer moment

 Spain’s Laia Palau knows better than most the feeling of losing at the Olympics. 

No wonder why the three-time Olympian is often seen screaming at her teammates to get things done rightly.

Reporter/Doug: Overseas play has helped US women’s basketball team dominate

The U.S. women’s basketball team’s dominating performances at the Olympics over the past two decades isn’t the result of simply having the best players in the world.

Of course that helps, and continuity plays a major part. But don’t discount the players being well versed in the rules and nuances of international basketball. Diana Taurasi and most of her U.S. teammates spend their offseason playing overseas because of the financial incentives.

Most of the Olympic players are either teammates of the American players or opponents in leagues around the world — including Russia, Turkey, France or China. 

The U.S. men’s basketball team, which has won 50 straight international tournament games, is still adjusting to the different style of play in Rio. There are 10 first-time Olympians on that squad, which has been challenged in the tournament.

Cronkite News: Taurasi: ‘Underdog’ approach powers 24-year streak

“We feel like the underdogs, we feel like we have (something) to prove every time we step on the court,” said Taurasi, who is playing in her fourth Olympics. “I think that’s why this run has been so special because we’ve never relaxed, we’ve never disrespected an opponent. There’s that edge every time we step on the court.”

She credits Team USA head coach Geno Auriemma for molding a strong team made up of women more used to being adversaries on the court during WNBA play.

.com: Preview: Ramu Tokashiki Leads Japan into Quarterfinal Against Storm Teammates

Before the Olympics, Sue Bird said she and Breanna Stewart were joking with Ramu Tokashiki about the chance to potentially play against each other in Rio de Janeiro. The only way that would happen is if both teams advanced to the knockout round, as the United States and Japan were in different groups.

The trio of Storm players held up their ends of the bargain, and the two nations will now meet in the quarterfinals on Tuesday at 2:45 p.m. PT.

“First of all, I’m super happy for her,” Bird told USAB.com. “They worked really hard to get to this point. I’m excited to play against her.”

FIBA: Japan working on game plan ahead of Quarter-Final clash with USA

The Americans will be favourites against Japan and Utsumi says they “don’t have any specific plan to face the USA because they are simply the best team in the world.”

“All we can do is to perform the best way possible,” he continued. “We have to show everything we have been building over the course over the past years.”

All They Do is Win: USA Women’s Basketball Continues to Dominate at the Olympics

The USA Women’s Basketball Team Has Been More Dominant Than The Men’s, And It’s Not That Close

Dobson: No Real Weaknesses Heading Into The Quarterfinals For The United States

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The dismantling continues….

The U.S. women continued their domination, displaying astonishing teamwork. The evidence? 40 assists on 46 buckets

Let that sit there for a moment… 40 assists on 46 buckets

USA Basketball: U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team 105, China 62 and additional quotes: 

Geno: When you have 40 assists in a basketball game, and I talked to the team about it, there can’t be anything better in the game of basketball then when you get an assist. You can get rebounds, blocked shots, whatever, all that’s great, you get a bucket, but when you know you made it possible to help one of your teammates get an easy basket, that to me, that’s basketball. You can’t play it any better than we played it in the first half. That was really fun to watch. 

Tamika: On the state of the team:
I’m feeling good about this team. I think the best about it is the unselfishness that we have. I think even the turnovers at the end, you want to make the best play. You want to get it to the open person. Sometimes the open person is not there. I feel like we’re playing at such a high level right now. We have definitely gotten better from the first game that we had together in LA against the (USA) Select Team. Every single game, every single practice, we’ve gotten so much better, moving the ball really well. A couple of games ago, we talked about the defense and just not being a good rebounding team. I feel like the last couple of games, we’ve really focused on that and have done a much better job on that end. 

ESPN: U.S. women’s basketball on pace to break the points record set by 1996 team

The booing started late in the second quarter, once the crowd grew tired of watching the Chinese team get relentlessly pounded. At the beginning of the game, the fans, most of whom were Brazilian, gamely rooted for both sides — but when Brittney Griner scored an easy layup, boosting the U.S. team’s lead to 43-17, a few boos tinkled through the arena. A minute later, Maya Moore missed a jumper and the audience howled with glee.

A small, vocal section of American supporters, which included friends and relatives of the team, tried to counter with a USA cheer. They were shouted down by the Brazilians, who had thrown their weight behind the underdogs and incorporated “China” into a variety of Portuguese chants.

There were not many opportunities for them to cheer.

Swish Appeal: Tower of Power: Griner flourishes in rout of China

Against China, Griner was more active than recent Olympic games and scored the only double-double of the game with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Griner grinded on the defensive end of the court, pulling down 10 defensive rebounds. 

She said defense was something the team focused on for today’s game. 

“We started off the game really well on the defensive end, getting stops and running out in transition,” said Griner. “That was a big part of our game today — getting boards, getting deflections and kicking it up the floor for easy baskets.”

Coach Auriemma said he believes Griner is getting more comfortable with international play, but she still hasn’t really been challenged yet.

Kevin Tresolini, News Journal:

China coach Tom Maher asked the question rhetorically after the United States had demolished his squad 104-62 on Sunday in the final game of Olympic women’s basketball pool play.

Could anyone, on any other national team, even make the U.S. roster?

The U.S. has been that deep and dominant en route to five consecutive gold Olympic medals, and its 2016 performances have done nothing to limit present-day expectations.

NBC: More records fall as U.S. trounces China to end pool play

SB Nation: USA basketball vs. China 2016 Rio Olympics final score: Maya Moore nearly triple-doubles in 105-62 win

Excelle: Takeaways from USA Basketball vs. China

Is this best USA Basketball defensive team ever?

The question is unanswerable statistically, but let’s not ignore just what goes into this remarkable team-wide ability to make it extremely difficult for opponents to score.

Dan Devine, Yahoo:  9m9 minutes agoIf you’re mad the U.S. men’s national hoops team isn’t dominant, watch the women, who are. U.S. women’s basketball steamrolls China to cap perfect group stage

Early in the U.S. women’s national basketball team’s Sunday morning matchup with China, NBC’s cameras caught Elena Delle Donne seated on the bench, holding an ice pack over her right eye. NBC’s Kerith Burke later reported that the reigning WNBA Most Valuable Player and ace Team USA reserve had caught a stray elbow from a teammate during pregame warm-ups.

That was the most damaging blow Team USA took on Sunday.

The floods in Louisiana are on Seimone’s mind:  Augustus’ 100th game with USA Basketball brings joy, heartache

Minnesota Lynx star Seimone Augustus was wearing a hat with “USA” in large, block letters. She was celebrating the U.S. women’s basketball team’s 105-62 victory China, and its Olympic record 40 assists.

She was crying. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m trying to control my emotions.”

Augustus found herself preoccupied and proud. After playing her 100th game for USA Basketball, Augustus revealed that the flooding in her hometown of Baton Rouge, La., had forced her parents to evacuate and had endangered the horses she keeps on her land.

“My parents actually had to be boated out yesterday,” she said. “They’re safe. Everybody’s safe.

Next up: Head coach Geno Auriemma and five former Huskies will face Japan in the first elimination round

.com: WNBA Players Competing For International Teams At The Olympics

The U.S. Women’s National Team is full of WNBA players, but there are numerous W players suiting up for other countries as well. With a few days of competition in Rio complete, check in on how international W players are faring at the Olympic Games.

In case you missed it the first time: An Oral History Of The First U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team

In April 1976, USA Basketball opened five regional tryout camps for the Olympic women’s team. Over 1,000 women showed up.

Gail Marquis, forward: There was an advertisement in the newspaper: “Come try out for the Olympic team.”

Trish Roberts, forward: I didn’t even know that women weren’t in the Olympics until they told me that 1976 would be the first time women’s basketball would be.

Ann Meyers, guard: Anybody and their mother could try out.

Billie Jean Moore, head coach: We wanted to give everyone, every young female athlete, an opportunity.

Marquis: The only people who didn’t have to go through the tryouts were the 12 players who were on the previous national team.

*Spoiler alert, Louisville dude!*

USAToday: Women’s Olympic basketball players hope for more LGBT acceptance in NBA

While the NBA is progressive on this front – reconfirmed recently when it decided to move the All Star game out of Charlotte because of a North Carolina law that eliminated some protections for the LGBT community – the fact remains that no player since Collins has felt comfortable enough to come out. And that, as their female counterparts see it, is something that needs to change not only in basketball but men’s sports across the board.

“I would love to see more (come out) on the men’s side, more players feel comfortable to come out,” said Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner, the former No. 1 pick who came out in an April 2013 Sports Illustrated article that was met with similar shrugs. “But I also understand it because as a player, I’ve been that person where it’s really hard to come out. It’s super hard. You’re just not comfortable with it. You’re worried about not being accepted, being rejected, being cast out. It’s tough. It’s really tough.”

Looking ahead: Picking 2016 WNBA All-Stars

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Midst the pause…

*Spoiler alert, Louisville fan who wants his sports “politics free. Look away now.*

Gene at WaPo: Geno Auriemma keeps getting support for his strong defense of U.S. women’s dominance

“We live in that Trumpian era where it’s okay to be sexist and degrade people that are good, just because they’re the opposite sex. We are what we are. We’re never going to apologize for being that good.”

Support for Auriemma continued on social media, where Julie Foudy, formerly of the U.S. women’s national soccer team, became the latest to weigh in.

Meanwhile, on the court:

Serbia women’s basketball victory is country’s first

Kragthorpe: Canada shows growth in women’s basketball loss to USA

Olympics: In women’s basketball, Utah is Canada’s UConn

Brazil’s captain, Iziane Castro, set to retire after team’s final contest in Rio Games

 In the summer of 2012, the Olympic journey of fiery Brazilian shooting guard Iziane Castro (“Izi”) was over even before it began. Castro, who has played for several teams in the WNBA, signed as a free agent out of Florida International University by the now-defunct Miami Sol in 2002. She saw action for the Phoenix Mercury, the Atlanta Dream, the Seattle Storm, and most recently, in 2013, the Connecticut Sun. Since then, Castro has restricted her play to Europe and Brazil.

But if Castro’s time in the “W” was peripatetic, her relationship with her national team can only be described as a very stormy emotional roller coaster ride

US women’s basketball team clinches Group B with 45th straight Olympic win

Brittney Griner Challenges DeMarcus Cousins To One-On-One Game and Ex-Kentucky star Cousins responds to Brittney Griner’s challenge

Breanna Stewart Shining In First Olympic Games

Dolson: US Responds Well To Pressure

WNBA stars Elena Delle Donne and Breanna Stewart put on an alley-oop show at Team USA .

Doug: US women’s basketball team explores Rio on off day

Geno Auriemma gave the U.S. women’s basketball team one more day off at the Olympics before they start getting into the knockout rounds.The Americans are 4-0 and already clinched the top spot in their group. They face China on Sunday, which would need to pull off the monumental upset to advance to the quarterfinals.

After a film session on their boat, the team went out and explored Rio. Auriemma took in some of the Olympic golf along with assistant Jen Rizzotti, who got a special treat.

USAToday: US Women’s Basketball Team Like Extended Family

.com: Catching Up With the 1996 Olympic Team: Ruthie Bolton

WNBA whoa: Connecticut Sun general manager Chris Sienko to resign

Chicago Sky rookie Imani Boyette grows to love being daughter of Pamela McGee

Slam Online: No Basic – Baylor’s Nina Davis is just your average college basketball star on her way to becoming a WNBA mainstay. OK, maybe “average” isn’t the right word.

Sending a superstar a tweet has a rare chance of getting noticed, let alone receiving a reply. So what exactly causes a little kid to send a 140-character-or-less snippet to her favorite athlete, her role model, the woman she wants to be when she grows up?

Hope, maybe?

Hope her favorite player will give her tweet the time of day, maybe not a reply, but at least a glance for two seconds, just long enough to read her message? Hope the sideline picture she requested via Twitter will maybe—just maybe—be remembered in the mind of her idol either before or after her game tonight? 

Read more at  Health issues: Kayte Christensen: How Long Do We Ignore The Real NFL?

My WNBA career ended due to a back injury I first sustained early in my rookie season. Through my six active seasons I was on Celebrex, a medication given primarily to people 40+ years older than I was to deal with arthritis.

It is an excellent anti-inflammatory that I was taking in large doses during the season. I went off it during the offseason and underwent blood test to make sure that it wasn’t affecting my organs.  I was 21 years old.

It wasn’t until my career ended that I ran into my former team doctor who had a serious conversation with me about my back injury that ended my career. He spoke to me very candidly and with massive regret. He told my team that I should not return to the court and needed time to rehab and heal.

I played the next day.

 

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50 points, folks celebrate their dominance.

Same team struggles in a game, folks have kittens.

Another American team wins by an average of 60 points, folks have kittens.

What in the name of sexism and disrespect is going on here?!?!?!!

Oh. Right. Same. Ole. Bulls#t.

Quoting 

Are people literally saying USAWB is bad for the game?! I CANNOT HEAR YOU OVER THE SOUND OF OUR MULTIPLE GOLD MEDALS CLANKING TOGETHER

Moving on.

Doug: US rolls on, routs Serbia 110-84 in women’s basketball

 Diana Taurasi and her U.S. teammates knew they’d be in for a test against Serbia.

The end result was another blowout victory, but the Americans couldn’t put it on cruise control like they had in their first two wins.

Taurasi scored 22 of her Olympic-best 25 points in the first half to help the U.S. beat Serbia 110-84 on Wednesday and advance to the quarterfinals.

ESPN:  Taurasi, U.S. women’s basketball are a world apart from competition

Diana Taurasi has been there, done that, and won literally everything there is to win in women’s basketball — no, really. Everything.

NCAA titles at Connecticut. WNBA titles with Phoenix. Three Olympic gold medals (and counting….). Pro and college most valuable player awards and European titles in Russia, where she pulls down a $1 million-plus annual salary. She was actually paid by her Russian team not to play for the Mercury last summer, the better to rest her body for this year’s overseas run all the way to — are you kidding? — a seventh European title. So it was no surprise at all really when Taurasi — the ultimate winner — seemed to take it a little personally Tuesday when Serbia, the U.S. team’s third-round opponent at the Rio Summer Olympics, had ambitions of muddying this pretty picture. Serbia actually took a one-point lead with eight minutes gone in the first quarter — a rarity against this U.S. team — only to see Taurasi answer by scoring 11 of the United States’ next 15 points.

USA Basketball: U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team 110, Serbia 84 and Additional Quotes: USA 110, Serbia 84 (8/10/16)

Tamika Catchings
What makes this program so great?  Is it the culture or depth of talent?
I think it’s both.  Just kind of going back to the beginning when I did start on the Junior Olympic team and being a part of the USA family from that standpoint.  You look at the players that I played with on the junior team and how many of them don’t make the senior team.  And as the years go on, you’re looking at the select team that we just played in California and some of those players will have an opportunity to play on the Olympic team and a lot of them won’t.   But I think the format that has been put together … to have a pool of players that they can select from at any point in time.  We had like 30 players in that pool.  I feel with that format you have the depth and you know that out of those 30 players, you know you can pick out any of those 30 and put together an Olympic team.  And those players will do what it takes to make it to the next level.  I think for me when I came in as a young pup, the one thing I thought was what I can do to make a difference on this team and that was defense.  I knew that if I came with defense and I came with intensity and just the passion that I play with that I could make a difference.  And that’s kind of been the role I’ve played on all the Olympic teams that I’ve been on.

SB Nation: USA vs. Serbia 2016 Rio Olympics final score: Diana Taurasi sets United States 3-point record in 110-84 blowout win and Diana Taurasi splashes US Olympic-record 6 threes, Angel McCoughtry hits 360 layup in win over Serbia

Stef: Dolson: Taurasi Showing Her Greatness

An easy win over Serbia somehow brings tough questions for USA’s women’s hoops team

Excelle: Rio Olympics: Takeaways from USA Basketball versus Serbia

Final comment:

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But, until the US’s next game (What To Watch For: USA vs. Serbia (Wednesday, 2:30 PM ET), we have this….

CNN: The best team [some of] you’ve never heard of plays basketball for the U.S.

In truth, women’s soccer had already entered America’s collective consciousness in 1999 — when Brandi Chastain donned a Sports Illustrated cover celebrating in a sports bra after defeating China in the World Cup — and never left. 
A recent Sports Illustrated Olympic preview cover features women’s footie star Alex Morgan, alongside prominent Americans Kevin Durant, Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky.
But of the seven athletes featured on the SI cover, none of them represent the country’s most dominating — yet largely anonymous — team over the past three decades, one whose eye-popping statistic was buried in a one liner under its medals picks: The U.S. women’s basketball team has a 41-game Olympic winning streak.

Fans and critics use labels to define athletes, and Sylvia Fowles understands that.

But the former LSU star refuses to be tied to one.

“If you asked me two years ago how long I’d play, I probably would have said two years,” Fowles said. “My health is good, and I still love playing basketball. I’m not ready to put an expiration date on my career — not yet.”

 

An emphatic statement from the typically soft-spoken Fowles is a little surprising. It should be a plus for a U.S. women’s national team seeking its sixth straight gold medal at the Summer Olympics.

Tamika Catchings and Maya Moore mix hoops and help for the less fortunate

.com: Sue Bird Continuing Stellar WNBA Play In Rio

Jeff Eisenberg: How Elena Delle Donne spurned Geno Auriemma only to reunite with him in the Olympics

On the night she fled the nation’s premier women’s basketball program without warning, Elena Delle Donne was certain of only one thing.

She believed Geno Auriemma would never forgive her.

Swish Appeal: How Breanna Stewart is changing the landscape of basketball

A little antidote to the sexism in the coverage of women Olympians: 50 Photos That Show The Raw Power Of This Year’s Olympic Women

About those covering the games: Bus shooting in Rio: First-hand account from Hoopfeed correspondent Lee Michaelson

An Olympic media transport bus came under gunfire on Tuesday night, as it made the trip from the venue cluster at Deodoro Olympic Park to the Main Press Center (MPC) and International Broadcast Center, located across town at the main Olympic Park in Barra, carrying approximately 10 passengers. Two windows on the side of the bus were blown out by the impact. A reporter from Belarus, as well as an Olympic volunteer from Turkey, sustained minor wounds from the broken glass, but no one was hit by the shots or seriously injured.

Hoopfeed.com correspondent Lee Michaelson, a retired Air Force captain, was on the bus at the time of the incident, and gave us a first-hand account.

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Ole!

Yes, it might have been a bit different with Sancho on the team, but…

Dolson: U.S. Looking Unstoppable

You know, Spain is a pretty good team {Ranked 3rd in latest FIBA Rankings}, it has a good roster with Alba Torrens and Anna Cruz among others, so this game gave the U.S. a chance to play some better competition. The game definitely started off a little tougher than Senegal, but I’m pretty happy with the way they played. The teamwork was amazing with great ball movement and really even scoring distribution. So they’re looking good. They definitely got the jitters out already, and should be able to just keep it going.

I know we’re only two games in, but they are already looking unstoppable.

Swish Appeal: Supreme Court: Depth of Team USA ‘wears down’ opponents

On the World’s biggest stage, it was a total group effort in the USA’s 103-63 win over Spain. With 55 of their total points coming off the bench, it took every player donning the red, white and blue to make the magic happen in the second game on their quest for gold.

After getting off to a slow start, Coach Geno Auriemma and Team USA relied on veteran leaders like Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird to kick it into gear and get the job done. With both Taurasi and Bird competing in their fourth Olympic Games, experience is certainly not lacking.

“D (Diana Taurasi) is constant, you know kind of everything revolved around her and Sue it seems like,” said Coach Auriemma. 

Along with the veterans on this team comes a new generation of Team USA players that are stars in their own right.

“God, they could be starting on this team, there’s no question about it,” said Bird.

.com: Sound Defense Leads Team USA Past Spain, 103-63

The Women’s National Basketball team put on an impressive performance for their second straight game in Brazil as they overwhelmed a very talented Spain team on Monday morning.

It was another great overall team effort for the Americans on both ends of the court as they not only tallied 23 assists on 41 made field-goals, but caused the Spaniards to shoot only 35.4 percent from the field.

Mechelle: Tamika Catchings: ‘It’s been a dream come true’

To fully appreciate Tamika Catchings’ impact on the U.S. Olympic team in this, her fourth and final appearance in the Summer Games, we need to go back to her first. That was in August 2004 in Athens, Greece, and Catchings had turned 25 the month before.

Star-Telegram: Duncanville ex Tamika Catchings at peace with her Team USA role

She sat at the end of the bench, watching as Team USA’s lead increased from double-digits in the first quarter to 17 by halftime and 23 before her name was called halfway through the third quarter.

The 2016 Olympics are a far different experience for Duncanville High School alum Tamika Catchings, who starred for the American women’s team in Athens, Beijing and London. As she bids goodbye to the international stage in search of a fourth straight gold medal, Catchings, 37, called her newest role the most challenging of her career.

Cliff Burnt, AP: Catchings says USA women’s basketball has work to do, despite blowouts

Player’s Tribune:

Welcome to the Rio Olympics edition of What the (Blank)?, where we ask athletes to answer a few questions about themselves so you can get to know them better. Next up is USA Women’s Basketball forward Tamika Catchings. Yes, this is her real handwriting.

In addition to my event, my secret talent is:Screen Shot 2016-07-17 at 3.42.50 PM

The strangest instruction a coach has ever given me was:

Chicago Tribune: Elena Delle Donne, WNBA MVP, fine with coming off bench for loaded Team USA (if you say so, headline writer)

“The excitement of being in the Olympics overshadows anything else,” Auriemma said. “When it’s your first Olympics, you don’t care if you’re sixth man, seventh man, 10th man, whether you play 40 minutes or whether you play four minutes.”

One reason why she is on the bench is that she has had to adjust to the international game. Unlike some other players on the U.S. team, Delle Donne does not play overseas in the WNBA’s offseason and instead returns home to Delaware.

.com: Taurasi Passes Swoopes for Second on USA’s Olympic Scoring List

WaPo: Secret to U.S. women’s basketball’s success? Never forget

Sue Bird is talking about losing. It’s a subject she knows very little about, and, well, that’s kind of the point: to gain entry into the soul of a winner and see what else is floating around in there. 

Bird is the 35-year-old point guard of the most dominant team in basketball, men’s or women’s, and she still has a lot of crossover dribbles left. She has won two collegiate national titles, three Olympic gold medals and three world championships in her career . Oh, and a bronze at the 2006 world championships. 

Bird is still seething about that bronze.

ESPN: It’s hard not to be in awe of the U.S. women’s basketball team

Can anyone ever beat the American women? Maybe. After all, the U.S. men lost three times at the 2004 Olympics, even with LeBron James and Tim Duncan on the roster. The beauty of sport is you never know what will happen.

“I think it’s possible,” Spain’s Laura Nicholls said. “OK, it’s really, really difficult, but in one game you can do it. Maybe our team could have more options because physically we are not on that level. One day our shooting percentage would have to be 75 percent on 3-pointers and everything else. Because they score a lot. Every second is difficult to get to them. But it’s not impossible.”

Right. It could happen. After all, the Cubs could win the World Series.

Boston Globe: USA Basketball’s Brittney Griner is finally at peace with

Her smile is gleaming. Her swagger is peaking. And her post game is sharpening. The process of Brittney Griner becoming comfortable in her own skin is ongoing, yet her bubbly personality here at the Olympics indicates that it’s near fruition.

It’s been a difficult journey for the Team USA standout, who was considered perhaps the most dominant center in women’s basketball history when she entered Baylor seven years ago. She has developed into a defensive force and played solidly for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, but that has been overshadowed by off-court issues, including a domestic incident and an annulled marriage.

Excelle: Takeaways from USA Basketball win over Spain

.com: 12 Must-See Plays From The 12 USAB Women

USA Basketball: Game story and additional quotes.

Lindsay Whalen
How easy is your life knowing that you have so many choices offensively? 
It’s a good balance because you’ve got to stay aggressive, you’ve got to stay involved, but yeah you know that there are a lots of people that do a lot of really good things so you have to kind of feel out the game and see how it will be tonight. When I go in there, I kind of want to be aggressive, want to turn up the temp, kind of get the wings going with Angel (McCoughtry) and Seimone (Augustus), (that’s) usually who I’m out there with, so kind of getting those guys going. And then also looking for opportunities for myself to get into the lane are important as well. So you just got to kind of read it each night.

Shocked, I tell you, I’m shocked! NY Magazine: The Media’s Olympics Coverage Reminds Us Just How Taxing It Is to Be a Female Athlete

The Summer Olympics — that series of sporting events that whips spectators into a patriotic frenzy every four years — started just four days ago, but several media outlets have already reminded us exactly how taxing it is to be a female athlete.

The first offense came from NBC commentator Dan Hicks. When Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszú won a gold medal and broke a world record in the 400-meter individual medley, the camera panned to her husband, who was watching in the stands as Hicks said, “and there’s the man responsible.” Hicks later apologized for his phrasing and, “wished he’d said things differently,” but not before Twitter could drag him.

So have seen TWO articles. one from and .. saying watch the 25 hottest athletes in the Olympics .with a women on front

WSJ: NBC’s Al Trautwig Apologizes for Comments on Simone Biles’s Parents

Mr. Trautwig, meanwhile, has been a focus of wrath from gymnastics fans, who have criticized on-air performances in which they say he lacks expertise, makes inappropriate comments about younger gymnasts and mixes up his identification of gymnasts Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas, who are both African-American.

BTW:

CANADA is CODE BLUE! WE NEED A NURSE. Canada’s women’s basketball team holds its composure to come back for victory over ‘unorthodox’ Serbia

Japan is obviously the surprise of the tournament. Brazil, to me, is the sad of the tournament.

China romps over Senegal.

 

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One down…

Rio 2016 women’s basketball: USA 121-56 Senegal – as it happened!

Reuters: Basketball: Senegal gets Rio mugging from the U.S.

Rio visitors have been warned of the risk of muggings during the Olympics but Senegal still could not avoid a brutal beat down as the U.S. women’s basketball team began their bid for a sixth consecutive gold with a 121-56 rout on Sunday.

The result was as predictable as a tourist walking into one of the city’s notorious favelas flashing a fistful of hundred dollar bills with Senegal searching for their first Olympic win going up against the all-conquering U.S., a true Olympic dynasty riding a 41-Games unbeaten run.

Swish Appeal: Taurus’s hot start galvanizes U.S. in record-shattering performance

By the end of the first quarter, four-time Olympian Diana Taurasi, had outscored the entire Senegal team, 12-9. Heading into the second, Taurasi’s four threes put her on pace to tie her own U.S. Olympic record of five triples in a game.

One record.

“Our biggest point going into the game was getting off to a good start,” Taurasi said. “We know how important momentum is in these tournaments, where if you get off to a good start, that kind of carries into the first game and into the next game, which is tomorrow. That was crucial, and I thought we did a good job of that.”

Swish Appeal: Sonic boom: Analysis of Team USA’s pummeling of Senegal

U.S. women begin Rio Games with record-setting win over Senegal

Doug: Bird and Taurasi defend record rout of Senegal

After setting Olympic records for points scored and margin of victory in their Olympic opener, U.S. guards Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird defended the lopsided score _ a 121-56 victory over Senegal.

“We share the ball, we move the ball, we make the right plays at the right time, and that to me is a great brand of basketball,” Bird said. “And if we can elevate the play, if people strive to play that way and we can elevate the play of the entire world then what’s better than that for the world of basketball? Nothing.”

Four-time Olympian Sue Bird took a deep breath before answering whether a 65-point blowout in Olympic play was a positive.

“I mean, how many times have I heard this question? I really don’t care, truthfully,” Bird said. “There’s something to be said about a team that can come together in two weeks and play the way we’re playing right now.

FWIW: The US men, without some of the NBA’s best players, beat China by 57 points, 119-62. Did anyone ask THEM if it was frickin’ good for the game?
Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart and the United States cruised to a 121-56 win over Senegal on Sunday in their first game of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Stewart tied for the most points in the game with 15, while Bird led all players with eight assists as the Americans broke their own Olympic records for points and margin of victory.

.com: No Nerves For Stewart In Olympic Debut

Despite the roller coaster of emotions she likely was feeling, Stewart was able to keep a cool head about her and settled into the scoring role that has been her bread and butter for years. At the end of the contest Stewart’s 15 points were tied for a game-high while her 83% shooting from the field (5-for-6) was the best mark among any player on the floor.

Excelle: Takeaways from USA-Senegal basketball

USA Basketball wasted no time asserting its dominance in a 121-56 victory over Senegal on Sunday in Brazil, setting the single-game record for points in a game.

The extent to which the depth of talent manifested itself as a strategic advantage can be gleaned from this stat: every USA Basketball player scored with the exception of starting point guard Sue Bird—in the first half. (Bird settled for eight assists before getting her first basket early in the fourth quarter.)

Here are three takeaways from the first game:

Spain’s up next – so here’s some stuff to distract you while you wait.

Houston Chronicle: Olympic rookie Brittney Griner begins to find her place

Brittney Griner says playing basketball in the Olympic Games was a dream she never knew she had until it came true.

Griner, 25, the former Nimitz and Baylor University center who now plays for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and for UMMC Ekaterinburg in the Russian Premier League, said it took years into her career before she could imagine becoming one of three first-time Olympians on the USA Basketball women’s team, arguably the most dominant unit in any Olympic team sport with five consecutive gold medals. 

“I started playing basketball late, and, even in high school, I didn’t know how good I could be or I would get to that level,” she said. “It wasn’t until I got to my senior year in college that I knew I had a chance to go (to the WNBA), and then (the Olympics) became a reality of something that I wanted to do.”

BTW:

Liz got in foul trouble (surprise! not) and Australia struggled – but they eked out a 61-56 win over Turkey.

Spain had it’s issues, too, but came out victorious over Serbia, 59-65.

France escaped Belarus, 73-72, courtesy of a last second shot by

 

Random: Olympic Basketball Player Sue Bird: 25 Things You Don’t Know About Me (I Went to High School With Natalie Portman)

15. My sister is five years older and when we were younger she used to “time me” so I’d go get her things. This continued until the day I figured it out, and when she asked me to get her a drink, I put soap in it. That ended that.

This Year’s Olympics Will Have The Most Openly LGBT Athletes Ever

The last three Summer Olympics clearly reveal the progress made. In 2008, 12 LGBT athletes participated in Beijing. In London in 2012, that number rose to 22. Now, in Rio, there are 43. And that number is expected to grow even higher in the future.

“The sports world is far more evolved on LGBTQ issues than we give it credit for,” said Cyd Zeigler, a founder of Outsports.com. “While there may still be issues in some front offices, the athletes and fans have been ready, willing and able to accept and welcome gay teammates and colleagues for many years.”

SI.com: On international stage with Team USA, Tina Charles doesn’t plan to hide her voice

I believe in leading by example. On and off the court, I want my actions to speak for my character. As a professional athlete, I know the power of the platform I have and the significance of the impact I can make. In 2013, I started the Hopey’s Heart Foundation, named after my late aunt Maureen “Hopey” Vaz; it’s an AED grant program that to date has donated more than 200 AED’s worldwide.  When my aunt passed away, I was determined to create something reflective of her giving nature, the same values she helped instill in me. In years past, I have donated half of my WNBA salary to my foundation; this year, I donated my entire salary. When I stand for something, I do so with my full conviction.

In July, a series of headline-grabbing fatalities shook me to my core.

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1996: Gold, Sweat and Tears

1996

2016 The Legacy Continues: The 2016 USAWB Team

And I’ll say it again: If you love Olympic Women’s Basketball and want to know the realities of it, you need to read “Venus to the Hoop” and “Shooting from the Outside.”

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USA Basketball Women’s National Team Post-Practice Quotes

USA assistant coach Dawn Staley (University of South Carolina)
On Senegal, the USA’s opening opponent:
Senegal will look to push the ball up the floor by passing ahead to posts or guards in transition. Other than that, they want to set up a half-court offense where they have a certain look that they want. They certainly want to get their guards great looks from the outside, or drive it hard to the basket. Their posts are their utility players: screeners, rebounders, and they run the floor. They’re led by their guard play, so it’s important for them to play well in order for them to be successful.

USA Today: Breanna Stewart diary: On cruise ships, traffic and chemistry

Eight years ago, as a 14-year-old in North Syracuse, N.Y., I was glued to the TV set, watching the U.S. basketball teams — men and women — win gold in Beijing. I tried to imagine what it would be like to be an Olympian.

Now I’m starting to get the idea.

Being a part of opening ceremony on Friday night was surreal. We got to meet Michael Phelps and Serena Williams. Walking through the tunnel into the stadium, 550 athletes strong in our blue blazers and white pants, you heard this massive roar go up when they announced United States of America, and it was one of the greatest rushes I ever felt. I could’ve played a basketball game right there in my red, white and blue boat shoes — that’s how pumped up I was.

Doug: Fans like dunks, but Griner eyeing Olympic shot block mark

That individual goal would be setting the shot block record.

“That’s the one I really want,” the 6-foot-8 Griner said. “Dunking is nice, but blocking shots helps us defensively and also can lead to offense.”

The problem for the Phoenix Mercury center is that no one really knows what that shot block mark might be since there is no official Olympic record book.

“Really? Well then I’ll just have to set it,” Griner said with a smile. “And blocked shots help us win.”

Also from Doug: Griner’s hairy moment with Michael Phelps

Joe Rexrode: Lady Vols legend Tamika Catchings has found her voice

This is not officially part of Tamika Catchings’ Legacy Tour, though you can be sure she is engaging with the people of Brazil and leaving some of them better than she found them.

See, even as we consider the stature of this basketball career that is ending, the true legacy of 37-year-old Catchings is still under construction. There are professional athletes who start foundations, there are some who get serious about them, and there are the few like Catchings who live through them and find a way to make them matter.

Also, there are public figures who can help foster meaningful discussion about things that aren’t easy to discuss. Recent bloodshed in our country and Catchings’ important — and misunderstood by some — role in the aftermath marks her as someone who should have an increased presence in that arena.

Simply put, the former Tennessee great is cool with everyone.

The Advocate: Another crossover: Seimone Augustus keeps Baton Rouge on her mind as she pursues more Olympic gold

Marriage and playing a role in LGBT issues are only part of Augustus’ crossover. In high school and college, her flashy skill set spoke volumes, and that was enough.

Not anymore.

“I’m proud of Seimone for everything she does on the court, but the thing I’m proudest of is her growth as a person,” said former LSU assistant coach Bob Starkey, now at Texas A&M. “She’s always been a great player and teammate. Now she’s comfortable and confident enough to express her thoughts. There’s a depth to Seimone that people are seeing now.”

Johnette Howard: Rio is final encore for UConn basketball power trio

In the past they always could hold on to the idea that there might be another tomorrow for the three of them to be together again — back in the gym, back chasing another big title of some sort and reveling in the wisecracking, blunt, demanding relationship they’ve had since they were all at the University of Connecticut and coach Geno Auriemma was the unquestioned boss.

But point guard Sue Bird is 35 now and contemplating retirement. Diana Taurasi is 34, and she skipped the 2015 WNBA season to recover from the burnout of playing year-round in the U.S. and overseas. They agree the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro are surely the last time they’ll play for Auriemma, who is 62. And all three of them are determined to give this last ride together the reverence — and irreverence — it deserves.

Globe & Mail: Kelly: Canadian women’s basketball team could teach men’s side a thing or two about sacrifice

Seventy-four days ago, Canadian basketball star Kia Nurse had surgery to repair a hernia.

She was told that she’d be healed after eight weeks. In a best-case scenario, she could return to sports after ten.

“(The medical staff) told me, ‘You’ll be in rehab for four hours a day and you’ll love it, but we’ll get you there’.”

So Nurse, 20, had the operation. Eleven weeks later, she’s at the Olympics. Though she’s in the recovery window, the injury still hurts.

“But I’m a tough kid,” Nurse says, tugging bashfully on the straps of her jersey.

BTW:

Opals stand tall in face of home ground advantage

Canada dumps China 90-68 in Olympic women’s basketball preliminary round opener and Three-point barrage propels Canada over China in women’s basketball prelim

Japan wins 1st women’s basketball Olympic game since 2004, edging Belarus 77-73

France beats Turkey in opening game of women’s basketball tournament

NBC: Op-Ed: Why Are Team USA’s Openly LGBTQ Olympians All Women?

Not Basketball, but we’ve read this story before, and it still needs to be told: Out Of The Blue – On the eve of her third Summer Games, six-time U.S. Olympic swimming medalist Allison Schmitt hopes her frank talk about depression and loss offers a lifeline to other athletes.

Allison Schmitt surfaced from sleep in the middle of the night thinking it might snow on her three-hour drive to central Pennsylvania.

She curled her 6-foot-1 body into a ball and wept. Her thoughts cascaded, frantic: I can’t do this anymore. I just don’t even want to be here anymore.

If it snowed, she could drift over the lane line and people would think she’d had an accident on her way to see a college hockey game. No one would guess what had gripped her in the moment. She couldn’t grasp it herself. She was an Olympic swimming champion, barely treading water.

Back in the States – WNBA coaches put Olympic break time to good use

“I think all the teams just look at it” as positively as possible, says Chicago Coach-GM Pokey Chatman. It can be a mixed blessing of sorts, she points out. “If you’re a team that’s inconsistent or you’re a team that is trying to have someone heal from injury,” then the break is welcomed, says Chatman. “If we get on a little run [going into the break], I’m not going to like the break,” jokes the coach.

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“Work!”

Random post to start your Sunday off with a smile….

WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE SELF EVIDENT
THAT ALL MEN ARE CREATED
AND WHEN I MEET THOMAS JEFFERSON
I’M ‘A COMPEL HIM TO INCLUDE WOMEN IN THE SEQUEL

WORK!

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Screwing with the constant “WEEEEEE’RE DOOOOOOOMED” narrative: WNBA’s 20th season produces strong numbers and ratings

NY Times: Quiet Protest Helped Tina Charles Find the Voice of Her Conscience

“Of course, as an individual, I do have goals to be one of the best players in the W.N.B.A.,” Charles said Thursday. “But when you reach a goal, nothing compares to the person you become along the way.”

Hartford Courant: Breanna Stewart: Transition From UConn Sheds Light On Gender Discrepancies In Athletics

Okay: Harry Potter and the WNBA Power Rankings cast

Aussie! Aussie! Don’t! Go! Phoenix Mercury guard Penny Taylor to retire at season’s end

One part elaborate marketing promotion, one part performance art and all parts exhausting, the season-long athlete retirement tour has seen a rebirth in recent years.

Derek Jeter earned half a year’s worth of #RE2PECT at ballparks across the country. Nike gave Kobe Bryant his own holiday. Forty-year-old David Ortiz is currently making his long trek around league, picking up plenty of interesting parting gifts along the way.

Indiana Fever star Tamika Catchings didn’t want anything of the sort. No elaborate branding campaign, no pregame ceremony celebrating her many accomplishments, no odd presents from opposing teams. Instead, Catchings, a league champion, MVP, 10-time All-Star and five-time Defensive Player of the Year who is going for her fourth Olympic gold medal, is flipping the script.

Like Jeter before her, Catchings is doing it her way, and her way means instead of honoring herself, she’s using her 15th and final go-around the league to give back. league’s 12 cities.

The argument for or against professional athletes being role models to the youth of today’s society has many different viewpoints, but when talking about Laney High School alum Tamera Young, she’s been able to utilize her platform as a veteran in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) to make an impact in the two communities she calls home.
The Sparks haven’t wanted for star power since Candace Parker arrived in 2008, but the team has struggled to capitalize on her greatness, topping out in the playoffs with a trio of conference final losses. That could change this year, however, thanks to an out-of-this-world breakout season by 26-year-old forward Nneka Ogwumike. Ogwumike has always been good, but she’s currently putting on one of the greatest single-season performances in WNBA history, and it has the Sparks finally playing like champions.
Yea! (but I would have been campaigning for a visit with Audra McDonald – swoon!) After a long social media campaign, WNBA rookie Imani Boyette finally met 50 Cent

NCAA:

Carp: Tennessee loses Carter, Cooper for upcoming season

Nice: West Virginia’s women’s basketball team exhibition to benefit flood victims

WATN? Former Hawkeye women’s basketball player Sam Logic hosts Camp 22 in Davenport

Did you catch this? Miami Women’s Basketball Coach Blasts Texas A&M

Miami women’s basketball coach Katie Meier was not happy with the sexist slides from the Texas A&M football women’s clinic, which have gotten the Aggies criticized nationally and led to the suspension of two staff members.

Last night, Meier blasted A&M on Twitter for the slides. She also expressed disapproval for only punishing offensive line coach Jim Turner and special teams coordinator Jeff Banks with two-week suspensions.

Keeping an eye on this: 3 black players file discrimination suit against Cottey College

NCAA & WNBA: Olympics: Double the coaching, double the threat

“Playing for both Coach Auriemma and Coach Reeve has been a blast,” said Moore. “They’re both very competitive, both very detailed oriented, but both enjoy the game, enjoy their teams, so I’m just getting double the coaching trouble here with having them both here.”

Bob Kravitz – WTHR/NBC: Fever’s Tamika Catchings prepares to say farewell to the Olympic world stage

“What are you doing?’’ I asked Tamika Catchings.

She was alone, sitting on the edge of a press-conference room stage, having previously done interviews with Indianapolis-area media members like your humble correspondent.

After a short round of interviews – and Tamika is the only Indy athlete who insists on hugging all members of the local media – she was alone. No national media talking to her. No international media talking to her. In fact, the press-conference room, which was filled for the U.S. men’s basketball team just one day earlier, was maybe one-sixth filled.

“Just hanging,’’ she said. “Waiting to go back (to the boat where the basketball teams are staying).’’

This is nuts. And this is wrong. And this is completely expected. 

USA Today: Serial survivor Seimone Augustus key for US women’s basketball team

Geno Auriemma’s team will be a prohibitive favorite in Brazil, befitting a group that has a 41-game Olympic winning streak and has won the last five gold medals. It is a roster overstuffed with big names and world-class stars, none of whom has a story quite like Seimone Augustus. Her basketball resume includes two national player of the year awards at LSU and a WNBA Finals MVP trophy with the Minnesota Lynx, and her health resume qualifies as a medical horror story.

“With all the stuff she’s been through, she has always stayed the same person,” said longtime teammate Diana Taurasi. “She’s has this even keel about her. That’s impressive. She’s (been) one of the biggest pieces of this team for a long time.”

Also: Seimone Augustus proud of WNBA player activism

USA Today: Elena Delle Donne outgrew gymnastics dream, targets basketball gold

Elena Delle Donne — who at 6-5 is a guard in a pivot player’s body and the pride of Delaware — brings her unique gifts to Rio, a 26-year-old Olympic rookie whose first five-ring dream, alas, never quite materialized. It was hatched in Atlanta 20 years ago, when young Elena watched from home in Wilmington as 4-foot-8 Kerri Strug stuck a vault with an injured ankle to help the U.S. women’s gymnastics team win gold.

“I wanted to be a gymnast,” Delle Donne told USA TODAY Sports with a laugh. “It was all about (Strug.) I should’ve known there was no chance.”

Yakima Herald: Bird, Stewart bring exuberance to US women’s Olympic basketball team

Breanna Stewart can tell you where she was, what she did, and how she felt when she got the call notifying her she made the 2016 U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team.

“You’re supposed to keep it under wraps, but the first thing I did was call my parents,” said the first-time Olympian of sharing the news while standing in the lobby of her Seattle apartment building. “My dad started crying on the phone.”

The Summer Olympics begin this week, and tales of poop-filled water, human body remains on the shore, petty crime, serious crime, terrorism with a topping of the Zika virus have beset the Rio Games.

Sign me up.

Star-Telegram staffer Charean Williams will be covering this event, Erin Phillips of the WNBA’s Dallas Wings will be playing for her Team Australia … and I am green with envy.

EVEN as Marianna Tolo fell to the floor in agony last August her mind started the mental mathematics.

She had just torn her ACL in her first season of WNBA basketball and yet the only thing that really mattered was the 2016 Rio Olympics.

One of the last two players cut from the London 2012 squad, Tolo has made a remarkable recovery to get back to the court in the nick of time.

“My first Olympics, we had players like Dawn Staley, Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes,” Bird said. “They showed us what it meant to be a part of USA basketball. How to carry yourself. How to play. How to play within the team. How to put the gold medal before anything else.

“… When you get older, you want to pass that on to the new crop coming in. Not only are you honored to be a part of the tradition, you want to make sure you’re keeping it up.”

Forty years ago this summer, a team of 12 women laid the foundation for the future of women’s basketball in the United States, competing as part of Team USA in the first-ever Olympic women’s basketball tournament at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.

There was no WNBA at the time, nor any professional women’s league in the U.S. at all. But for most of the group, this wasn’t their first high-stakes basketball tournament, as nine of the 12 women on the team had also played for Team USA at the Pan American Games the year before. Given the strength of the international competition, however, Team USA wasn’t expected to even qualify for the 1976 Olympics, let alone win a medal. But, led by coach Billie Jean Moore and co-captains Juliene Simpson and Pat Summitt (then known as Pat Head), they ended up going very far, eventually taking home the silver medal. 

For an inside look at the 1976 team’s historic run, The Huffington Post spoke with head coach Billie Jean Moore, players Nancy Lieberman, Ann Meyers and Juliene Simpson, who all played for the 1975 team, too, and Gail Marquis and Trish Roberts, who were newcomers in 1976. 

Along with athletes getting to know their counterparts from other nations, CISM also provides opportunities for officials to engage at the highest levels, Dinote said. “These can lead to training engagements down the road,” he added.

This week’s championship is the culmination of a “long process of trying to get women’s basketball on the map,” said Dinote, who also serves as secretariat of U.S. Armed Forces Sports.

Phelps was diagnosed with ALS in April 2015. Within six months he lost his ability to speak. In January, he was forced to eat and drink using a feeding tube.

But he continued officiating games around the state, using an orange hand-held whistle and LCD board to convey his thoughts if needed at the scorer’s table.

Players even took notice.

“It was a blast tonight, but being able to see Carl was even more amazing,” said Cache star Jamie Bonnarens, who delivered a personal letter to Phelps between games. “I got emotional before my game.”

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Um, Ex-cuuuuuuuse me NBC?

Where did this dude get his playbook from? Trump’s brain? Why NBC didn’t show the opening ceremony live, and its explanation is eyebrow-raising

John Miller, NBC’s chief marketing officer, seems to say that delaying the broadcast is OK because women don’t care about the results:

“The people who watch the Olympics are not particularly sports fans. More women watch the games than men, and for the women, they’re less interested in the result and more interested in the journey. It’s sort of like the ultimate reality show and miniseries wrapped into one. And to tell the truth, it has been the complaint of a few sportswriters. It has not been the complaint of the vast viewing public.”

Taking a deep breath….

Basketball is on starting at 11AM EST

Turkey v. France – could be a good one, especially if the Turkish team can carry forward the chutzpah they mustered during the 2014 Worlds.

Speaking of which: France, Turkey use hoops to heal their nations after attacks

For players on both teams, being at the Summer Olympics in Rio offers a respite from what’s happening at home — and a chance to show the world a united front.

“In France, we started to lose faith in people,” French center Isabelle Yacoubou said. “I hope these Olympics will show people how we can come back together. We are all here together. It’s not like some French, because you’re black or white, are against other French people. We are all French and fighting for the country. I hope this little time, we will find some joy and try to forget these bad moments.”

From UNC: Pringle Sanders Takes Unique Path To Olympic Stage

Carolina fans may not immediately recognize the name Lara Sanders when they see it on the roster for the Turkey women’s basketball team. But they will certainly recognize the game when Sanders and her adopted countrywomen take the court starting Saturday in pursuit of the country’s first Olympic basketball medal. 

Brazil v. Australia – we’ve ignored Brazil for a while… which makes me sad.

Belarus v. Japan – watch for the WNBAers on the team, stay for possible WNBA draft picks.

China v. Canada – first game, first step for the Canadians in their quest for a medal

OLYMPIAN OVERVIEW: KIA NURSE

During the London Olympics in 2012, when Canada Basketball’s Senior Women’s National Team made its long-awaited return to the Summer Games, Kia Nurse was in training camp with the Junior Women’s National Team, preparing for that summer’s FIBA World U17 Championship.

When the SWNT played, Kia would gather with her teammates to watch on TV, cheering on the Olympians and dreaming she too could one day compete on sport’s greatest stage.

But never did the 20-year-old phenomenon from Hamilton believe it would come this soon.

In case you’re interested: MEET THE FEMALE COACHES HEADING UP THE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL AT RIO 2016…

CBC Sports: Sue Bird feels pressure in gold medal pursuit with U.S. basketball team

Three Olympic gold medals later, Sue Bird is asked the question. 

Do they get more difficult to win? 

“Yes and no,” the United States women’s basketball captain told CBC Sports ahead of the Rio Games. “When you’re young … and you’re just playing basketball, you can be a little bit more free. 

“Now that I’m older … and I know what other teams are going to do, it definitely makes me think more. [It] probably adds a little more pressure, so I don’t know if it gets easier.”

FYI: For AP Coverage, keep track of @DougFeinberg and @TeresaMWalker

 

BTW: OMG, great punking of the IOCCpLrxWZUAAAIcBu-1.jpg-large.jpeg

BTW: Skylar Diggins is conquering Asia on Nike basketball tour during Olympic break

COLLEGE

Congrats!  Shannon Schweyen to be next Lady Griz head coach ’cause, in case you missed it: End of an era: Robin Selvig announces retirement

Wednesday’s news that Robin Selvig has stepped down as head coach of the Montana Lady Griz basketball program was stunning for friends and foes.

And family, too.

“I’ve known about it for awhile, but it’s still a shocker,” said Carly Selvig, the niece of the legendary UM coach who played for him a few years ago. “Now that it’s out, it’s hitting hard. Crazy.”

It was announced on the UM website Wednesday afternoon that Selvig, 63, is ending a 38-year run as Lady Griz coach.

Robin Selvig stepping down after 38 seasons with Lady Griz

Mansch: We’ll recall Selvig for more than wins

Krista Redpath was one of several Great Falls girls who went to UM to play for Selvig. If they thought they were getting just a basketball coach, they were mistaken.

“He extends so much further than the basketball court,” Redpath said. “Other than my dad, he’s been the most influential basketball person in my life, and if there’s ever a question in my life about anything that’s going on, Rob has always been the first person I go for advice.”

Because he’s a genuinely nice guy.

Perhaps not so nice to line up against, though.

 

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Reading as Rio begins…

*SPOILER ALERT* For the Louisville fan who left the W because wants his sports “politics free…” If you’re still here, look. away. now.

Review: ‘Olympic Pride, American Prejudice’ Recalls Black Athletes in 1936

The Olympic Games have never been immune from politics, and they certainly weren’t in 1936, when Berlin was the host city and Hitlersought to present the Third Reich in a flattering light. That the United States thwarted him is largely because of the black athletes who receive their due in Deborah Riley Draper’s deft and comprehensive documentary “Olympic Pride, American Prejudice.” As the movie makes clear, racial politics played a major role, both domestically and abroad.

On to women’s basketball….

Harvey, NY Times: Let LeBron James and Others Bail From Rio. These Women? Not a Chance.

In the run-up to Rio, the athletes getting much of the attention have been those bailing on the Games, making personal judgment calls, committing no ethical crimes.

Now it is time to forget those who are abstaining and to focus on the folks going without fear or complaint. In the cases of Taurasi, Bird and their Olympic teammate Tamika Catchings, it is those who have heard the tales of certain woe and potential mayhem for the last dozen years and responded by asking, When do we leave?

“There’s always something leading up to the Olympics — it’s always something,” Bird said.

Taurasi nodded when reminded of her and Bird’s first Olympics, Athens in 2004. In the aftermath of the Iraq invasion, she said, “There were moments where it was nasty. We’d ask for directions, and they would say, ‘We don’t speak Bush.’”

Yah, she’s going for the gold – but, whoopee! She’s getting married, too! Vogue: Meet the Basketball Star Who’s Poised to Take the Olympic Games by Storm

As the U.S. team heads to Rio in pursuit of its sixth back-to-back gold, all eyes are on Elena Delle Donne.

By the time their daughter was standing two heads above her fellow kindergartners, Elena Delle Donne’s parents knew she was an unusual child, and were not terribly surprised when, aged ten, Elena joined a basketball team and led it to place third in the national championships. Recently voted Most Valuable Player of the Women’s National Basketball Association, Elena is currently poised to lead the U.S. women’s Olympic basketball team to collect its sixth consecutive gold in Rio. “She is a once-in-a generation type of player,” says NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum. “She’s a Steph Curry.”

SB Nation: Elena Delle Donne and Brittney Griner breathe new life into the US women’s basketball team

Barring a major collapse, the U.S. women’s basketball team should easily win its fifth consecutive Olympic gold in Rio. Despite cutting superstar forward Candace Parker from the roster in a surprising move, Team USA is in as good a position as ever. 

You can thank new additions Elena Delle Donne and Brittney Griner for that. Their additions directly address the few weaknesses on the last Olympic team, and because both are just beginning their primes, they should extend Team USA’s dominance into the future.

Chicago Tribune: Why it still matters when LGBT athletes reveal their sexuality

I thought American society had progressed to the point where a person’s sexual orientation did not matter, and that it wasn’t necessary for professional athletes to say they are gay, lesbian or bisexual. I used to think, who cares?

I could not have been more wrong.

Back in March, I wrote for the first time in the Tribune that I was gay, and I pegged it to a column that criticized the NFL for a culture that still makes a home for homophobia. Then in April, I wrote about the impact using an anti-gay slur, such as the one former Blackhawk Andrew Shaw was suspended for during the Stanley Cup playoffs, can have on people struggling with their sexual identity.

I wasn’t anticipating the reaction I got from those pieces. I received emails and messages on Twitter saying I was going to hell when I die. Some people called me the same anti-gay slur Shaw used, and a handful even threatened physical violence.

Charming: Olympic fans taunt lesbian soccer players with homophobic chant

Soccer fans at the opening matches of the Olympic women’s soccer tournament chanted homophobic slurs, among other horrible things, at various players on Wednesday. Reports from various sources say the Portuguese term “bicha” was tossed around liberally by fans during the matches; That is similar to the “puto” chants we have heard from fans of Mexico and other Latin American countries.

While some are claiming that the chant was “Zika,” various outlets have reported hearing both “Zika” and “bicha” during the matches.

The Los Angeles Times‘ Kevin Baxter, who is in Brazil covering the Olympics, said that the homophobic slur was aimed at the U.S. Women’s National Team during its 2-0 victory over New Zealand on Wednesday. At least one of the USWNT players — Megan Rapinoe — is gay, as is head coach Jill Ellis. While the “Zika” chants aimed at Hope Solowere bad enough, targeting out LGBT people with anti-gay slurs is the lowest of the low.

SB Nation: The real ‘Dream Team’ has arrived in Rio

Voice of America: US Women’s Basketball Squad Aims for Sixth Straight Gold Medal

Amid concerns about health, security and logistical problems at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, the U.S. basketball players are staying afloat — literally.

ESPN: US women taking nothing for granted in Rio

USATeam.org: The U.S. Women’s Basketball Players Have A Combined 17 Gold Medals. That’s How They Plan To Win In Rio.

USA Today: Fear of losing motivates Geno Auriemma, US women’s basketball team

Inside The W with Michelle Smith

The U.S. Women’s National Team – the best collection of women’s basketball players on one roster in the world – has arrived in Rio for the Olympics.

This collection of WNBA stars has flown south to dominate, to take home their sixth straight gold medal, a historic run of success matched only by the U.S. Men’s National Basketball Team that stood on the gold medal podium between 1936 and 1968.

Led by three-time gold medalists Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and Tamika Catchings, the USA will be overwhelming favorites in Rio.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of interesting questions surrounding this remarkable group of players and their quest.

Spokesman Recorder: WNBA players demonstrate Olympic-class commitment

The 2016 USA Women’s National Team begins its Olympic quest for gold Sunday against Senegal in Rio. Unlike their NBA brethren, some of whom find excuses not to accept the USA Basketball invitation, this isn’t the case as all 12 USA team members are WNBAers who gladly accepted their invites.

“I have been given a great opportunity to be on another Olympic team,” said Lindsay Whalen in an MSR interview before she, along with fellow Lynx teammates Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore and Sylvia Fowles, left to join their U.S. teammates to practice and play four exhibition games before leaving for Brazil August 2.

Yardbarker: US women’s basketball looks to continue a legacy of dominance

Forty years ago in the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games, the first U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball team took the court for their second international competition. Led by head coach Billie Jean Moore and co-captains Juliene Simpson and Pat Head (who would go on to become the legendary Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt), the team would exceed all expectations and leave Canada with a silver medal and the world’s respect.

A lot has changed in the 40 years since the first time the USA touted its first women’s basketball team. In 1976, the team wasn’t even expected to qualify for the games; in 2016, the U.S. Women’s team isn’t expected to lose a game.

.com: Tri-Captains Can Make It Four Straight Gold Medals This Summer

26 All-Star selections, six WNBA championships, two league MVP awards, and a bevy of other accolades are what the United States’ tri-captains bring to the Olympic fold. But, ahead of all their professional success, Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, and Tamika Catchings are all three-time Olympic gold medalists.

These pillars of women’s basketball can join Teresa Edwards and Lisa Leslie as the only professional basketball players to win four gold medals if they capture gold in Rio. Each is well into their 30’s, with Catchings already set on making this season, and in turn gold medal run, her last. Taurasi and Bird, at 34 and 35 respectively, have made a habit of defying the odds throughout their career, but even they would be foolish to think that this isn’t their last shot at Olympic gold.

Excelle Sports: Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi: gold standard for basketball backcourts

There are some duos in professional sports who are forever linked. Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. Venus and Serena Williams. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Misty-May Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings. Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. These are the athletes whose names are synonymous with one another, eternally carved out side-by-side in the annals of sports history.

For women’s basketball, it’s Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi.

Before the start of the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, USA basketball teammates and three-time Olympic gold medalists Bird and Taurasi went out to dinner and discussed the days ahead, and their fourth Olympic journey together.

Seattle Storm/.com: Olympics Preview: Bird and Stewart Going For United States’ Sixth Straight Gold Medal

Women’s basketball at the Olympics begins Saturday, when Storm forward Ramu Tokashiki and Japan take on Belarus. Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart and the United States open against Senegal on Sunday. This marks the first time multiple Storm players are on the USA Olympic roster.

Here is everything you need to know about the Games in Rio de Janeiro.

New York Daily News: Team USA women’s basketball: A Rio Olympics viewer’s guide

FIBA.com: Top 10 reasons to follow the Rio 2016 Women’s Olympic Basketball Tournament

  1. Talent aplenty

    The Olympics is one of the biggest stages where stars prove their value. In Rio, the list of superstars is almost never-ending. Here are just 10 of the biggest players to follow: Maya Moore (USA), Liz Cambage(Australia), Kia Nurse (Canada), Marine Johannes (France), Shao Ting(China), Lindsey Harding (Belarus), Ramu Tokashiki (Japan), Alba Torrens(Spain), Lara Sanders (Turkey), Astou Traore (Senegal), and Sonja Petrovic (Serbia). 

Paul Nilsen: The answers I’m looking for at Rio 2016

While I won’t have the pleasure of being courtside in Rio, I will be glued to the action to find out the answers to some key questions.

Can anyone get near to the USA? 
In reality, nobody should get within single digits of them. But even the best teams can have an off-night and it depends who it is against and when. Most people think Australia will be the only threat to their dominance. I think only Serbia have any chance in a one-off game, because they are a team who can explode offensively.

Oh, Canada: Ready for Rio: Canada’s basketball team wants medal ‘no matter what’

Sacrifice worth it for Canadian women’s basketball veterans

Canadian women’s basketball team ready for ‘dogfight’

 The sun was barely peaking over the Olympic Village on Friday when Canada’s basketball women shuffled out of their beds and into an early-morning practice session.

An hour later, they shuffled back off the court — tired and worn out from yet another scrimmage, and anxious to finally face a real opponent at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“I feel like we’re ready to play a game against someone other than ourselves,” said power forward Natalie Achonwa, of Guelph.

Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Mariana Tolo has started a blog: Opening Ceremony Day

Hello and welcome to my blog! This being my first ever Olympics, I was very excited but nervous concerning all the hype about the problems in Rio. The Australian Olympic Committee did a great job being prepared and solving problems to do with our building in the village and prevention of mozzie bites. We have seen quite a few mozzies flying around the busses on the way to training but no one has been bitten yet! We are coating ourselves in Bushman’s repellant.

ESPN, Michelle Smith: Sebnem Kimyacioglu hopes to bring a sense of pride to Turkey in Rio Olympics

After I graduated from Stanford in 2005, I went overseas to play basketball in the Turkish and European leagues and I played there for three years before I hung up my sneakers and returned to the United States to go to law school. I graduated from Santa Clara School of Law, took the California bar exam and I really didn’t think I’d be playing basketball competitively again.

But my Stanford teammate Kristen Newlin and her husband, who coaches basketball in Turkey, were visiting me and we were playing in a pickup game with my law school teammates and he asked me, “Have you thought about playing again?”

Zut, alors! Ankle injury rules Dumerc out of Rio Games, Bouderra steps in

A little US history:

.com: Catching Up With Jennifer Azzi: 1996 Olympics, WNBA20 and Coaching

The 1996 Olympic team started off a string of five straight gold medals. What’s the relationship between that team and the 2016 Olympic team?

It was a pivotal Olympics and a pivotal experience for furthering our game. That sort of spirit of togetherness and respect – the respect for wearing your country on your jersey – the team now reflects that too. Some of the players on that team crossed over with some of our players, so across that 20 years, you have players on the 2016 team that played with players on our team. It’s fun to think about the fact that we have that continuity.”

Texas Sports: Women’s Basketball Q&A with Kamie Ethridge. Ethridge (UT, 1982-86) played for Team USA in the 1988 Olympic Games.

TexasSports.com: In 1988, you and Andrea Lloyd were the first Olympic women’s basketball players from the University of Texas. What was it like to be the first from UT? 

Kamie Ethridge: “I think you don’t necessarily think of it in those terms when you’re a player. For my career at Texas and Andrea’s, as well, we were a part of history. We came into a very successful program that Coach [Jody] Conradt had built. We had a chance to compete for national championships in all four years, winning one in 1986. For us, it was a natural progression. When you play for one of the best teams in the country, it puts you in a position to be one of the best players in the country and represent your country. Every summer, I had the opportunity to do that in some form or fashion. The Olympics were the culmination of a four-year career of being part of USA Basketball. Because of Texas, many of us had the opportunity to further our careers with USA Basketball. We had one of the best programs in the country and Texas was the building block that gave us a chance to represent our country.”

Some general stuff…

Washington Post: They’ll never be royals: Many Olympians go unpaid, while IOC aristocrats collect

Prince Albert II of Monaco was born into wealth. His father was Prince Rainer III; his mother was American actress Grace Kelly. Albert’s net worth has been estimated to exceed $1 billion. And while he definitely does not need the cash, thanks to the International Olympic Committee’s generous perks package, Prince Albert could actually collect more money while he watches the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro this month than many Team USA athletes will get paid to compete in the Summer Games. 

Washington Post examination of the Olympic Movement published last week showed how, for the most part, being a bureaucrat who helps run the Olympics is far more lucrative than being a world-class athlete competing in the Olympics. 

Dave Zirin: Brazil’s Dance with the Devil: 2016 Rio Olympics Begin with Government Dysfunction & Police Violence

We’ve seen this in so many sports … Indy Star: A blind eye to sex abuse: How USA Gymnastics failed to report cases 

Top executives at one of America’s most prominent Olympic organizations failed to alert authorities to many allegations of sexual abuse by coaches — relying on a policy that enabled predators to abuse gymnasts long after USA Gymnastics had received warnings.

An IndyStar investigation uncovered multiple examples of children suffering the consequences, including a Georgia case in which a coach preyed on young female athletes for seven years after USA Gymnastics dismissed the first of four warnings about him.

In a 2013 lawsuit filed by one of that coach’s victims, two former USA Gymnastics officials admitted under oath that the organization routinely dismissed sexual abuse allegations as hearsay unless they came directly from a victim or victim’s parent.

The Guardian: US Olympic committee will not investigate gymnastics ‘sexual abuse’

Zip back to some stuff on US soil: 30 Rock: Celebrating The WNBA’s 30-Point Evolution

During the WNBA’s 20th season, 30 has become the league’s most prominent number. Nothing better reflects the WNBA’s evolution than the 25 30-point games entering the Olympic Break. It’s evidence of many things, from offenses becoming more innovative to scorers now coming in many styles and sizes. Like the NBA, uptempo attacks have become the W’s staple. Size literally doesn’t matter, considering three-point specialists can dominate just as effectively as traditional low-post bruisers.

So what, besides players evolving, has changed around the WNBA? For one, the shot clock now resets to from 24 to 14 seconds on offensive rebounds, speeding up the game and adding possessions, an element Washington coach Mike Thibault’s approved of.

.com: Rookie Report: Hate It Or Love It, Imani Boyette’s On Top

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