but, first things first: Let’s talk about how the game on the court has changed in twenty years.
Two decades ago, my Lib were battling the Timms/Gillom Merc in a one-and-done to get to the finals (IN Phoenix). I distinctly recall sitting with a friend in Astoria, watching the game on TV and thinking, “There’s no way we’re going to win.”
Wowza, we did! Final score? 59-41.
Angel carried’em through the first round but was dinged and gassed against the Sky. Both teams scorched the baskets. If EDD returns (is she returning???), her teammates are going to have to remember to share the ball with her. :-)
The playoff format may have changed, but some things apparently never will. For the fourth straight year and fifth time in six years, the Phoenix Mercury and Minnesota Lynx will square off with the winner advancing to the WNBA Finals.
Minnesota: AP’s Whalen flourishing after turning down overseas money
Lindsay Whalen hobbled through the regular season last year. She hobbled through the playoffs. She even hobbled through the Minnesota Lynx championship celebration.
And so when it came time to head overseas for an 11th straight winter to go cash in on a can’t-miss opportunity to make the kind of money that just isn’t available to women’s basketball players in the United States, Whalen decided she had enough.
Janel McCarville returned to the Lynx this season knowing she’d be a backup for the first time in a decade. She embraced the role with gusto and has helped make Minnesota’s bench the envy of the WNBA — not to mention party central.
“Bench is where it’s at these days,” McCarville said.
We’re about to see what we didn’t get two years ago, but would have enjoyed: a best-of-five series between Minnesota and Phoenix in the WNBA playoffs.
Mackay’s Sandy Brondello has been inducted to the Queensland Basketball Hall of Fame in the same week the Women’s National Basketball Association team she coaches made the playoffs.
Brondello lives in America with her family and coaches Phoenix Mercury, which progressed to the WNBA semi-finals at the weekend.
When she last spoke with the Daily Mercury, in July, Brondello said the team wasn’t in the right place to be in playoff contention.
“We struggled at the start of the season but we had the potential to be one of the best teams,” she said.
Have you ever met twins who were born 628 days apart?
Well, now you have.
Meet me and my big sister Nneka.
O.K., so obviously we’re not actually twins … but we may as well be. The first thing you should know about sisters who are really, really close is that we have our own language.
And I don’t just mean emojis (though we do have our own sister-emoji code). Here, for example, is text exchange with Nneka from this past weekend:
There was a moment earlier this season when there was a bit of a strange sound in Nneka Ogumike’s voice when she was asked about the difficulty of facing defending champion Minnesota.
Was that a little edge we heard from Ogwumike? She of the perpetually cheerful disposition and easy, bubbling laugh? Yeah, it sounded that way.
David Zirin, for Slam: Can’t Hold Us Down: Lost amid this summer’s deluge of splashier, less uncomfortable headlines, a group of WNBA players refused to have their public political protests silenced. Threatened with discipline and fines, they fought the league. And won.
There are times when the rock of history gets pushed forward by just a yard and we miss the fact that it’s not just an ordinary yard. It’s one that takes us into new territory.
I would make the case that such a moment went down in July.
It’s understandable if we didn’t fully appreciate it. At the intersection of sports and politics, this was a cacophonous, emotional summer. There was the death of Muhammad Ali. There were the countless controversies at the Rio Olympics. And there was that moment at the ESPYs when Carmelo, CP3, D-Wade and LeBron opened the show by speaking about police violence and made a public commitment to use their platform to help agitate for a solution.
In a smaller font, with far less attention, this summer was also when WNBA stars like Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen, Rebekkah Brunson (above with Moore), Swin Cash and Tina Charles used their own platform to wear political t-shirts during their pre-game warmups.
The Dallas Wings finished their first season in Dallas-Fort Worth on the wrong side of the playoff picture with an 11-23 record. The season started off promisingly but was largely derailed by a series of injuries to several key players. But the team’s general manager Greg Bibb did not want to make any excuses following the season.
“I think we had fairly high aspirations for what this team could achieve this year and we fell short there so it’s disappointing,” Bibb said. “I’m a big believer in you-are-what-your-record-says-you-are and our record was 11-23 and that is unacceptable.”
Folks who’ve followed some of the goings on at Tennessee might be intrigued by this news: University of Tennessee emails: Joe DiPietro, Jimmy Cheek agreed no raise, contract extension for Dave Hart
Keep an eye on this: Burns’ wrongful termination suit headed to jury
The Wyoming Valley Conference athletics world lost Annette Barbini, a “pioneer” who “broke the glass” for women in her line of work, this week.
Barbini died at Little Flower Manor in Wilkes-Barre on Thursday. She was 75.
She spent much of her life immersed in the Wilkes-Barre Area School District and WVC athletics. Barbini wore many hats, ranging from physical education teacher to coach and PIAA official. She will perhaps be remembered most, though, as the first female athletic director in WVC history.
Former Villanova University women’s basketball standout Nancy Bernhardt passed away on Thursday, Sept. 22, after a courageous battle with breast cancer. Bernhardt played for current Wildcat head coach Harry Perretta and the Wildcats from 1980-84. She is a native of Glenside, Pa., and a graduate of Bishop McDevitt High School.
In 119 career games, Bernhardt scored 2,018 points, establishing her as one of just two players in the history of Villanova women’s basketball to score 2,000 career points. The 2,018 points ranks as the second most in school history. She also rates fifth on the school’s all-time assist list with 465 and 10th in rebounds with 631.
Imagine that when you’re growing up you’re told you can’t play sports because if you run too fast, your uterus will fall out. That you probably won’t get into university because you’re a girl. That your career options are limited to teaching, nursing, or being a housewife. Welcome to 1950s America, when Title IX, the law forbidding schools from excluding people on the basis of their gender, was barely a flicker on the horizon.
It was a group of girls from the rural communities of America’s heartland who broke down these barriers, becoming the greatest female basketball team of all time with an unprecedented—and still unbeaten—winning streak of 131 games between 1953 and 1958.