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Archive for September, 2017

Now that we’ve had time to digest

the yumminess that was last night’s game, here are some of the results:

Mechelle, ESPN: Lynx follow Lindsay Whalen’s lead to even WNBA Finals

Sylvia Fowles sensed it was going to happen. So did Renee Montgomery and Rebekkah Brunson. They all felt like Minnesota’s Lindsay Whalen was ready to have a big performance in Game 2 of the WNBA Finals.

“I was telling her all day today: ‘The way they are guarding you, you can score,'” Montgomery said after the Lynx held off the Sparks 70-68 and evened the best-of-five series at 1-1 on Tuesday. “I told her, ‘You’re the pull-up queen, that’s your wheelhouse.’

Pat Borzi, ESPN: Rebekkah Brunson bounces back to help Lynx win Game 2

Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve has coached Brunson for eight seasons, through three title runs and two WNBA Finals defeats. She can sense when Brunson is disgusted with her play and knows how she usually responds — with tenacity.

Swish Appeal: Brunson’s timely steal halts LA’s comeback; Lynx tie series

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Lynx hang on to defeat Los Angeles 70-68 in Game 2, tie series 1-1

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Lynx’s Lindsay Whalen helps orchestrate one more victory at the Barn

This should have been a night to celebrate, but after she dribbled out the final seconds Whalen wearily flipped the ball to an official and accepted a mobbing by her teammates as if she wanted nothing more than a soft couch and a hard sleep.

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Defense down the stretch allows Lynx to win Game 2

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Bravo to Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve

One my pet peeves about Minnesota media is that there are so many in our ranks who will ask the soft, easy, question in an attempt to either ingratiate themselves to a coach or player, or because they’re simply afraid to ask anything pointed.

So I applaud Cheryl Reeve. When the Lynx coach was asked soft questions about her team’s gutty comeback in a Game 1 loss in the WNBA Finals, she didn’t take the easy way out.

Canis Hoopus: Lynx Beat LA, Even Series

Bleacher Report: Lynx Survive Sparks Rally to Even 2017 WNBA Finals at 1-1

Deadspin: Lynx Hold Off Sparks Comeback To Take Game 2 Of The WNBA Finals

FanRag: Lynx defense the difference in series-tying Game 2 win

The Daily Breeze: Sylvia Fowles, Lynx even series with Sparks

SB Nation: Lynx tie series with Sparks in ANOTHER wild WNBA Finals finish

Swish Appeal: Fowles’ record night sets tone for a raucous Lynx victory

Zone Coverage: FAKLIS: When Championship Pedigree Doesn’t Matter for the Lynx

this isn’t a series that is based on the wealth of experience the Lynx have built over the last half decade (and change). This is a series built around two teams so evenly matched, that a double-digit victory seems less likely than the 20-plus point comebacks seen in the first two games.

It’s become clear that, despite making six WNBA Finals in seven years, Minnesota’s championship pedigree and experience isn’t good enough to beat LA.

Los Angeles Times: Sparks let one slip in 70-68 loss to Minnesota Lynx in Game 2 of the WNBA Finals

On the final play, Sparks point guard Chelsea Gray — a hero in Game 1 after making a last-second shot — couldn’t produce a replay, as three defenders engulfed her, making it impossible to shoot or pass, and the ball was stolen as the clock expired.

The Sparks fell 70-68. The series is tied 1-1.

“It was disappointing,” Sparks coach Brian Agler said. “We had a play, we just didn’t execute it.”

Game photos.

I will say, it was disappointing to hear so many Minnesota fans supporting racial injustice with their boos. I thought more of them. Perhaps they haven’t read the news?

Bitch magazine: All Of The Work, None Of The Credit: Don’t Drop The Ball On The WNBA’s Activism

Ah, HAH!!! (but no details): San Antonio Stars guard Moriah Jefferson undergoes successful knee surgery

Show them the (bonus) moneyTop rookie Allisha Gray highlights All-Rookie team

YesImani Boyette speaks up to save lives, lead others to hope and help

Sweet: Women’s National Basketball Players Association to donate money from league fines (Girls Who Code, the United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign, the Greater Houston Community Foundation for Hurricane Harvey relief and the Southern Poverty Law Center)

NCAA

Dayton Daily News: Deeper roster ‘a good feeling’ for Wright State women’s basketball

A little history, as a program on the rise reflects on its beginnings: First Belmont women’s basketball team reunites at Friday morning convo

“For a college president to listen to a female, 24 years old, in the 60s, is unheard of,” said Wiseman.

The Lady Rebels — Belmont’s nickname wouldn’t be the Bruins until 1995 — were formed, but spent most of the first year in the shadow of the men’s team.

The women practiced after the men’s team finished around 9 or 10 p.m. At the time, women were also not allowed to wear shorts on campus. They had to wear pants to the gym. When leaving campus, the women were not allowed to wear pants at all — they had to wear dresses.

“We were behind them in everything else, but we had an opportunity, and that was the whole point,” Wiseman said in a video that played during the convocation.

So, looks like men’s D-1 basketball is in a whole lotta trouble. Some thoughts/questions:

  • Why didn’t the community speak out? It’s clear many knew this level of corruption was going on, and yet no. one. said. a. word. And the journalists who are hinting there’s worse to come? How much did your access pay for you silence?
  • What about men’s football? ’cause we know it’s all connected
  • What about those shoe folks? ’cause they underwrite a LOT of other teams who are honest. They get into trouble, the money dries up.
  • What about women’s basketball? I’ve often heard it said that “there’s not enough money” in wbb to warrant illegal activity. Unethical? Oh, sure. Just wondering how deep the roots are.
  • How will this impact the “Olympic Sport” athletes? ’cause the U.S. Government does not underwrite them.
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#Whadidyamiss?

@CoachOBlue: Home 🏡 just in time to watch catch Game 2 of the !

@MechelleV
  Lindsay Whalen had that “I’m ticked off” look on her face yesterday during media availability. You had that feeling she’d have strong start.
@ExcelleSports Alana Beard picks up her second foul just two minutes into the game #WNBAFinals She’s the primary defender on Maya Moore…

@howardmegdal: You know how when @minnesotalynx fell behind 28-2, game wasn’t over? @LA_Sparks down 24-9. Ain’t over.
@TashaButts: WOW… they are blowing these whistles against LA.. they should probably not say anything to the refs, clearly they… umm nvm.

@WNBAJones:
 
Lynx clogging up lanes forcing Sparks to take weak shots. #WNBAFinals@ExcelleSports: Ogwumike starting to dominate on the glass 30-22 Lynx.
 @MechelleV:  Lynx star Maya Moore hits first shot from field at 5:02 in 2nd quarter, gets 3-point play. Candace Parker still hasn’t scored for Sparks.
@TichaPenicheiro  Eeeeewwwwww, nice dime/no look from @Candace_Parker @Alanabeard20: #iTaughtHerThat😜
@ExcelleSports: Lynx up 41-24. Dominating the paint on both ends. Sparks need Nneka and Candace to get going.
@TashaButts: Am I the only one that sees the non-calls, holds and shoves right in front of the refs? I just want to see a great game.
@hoopism: Halftime: Lynx 45, Sparks 26

@MechelleV: Candace Parker, Nneka Ogwumike averaged combined 33.0 points in first 4 playoff games. Tonight through first half, Ogwumike 3, Parker 0.

@ExcelleSportsMaya Moore picks up her fourth foul and has to go to bench. Sparks on 13-6 run to start second half. 51-39 Lynx lead.
@CoachYoJU: My goodness Seimone Augustus is soooo silky smooth! #swish
@RichardCohen1: I know they want a storyline, but give it a damn rest on Parker’s ankle. She’s looked absolutely fine all night. #wnbafinals

@LA_Sparks: A three-point play by @Nnemkadi30 keeps the pressure on. #WeRise #GoSparks #WNBAFinals
@minnesotalynx: That’s a wrap for the third quarter! Lynx up 60-50 after three. Fowles, Brunson, and Whalen with 12 PTS each.

@Bevilaqua41: Going to be a hard fought final quarter!! Living the action between the LA Sparks and Minnesota!! #watchmework WNBA WNBA playoffs

@doshwoods: Sparks battling back! @Lynx_PR: Sparks ball, 62-53 with 8:05 left. If you aren’t watching already, now’s a good time to tune in.
@Lynx_PR: Ogwumike with the layup and the #Lynx lead is back down to nine with 4:15 left. Ogwumike now with a double-double (11p/10r).
@itscoachwise: the MN vs LA finals game is heating up… if you’re not watching, there’s about 5 mins left in the game. flip the channel.

@CoachDay80: If ur involved w WBB and ur not watching the WNBA finals shame on u! This whole WNBA season has been incredible! So much to c and learn!

@WNBA: Another close #WNBAFinals game on ESPN2! Sparks trim their deficit to 68-64 with 1:38 remaining.

@sportsiren: HOLY COW!!! Here we go again. Drama in @wnba Finals 3 point Lynx lead with 1:01 to play. #heartstopping!

@CStiffESPN Another WNBA Finals thriller. 4pt game with 43 seconds. ESPN2 NOW.

@splitthepost43.9 seconds all that’s standing between the Lynx and a split before heading to Los Angeles. Maya Moore hits 1 of 2 FTs. Lynx by 4.
@MechelleV: Candace Parker’s two free throws bring Sparks within 2, 70-68. Maya Moore misses jumper. Sparks ball with 13.4 seconds left. Holy moly.
@LaChinaRobinson: My nerves are bad.
@hoopism: Exactly the same game as Sunday, only in reverse. I’m tripping.
@coachjessb: That can NEVER happen in the final seconds! Must get open… must get the ball in!
@LeslieReineckerAre you kidding me?! Can one of these teams just throw the ball in successfully?≈
@WNBA_IntelGame ends with 3 straight turnovers. Exciting but in a different way from Game 1.

@ajuarezbsu: Minnesota tried to give it away, but L.A. wouldn’t take it
@Bre_stewart30: What a sequence of events
@theladykg: This is gonna be another great series. Holy cow!!! #WNBAFinals
@MoheganMaven: You guys. Cray. #WNBAFinals
@richarddeitsch: The @LA_Sparks-@minnesotalynx rivalry is a great calling card for the WNBA. Quality, exciting, compelling basketball.

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As Good As It Gets?

I sure as heck hope not! (and I’m cranky this didn’t publish)

The first game of the WNBA Finals is best relived on one’s twitter feed.

  • @DishNSwish: Props to and for their individual types of protest. They deserve your cheers not boos.
  • @hoopfeed: This is just embarrassing…for the Lynx. Not what was expected, at all. Sparks lead 27-2, 2:48 left in 1Q
  • @MechelleV: Lindsay Whalen’s halfcourt heave swished, but it was after the buzzer. It was just that kind of quarter for Minnesota. Yikes. 32-11 Sparks.
  • @MechelleV: Jia Perkins gets the steal, which leads to Sylvia Fowles basket. The kind of hustle play the Lynx are going to need a lot of to climb back.
  • @MechelleV: Williams Arena holds noise very well. :) #SoLoud
  • @DT3sBun: 6 point game 👀
  • @murrminks: Bruh. Please don’t ever say the WNBA is boring again. This league is so dope
  • @linzsports: MAYA MOORE OMG OMG OMG THIS GAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • @linzsports: TIED GAME TIED GAME TIED GAME TIED GAME
  • @ExcelleSports: Essence Carson with two huge misses from the free throw line. Seimone Augustus with the go-ahead layup with six seconds to go!
  • @hoopism: Chelsea #$%&ing Gray!!!!
  • @DishNSwish: After this game I don’t want to hear one person say “basketball starts soon!”
  • @RyanRunco: What a Game 1 of the Finals. It’s this simple. If you enjoy GREAT basketball you should be watching this series. It’s outstanding.
  • @richardfarley: I don’t think every good game has to be touted as an advertisement for the league, but holy crap was that an advertisement for the league.
  • @ExcelleSports: WNBA Finals Game 1 instant classic delivers best ratings ever for an overnight

Now, for the #morethan144characters take:

Mechelle: Behind career-high 27 points, Chelsea Gray guides Sparks to Game 1 win

In Sunday’s opening game of the Finals that went from blowout to barn burner, Gray led the Sparks in the right direction: an 85-84 victory. Even if they didn’t exactly take the most direct route to get there.

Pat Borzi, ESPN: ‘Unacceptable’ start dooms Lynx at home in Game 1

If the Minnesota Lynx had won Sunday, it would have been the greatest comeback in WNBA playoff history.

If.

Game 1 of the WNBA Finals — a 85-84 Los Angeles Sparks win — technically wasn’t over when the Sparks jumped to a 26-point first-quarter lead at Williams Arena, shocking the pro-Lynx crowd of 11,823, which arrived primed for an afternoon of screaming itself hoarse.

TwinCities.com-Pioneer PressLynx rally after awful start but lose 85-84 in Game 1 of WNBA Finals

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Lynx’s Game 1 comeback falls just short after spotting LA 26 points

FanRag: Chelsea Gray gives Sparks thrilling Game 1 victory over Lynx

Excelle: Chelsea Gray takes over as Sparks take Game 1 of WNBA Finals

Summitt Hoops: Chelsea Gray hits game-winner, Sparks take 1-0 Finals lead

Canis Hoopus: Sparks Stun Lynx, Steal Home Court Advantage

Hoopism: Gray’s last-second shot sends Sparks past Lynx in Game 1

Hoopfeed: Chelsea Gray propels Sparks to victory in Finals game one, Los Angeles tops Minnesota 85-84

Summitt Hoops: WNBA Finals: Minnesota Lynx comeback would have been biggest in league history

USA Today/For The Win: There were 4 lead changes in the final minute of the first game of the WNBA Finals

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Scoggins: Moore steps up in crunch time, but Sparks’ Gray has answer

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Video of Lynx’s crushing home defeats to the Sparks: Three times Lynx were dealt last-second blow

Swish Appeal: Real Talk: WNBA Finals Game 1 breakdown by Pokey Chatman

CBS Minnesota: Despite Comeback, Reeve Blasts Her Lynx After Game 1

Minneapolis Star Tribune: The more Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve studied studied loss to Sparks, the angrier she became

 

For the Win: WNBA teams link arms, leave floor during national anthem at Game 1 of Finals

BTW: The WNBA has been at the forefront of protesting racial injustice

Cool: Pair shocked when name of adapted athletics facility at University of Alabama revealed

Margaret Stran and Brent Hardin got a surprise when the name of the University of Alabama’s adapted athletics facility was revealed Friday.

According to a school news release, the two figured the facility would be named for Mike and Kathy Mouron who had launched the project with two gifts totaling $4 million.

Instead, when the rendering of the facility was shown, the name “Stran-Hardin Arena” was above the main entrance to the facility.

SCUBA and Basketball, anyone? Tenerife to host FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2018

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As are we.

Sparks, Lynx set for WNBA Finals rematch

LA Times: Sparks determined to repeat as WNBA champions

Daily Breeze: Sparks visit Lynx as WNBA Finals rematch begins

Minny Trib: A dynasty in the making? Lynx-Sparks winner could lay claim

.com: Odyssey Sims Ready to Embrace First Taste of the Finals

Swish Appeal: Candace Parker: WNBA Finals, Pat Summitt — and the Lady Vols

.Lynx: Competing In WNBA Finals “Never Gets Old” For Lynx

Minny Tribune: For Minnesota Lynx, a good start is essential

Swish Appeal: Lynx still haunted by WNBA Finals loss, focused on execution

Duluth Tribune News: Lynx’s legacy is secure heading into WNBA Finals, but motivation remains

SB Nation: The Lynx and Sparks are superteams. That’s why the WNBA Finals are a must-watch.

For the Win: Gabrielle Union explains why you should watch the WNBA Finals

.com: Chasing That Championship Feeling

If you’re into this kinda thing: WNBA Star Maya Moore Gets Air Jordan 1, Jordan 10 Colorways

Need more fans, more sponsors, more games on TV because: WNBA salaries in focus as Finals tip off

NCAA 

Changing partners: After committing to play for UConn women’s basketball, top recruit Collier changes her mind

Not NCAA

Mainers Find Camaraderie, Competition In Senior Women’s Basketball League

High School

WTF: Charges: Suspended lawyer exposed self to girls basketball teams

And on a political note (this should not surprise you):

Chiney Ogwumike delivers powerful statement in response to President Trump’s NBA and NFL comments

Warned ya: Betsy DeVos, Title IX, and the “Both Sides” Approach to Sexual Assault

North Carolina won’t celebrate its NCAA men’s basketball title at the White House…

Remember: “… I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world.” – Jackie Robinson, 1972

“How about the irony of, ‘Free speech is fine if you’re a neo-Nazi chanting hate slogans, but … not to kneel in protest?'” Steve Kerr, 2017

Since “disrespecting the flag” is still the narrative being used, this courtesy of the US Flag Code Chapter 10: Respect for flag HennyWise‏ @koopa_kinte 

“Real patriotism, Mr. Trump, isn’t how you treat a flag. It’s how you treat Americans” —

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Are you ready to RUMBLE?!?!?!

Here’s hoping that, now that we got what we want, we get what we want… No pressure.

The 2017 WNBA Finals is almost certainly going to be one of the best series ever

EPSN: 20 Questions: Another Sparks-Lynx final

Amsterdam News: Sparks/Lynx rematch in WNBA finals

SB Nation: WNBA’s new playoff format has Lynx-Sparks rivalry front and center

Swish Appeal: Iconic rematch looms, LA Sparks prepare for ‘War of Wills’

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Finals rematch between Lynx and Sparks coming

The matchup

MSR News Online: WNBA Finals preview

.com: The First Finals Rematch

Minnesota Lynx: WNBA Finals provides another chapter in riveting rivalry

WNBA BPI: Lynx have slight edge over Sparks

After sweeping their way through the semifinals, both the Minnesota Lynx and Los Angeles Sparks have a chance to complete the third perfect postseason since the WNBA Finals moved to a best-of-five series in 2005.

However, the BPI predicts that this year’s Finals, which open Sunday (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET), have a 37.5 percent chance to go the full five games for the third straight year.

Listen up! The Rematch

LaChina Robinson gears up for the WNBA Finals rematch! She previews the Lynx-Sparks matchup with Liberty associate coach and 2x WNBA champion Katie Smith then chats with the Lynx’s Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore.

More Listen Up: The Summitt Slack Summit: Previewing the WNBA Finals

LA Stuff

Mechelle: Odyssey Sims steps up her game in first season with Sparks

Sometimes the “right” fit actually isn’t. Consider Los Angeles Sparks guard Odyssey Sims, who is from Dallas, went to Baylor, and was drafted No. 2 by the Tulsa Shock in 2014. The Shock then became the Wings when they moved to Dallas in 2016, so Sims was back in her hometown. Worked out perfectly.

Except … not really.

Players’ Tribune: Write Your Story, Babygirl

It seemed like nobody knew his real name. People just called him Picture Man.

Paterson, New Jersey, where I grew up, is the hood … the inner city … the ghetto … whatever you want to call it. And a lot of people have nicknames in the hood — funny nicknames, mean nicknames, really stupid nicknames, nicknames that make no sense at all, gang nicknames, everything. Picture Man got his name because he was always taking photos. You’d see him riding around on his bike. He’d stop to snap a picture of a fire hydrant, a street sign, a family cookout or whatever, and then he’d ride away. It was kind of unheard of, in our part of town, for someone to be into photography like that, so Picture Man was seen as a weirdo. A loner. “Different.” We loved him anyway. He was so mysterious to me, like there was a whole world about him that I didn’t know. To this day, I don’t think I ever learned his real name.

But I’ll never forget where I was when I heard the gunshots that ended his life.

Lynx stuff

CBS Minnesota: Lynx Seek Redemption Against Sparks As They Chase 4th Championship

She coulda been a Lib: Minnesota veteran Rebekkah Brunson reinvents her game

Long respected as a premier rebounder and defender, this season Brunson added a 3-point element. It followed a request from Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve, who needed Brunson, Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen to expand their range to pull defenders from center Sylvia Fowles. Before this season, Brunson attempted only 12 3-pointers in 13 years, making two. This season she put up 66 and sank 23, good for 34.8 percent accuracy from beyond the arc.

Yardbarker: After a decade in the WNBA, MVP Sylvia Fowles is ready for the spotlight

Pioneer Press: If Lynx are to beat Sparks, Maya Moore has to score against WNBA’s best defender

Gopher Sports: Whalen, Lynx Start Finals at Williams on Sunday

We’re number 1! Lynx, Delle Donne lead WNBA merchandising

As expected: Wings’ Allisha Gray wins WNBA Rookie of the Year award

Truth: Jonquel Jones Has ‘Incredible Year 2’

You stay put: Sun Coach Curt Miller Rewarded With Contract Extension

Important: Once compared to Michael Jordan, ex-WNBA star shares suicide struggles at Oxnard College

NCAA

Women’s basketball Final Four bid cycle for 2021-24 to begin (Hello, West Coast? But what about ESPN and those pesky time zones?)

A different kind of Phoenix: Arizona Wildcats, Adia Barnes recruiting among women’s college basketball’s powerhouses

Bye: Report: Jinaya Houston won’t return to Iowa women’s basketball

Finances are real: Facing Massive Cut, UConn Fires Back at Legislature With Geno Auriemma

’cause it was as bad a marketing decision as “New Coke”: Tennessee women’s golf team wears Lady Vols hats, brings tears to senior

International

Intersting: German Olaf Langer appointed head coach for Russian women’s basketball team

USA Basketball: 2017 USA Women’s National Team Training Camp Set To Tip Next Week

National Team head coach Dawn Staley(South Carolina), the roster includes WNBA stars Sue Bird (Seattle Storm); Layshia Clarendon (Atlanta Dream); Elena Delle Donne (Washington Mystics); Skylar Diggins-Smith (Dallas Wings); Stefanie Dolson (Chicago Sky); Brittney Griner(Phoenix Mercury); Tiffany Hayes (Atlanta Dream); Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm); Kayla McBride (San Antonio Stars); Kelsey Plum (San Antonio Stars); Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm); Kiah Stokes (New York Liberty); Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury); Morgan Tuck(Connecticut Sun); and Courtney Williams (Connecticut Sun). Current collegiate All-Americans who will take part in the camp include: Napheesa Collier (Connecticut); Asia Durr (Louisville); Kelsey Mitchell (Ohio State); Katie Lou Samuelson (Connecticut) and A’ja Wilson (South Carolina).

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“Go hard or go home” time

Look who’s lurking….

PICT0229.JPG

Phoenix and Washington need to dig deep or else we’re going to get the rematch everyone wants a little faster than everyone wants.

3pm, Mystics v. Lynx

Albert Lee, Bullets Forever: Mystics vs. Lynx game 3 preview: Washington fights to stay alive

What’s at stake?

It’s obvious. If the Mystics win, they’ll host Game 4 at Georgetown University on Tuesday. If they lose, the season’s over.

This season was certainly a different one for me than many past Mystics seasons. In some years like 2011 and 2012, they were just horrible and hope was hard to come by. But in the last four years of the Mike Thibault Era, I saw good moments, but I knew that the Mystics still had no hope of a championship regardless of how well the team played.

Minneapolis Star Tribune: WNBA semifinals Game 3 preview: Lynx at Washington

Ava Wallace, Washington Post: ‘A well-oiled machine’: Minnesota Lynx roll toward sixth WNBA Finals in seven years

Reeve’s yelling is a normal pregame scene for Minnesota. Moore, a devout Christian, gets too engrossed in her warmup drills to remember to head down to the team’s chapel service before every game, an important part of the 2014 WNBA MVP’s routine. Mid-interview or not, it’s Reeve’s job to remind her.

It’s one of the many tiny details Reeve and the Lynx take care of to keep the WNBA powerhouse thriving.

Fox Sports: Sparks look to dismiss Mercury, advance to Finals

Summitt Hoops: Sparks lead Mercury 2-0, can close out series in Phoenix

.com: 1-On-1 With 2017 WNBA MVP Sylvia Fowles

5pm Mercury v. Sparks

Jeff Metcalfe, AZCentral, Mercury face elimination at home against Sparks in WNBA semifinals

Sandy Brondello believes there is a path to beating the WNBA defending champion Los Angeles Sparks.

Whether her Phoenix Mercury can make it down that road Sunday to remain alive in the league semifinals and avert a second consecutive 3-0 exit from the final four will require corrections on both ends of the floor.

Mike Guardabascio, San Gabriel Valley Tribune: Sparks look to close out Mercury in WNBA semifinals

After a pair of double-digit wins in Southern California, the Sparks will try to make it a clean sweep when their best-of-five WNBA semifinal series shifts to Phoenix on Sunday.

Sparks head coach Brian Agler said he doesn’t think his team has played its best basketball yet, which should concern a Mercury team that hasn’t been able to stay with the defending WNBA champions down the stretch.

Eli Horowitz, Excelle: Sparks backcourt duo becoming impossible to guard

We know about former MVPs Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike. Alana Beard just won Defensive Player of the Year. But as the Los Angeles Sparks took a 2-0 series lead against the Phoenix Mercury Thursday night, something else became clear: the backcourt duo of Chelsea Gray and Odyssey Sims makes the Sparks offense nearly impossible to guard.

Mechelle, ESPN: Brittney Griner’s toughest obstacles are already behind her

Phoenix center Brittney Griner saw the worst-case scenario flash before her eyes as she felt pain ripping through her body. She thought her WNBA season was over, and her upcoming overseas season wouldn’t happen.

“I started freaking out,” said Griner of the gruesome-looking double injury she suffered on July 14 against Minnesota. “Everybody was kind of holding me and saying, ‘OK, calm down. What hurts?’ And I was like, ‘Everything hurts!'”

Talk: (all due respect, why can’t we improve the audio quality of LaChina’s gig) WNBA Roundtable Part II

More Talk: Dishin & Swishin Podcast: Curt Miller on WNBA Semi-finals and the Sun

NCAA

Congrats: Paris to Return to OU For Jersey Honoring Nov. 10

NCAA.com: UConn basketball: For the Huskies, new faces are everywhere

Thank you: Bagwell to coach Bearcats one final time

Sitting behind his desk in an office surrounded by newspaper articles, trophies and score sheets that decorate the walls from top to bottom, Bagwell reflects on just how different coaching was 40 years ago.

“If I wanted to call a recruit and I was out, or if I wanted to call back to the office, I’d have to stop at a truck stop and dial their number,” Bagwell said. “Eventually I had a credit card and I’d have to dial in a bunch of numbers, then the dadgum number would be busy and I’d have to start all over. I don’t know how we survived, but we did.”

Four years after inheriting the women’s basketball program, Bagwell had Lander on a 19-game win streak, on its way to a No. 3 ranking and a 21-3 record.

 

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I mean, they ARE the two best teams…

but it’s still tough to have both series at 0-2.

Mystics were a handful, but the Lynx found their groove (as did MVP Big Syl) and secured the win. Oh, and that player that had been out for a bit came back.

The Sparks weren’t playing, shutting down BG and running to a 86-72 win.

LA Times: Sparks turn back Mercury to take 2-0 series lead

The Sparks are playing their best basketball at exactly the right moment.

“I think tonight we did resemble a little bit more of the way we finished the regular season,” Sparks coach Brian Agler said. “Offensively we were more aggressive, moved the ball better.

“I do think we keep getting better. I envision that. And we’re going to need to keep improving.”

A little reflection: How a three minute trade altered the fates of two WNBA franchises

Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

The Los Angeles Sparks were on the clock at the 2016 WNBA Draft and had three minutes to make a selection with the sixth overall pick.

With the draft being held in their home arena, the Connecticut Sun were watching the Sparks more closely than any other team. Having already made two first-round selections, Connecticut wanted to make one more. And the team’s staff knew who they wanted to take: George Washington University forward/center Jonquel Jones.

During 180 seconds that would change the future of both teams, the Sun sent the 15th and 23rd picks in the draft, its first round pick in 2017 and guard Chelsea Gray to the Sparks for the draft rights to Jones and the 17th pick in the draft.

It is infrequent in sports when a trade is mutually beneficial for both teams and actually makes both trade partners better. But that’s what this one did, as both teams are still reaping the benefits of this particular deal.

Yea: Sylvia Fowles, WNBA star, finds peace in unlikely post-career plan

When Sylvia Fowles broke her nose in May, she did not flinch.

In a game between Fowles’ Minnesota Lynx and the San Antonio Stars, the Stars rookie Nia Coffey, full of naive bravado, decided to challenge Fowles, the three-time WNBA defensive player of the year.

Fowles took a palm to her nose in the confrontation at the rim, but Coffey received the brunt of the impact. Her shot was blocked with so much force that it sounded like a volleyball spike; Coffey was duly sent to the ground and had to be helped up by a teammate.

To reinforce the lesson, Fowles stood tall, snarling down from her 6-foot-6, 211-pound frame, without once checking her nose.

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