Feeds:
Posts

Archive for August, 2018

*all sing* Get Ready!

Get reaaaaady!

Lots on tap tonight if you’re a sports fan: USA v. Canada World Baseball Cup Bronze medal game, Japan v. Chinese Taipei Gold medal game, WNBA playoff, USWNT, Williams v. Williams…. A virtual cornucopia of excellence and intrigue.

Something to read (while you’re working, of course):

.com: (stole my line, I see…) Recapping An Amazing Start To #WNBAPlayoffs

AP: Mystics hope to have Delle Donne available vs. Dream

Mystics game is (close to) SOLD OUT.

AP: Mystics Set To Host Dream in Game 3 With Series Tied

WaPo: Elena Delle Donne getting ‘round-the-clock rehab’ for bone bruise, status for Game 3 in doubt

Albert: Analysis: How will the Mystics adjust with Elena Delle Donne not at full strength?

SB Nation: Meet the WNBA’s best-kept secret — for now. Tiffany Hayes of the underestimated Atlanta Dream isn’t a Batman or Robin. She’s just damn good.

Hayes, the eternal sidekick, has become the team’s centerpiece, but she still can’t seem to shake her Robin status. Her stats aren’t as gaudy as peers like Liz Cambage and Breanna Stewart and she’s not an endless highlight reel like Diana Taurasi or Delle Donne, though Hayes’ mean left-right cross has been known to break Skylar Diggins’ ankles.

The same trait that made the Dream such an unlikely threat also makes Hayes one of the league’s best kept secrets: balance. Now that they’re finally center stage, it’s becoming obvious to the rest of the league that she’s the perfect star for a team without stars. Instead of a signature move or otherworldly skill, Hayes’ biggest strength is not having a weakness.

Swish Appeal: Hoops Happening: Can Phoenix keep ‘The Chase’ for another title alive with a Game 3 win at home against Seattle?

Diana Taurasi didn’t get to be the Greatest of All Time (GOAT) without acquiring keen sensibilities and a heck of a lot of wisdom. When I spoke to Taurasi before the season, she had this to say about what it takes for a team to win it all:

I’ve said it a lot, where you go into a training camp and all you talk about is championships and you forget to do all the work and the next thing you know, you lose in the semifinals.

Winners and Whiners: Storm vs. Phoenix Mercury, 8-31-18 – WNBA Prediction and preview

Carl for SNY: Bird-Taurasi playoff matchup on Geno’s watch list – Storm lead Mercury 2-0 in thrilling WNBA semis

“I made a comment to a guy in an interview before the first game about what to watch for,” Auriemma said. “With those two, it’s always fascinating to watch how they will impact the game and they will do it at the most crucial moments. Sue will do something that will put Seattle in charge and then D will respond, and they’ll go back and forth, back and forth.

“That’s how it was Tuesday night and they do it in different ways.”

NCAA

Don’t do stupid stuff: Tennessee sophomore guard Anastasia Hayes has been dismissed from the team “due to a violation of team rules.”

Road trip? College basketball: Texas, Missouri, Duke highlight 2018 women’s Gulf Coast Showcase field

Upcoming

FIBA WORLD CUP!!! Some interesting perspective from Coach Reeve on the difference between the Olympics and the World Cup. Gonna make the trip out to Bridgeport to see USA v. Canada. Hoping work allows me to hop the train to see Japan v Canada on Friday.

Japan women’s basketball team steadily gathering speed on road to Tokyo Olympics

In 2017, the senior “Akatsuki Five” team completed a three-peat at the FIBA Asian Cup, while Japan also captured its first silver medal at the University Games in half a century in Taiwan. Japan made it to the semifinal round (finishing fourth) at the FIBA Under-19 Women’s World Cup as well.

But the Japan Basketball Association and its respective national teams will not rest on their laurels, and aim to achieve bigger things going forward.

Canada women’s basketball building toward major event medal

Proud to play: No-one missing as Canadian basketball women gather for camp

The Canadian Senior Women’s National Team – Road to the FIBA World Cup Part III

The Canadian Senior Women’s National Team is back in action. Today, they kicked off the start of their training camp where the invited players will have a chance to compete for a spot on the World Championship team.

The Canadian team is currently ranked 5th in the world and have a great shot to medal at the upcoming World Championships, so picking the right roster is very important.

Speaking of Canadians: Rookie Diary: The Sign Off By Kia Nurse – WNBA.com – Official Site of the WNBA

Toronto Star: Canadian basketball star Natalie Achonwa has always had a head for the game

One of Natalie Achonwa’s great basketball traits has always been her mind, her ability to think the game and know where to be and when to maximize her physical talents.

Having come off a breakthrough season with the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, the 25-year-old from Guelph thinks that now, finally, both facets of her game have meshed.

Read Full Post »

Mechelle and Kevin: What are the keys to Game 3? Storm can clinch but Dream-Mystics is all even

Atlanta at Washington: Who will step up for Mystics?

The good news for the Mystics is that the door is at least still open for Delle Donne to play in the series. But that doesn’t mean she will. Even if she does, we can’t be sure how effective she will be. No matter what, Washington is going to need someone else to have a huge game Friday.

Dream: Atlanta Travel to Washington for Game 3 of WNBA Semifinals Friday

Hero Sports, Rachel Galligan: WNBA Round 2 Keys: Phoenix Mercury vs. Seattle Storm

Listen up! In case you missed WNBAInsidr: “I’m glad to see everyone is OK and functional after Game 2. Join us here on the latest pod where Aryeh and I react, recap, predict and ramble about one of the most intense nights in the so far.”

Listen up! offers blunt talk on the playoffs, Taurasi, awards and… Elastigirl. w/

.com: Sparks’ Alana Beard Named 2018 Defensive Player Of The Year plus a little somethin’ somethin’ about it from Mechelle and the OC Register Sparks’ Alana Beard named WNBA Defensive Player of the Year again

Get a beverage and have some arguments: 2018 All-Defensive First Team

Flashback: How do you like’em now? Breaking Down the Top WNBA Venues: Which Women’s Basketball Arena is the Best?

College

Cr@p: Delaware senior forward Nicole Enabosi will miss the 2018-19 season after suffering a torn ACL. She was the 2018 Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year after leading the league in PPG (18) and RPG (11.8).

The State: Missouri women’s basketball coach says she and Dawn Staley are ‘in a good place’

International: Three reasons women’s basketball continues to shoot itself in the foot

It’s amazing isn’t it? I have somehow managed to come up with only three reasons why women’s basketball is shooting itself in the foot.

Of course there are many more reasons and scope for improvement across the board, but in a summer which has been extraordinarily hot and therefore I have been additionally grumpy, it feels like the time lay down my three biggest frustrations with the women’s game. And, I am not holding back. (Photo – FIBA)

CAN’T SHOOT, WON’T SHOOT

Over the years, it feels like I am having to say through my own teeth that the attractiveness of women’s basketball is the team-ethic, the passing and the shooting. Well, I don’t think I am going to be able to rave about the shooting anymore, since in recent years the perimeter shooting in particular has become an absolute joke.

Real life

Ramona Shelburne: Why we should be living pregnancy and motherhood out loud

There’s this scene at the end of the second episode of “Being Serena,” the five-part HBO series documenting Serena Williams’ life as she becomes a mother, that I just can’t shake. She’s back on the tennis court for the first time since giving birth, hitting groundstrokes with her training partner, Jarmere Jenkins, to “see if I still got it” or if “I need to find another career.”

Her doctors have cleared her for some light running and hitting, but nothing too intense on her legs and midsection, which is still healing after an emergency C-section and several surgeries to deal with post-operative blood clots and a hematoma that nearly killed her. But Serena can feel her competitiveness start to come back almost immediately. She reminds herself to be patient — or at least, she tries to.

“Was it bad?” she asks Jenkins after the workout.

“Just now?” he responds, trying to read her obviously trying-not-to-be-disappointed face. “No, no. I don’t know how much more you can ask for. Just keeping the ball on the court for now.”

Serena doesn’t answer. She knows he’s right. This was always going to be a long road back.

Laura M. Purtell and Anna Katherine Clemmons: Athlete-Mom Confidential: How the pros manage motherhood

Becoming a parent is a monumental step for anyone. But for women athletes, the decision can be substantially more complex. We wanted to hear from the women who became mothers during their careers, so we surveyed 37 athletes anonymously who reached or returned to professional competition after having children. We spoke to mothers across different sports, races, ages and sexual orientations — asking them questions that are unique to motherhood, but also those that could apply to any parent. (For more on our methodology and presentation, scroll down or click here.) Here’s what they had to say:

Read Full Post »

“Bruised knee”????

Hell to the YES!!!” *did a little happy dance through the office.

(And to those who wished EDD ill – shame on your little small self. You’re an embarrassment to your name.)

’cause anyone who’s watched any kind of women’s basketball knows exactly where our mind went.

So, let’s say it again: “Knee bruise.” HELL to the YES!!!!

Now that that’s out of the way.

WomensHoopsWorld.com: Dream edge Mystics, 78-75, to steal game 2, as Delle Donne injured and Different game, same score: Seattle needs overtime to take 2-0 series lead

*all sing* Regrets, I have a few: I regret not watching Diana Taurasi on Tuesday night

In middle school, I used to watch the 2003 Final Four game between UConn and Texas almost every morning. UConn trailed by nine with 12 minutes left in the second half — a game no one expected them to be in after the graduation of superstars Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Tamika Williams and Asjha Jones — who all were selected in the first round of the 2002 WNBA draft. Taurasi was 1-6 in the second half before UConn started to claw back. 

And with 2:07 left on the clock, Taurasi came around a double screen to hit a 3-pointer. Connecticut advanced and won their second of three consecutive championships.

So, of all people, I should have known better about going to bed early.

Shea: Even in Defeat, Diana Taurasi Is Magic

DeWanna Bonner, inbounding the ball from the right sideline on the Mercury’s side of the court, lobbed it up to Brittney Griner, who had floated over toward the opposite corner. Griner plucked it out of the air, and before her feet even touched the ground she was already looking for Taurasi. Because she knew what everyone else on the court knew. And what everyone in the stands knew. And what everyone watching the game on TV knew. And what all of the birds and the bugs and the animals and the slugs and the plants and the dirt and the sun and the universe and the amoebas knew: that Taurasi was taking that shot.

Jemelle: Breanna Stewart, MVP and athlete activist

She turned 24 on Monday, and while she’s still barely scratching the surface of her potential, it’s delightful to watch Stewart evolve so quickly as both a player and a person.

She’s found her voice and, perhaps, her calling to speak for those who are most vulnerable in our society. Besides being outspoken about sexual abuse, Stewart also participated in a massive protest at the Los Angeles International Airport last year. The protest was against the president’s travel ban, which many felt unfairly targeted Muslim countries.

So I had to ask her: How does it feel to be described as woke?

Stewart chuckled, at first.

“I think it’s fitting,” she said. “It’s just being aware of things.”

Sometimes, the personal evolution of a great player doesn’t take place until later in their career — if at all.

Listen up: WNBAInsdr: Aryeh Schwartz & Rachel Galligan chat game 2 of the Semi-Finals on an episode coming to your ears tonight

Listen up: High Post Hoops: Podcast: WNBA semifinals check-ins with Lindsay Gibbs and Alex Simon

ALSO

House money: Reaction to Las Vegas Aces winning the #1 overall pick in 2019

So, now that weak dudes are making sh*t up about players and such, does that mean we’ve hit the big time? WNBA players have become targets of fake pay disparity quotes on social media. Here’s what they’re actually arguing for. (Also, PSA: They’re not protesting the anthem)

Read Full Post »

Do NOT want to check news feeds obsessively for an update on Delle Donne. Do. Not. Want.

DO want to enjoy the fact that we were gifted two more amazing games, one OT and a total point differential of …7.

Quick hits

ESPN: Mystics lose Elena Delle Donne, Game 2 as Dream even series

AJC: Dream hold on for 78-75 win over Mystics in Game 2

Washington Post: Mystics lose Elena Delle Donne to knee injury, fall in Game 2 of WNBA

ESPN: After blowing another double-digit lead, Storm regroup to hold off Taurasi, Mercury

Breanna Stewart, Seattle Storm Barely Escape Diana Taurasi, Mercury’s Rally Bid…

(Among other things) WNBA Sneaker Culture Deserves More Respect

Read Full Post »

Tick Tock Till Tip Off…

Till then… Mechelle: At the free throw line, Elena Delle Donne is as dependable as it gets

Right foot toeing the free throw line, standing at a slight angle to the basket. Three dribbles. Right arm lifted to a 90-degree position. Line up the shot. Pause. Flick of the wrist with a lift of the ankles.

That’s the routine of one of the best free throw shooters in basketball history. And the Washington Mystics’ Elena Delle Donne has done the exact same thing since eighth grade.

“For me, it’s about making the shot as simple as possible, taking away anything that could go wrong,” Delle Donne said. “Simplicity is what gives me confidence.”

For Diana Taurasi, one night sticks out in a rivalry with Sue Bird that has spanned more than half their lives and defined a generation of guard play in women’s basketball.

It is the night she beat Bird in bowling.

“It was one of those dark, cold nights in Russia,” Taurasi said in a phone interview, before the two former Connecticut and current U.S.A. Basketball teammates faced off in Game 1 of their W.N.B.A. semifinal series on Sunday. “I remember it was at this bowling place where we used go to in Moscow. Not much else to do, and bowling always got a little competitive. She’s a good bowler. I’m not a great bowler, but I did have the best score ever in Russia, that’s all I can say. That’s all I remember.”

Bird, needless to say, remembers it differently.

“Don’t let her fool you,” Bird said. “It’s me. I beat her pretty much every time.”

Listen up:  podcast episode: We recap the Sunday afternoon games and preview Tuesday night’s games. Game 2 of Mystics-Dream and Mercury-Storm semifinals series tonight on ESPN2

SB Nation: Why Sue Bird stayed in Seattle instead of chasing a WNBA superteam

At this critical point, she had to decide what to do with the end of her career: Ring-chase, or ride it out with the Storm, who were dreadful enough to earn consecutive No. 1 picks in the 2015 and 2016 drafts. (The Storm finished 31 games under .500 in a four-year stretch after Lauren Jackson’s retirement.)

The answer wasn’t clear. Unlike the NBA, the WNBA does not allow a player’s current team to offer a longer and more lucrative contract than its opposition. While Seattle remained on the table, other situations were appealing.

Oooops! Scheduling: Tonight Sparks’ own will be on the debut of ’ “The Shop” on at 8PM PT.

Chicago Sun Times: Owner Michael Alter has big expectations for 2019 Sky

“I didn’t expect we’d be in the championship, but I thought we’d be a [playoff] team and sort of on the climb-up,” Alter said. “We’re a little behind where I hoped we’d be, based on that. Last year was kind of what I expected with all the new parts. This year, I don’t feel like we moved forward from last year as much as I would’ve hoped.

“But, overall, I love what we have from that trade and the draft.”

In other news

Buckle up: USC women’s basketball unveils schedule; Gamecocks could face every champ since 1995

Ooops! Cummings Dismissed from Toledo Women’s Basketball Team

Read Full Post »

7 points separating them. Hell, yeah, welcome to the WNBA playoffs! *ahem* Somethin’ that sorta rhymes – if you squint real hard.

Haters gonna hate
And miss something great
But we appreciate
The quality to date…

’cause we’re smart and aren’t misogynists!
which sometimes means you give/get new kicks!
(@WNBAKicks says: has been running with the all season long and it’s pretty dope!)

So… about those games…. MORE PLEASE!!!

Read (and listen) all about it:

Red v. Sky Blue

ESPN: Delle Donne, defense lead Mystics to Game 1 road win over Dream

Elena Delle Donne did what she does: Pour in points, grab rebounds and generally wear out the opposition. At 6-foot-5, she can be practically unstoppable.

But the third-seeded Mystics’ 87-84 victory over the No. 2 Dream in Game 1 of their WNBA semifinal series on Sunday was not just a Delle Donne tour de force.

Yes, she had 32 points and 13 rebounds. But perimeter defense, led by guards Natasha Cloud and Ariel Atkins, was the other huge factor for Washington. When the Mystics had to have stops — including in the game’s final sequence — those two led the way in getting them.

Washington Post: The pressure is off the Mystics after stealing Game 1 on the road

Heading into the WNBA semifinals, Washington Mystics Coach Mike Thibault deployed some gamesmanship in assessing the Atlanta Dream’s home-court advantage in the best-of-five series.

Thibault suggested it was the Mystics instead who might be in a position of strength, knowing at least one victory in the first two matchups at McCamish Pavilion could alter the complexion of the series, even more so if that triumph came in Game 1.

Bullets Forever: Mystics at Dream final score: Delle Donne leads Washington to 86-71 win

AJC (Yo – this article is BURIED. Not a good look, AJC): Dream fall to Mystics in Game 1 of WNBA Eastern Conference final (great picture, tho)

The Atlanta Dream’s league-leading defense didn’t show up Sunday in its WNBA Eastern Conference final matchup against the Washington Mystics until it was too late.

It cost them the game.

Green v. Orange:

ESPN: Young Storm survive first test in WNBA playoffs

It didn’t take long for the top-seeded Seattle Storm to get their first test of the WNBA playoffs.

Looking for their first playoff win since 2012 as they hosted Game 1 of their best-of-five WNBA semifinal matchup with Phoenix, the Storm saw a lead as large as 16 in the third quarter dwindle to two when Mercury center Brittney Griner scored on a putback with 1 minute, 40 seconds remaining.

Could the young Storm, only two of whom were on the roster back in 2012 (Sue Bird and Alysha Clark), hold off an experienced Mercury team looking to replicate Thursday’s comeback win at Connecticut that sent them to the semifinals?

Diana Taurasi wasn’t trying to kill anybody. That was just what Taurasi said the officials’ reaction felt like.

“I was just going to talk to my teammates,” she said of the technical foul she received heading into halftime, her first since receiving a suspension for her seventh in July.

The technical gifted newly minted MVP Breanna Stewart a foul shot to begin the second half, one of her game-high 28 points, and kickstarted a Storm run that opened up what proved to be an insurmountable 16-point lead as the Mercury fell 91-87 in Game 1 of the WNBA semifinals at a sold-out KeyArena on Sunday.

It’s Episode 102 of the Rey-Rey Is Fundamental podcast.

More WNBA talk in this house. And we bring back an old friend!

The excellent Jasmine Brown (@jasmined_brown) of High Post Hoops (Fansided‘s hub for women’s basketball), WNBAInsidr, and Through The Pen Sports returns for the third time as we talk WNBA Playoffs! We also talked about how WNBA has been hot this year, especially with Skylar Diggins-Smith speaking out about pay disparity. Is one-and-done good for the playoffs? And what about them Washington Mystics, huh?

In other news….

Been waiting for something like this: From The Athletic: Sparks have some catching up to do after being passed by changing WNBA

How they respond in 2019 will be a result of how accurately they assess 2018, both the good and the bad.

And when they look at the bad, it starts with an antiquated offense. Offensive schemes are evolving rapidly, and Los Angeles has some catching up to do.

In a game that is embracing and prioritizing speed and flow, the Sparks managed to rank just 10th in transition opportunities. Considering that both starting frontcourt players are capable of beating opposing bigs down the floor (and finishing fast breaks), this is a missed opportunity for efficient offensive opportunities.

Similar vein: Changes Coming As Lynx Work To Build The Next Dynasty

The end of this Lynx season represented somewhat of an end of an era for the team.

We’ve known for a while that 2018 would be Lindsay Whalen’s last season, and while it sounds like Rebekkah Brunson and Seimone Augustus will be returning next year, their roles have changed from when they were Minnesota’s primary stat producers.

Like it or not, there’s change coming down the pipeline for this franchise.

Speakin’ of youth and futures: From A’ja at the Players Tribune: 

So, you know, to fall short of the playoffs here … I’m not shedding any tears over that. I know, and this team knows, and our fanbase knows, and the rest of the league most definitely knows, how hard the Aces worked this season, and how much grinding we did — just to get ourselves into this position where there were even playoffs to fall short of. And I’m incredibly proud of this group for that. We were 511 around the end of June — and we took this thing all the way to 1213 by the end of July. That’s perseverance. And you know what else it is?

It’s motivation.

So with all due respect to the assignment the Players’ Tribune gave me — which was to rank the seven best players, 25 and under, in this year’s playoffs — I’m going to have to call an audible here, and do a different kind of playoff preview.

We’ll do the five best players, 25 and under, in the playoffs.

But then I’m going to have to go ahead and save two of these spots for the Aces.

Because whoever the young guns on our team are a few years from now, I need something for them to go back and read.

Fever Fingers Crossed: The draft lottery is cause for excitement in Indiana.

Why the heck not: You’re The Real MVP: Choosing an MVP From Each Team

Yup. But we saw it live: Someday Everyone Will Know Lindsay Whalen Was Amazing

Last Tuesday night one of the most amazing careers in WNBA history finally came to an end. When the Los Angeles Sparks eliminated the Minnesota Lynx in the first round of the 2018 WNBA playoffs, Lindsay Whalen’s 15-year WNBA career was finally over.

The game was broadcast on ESPN2 and when the game ended ESPN2 went directly to ESPN SportsCenter. And immediately, the anchors launched into a discussion of August baseball games. No mention was made at that moment that Whalen’s amazing career had just ended.

Speaking of careers that have ended, have you been paying attention to Across the Timeline‘s Salute To WNBA Greats? Thank you,  Tari! Tari! Tari!

Read Full Post »

#WNBAAllSummer Sunday

Listen up! Burn it All down is a must listen.

Gene at WaPo: Washington Mystics carry momentum and lessons learned into semifinals vs. Atlanta Dream 

“I mean, we were in this last year with the Lynx, and we saw how quickly they were able to go up two games on us, and it ended so fast,” Mystics leading scorer Elena Delle Donne said. “So we know the importance of every single game, every single possession, and we’ve been through it, and we were on the losing side, so I feel like we were able to learn a lot from it.

“We will all make sure that everybody is ready and locked in.”

Also: Old Friends Taurasi, Birds as Storm faces Mercury

.com: Mercury Advance to WNBA Semifinals, Three Wins Away from WNBA Finals

Michelle: Inside The W: The Top WNBA Playoff Semifinals Storylines

.com: WNBA Playoffs 2018 Semifinal Preview: (2) Atlanta Dream vs. (3) Washington Mystics

WPVI TV: Matt O’Donnell with WNBA Superstar Elena Delle Donne on The Travel Mug Podcast

Yup: Breanna Stewart named WNBA MVP

Seattle forward Breanna Stewart had two things on her mind entering this season: get the Storm back to the top of the league standings and be the WNBA’s MVP. She has done both.

Stewart was named MVP on Sunday and will receive her award later in the day as the Storm host Phoenix in a semifinal series opener at KeyArena (5 p.m. ET, ESPN2). The top-seeded Storm are 26-8, their best record since going 28-6 and winning the 2010 WNBA title.

Stewart wins the honor at age 23 (she turns 24 Monday). Another former UConn standout, the Liberty’s Tina Charles, also won the MVP at 23 in 2012 when she was with the Sun. The WNBA’s two youngest MVPs were 22: former Seattle star Lauren Jackson in 2003 and current Sparks forward Candace Parker, the only rookie to win MVP, in 2008.

Sue Bird, Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award: This is an importnat name on his award, in case you’re not a long time fan of the W:

The Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award is presented each season to a player who exemplifies the ideals of sportsmanship on the court, including ethical behavior, fair play and integrity. The award is named for the late Kim Perrot, who helped guide the Houston Comets to their first two WNBA championships before passing away in August 1999 after a seven-month battle with cancer.

Natasha Howard, Most Improved.

No Pressure: Natasha Howard holds the keys to a Storm run to the Finals

Also: Connecticut Sun’s Jonquel Jones Named 2018 WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year

AZ Central: Mercury back in WNBA semifinals for 6th straight year, seeking 1st Finals berth since 2014

The Phoenix Mercury are in the WNBA semifinals for a sixth consecutive year.

But they haven’t won a game at this stage since 2014, going a combined 0-8 against Minnesota (2015-16) and Los Angeles (2017).

This season, though, the WNBA defending champion Lynx were eliminated in the first round and the Sparks in the second. So the Mercury have no ghosts haunting them heading into a best-of-five semifinal series Sunday at Seattle.

Dreams face Mystics with Coach of Year, but Missing McCoughtry

Didja catch this? Minneapolis Star Tribune: Connecticut Sun point guard Jasmine Thomas: More than a basketball player

Komo: Storm’s Stewart named AP Player of Year, says ‘weight lifted’ after sharing #MeToo story

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Lynx star Maya Moore was less this season

Listen up: The Cheryl Reeve Show 16 – Lynx changes, WNBA picks

Columbus Dispatch: Rookie season in WNBA an eye-opener for Kelsey Mitchell

The Guardian: Liz Cambage earns devoted US fanbase after season of points, freedom and memes

Las Vegas Review Journal: Aces embark on WNBA offseason with eye on improvement

Bleacher Report: Skylar Diggins-Smith on WNBA, NBA Wage Gap: ‘I’m at a Loss for Words Sometimes’

The Sixer Sense: Philadelphia 76ers: It’s time to bring a WNBA franchise to Philly (hint, hint)

Read Full Post »

Waitin’ on Sunday like….

someone who’s waitin’. To distract me:

Chris Pross has some SHOTS! Check the photos out here at Just Shootin’ Hoops.

What should we expect from Dream, Mercury, Mystics and Storm in the WNBA semifinals?

One WNBA semifinal pits two teams, top-seeded Seattle and No. 5 Phoenix, that have won five league titles between them. The other semifinal, between No. 2 Atlanta and No. 3 Washington, is a meeting of teams that have never won a championship. The Mystics, in fact, have never made it to the WNBA Finals. The Dream have reached the championship series three times, but they’re 0-9 in those games.

The current playoff format, which was implemented in 2016, essentially did away with conference affiliation. Since then, the top eight overall teams in the standings make the postseason and then are seeded according to record through each round. Yet that didn’t prevent traditional East versus West in the WNBA Finals, and that’s what we’ll get now.

New York Times: WNBA’s Stars of Old Are New Again, and Six Wins From a Title

Deadspin: WNBA Playoff Bracket 2018: Semifinals Matchups, TV, Live Stream Schedule

Nuts and Bolts Sports: WNBA Semifinals Preview

Bullets Forever: WNBA Playoffs 2018: Mystics vs. Dream game schedule, dates, times, and how to watch

News Tribune (aka AP Doug): Storm and Dream take similar approaches during week off

The Athletic: How the Storm can win a third WNBA championship

The Seattle​ Storm,​ who hadn’t​ posted​ a winning season since 2011,​ find themselves​ in​ an​ enviable​ position heading into​​ Sunday afternoon’s playoff opener against the Phoenix Mercury.</span​>

All the Storm need to do is win a pair of best-of-five series for a championship. The squad will be rested thanks to its 26-8 regular season, which landed Seattle a top seed in the WNBA playoffs, and with it a double-bye and automatic advancement to the semifinals.

High Post Hoops: Block Party: How Jessica Breland anchors the Atlanta Dream’s defense

Video: “Inspired by those who have come before, THIS IS OUR TIME. We will defend the Dream, we will defend Atlanta!” – Mayor Bottoms

Ben at HPH: WNBA playoffs semifinals preview podcast: Seattle Storm vs. Phoenix Mercury

Texas Sports: Former Women’s Basketball teammates to meet in WNBA Semifinals

Good question: Will Seattle’s lack of playoff experience hurt the Storm?

The Storm’s Natasha Howard isn’t surprised by her breakout season: “I had it in me the whole time’

Deadspin: Diana Taurasi Just Doesn’t Lose When It Matters

In case you missed this: Washington Mystics: An energetic and efficient LaToya Sanders is ready for a championship

In May, during Washington Mystics’ training camp, center LaToya Sanders was absolutely exhausted. And, not in the normal, we’ve-been-going-lights-out-for-two-straight-hours way. The practice had just started, she was only doing layups, and she already felt like she was going to pass out. She knew something was wrong.

She alerted the Mystics’ coaching staff and trainers to her sickness, and immediately went in for a battery of tests. Soon, she had a diagnosis: anemia.

Space, it’s an issue (if we don’t raise revenue/fanbase) Multiple Teams Forced To Relocate, Losing Their Home-Court For The Playoffs. Cristhian Plasencia takes a closer look.

Hashtag Basketball: Record Breaker: How Courtney Vandersloot Rewrote the WNBA History Books in 2018

Fansided: THE WNBA IS EVOLVING RIGHT BEFORE OUR EYES

Early in an Aug. 14 game between the Los Angeles Sparks and the New York Liberty, Candace Parker did something she does all the time, something she has been doing since she was named the WNBA’s Rookie of the Year and MVP back in 2008. It was remarkable on its own terms and unremarkable for her — a perfect encapsulation of not just how stars like Parker have changed the nature of women’s basketball, but of how the women’s game is opening onto a new stylistic future.

Have you listened?  podcast on iTunes.

WNBAInsidr: May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor

Entrepreneur: WNBA President Lisa Borders Shares Why She Believes ‘Failure Is Not Fatal, It’s Feedback’

Ebony: WNBA Star Skylar Diggins Calls Out Basketball’s Gender Wage Gap

Hoops Happening: Thrilling start of WNBA playoffs leaves us wanting more early-round games – I understand where folks are going, but how about a mini – reality check: Two blowouts.

ALSO

Ya don’t say: Female basketball players face disproportionate racial bias: New study

AutoStraddle:: Young LGTBQ Athletes Are Still Facing Hardcore Homophobia; Here’s How You Can Help

I cannot imagine high school locker rooms are really comfortable for anyone. Thinking back to the many hours I spent in my own high school’s locker room, I’m flooded with memories of the awful smell, the body insecurity that came along with being surrounded by the school’s most athletic girls, the constant yelling of inside jokes.

I also remember in great detail the chipped, blue-grey paint color of the concrete floor, because I was looking at it pretty much the entire time I was in there.

Growing up queer in a small town, I came out only to my closest friends. However, in true small town fashion, more and more people seemed to know this very intimate detail of my life every day – whether I wanted them to or not.

Read Full Post »

clap your hands!

What, too soon?

Personally, I loved that clap at/clap back/talk clap back storyline between Williams and Taurasi. I respect Williams coming for the Queen. It’s a bold move – and necessary. But, you best be prepared to lose your head. <G> Of course, next time the tables might be turned…. But at the moment, we’re not talking about next time, we’re talking about…. SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY!!!!!! ’cause Seattle v. Phoenix and Washington .v. Atlanta is is gonna be some fun!

AZ Central: Phoenix Mercury advance to WNBA semifinals with win over Connecticut Sun

Playing in front of many fans who used to cheer for her in college, Diana Taurasi broke hearts once again.

The former University of Connecticut star guard scored 27 points to lift fifth-seeded Phoenix over the Connecticut Sun, 96-86, on Thursday in a WNBA playoff game at Mohegan Sun Arena.

BTW: Sun Coach Curt Miller Aims for Honesty With Team and Family

That Sunday, Brian took Miller back to the airport. In his third season with the Sun, Miller, believed to be the first openly gay male coach of a professional sports team in the United States, refocused on taking his team to the playoffs for a second consecutive season.

And he did. The Sun won nine of their last 10 games to earn a first-round bye. They will host a single-elimination, second-round game against the Phoenix Mercury on Thursday night.

But there was someone missing during Miller’s visit, someone whose anguish he always carries with him. Brian’s twin, Shawn, was not home. He was in an Indiana correctional facility, serving a 13-year sentence after a conviction for armed robbery in 2014.

Also: A huge shout out to the fabulous pre-game/post-game coverage by the Connecticut media. It would have been great for the Sun to have continued their playoff run – if only to give the league and its fans the benefit of their good, caring, in-depth work.

That other game: Not a lot of fun to be had during the Mystics/Sparks game – unless you were a Washington fan. For whatever many reasons possible, LA simply didn’t have a … spark, and Washington was all magic.

ESPN: Mystics’ balance, chemistry overwhelm Sparks in blowout win

“They’ve figured out their team,” Ogwumike said. “They’re not just playing well; they put people in good positions. People thrive because they have the chemistry. They know what people are good at and what people like to do. … They’re playing stress free.”

Quick peek forward

Read Full Post »

Home Court Advantage

There are times when me default for a game I don’t have a stake in is “OFFENSE!” Other times it’s “Give the fans a home win.”

Both were in play last night. Phoenix v. Dallas was a barnburner until the DT and birthday girl DB took off, while Minnesota and LA gave us the expected arm-wrassling, gut-wrenching game we have come to expect from these two teams. End result – a great night for the league.

Merc v. Wings

ESPN: Diana Taurasi — who else? — helps Mercury move on to second round

When the WNBA schedule turns its page to the playoffs, some players get nervous, some teams get tight.

And rightfully so.

The first two rounds are win or go home. That’s enough pressure over 40 minutes to make up for an entire season.

But Mercury guard Diana Taurasi doesn’t fret. She doesn’t feel that pressure. She doesn’t get nervous.

“It becomes a little bit more fun,” Taurasi said.

Pat Ralph: MERCURY USE OFFENSIVE EXPLOSION TO POWER PAST WINGS

The Ringer: One-and-Done: DeWanna Bonner and the Mercury Eliminated the Wings

Seven things from the Phoenix Mercury’s 101-83 win over the Dallas Wings in the first round of the WNBA playoffs on Tuesday night:

I. With three and a half minutes left in the third quarter of the single-elimination playoff game between the Mercury and the Wings, the Mercury, who were in the process of opening up the game, found themselves in a bit of a pickle. DeWanna Bonner, who had played well all night and whose defense was very responsible for having helped turn a four-point Phoenix lead at halftime into a 12-point lead in that moment, had the ball 34 feet from the basket with only five or so seconds left on the shot clock and (it appeared) no real plan.

AZ Central:  Brittney Griner tops Liz Cambage in pair’s 1st duel in WNBA playoffs

“When (Diana) and I run the pick and roll, teams really have to pick one of us to defend,” Griner said. “You can’t be at the point of the screen and get to me while I’m rolling.”

For years, Griner has imposed her 6-9 frame on the best centers in the WNBA. But this season, when the 6-8 Cambage made her return to the WNBA after a four-year hiatus, Griner was forced to go up against a player whose size matched her own.

WNBAInsidr: Wings Exit Postseason, Look To Future

“I think our team really battled,” said interim head coach Taj McWilliams-Franklin. “Phoenix played out of their minds and had some great shooting from their big three and they really carried them throughout the game.

“Our players took a hit, kept going, kept pushing, and we’re really proud of the future of the Dallas Wings.”

Dallas News: Uncertain offseason awaits for Dallas Wings after falling to Phoenix Mercury in WNBA playoffs

Sparks v. Lynx

ESPN: L.A. wins, Lindsay Whalen retires — and rivalry might never be the same

As the Lynx and Sparks were preparing to write the latest and likely final chapter in their riveting rivalry with yet another do-or-die elimination game, Nneka Ogwumike felt something odd in the Los Angeles locker room, and it had nothing to do with the mononucleosis that has drained her since last month.

Despite the fact that Los Angeles and Minnesota were about to play a winner-take-all game for the fourth straight postseason, the Sparks locker room was calm as can be.

“It was kind of chill,” Ogwumike said.

LA Times: Sparks win rematch of last two WNBA Finals, ousting the Lynx to advance to another one-game playoff

Tyler Berry at High post Hoops: NO HOLLYWOOD ENDING FOR THE DEFENDING CHAMPIONS

Ben at HPH: Takeaways: Sparks on to Washington, Lindsay Whalen’s last game, Lynx look to future

Tamryn: The ascent, summit and decline of the Minnesota Lynx

Star-Tribune: Lynx’s Season Comes to an End

Canis Hoopus: Eliminated: Lynx Lose in LA 75-68

.com: From Lindsay Whalen, With Love: A Letter

Check out High Post’s podcast – game reviews and previews.

Swish Appeal: Analysis: How the Mercury and Sparks won their first-round playoff games

Up Next: 

ESPN: Win or go home? How about win … pack and head to airport because: Phoenix Mercury meet Connecticut Sun once again in WNBA second-round playoff elimination game

Before the D.C game flashback: The Thibaults on Blake’s Jump Around podcast talked all things hoops, Mystics, Whalen, etc.

Washington City Paper: Kristi Toliver Is the Veteran Force Fueling the Mystics

“I feel like at any big point of the game, we’re always looking to her for the answers and she has them,” says Elena Delle Donne.

Other stuff

’cause it’s all about the swag: The shirts you need to show off your WNBA fandom during the playoffs

And, apparently, the kicks: The Nike Air Swoopes II, WNBA legend Sheryl Swoopes’ signature shoe, is back on the market (Hello: D-Wade offers to pay fine for WNBA player who wore his shoes) (Also: Meet Tamara Young, The WNBA’s Biggest Sneakerhead)

A fun read: WNBA coaches: What Nicki Collen, Dan Hughes, Brian Agler bring to their respective teams

Player’s Tribune, Allie Quigley: The 7 Best Shooters in the WNBA Playoffs. Period.

I don’t have a lot of memories of my dad.

Life is sort of cruel that way — what we remember and what we forget. But my dad, he died of cancer when I was seven, and it’s just one of those things: I remember what he looked like, and what he sounded like. I remember that he used to play outside with us a lot. I remember always being in the gym with him (he was a coach and a school teacher), and how much he loved sports. But specific memories have this way of feeling just out of reach.

When he died, my siblings — my older brother, Ryan, my younger brother, Jake, and my younger sister, Sam — and I started to come together a lot more as a group. I think our dad passing away really made us understand how, in some ways, we were all we had. How we were the only ones who could ever “get” what we’d lost, and what it meant for us to cope. One of the biggest ways that we did that was by playing sports with each other. First, you know, because I think that was one of our main associations with our dad — the closest we had to a full memory. But then also I think because it was almost this, like….. whole other universe. Sports became a sanctuary for us, from feeling bad about things, and from feeling alone in the world.

Forbes: Can The WNBA’s Many Stars Defy What The Numbers Say About The WNBA Playoffs?

The Guardian: How WNBA players fought back against the Twitter trolls

And: WNBA player calls out airplane seatmate for racist text message

Lotta this going on, no? The Undefeated: ‘Get back into the kitchen’: A WNBA roundtable on sexism in basketball (You know what they say, “The Stronger Women Get, the More Men Love Football”)

Check this out from Sports Illustrated: WNBA Media Roundtable: Examining Coverage of the League and Forecasting Its Future

With the WNBA playoffs starting on Tuesday, it felt like an interesting time to examine the league as a whole and how it’s covered by major publications, as well as hit on hot-button topics that have cropped up during the regular season. Keeping that in mind, The Crossover spoke with members of the media about their connection to the WNBA, how to improve it and more.

In answering the questions, members of this three-person panel were told to provide responses as short or long as they wanted. (These answers have been edited for clarity.)

THE PANEL:

• Meredith Minkow, Social media, Bleacher Report 
• Richard Deitsch, Media writer, The Athletic
• Natalie Weiner, Staff writer, SB Nation

The Ringer: The WNBA Needs Liz Cambage, but She May Not Need It  also: Liz Cambage tells us 5 ways the WNBA is failing its players

Speaking of being needed: Liberty Wrap Up WNBA Season On The Road Without Knowing What Home They’ll Be Returning To

Hashtag Basketball:  The Liberty’s Lost Season

On The Banks Episode #8 With Rutgers Women’s Basketball Alumna & WNBA’s Erica Wheeler

The State: A’ja Wilson caps off one of the greatest rookie seasons in WNBA history

Speaking of which: How special is the 2018 WNBA draft class? An in-depth look

WATN? Lindsey Harding the latest to make her mark in the NBA

NCAA

YESNCAA coaches McCallie, Legette-Jack plan for mental health awareness. I’m intrigued to see if they address some of the social factors that can impact an athletes mental health – misogyny, racism, homophobia etc. For example: I’m a lesbian basketball player. Hateful comments are pushing people like me out of sports.

Being an openly lesbian athlete is tough — and that’s an understatement. I don’t just have to be confident in my ball-handling and shooting skills. I have to work up the confidence to be unapologetically me, even when I’m targeted for who I am. I have to work twice as hard to focus on the court because I know I’m going to be treated differently than my teammates in the locker room because I’m a lesbian.

About eight in 10 LGBTQ youth are not out to their coaches. I was, and as a sophomore, there were many games I couldn’t play because my coach ordered the girls on my team to wear dresses on game day. He knew I wouldn’t wear one, and he didn’t let me play because of it.

Congrats: The Blodgett era highlights Maine Basketball Hall of Fame inductions

Yeah! 103-Year-Old Former Women’s Basketball Player Gets Surprise Visit From Team

International (No, my bags AREN’T packed yet. But soooooon!)

FIBA: Where will Japan finish, who will be their MVP & breakout Performer?

Read Full Post »

A Soggy Sunday means

some time for reflection and projection.

My Lib are limping through the last of a disheartening and humiliating season. No idea what the WNBA/NBA heads were smoking, but their ill-informed comments just poured salt in our wounds. Losing the Comets was a body blow. Watching the league lose the Liberty has been a slow bleed-out. Perhaps a Basketball Angel will appear, wipe the smudge off their uniforms and whisk the team back to the Garden. Or to the Barclays Center. But I’m not holding my breath.

All I can do is thank Katie Smith and random twitter-fortune for the two court side seats that allowed me to take my roller-derby crazed friend to her first WNBA game. In Madison Square Garden.

Her delight. Her… awed-ness? Her willingness to ignore the overwhelming sound of thousands of squealing youngsters and revel in the athleticism on display in front of her was heart-filling. And, because I know too much, heartbreaking.

You may already know this story, but this is what happened at the conclusion of the August 6th game: A little one, draped shoulder to ankles in a Breanna Stewart jersey was standing mid-court with Stewart, getting her picture taken.

IMG_20180806_130313126.jpg

Not sure why or how she got out there, but there was a clump of photographers around the pair. I noticed a woman to my right, camera in hand, trying to get onto the court – to take a picture of Stewie, I presumed. No surprise, MSG security prevented it.

 

And then, Stewie started guiding the young girl…towards us?

IMG_20180806_130317183.jpg

No. Towards the woman with the camera. Breanna in her socked feet, the little one clutching two sneakers that, put end to end, were almost as big as she was.

The woman, who I realize is little one’s aunt, is kvelling. If she could have been beside herself with joy and amazement and delight, she would have. “OMG. All Little One has been saying since she came to visit is that she wanted to see Stewie and she wanted her sneakers. Of course, I couldn’t say that there was no way that was happening. But look! Look!”

Stewie comes closer.

IMG_20180806_130324139.jpg

Again, security is preventing Auntie from joining them. Auntie could care less, as she’s desperately trying to breathe so she can take pictures. She’s got a running commentary that sounds something like “omg, omg, omg…”

“Do you want to take a picture?” says Stewie. She beckons, and photos are taken.

IMG_20180806_130331180.jpg

IMG_20180806_130329549.jpg

Stewie exits. Auntie is still kvelling.

IMG_20180806_130344749.jpg

“Look! Sneakers. And she signed your shirt. We need to call your mom. She’ll never believe this!IMG_20180806_130353813.jpg

IMG_20180806_130339918_BURST000_COVER_TOP.jpg

My friend and I are kvelling. There is much kvelling around us from the fans who’ve witnessed all this.

IMG_20180806_130347182.jpg

We walk off the sidelines and through the exit, and I’m thinking, “This is it. My last time in the Garden with the Liberty.”

And I stop.

Because there’s the two of them, phone plugged in, talking to mom about “Little One and Auntie’s Most Excellent Adventure at Madison Square Garden where the New York Liberty Played the Seattle Storm.”

IMG_20180806_131049829_LL.jpg

And my heart swells. And, no surprise, I flash back to 1997, when my friend Heather dragged me to the Garden to go to this thing I knew nothing about. And how I got chills walking into the arena, seeing thousands of people cheering on a women’s basketball team.

Thousands.

Cheering.

A WOMEN’S PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL TEAM.

IN MADISON SQUARE GARDEN.

So, fuck you, James Dolan. Fuck you for taking this away from us. From all the Little Ones.

Fuck.

You.

Oh, and everyone is playing today. Watch the games. Purchase tickets. Tweet about it. Write about it. Talk about it. Argue about it. Celebrate it.

“We Got Next” only if “You Step Up.”

Read Full Post »