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In Tenerife and thinking…

Rebecca Lobo is smart:

Of all the unsettling things we saw yesterday during the judiciary committee hearing, the thing that sticks with me most is the rage of the older white men. Ladies, we must raise our sons to be better. And raise our daughters to demand better.

Supporting women’s basketball is a political act against sexism, racism and homophobia. Anyone who believes otherwise is not paying attention. Remember what Clarendon has said? Remember what Stewie has said? Believe women. Support women. Educate, educate, educate.

Speaking of women…. there’s been a LOT of basketball in Tenerife. Some highlights:

In the Stands Story: Four young women sitting to my left. They notice Cheryl Reeve sitting to my right. One of them stands, walks over to get a photo with her. I turn to the woman remaining and ask, “Does she know Katie Smith is there, to?” “Oh yes,” she replies. “A WNBA champion and a Hell of Famer.” Turns out the four of them are from Germany. “My sister is mad about the WNBA. We watch all the games. When she heard the Worlds were going to be in Tenerife, we had to come.”

In the Stands Story: Two Puerto Rico fans in front of me. I’m yelling my head off for the team. They turn and say “Thank you,” and add, “Some of these girls lost everything in the hurricane. They lost their jobs, they drank dirty water. But they’re here.”

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Latvians in the house!

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In the Stands Story: A woman wearing a Latvia shirt walks over to Breanna’s dad, another Latvia shirt clutched in her hand. She’s trying to negotiate an exchange for the USA shirt he’s wearing, but it’s hard to hear because the Latvian contingent is loud, supported by an enthusiastic drummer. “I’ll tell you what,” Mr. Stewart says, “I’ll trade you this for that drum.”

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Watching the Latvian’s play their hearts out against the US, exhausted and close to weeping… and then being lifted up by their fans.IMG_2334.jpg

Nigeria breaking through. IMG_2360.jpg

NY Liberty’s Maddie could team the World’s mascot some moves….IMG_2305.jpg

A mural in Santa Cruz.

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Visiting a volcano.IMG_2362.jpg

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Gonna bus over to the arena to catch China v. Canada and very much looking forward to tonight’s semis. US v. Belgium: No surprise to anyone, the US guard play has been suspect. It’s also obvious there is no perimeter defensive specialist… and the Belgian guards have been rock solid so far.

Spain v. Australia. Never bet against a home-crowd-fueled team, but Liz has been amazing. AND, some of Australia’s “who dey?” support players have come up big.

LONG TERM PLANNING: 

Canada and US collaborate to host the Worlds in 2022. Vancouver and Seattle, with Seattle holding the medal round.

OR

Paris Olympic Committee hosts, giving them an opportunity to do a dry run for the 2024 Olympics and build enthusiasm for the Games. (BTW, the Games’ date – Jul 26, 2024 – Aug 11, 2024 – is gonna play havoc with the WNBA season.)

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Quick hits from Tenerife

Still recovering from a Friday work day, trip to the airport and three flights to get to Tenerife proper. Didn’t help that passport control in Madrid had lines so long that I missed my connecting flight. I made do.

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Thanks to @Iberia (and NOT to @AmericanAir, who were 1-800-MissingInAction) did get to the island just after 11pm. Missed the US v. Senegal excitement, but was happy to have arrived.

Learning to modify my Spanish to say “GraTHIas.” Everyone I’ve interacted with has been absolutely kind, patient and helpful.

Sunday was a super-full day of basketball, starting at 11am with two games, a break to wander outside and grab some lunch, then a return for a 6pm start to two more games. I got tickets to both sessions at the door – 5euro each. Small but enthusiastic crowds for first two games. Nicely packed for first evening game (US v. China) Check out some of the top plays here.

Australia v. Argentina was pretty much a wipe out. Liz is just as aggrieved about physical contact and officiating here as she is in the W. Argentinian’s played hard start to finish, but the were simply overmatched.

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High Post Hoops: Ezi Magbegor learning from Liz Cambage at World Cup

 

 

Japan v. Belgium was a bit of a stunner. With only one post, I expected Meesseman and the ever-present Belgian Waffle/Brussel Sprout Ann Wauters to dominate. Instead, Japan used their relentless energy and quickness, savvy play by Takada (knowing not to foul) and a timely three to send the game into overtime. And then they didn’t fade.

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IMG_2189.jpgFiba: Takada too hot to handle as she jump starts Japan’s campaign

Bullets Forever: Belgium vs. Japan final score: Emma Meesseman perseveres in 77-75 overtime loss

 

 

Good showing by Belgian fans.

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China v. US showed that folks need to keep an eye on the Chinese team – for possible draft picks AND future competitions. They were a delight to watch. MIA on the US side were Griner and Delle Donne. And defense. But, if you’re gonna score 100 points…Wilson was impressive – poised and effective. Stewart found a strong groove.

TeamUSA.org: US Women Hold Off China To Go 2-0 At Basketball World Cup

Hashtag Basketball: How Americans playing in China are growing Chinese basketball

Nigeria v. Turkey was thrilling and sad to see. Hard to see a program that was so feisty in Istanbul struggle so (injuries didn’t help, nor did Q’s temper). A heart-lifter to see the Nigerian team pull together and earn an epic win (on the same day Senegal did).

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Great shot! Nigeria only just getting started after historic success

Pulse Nigeria: D’Tigress beat Turkey 74-68 in 2nd group game

Punch: I left WNBA for Turkey to enhance my career — D’Tigress star Akhator

.com: How International WNBA Players Performed on Day 2 at FIBA World Cup

Some art in the street before a late night dinner

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Monday: Sleep and the walk through Santa Cruz…

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…and then up to the Botanical Garden.

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Tomorrow: Permutations: All to play for on exciting last day of Group Phase

News:

From Doug: At World Cup, Puerto Rico hopes to lift spirits back home

Puerto Rico guard Dayshalee Salaman remembers huddling with her family in her grandmother’s house as the wind from Hurricane Maria howled outside.

For 12 hours they sat and prayed that the storm would spare them. They made it through relatively unscathed. One of her cousins lost a house when the roof was ripped off.

Salaman knows that many other Puerto Ricans weren’t so lucky when the storm hit on Sept. 20, 2017. An estimated 2,975 people died in the aftermath of the Category 4 storm, according to Puerto Rico’s governor.

”I’m blessed and glad that my family was OK and that I was able to help other families that went through a lot,” she said. ”A lot of people lost everything and it was hard to see.”

ESPN: Team USA’s Tina Charles, Liberty teammates stepping up in FIBA World Cup

ESPN: Atlanta’s finest WNBA players (plus Dwight Howard) bring the heat on ‘Wild ‘N Out’

WaPo: Residents hope new arena means new life for long-neglected area

Las Vegas Review Journal: Aces’ A’ja Wilson previews FIBA World Cup, USA Basketball

MSP: International players to watch at Women’s World Cup

TBT: Fun facts and tidbits from the Women’s Basketball World Cup

Swish Appeal: A primer on the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup

ICYMI: Why isn’t Maya Moore with Team USA in Spain? Lynx star is taking a much-needed break

HashTag Basketball: The 2018 Seattle Storm: How a Winning Formula turned into a WNBA Title

WATN? Heat add former WNBA Miami Sol player Ruth Riley as radio, television analyst

‘ello! Why not the Liberty? (Sob) Dodgers, WNBA Sparks Adding Billie Jean King As Minority Owner

NCAA

After nearly quitting basketball, WNBA prospect Cierra Dillard has ‘unfinished business’ at UB

And your future host will be….San Antonio, Minneapolis, Dallas, Cleveland. Reminder: If you want the F4 on the East or West coast SOMEONE HAS TO BID. Here’s something I wrote about that for the WBCA in 2009. NCAA TOURNAMENT HOSTING: Hidden Hurdles and Helpful Hints

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Here. We. Go.

No pressure, friends, but this is national, not-cable, T.V.: ABC, 3:30pm.

Mechelle, ESPN: Mystics must look to have an early answer for Storm in Game 2

It’s not that the Washington Mystics were unprepared for the intensity of Friday’s Game 1 of the WNBA Finals, Washington coach Mike Thibault said. But once things started getting away from them, it escalated fast. And in a building as full of fan energy as KeyArena was for their beloved Seattle Storm, it felt a little like an avalanche.

Thibault said the Mystics have to make some X’s and O’s adjustments for Sunday’s Game 2 (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET) after their 89-76 loss Friday. But there’s more to it.

“We’ll make adjustments as need be, and there need to be adjustments,” Mystics guard Natasha Cloud said. “We’ve got to get back to being defensive-minded and focus on getting stops and allowing ourselves to be put in a successful situation, and then we can get into our transition offense.”

ESPN: From undersized post to defensive stopper, Alysha Clark remakes her game

But making it in the WNBA was a more challenging prospect. She was a “tweener”: a 5-foot-11, back-to-the basket, post player in college trying to adjust to being a wing facing the basket and needing to develop guard skills. Drafted in the second round at No. 17 overall by San Antonio in 2010, Clark didn’t get on a WNBA roster that year nor in 2011.

Watch the game with Renee (again). (WNBA Players Association Inks Deal With Sports Streaming ICO)

WATN? Team USA Gold Medalist, WNBA Player Lisa Willis Joins TC Williams As Head Coach

H.P.H: Katie Smith, Tina Thompson enter Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

International

And the young (and tall) shall lead them: U.S. women overcome 16-point deficit, beat Canada in exhibition

A’ja Wilson had 15 points and 10 rebounds to help the U.S. women’s national team rally from a 16-point first-half deficit and beat Canada 74-68 on Saturday night in an exhibition game.

The U.S. was shockingly down 16 in the first quarter and trailed 56-48 heading into the fourth quarter before finally getting going. Wilson, who was the AP WNBA rookie of the year, along with her Las Vegas Aces teammate Kelsey Plum, keyed the change in the fourth.

USA Basketball: 

“Everyone is used to seeing us blow teams out, and obviously that didn’t happen tonight,” Staley said. “This helps build chemistry. It helps me as a coach to see who we can call on.”

A’ja Wilson (Las Vegas Aces) answered the call by leading the team with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Wilson, Napheesa Collier (Connecticut), Elizabeth Williams (Atlanta Dream) and Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces) played the entire fourth quarter. Layshia Clarendon(Connecticut Sun) played seven of the 10 fourth-quarter minutes.

Additional quotes

Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks)
Was that a good test for the team?
Oh, no doubt. That was a great test. The first quarter wasn’t exactly ideal. But, coach Dawn’s composure helped us maintain ours. But, I also really liked that we were able to get some of the new faces out there to develop the chemistry that we need. Today was a really good test. I’m really happy we won, but I’m happy with how we won. It’s also how we won that we should be proud of.

Sporting News: Canada Women’s Basketball comes close to upset, but can’t defeat USA in pre-World Cup exhibition

“It was a battle out there and I think that was something that was great for us as a team” said Nurse. “We’ve only had our 12 in the last two games that we played [against Japan Friday and USA Saturday]. To get that chemnistry, to get that battle in this game, in a test like that, was great for us.”

Hartford Courant: US Women’s Basketball Team Beats Canada, But It Wasn’t Easy

New Haven Register: USA Women’s National Team rallies past Canada in exhibition

Fortunately for Dawn Staley and Co., a few weeks still remain before the games start counting for real.

Saturday’s tune-up against Canada served as an important reminder for the U.S. Women’s National Team that there’s still significant work to be done leading up to the FIBA World Cup, which tips off later this month in Spain.

WNBA.com: Fourth quarter comeback highlights.
Indiana Fever represent.
More essential basketball history: Ora Mae Washington gets enshrined with hoops legends

Washington, born in 1898, is considered by many experts as the greatest female athlete of her era. She not only excelled in basketball, but she was a sensational tennis player as well.

Her basketball and tennis talents were honed at the YWCA in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. She started her basketball career in the fall of 1930 playing for the YMCA-sponsored Germantown Hornets. In 1931, after compiling a 22-1 record, the Hornets claimed the national championship.

In 1932, she became a member of the Philadelphia Tribune Girls basketball team. For the next decade, the barnstorming Tribunes were the top Black team in the nation, and Washington was the team’s major star.

Off sport, on topic

At U.S. Open, power of Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka is overshadowed by an umpire’s power play

Williams abused her racket, but Ramos did something far uglier: He abused his authority. Champions get heated — it’s their nature to burn. All good umpires in every sport understand that the heart of their job is to help temper the moment, to turn the dial down, not up, and to be quiet stewards of the event rather than to let their own temper play a role in determining the outcome. Instead, Ramos made himself the chief player in the women’s final. He marred Osaka’s first Grand Slam title and one of Williams’s last bids for all-time greatness. Over what? A tone of voice. Male players have sworn and cursed at the top of their lungs, hurled and blasted their equipment into shards, and never been penalized as Williams was in the second set of the U.S. Open final.

And, for those of us trying to have “that conversation” with family and friends: #LoveSerenaHateRacism A Discourse On Western Attitudes Towards Serena Williams

“I could not believe what came out of his mouth…he said some awful things… and as an African-American I’m not going to stand for it”, she said as she approached the umpire pointing in the direction of a middle-aged man sitting at the stadium. She continued, “I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it. I had to do a double take. I think I hit a double-fault on that point.” After sitting down, she put the towel on her lap and spoke on, “He was harassing me throughout the match, and I should have said something sooner. He was saying things he shouldn’t have and it was totally unethical. It was derogatory.”

This incident took place in March 2007 during a match between Serena Williams and Lucie Safarova at the Sony Ericsson Miami Open. The middle-aged man watching the match had just yelled at Serena, saying, “Hit the ball into the net like any nigger would.” In response, Serena approached the umpire to complain and to have him ejected from the match. Six years after this event, the racial slurs directed at Serena still continue although they have become more polished and less obvious.

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There’s a game today, btw. 7pm, NBATV

Hartford Courant: UConn Alumna Jen Rizzotti Continues To Impact UConn Players Long After Leaving Huskies

“It’s always special for me,” Rizzotti said. “Obviously I haven’t played with any of these guys, but I’ve been a part of their journey a little bit through USA basketball. … I’ve kind of seen them grow up through the game, and it’s really fun … just to see how much they’ve grown, how much they’ve matured, and the fact that they’ve been able to elevate their game so high that they’re still a part of this pool. And Napheesa (Collier), it’s just fun to watch the next in line and the expectation everyone has for her and how she’s handled herself in this atmosphere.”

Hartford Courant: Mike Anthony: Napheesa Collier Gaining Wealth Of Experience With Team USA

“Any time you can be around these players, it’s going to benefit you,” national team coach Dawn Staley, also South Carolina’s coach, said after a Team USA workout at the Knicks practice facility. “I don’t think the pace of the game bothers her. I think just being able to play with other players and seeing how your game fits in [is important]. With Napheesa, she plays hard all the time. There’s no big transition there. She understands the game, so there really isn’t any transition there. What’s missing is just her being out here, experience. Which she’s getting.”

WNBA

Listen up! WNBA Weekly reacts to ‘s win over in game 1 and look forward to the coming game 2 (Sun @ 3:30pm ET on ABC).

Seattle Times: Without Sami Whitcomb’s heroics off the bench…. 

What did Renee Montgomery think? SportsCastr.

Check out Chris’ photos.

Seattle Times: The Storm builds and rebuilds. Sue Bird just keeps going to WNBA Finals

Got some spare change? Isaiah Thomas

“The Storm is Seattle basketball royalty — and you can put that on a T-shirt.” Well guess, what… I did. Cop my custom tee while supplies last! Celebrate women’s hoops! And let’s goooooo . All proceeds go to .

Well, hello! WOMEN OF INTRIGUE: A’JA WILSON

Wilson’s evolution mirrors that of the Aces, formerly the San Antonio Stars before being purchased by MGM Resorts International in October and moving into a refurbished Mandalay Bay Events Center in time to tip-off in May. It was hectic development to say the least, but Wilson, who reached WNBA All-Star status, and her teammates handled it with poise, narrowly missing a playoff berth.

“I haven’t really had the opportunity to sit back and take it all in, but it’s definitely been a lot of fun and a great experience all around,” she says. “The community welcoming us and just being here in the facilities has been great, and I go to other places and know I’m spoiled.”

HOOP HALL HEROES!!!!

Lindsay Gibbs, Yardbarker: Tina Thompson and Katie Smith were the foundation for WNBA greatness

Still, as gaudy as Thompson and Smith’s statistics are, they tell only part of the story of their impact. Thompson wasn’t the first WNBA player to give birth during her career, but the way she seamlessly integrated her son, Dyllan Thompson-Jones, into her life as a basketball star, both domestically and overseas, really paved the way for future mothers in this league, such as Candace Parker and Tayler Hill, to thrive. Thompson-Jones traveled the world with his mother; he was on the bus rides and in the hotels and simply became a part of the team. She gave birth before the 2005 season and was back playing with the Comets just two months later. When she retired, Thompson-Jones was 8 years old.

And now, after paving the way for women basketball players, Thompson and Smith are paving the way for female coaches. Both legends have seamlessly transitioned into the coaching ranks. After retiring with the Liberty in 2013, Smith worked as an assistant under Laimbeer for three seasons. This season, she took over as head coach.

Streaking the Lawn: Virginia Women’s Basketball coach Tina Thompson inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

Photos/USA Today: 2018 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony

.com: Hall Of Famer Tina Thompson: By The Numbers

Weren’t watching when she was terrorizing opponents? Take a look.

The original W’s Big Three were there. Sweet!

Listen up! HoF Speech.

Katie Smith, Ohio State, Columbus Quest, Minnesota Lynx, Detroit Shock, Washington Mystics, Seattle Storm, NY Liberty, USA Basketball

Columbus Dispatch: Katie Smith gets chance to reflect, give thank in her Hall of Fam induction

Katie Smith was driving a few days before the NCAA Women’s Final Four in March when an area code for Springfield, Massachusetts, popped up on her phone.

“I was like, ‘Well, this is it,’ ” Smith said.

The voice on the other end asked Smith if she was having a good day.

“Because we’re gonna make it better,” Smith remembered the person saying.

With that, Smith learned of her selection for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, but she didn’t get a chance to celebrate with her fellow 2018 inductees at the men’s Final Four in San Antonio. Instead, the Logan native celebrated in Columbus, which was hosting its first Women’s Final Four.

Logan Daily News: Naismith HOF awaits Logan’s Katie Smith

.com: Hall of Famer Katie Smith: By The Numbers

Weren’t watching when she was terrorizing opponents? Take a look.

Listen Up! HoF Speech.

Let’s not forget Doris Burke, Providence, Broadcaster extraordinaire

Doris Burke’s stellar broadcasting career – 2018 Basketball Hall of Fame.

Bill Reynolds: The Hall is where Doris Burke belongs

WEEI: Thinking out loud: Doris Burke is one of the best

Back in April: Doris Burke has Game

But Mr. Antetokounmpo, known around the league as the “Greek Freak,” had other thoughts on his mind. Sitting courtside in what looked like a toddler-size chair, the Freak noticed an athletic woman in workout clothes a few yards away.

“Oh, that’s Doris,” he blurted, with all the self-control of a celebrity gawker. “Hey, Doris!”

“Doris” would be Doris Burke, the longtime ESPN basketball personality, who, 27 years into her career, last September became the first woman to land a regular job as an N.B.A. analyst on national television — cracking what many consider one of the highest, hardest glass ceilings in broadcasting.

Listen up! HoF speech.

Speaking of history: Across the Timeline’s got a new one!! Sheri Sam

For players who spend several years in the league, it’s not uncommon to move at some point. But today’s subject is on the more extreme side, having played for seven teams in her 10-year career. A WNBA champion in her own right for the Seattle Storm, today’s “And One” profile is on ABL and WNBA guard Sheri Sam.

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Seattle Slew

Can the Mystics recover, or will the Storm continue to Whirlaway?

Seattle Times: Storm puts it in cruise control to beat Mystics in Game 1 of WNBA Finals

After Jewell Loyd lofted a three-pointer midway in the second quarter, the Storm guard turned and trotted in the opposite direction before the ball splashed through the net.

The roar from KeyArena crowd and the screams from the Seattle bench let her know the shot was good, while simultaneously signaling the end to her four-game shooting slump.

“It just felt really good regardless of if it went in,” Loyd said. “That was when I knew it might be a special night.”

Kevin, ESPN: Storm dominate Mystics, Elena Delle Donne in WNBA Finals Game 1 win

We can talk about my knee after this series,” Delle Donne said. “Excuses are for losers. If I wanted to be 100 percent, I wouldn’t have come back. So I knew coming into this thing I was going to have to figure out a different way to play.”

It didn’t help matters that the Storm used Howard, an All-Defensive First Team pick this season, as their primary defender on Delle Donne — a slight change from how Seattle had matched up in the past.

Howard in the NY Times: W.N.B.A. Finals 2018: When Her Game is Your Game, Too

And so it goes, from a veteran point guard known for sinking big shots (Kristi Toliver for Washington, Sue Bird for Seattle) to an active defender and rim protector whose offense took a vast leap forward this season (LaToya Sanders for Washington, Natasha Howard for Seattle) to versatile defensive stoppers on the perimeter (Ariel Atkins for Washington, Alysha Clark for Seattle).

It should mean a series that comes down to coaching — also a battle between two accomplished veterans in Thibault, the winningest coach in league history, and Dan Hughes, who has more wins than any active W.N.B.A. coach other than Thibault and Brian Agler of the Los Angeles Sparks.

 

No surprise: In run to WNBA Finals, Storm has no bigger fan than former MVP Lauren Jackson

Washington Post: Mystics come out flat, get blown out by Storm to start WNBA Finals

“Basically, we got our butts kicked in every phase of the game,” Coach Mike Thibault said.

Poor shooting and defensive breakdowns conspired to deal Washington its third loss to the Storm in four meetings. All of those defeats have come on the road, where the Mystics had been performing admirably over the latter portion of the season.

Not on this night, however.

Morning add-onWNBA Finals Game 1 final score: Mystics melt down in Seattle, lose 89-76

Well, that was ugly. The Mystics were always going to be underdogs if they made it to the finals, but tonight they didn’t look like they belonged in the same league as the Storm in Game 1 on Friday night. Seattle came out strong and Washington had no counterpunch.

Take some time to read this Player’s Tribune piece by Sue: So I Broke My F*cking Nose. It’s like she’s channeling Lobo’s World According to Me” by Rebecca? What, you don’t remember? Sorry, I’m old. But it was on point and funny as sh*t.)

Quick story. It’s 2004 — we’re at the Athens Olympics. And during the Olympics, you know, the women’s and men’s basketball teams, they spend a lot of time together. But I was really young at the time, in my early 20s, and I think at that point I still maybe had internalized this idea that A Lot of Men Hate Women’s Basketball. And what I didn’t realize yet was that that’s only partially true. The truth is, a lot of men who suck at basketball hate women’s basketball. But the guys who can actually play? 99 times out of 100, they respect us. And the guys who are world class — at, say, an Olympic level? If you’re at that level, I’ve found, everyone has one thing in common: They love basketball to their utter f*cking core. Men’s, women’s, whatever.

But like I said, I don’t quite think I knew that yet. So it’s one of the first days of the Olympics, one of the first days of the men’s and women’s teams hanging out together. And I end up getting into a conversation with one of the younger guys on the team, LeBron James. And we’re mostly just small talking, you know, talking about this and that, Athens, the village, the other countries’ outfits, who can even remember. But then, out of nowhere, right as the conversation was ending — he pivoted. He looked at me, and he said, “Hey, y’all are doing your thing this year. Keep it up.” And in my head, I’m thinking, you know — Nah. This is LEBRON. The guy is just being polite. He probably doesn’t even know what team I’m on.

And I think he could maybe read my mind. Because then he paused, and he turned toward me a little more, almost with a wink — and he smiled. And then he added, “Second in the West.”

Nice follow up: How Sue Bird and Kyrie Irving became basketball’s best point guard friendship

Kyrie Irving remembers the first time he met Seattle Storm basketball legend Sue Bird in person. The point guards were sent to autograph basketballs in Brazil during the 2016 Rio Olympics, where both would win respective golds for the American men’s and women’s basketball teams.

Irving said he was star-struck seeing the two-time WNBA champion and four-time Olympic medalist in person. But Bird thought he played it off cool.

“He was so friendly and like ‘Yo, Sue I’m a big fan. I love your game,’” Bird told SB Nation. “You could tell he was excited, which was cool for me. Obviously I’ve seen him play and I’m a huge fan of his game.”

Cool: Beats by Dr. Dre Announces Partnership with the NBA, WNBA and USA Basketball

Spokesman-Review: Former Gonzaga standout Courtney Vandersloot reflects on record-breaking WNBA season

Morning add -ons:

Rick Insell pulling for former MTSU Lady Raider Alysha Clark in WNBA Finals

Seattle Times: Out of basketball a year ago, Storm coach Dan Hughes is now on the verge of his first WNBA title

For the Win: Sue Bird (broken nose), Elena Delle Donne (bone bruise) kick off WNBA Finals

Might wanna review this: Kristi Toliver and Jewell Loyd Share Their Scouting Reports for the 2018 WNBAFinals

Sign me up! Moore, Parker And Taurasi Featured In Players Only: WNBA Legends Special

International

Intriguingly tight game: Canada’s Achonwa leads women’s basketball team past Japan in pre-worlds tuneup

NCAA.com: Women’s basketball: Top college players practicing with Team USA

Hartford Courant: USA Basketball Women’s National Team To Play In Connecticut This Weekend

Of note: Women’s basketball recruit first to wear hijab for St. Clair College (Canada)

NCAA

Not just a loss: Tracey Elizabeth Carrington, a former Morgan State standout,  Witness in Towson double-homicide case fatally shot in Overlea

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Michelle: Inside the W: Mystics, Storm Punch Tickets To Finals

Legends have a tendency to do legendary things.

Two hours after the Washington Mystics punched the franchise’s first-ever ticket to the WNBA Finals, the league’s oldest player – not to mention one of its most accomplished, respected and revered – made sure that she would get there to join them. (“Use your legs, Luuuke.”)

Swish Appeal: Analysis: Mystics earn first-ever Finals bid, Storm finally get emphatic win to join them

WaPo: Now that Washington Mystics made WNBA Finals breakthrough, Seattle Storm awaits

Elena Delle Donne sat on a chair in the Washington Mystics’ locker room late Tuesday night at McCamish Pavilion, her left knee wrapped in ice to limit swelling from a bone bruise that, by all accounts, would have kept most players out of the lineup.

She wasn’t about to be only a spectator in the most important game in franchise history, so Delle Donne had slipped on a protective brace and proceeded to play more than 36 minutes in a winner-take-all Game 5 against the Atlanta Dream to send the Mystics to the WNBA Finals for the first time.

Mechelle: No mistake about it: Mystics are headed to first WNBA Finals

It took 20 years, but they are the star-crossed Mystics no more. Washington is going to the WNBA Finals for the first time, thanks to resilience, persistence and — finally — some good breaks going their way.

The Mystics beat the Dream 86-81 in Game 5 of their semifinal series Tuesday at McCamish Pavilion. When they left this building a week ago after a Game 2 loss, the Mystics were feeling upset and worried. Elena Delle Donne had injured her left knee late in that game, and it was hard not to fear the worst.

H.P.H. Delle Donne shines in big moments; Mystics advance to WNBA finals

A small contingent of supporters wearing Washington Mystics red cheered from the corner of McCamish Pavilion. There was three-and-a-half seconds remaining in a decisive Game Five of the WNBA semifinals. Their leader, Elena Delle Donne, had just flushed a pair of free throws to give them a five-point lead over the home team, the Atlanta Dream.

They knew it. The game was sealed — thanks to the 6’5 forward who remained calm when the pressure was at its highest.

SB Nation: The Mystics surrounded Elena Delle Donne with the perfect roster. Now they’re championship bound.

Mystics earn first trip to WNBA Finals with 86-81 win over Dream in Game 5; Storm also advance

How Elena Delle Donne went from potential season-ending injury to WNBA superstar again in 5 days

AJC: Dream’s season ends with Game 5 loss to Mystics

Biz Journals: Atlanta Dream bounced before WNBA Finals

Kevin: Sue Bird’s fourth-quarter heroics help Storm return to WNBA Finals

To reach the WNBA Finals and finally hand Diana Taurasi’s Phoenix Mercury a loss in a deciding game, all the Seattle Storm needed was a huge game from the current MVP and a Taurasi-esque performance from one of her closest friends.

Wins over Dallas and Connecticut in the elimination rounds pushed the Mercury’s record to 13-0 in winner-take-all games with Taurasi. When Phoenix controlled the first half Tuesday, leading by as many as 11 points, the visiting Mercury looked well on their way to making that 14-0.

Sue Bird couldn’t stop the bleeding from her broken nose in Game 4, watching helplessly as her team’s chance to clinch a WNBA Finals berth slipped away in the fourth quarter.

But when back on the floor in the fourth in Game 5, Bird made sure to make her mark. In doing so, she slayed the Phoenix Mercury and her long-time best friend, Diana Taurasi, to take the Storm back to the Finals for the first time since 2010

Rachel Nichols on Sue.
It was the eighth minute of the fourth quarter of Game 5 between the Seattle Storm and the Phoenix Mercury when things began to get all the way screwy, and then all the way deadly, and then, eventually, all the way legendary. Let me tell you what happened Tuesday night. First, though, read these six things, because all of the six things are important for context:
Game photos.
What did Sue do? Highlights.

The Seattle Storm started this season knowing it could be good. In 2014 and 2015, the team failed to make the playoffs. In 2016 and 2017, it was bounced from the postseason in the single-elimination first round. By May of this year, Breanna Stewart, for one, was fed up with losing.

“It’s time to start winning,” the third-year star said then. “I don’t want to come off as crass or cocky or anything like that, but losing sucks. It does. That’s just how I feel about it.”

In Other News
Think Progress: The WNBA deserves better

If you haven’t been paying attention, you’ve truly been missing out. And yet, it’s also hard to blame you — the media gives the WNBA such little exposure that it’s easy to miss even the most thrilling storylines and nail-biting games.

Some of the lack of coverage is owed to the sharp decline in local media in recent years, and some of it is due to missteps by the WNBA. But a lot of it comes down to plain sexism, and the blatant disrespect it begets.

Let’s start by looking at the WNBA’s broadcast partner, ESPN. ESPN pays the WNBA $25 million a year for the right to air its games, so you’d think the network would have a vested interest in promoting the league as much as possible. And yet, on Sunday afternoon, even die-hard WNBA fans who were seeking out the Game 4 semifinal between the Atlanta Dream and Washington Mystics — a game in which 2015 MVP Delle Donne made a miraculous comeback from injury to lead the Mystics over the Dream and force a Game 5 — were left lost and confused.

 

Forbes: WNBA Players Are Simply Asking For A Greater Share Of WNBA Revenues

Sights and Sounds from USA Basketball Women’s National Team Training Camp

Hashtag Basketball: The Connecticut Sun’s 2018 Season

The Connecticut Sun ended the 2018 season with a 21-13 record and earned a single-bye in the playoffs with the #4 seed, only to get bounced in the second round (again) by the Phoenix Mercury (again). What happened this season and what needs to happen going forward? Let’s discuss.

.com: Nurse Makes the Cut for 2018 Team Canada (Yeah, Kia “Jersey!”)

NCAA

UND News: More Prestigious Honors Await Coach McGraw This Fall

Albuquerque News: Women’s basketball: Highly touted Everett could be a star for Lobos

ESPN: Tina Thompson’s storybook career takes her all the way to Naismith HOF

When Tina Thompson was a youngster, she envisioned her grown-up self a lawyer, sitting inside her Los Angeles office, framed Harvard degree on the wall.

She didn’t dream USC would offer her a basketball scholarship. Nor could she have predicted that she would be the first pick in the inaugural WNBA draft, or that she would be integral to the Houston Comets winning the first four league championships.

Thompson didn’t picture herself in a USA basketball uniform. Even as recently as a few years ago, she had no plan to coach, either, but after working as an assistant and later associate head coach at Texas, she’s in the early months of her first head-coaching job at Virginia.

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especially while zipping out to visit the Poppa for a post-birthday celebration. (Dad, btw, became a Liberty fan because I was a Liberty fan. No surprise, the thinks Dolan is a short-sighted putz.)

Anyhoo – between train, walks and yummy food, there were four fab games to keep our basketball-high going strong. What was NOT cool, of course, was the clown show ESPN’s coverage was.

High Post Hoops: Column: ESPN’s no-win situation over WNBA broadcast snafu

Oh, well. Can’t wait for two game 5s to be on ESPN2 and *squints at notes* ESPNews.

WTF.

BUT, if you’re cranky about this and are using social media to let the world know, don’t forget to TAG those who make the decisions: @wnba @WNBAPrez @ESPN_WomenHoop @espn @CStiffESPN @TaraESPN

Now, about those games.

Seattle/Phoenix

First a knee. Now a knose. Fortunately, Bird knows about broken noses. I mean, she carries a facemask with her! Small comfort to Seattle that she’s well versed from playing behind the fiberglass, as they could have used her savvy down the homestretch of yesterday’s game. Phoenix made sure to keep their fans’ hearts beating by pretending it was going to be a blow out, then fighting back to with the game on an improbable hook shot followed by a…. defensive stand? Wait, Phoenix?

Mechelle: Phoenix rallies again to force Game 5 as Seattle suffers first back-to-back losses of season

It has been a record-breaking WNBA season full of highlight-reel plays and intense competition. So it figures that both semifinal series are headed to a deciding Game 5.

For Phoenix, that meant becoming the first team in league history to climb back from an 0-2 series start to force a Game 5.

“It’s good basketball,” Mercury center Brittney Griner said after Phoenix’s come-from-behind 86-84 victory Sunday to even its series with Seattle.

Arizona Daily Star: Griner, Mercury rally to beat Storm, force deciding Game 5

Arizona Sports: Griner, Mercury fight back from 17-point deficit, force Game 5

High Post Hoops: How Brittney Griner found another gear and kept the Mercury alive

Hobbled thanks to an opponent’s flailing leg after a clanked free throw, with an eye decorated purple from a Game 3 collision, Brittney Griner in victory closely resembled her Phoenix Mercury as she walked off the court of Sunday’s Game 4 in Phoenix: Battered but resilient.

Griner’s 29 points not only tied a playoff career high, but led the Mercury to another comeback win, this time from down as many as 17.

The first time I spoke to Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner, it was for a 2014 cover story in Curve Magazine. Her memoir, “In My Skin,” had just been released, and she was fresh off of her rookie season in the WNBA. She was laid back and relaxed – a 23-year-old kid with natural basketball talent, an ardent sense of humor, and a hell of a lot of potential.

Griner joked through most of the interview, but we also touched on some off-of-the-court topics that demanded a bit of gravity and introspection. I’ve had a soft spot for her ever since, not just because of how she was so open and honest in our discussion, but also by her humble-hearted spirit. At the time, I don’t think she realized the true talent she had or how valuable her basketball skills were.

.com: Game Recap: Mercury Come Back From 17 Down, Force Game 5

Michelle: Inside The W: Bonner’s Journey From New Mother To WNBA Semis plus DeWanna Bonner has been unstoppable force for Phoenix in playoffs

Atlanta/Washington

EDD was back, and boy was DC happy.

WaPo: Elena Delle Donne’s return powers Mystics to Game 4 victory

Though Delle Donne wasn’t Washington’s leading scorer — that honor belonged to guard Kristi Toliver, who snapped out of a cold stretch on her shot with 22 points — she finished as a game-high plus-24 during her 33 minutes 42 seconds on the floor.

She would have launched dagger stares at Thibault had she played a minute less. Recognizing the gravity of the moment, Delle Donne didn’t hold back.

“I would’ve killed Coach if he didn’t let me play full out,” the sixth-year forward said as Thibault chuckled from across the room.

ESPN: Delle Donne’s return sparks Mystics, forces Game 5

“If she’s on the floor they have to respect her and honor her and that just changes everything for everyone,” Washington guard Kristi Toliver said. “I’m happy that she was able to get going, especially in the second half, feeling good, her legs were under her. … I’m just really happy to have her back.”

Washington City Paper/Lindsay Gibbs: Elena Delle Donne And Kristi Toliver Come Up Big for the Mystics

On Feb. 2, 2017, Washington Mystics head coach and general manager Mike Thibault announced that the team had acquired 2015 WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne in a trade with the Chicago Sky. Just five days later, he announced that 2013 All-Star and 2016 WNBA champion Kristi Toliver had signed with the Mystics in free agency.

Nineteen months later, it’s clear that was the biggest five days in Mystics franchise history.

Also: WNBA Takeaways: Washington Mystics dominate Atlanta Dream 97-76, force Game 5

Howard at FanSided: ARIEL ATKINS IS HUNGRY

Mike Thibault, Mystics head coach and general manager, began scouting Atikins during her junior year at University of Texas, and Texas assistant Tina Thompson, who knows a little something about WNBA stardom, made the Catchings connection for him.

“Tina had played with Catchings in every USA Basketball situation, and she said there’s nobody that works like Catchings until she coached Ariel,” Thibault said Friday. “She’s a guard, but I think she can be sensational. And she’ll be the first to tell you, she has so much to learn. And she is a note-taker, film-watcher, and you can’t watch enough film with her, she’ll ask for more. She’s just a sponge when it comes to learning the game.”

Atlanta Journal Constitution: WNBA semifinal returns to Atlanta after Mystics rout Dream in Game 4

Rob Knox: WNBA Playoffs: Delle Donne Returns and Spurs Washington to a 2-2 Semis Tie And Decisive Game 5 in Atlanta

Playing with savage fury and desperation, the Washington Mystics celebrated Elena Delle Donne’s return to the lineup by pulling away late to defeat the Atlanta Dream, 97-76, in Game Four of an intense WNBA semifinal series at the Charles E. Smith Center on George Washington’s campus Sunday afternoon.

.com: Postgame Notes & Quotes: Mystics Force Game 5

High Post Hoops: WNBA Playoffs: Coach of the Year Nicki Collen one win away from her first-ever WNBA Finals

In other news: Chicago Sky fires coach/GM Amber Stocks after 2 seasons Intrigued to see who they find.

Yup: Dawn Staley wants WNBA players to earn more, as long as ‘it doesn’t break the league’

Says Isaiah: If You Know, You Know

I was watching my sons, too, to see how they were feeling it. What was it like for them to be up close with some of the best female hoopers alive? Sue Bird was right in front of us, throwin’ behind-the-back passes. Sue’s a bonafide Seattle legend. Breanna Stewart, also on the Storm, was getting her shots up inside the key. I’m happy they got to see this year’s MVP up close. Diana Taurasi walked right by us — arguably the GOAT. Brittney Griner was dunking in layup lines. That made their jaws drop, I swear. Candace Parker, two-time MVP, was doing work. Maya Moore, four-time champ, was shooting that J. My boys got to slap hands with the players in the tunnel and get autographs, the whole thing.

Later on, sometime during the game, one of my sons said to me, “Dang, Dad — they are good. You weren’t lying.” I just smiled.

If you know, you know.

International

As you may have kenned, these playoffs will have an impact on USA Basketball’s prep for Tenerife. Lots of folks getting an opportunity to play-shine-strut their stuff, including:

SFGate: Sabrina Ionescu named to US women’s basketball roster

AP: Charles, Ogwumike headline US hoops training camp roster

Courant: Napheesa Collier, UConn Alums Invited To USA National Team Training Camp

We shall see: Canadian basketball’s future is now ’cause this is a problem: Nurse coming off excellent WNBA season that too few young girls got to watch

FIBA, Paul: Where will France finish in Tenerife, who will be their MVP and breakout Performer? Vote Now

Congrats: Asian Games: China break Korean hearts in women’s basketball thriller and China crowned women’s basketball champs at Asiad

College

WATN? Sydney Moss moves from award-winning women’s basketball playing career to coaching ranks

Sydney Moss’ heart was still in the sport of basketball, even if her knees weren’t. Win two national championships and three national Division III player of the year awards and it gets difficult to shake the sport all the way out of your system.

So the daughter of Pro Football Hall of Famer Randy Moss and Libby Offutt decided that, if her playing days were over, her coaching days needed to begin. And it hasn’t taken long for Moss to work her way up the coaching ladder.

Intrigued to see Committee Geeks dive into this: UK overrated? Underrated? NCAA alters its selection and seeding process

Arizona Daily Star: Five leading questions as UA enters 2018-19 sports season

Great leveraging: A’ja Wilson Is A Part Of The Kickoff To 2018

Drexel: Preview: women’s basketball set for great season

Hawkeye Sports: A Golden Opportunity

It took a few shots in the dark for University of Iowa women’s basketball seniors Hannah Stewart and >Megan Gustafson to help USA Team to a FISU America Games gold medal this summer.

Literally.

History: (Unless you’ve followed WBH and/or surveyed the WBH Timeline) The Nearly Forgotten History Of Basketball HOF Inductee Ora Washington

According to the Times, “Miss Washington” held the American Tennis Association’s singles title for 12 years — actually, it was eight. Her prowess on the basketball court wasn’t mentioned.

“They say she was an allround athlete who had speed and a smashing serve,” Charlie Mays, founder of the Black Athletes Hall of Fame told the Times. “But racial barriers were too strong to break during her day, so many of her achievements were never acknowledged.”

Mays says that based on bits and pieces of information he has received, Miss Washington is believed to be in her late 60s and was last known to be living in Philadelphia. He says he will keep Miss Washington’s awards in a glass case in his office until he can find her.

Len Lear knows where “Miss Washington” was that night.

“She could not be there, because she had died five years earlier,” Len says.

 

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