Archive for the ‘International’ Category

“Geez, Helen, you go all the way to Istanbul and you don’t make it to Topkapi Palace??!!”

To which I respond, “Of COURSE I did (albeit staggering a bit after post-gold medal game writing) and here’s the proof”:







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a litte US v. Spain recap via:

Yours truly and Lee: Women’s World Cup: USA sweeps to gold with 77-64 win over Spain 

The United States’ offense was at times elegant – as when Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) bulleted a court-long past to Seimone Augustus for one of her game-high assists – and at times muscular, as when Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx) ended the first quarter with a crowd-pleasing drive to the basket.

Women’s World Cup: Australia takes bronze in 74-44 rout of Turkish hosts

It was obvious that the Turkish team was disappointed and emotionally exhausted after their tournament run, but there was pride, too. “I’d like to congratulate the Australians on their win tonight,” said Turkish coach Ceyhun Yildizoglu. “They fought really hard to get this win, and it was a particularly powerful performance coming off their loss to the United States last night. For us it was just the opposite. We weren’t able to bounce back from the game last night (Turkey’s loss to Spain).”

Doug: Maya Moore leads U.S. to gold medal

Sue Bird added another gold medal to her already incredible U.S. basketball resume.

Bird became the most-decorated player in world championship history when the Americans won a second straight gold with a 77-64 victory over Spain on Sunday night.

Last year, Maya Moore “traveled” far into the future. The magic of professional make-up artists transformed her into “Betty Lou,” the old lady who shows she hasn’t lost her basketball mojo in a Pepsi Max commercial with similarly aged NBA players Kyrie Irving and Nate Robinson.

When Moore looked in the mirror and saw herself in artificial elderly form, her competitiveness came out.

“I hope I’m going to look better than that,” she said with a grin during this past WNBA season. “Both of my grandmothers are aging well, and my mom is, too. I’ve got some good genes.”

No one — least of all Team USA’s opponents at the FIBA World Championship for Women — will dispute that. The United States won the gold medal Sunday with a 77-64 victory over Spain, and Moore was named the tournament’s most valuable player.

Boti Nagy: Australia captain Penny Taylor named in All-Star Five after excellent World Championship form and Marianna Tolo stars as Opals hammer Turkey to secure third place at World Championships

 Brutal defensive pressure and brilliant offensive teamwork has won Australia a bronze medal at the FIBA Women’s World Championships after a 74-44 win over host nation Turkey.

Marianna Tolo led the assault with an Opals tournament-high of 21 points at 73 per cent, grabbing six rebounds and playing great defence in a complete performance which should secure avid WNBA interest for the France-based centre.

AAP: Opals finish in the medals at world championships

 The Australian women’s basketball team has saved it s best for last to win the bronze medal in style at the world championship.

The Opals, missing their two most influential players, completed an impressive campaign with a 30-point thumping of hosts Turkey in Sunday’s third-place playoff.

Today’s Zaman: Turkey loses bronze medal chance after Australia defeat

It’s been lovely to be in Istanbul and really fun to be in the arena for the World Championships. The praised heaped on the Turkish fans is well deserved.  I wish I could have seen more of the city, but that just means I can come back again. Until then, some final shots of the Blue Mosque.





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Can’t WAIT for the Turkey – Australia game. I know the place will be rockin’.

And, a little something something to peruse before the Spain – U.S. game: U.S. defeats Australia, 82-70; Faces Spain for gold

…it’s odd to hear Frank Sinatra filling the Turkish streets… off to the Tram-Ferrry-Metro-Taxi-Arena!

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and a little nerve-wracking.

Even with both teams missing important “bigs” (Cambage, Jackson, Fowles & Delle Donne) many thought the U.S. would cakewalk over the Australians. Obviously, the Opals didn’t get the message. Marianna Tolo help them execute their game plan beautifully – target BG, keep her out of the paint, and get her into foul trouble.

With Griner limited to 17 minutes and 6 points, the US offense had to re-discover what it was to play a half-court game, the defense had to step up, and Tina Charles had to release her inner beast. Fortunately for the Americans, all that happened and they moved into the gold-medal game with a less-comfortable than it looked 82-70 win.

They now face Spain, who overcame the fabulous Turkish crowd and a pesky Turkish team, 66-56.  For Turkey, both Lara Sanders (aka LaToya Pringle) and Nevriye Yilmaz were strong in the post, but the team simply didn’t have enough guard skill to pull out a win. Spain’s Sancho Lyttle was Yolanda Griffith-esque in the paint, and Alba Torrens (28pts, 6 rebounds, 3 assists) was... torrential and tormenting and terrific. I loved the moment in the fourth where she intercepted a pass, drove for the basket, and raced back on defense, giving her bench a screamed “Yeah!” on the way. Said Geno:

“Spain deserves to be in the championship game. They deserve to be there because they played well the whole tournament and because they beat the home team in front of a great crowd in a great game,” U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said. “They have earned their way to the game.”

Today’s game is on ESPN2, 2:15 EST. It will be an interesting match up, with both teams ranked in the the top 4 in FIBA’s points-fg%-rebounds-assists. Mechelle thinks Spain will be USA’s toughest test yet

So Sunday, the Spaniards will try to hand the United States its first loss in a world championship final game since the days when Cheryl Miller and Lynette Woodard were the Americans’ stars.

Of course, the Spaniards don’t need to hear about how history is against them Sunday, and likely don’t care, either. They can just look at the makeup of Team USA to know how difficult their task is, but it doesn’t diminish the fact that they are giddy with excitement about making the final for the first time in their nation’s history.

Said Maya:

I think we had some turnovers (the USA committed 19 turnovers and got just 2 steals, while Australia had 12 turnovers against 7 steals) that we didn’t have to. We want to do a better job of keeping them (their opponents) off the free-throw line. Just be a little smarter on defense. Just some communication errors, but those are all fixable.

On Spain:

They are great. They are a really passionate team. They’ve got talent at every position. They don’t quit. They’ve got some versatile post players. They can shoot the ball and pass the ball pretty well. We have to be disciplined in our job against them and make sure they don’t get anything extra.

I think two of the best teams are playing the Final. I think each team has proved that they are worthy of being in this game. It’s going to a game worthy of being the Final of a World Championship.

I’m looking forward to see how quickly Griner can translate the lessons of the Australian game onto the court.

While you’re waiting, check out game photos from thesixthwoman.

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You had a feeling this would happen… and it did. U.S. 94, France 72.

Griner and Charles combined to make 14 of their 18 shots as the U.S. dominated the paint, outscoring France 62-24.

“That was the plan,” point guard Sue Bird said. “We wanted to get stops on the defensive end, run as fast as we could and then get the ball inside. We were able to generate really good shots and there are enough players on this team if you get them their looks that they’re probably going to make them. Everyone took their shot.”

Wrote Mechelle:

It’s hard enough to contend with the Americans when they’re having just an average shooting game. When they are hitting practically every shot they even think about, just forget it.

The thing was it wasn’t just the inside game that worked for the Americans on Friday. It was everything. This was one of those rare times when if you shot 50 percent, you were the least accurate player on the team.

The U.S. quickly and efficiently cut their way through the French and swept into the semi finals of the World Championship. Of course there are nits to pick (those threes, Gruda’s goodness) but really, that’s only because Geno and his crew need something to pick at during this mornings walkthrough.

From USA Basketball

Shooting a USA World Championship record 70.7 percent from the field (41-58 FGs), the 2014 USA Basketball Women’s World Championship Team (4-0) took control of the game early in its 94-72 win over France (3-2) and never looked back to advance to the semifinals of the 2014 FIBA World Championship on Friday night at Fenerbahce Arena in Istanbul, Turkey.

“When you come out and shoot the ball the way we shot it in the first half, it’s kind of difficult for the other team to kind of keep pace,” said USA head coach Geno Auriemma (University of Connecticut). “We just have so many good offensive players. They’re a very physical team and they’re a very good defensive team, and they rely on their defense to keep them in games. But, the way we started the game and the way Tina (Charles) and Brittney (Griner) kind of set the tone early on. We were able to get them established in the lane. Then we just played off of that.

Next up for the US: the Australians, who entered the semi’s by defeating Canada 63-52. (Shout out to Mini Mi and her key threes)

“We expected a fight,” Australia coach Brendan Joyce said. “We weren’t surprised with that first quarter, we talked about the defensive end a bit, trying to reduce the scoring, the second quarter, things were going well, we tightened up a little bit.”

While I appreciate Sue Birds description of the Opals (“Even though they might not have Lauren Jackson and Elizabeth Cambage and whatever, they have an identity within themselves, and they really play to it.”), it’s hard to imagine the Aussies can give the US much of a match, especially with Griner and Charles hitting on all cylinders, but, stranger things have happened.

Of note, Australia hasn’t faced particularly stiff competition this tournament (CubaKorea, and Belarus), but they have used the games to regroup. We’ll see how well Marianna Tolo is prepared to step in for the missing bigs. Paulo Kennedy asks: Opals kick-starting something good?

While every team dreams of dethroning the undisputed queens of international basketball, few outfits hang with the USA for more than a half.

A big question for the Opals is how to approach the game?

Do they continue with the same aggressive approach and back their system? Or do they make adjustments to slow the game a little and take away some of the Americans’ strengths?

While some subtle adjustments are required in pool play, I’m a firm believer in sticking with what you’re best at, because doing something you’re not as good at is unlikely to deliver victory.

In the other semi, it will be Spain against the home crowd… and team, Turkey. For many, Spain has been the class of the opposition. It’s why Paul wonders, Can ‘basketball alchemist’ Mondelo work his magic?

The question of whether anybody can actually get anywhere toppling the all-conquering USA is a common one at any major tournament.

Traditionally, it has been Australia and Russia who have been the major challengers to their superiority, but now Spain look like they could assume the mantle of closest rivals.

After all, they have Lucas Mondeloat the helm – someone I am now labelling as a ‘basketball alchemist’ for his ability to produce success and primarily gold, for both club and country.

Put quite simply – I believe if anyone can, then Mondelo can.

Of course the play-caller is only one part of the Spanish asset-base, which looks to be magnificent at the moment.

It will be exciting to see them play in person. They handled China efficiently, 71-55, behind Sancho Lyttle’s 24 points and 7 rebounds. Really appreciate the Spanish press in attendance, btw.

The Turkey/Serbia game was a hoot to attend — though my ears are still ringing. The crowd was loud (I mean REALLY loud) and enthusiastic – living and dying with every basket. It was a back-and-forth game with UNC grad Latoya Pringle (Now Lara Sanders) putting on a gutty, fierce show. In the end, clutch free throws and some smooth shooting from Turkey’s “other” big, Nevriye Yilmazi, gave them the 62-61 victory.

There were scenes of jubilation for Turkey after overturning a double digit deficit to beat Serbia 62-61 in dramatic fashion and reach the Semi-Finals of the FIBA World Championship for Women.

Flat and uninspiring at both ends of the court when trailing 36-26, it had looked like the dreams of the host nation were in serious danger of being shattered.

But a remarkable turnaround ensured – no better highlighted by veteran legend Nevriye Yilmaz, who had been an eye-watering 0 of 14, but made her next three shots in a row to play a part in the revival.

“I am so happy with this victory and to beat a tough team like Serbia,” said Yilmaz afterwards.

It’s kinda nice to know that the refs are “on our side” when we play internationally: World Cup: Canada, France, Serbia, China make quarters; losers blame America

BTW: PHOTOS: Check out thesixthwoman’s tumblr for some sweet game photographs.

While we wait for tonight (and perhaps nap to stave off this wanna be cold) a little more of scenic Turkey, this time the Hagia Sophia:







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at the moment.)

Until then, some of the sights:


Easy Rider:


Fresh pressed pomegranate, anyone?




Yes, I know it’s cliché, but I don’t care. I bought a rug.



Live and learn: I’m staying in Sultanahmet – the Old City on the European side Istanbul. The World Championship is held on the Asian side of Istanbul. So, to get there yesterday took several steps. Literally and figuratively.

First I walked past the Blue Mosque…

and the Hagia Sophia…


and then a beautiful water source…





Then I took the tram from Cemberlitaş to Eminönü.


I then crossed the street to the Kadıköy ferry dock.


I then took the ferry to Karaköy.




IMG_0201Then I took a taxi to the Ülker Sports Arena, where Angel plays for Fenerbahçe.


I got to watch a little of the U.S. practice – always a joy. Always an education. Then I got a few moments with Angel, Maya and coach Auriemma. Hopefully a piece in anticipation of tonight’s game will be put a Fullcourt (time differences make things intriguing), but a snippet, un-game related:

Though his focus in on the upcoming game, Auriemma took a moment to reflect on sharing this tournament with his former player from Connecticut, Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), the only U.S player to compete in four World Championships.

“I don’t want to speak for her, but chances are this is her last World Championship,” said Auriemma. “She’s been incredibly consistent, she’s been a great leader through all this. She’s someone that everyone on the team respects. And when she left college, I wasn’t thinking, ‘Wow, I’m going to get a chance to coach her for another eight-year period.’ That’s just too unrealistic.

But to be put back in that space – to be back in that time – and to see how good she was…. What people sometimes forget about Sue was that she was always great in the absolute biggest games. Like, in her senior year, the whole season she was just moving along, keeping everybody in the right place at the right time, and then, in the NCAA tournament, boom! She has the ability to raise the level of her game to meet the occasion.

 So, whether it’s this year or in the Olympics, I am going to savor the minutes because I think she’s a once in a lifetime kind of player. I’m going to finish my coaching career feeling like the luckiest person because most people only get to coach a person for four years and here I got to coach her for eight years.”

For more about the balancing acts and the upcoming game, here’s Doug:

College players in Turkey focus on hoops, class

UConn star Breanna Stewart and freshman teammate Kia Nurse have had more than basketball to focus on at the women’s world championship. They also have to keep up with school work from nearly 5,000 miles away.

And  US women’s basketball team set to take on France

Maya Moore and her U.S. teammates know what’s at stake now. A loss and their world championship run would be over.

Standing in the way of another trip to the medal round is France, a team that handed the Americans a rare defeat on Sept. 21 in an exhibition game. The teams will meet again in the quarterfinals of the tournament Friday night.

And Mechelle: Why Team USA’s other MVP is key – Tina Charles leads U.S. women into quarters vs. France on Friday (ESPN3, 2:15 ET)

Maya Moore is the reigning WNBA MVP. Diana Taurasi was the WNBA Finals MVP. Sue Bird is playing in her record fourth FIBA World Championship. Breanna Stewart is trying to win a world championship gold medal before starting her quest for a third NCAA title. And then …

There’s that other U.S. national team player with UConn ties. You remember her, right? The 2012 WNBA MVP? Won a couple of NCAA championships in Storrs, Connecticut? Part of a major trade back in April?

We’re kidding, of course. Nobody has forgotten about New York Liberty center Tina Charles. But on a team where there are so many noteworthy stories, Charles can kind of blend into the woodwork, as it were. Or be taken for granted. That might be a better way to put it.

And here’s USA Basketball: USA Enters Medal Round At 2014 FIBA World Championship

After three decisive preliminary-round wins, the 2014 USA Basketball Women’s World Championship is on to the must-win medal round at the 2014 FIBA World Championship.

Interestingly, the USA, the No. 1 seed out of Group D, will meet at 9:15 p.m. (2:15 p.m. EDT, NBA TV and ESPN3/WatchESPN) on Oct. 3 the only team to which it has lost (76-72) thus far in 2014 – albeit in exhibition play – France (3-1), the No. 2 seed out of Group B and the winner of yesterday’s quarterfinal play-in game against Brazil.

About Les Bleus:

France advanced to the quarterfinals after winning its play-in game, 61-48 over Brazil. The team opened prelim- inary play with a narrow 50-48 loss to host Turkey, before closing out pool play with an 89-45 victory over Mozambique and a close 63-59 defeat of Canada.

In France’s four games in Turkey, the team has been led by forward Sandrine Gruda (15.0 ppg., 8.0 rpg.) and guard Celine Dumerc (5.8 ppg., 5.6 apg.), both of whom also suited up for France in the 2012 Olympics.

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so twiddling my thumbs… so:

Don’t get fooled by the score, Serbia brought it against the US… and then some.

From Mechelle (who, I think, is writing from the mid-west?): Usual suspects step up for Team USA – Stars from Mercury, Lynx step up as USA Basketball clinches Group D’s top seed

The Americans’ 94-74 victory essentially guarantees them a flawless record in Group D play, as they go against far-overmatched Angola in the third game Tuesday (ESPN3, 2:30 p.m. ET). The toughest test in group play was expected to be Serbia, and that proved to be the case. It took until the fourth quarter for the U.S. team to put away the win, and it was the Mercury-Lynx combination that led the way in preventing the upset.

Looks like Doug’s long form game articles can be found directly on the AP site: US Women Hold Off Serbia 94-74

With Serbia hanging around midway through the fourth quarter, Diana Taurasi and the U.S. women’s basketball team stepped up their play to finally pull away.

Taurasi scored 13 of her 20 points in the final period and the Americans beat Serbia 94-74 on Sunday in the world championship to clinch the top seed in Group D.

“It was a tough game,” Taurasi said. “Every possession was a battle. They made us work on defense. There are some things we probably got to clean up. These games are good for us. This team hasn’t been together very long. In the two weeks that we’ve been together, we’ve been battle-tested a couple of times, which in the long run will only help us.”

Some UConn fans have made the trip, and give their inside the stands report.

USA Basketball is on YouTube:

They’re also online: USA Battles To 94-74 Win Over Serbia

The 2014 USA Basketball Women’s World Championship Team (2-0) fought off a resilient Serbia (1-1) team that was within six points at the start of the fourth quarter before the USA pulled away for a 94-74 win in the 2014 FIBA World Championship on Sunday night at Abdi Ipekci Arena in Istanbul, Turkey.

From their fabulous “additional quotes” section:

Auriemma, on tonight’s game being so close through three quarters:

I think sometimes on the outside, people think you just show up, roll the ball out and we have 25 points right away. It doesn’t work that way. These are national teams. They have players that are good. They know how to make shots, they know how to play. They’re experienced. They play well together. So, it takes us time because this is our training camp. These games are kind of like our training camp. These last five or six games we played in Paris and here.

That’s a really, really good team that plays with a lot of heart, that plays with a lot of passion. I’m not surprised that the game was difficult. But, we have some amazing players on our team that when the game is to be won, they make winning plays.

This kid OH-gwu-MOO-kay is writing a blog:

From FIBA:

Canadian prospects benefit from learning curve

Veteran guard Kim Gaucher believes the future of the Canada backcourt is in safe hands despite suffering  first loss at the FIBA World Championship for Women.

Indeed Gaucher is hugely excited about what could follow, such is the current glut of emerging talent.

‘Nothing complicated, simple old school’ basketball keeps Aussies going

 Erin Phillips has been the live-wire of the Australian Opals squad, especially in the absence of Lauren Jackson and Liz Cambage.

The Phoenix Mercury shooting guard was once again at the vanguard of another Australian win on Sunday – the second in as many games – assuring the team of place in the next round.

“The way we are playing is very good. There’s a lot of positive energy,” said the 29-year-old, who had four points, five rebounds and handed out a game-high seven assists.

Leuchanka wanted to go down fighting rather than be found want of trying

 Belarus needed back-to-back three-pointers inside the final 30 seconds of their game against fiesty Cuba to cap a 12-0 run in the last three minutes to pull off a Houdini-esque 70-69 win on Sunday at the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women.

Leader Yelena Leuchanka had a beast of game with 20 points and a tournament-high 18 rebounds and played a expectedly pivotal role in that final outburst before Nadzeya Drozd and Katsiaryna Snytsina came up with the two makes from beyond the arc to ensure the 2010 FIBA World Championship for Women Semi-Finalists will advance from the Group Phase.

Turkey, USA seal Quarter-Final spots on Day 2

Turkey and the United States won for the second day in a row at the FIBA World Championship for Women to clinch first place in their respective groups and spots in the Quarter-Finals.

Spain and the Czech Republic also prevailed to set up a battle for Group A supremacy, and both Australia and Belarus won their games to set up a Group C showdown for first.

Vesela finds that loving feeling

Jana Vesela is simply loving being back in a Czech Republic vest and helping her nation post a flying start to the FIBA World Championship for Women.

The veteran forward had a very different experience last year, when her first outing at EuroBasket Women 2013 ended in tears as she was carried off to hospital in agony.

Shao Ting stands tall leading China’s transition

 Shao Ting indeed is the perfect representation of the transition phase in Chinese women’s basketball.

Shao Ting had not figured in any of the many youth national teams that China developed and was almost a nobody until a sterling performance in her maiden WCBA season with the Beijing Great Wall paved the way for her inclusion in Maher’s ‘clean up’ mission.

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Turkey's Işıl Alben after her game-winner over France

Turkey’s Işıl Alben after her game-winner over France

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And I kid… packing? I don’t leave until midnight on Sunday. I have PLENTY of time… ha. Besides, Turkey v. France is on! http://espn.go.com/watchespn/index?id=1964013

Some notes to get me ready for the US game:


FIBA world ranking: 8.
How China qualified: 2013 FIBA Asia Championship bronze medalist (4-3).
World Championship appearances: 8 (1983, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010).
World Championship overall record: 34-39 (.466). World Championship medals: 1 silver medal (1994), 1 bronze medal (1983).
Key players in 2013 FIBA Asia Championship: Nan Chen (12.7 ppg., 4.1 rpg.), Song Gao (13.7 ppg., 6.6 rpg.), Wen Lu (9.9 ppg., 2.9 rpg.)
USA vs. China at the World Championship: 4-0.
2012 Olympic finish: 6th place (3-3).

The team features just two athletes from China’s 2012 Olympic squad, which finished in sixth place with a 3-3 record. With several top veterans retiring, China’s team is young, but not without experience as eight of their players helped China capture the bronze medal at the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship to qualify for this year’s event.

China is being coached by international veteran Tom Maher, who coached Australia to its first Olympic medal with a bronze at the Atlanta Olympics and headed up Australia’s silver-medal finish in Sydney. Following that, he coached New Zealand to its best Olympic finish — eighth place — in Athens, headed up China’s fourth-place finish in Beijing, was hired to coach Great Britain in 2012 and then was rehired by China to lead its national team through the Rio Games. He also served a stint as head coach of the Washington Mystics in 2001.

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Dunno why it didn’t come up before, but: Recent events spice things up in Istanbul

Having made a strong case for Ankara being my preferred location for the Group Phase of the FIBA World Championship for Women, events over the weekend narrowed the gap.

Unfortunately it was bad news for Australia which potentially threw things open in Group C in Istanbul as they lost Liz Cambage to injury at the Paris tournament – something which is a crushing blow for the Opals and neutrals like myself.

The prospect of seeing a breath-taking talent like Cambage missing from the world stage for four years is a big blow for women’s basketball and, in the short term, for this competition. While Australia beat France without her as Marianna Tolo stepped up in the paint, this vital absence (along with Lauren Jackson) arguably gives more hope to Belarus and Cuba.

And, from FIBAEUROPE.com: Problems in the Paint Worry Belarus

Belarus face a tough task in repeating their superb run to the semi-finals of the FIBA World Championship for Women when they step out in Istanbul next week. 

It’s been an intense few years of distinct peaks and troughs for the national team and just when they had seemed to be back on an upward curve in the wake of a creditable fifth-place finish at EuroBasket Women 2013, they are now in danger of hitting another bump in the road.

Key absences are likely to seriously threaten their prospects of making another big splash on the global stage and that means expectations have to be re-aligned.

Euro Guns Ready to Fire on the World Stage

Six European teams are preparing to launch an assault on the FIBA World Championship for Women when the action tips-off in Ankara and Istanbul this weekend. 

And, there will be a real blockbuster for fans to enjoy in the capital as the host nation go up against fellow heavyweights France in Group B.

This will be a hugely important game for both teams, who know a victory will get them onto the front foot and stave off pressure – something particularly important for host nation Turkey.

A huge crowd is expected to support the local favourites, who will be looking to avenge their semi-final loss against Les Bleues at EuroBasket Women last summer.

Torrens Relishing her Turkish Return:

EuroLeague Women champion Alba Torrens is relishing a return to Turkey with the national team as Spain prepare to aim for successive podium finishes at the FIBA World Championship for Women

The Spanish ace famously led Galatasaray odeabank to their first EuroLeague Women title last season, as well as a first Turkish League Championship in more than a decade to cement herself as a legend with the TKBL juggernauts.

Having since made the switch to UMMC Ekaterinburg, Torrens is looking forward to heading back to the country she lived in recently.

“At the FIBA World Championship I’m going to play in front of Turkish fans again and I’m really excited about it,” she declared.

Sigh of Relief for Kulichova and Czechs:

When experienced Czech center Petra Kulichova went down in the final quarter of their last preparation game against USA, it looked like her FIBA World Championship for Women prospects were over. 

However, to the considerable relief of the 30-year-old, her team-mates and head coach, Lubor Blazek, the ankle injury she sustained was not as serious as first thought.

It had looked so bad when it happened that it seemed inevitable she would miss out.  Diana Taurasi was one of the first players to offer verbal support and a speedy recovery to Kulichova as she sat glumly waiting for the game to finish and for a full medical assessment to be undertaken.

Mandic Flies Flag for Rising Stars

When asked to name a rising star of the women’s game from Serbia, you could be forgiven for thinking immediately of Aleksandra Crvendakic or Dragana Stankovic.

After all, the duo have had standout careers at youth level and are preparing to play together for UE Sopron in EuroCup Women this season.

Or, you might throw Aleksandra Stanacev into the equation. A playmaker who is diminutive in physical stature, but plays with a big heart and with just as much talent – something that recently earned her a move to Liga Femenina.

However Sanja Mandic is now the name on everbody’s lips after the teenager was named on the Serbia senior roster for the FIBA World Championship for Women which tips-off on Saturday.

If you’re a twitter person, AP Doug’s at @DougFeinberg and Paul’s at @basketmedia365.

On paper, this looks like game of opening day…. v – going to be almost 10,000 fans.Bring the NOISE!

And look for the hashtag #Turkey2014.

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Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2014 — Hall the end of a long journey for Jazz Perazić

When Jasmina (Jazz) Perazić enters the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame this June, she will do so on the merits of her career as a Maryland Terrapin (’79-‘83). During her time in College Park, the six-foot guard led the program to three ACC Championships and the 1982 Final Four. Her 1,396 points ranks her 18th all-time in scoring for the Terps and she is one of only three women to have their jerseys retired by the University.

Quite the accomplishment for someone whose earliest basketball memories include coaches yelling, “What are you doing?”

And the rest of the series, in case you missed’em (two more still to be published – Lin Dunn and Charlotte West): Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2014: Yolanda Griffith – Perennial underdog arrives at pinnacle

Reflecting on her journey to the Hall of Game, Griffith said, “It is truly a great honor. I’m happy for the recognition. But every day I say I am blessed. I am blessed with how I turned out because of my parents and my brothers and sisters. I’m blessed because I’ve never taken anything for granted. I don’t want you to give me anything.  I want to earn it. That’s just how I was raised.” “But throughout my career playing basketball, I’ve had the right coaches that guided me in the right direction. Basketball’s just a huge part of my life, taking up a lot of time and focus. Trying to get my game better, realizing that there’s somebody out there that’s better than me. I was always the underdog, not getting the publicity. And, you know, I’m pretty much okay with that not happening — because people that know basketball know.”

Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2014: Mimi Senkowski Griffin — A love affair with the game

Griffin is not unaware that the role girls were expected to play in a Catholic school seemed contradictory to those they played on the court. “That’s the dichotomy of sport: allowing you to be what you weren’t able to be in school,” she reflected. “I think one of the reasons that young girls in Catholic schools loved basketball was it gave us a sense of identity. It was so great to find something that made you feel good about yourself and feel good about accomplishing something with others as a group. It cemented our self-esteem and,” she added with a laugh, “it was just the bomb.”

Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2014: Michelle Edwards — The Miracle of “Ice”

“When I first heard, I was like, ‘What?!’ Then I went online to see who else had been inducted — Lin [Dunn], Yolanda [Griffith] and Jazz [Perazic]….  I mean, Lin Dunn was my coach [with the Seattle Storm]! Then I thought about all the great players that have not gotten in. Then I started thinking back on my career asking myself, ‘Was I really that good?’ It blows my mind, when you really dissect it, because I’ve played with some great players.  And some great players came after me. I’m definitely humbled and feel blessed. I hope my teammates can come because I really want to thank them ….” Edwards took a deep breath and regrouped, as she looked ahead to next month’s formal induction ceremony. “I’m going to take it one day at a time and try my best to just take it all in.”

I ran out time and couldn’t do anything on the 1976 US Women’s Basketball team (the first to play in the Olympics), but I can pull up some old stuff I did.

In case you don’t remember, here’s the team:

Cindy Brogdon
Tennessee Buford, GA
Nancy Dunkle
California State Fullerton Fullerton La Habra, CA
Lusia Harris
Delta State Minter City, MS
Pat Head
Tennessee-Martin Ashland City, TN
Charlotte Lewis
Illinois State Peoria, IL
Nancy Lieberman
Far Rockaway H.S. Far Rockaway, NY
Gail Marquis
Queens College St. Albans, NY
Ann Meyers
UCLA La Habra, CA
Mary Anne O’Conner
Southern Connecticut State Fairfield, CT
Patricia Roberts
Tennessee Monroe, GA
Sue Rojcewicz
Southern Connecticut State Worcester, MA
Juliene Simpson
John F. Kennedy College Roselle Park, NJ
HEAD COACH: Billie Moore, Cal State University, Fullerton
ASSISTANT COACH: Sue Gunter, Stephen F. Austin University (TX)
MANAGER: Jeanne Rowlands, Northeastern Univ. (MA)
ATHLETIC TRAINER: Gail Weldon, Western Illinois University

In 1976, the US team had to qualify for the Olympics. As the USA Basketball site mentions: the USA finished in a distant eighth place at the 1975 FIBA World Championship. When the team traveled to the 1976 Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament held in Ontario, most “experts” gave them little chance to earn a berth to the Montreal Games. So, when they DID, they didn’t have a budget and the didn’t have a practice space. Famously, Bill Wall used his own American Express to cover expenses and Hunter Lowe (of Kodak All-American fame) stepped up and found space up in Rochester. Eventually, this “unexpected team” won a silver medal, falling to the powerhouse Soviets in the finals.

From the archives: Lucy Harris, who scored the first basket in the Olympics

The 6’3” Harris-Stewart is considered by many to be the prototypical modern center. Born February 10, 1955, in Minter City, Miss., she grew up watching her equally tall older sister win high school championships. “Most people don’t realize how organized [girls’] basketball was in Mississippi during that time,” she explained. “In my area, it was a money-drawing event.” “I used to love watching her play,” said Harris-Stewart of her sister. “She could really handle that ball. When I went to Amanda Elzy High School in Greenwood, we had the same coach, Conway Stewart. That was so awesome, to be able to play for someone who loved the game.” Harris-Stewart remembers coach Stewart talking about the game and keeping a cool head. “He talked to me a whole lot about keeping my composure and not to do things to be thrown out of a game. Because,” she admitted with a sly smile, “even though I was a shy person, I would get you back on the court.” 

A little Nancy Lieberman, Ann Meyers and 1970’s AAU basketball

 “If anyone’s telling you they were aware, they’re not telling you the truth,” said Nancy Lieberman, who competed with the AAU team the New York Chuckles in 1978. “It was basketball, and that’s what made it so pure. We didn’t know the politics, the dynamics. We didn’t know about Title IX, we didn’t know about AIAW. All we knew about was basketball. It was competitive. It was pure. People didn’t complain about playing time. Nobody was trying to get a commercial. Everybody was paid the same thing: nothing.” Carol Blazejowski, who played for the Allentown Crestettes, concurred. “I had just graduated from college (Montclair State), and I was playing in as many games as I could to stay in shape for the ’80 Olympics. It was just ‘get in the game.’ Once you graduated from college, where were you going to play? Hooking up with an AAU team was the ‘bridge,’ if you will. Either into extinction or, if you were pretty good, it was a holding place until the Olympics or USA Basketball geared up.”

A little USA Basketball history:

When the United States joined the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) as a member in 1934, it was the Amateur Athletic Union (a very different beast than the AAU of today) that FIBA first recognized as the organization responsible for USA teams in international competitions. While the AAU had been holding U.S. women’s basketball championships in since 1929, the 1953 World Championship marked the very first time a major international basketball competition was held for women. Until the early 1970′s, staff and players for those teams were drawn from AAU teams, sometimes known as Industrial teams, with names like Nashville Business CollegeMidland Jewelry, Raytown Piperettes and the Hutcherson Flying Queens. AAU All-Americans like Katherine Washington,Doris Rogers and Colleen Bowser competed under the direction of coaches like John HeadHarley Redin and Alberta Cox. ABAUSA, or the Amateur Basketball Association of the United States of America, emerged in 1974 after a 10-year struggle between the AAU and other U.S. basketball organizations for control of the USA’s international teams. With the recognition of ABAUSA by FIBA, international teams and coaches began to be drawn almost exclusively from the collegiate ranks. The first team fielded by ABAUSA was for the 1975 World Championships. Though coached by Cathy Rush of Immaculata College, it included none of Rush’sMighty Macs,” instead featuring such players as Lusia Harris,Nancy DunkleAnn Meyers and Pat Head (later Summitt). Choosing Rush as coach “really was a no-brainer,” admitted Bill Wall, Executive Director of ABAUSA from 1974-1992,Margaret Wade having retired and Cathy having just won three straight AIAW titles with Immaculata.”

From the old WHB site, 2009:

Ted first talked about Hunter on this blog in 2005, when he was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.In February of ’08, we wrote about the Hunter and his Kodak All-Americans when State Farm took over the AA sponsorship.Hunter died this past September, and Sherri Coale spoke to Low’s impact.

Recently, others offered their reflections on Hunter Low:

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

On meeting Hunter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How did he connect with women’s basketball?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Describe the man to somebody who never met him.

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

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

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

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

Pat Summitt, University of Tennessee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talk about Hunter’s “hidden” legacy.

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

Describe Hunter to people who’d never met him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Hunter stories do you have?

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

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

Talk about his legacy.

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

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

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Bus carrying Uni Gyor crashes, team’s manager and head coach dead (Updated)

Hungarian media is reporting that a bus that was carrying Hungarian club Uni Gyor to a preseason game at Sopron has crashed and there has been a fatality.

The crash was caused by a car that drove in to bus’s lane. In order to avoid a head on collision bus swerved to the right. While the vehicles did not collide head-on, the car still crashed in the bus.

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(Is that the laziest, over-used, faux adjective of the 20-teens or what!?!?!), it’s just that when I look at the Dream’s 10-1 record, I’m not impressed. Yes, Angel IS On Fire, but as I mentioned earlier, it’s July 9th (ESPN2, 8pm and, Hello .com, the link to Ticketscalper doesn’t work) that I have circled on my schedule. ’cause until then, I still have Chicago (they who stomped the Sparks without a dinged up Syl) and Minnesota (they who also stomped the Sparks, but tomorrow ought to be interesting)  in a very entertaining Finals.

San Antonio reeeeeeally needs to get their team healthy. As do the Fever.

Seattle reeeeeally has to think about who they want to take with the first pick. Though I would agree with this: KeyArena: the WNBA’s best venue

Okay, so maybe Corey’s seat is not so toasty any more. Ah, the taste of victory. And the arrival on court of an Aussie. And the help of NBA friends saying “What the frack are you running?” CT Post’s Kevin Duffy writes: Griner’s time coming, but Saturday belonged to Taurasi

In 2006, Taurasi averaged 25.3 points per contest, the first of her five scoring titles. The following year, she made her playoff debut, guiding the Mercury to the WNBA title. In doing so, she became the seventh player in history to capture championships at the collegiate, professional and Olympic level.

At the time, Griner was in her second year of organized basketball. And she was already the subject of her first Sports Illustrated article.

“(Taurasi) has seen and done it all,” Griner said before Saturday night’s game at Mohegan Sun. “It just makes it easier when you come in and have a leader like that on the court.”

It does, especially when the leader shoots fadeaways off one foot, hits cutters with no-look passes and dominates a pro game with a casual offensive flair you’d expect to see in pick-up.

Hey, Van and Mike are now tied!

Speaking of the (almost) past: From Patricia Babcock McGraw: Thompson’s long ride about to end

Daily vitamins have helped.

So has a healthy diet and a relentless fitness regimen.

But the seemingly ageless Tina Thompson is still 38, no matter how many times she denies herself fast-food French fries. In WNBA time, or by any standards for a professional athlete, that’s pretty old.

What hasn’t gotten old is Thompson’s game, which is why the announcement of her retirement at the end of this season is sad for the WNBA, even though, at the same time, it is completely understandable and somewhat expected.

Speaking of the immediate future, I’m sure tired of the “Three to See,” aren’t you? I mean, what GOOD is it doing? Fan Interest In Rookies Leads The WNBA To Unprecedented Viewership Numbers.

Oh. Never mind!

Speaking of “Oh, never mind,” John at the Courant mines familiar territory: WNBA Roster Size A Problem For Connecticut Sun and Opponents.

Yes, I realize it’s a money issue. (Do the math: 12 teams. $100,000 per team. Approx $1 million from ESPN. It doesn’t add up) And I guess you can’t find players on the road to help you (I mean, ’cause why would you organize this across the league? ’cause it would make too much sense?). But I’ve said this before and I’ve said it again: are you looking for bodies or for actual talent? ’cause there’s a reason the starters +1/2 play all the minutes: the pool of talent isn’t that deep.

If young (or medium young) players want to play in the W and get cut.. do they deserve to be dragged across the country, not playing, maybe not working on their game.. just because you need a body to practice against? Or, because the players want 24 more people to get jobs (therefore not putting the pressure on THEM to perform and survive?)? Or should they, just like officials do, pay for their own professional development and earn a place on the roster?

This is cool!” Staten Island Ballers girls shoot to donate 10,000 basketballs

“We’re hearing the average player doesn’t have a basketball,” said Pete Lisi Jr., owner of Staten Island Paramount, the league’s biggest sponsor. “They can’t play on their own. They can’t practice on their own. One of the missions of the organization is to distribute basketballs to the youth of Staten Island.”

Looking forward to next “$20 if you can name all the teams in the Conference” college basketball season? Notre Dame is: Balanced powers await Irish women

Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw has enjoyed the view of the Atlantic Coast Conference the past two seasons.
That view has been from the top of a ladder as McGraw was cutting down nets to celebrate the Irish advancing to the Final Four.
Seung Lee tries to stir up a little outrage, and then seems to agree with the number: Power Rankings: No. 5 women’s basketball

The fact that the Cal women’s basketball team, fresh off its first Final Four appearance, is only No. 5 in the power ranking is, personally, hogwash.

Upon further introspection, however, I do think the Bears landing No. 5 is fairer than it seems at face value for two reasons. First, it is just a testament to how successful 2013 was to Cal athletics as a whole. Second, the graduation of the seniors leaves the team thinner and more unknown, making it hard to gauge its potential.

Some coaching spots filled:

Katarski Named Seton Hill Women’s Basketball Head Coach

Packard Chosen to Lead TU Women’s Basketball Program (Those of us who follow coach Packard know she suffered a horrible loss recently. Hopefully this will be a healthy outlet for her and her family.)

Jessica Mannetti named Sacred Heart Women’s Basketball Head Coach

Another secured: Stewart shows faith in Heard with proposed raise

A little WATN? (Even though they added an “s” to her name, Yo can’t hide from us!) Lafayette hired ex-WNBA star Griffiths

Laura Keeley at the News Observer thinks Collegiate women’s basketball is at a crossroads

There was another notable conclusion from Ackerman’s work: there is a tremendous appetite for change.

And that thought was echoed locally.

“What’s happening, it’s really a welcome thing,” said Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie. “I don’t want it to stall in any way.”

The NCAA began to act on the Ackerman report this week. The NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee announced it will immediately allow regional host institutions to play on their home courts, which was among the suggestions contained in the report.

BTW: For Women’s Coaches, Time No Longer Freezes in Summer

Suzie McConnell-Serio, the new women’s basketball coach at Pittsburgh, was excited to get a jump on the season.

Because of a new N.C.A.A. rule, she does not have to wait until the fall to get a chance to work with her team. Coaches are now allowed to work out with their players for eight hours a week — including two on the court — if the athletes are enrolled in summer school or have met certain academic benchmarks.

The rule took effect for men last summer. In the past, teams could work out with coaches in the summer only if the team was taking a foreign trip.

In International news, ‘ware the Turks! Turkey’s ‘basket fairies’ clinch bronze medal at Eurobasket

Turkish women’s basketball confirmed expectations, as the national team won the bronze medal at the FIBA European Championships held in France, dominating Serbia 92-71 in yesterday’s game.

Go Guam! Guam finishes strong to win gold medal

Happy Trails To You? WNBA star open to visit Manila

WNBA guard Kara Lawson said the other day she’s agreeable to visit Manila someday and encourage girls to play basketball in showing by example how it can lead to a career.

From USA Basketball: ‘ware, World, the US Hoop(eristsa)s are coming! (USA vs Mali  – July 8, 2013 @ 12:30 pm ET) A little Shoni. A little Hooper. And some more: Hooper overcomes anxiety, set to play on World Games team

“She kind of just blended in with everybody else at the beginning,” Coale said. “That happens a lot of the time due to nerves. Kids just aren’t comfortable with the situation. But Jordan did assert herself more and more, and she had a really good last day. She was very aggressive and has been ever since.

“We knew she could really shoot it and she was versatile. At Oklahoma, we refer to her kind of player as a ‘long, tall shooter.’ She’s just been fantastic for us.”

Next up in Colorado? The U19ers.

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Check out the futurecas the USA U18 team faces the Dominican Republic at 1:15 pm est.(UPDATED with a better link. I hope.)

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From Dishin’ and Swishin’: Podcast: Can Phoenix & New York make a playoff run? Corey Gaines & Monique Ambers discuss their teams

From the Norwich Bulletin: Sun players pleased for teammates’ Olympic success

The jet lag may not be all that bad — it’s only a five-hour time difference between Connecticut and London —  but the hangover from winning the Olympic gold medal may be something that Tina Charles and Asjha Jones will have to overcome.

During the WNBA‘s Olympic break, which began July 14, the Sun have been doing their best to keep one of the league’s top motors revving by holding practices for their remaining nine players since just before the start of the London Games on July 27.
You can see her feet tapping inches away from the floor where they would rather be running.
Besides 36 minutes of the pre-Olympic WNBA season, Diana Taurasi has been on the wrong side of the thin black line that frames the Mercury’s home court. A hip-flexor strain and ankle problems have kept Taurasi from donning the only clothes she’d want to wear at Mercury games. Instead, she’s been relegated to cheering her team on from the sidelines in casual business attire.
She hasn’t been alone.
No, she hasn’t. Add in Phoenix’s mayor: Phoenix Mercury Dominate Then Break Mayor Greg Stanton’s Nose
Now, about that thing that just happened in London:
Kelli Anderson at SI: U.S. women did not generate buzz, but did generate fifth straight gold

Simply put, this group was a collection of low-maintenance, high-production gym rats, similar in talents the players who came before, but different. No player from the 1996 team that started this golden run is still playing. “That’s what makes the streak even more impressive,” said Bird the day before the gold-medal game. “It’s not the same group of people playing great together. It’s a different group every time. There are people without gold medals on this team. And then there are people who have them and want to keep that legacy going, to keep that history alive, take the torch, so to speak, from those who came before us and do well with it.”

Doug: A repeat in Rio? US women’s hoops team thinks it’s possible after winning Olympic gold

From Fox Sports Arizona (or is it also Doug’s?)  Unsure of legacy, Taurasi wants fourth gold

Diana Taurasi’s already impressive Olympic resume isn’t finished.The U.S. shooting guard has three gold medals and plans to be at the 2016 Rio Games looking to win a fourth.Still, the 30-year-old Taurasi isn’t ready to pencil herself into an all-time starting lineup of U.S. Olympic women’s basketball players that would undoubtedly include four-time gold medalists Lisa Leslie and Teresa Edwards.Others, though, say Taurasi belongs.

And, Down Under, the fight goes on: Lundy, Opals to push for end to gender discrimination

THE second-class treatment of Australia’s female Olympic basketballers was tip-of-the-iceberg evidence of the gender discrimination that still exists in sport, which the federal Sports Minister, Kate Lundy, leaves the London Games determined to rectify.

Her claim, on the eve of the closing ceremony, that ”basketball is not alone” came as the Opals captain and Australian team flag bearer Lauren Jackson, and her teammate Kristi Harrower, felt free to discuss the furore over the male and female teams’ different travel arrangements after they completed their competition with a bronze medal.

Most of Australia’s national women’s team flew to London in premium economy class while their male counterparts travelled – as a general rule – in business class.

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from Nate: On USA Coach Geno Auriemma Calling France’s Celine Dumerc ‘The Most Impactful Player’ In The 2012 Olympic Tournament

It’s always weird to focus on the loser in a sports contest, especially when the loser gets blown out 86-50 in a gold medal game by an opposing country that has won 41 straight games and 5 consecutive gold medals.

But it’s hard to disagree with USA head coach Geno Auriemma’s point that France was the team of the tournament – those weren’t just gracious words from a coach who has wins to spare. Years of preparation paid off for France and it showed not only in surprising most people by even getting to the gold medal game, but in their execution and their ability to even hang around with the U.S. as long as they did before a third quarter that showed the gap between the two teams.

Video from the .com: USA Women: The Road to Glory – Follow the US Women’s National Team’s all-access journey from training camp to winning Olympic gold in London

Paul has: Looking back on London

As the dust begins to settle on the Games, there’s no probably no better time to pick out my initial reflections from London 2012, a tournament that delivered the usual roller-coaster of emotion and plenty of thrilling action to feast upon. So, in no particular order;

The party hosts

It was interesting FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann was quoted as saying “I think the British men’s team didn’t let us down.” I actually thought the British public (and anybody else for that matter) weren’t let down by the GB women either.

Paul also wrote on a popular theme this Games: USA Olympic record lacks due respect

As the USA bids to land a simply stunning fifth straight gold medal and extend their somewhat mind-boggling 40-game Olympic winning streak, there’s little doubt they’ve not been handed the wider recognition or respect this magnificent record so thoroughly deserves.
Equally, their hard work and application at the defensive end here in London also needs to be highlighted. I readily put my hand up in shame at focusing far too heavily on their offensive capabilities heading into the tournament. It was probably never about this in reality– only doing the dirty work effectively and playing defense.

Did you see this from Doug: Olympics: U.S., then the rest: The Americans continue their domination of women’s basketball with a fifth straight gold medal.

Catchings said the Americans “just wanted to keep that legacy going.”

Edwards, a five-time Olympian, said no worry there.

“The legacy is real,” said Edwards, who had a front-row seat Saturday night. “What these kids have been doing is amazing. Without much time to practice. In the middle of the WNBA season. And they look good. It’s like the whole world knows who we are. I’m really proud of them.

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No, they don’t get the attention they deserve. And I don’t begrudge the other women’s teams who have been the media darlings, because this is about women athletes being a draw. Being water cooler fodder. Being on the front pages. Because we should be looking to lift all boats.

And yes, their success MAY be bad for the (international) game. But I dare you to suggest to the players that “one loss” would be “good” for women’s basketball (Clearly, it would have to be in Rio, since no one really paid attention to 2006).

And no, I doubt that I’ll read many articles and blogs posts bemoaning the women’s dominance and their 41-game win streak. The other nations have some decisions to make (look at what Great Britain has done since Atlanta). Brazil has a proud tradition in women’s basketball. So does Russia. So does Australia. And France did themselves beyond proud. But do you see a threat? Honestly – do you see a threat?

You had twelve of the best players the US had to offer – with three or four left State-side who could have easily been swapped in — and with *the oft referred to* 10 days of practice, Auriemma and the team figured out how to get it done. You almost felt like the pulled a name from the hat and say, “Ok, Angel, this game is yours” and the next day some said, “Hey, Dee, your turn.” You’d be hard-pressed to name an MVP. People played their roles, took their lumps, sat on the bench, moved into the starting rotation and while fans at home might have been gnashing and kvetching about minutes and such, the team just kept on winning.


The only thing that “worries” me is joy: does, can, will the ridiculous expectations people have for the team suck the joy out of the victory? What is the cost of that pressure — is the feeling relief or ecstasy.

Whatever my “concerns,” I’d bet every nickle I have that every player and coach wouldn’t trade a minute of it. They’re not interested in any “Redemption” campaign. They’ll take domination, thank you very much. Outside adulation? If it comes, it comes. If it doesn’t – they’re still the best basketball team in the world.

This team’s stats are impressive. This teams individual stats highlight its strength: balance across the board.

It takes vision and will to compete with the farm system that is US college basketball. And money. I know one of the semi-finalists in 2016. Seems to me the race for the other three spots is wide open.

As to the Gold medal game:

From USA Basketball: USA Women Capture Historic Fifth-Straight Olympic Gold Medal With 86-50 Win Over France

Photos and extra quotes.

On the competitiveness of women’s basketball to U.S. fans versus sports like soccer and gymnastics:
Yeah, I mean, you can’t apologize for being really good. The reason they don’t think there’s any competition is because they don’t have to be here playing. We know what the competition is, we know how good these other teams are, and we know how hard we have to work to make it look easy, because it’s not as easy as it looks. We do what we do in the United States and we take great pride in our basketball program. It doesn’t matter who the coach is, it doesn’t matter who the players are, there’s a certain level of expectation when you coach and play for USA Basketball. That expectation is to win, and we take it very seriously. Maybe in those other sports, there isn’t that same expectation in the United States that you’re going to win all the time, but we’re not going to start losing just to make them feel better back home

Full Court wraps up its coverage. From Clay: Team USA is too much for mere magic — and the French

From Lee: Australia’s veterans deliver, sealing bronze with 83-74 victory over Russia

From the redoubtable Doug and the Huffington Post: U.S. Women’s Basketball Defeats France For 5th Straight Olympic Gold Medal (nice PHOTOS)

The names change, not the results. Just call the U.S. women’s basketball team Olympic champion – again.

From ESPN, Jackie writes, Parker, U.S. make it look easy

It was Candace Parker’s turn to shine, and she made it look easy.

It wasn’t, although she knows no one believes her.

The most versatile player on the U.S. women’s basketball roster, who can play guard, forward and center, who at any time can completely dominate a game with her length, her skills, her basketball acumen and her fluid, graceful style, imposed her will on an overmatched France team on Saturday evening.

MV has some honest quick hits: Team USA wins fifth straight gold

Just like an early-round upset in the NCAA tournament sometimes creates a very anticlimactic matchup in a later round, France’s overtime victory against Australia in pool play ended up making for a snoozer of an Olympic gold-medal game in women’s basketball.

The only team that gave Team USA a legitimate scare was Australia — and the Aussies still lost their semifinal contest 86-73 to the Americans on Thursday. Against the French on Saturday, the Americans scored the same amount of points as they did in the semifinal, but were even more punishing on defense. (You also can say the Aussies had a couple more high-level weapons to counter the U.S. women than France did.)

From Mike Peden: Parker continues ‘golden streak’ for USA women

Parker’s 21 points and 11 rebounds off the bench not only confirmed to a national audience that she has completely healed from previous injuries, but led an expected 86-50 rout of France to give the United States their fifth consecutive gold medal in women’s basketball.

“I don’t remember who scored what points or how many rebounds you had. You just remember you won a gold medal and who was on your team,” said the forward from the Los Angeles Sparks.

Gasp! Bob Ryan from the Boston Globe (home of the “I’ve never watched a women’s basketball game” Danny (don’t let him find out you attended a game, Bob) writes: US women remain unbeatable – They bring home 5th straight gold medal

They’re so good at this it does make people forget that it takes a little bit of work.

“I don’t think people realize how difficult it is,” said point guard Sue Bird, whose personal gold medal collection now stands at three. “To be this consistent when you’re going against the other countries’ best. That’s very often overlooked.”

From the Chicago Tribune:

This marked the fifth straight gold medal for U.S. women’s basketball, a record for consecutive Olympic titles in a women’s team sport. The average margin of victory was a hair over 34 points. Concierges in the West End were tested more often during the Olympics than coach Geno Auriemma’s team.

“Michael Jordan used to say, ‘It’s possible to stumble on a championship once but it’s a lot harder to do it twice,” said Parker, the pride of Naperville Central. “For USA basketball to have it won it five times is really special.”

At USA Today, Joe Rexroad: Candace Parker leads team USA to gold medal

Little Lailaa Williams kept tugging and pushing and imploring her mother to pay attention to her. Finally, Candace Parker promised her 3-year-old daughter some candy if she’d be quiet for a few minutes and let mommy speak with the reporters.

“Candy at 11 o’clock,” Parker said while picking Lailaa up. “It’s gonna be a great night.”

It already had been, for Parker and a team that had been waiting for her to dominate like this.

Christine Brennan: Underappreciated U.S. women’s team dominates

While North Greenwich Arena was full Saturday night, the press tribune was not, and the same interview area that was swarming with journalists during the women’s gymnastics events held perhaps one-fifth of that crowd after the USA-France game.

So in addition to being one of the most impressive Olympic teams that the USA has fielded in any sport, you can make a case that it’s also the most underappreciated truly dominant team in U.S. Olympic history.

“That’s something we all kind of knew going into this,” U.S. guard Lindsay Whalen said. “To expect us to win gold just shows everything that everyone has done up to this point, all the hard work and effort that the coaches and everyone at USA Basketball has done. And it just shows the great talent that we have.”

Michael Farber at Sports Illustrated says, Americans’ path to gold proves gap is widening between U.S., world

At the last coronation in this city prior to Saturday night’s at an Olympic basketball arena, the royal outfit was embroidered with a Tudor rose, a Scottish thistle, a shamrock, a maple leaf, a silver fern and other symbols of the vast British Commonwealth. The year was 1953, which, coincidentally, also saw the introduction of a women’s world basketball championship. A team of presumably non-Gitanes-smoking Frenchwomen finished third, the only time France had won a medal in a truly major tournament until the thank-you-ma’am-may-I-have-another game — USA 86, France 50 — that upgraded Les Bleus to an Olympic silver.Anyway this time, royalty wore swooshes.

The basketball female Olympic gold medal is the crown jewel of an amazing Team USA made of women who have demonstrated not only immense discipline and achievements but also tenacity and – more importantly – a sense of team work and sportsmanship that discipline after discipline have helped Olympic Team USA improve its performance and standing in the world of sports competition.

On that theme: Sports Illustrated Ann Killion writes – Amid 40th anniversary of Title IX, women set new standard in London

For the first time Team USA included more women than men. And they’re coming home the richer for it. The U.S. women have won 58 medals to the men’s 45 and 29 gold medals compared to the men’s 17.

Women are succeeding in traditionally popular disciplines like gymnastics and swimming. And in new events like women’s boxing. American female gold medalists come in all shapes and sizes: diminutive Gabby Douglas, powerful Abby Wambach, sturdy Kayla Harrison, ripped Allyson Felix. They come in all personalities: bubbly Missy Franklin, controversial Hope Solo, fierce Serena Williams.

They are athletes to be celebrated. The evolution is that now — more so than in Atlanta — they are being lauded for their power and performance more than their social significance.

Ann, love the piece. Call me when male beach volleyball players play in briefs, the identifiers “men’s” and “women’s” are universally used (check SI’s side columns), and Sports Illustrated has swim suit edition featuring men.

And there’s no rest for the weary: Doug has this piece (picked up by the AJC): US women hoops already looking ahead to Rio

Over at NBC, Jack McCallum writes: Taurasi is heart, soul of world’s best team

Taurasi is six-feet, 165 pounds of raw energy, her face an ever-changing Rorschach, her game a combination of Showtime and Slowtime, for she can play either way, though she vastly prefers the former. Her game against France was typical Taurasi: 9 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds, three gorgeous pick-and-roll passes to Parker, skin-tight defense on France’s star, point guard Celine Dumerc, who was held to eight points and, most tellingly, one assist.

And all the while, Taurasi never stopped chattering. She is a right-hander who can go left, but she is definitely a right-brainer, a player of instinct and imagination.

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to a pretty glorious day, no?

Everyone knew the Aussies were going to be a handful. Most knew that it would come down to how the US handled the Opals size inside and how the Aussies matched up against the American depth and conditioning. A quick compare and contrast the halves via the box score tells an accurate tale. (And the free throw shooting shows how much pressure everyone felt – very Elite Eight-ish, no?)

Various folks (none, of course, from the NY Times. They haven’t even bothered to link Doug yet.) on the game:

From Doug: U.S. holds on, defeats Australia

Now this was something new. The U.S. women’s basketball team faced its first Olympic halftime deficit in 12 years on Thursday night as it tried to reach the gold medal game for the fifth straight time.

Not to worry.

From Full Court, Clay writes, Team USA finally wears down Australia, advances to gold medal game and Lee asks London 2012: Will semis loss to the U.S. be the end of an era for Australian women’s basketball?

Deep in the bowels of North Greenwich Arena, home to London 2012’s men’s and women’s basketball contests in their knockout stages, in a rabbit warren known as the mixed zone, one of the few areas in the Olympic venues where athletes and the media are permitted to interact, Kristi Harrower stood crying.

And not just a tear or two dripping down her sweaty cheeks, but full-fledged sobs — to the point where the Australian reporter standing next to me, as most of the press engulfed the handful of U.S. players who had made it past the broadcast access points, said he found himself choking up himself. As for myself, I felt so moved by Harrower’s uncensored emotion that I contemplated risking my Olympic credential by reaching across the metal barricade that separated us and giving her a hug. Then, like a coward, I thought better of it, and allowed the scene to continue, one lonely woman standing there crying, some six or so of the rest of us, journalists, Australian team handlers, and Olympic volunteers alike, awkwardly shuffling from foot to foot and wondering what to do.

Mechelle writes from her Room with a View of the television: Deeper, more fit USA tops Australia – Americans will play for their fifth consecutive gold medal after rallying in semifinals

Well, if you’ve watched the Americans throughout this Olympic tournament, you probably suspected their defense would kick in during the second half. And it did. Cambage didn’t score after halftime and didn’t even seem nearly as involved in the game.

From Jackie MacMullen: Taurasi, Team USA to play for gold – Americans rally from four-point halftime deficit for 86-73 semifinal victory

So it happened. Somebody finally punched the United States women’s basketball team squarely in the face.

And you know what? U.S. tri-captain Diana Taurasi kinda liked it. Not trailing by four points at halftime, exactly, but the fact this semifinal Olympic game against Australia was edgy, contested.

“Not the worst thing for us,” she suggested.

Over at the Examiner, it’s Mike Peden

Australia center Elizabeth Cambage had a powerful first half, but the United States had a more powerful overall game.

That effectively summed up the semifinal bout of the Olympic Games tournament between the two meccas of women’s basketball, with the United States continuing their dominance of the rivalry, winning 86-73 Thursday at North Greenwich Arena in London, England.

The Sporting News’s Sean Deveney:

It is as if Sue Bird knew what was coming.

Before Team USA settled in to face Australia in the semifinals at North Greenwich Arena, Bird warned that in her experience, the semifinal has been the toughest game the Americans have had to contend with. And, facing an Australia team they had dealt with in the gold-medal game in the three previous Olympics, there was little doubt the game would be difficult.

It did not disappoint.

Reuters’ Larry Fine: Olympics-Basketball-U.S. beat Australia, into women’s final

“We’ve played a lot of basketball in the last month with my team and I don’t think anybody’s played better against us than Australia did in that first half,” said U.S. coach Geno Auriemma. “That was an impressive display of basketball.”

K.C. Johnson (with a little drop-by from Pokey) at the Chicago Tribune says:

The U.S. women’s basketball team has won games with its talent and tenacity, its defense and depth.

On Thursday, in a taut semifinal far closer than the final score indicated, it used all those qualities and added one more: its leadership.

Ray McNulty at Scripps Howard News Service: U.S. women’s basketball team struggles, beats Australia

The world’s best women’s basketball team found itself in an unusual predicament as it walked off the floor Thursday midway through its Olympic semifinal game against Australia.

Behind on the scoreboard.

“I don’t think we’ve ever been down going into halftime,” U.S. forward Candace Parker said.

Jeff Zillgitt’s USA Today headline writer gets a little carried away: Moore carries U.S. women’s basketball team to final

It wasn’t Moore’s finest offensive performance. She made 4 of 10 shots and coach Geno Auriemma spoke from experience, having coached Moore for four seasons at UConn. At 23, she is the team’s youngest player.

“This is her first experience at the Olympics,” Auriemma said. “She kind of played the way she did when she was a freshman at Connecticut. Every time she touched it, she shot it. Today, it helped us and hurt us, and other players reminded her, ‘Hey.’ She was so hyped up because she wanted to play so well.”

William James from Reuters adds, “Amazing” Cambage make U.S. sweat for victory

Over at the Wall Street Journal: U.S. Women Squeak By Australians in Basketball

Kelli Anderson at Sports Illustrated writes:

There was no need to panic, really. The U.S. women’s basketball team had been in close Olympic matches before, and it had been down at the half before. It might take a little research to confirm that, but after the USA’s 86-73 semifinal victory over Australia on Thursday, U.S. co-captain Sue Bird insisted that it has happened, even recently.

“Everybody thinks we steam roll, but go look at previous Olympic box scores, that’s not always the case,” she said.

From Jim Morton at the NZ Newswire: Cambage has lessons to learn: Graf

Opals coach Carrie Graf hopes rising basketball star Liz Cambage learns her lessons after sparking a Twitter storm before Australia’s gold-medal dream ended on Thursday night.

Cambage had initially laughed off suggestions she took a swipe at swimmer Stephanie Rice over her purported fling with married US basketballer Kobe Bryant in the lead up to the 86-73 semi-final loss to US. (Oiy vey)

Some fun shots of the game at the Sacto Bee.

From Roy Ward and the Greater Dandenong Weekly: London 2012: Cambage and Rangers stars do Aussies proud against US

From the busy folks at USA Basketball: USA Women Rally Past Australia 86-73 To Advance To Gold Medal Game. They also have post-game quotes and photos. From Augustus:

On the team’s second half effort:
When Sue Bird has to yell at you about something it’s a problem. I think everybody took it personally, the way we defended in the first half. It was very disappointing to see Cambage get easy shots like she did. So they came out and played awesome and the second group just took it upon themselves to be a little more aggressive and put the pressure on Australia early.

By virtue of their 17-point win over Russia, les Rouge, Blanc et Bleu will face Les Bleus

Nobody talks about us. We don’t exist in the Olympic Village,” said French coach Pierre Vincent. “The only way to exist is to win. I told the girls in the locker room, if we win, we will exist.”

Yah, you predicted that final. Not.

From Doug:

France just doesn’t want the Olympic party to end.

Singing and dancing their way around the court after knocking off another women’s basketball power, France advanced to its first gold medal game with a 81-64 victory over Russia on Thursday.

Edwige Lawson-Wade scored 18 points and Emilie Gomis added 15 points for France, which will play the U.S. on Saturday in a matchup of the only two unbeaten teams in the tournament.

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Seimone Augustus Talks Same-Sex Marriage on ESPN’s ‘Outside the Lines’

If only men’s and women’s baskeball coaches would step up and match her courage.

The Blue Raiders do a little Q&A with Alysha Clark: Catching up with WNBA player and former All-American

WATN? Carla McGhee. Working with the Wolf Pack.

Speaking of Olympians: Hot Italian hosts Ruthie Bolton book-signing this Saturday

The Star Tribune is counting down the best Twin Cities personnel moves. Guess which one is #6.
From K.C. Johnson at the LA Times: U.S. women’s basketball wants to preserve record
“We know we have a standard to uphold, and [we want to] honor the past Olympians and be role models for the future ones,” Candace Parker said. “We want to continue to play the way we were brought up in the USA basketball system. “I know that I have not won the four golds. For people to say this is our streak, no. This is USA Basketball’s streak. We’re just trying not to be the people that end that streak. I want a second gold medal. There are people that want a third. And some are looking for their first. So all of us are fighting for something in our own way.”
Yes, tweets Doug, that was Ohno hanging with the team.
From the Age: Jackson oblivious to historic feat while clash with US looms

From the Sporting News: London 2012 basketball: U.S. women face Australia, a familiar foe, a round earlier than usual

Matt Moore at CBS Sports writes: Basketball: Team USA makes its bid to begin discussions about greatest ever

Over at Forbes: U.S. Women’s Basketball Shoots for the Gold

The Bleacher Report (now owned by the incompetents who incompetently run wnba.com) writes: USA Olympic Women’s Basketball Team: Amazing Size and Speed Will Bring US Gold

Hmmm… I’m detecting a theme. From the Indy Star’s Bob Kravitz: Bob Kravitz: The real Dream Team in these Olympics are the U.S. women

“This was a great game,” said Catchings, who is averaging 19 minutes a game, 6.3 points and 4.3 rebounds in this tournament. She had a typical line Tuesday: Nine points, six rebounds, two assists and four steals in just over 20 minutes. “But we can play better than that.”

Speaking for every other women’s team that remains on the world stage: Gulp.

Debbie and Beth are doing some casting of the pod: Here they speak with Tina Charles.  Here they have Catch and Maya.

When NBC writers write stuff like this (U.S. women deserve more hype), I wonder what they say to their bosses.

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Canada. Their defense was ridiculous.

The defense was stifling, even suffocating at times.

The United States women put on a clinic Tuesday, forcing the Canadians to take bad shots or not allowing them to shoot at all. The Americans, who cruised into the semifinals of the Olympic basketball tournament with a 91-48 rout, harassed Canada into three shotclock violations in the first seven minutes.

‘‘It’s one thing to miss a shot, but to not be able to get a shot off says a lot about your defense,’’ US coach Geno Auriemma said.

From USA Basketball, a couple of great post-game quotes from Geno:

On the relationship between the United States and Canada after last night’s soccer game and today’s basketball game:

Well, I’m sure the Brits, having two of their former colonies playing against each other, were hoping the roof would fall in and we’d all lose.

On knowing your team only becomes a huge story if you lose being a sign of respect to the level of dominance the women’s team has achieved:

We played a game for the ages against China, in terms of how well we played and executed, and somebody left a USA Today international lying around, and I picked it up to read about the Olympics, and there wasn’t one line or one sentence written about that game the next day. Not one. But, the top 10 preseason college football poll was in there, so that was really good, because I’m a college football fan. That goes back to what I said earlier. I think we have the mindset that we really don’t care. We’re way past that. There are no feminists on my team. We’re not running around burning our bras trying to make people believe in our team. I would burn mine, because it doesn’t fit like it used to. We just play basketball. And whether anybody cares or writes anything about it, there’s nothing we can do about it. We’re not in the PR business. We’re in the basketball business. That’s what we do. And, we’re pretty damn good at it.

Writes Jackie MacMullan: U.S. women are real Dream Team

But Auriemma said his group has steered clear of setting any side agendas aside from the obvious gold medal.

“If we win that, all the other stuff takes care of itself,” explained point guard Sue Bird.

That doesn’t mean others haven’t tried to come up with a catchy slogan for the U.S. women.

“Someone put shirts in our rooms that said ‘Road to Respect,’ ” Auriemma said. “I thought that was kind of dumb. Sue Bird has won two gold medals, two WNBA championships, a million championships in Europe, world championships for the U.S., and a couple of national championships with Connecticut.

“If they don’t respect her by now, then screw them.”

From Voice of America: US Olympic Women’s Basketball Team Dominating in London (and prepping for Australia)

From somewhere not in London, Mechelle writes: Aussies face tough semifinal task

Short of somehow being able to protect Penny Taylor from an ACL injury earlier this year, Australian star Lauren Jackson has done everything she can to try to win Olympic basketball gold.

Rebecca Lobo’s hubby, Steve Rushin, writes for SI:Finding a long forgotten gold medal and getting chills all over again

But the kids’ Olympic spirit was most evident when they were racing down the upstairs hallway, or racing scooters down the driveway, or fighting to be first in the car — their usual taunts of, “I won, you lost” replaced by Olympian taunts of, “I won gold, you won silver.”

“Where’s your gold medal?” our 5-year-old daughter asked her mother after one of these races.

“In a bank,” she replied. And then, after a pause: “At least I think it is.”

The kids had never seen her gold medal, I’d never seen her gold medal, and my wife, Rebecca Lobo, hadn’t seen her own gold medal in 16 years, since a few days after she’d won it in Atlanta. Now, she wondered if it really was still in that safe deposit box, for which she hadn’t seen a bill in ages. What if the bank lost her forwarding address, and auctioned off the box, perhaps to one of the guys on Storage Wars? (I pictured Barry Weiss holding it in those skeleton-gloved hands of his.)

Also at SI, Kelli Anderson writes: U.S. must take down Aussies before playing for fifth straight gold medal

The NY Times finds some space for the women’s team: U.S. Coach Keeps Talking, and His Team Keeps Winning
The United States women’s basketball team battered another overmatched opponent Tuesday. Afterward, Geno Auriemma talked the way only Geno Auriemma can.
He described his coaching style in these Olympics as “more British,” and by that he meant calmer, more understated. He called the T-shirt someone left in his room recently, the one with the “Road to Respect” slogan, “kind of dumb.”
Doug previews tomorrow’s Aussie/US game: US-Australia women hoop teams square off in semis

Even though they have had their way with Australia, the Americans are wary of what’s at stake.

“I think the semifinal game for whatever reason is sometimes harder,” U.S. point guard Sue Bird said. “They’ve been even more competitive than some of our gold medal games. This point the four teams left are very good teams. It’s no surprise that these four teams are in this situation. Everyone’s trying to get the chance to win a gold medal.”

Make sure you get out of work on time or take a late, long lunch: game’s at 5:12EST – NOTE: Or does ET mean English Time? Looks like it: ESPN has the game listed as NOON EST. I know when I’m takin’ lunch!

At Full Court, Clay has his preview: Can Australia finally beat Team USA? It could happen and adds, for the 9pmEST game, No tanking this time — Russia and France are playing for a shot at gold.

From Lee: Russia squeaked out a win over Turkey

“It was our goal not to match up with the USA in the quarterfinal or semifinal. We have done our best in the group stages to make sure we didn’t match up with them early. It makes it easier but it’s going to be a battle regardless of who we face. I don’t know which one [the United States or its semifinal opponent Australia] I would choose,” said Russia’s Anna Petrakova.

And, it’s official: Lauren Jackson becomes all-time women’s Olympic high scorer as Australia wears down China to advance

So often the focus is on the stars, but even though Liz Cambage (Tulsa Shock) scored a game-high 17 points for Australia, the reason the Opals beat China, 75-60, in the quarterfinals of the London 2012 Olympic competition in women’s basketball today wasn’t the 6-8 20-year-old sensation, nor even the all-around play or record-breaking scoring of superstar Lauren Jackson (Seattle Storm). The real reason for the win was the depth of Australian roster.

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Get a bunch of scrubs to play a quarter against the USA women just before they start their game against Canada, and everything will be just fine. (Nice to see the DFP getting the route/rout difference)

’cause, dang, they start slow! BUT, this time their last three quarters were beautiful. And the records were hard earned.

“Sometimes you play a game and things are off a little bit,’’ Taurasi said. “Today, even in the first quarter when they hung in there and were playing really well, I felt like we were playing a little bit better and it carried over into the 40 minutes.’’

The quarters are now set. Next up for the US, archery… I mean, Canada. Clay at Full Court has a preview:

At this point, it is traditional for the sports journalist to settle back, assemble information, cogitate thoroughly, and then deliver a thoughtful analysis of the next round of competition.

That is a wonderful theory, but as is often the case, some annoying facts are going to get in the way. Consider:

1) Of the eight teams left in the women’s basketball quarterfinals, two stand out. The United States, the heavy favorite, is one, and Canada, the plucky over-achiever, is the other. On top of that, those two play each other in Tuesday’s quarterfinals, which means they don’t really factor into the discussion.

2) The six remaining teams are all talented, competent international teams. Two will win medals, very likely (only a shocking upset or two of the U.S. would allow three on the podium), and only those two will consider the Olympics a success.

So what do coaches need to do to maximize their chances of being one of the lucky two?

Doug writes: Time for Olympic vets to lead US women’s hoop team and this US women’s hoops team looks to raise level of play and this Moore: US hoop star wants to be like ‘Meek’

Side note: Opals, Boomers provide spark for game Down Under

I guess it’s too early to ask where the players will be sitting when they fly home?

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purchase USA Women’s Basketball jerseys: Olympic women’s basketball ratings records surge in viewership

On television, NBC is reporting it had 11.4 million viewers for the USA Women’s Basketball opener against Croatia on July 28, an increase of +96 percent when compared to the two game average on NBC in 2008. The game, which the Americans won 81-56, peaked with 12.3 million viewers during the first quarter. The Croatians only trailed 31-28 at that point.

Jayzus! Imagine if, say, 1% of those viewers purchased a USA Women’s Basketball jersey. Just THINK of the attention that might draw to the women’s game. That would be absolutely horrible (David Stern, you who complain to the NY Times about their lack of coverage of the women’s team and yet let the “jersey-free Olympics” debacle contiue.)

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(Hey, it’s Friday — we all need a bad pun or two) I’m sure you read Doug’s preview:US women’s hoops team faces Czech Republic next

The rematch of the 2010 Worlds Championship will not be on NBC, but MSNBC.

Oh, dear, what on EARTH have Jo and company started? Women’s basketball catching fire with British fans (Hopefully there are not jerseys to be purchased)

While the venue, like most others in the London Games, has had its share of empty seats, it would be tough to tell from noise the crowd generates. Each session in the 12,000-seat arena is averaging just over 8,500 fans.

“It’s been awesome to see every single game, the energy, not just that the place is filled, but there is a great appreciation for women’s basketball,” said U.S. assistant coach Doug Bruno, who has seen the crowds while scouting the Americans’ future opponents. “The crowd is really into it. Growing this game is a process we’re working on back home, it’s not a quick process but it’s something everyone needs to work on.”

On the “local” level – a counter voice to Clay: Olympic gold could bring fans to WNBA

For basketball junkies, these Olympics provide an even greater opportunity: the chance to see international players compete in an accessible and clearly broadcast form. The Lynx currently own the draft rights to Rachel Jarry of Australia, Nika Baric of Slovenia and Damiris Dantas of Brazil, and these games are the best chance for fans to get a taste of what might be to come in the Lynx’s future.

A little WATN? with Ruthie Bolton: Writin’ books:Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist shares her ‘Ride of a Lifetime’

Speakin’ of reading: You can find the words of longtime WHB contributor Stephen Burt here – We Can Be Heroes: Poetry at the Olympics

What do these Olympic women — and the women’s side more generally — add to such accounts of poems and hoops? We might say they put poetry back on the ground: they remind us that the kind of effort that makes poems memorable, and makes elite games winnable, involves something that by its nature has to be shared. For poets it’s language, a set of expectations, a history of forms, a context of usage; for women’s hoops it’s the basketball itself, as well as the game plan, on offense and defense, and boards. People who watch the men but not the women like to talk about dunks, individual shows of strength; the woman best known for dunking, Brittney Griner, is the best U.S. player not in London, and women’s hoops — with or without Griner, even at its highest levels — generally takes place on the ground. The women’s game, more than the men’s, is a game about teamwork, shared defense, picks and thread-the-needle assists; it’s about making the right number of passes, moving the ball inside, and perhaps back out.

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Now for something completely different: WNBA star Swin Cash and Brian Davies argue over which is better, the USA Men’s Basketball team or the Women’s. Baron Davis stars as British rock star Brian Davies, breaking down the Olympics as you’ve never seen before.

This from the Connecticut Sun: Checking In From London – Asjha Jones and Tina Charles took a few minutes out from representing the United States in London to answer a few questions about their experience so far.

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I mean, sheesh, if there were, someone might actually BUY an Angel jersey and, you know, wear it around, promoting the game and then, you know, people might actually get to know about US women’s basketball. Wouldn’t want that to happen.

I mean, LOOK at what’s happening in the UK with their women’s soccer team: Once banned, women’s soccer thriving at Olympics

The same historic venues that kept women off the field are seeing support ranging from decent to robust, topped by the 70,584 that watched Kelly Smith and Britain beat Brazil 1-0 at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday night, a record British crowd and the third-largest to watch a women’s game anywhere in the world.

“I think we’re breaking boundaries,” British forward Eniola Aluko said. “And the people who are in control of the game can recognize now that women’s football is essentially a sport. So get more people out to see us like this and it will grow.”

Wasn’t it better in the olden days?
In 1921, England’s Football Associationbanned women from playing soccer on Football League grounds because the game was deemed “quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged.”

In the US, two years later:
The WDNAAF holds its first conference. It attacks competitive athletics, especially basketball as being unhealthy and inappropriate. Concern that women’s scholastic athletics will begin to resemble men’s (quasi-professional, corrupt, promoting betting) they promote a “Sports for Sports sake” philosophy.
I appreciate how retro USA Basketball and their marketing partners are, don’t you?

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engine, it’s clear this team will be cookin’ with gas – ’cause the “second” team is rockin’ the house.

It’s likely “Las Segundas”  will eventually have their own struggles, and that the Bird-Parker (ooo, Jazz!) – Taurasi- Charles (uniform malfunction aside) and the (still hobbled)-Fowles quintet will find their rhythm, but whoever they put on the court, the US is a damn tough out. There’s just no drop off. Writes Doug: Depth leads U.S. women’s basketball team past Turkey

Coming off the bench is a new role for McCoughtry, who has started for almost her entire career since high school. It’s a role she thrives in.

“Honestly not starting has been the best thing for my career,” she said. “I’ve gained discipline and I think before I didn’t have the discipline. This took my game to another level.”

From USA Basketball: USA Women Remain Unbeaten With 89-58 Rout of Turkey the box and extra quotes.

The Baltimore Brew is proud: Another Baltimore Olympian to cheer for: Angel McCoughtry – A member of the 2012 U.S. women’s basketball team, she honed her skills at a city rec center

The other games: The Czech Republic, the US’s next opponent, finally got a win, taking down Croatia 89-70. Check out Lee’s discussion of why

with 1.6 seconds left in the game, the score stood at 89-70 in favor of the Czechs, when Croatia’s Anna Lelas turned the ball over on a traveling violation. But instead of simply inbounding and allowing time to expire, Czech coach Lubor Blazek called time out, and the television cameras that are ubiquitous in Olympic arenas showed him in the huddle drawing up a final play.

China downed Angola, 76-52.

It certainly ain’t pretty — and I’ve got to believe some Aussie fans are pulling out their hair, even if LJ is amongst the scoringest (all hail Janeth) — but the Opals managed to dispatch Brazil, 67-61. As for Brazilian fans? Something’s got to change…

Similar score — and the Brits must be so proud, even in their lossRussia 67, UK 61.

France squeaked by Canada, 64-60.

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Inside the Rings: A Giant Leap for Women, but Hurdles Remain

During Friday’s opening ceremony, Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee, drew loud and sustained applause when he said: “For the first time in Olympic history, all the participating teams will have female athletes. This is a major boost for gender equality.”

It is true that women have come light-years from the first modern Games, held in Athens in 1896, when their presence was welcomed only as spectators. Women, too, have made significant gains even since the Atlanta Games in 1996, when 26 nations did not send female athletes.

Yet the fight for true equality is far from being won.

Something Jere’ doesn’t mention is coverage. Apparently David Stern asked the Times folks if they were going to cover the women.

I don’t believe he got an answer.

So, I don’t mind repeating myself: In case you’re inspired to do something about the missing coverage, twitter is, you know, very public. Since I can’t pick on EVERY news outlet, I’ll pick on my local NYTimes folks. Maybe the hashtag could be NYTimesOlympicFail?

@LondonLive: Continuous coverage of the #London2012 Olympics by New York Times reporters and editors.

@LondonLive: Hey, LondonLive Was wondering if you knew the US had a women’s national team in basketball. They’re pretty good, what with them going for their 5th gold. What do they need to do to get coverage?

@nytbishop: New York Times general assignment sports reporter.

@nytbishop: Hey Greg. Impressed with the number of words you’re writing about the men’s national team. Is there a rule new at the Times that you can’t write about the women? Just wondering.

Rob Mahoney @RobMahoney: I write basketball things at basketball places. The New York Times. ESPN TrueHoop Network. NBA Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. NBC Sports’ ProBasketballTalk.

@RobMahoney: Hey Rob. I see you write “basketball things at basketball places.” Did you know that there are some basketball things happening that include women? Might want to check them out. They’re called the US National Team

About the basketball (which is on-going and very interesting!) The US plays Angola today. Viewing info from RebKell:

5:15 PM ET
TV: NBC Specialty Channel – Basketball

Online video for cable subscribers:

Alternate online video:


Live stats:
http://london2012.fiba.com/extSTATIC/fiba-live/?event=6233 (scroll down to game #15)


Learn a little about the Angolan team at Full Court. In case you missed Lee’s July 19th preview: London 2012: Angola — Just happy to be there

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US women’s hoops rookies are experienced veterans

Referring to the five newcomers on the US women’s Olympic basketball team as rookies is a bit misleading.

Sue Bird actually finds it amusing.

“Lindsay Whalen and Asjha Jones are considered rookies, that’s pretty comical,” the American point guard said. “In terms of Olympic experience, it’s new for them. They’ll enjoy it the same way we did the first time.

“But they’ve faced almost everyone we’ll be playing against.”

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of covering the USA Women’s team than ESPN.

Here’s a story on one of my favorite Olympians: Cut from Team in 2010, Augustus Back to Claim Second Gold

Even though I thought it was a long shot and maybe a lot of other people thought it was a long shot for me to make this team, I just kept my focus,” she said. “Coach Auriemma and his coaching staff did a great job of finding great motivating words to help me push forward.”

“I think over the last two years she’s worked herself back into the team and has overcome more than any other player that we have,” said Auriemma. “I feel a strong sense of commitment and obligation to her to kind of reward her for how hard she has worked. I’m really, really proud of her.”

Here’s a video put together by the NBA/WNBA crew.

Rich Elliot captured a little of Auriemma’s Chat About The Olympics On WTIC-AM 1080

Q: Is there any team in your group that you are concerned with more than any other?

A: “In the end, the teams that everyone has been talking about has been the U.S. and Australia and Russia and the Czech Republic. The difference in international basketball is every team has experienced players that have played so much basketball together and against each other to the point where there’s no secrets, there’s no surprises. And that’s why I think the games are always so competitive, for the most part, because there really isn’t any situation where a real veteran team is coming up against a young team, an inexperienced team or a team that doesn’t have enough scorers to make life miserable for you. So lots of teams are really good. But I think those teams are probably the ones that are going to get the most attention.’’

From Brennan at USA Today: Finally: It’s all about the women at the London Olympics

It took 116 years, but the Olympic Games will finally enter the 20th century before too much more of the 21st goes by.

Nearly all the 205 nations marching into Friday’s opening ceremony will have at least one woman competing. It required a lot of arm-twisting for the ultimate holdout, Saudi Arabia, to relent, but even the world’s most chauvinistic Olympic nation has fallen in line, sending two women — a judo player and 800-meter runner — to compete in London.

Perhaps it was the peer pressure from Brunei and Qatar.

Those most traditional old boys’ clubs caved this time, too, giving International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge a clear victory in what has been an extremely uneven journey to some semblance of gender equity at an event that once was as discriminatory as Augusta National Golf Club.

I just want to add side note here: At the 2011 Final Four, Brennan was part of a panel, and she mentioned how USA Today had turned off comments on her articles because the majority of them were homophobic, misogynistic men – women and male allies simply weren’t interested in (or were unwilling to) posting. The comments are ON for this article. Just saying.

Oh, and another side note: From Christine’s article

To be fair, we’re talking about a long time ago, 1896 to be exact, when Baron Pierre de Coubertin founded the modern Olympics, forbidding women because, as he reasoned, it would be “impractical, uninteresting, unaesthetic and incorrect.”

Guess whose grandma and great-aunt (Louise and Nancy Van Voorhees) were part of a group of women who traveled to the Aug. 20, 1922, competition at Pershing Stadium in Paris: The first international track meet for women.

Federation Sportive Feminine Internationale (FSFI) of France after the International Olympic Committee refused to include women’s track and field events in the 1920 Olympic Games. The Meet was commonly referred to in that day as the Women’s Olympic Games. The U.S. team placed second to the more experienced team from Great Britain.

My grandmother died when I was 11, so even though I’d heard my mom talk about Grammy “being in the Olympics,” I never got to speak with her about her experiences. In fact, in putting the wbball timeline together, I realized she COULDN’T have been in “the” Olympics — because women weren’t allowed. But I did start googling her name every now and then — which produced the linked page (started by a librarian at Columbia College who’d heard that one of the female professors had “been in the Olympics.” Ah, the story of women’s history…) and put the truth to the family stories.

This does explain why my mom was – and is — such a beautiful athlete. I, unfortunately, inherited neither Grammy’s skill nor her height. But I’m thinking this explains where my orneriness comes from….

Fans Taking Action Alert: From an email to the WHB: “Interesting non-response to my inquiry.” (Gotta appreciate the dry sarcasm – don’t know that Johnel caught it.)

Recently you requested assistance from our email support center. Below is a summary of your request and our response.

Subject: The rest of USA basketball

Customer By Web Form

Question: Are there only men involved in USA basketball?



Thank you for choosing SportsToday. While there are women on the USA Basketball team, we have not yet received information or stock on the Women’s team merchandise. Please check back on our site for updated merchandise.

If you have any further questions or concerns, feel free to contact us.


Johnel Trammell
Customer Service
Toll Free (US): 800-927-7821

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“Shhhh, I’m reading!”

“Sorry. Don’t suppose you’re reading anything in the NY Times?”

“Don’t be silly. They’re too busy drooling another 827 words all over the men’s team.”

“Right. Silly question. So, what are ya reading?”

“Well, for starters, Fred,” from Doug: Geno Auriemma talks style of play

“We would love to play basketball the way Spain plays soccer,” he said. (WHB Spoiler Alert: Just not like they did today — guess those first class seats helped the Japanese men, huh?) “The ball moves, we’re not trying to be like Italy and win nothing-nothing on penalty kicks. I don’t think that helps anybody.”

When told his soccer analogy could irritate some Italians, Auriemma wasn’t concerned.

“I grew up in Italy so I can make that comment,” the coach joked. “I’ve seen some Italian blowouts where they’ve won 1-0.”

Speaking of that guy from Philly, a mystery writer in London has this from the Quad City Times: Women’s hoops coach Geno Auriemma on cusp of adding golden chapter to remarkable American tale

Across a life of basketball, even as the victories and championships and perfect seasons piled up, Geno Auriemma always figured there was one goal out of reach: United States women’s national team coach.

It wasn’t just that he was born in Italy. It wasn’t just that he was a man in a women’s game. It wasn’t just that he was from the college ranks and the trend lately swung to taking pro coaches.

It was Geno himself. He is, admittedly, an abrasive force. Unapologetic. Politically incorrect. Not at all a member of the inner cliques of the women’s basketball. He’s had longstanding feuds with any number of coaches, most famously Pat Summitt, the icon of the sport.

He wins games, not popularity contests. Getting to be national team coach is, quite often, a popularity contest.

“I did think that if there was a committee that picked the coach, then the chances of me getting picked were zero,” Auriemma said Thursday.

USA Basketball says, “Let the Games Begin: U.S. Women Arrive In London

Is Geno different than the perception you had of him at Tennessee?

Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks): I would be lying to you if I said no. I think that it’s cool when you come from rival schools to kind of see now Coach Auriemma does basketball stuff and how he is off the court. I always knew that he liked to joke and things like that, but it’s been cool playing. Obviously a lot of his girls are on the team. It’s been nice. It’s been a good experience. We haven’t felt too orange (reference to Tennessee’s orange), except when he makes little jokes or something like that about the Southeastern Conference.

Speaking of Candace with an “a”: Olympian Candace Parker Represents Chicago

Speaking of the SEC: Former LSU basketball stars Seimone Augustus, Sylvia Fowles formidable 1-2 Olympic punch

Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles are no strangers to shared success. The LSU All-Americans-turned-international basketball stars together have claimed two Final Four berths, hoisted the Turkish Cup and won multiple gold medals, including the title at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Their games are complementary: Augustus is a 6-foot swingman who can create shots and get to the rim, and Fowles plays the post, dominating the boards with a quickness not indicative of her 6-foot-6, 200 pound frame. And as one can imagine, with the amount of times they’ve appeared on the same roster, their chemistry isn’t limited to the court.

Loudy Foudy brings some much needed gravitas to the game: Crown Jules: Underwear or No Underwear?

Richard Deitsch at SI gives us his Women’s basketball preview

Two pieces from SlamOnline:

Yaron Weitzman: Gold Standard- Diana Taurasi will be looking to add another notch to her storied career when she leads Team USA into the Olympics.

Christy Winters Scott on The Golden Mentality:  the mindset behind playing for Team USA (Have I mentioned how USA Basketball hates that “Team USA” thang? “There is no such thing!”)

“We three Lynx from Minneapolis are … ” From the Minnesota Daily: Lindsay Whalen leads trio of Lynx to London Games – The ex-Gophers star will play at her first Olympics with two Lynx teammates.

From Kelly Parsons at the Washington Times: Maya Moore brings poise to court for U.S. women

When she’s not on the move, the youngest player on the 2012 U.S. Olympic squad spends her time taking it all in.

“I just watch and make sure I’m paying attention and observing everybody who’s in a position of leadership,” Moore said. “They’re usually there saying the right things when we need to hear it, and I’m just soaking it up and trying to cause chaos of the other team.”

Here are “25 athletes to watch” during the Olympics.

Nathan McCarter at the *gulp* bleacher report narrows it down some: USA Olympic Women’s Basketball Team: 3 Rising Stars to Watch

From Peter Souders at Yahoo Sports: United States Women Toughen Up Inside to Beat Down Their Opposition.

Peter also has: The 2012 Olympic U.S. Women’s Basketball Team is Ready to Destroy the Opposition

There’s been a lot of discussion in the media recently about the “feud” between the 1992 U.S. Men’s Basketball “Dream Team” and the 2012 U.S. National squad who claim they could beat them. ESPN has done statistical analysis on the two teams; analysts have debated the claim, and Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Kobe Bryant and Barack Obama have voiced their opinions about the debate. But amidst all the discussion about the men’s team and how dominant they might be, there is a U.S. team that has already reached the dominating levels of the Dream Team: the female half of the basketball competition in the Olympic Games.

Seems Mechelle’s not available, so espnW trots out Prim Siripipat, Jemele Hill and Shelley Smith to discuss gender equality for some male and female Olympic teams.

Lee at Full Court wonders: London 2012: Australia — Can team training offset the loss of Penny Taylor?

Speaking of Australia, I bet glad LJ paid for that seat upgrade: Lauren Jackson named flag bearer of the Australian Olympic team for the 2012 London Games

Paul at FIBA.com weighs in: Veteran ‘glue’ is key to medal prospects

As fans and media, we should collectively hold our hands up, guilty as charged. For I fear we continue to give far too much attention to the headline acts who seduce us with their stats while simultaneously shunning those players who rarely dazzle with points, rebounds or assists but in reality, make teams tick.
Yes, those players who are the first names on the roster for each respective coach and when you throw in the additional element of veteran experience, provide the ‘glue’ which will hold together some of the most serious medal contenders in London.
It’s an essential ingredient for success. And, while that is always the case at any tournament, I feel it will be an overriding feature in London. In particular for Russia and Australia who each have a great shot at making the Final and, on their day, could even upset red-hot favourites USA.

FIBA’s Mageshwaran offers up this: These Chinese youngsters are Young Stars already!

These are nervy moments of anxiety that Guo Ailun and Zhao Shuang are undergoing in the days of the build-up to China’s participation, in what is likely to be the most popular event among team sports at London – basketball.

These are two youngsters, on the brink of their maiden Olympian experience, bristling with enormous potential and have already been marked out for future stardom. How bright they will shine in the future will depend on their performance at London!

The Denver Post’s Mark Kiszla writes: Taurasi embodies rise of women’s hoops from “fluffy-fluffy”

But maybe the real measure of acceptance for women’s sports in society is the unabashed sass of Taurasi. She doesn’t have to act like a lady 24/7 to soothe the male ego. The two-time Olympic gold medalist doesn’t care who sees her sweat, or hears her swear in the stream of locker-room banter.

“It’s not all fluffy-fluffy women’s basketball. It’s not all about skirts and cupcakes,” Taurasi said Thursday. “Sometimes, there’s steak and cussing going on. And that’s life. It’s not that pretty all the time. It’s kinda ugly sometimes.”

Oh, not every guy stretched out on the sofa back in the United States wants to hear women roar on the field of play. Some red-blooded American males would rather admit to reading “50 Shades of Grey” than watch Taurasi shoot a jumper. But as Geno Auriemma plops down on the bench for Team USA, one of the last significant stigmas of female sports has been more thoroughly erased.

It has ceased to be uncool for a man to coach a team of women.

While the debate about the Dream Team or 2012 has ceased for the most part (especially as 2012 has been put to tough tests by Brazil and Argentina in exhibition play already), putting this year’s women’s team up against USA Women’s of the past is actually an adequate argument. Along with the Huskies, Seimone Augustus, Tamika Catchings, Sylvia Fowles, Angel McCoughtry, Candace Parker and Lindsay Whalen round out the loaded roster.

“We’re just as deep as they were. We’re just as competitive. I think both teams definitely want to get that gold. But me being on this team, I would say we would beat that team just to start something,” said Charles jokingly. Cash added: “The one thing about this team is that it’s really unique. Even from our team in 2004 that I played on, I just think that this team is pretty deep. We’re probably gonna be full-courting up on both sides of the ball. I just think that we have the athleticism, the quickness, the length, the size, so I would put this right up there as one of the best teams, but you gotta get out there and win gold before you can start talking about which team is better than the other.”

From “Our Correspondant” at the Liverpool Echo: Johannah Leedham on a mission to put women’s basketball on the map at the Olympics

When Leedham first began representing her country at junior level, many would have scoffed at her decision, with the sport – particularly female participation – far from being in the mainstream.

But as the 24-year-old has evolved into one of the team’s stars, hitting a buzzer-beater in 2008 against Germany to hand Great Britain its first ever Division A victory, so has the sport itself.

Jessica over at Swish Appeal talks a little Russia and Czech Republic

Just remember, the basketball doesn’t end August 11th: This Trailer for the Paralympic Games is the Most Amazing Olympic Video You’ll Ever See

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