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said Aussie head coach Brendon Joyce: Liz Cambage omitted from Australian Opals team for Olympics basketball qualifiers against New Zealand

Meanwhile, in other international news, the Russians get a reprieve of sorts from FIBA.

Canadian Kia Nurse’s “How I spent my summer” essay is going to be wicked long: Canadian women open with a win over Puerto Rico at FIBA Americas. (Check out tonight’s stream of Canada/Chile – 8:30pm)

Brazil is chillin‘ ’cause they’re in.

USA Basketball marks One Year To Rio: USA Basketball Looks Back on Every U.S. Olympic Basketball Team Since 1936. Of course, you need to scroll down to ’76 to see the women’s team. I’ve always wondered: If WWII hadn’t happened, was there enough momentum to get the women into the Olympics in ’40?

As Nancy follows Becky, Local coaches weigh in on the recent hiring of Welter and Hammon in the NFL, NBA

Kate, who played at California Lutheran University before working as an assistant coach at the school for three years, is curious if the same applies in reverse situations. If a female coach walks into a gym full of male athletes, will they garner the same respect and attentiveness?

That’s one of the many questions raised, especially in recent weeks, since three women joined the professional coaching ranks in the NFL and NBA.

A little more on the topic:

Daily Camera: Women knock down barriers of ‘men’s’ sports

These hirings are important nods to Welter’s, Lieberman’s and Hammon’s very real qualifications — Lieberman is a member of both the Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, for example — and to the value of considering women for nontraditional roles in any walk of life.

When sports franchises break racial, sexual or gender barriers, they don’t do it to be politically correct. They do it because the players or coaches in question are right for the positions. Think of the Dodgers and Jackie Robinson.

Filip Bondy, NY Daily News: With women like Becky Hammon & Nancy Lieberman beginning to coach the men, it’s time to make some room at the table  

If players on the Sacramento Kings ever distrust the credentials of their new assistant coach, they can always Google “Nancy Lieberman” and discover an impressive resumé more than worthy of the position.

“I’m like a puppy,” Lieberman says. “I come with papers. I have pedigree. I’m not a mutt. And I’ve never been in a situation where I thought people didn’t respect me.”

Let’s just hope we can keep the door wedged open.

The Sparks are singing, “Just in time, I found you just in time…” with the return of Beard and Parker.

Candace Parker knew it was time to come back to the WNBA when her daughter Lailaa asked why she wasn’t playing with the Sparks any more.

”She didn’t understand that I was taking some time off,” Parker said. ”She said she wanted me to play for them.”

So Parker, who sat out the first half of the season to rest mentally and physically, returned to Los Angeles after the All-Star break. The Sparks have won four of six since the two-time league MVP came back.

After getting blown out in their first matchup, the semi-stumbling Lynx told the Sparks, “Wait a minute, Ms. Postman” and used home court advantage to get the win.

Always good to read about a return: After injuries nearly derailed career, Chelsea Gray flourishing with Sun

Chelsea Gray’s first season in the WNBA is a dramatic reversal of fortune. The 22-year-old rookie point guard is now one of the top subs off the bench for the Connecticut Sun, and is averaging 7.4 points in 16.4 minutes per game just past the halfway point of the WNBA regular season. Gray ranked ninth in the league and first among rookies in three-point field goal percentage (38.9) through her first 15 games, and is one of the WNBA’s most promising offensive weapons.

But the trajectory of Gray’s basketball career was drastically altered 18 months ago.

The news is less happy in the land of the Shock. 

Let’s avoid talking about the Storm or San Antonio, shall we? Well, maybe just a smidgen about the Storm: Loyd starting to feel more comfortable in the WNBA

Loyd’s development hasn’t been lost on teammate Sue Bird.

“I think early on she was getting adjusted, a little tentative, trying to feel her game out,” Bird said. “Now she’s starting to see where she can be successful. Almost a 180 in terms of her aggressiveness.”

And KML slowly adjusting to life in the WNBA

After a remarkable collegiate career during which Mosqueda-Lewis made a record 398 3-pointers, scored 2,178 points, became a two-time All-American and won three national championships, she’s struggled to make the transition to the professional game after getting picked third overall in the WNBA draft.

The level of competition, athleticism and defensive intensity are all drastically better in the pro game.

“The biggest eye-opening thing has been that it is going to be a process,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “It’s not something that’s going to come quickly. It’s something I’m going to have to work harder at and go with day-by-day.”

And Ramu Tokashiki, a Japanese Rookie, Blossoms in the W.N.B.A.

The first English word the Japanese forward Ramu Tokashiki learned from her Seattle Storm teammates is unprintable here. Used in jest, it has become Tokashiki’s favorite saying. But another favorite English word is “confidence,” something she has built during her first W.N.B.A.season. Tokashiki has become one of the league’s best rookies and a blooming fan favorite, while hoping to change the perception of women’s basketball in Japan.

Sitting in the Milwaukee airport yesterday, I caught the tail end of the Mercury/Chicago game. (Kinda cool, no?)

“A win against a good team at home, you get on a roll and get momentum,” Sky coach Pokey Chatman said. “And to be able to come in here and talk about a defensive assignment that you carried out against a hot team … that’s a crucial thing.”

I’ll get to see them in action (again) against the Lib. Can they eeek out a revenge game and stay in the chase for the top seed? And, of course, there’s nothing like winning to catch the NY Times’ attention: Rebuilding Around Tina Charles Puts Liberty in Playoff Hunt

A Liberty season that began with an off-court to-do over the hiring of Isiah Thomas as team president has turned into a great one on the basketball court. The Liberty sit on top of the W.N.B.A.’s Eastern Conference at 13-6. If the team maintains that .684 winning percentage over its final 15 games, it will finish with the best record in franchise history.

It is quite a contrast from last year, when the Liberty finished 15-19 and missed the playoffs. So what has changed?

NCAA:

So, the investigators hired by Illinois found nothing amiss when it came to the women’s program… but this is an interesting turn: Chancellor’s resignation could impact Illini athletics

The ground beneath the University of Illinois’ Department of Intercollegiate Athletics trembled this week.

It didn’t send plates crashing to the floor, but it moved, and just as it would with the arrival of a minor earthquake, those standing in the Bielfeldt Athletic Administration Building felt their stomachs jump.

If the release of findings from an external investigation into the school’s women’s basketball program didn’t create enough commotion, the stunning resignation of Chancellor Phyllis Wise grabbed everyone’s attention.

Simply put, Wise’s exit could be a game-changer for Illini athletics.

Speaking of game-changers: Ouch. South Carolina’s Mitchell Undergoes Surgery for Foot Injury

You stay put: Pitt signs McConnell-Serio through 2020-2021 season

Montana Grizzly: Family means everything to Lady Griz coach Selvig

Robin Selvig was a bit startled when one of his Lady Griz basketball players, McCalle Feller, openly revealed to her coaches and teammates during a team barbecue her freshman year that she was adopted.

“Everybody sits around and says something interesting about themselves,” Selvig said Monday before serving as the guest celebrity for the annual “A Waiting Child” golf tournament at Yellowstone Country Club. “That was the first thing that came out of her mouth.”

It’s not that adoption is a touchy or sensitive subject. American families adopted more than 7,000 children in 2012, according to the U.S. State Department. But Feller’s openness and honesty is what surprised Selvig.

Awesome: Muslim Basketball Players Design Own Outfits And You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!

A community basketball team in Cedar-Riverside Minneapolis, consisting of young Somali girls, made the news recently. These players did not gain attention from media outlets for bashing stereotypes or fighting against the Islamic oppressive patriarchy. They were lauded and positively represented for creating a solution to challenges they faced with their basketball uniforms. Their long skirts and flowy hijabs were not optimal for the courts.

So, the girls partnered with the College of Design at the University of Minnesota and created uniforms that would suit their personal and religious preferences.  This successful collaboration was widely covered and the majority of the reports were pleasantly surprising and unlike any I had ever seen before; nuancedpositive and accurate.

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Spent the morning meeting a second cousin, visiting the Coronado Historic Site and the ruins of Kuaua Pueblo and eating yummy food at Sophia’s Place.

Should now be working on that keynote thing, but decided procrastination was necessary because of the wins by St. Peter’s and San Diego.

As a reward for their upset over Rider, Patty Coyle’s team gets to face Marist.

The Marist College women’s basketball team has not lost a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament game since March 6, 2005, exactly 10 years ago on Friday.

Now, all the Red Foxes want is to make that streak last four more days.

This weekend, and this year’s MAAC tournament, may be the greatest test Marist has faced since its string of nine consecutive titles and nine consecutive automatic bids to the NCAA tournament began.

(BTW, Patty’s sister Mary’s team, is doing well: Knight’s career-high 24 helps Rutgers Prep advance past Gill St. Bernard’s)

USF entered the WCC tournament “brimming with confidence,” and that showed with their 74-64 upset of Pacific.

“I’m really, really proud of the team. This was a huge team win,” said USF head coach Jennifer Azzi. “They defended, they had a look in their eye tonight like ‘we are going to win this game,’ and it was fun to see them out there and be able to just pull things together. They’ve really come out strong at the end of the season. They’ve bought into continuing to work and continuing to improve throughout the season.”

Next up: the winner of San Diego v. Santa Clara.

Gonna watch’em play on the 10th: Penn women’s basketball’s senior class is four-ever a winner – Quakers bid adieu to winningest class

The year was 2011.

The Dallas Mavericks had just won their first NBA title. Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” was named the number one song of the year. Nearly all of America had woken up at 5 a.m. to watch the Royal Wedding.

And four talented freshmen joined Penn women’s basketball, eagerly hoping to make their mark on what was, at best, a mediocre — if not downright dismal — program.

Da Bears: International cast re-establishes UMaine women’s basketball team as title contender

The Black Bears have achieved their recent success with a roster that includes seven international players.

“It’s a lot of fun. It’s never boring because you’re always learning something new,” said junior Liz Wood of Catlett, Virginia.

Fourth-year head coach Richard Barron has assembled the group during the last three years, including seven players recruited in 2012. The European contingent features players from Austria, Finland, Sweden, Germany, England, Serbia and Greece.

UMaine, the league regular-season co-champs, includes two players each from Maine and California and one apiece from Virginia, Kentucky and Utah.

In Charlie’s bracketology, there are no easy answers.

After delving into some more history and the underlying stated goals of earlier committees, it seems the commitment to the S-curve takes a distant second place to keeping teams as close to home as possible. So Oregon State, as the last team on the No. 2 line, is back in the Spokane Regional, paired with the final No. 1 seed, Maryland.

That also means the top No. 2 seed, Tennessee, is now with Connecticut, the No. 1 overall seed. That isn’t exactly even at the top, but with the right mix of 3- and 4-seeds, and geography still a priority, the overall regional balance is there.

It’s not ideal for some, but it accurately follows what past committees have done and honors what the NCAA has said is the hope of the individual institutions — to enhance the experience by playing closer to home even if it means a more difficult path.

At Swish Appeal, Mike Robinson argues that Why the Atlantic Sun deserves two teams in this year’s NCAA tournament

No more clockgates? Division I men’s and women’s basketball championships to use advanced timing and replay technologies

Know Your KU History: Tamecka Dixon

Tamecka Dixon is one of only three women’s basketball players to have her number hung in the rafters at Allen Fieldhouse. That’s how good she was.

The Linden, New Jersey native came to Kansas in the fall of 1993 and immediately got started on an impressive Kansas career. As a freshman, she only started six games, but averaged 17 minutes per game off the bench. That year, she averaged 6.8 points per game and helped KU to a second round NCAA tournament appearance. The 22-6 Jayhawks were a nine seed and lost to the top-seeded Penn State Nittany Lions in the second game.

Former Southwood star Alana Beard still on center stage

Watching Alana Beard with a basketball in her hand, while sporting the orange, blue and white uniform of the Southwood Lady Cowboys from 1997-2000, was the sporting equivalent of Princess Odette slicing through the air at the Bolshoi Theater.

“Alana was so smooth in her movements. Great body control,” is how former Southwood head coach Steve McDowell described her.

Ironically, the ballerina-like Beard would more than likely turn down an invitation to ply her trade at the famed Moscow venue…for climatological reasons.

Thanks for losing, Knicks! From the New York Times: The Shy One? She’s the Red Storm’s Fiercest Rebounder – St. John’s Amber Thompson Transforms Herself and Her Team

When Amber Thompson arrived at St. John’s four years ago as the recipient of a basketball scholarship, her body language was not promising. She would hold her hand in front of her face when she spoke. She would look away from others to avoid eye contact. She was so painfully reserved it raised questions about her ability to assert herself on the court.

But then practice began and Thompson unveiled a strikingly different persona, that of a fierce, no-holds-barred competitor intent on succeeding.

Also : F.D.U.-Florham, Division III Champion, Sets Its Sights on Repeating

Marc Mitchell was born and raised in Newark. Now 46, he has coached New Jersey basketball teams — recreation league, middle school, high school and college — for more than 20 years.

Still, he had never heard of Fairleigh Dickinson University, Florham, before applying for the position of women’s basketball coach there in 2009. A few days before interviewing, he called the admissions office and set up a campus tour. He wanted to learn about the college, which is in Madison, about 15 miles west of Newark.

Six years later, Mitchell has helped make F.D.U.-Florham a recognizable name in Division III athletics. The Devils were 33-0 last season and became the first team from New Jersey to win an N.C.A.A. women’s basketball title. This season, their only loss came on Feb. 7, in overtime, when Eastern University ended their 53-game winning streak, the longest in the nation at the time for a men’s or women’s team, regardless of division.

A little W news:

Someone’s cranky: The 2015 Mystics: A lot like the 2014 Mystics

LeanIn.Org Launches “#LeanInTogether” Public Service Campaign

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The U-19 is still looking for a challenge: US 103, Mali 26; US 103,  China 56. Today they face the Netherlands, Tuesday it’s Canada and Wednesday it’s France. Look for the semi’s to be streamed on July 27th via FIBATV.

Meanwhile,  the elders were making memories at World University Games

What did Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper miss out on while she was in Kazan, Russia, playing for the United States women’s basketball team at the World University Games?

* A couple of Husker summer practices.

* The baseball All-Star Game.

* “Sharknado” on SyFy.

She spent more than 30 hours on airplanes (each way), learned to like — sort of — Russian food, and found it wasn’t a problem playing in front of the opposing crowd in the championship game because, well, she couldn’t understand a word the fans were saying.

A health(ier) Indiana is a hungry Indiana.

New York doesn’t want to see the Sky any more with or without an injured or not injured Big Syl.

The Merc didn’t want to see Sammy anymore (and some suggested waiving her was an affirmation of an alarming trend in the world of basketball ), but Trader Bill is interested: New York Liberty sign Long Island’s Samantha Prahalis to a 7-day contract.

Speaking of bigs: Glory and Liz are rocking the Shock, who’ve won three in a row. From Tulsa World photographer Mike Simons:

“She can’t cover you Liz!”

That is what I heard several times from the crowd at the Tulsa Shock game against the Atlanta Dream. It seemed to be true as Elizabeth Cambage seemed to do whatever she pleased on the floor during their game against the Atlanta Dream. She finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds in their 90-63 victory over Atlanta.

I, like other newspaper photographers, spend a lot of time at sporting events. It is fun, and rare, when you see someone rise above the rest and get into the zone as I have heard it called. I saw it in the Cotton Bowl as Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel dismantled Oklahoma’s defense. I saw it as I covered NBA basketball player O.J. Mayo in high school. There have been others, and there will be others. It was exciting to watch it yesterday with Cambage.

And yes, if Seattle continues to miss out on upset opportunities, maybe Tulsa will make the playoffs. Though San Antonio is still proving to be stubborn.

If and when Griner gets healthy and Gaines figures out to how to use her on offense, the Merc might really threaten Minnesota. As it is, this time Moore was just enough to help the Lynx survive.

WNBA’s Zoll-Norman shares message: Be yourself

She doesn’t even like the term “coming out” because hers was not some great revelation and had nothing to do with the timing of other pro athletes like Jason Collins and fellow WNBA player Brittney Griner who recently spoke out about being gay.

“There’s no secret,” Zoll-Norman said. “The interview kind of took a turn. It was really supposed to be about going to the pride parade and me being in it representing the Sky organization, which is an amazing thing. I had never been in a pride parade before and it kind of turned out to be that it was a ‘coming out.’ I don’t really like that term because if I was straight I wouldn’t have to come out and say I was straight. I don’t think that has anything to do with me as a basketball player.

“It turned out that it was an inspiration for some people, which I can appreciate, and I’m glad that it was. I just hope that everybody knows that they can be themselves.”

Purdue is down one: Sophomore Taylor Manuel will transfer from Purdue

Loss in West Virginia and Tennessee:

No player in the history of West Virginia high school girls basketball ever has or ever will be able to match the impact Mary Ostrowski had on the sport.

A standout at Parkersburg Catholic, Ostrowski-who lost her long battle with cancer on Friday at age 51-was the pioneer, the trailblazer, the player who set the standards for all others.

She was West Virginia girls basketball’s first superstar, winning the state player of the year award the first three seasons, while leading Catholic to 88 straight wins and two state championships.

Obviously, she was an extremely gifted player. But what set her apart from others who also fell into that category was her work ethic, which was legendary.

The news is getting worse out of Oakland: Players’ shocking allegations against former NCAA women’s basketball coach: As many as 15 former players and others close to the Oakland University women’s basketball program allege Beckie Francis fixated on their weight, pushed her religious views and used intimidation.  

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We were one, off-balance, rim-tickling shot away from getting a game three between LA and Minny.

I guess you could, as the headline on Smith’s piece says, the Lynx “overcame” Candace’s 33, but looking at the stats, you can also see that the Sparks didn’t have a bench — well, not a bench that could impact this game.

Yes, when Candace nailed an improbable (and TV pleasing three), I’m sure fans (and the Lynx) were having Seattle flashbacks. BUT, then Monica nailed the counter-three,  (Flashback number 2:Minnesota Lynx coach: ‘We’re better’ than last year, thanks in part to talented reserves) and the ball ended up in Beard’s hands. Great defense by the Lynx (who may have had fresher legs) and Alana couldn’t carry her team back to Minnesota.

It hurt to see Candace bent over in pain. But that’s the blessing and curse of sports, isn’t it — all but one end up losers. Said (congrats coach of the year, though I still would have voted for K) Ross:

“Either it wasn’t a good play or it wasn’t executed very well,” Ross said. “You are so frustrated with every decision you make in a one-point [loss]. I will probably spend way too much time scrutinizing it.”

Interesting to read Nate’s Notes on watching the game on tape.

It’s 72-71 with just under 6 minutes left after a Whalen layup and this has been a great game: outstanding individual performances, the Sparks playing some of their best defense for about five minutes, and both teams seizing momentum for extended stretches before the other team grabbed a hold of it. The question down the stretch is who will have more energy left to dig in and win this game with championship-caliber execution at both ends.

Heartache aside, it was a great game to have on national TV. Thank you, players & coaches.

Oh, and congrats to Mama Taj on her 500th game.

That being said, LA, and the rest of the West, better work on getting a bench —  ’cause right now, Minny’s got the young legs to carry them for a while.

Next up: Can Connecticut’s mix of young and new take down the Indy vets.

From the Courant: Sun Hope To Keep Bottling Up Catchings, Playing Up Charles

From the Norwich Bulletin: Connecticut not underestimating Indiana

The lesson has already been delivered to the Connecticut Sun this season by the Indiana Fever: underestimate us at your own peril.

On June 19, the Sun were feeling pretty good about themselves after an 88-85 win over Indiana at home. The two teams both packed up and left the Mohegan Sun Arena together, bound for Indianapolis where two days later, the Fever smoked Connecticut by 34 points, the worst loss of the season for the Sun.

For a while the other night, they could have darkened the scoreboards at Mohegan Sun Arena and measured the first game of the Eastern Conference finals by first downs.And so while the venue changes tonight (to Bankers Life Fieldhouse, 8 p.m., ESPN2), the narrative changes (only one team’s season could end) what remains steadfast is this: The Connecticut Sun and Indiana Fever will use each other for punching bags.

Did you catch this by Graham after the first game? Charles’ true value shines in third

On those nights it’s not in use by the Connecticut Sun, Mohegan Sun Arena is a stop for musical acts that, frankly, often saw their best days long before the WNBA came on the scene.

Eddie Money, Journey (with special guest Loverboy, no less), Meat Loaf, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, all will pass through this corner of Connecticut in the next few weeks alone. They are safe bookings, familiar names that will draw crowds who don’t really care if they are any good now, happy to pay for the memories of when they were.

But on nights when they lay down the basketball court and leave the lights on, Tina Charles offers reminders of what it’s like to see a star ascending, a performer growing into the role each time she takes the stage. And her performance in the opening game of the Eastern Conference finals between the Connecticut Sun and the Indiana Fever deserved an encore, never more than when she let loose with a solo in the third quarter.

Graham also added this: January meets challenges head on

What’s left to do won’t be easy for the Indiana Fever. Should inspiration be required, they might do well to look to the difficult path Briann January trod simply to have a season she can put on the line.

More importantly, they will look to her for the points, assists and defense that could make all the difference.

From David Woods: Indiana Fever’s Tamika Catchings will try to snap a cold spell

As the WNBA’s five-time Defensive Player of the Year, Tamika Catchings can stop almost anyone.Conversely, everyone tries to stop Catchings. That is, if she is not stopping herself.

Also, from the NY Times: Amid Successes, W.N.B.A. Is Still Facing Challenges

With all the good news that it has to shout about, the W.N.B.A. may be the quietest professional sports league in the United States.

The challenge, we all know, is rooted around narrative. Remember how important it was when ESPN — hate’em or love’em — decided to broadcast ALL the NCAA tourney games? The W needs to actively court bloggers, writters, videographers and ESPN. And when they GET a game on national TV, they need to make sure that every single seat is filled — whatever that takes. The story on the court — and off the court — has improved. We’re just not telling that story to enough audiences.

Part of that is reminding them that the W exists. It’s pretty awful that the NYTimes doesn’t carry the W on their scoreboard, and Laurel should be crawling up their butt about that. But what about SB Nation, home of Swish Appeal? Their banner lists the major men’s sports, golf, fantasy… there’s no WNBA. There’s no listing for women’s college basketball (even though the link title is CBB). Heck, the W ain’t even listed under “More.” But “Horse Racing” is. That needs to be changed.

Hey, Nate — need some help making your voice heard? Holler! I’m sure we can get enough fan response. Right?

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’cause it’s time to bring it v. the Lynx.  (Remember this from the 20th of September: Sparks deliver warning shot to Lynx)

And that’s not just because the game is on ABC at 3:30pm and there might be a national audience. It’s because if you don’t, you’re out.

It’s the lovely — and tough — reality of the WNBA playoffs. It’s tough to get a narrative going with the short series. But it sure does ramp up the pressure and tension. We’ll see if, as Mechelle writes, Lynx have Sparks on their heels

Candace Parker was irritated by her team’s indecisive pick-and-roll defense and lack of overall fight. DeLisha Milton-Jones saw a deficient sense of urgency. Alana Beard thought the Sparks didn’t defend or rebound well enough to get their all-important transition game going. Kristi Toliver felt the Sparks started the game back on their heels, and never recovered.

Coach Carol Ross noticed all of the above, along with delivering the quintessential coach’s line, “I’m going to have to look at film to review it all, but …”

It was bad, period. However, it’s because the Sparks are such a good team that they can be that blunt about it.

From the Star Tribune: Rebound machine Rebekkah Brunson keeps on chugging and Coach applauds Whalen for playing through pain.

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most teams are prepping for playoffs, ping pong balls and fan appreciation night, so call me when the regular season is over.

Perusing other news…

Well, ooops! Readers of this blog may remember Monroe College as the launching pad of a great story: Syracuse mom and grad Fantasia Goodwin. Less pleasant news to share this time:  they got themselves seriously sanctioned by NJCAA for messing with kids’ LOIs. Not cool.

Speaking of not cool: Michigan St. Players suspended.

Speaking of cool, the NY Times gives Beard some love: Two years removed from the WNBA, Alana Beard is embracing a new team and a new outlook.

Rebecca writes that The ACC move takes out trash talk, Graham writes that familiarity and frequency fueled the rivalry, while Mechelle knows that ND’s move has strengthened the ACC.

Guess the next question will be: who wants UCONN?

As for Vegas, I’ve seen all the sights: a tour of Red Rock Canyon, a sighting of a Western Grebe and a walk along the Hoover dam.

One thing I will say, their “cell tower dressed up as a reedeeally tall palm tree” is far more effective than the east coast’s “Look! A reeeeally tall, ugly fake evergreen!”

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what with Angel making up for lost time and Big Syl returning to form.

The question for both teams is: what happens next game? As Nate asks: WNBA Hollinger Power Rankings: What Difference Might Angel McCoughtry Make For The Atlanta Dream?

The story is: Sun lose! Sparks lose! 

From Richard: Atlanta’s conquering heroine returns, while Sparks are exposed again

It’ll be interesting to see how LA fares against Minny tonight. Not particularly interested in the Sun/Mystics game, though. You?

Mechelle celebrates a good news story: Alana Beard finds fresh start in L.A.

The Los Angeles Sparks have experienced back-to-back defeats. Boo-hoo. Alana Beard, even more so than the average WNBA veteran, is not going to be fazed by such setbacks. When you’ve lost two seasons during the prime of your career, rebounding from losing two games doesn’t seem like much of a challenge.

Beard has been in the WNBA for nine seasons but been healthy enough to play for just seven. She celebrated her 30th birthday in May. Sometimes in recent years, the thought crept in her mind that perhaps she’d need to start her life’s fourth decade by submerging completely in a new career: that of the businesswoman she has long planned to be.

She is not one of those pro athletes who will wake up one day and say, “Oh, no! Now what?”

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You stay put: Mystics re-sign Crystal Langhorne

Nate says: 2012 WNBA Free Agency: Finding Value Among The Remaining Unrestricted Free Agents

Mechelle finds Alana Beard’s move to Sparks intriguing

Not so Shocking: Gary Kloppenburg’s Plans For The Tulsa Shock Do Not Include Sheryl Swoopes, Betty Lennox

Tamika keeps busy: Catchings joins WSF board

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(if they’ve updated it) and it is REALLY nice to see some familiar names that have spent far too much time being injured looking to make some noise this season.

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We don’t like it,

but we knew it was likely: Alana Beard to miss rest of season

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More on Richie from Jayda: Luncheon in Seattle led Laurel J. Richie to WNBA – Former Girl Scouts executive Laurel J. Richie made an impression in Seattle that led to a job as WNBA president.

Storm president and CEO Karen Bryant said she and the ownership group looked across the table at each other and knew Richie had to be in the pool of candidates for the WNBA job that Donna Orender had resigned in December after six years.

“I loved her story,” Bryant said of Richie. “She has a commanding presence, and she has a really unique combination of confidence and humility. … Afterward she told us, ‘I’m definitely going to a game.’ She was somebody I was going to stay connected to, there’s no question. When I met her and took her card, I took that card with a purpose. I would have gone to a game with her in New York and I still will, but now I’m her guest.”

From the Deccan Herald’s Roshan Thyagarajan: Waiting to make a mark – Geethu Anna Jose’s try out at WNBA could indeed be the boost Indian women’s basketball needs

It is but normal to ponder over what sets Geethu Anna Jose apart from an estimated 50 lakh players of the fairer sex who take up basketball as something more than a mere hobby.

So what does she have that the rest don’t? What skill or added incentive does she possess that puts her on WNBA’s (Womens National Basketball Association) radar while the rest of the basketballing fraternity grapples amongst itself to make a small mark in a huge country?

John Altavilla at the Hartfort Courant writes: Payoff Would Be Playoffs For The Sun – Team Looking To End Two-Year Drought

After building a reputation as one of the WNBA’s most solid teams the last six seasons, the Connecticut Sun have faltered the last two, failing to make the playoffs each year.

Generally recognized as the best organization in the league and its only consistent money-maker, coach Mike Thibault and GM Chris Sienko worked in the offseason to bring the basketball up to par with the business office.

From Melissa Rohlin: Candace Parker leads full Sparks camp roster

When training camp began last year, things looked pretty grim for the Los Angeles Sparks.
They had a new coach, three-time WNBA most valuable player Lisa Leslie had retired, and more than half of the team was still playing overseas.

This year, with audible tinges of excitement in her voice, Sparks General Manager Penny Toler said everything will be different when camp opens Sunday.

From Ben York: Sylvia Fowles “I’m Very Excited for This Season”

Sylvia Fowles has made up her mind that missing the playoffs is no longer an option.

If you thought she had a MVP-caliber season in 2010, you haven’t seen anything yet.

There is a look of calm determination and stoic poise in Fowles that we haven’t seen before. Don’t get me wrong; the aggressiveness and ferocity hasn’t left her game but there is an added dimension of composed confidence that was palpable throughout Team USA training camp.

From Mechelle: Alana Beard focused on life and WNBA – Mystics guard continues to make strides while preparing for upcoming season

Alana Beard can tell you the date she last played a competitive basketball game: Dec. 22, 2009, in Poland. She can recite exactly what kind of rehab she did for her injured ankle, and for how many hours a day during the nearly 17 months since her last competition.

For that matter, she could probably tell you precisely how much her last grocery bill was, because that’s how her mind works. Beard is about the details, about making things add up.

At the Huffington Post: Maya Moore Speaks about Pay, Labor and Going Pro

She was the number one draft pick for the WNBA, a four-season All-American at University of Connecticut and a world championships gold-medalist for the U.S. national team. But as Maya Moore heads into preseason training for the Minnesota Lynx, she reflects on how going pro means she’s not longer just a basketball player: She’s also a business. Moore shared her thoughts with The Huffington Post on unions, fair pay in athletics and what is soon-to-be the “Maya” brand:

From Lady Swish: And then there was one: Maiga-Ba waived by Minnesota

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It’s a paraphrase of a comment Pat and Geno made to each other while watching Alana Beard. And it just goes to prove that recruiting is a funky, inexact science.

Case in point? Bowling Green’s Lauren Prochask, who has the all-time Bowling Green record of 2,164 points, women or men, set an all-time NCAA women’s record for consecutive free throws made with 70 and has twice being voted Mid-American Conference Player of the Year.

From the Dispatch’s Mark Znidar: Points are piling up for Prochaska

Coming out of high school, many college coaches weren’t sold on Prochaska despite leading Jonathan Alder to the Division III state championship in 2007. She shut down Tyra Grant of Youngstown Ursuline, who was voted Ms. Basketball in Ohio that season, down the stretch in the final.

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Coming in at SlamOnline’s #10:

Alana Beard.

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Jenny Boucek gets her own Q&A.

Plymouth-Carver High School grad Nancy Darsch offers Plymouth athletes advice about being a leader

In a WATN?, we read about Barb Farris’ coaching gig: Curtis girls basketball team continues to crush opponents

Alana Beard will be at the Girl Up! Pep Rally in DC Tomorrow

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From Ron Kroichick at the San Francisco Chronicle: Wiggins takes on a new mission

Candice Wiggins sailed mostly under the radar during this year’s fall quarter at Stanford. She almost felt like she was in disguise as a regular student, no longer performing on the hardwood stage at Maples Pavilion.

It was a question on the lips of everybody last Wednesday – just when was the last time three bona-fide EuroLeague Women heavyweights all lost on the same night?

Defeats for defending champions Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje, 2010 runners-up Ros Casares and fellow big-hitters Halcon Avenida marked one of the most memorable evenings in recent memory.

Throw into the mix that MKB EuroLeasing were also defeated 24 hours later and that meant four of the six teams who have made up the last two Final Fours all lost during week seven. It was incredible stuff and a great way to celebrate an interesting week when Final Four was turned into a magnificent Final Eight from 2012 onwards.

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From SlamOnline

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Alana Beard

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“I’m not done yet!”

As reported by others previously, Washing Mystics guard Alana Beard and Phoenix Mercury center Tangela Smith are currently doing a management internship with Jamba Juice in Emeryville, California. Both have visions of owning their own business after their basketball careers and are getting their feet wet doing everything from washing dishes to going over PNL models with the CFO.

I had a chance to chat with both Beard and Smith on the job today and discussed the experience and their aspirations after basketball. For Smith, who already holds the WNBA record for games played, life after basketball could begin in the next couple of years.

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Alana Beard’s Road to Recovery and Alana Beard: The Intern? – WNBA superstar heads west to take on new opportunity.

The busy life of Armintie Price – Recently back from playing in the WNBA Finals with the Eastern Conference Champions, the Atlanta Dream, Lady Rebels assistant coach Armintie Price discussed being a professional basketball player, being a newlywed and a coach.

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Beard writes

at SlamOnline: The Return of Alana Beard – On rehab, AAU teams, and becoming a DJ.

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