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I guess it’s parity — or it could be that some teams just don’t have their heads on straight….

Bentley’s on a Roll(s. Get the play on words? No? Oh, well. Nevermind) and helps lift the Sun to an important win.

It’s been a while since the Mohegan Sun Arena rocked during a Connecticut Sun game like it did Thursday night.

Renee Montgomery heaved up a 3-pointer just past half court at the first-half buzzer to give Connecticut a four-point lead.

Alex Bentley ended the third quarter with a 3-pointer to push the Sun ahead.

Old-hand Katie Douglas made two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to push Connecticut ahead late in the game.

The Sun survived two shots in the final five seconds to beat the uber-talented Phoenix Mercury, 96-95, setting off a roar from the 5,760 in attendance.

And just like that, Connecticut has its first multi-game winning streak.

And Mike is cranky ’cause the Merc are cranky.

But it’s okay, ’cause Taurasi Plans To Stay Forever Young, Says UConn Fans Need Not Worry

Then the Dream go, “Not so fast, everyone! We’re going to make some noise!)” and take down Minnesota, 85-82.

Cooper assigned Hayes to guard Maya Moore and McCoughtry to defend Seimone Augustus. His plan went well.

“Our pick-and-roll coverage worked to perfection and again,” Cooper said. “We just wanted to limit one of those players. It was going to be hard to limit two. But we held both to under 20 points, and if you can do that against any team you give yourself a chance to win.”

The – say it with me, everyone – “short-handed Sky” fell to the “really need a win” Mystics, 79-68.

The Sun continue on a roll, courtesy of Ms. Bentley, and squashed the flailing Lib, 83-75, in spite of Charles’ fab game.

The losses piled up quickly at the start of the season, but Connecticut Sun coach Anne Donovan continued to insist that she was seeing progress from her youthful team.

It’s not easy for fans or the media to appreciate improvements in a results-oriented business such as basketball. Fair or not, everything is measured in wins and losses.

Speaking of Tina: Liberty’s Tina Charles to give half her salary to foundation in aunt’s name

And Mike is happy ’cause We’ve got Bentley … you know the rest

The Storm, helped by the reappearance of Ms. Wright, sneak up on San Antonio, 79-72.

 Danielle Robinson can handle the missed shots. She can deal with an offense that’s often too stagnant. Those afflictions, the Stars’ point guard surmised, are fixable.

It’s the defensive breakdowns and gaudy offensive numbers opponents are increasingly putting up that are unacceptable.

Behind Paris and Diggins, the Shock live up to their name and stun the Sparks, 69-67.

San Antonio shakes off a loss, and stomp all over the still stunned Sparks.

 A night earlier, the Stars sat in a quiet locker room, pondering another head-scratching effort that left them questioning everything from their offensive struggles to a lack of defensive intensity. Behind closed doors, the players challenged one another to play for pride, each other and the organization.

“Just wanted to get on the same page,” Stars point guard Danielle Robinson said. “We are all playing for each other. There’s no drama or anything. We just wanted to clear some things up.”

Richard at l’Alien tries to explain it all.

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First, I take a break from work (yes, it was a looooong day) and walk over to the Garden to yell for my team against Liberty-West. And then I realize I have to yell AT my team to “GUARD THAT #7 PERSON!” (Jia Perkins, who is lighting it up this season — or is it just against NY?).

The first half was a heck of a lot of fun, with both teams hitting shots and playing little, if any defense. And then *cue the horror music* came the third period. Lordy, the Lib are awful on defense. They’re slow to close out on the perimeter shooters (no speed, no willingness to get over/through screens) and have no defensive smarts or communication in the paint. Just give-and-go, back-door’em to death, y’all.

Which is exactly what San Antonio did. But Billie Jean King was there, so that was a good thing…

Kayla McBride looks like a seasoned vet. Her intensity is driven into the court, not the stands. We’ll see how she does once the WNBA folks get real W game tape on her, but she’s quick, fast and fearless.

Then Kia (who is trying to make a liar outta me (it’s a twitter thing)) leads the Mystics over the Sun.

THEN the still Catch-less Fever rally from 16 down to defeat the ‘stics.

Then TULSA whips Phoenix and gets their first win of the season. (Dish ‘n Swish on Digg)

Then SEATTLE trips up Minnesota, giving the Lynx their first loss of the season.

Then LA wakes up and gives Chicago their first thumping of the season.

(I fly to Minnesota to present at a conference, where the Lynx aren’t, but I DO meet a first-year season ticket holder while attending a Claudia Schmidt concert.)

Then Atlanta gives Chicago their SECOND thumping of the season.

Then Alex Bentley (!) leads Connecticut over a tired Indiana Fever.

Then Phoenix outscored San Antonio 14-2 in the second overtime to secure the win.

Don’t know about you, but I’m POOPED. (Could be that I’m sleeping in the wrong time zone.) I guess the lesson is: Buckle up! It’s going to be a bumpy ride this WNBA season. And maybe it’s RICHARD’s turn to carry the WHB jinx: Lynx And Sky Overcome Obstacles To Start Strong In WNBA, Plus Ups And Downs From Around The League

Oh, and SWEET!

 

 

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Our good friend Jon Krawczynski at the AP has Five things to know about the WNBA Finals

Dream’s motivation: If the Dream can’t defeat the Lynx, it would be their third finals loss in four seasons. They were swept by Seattle in 2010. The New York Liberty is the only team to accomplish that dubious feat (Ow. Thanks for the reminder), losing three of the first four championships. “We learned from our failures,” McCoughtry said.

Hopefully a sixth thing to know is that some WNBA franchises are (or should be!) holding viewing parties. Dunno if they are, but the Lynx are ready for game three at the Gwinnett.

From Mechelle: Lynx have edge over Dream in Finals

Minnesota is the favorite to prevail in the WNBA Finals, which begin Sunday at Minneapolis’ Target Center (ESPN and WatchESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET).

In 2011, the Lynx swept the Dream to win Minnesota’s first WNBA title. The Lynx were upset on the way to a repeat last year, falling in four games to Indiana. Which is probably the worst thing that could have happened from the Dream’s perspective.

Atlanta knows that the Lynx are still unhappy about the title getting away from them last year, and that Minnesota’s concentration will be very keen this year to keep that from happening again.

But Minnesota also has — at least on paper — a talent edge overall against the Dream. That said, the teams split their regular-season meetings this year, both winning on their home court.

Nate gives us the 2013 WNBA Finals X-Factor: Alex Bentley’s defense at the point guard spot key to Atlanta Dream success

For the Dream, the ability to even get back to the Finals with an entirely different point guard rotation in part reflects the quality of the rest of their personnel over the past few years: their frontcourt has helped them remain among the best rebounding teams in the league and of course there’s All-Star Angel McCoughtry on the wing along with defensive standout Armintie Herrington.

Yet the main reason the Dream have almost made the point guard position look irrelevant is their style of play: they’re a team that has always liked to push the pace to score in transition and they have wings who handle the ball efficiently enough to minimize their reliance on point guard play.

Mark Remme at Los Lynx writes. Lynx Key On Slowning Down McCoughtry’s Chaos

If you’re scouting the Atlanta Dream, the word chaos seems to come up regularly. The Dream certainly bring it defensively, and on the offensive end they will their way to victory through a collection of plays that tend to deviate on each and every possession. 

In the middle of that chaos is Angel McCoughtry, the dynamic scorer who essentially can do it all. And she does it in different ways—a noticeable trait for the Lynx guards preparing to try contain her in the 2013 WNBA Finals. On any given possession, McCoughtry might go left, go right, take a certain angle they’ve never seen before or shake her way to the hoop.

The prognosis? She never does the same thing twice.

Hello, old friend: Maya Moore Vs. Tiffany Hayes: UConn Reunion In WNBA Finals

During the three years they played together at UConn, Maya Moore and Tiffany Hayes traveled to three Final Fours and won two national championships, usually laughing at each other’s jokes along the way.

But starting Sunday, Moore and Hayes will be on different sides when the Minnesota Lynx andAtlanta Dream begin play in the best-of-five WNBA Finals in Minnesota.

“It’s a little different when you play against a friend like her,” said Hayes, the Dream’s second-year guard. “We have some little conversations, maybe have a laugh on the free throw line, but otherwise things are pretty much the same as playing against anyone else.”

In other news, a little history.

From Iowa: Charging Czech Day in Clutier

Most people in this area are aware of the Clutier girls basketball team’s remarkable history. From 1939 through 1948 the Clutier Charging Czechs dominated Iowa sports headlines. These girls, under the coaching of John Schoenfelder, had a record of 201 wins, 18 losses and 1 tie. They scored 12,295 points versus their opponents 5,660, and went to the state tournament six times, winning in 1942. Two of the Charging Czechs, Verna Mae Vorba and Adella Knoop were later inducted into the Iowa Girls Basketball Hall of Fame.

The Clutier Public Library proudly displays the trophy case and the pictures of the Clutier graduating classes. Also, the Library recently added the book, “From Six-on-Six to Full Court Press” by Janice Beran to the collection.

From Alaska: Sweet – Early team member named honorary captain of Palmer girls squad

[92 year-old] June Liebing’s time in the Valley pre-dates the Matanuska Colony, and her basketball career here came at a time when the Palmer High School girl’s team was shooting through rafters to make a basket.

So, it would seem to most, there’s really no better person to become the PHS girl’s squad’s first honorary captain.

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From Louisa Thomas at Grantland: Candace Parker Knows What She Wants

Practice ended, and Candace Parker’s teammates left the floor. Parker held a ball. Sweat darkened the shoulders of her long gray shirt, roughly mapping the shape of her delts. She had a packed schedule that day: two interviews, a Twitter chat hosted by the Associated Press, a tour of her house for Time Warner Cable Sports’ Backstage: Sparks, lunch with her mother, a weightlifting session with her trainer, an appointment at the eye doctor, and her daughter’s gymnastics class, all before dinner. But no one, least of all herself, wanted her to hurry off the court.

One of the men who had scrimmaged with the Sparks that morning, Tevin Calhoun, who averaged 5.5 points a game last season as a junior at Troy University, jogged over to Parker. He had a young face, mismatched borrowed Nikes — he’d shown up without shoes — and an enviable vertical leap. He also had about three inches and 30 pounds on Parker, who is 6-foot-4, and his soft box cut gave him an inch or two more. She had big hands, though, and endless arms.

Parker turned toward Calhoun, smoothly moving her dribble behind her back. “You wanna, like, play a little bit?” she asked.

From the Windy City Times: Lesbian Chicago Sky player set to attend her first Pride Parade

Although Sharnee Zoll-Norman has mentioned her wife in past interviews, specifically about her absence from the WNBA following the 2008 season until she joined the Chicago Sky this year, it has not been publicized. “It’s never been printed,” she said. And she intentionally never had a formal coming-out.

“I never felt whether I’m gay, straight, bi, [or] whatever that my sexuality had anything to do with me as a basketball player, and I don’t think it necessarily has anything to do with me as a person,” she said. “If I was straight, I wouldn’t have to come out and say that I was straight. So I’ve never had an official coming-out, or something where I felt I had to announce that I was gay. But everyone knows. I wear my wedding ring proudly; I have matching tattoos with my wife, and also have her name tattooed on me. We go a lot of places [together] and I surely don’t hide it [that she’s my wife.]”

In this exclusive coming-out interview with Ross Forman, Zoll-Norman of the Chicago Sky tells of life as a lesbian, including her first appearance in a Pride Parade, when she rides on a bus in the annual Chicago Pride Parade on Sunday alongside her wife, Serita Norman.

(Looking forward to reading about the 300+ NCAA Division 1 Basketball Coaches marching is solidarity. And the Division II Coaches. And DIII. And NAIA. And WNBA…)

Speaking of coaches: someone’s cranky: Minnesota Lynx coach unhappy with her ‘big three’ star players

“My big three? If I’m using the last two seasons as a measuring stick, I don’t think they’ve come close to what they’ve been for us the last two years,” Reeve said.

About one of that trio: Dishin & Swishin 6/27/13 Podcast: Seimone Augustus embraces her role in Minnesota on and off the court

Off the court, Augustus has publicly embraced her position as a role model in the lesbian and gay community, talking openly about wanting to get married in Minnesota to her fiancée, and passionately discussing her happiness when Minnesota approved same-sex marriage.

On today’s podcast, Augustus talks about the 2013 Lynx, including candid comments about the lessons learned from their two road losses, at Minnesota and a disappointing performance in Los Angeles last weekend.

A story posted in the future notes: More ouches for Katie Douglas

Indiana Fever guard Katie Douglas will miss several more weeks of action due to a bulging disc in her lower back. Initially diagnosed after missing Indiana’s game at New York on June 5, she missed subsequent games against Phoenix, Connecticut and Washington. Additional testing this week revealed the need for continued therapy and rest.

Speaking of ouches, what are the current odds on Penny getting back on the court this season? Michelle says Penny Taylor sees silver lining

But Taylor knows, as difficult as it has been to be turned into an unwilling observer of a game she loves to play, that there was at least one silver lining.

She went home to Melbourne, Australia, for her rehab, allowing her to spend time with family, specifically her mother, Denna Noble, who was battling cancer. 

“In a way, this worked out that I was home for a really important phase in my life,” Taylor said. “Because if I was playing, there is no way I would have been there for this time. I would have been overseas, and that would have been really difficult.”

About the W’s Generation Next: From Nate: Alex Bentley off to a surprising start as Skylar Diggins and Brittney Griner start to find their rhythm

We’ll take stock of the top ten first (which is essentially the eight at or above average players and two others), but I think it’s fair to say that the Rookie of the Year race is already down to a predictable two players barring a dramatic improvement for a predictable third player.

From the WaPo: Can Brittney Griner pull the WNBA out of its doldrums?

After taking the women’s college basketball world by storm over the course of four dominant years at Baylor, Brittney Griner has tried to embrace her status as the new face of the WNBA, a league beginning its 17th season on the heels of a 2012 campaign that saw attendance hit record lows. She just never expected it to be such a grind.

Not only must Griner suit up for the Phoenix Mercury, but she also is carrying the league mantle off the court, with interviews and promotional appearances across the country. No matter the venue, she is supposed to deliver.

So far: Griner’s popularity reels in fans

Inside the arena, workers have the power tools out as players begin pregame warm-ups, installing another row of courtside seats to meet ticket demand. Meanwhile, Griner is taking pictures with more than half a dozen groups that bought blocks of tickets for the season opener against the Chicago Sky.

Let’s just call it the “Griner Effect.”

“She smiled, she talked to people, and it was a lot, much more than we usually ask the players to do,” Mercury public relations director Rebecca Clark said. “And she was happy to do it. There are times I feel bad asking her to do one more thing, and she just rolls with it.

Her ROY competition made sure her team rolled: Delle Donne, Fowles lead Sky past Liberty

It has been only nine games, but Elena Delle Donne and Sylvia Fowles are turning into a formidable offensive tandem.

Delle Donne scored a season-high 26 points — her ninth straight double-digit performance — as the Sky rallied from an early deficit on the way to an 87-74 victory over the visiting New York Liberty on Wednesday.

About that game, from L’Alien:

It wasn’t a coincidence that Pondexter and Mitchell were grabbing a quick breather when the Sky pulled out that lead – the Liberty desperately lack direction with those two off the floor – but a lot of New York’s problems this season can also be tracked back toPondexter. It feels like she’s jacking up far too many long jumpers, curling off screens and just firing away, and the numbers back that up. She’s always taken plenty of long two-point shots – the least efficient shot in basketball – even when she was a legitimate MVP candidate back in 2010. That’s acceptable when you can hit them at a half-decent rate. But so far this season she’s taken the barrage of long-twos to another level. Before this game against Chicago, she was 11-46 from 16-to-21 feet (in seven games). That puts her on pace to take 223 shots from that distance over the entire regular season. She took 152, 125 and 124 shots from the near-equivalent range over the last three seasons respectively (it’s not an exact parallel because the three-point line’s moved out this year, so it was 16-to-20 feet in the past). Her attempts near the rim are actually pretty similar to past years, but some of her mid-range twos have moved back, and some of her three-point attempts have stepped inside the arc. It’s not working. She’s shooting a poor percentage, and her turnovers are through the roof as well. It’s hard to tell how much of it is Cappie settling for the wrong kind of shots, and how much is Laimbeer’s offense setting her up to take too many in the wrong areas. It’s probably a little of both. But it’s something that needs fixing if the Liberty are going to win a decent number of games this year.

It’s an interesting observation, because I have heard Bill say the words (similar to) “Our offense is better when she’s working within it, not just jacking up shots. It may be that injuries are pushing Pondexter back to her old “me rescue you even if it kills us” mentality, or it may be there’s a battle going on between the two personalities. Keep an eye on this, y’all….

Gabe Salgado has A Locker Room Exclusive: My One-On-One Interview With Elena Delle Donne

In the case of Elena Delle Donne, she gives new hope to the third-largest franchise in the WNBA. Attendance at the Allstate Arena has increased, the fan base has grown and Delle Donne has given sports fans something to talk about.

Making things even better, the Sky are on pace to have their best season in team history. Currently they are 5-3 and in second place in the WNBA’s Eastern Conference, just two games behind Atlanta.

From Andrew Hartsock: Ex-KU star Angel Goodrich finding way in WNBA

It didn’t take Angel Goodrich long to learn the WNBA was a bit more rough-and-tumble than the brand of ball she played at Kansas University.

Just a few weeks into her pro career, Goodrich already has sat out one game nursing a sore knee, then most of a week — of practice, but no games — after suffering a concussion.

“It’s a lot faster, and the physicality … it’s a lot more aggressive,” Goodrich said, comparing the pro to amateur game. “Everything’s bigger and faster and stronger. But these are the top players in the country, and it’s great to be one of them, great to be a part of it.”

That was no sure thing.

An unheralded member of the WNBA team: Adelanto resident now the voice of WNBA’s Sparks

“I’ve been trained to commute,” said Bush, who has announced basketball games at Duarte High School and Pasadena City College for the last 15 years. “I’ve done about 50 or 60 games a year. Commuting isn’t an issue for your dream job.”

Bush said that announcing at Staples Center for the Sparks, not the Lakers, is in fact his dream job. He admitted that the WNBA might not be the premiere basketball league, but as a fan of the game and a longtime follower of women’s basketball, there’s nowhere he would rather be.

Speaking of the Sparks: WNBA star Lisa Leslie surprises campers, speaks about being better role models

From the College ranks:

*cue music* Under Pressure: Sydney Moss gets her release

A different kind of pressure: Former player says ousted OU women’s basketball coach pressured her over religion

A former Oakland University women’s basketball player who played for recently fired coach Beckie Francis has come forward to say she was the victim of religious intimidation and emotional abuse by Francis.

The former player, who grew up in a mixed-faith home, has practiced Islam her entire life, and she says Francis attempted to convert her to Christianity and obsessed over the player’s weight while she was playing at Oakland University.

The University Star has a Q&A With Zenarae Antoine, Women’s Basketball Coach

SR: Is good coaching when you have players buy into your personal system or base your system off their strengths?

ZA: That is a very good question. To me good coaching comes from a number of different things, it is the X’s and O’s, which is a big part of it. In addition to that, I think that you need to have the ability to relate to the current student athlete and enhance their skill sets. There’s a lot of different ways for coaches to figure out how to win. It’s the coach’s ability to be great a communicator. For things to move forward, coaches need to be able to recruit to a system that they like and they run and that works well for them. You look at some great BCS (Bowl Championship Series) schools and they just sign great players regardless of the system, those kids just make plays, and they’re freer in their system. My personal philosophy is that I like to recruit players to a system, but it’s important that I understand their limitations as well as their ability to blend together as a person, not just a basketball player.  

Nine for IX: ESPN Films’ screening of ‘Pat XO’

The roped-off area for the media and the orange carpet were clear signs that the midweek screening at a local theater wasn’t showing standard moviegoer fare. The film “Pat XO” debuted in an exclusive showing a short distance from where Pat Summitt cemented her career at the University of Tennessee.

The movie will debut across the country on July 9 at 8 p.m. Eastern on ESPN as part of the Nine for IX series – movies directed by women that focus on women’s athletics.

From M Robinson: FGCU coach Karl Smesko on the “Ackerman White Paper”, Part I: Rule changes

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1-3. Griner, Delle Donne, Diggins go 1-2-3

BG: OMG it’s TH! and Teary-eyed Brittney Griner selected No. 1 by Mercury in WNBA draft

EDD: Delle Donne happy to be part of Sky and from Delaware: Delle Donne drafted No. 2; headed to Chicago

SD: Notre Dame women’s basketball: Diggins headed to Tulsa

4Washington Mystics select Tayler Hill with fourth pick

5. Bone Sets Aggie Women’s Basketball History, First Aggie Selected in WNBA First Round

6. Storm selects Tianna Hawkins in WNBA draft

7. Oklahoma State’s Toni Young selected seventh by New York Liberty in WNBA Draft

8. Syracuse women’s basketball star Kayla Alexander picked 8th in WNBA Draft

9. Cal’s Layshia Clarendon selected ninth overall by Indiana Fever in WNBA draft

10Mathies selected 10th in WNBA draft

11. UConn’s Kelly Faris drafted 11th overall by the Connecticut Sun

12Lindsey Moore picked in 12th the WNBA Draft

Who else got picked:

K-State’s Chambers, KU’s Goodrich chosen in WNBA Draft

St. John’s women’s basketball sees first two players selected in WNBA draft in Nadirah McKenith and Shenneika Smith

Lady Lions’ Bentley and Greene Drafted to WNBA

No pressure: What’s next for star trio? Griner, Delle Donne and Diggins must play well, help WNBA continue to grow

Now it’s official: Nothing outlandishly bizarre happened. The 3 To See were the top picks in Monday’s WNBA draft. So let’s examine what lies ahead for Brittney Griner, Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins.

Is Big Bad Bill back?  Draft grades: Liberty score an A

New York coach/general manager Bill Laimbeer snagged a slice of pizza as he was on his way out after chatting with the media here at the WNBA draft. He passed on the brownies, though. It already had been a sweet-enough night for the Liberty.

Asked if the draft could have gone any better, Laimbeer grinned and said, “No, actually. We came into this draft with certain names on certain spots, and they went exactly as we expected.”

Fagan writes about Bill’s draft picks: Young motivated by late coaches – Forward rededicated self to game after OSU’s Budke, Serna died in a plane crash

“Potential” means you haven’t done anything yet — or so the saying goes.

Toni Young heard it a lot from coach Kurt Budke during her first two seasons at Oklahoma State. “Potential is just what you can be,” Budke would say to Young. Sometimes he might change the phrasing, but the point was always the same: Young had a long way to go.

 Every day, Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna tried to light a fire under the 6-foot-2 forward. They wanted Young to dedicate herself to improvement, instead of just skating by on raw talent, which she had in abundance. “They would tell me all of the time that I could be a great player and play in the WNBA if I just put my effort into it,” Young said Monday night, after the New York Liberty selected her with the seventh pick of the first round in the WNBA draft. “When no one else believed in me, the two of them did.”

Swish Appeal has a Q&A with Brittney Griner on her 2013 WNBA Draft experience

They also offer a little pick-by-pick analysis.

So does the Bleacher Report. They’re also Breaking Down Top Picks That Will Have Biggest Impact

Mechelle takes time to reflect: Before 3 To See, this trio starred – Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes and Rebecca Lobo helped pave the way

In the spring of 1997, when they were poised to be “three to see,” the irony was that no one had actually seen them play competitive basketball for a while. All had been on a break from the sport. The pro hoops world that Sheryl Swoopes, Lisa Leslie and Rebecca Lobo were about to enter was exciting, but uncertain. Would this WNBA thing actually last?

Leap forward to the Twitter generation. The expected top three picks in the WNBA draft — Baylor’s Brittney Griner, Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne and Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins — aren’t going into unchartered territory. The WNBA will start its 17th season in May.

From Chiney: Friendships make women’s basketball special

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