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Screwing with the constant “WEEEEEE’RE DOOOOOOOMED” narrative: WNBA’s 20th season produces strong numbers and ratings

NY Times: Quiet Protest Helped Tina Charles Find the Voice of Her Conscience

“Of course, as an individual, I do have goals to be one of the best players in the W.N.B.A.,” Charles said Thursday. “But when you reach a goal, nothing compares to the person you become along the way.”

Hartford Courant: Breanna Stewart: Transition From UConn Sheds Light On Gender Discrepancies In Athletics

Okay: Harry Potter and the WNBA Power Rankings cast

Aussie! Aussie! Don’t! Go! Phoenix Mercury guard Penny Taylor to retire at season’s end

One part elaborate marketing promotion, one part performance art and all parts exhausting, the season-long athlete retirement tour has seen a rebirth in recent years.

Derek Jeter earned half a year’s worth of #RE2PECT at ballparks across the country. Nike gave Kobe Bryant his own holiday. Forty-year-old David Ortiz is currently making his long trek around league, picking up plenty of interesting parting gifts along the way.

Indiana Fever star Tamika Catchings didn’t want anything of the sort. No elaborate branding campaign, no pregame ceremony celebrating her many accomplishments, no odd presents from opposing teams. Instead, Catchings, a league champion, MVP, 10-time All-Star and five-time Defensive Player of the Year who is going for her fourth Olympic gold medal, is flipping the script.

Like Jeter before her, Catchings is doing it her way, and her way means instead of honoring herself, she’s using her 15th and final go-around the league to give back. league’s 12 cities.

The argument for or against professional athletes being role models to the youth of today’s society has many different viewpoints, but when talking about Laney High School alum Tamera Young, she’s been able to utilize her platform as a veteran in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) to make an impact in the two communities she calls home.
The Sparks haven’t wanted for star power since Candace Parker arrived in 2008, but the team has struggled to capitalize on her greatness, topping out in the playoffs with a trio of conference final losses. That could change this year, however, thanks to an out-of-this-world breakout season by 26-year-old forward Nneka Ogwumike. Ogwumike has always been good, but she’s currently putting on one of the greatest single-season performances in WNBA history, and it has the Sparks finally playing like champions.
Yea! (but I would have been campaigning for a visit with Audra McDonald – swoon!) After a long social media campaign, WNBA rookie Imani Boyette finally met 50 Cent

NCAA:

Carp: Tennessee loses Carter, Cooper for upcoming season

Nice: West Virginia’s women’s basketball team exhibition to benefit flood victims

WATN? Former Hawkeye women’s basketball player Sam Logic hosts Camp 22 in Davenport

Did you catch this? Miami Women’s Basketball Coach Blasts Texas A&M

Miami women’s basketball coach Katie Meier was not happy with the sexist slides from the Texas A&M football women’s clinic, which have gotten the Aggies criticized nationally and led to the suspension of two staff members.

Last night, Meier blasted A&M on Twitter for the slides. She also expressed disapproval for only punishing offensive line coach Jim Turner and special teams coordinator Jeff Banks with two-week suspensions.

Keeping an eye on this: 3 black players file discrimination suit against Cottey College

NCAA & WNBA: Olympics: Double the coaching, double the threat

“Playing for both Coach Auriemma and Coach Reeve has been a blast,” said Moore. “They’re both very competitive, both very detailed oriented, but both enjoy the game, enjoy their teams, so I’m just getting double the coaching trouble here with having them both here.”

Bob Kravitz – WTHR/NBC: Fever’s Tamika Catchings prepares to say farewell to the Olympic world stage

“What are you doing?’’ I asked Tamika Catchings.

She was alone, sitting on the edge of a press-conference room stage, having previously done interviews with Indianapolis-area media members like your humble correspondent.

After a short round of interviews – and Tamika is the only Indy athlete who insists on hugging all members of the local media – she was alone. No national media talking to her. No international media talking to her. In fact, the press-conference room, which was filled for the U.S. men’s basketball team just one day earlier, was maybe one-sixth filled.

“Just hanging,’’ she said. “Waiting to go back (to the boat where the basketball teams are staying).’’

This is nuts. And this is wrong. And this is completely expected. 

USA Today: Serial survivor Seimone Augustus key for US women’s basketball team

Geno Auriemma’s team will be a prohibitive favorite in Brazil, befitting a group that has a 41-game Olympic winning streak and has won the last five gold medals. It is a roster overstuffed with big names and world-class stars, none of whom has a story quite like Seimone Augustus. Her basketball resume includes two national player of the year awards at LSU and a WNBA Finals MVP trophy with the Minnesota Lynx, and her health resume qualifies as a medical horror story.

“With all the stuff she’s been through, she has always stayed the same person,” said longtime teammate Diana Taurasi. “She’s has this even keel about her. That’s impressive. She’s (been) one of the biggest pieces of this team for a long time.”

Also: Seimone Augustus proud of WNBA player activism

USA Today: Elena Delle Donne outgrew gymnastics dream, targets basketball gold

Elena Delle Donne — who at 6-5 is a guard in a pivot player’s body and the pride of Delaware — brings her unique gifts to Rio, a 26-year-old Olympic rookie whose first five-ring dream, alas, never quite materialized. It was hatched in Atlanta 20 years ago, when young Elena watched from home in Wilmington as 4-foot-8 Kerri Strug stuck a vault with an injured ankle to help the U.S. women’s gymnastics team win gold.

“I wanted to be a gymnast,” Delle Donne told USA TODAY Sports with a laugh. “It was all about (Strug.) I should’ve known there was no chance.”

Yakima Herald: Bird, Stewart bring exuberance to US women’s Olympic basketball team

Breanna Stewart can tell you where she was, what she did, and how she felt when she got the call notifying her she made the 2016 U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team.

“You’re supposed to keep it under wraps, but the first thing I did was call my parents,” said the first-time Olympian of sharing the news while standing in the lobby of her Seattle apartment building. “My dad started crying on the phone.”

The Summer Olympics begin this week, and tales of poop-filled water, human body remains on the shore, petty crime, serious crime, terrorism with a topping of the Zika virus have beset the Rio Games.

Sign me up.

Star-Telegram staffer Charean Williams will be covering this event, Erin Phillips of the WNBA’s Dallas Wings will be playing for her Team Australia … and I am green with envy.

EVEN as Marianna Tolo fell to the floor in agony last August her mind started the mental mathematics.

She had just torn her ACL in her first season of WNBA basketball and yet the only thing that really mattered was the 2016 Rio Olympics.

One of the last two players cut from the London 2012 squad, Tolo has made a remarkable recovery to get back to the court in the nick of time.

“My first Olympics, we had players like Dawn Staley, Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes,” Bird said. “They showed us what it meant to be a part of USA basketball. How to carry yourself. How to play. How to play within the team. How to put the gold medal before anything else.

“… When you get older, you want to pass that on to the new crop coming in. Not only are you honored to be a part of the tradition, you want to make sure you’re keeping it up.”

Forty years ago this summer, a team of 12 women laid the foundation for the future of women’s basketball in the United States, competing as part of Team USA in the first-ever Olympic women’s basketball tournament at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.

There was no WNBA at the time, nor any professional women’s league in the U.S. at all. But for most of the group, this wasn’t their first high-stakes basketball tournament, as nine of the 12 women on the team had also played for Team USA at the Pan American Games the year before. Given the strength of the international competition, however, Team USA wasn’t expected to even qualify for the 1976 Olympics, let alone win a medal. But, led by coach Billie Jean Moore and co-captains Juliene Simpson and Pat Summitt (then known as Pat Head), they ended up going very far, eventually taking home the silver medal. 

For an inside look at the 1976 team’s historic run, The Huffington Post spoke with head coach Billie Jean Moore, players Nancy Lieberman, Ann Meyers and Juliene Simpson, who all played for the 1975 team, too, and Gail Marquis and Trish Roberts, who were newcomers in 1976. 

Along with athletes getting to know their counterparts from other nations, CISM also provides opportunities for officials to engage at the highest levels, Dinote said. “These can lead to training engagements down the road,” he added.

This week’s championship is the culmination of a “long process of trying to get women’s basketball on the map,” said Dinote, who also serves as secretariat of U.S. Armed Forces Sports.

Phelps was diagnosed with ALS in April 2015. Within six months he lost his ability to speak. In January, he was forced to eat and drink using a feeding tube.

But he continued officiating games around the state, using an orange hand-held whistle and LCD board to convey his thoughts if needed at the scorer’s table.

Players even took notice.

“It was a blast tonight, but being able to see Carl was even more amazing,” said Cache star Jamie Bonnarens, who delivered a personal letter to Phelps between games. “I got emotional before my game.”

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Around the games:

The Tennessee-Missouri game was tight. And then it got feisty. The Vols prevailed, but you’ve gotta wonder what kind of suspensions might be in their future.

An Old Big East matchup produces an upset: St. John’s vs. Seton Hall: Red Storm stands firm against #24 Pirates.

One team cracked under the pressure. It wasn’t the team I was expecting. One phenomenal backcourt got into foul trouble and was never quite the same. It wasn’t the backcourt I was expecting.

OT produces another upset. Villanova (6-7) takes down prohibitive New Big East favorite, #25 DePaul, 79-76. Why? The Blue Demons went ice cold at the end of the game and in OT, but they also shot 4-19 on threes and the Wildcats shot 7-13.

#17 Mississippi State held serve against #19 Georgia, 64-56. The Bulldogs are still undefeated, and the locals are noticing: While MSU men’s hoops struggle, women’s team surges

Two programs under third-year coaches host big-name opponents today at Humphrey Coliseum.

The similarities end there. They are two programs heading in opposite directions.

Mississippi State’s men’s basketball squad is 1-5 in its last six games. Meanwhile, the women’s team, led by coach Vic Schaefer, is 15-0, marking the best start and longest winning streak in school history.

Yup, Florida State is legit. Notre Dame turned a one-point halftime deficit (and a 9-point second half deficit) into a six-point win.

Losing senior Aleighsa Welch to a neck sprain (she’s okay) didn’t derail South Carolina’s dismantling of Auburn, 77-58.

Around the Conferences:

Penn Quakers: Women’s Basketball Eyes Big 5 Title vs Temple

 Penn will start 2015 with possibly the biggest Big 5 matchup in school history. The Quakers can clinch a share of their first-ever Big 5 title with a win over Temple at The Palestra on Monday night. The Red and Blue haven’t beaten the Owls at home in more than 15 years, but snapped a nine-game losing streak in the series last season at McGonigle Hall. Tip off is set for 7 p.m., and the game can be seen on the Ivy League Digital Network.

Pac-12 women’s basketball primer: Is Stanford still the favorite?

Scott Rueck isn’t sure if the Pac-12 is the most competitive conference in women’s basketball. 

But the Oregon State coach believes his league belongs in the discussion.

OSU women’s basketball: Beavers ready for competitive Pac-12 campaign

There’s no doubt the No. 13 Oregon State women’s basketball team is prepared for the upcoming rigors of a Pac-12 schedule that features numerous deep and talented teams.

So are several other teams thanks to some solid nonconference battles against ranked teams.

The conference showed well over the first part of the season with three Pac-12 teams knocking off top-6 opponents.

‘We’re playing to win the conference’: UMaine women’s basketball opens America East slate against Albany

There was a time not too long ago that facing the University at Albany might have been a daunting prospect for the University of Maine women’s basketball team.

And while the Black Bears have the utmost respect for the three-time defending America East champions, they are beginning to feel as though they’re very much in the same league as the Great Danes.

Well, carp:

Bowling Green State University women’s basketball student-athletes  Erica Donovan Lauren Webb  are expected to miss the remainder of the 2014-15 season due to injury, head coach  Jennifer Roos has announced. Both Donovan, a redshirt junior, and Webb, a freshman, were injured during the Falcons’ win at Illinois State University on Dec. 19.

Additionally, redshirt freshman  Leah Bolton will apply for a medical retirement with the NCAA due to recurring injuries, ending her BGSU playing career.

That’s one, by one: St. Peter’s over Rider, 50-49.

Also in the MAAC, looks like it might be a dog fight between Quinnipiac, Marist and… Canisius?

FGCU had to come back strong in the second half to defeat Harvard, 68-58. BTW, the Eagles will pick up Georgia transfer Sydnei McCaskill.

Clemson has not been good for a long, long time. But under first-year coach Audra Smith, they did come back from 11 down to take down Virginia Tech in OT. Keep an eye on the Tigers’ senior Nikki Dixon.

Well, well, well. The Cornell Bears stun the Penguins, 75-63.

Whoops! Looks like the WHB curse is in effect: Wichita St. over Indiana State, 63-52, as Alex Harden tied a WSU record with 11 (!) steals.

Worth a read and look: Sarah Kadazi from CBS Sports offers a lovely piece as she follows up with the Richmond Spiders: Healing in the Game:

The story begins here, where the glaring overhead lights bounce off the giant red spider down at center court. The Richmond Spiders women’s basketball team trots out, a mélange of braids, ponytails and curls bobbing in unison in front of 7,200 empty seats. It’s a late-October preseason practice at the Robins Center arena, and this is where the healing happens.

Here, a scolding about a missed defensive assignment is a reminder of the right now, a fixture in the normal. Five months ago, this tight-knit family’s fabric was torn, when two of its core members — associate head coach Ginny Doyle and director of basketball operations Natalie Lewis — embarked on a hot-air balloon ride and never came home. The wounds are fresh. The upcoming basketball season is long. Every second spent on the court is an act of resilience.

Around the country: Babcock McGraw: Top women’s sports stories

6. Magic moment: In January, shock waves hit the WNBA when the Los Angeles Sparks laid off their front office staff and suspended operations. A marquee cornerstone of the league, the Sparks had lost $12 million since 2007, including $1.4 million in 2013.

In February, Magic Johnson and Los Angeles Dodgers chairman Mark Walter partnered to buy the Sparks, saving the franchise, from relocation or contraction.

From Nate: The Best of Swish Appeal: The top 10 most popular women’s basketball stories of 2014

Most popular story overall: Becky Hammon makes her NBA coaching debut (Albert Lee)

 Most popular NCAA story: Daisha Simmons’ roommate Brittany Jack sharing her own experience at Alabama (Mike Robinson/Brittany Jack)

Atlanta Dream team executives eyes stake in Hawks

Two of Atlanta’s top business leaders and their wives — Kelly Loeffler and Jeffrey Sprecher, CEO of the Intercontinental Exchange Inc.; and Mary and John Brock, CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. — are exploring an ownership stake in the Atlanta Hawks.

Their main interest, however, is the Atlanta Dream — the local WNBA team — which is owned by Kelly Loeffler and Mary Brock.

From Swish Appeal: WNBA collective bargaining agreement posted at player website

Time-off bonus: These bonuses are granted to players who decide to spend some amount of time playing overseas which is less than or equal to 90 days.  (And remember, zero days is less than 90 days.)  This bonus is $50,000 for players and can be split among more than one players.  Teams can decide to increase or decrease these bonuses in subsequent seasons, but by no more than two percent of the time off bonus for the first year ($1,000).  They can also decide how many days they wish to limit the players receiving the bonus in spending time playing overseas – and that limit can be set at zero.

League minimums and salary caps:  With the 12 player rosters, league minimums and salary caps get a little hairy.

Finally: I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Muffet McGraw, but never on this topic: Not My Job: Coach Muffet McGraw Gets Quizzed On Tuffets

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