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With a hefty dose of W:

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Tulsa Shock

Well here’s the bright side – the Shock finally hired a coach who might know what he’s doing. Respected Indiana Fever assistant Gary Kloppenburg takes over, and all you can say is good luck Klopp. The first move he made was positive, sending loose cannon Andrea Riley (who could easily have been cut anyway) to Phoenix for veteran point guard Temeka Johnson. Any upgrade in talent is a good thing when you’re as bad as this Tulsa team was last year.

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Seattle Storm

Storm head coach and general manager Brian Agler pulled off an unusual feat this offseason – he traded away two established veterans for the #2 pick in the draft, and yet still managed to make this roster even older than last year.

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: San Antonio Silver Stars

It was a strange offseason for the Silver Stars. They added some veteran talent, potentially improved their depth significantly, got lucky in the draft in the eyes of many – and yet unless a longshot or two comes through, failed to address their key weaknesses from a year ago.

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Phoenix Mercury

Remember when I said Atlanta had a pretty poor offseason? Well Phoenix’s was probably worse. They kicked it off by trading their starting point guard, Temeka Johnson, for wild (and wildly inaccurate) gunner Andrea Riley. The one defensible reason behind that move was that it opened up plenty of extra cap space, but an effort to spend that cash on restricted free agent Erin Phillips didn’t work out when Indiana matched their offer sheet. The Mercury settled for the consolation prize of Minnesota’s Alexis Hornbuckle instead (who really isn’t anybody’s idea of a point guard)

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Minnesota Lynx

This one’s almost as dull as Connecticut. When you waltz through the regular season 27-7, then drop just one playoff game on your way to the first championship in franchise history, you understandably don’t want to change much. They cored Taj McWilliams-Franklin just in case she might’ve been affected by another bout of wanderlust, allowing them to re-sign their evergreen starting center. Rather more surprisingly, restricted free agent Candice Wiggins was also re-signed, despite widespread expectations that someone would throw a large contract at her that the Lynx wouldn’t want to match. The offer never seemed to materialise, so Wiggins decided to stick around and go for the repeat.

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Los Angeles Sparks

New coach, several new players, and hopefully for Sparks fans, the start of a new era in LA. The combined shambles under Jen Gillom and Joe Bryant last season has been consigned to history, and the reins have been handed over to former Atlanta assistant Carol Ross. As a nice little bonus for Ross, the Sparks beat the odds and ended up with the #1 pick in what most people saw as a one-player draft (at least they did once Griner, Delle Donne and Diggins chose to stay in school). That allowed LA to add Stanford’s Nneka Ogwumike, an extremely talented forward who should be able to help immediately. Eventually, they also accomplished the important task of re-signing centerpiece star Candace Parker to a new contract.

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Washington Mystics

At least there are some new names in DC, even if the general quality isn’t much different from last year. They let former franchise player Alana Beard walk after growing tired of paying her to be injured; shipped wing Marissa Coleman to LA for Noelle Quinn in the hope that both could benefit from a change of scenery; dumped Nicky Anosike on LA in a separate deal, this time for fringe backups Natasha Lacy and LaToya Pringle; sent last year’s first-round pick Victoria Dunlap to Seattle for backup center Ashley Robinson; and signed over-the-hill point guard Dominique Canty and consistently inconsistent veteran big Michelle Snow as free agents. And breathe. You certainly can’t accuse head coach/general manager Trudi Lacey of being inactive in trying to improve this team after the debacle last season.

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: New York Liberty

It was pretty quiet for the Liberty and their fans through most of the offseason. They re-signed Leilani Mitchell and added veteran Kelly Miller to help her at the point, which should keep Cappie Pondexter at shooting guard a little more consistently this season (although “Cappie, do something” will likely still be the solitary crunch-time play). They also eventually re-signed key backup Essence Carson, although it took a while and some of the fans were becoming a little nervous.

Then everything got a little weird.

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Indiana Fever

For a team that made very few changes during the offseason, there are still several question marks heading into training camp for the Fever. They kept point guard Erin Phillips by matching a restricted free agent offer sheet she signed with Phoenix, then traded last year’s starting power forward Tangela Smith to San Antonio for Roneeka Hodges. That was about it for meaningful offseason activity. Smith had a thoroughly terrible season in Indiana last year, and they traded her away to dump what had quickly become an ugly-looking contract, but it leaves a hole.

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Connecticut Sun

Well this one’s dull. Sun head coach Mike Thibault is so convinced that his roster is all set and that no one could break into his rotation that he used the 9th pick in the draft on a Malian 19-year old playing in the French second division.

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Chicago Sky

Well, being in Russia coaching Spartak Vidnoje certainly didn’t hinder coach Pokey Chatman’s WNBA activity this offseason. They made a big splash early, turning the #2 overall pick in the draft into Swin Cash and Le’coe Willingham in a deal with Seattle. The addition of proven veterans continued in free agency, as point guard Ticha Penicheiro and center Ruth Riley were both brought into the fold. Chatman also made a deal with San Antonio for the rights to Serbian forward Sonja Petrovic, who’s been playing for her at Spartak, and even she could be a useful addition if she can adapt to the WNBA game.

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Atlanta Dream

It’s not been the greatest of offseasons for the Dream. It started with assistant coach Carol Ross being stolen away by the Sparks to take over in LA, followed by backup point guard Shalee Lehning announcing that the knee injury that ended her 2011 season would in fact mark the end of her WNBA career, and backup post Alison Bales also deciding to retire from the WNBA. Brazilians Erika de Souza and Iziane Castro Marques will spend at least the first half of the season with the Brazilian national team preparing for the London Olympics. Erika was re-signed and is expected in Atlanta following the Games; Castro Marques remains an unrestricted free agent.

Free agency didn’t exactly result in a deluge of additions or improvements either.

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(What, are you crazy?) but, did I not mention Central Michigan was on a (freshmen) roll?

They take down Bowling Green, setting up an all-Michigan MAC final (first time for CMU since 1991) when they go up against Eastern Michigan, who took down Toledo, 59-57. This means you can catch a glimpse of Tavelyn James, a 5-foot-7 guard for the Eagles (and winner of the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award).

I’m thinking coach Cullop sticks around for the return of Shafir — but I wonder what happens after graduation. As for Bowling Green’s chance at the Dance? Lemme just say you couldn’t pay me enough to be on this year’s Selection Committee.

Oh, this could get ugly. The Mountain West finals pit San Diego State (24-6, 12-2) against New Mexico (11-19, 2-11), the first No. 7 seed to advance to the title game.

The #2 teams in the Southland went up against each others, and it was last year’s “darlings”, the McNeese State Cowgirls, earning their second strating invite to the Dance with their 60-56 win over Stephen F. Austin.

Cynthia Cooper’s old team, and Toyelle Wilson’s 2nd-year team, Prairie View A&M (16-15, 11-7 SWAC) upset Mississippi Valley State, 58-55, to earn a trip to the SWAC finals. They’ll face Alcorn State, who sorta upset Grambling State, 67-41.

Baylor is on a tear. Griner is, too. Loved this tweet from Mechelle: “Watching guards, especially, try to drive on Griner is like watching the unfortunate contestants on “Wipeout:” You know they’re doomed.” And this one after BG broke Andrea Riley’s  scoring record: “Griner new Big 12 tourney single-game scoring record with 45. She’s exited game. Rumor: Andrea Riley seeks game of HORSE, no dunks. :)”  In the Big 12 finals, the  Bears get to go up against a familiar, soon to be former, foe: Texas A&M. (With or without Tyra White.)

Oh, and here’s a little local commentary on Texas: Longhorns’ loss to Texas Tech dims future for team, coach.

You know, even if you took away EDD’s 21 points, they would have beaten Old Dominion. Not sure the Blue Hens would have survived without her 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocks.

The Pac 12 semis got all Big East-ish, with Stanford surviving Arizona State and Cal eventually pulling away from Washington State.

Whoops. Tulane washed away Memphis’ home court advantage, and now it’s the Green Wave sweeping in to the C-USA finals against UTEP, who buried the UAB Blazers.

Debbie and Beth would have liked this game: UNC Wilmington 94, Hofstra 87. Seahawks play the Hens next.

Long Beach (7-9, Big West) is getting upset-happy: this time they took down Cal Poly (12-4), 51-48. And lookee who they get to face! Gauchos, we have missed ye: UCSB (8-8). They’ve split the season games: 46-34 and 47-35. That’s what happens when the top five teams in the Big West tournament go flop.

My apologies to Utah State — I promise I’ll never mention you again. The Aggies (11-3, WAC) got upset by La Tech, 73-69. And boy, were they upset! Postgame handshakes turn to punches. (Was Debbie Black in the house?) Spoon’s crew will face Fresno State, who chewed right through the Vandals.

As expected, the MEAC finals will be a battle of the H’s: Hampton v. Howard.

Lucky Detroit gets to go up against Green Bay IN Green Bay in the Horizon finals.

Equally fun? Northern Colorado (11-5) taking on the the Idaho State Bengals (15-2) on THEIR home court in the Big Sky finals.

Patriot League finals are tomorrow: Navy v. Holy Cross playing for the right to face UConn (according to Charlie).

Check in with Charlie’s latest bracketology.

Oh, and I have another question for ESPN. Why, when I check out the Men’s Scores during Conference Championship Time, does the board default to “All,” but on the women’s side it defaults to “Top 25?”

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the Merc/Shock trade: Grading the Trade: Mercury swap starting PG for 4th-worst player in WNBA

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Cynthia Cooper got an up-close and personal look at EDD and, notes Mel, she’s impressed:

Cooper-Dyke was asked if Delle Donne could fit into the league now if she made the jump and responded, “She was a pro two years ago. Oh, yeah. She’s absolutely ready.”

The Shock and Merc exchanged short point guards. The Rebkellians aren’t impressed.

The peeps in Minny are still enjoying their Championship.

Parker Q&As with the Huffington Post on On Her Favorite Destinations, Playing In Siberia & Traveling With Kids

From SlamOnline: Video: Behind the Scenes with Angel McCoughtry – The Atlanta Dream star gives an all access look to her upcoming music video.

Latta To Become Parkinson’s Ambassador – Tar Heel great to raise awareness of the disease nationally.

“My father and my grandmother live with Parkinson’s, so I have seen first-hand the effects that Parkinson’s can have on an individual and on a family. This experience drives me to help other families touched by the disease.”

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Nate explains How The Tulsa Shock Got Their Second Consecutive Win Against The Connecticut Sun

After the Tulsa Shock’s 78-72 loss to the first place Minnesota Lynx last week, head coach Teresa Edwards said that it was [possibly their best performance of the year].

And yes, they definitely had showed signs of improvement.

But still, it’s hard to know what’s more surprising: that the Shock ended  their 20-game losing streak in Los Angeles on the back end of a back-to-back or the fact that they followed it up with an 83-72 win against the almost certainly playoff-bound Connecticut Sun on Tuesday.

Richard at WNBAlien also weighs in:

Well whaddaya know? A Tulsa win streak. It’s patently obvious that this team has benefitted from better coaching on how to play in this league, and from a tighter rotation. While it isn’t necessarily good to lose Betty Lennox due to a concussion, have Kayla Pedersen see very limited action due to either injury or coach’s decision (depending on which report you listen to), and have Cambage heavily restricted by shoulder pain, it’s allowing the players more rhythm and consistency. Edwards has also finally realised that playing Latta for as many minutes as she can survive is a vastly superior option to ever letting Andrea Riley see the floor. They actually look like they know what they’re doing on the floor, know where they’re supposed to be, and are prepared to go out there and execute. They might still be beaten by teams with more talent, but it’s becoming far rarer that they give games away through sloppiness and stupidity.

Mel gives the game a mention in his WNBA Report: Minnesota Wins The (Regular Season) West

Swoopes, meanwhile, was not through for the weekend after Friday’s heroics that resulted in the team presenting interim coach and recent Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Teresa Edwards with two autographed game balls.

Her second one came Sunday after Swoopes scored 22 points and Tulsa (3-25) rallied from a 15-point deficit in the third quarter to win at home against Connecticut 83-72.

It’s the third time in recent weeks that the Sun blew a double-digit lead they held in the third quarter.

The result enabled Tulsa to combine with the Chicago Sky (14-15) in for the moment holding up playoff-qualifying parties for the second-place Sun (18-11) and the first-place and idle Indiana Fever (19-9).

And yes, if I had any juice, I would have named Swoopes West Player of the Week.

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C&R watched the Huskies/Blue Devils game and wondered: How Did Duke Get to Be Number 3?

Mel was there, and writes: UConn Buries Duke With Opening Salvo

If one covers sports, no matter which types, and deals with coaches long enough, sooner rather than later they will tell you two things they don’t like to do is put an outcome of a closely fought contest in the hands of officials or place parts of their NCAA destiny in the hands of a committee.

No. 2 Connecticut inherently took care of both matters Monday night, blasting No. 3 Duke 87-51 in a nonconference matchup in the Huskies’ Gampel Pavilion before a near sellout crowd of 10,031 fans.

On the West Coast, Jayda notes: Washington guard Kristi Kingma wins Pac-10 weekly award

As good as Washington SG Kristi Kingma is, it’s hard to believe Monday’s announcement that she’s Pac-10 Player of the Week is a first in her career. But it is, the junior getting the nod after scoring a game-high 29 points in UW’s 64-52 win against cross-state rival Washington State on Sunday.

Sue at They’re Playing Basketball has news of the Riley trade to Tulsa.

Speaking of Cowgirls, at Swish Appeal, freelantz writes Bedlam – Oklahoma’s experience trumps youthful Cowgirls 82-77 and Q explains UConn’s Blowout Of Duke: Why McCallie’s Boxing Metaphor Is Perfect

I know very little about boxing.

And to some extent, I realize it’s odd – and someone once even told me stupid – for a writer to explain one sport with another sport.

But in searching for explanations for what happened in UConn’s 87-51 blowout of Duke last night, the boxing metaphor of how to roll with a punch and respond to it seems to work as well as any explanation I’ve seen anywhere.

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is harder than it looks: From the Tulsa World, Lynn Jacobson (who’s doing a bang-up job covering the W) writes: Former Cowgirl’s star dims in WNBA

Could coming home to Oklahoma be just the ticket Andrea Riley needs to jump-start her WNBA rookie season?

It certainly can’t hurt.

Carl Adamec writes: Charles’ adjustment to pro ball going well

“It’s tough,” Taurasi said. “But Tina looks like a 10-year veteran right now the way she’s playing. She knows her strengths and she plays so well in that low block. She plays with unbelievable energy and she’s relentless on every play and a lot of people don’t do that.

“She’s working at her game and out-working people and that’s why she’s having a great year.”


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