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Posts Tagged ‘Australian women’s basketball’

(And no, I’m not talking about me watching a record number of games yesterday…)

Catch and the Fever (not related to KC and the Sunshine Band… or Peter and the Starcatcher) arrived in Phoenix and gave the Merc a good rap on the head. In the process, Tamika moved into 2nd place on the all-time rebounding list and Phoenix went 0-13 on threes.

Yah, you didn’t picture that coming: Mystics topple WNBA-best Lynx behind Latta’s offense, Ruffin-Pratt’s defense

Washington Mystics Coach Mike Thibault had challenged his club’s moxie entering Sunday’s showdown with an opponent widely considered the favorite to win a third WNBA title in five years.

Later in the week, players talked about how a victory over the Minnesota Lynx could alert the rest of the league that perhaps the Mystics belong in the championship conversation as well.

And: How the Mystics beat the WNBA’s best team: Latta and Lawson

Both the Minnesota Lynx and Washington Mystics came into Sunday afternoon’s game with a lot on the line. With the best record in the WNBA, the Lynx would look for a win to help them secure home court advantage throughout the playoffs, and Washington would look for a critical win to help them stand out in a packed Eastern Conference. Ultimately, Washington would come out on top. 77-69

And: Stefanie Dolson finds her comfort level, and Mystics benefit

Washington center Stefanie Dolson came to training camp in May looking a little nervous. It wasn’t that she hadn’t prepared well for her second season in the WNBA, because she definitely had. It wasn’t that she didn’t have confidence in herself, because that’s steadily been building since her days at UConn.

Dolson simply wanted to show she was ready to be an integral part of the Mystics, but she was almost getting in her own way in her early practices.

The Sparks took down Chicago behind Parker’s monster game… making me think that Minnesota is saying, “Lose, Tulsa, LOSE (so L.A. gets the 3rd or 2nd seed.)

BTW: Girls Rule, Boys Drool, Elena Delle Donne and Michelle Beadle style.

In Seattle, the Storm hosted Russell Wilson

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson took a break from training camp on Sunday to attend the Seattle Storm’s 72-63 victory over the San Antonio Silver Stars.

Wilson attended the game with his girlfriend, singer Ciara, his mother and his sister, Anna, who is a point guard entering her senior season in high school. She has committed to play at Stanford.

Russell has said in the past that Anna can beat him one-one-one. He also has called her the best athlete in the family.

Oh, and they beat San Antonio, too.

There are two ways Jewell Loyd communicates — playing basketball and barking.

On Sunday, the No. 1 overall draft pick did a lot of postgame wolfing after leading Seattle to a 72-63 win against the San Antonio Stars at KeyArena. Loyd had a team-high 18 points with six rebounds, four assists and no turnovers.

“We’re trying to find the inner dog within us,” said Loyd of herself, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Markeisha Gatling forming the “Dog Pack.” Loyd began the season asking to not start and has since grown to be named July’s rookie of the month.

Filling out the field: Australia, Canada women’s basketball teams qualify for Rio Olympics

Also: Australia’s Opals off to Rio Olympics after win over New Zealand Tall Ferns

OPALS coach Brendan Joyce expected New Zealand to “grow an arm and a leg” and it did, pushing Australia to the brink in an 80-63 Oceania classic in Tauranga.

Don’t let the blow-out nature of the final score fool you – the Tall Blacks gave Australia as much as it could handle and arguably its toughest game of the past three years, the world championship clash against the US exempted.

But in the end, Joyce’s veterans Laura Hodges and Suzy Batkovic, plus budding playmaker Tessa Lavey ensured the Opals would be heading for another Olympic campaign and medal chase in Rio.

Also: Canadian women’s basketball team wins Olympic spot – Kia Nurse leads host nation with 20 points in final match

Couple of things about the game:

Hey, that’s my sis! Darnell Nurse inspired by sister Kia’s performance in basketball this summer

Darnell Nurse doesn’t know how he can keep up with his younger sister Kia.

Kia helped Canada win the FIBA Americas women’s championship on Sunday night, clinching an Olympic berth at the 2016 Rio Games. She was also instrumental in Canada’s gold-medal performance at the Pan American Games in Toronto earlier this summer.

“I’m not sure what I can do,” said Darnell, a defenceman in the Edmonton Oilers’ organization. “Maybe I’ll have to get out of my comfort zone and challenge her to a one-on-one game on the street before I leave for Edmonton. We’ll see, I’ve got a lot of practising to do.”

Asked if he’d played Kia at basketball recently, Darnell said that discretion had been the better part of valour.

More on the Canadians – and women’s basketball history: Grads’ influence on women’s basketball a dream for Canadian crew – National team did a decent imitation this week at Saville Centre

This isn’t the first time that Edmonton has seen this kind of dominance in the women’s game, but there are very few people still alive who saw it the first time.

With each day they spend in Edmonton, whether training out of the Saville Community Sports Centre or chasing a spot in next year’s Olympic Games, Canada’s women’s basketball team is breathing life into the 100-year-old legacy of the Edmonton Grads — even if that legacy is somewhat under the radar.

Speaking of Canada: Basketball leader recognized

To see Keith Brown coaching at a basketball tournament one would see a quiet reserved gentleman, not your typical coach. However, the passion he has for the sport of basketball is evident.

It’s this passion and dedication to girls’ basketball, and its growth in Grand Falls-Windsor (GFW), that has earned him the award of “Minor Coach of the Year” from the Newfoundland Labrador Basketball Association (NLBA).

During the last basketball season, Keith coached three junior high basketball teams!

Girls’ basketball has grown over the years.  Brown’s passion, knowledge and love of the game has been beneficial to the basketball program in GFW.

Three years ago, it was the East and West Coast teams that were dominating basketball. This past season, Brown brought the sport of basketball to a whole new level with several gold and silver medal wins between his three teams.

Speaking of history (MA): Pioneering Spirit Part I: First a Tiger, then a Friar, Ipswich’s Benirowski Canty ruled the court

The girls athletic programs at Ipswich also blossomed during that period, especially basketball under coach Kiki Papagiotis. She carved out a Hall of Fame career at the school by producing a 209-37 record, including a state championship in 1979-80.

Papagiotis did it with some extraordinary players, of course. Kathy Paganis, who was a field hockey All-American, was one of the keys for the dominant basketball team along with Ellen Galanis, who was the first Ipswich girl to net a college scholarship, ending up at Division 2 Bentley in Waltham. Both Paganis and Galanis graduated in 1977.

Then along came future Ipswich Hall of Famer Jayne Benirowski, who became Jayne Benirowski Canty after she was married. She was the baby of that group, if you will, a sophomore when Paganis and Galanis were seniors.

In NCAA news: In light of the “new violations” self-reported by UNC, Doc Kennedy of the Tar Heel blog is trying to Sort Through The Silly and the Specious of the Weekend

I readily admit I was among those who had consigned Hatchell to the dustbin, given the weight of the NCAA mess coupled with the mass defections from her program by the outstanding recruiting class of 2013. But other than rampant speculation and the lack of an extension of a contract on which three years still remain, is there any evidence that Hatchell is being scapegoated or sacrificed to save Williams or the men’s team?

An editorial in the News & Observer offers their answer: A double standard at UNC-CH over contracts for Williams and Hatchell

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is already facing enough allegations in its academic and athletic fraud scandal to make it one of the broadest sets of charges against an athletic program in NCAA history. Somehow, however, the university’s leadership has found a way to add an entirely new allegation to the mess – sexism.

Encouraging: NYC Vows 500 More High School Teams for Girls

Last spring, administrators at Beacon High School in Manhattan handed out a survey to students.

Rising sophomore Anjali Rao says no explanation or context was given for the questionnaire, which probed her school’s sports offerings and her sports preferences.

The survey didn’t seem like a big deal to Rao. “Beacon is known for its sports,” said the 15 year old in a recent interview at Women’s eNews’ office here. “Girls play the same sports as boys.”

But the information gained from it–due out this fall from the New York Department of Education–may help the country’s largest school system provide girls with more team sports opportunities at its more than 400 high schools.

In February, the U.S. Department of Education determined that many female students in the system did not enjoy equal athletic “opportunities,” a violation of Title IX, the federal law mandating that all schools with public funding provide equitable educational opportunities and benefits; sports included. (A participation opportunity is defined as a roster spot for one athlete on one team in one sport.)

Two shout outs:

  1. To friend, friend of the blog, friend of women’s basketball Phil, who is putting together an amazing “Coaches reaching milestone wins.” HUGE amount of work, but essential so folks across the Divisions and high school get the recognition they deserve
  2. To the folks who have signed up to join me at the Maggie Dixon Classic in the Garden on Monday, December 28th. We’re up to 100. If you want to come with, drop me a line: womenshoopsblog @ gmail.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yikes.

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

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

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

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

As to the Gold medal game:

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

Photos and extra quotes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the Chicago Tribune:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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to a pretty glorious day, no?

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

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

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

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

Not to worry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Over at the Examiner, it’s Mike Peden

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

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

The Sporting News’s Sean Deveney:

It is as if Sue Bird knew what was coming.

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

It did not disappoint.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Behind on the scoreboard.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kelli Anderson at Sports Illustrated writes:

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

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

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

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

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

Some fun shots of the game at the Sacto Bee.

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

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

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

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

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

Yah, you predicted that final. Not.

From Doug:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Shhhh, I’m reading!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two pieces from SlamOnline:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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1996: VanDerveer leads U.S. women to ’96 gold

At Stanford, Tara VanDerveer and Jennifer Azzi helped transform women’s basketball from a virtual club program into a headliner and a must-have ticket at Maples Pavilion. Of course, two national championships and a pipeline of outstanding talent perpetuated the success and the popularity of the game at Stanford.

But on a national or international scale, women’s basketball had not quite caught up to what was happening in the college game, at least in pockets like Stanford. The U.S. women’s team had produced a series of disappointing results heading into 1996 – bronze medals in the 1991 Pan Am Games, ‘92 Olympics and ’94 world championships.

With the 1996 Olympics to be held in Atlanta, a concerted effort was made to raise the profile of the women’s team, which paled in the public’s imagination to the resounding success of the 1992 men’s Olympic team – the “Dream Team.”

No, really, I mean it — read Tara’s Shooting from the Outside and Sara’s Venus to the Hoop. The games don’t start for a few days. You have time, and it’ll give you a truly rich understanding of what’s going on in London.

1997: Nothing like the Reign – The Seattle Reign 1997 (Look! It’s Tari, Tari, Tari! She must be psyched about her cousin, Tayyiba Haneef-Park)

Flash forward, from FIBA’s Paul Nilsen: Thinking of Sanchez when The Games begin

When the eagerly anticipated Olympics finally swing into action later this week, my thoughts won’t only be with those ready to step out in London but also those who missed out – and none more so than Argentinian legend Carolina Sanchez.
 
Four years ago, when Argentina failed to punch their ticket for Beijing, it was a painful experience in more ways than one for the veteran. A broken nose caused a premature exit from the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament and rubbed an unnecessary dose of salt into a deep emotional wound.
 
And, perhaps even more agonising and disappointing than what she endured in 2008, was the way in which she recently bowed out of international basketball altogether last month.

More from Paul and FIBA: Serbian straight talking from Jokovic

Even accounting for the cynics who will hint at political motivations whenever representatives of any Federation speak, Jokovic is direct, very much matter-of-fact and that’s a hugely appealing quality.
 
“I suppose that we have started repairing the long-term consequences of inaction and the neglect of women’s basketball,” she admitted.
 
“We have improved the financial situation, set up the system, laid the foundations to build something that we will all be proud of.
 
“But, it takes maybe two Olympic cycles of serious work to get closer to our former successes.

A great tweet from Paul: Paul Nilsen@EuroLeagueWomen

I’ve no time for the bigotry, prejudice and intolerance shown towards our women players. You know who you are. Shame on you. You’re blocked!

Paulo Kennedy: Will the Opals be first class?

Julio Chitunda: What next for Mali?

From Doug: US coaches not marching in Olympic ceremony

Don’t expect to see Geno Auriemma or Mike Krzyzewski marching with the U.S. delegation Friday night at the opening ceremony.

They aren’t allowed because Olympic organizers decided to cut down the number of people marching to shorten the ceremony.

“It really was something special to do, but to be honest the Olympics are about the athletes,” Auriemma said. “No one really remembers who the coaches were. No one remembers who coached Jesse Owens.

“I’m OK with it. The focus is, as it should be, on the athletes. They are the ones who got here and deserve the attention and praise.”

Important tweets from Doug:

With Ichiro’s trade to the Yankees; Sue Bird is now the longest tenured athlete in Seattle sports.

Turkish women’s basketball team got a strong sendoff to its first Olympics. Music blaring and 70 members of hotel staff waving Turkish flags

Just the stats, m’am: Cumulative stats from USA Basketball.

Also from USA Basketball: USA Women’s National Team Ready To Roll Into London

Geno Auriemma (head coach, USA and University of Connecticut)
Is this team shaping up to look as you expected? Yeah, I think so. We just talked a little bit about how we can’t be great at everything because we just don’t have the time to be great at everything. If we did have a couple months together, we could be great at everything because the collection of players that we have is phenominal. But the things that I thought we’d be good at, we are very good at. The flexibility that we have, the versatility that we have with this team is exactly what I thought it would be. The leadership is exactly what I thought it would be. People buying into their roles is exactly what I thought it would be. So yeah, the only downside is I wish I had three months with these guys, even three straight weeks, because it would be a lot of fun to watch.

Oi! Some Aussie video with LJ.

From Swish Appeal: 2012 London Olympics Preview: Turkey

From Lee/Full Court: London 2012: Russia — As usual, an enigma

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(in no particular order, but I’m sure one of the scores will give folks a, “Really?” moment.)

Opals down Czech Republic in basketball

Hungary beat Opals

Tall Ferns topple London-bound Angola

Opals down Czech Republic

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Cambage out of shape ahead of tip-off

Her Bulleen Boomers coach Tom Maher was dismayed when his best player arrived home overweight and out of shape ahead of the WNBL season tip-off on Friday.

Both say it will take about a month before she is back to her best.

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Lauren Jackson injures Achilles

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on “the next big thing:” Bulleen returns to winning ways

The contest between the two players shed some light on Cambage’s WNBA chances as she was able to use her height to get position on Walker, but struggled to defend her one-on-one.

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The Czechs did their fans proud, even though they lost by 20. And the crowd certainly did their players proud.

The game was close until that moment the announcers kept referring to. It was a three-point US lead, and then suddenly, a couple Diana 3’s and a Bird two and some fastbreak points, and the US had surged to an insurmountable 20pt. lead — redemption.

From Doug:

Tamika Catchings couldn’t stop smiling as she hoisted the world championship trophy over her head.

The lone blemish on her remarkable U.S. women’s basketball career was now a memory.

Catchings, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi redeemed their third place finish at the 2006 worlds, leading the Americans to an 89-69 victory over the host Czech Republic on Sunday night.

Writes Voepel:

A game that was close at halftime didn’t stay that way, as the Americans’ powerful third quarter gave them all the edge they’d need in what ended as an 89-69 victory. Over the course of 11 days, Team USA went 9-0 and played some really breathtaking basketball in stretches of every game. There were no contests that were lackadaisical or sloppy, even when Team USA had insurmountable leads. Only Australia in the second round came within single digits of the U.S. squad, losing by eight.

It was as if the Americans were giving nine performances on stage, and tried to make each and every one as good as possible.

Lee at SPM writes: US Women Reclaim World Basketball Championship with 89-68 Victory over Czech Hosts

You kind of had to ask yourself, “Who won?”

Okay, there was the scoreboard, if you could make it out behind the sea of Czech flags, clearly proclaiming, “USA 89, Czech Republic 69.”

But you really couldn’t tell it on the court.

US Basketball couldn’t resist the pun: USA Cashes In Czechs 89-69 For Gold Medal, 2012 Olympic Berth

“I thought the Czech team played with so much heart and so much passion and they’re so smart,” said USA and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma. “Every time you make a mistake, they make a basket. I can’t tell you with how impressed I am with coach (Lubor Blazek) and his style of play. That was the best team we played in the entire tournament, without question. We’re fortunate to be world champions. I know my players worked really, really hard. To do it here, in the Czech Republic, against the Czech national team, in front of an unbelievable crowd. The crowd last night was incredible and tonight was just as good. I think it makes this win even more rewarding because of who we had to beat and where we had to beat them.”

Photos and quotes.

What statement did this make to the rest of the world?

Sue Bird: I think it really speaks to the talent, the amount of talent that we have in the U.S. I mean, here is a team filled with great players, and if you think back to the Olympics, we are missing two people who were in our top seven. When you look at some of the players that got left off this roster that could of made it, it just really speaks to our depth. I think that is why we are able to beat teams the way we did. We just kind of wear them down with our depth.

Doug seems to agree: All looks bright for US women’s basketball team

“I think we knew when we started this, the thought was that this was a transition period,” Auriemma said. “When you think of Lisa Leslie, Tina Thompson, Sheryl Swoopes and Katie Smith, that’s a group that had been together for quite some time. We were left with three people that were on that team. We knew we had to build it back up again. We weren’t sure how long it could take.”

The answer: not very long at all.

Mel says, USA “Conn” Job Leads To FIBA Gold Medal And World Title.

As the Aussies hope to regain their sparkle in 2012, Tully says “No more,” and Carrie says, Choose WNBA or Olympic gold: Opals coach

Meanwhile, Spain celebrates bronze, Canada is disappointed, and the French finish sixth.

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From Mechelle: Even in rout, Team USA is relentless – U.S. women remain the favorites, but that hasn’t given them false confidence

All that today’s American women’s players know of putting on a USA jersey is this: They’re supposed to win. Not that they will win, or that the process will be easy. Just that it’s expected. Heck, it’s practically required.

But there was a time, before these players were born, when the United States wasn’t a favorite in international women’s basketball. In the four world championships from 1964-75, in fact, the Americans didn’t even win a medal. Once, they actually finished last.

In the other games, Spain almost tumbled and Australia and Russia did.

Mechelle calls it “Freaky Friday.” Two powerhouses fall at world

Call it “Freaky Friday” at the FIBA World Championship. Not for the United States, but for the two squads that entered this tournament as the Americans’ top challengers.

The two teams that met in the 2006 world championship final — Russia and Australia — will leave the Czech Republic without a medal after both countries were knocked into the consolation bracket after quarterfinal losses on Friday.

The day started with Belarus, once joined with Russia as part of the Soviet Union, upsetting the Russians, who are ranked second in the world behind Team USA. The 70-53 win was especially notable because of the margin of victory.

Then, after the Americans crushed South Korea 106-44, host nation Czech Republic provided the day’s second stunner, again by double digits, with a 79-68 win against Australia.

Doug writes:

The U.S. women’s basketball team has been running through the world championship, blowing past everyone.

As if the Americans weren’t having an easy enough time, the road to an eighth title got a lot less difficult with losses by defending champion Australia and Russia. Not getting a chance to face the team that knocked them out of contention for a gold medal in the 2006 worlds didn’t seem to bother the Americans.

“There’s no sense of disappointment where revenge goes,” said U.S. forward Tamika Catchings, who was on the team that lost to Russia four years ago. “Our goal is to win the gold medal. We’ll have to face a lot of teams. We got one more tomorrow then we’ll focus on Sunday after that.”

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ESPN.com news service tag.

AP article by Doug:

For one of the rare times, the United States faced Australia in the world championship without much at stake.

ESPN.com news service:

For one of the rare times, the United States faced Australia in the world championship without much at stake.

I wonder if ESPN’s contract with AP allows them to relabel Doug’s work, making it look like it’s theirs.

Doug’s got a revised/reworked/updated version of his game article, even though the headline at Yahoo Sports is the same.

The U.S. appeared in control and built an 18-point halftime lead before 6-foot-8 Australian center Liz Cambage, who finished with 18 points, took the game over in the second half.

“My guess is that we need to go back and find out how it got the way it did in the first half and why it was the way it was in the second half,” U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said.

Tara and Lee are still working hard providing original content at SPMagazine.

U.S. Takes Early Lead, Outlasts Australia for 83-75 Win

Game photos.

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Yah, it didn’t “mean” anything, but we get this Doug’s game article: Taurasi leads US women to win over Australia

“It’s not in my nature or USA basketball’s nature except to try and win this game and do what we had to do to win this game,” Auriemma said. “There’s no guarantee we’ll play them again. We wanted to play tonight’s game to win.”

Crowd: 6,340. Nice.

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James Dampney says, JT desperate to dominate, but Taylor steals the show

Opals coach Carrie Graf believes captain Lauren Jackson is trying a little too hard as she attempts to dominate the women’s basketball world championship in the Czech Republic.

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and Jayda:

On to the next: Storm players face each other on world stage

and

Storm 2010 WNBA Championship gear on sale Wednesday

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rather handily, 93-51,  and there are 14 finalists left for the Worlds team.

By the way, the Opals enjoyed Penny’s playing and defeated Spain.

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I don’t want to be practicing in R, W &B tomorrow…. USA Women’s National Team Drops Exhibition Contest To Australia, 83-77

“I thought our defense was nowhere near as good as it was when we played (Australia) in Hartford,” said USA and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma. “I thought our energy level was way below where it needed to be, and I was really disappointed in our rebounding and how many times we would get a stop and they were able to continue the possession by getting an offensive rebound. They are an excellent freethrow shooting team, and we put them on the freethrow line. So, we gave up threes, we put them on the freethrow line and we gave them second shots. Anytime you do that against a team, especially a good team, you’re not going to win the game.”

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Spain Defeats Australia, Alba Torrens Scores 14

Amaya Valdemoro led Spain with 22 points. Anna Montanana added 15. Jenna O’Hea led the Aussies with 24 points.

Alba Torrens, 21, the 6-2 forward who may join the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun next season, scored nine straight points at the end of the first and start of the second quarter to give Spain a 29-15 lead.

From Trading Markets (?!) Moore Has Role And Appel Looking To Secure One For U.S. Women

p_d_swanson at Rebkell offers up the FIBA rosters for several national teams.

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but Doug gets first crack (IIRC, AP writers are expected to file 15 minutes after the end of the game.

Moore and Lawson help US women rout Australia

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So, the great game blogging experiment begins:

SO, here’s the GAME SCORECARD starting line up –

US

Augustus
Lawson
Catchings
Moore
Charles
Appel
Harding
Montgomery
Hoffman
Jones
Whalen

Coaches: Auriemma, Bruno, Jen Gillom

Australia

Phillips
Beilaqua
Sceen
Poto
Richards
Grima
Harrower
Summerton
Snell
O’hea
Cambage
Tolo

Carrie Graf coach, Peter Buckle and Phil Brown are assistants.

Title de jour: Physiotherapist – Graeme Backen

In transit and not scheduled to appear tonight: Diana, Cappie, Candice

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WNBA Playoffs Keeping Some USA Basketball Players Busy

The intersecting worlds of women’s basketball will never be more apparent to Connecticut fans than this week.

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Oi! Oi!  – Chat with Penny Taylor tomorrow, 3:30 ET. Submit more questions than I do… I dare ya.

Don’t forget Mechelle’s chat at 2pmET. And don’t even try to send in more questions than me. Ya can’t do it!

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from Yahoo Sports: Leslie, Bevilaqua show best of an evolving WNBA

Despite their differences, Bevilaqua and Leslie, both 38 years old, represent the best of the beginning of the WNBA. They joined the league in its infancy – Leslie was the seventh pick in the first WNBA draft and Bevilaqua joined in 1998, its second season – and helped it mature.

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Ois? Ois?

From Odeen Domingo of the AZCentral.com: Mercury’s Penny Taylor and Storm’s Lauren Jackson share Australian connection — Australians have crossed basketball paths since age 11

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