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Welp – I guess the cream of the West showed the Challengers of the East, huh?

Fare-the-well:  Inside The W with Michelle Smith

Swin Cash was on a conference call for the WNBA on Monday morning, talking with reporters in conjunction with Tuesday night’s nationally televised game between the Sparks and Liberty, which is an anniversary rematch of the first-ever WNBA game back in 1997.

She was, as always, a passionate, eloquent advocate for the league, a veteran spokeswoman for her team, and as it turns out, a soon-to-be-retiree.

Cash announced Tuesday morning via a personal essay for The Players Tribune that she will be ending her decorated WNBA career at the end of the 2016 season.

Social Reaction: Swin Cash’s Retirement

Film Room: Running Down a Dream

Candace Parker Provides Perfect Spark

Crap: Chicago Sky loses guard Laney to season-ending knee injury –

WATN? WNBA star Nicole (Ohlde) Johnson: Never give up

NCAA

“In the recent months, there have been accusations and false attacks made of my character and coaching,” Swoopes said in a statement released by a public relations firm. “I stand proudly in my values, actions and intent of representing the best interests for students — as athletes, but more importantly as individuals.

High/Middle School

Thank you : Master at his Craft: Longtime Collinsville Middle School girls basketball coach retires

After 30 years and more than 600 victories as a girls basketball coach at Collinsville Middle School, formerly North Junior High, Greg Craft is calling it a career.

Craft, 55, retired in May as a science teacher and coach. More than anything, he will miss the relationships he’s built with players during the last three decades, and it’s that aspect of retirement that has Craft not ready to completely say good-bye.

WBHOF

June Courteau first heard an official’s whistle while growing up in Minnesota, specifically when she exceeded the three-dribble limit during a high school physical education class. Her reaction was swift and pointed.

“I told the teacher ‘that’s stupid,’ ” she said.

Courteau undoubtedly has been on the other side of such a comment. She has 45 years worth of experience in officiating. She worked for decades on the court in the heat of the moment. She now oversees such work as the NCAA coordinator of officials.

It’s hard to separate Natalie Williams the basketball star from her volleyball alter ego. This weekend’s festivities in Knoxville will constitute a supreme effort in that regard.
Since she was on a basketball scholarship at UCLA, Williams considered herself to be a volleyball walk-on. She was a four-time All-American walk-on (1989-1992) who helped lead the Bruins to volleyball national championships in 1990 and 1991. She was the first woman to receive All-American honors in both sports in the same school year (1992-93).

Sherri Coale, in her own words
Summitt’s stand re-launched OU women’s basketball, and ignited a Hall of Fame coaching career
Friends and Foes: Conradt, Sharp Reflect on Coale
Sherri Coale has been model of consistency at Oklahoma

The AAU girls basketball tournaments that span age groups and take place throughout the country serve to promote the sport. They also honor and preserve the legacy of Bill Tipps.Eddie Clinton is involved with the AAU program in West Tennessee and benefitted from Tipps’ assistance as the organization’s national chair. Clinton saw firsthand Tipps’ people skills and diligence in action. “It was a labor of love for Bill,” Clinton said. “Whatever it took to build girls basketball, he wanted to do. Girls basketball would not be what it is today without Bill Tipps.

“We’re girls and we just want to have fun,” said 90-year-old Mary Wersells, the first girls’ basketball coach at Simeon High School as she reflected on the history of the sport.

Nearly four decades ago, Title IX was enforced which prohibited discrimination against female athletes. This opened the doors for pioneers in Chicago like Wersells and 81-year-old Narcissa Roberts, who became the first girls’ basketball coach at Corliss High School in 1973.

INTERNATIONAL
Library Additions: 
Rise and Fire by Shawn Fury. Writes Shawn:
The book basically traces the jump shot’s influence on the game from the time of its introduction to today’s dominance of the 3-pointer. But along the way I take a lot of detours and one chapter focuses on the 1968 Iowa girls title game. It featured the shooting exploits of Jeanette Olson and Denise Long. I write about both players and that famous game and then of course about Denise being drafted by the Warriors. It was my editor’s favorite chapter in the book and several reviews have noted it, including the Washington Post’s.

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Which was the theme from last night’s Sun-Mercury game. What on earth is going on with Phoenix? How on earth could the game against a thoroughly depleted Connecticut have been so close? And, really, what amazing heart have the Connecticut players shown this year? No quit. Has anyone done more with less than Donovan? On the bright side: Who are the WNBA front-runners in Breanna Stewart sweepstakes?

Speakin’ of the Merc: Obama Trash-Talks Phoenix Over Beating Chicago Sky in WNBA Finals

Speakin’ of doing more with less: Playoff berth within reach for Vicki Baugh, Shock as Los Angeles Sparks visit

So, tonight the Garden hosts the two top seeds: Minnesota and *gulp* New York. Seems to me the storylines are: Are the Lib legit and are the Lynx Losin’ it?

Considering the Lynx (19-9) will enter Friday’s game at New York with the best record in the league, one could say that their issues are the equivalent of “first-world problems.” But there are reasonable concerns. When a team knows how good it can play and then falls short of that a few times, there is bound to be a little worry.

From the New York Post: Lots at stake when Liberty give MSG possible WNBA Finals preview

Who says Madison Square Garden goes dark in the summer?

On Friday night (7:30; MSG), the Garden will host a possible WNBA Finals preview, when the Eastern Conference-leading Liberty meet the Minnesota Lynx — the top team in the West — in a pivotal game considering how narrow New York’s lead is in the East.

From Doug: New York and Minnesota set for matchup of WNBA Conference leaders

Bill Laimbeer and Cheryl Reeve are downplaying the significance of Friday night’s game between the WNBA’s conference leaders.

As Minnesota’s coach put it, “it’s a chance to add another ‘W’ in the win column. There’s no championship being won. It’s just a chance to get better.”

Laimbeer also said that there’s no added meaning to the game besides a chance to further distance New York from the rest of the East.

“Every game is important this time of year,” the Liberty coach said.

It almost sounds as if the two longtime friends coordinated their answers.

From Hardwood Paroxysm: How the New York Liberty Became the WNBA’s Best Defense

Swish Appeal: What is the secret to the Liberty’s staggering success?

BTW: Be sure to follow  and tonight during vs. , when will be live from MSG.

.com: How Elena Delle Donne’s Spectacular 2015 Season Stacks Up in WNBA History

From USAToday: Meet the secret to Elena Delle Donne’s success

When Cappie Pondexter arrived at the Chicago Sky through an offseason trade, she didn’t only bring a veteran scorer who is deadly when given half a step to drive into the lane. She brought a new element to third-year star Elena Delle Donne’s game: A voice that’s in the WNBA MVP candidate’s ear – all of the time.

The voice is telling her to be there on help-side defense. To get a rebound and go and attack. The voice even provides in-game tips, like telling Delle Donne to use her pull-up jumper when she’s not getting calls at the rim.

From the San Antonio Current: Stars Guard Jia Perkins On Being A Baller – And Pro Mom 

It was clear early on that Jia Perkins would make her life all about basketball.

And after turning into a well-respected player at one the country’s women’s basketball powerhouse college teams, her chances to go pro looked real good.

Then, in her senior year, she got pregnant.

In her mind, the news surely meant that those chances of making it in the Women’s National Basketball League had dramatically dwindled. At best, she thought, she’d have to search out teams later for tryouts.

But it never came to that.

Swish Appeal: A Life Inspired: Jessica Breland’s heart-stirring ascension

ESPN: DeLisha Milton-Jones hits milestone, ready for more and the AJC:Milton-Jones ties mark as Dream win

DeLisha Milton-Jones has seen a lot in her 17 seasons in the WNBA. If the Dream keep playing the way they did in Tuesday’s 71-57 victory over Connecticut, she thinks they can make a push for the playoffs.

“We have the talent, we can score with anybody in this league,” said Jones, who tied Tina Thompson’s record Tuesday with her 496th appearance in a WNBA game. “When we execute our offense and hunker down defensively and execute our game plan, we have a very good chance of putting ourselves in position to have a playoff push.”

Ad on: The Iron Woman

With the exception of time off due to injuries—knee in 2004 and Achilles tendon in 2014—Milton-Jones has been a WNBA mainstay for 16 years.

“It takes a completely dedicated commitment to keeping yourself healthy and staying in optimal shape and having a huge passion to improve upon yourself every off season,” she says. “I don’t know if many people are committed to making that type of sacrifice.

.com: White’s Steady Leadership Guides Fever into WNBA Spotlight

White, who spent five seasons as a Fever player and eight years as a WNBA assistant, is expected to be a solid candidate for league Coach of the Year honors.

“If she’s not, I think people are undervaluing what she’s done here,” said Kelly Krauskopf, the Fever’s president and general manager. “I think what she has done is a phenomenal job for a first-year pro coach with a lot of high expectations.”

Speaking’ with Steph: Dishin & Swishin Podcast: White has Indiana in great position for a deep playoff run

Rob Knox: Chicago Rookie Betnijah Laney Out of Rutgers Enjoys Being a Student of the Game

Today’s Fast Break has their WNBA Hidden Gems: Impact 2nd-Round Picks in 2015

The second round of the WNBA Draft is what separates the die-hards from the casuals. With most of the superstar talent almost certainly off the board by the 13th pick, this is where WNBA GMs show what they’re made of. It’s also where avid fans of both the college and professional game eagerly comb through possible “sleeper picks,” hoping that their team will pick up an overlooked player who will blossom into a star.

There’s good reason for this. Going back as far as 2010, at least three players selected in the second round of each draft are still on a WNBA roster. Of those players, six have become All-Stars, and we’ll likely be seeing a pair of All-WNBA selections in Emma Meesseman and Alex Bentley (2013 draft) sooner rather than later.

While the 2015 WNBA Draft was predicted by analysts to be weaker than some of its predecessors, a case can be made that its talent was simply more spread out. Even though none of this year’s second-round picks have put up eye-popping per-game statistics, several of them have still made valuable contributions in their rookie seasons, and will now look to stick around and establish themselves as household names among the more casual WNBA fans. Let’s take a look at a group of 2015’s second-rounders who’ve made an impact this season.

NCAA:

Happy thoughts in Austin: With former Olympian as new assistant coach, Texas women’s basketball poses serious threat

South Carolina: Sarah Imovbioh wants to be a part of something special at USC

Kevin Slaughter and Will Griffin crossed paths due to basketball and their love for impacting kids in their respective communities. Slaughter, a proud South Philadelphian and former high school basketball standout, has been connected to the sport for years.

Griffin, a West Philadelphia native, is well known throughout the community for his work, specifically at Lea Cultural Recreation Center adjacent to Drexel University’s athletic fields.

Unfortunately, basketball is not the only thing that bonds to the two. Through their own personal encounters with tragedy, Slaughter and Griffin have been inspired to ensure the lives of their relatives are honored, using basketball as the means to celebrate and create awareness.

New Jersey: Life of Nazerah Bugg Remembered through Basketball Tournament

The first annual Nazerah’s Hoop Dreams All Girls Basketball Tournament held over the past weekend at Tyrone Collins Memorial Basketball Courts, concluded with hundreds of spectators.

Nazerah Bugg, 14, was a dedicated basketball player at Kennedy High School that was tragically shot and killed on Sept. 20, 2014 while leaving a local eatery place.

Jamal Ramsey from Nazerah’s Hoop Dreams Foundation stated, “We keep her name alive and do it for the community. This tragic event we turn it into a positive.”

Xavier, Mount St. Joseph to hold Lauren Hill Tipoff Classic

The legacy of Lauren Hill and the fight to raise funds for pediatric cancer will continue with an annual women’s basketball classic at Xavier.

Division I Xavier and Division III Mount St. Joseph will open their respective seasons Nov. 14 at Cintas Center in the first Lauren Hill Tipoff Classic.

Xavier hosts Evansville at 1 p.m. that Saturday, and Mount St. Joseph plays Hiram College 30 minutes after the first game’s conclusion. The doubleheader will be televised on FOX Sports Ohio.

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It’s been a season where being ranked means people wanna knock you off.

Northwestern proved its record is no fluke, taking down #20 (flu-smitten) MSU, 61-57.

The Flyers stumbled at the start of the season, but they seem to have found their footing, taking down the #24 Phoenix,  72-66.

Huge, I mean HUGE win for Seton Hall: they take down #14 Georgia (though I had my suspicions about the Bulldogs) with authority, 70-51.

Northeastern (3-6) surprised the Great Danes, 70-67.

Davidson (4-8)came back in the second half to upset Virginia (9-3), 67-57.

The 5-6 Badgers added to their win total by surprising Michigan, 63-53.

Good news: Rutgers got Betnijah Laney back, and she notched her usual double-double (20 points/10 rebounds) The Scarlet Knights hold off Indiana, 66-51.

After an even first half, a nightmarish second half meant #10 Oregon State dropped their first game of the season to the #8 Vols, 74-63. Hello, Ms. Harrison!

The Irish handled the Bruins, 82-67, behind a stellar game from Allen. But boy, UCLA, learn to make your free throws! (14-27).

BAD news: UNC’s McDaniel may be out, torn calf muscle.

Good news: Leticia Romero ruled eligible for FSU women’s basketball

From around:

UND focused on repeat title

A season ago, UND was projected to finish in the bottom half of the Big Sky Conference women’s basketball race.

UND, however, was the surprise of the league last season, earning a share of the regular-season title and powering its way to the Big Sky postseason title. UND advanced to the NCAA Tournament and turned in a solid effort at Texas A&M, which went on to the Sweet 16.

From the Indy Star (and AP?): Breaking down Big Ten women’s basketball

From the Ames Tribune: Laid-back freshman Fernstrom adjusting to college basketball 

Bryanna Fernstrom wants to make one fact clear – she has feelings like a normal human being.

The 6-foot-5 center for the Iowa State women’s basketball team may not always contort her face the way her more excitable teammates do. She may not yell after a good play or pout after a bad one. As coach Bill Fennelly puts it, “her personal demeanor is so low-key, to the point where it’s like, ‘Is she breathing?,’ sometimes.”

From Washington State: EWU, WSU women’s basketball squads off to successful starts

The Eastern Washington women’s basketball team went into the Sunshine State this week as apparent alligator bait for Florida, which had a four-year run of claiming its own Gator Holiday Classic.

But the Eagles ended up securing their first victory over a Southeast Conference opponent, something a Big Sky school hadn’t done since Montana beat Mississippi in 2007.

“Everybody stepped up and took care of the things we needed,” coach Wendy Schuller said of 67-56 win. “It was a fun week.”

A little something on the Maggie Dixon Classic on Sunday, Jan 4th: WNBA Commemorative Rematch Coming To MSG

Nearly 40 years after the first-ever women’s basketball game pitted Queens College against Immaculata, these teams will see each other in court – at worldfamous Madison Square Garden. Their commemorative rematch will take place on Jan. 4, 2015, at 10:30 a.m., in the opening round of the annual Maggie Dixon Classic.

Trailblazing members of the 1974-75 team will attend the game.QC’s 1974–75 squad featured Gail Marquis and Donna Orender, and was coached by Lucille Kyvallos. Marquis earned a silver medal at the 1976 Olympics as a member of the US team and Orender would later become commissioner of the WNBA; Kyvallos was inducted to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. All three were named to the inaugural class of the Queens College Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012.

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Lehigh traveled to Arizona State and earned its first loss, 81-61.

ASU continued it’s undefeated-slaying by taking down Northwestern, 88-75.

The Penguins lose! After a rough start, Pittsburgh seems to have found it’s sea legs.

It took two overtimes, but Indiana State (10-1) handed St. John’s their first loss, 73.67. ISU’s record send me to their websitet, because I remember a while back they were very good… and then something mysterious happened and their coach was dismissed. Much not-good followed. Good started when coach Joey Wells entered the scene four years ago. How cool to know that Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir has landed there as a Graduate Manager (she finished her career there)!

As for the still undefeateds: I’m still looking at #21 Mississippi State and #15 Georgia with a jaundiced eye. They face each other on Jan 2nd.

In what one hopes for in the match up between two undefeated teams: #3 Texas and #4 Texas A&M, the Longhorns captured the victory with a last-second Davenport layup. How fun will in-state THIS rivalry be over the years!!

Speaking of in-state rivalries: South Dakota over North Dakota, 86-81. Off topic – I’ve not been to either state… and boy, is the mid-June birding festival in Carrington, ND is soooooo tempting. But, I might be conferencing in New Orleans… sigh. ;-)

Akron is 10-0.

#16 (and climbing) Oregon State. They’re at Tennessee on the 28th.

Princeton. Honesty, if they stay focused and injury-free, an undefeated regular season should be in the bag. If the can get a high seed in the tourney, they might move into the next round. BUT, they need to beef up their out-of-conference schedule. Unless folks are afeared of them….

#1 South Carolina. Looking at their schedule I see #12 Kentucky on the Jan. 11th… #5 TAMU on Jan. 26th…. but isn’t everyone looking towards their game at UConn on Feb. 9th?

As I called it, Stanford v. Tennessee was ugly. Graham seems optimistic about the future of the Vols (Better defense, Harrison’s return boost Lady Vols), but I’m not convinced. And Stanford is looking mighty shaky, aren’t they? When you need 30 from Samuelson to overcome 4-7 UC Davis…. Doug talks PAC12: Oregon State rises in AP women’s poll.

Is #17 Rutgers reverting to type? 66 v. Iona (a win.) Still no Laney.

#8 Baylor spotted #18 Michigan State a nice lead at half time, then quickly reeled the Spartans in, clamped down on defense and pulled away for the 19pt victory.

Not a huge win, but for someone who seems to be painstakingly building a program, San Francisco over San Jose State, 77-62, is something Azzi must be proud of. Junior Taylor Proctor earned West Coast Conference Player of the Week honors – the first Don do earn in-season mention in two years.

Speaking of painstakingly building a program, I’m guessing Patty Coyle knew what she was taking on when she stepped into the head coach position at St. Peter’s, but 0-9′s still gotta hurt.

Yup, I’m paying attention to Tsipis’ George Washington team, who defeated Saint Mary’s, 70-52. The Gaels aren’t quite the force they’ve been in the past, but when was the last time folks could think encouraging thoughts ’bout GW? Baby steps, y’all, baby steps.

Yes, they’re missing Goss, but to fall to #13 Duke, 89-68? Makes you go “hmmm” about the Wildcats.

You know, even in a “down” year, Marist is a force to be respected. The Red Foxes took down the Wabbits, 82-64.

Good news for the #5 Irish: Turner is back. Not so good news: they needed all of her 19ptsp to take down (3-7) Saint Joseph’s. 

Debbie Antonelli Special: Penn State v. South Florida. After the first half, tied 37-37. After the second half, tied 77-77. After one OT, the Bulls come away with the win, 90-87.

Debbie Antonelli Special, Part 2: (No overtime needed) #23 Iowa over 5-6 Drake, 100-98. (24 points in the last 65 seconds!) Guess we need to keep an eye on Bulldog sophomore Lizzy Wendell, huh. (41pts)

Debbie Antonelli, Special Part 3 includes some usual suspects: San Jose State 102, Sacramento State, 94.

Kudos to Cynthia Cooper and her team for not bowing under the challenges they’ve faced this year. West Coast USC has a lot of fight in them – as #19 Oklahoma State found out, though the Cowgirls escaped with a 66-62 win. Looking to the Trojans’ future, they will absorb UConn transfer Sadie Edwards and Alabama transfer Kaneisha Horn.

Speaking of teams that haven’t given up. Ohio State seriously stomped #21 West Virginia. This is a weirdly iffish Mountaineer team. They “let” the Buckeyes’ Kelsey Mitchell score 39pts in 27 minutes.

Got to see UCLA in person v. #2 Connecticut. The score says “rout” but man, the Bruins play hard and have some players. Looking forward to watching them grow.

So, I find this score interesting, how about you? Kennesaw State 61, Xavier 60.

Remember when I was wondering what happened to Florida (and Vandy and LSU)? Well, they faced Eastern Washington from the Big Sky and got schooled, 67-56.

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…and 27.5% shooting won. However you slice it, I’m glad I didn’t purchase a ticket for the  #11 Tennessee v. #  17 Rutgers game. To add insult to injury, the Knight’s will have to wait for the doctor’s report on Betnijah Laney’s thumb to see what’s up.

So, what does the fact that the Mercer Bears beat Alabama tell us?

Debbie Antonelli Special: Sacramento State 99, USC 101. One of these days, the Hornets are going to win one of these shootouts.

Ouch 1) Kentucky’s Goss has a broken thumb.

Ouch 2) Missouri women’s basketball team loses forward Kayla McDowell to ACL injury

So long:

Sadie Edwards Leaving UConn Women’s Team

Freshman  Kaylee Page leaves Nebraska.

Freshman Brielle Blaire will leave Virginia Tech.

Dishin & Swishin 12/11/14 Podcast: Looking at the first part of the college basketball season with Debbie Antonelli & Brenda VanLengen

From Graham:  Major finds lead way for Green Bay – Phoenix score fifth win against a team from the ACC, Big East, Big Ten or Pac-12

Separated by a little more than 100 miles, after all, the two schools form the points connecting the hypotenuse of a right triangle that has the population center of Milwaukee as its 90 degree angle. One of those points has Big Ten money. The other has the smallest athletic budget in the Horizon League.

How often did his program and the University of Wisconsin go head-to-head on recruits?

“I don’t know that we’re really in that arena for the most part,” Borseth eventually allowed. “We lose a lot of kids to bigger schools, not just Wisconsin but other schools equally, as well.”

And yet the Phoenix rarely lose to those teams on the court. Especially against the Badgers.

Upcoming game of interest:

Nice matinee matchup of undefeateds: #16 Oregon State v. #6 UNC.

Speaking of undefeated: Northwestern Zipped Past Gonzaga, 62-43

The Wildcats, at 8-0, are off to their best start since the 1995-96 season when the squad opened with nine victories.

From Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw: “Stand for something you believe in.”

From Michelle Smith: ‘I wanted to see what it meant to protest’ – All-America candidate Brittany Boyd, coach Charmin Smith join Berkeley protests

They pulled out masking tape and a black permanent marker and began to write names on the strips they pulled from the roll.

The players on the Cal women’s basketball team woke up Saturday morning in Long Beach to the news that back in Berkeley, three cardboard cutouts of African-Americans in nooses had been hanged in effigy on the Cal campus.

While campus officials worked to determine both who was behind the act and their intent, the players gathered after their shootaround. The team’s plan was to wear black shirts with the phrase “I Can’t Breathe” Sunday at home before a game against Louisville. But the Bears felt compelled to act immediately.

Forwarded by Sue, a FOB: Goshen basketball player Olivia Love copes with tragedy with help from family

Kimberly Love and her two youngest children — Kristian and Kiana — died in a 2007 fire, leaving Kimberly’s mother Rita Mickles to raise grandchildren, including Goshen basketball player Olivia Love.

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Rutgers’ Stringer Coaching Two Generations of Laneys

It’s not true that ageless Hall of Fame Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer has been stalking the sidelines forever.

Yet it could seem that way since this season she would be arguably in a rare situation for now having guided one all-American star in the past and now beginning this season her daughter with equal potential.

Betnijah Laney, a 6-0 freshman guard-forward out of Clayton, Delaware, and Smyrna High, is part of the Scarlet Knights heralded group of newcomers, arriving with Briyona Canty of Willingboro, N.J., and Trenton Catholic possessing McDonald’s All-American honors among a list of accolades.

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