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Thank goodness.

An ugly, cranky start by the Merc gave Maya Moore the Lynx a nice lead. And then then Penny Taylor in the fourth quarter happened. And then… Bonner missed a FT, Maya didn’t, Diana missed a three and Big Syl grabbed the rebound. Lynx go to 4-0, Mercury fall to 0-4.

From Richard at WNBAlien: WNBA and the Pick+Roll, and introducing the W Dozen

Eleven days into the WNBA season, it’s a little early to be drawing any real conclusions (although the ‘Minnesota good’, ‘San Antonio bad’, and ‘What the hell is going on in Phoenix?’ hot-takes are already emerging). So we’re going to take a look at one of the key building-blocks of virtually every modern offense in professional basketball. The pick-and-roll – or even just the pick – is an incredibly simple concept. You put a teammate in the way of your defender, and then force the defense to deal with the problems that creates.

From Excelle: How New York Liberty are remaking their small forward position

The New York Liberty play a throwback style of basketball. Defense and rebounding are priorities 1A and 1B. While other teams move towards smaller fours that can spread the floor, head coach Bill Laimbeer’s squad often plays two traditional bigs together. The Lib will bog teams down to a crawl and punish them in the low post. It’s been a fun and successful brand of ball, and it hasn’t taken away from the more modern aspects of New York’s game. 

This season, the Liberty have scoffed at playing traditional small forwards, opting instead for smaller players who perform despite not fitting the mold.

Connecticut: Slow Start, Too Many Fouls, Mar Beginning Of Miller’s First Season With Sun

Because of the monthlong Olympic break in August, the WNBA season lasts into September so a few missteps in May aren’t going to make a team panic.

Still, the start of season is a critical time for the Connecticut Sun. New coach Curt Miller is trying to install his system and bring a new culture to the franchise. It would be better for all concerned if some positive reinforcement was available early to help the process.

SlamOnline.com: Q+A: Nneka Ogwumike – The fifth-year Sparks forward dishes on L.A.’s hot start.

From Paul Doyle at the Hartford Courant: Dolson Spreads Word On Her Identity, And WNBA’s

About 90 minutes before the Connecticut Sun‘s home opener, Morgan Tuck walked past a cluster of reporters surrounding Washington Mystics center Stefanie Dolson.

“Oh my God, Stefanie Dolson!” Tuck yelled.

Without missing a beat, Dolson replied.

“Oh my God, Morgan Tuck!” she said.

Then it was back answering questions, seamlessly and smiling. Dolson, who left UConn for the WNBA two years ago, is still the same quick-witted, breezy personality who became a fan favorite during her time in Storrs.

From Cosmopolitan: How WNBA Player Imani Boyette Beat the Odds — and Her Depression

From the Fever: Wheelin’ Around: Erica Wheeler’s Journey to the WNBA

NCAA

From the Tennessean’s: Joe Rexrode: Vanderbilt’s Stephanie White — worth the wait

White is the head coach of the WNBA’s Indiana Fever and will remain so through a season that could realistically end in the Finals in mid-October (she led the Fever to the Finals a year ago as a rookie head coach). She might take full command of her first Vandy team less than a month before it starts the 2016-17 season.

That’s not ideal. But if White is what Vanderbilt thinks she is, what her resume and command of a room suggest she is, it’s meaningless. It’s the delayed flight to start a vacation that you’re already laughing about at the end of the vacation.

More on White from the AP’s Teresa Walker: Stephanie White ready to speed up Vanderbilt as new coach

And more on the ‘Around the Rim’ podcast: Meeting expectations

On the latest edition of “Around The Rim,” 2005 WNBA champion Ticha Penicheiro joins women’s basketball analyst LaChina Robinson as special guest host.

The two discuss the Sparks’ dominant win over the Sky, why the Mercury continue to struggle, whether or not teams are exceeding or falling below expectations and which players that usually fly under the radar are playing surprisingly well.

Plus, Hall of Fame coach Lin Dunn stops in to discuss Stephanie White’s end-of-the-season departure to coach at Vanderbilt, her decision to exit retirement and return to coaching at Kentucky and much more.

Speaking of Dunn: Kentucky’s new assistant coaches have strong bonds, common goal

It’s a word rolled out with regularity by head coaches to describe their team and coaching staff: family.

The three new assistant coaches hired by embattled Kentucky women’s basketball coach Matthew Mitchell certainly gave off that familial vibe when they met with the media for the first time Wednesday.

The newest hire, Hall of Famer Lin Dunn, said she thinks of her new boss “almost like a son” before giving a sideways glance and a smirk.

“Not a grandson, but a son,” quipped the 69-year-old, who has won more than 500 games at the college, professional and international levels.

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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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so twiddling my thumbs… so:

Don’t get fooled by the score, Serbia brought it against the US… and then some.

From Mechelle (who, I think, is writing from the mid-west?): Usual suspects step up for Team USA – Stars from Mercury, Lynx step up as USA Basketball clinches Group D’s top seed

The Americans’ 94-74 victory essentially guarantees them a flawless record in Group D play, as they go against far-overmatched Angola in the third game Tuesday (ESPN3, 2:30 p.m. ET). The toughest test in group play was expected to be Serbia, and that proved to be the case. It took until the fourth quarter for the U.S. team to put away the win, and it was the Mercury-Lynx combination that led the way in preventing the upset.

Looks like Doug’s long form game articles can be found directly on the AP site: US Women Hold Off Serbia 94-74

With Serbia hanging around midway through the fourth quarter, Diana Taurasi and the U.S. women’s basketball team stepped up their play to finally pull away.

Taurasi scored 13 of her 20 points in the final period and the Americans beat Serbia 94-74 on Sunday in the world championship to clinch the top seed in Group D.

“It was a tough game,” Taurasi said. “Every possession was a battle. They made us work on defense. There are some things we probably got to clean up. These games are good for us. This team hasn’t been together very long. In the two weeks that we’ve been together, we’ve been battle-tested a couple of times, which in the long run will only help us.”

Some UConn fans have made the trip, and give their inside the stands report.

USA Basketball is on YouTube:

They’re also online: USA Battles To 94-74 Win Over Serbia

The 2014 USA Basketball Women’s World Championship Team (2-0) fought off a resilient Serbia (1-1) team that was within six points at the start of the fourth quarter before the USA pulled away for a 94-74 win in the 2014 FIBA World Championship on Sunday night at Abdi Ipekci Arena in Istanbul, Turkey.

From their fabulous “additional quotes” section:

Auriemma, on tonight’s game being so close through three quarters:

I think sometimes on the outside, people think you just show up, roll the ball out and we have 25 points right away. It doesn’t work that way. These are national teams. They have players that are good. They know how to make shots, they know how to play. They’re experienced. They play well together. So, it takes us time because this is our training camp. These games are kind of like our training camp. These last five or six games we played in Paris and here.

That’s a really, really good team that plays with a lot of heart, that plays with a lot of passion. I’m not surprised that the game was difficult. But, we have some amazing players on our team that when the game is to be won, they make winning plays.

This kid OH-gwu-MOO-kay is writing a blog:

From FIBA:

Canadian prospects benefit from learning curve

Veteran guard Kim Gaucher believes the future of the Canada backcourt is in safe hands despite suffering  first loss at the FIBA World Championship for Women.

Indeed Gaucher is hugely excited about what could follow, such is the current glut of emerging talent.

‘Nothing complicated, simple old school’ basketball keeps Aussies going

 Erin Phillips has been the live-wire of the Australian Opals squad, especially in the absence of Lauren Jackson and Liz Cambage.

The Phoenix Mercury shooting guard was once again at the vanguard of another Australian win on Sunday – the second in as many games – assuring the team of place in the next round.

“The way we are playing is very good. There’s a lot of positive energy,” said the 29-year-old, who had four points, five rebounds and handed out a game-high seven assists.

Leuchanka wanted to go down fighting rather than be found want of trying

 Belarus needed back-to-back three-pointers inside the final 30 seconds of their game against fiesty Cuba to cap a 12-0 run in the last three minutes to pull off a Houdini-esque 70-69 win on Sunday at the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women.

Leader Yelena Leuchanka had a beast of game with 20 points and a tournament-high 18 rebounds and played a expectedly pivotal role in that final outburst before Nadzeya Drozd and Katsiaryna Snytsina came up with the two makes from beyond the arc to ensure the 2010 FIBA World Championship for Women Semi-Finalists will advance from the Group Phase.

Turkey, USA seal Quarter-Final spots on Day 2

Turkey and the United States won for the second day in a row at the FIBA World Championship for Women to clinch first place in their respective groups and spots in the Quarter-Finals.

Spain and the Czech Republic also prevailed to set up a battle for Group A supremacy, and both Australia and Belarus won their games to set up a Group C showdown for first.

Vesela finds that loving feeling

Jana Vesela is simply loving being back in a Czech Republic vest and helping her nation post a flying start to the FIBA World Championship for Women.

The veteran forward had a very different experience last year, when her first outing at EuroBasket Women 2013 ended in tears as she was carried off to hospital in agony.

Shao Ting stands tall leading China’s transition

 Shao Ting indeed is the perfect representation of the transition phase in Chinese women’s basketball.

Shao Ting had not figured in any of the many youth national teams that China developed and was almost a nobody until a sterling performance in her maiden WCBA season with the Beijing Great Wall paved the way for her inclusion in Maher’s ‘clean up’ mission.

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(though, I have a feeling the results won’t be so friendly), 7pm, ESPN.

Some pre-game reading:

USA Basketball Women’s National Team Roster Set For Exhibition Versus Canada

  Traveling on to Europe to compete in the Sept. 19-21 France International Tournament in Paris as finalists for the 2014 USA World Championship Team are: Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Tina Charles (New York Liberty), Skylar Diggins (Tulsa Shock),Stefanie Dolson (Washington Mystics), Jantel Lavender (Los Angeles Sparks), Kayla McBride(San Antonio Stars), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx),Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks), Odyssey Sims (Tulsa Shock), Breanna Stewart(University of Connecticut) and Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx).

            2014-16 USA Basketball Women’s National Team members DeWanna Bonner (Phoenix Mercury), Elena Delle Donne (Chicago Sky), Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury), Sylvia Fowles(Chicago Sky), Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury), Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) andCourtney Vandersloot (Chicago Sky) were competing in the recently concluded WNBA Finals and unable to attend the USA’s domestic training camp. USA Basketball will announce at a later date which of these athletes will join the finalists in Europe.

Here are some Quotes From Women’s National Team Scrimmage With Canada

On the Canadian Husky: Nurse learning from experience of a lifetime

 Kia Nurse was two years old when Sue Bird made her debut for the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team.

No wonder the United States national team’s point guard and three-time Olympic gold medalist feels her age when she looks across the court at the UConn freshman and point guard for Team Canada.

But with age comes experience and wisdom and Bird knows exactly what Nurse is getting into.

About the W, Nate offers: Diana Taurasi shines in Phoenix Mercury’s Game 3 win, 2014 WNBA Finals bring big TV ratings

The other day I wrote a response to Jeff Pearlman’s article in the Medium about the state of the WNBA, which I felt was a perfectly reasonable critique of the league.

It got longer than I initially intended, but there were really three points there:

1. The league is making progress, has done what it could to promote its young stars, and the evolution of the game on the court demands patience as basketball fans familiarize themselves with the league.

2. The league still has yet to persuasively answer why it’s worth sports fans’ time, especially in a crowded sports market that runs right up against the NFL season.

3. As I alluded to and James stated explicitly in the comments, the league theoretically has appeal to multiple demographics and arguably greater social value than other sports leagues but seriously risks turning off one demographic if it pushes too hard to attract another. Yet it has struggled over time to decide whether it will target one demographic or try to embrace its broad appeal.

NCAA: Every year they do this, an every year folks participating say, “Dang, this is harder than it looks!” Women’s basketball mock exercise spotlights 2015 championship changes

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Not so much, eh Courtnay?

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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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