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“Weeeee are the Champions.” (What, too soon?) Lynx’s ‘fast start’ overwhelm Sky in Delle Donne’s returnFowles scores 24 against former team; Lynx beat Sky 97-80In First Game Against Former Team, Sylvia Fowles Joins Elite Company

Elena Delle Donne may be the face of the Sky. But when it comes to the franchise’s voice, that is all Cappie Pondexter.Chicago Sun-Times: Pondexter lends voice, veteran leadership to Sky

 The 10-year veteran has no trouble being the Sky’s resident vocal leader, but after a disappointing loss in last season’s WNBA Eastern Conference semifinals, Pondexter is done mincing words.

Make no mistake. This is Tamika Catchings’ team.

It is also Marissa Coleman’s team, and Shenise Johnson’s team, and Erlana Larkins’ team … and who knew it could be Erica Wheeler’s team while she fills in for point guard Briann January?

“It could be anybody’s night on any given night,” Coleman said.

That was never more true of the Indiana Fever than on Wednesday night.

Three of the first four possessions for the Washington Mystics in their game against the Dallas Wings on Wednesday night resulted in turnovers. The other produced a missed layup. Coach Mike Thibault was, to say the least, displeased.

The frustration didn’t end with just his players though. The officiating also provoked Thibault’s ire to the point he walked past halfcourt at Verizon Center midway through the first quarter and shouted to referee Sue Blauch: “Give me a technical now.”

 Phew! Sun get first win of season, 72-68 at Stars and Bone spurs Sun past San Antonio.
It’s gonna be tough in San Antonio this year….

While the world rightfully continues to go bonkers over “Hamilton,” I’ve recently found myself pleasantly lost in the past with another Broadway smash hit. The nearly 40-year-old — can it be? — “Annie.”

This was prompted by my nephew playing Oliver Warbucks in his high school’s production. It reminded me of how great a musical this is, even when performed by theater novices (including, in this case, a Harlequin Great Dane named Waffle in the role of Sandy.)

Now, just hang with me; we’re getting to the WNBA, with its 20th season just launched.

 

If Candace Parker was looking to make a point, she made it all right. Thirty-four times, in fact.

The question isn’t whether Parker was trying to make a statement Sunday with her 34-point effort in Los Angeles’ 96-66 win over Seattle at Staples Center. The question is, which statement was it?

Was it a message to USA Basketball that despite not being selected to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team that she is still on a short list of best players in the world?

Was it a reminder to the WNBA that the two-time MVP is as dangerous as ever and prepared to dish it out over an entire season after taking half of last season off?

WNBA STAR TINA CHARLES ON HOW STRONG, SUPPORTIVE WOMEN HELPED HER SUCCEED

Why are you excited to participate in She’s On Point?

For me, a lot of it was about giving back to Karen Pedrosa [who was the park manager at the time]. She was always keeping Roberto Clemente open late so we were able to scrimmage against the guys. She would travel with us to the AAU [Amateur Athletic Union] games. She’s just an awesome individual. She’s the Deputy Chief of Bronx Recreation now, and it’s a testament to the impact she’s had on the community.

UConn women’s basketball legend Bird wants to end career on her terms

When she re-signed with Seattle in the offseason, Bird made certain she had a multi-year deal. She didn’t want her contract status to determine when the final year of her career arrives.

“Truthfully, the way I view it is a one-year plan. Everybody has their own (way). Tamika Catchings is an example of somebody who announced her retirement early. Then Ray Allen is somebody I communicate with and he is somebody that never announced it. Just stopped. But that was what was right for him,” Bird said.

“I think every player when it comes to their retirement only knows how they are going to feel and how they want to do it. And right now what is working for me in my own little mind is a one-year plan.

LaChina and Carolyn Podcast: We’re Back…For The WNBA

From Charles Hallman: A ‘simple’ job: Marketing the WNBA 

Last Saturday night, after she handed the Minnesota Lynx players and coaches their 2015 championship rings, Borders worked the “room” where nearly 10,000 people were in attendance for the team’s season opener. Madame President earlier told the MSR, “I am the number-one salesperson for the WNBA. That is absolutely true.”

She heads a league that is celebrating 20 years, but to too many eyes — media, Joe Rockhead males and others — it has been 19 years too long. “We are 20 years old, which is remarkable by any standard,” continued Borders. “But we are just getting started. We’re young and nimble.”

The president and this reporter briefly touched upon several topics:

USA Today’s Nina Mandell: Retired WNBA star Katie Smith wants to leave lasting legacy on women’s game as a coach

Long before Katie Smith, a 17-year veteran of the WNBA, knew she was going to become a coach there was no shortage of coaches who told her she would join their ranks one day.

“I’ll say it right in front of her,” Mystics coach Mike Thibault said, walking by Smith as his team prepared to play the New York Liberty, where Smith was promoted to associate head coach this season. “I told her she was going to be a coach and she said no. Years ago when I coached USA Basketball, I said, ‘You know you’re going to end up being a coach.’”

Smith replied that she was going to go to dental school or do something else, but Thibault wouldn’t listen. 

NCAA

NCAA.com Rules group pleased with state of the game

[Use of technology and other] areas the Women’s Basketball Rules Committee will continue to study and discuss include:

  • Widening of the lane from 12 feet to 16 feet.
  • Moving the restricted-area arc to 4 feet from 3 feet.
  • Moving the 3-point line from 20 feet, 9 inches to the international distance of 22-1.
  • Deterring players from faking fouls. A warning would be issued on the first offense, followed by a technical foul on subsequent offenses.
  • In free throw situations, teams would be allowed to substitute only before or after the foul shots are taken. There would be no substitutions allowed in between the two or three free throws.

You stay put: Scott Rueck signed a two-year contract extension

WATN? Langston University hires Elaine Powell to replace Cheryl Miller as head coach

LADY VOLS ADD JUCO STAR – London Native Cheridene Green Becomes Lady Vols’ First International Signee . This calls for a flashback: Junior Colleges: Where Opportunities Knock – November 2007

Last season Shannon Bobbitt (Trinity Valley Community College) and Alberta Auguste (Central Florida Community College) became the University of Tennessee’s first junior college signees since – well most couldn’t remember when last it happened. (1977, by the way.) How’d it work out? Just ask Middle Tennessee State coach Rick Insell.

“First time ever Pat took two [Junior College] kids and what happens? She wins a National Championship. Did those kids play a major part in them winning that? Absolutely. Would she have won it without them? Who knows?”

“But she won it with them.”

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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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…waiting to go to the airport and return to the “bitterly cold” northeast. Will say that, whatever weather comes to mind when you think “the Bahamas,” it’s not what we’ve had this week. Nothing like scuba diving w/ a 25mph wind and 65 degree weather. Fleece alert! (and no, I’m NOT complaining, ’cause I’m on vacation! :-)

On the hardcourt:

Don’t wanna jinx’em, but the A-10 regular season title is George Washington’s to lose. (They’ve beaten Dayton both times they’ve played). Tough to beat a team three times in a row, though, so keep an eye on the Conference Championship.

With a win over a Bradford-less Central Michigan, Ball State moves to 10-3 in the MAC, easing in to the top spot in the West. Overall MAC leader Ohio was stunned by Eastern Michigan, 73-61.

That was unexpectedly close: Maine Slips Past Vermont in Women’s Basketball, 57-54 And yes, Women’s basketball risen in standings from two years ago

Two years ago, Maine was one of the worst teams in women’s basketball. Now, Maine has won 10 consecutive games and is ranked no. 23 in the Mid-Major poll.

It is amazing what you can accomplish when everybody is working together and when everybody has the same goals and dreams. It almost took us two years to get to the point where we are right now, and we are not even close to reaching our potential.

People keep asking, “What happened? How can you go from winning four games total to having one of the best seasons a Maine basketball team has had in a long time?” I don’t think there is a simple answer to this question.

A Debbie Antonelli Special: Troy needed OT – and every single one of Ashley Beverly-Kelley’s 46 points – to escape Sun Belt cellar-dwellar Georgia Southern, 99-93. BTW, this is Troy’s first winning season since 2008-09.

Boink! WHB Curse in effect: Rhode Island loses a lead, and then the game, to LaSalle, 47-45.

Speaking of losing leads: Miami must be kicking themselves – they were up 18 at the end of the first half, then lost to NC State courtesy of a last-second three by Len’Nique Brown-Hoskin.

Whomp! The up-and-down #15 Aggies were up against #11 Kentucky, 81-69.

James Madison, #5 Maryland and FGCU are sailing through their conferences. So’s Gonzaga (clinching their 11th straight)  but it’s not been a lark.

It’s been a tough one: SMU women’s basketball already with second-most losses in school history; Can team recover?

When your women’s team is playing six freshmen, your point guard bolts and your go-to player is gone for the season, you celebrate small victories, such as getting three male students through the NCAA Clearinghouse to fill vacancies for scrimmages.

Change has been the lone constant for SMU.

For a young team in a rebuilding year, adjustments have become routine. Each game seems to open a new chapter in the crash course.

Speaking of tough ones: The Gauchos are still win-less.

Hawaii seems to be pulling away in the Big West.

Wondering how probation will impact West Virginia.

No surprise, Debbie likes Kelsey (Mitchell).

“Why isn’t Kelsey Mitchell on the @BigTenNetwork promo on great (freshmen) in the @bigtenconf,” Antonelli tweeted Tuesday night. “She leads nation in scoring!”

Mitchell’s resume is quite lengthy. And her scoring numbers has made Antonelli start to consider if Mitchell has an opportunity at all-time career leading scorer Jackie Stiles (3,393 points). Antonelli has been calling women’s basketball games for 27 years and can’t recall another player to cause her to look at Stiles’ numbers.

“If you are a fan of women’s basketball how could you not like that?” Antonelli told Cincinnati.com.

Yup: Injuries wreak havoc on SEC women’s basketball season

Not an unexpected job opening: Portland State fires Sherri Murrell as women’s basketball coach with five games remaining

In W news: One Knight for another: Breaking Down the Epiphanny Prince-for-Cappie Pondexter Blockbuster and The age-old thought process behind Liberty’s WNBA megadeal plus, what’s really cool: Epiphanny Prince to finish Rutgers degree after trade to NY Liberty

When she stunned the basketball world in 2009 with an unprecedented decision to leave Rutgers one year early to start her pro career, Epiphanny Prince vowed that she eventually would return to school.

That time has come following a WNBA trade Monday that sent two former Rutgers stars back to their homes as Prince was dealt to the New York Liberty, while Cappie Pondexter is joining the Chicago Sky.

In high school news: Two high school girls basketball legends combining to make history at Gilmour Academy

It started with a phone call, seemingly out of nowhere.

That’s how a legendary high school girls basketball coach ended up at Gilmour Academy. That was 10 years ago.

And a second totally unexpected phone call led to the daughter of a former Ms. Ohio Girls Basketball Player of the Year playing for that same coach at the Catholic prep school in Gates Mills.

That’s how Bob Beutel, with 644 career victories, ended up coaching Naz Hillmon, one of the top freshman girls basketball players in Northeastern Ohio. Hillmon is already receiving attention from Division I colleges. The 6-foot-2 center is averaging 18 points, 14 rebounds and more than four blocks per game.

How about this: Alden-Hebron makes history with 5-player roster

Alden-Hebron’s “Fab Five” huddled on the bus ride home and talked strategy after winning the school’s first postseason title for any Giants basketball team – boys or girls – since 1957.

Hannah Behrens, Bailey Ogle, Hannah Warren, Tally Lalor and Emily Webber have played exclusively for the past 13 games as the Giants’ roster has dwindled from eight players to five. Kelsey Baker, A-H’s tallest player at 6-foot-2, moved away, and sophomores Brittany Standish and Sam Mendez suffered knee injuries and cannot play until cleared by doctors.

Congrats: Swin Cash earns Chuck Cooper Award for ‘extraordinary’ service

Admittedly, Swin Cash once had no clue who Charles “Chuck” Cooper was or what he represented.

She grew up in the same region and played the same sport, but as someone born nearly 25 years after Cooper played his final professional basketball game, the name of the first African-American player drafted into the NBA didn’t resonate.

So last year, when Cash was told that she was going to be honored with an award named after Cooper, she did some research. What she found was a legacy that she works to this day to strengthen and uphold.

WATN? TV spot highlights Markham basketball star Sutton-Brown

Tammy Sutton-Brown has a true story to tell.

It’s one the 37-year-old Markham native revealed that changed her life — all for the better — when she elected to attend a high school that offered a well established girls’ basketball program rather than go to one closer to home.

Thus began the road for the 6 ft. 4 in. centre in becoming one of the top Canadian basketball players hailing from the Greater Toronto Area that tipped off when she was a Grade 9 student at Markham District High School and then earning a collegiate athletic scholarship south of the border at Rutgers University.

But that’s not where it ended.

A little history: Women’s basketball pioneers honored at UAF

It’s no surprise Nanooks women’s basketball players Victoria Elleby and Stephanie Toumson asked Linda Dolney for her autograph after Saturday’s game.

Forty years ago, Dolney and her teammates paved the way for the current women’s basketball team.

That moment in history and several others were recognized Saturday at a remarkable gathering of women.

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we remember those who will not join us.

Vic Dorr Jr. from the. Richmond Times-Dispatch: University of Richmond women’s basketball team moves forward with heartache as constant companion

The pain they felt when it happened — shock, anguish, suffocating grief — was largely visceral. Temporary remedies were abundant: tears, hugs, the snug harbor offered by family and friends.

The pain they feel today is to a great extent cerebral. There are few, if any, effective remedies.

Lauren Sage Reinlie at the Daily News: Spirit lives on: Community gathers to remember beloved basketball coach

With hundreds of people gathered in the auditorium, Coach Patrick Harrington’s voice rang out again.

In a video playing on a large screen, the man stood on the sidelines of the basketball court, talking about his players and how he wanted to give them a chance to know what great opportunities they have to grow and change their lives.

From South Bend: Expectations still high for youthful Irish women’s basketball team

It’s been a few years since Muffet McGraw first put a whistle around her neck and stepped on a court in a dimly-lit gymnasium not far from the Main Line in suburban Philadelphia, to begin her first practice as a basketball coach.

And while it’s true Archbishop Carroll High School is a far cry from the bright lights of the University of Notre Dame’s Purcell Pavilion and college basketball’s biggest stage at the NCAA Final Four, don’t think for one second that the Fighting Irish Hall of Fame head coach isn’t excited about the start of another season.

Nice turn around in Austin: Women’s Basketball picked as preseason favorite to win the Big 12

From Spokane: Gonzaga women’s basketball rookie coach Lisa Fortier ushers in new era

The Gonzaga women’s basketball team opened practice Tuesday with a new head coach for the first time in 14 years and without a clear picture of the guard rotation for at least three years.

Out of Columbia: For USC women’s basketball, a national championship is the only goal

It was only the first day of practice, but the members of South Carolina’s women’s basketball team were already thinking of the ultimate goal.

“Our goal is definitely nothing short of a national championship,” said senior forward Aleighsa Welch, a Goose Creek native. “I think we have to put that in our minds and keep repeating to ourselves that we don’t want to settle for anything less than that. So that’s the main goal. That’s what we know we can accomplish this year. But it all starts right here.”

From their competition down the road: Lady Vols say they’re heeding Warlick’s message

Tennessee guard Ariel Massengale says the Lady Vols are listening more closely to coach Holly Warlick this season.

 The Lady Vols are hoping that extra attention helps them earn the Final Four bid that has eluded them since their 2008 national championship season. Tennessee opened practice Monday with most of the nucleus back from a team that went 29-6 and reached a regional semifinal last season.

From Notre Dame: Irish Women’s Basketball Tips Off 2014-15 Preseason,

It’s been a few years since Muffet McGraw first put a whistle around her neck and stepped on a court in a dimly-lit gymnasium not far from the Main Line in suburban Philadelphia, to begin her first practice as a basketball coach. And while it’s true Archbishop Carroll High School is a far cry from the bright lights of the University of Notre Dame’s Purcell Pavilion and college basketball’s biggest stage at the NCAA Final Four, don’t think for one second that the Fighting Irish Hall of Fame head coach isn’t excited about the start of another season.

From Jim Fuller at the Citizen Register: UConn’s Moriah Jefferson has chance to step into leadership role

The casual onlooker may wonder how the UConn women’s basketball team plans to replace the production of graduated All-Americans Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley.

While it will be no easy task replacing what Dolson and Hartley brought on the court, the bigger issue facing the two-time defending national champions could be who fills the rather sizeable hole in the leadership department.

Big things are expected from seniors Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Kiah Stokes, but the reality is that they are more of the lead-by-example types. Certainly reigning national player of the year Breanna Stewart will be a leader just based on her incredible skill set and list of accomplishments. But junior point guard Moriah Jefferson could be the most likely candidate to become the Huskies’ unquestioned leader.

UConn’s Dailey thankful for World Championship experience

Two days ago Geno Auriemma and Chris Dailey were in Istanbul, Turkey as the United States team, featuring five current or former UConn players, won the FIBA World Championship for Women.

After a long day of travel, the UConn head coach and associate head coach were back on campus and back at work. Auriemma looked absolutely spent and considering how he graciously gave me more than 15 minutes of his time when I was up at UConn for a football press conference before diving head long into his national team responsibilities, I resisted the temptation to corner him for an interview. However, when Dailey walked by me earlier today, I was able to spend a couple of minutes with her so she could reflect on her time as an advance scout for the gold-medal winning U.S. team.

Lady Raiders search for Rowe’s replacement

It’s been only a week of practice for the MTSU women’s basketball team, so it’s no surprise coach Rick Insell has more of his own questions than he has answers.

At this point, the 10th-year coach is simply emphasizing “repetition, repetition, repetition.”

“We gotta keep doing what we’re doing right here in practice,” he said. “Make them work harder.”

He added, “We’re not too bad. I’m not happy with where we’re at, but I don’t need to be happy right now. I need to be happy, in January.

“We’ll get there.”

Out of Lincoln: NU women’s basketball notebook: Huskers begin to try to replace Hooper

“Right now the elephant — the big things — are a little scary,” Yori said Wednesday. “Can we score on a consistent basis, and can we get defensive rebounds? Those are scary, because you think, who did we lose? We lost one of the best scorers of all time in the history of this program, and one of the best defensive rebounders of all time. Those are big things. Those are areas right now where we’re not very good.”

From Oregon: OSU women’s basketball: Beavers focused as practice begins

Over the first three days of practice, there was a focus unlike anything previously seen for Scott Rueck’s Oregon State women’s basketball program.

It makes sense as the Beavers return a plethora of talent that contributed immensely to one of the best seasons in program history.

Tough news for the Buckeyes: Ohio State women’s basketball: Makayla Waterman out indefinitely, facing knee surgery

Similar bad news in Colorado: CU women’s basketball: Buffs kick off practices without Roberson

Throughout the offseason, Arielle Roberson felt as healthy as ever and went through workouts determined to lead the Colorado women’s basketball to a great season.

On Tuesday afternoon, she sat in the Coors Events Center seats with crutches nearby as she watched her teammates go through their first official practice of the 2014-15 campaign.

“It just really sucks,” the junior forward said.

Cappie’s off to Australia: WNBA star signed to replace import Monica Wright, who is also injured

The loss of star recruit Elizabeth Cambage to a season-ending Achilles tendon injury and the failure of import Monica Wright to recover from what was seemingly minor knee surgery forced Dandenong to send out an SOS less than two weeks before the start of the 2014/15 WNBL season.

And it was answered on Thursday by WNBA superstar Cappie Pondexter, who signed a one-year deal to join the Rangers. The 31-year-old American guard is expected to be in uniform for the season-opener on October 18.

From Jonothan Lintner at USA Today: Native American community recognizes Shoni Schimmel

Shoni Schimmel often recognizes her Native American following, signing autographs and taking pictures after games with those who travel to see the University of Louisville graduate who grew up on an Umatilla reservation in Oregon.

This week, it was Schimmel who was recognized for her prominence as a 2014 Native American “40 under 40” award recipient.

From  at The Wrap:  WNBA Star Brittney Griner Talks About Becoming First Openly Gay Athlete Endorsed by Nike

Suivez-la Swoopes: Sheryl Swoopes’ son commits to Texas Tech

From Stephanie Kowalsky at the starsnews.com, timely but tough news: Ruthie Bolton: Ex-WNBA Star Victim of Domestic Violence; “It’s a Very Lonely Place to Be”

Breaking down in tears in front of a packed room, Bolton admitted in public for the first time that her ex-husband was abusive and that she used to live every day in fear of what he may do to her.

“I was living in an abusive marriage,” Bolton said, according to ESPN. “I could do whatever I wanted on the basketball court, I could defend an opponent, or hit a big shot, but I couldn’t get a grasp on my personal life.”

Out of Chicago: She didn’t play a minute, but Jersey City college student a star for WNBA team

“I was just scared to talk to people,” said Ortega, 21, who was born in Hoboken, but lived all her life in Jersey City with her family. “I thought my thoughts were either stupid or weren’t worth saying, so I just kept most of it to myself.”

Fast-forward to her final year at Centenary College in Hackettstown, and Ortega is the president of its Sports Management Association, is a mentor to freshmen students, and most of all, had finished a summer internship with the WNBA team Chicago Sky, where she was ranked No. 1 out of 8 interns in sales.

From Fast Company: Will the Future of Sports Reporting Include Sports Reporters? 

Dano first approached the men’s major leagues, but didn’t get anywhere. “There was interest, but the bigger leagues are a bit more cautious and guarded with how they adopt things,” he says. So he decided to focus on the WNBA, a league that could benefit more from the publicity. “The WNBA was really receptive,” says Dano. “Once we broke that ice, that validated things. We had one good partner, and they talked to their colleagues in the other leagues.” There are now about 40 WNBA players using the service, the most from any league. “Just about every player idea that we’ve gone to SportsBlog with, they’ve accepted and helped out with,” says WNBA Players Association director of operations, Pam Wheeler.

Out of the NCAA: June Courteau named coordinator of women’s basketball officiating

June Courteau has been named the NCAA’s national coordinator of women’s basketball officiating, bringing more than 45 years of officiating experience to the position.

“I have had the unique opportunity to work closely and learn from the last three national coordinators and am thrilled to be provided this great opportunity,” said Courteau. “Maintaining the momentum created by Anucha Browne at the national office on both the rules and officiating fronts is job one. The stakeholders in our game, including the rules committee, coaches, coordinators of officials and the officials themselves must continue to be heard and have buy-in towards these decisions. We continue to strive for a free flowing and up-tempo game.”

WATN? Lafayette women’s basketball staff adds Hall of Famer Theresa Grentz, former U.S. Olympic coach

“Passion, charisma, expertise and integrity are just a few adjectives describing coach Grentz,” Leopards head coach Dianne Nolan said in a news release. “I am very excited for our players, staff and the Lafayette community to interact with coach Grentz, as she shares her wealth of knowledge and experience.”

BTW: NBA Announces Major 9-Year TV Deal With ESPN, ABC, TNT: WNBA And NBA D-League Get New Contracts

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Just in case you missed it: Basketball – Semi Final and Final Medal Matches | Full Replay | Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games

USA Semi-Final game against Hungary starts at the 5 minute mark.
Gold Medal Game against Netherlands starts at the 3 Hour 04 minute mark.

Speaking of USA basketball, the pool of candidates for the National Team is an embarrassment of riches: 

The old saying that you can’t have too much of a good thing is, in fact, true. But it doesn’t always make things easy.

Consider the talent pool for the U.S. women’s national team in basketball. There’s not just a lot of “good” there, but a lot of “great.”

One of the dilemmas that USA Basketball faces is how to fine-tune the makeup of the squad going into major international competitions such as the upcoming FIBA World Championship.

No matter which 12 women are picked for the final roster, the Americans will be the favorite to win the gold medal in Turkey. But how does USA Basketball make tough calls about potentially adding younger players to the team?

From Kate: Why Dolan Shouldn’t Fire Laimbeer.

Laimbeer was not hired to guide a mediocre roster. He was hired to first help shape, then eventually motivate (his strength) a roster equipped to win a title. Truth is, that previous version of the Liberty was built for playoff appearances and early playoff exits — not championships, not even close. Everyone within the franchise knew the truth, and everyone around the league knew it too. Since the moment Laimbeer walked in the door, the Liberty have been plotting for future domination. Sometimes you have to get worse before you get better, which is exactly the space in which New York finds itself right now.

Well, right there — that’s your first mistake: assuming Dolan gives a flying hoot about the Liberty.

Second: You mention Essence as a floor balancer who, truly, wasn’t 100%, (but will she ever be) but who is she “balancing” against. You don’t mention Cappie? Has she been traded?

Third: “..a couple of smooth-shooting guards” playing for NY in 2016? Any idea how we’re going to get them, what with no draft picks and to trade bait? (Yes, maybe there’s interest in an east coast/west coast exchange… but how likely that?)

Fourth: You need a “conductor to harness the power.” So this means Cruz is not our point guard in two years? Who is?

Fifth: “gather complementary pieces — the rebounder, the lockdown defender, the banger — en route.” Anyone you have in mind? And again, we get them how?

Sixth: “This means one of the first pieces New York must secure is a center who can bang, who can take the defensive pressure off Charles.” Am I repeating myself? Name me any candidates that are available?

Finally – no, I don’t think Laimbeer should go. But projecting the Lib turnaround by 2016 is goofy. Yes, it’s hard to build a team around a center (power forward, if you’d like), but NY is currently made up of “old” and serviceable. There ain’t no Ford, Smith, or Nolan in the wings to rescue us. The team needs a complete overhaul…and that’s going to take a little longer than we’re going to like….

From Nate: After the Phoenix Mercury ended the L.A. Sparks’ season in the first round of the WNBA Playoffs for the second consecutive year – this time handing the Sparks a blowout loss at home – it’s painfully obvious that they need to make changes this offseason.

Back before the 2012 draft, I wrote that Nneka Ogwumike was the obvious pick for the L.A. Sparks but that maybe they’d consider a trade because she wouldn’t fit that roster as long as Candace Parker was there too. But ultimately, as I would later write before the 2013 season, that’s just the kind of situation where you take the best player available and figure everything out later.

Well, it’s now “later”. And the Sparks are well past the somewhat benign point of being at a “crossroads”.

A little belated, but congrats to Skylar, Sandy and Brittney.

And speaking of congrats: From Scot Gleeson at USA Today: Newly engaged Brittney Griner takes control of her life

Brittney Griner blushes and lets out an infectious smile when asked about her recent proposal to fellow WNBA player Glory Johnson.

“Yes, I put a ring on it,” Griner says.

The 6-8 women’s basketball star is used to the spotlight for her uncanny athleticism with the Phoenix Mercury on the court and her candid personality off it. Now, Griner says, it’s all “falling into place.”

As Phoenix and Minnesota get ready to rumble, Mechelle has 5 questions for West finals

Now we have a marquee matchup of two teams that each have won two WNBA titles. And between the Lynx (Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, Janel McCarville) and the Mercury (Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner), there are five former No. 1 overall draft picks.

There also are two players who’ve been the WNBA’s MVP: Moore, who won the award this year, and Taurasi, who did so in 2009. Taurasi was runner-up to Moore this season.

Kent Youngblood says Reeve feels good about Lynx headed into Phoenix series

“It’s a cohesive group,” she said. “I think the chemistry has really grown. Having Rebekkah [Brunson] back and Seimone [Augustus] back in the fold for the last few games. You guys all worried about the way we finished the season. But we knew we were making some progress.’’

Also from Kent: Lynx-Mercury series offers intriguing matchups

The formula is basic, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. When it comes to winning in the playoffs — no matter the opponent — the Lynx have to be efficient on offense and defend well.

Of course that’s easier said than done when it comes to playing the Phoenix Mercury. The two teams will begin their best-of-three Western Conference finals Friday in Phoenix. They are the top two teams in the league in wins, points scored, point differential, field-goal percentage and offensive efficiency.

From Ryan Scott at Insight News: The hard road to a Lynx dynasty

The Lynx and Phoenix Mercury are on a collision course for the WNBA ages. And to put it concisely, Mercury stars Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi, “ain’t nothin’ nice.” At 6’8″ and boasting the leagues’ first highlight reel of dunks, Griner is a basketball nightmare similar to Wilt Chamberlain or Shaquille O’Neal in the men’s game. And though the adjectives and statistics for Griner can be rattled on for several pages, it is the cold-blooded Taurasi that should strike the greater fears in the Lynx.

Mechelle also had a little something to say about Delle Donne.

For most of June and July, she was forced to watch the Sky struggle without her. She played just four games during those two months. She missed the WNBA All-Star Game. She couldn’t be sure when she would be able to return to action.

All that backstory makes what happened Tuesday night in Atlanta even more remarkable. We didn’t just see one of the more clutch climbs out of a deep hole in WNBA playoff history. We saw it done by a player and a team whose season has been the very definition of resilience.

About that game… Kris Willis notes: The Atlanta Dream saw a 20 point lead slip away in a heartbreaking 81-80 loss to the Chicago Sky 

And yes, it was the biggest fourth-quarter comeback in WNBA playoff history.

“It was just a resilient effort by my team. Obviously, Atlanta owned us for much of the game,” Sky coach Pokey Chatman said. “They were having our way us in terms of points in the paint. Everything was not in our favor, but we stayed the course, and when it got late it became time for players to make plays, my big-time player [Delle Donne] stepped up.”

From the Chicago Tribune: Delle Donne’s basket with 8.2 seconds left wins series for Sky

I think we were playing to win,” Lyttle said. “We just stopped executing, and all of a sudden it was a one-point lead and we wondered, ‘How did that happen?'”

From Jayda: VIDEO: Elena Delle Donne, Courtney Vandersloot advance to conference Finals

You knew it was going to happen. Elena Delle Donne is too incredible of a talent to not wash over a game like a tidal wave in attempt to lead her Chicago to a win. But, as Atlanta coachMichael Cooper said afterward, she could do her damage — which she did Tuesday — and the Dream could’ve still won.

Instead, Atlanta PG Jasmine Thomas missed two free-throws with 17.3 seconds left in a decisive Game 3 playoff matchup against Chicago.

Also from Jayda: Storm 2014 Exit Interviews: Angel Robinson left an impression

And, yep! WNBA star Swin Cash part of historic all-female sports show

In college news:

Cal adds some coaches: Devanei Hampton and Sweets Underwood

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What a great way to spend a beautiful Sunday and get NO work done: watch a sweet quintology of WNBA games.

Most every team involved put in a fine show – entertaining to watch, tough nosed, and almost making you wish we could pull a  FIFA. No, not accept a bribe. Call a game a tie.

It started early with the Shock finally winning a close one AND an away game. Tough loss for Chicago, who did all they could do with their tall folks sitting on the bench. But, the Diggins Scowl was in the house, and her fierce game got some support from her teammates, and down went the Sky.

I’ll be honest: Totally did not expect the Dream to die in New York. But, with Cappie having a stunningly efficient game and Sugar showing up, the Lib survive so-so-ness from Tina and Alex (and Cruuuuuz survived several abrupt encounters with the floor) to earn the win. Helped that Angel went for high-volume shooting and someone jinxed Tiffany Hayes and Jasmine Thomas.

The Sparks sputtered at home against a balanced San Antonio (though McBride looked human).  It’s not that LA was awful.  But turnovers (22) and miserable shooting from behind the arc (1-11) doomed them. You know,  if Kristi returns from her “personal business” and the Sparks start winning, she’s going to be in-Toliverable.

The still Catch-less Fever kept Minnesota honest through much of the game. They shot for crap (37%), and the Lynx shot for gold (57%) and they still only lost by 6.  Nice offensive balance by the Lynx, but you gotta wonder what will happen if Brunson can’t return. (Yes, Dev, we see you….) Classy move by Lynx to honor Dunn.

The night cap between Seattle and Washington was a high quality classic. Old (UConn) Guard v. New (UConn) Guard as Bird and Hartley went toe to toe, which was wicked fun to watch. The teams combined for a measly 20 turnovers, which was a delight to see. The game went into overtime, as it should. And Seattle won, as the fans deserved.

BTW: Cool, though I’m not a fan: WNBA Pride shirts led sales for all NBA merchandise in its first week

Equally cool: Kate Fagan on Tina Charles: Changing the World, One AED at a Time

Speaking of cool: Seattle U’s Chillin4Charity!

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lovely few days in Minneapolis. Got to hang with family friends, see an overflowing Minnehaha Falls, re-connect with one of the original WHB bloggers, finish the second to last of my WBHOF articles, present a kick-butt conference session with some amazing educators and researchers, and chill with three fabulous munchkins: Theo, Jonah and Mae.

Now I need a nap.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world has contented spinning:

Exciting visit to the White House for Stef… I mean, the UConn’s women’s team. (Oh, dear: UConn women’s basketball in good shape for next title run)

The Lynx aren’t far behind.

New jobs for Megan Duffy and Jocelyn Wyatt and Katy Steding.

Speaking of jobs: Jenny Boucek talks about career, NBA coaching aspirations

FSU lands K-State (finally) transfer Leticia Romero.

I like when this happens: NOLA is tracking LSU alum in the W.

Ray at Swish Appeal has an Interview with San Antonio Stars rookie Kayla McBride: Adjusting to the WNBA

Ben York is talking The Evolution of Diana Taurasi

As her illustrious career continues, Taurasi has adapted to various styles of play that best suits that particular roster and team – something that is infinitely easier said than done, especially when many consider you to be the best player in the world.

In the run-and-gun years, Phoenix needed her to put the ball in the basket as much as humanly possible (not that it would be frowned upon now).

In the past few years, as the league has progressed, they’ve needed her ability to create and get the entire team involved (which is a direct correlation with being amongst the league-leaders in assists).

Nevertheless, it’s one thing to have an evolving game but another thing entirely to be effective at it – and finish amongst the league-leaders in the process.

Are the stars returning to the stands? First, NY gets Billie Jean King, now Ludacris And Others Attend WNBA Atlanta Dream’s “Dads & Daughters Night”

Medic! Lauren Jackson gets more knee surgery. EDD continues to be plagued by Lyme Disease.

From Patricia Babcock McGraw: Struggling Prince trying to find answers

During the Los Angles game, Prince was in uniform for the first time this season. But she did not see the floor.

In Atlanta, Prince made her season debut, but played only 9 minutes. She did, however, score 7 points.

She had been out until that point for personal reasons and joined the team only two weeks ago, battling what seems to be a severe case of mental exhaustion.

As for the games since I departed NY and returned…. can anyone figure this season out? I mean, except for Minnesota, who has got their you-know-what-together?

From David: Dishin & Swishin 06/12/14 Podcast: Underrated as a player and team, Danielle Robinson and San Antonio surprising in the West

Cappie remembers how to score, and the Lib stomp Washington.  (surprise! btw. ESPN still has the Lib in Newark.)

Parker scores a lot and rebounds a lot… but the rest of the team? Not so much. Minnesota dispatched the Sparks at the Staples Center.

Cappie forgets how to score, Diggins does not: Tulsa wipes the floor with New York. And hellooooo Courtney Paris! Welcome to the defense-free Liberty front court. (So much for that “heart-to-heart” meeting, Libs.)

More thumping of the Mystics, this time by Brittney.

Delle Donne-less Sky fall to the Storm. I wonder how much her extended minutes has played into the reoccurrence of the Lyme disease.

The Catch-less Fever rallied to take down Seattle and make Lin Dunn’s big night in Indianapolis extra special.

Steve Lebron at Policymic writes: How Much Women’s Basketball Players Make in the U.S. vs. China

While NBA players secure financial stability the minute they enter the league as first-round picks, the most talented female players are — while adequately compensated relative to other occupations — very low on the financial totem pole for athletes.

Fun times for USA Basketball at the 3×3 tournament.

Speaking of USA Basketball:

U of L’s Hammond calls gold medal experience ‘humbling’

Sara Hammond said Sunday, after representing the United States and earning a gold medal doing so, that her FIBA World Championship experience was tough to put into words.

The University of Louisville basketball player managed nonetheless after her USA Basketball 3×3 women’s team took gold in Moscow.

 

Three sisters, one out-of-sight dad

Jon Samuelson, father of one of the most successful sister acts in women’s basketball, is ever-present in the lives of his three talented daughters — he’s just hard to find during their games.

Samuelson, who played college basketball at Cal State Fullerton and pro ball in Europe, has taught the game to Bonnie, who will be a senior at Stanford this fall; Karlie, a rising sophomore at Stanford; and Katie Lou, a 6-foot-3 wing at Mater Dei High School (Santa Ana, Calif.), a Connecticut recruit and the No. 1 prospect in the 2015 class.

From Amanda Hess at Slate.com: The WNBA Finally Recognizes Its Lesbian Fans

This month, the WNBA became the first American pro sports league to openly recruit LGBTQ fans by launching a dedicated marketing platformselling rainbow basketball pride T-shirts, and sponsoring pride games across the country. On June 22, ESPN2 will air the first-ever nationally televised pride game. WNBA President Laurel Richie frames the strategy as a smart business decision: Recent market research has revealed that 21 percent of lesbians have attended a WNBA game, and 25 percent have watched one on TV. For a league that’s had serious difficulties getting anyone to fill its seats, those stats are astonishing.

The New York Times’ Julie Macur writes: Coast Cleared by Others, W.N.B.A. Finally Finds Its Gay Pride

When Brittney Griner, the No. 1 pick in the 2013 W.N.B.A. draft, heard about her league’s new campaign to market games to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, she said, “What are we going to have, T-shirts, shoes?”

It was about time, Griner said she thought, and then wondered what she could do to help.

I find the comments interesting and insightful (something unusual, we know, when folks comment on articles about women’s athletics.  While I, too, have been frustrated at the far-too underground recognition of the lesbian fan base, I’m finding some of the finger pointing and shoulda-coulda rather tone-deaf.

Simple question: who has more security? The NCAA or the WNBA? Who has more players, more fans, more “institutions?” NCAA, WBCA? I’m lookin’ and YOU.

Doug gives Chiney and Nneka some focus: WNBA’s Ogwumike sisters raise funds for education in Nigeria

WATN? UConn and CT Sun standout Nykesha Sales visits CBC

Oh, the drama: Diamond DeShields to join Vols

More good news for the Vols: Te’a Cooper gives verbal to Tennessee

Speaking of Knoxville: Dunn led way for today’s generation – Lin Dunn to be inducted into Women’s Basketball HOF on Saturday (ESPN3, 7 ET)

There are two kinds of vision, of course. The kind that lets you see what’s in front of you, and the kind that lets you imagine what you hope will one day be there.

Indiana Fever coach Lin Dunn always has had both, going back to her youth in Tennessee in the 1950s and ’60s. Even then, Dunn had a passion for sports and could see strategy and tactics as a natural-born coach. But she also saw what wasn’t there: enough opportunities and support for girls and women in athletics.

When Dunn is inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend in Knoxville, Tennessee, as part of a class of six, the honor will be a testament to Dunn’s determination to make the real world line up better with the possibilities she always imagined.

Lin gets around the “only five minutes to speak at the induction ceremony” rule by writing for ESPN: Five decades of fighting for equality – Lin Dunn to be inducted into Women’s Basketball HOF on Saturday

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as those who knew coach Ginny Doyle and Natalie Lewis mourn and regroup….

A women’s basketball history tweet-scusion brought this back: More Than a Game: 6-On-6 Basketball In IowaIn 1993, the era of girls’ six-on-six basketball in Iowa came to an end. This one-hour IPTV documentary takes a look back at the game and what it meant to generations of girls who played it. Check out the video.

Almost lost is the shuffle: a good move for VCU, and a hiccup for Stony Brook.  We (as in the royal we) at WHB had watched with an eager eye last season as Beth O’Boyle  continued to shift the Stony Brook Seawolves from a “walkover” to “watch out.” Her work caught the eye of a smart AD, and so she’s off to another state. From Hanaa’ Tameez at the Statesman: Former Women’s Basketball head coach O’Boyle prepares for new challenges at VCU

“VCU is an opportunity for me where one of the biggest things is to get closer to home,” O’Boyle said in a phone interview. 

“My family is all in Maryland, less than two hours from here. The opportunity for them to share in my coaching a little bit more and be a closer to them was really a big part of the decision.

“I absolutely love my players at Stony Brook and I couldn’t even imagine not coaching them next year,” she continued. 

“It was extremely difficult and it was really important to me that they hear my decision from me and not on Twitter.”

Speaking of moving: Old Dominion star Shae Kelley transferring to Minnesota (guess the Monarchs don’t have an issue with releasing folks, huh, K-State.)

Speaking of NOT moving, how about Mechelle on K-State’s mean-spiritedness?

Let’s hope ego doesn’t trump common sense and recognizing the decision was wrong. Because it was. I spent a lot of time talking on and off the record to people involved in this decision. I think the university jumped to the conclusion that since she asked to leave, it had to be because a member or members of the former staff was behind it. I interviewed Romero over the phone and in person. I talked to her nearly three hours between the two. I asked her a ton of questions. She is extremely bright, very well-spoken even though she has only been speaking English regularly for less than a year, and she has a very strong personality. I believe her. I think school officials did not take enough time to just *listen* to her. John Currie, the athletic director, did not even meet with her before signing off on the decision to deny her release. He may say that’s because she didn’t ask him directly for the release. She went to the compliance office, because she thought that was where she was supposed to go. Why didn’t the AD reach out to the best player on the team last year and say, “Let’s have a face-to-face meeting about you wanting a release. Let me hear from you why, and let’s talk about it.” Was she not important enough? Was it easier to just deny the release, assume she was a puppet, and then toss her to the appeals committee, which never gave her any reasons for denying her appeal? What more does she have to say? She’s said, “I wasn’t tampered with, but if you are so sure I was, then block ANY school you want to block.” Do they really have to block every D-I school in the United States by denying the release? Does that seem even marginally reasonable?

OPA! UMaine women’s basketball team completes recruiting class with Greek guard Gerostergiou

Guess who I’ll be hanging with in Istanbul this fall? Bruno, Staley, Reeve assist women’s national team (Should I watch out for flying jackets? <g>)

Speaking of the Flying Jacket: From Mechelle: Lynx again the WNBA favorite – League’s 18th season opens Friday; defending champs open at Mystics

The champagne was still wet on coach Cheryl Reeve’s clothes when her mind took a quick look ahead. Her Minnesota Lynx had just won their second WNBA title last October, so players and coaches were celebrating with some bubbly. But Reeve also had the big picture in sight.

Three consecutive appearances in the WNBA Finals? Winning two of those three series? Great … but Reeve knows every WNBA team is still measured against a higher standard set long ago.

It ain’t going to be a walk in the park, though: No Wright, Peters and now no Becky.

From David Woods at the Indy Star: 13 seasons in, Tamika Catchings can still provide for Indiana Fever (how can it possibly be 13?)

Tamika Catchings doesn’t need to be treated as delicately as a museum artifact.

After all, the Indiana Fever forward is coming off a season in which she averaged 17.7 points and 7.1 rebounds a game, comparable to her WNBA career statistics (16.7 and 7.5). Moreover, the Fever recovered from a 1-7 start and reached the Eastern Conference finals for a fourth time in five years.

However, the 34-year-old “Catch” is in the fourth quarter now. She has pledged to play through the 2016 Olympic Games and is looking ahead to a new career in a WNBA front office. She is looking for a successor to her decade-long position as president of the players’ association.

Also from SwishAppeal: Q&A: Chicago Sky coach Pokey Chatman on Elena Delle Donne’s strength, Sylvia Fowles’ injury, and trading Swin Cash and Q&A: Chicago Sky center Sylvia Fowles talks about her injury, rehab, and the loss of Swin Cash

So, yah, it’s only preseason, but have you noticed what Diggins’ been Doin’?

And yah, the Liberty are “Back in Black” (y’all better EARN those jerseys) and have Tina Charles (will the locals come?)…. but how successful are they going to be with Cappie alone at the point?

And the “Live Access” mishegoss begins. It’s breathtaking how much effort the League puts in to MISSING a chance to join the 21st Century and build a happy fan base. BTW, Muffet? The discount code is: WNBALA2014

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birding in Arizona.

First, after a long hike up a beautiful canyon, I get to see this:

(Rufous Crowned Warbler – and no, it’s not my shot.)

Second, I got to miss this: Lindsay Whalen, Maya Moore spark Lynx’s rout of Liberty (Oh, and “Message sent, message not received” much? Maya played 33 minutes.)

Third, if I’m lucky (and finish the grant-writing stuff I need to do) I’ll get to see this:

(Red-faced Warbler — and again, no, it’s not my shot.)

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she’s not on my team. *sigh*

Yes, perhaps the “Three to See” has become the “Two to View”, but wow, how much fun is it to watch Elena Delle Donne play. (And congrats to her, CAA Scholar Athlete of the Year) Granted, the Lib had no one who could guard her. Katie? Nice try — she gives up inches and years. Plennette? Delightfully physical, which EDD handled, but nowhere quick enough. The kid plays in control, is ACTUALLY a guard in a forward’s body, and has pogo-stick-like elevation skills.

Pokey plays EVERYone, and yesterday, they all seemed able to play. Who knows if it’s chemistry, coaching or basketball IQ, but the team looks so in sync with each other. It’s as if everyone’s field of vision/sense is open to their teammates and they can all “sense” where each other are on the court. There was one moment where the Sky did lose their mind offensively, and if Pokey could have kicked badgers out of her toes, she would have.

Of note:

Big Sly was back on the court and, while she didn’t light up the scoreboard, her quick hands were in every passing lane.
Carolyn Swords: Since when did she become a reliable, nitty-gritty big?
Prince: Always interesting to watch her battle her ego when she goes up against Cappie.
Sloot: Just as I said, “You know, if Courtney ever rediscovers her shot, then….” Eureka, guess what happened?
Blue Hens fans: In da house, courtesy of Amtrak and a convoy of buses.

The best Liberty moment? When they were showing “When they were a baby” photos, and there was golden lab puppy Maddie with a crown on his head…. 

I don’t know what happened during the game, and I don’t have the cast-iron metaphorical cojones to walk up to Katie Smith and ask her these things, but she was hot under the collar like nobody’s business. I thought someone on Chicago said something about her mother or something. Her head was not in the game the rest of the way. She couldn’t find her rhythm shooting, and her defense was below her average. I don’t expect her to be a total game-changer anymore, but we could have used her to keep the game within striking distance. Leilani Mitchell was pesky, but she couldn’t check Vandersloot sufficiently, which meant that defensively she was reduced to doubling down and trying to make things happen with disruption. As you might be able to discern from the score, this was not successful. Avery Warley rebounded well, but I think everyone involved knew that she was out of her depth. Kara Braxton muscled a little bit, but this was not a smart Kara day. This was a very dumb Kara day. If Kelsey can’t get easy shots to fall and Kara’s having a very dumb day, things are not going to end well in the post for the Liberty. Cappie Pondexter showed a spark of life in the second quarter, and she and Kamiko teamed up for one beautiful defensive sequence that resulted in a shot clock violation, but too much of the offense was flowing into her and then stagnating. It was Cappie against the world, just like it was under Whiz, and that’s not a scheme for long-term success. She took a lot of good shots, but she took even more bad shots.

And yes, that was the Lib’s “best” moment. The team is out of sorts, Bill looks like he’s out of options, and NY could easily slide out of the playoffs, ’cause CT can still get healthy.

Meanwhile, in Minny, the on-again, off-again buzz saw that is the Lynx was on again and, as a result, Phoenix was sliced and diced. The “damn it” news is that Augustus left the building on crutches, meaning it’s likely she’s a no-show for the game against the Dream.

The Q is back, and Mike *breathes a sign of relief* T is the winningest. Nice 212-congrats.

No, Tina didn’t “officially” cost the Sun a win, but her ridiculous melt down/two Ts effectively stopped Connecticut’s momentum and hamstrung their comeback effort against Indiana.

Yah, we thought this is what it was that took Becky down, but we like to delude ourselves sometimes: Frackin’ ACLs.

Doug at the AP recycles the “Expand the Roster” story.

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Vets, rookies give Mystics new life

Snow, an 11-year veteran, and Hill, the No. 4 draft pick in April, represent the extremes in experience for the Mystics.

On one hand, you have the 6-foot-5 center who has seen it all in the pro game and been able to steadily keep a job. On the other hand, you have a 5-10 guard who’s learning more every day about what it takes to earn minutes in this league.

“When you’re young,” says Mystics point guard Ivory Latta, “you need that veteran who will get in your grill and say: ‘Hey, you are at the next level. Everybody is faster, quicker, they jump higher, they get in the passing lanes. You have to adjust.’

“Tayler — she’s going to be great. She just has to get into the rhythm of how the WNBA is played, and it takes some time.”

Where I’m going to be tonight: Liberty Host Eastern Conference Rival Connecticut Sun, by Ros Gold-Onwude

The Connecticut Sun (2-3) are hampered by injuries of their own. Streaky shooter and solid defender Renee Montgomery is out with an ankle injury. Shooter Tan White is out with a broken finger. Kara Lawson missed a game with a sore back but returned to play on Wednesday against the Indiana Fever. Due to all the injuries the Sun brought in veteran guard Iziane Castro Marquez who brings size and another scoring option to the wing. The Sun bounced back after a three game losing streak with a 73-61 win over the Indiana Fever on Wednesday June 12th. Reigning MVP Tina Charles carried the Sun with 30 points and 10 rebounds in an inspired effort. Lawson returned to the court to add 12 points but seemed limited, only shooting 5-14 and giving up 6 turnovers.

Speaking of New Jersey,  C Viv in the Nine for IX Short: ‘Coach’ Preview

Check out a preview clip from the Nine for IX digital short film “Coach,” the Best Documentary Short winner at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. “Coach” will debut on espnW.com on June 18, while the Nine for IX documentary series begins July 2 on ESPN.

Nate ponders the Three keys to the Atlanta Dream succeeding without Sancho Lyttle

Adding to the discussion of rosters and money, Clay says, In the WNBA, injuries change everything

So even though the Liberty knocked off Atlanta Sunday, starting 75-year-old Katie Smith every night is simply not the way to win consistently in this year’s very tough and competitive WNBA. As time goes on, the 12 teams are not only getting more talented, they are developing identity and pride, and a group like the San Antonio Silver Stars, hampered as they are by their own injuries, are going to play tough almost every night out. Even downtrodden and unlucky Tulsa is not guaranteed win, as the Shock have taken some of the league’s best into overtime.

This flew under my radar — and it’s interesting, because about five years ago, a NCAAW coach was talking to me about “concerns” at Nike. Nike LGBT Sports Summit underway in Portland

Folks are tweeting the event: #LGBTSportsSummit

The second annual Nike LGBT Sports Summit started this week at the same time the city gears up for the Portland Pride Festival.

The summit held in downtown Portland includes more than 100 leaders in LGBT sports community.  There are various initiatives, all centered around ending bias and discrimination of LGBT athletes and their fans.

Cyd Zeigler of OutSports.com is one of the founders of the summit, and credits Nike for hosting the event.

And Nike unveils line of sneakers celebrating gay pride – The colorful #BeTrue Free Run 5.0 shoes are available in the U.S. for $115, and profits will benefit the LGBT Sports Coalition.

In addition to the professional activists and media, the attendees include athletes, coaches or representatives affiliated with colleges and universities around the country, as well as the NCAA, USOC and USA Wrestling. And there’s an anticipated increase in the participation of active and former athletes and coaches. More than a dozen current college athletes (gay and straight) will be joined by another dozen coaches, including Portland State women’s basketball coach Sherri Murrell. Murrell is the lone out coach in Division I, and her perspective — on her responsibilities as a mentor to her athletes and as a responsible citizen to the wider community — might help move the national conversation beyond questioning an LGBT person’s fitness to coach, or beyond concerns over sexuality or gender identity, and back to simple ability.
Bill Laimbeer is standing in a piece of real estate that he used to own. Both his feet are firmly planted in the paint as he’s calmly instructs the players that Bill Laimbeer the GM has provided him how to feel for the balance and weight of a defender. Later he’ll show some of his guards how to properly curl off of an off-ball pick. Every now and then he’ll smile, too.In their 16-year existence, the New York Liberty, one of the WNBA’s original eight teams, have never won a title. There have been three finals appearances, but the last one was in 2002. Last year they finished the season 15-19. Laimbeer, on the other hand, is a three time WNBA champion—2003, ’06 and ’08—the second most in league history. It took him less than two full seasons to lead the Shock to their first WNBA title. The Liberty are hoping for an even faster clock this time around.

And some sad news that I saw, but couldn’t get to: Memorial service set for Melissa Erickson, former Washington player
Melissa Erickson, a former Washington basketball player, died Wednesday after a seven-year battle with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). She was 34.
A public memorial service has been set for June 21 at 5pm at Alaska Airlines Arena, or Hec Ed as Erickson and her teammates knew it when the Huskies advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight her senior season in 2001.

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Unless, of course, you’re the LA Sparks and have to play your opening round at Galen. No never mind, though, as the SASS will have to stew on their way back to San Antonio, as they saw their lead slip away into a LA win.

At the Casino, life was probably a little more interesting than the Sun wanted, what with New York hanging around until the end, but Tina’s points made the difference and the Sun won their first playoff game since ’08. (Yikes!) Oh, and Carolyn, honestly, wear the bloody reading glasses. You’re IQ will go up 50 points if you’re not improvising because you can’t read what someone else wrote for you.

How Slam Online do in their preview? WNBA Playoff Preview Who will reign victorious in the first round of the WNBA Playoffs?

Looking at tonight, Mechelle says: Seattle’s identity still taking shape and Jayda adds: As playoffs begin, Storm healthy but still a bit unsure.  There’s a little more optimism here: Storm rested, ready to test mettle in playoffs

From the Runner Up MVP: Tamika Catchings would love to add WNBA title to sterling resume

The Pioneer Press says For Minnesota Lynx’s title defense, mum’s the word,

the Lynx site is busy Breaking Down The Lynx’s Record-Setting Regular Season, Fox Sports has Old and new mesh well for WNBA’s Lynx, while Sports Page Magazine offers As playoffs begin, coaches assess the West.  

LSU pays attention to their alum: Augustus, Hightower Set for WNBA Playoffs as does PSU: Storm and Former Lady Lion Standout Wright Open WNBA Playoffs Friday and the Blue Raiders: Alysha Clark and Seattle Storm open WNBA Playoffs on Friday

In the awards derby:

Hays: Charles wins MVP, thanks Thibault

Kara Lawson Receives 2012 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award

Sun’s Montgomery earns Sixth Woman Award

Smith: Toliver transforms into MIP

This from WaPo: Former Terrapin Kristi Toliver, eases up and excels for WNBA’s Sparks

During her first three seasons in the WNBA, former Maryland all-American Kristi Toliverfaced a more formidable adversary than any opponent wearing a different jersey: her own internally corrosive passion.

This year, however, Toliver began to dilute the more acidic aspects of her intensity. As a result, the guard had her best season as a professional and played a vital role in helping the Los Angeles Sparks reach the WNBA playoffs.

From those teams not playing:

Voepel: Magical for Merc but not Mystics

Hays: Behind-the-scenes with Washington

Hays: Gaines on Griner, prospects

From Fox Sports: Griner’s skills tower over compatibility issues and from Swish Appeal: Is Phoenix Ready For Brittney Griner?

And from Hoopfeed: How to “fix” the WNBA Draft Lottery Problem

From the College ranks:

Out of Sacto: California law will aid hurt athletes

Out of Connecticut: A Lobster Tail. Tale: This one’s above and beyond basketball

This is the story of someone’s Warholian 15 minutes. And how it morphed into a narrative of inspiration. And how it reminds us, during this season of playoffs, pigskins and pennant races, that sports are for win or lose, not life or death.

It has particular relevance here on the day the WNBA Playoffs begin and women’s basketball goes national again for a few weeks. This is one the nation needs to know: How humanity transcends the rivalry in the country’s only two outposts where women’s basketball is part of the culture.

Here is the two-minute drill version: A little girl in Niantic asked a man named Don MacKenzie to save an 80-year-old, 17-pound lobster from what would become a date with a bib and butter. And now somewhere around $5,000 has been raised from Connecticut to the Pat Summitt Foundation.

No, really

The Pacer at UT-Martin has: Pat Head Summitt: The story behind the women’s basketball legend

Out of UT Knoxville: Bashaara Graves loves her hometown, and Lady Vols

Also out of UT Knoxville — you knew this was coming: Debby Jennings files suit against UT for ‘unlawful discrimination’; says Pat Summitt was told she would not return as coach

From the Richmond Times: Offseason attrition makes VCU’s women’s basketball coach road rockier

From Naples, Fl: FGCU notebook: Women’s hoops ready to work

A little WATN? in Boiler-land: Wisdom-Hylton rejoins Purdue women’s basketball program

An update from the Illini: Tate: Bollant builds support system

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and it can’t get up. (And no, it’s not because Augusta finally recognized women exist.) They had the lowly Mystics down and couldn’t put them away. I see storm clouds in the Land of Lincoln.

Sure, it was sorta close in the beginning — and then the real Minnesota stepped up and the Shock walked away with another loss.

Without Dee (and her “dental procedure”) the Merc are beyond toothless and San Antonio is all smiles.

It’s a sore subject. Clay weighs in: Taurasi must play — or both she and Phoenix must pay

She has now missed two games after the break, for dental work, which again, could be legit. (Josh Reddick, a starting Oakland A’s outfielder, has been bothered by dental work for a week, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility.) But hey, we’re done with that. The next game is Thursday, and Taurasi will have had 11 days since the gold medal game to get over whatever traumas she suffered in London – and there is absolutely no reason she shouldn’t play.

So does Mechelle: Mercury falling while lottery looms

Maybe for the next home game — Thursday with New York — the Mercury brass can pump nitrous oxide into the US Airways Center. Perhaps laughing gas will make the Phoenix players and fans feel falsely euphoric — even if former Phoenix standout Cappie Pondexter, now with the Liberty, outscores the Mercury by herself.

Here’s who is definitely not laughing, though: Those fans and observers from around the league who are furious with the Mercury’s continued free fall, because they believe it to be largely intentional.

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Well, almost.

Diana couldn’t make it out to Seattle, Sue and her flu did, Seattle shot well and Phoenix aka “the walking wounded,” couldn’t buy a basket. Result? The Storm are at .500 and looking forward to the return of LJ.

Same ole, same ole with the Mystics: they get their distinctly unmagical butt handed to them by the Fever. Congrats to Catch: her 14 &14 made that her 76th double-double.

Who dat on the court?!?! Dat be Plennette! Welcome back, lady! PP hit the courts with a vengance, the Libs found their shooting touch and the Sun slid back to their “on-the-road-get-discombobulated-and-lose (17 TOs)” look: NY 79, CT 66. Nice to see Kristie Ackert back in the house talking to HOF bound SUUUUUUUUUE.

Sue Wicks recognized the look on Tina Charles’ face eight years ago. Then a top recruit at Christ the King High School in Queens, Charles had wide eyes and her smile was huge when she saw Wicks, then a Rutgers assistant coach.

“It was immediate. She recognized me, I was the player she watched with the Liberty,” said Wicks, who sat courtside at the Prudential Center as the Liberty upset Charles and the Connecticut Sun on Thursday night, 79-66. “Now I watch her and (Liberty guard) Cappie (Pondexter), who played for us at Rutgers and I am so proud of them and of what we built.”

In anticipation of tonight’s game, Nate tries to figure out What Angel McCoughtry’s 2012 Olympic Performance Means For The Atlanta Dream
Speaking of the Olympics:

Auriemma: Olympics ‘most pressure I’ve ever felt’

UConn Coach Geno Auriemma Says One Olympics Is Enough

Geno Auriemma happy to go out on top as Olympic basketball coach

Geno Auriemma On 2016 Rio Olympics: ‘I Would Say It Is Somebody Else’s Turn’ To Coach

I’m guessing that, reading the links (I’m assuming they wouldn’t bother to read the articles) there are several folks who are happy to see the above — they couldn’t put down their college-colored glasses and cheer for the US team.

What will folks do if a coach who represents a homophobic university is selected to lead the USA Basketball team?

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Tamika “just call me the Queen of Free Throws” sealed Indy’s win over the NY. Not quite the “Change” the Lib were looking for.

BTW, Sherron Shabazz does great research before an interview. Not. Q+A: Cappie Pondexter – Catching up with the New York Liberty guard.

Tulsa may be more stubborn that Washington but, in the end, the Lynx (and Moore/Wiggins) got a much needed win.

That’s four-in-a-row for LA, who’s lurking behind Minnesota.

Yah, the Merc are tired, but this’ll give you a lift: A Quick, Powerful Story About Diana Taurasi

The Sun continue to break old habits, and win on the road.

Clay says the WNBA East is not what it seems.

Who’s the MVP leader? Ask SlamOnline

For the collectors out there: 2012 Rittenhouse WNBA Basketball Cards

On the other levels:

High School – Talk about a sore loser: Fred Freeman, Wisconsin Girls Basketball Coach, Punches Player, 17, After Loss

High School to College: Breanna Stewart named Gatorade Athlete of the Year

Pre-college: Women’s basketball to participate in Preseason WNIT

College to History: Seattle University Women’s Basketball Coach Bonvicini Looks Back on 40 Years of Title IX

International College USA Basketball: Inaugural FIBA 3×3 World Championship named

Olympics: Diana Taurasi Injury Won’t Slow Gold Rush

Olympics: From USA Basketball To The WNBA, Renee Brown Knows Talent When She Sees It

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I went out to watch the Lib play Seattle on Saturday (and celebrate Maddie’s Sweet 16) and, yes the game was ugly, but the Storm looked… well, they looked just awful. Old, snippy and out of sorts (24 turnovers). New York took advantage (losing Vaughn in the process in a scary “looks like she got whacked in the head and her legs are jelly” moment) and earned the win.

Since the Storm was scheduled to play a back-to-back v. Connecticut, I fully expected the headline to read, “Storm get Slaughtered by Sun.”

Shows how much I know. Someone musta spiked the team’s Gatorade with a little Fountain of Youth juice, ’cause Seattle won. In overtime no less.

The suddenly surging SASS sucker-punched the Lynx. What award is Sophia going for?

Squeak! That was Sylvia sinking last-second free throws to seal the win. (The Sancho three (!?!?) helped.)

*the above sentences were brought to you by the letter “S”*

Washington beat Phoenix.

 

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where the 2012 Dive for Griner Invitational is being held. And Fred, early on in the season, it’s hard not to believe the Liberty aren’t in the driver’s seat.”

“I’m tempted to agree with you, Ethel. Clearly, the off-season plans of standing pat – that is, getting older and wider — combined with the brilliance of drafting a player who was all but guaranteed to keep the bench warm… well, it’s all paying off the expected dividends.”

“True, Fred, but could we have anticipated this level of success at the Dive? I mean, the Lib have managed to lose their last four games by double digits. That takes some doing.”

“Well, Ethel, it’s hard to measure the impact of actions long term, but some might look to the acquisition of Cappie as the beginning of it all. You add one gunslinger who wants to do it all — unless, of course, it interferes with her off court interests — and you have the seeds for success. I will say, though, that it was a touch of brilliance to bring in Plenette. Someone with heart and drive provides great cover for the rest of the team. I also think the “white line defense” is a great smoke screen — it reminds folks of the Libs glory years when scoring was, well, a challenge, and defense was the engine that could. Nostalgia is a great cover.”

“All right, for all of the apparent success of their quest for the Dive, isn’t there a slight danger of succeeding too much? I mean, what about the fans? I can all but hear myself breathe in the arena”

“I know what you’re hinting at Ethel, but you’re missing the ultimate brilliance of the Dive — do it out of sight and mind. No fans means no coverage. No coverage means no fans. If a team falls in Newark, and no one is there to see it, did it really happen? Besides, everything I’ve seen in my years of covering the Liberty have convinced me they have something fabulous in the hopper. They win the DGI, and suddenly a team will appear to surround her.”

“Unless, of course, someone beats them with their ping pong balls.”

“Tulsa? Don’t make me laugh. They actually have a coach and some players. Phoenix? They could get Taurasi back — same with Seattle and LJ. No, no, the only true threat I see is Washington. Why? I think they’ve ripped a few pages out of the Lib’s playbook and are trying to steal the IDG in their own mystical way. Don’t be surprised if they announce plans to renovate their arena.”

“All right, then, there you have it folks. Now let’s turn our attention to today’s game. What should we expect to see, Fred?”

“If the pattern holds, Cappie taking a ton of shots — and missing a lot. Several tall players wearing Liberty uniforms lagging behind the play and, if yesterday was any example, a white line defense waving the flag of surrender. It’s all just part of the plan.”

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With a hefty dose of W:

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Tulsa Shock

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

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Seattle Storm

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

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: San Antonio Silver Stars

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

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Phoenix Mercury

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

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Minnesota Lynx

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

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Los Angeles Sparks

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

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Washington Mystics

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

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: New York Liberty

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

Then everything got a little weird.

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Indiana Fever

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

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Connecticut Sun

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

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Chicago Sky

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

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Atlanta Dream

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

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

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Mechelle somehow finds the brain space to write about the US National Team: Wealth of luxuries for Team USA

With that much firepower spread out to cover every spot on the floor, the Americans could just spot the rest of the world a player. Of course, they’re not going to do that. So the last position, which will be filled this summer, could be used as much for the purpose of preparing for the next Olympics as it is for competing in these upcoming Games.

“Our job at USA Basketball is not only to win a gold medal this year, but also to make sure that we’re doing what we need to do in 2016, 2020,” Auriemma said. “So we’re not just picking the best team for this year, which obviously is the No. 1 goal, but we also want to be conscious of, ‘What do we need to do to keep this thing not only where it is, but to get it even better?'”

She also wonders: So, what about Cappie Pondexter?

Why wasn’t Pondexter, who is definitely one of the top scoring guards in the world, one of the 11 named? Callan and U.S. coach Geno Auriemma, who isn’t on the selection committee, said it was just a part of the tough process of putting together the team.

Yet there is also the fact that Pondexter didn’t play in the 2010 World Championships; she told USA Basketball back then that she was too tired from her just-completed WNBA season to compete. However, Pondexter did attend Fashion Week in New York City during the time the U.S. team was practicing for those worlds, which did raise some eyebrows.

Callan on Friday tried to defuse speculation that Pondexter’s choice back then was in any way related to USA Basketball’s decision for 2012. But, if nothing else, it did help make way for a player such as Lindsay Whalen to get a spot on the 2010 world championship team, and now she is one of the Olympians.

 

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and the US got the win: USA Basketball Women’s National Team Closes Out European Tour On High Note, Eclipses UE Sopron 73-63

“It was the complete opposite of the way we started (the second half) the other night,” said Geno Auriemma, 2009-12 USA National Team and University of Connecticut head coach. “There was a much better focus on the defensive end to kind of limit what the other team was doing. Because the defensive stops were there, we were then able to convert that into good offense. I think we took them out of their rhythm. They had a really nice flow offensively in the first half. And then, some defensive things that we did really caused them some problems. We had great ball movement in the third quarter and got open shots. It sounds so simple, but that’s basically what it was.”

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Griner blogs: 

PRACTICE
Okay, the first day of practice I just wanted to die. I was tired because there are only seven of us and yeah, I was worn out. It was crazy but practice is cool though. I had to learn quick, real quick. Everyone is very helpful. Swin Cash and Tina Charles both help me a lot. Tina calls me `kid’ but she is only two years older than me. She and I chill a lot in my room on our computers. Renee (Montgomery) is real nice and Cappie Pondexter is real cool. In fact, everyone is really nice to me and helps me out.

 

That’s all for now, gotta get some rest. Check back often, I’ll do more of these while I’m here.

 

 

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“If *fillintheblankwomensbasketballplayer* played in the NBA, how well would she do,” simply because it ain’t gonna happen and I kinda want fillin to play in the W.

But it is interesting when we get stuff like this from “Ball Don’t Lie”:

Apologies for the title of this video, because 28-year-old New York Liberty point guard and four-time WNBA All-Star Cappie Pondexter is most certainly not a girl. No, this is a woman who absolutely took it to journeyman NBA point guard, and 2004 lottery pick Sebastian Telfair(notes) towards the end of a pickup game during the Impact Basketball run in Las Vegas on Friday.

Here’s the video, courtesy Hoop Mix Tape:

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Seattle losing. At home. After running out to an 18pt lead. (Oh, and I wasn’t the only one. From Rebkell: 10:53 EST “it’s a wrap for phx…”)

So, yup, thanks to a Candice Dupree last second tw0-point (and almost in spite of Taurasi’s Increasingly Tempestuous Tantrums) “My Storm lost” (said the MA student I know.) Nate writes: Shock and Awe

Normally after a game that exciting – Storm or otherwise – I have no problem typing something beyond the basic recap. If the words don’t come to mind, I’ve developed all kinds of random tricks and mindgames to start typing. If typing doesn’t work, I go old school and pull out a pen and pad of paper. When all else fails, I hope that the numbers might bring some order to my thoughts.

But responding to a game like that is no time for statistics*.

After going through my progressions, I ultimately sat there staring at a sheet of yellow legal paper searching for a reaction – any reaction (Misery? Living Death by ref? The collapse of civilization as Storm fans know it!) – to what I just saw.

Where do you even begin?

In the early game, Catch played with a vengeance (no surprise she and Nicole got double-Ts. That battle was FIERCE) and Cappie continued her struggles in the face of Katie’s defense. End result, Indy gets to face Atlanta in the Conference Finals. (I don’t envy them)

Writes Mechelle of both winning teams: Unbreakable resolve leads Merc, Fever: Phoenix’s Penny Taylor, Indiana’s Katie Douglas lead the way

Thusly, we give kudos to Indiana’s Katie Douglas and Phoenix’s Penny Taylor, generally regarded as the highly respected “SBs” for their teams. But they were highly successful “BSs” in Tuesday’s two WNBA elimination games, from which the Fever and Mercury moved on to their conference finals.

Wait a second … by “SB,” obviously I meant “second banana.” And by “BS,” of course I meant “big star.” What other terms did you think I was referring to with those abbreviations? Huh? What kind of R-rated column do you think this is?

NEXT!

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almost became part of New York Liberty playoff lore… and then Tamika said, “No you don’t Cappie,” and Erin said, “Check this out, mom and dad!” and the Fever survived to take a 1-0 lead.

Seattle enjoyed home court — and the third quarter — and put the Merc in a 0-1 hole.

NEXT!

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Now we know

why Pondexter was MIA in Las Vegas:

Last spring, Pondexter posted some controversial comments on Twitter about the tragic Japanese earthquake and tsunami: “What if God was tired of the way they treated their own people in there own country! Idk guys he makes no mistakes.”

She later tweeted: “u just never knw! They did pearl harbor so u can’t expect anything less.”

Many viewed her tweets as insensitive. She was the subject of unflattering columns in the New York sports pages and called in by the New York Liberty to discuss the matter.

Pondexter apologized for her comments and was not suspended by the WNBA or the Liberty. But she was forced to sit out the USA Basketball national team camp in Las Vegas in May as a consequence. She is expected to return to Team USA in the fall and to be a contender for a spot on the 2012 Olympic team.

I’m not sure “insensitive” was the word most people used in reaction to Cappie’s (edited by espnW). It was “racist.”

Personally, I’d rather people find racist remarks “disturbing”, wouldn’t you?

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from Swish Appeal.

Pt. 2: Balancing Potential & Productivity For The All-Rookie Team

According to Jessica Lantz, a reporter asked Tulsa Shock rookie center Liz Cambage how she would grade herself on her rookie season.

Apparently, Cambage gave herself an “A”, but the buzz among some media members was in the “C-” range. That’s quite a big difference in opinion and partially reflects that the 20-year-old rookie has had an up and down season, to say the very least.

Pt. 3: Talking Defense With The WNBAlien

My favorite quote about statistics – aside from the famous “lies, damn lies, and statistics” line – is probably the one attributed to W.I.E. Gates: “Then there is the man who drowned crossing a stream with an average depth of six inches.” Context matters and that notion obviously applies to the use of any stats in basketball and that might be exponentially so for defensive matters.

So I contacted Richard Cohen of the WNBAlien blog to help flesh out the context for 2011 WNBA end of season defensive awards, partially because we’ve had productively contrasting perspectives about the game in the past.

And then he proceeded to throw stats at me while I just wanted to discuss my feelings.

Speaking of L’Alien: East finally shakes out as regular season comes to a close

The remaining possessions reminded everyone that it just wasn’t Cappie Pondexter’s day. Her jumper rolled off, but New York managed to retain possession after Pierson grabbed the offensive rebound and won a jump ball after the officials deemed a reach-in by Jones legal.

So it was still Liberty ball with 41 seconds left. Pondexter had the ball out on the wing, very slightly lost control of her dribble for no particular reason, and White swooped in to grab the steal. Forced to foul to stop the clock, New York sent Montgomery to the line and she made both shots for a four-point lead. The following Liberty possession never looked likely to succeed, seemingly drawn up for Powell to crack a three but ending with her driving to the hoop – only to be denied by a Greene block. That was the ballgame, and an extra couple of free throws left us with a final score of 69-63 Connecticut.

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My Summer Vacation – How one writer became a huge WNBA fan.

From the likes of Lindsay Whalen, Sue Bird and Cappie Pondexter scoring and pushing the pace, to Simone (sic) Augustus, Angel McCaughtry (sic) and Candace Parker dealing on the wing, to Sylvia Fowles, Tina Charles and Tamika Catchings doing the dirty work down below, this league is full of superstars.  Players that have handles like Iverson, one-dribble pull-ups like DWade and post-moves like well…Kevin McHale (I couldn’t think of one current NBA big man with advanced post-skills). Some teams love to push the pace and run up the score (Phoenix Mercury), others focus a bit more on defense (Seattle) and some can handle all styles of play with success (Minnesota Lynx).  But, with just 12 teams in the league, each team is loaded with the world’s top talent.

There is no dilution.

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yesterday:

Birdfan (Louisiana): Just watched NY hold Chi-town to 49 points and one in the 4th…not the most interesting game…what does Chi-town have to do to make it into the playoffs?

Mechelle Voepel: That game was gross, sorry. One point in the fourth quarter? Anybody got a Rutgers joke handy? Of course, the funny thing is that it was two former Scarlet Knights – Cappie Pondexter and Essence Carson – who led the way for the Liberty against Chicago today. It’s going to be a race between the Sky and Dream to see who can get their act together well enough to grab that fourth playoff spot in the East. Chicago has to find some more consistent scoring options.

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a friend commented on the New York/Shock game yesterday:

Game wasn’t great. Gosh, tulsa SUCKS. But the spoon part was real nice. Brought a tear to my eye. And she was so well-spoken and heart-felt.

’nuff said. Though, if you want more, do check out Queenie’s take.

I didn’t like Marion Jones before this because of her previous scandals and shenanigans. I don’t like her now because she was flat-out gooning out there, going low on players. She contributed one nice flying block, but other than that, I wouldn’t mind seeing her out of the league. Betty Lennox, unsurprisingly, looked rusty. Sheryl Swoopes still has the shot, but her famed defense is not what it was. She committed a lot of holding that the refs either didn’t see or refused to believe that Swoopes could be committing, and it ticked me off.

Liz Cambage really needs a post coach to show her how to use her size, because she’s not using it well as often as she could. She needs to get it together and lay off the dirty play, because I know she’s a nice and exceedingly dorky kid. Doneeka Lewis appeared to have found her shot in this game, and she’s a lot faster than I remembered, but then she lost the shot, and I’m really okay with that.

Meanwhile, in LA, the Mystics made their fans give up... and then regret that they’d given up.

It was Joe Bryant’s first loss since returning as head coach one week ago. And it was the Sparks’ first loss at Staples Center this season.

But the most painful part for the Sparks was that it happened during the greatest second-half comeback in WNBA history.

When they put their head on their pillows, do you think the Sun players mutter, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home?”

I’m guessin’ yup — just ask Indy. Though it took a couple of late free throws from Kara Lawson to preserve their unblemished home mark.

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Kobe Bryant’s dad is LA’s new coach

From Mechelle: Joe Bryant a good fit for Sparks

It seemed to be sort of an “enough is enough” weekend in the WNBA. Friday night, coach Nolan Richardson stepped down after the 10th loss of Tulsa’s season, finishing his stay in the WNBA at 7-38.

Then Sunday, Los Angeles announced that coach Jennifer Gillom was being relieved of her duties, as the Sparks are 4-6 and have lost five games in a row. Assistant Joe Bryant is moving up for his second tour of duty as Sparks’ head coach. It’s also the second time he has taken over during the season.

Meanwhile, welcome to coaching, T: Teresa Edwards can’t help Shock from being trounced by Mercury

Penny Taylor scored 16 of her 18 points in the first half as the Phoenix Mercury built a big halftime lead and routed Tulsa 102-63 on Sunday in Teresa Edwards’ debut as interim coach.

Meanwhile, welcome to Chicago, the turnover machine,coach Pokey.

After the end of the first half, the Sky had an 11-pt lead (which ballooned to 17 in the second) and 7 turnovers. Then they got a case of fumble fingers (they finished with 19TOs) and Essence got her (goggled) groove back, and the Liberty snagged a 80-73 win at the Rock.

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