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It’s called parity, my friends.

That’s a capital P
And it ends with TY
And it spells… last one standing gets into the playoffs.

Or, as Michelle Smith explains: Trio continues to set pace in WNBA – Atlanta, Minnesota, Phoenix are league’s only teams with winning records

Been off for a few weeks, watching this WNBA season purely as a fan and wondering what every fan must be: Where are all the winning teams?

As of Monday, three teams have winning records and one additional squad sits at .500. That leaves eight teams with losing records.

Is this mediocrity? Is it parity? Is it good for the league?

The postseason will hold the answers. Will we see blowouts and one or two teams dominating the playoffs? Or will someone other than Phoenix, Minnesota and Atlanta emerge?

In the meantime, here are the Week 11 power rankings. The Mercury and Lynx have clinched playoff berths already.

Speaking of teams hoping for a playoff berth, John Altavilla says It’s Crunch Time For Sun As Season Winds Down

Jayda speaks with Penny.

Q: Was Ross blindsided? She was the coach of the year in 2012 and signed a contract extension in February.

Toler: If you’re not winning and your team’s not successful and you were picked as one of the favorites (to win the WNBA title), are you blindsided by it? With the fans, we’re in LA, they were calling for it (the firing) after four games. It’s my job to protect the coach but when other decisions are made, it’s my job to carry out those orders.

Dawn is busy in Colorado with the U-18 team. She gets to work with this kid from Missouri who seems pretty good: Competitiveness An Inherited Trait For USA U18 Guard Napheesa Collier

Random Rant: Oh, lordy, get me a bat: it’s the mission of the Houston Inferno to break the stereotype that women cannot be athletic and feminine.

 

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but one has to wonder, “Why does the GM still have a job?” Followed by, “Wait, you think she’s going to do a better job?”

Mechelle breaks the news.

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in the MOOOOOOORRRRNing!

At least when I get up Friday AM, it will be to catch a 6am flight to Omaha to present at a conference and work with some of the fine folks at the Omaha Community Playhouse. But 50% of the players who got up bright and early yesterday morning for afternoon Kid Camp days got a loss for their trouble.

The Mystics ended a four-game skid by taking down San Antonio AT San Antonio, 81-70. Nice to see Dolson fight through a knee sprain and Meesseman and McBride back filling up their stat lines.

Tired Storm legs meant tired Storm shooting. LA managed to defend home court against Seattle, though they almost let their third quarter doom’em again. Sue over at Full Court says the Sparks are collectively dealing with chemistry, line up issues

“I loved how we won,” Los Angeles coach Carol Ross said. “We were resilient, tough, and battled through fatigue. We finished all the way to the end and kept a positive attitude until the end. We never doubted we would win it.”

The Sparks demonstrated the same play last week in defeating the visiting Tulsa Shock. It was a noticeable difference for a team that has been known to lose momentum during games, and have lackluster showings on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court.

“This game we were able to correct our problems, and make plays down the stretch and do what works for us,” All-Star forward Candace Parker said.

She’s baaaaack: Minnesota Lynx today announced the team has signed guard Nadirah McKenith

She’s also baaaaack: The New York Liberty signed free agent forward Charde Houston

Deborah Fleck asks: So how’s Irving MacArthur and Baylor graduate Odyssey Sims doing in the WNBA?

Jayda’s got some stuff to say about WNBA Pride & TV. Meanwhile, Rose Scott at NPR says, The WNBA Televises Its Pride With LGBT Campaign

Ned Griffen says the Sun continue to follow Douglas’ lead

Katie Douglas wanted to talk to Connecticut Sun public and community relations manager Bill Tavares at a recent practice, so she walked over and lowered her shoulder into him.

Laughter ensued.

Douglas was asked about her back, which caused her to miss most of last WNBA season. She had lumbar microdiscectomy surgery last October to correct it.

“The back is good,” Douglas said. “How does it look?”

More laughter.

Honestly, ESPN, that’s the best photo you could find?

BTW: Vote early, vote often:WNBA releases first tally for All-Star game, voting ends July 2

In college news:

UNCW women’s basketball team ready to reap rewards of patience

Adell Harris tried not to take it personally when a parade of UNCW women’s basketball players invaded her office in May 2012looking to leave.

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gotten some relief, and others may be feeling toastier.

New York’s in trouble. It doesn’t matter if the score a lot of points or a few points. They’re not winning. Even more troubling? The Sun’s success might mean they get a Lottery Pick for the Charles trade. #MightComeBackToBiteYou. Oh, and adios Toni?

The Dream is in a groove and lovin’ it. (Now, if only the AJC would notice.)

The 2014 WNBA season is now in its second quarter and the Atlanta Dream is showing itself to be a legitimate contender.  But to be more specific here, that’s for the WNBA Championship, not just Eastern Conference banner. 

Indy and D.C are…surviving –  I KNOW coach Dunn and folks want Catch back, but I also know they want CATCH back. Respect their patience.

By the Great Lakes, Chicago folks are falling like flies, and it’s killin’ their mojo, but not their Pride. The All-Star break can’t come soon enough.

Is the Sun rising? Coach Donovan Knows It Takes All Kinds To Make Sun Mesh

In the West:

L.A. was making everyone wonder, que pasa? Then they met Tulsa and earned a no-longer-take-them-for-granted win.

The Lynx were rolling, but shorthanded still. Then they encountered the high-low we all expected Griner-Taurasi to be. Looks like the Merc are bringing the heat.

Seattle is making folks earn every win against ’em…. but, I’m guessing Bird would rather win than pile up stats. They do have a new COO, though: Alisha Valavanis will be leaving her post as the University of California, Berkeley’s Assistant Athletics Director of Development for Annual Giving and Alumni Relations

It’s amazing what Danielle Adams can do – unless, of course, you remember what she did in the NCAA Championship game. Doesn’t mean I don’t worry about her knees….

Some great games on today — and it’s WNBA PRIDE TIME!

 

images

Shock @ Sky.

Dream @ Liberty.

Stars @ Sparks.

Fever @ Lynx.

Mystics @ Storm.

Just a thought about Mechelle’s piece The WNBA’s Pride predicament. It’s amazing what happens to my heart when I read the players tweeting their support of WNBA Pride. For those of us who have journeyed with the players, fans, coaches and owners within the league, we know what a seismic moment this is. We’ve been frustrated, logical, realistic, impatient, hurt, embarrassed and sensitive to others. And yet, here we are: WNBA PRIDE.

This year, the league is acknowledging that fan base with a first-ever multi-media campaign: WNBA Pride, Presented by COVERGIRL. Nine teams are hosting a pride-themed game including the Chicago Sky, whose match up against the Shock on ESPN2 Sunday will be the first nationally-televised such game in professional sports.

Wicks, who came out before her retirement in 2002 when a reporter asked her if she was a lesbian, called the WNBA’s pride campaign “fantastic.”

“There have always been gay and lesbian fans at WNBA games,” she said. “It’s nice for fans of the community to be recoginzed for their support.”

For some reason, I’m flashing back on Whoopi Goldberg’s Broadway show (1985) where a character said, “Love isn’t smilin’ at people with your face and squintin’ at them with your heart.”

Here’s hoping that, wherever you draw your personal code of morals, ethics and/or intra and inter-personal behaviors from, you can agree with this: judge people by the “content of their character.”

In other news: More games to watch in you’re in Toronto: Welcome to the 2014 Women’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championship.

Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States all remain undefeated after two days of play at the 2014 Women’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championship at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto, Ont.

AND they’re putting up big numbers. The games are streamed.

Speaking of international play… The lil bits (aka, the U17 team) was in a dogfight with the Canadian team… end then they zoomed away in the fourth.

The medium bits (aka the U18 team) will reassemble at the USOTC for training camp July 25-August 5. You can watch them play for FREE in Colorado Springs, August 6-10.

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why. Every time I thought, “well, that’s the game,” the players said, “Nope!”

I certainly enjoyed watching the Kentucky/Baylor game on my ‘puter as I cooked up some serious chili. Not sure the men’s teams waiting for the game to conclude were too thrilled. But really, it was Calipari’s fault. And, as Mechelle noted

So what happened? A “Twilight Zone/Outer Limits/X-Files” kind of game. I was worried there wouldn’t be enough scoring? I might as well have been worried that Robinson Cano wasn’t going to get enough money.

Kentucky 133, Baylor 130, four overtimes. And the number of people who looked at this score and said, “Holy (blank)!” That would be a lot more than 263, which as the combined score was the most points ever in a Division I women’s hoops game.

This proves it: Everything is bigger in Texas.

There were other games this past weekend, and don’t let the final scores fool ya — some were nice and close through the first half. Which doesn’t mean a lot to the losing team, but it does suggest the winners need to not be let off the “so, how good are you?” hook.

Cal over Pacific.

Texas A&M over Washington.

Gonzaga over Ohio State (I TOLD you the Buckeyes were a tough out.)

Tennessee over Texas.

Purdue over IPFW.

South Carolina over Charlotte.

Penn State over Georgetown – and they needed all of Maggie’s 2000th point.s.

Iowa State over CS Fullerton (thanks, Hallie.)

Nice win for Auburn over St. John’s.

Eastern Michigan is still loss-free.

Ditto for San Diego.

Ditto with Notre Dame, who stomped all over UCLA.

Duke is still undefeated (#500 for McCallie) as the Blue Devils sorta handled Oklahoma in a game that saw defense prohibited in the second half (and some gimpiness).

They’re not as strong as they usually are, but it’s still important to ‘ware the ‘wabbits – as the Phoenix discovered. BTW, nice story: UWGB freshman Buck’s drive inspires Native Americans

There are not a lot of players like University of Wisconsin-Green Bay freshman Tesha Buck playing basketball at the NCAA Division I level.

A little more than a decade ago, there were none.

Buck is a Native American who already has overcome long odds to reach this point in her career.

In the most recent NCAA race and ethnicity report from the 2011-12 season, there were 10,151 male and female basketball players in Division I. Just 25 of them — 21 women and four men — were Native American/Alaskan Native.

In 2000, there were no Native American/Alaskan Native female basketball players. In 2008, there was one.

Not my fault – Fordham deals Holy Cross their first loss of the season.

So, I’m not saying ‘ware the Sun Devils yet — though that win over UNC was nice — but it did take them an OT to take down Long Beach State. I guess we’ll get a better sense of who they are after they work through Syracuse-Cal-Stanford-Colorado.

126 points!

Okay, is Michigan State down or is it Virginia Tech that is up?

Yes, it was against UMass-Lowell, but when was the last time Seton Hall scored 97pts?

Not my fault, neither: ‘nova earns its first loss at the hand of St. Joseph’s.

Phew! (Or I would have had to deny blame again): BYU squeaked by Creighton, 52-51.

No squeaking involved, as UTEP continued to roll.

Yah, they’re still undefeated, but let’s see what happens when Arkansas meets South Carolina four games from now.

Yup, Wisconsin’s improved.

So, how glad are the 1-8 Seahawks that they let Cynthia Cooper go?

Yes, there have been some major injuries, but boy is Hartford not enjoying their season so far.

*all sing* “What a difference a coach makes….” The Penguins are 1-6.

From Michelle Smith: Cards move on without Slaughter- Jeff Walz, Louisville making adjustments after losing senior guard for the season

Slaughter collapsed on the bench last Tuesday during the Cardinals’ game against Missouri State. The clot was discovered in follow-up examinations. Walz said Monday that doctors believe the clot was not related to her collapse, but was discovered during the subsequent evaluation. The collapse, doctors believe, was caused by a “cardiac event” and Slaughter is still being evaluated. In the meantime, Slaughter has begun to take blood thinners, the treatment expected to last six or seven months.

“They don’t know if the clot was there before or after,” Walz said. “But they are two separate incidents. They are still trying to determined what caused the cardiac event.”

Writes Graham of this past week’s events: Cats, Cards cap strange week in Commonwealth

Expressing that magnanimity that perhaps comes with a second-half comeback in front of a full house in your arena, Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell heaped praise on Louisville counterpart Jeff Walz after last Sunday’s rivalry game, and then offered what surely seemed a benediction without any hint of foreboding.

 “It’s a good time for basketball in the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” Mitchell said.

Little did he know he was also about to play his part in what proved to be the strangest of weeks for women’s basketball in the Bluegrass State, one that turned the basketball court into something of a refuge for Louisville in the aftermath of Antonita Slaughter’s collapse and subsequent season-ending diagnosis of blood clots, and a labyrinth impossible to escape for Kentucky in a four-overtime game against Baylor.

So where does basketball in the Commonwealth stand a week later?

A little W info, as James over at Swish Appeal is talking to the Dream’s new head coach Michael Cooper on the hiring process, what makes a championship team, and Running With The Dream

Full Court has a nice coaching/coast bookend: Team turnarounds are Carol Ross’s coaching calling card

The plain-spoken Southerner is popular with players, fans and the press alike. Her coaching philosphy is built around heavy doses of the basics — hard work, discpline and defense, defense, defense. “I would hope that any team that I have the opportunity to influence – and that will be the Sparks now – that they are going to play very hard, they’re going to play for each other, and they’re going to play with a lot of enthusiasm and passion,” Ross told Full Court when she took over the reins in LA. “I can tell you that whoever is … wearing the Sparks uniform, they will play hard, and they will play with great passion and they’re going to compete very hard every night.”

Surprise! WNBA’s No. 4 pick in 2013 draft, Tayler Hill, expecting first child

Who’s got next (from Nate): Five seniors off to strong starts

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From Fox Sports West: Ross to bring Southern charm to Southland

New LA Sparks coach Carol Ross is about to bring a little Southern charm to the Southland.

Ross has been given the challenge of restoring one of the WNBA’s most successful franchises. Though the Sparks have made the playoffs in 11 of their 14 years in existence, they have not made the finals since 2003 and did not qualify for the playoffs last season after going 15-19.

From Gene Warnick Daily Bulletin: WNBA’s Sparks tap Carol Ross as coach

Carol Ross made no mention of “Showtime.”

No promises to bring a high-tempo game to Staples Center this summer as the new coach of the Sparks.

“If you play with more passion and energy on the defensive end of the court, that creates ‘Fun-and-Gun’ fast-break basketball,” said Ross, who was an assistant for the past three years with the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream after 16 seasons as an NCAA Division I head coach at Florida and Ole Miss.

And there’s more from Melissa Rohlin at the LA Times: Sparks hire Carol Ross as head coach

“It hurts when you underachieve, but anyone in sports knows it can happen,” Sparks General Manager Penny Toler said. “I felt we were really, really talented but the chemistry was bad.”

So she chose Ross, who is known as a defense-minded coach who relates well with players.

“She knows how to get good players and strong personalities to play together as a team,” Toler said.

There’s more W discussion from Jayda’s Mailbag: Can Seattle draft Skylar Diggins or Brittney Griner?

From Sue, the words of advice from a local high school coach suggesting how  the Los Angeles Sparks should use their number one draft pick.

If the Sparks draft Ogwumike, they will have to make a decision on whether or not to trade those two veterans, which makes this draft the most interesting and important draft maybe EVER for the Sparks. This is only due to the fact that the tide is changing in the WNBA, and this will hopefully be the push the league needs to make names for the new faces of women’s basketball and the Sparks as a whole. Most of these kids coming into the draft this year are all 90’s babies, which means that when the WNBA kicked off in 1997 and the Sparks picked Thompson in that inaugural draft, the majority of this year’s draft class was around six years old. And if you’re Sparks General Manager Penny Toler, you have to know when to cut your losses and start fresh.

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There’s a new boss in L.A.

Sparks hire Carol Ross as coach

Tough loss for Atlanta, though.

And I’m rather encouraged to have W assistants move up. (Where is Julie Plank?)

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