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So, THAT’s not how the Sparks and Lynx wanted to get out of the post-Olympics gate….

LA went up to Seattle and got squeezed by the Storm, 79-72. Stewie struggled, but Bird picked up the slack, hitting 5-7 from behind the arc.

“It’s surprising because we didn’t have the best offensive night. It was all about defense for us,” said guard Jewell Loyd, who finished with 15 points, seven assists and five steals with just one turnover.

Nneka continued her hot play, but it wasn’t enough.

“I think we sat around for six weeks and everybody told us how good we were and I think we softened up,” said Sparks Head Coach Brian Agler.

Maybe Excelle should play the lotto (Connecticut Sun: a team on the rise, playoffs in sight) ’cause the Lynx got stymied by the Sun (and Moore’s foul trouble)  in Connecticut, 84-80.

“We have to grind,” Sun coach Curt Miller said. “We don’t out talent anyone. There’s a reason that four of those players (on the Lynx) are on the Olympic team. We aren’t going to out-talent anyone in this league, but we have to out work and out tough.”

No one on the Lynx is pointing to the Olympics as an excuse:

“In the end, it’s probably a wash,” said Reeve, when asked before the Lynx’s 84-80 loss to the Sun if fatigue or lack of sharpness would prevail. “Any advantage they may have from being off, full-rested, maybe honing some skills, the group that was over in Rio is in game shape and has that rhythm of playing a game. That’s something you can’t simulate when you’re off.

In San Antonio, the Liberty kept their focus and dispatched the Stars, 84-77, thanks to the sweetness that is (MIP) Sugar. Hello, playoffs!

Elena Delle Donne brought the 34-point boom to Chicago as the Sky took down Atlanta, 90-82.

“We took care of the basketball, and I think the key was we married that to good offensive execution and attacked and got to the free throw line,” said Sky coach Pokey Chatman. “I think that comfort allowed us to weather the storm when we were down by seven and then up by eight. 

“It was nice to see that, and we’ll need it as we head on to Dallas.”

Speaking of Dallas, the eternal Pierson’s 23 (and 4000th) couldn’t help the Wings against Penny “sore throat” Taylor and the rest of the Merc.

Phoenix Mercury players won a combined four medals at the Rio Olympics, and more importantly, may have found the defense and chemistry that was missing before the Olympic break.

Despite falling behind by 11 early against Dallas on Friday night, the Mercury hammered the Wings 98-72 before 11,396 at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Phoenix’s most one-sided win of the season came against a team it went 0-3 against pre-Rio, including a triple overtime loss June 18 after leading 75-59 going into the fourth quarter.

Washington Post: Mystics and WNBA are back from Olympic break, but LaToya Sanders got no rest

Aussie, Aussie, ello! Mystics Sign Leilani Mitchell as Bria Hartley starts planning for a munchkin.

Slam Online: WATCH: WNBA Super20

The historic 20th WNBA season has been one for the record books. The Lynx and Sparks got off to a blazing hot start, the W has faced controversy for trying to police its players and the basketball has never been better.

With all the talent and storylines around the League, the final part of the regular season and the playoffs provide a guaranteed storybook ending.

Get hype for the rest of the 2016 campaign, picking up again tonight, with the video above, featuring highlights from the first part of the summer.

Also: Nike & WNBA Star Elena Delle Donne Donate Sneakers To Delaware Newborns

Meanwhile:

Doug Bruno savors experience with USA women’s basketball team

Baylor women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey donates to Louisiana hometown in wake of flooding

Vermont women’s basketball cancels game at UNC over transgender bathroom law

“The decision to cancel to our Dec. 28 women’s basketball game at North Carolina was made as a result of concerns over the HB2 law, which prevents transgender people from using government-run bathrooms based on their gender identity,” University of Vermont athletic director Jeff Schulman said Wednesday. “We strive very hard to create an inclusive climate for our students and staff in which they all can feel safe, respected, and valued. It would be hard to fulfill these obligations while competing in a state with this law, which is contrary to our values as an athletic department and university.”

WATN? Rodrigo is new grad assistant for Georgia basketball

WATN? Mo’ne Davis shifts her drive to the basketball court: The Little League World Series pioneer two years later

Davis, 15, is heading into her sophomore year of high school at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. She dreams of a career in the WNBA, and she knows the journey begins with the process of college recruitment. That’s why Davis has made the decision to forgo high school basketball this season – after representing her school as an eighth-grader and a freshman – and exclusively play AAU with the Philly Triple Threat team, where she can go head to head with the best talent in the nation.

“I made the decision because it was time to start getting out there in front of college coaches and showing my improvement over the next two years,” Davis said.

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Screwing with the constant “WEEEEEE’RE DOOOOOOOMED” narrative: WNBA’s 20th season produces strong numbers and ratings

NY Times: Quiet Protest Helped Tina Charles Find the Voice of Her Conscience

“Of course, as an individual, I do have goals to be one of the best players in the W.N.B.A.,” Charles said Thursday. “But when you reach a goal, nothing compares to the person you become along the way.”

Hartford Courant: Breanna Stewart: Transition From UConn Sheds Light On Gender Discrepancies In Athletics

Okay: Harry Potter and the WNBA Power Rankings cast

Aussie! Aussie! Don’t! Go! Phoenix Mercury guard Penny Taylor to retire at season’s end

One part elaborate marketing promotion, one part performance art and all parts exhausting, the season-long athlete retirement tour has seen a rebirth in recent years.

Derek Jeter earned half a year’s worth of #RE2PECT at ballparks across the country. Nike gave Kobe Bryant his own holiday. Forty-year-old David Ortiz is currently making his long trek around league, picking up plenty of interesting parting gifts along the way.

Indiana Fever star Tamika Catchings didn’t want anything of the sort. No elaborate branding campaign, no pregame ceremony celebrating her many accomplishments, no odd presents from opposing teams. Instead, Catchings, a league champion, MVP, 10-time All-Star and five-time Defensive Player of the Year who is going for her fourth Olympic gold medal, is flipping the script.

Like Jeter before her, Catchings is doing it her way, and her way means instead of honoring herself, she’s using her 15th and final go-around the league to give back. league’s 12 cities.

The argument for or against professional athletes being role models to the youth of today’s society has many different viewpoints, but when talking about Laney High School alum Tamera Young, she’s been able to utilize her platform as a veteran in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) to make an impact in the two communities she calls home.
The Sparks haven’t wanted for star power since Candace Parker arrived in 2008, but the team has struggled to capitalize on her greatness, topping out in the playoffs with a trio of conference final losses. That could change this year, however, thanks to an out-of-this-world breakout season by 26-year-old forward Nneka Ogwumike. Ogwumike has always been good, but she’s currently putting on one of the greatest single-season performances in WNBA history, and it has the Sparks finally playing like champions.
Yea! (but I would have been campaigning for a visit with Audra McDonald – swoon!) After a long social media campaign, WNBA rookie Imani Boyette finally met 50 Cent

NCAA:

Carp: Tennessee loses Carter, Cooper for upcoming season

Nice: West Virginia’s women’s basketball team exhibition to benefit flood victims

WATN? Former Hawkeye women’s basketball player Sam Logic hosts Camp 22 in Davenport

Did you catch this? Miami Women’s Basketball Coach Blasts Texas A&M

Miami women’s basketball coach Katie Meier was not happy with the sexist slides from the Texas A&M football women’s clinic, which have gotten the Aggies criticized nationally and led to the suspension of two staff members.

Last night, Meier blasted A&M on Twitter for the slides. She also expressed disapproval for only punishing offensive line coach Jim Turner and special teams coordinator Jeff Banks with two-week suspensions.

Keeping an eye on this: 3 black players file discrimination suit against Cottey College

NCAA & WNBA: Olympics: Double the coaching, double the threat

“Playing for both Coach Auriemma and Coach Reeve has been a blast,” said Moore. “They’re both very competitive, both very detailed oriented, but both enjoy the game, enjoy their teams, so I’m just getting double the coaching trouble here with having them both here.”

Bob Kravitz – WTHR/NBC: Fever’s Tamika Catchings prepares to say farewell to the Olympic world stage

“What are you doing?’’ I asked Tamika Catchings.

She was alone, sitting on the edge of a press-conference room stage, having previously done interviews with Indianapolis-area media members like your humble correspondent.

After a short round of interviews – and Tamika is the only Indy athlete who insists on hugging all members of the local media – she was alone. No national media talking to her. No international media talking to her. In fact, the press-conference room, which was filled for the U.S. men’s basketball team just one day earlier, was maybe one-sixth filled.

“Just hanging,’’ she said. “Waiting to go back (to the boat where the basketball teams are staying).’’

This is nuts. And this is wrong. And this is completely expected. 

USA Today: Serial survivor Seimone Augustus key for US women’s basketball team

Geno Auriemma’s team will be a prohibitive favorite in Brazil, befitting a group that has a 41-game Olympic winning streak and has won the last five gold medals. It is a roster overstuffed with big names and world-class stars, none of whom has a story quite like Seimone Augustus. Her basketball resume includes two national player of the year awards at LSU and a WNBA Finals MVP trophy with the Minnesota Lynx, and her health resume qualifies as a medical horror story.

“With all the stuff she’s been through, she has always stayed the same person,” said longtime teammate Diana Taurasi. “She’s has this even keel about her. That’s impressive. She’s (been) one of the biggest pieces of this team for a long time.”

Also: Seimone Augustus proud of WNBA player activism

USA Today: Elena Delle Donne outgrew gymnastics dream, targets basketball gold

Elena Delle Donne — who at 6-5 is a guard in a pivot player’s body and the pride of Delaware — brings her unique gifts to Rio, a 26-year-old Olympic rookie whose first five-ring dream, alas, never quite materialized. It was hatched in Atlanta 20 years ago, when young Elena watched from home in Wilmington as 4-foot-8 Kerri Strug stuck a vault with an injured ankle to help the U.S. women’s gymnastics team win gold.

“I wanted to be a gymnast,” Delle Donne told USA TODAY Sports with a laugh. “It was all about (Strug.) I should’ve known there was no chance.”

Yakima Herald: Bird, Stewart bring exuberance to US women’s Olympic basketball team

Breanna Stewart can tell you where she was, what she did, and how she felt when she got the call notifying her she made the 2016 U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team.

“You’re supposed to keep it under wraps, but the first thing I did was call my parents,” said the first-time Olympian of sharing the news while standing in the lobby of her Seattle apartment building. “My dad started crying on the phone.”

The Summer Olympics begin this week, and tales of poop-filled water, human body remains on the shore, petty crime, serious crime, terrorism with a topping of the Zika virus have beset the Rio Games.

Sign me up.

Star-Telegram staffer Charean Williams will be covering this event, Erin Phillips of the WNBA’s Dallas Wings will be playing for her Team Australia … and I am green with envy.

EVEN as Marianna Tolo fell to the floor in agony last August her mind started the mental mathematics.

She had just torn her ACL in her first season of WNBA basketball and yet the only thing that really mattered was the 2016 Rio Olympics.

One of the last two players cut from the London 2012 squad, Tolo has made a remarkable recovery to get back to the court in the nick of time.

“My first Olympics, we had players like Dawn Staley, Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes,” Bird said. “They showed us what it meant to be a part of USA basketball. How to carry yourself. How to play. How to play within the team. How to put the gold medal before anything else.

“… When you get older, you want to pass that on to the new crop coming in. Not only are you honored to be a part of the tradition, you want to make sure you’re keeping it up.”

Forty years ago this summer, a team of 12 women laid the foundation for the future of women’s basketball in the United States, competing as part of Team USA in the first-ever Olympic women’s basketball tournament at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.

There was no WNBA at the time, nor any professional women’s league in the U.S. at all. But for most of the group, this wasn’t their first high-stakes basketball tournament, as nine of the 12 women on the team had also played for Team USA at the Pan American Games the year before. Given the strength of the international competition, however, Team USA wasn’t expected to even qualify for the 1976 Olympics, let alone win a medal. But, led by coach Billie Jean Moore and co-captains Juliene Simpson and Pat Summitt (then known as Pat Head), they ended up going very far, eventually taking home the silver medal. 

For an inside look at the 1976 team’s historic run, The Huffington Post spoke with head coach Billie Jean Moore, players Nancy Lieberman, Ann Meyers and Juliene Simpson, who all played for the 1975 team, too, and Gail Marquis and Trish Roberts, who were newcomers in 1976. 

Along with athletes getting to know their counterparts from other nations, CISM also provides opportunities for officials to engage at the highest levels, Dinote said. “These can lead to training engagements down the road,” he added.

This week’s championship is the culmination of a “long process of trying to get women’s basketball on the map,” said Dinote, who also serves as secretariat of U.S. Armed Forces Sports.

Phelps was diagnosed with ALS in April 2015. Within six months he lost his ability to speak. In January, he was forced to eat and drink using a feeding tube.

But he continued officiating games around the state, using an orange hand-held whistle and LCD board to convey his thoughts if needed at the scorer’s table.

Players even took notice.

“It was a blast tonight, but being able to see Carl was even more amazing,” said Cache star Jamie Bonnarens, who delivered a personal letter to Phelps between games. “I got emotional before my game.”

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But I gotta say, with all the hate and horror this past week, I have to wonder about Skylar’s tweet:

Some of the comments I heard from the fans last night disgusted me. Completely unnecessary and nothing to do with ball.

Not. Okay. SO not okay.

Speaking of NOT OKAYBrittney Griner Responds To Happy Father’s Day Trolls On Twitter

Speaking of ALSO NOT OKAY: Who the hell writes your headlines AP/ESPN? This is what you produce after a three-overtime game? Wings beat Mercury in 3OT in first game between Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson since divorce Take a moment sports and copy editors and look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Who do I work for, a sports site or a gossip rag?”

Now, about that triple-OT game. It was a doozy – with lot of basketball drama. From Swish Appeal: 

Phoenix head coach Sandy Brondello was quick to give Dallas credit for their resilience.

“We just didn’t have the energy, we built that seven-point lead, and we got some wide open three’s and we just broke down,” Brondello said. “This (Dallas) is a team that has a lot of confidence; Skylar Diggins got back into the flow of her game. We were on our back foot, obviously, foul trouble hurt us – when Diana went out.”

From Jeff Metcalfe: 

The Mercury (4-8) dropped the second of back-to-back games after losing Friday in Los Angeles and fall to four games under .500 for the third time.

“We let it slip away,” said Taylor, who scored 21 points. Taylor said she did not commit a foul with 15.5 seconds left but was told by the official “that he thought I wanted to foul. But I didn’t. It was a game we had control of but had too many mistakes and too many breakdowns. We have to take a look at ourselves and try and turn it around.”

BTW @WNBA – any way you can contact google and inform them that the Shock are no longer the Shock?

Dream: Carla Cortijo embraces role as WNBA’s only Puerto Rican-born player

Yes! LeBron, Russell Westbrook praise WNBA in new ad set to debut Monday night and Hell, yes! WNBA’s Nneka Ogwumike shot the ball 20 times in a game and didn’t miss

Cool: Sports Humanitarian finalists: Brent Burns, Tina Charles, Carlos Dunlap, Chris Paul

Fever: USC’s Mitchell thriving in WNBA

“I think this put me in the best situation, honestly,” said Mitchell. “I use it as motivation just because I felt I could have been a higher draft pick. But, at the end of the day, I knew I was going to make the most out of any opportunity I had and I had to put my best foot forward.”

Yes, yes, how soon does June 21st get here!?!??!?!? WNBA Power Rankings: Minnesota Lynx, LA Sparks Continue Early Dominance From Michelle: 

Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve looked around after practice and saw nearly 50 members of the media there to greet her and her Lynx players to talk about being on the cusp of the best start in WNBA history.

“There are a lot of people here, something must be going on,” Reeve said with a chuckle.

That good humor is hard-earned, as Minnesota has stormed out to a 10-0 record to open the season, matching the best start in WNBA history.

LaChina’s Podcast: 

On this week’s “Around the Rim,” women’s basketball analyst LaChina Robinson covers the Lynx’s historic start to the WNBA season and speaks with two of the game’s brightest stars — Sky rookie Imani Boyette and three-time WNBA champion and Mercury guard Diana Taurasi.

Flashback time: Twenty years later, a look back at WNBA’s first game

“All those games I’d watched as a kid, the Celtics-Lakers games, it was in that building, on that court,” said Lobo, who finished the first game with 16 points and six rebounds. “It was that same kind of atmosphere in terms of a lot of fans there, TV cameras right there. It felt big.

“The game itself I remember us winning, which was important. But there was just so much around it that is even a bigger memory to me than some of the things that happened on the court.”

AdiosFormer UConn star Swin Cash on WNBA farewell tour and Retiring Swin Cash trying to stay in the moment in final WNBA season

And yes, I know they’re doing a “Top 20 of the last 20 (WNBA 20th Season Celebration Will Honor 20 Greatest Players),” and Mel’s asked for your input (WNBA Top 20 All-Time Players: The Guru Offers You the Chance to be His Committee but all those lists do is start arguments vs. discussions of the game. Me? I’d rather they just put in them in (reverse) alphabetical order…

Babcock McGraw: Parker, Catchings among 20 best players in WNBA’s 20-year history

International: China, France, Spain and Turkey clinch women’s basketball places at Rio 2016

Geno Auriemma getting ready for run with U.S. women’s national team

BTW: Coming to New York for the USA National team game on July 31st? Gimme a holler – maybe we can meet for dinner afterward? (And if you want to avoid ticket fees, I can pick up seats for you too – womenshoopsblog@gmail.com

Also: It’s to early to plan for FIBA 2018/Spain… but it sure ain’t too early to start saving for the trip….hint, hint, hint.

NCAA: 

Goodbye/hello: St. Bonaventure women’s basketball Miranda Drummond transfers to Syracuse

Goodbye? Morgan State reassigns women’s basketball coach Donald Beasley

Oregon Ducks women’s basketball coach Kelly Graves excited about incoming recruiting class

Coach Jeff Mittie seeks faster pace from K-State women’s basketball team

Congrats:

The 1991-92 and 1992-93 Arkansas Tech University women’s basketball teams have been selected for induction into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.
 
The Golden Suns of the early 1990s are the only four-year college basketball teams from the State of Arkansas to ever win back-to-back national championships.

Another Library addition: Fight! Fight!: Discovering Your Inner Strength When Blindsided by Life and Q&A with women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell

Less than a month after being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in September 2013, UNC women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Her new book, “Fight! Fight!: Discovering Your Inner Strength When Blindsided by Life,” details her battle and eventual triumph disease. 

High School: Two girls’ basketball players in Ky. sue coach for bullying, intimidation

Two graduating seniors are now suing their prep basketball coach, accusing him of bullying, abuse and intimidation.

Four months after finishing their Muhlenberg County (Greenville, Ky.) girls’ basketball careers, Makayla Sampson and Kerra Vincent are seeking disciplinary measures against Lady Mustangs coach Mike Harper as well as compensation for the injuries and resulting medical treatment they say he forced them to play through, according to WBKO-TV.

Ball: Women’s rec basketball gets a starring role in new Pistol Shrimps documentary

The pistol shrimp is a ferocious creature the size of a human finger, armed with a deadly, oversized claw that functions like a handgun, sending tiny air bullets speeding at 60-plus miles per hour toward its victim. These Pistol Shrimps are 13 women on a rec league basketball team in Los Angeles. They, too, are fierce. They’re funny. They have their own dance team. And last season, they almost went undefeated. So, so close.

The Shrimps’ chase to the L.A. City Municipal Women’s Basketball League division championship provides the backdrop for a new documentary, “The Pistol Shrimps,” which introduces viewers to the most famous women’s intramural team in the world, and is only tangentially about the game of basketball.

“From the outside, we look like an unassuming basketball team,” says singer/songwriter/point guard Jesse Thomas, No. 99 on the Pistol Shrimps. “But after you watch the movie, you realize there’s a lot more going on than just basketball. It’s inspirational.”

From Deadline: ‘The Pistol Shrimps’ Tribeca Trailer: These Women Are Ballers On And Off The Court

Warning to haters from Pistol Shrimp baller Aubrey Plaza, just in time for the NBA Playoffs: “You’re either with us or you’re against us — and God help you if you’re against us because we will dunk on your ass so hard!” Here’s a first look at The Pistol Shrimps, a docu-take on the basketball collective made up of actresses, comics and attitude. Shocked — shocked! — to learn that there were no women’s leagues in Los Angeles, they formed their own, and a hard-fouling, trash-spewing semi-juggernaut was born.

 

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Bob Corwin offers his 1st impressions from opening weekend

Having followed the league since inception, I decided to watch the six WNBA openers and write down some first impressions (many to be proven wrong) from these games.

A WNBA season is a combination of a soap opera and a marathon.  Information can be hard to come by as players listed as “day to day” can, in reality, be out a month.  What impression you get today, particularly very early in a season, may be viewed as very wrong by the next week.

For young players, announcers tend to cling to how the player was as a collegian, especially if she had “rep” at that level.  Above all else, be cautious not to draw too much from a game or two.  Again think marathon, not sprint!

How about this? Draymond Green says he learns more from watching the WNBA than the NBA

In between the time he works on his game, Green also finds time to relax. Of course, Green chooses to chill out by watching basketball, mostly the WNBA.

“In the NBA there’s always a guy who is only around because he can jump,” Greentold Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins in a wide-ranging profile. “He doesn’t have a clue about the fundamentals. I learn more from the WNBA. They know how to dribble, how to pivot, how to use the shot fake.”

Lindsay Gibbs @ Excelle: Washington Mystics point guard Natasha Cloud is finding her voice

In the lead-up to the launch of the WNBA’s 20th season, Washington Mystics’ coach Mike Thibault repeated a few loud and clear messages to his young team: take ownership of the game, get rebounds, play until the whistle, and, above all else, communicate on the court.

The latter message was particularly directed at point guard Natasha Cloud, the Mystics’ second-round pick of the 2015 draft.

From the .com (and points for coming up with a snazzy title, “Web Editorial Associate”): Practice Report | The Importance of the Second Unit

One of the big reasons why the Lynx were able to pull away and maintain a nice lead after that first quarter was the play of their second unit.

“Coach talked about really trying to elevate the second-team’s play in order so there’s not a drop off when anybody comes out from the first unit,” Janel McCarville said. “We had a great first game against Phoenix, it wasn’t much of a drop off at all. Today in practice it was a little bit of a drop off with all of us out there together (the second unit). I don’t think we have the cohesiveness that the first-team has. Hopefully within the next couple of weeks we’ll come together as a second-squad and pick it up in practice and it’ll carry over into games.”

Paging Ms. Whalen: Minnesota’s Hometown Heroes

Seattle Times: Stewart set for big WNBA step

Swish Appeal’s Power Rankings

Barbara Barker: How the WNBA ‘changed everything’ for girls in first 20 years

“Symbolically, you have all these women who are role modes for young girls to be able to look up to and say, ‘Those people look like me. They are stars. They have money and a career. I want that too,’” said Mary Joe Kane, the director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota. “If you aren’t playing basketball, you can take pride that someone who looks like you can achieve at the highest levels.

“Achievement and performance in America, it’s hard to top that right. For your girls to see that, it sends a very powerful message.”

The league opened its 20th season this weekend with more media coverage than I personally can remember seeing before. It’s an anniversary year, sure, but also I think most people didn’t expect the NBA’s sister league to come this far or last this long. Take a look at the women’s soccer professional league, which has had three different iterations, the most recent of which is only four years old.

Not only that, but the WNBA is now also filled with a number of household names – not just one or two token players used in Under Armour campaigns and Lean In ads. This is a competitive league with players comparable to their male counterparts in both ability and in some cases name recognition.

The concept of ability has come into contention while I’ve written this article, but I think it comes down to how you define it. Personally, I don’t think ability means how often or ferociously you can dunk. When I think of how able a person is to play basketball, I think of the sport as a whole.

Wait, they heard and acted? WNBA to offer advanced box scores after each game.

Cool. Now… about that hideous website, might I make a suggestion? Set up a “So you think you can code” competition working with suggestions from fans. Anything folks came up with would be better than the hot mess we’re slogging through today.

From Mel: Guru’s Addendum and Context to ESPN Magazine’s Story on Founding and Growing the WNBA

In reading Mechelle Voepel’s very fine piece with voices on the creation and development on the WNBA the Guru’s memory was jogged to some of the discussions people had with him prior to rolling out the league.
Also clues exist from comments in the narrative to recent discussions so here is a combo of Guru comments, some recollections, and further interpretations.
We begin right from the top with this comment in the piece from Adam Silver, NBA Commissioner. To avoid confusion in the thread, Guru will be in front of items that are his remarks, etc.

NCAA

Bonjour: Mickie DeMoss Joins Lady Tiger Basketball Staff

Au Revoir: Kentucky’s Mitchell tweets letter to fans denying rumored ‘scandal’ as UK resignation letters, personnel file offer little insight into women’s basketball turmoil and  Chanin Scott gets her release and opens recruiting process

The Minnesota Athletics Department may be a mess, but the  Gophers women’s teams have no shortage of star power

By the time she took the mound for her 24th inning pitched in two days, Sara Groenewegen’s right arm was running on fumes. Nearly 400 pitches in the Big Ten softball tournament — 395 to be exact — tested her physical limits.

**

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 Her display of individual domination was not uncommon for Gophers women’s sports this school year. Those who didn’t pay close enough attention, myself included, missed one heck of a show.

Nine Gophers women athletes in seven sports rank among the best nationally in their respective sports.

Any Olympics is special and Rio 2016 could be incredibly so, on the simple basis that some of the biggest names in the women’s game are ready to step out at the event for the first time.

Ahead of what promises to be a spectacular showcase of women’s ball, I have had some real fun drawing up a list of 12 players from around the globe who are likely to tread their first ever Olympic boards.

Random thought about the Zika virus: has anyone thought about all the non-athletes working the Rio Olympics?

 

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nevermore” quoth the Ravens.

As mentioned earlier on this blog, Franklin Pierce women’s basketball coach Jennifer Leedham was in danger of losing her job because of her immigration status.

Well, now it’s official – she’s out.

Leedham posted a 67-47 record and helped the Ravens to two NCAA Division II tournament bids. As a player, she played point guard for the FPU team that reach the 2009 NCAA championship game.

FPU hopes to have a new coach in place by April 22. Kirsh interviewed 11 candidates during the NCAA Women’s Final Four at Indianapolis and talked to three more Wednesday in Springfield, Mass.

FPU, which went 14-13 last season, is losing five seniors and four starters to graduation.

Kirsh said immigration status hasn’t been a major issue in the past with FPU coaches from other countries, like Craig Stewart, the former men’s soccer coach. Like Leedham, he is from England.

“When they go smoothly I don’t even get involved,” Kirsh said. “It’s never been an issue before.”

UConn women’s Coach Geno Auriemma, himself a foreign-born coach who became a U.S. citizen in 1994, and Bentley veteran coach Barbara Stevens wrote letters to U.S. officials on Leedham’s behalf.

 

Yup: Hill: Tyler Summitt has tarnished family name

And WTF: Louisiana Tech puts recruit Jaida Roper’s release request on hold
Shoes dropping: 2017 Guard Madison Washington has reopened her recruitment.
Congrats? Mickie DeMoss named interim Lady Techsters head coach

Nebraska fallout? Sophomore Guard Jasmine Cincore  also gets permission to transfer
More Nebraska fallout: Natalie Romeo denies Yori allegations, gets permission to transfer; another Husker looking at schools
And more: Griffin, former players offer support for Yori
And more: Former women’s hoops staffer says she filed discrimination complaint

A former Nebraska women’s basketball staff member confirmed to the Journal Star on Wednesday that she had filed a complaint against the University of Nebraska alleging discrimination.

Jan Bethea, who was the program’s director of basketball operations for five seasons before leaving in 2015, said she filed the complaint this year. At NU, she coordinated the Huskers’ scheduling and team travel, among other duties, and also was on the bench during games.

After leaving Lincoln, she returned to school in Florida to complete her doctorate.

Hello: Travis Mays Named Head Women’s Basketball Coach At SMU

Goodbye: Tulane freshman Taylor Emery has announced her plans to transfer.

Bye: LSU: Asst. coach Tony Perotti no longer on staff

Disparities in Coaches’ Academic Incentives Raise Concerns Over Gender Equity

At dozens of colleges, men’s basketball coaches are eligible for bigger academic bonuses than are their counterparts in women’s basketball. Legal experts say the discrepancies could expose colleges to discrimination claims.

Nice: Utica, NY native Brianna Kiesel honored for generosity to community

Audio: ‘Around the Rim’ — Huskies claim No. 4 with LaChina Robinson and Chiney Ogwumike

More Audio: Dishin & Swishin 4/08/16 Podcast: ESPN’s Kevin Negandhi helps put a wrap on the college basketball season

Yeah: Fans help UAA women’s basketball team celebrate historic season

News: ‘Divine Intervention’: Behind new Lauren Hill documentary


WNBA

.com: Catching Up With Cheryl Reeve – Part 1 | The Draft, The Offseason And Whalen’s Decision

WNBA Draft Open To The Public

WNIT to WNBA: USD’s Seekamp preparing for the pros

The storied career of USD G Nicole Seekamp came to an end on April 2nd with a 71-65 win over Florida Gulf Coast which secured the WNIT Championship for the Coyotes and gave the Summit League its first ever postseason team championship.

It may not have been the end of Seekamp’s competitive basketball career, however. The Renmark, South Australia native has seen her name pop up on multiple WNBA draft boards, and she’s not ruling out the possibility of playing in Europe or her homeland.

HOUSTON BORN RUTH HAMBLIN READY TO TAKE ON THE WNBA

WNBA coaches: FGCU’s Whitney Knight has chance in league

A WNBA pre-draft teleconference Friday with league coaches and analysts pointed to the likelihood that outgoing FGCU star Whitney Knight will be selected next week.

Whether she makes it in the league as a rookie remains to be seen.

Today’s Fastbreak: Wings’ Odyssey Sims excited about move to Dallas

When a franchise moves, it can be tough on everyone. Unfortunately, the WNBA is no stranger to moving (or even folding) franchises, and while the league has shown remarkable stability in this area compared to its early years, one of the biggest headlines of this offseason was the Shock moving to Dallas and being re-branded as the Wings. It came at a rough time for the Tulsa fan base, who’d just seen their young squad make the playoffs for the first time since the team moved there from Detroit…and yet, just like that, the team was on the move once again.

One person who’s just fine with this move, though, is Wings guard Odyssey Sims. 

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From the Female Coaching Network: Extra Time With Stephanie White

Doug: Fever-Lynx Preview

 It’s only fitting these WNBA Finals are going the distance.

”It’s absolutely been a great series,” Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. ”Four really, really hard fought games. Why not go to a Game 5? It’s been that good of a series. It’s one of those things that people like to see.

Mechelle: Game 5 is a fitting end for a WNBA Finals full of good basketball

Six years have passed since the last Game 5 in a WNBA Finals. And it seems like both quite a while ago and not quite so distant to Indiana point guard Briann January.

“Since then, I’ve gained a lot of experience,” said January, whose Indiana Fever lost that game 94-86 to Phoenix on Oct. 9, 2009. “That still burns me. I was a rookie, and they won Game 4 here [in Indianapolis] and then won in Phoenix. To end the season like that, it sits with you.”

In Game 5 on Wednesday (ESPN2, 8 p.m. ET) in Minneapolis, the Fever and the Minnesota Lynx will battle one last time this year. One team will celebrate a championship, and the other will be left, as January said, with a bad feeling that lingers.

In college news:

Back to work: USC women’s basketball team reloads for new season and As practice tips off, USC women’s basketball once again sets sights on national title and Gamecocks women’s team putting last year’s success behind

Key veterans return for Notre Dame women’s basketball  and Ali Patberg ready to run point for Notre Dame women’s basketball

Anyone who knows Muffet McGraw is well aware that she wouldn’t hand the keys to her offense over to just anybody.

That, by itself, is proof positive that Ali Patberg is something special.

The 5-foot-10 freshman point guard from Columbus, Ind., is one of the key components of the next wave of talent — along with classmates Marina Mabrey and Arike Ogunbowale — that should keep Notre Dame’s women’s basketball team among the nation’s elite for years to come.

Video: Coach McGraw at Media Day

Georgia women’s basketball: new head coach Joni Taylor comfortable in command

OSU women’s basketball: Beavers look to build off 2014-15 successes

“It’s season time now,” senior Jamie Weisner said Monday afternoon. “We’re playing for keeps. I wouldn’t say the Italy practices weren’t intense but we’re just building off that. Each day you want to progress and that’s what we’re doing.”

Those August practices helped get the three freshman integrated to the way the Beavers practice and allowed them to form cohesion on and off the court with the returners.

“When we got back in here on Wednesday we already had that base level so we just took it from there,” Weisner said. “I would say they put us ahead of the game.”

UConn’s Stewart learns a lot from time with USA Basketball

Harumph: Balcomb: Vanderbilt women better after players left

Scott Seeks Strong Finish to Herd Career

In the 46-year history of women’s basketball at Marshall, only seven players have scored more points in a season than Leah Scott did in 2014-15.

In her upcoming senior season, Scott intends to do even better – but not just at the offensive end of the floor.

Nebraska: Women’s basketball notebook: Yori excited about young players in program

Finally, a h/t to Joanna for the Storify: The WNBA, Women Sports Writers and Personal Responsiblity

During Game 4 of Monday night’s 2015 WNBA Finals, @hoopfeed sent out a tweet regarding the lack of women sports writers talking about the Finals. This sparked a reply by Kate Fagan (@katefagan3) on Monday morning. Thus began an interesting conversation about the responsibility of women sports writers when it comes women’s sports.

Longtime readers of the WHB know of my ongoing advocacy for coverage of women’s basketball. It’s a complicated issue, and at its core is love and money. Buy me a beer some day, and we can unravel some of the discussions I’ve had with fans, Sports Information Directors, journalists an sports editors.

The simplest equation is that coverage is directly related to income generated. Income generated is connected to advertisers and their belief that the sport they are underwriting is worth it because of the fanbase. Chicken-Egg anyone?

So, what do we do?

  1. If you are a SID, Conference, or WNBA team aggregate all the articles written about your team/conference/league and offer a “News Digest” to fans. Actively and aggressively find traditional and non-traditional media outlets.
  2. If you are a fan, don’t just click on news articles. Take a moment to leave a comment – even if it’s only to say “thank you.” When you have more than a moment, drop an email to a writer and their sports editor. Twitter is also a great way publicize your advocacy.
  3. If you cover women’s basketball, publicize your writing. Yes, that used to be considered tacky in the good old days, but it’s essential now. If your parent company allows, publicize the writing of others. If you have the time to watch a game, toss out a couple of tweets!

Love, money, chicken, egg – if we work together, get the the word out, more fans will mean more coverage which will mean more writers actually earning a living covering sports – men’s AND women’s. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

Speaking of coverage, want a chance to put your money where your heart is? Check this out from Paul: A challenge to the women’s basketball family

It was with a heavy heart last week that I felt the need to pose a challenge to the women’s basketball family.

It came after news that the terrific lovewomensbasktball.com was closing its doors after volunteer editor, contributor and general women’s basketball fanatic Janis Kacens was no longer able to continue.
***
…this site does not happen by accident. The enjoyment attained by those thousands of people from across the basketball community has been brought to you by Janis in what has been a ‘labour of love’. Often controversial, I have not always agreed with him, but the respect I have for the countless hours of work he has put into this project and the knowledge he has could not be higher.

But why do we have to place so much expectation on someone doing on top of a day job and on top of studying?

It is time for the women’s basketball community to respond.

I feel that if we can’t get 250 people to pay $4 or about 3-4 euros per month (basically a cup of coffee or so) to support the cost of running the site and to actually compensate and support those who burn the midnight oil continuously, then this is a damning indictment of women’s basketball.

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Thank you, Indiana, for extending the WNBA season for fans (even though you gave’em all agita in the last 7 minutes.)

David Woods: 

Marissa Coleman and Shenise Johnson weren’t along on the drive to the Indiana Fever’s 2012 WNBA championship. If the Fever add another title, those two will have supplied much of the fuel.

Johnson scored 15 points and Coleman 14, and the Fever defeated the Minnesota Lynx 75-69 Sunday night to even the WNBA Finals at two wins apiece.

Attendance was 10,582 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Kent Youngblood: Indiana defeats Lynx, forces deciding Game 5 – Full-court Indiana pressure, foul trouble kept the Lynx from closing out series in 75-69 loss. 

 Before the game, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve told her team. Warned them, basically. If you don’t play defense this series won’t end Sunday night.

They didn’t. And it didn’t.

See you Wednesday.

More Kent: Lynx lose a game and an opportunity

Chip Scoggins:

Cheryl Reeve begged and pleaded and flailed her arms. The Lynx coach shed her jacket in frustration and had a constant expression of bewilderment.

She probably didn’t recognize the team on the floor, not for much of the night anyway.

The two-time champions looked frazzled in a way that felt unusual in Game 4 of the WNBA Finals.

From Mechelle:

As I grow older, I do see the connection — that ability to refocus,” the Indiana Fever point guard said. “Especially when you’re in tense situations, to be able to calm yourself. When it comes to toughness, focus, discipline … there’s a lot of things I’ve learned through martial arts that I’ve carried through to basketball.”

OK, that explains January’s mindset. But how exactly is this entire Indiana Fever franchise able to keep on doing this crazy “you can’t kill us” thing? Because Sunday night, on the brink of elimination, the Fever won. Again. How do they do it? Hey, it’s just the Fever way.

Melissa Issacson (welcome to the fold!): Cheryl Reeve, Minnesota Lynx frustrated with Game 4 loss

Cheryl Reeve’s jacket doesn’t have its own Twitter account [WHB: I could have sworn it did], but it probably should. While Sunday night’s exhibition might not have reached the standard of Sean Rodriguez and the Gatorade cooler — and fell short of Game 2 of the 2012 WNBA Finals when Reeve threw her suit coat so hard after a technical foul that she later had to have her right shoulder evaluated — this one wasn’t too shabby.

AP : Fever move to 5-0 in elimination games and push Lynx to decisive Game 5

Shenise Johnson scored 15 points and Marissa Coleman added 14 to help the Fever beat the Minnesota Lynx 75-69 on Sunday night, forcing a decisive Game 5 in the WNBA Finals. Indiana is 5-0 in elimination games this postseason.

“Every single person that had gotten in, we’ve played for each other,” Catchings said. “We don’t want it to be done yet.”

AP Doug:

“We’ve had our backs against the wall this entire playoffs, we’ve responded well and have been able to come away with wins,” said Marissa Coleman, who scored 14 points for the Fever.

Indiana is 9-2 in elimination games starting with its run to the 2012 championship when the Fever beat Minnesota.

“We have the heart of a champion — and Tamika Catchings,” Fever coach Stephanie White said. “I really love this team.”

Examiner: Fever wins fifth elimination game during unlikely postseason run

“It’s our focus, we always come together at the right time,” Catchings said. “We’re inspired by one another, every single person who has gotten in, we play for each other. One thing people talk about is how many points people score, and I talk about the little things, and it’s great to pass the torch. If every single day you have the mentality you are great, then nobody will stop you. You continue to see the confidence of the team get higher and higher, we have a lot of first timers, and you want to build off of that.”

.com: White Starts, Johnson Finishes Fever‘s Second Half Rally

Bob Kravitz: Catchings refuses to let the Fever lose — again

Tamika Catchings knows the clock is ticking on her Hall of Fame career, knows this kind of opportunity to win a WNBA title may never come around again after Wednesday’s much-anticipated Game 5 at the Target Center.(And how appropriate that this classic series should be coming down to a Game 5?) So, one day after being down in the dumps after what she described as one of her worst games ever in a Game 3 loss, she showed up at Bankers Life the next day with her spirit and his smile fully intact. And she made it clear to her teammates:

“We’re going to win this one,’’ she said. “We’re going to win.’’

.com: Fever Thankful For Fan Support Through Ups and Downs Of 2015 Season

Gregg Doyel: Tamika Catchings wins matchup of stars when it counts

When it was over, the speakers were playing “Celebration” and the Bankers Life Fieldhouse crowd of 10,582 was screaming happily and Indiana Fever star Tamika Catchings was waving goodbye to the crowd, goodbye until next season anyway, and repeating these two words:

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

No, the crowd was shrieking in return.

No, Tamika. Thank you.

Vice Sports: Time is Running Out to Watch Tamika Catchings, the Greatest Women’s Basketball Player Ever: 

More than that, though, she’s contagious. Catchings’s tenacity inspires and galvanizes her teammates, launching her Indiana Fever past better-known and more heralded teams into the WNBA Finals this season. It’s not so much that the Fever play as one as it is that they all play like Catchings: they are infused with the spirit of the moment. Double teams are rushed toward like they are salvation; every shot and every pass is contested, always. There is a reason why Catchings’s teams are 9-2 in elimination games following Sunday night’s 75-69 win to force a decisive Game 5 in the WNBA Finals against the Minnesota Lynx.

SportsPage Magazine: 

After Game 1 of the 2015 WNBA Finals series, Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve reminded people that it was the first 40 minutes of a 200 minute series. Her words were prophetic as the Indiana Fever staved off a late charge by the visiting Minnesota Lynx, winning Game 4 by a score of 75-69 in front of an announced crowd of 10,582 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Sunday, to push the series to a decisive Game 5.

Swish Appeal: 

Foul trouble was the name of the game again in Game 4 of the WNBA Finals.

Sylvia Fowles battled foul trouble from go, and the Fever executed a textbook strategy, claiming a 75-69 win.

Both teams struggled with foul trouble in Game 3, but this time Tamika Catchings remained on the floor with no fouls. And that could have been the key for the Fever to keep their championship hopes alive.

More Swish:

Tamika Catchings, Briann January, Erlana Larkins and Shavonte Zellous had the spotlight in the 2012 WNBA Finals against the Minnesota Lynx.

Three years later, Shenise Johnson and Marissa Coleman will join the champions and enter the light.

“[Last night] I’m looking to Catch. I’m looking to Bri. I’m looking to Steph. And they do a great job of putting us in position to make good decisions,” said Johnson. “We have good relationships with each other. And when you have that, the trust is unlimited.”

Canis Hoopus:

The most eye-catching problem has to start with Sylvia Fowles’ foul trouble. Fowles played less than twenty minutes in the game after picking up two quick fouls in the first quarter, then lasting only a couple of minutes in each of the second and third quarters before picking up more fouls. She finished the game with five points and five rebounds, and was a complete non-factor.

Friendly Bounce: Last night in the WNBA Playoffs

Photo Gallery.

8 takeaways from Game 4 of the WNBA Finals

.com: Game 5 Sets The Stage For Culmination Of All-Time Great Finals Series

The outcome was not what Minnesota head coach Cheryl Reeve desired in Game 4 of the WNBA Finals 2015 presented by Boost Mobile, but the significance of what lies ahead is not lost on her.

Even with Sunday’s loss, she still has her team on the brink of a WNBA championship. But so does Indiana Fever head coach Stephanie White. Both coaches have brilliantly guided their teams throughout this postseason, and now it’s set to culminate in a winner-take-all Game 5 in the Target Center Wednesday night (8PM ET, ESPN).

Poll: Who ya got? 

This story makes me wish we’d had a Lib-Minny Finals – Who wouldn’t want to see a dance off between the Timeless Torches and the Senior Dancers? Senior Dancers are a crowd favorite at Lynx, Wolves games – The wildly popular Senior Dancers help attract fans to Minnesota Lynx and Timberwolves games.

And sure, I’d love to advocate for a “Best of 3,” Best of 5,” “Best of 7” format – as soon as the stands are full enough to convince the arenas that the WNBA playoffs are more lucrative than “Disney on Ice.”

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Until we know if we have to switch from our WNBA gear to our college gear.

Lots on the game at the .com

Thoughts From Shootaround Ahead Of Game 4

Fever Facing Elimination, Remain Confident

Moore, Montgomery Share Competitive Drive That Goes Back to UConn

New Faces Helping Lynx Reach New Levels

Lynx Fans Make Their Voices Heard In Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Other coverage:

Indiana Fever’s Pat Boylan talks WNBA Finals Game 4

David Woods: This could be Catchings’ last chance for another title

Given how hard it is to advance through the playoffs, this might be the last chance for Tamika Catchings to win another league championship. Sunday’s Game 4 (8:30 p.m., ESPN) might be her last WNBA Finals appearance at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Catchings is not set to retire until after the 2016 season, and the Indiana Fever have a roster good enough to make another run.

But so do Chicago and New York, both of which nearly eliminated the Fever in the Eastern Conference playoffs. So do the Minnesota Lynx, who lead the Fever 2-1 in the best-of-five Finals and could secure a third championship in five years. So do the Phoenix Mercury, especially if Diana Taurasi returns in 2016.

In other words, Fever fans should enjoy the precious present. This could be it. Win-it-for-Tamika has been an overriding theme.

WTHR: Indiana Fever have thrived facing elimination

“Your back is against the wall and you know your urgency has to be at an all-time high,” said Fever head coach Stephanie White. “You really don’t have anything to lose. You just go out and work and play your butts off. We’ve put ourselves in a position in all three games to win. It’s one play here or there that we haven’t made or they have made that’s been the difference.”

From Mechelle: With backs against wall, Fever have proven to be resilient

When the Lynx faced the Fever in the 2012 WNBA Finals, they were blown out in Game 3 and then fell in Game 4 as Indiana took its first title. And these 2015 Finals were looking a lot like 2012 … until Friday. The Lynx’s 80-77 victory on Moore’s buzzer-beating trey probably would have taken the air out of many teams. But it’s less likely it will do that to Indiana, because that’s not how the Fever are wired.

About the team: Fever’s consistency, success begin with GM Kelly Krauskopf

On a street corner in downtown Indianapolis Friday afternoon, a gaggle of little girls bearing “Go Fever” signs waited for the light to change and held their own private pep rally.

“That’s credit to Kelly beating her head against the wall,” noted Cheryl Reeve, the head coach of the Minnesota Lynx, Indiana’s Game 3 WNBA Finals opponent later that night. “I hope Kelly is sitting back and having a martini and enjoying all of it.”

AP Doug, on that other team: Maya Moore, Lynx go for the clincher in WNBA Game 4 tonight

The first three games have been decided by a total of 15 points. Most of the stats are just about even between the teams.

“It’s going to come down to the end, down to the last five minutes, last three minutes, last one minute,” Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. “Whoever it is that gets the chance to make the last play. Because of that, it is a hard out.”

Swish Appeal asks, 40 minutes or 1 more game? Game 4 preview

BTW: Goestenkors to college coaches everywhere: Start watching the WNBA

That’s part of why she encourages all coaches to tune in. Goestenkors also said if coaches at different levels of the game can visit a WNBA training camp or go to a practice, it will be very worth their while.

“If they’re serious about becoming a great coach, they should do that,” Goestenkors said. “Because there is really no comparison to the amount I learned in just a few short years in the WNBA, as opposed to what I learned as a college coach through all of my years.

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or was that a fierce, feisty game?

From Kent Youngblood at the Star Tribune: Lynx defeat Indiana, even WNBA Finals at 1-1 – Referees play big role in physical game, much to the chagrin of the Fever.

Well, now  we have a series.

After the Lynx tied the best-of-five WNBA finals at one game each with a 77-71 victory over Indiana at Target Center on Tuesday, there were radically different takes on the game.

To the Lynx it was a physical, aggressive game, just the sort you’d expect from a team with its back against the wall.

“The refs did a great job tonight,” Seimone Augustus observed. “They didn’t call anything. They let us play, and that’s what playoff basketball is all about.”

To the Fever? Well, let’s just say first-year coach Stephanie White saw things differently.

AP: Sylvia Fowles, Lynx even WNBA Finals; Fever coach livid about officiating

From Michele: Fever struggle to overcome Tamika Catchings’ foul trouble in Game 2

“I told our team, we are going to bottle up every sense of frustration, every sense of anger, every sense of knowing what we didn’t do and what we didn’t accomplish tonight, put that in a bottle and let it explode when we get back home,” said Catchings, who on Tuesday tied the league record for postseason games played at 64

Jon Krawczynski, AP: With Fever still fuming, Lynx ‘ready to go’ for WNBA Finals Game 3

“I learned a valuable lesson today,” White said. “I learned that it pays to go public with comments about officials. Who would have known?”

White called Game 2 “a blood bath” and said Shenise Johnson was “doubled over” by a hard screen set in the fourth quarter. The Fever picked up two technical fouls in the fourth quarter and turned the ball over 14 times in the second half, leaving them with the feeling that they kicked away a golden opportunity to take a 2-0 lead in the series.

“We know that we didn’t take care of business when it came down the stretch,” Catchings said.

From David Wood at the Indy Star: WNBA tells Fever coach Stephanie White to ‘keep quiet’ on officiating

Stephanie White has been a public figure long enough that she doesn’t need her 15 minutes of fame.

That’s what the coach received for outspoken criticism of officiating after the Indiana Fever’s 77-71 loss at Minnesota in Tuesday’s Game 2 of the WNBA Finals. Her comments were broadcast and discussed on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” and “Around The Horn.”

It remains to be seen whether gamesmanship influences Friday’s Game 3 against the Lynx at Bankers Life Fieldhouse (8 p.m., ESPN2). White said a league official asked her not to complain publicly again, and she was not fined. The best-of-five series is tied 1-1.

“The basic message is just to keep it quiet. But I couldn’t keep it quiet at that moment,” White said.

Josh Zavadil at the .com: Indiana Ready To Play In Front Of Hometown Fans Once Again

Just a five-minute stroll through the streets of downtown Indianapolis will make one thing clear: this city is behind the Indiana Fever. Storefronts display “Go Fever” signs, and it’s evident that Indiana’s run to the WNBA Finals has the city’s full attention.

On Friday — which Mayor Greg Ballard is declaring to be “Fever Friday” in Indianapolis — that attention focuses in on Bankers Life Fieldhouse, where Game 3 of the WNBA Playoffs 2015 presented by Boost Mobile will tip at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN 2.

Also from Josh:Fever Carrying Bottled Up Frustration Into Game 3

“I’m extremely excited,” center Erlana Larkins said ahead of Game 3. “I mean, after Game 2 we were pissed. We were pissed. We’re just ready to get back on the court. It’s a great thing to be back here in front of our fans, and they’re going to cheer us on and hopefully cheer us on to a victory.”

Bob Kravitz says, “Let’s give the Indiana Fever some love!”

I understand that women’s pro basketball remains something of a niche sport, especially in cities with successful men’s pro franchises, but let’s take nothing away from one of the best organizations in all of sports – men’s or women’s.

And let’s start here: Let’s talk about Tamika Catchings, who is not only one of the greatest female basketball players or all time, but is every bit the good corporate citizen as Peyton Manning or any other more well-known athletes. Grab a glimpse of Tamika while you can; next year will be here final year in the WNBA, and she hopes to polish off a brilliant career with a gold medal in Rio de Janeiro. Catchings has been the Fever’s heart and soul for years and years, and belongs on the Indy Sports Mount Rushmore right next to Manning and Reggie Miller. She’s already brought one ring to the city, and she has a chance to bring a second one as the Fever take on the favored Minnesota Lynx.

Audio add on: Katz: The Fever Are Everything That’s Good

The combined efforts of the Indiana Fever and the hashtag #FeverFull will bring thousands to downtown Indianapolis Friday night to cheer on the Fever to a game three WNBA Finals victory.  Tony Katz and the team at The Morning News have taken great joy in promoting this proud franchise, a franchise that staffs some of the great spots ambassadors for the state of Indiana.

So why has Tony Katz taken such a sudden interest in the Fever, when listeners identify him as more of a football and futball guy? 

It’s because the Fever represent everything that’s good.  It’s because the Fever can distract us from all of the bad that’s recently plagued the world.  The team has generated excitement for the city of Indianapolis and has offered another reason why Indy is such a great place to live.   

Tony is specific in the commentary below. 

Cool: Indy Lines Up For The Fever – Thousands get tickets to see the Indiana Fever in Game Three

Canadian Cool: Markham’s Sutton-Brown earns WNBA honours

Tammy Sutton-Brown’s time in playing with the WNBA’s Indiana Fever will not be forgotten.

In helping the Fever capture the 2012 WNBA title, the 37-year-old Markham resident and former Fever centre will be honoured when the club hosts the third game of the WNBA finals against the Minnesota Lynx in Indianapolis, Friday.

From Marcus Fuller at the Pioneer Press: Lynx prep for another physical battle in Game 3

The Minnesota Lynx didn’t know how physical the WNBA Finals would be until they were bullied by the Indiana Fever on their home court in a disappointing Game 1 loss.

Their response was to toughen up and be ready for a “blood bath” as Fever coach Stephanie White described Minnesota’s Game 2 victory that tied the series 1-1.

Now that both teams are battle tested, it will be critical for the Lynx not to back down against a frustrated Fever team in Game 3 on Friday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Table slap aside, David Woods says: Shenise Johnson continues to surprise for Fever

The .com has 10 Numbers That Tell the Story of the Finals So Far

BTW: Game 1 of 2015 #WNBAFinals Most-Watched Game Ever on ABC.

Anyone else hoping this goes to five?

Mechelle says, “What about that ’09 class!”

Indiana guard Briann January threw her head back and let out an exultant “yes!!!!” when it was mentioned. Then she high-fived teammates Marissa Coleman and Shavonte Zellous.

On this particular topic, she would have done the same even with someone on the “enemy” side, Minnesota’s Renee Montgomery. And with six other players dispersed throughout the WNBA.

What do they have in common? All were selected in the first round of the 2009 draft, and that group of seniors has proven to be one of the more successful classes.

Reviewing the season, Mechelle writes: Finals help WNBA hit high note despite early-season adversities

…from the perspective of the Lynx and the Fever, what’s happened on the court this season is more important than what happened off it.

“The quality of play was really good, the playoff races were tight,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “We have great parity, because every team has good players on it.

“What I said from the beginning of this year is that the league is bigger than one player or situation. And we’ve seen that’s the case.”

And, to counter the high note, about Sheryl Swoopes’ low note. I didn’t link the interview because I didn’t have the brain space to articulate my reaction beyond “wth!” Not so much helpful. So, I appreciate Kate Fagan’s take: What Sheryl Swoopes Got Wrong About Today’s WNBA

Sheryl Swoopes is one of the most famous women’s basketball players in history, with a platform bigger than most current players, and with a voice that many casual fans listen to and respect.

Her words carry weight. What she says matters.

So when she shares thoughts that seem half-baked, that’s a problem. And when her words seem to be just casually reinforcing a stereotype about the WNBA that current players have been working hard to reshape, that’s also a problem. And when those words also seem vaguely homophobic, that’s a really big problem.

And because that’s no way to end a blog posting, and because I like the name, tagline and headline: At the Hardwood Paroxysm (unbiased opinions from extremely biased people Philip Rossman-Reich has The WNBA foreshadowed the NBA’s positional revolution

Really the positional revolution, if we can call it that, is simply coaches seeking a strategy that gives them a competitive advantage (it was not Rashard Lewis’ three-point shooting that made the Magic successful in the late 2000s, but his ability to defend the traditional power forward) and maximizes the talent on the roster. Don Nelson was testing out crazy lineups and offensive strategies throughout the 1990s — he saw the true potential in Dirk Nowitzki.

Where though has the NBA seen the model for how games would be played in the future?

Believe it or not, the WNBA has eschewed the straight post-up for some time now. A lot of it was certainly out of necessity. With virtually no players who can play above the rim, the offenses tend to focus less on isolations and pure athleticism and more on keeping the paint clear for cutters and movement.

Still, it would be easy to have players in that league just be bullies down on the block. The league though has never skewed that way.

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an adventure – but at least I’ll be able to catch Game 2 – albeit prone and enthusiastically medicated. (A shout out to the WHYY security guard who had Game 1 on the t.v. screen. As he said, “You’ve got to watch this – it’s the Championship!)

In preparation game:

From Mechelle: A more mature Shenise Johnson makes an immediate impact for Indiana

Indiana guard Shenise Johnson writes poems that are sometimes meant to last and other that are meant to go away shortly after they’re created.

“I like to express myself as an outlet, a stress-reliever. So I’m not punching walls or doing anything like that,” she said, chuckling. “It allows you to evaluate, to write something down and release it.

“Then, it’s over and done with and I can do what I please with it. I can throw it out, burn it, or I could keep it and reread it.”

The .com’s Zavadil notes: Coleman, Zellous, January Share Bond That Began in 2009

Cohesion as a unit is a trait that goes hand-in-hand with a championship-caliber team. For the Indiana Fever, that cohesiveness is evident from Tamika Catchings down to the end of the bench.

But for Briann January, Shavonte Zellous and Marissa Coleman, their friendship extends far longer than just the few seasons they’ve played together. All three were first round draft picks in the 2009 WNBA Draft.

AP Jon Krawczynski says Minnesota Lynx coach calls out stars after losing Game 1 of WNBA Finals

Michelle says coach says, not really:

Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve challenged the notion that she challenged veteran guards Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus after Sunday’s 75-69 Game 1 loss to Indiana in the WNBA Finals.

“I don’t necessarily know that I challenged them,” Reeve said Monday. “I was asked, ‘Do they need to do more?’ and I confirmed what everybody sees, that they need to do more.”

In the moments following Sunday’s loss, Reeve indeed was questioned about the need to get more offensive production from her perimeter players.

The Star Tribune’s Kent Youngblood keeps it simple: Lynx need more from veterans Augustus, Whalen in Game 2

Late Sunday afternoon, after her team had lost Game  1 of the Western Conference finals, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve calmly, publicly, challenged Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus to do more.

Monday, subtly, the narrative had changed.

Reeve did not back down from anything she said, though she characterized her comments as less of a challenge than a simple response to a question of whether she needed more from her guards.

Yes, she does.

But Monday she pledged to do more to help them, particularly Whalen. Reeve suggested part of the problem might be in the way games are being called. 

Mechelle offers: Team chemistry helps carry Indiana Fever, Minnesota Lynx in WNBA Finals

The Minnesota Lynx had a basketball clinic with kids on Monday at Target Center, which was exactly what her team needed, according to guard Maya Moore.

That might seem a bit odd, considering the Lynx were coming off a 75-69 loss to Indiana in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals on Sunday. One might think they would have been too tense to have much patience for the youngsters. However, knowing the personality of the Lynx, it makes more sense that they seemed to enjoy it so much.

In college news:

Nebraska: Theriot, Shepard coming back from injuries together

Rachel Theriot and Jessica Shepard rode their bicycles together one day last week from lunch to the Hendricks Training Complex, where the Nebraska women’s basketball team practices.

That’s been a common scene over the past few months — the Huskers’ senior guard and freshman forward riding together — although it’s usually been on stationary bicycles at the practice gym.

On those bikes were two who could be the Huskers’ best players this season, each trying to stay in shape as they continued their comebacks from major injuries.

Montana: Lady Griz thinking reload, not rebuild

Usually when a coach starts telling you about preseason unknowns, it comes across as a preemptive excuse in case things go awry.

Not Robin Selvig. His Montana women’s basketball team may have lost three key starters from last year’s Big Sky Conference championship crew, but don’t expect him to cry poor.

“There’s lots of opportunity now for someone else to step up,” said Selvig, whose squad will hold its first practice Tuesday. “It’s going to be a different look but it’s fun to see each team take on its own personality. There’s lots of questions and lots of fun things to try and decide.”

Colorado: ‘New feeling in the air’ for Linda Lappe’s Buffs

There is no out of bounds when the Colorado women’s basketball team gets on the practice court.

If there’s a loose ball, the Buffaloes are fighting for it until somebody corrals it. If that battle goes all the way to the seats, so be it. The player who eventually secures the ball is applauded. 

“I feel like there’s just a new feeling in the air,” senior Jamee Swan said Monday after the Buffs completed their first official practice of the 2015-16 season. “Nobody is going to let what happened last year happen again.”

Last season was CU’s worst in the five-year tenure of head coach Linda Lappe, as it finished 15-17 and failed to reach the postseason for the first time under her direction.

Connecticut: UConn Women’s Insider: Geno Auriemma’s Global Reach

Let’s take a moment to chart UConn’s enormous global reach in women’s basketball.

We start in Europe. Who would have guessed Elena Delle Donne’s first chance to help Geno Auriemma win a game would come in Girona, Spain, in 2015?

The USA Basketball Women’s National Team opened its European tour with an 84-52 victory over Uni Girona on Sunday, paced by 21 points from Delle Donne, playing in her first national team game against a Spanish team featuring Connecticut Sun guard Chelsea Gray.

“It was so much fun,” Delle Donne told reporters. “It’s probably the most fun I’ve had playing the game, with all these incredible players elevating everybody’s game.”

Florida: UF women’s basketball focused on improving toughness heading into season

Thanks to some unusual training methods, any school facing the Florida women’s basketball team this season would be wise to think better of starting a scrap with the Gators.

During the offseason, coach Amanda Butler made it a point to get her team out of its comfort zone.

In addition to taking them on a team “attack,” because they “never wanna retreat,” Butler also had the team to take boxing lessons.

“We want to be tough,” she said.

New Mexico: Aggie women look to build on last season

Success came a year early for the New Mexico State women’s basketball.

The Aggies won a Western Athletic Conference championship with a young core group of players that all returned to practice for the 2015-16 season on Sunday.

“You look at my sophomore year and we had the talent but we just all had to grow up and go through those growing pains,” said Aggies senior guard Sasha Weber, who led the Aggies with 14.9 points per game last year and was a first-team All WAC selection.

Kansas: Small communities fostered Sports Hall of Famers’ careers

Shalee Lehning used to joke with her Atlanta Dream teammates when she made it to the WNBA that she used to have to drive 30 miles to the nearest movie theatre while growing up in Sublette.

Some couldn’t imagine what that would be like, but to Lehning, she wouldn’t have had it any other way.

“You understand what matters growing up in a small town,” Lehning said. “Community matters, people matter, relationships matter. Those are things that you’re doing because you’re spending time with people.”

Those small-town qualities were on full display Sunday night at the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony, as 11 former coaches and athletes were inducted at the Scottish Rite Center.

You stay put: Missouri gives Pingeton 5-year contract through 2019-20

Illinois: Hopeful ISU women set to open practice

Slogging through a 2-28 season wasn’t a barrel of laughs for anyone associated with the Illinois State women’s basketball program.

Third-year coach Barb Smith expects the coming season, which begins with the first official practice on Sunday, to be much more enjoyable.

“This season is going to be a lot of fun,” Smith insisted. “We are ahead of where we’ve been since I’ve been here. The players worked extremely hard. The attitude of this team is so good right now, very positive.”

The sting of the worst season in program history was intensified when six players with eligibility remaining left the team shortly after the season. One of those, senior forward Sue Crump, changed her mind and was welcomed back to the roster by Smith.

Pennsylvania: Pitt women not doubting themselves after a tough year to top

Two years after winning just nine games, and in their second season under coach Suzie McConnell-Serio, the Panthers won 20 games and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

By any account, Pitt was and still is ahead of schedule. But entering the 2015-16 season, it’s faced with a critical question: Once you’ve reached a certain height once, can you immediately do it again?

Footnote:

Just proving he’s a moral coward and a tone-deaf professional: Isiah Thomas denies wrongdoing in 2007 sexual harassment case

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About to hop in the car with the poppa and hit Philly for the “This I Believe: Philadelphia” event, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten about today’s game (or that “Other” game – yes, I enjoyed the concert…sigh. And I really enjoyed this season.). I’m looking forward to the “Battle of the Healthy Heavyweights.” – nice to see the W doing the bumping, isn’t it?

BTW: Did you know the WNBA Finals features Philly connection

From the AP: Lynx want WNBA Finals redemption against Indiana

 Maya Moore and the Minnesota Lynx waltzed into the 2012 WNBA Finals ready for a coronation.

It was supposed to be the beginning of a dynasty, with the powerful Lynx sure to overwhelm heavy underdog Indiana for their second straight championship.

Tamika Catchings had other ideas.

Catchings and the Fever took it to the defending champions, stunning them in Game 1 in Minnesota and taking the best-of-five series 3-1 for the franchise’s first championship.

Three years later, the two teams are meeting again. And this time, Moore said the Lynx will be ready for them.

Mike Max says the Lynx Focused On Winning Title, Not Revenge On Fever

Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve and Timberwolves’ interim head coach Sam Mitchell chatted as their practices overlapped Thursday. It was a good problem to have because it means the Lynx are in the finals.

“No matter what, it’s just one more opponent we’re getting ready for. This is it, and this is where we were trying to get to and we’re here,” Reeve said.

Maybe what they have learned more than anything is how precious it is to make it to the WNBA Finals. And when you get here, you never know if it could be your last shot.

Swish Appeal is singing the coach White’s praises: Stephanie White etches name in with WNBA coaching greats as is Mechelle: Stephanie White sets bar high in first season as Fever head coach

Indiana coach Stephanie White really wasn’t sure she’d be in the WNBA this long. After retiring as a player, she spent four years as an assistant at the college level, and then went in that capacity to the WNBA’s Chicago Sky.

“I bought into the idea of former players staying in the league to help the current players understand where we’ve come from and where we have to get to,” White said. “To be a part of molding that next generation of players. Because you could take it for granted, very easily, if you’ve grown up with the WNBA and didn’t know it could be taken away.”

The New York Times takes a look at the other bench: With Bold Coach, Lynx Find a Voice. It May Be Hoarse.

Two tense games in the W.N.B.A.’s Western Conference finals reduced Minnesota Lynx Coach Cheryl Reeve’s voice to a rasp. It had mostly recovered by midweek, when Reeve, dressed in blue-and-gray Lynx sweats, directed practice.

But it was not exactly right, and that bothered her.

“Is it better?” she asked. “I tried everything. It’s hard this time of year.”

Part teacher, part taskmaster and part tactician, Reeve is as much the voice and driving force of the Lynx franchise as the American Olympians Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen are the faces.

Speaking of coaches: Dishin & Swishin 10/01/15 Podcast: Previewing the WNBA finals with Mike Thibault & Brian Agler

More from Mechelle: Seimone Augustus as vital as ever to Lynx’s championship hopes

There are times when Minnesota guard Seimone Augustus has just the right message for her hard-driving and intense coach, Cheryl Reeve. It’s the kind of thing not just anybody could say, but Augustus always nails it.

“I joke with her: ‘You might need to get to the studio and get some yoga and find your happy place,'” Augustus said. “So she calls me the Zen master.”

The Star Tribune has a Sunday Q&A: Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson

Reusse: Moore’s arrival lifted Lynx from obscurity

The Lynx were 1-4 in the playoffs in 12 years of existence before Moore. They are 26-8 with Moore.
A franchise that couldn’t get out of its own way for a dozen years is now going for its third WNBA title in the five years of Maya Moore.

Have you ever seen such a winner?

“Maya’s not the quickest player, but she’s fast,” Petersen said. “She’s not the biggest player, but she’s physical. And she just makes so many plays.”

Petersen laughed slightly and said: “Some of them are drawn up in the game plan; some of them aren’t. The way I put it, ‘She goes rogue.’ Sometimes when she goes rogue, it turns into a great play. The rest of the time, Cheryl is yelling at her.

“I’ve never seen a great player get yelled at as much as Maya. She just takes it. Maya has that rare ability to put a bad play — a foul, missed shot, whatever — behind her and instantly get back in the moment.

From the Indy Star’s David Woods: How the Fever were built, player by player

When the Indiana Fever selected Tamika Catchings with the third pick of the 2001 WNBA draft, they secured their future for the next decade and a half.

Yet as great as she has been, the Fever have been to a record 11 consecutive postseasons not solely because of her – and not because of the draft. Not since 2005 have the Fever had a top-four pick.

Kelly Krauskopf, the Fever’s top executive for all of their 16 seasons, has kept the team near the top via trades, free-agent signings, judicious drafting and retention of key pieces.

Kent Youngblood says the  Lynx and Fever are meeting in a finals that’s about veterans, not youth: The Lynx have made a habit of reaching the finals, but it’s anything but routine 

Indeed, in an era where youth is trumpeted, this series is a throwback, with old vets rather than youngsters. The Lynx starters average 30.4 years of age, Indiana 29.2. The Lynx looking for a third title in five years, the fever a second in four seasons.

“This is a series that fans need to appreciate what they see on the floor,” said Rebecca Lobo, the former player who will be part of the ESPN broadcast crew. “Knowing Catchings only has a season left; this might be her last finals. Knowing this Lynx team, as it is put together right now, may be changing in the coming years. … It will be a great series.”

Busy Mechelle writes: WNBA Finals primer: Why Minnesota shouldn’t underestimate Indiana

This is the first time since 2006 — and just the fourth time overall — that the team with the best record in the league did not reach the WNBA Finals. So while the New York Liberty — who went 23-11 this season — must dwell on what went wrong in the Eastern Conference finals, the Indiana Fever move on to try to knock off the team with the second-best record this season: the West champion Minnesota Lynx, who were 22-12 in the regular season.

This is a repeat of the 2012 WNBA Finals, with a very similar cast of main characters, although there are a few new faces in this matchup.

Lynx Looking to Use Homecourt, Crowd to Their Advantage

Women’s Watch: Indiana Fever the real story of this WNBA season

Catchings, who led Stevenson to an IHSA state championship in 1995, has announced that next season will be her last in the WNBA. She is engaged and ready to marry, have children and move on with her life.

She reflected on that when she was in Chicago last month while leading the Fever to a first-round win over the Sky.

“Every time I go out, after this year, it becomes the last of everything,” Catchings said. “This is the last off-season, it will be the last first game.

“Really, this is just the opportunity to go out and enjoy my team. I love my teammates. They’re a great group of ladies and I’m savoring the moments.”

Catchings has certainly been saving some of her best moments for the playoffs.

Again from David: For female athletes, 35 might be the new 25

“We’ve done a really good job all season long just taking care of my body and making sure this is the time that I’m ready,” she said. “I’m ready to perform at the end of the season, and not necessarily at the beginning. So I feel great.”

There is scientific and anecdotal evidence that not only can women perform as well as they did a decade earlier, they can often do better. As women age, they become more aerobic, according to Krista Austin, a sports scientist and coach formerly employed by the U.S. Olympic Committee.  That is, women’s bodies absorb and transport oxygen more efficiently.

What Catchings is doing is not a new phenomenon.

For some of us, there a storyline that has added an interesting tinge to the games: The Holdout: Lynx’s Sylvia Fowles seeking redemption in WNBA Finals

Make a list of the worst sins a pro athlete could commit against the spirit of competition. Somewhere among those offenses, there will be The Holdout. The mere suggestion of such an act quickly calls up a set of images in the mind: of a star player acting selfishly, of a stubborn team at wit’s end. Before long the fan’s blood starts to boil, even though it rightly shouldn’t. This is a boardroom drama that still unfolds against the backdrop of capitalism, after all.

Yet those images, however much ingrained, are hard to reconcile in the WNBA, where the sisterhood is real and the relationships within are largely positive and everlasting. Those images don’t strictly line up with the Minnesota Lynx’s standout center—a big-hearted, soft-spoken, 29-year-old named Sylvia Fowles.

Finally, this is the really essential background reading you need to prep for the game today:

It’s Minnesota vs. Indiana in the WNBA Finals, so here’s a “best-of” look at these two states. We quizzed the natives that both teams have: Minnesota-born-and-raised Lindsay Whalen, the Lynx point guard, and Indiana-born-and-raised Stephanie White, the Fever’s head coach. As a Midwesterner who has spent a lot of time in both states, I’ll toss in my picks, too.

Best TV show set in the state

Minnesota
Whalen: “I’m too young for ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’; I missed that. I’ll go with ‘Coach.’ He was at Minnesota State, which we didn’t even have back then.” (Mankato State changed names to Minnesota State in 1999, two years after the TV show ended.)
Voepel: “I’m a lot older than Whalen and am the biggest ‘MTM’ fan on the planet. I’m just bummed that the famous Mary statue is currently in storage because of renovation work on Nicollet Mall.”

Indiana:
White: “Parks and Recreation.” (Set in wonderfully-fake-but-oh-so-real Pawnee.)
Voepel: “One Day at a Time” if I go with my cheesy 1970s bias; Ms. Romano and daughters lived in Indianapolis. Nah, I’ll choose “Parks and Rec,” too.

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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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Coach Stephanie White is pulling ahead in the Coach of the Year polls. Her Indy team flew into L.A., handed the (rejuvenated, yet Nneka-less) Sparks a nice big lead, only to storm back and get the win. Ouch, playoff run!

Speaking of Indy and Coach White: Former Maryland Star Marissa Coleman Gains Confidence From Indiana Coach

Marissa Coleman is home in the heartland.

It’s taken some time, tears and toughness, but Coleman has found a comfort zone that has the veteran Indiana Fever guard among the elite players in the league, a place she always believed she belonged. Her recent selection to the WNBA All-Star presented by Boost Mobile confirmed that status.

“From day one when I signed here, the conversations coach (Stephanie White) and I shared instilled immediate confidence in me,” Coleman said last week before the Fever defeated the Mystics, 73-62 at the Verizon Center.

In Phoenix, there was no haunting after this beautifully designed play:

The (Pierson-less-cause-she-has-a-sprained-knee-phew!) Shock had a rebound-a-pa-looza against the Mercury on the way to a convincing 74-59 win. (No, you didn’t call that.)

Tulsa also received 15 points each from Karima Christmas and Odyssey Sims, and Courtney Paris added 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Included in those totals were the 1,000th career WNBA point by Christmas and the 1,000th career rebound by Paris.

The Shock are 12-14, solidly in third place in the Western Conference.

In other WNBA news:

Ouch: Meesseman to play through finger injury as Mystics fight for playoff spot

The Washington Mystics have managed to remain in the thick of the WNBA’s Eastern Conference playoff hunt despite a litany of injuries, but with 11 games left in the regular season, Coach Mike Thibault was bracing for a stretch run perhaps without one of his best players after Emma Meesseman dislocated her right index finger Sunday against the Minnesota Lynx.

Nylon Calculus offers their 3-2-C (Don’t tell Tina):

(Ed: In our first season, The Nylon Calculus covered almost exclusively the NBA from a statistical standpoint. This is largely due to the fact that with the advent of SportVU technology, the NBA game has the most robust underlying data. However, that isn’t to say new and interesting observations from a statistical standpoint are not available from other basketball leagues such as the NCAA, FIBA play and especially the WNBA. We are thrilled to have Howard Megdal to provide regular coverage of that league and hope you enjoy.)

As the WNBA season enters its final four weeks, the question of just who will win the Most Valuable Player award depends largely on which areas of emphasis you value most.

The candidates still in consideration for me will come as no surprise to you: Elena Delle Donne of the Chicago Sky, Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury and Maya Moore of the Minnesota Lynx.

Speaking of Maya: Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve, four captains hold 3-hour meeting, skip practice- The Lynx coach huddled with her four leaders in the wake of loss at Washington. 

“I can’t really talk about what we talked about in the meeting, but it was much-needed and I think it’s going to help catapult us to where we need to go,” Augustus said.

Roar: BearShare: Brittany Boyd, WNBA Rookie

Since you don’t actually live in New York City, does that mean that you haven’t had the chance to explore the city?

No, I’ve had opportunities to come into town. Especially on off days, I come. On practice days, I don’t come into the city, because at 2:30, I’m tired so I just want to sleep and just chill and relax my body and prepare for the next day. But if I do want to do something, I can easily come down to the city and look around. On an off day, I’ve walked around Times Square. I’ve been hanging out with Tina Charles, so she took me around to Brooklyn, Queens, and Harlem, so I’ve been getting out a little bit.

From Jayda: Evie Goldstein, director of operations for the WNBA players’ union, wants to explore revenue opportunities and give the players a more powerful voice.

Q:The WNBA and players’ union signed an eight-year collective-bargaining agreement in 2014, which can be terminated after six years. Will top WNBA salaries ever reach NBA minimums ($500,000)?

A: When you negotiate a CBA, the salary part is unlikely to change. But that’s not the only source of revenue for the women. There is a provision in the CBA that gives money back to players after an average team-ticket revenue reaches a certain point. The other source of revenue is licensing. More can be done with that. I’ve only been on the job six months, so I’m talking generally. But in our CBA, revenue share is based solely and singularly on averaged ticket revenue.

10 Years Later: 

As part of an ongoing series of stories centered around the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune reflects on the massive storm’s impact, its devastating aftermath, and its enduring legacy for individuals and the sports community today.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, McDonogh 35 was one of the first public schools in Orleans Parish to reopen the doors and begin the next chapter of its story.

Even before that post-storm decision, McDonogh 35 girls basketball coach Danielle Allen-Lewis had begun searching for her team.

She had good reason.

Lot’s of good news for Rio-Bound Canadians:

Canadian women’s basketball team living a perfect storm a year ahead of Rio 2016 Olympics
Women’s basketball team hopes to keep rolling into Rio – Waterloo Record
Canadian women’s basketball charts map to Rio after clinching Olympic berth – Toronto Star

Slightly OT, but related: Sucky news for not-Rio-Bound Brits (say what!). Luckily, they have English Football to offer them some comfort: ‘Our Lionesses go back to being mothers, partners and daughters today.” Just warms the cockles of my heart… how ’bout you?

“See Ya Soon” news for Seattle: Tokashiki to Miss Four Storm Games for 2015 FIBA Asia Women’s Championship; Rejoins Seattle in September

Congrats: Patriot League Announces Women’s Basketball 25th Anniversary Team

American: Jen Dumiak (2011-15); Lisa Strack (2008-12); Alexis Dobbs (2010-14)
Army West Point: Kelsey Minato (2012-present); Katie Macfarlane (2000-04); Cara Enright (2004-08); Erin Anthony (2007-11); Alex McGuire (2005-09); Lisa Russell (1991-95)
Bucknell: Molly Creamer (1999-03); Desire Almind (2000-04); Hope Foster (2004-08); Vicki Quimby (1998-02)
Colgate: Emily Braseth (2001-05)
Holy Cross: Amy O’Brien (1995-99); Kathy Courtney (1993-97); Lauren Maney (1992-96); Anna Kinne (1996-00); Norinne Powers (1990-93)
Lehigh: Anne Tierney (1999-03); Erica Prosser (2007-11); Jessica DePalo (2001-05)
Navy: Jade Geif (2010-14); Courtney Davidson (2000-04); Becky Dowling (1994-98)

More history: Pioneering Spirit Part III: Salem’s Evie Oquendo overcame the odds as basketball star, role model

For every accomplishment, every moment of greatness, there was an obstacle Evelyn Oquendo had to overcome.

Those obstacles ranged from the small, like the forgotten sneaker on the first day of basketball tryouts at Salem High School, to the prodigious, like a family expectation to join the work force after high school graduation.

One detour off her path and it’s unlikely Oquendo ever would have become the star high school basketball player, the three-time college All-American and national champion at Salem State, or the teacher and role model she is today for the students of Salem’s Collins Middle School.

Oquendo’s story is one of perseverance and destiny. The trail she blazed is a blueprint for how athletics can bring harmony and direction into life.

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Appropriate descriptions of the two Conference Championship games played. Home teams staked themselves a big lead, visitors clawed back a bit (or a lot) to make it interesting… but to no avail.

On the games themselves:

From the AP: Mercury humble Lynx, 85-71 (Interesting echo from Bright Side: One year ago today the Phoenix Mercury were humbled by the Minnesota Lynx) and Phoenix Mercury build large lead, hold on to beat Minnesota Lynx in Game 1

Griner, PHX defense key to big Game 1 win over Minnesota

From Tyler Killian: Mercury open Western Conference finals with rout of Minnesota Lynx

Eleven months ago to the day, the Mercury stood on their home court as the Minnesota Lynx celebrated a series victory in the Western Conference finals — the disappointing end of the Mercury’s drama-filled season.

The memory of that game may have faded some by the time the two teams met on the same floor Friday, but watching the Mercury dominate the Lynx and release the pent-up frustration that had been brewing ever since they were eliminated in 2013, the feeling of catharsis inside US Airways Center was unmistakable.

From the Tribune: Phoenix rises up to top Lynx in Game 1 of playoff series

“This is the playoffs,” Moore said. “There’s not really a lot of surprises when you don’t play with the intensity you need to — especially on the road. There’s nothing that they did that was super new. It was just a matter of them executing their offense. We have to be more aggressive.”

From Richard: Mercury outwork, outhustle and outplay Lynx on way to Game 1 win

Story of the Game: The game started as much of it would go on – unfortunately for Minnesota. Buoyed by their noisy home crowd, the Mercury got out in transition early on and scored the first nine points of the game. They were challenging hard on all the jumpers the Lynx were tossing up, leaking out after making those challenges, and beating Minnesota down the floor at the other end. DeWanna Bonner also drilled a three in the opening 90 seconds of the game, which would be another bad sign for the rest of the night for the Lynx.

From Pat Friday: Indiana rains threes on Chicago to steal victory on home floor

From Nate: Chicago Sky coach Pokey Chatman cites turnovers as a “glaring” problem in Game 1 loss

From Mark Ambrogi the Indy Star: Fever claim Game 1 East Finals victory over Chicago, 77-70

It wasn’t hard for Indiana Fever coach Lin Dunn to determine the key stat on Saturday night.

The Fever hit 9-of-21 3-pointers compared to 1-of-8 for Chicago.

Fever buckle down, stave off Sky and its partner article: Fever hold off Sky in fourth quarter for 1-0 series lead

The Indiana Fever had to have thoughts of the Sky’s historic comeback win four days ago in Atlanta running through their minds.

But, unlike Tuesday night, Indiana fended off the late-charging Sky and held on for a 77-70 victory Saturday night in the opener of the Eastern Conference finals.

From Bright Side of the Sun: WCF Preview: The One Year Journey Of The Mercury

Missed this from David: Delle Donne means the Indiana Fever aren’t facing a normal No. 4 seed

On the upcoming games:

Nate is feeling predictive: ECF/WCF predictions: Mercury, Sky will prevail

Did you catch Richard’s WNBA 2014 Playoff Previews – Eastern Conference Finals: Indiana Fever vs. Chicago Sky and WNBA 2014 Playoff Previews – Western Conference Finals: Phoenix Mercury vs. Minnesota Lynx?

Yup: Lynx need more from Moore against Mercury

The Phoenix Mercury did something in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals that no other WNBA team has been able to do all season long.

They stopped Maya Moore.

And yes: Reeve wants to see Lynx more aggressive in Game 2

Two hands.

If there was one thing that really surprised Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve about Friday’s 85-71 loss in Phoenix in Game 1 of the WNBA Western Conference finals, it wasn’t any one statistic or stretch during the game. It was an attitude.

As in, the defending champion Lynx didn’t have enough of it. “Phoenix has had a great season,” Reeve said Saturday, shortly after the team’s flight landed in Minnesota. “Phoenix has a great understanding that, in order to beat us, to go to the finals, they’re going to have to wrestle the trophy away from us. What I was surprised about was we didn’t have the collective effort to have two hands on that trophy.’’

From Mechelle: Lynx target solid start in Game 2 – Minnesota can’t afford another slow start against Phoenix

Since the Minnesota Lynx elevated to being an elite team in the WNBA three years ago, they haven’t ended a season at home. They won their 2011 and ’13 titles in Atlanta, and lost in the 2012 WNBA Finals at Indiana.

The Lynx are certainly hoping their 2014 campaign doesn’t end in Minneapolis, either — at least not during the Western Conference finals. They are down 1-0 in the best-of-three series after an 85-71 loss at Phoenix on Friday.

Sunday, the Lynx host the Mercury at Target Center (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC) in a game to keep Minnesota’s season alive.

From Tyler: Mercury won’t relax after opening romp in WNBA Western Conference finals

Our frame of mind doesn’t change,” Mercury forward Penny Taylor said. “We know we’re up against a championship team, and we know if we relax for a second, that they’ll be on top of us.

“They’re such a good team, and we expect them to come back at full force.”

Who didn’t see this coming:  Mo’Ne Davis heading to the conference finals

Congrats to all: Chiney Ogwumike wins ROY, heads All-Rookie team (And I know folks are cranky that Shoni wasn’t named – but please don’t bring up her All-Star Game performance as a reason she should have been on the team… That’s just silly.)

This is cool:

Professional basketball player Shoni Schimmel, the first Native American to play in the WNBA All Star Game, and her family will make two appearances this weekend to support the Seneca Nation campaign against alcohol and drug abuse.

More on those who are no longer playing: Lack of star talent remains a top concern in D.C.

From the NY Times: In the W.N.B.A., Women’s Coaching Journey Gets Easier (“Easier”, of course, is a relative term, ’cause the gig reeeeeeally hard)

Seventeen years ago, Lin Dunn was coaching the Portland Power of the short-lived American Basketball League. Dunn believed in sharing her knowledge of the game, so she allowed college coaches to watch her practices.

One of them was Pokey Chatman, then a young assistant coach at Louisiana State. Chatman stayed for a week learning from Dunn, whom she remembered as a volleyball coach at Mississippi in the late 1970s.

On Saturday, Chatman, now coach of the Chicago Sky, faced Dunn’s Indiana Fever in Game 1 of the W.N.B.A. Eastern Conference finals.

Speaking of hard: From the Argus Leader: Daughter inspires coach to stay with basketball team

It’s not all about basketball, says Vermillion, whose 24th year of coaching begins next year. It’s not about the wins and losses. “I can guarantee you I have more losses than wins,” he says. “When I started out, it was all about winning, then I learned it’s not. It’s about developing girls.”

One rule: Family, church and school come first. Vermillion never holds tryouts, and he never names starters. At one point, he required a 3.25 grade point average.

Vermillion encourages players to take the ACT four times. They might not play college ball, he says, but they will come out of there with a degree. He also spends much more time than the typical coach talking with college officials about the girls, doing his best to get them scholarships.

He loves the girls but hates the parents, he says bluntly. The girls, his girls, keep him coming back every season.

Or, maybe it’s just one girl. A dozen years after Tiffany’s death, her father still coaches because, as he says simply, “This is what she left me.”

Sad news out of San Antonio:

In the past two years, Tai Dillard has been an assistant coach in the Pac-12 and SEC, two of women’s college basketball’s top conferences.

As her path has taken her to places such as Palo Alto, California, and Knoxville, Tennessee, Dillard reflected on the person instrumental in helping her coaching journey get started: Sam Houston High School girls basketball coach Milyse Lamkin.

Lamkin, 52, died Thursday after battling cancer, Sam Houston Principal Darnell White said.

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Game time!

From Doug: Key story lines for the WNBA conference finals

WOMEN’S WORLD: For the first time in the 18-year history of the WNBA all four teams in the conference finals are coached by women. That guarantees that for the fourth straight year a female coach will guide her team to the title. Minnesota’s Cheryl Reeve won in 2011 and 2013. Indiana’s Lin Dunn was the champion in 2012.

”I think it’s great,” said first-year Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello, who was the league’s coach of the year this season. ”There’s a lot of talented female coaches out there, so it’s good to see that.”

From Nate: Phoenix Mercury’s Brittney Griner will be center of attention against Minnesota Lynx

Back before the Minnesota Lynx and Phoenix Mercury faced each other at full health the first time just about a month ago, I wrote that the game obviously wouldn’t determine the champion but a Lynx win could very well illuminate just how close these two teams are.

Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened: the Mercury did come back and beat the Lynx in the final regular season meeting between the two teams on August 9, but we got some insight into a potential determining factor for this series and it was a totally predictable aspect of the game based on the numbers.

From Tim: Minnesota Lynx meet their match Friday in Phoenix

Lynx assistant coach Jim Peter-sen hasn’t been losing sleep this week plotting ways to stop the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA’s Western Conference finals.

“Phoenix is a nightmare in having to game-plan for them, in terms of who do you stop,” Petersen said. “But then you realize, hey, they’re a lot like us. We’re mirror images of one another. In some cases, you lay awake worried about if you’ll play well. This is a case where we lay awake because we’re so excited to play.”

From Tyler Killian: Mercury in for tough finals series against Minnesota

It almost seems unfair.

One team’s season will be over in, at most, three more games.

For two teams that have been head-and-shoulders above the rest of the league like the Mercury and Minnesota Lynx have been this year, a best-of-three series is criminally short to decide who will go on to play for the WNBA championship.

But they have no choice.

From Kent Youngblood: WNBA rivalry rekindled for top two teams in Western Conference

A season later, Seimone Augustus still hears about it.

The Lynx were in the fourth quarter of a Western Conference finals opening-game victory over Phoenix at Target Center when, near midcourt. Mercury guard Diana Taurasi passed the ball, then gave Augustus a little shove. Augustus turned and glared. Taurasi then slammed her shoulder into Augustus. The two were face to face when Taurasi leaned over and gave Augustus a peck on the cheek.

“It was either throw a punch or get a kiss,” Augustus joked this week.

From Randy Hill: More defense is Mercury mantra against Lynx’s Moore

 The Mercury are walking the self-awareness walk at a level never before witnessed in the WNBA.

But swagger of this caliber requires talking the talk as part of a defensive commitment that helped generate the best record in league history.

Also from Randy: Griner hopes to measure up as big difference-maker vs. Lynx

From David: Dishin & Swishin 08/28/14 Podcast: WNBA Western Conference Finals coaches Sandy Brondello & Cheryl Reeve talk about the playoffs

Mechelle chatted:

Shades (Minneapolis): Can you reflect on the career of Lin Dunn and tell us how her presence has impacted the WNBA?

Mechelle Voepel: One of the things that Lin Dunn did was she fully made the transition from being one of the “old guard” college coaches to being a pro coach. And we know those are really different jobs … you can’t coach and deal with pros the same way you do with college kids. Obvious, Dunn’s career at Purdue ended in a difficult way – I won’t get into all that here – and that changed her career path. But she ended up really embracing the pro game. Plus, she showed the resilience you need to have to be a pro coach … sometimes you get fired. Sometimes you realize a player is worth more to the franchise than you are. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad coach. You move on. You keep learning, even as you age. You become a better coach through some of your failures, as well as your successes. Lin Dunn has done all of that, and I think she’s also plotted an “exit strategy” that is to be admired. She helped groom a successor who she’s given a lot of responsibility to. Plus, she’s brought a fun personality that has never changed: She is who she is, and she’ll tell you what she thinks all the time. I admire that.

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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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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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Turn out the Lights,” but it’s hard not to think that. Seimone took the lead last night and, with a little support from her friends, the Lynx stomped the Dream.

No surprise, Angel and Fred are cranky.

“We compliment them. They won. They beat us fair and square,” McCoughtry said.

But she clearly took issue with what she felt was excessively physical play by the Lynx and, in particular, Maya Moore.

“The whole pulling me down on the fast break, all that crap, it’s not needed,” McCoughtry said. “I really hurt my elbow when Maya pulled me down on that play. I feel like it wasn’t needed. We don’t play that way. We are going to play hard and we are going to play scrappy, but we aren’t going to pull you down and hurt you. I just felt like I deserve a little more respect than that.”

Respect – be it given or taken – needs to take a back seat to showing up, sharing the ball, playing team defense and making good decisions. ’cause right now, Minnesota’s  one victory away from WNBA title, even though they weren’t satisfied:

“Of course, it wasn’t our best game,” Whalen said. “We had a lot of turnovers, some miscues and things like that. But all things we know we can fix and clean up. We’ll watch the video. We’ll learn from it. But I think it just shows … just our ability (to survive) when there are rough patches.”

Power forward Rebekkah Brunson was grim-faced at her locker afterward.

“We’ve got some things we really need to clean up before we go down there for Game 3,” she said. “We can’t be satisfied. We haven’t accomplished anything yet. We still have plenty of work to do.”

Tom Powers isn’t shy about daring the basketball mojo gods: Focused Lynx look like a lock to add to their ring collection

Let’s hope we’ve seen the last of the Lynx in 2013 — for their sake.

“We don’t want to come back to Minneapolis,” coach Cheryl Reeve said. “If we come back to Minneapolis, it’s going to be for a parade, not to play Game 5.”

And who doesn’t love a parade?

The universe is close to being back in harmony. The forces of nature are almost in balance. The Lynx clobbered the Atlanta Dream for the second straight time Tuesday night. They are one victory away from a WNBA title that somehow, some way, eluded them last season. It doesn’t look as if that will happen again.

From Mike: WNBA Finals: Lynx frustrate the Dream and go up 2-0

From the start, Atlanta sought to take the ball through the lane. The problem with that strategy? Minnesota knew exactly where the Dream wanted to go. The Lynx clogged the paint more frequently, disrupting drives and layup attempts, including an emphatic swat from Moore against Angel McCoughtry in the first quarter. Overall, the Dream made only 13 of 30 shots in the paint, for 26 points, making their increased scoring from the outside a moot point. Minnesota matched its paint production from game one, scoring 42 points, and taking away Atlanta’s strength,

“It was the backdoor cuts, some of the post-ups off of their deflections, screens off their offense,” said Atlanta coach Fred Williams. “That adds up to points in the paint.”

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From the .com: The X-Factors: Monica Wright and Tiffany Hayes

Atlanta’s slogan for the playoffs reads: “Teamwork makes the dream work!” That theme was true in the path to the Finals for both the Dream and Lynx. While both teams have standalone stars, each team wouldn’t be in this place without the supporting cast, specifically the X-factors.

Each team has a spark. That one player behind the stars that really puts the team over the edge in order to win the big games. For Minnesota that energy lies in fourth-year guard Monica Wright and for Atlanta it’s in Angel McCoughtry’s go-to shooter, second-year guard Tiffany Hayes.

Also de le .com: Angel Leads the Way

“She’s been a good leader for us throughout the course of this season,” he said. “That was something we talked about extensively in the offseason. She’s matured a lot as a player, she’s emerged as a full-fledged triple threat player getting us steals, points and passing the basketball.”

Teammate Tiffany Hayes said McCoughtry’s leadership has been the driving force as the Dream prepare for their third WNBA Finals appearance in the past four years.

“I think she motivates us more this year,” she said. “She’s always led by example, but this year she encourages by being more of a vocal leader and I think that’s really been helping us.”

Dave Southorn at the Idaho Statesman notices: Former BSU point guard ‘Fast Freddie’ is running the show in Atlanta

Williams, who played for the Broncos from 1977-79, is in his first full season as head coach and general manager of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream. He has guided the team to the WNBA Finals against the Minnesota Lynx, which begin Sunday, and after serving on the staff since the team’s inception since 2008, it is a moment he is savoring.

“Not many coaches get to see something built from stage one up to this point, so this is definitely a special feeling,’’ Williams, 56, said.

 Nate’s been wicked busy: Erika de Souza’s All-WNBA caliber season

It’s generally difficult to determine what qualifies someone as “underrated”, but there’s definitely evidence to suggest that Atlanta Dream center Erika de Souza has earned the label.

She was a blatant snub from the 2013 All-Star game before being added as an injury replacement for Chicago Sky star Elena Delle Donne. And by almost any statistical standard, she was an equally blatant snub from the 2013 All-WNBA team.

Three keys to the Lynx winning a second title and Monica Wright, versatility & the Sixth Woman award

With 6:23 left in the first quarter of the Minnesota Lynx’s loss in Atlanta on August 20, coach Cheryl Reeve took a timeout to try to stop the Atlanta Dream’s momentum.

After racing out to a 6-0 lead, the Dream were up 10-4 and nothing seemed to be working well for the Lynx – they were looking disoriented as an active Dream defense applied pressure on the perimeter and they couldn’t seem to stop Dream penetration on the other end.

Richard, too:

2013 WNBA Finals Preview: Minnesota Lynx vs. Atlanta Dream – Part 1, Match-ups and Challenges

Here we go again, everybody. The Minnesota Lynx are in the WNBA Finals for the third consecutive season, looking to regain the title that they lost a year ago. The Atlanta Dream are back in the championship series for the third time in four years. The franchises clashed in the 2011 Finals, with relatively similar rosters – and the Lynx won in a sweep. But that feels like a long time ago, and a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. The 2013 regular season, which saw the Dream finish .500 while the Lynx were their typical dominant selves, is largely irrelevant now. So a series from a couple of years ago definitely can’t be considered particularly important. Everyone starts the Finals 0-0, and the Dream’s confidence should be high after a sweep of Indiana to win the East, where they went some way towards reestablishing their identity. The track record of the Lynx makes them worthy favourites for this series, but they won’t have things all their own way.

2013 WNBA Finals Preview: Minnesota Lynx vs. Atlanta Dream – Part 2, Key Themes and Factors, and the Final Verdict

Now for the topics, trends, decisions and debates that are likely to decide the WNBA Finals, or are at least worth paying attention to as the series goes along. Many of them were touched upon in Part 1, where we took a closer look at the personnel involved, but now we’ll get more in depth. Then, just for fun, I’ll offer up a prediction. Although with the way it’s been going for me with picks this year in the postseason, you might want to go the other way.

Mr. Youngblood at the Star Tribune is not to be outdone: Lynx’ Maya Moore enjoying playoffs more than Lynx’s two opponents so far

For Maya Moore, the anticipation, the excitement had been building. So when the Lynx took the Target Center court last week for the first game in their Western Conference championship series with Phoenix, it was like Moore was being launched from a cannon.

“She’ll tell you the first five minutes of that Phoenix game, she just blacked out,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said, “because there was so much adrenaline.

“Now, she played like it,” Reeve said, laughing. “That’s why we had to take her out.’’

McCoughtry’s fuming turned Atlanta around late in season

A couple of weeks ago, Angel McCoughtry — seemingly by the force of her personality — changed the course of the Atlanta Dream’s season.

Wildly erratic during the regular season, the Dream stumbled into the playoffs at 17-17, then opened the postseason with a home loss to Washington in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

McCoughtry’s line for the game: 20 points, four rebounds, three assists, two blocks and one meltdown. “If we’re not upset right now and embarrassed on national television, then we might as well go home now and not show up in D.C.,” she fumed after the game. “Right now needs to be the turning point, this very moment.’’

Lynx are looking to ‘finish job’ against Atlanta in WNBA Finals and Lynx can no longer use the ‘no respect’ line

BTW: Elizabeth Dunbar at Minnesota Public Radio has this: Lynx success has turned team into profitable venture

As the Minnesota Lynx prepare for their third straight appearance in the WNBA finals, Glen Taylor finds himself in rare position: owning a WNBA team that’s profitable.

It took a decade to get there, the billionaire says, and it feels good.

John Altavilla at the Hartford Courant: Maya Moore’s Winning Way Continues With Another WNBA Title Shot

Jayda’s still here: Maya Moore vs. Angel McCoughtry in best-of-five series on ESPN networks

The Gwinnett Daily Post notices that the Lynx are sweeping through the postseason

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution finally pays attention.

More than two weeks ago, after a dispirited loss to Washington, an aggravated Angel McCoughtry sat in her locker and defiantly said she wanted to win a championship with the Dream.

From Mechelle: Once again, it’s Maya versus Angel – Former Big East rivals, U.S. teammates face off in WNBA Finals

Matchups between contrasting stars are always intriguing. And Minnesota’s Maya Moore and Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry, Olympians whose teams meet in the WNBA Finals starting Sunday (ESPN and WatchESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET), certainly have their distinct differences.

Moore seemed like she was in her 30s even when she was an 18-year-old. She carries herself with almost a regal dignity, her emotions generally hidden behind the “Maya mask” that somehow successfully mixes implacability and humility. She will not let up until she defeats you, but she’s not going to rub your face in it.

As much as Moore’s countenance rarely gives anything away, McCoughtry’s expressions say all kinds of things. Everything, actually. Over the years during games, you might see her look elated, irritated, amused, bemused, furious, frustrated, determined, resolved. In interviews, McCoughtry could be charming, funny and insightful — or she could be borderline morose. Or somewhere in the range in between.

From Michelle: Reeve shows the way for Lynx

And so we return to the WNBA Finals, the occasion of Cheryl Reeve’s seminal moment as a WNBA coach. The day she threw her jacket.

Upset over a non-foul call in Game 2 of the 2012 WNBA Finals, Reeve lost her cool and one article of clothing, tearing off her blazer and tossing it while yelling at the officials.

But if Reeve earned national airplay with her revealing outburst, it is only a colorful distraction from a coaching career that is starting to build momentum in the legacy of the league. An illuminating moment, but still only a moment.

From SlamOnline: SLAM Radio: WNBA Finals Preview, Draft and Stash, Isaiah Whitehead

Mechelle and Brenda do the podcast thang.

HoopFeed’s podcasting, too: Lin Dunn and Brian Agler break down the WNBA finals

Watch out! WNBA Bringing Back Ref Cams for Finals

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with Phoenix knocking of Minnesota’s biggest challenger, and Indiana doing the same for Atlanta. Guess everybody will be nice and rested.

I’m looking forward to these games, especially to see how the battle in the paint plays out… tho Jayda is looking for something different: the battle No-Longer Big Easters: Maya Moore vs. Angel McCoughtry in best-of-five series on ESPN networks

From Mechelle: Two motivated clubs meet for title

Sorry, Minnesota Lynx, you still don’t get to be the underdog. It’s your third consecutive year in the WNBA Finals, and you’re the favorite again. You wore that mantle well in 2011, but the championship slipped away from you last year.

**

Sorry, Atlanta Dream, but this is your third trip in the past four years to the WNBA Finals, and you are going to feel underestimated again. The Lynx had a 26-8 regular-season record to your 17-17. They had three players with MVP-like numbers this year (Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus); you had one (Angel McCoughtry).

From Michelle: Lynx, Dream meet again in Finals

Key to the series

Protecting the home court. Atlanta has to win at least once in Minnesota if it wants to win this series. That’s no easy task considering the Lynx’s 17-2 record at home this season. In two playoff wins in Minnesota so far, the Lynx’s average margin of victory is 19.5 points.

The Dream have won only two road games since June 23, winning at Washington in the Eastern Conference semifinals and at Indiana on Sunday. But Atlanta has been a dismal team away from its home court for most of the year, and that doesn’t bode well.

Tim Leighton at the Pioneer Press talks pre-game prep: Before WNBA finals comes 10 hours of ‘Grand Theft Auto’

The victory in the best-of-three Western Conference finals not only gave the Lynx a berth in the WNBA Finals for the third consecutive season, it also earned players a 48-hour furlough from coach Cheryl Reeve.

Augustus had two things in mind upon returning home: a massage and getting her fingers warmed up for a team “Grand Theft Auto” video game party.

Don’t let the frivolity give you the wrong impression, though. Nathan Meacham reassures fans of Los Lynx that Minnesota’s not expecting a 2011 Finals rerun with Dream

It’s back to the WNBA Finals for the Minnesota Lynx, who will be facing the same opponent they defeated in 2011, but that doesn’t mean there are many similarities.

“This team is really different than the team in 2011,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “Each of their journeys has been very different. This group wants to get this team’s championship to cap off this journey.”

Nate offers up Three keys for the Atlanta Dream in the 2013 WNBA Finals

During his introduction to the Atlanta Dream’s game against the Minnesota Lynx on August 20, broadcaster Bob Rathbun commented, “You can game plan for the stars in this league defensively, but the reason they’re stars is that they can come through despite all the defensive pressure. That’s certainly the case with Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry and Minnesota’s Maya Moore.”

And of course you can probably apply the same reasoning to Seimone Augustus.

Yet the thing that fans often forget when considering the defensive end of the ball is that defense is never entirely a one-on-one effort – it’s always a 5-on-5 effort. Conveniently, examples of what the Dream need to do to succeed showed up within the first four minutes of their 88-73 win in late August.

The Card Chronicle takes notice: McCoughtry Seeking Elusive First WNBA Championship

It’s been nearly five years since Angel McCoughtry left Louisville, and since then she’s accomplished just about every professional goal imaginable. Except one.

McCoughtry will go for her first WNBA title when the Atlanta Dream begin play in the WNBA Finals on Sunday at Minnesota. The Dream have played in the finals in three of the last four years, but were swept in both of their previous appearances, including in 2011 against Minnesota.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution couldn’t be bothered, so they asked Doug to chime in (and don’t even ask him to make it Dream-centric): Minnesota Lynx face Atlanta Dream in WNBA finals

Ever since the Minnesota Lynx lost in the WNBA finals last year, they’ve been focused on getting back there.

Now they are three wins away from a second championship in three seasons, facing a team they swept two years ago to earn the franchise’s first title.

“We’re a very hungry, determined group of women,” said Minnesota’s Seimone Augustus. “All year we’ve talked about holding our goal and destiny in our hands. We have another chance at a title after not ending last season the way we wanted to.”

Clay writes his WNBA Finals preview: Will Atlanta live the Dream? Or will Minnesota erase last year’s nightmare?

The WNBA would have much preferred one of the Three to See, or Candace Parker and company, in the Finals. The league can certainly deal with Minnesota, with Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus, but 17-17 Atlanta, two-time losers in the Finals, isn’t exactly the dream opponent (sorry).

The positives are that the Dream love to run, so there should be lots of points, and Angel McCoughtry could melt down in SportsCenter-worthy fashion at any moment.

In the end, though, the Lynx are clearly better, and an Atlanta win in this series would count as the biggest Finals’ upset in league history.

Jayda also offers up some exit interviews: Nancy Darsch will not return to Seattle

Speaking of exit interviews, Mark Ambrogi at the Indy Star says Indiana Fever looking to reload for 2014 after getting swept in Eastern Conference finals

Good news for the Chicago: Sky owner Michael Alter all-in (and for those who say the League needs to avoid being “a movement”:

What Alter did not see coming but has figured out, he said, is that “this league is still about a cultural transformation, getting people [to relate to and follow] women and women athletes. And we still have a long way to go, that’s just a fact.”

He also included the phenomenon of women reporters eschewing what some, like himself, may view as a responsibility to champion women’s sports in favor of pursuing the bigger (men’s) beats.

“It’s the same thing with the corporate battle,” he said. “Men are not as comfortable saying, ‘We should do this.’ They don’t want to be the one to make the argument convincing everyone to do it. They’ll support if, but they want someone else to be the flag bearer.”

Simply put, Alter said, that attitude took him by surprise.

Mystery AP person writes: Mercury fall short of expectations, but coaching change brings strong finish

“It was a strange year, it was a little weird,” Taurasi said. “When things were not going our way through the season we worked through it. When they made the coaching change, it could have easily been a foregone season. But we stuck with it. I’m happy the way we fought throughout the season.”

In college news:

Might be an idiot: UWGB women’s basketball: Zastrow pleads not guilty to DUI charge

Might be in trouble: Georgetown places women’s basketball coach Keith Brown on leave following complaints

Georgetown has placed women’s basketball Coach Keith Brown on administrative leave, along with assistant coach Tim Valentine, following complaints of unprofessional conduct and inappropriate language.

The concerns were raised by players on the eve of Brown’s second season as head coach of the Hoyas and were first reported Monday night by WJLA (Channel 7). Georgetown’s assistant vice president for communications, Stacy Kerr, confirmed the circumstances that led to the university’s actions in a statement.

Awful news, reminding us how hard it can be to speak up for oneself: Maryland man arrested for assault of Tennessee recruit Jannah Tucker

A Maryland man has been arrested and charged with second-degree assault in a case that involves Tennessee recruit Jannah Tucker.  The No. 12 ranked 2013 recruit surprised the Lady Vols’ staff in July when she did not report to campus as scheduled, instead sending an email citing unspecified “personal reasons.”

Full Court has confirmed a police report and obtained court documents indicating that officers from the Franklin precinct of the Baltimore Police Department arrested Joshua Anthony Gerrard on Wednesday, July 25, at his home in Owings Mills, Md., on charges of second-degree assault. Gerrard remained in custody overnight and was released the following day on $50,000 bail. A trial date has been set for Feb. 12, 2014.

In high school news:

Definitely an idiot: Ex-basketball coach gets probation over play devised to hurt student heckler

Could be an eye-opener: High school girls’ hoops seeks officials

Nice to be recognized: Dover honors 2 for legendary commitment to students, community

During the introduction for Fisk the announcer read, “Marge Fisk, a graduate of DHS, Class of 1950, and the University of New Hampshire Class of 1954, came back to Dover High in the fall of 1970. Married to husband Bill and raising four children, Marge began the awesome task of revamping the girl’s Phys Ed. Department. With determination, organization and a little bit of magic she began putting together a solid sports program and some of the best girl’s basketball and field hockey teams in the state.” 

In 1975, the field hockey team won the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association for Field Hockey Class AA Championships under Fisk’s leadership. In 1977, an undefeated team coached by Fisk won the Girls Basketball State Championship.

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This time it was the .comCurse (Candace Parker’s Road to RedemptionParker is in midst of her prime playing some of the best basketball of her career right now) and Jayda (Welcome to hot seat Candace Parker; your must-win title push starts now.):

The Sparks, starting a season-high five-game road trip, were without All-Star Game MVP Candace Parker due to an injured right wrist. Her status for Los Angeles’ next game, Sunday at Washington, was uncertain.

Parker’s absence shouldn’t diminish the Shock’s win, nor Cambage’s career high 28pts. 

“It’s good to beat a good team,” Tulsa coach Gary Kloppenburg said. “We really want to push for the playoffs and we know we’ve gotta beat some of these elite teams to get there.”

Guess Diggins got her birthday wish.

The Laurel was in Minny: 

She was asked about a pre-season survey of league general managers, who picked Phoenix to finish first in the Western Conference, followed by Los Angeles and Minnesota. The Lynx have the league’s best record (14-3) at mid-season. “Maybe there were some bright, shiny toys in the window that got people excited,” she said, referring, perhaps, to highly-touted rookies like Skylar Diggins and Brittney Griner. “But I can’t imagine anyone affiliated with the WNBA considering the Lynx an afterthought.”

The Lynx confirmed their non-afterthought status by sluggishly starting and then slugging the stubborn Stars, 85-63.

“Everybody says, ‘What do you have to work on?’ ” Reeve said, acting as though the question was preposterous. “There is a ton we have to work on. … We played in spurts. We feel we have to play better, for sure. But in the end, statistically, we had a pretty good game.’’

Guess so.

In Chicago, Big Syl was…well, BIG as her 10-14 (32pt-15rebs) shooting made up for Prince & Cash’s double-double (3-13) carried the Sky over the Mystics.

“You know, she’s a beast,” Chicago coach Pokey Chatman said. “I call that her beast mode. … Look at her toenail polish when you go in there (to the locker room). She’s got that Incredible Hulk Green on.”

“Pack Up Your Basketballs In Your Old Kit Bag:” USA Basketball Announces Plan To Relocate Headquarters To Tempe, Arizona

USA Basketball today officially announced that it has agreed to relocate to Tempe, Arizona, as part of a $350 million development project. USA Place, LLC, has been selected to develop a new national headquarters and training center for USA Basketball on a 10.5-acre site located next to Arizona State University’s Tempe campus on land owned by ASU at the southeast corner of Mill Avenue and University Drive.

I can see the financial lure. Wonder how the staff will feel — and what impact it will have on the athletes (bball and other sports).

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You know I was being sarcastic, right?

’cause if you didn’t watch the late game last night: SPOILER ALERT!!!

Might I suggest you stop reading, find yourself a couple of hours, and go watch the game?

For those of us who did watch the game: Holy Carp, no?

Some random thoughts on the game before I link to those who know a whole heckuvalot more than I do:

  • Officiating: They let Louisville get away with murder at the beginning of the game. Thought it was amusing that Jeff was all het up about his players getting called for so many fouls. They deserved every one of them — and once they DID get called, the game settled down a bit.
  • I don’t remember a TEAM shooting so friggin’ lights out from three — yes, a player. But the whole team?
  • I don’t mind jawin’ on the court. Talk is talk, but Shoni could have gotten a T for in the face action she pulled on Griner. (Couldn’t tell if she got a warning. She should have.) Loved Griner look to the ref: “Really, ref? I need to put up with this $ht?”
  • Shoni’s jawin’ earned her a T/foul. And then she fouled out with that foolish left arm. That coulda cost her team big time.
  • Geno called himself a dumba$$ after the Maryland for getting T’d up. It cost his team 4 points. But that was at the half, with UConn up. Jeff cost his team four points with is T at 2 minutes. Perhaps it wasn’t a charge, but he needs to be smarter.
  • Perhaps there wasn’t a charge on the other end, neither, but how on earth does Kim not get a T for pulling a Cheryl Reeve?
  • For long time Big East fans who know how hard injuries have cut into a promising career, it was painful to watch Monique miss the front end of that of that one-and-one. (Great call by Kim to foul). But, it set up her game winning FTs beautifully. (Great call by Jeff not to call a timeout — and what happened to Baylor’s D that Griner wasn’t back in the paint?)

Wowza. What a game. And thanks, Kevin, for showing the players some love.

From the experts:

From ESPN.com’s “news services” (though a ton of the AP report is included) Louisville dashes Baylor’s repeat hopes with shocking upset

Mechelle offers some Instant Analysis.

All things considered, you might call it the biggest upset in women’s NCAA tournament history. Or at least very high on the list. Louisville, the No. 5 seed, took down defending champion Baylor 82-81 in the Sweet 16 after an other-worldly performance from behind the arc. And after surviving a frantic, riveting Baylor comeback.

The Louisville women shocked the world and, in this case, it is not hyperbole. The Cardinals made 16 of 25 3-point shots. Every coach has been asked how to best defeat Baylor, and all have said the same thing: Hit from the perimeter. Louisville did. Wow, did the Cardinals do that.

She follows it up with Game’s biggest upset stuns Baylor – Fifth-seeded Louisville knocks off defending NCAA champ to advance to Elite Eight

In the Baylor locker room, point guard Odyssey Sims, crying, clung to former Bears men’s player Perry Jones III. He’s now with the NBA’s Thunder, so the Chesapeake Energy Arena is his home. But it felt like probably the worst place in the entire world to Sims.

Finally, Sims broke away from Jones and sat disconsolately at her locker. Next to her came the sound of wracking sobs from senior teammate Kimetria “Nae-Nae” Hayden. A Baylor official, trying to comfort both distraught players said, “Take a deep breath. Just breathe.”

Breathing was hard for everyone — players, coaches, media, and fans alike — in the closing minutes of this insane, unpredictable, dramatic, thrill-ride of a basketball game.

John Adams at GoVolsXtra notes: Baylor not the only ones ‘stunned’ by upset

Dean Lockwood could have been speaking for the entire Baylor team Sunday evening.

“I’m stunned,” the Tennessee assistant coach said seconds after Louisville defeated No. 1 Baylor in the Sweet 16 round of the Oklahoma City regional at Chesapeake Energy Arena.”

“I’m just trying to process what I’ve just seen,” he added.

Nate at Swish Appeal talks about The perfect storm that helped Louisville upset Brittney Griner & the Baylor Lady Bears

What those two games had in common with the Louisville Cardinals‘ win today is that both of those teams got hot from the 3-point line to help them score over Baylor’s formidable defense. That part of the strategy to beat Baylor has been obvious for some time now, as written in the preview of the game today. The problem is that those other two teams – arguably inferior to Louisville’s team – just couldn’t sustain the hot shooting that included well-above average individual shooting performances.

Part of what went right for Louisville is that their shots just kept falling.

To that point, Mark C. Moore of SB Nation’s Baylor site Our Daily Bears made the point after the game that claims of Louisville employing a “masterful gameplan” were overstated and to some extent, when you look back at how some other non-elite teams have played Baylor, that’s very true: even if you argue that Louisville won the game for a number of reasons, 64% 3-point shooting by a 31% shooting team – yes, more than twice their season success rate – was a major, major reason that they were able to hang on for a one point win.

Clay at Full Court says, Cardinals stun the Bears – Louisville was just better

Baylor didn’t have a bad game.

The Bears scored 81 points against Louisville Sunday, shooting respectably from the field and the line. They controlled the boards. They forced 20 turnovers. They mounted an amazing comeback, worthy of any champion.

And they even got lucky. Jeff Walz drew an incredibly dumb technical foul with 2:01 left and his team up six. The Cardinals turned the ball over with 15 seconds left to set up two more clutch Odyssey Sims’ throws.

And yet … and yet.

Fagan offers up the Five biggest NCAA tourney upsets.

Check out the post-game comments from Kim, Odyssey and Brittney. You can go here for Jeff, Antonita and Shoni.

As her college career ends, Hays gives us Griner’s most memorable moments

Oh, right… there were other games.

Okay, first, I have to ask: Who forgot to take the highlighter out of their shorts before all the Notre Dame uniforms were washed? *Oh, come on! You know you were thinking the same thing!*

That aside, the Irish made quick work of the Jayhawks behind Diggins’ impressive leadership. Says Graham:

 Key player: Who else? A day before the game against Kansas, Diggins talked about trusting her instincts when it comes to the line any point guard must tread between setting up others and looking for her own shot. So it was only fitting that she put those instincts on display taking over a game in which she became Notre Dame’s all-time leading scorer. The scoring established, she picked up assists on three of the team’s first six field goals in the second half and put up seven of her nine assists after halftime.

Al Lesar at the SBT writes: ‘Sky’ just following orders

Curt notes: Diggins gets a record in Irish rout

“… Skylar owned the day,” McGraw said. “I thought she was great from start to finish, both ends of the floor.”

Curt says: Crowd enjoys Loyd’s specialty

Notre Dame freshman Jewell Loyd wowed the crowd at Old Dominion University’s Ted Constant Convocation Center Sunday with three brilliant alley-oops in which she soared out of a sprint, caught a pass while airborne and connected off the glass for a layup.

“Make or miss, they’re definitely momentum plays,” point guard Skylar Diggins said of Loyd’s alley-oops during the 93-63 rout of Kansas that put the Irish in the Elite Eight. “You get the crowd going. When she got fouled, it was like, ‘Ooohhhh. When she made it, the crowd was
‘Ooohhhh’ and ‘Ahhhhhh.’

Next up for Notre Dame: Duke, which had to battle to shake a stubborn Nebraska team (really tough to watch Hooper get hurt).

When a high-scoring team like Duke lays an egg offensively, it usually spells trouble for its tournament chances. But the second-seeded Blue Devils outlasted sixth-seeded Nebraska 53-45 Sunday, relying on stout defense and their stronger interior presence—including seven blocks from Elizabeth Williams—to advance.

From HuskerExtra: Bittersweet: Cold-shooting Huskers dropped by Duke

Two women’s-sized basketballs will fit through a hoop.

Not even one would fit enough times for Nebraska to back up a strong defensive effort against Duke on Sunday in the NCAA Tournament.

The No. 24 Huskers (25-9) hit just 30 percent of their shots, and only 3 of 24 three-pointers, in a 53-45 loss to fifth-ranked Duke in the NCAA round of 16 at the Constant Convocation Center.

There was still some consolation in playing Duke so close.

From Rob Clough: Duke Knocks Off Nebraska, 53-45

Once again, it’s survive and advance for Duke. In a game where the Devils shot just 32%, their aggressive defense held the Nebraska Cornhuskers to just 30%. Husker star Jordan Hooper was just 3-14 from the floor before she rolled her ankle late in the game, while star point guard Lindsay Moore shot only 5-18. Nebraska simply didn’t have the players to generate enough offense in other ways. In some respects, Duke got a berth into the Elite Eight the moment that Nebraska upset Texas A&M, because the Aggies would have matched up much better with Duke than the small and slow Huskers. Whenever Nebraska had a modicum of success in this game, it came because of a Duke turnover or a jumpshot that landed. Considering that Duke only coughed up the ball 9 times and the Huskers were a collective 3-24 from beyond the arc, much of their success was short-lived.

Graham offers some Instant Analysis.

Key player: Alexis Jones. It wasn’t the maestro’s command that Notre Dame point guard Skylar Diggins displayed in the day’s first game, but Jones more than held up her end of the bargain in a regional loaded with some of the best point guards in the nation, including her injured teammate Chelsea Gray. Jones finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and six assists. The freshman also had seven turnovers, but if her job was to manage the team on the floor, she succeeded.

It was close, for a while, but eventually Tennessee ran away from the short (and more during the game)-handed Sooners.

From Guerin Emig at the Tulsa World: OU women fall to Tennessee in NCAA women’s tourney

Oklahoma’s feel-good season ended this afternoon when the Sooners were knocked from the NCAA Tournament by deeper, more athletic and just better Tennessee 74-59.

Dan Fleser says, Lady Vols feeling at home in regional, advance to play Louisville

First, Tennessee took the pro-Oklahoma crowd out of the game.

Then, the Lady Vols ushered the Sooners out of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

John Adams adds, Kamiko Williams’ value increases as UT advances

Tennessee’s advance to the Elite Eight was distinguished by a changing of the guards Sunday afternoon at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Senior guard Kamiko Williams, not SEC co-player of the year Meighan Simmons, is starting to look like the Lady Vols’ most valuable player.

It was as obvious as hit-and-miss in a 74-59 victory over Oklahoma in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

Mechelle offers some Instant Analysis.

Ever since they saw the NCAA tournament bracket, Tennessee fans have been stewing about being in the same region of the draw as Baylor for the third time in the past four seasons.

After the No. 2 seed Lady Vols’ 74-59 regional semifinal victory over No. 6 seed Oklahoma on Sunday, the Final Four is just a step away. But it could be a very large step. If Baylor beats Louisville in the second semifinal here, once again the Lady Bears will stand in the way of Tennessee’s 19th Final Four appearance.

That’s probably especially galling to the Orange crew because even after Tennessee won the SEC regular-season title, the Lady Vols still got stuck with the defending champion and the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Post game for Oklahoma here. Post game for Tennessee here.

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Check out these shooting percentages: 7-43 (.163) and 17-62 (.274)

Good news for Portland from Walter Villa:

Last month, the University of Portland women’s basketball coaches received an early Christmas present, and it came, fittingly enough, from very near the North Pole.

Hannah Mattson, a 5-foot-10 senior combo guard from West Valley (Fairbanks, Alaska), signed with the Pilots, who were thrilled to get the state’s reigning Gatorade Player of the Year.

Learn a little bit more about Baylor signee Nina Davis and UConn signee Saniya Chong

Pressure is the enemy of many an athlete. Somehow, it is not an enemy of Chong’s. Pressure has turned the high school senior into a national superstar. Pressure got her a full ride to the most prestigious college basketball program in the country. At the biggest moment, in front of the most eyes, the quiet girl is simply better.

Geno Auriemma didn’t recruit the 5-foot-9 guard to UConn because of this quality. He recruited her because she handles the ball and hits 3s and flies up the court like she’s trying to catch the last bus. But when UConn finds itself in a tight NCAA tournament game with four minutes left and the ball in her hands, he’ll be happy her brain works the way it does.

Quadruple-double anyone? How about a Crazy girls basketball buzzer beater

And how about d’em Flyin’ Flyers?

From the files of the strange but true, no team has learned more from a loss this season than one of only 11 teams that remain unbeaten.

Dayton opened practice this fall without the seven seniors who made up more than half of last season’s roster, a group that included four multiyear starters and key components of three consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament. In their place came seven freshmen, as well as six returning players with just 35 career starts among them (all but 10 of which belonged to one player, sophomore Andrea Hoover). Flyers coach Jim Jabir hoped the returnees would take ownership of the program, hoped the freshmen would live up to the reputations that made the class one of the highest rated outside BCS conferences. But hope in October is a long way from certainty in November.

The Ducks get cooked. Again.

Ex-Georgetown head coach gets her 150th victory: George Washington women’s basketball falls to Terri Williams-Flournoy, Auburn

Speaking of milestones: Penn State Women’s Basketball: Coquese Washington Earns 100th Victory in 60-41 Win at Virginia Tech

So, an undefeated Buffalo walks on to the court and meets a 9-1 Cardinal… wonder what will happen.

It can be a slooooooow process: Azzi rebuilding San Francisco

Everyone who knows Azzi as a leader and motivator thought she had a decent shot at turning around a moribund Dons program falling further behind the pace set in the West Coast Conference by Gonzaga. But reconstructing a basketball program takes time. It takes energy. Patience. And most of all, as Azzi has discovered, the ability to identify talent and then recruit it.

“We are not even close to there yet,” Azzi said Tuesday. “Would I like it to be sooner? Sure. But I don’t think anyone expected it to happen overnight.”

A nice WATN? New role, same competitive drive – Jackie Stiles is in her first season as an assistant at Loyola Marymount in L.A.

Once the girl from Claflin, always the girl from Claflin.

And once infatuated by basketball, always infatuated by basketball.

A decade after she played her last competitive game in the WNBA, Stiles is in her first season as an assistant coach at Loyola Marymount, her first coaching job. The star of the second Missouri State team to reach the Final Four (the school dropped “Southwest” from its name in 2005), Stiles now works for Elliott, a standout on the first Missouri State team to reach the national semifinals in 1992.

Ouch: UNT Notebook: Godbolt dismissed from women’s basketball team

Mike Carmin writes: Purdue women’s basketball: 5 things we’ve learned, 5 things we don’t know

Oklahoma women’s basketball: Whitney Hand is ‘OK’ with the end of college career- Hand, who suffered a second career knee injury, has done a lot of processing since the injury a week ago. “It is what it is, and I’ve done what I’ve done.”

WNBA players are now entering a “Flop-Free Zone.”

With a h/t to Friend of the Blog Anonymous: Lynx Coach Cheryl Reeve down at St Olaf College in Northfield, MN for a lecture on women and sports. It was a great event.  She offered some candid observations about the WNBA, the future of the league, lowering the hoops, female coaches in the NBA: .The Penalty Box: Reeve hits Northfield and some audio-multimedia.

 

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THIS close.

And don’t even begin to lie to me and say that you thought Indy, down Katie AND Pohlen, had a chance in youknowwhat. And, even if you were a cock-eyed optimist, there ain’t no way you call the margin of victory. And yet, look what happened.

From the Indy Star, Bob Kravitz wrties: Magical effort has Fever oh so close to WNBA title

They lost Katie Douglas to a sprained ankle. They lost Douglas’ replacement, Jeanette Pohlen, to another injury in Game 2 in Minnesota. They found themselves in a WNBA Finals series against the defending champions, the Minnesota Lynx, a team that is deeper, younger, healthier and more athletic.

“How are you going to match up now without Douglas and Pohlen?’Indiana Fever coach Lin Dunn was asked before Game 3 Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

She smiled and laughed.

“Pull a rabbit out of a hat,” she said.

All credit to Indy’s defense, guards stepping up, and Tamika’s top-to-bottom fierceness. Oh, and 18,000-plus Fever fans who were, as Lobo so aptly put it, taken out of the game because Minnesota played so miserably. Auriemma sent Rebecca a morning tweet: @RebeccaLobo surprised u werent up earlier since i heard u and Terry snoring during 3rd quarter last night

Forget jacket tossing — btw, On The Fly: Minnesota Lynx Coach Fined For Throwing Her Coat In Game 2 and, from Jayda: “That Bobby Knight, Lou Piniella, Cheryl Reeve montage of meltdowns was hilarious. Guys in a different bar&I debated same. Knight took prize” — they’re this close to tossing hats in the air.

Says the Star’s David Woods:

This was easy. Or E-Z. Or “E” and “Z” as Lin Dunn put it.

“E” is Erlana Larkins. She has re-introduced herself to the women’s basketball world.

“Z” is Shavonte Zellous. She left her mark on the Minnesota Lynx as the fictional Zorro did on the Spaniards.

They contributed to a dazzling night that had Brad Stevens and Eric Gordon — a couple of Indianapolis’ basketball celebrities — tweeting about it. The Fever crushed the Lynx 76-59 in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals on Friday, moving within one victory of their first championship.

Writes Michelle:

The look on Cheryl Reeve’s face at the third-quarter timeout expressed more than any flying jacket. It wasn’t passion. Not even anger, really, but unmistakable disgust.

There’s being beaten by an Indiana team having a great night. But being beaten like this?

From Mechelle: Zellous puts Fever on brink of title (yes, Z, Big East fans see — and have seen — you!)

The Indiana Fever had been away from home a long time. They left Oct. 9 after having survived Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals the night before. By the time they returned to Indiana’s capital city on Oct. 18, they had won the East title, lost Katie Douglas and Jeanette Pohlen to injuries, won Game 1 of the WNBA Finals, and lost Game 2.

So the 18,165 fans who filled Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday night really couldn’t know exactly what they’d see from their Fever. And they never would have expected what they got: A flat-out shellacking of the defending WNBA champions.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though. Plenty of time left on the clock. Anyone wanna lay odds on who wins Sunday?

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sure interfere with your basketball watching and bloggin’.

Just sayin’.

That being said, I was glad I caught the second game between Minny and Indy. I mean, then I’d have missed Cheryl Reeve’s audition for Nike’s next “Doesn’t mean I can’t get all fired up” video. I’d rate her jacket fling a 8.932. Big, bad Bill woulda been proud. Said Mechelle:

Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve is from Philadelphia, and of course she’s an Eagles fan. Even more specifically, she admires their longtime coach.

“I’m a huge, huge Andy Reid person,” Reeve said before Game 2 of the WNBA Finals. “When I look at other coaches, I look at temperament, where they are in their career, how they got there, and their ability to handle players. That’s probably the thing I look at most.”

Reeve likes the straightforward, no-nonsense way that Reid deals with things … although she’s never one to give you the bland monotone like he does. She has a very analytical mind, but she knows how to use emotion in coaching, too.

And if that also means tossing a garment every now and again, so be it.

Coach Dunn seemed unimpressed: WNBA Finals heat up, Fever coach criticizes counterpart after fiery Lynx tie series at 1-1

Dunn said she thought Reeve should have been ejected because the wildest part of the tantrum came after the technical.

“I guess the thing that concerns me is that after she got her first technical, then she proceeded to take her jacket off, throw her jacket,” Dunn said. “In my opinion, that should have been reason for a second technical and removal, and they (the officials) did not do that, and of course, she was able to incite the crowd.

Probably right, if you’re being honest (as Lobo was).

Taj said the Lynx needed to return to strengths: running and rebounding and they did Postgame blog: Lynx pummel Indiana on boards. Larkins disappeared, and the Lynx used a record-setting rebounding to win Game Two.

Said Richard: Rebounding and jacket-tossing help fire Lynx to tie up Finals

After Indiana stole Game 1 of the WNBA Finals in Minnesota on Sunday, the Lynx had their backs against the wall last night. You can afford to drop one game at home, but if they went down 2-0 before heading back to Indiana for the next two games (if two were even necessary), Minnesota would’ve become huge outsiders to repeat as champions. They needed this one, but it was going to take a better performance than they produced three nights earlier to pull it off. The Fever would’ve settled for a split of the opening two games if you’d offered it to them before the series began, but once you take the first you get greedy. They’d beaten Minnesota on their own floor once already; why not twice?

The game benefited from some delays in other sports: Lynx-Indiana series getting attention

Wednesday’s game between the Lynx and Indiana on ESPN averaged 778,000 viewers and a 0.6 rating. Not much by NFL standards, but it was the most viewed game in the WNBA Finals on ESPN since the defunct Houston Comets played Los Angeles in 1999. (WHB note: We, of course, know it was the Lib Houston played in the 1999 Finals)

And, if coach Lin Dunn keep spewing, the ratings will be better for Game 3 tonight.

Now, it’s time for game three. The problem is the Indiana Fever are hobbling after rough Game 2 of WNBA Finals. From Michelle Smith: Physical Finals shift to Indiana.

The Star shows their support: Go, Fever! We believe in you

The Indiana Fever, who play the Minnesota Lynx tonight at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, stand only two victories away from their first WNBA championship.

But regardless of what takes place on the court for the remainder of the series, the Fever, for more than a decade, have been outstanding representatives of and partners with this community.

Swish Appeal has a WNBA Finals open thread: Lynx try to even score

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getting my SCUBA certification (yup, I’m officially a diver!), the WNBA was having an interesting weekend.

On the “not fun” interesting side: Shock players had staph infections. It’s a little deja vu-esque for Tulsa. Writes Mechelle:

There’s no getting around it: This is a tough subject for the Shock — and the WNBA — because the franchise has dealt with staph infections each of the three years it has been in Tulsa.

***

Still, the length of Pedersen’s absence with “flu” prompted some rather ridiculous rumors about what was actually wrong. Why didn’t the Shock just initially acknowledge publicly what it was?

Well, staph (short for staphylococcus aureus) infections are something that franchises and leagues really don’t want to talk about ever, let alone three years in a row. ESPN the Magazine’s Ric Bucher wrote, in an October 2010 story, about how staph was “the secret scourge of locker rooms everywhere.”

He detailed a staph outbreak that hit the Boston Celtics in 2006, along with several other harrowing experiences by athletes with infections. Including the NBA’s Grant Hill, who missed an entire season after contracting a staph infection during an ankle surgery.

On the “fun” interesting side, I swear I heard the “Beat LA!” chants while I was under water. I find a rally and a two-point win will do that to a NY/J crowd.

Tina rallied the Sun to beat a Sylvia-less Sky — who got a 21/15 game from Swin. But, PLAYOFFS? Swaggering Sky Puts Playoff Tickets on Sale

Katie D broke 5,000 but, more importantly, her 30pts helped Indy take down Phoenix, 89-83.

In the “what the heck is happening” interesting side, Sophia is still rockin’ the joint, but the SASS are still losing — this time by a whole heck of a lot to Minnesota (who didn’t miss a beat with Augustus sidelined.). Gotta love the eagle-eye headline editors: WNBA: Moore’s double-double leads Silver Stars.

In the “bored now” interesting side, the Dream stomped all over the Mystics. More nice things from Harding. The teams involved in the Drive for BG has begun to narrow: Draft Lottery Results Will Be Announced Before Playoffs Begin

Friday was pretty fun on the court, too. Says Nate:

This has already been mentioned elsewhere, but if you happened to miss Friday night’s overtime thriller between the Atlanta Dream and Minnesota Lynx you should go back in the WNBA LiveAccess archives and check it out. It was an instant classic unlike any other game this season if only because it was played at such a high level if nothing else.

It’s almost hard not to start the recap of the weekend’s 11 games without that game at the top, but we’ll still go in reverse chronological order just to attempt to bring some coherence to what happened…and keep the Lynx at the top (for summaries of what happened in Atlanta or New York, check out what James, Ray, and Queenie wrote elsewhere on the site).

That was a sigh of relief coming out of Seattle: Storm clinches WNBA-record ninth consecutive playoff berth. Jayda adds: Storm rookie Shekinna Stricklen is elevating her game. Sue says, Thanks, fans, for the starring role you play

Joan Niesen from FSN says Rivalries would enhance WNBA’s popularity

Cheryl Reeve has been the villain.

It’s hard to envision that here in Minneapolis, where Reeve has quietly altered the power structure of the WNBA, turning mediocrity into utter dominance. She’s still the underdog, in a sense, in her out-of-the-way city so far from the lights of New York and beaches of Los Angeles. Reeve and her Lynx are big time, but they still haven’t lost their small-town, overachiever feel.

But Reeve had a life before the Lynx, one that included a four-season stop with Bill Laimbeer and the Detroit Shock. And Laimbeer, he was the villain back then. Even Reeve admits it.

Anyone else find it weird that no Minny players are in the “running” for MVP? Maybe the fan vote will “Boost” one of them into the running.

In other news, they’re going to need a reeeeeeeally big table: The United States’ female Olympians have been honored by WNBA with its Inspiration Award. Heather Burns writes:

Tamika Catchings has won three gold medals as a member of the U.S. women’s basketball team, the latest last month in London. But it never gets old.

“When I first get my bag with all my gear, I do the same thing every time,” Catchings said. “I go up to my hotel room and I get out my jersey and my shorts and my socks, and I lay it all out on the bed. Take a picture, post it. Every time.

“When you have Team USA across your chest, you aren’t just playing for yourself or your families. You are playing for the whole United States of America.”

Speaking of the Olympics, the gold went to… Gliders get rolled for gold by German muscle

Still speaking of the Olympics: My First WNBA Game (Wouldn’t it have been cool if she could have attended wearing a USA Women’s Basketball jersey?)

Hey, speaking of honors, did you see that the NY Times wrote about the Red Heads? Photo in an Attic Leads to a Forgotten Team’s Place in the Hall of Fame

Every journey to the Basketball Hall of Fame follows its own path. This one starts with flaming red hair, a dull black-and-white photograph and one man’s ravenous curiosity about a team few others even knew.

Last Friday night in Springfield, Mass., about 65 women (many with fiery auburn hair) were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and the All American Red Heads officially emerged from basketball obscurity.

Thanks, John.

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but that doesn’t mean stuff isn’t happening across the age groups.

I’m already planning my July trip down to DC to watch the USA play on the 16th (are you?), and obviously I’m making plans for the Maggie Dixon Classic Dec. 9th (ya wanna help push our group to over 50? Email me at womenshoopsblog (at) gmail.com) ’cause Spoon’s back in town:  Weatherspoon returns to Garden as coach of Louisiana Tech at Maggie Dixon Classic in December

In the land of the Olympics:

Nate writes: 2012 Olympics Significant To Tamika Catchings Because It Could Be Her Last Opportunity

Catchings happy to be playing again as US women’s basketball training camp opens

“It’s not ideal since other teams have been practicing for a lot longer, but it’s what we have,” said Bird, who will also be playing in her third Olympics. “Every time you put the USA jersey on it’s an honor. I’m lucky I have had the opportunity to represent my country. Growing up there was no WNBA to look forward to, for me my dream was always playing in the Olympics.”

U.S. women’s basketball team in Seattle for Olympic tuneup

“I don’t think I have ever been as stressed out or as nervous, anxious, scared to death as I was whenever you are coaching in a medal situation for USA basketball because the expectation level is, ‘Of course we are going to win,'” Auriemma said. “That’s good and bad. … That’s great because we are the United States of America and we are supposed to win. It’s bad because sometimes people don’t appreciate how hard it is to win.”

Whirlwind Time For Lindsay Whalen, Maya Moore – WNBA Season Begins; Olympics On Horizon

From Jayda: Seattle a growing hotbed for women’s hoops

…to explain Seattle’s emergence as a center of women’s basketball, you have to go back, way back. Before the WNBA’s Storm and its passionate fans were born, before the Seattle Reign tipped its toe in the water of women’s pro hoops, before even the Washington Huskies women were outdrawing the men’s team at Edmundson Pavilion.

The story of how Seattle has become a hotbed for women’s hoops dates way back to pioneers like Cathy Benedetto and Joyce Walker, the women who showed the way. They made it possible for a couple of 13-year-olds emulating their hoops heroes in their hometown to believe it had always been that way.

The Cardinals have a new coach: Ball State University women’s coach Brady Sallee has lofty vision for program

“I remember watching the television when (Ball State) beat that team down south that wears orange (Tennessee),” said Sallee, invoking the style of Brady Hoke by refusing to acknowledge an arch-rival by name. “I’m excited to bring those opportunities and moments back to Ball State University.”

The Seawolves need a new coach: UAA women’s basketball coach says it was time to move on

Tim Moser, one of the most successful coaches in the history of UAA athletics, is leaving his job as the school’s women’s basketball coach, saying it’s time for something new.

Moser molded the Seawolves into a national powerhouse in his six seasons in Anchorage. He finished the most recent season with a 30-5 record and was one victory shy of making a third NCAA Division II Final Four appearance.

High Point needs a new coach: Wake Forest hires Jennifer Hoover as new women’s basketball coach

Jennifer Hoover, Wake Forest’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder, was hired as the Demon Deacons’ new women’s basketball coach on Wednesday.

Hoover, a long-time assistant who went 20-13 at High Point in her first try as a head coach this past season, was a three-time All-ACC honoree during her playing career at Wake Forest.

The Hoyas have a new coach: Georgetown introduces Keith Brown as women’s basketball coach

The Norse have a coach: NKU names new women’s coach
Former Michigan associate head coach Dawn Plitzuweit has been chosen to lead Northern Kentucky University’s women’s basketball program into Division I.

Toledo will have extra space next season: UT gets NCAA waiver – Women’s basketball team allowed to exceed scholarship numbers

Mikaala Shackelford has a new team: UWGB women’s basketball: Prized Minnesota recruit to leave after all

WNBA champion Lynx welcome back motherly leader (The next article in the hopper: As the NBA season opens, the 28-38 Trailblazers welcome back fatherly leader)

Taj McWilliams-Franklin led this bonding process like only a mother could. The 41-year-old, 6-foot-2 center with three daughters of her own has returned for another year with the Lynx. Her teammates couldn’t be happier to have the lanky lady they call “Mama Taj” back in the fold

Depth, Luck Major Part Of Repeat Hopes

Depth, camaraderie and health are the three main ingredients to a title defense. Look no further than the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks’ bench play during last year’s 2011 NBA Finals and its inability to replace JJ Barea and Tyson Chandler during this year’s first round playoff exit.

The Minnesota Lynx understand how important all three are to their goals this year, and they met two of those three objectives during the offseason by holding on to nine of their 11 team members from a year ago. And with coach Cheryl Reeve rolling out essentially three capable units during training camp, Minnesota has the depth to make another title run.

pilight has Three things the WNBA could do better

Now, most articles like this focus on things that cost money. Wouldn’t it be great to pay salaries competitive with those in Europe, have the players flown on chartered jets, and have massive advertising blitzes during the NCAA tournament, and so on. The WNBA doesn’t have tons of money, so today we’re going to focus on things they can do that cost nothing.

Speaking of “doing better”: What Can We Expect Kelley Cain To Contribute To The New York Liberty?

The New York Liberty announced via Twitter yesterday that first round draft pick Kelley Cain has arrived in training camp, which is perhaps the first step in calming the fears among some fans that they completely wasted a draft pick.

Surely we’ll learn more about what she offers the team as she spends more time in camp, but what might her numbers tell us about what she offers?

Well, not that much.

From a team who ought to do “real better”: Penicheiro has the right kind of mileage for Sky

Mix of veterans, youth encourages Silver Stars’ Hammon

If only basketball was played four-on-four: The Recker Crew – Mom knew best that hoops-playing quadruplets were destined for on-court success

Deidre Recker has been to every Ohio girls’ basketball state tournament since 1978. She’s proud of that fact, and mentions it often. She started bringing her children to those state tournament games when they were barely old enough to follow the action.

This is where you want to be, she’d tell them, and point to the court. This is where you’ve got to be.

Deidre stops, and she corrects herself. She hasn’t been to every state tournament since 1978. Once, in 1993, she had to watch the games on television instead.

Deidre was eight months pregnant that year. With quadruplets.

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The players:

WNBA Draft: Remembering the Day My Life Changed (Tina Thompson)

Miami Hurricanes women ready for WNBA Draft — The Hurricanes’ Shenise Johnson and Riquna Williams are expected to go early in the WNBA Draft, which will be held Monday.

Wojta could be first Green Bay player drafted by WNBA and UWGB’s Wojta attending WNBA draft

Nneka Ogwumike prepares for WNBA draft

2012 WNBA Pre-Draft Conference Call: Draft Prospects (Hayes, Ogwumike, Peters, Prahalis)

The coaches:

2012 WNBA Pre-Draft Conference Call: WNBA Coaches (Reeve, Agler, Kloppenburg)

The talking heads:

2012 WNBA Pre-Draft Conference Call: ESPN Analysts (Lobo, Peck)

2012 WNBA Mock Draft: Nnemkadi Ogwumike and Early Picks Sure to Become Stars

This Year’s WNBA Draft Lacking In High-Impact Players

After Nneka, draft full of questions

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Where do they sit?

From Michael Rand at the Star Tribune: Lynx rank among best in state history

The bouquets and platitudes for the WNBA champion Lynx have been numerous and well-earned. Now, though, it’s time to raise things up another level and ask this question:

Are the 2011 Lynx the most dominant team in Minnesota sports history? It’s one of those questions that has no perfect answer. Comparing different sports, leagues and eras is nearly impossible because of all the variables at play. Yet we try.

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Lynx complete their dream season

Game 3 turned out to be yet another illustration that this Minnesota Lynx team can win any kind of basketball game you happen to drag them into. Both teams looked a little tired, McWilliams-Franklin played 33 minutes on one-and-a-half legs, and McCoughtry finished 9-25 for 22 points. Forcing Minnesota into 20 turnovers on the night should’ve given the Dream a chance to win, but in the end they didn’t have the weapons, and McCoughtry didn’t get enough help. Her repeated insistence on trying to take over on her own doesn’t always help, but the rest of the team went 18-53 as a group, and that wasn’t going to cut it. Harding’s 1-5 for four points was frankly pathetic, and somewhat shocking after her willingness to attack Whalen in the opening two games; de Souza did her job on the glass but she and Lyttle were a combined 7-23 from the floor, which was nowhere near good enough even against Minnesota’s strong interior defense; Price had probably her best game of the series, but when that’s 3-7 for six points, it says more about her prior performances than this one; and Castro Marques was 4-12 for nine points, on one of those nights where her streakiness never really came back around in Atlanta’s favour. They tried everything they could to beat this Lynx team, and came up short in various different types of game.

 

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