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it’s nice that the AP did, too: Women call the shots at WNBA finals

For the first time in WNBA finals history, both teams have women calling the shots as head coaches.Cheryl Reeve led the Minnesota Lynx to a league-best 27-7 record in the regular season, and Marynell Meadors has guided the Atlanta Dream to two straight finals appearances.

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Lynx, Dream Ready to Face Off in WNBA Finals

Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve noticed at the All-Star break that teams in the league were taking a difference view of her Lynx.

Until then, most looked at Minnesota’s tremendous start with skepticism. These were the Lynx, after all. The same franchise that hadn’t made it to the postseason in six years and had never won a playoff series.

“There was so much talk that we had the best winning percentage,” Reeve said. “They became believers. There wasn’t the idea that there was going to be some kind of collapse as there had been before.”

From Roman at the Star Tribune: For Brazilians, pride is divided

Iziane (Izi) Castro Marques chose to play for her WNBA team this week instead of Brazil’s national team.

And, because the nine-year veteran stayed with Atlanta, the Dream will face the Lynx on Sunday at Target Center in the first game of the WNBA Finals. It’s a best-of-five series.

Atlanta, without Castro Marques, might have lost to Indiana in the Eastern Conference finals. The Fever won the first game of the series, and the Dream, out of necessity, made adjustments for the second because Erika de Souza did leave.

 

 

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but not quite.

Phoenix took down the Shock (Fun to see the feistiness ‘tween TJ and DT) sealing the #3 spot (at least), but they’re aiming for the #2 slot. Makes the Storm-Merc game very interesting.

“It’s a good feeling to have,” guard Diana Taurasi said. “I’ve been in the playoff hunt where you have to rely on other teams to win or lose. When you do that, you feel helpless. But we’re in a position where we decide our fate, which is real nice.”

Speaking of Seattle, Forbes has the following: The Female Entrepreneurs Who Are The Seattle Storm’s Driving Force

Recently, I had the unique opportunity to travel to Seattle and have my own up close and personal view of the Seattle Storm organization.

When I first met Trudeau, former Microsoft executive and current nonprofit executive, Gilder, former Olympian and current investment CEO, and Brummel, former collegiate athlete and current Microsoft executive, my first impression was that these owners are true sports fans in every sense. They didn’t soak up the limelight, and they were extremely humble and approachable. And if you didn’t know that they are owners, you would think that they are just one of the loyal fans.

On Fan Appreciation night, the Lynx balanced rest with respect and got a win over Chicago. Whalen continued her case for MVP: 20/10 and no TOs.

“I get caught between teammate and fan all the time when I am out there on the court with [Lindsay],” Lynx forward Maya Moore said. “She is a hockey player playing basketball. She bounces right off of people and has the strength to finish.”

Asked her impression of Whalen’s performance, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve began with a three-letter description: “MVP.”

(Michelle Smith would beg to differ: Tamika Catchings is this writer’s MVP)It’s been a feel good kind of season for the Lynx (*quickly knocks wood*). Writes Tim Leighton at the Pioneer Press: Lynx have been a hit on the court and at the gate this season

How could she know? Her first “season” in the league was limited to one game. Three days after signing in August 2010, Adair played in the Lynx’s season finale against Indiana and had five points and eight rebounds.

Now, a year later, everything has changed for the Lynx and Adair. The Lynx are preparing for the playoffs for the first time in seven years, and Adair is one of their key bench players.

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keep d’em Lynx-zies rollin’! (I must admit, I have a soft spot for Minnesota ’cause the originators of this blog came from the fine city of Minneapolis…)

Make it seven in a row for the Lynx as they took down Phoenix 90-73. But there will be no laurel-resting here ’cause the SASS are up next.

“It’s just on to the next one, one at a time,” said Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve, after her team improved to 14-4. “It can turn in an instant, for whatever reason, and we don’t want to be that team that lets our guard down.”

Speaking of guards, Tim Leighton of the Pioneer Press points to a particular one: Lindsey (sic) Whalen has another Minnesota team reaching new heights:

“It is not a coincidence that Lindsay Whalen was a part of the Gophers in ’04 and what is happening with us,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said.

Whalen, who had averaged 15.8 points and seven assists in the team’s nine previous games, had 11 points and five assists to help spark the Lynx, who used an early run in the second half and another in the fourth quarter to hold off the Mercury (11-8).

Whalen, 29, appears to have been reborn in the second year of running Reeve’s system, and her play is stirring memories of past heroics. Her slashing drives down the lane have been powerful, and her perimeter shooting has been textbook pure.

Nate has more on What Makes Lindsay Whalen The Best So Far in 2011

I know some are pointing to Reeve as Coach of the Year and, rightly so, muttering about Augustus as POY (Um, get Land O’ Lakes as your sponsor, ’cause she’s smooth like buttah), but can Bird and Agler of the Jackson-less Storm get some props? (Speaking of LJ, fun to hear her last night and even nicer was the optimism about her rehab.)

Consider the AP’s opening lines as Seattle dismissed the Adams-less SASS.

Sue Bird’s 3-pointer right before the third-quarter buzzer provided a lift at just the right time for the Seattle Storm.

Bird hit a 22-footer to put Seattle up by eight just a minute after the San Antonio Silver Stars had cut a 13-point deficit to one in the quarter.

The Storm then went on a 10-2 run to start the fourth quarter en route to a 78-64 victory over the Silver Stars on Tuesday night. Bird finished with 17 points and Swin Cash added 16.

“Yeah, that one really hurt us,” Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes said about Bird’s 3-pointer.

You know, if Mini Mi continues to reclaim her outside shooting touch, the Lib could get interesting. Mitchell notched four 3s (all in the 4th quarter) and Plenette (who would look so slammin’ in a 1940’s get up, dontcha think?) added 20 and New York took down the Dream by 10.

It’s looking more and more like the fourth spot in the East will come down to a battle of the light blue uniforms.

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but you’ve got to wonder if (and that’s a qualified “if the tall Aussie doesn’t return) we didn’t see the WNBA finalists in action last night.

True, Indy needed a last second basket (from Bobbitt!) to squeak out a win over Washington — but they did get the win.

Not a lot of drama in Minnesota after the first quarter — the Lynx simply ran over the Storm.Yah, the Lynx are having fun being number one but, writes Tim Leighton at the Pioneer Press,

The Lynx, however, are leaving elevated excitement levels to their fans.

“The bottom line is that we haven’t done anything yet,” head coach Cheryl Reeve said. “We have a lot of work left to do, and we haven’t seen San Antonio yet. I don’t know if I am ready to say we are the team to beat, but we have put ourselves in a position to gain a lot of respect.”

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Chicago loses its fifth straight away from home, and the Dream are glad of it, coming away with a 76-68 win.

“We needed this,” McCoughtry said. “We have got to keep our confidence up and continue to play hard. If we keep the confidence, I know we can continue to do this. From this point, we just need to work on our chemistry and play together.”

Minnesota continues to build confidence, this time taking down (yah, I know, they were LJ and Camille-free) Seattle, 69-62.  The Lynx are now 2nd in the West.

“Some losses loom large for a team,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said of Wednesday’s 112-105 loss to the Mercury. “For us, that’s not who we want to be. Sometimes that has to happen to make that recognition, and I thought we had a great deal of emphasis on our defense. Two games of pretty good D, so we got back to who we are.”

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The fastest W player to 5000 points celebrated that accomplishment with a win. Behind Candice Dupree’s sweet game, the Merc stayed red-hot, taking down the (yes, I’m going to say it) Myserable Mystics.

Speaking of Myserable, did you check out Mechelle’s chat? Gotta love opinionated journalists:

Judith (Wash DC): Is the Mystics’ front office tone deaf? Following up the off-season debacle, and with the team now at 2-9, they’ve just invited fans to PAY MONEY to attend a pre-game panel with Sheila Johnson, Ted Leonsis, and Laurel Richie. Forty dollars for season ticketholders, 60 bucks in advance for those who aren’t, $70 at the door. The price includes a game ticket and “food & beverage (cash bar).” CASH BAR for those prices? Really? I will gladly pay $70 for your ticket, Mechelle, if you’ll go and ask questions.Seriously though, now the fans have to pay for a little pre-game chat with the owners?

Mechelle Voepel: When I first saw this, I thought, “Every time we think the Mystics have outdone themselves in PR gaffes, they come up with something new to surprise us.” I wouldn’t pay a nickel for this “opportunity,” and neither should anybody else. It’s insulting.

After the Battle of the Replacements, it’s too early to call the coaching change “brilliant.” ‘Cause it depends on how you spin the story. If you’re an LA fan, there’s cause for concern (the Sparks were playing the Shock. And they were 18 down.) But there’s cause for optimism: they did come back for a 79-74 win.

The Lynx notched an impressive win, stopping the Fever’s seven-game win streak IN Indiana.

“The biggest thing for us was that we finally locked down and defended in the second half,” said Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve. “We were disappointed with how well we let the Fever move the basketball, we thought they really had their wheels rolling.”

In New Jersey, an uninspired fourth quarter by the Liberty gave the Sun their second (Only two? Ouch!) road win.

“A lot of the games we don’t give ourselves a chance to finish the game,” Montgomery said. “We’re down so much that we exhaust so much energy trying to come back, that when we come even close to coming back we kind of run out of gas. It was close the whole game and we gave ourselves a chance to win it and we did.”

The victory was coach Thibault’s 167th , tying him with Anne Donovan and Michael Cooper for second place in WNBA history.

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Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve, a former La Salle star in Philadelphia who grew up in South Jersey, does not believe that Orender’s departure should be considered a bad omen.

WNBA: Donna Orender Resigns As League President

“I think she has a vision on what she wants to do next,” Reeve said. “I don’t think I would characterize her decision as jumping ship or that it is a bad omen for the future of the league.

“Six years is a long time,” Reeve said. “What did Val (Ackerman) serve – eight years? They both have families with children who are reaching formative years growing up. It will be interesting to see what way the league goes in finding a successor.”

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Are you going to Disney World???

Well, Mechelle is wondering if getting the #1 pick can help Lynx return to playoffs?

The very good news Minnesota got Tuesday, when representatives from all the WNBA teams met in New York, isn’t going to change whom the Lynx think comprises that core group.

In fact, when talking about it, Reeve sort of contradicted her opening default position of “all options open for the No. 1 pick.”

“We will make a couple of transactions; there won’t be a lot of them,” she said. “The other thing we said as a team was we were not going to be relying on the draft to improve our team. We felt the core group that we had was going to be responsible for taking this franchise forward.”

Which is fine to say … until you actually win the No. 1 pick. Then, if a talent such as Moore is available — which hasn’t been the case in every draft, actually — then you can start turning cartwheels.

Speaking of Moore, Vickie Fulkerson at The Day writes: Believe it: Maya’s better than ever

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