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of regular season. *sad face* But playoffs! *happy face*

Star Tribune: Sunday Q&A with Lynx guard Anna Cruz

AZ Central: Mercury’s Kelsey Bone to take anthem protests into WNBA playoffs

Dallas: Wings’ first Dallas season did not go as planned but talent on roster gives reason for hope

The WNBA’s first season in Dallas-Fort Worth was full of uncertainty. How would the newly-minted Dallas Wings fit into the saturated North Texas sports market? How would former All-Stars Skylar Diggins and Glory Johnson return after missing most if not all of 2015?

Now as the Wings approach their season finale in Indiana on Sunday, the answers are clearer. Dallas, currently 11-22, will miss the postseason. The team drew an average crowd of 5,298 fans, none larger than the 7,275 that came for the home opener at the College Park Center at UT-Arlington.

Washington: Emma Meesseman is on track to be the WNBA’s best three point shooter

Washington Post: A postseason berth out of reach, Mystics wrap up disappointing season Sunday

The Washington Mystics began this season seeking to advance deeper into the playoffs following three straight first-round losses. With one game left, Coach Mike Thibault and his players instead are left to deconstruct what went wrong in failing to qualify for the postseason.

Connecticut: Still ‘A Culture To Develop’ In Sun, Coach Says

Not long after the Connecticut Sun play their last game of the season Sunday in Washington, Curt Miller’s life will change again.

It’s already been quite the two years for Miller, the coach of Sun. He has moved from his resignation as coach of Indiana’s women’s basketball program in 2014, to an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Sparks in 2015, to the coach of the Sun and, finally, adding the title of Sun general manager this season.

“I have been incredibly fortunate,” Miller said. “It’s been a whirlwind.”

More on Catch: Tamika Catchings: A reluctant superstar

Sometimes superstars need to be reminded they’re superstars. Doesn’t happen often. Actually, almost never.

But when you start out a gangly, shy, insecure girl with a wobbly self-image — not ever really fitting in — it’s hard to see a superstar in the mirror.

When you wear clunky hearing aids that kids relentlessly tease you about.

When you stop wearing those hearing aids to avoid the embarrassment and people think you’re ignoring them, that you’re rude or you’re dumb.

Knoxville News Sentinel: Tamika Catchings ready to leave a lasting imprint

.com: On The Eve Of Her Regular Season Finale, Catchings Feeling Different Kind Of Nerves

Sweet. From Slam: Captain America – Teresa Edwards laid the foundation for the US Women’s Basketball dynasty.

As the men’s national team’s leading Olympic scorer, Carmelo Anthony has reached a legendary status in international basketball. He has three Golds, more than any other man to wear the red, white and blue. But not the most for an American.

Teresa Edwards has four Olympic Golds.

Edwards, a 5-11 point guard from Cairo, GA, played before the WNBA was even an idea. There’s not much footage of Edwards out there, but luckily, Katie Smith was around to see Edwards play.

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the MSG employee (and her fabulous family) who offered me a seat with her “group” so that I could be near the two South Korean students who I escorted to their first Liberty game. She’s a two-time cancer survivor, with three young children who are GREAT company. So. Much. Fun. And so much generosity of spirit. A classic WNBA experience.

Of course, it helped that the Liberty won. Not to be a party pooper, but when it takes the ferocious effort of the soon-to-be-retiring Swin to inspire your team to to a close win over a struggling team... I’m not impressed.

On the flip side, a shout out to the “Not in MY house” Dream who stopped the Sparks.  With authority. Admit it – you lost money on that bet.

“We just wanted it,” McCoughtry said. “I told the team this was the game that could be the turnaround for our season. If we can beat them, we can beat anybody in this league. I hope the girls take this win and build their confidence so we can contend in this league and do some damage.”

Sucky Sancho news, though.

In case you haven’t notices, Elena is DAMN good. Delle Donne Brings Versatility To Life In MVP-Caliber Performance

As the Sky make their push for the playoffs over the last dozen games, they’ll need EDD at her MVP-best. Which is right where she was on Sunday in Seattle. 

Delle Donne poured in 35 points on a neat 14-for-24 shooting, grabbed 11 rebounds, and drained the game-winning three right over Breanna Stewart’s outstretched arm with just one second remaining.

For the geeks amongst us: Free Basketball: Analyzing The Historic Number Of WNBA Overtime Games

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HOT

Even in first gear, 1. Minnesota and 2. Los Angeles look inevitable. Shifting the WNBA Playoff format may have been one of the best decisions the league has made in the last 10 years.

Can the Lynx be the Warriors of the WNBA this season? Should they try?

Film Room: Assists Sparking LA’s Unbeaten Run

3. Yesterday’s game against Washington notwithstanding, Atlanta seems to have finally all its talent together. Can Angel continue to “trust” and can her teammates continue to show up…

Dream’s improved chemistry key to fast start

Sitting in the parking lot of Austell’s Riverside EPICenter, where his team practices, Dream coach Michael Cooper said there are two reasons why the WNBA squad is 5-1 and atop the Eastern Conference after finishing fifth and missing the playoffs last year.

The first is an upgrade at center and at point guard.

The second reason given by Cooper was chemistry. Leading scorer Angel McCoughtry referred to it as positivity after Sunday’s win over Chicago.

Atlanta Dreaming: Meet the Upstart Leaders of the Eastern Conference

HOT and COLD

4. New York: Interesting comment from last night’s Seattle/NY broadcast – when leading by 7 last year, the Lib did. not. lose. That’s been an issue this year – the Storm’s comeback attempt is a case in point. Charles is on fire, and Sugar is smokin’, but the rest of the team is a question mark – do the show up (hello, Indiana game) or not? Much of the Lib’s future will depend on Prince’s ability to return (post Olympics?) to create a more consistent inside/outside balance.

5. Indiana: The team that defeated Atlanta on opening day was not the team that showed up at the Garden on Friday. Dunno how much Maggie Lucas’s injury will impact the team as a whole (or knowing they’ll be working for a new coach next year), but, the good news is…

Rookie Report: Tiffany Mitchell Shining For The Indiana Fever and Fever’s January still working back from knee injury

6. Chicago: Now that Sloot is back, perhaps we’ll see their real potential

The Sky’s not the limit: DePaul alum Allie Quigley an integral part of the Chicago Sky

Fastbreak: WNBA Weekly Rundown: Streaking Sky and struggling Sun

After a rough start to their season, the Chicago Sky are getting back on track. Last season, they compensated for a lackluster defense by outrunning and outgunning the competition, playing plenty of three-guard lineups with Elena Delle Donne at the 4.

This year, things are a little different. With their center position log-jammed, coach Pokey Chatman has had to figure out minutes distributions for her post players, which has led to larger lineups and a lack of continuity at the 5.

Despite this, the Sky have retained their success on offense, and after starting 1-4, they’ve won their last three games to vault them back into playoff contention. 

And: Wrigley’s World: Sky star Elena Delle Donne’s four-legged fan

7. Dallas: Young and Gun. This early in their Texas career it’s important to win on their home court. Or, if they’re going to lose, lose with high scoring enthusiasm. Eventually, though, the word “defense” will have to enter their play.. ditto health.

8. Seattle: Not sure what to make of them, but the Stewie/Loyd pairing is sure sweet (sometimes). How quickly can Boucek mold old and new?

Alysha Clark enjoying fast start to WNBA season

Q and A: Breanna Stewart On Transition to Storm And Going Back To Connecticut

On Friday, Breanna Stewart returns to Connecticut for the first time since leaving UConn just a few months ago. Ahead of the Storm’s meeting with the Sun (7 PM ET, WNBA League Pass), Breanna Stewart talked to reporters about adjusting to the WNBA, her partnership with Jewell Loyd, and what it will be like to return to Connecticut.

9. Washington: Bill’s early advice was to “get healthy.” They’re getting there (as their win over Atlanta showed). Will it hold?

HOT MESS

10. San Antonio: I love Dan Hughes, but what on earth has he wrought? GM Ruth will have some reorganizing to do. Are Peters and Jefferson strong enough building blocks?

11. Phoenix – They look at sixes and sevens, with not-good rumors floating… NOT what the fans (or the GMs) expected, no?

.com: Petrovich Molds All-World Talent into Reserve Role for Mercury

Scottsdale Health; Diana Taurasi: Back, and Better Than Ever

12. Connecticut: Would love to talk to coach about his learning curve.

The message on Friday from Connecticut Sun coach Curt Miller was pretty simple.

If his players don’t want to put out the effort that he wants in the game plan that he has devised, than they just aren’t going to play for him.

“Everyone in this league wants to play and you have to reward people when they are playing hard and when they are playing efficiently,” Miller said following the loss to Atlanta on Friday at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

To the fans, please be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

In other news:

SlamOnline: Go Ahead and Respect It How going to a WNBA game changed one man’s outlook on the women’s game.

I’ll be honest with you: I wasn’t a fan of the WNBA growing up.

I didn’t pay much attention to their games, even though I knew a few of their stars (Lisa Lesile, Sue Bird and Becky Hammon). Heck, I didn’t even watch those dominant, title-winning women teams at UConn. All because I thought watching women’s basketball, wasn’t a “cool” thing to do.

Who, as a male sports fan, watches that stuff? (Insert sarcasm and misogyny.)

Unfortunately, our counterparts receive a bad reputation for their game. You’ll hear offensive comments regarding their skills, looks and even sexuality. Despite having backing from the NBA and an aggressive public relations plan, the WNBA can often struggle to catch America’s attention.

But something changed for me last Tuesday, as I covered the New York Liberty vs Atlanta Dream game at Madison Square Garden.

LaChina: ‘Around the Rim’ podcast: All about chemistry

On this week’s “Around The Rim,” women’s basketball analyst LaChina Robinson and this week’s special guest host former WNBA All-Star Chasity Melvin delve into the discussion of team chemistry.

The two highlight how the Mercury are finally showing signs of gelling together, how the Lynx haven’t missed a beat this season, which rookies are shining in the first weeks and give their take on the first-ever WNBA AP rankings. Plus, they share their picks for the NBA Finals.

Think the WNBA is in Trouble? Let’s Talk Some NBA History

Magazine cover gives WNBA some overdue respect

Early on, no player more important to WNBA than Cynthia Cooper-Dyke

For those interested in expansion: Women’s hoops league to put team in Nashville

NCAA

Excelle Sports feature on ESPN’s Holly Rowe details workload covering women’s basketball

As Breanna Stewart walks to center court for the tip-off at the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Women’s basketball tournament in Bridgeport, Connecticut, a murmured buzz runs through the crowd that’s seated courtside. But it’s not for Stewart, the most recognizable name in the women’s college game, or even for UConn, the mecca of women’s college basketball.

“It’s Holly Rowe,” someone says over my shoulder, pointing toward the court. Sure enough, Rowe glides past in a navy blue dress and heels, smiling to the fans who shout her name and stopping to shake hands or hug those who extend a greeting.

Throughout the game, Rowe, a longtime ESPN sideline reporter, hustles from one bench to the next and works her way up and down the sideline, stopping only briefly to review notes or chat with the occasional fellow member of press row before dashing off to cover the next on-air moment.

Flashback to the Old Big East days: Bulger sisters sparked WVU women’s hoops success

Re: Duke Transfer: UConn Fans Are Going To Like Azura Stevens, Says ESPN’s Debbie Antonelli

As Azura Stevens was emerging as a college prospect at Cary High in North Carolina, analyst Debbie Antonelli took special interest.

Stevens, after all, was playing for Antonelli’s alma mater. Before playing for Kay Yow at North Carolina State, Antonelli — then Debbie Mulligan — played basketball at Cary High.

So Antonelli has a history with Stevens, who recently transferred from Duke to UConn. And as an analyst for many ACC games, Antonelli has watched Stevens develop during her first two years of college.

Her scouting report for UConn fans?

Speaking of transfers: McDonald’s All American Lindsey Corsaro commits to UCLA after getting release from Kentucky

Kentucky transfer Jennings joins USC women’s basketball team

Scott Rueck’s ‘vision of what elite is is even more clear’ after Final Four run

In this wide-ranging conversation with The Oregonian/OregonLive, Rueck reflects on the memorable season and looks ahead to what’s next for the Beavers. 

It’s officially June. Have you finally had a chance to really step back and reflect on everything that happened this past season?

From time to time, because it comes up so much with people. There’s obviously been a lot of conversation about it. I don’t know if you step back and look at the whole picture, really. I don’t know when that will happen, necessarily. But just the specific moments that come up have been fun to go back and look at. I’ve watched our highlight video a few times. That was really well-done and that brings back vivid memories. There’s a lot of reliving the Baylor game with all of us. That’s the one that tends to come up the most. It was an amazing thing to be a part of.

Women’s Basketball: Ohio set to dominate the MAC again

Dumping high expectations on a team certainly doesn’t make playing any less stressful.

That was the reality Ohio struggled with all last season, a year removed from an NCAA Tournament appearance, with a returning roster that could produce the best result in program history.

Yes, there was pressure. At times, that led to visible stress.

Embrace the Challenge: Courtney Banghart and the Tasks Ahead for Women’s Basketball

On the right wall in Courtney Banghart’s office is a framed article: Fortune Magazine’s 50 Greatest Leaders from 2015. There, her name and accomplishments are listed alongside people such as Apple CEO Tim Cook, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. Banghart’s lead of the Princeton women’s basketball team to a 30-0 regular season, and the first NCAA win in the program’s history, earned her a continuous spotlight all season long.

As a leader in the national spotlight, her abilities to guide her team are tested night in and night out. But this upcoming season could be one of the most unpredictable for her in many seasons. She is forced to handle not just a drastically changing roster but also a league continuously growing and evolving.

Hello! UCF WBB adds 8-time WNBA All-Star Nykesha Sales to coaching staff

Bye: OSU women’s basketball: Close leaves program

Bye: Three women’s basketball coaches depart Marist

Stay put: Purdue’s Versyp Granted 6-Year Contract Extension

Bye: Purdue’s Komara to join White’s staff at Vanderbilt

Shoo: Alabama women’s basketball program moving games out of Foster Auditorium

After four years playing in a refurbished Foster Auditorium, Alabama women’s basketball is moving back a few blocks to Coleman Coliseum.

The school announced the move Tuesday morning as coach Kristi Curry expressed her desire to create an electric game-day atmosphere. Foster Auditorium holds 3,800 while Coleman Coliseum seats more than 15,000.

Kings’ coach recalls friendship with Muhammad Ali

The second person Nancy Lieberman called after she got the assistant coaching job with the Sacramento Kings was Muhammad Ali.

She shared her first memory of seeing ‘The Greatest’ at the age of 10.

“Late 60’s early 70’s, you know, people were telling me, you know, I’m stupid, I’m dumb, I’m never going to make anything of myself, girls don’t play sports and I saw this man on T.V. you know, defying the odds and saying he was the greatest of all time,” said Lieberman.

It wasn’t until she was 19 or 20 years old when she met him.

INTERNATIONAL:

Opals in women’s basketball loss to Spain

The Australian women’s basketball team have received a taste of what to expect at the Rio Olympics in a 58-55 loss to Spain before Spanish fans.

After smashing Argentina by 42 points in the first game of their European tour a day earlier, the world No.2 Opals had a much tougher task against world No.3 Spain in San Fernando on Tuesday morning (AEST).

Team Canada’s Tatham promoting women’s basketball to next generation

US Coach Promotes Wheelchair Basketball in Gaza

A top U.S. coach is in the Gaza Strip to help set up the territory’s first female wheelchair basketball team.

“I think for Gaza this is a very unique thing,” said the trainer, Jess Markt. “I think there are not so many opportunities for women to play sports here, and particularly for disabled women.”

Markt, 40, was a track athlete until 21 years ago when he suffered a severed spinal cord in a car accident. Three years later, he began playing basketball and in recent years he has coached wheelchair teams in Afghanistan, India and Cambodia.

POLITICS

Women’s Sports Foundation Report:
Coaches of Women’s College Sports Face Widespread Gender Bias; Many Fear Speaking Out

80% of female coaches believe it is easier for male coaches to secure high-level jobs  

Today the Women’s Sports Foundation released, “Beyond X’s & O’s: Gender Bias and Coaches of Women’s College sports,” the first study to measure the issue of gender bias in coaching of women’s college sports on a systemic basis.

The findings confirm that there is a systemic gender bias directed at female coaches of women’s sports; it is not sporadic or limited to a few institutions. As a result, women face limitations in pay and professional advancement in the coaching workplace. And it’s a trend showing no signs of improvement. 

(Yes, this is politics) Naomi Jackson at espnW: On loving broken women and Brittney Griner

Everything in my life has prepared me to love damaged women, women who drag their broken wings behind them “like a decoy,” as poet R. Erica Doyle writes in her collection, “Proxy.”

“You hold back enough to keep them curious. Women like that. Wounded enough to be salvageable. Women like that, too. Fixing broken things. Take in the broken wing you drag like a decoy.”

It begins, as everything does, with my mother. Schizophrenic and eventually unable to care for her children, my mother vacillated wildly between affection, praise, bouts of intense creativity and joy and seemingly infinite rounds of melancholy, listlessness and abuse. Living with a mother whose mental illness made her behavior erratic and her presence unreliable made me an expert at reading other women, at shaping my needs, desires, and self to fit their moods.

As I move into grown womanhood, I’m shedding this tendency toward accommodation and emotional acrobatics that put other people’s (lovers, friends, colleagues) needs before my own. I get it wrong sometimes, as humans do, but we make the road by walking.

Jane McManus: It’s time to lift the ‘veil of ignorance’ when it comes to campus assault

Baylor’s former president and chancellor Ken Starr sat with ESPN’s Joe Schad for a televised interview after a Pepper Hamilton report alleged systematic disenfranchisement of students who reported being sexually assaulted by other students, including some players on the football team.

Starr called for transparency and simultaneously hid behind his “veil of ignorance,” a garment that can be found next to the cloaks of deniability in Aisle 5. It’s a gutsy move, calling for others to be forthright when you can’t lead by example.

Starr was evasive throughout the interview, even on a question about how Baylor handled the assault claims.

SO….. what do you think the folks who gave the video below a thumbs down were thinking?

Maybe they like this Onion report: College Basketball Star Heroically Overcomes Tragic Rape He Committed

 

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It’s almost as hot as L.A. and Minnesota are… yup, counting down to June 21st.

Meanwhile, folks in Chicago and Phoenix are scratching their heads.

Excelle: What’s wrong with the Phoenix Mercury?

Prior to the season, the Phoenix Mercury were favorites to take home the 2016 WNBA Championship. The majority of the league’s general managers picked Phoenix to win it all in their annual survey. Multiple Associated Press voters and some betting sites also favored the Mercury. But not two weeks later, the team is 0-4 and playing the worst defense in the WNBA. So, what happened?

It’s important to note that we’re just four games into the season, so hitting the panic button would be premature. Two of Phoenix’s losses were at the hands of the Minnesota Lynx, the defending champions. The other two were tight games against solid teams. Things could turn around quickly, but not without addressing some red flags.

Meanwhile…

SlamOnline: Q+A: Imani Boyette – With patience and hard work, Chicago’s rookie center is staying ready for when her number is called.

One record-setter salutes another – Pro from Don Lugo congratulates athlete who took her place in book

“My dad sent me this article and the photo and it said you broke my record,” Ms. Taurasi told Ana during their meeting on the court. “That’s good, records are meant to be broken.”

Their meeting was video taped, and was part of a 90-second video shown to the 10,000-plus fans in attendance that night during a time out.

Star Tribune: Lynx aim to stay undefeated vs. familiar foe

Moving on up: Unbeaten Sparks 2nd in AP WNBA power poll and WNBA: The Los Angeles Sparks Will Fly

Jeff Jacobs: Chiney And Nneka Ogwumike Foes On Court, Sisters Off

They went to dinner together Wednesday night. And when this game had ended, Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike walked off the court together, arms wrapped around each other’s shoulder.

After the 77-72 loss to the unbeaten Los Angeles Sparks, a heartened rookie Sun coach Curt Miller would say he felt his team had “grown up” Thursday night at Mohegan Sun Arena. The coming schedule, of course, will prove Miller correct or not.

This much is certain. Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike have grown up together and will never grow apart. Sisters forever.

Rolling Stone: Elena Delle Donne’s Silent Supremacy

Amsterdam Times: Liberty drop two overtime games (Yah, we know. Sigh)

Billboard: Ballin’ Out Podcast: Fat Joe & the WNBA’s Breanna Stewart on How They Came ‘All the Way Up’

ESPN: WNBA veteran DeLisha Milton-Jones wants to go out on own terms

After another “Year of Women’s Sports” is it any surprise we get this from the Times? Pro Basketball|After Two Decades, WNBA Still Struggling for Relevance or AJC’s Is WNBA’s expectation for success just a dream?

Then there’s MSR: Youngsters inspired by WNBA trailblazers

These are the post-1997 players. These women hoopsters saw first-hand America’s longest running and most successful women’s pro basketball league as it moved from the drawing board to reality. As youngsters they could finally join their male counterparts and dream about something that many pre-WNBA generation players could only do abroad — one day playing pro ball in the States.

“The first time I thought about it, I was in fourth grade,” said Morgan Tuck, a rookie with Connecticut.

Dallas rookie Aerial Powers noted, “I can’t remember a specific moment [when she thought about playing professionally], but I do remember the Lisa Leslie dunk and her putting her hands up to the crowd.”

NCAA

Welp: Ole Miss self-imposes postseason ban for women’s basketball; reduced scholarships in football

Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie battles on and off the court

This was planned as the story of a 50-year-old coach who uses her celebrity to help raise awareness and funds to combat a deadly disease that haunts her life and scarred her body. The fact her 2016 team failed to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time in her nine-year tenure, the first time at Duke since 1994, only made it a more compelling tale of struggle and challenge.

But things have a way of turning out differently than we expect.

Hello: Hartford Hires Kim McNeill As Women’s Basketball Coach

Not too surprising, considering her record: Alabama A&M University: Head coach Semeka Randall resigns

Bye/Hello: Syracuse Women’s Basketball: Florida Guard Isis Young to Transfer to Orange

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Thank goodness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Without missing a beat, Dolson replied.

“Oh my God, Morgan Tuck!” she said.

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

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

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

NCAA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

International

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but I’m a little worried about the Lib’s tall folks.

Tina looks fantabulous, but where is Kiah? Sugar is already making a bid for the “Most Improved” as Old Big Easters will recognize the form they’re seeing on the court (and, do you remember her Player’s Tribune piece?). Intrigued to see how our elder guards contribute – really want an announcer to get the chance to say Z-to-Z for the nice give-and go. The Dallas visitors say Skylar is day-to-day, but even without her, the Wings are proving that they’re not going to be a pushover this year. Looking forward to see what happens for the newly-transfered franchise. Home wins, I hope.

Swish Appeal: ‘Pinch of Sugar’ goes a long way in Liberty victory

Queenie:

Dallas really misses Skylar Diggins. They really don’t have a consistent second option without her. Without her, Plenette Pierson and Odyssey Sims were both forcing the issue a lot, especially in the first half. Diggins tried to give it a go in warm-ups, but that knee is still braced, and she was walking very gingerly. She would have been at maybe quarter speed if she’d had to play, and I don’t think she was very happy about it; when she came out of the tunnel, she was with the trainer and there was a virtual thundercloud over her head. (It also really doesn’t help their rotation.)

On the West Coast, Los Angeles picked up where it left off last year… as did, unfortunately,  Seattle. Behind Parker’s 34, the Sparks easily handled the Storm. L.A. Times … dabnabbit! You use the AP report!!?!?! And oh, snap, the Sparks aren’t in your header or your dropdown menu. So. Not. Cool. At least Mechelle wrote somethin’

There were five No. 1 picks on the floor at Staples Center on Sunday, all of whom could tell you their own stories of what it means to them to be in that club.

When the game was over, 2008’s top pick — the Los Angeles Sparks’ Candace Parker — had the biggest day and her team got exactly the start it wanted: a dominant, 96-66 victory over the Seattle Storm.

There actually were some positives for the Storm, particularly regarding two of their No. 1 picks who look to be the foundation of a bright future: 2016 top pick Breanna Stewart, in her pro debut, had 23 points, while 2015 top pick Jewell Loyd, last season’s rookie of the year, had 20.

Swish Appeal: Candace Parker’s Sparkling performace engulfs Storm

Sue: Parker, Stewart both shine in Sparks dominating opening win

Hoopfeed: Candace Parker spoils debut of Breanna Stewart with 34-point explosion as Sparks beat Storm 96-66

The local paper hasn’t stopped paying attention: Breanna Stewart makes WNBA debut, experiences something new: Losing

Did you catch this from Stewie? Day One, Again.

Downtime? I have none. Just the way I like it.

Last week I was in Seattle trying to figure out if I could pull off the trip back to Connecticut for graduation. My new teammates asking, “What time do you have to be there?” Meanwhile I’m thinking, What if I get there and they forget to call my name? But being able to graduate in person from an institution like UConn, in front of a community that gave you so much, is an opportunity you can’t pass up. I made it, and squeezed in a visit to the White House with my UConn teammates; it was worth it.

Swin back in?

From Mike DiMauro at the Day: Motto for new-look Sun: Humble, but hungry

Kelsey Bone, center for the Connecticut Sun and never a candidate to mince words, offers the following overview of the 2016 season:

“We gotta make the damn playoffs,” she said, alluding to a locale that has eluded the franchise since (gulp) 2012.

Diana Taurasi learned a lot by watching her Phoenix Mercury teammates, at least when she wasn’t yelling at her monitor.

“I turned into that fan. ‘Why aren’t we rebounding? Why aren’t we executing down the stretch?,’ ” she told Excelle Sports Saturday at shootaround, prior to the Mercury’s season-opener 95-76 loss to the Minnesota Lynx.

Watching was the only thing Taurasi could do following her choice to skip the 2015 season, a move that reverberated fiercely within the WNBA community; Taurasi had won her third championship with Phoenix and her second Finals MVP award the year before.

On Saturday night, Taurasi could call herself a player again, competing against the Minnesota Lynx at Target Center, a venue where fans generally love to hate anything that has to do with purple and orange, especially the player wearing the No. 3 jersey. In Minnesota’s lean years,

If you haven’t purchased ESPN the Magazine, might recommend you get out and do so. WNBA oral history: Moving the ball forward

DAVID STERN WALKED down the hallway of the NBA offices in Manhattan and paused as he approached Val Ackerman’s office.

The then-NBA commissioner poked his head in the doorway.

“This would be a summer league, right?” Stern asked.

“Yeah,” Ackerman recalls saying, “that’s the plan.”

THE WNBA WASN’T launched by one landmark meeting. Rather, it evolved from a series of brainstorms, serendipitous circumstances and casual conversations: It was the right people working together at the right time. The NBA had reached a zenith of popularity and marketability in the early 1990s thanks to megastars such as Michael Jordan and collaborations with other organizations, such as USA Basketball. All of that delivered the Dream Team for the 1992 Olympics.

 Great job by Delle Donne (and, I’m assuming, a little assist from the Sky PR folks) – she’s been all.over.Chicago.In Chicago Magazine: The New Superstar in Town

In the glittering heart of Gotham, at a swank TriBeCa gala fit for a tuxedoed Bruce Wayne, a newly minted superhero soars toward an unseen basketball hoop, a flaring silk of blond hair trailing like a cape.

A few feet away, in heels and a form-hugging gown, a very tall blond woman who more than passingly resembles the leaping figure mulls the Marvel poster like a patron at a gallery, examining the main image of the subject cradling a basketball like a deity palming a planet, her hair swept back like Athena.

A small grin, then a full-on smile blossoms as she reads the character’s name.

“I hadn’t seen this,” she says to a friend. “Pretty cool, huh? Full-Court Goddess. I’ll take that.”

Speaking of which, fingers crossed: Sky’s Elena Delle Donne practices, expected to play Wednesday

About friggin’ time. From Excelle: WNBA.com dramatically expands stat, historical video offerings

This doesn’t suck: ESPN posts highest WNBA overnight rating for a regular-season game since 2011

A little college:  

With rumors circling about an extension, On the Banks writes: C. Vivian Stringer’s Impact Upon Women’s Basketball is Legendary

From the Sentinel: Next recruiting class crucial to Lady Vols’ future

Bye: Nebraska sharpshooter Natalie Romeo to transfer to UW women’s basketball team

Romeo leaves Nebraska after the abrupt resignation last month of Huskers coach Connie Yori over allegations that the coach mistreated players. Romeo has denied those claims.

“It was pretty difficult there,” she said. “I just think it’s the best thing for me to move on.”

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Congrats: Lori Blade going into Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame

In 22 seasons, 14 at Edwardsville and eight at Carrollton, Blade has a career coaching record of 624-83. She won her 600th career game with a 51-22 victory over Belleville West on Dec. 10.

In the 14 seasons at EHS, Blade has helped the Tigers to 13 regional titles, 11 sectional titles and seven straight Southwestern Conference championships. Edwardsville has played in the super-sectional round 11 of the last 13 years.

Thanks: Slater helped push growth of girls basketball

Even in retirement, basketball is never far away from Larry Slater.

He can watch his daughters Jeanice and Terrie coach the sport he grew up loving. He can see his granddaughters play the game that changed his life.

It’s a long way from the days when Slater was trying to find a way to get girls involved in the recreation basketball program in Hartselle.

 

Cool: Main Line Girls Basketball Association’s Tigers meet former Mighty Mac Judy Martelli

NCAA

You stay put: UTC Hoops: Jim Foster Receives Contract Extension

Welcome back: Jamie Carey returns to Women’s Basketball as familiar teacher, leader

Louisville: Walz Reviews Women’s Basketball Season

Kentucky: Q&A: Barnhart discusses issues within women’s basketball program

Why are so many leaving the Kentucky women’s basketball program?

Black Bear coaching pipeline returns? UMaine women’s basketball associate head coach to take Presbyterian job

Bye? Badgers women’s basketball: 2016 recruit from Milwaukee changes her mind

Bye: Fowler leaves ISU women’s basketball

Wowza: Duke star Azurá Stevens transferring to UConn

Tada! South Dakota introduces Plitzuweit as new women’s basketball coach

Hello: Todd Starkey named Kent State women’s basketball coach

Hello: Seattle University hires Suzy Barcomb as women’s basketball coach

Nebraska: Basketball has always been a way of life for Amy Williams

Utah women’s basketball: Surprise first year under Roberts builds Utes’ ambition

Arizona women’s basketball head coach Adia Barnes steps into rebuilding stage

So, about those stories that UNCWB is being set up as the fall guy….

New UNC Allegations Focus on Women’s Basketball
New UNC Notice of Allegations focuses on women’s basketball – USA TODAY
How UNC men’s basketball, football could avoid punishment from NCAA – CBSSports.com
Five questions (and answers) about UNC’s amended notice of allegations – Greensboro News & Record

WNBA – hard to believe preseason starts TOMORROW!

Don’t have a team? Spend less $2o bucks and get one! (I’m looking at you, every single coach of a player who got drafted or you think should have been drafted. We all know coach McGraw’s signed up.)

WNBA League Pass (Formerly LiveAccess) is now available for $16.99. Use the code ‘WNBA20’ for a $2 discount. Free trial is May 14-17.

New WNBA president Lisa Borders wants to fill seats with fans as passionate as she is

First call might be to Jerian Grant: “Get With the Program” Why I Watch Women’s Basketball

But worse than all of that, the respect isn’t always there. Coming from such a close relationship with the women’s team in college, I wasn’t used to hearing people put down the women’s game.

You see the disrespect in how people dismiss women’s basketball as “boring.”

You see it in your Instagram feeds and Twitter mentions, where comments about women’s basketball players get really ugly.

The stereotypes, the put-downs, the jokes. We’ve all heard them.

This culture of disrespect fuels the perception that the WNBA game is somehow inferior to the NBA game.

After four years of sharing friendships, memories and the same court with the women’s team at Notre Dame, to hear those stereotypes and see that culture was upsetting.

Newsday: Liberty optimistic it can continue its recent success

Q&A with Dallas Wings General Manager Greg Bibb

WNBA: FGCU’s Knight soaking up Sparks training camp

Former Gophers star Rachel Banham gets ‘green light’ in first WNBA camp

Storm guard Jewell Loyd intends to play without fear in her 2nd WNBA season

Jude Schimmel gets her shot in WNBA camp

Imani Boyette Follows in Mother’s Footsteps, Finds Perfect Fit in Chicago

Chicago Sky Tamera Young uses basketball to empower youth

Chiney Ogwmike pleased to be back with Connecticut Sun

New Sun Coach Curt Miller Ready To Get Going – His Way

Oregon Women’s Basketball: Jillian Alleyne and Kelly Graves talk WNBA Draft

Nice: WNBA’s Connecticut Sun Reaches Agreement with Fox 61 and WCCT to Televise Seven Games

Rookie Breanna Stewart embraces pressure to elevate Storm

Moriah Jefferson’s New Coach Very Confident In UConn Star’s Abilities

Newest Spark Talia Walton Is Out To Prove Her Doubters Wrong

Seven things to expect in the Fever’s upcoming season

Tamika: The Last “First” Day

As I laid in bed this morning I couldn’t go back to sleep. This is officially my final “First Day” of training camp. It’s crazy to think of the emotions that swirled through my head the first time I watched a WNBA game, to the that night I got drafted, then the first time I set foot in Indianapolis, the first time that I got announced on the court after sitting out the first year… the first time I scored, the first time I won an award… just so many firsts and even more memories.

Flashback: WNBA player recall Prince’s invite to Paisley Park and The story behind Prince’s private party for Minnesota’s WNBA team

WNBA Star Chamique Holdsclaw: From A Virtuoso On The Court To A Champion For Mental Health

USA Basketball

Auriemma likes experienced U.S. Olympic roster

BTW, if you think only women’s sports writers are the only one subjected to #morethanmean, you might want to have a chat with fans and players…

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So, yeah, many of the conference tournaments have started, but I honestly didn’t think I’d have to worry about the first rounds…

“DOH!” says the Ohio Valley. Murray State straight up stuns #1 Tennessee-Martin. How big an upset? The Pacers are 11-16 (7-9) and the Skyhawks are 21-8 (14-2). The Skyhawks just played Murray State to close out the season and beat them by 21. SIEU must be thinkin’ “We don’t screw up, we get into the NCAA.” Of course, Belmont might be thinkin’ the exact same thing.

Fly, Eagles, fly: FGCU leads mid-major rankings into the postseason

If mid-major teams often play with the freedom of nothing to lose in the NCAA tournament, perhaps it’s because they already survived the part of the season when there was everything to lose. With NCAA at-large bids rarely a certainty, a season’s worth of good work can vanish within a few bad minutes in a conference tournament. But with automatic bids soon up for grabs, here is a final look at the rankings.

Wow, being a Clemson Tiger these days must be disheartening. 0-for in conference play.

You stay (Boyle), you go (Butts). This could be a busy list.

Oh, this could get ugly right quick: FIU women’s basketball coach suspended after alleged sexual misconduct

Crap: Theriot Will not Return for HuskersTheriot’s career had great moments, but also disappointment

The Nebraska women’s basketball team returns to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis this week for the Big Ten Conference Tournament, site of one of the great moments in the career of Rachel Theriot.

In 2014, Theriot helped lead the Huskers to the Big Ten Tournament championship, the program’s first title in their new league. Theriot was tournament MVP.

Theriot won’t be able to play in Thursday’s game against Rutgers. The senior point guard had surgery on her foot on Monday. That ends a career filled with lots of great games, but also disappointment, as her junior and senior seasons were each cut short because of injury.

So, I’m pleased that coach Dave Magarity is part of the WBCA’s “COY Region/Nominee” process. But, I’d like to mention that Army (26-2, 17-1) has had a (rather recent) tradition of winning. Bucknell, now 23-6, (17-1), not so much…

“It feels good to get a piece of a championship,” said fourth-year Bucknell head coach Aaron Roussell. “This team has been through so much, and for it to result in a banner in the rafters is very rewarding. I’ve been told Army is one of the better teams in the history of the Patriot League, so for us to match them at 17-1 is an incredible accomplishment.”

Bucknell’s run through the league schedule started with an eight-game winning streak, including a victory over Army West Point. The Bison’s lone loss came to the Black Knights and has been followed by their current nine-game winning streak that they will take into the postseason. The streak is tied for the longest in program history.

Woot! to the NCAA’s “Team of the Week:”

Fresh off of claiming the school’s third Conference USA regular season title in program history (2008, 2012 and 2016), the UTEP Miners continue to impress as the calendar turns to March. UTEP clinched the title on Feb. 27 when they outlasted Charlotte, 94-91, in double overtime in front of a roaring 4,012 fans at the Don Haskins Center.

UTEP, 25-2 overall and 16-1 in Conference USA play, matched school and league records for single-season Conference USA victories this year. The Miners also concluded the home portion of their schedule at a flawless 16-0, marking the second undefeated home campaign (14-0) in program history.

Speaking of the Miners: UTEP star Turner overcomes struggle and thrives

Growing up in the hardscrabble parts of Dallas, Turner spent some nights on a floor in an apartment with six of her siblings, some at houses of various coaches looking out for her. Some days she ate better than others. Those days, she didn’t pass out in a gym. Some days she did pass out in the gym. Going to practice hungry was common.

Turner learned the rules of the street.

“I saw shootings, killings,” Turner said. “You hear shots and you get down on the ground, protect yourself. I saw lots of drugs, weed, cocaine, prostitution. Not a lot of girls I went to school with went on to college. I wanted to break that cycle; I didn’t want that to be my story.”

But there’s another part to this: Turner isn’t running from anything.

Speaking of players overcoming:

This year has not been what anyone expects of Iowa State, least of all the Cyclones themselves. This is a proud and distinguished program that’s used to the postseason; Iowa State has gone to the NCAA tournament 16 of the past 19 seasons, including the past nine years in a row.

But the Cyclones finished the regular season Tuesday at 13-16 overall after an 82-57 loss to West Virginia.

So why did it still seem like such an uplifting night in Ames, Iowa?

Because Iowa State guard Seanna Johnson was back on the court, after a very emotionally difficult past 10 days in what’s been a challenging season for the Cyclones. Johnson had missed the previous two games while at home in Minnesota with her family after her father, Curtis Johnson, suffered a stroke on Feb. 20.

Speaking of really good players: Courtney Williams worked hard to become one of game’s top players

You’ve heard the story before, countless times. It’s about the high school standout who comes to college and becomes perplexed and frustrated that what once came pretty easily had become challenging.

Common as the scenario is, it’s still a major hurdle to clear for every player who encounters it. But if she does, it’s a process she never forgets.

South Florida senior guard Courtney Williams can attest to this. She has become one of the top players in college, and is looking forward to a professional career. But she had to go through that “what I am doing wrong?” phase at one point, too.

Ladies, start your engines! UConn ready to raise the bar even higher in postseason

The undefeated Huskies are like a standout Broadway troupe that has been doing the same show for a while. They have all their lines memorized and know every mark they must hit. So how, when you’ve been essentially nailing it again and again, do you still find another gear?

That’s really the “secret” of championship teams, isn’t it? Even when they appear to be at their best, there’s somewhere else to climb.

“Back in the day, we used to say, there’s regular-season Shea Ralph, and there’s tournament Shea,” Auriemma said of the former Huskies star and current UConn assistant coach who was the most outstanding player of the 2000 Women’s Final Four. “And those are two different things. And we like to think that our team is the same way.

Ya-da-UConn “undefeated” Ya-da-UConn “national champions” Ya-da… NOT UConn?      Johnson County women’s basketball team shooting for perfect season: Defending NJCAA Division II champs are 30-0 entering postseason

The Johnson County Community College women’s basketball program earned its bona fides long ago and its second national championship last season. The Cavaliers are accustomed to winning.

So when coach Ben Conrad says: “It is surprising we haven’t gotten beat. That’s not normal,” it’s apparent something is up.

JCCC begins postseason play Tuesday with a 30-0 record, the first time the Cavaliers have finished the regular season undefeated. All but two of those wins have come by double digits. Most of those double-digit wins have been margins rarely seen outside of video games.

Looking ahead, Charlie says: NCAA’s final reveal holds small clues for Selection Monday

Mechelle, who’s been writing up a storm, notes: Bubble teams look to make big noise during Championship Week

In the five major conferences — which accounted for five automatic and 27 at-large NCAA berths last year — there are some bubble guppies and bubble sharks. The guppies don’t have much NCAA tournament history, while the sharks do — but as the “bubble” part of their description suggests, both are in precarious positions in regard to this year’s tournament.

Let’s take a quick look around the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC as they get set to face off for conference supremacy and automatic tickets to the Big Dance.

Check out the ‘Around the Rim’: Championship Week Preview podcast with Chiney and LaChina

During the first half, the two are joined by Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame coach Lin Dunn to discuss if UConn’s recent slow starts should be concerning, SMU coach Rhonda Rompola’s retirement and her comments on “players’ entitlement” and front-runners for the national coach of the year award.

In the second half of the show, the duo chat with espnW’s bracketology expert Charlie Creme who breaks down the significance of the upcoming conference tournaments and sheds light on which teams could make a case for a tournament bid this weekend.

Connecticut’s WNBA Team Is More (and Less) Tied to UConn Than You Might Think

…as UConn continues its skyward trajectory under head coach Geno Auriemma, the Sun look toward the 2016 season — the WNBA’s 20th — facing an uphill climb, and a clear goal to strengthen its place in the state’s women’s basketball market after a run of disappointing seasons.

The best way to do that? Win.

“For us, it’s going to come down to: how do we legitimize ourselves?” said Chris Sienko, the Sun’s vice president and general manager. “People know who we are. We’ve done great things. We have to win a championship. I think that’s when people start putting us in the same conversation with UConn.”

Hello, Prez! Atlanta Dream names Theresa Wenzel new president

WATN? Jessica Davenport: A Global Basketball Journey Close To Home

One Last Time: Q&A with WNBA star, Olympian and author Tamika Catchings

In her new book, “Catch A Star: Shining through Adversity to Become a Champion,” co-written by Ken Petersen, she details her life as the daughter of professional basketball player Harvey Catchings, how she adapted to her hearing impairment as a child, how she sought refuge in sports and how the joys and sorrows molded her into the person she is today. At the recent USA Basketball national team training camp in Storrs, Connecticut, Catchings spoke to espnW about the book and why she wrote it.

Thanks for the story, Sally: Going on offense vs. Down syndrome: Most people saw limits for Frankie Antonelli. Parents Frank and Debbie saw potential.

They had counted with an unthinking confidence on having healthy kids, maybe even a team roster’s worth. She played basketball at North Carolina State before becoming a sportscaster, and he hit .400 for the Columbia University baseball team before making a career in elite sports management, and they hoped to add some quality little strivers to the general population. Their first child was an easy birth, and they were so confident of their second that she played nine holes of golf the day he was born. Then he came out scrunched up with the cord around his neck, and holes in his heart.

The doctors spoke in dead-end terms, even the ones who tried to be positive. Though it was 1997 and not the Victorian Age, one said, “Don’t let anybody tell you to institutionalize him.” Statistics showed most Down syndrome children would not see 50.

He won’t develop properly, they said, or play games like other children. “I can’t tell you how many times I heard the words can’t and won’t,” Debbie says. Defeatist words. They seemed to apply as much to her, as to him. You can’t have a career with a disabled child. You won’t be able to work.

But the Antonellis were athletes, and athletes don’t deal in can’t and won’t. They deal in can, and will.

Eighteen years later, Frankie Antonelli is a junior in high school with sparkling eyes, and a well-defined V shape from fitness training. “Hi, I’m Frankie, I’m a celebrity,” he says, wise-guy-like as he introduces himself to a reporter. With a motor-speech impediment that doesn’t dull his meaning, he proceeds to argue with some spirit that he’s the best basketball player in the Antonelli Driveway Series.

Video: Coordinator of Pac-12 women’s basketball officiating Violet Palmer reflects on a pioneering career

Congrats to Brenda VanLengen, winner of the 2016 WBCA Mel Greenberg Media Award.

On a dabnabbit, but congrats note, WHB fave Jim Massie is closing up shop at the Columbus Dispatch. Hopefully he’s at the top of the Mel list next year.

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And, if you’re one of the folks running around in it, “Please be safe, please be safe, please be safe!” Or, perhaps a better warning: “Don’t be THAT idiot.”

For instance, those involved with the MSU/Maryland game which was postponed because of snowstorm

YEAH!!! Graham is writing about Kelsey!!! Minato is hoops’ best senior who won’t play professionally

That career continues when Army and Navy play in Madison Square Garden on Saturday. As the 10-year anniversaries of both Army’s first NCAA tournament appearance and former Army coach Maggie Dixon’s death at 28 years old approach this spring — two events inexorably bonded by the respective joy and sorrow they engendered and the brief time that separated them — what Minato has accomplished is a new chapter in the story.

What Dixon envisioned, Minato embodies.

The only team in the Patriot League to beat Army this season, Bucknell did so at home earlier this month only after enduring Minato’s 35 points on 16-of-26 shooting. After that game, the team’s second win in seven tries against Minato, Bucknell coach Aaron Roussell listened to people offer congratulations for a strategy as bold and daring as to allow Minato her shots and instead focus defensive attention on stopping her mortal teammates.

Jinx? Mechelle writes about Coach Vic Schaefer builds Bulldogs into national contender (and then, Barbee helps Georgia upset No. 10 Mississippi State 47-43)

When Schaefer got the Bulldogs job, the player who would turn out to score more points than any girl in Mississippi state high school history — 5,745 — was a prep sophomore: Victoria Vivians, a 6-foot-1 guard from Carthage.

“The first call I made was to her high school coach,” Schaefer said. “We worked our tails off in recruiting her because we knew the importance of keeping her here. Obviously, it’s been big for us. It’s a special time to have a kid like her on our basketball team.”

What the Bulldogs are still trying to establish this season, though, is that they are a consistently solid offensive team around Vivians too. In her second collegiate season, she is averaging a team-best 17.6 points per game for No. 10 Mississippi State.

Speaking of offense: Fast-Paced Offense Leads OSU Women’s Basketball Team Resurgence

SB: As Thomas said, you have played the four Final Four teams from last year. You lost to three of them. Is there a worry that you’re a good program but not an elite program at this point?

KM: Well. I’m at first I think you’ve got to play those teams to see where you are. And when I came here I knew we had a lot of work to to go to build the program and part of that wanted to be aggressive scheduling. And so you know, I like the fact that we kind of measured ourselves against the best we know where we have to to get better.

They got off to a fast start – and Cheryl takes note: 

Like many teams on the rise, Santa Clara continues to be a major work in progress, even during midseason. The Broncos have not had a winning season in seven years. They earned less than 12 wins in five of those years.

This season, the team added seven new players including junior forward Lori Parkinson, a transfer from Southern Utah and the team’s top rebounder, freshman guard Savanna Hanson who leads the Broncos in assists and made three-pointers, and senior forward Devin Hudson who led the team in scoring vs. Stanford.

“Honestly we’re just trying to get better every day, so we’re excited about the fact that we’re actually getting better as a ball club. We have seven new players, it has just taken a while to get everybody on the same page, but we’re excited about where we are.”

More reading: Tamika Catchings on a Lifetime of Hoops, and the Legacy She’ll Leave

When Tamika Catchings was a little girl, she was sitting with her dad and noticed the scar on his leg. So she asked him, “Well, what happened to you?”

Harvey Catchings, a former NBA player, told her that he walked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Jackson, Mississippi, as a young teenager. Harvey had grown up in that southern city, and here were his neighbors gathered by the thousands to march with King. He was injured when the large throng of marchers swelled and he passed a parked car that had a broken piece of chrome sticking out. His own father wasn’t far behind and helped him move to the sidewalk and clean the wound.

It was a day that forever made a mark, inside and out.

“That was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever experienced,” Harvey said.

Graham rights about Three new teams who entered mid-major rankings

Believe it or not, we are running out of mid-major rankings. Only two more check-ins remain before conference tournaments will end the subjective portion of the season and settle which teams will get a chance to play David, or occasionally under-seeded Goliath, in the NCAA tournament.

And we haven’t even had a chance yet to talk about Albany’s perennially underrated Shereesha Richards, St. Bonaventure again punching above its weight (or at least its enrollment) and the pipeline apparently linking Colorado State to basketball courts across Scandinavia.

There are so many stories left to tell as the final month of the regular season approaches.

By the way, Doug asked, “Where have the great mid-major teams gone?

Coach Aaron Johnston’s team’s only other losses came to then-No. 6 Maryland, by seven points, and Green Bay by one.

“The margin of error for mid-majors is so small,” Johnston said. “We played Maryland and Notre Dame close this year, beat DePaul who’s ranked and lose by one to Green Bay. Unfortunately one loss gets us out of people’s minds.”

LadySwish responded

Mid-major implies there’s a second tier of teams, an “everybody else” of women’s basketball lumped together outside of the Power 5 conference. They are the Power 5 because of football; nobody grouped them as such having to do with anything related to women’s basketball.

All the teams in the sport are playing the same sport, vying for the same trophy. But the NCAA committee and the media who vote in the poll rarely treat them as such.

Alabama, Wake Forest, Boston College, Pitt, Illinois — are these teams better than, say, South Dakota State, James Madison, Duquesne, George Washington, Green Bay, Florida Gulf Coast or Gonzaga?

More stuff: Washington’s Chantel Osahor makes her Husky women’s basketball teammates better

From Seton Hall to the WNBA

What are some of your most memorable experiences as an athletic trainer working in the WNBA?

Laura London: As a female athlete growing up in the ’90s, I remember when the WNBA was formed. Being able to work with the New York Liberty absolutely has been an all-around memorable experience. Walking out of the tunnel and stepping onto the court for my first time at Madison Square Garden, “The World’s Most Famous Arena,” was a wonderful moment as a sports fan. As a newly certified athletic trainer (ATC), being able to join an efficient and effective professional sports medicine team was a major milestone for me. Having that team be led by Laura Ramus, PT, ATC, a female athletic trainer and physical therapist, was an added bonus that has been career-shaping and inspirational.

Curt Miller Seeks to “Establish a Culture” with Young Connecticut Sun

Curt Miller may not have set out to be a pioneer, but when he accepted the job as the Connecticut Sun’s new head coach, that’s just what he became. By virtue of the move, Miller is now the first publicly gay man to be the head coach of an American professional sports team.

It’s just the latest step in an impressive coaching journey that has spanned 20-plus years in both the collegiate and professional ranks. In 13 years as a head coach at the collegiate level, Miller compiled a 290-124 record, won five MAC regular season and conference tournament championships with Bowling Green, and also lead the Falcons to the Sweet Sixteen in 2007. Last year he joined Brian Agler’s staff as an assistant coach out in Los Angeles with the Sparks. Now, after being hired in December, he’s the head coach of the Connecticut Sun.

Sky player Allie Quigley’s close call with Turkish bombing shows risks of playing overseas

Two blocks away was too close for Allie Quigley.

When a suicide bomber attacked Istanbul’s main tourist district last week, killing 10 Germans and wounding 15 others, the explosion rattled the Sky guard like nothing she had ever experienced.

Yah, they stopped that: IHSAA cancels seasons for Pike, Ben Davis varsity girls basketball teams after fight

Podcast: Dishin & Swishin 1/09/16 Podcast: Channeling John Wooden? Cori Close has UCLA climbing the polls

For the first podcast of the year, Dishin & Swishin looks out West where the Pac-12 currently has the best RPI of any conference in the country. This week’s polls rankings, with Stanford ( No. 9/13), Oregon State (No. 11/12), Arizona State (No. 14/14), UCLA (No. 15/21), and California (No. 21/RV), show the respect the conference is getting nationally.

One of the most interesting of those teams is UCLA, where Cori Close’s Bruins are 11-3. The three losses are a three-point loss to second-ranked South Carolina, an overtime loss to third-ranked Notre Dame, and a thrilling double overtime loss to California.

Reviewing…the situation…

Tough sledding for Cal in the Pac-12. Ditto for Colorado.

Hofstra and James Madison are 5-1 in the CAA

George Washington has moved to 7-0 in the A-10. Keep an eye on Jones’ shoulder….

It’s been a tough year. Wichita State got its first win in the MVC.

Makin’ Debbie happy: #7 Ohio State over Michigan, 97-93.

The SEC is South Carolina... and everyone else, as #9 Kentucky gets upset by Ole Miss.

Ragin’ Cajuns are 6-1 in the Sun Belt.

Yah, UTEP is diggin’ in the C-USA.

Hello, Teddy Bears! They take down Chattanooga and move to 4-0 in the Southern.  “The loss was the Mocs’ first in league play since January 2012 at Elon, snapping a 52-game conference win streak.”

Ruff! Albany is now 6-0 in the American East.

Strong start to stumbling in the ACC: Virginia Tech (2-3) and BC (1-4)… BTW, North Carolina (2-4) lost to Wake Forest (1-4). Speaking of which: Transfers leave ACC women’s basketball feeling growing pains

“We’re a young league right now,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “When you look at this senior class, you’re not looking at a lot of WNBA draft picks in the senior class. When you look at the freshmen and sophomores, you’ve got loads of talent in the conference.”

The ACC arguably has been hit harder by transfers than any major conference.

Abilene Christian is still rolling through the Southland.

San Diego and BYU are lookin’ like the top dogs in the ever-interesting WCC. St. Mary’s one-point win over Gonzaga (3 Ls in a row) keeps everyone nice and tight.

The South Dakota teams are headed for a showdown – both are 5-1 in the Summit… as is Oral Roberts.

Hey! That snuck up on me: UT Rio Grand is 5-0 in the WAC. This didn’t sneak up on me: New Mexico State has the same conference record.

This could be fun: Eastern Washington (6-0) gives Montana State (6-1) their first loss in the Big Sky.

Don’t wanna jinx’em, but the Gauchos handed UC-Davis their first conference loss, and are now 4-1 in the Big West.

Games to keep you entertained if you’re snowbound:

Oklahoma v. Texas – how do these teams play the game after a “recovery win”?

ESPN 3: The Zips face the Chippewas at 1PM EST

FS1: Interesting test? Baylor v. Iowa, 1:30 EST

The Bonnies (6-2) v. the Dukes (7-1), 2PM EST

EPSN3: Horizon bragging rights: Green Bay v. Wright State, 2PM. (BTW: Congrats to Raider Kim Demmings, who set the all-time career scoring record in Horizon League women’s basketball history

Montana State visits the Vandals, 5PM EST.

The Battle of the Washingtons, 5PM EST.

UC Riverside v. UC Santa Barbara, 10PM EST.

SUNDAY

ESPN 3: The Battle of the Floridas – Miami v. Florida State, 1PM EST

SECN: Florida v. Missouri, 2PM EST

This one feels like it could be fun: Michigan v. Nebraska, 2pm EST.

ESPN3: It doesn’t have the usual national draw, but it’s always a fun rivalry: Duke v. UNC, 3PM EST.

Despite everything, the Heels were giving virtually everyone a tough game, and they came from behind to upset Syracuse. However, that was when they had McDaniel in the frontcourt. Even though she wasn’t close to being in shape, her sheer talent and size made a big difference for UNC. When she went down, the Heels lost by double digits to Miami (understandable) and Wake Forest (far less so — this was Wake’s first league win). Not only is McDaniel’s talent irreplaceable, it means the Heels have only six scholarship players available. Right now, they are desperate for any kind of wins.

It’s odd to set up this game with so little at stake in terms of national or even league ramifications for both teams. If Duke had lost to Clemson or Wake Forest prior to this game, it would have been the first time ever that the two teams met with losing league records. As it stands, this is the first time since 1993 that neither team has been ranked going into their rivalry showdown. That said, this game should be fiercely contested, though not necessarily a thing of beauty.

ESPN2: Will South Carolina give Mississippi State their first home loss? 5PM.

Indiana v. Northwestern. One team is trying to make its mark, the other team is trying to make up its mind. 5pm EST.

Stanford v. UCLA. This. Is. Not. Even. Streamed? 9PM EST.

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at least four or five times: “‘Ware the Wabbits!”

#16 DePaul learned the hard way. It’s the 4th-straight year the Jackrabbits have defeated a Top 25 team.

Have you noticed Oklahoma State is undefeated?  Looking forward to their 12/20 matchup with USF.

Have you noticed #12 Northwestern is undefeated? (Blame Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah) Looking forward to their 12/19 matchup with DePaul.

Have you noticed Oregon is undefeated? (Blame senior Liz Brenner) Looking forward to their 1/2 match up with UCLA.

Southern Miss couldn’t defeat the “other” in-state rival – Mississippi State wins, 78-65.

So, Tennessee visited Maples and it was. not. pretty. Stanford’s balanced attack overwhelms uninspired Lady Vols

 It was a game that was, in many ways, a shell of its former shelf [sic?].

Not just because, for the first time in the 33-year history of the annual matchup, neither Stanford nor Tennessee was ranked in the top 10.

Not because Maples Pavilion, which is historically full to the rafters and rocking when the Lady Vols come to town, was a little more than half full and sufficiently enthusiastic.

But because neither the 14th-ranked Lady Vols nor the 15th-ranked Cardinal look like obvious contenders to be in Indianapolis in April.

The two most storied programs in the history of the game, the standard-bearers in their respective conferences, are looking up at long line of teams with more talent, more potential right now.

Both still have to prove they belong in that line.

Penguins win!

Okay – so New Mexico, which seemed to have taken a half-a-step back this season, toasted Rachel Banham and Minnesota, 72-53. At the Barn. Nice homecoming for Benilde-St. Margaret’s star Khadijah Shumpert.

In other news:

Congrats Connecticut Sun.

Namaste, Ms. January: Briann January promotes basketball in Delhi

Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Erin: Opal and WNBA player Erin Phillips agrees to become Port Adelaide’s first female player

Hello Lady Swish on ESPN! Path of a pioneer: Old Dominion is fourth program to win 1,000 games

The Old Dominion women’s basketball history book is its own “War and Peace,” a thick chronicle about a program that was a pioneer for all of women’s sports. Many of the significant characters — Nancy Lieberman, Marianne Stanley, Anne Donovan and Ticha Penicheiro — still resonate and influence sports in 2015.

Several chapters document a glorious time, recalling national championship victories over coaches such as Pat Summitt, Leon Barmore and Andy Landers. And the plot thickens with the program’s resurgence in 1997, when the southeastern Virginia university — highly regarded for its business, engineering and distance learning programs — reached the Final Four alongside Tennessee and modern-day stalwarts Stanford and Notre Dame.

With Old Dominion’s 83-64 victory at Howard on Tuesday, the team and coach Karen Barefoot added another chapter: The Lady Monarchs became the fourth Division I program to amass 1,000 victories, joining Tennessee, Louisiana Tech and James Madison.

No, really, #ByeGilbert. (I will say it’s funny how some folks recognize how misogynist Arenas’ bile was don’t see how racist that Washington NFL team’s nickname is.)

Florida es mi otra casa, says Leticia Romero

Through basketball, Leticia traveled across the world and into the world of college basketball. However, coming to the United States meant more than a change of scenery or a change of culture—it meant a change to the way she played basketball.

“When I first came, it shocked me the way they played because it’s very physical. We don’t use the contact as much and they play really fast,” Romero said. “I was the type of point guard that came from Europe and our game was running the play and being poised. It took me some time to adjust to be able to run the floor.”

Speaking of Florida: UCF’s Aliyah Gregory gives back in honor of late aunt

Aliyah Gregory was riding the bus home from high school in Tampa when she heard the news. Three hundred miles away in Jacksonville, the day before Gregory’s 15th birthday, her aunt, Nicole Bush, was killed in a domestic violence incident.

“It changed my whole life,” Gregory said. “No longer having someone in your life that you are used to having there. It’s been a big adjustment.”

FiveThirtyEight Podcast: Will UConn’s Dominance Of Women’s Basketball End Anytime Soon?

Speaking of UConn: On the Road Again: UConn Freshman De’Janae Boykin Transferring; Hadn’t Played Because Of Injury

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by the players. From Layshia Clarendon

Arian Foster doesn’t believe in God.

I do.

We could easily fit into the believer/non-believer binary that religion has constructed over time; a Christian praying for the soul of the faithless and the godless rebuking salvation. There should be tension between us. I should be defensive about my faith when he criticizes Christianity. But I feel more of a kinship with him than most of my fellow believers.

We’re both outsiders in the Christian community — two people who don’t believe in religion as an institution but who invest in and love Jesus’ teachings; Arian, the Agnostic, and me, the Believer, both driven away by Christianity’s exclusivity. We’re the same yet different all at once — religious rebels who are forced aside as they look in on the Christian majority.

From Candice: Full Circle

Every athlete dreams of playing just one game at Madison Square Garden. It’s more than a cultural mecca; it’s a place that inspires the best players in the world to display a level of greatness beyond the imaginable. Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James — some of their most memorable game-time performances happened at the Garden. I watched those games. I imagined what it would be like to take that court, surrounded by fans, the clock ticking overhead — to have my own moment of greatness at a place that makes, and sometimes breaks, legends.

I got that chance in 2010. Life is interesting, though. Even when a dream comes true, it doesn’t play out the way you imagined.

Today’s Fast Break has their All-Time Starting 5: Chicago Sky
No surprise, guess who’s on their list? For WNBA star Elena Delle Donne, it’s all Sky, no limit

August may not be the time you usually think about basketball. But if you haven’t been paying attention this summer, you have been missing perhaps the greatest single season ever put together by a professional basketball player – better than LeBron James, and better than Michael Jordan.

That player’s name is Elena Delle Donne, and if you’ve never heard of her, now would be a good time to start paying attention.

It’s hard to compare players between the NBA and WNBA. That’s why statistics like player efficiency rating (PER) exist. The metric is a normalized stat, such that the league average – no matter what league, no matter what year – is always 15.00. A player’s performance across his or her game, from field goals, to assists, as well as negative results like missed shots and turnovers, are all taken into account. It is also judged by minutes played to account for a player’s contributions per minute.

Delle Donne leads the WNBA in minutes played. She also leads the league in PER. In fact, she leads every league — ever.

From Scoop Jackson: How Elena Delle Donne Is Handling The Pressure Of Her Monster Season

Every now and then, an athlete challenges and possibly makes history. Elena Delle Donne is in the middle of one of those seasons.

Receiving her fourth player of the week award a little more than four weeks before the season even ends, and leading the WNBA in scoring while being in the top five in field goal percentage are only part of it. Her 33.5 efficiency would set a WNBA record if it stands through the end of the season — a PER on pace to be two points higher than the NBA mark set by Wilt Chamberlain (31.8). Put another way, Delle Donne is having a more efficient season than the man whom basketball touts as the king of efficiency — LeBron James — has ever had.

From Bustle, re the above:

A recent interview with espnW presses Delle Donne to talk about how the pressure of the season might be affecting her, asking numerous questions about the “responsibility,” feeling the need to step up her game, “[feeling] the spotlight,” and the possibility of “hitting…a mental wall.” In fact the questions seem so fixated on this angle that I have to wonder if male NBA stars get these same questions stressed so heavily. (I can’t remember ever seeing it, but maybe that’s just me.) However, Delle Donne seems to be doing just fine with all the pressure, regardless.

From Mid Level Exceptional: Elena Delle Donne and the boundaries of usage and efficiency

From Ned Grffin at The Day: Sun’s Lacy is a true pro

The baseball field was a second home of sorts for Jennifer Lacy during her childhood. Her father, Lee, played 16 years in the major leagues, so she grew up around the likes of Dusty Baker and Tommy Lasorda.

“He’s been a big influence on me and my career,” Lacy said about her father. “He always said that sports are peaks and valleys. It really resonates with me. My career has kind of been up and down and in and out, just doing what’s asked of me. I think without that mindset that it would’ve been a lot harder to assume the roles that I have assumed.”

From the Washington Blade: Mystics’ Dolson embraces straight ally role

The Washington Blade caught up with Stefanie Dolson who is playing in her second season with the Washington Mystics in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). The 6’5” Dolson played center at UConn and the team won back-to-back national championships in 2013 and 2014. She was the sixth overall pick in the 2014 WNBA draft and began playing for the Mystics shortly after graduation. During her college years, Dolson stepped forward as a straight sports ally, lending public support to help break down stereotypes, stop discrimination in recruiting and create positive role models for all people, not just the LGBT community.

Sue has Brittany Boyd having a good time on her perfect-fit team and Pondexter-Prince trade paying dividends for all

Sometimes player trades work out so well that it’s hard to tell who has benefited most – the team or the athlete.

Such has been the case for the New York Liberty and Chicago Sky this season, who exchanged Cappie Pondexter and Epiphanny Prince over the winter. Both guards have become rejuvenated in systems that seem to fit them perfectly, to the delight of both themselves and their coaches.

As a result, both Pondexter and Prince are leading their teams in a fierce race for the Eastern Conference title. Going into today’s match ups, Prince and the Liberty are in first place, one game ahead of Pondexter’s Sky. And there is plenty of time left in the regular season.

’cause I know it’s some people’s obsession: WNBA STAR MAYA MOORE KICKS BIG GAME WITH EXCLUSIVE JORDAN SNEAKERS

As to the games, clearly, we’re going to have to wait to see if that coach/player conversation had any impact in Minnesota, ’cause Washington sure didn’t see any change.

Really? It’s been THAT long since New York won in San Antonio?

With Indy and New York on hot streaks, Washington getting feisty, and the Sky feline’s their way, the East’s race to the finish is intriguing.

And, the West is all tipsy-turvey, with Minnesota’s fickleness, Parker’s return, Phoenix’s tank-free-ness and Tula’s stubbornness. Looking at the standings, I had a flashback to when the East was mocked for sending under .500 clubs to the playoffs…Welcome, shoe, to the other foot!

in college news:

You stay put: Women’s Basketball Coach Sue Semrau Signs Extension Through 2020

You stay put, too: New contract keeps Ali Jaques with Siena through 2020

You stay put, three: Texas State’s Zenarae Antoine Signs Contract Extension Through 2017-18

WATN? Rhonda Mapp: 

Rhonda Mapp is helping less fortunate families get ready for school.  

Her Kool Kutz Barbershop and Salon is offering 100 free haircuts and hairstyles as well as book bags and school supplies to children August 23. Doors open at 10 a.m.

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Hate starting the day with really unpleasant news: Maryland women’s assistant basketball charged with sexual abuse

Maryland women’s basketball assistant coach Bryce McKey has been charged with sexual abuse against a player he coached while serving as an assistant with the Xavier women’s basketball team.

McKey will be arraigned Friday morning in Kenton County (Ky.) District Court on a misdemeanor charge of sexual abuse in the third degree, which stems from a May 2 incident involving a Xavier women’s basketball player.

Maryland indefinitely suspended McKey on Thursday evening, according to a school spokesman.

It’s an ugly, ugly situation – the only good thing one can take away, at the moment, is the fact the young woman spoke up.

“A lot of young ladies probably don’t come forward. I was proud of [my daughter] for coming forward,” the accuser’s father said. “Hopefully by reporting them, that it will help protect other girls that are going around coaches and feeling safe and secure, and realize it’s not safe and secure.”

Perhaps things have gotten better since 2004.

Maybe.

Days after Norwood Teague resigned as athletic director at the University of Minnesota amid  allegations of sexually harassment, the Minnesota Star Tribune reported VCU paid former women’s basketball coach Beth Cunningham $125,000 to settle claims of discrimination under Teague’s watch. Teague served as VCU’s athletic director until 2012, the same year Beth Cunningham left the Rams.

“VCU paid athletic Beth Cunningham received $125,000 when she left VCU,” VCU spokesman Mike Porter confirmed. “There was an agreement reached between the university and Beth Cunningham. However, the nature of the agreement cannot be discussed due to the language of the agreement.”

Then there’s the Tar Heel Trouble: UNC-Chapel Hill reports new information to NCAA

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has notified the NCAA’s enforcement staff that, in the course of responding to the NCAA’s notice of allegations of May 20, 2015, it identified two new pieces of information potentially requiring further review. The University is fully cooperating with the NCAA and working within the NCAA’s processes to bring closure to the investigation as soon as possible.

First, while preparing for public release of a series of emails from the independent investigation conducted by Cadwalader, Wickersham and Taft, the University found additional examples of possible instances of improper academic assistance provided to a few former women’s basketball players, directly related to allegation number two in the May 20, 2015, notice of allegations.

Moving on.

Uncertainty builds for Marist with Jossart out for season

The Marist College women’s basketball team’s rocky offseason has hit another bump.

Incoming freshman point guard Jordyn Jossart underwent surgery on her right knee on Wednesday and is expected to miss the entire 2015-16 season, the school announced Thursday.

Jossart’s absence adds uncertainty to a program that has just five returning scholarship players on its roster and still, Marist coach Brian Giorgis said, doesn’t know if it will have starting center Tori Jarosz back for another season. The point guard position in particular is an unknown, with Jossart thought to be one of several candidates for the role.

Analysis: How will Iowa mesh together this season?

With three multi-year starters gone from last year’s team and eight underclassmen dotting its roster, Iowa is going to have a significantly different look this season.

Exactly how different? Longtime coach Lisa Bluder isn’t quite sure right now.

Cool! BTW girls basketball player Megan Jackson wins spot in Kevin Durant camp

If you were to become an NBA superstar, how would you use your money to impact the lives of young people in the community where you grew up?

Megan Jackson thought about the question. Then, the Booker T. Washington junior basketball player sat down and wrote an essay.

It turned out to be one of the winning efforts in the Kevin Durant ProCamp Essay Contest, organized by Oklahoma Toyota dealers.

More cool! Young women using basketball to help overcome divisions and forge new way of life in wake of 1990s Balkan war

 More than 100 young women playing in a Bosnia and Herzegovina basketball club are overcoming the ethnic divisions and conflict that plunged the Balkan region into war during the 1990s.

The Livno Girls Basketball Club, based in the town in southwest Bosnia and Herzegovina, competes throughout the region and in other European countries. Sterling Global Operations (SGO), an international stability operations company, is a club sponsor.

The entire region was for years embroiled in the fighting between rival military forces. Programs such as the Livno Girls Basketball Club are helping to forge a new way of life, and a better future, for girls and young women, said Mike Aramanda, SGO project manager for the company’s work in the region.

More cool! Basketball at breakneck pace a way of life on Navajo reservation

At 5:15 a.m., sunrise is only a thin pale highlight over red rock mesas in the east as Alicia Hale steps out of her house for her daily run. Even in June, the morning is so chilly at an altitude of almost 7,000 feet that she needs several layers to stay warm.

The Window Rock High School senior lines up next to her mother and younger sister in the dirt yard of their house in the capital of the Navajo Nation. They spread Navajo white corn powder on the ground in a quiet ceremony meant to offer thanks to the Creator for the blessings of life.

They exit the yard through a chain link gate and set out at an easy jog.

Also cool! Kymora Johnson And Her Cavs Are Going To Play A Game At Madison Square Garden – The Cavs weren’t allowed to play in their tournament for having a girl on their team. This will have to do instead. side note: Really impressed *insert sarcasm emoticon* with the many of the comments after this article on the “issue.” Quite revealing of some folks’ buttons.

LA’s optimism: Brian Agler, Sparks keep pushing toward playoffs

The Sparks started the season 3-14 and in last place in the West and still are one of the league’s lowest-scoring teams, averaging 72.8 points per game, which ranks 10th. But now, even at 7-16, Los Angeles is in fourth place in the West, a half-game ahead of San Antonio.

“It’s been tough,” Agler said earlier this week. “But we have a chance to get into the playoffs and we are playing better.”

Minnesota’s crossed fingers: Seimone Augustus could return to Lynx lineup soon

Speakin’ of tough: Storm GM, president Alisha Valavanis reflects on first year on job

Question: You’ve made a mark your first season, which has included a revamped ticket program, a new Storm app and quirky in-game features, such as the “Between Two Birds” segments with Sue Bird. How do you view the past year?

Answer: We went into this year really committed to the experience as we build on the court. We wanted engagement opportunities and to try to create relevance. It’s been exciting for me, because people see the vision and are buying in. They’re showing up to games and having a good time. We had three consecutive games where the building (KeyArena’s lower bowl) was full. It’s too early to really tell, but there are a lot of indicators that we’re trending in the right direction.

Things are gettin’ fun in the East: New York Liberty remain thorn in Chicago Sky’s side amid playoff hunt (get better quick, EDD!)

Last season’s WNBA Eastern Conference champions, the Chicago Sky, are in essentially a five-way race for the conference’s four playoff spots.

But the defending East champs seem to face their most serious competition for supremacy from the New York Liberty. The two sides have faced off twice in five days with the Liberty winning both games convincingly, including an 84-63 win on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

What makes the Liberty and Sky such an intriguing matchup is they represent the polar extremes of the league. The Sky lead the league in offensive efficiency, with 104.8 points per 100 possessions. A primary reason for this is Elena Delle Donne, the versatile forward posting the third-best season in WNBA history so far, as measured by Player Efficiency Rating.

Speaking of the Sky: Chicago’s Elena Delle Donne hopes to break Seattle ‘curse’

Some think coffee when Seattle is mentioned. Elena Delle Donne has a different word association.

“It’s like the curse,” she said. 

Since being drafted by Chicago with the No. 2 overall pick in 2013, KeyArena is the one court in the league where Delle Donne has yet to play.

Speaking of the stubborn Sun: Chelsea Gray Shining for Connecticut Sun After Conquering Doubt and Injury

Chelsea Gray underwent a temporary crisis of faith. 

The confidence the affable 5 foot, 11 inch guard once played with as an elegant two-time All-American guard at Duke was as fractured as her right knee.

Suffering two debilitating season-ending knee injuries, as Gray did during her junior and senior years can do that. Even though she is a strong spiritual person, those unfortunate setbacks even forced Gray to have doubts.

She eventually conquered the distrust in herself believing something greater would come, despite two major knee surgeries in less than a year.

How about a little one-on-one?

Chicago Tribune talks with the fabulous Catch.

Q: This was the first Sports Humanitarian Award, meaning the selection committee had the entire athletic world to draw from. Yet they picked you. How did it feel?

A: It was amazing, even to get nominated. I was beside myself, just really ecstatic. I love working with kids. We’ve continued to grow and grow, and get better and better. Not once did I ever say “Hey, I might win this,” it was just cool to be recognized. When I got the phone call that I won, at first I was like “OK y’all, stop playing.”

Other athletes have their foundations, but they have people who run it for them, and it’s more of an appearance thing for them. From start to finish, I’m engaged and involved in every aspect of it. That’s something they were very impressed with.

SIKids talks with the fierce, yet friendly, Tina.

You got your first recruiting letter at age 12 from Stony Brook University. Did you receive more shortly after or not until you were a bit older?

More after — I actually framed that one. To be 12 years old and to receive a collegiate letter gave me a lot of confidence to keep playing the sport of basketball.

David pods with Kelsey Bone:

Last night, the Sun trailed by double figures before pouring it on in the second half to defeat the Tulsa, Shock 80-74. Alex Bentley led the Sun with 25 points, but the driving force in the second half push was the other All-Star on the Sun, center Kelsey Bone. She finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds.

The 6-4 center is a true low post, back-to-the-basket center, who patrols the paint on both ends of the court. The Sun disc jockey plays “Bad to the Bone” when appropriate, which is frequently, and the crowd roars. This is a year where the Sun was expected to contend for last place, not the playoffs, due to injuries and retirement. On a team loaded with youth, and short on vocal leaders, Bone is more than just another piece of the puzzle, she is a focal point both on and off the court for the team.

Elena goes solo here: Delle Donne writes about her sister, Lizzie.

We often read about stories of momentary greatness — a time when a human being persevered despite insurmountable odds. But what’s a moment of triumph for one person is a lifetime of perseverance for my sister, Lizzie.

Lizzie is my older sister — also the older sister to my brother Gene — but often times it feels like she’s my younger sister. She was born deaf and blind, with cerebral palsy and autism. She doesn’t speak. The only real interaction or communication I, or anyone, has with her is in person, with hand over hand sign language. She hugs. She smiles. She kisses.

Gone way too early: Former Virginia Tech basketball great Renee Dennis dies at 49

Former Virginia Tech women’s basketball standout Renee Dennis, whose No. 44 jersey hangs from the Cassell Coliseum rafters, has died at the age of 49.

Dennis died of ovarian cancer Aug. 4 at a nursing home in Trumbull, Connecticut, according to her mother, Mary Dennis. Virginia Tech announced her death Monday.

“I’m so saddened and shocked,” former Hokies coach Carol Alfano said in a phone interview upon learning the news. “That’s way, way too young.”

Dennis is the Virginia Tech women’s basketball program’s career scoring leader, having tallied 1,791 points from 1983-87.

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From the Daily Tar Heel: 

“It was about how she would be viewed. How would a potential employer view her?” Tuggle said. “Would the employer look at her skill set? Or would they automatically sort of disqualify her in their minds because she played basketball at Carolina?”

The program that benefits from UNC’s huge missteps: South Carolina. No wonder Dawn’s staying put.

Speaking of transfers: Terps women’s basketball confident, despite Lexie Brown’s departure

While the NCAA tries to figure out what it can and can’t do (or will and won’t do) about the Heel’s pit of twisted rules, others at the Buckeye Battle Cry are pondering the changing rules on court. The folks who actually have to make the calls are taking, too.

New Mexico wised up: Sanchez’s 4-year deal is official

About those lawsuits… Illini Chancellor confident in AD

“Yeah,” Wise said fairly emphatically. “I mean, I do not want to rush to judgment. I want to wait until all the investigations are done.”

From the Daily Californian: Brittany Boyd, Reshanda Gray face challenges adapting to new roles in WNBA

From Arizona:Leilani Mitchell shooting her way to success as Mercury’s new point guard

From ESPN: How Connecticut Has Landed In A Surprising Spot — Atop The East

Anne Donovan could have played the disrespect card. She could have used the preseason predictions that had her Connecticut Sun team finishing last in the Eastern Conference as a source of motivation for her team, something that would have stoked the players’ competitive pride.

But the truth is, she can’t really blame people for what they thought.

Coach Donovan can also be heard on the Dishin’ and Swishin’ podcast.

From D.C.: The Conversation: Mystics’ Kara Lawson on being home, broadcasting and the WNBA

Amazing (and thanks, Doug): 5 torn ACLs later, Jacki Gemelos finally makes WNBA roster

The Sky had brought her in as a free agent to training camp before she was the final cut. General manager and coach Pokey Chatman knew she wanted Gemelos in a Chicago uniform and when guard Allie Quigley left to play for Hungary in the Eurobasket tournament this week, a spot opened up on the roster.

“I had tears of joy, tears of every emotion that I felt,” Gemelos said about signing her first WNBA contract. “Even when I was putting on the uniform in my first scrimmage, I was tearing up inside. Wearing that jersey and being so close. It was tough when they cut me, but now I’ll be able to play in my first real WNBA game. It’s going to be hard to keep it together.”

Gemelos will get her first chance Friday in Atlanta.

WATN? Ex-WNBA Standout Andrea Stinson Takes Next Coaching Step at National Tryout

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Allisha Gray leaving North Carolina. Remember that great 2013 #1 Recruiting Class of Diamond DeShields, Allisha Gray, Jessica Washington and Stephanie Mavunga? Mavunga is the last one standing.

For folks (read UNC athletic staff) who aren’t taking this whole academic scandal thang seriously (who, us?) you all better stand up and take notice. Speak up, clear the air… or your athletic program may implode.

Speaking of transfers: Former Terps guard Lexie Brown to transfer to Duke

Thank you: Lester Galyon leaving Gordon Lee after successful 14-year run

After one of the longest and undoubtedly the most successful runs in the program’s history, Lester Galyon is leaving the girls’ basketball program at Gordon Lee High School.

Galyon came to Chickamauga 14 years ago and inherited a program that was just starting to get back to the top. He arrived at Gordon Lee one year after the Lady Trojans broke a long state playoff drought.

His teams would go on to be in the state tournament in each of the first 13 years of his tenure, winning over 300 games, averaging 21 wins a season and never having had a losing season. He helped coach the Lady Trojans to six Region 6-A championships and the Class A Public School state championship in 2013.

Thank you, too: Lusinger leaves Summit girls basketball for MISD office

Summit girls basketball head coach Tammy Lusinger has resigned to accept the position of assistant athletic director at the Mansfield ISD office.

Lusinger, who helped guide the Lady Jaguars to state championships in 2009 and 2012, leaves the program after 13 years, the last eight as head coach. She served the first five years as the program’s assistant coach, dating back to the opening of the school.

Her record at Summit was 229-65 and 330-142 overall, which includes time spent at Dripping Springs, Richland and LaPorte before arriving at Summit.

The Lady Jaguars also collected four district championships and six regional appearances in addition to the two state titles.

In W news:

Do not even pretend you had this marked in your prediction book: Surprising Sun sit atop the Eastern Conference in WNBA

“I think we are (shocking people), but I don’t think we are shocking ourselves,” guard Jasmine Thomas said. “I think that this is exactly what everyone wanted, what we were fighting for and what we were expecting to be doing.”

That said, the Sun will be tested this week as they head West for a three-game swing against the Seattle Storm, Los Angeles Sparks and Phoenix Mercury.

One of the reasons: Bone-Jarring: Sun Post Player Likes To Mix It Up Underneath

Kelsey Bone were a hockey player she would be an enforcer. That seems clear.

“Listen, if I was coordinated enough to skate, I would have tried my hand at hockey,” Bone said. “And if it meant I would end up in the penalty box, well, I’m fine with that.”

That’s because Bone, as solid a 6 feet 4 as there is in the WNBA, does not shy away from the physicality that often defines low post play. In fact, she’s often a spoon that stirs it.

And don’t even TRY to say you had THIS marked in your prediction book: There are a lot of good vibes from new-look Mercury

What has been discussed most about the WNBA’s defending champions is all that has changed for the Mercury from a year ago. But especially after a big victory at home Sunday, it’s a good time to talk about who the 2015 Mercury actually are, not who they aren’t.

So let’s look at that through the eyes of two veteran players — guard Leilani Mitchell and forward Monique Currie — who until this season spent their WNBA careers in the Eastern Conference. Now they’re in the Mercury’s starting lineup.

Chicago ouch: Tamera Young out after thumb surgery.

New York ouch: Dabnabbit! There goes our Aussie!

Thank you: WNBA’s Indiana Fever Pay Tribute to Lauren Hill

Thank you: Tina Charles donates half WNBA salary to her foundation

Soooooo, can Cooper recapture the Dream or is Atlanta joining San Antonio’s race for Stewart?

Finally, longtime WHB readers remember this story. Thank you, Danielle: Green to receive Pat Tillman Award for Service at the ESPYS

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… a hard working, fast-paced, everyone plays kinda of team (and no Isiah Thomas in the house), but i know better than to trust early W returns. Yes, the win vs. the Dream was against a team with its full compliment of players, but the same cannot be said for the W’s v. Phoenix and Indy.

That being said, Tina is playing like she gives a hoot about basketball, Essence is playing like her body is 100%, and Boyd is bringing a Becky-esque energy to the floor. And we’re undefeated at home. Can’t ask or much more than that…except, maybe, Piph returning early and healthy.

The Dream – everyone’s “with caveats” anointed Eastern champ stumbled badly out of the gate. They seemed to have regained their footing, coming away with a tough win over the Mystics, who had been galloping out of the gates.

Speaking of galloping, how about the Connecticut Sun? Most folks didn’t think they even had a horse in the race!

Storm warnings in Seattle, as Loyd and Mosqueda-Lewis discover just how hard it is to adjust to the WNBA’s skill level and pace.

Catch and Shavonte are working herself back into both sides of the lineup and Indiana is happy.

It’s not easy being Cardinal: Former Stanford players get WNBA season off to rough start

For an overview on the season so far, check out Jeff House in da house. 

Scatter shooting around the W, after the opening weekend of games, and there were a few games that catch the eye and make me say, “Hmmmm.”

Pitt’s McConnell-Serio embraces new rules for women’s basketballGary Blair Reacts To NCAA Women’s Basketball Rule Changes  and Mike Strange: Men’s basketball should be watching women’srule changes

If there’s a wall, build around it: Muslim Girls Design Their Own Culturally Appropriate Basketball Uniforms

WBHOF: 

When Door Opened For Women’s League, Lisa Leslie Walked Through It

Lisa Leslie, former OSU coach Kurt Budke among inductees into Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame

On the day before the Fever honor Lauren, she’s Honored By Indiana Basketball Hall Of Fame

A woman who never even met the late Lauren Hill was so touched by her story that she donated an engraved brick in her name to the the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. The brick reads: “Lauren Hill: Hero.”

Swoop, there it goes: Nike (NKE) Becomes Exclusive Oncourt Apparel Provider for the NBA, WNBA

Long-term NCAA planning: 

The pre-season WNIT field is set.

Not yet set is the Maggie Dixon Classic at MSG… but rumors include Kentucky and UConn. Maybe we can break 180 WHB tixs??

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Quigley, other WNBA players to miss games for Euro tourney

New York’s Epiphanny Prince (Russia), Los Angeles’ Kristi Toliver (Slovakia), Indiana’s Shavonte Zellous (Croatia), Atlanta’s Celine Dumerc (France) and Minnesota’s Anna Cruz (Spain) are among those who will miss WNBA games and face potential fines from their teams or the league.

The winner of the Eurobasket earns a berth in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“Yeah, it would be cool to play in the Olympics,” Quigley said. “We’ll see.”

Speaking of Zellous: Zellous wins arbitration case against Turkish club

From Indy: Miss Basketball. National champion at Purdue. WNBA player. Successful college coach. And now Stephanie White is leading the Indiana Fever.

Nearly every one of Stephanie White’s early coaching stops played out void of fanfare.

They include one season as an assistant for the Ball State University women’s basketball team, the following winter in the same position at Kansas State and two years at the University of Toledo.

Have whistle, will travel.

Congrats! Basketball Star Tamika Catchings Named Latest Laureus Ambassador

From Illinois: Who will step up for Sky if Fowles doesn’t play? and As superstar Sylvia Fowles demands a trade, Sky see no limit in WNBA season

From New York: Wiggins feels sense of purpose with Liberty and Bill Laimbeer: ‘My time has passed’ for NBA job

From Georgia: McCoughtry now ‘living my own life’

If I said this were a story about a WNBA player who talked about doing yoga and feeling refreshed … who said she is learning to appreciate sunsets, cookouts and walks in the park … who uses terms like “relaxed” and “lightness” to describe her current state of mind … whom might you guess it was?

Probably not Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry, right? While being one of the best women’s basketball players in the world the last several years, McCoughtry often has been paired with adjectives like complex, intense, inscrutable, mercurial and moody.

The lights are on Maya Moore. She knows it. Maybe it explains why she speaks in measured and balanced tones when challenging colleagues, reporters, and as usual, herself.

The reigning WNBA Most Valuable Player and dazzling 25-year-old Minnesota Lynx veteran guard wrote an in-depth first-person story for the Players Tribune magazine in April about the lack of visibility for the league, overseas struggles and women’s basketball in general.

In addition to bringing the issues out in the open, Moore offered solutions and suggestions for enhancing the sport during an exclusive discussion with Womhoops Guru (this blog, not the Guru himself) on Wednesday when the Lynx played the Mystics in a preseason game.

A caring, personable ambassador, Moore’s motivation was simple.
From Connecticut: Connecticut Sun’s Alyssa Thomas showing off versatility (Which they’ll need, considering all the injuries they’re having.)
In NCAA news, the transfers have landed.
It’s Villanova for former Vol Jannah Turner.
it’s South Carolina for former Yellow Jacket Kaela Davis.
It’s Texas for former Commodore Khaleann Caron-Goudreau.
It’s Oakland for former Blue Demon ShaKeya Graves.

The Savannah State University football program and women’s basketball program have been ruled ineligible for postseason play because of a failure to meet minimum APR scores, according to the NCAA.

In addition, the SSU women’s softball team is facing level one APR penalties and the men’s and the women’s basketball team is facing level two APR penalties while the football team also faces level three APR penalties.

It’s pretty common to hear that Title IX creates a huge financial burden on colleges such that even if a school is lucky enough to be making millions on football or basketball, federal law mandates that a certain amount be spent on women’s sports. Leaving aside how this story implies schools are being forced to support women’s sports against their will (which I hope isn’t true), it also misses the fact that in some circumstances, women’s sports make money.

Yes, so-called “non-revenue” can be profitable. This isn’t saying they always are, because the conditions need to be right; but when they are, a school that is out of compliance with Title IX because it doesn’t have enough women participants could actually add a sport and increase its net cash in-flow after expenditures. Seems counter-intuitive, right? But it’s true. Come join me on a short, economic journey through arithmetic-land, where the only bias is a strong belief that when facts and common sense collide, facts win.

BTW: Joanne is now only  $265 away from her Kickstarter goal of $2500 to support the publishing of “Finding a Way to Play.” That means if 18 WHB readers give $15, not only will they get a free, autographed copy of the book, but they’ll help her reach her goal.
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Come on, folks – love the game? Love its history. Donate.

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We’ve been watching this, but it’s lovely to see “mainstream” pick it up. From the West Coast,  Mike Guardabascio of the Press-Telegram writes about the work Long Beach State coach Jody Wynn has done with the 49ers.

Wynn, now in her sixth year as the 49ers’ head coach, grew up in Southern California — Brea — and was a successful swimmer in her youth.

The child of two college athletes — her mom golfed at UCLA and her dad played football at Occidental — Wynn loved to compete from an early age, enjoying the feel of lining up in the starting blocks at junior nationals and big-event swim meets.

“Being something other than your best was not acceptable,” Wynn says. “I was in the water every day before school, after school — I always really wanted to compete to be the best.”

Good news for the Gophers: Injured star Rachel Banham to return for one more season

Speaking of the Gophers, the Scarlet Knights are their next opponent, and they need to pay attention to Cynthia Hernandez, who fills 3-point void for Rutgers women’s basketball
The Rutgers women’s basketball team is no doubt thankful for all those hours Hernandez spent in the park as the first-year junior college transfer filled a longtime void in the offense last game by becoming the first player in almost four years to make as many as five 3s in a game. She did it without missing.
Her indefinite departure is the latest in a series of player losses for USC. Deanna Calhoun left the team last year, and in November, leading scorer Ariya Crook was dismissed for violating team rules. Shortly after that, guards Destine Gibbs and Chyanne Butler also left the team.
A win AND school record: Washington’s Jazmine Davis had 25pts in a win over Colorado and becomes leading scorer in program history at 2,047.

When McKeown took the job at Northwestern seven years ago, Wildcat fans hoped he would have an immediate impact.  They were disappointed.  His first few teams were better fundamentally on the court, but that did not translate to victories. He has recruited better than his predecessors, but transfers and injuries hurt his efforts.

The real turnaround began on Nov. 15, 2012, and it happened in an office and not on the court.  On that day, McKeown signed what will likely be ranked as the best recruiting class in Northwestern history.  The class included four players – three who have become monsters on the court:  Nia Coffey, Ashley Deary, and Christen Inman. After they walked on to campus and into the starting lineup, and the Wildcats haven’t been the same since. 

Dishin’ and Swishin’ returns to cover the start of The Jenny Boucek era in Seattle

Boucek was previously a head coach from 2007 through 2009 in Sacramento, and like the Monarchs, she is inheriting a team long on veterans, that needs to get younger quickly. In this case, however, her team holds the number one overall pick in the upcoming college draft; albeit a draft many do not consider particularly strong, with no clear cut top choice.

Other questions abound, beginning with the health and return of Jackson, and the future of unrestricted free agents Tanisha Wright and Noelle Quinn. There is no denying that this year’s Storm could look significantly different than last year’s team.

Mechelle added: Boucek will lead Storm into new era – Alisha Valavanis, team’s chief operating officer, also in her first year with Seattle

New Seattle Storm coach Jenny Boucek has watched players such as Sue Bird grow up as professionals in the sport of basketball. So have I … but I’ve also watched Boucek grow up, too. When asked earlier this week about moving from her assistant’s role with the Storm, replacing Brian Agler, she talked about her evolution as a student of the game.

“This is ironic — you would understand why, because you watched my playing career — but my specialty has become more offense than defense,” Boucek said.

Boucek started in the WNBA as an unpaid assistant for Nancy Darsch and the Washington Mystics in 1999. She’s spent her career coaching in the WNBA because, she said,  “It captured my heart.” After four years starting for Debbie Ryan’s Virginia Cavaliers, graduation in 1997 found her back on the court, this time wearing a Cleveland Rockers WNBA uniform.

“Just being part of the inaugural season and seeing the potential of this league to impact the country culturally really hit home with me as a young lady. Grown women were crying at our games,” remembered Boucek. “Little girls, who were wide-eyed, now have a different perception of themselves and their potential, their dreams and their opportunities, not just in sports. They see women getting opportunities that they only knew men to have.”

Tough news for the Connecticut Sun: Chiney Ogwumike undergoes the knife
After a 2014 season that often seemed like nothing more than a comedy of errors, the Connecticut Sun received even worse news for the 2015 campaign on Thursday when forward Chiney Ogwumike underwent microfracture knee surgery. Dr. Walter Lowe, the renowned orthopedic surgeon and team physician of the Houston Texans, Houston Rockets, and University of Texas Longhorns, performed the surgery.
Oh, about those games – I’m really looking forward to #9 Oregon State v. #12 Arizona State, aren’t you? Especially now that ESPN has realized the State of Oregon is a Hoops hotbed again

It is, Mandy Close admits, like the proverbial story about the catch of a lifetime, the one in which the fish grows bigger and the catch more legendary with each telling.

Not the details of the play, mind you. Those are right there in the official record, forever immune to embellishment. There really were nine seconds left when Oregon State’s Tiffany Ducker rebounded an Oregon miss and made an outlet pass to Close in the waning moments of the game on Jan. 25, 2006. And Close, her team behind by a point, really did drive the length of the court and, with two seconds remaining, hit a layup at the same time she was fouled.

She hit the free throw, and the Beavers really beat the Ducks 63-61.

What has changed in years of spinning the story — and the story still is spun when Close and former teammates get together — is the backdrop against which it took place. 

We continue to reap the benefits of the Knicks’ losses: School Returns to Dominance, Cranking Up Music and Offense  – Levelland Loboettes Have Regained Their Winning Ways in Texas

 A large sign greets visitors to this small, windswept city in West Texas. Planted on the side of State Highway 114, about 30 miles west of Lubbock, beyond the oil rigs that rise from fallow cotton fields, the sign has borne the brunt of harsh winters and searing summers.

“Welcome to Levelland,” it reads across the top, with twin basketballs framing the words. “Home of the Loboettes.

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It’s called parity, my friends.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jayda speaks with Penny.

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

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

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

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

 

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The semi-final game will be broadcast on ESPN U and streamed.

The team got there by defeating USA U17 Women Defeat Canada, 86-45.

“I think the score was not indicative of how tough the game started,” said USA head coach Sue Phillips (Archbishop Mitty H.S./San Jose Cagers AAU, Calif.). “ I really thought that we stifled each other on the offensive side of the ball, and both teams struggled to score. That was familiarity, and that was well coached-basketball. Both teams were familiar with the scouting report. I think our depth and energy and intensity on the defensive side of the ball really helped spark us to create a lead.”

The winner will meet the winner of the earlier game between Spain and Czech Republic.

Great news: Tamika Catchings returns, hopes to help Fever down the stretch

With no Tamika Catchings and six newcomers, the Indiana Fever could have been thinking about 2015 midway through the 2014 season.

Instead, Catchings is returning from a back injury, and the Fever are poised to make a playoff push in a less-than-formidable Eastern Conference. The 2011 MVP and three-time Olympic gold medalist makes her season debut in Saturday’s 5 p.m. game against the San Antonio Stars at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

In other good news: From Jenni Carlson at The Oklahoman: How a season with ‘Coach C’ helped spark former Oklahoma star Courtney Paris’ breakout WNBA season

Last summer, Paris signed with Mersin, a team in the Turkish Basketball League. She had played in the league the two previous seasons and done well, averaging a double-double, so she was a known and sought-after commodity.

When she arrived in the city of nearly a million and met her new coach, though, she didn’t feel all that loved. Ceyhun Yildizoglu pushed and prodded, harassed and hounded. The man who also coaches Turkey’s national team wanted everything done the right way every time.

In more happy news: Jayco Opal Penny Taylor returning to her best in WNBA

It has been a horror run of injuries for the 2006 FIBA World Championship for Women MVP since she first suffered a tear of her anterior cruciate ligament prior to the 2012 London Olympic Games, but over the past three games we have seen Taylor return to her free-scoring best.

After having her minutes monitored through the first 11 games of the WNBA season, the Mercury’s Australian Head Coach Sandy Brondello took the shackles off the 33-year-old and has seen some impressive numbers since.

Happy, as in ka-ching, news: WNBA Cashing In With Pro-LGBT Campaign

Griffin is the author of Strong Women, Deep Closets: Lesbians and Homophobia in Sport.She says the WNBA’s campaign is a good start, but it should have come a lot sooner.“You have to look at the WNBA in the context of sexism in sport as well as homophobia in sport because all women’s sports leagues really have to struggle for their share of the media attention,” she said. “It’s been very challenging for them to take on anything that they perceive as potentially controversial, that might affect the bottom line.”

Griffin says the league is finally feeling comfortable enough to “cash in” on larger changes in society regarding marriage equality and civil rights. And cashing in is exactly what the league is doing.

Happy, as in taking action: From Chicago’s Daily Herald: WNBA’s Griner takes on bullying in a big way

Griner has written “In My Skin,” a book about her life that chronicles her struggles growing up gay, and she is in the process of creating an anti-bullying smartphone application. Griner says she was bullied and picked on relentlessly as a child for being different.

The app, which will be called BG: BU, is a resource for kids who are being bullied. It’s also helpful for their parents and teachers.

“I definitely got bullied as a kid and teased, and I didn’t really have an outlet or a resource that I could reach out to in order to get the proper help that I needed,” Griner said. “I don’t want any kid to go through the same problems and the same obstacles that I went through. I want to give kids and parents a safe zone to get help.”

Nice: ‘We Stand For Women’–The WNBA and My Daughter by Jason Greene:

Watching sports with my daughter is different than watching sports with my son. I admit that it shouldn’t be, but it is.

With my son, we get caught up in the excitement of the game, root for our favorites and cheer at the opposing team’s failures. With my daughter, though, somehow I get caught up in giving her a history lesson on women’s sports and trying to convince her that she needs to work harder in every area of her life.

Why? Because the inequalities between the genders are glaring when viewed through the sports lens.

This is what happens when I say nice things about a team? Losing record and now, says George Albano, there looms a Critical stretch ahead for Sun

The Sun have certainly been one of the surprise teams the first half of the season, winning eight of their first 14 games after posting a league-worst 10 victories a year ago.

At the same time, they’ve also been one of the harder teams to figure out. They started the season 1-5, which can be attributed to a virtually new roster getting acclimated with one another. Then the Sun won seven of their next eight games, a sign they were starting to find some team chemistry.

But after six straight wins, which gave them an 8-6 record and catapulted them into second place in the Eastern Conference, Connecticut has lost four straight.

In not-so-happy news, Texas Tech guard Amber Battle has been suspended for a month after admitting to having “initiated the first contact” with the now dismissed TT football player Nigel Bethel.

“Nothing I can say can truly repair the harm I have already caused. I did not represent the Double T like I am supposed to and I promise to hold myself to a higher standard from here on.”

Again, I point out that “Texas Tech Athletics does not tolerate violence against women.” Greatly appreciated. Even more appreciated would be: “Texas Tech Athletics does not tolerate violence against people.”

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Here in Omaha at a conference and the folks I’m sharing my lovely student housing with are from there. I got it — with a syllable missing, granted —  but the folks I was speaking with were impressed nonetheless. See, women’s basketball is a multi-purpose tool!

*ooooo! Sun shower in Omaha!*

Prepping for my presentation tomorrow with my two friends….

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But, that doesn’t mean I don’t have time to wonder if Skylar is bucking for MVP.

If Catch is going to come back.

If Chicago is doomed without the Donne.

If Anne Donovan is bucking for COY  — tonight notwithstanding. Or this news: Danielle McCray has undergone a surgery to repair a torn ligament in her thumb.

If the Dream are going to become a reality or go “poof!”

If Phoenix can continue their rebirth and truly challenge Minnesota (we see you Penny Taylor).

In other news:

Not good news for coach Curry: Alabama women’s basketball’s top returning scorer granted release.

Good news from a former Maine Bear: Blodgett named BU women’s basketball assistant coach

Speaking of Nebraska (Lincoln, though): NU Women’s Basketball Returns To Devaney Center For One Game

The Nebraska women’s basketball team plans to honor its first NCAA Tournament team when the Huskers return to the Bob Devaney Sports Center to take on Utah on Sunday, Nov. 23.

The game, which was announced by Nebraska on June 25, will mark the Huskers’ first game at the Devaney Center since moving into their new home at Pinnacle Bank Arena for the start of the 2013-14 season.

And yes, that was Gary Harris, Son of WNBA Great Joy Holmes-Harris, who was Drafted 19th Overall in the 2014 NBA Draft

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I don’t really pay the WNBA pre-season much mind since folks are still abroad and the games are full of names we won’t hear come opening night.

But, this totally stinks: Jeanette Pohlen to Miss 2014 WNBA Season with Torn Achilles Tendon

Hope springs eternal: Revamped Sun, Hoping to Put 2013 Behind, Prepare For Liberty Exhibition

Video: Beyond the Beat – Donovan and Chiney

Noise maker: Follow the leader: Lynx’s Moore becoming more vocal

Video: Old Friends, Together Again (Hartley/Dolson)

The Bun is back in the Land of the Sun and  Training Camp: The “Most Aggressive Thing”

Every team constantly works on their defense throughout the year.

The difference, however, is how they do so.

In Sandy Brondello’s system, working on defense begins with the absolute smallest of details. From the angle the players have their feet planted to how to properly work around pick-and-rolls from various locations on the floor, Brondello wants the Mercury to be aggressive (but smart) on the defensive end.

In Atlanta, it’s Shoni time!

Soon after the Atlanta Dream selected Shoni Schimmel with the No. 8 overall pick in the WNBA draft, coach

Michael Cooper had a conversation with his new guard.

“This is where you’re going to be ‘Showtime’ Schimmel,” Cooper said.

In college news, Kelly’s back! Purdue Women’s Basketball Adds Komara to Women’s Basketball Staff

Good news: UNC women’s basketball coach Hatchell completes treatment

History on display: Beaded dress from Fort Shaw Indian women’s basketball team unveiled at UM

The blue-beaded ceremonial dress has spent the past century in Beverly Braig’s home, reminding her of the woman who wore it during halftime fundraisers at the turn of the 20th century.

While Braig never met her basketball-playing grandmother, Emma Sansaver, her beaded dress has become something of a legend, remembering one of Montana’s greatest athletic achievements and moments of human triumph.

“She was on the world championship Indian women’s basketball team at Fort Shaw that played in the St. Louis World’s Fair,” Braig said. “My hope is that Emma’s dress will cause a conversation that will be a positive influence on Native students, especially women.

And, what! You’ve not read Full Court Quest. For shaaaaaame!

Clay Evans at the Daily Camera writes: What it’s like to be a gay athlete in Boulder

Read literally, some well-known passages in both the Hebrew Bible and New Testament condemn homosexuality (though the Gospel accounts ignore the issue entirely and, curiously, female homosexuality goes unmentioned.) And certainly, homosexuals have been persecuted throughout history (with exceptions; men and boys had sexual relationships in ancient Greece, for example).

But in proportion to other admonitions and calls to action — think, “Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself” — the issue doesn’t seem have the scaffolding to bear the hefty political and religious weight it has assumed in America. That is, no doubt, partly a continuing conservative reaction against changes wrought in the libertine 1960s, and as any minority presses forward, opposition will always rise.

It’s difficult not to think about that larger picture when reading former CU women’s basketball player Kate Fagan’s fast-paced new memoir, “The Reappearing Act: Coming Out as Gay on a College Basketball Team Led by Born-Again Christians.”

What? You’ve not read “The Reappearing Act: Coming Out as Gay on a College Basketball Team Led by Born-Again Christians.” Look deep into my disapproving eyes!

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While “Trader Joooooeeee, Trader Joe” was running through my head at the Tina Charles-to-NY news, other actions just made me shake my head. Truly, it’s going to be an interesting season in the W as all these moves shake out.

Now, time for folks to try and anticipate what it will all mean.

Swish Appeal’s Lee is breaking down the Washington Mystics’ Draft Night and the Crystal Langhorne trade

On the same night when the Washington Wizards soundly defeated the Miami Heat, 114-93 at Verizon Center, Mike Thibault and his staff were in the same building, busy at work trying to improve the Mystics for the future. In a video interview with Monumental Network’s Casey Phillips which you can see above (click here for the video if you cannot see the embed above), Thibault gives his breakdown of what their first round draft pick, Stefanie Dolson, and their acquisition of Bria Hartley and Tianna Hawkinsbring to D.C. this summer.

From Nate: Connecticut selects Chiney Ogwumike first overall

More from Lee: New York Liberty acquires Tina Charles and Tim adds, Sun trade former MVP Charles to Liberty, select Ogwumike No. 1 in 2014 WNBA Draft

Pre-draft, they had  their WNBA draft: Top prospects by tiers

Finding the right comparison for Alyssa Thomas

WNBA draft profile: How good can McBride become?

and WNBA draft profile: Shoni Schimmel, Louisville

Finally, just in case you’re still looking,  here are the 2014 WNBA Draft recap: Top undrafted players

At Full Court, Lee Michaelson wonders, Could Gray be the steal of the 2014 WNBA Draft? and discusses Bria Hartley’s brief tenure with the Seattle Storm

At ESPN, it’s Kate Fagan writing: Chiney follows in Nneka’s footsteps – Stanford star drafted No. 1, two years after older Ogwumike was picked first by L.A

Mechelle had her red pen out: Draft grades: East leads the way

The Western Conference has tended to grab a lot of the headlines in the WNBA and currently boasts the defending champion — and still formidable — Minnesota Lynx. But at Monday’s WNBA draft, most of the intrigue came in the Eastern Conference.

That involved both veterans and draftees finding new homes. None bigger than Connecticut’s Tina Charles — the 2012 MVP — who is going to New York, her hometown. This was a move the Sun said Charles forced, and it added to the youth movement at Connecticut.

Want video? Here ya go:

I’m sure Richard in England stayed up way too late and is, at this very moment, working up his assessment of the draft. Until that is posted, you’ll have to make due with this: WNBAlien Special – Grading the Trade: Three-way deal sends Lawson to D.C., Bentley to Connecticut, and confusion to Atlanta (with Matee Ajavon)

USA Today did some stuff on the draft, too: Behind the scenes with Chiney Ogwumike, the WNBA’s top draft pick

Before getting primped for the night, Chiney relaxes on a couch overlooking ESPN’s draft setup with Baylor point guard Odyssey Sims, who was taken No. 2 by the Tulsa Shock.

They talk about all the things they’ll do once they’re in the WNBA, like putting their paychecks into their savings account and changing their eating habits.

“You can eat what you want, just in moderation,” Chiney said. “Do you cook?”

“Yeah, but it takes too long,” Sims replied. “When I’m hungry, I’m hungry.” They both laugh.

“I’m right there with you,” Chiney said.

Later, after the two were selected 1-2, they hug each other in the hallway outside the draft set. Sims sheds a few tears.

From other folks:

Sun Draft Chiney Ogwumike, Then Trade Tina Charles To Liberty, Courant
Jeff Jacobs: Bitterness Is In The Air With Tina Charles’ Departure Courant

This is a total face-lift, a total eclipse of the Sun. Yet before UConn fans and Sun fans go crazy about Connecticut’s WNBA team trading away one of the greatest players in State U. history, a league MVP only two years ago, this much you should know:

Tina Charles refused to play for the Sun anymore.

“We were told [by Charles’ agent] that if she was not traded, she would sit out,” Mohegan Sun CEO Mitchell Etess said Monday night after the Sun sent Charles, 25, a restricted free agent, to the New York Liberty for Alyssa Thomas, Kelsey Bone and the 2015 No. 1 pick.

WNBA draft: Dolson to Mystics, Hartley to Storm, Post

UConn’s Dolson, Hartley picked back-to-back in WNBA Draft first round, Register
UConn’s Dolson, Hartley will be WNBA teammates, Register
Dolson, Hartley To Play Together For Mystics, Courant
Dolson and Hartley to be teammates again in Washington, Daily Campus


WNBA Draft Facts, Figures, Courant
Pictures: UConn’s Presences In The WNBA, Past, Present, Future, Courant

Maryland’s Alyssa Thomas goes No. 4 in WNBA draft; Washington Mystics take U-Conn.’s Stefanie Dolson, trade Crystal Langhorne, Washington Post

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51: The number of  points scored by Riquna Williams to set a new WNBA record. (+0: The number of OT’s she needed to set it.)

40: The minutes played by Chicago’s bench against Washington.

28: The number of turnovers committed by Phoenix in their 8pt win over the Dream.

9: The number of years in a row Indy has reached the postseason.

6: The winning streak the Lynx are on.

2: The number of women enshrined into the Naismith Hall of Fame. Congrats to coach Hatchell and Staley.

1: The number of articles written about how, with Tina sitting for the rest of the season, it’s clear that the Sun are tanking to either 1) increase their chances at the #1 pick or 2) increase their leverage in case of a Tina trade.

0: The number of times the USA Women’s Basketball Senior National Team has had the same coach in back-to-back Olympics.

And it has to matter to you. That might seem automatic: Who doesn’t want to play in the Olympics? But the commitment for players is much more than that. It’s showing up for training camps even when they’re tired or have other things to do. It’s accepting whatever role they are assigned, even if that means being a WNBA superstar on the U.S. national team bench.

This is a mindset that has been passed down from players who are now retired to current standouts. And Auriemma, in taking another four-year term with USA Basketball, is setting the same example as a coach that he hopes to see in the upcoming generation of American young women playing this sport. Whether they attend UConn or anywhere else.

Best one-liner of the weekend: “It’s nice that he would sacrifice his golf game for the good of the country.” (If you can’t guess who said that, you’re no fan of women’s basketball. <g>)

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A while back, Joanne Lannin, author of “A History of Basketball for Girls and Women,” dropped me a note to give me a heads up.

1) She’s working on an updated version of the book

2) She’s also  working on a book about the pioneering spirit of women in basketball and would love to talk to folks who played the game before Title IX was enacted in 1972.

3) She’s started a blog: Finding a Way to Play. Check it out for pieces on Delle DonneShoni

Junior Shoni Schimmel lit up the NCAA women’s tournament last spring with her fearless, exhuberant play for the University of Louisville (that’s her trash-talking Britney Griner at left).By way of her ascent to the national stage, Schimmel has shone a light on the experience of females like her: Native American basketball players who are making a name for themselves beyond the reservation.

Goodrich

Angel, who was drafted 29th out of the University of Kansas, was not the first Native American to make it to the WNBA, but she is the first to crack a starting lineup. Ryneldi Becenti, a member of the Navajo tribe in Arizona, played one game for the Phoenix Sun in 1997 and Tahnee Robinson, a member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe in Wyoming, played exhibition games during the 2011 preseason for the Connecticut Sun before being cut.

To Native Americans — be they from the foothills of Oregon, the deserts of Arizona or the plains of Oklahoma — Goodrich’s rise to the elite women’s professional level, has been a break in the clouds after many years of playing in the shadows. The experience of Indian girls in some ways mirrored that of white girls, whose opportunities to play competitive basketball were hit or miss until the latter decades of the 20th century.

the fabulous Hazel Walker, and Coach Summitt.

Wait, you suddenly feel the urge to read up on your women’s basketball history? Check out the books on this list.

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Or, in this case, Chicago’s peril, ’cause yes, the WHBCurse seems to have come to roost in Chicago as the Sky lost Big Syl, then lost a lead, and then lost the game to the Storm. Oops.

With Sky center Sylvia Fowles out with an ankle injury, the Storm could put a lot of focus on defending Delle Donne. Seattle did that well, holding her to a season-low 12 points on 3-of-13 shooting. Sky guard Epiphanny Prince also felt the effects of the Seattle defense, going 3 of 9 from the field for 12 points.

The Storm were able to keep Delle Donne and Prince off-balance from the field without sending them to the line all that much. That was key, as they are exceptional free throw shooters, both better than 90 percent from the line this season.

Home sweet home, huh? While coach Ross is lobbying for all the playoff games to be held at Staples, (tsk, tsk LA Times) the Lynx are wondering “Wha Happen?”

14 NY turnovers lead to 21 Merc points…. and another Phoenix win.

For much of the Mercury’s season, it’s been Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner. Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi.

The talk has been about them off the court. So has the focus on it.

But don’t forget, the Mercury also have Candice Dupree, a three-time All-Star and DeWanna Bonner, who was second in the league in scoring last season.

The two made sure people remembered Tuesday night, scoring 20 points and grabbing seven rebounds apiece, in leading the Mercury to a 94-87 win over the New York Liberty.

A poor shooting Tulsa (even with Liz back) was just what the doctor ordered for Connecticut.

Any inspiration is happily accepted amid a losing streak, a three-week, four-game odyssey for the Connecticut Sun by Tuesday night. Which is why even though Sydney Carter, the little guard who did, posted more impressive numbers, her teammates chose to focus on the “two” under the category of “blocked shots.”

“Two blocked shots for Sydney Carter!” injured Sun guard Renee Montgomery said in the relieved locker room, perusing the post game stat sheet. “Dead serious.”

And, in case you didn’t catch my sarcasm yesterday: From the Day’s Mike DiMauro: ‘Three to See’ is generating interest among WNBA’s fans

A more cynical sort might dismiss Connecticut’s distaste for “three to see” by reasoning that none of the three hail from UConn, thus creating haughty disapproval. Maybe others here who have obtained a more global view could tolerate “three to see” if it didn’t have a flavor-of-the-month feel and if similar effort went into marketing those who came before them (Diana, Maya, Candace, etc.)

No matter our opinion about the “three to see,” though, we here in our state should be the first to admit that any marketing plan that moves the needle, especially outside Connecticut, is good for the game we love.

So now we propose the following question:

What if “three to see” is actually working?

“To wit”, as the All-Star Voting early tallies comes in, look who’s leading: EDD

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The Prince-less Sky fall to the undermanned SASS. (Perhaps Tony Parker inspired them?). ESPN’s headline highlight’s EDD, and for good reason: she battled the classically physical vet Delisha Milton-Jones and still managed a nice line: 17 Pts, 6 Reb, 1 Ast, 4 Blk

Snap judgment: Dan Hughes, COY.

The more undermanned Sun (add Lawson to the DNP list) were outscored in the final quarter by 11, and Mike T and his Mystics team left Connecticut with the win (and a standing ovation).

Snap judgment: All these injuries are making me feel like it’s September, not June. If folks get healthy, this really may be a tale of two season halves.

The soon-to-be more undermanned Liberty (fingers are crossed that Carson’s knee injury is a bad sprain) went down to Georgia and got spanked by the Dream, 75-56.

Snap judgment: Yes, the Dream are 4-0, but look at who’ve they played (and are going to play). It’s not until July 9th that they’ll get a real test.

Wig and Dig are still shooting like figs, but Seattle was equally putrid from three-point land. End result, Tulsa gets their first win. (They gotta win at home, though!).

Snap judgment: Yes, if you’re the Storm, this season may mean you live and die by the three, but how does a team come out “flat?” Not okay.

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Have you done your homework?

From Full Court

Clay: Team plus talent will win the West

Teams are more than talent.

Sure, a supremely talented group of players can overwhelm a roster with significantly lesser ability, but when two talented groups go head-to-head, “team” becomes more important.

In the competitive Western Conference, there are three very talented rosters, but only one has the balance that comes when ability matches position, when options are many and holes are few. That roster belongs to Minnesota, which is why the preview begins with …

The Sparks are set to catch fire

Seattle must weather an injury storm

WNBA Preview: Is there a beast in the East?

Ever since Dick Vitale high-volumed his way onto a TV screen, American sports fans have listened to a host of commentators talk about coaches as if they were players. “Rick Pitino sure shut down Trey Burke in this one,” an announcer will intone, as if Pitino were out on the court personally shadowing Burke.

In truth, of course, Pitino could have had the greatest strategy in the world, but if his players didn’t have the talent to execute it, it wouldn’t matter. Or, to put it another way, coaching IQ directly correlates with player talent.

Sun shake it up — but did they really need to?

The Dream might miss the point

And this cool little review: Once upon a jersey: The evolution of sponsorship in the WNBA

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, names were everything.If that play was a basketball game, and one team was the Montagues and the other the Capulets, the name splashed on the jersey would be an honor for the players to display and each fan to behold. The names of the teams (families) in this game would represent a bitter rivalry between sworn enemies, and would contribute to a competitive matchup.

The only difference here is that, unlike in the play, this basketball game would not end with the key players dying by suicide. (And I for one would like to keep it that way.)

From ESPN

Michelle says: Pondexter among MVP candidates

Mechelle writes: Defending champ back for more

On May 31, the Indiana Fever will unveil their WNBA championship banner and receive their rings. There were some times over the winter months when Fever president and general manager Kelly Krauskopf checked the WNBA website and once again had a feeling of amazement that these things were going to happen.

“I’d see, ‘Get your Fever 2012 WNBA championship gear here.’ And I’d think, ‘Wow, that’s us,'” Krauskopf said. “Then you start reflecting on the journey it is to get there — all the years, tweaking the roster, everything the team went through. When we started the playoffs badly against Atlanta, when Katie [Douglas] went down in Connecticut. That whole journey makes it more special.”

It’s a lengthy path that, for Krauskopf, reaches way back to 1999, when she was named chief operating officer of the expansion Fever.

Michelle asks: Is Harding L.A.’s missing piece?

Speaking of missing, Michelle knows the Storm will have new look in 2013

“We’ve played a lot of games since I’ve been here without Lauren,” Storm coach Brian Agler said, referring to the fact that Jackson hasn’t played a full season for the Storm since 2010 because of injuries and the 2012 Olympic break. “Not that we enjoy it, but we have a good feel for how that is … We haven’t played many games without Sue.”

Mechelle knows Mike T is Ready to resurrect the Mystics

She also is aware that the Plot thickens as 2013 season nears

Last week, women’s basketball Twitter queen Skylar Diggins sent out a short, perfectly apt tweet. It was in response to a big surprise with her new team, the Tulsa Shock, but it could apply to the entire WNBA season, which officially starts this week.

 “The plot thickens …” was @SkyDigg4’s comment. And indeed, there are a lot of storylines to follow, many of which could — and probably will — impact who we see in October battling for the WNBA championship.

With their

WEST BREAKDOWNS

and

EAST BREAKDOWNS

it’s Prediction Time! Which team will win the East? and Which team will win the West? and the crew offers their 2013 WNBA season predictions

The AP Mystery Writer says Strong offseason, filled with major moves, raises the WNBA bar for the Tulsa Shock

Are the pieces finally falling in place for the Tulsa Shock?

Time will tell, but if the preseason prognostications of the league’s general managers are any indication, Tulsa finally looks like a playoff contender. A survey found the Shock as the WNBA’s most improved team.

The AP’s John Marshall wonders: Is this the beginning of The Brittney Griner Era?

AP Mystery Writer deux is in Texas and offers this: Steady and sure, Silver Stars — one of the WNBA’s most consistent clubs — slide into new year

AP Mystery Writer trois is covering Chicago: Sky is the limit for Chicago, Delle Donne as WNBA team hopes to turn tide in 2013

APMW4 is California Dreaming: Candace Parker resumes chase for her 1st WNBA title with LA Sparks

Candace Parker is ready to resume her pursuit of the only major title to elude the basketball star in her career.

She wants a WNBA championship to add to her two Olympic gold medals and two NCAA championships at Tennessee. She even won a title with her Russian pro team during the offseason.

Parker thought the Los Angeles Sparks had the makings of a title team last year, but they came up short, getting swept in the Western Conference finals by Minnesota.

APMW5 is at the Casino: Connecticut Sun eyeing WNBA title with new head coach

Mike Thibault led Connecticut to two WNBA Finals in his decade as the team’s head coach, but never won a championship.

That will be Anne Donovan’s charge this season.

Connecticut fired Thibault and replaced him with the Hall of Fame standout in the offseason. The move came despite a year in which the Sun posted an East-best 25-9 record before losing to Indiana in the conference championship series.

“Usually, when you’re taking over a team, you’re restructuring, you’re tearing it down, you’re building it up again,” said Donovan, who won a WNBA title as coach of Seattle in 2004, beating the Sun in the finals. “That’s certainly not the case here in Connecticut.

Randy Hill at Fox Sports South is wondering: Griner will be huge, but can she make WNBA big?

The arrival of Griner and two other gifted rookies – Skylar Diggins and Elena Delle Donne – has been offered in carefully rendered comparison to Magic Johnson and Larry Bird lifting the NBA profile in 1980.

That’s not excessive pressure, is it?

“I just learn to go with it,” Griner said of handling expectations. “I really haven’t had a problem with that.”

Sports Illustrated offers up this AP article: After finals loss, Minnesota Lynx hope for title finish in 2013

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve would find herself walking through the aisles at her grocery store this offseason when she would be recognized by a fan.

The ensuing conversation would occasionally catch her off guard. Often times instead of congratulations being extended for leading her team to a second straight WNBA finals, the most common question she got was, “What happened?”

After steamrolling through the regular season at 27-7 in pursuit of their second straight championship, the Lynx lost to Indiana in the finals. For a franchise that for years was a league doormat, the newfound expectations have been eye-opening.

From Scott Gleason at USA Today: WNBA hopes Brittney Griner, new logo are slam dunks

Change is coming to the WNBA.

That message is being emphatically emphasized in the upcoming season with a new logo featuring a player rising to the rim for a dunk.

Fittingly this summer, the 12-team league welcomes a rim-rising star who’s already generated an unmatched buzz before stepping out on the court for an official game.

Lois Elfman writes this for the Amsterdam Times: WNBA veterans joining coaching ranks with the Liberty women basketball team

This will be a New York Liberty season like no other, with All-WNBA First Team guard Cappie Pondexter playing alongside fellow WNBA champions Cheryl Ford and Katie Smith, as well as talented rookies Kelsey Bone and Toni Young.

The coaching staff is also unlike any the Liberty has had before. All four assistant coaches played for the Liberty at some point in their WNBA playing careers—Barbara Farris, Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Teresa Weatherspoon and Tamika Whitmore.

Now that the rosters are set, check out who’s in and who’s out.

Jayda writes: TV Alert: With rosters finalized, here’s where to watch the Storm and other WNBA teams

John Altavilla writes: Sun Goal This Season: Tighten Things

Keep up with the Fever with Kevin Messenger’s blog.

Over at Mel’s blog, it’s Mike Siroky’s SEC Report: Making The WNBA Season Opener Rosters

L’Alien is Back (and redesigned)! Priming for Opening Night in the WNBA: New Rules, a New Line, and Prediction Time

So What’s New?

Well if you’ve ended up here, you’re probably well aware of the ultra-hyped new rookie class that’s entering the league. They’re obviously new. We’ve also had coaching changes in New York, Connecticut and Washington since the end of last season. But you can read all about that and the various roster changes in the individual previews. What has the WNBA altered for 2013 on a more basic level?

Finally, a little audio: WomenSportsCentral – Link Brenda and Mechelle’s WNBA preview starts at 13:05 minute.

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At espnW (Hey, I gotta ask, do boys suffer from “stress sweat”?): Clarendon leaves leadership legacy – Cal’s success raises stock of WNBA draft hopeful

Layshia Clarendon watched intently as an inexperienced teammate dribbled the ball off her foot and out of bounds.

Sensing her frustration, Clarendon retrieved the orange and white basketball, offered an encouraging pat on the back and applauded loudly. The next time through, her teammate didn’t bobble even a single dribble.

This didn’t happen to one of Clarendon’s California teammates at this year’s Final Four in New Orleans, but rather to a young girl, no older than 4, at the WNBA’s annual pre-draft fitness day youth clinic Sunday at ESPN’s KidsCenter.

Two radically different venues, but with the same comfortable leader.

A little video preview of the draft with Swin. And, of course, there has to be a preview of the Best of the Rest.

A little W stuff:

From Ned at The Day: Donovan makes her transition to the Sun

On the West Coast, Jayda notes: Seattle Storm enters training camp with major roster issues

A couple of piece from the Courier Journal: Program-defining upset for Louisville women’s basketball: They’ll always have Baylor and What will Louisville women’s basketball team do for an encore? Outgrow Cinderella’s slipper

On paper it looks like a team that could make another Final Four trip.

“I’m really excited about that, but I’ve got to make sure my players understand that we just went on a pretty special run,” Walz said. “And if you’re going to sit here and think the same thing is going to happen without going back to work and getting better individually, it’s not going to happen.

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Asjha Jones to sit out WNBA season

*added* Danielle McCray may be out, too.

Speaking of open spots: I called it, just didn’t notice it while I was in Nebraska: A Penguin becomes a Bobcat (Bolden goes to Ohio)

Thanks to this Rebkell thread that updates coaching changes:

Filled 
1. Seton Hall – Anthony Bozzella (HC Iona)
2. Ohio – Bob Boldon (HC Youngstown State) 
3. Ole Miss – Matt Insell (AC Kentucky)
4. Columbia – Stephanie Glance (HC Illinois State) 
5. CS Fullerton – Daron Park (Former AC USC) 
6. Southern Illinois – Cindy Stein (Illinois Central College HC)
7. Towson – Niki Reid Geckeler (Howard HC)
8. UT-Pan American – Larry Tidwell (Lamar HC)

Open

1. UT-Arlington
2. Clemson
3. ETSU
4. Dartmouth
5. Jacksonville
6. Coastal Carolina
7. USC
8. Radford
9. South Alabama
10. Missouri State
11. Loyola (IL)
12. William & Mary
13. Ohio State
14. George Mason
15. St. Peter’s
16. Iona
17. NC State
18. UMBC
19. Incarnate Word
20. Youngstown State
21. Illinois State
22. Pittsburgh
23. Pepperdine
24. Howard
25. Miami (OH)
26. Lamar

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It’s about friggin’ time: Former Mystics coach Plank joins Dream staff

Like a fine wine… lordy: WNBA Liberty re-sign Essence Carson, sign Katie Smith

Cheers, mate! WNBA’s Sun signs British Olympian Leedham

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