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Which was the theme from last night’s Sun-Mercury game. What on earth is going on with Phoenix? How on earth could the game against a thoroughly depleted Connecticut have been so close? And, really, what amazing heart have the Connecticut players shown this year? No quit. Has anyone done more with less than Donovan? On the bright side: Who are the WNBA front-runners in Breanna Stewart sweepstakes?

Speakin’ of the Merc: Obama Trash-Talks Phoenix Over Beating Chicago Sky in WNBA Finals

Speakin’ of doing more with less: Playoff berth within reach for Vicki Baugh, Shock as Los Angeles Sparks visit

So, tonight the Garden hosts the two top seeds: Minnesota and *gulp* New York. Seems to me the storylines are: Are the Lib legit and are the Lynx Losin’ it?

Considering the Lynx (19-9) will enter Friday’s game at New York with the best record in the league, one could say that their issues are the equivalent of “first-world problems.” But there are reasonable concerns. When a team knows how good it can play and then falls short of that a few times, there is bound to be a little worry.

From the New York Post: Lots at stake when Liberty give MSG possible WNBA Finals preview

Who says Madison Square Garden goes dark in the summer?

On Friday night (7:30; MSG), the Garden will host a possible WNBA Finals preview, when the Eastern Conference-leading Liberty meet the Minnesota Lynx — the top team in the West — in a pivotal game considering how narrow New York’s lead is in the East.

From Doug: New York and Minnesota set for matchup of WNBA Conference leaders

Bill Laimbeer and Cheryl Reeve are downplaying the significance of Friday night’s game between the WNBA’s conference leaders.

As Minnesota’s coach put it, “it’s a chance to add another ‘W’ in the win column. There’s no championship being won. It’s just a chance to get better.”

Laimbeer also said that there’s no added meaning to the game besides a chance to further distance New York from the rest of the East.

“Every game is important this time of year,” the Liberty coach said.

It almost sounds as if the two longtime friends coordinated their answers.

From Hardwood Paroxysm: How the New York Liberty Became the WNBA’s Best Defense

Swish Appeal: What is the secret to the Liberty’s staggering success?

BTW: Be sure to follow  and tonight during vs. , when will be live from MSG.

.com: How Elena Delle Donne’s Spectacular 2015 Season Stacks Up in WNBA History

From USAToday: Meet the secret to Elena Delle Donne’s success

When Cappie Pondexter arrived at the Chicago Sky through an offseason trade, she didn’t only bring a veteran scorer who is deadly when given half a step to drive into the lane. She brought a new element to third-year star Elena Delle Donne’s game: A voice that’s in the WNBA MVP candidate’s ear – all of the time.

The voice is telling her to be there on help-side defense. To get a rebound and go and attack. The voice even provides in-game tips, like telling Delle Donne to use her pull-up jumper when she’s not getting calls at the rim.

From the San Antonio Current: Stars Guard Jia Perkins On Being A Baller – And Pro Mom 

It was clear early on that Jia Perkins would make her life all about basketball.

And after turning into a well-respected player at one the country’s women’s basketball powerhouse college teams, her chances to go pro looked real good.

Then, in her senior year, she got pregnant.

In her mind, the news surely meant that those chances of making it in the Women’s National Basketball League had dramatically dwindled. At best, she thought, she’d have to search out teams later for tryouts.

But it never came to that.

Swish Appeal: A Life Inspired: Jessica Breland’s heart-stirring ascension

ESPN: DeLisha Milton-Jones hits milestone, ready for more and the AJC:Milton-Jones ties mark as Dream win

DeLisha Milton-Jones has seen a lot in her 17 seasons in the WNBA. If the Dream keep playing the way they did in Tuesday’s 71-57 victory over Connecticut, she thinks they can make a push for the playoffs.

“We have the talent, we can score with anybody in this league,” said Jones, who tied Tina Thompson’s record Tuesday with her 496th appearance in a WNBA game. “When we execute our offense and hunker down defensively and execute our game plan, we have a very good chance of putting ourselves in position to have a playoff push.”

Ad on: The Iron Woman

With the exception of time off due to injuries—knee in 2004 and Achilles tendon in 2014—Milton-Jones has been a WNBA mainstay for 16 years.

“It takes a completely dedicated commitment to keeping yourself healthy and staying in optimal shape and having a huge passion to improve upon yourself every off season,” she says. “I don’t know if many people are committed to making that type of sacrifice.

.com: White’s Steady Leadership Guides Fever into WNBA Spotlight

White, who spent five seasons as a Fever player and eight years as a WNBA assistant, is expected to be a solid candidate for league Coach of the Year honors.

“If she’s not, I think people are undervaluing what she’s done here,” said Kelly Krauskopf, the Fever’s president and general manager. “I think what she has done is a phenomenal job for a first-year pro coach with a lot of high expectations.”

Speaking’ with Steph: Dishin & Swishin Podcast: White has Indiana in great position for a deep playoff run

Rob Knox: Chicago Rookie Betnijah Laney Out of Rutgers Enjoys Being a Student of the Game

Today’s Fast Break has their WNBA Hidden Gems: Impact 2nd-Round Picks in 2015

The second round of the WNBA Draft is what separates the die-hards from the casuals. With most of the superstar talent almost certainly off the board by the 13th pick, this is where WNBA GMs show what they’re made of. It’s also where avid fans of both the college and professional game eagerly comb through possible “sleeper picks,” hoping that their team will pick up an overlooked player who will blossom into a star.

There’s good reason for this. Going back as far as 2010, at least three players selected in the second round of each draft are still on a WNBA roster. Of those players, six have become All-Stars, and we’ll likely be seeing a pair of All-WNBA selections in Emma Meesseman and Alex Bentley (2013 draft) sooner rather than later.

While the 2015 WNBA Draft was predicted by analysts to be weaker than some of its predecessors, a case can be made that its talent was simply more spread out. Even though none of this year’s second-round picks have put up eye-popping per-game statistics, several of them have still made valuable contributions in their rookie seasons, and will now look to stick around and establish themselves as household names among the more casual WNBA fans. Let’s take a look at a group of 2015’s second-rounders who’ve made an impact this season.

NCAA:

Happy thoughts in Austin: With former Olympian as new assistant coach, Texas women’s basketball poses serious threat

South Carolina: Sarah Imovbioh wants to be a part of something special at USC

Kevin Slaughter and Will Griffin crossed paths due to basketball and their love for impacting kids in their respective communities. Slaughter, a proud South Philadelphian and former high school basketball standout, has been connected to the sport for years.

Griffin, a West Philadelphia native, is well known throughout the community for his work, specifically at Lea Cultural Recreation Center adjacent to Drexel University’s athletic fields.

Unfortunately, basketball is not the only thing that bonds to the two. Through their own personal encounters with tragedy, Slaughter and Griffin have been inspired to ensure the lives of their relatives are honored, using basketball as the means to celebrate and create awareness.

New Jersey: Life of Nazerah Bugg Remembered through Basketball Tournament

The first annual Nazerah’s Hoop Dreams All Girls Basketball Tournament held over the past weekend at Tyrone Collins Memorial Basketball Courts, concluded with hundreds of spectators.

Nazerah Bugg, 14, was a dedicated basketball player at Kennedy High School that was tragically shot and killed on Sept. 20, 2014 while leaving a local eatery place.

Jamal Ramsey from Nazerah’s Hoop Dreams Foundation stated, “We keep her name alive and do it for the community. This tragic event we turn it into a positive.”

Xavier, Mount St. Joseph to hold Lauren Hill Tipoff Classic

The legacy of Lauren Hill and the fight to raise funds for pediatric cancer will continue with an annual women’s basketball classic at Xavier.

Division I Xavier and Division III Mount St. Joseph will open their respective seasons Nov. 14 at Cintas Center in the first Lauren Hill Tipoff Classic.

Xavier hosts Evansville at 1 p.m. that Saturday, and Mount St. Joseph plays Hiram College 30 minutes after the first game’s conclusion. The doubleheader will be televised on FOX Sports Ohio.

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From Clay Kallam: The Lynx Can’t Defend? So What? – The Minnesota Lynx won’t have a hard time piling up the points.

At the end of the game, the team with the most points wins.

It doesn’t matter if the final is 83-81 or 63-61. It doesn’t matter if one team dives on the floor all the time, or screens out with the fervor of a Catholic arriving at Lourdes. It doesn’t matter if one team is filled with defensive demons, or if the coach is known for her elaborate rotations.

All that matters is who has the most points.

From Sam Riches: New Movie: Off the Rez – Another great hoops documentary from the creator of Through the Fire.

Shoni Schimmel streaks down the left side of the court, her long brown ponytail bouncing in the air behind her. At full speed, she uses her right hand to wrap the ball behind her back and through her legs, before gently laying it off the backboard with her left. Her defenders, now a few steps behind her, never stood a chance.

Schimmel is from the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Oregon. Situated a few miles outside of Pendleton and just north of the Blue Mountains; Umatilla is home to around three thousand Native Americans. For Shoni, it is also her proving ground. She plays ‘rez ball,’ a ferocious, attacking style of basketball, fueled by passion, creativity and relentless aggressiveness. It is this flare and fearlessness that has resulted in many declaring Schimmel the second coming of Pistol Pete Maravich. A comparison that, while initially seeming improbable, is startlingly accurate

Other articles/reviews: New York Times and New York Post.

From Candice Wiggins: A WNBA Woman – The 15th year celebration of the WNBA comes at no better time.

When I was 6 years old, I was not even close to being good at basketball. I only scored 2 points the whole season (although my first rec team went undefeated and won the championship). Even though I was playing up against girls that were three and four years older than me (I was 5 turning 6, they were 8 and 9), I still wanted to be the best. But I wasn’t. That was when I first contracted what I now call my “competition sickness”. I had to be good, by any means necessary. Then, something ridiculous and partially unexplainable happened. I got GOOD the next season. Really good, to the point that I can still remember the moment I thought to myself as an 8 year old, “I’m good!” I believe that for me and for all great players “getting good” starts with having goals and then applying yourself. It took me countless hours of practice but I was dedicated. It was then a little hard for me to understand how good I truly wanted to be…I was at times even getting bored as a 9 and 10 year old, with high aspirations to be an Olympian like my ’96 Atlanta girls, but nothing really motivated me for the next four years, outside of college women’s basketball. Then suddenly my mom ran into my room and told me to turn on the TV.

“Look Candi, look who’s got next?!!!” It was 1997. The WNBA was launching.

From Delisha Milton-Jones: On Gratitude – The WNBA All-Star talks about the importance of giving back.


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The Sparks came off a big win on Thursday night against San Antonio right into their fourth match-up against the best team in the league, the Seattle Storm.  It is hard to argue with the level of basketball Seattle is playing. They have the best record in the league because they have earned it — playing consistently good team ball with a core that has been together for a couple of seasons and some great new additions this year.  Going into the game, I still felt that if we played our best basketball and they made some mistakes, we could have things go our way.  Although we did not continue our win streak — Seattle beat us 75-62 — I left the game feeling that we really competed hard. Seattle just didn’t make enough mistakes.

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Jayda’s got the Game Thread

BLOODY AGAIN: Last time it was Thompson blooding Jackson’s nose. Saturday contact with Milton-Jones has Jackson on the bench tending to a bloody nose. They slapped at each other after the initial hit, but play resumed at other end. No foul was called, just on Bird, who fouled intentionally to stop action so Jackson could gather herself. Storm up 27-16 at end of second quarter.

….and the post game:

What’s confusing is Milton-Jones. Jackson, who was diagnosed with a concussion after the game due to the first-quarter hit, called her a “thug.” Milton-Jones was oblivious to there even being a whack; just that she turned around and there was Jackson bent over bleeding. I thought I was going crazy, I wanted to go all Jill Zarin: “Let’s go to the tape!” Milton-Jones feels unfairly pegged by teams and officials while teams and fans continue to see her as a villain. It’s difficult to really go that route because she really turns on the southern charm postgame, but I see elbows, too. I see them from Jackson, too, but not as much this season. So, which is it?

and the game article Lauren Jackson takes a hit but Storm win again

“Every single game that we play against DeLisha, everyone knows she’s a thug,” said Jackson after the Storm defeated the Sparks 75-62 on Saturday. “It’s ridiculous to me, but whatever. On a bad day, I probably would have decked her back, but I don’t really care. I’m just happy we won.”

The Seattle Post Intelligencer chimes in (Storm stop Sparks 75-62 for sixth straight win) and Laura Myers has the LA Times report: Poor shooting dooms Sparks against Seattle

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