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

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

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

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

Okay: Harry Potter and the WNBA Power Rankings cast

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

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

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

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

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

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

NCAA:

Carp: Tennessee loses Carter, Cooper for upcoming season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also: Seimone Augustus proud of WNBA player activism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sign me up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Players even took notice.

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

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

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

Not. Okay. SO not okay.

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

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

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

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

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

From Jeff Metcalfe: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fever: USC’s Mitchell thriving in WNBA

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

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

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

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

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

LaChina’s Podcast: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NCAA: 

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

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

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

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

Congrats:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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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Dishin’ and Swishin’ podcast: ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel shares early WNBA thoughts

Doug Robinson, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Dream’s two vets not giving up on title

Breanna Stewart’s Debut Ranks Among Best in WNBA History

Rookie Report: First WNBA Memories and As Former UConn Teammates Become Opponents, Friendship Remains Strong

Aussies in WNBA: Phillips and Taylor find form

Ah, the life of a rookie post: Imani Boyette

D-N-P. Three letters no baller can ever ignore. Ever.

For those of you who don’t know what DNP means. It’s “did not play”. Now, for the record, “did not play” is different from INJ, which would mean I was injured. No shame in not playing because you’re injured.

But I’M HEALTHY, PEOPLE!

Phoenix Mercury kicks off 20th season, works to draw young fans

If you need an “assist” keeping the kids busy this summer, the Phoenix Mercury is ready to help.

The WNBA team’s lineup, with a home opener on Friday, May 20, will include lots of things for the youngest fans to do both on and off the court.

Vince Kozar, the team’s vice president of business operations, says a Mercury game makes for a great family outing. “I think a two-hour basketball game with entertainment during time-outs, music all the time and other options is ideal,” he says.

Percy Allen at the Seattle Times: Jenny Boucek says Storm’s identity ‘still unfolding’

“It wouldn’t necessarily surprise me to hear some differing opinions about our identity, because we haven’t talked a lot about that,” second-year coach Jenny Boucek said. “I don’t want to determine their identity. They have to grow up into it. I’m not trying to change people or this team. It’s still unfolding before us.

“It’s like a baby. You don’t know how exactly they’re going to look like, how tall they’re going to be and what their exact gifts are going to be. You start to get a sense when they’re young, but it’s still part of the growth process.”

WNBA now has the best Wings in Dallas

Games:

It was in their grasp, then Jewell Loyd’s Game Winner, Career-High 30 Points Lifted Storm Over Mercury. Also, Breanna Stewart earns first WNBA win with double double in Phoenix

Mystics are a mess and got mauled by Toliver and the Sparks.

It’s tough to find things to praise after a game like this, but guard Bria Hartley deserves some. Starting in place of Natasha Cloud (illness), Hartley put together one of her better performances as a facilitator, dishing seven assists to just one turnover in 25 minutes of play. Historically more of a scoring combo guard, Mystics fans should be excited to see Hartley’s development as a playmaker for others.

Indiana ignored the excitement around Stephanie maybe going to Vanderbilt, came out focused and topped the Dream.

NCAA

Ron Higgins, Nola.com: Sagging LSU women’s basketball program gets a positive injection hiring assistant Mickie DeMoss

Well, hello! Abi Olajuwon named EMU women’s basketball assistant coach

And welcome: Cheryl Miller to coach women’s basketball at Cal State LA

The handover: Buscaglias become synonymous with Robert Morris women’s basketball program

Susie Gardner looks ahead to key summer for Mercer women’s basketball

WATN? Former WNBA first round pick Ta’Shia Phillips added to Indianapolis women’s basketball staff

You say Hello, we say goodbye? Stephanie White Over the Years

High School

DOH! Lakewood Ranch cited for rules violations by girls basketball coach Tina Hadley

Lakewood Ranch High School has been cited for conducting illegal practices with its highly successful girls basketball program, putting the school on probation for a year. It also could be fined more than $30,000.

International:

Optimism Abound as Canada Preps for Training Camp and Thornhill resident plays key supporting role in Canadian women’s basketball success

USA Basketball:

The game times for the Olympic basketball competition were released today. The entire schedule can be found via this link. The USA women’s team game schedule is as follows (note the times below are listed EDT/local). All the games will be televised and/or streamed live on one of the NBC platforms. Specific network information will come at a later date.

Sunday, Aug. 7 

11 am/12 pm vs. Senegal

 

Monday, Aug. 8 

11 am/12 pm vs. Olympic Qualifying Tournament 4th-ranked team

 

Wednesday, Aug. 10 

2:30 pm/3:30 pm vs. Serbia

 

Friday, Aug. 12 

2:30 pm/3:30 pm vs. Canada

 

Sunday. Aug. 14 

11:15 am/12:15 pm vs. Olympic Qualifying Tournament 2nd-ranked team

 

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“Weeeee are the Champions.” (What, too soon?) Lynx’s ‘fast start’ overwhelm Sky in Delle Donne’s returnFowles scores 24 against former team; Lynx beat Sky 97-80In First Game Against Former Team, Sylvia Fowles Joins Elite Company

Elena Delle Donne may be the face of the Sky. But when it comes to the franchise’s voice, that is all Cappie Pondexter.Chicago Sun-Times: Pondexter lends voice, veteran leadership to Sky

 The 10-year veteran has no trouble being the Sky’s resident vocal leader, but after a disappointing loss in last season’s WNBA Eastern Conference semifinals, Pondexter is done mincing words.

Make no mistake. This is Tamika Catchings’ team.

It is also Marissa Coleman’s team, and Shenise Johnson’s team, and Erlana Larkins’ team … and who knew it could be Erica Wheeler’s team while she fills in for point guard Briann January?

“It could be anybody’s night on any given night,” Coleman said.

That was never more true of the Indiana Fever than on Wednesday night.

Three of the first four possessions for the Washington Mystics in their game against the Dallas Wings on Wednesday night resulted in turnovers. The other produced a missed layup. Coach Mike Thibault was, to say the least, displeased.

The frustration didn’t end with just his players though. The officiating also provoked Thibault’s ire to the point he walked past halfcourt at Verizon Center midway through the first quarter and shouted to referee Sue Blauch: “Give me a technical now.”

 Phew! Sun get first win of season, 72-68 at Stars and Bone spurs Sun past San Antonio.
It’s gonna be tough in San Antonio this year….

While the world rightfully continues to go bonkers over “Hamilton,” I’ve recently found myself pleasantly lost in the past with another Broadway smash hit. The nearly 40-year-old — can it be? — “Annie.”

This was prompted by my nephew playing Oliver Warbucks in his high school’s production. It reminded me of how great a musical this is, even when performed by theater novices (including, in this case, a Harlequin Great Dane named Waffle in the role of Sandy.)

Now, just hang with me; we’re getting to the WNBA, with its 20th season just launched.

 

If Candace Parker was looking to make a point, she made it all right. Thirty-four times, in fact.

The question isn’t whether Parker was trying to make a statement Sunday with her 34-point effort in Los Angeles’ 96-66 win over Seattle at Staples Center. The question is, which statement was it?

Was it a message to USA Basketball that despite not being selected to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team that she is still on a short list of best players in the world?

Was it a reminder to the WNBA that the two-time MVP is as dangerous as ever and prepared to dish it out over an entire season after taking half of last season off?

WNBA STAR TINA CHARLES ON HOW STRONG, SUPPORTIVE WOMEN HELPED HER SUCCEED

Why are you excited to participate in She’s On Point?

For me, a lot of it was about giving back to Karen Pedrosa [who was the park manager at the time]. She was always keeping Roberto Clemente open late so we were able to scrimmage against the guys. She would travel with us to the AAU [Amateur Athletic Union] games. She’s just an awesome individual. She’s the Deputy Chief of Bronx Recreation now, and it’s a testament to the impact she’s had on the community.

UConn women’s basketball legend Bird wants to end career on her terms

When she re-signed with Seattle in the offseason, Bird made certain she had a multi-year deal. She didn’t want her contract status to determine when the final year of her career arrives.

“Truthfully, the way I view it is a one-year plan. Everybody has their own (way). Tamika Catchings is an example of somebody who announced her retirement early. Then Ray Allen is somebody I communicate with and he is somebody that never announced it. Just stopped. But that was what was right for him,” Bird said.

“I think every player when it comes to their retirement only knows how they are going to feel and how they want to do it. And right now what is working for me in my own little mind is a one-year plan.

LaChina and Carolyn Podcast: We’re Back…For The WNBA

From Charles Hallman: A ‘simple’ job: Marketing the WNBA 

Last Saturday night, after she handed the Minnesota Lynx players and coaches their 2015 championship rings, Borders worked the “room” where nearly 10,000 people were in attendance for the team’s season opener. Madame President earlier told the MSR, “I am the number-one salesperson for the WNBA. That is absolutely true.”

She heads a league that is celebrating 20 years, but to too many eyes — media, Joe Rockhead males and others — it has been 19 years too long. “We are 20 years old, which is remarkable by any standard,” continued Borders. “But we are just getting started. We’re young and nimble.”

The president and this reporter briefly touched upon several topics:

USA Today’s Nina Mandell: Retired WNBA star Katie Smith wants to leave lasting legacy on women’s game as a coach

Long before Katie Smith, a 17-year veteran of the WNBA, knew she was going to become a coach there was no shortage of coaches who told her she would join their ranks one day.

“I’ll say it right in front of her,” Mystics coach Mike Thibault said, walking by Smith as his team prepared to play the New York Liberty, where Smith was promoted to associate head coach this season. “I told her she was going to be a coach and she said no. Years ago when I coached USA Basketball, I said, ‘You know you’re going to end up being a coach.’”

Smith replied that she was going to go to dental school or do something else, but Thibault wouldn’t listen. 

NCAA

NCAA.com Rules group pleased with state of the game

[Use of technology and other] areas the Women’s Basketball Rules Committee will continue to study and discuss include:

  • Widening of the lane from 12 feet to 16 feet.
  • Moving the restricted-area arc to 4 feet from 3 feet.
  • Moving the 3-point line from 20 feet, 9 inches to the international distance of 22-1.
  • Deterring players from faking fouls. A warning would be issued on the first offense, followed by a technical foul on subsequent offenses.
  • In free throw situations, teams would be allowed to substitute only before or after the foul shots are taken. There would be no substitutions allowed in between the two or three free throws.

You stay put: Scott Rueck signed a two-year contract extension

WATN? Langston University hires Elaine Powell to replace Cheryl Miller as head coach

LADY VOLS ADD JUCO STAR – London Native Cheridene Green Becomes Lady Vols’ First International Signee . This calls for a flashback: Junior Colleges: Where Opportunities Knock – November 2007

Last season Shannon Bobbitt (Trinity Valley Community College) and Alberta Auguste (Central Florida Community College) became the University of Tennessee’s first junior college signees since – well most couldn’t remember when last it happened. (1977, by the way.) How’d it work out? Just ask Middle Tennessee State coach Rick Insell.

“First time ever Pat took two [Junior College] kids and what happens? She wins a National Championship. Did those kids play a major part in them winning that? Absolutely. Would she have won it without them? Who knows?”

“But she won it with them.”

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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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with a little somethin’ somethin’ first.

From the Player’s Tribune: Lisa Leslie

I thought I retired from basketball in 1996.

Once I played on the Olympic team that year and we won gold, I was done. No overseas hoops. Nothing. I signed a contract with Wilhelmina Models, came up to New York and tried to start modeling — doing some shows, going on auditions … mostly getting rejected for being too tall. But as for basketball? Those days were pretty much over.

I had mostly given up on the game because my dream of playing couldn’t go any further. Past the Olympics, there just wasn’t any real opportunity — in my mind — for me to play for a long time in the U.S. At the same time, there were talks of starting the American Basketball League for women to play professionally, but I opted out because it didn’t have the support of the NBA. And I didn’t want to play in Europe, which was really the only other option.

I needed to put basketball behind me. I felt like I had to make a decision and I couldn’t wait around any longer. I couldn’t keep feeling like I was standing on the sidelines, waiting for my name to be called, only to hear the buzzer go off before I got a chance to play. I moved on.

But then I got a call the following January …

Audio: Brittney Griner and Stefanie Dolson join the Trifecta: What Can The WNBA Do?

Excelle: WNBA CONFIDENTIAL: We are living in the Maya Moore Era

In the days leading up to the 20th WNBA season, there’s been a great deal of talk about Breanna Stewart as the new face of the league. Much of the 2015 narrative centered around Elena Delle Donne and her historic season, and don’t expect her to recede in the public eye as she builds on it while playing for a gold medal in Rio this summer. Brittney Griner, too, always draws attention (and found herself in a recent ESPN SportsCenter ad), while Skyler Diggins is returning from a knee injury with a massive social media following and a new level of play she reachedlast year that she believes is a permanent new state.

All of these stars deserve attention. But any sober, clear-eyed analysis of where the WNBA stands at this moment, an evaluation of the current state of the league, only provides one conclusion.

This is the Maya Moore Era.

Sports Illustrated WNBA’s Maya Moore talks season, Rio Olympics and Jordan Brand

The LA Times notices the Sparks: Sparks begin WNBA season with high hopes, and with Candace Parker back on full-time duty

In 2015, the Los Angeles Sparks made the playoffs for the fourth year in a row and for the eighth time in the last decade. But that’s not a realistic portrayal of how things really unfolded: They posted a 14-20 record (their fourth worst ever), and lost to the Minnesota Lynx in three games after sneaking into the postseason.

The Sparks begin their 2016 season Sunday against the Seattle Storm, and they’re counting on finding some consistency — a trait that eluded them for large portions of last season — to drive them back to winning ways.

The full-fledged return of Candace Parker should help.

Atlanta 11: Angel McCoughtry and the WNBA are ready for respect

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

The boys Sue Bird grew up with in Syosset all had their basketball dreams. They could pretend they were Michael Jordan or John Starks or Patrick Ewing. They could fantasize about one day wearing a Knicks uniform and being cheered by a packed house at Madison Square Garden.

“I didn’t have that,” said Bird, who is beginning her 14th WNBA season, all with the Seattle Storm. “There was no professional basketball for me in the United States when I was in grade school and middle school. I could look to the Olympics and college basketball, but that was only on TV for the Final Four. 

“The WNBA changed everything,” said Bird who starred at UConn. 

Kits Sun: Valavanis is the eye of the Storm

Team building and leadership started at home for Alisha Valavanis.

As one of six children, including two sets of identical twins, Valavanis developed skills that have carried through her athletic career and professional life.

She has used them on the basketball court to make shots, in the boardroom to make trades and in the community to make fans.

“From very early on, my family was our own little tribe and that helped shape how I value people and how I value connections,” Valavanis, 39, said. “It really shaped my personal journey and is at the center of who I am.”

Twin Cities: Minnesota Lynx’s Cheryl Reeve: WNBA has come a long way in 20 years

Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve entered the WNBA in 2001 as an assistant coach with the Charlotte Sting.

At that point the league was five years old, and at the end of each season for her first three or four years on the job, Reeve said a question presented itself.

“You had this moment where you didn’t know, were we still going to be here?” Reeve said, referring to the league’s fragile existence in its infant stages. “During that time you had teams that were losing millions of dollars.”

Reeve said the WNBA is now far past that point. It’s through the survival stage as the league celebrated the opening of its 20th season Saturday night when the Lynx hosted Phoenix at Target Center.

SlamOnline: Watch Them Work – The WNBA has never had more depth than now. What a great time to tune in.

 

The league’s list of high-profile players has never been short. Somewhere between Lisa Leslie catching her first poster and Maya Moore hitting that game-winner in last year’s finals, however, something changed. The national narrative shifted back to women’s basketball not being worth a man’s time. But there hasn’t been a better time than now to tune in.

“We have a lot of different types of women and players,” Mystics center Stefanie Dolson says. “We still have those superstars, like Diana, like Candace, they’re still in the game. Then you have a new generation of players coming in. Brittney Griner, Skylar, Elena. And then my class. In my class, we have some great personalities. We’re very skilled too.”

Damn skippy, Stef.

David Berri at VICE: HOW THE WNBA COMPARES TO OTHER SPORTS LEAGUES AT AGE 20

As the WNBA celebrates the tip off its 20th season this weekend, it’s easy for naysayers to paint a picture of a league that’s stagnant at best, and a NBA charity case at worst. After all, WBNA average per-game attendance last season was only 7,138—the lowest mark in league history, and well below the average per-game NBA draw of 17,849. Women’s professional basketball, this line of thinking goes, has had two decades to build a fan base and establish itself in America’s sporting consciousness. So why can’t it come close to the NBA?

Here’s the answer: that’s the wrong question. Or, more accurately, it’s the wrong comparison, and a misleading one

Yesterday’s games

No Diggins? No problem, the ageless Plenette Pierson is here! If you read the numbers, you’d think Indy won – but their defense was lacking and slow. Dallas shot 36 free throws. Sims shot for carp, but earned her living at the charity stripe. Nice production from Theresa Plaisance, too.

“We were more aggressive,” Pierson said of the last two quarters. “We started making shots, we got fouls called on them. That’s what helped us get the win.”

“I thought we took some early rushed shots,” Coach Fred Williams added. “But luckily tonight they went down for us and it’s not going to go that way ever game. I felt we have to get better at that end, be selective of taking quick shots, kind of work the ball around a little bit.”

No Delle Donne? No problem, the rest of the team (Pokey played 11) made Curt Miller’s W coaching debut miserable. Connecticut shot 33.8%. Yikes. At least Rachel Banham brought a little sunshine.

Well, this is a good sign.

The Chicago Sky got off on the right foot to start then season, and had to do so without its biggest star.

WNBA reigning most valuable player Elena Delle Donne was out with an illness (stomach virus) for the season opener on Saturday night, and yet the Chicago Sky managed to manhandle the visiting Connecticut Sun at Allstate Arena, 93-70.

Jayne’s last second shot carried the Stars into overtime, but the Dream made sure they secured the win in the extra minutes. McBride looks to have picked up where she left off last year, but there’s not much of a bench presence. For Atlanta, Layshia gave them some nice minutes, and Elizabeth Williams played 36… but I wonder about her 2-6 shooting.

“We fought,” Hughes said. “They were very coachable late, gave us a chance to win the game. We didn’t get it done in overtime. We’re a work in progress, but their spirit was good.”

When Tina and Sugar shoot 50%, Bill is happy – and the Liberty win. No surprise Shoni didn’t get in. Slightly surprised Adut didn’t. Auspicious opening game for Tayler Hill and Bria Hartleynot so much for Stef and Emma.

As the final horn sounded on the Washington Mystics’ 87-76 season-opening loss Saturday night, New York Liberty Coach Bill Laimbeer shook hands with his counterpart, Mike Thibault, and offered a few appropriate words of encouragement.

“Get healthy,” Laimbeer said.

Ah, being healthy is an amazing feeling. Stomping your press-anointed competition for the ’17 title is even better. Lynx rolled as the Merc’s defense let them shoot 54%. I do love the twitter conversation the two social media teams have, though. :-)

“It’s a good starting point for us in a really bad way,” Taurasi said. “We know what we have to get better at. The season isn’t made on 40 minutes, but the way we bounce back is going to say a lot about this team going forward.”

Hey – if you just scanned this page, do the game a favor – click on the links and read the full articles. Show the sports editors that people appreciate their coverage…

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’cause it’s the most wonderful time of the yeeeeeeear… Take a deep breath, y’all, shut the door and pull up a chair ’cause you’ve got a lot of reading to do!

First things first: WNIT!!
Saturday, April 2  |  3 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. CT
CBS Sports Network – Thad Anderson (play-by-play) and Chiney Ogwumike (analyst)

The finals are set and it pits two programs who’ve got something to prove (to the selection committee): South Dakota v. Florida Gulf Coast University.

The Coyotes earned a birth by throughly handling Oregon, 88-54.

DakotaDome’s long goodbye as a basketball facility will now officially be talked about for a very long time. The old gal just doesn’t want to give up on roundball just yet. USD will now play the winner of Michigan vs. Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday accompanied by a crowd expected to be bigger than Wednesday’s.

“Even when we were just warming up at 60 minutes (before the game), the people were filling in,” said Kelly Stewart, who was one of six Coyotes who hit double-figures. “Then every time we came out of the locker room there was more people. And finally, when we were about to do the starting lineups, I looked up and I got a huge smile on my face. Everyone was smiling.”

The Eagles took on Michigan in from of a record crowd, and came away with the 71-61 win.

“It was a great defensive effort against a great offensive team,” said head coach Karl Smesko. “Now we’re excited to get to play for the WNIT Championship. The crowd was exceptional tonight. It was a huge advantage for us to have it here with that type of atmosphere. I’m sure it’s the type of game that these players will remember for a long time.”

FYI: WNIT NOTES

-Minnesota’s Rachel Banham scored 48 points on March 16 to lead the Gophers to an 87-80 win over Milwaukee in Round 1. That set a Postseason WNIT record for most points in a game, surpassing Tamika Whitmore of Memphis (45 against Arkansas State, 1999). 

-Sharnae Lamar of Northern Iowa dished out 15 assists to set a single-game WNIT record in the team’s 64-58 victory over Drake, 64-58. 

-The 2016 title game between South Dakota and Florida Gulf Coast is the second time since 1998 that two mid-major programs have played for the Postseason crown. In 2004, Creighton beat UNLV for the title.

-Before 2016, there have been 13 mid-major teams to reach the Postseason WNIT championship game. The six mid-major champions are Creighton (2004), Missouri State (2005), Wyoming (2007), South Florida (2009), Toledo (2011) and Drexel (2013).

About that stuff happening in Indianapolis: FREE Women’s Final Four Activities

General:

Indianapolis set to be center of women’s basketball world

All of the women’s basketball world will descend on Indianapolis this weekend in a celebration of the sport.

For the first time in NCAA history the Division I, II and III women’s titles will be decided on the same court.

“We can’t wait for the 2016 championship games in Indianapolis,” NCAA vice president for women’s basketball Anucha Browne said.

Celebrating 35 Years of NCAA Women’s Basketball

Beth Mowins to replace Dave O’Brien as announcer in Final Four, first-time all-female crew for ESPN at event

Women’s basketball | Final Four: Three first-timers crash party with UConn

Meet the Women’s Final Four

Audio: ‘Around the Rim’: Final Four preview

Audio: Kara Lawson with SI’s Richard Deitsch

Audio: Sue Bird talks about the low pay for women’s professional basketball in the United States on this edition of our Keeping Score with Rick Horrow audio podcast

Audio: HBO and The Ringer’s Bill Simmons is joined by Diana Taurasi to discuss her WNBA return from Russia, UConn’s dominance (6:00), the stupidity of lowering the rims (13:00), GSW’s selflessness (16:30), playing pickup with Westbrook and Draymond (21:00), and the struggling Lakers and D’Angelo Russell (30:00).

Audio: Special Dishin & Swishin Podcast: “Ambassador” Tamika Catchings welcomes the WBB world to Indy

Audio: Dishin & Swishin 3/31/16 Podcast: Doug Bruno is back to break down the 2016 Final Four

Women’s NCAA tournament: Four keys to the Final Four

Women’s Final Four: Can Anyone Stop UConn?

At Women’s Final Four, male-coached teams not a bad thing

These Are The Last Three Teams That Have A Chance To Beat UConn

SNYDER: UConn overshadows parity among other women’s basketball teams

VanDerveer: UConn’s rule isn’t bad for the sport — but next year it could be

Jeff Jacobs: In Women’s Final Four, It’s The Men Who Beat The Odds

Jeff Jacobs: Think UConn’s Geno Auriemma Is A Rock? You Should Meet His Wife

Pac-12 Feature: From ground floor to Final Four

My turn: JUST CATCH UP

Washington:

How UW’s and OSU’s Final Four run is a breakthrough for Pac-12 women’s basketball

Pac-12 Feature: From ground floor to Final Four

7 things to know about Washington Huskies (Syracuse women’s basketball Final Four foe)

Meet the Final Four-bound UW Huskies women’s basketball team

Washington’s jump shooter doesn’t jump

HUSKIES WOMEN: Masters of the Unexpected

Four knee surgeries later, UW’s Walton unfazed by doubts

Mike Neighbors: From Blockbuster To The Final Four

Oregon State

Five questions for Beavers-Huskies

Washington and Oregon State new faces in Final Four

New to following Oregon State women’s basketball? Here’s a crash course on the Beavers

Oregon State Beavers women’s basketball blending intensity, playfulness during Final Four run

Final Four newcomer Oregon State scrappy on defense

Watch: Gary Andersen and Pat Casey on Oregon State

OSU dreams big, embraces Final Four berth

Watch: Oregon State women’s basketball Final Four appearance called ‘incredibly miraculous’

Can Oregon State Shock The World?

Rueck’s Beavers have big fans in OSU’s 1963 Final Four team

OSU has unfinished business in Final Four

Aki Hill and the bliss of the Final Four

Open tryouts to the Final Four: Oregon State’s dramatic rise

Syracuse:

Syracuse’s Hillsman, Read preparing carefully for Washington

Syracuse women’s basketball guard Alexis Peterson brims with confidence

Keep shooting: Syracuse women’s basketball senior Brianna Butler does what she’s told

Turning point for Syracuse women’s basketball this season began with a loss

Kayla Alexander: Syracuse Orange Nation on Cloud Nine

Syracuse women’s basketball center Briana Day: Bigger foes aren’t going to push me around

Go Orange! Syracuse men’s, women’s basketball teams head to Final Four

Connecticut:

Is UConn’s sustained dominance bad for women’s basketball?

UConn may be the greatest college basketball dynasty ever

Geno Auriemma: Having to defend success ‘makes no sense’

Geno: Ignore UConn Women If You Want, ‘But Don’t Demean Those Who Appreciate It’ –

Why the dominance of the U-Conn. women’s team should be embraced

UConn’s opponents need to step up their game

Jeff Otterbein: UConn Women Simply The Best, Just Watch And Learn To Live With It

Here are a few additional assignments for sports columnist

Fans appreciate greatness, even when the games aren’t close

Fans don’t agree with columnist who says Huskies are killing the game

UConn Women’s Basketball Team Confronts Consequences Of Being ‘Too Good’

UConn too good? Quit the whining, beat ’em!

Respect the Women!

Be Great. Don’t Apologize.

UConn women don’t find winning boring

UConn women should be respected

UConn can join a pair of 4-peat pioneers in women’s basketball

Connecticut poised to make history again

UConn making something hard look easy

Huskies closer to place no team has ever been

Freshmen provide Huskies with needed backup help

UConn freshmen stepping up in NCAA Tournament

Samuelson’s family is UConn women’s basketball’s family, too

Women’s basketball: Connecticut’s Breanna Stewart leads a star-studded Final Four

Other basketball news:

Rachel for threeeeee: Banham edges Smith in 3-point championship

Brava: Jennifer Azzi comes out as gay, announces marriage to her USF assistant coach

“I, too, lived a long time not being 100 percent honest,” Azzi said. “Kind of the don’t-ask-don’t-tell kinda of thing. And it’s so stupid. I don’t know why we do that, but we do that. I’m a college coach. Is it going to hurt me with recruiting? What are people going to think? And you are constantly worrying about those things.

Supporters laud Jennifer Azzi for her bravery – but you can read the fear…

New women’s basketball coach Kenny Brooks raves about recruiting potential at Virginia Tech

Jonathan Tsipis’ plan to grow Badgers women’s basketball attendance starts with being visible –

New UW women’s basketball coach wants to keep state’s best players

Tsipis tasked with turning tide for women’s hoops

Wisconsin Women’s Basketball: Tsipis’ energy stands out during initial meeting with team

Bradbury named UNM women basketball head coach

KSU Women’s Basketball Coach Agnus Berenato

Kim Rosamond named Tennessee Tech women’s basketball head coach

Finally poached: UCF announces Katie Abrahamson-Henderson as head coach of women’s basketball

Former UConn players apply Auriemma lessons as coaches

Bye: Jatarie White to transfer from USC women’s basketball program

Bye: Two leave Duke women’s basketball team

WNBA:

Updownup-down… honestly, I think the NBA should raise their rim. It’s ridiculous how easy it is for the giants who play the game to score…

Army brass supports Minato in WNBA bid

Jennifer Gish: The next goal for UAlbany’s Shereesha Richards — the WNBA

Lindsay Whalen Joins Timberwolves’ Broadcast Booth

Deep Diving WNBA Data — Griner’s Paint Defense

WNBA Award Accuracy by Win Shares

Girls Sports Month: Candace Parker on what drives her, dunking and being a mom

WNBA Reveals New Apparel Items Celebrating Landmark 20th Season

The Legend of Lauren Jackson

Cool: Boomers And Fire GMs Head To WNBA Again

Following on from a successful visit last year to work alongside management at the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA, the off-court leaders at the Deakin Melbourne Boomers and JCU Townsville Fire will again embrace a fact-finding mission in Los Angeles and Phoenix this June, this time taking in eight sporting events in 10 nights.

WNBA star Chamique Holdsclaw “hitting game-winning shots” on and off the court

In case you missed it: Blake Griffin’s ‘Broad City’ appearance included a discussion about the WNBA

OT, but not really: Nike responds to U.S. national team jersey controversy

The sportswear behemoth that has outfitted the national team program for decades has been hit especially hard on two issues.

First, with the women’s jerseys, the low-cut neckline has been called unnecessarily sexualizing by some fans, and simply inconvenient anatomically for others whose body shapes aren’t the same as the widely used industry standard.

Second, with the men’s jerseys, you can’t buy one emblazoned with the three stars that represent the World Cups won by the women’s team. There are plenty of men who support Jill Ellis’ reigning champions just as much as they support Jurgen Klinsmann’s collection of question marks.

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Well, crap: Knee injury ends season, collge career for Jillian Alleyne, Oregon Ducks star forward

Remember when IUPUI was really awful. Thursday, they took down the Wabbits. They get to play the Coyotes today….

For the first time in 25 games, Siena beat Marist.

SNICK. The C-USA got tight as Western Kentucky took care of Middle Tennessee, 62-51.

The WCC continues to be interesting: San Diego over Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s over Santa Clara.

#13 Stanford knocked the teeth outta the #7 Beavers, 76-54.

Princeton is licking their Ivy League championships chops: Cornell pulled off the stunner, topping Penn, 51-46.

Looking ahead to Saturday: 

#5 Ohio State v. #20 Michigan State. Can the Buckeyes recover their moxie? Can the Spartans get folks to believe in them?

Temple v. #21 USF. An Owl win could make the the NCAAs a realistic goal – which makes this news intriguing: Two players exit women’s basketball program

2nd place in the Horizon: Wright State v. Milwaukee

Always pay attention to the WCC: San Francisco will battle Saint Mary’s, BYU v. Gonzaga.

Big Sky is up for grabs: Idaho (12-3) v. Eastern Washington (12-3).

#22 Oklahoma State v. West Virginia. The Mountaineers have made enough noise to get the attention of the Selection Committee. Both teams are 10-6 in the Big 12. An upset would really seal the deal.

It’s a home game, so I don’t thing UTEP will be looking a head… ’cause the 49ers sure deserve their attention.

Senior Day at UConn prompts ESPN’s MC Barrett to ask: Is Breanna Stewart the best UConn player in history?

Harvey is back! (And writing long form) Breanna Stewart, UConn’s Wow Factor, Always Had a Sweep in Mind

With Auriemma’s standard roster of multipositional excellence beside her, Stewart has, in her time at Connecticut, indisputably qualified as one of those rare raise-the-bar talents. She has occasionally been heralded by pundits as potentially the best female player ever.

“And if you want to be considered that good, you’ve got to have those wow moments — in games, in practices,” Auriemma said. “Every day, Michael Jordan did something that made you say, What?”

That is what Auriemma believes Stewart is capable of on the women’s scale of athletic enhancement. And while he does not deal in ranking individuals across playing eras, given Connecticut’s parade of elite alumnae, he did offer contextual elaboration by recounting another of Stewart’s wow moments, from this season, one with a better result, if not a perfect one.

Sunday: 

Georgia Tennessee. A battle of unranked SEC teams will garner a lot of attention.

An interesting A-10 battle: Duquesne (13-2) v. St. Bonaventure (11-4)

Equally interesting battle between two 16-3 teams in MAAC: Quinnipiac v. Iona.

Duke v. UNC: Two blue teams – literally and psychically.

Minnesota v. #6 Maryland. Obviously, the Gophers have to play a better out-of-conference schedule… but Rachel they are sure are doing their best to get noticed. Will the Terps have gotten the message?

From Salt Lake: Alta product Makenzi Morrison Pulsipher exceeding expectations at BYU

About that great Dane: Albany’s Caribbean-born Shereesha Richards an aspiring pro

About that Grand Bahamian: Despite Injury, Jonquel On Pace To Be Wnba Draft Lottery Pick

Speaking of the draft: Countdown to the 2016 WNBA Draft: No. 8 South Florida’s Courtney Williams

Looking ahead: Diana Taurasi refreshed for Phoenix Mercury return, 4th Olympics

Interesting: Her Love Of Basketball Knows No Boundaries, But U.S. Law Says Otherwise

Jo had 26 points and 10 rebounds that March night in 2009 in San Antonio, and those numbers don’t begin to tell half of her story. The New England prep school player of the year in 2005, she would go on to be a two-time Division II player of the year and the all-time D-II leading scorer. Drafted by the Connecticut Sun in 2010, Jo played for Great Britain in the 2012 Olympics and tied Erika de Souza of Brazil as leading scorer. Jo Leedham, who played in a few exhibition games in 2013 with the Sun, plays for Bourges in France. She scored 28 points Thursday for Great Britain in a stirring comeback over Montenegro in a Eurobasket qualifier.

Kirsty, meanwhile, starred at Cheshire Academy and at Caldwell (N.J.) College before becoming a graduate assistant while getting her MBA in sports management at New Haven. She returned to coach Cheshire Academy for two years before becoming coordinator of player development at Binghamton this season.

No family has given any more to New England small college basketball, to New England basketball, in the past decade. That’s worth remembering today as Jen Leedham fights to remain in this country.

A little audio: Swin Cash On Internet Trolls, Life After Basketball

Even though it’s 2016, Cash has still dealt with the less-than-desirable underbelly of the internet. You know, the ones who are dumbfounded that a black woman would be able to talk about professional sports from merit and experience. No mind that the WNBA star is one of the most decorated athletes with her pair of NCAA National Titles, treble of WNBA Championships as well as two Olympic gold medals, of course.

Cash brushes off the ignorant, baseless criticism.

“You have to have a sharp mind to have discernment of what’s coming in and what you’re actually putting out,” said Cash.

Have you listened to the new audio source: ‘Around the Rim’: Talking Women’s College Hoops

Speakin’ of audio: Dishin & Swishin 2/25/16 Podcast: Moriah Jefferson ready to join the Huskies of Honor, but what comes next?

Lady Swish asks: Is your team going to the NCAA tournament?

In theory, each of the state’s 13 teams could qualify for the NCAAs by winning their conference tournaments. Barring that, we feel that only four Virginia schools have even an outside chance of nabbing an at-large bid. Virginia schools have gone five years without receiving an at-large bid. Based on what our teams have done so far, that streak is likely to continue in 2016.

Here’s our thinking on what’s going to happen as we approach postseason:

Mike Siroky’s SEC Notebook: The Upperclasswomen Lead the Way

The Ben-Gals won their third SEC game this season by one. The Orange lightning is crashing over the once-proud UT program that hit its bottom. Doesn’t matter how they lost. 
 
It’s that they lost.
 
The Lady Vols proved once again they have no clue this season. This should be the death knell for the assistant coaches because that’s the only way an embattled coach makes a perception she is willing to accept blame and make changes.
 
The urban legend that former Pat Head Summitt players make good coaches is dead. D-E-A-D dead. 
 
Not Holly Warlick, not anyone else. 
 
The campus is embroiled in too many other coming lawsuits and other distractions in the important campus sports to make a direct move on Warlick.
 
It is over. As in so many other things.

A little history: 40 years later: Judi Warren stole the show at first girls basketball state finals

“Judi Warren,” Brown said. “Anybody who was  there would tell you they were impressed with Judi Warren. She pretty much dominated play and she was such an exciting personality. If it was just ho-hum, who knows how it would have gone. But she was so fun to watch.”

The girls basketball finals will be played on Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, 40 years after Warsaw’s 5-1 Warren captured the hearts of Hoosiers. She played with the exuberance of a first-grader allowed 20 minutes extra at recess. For Warren and her Warsaw teammates, the 1976 state finals marked the culmination of four years of playing mostly in front of family and close friends.

If Warren had graduated one year earlier, she would have never had the opportunity.

USA Basketball: Geno Auriemma pleased with camp, but questions linger for Team USA and Geno Auriemma, USA Basketball Face Tough Decisions With A Luxury Of Riches

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(Becomes Monday! Monday! Monday! – and I’m home again Finnegan…)

But it was Saturday that saw some surprises.

Just as I say something nice about #17 Oklahoma State, they get upset by TCU, 79-65.

Just as I say something nice about Central Michigan, they meet challenger Toledo and lose, 81-79.

Penguins forget how to score and get upset by Cleveland State, 53-43.

Hampton got upset by Coppin State , which hurts their MEAC regular season championship prospects.

Crusin’ Mercer got crushed by Chattanooga, 67-43.

Southern squeaks by SWAC title challenger Alabama State, 57-55.

Costal Carolina (5-11, Big South) snuffed the Flames, 58-61. First time since February 19, 1996.

In the battle of South Dakota, it was a wild fourth quarter by both teams. Coyotes take down the Jackrabbits, 80-71, and have their eye on the regular season prize.

In the battle of Montana, the Griz upset the Bobcats, 70-66.

Who misses Ms. Jones? George Washington. They fall to VCU, 79-68.

(Now ranked) Colorado State needed a big fourth quarter to overcome Wyoming, and stay perfect in the Mountain West, 62-57.

Always keepin’ it interesting in the WCC: Pacific surprises Gonzaga in OT, 84-83. And BYU women’s basketball wins its first WCC regular-season championship

Tennessee-Martin makes a statement about who rules the OVC, stifling SIU-Edwardsville, 86-50.

Charlotte built a nice lead and held on to upset the Hilltoppers, 81-72.

They went back and forth by quarters, but it was UC Riverside that ended up with the win over UC Davis. The Highlanders are now 12-0 in the Big West.

If UC Riverside’s women’s basketball Highlanders pull this off, it’s going to be quite the narrative. Not sure if you could sell it as a movie script, although it certainly seemed to work in “Hoosiers.”

UCR remains undefeated in the Big West, running its record to 11-0 in conference and 18-7 overall following an 83-58 thumping of Long Beach State Thursday evening at the Rec Center.

The Highlanders did so with seven available players.

While I was working my way home, Sunday happened. All the ranked teams pretty much held serve, except

…for that pesky Florida. Nice win for Joni Taylor and Georgia, but what is up with the Gators?

..and #24 Tennessee. The Vols have a habit of snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory. This time, LSU was the beneficiary. The loss meant Tennessee dropped out of the polls for the first time in forever. Mechelle says Tennessee must focus on present, and future

The juxtaposition of so much going right for the Huskies and the difficulties facing the Lady Vols is an unpleasant thing for Tennessee fans. There is no other way to put it. There was a time not so long ago when UConn and Tennessee were both ahead of the rest of women’s basketball.

Since Tennessee ended the series after the 2007 season, the two programs haven’t met. Tennessee won its eighth title in 2008, but hasn’t been back to the Women’s Final Four since. UConn hasn’t missed a Final Four since 2007.

Alas, what Tennessee has to do now, though, is focus on trying to play as well as possible for the two games left in the regular season, the SEC tournament, and the NCAA tournament, which they still are projected to make.

Rachel B proves it wasn’t a fluke, going for 52  (and Kobe liked it) but, unfortunately, in a losing cause. Likely we won’t see her in the NCAA tournament… unless the Gophers can pull off the huge Big 10 Conference Championship upset.

It’s a tough year to be a Tar Heel fan…

Speaking of which, it’s been a tough year to be a Blue Devil fan…

Ouch. Butler upsets St. John’s, 62-58.

Double ouch. That was a disappointing Pac-12 season for Cal.

Squeak! Abilene Christian escaped Southeastern Louisiana (4-21, 3-11), 72-70.

In other news:

Out of Austin, THIS WNBA LEGEND MAY BE THE KEY TO THE TEXAS WOMEN’S HOOP DREAMS

Salt Lake: Utah women’s basketball: Dani Rodriguez always willing to assist

A story leaps to mind for Cynthia Rodriguez of her daughter, Dani, finding $30 on the ground at a market near their Downey, Calif., home.

To a third-grader, that’s a fortune, so she kept the cash close. But the next day at the same market, a woman was begging for money.

Dani, in her youthful wisdom, gave her fortune away.

“I asked her why she gave the money to that woman, and she said, ‘I found it it, and I didn’t need it,’ ” Cynthia recalled of their conversation afterward. ” ‘She needed it more than I did.’ “

As a senior point guard, Danielle Rodriguez’s capacity to give to others is tallied up: She’s dished out 429 assists in her career, the fifth-most in school history. But many of her good works off the court are being brought to light as she’s one of 10 women’s basketball players named to the AllState WBCA Good Works Team, which highlights the community service of student-athletes.

Columbus: Ohio State seniors face final home game

The instant that Cait Craft cut to the basket on Thursday night in Value City Arena, Ameryst Alston delivered a bounce pass in traffic so seamlessly that the two Ohio State senior guards appeared connected by some second sense.

The assist and the layup became a sentence within a paragraph of a story four seasons in the writing, and explained why each would describe her feelings as “bittersweet” heading into the pair’s final home game with the Buckeyes today against Illinois.

“It went by so fast,” Alston said. “I tell the young ones, enjoy the moment because it goes by so fast.”

Norman: OU women’s basketball: Sherri Coale talks about the consistency problem

Tallahassee: Brothers’ deaths helped shape Florida State’s Adut Bulgak

Adut Bulgak has the name of her late brothers — Deng Atem and Bul Atem — on each shoe.

The 6-foot-4 center for No. 10 Florida State is one of the top seniors in women’s college basketball, averaging 13.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. She will graduate in May with a degree in sociology, likely be selected in the WNBA Draft and try out for a spot on the Canadian Olympic team.

For some, that much going on could be overwhelming, but not for the 23-year-old.

“I built a tougher mentality because I had some terrible things happen to me just like other people have,” she said.

Were you wondering What To Expect When USA Basketball Trains This Week In Storrs? How about Sights and Sounds from Day 1 of #USABWNT Training Camp

Or the 20th season of the W: Refreshed, stronger Diana Taurasi still at the peak of her profession

The shorthand way of describing why Diana Taurasi did not play the 2015 WNBA season for Phoenix was that she took off the summer to rest.

Except that’s not exactly what happened.

“I did three months of heavy working out in the summer, Monday through Friday, just weekends off,” Taurasi said Sunday at the first day of USA Basketball’s national team training camp. “I didn’t necessarily take any basketball time off. But I got to work on things I needed to work on, strength-wise, stability-wise.”

In other words, last summer wasn’t about just taking a breather and texting snarky comments to motivate Mercury teammate Brittney Griner (although she did both).

Good news: Being an athlete helps Chameka Scott, Tiffany Jackson-Jones in their battles with cancer

 

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#2 team scores 7 in ten minutes. 57 in forty.
#10 team scores 8 in ten minutes. 51 in forty.

#8 team scores 62 in forty.

#11 team scores 61 in forty.

#12 team scores 4 in ten minutes. 36 in forty.
#20 team scores 8 in ten minutes. 56 in forty.

Thank you Notre Dame, DePaul, UConn, South Florida, West Virginia… and, as always, Sacramento State (25 threes, anyone?).

Honestly! I thought the rule changes were supposed to HELP the scoring. Instead, I’m having Nike commercial flashbacks. “Momma can’t help your jump shot.”

In other games:

Army keeps pace with Bucknell. *Graham? Michelle? Someone take notice of the Bison!

Bryant (6-0) claims the top spot in the NEC.

UTEP (6-0) still perfect in C-USA. So’s Western Kentucky (7-0), which got the program’s first triple-double from Kendall Noble. Speaking of poachable coaches (Michelle Clark-Heard), have you been following Sue’s interviews with coaches?

And repeat: In the MAC, it was the Ohio Bobcats (7-0) over Northern Illinois. Ball State is now 6-1 in conference play.

It was tough, but Green Bay’s in-conference record stayed unblemished, courtesy of a  63-58 win over Wright State.

“They have the best payers — that always helps. The year we beat them, we had the best players. I think this year, it’s really, really close. Time will tell,” [WSU coach Mike] Bradbury said.

Arkansas State moves to 8-0 in the Sun Belt (a program best).

“It is a really good road win and this just caps off a really good stretch of four games in eight days,” A-State head coach Brian Boyer said. “I just told the players that they played really well during this stretch and they have just saved the best performance for last.”

Abilene Christian is now 7-0 in the Southland as junior guard Alexis Mason is tearin’ it up.

New Mexico State continues to roll in the WAC, taking down Bakersfield in front of a record-breaking 5,034 fans.

After an ugly third quarter, Washington roared back to take down Washington State, 69-63.

Perfect no more: The Teddy Bears lose to East Tennessee State.

WHB jinx anyone? UT Rio Grand Valley falls to Seattle, 74-71 and UC Santa Barbara falls to UC Riverside, 92-81.

Called the fun: Nebraska over Michigan, 93 – 81.

Michigan women’s basketball had no answer for Jessica Shepard on Sunday as Nebraska’s standout freshman beat up on the Wolverines. 

The 6-foot-4 Shepard scored 35 points and grabbed 20 rebounds to lead the Cornhuskers past Michigan, 93-81, at Crisler Center.

Asked the questions and the teams responded: Indiana over Northwestern, 91-84.

Ahead of Sunday’s game, Teri Moren said a Big Ten road win would help further change the culture of Indiana women’s basketball.

The Hoosiers came away with their moment, a 91-84 win at No. 20 Northwestern. Ahead by five at the half, but falling behind by seven going into the fourth, IU (12-8, 4-4 Big Ten) outscored the Wildcats 33-19 in the fourth quarter.

In the battle of the A10 bigs, it was Duquesne snapped St. Bonaventure‘s 16-game winning streak, 74-62.

Here’s hoping tonight’s game have us singing, “Score, score, score! How do you like it? How do you like it?

Welcome to the neighborhood, Coach Neighbors: Washington enters Top 25 for 1st time since ’03

In other news:

Cool: Missouri’s average home attendance surges into top half of SEC.

Yes: Ohio State winning despite lack of size

“Our chemistry is pretty great,” senior guard Ameryst Alston said. “Like I’ve said before, that’s how it should be. We’ve got a lot of different players that can score. So it makes us hard to guard.”

The Buckeyes (14-4, 6-1) have used their versatility to forge a first-place tie with Maryland in the Big Ten standings. They lead the conference and are third in the nation in scoring at 87 points per game. They do this efficiently despite having only one starter taller than the 5-foot-9 Alston.

The lack of size often shows up in rebounding statistics, but Ohio State has won 10 of its past 11 games against mostly bigger teams.

Charlie’s got his latest bracket and is Trying to make sense of topsy-turvy SEC

Thank goodness for South Carolina. Otherwise there would be no figuring out the SEC.

The Gamecocks moved to 7-0 with Sunday’s slugfest of a road victory over Mississippi State. After that, the conference is a cluster of teams virtually indistinguishable by record and performance. After the Gamecocks, each of the SEC’s other 13 teams has at least two conference wins. No one has more than four. Everyone has at least two losses but no more than five. Georgia is tied for last place, yet is a mere 2½ games out of second place, and the Lady Dogs are included in this week’s projected NCAA tournament field.

Cleanse your palate with a little USA Basketball news: Familiar faces dot U.S. women’s basketball finalists

The pursuit of a sixth consecutive gold medal for the United States women’s basketball team will be in familiar hands come August at the Rio Olympics. On Monday, the list of the 25 finalists for the 12-member squad was released by USA Basketball.

There were no surprises; the group has both longtime veterans of international play and the top college senior in the country, UConn’s Breanna Stewart. Ten players in the finalist pool have previously won Olympic gold, including three-time Olympic champions Diana TaurasiTamika Catchings (1st women to receive National Civil Rights Museum Sports Legacy Award) and Sue Bird (Role Model of the Year)

New York Values: Madison Square Garden Company partnership with Resorts World Casino includes deal to make casino sponsor of Liberty Pride Month

One cost of bigotry? Survey: Religious objections law cost millions

Indiana may have lost as much as $60 million in hotel profits, tax revenue and other economic benefits when a dozen groups decided against hosting conventions in Indianapolis last year due at least in part to the controversy surrounding the state’s religious objections law.

A document prepared by the tourism group Visit Indy shows that the 12 out-of-state groups were surveyed and all said that the state’s controversial law played a role in their decision to hold their events elsewhere. The document was obtained by The Associated Press ahead of its formal release Thursday.

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Snagged a surprise seat to the Lib-Dream game and some observations:

  1. Top to bottom, this is the most talented Liberty team we’ve ever had. AND they’re scrappy and hard-nosed. This post-season will go to whichever team is the healthiest.
  2. Wherever Sugar’s game went these past few years, it’s back. I sure hope it sticks around.
  3. As I watched Tina and Sugar and Matee and Essence and Kiah and Piph and Swin and Shoni and Tiffany on the court I thought, “Yah, that Old Big East Conference was pretty damn good.”
  4. I was really excited when the Lib drafted Stokes. I’m even more excited now.
  5. Wow, there’s a lot of talent on that Dream team… what on earth has the front office and coaching done to it…
  6. The physical, chippy play between the two teams reminded me of the old Cleveland Rockers days. On the court, there was absolutely NO love lost between the Lib and Cleveland.

    It was not a pretty game. It was a game with a lot of contact. It was a game with a lot of fouls called and a lot of fouls that could easily have been called. I don’t envy Denise Brooks and Tony Dawkins working with a rookie referee. (I also don’t envy them working with a rookie referee who looked like he had a chip on his shoulder the whole night because he’s shorter than most of the players- dude is about Piph’s height.) 

  7. Note to MSG management: you’re doing better getting folks into the Garden, but some of your security staff could use some “How to treat a fan like they’re a welcomed customer, not a body to pull a power trip on.

In other news:

Indiana:11 straight years in the playoffs. ’nuff said. A lot could be said for Stephanie being COY (nice job, there, coach Dunn!). I think Bill should be in the mix, and ditto with Fred Williams.

Friendly Bounce’s WNBA Podcast: Episode 3: Tulsa joins the playoff party. And yes, Tulsa’s playoff berth is bittersweet for Shock fans

With a minute left in Sunday’s game, Tulsa Shock forward Plenette Pierson motioned to the fans at the BOK Center. They got to their feet and cheered on their Shock to a 76-70 victory over the Indiana Fever and the franchise’s first playoff berth since moving to Oklahoma in 2010.

And I felt like giving the crowd a standing ovation.

Zach Plosia of Newsweek asks: Why Doesn’t the WNBA Have an Official Fantasy League?

Philip Hersh at the Chicago Tribune asks: 2015 a big year for women in sports, but will it carry over?

The question, as always, is whether the passion so many have shown for women’s sports is more than a summer romance, an abiding love more than a one-season stand, a caring for and celebrating the ordinary along with the extraordinary: the United States winning a quadrennial women’s soccer world championship; Serena Williams starting the U.S. Open on Monday as the first player with a chance at sweeping tennis’ four Grand Slam tournaments since Germany’s Steffi Graf did it in 1988; fighter Ronda Rousey, in a sport with an appeal once beholden to the prurience of watching women fight each other, now acclaimed by Sports Illustrated as the world’s most dominant athlete, no gender qualifier applied.

“I’d like to think this has been an important year in women’s sports,” said longtime TV commentator Mary Carillo, “and the Serena story going into the U.S. Open is going to be tremendous. Serena has to be considered one of the most dominant and important women athletes of all time.”

It didn’t look good for Lindsay when she went to the locker room, but she’s hoping for a quick recovery

Interesting: Sky’s Delle Donne signs with new marketing agency

Chicago Sky forward and WNBA All-Star Elena Delle Donne has a new agent for the second time in less than two years.

The 25-year-old face of women’s pro basketball signed last month with McLean, Va.-based sports marketing agency Octagon and agent Erin Kane after cutting ties with Wasserman Media Group of Los Angeles earlier this year.

Wasserman agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas, who has represented WNBA stars Brittney Griner, Maya Moore and Diana Taurasi among others, worked with Delle Donne from November 2013 until the beginning of 2015, when the forward returned to an exclusive agent relationship with her brother Gene.

from the Players’ Tribune: From Somewhere: Diana Taurasi (video and article) and We Are: New York Liberty

The Players’ Tribune presents “We Are: New York Liberty,” an immersive look inside the WNBA powerhouse team in the East. Through documentary video series, first-person narratives, photo diaries and travelogues, we give a voice to each player as the Liberty fight for the No. 1 overall playoff seed, and ultimately, a WNBA championship. ​​

NCAA news:

UH’s Chizer begins tenure on NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee

Q: What do you think it will be like in the room on Selection Monday with the excitement and big decisions you have to make?

A: You said the key words: Exciting and big decisions. I think it’s going to be a long couple of days, because at the end of the day we want to get it right. We’re going to spend a lot of time researching, looking at all the team’s portfolios, games they’ve won, RPIs, games they’ve lost, the top 10 teams they played against. What did they do at the beginning of the season, the middle of the season, the end of the season? You have to look at everything. There are going to be some big decisions and we’re going to do our due diligence to get it right.

Q: You have a college basketball background as a former play at UH and assistant coach. How much will that help you?

A: I do have a little basketball knowledge and was on the coaching staff here. I did a little something here while at the University of Houston. My name is in the record books a little bit (smiles). I tell the student-athletes on the women’s basketball team that if we play half-court, I think I can still get you. I can still shoot it. You start taking me full-court and that’s a different story.

Illinois: Chapter not over

 On more than one occasion Friday Illinois Athletics Director Mike Thomas talked about “turning the page.”

Fire head football coach Tim Beckman, turn the page.

Promote offensive coordinator Bill Cubit to interim head coach, turn the page.

As the “Summer From Hell” continues to play out one bonfire at a time in Champaign, there’s a good chance there are a few more pages to turn. And one of them may have Mike Thomas’ name on it.

Marist: Jarosz back at school, but eligibility unresolved

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So, the board is discussing whether having a sexual harasser as an owner is a good thing, and Lin Dunn steps to the plate: 

“I’m waiting for Laurel Richie to take a leadership role in this,” Dunn said. “I’m concerned that anyone who had been found guilty of sexual harassment would be back in a position working with women. I’m counting on Richie to do her due diligence and get the Board of Governors to make a decision that continues to show that the WNBA empowers girls and women and will be a role model when it comes to that.”

Honestly, I don’t envy Richie and the BoG. The stakes are pretty high, whichever way they vote.

Meanwhile, from Mel’s blog: Rob Knox’s WNBA Notebook: Liberty Focusing on Basketball Unhampered by the Thomas Hiring

But back in Newark at the preseason game on May 22, while the swirl of media attention was tough, it ultimately could be a positive for the Liberty and the WNBA.

That’s why Laimbeer appeared at ease as he sat on the bench laughing while members of the Liberty participated in pregame drills.

“Everybody knows who the Liberty are now,” Laimbeer said. “During media day, we told them very clearly to write whatever stories they’re going to write.

“However, we also told them, don’t go away. Come back in five weeks, look at the product, write about how we play and how the ladies are.”

From Mechelle: What everyone will be talking about when the WNBA’s 19th season begins

After an offseason of mostly negative WNBA news, thank goodness the league’s 19th season is beginning soon. It’s time to play ball again.

The WNBA starts with five games Friday, including last year’s champion, Phoenix, at home against San Antonio. Can the Mercury become the first team to repeat as champions since Los Angeles in 2001 and 2002? That will be a challenge.

Contenders for the crown
Phoenix will be without Diana Taurasi all season, and it appears Penny Taylor also is not going to play in the WNBA in 2015. Brittney Griner will be on the sideline most of June as she serves a seven-game, league-mandated suspension for her April arrest after a fight with her then-fiance, Glory Johnson of Tulsa. Griner and Johnson were married in May.

From the other Michelle: New-look Mercury gunning for repeat

It became apparent a few weeks ago that the phrase “It is what it is” was going to be a mantra around the Phoenix Mercury’s camp.

The phrase is less about resignation than an acknowledgement of reality for the defending WNBA champions, who will begin the 2015 season not at all resembling the players who finished a remarkable run with confetti raining down on their heads.

No Diana Taurasi … no Penny Taylor … no Brittney Griner for the first seven games of the season … breathe and reboot ahead of Friday’s season opener at home against San Antonio. “At this point, I think that more than defending a championship, it’s just about trying to win a championship,” said veteran guard DeWanna Bonner. “We just want to get to the point where we can win another title. Really, we have so many different faces, this team hasn’t won a title.”

Speaking of which, now that I think about it…Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner having second thoughts, may appeal suspension

Surprisingly, a number of the comments in reaction to this totally wrong-headed opinion piece are thoughtful and nuanced: The W.N.B.A. Should Bring the Basket Down, and Fandom Up

Longtime readers of this blog know I disagree with this premise… for so many reasons. And it’s not because I’m against dunking. It’s just that, when you do the math, you realize that dunking is about 50 seconds total of the men’s game. If that’s why you watch the NBA, why not save yourself the 47 minutes and watch SportsCenter?

From Swish Appeal: 5 Players Due for Breakout Seasons in 2015

In college news:

CU women’s basketball: New-look Buffs get to work

Every year, college coaches deal with a certain level of roster turnover.

This summer, Colorado women’s basketball coach Linda Lappe is dealing with more turnover than ever before.

Heading into her sixth season as CU’s head coach, Lappe’s roster will look much different in the 2015-16 season.

“I think it makes it really fun and exciting,” she said.

Allison Guth excited to return to Yale as women’s basketball coach

Happiness is being an Ohio fan:

The women’s basketball program will be back in the NCAA Tournament … soon
Bob Boldon talks upcoming season of women’s basketball
Sports Column: There’s never been a better time to be a new Bobcat fan

Hmmmm…UMD coach resigns, cites unhealthy work environment

Minnesota Duluth women’s basketball coach Annette Wiles resigned Monday morning after seven seasons with the Bulldogs, citing an unhealthy work environment at the university.

She is the third female head coach to leave the UMD athletic department this year, following Shannon Miller, the former women’s hockey coach, and Jen Banford, who served as women’s hockey director of operations and head softball coach.

As did Miller and Banford, Wiles is expected to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. The United States Department of Justice is investigating those earlier complaints.

The Indy Star’s offers up a little history: Ann Meyers took her best shot at making the Pacers

“Annie was one of the best basketball players ever. I didn’t say male or female. I said ever.” – Bill Russell, Boston Celtics legend

So here she was. One of the best players ever. No matter that she was a woman. Gender was just that, an easy label the sports world clung to that meant nothing to her.

Here she was, Ann Meyers, one of the best basketball players ever and she was about to prove it.

Inside Hinkle Fieldhouse in September of 1979, with Indiana Pacers coach Slick Leonard watching. With so many news cameras pointed her way, clicking nonstop, that she started feeling “uncomfortable.”

A bit of parallel history: UNC’s Beth Miller was there when women’s sports was a struggle

The arrangement eloquently illustrated the state of women’s college athletics. When the University of North Carolina volleyball season ended in the fall, player uniforms were not placed in storage. Instead they were passed along with travel bags and warm-ups for immediate use by members of the Tar Heel women’s basketball squad.

In today’s world of multimillion dollar contracts between apparel companies and major-college athletic departments, with uniforms carefully tailored to suit the needs and marketing imperatives of each sport, such a cozy cycle of reuse is difficult to imagine. “At that time, I don’t think the kids paid any attention,” Beth Miller, then UNC’s volleyball coach, recalls of the shared clothing in the latter 1970s. “They were just glad to have anything.”

The support at Chapel Hill was actually a marked improvement from conditions at Appalachian State and other major colleges at the dawn of the same decade, when women were limited to participation on the equivalent of glorified club teams. Miller’s highest annual budget as ASU volleyball coach between 1969 and 1972 was $1,500. In contrast, UNC’s current volleyball operating budget is $200,000, not counting scholarships and salaries.

Finally: We’re in the home stretch! Have you supported women’s basketball history yet? 

Now that the goal has been reached, I have decided that I should — and can afford to — publish 1,000 copies of my book. I have narrowed my search down to two local printers. One can print 1,000 copies for about $4,400 (or so). The other one would charge $7,500. The second printer also offers a number of other services, such as providing the ISBN, getting the book up on Amazon, storing up to 100 copies in their warehouse, and placing the book in their twice-yearly catalog distributed to a number of bookstores. The ISBN is worth $150. Their Amazon link means I would get a 60-40 split on sales, as opposed to 45-55 if I signed up with Amazon myself. The warehouse feature means that bookstores will be more likely to stock it. The catalog will help me market to libraries and schools.As you can see, my Kickstarter campaign has made it possible for me to consider the second option. So, once again, I am grateful for everyone who contributed. Please continued to spread the word. I will be taking donations until the Kickstarter ends later today.
Skip that latte for three days and you get an autographed copy of “Finding a Way to Play!” What a bargain!

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No rest for the weary over at USA Basketball:

USA Basketball Women’s World University Games Team Roster Features Five USA Basketball Gold Medalists

The 12-member roster for the 2015 USA Basketball Women’s World University Games Team, which was announced following three days of trials that featured 51 athletes at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, features five USA Basketball gold medalists, including Jordin Canada(UCLA/Los Angeles, Calif.); Diamond DeShields (Tennessee/Norcross, Ga.); Rebecca Greenwell(Duke/Owensboro, Ky.); Erica McCall (Stanford/Bakersfield, Calif.); and Mercedes Russell(Tennessee/Springfield, Ore.).

Playing on their first USA Basketball team will be: Nina Davis (Baylor/Memphis, Tenn.); Chanise Jenkins(DePaul/Chicago, Ill.); Brionna Jones (Maryland/Havre de Grace, Md.); Aerial Powers (Michigan State/Detroit, Mich.); Courtney Range (California/Manteca, Calif.); Sydney Wiese (Oregon State/Phoenix, Ariz.); and Courtney Williams (South Florida/Folkston, Ga.).

Northwestern University head coach Joe McKeown will lead the 2015 USA Women’s World University Games Team, and he will be assisted by Holly Warlick from the University of Tennessee and Tanya Warren from the University of Northern Iowa.

Nneka Ogwumike Has Memories And Aspirations From The 2011 World University Games

During the competition, often alongside her sister, Chiney Ogwumike, Nneka observed many other sports, some of which she had never seen before, as a way to support the USA and her alma mater, Stanford University, which had several athletes competing in various events.

“I was lucky in that my sister and I met up with 10 other Stanford athletes. We saw a lot of our classmates. We actually watched them compete in their sporting events, which was really cool. I was really excited to watch our men’s volleyball team, because we had three Stanford athletes on that team. The games were super exciting.”

In addition to meeting up with classmates, Ogwumike made new friends in the village, which is something she advises the participants of the 2015 World University Games to do.

Roster Named For U.S. Pan American Games Women’s Basketball Team

Following three days of trials that featured 51 athletes at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the 12-member roster for the 2015 U.S. Pan American Women’s Basketball Team today was announced and features seven players who have won at least one gold medal with USA Basketball.

The retuning gold medalists include: Linnae Harper (Kentucky/Chicago, Ill.); Moriah Jefferson(Connecticut/Glenn Heights, Texas); Stephanie Mavunga (North Carolina/Brownsburg, Ind.); Tiffany Mitchell (South Carolina/Charlotte, N.C.); Kelsey Plum (Washington/Poway, Calif.); Taya Reimer (Notre Dame/Fishers, Ind.);and Breanna Stewart (Connecticut/North Syracuse, N.Y.).

Playing on their first USA Basketball team will be: Sophie Brunner (Arizona State/Freeport, Ill.);Alaina Coates (South Carolina/Irmo, S.C.);Caroline Coyer (Villanova/Oak Hill, Va.); Shatori Walker-Kimbrough(Maryland/Aliquippa, Pa.); and Courtney Williams (Texas A&M/Houston, Texas).

The University of Iowa’s Lisa Bluder will lead the 2015 U.S. Pan American Women’s Basketball Team, along with assistant coaches Michelle Clark-Heard of Western Kentucky University and Scott Rueck of Oregon State University.

Some nice “Catching up with…videos on their site.

In the crossover world of NCAA and USA sits Doug Bruno, who reflects on 29 years and looks to future

From Georgia: Retirement looks good on Andy Landers. Casual is his color.

Andy Landers, former Georgia women’s basketball coach and current caretaker of cows, announced his retirement in mid-March, leaving Georgia women’s basketball not only in search of a new leader but also a new identity.

“When you have been as good as they have been for so many years, you become synonymous with your school and it’s really hard to differentiate Georgia from Andy,” University of Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma said. “If you were talking about Georgia basketball, the conversation always started with Andy. He was unique. In the women’s basketball circles, there just weren’t many guys like him.”

Landers spent 36 seasons developing a program, players and personal relationships with everyone he encountered. He was the Lady Dogs.

Yikes. This is sounding ugly: Illinois women’s basketball assistant coach leaves program under storm of accusations

The Daily Illini obtained letters addressed to Chancellor Wise that were sent by the families of Jacqui Grant, Taylor Tuck and Taylor Gleason, which detailed verbal and emotional abuse on the part of Bollant and Divilbiss.
**
One of the claims made by the letters, which was echoed by Lydia Tuck and LaKeisha Coleman — Amarah Coleman’s mother — was that Bollant and Divilbiss enforced what was called the “Dog Pound.” The “Dog Pound” was the team’s group of nonstarters, and was required to go to extra practices.

“I told him the dog pound is where strays go,” Lydia Tuck said. “It would be different if Illinois’ mascot was Huskies or Wolves.”

Lydia Tuck’s other daughter, Morgan, was a starter for the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team, which won the 2015 National Championship. Lydia said Morgan’s time at UConn has been “night and day different” from what Taylor has experienced at Illinois.

The Hartford Courant has All The News You Need To Get Ready For WNBA Season

From Jayda: Jenny Boucek in ‘natural spot’ as Storm’s coach

Jenny Boucek loves redemption stories.

She can relax on the couch with a glass of wine and freely ride the emotions of a favorite flick such as “Dirty Dancing.” But before you characterize Boucek’s return to head coaching in the WNBA as redeeming, know this is not that. (WHB history note: Remember this and this from Mechelle back in ’09?)

 “It’s not about me at all,” she said of being named the Storm’s fourth coach in the franchise’s 15-year history. Boucek was an assistant in Seattle from 2003-05 and the past five seasons under previous coach Brian Agler.
“People are feeling it is right for me to be here right now, and I feel it’s right, so I’m here,” she said.

Mixed news for the W’s Shock: Glory Johnson absent from Shock training camp, but Riquna Williams back from injury

From the Republican American: Being best takes on new meaning for Taurasi

Shortly after her college career ended, she was selected first overall in the WNBA Draft by the Mercury. That first season she not only won Rookie of the Year honors but was also named to the All-WNBA first team, and then she finished up 2004 by winning an Olympic gold medal and an ESPY for being the best female athlete in the world.

Her career hasn’t slowed down since then. She’s won three WNBA championships (2007, 2009, 2014), two more Olympic gold medals (2008, 2012) and five EuroLeague titles (four with Spartak Moscow, 2007-10; one with EMMC Ekaterinburg, 2013).

“It may sound corny, but from the day I graduated I said, ‘I am going to totally give myself to this, and I want to make sure that at home and around the world everyone knows how good I am,'” Taurasi said. “There was no way I was going to be part-time. I am a full-time basketball player and have been the 10-11 years. I always believed that if you are not playing basketball, you are not getting better.”

Ddd you catch Diana on Grantland?

Cool: Schimmels, McCoughtry part of seminar panel

Former University of Louisville women’s basketball players Angel McCoughtry, Shoni Schimmel and Jude Schimmel will be among the speakers at next Thursday’s Inspiring Women ENERGY Seminar Series at the KFC Yum! Center. The event is hosted by the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream – McCoughtry and Shoni Schimmel’s team.

The luncheon, scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., is being held in advance of the May 23 WNBA preseason doubleheader at the arena. The topic for the luncheon will be “The Future of Women in Sports Leadership”

Not so cool, as the beat(down) goes on, this time from the Boston Globe: Isiah Thomas, WNBA a disturbing match

Now, the WNBA Board of Governors will decide whether Thomas is ownership material. Asked about the approval process, WNBA president Laurel Richie said the league would “collect background information” on Thomas, but she declined to discuss whether that would include a reexamination of the sexual harassment case. Richie emphasized that she had “great respect for the process and great respect for our Board” and anticipated thoughtful discussions.

That’s the restrained and responsible thing to say. But even with the process barely under way, the right and responsible thing to do is clear: Keep Thomas out of the ownership ranks. 

Arizona Central: Boivin: Just say no to Isiah Thomas, WNBA

No. No. No.

Approval would send a horrible message to young girls who look up to a league that has been groundbreaking in terms of giving female athletes opportunities.

Sexual harassment should be punished.

Not rewarded.

Fox Sports says Phil Jackson reportedly ‘not happy’ with Isiah Thomas’ hiring by Liberty (Though I have a funny feeling it’s more about PHIL’s future, not the message the hiring sends)

I wish some of these “non-ESPN folks” articles would mention the elephant in the room. Blocking Dolan’s idiotic wishes will likely cost the league the New York Liberty…

On the opposite side of the spectrum: Thank you: Retirement awaits for longtime girls sports advocate Marie Sugiyama

As a young woman, Marie Sugiyama would take any game.

Pickup softball? Sure. Field hockey? Yup. Even that weird thing they called girls basketball that wasn’t really basketball? That game with 12 players on the court and rules about who could and who could not cross the half-court line?

Sure, Sugiyama said yes to those offers, too, but that version of basketball had to rankle. Sugiyama, 79, never did like people telling her or other women where they can go, what they can do, what line they can cross.

Sugiyama, who next month will retire as the commissioner of the North Bay League after 42 years on the job, started her journey as a tomboy who liked to play whatever sport was out there. But she finished as a local hall of fame coach, athlete, administrator, teacher and champion for all young athletes, but especially female athletes.

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Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson Suspended 7 Games in Domestic Violence Case

In a statement, Laurel J. Richie, the president of the W.N.B.A., said: “The W.N.B.A. takes all acts of violence extremely seriously. It is our strong belief that violence has absolutely no place in society, in sports or in this league. As president, it is my responsibility to protect the league and uphold its values. Our athletes represent the W.N.B.A., and they all must abide by the league’s standards of conduct. In this case, Brittney and Glory failed to do so, and that is unacceptable.”

Richie said she had consulted with domestic violence experts, as well as Linda Fairstein, the former chief of sex crimes prosecution in Manhattan, and N.B.A. Commissioner Adam Silver.

I give this a thumbs up… perhaps they read the “current trends in sports” tea leaves, as well as Mechelle’s piece: WNBA must take stand on domestic violence

That doesn’t mean that Griner, who was on the 2014 world championship squad and was originally scheduled to be at this week’s camp, needs to be excessively punished by the WNBA or USA Basketball. It also doesn’t mean either has to act in haste, or make decisions in reaction to the recent struggles other organizations — such as the NFL with Ray Rice and U.S. Soccer with Hope Solo — have had in responding to the issue of domestic violence.

But this must be seen as a time to take a true leadership stand, to be proactive and not dwell for too long in the “gathering information” mode both the WNBA and USA Basketball have been in. There’s an important message to be sent: Women are not just victims of domestic violence, but also can be perpetrators. And in cases where the parties are of the same sex, we can’t be any less diligent about demanding accountability from those involved.

Moving forward, Mechelle discusses a topic that the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL think doesn’t apply to them, but most know better: Openness best way to approach relationships between ‘rivals’

At the end of the USA Basketball women’s training camp Wednesday, national team coach Geno Auriemma had one more brief lesson: giving Seimone Augustus a few tips on how to dance at her wedding.

Augustus, the Lynx standout and two-time Olympic gold medalist, is marrying longtime partner LaTaya Varner on Saturday. Augustus has been open about her relationship, and publicly advocated for same-sex marriage to be legalized in Minnesota, which happened in August 2013.

Now, forgive me for branching off from that sweet, joyful image to a topic that might seem unrelated. But the reason is to establish this overarching theme: the necessity of openness.

Stickin’ with the W, Mechelle’s on a roll (and on a podcast: Mechelle Voepel on the issues surrounding the WNBA seasonWhy the Isiah Thomas hire is worse than you think picks up on a very real fear:

Yet there’s a concern that makes all of this even more insidious, if that’s possible. Thomas also was made a partial owner of the Liberty, so he must be approved by the WNBA’s Board of Governors. And if that doesn’t happen, what if Dolan threatens to pull the plug on the Liberty? Sources I spoke to around the league have expressed concern about that.

This could turn into a kind of extortion. It appears the Liberty are a pawn in something that shouldn’t even involve them or the WNBA. That’s the “game” of getting Thomas officially back into the fold at MSG. Dolan might have decided that this is a sure-fire way to secure that: Use the Liberty as a bargaining chip.

WNBA players have far less leverage than NBA players but if a majority came out publicly & forcefully against Isiah Thomas, he’d be done.

Detroit Free Press: Isiah Thomas seeks ownership; criticism keeps coming

Detroit Pistons legend Isiah Thomas has filed paperwork for partial ownership of the WNBA’s New York Liberty, two people familiar with the situation said.

Thomas needs approval from the league’s board of governors for his ownership application to go through. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because no formal announcement has been made.

Again (!) from the NY Post: Isiah Thomas has no business running the Liberty

Thomas is the brand new president of the New York Liberty.

That’s right, sports fans. A team made up of tall women who play for the professional Women’s National Basketball Association is being run by a guy so crudely insensitive to ladies’ feelings, a federal jury in 2007 found that, as president, general manager and coach of the New York Knicks, he sexually harassed the basketball team’s top female executive. She testified at trial that Thomas called her a “bitch,’’ a “ho’’ and hurled the F-bomb at her — then told her that he loved her.

Miami Herald: Linda Robertson: WNBA must not allow Isiah Thomas into league

Hiring Isiah Thomas to be president of the WNBA’s New York Liberty has to be some kind of a joke, right?

That would be like hiring a chain smoker to teach a fitness class or Captain Ahab to head Save the Whales or Franz Kafka to lead a comedic improv troupe.

Just in case: With Isiah leading Liberty, WNBA players union to monitor MSG work environment

More W stuff:

We’re sad, but not surprised: Seattle’s Jackson will miss season for knee

We’re not surprised, but will A.J. show?: Lynx to be without McCarville, acquire A. Jones (Agent:  ‘McCarville wasn’t physically ready’ for another WNBA season)

Maybe: Taurasi: Mercury Still Contenders In Western Conference

The “Other” National Teams cut into W time: Zellous and Achonwa to Miss Time with Indiana Fever in 2015

Speaking of National Teams: Tolo chasing Olympic goal and Meriden’s Damika Martinez chasing Olympic berth with Puerto Rico national basketball team

Some NCAA stuff: NCAA hopes to make rules of college game more like WNBA

The committee came up with suggested changes this week that include playing four 10-minute quarters instead of two halves, advancing the ball to the frontcourt in the final minute of game after a timeout and shooting two free throws after the fifth foul of each quarter. Those rules are used in the WNBA.

“What a great step forward for our game,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “As the game becomes more global, each year it’s important that we start the process toward standardizing the rules. This is just the beginning of what I hope are many other changes to improve this great game.”

Hmmmm: Mass exodus occurs for EWU women’s basketball

If the Eastern Washington women’s basketball team had to play a game today, the Eagles could only suit up five players.

Following a 21-win season and EWU’s first postseason win, five players – including former Mead star and starting point guard Jade Redmon – have decided to leave the program. And, a sixth player has decided not to use her final year of eligibility.

In addition, Eastern lost a seventh player, 6-foot-4 junior forward Hanna Mack, who decided not to play prior to the beginning of last season.

The players who agreed to talk with The Spokesman-Review blamed coach Wendy Schuller for all or part of their reasons for leaving.

Following up:

Part 2: WSU Women’s Basketball Coach Jody Adams talks about abuse allegations

In her first interview since allegations of mental abuse surfaced, Wichita State Women’s Basketball Coach Jody Adams speaks exclusively to Susan Peters telling her she looks forward to “enhancing” her coaching style

“That’s when the tears come,” says Coach Adams, referring to reading the messages of support she has received from current and former players.

Adams admits she has shed a lot of tears the past few weeks, not only over not knowing if she would keep her job, but over what she calls hurtful allegations that were made very public.

“What’s been said is what’s been said. I can’t say I believe in it and how it’s happened. It’s been tough, ” says Adams.

Happier news: McConnell-Serio optimistic about Pitt women’s basketball future

A busy B: UConn Women’s Insider: Breanna Stewart Gives New Meaning To Busy

Stewart, the three-time national champion and two-time player of the year, is at home in Syracuse, N.Y., after spending four days in Las Vegas last week at USA Basketball’s senior national training camp.

On her way home, she stopped back in Storrs to take her biology final, proof positive that in UConn women’s basketball, the call to remain a student never strays too far from the desire to be an athlete.

But this respite will be short.

Speaking of busy, I’ve often said men are rarely asked how they balance work and family. Here’s one who resigned his job to focus on family: USC women’s basketball lost Taylor to married life in Georgia

It was a tough decision, but when Darius Taylor thought about what he’s been a part of building and what he was about to start constructing, it made it easy.

“It’s hard to start a marriage off separated,” South Carolina’s former assistant coach said on Saturday, a day after it was announced that he was resigning his post. “Those first couple of years are the ones that are really important, where you build your relationship and trust.

“My fiancee being at Georgia, we’ve been able to make it work. We saw each other almost once a week. I knew that there could be some changes to give her an opportunity, and it’s the right decision.”

A little WBB history: 40 YEARS OF AGGIE WOMEN’S ATHLETICS: Branch set Texas A&M women’s basketball on winning course

Lisa Branch went to Texas A&M because she loved playing basketball; being part of history was just an added bonus.

The 5-foot-4-inch Branch was the program’s first All-American, earning second-team United Press International honors in 1996. She left school as the Southwest Conference’s career leader in assists (795) and free throws (614). During her time, the little girl from DeSoto became the program’s all-time leading scorer (1,939 points), and had the most 3-pointers (165), assists and steals (309), but it was leadership at point guard that made her extra special.

Sad news from PA: Wilson girls basketball coach Dennis Fry gave everything to the people, program he loved

Dennis Fry, aided by a cane, arrived at the Via All-Star Basketball banquet, and Bob Frankenfield was floored.

Fry, Wilson Area High School’s girls basketball coach who was battling lung cancer, was on hand to support the Warriors’ senior all-star representative, Madison Quinn.

Frankenfield, Wilson’s boys coach, couldn’t believe Fry’s strength as he sat quietly with his wife, Cathy.

“No one would have blamed him for not coming, but the man came,” Frankenfield said. “I couldn’t believe his courage.”

Fry, 61, died Wednesday at his Nazareth home.

Sad news from NY: Calling hours Sunday for Randy Grassel

“Women’s basketball lost a great, great friend,” Thomas athletic director Scott Morrison said. “He was always very well-prepared, a student of the game. He knew everything about the other team. I can’t emphasize enough the passion he had for girls basketball.

Mr. Grassel started the Eastside program, his daughter Jen joked, just so she’d have a team to play on. He was former Penfield High standout Kayleigh Duda’s first coach. She was in fifth grade.

“He just really inspired me and made me understand how much fun (basketball) can be and how you needed to be a good teammate,” said Duda, 27, who invited Mr. Grassel to her wedding last year. “He made our entire team so all together.”

Thank you: Union girls basketball coach Jim Stacy calling it quits after 15 years

The 1977 Shawnee High School graduate guided the Redskins to seven appearances in the state tournament and a combined record of 253-132. Union was in the 6A semifinals as recently as 2012-13, and his 2007-08 team went 27-0 en route to the state title.

“It kind of felt like it was the right time to hang it up,” Stacy said. “My little one’s getting ready to be an eighth-grader and I wanted to be a little more of a dad. I’ve been everybody else’s dad, and now it’s time to give her a little more attention.”

Thank you: Santa Fe High girls basketball coach retires

As the 2014-15 school year winds down, the coaching merry-go-round is speeding up.

The past two days has seen a series of coaching changes, highlighted by the resignation of Elmer Chavez, who retired as the head girls basketball coach at Santa Fe High. Chavez, who spent six years with the program, turned the Demonettes from perhaps the worst program in the state — one that lost 41 out of 43 games from 2009-10 — into a state championship team in 2014. He leaves with a 103-67 record at the school, an impressive achievement considering the Demonettes were 1-23 in his first season.

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Awfulness: UNT women’s basketball player found dead in dorm

“We are deeply saddened and heartbroken by the passing of Eboniey Jeter,” said Rick Villarreal, UNT athletic director. “She was a great young lady and a tremendous competitor, but most of all she was a trusted teammate on the women’s basketball team and a respected member of the Mean Green family.

Relieved-ness: WNBA MVP Moore re-signs with Lynx

Stupid-ness: UK women’s basketball notes: Epps suspended following alcohol incident

Adjusting-ness: Jody Adams, Wichita State introduce changes to women’s basketball program

“I’ve dedicated my life to building a successful program that not only wins basketball games, but prepares young women for the rest of their lives,” Adams said in the release. “I regret if my efforts to build winning teams were ever seen as disrespectful of any person. I’ll continue to look for ways that I can improve both my coaching style and technique to help us win games and improve the lives of our players every day.”

As a result of Monday’s meeting, women’s basketball players and coaches will work with a consultant in sports psychology. The release also said that players will have “enhanced open lines of communication” to athletic administrators, although specific steps were not described.

“They are starting to become like every other league,” U.S. national team coach Geno Auriemma said at training camp on Wednesday. “Players are starting to do what they think is in their best interest. Starting to think about their future. Sometimes that’s not always popular. … The league is strong and viable. It’s proven itself. New stars will pop up.”
I agree with Auriemma. I’m betting other players are just salivating at the chance to make a name for themselves and steal a roster spot. Notes Mechelle: WNBA IN GOOD HANDS AS YOUNG TALENT TAKES REINS

Right after you were allowed in to watch the last half-hour of the U.S. women’s national basketball team minicamp workout at UNLV’s Mendenhall Center this week, you were handed a yellow sheet with the players’ names on it.

NO, NAME, POS, HGT, WGT, DOB, TEAM, COLLEGE, HOMETOWN.

It was surprising that weight was listed among the headings, because you never see weight listed in an NCAA women’s basketball souvenir game program. When I asked a Team USA official about it, she said these are world-class athletes, and they should be treated as such. Amen to that.

One night nearly nine years ago still fuels members of the USA Basketball Women’s National Team, because it’s the one that got away.

Over the last 20 years the various players that have earned roster spots have compiled a ridiculous 86-1 record in major international competitions, including gold medals in the last five Olympics, a 2007 title in the FIBA Americas Championship and gold in four of the last five FIBA World Championships. That one blemish, a 75-68 loss to Russia, came in the semifinals of the 2006 FIBA World Championship, and by the organization’s own absurdly high standards the game still stands out.

“That’s what USA Basketball is at this point,” said guard Sue Bird, who just completed mini-camp in pursuit of her fourth Olympic gold medal. “It’s not a story if we win, it’s a story if we lose.”

Q: Quick observations on the posts at this camp?

Taurasi: BG [Brittney Griner] and Tina [Charles] aren’t here, and they started every game of the world championship last year. They are a huge part of what we do. But the one player I just love is Nneka [Ogwumike]. I love playing with her; I love watching her play. She gives you energy.

Bird: She’s definitely gotten better.

Taurasi: And Sylvia [Fowles] had a good three days, which I’m sure felt good to her.

Bird: Yes, she hasn’t been fully healthy for a while.

Taurasi: I was telling Coach that Syl was our best player in Beijing [the 2008 Olympics] when she was just out of college. And when you look at the teams we will have to beat to win gold, they’re the biggest in the world. There is a place for Syl, and this has been a good three days for her to get back on that track.

This week the highly-decorated girls basketball coach announced she will be retiring from Monarch as a teacher as well as a coach, leaving a giant void from a Coyotes program that has evolved into one of Class 5A’s most consistent winners under Hook’s guidance.

“I think you always come to a point in your life where you wonder if there is something else out there,” Hook said. “I’m in a good position to retire from teaching, and teaching and coaching are both full-time jobs. I asked myself if I’ve done everything in the coaching profession that I set out to do. And I feel like I have. I feel like it’s a good time for change for both me and the program.”

Joel Beck at USA Today give C.O. a shoutout: 30 Years of Honoring The Future: Former POY Chiney Ogwumike using social media to make a difference

Spend a few minutes watching Connecticut Sun forward Chiney Ogwumikes ongoing video blog series, and you’ll come away with a strong realization about the 2014 WNBA All-Star: She just gets it.

Given the ubiquitous nature of social media in the world we live in, it certainly isn’t unusual for professional athletes to turn to the likes of YouTube, Twitter and Facebook for a little shameless self-promotion. What is unique, however, is seeing an athlete using his or her viral star power or magnetic personality to try to make an actual difference in the lives of others—unless, of course, you’re Ogwumike. Then it just seems to be second nature.

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From the folks in Colorado: USA Basketball is excited to announce the launch of three youth development initiatives

Youth basketball coaches and organizations in the United States now have the opportunity to become USA Basketball licensed coaches and accredited organizations with the launch of two USA Basketball youth development initiatives. Additionally, USA Basketball has made available online its newly completed Youth Development Guidebook that establishes national standards for all facets of youth basketball, including robust and progressive teaching and playing standards for all levels of the game. Information about the USA Basketball youth development programs and the Youth Development Guidebook are available online at usab.site-ym.com.

            “The USA Basketball youth development mission is to promote, grow and elevate the sport. One of the ways to do this is the establishment of national standards in the area of youth development. Our vision is to bring more structure to the youth space. We believe these programs will help launch us down that path,” said Jerry Colangelo, USA Basketball chairman. “USA Basketball’s goal is for young players to have the opportunity to play in a fun, safe and supportive environment, while being taught the fundamentals by USA Basketball licensed coaches.”

USA Basketball’s youth development initiatives already are being utilized. USA Basketball worked in partnership with the NBA to train and license coaches and instructors across New York City to implement these standards throughout the 100 clinics taking place at schools during this weekend’s NBA All-Star 2015 festivities.

            Within the basketball model is the player development pathway that is designed to promote ‘basketball for life.’ The curriculum is designed to teach and learn the game based on mastery of skills rather than limiting aspects such as grade, age, position, size or gender.

To become licensed by USA Basketball, coaches must:

  • Complete the USA Basketball online course
  • Complete SafeSport certification
  • Pass a background check

To become accredited by USA Basketball, organizations must:

  • Require all coaches and administrators to obtain their USA Basketball coach license

Speaking of coaches, Arizona Central’s Paola Boivin says, “It’s time to give ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne her due”

Charli Turner Thorne never craved the spotlight. She took satisfaction from the victories, the growth of the Arizona State program and the character of her athletes.

But after 17-plus seasons, nine NCAA Tournaments and two Elite Eight finishes, it is time to acknowledge Turner Thorne for what she is: One of the top women’s college basketball coaches in the country.

Speaking of Arizona: Whoops, we lost another WNBA star

Quite frankly, we’re lucky Taurasi has hung around for this long. She could have left a long time ago to make more money playing in Europe, but instead, she remained in Phoenix and allowed Mercury fans to enjoy a solid decade of entertaining basketball. She has been a loyal member of the Phoenix Mercury since she entered the WNBA, and for that I will always be grateful. I will continue to wear my faded University of Connecticut women’s basketball shirt with pride.

I want to be angry, but I’m not. If I had the opportunity to play basketball in a country that would respect my abilities, on a team that would pay me 15 times more money, I would leave, too.

If the U.S. won’t respect its female athletes like Taurasi, it doesn’t deserve them.

Speaking of Arizona losing stars, LA is loading up: Sparks sign guard Erin Phillips, winner of 2 WNBA titles

Speaking of Australians: Ex-WNBA player finds way to share skills with Carmel Parks and Recreation

Tully Bevilaqua had a long run in the WNBA and other professional women’s basketball leagues.

Now it’s time for her to share what she learned with youngsters.

“I enjoy it,” she said. “I’ve had my day of playing and I’ve had a lot of people help me. So I’m kind of going into that role of giving back now. Being a coach myself and helping other kids that were in my situation.

Speaking of north of LA: Chico State alumna prepared to build for WNBA Seattle Storm

Each day is different for Alisha Valavanis, the president and general manager of the WNBA’s Seattle Storm.

Whether it’s leadership meetings, crafting a marketing plan or making the best effort to assemble a championship team, Valavanis has her hands full.

But, for the Chico State alumna, Valavanis’ experience within the walls of Acker Gym prepared her for the position she holds today.

“I had an incredible experience as an athlete, being involved with the community and being a representative for Chico State,” Valavanis said.

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The PAC 12 is the most interesting power conference (ya, the B12 is kinda fun, and the SEC sure was — before all of those devastating injuries.)

Arizona State stakes a claim to “we’re better than the competition we’ve plowed through on our way to a #10 ranking” by taking down #12 Stanford, 53-52. It wasn’t a particularly elegant game, but it did give the Sun Devils their first sweep of the Cardinal since 1984.

“Beating Stanford is just such a mental hurdle for our team,” Moos said. “When you can finally overcome beating Stanford, that’s when you know your team has reached mental toughness.”

Washington, who’s been on the edge of upsetting folks, did it against #7 Oregon State, 76-67.

“It’ll hit us tomorrow how big of a deal it was,” Washington coach Mike Neighbors said. “Right now it’s just good we bounced back from a tough two-game road swing.”

The Beavers were down a player, Gabby Hanson.

“Gabby’s our best perimeter defender and if you had to miss one game in the conference, this was not the one I would choose,” Rueck said. “Washington’s strength is their perimeter so we certainly missed her. I thought we played with a lot of heart tonight. We competed, it just wasn’t our night.”

Speaking of upsets, Cornell does it again: Penn loses first game at Palestra in over a year

Penn (11-7, 2-2 Ivy) struggled once again on offense, and Cornell (13-6, 4-1 Ivy) took great care of the ball to keep the Quakers from making up for it defensively. Penn turned it over 14 times and was only able to force the visitors into five miscues. 

“It just goes to show you how much they had control of this game,” coach Mike McLaughlin said of Cornell’s ball control. “We have to cause a little more havoc on defense. We gave up too many shots at the basket, there were too many breakdowns – mental breakdowns.”

Next up for Cornell: undefeated Princeton.

Minus their leading scorer (ankle), #19 Nebraska couldn’t overcome #21 Rutgers. It was old school Scarlet Knights, winning ugly, 46-43. While it won’t win any style points, it was the 177th win in the B1G Ten for coach C. Vivian Stringer, making her the winningest in the conference.

“I was shocked when they talked about it,” Stringer said after the game. “I didn’t even know anything about that…I was just trying to get through this game.”

Finally got that “mini-signature win, though it was also pretty style-free:” #25 Syracuse over #13 North Carolina, 61-56.

The two teams combined to go 13-for-55 from the 3-point line and Syracuse pulled out the win after only shooting 27 percent from the field.

Shhh… that’s New Mexico State at 7-0 in the WAC. There’s a familiar name coaching the Aggies: Mark Trakh is in his fourth year.

Okay, it wasn’t anything to write home about, but it’s nice the getting back into the rankings didn’t freak the Colonials out: George Washington wins 52-35 over Davidson. Didja see the article in the Times about the University?

OUCH: Wright State stomped all over the Penguins, 92-55 to earn a little revenge. Nice news on senior Courtney Boyd:

Boyd has faced tragedy, injuries and adversity over the last few years at Wright State. On Thursday, she showed signs of a comeback. 

WOWZA: It took three overtimes, but we got a Debbie Antonelli Special: New Orleans with the upset over McNeese State, 90-86. When the two teams played each other on the 31st, the Cowgirls won 82-58.

“We made a few adjustments in practice and many people did not understand the first time why we played zone. When we played McNeese the first time we forgot our rotations. We were ready tonight. Their words coming were We can and we will,” said Coach Keeshawn Davenport.

Well, lookee here: like the Pac-12, C-USA has got some competition at the top. Southern Miss takes down Middle Tennessee State in OT, 70-65.

Southern Miss enjoys the underdog label.

Especially against MTSU. The Lady Eagles knocked off the Lady Raiders for the second time this season — and the third time since MTSU joined Conference USA last season — with a 70-65 overtime win Thursday at Reed Green Coliseum.

For the third time in three weeks, Southern Miss’ women’s basketball team beat the league’s first-place team, sandwiching a win over Western Kentucky with the victories over MTSU.

Western Kentucky will face the Blue Raiders on the 21st. After that, it’s a race to the Conference Championship.

The West Coast Conference is still a three way battle between Gonzaga, BYU (win #300 for coach Judkins) and St. Mary’s… with San Diego knocking on the door. Gonzaga faces all three in the last three weeks of the regular season. St. Mary’s next faces feisty Pacific and their equally feisty point guard.

Think she’s too short, isn’t quick enough or can’t shoot.

Kristina Johnson would like nothing more than prove you wrong.

Though often the shortest player on the court, the 5-foot-5 senior point guard has contributed to the Pacific basketball team in ways that sometimes can’t be measured. Johnson brings controled fury and a team-first attitude to the Tigers, who host Saint Mary’s in an important West Coast Conference game at 2 p.m. today at Spanos Center.

See – there is no WBH curse! William & Mary (4-6, CAA) takes Drexel (8-2) into overtime… and comes away with the win, 72-68.

For the second straight game the William and Mary women’s basketball team prevailed in a double-overtime, dropping Drexel 72-68 in two extra sessions in Philadelphia on Friday night. Senior Jazmen Boone led five Tribe players in double-figures with a game-high 16 points. With the win, the Tribe, which won its fourth straight game, moved its record to 11-11, 5-6 in Colonial Athletic Association play, while the Dragons fall to 14-8, 8-3 in league action.

Wait. Maybe there is… the Salukis (5-5, Missouri Valley) take down Drake,  81-76. (They lost to the Bulldogs 81-66 in their previous matchup.)

 It was scene that hasn’t been witnessed at the SIU Arena for a long time — especially where women’s basketball is involved.

Dyana Pierre picked up teammate Rishonda Napier and carried her off the floor (Great photo -WHB) after the Salukis upset Drake 81-76. Napier scored 30 points as the Saluki women handed the Bulldogs their first conference loss of the year.

The victory was the twelfth of the year for the Salukis. SIU won just five games last year.

High Point stumbled against Presbyterian, 78-59, and are now three games behind Liberty in the Big South.

Upcoming games of interest:

SIUE women’s basketball at UT Martin. The Cougars, who earned their 9th straight, are 9-1 in the Ohio Valley. The Skyhawks are 10-0 in the OVC. A win today would make a program record conference start.

Rivalry rematch: FGCU v. Stetson.

The Atlantic Sun Conference believes its two flagship women’s basketball programs – FGCU and Stetson – have their best chance to make the NCAA tournament in the same season for the first time ever.

Both teams, of course, would much prefer to be the automatic qualifier.

In-state rivalry: Western Michigan v. Central Michigan.

Youth has not been a major characteristic of the Central Michigan University women’s basketball team in recent seasons.

Many of the teams that have played in the maroon and gold have featured a class of seniors blazing a trail for the freshmen to follow in the seasons to come. 

For this season’s freshmen, it is a different story.

Service rivalry: Army v. Navy.

Sunday games of interest:

A-10 rivals: Dayton v. #24 George Washington.

In-state rivalry: #20 Texas v. #3 Baylor.

In-state rivalry: Miami v. #9 FSU.

Wednesday marks the Women’s Sports Foundation’s 29th annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day, and Florida State has several reasons to celebrate.

The last two years have seen an unprecedented run of success for FSU’s women’s programs. That includes a national championship for soccer, a best-ever regular season for volleyball, a Women’s College World Series appearance for softball and a current Top-10 ranking for basketball.

CAA rivals: Drexel v. James Madison. Coach Kenny Brooks just won his 300th.

America East old v. new: Hartford v. Maine.

Maine is currently riding its longest winning streak since it strung together 13-straight during the 2004-05 campaign. The Black Bears are coming off their biggest win of the year as they defeated the current #1 team in the conference, UAlbany, by a score of 52-44 back on Feb. 1. UAlbany, who leads the league in scoring (67.4 ppg) were held to its lowest total of the year in the loss to Maine. The win snapped a 10-game losing skid against the Great Danes dating back to 2010. 

SEC rivals: #17 Mississippi State v. #14 Texas A&M.

Big 10 rivals: #5 Maryland v. #19 Nebraska.

Though she’s 13 years retired, Maryland women’s basketball players call her “Coach.” At 70, Chris Weller still attends the games and even some workouts of the team she ran for 27 years.

Once, last year, she addressed the Terps after practice.

“I wanted them to know about the legacy we’ve followed,” said Brenda Frese, her successor.

The players got an earful.

She’s back: Versyp reinstates Moore

Foreign Flashback: Abrosimova Brought Magic To Storrs

Now back in Moscow, busier than ever, Svetlana Abrosimova remains a social media maven. She checks in with the world as often as time allows.

So it did not surprise her to learn that Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, the precocious three-point shooter from California, was about to knock her off the list of UConn’s Top 10 career scorers. She’d been reading about it and knew it was coming. .

And for those who remember the unique relationship Abrosimova still shares with Geno Auriemma, hearing that her congratulations to Mosqueda-Lewis was accompanied with a customary dig at her former UConn coach does not surprise.

“I could have scored a lot more if coach Auriemma didn’t make me play defense all the time,” Abrosimova tweeted.

Dueling Delphi’s: From Harvey Araton at the NY Times: Diana Taurasi Can Rest Easy, but W.N.B.A. Can’t

Taurasi’s decision was also an unavoidable commentary on the state of the professional game in the United States, just now short of two decades old, not far removed from its developmental cradle. The growth of the W.N.B.A. notwithstanding, its long-term forecast remains partly cloudy and it may never provide a lucrative, full-time living for its talent.

From Patricia Babcock McGraw: Taurasi’s decision to skip season isn’t a WNBA death sentence

When push comes to shove for aging WNBA stars, their overseas careers might get the push, and the WNBA might get the shove.

Doomsayers are predicting, well, doom for the WNBA, a mass exodus of its stars. Especially now that Taurasi has officially opened this can of worms.

But here’s what the WNBA has going for it: Loyalty. History. Location.

In other W news:

Delle Donne feeling good after “crazy” 2014 season

At Wednesday’s launch of their 10th anniversary celebrations, Elena Delle Donne showed why she’s been made the face of the Sky franchise. She was outgoing in her interactions with the 150 or so girls there for a sports expo, mingled easily with media and dignitaries and spoke strongly about the Sky’s present, future and what the franchise means for the Chicago sports landscape.

It was clear that the offseason has been good for Delle Donne after a 2014 season that was memorable for a lot of negative reasons.

Nothing like stoking an inter-city rivalry: 

Shavonte Zellous signed with Turkish basketball team Fenerbahce on Friday.

Zellous played last season for rival Galatasary, leading that team to the championship in both the domestic and Euroleague. She has been embroiled in a salary dispute for the past few months with that club.

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in California: “Berkeley’s girls basketball coach Cheryl Draper took her team off the court with 1 minute, 20 seconds left in a game in a loss to Miramonte-Orinda, claiming she and her players heard racial slurs.”

And now we have this in Pennsylvania: Smear campaign against nation’s top girls basketball team – Philly’s Neumann-Goretti – traced to rival coach (nice job by write Joseph Santoliquito)

It attempted to discredit the NG program, alleging that the African players on the Saints, here legally, are older than their actual age and are in the United States illegally. Contents of the email were posted on comment forums of media websites (since removed) alleging institutional misconduct, and stating that the “FBI” is looking into the matter.

What PhillyVoice has uncovered is that the email Aston received was not just from anyone. It emanated from an email address that is registered to the name and home address of another Philadelphia Catholic League coach, Archbishop Wood girls basketball coach John Gallagher, who through an attorney neither confirms nor denies sending the email to Aston “and others.”

Additionally, Archbishop Wood has known about this — and has taken no action to date. 

And this from Maine: Witnesses: Calais girls basketball teammates exchanged obscenities, one pushed coach during game

An altercation between two Calais High School girls basketball players during a recent game is believed to have sparked a controversy that prompted the superintendent of schools to tender his resignation, after the school board reduced his disciplinary action against the players.

On the flip side: From the Deseret News: Copper Hills reaping the rewards of years of building program

“To be honest, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” said Morley, who spent nine years coaching boys basketball, as well as football. “There was no tradition, no anything. They basically handed me a bunch of deflated balls and old uniforms and said, ‘Hey, turn the program around.’ I knew there would be work, but to be honest, I didn’t quite know how much.” Morley quickly diagnosed a number of issues. First, he was new to girls basketball so he wasn’t even sure if his experience would translate.

Yes, you can call Kansas State over #20 Texas an upset, but a bigger upset was Oakland (10-11, 4-4) over Green Bay (17-4, 7-1)), 70-67. And it was on the Phoenix’s home court.

By ending UWGB’s season-high winning streak of eight games, Oakland became the first team to knock off the Phoenix in Horizon play at the midway point of the league schedule. What’s more, the feisty Grizzlies handed UWGB (17-4 overall, 7-1 conference) its first home loss.

“I’d be lying to you if I said it wasn’t a little bit of a surprise,” said an elated Jeff Tungate, Oakland’s second-year coach. “But, we’ve had a really good week of practice, and our players have been really determined. I knew we were going to play well coming in. I just didn’t know, is ‘playing well’ going to be enough? Thankfully tonight, it was.”

You may recall that Tungate inherited a program that was a hot mess.

Another big upset: San Jose State (10-11, 4-6 MW) stunned Fresno State (17-4, 9-1), 56-51.

I’m have a funny feeling this group of Mountaineers maybe driving coach Carey bonkers. They take down TCU, 76-71.

Ouch. Albany took out its frustration on New Hampshire, 74-48.

It’s not quite Monday, but it’s never too early to start throwing down gauntlets: Editorial: Greatness awaits USC women’s basketball team

 AS WE WATCHED the University of South Carolina women’s basketball team evolve under the leadership of coach Dawn Staley over the past few years, it was evident that it was on a trajectory toward elite status.

We believe it has crossed that threshold this season, having spent 11 straight weeks at the top of the national rankings. A showdown with No. 2 Connecticut on the road presents a grand opportunity for the Gamecocks to step into rarified air and send a message that not only can it run with the big programs, it can defeat them.

Last season, Kansas State enticed fans to attend a women’s basketball game by offering free bacon.

This season, Georgetown is one-upping those Wildcats with something even better: free kale.

Congrats: Brittany Boyd breaks Cal women’s basketball all-time assist record

Congrats, (but I think the Harvard English professors might want to chat with the headline writer): Fagbenle Reaches Century Mark in Women’s Basketball’s Loss to Penn

Though the Harvard women’s basketball team may have been on the losing end of a back and forth contest against Penn (11-6, 2-1 Ivy) Saturday evening at Lavietes Pavilion, the game was one for the record books.

As the first half came to a close, senior forward Temi Fagbenle sunk a free throw to become the 19th player in Crimson history to score 1,000 points. Fagbenle was Harvard’s leading scorer in the game, earning 19 points to bring her career total to 1,010.

Intersting: Pepperdine Students to Protest Alleged Discrimination Against Lesbian Basketball Players – The women claim their coach told them, ‘Lesbianism isn’t tolerated here.’ 

Some great stuff by Sue on Diana’s decision to sit out the WNBA season:

A Washington Post columnist says Diana Taurasi’s decision to sit out this year’s WNBA season for $1.5 million to play for her Russian team next winter is “a sobering message for the WNBA.”

Nope. It’s business as usual.

It’s a sad situation for Taurasi, the WNBA’s highest-paid player at just less than $107,000 a year, and a problem for the WNBA.

No, this is a sad situation, as is any player who is so worn down after year-round playing that they look tired in WNBA press conferences. And there are lots of those. Taurasi is taking advantage of her skills and her popularity and accepting a great offer that will take care of her financially when she’s older. She’s doing it on her terms, her way. As my source who first told me this news Friday night said, taking the money was “a no-brainer” for Taurasi.

It’s curious that Russian teams will pay big bucks to American players, but U.S. teams will not.

Again, no. I wrote about the differences between U.S. and European/Asian salaries in 2012:

Women’s professional basketball in Europe and Asia is directly effected by the worldwide recession because teams there are sponsored by businesses and governments. When faced with keeping their enterprises alive, companies cut the extras, like their team sponsorships. Ditto, governments. And as up to 100 percent of a team’s budget can come from sponsors, some franchises are forced to fold……

Nice piece on the NCAA’s Champion Magazine on FGCU’s Kaneisha Atwater:

Ninety-eight percent of teen moms do not graduate college before they turn 30. Kaneisha, though, is on the cusp of being counted among the other 2 percent. She is on pace to receive a degree in criminal justice from Florida Gulf Coast University in May 2016, thanks to a basketball scholarship.

For decades, a birth often marked the death of a college career. News reports told stories of scholarships that weren’t renewed, of free paths to a degree blockaded, of pregnant athletes whose fear of losing their place on a team steered them to abortions. Those accounts spurred culture change: In 2008, Division I adopted legislation preventing athletes from losing their scholarships for medical reasons the year they became pregnant. Seven years later, schools like Florida Gulf Coast are willing to make accommodations so athletes like Kaneisha can juggle diapers and textbooks and basketballs.

Having a flashback to Yolanda Griffith’s experience at Palm Beach Community College under coach Sally Smith.

The door she opened led her to one of the top programs and coaches in the country, Iowa and C. Vivian Stringer. But, not long after enrolling, Griffith discovered she was pregnant. With the father uninterested in raising a child, she left school and returned to Chicago where her family banded around her. The birth of her daughter, Candace, in May of 1989 found Griffith unsure what the future held for her. Realizing she wanted to continue to play basketball, a game plan was laid out: go to a Junior College, graduate, then finish out her career at a four-year college. The first thought was to stay local, but a good friend knew the head coach at Palm Beach Community College, Sally Smith. Interestingly enough, Smith, who had been the first black All-American on the legendary Nashville Business College team, herself had had a daughter when she was 18. “He said,” recalled Griffith, “’This is the best place for you as far as the facilities, getting education, and helping single parents.’”

Wait, isn’t this a recruiting violation for UConn-Notre Dame-Louisville? Mo’ne Davis, Charles, Diggins, Schimmel to Play in Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game

 

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Bye-Bye Goes the Bun

Kate Fagan ‏@katefagan3 4m4 minutes ago
Diana Taurasi will skip the 2015 WNBA season. The star’s club team has offered her $ to rest this summer. She accepted.

Diana’s letter.

Kate Fagan on the Missing Bun: Diana Taurasi’s decision to sit out should spark WNBA salary changes

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The NY Times pays attention: Years of Repetition Help Sharpshooter Equal a Record – Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis of UConn Took Aim at Record for 3-Pointers

As Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis took aim at one of the most significant scoring records in women’s basketball at Connecticut, perhaps the most meaningful assist had nothing to do with any teammate.

Mosqueda-Lewis, a senior forward, hit three 3-pointers in a 98-60 win over Tulsa at the XL Center in Hartford on Wednesday night to match Diana Taurasi’s team career record of 318. In a recent interview, Mosqueda-Lewis recalled her stepfather’s devotion as they laid the foundation for her success, shot by twisting shot.

“Repetition is what works for me,” she said, “constantly getting shots up.”

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a litte US v. Spain recap via:

Yours truly and Lee: Women’s World Cup: USA sweeps to gold with 77-64 win over Spain 

The United States’ offense was at times elegant – as when Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) bulleted a court-long past to Seimone Augustus for one of her game-high assists – and at times muscular, as when Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx) ended the first quarter with a crowd-pleasing drive to the basket.

Women’s World Cup: Australia takes bronze in 74-44 rout of Turkish hosts

It was obvious that the Turkish team was disappointed and emotionally exhausted after their tournament run, but there was pride, too. “I’d like to congratulate the Australians on their win tonight,” said Turkish coach Ceyhun Yildizoglu. “They fought really hard to get this win, and it was a particularly powerful performance coming off their loss to the United States last night. For us it was just the opposite. We weren’t able to bounce back from the game last night (Turkey’s loss to Spain).”

Doug: Maya Moore leads U.S. to gold medal

Sue Bird added another gold medal to her already incredible U.S. basketball resume.

Bird became the most-decorated player in world championship history when the Americans won a second straight gold with a 77-64 victory over Spain on Sunday night.

Last year, Maya Moore “traveled” far into the future. The magic of professional make-up artists transformed her into “Betty Lou,” the old lady who shows she hasn’t lost her basketball mojo in a Pepsi Max commercial with similarly aged NBA players Kyrie Irving and Nate Robinson.

When Moore looked in the mirror and saw herself in artificial elderly form, her competitiveness came out.

“I hope I’m going to look better than that,” she said with a grin during this past WNBA season. “Both of my grandmothers are aging well, and my mom is, too. I’ve got some good genes.”

No one — least of all Team USA’s opponents at the FIBA World Championship for Women — will dispute that. The United States won the gold medal Sunday with a 77-64 victory over Spain, and Moore was named the tournament’s most valuable player.

Boti Nagy: Australia captain Penny Taylor named in All-Star Five after excellent World Championship form and Marianna Tolo stars as Opals hammer Turkey to secure third place at World Championships

 Brutal defensive pressure and brilliant offensive teamwork has won Australia a bronze medal at the FIBA Women’s World Championships after a 74-44 win over host nation Turkey.

Marianna Tolo led the assault with an Opals tournament-high of 21 points at 73 per cent, grabbing six rebounds and playing great defence in a complete performance which should secure avid WNBA interest for the France-based centre.

AAP: Opals finish in the medals at world championships

 The Australian women’s basketball team has saved it s best for last to win the bronze medal in style at the world championship.

The Opals, missing their two most influential players, completed an impressive campaign with a 30-point thumping of hosts Turkey in Sunday’s third-place playoff.

Today’s Zaman: Turkey loses bronze medal chance after Australia defeat

It’s been lovely to be in Istanbul and really fun to be in the arena for the World Championships. The praised heaped on the Turkish fans is well deserved.  I wish I could have seen more of the city, but that just means I can come back again. Until then, some final shots of the Blue Mosque.

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so twiddling my thumbs… so:

Don’t get fooled by the score, Serbia brought it against the US… and then some.

From Mechelle (who, I think, is writing from the mid-west?): Usual suspects step up for Team USA – Stars from Mercury, Lynx step up as USA Basketball clinches Group D’s top seed

The Americans’ 94-74 victory essentially guarantees them a flawless record in Group D play, as they go against far-overmatched Angola in the third game Tuesday (ESPN3, 2:30 p.m. ET). The toughest test in group play was expected to be Serbia, and that proved to be the case. It took until the fourth quarter for the U.S. team to put away the win, and it was the Mercury-Lynx combination that led the way in preventing the upset.

Looks like Doug’s long form game articles can be found directly on the AP site: US Women Hold Off Serbia 94-74

With Serbia hanging around midway through the fourth quarter, Diana Taurasi and the U.S. women’s basketball team stepped up their play to finally pull away.

Taurasi scored 13 of her 20 points in the final period and the Americans beat Serbia 94-74 on Sunday in the world championship to clinch the top seed in Group D.

“It was a tough game,” Taurasi said. “Every possession was a battle. They made us work on defense. There are some things we probably got to clean up. These games are good for us. This team hasn’t been together very long. In the two weeks that we’ve been together, we’ve been battle-tested a couple of times, which in the long run will only help us.”

Some UConn fans have made the trip, and give their inside the stands report.

USA Basketball is on YouTube:

They’re also online: USA Battles To 94-74 Win Over Serbia

The 2014 USA Basketball Women’s World Championship Team (2-0) fought off a resilient Serbia (1-1) team that was within six points at the start of the fourth quarter before the USA pulled away for a 94-74 win in the 2014 FIBA World Championship on Sunday night at Abdi Ipekci Arena in Istanbul, Turkey.

From their fabulous “additional quotes” section:

Auriemma, on tonight’s game being so close through three quarters:

I think sometimes on the outside, people think you just show up, roll the ball out and we have 25 points right away. It doesn’t work that way. These are national teams. They have players that are good. They know how to make shots, they know how to play. They’re experienced. They play well together. So, it takes us time because this is our training camp. These games are kind of like our training camp. These last five or six games we played in Paris and here.

That’s a really, really good team that plays with a lot of heart, that plays with a lot of passion. I’m not surprised that the game was difficult. But, we have some amazing players on our team that when the game is to be won, they make winning plays.

This kid OH-gwu-MOO-kay is writing a blog:

From FIBA:

Canadian prospects benefit from learning curve

Veteran guard Kim Gaucher believes the future of the Canada backcourt is in safe hands despite suffering  first loss at the FIBA World Championship for Women.

Indeed Gaucher is hugely excited about what could follow, such is the current glut of emerging talent.

‘Nothing complicated, simple old school’ basketball keeps Aussies going

 Erin Phillips has been the live-wire of the Australian Opals squad, especially in the absence of Lauren Jackson and Liz Cambage.

The Phoenix Mercury shooting guard was once again at the vanguard of another Australian win on Sunday – the second in as many games – assuring the team of place in the next round.

“The way we are playing is very good. There’s a lot of positive energy,” said the 29-year-old, who had four points, five rebounds and handed out a game-high seven assists.

Leuchanka wanted to go down fighting rather than be found want of trying

 Belarus needed back-to-back three-pointers inside the final 30 seconds of their game against fiesty Cuba to cap a 12-0 run in the last three minutes to pull off a Houdini-esque 70-69 win on Sunday at the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women.

Leader Yelena Leuchanka had a beast of game with 20 points and a tournament-high 18 rebounds and played a expectedly pivotal role in that final outburst before Nadzeya Drozd and Katsiaryna Snytsina came up with the two makes from beyond the arc to ensure the 2010 FIBA World Championship for Women Semi-Finalists will advance from the Group Phase.

Turkey, USA seal Quarter-Final spots on Day 2

Turkey and the United States won for the second day in a row at the FIBA World Championship for Women to clinch first place in their respective groups and spots in the Quarter-Finals.

Spain and the Czech Republic also prevailed to set up a battle for Group A supremacy, and both Australia and Belarus won their games to set up a Group C showdown for first.

Vesela finds that loving feeling

Jana Vesela is simply loving being back in a Czech Republic vest and helping her nation post a flying start to the FIBA World Championship for Women.

The veteran forward had a very different experience last year, when her first outing at EuroBasket Women 2013 ended in tears as she was carried off to hospital in agony.

Shao Ting stands tall leading China’s transition

 Shao Ting indeed is the perfect representation of the transition phase in Chinese women’s basketball.

Shao Ting had not figured in any of the many youth national teams that China developed and was almost a nobody until a sterling performance in her maiden WCBA season with the Beijing Great Wall paved the way for her inclusion in Maher’s ‘clean up’ mission.

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Dunno why it didn’t come up before, but: Recent events spice things up in Istanbul

Having made a strong case for Ankara being my preferred location for the Group Phase of the FIBA World Championship for Women, events over the weekend narrowed the gap.

Unfortunately it was bad news for Australia which potentially threw things open in Group C in Istanbul as they lost Liz Cambage to injury at the Paris tournament – something which is a crushing blow for the Opals and neutrals like myself.

The prospect of seeing a breath-taking talent like Cambage missing from the world stage for four years is a big blow for women’s basketball and, in the short term, for this competition. While Australia beat France without her as Marianna Tolo stepped up in the paint, this vital absence (along with Lauren Jackson) arguably gives more hope to Belarus and Cuba.

And, from FIBAEUROPE.com: Problems in the Paint Worry Belarus

Belarus face a tough task in repeating their superb run to the semi-finals of the FIBA World Championship for Women when they step out in Istanbul next week. 

It’s been an intense few years of distinct peaks and troughs for the national team and just when they had seemed to be back on an upward curve in the wake of a creditable fifth-place finish at EuroBasket Women 2013, they are now in danger of hitting another bump in the road.

Key absences are likely to seriously threaten their prospects of making another big splash on the global stage and that means expectations have to be re-aligned.

Euro Guns Ready to Fire on the World Stage

Six European teams are preparing to launch an assault on the FIBA World Championship for Women when the action tips-off in Ankara and Istanbul this weekend. 

And, there will be a real blockbuster for fans to enjoy in the capital as the host nation go up against fellow heavyweights France in Group B.

This will be a hugely important game for both teams, who know a victory will get them onto the front foot and stave off pressure – something particularly important for host nation Turkey.

A huge crowd is expected to support the local favourites, who will be looking to avenge their semi-final loss against Les Bleues at EuroBasket Women last summer.

Torrens Relishing her Turkish Return:

EuroLeague Women champion Alba Torrens is relishing a return to Turkey with the national team as Spain prepare to aim for successive podium finishes at the FIBA World Championship for Women

The Spanish ace famously led Galatasaray odeabank to their first EuroLeague Women title last season, as well as a first Turkish League Championship in more than a decade to cement herself as a legend with the TKBL juggernauts.

Having since made the switch to UMMC Ekaterinburg, Torrens is looking forward to heading back to the country she lived in recently.

“At the FIBA World Championship I’m going to play in front of Turkish fans again and I’m really excited about it,” she declared.

Sigh of Relief for Kulichova and Czechs:

When experienced Czech center Petra Kulichova went down in the final quarter of their last preparation game against USA, it looked like her FIBA World Championship for Women prospects were over. 

However, to the considerable relief of the 30-year-old, her team-mates and head coach, Lubor Blazek, the ankle injury she sustained was not as serious as first thought.

It had looked so bad when it happened that it seemed inevitable she would miss out.  Diana Taurasi was one of the first players to offer verbal support and a speedy recovery to Kulichova as she sat glumly waiting for the game to finish and for a full medical assessment to be undertaken.

Mandic Flies Flag for Rising Stars

When asked to name a rising star of the women’s game from Serbia, you could be forgiven for thinking immediately of Aleksandra Crvendakic or Dragana Stankovic.

After all, the duo have had standout careers at youth level and are preparing to play together for UE Sopron in EuroCup Women this season.

Or, you might throw Aleksandra Stanacev into the equation. A playmaker who is diminutive in physical stature, but plays with a big heart and with just as much talent – something that recently earned her a move to Liga Femenina.

However Sanja Mandic is now the name on everbody’s lips after the teenager was named on the Serbia senior roster for the FIBA World Championship for Women which tips-off on Saturday.

If you’re a twitter person, AP Doug’s at @DougFeinberg and Paul’s at @basketmedia365.

On paper, this looks like game of opening day…. v – going to be almost 10,000 fans.Bring the NOISE!

And look for the hashtag #Turkey2014.

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Almost.

My brain moved my flight up 36 hours. Luckily I looked at my reservation and went, “Hey, I’m not leaving until Sunday night!” That’s what comes of purchasing a ticket months ago. It also means I can go in to the office Saturday and finish up some final bits of business instead of staying there deep into the night….

Brittney didn’t miss her flight, and Geno seems wicked happy.

“I was worried,” Griner admitted. “I was worried about my eye, honestly. I had a teammate lose her eyesight playing basketball in college, so that was always in the back of my mind. I wanted to make sure my eye was okay, and also, I wanted to play with USA Basketball. So, it would have sucked bad to get bad news twice. When I heard that I was able to come play, I hopped on a plane, came in and started practicing.”

Speaking of wicked happy, if you can’t fly to Turkey for the FIBA World Championship (notice the singular – thanks CW), you’re in luck: the games are being broadcast and, because the US is the featured game (often 9:3opm) the time difference works in your favor. Tomorrow, for instance, USA faces China at 2:30 p.m. EDT.

All games will be carried by NBA TV and ESPN3/Watch ESPNThe gold medal game, regardless of who advances, will air on ESPN2 at 11am PT on Oct. 5. If you don’t have NBA TV, the Watch ESPN app or ESPN via your computer, you can pay a $10 subscription to watch the full tournament on LiveBasketball.TV. Or/And use the hashtag #Turkey2014 on Twitter to get updates and commentary about the competition.

From Geno: Are you happy to finally get the games started tomorrow?

I am. I think the first one is always the most difficult. You’re not quite sure what you’re going to get. You want to obviously get off to a great start and set the tone for the way the tournament’s going to go. In this case, too, we’re anxious to see how Brittney’s going to fit in. We haven’t played a game with her yet. We’ve had two practices with her. I guess by USA Basketball standards, that’s a long time. But I think that all the players and I’ve noticed in the past two days in practice that there’s a sharper focus. Now that we’re here, it’s right there in front of us. So, we’re pretty excited about it.

Thanks to the AP, Doug is in Turkey to cover the game. Support him and click through and read the full story: US women set to defend hoop title at world tourney

The U.S. has only lost once at the worlds since 1998, but suffered a rare defeat in an exhibition game against France last weekend.

That setback raised a few eyebrows heading into the tournament, which begins Saturday in Istanbul.

“There are a lot of really good teams in the tournament and we’re one of them,” said coach Geno Auriemma “For us or anyone else to think we’re anything more than that is not being really objective about this whole thing.”

I don’t know if anyone from ESPN is in Turkey, but Lee from Full Court is: 2014 Women’s World Championship officially opens in Istanbul

“The country should be very proud of the success achieved by the women’s national team,” added Elphinston. “They performed very well at the 2012 London Olympics, as well as at the European level, and most recently also at the youth level. This is an example of what hard work combined with strong government and commercial support can do to take the sport to the next level.”

In Istanbul or not, Mechelle can still write: Team USA ready to take on the world

Those involved with USA Basketball tend to lament the lack of time that the American team gets to spend together preparing for major events, especially compared to most other nations.

But one of the things that’s interesting about the 2014 version that starts play in the 2014 FIBA World Championship on Saturday in Turkey (ESPN3, 2:30 p.m. ET) is how much familiarity actually is a part of this squad — at least pods of familiarity.

NBC OlympicTalk (?!?!)’s Nick Zaccardi is Analyzing the U.S. women’s basketball roster for World Championships

Oh, Canada: Canadian women’s basketball team set for FIBA world championship – At familiar grounds in Turkey, the Canadian women’s basketball team appears poised for success ahead of the biggest stage in the sport.

The vivid recollections washed over them and the wonderful moments became fresh in their minds as members of the Canadian women’s basketball team walked in the Ankara Arena in Turkey for practice Wednesday afternoon.

For the majority of the 12-woman team, recalling the last time they’d played a significant game on the court was enough to buoy their confidence going into the world championship that begins Saturday morning.

More Canada: Special times for the Nurse family

This has to be such an exciting time for the Nurse family.

Not only is UConn freshman Kia Nurse preparing to play for Canada in the FIBA World Championship for Women which starts on Saturday, but her older brother Darnell is making a serious push at making the opening-night roster for the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers.

So who’s the competition? WNBAlien Richard meets Dishin’ & Swishin’ Dave. Richard knows his international basketball players.

You’ll know some of them, too: 35 Current and Former WNBA Players to Compete in 2014 FIBA World Championship

From FIBA: Global celebration of women’s basketball officially open

“This tournament is about a lot more than Turkey. It is about continuing the emergence of basketball across the globe, in all five continents.

“Hosting this Championship is part of a journey that began over 20 years ago, when we set out to become a leading basketball nation and that meant doing so both in men’s and women’s basketball. The great sporting results we have achieved in recent years are a proof of this.”

Also from FIBA: USA the team to beat as 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women set to tip off Saturday

Mechelle and Graham argue about who’s the most important player on the National Team.

Brittney Griner is a presence unlike any other available to Team USA. Or available to the rest of the world, for that matter.

The opportunity in front of her is unlike that in front of any other player on the American roster.

v

I voted for Minnesota’s Maya Moore as the WNBA’s MVP this season, and had no qualms about that. But we saw that the MVP for the playoffs was Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi, and I think that status will continue into the upcoming world championship.

I’d say “Ignore Angel at your peril:” Talking Turkey With Olympic Champion Angel McCoughtry

Earlier this month Angel McCoughtry was practicing with her USA Basketball teammates in Annapolis, Maryland, not far from her hometown of Baltimore.

Now she is prepping her teammates for her second home of Istanbul, Turkey. 

McCoughtry, a 6-foot-1 forward who helped Team USA to gold medals at the 2010 FIBA World Championship for Women and the London 2012 Olympic Games, plays professionally for Fenerbahҫe in Istanbul. The upcoming FIBA World Championship for Women, set for Sept. 27-Oct. 5, will be played in Turkey with the gold-medal game being held in the same arena where McCoughtry plays with her pro team. 

“The people there love basketball, both for the men and the women,” McCoughtry said. “And I’m so excited to show my teammates around Turkey

Sue says : “The five that start on the bench could be the starters”

LH : What’s the strength of this team ? Your physicality ?

SB : Well, you know, we have a lot of strengths, we are very lucky ! One that is think is huge, and will help us in a tournament like the World Cup where we have 3 games in a row then a little bit of a break before three other games in a row, is our depth. We are not going to rely on 6-7 players, like some countries do. We have a very talented team. The five that start on the bench could be the starters, easily. Like I said, I think that is probably our biggest advantage. Then, yes, of course, we have some very talented players.

Espana: Laia Palau : “Sancho Lyttle represents more than half of this team’s strength”

Ladyhoop : You lost one of your team’s important figures in Amaya Valdemoro, who retired.

L.P. : Indeed ! She did great things for us and we are going to miss her but we have to look forward. We gave the ball to other players, like Alba or Xargay. The youngsters are playing very well, furthermore. This year, we got Ann Cruz, coming from the WNBA. We have young players with a lot of experience.

The Opals say: “We’re not fazed by loss of Lauren Jackson and Liz Cambage

While Joyce stressed only a team effort would cover the losses, he singled out veteran Penny Taylor as a figure capable of inspiring the team.

Taylor, 33, will captain the Opals in Turkey after fighting her way back from two injury-plagued seasons.

“Penny has the ability to raise the standard in others and that’s what leadership is from my point of view,” Joyce said of Taylor, who this month won a WNBA title with Phoenix.

“We certainly need that right now with everything that’s happened.”

And let’s not forget they have Mini Mi! Leilani Mitchell : “We played our first three games together here in Paris”

I’m waiting for something new from Paul Nilsen, but until it arrives, you’ll just have to settle for this piece from May pondering, Who will be the center of attention in Turkey?

Kevin Tresolini hits the big time as his piece on EDD lands in USAToday: Elena Delle Donne hopes home cooking will be the cure

A basketball season undermined by illness and injury is over sooner than Elena Delle Donne would have preferred.

The U.S. begins play in the FIBA World Championships on Saturday in Turkey. But Delle Donne is not on its 12-woman roster because of a bulging disk in her lower back.

Still, the former Ursuline Academy and University of Delaware All-American, less than two weeks removed from the Chicago Sky being swept in the WNBA Finals, has already made progress toward recovery.

And 2016, with the Summer Olympics positioned on the August calendar, remains firmly in her sights as well.

In other news:

Nate is keeping busy: 2014 WNBA rookies who deserve All-Rookie honorable mentions

As the 2014-15 NCAA season approaches, we’ll begin breaking down the top prospects for the 2015 WNBA Draft in the next few days. But before moving on completely to next year, it helps to take stock of how the 2014 rookie class performed beyond those who got All-Rookie recognition.

Sorry haters, it doesn’t look like the 18-year-old WNBA is going to collapse just yet: High quality competition boosts WNBA, fans

Across many regions including these Twin Cities, the WNBA is establishing a root that is growing. 

As proof, look no further than the exciting three-game Western Conference Final (WCF) series between the Minnesota Lynx and eventual WNBA champion, Phoenix Mercury. With central young stars Maya Moore and Britney Griner at the root of the rivalry, both the Twin Cities and Phoenix can lean back and look forward to a decade of should-see-TV.

Awesome: 21 ways we love WNBA champ Brittney Griner

It was the summer of Brittney – not the singer with one T but the gay Houston native with two. Hang on tight, because you’re about to love this lesbian WNBA All Star, even if you’ve been living under a sports-free rock.

Brittney Griner’s reign actually goes way beyond this past summer. It’s Griner’s whole year, and we’re just living in it. In a relative flash, the Nimitz High School basketball star has gone from Texas phenom to national treasure. Now everything she touches makes gay Houston proud.

Griner put the LGBT nation on notice in 2013. That’s when the No. 1 draft pick out of Baylor came out as gay matter-of-factly to the roar of lesbian basketball fans. Her star’s rise gained momentum off the court when she stood up to bullies, became a Nike menswear model, wrote a book “In My Skin,” and wowed a star-studded gay crowd.

OK. I admire Becky as much as anyone (thanks, Robin). But can some please break the pencil of the next writer who uses “undrafted” and “Hammon” together with out the qualifier: Because the bloody ABL talent flooded the bloody WNBA pool. I mean, friggin’ Jennifer Rizzotti was drafted 48th!

WATN? Tangela Smith: Western Michigan.

WATN? Le’Coe Willingham: Tennessee State.

Surprise! (NOT): Stephanie White takes over as Fever’s head coach

“I’m so glad that it is happening in this state. I’m so glad that it is happening with this franchise. To play at every level in my home state and now to be the head coach of the pro team is a pretty surreal moment,” White said in a phone interview Tuesday night. “I’m just realizing how humbling and special this moment is.”

More on Steph from the Indy Star: New Fever coach Stephanie White altered her career plan from astronaut to WNBA leader

Speaking of coaches, nice to see that hullabaloo was nothing but smoke: Holy Cross, Coach Bill Gibbons Agree To Contract Extension

Old Big East Flashback: Ieva Kublina, whose stellar career helped the women’s basketball program to four consecutive postseason appearances and ended with 95 consecutive starts, is the newest member of the  Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame.

Jayda continues her Storm exit interviews: All-Star Crystal Langhorne filled a void in the paint

Unfortunately, this doesn’t surprise me: Qatar out of women’s basketball over hijab row

The wearing of hijabs has become a hot topic in sport in recent years with Muslim athletes complaining that they are being discriminated against.

Judoka Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani hit the headlines at the 2012 London Olympics when Saudi Arabia demanded she be allowed to compete wearing a hijab.

While international judo federation rules at the time barred her from doing so, Shaherkani was eventually allowed to compete wearing a modified veil.

Human Rights Watch told Reuters it should have been up to FIBA to prove why Qatari players should not wear headscarves.

“We oppose any general ban on wearing of headscarves and onus should be on the regulator to prove why a ban is necessary on the basis of health and safety,” it said.

“In the case of basketball, it’s difficult to see how a ban on the headscarf is anything other than an unnecessary restriction on the players’ rights to religious freedom and personal autonomy.”

We’re not surprised, because we know the history:

You may have heard the story of former Memphis and Indiana State women’s basketball player Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir: she was the first Muslim woman to play NCAA Division I basketball wearing hijab (after breaking Rebecca Lobo’s high school scoring record in Massachusetts).

Yet since graduating from Indiana State, she has led the fight against FIBA’s rules restricting headwear in international competition.

As with most women’s basketball players, the Massachusetts native aspired to pursue a professional career internationally. However, FIBA’s ban on wearing headgear (that also affects Jewish and Sikh men) has kept her from playing overseas.

It’s been a long, tough day, so we’re going to add (and end on) a positive note: Just put in an order for 170 tickets to the Maggie Dixon Classic on January 4th at the Garden. I had — just HAD to round it up, so I do have three extra tickets in case you’re cranky you missed your chance to join us. Just email me: womenshoopsblog @ gmail.com.

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(though, I have a feeling the results won’t be so friendly), 7pm, ESPN.

Some pre-game reading:

USA Basketball Women’s National Team Roster Set For Exhibition Versus Canada

  Traveling on to Europe to compete in the Sept. 19-21 France International Tournament in Paris as finalists for the 2014 USA World Championship Team are: Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Tina Charles (New York Liberty), Skylar Diggins (Tulsa Shock),Stefanie Dolson (Washington Mystics), Jantel Lavender (Los Angeles Sparks), Kayla McBride(San Antonio Stars), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx),Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks), Odyssey Sims (Tulsa Shock), Breanna Stewart(University of Connecticut) and Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx).

            2014-16 USA Basketball Women’s National Team members DeWanna Bonner (Phoenix Mercury), Elena Delle Donne (Chicago Sky), Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury), Sylvia Fowles(Chicago Sky), Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury), Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) andCourtney Vandersloot (Chicago Sky) were competing in the recently concluded WNBA Finals and unable to attend the USA’s domestic training camp. USA Basketball will announce at a later date which of these athletes will join the finalists in Europe.

Here are some Quotes From Women’s National Team Scrimmage With Canada

On the Canadian Husky: Nurse learning from experience of a lifetime

 Kia Nurse was two years old when Sue Bird made her debut for the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team.

No wonder the United States national team’s point guard and three-time Olympic gold medalist feels her age when she looks across the court at the UConn freshman and point guard for Team Canada.

But with age comes experience and wisdom and Bird knows exactly what Nurse is getting into.

About the W, Nate offers: Diana Taurasi shines in Phoenix Mercury’s Game 3 win, 2014 WNBA Finals bring big TV ratings

The other day I wrote a response to Jeff Pearlman’s article in the Medium about the state of the WNBA, which I felt was a perfectly reasonable critique of the league.

It got longer than I initially intended, but there were really three points there:

1. The league is making progress, has done what it could to promote its young stars, and the evolution of the game on the court demands patience as basketball fans familiarize themselves with the league.

2. The league still has yet to persuasively answer why it’s worth sports fans’ time, especially in a crowded sports market that runs right up against the NFL season.

3. As I alluded to and James stated explicitly in the comments, the league theoretically has appeal to multiple demographics and arguably greater social value than other sports leagues but seriously risks turning off one demographic if it pushes too hard to attract another. Yet it has struggled over time to decide whether it will target one demographic or try to embrace its broad appeal.

NCAA: Every year they do this, an every year folks participating say, “Dang, this is harder than it looks!” Women’s basketball mock exercise spotlights 2015 championship changes

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with BG on the bench and EDD moving better, they had a chance to make the Merc sing this:

Instead, a total team effort — and some classic DT — has Phoenix singing this:

It’s lovely knowing that pro women’s basketball ain’t over and, selfishly, I’m hoping that Elena is healthy enough (and fortunate enough) to be named to the USA National Team. I want to see her on the same side as BG in Turkey. ’cause then, they can all sing:

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has got me thinking about Taj Mahal:

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