Posts Tagged ‘Donna Orender’

“So what’d I miss?

A little Fresno, Frisco, Flooding and Fever threw me off my game this week. Wheeee!

Some interesting, interesting stuff happening on the boards. Obviously, the folks who say there are no upsets in women’s basketball are looking more and more like the uniformed idjits they are. That being said, if some of the upsets aren’t setting of alarm bells in the Athletic Director’s offices, I’d be disappointed… but not surprised.

Let us count the upsets – and note how many unranked teams were involved:

Indiana over #18 Michigan State, 81-65. Lesson: It would be nice if local papers paid attention to Moren’s team:

“As I expressed to our players tonight, I hope this win gives them a dose of confidence,” head coach Teri Moren said. “And they believe when they communicate, when they stay connected defensively, when they hit shots—they’re going to be in the game and win a lot of ball games. That’s my hope that this win gives our kids a shot in the arm that they can play with the best teams in the Big Ten…I’m just really, really proud.”

Northwestern over #5 Ohio State, 86-82. Lesson: You’ve got to play four quarter, youngsters.

Northwestern brought Ohio State back to earth on Thursday night in Evanston, Ill., with a thud that sent ripples around Lake Michigan.

The Wildcats jumped to a 48-30 halftime lead and withstood a late comeback by the fifth-ranked Buckeyes to hand them an 86-82 defeat at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

The loss snapped an eight-game winning streak for the Buckeyes (12-4, 4-1) and knocked them out of a tie with Purdue for the Big Ten lead.

Arkansas over #13 Tennessee, 64-59. Lesson:  Whatever the upheavals outlined by Mechelle, it’s fair to point a finger at Holly.

Let’s be clear…this was a bad team at 7-10.

And with the No. 146 ranked defense, No. 155 in field goal percentage defense, Tennessee responded with another atrocious shooting night.

The Vols shot worse than 35 percent from the field and below 30 percent from beyond the arc. In general women’s basketball, that’s okay.

But it’s not okay when you’re Tennessee and you have the talent. While there’s only one senior starter, there are two three-year players and another four-year player in the lineup. So the excuses are running thin, and Warlick’s misuse of her team’s strengths is evident.

Georgia over #20 Florida, 71-61. Lesson: Nice time to get your first SEC win, coach Taylor. (Gotta fix the Georgia page, though. A.nnoy.ing!

NC State over #22 Duke, 65-62. Lesson: There may be some changes in the ACC: The win improved the Wolfpack to 13-5 and more importantly 4-1 in ACC play, while Duke fell to 12-6 and 1-3.

2015-16 has been a record-setting season to date for Duke Women’s Basketball, in all the worst possible ways. Duke lost to an unranked opponent at home for the first time since 2002 (when an Iciss Tillis flub at the end of the Duke Classic championship game led to an overtime loss to South Carolina). Tonight the Blue Devils lost to the Wolfpack Women in Cameron for the first time since 1996, when Chasity Melvin led her team to a win. In this contest, NC State rode a 30-11 edge in points off turnovers to edge Duke, 65-62. This loss will no doubt drop #22 Duke (12-6, 1-3 ACC) out of the rankings for the first time since the 1999-2000 season.

Washington over #17 UCLA, 64-56. Lesson: The Pac12 teams are like the Old Big East teams: Not to be dismissed.

[Talia] Walton’s performance Friday night — 22 points and six rebounds in 39 minutes — went a long way toward helping legitimize the Huskies’ hopes of reaching the NCAA tournament for a second consecutive season. The win was the first for UW (13-4, 4-2 Pac-12) against a ranked opponent this season.

“When she plays like this,” Plum said, “we can beat anyone.”

Washington State over #25 USC, 73-61. Lesson: Pac12 means No. games. off.

“We just lost our focus,” head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke said. “We didn’t come out ready to play and they outplayed us. They hustled more and just played better than us.”

Oklahoma State over #14 Oklahoma, 73-42. Lesson: Who knows WHAT is going on in Stillwater? The Cowgirls just came off a 47-44 loss to Kansas. Perhaps all games should be listed as “Bedlam” games?

#24 Missouri over #7 Mississippi State, 88-54. Lesson: Get out fast.

Missouri’s hot start was a stark contrast compared to its two other games this season against ranked opponents. The Tigers trailed Tennessee 24-11 less than 10 minutes into a 71-55 loss on Jan. 4 and trailed South Carolina 25-10 just more than 13 minutes into Sunday’s 83-58 loss.

Thursday’s result could prove to be a big one for a Missouri team seeking its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2006.

With conference play in full swing, here are some teams deserving of your attention:

Albany (45-0) sits atop the America East and Shereesha Richards broke the 2,000-point milestone. They play Stony Brook (4-0) on the 21st. When is someone going to poach coach Abrahamson-Henderson?

Bucknell is making a run at the Patriot League title. With their win over Colgate, the Bison start 6-0 in league play for the first time since the 1999-2000 season, remain all alone in first place in the Patriot League, win its sixth straight game, the longest streak of the Roussell era and the program’s longest streak since 2006-07 and Improve to 61-47 in Aaron Roussell’s four years as head coach. I’ve got my eyes looking forward to their game against Army, Jan 30th.

St. Bonaventure (5-0). Couple of years ago they were darlings, then they had a tough year. Now, hello! 

This year’s Atlantic 10 preseason polls didn’t think much of St. Bonaventure University. The guys picked 8th.

“Eighth is the second highest we’ve been picked in my nine years here so we looked at it as a compliment,” said St. Bonaventure Head Men’s Basketball Coach Mark Schmidt.

The ladies’ team picked 9th.

Senior forward Katie Healy said, “Nobody saw what we put in this summer, all the work, all the hours we put in. Both teams, now in first place and combined, are 25-5 to start the year. That’s never happened before.”

While it might be the guys’ best start in 16 years, for the ladies, it’s their best start ever.

The Bonnies other A-10 compatriots are no slouches. Duquesne who, for the first time in program history, was ranked in the USA Today/Coaches Top 25 Poll, will take their 15-game winning to ESPNU (Sue Bird & Melissa Lee on the call) on Sunday. They’ll face George Washington, who has won nine in a row. (Speaking of poachable coaches…Tsipis)

Ohio – the 3-time MAC champs are looking for a fourth title. In a matchup of two poachable coaches (Bolden & Verdi), the Bobcats defeated their 2015 MAC Tournament Championship game opponent, Eastern Michigan, 71-64.

Abilene Christian (4-0) continues to win in the Southland.

Colorado State (4-0) has already defeated San Jose State. Fresno State (4-0) defeated them today. They don’t play each other until March 1st. Who scheduled only one regular season game between these two teams?

Swoopes, there it is: Chicago (Loyola) is 4-0 in the MVC.

Purdue (5-0). We’ve been calling their name. Let’s see what they’ve got: OSU tomorrow.

Green Bay (5-0) faces Wright State (4-0) on the 23rd. Winner stays #1 in the Horizon. Loser may have to wait for the rematch end of February.

Montana State (5-0). Maybe John Stockton is a good assistant coach, huh? They play 4-0 Eastern Washington on the 21st.

Sienna (7-0) in the MAAC and its best start in 14 years. But, don’t get to cocky – and never count the Foxes out. Marist they held on to give Iona its first conference loss, 62-61.

Western Kentucky (5-0) continues its resurgence under coach Michelle Clark-Heard (poachable!).

The WCC!!! 5-1, 5-1, 5-1, 4-2. ’nuff said.

I’m keeping an eye on the NBE.  While it’s been tough times for Seton Hall, St. John’s and Xavier are on a roll.

Is it too early to suggest Muffet McGraw as COY? Her competition, if the continue to improve, would be Louisville’s Walz. Both are, is sports-speak, “coachin’ their team up.

Did I jinx the Tribe?

Just sayin’ – Utah is 4-1 in the PAC 12.

Upcoming games to keep an eye on:

The aforementioned George Washington v. Duquesne.

The oft mentioned #4 Texas v. #6 Baylor, 3:30 on ESPN2.

South Carolina is 4-0 in the wacky SEC. They’ll face TAMU at 1:30 on ESPN2

Purdue at #5 Ohio State, 2pm.

#23 Louisville v. North Carolina State – who keeps up their momentum?

#24 Missouri v. Arkansas…. see above.

#17 UCLA v. Washington State. Does WSU continue to show how dicey the Pac12 is?

Speaking of: #11 Stanford v. #10 Oregon State. 

#22 Duke v. Boston College. How do the Blue Devils react?

#10 Arizona v. Utah. How legit are the Utes?


#13 Tennessee v. #3 Notre Dame, 7pm ESPN2. Will the Vols’ good game-bad game-good game pattern continue?

In other news:

Florida: UF women’s basketball surging thanks to talent infusion

Snap: Jackie Young breaks Indiana girls basketball scoring record

Through four seasons on the floor, Princeton girls basketball star Jackie Young has attacked the opposition and record books, steadily climbing up the scoring charts.

Now she’s in the record books.

A large crowd gathered Thursday night to see Young make history, including two players from the 1976 undefeated Hoosiers basketball team. 

A free throw late in the fourth quarter of the game against Wood Memorial landed her one point ahead of former record-holder Shanna Zolman.

Aztec girls basketball team aiming for championship, community revival

Most of the awards that decorate the glass cases at Aztec High School’s gymnasium have something to do with football.

The Tigers are best known for being able to push a pigskin ball down a football field but in the last year or so, they’ve had to make room for a new group of athletes that the school just wasn’t used to.

Over the last several years, the Aztec High School girls’ basketball team has emerged from the bottom of the local basketball barrel and into the spotlight.

Their newfound success is something Aztec junior Kairai George isn’t used to.

Congrats! West Bridgewater girls basketball coach notches 600th win

Congrats! DePaul’s Doug Bruno gets 600th win

Former WNBA President Orender gives insight into gender in sports

Candace Parker interview: ‘The hardest thing I’ve had to overcome…’

Hello: Wings Star Skylar Diggins Makes Surprise Appearance at High School in Dallas

GW basketball’s rebounding machine could score big in WNBA draft

Breanna Stewart Watch: Top Prospects Raising Her Game Even Higher as a Senior

Countdown to the WNBA Draft: No. 17 Kahleah Copper

Paul Nilsen’s Women’s Basketball Worldwide Looking forward to 2016 with relish


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The 9th annual Maggie Dixon Classic (has it really been that long?) was another great event. First, and foremost, it’s an opportunity to remind ourselves exactly who was Maggie was and the powerful impact she made in such a brief time.


“In a house of leaders, she stood out.”

– Army Superintendent Lt. Gen. William J. Lennox Jr.


I became aware of Army women’s basketball after they played UConn on December 31st, 2005. Back then, the Huskies were broadcast on CPTV, and the broadcast team of Bob Picozzi and Megan Pattyson made a effort to speak to the opposition’s coaches about their program and share that with viewers. I was intrigued by what I heard and, in what became an ongoing effort to diversify my women’s basketball awareness, I started following the team. As they started winning, so did others.

From Ira Berkow: West Point Is Standing at Attention for Army Women’s Coach

Dixon, who credits her assistant Dave Magarity with easing the transition, was named Patriot League coach of the year. Now Army, seeded 15th, is preparing to face second-seeded Tennessee on Sunday in Norfolk, Va. On Friday, Jamie Dixon and Pittsburgh will face Kent State in the first round of the men’s N.C.A.A. tournament.

Part of the interview process at Army had Dixon meeting with the team. ”It was lunchtime, and they had just come in from formation, wearing their blue-and-gray uniforms, and a few of them had sabers dangling at their sides,” Dixon recalled recently. ”It was very impressive. Then one of the women proceeded to open her cellophane-wrapped sandwich with the saber. I was taken aback for a moment, but then she, and the others, laughed. I thought, ‘I just might like this place.’ ”

From Adrian Wojnarowski, March 17, 2006: Army coach is just like her team: tough when it counts

There were a lot of people thinking that, at 28 years old, she was looking for trouble. Deep down, she believed something else. Yes, she was sold on the possibilities of West Point. Mostly, she was sold on herself.

“I thought this was an opportunity of a lifetime, but people wondered, how are you going to recruit there?” Dixon says. “How will you do it? To me, this is an institution that just has so much to offer.”

Five months and 20 victories later, it’s strange how the perspective of coaching women’s basketball at the United States Military Academy changes as you’re sitting on the shoulders of the Long Gray Line, bobbing in the air at Christl Arena after the Patriot League Championship game, a scene unlike anything ever witnessed in West Point basketball.

Why did she take this job?

From the AP, I’m guessing Doug, April 6, 2006: Army enjoying newfound fame

Army’s women’s basketball team is becoming quite the craze as the huge underdogs prepare to meet Tennessee in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Not only at West Point, where the players and coach Maggie Dixon were carried off the court by cadets after winning the Patriot League tournament to earn their first NCAA berth, but seemingly everywhere they go these days.

At a restaurant in Virginia on Friday night, fans yelled “Go Army” as the team shuffled in. Supporters honk, yell and wave from cars when they see the team outside.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” Megan Vrabel said Saturday. “Absolutely amazing.”

And then, suddenly, horribly: Maggie Dixon, Army Women’s Basketball Coach, Is Dead at 28

From Adrian, April 17th: Dixon’s death cuts short a championship-caliber life

Maggie Dixon had been a storybook coach of the storybook season, hired from DePaul just days before the start of preseason practice, winning 20 games and making her brother and her the first siblings ever to make the NCAA Tournaments together as coaches. “This is such a great story,” she said that day in the hotel suite.

And without warning — without anything but the cruelest of fates — the Dixon family was back together on Thursday at the Westchester Medical Center where the most vicious of nightmares was unfolding. Maggie Dixon, 28, suffered an arrhythmia heart episode on Wednesday at West Point, leaving her in critical condition in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

Thursday night, she died at age 28.

Maggie’s death sent shockwaves of grief across the West Point campus and through the ranks of women’s basketball who’d so embraced her and the women she coached. But years later, her influence was still being felt as ESPN’s Elizabeth Merrill chronicled in 2011: Maggie Dixon still revered for her impact – Five years after her death, the Army coach continues to touch peoples’ lives

Mallette, a captain on Maggie’s one-and-only team at Army, is married now and lives in Albany, N.Y., where she’s finishing up her first year of law school. She’s the only one from the 2005-06 squad not on active duty, long ago forced into a medical discharge. Her bad back allowed her one of the closest views to Coach Dixon, which is the only name they call her to this day. Coach Dixon saw how much Mallette loved the game, how much she was hurting. She let her play sparingly — enough to feel part of the team — and the rest of the time, Mallette sat beside her to watch and learn. They were all so young. Maggie was only six years older than Mallette, kind of like a big sister or a cool aunt.

“She’s somebody you meet for five minutes and feel like you have a best friend forever,” Mallette says. “She had that aura about her. You got drawn in, and you didn’t want to let go.”

This is a story about a woman who died too young, but still has been able to influence so many, even five years after her death. People like Mallette, who, despite her doubts, still picked up that phone and called the California area code to Dixon’s parents. Would they remember her? Would they approve of her request?

Read Merrill’s piece, and you’ll realize how extraordinary Maggie’s family is. Consider all they’ve done since their daughter/sister’s death: Maggie’s Legacy

Since then, Jamie, their sister Julie Dixon Silva and parents Marge and Jimmy Dixon established the Maggie Dixon Foundation, which works to promote women’s collegiate basketball and “to bring awareness to sudden cardiac arrest among young people, especially athletes.” The Foundation hosts the Maggie Dixon Classic, which began at West Point and is now conducted annually at Madison Square Garden. “We wanted it to be the premier women’s basketball event in the country, and it quickly became that,” says Jamie.

They also host the Maggie Dixon Heart Health Fair. “Once we established the Maggie Dixon Classic and had a venue, we quickly recognized we should create a heart health fair. We saw an opportunity to promote heart health (diet and exercise), heart screening and SCA awareness, including CPR-AED training.”

If you feel moved to do so, I invite you to donate in support of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation.

I can’t imagine their pain will ever go away, and yet every year they show up to an event that can only remind them of their loss. And every year they are gracious and generous to those they know and total strangers who reach out to them. I should know, because I had a chance to speak briefly with Maggie’s sister, Julie.

This year’s Classic not only honored Maggie’s legacy, but women’s basketball past – a game with a direct link to UConn’s head coach. From Doug, Maggie Dixon Classic honors history of women’s hoops at MSG

Geno Auriemma fondly remembers one of his first trips to Madison Square Garden when he was an assistant at Saint Joseph’s.

He was given $20 to take the train to New York from Philadelphia and scout Immaculata and Queens College. The two schools were the powers in women’s basketball at the time. Only a few years earlier, those two schools played in the first women’s game at MSG in 1975 in front of nearly 12,000 fans.

That game was part of a men’s-women’s doubleheader on Feb. 22. Most of the fans had left the building by the half of the men’s game between Fairfield and UMass having seen the thrilling 65-61 win by Immaculata.

As for the games played yesterday, UConn v. St. John’s was the “featured” matchup, but I very much enjoyed the Immaculata v. Queens College game. It reminded me that, Division I, II, III, NAIA, or Junior College, there are women who play college basketball with passion and skill.

Appropriately enough, the IU/QC game report from Queenie: Maggie Dixon Classic: Rowland powers Queens in historic rematch. No, there were no nuns with buckets, but here was a fabulous, joyous moment:
There will never be anything not awesome about dancing nuns in college sweatshirts.
Lots of people there for both teams, and I loved it. There’s something subconsciously dissonant about nuns wearing college sweatshirts with their coifs, but it’s a good kind of dissonance. (After the second game, I saw some of them being taken on a tour of the Garden. Strangely adorable.)
At halftime of the game, the members of the Queens and Immaculata teams who played in first women’s basketball game at Madison Square Garden in 1975 were honored (Again, thank you Harvey, for the lovely article). It was incredibly moving to watch Olympian Gail Marquis (1976), Queens College coach Lucille Kyvallos, former WNBA presidency Donna Orender and their friends-teammates-supporters walk the red carpet and be celebrated.

If ever there was a link between the formative past of women’s college basketball and its fanciful present, it was when the teams from Connecticut and Immaculata came together Sunday between games of the Maggie Dixon Classic at Madison Square Garden.

Immaculata had just been defeated by Queens, 76-60, in a 40-years-later rematch between the teams that played the first women’s college game at the Garden in February 1975. Connecticut, the dominant team of its time and the holder of a record nine national championships, was about to run its record to 12-1 by handling stubborn St. John’s, 70-54.


Stewart is especially long and elastic, an athletic wonder who has made an impression on Lucille Kyvallos, the coach of Queens in the 1975 Garden game, which Immaculata won.

At 82, Kyvallos flew in from Florida to reunite with several of her former players, who were introduced at halftime of the morning opener. She said she was avid viewer of the women’s game on television, especially of Connecticut and Stewart.

“She’s so long,” Kyvallos said. “She does things we couldn’t imagine women doing when I was coaching.”

More on the Husky/Red Storm game:
“We’ve been incredibly fortunate to play in the Martin Luther King game for it seems like the last 20 years and the Jimmy V Classic, too. Both are huge, very important. But this game is more personal for me because I knew Maggie and I know her family.”
The 9th annual Maggie Dixon Classic was full of complementing images and emotions: Young Division I athletes, on scholarships that came about because of Title IX, competing with the promise of professional careers as a possibility. Young Division II and III athletes competing because they love the game and understand the immeasurable benefits of being part of a team. Women, forty years their senior, watching the results of a future the only glimpsed when Patsy Mink, Edith Green, Birch Bayh and all of those who fought (and continue to fight) to pass and uphold the federal statute prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded schools.
But it will always be rooted in Maggie’s story. From Brian Koonz: When the message is bigger than the game, Post
There are moments in sports when the message, and very often the messenger, are bigger than the game.
Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden was one of those moments.
Except for No. 2 UConn’s predictable 70-54 victory over St. John’s in the Maggie Dixon Classic, this day was all about the unexpected.
Next year will be the 10th anniversary of Dixon’s death, a weeping, black armband for women’s college basketball. The game still mourns Dixon, the Army coach who climbed a stepladder at West Point and cut down a comet, all the way to the program’s first NCAA tournament berth.

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WATN? The Donna

Workin’ with the PGA.

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More on Richie from Jayda: Luncheon in Seattle led Laurel J. Richie to WNBA – Former Girl Scouts executive Laurel J. Richie made an impression in Seattle that led to a job as WNBA president.

Storm president and CEO Karen Bryant said she and the ownership group looked across the table at each other and knew Richie had to be in the pool of candidates for the WNBA job that Donna Orender had resigned in December after six years.

“I loved her story,” Bryant said of Richie. “She has a commanding presence, and she has a really unique combination of confidence and humility. … Afterward she told us, ‘I’m definitely going to a game.’ She was somebody I was going to stay connected to, there’s no question. When I met her and took her card, I took that card with a purpose. I would have gone to a game with her in New York and I still will, but now I’m her guest.”

From the Deccan Herald’s Roshan Thyagarajan: Waiting to make a mark – Geethu Anna Jose’s try out at WNBA could indeed be the boost Indian women’s basketball needs

It is but normal to ponder over what sets Geethu Anna Jose apart from an estimated 50 lakh players of the fairer sex who take up basketball as something more than a mere hobby.

So what does she have that the rest don’t? What skill or added incentive does she possess that puts her on WNBA’s (Womens National Basketball Association) radar while the rest of the basketballing fraternity grapples amongst itself to make a small mark in a huge country?

John Altavilla at the Hartfort Courant writes: Payoff Would Be Playoffs For The Sun – Team Looking To End Two-Year Drought

After building a reputation as one of the WNBA’s most solid teams the last six seasons, the Connecticut Sun have faltered the last two, failing to make the playoffs each year.

Generally recognized as the best organization in the league and its only consistent money-maker, coach Mike Thibault and GM Chris Sienko worked in the offseason to bring the basketball up to par with the business office.

From Melissa Rohlin: Candace Parker leads full Sparks camp roster

When training camp began last year, things looked pretty grim for the Los Angeles Sparks.
They had a new coach, three-time WNBA most valuable player Lisa Leslie had retired, and more than half of the team was still playing overseas.

This year, with audible tinges of excitement in her voice, Sparks General Manager Penny Toler said everything will be different when camp opens Sunday.

From Ben York: Sylvia Fowles “I’m Very Excited for This Season”

Sylvia Fowles has made up her mind that missing the playoffs is no longer an option.

If you thought she had a MVP-caliber season in 2010, you haven’t seen anything yet.

There is a look of calm determination and stoic poise in Fowles that we haven’t seen before. Don’t get me wrong; the aggressiveness and ferocity hasn’t left her game but there is an added dimension of composed confidence that was palpable throughout Team USA training camp.

From Mechelle: Alana Beard focused on life and WNBA – Mystics guard continues to make strides while preparing for upcoming season

Alana Beard can tell you the date she last played a competitive basketball game: Dec. 22, 2009, in Poland. She can recite exactly what kind of rehab she did for her injured ankle, and for how many hours a day during the nearly 17 months since her last competition.

For that matter, she could probably tell you precisely how much her last grocery bill was, because that’s how her mind works. Beard is about the details, about making things add up.

At the Huffington Post: Maya Moore Speaks about Pay, Labor and Going Pro

She was the number one draft pick for the WNBA, a four-season All-American at University of Connecticut and a world championships gold-medalist for the U.S. national team. But as Maya Moore heads into preseason training for the Minnesota Lynx, she reflects on how going pro means she’s not longer just a basketball player: She’s also a business. Moore shared her thoughts with The Huffington Post on unions, fair pay in athletics and what is soon-to-be the “Maya” brand:

From Lady Swish: And then there was one: Maiga-Ba waived by Minnesota

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from the Wall Street Journal! Orender proud of time as WNBA president

“I think what I’m most happy about is that from the time I arrived to the time I’m departing there’s just a tremendous growth in every sector of the league,” Orender said by phone last week. “When I got there, there wasn’t a whole lot of enthusiasm. As I depart I am buoyed by the amount of interest, quality of play, and quality of ownership.”

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(wtg Harvey and George and Jere’ and Lynn)

Women’s Basketball Charts Its Growth on Its Own Terms

Shuffling boxes while preparing for a home remodeling not long ago, Donna Orender took a few moments and allowed herself to be pulled into the past. Suddenly the frayed clippings were on the floor and she was again Donna Geils, starring for the Queens College women’s basketball powerhouse in the mid- to late 1970s.

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Giorgis gets 200th win as Marist defeats Boston U.

Out in LA, Bill Plaschke is noticing the Bruins: Nikki Caldwell heats up UCLA women’s basketball (and I’m finding it hard to miss the double entendres)

I am scanning the office shelves of the hottest college basketball coach in Los Angeles.

Nikki Caldwell’s UCLA women are off to their best start in 30 years, and I tell her I’m trying to find things that are indicative of her personality.

I am check out the autographed basketballs, the team photos, the inspirational books, then she notices me staring for the longest time at an unusual pair of shoes.

“So I guess you think those leopard pumps are pretty indicative, huh?” she says with a laugh.

From the Daily Herald: Orender moves on with great memories of WNBA

Speaking of which, Clay chimes in on her exit: WNBA CEO Resigns, Leaving Future in Doubt – The WNBA took another hit this week, raising serious concerns

Yes, Donna Orender had her critics, but she was the model of a professional sports executive. Was she annoyingly upbeat all the time? Of course, but if she wasn’t in all-positive mode, who would be? Did she make the WNBA decision-making process as secret and  impenetrable as China under Mao Ze Dong? Regrettably, yes, but she clearly controlled the message.

But now she’s leaving — or already gone, really — and left behind is a vacuum of unanswered questions and troubling speculation.

Another milestone: 350 high school victories.

“We got a lot of young girls transferring over from high school, [where] you don’t have to defend some of the top players in the nation,” said center Lynetta Kizer, who has emerged as the team’s vocal leader, especially on the defensive end. “We want to be able to beat ACC-caliber teams; that’s why most of our focus today in practice was on defense.”


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David Stern in no rush to make hire

When you ask NBA commissioner David Stern what he expected of the WNBA when the league began in 1997, his answer goes a ways toward your judgment of departing WNBA president Donna Orender’s six-year tenure.

“We had no projections other than to survive,” Stern said Friday, after the announcement that Orender was stepping down and going to start her own business. “We wanted to be that island in a sea of sports-league failures.

Set in those parameters, Orender’s time running the WNBA seems at least more favorable than not. It’s probably fair to say, though, that a portion of league fans have been lukewarm about her reign.

Not the Dave in going to pay attention to me, but I’m not so sure I’m sold on the next Prez needing to have a background in women’s basketball. Consider Mr. Kennedy’s bio:

James Walter Kennedy was an overachiever who served as NBA Commissioner for 12 years before retiring in 1975. He presided over a period of unprecedented growth for the league. Under his leadership the NBA doubled in size, evolved into a major sport that rivaled baseball and football, and became a big business. Kennedy was an energetic and commanding man who brought a mix of political savvy, public-relations sense, and business acumen to the league, and he guided its rapid rise to prosperity. As the NBA evolved from a motley collection of basketball teams into a major entertainment empire, Kennedy was the person who had to address its growing pains. “We went through the hammers of hell,” he told the Arizona Republic in 1975.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s the league struggled to cope with the emergence of the rival American Basketball Association, the advent of free agency, and a host of other issues. Kennedy found himself spending an inordinate amount of time dealing with legal matters. “I am not quite sure that all changes in basketball during the last 12 years have been in the best interest of the NBA,” he told The New York Times in 1975. “There was a movement of action from the court of play to the court of law.”

Under Kennedy’s stewardship the NBA expanded from 9 teams to 18, went from no television revenue to a $9-million network contract, and increased annual attendance from 1.9 million fans to more than 7 million.

So, mostly I’m looking for someone who will bring “mix of political savvy, public-relations sense, and business acumen to the league.” I’m not expecting the W to make an NBA-esque transformation. But I am looking for someone who will understand what makes the W unique, but also what it has in common with every other business: A customer base that needs to be respected and a product that needs to be creatively (and accurately) marketed. I don’t care about personality, I care about persona. The new Val-O needs to have the will to demand a base-level of “Best Practices” from every franchise.

Lastly, I want to express my appreciation for Stern’s backing of the W. It can’t have been easy — and there is no doubt that without, there would be no W. So, I don’t know if he wears it, but I hope that he knows that the WBI t-shirt was a sincere invitation.

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Swish Appeal’s Completely Hypothetical & Generally Anti-Serious List Of Highly Qualified Candidates For WNBA President (I link this, even though the WHB was left off the list. Magnanimity in action.)

Sarah Palin
Current position: Undefined or revolutionary, depending on your political affiliation

Strengths: Outspoken “Title IX girl”, much publicized basketball experience.

Weaknesses: We’re actually not sure she has more experience than Barack Obama on this one, problems with gotcha media (of which, I swear Swish Appeal is not part of…but there will be questions), might still have POTUS aspirations

What she brings to the league: Attendance

Obviously, 2008 Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin knows basketball. We know that. But this is also a cheap ploy to increase attendance. In April, GOP fundraisers said they handed out 10,000 tickets to a Palin rally in Minnesota in support of – numbers that would make even the most aggressive WNBA teams blush – and later people Minnesotans paid $10,000 for private photos with her. When Palin showed up at the Tulsa Convention Center in September in support of Republican Governor-elect Mary Fallin, nearly 1,000 people paid $150 per ticket for the event. Fallin won. She hasn’t had as much success with attendance in Chicago, but you get the point: she has pull and can bring in cash.

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

WNBA: Donna Orender Resigns As League President

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

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

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As in Orender, not Oprah. Donna Orender leaves WNBA job

The Junkies react.

A smart search committee would take a long look at the thread (as it develops) and LEARN.

Of course, I may making an assumption about the committee that I shouldn’t.

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(I guess there’s a reason why there’s no link to in on the ESPN women’s basketball page.) I rather enjoyed the W/NBA mix up. Hey, turnabout is fair play. Check out the chat:

Natalie (NC): I’m sure you’re getting a lot of questions about the unceremonious firing/release of Angela Taylor in DC, so I don’t want to ask about that specifically, but I do want to use it as a basis for a broader question. It’s pretty clear that, but for Mel Greenberg‘s reporting, the Mystics had no intention of telling their fans that Taylor was out as GM. They quietly removed her from their website, gagged Mystics players and staff (apparently), and hoped no one else would notice. How can a team show such contempt for its fans?But the bigger problem is that this isn’t something that’s exclusive to the Mystics. At times, throughout the season, I’ve felt like several WNBA teams and the league as a whole, seemed overly secretive and, in doing so, alienated fans. It’s gotten to a point where longtime season ticket holders are rethinking their purchases because they no longer have faith in their team’s front office. And, on top of all that, the league’s leaders, including President Donna Orender, seem unwilling to discuss fan dissatisfaction. So what are we to do? Should fans be more accommodating or do we have the right to expect better?
Mechelle Voepel: You pretty much said it all, Natalie. The Mystics as an organization have stonewalled all of us journalists on this so far. They have been asked to explain. They have been pleaded with, in fact. I did get a call from the WNBA saying the Mystics would reach out to me. Still waiting for that. On my blog, I will have a much longer discourse on this overall issue – the treatment of the fans for a niche league that depends on the loyalty of a relatively small – compared to some other sports – group of fans. And about the league’s apparent inability to have much influence on how individual franchises handle the management of difficult situations in terms of explaining them to fans and the media. You’d like see a more uniform front: This is how we treat people, because we have to maintain our relationship with fans. To say the least, the situations with the Liberty and Mystics – both coming off great, fun seasons that had their fans rejuvenated – have been terrible examples of how to maintain hard-won enthusiasm – that your players provided you – as an organization.

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If somebody doesn’t talk to SOMEbody at ESPN to get these playoff games on accessible tv – I’m looking at you Donna, Force 10, Annie, Blaze, Kathy Betty, Dolan, Blaze – it’ll be a damn shame.

From Jayda: WNBA president says more playoffs could air on regular cable (next year)

WNBA president Donna Orender didn’t want to talk about poker in her brief visit to KeyArena on Thursday, handing out the MVP and Coach of the Year trophies before jet-setting back home. Despite a recent report stating ESPN2 has done well with its viewership for WNBA games, declining for other programming, the entertainment network still opts to air NFL exhibition games or poker instead of the WNBA postseason.

Maybe The Donna could chat with MSG about re-upping the broadcast of Liberty games next season, even though She praised the Garden’s efforts to improve the Liberty and declined to criticize MSG’s reduction of the team’s telecasts directly.’As a league, we’re focusing on maximizing our exposure in every delivery option we can,’ she said.

Oh, wait. We’re not going to be at the Garden. I wonder what the plans are…. I’m sure we’ll “get a letter” about it soon.

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He writes about Anne, Donna and Blaze: Women’s Basketball Pioneers Shepherd the Game Still

Today they are suits — pro basketball executives — but once upon a time they were kids, looking for a game.

They played their sport at the highest level of its time. Now their game keeps inching toward the rim, and they preside over it.

Donna Orender borrowed her father’s car in suburban Long Island. Didn’t tell him she was heading into the city for a game. Drove down a one-way street and lived to tell the tale. Now she is the president of the Women’s National Basketball Association

Thank you, sir Vecsey, for your appreciation of and advocacy for women’s sports.

If you enjoy his work, drop him a note an tell him so: geovec@nytimes.com

P.S. Ya wanna know more about that AAU game? Check out this article.

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Oh, don’t tempt me!

@wnba Want to watch a @nyliberty game w/ @DonnaOrender? Use SPG points to bid on this opp at MSG for Sun vs Liberty on 8/1 http://ht.ly/2dFrK

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