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Bad news for Liberty fans: Epiphanny Prince has surgery for torn ACL

Hmmmm…. Goldstein resigns from WNBA players union

“I’m very passionate about player rights and, having worked at the MLBPA, was excited to see how I could advance the causes of this union,” Goldstein said. “I think we’ve made some good strides. But as things transpired during my tenure, it seemed there might not be a shared vision of how to continue moving this union forward. So I decided to step aside.

Natalie Achonwa has never been so busy.

The Canadian forward is a promising newcomer for Dike Basket Napoli in Italy’s Serie A1, latest stop in a roundabout basketball career that’s yielded two gold medals and brought her within one game of the WNBA title. It’s Achonwa’s first season of overseas basketball and the start of a brand new, round-the-clock cycle in her pro career – WNBA and international duty with Canada in the summer, Euroleague in the winter.

“That is reality for us. Playing overseas is how we make a living,” says Achonwa. “Whether we are going into a qualifier summer, a World Championship summer, or an Olympic summer, it is what we have to do.

When she gets back home, she better study the rule book: New rules changes for the 2016 WNBA season announced

NCAA:

From Graham: Dayton rules the Mid-Majors (but will they stay there after the loss of Kelley Austria?), followed by the Wabbits and Tigers and…lookee! The Army Knights.

Army probably isn’t a program that can compete at this level on a regular basis, but this shapes up as a once-in-a-long-time kind of season. The three most important players are seniors who have started most or all of their time in the program: Kelsey Minato, Aimee Oertner and Jean Parker. And Minato can play on any court against anyone. In going to Duke and closing within four late in the fourth quarter or beating an Albany team on the cusp of these rankings, Army played the kind of defining games it simply didn’t have on the schedule en route to 23 wins a season ago.

The Women’s Mid-Major poll has a different top three: Gonzaga, Princeton, Green Bay.

LadySwish has Gimme Five (or six): the state’s top teams (Dec. 8)

Resounding road victories at Penn State and at Tennessee sent an emphatic message, particularly from a Tech team that had stumbled badly at Georgetown (73-56 losers) in its only previous road contest. While the win over the Lady Vols generated the headlines – and understandably so – in some ways we were even more impressed with what happened in State College, Pa. Tech seized control early, held it together during a Nittany Lions’ second-half run then used back-to-back 3-pointers from Hannah Young and Vanessa Panousis to snap a 44-44 tie and re-assert command. Tough stuff, particularly in the other team’s building. Of course, they don’t hand out trophies for what teams do in December, and the Hokies still have some things to clean up (23 turnovers vs. Penn State; 10-20 FT shooting at Tennessee). But as we sit here today, this looks like a team that can compete for a spot in the top half of the powerful ACC.

Penguins…lose!

Hello, Washington State – they take down Gonzaga, 55-48. The 8-1 Cougars are off to their best start since (fakers) Milli Vanilli’s “Blame it On the Rain” was atop the charts. Next up: The Gaels.

Nice win for San Francisco over Long Beach, 66-52. Take a moment to check in with coach Azzi.

Speaking of coaches trying to turn a program around, I’m noticing that Erik Johnson has Boston College off to a 7-1 start.

So far so good for Georgia, who stand a 8-1, having passed their first test. Speaking of tests: Point guard Marjorie Butler is redefining “student-athlete”

The Georgia Bulldogs came home last week from a Thanksgiving tournament in Southern California on an overnight flight that got them there early Monday morning. After landing, everyone headed home or to class except senior point guard Marjorie Butler.

She stayed at the airport to catch another flight – to Virginia, to interview for medical school. After that, she flew to Tennessee for another interview with a school the following day.

Wednesday night, Butler put in 7 points, dished 5 assists and grabbed 4 rebounds in Georgia’s home win over Mercer.

Extra air miles aside, it was a pretty typical week for the 22-year-old starter, who will graduate next spring with two degrees before beginning her quest to be an orthopedic doctor.

Oregon’s rising: Mark Campbell’s tireless approach helping Oregon women’s basketball turn corner

Louisville’s recovering: Psychology keeps Cards women ‘above the line’

Cortnee Walton acknowledges that not everyone believes in the benefits of sports psychology, but the Louisville women’s basketball veteran does, and she credits it for the Cardinals’ recent bounce back from a 1-4 start.

U of L topped then-No. 19 Michigan State last week before routing Valparaiso on Saturday, victories that set up Walton and company with some momentum heading into Thursday’s game at No. 8 Kentucky.

Break my record? I’ll come to your party: Banham to be Honored.

Prior to tipoff against Memphis on Saturday, the Gopher women’s basketball program will recognize Rachel Banham for breaking the Minnesota career scoring record. Former record holder Lindsay Whalen will be part of the ceremony. The game will begin at 2 p.m. at Williams Arena.

Banham passed Whalen’s total of 2,285 points during the Gophers’ game against Auburn in Puerto Rico. She has tallied 2,349 points entering the matchup with the Tigers.

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So semi-shouted the gentleman Ohio State fan (now from Florida) with a big grin on his face as the fans at Madison Square Garden roared and groaned their way through a double-overtime playoff loss.

True dat.

Three of the four playoff games have been tight tests as teams shored up their defense, tighten up their offense, and tried to ride through small mistakes that were suddenly magnified to game changers. There simply is no favorite this yearexcept for the team you’re cheering for – and that, Mr. Silver, is something you should be shouting from the rooftops.

In case you were a classroom teacher-parent-admnistrator-scheduler trying to negotiation the silliness that is this September’s school schedule, here’s what you missed:

Phoenix-Tulsa

Tulsa fought hard to get to the playoffs, but Game One was all swatty-swat-swat-swat-swat… well, you know the rest. Defensive Player of the Year made sure the game was all about her.

Brittney Griner literally rolled into the pregame news conference to announce that she had been named the WNBA’s Defensive Player of the Year for the second year in a row.

She arrived at the platform on a hoverboard, one of those two-wheeled contraptions that looks like a Segway without the handles.

The first time Phoenix Mercury general manager Jim Pitman saw his star center riding around on her new toy, he admitted it made him “very nervous.”

“But I’ve seen other people ride it and she is, by far, the best at it,” Pitman said. “So I feel a little better about that.”

Even in the face of the most publicly tumultuous year of her basketball career, it’s really difficult not to feel good about Griner in any context.

Chicago-Indiana

What’s lovely and brilliant about Elena earning the MVP is this simple truth: She’s an extraordinary basketball talent, and we just had no idea if she (and we) would get an opportunity to delight in her skills. For this year, at least, it was a resounding, “Yes!” (Oh, and the Times like one of her skills a lot: Elena Delle Donne’s M.V.P. Year Includes Mastery of Free Throws)

Of course, you’d be foolish to count Indy out. And speaking of counting, Mr. Silver: Indiana Fever among league leaders in sponsorship sales, profitability

New York-Washington – Prince was magnificent, Tina was ferocious, Latta was timely and Lawson modeled the resilience that defined the Mystics. Neither team gave an inch. What. a. game. In the end, as the Times wrote, Once Again, Mystics Have Liberty’s Number

In their first playoff game at Madison Square Garden since 2010, the Liberty treated their fans to a thrilling 50 minutes of basketball, but they now stand one game away from elimination after an 86-83 double-overtime loss on Friday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

In a game that had 23 lead changes, the Mystics had an 82-80 lead and were on the precipice of closing out the Liberty when Mystics guard Tayler Hill was fouled with 62 seconds remaining.

William Rhoden wrote: Liberty Relying on Epiphanny Prince to Return to Her Old Ways – but first, they need to hit their free throws.

Leading up to the game, Gene at WaPo wrote: Mystics count on balance in WNBA playoffs, without a star to guide them

Charged with rebuilding the Washington Mystics, Coach-General Manager Mike Thibault arrived in December 2012 at a considerable disadvantage because of some horrible luck. In the WNBA draft lottery three months earlier, the Mystics, with the league’s worst record, had drawn the fourth pick and eventually missed out on Brittney Griner, Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins.

Without a franchise player, Thibault began assembling a team in which every member of the roster would be asked to contribute. The result has been three straight playoff appearances, including this year as the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

WTOP offered: Mystics bring local flavor to WNBA playoff run

As we wind toward October, many Washington sports fans may feel disillusioned about the “P” word. But there’s a playoff-bound team here in the District, one with a chance to break a title drought with a pair of area natives guiding the way.

That team, if you haven’t been paying attention, is the Washington Mystics, who begin their quest for a first-ever WNBA title Friday in New York. And while they received big news this week about their new future home across the Anacostia, they have a chance right now to ensure they have a banner to hang when they open that building in 2018.

If the Mystics can win this year, they’ll do so with two Alexandria, Virginia, natives in the backcourt, rising defensive star Tierra Ruffin-Pratt and one of the league’s icons, Kara Lawson.

After Trader Bill earned COY honors (though, as my seatmate suggested, not coach of the last 20 seconds of the game) honors, Mechelle reflected: Laimbeer really was the best option for New York to succeed

The day the Liberty announced they were not bringing him back, I spoke with Laimbeer, and he didn’t have anything negative to say about the organization. He didn’t sound upset or angry.

He explained how the former Detroit Shock organization was different from New York. In Detroit, Laimbeer felt that as coach and general manager, he had a lot of autonomy and answered to only one person: the president and CEO of the Pistons and Shock.

With Madison Square Garden, which owns the Liberty, Laimbeer thought there were a lot of cooks in the kitchen. Although, that’s my phrase for it. The phrase he used was, “They’ve got a lot of moving pieces.”

My biggest frustration with the Liberty, who are an original WNBA franchise, had always been that there were people who had power — at least in name — with the organization but were not entirely engaged with the Liberty.

The AP’s Melissa Murphy offered this: Liberty Shot-Blocker Stokes Contender for Rookie of Year

Stokes has transitioned from defensive role player for the three-time defending champion Huskies to multifaceted spark plug off the bench for the resurgent Liberty, who face the Washington Mystics on Friday in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

“She came in and played like a veteran from the start,” said New York coach Bill Laimbeer. “I think that’s a UConn upbringing, they’ve played so many big games. Her defense has been spectacular for us all season long.”

Minnesota-Los Angeles

Yes, Maya was Maya-esque, but that almost wasn’t enough – even with Augustus and Whalen back.

“This team has great leaders that know how to respond,” Moore said. “Everybody had great focus going into the locker room. People were speaking up, talking about what was going on and everybody was saying things that were great – very helpful – so going into the second half with the right mindset, knowing what we want to focus on as well as our energy – it worked out for us.”

Pregame, Pat Borzi wrote: The Lynx’s title hopes confront a much-improved WNBA

Look closely at the royal blue sneakers the Lynx will be wearing for their Western Conference semifinal series against the Los Angeles Sparks. Seimone Augustus’s number 33 appears on the back of most. Augustus swears up and down this was a mistake, which is interesting, considering Augustus ordered the shoes from Nike herself.

“Nike sent over the ID and told me to ID them,” Augustus said, laughing after this detail was pointed out to her. “I figured I’d ID mine and they would kind of put everyone else’s on. They decided to put 33 on the back of everybody’s.”

In one of the WNBA’s cooler traditions, Lynx players break out identical brightly-colored sneakers for the playoffs. The color choice falls to Augustus, a nod to her seniority (she’s been with the Lynx longer than anyone, since 2006) and impeccable fashion sense. For a team beset by injuries and the general upheaval from two major trades, having even a sneaker order go wrong seemed so apropos to an off-kilter season that Augustus and her teammates laughed it off.

L.A. needs to stop the turnovers, or else….

In other news:

Australia: Carrie Graf: ‘Barefoot with a basketball and a smile, that’s all that mattered’

It’s 35 degrees, the humidity is overwhelming and chooks are scurrying across the court as Carrie Graf coaches village kids in Micronesia.

For the veteran Canberra Capitals mentor, this is well outside her comfort zone.

With seven WNBL championships and an Olympic bronze medal to her name, Graf is used to ordering the likes of Lauren Jackson about. But a chance to give back to a sport which has given her so much convinced Graf to take her young family on an adventure into the unknown.

Cool! (Though I think the headline should read “against”) FSU Women’s Basketball Shooting 24-Hours of Free Throws for Cancer

Take a Minute: Virginia women’s basketball team works with Special Olympics athletes

Good news for the Red Foxes: Marist’s Jarosz to return to women’s basketball team

Loss in Florida: Palm Beach State College sophomore Benetria Robinson was killed in a shooting

From Florida: 

Even before an important step Tuesday toward the start of the college basketball season in two months, FGCU women’s basketball coach Karl Smesko already has been encouraged by fall workouts…he’s already seen enough to feel good about FGCU’s chances to expand on its perennial success and last season’s first-ever NCAA tournament victory.

Off court: New York Liberty star Tina Charles determined to help her community

From the Huffington Post: Here’s Why You Should Be Paying Attention To The WNBA – “How is it a great time to be a female athlete if you pick and choose who you leave out?” (A Player’s Tribune recap) and How Reshanda Gray Went From South Central LA To The WNBA – “If it wasn’t for where I come from, I wouldn’t be here right now.”

When the WNBA playoffs tip off on Thursday, the Atlanta Dream will be absent in the hunt for a championship. Yet while her team may not have notched a playoff berth, this season caps an unlikely journey from South Central Los Angeles to professional basketball for rookie forward Reshanda Gray.

Raised in the rough LA neighborhood, Gray, 22, shared a one-bedroom apartment with seven other brothers and sisters as well as a difficult upbringing.

“My life as girl growing up, it wasn’t always pretty. I didn’t get the chance to live a normal, happy childhood. There were always challenges,” Gray, choking up, told The Huffington Post in a recent interview.

“Where I’m from, not many people make it out. So it was hard to find that one little push to see something outside of South Central LA,” she said. 

Killing time before the games? Ponder: WHO IS THE BEST [U.S.] [“Modern-era”] WOMEN’S BASKETBALL PLAYER OF ALL TIME?

espnW recently crowned the best female athlete ever. Which got us thinking: Who are the best women’s basketball players in history? Mechelle Voepel and Michelle Smith of espnW, and ESPN’s Rebecca Lobo and Carolyn Peck each ranked their players. We counted the votes and seeded the players accordingly. Now it’s up to you to determine who advances and who is eliminated. Click through the matchups, read Voepel’s take on each player, and be sure to vote in the poll at the bottom of each page — or hit Twitter and vote for your favorite players with the hashtag #WBest(player’s last name). Voting for the first round will run through Monday, Sept. 21.

Might I suggest some write-in votes? From Teresa Edwards.

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a fool’s errand… BUT, I do want to take a moment to point out this:

Jacki Gemelos’ Chicago Sky WNBA box score: 16 minutes, 4-7, +24. Honestly, who would have ever thunk that?

Nike announces signings of the top four WNBA draft picks (photos)

More love and respect for Katie Douglas: Retiring Douglas set example for area girls basketball players

Katie Douglas was a 6-foot-1 girls high school basketball player running the point long before such God-given backcourt leverage was fashionable.

The 1997 Perry Meridian graduate helped usher out single-class hoops while at the same time forcing observers of the girls game to think differently.

“With Katie there was no good way to defend her,” said longtime Franklin Community High School girls basketball coach Walt Raines, whose Grizzly Cubs have long staged battles against the Falcons.

Storm star Sue Bird presented with Moyer Foundation award

A little follow up from NPR: What Anti-Domestic Violence Advocates Are Saying About The WNBA Suspensions

More not-so-happy-news for the Lib: Prince to miss beginning of WNBA season to play for Russia

Speaking of the Lib – where’s Taj? Post hires former WNBA All-Star as head coach

From Swish Appeal: Key questions each WNBA Western Conference team faces heading into the 2015 season and Key questions for each WNBA Eastern Conference team faces in the 2015 season

From the Daily Courier: Kobritz Column: What the WNBA needs to learn from the NFL: “While the NFL is trying to ban one of its marque players over a tempest in a teapot, the WNBA is about to embrace a sleaze ball. Go figure.”

From the Huffington Post: Should Those Who Spoke Out Against Donald Sterling do the Same With Isiah Thomas?

In NCAA news:

Oklahoma women’s basketball: Sherri Coale talks potential rule changes, playing four quarters

Seven families protest handling of Illinois women’s basketball probe: report

The letter the newspaper obtained said the families “most strongly object to the manner in which the ‘internal investigation’ of mistreatment and abuses by the coaching staff was handled and is currently being handled by your office. We find this protocol unacceptable as well as completely disrespectful to the student athletes and their families affected by the coaches and coaching staff involved in these patterns of abuse.”

The seven families are writing in behalf of former players Taylor Tuck, Sarah Livingston, Amarah Coleman, Taylor Gleason, Alexis Smith, Nia Oden and Jacqui Grant.

David Teel at the Daily Press: Removing graduate transfer rule would be height of hypocrisy for NCAA

“If you’re transferring to be in a graduate program, the NCAA wants you to be working in earnest toward that degree rather than just using up your last year of eligibility,” Kevin Lennon, the association’s vice president of Division I governance, told the Associated Press.

Really? The NCAA wants Utopia? Well, then let’s have Mark Emmert solve the budget deficit, immigration reform and Middle East conflicts.

Were the 14 freshmen who declared for next month’s NBA draft “working in earnest” toward an undergraduate degree? The 15 sophomores?

The NCAA has no business attempting to police or discern an athlete’s motives. No one should care if a graduate transfer cares about getting a master’s.

Something for the twit who hate-tweeted me about this Liberty/Thomas fiasco from the New York Times: Any Publicity Is Good? Isiah Thomas and WNBA to Find Out

The Liberty will kick off a new W.N.B.A. season with their annual media day Thursday. This year’s event will probably be the best-attended one in franchise history. The reason? Isiah Thomas, the team’s new president, will be on hand alongside the players to face reporters.

From the Daily News’ Linda Stasi: It’s not just Isiah Thomas! There’s plenty of jobs available for all the other pervy, misogynistic male celebs out there

It’s about damned time that we all stopped harassing sexual harasser Isiah Thomas for becoming president and part owner of the New York Liberty women’s basketball team, pending board approval.

So listen up, disgruntled female hoopsters! Let us not think of the sexist pig’s rise to the heights of your sport as the height of absurdity/insanity/disrespect. Let us instead think of it as the height of female liberation!

After all, we women have finally reached true equality. If the man who cost Madison Square Garden $11.5 million in a sexual harassment suit can still get the top gig in women’s sports, just think of the possibilities. No, not for you. For them.

Add this: Adam Silver Needs to Step in on the Isiah Thomas Hiring

And (fingers crossed) WNBA BOG Reportedly Could Reject Effort To Make Isiah Part-Owner Of Liberty

At the other end of the spectrum: Flat Rock basketball team honored for record breaking success

Success came in leaps and bounds for the Flat Rock Rams this year.

Both the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams won District championships, with the girls adding in a Regional championship.

The regional crown was the first in school history.

For their efforts the girls were honored at a recent City Council meeting.

“They had a great season this year,” Recreation Director Rodney Wade said. “They were Huron League champions, District champions and Regional champions.”

The girls that are seniors on this team are the first group to have went through the Flat Rock Recreation League program from first grade through High School.

Shawnee basketball’s Freeman to be inducted into OGBCA Hall of Fame

For a man who didn’t even play basketball in high school, let alone college, Steve Freeman has had a one-of-a-kind career coaching the sport.

The long-time coach, who has been an assistant with the girls basketball team at Shawnee High School, will be honored for a storied career when he is inducted into the Oklahoma Girls Basketball Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame on May 30.

“It’s a really nice honor, very exciting,” Freeman said. “It’s also very humbling, because so much about winning is being in the right place at the right time with the right kids. I’ve been fortunate that I have, a lot of the time, been in the right place at the right time. There are a bunch of very good coaches who have never were lucky enough to be in that right situation. I feel really privileged, really blessed.”

From Billy Watkins at the Clarion Ledger: Who was first? ‘Reportedly’ Sue Dabbs

“Football, basketball, baseball, softball, soccer, track and field, tennis. Oh … and I love volleyball,” she said. “I try not to miss anything. This is a dream come true for me. My mama told me I became an Ole Miss fan at the age of 6. I don’t remember it. But I can’t remember not being one, so it had to be early.”

Dabbs said she enjoyed the column about Beth, who lives in North Carolina and is an ordained Episcopal priest and a cancer survivor.

“Beth deserved having a story written about her,” Dabbs said. “She’s done a lot with her life and did a lot for females in the sports writing business.”

And that is true. She did.

From Virginia: What Cosby girls basketball team does for classmate with autism will warm your heart

From L.A.: Japanese American basketball leagues help girls progress at prep level

Standing just 5 feet 3, Lauren Saiki was sometimes the smallest player on the basketball court. But her signature thread-the-needle passes and heady ball-handling propelled the point guard and her teams from Alhambra Mark Keppel High to four consecutive playoff appearances, capped by last season’s run to the Division II state championship game, a first for the school.

Saiki, 18, has earned a basketball scholarship to West Virginia.

For all this, she can credit the fundamentals she learned while playing for more than a decade in a Japanese American basketball league.

“That helped build my foundation,” Saiki said. “. . . I really fell in love with basketball.”

What’s cool is this continues the long history of women’s Japanese-American basketball on the West Coast.

Before, during, and after World War II, Nisei youth clubs offered hundreds of city girls like Ide a place of camaraderie and belonging where they could play basketball and baseball, socialize with boys, develop leadership skills, participate in community service, and forge lifelong friendships. In an era when Japanese-Americans faced racial barriers to social acceptance, these clubs enabled urban teenagers to claim American identity and enjoy the pleasures of popular culture.

Which connects to this from Jayda: Ramu Tokashiki looking to catch on with Storm

A half-dozen journalists attended the second day of Storm training camp Monday. All were interested in one player: Ramu Tokashiki.

A 6-foot-3 forward, Tokashiki stands out in the basketball world in Japan. Nicknamed “Taku” (pronounced TOCK), Japanese slang for strong, she signed with the Storm to be challenged by WNBA players.

“I understand she has no competition, per se, within the Japanese basketball system,” said journalist Misa Seely of American Sports Access. “There’s nobody as tall as she is and nobody as quick as she is. Her size and strength and ability to score is what makes her a superstar.”
Tokashiki is expected to make Seattle’s regular-season roster. It would make her the third Japanese player to compete in the WNBA.

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There’s a vocal constituency that’s mighty cranky about coach McCallie’s coaching and post-game style. One can only imagine what they’ll say now that #16 Duke has lost three in a row. This time Georgia Tech was the topple-er, beating Duke for the first time since February,  1994.

For what it’s worth, if Duke can’t handle #15 North Carolina at home on March 1, they will match the four-loss streak that ended the ’93-94 season. Perhaps the Blue Devils can take some comfort in the fact that UNC barely escaped Virginia – needing a last-second putback to avoid overtime.

Speaking of upsets – HUGE win for St. Peter’s. Patty Coyle’s team took down Marist, 66-58.

Yes, I’m calling this an upset: Wake Forest got its second ACC win by defeating Miami, 60-59 on freshman Amber Campbell‘s second buzzer-beater of the season.

#19 Stanford traipsed into Corvallis and said, “No, #7 Beavers, thou shalt not take down this Tree and use it as a torch. Cardinal win, 69-58, handing Oregon State their first home loss this season. BTW, missed this tidbit: OSU’s current total of 25 wins in the most in school history.

Just when you think Gary Blair’s got his team figured outMizzou’s Maddie Stock nails a game-winning 3-pointer with 0.1 seconds left to lift the Tigers to a 70-69 win over #12 Texas A&M.

Georgia showed a little more fight, but Tennessee prevailed, 70-59. The loss of Izzy seems to have made the Ledger’s Dave Link a little anxious: Lady Vols seem to be slipping off national stage

Speaking of fight: let’s talk Richmond battling back to take #22 Georgetown into OT. The Spiders ran out of steam, though, and were outscored 14-2 in the extra five. Colonials win, 81-69.

And still speaking of fight – ya, Wisconsin is 8-19, but these last few games they’ve proven to be a tough out. #17 Iowa escapes, 78-74. That’s the 300th career win for coach Bluder.

Glad Debbie wasn’t on hand to call this one:#13 Kentucky was just able to keep ahead of Arkansas, 56-51. 

I’m guessing Maryland got a bit more of a fight than expected from Indiana, but the Terps prevailed, 83-72, earning their 20th straight win as Laurin Mincy scored 28pts, a career high.

Florida State made sure North Carolina State wouldn’t repeat their upset ways. In front of the largest home crowd in four years, it was the Seminoles over the Wolfpack, by 20. Their 26 regular season wins ties the school record. One more game to break it: season finale at Miami.

Both coach Frese and Semrau are on the latest Dishin and Swishin podcast.

In the Sun Belt, Arkansas Little-Rock, Arkansas State and Troy kept rollin’.

So did #2 South Carolina.

So did #4 Notre Dame, who shot a breathtaking 62% against Pittsburgh. Mechelle has a little something on The Jewell:

In our best Marlon Brando voice, we’re going to make you an offer you can’t refuse. Settle into your seats, indulge in some popcorn … and read about the Jewell Loyd movie marathon experience. Hope you don’t mind if the line between film hero and villain is sometimes a little ambiguous.

“‘The Godfather’ is kinda our family movie,” Loyd, the Notre Dame junior guard, said of her parents, older brother and herself. “I like the concept of family, loyalty and getting the job done.”

Then Loyd laughed and added, “Obviously, we’re not going to be beating anyone up or anything.”

Loyd took part in a bit of “reel talk” recently at espnW’s request, as she’s a film, television and theater major at Notre Dame.

Jewell’s coach talks about Fighting Through February.

“February is a grind,” McGraw said before a recent home game at Purcell Pavilion. “You’re ready for the tournaments to begin, you want to see where you’re going to finish and what the seeds are going to look like, but you know you have to get through February to get to March.”

#20 Rutgers’ return to anemic offense and inability to defend doomed them against #25 Northwestern, 80-60. Kinda makes ya wonder, can ya justify C. Vivian Stringer making $1.6M in 2014?

Of note: the Knights’ loss, combined with Minnesota’s loss to Nebraska on Tuesday, means that Ohio State’s 88-70 win over Penn State moves the Buckeyes up into fourth place in the B10 standings. Seems like the Ohio State is not interested in waiting till next year to be good.

You know what’s notable about Tom Keegan’s column, End nearing for Bonnie Henrickson? The thoughtful, informed comments.

Ah, the joys of Senior Night and a reviving program: Making her first start of the season, senior Teneka Whittaker set career highs with 16 points and eight rebounds to help Rhode Island to a 68-53 win over St. Louis. With the victory, Rhode Island has clinched at least a .500 record in conference play for the first time since 2003-04.

Speaking of reviving: Hello, Hawai’i! Big West champs. First time in 21 years. Nice job, third-year coach Beeman.

Not only has #24 Cal inched its way back in to the rankings, but their 74-59 victory over Oregon gave coach Lindsay Gottlieb her 100th win at Cal. She’s the quickest to the milestone in program history.

This is nice news to read on a cold February day: Lauren Hill makes it through full season despite tumor

The Mount St. Joseph’s women’s basketball team held its postseason banquet in a hospital room warmed by Lauren Hill’s smile.

The 19-year-old freshman made it through a full season while raising more than $1.3 million for research into the type of brain tumor that will likely end her life. She’s occasionally hospitalized for treatment now, but still holding to each day as tightly as she can and urging others to appreciate their time together.

A little W news from Lois Elfman: Epiphanny Prince returning to her Brooklyn roots

“To be able to come home and try to win the championship with my home team and do it in front of my family and friends is very exciting for me,” said Prince, 27, who made her Madison Square Garden debut at age 12, playing a halftime exhibition at a Knicks game, and won four PSAL titles with the Murry Bergtraum Lady Blazers. She’s played five seasons with the Chicago Sky, which went to the WNBA Finals last year.

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…waiting to go to the airport and return to the “bitterly cold” northeast. Will say that, whatever weather comes to mind when you think “the Bahamas,” it’s not what we’ve had this week. Nothing like scuba diving w/ a 25mph wind and 65 degree weather. Fleece alert! (and no, I’m NOT complaining, ’cause I’m on vacation! :-)

On the hardcourt:

Don’t wanna jinx’em, but the A-10 regular season title is George Washington’s to lose. (They’ve beaten Dayton both times they’ve played). Tough to beat a team three times in a row, though, so keep an eye on the Conference Championship.

With a win over a Bradford-less Central Michigan, Ball State moves to 10-3 in the MAC, easing in to the top spot in the West. Overall MAC leader Ohio was stunned by Eastern Michigan, 73-61.

That was unexpectedly close: Maine Slips Past Vermont in Women’s Basketball, 57-54 And yes, Women’s basketball risen in standings from two years ago

Two years ago, Maine was one of the worst teams in women’s basketball. Now, Maine has won 10 consecutive games and is ranked no. 23 in the Mid-Major poll.

It is amazing what you can accomplish when everybody is working together and when everybody has the same goals and dreams. It almost took us two years to get to the point where we are right now, and we are not even close to reaching our potential.

People keep asking, “What happened? How can you go from winning four games total to having one of the best seasons a Maine basketball team has had in a long time?” I don’t think there is a simple answer to this question.

A Debbie Antonelli Special: Troy needed OT – and every single one of Ashley Beverly-Kelley’s 46 points – to escape Sun Belt cellar-dwellar Georgia Southern, 99-93. BTW, this is Troy’s first winning season since 2008-09.

Boink! WHB Curse in effect: Rhode Island loses a lead, and then the game, to LaSalle, 47-45.

Speaking of losing leads: Miami must be kicking themselves – they were up 18 at the end of the first half, then lost to NC State courtesy of a last-second three by Len’Nique Brown-Hoskin.

Whomp! The up-and-down #15 Aggies were up against #11 Kentucky, 81-69.

James Madison, #5 Maryland and FGCU are sailing through their conferences. So’s Gonzaga (clinching their 11th straight)  but it’s not been a lark.

It’s been a tough one: SMU women’s basketball already with second-most losses in school history; Can team recover?

When your women’s team is playing six freshmen, your point guard bolts and your go-to player is gone for the season, you celebrate small victories, such as getting three male students through the NCAA Clearinghouse to fill vacancies for scrimmages.

Change has been the lone constant for SMU.

For a young team in a rebuilding year, adjustments have become routine. Each game seems to open a new chapter in the crash course.

Speaking of tough ones: The Gauchos are still win-less.

Hawaii seems to be pulling away in the Big West.

Wondering how probation will impact West Virginia.

No surprise, Debbie likes Kelsey (Mitchell).

“Why isn’t Kelsey Mitchell on the @BigTenNetwork promo on great (freshmen) in the @bigtenconf,” Antonelli tweeted Tuesday night. “She leads nation in scoring!”

Mitchell’s resume is quite lengthy. And her scoring numbers has made Antonelli start to consider if Mitchell has an opportunity at all-time career leading scorer Jackie Stiles (3,393 points). Antonelli has been calling women’s basketball games for 27 years and can’t recall another player to cause her to look at Stiles’ numbers.

“If you are a fan of women’s basketball how could you not like that?” Antonelli told Cincinnati.com.

Yup: Injuries wreak havoc on SEC women’s basketball season

Not an unexpected job opening: Portland State fires Sherri Murrell as women’s basketball coach with five games remaining

In W news: One Knight for another: Breaking Down the Epiphanny Prince-for-Cappie Pondexter Blockbuster and The age-old thought process behind Liberty’s WNBA megadeal plus, what’s really cool: Epiphanny Prince to finish Rutgers degree after trade to NY Liberty

When she stunned the basketball world in 2009 with an unprecedented decision to leave Rutgers one year early to start her pro career, Epiphanny Prince vowed that she eventually would return to school.

That time has come following a WNBA trade Monday that sent two former Rutgers stars back to their homes as Prince was dealt to the New York Liberty, while Cappie Pondexter is joining the Chicago Sky.

In high school news: Two high school girls basketball legends combining to make history at Gilmour Academy

It started with a phone call, seemingly out of nowhere.

That’s how a legendary high school girls basketball coach ended up at Gilmour Academy. That was 10 years ago.

And a second totally unexpected phone call led to the daughter of a former Ms. Ohio Girls Basketball Player of the Year playing for that same coach at the Catholic prep school in Gates Mills.

That’s how Bob Beutel, with 644 career victories, ended up coaching Naz Hillmon, one of the top freshman girls basketball players in Northeastern Ohio. Hillmon is already receiving attention from Division I colleges. The 6-foot-2 center is averaging 18 points, 14 rebounds and more than four blocks per game.

How about this: Alden-Hebron makes history with 5-player roster

Alden-Hebron’s “Fab Five” huddled on the bus ride home and talked strategy after winning the school’s first postseason title for any Giants basketball team – boys or girls – since 1957.

Hannah Behrens, Bailey Ogle, Hannah Warren, Tally Lalor and Emily Webber have played exclusively for the past 13 games as the Giants’ roster has dwindled from eight players to five. Kelsey Baker, A-H’s tallest player at 6-foot-2, moved away, and sophomores Brittany Standish and Sam Mendez suffered knee injuries and cannot play until cleared by doctors.

Congrats: Swin Cash earns Chuck Cooper Award for ‘extraordinary’ service

Admittedly, Swin Cash once had no clue who Charles “Chuck” Cooper was or what he represented.

She grew up in the same region and played the same sport, but as someone born nearly 25 years after Cooper played his final professional basketball game, the name of the first African-American player drafted into the NBA didn’t resonate.

So last year, when Cash was told that she was going to be honored with an award named after Cooper, she did some research. What she found was a legacy that she works to this day to strengthen and uphold.

WATN? TV spot highlights Markham basketball star Sutton-Brown

Tammy Sutton-Brown has a true story to tell.

It’s one the 37-year-old Markham native revealed that changed her life — all for the better — when she elected to attend a high school that offered a well established girls’ basketball program rather than go to one closer to home.

Thus began the road for the 6 ft. 4 in. centre in becoming one of the top Canadian basketball players hailing from the Greater Toronto Area that tipped off when she was a Grade 9 student at Markham District High School and then earning a collegiate athletic scholarship south of the border at Rutgers University.

But that’s not where it ended.

A little history: Women’s basketball pioneers honored at UAF

It’s no surprise Nanooks women’s basketball players Victoria Elleby and Stephanie Toumson asked Linda Dolney for her autograph after Saturday’s game.

Forty years ago, Dolney and her teammates paved the way for the current women’s basketball team.

That moment in history and several others were recognized Saturday at a remarkable gathering of women.

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While I agree that Phoenix is the odds on favorite, the idea that it might be a cakewalk to the Championship is not something I’m comfortable with. How much walking and how much cake eating the Merc will depend on Elena’s back, Big Syl’s commitment to Beast Mode, Q’s continued clutchness and Piph’s shot returning. I REALLY want Prince back in the mix…. ‘Cause that could be a tide-turner.

I’ll be on the bus home while the game is happening, so here’s to heath and heart-stopping play.

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“Now, That’s More Like It”

So this was the game we were waiting for between Phoenix and Minnesota. The one that felt like a collection of future Hall of Famers trying to out-do each other. The one that had the fans on their feet, screaming their heads off, while the folks watching on television probably felt like they were right there in the thick of it, too.

This is what we thought these Western Conference finals — between the two best teams in the WNBA — would be like. That Friday’s game really wasn’t like that is a tribute to the Mercury. That Sunday’s game did live up to that billing was a tribute to both teams.

Writes Tim Leighton of Twin Cities:

There it sat Sunday, in the middle of the Minnesota Lynx locker-room floor. No player, coach or member of team management got too close for fear of disturbing its aura. The Lynx’s WNBA championship trophy, with its three silver spires holding a basketball, stood as a simple reminder that the Lynx aren’t ready yet to call it a season.

Tom Powers offers this nice turn of phrase:

Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus joined Moore in forming a deadly Game 2 Bermuda Triangle. The trio combined for 72 of the 82 Lynx points. As Reeve often notes, it’s mostly about the stars come playoff time. And the Lynx had all three of theirs shining brightly.

“We always say great players make great plays,” said Augustus. “And you saw that through the night. Great players made great plays for us.”

Kent Youngblood at the Star Tribune:

Sunday, midday, the Lynx players were in the locker room for a film session. Coach Cheryl Reeve walked in clutching the 2013 WNBA championship trophy.

She walked over and had Janel McCarville pull on the trophy. Reeve let go, easily. “We can do that,” she said. Then Monica Wright gave it a tug. Reeve held on a little longer, let go. “We can do that,” she said. Then she went to Rebekkah Brunson. Only this time, Reeve took hold with two hands and tore it away.

“It’s ours,” she said. “And we’re not letting it out of here.’’

And then Reeve put the trophy on the floor in the middle of the room and walked out.

Message received.

From Nate Sandell, “special” for the AZ Central folks: 

“Their defense picked up and we stood around,” said Mercury coach Sandy Brondello. “We’re a team built on ball movement, but somebody would get the ball and everybody would stand and just have a look at that person trying to make the play.”

It was a dramatic reversal for the Mercury, whio had proved to be better team for the first seven quarters of the series.

 

From the other Nate: Seimone Augustus caps off Minnesota comeback to win Game 2, 82-77

All-Stars Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen made big plays throughout Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, but fellow Olympian Seimone Augustus was ultimately the hero of the Minnesota Lynx’s 82-77 win over the Phoenix Mercury.

With the game tied at 75 apiece, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve called an out-of-bounds play that had Augustus follow Moore around a screen to clear space for a mid-range jumper and Augustus not only converted the shot but also drew a foul for a three point play that put the Lynx up for good.

 

But the Lynx wouldn’t even have been in position to win had it not been for the play of Moore and Whalen prior to that moment.

From Canis Hoopus’ John Meyer: 

Midway through the third quarter, Maya Moore had a look on her face that said it all. Not today, Phoenix. Not today.

Moore scored a game-high 32 points, including 19 second half points, to help keep the Lynx title hopes alive this afternoon at the Target Center. The Lynx struggled earlier on – shooting 14.3 percent in the first quarter (2-for-14) – and faced an uphill climb trailing 22-9 entering the second quarter. But there was no quit in this squad.

Awwwwww….Little League star Mo’Ne Davis adds Game 2 visit to dream summer

In the “other” series, Indiana Fever rookie Maggie Lucas isn’t easing off throttle now

It was mere minutes after the Indiana Fever had beaten the Chicago Sky 77-70 to open the best-of-three Eastern Conference finals Saturday night. Maggie Lucas could have been reflecting on the moment, considering how necessary her eight points turned out to be for the Fever.

Instead, she was in the locker room afterward, lifting weights. She is a “gym rat,” coach Lin Dunn said. First one to arrive, last one to leave.

Michelle writes: Sky’s fate rests with shooting stars – Chicago needs to solve Indiana Fever defense in Game 2

Indiana, led by the defensive stalwart Tamika Catchings, made it tough for Delle Donne to get in any offensive flow. The 12 shots she took were the fewest she had taken in a postseason game.

“The first thing is trying to figure out a way to keep the ball out of her hands,” Catchings said. “Not just me, individually, but as a team. We tried to take the ball out of her hands, make it difficult for her to catch it, and when she did, we brought different people out.

“We can do a lot better too.”

Delle Donne and the Sky are thinking in the same terms.

From Brian Sandalow at the Sun-Times: Sky still trying to figure out Fever

While the Sky aren’t fixating on their history with the Fever, they’re aware of it.

“I think everybody kind of thinks about it,” guard Courtney Vandersloot said. “It’s not something that we really talk about a lot, but it’s something that I’m sure we all think about. We know who we’ve lost to in the past.

Philip Hersh at the Tribune writes: 

It’s pretty easy to see why the Fever won Saturday night’s opening game of the WNBA Eastern Conference finals 77-70.

Indiana caught the Sky with their guard(s) down.

Indiana’s starting backcourt of Briann January and Shavonte Zellous was simply too much, with its outside shooting and dribble penetration shredding the Sky’s defense.

The Fever guards utterly outplayed starting guards Epiphanny Prince and Courtney Vandersloot, both ineffective for the second game in a row.

In the Dishin & Swishin 08/29/14 Podcast: WNBA Eastern Conference Finals coaches Lin Dunn & Pokey Chatman talk about the playoffs

Nate reflects back: 

You can never force the circumstances that create a classic moment in sports, which is part of the very reason we tune in and watch instead of just ignoring games with long odds or abandoning teams that seemingly have no hope.

The best moments are those that somehow manage to define the odds, whether evolving or preceding the first tip and the 2014 WNBA Playoffs has already produced a classic in the first round.

What might be hard to appreciate in retrospect about the Chicago Sky’s dramatic 81-80 win in Game 3 against the Atlanta Dream is that it really seemed like that game was over long before the fourth quarter began.

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“Ohmygodmyeeeeyeeees!”

The Liberty lost to the Mystics 46-79. 46 points. In an entire game. Ugh.

Chiney-less (tooth issue) Sun put up a fight, but MIP candiate Allie Quigley did her part (17pts) to help the Sky stay within reach — and then EP came alive to lift the Sky to a 16pt.

The teams shot 39.7% and 36.9%, so of course it would be a layup that would decide the game. Minny’s just lucky that hand belonged to Augustus and not Indy’s Larkins.

Soooo… a friend tried to say that Phoenix “spanked” the Dream. I countered, saying that an 8-point comeback win over de Souza-less Dream was no “spanking.” Now, surely, BG smacked’em around a bit (9 blocks), but DT had to lead the Merc on a comeback to get the win over Atlanta.

30 from Sims (a clear ROY candidate) helped Tulsa get a nice win over Los Angeles.

If you’re looking for some basketball tonight, check out the live feed from Colorado  – US U18 v Mexico.

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lovely few days in Minneapolis. Got to hang with family friends, see an overflowing Minnehaha Falls, re-connect with one of the original WHB bloggers, finish the second to last of my WBHOF articles, present a kick-butt conference session with some amazing educators and researchers, and chill with three fabulous munchkins: Theo, Jonah and Mae.

Now I need a nap.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world has contented spinning:

Exciting visit to the White House for Stef… I mean, the UConn’s women’s team. (Oh, dear: UConn women’s basketball in good shape for next title run)

The Lynx aren’t far behind.

New jobs for Megan Duffy and Jocelyn Wyatt and Katy Steding.

Speaking of jobs: Jenny Boucek talks about career, NBA coaching aspirations

FSU lands K-State (finally) transfer Leticia Romero.

I like when this happens: NOLA is tracking LSU alum in the W.

Ray at Swish Appeal has an Interview with San Antonio Stars rookie Kayla McBride: Adjusting to the WNBA

Ben York is talking The Evolution of Diana Taurasi

As her illustrious career continues, Taurasi has adapted to various styles of play that best suits that particular roster and team – something that is infinitely easier said than done, especially when many consider you to be the best player in the world.

In the run-and-gun years, Phoenix needed her to put the ball in the basket as much as humanly possible (not that it would be frowned upon now).

In the past few years, as the league has progressed, they’ve needed her ability to create and get the entire team involved (which is a direct correlation with being amongst the league-leaders in assists).

Nevertheless, it’s one thing to have an evolving game but another thing entirely to be effective at it – and finish amongst the league-leaders in the process.

Are the stars returning to the stands? First, NY gets Billie Jean King, now Ludacris And Others Attend WNBA Atlanta Dream’s “Dads & Daughters Night”

Medic! Lauren Jackson gets more knee surgery. EDD continues to be plagued by Lyme Disease.

From Patricia Babcock McGraw: Struggling Prince trying to find answers

During the Los Angles game, Prince was in uniform for the first time this season. But she did not see the floor.

In Atlanta, Prince made her season debut, but played only 9 minutes. She did, however, score 7 points.

She had been out until that point for personal reasons and joined the team only two weeks ago, battling what seems to be a severe case of mental exhaustion.

As for the games since I departed NY and returned…. can anyone figure this season out? I mean, except for Minnesota, who has got their you-know-what-together?

From David: Dishin & Swishin 06/12/14 Podcast: Underrated as a player and team, Danielle Robinson and San Antonio surprising in the West

Cappie remembers how to score, and the Lib stomp Washington.  (surprise! btw. ESPN still has the Lib in Newark.)

Parker scores a lot and rebounds a lot… but the rest of the team? Not so much. Minnesota dispatched the Sparks at the Staples Center.

Cappie forgets how to score, Diggins does not: Tulsa wipes the floor with New York. And hellooooo Courtney Paris! Welcome to the defense-free Liberty front court. (So much for that “heart-to-heart” meeting, Libs.)

More thumping of the Mystics, this time by Brittney.

Delle Donne-less Sky fall to the Storm. I wonder how much her extended minutes has played into the reoccurrence of the Lyme disease.

The Catch-less Fever rallied to take down Seattle and make Lin Dunn’s big night in Indianapolis extra special.

Steve Lebron at Policymic writes: How Much Women’s Basketball Players Make in the U.S. vs. China

While NBA players secure financial stability the minute they enter the league as first-round picks, the most talented female players are — while adequately compensated relative to other occupations — very low on the financial totem pole for athletes.

Fun times for USA Basketball at the 3×3 tournament.

Speaking of USA Basketball:

U of L’s Hammond calls gold medal experience ‘humbling’

Sara Hammond said Sunday, after representing the United States and earning a gold medal doing so, that her FIBA World Championship experience was tough to put into words.

The University of Louisville basketball player managed nonetheless after her USA Basketball 3×3 women’s team took gold in Moscow.

 

Three sisters, one out-of-sight dad

Jon Samuelson, father of one of the most successful sister acts in women’s basketball, is ever-present in the lives of his three talented daughters — he’s just hard to find during their games.

Samuelson, who played college basketball at Cal State Fullerton and pro ball in Europe, has taught the game to Bonnie, who will be a senior at Stanford this fall; Karlie, a rising sophomore at Stanford; and Katie Lou, a 6-foot-3 wing at Mater Dei High School (Santa Ana, Calif.), a Connecticut recruit and the No. 1 prospect in the 2015 class.

From Amanda Hess at Slate.com: The WNBA Finally Recognizes Its Lesbian Fans

This month, the WNBA became the first American pro sports league to openly recruit LGBTQ fans by launching a dedicated marketing platformselling rainbow basketball pride T-shirts, and sponsoring pride games across the country. On June 22, ESPN2 will air the first-ever nationally televised pride game. WNBA President Laurel Richie frames the strategy as a smart business decision: Recent market research has revealed that 21 percent of lesbians have attended a WNBA game, and 25 percent have watched one on TV. For a league that’s had serious difficulties getting anyone to fill its seats, those stats are astonishing.

The New York Times’ Julie Macur writes: Coast Cleared by Others, W.N.B.A. Finally Finds Its Gay Pride

When Brittney Griner, the No. 1 pick in the 2013 W.N.B.A. draft, heard about her league’s new campaign to market games to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, she said, “What are we going to have, T-shirts, shoes?”

It was about time, Griner said she thought, and then wondered what she could do to help.

I find the comments interesting and insightful (something unusual, we know, when folks comment on articles about women’s athletics.  While I, too, have been frustrated at the far-too underground recognition of the lesbian fan base, I’m finding some of the finger pointing and shoulda-coulda rather tone-deaf.

Simple question: who has more security? The NCAA or the WNBA? Who has more players, more fans, more “institutions?” NCAA, WBCA? I’m lookin’ and YOU.

Doug gives Chiney and Nneka some focus: WNBA’s Ogwumike sisters raise funds for education in Nigeria

WATN? UConn and CT Sun standout Nykesha Sales visits CBC

Oh, the drama: Diamond DeShields to join Vols

More good news for the Vols: Te’a Cooper gives verbal to Tennessee

Speaking of Knoxville: Dunn led way for today’s generation – Lin Dunn to be inducted into Women’s Basketball HOF on Saturday (ESPN3, 7 ET)

There are two kinds of vision, of course. The kind that lets you see what’s in front of you, and the kind that lets you imagine what you hope will one day be there.

Indiana Fever coach Lin Dunn always has had both, going back to her youth in Tennessee in the 1950s and ’60s. Even then, Dunn had a passion for sports and could see strategy and tactics as a natural-born coach. But she also saw what wasn’t there: enough opportunities and support for girls and women in athletics.

When Dunn is inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend in Knoxville, Tennessee, as part of a class of six, the honor will be a testament to Dunn’s determination to make the real world line up better with the possibilities she always imagined.

Lin gets around the “only five minutes to speak at the induction ceremony” rule by writing for ESPN: Five decades of fighting for equality – Lin Dunn to be inducted into Women’s Basketball HOF on Saturday

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she’s not on my team. *sigh*

Yes, perhaps the “Three to See” has become the “Two to View”, but wow, how much fun is it to watch Elena Delle Donne play. (And congrats to her, CAA Scholar Athlete of the Year) Granted, the Lib had no one who could guard her. Katie? Nice try — she gives up inches and years. Plennette? Delightfully physical, which EDD handled, but nowhere quick enough. The kid plays in control, is ACTUALLY a guard in a forward’s body, and has pogo-stick-like elevation skills.

Pokey plays EVERYone, and yesterday, they all seemed able to play. Who knows if it’s chemistry, coaching or basketball IQ, but the team looks so in sync with each other. It’s as if everyone’s field of vision/sense is open to their teammates and they can all “sense” where each other are on the court. There was one moment where the Sky did lose their mind offensively, and if Pokey could have kicked badgers out of her toes, she would have.

Of note:

Big Sly was back on the court and, while she didn’t light up the scoreboard, her quick hands were in every passing lane.
Carolyn Swords: Since when did she become a reliable, nitty-gritty big?
Prince: Always interesting to watch her battle her ego when she goes up against Cappie.
Sloot: Just as I said, “You know, if Courtney ever rediscovers her shot, then….” Eureka, guess what happened?
Blue Hens fans: In da house, courtesy of Amtrak and a convoy of buses.

The best Liberty moment? When they were showing “When they were a baby” photos, and there was golden lab puppy Maddie with a crown on his head…. 

I don’t know what happened during the game, and I don’t have the cast-iron metaphorical cojones to walk up to Katie Smith and ask her these things, but she was hot under the collar like nobody’s business. I thought someone on Chicago said something about her mother or something. Her head was not in the game the rest of the way. She couldn’t find her rhythm shooting, and her defense was below her average. I don’t expect her to be a total game-changer anymore, but we could have used her to keep the game within striking distance. Leilani Mitchell was pesky, but she couldn’t check Vandersloot sufficiently, which meant that defensively she was reduced to doubling down and trying to make things happen with disruption. As you might be able to discern from the score, this was not successful. Avery Warley rebounded well, but I think everyone involved knew that she was out of her depth. Kara Braxton muscled a little bit, but this was not a smart Kara day. This was a very dumb Kara day. If Kelsey can’t get easy shots to fall and Kara’s having a very dumb day, things are not going to end well in the post for the Liberty. Cappie Pondexter showed a spark of life in the second quarter, and she and Kamiko teamed up for one beautiful defensive sequence that resulted in a shot clock violation, but too much of the offense was flowing into her and then stagnating. It was Cappie against the world, just like it was under Whiz, and that’s not a scheme for long-term success. She took a lot of good shots, but she took even more bad shots.

And yes, that was the Lib’s “best” moment. The team is out of sorts, Bill looks like he’s out of options, and NY could easily slide out of the playoffs, ’cause CT can still get healthy.

Meanwhile, in Minny, the on-again, off-again buzz saw that is the Lynx was on again and, as a result, Phoenix was sliced and diced. The “damn it” news is that Augustus left the building on crutches, meaning it’s likely she’s a no-show for the game against the Dream.

The Q is back, and Mike *breathes a sign of relief* T is the winningest. Nice 212-congrats.

No, Tina didn’t “officially” cost the Sun a win, but her ridiculous melt down/two Ts effectively stopped Connecticut’s momentum and hamstrung their comeback effort against Indiana.

Yah, we thought this is what it was that took Becky down, but we like to delude ourselves sometimes: Frackin’ ACLs.

Doug at the AP recycles the “Expand the Roster” story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So now we propose the following question:

What if “three to see” is actually working?

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

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basketball “stuff,” but it is cool how basketball can distract you from “stuff.”

So, I did manage to catch my first live Lib game of the season last Sunday. Thoughts:

  • Shout out to Hasim, the Lib’s media person, for being so welcoming. (RU! RU!)
  • It’s REEEEALLY easy to get lost in the bowels of the Rock.
  • Yes, back in the day there WAS a lot of media at Lib games. Not so much now. But it still was heartening to see some familiar (stubborn) faces doing what they want to do – and love to do – in service of the game and players.
  • Speaking of someone who loves to do what she does: lovely chatting with coach Coyle. She knows next year will be a challenge, but is excited to be in the MAAC.
  • The best part of going to the game was seeing the “regulars” in the stands. And shouting “REEEEFFFFFFFF SCHOOOOOOOL!”
  • The game: The ESPN headline credits Cappie with the win over the Dream, but really it was Mini Mi and the Old Lady. Watching the 39-year-old Katie Smith dog Angel all game was a lesson in ferocity and stubbornness. Yes, Angel got her points, but on 4-16 shooting.
  • What about Mini Mi? Well, in the season preview, coach Bill stated he wanted “strong-minded women that want to be themselves, but want to play within the structure, and want to know where they stand every minute of every day.” Leilani Mitchell sure as heck knew where she stood at camp: “In front of everyone he said, ‘I don’t like small guards.'” Mitchell is generously listed as 5’5″. “It’s hard when your coach doesn’t have confidence in you.” Her response? Play with a sense of freedom and abandon. She made the team (to the surprise of some) and, while she only made one basket Sunday (a key 3), it was everything else she did that made an impression: 7 rebounds, 3 steals and +13. Which earned her praise from her not-short coach. And the fans.
  • Cappie looked outta sorts in the first half, her shots all coming up short, as if she had no legs. And then something clicked in the second half. After the game coach Laimbeer spoke about her leading by being part of the offense, “not just jacking up shots.” So I started wondering about her transition to working under a Laimbeer-esque coaching style and how that will impact her attitude and game-sense.
  • The rooks did good. Honestly, was there EVER a time when you could say, “The Lib have three rookies on the floor” and not have it because the game was outta reach? Favorite moment: Angel and Bone arm wrasslin’ each other for the ball. Bone does not let go, and Angel gets in to her face a bit, as if she believes a rookie should release control to an All-Star. Yap, yap, yap like my miniature Dachshund used to do at our bigger Kerry Blue. Bone just stood there, patiently, until her teammates stepped between the twosome.
  • Yes, it’s fun to watch the Dream get all emotional. But, while it’s tempting to draw a conclusion about their “chemistry,” don’t get fooled. It works for them. “That’s how they’ve always been,” said Smith post-game. The only thing “bad” I can see about Atlanta folks barking at each other or the refs is when they use their barking as an excuse not to get back on defense.

Speaking of Smith, the fabulous Jim Massie catches up: Former Buckeye Smith, 39, still climbing upward

Check in with L’Alien for more info on this past week’s games, like:  Charles dominates ice cold Fever

Check this week’s Top Plays. (Mark, you’d a very poor inspirational speaker…)

Other stuff:

Ah, yes, INJURIES!!! John Altavilla writes: Short WNBA Rosters Are A Problem For Sun, Other Teams. On a related note, Pilight wonders: Is there enough talent for WNBA expansion? The Rebkellians discuss.

Kwai Chan at the Meniscus: WNBA 2013: One year, big difference for the Washington Mystics

There is no jumping or shouting in the Verizon Center…yet.  But what a difference a year makes for the Washington Mystics, who defeated the Minnesota Lynx, 85-80.

Mike Thibault, who has the most wins of any active coach with 209-135 (.608) record in the last 10 years, is the new head coach of the Mystics.  Eight of the 12 players on the 2012 roster are gone, and have been replaced by four rookies and three veterans.  With these changes, one would think that just getting a team on the floor would be an accomplishment in itself.

Not so much fun being in Indiana these days: Fever not feeling, looking like champions – Defending WNBA titlists are off to 1-4 start, worst 5-game start since 2001

Michelle says: Griner’s popularity reels in fans

It’s more than two hours before tipoff at U.S. Airways Center on Memorial Day, and a Phoenix Mercury staff member is erecting a banner of Brittney Griner that shows the exact physical dimensions of her height and wingspan and the size of her hands and feet.

Immediately after he is done, a group of kids rush over and put their hands and feet up against the banner to compare.

The big girl is a big deal here.

From Media Planet:  WOMEN IN SPORTS: NO LONGER ON THE SIDELINES: Title IX opened the gates for female athletes—a halo effect empowered women to own, manage and work in the once male-dominated industry.

Case in point: Laura Gentile, espnW vice president, launched the digital initiative as a voice for women who love sports. “One of the best parts of starting this business was connecting women in sports to discuss issues and work together. Women have made a lot of strides,” she adds, ticking off names including WNBA’s president Laurel Richie and USA Today’s Christine Brennan. 

No Sancho? Williams is going to change things up a bit.

Prince leaves Chicago. Again.

No Ice, Ice Baby Tonight: From Odeen Domingo:#WNBA suspends @phoenixmercury Candice Dupree 1 game for making contact w/ game official Sat. Will not play tonight vs @LA_Sparks cc: @WNBA

All Star Voting Time! Who do YOU think deserves a $5000 bonus?

So what did you think of the Complaint Cam… I mean Borg Cam … I mean I Need my Dramamine Cam… I mean Ref Cam? WNBA debuts live high-definition ‘Ref Cam’. A ref speaks. And this: WNBA successfully debuts ref cam in Indy.

Nate keeps his promise: 2013 WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year watch list: Weighing scoring & value added in the post-Bonner era

After a three year run of Sixth Woman dominance (it’s difficult to argue that anyone was snubbed in the three years she won the award), Connecticut Sun guard Renee Montgomery won the award last season in familiar fashion in the world of basketball awards: she had among the highest scoring averages of any reserve in the league on a team that won its conference.

However in a year in which Bonner is starting (for now?) and Montgomery will miss significant time due to injury (WNBA voters tend not to give awards to players who missed significant time, which is fair in 34-game season), there is a chance the award will go to someone who isn’t quite a dynamic scorer.

In college news:

Swish has Gary Blair, Jim Foster reflecting on their careers at induction ceremony and some Hall of Fame interviews: Peggie Gillom-Granderson, Jennifer Rizzotti, Annette Smith-Knight and Sue Wicks:

Who had the greatest influence on Wicks?

“When I was a professional in Europe, players I would see, the way they held themselves, the pride that they had, the way that they played in total obscurity most of the time, I modeled myself after them. Along the way I would find someone who had a quality I really admired and I would try and emulate them.”

Coming back from an ouch: CU Buffs’ Rachel Hargis healing after MCL tear

Bye: Beckie Francis out as Oakland women’s basketball coach and Mines, women’s basketball coach Felderman part ways

Ooops: NCAA bans UNO men’s and women’s basketball from 2013-14 postseason

Yikes: Memphis Tigers women’s basketball team loses four players – Starter Abdul-Qaadir off to Indiana State as grad transfer

Wow! Congrats! Meia Daniels named new HPU women’s basketball coach

“We are pleased to be able to promote Meia Daniels to our head coaching position as well as our Senior Woman Administrator (SWA),” said Howard Payne Director of Athletics Mike Jones. “She has been mentored by two outstanding coaches in Chris Kielsmeier and Josh Prock and was a great collegiate player. She knows how to win and how hard you have to work to be successful at this level. These experiences will serve her well as she enters this new phase of her career.”

As a player, Daniels was 109-12 over four seasons leading the Lady Jackets to three American Southwest Conference championships, four NCAA III national tournament appearances and a NCAA III National Championship in 2008. A 2008 graduate of Howard Payne, Daniels holds numerous HPU and ASC records and is second in career scoring at Howard Payne with 2,118 points.

Some of you may remember Howard Payne’s run to perfection in 2008 because of the WHB or from this piece.

From Storming the Floor:

“After the incredible, unprecedented run through the 2013 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament that Shoni and Jude Schimmel, Umatilla, led the Louisville Cardinals on, ICTMN reached out to some of the most amazing and historically important Native hoops players to get their thoughts on the state of Native basketball, how to succeed in life and where they’re headed next—including from the Sisters themselves. “Let’s give them something to talk about!,” we promised. And so we kicked off a Conversations With Champions series, sitting down with eight basketball trailblazers, champions and builders for some one-on-ones. Here is a recap of the series, in case you missed any of the engaging discussions. These are men and women you need to know.”

Thank you: Iconic Elba coach Nowak retires and  Elba girls basketball coach Tom Nowak retires – Popular basketball coach compiled a 457-133 record

“It was really very rewarding to have gone through generations of family,” said Nowak. “To see the dads play football for me and then their daughters playing basketball — maybe both parents and children winning sectional titles.”

In the 2011-2012 season, Nowak coached his girls to their first state championship in the program’s history. Fittingly, the Lancers earned a perfect 25-0 season in their quest for the Class D title in Nowak’s 25th year as coach.

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

Snap judgment: Dan Hughes, COY.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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and disheartened.

Heartened: The Liberty are pulling out the stops to get people in the stands. I’ve gotten lots of emails. Trader Bill has been pro active in reaching out to the fans with meet-and-greets. He’s a generous, opinionated interview. And I’ve been offered free tickets.

Ya, free. Get over it, folks. You need to put butts in the seat and hook’em with the product on the floor. Of course, if they’re smart, there will be people handing out flyers and “come back with someone else next game and you get in free” coupons.

Heartened: An MSG person sent me this article: Cheryl Ford is back in WNBA, playing for the Liberty.

Wow, what a concept: the NY Liberty making their fans aware of articles about the team. Like, you know, some kind of news collecting service that helps tell editors that folks are interested in reading about the WNBA. Where have I heard that before?

Disheartened: They sent me the ENTIRE article in the email. Do they not understand the concept of copyright laws? Oiy.

Disheartened: The article comes as close to saying “Cheryl will be a game-by-game player” as it can without actually saying that.

In other news:

From the Atlanta Daily News: WNBA Facts at Your Fingertips

The 17th season of the WNBA tipped off Memorial Day Weekend. That’s right, THE 17th SEASON. Despite the ups and downs associated with the start of any American professional sports league and the additional challenge of establishing a women’s sports league, the WNBA is alive and kicking and poised to reach a new level thanks to an exciting infusion of fresh talent and personalities.

Michelle Smith writes: Candice Dupree a smooth operator

A straight line.

That’s how Phoenix Mercury coach Corey Gaines describes his veteran forward Candice Dupree, and he means it as a compliment.

What is more consistent, more sturdy, more sure a thing than a straight line? No jagged edges, no unexpected dips, no changes of direction. Just the shortest distance between starting a game and winning it. That’s Dupree.

Dupree embodies that steadiness, and Gaines and the Phoenix Mercury have come to rely on it.

The Tulsa GTR says: Diggins, Cambage to Spark Shock

From Newsday: Rookies shine during WNBA’s opening weekend

With Griner now having a WNBA game under her belt—albeit a 102-80 loss to the Sky—she and her fellow WNBA rookies must captain another effort that is near and dear to the league’s heart entering its 17th regular season.

That effort is renewing wide-scale interest in the WNBA itself.

So far so good: WNBA Season Off to Strong Ratings Start; Most-Watched Regular-Season Game on ESPN2 in Nine Years

From DC: With many new faces on hand, the Mystics look to turn things around in 2013

From Redeye’s Ernest Wilkins: WNBA demands your respect

The contest went like this: Them vs me. If I could hit more free throws (out of 10), then I would be the champ.

As for the game itself, can I just go ahead and say Sky guard Epiphanny Prince is my new favorite basketball player? Upon being introduced to me, she sized me up like a wolf would look at a rotisserie chicken, then drained like 19 3s in a row.

Speaking of Chicago, I didn’t want to jinx it, but how cool is this? The Q is in the W: Former Blue Demon Allie Quigley Makes Chicago Sky Roster

From Scott Mammoser at the Examiner: WNBA President Laurel Richie eager to watch Brittney Griner and rookies develop

From Ethan Grant at Bleacher Report: Brittney Griner and Fellow Rookies Have Tough Task of Renewing Interest in WNBA

LZ is grumpy: Stop celebrating women’s dunks

Let us hope this ceases to be breaking news so that she can be judged as a basketball player and not written about like some sort of vaudeville act doing parlor tricks.

I guess…. but, what kind of assumptions is LZ making? Why do they celebrate men’s dunks?

Some of the Swish Appeal folks are grumpy:  Is this “3 to See Campaign” just getting too biased and coming at the expense of other WNBA teams and players?

From the .com: FIVE THINGS WE NOW KNOW ABOUT THE WNBA

From Mechelle’s chat:

Sofia (Durham, NC): As a team, Phoenix looked poor in their season opener. I know it is early but the defensive schemes were way off & their shots were not falling. Will Gaines be on the hot seat if the team does not show dramatic improvement soon?

Mechelle Voepel: It’s really way too soon to be talking about hot seats. :) [WHB begs to differ! <g>] Obviously, the Mercury got a wake-up call from that game, so let’s see how that impacts the rest of the early part of the season.

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From the .com, where they continue the “Three to See” theme, they also have have Prospect Files and Q&As:

Bone:

When did you know you wanted to be a professional basketball player? And, given that dream, when did you realize that you had a legitimate shot of doing so? 
I knew I wanted to play professional basketball when I watched the Houston Comets win four consecutive championships, and I was at all four of them. I knew I had a legitimate shot at being a professional when I went overseas for the first time to France and played international basketball at the age of 16. I played against superior talent and several of the players from foreign countries were going pro. I was able to do well in that environment and realized that I could play this game professionally.

Delle Donne:

What do you expect to be some of the biggest challenges or adjustments at the next level?
Defending the guard spot. I play this spot on offense and need to be able to defend this spot on the defensive end.

Faris:

What do you expect to be some of the biggest challenges or adjustments at the next level?
With each new level the competition gets tougher and tougher. Players become smarter and stronger than they were in college. Just as I learned when I got to college, I will have to learn to adjust again in the WNBA.

Hawkins:

What strengths, qualities or skills will be able to bring to a WNBA team?
Relentless rebounding ability; the ability to run the floor, the ability to shoot the midrange to 3-point range.

Rogers:

When did you know you wanted to be a professional basketball player? And, given that dream, when did you realize that you had a legitimate shot of doing so? 
When I won Rookie of the Year for the Big East and I was sitting on that podium with soon to be professional players Maya Moore and Tina Charles.

Young:

When were you introduced to the game of basketball?
Sophomore year in high school

Sue and Richard l’Alien speak in Mike Peden’s: After top three, WNBA Draft a top-heavy toss up

“Previous drafts show that (Pokey) Chatman and Chicago have been influenced by NCAA tournaments,” Cohen said. “Chatman is very hands on and picky with the way her guards play, seeing as Vandersloot has had her growing pains.”

However, the Sky suffered migraines after Epiphanny Prince was sidelined with a broken foot. Without her offense, opponents harassed Fowles, quashing a promising start to knock Chicago out of playoff contention.

“Delle Donne is so skilled. She represents the type of player you have to be now,” Favor said. “She has the greatest potential to succeed.”

The Hartford Courant adds: Top 3 Picks Predictable, So Suspense Starts With No. 4

There is a running joke about Monday’s 2013 WNBA Draft. It’s the one about the how one draft can suddenly resemble two.

“The joke around here is that I have the first pick in the other draft,” said Mike Thibault, the coach and GM of theWashington Mystics and owner of the fourth selection. “I tried to come up with creative ways to get one of the three, but none of it worked.”

Mike Brown at the Tulsa World is thinking: Shock could land Skylar Diggins in Monday’s WNBA draft

Nate reminds folks that Tianna Hawkins leads this year’s group of scoring interior forwards

Roger Cleaveland at the Republican-American warns: Sun not in position to draft impact player

From Virginia’s Daily Press, David Teel has Suffolk product Sugar Rodgers awaits Monday’s WNBA draft

Sugar Rodgers set Georgetown career records for points and steals. She was the nation’s No. 4 scorer this season and exited the college game with a 42-point epic in the Big East tournament.

So it’s no surprise to hear Mike Thibault, the Washington Mystics‘ coach and general manager, say Rodgers is among the top four perimeter players available in Monday’s WNBA draft. And it’s no surprise to read mock drafts — yes, such shenanigans have trickled down to professional women’s basketball — that project Rodgers as a top-10 lock, a perhaps a top-five selection.

Yet Thibault, whose team owns the No. 4 pick, has some reservations about Rodgers, a 5-foot-11 guard from Suffolk’s King’s Fork High.

The writer who makes me wish I were an Ohio State fan wonders: Ex-Buckeye Hill should go early, but to which team?

“She is not afraid,” said Laimbeer, who has the fifth and seventh first-round picks. “I think that’s the thing. She will attack the basket at will and can get to the free-throw line. She creates contact. Those are good characteristics to get to the next level. We’ve definitely eyeballed her.”

Speaking of Ohio State, the job that no one seems to want (According to a message from Wendy Parker on Mike Flynn’s Twitter page, Jeff Walz said this about the Ohio State job rumors: “The only person who has offered me a job job is Geno at his restaurant.”), here’s something on the Search for the Next OSU Women’s Basketball Coach: A Progress Report

Some interesting discussion of skill building in the women’s game: Nebraska’s Connie Yori: Game is ‘overcoached, undertaught’

Nebraska women’s basketball coach Connie Yori recalls a telling conversation with a seventh-grade girl who was on hand for one of Yori’s camps a few summers ago.

Yori told the girl that she hopes the camp is a good experience for her, and that she learns a lot.

“She said, ‘I played 100 games this summer,'” Yori said. “In other words, she thought she really didn’t need to work on her (individual) skills. Here’s a kid playing all these games and basically thinking she has it all figured out.”

Perhaps what Nebraska men’s basketball coach Tim Miles says about youth boys basketball — that it has become game-heavy and skill-light — also applies to the girls game.

Said Yori: “I’m not saying this about all kids, but there are some kids who are just not working on their individual skills enough. So, therefore, it isn’t as commonplace for people to make open shots.”

And finally, who says players are the only ones who can do videos? Check out this rockin’ ‘tube by the Trainers. (I mean, ATHLETIC Trainers – get it right, get it right).

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“Fred.”

*snrtle* “…due to personal reasons.” *snrtle*

“Fred! Wake up!”

*snort* “HUH? What? Is the regular season over?”

“Not quite, Fred. You were having a post-Olympics nightmare. The regular season is almost done, though. Two teams fighting for a shot at the ping pong ba… I mean, playoffs.”

(Wipes eyes, stares at computer screen.) “Ah, Chicago and New York. I see the Sylvia-less Sky beat Minny.

“They sure did, Fred. Not a clue about what that means for their team, but it does tie’em with New York. What’s the schedule look like?”

“Well, Eth, looks like NY has the easiest path — and the tie breakers: Washington twice, at San Antonio and finishing up against Tulsa.”

(Both speak at once) “But you don’t ever want to over look Tulsa.”

(Laughs) “No, you sure don’t want to face my Coach of the Year. And Chicago?”

“The Sky’s looking like they need to be road warriors, Ethel: at Los Angeles, Phoenix and Seattle. Lucky them, they get Washington at home to finish up.”

“So, any predictions, Fred?”

“Ha. I may be an old dog, but you can teach me new tricks. I’ll save my words for Monday morning quarterbacking and my money for the Tulsa/NY tickets.”

“Until the final game, then.”

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how important you are to your team.

Sucks, though, for your team., whe you can’t play. The Prince-less Sky fall to the Taurasi-Taylor-and-Dupree-less but Bonner-rooful Merc.

That’s four losses in a row for Chicago – luckily they play in the East, which hosts the ever loss-reliable Mystics. (A flagrant AND a tech? Sounds like folks are cranky.) Off to see if the Lib can hold up their end of the bargain as they face Sue’s Storm.

The Shock like to score. The Dream like to score more.

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Dabnabbit!

Piph out 6-8 weeks.

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Not.

Especially if you’re Parker and the LA Sparks, who started on such a high against the Sun, and then boom. They took it to overtime against the Silver Stars, but that was all they wrote.

And especially if you’re Chicago, who saw their star end up on crutches. The Fever took advantage and Indy righted the ship with a nice win over the Sky.

In other news, another Connecticut writer weighs in on the suit v. Auriemma: Hardwick’s story about Auriemma hard to believe.

It’s hard to figure out this mess. I, too, have a hard time believing the accusations. One, I can’t imagine USA Basketball (in the form of Carol Callan) standing for the kind of crap Auriemma is accused of. At USA Basketball, they  take decorum beyond seriously. It’s never about “just getting the best so the US can win.” It’s about getting people who understand that the red, white and blue (and the gold) is IT. You mess with that ethos, it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever don the colors again.

Also, while I am in no way “in” in the world of women’s basketball, I know enough to know it’s a small world and there are VERY few secrets. People may know about unethical and immoral behavior and not do anything about it (witness Rene Portland and Penn State), but there’s little that the coaches,  writers and (some) fans don’t know. Across the board it seems people are saying, “Say what?” I keep waiting for the skeletons to appear.

That being said, just because there appears to be no pattern doesn’t mean what is alleged didn’t happen.

Wisest course of action: avoid a rush to judgment and wait for this thing to either play out in court or at the discussion table..

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the Bluegrass state (teaching, not birding). *And honestly, I’m trying to ignore the horror that is the Lib at Connecticut.*

From Nate: 2012 WNBA Most Improved Player Watch: Five Players Who Have Had Early-Season Success

All reports out of Chicago are that the Sky were more than happy not to endure another thriller in beating the Seattle Storm on Wednesday evening.

Nevertheless, Sky guard Epiphanny Prince still found a way to demonstrate that she’s taken her game to a new level this season.

I’m sure you all know what Nate is referring to: Efficiency In The World Of Basketball As ‘Effective Damage Per Second’ In World Of Warcraft

More Nate: Thursday Links: Sylvia Fowles’ Injury Scare, Candace Parker Makes Impression In Connecticut. Parker sure as heck did. Cool to hear UConnLobo cheer for a triple-double from TennesseeParker, wasn’t it?

*Holy carp! Will you LOOK at that Lib/CT score?*

’cause you can never have too many cooks: Lawyers Weigh In On Lawsuit Facing Auriemmaand for those so inclined: Trying To Understand The Point Of Law On A Difficult Case

What follows is an amalgamation of opinion about what both sides of this case may likely be thinking and what’s likely to happen sooner or later.

The most important thing to remember is: Listen, anyone can sue anyone for anything. That is not the issue. The issue is, can they win?

Did you see this over at Mel’s blog: Introduction and Robin Roberts’ Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Acceptance Speech

*Gads. The Lib/CT game is, as we used to say in college, “So ugly it’s WUGLY.” Unless, of course, you’re a CT fan. Down 40 at the end of the third. It’s kinda like a car crash. I’m having a hard time turning away.*

Interesting coaching hires at Jackson State (Surina Dixon), Buffalo (Legette-Jack) and SIUE (Buscher). And I’m not sure I mean interesting in a good way.

Ouch: Wiggins Completes 2012-13 Class With Destini Price (A decommit from Fresno St).

*Just turn away from the screen, Helen. You don’t need to see this. Actually, LA and Indy fans aren’t having so much fun neither.*

The rules review crew’s been at work: Decals, sportsmanship changes – Officiating ‘guidelines’ approved for charge/block calls

*Sigh. Shouldn’t there be a mercy rule or sumthin’?*

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you were happy:

The Sky soared above the Liberty. Wowza, Ms. Prince!

The Sun scorched Hotlanta. Wowza, Ms. Charles!

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and not so….

Hmmm, Minny’s looking good. *thunderous knocking of wood by Lynx fans*

Tina “It’s fun to score” Charles had a good time with the Mystics.

No, I’m not thinking you called Prince as the scoring leader (so far) or Prahalis as the assist leader (so far). I do call, “WTF with the hair” in that picture of rebounding leader (so far) Big Syl, though.

Is there something about Stanford players and last second baskets? And, no, L.A., you can’t play Seattle for the rest of the season and geez, Roman, sensitive much? :-)  wnba.com showing West Coast bias by hyperventilating over L.A. Sparks

CP3 confusion ends, though there is a need for a copy editor: Dream Waives Courtney Parris (sic) To Make Room For Jessica Moore

40. It’s the new XI: Sky, WNBA to honor Title IX on uniforms

COLLEGE:

Thank you, Sherri: The Write Space and Time: June 3 – Leave your story better than you found it.

As coaching careers go, mine was born lucky. My grand introduction to women’s college basketball coincided with the collision between the old Big Eight and the Southwest Conference. Football power conference plus women’s basketball hotbed equals the Big 12 Conference, a new concept and a fertile breeding ground for explosive growth. Nationally speaking, women’s basketball was poised for a coming out party. New programs and personalities were on the scene, attendance was rising, television was flirting…lightning was begging to get captured in a bottle. I was new to the collegiate scene, barely cognizant of the perfect storm I had landed in the middle of, and yet there I sat at the table with the giants of our game.

I was young and dumb in 1996 and yet smart enough to be quiet (read: keep opinionated mouth shut) and pay attention. Pioneers in their prime were running the room. Marsha Sharp was the captain of this juggernaut known as Lady Raider Nation. She coached Sheryl Swoopes (who scored 47 points in the National Championship game and would become an Olympic Gold Medal winner) and together with their throng of faithful followers they won a National Championship and took west Texas and the country by storm. Jody Conradt sat at the table–a national title, an undefeated season, the architect of Texas Women’s Basketball and a figure so respected, and at times so imposing, that she could have run for governor in that enormous state. And she would have won. Across from her sat Ceal Barry, the Colorado coach whose teams won four Big Eight titles and whose tenacious man-to-man defense and post player development had been building blocks of my high school teams for years. I loved watching her win and I so admired how her team did it. Talk about being in the right place at the right time! At those early Big 12 spring meetings held in the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, it was often hard to tell if my shortness of breath came from the altitude or the luck of my draw for getting to be a mouse in that room.

I’m not sure what’s going on with the Tennessee athletic department, but it sounds unpleasant and hurtful.

Oh, Canada! Natalie Achonwa Named To Canadian Women’s Basketball Olympic Qualifying Team

Cheerio, mate! Harvard’s Fagbenle on Verge of Making British Olympic Team

There’s a new boss in Sioux Falls: Amy Williams named USD’s women’s basketball coach

Ditto in Charleston, IL (EIU Introduces Lee Buchanan As Women’s Basketball Head Coach) and almost in Edwardsville (Buscher or Brown will be new SIUE women’s basketball coach)

Tambien in the land of the Thundering Herd: Daniel named Marshall women’s basketball coach

Aussi in New York City: After helping build SHU women, NYU a natural for Hall-Gregory

Central Arkansas taps Delta State for their new boss: Cent. Arkansas announces Sandra Rushing as women’s basketball coach

Delaware (no, not the Blue Hens) State picks Tamika Louis As New DSU Women’s Basketball Head Coach

Still waiting at Tennessee Tech: Coaches chime in on TTU search

Need one in Buffalo: Buffalo women’s basketball coach Hill-MacDonald’s contract will not be renewed

The former coach with a towel has a new gig: Associate Commissioner of the A-10

Interesting. As the WBHOF welcomes its newest inductees, (Go, Red Heads!) it also has an expanded board that’s rather… orange. :-)

OTHER STUFF:

Leveling the playing field even more

Girls-only sleep-away camps and suburban athletic clinics have been around for decades, of course. DePaul University women’s basketball coach Doug Bruno has run a basketball camp for girls at North Central College in Naperville since 1980, for example. What’s different is that these businesses are run by women who personally benefited from the changes wrought by Title IX and see their for-profit businesses as having an overt social mission.

Barb Lazarus was cheering her son’s baseball game several years ago when she noticed girls on the adjoining field didn’t really know how to play. Their lack of skills spurred Ms. Lazarus, 52, to make a business of multisport instruction for girls. Her Game On Sports Camp 4 Girls, in Lake Forest and Chicago and a sleep-away camp in Michigan, is in its sixth year.

Yes, I’m worried that Taurasi might not be able to play in London (I think we’ll be okay if she doesn’t, but it would stink for her), but I have no concerns about the future of USA Basketball:
Speaking of USA Basketball: Women’s basketball: Geno lifts Meier higher
Despite the 28-year age difference, their relationship has leveled. The mental pummeling Taurasi endured as an 18-year-old at Connecticut is over.
“When we’re together, something’s got to give,” Auriemma said. “When she was 18, I win, you lose. Now? She wins, and I lose.”
Auriemma’s ease of concession is surprising. It’s not a duo known for capitulation.
“I got to say that because I need her for the next month,” Auriemma said with a laugh. “Check with me after August.
* * *
Taurasi’s chance for her third gold medal almost didn’t reach this point of give-and-take. A false-positive test for a banned substance while playing in Turkey in 2010 nearly derailed everything. Taurasi says she’s never taken anything illegal, and the lab admitted it screwed up, then was stripped of its accreditation. She almost lost basketball.
“I don’t know how that makes a person feel,” Kathy Auriemma said. “It’s devastating. She’s not a casual person, she feels things very deeply. She cares and she loves strongly, and I think she was very lost [afterward].”

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via HoopGurlz: Former Exodus players Epiphanny Prince and Kia Vaughn are taking the lead for raising funds to cover the costs of a funeral service:

Apache Paschall dedicated his life to NYC girls basketball and had a profound effect on many. Please help us raise the money necessary to have a funeral service that reflects our collective love and thanks. In return for your donation, your name will be featured at the service. Any funds remaining after funeral costs are covered will be donated in equal parts to the American Heart Association (www.heart.org), Stand Up to Cancer (www.standup2cancer.org) and Exodus Girl’s Basketball Program (http://www.exodushoops.com/).

Please visit www.facebook.com/honorapache for up to date information on services and to post your messages, memories and photos.

Also from HG, Glenn writes: Apache Paschall: A coach and a friend

Apache Paschall was a close friend of mine.

It may be impossible to explain how difficult it was to write that sentence.

Paschall — the girls’ basketball coach at Nazareth Regional (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and the Exodus NYC AAU club program — died on Tuesday morning at age 37. Because he was younger than me, it’s still inconceivable and painful to have to write about him in the past tense.

Journalists are not supposed to befriend the people we write about. The unwritten rules are pretty clear about avoiding such conflicts and complications.

But in talking me through my grief over Paschall, who had been battling an aggressive form of skin cancer since a diagnosis in October as well as other serious health issues, my close friend and colleague Chris Hansen made a great point about the world in which we travel. There isn’t yet enough money or notoriety in girls’ basketball to motivate anyone. Those who are involved must do so because of the passion they feel for the sport and its growth. As such, the roles of the people on my beat are not the traditional ones — reporter, coach, parent, player; we all tend to be comrades in arms and friendships like mine and Paschall’s are not just unavoidable, they’re almost fated.

It didn’t seem that way at first.

From Chris: Players, coaches recall Apache Paschall

“I just talked with Bra’Shey Ali and Jennifer O’Neill,” University of Kentucky assistant coach Matt Insell said of his current players who played for Paschall at Nazareth and St. Michael, respectively. “They said they would still be on the streets of New York City if it wasn’t for him.”

Ali’s story might be one of the better examples of Paschall’s passion for the kids with whom he worked. As a senior at St. Michael, Ali verbally committed to West Virginia but never was able to enroll due to admissions issues.

“He got on the phone and begged us to give her a chance,” Insell said. “He wasn’t going to get off of the phone until we gave her a chance. He knew we didn’t have to sign another player in the class, but he was fighting to give her a chance.”

From Matt Ehalt: Paschall bonded with Mary Louis coach

Through suffering, a pair of rival basketball coaches forged a connection.

As Nazareth girls basketball coach Apache Paschall, who died on Tuesday, battled skin cancer this fall and winter, he talked at times with Mary Louis girls basketball coach Joe Lewinger, who has a pair of six-year-old twins that had or currently have cancer. It allowed the two coaches to develop a relationship beyond that of two coaches competing for a title.

“You have a situation where I got to see a different side of him, a more personal side of him and he was very appreciative and I was asking if I can help him or offer advice,” Lewinger said on Tuesday. “Call it whatever you want, there was a different form of a coaching relationship there.”

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have enough to do without using false cliches to malign officials?

Yah, it was a frustrating loss for Washington (so what’s new?). But pulling out the “it’s a shame when officials decide the game” is the kind of lazy carp that does a disservice to the game.

The officials didn’t “decide” the damn game. The players did. Prince didn’t give up and took a long shot three. Ajavon thought she could get away with a shoulder poke, but got caught. She sent Prince to the line.

Prince sank her free throws.

Chicago won.

Homer announcers who think that officals should change the way the call the game to suit the home team when there are 4 seconds on the clock should be roundly scolded.

’cause sure enough if the jerseys on the players were reversed and the ref had NOT called the foul, the announcers would have roundly scolded the refs, pontificating, “It’s a shame when the officials decide the game….’

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Scarlet night past, bright days ahead

They are linked through a college experience in which they shared some triumphantly transcendent moments … and some frustratingly distracting ones, too.

Now, still quite young in their professional careers, former Rutgers teammates Essence Carson and Epiphanny Prince are WNBA All-Stars. Both are having a breakout kind of season, which merited their selections as reserves for Saturday’s game (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET).

Looking at the photo…hmmmm…why do I have a sudden urge for candy corn??

Keeping with at Big East theme, from ESPN’s Page Two there’s a little on Rookie Hazing and  Sue Bird set for reunion at WNBA All-Star game

Saturday is the WNBA All-Star Game in San Antonio, but it will be more like a University of Connecticut family reunion.

For the Western Conference, four of the five starters — Swin Cash (2002), Maya Moore (2011), Diana Taurasi (2004) and Sue Bird (2002) — played for the Huskies. On the Eastern Conference side, Tina Charles (2010) is starting and Renee Montgomery (2009) is a reserve.

Page 2 had a chance to catch up with Bird, who has won a championship with UConn, an Olympic gold medal and a WNBA championship. Even though she’s been playing for the Seattle Storm since 2002, she still has a Connecticut cellphone number

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you missed a barn burner. Chicago and Connecticut took it to double OT until the home team won, allowing the headline writer over at AP to finally pull out this beaut: Sky shades Sun in double overtime.

Check out the the intriguing box: four double-doubles.

From Richard the Alien.

Okay, I’ll be honest. Very little happened in the WNBA yesterday that was remotely worth talking or writing about. Which is why this update is so late – I was waiting for inspiration to strike. It didn’t. So instead, I present a collated WNBA injury update, covering all the people on rosters who are currently known to be hurt, missing, or potentially out. Thought this might be useful to some people, at least. Back to normal updates tomorrow.

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Tons of stuff over at Swish Appeal, including:

How Epiphanny Prince’s Russian National Team Commitment Could Affect The Chicago Sky

2011 WNBA Preview: How Canty’s Veteran Presence Is Helping Pokey Chatman & The Chicago Sky

Yet for all that might immediately stand out about this team, Chatman called attention to a player that might not immediately stand out as worthy of mention as one of the team’s most significant players.

“I want to say this: probably the most helpful person on my staff is Dominique Canty,” Chatman volunteered when asked about Vandersloot’s development in an interview with Swish Appeal last week. “Dominique’s the most helpful – she’s more experienced than me in this league. She knows the players, she knows the coaches, she knows all of the ins and outs.”

And given the collection of talent the Sky have, it actually makes sense to begin with Canty’s significance.

Mechelle picks up on the Sky theme: Chatman has high hopes for first season

Among the athletes she coached there were her former LSU and current Sky player Sylvia Fowles and past WNBA champions Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson of Seattle and Diana Taurasi of Phoenix. Fowles obviously was already very used to Chatman from LSU, but Bird really didn’t know her before working together in Russia.

“She picked up the nuances of being a pro coach very quickly,” Bird said of Chatman. “As a head coach, she was very in tune with all of us as players. Something that I know that Brian [Agler, Seattle’s head coach] had to learn kind of the hard way is that you need your players to be fresh, and that sometimes means backing off a bit in practice. Pokey got that right away.

And espnW adds to the Windy City chatter: Chicago takes Courtney Vandersloot by storm

Slam has their 12 Days, 12 Previews: Los Angeles Sparks and some Video: Analyzing Why Sue Bird is So Good Footage from the 2010 WNBA Playoffs.

Oh, and from the .com, Alana Beard, Kara Lawson, Candace Parker and Sheryl Swoopes Discuss Launch of WNBA Season

And finally, from Mel: Guru’s WNBA Roundup: Still Here With Year 15 Ready For Launch

(Guru’s note: Additionally to some WNBA fodder below, Wednesday at 1 p.m. the Guru will appear on the WSTR internet radio broadcast with another of David Siegel’s roundtables @dishnswish, this one looking at the season with Debbie Antonelli, the voice of the Indiana Fever in the summer, and Christy Winters-Scott, the voice of the Washington Mystics.)

Once every five years the WNBA has produced a recurring underlying theme spoken in different variations – We’re Still Here.

Year number five in 2001 was about the ability to still survive while year number ten in 2006 meant a decade of success for the most part even though by then some charter teams had fallen by the wayside and others shifted to new locales.

Now it’s year number 15 up on deck and one could make the case that even considering the downside in the nation’s economy that have impacted cost-saving ways to get things done and roster sizes down to 11 from 13, one could make the case that the WNBA has done a better job at staying alive than many of the print media organizations that covered the league more heavily at its outset.

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A Sky video

from the Chicago Tribune: Owner laments another subpar Sky season

And, from the Chicago Daily Herald: Prince at a loss in Chicago Sky’s lost season

“It’s hard right now,” Prince said. “I don’t think I’ll even be able to watch (the WNBA playoffs on TV) because I’ll be jealous that I won’t be playing.

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