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

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

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

Make no mistake. This is Tamika Catchings’ team.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The president and this reporter briefly touched upon several topics:

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

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

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

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

NCAA

NCAA.com Rules group pleased with state of the game

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But she won it with them.”

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or was that a fierce, feisty game?

From Kent Youngblood at the Star Tribune: Lynx defeat Indiana, even WNBA Finals at 1-1 – Referees play big role in physical game, much to the chagrin of the Fever.

Well, now  we have a series.

After the Lynx tied the best-of-five WNBA finals at one game each with a 77-71 victory over Indiana at Target Center on Tuesday, there were radically different takes on the game.

To the Lynx it was a physical, aggressive game, just the sort you’d expect from a team with its back against the wall.

“The refs did a great job tonight,” Seimone Augustus observed. “They didn’t call anything. They let us play, and that’s what playoff basketball is all about.”

To the Fever? Well, let’s just say first-year coach Stephanie White saw things differently.

AP: Sylvia Fowles, Lynx even WNBA Finals; Fever coach livid about officiating

From Michele: Fever struggle to overcome Tamika Catchings’ foul trouble in Game 2

“I told our team, we are going to bottle up every sense of frustration, every sense of anger, every sense of knowing what we didn’t do and what we didn’t accomplish tonight, put that in a bottle and let it explode when we get back home,” said Catchings, who on Tuesday tied the league record for postseason games played at 64

Jon Krawczynski, AP: With Fever still fuming, Lynx ‘ready to go’ for WNBA Finals Game 3

“I learned a valuable lesson today,” White said. “I learned that it pays to go public with comments about officials. Who would have known?”

White called Game 2 “a blood bath” and said Shenise Johnson was “doubled over” by a hard screen set in the fourth quarter. The Fever picked up two technical fouls in the fourth quarter and turned the ball over 14 times in the second half, leaving them with the feeling that they kicked away a golden opportunity to take a 2-0 lead in the series.

“We know that we didn’t take care of business when it came down the stretch,” Catchings said.

From David Wood at the Indy Star: WNBA tells Fever coach Stephanie White to ‘keep quiet’ on officiating

Stephanie White has been a public figure long enough that she doesn’t need her 15 minutes of fame.

That’s what the coach received for outspoken criticism of officiating after the Indiana Fever’s 77-71 loss at Minnesota in Tuesday’s Game 2 of the WNBA Finals. Her comments were broadcast and discussed on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” and “Around The Horn.”

It remains to be seen whether gamesmanship influences Friday’s Game 3 against the Lynx at Bankers Life Fieldhouse (8 p.m., ESPN2). White said a league official asked her not to complain publicly again, and she was not fined. The best-of-five series is tied 1-1.

“The basic message is just to keep it quiet. But I couldn’t keep it quiet at that moment,” White said.

Josh Zavadil at the .com: Indiana Ready To Play In Front Of Hometown Fans Once Again

Just a five-minute stroll through the streets of downtown Indianapolis will make one thing clear: this city is behind the Indiana Fever. Storefronts display “Go Fever” signs, and it’s evident that Indiana’s run to the WNBA Finals has the city’s full attention.

On Friday — which Mayor Greg Ballard is declaring to be “Fever Friday” in Indianapolis — that attention focuses in on Bankers Life Fieldhouse, where Game 3 of the WNBA Playoffs 2015 presented by Boost Mobile will tip at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN 2.

Also from Josh:Fever Carrying Bottled Up Frustration Into Game 3

“I’m extremely excited,” center Erlana Larkins said ahead of Game 3. “I mean, after Game 2 we were pissed. We were pissed. We’re just ready to get back on the court. It’s a great thing to be back here in front of our fans, and they’re going to cheer us on and hopefully cheer us on to a victory.”

Bob Kravitz says, “Let’s give the Indiana Fever some love!”

I understand that women’s pro basketball remains something of a niche sport, especially in cities with successful men’s pro franchises, but let’s take nothing away from one of the best organizations in all of sports – men’s or women’s.

And let’s start here: Let’s talk about Tamika Catchings, who is not only one of the greatest female basketball players or all time, but is every bit the good corporate citizen as Peyton Manning or any other more well-known athletes. Grab a glimpse of Tamika while you can; next year will be here final year in the WNBA, and she hopes to polish off a brilliant career with a gold medal in Rio de Janeiro. Catchings has been the Fever’s heart and soul for years and years, and belongs on the Indy Sports Mount Rushmore right next to Manning and Reggie Miller. She’s already brought one ring to the city, and she has a chance to bring a second one as the Fever take on the favored Minnesota Lynx.

Audio add on: Katz: The Fever Are Everything That’s Good

The combined efforts of the Indiana Fever and the hashtag #FeverFull will bring thousands to downtown Indianapolis Friday night to cheer on the Fever to a game three WNBA Finals victory.  Tony Katz and the team at The Morning News have taken great joy in promoting this proud franchise, a franchise that staffs some of the great spots ambassadors for the state of Indiana.

So why has Tony Katz taken such a sudden interest in the Fever, when listeners identify him as more of a football and futball guy? 

It’s because the Fever represent everything that’s good.  It’s because the Fever can distract us from all of the bad that’s recently plagued the world.  The team has generated excitement for the city of Indianapolis and has offered another reason why Indy is such a great place to live.   

Tony is specific in the commentary below. 

Cool: Indy Lines Up For The Fever – Thousands get tickets to see the Indiana Fever in Game Three

Canadian Cool: Markham’s Sutton-Brown earns WNBA honours

Tammy Sutton-Brown’s time in playing with the WNBA’s Indiana Fever will not be forgotten.

In helping the Fever capture the 2012 WNBA title, the 37-year-old Markham resident and former Fever centre will be honoured when the club hosts the third game of the WNBA finals against the Minnesota Lynx in Indianapolis, Friday.

From Marcus Fuller at the Pioneer Press: Lynx prep for another physical battle in Game 3

The Minnesota Lynx didn’t know how physical the WNBA Finals would be until they were bullied by the Indiana Fever on their home court in a disappointing Game 1 loss.

Their response was to toughen up and be ready for a “blood bath” as Fever coach Stephanie White described Minnesota’s Game 2 victory that tied the series 1-1.

Now that both teams are battle tested, it will be critical for the Lynx not to back down against a frustrated Fever team in Game 3 on Friday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Table slap aside, David Woods says: Shenise Johnson continues to surprise for Fever

The .com has 10 Numbers That Tell the Story of the Finals So Far

BTW: Game 1 of 2015 #WNBAFinals Most-Watched Game Ever on ABC.

Anyone else hoping this goes to five?

Mechelle says, “What about that ’09 class!”

Indiana guard Briann January threw her head back and let out an exultant “yes!!!!” when it was mentioned. Then she high-fived teammates Marissa Coleman and Shavonte Zellous.

On this particular topic, she would have done the same even with someone on the “enemy” side, Minnesota’s Renee Montgomery. And with six other players dispersed throughout the WNBA.

What do they have in common? All were selected in the first round of the 2009 draft, and that group of seniors has proven to be one of the more successful classes.

Reviewing the season, Mechelle writes: Finals help WNBA hit high note despite early-season adversities

…from the perspective of the Lynx and the Fever, what’s happened on the court this season is more important than what happened off it.

“The quality of play was really good, the playoff races were tight,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “We have great parity, because every team has good players on it.

“What I said from the beginning of this year is that the league is bigger than one player or situation. And we’ve seen that’s the case.”

And, to counter the high note, about Sheryl Swoopes’ low note. I didn’t link the interview because I didn’t have the brain space to articulate my reaction beyond “wth!” Not so much helpful. So, I appreciate Kate Fagan’s take: What Sheryl Swoopes Got Wrong About Today’s WNBA

Sheryl Swoopes is one of the most famous women’s basketball players in history, with a platform bigger than most current players, and with a voice that many casual fans listen to and respect.

Her words carry weight. What she says matters.

So when she shares thoughts that seem half-baked, that’s a problem. And when her words seem to be just casually reinforcing a stereotype about the WNBA that current players have been working hard to reshape, that’s also a problem. And when those words also seem vaguely homophobic, that’s a really big problem.

And because that’s no way to end a blog posting, and because I like the name, tagline and headline: At the Hardwood Paroxysm (unbiased opinions from extremely biased people Philip Rossman-Reich has The WNBA foreshadowed the NBA’s positional revolution

Really the positional revolution, if we can call it that, is simply coaches seeking a strategy that gives them a competitive advantage (it was not Rashard Lewis’ three-point shooting that made the Magic successful in the late 2000s, but his ability to defend the traditional power forward) and maximizes the talent on the roster. Don Nelson was testing out crazy lineups and offensive strategies throughout the 1990s — he saw the true potential in Dirk Nowitzki.

Where though has the NBA seen the model for how games would be played in the future?

Believe it or not, the WNBA has eschewed the straight post-up for some time now. A lot of it was certainly out of necessity. With virtually no players who can play above the rim, the offenses tend to focus less on isolations and pure athleticism and more on keeping the paint clear for cutters and movement.

Still, it would be easy to have players in that league just be bullies down on the block. The league though has never skewed that way.

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it was Minny who actually ended up “down one.”

Catch was Catch, Larkins was on a mission (from Nate: Erlana Larkins’ record-tying rebounding powers Indiana over Minnesota in Game One of WNBA Finals), and Erin was busy showing Australia that, yes, they made a mistake. Says the Indy Star’s Erika D. Smith: With a basketball team this good, it’s time to get the Fever, Indy.

From Mechelle:

The Indiana Fever players sort of kept hoping against hope that Katie Douglas might show up. You know, some kind of medical-miracle thing that could make a sprained, swollen ankle well again. But they certainly weren’t counting on it.

“It wasn’t sounding good, so we continued our preparation without her,” Fever guard Briann January said. “It’s one of those things where we figured out our game plan where if we’d had her, that’s great. But if we don’t, we’re ready.”

Don’t know if Minny actually did end up with their panties in a twist (bless your heart, Lin Dunn!), but they sure were outta sorts. I imagine Coach C has all sorts of interesting things to say to her team, and that Game 2 will be a lesson of sorts. Catch up with WNBAlien’s Mega Preview.

On a side note: If only our college coaches had the courage of Seimone Augustus: Lynx star Augustus chides amendment

Seimone Augustus has always preferred to stay out of the public eye even as her basketball career has taken her to the heights of an Olympic gold medal and a WNBA championship.

With her adopted home state of Minnesota considering a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage, the Lynx star is now becoming a vocal proponent of equal rights for gays.

After all, she has her own wedding coming up, to longtime girlfriend LaTaya Varner.

I repeat: Anyone who says *women’s* sports isn’t political isn’t paying attention.

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