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Thank goodness.

An ugly, cranky start by the Merc gave Maya Moore the Lynx a nice lead. And then then Penny Taylor in the fourth quarter happened. And then… Bonner missed a FT, Maya didn’t, Diana missed a three and Big Syl grabbed the rebound. Lynx go to 4-0, Mercury fall to 0-4.

From Richard at WNBAlien: WNBA and the Pick+Roll, and introducing the W Dozen

Eleven days into the WNBA season, it’s a little early to be drawing any real conclusions (although the ‘Minnesota good’, ‘San Antonio bad’, and ‘What the hell is going on in Phoenix?’ hot-takes are already emerging). So we’re going to take a look at one of the key building-blocks of virtually every modern offense in professional basketball. The pick-and-roll – or even just the pick – is an incredibly simple concept. You put a teammate in the way of your defender, and then force the defense to deal with the problems that creates.

From Excelle: How New York Liberty are remaking their small forward position

The New York Liberty play a throwback style of basketball. Defense and rebounding are priorities 1A and 1B. While other teams move towards smaller fours that can spread the floor, head coach Bill Laimbeer’s squad often plays two traditional bigs together. The Lib will bog teams down to a crawl and punish them in the low post. It’s been a fun and successful brand of ball, and it hasn’t taken away from the more modern aspects of New York’s game. 

This season, the Liberty have scoffed at playing traditional small forwards, opting instead for smaller players who perform despite not fitting the mold.

Connecticut: Slow Start, Too Many Fouls, Mar Beginning Of Miller’s First Season With Sun

Because of the monthlong Olympic break in August, the WNBA season lasts into September so a few missteps in May aren’t going to make a team panic.

Still, the start of season is a critical time for the Connecticut Sun. New coach Curt Miller is trying to install his system and bring a new culture to the franchise. It would be better for all concerned if some positive reinforcement was available early to help the process.

SlamOnline.com: Q+A: Nneka Ogwumike – The fifth-year Sparks forward dishes on L.A.’s hot start.

From Paul Doyle at the Hartford Courant: Dolson Spreads Word On Her Identity, And WNBA’s

About 90 minutes before the Connecticut Sun‘s home opener, Morgan Tuck walked past a cluster of reporters surrounding Washington Mystics center Stefanie Dolson.

“Oh my God, Stefanie Dolson!” Tuck yelled.

Without missing a beat, Dolson replied.

“Oh my God, Morgan Tuck!” she said.

Then it was back answering questions, seamlessly and smiling. Dolson, who left UConn for the WNBA two years ago, is still the same quick-witted, breezy personality who became a fan favorite during her time in Storrs.

From Cosmopolitan: How WNBA Player Imani Boyette Beat the Odds — and Her Depression

From the Fever: Wheelin’ Around: Erica Wheeler’s Journey to the WNBA

NCAA

From the Tennessean’s: Joe Rexrode: Vanderbilt’s Stephanie White — worth the wait

White is the head coach of the WNBA’s Indiana Fever and will remain so through a season that could realistically end in the Finals in mid-October (she led the Fever to the Finals a year ago as a rookie head coach). She might take full command of her first Vandy team less than a month before it starts the 2016-17 season.

That’s not ideal. But if White is what Vanderbilt thinks she is, what her resume and command of a room suggest she is, it’s meaningless. It’s the delayed flight to start a vacation that you’re already laughing about at the end of the vacation.

More on White from the AP’s Teresa Walker: Stephanie White ready to speed up Vanderbilt as new coach

And more on the ‘Around the Rim’ podcast: Meeting expectations

On the latest edition of “Around The Rim,” 2005 WNBA champion Ticha Penicheiro joins women’s basketball analyst LaChina Robinson as special guest host.

The two discuss the Sparks’ dominant win over the Sky, why the Mercury continue to struggle, whether or not teams are exceeding or falling below expectations and which players that usually fly under the radar are playing surprisingly well.

Plus, Hall of Fame coach Lin Dunn stops in to discuss Stephanie White’s end-of-the-season departure to coach at Vanderbilt, her decision to exit retirement and return to coaching at Kentucky and much more.

Speaking of Dunn: Kentucky’s new assistant coaches have strong bonds, common goal

It’s a word rolled out with regularity by head coaches to describe their team and coaching staff: family.

The three new assistant coaches hired by embattled Kentucky women’s basketball coach Matthew Mitchell certainly gave off that familial vibe when they met with the media for the first time Wednesday.

The newest hire, Hall of Famer Lin Dunn, said she thinks of her new boss “almost like a son” before giving a sideways glance and a smirk.

“Not a grandson, but a son,” quipped the 69-year-old, who has won more than 500 games at the college, professional and international levels.

International

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

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

Breanna Stewart’s Debut Ranks Among Best in WNBA History

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

Aussies in WNBA: Phillips and Taylor find form

Ah, the life of a rookie post: Imani Boyette

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

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

But I’M HEALTHY, PEOPLE!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WNBA now has the best Wings in Dallas

Games:

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

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

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

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

NCAA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

High School

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

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

International:

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

USA Basketball:

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

Sunday, Aug. 7 

11 am/12 pm vs. Senegal

 

Monday, Aug. 8 

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

 

Wednesday, Aug. 10 

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

 

Friday, Aug. 12 

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

 

Sunday. Aug. 14 

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

 

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

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

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

Make no mistake. This is Tamika Catchings’ team.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The president and this reporter briefly touched upon several topics:

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

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

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

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

NCAA

NCAA.com Rules group pleased with state of the game

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But she won it with them.”

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…Tamika is pulling a Lin Dunn: Catchings’ greatest legacy is making sure she’s replaceable

It’s one thing to leave your mark on a team and a sport. It’s another to leave a piece of yourself that stays on after you’re gone.

And regardless of how corny or cliché it might sound, that is exactly what Indiana forward Tamika Catchings is doing. She has been forthright about how much time is still on the clock. The curtains will close on her playing career next year, whenever the 2016 WNBA season finishes for the Fever.

Kent: Lynx and Fever down to a single game for WNBA title – Four Lynx veterans will try to win third title together 

Perhaps because the emotions would become too strong, the Lynx tried hard to avoid the bigger picture and instead focused on the game Tuesday.

All necessary, of course. Wednesday night at Target Center the Lynx will play the Indiana Fever in Game 5 of the best-of-five WNBA Finals, the ultimate game in a series between two talented, determined teams that are separated by a mere three points after 160 minutes.

So the focus needs to be playing in the moment rather than leaving a legacy.

Lynx inching close to hard to come by dynasty

I wrote a pile of utter garbage several years ago, proclaiming that the San Antonio Spurs’ time as a perennial NBA playoff team and title contender was coming to a close. The key players were getting old, the argument went. All good things come to an end at some point, and this long Spurs dynasty was one of them.

A search for this misguided opinion has yielded no results; for whatever reason the Internet does not want me to find my old thoughts. But it was written. And it won’t be written here again about the Lynx.

Game 5 preview: Indiana at Lynx

AP’s Jon K: 

Before the Indiana Fever embarked on their 11th consecutive trip to the WNBA playoffs, veteran star Tamika Catchings handed out a journal to every one of her teammates.

The message was simple: For as routine as these trips have come for the Fever, it was so important to soak up the opportunities because you never know when they will present themselves again. The journals were for the players to document their journey.

.com: Lynx, Fever Well Aware Of Task That Lies Ahead In Game 5

The stage is set, the final adjustments have been made and the WNBA is set to crown a champion Wednesday night (8PM ET, ESPN 2). And the enormity of the situation is something that is not lost on the two teams fighting for WNBA glory.

Swish Appeal: Extensive WNBA Finals Game 5 Preview: Last woman standing

Scoggins: With two deep teams, Lynx-Fever compelling to watch

The Indiana Fever concluded their morning workout before Game 4 of the WNBA Finals with a contest. A half-court shooting contest that left players howling with laughter as they trash talked one another.

The Lynx contingent arrived on the court a few minutes later. Players exchanged their usual banter as they conducted interviews.

The mood around both teams could be best described as loose and relaxed, which would make sense if the occasion was a summer pickup game.

There was no hint of the tension that’s enwrapped their championship series.

Letters to the Star Tribune: Readers Write (Oct. 14): Minnesota Lynx gear, health insurance, Grand Avenue parking, debates on cable TV

My wife and I recently bought Minnesota Lynx tickets to their first playoff finals game against the Indiana Fever. We planned to show our support by wearing Lynx T-shirts to the game. The Lynx are Minnesota’s most successful professional team, having won two championships in the past five years and nearing a potential third, so how difficult could it be to buy some Lynx merchandise? Turns out, very difficult.

Oh, and… watch out, Lynx & Fever players! Cali’s got her “Under Armour Next” video submission ready!

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From the Female Coaching Network: Extra Time With Stephanie White

Doug: Fever-Lynx Preview

 It’s only fitting these WNBA Finals are going the distance.

”It’s absolutely been a great series,” Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. ”Four really, really hard fought games. Why not go to a Game 5? It’s been that good of a series. It’s one of those things that people like to see.

Mechelle: Game 5 is a fitting end for a WNBA Finals full of good basketball

Six years have passed since the last Game 5 in a WNBA Finals. And it seems like both quite a while ago and not quite so distant to Indiana point guard Briann January.

“Since then, I’ve gained a lot of experience,” said January, whose Indiana Fever lost that game 94-86 to Phoenix on Oct. 9, 2009. “That still burns me. I was a rookie, and they won Game 4 here [in Indianapolis] and then won in Phoenix. To end the season like that, it sits with you.”

In Game 5 on Wednesday (ESPN2, 8 p.m. ET) in Minneapolis, the Fever and the Minnesota Lynx will battle one last time this year. One team will celebrate a championship, and the other will be left, as January said, with a bad feeling that lingers.

In college news:

Back to work: USC women’s basketball team reloads for new season and As practice tips off, USC women’s basketball once again sets sights on national title and Gamecocks women’s team putting last year’s success behind

Key veterans return for Notre Dame women’s basketball  and Ali Patberg ready to run point for Notre Dame women’s basketball

Anyone who knows Muffet McGraw is well aware that she wouldn’t hand the keys to her offense over to just anybody.

That, by itself, is proof positive that Ali Patberg is something special.

The 5-foot-10 freshman point guard from Columbus, Ind., is one of the key components of the next wave of talent — along with classmates Marina Mabrey and Arike Ogunbowale — that should keep Notre Dame’s women’s basketball team among the nation’s elite for years to come.

Video: Coach McGraw at Media Day

Georgia women’s basketball: new head coach Joni Taylor comfortable in command

OSU women’s basketball: Beavers look to build off 2014-15 successes

“It’s season time now,” senior Jamie Weisner said Monday afternoon. “We’re playing for keeps. I wouldn’t say the Italy practices weren’t intense but we’re just building off that. Each day you want to progress and that’s what we’re doing.”

Those August practices helped get the three freshman integrated to the way the Beavers practice and allowed them to form cohesion on and off the court with the returners.

“When we got back in here on Wednesday we already had that base level so we just took it from there,” Weisner said. “I would say they put us ahead of the game.”

UConn’s Stewart learns a lot from time with USA Basketball

Harumph: Balcomb: Vanderbilt women better after players left

Scott Seeks Strong Finish to Herd Career

In the 46-year history of women’s basketball at Marshall, only seven players have scored more points in a season than Leah Scott did in 2014-15.

In her upcoming senior season, Scott intends to do even better – but not just at the offensive end of the floor.

Nebraska: Women’s basketball notebook: Yori excited about young players in program

Finally, a h/t to Joanna for the Storify: The WNBA, Women Sports Writers and Personal Responsiblity

During Game 4 of Monday night’s 2015 WNBA Finals, @hoopfeed sent out a tweet regarding the lack of women sports writers talking about the Finals. This sparked a reply by Kate Fagan (@katefagan3) on Monday morning. Thus began an interesting conversation about the responsibility of women sports writers when it comes women’s sports.

Longtime readers of the WHB know of my ongoing advocacy for coverage of women’s basketball. It’s a complicated issue, and at its core is love and money. Buy me a beer some day, and we can unravel some of the discussions I’ve had with fans, Sports Information Directors, journalists an sports editors.

The simplest equation is that coverage is directly related to income generated. Income generated is connected to advertisers and their belief that the sport they are underwriting is worth it because of the fanbase. Chicken-Egg anyone?

So, what do we do?

  1. If you are a SID, Conference, or WNBA team aggregate all the articles written about your team/conference/league and offer a “News Digest” to fans. Actively and aggressively find traditional and non-traditional media outlets.
  2. If you are a fan, don’t just click on news articles. Take a moment to leave a comment – even if it’s only to say “thank you.” When you have more than a moment, drop an email to a writer and their sports editor. Twitter is also a great way publicize your advocacy.
  3. If you cover women’s basketball, publicize your writing. Yes, that used to be considered tacky in the good old days, but it’s essential now. If your parent company allows, publicize the writing of others. If you have the time to watch a game, toss out a couple of tweets!

Love, money, chicken, egg – if we work together, get the the word out, more fans will mean more coverage which will mean more writers actually earning a living covering sports – men’s AND women’s. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

Speaking of coverage, want a chance to put your money where your heart is? Check this out from Paul: A challenge to the women’s basketball family

It was with a heavy heart last week that I felt the need to pose a challenge to the women’s basketball family.

It came after news that the terrific lovewomensbasktball.com was closing its doors after volunteer editor, contributor and general women’s basketball fanatic Janis Kacens was no longer able to continue.
***
…this site does not happen by accident. The enjoyment attained by those thousands of people from across the basketball community has been brought to you by Janis in what has been a ‘labour of love’. Often controversial, I have not always agreed with him, but the respect I have for the countless hours of work he has put into this project and the knowledge he has could not be higher.

But why do we have to place so much expectation on someone doing on top of a day job and on top of studying?

It is time for the women’s basketball community to respond.

I feel that if we can’t get 250 people to pay $4 or about 3-4 euros per month (basically a cup of coffee or so) to support the cost of running the site and to actually compensate and support those who burn the midnight oil continuously, then this is a damning indictment of women’s basketball.

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Thank you, Indiana, for extending the WNBA season for fans (even though you gave’em all agita in the last 7 minutes.)

David Woods: 

Marissa Coleman and Shenise Johnson weren’t along on the drive to the Indiana Fever’s 2012 WNBA championship. If the Fever add another title, those two will have supplied much of the fuel.

Johnson scored 15 points and Coleman 14, and the Fever defeated the Minnesota Lynx 75-69 Sunday night to even the WNBA Finals at two wins apiece.

Attendance was 10,582 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Kent Youngblood: Indiana defeats Lynx, forces deciding Game 5 – Full-court Indiana pressure, foul trouble kept the Lynx from closing out series in 75-69 loss. 

 Before the game, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve told her team. Warned them, basically. If you don’t play defense this series won’t end Sunday night.

They didn’t. And it didn’t.

See you Wednesday.

More Kent: Lynx lose a game and an opportunity

Chip Scoggins:

Cheryl Reeve begged and pleaded and flailed her arms. The Lynx coach shed her jacket in frustration and had a constant expression of bewilderment.

She probably didn’t recognize the team on the floor, not for much of the night anyway.

The two-time champions looked frazzled in a way that felt unusual in Game 4 of the WNBA Finals.

From Mechelle:

As I grow older, I do see the connection — that ability to refocus,” the Indiana Fever point guard said. “Especially when you’re in tense situations, to be able to calm yourself. When it comes to toughness, focus, discipline … there’s a lot of things I’ve learned through martial arts that I’ve carried through to basketball.”

OK, that explains January’s mindset. But how exactly is this entire Indiana Fever franchise able to keep on doing this crazy “you can’t kill us” thing? Because Sunday night, on the brink of elimination, the Fever won. Again. How do they do it? Hey, it’s just the Fever way.

Melissa Issacson (welcome to the fold!): Cheryl Reeve, Minnesota Lynx frustrated with Game 4 loss

Cheryl Reeve’s jacket doesn’t have its own Twitter account [WHB: I could have sworn it did], but it probably should. While Sunday night’s exhibition might not have reached the standard of Sean Rodriguez and the Gatorade cooler — and fell short of Game 2 of the 2012 WNBA Finals when Reeve threw her suit coat so hard after a technical foul that she later had to have her right shoulder evaluated — this one wasn’t too shabby.

AP : Fever move to 5-0 in elimination games and push Lynx to decisive Game 5

Shenise Johnson scored 15 points and Marissa Coleman added 14 to help the Fever beat the Minnesota Lynx 75-69 on Sunday night, forcing a decisive Game 5 in the WNBA Finals. Indiana is 5-0 in elimination games this postseason.

“Every single person that had gotten in, we’ve played for each other,” Catchings said. “We don’t want it to be done yet.”

AP Doug:

“We’ve had our backs against the wall this entire playoffs, we’ve responded well and have been able to come away with wins,” said Marissa Coleman, who scored 14 points for the Fever.

Indiana is 9-2 in elimination games starting with its run to the 2012 championship when the Fever beat Minnesota.

“We have the heart of a champion — and Tamika Catchings,” Fever coach Stephanie White said. “I really love this team.”

Examiner: Fever wins fifth elimination game during unlikely postseason run

“It’s our focus, we always come together at the right time,” Catchings said. “We’re inspired by one another, every single person who has gotten in, we play for each other. One thing people talk about is how many points people score, and I talk about the little things, and it’s great to pass the torch. If every single day you have the mentality you are great, then nobody will stop you. You continue to see the confidence of the team get higher and higher, we have a lot of first timers, and you want to build off of that.”

.com: White Starts, Johnson Finishes Fever‘s Second Half Rally

Bob Kravitz: Catchings refuses to let the Fever lose — again

Tamika Catchings knows the clock is ticking on her Hall of Fame career, knows this kind of opportunity to win a WNBA title may never come around again after Wednesday’s much-anticipated Game 5 at the Target Center.(And how appropriate that this classic series should be coming down to a Game 5?) So, one day after being down in the dumps after what she described as one of her worst games ever in a Game 3 loss, she showed up at Bankers Life the next day with her spirit and his smile fully intact. And she made it clear to her teammates:

“We’re going to win this one,’’ she said. “We’re going to win.’’

.com: Fever Thankful For Fan Support Through Ups and Downs Of 2015 Season

Gregg Doyel: Tamika Catchings wins matchup of stars when it counts

When it was over, the speakers were playing “Celebration” and the Bankers Life Fieldhouse crowd of 10,582 was screaming happily and Indiana Fever star Tamika Catchings was waving goodbye to the crowd, goodbye until next season anyway, and repeating these two words:

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

No, the crowd was shrieking in return.

No, Tamika. Thank you.

Vice Sports: Time is Running Out to Watch Tamika Catchings, the Greatest Women’s Basketball Player Ever: 

More than that, though, she’s contagious. Catchings’s tenacity inspires and galvanizes her teammates, launching her Indiana Fever past better-known and more heralded teams into the WNBA Finals this season. It’s not so much that the Fever play as one as it is that they all play like Catchings: they are infused with the spirit of the moment. Double teams are rushed toward like they are salvation; every shot and every pass is contested, always. There is a reason why Catchings’s teams are 9-2 in elimination games following Sunday night’s 75-69 win to force a decisive Game 5 in the WNBA Finals against the Minnesota Lynx.

SportsPage Magazine: 

After Game 1 of the 2015 WNBA Finals series, Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve reminded people that it was the first 40 minutes of a 200 minute series. Her words were prophetic as the Indiana Fever staved off a late charge by the visiting Minnesota Lynx, winning Game 4 by a score of 75-69 in front of an announced crowd of 10,582 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Sunday, to push the series to a decisive Game 5.

Swish Appeal: 

Foul trouble was the name of the game again in Game 4 of the WNBA Finals.

Sylvia Fowles battled foul trouble from go, and the Fever executed a textbook strategy, claiming a 75-69 win.

Both teams struggled with foul trouble in Game 3, but this time Tamika Catchings remained on the floor with no fouls. And that could have been the key for the Fever to keep their championship hopes alive.

More Swish:

Tamika Catchings, Briann January, Erlana Larkins and Shavonte Zellous had the spotlight in the 2012 WNBA Finals against the Minnesota Lynx.

Three years later, Shenise Johnson and Marissa Coleman will join the champions and enter the light.

“[Last night] I’m looking to Catch. I’m looking to Bri. I’m looking to Steph. And they do a great job of putting us in position to make good decisions,” said Johnson. “We have good relationships with each other. And when you have that, the trust is unlimited.”

Canis Hoopus:

The most eye-catching problem has to start with Sylvia Fowles’ foul trouble. Fowles played less than twenty minutes in the game after picking up two quick fouls in the first quarter, then lasting only a couple of minutes in each of the second and third quarters before picking up more fouls. She finished the game with five points and five rebounds, and was a complete non-factor.

Friendly Bounce: Last night in the WNBA Playoffs

Photo Gallery.

8 takeaways from Game 4 of the WNBA Finals

.com: Game 5 Sets The Stage For Culmination Of All-Time Great Finals Series

The outcome was not what Minnesota head coach Cheryl Reeve desired in Game 4 of the WNBA Finals 2015 presented by Boost Mobile, but the significance of what lies ahead is not lost on her.

Even with Sunday’s loss, she still has her team on the brink of a WNBA championship. But so does Indiana Fever head coach Stephanie White. Both coaches have brilliantly guided their teams throughout this postseason, and now it’s set to culminate in a winner-take-all Game 5 in the Target Center Wednesday night (8PM ET, ESPN).

Poll: Who ya got? 

This story makes me wish we’d had a Lib-Minny Finals – Who wouldn’t want to see a dance off between the Timeless Torches and the Senior Dancers? Senior Dancers are a crowd favorite at Lynx, Wolves games – The wildly popular Senior Dancers help attract fans to Minnesota Lynx and Timberwolves games.

And sure, I’d love to advocate for a “Best of 3,” Best of 5,” “Best of 7” format – as soon as the stands are full enough to convince the arenas that the WNBA playoffs are more lucrative than “Disney on Ice.”

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Until we know if we have to switch from our WNBA gear to our college gear.

Lots on the game at the .com

Thoughts From Shootaround Ahead Of Game 4

Fever Facing Elimination, Remain Confident

Moore, Montgomery Share Competitive Drive That Goes Back to UConn

New Faces Helping Lynx Reach New Levels

Lynx Fans Make Their Voices Heard In Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Other coverage:

Indiana Fever’s Pat Boylan talks WNBA Finals Game 4

David Woods: This could be Catchings’ last chance for another title

Given how hard it is to advance through the playoffs, this might be the last chance for Tamika Catchings to win another league championship. Sunday’s Game 4 (8:30 p.m., ESPN) might be her last WNBA Finals appearance at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Catchings is not set to retire until after the 2016 season, and the Indiana Fever have a roster good enough to make another run.

But so do Chicago and New York, both of which nearly eliminated the Fever in the Eastern Conference playoffs. So do the Minnesota Lynx, who lead the Fever 2-1 in the best-of-five Finals and could secure a third championship in five years. So do the Phoenix Mercury, especially if Diana Taurasi returns in 2016.

In other words, Fever fans should enjoy the precious present. This could be it. Win-it-for-Tamika has been an overriding theme.

WTHR: Indiana Fever have thrived facing elimination

“Your back is against the wall and you know your urgency has to be at an all-time high,” said Fever head coach Stephanie White. “You really don’t have anything to lose. You just go out and work and play your butts off. We’ve put ourselves in a position in all three games to win. It’s one play here or there that we haven’t made or they have made that’s been the difference.”

From Mechelle: With backs against wall, Fever have proven to be resilient

When the Lynx faced the Fever in the 2012 WNBA Finals, they were blown out in Game 3 and then fell in Game 4 as Indiana took its first title. And these 2015 Finals were looking a lot like 2012 … until Friday. The Lynx’s 80-77 victory on Moore’s buzzer-beating trey probably would have taken the air out of many teams. But it’s less likely it will do that to Indiana, because that’s not how the Fever are wired.

About the team: Fever’s consistency, success begin with GM Kelly Krauskopf

On a street corner in downtown Indianapolis Friday afternoon, a gaggle of little girls bearing “Go Fever” signs waited for the light to change and held their own private pep rally.

“That’s credit to Kelly beating her head against the wall,” noted Cheryl Reeve, the head coach of the Minnesota Lynx, Indiana’s Game 3 WNBA Finals opponent later that night. “I hope Kelly is sitting back and having a martini and enjoying all of it.”

AP Doug, on that other team: Maya Moore, Lynx go for the clincher in WNBA Game 4 tonight

The first three games have been decided by a total of 15 points. Most of the stats are just about even between the teams.

“It’s going to come down to the end, down to the last five minutes, last three minutes, last one minute,” Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. “Whoever it is that gets the chance to make the last play. Because of that, it is a hard out.”

Swish Appeal asks, 40 minutes or 1 more game? Game 4 preview

BTW: Goestenkors to college coaches everywhere: Start watching the WNBA

That’s part of why she encourages all coaches to tune in. Goestenkors also said if coaches at different levels of the game can visit a WNBA training camp or go to a practice, it will be very worth their while.

“If they’re serious about becoming a great coach, they should do that,” Goestenkors said. “Because there is really no comparison to the amount I learned in just a few short years in the WNBA, as opposed to what I learned as a college coach through all of my years.

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16,332 Banker’s Field hearts breaking as Maya Moore nailed her game-winning three. Yah, Indy and their fans were stunned, but what. a. game!  Eight lead changes and 11 ties, including four in the final quarter? Here’s hoping they pack the stands on Sunday and Watch This!

More on the game:

David Woods: 

“I think that might have been one of the best-played WNBA Finals games in our history,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said.

It was. Not that it made the Fever feel better. Reeve referred to the 2009 WNBA Finals as perhaps the best in league history, and that one opened with the Phoenix Mercury beating the Fever 120-116 in overtime. The Mercury beat the Fever in Game 5 at Phoenix to take the title.

Bleacher Report: Indiana Fever vs. Minnesota Lynx Game 3 Score and Reaction

Doug at the AP: 

“(1.7) seconds is a lot of time,” Moore said. “I’m a basketball junkie, watch basketball a lot.  . . . Everything fell on the line, did what I could. It was a basketball move and I was able to get it off. Fortunately I have a pretty quick release and it worked out. I haven’t seen the replay yet, when I let it go I knew I got it off.”

Moore was hard-pressed to remember the last-time she hit a buzzer-beater. She had to go back to her AAU days when she hit a winner for her Georgia team to win a championship.

“It’s been a while, I know that,” she said.

That shot ended a thrilling game that both coaches said was one of the most entertaining in WNBA Finals history and gave Minnesota a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.

SportsPage Magazine: Moore’s Clutch Three-Pointer Downs Fever, Lynx Take 2-1 Series Lead

 The Minnesota Lynx received much a needed insurance policy during Game 3 of the 2015 WNBA Finals when forward Maya Moore hit a three-point shot as time expired to lift the Lynx to an 80-77 victory over the Indiana Fever in front of 16,332 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday night. Minnesota now holds a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series. But unlike previous post-season games, officiating was not a subject of post-game discussion among the players or coaches, nor did it lead to furor among the fans.

.com: Maya‘s Game Winner From All Perspectives

Doyel asks: What more could Marissa Coleman have done?

More than 16,000 people at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and Marissa Coleman had a better view than anyone. She didn’t just see it happen – she saw it happen to her. She was the Indiana Fever player trying to defend Minnesota’s Maya Moore with 1.7 seconds left and a tie score Friday night in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals.

She was the player who failed.

And Coleman, she wanted to see it again. Where she went wrong. Why? How? That’s what she was doing when I entered the Indiana locker room after its 80-77 loss in Game 3 that left the Fever on the brink of elimination.

Gwinnett Daily Post: Maya Moore 3-pointer at buzzer lifts Minnesota Lynx to WNBA Finals win | PHOTOS

For three quarters on Friday night in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Minnesota Lynx standout forward Maya Moore was more of a spectator than a participant in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals.

As the Lynx built a 59-57 lead through 30 minutes, the Collins Hill grad played only 12:11 and scored 12 points.

Swish Appeal: Moore and more: Lynx win behind Moore’s clutchness

Friendly Bounce: HmmmohhhMayaGod: Moore’s buzzer beater lifts Lynx

Bring me the News: Moore burns Fever with buzzer beater, Lynx lead series 2-1

Pioneer Press: Lynx reserves almost steal the show in Game 3 win

Before Maya Moore posed like a superstar, her game-winning three-point shot beating the buzzer and breaking the Indiana Fever for an 80-77 win in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals, Friday night belonged to the unsung players.

From Parrish Alford of the Daily Journal: WNBA on the rise

Basketball fans will no longer watch Armintie Price-Herrington in the WNBA, but that doesn’t mean they’re not watching the WNBA.

The former Ole Miss All-American retired from the women’s professional league last month.

She says interest is growing in women’s basketball, and the WNBA is strong, because it has quality players who promote the sport.

“We’re doing such a good job of becoming great role models. Once we take the court we’re giving it our best. We’re not limited to, ‘Oh, they’re just girls.’ We’re playing hard and doing our jobs,” she said. “You got girls dunking, girls scoring 40 points a game. Doors are open for women’s basketball because of the hard work we’re putting in.”

In other news: KU women’s basketball embraces change

So much changeover exists within the Kansas University women’s basketball program right now, you’ll have to be patient with first-year head coach Brandon Schneider when it comes to figuring out one fairly significant aspect of this roster’s makeup.

Only sophomore point guard Lauren Aldridge, junior forward Jada Brown and sophomore guard Chayla Cheadle — all complementary players last season — have started more than two Division I games. That’s the number of career starts for junior big Caelynn Manning-Allen. No other available Jayhawk can even claim one.

As a result, the Year 1 transition for the former Stephen F. Austin and Emporia State coach includes discovering who KU can count on for points.

No real surprise: MTSU women’s basketball picked to win C-USA

Red & Black: Second to command: Lady Bulldogs start practice under Joni Taylor, the program’s second full-time head coach

Lots from Iowa State: Young Cyclones have lofty goalsBlaskowsky, Baier embracing role as senior leadersISU women’s basketball reloads with trio of freshmenFennelly not worried about rule changes

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved a handful of changes for this season, the biggest change being in the game’s format. NCAA women’s basketball games will be played in four 10-minute quarters this season. Fennelly believes that will add excitement to each contest.

“I don’t think it’s a big deal,” he said Thursday at ISU’s women’s basketball media day. “I think it’ll speed the game up. What you’ll have to do is, your players will have to be in better shape because there will be less timeouts.”

From Mike Potter in Durham: Foundation of women’s basketball at Duke cemented firmly

Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie is probably losing a bit less sleep than she was a year ago at this time.

The 2014-15 Blue Devils women’s basketball team had exactly one proven player – then senior center and eventual WNBA first-round pick Elizabeth Williams – when they took the floor last November. They finished ranked No. 16, played in another NCAA Sweet 16 and concluded 23-11.

But now Duke has a pair of proven sophomore stars in combo guard Rebecca Greenwell and play-everywhere 6-foot-5 Azura Stevens, the nation’s top recruiting class, enough proven role players – and next season will welcome two-time Maryland All-American Lexie Brown as a junior transfer.

Quack: A look at this year’s Ducks women’s basketball team

As Jeff tries to ignore the ugly circus over on the men’s side of the hallway, some (tentative) good news: Durr expected ready for U of L’s opener

Asia Durr’s recovery from a groin injury suffered in the spring has come slower than expected after Louisville women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz in July anticipated the top-rated recruit would be “full go by mid-September.”

U of L started practice Wednesday, and though Durr was involved, she isn’t yet participating in every activity.

North Carolina: UNCW women’s basketball team pushing for winning season

The stated mission during Wednesday’s media day for the UNCW women’s basketball team was clear as fourth-year coach Adell Harris put the focus on the weeks ahead and not some of the other issues the program dealt with over the last month or so.

After a successful season in which the Seahawks surpassed most of their stated goals for the year, UNCW heads into practice without two of their key contributors, who made up about 50 percent of its scoring from the 2014-15 slate.

Will the growth continue at Rhode Island? Start of the Season has Team Pumped

How about in Orono? Performance staff help UMaine basketball players achieve next level

Minnesota: Gophers Replacing Amanda Zahui B. is tall task for newcomers

New Mexico:  Lobos adjusting to life without Antiesha Brown

With the departure of Antiesha Brown, New Mexico is in search of leadership.

Brown’s offensive presence led UNM to the longest winning streak in UNM women’s basketball history. In last season’s campaign, Brown led the team in games played, minutes played, points, free throws and free throw percentage.

“You have a leader that’s been here for three years,” head coach Yvonne Sanchez said. “She was a very good basketball player, number one — but she was a phenomenal leader.”

After the storm: Wichita State women’s basketball starts practice with inexperienced roster

Jody Adams has had such a successful coaching career at Wichita State she can look back on her own rebuilding projects when it’s time to do it again.

The Shockers started women’s basketball practice on Tuesday at Koch Arena with 10 players, none of whom are seniors. Four are freshmen and the three returners who played last season combined to start three games. Adams, who started at WSU in 2008, went back to her notes on previous inexperienced teams to see what she might expect. On Tuesday, the players performed more like an experienced group.

Former Western Michigan University women’s basketball assistant coach John Swickrath was fired for making “sexually-related and/or very personal” comments to a former student-athlete, according to documents obtained by MLive Kalamazoo Gazette through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Nice: 

Already having etched his name as the most successful head coach in USF women’s basketball program history, Jose Fernandez has taken another step toward securing the future success of the program he has built.

Just a few months after signing a contract extension that will keep him at USF through 2021, Fernandez and his wife, Tonya, announced a gift to create the Jose & Tonya Fernandez Women’s Basketball Scholarship. It marks the first endowed scholarship for the program that has made 11 post-season appearances in the last 12 years under Fernandez.

From the NCJAA ranks: Women’s basketball begins quest for national championship

When the women’s basketball team took a heartbreaking loss in last year’s national championship game, the Lady Cobras knew expectations had been set for this season. This doesn’t mean the Cobras are short on challenges this season.

Last year’s NCJAA D-2 Women’s Basketball Player of the Year Hannah Wascher has moved on to southern Indiana and starting point guard Laura Litchfield is now at University of Illinois, Chicago. That leaves head coach Mike Lindeman searching for replacements to keep his fast paced and unrelenting style of play going to fire the Cobras into the championship.

D3 News: Women’s Basketball Ranked Preseason #5 in Nation

The New York University women’s basketball team is ranked #5 in the nation in a preseason poll by Women’s DIII News, a monthly Division III women’s basketball publication.

The Violets return four of their five starters from 2014-15, a season in which they went 22-5 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament.

Basketball history on the page, anyone? Charles Riley writes book about history of girls basketball

Charles Riley doesn’t like to make people mad.

While doing research for his 2014 book “From Hard Dirt to Hard Wood,” which chronicles the history of boys basketball in Morgan County, he was asked by several people, “What about the girls?”

“When I was doing the boys book, I had no plans on doing a girls book,” Riley said. “When I visited the schools looking for information, a lot of people asked when I was going to do a book about the girls. Some of them sort of got a little mad when I told them I wasn’t. I felt like I needed to get back in their good graces.”

The result is “Remember the Girls: A Century of Girls High School Basketball in Morgan County.”

Basketball history on the stage, anyone? 

As early as the 1930s, though, women played team sports. The 1992 film “A League of Their Own” portrayed the women who played baseball during World War II.

And Meg Miroshnik’s play “The Tall Girls,” which makes its East Coast Premiere at Luna Stage this week, dramatizes teenage girls who play basketball in the heart of the Dust Bowl. In the town of Pure Prairie in Miroshnik’s play, basketball is more than a game: it’s an outlet, and an opportunity.

The play begins at Luna Stage, 555 Valley Road, West Orange tonight, Thursday, Oct. 8, and runs through Sunday, Nov. 1. For more information visit Lunastage.org

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an adventure – but at least I’ll be able to catch Game 2 – albeit prone and enthusiastically medicated. (A shout out to the WHYY security guard who had Game 1 on the t.v. screen. As he said, “You’ve got to watch this – it’s the Championship!)

In preparation game:

From Mechelle: A more mature Shenise Johnson makes an immediate impact for Indiana

Indiana guard Shenise Johnson writes poems that are sometimes meant to last and other that are meant to go away shortly after they’re created.

“I like to express myself as an outlet, a stress-reliever. So I’m not punching walls or doing anything like that,” she said, chuckling. “It allows you to evaluate, to write something down and release it.

“Then, it’s over and done with and I can do what I please with it. I can throw it out, burn it, or I could keep it and reread it.”

The .com’s Zavadil notes: Coleman, Zellous, January Share Bond That Began in 2009

Cohesion as a unit is a trait that goes hand-in-hand with a championship-caliber team. For the Indiana Fever, that cohesiveness is evident from Tamika Catchings down to the end of the bench.

But for Briann January, Shavonte Zellous and Marissa Coleman, their friendship extends far longer than just the few seasons they’ve played together. All three were first round draft picks in the 2009 WNBA Draft.

AP Jon Krawczynski says Minnesota Lynx coach calls out stars after losing Game 1 of WNBA Finals

Michelle says coach says, not really:

Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve challenged the notion that she challenged veteran guards Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus after Sunday’s 75-69 Game 1 loss to Indiana in the WNBA Finals.

“I don’t necessarily know that I challenged them,” Reeve said Monday. “I was asked, ‘Do they need to do more?’ and I confirmed what everybody sees, that they need to do more.”

In the moments following Sunday’s loss, Reeve indeed was questioned about the need to get more offensive production from her perimeter players.

The Star Tribune’s Kent Youngblood keeps it simple: Lynx need more from veterans Augustus, Whalen in Game 2

Late Sunday afternoon, after her team had lost Game  1 of the Western Conference finals, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve calmly, publicly, challenged Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus to do more.

Monday, subtly, the narrative had changed.

Reeve did not back down from anything she said, though she characterized her comments as less of a challenge than a simple response to a question of whether she needed more from her guards.

Yes, she does.

But Monday she pledged to do more to help them, particularly Whalen. Reeve suggested part of the problem might be in the way games are being called. 

Mechelle offers: Team chemistry helps carry Indiana Fever, Minnesota Lynx in WNBA Finals

The Minnesota Lynx had a basketball clinic with kids on Monday at Target Center, which was exactly what her team needed, according to guard Maya Moore.

That might seem a bit odd, considering the Lynx were coming off a 75-69 loss to Indiana in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals on Sunday. One might think they would have been too tense to have much patience for the youngsters. However, knowing the personality of the Lynx, it makes more sense that they seemed to enjoy it so much.

In college news:

Nebraska: Theriot, Shepard coming back from injuries together

Rachel Theriot and Jessica Shepard rode their bicycles together one day last week from lunch to the Hendricks Training Complex, where the Nebraska women’s basketball team practices.

That’s been a common scene over the past few months — the Huskers’ senior guard and freshman forward riding together — although it’s usually been on stationary bicycles at the practice gym.

On those bikes were two who could be the Huskers’ best players this season, each trying to stay in shape as they continued their comebacks from major injuries.

Montana: Lady Griz thinking reload, not rebuild

Usually when a coach starts telling you about preseason unknowns, it comes across as a preemptive excuse in case things go awry.

Not Robin Selvig. His Montana women’s basketball team may have lost three key starters from last year’s Big Sky Conference championship crew, but don’t expect him to cry poor.

“There’s lots of opportunity now for someone else to step up,” said Selvig, whose squad will hold its first practice Tuesday. “It’s going to be a different look but it’s fun to see each team take on its own personality. There’s lots of questions and lots of fun things to try and decide.”

Colorado: ‘New feeling in the air’ for Linda Lappe’s Buffs

There is no out of bounds when the Colorado women’s basketball team gets on the practice court.

If there’s a loose ball, the Buffaloes are fighting for it until somebody corrals it. If that battle goes all the way to the seats, so be it. The player who eventually secures the ball is applauded. 

“I feel like there’s just a new feeling in the air,” senior Jamee Swan said Monday after the Buffs completed their first official practice of the 2015-16 season. “Nobody is going to let what happened last year happen again.”

Last season was CU’s worst in the five-year tenure of head coach Linda Lappe, as it finished 15-17 and failed to reach the postseason for the first time under her direction.

Connecticut: UConn Women’s Insider: Geno Auriemma’s Global Reach

Let’s take a moment to chart UConn’s enormous global reach in women’s basketball.

We start in Europe. Who would have guessed Elena Delle Donne’s first chance to help Geno Auriemma win a game would come in Girona, Spain, in 2015?

The USA Basketball Women’s National Team opened its European tour with an 84-52 victory over Uni Girona on Sunday, paced by 21 points from Delle Donne, playing in her first national team game against a Spanish team featuring Connecticut Sun guard Chelsea Gray.

“It was so much fun,” Delle Donne told reporters. “It’s probably the most fun I’ve had playing the game, with all these incredible players elevating everybody’s game.”

Florida: UF women’s basketball focused on improving toughness heading into season

Thanks to some unusual training methods, any school facing the Florida women’s basketball team this season would be wise to think better of starting a scrap with the Gators.

During the offseason, coach Amanda Butler made it a point to get her team out of its comfort zone.

In addition to taking them on a team “attack,” because they “never wanna retreat,” Butler also had the team to take boxing lessons.

“We want to be tough,” she said.

New Mexico: Aggie women look to build on last season

Success came a year early for the New Mexico State women’s basketball.

The Aggies won a Western Athletic Conference championship with a young core group of players that all returned to practice for the 2015-16 season on Sunday.

“You look at my sophomore year and we had the talent but we just all had to grow up and go through those growing pains,” said Aggies senior guard Sasha Weber, who led the Aggies with 14.9 points per game last year and was a first-team All WAC selection.

Kansas: Small communities fostered Sports Hall of Famers’ careers

Shalee Lehning used to joke with her Atlanta Dream teammates when she made it to the WNBA that she used to have to drive 30 miles to the nearest movie theatre while growing up in Sublette.

Some couldn’t imagine what that would be like, but to Lehning, she wouldn’t have had it any other way.

“You understand what matters growing up in a small town,” Lehning said. “Community matters, people matter, relationships matter. Those are things that you’re doing because you’re spending time with people.”

Those small-town qualities were on full display Sunday night at the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony, as 11 former coaches and athletes were inducted at the Scottish Rite Center.

You stay put: Missouri gives Pingeton 5-year contract through 2019-20

Illinois: Hopeful ISU women set to open practice

Slogging through a 2-28 season wasn’t a barrel of laughs for anyone associated with the Illinois State women’s basketball program.

Third-year coach Barb Smith expects the coming season, which begins with the first official practice on Sunday, to be much more enjoyable.

“This season is going to be a lot of fun,” Smith insisted. “We are ahead of where we’ve been since I’ve been here. The players worked extremely hard. The attitude of this team is so good right now, very positive.”

The sting of the worst season in program history was intensified when six players with eligibility remaining left the team shortly after the season. One of those, senior forward Sue Crump, changed her mind and was welcomed back to the roster by Smith.

Pennsylvania: Pitt women not doubting themselves after a tough year to top

Two years after winning just nine games, and in their second season under coach Suzie McConnell-Serio, the Panthers won 20 games and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

By any account, Pitt was and still is ahead of schedule. But entering the 2015-16 season, it’s faced with a critical question: Once you’ve reached a certain height once, can you immediately do it again?

Footnote:

Just proving he’s a moral coward and a tone-deaf professional: Isiah Thomas denies wrongdoing in 2007 sexual harassment case

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Still trying to wrap my head around the Lib’s domination of Indy – mostly centered on the continued revival of Sugar’s game and the, “Wait, has it FINALLY clicked” of Kiah’s offensive game. Folks did a nice job filling the seats the “day after.”

Now it’s time to ponder what Indiana has in store for us today. I have a fondness for the Fever because, well, 1) Catch. ’nuff said 2) the coaching transition Lin and Stephanie have managed – wow, and 3) they keep you honest – smart, determined and fierce, when challenged, the whole group comes after you.

From David Woods at the Indy Star: Fever must defend better to keep season alive

Irrespective of coach or personnel, the Indiana Fever’s WNBA record of 11 successive playoff appearances was built on a foundation of defense. Cracks have been showing in this postseason.

In the past two games against Chicago (.571) and New York (.565), the Fever allowed the second- and third-highest shooting percentages in their postseason history. That can’t persist, or the Fever’s season will end Sunday.

From our AP folks: Tamika Catchings defies odds at 36 for Indiana Fever

Being down is nothing new to the third-seeded Fever. They trailed 1-0 in each of the first two rounds in 2012 and again in the first round this year before beating Chicago 2-1.

“Because we have the mental asset of having players that have been there, done that, going into the second game against Chicago, we were all on the same page,” Catchings said.

From Mechelle: Catchings, Fever need to control the game to stay alive in East finals

Back home at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse, where Indiana went 11-6 during the regular season, the Fever have to play a very different kind of game than they did in the series opener Wednesday. That 84-67 New York victory at Madison Square Garden was a best-of-the-Liberty show, as they dominated offensively from both the perimeter and the paint.

“We talk about controlling the controllables,” Fever coach Stephanie White said after Wednesday’s game. “Our effort, the hustle plays, being there on our rotations, having each other’s backs, box outs, setting great screens, using screens. We didn’t take care of our controllables.

Bill Littlefield, Only A Game (no, that is NOT a photo of the Lib coach) does a little flashback: WNBA’s Liberty Focus On Defense — Not Distractions — During Playoffs

Howard Megdal, who’s been writing about the WNBA this season for VICE Sports, feels people who attribute the Liberty’s recent achievements to Thomas fail to understand who built the team. He credits Basketball Operations Director Kristin Bernert and Coach Bill Laimbeer, who also worked together in Detroit.

“The idea that you need someone to oversee, you know, a couple of people who have had great success and have worked hand-in-glove for the better part of a decade and a half here in the WNBA defies belief,” he said. “Isiah was working hard to just get up to speed on the league.”

As Howard Megdal has noted, Thomas could hardly fail to understand the reaction he provokes in fans, even as the team over which he presides has flourished.

“I mean, there was a remarkable moment. They honored Becky Hammon, the trail-blazer and former Liberty star,” he said. “Isiah, in a very smart PR move, came out with Becky Hammon’s parents. He still got booed just the same, but he had plausible deniability. He could claim that perhaps New York didn’t like Becky Hammon’s parents.”

I wouldn’t mind a three-game series… but I have Joan Armatrading tickets on Tuesday. So… GO, LIB!!!!

The story is not much different in the Land of No Bun. Behind “Beast Brunson” (hmmm, another Georgetown kid – Go, Old Big East!) Minnesota secured a win – though certainly not in the overwhelming manner one has been accustomed to. The surprising Merc have some work to do if they want to play one more. Writes Michelle: 

After dominating Tulsa in two games in a first-round sweep and seemingly scoring at will, Phoenix went cold in Minnesota.

“We have been moving the ball well and putting up a lot of points the last month or so,” Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello said. “Maybe it was the moment, I don’t know. Some of these players haven’t been to the Western Conference Finals before. Minnesota has been there, done that, often. But we will go back to Phoenix and we know we will play better.”

From Tyler Killian: Mercury’s rebounding woes put them on the brink of elimination

Guard/forward DeWanna Bonner: “Man, they killed us on the boards. Brunson, in particular.”

Something else that should be obvious after one game of the Western Conference finals: If the Mercury can’t figure out a way to keep Brunson and the rest of the Lynx from dominating the glass, the issue that has been their biggest weakness of 2015 will be the one that ends up cutting their postseason run short.

Awards: Griner, Loyd, Defensive Team, Quigs and Seattle.

Speaking of Indiana, in other news: Lutterman, Beeler, Owen stood tall among SIAC girls’ coaching pioneers

The times they were a-changin’ in the early 1970s.

Just six days after the Watergate break-in, Title IX — authored by Indiana Senator Birch Bayh — went into effect on June 23, 1972. No longer could anybody in the United States be discriminated against on the basis of sex.

Bayh’s legislation created equal opportunities for women in academics and athletics. Although Indiana was a little behind the times, local pioneers such as Ginger Lutterman, Brenda Beeler and Louise Owen made an indelible mark that still resonates to this day.

This winter will mark the 40th anniversary of the first Indiana High School Athletic Association’s girls’ state basketball tournament.

Swish Appeal on Candice Wiggins: 

If it were your last day on earth, would you be able to say you lived life to the fullest? If you ask Candice Wiggins, she’ll respond with an ardent, “Yes.”

Watching her on the court is almost as entertaining as watching her lift her players up court-side. After Hearing her teammates speak so highly of her throughout the season – even describing her as the anchor of team, I had to find out more.

Who is Candice Wiggins, and does that energy follow her everywhere?

Bye: Brie Mobley done with UNCW basketball program

Bye: Edwards leaving ASU women’s hoops as medical exemption

Ouch: South Carolina’s Tiffany Davis Suffers Knee Injury

From Jennifer Gish, Albany Times: Women hitting athletic director glass ceiling

When I told my 7-year-old son we were going to a college football game the other week, his first question was “Women’s or men’s?”

That proved our time at the women’s tackle football championship game this summer was well spent.

For all the mistakes I’ve made as a mother — like going anywhere when any of us is hungry — I’ve completely scored when it comes to opening my little boy’s eyes to realizing sports isn’t just a man’s game. 

Too bad athletics isn’t quite there yet.

Earlier this month, Juliet Macur had an excellent column for The New York Times about how too few women hold athletic director jobs at Division I colleges. The numbers are around 11 percent for Division I. Things get slightly better at Division II and III schools, and factoring them in, women run the athletic departments at about 20 percent of colleges and universities nationwide. If you’re wondering if this is radical progress over the past 20 years — as girls have crowded tot soccer fields and U.S. women have brought home the World Cup in front of thousands of fans who know their names. In 1995, 16 percent of college athletic directors were women, according to NCAA statistics.

Any Minnesotans got info? 

Dorothy E. McIntyre, co-author of the book, Daughters of the Game – The First Era of Girls High School Basketball, 1891-1942, is seeking information on the 1924-25 Ellendale High School girls’ basketball team, coached by Mr. Bergesen, who also was the school’s principal.

In particular, McIntyre is looking for details on a gold basketball charm presented to Bergesen by the 1924-25 Ellendale boys’ and girls’ basketball teams.

The charm has the initial “E” with red inside, with 24 on the left side and 25 on the right. Below it reads, “Coach Bergesen from Boys and Girls Squads.”

The charm is unique as it was made for the players to give to their coach. The stitching and etching are clear.

What is not clear is where did the players order this charm? Jostens in Owatonna does not believe that their company made such charms in that era. Are there individuals who may have ties to the team? 

Congrats! Girls’ hoop refs to induct Fran Mitilieri in first Hall of Fame class

Speaking of officiating – As Lauren Holtkamp preps for her second season as NBA ref, she talks to Daily News about her path to the pros, Chris Paul and more 

Also speaking of officiating: For my Ohio Buckeye fan, those articles I mentioned.

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After that “instant classic,” the Liberty are in D.C. needing a win over the Mystics to extend their season. From the Suffolk Times: Sugar: An ingredient of success

The mid-season return of veteran guard Epiphanny Prince from overseas has reduced Rodgers’ minutes this year, but the Suffolk standout has been an undeniably significant contributor to the Liberty’s success.

“It’s been great,” Rodgers said. “To be honest, I’ve just been living in the moment. It’s always good to make history at a franchise, because they’ll remember this for a long time. So, like I said, I’ve just been living in the moment, appreciating the fact of just being here, just being thankful.”

From bulletsforever:

1. Knock the Libs out of the gym early 

There’s no need for me to talk about stats on this one. But if the Mystics can overwhelm New York from the start along with hometown support, that could very well be the push needed.

In 2013, the Mystics defeated the Atlanta Dream in Game 1 of their playoff series on the road. That gave fans a lot of optimism for Game 2 at the Verizon Center for an elimination game on September 21, 2013. But they came out totally flat in the first quarter and shot 25 percent from the field en route to a 63-45 loss.

In Tulsa, the short-handed Shock kept it close early, but Phoenix Griner made sure they ended their residency in Tulsa on a loss.

Watching Saturday’s night’s WNBA playoff doubleheader, I couldn’t help but think of the differing fates of two franchises and their cities.

Indiana beat Chicago 89-82 to extend their series to a deciding third game Monday in the Windy City. Tulsa, however, was not able to do the same against Phoenix. The defending champion Mercury won 91-67 and move on to the Western Conference finals, where they await the Minnesota-Los Angeles winner.

Now next season, the Shock will pack up and go to Dallas, or more specifically, Arlington, Texas. You could tell how much the Shock players deeply appreciated the loyal fans who kept showing up at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this season even after they knew the team would be theirs only a little longer.

Catch and her Collaborators were on point during a delightful back-and-forth game against Chicago.

“One of the things you have to continue to do against a team like Chicago is try to keep them off balance because they are so good,” Fever coach Stephanie White said. “They get a bead on you, and they exploit you. I thought our players did a good job of changing defenses and changing schemes, and executing those schemes.”

L.A. will see if they can push Minnesota to a Game Three.

Arena logistics aside, the main challenge for the Sparks will be slowing down Lynx forward Maya Moore, who put up a playoff career-high 33 points to go with five rebounds and four steals in Minnesota’s Game 1 victory. She and guard Seimone Augustus combined to score 50 of the team’s 67 points. Earlier in the week, Ogwumike predicted that the key to the Sparks’ success would be how they responded to Minnesota’s offensive attack.

“Our defense is really what’s going to hold our team together,” she said.

BTW, Mechelle sent out an encouraging tweet:

 16 hours ago:Had good conversation w/ NBA exec re: open letter to Adam Silver. Think we understand where each other is coming from, want best for WNBA.

Conversation! We LIKE conversation! Action is better, though…

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

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

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

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

In other news:

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

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

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

And I felt like giving the crowd a standing ovation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NCAA news:

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

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

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

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

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

Illinois: Chapter not over

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

Fire head football coach Tim Beckman, turn the page.

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

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

Marist: Jarosz back at school, but eligibility unresolved

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who says Madison Square Garden goes dark in the summer?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then, in her senior year, she got pregnant.

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

But it never came to that.

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

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

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

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

Ad on: The Iron Woman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NCAA:

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

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

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

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

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

New Jersey: Life of Nazerah Bugg Remembered through Basketball Tournament

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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W.N.B.A. Star Tamika Catchings Nears End of One Career While Preparing for Another

The list of people who can relate to what comes next for Tamika Catchings, the only player who has been a W.N.B.A. All-Star 10 times, is short.

So as Catchings prepared for a series of lasts — her final All-Star Game on Saturday, her final playoff push with the Indiana Fever this fall, her final Olympics next summer — she turned to another Indiana basketball icon.

“The only person I’ve really talked to about it is Larry Bird,” Catchings said Friday, reflecting on her career. “Because I want to be a G.M. So I wanted to talk to him about the experience, because he got there. He talked about when you’re finished playing, going directly into whatever your next venture is. He took some years off trying to figure out what he wanted to do next. But he said, ‘I wish I would’ve started sooner.’ But he also said he was glad he took some time to figure out what he wanted to do.”

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Quigley, other WNBA players to miss games for Euro tourney

New York’s Epiphanny Prince (Russia), Los Angeles’ Kristi Toliver (Slovakia), Indiana’s Shavonte Zellous (Croatia), Atlanta’s Celine Dumerc (France) and Minnesota’s Anna Cruz (Spain) are among those who will miss WNBA games and face potential fines from their teams or the league.

The winner of the Eurobasket earns a berth in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“Yeah, it would be cool to play in the Olympics,” Quigley said. “We’ll see.”

Speaking of Zellous: Zellous wins arbitration case against Turkish club

From Indy: Miss Basketball. National champion at Purdue. WNBA player. Successful college coach. And now Stephanie White is leading the Indiana Fever.

Nearly every one of Stephanie White’s early coaching stops played out void of fanfare.

They include one season as an assistant for the Ball State University women’s basketball team, the following winter in the same position at Kansas State and two years at the University of Toledo.

Have whistle, will travel.

Congrats! Basketball Star Tamika Catchings Named Latest Laureus Ambassador

From Illinois: Who will step up for Sky if Fowles doesn’t play? and As superstar Sylvia Fowles demands a trade, Sky see no limit in WNBA season

From New York: Wiggins feels sense of purpose with Liberty and Bill Laimbeer: ‘My time has passed’ for NBA job

From Georgia: McCoughtry now ‘living my own life’

If I said this were a story about a WNBA player who talked about doing yoga and feeling refreshed … who said she is learning to appreciate sunsets, cookouts and walks in the park … who uses terms like “relaxed” and “lightness” to describe her current state of mind … whom might you guess it was?

Probably not Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry, right? While being one of the best women’s basketball players in the world the last several years, McCoughtry often has been paired with adjectives like complex, intense, inscrutable, mercurial and moody.

The lights are on Maya Moore. She knows it. Maybe it explains why she speaks in measured and balanced tones when challenging colleagues, reporters, and as usual, herself.

The reigning WNBA Most Valuable Player and dazzling 25-year-old Minnesota Lynx veteran guard wrote an in-depth first-person story for the Players Tribune magazine in April about the lack of visibility for the league, overseas struggles and women’s basketball in general.

In addition to bringing the issues out in the open, Moore offered solutions and suggestions for enhancing the sport during an exclusive discussion with Womhoops Guru (this blog, not the Guru himself) on Wednesday when the Lynx played the Mystics in a preseason game.

A caring, personable ambassador, Moore’s motivation was simple.
From Connecticut: Connecticut Sun’s Alyssa Thomas showing off versatility (Which they’ll need, considering all the injuries they’re having.)
In NCAA news, the transfers have landed.
It’s Villanova for former Vol Jannah Turner.
it’s South Carolina for former Yellow Jacket Kaela Davis.
It’s Texas for former Commodore Khaleann Caron-Goudreau.
It’s Oakland for former Blue Demon ShaKeya Graves.

The Savannah State University football program and women’s basketball program have been ruled ineligible for postseason play because of a failure to meet minimum APR scores, according to the NCAA.

In addition, the SSU women’s softball team is facing level one APR penalties and the men’s and the women’s basketball team is facing level two APR penalties while the football team also faces level three APR penalties.

It’s pretty common to hear that Title IX creates a huge financial burden on colleges such that even if a school is lucky enough to be making millions on football or basketball, federal law mandates that a certain amount be spent on women’s sports. Leaving aside how this story implies schools are being forced to support women’s sports against their will (which I hope isn’t true), it also misses the fact that in some circumstances, women’s sports make money.

Yes, so-called “non-revenue” can be profitable. This isn’t saying they always are, because the conditions need to be right; but when they are, a school that is out of compliance with Title IX because it doesn’t have enough women participants could actually add a sport and increase its net cash in-flow after expenditures. Seems counter-intuitive, right? But it’s true. Come join me on a short, economic journey through arithmetic-land, where the only bias is a strong belief that when facts and common sense collide, facts win.

BTW: Joanne is now only  $265 away from her Kickstarter goal of $2500 to support the publishing of “Finding a Way to Play.” That means if 18 WHB readers give $15, not only will they get a free, autographed copy of the book, but they’ll help her reach her goal.
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Come on, folks – love the game? Love its history. Donate.

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BG and Glory was, “At least the authorities took it seriously.” ’cause like some readers, I had a flashback to Rosalind Ross.

The ESPNers wrote eloquently about the “other” things that came to mind: An espnW email chain about the Brittney Griner arrest

When news broke on Thursday that Brittney Griner and her fiancée, Glory Johnson, had been arrested for a domestic incident, it sparked the following thoughtful exchange among several espnW writers about the various complicated tentacles to the story.

How do you cover such a complex issue — breaking news about domestic violence between two women who are both active athletes, are stars of their respective teams and are engaged to each other?

The headlines also prompted other folks to speak. From Arizona: Alesha Durfee, Associate Professor and Graduate Director of Women and Gender Studies at ASU’s School of Social Transformation, Talks About Domestic Violence Among Women

In other W news:

Sweet turnout for basketball star Stefanie Dolson’s visit home

“It was over the top to get to meet Stefanie,” said Catie O’Connor, a fourth-grader at Goshen Intermediate School. “She was so nice. It was really special, it was awesome. It means the world to me. I really look up to her. I’m very excited.”

Dolson, a Minisink Valley graduate who won two national championships at the University of Connecticut and now plays for the Washington Mystics in the WNBA, spent more than two hours meeting with fans at Family Farm. At one point, a long line formed outside the building. According to Family Farm co-owner Jean Halahan, about 500 people showed up to meet the personable Dolson.

Post Draft News:
Liberty makes superb additions on WNBA Draft Day

It was supposed to be an unremarkable draft for the New York Liberty, which traded its first-round pick to the Connecticut Sun in last year’s deal for center Tina Charles, but coach Bill Laimbeer had some surprises. The Liberty traded guard-forward Alex Montgomery to the San Antonio Stars for the ninth pick, with which they chose Brittany Boyd, a tenacious point guard from the University of California who modeled her game after Cappie Pondexter.

Boyd, who played in the 2013 Maggie Dixon Classic in Madison Square Garden, said she loved the energy of the arena. If called upon, she’s ready to be the Liberty’s floor general.


Pitt’s Brianna Kiesel ready for her journey in WNBA

Welch Prepares for Transition to WNBA After a stellar career as a team leader for the Gamecocks

Blake Dietrick, Wellesley native, takes shot at WNBA

Butler High grad Cierra Burdick’s WNBA dream comes true

A little podcast: Dishin & Swishin 4/23/15 Podcast: Stephanie White takes the helm in Indiana, previews the season

WATN? Ticha Penicheiro: Former NBA and WNBA greats put on clinic for Cuban basketball players

and WNBA legend Ruth Riley looking to leave positive impact on Filipino kids.

Ruth also had something to say about how “bad” Connecticut is for the game: UConn raises women’s basketball in US, says former WNBA star

For former WNBA star Ruth Riley, the dominance of University of Connecticut in women’s college basketball does not present a problem.

It’s the catalyst that should raise the bar for the sport in the United States.

“You respect your opponent and you respect the fact that you know it’s an incredible program,” Riley, who won Olympic Gold in the Athens Games in 2004, said Thursday afternoon at Marriott Hotel.

Another WATN? Former Tech and WNBA player Alicia Thompson to be named Lubbock High’s girls basketball coach

On the college front, some disconcerting news, but not totally surprising if you’ve read some of the surrounding area’s message boards:

From a mother’s perspective: The WSU women’s basketball allegations

Former Wichita State players and parents are speaking out about the allegations that Coach Jody Adams and her coaching staff have mentally and verbally abused players in the program. The mother of a former player that transferred said these allegations are nothing new.

She also said that what brings it to life now is the fact that there are four transfers and two of them are starters.

“We’ve voiced concerns for a while now. There have been groups of players that have gone in together. I know several parents that have written letters and have had meetings.”


Eric Sexton issues statement on Jody Adams allegations

Former WSU players speak out on abuse allegations

Former players talk about allegations against WSU women’s basketball – KSN-TV

More Chiney! My Message To My Younger Self (UNFILTERED | CHINEY OGWUMIKE #3)

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you’ll find this:

Kent:

In retrospect, it was a bomb that reverberated all through a suddenly loud US Airways Center.

It was as improbable as it was incredible. And, maybe, it was the key blow in a game that, up to that point, had been a gutty example of give and take.

For at least this season, the Lynx’s reign is over, thanks to the Phoenix Mercury in a 96-78 victory Tuesday.

Tyler: 

“What can I say? There’s no player I’d rather have on my team,” Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said.

“To me, she’s the best player in the world.”

Mechelle: 

But those 2 seconds turned out to be too much time to give Taurasi. She swished the 50-footer, turning the Mercury’s lead to five points and permanently shifting the momentum.

“It’s a punch,” Minnesota’s Maya Moore acknowledged of Taurasi’s tape-measure 3-pointer. “We’ve overcome so much this season, and we always believe we have it in us to overcome runs. But we just didn’t have enough this time.”

Next!

From the .com: Fever vs. Sky: How to Survive the Eastern Conference Finals

After Chicago completed yet another incredible comeback in double-overtime on Monday to stay alive in the WNBA Playoffs, there’s no doubt this Sky is team is one that knows how to survive despite the myriad of injuries and illnesses it suffered throughout the season. In order to win the WNBA Eastern Conference Finals, however, just “surviving” might not be enough.

The Fever are a tough and driven team that appears to be in fine health. The team boasts a legendary leader in Tamika Catchings and her army of heavy-hitting teammates like Shavonte Zellous, Erlana Larkins and Briann January.

Here are the keys for both teams to survive and advance:

Alison: All on the line for the Chicago Sky, Elena Delle Donne

Michelle: Can Fowles lead Sky to Finals?  With Elena Delle Donne nursing back injury, Chicago’s center is Game 3 X factor

If the Sky can get from “Big Syl” what they got on Monday — a near flawless offensive game and shot-altering defense at the other end — Chicago could very well be making its first trip to the league championship series.

But if the Fever can contain Fowles better than they did in Game 2, knock her around, move her out of the deepest regions of the paint and render her even slightly less effective, they stand a good chance to move on to their second trip to the WNBA Finals in the past three years.

Scott: Indiana Fever ready for Chicago Sky in conference finals

“I think everybody wants to win for Lin. She has been just such an amazing inspiration to everybody that has played for her, everyone who has worked for her, and so we certainly want to send her out on top,” said White.

Phillip:

They are one win away from the WNBA finals, a position few Sky players expected to be in after a season filled with a litany of misfortune, a losing record and fourth-place finish.

“We all feel like we’ve got nothing to lose,” Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot said before Wednesday’s decisive game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Fever.

Phillip #2: Delle Donne’s back latest woe for Sky

Realizing her own limitations, Delle Donne suggested coach Pokey Chatman make her primarily a decoy, sometimes a stationary one, during her 39 minutes of playing time.

The second-year forward correctly figured the Fever would still respect her scoring threat by putting more than one defender on her and by forcing their best defender, Tamika Catchings, to stick with her outside, thereby opening space for other Sky players on offense.

David: Undersized but not overlooked, 6-1 Erlana Larkins vs. 6-6 Sylvia Fowles is key matchup

Erlana Larkins is five inches shorter than Sylvia Fowles and owns a correspondingly smaller resume. But the 6-1 Indiana Fever center, who was out of the WNBA 30 months ago, finds consolation when she reflects on her career.

“I’m not an All-Star,” Larkins said, “but I have something they can’t take away from me, and that’s a championship ring.”

Scott:

Heading into this 2014 WNBA season, the Indiana Fever weren’t expected to rule the Eastern Conference. I thought there was a high probably that they might make some considerable changes. The future appeared to be the vision rather than the present as the team drafted Natalie Achonwa, who would miss the season after tearing her left ACL while at Notre Dame, at No. 9 – their second first-round pick.

Oh, and a few weeks later, sharpshooter Jeanette Pohlen sustained a torn left Achilles. Then, a back injury sidelined leader Tamika Catchings for a substantial part of the shortened season (18 games).

A rebuilding year? Definitely not.

 

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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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“Well, that was a lovely, tight start to the playoffs!”

Ageless wonder Catch rules.

There are so many things you can point to that have made Indiana’s Tamika Catchings such a great player for so long. But two of the so-called “fundamentals” of basketball have been huge keys to Catchings’ success and have frustrated the heck out of her opponents.

Catchings is a very good free throw shooter during the regular season, and she has been even a little bit better during the playoffs. Also, she’s a rebounder who just never quits.

For a player who is typically at her best when aggressively going to the rim, the ability to come up big at the line is such a valuable skill. That proved to be the case once again Thursday as the WNBA playoffs got under way with Indiana’s 78-73 victory over Washington in the Eastern Conference semifinals at Indianapolis.

And rules again.

A smidge younger wonder Dee rules.

Predicting that the Phoenix Mercury would sweep the L.A. Sparks in the first round of the 2014 WNBA Playoffs actually had little to do with a significant “talent” differential – team composition, maybe, but the Sparks are hardly lacking talent.

This matchup has always been about intangibles – for the entirety of the regular season and during last year’s meeting in the first round. And it’s ultimately what tonight’s 75-72 loss to the Mercury came down to, just as predicted by Sparks coach Penny Toler in a preview of tonight’s game by L.A. Times reporter Samantha Zuba:

And that youngest wonder, Maya rules, too. (But let’s not forget Augustus, shall we?)

Damn, if EDD at half-strength isn’t twice the player most are.

Friday, the Chicago Sky got the franchise’s first WNBA playoff victory. It took nine seasons to happen, and none of the Sky players have waited for this as long as Sylvia Fowles and Tamera Young have.

And on a night when Chicago had to do the same thing this team has done virtually all season — overcome the loss of a player — the two “senior” Sky players were critical factors.

And… Annie, if your play-by-play guy can’t be bothered to learn how to pronounce the names of the players on the court, I give you permission to slap him upside the head.

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So, today is coach Lin Dunn’s last regular season WNBA game. She and her team worked their butts off to make sure it was not her LAST game in the W. Congrats to her, her staff, the players that stepped up, the rehab folks that kept Catch on the right track, and Tamika Catchings, for making the best of a short season.

Speaking of “on the right track”: Cancer didn’t slow Michael Cooper

Rest up, y’all. Those left standing are about ready to rumble.

Yes, C.O is the favorite for ROY, but what about O.S? Examining the case for Odyssey Sims as Rookie of the Year

As you’re waiting, have you caught up on all the 9 for IX films?

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Minnesota and Phoenix play it smart and sit folks the last few games which, to a degree, supported San Antonio and Los Angeles‘ entrance to the playoffs. So, it’s not quite good-bye for Becky:

In the East, Indiana and Washington took fate into their own hands and won when they had to, eliminating New York.

Now everybody gets to take a breath, take a nap, take an ice bath and see what they’ve learned about themselves and the opposition over the season. Here’s to healthy players (and coaches) and “the best ofs” going the distance.

With the playoffs looming its award time. espnW has their WNBA First Team. Hmm… four of the five are Old Big Easties. Thanks, football!

But honestly, basketball, shmastical – congrats to Brittney and Glory. Staking a claim to love, and putting a stake in bigotry.

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besides my to do lists for work….

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And not just because it’s my mom’s 81st.

It’s when Phoenix and Minnesota meet at the Target Center. (And NO, it is not on national TV. Anyone got any pull?). If anyone’s going to derail the Merc’s march to a new WNBA win-streak record, it’ll be the Lynx. Both have leaders drawn from a UConn program that knows records are nice, but it’s winning the final game that earns you the prize.

Maya may be on the road to MVP but, more importantly, she’s gettin’ her posse back. Augustus is back and Brunson is right behind her. Finally, the Lynx *knock wood* are fully healthy for first time all season.

Five of Moore’s WNBA-record 10 30-point outings have come with Augustus out of the lineup.

That’s a double-sided paradigm. Augustus’ absence affords Moore more touches. But it also allows defenses to double-team her more often.

“I think it’s the same for both of them,” Reeve said. “‘Mone can benefit a lot from Maya playing as great as she is. Nothing’s easy for them.”

Brunson’s return offers similar avail in the post. No longer is Janel McCarville primarily responsible for clearing out the lane and tearing down rebounds — both Brunson specialties. Brunson’s post-up abilities also allow Reeve to make full use of her offense, which features a lot of high-motion facilitation from McCarville.

They’ll meet a Merc team that seems to be clicking on multiple cylinders. As the .com’s Kate Bennert notes, Griner is stronger, Diana is leading, and Brondello’s influence is a cypher.

It will be great to see these two teams go at each other, but it’s not just a record on the line, it’s home court and the top seed in the West. I’m not sure if San Antonio or LA should be considered legitimate threats, but both teams have the talent capable of upsetting the favorite. It would be a toss up of who I’d rather face — probably L.A., ’cause Dan Hughes has proven he can coach you right into the loser’s locker room.

Looking at the standings in the East reminds me of the bad old days – 5 of the 6 teams under .500. The East is easily dismissed because it still looks like no one wants the number one spot. The Dream were flying, but have suddenly hit a three-game losing streak (was Coach Cooper that important? Get well fast, sir!)?

No, I’m not counting Seattle out (and hoping Sue Bird is back in), but it’s been a tough season for the Storm – even with triple-doubles.

Will Chicago, with two of it’s big four back healthy (and MIP candidate Quigley) figure out their internal puzzles and be all that they can be? Is the return of Delle Donne on the horizon? Not as optimistic about Vandersloot, though.

Ooooh, look. There are the Mystics – as Stef Dolson, Bria Hartley Continue Smooth Transition To WNBA

Aside from her new swash of purple hair, a look she began to percolate as soon as her UConn career was over, nothing seems particularly different about Stefanie Dolson.

“If you want to know the truth, that [the new hair color] may be the most fun of all this season,” Dolson said. “A conversation starter? Yes.”

Indiana’s keepin’ it together. And Lin’s savoring her “farewell tour.”

Connecticut and New York (not my curse) are fighting not to drown in the basement. The Sun will be cheering against the Lib (whose final games  all East teams, except Phx) because it’ll mean a nice draft pick.

Boy, the off-season coaching carousel ought to be interesting….

Before we get there, Nate has some WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year candidates: Searching for a diamond in the rough

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The semi-final game will be broadcast on ESPN U and streamed.

The team got there by defeating USA U17 Women Defeat Canada, 86-45.

“I think the score was not indicative of how tough the game started,” said USA head coach Sue Phillips (Archbishop Mitty H.S./San Jose Cagers AAU, Calif.). “ I really thought that we stifled each other on the offensive side of the ball, and both teams struggled to score. That was familiarity, and that was well coached-basketball. Both teams were familiar with the scouting report. I think our depth and energy and intensity on the defensive side of the ball really helped spark us to create a lead.”

The winner will meet the winner of the earlier game between Spain and Czech Republic.

Great news: Tamika Catchings returns, hopes to help Fever down the stretch

With no Tamika Catchings and six newcomers, the Indiana Fever could have been thinking about 2015 midway through the 2014 season.

Instead, Catchings is returning from a back injury, and the Fever are poised to make a playoff push in a less-than-formidable Eastern Conference. The 2011 MVP and three-time Olympic gold medalist makes her season debut in Saturday’s 5 p.m. game against the San Antonio Stars at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

In other good news: From Jenni Carlson at The Oklahoman: How a season with ‘Coach C’ helped spark former Oklahoma star Courtney Paris’ breakout WNBA season

Last summer, Paris signed with Mersin, a team in the Turkish Basketball League. She had played in the league the two previous seasons and done well, averaging a double-double, so she was a known and sought-after commodity.

When she arrived in the city of nearly a million and met her new coach, though, she didn’t feel all that loved. Ceyhun Yildizoglu pushed and prodded, harassed and hounded. The man who also coaches Turkey’s national team wanted everything done the right way every time.

In more happy news: Jayco Opal Penny Taylor returning to her best in WNBA

It has been a horror run of injuries for the 2006 FIBA World Championship for Women MVP since she first suffered a tear of her anterior cruciate ligament prior to the 2012 London Olympic Games, but over the past three games we have seen Taylor return to her free-scoring best.

After having her minutes monitored through the first 11 games of the WNBA season, the Mercury’s Australian Head Coach Sandy Brondello took the shackles off the 33-year-old and has seen some impressive numbers since.

Happy, as in ka-ching, news: WNBA Cashing In With Pro-LGBT Campaign

Griffin is the author of Strong Women, Deep Closets: Lesbians and Homophobia in Sport.She says the WNBA’s campaign is a good start, but it should have come a lot sooner.“You have to look at the WNBA in the context of sexism in sport as well as homophobia in sport because all women’s sports leagues really have to struggle for their share of the media attention,” she said. “It’s been very challenging for them to take on anything that they perceive as potentially controversial, that might affect the bottom line.”

Griffin says the league is finally feeling comfortable enough to “cash in” on larger changes in society regarding marriage equality and civil rights. And cashing in is exactly what the league is doing.

Happy, as in taking action: From Chicago’s Daily Herald: WNBA’s Griner takes on bullying in a big way

Griner has written “In My Skin,” a book about her life that chronicles her struggles growing up gay, and she is in the process of creating an anti-bullying smartphone application. Griner says she was bullied and picked on relentlessly as a child for being different.

The app, which will be called BG: BU, is a resource for kids who are being bullied. It’s also helpful for their parents and teachers.

“I definitely got bullied as a kid and teased, and I didn’t really have an outlet or a resource that I could reach out to in order to get the proper help that I needed,” Griner said. “I don’t want any kid to go through the same problems and the same obstacles that I went through. I want to give kids and parents a safe zone to get help.”

Nice: ‘We Stand For Women’–The WNBA and My Daughter by Jason Greene:

Watching sports with my daughter is different than watching sports with my son. I admit that it shouldn’t be, but it is.

With my son, we get caught up in the excitement of the game, root for our favorites and cheer at the opposing team’s failures. With my daughter, though, somehow I get caught up in giving her a history lesson on women’s sports and trying to convince her that she needs to work harder in every area of her life.

Why? Because the inequalities between the genders are glaring when viewed through the sports lens.

This is what happens when I say nice things about a team? Losing record and now, says George Albano, there looms a Critical stretch ahead for Sun

The Sun have certainly been one of the surprise teams the first half of the season, winning eight of their first 14 games after posting a league-worst 10 victories a year ago.

At the same time, they’ve also been one of the harder teams to figure out. They started the season 1-5, which can be attributed to a virtually new roster getting acclimated with one another. Then the Sun won seven of their next eight games, a sign they were starting to find some team chemistry.

But after six straight wins, which gave them an 8-6 record and catapulted them into second place in the Eastern Conference, Connecticut has lost four straight.

In not-so-happy news, Texas Tech guard Amber Battle has been suspended for a month after admitting to having “initiated the first contact” with the now dismissed TT football player Nigel Bethel.

“Nothing I can say can truly repair the harm I have already caused. I did not represent the Double T like I am supposed to and I promise to hold myself to a higher standard from here on.”

Again, I point out that “Texas Tech Athletics does not tolerate violence against women.” Greatly appreciated. Even more appreciated would be: “Texas Tech Athletics does not tolerate violence against people.”

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say it.”

Might be the new WHB tagline. Ah, well – sorry Skylar and Anne.

And just to keep everyone honest — how friggin’ resilient are Chicago (hello, Jamierra Faulkner!) (over LA) and Indiana (over Atlanta IN Atlanta)? (and how disappointing is LA?)

Yea! Penny!

Ouch! Seimone!

Bell Fuller at Full Court sets up your weekend: WNBA Big Games, Big News: Fireworks on tap in two July 4 weekend matchups

Along with the Fourth of the July holiday will come some top-flight action in the WNBA this week. Here are two of the games to add to your “must-watch” list; unfortunately, neither game is scheduled to be televised outside the local markets, but both will be available via the WNBA’s Live Access.

In other news:

Women’s Basketball Committee seeks cost savings for championship

The Division I Women’s Basketball Committee is exploring ways to reduce championship expenses while continuing to protect the student-athlete experience.

Yup, it’s official: OSU women’s basketball: Khadidja Toure transfers to East Carolina and Duke women’s basketball point guard Jones to transfer

This will be a fun something to attend before flying out to Istanbul: Team USA To Face Canada At Webster Bank Arena Sept. 15

Speaking of USA Basketball, the U17’s have been kicking butt:

Games are being streamed through YouTube.

The WBCA has a new boss: Danielle Donehew Leaving AAC To Take Over WBCA and a new “status.”

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Frozen Flash Mob Style

Oh, oh – Philly folks get called out…and call out The Guru!! (and stay for the outtakes!)

No matter how often you see it, it’s still BLOODY cold!

Oh, oh, WNBAers – Lin Dunn and the Fever is coming after you!!!!

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Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2014: Lin Dunn played “like a guy,” built legacy for women’s game

Trace your finger down Lin Dunn’s resume, and the legacy that earned her a place in the 2014 Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame is quickly revealed.

Drawing on a potent combination of humor, energy, advocacy, vision and straight up orneriness, she created women’s basketball programs at Austin Peay State University (1970-77), University of Mississippi (1977-78) and Miami University (1978-87). She coached at Purdue for nine years (1987-96), where she collected three Big 10 conference titles, made seven NCAA tournament appearances, four Sweet Sixteen appearances, and a trip to the Final Four in 1994. In 1997 she transitioned to the professional game, earning Coach of Year honors in her first and only year in the ABL (1998). In 1999, she spearheaded the establishment the new WNBA Seattle Storm franchise, serving as coach and general manager for the team’s first three years. She joined the Indiana Fever staff in 2004 as an assistant. Named head coach for the 2008 season, Dunn led the Fever to the WNBA championship in 2012.

For all that, one has to wonder what might have happened had she been born decade later.

“To be honest with you,” said Dunn, “I was probably was a better player than I am a coach.”

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I don’t really pay the WNBA pre-season much mind since folks are still abroad and the games are full of names we won’t hear come opening night.

But, this totally stinks: Jeanette Pohlen to Miss 2014 WNBA Season with Torn Achilles Tendon

Hope springs eternal: Revamped Sun, Hoping to Put 2013 Behind, Prepare For Liberty Exhibition

Video: Beyond the Beat – Donovan and Chiney

Noise maker: Follow the leader: Lynx’s Moore becoming more vocal

Video: Old Friends, Together Again (Hartley/Dolson)

The Bun is back in the Land of the Sun and  Training Camp: The “Most Aggressive Thing”

Every team constantly works on their defense throughout the year.

The difference, however, is how they do so.

In Sandy Brondello’s system, working on defense begins with the absolute smallest of details. From the angle the players have their feet planted to how to properly work around pick-and-rolls from various locations on the floor, Brondello wants the Mercury to be aggressive (but smart) on the defensive end.

In Atlanta, it’s Shoni time!

Soon after the Atlanta Dream selected Shoni Schimmel with the No. 8 overall pick in the WNBA draft, coach

Michael Cooper had a conversation with his new guard.

“This is where you’re going to be ‘Showtime’ Schimmel,” Cooper said.

In college news, Kelly’s back! Purdue Women’s Basketball Adds Komara to Women’s Basketball Staff

Good news: UNC women’s basketball coach Hatchell completes treatment

History on display: Beaded dress from Fort Shaw Indian women’s basketball team unveiled at UM

The blue-beaded ceremonial dress has spent the past century in Beverly Braig’s home, reminding her of the woman who wore it during halftime fundraisers at the turn of the 20th century.

While Braig never met her basketball-playing grandmother, Emma Sansaver, her beaded dress has become something of a legend, remembering one of Montana’s greatest athletic achievements and moments of human triumph.

“She was on the world championship Indian women’s basketball team at Fort Shaw that played in the St. Louis World’s Fair,” Braig said. “My hope is that Emma’s dress will cause a conversation that will be a positive influence on Native students, especially women.

And, what! You’ve not read Full Court Quest. For shaaaaaame!

Clay Evans at the Daily Camera writes: What it’s like to be a gay athlete in Boulder

Read literally, some well-known passages in both the Hebrew Bible and New Testament condemn homosexuality (though the Gospel accounts ignore the issue entirely and, curiously, female homosexuality goes unmentioned.) And certainly, homosexuals have been persecuted throughout history (with exceptions; men and boys had sexual relationships in ancient Greece, for example).

But in proportion to other admonitions and calls to action — think, “Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself” — the issue doesn’t seem have the scaffolding to bear the hefty political and religious weight it has assumed in America. That is, no doubt, partly a continuing conservative reaction against changes wrought in the libertine 1960s, and as any minority presses forward, opposition will always rise.

It’s difficult not to think about that larger picture when reading former CU women’s basketball player Kate Fagan’s fast-paced new memoir, “The Reappearing Act: Coming Out as Gay on a College Basketball Team Led by Born-Again Christians.”

What? You’ve not read “The Reappearing Act: Coming Out as Gay on a College Basketball Team Led by Born-Again Christians.” Look deep into my disapproving eyes!

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ever since Thursday, I’ve had Tom Jones/Art of Noise running through my head

Anyhoo, games today. We’ll see if the Merc can recover from getting M(oore)A(ugustus)W(halen)led again and if Indy can head off Hayes and clip Angel.

Meanwhile: WNBA Captures Fans, Ends Regular Season With Record Growth and Viva, Las Vegas!

BTW – I got 139 folks to join me for the Maggie Dixon Classic. Who’s coming with me to Istanbul?

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Could we please have two great games? (Next, I’m going to ask for four extra hours in the day so I can catch up with my work work so I can have more time for my basketball work….)

From Mechelle: Spot in WNBA Finals up for grabs – Lynx still considered favorite, but talent-laden conference finals await

The WNBA’s MVP award winner, Candace Parker, and rookie of the year, Elena Delle Donne, already have been eliminated from the WNBA playoffs. Which leaves us left in this postseason with …

Gee, at least four players who all could have been the 2013 MVP. And the rookie who was picked No. 1 in April’s draft. In other words, the WNBA conference finals, which begin Thursday night, are not lacking for star power. They are saturated with it.

“I love the fact that it’s not always a shoo-in for the team that’s got the MVP to win the championship,” Minnesota’s Maya Moore said. “I think that just speaks to the level of the WNBA and the talent that we have. The great quality of teams, the fight of the teams, and the big plays that people make to try to propel their team to a championship.”

This, in fact, will be the third year in a row the league’s regular-season MVP won’t even be in the WNBA Finals.

From Lee: Coaches, players size up the Eastern Conference Final

Lin Dunn, head coach of the reigning WNBA champion Indiana Fever, Fever forward and 2011 WNBA MVP Tamika Catchings, and the Atlanta Dream’s Angel McCoughtry, the league’s leading scorer this season, took time out from practice Wednesday for a media teleconference to share their thoughts on their upcoming Eastern Conference Finals series, which tips off today in Atlanta’s Phillips Arena at 7 p.m. EDT, airing on ESPN2. ESPN analysts Carolyn Peck and LaChina Robinson also weighed in. Here are some highlights from what they had to say. Click here for Full Court’s detailed preview of the Fever-Dream Eastern Conference Final.

Mechelle also previews Atlanta v. Indiana: Defense on stars is key in East

From Nate: Atlanta Dream, Indiana Fever meet in Eastern Conference Finals again

James notes: The Atlanta Dream still nursing injuries as they head into the Eastern Conference Finals

In a similar theme, Bob ponders: East finals: Which decimated roster will survive one more round?

Mark Ambrogi says Indiana Fever relish underdog role as Eastern Conference finals begin in Atlanta

Michelle writes: Mercury try to turn tables on Lynx

Nate asks: How can the Phoenix Mercury stop the Minnesota Lynx?

From Odeen: Phoenix Mercury look to break Minnesota Lynx’s recent mastery

WCCO: Lynx Welcome The Newly Renovated Phoenix Mercury Squad

Clay asks:Will the Minnesota machine stay in high gear?

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