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Almost.

My brain moved my flight up 36 hours. Luckily I looked at my reservation and went, “Hey, I’m not leaving until Sunday night!” That’s what comes of purchasing a ticket months ago. It also means I can go in to the office Saturday and finish up some final bits of business instead of staying there deep into the night….

Brittney didn’t miss her flight, and Geno seems wicked happy.

“I was worried,” Griner admitted. “I was worried about my eye, honestly. I had a teammate lose her eyesight playing basketball in college, so that was always in the back of my mind. I wanted to make sure my eye was okay, and also, I wanted to play with USA Basketball. So, it would have sucked bad to get bad news twice. When I heard that I was able to come play, I hopped on a plane, came in and started practicing.”

Speaking of wicked happy, if you can’t fly to Turkey for the FIBA World Championship (notice the singular – thanks CW), you’re in luck: the games are being broadcast and, because the US is the featured game (often 9:3opm) the time difference works in your favor. Tomorrow, for instance, USA faces China at 2:30 p.m. EDT.

All games will be carried by NBA TV and ESPN3/Watch ESPNThe gold medal game, regardless of who advances, will air on ESPN2 at 11am PT on Oct. 5. If you don’t have NBA TV, the Watch ESPN app or ESPN via your computer, you can pay a $10 subscription to watch the full tournament on LiveBasketball.TV. Or/And use the hashtag #Turkey2014 on Twitter to get updates and commentary about the competition.

From Geno: Are you happy to finally get the games started tomorrow?

I am. I think the first one is always the most difficult. You’re not quite sure what you’re going to get. You want to obviously get off to a great start and set the tone for the way the tournament’s going to go. In this case, too, we’re anxious to see how Brittney’s going to fit in. We haven’t played a game with her yet. We’ve had two practices with her. I guess by USA Basketball standards, that’s a long time. But I think that all the players and I’ve noticed in the past two days in practice that there’s a sharper focus. Now that we’re here, it’s right there in front of us. So, we’re pretty excited about it.

Thanks to the AP, Doug is in Turkey to cover the game. Support him and click through and read the full story: US women set to defend hoop title at world tourney

The U.S. has only lost once at the worlds since 1998, but suffered a rare defeat in an exhibition game against France last weekend.

That setback raised a few eyebrows heading into the tournament, which begins Saturday in Istanbul.

“There are a lot of really good teams in the tournament and we’re one of them,” said coach Geno Auriemma “For us or anyone else to think we’re anything more than that is not being really objective about this whole thing.”

I don’t know if anyone from ESPN is in Turkey, but Lee from Full Court is: 2014 Women’s World Championship officially opens in Istanbul

“The country should be very proud of the success achieved by the women’s national team,” added Elphinston. “They performed very well at the 2012 London Olympics, as well as at the European level, and most recently also at the youth level. This is an example of what hard work combined with strong government and commercial support can do to take the sport to the next level.”

In Istanbul or not, Mechelle can still write: Team USA ready to take on the world

Those involved with USA Basketball tend to lament the lack of time that the American team gets to spend together preparing for major events, especially compared to most other nations.

But one of the things that’s interesting about the 2014 version that starts play in the 2014 FIBA World Championship on Saturday in Turkey (ESPN3, 2:30 p.m. ET) is how much familiarity actually is a part of this squad — at least pods of familiarity.

NBC OlympicTalk (?!?!)’s Nick Zaccardi is Analyzing the U.S. women’s basketball roster for World Championships

Oh, Canada: Canadian women’s basketball team set for FIBA world championship – At familiar grounds in Turkey, the Canadian women’s basketball team appears poised for success ahead of the biggest stage in the sport.

The vivid recollections washed over them and the wonderful moments became fresh in their minds as members of the Canadian women’s basketball team walked in the Ankara Arena in Turkey for practice Wednesday afternoon.

For the majority of the 12-woman team, recalling the last time they’d played a significant game on the court was enough to buoy their confidence going into the world championship that begins Saturday morning.

More Canada: Special times for the Nurse family

This has to be such an exciting time for the Nurse family.

Not only is UConn freshman Kia Nurse preparing to play for Canada in the FIBA World Championship for Women which starts on Saturday, but her older brother Darnell is making a serious push at making the opening-night roster for the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers.

So who’s the competition? WNBAlien Richard meets Dishin’ & Swishin’ Dave. Richard knows his international basketball players.

You’ll know some of them, too: 35 Current and Former WNBA Players to Compete in 2014 FIBA World Championship

From FIBA: Global celebration of women’s basketball officially open

“This tournament is about a lot more than Turkey. It is about continuing the emergence of basketball across the globe, in all five continents.

“Hosting this Championship is part of a journey that began over 20 years ago, when we set out to become a leading basketball nation and that meant doing so both in men’s and women’s basketball. The great sporting results we have achieved in recent years are a proof of this.”

Also from FIBA: USA the team to beat as 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women set to tip off Saturday

Mechelle and Graham argue about who’s the most important player on the National Team.

Brittney Griner is a presence unlike any other available to Team USA. Or available to the rest of the world, for that matter.

The opportunity in front of her is unlike that in front of any other player on the American roster.

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I voted for Minnesota’s Maya Moore as the WNBA’s MVP this season, and had no qualms about that. But we saw that the MVP for the playoffs was Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi, and I think that status will continue into the upcoming world championship.

I’d say “Ignore Angel at your peril:” Talking Turkey With Olympic Champion Angel McCoughtry

Earlier this month Angel McCoughtry was practicing with her USA Basketball teammates in Annapolis, Maryland, not far from her hometown of Baltimore.

Now she is prepping her teammates for her second home of Istanbul, Turkey. 

McCoughtry, a 6-foot-1 forward who helped Team USA to gold medals at the 2010 FIBA World Championship for Women and the London 2012 Olympic Games, plays professionally for Fenerbahҫe in Istanbul. The upcoming FIBA World Championship for Women, set for Sept. 27-Oct. 5, will be played in Turkey with the gold-medal game being held in the same arena where McCoughtry plays with her pro team. 

“The people there love basketball, both for the men and the women,” McCoughtry said. “And I’m so excited to show my teammates around Turkey

Sue says : “The five that start on the bench could be the starters”

LH : What’s the strength of this team ? Your physicality ?

SB : Well, you know, we have a lot of strengths, we are very lucky ! One that is think is huge, and will help us in a tournament like the World Cup where we have 3 games in a row then a little bit of a break before three other games in a row, is our depth. We are not going to rely on 6-7 players, like some countries do. We have a very talented team. The five that start on the bench could be the starters, easily. Like I said, I think that is probably our biggest advantage. Then, yes, of course, we have some very talented players.

Espana: Laia Palau : “Sancho Lyttle represents more than half of this team’s strength”

Ladyhoop : You lost one of your team’s important figures in Amaya Valdemoro, who retired.

L.P. : Indeed ! She did great things for us and we are going to miss her but we have to look forward. We gave the ball to other players, like Alba or Xargay. The youngsters are playing very well, furthermore. This year, we got Ann Cruz, coming from the WNBA. We have young players with a lot of experience.

The Opals say: “We’re not fazed by loss of Lauren Jackson and Liz Cambage

While Joyce stressed only a team effort would cover the losses, he singled out veteran Penny Taylor as a figure capable of inspiring the team.

Taylor, 33, will captain the Opals in Turkey after fighting her way back from two injury-plagued seasons.

“Penny has the ability to raise the standard in others and that’s what leadership is from my point of view,” Joyce said of Taylor, who this month won a WNBA title with Phoenix.

“We certainly need that right now with everything that’s happened.”

And let’s not forget they have Mini Mi! Leilani Mitchell : “We played our first three games together here in Paris”

I’m waiting for something new from Paul Nilsen, but until it arrives, you’ll just have to settle for this piece from May pondering, Who will be the center of attention in Turkey?

Kevin Tresolini hits the big time as his piece on EDD lands in USAToday: Elena Delle Donne hopes home cooking will be the cure

A basketball season undermined by illness and injury is over sooner than Elena Delle Donne would have preferred.

The U.S. begins play in the FIBA World Championships on Saturday in Turkey. But Delle Donne is not on its 12-woman roster because of a bulging disk in her lower back.

Still, the former Ursuline Academy and University of Delaware All-American, less than two weeks removed from the Chicago Sky being swept in the WNBA Finals, has already made progress toward recovery.

And 2016, with the Summer Olympics positioned on the August calendar, remains firmly in her sights as well.

In other news:

Nate is keeping busy: 2014 WNBA rookies who deserve All-Rookie honorable mentions

As the 2014-15 NCAA season approaches, we’ll begin breaking down the top prospects for the 2015 WNBA Draft in the next few days. But before moving on completely to next year, it helps to take stock of how the 2014 rookie class performed beyond those who got All-Rookie recognition.

Sorry haters, it doesn’t look like the 18-year-old WNBA is going to collapse just yet: High quality competition boosts WNBA, fans

Across many regions including these Twin Cities, the WNBA is establishing a root that is growing. 

As proof, look no further than the exciting three-game Western Conference Final (WCF) series between the Minnesota Lynx and eventual WNBA champion, Phoenix Mercury. With central young stars Maya Moore and Britney Griner at the root of the rivalry, both the Twin Cities and Phoenix can lean back and look forward to a decade of should-see-TV.

Awesome: 21 ways we love WNBA champ Brittney Griner

It was the summer of Brittney – not the singer with one T but the gay Houston native with two. Hang on tight, because you’re about to love this lesbian WNBA All Star, even if you’ve been living under a sports-free rock.

Brittney Griner’s reign actually goes way beyond this past summer. It’s Griner’s whole year, and we’re just living in it. In a relative flash, the Nimitz High School basketball star has gone from Texas phenom to national treasure. Now everything she touches makes gay Houston proud.

Griner put the LGBT nation on notice in 2013. That’s when the No. 1 draft pick out of Baylor came out as gay matter-of-factly to the roar of lesbian basketball fans. Her star’s rise gained momentum off the court when she stood up to bullies, became a Nike menswear model, wrote a book “In My Skin,” and wowed a star-studded gay crowd.

OK. I admire Becky as much as anyone (thanks, Robin). But can some please break the pencil of the next writer who uses “undrafted” and “Hammon” together with out the qualifier: Because the bloody ABL talent flooded the bloody WNBA pool. I mean, friggin’ Jennifer Rizzotti was drafted 48th!

WATN? Tangela Smith: Western Michigan.

WATN? Le’Coe Willingham: Tennessee State.

Surprise! (NOT): Stephanie White takes over as Fever’s head coach

“I’m so glad that it is happening in this state. I’m so glad that it is happening with this franchise. To play at every level in my home state and now to be the head coach of the pro team is a pretty surreal moment,” White said in a phone interview Tuesday night. “I’m just realizing how humbling and special this moment is.”

More on Steph from the Indy Star: New Fever coach Stephanie White altered her career plan from astronaut to WNBA leader

Speaking of coaches, nice to see that hullabaloo was nothing but smoke: Holy Cross, Coach Bill Gibbons Agree To Contract Extension

Old Big East Flashback: Ieva Kublina, whose stellar career helped the women’s basketball program to four consecutive postseason appearances and ended with 95 consecutive starts, is the newest member of the  Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame.

Jayda continues her Storm exit interviews: All-Star Crystal Langhorne filled a void in the paint

Unfortunately, this doesn’t surprise me: Qatar out of women’s basketball over hijab row

The wearing of hijabs has become a hot topic in sport in recent years with Muslim athletes complaining that they are being discriminated against.

Judoka Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani hit the headlines at the 2012 London Olympics when Saudi Arabia demanded she be allowed to compete wearing a hijab.

While international judo federation rules at the time barred her from doing so, Shaherkani was eventually allowed to compete wearing a modified veil.

Human Rights Watch told Reuters it should have been up to FIBA to prove why Qatari players should not wear headscarves.

“We oppose any general ban on wearing of headscarves and onus should be on the regulator to prove why a ban is necessary on the basis of health and safety,” it said.

“In the case of basketball, it’s difficult to see how a ban on the headscarf is anything other than an unnecessary restriction on the players’ rights to religious freedom and personal autonomy.”

We’re not surprised, because we know the history:

You may have heard the story of former Memphis and Indiana State women’s basketball player Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir: she was the first Muslim woman to play NCAA Division I basketball wearing hijab (after breaking Rebecca Lobo’s high school scoring record in Massachusetts).

Yet since graduating from Indiana State, she has led the fight against FIBA’s rules restricting headwear in international competition.

As with most women’s basketball players, the Massachusetts native aspired to pursue a professional career internationally. However, FIBA’s ban on wearing headgear (that also affects Jewish and Sikh men) has kept her from playing overseas.

It’s been a long, tough day, so we’re going to add (and end on) a positive note: Just put in an order for 170 tickets to the Maggie Dixon Classic on January 4th at the Garden. I had — just HAD to round it up, so I do have three extra tickets in case you’re cranky you missed your chance to join us. Just email me: womenshoopsblog @ gmail.com.

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It’s called parity, my friends.

That’s a capital P
And it ends with TY
And it spells… last one standing gets into the playoffs.

Or, as Michelle Smith explains: Trio continues to set pace in WNBA – Atlanta, Minnesota, Phoenix are league’s only teams with winning records

Been off for a few weeks, watching this WNBA season purely as a fan and wondering what every fan must be: Where are all the winning teams?

As of Monday, three teams have winning records and one additional squad sits at .500. That leaves eight teams with losing records.

Is this mediocrity? Is it parity? Is it good for the league?

The postseason will hold the answers. Will we see blowouts and one or two teams dominating the playoffs? Or will someone other than Phoenix, Minnesota and Atlanta emerge?

In the meantime, here are the Week 11 power rankings. The Mercury and Lynx have clinched playoff berths already.

Speaking of teams hoping for a playoff berth, John Altavilla says It’s Crunch Time For Sun As Season Winds Down

Jayda speaks with Penny.

Q: Was Ross blindsided? She was the coach of the year in 2012 and signed a contract extension in February.

Toler: If you’re not winning and your team’s not successful and you were picked as one of the favorites (to win the WNBA title), are you blindsided by it? With the fans, we’re in LA, they were calling for it (the firing) after four games. It’s my job to protect the coach but when other decisions are made, it’s my job to carry out those orders.

Dawn is busy in Colorado with the U-18 team. She gets to work with this kid from Missouri who seems pretty good: Competitiveness An Inherited Trait For USA U18 Guard Napheesa Collier

Random Rant: Oh, lordy, get me a bat: it’s the mission of the Houston Inferno to break the stereotype that women cannot be athletic and feminine.

 

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More Live Access Griping…

The official Live Access REALLY REALLY sucks thread

Problems w/ Live Access for Sun Game?

It the Twitter-sphere:

Lauren Jackson ‏@laurenej1517s @wnba why is live access out? And for how long?

CappiePondexter Fans ‏@TeamCAPPA17m SERIOUSLY ABOUT TO DEMAND MY MONEY BACK!!!!!! @WNBA LIVE ACCESS IS A DISGRACE!!!!!!!!!!!
Richard Cohen ‏@RichardCohen129m Okay, looks like it’s happening to all of us. #LiveAccess mess continues. And this one’s supposed to be on a TV channel. #wnba @WNBA
Muffet McGraw ‏@MuffetMcGraw30m – Is anyone watching the Tulsa game? This Wnba live access is terrible
WNBA Jones ‏@WNBAJones31m@WNBA Live Access has been terrible and so far not worth the $14.99 this yr or even the $5.00 last yr. This wouldnt happen with the @NBA.
DaTruthTella ‏@DaTruthTella36m@WNBA The “Live Access” has been horrible tonight, well it’s bad almost every night but tonight has been disgusting.
 Lynette Baker ‏@Lynette7_Baker37m@wnba exactly it’s ridiculous!RT @Ayoo_itsBreezyB Sooo we pay more money but Live Access is all mess up?? Get it together
Mike Peden ‏@TheSportsBrain37mOh great…#LiveAccess froze and I can’t watch the #Storm play the #Shock. Wasn’t the price increase supposed to fix this? #wnba
Ilene Hauser ‏@wbbswoosh Protected account47m@WNBA Live Access not working, getting a rainbow picture.
Jayda Evans ‏@JaydaEvans1h.@bigmarys Considering #ESPN is a major backer of #WNBA, boggles my mind, too. Site is sweet but shouldn’t have kinks this early #LiveAccess
Jayda Evans ‏@JaydaEvans4hRT @WashMystics: RT @ConnecticutSun: If trying to watch game via liveaccess, we are aware there is an issue. We will keep you posted!” Sigh
@xjennersonx: @JaydaEvans exactly why didn’t pay $15. I knew it wouldn’t be worth it.” Come on! New app more than video. It’s Y3? Need time

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Jayda tweet: ‏@JaydaEvans#WSU coach June Daugherty will not coach No. 8 Cougs due to acute appendicitis. She’s been taken to hospital more later

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Others weigh in…

Jayda has a look at the 2011 Draft but admits:

Who are we kidding? This is going to be all about Gonzaga PG Courtney Vandersloot and Georgia Tech wing Alex Montgomery with a little Storm news mixed in. The pair of Washingtonians represented the state well, getting selected third and 10th overall in the WNBA draft on Monday.

Mel checks in with his musings on the WNBA’s Draft Day

Watching two major entities working side-by-side Monday afternoon with the WNBA draft being held at the worldwide television headquarters of ESPN was tantamount to witnessing two major banking firms going through a major.

Hartford Courant sports columnist Jeff Jacobs focusing on Maya Moore noted as an aside, “It was hard to know exactly where the WNBA stopped and ESPN started.”

Considering how downsized draft day had been the last two seasons when the event returned to NBA Entertainment studios in Secaucus, N.J., just across the Hudson River from New York, the arrangement worked out better for the most part for all parties concerned.

Where did I see someone comment, “ESPN cares more about the WNBA than the WNBA does.”

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from Jayda: Injuries, returns and extensions

The WNBA is keeping itself in the news this offseason and not all in a good way.

(Hey! What ever happened to any press is good press???)

And from the .com:

Q&A with the Seattle Storm’s Camille Little

Crystal Langhorne Discusses Russia

And a little ex-W news:

Queen of the Court: Ridgewood’s Anne Donovan and her solid gold basketball career

McConnell-Serio has lifted Duquesne women out of the doldrums

Pittsburgh’s Pat Coyle Takes Liberty From The WNBA


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From Jayda: A little WNBA playoff reading to go with your cup of java

So much for the WNBA changing the playoff format to 1-1-1 versus the higher seed traveling for Game 1; then returning home for the final matchups. In the Seattle-Los Angeles opening round series, the Sparks took a gamble and stayed put after losing to the Storm by one point in Saturday’s season finale at KeyArena.

No travel gripes from them. The format will come into play in the later rounds.

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