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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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First, I take a break from work (yes, it was a looooong day) and walk over to the Garden to yell for my team against Liberty-West. And then I realize I have to yell AT my team to “GUARD THAT #7 PERSON!” (Jia Perkins, who is lighting it up this season — or is it just against NY?).

The first half was a heck of a lot of fun, with both teams hitting shots and playing little, if any defense. And then *cue the horror music* came the third period. Lordy, the Lib are awful on defense. They’re slow to close out on the perimeter shooters (no speed, no willingness to get over/through screens) and have no defensive smarts or communication in the paint. Just give-and-go, back-door’em to death, y’all.

Which is exactly what San Antonio did. But Billie Jean King was there, so that was a good thing…

Kayla McBride looks like a seasoned vet. Her intensity is driven into the court, not the stands. We’ll see how she does once the WNBA folks get real W game tape on her, but she’s quick, fast and fearless.

Then Kia (who is trying to make a liar outta me (it’s a twitter thing)) leads the Mystics over the Sun.

THEN the still Catch-less Fever rally from 16 down to defeat the ‘stics.

Then TULSA whips Phoenix and gets their first win of the season. (Dish ‘n Swish on Digg)

Then SEATTLE trips up Minnesota, giving the Lynx their first loss of the season.

Then LA wakes up and gives Chicago their first thumping of the season.

(I fly to Minnesota to present at a conference, where the Lynx aren’t, but I DO meet a first-year season ticket holder while attending a Claudia Schmidt concert.)

Then Atlanta gives Chicago their SECOND thumping of the season.

Then Alex Bentley (!) leads Connecticut over a tired Indiana Fever.

Then Phoenix outscored San Antonio 14-2 in the second overtime to secure the win.

Don’t know about you, but I’m POOPED. (Could be that I’m sleeping in the wrong time zone.) I guess the lesson is: Buckle up! It’s going to be a bumpy ride this WNBA season. And maybe it’s RICHARD’s turn to carry the WHB jinx: Lynx And Sky Overcome Obstacles To Start Strong In WNBA, Plus Ups And Downs From Around The League

Oh, and SWEET!

 

 

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in the world of sports and being “disrespected” can become a motivating factor for some.

I know that San Antonio has talked about needing to “earn respect,” but I’ve gotta believe their trip to New York may have added fuel to their fire. First, the NY Post called them the “Silver Spurs.” Then, the Liberty, in a classic example of  “attention to detail,” print game day roster cards identifying the day’s opponent as the “San Antonio Storm.”

I kid you not.

Needless to say, the three large SASS fan groups in attendance were not amused. They went home happy, though, as their team put on a lovely display of team basketball and exited the building with a win. What a pleasure it was to watch “Liberty mid-west” in action (Becky, Shameka, VJ).  Defensively, it’s a very opportunistic bunch. On offense, Hammon and Young are so in sync — it’s just a delight to watch. The hidden killer, though, was Jia Perkins. Girl was smokin’ she was so hot. And yes, Adams has range and a nice touch inside, but you have to wonder how long a career she’s going to have if she continues to carry the weight she’s carrying (and missing layups). I’m also guessin’ that SASS is probably the only W team NOT looking forward to the London 2012 pause. They’re on a roll, and who knows what happens to their momentum during the hiatus.

As for the Lib, they certainly played a prettier game than the one I witnessed against the (real) Storm, but they eventually ran out of legs. Literally and figuratively. Vaughn and Pierson are still in civvies, DeMaya’s one leg gave out on her mid-second half and Alex Montgomery sported a post-game knee-ice bag that was a the size of a good loaf of sourdough. And don’t look to Braxton for any help — she’s still so out of shape that she thinks she’s playing hockey — every two minutes she calls to the bench for a sub. It seems rather insulting to every other player that she’s taking up bench and cap space.

Yup, defense done well (and a missing Angel) can do ya in: LA smooshed the Dream.

Echoing the classic Monty Python line, “I got better.” Sue Bird scored 31 as the Seattle Storm stomped the Mercury.

In the most important game of the day, Tulsa took care of business in the second half and Washington looked to secure their fair share of draft ping pong balls: Shock 78, ‘stics 62.

Speaking of injuries, (Big) Becky’s strained calf means Wojta gets a week’s worth of work.

Two cranky coaches: one in D.C. and one in Chicago. I wonder if they’ll write each other a letter…

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but still disappointing.

The Sun are the Groundhog Day of the WNBA – get a lead and lose it. Go on the road and… lose it.

On the other hand, Atlanta pleased its fans (and new owners) by coming back and using a balanced attack to grab the win and move into the Conference Finals.

“We were down . . . and it doesn’t seem to bother us,” Meadors said. “I’ll tell you what; get us to the fourth quarter and we’re pretty good. It was all about our defense, and it wasn’t anything the coaches were saying.”

Watching the San Antonio/Minny game, the Queen/Bowie song kept running through my head – “Dum da-da-da da da dum dum Pressure!” The SASS vets handled it, the Lynx youngsters not so much.Writes Mechelle

It has been a summer of coming home for Jia Perkins, and one of growing up for Sophia Young.

Those two led the way Sunday as San Antonio beat Minnesota for the first time this season, and in the process avoided elimination in the Western Conference semifinals.

Perkins, who just before this season joined San Antonio via trade from Chicago, led the Silver Stars with 24 points, while Young had 23. After five losses to Minnesota, including a one-point escape by the Lynx on Friday, this time San Antonio found a way to beat the Western Conference’s top seed, 84-75 in San Antonio.

NEXT!

Oh, and if you want to prep for tonight, check out WNBAlien:

Part of me hates these best-of-three playoff series that the WNBA uses for its first two rounds. You play for months to get here, and then everything can be over in the blink of an eye. A slightly shorter regular season allowing longer playoff series would be a better framework in my eyes. But you can’t deny that it makes the postseason instantly exciting. After losing their opening games, New York and Phoenix went into Saturday’s games in do-or-die situations. Win, and they’d have a chance in a deciding game on Monday night; lose, and all the hard work all season long would’ve been for naught.

Me, I love the best of three simply because it demands total focus. Screw up and you’re out. I’ll take that pressure any day over the never-ending NBA playoff-a-looza. Heck, I think men’s tennis would benefit from a best of three — make’em play with a sense of urgency….

And speaking of urgency — the .com urgently needs to get a copy editor.

“Define you’re edge with Lisa Leslie”?

WTF? Its jest knot write!

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the WNBA transactions and the movement of bigs?

My former editor, Lois Elfman has this at Hoop on Candace Parker: Ready for Sparks to Fly

“Head, shoulders, knees and toes,” goes the children’s song, but it could also be 2008 WNBA Rookie of the Year and MVP Candace Parker proclaiming her readiness for the upcoming WNBA season. She’s been in Russia since January, playing for UMMC Ekaterinburg,1 which last weekend finished third in the EuroLeague Championship.

“My shoulder is doing well,” Parker says. “I’ve had no problems with it. I’m continuing to strengthen it, lift weights and stuff like that.”

Nate has: What The Seattle Storm Could Gain From The Dallas Mavericks’ ‘Simple Yet Beautiful’ Sets

Perhaps it was a fitting coincidence that I ended up behind Seattle Storm coach Brian Agler in a Starbucks line during Final Four weekend in Indianapolis: Seattlites (even transplants) need their coffee and Starbucks is familiar.

Or maybe we should have been protesting in memory of the Seattle Sonics.

In any event, after exchanging pleasantries, Agler asked if I was going to the free agent camp going on that day and invited me to ride along with he and the Storm coaching staff.

At the .com, Frank and Ben discuss: Podcast: Will the Top Three Picks Tip Off as Starters?

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Working out at the “Y”

And Danielle McCray checks in from Israel.

Round 1 in Israel!!!

Finally, back at it again! It’s been about seven months since I’ve been on the hardwood for an official game. After getting injured, it was a long road to recovery. I endured a lot of adversity along the way which, through it all, turned out to not only help me grow as a person but as a basketball player.

And more from Tamika Raymond in India.

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