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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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Summer’s here and the time is right for Chillin’ in the street!

Chillin’ in Chicago (chillin’ in the street) (Thanks Sasha, Sloot, Big Syl and Q)

Down in New Orleans (chillin’ in the street)

In New York City (Thanks Katie and Barb!)

From USA Today: 

As of July 3, the “Cold Water Challenge” has accumulated more than 35,000 tweets, 142,000 retweets and 92 million twitter reaches, according to the Yow Foundation’s executive director, Sue Donohoe.

“We never knew how this would just take off,” said Donohoe

The challenge’s social media footprint has evolved to include “#coldwaterchallenge” and “#icebucketchallenge” thanks to the involvement of prominent sports figures.

In particular, the challenge has caught on among professional golfers.

Fresh off her win in the U.S. Open, Michelle Wie brought major publicity to the effort when she doused herself on June 30, and then challenged reigning British Open champion Stacy Lewis, who answered the call.

From Mechelle: How #Chillin4Charity caught fire – Arizona coach ignites hoops nation with cause benefiting Kay Yow Cancer Fund

Start with a big vat of “I dare you.” Add a huge helping of “for a great cause.” Sprinkle in “humorous discomfort.” Serve up on social media.

What do you get? #Chillin4Charity, which continues to spread goose bumps and goodwill throughout the nation’s women’s basketball community.

The movement, which is also known as the “Cold Water Challenge” and was started by Arizona coach Niya Butts and her staff in June, is raising money for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. But it’s also done something else.

“It’s united a lot of us,” Butts said of her fellow coaches. “We all compete against each other in recruiting and the games, but we also have this big monster that has impacted all of our lives.

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In this case, it’s women’s basketball players and blood clots:

Antonita Slaughter from Louisville.

Kyvin Goodin-Rogers from Kentucky.

Rebekah Dahlman from Vandy.

Other injury news: Washington freshman Chantel Osahor out indefinitely with stress fracture

Returning from injury news: Marist visits rivals with Casey Dulin set to debut

The last time Casey Dulin played in a game she scored 13 points to lead the Marist College women’s basketball team in its NCAA tournament opener in March.

Today, 266 days since that loss to Michigan State, the senior guard returns to action, making her 2013-14 debut against host Boston University after breaking her right foot in late October

Speaking of Marist: Marist hurdled obstacles to find success again

In transfer news: She moved in high school, and it looks like she’s moving in college: Breanna Hayden to leave Baylor.

Friday the 13th brought no bad luck for East Carolina, which made mincemeat of Alcorn State and kept their record unblemished.

San Diego resisted the WHB curse and moved to 10-0 with their win over Long Beach State.

In the battle of the W’s (Williams and Wetmore v. Wurtz and Whyte) it was Washington over Wisconsin.

Army played Ohio State tough, but the Buckeyes squeezed out a win.

The Ohio State women’s basketball team got a do-over with the clock ticking toward zero last night at Value City Arena and left smiling this time.

The Buckeyes, who lost to Gonzaga on a buzzer-beater on Sunday, rallied from a six-point deficit in the final 2:23 to reel in Army 59-56 in front of a crowd of 4,183.

Wow — tough to got through two overtimes and lose by 13. Welcome to UCF’s fate against the Owls of Florida Atlantic.

Mechelle adds her voice to the good wishes sent to the Frese family: Frese’s son wraps up chemotherapy- Tyler Thomas, 5, will get his blood checked regularly for the next year and a half

...the image you immediately see in your head when the Maryland women’s basketball coach is mentioned is her standing on the sideline, nodding, clapping and sending out good vibes to her players.

Likewise, with every public mention of her son, Tyler Thomas, and his battle with leukemia, Frese has been similarly upbeat. One can imagine that in private, she and husband Mark Thomas have shed tears and had their low points of fear and worry. There is no worse emotional pain than that felt by a parent or guardian of a sick/injured child.

But Frese has always talked about Tyler winning against the disease and about how he received terrific medical care at Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg Children’s Center. You can surmise that 5-year-old Tyler both inherited and was inspired by his mom’s buoyant attitude.

Speaking of Mechelle’s voice, check her out as she (and Coach McCallie) talk Duke v. UConn with David at Dishin’ & Swishin’: Is #2 Duke ready for #1 UConn?

More on the upcoming game from John Altavilla: Coach McCallie On A Number Of UConn-Duke Topics

On the current condition of senior guard Chelsea Gray, who is back after a dislocated knee cap ended her junior season on Nov. 17, 2012:
“It’s been extraordinary; I have never been a part of that kind of story [recovering from knee dislocation]. She’s worked hard, preserved, put herself into position to be in tip-top shape. … We’re not there yet. It’s December, but we are at a good stage with her. I’m proud of her. It’s a hard injury.”

And: Jay Bilas Offers A Fresh Insight Into Duke-UConn and Gray And Jones A Potent Duke Guard Combination

Over at Mel’s blog, Mike Siroky toots the SEC horn: Kentucky Plays Another Masterpiece Game

The Southeastern Conference women’s college basketball teams retain their mastery of the rest of the world.

Those AP-ranked teams are now 47-3 (and there is another undefeated league team and two with one loss each, which makes the top nine 73-5).

Déjà vu all over again: For the second straight week, the biggest win was by the team we have dubbed the best in the league, the national Game Of The Season (so far).

From Lady Swish: JMU preps for St. John’s tourney

For JMU, the next five days are filled with opportunity and possibilities.

The Dukes (6-2) will play three games over this span, with two of them coming against resume-enhancing opponents. If successful, JMU can brand itself as not just a team good enough to make the NCAA Tournament, but one capable of making some noise once they get there. And trust us, perception is important when it comes to the NCAA selection committee.

Some players making an impact:

From Carl Adamec: UConn’s Chong reports for freshman duties

“Sometimes it’s hard being the only freshman. A lot of times I’m doing things on my own,” Chong said. “I’m the only freshman and I know they have their eyes on me. I have to give them my 100 percent every time and let them know I’m working hard.

“My roommate (Jade Strawberry) is a volleyball player so I didn’t always see her during her season. She’s out practicing or I’m out practicing so I have to do a lot of things on my own. I’ll go to class by myself. I’ll interact with other people on my own. But when things get tough I just ask the older girls on the team and they’ll help me.”

From Vicki L. Friedman and Paul White Shae Kelley doing it all for ODU

Through eight games, Shae Kelley leads Old Dominion in points, rebounds, steals, blocks, field goals made and attempted, free throws made and attempted, minutes played, yards after the catch, goals-against average….

OK, we made a couple of those up. But only a couple.

From Aggie Sports: Gilbert making an impact on and off court in her hometown

Gilbert does her student teaching in the area and enjoys when she is recognized for her on-the-court work, but she also takes great pride when fans recognize what she hopes to do in the classroom.

“It defines me as not only a basketball player, I’m also someone who desired to teach and help out younger kids and be a big part of the community,” she said.

From Mike Esse at Penn State Athletics:

Two words: patience and dedication. Put those two together and you get Lady Lion senior Talia East.

The 6-foot-3 forward from Philadelphia wasn’t seeing the playing time she wanted in her first two years due to injuries and veterans in front of her. In 2012-13, East began to show flashes of the player she could be and now in her final year in Happy Valley, she is a dominating force inside for the Lady Lions.

From Ken Sickenger at the Albuquerque Journal: Lobo women’s hoops: Alexa Chavez goes from walk-on to key performer

“Honestly, I told her what I tell all our walk-ons,” Sanchez said. “‘You probably won’t play much, you probably won’t travel, and your main job will be to work hard at practice and help the team get better.’”

Chavez was undeterred by the high-work, low-reward prospects.

“Alexa came in and just never stopped working and never stopped improving,” Sanchez said. “Now she’s in a position to help us win basketball games and she’s skilled enough to do it.”

So, where are you traveling to in 2015?

In W news: Use Of Instant Replay Headlines WNBA Rule Changes

In Arizona, the New Phoenix Mercury GM is Phoenix Suns exec

From the Daily Nebraskan: Former Husker basketball player Kelsey Griffin finds happiness playing abroad

Kelsey Griffin left Nebraska as a 2010 First-Team All-American, a three-time First-Team All-Big 12 selection, the 2010 Big 12 Player of the Year and the No. 3 player on Nebraska’s career scoring list with 2,033 points.

Yet somehow, when she entered the WNBA after being drafted as the No. 3 overall pick by the Minnesota Lynx and subsequently traded to the Connecticut Sun, she felt as if she was on her own.

Jim Massie writes about what we already know, but it’s always fun to read his work: Katie Smith returning to WNBA — as a coach

Next spring will find Katie Smith feeling a familiar itch that time finally has persuaded her to scratch in some other way.

Smith, the most-decorated player in Ohio State women’s basketball history, ended her long playing career at the end of the 2013 WNBA season. The 39-year-old returned to her home in Upper Arlington to finish her graduate work for a degree in dietetics and to serve as a grad assistant mentor to the current OSU women’s team.

Several basketball players on espnW’s “Impact 10

NO. 2 BRITTNEY GRINER

NO. 6 ELENA DELLE DONNE

NO. 7 MAYA MOORE

NO. 9 CANDACE PARKER

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Things are getting clearer in the run to the playoffs.

Yes, the Storm are one win away from clinching playoff berth as Tina Thompson continues to go out with a bang, not a whimper.

Thompson, a 17-year league veteran, has willed the Storm into playoff contention. She’s averaging a team-leading 16.4 points and 7.3 rebounds in August. In a crucial regular-season series clincher against San Antonio on Tuesday, Thompson scored 27 points in the 72-71 road win.

The performance isn’t surprising to Thompson, 38. She recently said she had one of her better offseason training regimens in order to retire this season on a high. Thompson also made it clear when she signed with Seattle in 2012 her intention was to win a fifth WNBA championship.

BUT: If they do make it, they ain’t playing at Key. Next up: Minnesota.

Seattle is chasing Phoenix, but the Merc are twice lucky: they get to play Connecticut, and Candice Dupree has picked up the pace after Russ Pennell’s arrival as coach

Dupree said for her, the current scoring binge is about a “mind-set.”

“In order for me to help make this team better, I have to be aggressive and assert myself against these other teams,” she said. “I just can’t wait for shots to come within our system. When I catch the ball, I look to drive or shoot. If it’s not there, then pass the ball and play out of that.”

Interim coach Russ Pennell has made sure Dupree is featured in more offensive sets.

They almost let it get away, but Catch and Zellous made sure the Fever stayed ahead of the Liberty in the race for 4th. Or 3rd. Or 2nd, if Atlanta doesn’t right their injured ship. (They get a chance against Chicago today)

Chicago gets some love:

David Haugh – Delle Donne doing her (substantial) part to grow WNBA – League’s top rookie and legit MVP candidate will promote game after Sky season

Eric Zorn – Excuse me while I kiss the Sky

Contrasting opinions:

From SlamOnline: Standard Bearer – Ten years into her WNBA career, Diana Taurasi is having one of her best seasons yet.

Coming off of a hip flexor injury that limited her to just eight games last season, she’s come back with a vengeance, currently ranking second in the WNBA in scoring with 21.4 points per game. Ten times this season, she’s scored 26 points or more.

Though she receives less credit for other aspects of her game, she’s also averaging a career-high 6 assists a night, ranking second in the WNBA. That’s up from her average of 3.6 in 2011 (her last full season). She had double-digit assists three times: 10 vs Tulsa (August 20) and New York (July 2) and 11 vs Indiana (August 14). She’s also grabbing 4 rebounds per game.

From Aman Ali at the .com: Race to the MVP: Week Twelve

“Taurasi is one of the fiercest competitors in the league and a perennial favorite for the MVP award. But this season she hasn’t been able to shed her reputation of being an alpha-dog player that likes to shoot way more than she likes to pass. She has so much talent on her team, but how many of them are playing better as a result of Taurasi on the floor? McCoughtry suffered from the same reputation in years past and shed it this season – just ask her teammates Tiffany Hayes and All-Star Erika DeSouza who are playing some of the best basketball of their careers alongside her.”

Rebkellians clear up Ali’s lack of stat comprehension.

Also from SlamOnline: WNBA MVP Rankings – Candace Parker delivers in the clutch, fills the box score.

This past week, #CandaceCan became a mantra, as Candace Parker led the Sparks to a double-overtime comeback victory against Tulsa on Sunday. Slyvia “Big Syl” Fowles continues to spit out double-doubles and rise up the MVP rankings. Third year wing Maya Moore seems to be heating up at the right time as the Lynx look to make a trip back to the finals.

and Unsung Hero- Courtney Vandersloot is thriving at point guard for the Chicago Sky.

Quietly running the point is Courtney Vandersloot. The third-year guard is having her best season as a pro, averaging career highs in points (9) assists (5.5) and rebounds (3.3). Vandersloot is also averaging a career low in turnovers per game (2.5) while ranking fourth overall in the WNBA in assists.

Katie Konsiders Koaching: Katie Smith set to retire from WNBA.

Powell is going to Gonzaga.

Now to some off-court stuff via Nate:

RJ Aguiar of Towleroad has a pretty evenhanded account of the demonstration outside of the San Antonio City Hall yesterday that injured San Antonio Silver Stars forward Sophia Young attended yesterday, including links to local news coverage describing why the black and Latino protesters are opposed to an addition to the city’s existing nondiscrimination ordinance (click here from a video of the event from KENS 5). Andy Towle makes a good point in his associated post about Young’s tweets: “Given what she tweeted, however, she seemed to think that the anti-discrimination bill, to be voted on by the San Antonio City Council in early September, would also somehow legalize same-sex marriage.” (Hint: it won’t). (Read more)

I love that Coach Dunn has tweeted her support of Tully and Clarendon… And that Coach Boyle retweeted it. BUT: Where is every single other NCAA and WNBA coach?

Speaking of Coaches: Hall of Fame Inductee Dawn Staley Reflects on her WNBA Career and Community Outreach

Now to the important stuff: WNBA TEAM LOGOS: A VERY IMPORTANT CRITIQUE

Did you catch this from Fagan: SEX SELLS? TREND MAY BE CHANGING

In the Nine for IX film “Branded,” premiering Tuesday on ESPN (8 p.m. ET), filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady tackle the age-old question in women’s sports: Will sex appeal always supersede achievement?

But before we try to answer that, we need to ask ourselves a few more: Does sex really sell now? How do we know for sure? What if I told you it doesn’t?

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drop me a note, ‘kay?

I mean, geez:

Spare Parts Seattle (‘ello LJ!) takes down Will This Road Trip Ever End Indiana.

“(Tina’s) play tonight is just inspiring,” Storm coach Brian Agler said. “If you can’t sit there and think about what she’s getting done at her age – the minutes she’s playing, hitting big shots, making big plays and guarding one of the better players in the league in (Tamika) Catchings, it’s hard not to really compete when you’re on the floor with her.”

Spare Parts (2) San Antonio takes down Not Quite New Look Phoenix.

“(Robinson is) just evolving into a player this year with the loss of Becky (Hammon) and Sophia (Young) where we have got to play through her,” Hughes said. “And playing through her takes different forms. It takes scoring, but it also takes her facility to set up people and that arc that she is working on was really important today.”

Coach of the Year Candidate Washington smoosh the This Wasn’t the Season Bill was Hoping For New York.

Hey, at least we held off the collapse until the fourth quarter.

Tierra Ruffin-Pratt looked like she heard the scurrilous rumors that her classmates had passed her in the rookie rankings, and was determined to take back her place as the most surprising success of the class of 2013. She shook Katie Smith off her on defense repeatedly to get open jumpers, and she was fighting for rebounds every chance she got. She was very physical, and paid the price for it.. (Katie got in a pretty good hit on her, too. Katie is a Bad Girl, after all.) Kia Vaughn (who actually started the second half) threw her body around like nobody’s business, setting screens and picks and boxing out viciously. We kept throwing her passes. She doesn’t even go here anymore! She was strong on the inside. Tayler Hill played briefly, and it was amusing to watch the young Buckeye going up against the old Buckeye when she was matched with Katie Smith, but amusement value was all she provided. Nadirah McKenith looked solid but unremarkable. Emma Meesseman went hard after the ball, but her judgment was not always the best. She’ll learn. And she’ll be scary when she does.

Lose by a Little Get Revenge by a  Lot Atlanta stomps Can’t Quite Get it Together Connecticut.

Tall Person In the Middle Tulsa trumps Tall Person Missing in the Middle Minnesota. In Minnesota.

Liz Cambage had 27 points and eight rebounds as the Shock broke a 14-game losing streak against the Lynx and posted the biggest franchise win – home or away – since moving to Tulsa in 2010. 

“I think it signifies a real sign of growth for this team,” said guard Candice Wiggins, a five-year Lynx standout before coming to Tulsa in an offseason trade.

Yup, the next few weeks will be miiiiighty interesting. LA is looming (Sue Favor sends this link: Red hot Sparks put away injury-depleted Fever, 94-72), Atlanta is dreaming a Lyttle, and the #3 and #4 spots are up for grabs in both conferences. Read all about it at L’Alien!

A little high school history out of Bradenton, Florida: Southeast’s first girls basketball state champions stand alone

Those Lady Noles were an up-tempo team that epitomized the run-and-gun label and trapped all over the court. In a victory over Bayshore, Southeast scored 106 points. They had speed and athleticism and a big front line.

“We pressed the heck out of people and ran kind of a like a run-and-jump defense,” says Smith, who now works in the medical profession as a salesperson. “Olivia was an amazing person, and our inside force and could move well. Her sister (Christella) came off the bench, and she was big. Loretta was amazingly fast, smart and sassy. She was gifted, and Coach Narbut made us special.”

Sad news out of Georgia: Pat Rivers, the first girls basketball coach to bring a state title to Augusta, died Saturday morning.

“She pushed us a lot. She motivated us. She made us work harder,” said Natasha Reid, captain of the 1997 team who now works as a special education teacher at East Central Regional Hospital.

“I tried to be laid back, but she pushed me to be a leader. I didn’t see that back then. I’m glad she did.”

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she’s not on my team. *sigh*

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

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

Of note:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other stuff:

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

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

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

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

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

Michelle says: Griner’s popularity reels in fans

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

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

The big girl is a big deal here.

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

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

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

Prince leaves Chicago. Again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

In college news:

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

Who had the greatest influence on Wicks?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Storming the Floor:

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

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

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

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

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