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with a little somethin’ somethin’ first.

From the Player’s Tribune: Lisa Leslie

I thought I retired from basketball in 1996.

Once I played on the Olympic team that year and we won gold, I was done. No overseas hoops. Nothing. I signed a contract with Wilhelmina Models, came up to New York and tried to start modeling — doing some shows, going on auditions … mostly getting rejected for being too tall. But as for basketball? Those days were pretty much over.

I had mostly given up on the game because my dream of playing couldn’t go any further. Past the Olympics, there just wasn’t any real opportunity — in my mind — for me to play for a long time in the U.S. At the same time, there were talks of starting the American Basketball League for women to play professionally, but I opted out because it didn’t have the support of the NBA. And I didn’t want to play in Europe, which was really the only other option.

I needed to put basketball behind me. I felt like I had to make a decision and I couldn’t wait around any longer. I couldn’t keep feeling like I was standing on the sidelines, waiting for my name to be called, only to hear the buzzer go off before I got a chance to play. I moved on.

But then I got a call the following January …

Audio: Brittney Griner and Stefanie Dolson join the Trifecta: What Can The WNBA Do?

Excelle: WNBA CONFIDENTIAL: We are living in the Maya Moore Era

In the days leading up to the 20th WNBA season, there’s been a great deal of talk about Breanna Stewart as the new face of the league. Much of the 2015 narrative centered around Elena Delle Donne and her historic season, and don’t expect her to recede in the public eye as she builds on it while playing for a gold medal in Rio this summer. Brittney Griner, too, always draws attention (and found herself in a recent ESPN SportsCenter ad), while Skyler Diggins is returning from a knee injury with a massive social media following and a new level of play she reachedlast year that she believes is a permanent new state.

All of these stars deserve attention. But any sober, clear-eyed analysis of where the WNBA stands at this moment, an evaluation of the current state of the league, only provides one conclusion.

This is the Maya Moore Era.

Sports Illustrated WNBA’s Maya Moore talks season, Rio Olympics and Jordan Brand

The LA Times notices the Sparks: Sparks begin WNBA season with high hopes, and with Candace Parker back on full-time duty

In 2015, the Los Angeles Sparks made the playoffs for the fourth year in a row and for the eighth time in the last decade. But that’s not a realistic portrayal of how things really unfolded: They posted a 14-20 record (their fourth worst ever), and lost to the Minnesota Lynx in three games after sneaking into the postseason.

The Sparks begin their 2016 season Sunday against the Seattle Storm, and they’re counting on finding some consistency — a trait that eluded them for large portions of last season — to drive them back to winning ways.

The full-fledged return of Candace Parker should help.

Atlanta 11: Angel McCoughtry and the WNBA are ready for respect

Newsday: How the WNBA ‘changed everything’ for girls in first 20 years

The boys Sue Bird grew up with in Syosset all had their basketball dreams. They could pretend they were Michael Jordan or John Starks or Patrick Ewing. They could fantasize about one day wearing a Knicks uniform and being cheered by a packed house at Madison Square Garden.

“I didn’t have that,” said Bird, who is beginning her 14th WNBA season, all with the Seattle Storm. “There was no professional basketball for me in the United States when I was in grade school and middle school. I could look to the Olympics and college basketball, but that was only on TV for the Final Four. 

“The WNBA changed everything,” said Bird who starred at UConn. 

Kits Sun: Valavanis is the eye of the Storm

Team building and leadership started at home for Alisha Valavanis.

As one of six children, including two sets of identical twins, Valavanis developed skills that have carried through her athletic career and professional life.

She has used them on the basketball court to make shots, in the boardroom to make trades and in the community to make fans.

“From very early on, my family was our own little tribe and that helped shape how I value people and how I value connections,” Valavanis, 39, said. “It really shaped my personal journey and is at the center of who I am.”

Twin Cities: Minnesota Lynx’s Cheryl Reeve: WNBA has come a long way in 20 years

Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve entered the WNBA in 2001 as an assistant coach with the Charlotte Sting.

At that point the league was five years old, and at the end of each season for her first three or four years on the job, Reeve said a question presented itself.

“You had this moment where you didn’t know, were we still going to be here?” Reeve said, referring to the league’s fragile existence in its infant stages. “During that time you had teams that were losing millions of dollars.”

Reeve said the WNBA is now far past that point. It’s through the survival stage as the league celebrated the opening of its 20th season Saturday night when the Lynx hosted Phoenix at Target Center.

SlamOnline: Watch Them Work – The WNBA has never had more depth than now. What a great time to tune in.

 

The league’s list of high-profile players has never been short. Somewhere between Lisa Leslie catching her first poster and Maya Moore hitting that game-winner in last year’s finals, however, something changed. The national narrative shifted back to women’s basketball not being worth a man’s time. But there hasn’t been a better time than now to tune in.

“We have a lot of different types of women and players,” Mystics center Stefanie Dolson says. “We still have those superstars, like Diana, like Candace, they’re still in the game. Then you have a new generation of players coming in. Brittney Griner, Skylar, Elena. And then my class. In my class, we have some great personalities. We’re very skilled too.”

Damn skippy, Stef.

David Berri at VICE: HOW THE WNBA COMPARES TO OTHER SPORTS LEAGUES AT AGE 20

As the WNBA celebrates the tip off its 20th season this weekend, it’s easy for naysayers to paint a picture of a league that’s stagnant at best, and a NBA charity case at worst. After all, WBNA average per-game attendance last season was only 7,138—the lowest mark in league history, and well below the average per-game NBA draw of 17,849. Women’s professional basketball, this line of thinking goes, has had two decades to build a fan base and establish itself in America’s sporting consciousness. So why can’t it come close to the NBA?

Here’s the answer: that’s the wrong question. Or, more accurately, it’s the wrong comparison, and a misleading one

Yesterday’s games

No Diggins? No problem, the ageless Plenette Pierson is here! If you read the numbers, you’d think Indy won – but their defense was lacking and slow. Dallas shot 36 free throws. Sims shot for carp, but earned her living at the charity stripe. Nice production from Theresa Plaisance, too.

“We were more aggressive,” Pierson said of the last two quarters. “We started making shots, we got fouls called on them. That’s what helped us get the win.”

“I thought we took some early rushed shots,” Coach Fred Williams added. “But luckily tonight they went down for us and it’s not going to go that way ever game. I felt we have to get better at that end, be selective of taking quick shots, kind of work the ball around a little bit.”

No Delle Donne? No problem, the rest of the team (Pokey played 11) made Curt Miller’s W coaching debut miserable. Connecticut shot 33.8%. Yikes. At least Rachel Banham brought a little sunshine.

Well, this is a good sign.

The Chicago Sky got off on the right foot to start then season, and had to do so without its biggest star.

WNBA reigning most valuable player Elena Delle Donne was out with an illness (stomach virus) for the season opener on Saturday night, and yet the Chicago Sky managed to manhandle the visiting Connecticut Sun at Allstate Arena, 93-70.

Jayne’s last second shot carried the Stars into overtime, but the Dream made sure they secured the win in the extra minutes. McBride looks to have picked up where she left off last year, but there’s not much of a bench presence. For Atlanta, Layshia gave them some nice minutes, and Elizabeth Williams played 36… but I wonder about her 2-6 shooting.

“We fought,” Hughes said. “They were very coachable late, gave us a chance to win the game. We didn’t get it done in overtime. We’re a work in progress, but their spirit was good.”

When Tina and Sugar shoot 50%, Bill is happy – and the Liberty win. No surprise Shoni didn’t get in. Slightly surprised Adut didn’t. Auspicious opening game for Tayler Hill and Bria Hartleynot so much for Stef and Emma.

As the final horn sounded on the Washington Mystics’ 87-76 season-opening loss Saturday night, New York Liberty Coach Bill Laimbeer shook hands with his counterpart, Mike Thibault, and offered a few appropriate words of encouragement.

“Get healthy,” Laimbeer said.

Ah, being healthy is an amazing feeling. Stomping your press-anointed competition for the ’17 title is even better. Lynx rolled as the Merc’s defense let them shoot 54%. I do love the twitter conversation the two social media teams have, though. :-)

“It’s a good starting point for us in a really bad way,” Taurasi said. “We know what we have to get better at. The season isn’t made on 40 minutes, but the way we bounce back is going to say a lot about this team going forward.”

Hey – if you just scanned this page, do the game a favor – click on the links and read the full articles. Show the sports editors that people appreciate their coverage…

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to Russian basketball. 

The Russian Basketball Federation was suspended Wednesday by FIBA, meaning it could miss the European Championship that doubles as an Olympic qualifier.

The suspension comes after two years of infighting at the federation, which culminated last month when a Russian court ordered new elections for all senior federation posts.

An earlier court ruling overturned the federation’s 2013 presidential election result, in which Yulia Anikeeva defeated former WNBA player Svetlana Abrosimova, who alleged there were many breaches of election rules.

It doesn’t impact the women, since they’d already failed to qualify for Rio, but it does put a damper on any momentum the U19 team may have generated. Wonder if Putin thinks FIBA deserves a Nobel?

Canada says, “Heck yes!” Creating buzz for FIBA Americas Women’s Basketball Championship should be a slam dunk

Katherine and Michelle Plouffe shot a little hoops in Sir Winston Churchill Square on Wednesday to help drum up interest in the FIBA Americas Women’s Basketball Championship which runs from Aug. 9-16.

It shouldn’t be difficult.

What’s not to like about Canada’s national women’s basketball team, two local stars in the mix, gunning for a 2016 Olympic berth at the Saville Centre?

San Antonio says, “Awwwwww, maaaaaan!” WNBA suspends Stars’ Adams for three games) and then cruised over the Dream.

Phoenix says, “This is a tank-free zone,” as the Sky and Merc kicked off the second half of the season with an OT doozy pitting Delle Donne against Bonner. A Griner block helped seal the win. The Guardian asks: Brittney Griner and Elena Delle Donne: the Magic and Bird of the WNBA?

Thirty-four years after Bird and Magic debuted in the NBA, a pair of paradigm-changing young standouts, Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury and Elena Delle Donne of the Chicago Sky, joined the WNBA in 2013. Now each in their third season, the two stand poised to define their league through a rivalry that could elevate the league in much the same way Bird and Magic did for the men.

“Rivalries are good in every league,” the Indiana Fever’s Tamika Catchings said of Griner and Delle Donne. “Something to build a story around. Something compelling. Both of them have had success, and Elena has had the best year of her WNBA career. So that’s exciting to watch and be a part of.

Indiana says, “Snap!” and “We LOVE traveling between back-to-backs” as they earned an OT victory (Thank you, Catch) in Connecticut and then returned to Indiana to defeat the Liberty, ending New York’s five-game winning streak.

Minnesota says “Welcome back! (not)” to Candace Parker as Moore and Whalen as “The Professorpowered the Lynx to a win over L.A.

Seattle says, “You have much to learn, grasshopper.” Learning curve: Storm’s rookies figuring out WNBA

Dallas-Fort Worth says, “Think of the children!” A welcome Shock: WNBA team likely to inspire Dallas-area girls

The WNBA’s arrival in Arlington next year could do more for local girls than just offer them another affordable entertainment option. Basketball Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman compared the Shock’s relocation from Tulsa to a historic moment she witnessed 40 years ago in New York City.

In 1975, the teenage Lieberman was at Madison Square Garden for the first women’s college basketball game at that legendary venue. The matchup between Queens College and Immaculata University was played just a few years after Title IX legislation targeted gender discrimination in education and as women’s sports was gaining momentum.

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The game is on ESPNU & at livebasketball.tv.

US reached the finals by virtue of their win over Hungary, 91-63 (and Samuelson’s the hot-hand).

“I thought we struggled at times, and credit Hungary for really pushing the tempo offensively,” said USA head coach Sue Phillips (Archbishop Mitty H.S./San Jose Cagers AAU, Calif.). “They really had us back on our heels. I was not very happy with our defensive effort in the first half. We held them to 24 points in the second half, which is more what we are accustomed to.

“When we started to get cold from the perimeter a little bit, we pounded the ball inside,” Phillips added. “We had 50 points in the paint, which is a great number for us. They mixed up man and zone defense, and I think we showed great balance in our ability to score from the free-throw line, the paint, beyond the arc and in transition.”

Spain got there by knocking out the Czech hosts, 73-41.

FIBA has this: Spanish guard Laia Raventos gunning for gold in Final with USA

Check out the team comparison.

Couple of heart-stoppers in the W last night.

Renee Montgomery made up for a misstep on the defensive end with her basket with 5.8 seconds left to help Connecticut snap their losing streak and secure a win against Tulsa.

“It’s no fun losing,” Douglas said. “I felt like we were definitely on a skid. I just implored them to have as much energy as we possibly could. We knew we could get the job done. We went on a six-game winning streak earlier so we knew we could play at a much higher form. We took this like it was our last game.”

Question: with her sixth 30-pt game, how close is Diggins to securing MIP honors?

Kayla McBride’s play continues to show she’s gunning for rookie of the year: She answered January’s late three with her own game winning shot, pushing San Antonio to a victory and ruining Catch’s return.

It doesn’t bode well for a team in the WNBA – or in any level of basketball – when an opponent’s newbie shows poise and your own veterans do not.

The San Antonio Stars exploited the Indiana Fever’s late blunders, completing an improbable comeback in a 71-70 victory Saturday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Seattle over Chicago as Nate writes:

Bird and Langhorne shared team-high scoring honors with 19 efficient points apiece. Bird shot 7-for-13 from the field, including a big three-point play on a jumper with 1:07 left that put the Storm up 4. Langhorne had her mid-range shot going in addition to finding ways around the Sky’s larger front line to shoot 8-for-10 from the field. The combined 38 points from the Storm’s inside-outside combo is a season-high as both have had their ups and downs this season and haven’t clicked to this extent at the same time.

At home, Atlanta used a dominant second half to earn a 86-73 victory

The Dream beat the Mystics. That’s not a surprise.

But what was a surprise was that the reserves as opposed to the starters were the ones who made a key 11-2 run in the last 3 minutes and 41 seconds to close the third quarter. That was the key run to locking up this game. After Ivory Latta made two free throws to give the Mystics a 56-55 lead, Aneika Henry made a putback layup after an offensive rebound (it was the second in a row).

Finally! The Atlanta Journal Constitution notices their local team is winning: 

“We really were trying to focus on putting 40 minutes together, not to have a big lull and let teams come back,” said Atlanta assistant coach Karleen Thompson, who spoke with the media after the game because coach Michael Cooper wasn’t feeling well. “We played great defense and everyone contributed well.”

Doesn’t prevent a putz from commenting on their piece, though. I guess we’re lucky that sad excuse for a human Coulter has been so distracted by the men’s World Cup.

As the All-Star Game approaches, Swish Appeal assesses:

How well are each of the WNBA teams playing compared with expectations?

Nate offers up some midseason WNBA statistics: The Phoenix Mercury’s dominance, the Minnesota Lynx’s potential

WATN? Jenni Benningfield: U of Colorado.

And, yes! #Chillin4Charity Cold Water Challenge reaches men’s college basketball (VIDEO)

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lovely few days in Minneapolis. Got to hang with family friends, see an overflowing Minnehaha Falls, re-connect with one of the original WHB bloggers, finish the second to last of my WBHOF articles, present a kick-butt conference session with some amazing educators and researchers, and chill with three fabulous munchkins: Theo, Jonah and Mae.

Now I need a nap.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world has contented spinning:

Exciting visit to the White House for Stef… I mean, the UConn’s women’s team. (Oh, dear: UConn women’s basketball in good shape for next title run)

The Lynx aren’t far behind.

New jobs for Megan Duffy and Jocelyn Wyatt and Katy Steding.

Speaking of jobs: Jenny Boucek talks about career, NBA coaching aspirations

FSU lands K-State (finally) transfer Leticia Romero.

I like when this happens: NOLA is tracking LSU alum in the W.

Ray at Swish Appeal has an Interview with San Antonio Stars rookie Kayla McBride: Adjusting to the WNBA

Ben York is talking The Evolution of Diana Taurasi

As her illustrious career continues, Taurasi has adapted to various styles of play that best suits that particular roster and team – something that is infinitely easier said than done, especially when many consider you to be the best player in the world.

In the run-and-gun years, Phoenix needed her to put the ball in the basket as much as humanly possible (not that it would be frowned upon now).

In the past few years, as the league has progressed, they’ve needed her ability to create and get the entire team involved (which is a direct correlation with being amongst the league-leaders in assists).

Nevertheless, it’s one thing to have an evolving game but another thing entirely to be effective at it – and finish amongst the league-leaders in the process.

Are the stars returning to the stands? First, NY gets Billie Jean King, now Ludacris And Others Attend WNBA Atlanta Dream’s “Dads & Daughters Night”

Medic! Lauren Jackson gets more knee surgery. EDD continues to be plagued by Lyme Disease.

From Patricia Babcock McGraw: Struggling Prince trying to find answers

During the Los Angles game, Prince was in uniform for the first time this season. But she did not see the floor.

In Atlanta, Prince made her season debut, but played only 9 minutes. She did, however, score 7 points.

She had been out until that point for personal reasons and joined the team only two weeks ago, battling what seems to be a severe case of mental exhaustion.

As for the games since I departed NY and returned…. can anyone figure this season out? I mean, except for Minnesota, who has got their you-know-what-together?

From David: Dishin & Swishin 06/12/14 Podcast: Underrated as a player and team, Danielle Robinson and San Antonio surprising in the West

Cappie remembers how to score, and the Lib stomp Washington.  (surprise! btw. ESPN still has the Lib in Newark.)

Parker scores a lot and rebounds a lot… but the rest of the team? Not so much. Minnesota dispatched the Sparks at the Staples Center.

Cappie forgets how to score, Diggins does not: Tulsa wipes the floor with New York. And hellooooo Courtney Paris! Welcome to the defense-free Liberty front court. (So much for that “heart-to-heart” meeting, Libs.)

More thumping of the Mystics, this time by Brittney.

Delle Donne-less Sky fall to the Storm. I wonder how much her extended minutes has played into the reoccurrence of the Lyme disease.

The Catch-less Fever rallied to take down Seattle and make Lin Dunn’s big night in Indianapolis extra special.

Steve Lebron at Policymic writes: How Much Women’s Basketball Players Make in the U.S. vs. China

While NBA players secure financial stability the minute they enter the league as first-round picks, the most talented female players are — while adequately compensated relative to other occupations — very low on the financial totem pole for athletes.

Fun times for USA Basketball at the 3×3 tournament.

Speaking of USA Basketball:

U of L’s Hammond calls gold medal experience ‘humbling’

Sara Hammond said Sunday, after representing the United States and earning a gold medal doing so, that her FIBA World Championship experience was tough to put into words.

The University of Louisville basketball player managed nonetheless after her USA Basketball 3×3 women’s team took gold in Moscow.

 

Three sisters, one out-of-sight dad

Jon Samuelson, father of one of the most successful sister acts in women’s basketball, is ever-present in the lives of his three talented daughters — he’s just hard to find during their games.

Samuelson, who played college basketball at Cal State Fullerton and pro ball in Europe, has taught the game to Bonnie, who will be a senior at Stanford this fall; Karlie, a rising sophomore at Stanford; and Katie Lou, a 6-foot-3 wing at Mater Dei High School (Santa Ana, Calif.), a Connecticut recruit and the No. 1 prospect in the 2015 class.

From Amanda Hess at Slate.com: The WNBA Finally Recognizes Its Lesbian Fans

This month, the WNBA became the first American pro sports league to openly recruit LGBTQ fans by launching a dedicated marketing platformselling rainbow basketball pride T-shirts, and sponsoring pride games across the country. On June 22, ESPN2 will air the first-ever nationally televised pride game. WNBA President Laurel Richie frames the strategy as a smart business decision: Recent market research has revealed that 21 percent of lesbians have attended a WNBA game, and 25 percent have watched one on TV. For a league that’s had serious difficulties getting anyone to fill its seats, those stats are astonishing.

The New York Times’ Julie Macur writes: Coast Cleared by Others, W.N.B.A. Finally Finds Its Gay Pride

When Brittney Griner, the No. 1 pick in the 2013 W.N.B.A. draft, heard about her league’s new campaign to market games to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, she said, “What are we going to have, T-shirts, shoes?”

It was about time, Griner said she thought, and then wondered what she could do to help.

I find the comments interesting and insightful (something unusual, we know, when folks comment on articles about women’s athletics.  While I, too, have been frustrated at the far-too underground recognition of the lesbian fan base, I’m finding some of the finger pointing and shoulda-coulda rather tone-deaf.

Simple question: who has more security? The NCAA or the WNBA? Who has more players, more fans, more “institutions?” NCAA, WBCA? I’m lookin’ and YOU.

Doug gives Chiney and Nneka some focus: WNBA’s Ogwumike sisters raise funds for education in Nigeria

WATN? UConn and CT Sun standout Nykesha Sales visits CBC

Oh, the drama: Diamond DeShields to join Vols

More good news for the Vols: Te’a Cooper gives verbal to Tennessee

Speaking of Knoxville: Dunn led way for today’s generation – Lin Dunn to be inducted into Women’s Basketball HOF on Saturday (ESPN3, 7 ET)

There are two kinds of vision, of course. The kind that lets you see what’s in front of you, and the kind that lets you imagine what you hope will one day be there.

Indiana Fever coach Lin Dunn always has had both, going back to her youth in Tennessee in the 1950s and ’60s. Even then, Dunn had a passion for sports and could see strategy and tactics as a natural-born coach. But she also saw what wasn’t there: enough opportunities and support for girls and women in athletics.

When Dunn is inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend in Knoxville, Tennessee, as part of a class of six, the honor will be a testament to Dunn’s determination to make the real world line up better with the possibilities she always imagined.

Lin gets around the “only five minutes to speak at the induction ceremony” rule by writing for ESPN: Five decades of fighting for equality – Lin Dunn to be inducted into Women’s Basketball HOF on Saturday

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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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like a bunch of clueless, self-delusional, profoundly tone-deaf  dingbats.

The university changed its stance, granting Romero a release as a result of a newly modified policy that allows athletic director John Currie the freedom to release student-athletes if new information or circumstances warrant the release.

When we see one person standing in opposition to a large entity, passions can be easily inflamed as people empathize. It’s the mini versus the monolith.

But that’s even more the case when, no matter how hard you look, you can’t figure out what the monolith stands to gain by exercising its power. Ultimately, that’s why so many people were baffled and angered by Kansas State’s treatment of women’s basketball player Leticia Romero.

“I’m thrilled for Leticia — this is what she deserved all along,” Romero’s attorney Donald Jackson said Tuesday morning. “I think Kansas State made the right decision and we’re thrilled about it. Sometimes things like this take a little time, but I congratulate the athletic director and the board at K-State on the decision they made.
Dang, but don’t I love a little sarcastic, subtle gloating….
Moving to a happier place: Rookie Alert!!!
BOOM! McBride drops 30 and the winner.
Story of the Game: Both teams were insanely hot from outside in the first half, combining to hit the first 11 three-point shots attempted. There were under four minutes left in the half when Shameka Christon tossed up the first missed three of the evening. The star of the show amongst the floor-wide bombing was a former Notre Dame guard – but not the one who tends to get all the press. Kayla McBride was smoking hot from the perimeter, not afraid to put the ball on the floor to create easier looks, and even made a couple of nice passes along the way as well. This is why Dan Hughes took her #3 in the recent draft, ahead of players like Alyssa Thomas and Natasha Howard who might’ve filled a more obvious hole on his roster.

Moments after becoming the first WNBA player to score 30 or more points in four consecutive games, holding a bag of ice on the five stitches over her right eye, Lynx forward Maya Moore was making the point that it’s not all her.

“Of course they are going to see I scored 30, looking at the points,” said Moore, who had 30 points in just under 31 minutes in Saturday’s victory over the New York Liberty. “But my teammates do so much for me. It’s all a team aggression; I just try to set the tone in the beginning.’’

(how cranky am I? I’ll be in Minny for a conference and the Lynx are on the road. Who’s in charge of scheduling!)
In the “it’s about time” category: Braxton waived. So much talent, so determined to squander it….
If you wanna catch up on WNBA games, check out Richard at WNBAlien.
Connecticut’s Carl Ademac catches up with old OLD Big East foe Barnes Arico: Ex-Red Storm coach is all ‘Go Blue’ at Michigan
“The Midwest is terrific,” Barnes Arico said. “It’s a great place to raise a family and the people in Ann Arbor and the state of Michigan have been so welcoming. The people in Michigan are all about the Block M and all about Michigan. I put on a Michigan t-shirt and go anywhere from California to Paris, France, somebody sees me and goes, ‘Go Blue.’ So it’s just the tradition and the pride, and to be able to work at a University that has all that is incredible. I’m loving it and enjoying it.
From the Sports Business Education Network: Muffet McGraw’s Keynote Address, “Women in Leadership
Speaking of leadership: Congrats to St. Francis’ third year head coach John Thurston as St. Francis Brooklyn women’s basketball team has been invited to the pre-season WNIT for the first time in program history.
In USA Basketball news, the U-18 team was announced. Check out Clay Kallam’s notes from the 17s and 18s tryouts.
Speaking of USA Basketball, from Anna Wilson: Red White and Dream Come True
Last year I was invited to participate in the USA U16 national team trials. Unfortunately, I was not selected to be a part of the team and missed out on the FIBA Americas U16 championship in Cancun, Mexico. This year I was invited back to Colorado Springs, Colo., to try out for the USA U17 world championship team, and this time I had more experience and more confidence. And I made the team.
Q: Team USA, coached by Geno Auriemma, will look to retain the gold medal at the FIBA world championship for women Sept. 27-Oct. 5 in Ankara and Istanbul, Turkey. What is the process of reducing the current pool of players down to 12?
Interesting flashback from Emily Nkosi: Basketball, Jesus and young lesbian identity in Waco, Texas

“I will always worry about Emily.”

That is what coach Kim Mulkey said about me in her book, Won’t Back Down. Though this is not a flattering line to have your basketball coach write about you, I actually appreciate it. I have been worried about me too, and with good reason.

Things have not been easy for me over the past decade. I don’t think my struggle is particularly unique. We all have struggles. The clearer I get on my own pain, the more compassion and authenticity I have in relating to the world around me. I hope I can share parts of my story and my pain in a way that others can relate to and learn from. That’s why I’m writing this. It’s not about setting the record straight or telling my side of the story in my own words, but rather trying to excavate the hard earned nuggets of wisdom that, if shared, could help someone else avoid the same mistakes or feel less alone.

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Wicked early flight meant getting up wicked-er early, so I’m looking forward to a nap soon.

It’s chilly-greening-spring here in Tennessee – 40 or so when we landed, but the Final Four greeter promised us 64 by noon. When you’re in the sun, yes….when you’re not? Brrrrrr!

Easy car pick up, then headed to East Nashville for some breakfast at Marche Artisan Foods. Great service, yummy food…

With time to kill before the hotel opened up, drove into, through and around downtown Nashville. Small and bustling at the center. Different, more concentrated vibe than when I was in Knoxville for the WBHOF induction ceremony a while back. Strong mix of old and new architecture.

Continued our wandering exploration and end up driving past Vanderbilt (yes, as we researched, started by THAT Vanderbilt – hence the “Commodores” nickname.) Did you know the campus was also an arboretum? Did a quick drive through – really, really lovely. Also stopped by Centennial Park to visit the Parthenon and did some walking. Yup, it’s big. Nearby lake is being dredged/cleaned, so that wasn’t so scenic.

It’s early for birds – but there is a list: RobinsBlue Jays, a lone Turkey Vulture, cackling Grackles, some beautiful Bank Swallows, noisy Northern Mockingbird, a gregarious Carolina Wren, and an early Hermit Thrush.

Next on the agenda, the aforementioned nap, then a return to East Nashville to partake of the fare at the Eastland Cafe. Then, we’re off to the Grand Ole Opry!

Phew!

Hoping tomorrow features a visit with a WBHOF inductee, coffee, brunch, barbecue and two fabulous games.

Until them, some more reading (and listening): First, make sure you check out the Tennessean’s coverage:

Fans show love early in Women’s Final Four

Kara Lawson: No favorite between Pat, Geno

Rebecca Lobo: UConn is beatable

Legendary lady Pat Summitt: Pride of Cheatham County

WOOT! WOOT! WBB HISTORY!! Nashville Business College: Champions before their time – LONG BEFORE TENNESSEE AND UCONN, THESE FARM GIRLS DOMINATED WOMEN’S BASKETBALL AND THEIR RECORD IS UNMATCHED TODAY.

Final Four teams have fun at Ryman

UConn’s Dolson, Hartley old hands at Final Four, Post
More Than Anything, Geno Demands Sweat From UConn Women, Courant
More Awards For Stefanie Dolson, Courant
Capsule: No. 1 Seed UConn Women Vs. No. 2 Seed Stanford, Courant
Pictures: Behind The Scenes With UConn Women In Nashville, Courant
It’s a Great Time to be a Husky, Stefanie Dolson

Stanford’s supporting cast stepping up to help Ogwumike, Register
ESPN analyst touts Ogwumike’s pro potential, SFGate
Lawson Says Stanford Has Best Shot At UConn, Hartford Courant

U-Md. abuzz as women’s basketball team heads to Final Four, Washington Post
Nashville already full of Maryland fans, ABC
Majoring in Chemistry, Chloe Pavlech

Before UConn, ND should fear Terps, Observer
Notre Dame Women: Save Your Pity, Blue & Gold
Irish must prove doubters wrong, Kate Fagan
Geno (And USA Basketball) Love Kayla McBride, Hartford Courant

Dishin & Swishin 04/03/14 Podcast: Breaking down the Final Four with coaches Doug Bruno, Lindsay Gottlieb & Coquese Washington, HoopFeed

Duke coach’s analysis of women’s Final Four, Bradenton Herald

In Women’s Final Four, Jousting Before the First Jump Ball, yea! It’s Harvey at the New York Times

Beating UConn rarely leads to title – Most teams that beat UConn in NCAA tourney don’t win NCAA championship, Mechelle Voepel

Rematches story of women’s Final Four, AP Teresa M. Walker

Five minutes with ESPN analyst Kara Lawson, Nashville Business Journal

NCAA hosting women’s hoops summit at Final Four, AP Doug

 

As coach Mitchell cuts to assistant coaches, Sea of Blue is Taking a Moment To Celebrate The Season That Was

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Upset City!

I’m sure there were mixed feelings on the Tiger bench. # 16 LSU ruined Candace Parker’s return for her jersey retirement ceremony… and gave Coach Caldwell the biggest win of her young coaching career – though they almost let it slip away: They had a nice double-digit lead with under five minutes left and lost their composure, resulting in a ton of turnovers. #5 Tennessee took advantage, cutting it closer and closer… until they lost their composure – two technicals later, and the Tigers get the three-point win. Glad I’m not a coach.

Speaking of big wins: If you thought Indiana’s game against #22 Iowa would mean the Hoosiers would soon exit the ranks of the undefeated, you were wrong. Important win for “drama free” coach Miller.

Take a deep breath, Indy, ’cause #17 Purdue is up next… and they might be ticked after being blown out in the second half by (I told ya!) tough out Ohio State.

“Every night, you’re going to play a well-prepared team and it’s going to be a challenge,” head coach Kevin McGuff said. “It’s a great league for women’s basketball and hopefully we continue to be better, so we meet these challenges head on. I thought our defense was good, but more importantly, we took turnovers and turned them into points.”

Coach Landers got a T, but coach Balcomb and Vandy got the win.

“Honestly, I didn’t think we ever really looked that good,” head coach Andy Landers said. “The scoreboard looked good when we were up seven, but we turned the ball over 24 times. We started it off turning it over and we were turning it over the last five minutes. You really don’t have to go any further than that. You’re playing on the road against a quality basketball team.”

James Madison almost joined the upset wave, but the Diamond Deshields-less #10 Tar Heels escaped with a three-point win. Next game ought to be fun – in-state rival NC State (13-1).

Speaking of  “almosts” – #18 Nebraska clawed back from a deficit in the first half, then squeaked out a one-point win over Northwestern.

It’s looking like Aston will be a nice hire by Texas. The Longhorns fought Oklahoma State tooth and nail throughout the game, finally falling to the #11 Cowgirls by 6.

Speaking of tooth and nail — South Carolina dealt Arkansas their first loss of the season, but Dawn and crew are lucky the game ended when it did. In the second half, the Razorbacks roared back from a 12-point deficit, but fell short by 4.

Speaking of a Conference that would be wicked fun to watch:

  • St. Mary’s couldn’t slay undefeated San Diego. “With the win, the Toreros remain perfect on the season at 14-0, mark the best start for any sport at USD in the Division I era, extend the program’s longest winning streak, and are now one of six undefeated schools left in Division I.” (Who’ going to be knocking on Cindy Fisher’s door next year?)
  • Pacific (6-7) took down perennial powerhouse BYU (12-2) for their first WCC win, 75-62.
  • Azzi’s Dons took down Loyola Mary for their sixth win of the season. (Baby steps, pt. 1)
  • Pepperdine and St. Clara went to double overtime and made Debbie happy: The Waves prevailed, 100-93. (Baby steps, pt. 2: Pepperdine’s five wins already matches its total from last season.)

Not interested in being part of the news frenzy:

# 6 Kentucky took care of Alabama, 85-63.

#2 Notre Dame got some dead-eyed shooting from Kayla McBride as they went huntin’ wabbits, 94-51.

#3 Duke dominated Old Dominion, 87-63.

#25 Oklahoma crushed Texas Tech, 68-38.

Simms… I mean, #9 Baylor was 29 points better than the Wildcats.

#14 Iowa State took care of TCU, 71-49.

Considering the state of Pittsburgh basketball, I consider Suzie’s loss to #21 Florida State by 9 impressive.

Mississippi State didn’t survive their encounter with the Gators.

Not sayin’ nothin’ about Fordham ’cause I don’t wanna jinx’em.

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for the first time since 2004.

Graham reflects: Since the last time we were in New Orleans …

Let’s see, the last time the women’s basketball world gathered in New Orleans for a Final Four, Andy Landers and Georgia lost a regional final played in the state of Washington; Duke lost a regional final in Norfolk, Va; Tennessee lost a regional final against a program that wore a lot of yellow and had never reached a Final Four; and Connecticut extended a long streak of semifinal appearances without having to leave the Nutmeg State in the first four rounds.

 Oh, and the Phoenix Mercury were expected to use the No. 1 pick on a player with both uncommon ability and mass name recognition. 

So, um, clearly a great deal has changed since 2004.

But if some things stay the same, there are at least a few ways in which women’s basketball looks different on this visit to New Orleans.

Graham sings Kayla’s praises: Irish in good hands with McBride

One of college basketball’s more perplexing puzzles involves finding a shot Kayla McBride can’t hit.

Hand in her face? Please, you’re going to have to do better than that. Off-balance jumper from a tough angle? Child’s play for the Notre Dame junior. On the move, in traffic — with the shot clock winding down? Been there and done that.

But while opposing defenders and coaches have largely come up empty this season, freshman Jewell Loyd long ago discovered her teammate’s shot-making kryptonite.

Congrats to Sky: Diggins Named the 2013 Nancy Lieberman Award: Top Point Guard

From Curt: Big East goes out in style

Notre Dame, Syracuse and Pittsburgh are heading to the Atlantic Coast Conference next season. West Virginia already left for the Big 12.

DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova split away from the Big East, but took the name with them.

Rutgers, in another season, is heading for the Big Ten. Louisville, in another season, is going to the ACC.

Connecticut, Cincinnati and South Florida are staying in the league, welcoming in, among others, Southern Methodist, Memphis and Tulane. The league will have a new name, the American Athletic Conference.

But the last hurrah for the current Big East Conference in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament promises to be remarkable.

A little number counting from Norfolk: Notre Dame, Duke helped Norfolk Regional draw animated crowd

Jim Fuller writes, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis has become much more than just a shooter

There was no questioning that Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis’ majestic jump shot was going to be her calling card the moment she arrived on UConn’s campus.

However, even after a brilliant debut season where she set the program record for most points by a freshman, the sweet-shooting Mosqueda-Lewis was clamoring for so much more.

In case you need it, John Altavilla has a Short Refresher On The UConn Vs. Notre Dame Women’s Basketball Rivalry

Clay at Full Court thinks that, UConn-Notre Dame: Just this once, tactics may trump talent

From the Cal Bear blog: 

Observing Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb and her players this afternoon was a good illustration of just how far women’s basketball has come.

Gottlieb and her five starters spent two hours at New Orleans Arena today going through a series of interviews and photo shoots to promote the Final Four. It was attention fit for royalty, and the Bears appeared to have a lot of fun doing it.

Elliott says, Cal women’s basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb knew destination early

The Mama Bear has used a gentle touch to get her players to believe in each other like a family. It has helped the Cal women survive two overtime games to reach their first Final Four in history — and 53 years after the last appearance by the men’s team.

“She’s always been a people person,” older sister Chris Gottlieb said. “Since she was a kid bouncing around with a ponytail, it was ‘everybody loves Lindsay.’ “

Elliott and Stephanie Hammon add, Confidence is soaring for Cal women’s team

Clay also is busy Breaking down Cal and Louisville

As for the Louisville articles: *crickets* Nice Job, Kentucky papers.

Looking to the future:

A Moc is now a Wolfpack: NC State hires Wes Moore as coach

Sooners return three starting guards next season

And, from FOB Ellyn, this cool news:

‘Throwing open the door’ for female athletes

Lincoln Presidential Library explores the growth of women’s basketball in Illinois through oral histories

SPRINGFIELD – With basketball fever in the air, it’s easy to forget that the thrill of the game was denied to many Illinois girls less than 40 years ago. A new oral history project by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum chronicles the early struggles for girls and young women who wanted to play basketball.

Illinois didn’t host its first state high school basketball tournament for girls until 1977, five years after Congress passed Title IX. That landmark education law succeeded in “throwing open the door” to growth in girls’ and women’s sports, dramatically changing American culture.

The oral history project – entitled “What About the Character of the Girls?: Girls’ and Women’s Basketball in Illinois, 1968-1977” – includes 18 interviews, with many more to come. Participants include Sue Strong, whose Sterling team won the state’s first girls’ basketball tournament; Jill Hutchison, the winningest basketball coach in Illinois State University history; Linda Gollan, the first girls’ basketball coach at Hinsdale South High School, and Lorene Ramsey, former head coach at Illinois Central College.

The title of the project comes from Ramsey, who was only allowed access to the gym one day a week when she was coaching in Pekin decades ago. Her request for more gym time was turned down by administrators who said sports helped develop the character of boys. Ramsey responded by writing “What about the character of the girls?” in red letters across the rejection memo and sending it back to the school’s athletic director.

The oral histories can be heard at http://tinyurl.com/GirlsBasketballHistory. Additional oral histories are featured at www.OralHistory.illinois.gov.

The interviews were conducted by Ellyn Bartges, who knows firsthand about the difficulties facing female athletes. Bartges played in Illinois’ very first girls’ high school basketball tournament. She later coached basketball and softball at the collegiate and high school levels. Her own memories are part of the project, thanks to an interview conducted by Mark DePue, head of the oral history project at the Lincoln Presidential Library.

“These interviews capture an extraordinary time in the history of Illinois and the nation,” Bartges said. “Women, joined by some forward-thinking men, were working hard to give girls something that is taken for granted today – the same athletic opportunities that boys routinely enjoy.”

Bartges began conducting the interviews while working on her master’s degree at Western Illinois University. The project originally focused on the Illinois scene but expanded to incorporate stories from throughout the country while Bartges pursued her Ph.D. in the Kinesiology Department at the University of Illinois. The interviews now include people who influenced or impacted players and coaches in Illinois.

Bartges is now an affirmative action administrator at St. Cloud State University. She is available for interviews at320-308-5123 or via email at elbartges@stcloudstate.edu.

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