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

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

Breanna Stewart’s Debut Ranks Among Best in WNBA History

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

Aussies in WNBA: Phillips and Taylor find form

Ah, the life of a rookie post: Imani Boyette

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

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

But I’M HEALTHY, PEOPLE!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WNBA now has the best Wings in Dallas

Games:

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

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

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

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

NCAA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

High School

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

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

International:

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

USA Basketball:

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

Sunday, Aug. 7 

11 am/12 pm vs. Senegal

 

Monday, Aug. 8 

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

 

Wednesday, Aug. 10 

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

 

Friday, Aug. 12 

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

 

Sunday. Aug. 14 

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

 

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

Ageless wonder Catch rules.

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

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

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

And rules again.

A smidge younger wonder Dee rules.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Didja catch the Dishin & Swishin Podcast: Kara Lawson and the Washington Mystics making noise in crowded Eastern Conference

A nice piece on Essence Carson by The Record’s Kara Yorio: WNBA star, musician Essence Carson still connected to her hometown of Paterson

She was born and raised in a place that struggles under the weight of poverty, crime and a negative reputation.

“As a kid you don’t really realize anything,” she said one day recently while driving through Paterson. “You just have fun. You don’t realize what you have and what you don’t have. You don’t realize how your family might be different from somebody else’s.”

Carson’s grandfather, mother, sister and some friends still live in Paterson and she visits often. Her grandmother died in 2005.

Raised predominantly by her grandparents — “They were really strict, but there was a reason why” — Carson was a straight-A student who, before basketball took over, went to band camp in the summer.

“I was a nerd,” she said.

There was a little hang over the “game after the game.” The Mercury survived Indiana via a rare 0-for from Catch and a 14-point run.

“I don’t necessarily think we played that well, but at the end of the day we won the game so we’ll just move on and try to get some rest and keep going,” said Diana Taurasi. “I think today was one of those days where we were at our highest level but we figured it out toward the end.”

There was more surviving in Tulsa as the Shock kept it wicked close (yah, I know, we’ve heard that story before, right?) until Maya  scored 13 of her 40pts (her 11th 30+ game this season) in the final 5 minutes.

She’s just that good….Elena Delle Donne scores 21 points in Sky’s victory vs. Mystics

Fowles had her ninth double-double of the season with 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Delle Donne came off the bench to score 21 points on 7-for-12 shooting in just less than 161/2 minutes. It was her second game back 
after missing 17 of the previous 18 because of a flare-up of Lyme disease. The Sky went 5-12 without her.

‘‘[The lungs are] feeling a little better than the last game,’’ Delle Donne said. ‘‘I think it’s just going to be something I continue to build on but just play into it since obviously we have so many games right now.’’

…even at well below 100% : Patricia Babcock McGraw: Delle Donne returns, but her battle continues

The plastic jug Sky forward Elena Delle Donne kept sipping from during a win Thursday night looked like it contained orange Gatorade.

Turns out it was Pedialyte, the substance parents turn to when they fear dehydration in their babies or toddlers.

“I was like a little kid out there,” Delle Donne said with a laugh.

It was good to see Delle Donne laugh, and smile, and joke around. It’s been awhile. What this 24-year-old woman has been through the last two months is heartbreaking.

Welcome back, coach Cooper! Sorry your team didn’t win.

And yes:  2h 2 sizes 2 small! RT : As we head towards the playoffs, The Eastern Conference is tighter than a pair of Spanx!!

The sisters Ogwumike went at it again, and it certainly was a better game than their earlier game. Both were their team’s high scorer, but it was Toliver who decided the winner.

“Man, this (stinks),” Chiney Ogwumike said. “It is really painful. But at the same time, we play a lot of young players, and I guess in order to win as a team and to deserve the wins, you have to go through these pains. It (stinks). It really hurts now. But you move on to the next. We have another game in 48 hours. I don’t know how to fathom that right now.”

Parker, who returned from a strained left knee that kept her out the previous two games, had nine points, four rebounds and four steals.

Toliver was 0-for-6 from the field before her final shot.

By the way, with a handful of games left, the battle for the final two spots in the West is kinda spanx-y – especially with Seattle taking down the Stars.

Thanks, Jayda: Transcript: Karen Bryant’s farewell speech as longtime Storm executive

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Kristi Toliver’s career speaks volumes about life as a women’s basketball player

On May 6, in an office at the Department of Domestic Affairs in Bratislava, Kristi Toliver — Virginia-born, Maryland-educated, as American as jazz — swallowed hard, signed some documents and swore, on her “honor and conscience,” to be a faithful and upstanding citizen of the Slovak Republic. A process that had been more than a year in the making was completed in a day and a half. Soon, she was in possession of a Slovak passport, now a dual U.S.-Slovak citizen. She was, at least for basketball purposes, a European.

As she boarded her flight back to the States, she was the same Kristi, but everything felt different. Behind her was another winter-spring season of Russian professional ball, ahead was another summer season with the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA.

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Not.

And I’m sure it hurts more ’cause the Storm escaped the Shock, 62-60. There’s no doubt Tulsa IS better, but they’re still 0-5. 

“We just need to continue to work hard,” Shock coach Fred Williams said. “It’s better being in close games than blowouts. I think this team is really learning over the course of the season. We’re a team that when we step on the floor, we want to be competitive for 40 minutes and I think we’re establishing that right now.”

If Cappie and Tina can get into a groove at the same time, and the team can figure out how to stop turning the ball over and giving the opposition easy baskets, then maybe people will be concerned about Lib. Until then, they can’t beat a Tamika-less Fever. (And, after a nice opening game v. Chicago, I’m getting worried about Essence.) In the meantime, Sue Favor is writing about Delisha Milton: Veteran Delisha Milton-Jones still a factor in the WNBA

Proving the adage “it’s not how much you score but WHEN you score,” Ivory Latta helped the Mystics to an important triple-overtime win over visiting Los Angeles. Of note:

Led by Hartley and Dolson, the Mystics reserves outscored their counterparts 63-10. Monique Currie and Jelena Milovanovic each scored 12 points.

Also, Toliver is saying Здравствуйте! for a while (She’s doin’ professional basketball stuff in another country.) Tough for LA – ’cause Candice Wiggins just had knee surgery.

Not quite the start to the season the Dream were hoping for, but I’m betting they had a win marked in their calendars when they went up against the oh-so-struggling Sun. Whoops.

Maya cooled off… a bit (“only” 18 points). But Seimone picked up the slack (25pts), helping the Lynx fend of the troublesome Stars.

Debbie Antonelli was happy. The Merc scored 100 and the Sky score 101.

And look who’s going to be on the *gack* Bachelorette tonight?

Mechelle’s got something to say: Lynx still No. 1, but East teams climb

The Lynx appear to be in cruise control already, while the Shock are looking for a little stretch of home cooking to help them get off the schneid. Those are our first and last teams in the Week 3 WNBA power rankings, the same as a week ago. In between, though, there were some big moves. (We’re looking at you, Washington and Indiana.)

As June gets underway and WNBA teams really start to jell, things will get interesting. Expect more movement. But will someone strongly challenge the defending champion Lynx? Well, they play five of their next six games on the road, so we’ll see.

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Atlanta Dream Forward Sancho Lyttle Undergoes Successful Surgery, Will Miss 6-8 Weeks.

Speaking of “littles,” after the WUG’s littles did a superb job against the Russian’s bigs and won gold, it’s now the young’uns turn: USA U19 Women conduct first practice in Lithuania.

WATN? Former Purdue star Katie Gearlds takes 1st head coaching job at Marian University

Ouch: Diggins.

More ouch: Griner.

Jayda talks to da Rooth: WNBA Talk: Atlanta Dream’s Ruth Riley

Mechelle on the impact of Harding and Toliver on L.A.’s backcourt

Los Angeles guard Kristi Toliver always has had that one particular grin on court that makes me think of a little kid who just grabbed two extra cookies when nobody was watching.

It’s not obnoxious or mocking or dastardly. It’s just … well, I guess you could call it mildly, mischievously gleeful. Like, “Ha! Threaded that pass!” or “Hee hee! Nailed that shot!”

Whenever Toliver was having a good time on the court, you could tell. Conversely, when she was not happy, that was pretty obvious, too. But the even-keeled Kristi — the one who has become more and more reliable for her competitive consistency, whether her shots are dropping — actually is a regular presence these days.

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’cause it’s time to bring it v. the Lynx.  (Remember this from the 20th of September: Sparks deliver warning shot to Lynx)

And that’s not just because the game is on ABC at 3:30pm and there might be a national audience. It’s because if you don’t, you’re out.

It’s the lovely — and tough — reality of the WNBA playoffs. It’s tough to get a narrative going with the short series. But it sure does ramp up the pressure and tension. We’ll see if, as Mechelle writes, Lynx have Sparks on their heels

Candace Parker was irritated by her team’s indecisive pick-and-roll defense and lack of overall fight. DeLisha Milton-Jones saw a deficient sense of urgency. Alana Beard thought the Sparks didn’t defend or rebound well enough to get their all-important transition game going. Kristi Toliver felt the Sparks started the game back on their heels, and never recovered.

Coach Carol Ross noticed all of the above, along with delivering the quintessential coach’s line, “I’m going to have to look at film to review it all, but …”

It was bad, period. However, it’s because the Sparks are such a good team that they can be that blunt about it.

From the Star Tribune: Rebound machine Rebekkah Brunson keeps on chugging and Coach applauds Whalen for playing through pain.

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Unless, of course, you’re the LA Sparks and have to play your opening round at Galen. No never mind, though, as the SASS will have to stew on their way back to San Antonio, as they saw their lead slip away into a LA win.

At the Casino, life was probably a little more interesting than the Sun wanted, what with New York hanging around until the end, but Tina’s points made the difference and the Sun won their first playoff game since ’08. (Yikes!) Oh, and Carolyn, honestly, wear the bloody reading glasses. You’re IQ will go up 50 points if you’re not improvising because you can’t read what someone else wrote for you.

How Slam Online do in their preview? WNBA Playoff Preview Who will reign victorious in the first round of the WNBA Playoffs?

Looking at tonight, Mechelle says: Seattle’s identity still taking shape and Jayda adds: As playoffs begin, Storm healthy but still a bit unsure.  There’s a little more optimism here: Storm rested, ready to test mettle in playoffs

From the Runner Up MVP: Tamika Catchings would love to add WNBA title to sterling resume

The Pioneer Press says For Minnesota Lynx’s title defense, mum’s the word,

the Lynx site is busy Breaking Down The Lynx’s Record-Setting Regular Season, Fox Sports has Old and new mesh well for WNBA’s Lynx, while Sports Page Magazine offers As playoffs begin, coaches assess the West.  

LSU pays attention to their alum: Augustus, Hightower Set for WNBA Playoffs as does PSU: Storm and Former Lady Lion Standout Wright Open WNBA Playoffs Friday and the Blue Raiders: Alysha Clark and Seattle Storm open WNBA Playoffs on Friday

In the awards derby:

Hays: Charles wins MVP, thanks Thibault

Kara Lawson Receives 2012 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award

Sun’s Montgomery earns Sixth Woman Award

Smith: Toliver transforms into MIP

This from WaPo: Former Terrapin Kristi Toliver, eases up and excels for WNBA’s Sparks

During her first three seasons in the WNBA, former Maryland all-American Kristi Toliverfaced a more formidable adversary than any opponent wearing a different jersey: her own internally corrosive passion.

This year, however, Toliver began to dilute the more acidic aspects of her intensity. As a result, the guard had her best season as a professional and played a vital role in helping the Los Angeles Sparks reach the WNBA playoffs.

From those teams not playing:

Voepel: Magical for Merc but not Mystics

Hays: Behind-the-scenes with Washington

Hays: Gaines on Griner, prospects

From Fox Sports: Griner’s skills tower over compatibility issues and from Swish Appeal: Is Phoenix Ready For Brittney Griner?

And from Hoopfeed: How to “fix” the WNBA Draft Lottery Problem

From the College ranks:

Out of Sacto: California law will aid hurt athletes

Out of Connecticut: A Lobster Tail. Tale: This one’s above and beyond basketball

This is the story of someone’s Warholian 15 minutes. And how it morphed into a narrative of inspiration. And how it reminds us, during this season of playoffs, pigskins and pennant races, that sports are for win or lose, not life or death.

It has particular relevance here on the day the WNBA Playoffs begin and women’s basketball goes national again for a few weeks. This is one the nation needs to know: How humanity transcends the rivalry in the country’s only two outposts where women’s basketball is part of the culture.

Here is the two-minute drill version: A little girl in Niantic asked a man named Don MacKenzie to save an 80-year-old, 17-pound lobster from what would become a date with a bib and butter. And now somewhere around $5,000 has been raised from Connecticut to the Pat Summitt Foundation.

No, really

The Pacer at UT-Martin has: Pat Head Summitt: The story behind the women’s basketball legend

Out of UT Knoxville: Bashaara Graves loves her hometown, and Lady Vols

Also out of UT Knoxville — you knew this was coming: Debby Jennings files suit against UT for ‘unlawful discrimination’; says Pat Summitt was told she would not return as coach

From the Richmond Times: Offseason attrition makes VCU’s women’s basketball coach road rockier

From Naples, Fl: FGCU notebook: Women’s hoops ready to work

A little WATN? in Boiler-land: Wisdom-Hylton rejoins Purdue women’s basketball program

An update from the Illini: Tate: Bollant builds support system

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Or, in my case, while you were putting out fires at work, editing a chapter, reading thesi…thesettes? many thesises? and tromping through upstate New York with a surprising lack of internet access…

WhadImiss?

Well, if you’re a Lib or Seattle fan, not much. Ouch.

If you’re a Shock fan, you missed by a hair.

If your last name is Toliver, you missed being excoriated for your voluminous turnovers because you didn’t miss the shot.

If you’re Minnesota, you’re barely missing a beat, even when you have a hiccup.

If you’re a Washington fan, you’re missing the good old days of Julie Plank.

If you’re Phoenix, dang, you’re missing players whose name last name starts with T.

If you’re a Dream fan, you’re not missing much sleep, ’cause Angel is rockin’ and the Price is right.

If you’re a Sky fan, you’re thinkin’ “We’re not missing the playoffs this year!”

If you’re an Indy fan, you’re thinking, “Gee, when we’re not missing our star player, we’re pretty good!”

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decided by one point or two points and neither of them involved the Tulsa win, would you be surprised?

Prolly. Tulsa didn’t just win, they stomped (great photo). And, even better, they stomped (Over a 14 1/2-minute span, the Shock outscored the Sun 43-13) in front of their fans.

“Everyone who played contributed to this win, everyone,” said Swoopes, who hit the winning jumper in final seconds of a 77-75 victory at Los Angeles on Friday night. “To get a home win for our crowd was great. They have supported us throughout the losing streak.”

A great three by Prince, and a poorly designed final play by the Lib, and it was Chicago eking out the win and saying, “We’re not dead, yet!”

Seattle did everything they could to give the Sparks a win but, in the end, a Toliver foul sent Bird to the free throw line and Seattle escaped with a 65-63 victory.

Danielle Adams couldn’t help the SASS (remember that 7-1 start?) as Minnesota surged, and then held on, to take a 85-75 win and clinch a playoff spot and, more importantly, the top seed in the West.

‘To be able to clinch in a timely manner, especially with five games left is great,”  said guard Seimone Augustus, who led the Lynx with 20 points. “We now have an opportunity to tweak some things in the last few games that we have and get ready for the postseason. ”

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the WNBAlien for: 06/19/2011: Mystics are Shocking

Just the one WNBA game last night, and that was unfortunate. Because this was one I could’ve happily glossed over if there were any other games to pay attention to. Nevertheless, Tulsa fans will be delirious at getting off the schneid with a home win over Washington, and they didn’t even have to bite their fingernails as the minutes ran down. Mystics supporters, on the other hand, probably won’t be reading this. They’ll be trying to forget.

and 06/20/2011: Blowouts and Beginnings?

Another quadruple-game day yesterday, and three of them ended up in blowouts of one description or another, so let’s start with the only one that didn’t. Indiana visited Phoenix, the last team left in the league without a win (and it’s kind of embarrassing to lag behind Tulsa, even if the Merc had played three games fewer than the Shock due to the quirky WNBA schedule). The Mercury were desperate for a win to get their season started, and after being held to a miserable 54 points on 29% shooting by the Storm in their previous game, the Fever will have been salivating at the prospect of facing some nice friendly Phoenix ‘defense’.

In “other blogger” news… well, dabnabbit, I can’t seem to click in to them! Too far away to reach, I guess. I can get to Swish Appeal and, as always, they’ve got some great stuff:

2011 WNBA Sixth Woman Of The Year: Top 10 Early Season Candidates
Kristi Toliver Leads Dominant Los Angeles Sparks Bench Effort Against The Seattle Storm
Ranking the WNBA Sophomores – Week 1
Charles Puts on a Show in Sun’s Victory
Dream fall to bottom of East with Father’s Day loss against Lynx
Tulsa Shock Notches First Win of 2011: A Story of 40 Minutes of Teamwork

Oh, and make sure you start your day right by checking Kim’s WBBall Daily News page.

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