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A quick measuring stick as she starts her W career and everyone prepares to support her. Below’s a list of stats for

  • #1 picks.
  • Who were identified as centers, even if they can play a little 4. Yes, Janel as a “center” is pushing it, and Wauters, Dydek and Leslie were what I’d call “experienced” centers… but hey, it’s what I’ve got.
  • Used Basketball-Reference.com for the stats.

If anyone wants to look up their stats for theri first games, send’em on over.

2013 Brittney Griner 
First season
27 games. 26 minutes. 12.6/6.3 rebs.

2010 Tina Charles
First season
34 games. 31 minutes. .487. 15.5/11.7 rebs

2005 Janel McCarville
First season
28 games. 3 start. 11.1 minutes. .340%. 1.8/2.7.

2001 Lauren Jackson
First season
29 games. 34.5 minutes. .367%. 15.2/6.7 rebs.

2000 Ann Wauters
First season
32 games. No starts. 18.7 minutes. 523%. 6.2/4rebs.

1998 Margo Dydek
First season
30 games. 28 minutes. .482%. 12.9/7.6

1997 Lisa Leslie
First season
28 games. 32 minutes. .431%. 15.9/9.5 rebs

Meanwhile…

Man, I love how Minneapolis covers the Lynx. (Excited at the amount of coverage the Wings have gotten, too)

A fresh approach for Lynx point guard Lindsay Whalen: The Lynx veteran guard stayed home this offseason to recharge after an injury-riddled 2015 season

For weeks Lindsay Whalen did, basically, nothing. And it was glorious.

All of November and half of December, Whalen, the Lynx guard, once and future Olympian, former Gophers star and Minnesota’s favorite daughter, rested. She didn’t go to the team’s facility. For the first time in a decade she didn’t go overseas to play.

She didn’t do any basketball stuff at all.

Lynx forward Brunson ready to start after recent arrival and Healthy, excited Augustus happy to rejoin Lynx

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the less said about the Liberty game last night, the better (which is my excuse for the original headline typo. gak.). During the “game”, I did have a lovely chat with a with a couple of gentlemen – one of whom had been a basketball coach in Boston year’s back. Fun listening to what they saw happening on the court.

As voiced by my Garden neighbors, our biggest concern was that the egg the team just laid might move Indiana down into fourth – and no one wants to play Catchings in the playoffs… in her next-to-last (last – thx L.E. Brain freeze.) season… even if the Fever are on a 50-50 stretch lately. This Sunday’s games will settle the East, ’cause the Fever won yesterday.

Playoffs:

New York vs. Washington or Indiana

  • Game 1 – Friday, September 18, Washington or Indiana at New York, 7 p.m., NBA TV
  • Game 2 – Sunday, September 20, New York at Washington or Indiana, 1 p.m., ESPN
  • Game 3 – Tuesday, September 22, Washington or Indiana at New York*, TBD, ESPN2

Chicago vs. Indiana or Washington

  • Game 1 – Thursday, September 17, Indiana or Washington at Chicago, 8 p.m, ESPN2
  • Game 2 – Saturday, September 19, Chicago at Indiana or Washington, 7 p.m., NBA TV
  • Game 3 – Monday, September 21, Indiana or Washington at Chicago*, 8 p.m., NBA TV

Western Conference

Minnesota vs. Los Angeles

  • Game 1 – Friday, September 18, Los Angeles at Minnesota, 9 p.m., NBA TV
  • Game 2 – Sunday, September 20, Minnesota at Los Angeles, 3 p.m., ESPN
  • Game 3 – Tuesday, September 22, Los Angeles at Minnesota*, TBD, ESPN2

Phoenix vs. Tulsa

  • Game 1 – Thursday, September 17, Tulsa at Phoenix, 10 p.m., ESPN2
  • Game 2 – Saturday, September 19, Phoenix at Tulsa, 9 pm., NBA TV
  • Game 3 – Monday, September 21, Tulsa at Phoenix*, 10 p.m. ET, NBA TV

At ESPN, M&M offer their picks for the end of the season award winners.

David talks to Ros on Dishin’ & Swishin’ to answer the question: “Are the Liberty the Best Team in the WNBA?”

History Heads Up for tomorrows Connecticut Sun/Chicago Sky game: Joanne Lannin will have a table on the concourse before, during, and after the game, where she’ll be selling and signing her book Finding a Way to Play. Drop by and visit!

ALSO, if you want to buy a last-minute ticket to the game at the box office, mention Lannin’s name and say you are part of her “group” and you’ll get a discount ($10 for a $22 seat).

Speaking of (Naismith Hall of Fame) history: Lisa, Lisa, Lisa.

When Lisa Leslie enters the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Friday, she will do so as one of the greatest WNBA basketball players of all time. 

Leslie won the WNBA MVP award three times and was named to the All-WNBA first team in eight seasons. Her Los Angeles Sparks teams won the WNBA title twice. In 2002, she became the first player in the league’s history to dunk. 

Leslie – along with a group of players around since the inception of the league like Sheryl Swoopes, Rebecca Lobo and Teresa Witherspoon [sic] – is part of the fabric of the WNBA. She’s a major reason the league was successful, and the league was a major reason Leslie’s profile made her internationally recognizable during her career. 

However, none of that was clear when Leslie entered the new league in 1997 and joined the Los Angeles Sparks. 

WATN? Pee Wee Johnson named Coker women’s basketball coach

Former WNBA all-star and Olympic gold medalist Shannon Johnson was named head women’s basketball coach at Coker College.

Johnson returns to her hometown to lead the NCAA Division II program after four seasons as assistant at Northwestern State.

WATN? Cleveland Rockers: Toreros Add Mery Andrade to Coaching Staff

Sending healing thoughts: Cancer battle sidelines longtime Corcoran girls basketball coach Jim Marsh

For the first time in 32 seasons, Jim Marsh won’t be on the bench for the Corcoran High School girls basketball program.

The 54-year-old coach, whose teams have won eight Section III titles and two state championships, is in a battle with Stage 4 liver cancer.

It’s a fight in which school administrators, fellow coaches and teachers, and scores of former players and students all are pulling for a victory for Marsh, whose 493 careers wins at Corcoran are the most by a girls basketball coach in Section III.

From the Players’ Tribune: Sugar Rogers.

I’m going to tell you something I haven’t even told most of my New York Liberty teammates. When I go to bed at night, I triple check the lock on my door. Then I slide a chair in front of the door. Then I keep the TV on mute to keep me company while I fall asleep. 

I’m still dealing with anxiety from something that happened to me when I went back to visit my family in the South. A relative who I am very close to had just moved out of the projects and into a nice neighborhood. Let’s call her Tanya. She’s a little older than me — she’s 29, and I’m 25. So Tanya’s three young kids are like my nieces and nephews. It was a big deal for the kids to get out of the public housing atmosphere. When I got down there, they were all excited to show me the house. 

I was asleep on a couch in the living room when I heard their side door slam. Bam. It shook me awake. My first thought was that it was Tanya’s boyfriend coming home. But then I pulled out my phone and I saw the time: 3:49 a.m. For some reason, I’ll never forget that. Years and years of survival instincts took over and I thought, Uh oh. This isn’t right. 

When I rolled over and looked toward the back door, I saw a man in a red hoodie holding a gun. He walked towards the couch. Behind him, another man held a machine gun.

Also from PT: Full Court and  Liberty 1440.

In the second episode of 1440, we follow four New York Liberty players on a rare occasion: an off day. From mini golf with Kiah Stokes’ mom, to a Brooklyn museum with Candice Wiggins, to a charity event hosted by Epiphanny Prince and back on the court with Sugar Rodgers, each player decompresses and regenerates in their own, personal way.

And more: Swin Cash, City Kids

And more: Jewell Loyd, Going Home

And more: Real Fan Life: Layshia Clarendon and Jeremy Sisto

And more: 

In the latest installment of Players’ POV, New York Liberty players and WNBA veterans Swin Cash, Tanisha Wright and Essence Carson speak personally on race, gender and the visibility of all professional female athletes, from media coverage and stereotypes, to the need for diversity and inclusion. 

Theirs is a message for all.

One would hope that it would be a “message for all,” but there’s no guarantee “all” will hear it. Women’s Basketball fans, players, coaches, journalists, parents have encountered the fear-based misogyny, homophobia and racism that comes with being associated with women’s athletics. It’s amazing how insecure folks are when their perceived “norm” within an established power structure is challenged. There are some who can’t just “not like” women’s sports. They feel the need to insult, attack and demean all those involved (Flashing back, in this “Summer of Female Athletes,” to that aptly titled classic – “The Stronger Women Get, the More Men Love Football.” And, of course, we know that this fear-based cowardice is not a uniquely male territory).

That need to demean and insult is one of the reasons I don’t have comments on this blog. But, folks can email me, because I believe in dialogue. Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to get lots of lovely notes (and news links), some spam and very little trash. Recently, I engaged a sad excuse for a human being who inhabited the twitter-sphere. Why? Because he wished something particularly vicious upon Serena Williams. It read as a form of instigation/inspiration to other hate-mongers  – and there are too many examples of people reading that dreck and taking it upon themselves to put thoughts into action.

Secondly, I took further action against this quivering ball of misogyny because he’d identified himself an aspiring journalist and contributor to an area news service. AND he was stupid enough to name that organization (as well as his current “alleged” employer, Genentech, a company he claims could care too hoots about employees publicly wishing death on female athletes.)

I am very aware that what say I as “Helen, basketball fan and opinonator” in my itty-bitty space in the social media world is connected to my role in my professional world. It amazes me that others forget that – even as example after example play out in today’s news. Besides, media outlets are under enough pressure to survive – they don’t need the kind of attention the original tweet was drawing… So, I wrote a polite note to his sport editor about the twit-comment, suggesting that have a conversation with his employee about professionalism and the fact that “What happens on social media stays on social media.” The news outlet responded quite quickly (seems, despite his claim, it had been a long time since the twitter-author had been a contributor) and promised to take action.

No surprise, being held accountable for his public hate-think upset this poor twitter-putz. So, of course, he sent me an email full of attempts to insult me. But, honestly, I just had to laugh because they were sooooooo old-school-lame. And I quote:

blah, blah, blah an old, lonely cat lady blah, blah, blah anything to keep you busy and make you feel connected to the actual world blah, blah, blah uppity feminist pain in the ass blah, blah, blah reporting’ about women who look like men, struggling to make lay ups and simple bounce passes blah, blah, blah easier to win when you are built like a man blah, blah, blah you probably just need to get laid blah, blah, blah

I mean really, aren’t you tempted to send him that “How to be a Racist, Misogynistic Homophobe in the 2010’s” handbook that gets passed around in certain man-caves? Might not help, though, cause it’s clear none of what he’d heard during the Walter Cronkite seminars he allegedly attended seems to have stuck.

Anyway, this is just to that, as a slightly wise, semi-old, very un-lonely cat lady with plenty to do in the actual world, I embrace being an “uppity feminist pain in the ass.” (Hmm, is there another t-shirt in the making?). I will continue to reporting about women executing fabulous feats of athleticism on the court. I will celebrate the fact that there are other men and women who embrace the female athlete’s embodiment of physical strength and determination. And I will do all that knowing it has absolutely no impact on my sex life.

But I also know what I encountered is just a fraction of what others experience on a daily basis. And that not everyone can be resilient in the face of such bone-deep, destructive and irrational hate.

So I encourage all who can to acknowledge, address, and engage those who use cruelty to tear down what they fear (in themselves and in the world). Embrace all those who make up our community. Be an ally. Be a resource. Be a supporter.

Because, if we do, in the end the scoreboard will read: #FearStrikesOut and #LoveWins.

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… a hard working, fast-paced, everyone plays kinda of team (and no Isiah Thomas in the house), but i know better than to trust early W returns. Yes, the win vs. the Dream was against a team with its full compliment of players, but the same cannot be said for the W’s v. Phoenix and Indy.

That being said, Tina is playing like she gives a hoot about basketball, Essence is playing like her body is 100%, and Boyd is bringing a Becky-esque energy to the floor. And we’re undefeated at home. Can’t ask or much more than that…except, maybe, Piph returning early and healthy.

The Dream – everyone’s “with caveats” anointed Eastern champ stumbled badly out of the gate. They seemed to have regained their footing, coming away with a tough win over the Mystics, who had been galloping out of the gates.

Speaking of galloping, how about the Connecticut Sun? Most folks didn’t think they even had a horse in the race!

Storm warnings in Seattle, as Loyd and Mosqueda-Lewis discover just how hard it is to adjust to the WNBA’s skill level and pace.

Catch and Shavonte are working herself back into both sides of the lineup and Indiana is happy.

It’s not easy being Cardinal: Former Stanford players get WNBA season off to rough start

For an overview on the season so far, check out Jeff House in da house. 

Scatter shooting around the W, after the opening weekend of games, and there were a few games that catch the eye and make me say, “Hmmmm.”

Pitt’s McConnell-Serio embraces new rules for women’s basketballGary Blair Reacts To NCAA Women’s Basketball Rule Changes  and Mike Strange: Men’s basketball should be watching women’srule changes

If there’s a wall, build around it: Muslim Girls Design Their Own Culturally Appropriate Basketball Uniforms

WBHOF: 

When Door Opened For Women’s League, Lisa Leslie Walked Through It

Lisa Leslie, former OSU coach Kurt Budke among inductees into Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame

On the day before the Fever honor Lauren, she’s Honored By Indiana Basketball Hall Of Fame

A woman who never even met the late Lauren Hill was so touched by her story that she donated an engraved brick in her name to the the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. The brick reads: “Lauren Hill: Hero.”

Swoop, there it goes: Nike (NKE) Becomes Exclusive Oncourt Apparel Provider for the NBA, WNBA

Long-term NCAA planning: 

The pre-season WNIT field is set.

Not yet set is the Maggie Dixon Classic at MSG… but rumors include Kentucky and UConn. Maybe we can break 180 WHB tixs??

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Glory drops two bombs. 1) “My version of the altercation.” 2) I’m pregnant.

I’m not looking forward to what’s next.

Nothing soap opera-y about this bomb: NCAA charges North Carolina with five Level I violations in Notice of Allegations

“From 2007-2010, Boxill provided the women’s basketball team with a myriad of impermissible academic assistance, ranging from adding a conclusion or quotation into an athlete’s paper to turning the paper in for the player and requesting a specific grade.”

Who, us?

This will help clean the bad taste out of your mouth: Tina Charles:

For the 2015-2016 WNBA season, I am donating half my salary to Hopey’s Heart Foundation. Join me in doubling my impact in AED placement by pledging any dollar amount per rebound I receive in any game of your choice for the 2015-2016 WNBA regular season! The season begins June 5th 2015! Help me take action for sudden cardiac arrest with placement of AEDs through HHF AED grant program. To pledge – Link in bio! #LettheBeatgoOn #DontLikePLEDGE! ((Hopey’s Heart Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. Contributions are deductible to the extent permitted by law.))

From the W:

WNBA team season preview capsules

Dishin & Swishin 6/04/15 Podcast: The roundtable looks at the 2015 WNBA season

Chicago hopes to build on last year’s WNBA Finals appearance

A trip to the WNBA Finals last season has left Elena Delle Donne and the Chicago Sky hungry for more.

The Sky had never won a playoff series before last year when they advanced to the finals. The Sky managed to get into the postseason as the four seed with a 15-19 record. Chicago got healthy at the right time to make their run.

From Mechelle: Sky need big year from Delle Donne

No one could really blame you if you turned off what became Elena Delle Donne’s signature WNBA game in August before it was over.

Because, hey, it seemed over early in the fourth quarter. Delle Donne’s Chicago team, which got into the 2014 playoffs as the No. 4 seed with a 15-19 record, was on its way to being dismissed by top-seeded Atlanta in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Arizona: Mistie Bass back from surgery, looks for increased role with Mercury

Indiana: Tamika Catchings managing fourth quarter of her career

5 Reasons to Watch in 2015: Minnesota Lynx

The Minnesota Lynx missed out on the WNBA Finals for the first time in three seasons last year, falling to the Phoenix Mercury in three games in the Western Conference Finals. Much of that roster returns in 2015 as the Lynx look to reclaim their spot atop the Western Conference.

Head coach Cheryl Reeve has only endured one losing season in Minnesota since taking over in 2010. Since then, the Lynx have won two WNBA titles (2011, 2013). This year, they’re in good position to do it again.

Maya Moore still chasing perfection

If you’re a betting person: Lynx the preseason favorite in the West

The Western Conference has been the power center of the WNBA for the past five years. The place where the superstars compete for and win championships.

But it is also now the place where some of the league’s best young talents are poised to make their breakouts: Nneka Ogwumike in Los Angeles, Kayla McBride in San Antonio, Skylar Diggins and Odyssey Sims in Tulsa and, of course, the Seattle rookie combination of Jewell Loyd and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis.

If you’re a daring betting person: Atlanta a slight favorite in the East

Asked what he expected of the Eastern Conference this season, Washington’s Mike Thibault spoke from his 12 years’ experience as a head coach in the East.

“It’s wide-open,” said Thibault, entering his third season with the Mystics after 10 with Connecticut. “Some of it depends on injuries. Some depends on teams who’ll be without players for various reasons. So it’s kind of, who can survive those games while key players are gone? I think it will go right down to the wire.”

Lisa changes her tune: Isiah Thomas should not be in charge of women’s team

On SI Now, 2015 Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Lisa Leslie discusses why she believes Isiah Thomas’ hiring was out of the WNBA’s hands and how the fans could put pressure on the New York Liberty to fire him.

More good news: USA Men and Women Finish First Day Undefeated At FIBA 3×3 U18 World Championship

About those moving vans:

Former WSU women’s basketball players transfer to UNO

With key additions, USC women’s basketball hopes to remain a title contender

EWU women’s basketball losing seven players

SDSU Womens Basketball Signs St. John’s Transfer

WATN? Gardner-Webb University names former Tar Heel DeGraffenreid women’s basketball assistant

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Sorry, but you should not be “cool with it.

I have no issue at all with ex-NBA players/coaches being part of the WNBA. In many instances, we have reaped the benefits of their wisdom and professional experience (and yes, in some instances, they’ve been awful.)

But, Thomas is a disaster – as a human AND a basketball coach-executive. There is nothing “cool” about this.

Just look at the all-but-universal reaction:

Forbes: Isiah Thomas Returns To New York To Run WNBA Liberty, But He Never Really Left The Garden

Only Dolan could bring Thomas in to run his WNBA New York Liberty, and sell him a part of the team, eight years after a jury ruled that Thomas improperly fired a woman executive for complaining about his unwanted advances. The jury ruled for the executive, Anucha Browne Sanders, and entitled her to $11.6 million in damages.

Washington Post: Isiah Thomas named New York Liberty president despite past allegations of sexual harassment– um… WaPo, nothin’ “alleged” about it.

The New York Post: Only James Dolan would entrust a WNBA team to sexual harasser

The first reaction, honestly, when you see the news release, or when you see the item show up on your Twitter feed, is this: Funny or Die has just posted a new video on its site, Will Ferrell playing James Dolan, Jay Pharoah as Isiah Thomas, and for four or five minutes, they riff on the sheer absurdity of Isiah working in the WNBA.

More from the Post: James Dolan gives Isiah Thomas yet another chance

From SBNation : Isiah Thomas is becoming GM of the Liberty because he will never ever go away

Here are my thoughts on this:

1. Why

2. Go away

3. Even putting aside their friendship, I’m impressed James Dolan would still give Isiah Thomas such a job. Dolan has almost certainly just condemned his WNBA team. Isiah has never done a good job running a basketball enterprise, and he’s done it at pretty much every level that exists. And, ya know, sexual harassment. That happened in *this* organization. And now he’s moving to the WNBA side. Objectively bad hire, worst possible PR, and borderline inhumane to all the women in that organization. It’s like the golden sombrero of staffing.

Yahoo: Isiah Thomas is taking over the WNBA’s New York Liberty, which is stunning

Even if you set aside the sexual harassment suit and attendant claims, though — and I don’t believe you should — there’s plenty of purely-basketball-specific cause for head-scratching and concern on this hire. Thomas was an amazing basketball player, a Hall of Fame point guard who dominated despite being the smallest guy on the floor. He was Chris Paul before Chris Paul. Since hanging up his high-tops, though, his hoops career has been an unqualified disaster … and yet, Dolan just keeps calling his number.

And wow… just look at the reaction on the Liberty’s Facebook page. Talk about a total fail! Heck, even the New York Times (not just Harvey) is paying attention (yes, they know my email. Don’t I feel special!)

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It’s been a busy weekend for WBHOF inductee Lisa Leslie.

She was visiting with Spain and Prim to talk Final Four and Geno. She then spoke with Swish Appeal to do a Final Four preview, discuss the Sparks’ offseason (what? they’re loaded!), talk about the “What’s in Your Wallet” Capital One Cup.

The award recognizes universities for their broad athletic success. That means the Cup’s standings are based not just on the major media attention-grabbers like basketball and football, but sports like gymnastics, water polo, volleyball and field hockey – which explains why North Dakota State, New Hampshire and BYU are in the running with the “big dogs.” A total of $400,000 is granted to be used to further the education of the student athletes. Leslie has been on the Capital One Cup advisory board for four years.

Speaking of being on boards, more congrats to Leslie, as she is now  making plans to visit Massachusetts to be inducted as a member of the Naismith Hall of Fame.

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From Jere’ at the New York Times: W.N.B.A. Hopes Griner Can Change Perceptions, As Well as Game Itself

Another question is whether Griner will become as transformative off the court as she has been on the court.

Even before she plays her first game, her influence has been significant. A decade ago, W.N.B.A. officials might have been reluctant to celebrate as a standard-bearer of the league someone who did not conform to conventional standards of femininity, said Mary Jo Kane, the director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota.

“You cannot ignore her athleticism, and the W.N.B.A. has not tried to isolate or marginalize Griner,” Kane said.

“That is a rather remarkable and fundamental shift.”

Yes, says Jayda, Griner is going No. 1, but another Texas-based player is excited for the future of the league:

“The exposure that our game on the collegiate level has gotten has done really good things to our game as a whole,” said Kelsey Bone, a Texas A&M center who’s expected to be a top-five pick. “The notoriety that’s coming into this league, when you talk about the day and age of modern technology, will give the WNBA a chance to put the game on another level nationally.”

Based on league history, however, perhaps “Wait and See” would be a better tag.

I’l agree — for the moment, ’cause I want to see the advertisements that support the phrase. Too often it seems the league plays it safe and won’t take risks — as if it’s not actually confident in the product it’s marketing. In fact, in the past, it’s been the merchandise endorsement folks who’ve had the most memorable WNBA ads.

Who can forget the classic Nike Little Rascals, who combined humor, sass and a knowledge of the game.

“Coop needs to know.”

“Pumps are for EX-players.”

“Momma can’t help your jump shot.”

Remember the ads that assumed the audience’s knowledge of a player’s on-court skill.

There was  Sue Bird’s American Express commercial?

How about Taurasi for 8 O’Clock Coffee?

Here’s my suggestion: reunite the original rascals — or pick a new smarty-pants trio — and craft 15 seconds of brilliance that highlights the current and incoming players skills and personality. For instance:

(At a restaurant, where she leans over to hand someone a napkin they dropped. Three teenagers, in WNBA jerseys, look at her. Says one:) Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever. Five time winner of the Defensive Player of the Year award. People say you’re nice. Elena’s nice, too. But her game is nasty. You should studying game tape, not menus. Here are some notes on her game. You better get ready. Or you can wait and see.”

Or how about this for a promo?

(Voice over) Who’s got next?
*Show a Leslie dunk*
(A different voice over) No, who’s got next?
*Show a Parker dunk*
(A different voice over) Nooo, I wanna know, who’s got next?
*Show a Griner dunk*
(Shared amongst the three voices) Oh, yeah — I know, and I’ve got my season tickets. I can’t wait and to see it — live.
*montage of great plays*

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Nike: Make the Rules – Voices

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Speaking of the Final Four, from the NCAA (who can borrow my copy editor any time they want): Final Four rousing success – Title-game ratings highest since UConn, Tennesee (sic) in 2004

’cause it’s never too early to start talking about next season: Baylor planning for another perfect run

’cause there are still basketball tournaments goin’ on: Bianca Cuevas of Nazareth Regional HS and Exodus AAU team serves as face of the Rose Classic basketball tournament – Tournament officially begins next week

Following in the footsteps of such players as Prince — now playing overseas — and Prahalis — likely on her way to the WNBA — Cuevas, a sophomore at Nazareth Regional HS, has taken over as the torchbearer for the Classic, one of the most popular tournaments in the country for high school and AAU teams.

Riquna “BayBay” Williams shut down all her social media accounts for the time being and is not checking any women’s basketball sites on the Internet. The WNBA Draft is April 16, and Williams, the University of Miami senior guard, would rather not know what people are saying.

She realizes there might be questions out there after the school suspended her from the first two games of the NCAA Tournament for “behavior detrimental to the team.” Neither she nor coach Katie Meier have elaborated on what happened. Williams said it doesn’t help to think or talk about the past.

She’s a WNBA champion, but did you know this: : How I Found DonorsChoose

It was 2011 and it was the lowest point in my career; I was a WNBA All-Star, an Olympic gold medalist, but ACL surgery had stolen my body. In the midst of trying to get it back, I was forced to have an emergency hysterectomy. I didn’t make the world championship team. My father was diagnosed with MS. We missed the playoffs (again). Mentally and physically, I was struggling.

It was in my exit meeting that my Minnesota Lynx coach, Cheryl Reeves, challenged me: “What do you want your legacy to be?”

Speaking of the WNBA, Nate’s letting no moss grow anywhere as he has his 2012 WNBA Draft Prospects: Natalie Novosel & Evaluating Shooting Guard Statistics <

Hoopfeed has a new podcast that might offer insight into prospects: Dishin & Swishin 4/05/12 : WNBA coaches Agler, Kloppenburg & House break down the NCAA championship game.

This headline over at Swish Appeal made me laugh: Kim Mulkey, 2012 National Champions: “Well, you know at Baylor, they used to not let the Baptists dance. I bet they’re dancing now!”  At the Final Four, I sat in front of a newbie to basketball Baylor fan. She was very cute and wonderfully enthusiastic. She was joined by a friend on Tues, who then made the comment of the tourney during a timeout when the Bayor band/cheerleaders/dance team were performing: “I never thought I’d see Baylor girls dancing like that!”

Speaking of winning and Griner and the Olympics: Lisa Leslie says Brittney Griner deserves to be on the Olympic Roster

Speaking of the Olympics, regular readers of the blog will be pleased to know this: Jo Leedham from Little Sutton gets call for Olympic training

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how I feel about this article by Luke Cypher(on the journalism faculty at SUNY Plattsburgh): This time it’s different —  Is Skylar Diggins the game changer that women’s hoops has long prophesied?

Maya Moore was the future of women’s basketball. (Quick! What team does she play for now?) So was dunking phenom Candace Parker. Before them were the fiery Diana Taurasi, the lethally explosive Sheryl Swoopes and the glamorous Lisa Leslie — all of them projected to lead us to the promised land, a place where aging meatheads finally appreciate the beauty of women’s sports. But this time, we mean it. Skylar Diggins is changing the game.

She demands attention. On the court, the 5’9″ southpaw pushes the pace, finds the open teammate, gets in people’s faces, finishes in the paint, takes the big shot. At the end of March, Notre Dame was just another team chasing Tennessee and Connecticut. One week later, in a three-game stretch during March Madness, Diggins scored 24 points in an upset of Tennessee, 28 to upend top-seeded UConn in the Final Four and then 23 in Notre Dame’s loss to Texas A&M in the title game. Along the way, the TV audience for the 2011 NCAA women’s tournament increased by 16 percent from the previous year.

I guess all I can say is Diggins comes off better than the writer, who manages to dis the WNBA Champions Lynx and all who have paved the way before Diggins. And have some odd assertions (Notre Dame was just another team chasing Tennessee and Connecticut. really? Do you actually follow the women’s college game — ’cause it’s clear you don’t follow the pro game). I guess LeBron tweeting about you isn’t as sexy as Lil Wayne? Though, I bet writer Luke doesn’t know the OTHER player jersey Lil Wayne wore OR the team she plays for.

It’s not that I deny that the attractiveness of a female player can attract aging meatheads. It’s just that it kinda creeps me out. And I have yet to see any proof that those aging meatheads are appreciating the women’s game. Or that they’re going to stick around after their particular object of  “appreciation” graduates and plays for a team Luke can’t name.

Oh, and welcome to the challenges of the online world, student-athletes.

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Lisa, Lisa, Lisa

Honestly, what were you thinking.

I’m goin’ with what Cam said:

Frankly, Lisa Leslie is just pissed because Lisa thought the interview was to discuss “Leslians,” which are the horde of players (and coaches, announcers, and fans) who worship the ground upon which she walks. She assumed the interview would be to discuss the Leslians, as well know everyone in the league is a Leslian, according to the statistics kept by Ann Meyers, Head Leslian in Charge (HLIC).

When she found out the interview was about “Lesbians,” she was really caught off guard and was so frazzled that she could not give an intelligent response.

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WNBA Unveils 30 Official Nominees for Voting of Top 15 Players of All Time

You know, they should come up with something other than “of All Time.” How about the “Top 15 of 15 Years?” Or the “Best 15 of the Last 15?” (Especially since they did a Top 10 and some players have been added/dropped?)

Speaking of 15, Ben has: 15 Years and Counting – June 21 is a huge milestone (And yes, I still have the newspaper photo of Lisa and Rebecca boxing each other out up on my file cabinet)

Like it or not, the WNBA is still here after 15 years.

Some people hate that. Some love it. Some couldn’t care less. In the end, ultimately, none of it really matters.

The only thing that does, however, is that the league is still around. That, in and of itself, is a big enough testament to the rest of the world.

Over at espnW, Val reflects on Fifteen years of the WNBA

Fifteen seasons ago tonight, the WNBA opened its doors to paying customers for the first time, as the Los Angeles Sparks hosted the New York Liberty at the Great Western Forum in the league’s inaugural game. I was there, tossing up the ball for the ceremonial opening tip between Lisa Leslie and Kym Hampton. (To avoid embarrassment, I practiced many times before the cameras rolled).

A lot of that day was a blur, but clear images remain fixed in my mind: convincing the Sparks’ owner that I (and not his girlfriend) was the right person to handle the opening jump ball honors; scrambling to locate a recording of the national anthem after the scheduled performer got stuck in traffic and failed to arrive on time; Penny Toler of the Sparks scoring the first basket in WNBA history; Lisa Leslie missing a dunk; nervous players showing the effects of their much-hyped moment in the spotlight; and an arena filled with ecstatic fans, many of them women and girls, who bought up every last commemorative item we’d stocked at the Forum concession stands.

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All who remember Rebecca Lobo’s always entertaining “The World According to Me” say, “ME!”

If you don’t, check out 1997-2002 and a 2002 and  2003 entry.

Need a sample? How about this classic from May 22, 1999.

Before practice could start, we had to have our physicals to make sure everyone was healthy. As far as I know we all passed. Sue (Wicks), Kym (Hampton), Coquese (Washington) and I arrived at the hospital together and jumped on the elevator to go to the doctor’s office. A man who was smaller in stature joined us. He made the ingenious observation that we all must be basketball players. He then added that Co must have to sneak through the other players’ legs on the court. Sue set the man straight – she told him, “We are here for our growth hormone treatment.” Pointing at Coquese, Sue explained , “She is here for her first one.”

Oh, and Rebecca hasn’t lost her touch — she just tweets. Check her latest comments on her “Most Unexcellent flight to LA.” She starts funny (There is a 4-yr-old girl on my midnight flight… wearing heels.) and then not so much (Delta flight 1323 from ATL to LAX. Left engine caught fire on takeoff ( think bird flew into engine). Returned to ATL.)

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Vin writes: WNBA Reaches A Milestone With Its 15th Anniversary

Lisa Leslie remembers her surprise at the big arenas and luxurious locker rooms. Rebecca Lobo, Penny Toler and Teresa Weatherspoon recall the excitement of finally getting to play before family and friends. For everyone involved in the WNBA’s first game in 1997, there was also plenty of nervousness to go around.

With the New York Liberty facing the Los Angeles Sparks on Tuesday, the matchup falls on the anniversary of the game the teams played to begin the league’s inaugural season. Now in its 15th year, the WNBA has outlasted an early rival, endured a struggling economy and overcome naysayers perennially predicting its doom.

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No Moore

Moore leaves Sparks due to medical reasons

No siree! Lisa Leslie says she’s ‘not coming back’ to WNBA

No stopping. Sparks’ Thompson just keeps going

No. 2 & 3: 12 Days, 12 Previews: San Antonio Silver Stars and Connecticut Sun – Five keys to a successful season.

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’cause I think she just became a member of the WBI. Lisa Leslie: Media, ESPN Has Failed to Cover WNBA to Its Fullest

“It’s really more the media,” Leslie told FanHouse. “It’s ESPN. It’s the TNTs of the world … though, really, TNT has done a better job, I have to admit. They’ve covered the WNBA really well, if you have (NBA TV). But ESPN is probably the main focus that drives our sports. Ninety-five percent of sports, you know you can find it on ESPN.

“Maybe if we had a place [on ESPN] you would be more informed,” Leslie pointed out.

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silence?

Mechelle on Swoopes: Sheryl Swoopes still waiting for farewell

Sheryl Swoopes doesn’t want to sound angry. She’s past that, she says. And besides, what’s the point?

But the problem is, it does bother her. Swoopes, one of the founding players of the WNBA along with Lisa Leslie and Rebecca Lobo, has never gotten her fond farewell from the league.

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I hope you got a chance to catch Mechelle’s last chat:

Q: Some USA BBall midst the W questions: What’s your take on Cappie and Kia being MIA? Also, great news re: the games being on NBAtv — was that going to happen all along or was there a helpful “outcry” from fans?

MV: I think it’s disappointing on their part. I mentioned Staley and Edwards … they would have swam through a crocodile-infested lake to get to USA practice. Same with Lisa Leslie. The only thing Leslie missed in more than a decade was the 2006 Worlds after her uncle had been paralyzed in a car accident. People like Edwards, Staley and Leslie carried on that do-whatever-you-have-to mentality about commitment to the national team that started even before them. I recall talking to Leslie about this before the Beijing Olympics, and she said, “I hope the mentality about how important the national team is never changes with the next generation … but we’ll see.”

As for TV … I heard a few days ago that NBA TV was going to pick it up, and I don’t know if fan outcry was part of it … but I’m sure that it never hurts to let networks/organizations know that you are watching. So kudos to those folks who keep sending e-mails and posting on message boards and letting your voice be heard. Keep it up.

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30 Seconds with Lisa Leslie

at the NY Times.

Q. Tell us something that no one knows about you.

A. I’m very much like Lucille Ball. I’m clumsy and awkward at times, and I have a lot of Lucy moments, a lot of funny and crazy things seem to happen to me.

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Q’s been busy

A little pro: How Brian Agler Is Scouting The Dream: Watching Film Against A Similar Opponent

A little post-pro – Lisa Leslie Interview: What is the impact of the Capital One Cup on women’s college sports?

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from Yahoo Sports: Leslie, Bevilaqua show best of an evolving WNBA

Despite their differences, Bevilaqua and Leslie, both 38 years old, represent the best of the beginning of the WNBA. They joined the league in its infancy – Leslie was the seventh pick in the first WNBA draft and Bevilaqua joined in 1998, its second season – and helped it mature.

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Kathy Goodman says

Thank you, Lisa Leslie

I have been a Sparks season ticket holder since the first WNBA game in 1997, and so I have seen Leslie play throughout her professional career.  Even before there was an WNBA, I followed women’s college basketball, and Leslie was all over the college game in the early 1990s.  I followed her career from USC to the Atlanta Olympics to the Sparks. The first time I ever met Lisa in person, however, was by happenstance.

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Number 9, Number 9, Number 9

is no more. At least in LA.

You know what? I hate it when numbers are retired.’Cause then we never see them on the court again.

And isn’t that a great part of sports, to see that number on the court and remember all the others who’ve worn it before?

Hey, hoist it into the rafters — that’s very cool, ’cause it honors the player day in and day out for all she brought to the team.

But let the number stay on the back of future players. See if they’re brave enough to don it and carry all the memories it bears.

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Tina Thompson Q&A

Tina Thompson-Lisa Leslie comparison

Tina Thompson photo gallery

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From the .com: Top Selling

Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker tops the WNBA’s list of most popular jerseys, where she has reigned since October 2008. This list is based on sales at the NBA Store in New York City and WNBAStore.com from October 2009 through June 2010. Parker’s jersey is the best selling jersey in the history of both the NBA Store and WNBAStore.com.

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