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from the U19 Championships? Ask Paul!

A is for All-Star Five and congratulations to A’ja WilsonNapheesa CollierAlanna SmithDaria Kolosovskaia and Maria Vadeeva. I would also throw into the mix Louise DambachEmese HofLaura QuevedoRaisa MusinaJulie Allemand and Ksenia Levchenko and Azura Stevens for my terrific 12.

B is for blowouts and regrettably there were far too many throughout the competition.

C is for competition format. Twelve teams is a maximum for women’s youth events and four spots for the Americas is at least one too many in the current mix.

D is for Dawn Staley, the winning coach from the USA who I thought did a good job considering the loss of key personnel ahead and during the tournament.

I’ll add my A for Announcers. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the team that handled the games. It was like having two Kara Lawsons working side-by-side, reminding viewers of what basketball announcing should be – player knowledge, history and game analysis.

W news…

So, have you decided who got the best of the trade?

Mike weighs in: Who won three-way trade?

WHAT ATLANTA GETS

Atlanta’s participation likely made this arrangement possible, as a direct trade between Chicago and Minnesota was difficult to fathom with their available assets. Expected to be a contender in the East early in the season, Atlanta’s campaign has been nothing short of a mess. Shoni Schimmel’s lack of conditioning and a mismanagement of resources on the floor has been a baffling endeavor for head coach Michael Cooper; in Atlanta’s last game before the All-Star break, a 97-92 road loss to Chicago, he seemed unaware of the foul tally with McCoughtry and Tiffany Hayes, costing them crucial minutes in a close game.

Schimmel’s stamina is returning to last year’s form, but the Dream no longer have a proven center. Their involvement in the trade was interpreted as a tacit admission that a rebuilding phase was more likely than a run at a championship. With a pair of 22-year-olds and five 2016 draft picks to this point, such a philosophy is believable.

Mechelle (edit: hate auto correct! you think it would know by now) weighs in: Three-team trade boosts Lynx, Sky

Minnesota really wants to win the 2015 WNBA championship. Chicago is hoping that it made the best of a very difficult situation. And Atlanta, while not giving up on making the playoffs this year, is looking more toward the future. Those are the general takeaways from the big three-team trade announced Monday.

Wonder how Marynell Meadors is doing. What, too soon?

David offers up an Eastern Conference team-by-team midseason review: A close race but blockbuster trade may shake things up

NEW YORK LIBERTY (12-5, 1st place)

If one team did not want to see the All-Star break, it was Bill Laimbeer’s Liberty. They are on a five-game winning streak, coinciding with the return of Epiphanny Prince from her obligations in Russia and insertion in the starting lineup. Prince and All-Star Tina Charles are the only Liberty players averaging double figures, but it seems to be Charles (17.2 ppg, 9.3 rpg) and someone else stepping up night in and night out. One night it is Sugar Rodgers hitting big shots, another it is Kiah Stokes dominating on the defensive end.

“We just have to stay disciplined in who we are,” says Charles. “It’s definitely been working for us to be number one in the East right now. We are just going to stay disciplined in who the Liberty is and just competing out there.

Keep an eye on: Four of the Liberty’s last five games are against Eastern conference playoff contenders Chicago, Connecticut, Washington, and Indiana, with the fifth game against Western leader Minnesota.

Tulsa Fire Sale! Give Tulsa fans free entry for rest of the season

Tulsa Shock minority owner, Stuart Price announced that he is calling on majority owner Bill Cameron to open seats to the remaining nine Shock home games for free. On Monday, after a few weeks of speculation, Cameron announced that he is moving the team to Arlington, Texas. The WNBA governing board approved the move in a unanimous vote on Thursday. Price has indicated that he is also filing a lawsuit against Cameron.

“Our community and fans have been here through the bad times and they deserve better than to lose the team just when it finally turns the corner,” said Price. “The players and coaches also deserve better than to have their winning season disrupted with the relocation news.”

Who dat on the cover of the Chicago RedEye? 

In her rookie season, Elena Delle Donne led the Sky to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. A year later, the team was in the WNBA finals.

Delle Donne transformed her team—can she do the same for the WNBA? There’s reason to believe so.

Today’s NBA players are rock stars. On a first-name basis with the world, they appear in summer blockbusters and soda commercials and earn hundreds of millions of dollars on the court and even more off it.

But it wasn’t always this way. In the 1970s—30 years after the league’s inception—the league was floundering. Interest had dwindled to the point that the Finals weren’t even televised live.

That all changed when Magic Johnson and Larry Bird entered the league in 1979.

Seems to me the W has ridden three surges in popularity/attention on women’s athletics:

  • The ’96 surge (which brought pre-and-early Title IXers in and a strong lesbian following) capped by soccer’s ’99ers.
  • The ’00 UConn surge (which brought current college fans to the W) capped by Taurusi.
  • The 2014-15 surge (which reinvigorated national attention and media coverage and activism) capped by the “Summer of Women.”

Here’s hoping the W can build on it’s young talent and successfully navigate the current upheaval in cable access and media coverage. If women’s basketball college coaches are smart, they’ll fully embrace the both the W AND the changing social perception of sexuality and use both as leverage in building their programs – starting with getting sufficient support from their Athletic Directors.

Did you catch this: BETH BROOKE-MARCINIAK

Welcome to The Drive, powered by Ford. In this series, Sage Steele goes back to campus with former college athletes to revisit the places and life-changing moments that inspired their drive to succeed. Beth Brooke-Marciniak, former Purdue women’s basketball star and global vice chair, public policy for EY, travels back to her alma mater.

A little more on the 2016 inductees: 

If the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame’s 2016 class was a player, it would be a combo guard strong enough to post up beneath the rim.

Or, perhaps a center not afraid to shoot the occasional three.

The six-person class that will be inducted in Knoxville on June 11, 2016, is being celebrated for its versatility.

From the Deseret News: Taylorsville native Natalie Williams to be inducted into Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016

Williams said she’s so focused on accomplishing new goals, she doesn’t always take the time to reflect on just what she’s achieved.

“I forget how much I’ve accomplished,” she said. “I’m always working on trying to do more.” One of the great joys of her life currently is coaching her three daughters, the oldest of which, Sydney, 15, will play at Alta High this winter.

Ayla, 8, and Nation, 5, also play, while Sydney’s twin brother Taurasi is a hip-hop dancer.

She said she’s not worried about whether her daughters will feel the pressure that may come as fans and media compare them to her, as she tries to help them focus on the same thing that helped her achieve so much success.

“All Mom cares about is hard work and effort,” she said.

Speaking of Utah:

Lynne Roberts doesn’t consider her hiring as the dawn of a new era for the University of Utah women’s basketball team. Roberts, the first head coach to come from outside the program since 1975, is just looking forward to the challenge of getting the Utesback to where she says they belong.

“I want to be national relevant,” Roberts said. “If there’s a sentence that would be it.”

After four years at the helm of Chico State and nine at Pacific, Roberts now heads a Utah program that has fallen on hard times. The Utes, who have an all-time record of 837-364, are a paltry 23-49 in Pac-12 play since joining the conference in 2011-12.

Speaking of rebuilding:

The idea of revamping a roster for the second straight year is nothing out of the ordinary for Louisiana Tech women’s basketball coach Tyler Summitt.

Summitt, the young 24-year-old coach who is constantly reminded by his mentors that implementing a culture takes two to three years, sat back and watched his predominately new team workout last week just as he did in 2014 during his inaugural season with the Lady Techsters.

That doesn’t mean Summitt and his coaching staff haven’t been hit with obstacles when dealing with a group of six newcomers.

Speaking of prepping for the NCAA season: 

The Gamecocks have been conditioning on and off the court in preparation for the season.

“Today was very important,” said USC sports performance coach Katie Fowler, who recently joined the program after serving in a similar capacity at Maryland. “We’ve been working a lot on our speed work. They’re tapering down a bit this week.”

The Gamecocks, who advanced to the Women’s Final Four last season and were ranked No. 1 in the nation for several weeks, are determined not to be one-hit wonders and are dedicated to improving.

Liz, Liz, Liz. Don’t call a lawyer. Grow up and decide if basketball is what you want.

WHEN did that happen?

When did we collectively decide to reward bad behaviour?

When did it become OK for sport stars to be petulant, cloaked from reality and allowed to bask in their own sense of entitlement unchallenged?

When did the media and the public become so fearful of upsetting the delicate young geniuses who dot our sporting landscape that we stopped calling an act of self-indulgence what it is?

I love Aussie basketballer Liz Cambage, even though what I’m about to say will cost me contact for a time.

Finally, as an educator who loves sports and respects the hell out of classroom teachers, I’ve been wanting to do something like this for YEARS! (And REALLY cranky that I can’t embed the dang video. I’ve tried and it just won’t let me.)

Key and Peele: Education Center

As an AAU coach once told me, “If parents cared as much about their child’s teachers as they do about why I put the team in a zone or man-to-man-defense, imagine what would happen to education.”

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From Nate: WNBA Hollinger Power Rankings: What Happened To The Silver Stars?

From our Alien Friend:

Paying no heed to the opening Sunday of the NFL season, there were five WNBA games on the slate yesterday. But we’ll get to those in a moment – unusually, there’s been some moderately worthwhile news emerging from our league over the last 24 hours.

Firstly, as announced by Cindy Brunson at the WNBA’s Inspiring Women Luncheon (and then first reported by Mel Greenberg via @womhoopsguru), the WNBA draft lottery will be televised by ESPN for the first time on September 26th. That’s much earlier than they’ve held the lottery before, but it should help build some buzz for the league heading into the playoffs. The extra interest this year obviously surrounds the 2013 graduating class that’s led by Baylor center Brittney Griner, with Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins considered pretty nice consolation prizes. It’s good to see both the League and ESPN showing that they’re invested in coming up with new ways to draw people into the WNBA, and get them talking about its potential.

From Jayda: WNBA to honor U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team; other tidbits from historic London Games

OK. National media didn’t do its best job covering the afterglow of women’s achievements at the London Olympic Games. The Seattle Times did offer diaries and features about Olympians with Washington ties. And I blogged/tweeted about the entire women’s basketball tournament, including USA Basketball winning an unprecedented fifth consecutive gold medal.

Side note: I was up early watching the Russians and Turks. However, I rarely tweeted about those games because surnames like Palazoglu or Vodopyanova would gobble up Twitter’s allotted 140-characters.

You know what, all the talk of Phoenix “tanking” may be goofy, but it sure has put the WNBA out there in the twitter-sphere! Speaking of the Merc, from Ben: Seven Random Observations About the 2012 Mercury

Joan Nissen has more on the Lynx: Lynx offer glimpse into winners’ psyche

Seimone Augustus remembers winning a championship last October in Atlanta.

She remembers, but it’s blurry. She and her teammates talk about it sometimes still, here in the midst of their next title chase, but the details sometimes elude them. They’re too focused on the here and now, on Chicago and then Indiana and then Indiana again. They’re thinking about Los Angeles next week, then Phoenix and finally San Antonio.

The Lynx know what comes next. They know it like their lives depend on it, and they know how much they want what lies at the end.

From Clay at Full Court: WNBA MVP race wide open — fans’ vote may count for a lot

Once again, WNBA fans have a voice when it comes to the league’s MVP.

Granted, it’s not exactly a Kelly Clarkson-sized voice (41 other individuals will also fill out a ballot), but it’s a voice nonetheless. And on top of that, one lucky fan voter will get a free trip to one game in this fall’s WNBA Finals.

The on-line voting booth at http://www.wnba.com/mvpvote is open now, and will remain open until Sunday, Sept. 23, and of course, ballots can be cast from mobile phones as well as from more mundane, if not downright outdated, devices such as desktop computers.

Clay also offers up: Who’s lucky? And which WNBA teams are really good?

We all know luck plays a role – maybe a big role – in sports, and life, for that matter. But thanks to baseball stat wizard Bill James, it’s become a lot easier to determine just which teams are the luckiest in any given season.

James calls it the Pythagorean method, because he found he could approximate what a team’s expected winning percentage should be by creating a formula that involved squaring runs scored and runs allowed. The method also applies to other sports, though with modifications, and it’s based not just on some mathematical whim but by comparing past results to, in the WNBA’s case, points scored and points allowed.

With that lengthy preamble out of the way, we can look at the luckiest, and unluckiest, teams in the league based on how they’re performed in the win-loss column as opposed to the points scored-points allowed category.

Bob Corwin had this: Atlanta nightmare leads to Dream job for Fred Williams

Assistant coaches who are quietly going about their business rarely get much ink — that is, until something dramatic happens.

When Atlanta Dream head coach and general manager Marynell Meadors was fired Aug. 27, all of a sudden assistant coach Fred Williams was not only thrust into a complex dual role, but also found himself in the middle of the latest Angel McCoughtry controversy. Williams suspended McCoughtry briefly before re-instating her for Sunday’s game, but putting that ongoing saga aside, here’s a look at the new man in charge in Atlanta.

Kelly Kline adds this: January could be the difference in October

In the last 10 games, January has posted a handful of career bests including 22 points against Phoenix on Aug. 25 and eight assists against the Liberty on Aug. 30.  Fever coach Lin Dunn says the Arizona State grad is also delivering career-best performances on defense. “She may be the best defensive point guard in the league,” says Dunn. “I’m not sure who is better.  She’s going to guard Cappy, she’s going to guard Angel and Seimone.  She’s always going to get the chance to guard everybody’s best player, so that’s been a huge plus for us that we didn’t have last year.”

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Get fired the next: the Dream has a new coach.

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(Wouldn’t it be cool if you could sign up for email alerts?)

Beth and Debbie talk with Doug, Jen, Marynell, and Geno about the Olympics. Tamika Catchings gets to chat, too!

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Missed Mechelle’s chat

(she’s in Atlanta):

Kevin: The same officiating crew (Blauch, Simpson, Walker) that did Wednesday’s whistle-fest also did Game 3 of last year’s finals, where we got a relatively paltry 46 fouls and 56 free throws. Given that experience, why couldn’t Marynell Meadors and staff get the Dream to adjust to how the game was being called before the fouls and free throws reached the record levels achieved in the 4th quarter?

Mechelle Voepel: I think sometimes coaches and teams get so into the mindset “We’re getting hosed!” that they almost can’t think of anything else. It was all the Dream talked about after the game. At some point in games, you really do have to say, “We have to figure out a way around this.” Which I know is easier said than done.

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I sure want this series to go five.

Perhaps a big crowdwill help them into the history books. From Mechelle: Atlanta Dream face must-win situation – Atlanta trying to become first team to win WNBA title after being down 0-2

It’s not uncommon for teams to complain about officiating after losses, but Atlanta was really steamed after a 101-95 defeat at Minnesota on Wednesday. The Lynx attempted 46 free throws and made 38, which were both records for a WNBA Finals game.

“Not to say they were wrong,” Atlanta coach Marynell Meadors said of the officials, “but there were a lot of things that I disagreed with.”

And if that doesn’t make you chuckle at its half-hearted attempt at diplomacy, you’re probably a Dream fan too irritated to find humor in anything. Which is understandable. In their five WNBA Finals games, including 2010, the Dream have lost by totals of two, three, three, 14 and six points.

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some pre-game reading:

From SB Atlanta: Dream Vs. Fever: Finals Trip Awaits Winner Of Game 3 Match Up

Both teams could be potentially missing a key player in Game 3. 2011 MVP Tamika Catching’s status is unknown after she went down with what appeared to be a serious foot injury in the fourth quarter of Game 2. There has been no reports as of yet to whether or not she will be able to play in Game 3. Atlanta coach Marynell Meadors said that the Dream would prepare as though Catchings would be in the lineup so expect an announcement on her status shortly before tip off on Tuesday. Atlanta will be without the services of starting center Erika De Souza who left after Atlanta’s Game 1 loss to join the Brazilian National team.

From the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune: Who should Lynx fans root for tonight, Atlanta or Indiana?

A lot of Lynx fans will probably be watching the deciding game in the Eastern Conference finals tonight. But who should they be rooting for?

It all depends on what they want. If they want the best matchup for the Lynx in the next round, then they should cheer for Indiana. If they want the best series, maybe five games, they should pull for Atlanta.

If you don’t care about tonight’s game ’cause you’re still smarting from your team’s loss, read about the National Team: US women’s basketball team starts 12-day European training camp

With the London Olympics less than a year away, the U.S. women’s basketball team will get a rare chance to train when they begin a 12-day European tour on Wednesday.

Coach Geno Auriemma won’t have a very deep roster at his disposal for the trip that will take the Americans through Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

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