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what was under their shell… fight, moxie, skill and a little swagger. Yes, they lost to UConn by 10, but the game was closer than the 83-73 score.

“Obviously nobody wants to lose — I mean we’re one of the most competitive teams out there — but I’m really proud of the fact that I felt like we responded punch for punch,” Frese said. “When you look at UConn in the games they’ve played in, usually that knockout punch comes, and you don’t recover. So I loved the confidence and the swagger that we played with. There was no fear.”

Made for a great Maggie Dixon Classic game, and I’m sure looking forward to what they do in the Big 10.

Thanks again, Brenda, for saying “yes.” Thanks, UConn, for making this a tradition. Thank you, Dixon family, for showing up, walking onto the court and sharing your love and loss in honor of your daughter.

Yup, that was Oregon State, down a starting point guard and loving to rebound, pushing the Irish to the edge. But Lindsay Allen’s free throws sealed the 1-point win.

Well, that was a surprise: Hampton got its second win of the season, upsetting an improving Wake Forest club.

It’s tough being an LSU Tiger these days.

That’s 13 straight for Missouri – and the fans are beginning to notice.

Should we be keeping an eye on Marquette? They gave DePaul a run for their money.

Should we be seeing an eye on Vanderbilt? They easily handled New Mexico State.

*no jinx, no jinx, no jinx* William & Mary just beat Old Dominion, 75-64. They get a nice gift from LadySwish.

Washington State was defeated by Ms. Plum with the basketball in Friel Court.

Oregon is still undefeated and, by the way, Alleyne’s 80th career double-double moved her into fifth all-time in NCAA women’s basketball history, behind Oklahoma’s Courtney Paris (128), Tennessee Tech’s Cheryl Taylor (90), Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike (85) and Robert Morris’ Artemis Spanou (85).

Upcoming games that have my attention:

#20 South Florida hosting #8 Mississippi State.

In its first neutral site game of the season, No. 20/17 USF will face No. 8 Mississippi State in the Southeastern/American Athletic Conference Challenge. Tip-off is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. in the Jacksonville Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla.

The Bulls return to action after a 10-day holiday break. USF is in the midst of a four-game win streak, and are 7-0 in Tampa this season. Mississippi State and USF face-off for just the second time in program history; their first meeting ended in dramatic fashion, on a buzzer beater by Courtney Williams. The Bulls defeated the Bulldogs in the quarterfinals of the 2014 Postseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT).

(10-4) Florida Gulf Coast hosting (10-2) Auburn.

The Florida Gulf Coast University women’s basketball team has had a hectic holiday nonconference schedule. The run is almost at end, but not before the Eagles face another quality opponent.

FGCU has built a rigorous nonconference schedule this season in hopes of earning a higher seed should the Eagles make the NCAA tournament. The next team up is Auburn, a 10-2 team from the powerful Southeastern Conference, at home on Wednesday.

OSU hosting #4 Baylor.

The Baylor women’s basketball team soaked up the sun during its nonconference games away from Waco, with visits to Florida and the Bahamas during the fall semester holidays.

Wednesday’s road trip to Stillwater, Oklahoma, to face Oklahoma State won’t be quiet as warm — temperatures will hover in the low 30s at the 6 p.m. tipoff — but it’s the most crucial road matchup the Lady Bears have played this season.

West Virginia (11-2) hosting #5 Texas (11-0).

“I think you always have to be pleased when you have a team that can go an extended amount of time without a loss,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said after Sunday’s win against Sam Houston State. “We were able to go through some really tough games, through some on the road and withstand the different environments and be able to win.”

Texas faced three Top 25 opponents: Tennessee, Mississippi State and Stanford. The Longhorns also beat Arkansas in the Big 12-SEC Challenge in Oklahoma City.

West Virginia finished its regular season non-conference schedule 11-2. The Mountaineer’s two losses came against Gonzaga and the University of Southern California, both games played in Spokane, Washington.

Green Bay hosting Dayton.

#22 UCLA (8-3) hosting USC (12-0).

Other stuff:

From Graham: Australian Nicole Seekamp right at home in South Dakota

An unseasonably warm Dec. 25 in Vermillion, South Dakota, just means forecasted precipitation might fall as freezing rain rather than snow, at least until overnight temperatures turn it to ice.

But good luck finding anyone who will savor a gift this holiday season more than University of South Dakota guard Nicole Seekamp will as she finds herself shivering her way around the Upper Midwest one final time rather than with family amid the warmth in Australia.

Given a season of eligibility she didn’t expect, Seekamp won’t be home for Christmas. And that’s fine.

OU gets Rich.

Salt Lake Snap: Panguitch’s 64-game winning streak is ended by Cedar City

‘FIFA 16’ Proves The WNBA Needs In The Game

‘And when you look in on it, it doesn’t look noticeably different than the men’s.’

That’s a direct quote from one of the commentators during the Women’s semi-final of the international cup in FIFA 16.

Cool: Rose, Haywood and Catchings to be honored as part of Grizzlies’ MLK Day events

Congrats: Times Sportsperson of the Year: Robert Morris’ Sal Buscaglia spent a career championing women’s athletics

Sal Buscaglia keeps an old newspaper article tucked away in his desk. It’s from his time in Buffalo, and it commends him for spending just as much time promoting women’s basketball as coaching women’s basketball.

Congrats: Star Tribune Sportsperson of the Year: Maya Moore is the leader of her pack

Nice: Nanticoke Area’s 1990 state championship girls basketball team bonded by lasting memories

A lot has changed in 25 years.

Casey Comoroski moved to Missouri.

Ellen Bartuska beat breast cancer.

Tia Hornlein had twin daughters and Lori Scally’s busy raising three kids.

Their perfect run together at Nanticoke Area 25 years ago?

That will always remain the same.

From Dave: Women Roar: The Story of the Year at the Intersection of Sports and Politics

This past year saw no shortage of people who tried to leverage the sports world to boldly speak out on issues beyond the field of play. The football players at Missouri going on strike against racism; the remarkable activists in Boston—led in many neighborhoods by people of color and women—who kept out the rapacious Olympics; the continuing fight in advance of the 2016 Rio Olympics that’s taking on both the International Olympic Committee and the Brazilian government; South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier speaking out against the Confederate flag before and after the Dylann Roof murders at Mother Emanuel Church; the courageous statements—amid an ugly atmosphere—of Baltimore Oriole Adam Jones, manager Buck Showalter, and front-office chief John Angelos after the police killing of Freddie Gray and the property destruction outside of Camden Yards; tennis living legend Serena Williams returning to Indian Wells 14 years after being showered with racist invective by “fans”—a return she combined with raising funds for the Equal Justice Initiative; NBA Ref Bill Kennedy coming out of the closet as a responseto Rajon Rondo’s homophobia; Atlanta Hawk Thabo Sefolosha’s pursuit of justice after getting his leg broken by the NYPD; the odyssey of Olympic gold medalist Caitlyn Jenner; or even Steph Curry putting the name of slain Muslim student Deah Barakat on his shoes before the All-Star Game. I could name even more. We are clearly in a sports moment when social crisis and inflamed bigotry, conjoined with social media, has created a space for athletes to take their beliefs straight to the public. It’s courageous, and it matters, puncturing the privilege that surrounds the lives of so many fans, like LeBron catching a Bay Area aristocrat in mid-heckle.

That being said, I will not remember the past 12 months primarily for the aforementioned athletic actions. For me, 2015 will be recalled as the Year of Women in sports: a time when female athletes muscled for center stage and masses of people—men and women—put aside their prejudices to join the party.

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…Tamika is pulling a Lin Dunn: Catchings’ greatest legacy is making sure she’s replaceable

It’s one thing to leave your mark on a team and a sport. It’s another to leave a piece of yourself that stays on after you’re gone.

And regardless of how corny or cliché it might sound, that is exactly what Indiana forward Tamika Catchings is doing. She has been forthright about how much time is still on the clock. The curtains will close on her playing career next year, whenever the 2016 WNBA season finishes for the Fever.

Kent: Lynx and Fever down to a single game for WNBA title – Four Lynx veterans will try to win third title together 

Perhaps because the emotions would become too strong, the Lynx tried hard to avoid the bigger picture and instead focused on the game Tuesday.

All necessary, of course. Wednesday night at Target Center the Lynx will play the Indiana Fever in Game 5 of the best-of-five WNBA Finals, the ultimate game in a series between two talented, determined teams that are separated by a mere three points after 160 minutes.

So the focus needs to be playing in the moment rather than leaving a legacy.

Lynx inching close to hard to come by dynasty

I wrote a pile of utter garbage several years ago, proclaiming that the San Antonio Spurs’ time as a perennial NBA playoff team and title contender was coming to a close. The key players were getting old, the argument went. All good things come to an end at some point, and this long Spurs dynasty was one of them.

A search for this misguided opinion has yielded no results; for whatever reason the Internet does not want me to find my old thoughts. But it was written. And it won’t be written here again about the Lynx.

Game 5 preview: Indiana at Lynx

AP’s Jon K: 

Before the Indiana Fever embarked on their 11th consecutive trip to the WNBA playoffs, veteran star Tamika Catchings handed out a journal to every one of her teammates.

The message was simple: For as routine as these trips have come for the Fever, it was so important to soak up the opportunities because you never know when they will present themselves again. The journals were for the players to document their journey.

.com: Lynx, Fever Well Aware Of Task That Lies Ahead In Game 5

The stage is set, the final adjustments have been made and the WNBA is set to crown a champion Wednesday night (8PM ET, ESPN 2). And the enormity of the situation is something that is not lost on the two teams fighting for WNBA glory.

Swish Appeal: Extensive WNBA Finals Game 5 Preview: Last woman standing

Scoggins: With two deep teams, Lynx-Fever compelling to watch

The Indiana Fever concluded their morning workout before Game 4 of the WNBA Finals with a contest. A half-court shooting contest that left players howling with laughter as they trash talked one another.

The Lynx contingent arrived on the court a few minutes later. Players exchanged their usual banter as they conducted interviews.

The mood around both teams could be best described as loose and relaxed, which would make sense if the occasion was a summer pickup game.

There was no hint of the tension that’s enwrapped their championship series.

Letters to the Star Tribune: Readers Write (Oct. 14): Minnesota Lynx gear, health insurance, Grand Avenue parking, debates on cable TV

My wife and I recently bought Minnesota Lynx tickets to their first playoff finals game against the Indiana Fever. We planned to show our support by wearing Lynx T-shirts to the game. The Lynx are Minnesota’s most successful professional team, having won two championships in the past five years and nearing a potential third, so how difficult could it be to buy some Lynx merchandise? Turns out, very difficult.

Oh, and… watch out, Lynx & Fever players! Cali’s got her “Under Armour Next” video submission ready!

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From the Female Coaching Network: Extra Time With Stephanie White

Doug: Fever-Lynx Preview

 It’s only fitting these WNBA Finals are going the distance.

”It’s absolutely been a great series,” Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. ”Four really, really hard fought games. Why not go to a Game 5? It’s been that good of a series. It’s one of those things that people like to see.

Mechelle: Game 5 is a fitting end for a WNBA Finals full of good basketball

Six years have passed since the last Game 5 in a WNBA Finals. And it seems like both quite a while ago and not quite so distant to Indiana point guard Briann January.

“Since then, I’ve gained a lot of experience,” said January, whose Indiana Fever lost that game 94-86 to Phoenix on Oct. 9, 2009. “That still burns me. I was a rookie, and they won Game 4 here [in Indianapolis] and then won in Phoenix. To end the season like that, it sits with you.”

In Game 5 on Wednesday (ESPN2, 8 p.m. ET) in Minneapolis, the Fever and the Minnesota Lynx will battle one last time this year. One team will celebrate a championship, and the other will be left, as January said, with a bad feeling that lingers.

In college news:

Back to work: USC women’s basketball team reloads for new season and As practice tips off, USC women’s basketball once again sets sights on national title and Gamecocks women’s team putting last year’s success behind

Key veterans return for Notre Dame women’s basketball  and Ali Patberg ready to run point for Notre Dame women’s basketball

Anyone who knows Muffet McGraw is well aware that she wouldn’t hand the keys to her offense over to just anybody.

That, by itself, is proof positive that Ali Patberg is something special.

The 5-foot-10 freshman point guard from Columbus, Ind., is one of the key components of the next wave of talent — along with classmates Marina Mabrey and Arike Ogunbowale — that should keep Notre Dame’s women’s basketball team among the nation’s elite for years to come.

Video: Coach McGraw at Media Day

Georgia women’s basketball: new head coach Joni Taylor comfortable in command

OSU women’s basketball: Beavers look to build off 2014-15 successes

“It’s season time now,” senior Jamie Weisner said Monday afternoon. “We’re playing for keeps. I wouldn’t say the Italy practices weren’t intense but we’re just building off that. Each day you want to progress and that’s what we’re doing.”

Those August practices helped get the three freshman integrated to the way the Beavers practice and allowed them to form cohesion on and off the court with the returners.

“When we got back in here on Wednesday we already had that base level so we just took it from there,” Weisner said. “I would say they put us ahead of the game.”

UConn’s Stewart learns a lot from time with USA Basketball

Harumph: Balcomb: Vanderbilt women better after players left

Scott Seeks Strong Finish to Herd Career

In the 46-year history of women’s basketball at Marshall, only seven players have scored more points in a season than Leah Scott did in 2014-15.

In her upcoming senior season, Scott intends to do even better – but not just at the offensive end of the floor.

Nebraska: Women’s basketball notebook: Yori excited about young players in program

Finally, a h/t to Joanna for the Storify: The WNBA, Women Sports Writers and Personal Responsiblity

During Game 4 of Monday night’s 2015 WNBA Finals, @hoopfeed sent out a tweet regarding the lack of women sports writers talking about the Finals. This sparked a reply by Kate Fagan (@katefagan3) on Monday morning. Thus began an interesting conversation about the responsibility of women sports writers when it comes women’s sports.

Longtime readers of the WHB know of my ongoing advocacy for coverage of women’s basketball. It’s a complicated issue, and at its core is love and money. Buy me a beer some day, and we can unravel some of the discussions I’ve had with fans, Sports Information Directors, journalists an sports editors.

The simplest equation is that coverage is directly related to income generated. Income generated is connected to advertisers and their belief that the sport they are underwriting is worth it because of the fanbase. Chicken-Egg anyone?

So, what do we do?

  1. If you are a SID, Conference, or WNBA team aggregate all the articles written about your team/conference/league and offer a “News Digest” to fans. Actively and aggressively find traditional and non-traditional media outlets.
  2. If you are a fan, don’t just click on news articles. Take a moment to leave a comment – even if it’s only to say “thank you.” When you have more than a moment, drop an email to a writer and their sports editor. Twitter is also a great way publicize your advocacy.
  3. If you cover women’s basketball, publicize your writing. Yes, that used to be considered tacky in the good old days, but it’s essential now. If your parent company allows, publicize the writing of others. If you have the time to watch a game, toss out a couple of tweets!

Love, money, chicken, egg – if we work together, get the the word out, more fans will mean more coverage which will mean more writers actually earning a living covering sports – men’s AND women’s. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

Speaking of coverage, want a chance to put your money where your heart is? Check this out from Paul: A challenge to the women’s basketball family

It was with a heavy heart last week that I felt the need to pose a challenge to the women’s basketball family.

It came after news that the terrific lovewomensbasktball.com was closing its doors after volunteer editor, contributor and general women’s basketball fanatic Janis Kacens was no longer able to continue.
***
…this site does not happen by accident. The enjoyment attained by those thousands of people from across the basketball community has been brought to you by Janis in what has been a ‘labour of love’. Often controversial, I have not always agreed with him, but the respect I have for the countless hours of work he has put into this project and the knowledge he has could not be higher.

But why do we have to place so much expectation on someone doing on top of a day job and on top of studying?

It is time for the women’s basketball community to respond.

I feel that if we can’t get 250 people to pay $4 or about 3-4 euros per month (basically a cup of coffee or so) to support the cost of running the site and to actually compensate and support those who burn the midnight oil continuously, then this is a damning indictment of women’s basketball.

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Thank you, Indiana, for extending the WNBA season for fans (even though you gave’em all agita in the last 7 minutes.)

David Woods: 

Marissa Coleman and Shenise Johnson weren’t along on the drive to the Indiana Fever’s 2012 WNBA championship. If the Fever add another title, those two will have supplied much of the fuel.

Johnson scored 15 points and Coleman 14, and the Fever defeated the Minnesota Lynx 75-69 Sunday night to even the WNBA Finals at two wins apiece.

Attendance was 10,582 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Kent Youngblood: Indiana defeats Lynx, forces deciding Game 5 – Full-court Indiana pressure, foul trouble kept the Lynx from closing out series in 75-69 loss. 

 Before the game, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve told her team. Warned them, basically. If you don’t play defense this series won’t end Sunday night.

They didn’t. And it didn’t.

See you Wednesday.

More Kent: Lynx lose a game and an opportunity

Chip Scoggins:

Cheryl Reeve begged and pleaded and flailed her arms. The Lynx coach shed her jacket in frustration and had a constant expression of bewilderment.

She probably didn’t recognize the team on the floor, not for much of the night anyway.

The two-time champions looked frazzled in a way that felt unusual in Game 4 of the WNBA Finals.

From Mechelle:

As I grow older, I do see the connection — that ability to refocus,” the Indiana Fever point guard said. “Especially when you’re in tense situations, to be able to calm yourself. When it comes to toughness, focus, discipline … there’s a lot of things I’ve learned through martial arts that I’ve carried through to basketball.”

OK, that explains January’s mindset. But how exactly is this entire Indiana Fever franchise able to keep on doing this crazy “you can’t kill us” thing? Because Sunday night, on the brink of elimination, the Fever won. Again. How do they do it? Hey, it’s just the Fever way.

Melissa Issacson (welcome to the fold!): Cheryl Reeve, Minnesota Lynx frustrated with Game 4 loss

Cheryl Reeve’s jacket doesn’t have its own Twitter account [WHB: I could have sworn it did], but it probably should. While Sunday night’s exhibition might not have reached the standard of Sean Rodriguez and the Gatorade cooler — and fell short of Game 2 of the 2012 WNBA Finals when Reeve threw her suit coat so hard after a technical foul that she later had to have her right shoulder evaluated — this one wasn’t too shabby.

AP : Fever move to 5-0 in elimination games and push Lynx to decisive Game 5

Shenise Johnson scored 15 points and Marissa Coleman added 14 to help the Fever beat the Minnesota Lynx 75-69 on Sunday night, forcing a decisive Game 5 in the WNBA Finals. Indiana is 5-0 in elimination games this postseason.

“Every single person that had gotten in, we’ve played for each other,” Catchings said. “We don’t want it to be done yet.”

AP Doug:

“We’ve had our backs against the wall this entire playoffs, we’ve responded well and have been able to come away with wins,” said Marissa Coleman, who scored 14 points for the Fever.

Indiana is 9-2 in elimination games starting with its run to the 2012 championship when the Fever beat Minnesota.

“We have the heart of a champion — and Tamika Catchings,” Fever coach Stephanie White said. “I really love this team.”

Examiner: Fever wins fifth elimination game during unlikely postseason run

“It’s our focus, we always come together at the right time,” Catchings said. “We’re inspired by one another, every single person who has gotten in, we play for each other. One thing people talk about is how many points people score, and I talk about the little things, and it’s great to pass the torch. If every single day you have the mentality you are great, then nobody will stop you. You continue to see the confidence of the team get higher and higher, we have a lot of first timers, and you want to build off of that.”

.com: White Starts, Johnson Finishes Fever‘s Second Half Rally

Bob Kravitz: Catchings refuses to let the Fever lose — again

Tamika Catchings knows the clock is ticking on her Hall of Fame career, knows this kind of opportunity to win a WNBA title may never come around again after Wednesday’s much-anticipated Game 5 at the Target Center.(And how appropriate that this classic series should be coming down to a Game 5?) So, one day after being down in the dumps after what she described as one of her worst games ever in a Game 3 loss, she showed up at Bankers Life the next day with her spirit and his smile fully intact. And she made it clear to her teammates:

“We’re going to win this one,’’ she said. “We’re going to win.’’

.com: Fever Thankful For Fan Support Through Ups and Downs Of 2015 Season

Gregg Doyel: Tamika Catchings wins matchup of stars when it counts

When it was over, the speakers were playing “Celebration” and the Bankers Life Fieldhouse crowd of 10,582 was screaming happily and Indiana Fever star Tamika Catchings was waving goodbye to the crowd, goodbye until next season anyway, and repeating these two words:

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

No, the crowd was shrieking in return.

No, Tamika. Thank you.

Vice Sports: Time is Running Out to Watch Tamika Catchings, the Greatest Women’s Basketball Player Ever: 

More than that, though, she’s contagious. Catchings’s tenacity inspires and galvanizes her teammates, launching her Indiana Fever past better-known and more heralded teams into the WNBA Finals this season. It’s not so much that the Fever play as one as it is that they all play like Catchings: they are infused with the spirit of the moment. Double teams are rushed toward like they are salvation; every shot and every pass is contested, always. There is a reason why Catchings’s teams are 9-2 in elimination games following Sunday night’s 75-69 win to force a decisive Game 5 in the WNBA Finals against the Minnesota Lynx.

SportsPage Magazine: 

After Game 1 of the 2015 WNBA Finals series, Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve reminded people that it was the first 40 minutes of a 200 minute series. Her words were prophetic as the Indiana Fever staved off a late charge by the visiting Minnesota Lynx, winning Game 4 by a score of 75-69 in front of an announced crowd of 10,582 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Sunday, to push the series to a decisive Game 5.

Swish Appeal: 

Foul trouble was the name of the game again in Game 4 of the WNBA Finals.

Sylvia Fowles battled foul trouble from go, and the Fever executed a textbook strategy, claiming a 75-69 win.

Both teams struggled with foul trouble in Game 3, but this time Tamika Catchings remained on the floor with no fouls. And that could have been the key for the Fever to keep their championship hopes alive.

More Swish:

Tamika Catchings, Briann January, Erlana Larkins and Shavonte Zellous had the spotlight in the 2012 WNBA Finals against the Minnesota Lynx.

Three years later, Shenise Johnson and Marissa Coleman will join the champions and enter the light.

“[Last night] I’m looking to Catch. I’m looking to Bri. I’m looking to Steph. And they do a great job of putting us in position to make good decisions,” said Johnson. “We have good relationships with each other. And when you have that, the trust is unlimited.”

Canis Hoopus:

The most eye-catching problem has to start with Sylvia Fowles’ foul trouble. Fowles played less than twenty minutes in the game after picking up two quick fouls in the first quarter, then lasting only a couple of minutes in each of the second and third quarters before picking up more fouls. She finished the game with five points and five rebounds, and was a complete non-factor.

Friendly Bounce: Last night in the WNBA Playoffs

Photo Gallery.

8 takeaways from Game 4 of the WNBA Finals

.com: Game 5 Sets The Stage For Culmination Of All-Time Great Finals Series

The outcome was not what Minnesota head coach Cheryl Reeve desired in Game 4 of the WNBA Finals 2015 presented by Boost Mobile, but the significance of what lies ahead is not lost on her.

Even with Sunday’s loss, she still has her team on the brink of a WNBA championship. But so does Indiana Fever head coach Stephanie White. Both coaches have brilliantly guided their teams throughout this postseason, and now it’s set to culminate in a winner-take-all Game 5 in the Target Center Wednesday night (8PM ET, ESPN).

Poll: Who ya got? 

This story makes me wish we’d had a Lib-Minny Finals – Who wouldn’t want to see a dance off between the Timeless Torches and the Senior Dancers? Senior Dancers are a crowd favorite at Lynx, Wolves games – The wildly popular Senior Dancers help attract fans to Minnesota Lynx and Timberwolves games.

And sure, I’d love to advocate for a “Best of 3,” Best of 5,” “Best of 7” format – as soon as the stands are full enough to convince the arenas that the WNBA playoffs are more lucrative than “Disney on Ice.”

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Until we know if we have to switch from our WNBA gear to our college gear.

Lots on the game at the .com

Thoughts From Shootaround Ahead Of Game 4

Fever Facing Elimination, Remain Confident

Moore, Montgomery Share Competitive Drive That Goes Back to UConn

New Faces Helping Lynx Reach New Levels

Lynx Fans Make Their Voices Heard In Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Other coverage:

Indiana Fever’s Pat Boylan talks WNBA Finals Game 4

David Woods: This could be Catchings’ last chance for another title

Given how hard it is to advance through the playoffs, this might be the last chance for Tamika Catchings to win another league championship. Sunday’s Game 4 (8:30 p.m., ESPN) might be her last WNBA Finals appearance at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Catchings is not set to retire until after the 2016 season, and the Indiana Fever have a roster good enough to make another run.

But so do Chicago and New York, both of which nearly eliminated the Fever in the Eastern Conference playoffs. So do the Minnesota Lynx, who lead the Fever 2-1 in the best-of-five Finals and could secure a third championship in five years. So do the Phoenix Mercury, especially if Diana Taurasi returns in 2016.

In other words, Fever fans should enjoy the precious present. This could be it. Win-it-for-Tamika has been an overriding theme.

WTHR: Indiana Fever have thrived facing elimination

“Your back is against the wall and you know your urgency has to be at an all-time high,” said Fever head coach Stephanie White. “You really don’t have anything to lose. You just go out and work and play your butts off. We’ve put ourselves in a position in all three games to win. It’s one play here or there that we haven’t made or they have made that’s been the difference.”

From Mechelle: With backs against wall, Fever have proven to be resilient

When the Lynx faced the Fever in the 2012 WNBA Finals, they were blown out in Game 3 and then fell in Game 4 as Indiana took its first title. And these 2015 Finals were looking a lot like 2012 … until Friday. The Lynx’s 80-77 victory on Moore’s buzzer-beating trey probably would have taken the air out of many teams. But it’s less likely it will do that to Indiana, because that’s not how the Fever are wired.

About the team: Fever’s consistency, success begin with GM Kelly Krauskopf

On a street corner in downtown Indianapolis Friday afternoon, a gaggle of little girls bearing “Go Fever” signs waited for the light to change and held their own private pep rally.

“That’s credit to Kelly beating her head against the wall,” noted Cheryl Reeve, the head coach of the Minnesota Lynx, Indiana’s Game 3 WNBA Finals opponent later that night. “I hope Kelly is sitting back and having a martini and enjoying all of it.”

AP Doug, on that other team: Maya Moore, Lynx go for the clincher in WNBA Game 4 tonight

The first three games have been decided by a total of 15 points. Most of the stats are just about even between the teams.

“It’s going to come down to the end, down to the last five minutes, last three minutes, last one minute,” Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. “Whoever it is that gets the chance to make the last play. Because of that, it is a hard out.”

Swish Appeal asks, 40 minutes or 1 more game? Game 4 preview

BTW: Goestenkors to college coaches everywhere: Start watching the WNBA

That’s part of why she encourages all coaches to tune in. Goestenkors also said if coaches at different levels of the game can visit a WNBA training camp or go to a practice, it will be very worth their while.

“If they’re serious about becoming a great coach, they should do that,” Goestenkors said. “Because there is really no comparison to the amount I learned in just a few short years in the WNBA, as opposed to what I learned as a college coach through all of my years.

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16,332 Banker’s Field hearts breaking as Maya Moore nailed her game-winning three. Yah, Indy and their fans were stunned, but what. a. game!  Eight lead changes and 11 ties, including four in the final quarter? Here’s hoping they pack the stands on Sunday and Watch This!

More on the game:

David Woods: 

“I think that might have been one of the best-played WNBA Finals games in our history,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said.

It was. Not that it made the Fever feel better. Reeve referred to the 2009 WNBA Finals as perhaps the best in league history, and that one opened with the Phoenix Mercury beating the Fever 120-116 in overtime. The Mercury beat the Fever in Game 5 at Phoenix to take the title.

Bleacher Report: Indiana Fever vs. Minnesota Lynx Game 3 Score and Reaction

Doug at the AP: 

“(1.7) seconds is a lot of time,” Moore said. “I’m a basketball junkie, watch basketball a lot.  . . . Everything fell on the line, did what I could. It was a basketball move and I was able to get it off. Fortunately I have a pretty quick release and it worked out. I haven’t seen the replay yet, when I let it go I knew I got it off.”

Moore was hard-pressed to remember the last-time she hit a buzzer-beater. She had to go back to her AAU days when she hit a winner for her Georgia team to win a championship.

“It’s been a while, I know that,” she said.

That shot ended a thrilling game that both coaches said was one of the most entertaining in WNBA Finals history and gave Minnesota a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.

SportsPage Magazine: Moore’s Clutch Three-Pointer Downs Fever, Lynx Take 2-1 Series Lead

 The Minnesota Lynx received much a needed insurance policy during Game 3 of the 2015 WNBA Finals when forward Maya Moore hit a three-point shot as time expired to lift the Lynx to an 80-77 victory over the Indiana Fever in front of 16,332 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday night. Minnesota now holds a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series. But unlike previous post-season games, officiating was not a subject of post-game discussion among the players or coaches, nor did it lead to furor among the fans.

.com: Maya‘s Game Winner From All Perspectives

Doyel asks: What more could Marissa Coleman have done?

More than 16,000 people at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and Marissa Coleman had a better view than anyone. She didn’t just see it happen – she saw it happen to her. She was the Indiana Fever player trying to defend Minnesota’s Maya Moore with 1.7 seconds left and a tie score Friday night in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals.

She was the player who failed.

And Coleman, she wanted to see it again. Where she went wrong. Why? How? That’s what she was doing when I entered the Indiana locker room after its 80-77 loss in Game 3 that left the Fever on the brink of elimination.

Gwinnett Daily Post: Maya Moore 3-pointer at buzzer lifts Minnesota Lynx to WNBA Finals win | PHOTOS

For three quarters on Friday night in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Minnesota Lynx standout forward Maya Moore was more of a spectator than a participant in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals.

As the Lynx built a 59-57 lead through 30 minutes, the Collins Hill grad played only 12:11 and scored 12 points.

Swish Appeal: Moore and more: Lynx win behind Moore’s clutchness

Friendly Bounce: HmmmohhhMayaGod: Moore’s buzzer beater lifts Lynx

Bring me the News: Moore burns Fever with buzzer beater, Lynx lead series 2-1

Pioneer Press: Lynx reserves almost steal the show in Game 3 win

Before Maya Moore posed like a superstar, her game-winning three-point shot beating the buzzer and breaking the Indiana Fever for an 80-77 win in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals, Friday night belonged to the unsung players.

From Parrish Alford of the Daily Journal: WNBA on the rise

Basketball fans will no longer watch Armintie Price-Herrington in the WNBA, but that doesn’t mean they’re not watching the WNBA.

The former Ole Miss All-American retired from the women’s professional league last month.

She says interest is growing in women’s basketball, and the WNBA is strong, because it has quality players who promote the sport.

“We’re doing such a good job of becoming great role models. Once we take the court we’re giving it our best. We’re not limited to, ‘Oh, they’re just girls.’ We’re playing hard and doing our jobs,” she said. “You got girls dunking, girls scoring 40 points a game. Doors are open for women’s basketball because of the hard work we’re putting in.”

In other news: KU women’s basketball embraces change

So much changeover exists within the Kansas University women’s basketball program right now, you’ll have to be patient with first-year head coach Brandon Schneider when it comes to figuring out one fairly significant aspect of this roster’s makeup.

Only sophomore point guard Lauren Aldridge, junior forward Jada Brown and sophomore guard Chayla Cheadle — all complementary players last season — have started more than two Division I games. That’s the number of career starts for junior big Caelynn Manning-Allen. No other available Jayhawk can even claim one.

As a result, the Year 1 transition for the former Stephen F. Austin and Emporia State coach includes discovering who KU can count on for points.

No real surprise: MTSU women’s basketball picked to win C-USA

Red & Black: Second to command: Lady Bulldogs start practice under Joni Taylor, the program’s second full-time head coach

Lots from Iowa State: Young Cyclones have lofty goalsBlaskowsky, Baier embracing role as senior leadersISU women’s basketball reloads with trio of freshmenFennelly not worried about rule changes

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved a handful of changes for this season, the biggest change being in the game’s format. NCAA women’s basketball games will be played in four 10-minute quarters this season. Fennelly believes that will add excitement to each contest.

“I don’t think it’s a big deal,” he said Thursday at ISU’s women’s basketball media day. “I think it’ll speed the game up. What you’ll have to do is, your players will have to be in better shape because there will be less timeouts.”

From Mike Potter in Durham: Foundation of women’s basketball at Duke cemented firmly

Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie is probably losing a bit less sleep than she was a year ago at this time.

The 2014-15 Blue Devils women’s basketball team had exactly one proven player – then senior center and eventual WNBA first-round pick Elizabeth Williams – when they took the floor last November. They finished ranked No. 16, played in another NCAA Sweet 16 and concluded 23-11.

But now Duke has a pair of proven sophomore stars in combo guard Rebecca Greenwell and play-everywhere 6-foot-5 Azura Stevens, the nation’s top recruiting class, enough proven role players – and next season will welcome two-time Maryland All-American Lexie Brown as a junior transfer.

Quack: A look at this year’s Ducks women’s basketball team

As Jeff tries to ignore the ugly circus over on the men’s side of the hallway, some (tentative) good news: Durr expected ready for U of L’s opener

Asia Durr’s recovery from a groin injury suffered in the spring has come slower than expected after Louisville women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz in July anticipated the top-rated recruit would be “full go by mid-September.”

U of L started practice Wednesday, and though Durr was involved, she isn’t yet participating in every activity.

North Carolina: UNCW women’s basketball team pushing for winning season

The stated mission during Wednesday’s media day for the UNCW women’s basketball team was clear as fourth-year coach Adell Harris put the focus on the weeks ahead and not some of the other issues the program dealt with over the last month or so.

After a successful season in which the Seahawks surpassed most of their stated goals for the year, UNCW heads into practice without two of their key contributors, who made up about 50 percent of its scoring from the 2014-15 slate.

Will the growth continue at Rhode Island? Start of the Season has Team Pumped

How about in Orono? Performance staff help UMaine basketball players achieve next level

Minnesota: Gophers Replacing Amanda Zahui B. is tall task for newcomers

New Mexico:  Lobos adjusting to life without Antiesha Brown

With the departure of Antiesha Brown, New Mexico is in search of leadership.

Brown’s offensive presence led UNM to the longest winning streak in UNM women’s basketball history. In last season’s campaign, Brown led the team in games played, minutes played, points, free throws and free throw percentage.

“You have a leader that’s been here for three years,” head coach Yvonne Sanchez said. “She was a very good basketball player, number one — but she was a phenomenal leader.”

After the storm: Wichita State women’s basketball starts practice with inexperienced roster

Jody Adams has had such a successful coaching career at Wichita State she can look back on her own rebuilding projects when it’s time to do it again.

The Shockers started women’s basketball practice on Tuesday at Koch Arena with 10 players, none of whom are seniors. Four are freshmen and the three returners who played last season combined to start three games. Adams, who started at WSU in 2008, went back to her notes on previous inexperienced teams to see what she might expect. On Tuesday, the players performed more like an experienced group.

Former Western Michigan University women’s basketball assistant coach John Swickrath was fired for making “sexually-related and/or very personal” comments to a former student-athlete, according to documents obtained by MLive Kalamazoo Gazette through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Nice: 

Already having etched his name as the most successful head coach in USF women’s basketball program history, Jose Fernandez has taken another step toward securing the future success of the program he has built.

Just a few months after signing a contract extension that will keep him at USF through 2021, Fernandez and his wife, Tonya, announced a gift to create the Jose & Tonya Fernandez Women’s Basketball Scholarship. It marks the first endowed scholarship for the program that has made 11 post-season appearances in the last 12 years under Fernandez.

From the NCJAA ranks: Women’s basketball begins quest for national championship

When the women’s basketball team took a heartbreaking loss in last year’s national championship game, the Lady Cobras knew expectations had been set for this season. This doesn’t mean the Cobras are short on challenges this season.

Last year’s NCJAA D-2 Women’s Basketball Player of the Year Hannah Wascher has moved on to southern Indiana and starting point guard Laura Litchfield is now at University of Illinois, Chicago. That leaves head coach Mike Lindeman searching for replacements to keep his fast paced and unrelenting style of play going to fire the Cobras into the championship.

D3 News: Women’s Basketball Ranked Preseason #5 in Nation

The New York University women’s basketball team is ranked #5 in the nation in a preseason poll by Women’s DIII News, a monthly Division III women’s basketball publication.

The Violets return four of their five starters from 2014-15, a season in which they went 22-5 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament.

Basketball history on the page, anyone? Charles Riley writes book about history of girls basketball

Charles Riley doesn’t like to make people mad.

While doing research for his 2014 book “From Hard Dirt to Hard Wood,” which chronicles the history of boys basketball in Morgan County, he was asked by several people, “What about the girls?”

“When I was doing the boys book, I had no plans on doing a girls book,” Riley said. “When I visited the schools looking for information, a lot of people asked when I was going to do a book about the girls. Some of them sort of got a little mad when I told them I wasn’t. I felt like I needed to get back in their good graces.”

The result is “Remember the Girls: A Century of Girls High School Basketball in Morgan County.”

Basketball history on the stage, anyone? 

As early as the 1930s, though, women played team sports. The 1992 film “A League of Their Own” portrayed the women who played baseball during World War II.

And Meg Miroshnik’s play “The Tall Girls,” which makes its East Coast Premiere at Luna Stage this week, dramatizes teenage girls who play basketball in the heart of the Dust Bowl. In the town of Pure Prairie in Miroshnik’s play, basketball is more than a game: it’s an outlet, and an opportunity.

The play begins at Luna Stage, 555 Valley Road, West Orange tonight, Thursday, Oct. 8, and runs through Sunday, Nov. 1. For more information visit Lunastage.org

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or was that a fierce, feisty game?

From Kent Youngblood at the Star Tribune: Lynx defeat Indiana, even WNBA Finals at 1-1 – Referees play big role in physical game, much to the chagrin of the Fever.

Well, now  we have a series.

After the Lynx tied the best-of-five WNBA finals at one game each with a 77-71 victory over Indiana at Target Center on Tuesday, there were radically different takes on the game.

To the Lynx it was a physical, aggressive game, just the sort you’d expect from a team with its back against the wall.

“The refs did a great job tonight,” Seimone Augustus observed. “They didn’t call anything. They let us play, and that’s what playoff basketball is all about.”

To the Fever? Well, let’s just say first-year coach Stephanie White saw things differently.

AP: Sylvia Fowles, Lynx even WNBA Finals; Fever coach livid about officiating

From Michele: Fever struggle to overcome Tamika Catchings’ foul trouble in Game 2

“I told our team, we are going to bottle up every sense of frustration, every sense of anger, every sense of knowing what we didn’t do and what we didn’t accomplish tonight, put that in a bottle and let it explode when we get back home,” said Catchings, who on Tuesday tied the league record for postseason games played at 64

Jon Krawczynski, AP: With Fever still fuming, Lynx ‘ready to go’ for WNBA Finals Game 3

“I learned a valuable lesson today,” White said. “I learned that it pays to go public with comments about officials. Who would have known?”

White called Game 2 “a blood bath” and said Shenise Johnson was “doubled over” by a hard screen set in the fourth quarter. The Fever picked up two technical fouls in the fourth quarter and turned the ball over 14 times in the second half, leaving them with the feeling that they kicked away a golden opportunity to take a 2-0 lead in the series.

“We know that we didn’t take care of business when it came down the stretch,” Catchings said.

From David Wood at the Indy Star: WNBA tells Fever coach Stephanie White to ‘keep quiet’ on officiating

Stephanie White has been a public figure long enough that she doesn’t need her 15 minutes of fame.

That’s what the coach received for outspoken criticism of officiating after the Indiana Fever’s 77-71 loss at Minnesota in Tuesday’s Game 2 of the WNBA Finals. Her comments were broadcast and discussed on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” and “Around The Horn.”

It remains to be seen whether gamesmanship influences Friday’s Game 3 against the Lynx at Bankers Life Fieldhouse (8 p.m., ESPN2). White said a league official asked her not to complain publicly again, and she was not fined. The best-of-five series is tied 1-1.

“The basic message is just to keep it quiet. But I couldn’t keep it quiet at that moment,” White said.

Josh Zavadil at the .com: Indiana Ready To Play In Front Of Hometown Fans Once Again

Just a five-minute stroll through the streets of downtown Indianapolis will make one thing clear: this city is behind the Indiana Fever. Storefronts display “Go Fever” signs, and it’s evident that Indiana’s run to the WNBA Finals has the city’s full attention.

On Friday — which Mayor Greg Ballard is declaring to be “Fever Friday” in Indianapolis — that attention focuses in on Bankers Life Fieldhouse, where Game 3 of the WNBA Playoffs 2015 presented by Boost Mobile will tip at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN 2.

Also from Josh:Fever Carrying Bottled Up Frustration Into Game 3

“I’m extremely excited,” center Erlana Larkins said ahead of Game 3. “I mean, after Game 2 we were pissed. We were pissed. We’re just ready to get back on the court. It’s a great thing to be back here in front of our fans, and they’re going to cheer us on and hopefully cheer us on to a victory.”

Bob Kravitz says, “Let’s give the Indiana Fever some love!”

I understand that women’s pro basketball remains something of a niche sport, especially in cities with successful men’s pro franchises, but let’s take nothing away from one of the best organizations in all of sports – men’s or women’s.

And let’s start here: Let’s talk about Tamika Catchings, who is not only one of the greatest female basketball players or all time, but is every bit the good corporate citizen as Peyton Manning or any other more well-known athletes. Grab a glimpse of Tamika while you can; next year will be here final year in the WNBA, and she hopes to polish off a brilliant career with a gold medal in Rio de Janeiro. Catchings has been the Fever’s heart and soul for years and years, and belongs on the Indy Sports Mount Rushmore right next to Manning and Reggie Miller. She’s already brought one ring to the city, and she has a chance to bring a second one as the Fever take on the favored Minnesota Lynx.

Audio add on: Katz: The Fever Are Everything That’s Good

The combined efforts of the Indiana Fever and the hashtag #FeverFull will bring thousands to downtown Indianapolis Friday night to cheer on the Fever to a game three WNBA Finals victory.  Tony Katz and the team at The Morning News have taken great joy in promoting this proud franchise, a franchise that staffs some of the great spots ambassadors for the state of Indiana.

So why has Tony Katz taken such a sudden interest in the Fever, when listeners identify him as more of a football and futball guy? 

It’s because the Fever represent everything that’s good.  It’s because the Fever can distract us from all of the bad that’s recently plagued the world.  The team has generated excitement for the city of Indianapolis and has offered another reason why Indy is such a great place to live.   

Tony is specific in the commentary below. 

Cool: Indy Lines Up For The Fever – Thousands get tickets to see the Indiana Fever in Game Three

Canadian Cool: Markham’s Sutton-Brown earns WNBA honours

Tammy Sutton-Brown’s time in playing with the WNBA’s Indiana Fever will not be forgotten.

In helping the Fever capture the 2012 WNBA title, the 37-year-old Markham resident and former Fever centre will be honoured when the club hosts the third game of the WNBA finals against the Minnesota Lynx in Indianapolis, Friday.

From Marcus Fuller at the Pioneer Press: Lynx prep for another physical battle in Game 3

The Minnesota Lynx didn’t know how physical the WNBA Finals would be until they were bullied by the Indiana Fever on their home court in a disappointing Game 1 loss.

Their response was to toughen up and be ready for a “blood bath” as Fever coach Stephanie White described Minnesota’s Game 2 victory that tied the series 1-1.

Now that both teams are battle tested, it will be critical for the Lynx not to back down against a frustrated Fever team in Game 3 on Friday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Table slap aside, David Woods says: Shenise Johnson continues to surprise for Fever

The .com has 10 Numbers That Tell the Story of the Finals So Far

BTW: Game 1 of 2015 #WNBAFinals Most-Watched Game Ever on ABC.

Anyone else hoping this goes to five?

Mechelle says, “What about that ’09 class!”

Indiana guard Briann January threw her head back and let out an exultant “yes!!!!” when it was mentioned. Then she high-fived teammates Marissa Coleman and Shavonte Zellous.

On this particular topic, she would have done the same even with someone on the “enemy” side, Minnesota’s Renee Montgomery. And with six other players dispersed throughout the WNBA.

What do they have in common? All were selected in the first round of the 2009 draft, and that group of seniors has proven to be one of the more successful classes.

Reviewing the season, Mechelle writes: Finals help WNBA hit high note despite early-season adversities

…from the perspective of the Lynx and the Fever, what’s happened on the court this season is more important than what happened off it.

“The quality of play was really good, the playoff races were tight,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “We have great parity, because every team has good players on it.

“What I said from the beginning of this year is that the league is bigger than one player or situation. And we’ve seen that’s the case.”

And, to counter the high note, about Sheryl Swoopes’ low note. I didn’t link the interview because I didn’t have the brain space to articulate my reaction beyond “wth!” Not so much helpful. So, I appreciate Kate Fagan’s take: What Sheryl Swoopes Got Wrong About Today’s WNBA

Sheryl Swoopes is one of the most famous women’s basketball players in history, with a platform bigger than most current players, and with a voice that many casual fans listen to and respect.

Her words carry weight. What she says matters.

So when she shares thoughts that seem half-baked, that’s a problem. And when her words seem to be just casually reinforcing a stereotype about the WNBA that current players have been working hard to reshape, that’s also a problem. And when those words also seem vaguely homophobic, that’s a really big problem.

And because that’s no way to end a blog posting, and because I like the name, tagline and headline: At the Hardwood Paroxysm (unbiased opinions from extremely biased people Philip Rossman-Reich has The WNBA foreshadowed the NBA’s positional revolution

Really the positional revolution, if we can call it that, is simply coaches seeking a strategy that gives them a competitive advantage (it was not Rashard Lewis’ three-point shooting that made the Magic successful in the late 2000s, but his ability to defend the traditional power forward) and maximizes the talent on the roster. Don Nelson was testing out crazy lineups and offensive strategies throughout the 1990s — he saw the true potential in Dirk Nowitzki.

Where though has the NBA seen the model for how games would be played in the future?

Believe it or not, the WNBA has eschewed the straight post-up for some time now. A lot of it was certainly out of necessity. With virtually no players who can play above the rim, the offenses tend to focus less on isolations and pure athleticism and more on keeping the paint clear for cutters and movement.

Still, it would be easy to have players in that league just be bullies down on the block. The league though has never skewed that way.

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