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we remember those who will not join us.

Vic Dorr Jr. from the. Richmond Times-Dispatch: University of Richmond women’s basketball team moves forward with heartache as constant companion

The pain they felt when it happened — shock, anguish, suffocating grief — was largely visceral. Temporary remedies were abundant: tears, hugs, the snug harbor offered by family and friends.

The pain they feel today is to a great extent cerebral. There are few, if any, effective remedies.

Lauren Sage Reinlie at the Daily News: Spirit lives on: Community gathers to remember beloved basketball coach

With hundreds of people gathered in the auditorium, Coach Patrick Harrington’s voice rang out again.

In a video playing on a large screen, the man stood on the sidelines of the basketball court, talking about his players and how he wanted to give them a chance to know what great opportunities they have to grow and change their lives.

From South Bend: Expectations still high for youthful Irish women’s basketball team

It’s been a few years since Muffet McGraw first put a whistle around her neck and stepped on a court in a dimly-lit gymnasium not far from the Main Line in suburban Philadelphia, to begin her first practice as a basketball coach.

And while it’s true Archbishop Carroll High School is a far cry from the bright lights of the University of Notre Dame’s Purcell Pavilion and college basketball’s biggest stage at the NCAA Final Four, don’t think for one second that the Fighting Irish Hall of Fame head coach isn’t excited about the start of another season.

Nice turn around in Austin: Women’s Basketball picked as preseason favorite to win the Big 12

From Spokane: Gonzaga women’s basketball rookie coach Lisa Fortier ushers in new era

The Gonzaga women’s basketball team opened practice Tuesday with a new head coach for the first time in 14 years and without a clear picture of the guard rotation for at least three years.

Out of Columbia: For USC women’s basketball, a national championship is the only goal

It was only the first day of practice, but the members of South Carolina’s women’s basketball team were already thinking of the ultimate goal.

“Our goal is definitely nothing short of a national championship,” said senior forward Aleighsa Welch, a Goose Creek native. “I think we have to put that in our minds and keep repeating to ourselves that we don’t want to settle for anything less than that. So that’s the main goal. That’s what we know we can accomplish this year. But it all starts right here.”

From their competition down the road: Lady Vols say they’re heeding Warlick’s message

Tennessee guard Ariel Massengale says the Lady Vols are listening more closely to coach Holly Warlick this season.

 The Lady Vols are hoping that extra attention helps them earn the Final Four bid that has eluded them since their 2008 national championship season. Tennessee opened practice Monday with most of the nucleus back from a team that went 29-6 and reached a regional semifinal last season.

From Notre Dame: Irish Women’s Basketball Tips Off 2014-15 Preseason,

It’s been a few years since Muffet McGraw first put a whistle around her neck and stepped on a court in a dimly-lit gymnasium not far from the Main Line in suburban Philadelphia, to begin her first practice as a basketball coach. And while it’s true Archbishop Carroll High School is a far cry from the bright lights of the University of Notre Dame’s Purcell Pavilion and college basketball’s biggest stage at the NCAA Final Four, don’t think for one second that the Fighting Irish Hall of Fame head coach isn’t excited about the start of another season.

From Jim Fuller at the Citizen Register: UConn’s Moriah Jefferson has chance to step into leadership role

The casual onlooker may wonder how the UConn women’s basketball team plans to replace the production of graduated All-Americans Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley.

While it will be no easy task replacing what Dolson and Hartley brought on the court, the bigger issue facing the two-time defending national champions could be who fills the rather sizeable hole in the leadership department.

Big things are expected from seniors Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Kiah Stokes, but the reality is that they are more of the lead-by-example types. Certainly reigning national player of the year Breanna Stewart will be a leader just based on her incredible skill set and list of accomplishments. But junior point guard Moriah Jefferson could be the most likely candidate to become the Huskies’ unquestioned leader.

UConn’s Dailey thankful for World Championship experience

Two days ago Geno Auriemma and Chris Dailey were in Istanbul, Turkey as the United States team, featuring five current or former UConn players, won the FIBA World Championship for Women.

After a long day of travel, the UConn head coach and associate head coach were back on campus and back at work. Auriemma looked absolutely spent and considering how he graciously gave me more than 15 minutes of his time when I was up at UConn for a football press conference before diving head long into his national team responsibilities, I resisted the temptation to corner him for an interview. However, when Dailey walked by me earlier today, I was able to spend a couple of minutes with her so she could reflect on her time as an advance scout for the gold-medal winning U.S. team.

Lady Raiders search for Rowe’s replacement

It’s been only a week of practice for the MTSU women’s basketball team, so it’s no surprise coach Rick Insell has more of his own questions than he has answers.

At this point, the 10th-year coach is simply emphasizing “repetition, repetition, repetition.”

“We gotta keep doing what we’re doing right here in practice,” he said. “Make them work harder.”

He added, “We’re not too bad. I’m not happy with where we’re at, but I don’t need to be happy right now. I need to be happy, in January.

“We’ll get there.”

Out of Lincoln: NU women’s basketball notebook: Huskers begin to try to replace Hooper

“Right now the elephant — the big things — are a little scary,” Yori said Wednesday. “Can we score on a consistent basis, and can we get defensive rebounds? Those are scary, because you think, who did we lose? We lost one of the best scorers of all time in the history of this program, and one of the best defensive rebounders of all time. Those are big things. Those are areas right now where we’re not very good.”

From Oregon: OSU women’s basketball: Beavers focused as practice begins

Over the first three days of practice, there was a focus unlike anything previously seen for Scott Rueck’s Oregon State women’s basketball program.

It makes sense as the Beavers return a plethora of talent that contributed immensely to one of the best seasons in program history.

Tough news for the Buckeyes: Ohio State women’s basketball: Makayla Waterman out indefinitely, facing knee surgery

Similar bad news in Colorado: CU women’s basketball: Buffs kick off practices without Roberson

Throughout the offseason, Arielle Roberson felt as healthy as ever and went through workouts determined to lead the Colorado women’s basketball to a great season.

On Tuesday afternoon, she sat in the Coors Events Center seats with crutches nearby as she watched her teammates go through their first official practice of the 2014-15 campaign.

“It just really sucks,” the junior forward said.

Cappie’s off to Australia: WNBA star signed to replace import Monica Wright, who is also injured

The loss of star recruit Elizabeth Cambage to a season-ending Achilles tendon injury and the failure of import Monica Wright to recover from what was seemingly minor knee surgery forced Dandenong to send out an SOS less than two weeks before the start of the 2014/15 WNBL season.

And it was answered on Thursday by WNBA superstar Cappie Pondexter, who signed a one-year deal to join the Rangers. The 31-year-old American guard is expected to be in uniform for the season-opener on October 18.

From Jonothan Lintner at USA Today: Native American community recognizes Shoni Schimmel

Shoni Schimmel often recognizes her Native American following, signing autographs and taking pictures after games with those who travel to see the University of Louisville graduate who grew up on an Umatilla reservation in Oregon.

This week, it was Schimmel who was recognized for her prominence as a 2014 Native American “40 under 40” award recipient.

From  at The Wrap:  WNBA Star Brittney Griner Talks About Becoming First Openly Gay Athlete Endorsed by Nike

Suivez-la Swoopes: Sheryl Swoopes’ son commits to Texas Tech

From Stephanie Kowalsky at the starsnews.com, timely but tough news: Ruthie Bolton: Ex-WNBA Star Victim of Domestic Violence; “It’s a Very Lonely Place to Be”

Breaking down in tears in front of a packed room, Bolton admitted in public for the first time that her ex-husband was abusive and that she used to live every day in fear of what he may do to her.

“I was living in an abusive marriage,” Bolton said, according to ESPN. “I could do whatever I wanted on the basketball court, I could defend an opponent, or hit a big shot, but I couldn’t get a grasp on my personal life.”

Out of Chicago: She didn’t play a minute, but Jersey City college student a star for WNBA team

“I was just scared to talk to people,” said Ortega, 21, who was born in Hoboken, but lived all her life in Jersey City with her family. “I thought my thoughts were either stupid or weren’t worth saying, so I just kept most of it to myself.”

Fast-forward to her final year at Centenary College in Hackettstown, and Ortega is the president of its Sports Management Association, is a mentor to freshmen students, and most of all, had finished a summer internship with the WNBA team Chicago Sky, where she was ranked No. 1 out of 8 interns in sales.

From Fast Company: Will the Future of Sports Reporting Include Sports Reporters? 

Dano first approached the men’s major leagues, but didn’t get anywhere. “There was interest, but the bigger leagues are a bit more cautious and guarded with how they adopt things,” he says. So he decided to focus on the WNBA, a league that could benefit more from the publicity. “The WNBA was really receptive,” says Dano. “Once we broke that ice, that validated things. We had one good partner, and they talked to their colleagues in the other leagues.” There are now about 40 WNBA players using the service, the most from any league. “Just about every player idea that we’ve gone to SportsBlog with, they’ve accepted and helped out with,” says WNBA Players Association director of operations, Pam Wheeler.

Out of the NCAA: June Courteau named coordinator of women’s basketball officiating

June Courteau has been named the NCAA’s national coordinator of women’s basketball officiating, bringing more than 45 years of officiating experience to the position.

“I have had the unique opportunity to work closely and learn from the last three national coordinators and am thrilled to be provided this great opportunity,” said Courteau. “Maintaining the momentum created by Anucha Browne at the national office on both the rules and officiating fronts is job one. The stakeholders in our game, including the rules committee, coaches, coordinators of officials and the officials themselves must continue to be heard and have buy-in towards these decisions. We continue to strive for a free flowing and up-tempo game.”

WATN? Lafayette women’s basketball staff adds Hall of Famer Theresa Grentz, former U.S. Olympic coach

“Passion, charisma, expertise and integrity are just a few adjectives describing coach Grentz,” Leopards head coach Dianne Nolan said in a news release. “I am very excited for our players, staff and the Lafayette community to interact with coach Grentz, as she shares her wealth of knowledge and experience.”

BTW: NBA Announces Major 9-Year TV Deal With ESPN, ABC, TNT: WNBA And NBA D-League Get New Contracts

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I know Atlanta is resilient, but OUCH! Minnesota was hot ice. Atlanta was a hot mess.

From Mechelle: Lynx make quick work of Dream

In the third quarter of Sunday’s opening game of the WNBA Finals, Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry ran right into a screen set by Minnesota’s Janel McCarville. The Dream star hit the deck, then sat for a second shaking her head, trying to figure out who had just constructed a wall in the middle of the court.

That’s kind of what it felt like for the Dream most of the game, actually.

Echoed by the AP: Minnesota Lynx dominate Game 1 of WNBA Finals

From Nate: Minnesota Lynx show off the flexibility of their roster in Game One rout

The Minnesota Lynx’s 84-59 win in Game One of the 2013 WNBA Finals was a pretty good example of what makes this team so difficult to beat.

The Atlanta Dream’s defense did get 15 turnovers out of the Lynx, winning the turnover (percentage) battle by a narrow margin. All-WNBA point guard Lindsay Whalen was held to just 3 points on 1-for-4 shooting, which is a positive for any opponent. All-Star forward Rebekkah Brunson had a team-high 5 offensive rebounds, but only scored 4 points on 2-for-6 shooting.

But that wasn’t enough to stop the Lynx.

And Mike Peden at Full Court: Lynx overwhelm the Dream in a dominating mismatch

It was supposed to be championship game, not a scrimmage between the varsity and JVs — but if not  for a rabid crowd of more than13,000 packing the seats at Target Center, Minnesota’s 84-59 demolition of the Atlanta Dream could easily have been taken for a preseason practice between the stars and the benchwarmers.

From Tim at the Pioneer Press: Minnesota cruises in WNBA Finals opener and Bad back can’t keep Janel McCarville out of Game 1 and Minnesota Lynx give Dream a rude awakening in WNBA Finals opener

If this is the tone, it could be a very short series. It is also perhaps reminiscent of 2011, when the Lynx swept Atlanta in three games to win their first league championship.

Minnesota set a tone physically, too, with hard screens and a willingness to take charges, not caring that it committed more fouls (18) than the Dream (11). The Lynx weren’t afraid to spend time on the floor, either, flying out of bounds to keep scoring plays alive, as Wright did in the third quarter when she batted a ball backward to Moore for a crowd-energizing layup.

From Tim Faklis at Canis Hoopus: Lynx Go Up 1-0, Beat Atlanta 84-59

Perhaps the most notable stat of the night: 0-15 shooting from beyond the arc for the Atlanta Dream, who struggled shooting the ball the entire night. Leading scorer Angel McCoughtry (6-24) and Jasmine Thomas (3-15) took the most shots for Atlanta, who collectively shot 31.2 percent on the night on 77 field goal attempts.

“We’ve been through this before. First game against Washington, it was the same thing, we bounced back,” Angel McCoughtry said following the game. “We’ll figure it out. That’s the type of team we are. It’s going to be a dogfight.”

In the battle of the Bench Sparks, Monica was the brightest.

If there was a list somewhere called “The Last Thing Atlanta Needed in the WNBA Finals,” having Minnesota bench-spark extraordinare Monica Wright turn in one of the best nights of her career was probably in the top three.

Michelle on (the other) Becky: Forward Brunson boosts Lynx

Brunson is in her 10th WNBA season. Ask her how old she is and she simply responds, “old.” She’s 31 and she laughs heartily when reminded that a simple Internet search will yield the answer.

Ask her Minnesota teammates how important she is to what they do and what they hope to accomplish, and they are much less cagey.

“She is so pivotal to the foundation of this team,” said Maya Moore, while Whalen called Brunson “our cornerstone.”

Photos from MPR. (The AP’s Stacy Bengs did a nice job!)

The Baltimore Sun pays attention: Baltimore native McCoughtry seeks WNBA title

“It means a lot, I mean each time is special. You work a lot to get there, and to get there is pretty awesome,” McCoughtry said. “This time, we’re really just trying to go ahead and get over that hump and take the victory home. We have a different team, different coach this time, so hopefully we can just be up to the challenge.” 

LSU pays attention: Augustus Set for Third-Straight WNBA Final

Augustus said she represents LSU through her achievements whether it is in the WNBA, overseas or in the Olympic games.

“You definitely need to have some pride about being able to represent Louisiana, Baton Rouge, LSU and everyone who’s ever supported you up to this point,” she said.

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From the .com: The X-Factors: Monica Wright and Tiffany Hayes

Atlanta’s slogan for the playoffs reads: “Teamwork makes the dream work!” That theme was true in the path to the Finals for both the Dream and Lynx. While both teams have standalone stars, each team wouldn’t be in this place without the supporting cast, specifically the X-factors.

Each team has a spark. That one player behind the stars that really puts the team over the edge in order to win the big games. For Minnesota that energy lies in fourth-year guard Monica Wright and for Atlanta it’s in Angel McCoughtry’s go-to shooter, second-year guard Tiffany Hayes.

Also de le .com: Angel Leads the Way

“She’s been a good leader for us throughout the course of this season,” he said. “That was something we talked about extensively in the offseason. She’s matured a lot as a player, she’s emerged as a full-fledged triple threat player getting us steals, points and passing the basketball.”

Teammate Tiffany Hayes said McCoughtry’s leadership has been the driving force as the Dream prepare for their third WNBA Finals appearance in the past four years.

“I think she motivates us more this year,” she said. “She’s always led by example, but this year she encourages by being more of a vocal leader and I think that’s really been helping us.”

Dave Southorn at the Idaho Statesman notices: Former BSU point guard ‘Fast Freddie’ is running the show in Atlanta

Williams, who played for the Broncos from 1977-79, is in his first full season as head coach and general manager of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream. He has guided the team to the WNBA Finals against the Minnesota Lynx, which begin Sunday, and after serving on the staff since the team’s inception since 2008, it is a moment he is savoring.

“Not many coaches get to see something built from stage one up to this point, so this is definitely a special feeling,’’ Williams, 56, said.

 Nate’s been wicked busy: Erika de Souza’s All-WNBA caliber season

It’s generally difficult to determine what qualifies someone as “underrated”, but there’s definitely evidence to suggest that Atlanta Dream center Erika de Souza has earned the label.

She was a blatant snub from the 2013 All-Star game before being added as an injury replacement for Chicago Sky star Elena Delle Donne. And by almost any statistical standard, she was an equally blatant snub from the 2013 All-WNBA team.

Three keys to the Lynx winning a second title and Monica Wright, versatility & the Sixth Woman award

With 6:23 left in the first quarter of the Minnesota Lynx’s loss in Atlanta on August 20, coach Cheryl Reeve took a timeout to try to stop the Atlanta Dream’s momentum.

After racing out to a 6-0 lead, the Dream were up 10-4 and nothing seemed to be working well for the Lynx – they were looking disoriented as an active Dream defense applied pressure on the perimeter and they couldn’t seem to stop Dream penetration on the other end.

Richard, too:

2013 WNBA Finals Preview: Minnesota Lynx vs. Atlanta Dream – Part 1, Match-ups and Challenges

Here we go again, everybody. The Minnesota Lynx are in the WNBA Finals for the third consecutive season, looking to regain the title that they lost a year ago. The Atlanta Dream are back in the championship series for the third time in four years. The franchises clashed in the 2011 Finals, with relatively similar rosters – and the Lynx won in a sweep. But that feels like a long time ago, and a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. The 2013 regular season, which saw the Dream finish .500 while the Lynx were their typical dominant selves, is largely irrelevant now. So a series from a couple of years ago definitely can’t be considered particularly important. Everyone starts the Finals 0-0, and the Dream’s confidence should be high after a sweep of Indiana to win the East, where they went some way towards reestablishing their identity. The track record of the Lynx makes them worthy favourites for this series, but they won’t have things all their own way.

2013 WNBA Finals Preview: Minnesota Lynx vs. Atlanta Dream – Part 2, Key Themes and Factors, and the Final Verdict

Now for the topics, trends, decisions and debates that are likely to decide the WNBA Finals, or are at least worth paying attention to as the series goes along. Many of them were touched upon in Part 1, where we took a closer look at the personnel involved, but now we’ll get more in depth. Then, just for fun, I’ll offer up a prediction. Although with the way it’s been going for me with picks this year in the postseason, you might want to go the other way.

Mr. Youngblood at the Star Tribune is not to be outdone: Lynx’ Maya Moore enjoying playoffs more than Lynx’s two opponents so far

For Maya Moore, the anticipation, the excitement had been building. So when the Lynx took the Target Center court last week for the first game in their Western Conference championship series with Phoenix, it was like Moore was being launched from a cannon.

“She’ll tell you the first five minutes of that Phoenix game, she just blacked out,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said, “because there was so much adrenaline.

“Now, she played like it,” Reeve said, laughing. “That’s why we had to take her out.’’

McCoughtry’s fuming turned Atlanta around late in season

A couple of weeks ago, Angel McCoughtry — seemingly by the force of her personality — changed the course of the Atlanta Dream’s season.

Wildly erratic during the regular season, the Dream stumbled into the playoffs at 17-17, then opened the postseason with a home loss to Washington in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

McCoughtry’s line for the game: 20 points, four rebounds, three assists, two blocks and one meltdown. “If we’re not upset right now and embarrassed on national television, then we might as well go home now and not show up in D.C.,” she fumed after the game. “Right now needs to be the turning point, this very moment.’’

Lynx are looking to ‘finish job’ against Atlanta in WNBA Finals and Lynx can no longer use the ‘no respect’ line

BTW: Elizabeth Dunbar at Minnesota Public Radio has this: Lynx success has turned team into profitable venture

As the Minnesota Lynx prepare for their third straight appearance in the WNBA finals, Glen Taylor finds himself in rare position: owning a WNBA team that’s profitable.

It took a decade to get there, the billionaire says, and it feels good.

John Altavilla at the Hartford Courant: Maya Moore’s Winning Way Continues With Another WNBA Title Shot

Jayda’s still here: Maya Moore vs. Angel McCoughtry in best-of-five series on ESPN networks

The Gwinnett Daily Post notices that the Lynx are sweeping through the postseason

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution finally pays attention.

More than two weeks ago, after a dispirited loss to Washington, an aggravated Angel McCoughtry sat in her locker and defiantly said she wanted to win a championship with the Dream.

From Mechelle: Once again, it’s Maya versus Angel – Former Big East rivals, U.S. teammates face off in WNBA Finals

Matchups between contrasting stars are always intriguing. And Minnesota’s Maya Moore and Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry, Olympians whose teams meet in the WNBA Finals starting Sunday (ESPN and WatchESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET), certainly have their distinct differences.

Moore seemed like she was in her 30s even when she was an 18-year-old. She carries herself with almost a regal dignity, her emotions generally hidden behind the “Maya mask” that somehow successfully mixes implacability and humility. She will not let up until she defeats you, but she’s not going to rub your face in it.

As much as Moore’s countenance rarely gives anything away, McCoughtry’s expressions say all kinds of things. Everything, actually. Over the years during games, you might see her look elated, irritated, amused, bemused, furious, frustrated, determined, resolved. In interviews, McCoughtry could be charming, funny and insightful — or she could be borderline morose. Or somewhere in the range in between.

From Michelle: Reeve shows the way for Lynx

And so we return to the WNBA Finals, the occasion of Cheryl Reeve’s seminal moment as a WNBA coach. The day she threw her jacket.

Upset over a non-foul call in Game 2 of the 2012 WNBA Finals, Reeve lost her cool and one article of clothing, tearing off her blazer and tossing it while yelling at the officials.

But if Reeve earned national airplay with her revealing outburst, it is only a colorful distraction from a coaching career that is starting to build momentum in the legacy of the league. An illuminating moment, but still only a moment.

From SlamOnline: SLAM Radio: WNBA Finals Preview, Draft and Stash, Isaiah Whitehead

Mechelle and Brenda do the podcast thang.

HoopFeed’s podcasting, too: Lin Dunn and Brian Agler break down the WNBA finals

Watch out! WNBA Bringing Back Ref Cams for Finals

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The US WOMEN are rollin’ at the WUG — though a 30-pt win wasn’t a breeze against Sweden.

“Our defense in the second half was much better than it was in the first,” said USA head coach Sherri Coale(University of Oklahoma). “We kept the ball in front and forced them into taking contested shots. We did a much better job on the defensive glass. They are a tremendous offensive rebounding team and go at it very hard. If you can block them out, then you have an advantage in transition on the other end. That was what we were able to do in the second half.”

Reminder: ESPNU will air the USA’s semifinal game at the following dates & times: July 13 @ 1 pm ET || July 13 @ 10 pm ET || July 14 @ 5 am ET || July 14 @ 11 am ET. If they make the Gold Medal game: ESPNU: July 15 @ 1:30 pm ET || July 15 @ 9 pm ET || July 16 @ 8 am ET

It wasn’t easy, but Whalen and Wright led Lynx past Indiana

It was easy, as Candace Parker’s 30 points helped the Sparks get first road win

Alaska’s greatest women’s basketball player finally steps off court at age 31

Ryan Larsen has been named head coach at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

High school basketball has its issues: Prep Charter girls’ basketball team to surrender titles

And its ambassadors: Beloved Trenton Central High School girls basketball coach continues free summer camp despite funding cuts

As the girls basketball coach at Trenton Central High School, Reginald K. Murray may hold the record for most wins in girls’ basketball in Mercer County and serve as a major speaker for national coaching conventions, but right then, the girls in his free summer camp needed to get their footwork down.

Inside a sweltering gym at the school last month, Murray pushed the young athletes, who ranged in age from high-schoolers down to fourth-graders, through agility drills before moving onto the next exercise.

The sessions known as Hell Week went on for five days before Murray picked teams for tournament play.

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the Czechs were the victims… followed by the Brazilians.

Sherri’s bloggin’:

Every afternoon I try to take a little jog around the village. It’s therapeutic. And there is always plenty to see. I find it funny that the outdoor courts that join flag alley in the median of campus are a magnet for athletes from all countries. There are nets and goals and hoops, but by and large people gather there to shoot baskets. Plain and simple. Sometimes boxers shadow fight themselves in the corners and occasionally people hit a volleyball back and forth, but mostly athletes gather just to hoop. It’s so funny. Most are ridiculously awful and yet seemingly unashamed–I suppose their prowess in their own respective venues more than tides them through.

Not gonna gloat, but did you see who won last night’s Minny/Dream game? Someone thought “Losing Augustus could be nightmare for Lynx against Dream,” but that wasn’t the case. During the first half, though, I did want to say to Rebecca — yah, the Lynx are shooting a zillion %, but they’re still only up 10 or so… but that became a moot point in the second half as Minnesota made another home-court statement, overwhelm Atlanta. Who stepped up? A Cavalier: Wright engages starting role as Lynx dismantle Dream. And yes, Minnesota Lynx looking a lot like WNBA’s best team

Do not despair, Atlanta, cause even though the Dream Fell to Minnesota, They Still Holds Best Record in WNBA

Ray’s an EDD fan too: Elena Delle Donne’s combination of attitude, intelligence and talent helping her succeed in rookie year

She stood in a corner outside the Chicago Sky locker room, a barrage of cameras, microhones and notepads in front of her.

The media closed in more than some defenses.

Through it all Elena Delle Donne was cooperative, insightful and generally cheerful. A 93-64 win on the road, cynics would say, helps the disposition. True, but in his case this is classic Delle Donne – this is who she is.

Revisiting the “expand the roster question” issue about “no one to practice against,” remember the Merc promo/gimmick? Mercury’s challenge working out

Michael Romero sprinted down the basketball court, hoping to at least slow down the opposition’s fast break.

But the other team had numbers and were pressing in transition. Romero turned to pick up the ball handler. Too late.

A devastating screen sent the 5-foot-11 Romero tumbling to the floor. Standing over him, seemingly unfazed, was 6-foot-2 Phoenix Mercury forward Candice Dupree.

“She just drilled me with this nasty screen,” Romero said. “It was like, man, these girls are rough, they can play.”

With that bone-rattling pick, Dupree opened the eyes of one male non-WNBA fan. The Mercury hope to do the same to thousands more, albeit in a less intimidating way.

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We were one, off-balance, rim-tickling shot away from getting a game three between LA and Minny.

I guess you could, as the headline on Smith’s piece says, the Lynx “overcame” Candace’s 33, but looking at the stats, you can also see that the Sparks didn’t have a bench — well, not a bench that could impact this game.

Yes, when Candace nailed an improbable (and TV pleasing three), I’m sure fans (and the Lynx) were having Seattle flashbacks. BUT, then Monica nailed the counter-three,  (Flashback number 2:Minnesota Lynx coach: ‘We’re better’ than last year, thanks in part to talented reserves) and the ball ended up in Beard’s hands. Great defense by the Lynx (who may have had fresher legs) and Alana couldn’t carry her team back to Minnesota.

It hurt to see Candace bent over in pain. But that’s the blessing and curse of sports, isn’t it — all but one end up losers. Said (congrats coach of the year, though I still would have voted for K) Ross:

“Either it wasn’t a good play or it wasn’t executed very well,” Ross said. “You are so frustrated with every decision you make in a one-point [loss]. I will probably spend way too much time scrutinizing it.”

Interesting to read Nate’s Notes on watching the game on tape.

It’s 72-71 with just under 6 minutes left after a Whalen layup and this has been a great game: outstanding individual performances, the Sparks playing some of their best defense for about five minutes, and both teams seizing momentum for extended stretches before the other team grabbed a hold of it. The question down the stretch is who will have more energy left to dig in and win this game with championship-caliber execution at both ends.

Heartache aside, it was a great game to have on national TV. Thank you, players & coaches.

Oh, and congrats to Mama Taj on her 500th game.

That being said, LA, and the rest of the West, better work on getting a bench —  ’cause right now, Minny’s got the young legs to carry them for a while.

Next up: Can Connecticut’s mix of young and new take down the Indy vets.

From the Courant: Sun Hope To Keep Bottling Up Catchings, Playing Up Charles

From the Norwich Bulletin: Connecticut not underestimating Indiana

The lesson has already been delivered to the Connecticut Sun this season by the Indiana Fever: underestimate us at your own peril.

On June 19, the Sun were feeling pretty good about themselves after an 88-85 win over Indiana at home. The two teams both packed up and left the Mohegan Sun Arena together, bound for Indianapolis where two days later, the Fever smoked Connecticut by 34 points, the worst loss of the season for the Sun.

For a while the other night, they could have darkened the scoreboards at Mohegan Sun Arena and measured the first game of the Eastern Conference finals by first downs.And so while the venue changes tonight (to Bankers Life Fieldhouse, 8 p.m., ESPN2), the narrative changes (only one team’s season could end) what remains steadfast is this: The Connecticut Sun and Indiana Fever will use each other for punching bags.

Did you catch this by Graham after the first game? Charles’ true value shines in third

On those nights it’s not in use by the Connecticut Sun, Mohegan Sun Arena is a stop for musical acts that, frankly, often saw their best days long before the WNBA came on the scene.

Eddie Money, Journey (with special guest Loverboy, no less), Meat Loaf, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, all will pass through this corner of Connecticut in the next few weeks alone. They are safe bookings, familiar names that will draw crowds who don’t really care if they are any good now, happy to pay for the memories of when they were.

But on nights when they lay down the basketball court and leave the lights on, Tina Charles offers reminders of what it’s like to see a star ascending, a performer growing into the role each time she takes the stage. And her performance in the opening game of the Eastern Conference finals between the Connecticut Sun and the Indiana Fever deserved an encore, never more than when she let loose with a solo in the third quarter.

Graham also added this: January meets challenges head on

What’s left to do won’t be easy for the Indiana Fever. Should inspiration be required, they might do well to look to the difficult path Briann January trod simply to have a season she can put on the line.

More importantly, they will look to her for the points, assists and defense that could make all the difference.

From David Woods: Indiana Fever’s Tamika Catchings will try to snap a cold spell

As the WNBA’s five-time Defensive Player of the Year, Tamika Catchings can stop almost anyone.Conversely, everyone tries to stop Catchings. That is, if she is not stopping herself.

Also, from the NY Times: Amid Successes, W.N.B.A. Is Still Facing Challenges

With all the good news that it has to shout about, the W.N.B.A. may be the quietest professional sports league in the United States.

The challenge, we all know, is rooted around narrative. Remember how important it was when ESPN — hate’em or love’em — decided to broadcast ALL the NCAA tourney games? The W needs to actively court bloggers, writters, videographers and ESPN. And when they GET a game on national TV, they need to make sure that every single seat is filled — whatever that takes. The story on the court — and off the court — has improved. We’re just not telling that story to enough audiences.

Part of that is reminding them that the W exists. It’s pretty awful that the NYTimes doesn’t carry the W on their scoreboard, and Laurel should be crawling up their butt about that. But what about SB Nation, home of Swish Appeal? Their banner lists the major men’s sports, golf, fantasy… there’s no WNBA. There’s no listing for women’s college basketball (even though the link title is CBB). Heck, the W ain’t even listed under “More.” But “Horse Racing” is. That needs to be changed.

Hey, Nate — need some help making your voice heard? Holler! I’m sure we can get enough fan response. Right?

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playing some basketball and the .com’s paying attention: Euroleague Wrap: Wright’s Week

Minnesota’s Monica Wright received the FIBA Europe Player of the Week award in the third week of overseas action. Wright, who is playing in Poland on the Lotos Gdynia squad, scored 26 points on 12-of-23 shooting to give her team its first win of the season. Lotos’s record improved to 1-2 on the season and ranks them fourth overall in Group B standings.

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