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So, THAT’s not how the Sparks and Lynx wanted to get out of the post-Olympics gate….

LA went up to Seattle and got squeezed by the Storm, 79-72. Stewie struggled, but Bird picked up the slack, hitting 5-7 from behind the arc.

“It’s surprising because we didn’t have the best offensive night. It was all about defense for us,” said guard Jewell Loyd, who finished with 15 points, seven assists and five steals with just one turnover.

Nneka continued her hot play, but it wasn’t enough.

“I think we sat around for six weeks and everybody told us how good we were and I think we softened up,” said Sparks Head Coach Brian Agler.

Maybe Excelle should play the lotto (Connecticut Sun: a team on the rise, playoffs in sight) ’cause the Lynx got stymied by the Sun (and Moore’s foul trouble)  in Connecticut, 84-80.

“We have to grind,” Sun coach Curt Miller said. “We don’t out talent anyone. There’s a reason that four of those players (on the Lynx) are on the Olympic team. We aren’t going to out-talent anyone in this league, but we have to out work and out tough.”

No one on the Lynx is pointing to the Olympics as an excuse:

“In the end, it’s probably a wash,” said Reeve, when asked before the Lynx’s 84-80 loss to the Sun if fatigue or lack of sharpness would prevail. “Any advantage they may have from being off, full-rested, maybe honing some skills, the group that was over in Rio is in game shape and has that rhythm of playing a game. That’s something you can’t simulate when you’re off.

In San Antonio, the Liberty kept their focus and dispatched the Stars, 84-77, thanks to the sweetness that is (MIP) Sugar. Hello, playoffs!

Elena Delle Donne brought the 34-point boom to Chicago as the Sky took down Atlanta, 90-82.

“We took care of the basketball, and I think the key was we married that to good offensive execution and attacked and got to the free throw line,” said Sky coach Pokey Chatman. “I think that comfort allowed us to weather the storm when we were down by seven and then up by eight. 

“It was nice to see that, and we’ll need it as we head on to Dallas.”

Speaking of Dallas, the eternal Pierson’s 23 (and 4000th) couldn’t help the Wings against Penny “sore throat” Taylor and the rest of the Merc.

Phoenix Mercury players won a combined four medals at the Rio Olympics, and more importantly, may have found the defense and chemistry that was missing before the Olympic break.

Despite falling behind by 11 early against Dallas on Friday night, the Mercury hammered the Wings 98-72 before 11,396 at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Phoenix’s most one-sided win of the season came against a team it went 0-3 against pre-Rio, including a triple overtime loss June 18 after leading 75-59 going into the fourth quarter.

Washington Post: Mystics and WNBA are back from Olympic break, but LaToya Sanders got no rest

Aussie, Aussie, ello! Mystics Sign Leilani Mitchell as Bria Hartley starts planning for a munchkin.

Slam Online: WATCH: WNBA Super20

The historic 20th WNBA season has been one for the record books. The Lynx and Sparks got off to a blazing hot start, the W has faced controversy for trying to police its players and the basketball has never been better.

With all the talent and storylines around the League, the final part of the regular season and the playoffs provide a guaranteed storybook ending.

Get hype for the rest of the 2016 campaign, picking up again tonight, with the video above, featuring highlights from the first part of the summer.

Also: Nike & WNBA Star Elena Delle Donne Donate Sneakers To Delaware Newborns

Meanwhile:

Doug Bruno savors experience with USA women’s basketball team

Baylor women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey donates to Louisiana hometown in wake of flooding

Vermont women’s basketball cancels game at UNC over transgender bathroom law

“The decision to cancel to our Dec. 28 women’s basketball game at North Carolina was made as a result of concerns over the HB2 law, which prevents transgender people from using government-run bathrooms based on their gender identity,” University of Vermont athletic director Jeff Schulman said Wednesday. “We strive very hard to create an inclusive climate for our students and staff in which they all can feel safe, respected, and valued. It would be hard to fulfill these obligations while competing in a state with this law, which is contrary to our values as an athletic department and university.”

WATN? Rodrigo is new grad assistant for Georgia basketball

WATN? Mo’ne Davis shifts her drive to the basketball court: The Little League World Series pioneer two years later

Davis, 15, is heading into her sophomore year of high school at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. She dreams of a career in the WNBA, and she knows the journey begins with the process of college recruitment. That’s why Davis has made the decision to forgo high school basketball this season – after representing her school as an eighth-grader and a freshman – and exclusively play AAU with the Philly Triple Threat team, where she can go head to head with the best talent in the nation.

“I made the decision because it was time to start getting out there in front of college coaches and showing my improvement over the next two years,” Davis said.

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the MSG employee (and her fabulous family) who offered me a seat with her “group” so that I could be near the two South Korean students who I escorted to their first Liberty game. She’s a two-time cancer survivor, with three young children who are GREAT company. So. Much. Fun. And so much generosity of spirit. A classic WNBA experience.

Of course, it helped that the Liberty won. Not to be a party pooper, but when it takes the ferocious effort of the soon-to-be-retiring Swin to inspire your team to to a close win over a struggling team... I’m not impressed.

On the flip side, a shout out to the “Not in MY house” Dream who stopped the Sparks.  With authority. Admit it – you lost money on that bet.

“We just wanted it,” McCoughtry said. “I told the team this was the game that could be the turnaround for our season. If we can beat them, we can beat anybody in this league. I hope the girls take this win and build their confidence so we can contend in this league and do some damage.”

Sucky Sancho news, though.

In case you haven’t notices, Elena is DAMN good. Delle Donne Brings Versatility To Life In MVP-Caliber Performance

As the Sky make their push for the playoffs over the last dozen games, they’ll need EDD at her MVP-best. Which is right where she was on Sunday in Seattle. 

Delle Donne poured in 35 points on a neat 14-for-24 shooting, grabbed 11 rebounds, and drained the game-winning three right over Breanna Stewart’s outstretched arm with just one second remaining.

For the geeks amongst us: Free Basketball: Analyzing The Historic Number Of WNBA Overtime Games

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Welp – I guess the cream of the West showed the Challengers of the East, huh?

Fare-the-well:  Inside The W with Michelle Smith

Swin Cash was on a conference call for the WNBA on Monday morning, talking with reporters in conjunction with Tuesday night’s nationally televised game between the Sparks and Liberty, which is an anniversary rematch of the first-ever WNBA game back in 1997.

She was, as always, a passionate, eloquent advocate for the league, a veteran spokeswoman for her team, and as it turns out, a soon-to-be-retiree.

Cash announced Tuesday morning via a personal essay for The Players Tribune that she will be ending her decorated WNBA career at the end of the 2016 season.

Social Reaction: Swin Cash’s Retirement

Film Room: Running Down a Dream

Candace Parker Provides Perfect Spark

Crap: Chicago Sky loses guard Laney to season-ending knee injury –

WATN? WNBA star Nicole (Ohlde) Johnson: Never give up

NCAA

“In the recent months, there have been accusations and false attacks made of my character and coaching,” Swoopes said in a statement released by a public relations firm. “I stand proudly in my values, actions and intent of representing the best interests for students — as athletes, but more importantly as individuals.

High/Middle School

Thank you : Master at his Craft: Longtime Collinsville Middle School girls basketball coach retires

After 30 years and more than 600 victories as a girls basketball coach at Collinsville Middle School, formerly North Junior High, Greg Craft is calling it a career.

Craft, 55, retired in May as a science teacher and coach. More than anything, he will miss the relationships he’s built with players during the last three decades, and it’s that aspect of retirement that has Craft not ready to completely say good-bye.

WBHOF

June Courteau first heard an official’s whistle while growing up in Minnesota, specifically when she exceeded the three-dribble limit during a high school physical education class. Her reaction was swift and pointed.

“I told the teacher ‘that’s stupid,’ ” she said.

Courteau undoubtedly has been on the other side of such a comment. She has 45 years worth of experience in officiating. She worked for decades on the court in the heat of the moment. She now oversees such work as the NCAA coordinator of officials.

It’s hard to separate Natalie Williams the basketball star from her volleyball alter ego. This weekend’s festivities in Knoxville will constitute a supreme effort in that regard.
Since she was on a basketball scholarship at UCLA, Williams considered herself to be a volleyball walk-on. She was a four-time All-American walk-on (1989-1992) who helped lead the Bruins to volleyball national championships in 1990 and 1991. She was the first woman to receive All-American honors in both sports in the same school year (1992-93).

Sherri Coale, in her own words
Summitt’s stand re-launched OU women’s basketball, and ignited a Hall of Fame coaching career
Friends and Foes: Conradt, Sharp Reflect on Coale
Sherri Coale has been model of consistency at Oklahoma

The AAU girls basketball tournaments that span age groups and take place throughout the country serve to promote the sport. They also honor and preserve the legacy of Bill Tipps.Eddie Clinton is involved with the AAU program in West Tennessee and benefitted from Tipps’ assistance as the organization’s national chair. Clinton saw firsthand Tipps’ people skills and diligence in action. “It was a labor of love for Bill,” Clinton said. “Whatever it took to build girls basketball, he wanted to do. Girls basketball would not be what it is today without Bill Tipps.

“We’re girls and we just want to have fun,” said 90-year-old Mary Wersells, the first girls’ basketball coach at Simeon High School as she reflected on the history of the sport.

Nearly four decades ago, Title IX was enforced which prohibited discrimination against female athletes. This opened the doors for pioneers in Chicago like Wersells and 81-year-old Narcissa Roberts, who became the first girls’ basketball coach at Corliss High School in 1973.

INTERNATIONAL
Library Additions: 
Rise and Fire by Shawn Fury. Writes Shawn:
The book basically traces the jump shot’s influence on the game from the time of its introduction to today’s dominance of the 3-pointer. But along the way I take a lot of detours and one chapter focuses on the 1968 Iowa girls title game. It featured the shooting exploits of Jeanette Olson and Denise Long. I write about both players and that famous game and then of course about Denise being drafted by the Warriors. It was my editor’s favorite chapter in the book and several reviews have noted it, including the Washington Post’s.

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HOT

Even in first gear, 1. Minnesota and 2. Los Angeles look inevitable. Shifting the WNBA Playoff format may have been one of the best decisions the league has made in the last 10 years.

Can the Lynx be the Warriors of the WNBA this season? Should they try?

Film Room: Assists Sparking LA’s Unbeaten Run

3. Yesterday’s game against Washington notwithstanding, Atlanta seems to have finally all its talent together. Can Angel continue to “trust” and can her teammates continue to show up…

Dream’s improved chemistry key to fast start

Sitting in the parking lot of Austell’s Riverside EPICenter, where his team practices, Dream coach Michael Cooper said there are two reasons why the WNBA squad is 5-1 and atop the Eastern Conference after finishing fifth and missing the playoffs last year.

The first is an upgrade at center and at point guard.

The second reason given by Cooper was chemistry. Leading scorer Angel McCoughtry referred to it as positivity after Sunday’s win over Chicago.

Atlanta Dreaming: Meet the Upstart Leaders of the Eastern Conference

HOT and COLD

4. New York: Interesting comment from last night’s Seattle/NY broadcast – when leading by 7 last year, the Lib did. not. lose. That’s been an issue this year – the Storm’s comeback attempt is a case in point. Charles is on fire, and Sugar is smokin’, but the rest of the team is a question mark – do the show up (hello, Indiana game) or not? Much of the Lib’s future will depend on Prince’s ability to return (post Olympics?) to create a more consistent inside/outside balance.

5. Indiana: The team that defeated Atlanta on opening day was not the team that showed up at the Garden on Friday. Dunno how much Maggie Lucas’s injury will impact the team as a whole (or knowing they’ll be working for a new coach next year), but, the good news is…

Rookie Report: Tiffany Mitchell Shining For The Indiana Fever and Fever’s January still working back from knee injury

6. Chicago: Now that Sloot is back, perhaps we’ll see their real potential

The Sky’s not the limit: DePaul alum Allie Quigley an integral part of the Chicago Sky

Fastbreak: WNBA Weekly Rundown: Streaking Sky and struggling Sun

After a rough start to their season, the Chicago Sky are getting back on track. Last season, they compensated for a lackluster defense by outrunning and outgunning the competition, playing plenty of three-guard lineups with Elena Delle Donne at the 4.

This year, things are a little different. With their center position log-jammed, coach Pokey Chatman has had to figure out minutes distributions for her post players, which has led to larger lineups and a lack of continuity at the 5.

Despite this, the Sky have retained their success on offense, and after starting 1-4, they’ve won their last three games to vault them back into playoff contention. 

And: Wrigley’s World: Sky star Elena Delle Donne’s four-legged fan

7. Dallas: Young and Gun. This early in their Texas career it’s important to win on their home court. Or, if they’re going to lose, lose with high scoring enthusiasm. Eventually, though, the word “defense” will have to enter their play.. ditto health.

8. Seattle: Not sure what to make of them, but the Stewie/Loyd pairing is sure sweet (sometimes). How quickly can Boucek mold old and new?

Alysha Clark enjoying fast start to WNBA season

Q and A: Breanna Stewart On Transition to Storm And Going Back To Connecticut

On Friday, Breanna Stewart returns to Connecticut for the first time since leaving UConn just a few months ago. Ahead of the Storm’s meeting with the Sun (7 PM ET, WNBA League Pass), Breanna Stewart talked to reporters about adjusting to the WNBA, her partnership with Jewell Loyd, and what it will be like to return to Connecticut.

9. Washington: Bill’s early advice was to “get healthy.” They’re getting there (as their win over Atlanta showed). Will it hold?

HOT MESS

10. San Antonio: I love Dan Hughes, but what on earth has he wrought? GM Ruth will have some reorganizing to do. Are Peters and Jefferson strong enough building blocks?

11. Phoenix – They look at sixes and sevens, with not-good rumors floating… NOT what the fans (or the GMs) expected, no?

.com: Petrovich Molds All-World Talent into Reserve Role for Mercury

Scottsdale Health; Diana Taurasi: Back, and Better Than Ever

12. Connecticut: Would love to talk to coach about his learning curve.

The message on Friday from Connecticut Sun coach Curt Miller was pretty simple.

If his players don’t want to put out the effort that he wants in the game plan that he has devised, than they just aren’t going to play for him.

“Everyone in this league wants to play and you have to reward people when they are playing hard and when they are playing efficiently,” Miller said following the loss to Atlanta on Friday at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

To the fans, please be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

In other news:

SlamOnline: Go Ahead and Respect It How going to a WNBA game changed one man’s outlook on the women’s game.

I’ll be honest with you: I wasn’t a fan of the WNBA growing up.

I didn’t pay much attention to their games, even though I knew a few of their stars (Lisa Lesile, Sue Bird and Becky Hammon). Heck, I didn’t even watch those dominant, title-winning women teams at UConn. All because I thought watching women’s basketball, wasn’t a “cool” thing to do.

Who, as a male sports fan, watches that stuff? (Insert sarcasm and misogyny.)

Unfortunately, our counterparts receive a bad reputation for their game. You’ll hear offensive comments regarding their skills, looks and even sexuality. Despite having backing from the NBA and an aggressive public relations plan, the WNBA can often struggle to catch America’s attention.

But something changed for me last Tuesday, as I covered the New York Liberty vs Atlanta Dream game at Madison Square Garden.

LaChina: ‘Around the Rim’ podcast: All about chemistry

On this week’s “Around The Rim,” women’s basketball analyst LaChina Robinson and this week’s special guest host former WNBA All-Star Chasity Melvin delve into the discussion of team chemistry.

The two highlight how the Mercury are finally showing signs of gelling together, how the Lynx haven’t missed a beat this season, which rookies are shining in the first weeks and give their take on the first-ever WNBA AP rankings. Plus, they share their picks for the NBA Finals.

Think the WNBA is in Trouble? Let’s Talk Some NBA History

Magazine cover gives WNBA some overdue respect

Early on, no player more important to WNBA than Cynthia Cooper-Dyke

For those interested in expansion: Women’s hoops league to put team in Nashville

NCAA

Excelle Sports feature on ESPN’s Holly Rowe details workload covering women’s basketball

As Breanna Stewart walks to center court for the tip-off at the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Women’s basketball tournament in Bridgeport, Connecticut, a murmured buzz runs through the crowd that’s seated courtside. But it’s not for Stewart, the most recognizable name in the women’s college game, or even for UConn, the mecca of women’s college basketball.

“It’s Holly Rowe,” someone says over my shoulder, pointing toward the court. Sure enough, Rowe glides past in a navy blue dress and heels, smiling to the fans who shout her name and stopping to shake hands or hug those who extend a greeting.

Throughout the game, Rowe, a longtime ESPN sideline reporter, hustles from one bench to the next and works her way up and down the sideline, stopping only briefly to review notes or chat with the occasional fellow member of press row before dashing off to cover the next on-air moment.

Flashback to the Old Big East days: Bulger sisters sparked WVU women’s hoops success

Re: Duke Transfer: UConn Fans Are Going To Like Azura Stevens, Says ESPN’s Debbie Antonelli

As Azura Stevens was emerging as a college prospect at Cary High in North Carolina, analyst Debbie Antonelli took special interest.

Stevens, after all, was playing for Antonelli’s alma mater. Before playing for Kay Yow at North Carolina State, Antonelli — then Debbie Mulligan — played basketball at Cary High.

So Antonelli has a history with Stevens, who recently transferred from Duke to UConn. And as an analyst for many ACC games, Antonelli has watched Stevens develop during her first two years of college.

Her scouting report for UConn fans?

Speaking of transfers: McDonald’s All American Lindsey Corsaro commits to UCLA after getting release from Kentucky

Kentucky transfer Jennings joins USC women’s basketball team

Scott Rueck’s ‘vision of what elite is is even more clear’ after Final Four run

In this wide-ranging conversation with The Oregonian/OregonLive, Rueck reflects on the memorable season and looks ahead to what’s next for the Beavers. 

It’s officially June. Have you finally had a chance to really step back and reflect on everything that happened this past season?

From time to time, because it comes up so much with people. There’s obviously been a lot of conversation about it. I don’t know if you step back and look at the whole picture, really. I don’t know when that will happen, necessarily. But just the specific moments that come up have been fun to go back and look at. I’ve watched our highlight video a few times. That was really well-done and that brings back vivid memories. There’s a lot of reliving the Baylor game with all of us. That’s the one that tends to come up the most. It was an amazing thing to be a part of.

Women’s Basketball: Ohio set to dominate the MAC again

Dumping high expectations on a team certainly doesn’t make playing any less stressful.

That was the reality Ohio struggled with all last season, a year removed from an NCAA Tournament appearance, with a returning roster that could produce the best result in program history.

Yes, there was pressure. At times, that led to visible stress.

Embrace the Challenge: Courtney Banghart and the Tasks Ahead for Women’s Basketball

On the right wall in Courtney Banghart’s office is a framed article: Fortune Magazine’s 50 Greatest Leaders from 2015. There, her name and accomplishments are listed alongside people such as Apple CEO Tim Cook, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. Banghart’s lead of the Princeton women’s basketball team to a 30-0 regular season, and the first NCAA win in the program’s history, earned her a continuous spotlight all season long.

As a leader in the national spotlight, her abilities to guide her team are tested night in and night out. But this upcoming season could be one of the most unpredictable for her in many seasons. She is forced to handle not just a drastically changing roster but also a league continuously growing and evolving.

Hello! UCF WBB adds 8-time WNBA All-Star Nykesha Sales to coaching staff

Bye: OSU women’s basketball: Close leaves program

Bye: Three women’s basketball coaches depart Marist

Stay put: Purdue’s Versyp Granted 6-Year Contract Extension

Bye: Purdue’s Komara to join White’s staff at Vanderbilt

Shoo: Alabama women’s basketball program moving games out of Foster Auditorium

After four years playing in a refurbished Foster Auditorium, Alabama women’s basketball is moving back a few blocks to Coleman Coliseum.

The school announced the move Tuesday morning as coach Kristi Curry expressed her desire to create an electric game-day atmosphere. Foster Auditorium holds 3,800 while Coleman Coliseum seats more than 15,000.

Kings’ coach recalls friendship with Muhammad Ali

The second person Nancy Lieberman called after she got the assistant coaching job with the Sacramento Kings was Muhammad Ali.

She shared her first memory of seeing ‘The Greatest’ at the age of 10.

“Late 60’s early 70’s, you know, people were telling me, you know, I’m stupid, I’m dumb, I’m never going to make anything of myself, girls don’t play sports and I saw this man on T.V. you know, defying the odds and saying he was the greatest of all time,” said Lieberman.

It wasn’t until she was 19 or 20 years old when she met him.

INTERNATIONAL:

Opals in women’s basketball loss to Spain

The Australian women’s basketball team have received a taste of what to expect at the Rio Olympics in a 58-55 loss to Spain before Spanish fans.

After smashing Argentina by 42 points in the first game of their European tour a day earlier, the world No.2 Opals had a much tougher task against world No.3 Spain in San Fernando on Tuesday morning (AEST).

Team Canada’s Tatham promoting women’s basketball to next generation

US Coach Promotes Wheelchair Basketball in Gaza

A top U.S. coach is in the Gaza Strip to help set up the territory’s first female wheelchair basketball team.

“I think for Gaza this is a very unique thing,” said the trainer, Jess Markt. “I think there are not so many opportunities for women to play sports here, and particularly for disabled women.”

Markt, 40, was a track athlete until 21 years ago when he suffered a severed spinal cord in a car accident. Three years later, he began playing basketball and in recent years he has coached wheelchair teams in Afghanistan, India and Cambodia.

POLITICS

Women’s Sports Foundation Report:
Coaches of Women’s College Sports Face Widespread Gender Bias; Many Fear Speaking Out

80% of female coaches believe it is easier for male coaches to secure high-level jobs  

Today the Women’s Sports Foundation released, “Beyond X’s & O’s: Gender Bias and Coaches of Women’s College sports,” the first study to measure the issue of gender bias in coaching of women’s college sports on a systemic basis.

The findings confirm that there is a systemic gender bias directed at female coaches of women’s sports; it is not sporadic or limited to a few institutions. As a result, women face limitations in pay and professional advancement in the coaching workplace. And it’s a trend showing no signs of improvement. 

(Yes, this is politics) Naomi Jackson at espnW: On loving broken women and Brittney Griner

Everything in my life has prepared me to love damaged women, women who drag their broken wings behind them “like a decoy,” as poet R. Erica Doyle writes in her collection, “Proxy.”

“You hold back enough to keep them curious. Women like that. Wounded enough to be salvageable. Women like that, too. Fixing broken things. Take in the broken wing you drag like a decoy.”

It begins, as everything does, with my mother. Schizophrenic and eventually unable to care for her children, my mother vacillated wildly between affection, praise, bouts of intense creativity and joy and seemingly infinite rounds of melancholy, listlessness and abuse. Living with a mother whose mental illness made her behavior erratic and her presence unreliable made me an expert at reading other women, at shaping my needs, desires, and self to fit their moods.

As I move into grown womanhood, I’m shedding this tendency toward accommodation and emotional acrobatics that put other people’s (lovers, friends, colleagues) needs before my own. I get it wrong sometimes, as humans do, but we make the road by walking.

Jane McManus: It’s time to lift the ‘veil of ignorance’ when it comes to campus assault

Baylor’s former president and chancellor Ken Starr sat with ESPN’s Joe Schad for a televised interview after a Pepper Hamilton report alleged systematic disenfranchisement of students who reported being sexually assaulted by other students, including some players on the football team.

Starr called for transparency and simultaneously hid behind his “veil of ignorance,” a garment that can be found next to the cloaks of deniability in Aisle 5. It’s a gutsy move, calling for others to be forthright when you can’t lead by example.

Starr was evasive throughout the interview, even on a question about how Baylor handled the assault claims.

SO….. what do you think the folks who gave the video below a thumbs down were thinking?

Maybe they like this Onion report: College Basketball Star Heroically Overcomes Tragic Rape He Committed

 

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It’s almost as hot as L.A. and Minnesota are… yup, counting down to June 21st.

Meanwhile, folks in Chicago and Phoenix are scratching their heads.

Excelle: What’s wrong with the Phoenix Mercury?

Prior to the season, the Phoenix Mercury were favorites to take home the 2016 WNBA Championship. The majority of the league’s general managers picked Phoenix to win it all in their annual survey. Multiple Associated Press voters and some betting sites also favored the Mercury. But not two weeks later, the team is 0-4 and playing the worst defense in the WNBA. So, what happened?

It’s important to note that we’re just four games into the season, so hitting the panic button would be premature. Two of Phoenix’s losses were at the hands of the Minnesota Lynx, the defending champions. The other two were tight games against solid teams. Things could turn around quickly, but not without addressing some red flags.

Meanwhile…

SlamOnline: Q+A: Imani Boyette – With patience and hard work, Chicago’s rookie center is staying ready for when her number is called.

One record-setter salutes another – Pro from Don Lugo congratulates athlete who took her place in book

“My dad sent me this article and the photo and it said you broke my record,” Ms. Taurasi told Ana during their meeting on the court. “That’s good, records are meant to be broken.”

Their meeting was video taped, and was part of a 90-second video shown to the 10,000-plus fans in attendance that night during a time out.

Star Tribune: Lynx aim to stay undefeated vs. familiar foe

Moving on up: Unbeaten Sparks 2nd in AP WNBA power poll and WNBA: The Los Angeles Sparks Will Fly

Jeff Jacobs: Chiney And Nneka Ogwumike Foes On Court, Sisters Off

They went to dinner together Wednesday night. And when this game had ended, Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike walked off the court together, arms wrapped around each other’s shoulder.

After the 77-72 loss to the unbeaten Los Angeles Sparks, a heartened rookie Sun coach Curt Miller would say he felt his team had “grown up” Thursday night at Mohegan Sun Arena. The coming schedule, of course, will prove Miller correct or not.

This much is certain. Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike have grown up together and will never grow apart. Sisters forever.

Rolling Stone: Elena Delle Donne’s Silent Supremacy

Amsterdam Times: Liberty drop two overtime games (Yah, we know. Sigh)

Billboard: Ballin’ Out Podcast: Fat Joe & the WNBA’s Breanna Stewart on How They Came ‘All the Way Up’

ESPN: WNBA veteran DeLisha Milton-Jones wants to go out on own terms

After another “Year of Women’s Sports” is it any surprise we get this from the Times? Pro Basketball|After Two Decades, WNBA Still Struggling for Relevance or AJC’s Is WNBA’s expectation for success just a dream?

Then there’s MSR: Youngsters inspired by WNBA trailblazers

These are the post-1997 players. These women hoopsters saw first-hand America’s longest running and most successful women’s pro basketball league as it moved from the drawing board to reality. As youngsters they could finally join their male counterparts and dream about something that many pre-WNBA generation players could only do abroad — one day playing pro ball in the States.

“The first time I thought about it, I was in fourth grade,” said Morgan Tuck, a rookie with Connecticut.

Dallas rookie Aerial Powers noted, “I can’t remember a specific moment [when she thought about playing professionally], but I do remember the Lisa Leslie dunk and her putting her hands up to the crowd.”

NCAA

Welp: Ole Miss self-imposes postseason ban for women’s basketball; reduced scholarships in football

Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie battles on and off the court

This was planned as the story of a 50-year-old coach who uses her celebrity to help raise awareness and funds to combat a deadly disease that haunts her life and scarred her body. The fact her 2016 team failed to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time in her nine-year tenure, the first time at Duke since 1994, only made it a more compelling tale of struggle and challenge.

But things have a way of turning out differently than we expect.

Hello: Hartford Hires Kim McNeill As Women’s Basketball Coach

Not too surprising, considering her record: Alabama A&M University: Head coach Semeka Randall resigns

Bye/Hello: Syracuse Women’s Basketball: Florida Guard Isis Young to Transfer to Orange

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“Weeeee are the Champions.” (What, too soon?) Lynx’s ‘fast start’ overwhelm Sky in Delle Donne’s returnFowles scores 24 against former team; Lynx beat Sky 97-80In First Game Against Former Team, Sylvia Fowles Joins Elite Company

Elena Delle Donne may be the face of the Sky. But when it comes to the franchise’s voice, that is all Cappie Pondexter.Chicago Sun-Times: Pondexter lends voice, veteran leadership to Sky

 The 10-year veteran has no trouble being the Sky’s resident vocal leader, but after a disappointing loss in last season’s WNBA Eastern Conference semifinals, Pondexter is done mincing words.

Make no mistake. This is Tamika Catchings’ team.

It is also Marissa Coleman’s team, and Shenise Johnson’s team, and Erlana Larkins’ team … and who knew it could be Erica Wheeler’s team while she fills in for point guard Briann January?

“It could be anybody’s night on any given night,” Coleman said.

That was never more true of the Indiana Fever than on Wednesday night.

Three of the first four possessions for the Washington Mystics in their game against the Dallas Wings on Wednesday night resulted in turnovers. The other produced a missed layup. Coach Mike Thibault was, to say the least, displeased.

The frustration didn’t end with just his players though. The officiating also provoked Thibault’s ire to the point he walked past halfcourt at Verizon Center midway through the first quarter and shouted to referee Sue Blauch: “Give me a technical now.”

 Phew! Sun get first win of season, 72-68 at Stars and Bone spurs Sun past San Antonio.
It’s gonna be tough in San Antonio this year….

While the world rightfully continues to go bonkers over “Hamilton,” I’ve recently found myself pleasantly lost in the past with another Broadway smash hit. The nearly 40-year-old — can it be? — “Annie.”

This was prompted by my nephew playing Oliver Warbucks in his high school’s production. It reminded me of how great a musical this is, even when performed by theater novices (including, in this case, a Harlequin Great Dane named Waffle in the role of Sandy.)

Now, just hang with me; we’re getting to the WNBA, with its 20th season just launched.

 

If Candace Parker was looking to make a point, she made it all right. Thirty-four times, in fact.

The question isn’t whether Parker was trying to make a statement Sunday with her 34-point effort in Los Angeles’ 96-66 win over Seattle at Staples Center. The question is, which statement was it?

Was it a message to USA Basketball that despite not being selected to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team that she is still on a short list of best players in the world?

Was it a reminder to the WNBA that the two-time MVP is as dangerous as ever and prepared to dish it out over an entire season after taking half of last season off?

WNBA STAR TINA CHARLES ON HOW STRONG, SUPPORTIVE WOMEN HELPED HER SUCCEED

Why are you excited to participate in She’s On Point?

For me, a lot of it was about giving back to Karen Pedrosa [who was the park manager at the time]. She was always keeping Roberto Clemente open late so we were able to scrimmage against the guys. She would travel with us to the AAU [Amateur Athletic Union] games. She’s just an awesome individual. She’s the Deputy Chief of Bronx Recreation now, and it’s a testament to the impact she’s had on the community.

UConn women’s basketball legend Bird wants to end career on her terms

When she re-signed with Seattle in the offseason, Bird made certain she had a multi-year deal. She didn’t want her contract status to determine when the final year of her career arrives.

“Truthfully, the way I view it is a one-year plan. Everybody has their own (way). Tamika Catchings is an example of somebody who announced her retirement early. Then Ray Allen is somebody I communicate with and he is somebody that never announced it. Just stopped. But that was what was right for him,” Bird said.

“I think every player when it comes to their retirement only knows how they are going to feel and how they want to do it. And right now what is working for me in my own little mind is a one-year plan.

LaChina and Carolyn Podcast: We’re Back…For The WNBA

From Charles Hallman: A ‘simple’ job: Marketing the WNBA 

Last Saturday night, after she handed the Minnesota Lynx players and coaches their 2015 championship rings, Borders worked the “room” where nearly 10,000 people were in attendance for the team’s season opener. Madame President earlier told the MSR, “I am the number-one salesperson for the WNBA. That is absolutely true.”

She heads a league that is celebrating 20 years, but to too many eyes — media, Joe Rockhead males and others — it has been 19 years too long. “We are 20 years old, which is remarkable by any standard,” continued Borders. “But we are just getting started. We’re young and nimble.”

The president and this reporter briefly touched upon several topics:

USA Today’s Nina Mandell: Retired WNBA star Katie Smith wants to leave lasting legacy on women’s game as a coach

Long before Katie Smith, a 17-year veteran of the WNBA, knew she was going to become a coach there was no shortage of coaches who told her she would join their ranks one day.

“I’ll say it right in front of her,” Mystics coach Mike Thibault said, walking by Smith as his team prepared to play the New York Liberty, where Smith was promoted to associate head coach this season. “I told her she was going to be a coach and she said no. Years ago when I coached USA Basketball, I said, ‘You know you’re going to end up being a coach.’”

Smith replied that she was going to go to dental school or do something else, but Thibault wouldn’t listen. 

NCAA

NCAA.com Rules group pleased with state of the game

[Use of technology and other] areas the Women’s Basketball Rules Committee will continue to study and discuss include:

  • Widening of the lane from 12 feet to 16 feet.
  • Moving the restricted-area arc to 4 feet from 3 feet.
  • Moving the 3-point line from 20 feet, 9 inches to the international distance of 22-1.
  • Deterring players from faking fouls. A warning would be issued on the first offense, followed by a technical foul on subsequent offenses.
  • In free throw situations, teams would be allowed to substitute only before or after the foul shots are taken. There would be no substitutions allowed in between the two or three free throws.

You stay put: Scott Rueck signed a two-year contract extension

WATN? Langston University hires Elaine Powell to replace Cheryl Miller as head coach

LADY VOLS ADD JUCO STAR – London Native Cheridene Green Becomes Lady Vols’ First International Signee . This calls for a flashback: Junior Colleges: Where Opportunities Knock – November 2007

Last season Shannon Bobbitt (Trinity Valley Community College) and Alberta Auguste (Central Florida Community College) became the University of Tennessee’s first junior college signees since – well most couldn’t remember when last it happened. (1977, by the way.) How’d it work out? Just ask Middle Tennessee State coach Rick Insell.

“First time ever Pat took two [Junior College] kids and what happens? She wins a National Championship. Did those kids play a major part in them winning that? Absolutely. Would she have won it without them? Who knows?”

“But she won it with them.”

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…what, too soon? Fine. I’ll wait.

So, the ranked team’s held serve Sunday and Monday…

….except for #12 Kentucky, who got turned-over by Florida. (Speaking of the Wildcats, Mitchell’s Dishin’ and Swishin’)

….and #8 Arizona State who got obliterated by #9 Oregon State. With the return of point guard Sydney Wiese, the Beavers are building their confidence.

…and #16 Miami, who got squeezed in the last minute by the Orange, 57-51.

As expected, #1o TAMU gave #2 South Carolina all they could handle… and then it was Mitchell time.

#14 Louisville has quietly strung together 15-in-a-row.

#15 UCLA beat the Utes, but it took monster fourth quarter.

Deja vu all over again when #16 Stanford met Washington.

That’s 2000 points for Ms. Plum. I wonder if Jackie is hearing footsteps.

Maybe it’s the WHB jinx hangover, but Notre Dame sure was sluggish against Duke.

The Wolf Pack chewed up the Tar Heels.

Yup, George Washington did win… but the Billikens put up a fight. St. Louis is on the rise under coach Stone – and she’s doing it with youth.

And suddenly, Northwestern is 2-8 in the Big Ten.

And Seton Hall is 7-4 in the Big East.

Hmmm… Colorado got its first Pac-12 win against USC, 66-63.

Look! It’s Texas Southern atop the SWAC.

Big South is interesting: UNC Asheville, Liberty and Presbyterian.

Junior Wagner guard Jasmine Nwajei scored more point than Miami did v. Syracuse (52 points).

About d’at UTEP team: Parker brings rebounding back to Miners

There aren’t many areas where the UTEP women’s basketball team has room to improve, as its 18-1 record indicates.

But, one area where the Miners have been rather middling is in the statistic coach Keitha Adams always preaches: rebounding.

The Miners enter this Marshall/Western Kentucky road trip sixth out of 14 Conference USA teams in rebounding margin, but that’s about to get a whole lot better.

Who needs polls, the tops seeds are…

Say what? Renee Montgomery bitten by spider as Canberra Capitals’ season from hell gets worse

Say yes: Sue Bird Is Tired Of The WNBA Being Compared To The Men’s Game

WATN? Kisha Ford-Torres Protects and Serves

Once her basketball career concluded, she earned her master’s degree in healthcare and international business from Baker College in 2001. She spent some time as a forensic accountant for a firm in Atlanta while also working on an MBA in accounting at Baker College, where she completed her degree in 2007.

A year later, Ford-Torres was inducted into the Georgia Tech Sports Hall of Fame.

She went from serving up assists to her teammates at Alexander Memorial Coliseum (now McCamish Pavilion) to serving the citizens of DeKalb County (Ga.) as a senior police officer. Today, she serves the people of Brevard County, Florida, in a different capacity – deputy sheriff. Ford-Torres has spent the last 10-plus years in law enforcement and is also a 1st Lieutenant in the Army National Guard, serving five years as 1st Lieutenant – Battalion Staff Officer and 2nd Lieutenant – Platoon Leader.

OT: Yes, I’m obsessed with John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey’s Radio Deluxe. Great music, always, and they sound like they’re having so much fun.

Not at all OT: News on Holly Rowe’s Health

“I wanted to share some personal news as I face a new challenge ahead. In May, I had a tumor in my chest removed and I have recently learned that there is a new tumor, which needs to be removed via surgery today. In the coming days, I will know more about what potential additional steps I may take to address this situation.

“I am very grateful for the support of my bosses at ESPN, who are fully behind me as I take the time to beat this, as well as the incredible connections to The V Foundation. I also sincerely appreciate the guidance of colleague Shelley Smith, who battled cancer so courageously last year.

Hugs and health to Holly. The Final Four wouldn’t be the same without you.

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Bad news for Liberty fans: Epiphanny Prince has surgery for torn ACL

Hmmmm…. Goldstein resigns from WNBA players union

“I’m very passionate about player rights and, having worked at the MLBPA, was excited to see how I could advance the causes of this union,” Goldstein said. “I think we’ve made some good strides. But as things transpired during my tenure, it seemed there might not be a shared vision of how to continue moving this union forward. So I decided to step aside.

Natalie Achonwa has never been so busy.

The Canadian forward is a promising newcomer for Dike Basket Napoli in Italy’s Serie A1, latest stop in a roundabout basketball career that’s yielded two gold medals and brought her within one game of the WNBA title. It’s Achonwa’s first season of overseas basketball and the start of a brand new, round-the-clock cycle in her pro career – WNBA and international duty with Canada in the summer, Euroleague in the winter.

“That is reality for us. Playing overseas is how we make a living,” says Achonwa. “Whether we are going into a qualifier summer, a World Championship summer, or an Olympic summer, it is what we have to do.

When she gets back home, she better study the rule book: New rules changes for the 2016 WNBA season announced

NCAA:

From Graham: Dayton rules the Mid-Majors (but will they stay there after the loss of Kelley Austria?), followed by the Wabbits and Tigers and…lookee! The Army Knights.

Army probably isn’t a program that can compete at this level on a regular basis, but this shapes up as a once-in-a-long-time kind of season. The three most important players are seniors who have started most or all of their time in the program: Kelsey Minato, Aimee Oertner and Jean Parker. And Minato can play on any court against anyone. In going to Duke and closing within four late in the fourth quarter or beating an Albany team on the cusp of these rankings, Army played the kind of defining games it simply didn’t have on the schedule en route to 23 wins a season ago.

The Women’s Mid-Major poll has a different top three: Gonzaga, Princeton, Green Bay.

LadySwish has Gimme Five (or six): the state’s top teams (Dec. 8)

Resounding road victories at Penn State and at Tennessee sent an emphatic message, particularly from a Tech team that had stumbled badly at Georgetown (73-56 losers) in its only previous road contest. While the win over the Lady Vols generated the headlines – and understandably so – in some ways we were even more impressed with what happened in State College, Pa. Tech seized control early, held it together during a Nittany Lions’ second-half run then used back-to-back 3-pointers from Hannah Young and Vanessa Panousis to snap a 44-44 tie and re-assert command. Tough stuff, particularly in the other team’s building. Of course, they don’t hand out trophies for what teams do in December, and the Hokies still have some things to clean up (23 turnovers vs. Penn State; 10-20 FT shooting at Tennessee). But as we sit here today, this looks like a team that can compete for a spot in the top half of the powerful ACC.

Penguins…lose!

Hello, Washington State – they take down Gonzaga, 55-48. The 8-1 Cougars are off to their best start since (fakers) Milli Vanilli’s “Blame it On the Rain” was atop the charts. Next up: The Gaels.

Nice win for San Francisco over Long Beach, 66-52. Take a moment to check in with coach Azzi.

Speaking of coaches trying to turn a program around, I’m noticing that Erik Johnson has Boston College off to a 7-1 start.

So far so good for Georgia, who stand a 8-1, having passed their first test. Speaking of tests: Point guard Marjorie Butler is redefining “student-athlete”

The Georgia Bulldogs came home last week from a Thanksgiving tournament in Southern California on an overnight flight that got them there early Monday morning. After landing, everyone headed home or to class except senior point guard Marjorie Butler.

She stayed at the airport to catch another flight – to Virginia, to interview for medical school. After that, she flew to Tennessee for another interview with a school the following day.

Wednesday night, Butler put in 7 points, dished 5 assists and grabbed 4 rebounds in Georgia’s home win over Mercer.

Extra air miles aside, it was a pretty typical week for the 22-year-old starter, who will graduate next spring with two degrees before beginning her quest to be an orthopedic doctor.

Oregon’s rising: Mark Campbell’s tireless approach helping Oregon women’s basketball turn corner

Louisville’s recovering: Psychology keeps Cards women ‘above the line’

Cortnee Walton acknowledges that not everyone believes in the benefits of sports psychology, but the Louisville women’s basketball veteran does, and she credits it for the Cardinals’ recent bounce back from a 1-4 start.

U of L topped then-No. 19 Michigan State last week before routing Valparaiso on Saturday, victories that set up Walton and company with some momentum heading into Thursday’s game at No. 8 Kentucky.

Break my record? I’ll come to your party: Banham to be Honored.

Prior to tipoff against Memphis on Saturday, the Gopher women’s basketball program will recognize Rachel Banham for breaking the Minnesota career scoring record. Former record holder Lindsay Whalen will be part of the ceremony. The game will begin at 2 p.m. at Williams Arena.

Banham passed Whalen’s total of 2,285 points during the Gophers’ game against Auburn in Puerto Rico. She has tallied 2,349 points entering the matchup with the Tigers.

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Still trying to wrap my head around the Lib’s domination of Indy – mostly centered on the continued revival of Sugar’s game and the, “Wait, has it FINALLY clicked” of Kiah’s offensive game. Folks did a nice job filling the seats the “day after.”

Now it’s time to ponder what Indiana has in store for us today. I have a fondness for the Fever because, well, 1) Catch. ’nuff said 2) the coaching transition Lin and Stephanie have managed – wow, and 3) they keep you honest – smart, determined and fierce, when challenged, the whole group comes after you.

From David Woods at the Indy Star: Fever must defend better to keep season alive

Irrespective of coach or personnel, the Indiana Fever’s WNBA record of 11 successive playoff appearances was built on a foundation of defense. Cracks have been showing in this postseason.

In the past two games against Chicago (.571) and New York (.565), the Fever allowed the second- and third-highest shooting percentages in their postseason history. That can’t persist, or the Fever’s season will end Sunday.

From our AP folks: Tamika Catchings defies odds at 36 for Indiana Fever

Being down is nothing new to the third-seeded Fever. They trailed 1-0 in each of the first two rounds in 2012 and again in the first round this year before beating Chicago 2-1.

“Because we have the mental asset of having players that have been there, done that, going into the second game against Chicago, we were all on the same page,” Catchings said.

From Mechelle: Catchings, Fever need to control the game to stay alive in East finals

Back home at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse, where Indiana went 11-6 during the regular season, the Fever have to play a very different kind of game than they did in the series opener Wednesday. That 84-67 New York victory at Madison Square Garden was a best-of-the-Liberty show, as they dominated offensively from both the perimeter and the paint.

“We talk about controlling the controllables,” Fever coach Stephanie White said after Wednesday’s game. “Our effort, the hustle plays, being there on our rotations, having each other’s backs, box outs, setting great screens, using screens. We didn’t take care of our controllables.

Bill Littlefield, Only A Game (no, that is NOT a photo of the Lib coach) does a little flashback: WNBA’s Liberty Focus On Defense — Not Distractions — During Playoffs

Howard Megdal, who’s been writing about the WNBA this season for VICE Sports, feels people who attribute the Liberty’s recent achievements to Thomas fail to understand who built the team. He credits Basketball Operations Director Kristin Bernert and Coach Bill Laimbeer, who also worked together in Detroit.

“The idea that you need someone to oversee, you know, a couple of people who have had great success and have worked hand-in-glove for the better part of a decade and a half here in the WNBA defies belief,” he said. “Isiah was working hard to just get up to speed on the league.”

As Howard Megdal has noted, Thomas could hardly fail to understand the reaction he provokes in fans, even as the team over which he presides has flourished.

“I mean, there was a remarkable moment. They honored Becky Hammon, the trail-blazer and former Liberty star,” he said. “Isiah, in a very smart PR move, came out with Becky Hammon’s parents. He still got booed just the same, but he had plausible deniability. He could claim that perhaps New York didn’t like Becky Hammon’s parents.”

I wouldn’t mind a three-game series… but I have Joan Armatrading tickets on Tuesday. So… GO, LIB!!!!

The story is not much different in the Land of No Bun. Behind “Beast Brunson” (hmmm, another Georgetown kid – Go, Old Big East!) Minnesota secured a win – though certainly not in the overwhelming manner one has been accustomed to. The surprising Merc have some work to do if they want to play one more. Writes Michelle: 

After dominating Tulsa in two games in a first-round sweep and seemingly scoring at will, Phoenix went cold in Minnesota.

“We have been moving the ball well and putting up a lot of points the last month or so,” Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello said. “Maybe it was the moment, I don’t know. Some of these players haven’t been to the Western Conference Finals before. Minnesota has been there, done that, often. But we will go back to Phoenix and we know we will play better.”

From Tyler Killian: Mercury’s rebounding woes put them on the brink of elimination

Guard/forward DeWanna Bonner: “Man, they killed us on the boards. Brunson, in particular.”

Something else that should be obvious after one game of the Western Conference finals: If the Mercury can’t figure out a way to keep Brunson and the rest of the Lynx from dominating the glass, the issue that has been their biggest weakness of 2015 will be the one that ends up cutting their postseason run short.

Awards: Griner, Loyd, Defensive Team, Quigs and Seattle.

Speaking of Indiana, in other news: Lutterman, Beeler, Owen stood tall among SIAC girls’ coaching pioneers

The times they were a-changin’ in the early 1970s.

Just six days after the Watergate break-in, Title IX — authored by Indiana Senator Birch Bayh — went into effect on June 23, 1972. No longer could anybody in the United States be discriminated against on the basis of sex.

Bayh’s legislation created equal opportunities for women in academics and athletics. Although Indiana was a little behind the times, local pioneers such as Ginger Lutterman, Brenda Beeler and Louise Owen made an indelible mark that still resonates to this day.

This winter will mark the 40th anniversary of the first Indiana High School Athletic Association’s girls’ state basketball tournament.

Swish Appeal on Candice Wiggins: 

If it were your last day on earth, would you be able to say you lived life to the fullest? If you ask Candice Wiggins, she’ll respond with an ardent, “Yes.”

Watching her on the court is almost as entertaining as watching her lift her players up court-side. After Hearing her teammates speak so highly of her throughout the season – even describing her as the anchor of team, I had to find out more.

Who is Candice Wiggins, and does that energy follow her everywhere?

Bye: Brie Mobley done with UNCW basketball program

Bye: Edwards leaving ASU women’s hoops as medical exemption

Ouch: South Carolina’s Tiffany Davis Suffers Knee Injury

From Jennifer Gish, Albany Times: Women hitting athletic director glass ceiling

When I told my 7-year-old son we were going to a college football game the other week, his first question was “Women’s or men’s?”

That proved our time at the women’s tackle football championship game this summer was well spent.

For all the mistakes I’ve made as a mother — like going anywhere when any of us is hungry — I’ve completely scored when it comes to opening my little boy’s eyes to realizing sports isn’t just a man’s game. 

Too bad athletics isn’t quite there yet.

Earlier this month, Juliet Macur had an excellent column for The New York Times about how too few women hold athletic director jobs at Division I colleges. The numbers are around 11 percent for Division I. Things get slightly better at Division II and III schools, and factoring them in, women run the athletic departments at about 20 percent of colleges and universities nationwide. If you’re wondering if this is radical progress over the past 20 years — as girls have crowded tot soccer fields and U.S. women have brought home the World Cup in front of thousands of fans who know their names. In 1995, 16 percent of college athletic directors were women, according to NCAA statistics.

Any Minnesotans got info? 

Dorothy E. McIntyre, co-author of the book, Daughters of the Game – The First Era of Girls High School Basketball, 1891-1942, is seeking information on the 1924-25 Ellendale High School girls’ basketball team, coached by Mr. Bergesen, who also was the school’s principal.

In particular, McIntyre is looking for details on a gold basketball charm presented to Bergesen by the 1924-25 Ellendale boys’ and girls’ basketball teams.

The charm has the initial “E” with red inside, with 24 on the left side and 25 on the right. Below it reads, “Coach Bergesen from Boys and Girls Squads.”

The charm is unique as it was made for the players to give to their coach. The stitching and etching are clear.

What is not clear is where did the players order this charm? Jostens in Owatonna does not believe that their company made such charms in that era. Are there individuals who may have ties to the team? 

Congrats! Girls’ hoop refs to induct Fran Mitilieri in first Hall of Fame class

Speaking of officiating – As Lauren Holtkamp preps for her second season as NBA ref, she talks to Daily News about her path to the pros, Chris Paul and more 

Also speaking of officiating: For my Ohio Buckeye fan, those articles I mentioned.

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A heartfelt “THANK YOU!” to the two teams and the amazing fans in the Garden last night. You put on a helluva a show for Mr. Adam Silver aka Don’t Be A Wet Blanket, sir!

Also thrilled to see Suuuuuuuueeeeee celebrating great post play, T Edwards on the edge of her seat, and Val Ackerman one of the original “Originals” stalking the Garden steps. I even have a little love for the Dolson family – even though you were cheering for the Mystics. I see why she’s such a lovely woman…

The Lib and Mystics put on quite the show and, as many observers have noted, the electricity was back.With all my intellectual understanding of how important a NY win is to the league (no disrespect intended to the Mystics fans – they have been amazing and need to recover from some serious mis-management) I was taken aback by the surge of emotion that went through me when Stokes sealed the win with her block and Sugar super-sealed it with her free throws. It’s been a long time, kids.

By the way, FiveThirtyEight Sports – I know you say that “we don’t need no steeenkeen threes,” but I have to say that last night we sure enjoyed every single one Wiggins nailed.

Of course, as a reward, we get to play back-to-back games as we’ve been doubly evicted from the Garden.(First it was Madonna, then it was the Pope… I’m expecting Julio Iglesisas’ secret twin brother Jesus to announce a surprise concert.)

The conference finals open Wednesday in the East (ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET) when New York plays its second game at Madison Square Garden in as many days.

No. 1 New York (23-11 in the regular season) vs. No. 3 Indiana (20-14)

No offense to Washington, but from a league visibility standpoint, having New York in the Eastern Conference finals is a boost to the WNBA. But can the Liberty make it to the WNBA Finals for the first time since 2002? The team trying to stop them has more playoff experience as a franchise — 11 consecutive postseason appearances — and beat the Liberty four of five times during the regular season.

From Swish Appeal: Heavyweight battle: 5 major keys to Eastern Conference Finals

A LATE ADDITION from William: As Liberty Seek Title, Tina Charles Can Now Do More Than Dream

Charles played the full 40 minutes Tuesday and will, in all likelihood, have to play 40 more Wednesday.

No rest? No sweat.

“Being born and raised in New York, nothing is easy,” Charles said Tuesday. “Nothing really goes your way. So it doesn’t surprise me that we have to play tomorrow. It’s New York. Things like this happen. You just got to respond.”

For Charles, who was raised in Jamaica, Queens, and starred at Christ the King High School, Tuesday night brought back memories of the rocking Garden of her youth, cheering for women playing in a new women’s pro league that gave young players new horizons, new hope.

In Minnesota, the Lynx led wire-to-wire as Candace’s Superwoman cape wasn’t quite big enough. More of interest to me is the appearance of Sylvia Fowles. It looked like she was finally interested in taking an active role in this whole “pursuit of a championship” thang.

The Sparks, however, fastened their defense midway through the second half and pulled within one point early in the fourth quarter after a pair of Parker free throws.

But the experienced Lynx dug in, leaned on their veterans and rattled off a 9-0 run.

Augustus knocked down a 14-footer. Sylvia Fowles asserted herself in the paint and muscled through Sparks defenders for a couple of buckets. Superstar Maya Moore hit a step-back jumper and earned several trips to the free-throw line.

“We played on the edge every possession tonight,” Lynx point guard Lindsay Whalen said. “A couple lapses here and there, but that’s what it takes to win those games,”

In other news:

Say, what, Texas???!!!

It was a tense game between two third-grade basketball rivals, but it wouldn’t be until two months later that one team’s coach would feel the full effects.

Jessica Curs was coaching a team of 9-year-old girls in Burleson, Texas, when things got so heated that fans started heckling her, her husband and other coaches, she said. But it was when one particular fan, who turned out to be a plainclothes police officer, said he heard the coach fire back with her own comments that things escalated quickly.

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After that “instant classic,” the Liberty are in D.C. needing a win over the Mystics to extend their season. From the Suffolk Times: Sugar: An ingredient of success

The mid-season return of veteran guard Epiphanny Prince from overseas has reduced Rodgers’ minutes this year, but the Suffolk standout has been an undeniably significant contributor to the Liberty’s success.

“It’s been great,” Rodgers said. “To be honest, I’ve just been living in the moment. It’s always good to make history at a franchise, because they’ll remember this for a long time. So, like I said, I’ve just been living in the moment, appreciating the fact of just being here, just being thankful.”

From bulletsforever:

1. Knock the Libs out of the gym early 

There’s no need for me to talk about stats on this one. But if the Mystics can overwhelm New York from the start along with hometown support, that could very well be the push needed.

In 2013, the Mystics defeated the Atlanta Dream in Game 1 of their playoff series on the road. That gave fans a lot of optimism for Game 2 at the Verizon Center for an elimination game on September 21, 2013. But they came out totally flat in the first quarter and shot 25 percent from the field en route to a 63-45 loss.

In Tulsa, the short-handed Shock kept it close early, but Phoenix Griner made sure they ended their residency in Tulsa on a loss.

Watching Saturday’s night’s WNBA playoff doubleheader, I couldn’t help but think of the differing fates of two franchises and their cities.

Indiana beat Chicago 89-82 to extend their series to a deciding third game Monday in the Windy City. Tulsa, however, was not able to do the same against Phoenix. The defending champion Mercury won 91-67 and move on to the Western Conference finals, where they await the Minnesota-Los Angeles winner.

Now next season, the Shock will pack up and go to Dallas, or more specifically, Arlington, Texas. You could tell how much the Shock players deeply appreciated the loyal fans who kept showing up at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this season even after they knew the team would be theirs only a little longer.

Catch and her Collaborators were on point during a delightful back-and-forth game against Chicago.

“One of the things you have to continue to do against a team like Chicago is try to keep them off balance because they are so good,” Fever coach Stephanie White said. “They get a bead on you, and they exploit you. I thought our players did a good job of changing defenses and changing schemes, and executing those schemes.”

L.A. will see if they can push Minnesota to a Game Three.

Arena logistics aside, the main challenge for the Sparks will be slowing down Lynx forward Maya Moore, who put up a playoff career-high 33 points to go with five rebounds and four steals in Minnesota’s Game 1 victory. She and guard Seimone Augustus combined to score 50 of the team’s 67 points. Earlier in the week, Ogwumike predicted that the key to the Sparks’ success would be how they responded to Minnesota’s offensive attack.

“Our defense is really what’s going to hold our team together,” she said.

BTW, Mechelle sent out an encouraging tweet:

 16 hours ago:Had good conversation w/ NBA exec re: open letter to Adam Silver. Think we understand where each other is coming from, want best for WNBA.

Conversation! We LIKE conversation! Action is better, though…

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In Minnesota, New York roared back, the Lynx lost the handle on the ball over and over.. and over again. End result: NY secures home court advantage in the East… and Minny ponders how to regroup down two starters.

This was where the Lynx really missed Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen.

Sunday’s game with New York matched the two teams with the best records in the WNBA, it was an intense game, with both teams playing very hard.

And the Lynx, within two points with 2 ½ minutes left, had chance after chance to take this game. Instead, they gave it away, turning the ball over four times in their final five possessions.

That means they still either have to win one more game or have Phoenix lose one to clinch the Western Conference title.

Chicago’s win over the Storm keeps them closer to the second seed in the East. And it wasn’t just the starters.

Shoo fly!

Shoo Jamierra Faulkner!

Same difference, at least so says Faulkner, the Chicago Sky’s speedy reserve point guard.

“I’ve always been like a little fly, getting on people’s nerves,” Faulkner said with a laugh. “Whenever we guard the ball, every person on this team is always trying to get a deflection, get a hand on the ball.”

Faulkner got her hands on the basketball multiple times while on defense Sunday night at the Allstate Arena. In fact, she set a career high in steals with 6 as she helped lead the Sky to a 93-65 victory over the Seattle Storm.

L.A. takes down Tulsa to lock that fourth spot in the West. Writes Michelle: 

It didn’t take a math whiz to figure out that Los Angeles — with Candace Parker returning to the lineup after sitting out the first half of the season to rest — was going to need an impressive run down the stretch to return to the postseason for the fourth straight season and the seventh time in the last eight years. But the Sparks pulled it off, and the locker room was suffused with an unmistakable vibe of satisfaction after Sunday’s game.

“I sat everybody down right after the All-Star break and told them I thought we needed to get to 15 wins,” Sparks coach Brian Agler said. “We got to 14, and that was enough, but [we] knew it was going to be tough. I’m extremely proud of this team. I feel like this team can accomplish anything.”

Atlanta plays stubborn and keeps Washington from clinching that final spot.

The Washington Mystics have gone through the agony of defeat twice this season against the Dream. And today was no different. Atlanta, who has no room for error as they fight for the No. 4 seed playoff spot, again defeated the Washington Mystics Sunday afternoon at the Phillips Arena.

Tiffany Hayes did not play the last time Atlanta met with Washington, but tonight she made her presence tonight known as she attacked the Mystics on defense and led her team with 19 points.

McCoughtry, who followed Tiffany’s lead with 18 points, was not included in the starting lineup tonight. She came off the bench for the fifth time this season and the third consecutive game overall.

Worth the trip: Ramu Tokashiki was named MVP of FIBA Asia Women’s Championship and Japan is going to the Olympics.

More on Fever coach White — but, one has to wonder if Indy liked playing in the shadows. It’s been a tough run, last few games.

It’s not just coaches: Former CP sports editor, Phils scorer, Kenney dies, 80

With his white dress shirt, black tie and glasses, Bob Kenney looked like the quintessential newspaperman.

For South Jersey athletes, writers (including this one) and fans, he was so much more.

“He was a legend,” said Phil Anastasia, who was hired by Mr. Kenney at the Courier-Post in 1980. “His revolutionary thinking about high school sports was way ahead of his time. You look at the way high school sports are covered these days and it’s because of him, especially with girls’ sports.

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Today’s four games are all about staying healthy, building momentum WHILE staying healthy, and settling some traveling logistics….

Atlanta hosts the Mystics, 3pm
L.A. hosts Tulsa, 5pm
Chicago hosts Seattle, 6pm
Minnesota hosts New York, 7pm

Even though there aren’t “x’s” next to the teams’ names, it’s *almost* safe to say that the playoff standings are set (and Chicago will return to the UIC for their games) (and the Mystics really need to win and seal their place in the post-season).

For me, the most intriguing matchup of the day is the Lynx-Lib: Will Maya (and her nose) be on the court? How will the Lib react to losing Boyd, who’s been an invaluable, hard-nosed energizer off the bench? How will the Lynx react to the Montgomery for Whalen reality? Who wants home court... through the playoffs… more?

So… who’s your MVP, and might these last few games solidify your choice?

NCAA:

Nice to have some good news: Gophers’ Women’s Basketball: Rachel Banham On Track to Return At Start of Season

A little history: UK basketball notebook: In stop at UK, Yow recalls support from P.A. man Ingle, Joe B. Hall

When she learned that former Kentucky public address announcer Jim Ingle passed away last month, Debbie Yow called and left a voice mail message. She wanted one simple fact known: “He was nice to me.”

Those five words begged for a return call and an explanation. Here it is:

Ingle did the P.A. for UK’s women’s basketball team when Yow was the coach in the late 1970s. At that time, few women’s teams across the country had full-time coaches. Typically, the women’s basketball programs were part of campus recreation. Coaches were barely more than volunteers.

From San Antonio: Title IX changes the face of high school athletics, equality

Christina Camacho, now the girls head basketball coach and coordinator at Wagner High School in San Antonio, grew up before Title IX, playing basketball with her brothers in the neighborhood.

“My parents were very supportive of me playing basketball,” she said. “Maybe some parents kept their kids inside playing with dolls.”

Camacho, laughing, said she was more athletic than her three brothers, anyway. The scrimmages instilled a competitive attitude in her and she went on to play basketball for the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Though she was only in the fourth grade, Camacho was aware of the commotion surrounding the arrival of Title IX . “I remember it being a big issue about equality,” she said. But it took people a while to understand what the change would mean.

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’cause I came up with a couple of good ones last night after the Sky dismantled the (home court-seeking) Lib:

Blond Bombers Barrage
Sloot! There it is!
Liberty (EE)D-Q’d
Lib fall to (Behind the) Arc Nemesis

Any hoot-n-any…. a semi-healthy Chicago (Cappie’s still out with a concussion) made mincemeat of the Lib’s vaunted defense. Couple that with no NY outside threat, and it turned into something ugly. Especially when the team pulled some Atlanta Dream diva-esque moments. Not good. I will say that Sloot’s and Allie’s shooting was a sight to behold. Beautiful and unconscious.

BTW – great Sky fan turnout.

BTW – not great news: Brittany Boyd has wrist surgery, out 5-6 weeks. What did I say about the healthy team winning? NY will have to heavily rely on Tanisha Wright, who is right at home playing for Liberty

New York guard Tanisha Wright has always been like that ingredient that doesn’t stand out, yet without which the recipe just isn’t nearly as good.

Go back even to her Penn State days, and it was like that. Then through her 10 WNBA seasons in Seattle, it was often easy — at least from the outsiders’ point of view — to take her for granted.

Now that she’s in New York, it’s once again possible to overlook Wright when you’re singling out the reasons why the Liberty — despite a loss to Chicago on Thursday — lead the Eastern Conference and will make their first playoff appearance since 2012.

In LA, Nneka was back, which is great to see, and the Sparks-Mystics put on a great show. I’m guessing Minnesota is getting a little anxious about facing L.A in the first round. I know some folks aren’t convinced, but it is Agler at the helm… Tulsa finishes out the season with games against the Sparks, Stars, Sky & Merc. L.A. faces the aforementioned Shock, then Dream & Merc… Dum, dee dum, dum.

Loses in the high school ranks:

From the Freson Bee: Central Valley loses girls prep sports pioneer in Mary Brown

From tiny mountain programs Yosemite and Sierra, to Hanford, Stockdale in Kern County and the standard-bearer of them all, Clovis West, the quality of high school girls basketball in the Central Section has progressively soared for decades.

Not to ignore the other 11 female sports in the region, as well.

And where would they be without Mary Brown? Or the likes of her, if there’s ever been another?

Cynthia Winstead – 45 years after playing for Ms. Brown in three sports at Memorial – puts it this way: “She believed in us long before we believed in ourselves.”

Ms. Brown, known best as the architect of the Panthers’ girls basketball empire in the 1970s and ’80s, and arguably the most influential force in the history of all section prep sports for females, died last Friday of natural causes in her newly built house in Roseburg, Ore.

From the Tulsa World: Legendary Leflore girls basketball coach Nadine Carpenter dies

She taught one year at Addington, then, in 1954, she began a 44-year career at LeFlore. A year later, she was named the head girls basketball coach at LeFlore, where her teams averaged 19 wins per season for 43 years.

Her 1968 squad was the first basketball team from LeFlore to reach the state tournament, and that team made it all the way to the championship game, losing to Covington-Douglas in overtime. Her basketball teams would reach the state tournament four more times, with her final one coming in 1995. That team lost in the quarterfinals in double-overtime to Cherokee.

Carpenter retired with 831 games, the second-most wins in state history behind Byng’s Bertha Frank Teague (1,126 wins and 116 losses in 43 seasons). She also had more than 200 softball wins as a coach.

Laura Edwards lives in Atlanta now, and as a 35-year-old pilot instructor for Delta Airlines, she’s traveled many miles from her North Carolina roots. But Edwards’ thoughts the past few days have been on her teen years at East Rowan High School.

Her high school basketball coach, Gina Talbert, passed away on Thursday at the age of 60. It was a profound shock for Edwards and former Mustangs now scattered across the country. They’ve been communicating, on Facebook mostly, trying to help each other come to grips with the loss. Talbert had been ill, but her death was sudden.

“I keep thinking back to my last season at East (1997) and the night we won the South Piedmont Conference tournament,” Edwards said. “We were all so happy we won, but really we just wanted to win that tournament for Coach Talbert. We’d never won anything for her.”

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Snagged a surprise seat to the Lib-Dream game and some observations:

  1. Top to bottom, this is the most talented Liberty team we’ve ever had. AND they’re scrappy and hard-nosed. This post-season will go to whichever team is the healthiest.
  2. Wherever Sugar’s game went these past few years, it’s back. I sure hope it sticks around.
  3. As I watched Tina and Sugar and Matee and Essence and Kiah and Piph and Swin and Shoni and Tiffany on the court I thought, “Yah, that Old Big East Conference was pretty damn good.”
  4. I was really excited when the Lib drafted Stokes. I’m even more excited now.
  5. Wow, there’s a lot of talent on that Dream team… what on earth has the front office and coaching done to it…
  6. The physical, chippy play between the two teams reminded me of the old Cleveland Rockers days. On the court, there was absolutely NO love lost between the Lib and Cleveland.

    It was not a pretty game. It was a game with a lot of contact. It was a game with a lot of fouls called and a lot of fouls that could easily have been called. I don’t envy Denise Brooks and Tony Dawkins working with a rookie referee. (I also don’t envy them working with a rookie referee who looked like he had a chip on his shoulder the whole night because he’s shorter than most of the players- dude is about Piph’s height.) 

  7. Note to MSG management: you’re doing better getting folks into the Garden, but some of your security staff could use some “How to treat a fan like they’re a welcomed customer, not a body to pull a power trip on.

In other news:

Indiana:11 straight years in the playoffs. ’nuff said. A lot could be said for Stephanie being COY (nice job, there, coach Dunn!). I think Bill should be in the mix, and ditto with Fred Williams.

Friendly Bounce’s WNBA Podcast: Episode 3: Tulsa joins the playoff party. And yes, Tulsa’s playoff berth is bittersweet for Shock fans

With a minute left in Sunday’s game, Tulsa Shock forward Plenette Pierson motioned to the fans at the BOK Center. They got to their feet and cheered on their Shock to a 76-70 victory over the Indiana Fever and the franchise’s first playoff berth since moving to Oklahoma in 2010.

And I felt like giving the crowd a standing ovation.

Zach Plosia of Newsweek asks: Why Doesn’t the WNBA Have an Official Fantasy League?

Philip Hersh at the Chicago Tribune asks: 2015 a big year for women in sports, but will it carry over?

The question, as always, is whether the passion so many have shown for women’s sports is more than a summer romance, an abiding love more than a one-season stand, a caring for and celebrating the ordinary along with the extraordinary: the United States winning a quadrennial women’s soccer world championship; Serena Williams starting the U.S. Open on Monday as the first player with a chance at sweeping tennis’ four Grand Slam tournaments since Germany’s Steffi Graf did it in 1988; fighter Ronda Rousey, in a sport with an appeal once beholden to the prurience of watching women fight each other, now acclaimed by Sports Illustrated as the world’s most dominant athlete, no gender qualifier applied.

“I’d like to think this has been an important year in women’s sports,” said longtime TV commentator Mary Carillo, “and the Serena story going into the U.S. Open is going to be tremendous. Serena has to be considered one of the most dominant and important women athletes of all time.”

It didn’t look good for Lindsay when she went to the locker room, but she’s hoping for a quick recovery

Interesting: Sky’s Delle Donne signs with new marketing agency

Chicago Sky forward and WNBA All-Star Elena Delle Donne has a new agent for the second time in less than two years.

The 25-year-old face of women’s pro basketball signed last month with McLean, Va.-based sports marketing agency Octagon and agent Erin Kane after cutting ties with Wasserman Media Group of Los Angeles earlier this year.

Wasserman agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas, who has represented WNBA stars Brittney Griner, Maya Moore and Diana Taurasi among others, worked with Delle Donne from November 2013 until the beginning of 2015, when the forward returned to an exclusive agent relationship with her brother Gene.

from the Players’ Tribune: From Somewhere: Diana Taurasi (video and article) and We Are: New York Liberty

The Players’ Tribune presents “We Are: New York Liberty,” an immersive look inside the WNBA powerhouse team in the East. Through documentary video series, first-person narratives, photo diaries and travelogues, we give a voice to each player as the Liberty fight for the No. 1 overall playoff seed, and ultimately, a WNBA championship. ​​

NCAA news:

UH’s Chizer begins tenure on NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee

Q: What do you think it will be like in the room on Selection Monday with the excitement and big decisions you have to make?

A: You said the key words: Exciting and big decisions. I think it’s going to be a long couple of days, because at the end of the day we want to get it right. We’re going to spend a lot of time researching, looking at all the team’s portfolios, games they’ve won, RPIs, games they’ve lost, the top 10 teams they played against. What did they do at the beginning of the season, the middle of the season, the end of the season? You have to look at everything. There are going to be some big decisions and we’re going to do our due diligence to get it right.

Q: You have a college basketball background as a former play at UH and assistant coach. How much will that help you?

A: I do have a little basketball knowledge and was on the coaching staff here. I did a little something here while at the University of Houston. My name is in the record books a little bit (smiles). I tell the student-athletes on the women’s basketball team that if we play half-court, I think I can still get you. I can still shoot it. You start taking me full-court and that’s a different story.

Illinois: Chapter not over

 On more than one occasion Friday Illinois Athletics Director Mike Thomas talked about “turning the page.”

Fire head football coach Tim Beckman, turn the page.

Promote offensive coordinator Bill Cubit to interim head coach, turn the page.

As the “Summer From Hell” continues to play out one bonfire at a time in Champaign, there’s a good chance there are a few more pages to turn. And one of them may have Mike Thomas’ name on it.

Marist: Jarosz back at school, but eligibility unresolved

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Which was the theme from last night’s Sun-Mercury game. What on earth is going on with Phoenix? How on earth could the game against a thoroughly depleted Connecticut have been so close? And, really, what amazing heart have the Connecticut players shown this year? No quit. Has anyone done more with less than Donovan? On the bright side: Who are the WNBA front-runners in Breanna Stewart sweepstakes?

Speakin’ of the Merc: Obama Trash-Talks Phoenix Over Beating Chicago Sky in WNBA Finals

Speakin’ of doing more with less: Playoff berth within reach for Vicki Baugh, Shock as Los Angeles Sparks visit

So, tonight the Garden hosts the two top seeds: Minnesota and *gulp* New York. Seems to me the storylines are: Are the Lib legit and are the Lynx Losin’ it?

Considering the Lynx (19-9) will enter Friday’s game at New York with the best record in the league, one could say that their issues are the equivalent of “first-world problems.” But there are reasonable concerns. When a team knows how good it can play and then falls short of that a few times, there is bound to be a little worry.

From the New York Post: Lots at stake when Liberty give MSG possible WNBA Finals preview

Who says Madison Square Garden goes dark in the summer?

On Friday night (7:30; MSG), the Garden will host a possible WNBA Finals preview, when the Eastern Conference-leading Liberty meet the Minnesota Lynx — the top team in the West — in a pivotal game considering how narrow New York’s lead is in the East.

From Doug: New York and Minnesota set for matchup of WNBA Conference leaders

Bill Laimbeer and Cheryl Reeve are downplaying the significance of Friday night’s game between the WNBA’s conference leaders.

As Minnesota’s coach put it, “it’s a chance to add another ‘W’ in the win column. There’s no championship being won. It’s just a chance to get better.”

Laimbeer also said that there’s no added meaning to the game besides a chance to further distance New York from the rest of the East.

“Every game is important this time of year,” the Liberty coach said.

It almost sounds as if the two longtime friends coordinated their answers.

From Hardwood Paroxysm: How the New York Liberty Became the WNBA’s Best Defense

Swish Appeal: What is the secret to the Liberty’s staggering success?

BTW: Be sure to follow  and tonight during vs. , when will be live from MSG.

.com: How Elena Delle Donne’s Spectacular 2015 Season Stacks Up in WNBA History

From USAToday: Meet the secret to Elena Delle Donne’s success

When Cappie Pondexter arrived at the Chicago Sky through an offseason trade, she didn’t only bring a veteran scorer who is deadly when given half a step to drive into the lane. She brought a new element to third-year star Elena Delle Donne’s game: A voice that’s in the WNBA MVP candidate’s ear – all of the time.

The voice is telling her to be there on help-side defense. To get a rebound and go and attack. The voice even provides in-game tips, like telling Delle Donne to use her pull-up jumper when she’s not getting calls at the rim.

From the San Antonio Current: Stars Guard Jia Perkins On Being A Baller – And Pro Mom 

It was clear early on that Jia Perkins would make her life all about basketball.

And after turning into a well-respected player at one the country’s women’s basketball powerhouse college teams, her chances to go pro looked real good.

Then, in her senior year, she got pregnant.

In her mind, the news surely meant that those chances of making it in the Women’s National Basketball League had dramatically dwindled. At best, she thought, she’d have to search out teams later for tryouts.

But it never came to that.

Swish Appeal: A Life Inspired: Jessica Breland’s heart-stirring ascension

ESPN: DeLisha Milton-Jones hits milestone, ready for more and the AJC:Milton-Jones ties mark as Dream win

DeLisha Milton-Jones has seen a lot in her 17 seasons in the WNBA. If the Dream keep playing the way they did in Tuesday’s 71-57 victory over Connecticut, she thinks they can make a push for the playoffs.

“We have the talent, we can score with anybody in this league,” said Jones, who tied Tina Thompson’s record Tuesday with her 496th appearance in a WNBA game. “When we execute our offense and hunker down defensively and execute our game plan, we have a very good chance of putting ourselves in position to have a playoff push.”

Ad on: The Iron Woman

With the exception of time off due to injuries—knee in 2004 and Achilles tendon in 2014—Milton-Jones has been a WNBA mainstay for 16 years.

“It takes a completely dedicated commitment to keeping yourself healthy and staying in optimal shape and having a huge passion to improve upon yourself every off season,” she says. “I don’t know if many people are committed to making that type of sacrifice.

.com: White’s Steady Leadership Guides Fever into WNBA Spotlight

White, who spent five seasons as a Fever player and eight years as a WNBA assistant, is expected to be a solid candidate for league Coach of the Year honors.

“If she’s not, I think people are undervaluing what she’s done here,” said Kelly Krauskopf, the Fever’s president and general manager. “I think what she has done is a phenomenal job for a first-year pro coach with a lot of high expectations.”

Speaking’ with Steph: Dishin & Swishin Podcast: White has Indiana in great position for a deep playoff run

Rob Knox: Chicago Rookie Betnijah Laney Out of Rutgers Enjoys Being a Student of the Game

Today’s Fast Break has their WNBA Hidden Gems: Impact 2nd-Round Picks in 2015

The second round of the WNBA Draft is what separates the die-hards from the casuals. With most of the superstar talent almost certainly off the board by the 13th pick, this is where WNBA GMs show what they’re made of. It’s also where avid fans of both the college and professional game eagerly comb through possible “sleeper picks,” hoping that their team will pick up an overlooked player who will blossom into a star.

There’s good reason for this. Going back as far as 2010, at least three players selected in the second round of each draft are still on a WNBA roster. Of those players, six have become All-Stars, and we’ll likely be seeing a pair of All-WNBA selections in Emma Meesseman and Alex Bentley (2013 draft) sooner rather than later.

While the 2015 WNBA Draft was predicted by analysts to be weaker than some of its predecessors, a case can be made that its talent was simply more spread out. Even though none of this year’s second-round picks have put up eye-popping per-game statistics, several of them have still made valuable contributions in their rookie seasons, and will now look to stick around and establish themselves as household names among the more casual WNBA fans. Let’s take a look at a group of 2015’s second-rounders who’ve made an impact this season.

NCAA:

Happy thoughts in Austin: With former Olympian as new assistant coach, Texas women’s basketball poses serious threat

South Carolina: Sarah Imovbioh wants to be a part of something special at USC

Kevin Slaughter and Will Griffin crossed paths due to basketball and their love for impacting kids in their respective communities. Slaughter, a proud South Philadelphian and former high school basketball standout, has been connected to the sport for years.

Griffin, a West Philadelphia native, is well known throughout the community for his work, specifically at Lea Cultural Recreation Center adjacent to Drexel University’s athletic fields.

Unfortunately, basketball is not the only thing that bonds to the two. Through their own personal encounters with tragedy, Slaughter and Griffin have been inspired to ensure the lives of their relatives are honored, using basketball as the means to celebrate and create awareness.

New Jersey: Life of Nazerah Bugg Remembered through Basketball Tournament

The first annual Nazerah’s Hoop Dreams All Girls Basketball Tournament held over the past weekend at Tyrone Collins Memorial Basketball Courts, concluded with hundreds of spectators.

Nazerah Bugg, 14, was a dedicated basketball player at Kennedy High School that was tragically shot and killed on Sept. 20, 2014 while leaving a local eatery place.

Jamal Ramsey from Nazerah’s Hoop Dreams Foundation stated, “We keep her name alive and do it for the community. This tragic event we turn it into a positive.”

Xavier, Mount St. Joseph to hold Lauren Hill Tipoff Classic

The legacy of Lauren Hill and the fight to raise funds for pediatric cancer will continue with an annual women’s basketball classic at Xavier.

Division I Xavier and Division III Mount St. Joseph will open their respective seasons Nov. 14 at Cintas Center in the first Lauren Hill Tipoff Classic.

Xavier hosts Evansville at 1 p.m. that Saturday, and Mount St. Joseph plays Hiram College 30 minutes after the first game’s conclusion. The doubleheader will be televised on FOX Sports Ohio.

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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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… sorta.

WNBA, Liberty agree to suspend Thomas’ ownership application

”After further discussion and with the season underway, the WNBA and the New York Liberty have agreed to suspend consideration of Isiah Thomas’ application for an ownership interest in the Liberty until further notice,” the statement from the WNBA said Monday. ”The process will resume at a future time as determined by the Liberty.”

Thomas is still the president of the team, and he said in an interview with The Associated Press at the start of the season that the two positions weren’t directly connected.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WBHOF: 

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

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

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

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

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

Long-term NCAA planning: 

The pre-season WNIT field is set.

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

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

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

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

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

Who, us?

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

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

From the W:

WNBA team season preview capsules

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

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

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

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

From Mechelle: Sky need big year from Delle Donne

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

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

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

Indiana: Tamika Catchings managing fourth quarter of her career

5 Reasons to Watch in 2015: Minnesota Lynx

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

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

Maya Moore still chasing perfection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About those moving vans:

Former WSU women’s basketball players transfer to UNO

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

EWU women’s basketball losing seven players

SDSU Womens Basketball Signs St. John’s Transfer

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

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a fool’s errand… BUT, I do want to take a moment to point out this:

Jacki Gemelos’ Chicago Sky WNBA box score: 16 minutes, 4-7, +24. Honestly, who would have ever thunk that?

Nike announces signings of the top four WNBA draft picks (photos)

More love and respect for Katie Douglas: Retiring Douglas set example for area girls basketball players

Katie Douglas was a 6-foot-1 girls high school basketball player running the point long before such God-given backcourt leverage was fashionable.

The 1997 Perry Meridian graduate helped usher out single-class hoops while at the same time forcing observers of the girls game to think differently.

“With Katie there was no good way to defend her,” said longtime Franklin Community High School girls basketball coach Walt Raines, whose Grizzly Cubs have long staged battles against the Falcons.

Storm star Sue Bird presented with Moyer Foundation award

A little follow up from NPR: What Anti-Domestic Violence Advocates Are Saying About The WNBA Suspensions

More not-so-happy-news for the Lib: Prince to miss beginning of WNBA season to play for Russia

Speaking of the Lib – where’s Taj? Post hires former WNBA All-Star as head coach

From Swish Appeal: Key questions each WNBA Western Conference team faces heading into the 2015 season and Key questions for each WNBA Eastern Conference team faces in the 2015 season

From the Daily Courier: Kobritz Column: What the WNBA needs to learn from the NFL: “While the NFL is trying to ban one of its marque players over a tempest in a teapot, the WNBA is about to embrace a sleaze ball. Go figure.”

From the Huffington Post: Should Those Who Spoke Out Against Donald Sterling do the Same With Isiah Thomas?

In NCAA news:

Oklahoma women’s basketball: Sherri Coale talks potential rule changes, playing four quarters

Seven families protest handling of Illinois women’s basketball probe: report

The letter the newspaper obtained said the families “most strongly object to the manner in which the ‘internal investigation’ of mistreatment and abuses by the coaching staff was handled and is currently being handled by your office. We find this protocol unacceptable as well as completely disrespectful to the student athletes and their families affected by the coaches and coaching staff involved in these patterns of abuse.”

The seven families are writing in behalf of former players Taylor Tuck, Sarah Livingston, Amarah Coleman, Taylor Gleason, Alexis Smith, Nia Oden and Jacqui Grant.

David Teel at the Daily Press: Removing graduate transfer rule would be height of hypocrisy for NCAA

“If you’re transferring to be in a graduate program, the NCAA wants you to be working in earnest toward that degree rather than just using up your last year of eligibility,” Kevin Lennon, the association’s vice president of Division I governance, told the Associated Press.

Really? The NCAA wants Utopia? Well, then let’s have Mark Emmert solve the budget deficit, immigration reform and Middle East conflicts.

Were the 14 freshmen who declared for next month’s NBA draft “working in earnest” toward an undergraduate degree? The 15 sophomores?

The NCAA has no business attempting to police or discern an athlete’s motives. No one should care if a graduate transfer cares about getting a master’s.

Something for the twit who hate-tweeted me about this Liberty/Thomas fiasco from the New York Times: Any Publicity Is Good? Isiah Thomas and WNBA to Find Out

The Liberty will kick off a new W.N.B.A. season with their annual media day Thursday. This year’s event will probably be the best-attended one in franchise history. The reason? Isiah Thomas, the team’s new president, will be on hand alongside the players to face reporters.

From the Daily News’ Linda Stasi: It’s not just Isiah Thomas! There’s plenty of jobs available for all the other pervy, misogynistic male celebs out there

It’s about damned time that we all stopped harassing sexual harasser Isiah Thomas for becoming president and part owner of the New York Liberty women’s basketball team, pending board approval.

So listen up, disgruntled female hoopsters! Let us not think of the sexist pig’s rise to the heights of your sport as the height of absurdity/insanity/disrespect. Let us instead think of it as the height of female liberation!

After all, we women have finally reached true equality. If the man who cost Madison Square Garden $11.5 million in a sexual harassment suit can still get the top gig in women’s sports, just think of the possibilities. No, not for you. For them.

Add this: Adam Silver Needs to Step in on the Isiah Thomas Hiring

And (fingers crossed) WNBA BOG Reportedly Could Reject Effort To Make Isiah Part-Owner Of Liberty

At the other end of the spectrum: Flat Rock basketball team honored for record breaking success

Success came in leaps and bounds for the Flat Rock Rams this year.

Both the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams won District championships, with the girls adding in a Regional championship.

The regional crown was the first in school history.

For their efforts the girls were honored at a recent City Council meeting.

“They had a great season this year,” Recreation Director Rodney Wade said. “They were Huron League champions, District champions and Regional champions.”

The girls that are seniors on this team are the first group to have went through the Flat Rock Recreation League program from first grade through High School.

Shawnee basketball’s Freeman to be inducted into OGBCA Hall of Fame

For a man who didn’t even play basketball in high school, let alone college, Steve Freeman has had a one-of-a-kind career coaching the sport.

The long-time coach, who has been an assistant with the girls basketball team at Shawnee High School, will be honored for a storied career when he is inducted into the Oklahoma Girls Basketball Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame on May 30.

“It’s a really nice honor, very exciting,” Freeman said. “It’s also very humbling, because so much about winning is being in the right place at the right time with the right kids. I’ve been fortunate that I have, a lot of the time, been in the right place at the right time. There are a bunch of very good coaches who have never were lucky enough to be in that right situation. I feel really privileged, really blessed.”

From Billy Watkins at the Clarion Ledger: Who was first? ‘Reportedly’ Sue Dabbs

“Football, basketball, baseball, softball, soccer, track and field, tennis. Oh … and I love volleyball,” she said. “I try not to miss anything. This is a dream come true for me. My mama told me I became an Ole Miss fan at the age of 6. I don’t remember it. But I can’t remember not being one, so it had to be early.”

Dabbs said she enjoyed the column about Beth, who lives in North Carolina and is an ordained Episcopal priest and a cancer survivor.

“Beth deserved having a story written about her,” Dabbs said. “She’s done a lot with her life and did a lot for females in the sports writing business.”

And that is true. She did.

From Virginia: What Cosby girls basketball team does for classmate with autism will warm your heart

From L.A.: Japanese American basketball leagues help girls progress at prep level

Standing just 5 feet 3, Lauren Saiki was sometimes the smallest player on the basketball court. But her signature thread-the-needle passes and heady ball-handling propelled the point guard and her teams from Alhambra Mark Keppel High to four consecutive playoff appearances, capped by last season’s run to the Division II state championship game, a first for the school.

Saiki, 18, has earned a basketball scholarship to West Virginia.

For all this, she can credit the fundamentals she learned while playing for more than a decade in a Japanese American basketball league.

“That helped build my foundation,” Saiki said. “. . . I really fell in love with basketball.”

What’s cool is this continues the long history of women’s Japanese-American basketball on the West Coast.

Before, during, and after World War II, Nisei youth clubs offered hundreds of city girls like Ide a place of camaraderie and belonging where they could play basketball and baseball, socialize with boys, develop leadership skills, participate in community service, and forge lifelong friendships. In an era when Japanese-Americans faced racial barriers to social acceptance, these clubs enabled urban teenagers to claim American identity and enjoy the pleasures of popular culture.

Which connects to this from Jayda: Ramu Tokashiki looking to catch on with Storm

A half-dozen journalists attended the second day of Storm training camp Monday. All were interested in one player: Ramu Tokashiki.

A 6-foot-3 forward, Tokashiki stands out in the basketball world in Japan. Nicknamed “Taku” (pronounced TOCK), Japanese slang for strong, she signed with the Storm to be challenged by WNBA players.

“I understand she has no competition, per se, within the Japanese basketball system,” said journalist Misa Seely of American Sports Access. “There’s nobody as tall as she is and nobody as quick as she is. Her size and strength and ability to score is what makes her a superstar.”
Tokashiki is expected to make Seattle’s regular-season roster. It would make her the third Japanese player to compete in the WNBA.

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The Liberty players have an “open” dialogue with Thomas and Dolan and all’s good.

Cash said Thomas and Dolan’s comments to the team included “letting us know how things were going to be. Why they made the decisions that they made. And that’s all you can ask for as an employee, as a professional athlete, is to understand why decisions were made, how you got to this point and understanding what the goal is moving forward.”

Hmm… I see a monologue basically saying: We made a (very poor) decision, you have no voice (so be quiet), fall in (and don’t say boo) and you’ll still have a job (unless, as history has shown, Thomas has anything to do with the team)…

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from the Women’s Sports Foundation: 

The WNBA is the gold standard for women’s professional sports leagues. Nineteen years strong and still growing, the WNBA showcases incredible athletes who stand as role models for millions of girls and boys worldwide. Every day, young girls across the country hone their skills in hopes of one day scoring the winning basket on a college court or in the WNBA Championships. Your message to those girls if you approve Mr. Thomas as Liberty President is that sexual harassment – inexcusable behavior in any workplace – is not only tolerated but is instead rewarded with executive offices and big contracts. When Donald Sterling was found making disparaging racial comments, he was banned from professional basketball for the rest of his life. Clearly the same rules do not apply to sexual misconduct and to the women of the WNBA. Like all of your many fans and supporters, we don’t want to see your league and its good name tarnished.

From the Seattle Storm: 

“As the proud owners of the Seattle Storm, we believe there is no statute of limitations on the mandate that all WNBA owners and executives serve as exemplary role models and leaders,” the statement from Force 10 Hoops read. “The sports world is finally beginning to address issues such as sexual harassment, domestic violence and sexual assault, all of which have been inadequately addressed for far too long. The WNBA belongs in a leadership role in addressing these sensitive issues.

“Force 10 Hoops and the Seattle Storm welcome the opportunity to affirm the values and vision championed by the WNBA. We intend to fully participate in the league’s standard vetting process for all ownership changes. We will do our best to protect and defend the core operating principles, stated or assumed, that form the foundation of the longest-tenured and most successful women’s professional league – the WNBA.”

Honestly, in my *from a distance* experience of the Dolan modus operandi, if the WNBA and/or NBA have the temerity to resist his appointment of Thomas, I have no doubt that he wouldn’t hesitate to close down the Liberty in 2016. The question is: are there replacement owners out there and if there are, where would we play. Brooklyn, anyone?

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You know, how, after they do something stupid, insulting or insensitive (hello, Cleveland Cavaliers), they say stuff like, “I’m sorry you were insulted.” Basically, avoiding responsibility for what they did.

Sorta like what Dolan and Thomas are trying to do.

Anucha is havin’ no of it. Anucha Browne Sanders irked by Isiah Thomas’ ‘attempt to rewrite history’

“In an attempt to rewrite history, the Garden has issued a statement about Anucha Browne Sanders’ lawsuit against MSG, [MSG chairman James] Dolan and Thomas that is, at best, misleading and, at worst, a fabrication,” read the statement, which was released by Browne Sanders’ attorney, Anne Vladeck, and first reported by the New York Daily News.

In 2007, when Thomas was coaching the Knicks, Browne Sanders alleged that he sexually harassed her. Although Thomas maintained his innocence, a jury found that MSG, owner of the team, improperly fired her for complaining about the unwanted advances. The jury also ruled that Browne Sanders was entitled to $11.6 million in damages from MSG and Dolan.

A portion of the money ($6 million) was awarded for the hostile work environment created by Thomas. The rest of the money was awarded because Browne Sanders was found to have been fired for complaining about the environment.

Brown gets some support from Deadspin (!) with their piece:Listen To Sexual Harasser Isiah Thomas Lie About His Sexual Harassment

“When the jury had an opportunity to fine,” Thomas began. “They fined Madison Square Garden. I was not liable or personally held for anything. The jury found no findings.”

“Anyone who’s vetted this,” he went on, “has looked at it, has come out and found that—as the jury found—that there were no findings in terms of Isiah Thomas.”

Here is a thing that actually, inarguably happened. On October 6, 2007, a jury found that Isiah Thomas sexually harassed a New York Knicks executive, who was fired when she told Madison Square Garden, the organization that owns the Knicks, that Isiah Thomas sexually harassed her.

The “home town” Detroit Free Press chimes in:

That was awkward.

Isiah Thomas made the TV/radio rounds this morning and couldn’t understand why people didn’t want to talk about women’s basketball instead of asking about the irony of a guy once accused of sexual harassment being named president of a WNBA team, the New York Liberty.

Or why his buddy, Madison Square Garden CEO James Dolan, would rehire the guy many think wrecked his New York Knicks. Not to mention that Dolan and his company were hit with the tab for that harassment lawsuit, too.

When he first saw the news, Dan Patrick started his phone interview with Thomas, the Detroit Pistons legend, Patrick said he was shocked and thought it was a joke.

While the WNBA top brass ponder going up against megalomaniac Dolan (and, I’m thinking, ponder a world without the NY Liberty if they do), Christine Brennan adds to the all-but-universal chorus of “wtf” reaction: There’s no place for Isiah Thomas in WNBA

Mr. Dolan, with no evidence to back his claim (IsiahThomas doesn’t even understand how bad a Knicks GM he was), would beg to differ: Jim Dolan: Isiah Thomas can build a winner. Meanwhile, Slate says, Suspend James Dolan – The Knicks owner just hired sexual harasser Isiah Thomas as president of a WNBA team. Will the NBA do the right thing?

As it happens, the NBA has this week been given the chance to demonstrate that its decisions regarding league figures’ conduct are motivated by principles of decency rather than headlines and PR opportunism. 

That chance has been provided by the blundering insensitivity and arrogance of New York Knicks owner James Dolan and his longtime ally, former Detroit Pistons star Isiah Thomas. In 2007, a jury found that Thomas, at the time employed as the Knicks’ coach and team president, had sexually harassed a Knicks executive (and accomplished former basketball player) named Anucha Browne Sanders. Browne Sanders had been terminated after complaining internally about Thomas, and the jury awarded her $11.6 million in punitive damages for the harassment and her firing. Dolan and the Madison Square Garden Company, which owns the Knicks and is controlled by Dolan, were found culpable in Browne Sanders’ mistreatment for firing her. MSG did not appeal the jury’s decision and subsequently settled its legal dispute with Browne Sanders for $11.5 million ahead of a scheduled hearing regarding compensatory damages. Thomas was relieved of his duties in 2008.

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

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

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

Just look at the all-but-universal reaction:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are my thoughts on this:

1. Why

2. Go away

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

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

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

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

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and listen to the voices Harvey (Thank you, as always!) has gathered:

The former Knicks executive, who now uses the name Anucha Browne, is a vice president with the N.C.A.A. in Indianapolis, in charge of women’s basketball championships. Reached by text message, she said of Thomas’s return to the Garden: “I heard about this. No response is the best response for me.”

Mary Jo Kane, a veteran sports advocate in her role as director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sports at the University of Minnesota, said that Dolan had sent a troubling message to fans of the Liberty with this appointment.

“There is a certain insensitivity and tone deafness to Liberty fans and women in general when you hire someone who has lost a nearly $12 million sexual harassment lawsuit,” Kane said.

For my part, about to look in to canceling my season ticket renewal.

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Listen to Michelle:

Triple H has continued to display his relationship with Floyd Mayweather through social media, the most recent being a hearty congratulations to the boxer following his victory Saturday night. It’s not my place to say what one should and should not do on Twitter, especially during personal time. However the era in which we’re living is rapidly changing. And the lines between one’s corporate and private personas have blurred. Triple H has over two million followers. He’s one of the faces of a company that depends on a healthy public image. I realize he doesn’t speak for everyone, but does he realize that when he shows support to a convicted batterer, friend or not, it can effectively damage so much goodwill that the company is admittedly doing? It’s hard to sell a message of anti-bullying while slapping the ultimate bully on the back. I was a fan. A big fan. But it’s time to use my voice.

Listen to Mechelle: WNBA must take stand on domestic violence

Brittney Griner isn’t at USA Basketball team training camp here, but because of recent events, she looms large even in her absence. It seems unfortunate that at a gathering of so many extremely accomplished athletes who embrace being role models, such an uncomfortable topic as domestic violence has to be discussed.

But then again, maybe it’s situations like these where it’s actually best to get this topic in the open even more, to face the discomfort it provokes head-on. Because both USA Basketball and the WNBA need to make clear statements about domestic violence.

Listen to Brooke: 

Women. Not. Being. Acknowledged.

Enthusiasm and experience were the reasons conveyed to me by Sky CEO Adam Fox when I asked why Lisa Byington and I were being replaced after calling the Sky’s games for the last two seasons.  She and I have also called hundreds of women’s college games for the biggest networks in the country and have followed the careers of most of today’s WNBA players since they were 18 year-old freshman. We both played the game. Byington’s Northwestern Wildcats made the NCAA Tournament, and I played a few months professionally in Germany before an injury led me to find my life again in broadcasting. I’m speaking for both of us when I say I’m more than confident we come to the broadcast table every game enthused and experienced.

The Sky (and the WNBA) had something unique and special going — they had the only all-female broadcast team in the league. So what message does it send to replace those two females with two males and then offer them a 50% raise? At the same time, the WNBA and NBA are using the league’s biggest stars, including Lebron James and the Sky’s own Elena Delle Donne to encourage men to “Lean In”, to show the world they’re ready for equality. But the #LeanInTogether movement hasn’t made its way yet to the Sky’s front office. 

Step up, WNBA. Don’t be a coward. Dare to embrace your voice. Just say “no” to Isiah.

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epic-facepalm-funny-meme-funny-1496487871“Why?” you might ask.

ISIAH THOMAS NAMED PRESIDENT OF THE NY LIBERTY

Back story from 2007: Jury rules Thomas harassed ex-executive Anucha Browne Sanders,; MSG owes her $11.6M

You might recall that it was Anucha, VP of Division I women’s basketball championships,who handed the trophy to UConn this year. Could make WNBA/NCAA meetings a bit Awwwwkward.

Not to mention: Too Zeke to Fail: A Brief History of Isiah Thomas’s Crashes and Burns

Can I just add…

facepalm

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BG and Glory was, “At least the authorities took it seriously.” ’cause like some readers, I had a flashback to Rosalind Ross.

The ESPNers wrote eloquently about the “other” things that came to mind: An espnW email chain about the Brittney Griner arrest

When news broke on Thursday that Brittney Griner and her fiancée, Glory Johnson, had been arrested for a domestic incident, it sparked the following thoughtful exchange among several espnW writers about the various complicated tentacles to the story.

How do you cover such a complex issue — breaking news about domestic violence between two women who are both active athletes, are stars of their respective teams and are engaged to each other?

The headlines also prompted other folks to speak. From Arizona: Alesha Durfee, Associate Professor and Graduate Director of Women and Gender Studies at ASU’s School of Social Transformation, Talks About Domestic Violence Among Women

In other W news:

Sweet turnout for basketball star Stefanie Dolson’s visit home

“It was over the top to get to meet Stefanie,” said Catie O’Connor, a fourth-grader at Goshen Intermediate School. “She was so nice. It was really special, it was awesome. It means the world to me. I really look up to her. I’m very excited.”

Dolson, a Minisink Valley graduate who won two national championships at the University of Connecticut and now plays for the Washington Mystics in the WNBA, spent more than two hours meeting with fans at Family Farm. At one point, a long line formed outside the building. According to Family Farm co-owner Jean Halahan, about 500 people showed up to meet the personable Dolson.

Post Draft News:
Liberty makes superb additions on WNBA Draft Day

It was supposed to be an unremarkable draft for the New York Liberty, which traded its first-round pick to the Connecticut Sun in last year’s deal for center Tina Charles, but coach Bill Laimbeer had some surprises. The Liberty traded guard-forward Alex Montgomery to the San Antonio Stars for the ninth pick, with which they chose Brittany Boyd, a tenacious point guard from the University of California who modeled her game after Cappie Pondexter.

Boyd, who played in the 2013 Maggie Dixon Classic in Madison Square Garden, said she loved the energy of the arena. If called upon, she’s ready to be the Liberty’s floor general.


Pitt’s Brianna Kiesel ready for her journey in WNBA

Welch Prepares for Transition to WNBA After a stellar career as a team leader for the Gamecocks

Blake Dietrick, Wellesley native, takes shot at WNBA

Butler High grad Cierra Burdick’s WNBA dream comes true

A little podcast: Dishin & Swishin 4/23/15 Podcast: Stephanie White takes the helm in Indiana, previews the season

WATN? Ticha Penicheiro: Former NBA and WNBA greats put on clinic for Cuban basketball players

and WNBA legend Ruth Riley looking to leave positive impact on Filipino kids.

Ruth also had something to say about how “bad” Connecticut is for the game: UConn raises women’s basketball in US, says former WNBA star

For former WNBA star Ruth Riley, the dominance of University of Connecticut in women’s college basketball does not present a problem.

It’s the catalyst that should raise the bar for the sport in the United States.

“You respect your opponent and you respect the fact that you know it’s an incredible program,” Riley, who won Olympic Gold in the Athens Games in 2004, said Thursday afternoon at Marriott Hotel.

Another WATN? Former Tech and WNBA player Alicia Thompson to be named Lubbock High’s girls basketball coach

On the college front, some disconcerting news, but not totally surprising if you’ve read some of the surrounding area’s message boards:

From a mother’s perspective: The WSU women’s basketball allegations

Former Wichita State players and parents are speaking out about the allegations that Coach Jody Adams and her coaching staff have mentally and verbally abused players in the program. The mother of a former player that transferred said these allegations are nothing new.

She also said that what brings it to life now is the fact that there are four transfers and two of them are starters.

“We’ve voiced concerns for a while now. There have been groups of players that have gone in together. I know several parents that have written letters and have had meetings.”


Eric Sexton issues statement on Jody Adams allegations

Former WSU players speak out on abuse allegations

Former players talk about allegations against WSU women’s basketball – KSN-TV

More Chiney! My Message To My Younger Self (UNFILTERED | CHINEY OGWUMIKE #3)

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I’m kinda psyched to get to the Garden this year. From Mechelle: 

Boyd, a WBCA All-American this season, seems eager to traverse three time zones and jump right into a different kind of classroom setting. She will get the chance to learn from veteran guards such as Tanisha Wright (a free-agent signee who spent her first 10 seasons in Seattle), Epiphanny Prince (obtained in February from Chicago in a trade for Cappie Pondexter) and Essence Carson.

“I think those players are going to prepare me and challenge me each day to get better,” said Boyd, who averaged 13.4 points, 6.8 assists and 7.7 rebounds this season at Cal. “I just want to learn and figure out how we can be great as a franchise.”

Speakin’ of Bill (and how he kept dragging the old Detroit Shock behind him), a little WATN? with Tweety: Return to WNBA unlikely for Flint’s Deanna Nolan after success in Russia

Hardcore women’s basketball fans may remember Deanna Nolan as a silky smooth guard for her WNBA championship career with the Detroit Shock.

That was a few years ago, but she hasn’t hung up her sneakers just yet.

She’s still got it.

At 35, the five-time WNBA All-Star is wrapping up her eighth season in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Nolan plays for the UMMC Ekaterinburg basketball team, which competes in both the Russian and Euro leagues.

More post draft stuff:

Mike Peden at Full Court offers up his 2015 WNBA Draft Analysis: Minnesota makes the most of draft pick trades with New York

Atlanta: Massengale living a dream

Chicago: Aleighsa Welch ready to continue career in the WNBA

 Following a whirlwind few weeks, Aleighsa Welch was back in a place she feels most comfortable on Monday – South Carolina’s practice facility inside the Carolina Coliseum.

Welch, recently drafted by the Chicago Sky of the WNBA, is back in Columbia preparing for graduation and her life as a professional basketball player.

“I finally got a chance to sit down after the draft to think about and realize you’re just a few steps away from playing in the WNBA,” said Welch. “That part of it has been exciting.”

Welch proud of legacy she’ll leave at USC

Tulsa: Mungedi drafted by Tulsa Shock

From walk-on, to Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, to Women’s National Basketball Association draftee. Former Nevada center Mimi Mungedi was selected by the Tulsa Shock with the 25th pick in the WNBA Draft on Thursday, April 16.

The Shock took the 6-foot-8 Gabon native with the first pick in the third round, making Mungedi just the second Wolf Pack player to be selected in the WNBA Draft (Tahnee Robinson was the first in 2011). Mungedi’s WNBA odyssey has been one for the ages. She didn’t pick up a basketball until she was 12 years old. Mungedi averaged a mere five minutes a game as a walk-on freshman at Nevada, before starting 11 games as a sophomore.

Then came her coming out party. Mungedi won back-to-back MWC Defensive Player of the Year awards her junior and senior season. She left her mark in the Nevada record books, setting single-seasons record in blocks (74) and career blocks (162).

Old college stuff to chew on from Charlie: Way-too-early Top 25 for 2015-16

And the transfers keep on coming:

West Virginia’s Bre McDonald and freshman guard Tyara Warren will not return.

Kansas State announced the departures of Meeks, Jones.

Sad news from the West Coast: DHS girls basketball pioneer Barb Iten dies

Barb Iten, the former longtime area educator who led Davis High to the first-ever Sac-Joaquin Section girls basketball championship, died at her home in Vacaville on Sunday. She was 65.

Iten coached only one season (1974-75) at DHS, but it was a memorable one.

That team (which featured the legendary Denise Curry) went 23-1 — including an unofficial split of two games with UC Davis. The Devils beat Grant, 64-31, for what would be the school’s first section crown in modern CIF history.

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