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basketball “stuff,” but it is cool how basketball can distract you from “stuff.”

So, I did manage to catch my first live Lib game of the season last Sunday. Thoughts:

  • Shout out to Hasim, the Lib’s media person, for being so welcoming. (RU! RU!)
  • It’s REEEEALLY easy to get lost in the bowels of the Rock.
  • Yes, back in the day there WAS a lot of media at Lib games. Not so much now. But it still was heartening to see some familiar (stubborn) faces doing what they want to do – and love to do – in service of the game and players.
  • Speaking of someone who loves to do what she does: lovely chatting with coach Coyle. She knows next year will be a challenge, but is excited to be in the MAAC.
  • The best part of going to the game was seeing the “regulars” in the stands. And shouting “REEEEFFFFFFFF SCHOOOOOOOL!”
  • The game: The ESPN headline credits Cappie with the win over the Dream, but really it was Mini Mi and the Old Lady. Watching the 39-year-old Katie Smith dog Angel all game was a lesson in ferocity and stubbornness. Yes, Angel got her points, but on 4-16 shooting.
  • What about Mini Mi? Well, in the season preview, coach Bill stated he wanted “strong-minded women that want to be themselves, but want to play within the structure, and want to know where they stand every minute of every day.” Leilani Mitchell sure as heck knew where she stood at camp: “In front of everyone he said, ‘I don’t like small guards.'” Mitchell is generously listed as 5’5″. “It’s hard when your coach doesn’t have confidence in you.” Her response? Play with a sense of freedom and abandon. She made the team (to the surprise of some) and, while she only made one basket Sunday (a key 3), it was everything else she did that made an impression: 7 rebounds, 3 steals and +13. Which earned her praise from her not-short coach. And the fans.
  • Cappie looked outta sorts in the first half, her shots all coming up short, as if she had no legs. And then something clicked in the second half. After the game coach Laimbeer spoke about her leading by being part of the offense, “not just jacking up shots.” So I started wondering about her transition to working under a Laimbeer-esque coaching style and how that will impact her attitude and game-sense.
  • The rooks did good. Honestly, was there EVER a time when you could say, “The Lib have three rookies on the floor” and not have it because the game was outta reach? Favorite moment: Angel and Bone arm wrasslin’ each other for the ball. Bone does not let go, and Angel gets in to her face a bit, as if she believes a rookie should release control to an All-Star. Yap, yap, yap like my miniature Dachshund used to do at our bigger Kerry Blue. Bone just stood there, patiently, until her teammates stepped between the twosome.
  • Yes, it’s fun to watch the Dream get all emotional. But, while it’s tempting to draw a conclusion about their “chemistry,” don’t get fooled. It works for them. “That’s how they’ve always been,” said Smith post-game. The only thing “bad” I can see about Atlanta folks barking at each other or the refs is when they use their barking as an excuse not to get back on defense.

Speaking of Smith, the fabulous Jim Massie catches up: Former Buckeye Smith, 39, still climbing upward

Check in with L’Alien for more info on this past week’s games, like:  Charles dominates ice cold Fever

Check this week’s Top Plays. (Mark, you’d a very poor inspirational speaker…)

Other stuff:

Ah, yes, INJURIES!!! John Altavilla writes: Short WNBA Rosters Are A Problem For Sun, Other Teams. On a related note, Pilight wonders: Is there enough talent for WNBA expansion? The Rebkellians discuss.

Kwai Chan at the Meniscus: WNBA 2013: One year, big difference for the Washington Mystics

There is no jumping or shouting in the Verizon Center…yet.  But what a difference a year makes for the Washington Mystics, who defeated the Minnesota Lynx, 85-80.

Mike Thibault, who has the most wins of any active coach with 209-135 (.608) record in the last 10 years, is the new head coach of the Mystics.  Eight of the 12 players on the 2012 roster are gone, and have been replaced by four rookies and three veterans.  With these changes, one would think that just getting a team on the floor would be an accomplishment in itself.

Not so much fun being in Indiana these days: Fever not feeling, looking like champions – Defending WNBA titlists are off to 1-4 start, worst 5-game start since 2001

Michelle says: Griner’s popularity reels in fans

It’s more than two hours before tipoff at U.S. Airways Center on Memorial Day, and a Phoenix Mercury staff member is erecting a banner of Brittney Griner that shows the exact physical dimensions of her height and wingspan and the size of her hands and feet.

Immediately after he is done, a group of kids rush over and put their hands and feet up against the banner to compare.

The big girl is a big deal here.

From Media Planet:  WOMEN IN SPORTS: NO LONGER ON THE SIDELINES: Title IX opened the gates for female athletes—a halo effect empowered women to own, manage and work in the once male-dominated industry.

Case in point: Laura Gentile, espnW vice president, launched the digital initiative as a voice for women who love sports. “One of the best parts of starting this business was connecting women in sports to discuss issues and work together. Women have made a lot of strides,” she adds, ticking off names including WNBA’s president Laurel Richie and USA Today’s Christine Brennan. 

No Sancho? Williams is going to change things up a bit.

Prince leaves Chicago. Again.

No Ice, Ice Baby Tonight: From Odeen Domingo:#WNBA suspends @phoenixmercury Candice Dupree 1 game for making contact w/ game official Sat. Will not play tonight vs @LA_Sparks cc: @WNBA

All Star Voting Time! Who do YOU think deserves a $5000 bonus?

So what did you think of the Complaint Cam… I mean Borg Cam … I mean I Need my Dramamine Cam… I mean Ref Cam? WNBA debuts live high-definition ‘Ref Cam’. A ref speaks. And this: WNBA successfully debuts ref cam in Indy.

Nate keeps his promise: 2013 WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year watch list: Weighing scoring & value added in the post-Bonner era

After a three year run of Sixth Woman dominance (it’s difficult to argue that anyone was snubbed in the three years she won the award), Connecticut Sun guard Renee Montgomery won the award last season in familiar fashion in the world of basketball awards: she had among the highest scoring averages of any reserve in the league on a team that won its conference.

However in a year in which Bonner is starting (for now?) and Montgomery will miss significant time due to injury (WNBA voters tend not to give awards to players who missed significant time, which is fair in 34-game season), there is a chance the award will go to someone who isn’t quite a dynamic scorer.

In college news:

Swish has Gary Blair, Jim Foster reflecting on their careers at induction ceremony and some Hall of Fame interviews: Peggie Gillom-Granderson, Jennifer Rizzotti, Annette Smith-Knight and Sue Wicks:

Who had the greatest influence on Wicks?

“When I was a professional in Europe, players I would see, the way they held themselves, the pride that they had, the way that they played in total obscurity most of the time, I modeled myself after them. Along the way I would find someone who had a quality I really admired and I would try and emulate them.”

Coming back from an ouch: CU Buffs’ Rachel Hargis healing after MCL tear

Bye: Beckie Francis out as Oakland women’s basketball coach and Mines, women’s basketball coach Felderman part ways

Ooops: NCAA bans UNO men’s and women’s basketball from 2013-14 postseason

Yikes: Memphis Tigers women’s basketball team loses four players – Starter Abdul-Qaadir off to Indiana State as grad transfer

Wow! Congrats! Meia Daniels named new HPU women’s basketball coach

“We are pleased to be able to promote Meia Daniels to our head coaching position as well as our Senior Woman Administrator (SWA),” said Howard Payne Director of Athletics Mike Jones. “She has been mentored by two outstanding coaches in Chris Kielsmeier and Josh Prock and was a great collegiate player. She knows how to win and how hard you have to work to be successful at this level. These experiences will serve her well as she enters this new phase of her career.”

As a player, Daniels was 109-12 over four seasons leading the Lady Jackets to three American Southwest Conference championships, four NCAA III national tournament appearances and a NCAA III National Championship in 2008. A 2008 graduate of Howard Payne, Daniels holds numerous HPU and ASC records and is second in career scoring at Howard Payne with 2,118 points.

Some of you may remember Howard Payne’s run to perfection in 2008 because of the WHB or from this piece.

From Storming the Floor:

“After the incredible, unprecedented run through the 2013 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament that Shoni and Jude Schimmel, Umatilla, led the Louisville Cardinals on, ICTMN reached out to some of the most amazing and historically important Native hoops players to get their thoughts on the state of Native basketball, how to succeed in life and where they’re headed next—including from the Sisters themselves. “Let’s give them something to talk about!,” we promised. And so we kicked off a Conversations With Champions series, sitting down with eight basketball trailblazers, champions and builders for some one-on-ones. Here is a recap of the series, in case you missed any of the engaging discussions. These are men and women you need to know.”

Thank you: Iconic Elba coach Nowak retires and  Elba girls basketball coach Tom Nowak retires – Popular basketball coach compiled a 457-133 record

“It was really very rewarding to have gone through generations of family,” said Nowak. “To see the dads play football for me and then their daughters playing basketball — maybe both parents and children winning sectional titles.”

In the 2011-2012 season, Nowak coached his girls to their first state championship in the program’s history. Fittingly, the Lancers earned a perfect 25-0 season in their quest for the Class D title in Nowak’s 25th year as coach.

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More WBHOF stuff:

From Mechelle: Wicks reflects on satisfying career – Former Liberty, Rutgers star part of Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame’s 2013 class

For Wicks, the feeling was at its peak when she played in Madison Square Garden with teammates like Teresa Weatherspoon and Vickie Johnson, and against foes like Cynthia Cooper and Tina Thompson.

She knows they all felt it. In those early years of the WNBA, so much seemed groundbreaking and even breathtaking.

“I think you just experience it, and you don’t know how to really talk about it,” Wicks said. “But even now, if I see Spoon or Vickie — they know exactly what it is, and we don’t say anything. Or even Cynthia or Tina. There’s a great deal of love there, and respect, even between fierce competitors. Because it brought something out of each one of us.”

From KBTX: Blair to be Inducted into Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame

“I have had the great opportunity to interact with the other inductees having either coached or coached against them and it will be an honor to stand beside them as we are inducted this weekend,” Blair said. “When you begin your career you do not even think of the Hall of Fame, you dream of NCAA Tournament appearances, Final Fours or the ultimate dream of a National Championship. The Hall of Fame is never one of your goals, because nobody can make the Hall without great teammates or assistant coaches. The honor is mind-boggling because of who is already in the Hall of Fame and to think that some of my former players or assistants will hopefully be able to join me in Knoxville really makes me appreciate how fortunate I am to have had their support throughout my career.”

From Dan Fleser: Signature moment epitomized Jennifer Rizzotti’s play – Fame is another move for Rizzotti and Mike Anthony from the Hartford Courant adds: Rizzotti Touched By Warm Reception At Pre-Hall Of Fame Gala

“A number of years ago, we took our basketball team to Italy,” said Sullivan, who will escort Rizzotti to the stage for her induction. “I ran [every morning] by this building in Rome. I didn’t even notice it the first two days. The third day, I stopped. The statues, the window work, the details. Because Rome is so saturated with all these iconic things, I hadn’t even noticed the building. Sometimes I feel like that’s what life with Jen is like. She’s gotten so much done and accomplished so many things, that if you’re not constantly looking at it you’ll miss some things.

“When the things you’re really great at transcend basketball, then you know you’re going to be a hall of fame daughter, a hall of fame sister, a hall of fame mother, a hall of fame wife. That’s why, wherever she goes, she’s been able to do whatever she’s done. Although I run by that building a little too often, I assure you, I promise you, that I know how beautiful it is.”

Dan also notes, Peggy Gillom-Granderson surprised to be Women’s Hall inductee

Peggie Gillom-Granderson’s accomplishments speak volumes on her behalf.

Just as well, since she still struggles to grasp the sum of her women’s basketball career at Ole Miss. The 2,486 points and 1,271 rebounds she amassed added up to phone call last summer from long-time acquaintance Eddie Clinton, informing Gillom-Granderson that she will be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. She called him back the next day just to make sure it was true.

From the Times Free Press: UTC’s Foster ready for Women’s College Basketball Hall of Fame induction

“I’m sure it will hit me when I’m there,” Foster said. “But I’m not going to predetermine what my feelings are. I have to experience things. I’ve been asked about a lot of things, but I have to experience them.”

From the Daily Progress: Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame to honor Wayland Baptist Flying Queens

The Flying Queens are only the fourth “Trailblazer of the Game” to be recognized, joining the All-American Red Heads, Edmonton Grads and the Former Helms/Citizens Savings/Founders Bank. Each group has a display at the Hall of Fame.

The five teams, then known as the Hutcherson Flying Queens – carrying the name of their sponsor, Claude Hutcherson, a local fixed-base operator who flew the teams to their games in his fleet of Bonanza aircraft – also won four consecutive AAU championships during the streak. Texas Monthly magazine did a feature on the streak in March and a company in Denver is planning a documentary on the same subject.

From TexasSports.com: Smith-Knight to be inducted into Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2013: Texas’ all-time leading scorer becomes the fifth member of the Women’s Basketball family to earn Hall of Fame induction.

“In the most simple words, we built the Texas Women’s Basketball program on the back of Annette,” UT Women’s Athletics Director Chris Plonsky said. “We have probably never had a more humble, yet effusive, superstar. In her prime, Annette was great because of her sheer-natural talent. Her competitiveness and her zest for playing were unmatched. Every great player that came to play at Texas came because of Annette.”

Smith-Knight was a first-team All-American (1984) and a two-time Southwest Conference Player of the Year (1983, 1984) as a sophomore and junior who also won a gold medal for USA Basketball at the 1983 World University Games. She paced Conradt’s squad to a runner-up finish at the 1982 AIAW Championship in addition to a pair of NCAA “Elite Eight” showings (in 1983 and 1984).

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Gary Blair, Texas A&M
From the Dallas Morning News: Texas A&M’s Gary Blair part of women’s basketball Hall of Fame class

“The honor is humbling, and I feel I should be thanking players, assistant coaches and administrators for their belief in me instead of receiving accolades for what I consider a team award,” Blair said. “The roll call of the people that are in the Hall of Fame is mind boggling. So many of them have helped shape my life in coaching as mentors, role models, and players I have had an opportunity to coach or compete against.”

Jim Foster, Ohio State
From Mel: Foster entering Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame

“It’s hard to get a grasp on the magnitude of the honor when you’ve still only recently gotten the news,” said Foster, who was informed three weeks ago by Carol Callan, the president of the Hall’s board of directors.

Peggie Gillom-Granderson, Mississippi

Jennifer Rizzotti, UConn
From Lori Riley at the Hartford Courant: Jen Rizzotti Going Into Women’s Basketball Hall Of Fame

“Jen has done more to create interest in playing basketball among girls than any other person I know,” Auriemma said. “She deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. She deserves to be in every Hall of Fame. I know she’s in mine.”

Annette Smith-Knight, Texas
From the Statesman:

“This is a privilege that comes with a lot of surprise, too. At my age, you start to think that all of the awards and honors are in the past,” Smith-Knight said. “This announcement brings such a smile to my face and brings a flood of emotions and wonderful memories of my career at Texas.”

Sue Wicks, Rutgers
From the Star-Ledger: Rutgers great Sue Wicks elected to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and an old Q&A:

WB: Have you considered how Rebecca’s injury impacted your career?

SW: Rebecca was playing 35 minutes the year before, so those minutes just came to me. I think I still played a “role” for the team. But you never know what would have happened. Maybe (new coach) Richie Adubato wouldn’t have like Rebecca’s game. That’s sports — you never can say, “Well what if this happened, what if that happened.” You’d lose so much sleep. (Laughs)

It’s a lot of luck in sports — to land on the right team, and to be there and at the right moment. You have to work hard every day until your luck arrives. Because luck does come, it’s just that sometimes we’re not prepared for it.

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