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But I gotta say, with all the hate and horror this past week, I have to wonder about Skylar’s tweet:

Some of the comments I heard from the fans last night disgusted me. Completely unnecessary and nothing to do with ball.

Not. Okay. SO not okay.

Speaking of NOT OKAYBrittney Griner Responds To Happy Father’s Day Trolls On Twitter

Speaking of ALSO NOT OKAY: Who the hell writes your headlines AP/ESPN? This is what you produce after a three-overtime game? Wings beat Mercury in 3OT in first game between Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson since divorce Take a moment sports and copy editors and look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Who do I work for, a sports site or a gossip rag?”

Now, about that triple-OT game. It was a doozy – with lot of basketball drama. From Swish Appeal: 

Phoenix head coach Sandy Brondello was quick to give Dallas credit for their resilience.

“We just didn’t have the energy, we built that seven-point lead, and we got some wide open three’s and we just broke down,” Brondello said. “This (Dallas) is a team that has a lot of confidence; Skylar Diggins got back into the flow of her game. We were on our back foot, obviously, foul trouble hurt us – when Diana went out.”

From Jeff Metcalfe: 

The Mercury (4-8) dropped the second of back-to-back games after losing Friday in Los Angeles and fall to four games under .500 for the third time.

“We let it slip away,” said Taylor, who scored 21 points. Taylor said she did not commit a foul with 15.5 seconds left but was told by the official “that he thought I wanted to foul. But I didn’t. It was a game we had control of but had too many mistakes and too many breakdowns. We have to take a look at ourselves and try and turn it around.”

BTW @WNBA – any way you can contact google and inform them that the Shock are no longer the Shock?

Dream: Carla Cortijo embraces role as WNBA’s only Puerto Rican-born player

Yes! LeBron, Russell Westbrook praise WNBA in new ad set to debut Monday night and Hell, yes! WNBA’s Nneka Ogwumike shot the ball 20 times in a game and didn’t miss

Cool: Sports Humanitarian finalists: Brent Burns, Tina Charles, Carlos Dunlap, Chris Paul

Fever: USC’s Mitchell thriving in WNBA

“I think this put me in the best situation, honestly,” said Mitchell. “I use it as motivation just because I felt I could have been a higher draft pick. But, at the end of the day, I knew I was going to make the most out of any opportunity I had and I had to put my best foot forward.”

Yes, yes, how soon does June 21st get here!?!??!?!? WNBA Power Rankings: Minnesota Lynx, LA Sparks Continue Early Dominance From Michelle: 

Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve looked around after practice and saw nearly 50 members of the media there to greet her and her Lynx players to talk about being on the cusp of the best start in WNBA history.

“There are a lot of people here, something must be going on,” Reeve said with a chuckle.

That good humor is hard-earned, as Minnesota has stormed out to a 10-0 record to open the season, matching the best start in WNBA history.

LaChina’s Podcast: 

On this week’s “Around the Rim,” women’s basketball analyst LaChina Robinson covers the Lynx’s historic start to the WNBA season and speaks with two of the game’s brightest stars — Sky rookie Imani Boyette and three-time WNBA champion and Mercury guard Diana Taurasi.

Flashback time: Twenty years later, a look back at WNBA’s first game

“All those games I’d watched as a kid, the Celtics-Lakers games, it was in that building, on that court,” said Lobo, who finished the first game with 16 points and six rebounds. “It was that same kind of atmosphere in terms of a lot of fans there, TV cameras right there. It felt big.

“The game itself I remember us winning, which was important. But there was just so much around it that is even a bigger memory to me than some of the things that happened on the court.”

AdiosFormer UConn star Swin Cash on WNBA farewell tour and Retiring Swin Cash trying to stay in the moment in final WNBA season

And yes, I know they’re doing a “Top 20 of the last 20 (WNBA 20th Season Celebration Will Honor 20 Greatest Players),” and Mel’s asked for your input (WNBA Top 20 All-Time Players: The Guru Offers You the Chance to be His Committee but all those lists do is start arguments vs. discussions of the game. Me? I’d rather they just put in them in (reverse) alphabetical order…

Babcock McGraw: Parker, Catchings among 20 best players in WNBA’s 20-year history

International: China, France, Spain and Turkey clinch women’s basketball places at Rio 2016

Geno Auriemma getting ready for run with U.S. women’s national team

BTW: Coming to New York for the USA National team game on July 31st? Gimme a holler – maybe we can meet for dinner afterward? (And if you want to avoid ticket fees, I can pick up seats for you too – womenshoopsblog@gmail.com

Also: It’s to early to plan for FIBA 2018/Spain… but it sure ain’t too early to start saving for the trip….hint, hint, hint.

NCAA: 

Goodbye/hello: St. Bonaventure women’s basketball Miranda Drummond transfers to Syracuse

Goodbye? Morgan State reassigns women’s basketball coach Donald Beasley

Oregon Ducks women’s basketball coach Kelly Graves excited about incoming recruiting class

Coach Jeff Mittie seeks faster pace from K-State women’s basketball team

Congrats:

The 1991-92 and 1992-93 Arkansas Tech University women’s basketball teams have been selected for induction into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.
 
The Golden Suns of the early 1990s are the only four-year college basketball teams from the State of Arkansas to ever win back-to-back national championships.

Another Library addition: Fight! Fight!: Discovering Your Inner Strength When Blindsided by Life and Q&A with women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell

Less than a month after being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in September 2013, UNC women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Her new book, “Fight! Fight!: Discovering Your Inner Strength When Blindsided by Life,” details her battle and eventual triumph disease. 

High School: Two girls’ basketball players in Ky. sue coach for bullying, intimidation

Two graduating seniors are now suing their prep basketball coach, accusing him of bullying, abuse and intimidation.

Four months after finishing their Muhlenberg County (Greenville, Ky.) girls’ basketball careers, Makayla Sampson and Kerra Vincent are seeking disciplinary measures against Lady Mustangs coach Mike Harper as well as compensation for the injuries and resulting medical treatment they say he forced them to play through, according to WBKO-TV.

Ball: Women’s rec basketball gets a starring role in new Pistol Shrimps documentary

The pistol shrimp is a ferocious creature the size of a human finger, armed with a deadly, oversized claw that functions like a handgun, sending tiny air bullets speeding at 60-plus miles per hour toward its victim. These Pistol Shrimps are 13 women on a rec league basketball team in Los Angeles. They, too, are fierce. They’re funny. They have their own dance team. And last season, they almost went undefeated. So, so close.

The Shrimps’ chase to the L.A. City Municipal Women’s Basketball League division championship provides the backdrop for a new documentary, “The Pistol Shrimps,” which introduces viewers to the most famous women’s intramural team in the world, and is only tangentially about the game of basketball.

“From the outside, we look like an unassuming basketball team,” says singer/songwriter/point guard Jesse Thomas, No. 99 on the Pistol Shrimps. “But after you watch the movie, you realize there’s a lot more going on than just basketball. It’s inspirational.”

From Deadline: ‘The Pistol Shrimps’ Tribeca Trailer: These Women Are Ballers On And Off The Court

Warning to haters from Pistol Shrimp baller Aubrey Plaza, just in time for the NBA Playoffs: “You’re either with us or you’re against us — and God help you if you’re against us because we will dunk on your ass so hard!” Here’s a first look at The Pistol Shrimps, a docu-take on the basketball collective made up of actresses, comics and attitude. Shocked — shocked! — to learn that there were no women’s leagues in Los Angeles, they formed their own, and a hard-fouling, trash-spewing semi-juggernaut was born.

 

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Don’t go to OT.

Hill scores career-high 24, Mystics beat Sun 84-76 in OT

The Lib got there two different ways – let the Sparks back in and came back against the Dream. End result? Two losses. Oops.

Inside The W with Michelle Smith

This is why Tina Charles came to New York. She wanted to come to her hometown team and be a part of building the Liberty franchise into one of the league’s elite teams.

The Liberty are 2-2 with both losses coming in overtime, but are still looking poised to build on the success of 2015, when they posted the best record in franchise history and the best regular-season record in the WNBA.

Charles said the Sparks loss, a game in which the Liberty led by eight with 1:16 to go in regulation, leaves “a bad taste.”

Yah, sure, you’re telling me that you thought the Storm would give the Lynx their biggest challenge of the season (so far). (Or that the Merc would be 0-fer) If you don’t have the June 21st Minnesota/LA match up circled, I have no idea what will get you revved in the world of basketball.

Speaking of Seattle:

Go behind-the-scenes of Breanna Stewart’s WNBA debut in a new documentary series

Seattle Times: Storm’s Breanna Stewart is learning from tough early losses in WNBA

Speaking of the Sparks, from Fastbreak’s WNBA Weekly Rundown: Sparks shining early (And stompin’ the Sky)

Nneka Ogwumike is ‘glue’ for Los Angeles Sparks

A year ago right about this same time, we checked in with Ogwumike and she was very optimistic about the Sparks’ potential, despite forward Candace Parker sitting out the first part of the season. But then Ogwumike suffered a sprained ankle in an exhibition game in late May. (The season started in June then, with no major international competition to have to fit in like this year with the Olympics.)

And very little went right for L.A. for nearly two months. 

San Antonio: Moriah Jefferson quickly becoming a shining ‘Star’

Hello, Washington: Jamie Weisner added to the roster.

Some people hate the jerseys, some people love’em. Me, I’m glad the Wings are off to such a great start – and that a sold out crowd got to see a home win. Great job getting the word out in the Dallas-Arlington-Fort Worth area.

Tara Sullivan: WNBA passing the test of time

The first postgame locker room in WNBA history looked like something out of a M*A*S*H episode, exhausted bodies dropping wherever they could. Such was the price of an emotional (participating in the historic debut of a brand new basketball league) and physical (actually playing in the 60-minute game) toll. Players from the New York Liberty and Los Angeles Sparks were worn out.

“Right now, I’m emotionally spent,” Liberty center Rebecca Lobo told me that California day in June 1997. “We had so much emotion running through us for this game. We were wound tight and wanted to explode.”

Stefanie Dolson says decision to come out was ‘mainly to be a role model for the younger girls’

Today, the former UConn star and WNBA All-Star player will come out publicly in print that she is a lesbian athlete. Although it has been out on the web for almost two weeks on ESPN.com, the ESPN The Magazine article about Dolson hits newsstands today. 

“I don’t really see it as an announcement,” Dolson said prior to the Mystics’ game with the Connecticut Sun on Saturday. “It was mainly just to get out that the WNBA, as a league, is supportive of who we are as women. That’s why our fans are so great. They support us, too. I’m just glad that I’m happy.”

Former WNBA legend Ruthie Bolton shares three takeaways from her film ‘Mighty Ruthie’

Former WNBA legend Ruthie Bolton’s film, “Mighty Ruthie,” premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on SEC Network. It highlights the Olympic medalist’s life as a college basketball player at Auburn in the 1980s, as she worked hard to prove her talent and eventually became a star athlete.

A few years later, Bolton led the United States women’s basketball team to the gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Los Angeles. Throughout her successful career, Bolton kept a secret from her family and teammates: Her then-husband was physically abusing her.

Two days after “Mighty Ruthie” was screened at her alma mater by her former teammates and their coaches, espnW interviewed Bolton. Her older sister, Mae Ola, also a star athlete at Auburn, was present for the conversation. Bolton spoke candidly about the film, but she was adamant about not wanting viewers to pity her.

NCAA

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, good night…well, not until the end of the WNBA season. No real surprise, as Vandy made it official and named Stefanie White their new head coach. They sure got lucky, timing-wise… I think (ponders how early the process might have started). White will be joined by Carolyn Peck as associate head coach.

The SEC is setting up quite the Indiana/Purdue reunion, an Lin Dunn couldn’t stay off the sidelines. She joins Matthew Mitchell on the sidelines as a. Here’s hoping she can help right whatever’s wrong with that ship (on and off the court).

Hello: Williams-Jeter Added to Penn State Women’s Basketball Staff

Speaking of Connecticut grads: Hartley, Dolson know what awaits next year’s UConn team. It will help that they got another transfer addition (who won’t have to change her clothing color scheme much) Kentucky’s Batouly Camara Joins UConn; Will Sit Out A Season

Bye: Stasha Carey transfers to Rutgers women’s basketball, leaves Pitt

Congrats:

Michele Schmidt, assistant sports information director at South Dakota State University, won the 2016 Fred Stabley Sr. Writing Contest’s coach/administrator/historical category for the College Sports Information Directors of America’s District 7.

Schmidt’s article was on the 1986-87 women’s basketball team making the program’s first trip to Alaska. The Jackrabbits spent Thanksgiving visiting the North Pole, the Alaskan pipeline and a glacier. To read the story, visit http://www.gojacks.com/news/2015/11/26/210534488.aspx?path=wbball.

USA Basketball

You may recall Lubbock Christian as the team who got stomped by UConn in the preseason, made a video about it, and then went on to go undefeated and claim the DII championship. That may explain why LCU’s coach Steve Gomez got an offer to coach for USA Basketball. He’ll get to hang with the fabulous Nancy Fahey (Washington University), the only coach to win five Division III national championships, Washington University who he may have met at the Final Four festivities,  and Pam Crawford from League City Clear Springs High School.

International: Lauren Jackson to the rescue for Melbourne Boomers

AAU: Basketball Rebels Bounce Back After Founder’s Death

The MRC Rebels Girls Basketball Club was founded in 1988 by Oscar Jimenez, who saw a lack of basketball opportunities for San Francisco girls and sought the City’s help to fill the gap. The program received City funding early on, though Jimenez paid for some expenses out of his own pocket. When Jimenez died suddenly in 2010 at the age of 57, many of his youthful club members lost a mentor and father-figure. Slowly, with the help of new talent, the club has successfully rebounded. 

“It’s unique because of its legacy and affordability,” said assistant coach, Mark Reppert. “We have girls coming up from South City largely due to the legacy created by Oscar. The team is made up of girls from an array of backgrounds and cultures, which I think is rare for San Francisco these days. This diversity represents what the Mission is at its heart.”

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the less said about the Liberty game last night, the better (which is my excuse for the original headline typo. gak.). During the “game”, I did have a lovely chat with a with a couple of gentlemen – one of whom had been a basketball coach in Boston year’s back. Fun listening to what they saw happening on the court.

As voiced by my Garden neighbors, our biggest concern was that the egg the team just laid might move Indiana down into fourth – and no one wants to play Catchings in the playoffs… in her next-to-last (last – thx L.E. Brain freeze.) season… even if the Fever are on a 50-50 stretch lately. This Sunday’s games will settle the East, ’cause the Fever won yesterday.

Playoffs:

New York vs. Washington or Indiana

  • Game 1 – Friday, September 18, Washington or Indiana at New York, 7 p.m., NBA TV
  • Game 2 – Sunday, September 20, New York at Washington or Indiana, 1 p.m., ESPN
  • Game 3 – Tuesday, September 22, Washington or Indiana at New York*, TBD, ESPN2

Chicago vs. Indiana or Washington

  • Game 1 – Thursday, September 17, Indiana or Washington at Chicago, 8 p.m, ESPN2
  • Game 2 – Saturday, September 19, Chicago at Indiana or Washington, 7 p.m., NBA TV
  • Game 3 – Monday, September 21, Indiana or Washington at Chicago*, 8 p.m., NBA TV

Western Conference

Minnesota vs. Los Angeles

  • Game 1 – Friday, September 18, Los Angeles at Minnesota, 9 p.m., NBA TV
  • Game 2 – Sunday, September 20, Minnesota at Los Angeles, 3 p.m., ESPN
  • Game 3 – Tuesday, September 22, Los Angeles at Minnesota*, TBD, ESPN2

Phoenix vs. Tulsa

  • Game 1 – Thursday, September 17, Tulsa at Phoenix, 10 p.m., ESPN2
  • Game 2 – Saturday, September 19, Phoenix at Tulsa, 9 pm., NBA TV
  • Game 3 – Monday, September 21, Tulsa at Phoenix*, 10 p.m. ET, NBA TV

At ESPN, M&M offer their picks for the end of the season award winners.

David talks to Ros on Dishin’ & Swishin’ to answer the question: “Are the Liberty the Best Team in the WNBA?”

History Heads Up for tomorrows Connecticut Sun/Chicago Sky game: Joanne Lannin will have a table on the concourse before, during, and after the game, where she’ll be selling and signing her book Finding a Way to Play. Drop by and visit!

ALSO, if you want to buy a last-minute ticket to the game at the box office, mention Lannin’s name and say you are part of her “group” and you’ll get a discount ($10 for a $22 seat).

Speaking of (Naismith Hall of Fame) history: Lisa, Lisa, Lisa.

When Lisa Leslie enters the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Friday, she will do so as one of the greatest WNBA basketball players of all time. 

Leslie won the WNBA MVP award three times and was named to the All-WNBA first team in eight seasons. Her Los Angeles Sparks teams won the WNBA title twice. In 2002, she became the first player in the league’s history to dunk. 

Leslie – along with a group of players around since the inception of the league like Sheryl Swoopes, Rebecca Lobo and Teresa Witherspoon [sic] – is part of the fabric of the WNBA. She’s a major reason the league was successful, and the league was a major reason Leslie’s profile made her internationally recognizable during her career. 

However, none of that was clear when Leslie entered the new league in 1997 and joined the Los Angeles Sparks. 

WATN? Pee Wee Johnson named Coker women’s basketball coach

Former WNBA all-star and Olympic gold medalist Shannon Johnson was named head women’s basketball coach at Coker College.

Johnson returns to her hometown to lead the NCAA Division II program after four seasons as assistant at Northwestern State.

WATN? Cleveland Rockers: Toreros Add Mery Andrade to Coaching Staff

Sending healing thoughts: Cancer battle sidelines longtime Corcoran girls basketball coach Jim Marsh

For the first time in 32 seasons, Jim Marsh won’t be on the bench for the Corcoran High School girls basketball program.

The 54-year-old coach, whose teams have won eight Section III titles and two state championships, is in a battle with Stage 4 liver cancer.

It’s a fight in which school administrators, fellow coaches and teachers, and scores of former players and students all are pulling for a victory for Marsh, whose 493 careers wins at Corcoran are the most by a girls basketball coach in Section III.

From the Players’ Tribune: Sugar Rogers.

I’m going to tell you something I haven’t even told most of my New York Liberty teammates. When I go to bed at night, I triple check the lock on my door. Then I slide a chair in front of the door. Then I keep the TV on mute to keep me company while I fall asleep. 

I’m still dealing with anxiety from something that happened to me when I went back to visit my family in the South. A relative who I am very close to had just moved out of the projects and into a nice neighborhood. Let’s call her Tanya. She’s a little older than me — she’s 29, and I’m 25. So Tanya’s three young kids are like my nieces and nephews. It was a big deal for the kids to get out of the public housing atmosphere. When I got down there, they were all excited to show me the house. 

I was asleep on a couch in the living room when I heard their side door slam. Bam. It shook me awake. My first thought was that it was Tanya’s boyfriend coming home. But then I pulled out my phone and I saw the time: 3:49 a.m. For some reason, I’ll never forget that. Years and years of survival instincts took over and I thought, Uh oh. This isn’t right. 

When I rolled over and looked toward the back door, I saw a man in a red hoodie holding a gun. He walked towards the couch. Behind him, another man held a machine gun.

Also from PT: Full Court and  Liberty 1440.

In the second episode of 1440, we follow four New York Liberty players on a rare occasion: an off day. From mini golf with Kiah Stokes’ mom, to a Brooklyn museum with Candice Wiggins, to a charity event hosted by Epiphanny Prince and back on the court with Sugar Rodgers, each player decompresses and regenerates in their own, personal way.

And more: Swin Cash, City Kids

And more: Jewell Loyd, Going Home

And more: Real Fan Life: Layshia Clarendon and Jeremy Sisto

And more: 

In the latest installment of Players’ POV, New York Liberty players and WNBA veterans Swin Cash, Tanisha Wright and Essence Carson speak personally on race, gender and the visibility of all professional female athletes, from media coverage and stereotypes, to the need for diversity and inclusion. 

Theirs is a message for all.

One would hope that it would be a “message for all,” but there’s no guarantee “all” will hear it. Women’s Basketball fans, players, coaches, journalists, parents have encountered the fear-based misogyny, homophobia and racism that comes with being associated with women’s athletics. It’s amazing how insecure folks are when their perceived “norm” within an established power structure is challenged. There are some who can’t just “not like” women’s sports. They feel the need to insult, attack and demean all those involved (Flashing back, in this “Summer of Female Athletes,” to that aptly titled classic – “The Stronger Women Get, the More Men Love Football.” And, of course, we know that this fear-based cowardice is not a uniquely male territory).

That need to demean and insult is one of the reasons I don’t have comments on this blog. But, folks can email me, because I believe in dialogue. Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to get lots of lovely notes (and news links), some spam and very little trash. Recently, I engaged a sad excuse for a human being who inhabited the twitter-sphere. Why? Because he wished something particularly vicious upon Serena Williams. It read as a form of instigation/inspiration to other hate-mongers  – and there are too many examples of people reading that dreck and taking it upon themselves to put thoughts into action.

Secondly, I took further action against this quivering ball of misogyny because he’d identified himself an aspiring journalist and contributor to an area news service. AND he was stupid enough to name that organization (as well as his current “alleged” employer, Genentech, a company he claims could care too hoots about employees publicly wishing death on female athletes.)

I am very aware that what say I as “Helen, basketball fan and opinonator” in my itty-bitty space in the social media world is connected to my role in my professional world. It amazes me that others forget that – even as example after example play out in today’s news. Besides, media outlets are under enough pressure to survive – they don’t need the kind of attention the original tweet was drawing… So, I wrote a polite note to his sport editor about the twit-comment, suggesting that have a conversation with his employee about professionalism and the fact that “What happens on social media stays on social media.” The news outlet responded quite quickly (seems, despite his claim, it had been a long time since the twitter-author had been a contributor) and promised to take action.

No surprise, being held accountable for his public hate-think upset this poor twitter-putz. So, of course, he sent me an email full of attempts to insult me. But, honestly, I just had to laugh because they were sooooooo old-school-lame. And I quote:

blah, blah, blah an old, lonely cat lady blah, blah, blah anything to keep you busy and make you feel connected to the actual world blah, blah, blah uppity feminist pain in the ass blah, blah, blah reporting’ about women who look like men, struggling to make lay ups and simple bounce passes blah, blah, blah easier to win when you are built like a man blah, blah, blah you probably just need to get laid blah, blah, blah

I mean really, aren’t you tempted to send him that “How to be a Racist, Misogynistic Homophobe in the 2010’s” handbook that gets passed around in certain man-caves? Might not help, though, cause it’s clear none of what he’d heard during the Walter Cronkite seminars he allegedly attended seems to have stuck.

Anyway, this is just to that, as a slightly wise, semi-old, very un-lonely cat lady with plenty to do in the actual world, I embrace being an “uppity feminist pain in the ass.” (Hmm, is there another t-shirt in the making?). I will continue to reporting about women executing fabulous feats of athleticism on the court. I will celebrate the fact that there are other men and women who embrace the female athlete’s embodiment of physical strength and determination. And I will do all that knowing it has absolutely no impact on my sex life.

But I also know what I encountered is just a fraction of what others experience on a daily basis. And that not everyone can be resilient in the face of such bone-deep, destructive and irrational hate.

So I encourage all who can to acknowledge, address, and engage those who use cruelty to tear down what they fear (in themselves and in the world). Embrace all those who make up our community. Be an ally. Be a resource. Be a supporter.

Because, if we do, in the end the scoreboard will read: #FearStrikesOut and #LoveWins.

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The FIBA19 semi finals are up at 1:30pm EST. After making a tasty goose pate of the Canadians, the US will face Spain. Dawn and company seem to have the team cooking on all cylinders. Will they be feasting on tapas tonight?

After that game, tune in to ABC (what! rabbit ears television channel?) at 3:30EST for the All-Star Game. Nice mix of “old” and new talent this year… looking forward to some fun. And, no pressure, I hope the players put on a show that builds on the nice summer of success (and attention) female athletes have had…

Speaking of fun, Back as a WNBA All-Star, ex-UConn star lets her hair down and Former UConn star Stefanie Dolson the life of the party

Always animated and always colorful – “Look at her, her hair’s purple,” Connecticut center Kelsey Bone said with a laugh – Dolson stole the show when she won what has become tradition to end a WNBA practice: the halfcourt shooting contest.

Lots of other stories floating around the game:

From the – Elkhart Truth: Tamika Catchings ready for WNBA All-Star Game finale 

The .com has tons of backstage stuff. Check out an appearance by Betty Lou in the middle of Nneka and Maya’s interview.

About the crew covering the game: Entering third straight WNBA All-Star assignment, ESPN’s trio appreciates chemistry

Saturday, Ryan RuoccoRebecca Lobo and Holly Rowe will call their third straight WNBA All-Star game together (ABC, 3:30 p.m.ET). The 2015 edition will feature some of the biggest stars in the league including Maya Moore, Elena Delle Donne and Shoni Schimmel. Ruocco and Rowe chatted with Front Row about working together and their thoughts on the midseason showcase.

How has it been working together over the last three seasons?
RR: I absolutely love working with Rebecca and Holly. It’s one of my favorite activities in life, never mind work. They’re both terrific at what they do and so much fun. The great part about an All-Star Game is it lends itself to a fun atmosphere, which plays right into our wheelhouse. Holly really bounces all over the place in All-Star Games, bringing the fans truly unique access, and Rebecca and I love teeing her up for those opportunities.

HR: We have so much fun together it hardly feels like working. Rebecca and Ryan are so supportive and include me in the broadcast so much. It is a joy to work with them!

Mechelle writes about one of the bestest we’ve had the pleasure of watching: All-Star Tamika Catchings preparing for life after hoops

A little girl is battling her jump rope — she accidentally hit herself with it — and appears close to meltdown mode. Uh oh, her shoulders are slumping, her eyes are watering, her face is scrunching up …

Time for Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings, the WNBA standout so famed for her scoring, defense and rebounding, to come in with the assist.

So does Doug: Tamika Catchings ready for WNBA All-Star Game finale

Tamika Catchings didn’t want to get sentimental thinking about her final All-Star Game.

Catchings, who announced last fall that 2016 would be her final season, will be playing in a record 10th game Saturday. The WNBA usually skips the All-Star Game during Olympic years.

“I’m excited,” Catchings said. “I think everybody thought I’d be sad about this coming to the end, the last this, the last that. I’m really not. It’s time. The young players are playing so well.”

NY Times: Elena Delle Donne Emerges as Face of the WNBA

With the league’s best players gathered at Mohegan Sun Arena for Saturday’s W.N.B.A. All-Star Game, Delle Donne’s colleagues, including Brittney Griner — the player selected No. 1 in 2013 — and the league president are acknowledging that she has arrived at that moment.

“She’s doing what everybody expected,” Griner said. “Elena, she’s a dominant player. It’s good for the league, how everybody always is talking about Delle Donne.”

Chicago Daily Herald: Elena Delle Donne top hit for Sky

School’s out, but there are progress reports to write up.

It’s mid-term time for the WNBA, which plays its All-Star Game in Connecticut today (2:30 p.m., ABC 7). The Chicago Sky has logged 17 of its 34 games and is one game out of first place in the Eastern Conference with an 11-6 record.

Not a bad showing so far. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the first-half hits and misses for the Sky:

Hit: Elena Delle Donne. Duh.

Swish Appeal: Delle Donne happy, healthy and confident

USAToday: Behind Elena Delle Donne’s touching gesture at the WNBA All-Star game

When Elena Delle Donne heard about Nike’s new shoes designed for people with disabilities and the college student behind them, she thought immediately about her sister, Lizzie.

Hartford Courant: Griner Puts Past Behind, Focuses On Mercury’s WNBA Title Hopes

The past few months have been anything but simple for Brittney Griner.

A household name for any follower of women’s basketball, Griner’s WNBA career — which includes the league record for most dunks in a game with two — has been eclipsed by events in her personal life.

USAToday: Brittney Griner faces promising future as she moves on from off-court issues

Late Friday afternoon, the WNBA fans assembled for All-Star Weekend gathered in the Mohegan Sun Arena to watch the East and West teams conduct an open practice.

The star power is immense for both teams. Transcendent Elena Delle Donne of the Chicago Sky, legendary Tamika Catchings of the Indiana Fever and the East will be remarkable to watch together when the teams take the floor at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday on ABC. The West features defending league MVP Maya Moore and future Hall of Famer Sue Bird.

And yet, there is something magnetic about the combination of Brittney Griner and a basketball court that kept all eyes on her from the moment she stepped out of the Mohegan Sun Arena tunnel Friday, and every time she goes anywhere, on and off the court.

Hartford Courant: Changing Of Guard: New Faces Join Stalwarts At WNBA All-Star Game

Before the season, the conversation about the WNBA mostly centered on what the league wouldn’t have. You likely heard that Diana Taurasi wouldn’t play at all, Candace Parker wouldn’t play for a while, Sylvia Fowles wanted a new contract to play and Brittney Griner couldn’t play for the first seven games. Four stars, four voids to fill, four issues.

But as always, time and progress never stand still. The WNBA has managed to plow through the cloud of uncertainty and adopt a new identity based on a number of fresh-faced stars. On Saturday, it will play its All-Star Game at Mohegan Sun Arena with its familiar core surrounded by many first-time participants.

New Haven Register: New wave of young stars taking over WNBA All-Star Game

“I think for a while you saw the same people, and that speaks to those players’ consistency and their ability to get into the all-star games, but now there is definitely a fresh crop,” said former UConn star and Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird, who will start for the Western Conference. “There are some people who aren’t playing in the WNBA this year, there are others who came late and some pretty talented players. But everybody in this game deserves to be here.”

USAToday: WNBA President Laurel Richie aims to take league to new heights

Newly-minted all star Alex Bentley of the Connecticut Sun made a beeline for WNBA President Laurel Richie as she sat for an interview Thursday afternoon in the lobby of the Mohegan Sun, days before the league’s All-Star Game there on Saturday, and gave Richie a warm embrace.

It’s the kind of reception Richie receives virtually everywhere she goes lately. Two off-court challenges this past offseason — Isiah Thomas’ bid to become part-owner of the Liberty and a domestic violence incident between two WNBA players — are thought to be handled in a way that upheld the values of the league and drew near-universal acclaim.

Sporting News: WNBA All-Star Game shows league’s best — and players’ difficult reality

Shanxi is on a plateau surrounded by North China’s mountains, a province smaller in area than Wisconsin with more people than Canada. It served as a major economic center thousands of years ago and is bound by its rich culture and history. And by Maya Moore.

SlamOnline: NBA and WNBA Photos Of The Week

Not at the game, but an All-Star in her own right: Dishin & Swishin 7/24/15 Podcast: Perseverance rewarded, Jacki Gemelos joins the Chicago Sky

Mechelle writes about the fabulous WBHOF class:

UCLA‘s Natalie Williams played at a superstar level in basketball and volleyball and is one of the most accomplished athletes in Pac-12 history.

An avalanche of injuries took Missouri State‘s Jackie Stiles away from playing basketball long before she was ready. But you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who could have packed in more points scored in a relatively short college and pro career than Stiles did.

Both former players lead the way for the 2016 class of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tennessee. The class — which includes coaches Sherri Coale and Joe Lombard, referee June Courteau and administrator Bill Tipps — will be formally announced at Saturday’s WNBA All-Star Game at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, a source confirmed to espnW.

Speaking of history: Thank you: Bishop Grimes girls basketball coach leaves lasting legacy, retires after 46 years

Pfefferle started coaching at Bishop Grimes in 1969, three years before Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. The girls basketball program had no uniforms, outdated equipment and unusual practice times due of lack of access to the gymnasium.

“It was a different time,” Pfefferle said. “We pushed to get everything we needed.”

Pfefferle’s coaching style was also different from how the girls were used to being instructed. She yelled, she made them run, she yelled some more and she made them run a lot more.

“I didn’t treat them like girls,” she said. “I treated them like athletes.

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Women’s College Basketball Is Better Than Men’s (AND they’ve got facts to back it up!)

Even many who love and defend women’s basketball often judge it a little differently than men’s, on the presumption that it’s a less mature sport.

I don’t begrudge anyone for thinking this — I would still think the same if I hadn’t had the game on my mind for the past seven weeks. (Have I mentioned my editor is patient?) And it would make sense if there were any truth to the notion that women’s basketball is less talented.

But it isn’t. As it turns out, not only is women’s college basketball as strong and deep in college-age talent as the men’s game, but for the rarest talent, it is significantly more so.

In other news: Is it just me, or is it getting hot in here? Alleva: LSU needs to ‘revitalize’ women’s basketball

LSU women’s basketball coach Nikki Caldwell has reached the NCAA Tournament during all four of her years with the Lady Tigers. However, in a recent interview with WAFB-TV, athletic director Joe Alleva sees a need for improvement.

“I’m not saying the product is bad, don’t get me wrong,” says Alleva. “But it’s not as good as it’s been, in some past years, when we were playing in the Final Four.”

Ummmm.. ok? Former Eastern Michigan women’s basketball coach AnnMarie Gilbert, who left after report of NCAA violations, will coach at Virginia Union

“I gotta moooooove!” Sky’s Sylvia Fowles seeking trade

Yikes: Four Southeast Missouri State women’s basketball signees released from NLI

Go to your happy place… go to your happy place… oooo, ICE CREAM! Dolson Still Happy As ‘Big Mama Stef’

Soon, the Family Farm Ice Cream shop in Wallkill, N.Y., will debut a new sundae. It will honor Stefanie Dolson, the former Minisink Valley High player who won two national championships at UConn and just completed her rookie season with the WNBA‘sWashington Mystics and teams in Russia and Turkey.

More than anything, the concoction is designed to honor the cherry-on-top personality that has always drawn people to her, even five years after she left town to join the Huskies as a freshman. That’s why it took Dolson more than two hours to say hi to the estimated 500 people who showed up at the ice cream shop last weekend to see her.

Don’t forget what day is coming up…Lobo encourages female athletes to dream at BU luncheon

More than 500 people attended the event including student-athletes from the university as well as local high schools, including the Susquehanna Valley girls basketball team which one the program’s first state championship last month. The luncheon got postponed by a snowstorm on Feb. 2.

“My theme is that I was fortunate to be raised by a really strong-willed woman who let me understand that I could be whatever I wanted to be through sports, who encouraged me to dream,” Lobo said.

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Wicked early flight meant getting up wicked-er early, so I’m looking forward to a nap soon.

It’s chilly-greening-spring here in Tennessee – 40 or so when we landed, but the Final Four greeter promised us 64 by noon. When you’re in the sun, yes….when you’re not? Brrrrrr!

Easy car pick up, then headed to East Nashville for some breakfast at Marche Artisan Foods. Great service, yummy food…

With time to kill before the hotel opened up, drove into, through and around downtown Nashville. Small and bustling at the center. Different, more concentrated vibe than when I was in Knoxville for the WBHOF induction ceremony a while back. Strong mix of old and new architecture.

Continued our wandering exploration and end up driving past Vanderbilt (yes, as we researched, started by THAT Vanderbilt – hence the “Commodores” nickname.) Did you know the campus was also an arboretum? Did a quick drive through – really, really lovely. Also stopped by Centennial Park to visit the Parthenon and did some walking. Yup, it’s big. Nearby lake is being dredged/cleaned, so that wasn’t so scenic.

It’s early for birds – but there is a list: RobinsBlue Jays, a lone Turkey Vulture, cackling Grackles, some beautiful Bank Swallows, noisy Northern Mockingbird, a gregarious Carolina Wren, and an early Hermit Thrush.

Next on the agenda, the aforementioned nap, then a return to East Nashville to partake of the fare at the Eastland Cafe. Then, we’re off to the Grand Ole Opry!

Phew!

Hoping tomorrow features a visit with a WBHOF inductee, coffee, brunch, barbecue and two fabulous games.

Until them, some more reading (and listening): First, make sure you check out the Tennessean’s coverage:

Fans show love early in Women’s Final Four

Kara Lawson: No favorite between Pat, Geno

Rebecca Lobo: UConn is beatable

Legendary lady Pat Summitt: Pride of Cheatham County

WOOT! WOOT! WBB HISTORY!! Nashville Business College: Champions before their time – LONG BEFORE TENNESSEE AND UCONN, THESE FARM GIRLS DOMINATED WOMEN’S BASKETBALL AND THEIR RECORD IS UNMATCHED TODAY.

Final Four teams have fun at Ryman

UConn’s Dolson, Hartley old hands at Final Four, Post
More Than Anything, Geno Demands Sweat From UConn Women, Courant
More Awards For Stefanie Dolson, Courant
Capsule: No. 1 Seed UConn Women Vs. No. 2 Seed Stanford, Courant
Pictures: Behind The Scenes With UConn Women In Nashville, Courant
It’s a Great Time to be a Husky, Stefanie Dolson

Stanford’s supporting cast stepping up to help Ogwumike, Register
ESPN analyst touts Ogwumike’s pro potential, SFGate
Lawson Says Stanford Has Best Shot At UConn, Hartford Courant

U-Md. abuzz as women’s basketball team heads to Final Four, Washington Post
Nashville already full of Maryland fans, ABC
Majoring in Chemistry, Chloe Pavlech

Before UConn, ND should fear Terps, Observer
Notre Dame Women: Save Your Pity, Blue & Gold
Irish must prove doubters wrong, Kate Fagan
Geno (And USA Basketball) Love Kayla McBride, Hartford Courant

Dishin & Swishin 04/03/14 Podcast: Breaking down the Final Four with coaches Doug Bruno, Lindsay Gottlieb & Coquese Washington, HoopFeed

Duke coach’s analysis of women’s Final Four, Bradenton Herald

In Women’s Final Four, Jousting Before the First Jump Ball, yea! It’s Harvey at the New York Times

Beating UConn rarely leads to title – Most teams that beat UConn in NCAA tourney don’t win NCAA championship, Mechelle Voepel

Rematches story of women’s Final Four, AP Teresa M. Walker

Five minutes with ESPN analyst Kara Lawson, Nashville Business Journal

NCAA hosting women’s hoops summit at Final Four, AP Doug

 

As coach Mitchell cuts to assistant coaches, Sea of Blue is Taking a Moment To Celebrate The Season That Was

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With conference play just around the corner…

Jan. 27: Notre Dame at Maryland, ESPN2
Feb. 2: Notre Dame at Duke, ESPN 
Feb. 2: Stanford at Cal, ESPN2
Feb. 9: Louisville at UConn, ESPN 
Feb. 10: North Carolina at Duke, ESPN2
Feb. 16: Kentucky at Tennessee, ESPN 
Feb. 23: Duke at Notre Dame, ESPN

…it’s intriguing to reflect how the top teams fared in their pre-Christmas games.

After watching South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Georgia fall, Mike at Mel’s blog is still bullish on the SEC: Best Conference Race Ever Looms Ahead

As 2013 closes, one thing is sure in women’s college basketball: The mighty Southeastern Conference will chew up some teams and reward others. So here’s our best guess preview.

We have said all along Kentucky is the best team here. One loss to a higher-ranked team does not discount that. In fact, it gives them something to work on.

But it is Tennessee who is the defending regular-season champ. That’s a
”Yeah, But” thing. Someone else wins, yeah, but it’s because Tennessee stumbled in this or that game.

Meanwhile, Doug writes: UConn women have looked nearly unbeatable

The women’s basketball season is almost two months old and one thing is clear, the UConn Huskies are by far the best team in the country.

While some already see a record ninth title for Connecticut as a foregone conclusion, the rest of the nation can take some solace that Brittney Griner and Baylor looked just as unbeatable last season. That’s until Louisville stunned the Lady Bears with one of the biggest upsets in NCAA tournament history.

Picking up on their earlier tweet exchange, Rebecca Lobo and Lin Dunn join David for a nice chat on “The UConn dilemma: Is dominance good for the game?”

From Logan Lowery at the Daily Journal: MSU women relishing their 12-1 start

Mississippi State is off to the second-best start in school history for women’s basketball.

After winning just 13 games during his initial season with the Bulldogs, Vic Schaefer has started his second year 12-1 before the Christmas break.

“We’re 12-1 at Christmas, that’s a great feeling and a great accomplishment for our group,” Schaefer said. “I’m excited for them.”

Learn a little about the 12-2 Missouri Tigers: Senior forward Kulas took circuitous route to MU

In a perfect world, Williams said it wouldn’t have taken Kulas three college stops to find the right destination. That said, Williams wouldn’t change her daughter’s journey if she could.

“She ended up where she needed to be. Finding a home at Mizzou has been a great, great thing for her,” Williams said. “Her journey has made her grow into a better person, a better ballplayer.

“The journey that she took, I’m not sure that’s how I would’ve wanted … but I feel like it did happen for a reason.”

Williams said her daughter’s year at Johnson County was “tremendous for her.” It proved to be a launch pad for Kulas’ basketball career.

How about that team in Indiana? Gerardot speaks to IU basketball success

 Today Tabitha Gerardot is, well, Brigitte, and not Indiana women’s basketball’s third-leading scorer. Tomorrow she could be Sophia or Carmela or Aisha.

It’s all about perspective, you see. It’s role playing with a linguistic purpose.

This matters to Gerardot, who is working on her masters in linguistics with visions of become an interpreter or a translator when the former Canterbury standout is done with helping the Hoosiers’ basketball resurrection.

Arizona is 3-7, so in honor of the holidays,  Zack Rosenblatt decided to put his own twist on “Festivus,” with a focus on the Wildcats and their season thus far.

Just replace the pole with a 10-foot basketball hoop (with “a great strength-to-weight ratio.”)

AIRING OF THE GRIEVANCES

What’s been disappointing, or overlooked, for the Wildcats this season.

Bad start: For the first time in Butts’ six years at the helm, Arizona won’t have a winning record through non-conference play. Before 2013, she’d won about 75 percent of non-conference games. Entering Sunday’s non-conference finale with Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the Wildcats are 3-7, which included a recent five-game skid.

Getting in to the holiday spirit, Mark Carmin offered Purdue women’s basketball 10 Stocking stuffers

Graham offers up “10 players who have risen to the occasion” and his mid-major musings: Gonzaga remains No. 1

‘Tis the season for end-of-year lists. And while the end of the basketball year technically comes not with a ball dropping in Times Square but confetti on a court in Nashville, starting a new calendar signals a shift of sorts in the start of conference play across much of the country. So to match the reflective spirit of the week, and before we get to the top 10, what would an all-mid-major team for the first half of the season look like?

Shereesha Richards, F, Albany: She put up 20 points and seven rebounds against Duke — in the first half. No wonder Blue Devils coach Joanne P. McCallie said the 6-foot-1 forward was better than her league (and as a former America East coach, McCallie ought to know). Richards is averaging 22.9 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game. She is fifth in the nation in field goal percentage but has taken nearly 50 more shots than those ahead of her.

Injury note: Maryland women’s basketball: Forward A’lexus Harrison to redshirt

Encouraging news: Hatchell eyeing return

Sylvia Hatchell is fighting to get back to her North Carolina women’s basketball program as quickly as possible.

The recently inducted Naismith Hall of Fame coach has been away from sideline duties since October while receiving treatment for leukemia. She spent a month in the hospital for the first round of chemotherapy with more ahead as she holds out hope of getting back by conference tournament time.

“You don’t realize, especially after all this time, how much something means to you until you don’t have it,” Hatchell said in an interview with the Associated Press.

“It was like a tsunami hit me and all of a sudden it’s taken away. But that’s my motivation, to get back out there.”

Equally encouraging news:  “Coach Holly Warlick said that freshman guard Jannah Tucker, who will be enrolling for the spring semester, is expected to join the team when it reconvenes after Christmas break.”

WATN? Ashley Battle: 2 local girls basketball coaches share Connecticut connection

While watching UConn and Duke on national television, Quaker Valley junior Karen Pugh felt a bond with the top team in women’s basketball.

“Our offense is very similar (to UConn),” she said, “as far as transition and passing and finding the open shot.”

How does a Western Pennsylvania high school team share traits with the most dominant women’s program in college basketball?

It’s no coincidence.

Speaking of the W, from India: Swin against the tide

The 6’1” tall frame of Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) legend Swin Cash stands out from the group of U-16 basketball enthusiasts assembled at the St. Dominic Savio School’s court. The three-time WNBA champion’s role on the occasion is to serve as mentor for the students from 164 schools around Mumbai during what was the Reliance Foundation 3X3 Junior NBA Championship in the city. Yet as she spoke and advised the aspiring athletes, both boys and girls, she maintains that she was a tad biased towards the girls.

“You talk about the NBA, and all you think of are male athletes. So it’s good for them to see people like me to serve as role models,” she says, laughing.

Al Lee at Swish Appeal asks, What are the Big Three Rookies doing during their first offseason as pros?

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No. 2 Duke hasn’t come close to No. 1 UConn, Register
No. 2 Duke Ready To Take Another Swing At No. 1 UConn, Courant
Capsule: No. 1 UConn Women Vs. No. 2 Duke, Courant
No. 1 UConn women’s game day: Tuesday at No. 2 Duke, Post
No. 1 UConn, expected to be at full strength, set for No. 2 Duke, Post
UConn women in No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdowns, Post

No. 2 Duke women set for No. 1 UConn challenge, News & Observer
No. 1 UConn, No. 2 Duke both look to stay unbeaten, Durham Herald Sun

Mechelle Voepel: Can Duke compete with UConn?, ESPN

There are some “big” games you anticipate with confidence … and others with trepidation. In women’s basketball, Connecticut vs. Duke — No. 1 vs. No. 2 Tuesday (ESPN2/WatchESPN, 7 p.m. ET) — is the latter.

For this one, we’re all a bunch of Fox Mulders saying, “I want to believe.” Yes, I’d bet even most UConn fans would like to see this be an exciting game between two 10-0 teams that sit atop the rankings.

Rebecca Lobo: X factors to keep an eye on – Fouls? Free throws? Offensive flow? These elements might impact showdown

The top two teams in the women’s game meet Tuesday night when top-ranked UConn heads to Durham, N.C., to play No. 2 Duke. The Huskies have beaten the Blue Devils six straight times with an average margin of victory of nearly 30 points. (Duke kept it close for a half last season, down only two points at the break, but UConn blew it open in the second half.)

Does Duke have the talent and experience to beat UConn? Yes, without a doubt. Will the Blue Devils finally be able to play a full 40 minutes in order to get the W? We’ll have to tune in to see (ESPN2/WatchESPN, 7 p.m. ET).

Here is what I’ll be keeping my eye on while watching the game.

Charlie Creme: The history behind 1-vs.-2 matchups – Blue Devils riding 24-game home winning streak into showdown

Just more than a month into the season, there is little to no debate over which are the two best women’s college basketball teams in the country. With possible apologies to those in Knoxville, South Bend and Lexington, Connecticut and Duke entered the season at Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, and neither team has done anything up this point to indicate any errors in that assessment.

The real question, as we embark on another 1-versus-2 matchup on Tuesday night (ESPN2/WatchESPN, 7 ET) in Durham, N.C., is whether the Blue Devils are right there with the Huskies as a true threat to the top spot … or merely closer to the rest of the pack that includes Tennessee, Notre Dame, Kentucky and a few others.

From espnW: Demanding Perfection – Top players for UConn describe what practice is like playing for coach Geno Auriemma.

From Doug: No. 2 Duke ready to meet No. 1 UConn

Today will mark the 52nd meeting between the top two teams in the poll, with the No. 1 team holding a 31-20 edge in the series. UConn has been in that game 17 times, including going 10-1 as the top-ranked team. Duke has played in this game six times, going 3-3. The two teams met once as the top two teams in the nation in 2003, with No. 2 UConn beating top-ranked Duke 77-65.

In other news:

As Rutgers women’s basketball continues to roll, No. 16 Georgia looms

Somewhat surprisingly, little has gone wrong thus far in the Rutgers women’s basketball team’s season.

After losing four of their top-six scorers from a year ago, the Scarlet Knights, who feature no seniors, have quietly blended youth into balanced offense. Four Knights — three underclassmen — are averaging double figures through 10 games. As a team, Rutgers is actually scoring 12 more points per contest (68.1) than last season (56.0).

Buckeyes try to shake out of slump

The Ohio State women’s basketball team gathered for a film session yesterday that served as a double feature without the box of popcorn.

The Buckeyes (7-6) had to watch the postmortem of their 64-49 loss at Cincinnati on Sunday and follow that with a look at Tennessee Martin (6-3), their opponent tonight at Value City Arena.

Coach Kevin McGuff entered the room knowing that his young, largely inexperienced team is at a crossroads.

From the .com: Sheryl Swoopes Embraces New Role as Head Coach at Loyola Chicago

It’s been two years, three months, and five days since Sheryl Swoopes last played a game of basketball, but I was still surprised when she said she didn’t miss playing.

“My passion for the game doesn’t come from playing anymore, my passion for the game now comes from watching and teaching, instructing and coaching and giving back,” Swoopes told WNBA.com over the phone from her new office in Chicago. She had just gotten off a post-practice conference call – one of her many new duties as the head coach of Loyola Chicago’s Women’s Basketball team.

Stinky news for Asjha Jones and the Sun: She’ll Miss WNBA Season

Meanwhile, the Lynx continue their Roster Review: Janel McCarville

 … coming into the season, though, McCarville hadn’t played in the WNBA since 2010. 

The center quickly answered any and all questions. As she got into shape during Training Camp, her knack for finding open teammates became obvious and it seemed like she was perfect for a team with offensive threats like Whalen, Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore. Throughout the season, her role became extremely important for the Lynx and she averaged a career-high 2.9 assists per game while helping the Lynx win the 2013 title in her first season with the squad. 

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McGraw is dealing with some bad injuries.

A different kind of injury: Two Georgia women’s basketball players suspended three games

From Arizona: New wrinkle to camp: etiquette class (wonder if the men’s team gets it, too)

From Oregon: What does Scott have? Youth.

Out of Nebraska: Is this a first? NU women now the target of the Big Ten

Out of Wisconsin: Don’t get mad, get even: Badgers women’s basketball: UW coach Bobbie Kelsey irked by Badgers’ snub

This has got to have been awkward: Burns returns to SDSU for Hall induction

From Florida: Yes you can play: FGCU’s Kaneisha Atwater granted eligibility by NCAA

From Oklahoma: Ellenberg leads experienced No. 11 Oklahoma

From Utah: Michelle Plouffe emerging from a long shadow — could surpass fellow Canadian Kim Smith as the best player in Utah history  but her team is dealing with injuries.

From Illinois: Women’s basketball looking to address concerns in exhibition game

From Indiana: Purdue Lineup not set in stone

From HoopFeed: Rebecca Lobo and Stephanie White discuss the upcoming NCAA women’s basketball season

Full Court has a couple of previews:

2013-14 ACC women’s basketball preview: Notre Dame will challenge Duke and Maryland for title

2013-14 PAC 12 women’s basketball preview: Cardinal picked to win conference; others threaten

Been waiting for this: Ex-women’s basketball coach Beckie Francis sues Oakland U.

Time for some good news: Doctors Offer Optimistic Update For Coach Hatchell

More good news: Sutton-Brown to Enter Rutgers Athletics Hall of Fame

WATN? Fredonia State names Hill-MacDonald as interim head coach

WATN? 2: Figgs Accepts Engineering Position At Toyota

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coach Hatchell and player/coach Staley: Naismith Hall of Famers.

Congrats to McGraw, Griner and Warlick: Award winners.

About that basketball game tonight:

Sally’s here! Louisville women’s basketball might have one more stone for its slingshot

Louisville women’s basketball Coach Jeff Walz babbles with a rapid-fire stutter and promises to blaze away from the three-point line. His star player, Shoni Schimmel, is a round cherry bomb of a kid, with her bright red uniform and explosive, shredding play. Do the Cardinals have no sense of gravity nor decorum at this women’s NCAA Final Four? Apparently not. “Why not go out with a bang?” Schimmel said.

Rachel Whittaker at the Times-Picayune: Three keys to victory in Tuesday’s women’s basketball national championship

Swish Appeal offers Louisville help Finding the ‘perfect’ gameplan to beat UConn in the 2013 National Championship

And a ton of other stuff (thanks Nan!)

UConn one step from eighth national title, Post
UConn women’s game day: Tuesday vs. Louisville, Post
UConn vs. Louisville: Who has the edge?, Post
ESPN analyst Lobo breaks down UConn-Louisville, Post
Auriemma, Huskies, See UConn’s Eighth Title Ready For The Taking, Courant
National Championship Game: Louisville Vs. UConn, Courant
Jeff Jacobs: Auriemma And Walz? Wiseguys, But Good Fellows, Courant
Huskies turn focus to Louisville after emotional win over Notre Dame, Register
UConn vs. Louisville gameday capsule, Register
Huskies want title for senior trio, Hour
NCAA Women’s Championship Game Preview Capsule, Hour

Dolson playing through pain in UConn’s quest for the title, Daily Campus
The different worlds of Walz and Auriemma, Daily Campus
Louisville’s Jeff Walz on how to beat UConn, Daily Campus
Louisville squads bond over dual title opportunity, Daily Campus

Hartley, UConn Head To The Finals, Deer Park-North Babylon Patch
Full Interview: Breanna Stewart’s high school coach talks about former player’s success at UConn, CNY Central
Greg Stokes’ daughter Kiah reaches NCAA title game for UConn, Des Moines Register
Better than the sum of the parts, NCAA.com

Overheard in New Orleans, ESPN

Who will hoist the NCAA trophy?, ESPN
Admiration, comedy between rival women’s title game coaches, New Orleans Times Picayune
2013 Women’s Final Four championship breakdown, Louisville vs. UConn, New Orleans Times Picayune
Expectations not fully met in Women’s Final Four semifinals, New Orleans Times Picayune

Once again, Louisville is the underdog, Full Court
Louisville women plan to pour cold water on UConn’s latest title run, Louisville Courier Journal
UConn’s Auriemma says Huskies didn’t sneak into tournament despite not winning Big East, Louisville Courier Journal

Got this one right — unfortunately, Providence Journal
John Adams: UConn one big victory shy of Lady Vols, Knoxville News Sentinel

About those teams already getting ready for next year: 

It’s official: Clemson hires UAB’s Audra Smith as its new women’s basketball coach 

Audra Smith knows how to succeed as a player in the Atlantic Coast Conference. She’s eager to do it again as Clemson’s new women’s basketball coach.

Smith, the former Virginia player who spent the past nine years as UAB’s head coach, was hired to take over the Tigers’ struggling program Monday and make an impact in the already tough and soon-to-be beefed up ACC.

It’s optimistic: Moore’s arrival at NC State offers link to successful women’s basketball era under Kay Yow

No one has to tell new coach Wes Moore how important it is for North Carolina State to have a successful women’s basketball program.

Moore spent two years here in the 1990s as an assistant to late Hall of Famer Kay Yow, giving him roots in a tradition-rich program that has fallen off in recent years. It’s his job to build the Wolfpack back up again to a team that routinely finishes in the top half of the Atlantic Coast Conference and makes the NCAA tournament.

It’s prophetic?: Cal on map, recognition should follow

It’s historical (and starts out with a huge error, but….) Remembering All American Red Heads, traveling women’s basketball team

 

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clash.

Big Monday (7pm ESPN2) brings us Tennessee v. Notre Dame. I’m guessing that many would agree that both teams are doing much better than folks expect. The Irish have adapted to losses from graduation, and the Vols have adapted to a coaching change and a rash of injuries. Here’s hoping it’s a nailbiter.

There’s a little somethin’-somethin’ from Graham, highlight the Diggins and others from this past weekend.

Big numbers are part of the equation with Skylar Diggins. So, too, is a big personality. But in the end, stars are measured by big games as much as anything else. On that count, it’s safe to say Tennessee or Connecticut still qualify.

Currently fourth among Notre Dame’s all-time leading scorers after surpassing 2,000 career points with a big first half against Providence on Saturday, Diggins has scored 12.3 percent of those points against two particular teams, out of more than 60 she has faced in three-plus seasons with the Fighting Irish.

Which two weaklings has she picked on for such a significant portion of her total?

Tennessee and Connecticut.

And that is how you shape a legacy.

We’ve got this from the SBT’s Curt Rallo: Irish hit road for another big matchup

This from Vicky Jacobson at The Observer: ND Women’s Basketball: Sky-high scorer – Diggins scores 2,000th career point as Notre Dame cruises; road test against Tennessee awaits

Dan Fleser at GoVolsXtra chips in: Three new starters for Notre Dame, but Skylar Diggins is the steadying force and Lady Vols stress playing with passion to avoid another top-5 defeat

A detailed scouting report informs Tennessee’s actions Monday night against Notre Dame.

A simple directive, meanwhile, serves as kindling.

One isn’t more important than the other to Lady Vols head coach

Holly Warlick, who has made playing with heart and passion a common theme this season. She might pile on the combustibles for a visit from the second-ranked Fighting Irish (18-1) for a women’s basketball showdown at Thompson-Boling Arena (TV: ESPN2, 7 p.m.).

Oh, and Fans advised to arrive early for Pat Summitt banner ceremony

At Swish Appeal, Chris Pendley offers up: Top 3, Take 3: Notre Dame vs. Tennessee Lady Vols, 7 PM EST

Notre Dame (#2 AP / #3 coaches) is 2-20 against the Tennessee Lady Vols (#9 / #9) in the history of both programs. The problem? Those pesky 2 are the last two games the two teams have played; a 79-53 loss in 2011 in the Elite Eight and a 72-44 loss in South Bend in 2012 (most notable for Notre Dame making the noble decision to keep their bench fresh for later games in the season and no I’m not still bitter about this why do you ask?). Of the regulars, only Meighan Simmons, Taber Spani, and Kamiko Williams remember the 2011 game, and Ariel Massengale and Isabelle Harrison remember the beatdown in South Bend (and it was a beatdown). If there’s bad blood, there isn’t much of it between most of the current crop of Lady Vol players and the Irish, but you can be pretty sure that the coaching staff remembers.

Rebecca Lobo is in Knoxville for the game, and had the time to post this photo of the dining options at her hotel. Doh!

And, per her tweet,  I wholeheartedly agree with this driver: 65-yr-old Knoxville cabbie : “I bet Kara Lawson could whoop two-thirds of the men around.”

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before the second half of last night’s game, you might have heard this.

That was the sound of Indy girl Kelly Faris revving up to take over the game.

Consider what Rebecca Lobo wrote in her preview piece, Duke ready for big stage:

Chelsea Gray

I haven’t seen a better passer in the open floor than Duke’s Chelsea Gray. The junior point guard has superb vision and strength to make passes that others cannot. She already has more than 100 assists on the season, and many have come from no-look and highlight-reel passes. She has tallied two triple-doubles already this season and a 15-assist game (versus Clemson). If you haven’t seen her play, it’s worth tuning in to this game just to check out Gray.

Now consider what Graham wrote after witnessing Ms. Gray’s encounter with Ms. Faris: Faris delivers ‘one for the ages’: Huskies win with decisive second half, hand Duke its first loss of season

Faris finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals. Duke point guard Chelsea Gray — who spent a good portion of the night the subject of closer attention from Faris than President Obama received from his Secret Service detail during the day’s inauguration events in Washington, D.C. — finished with two points on six shots, four turnovers and a look of incalculable frustration.

Indeed, the numbers didn’t tell the whole story. They never do with Faris.

The interesting game we saw unfold in the first half turned into a Faris clinic on defense, offense and intensity. The end result? A two-point game turned into a 30-point blowout.

Mel was there to witness (ONE “s” Mel, ONE “s”): Faris solidifies star status as No. 3 Huskies rout No. 4 Blue Devils

“There have been a lot of great players and legends play in this building wearing the Connecticut uniform,” continued Auriemma, whose seven NCAA titles is just one short of Tennessee coach emeritus Pat Summitt’s collection. “But I don’t know if anyone has ever represented themselves, their family, and the University of Connecticut the way Kelly did tonight.

“I know there’s a lot of players out there that are really good … there’s a lot of All-Americans but man oh man, that was one for the ages right there.”

From Clay, we get: Duke takes another dive against UConn

In an epic second-half collapse, previously unbeaten No. 4 Duke unraveled like a cheap shirt, leaving nothing behind but shattered egos and yet another hammering at the hands of the unforgiving Huskies.

Of course, UConn is No. 3 for a reason – well, actually many reasons, but one of them is depth. In this game, for example, the Husky bench outscored the Duke bench 23-9; and two of the Blue Devil starters combined for four points.

Rob chimes in from DWHoops with a Nutshell and Analysis.

Areas For Improvement: Above all else, communication. A season’s worth of being slow to close on shooters, blocking out smaller teams and relying on talent instead of teamwork came back to haunt Duke in this game. They were thoroughly outplayed and outcoached, as UConn made a number of adjustments going into the second half while Duke basically kept doing the same thing. Coach McCallie was never able to find a way to stop the bleeding during the run and get her team’s attention.

In Michigan, the Wolverines were game, but the Lions were gamer. Penn State wins, 59-49.

“It was a quality team and they just wore us out,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico. “I guess that’s why they’re probably No. 8 and we’re probably No. 23 at this point because they had four more minutes than we did.”

Nice to see I didn’t manage to jinx Texas Southern — they easily handled Mississippi Valley State 58-47.

Stetson (school-record 11th consecutive victory) and FGCU were equally immune to the WHB jinx. (You can watch the Hatters/Eagles showdown at 7:05 Saturday, televised by Comcast Sports Southeast)  Ditto with Quinnipiac, which stifled St. Francis (PA) in the first half and then secured a 85-69 victory.

Obviously, by not mentioning them, I assured the Wichita State a 70-51 victory over Drake. The Shockers are now 5-0 in the MVC.

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Welcome to the SEC, Missouri. #10 Georgia wins, 77-46.

Welcome to the SEC, TAMU. The Aggies pummeled Alabama, 91-52.

The Hilltoppers continue winning, as their 78-69 win over AR-Little Rock puts them at 5-0 in the Sun Belt.

Michigan State’s win over Minnesota puts them at 13-1. We’ll learn more about them when they meet their next opponent, #9 Penn State. The Lions defeated Northwestern, 73-69.

Kim has her Michigan team at 12-2. Iowa next.

Iowa takes down Ohio State, 77-71.

Presbyterian moved to 3-0 in the Big South with their (first time ever) win over Liberty, 51-49.

Not a good day to be a team from Mississippi: LSU took down Ole Miss, Vandy stomped all over Mississippi State.

Creighton opened conference play with a 81-60 win over Southern Illinois.

A strong second half pushed #3 Duke to a win over NC State, 67-57.

Zone in the second half pushed #12 Tennessee to a comfortable win over #18 South Carolina, 73-53.

Georgia Tech gave them a run for their money, but #19 Florida State emerged victorious, 85-78.

Florida tried, but #6 Kentucky prevailed, 76-69.

Auburn (they’re making some noise) takes down #23 Arkansas, 50-47.

#15 North Carolina held on for the win against #8 Maryland, 60-57.

With a hat tip to Doug Feinberg: the AP’s Pat Graham writes: Off to 11-0 start, CU steadily gaining recognition

Off to an 11-0 start, the Buffaloes are definitely a cheerful and chipper bunch these days. Only, it’s now time to turn serious as No. 20 Colorado hosts fourth-ranked Stanford on Friday night in the Pac-12 Conference opener.

Or is it?

The reason for the Buffaloes’ success on the court may be as simple as this: They just don’t take themselves too seriously.

Others are, of course. Or at least beginning to, anyway.

The writers are getting ready for the Notre Dame/UConn game on Saturday, 4pm EST on CBS:

Debbie and Beth are back with their podcast: They preview the SEC, ACC and Pac 12 as well as the UConn-Notre Dame game. Plus, they’re joined by Oklahoma State coach Jim Littell.

NCAA.com: Connecticut and Notre Dame meet again

Michelle: Breanna Stewart exceeding the hype

Compliments from Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma come neither easily nor frequently.

So when he said recently that freshman forward Breanna Stewart “has the opportunity to be a good as anyone we’ve ever brought here,” it was high praise indeed.

When you are the top recruit in the country and choose to join Auriemma’s program in Storrs, hype inevitably follows.

Rebecca Lobo: One of top rivalries resumes Saturday – Top-ranked and unbeaten UConn hosts No. 5 Notre Dame at Gampel Pavilion

Connecticut versus Notre Dame has become one of my favorite rivalry games in women’s college basketball over the past few years. The contests have been close and there is always something at stake. And when you add the players’ and coaches’ distaste for one another, the game becomes even juicier. Here are some of the matchups within the game that will be worth watching:

Graham: Freshman Loyd ahead of schedule

When Jewell Loyd was in junior high, she worked out with her older brother on the basketball court. He wasn’t trying to get her ready for the eighth grade team, he told her. He was preparing her for varsity.

The instruction continued when she made it to Niles West High School in the Chicago area, by which time Jarryd Loyd had already played four seaons for Valparaiso University and embarked on a career in professional basketball that eventually took him to Poland, New Zealand and more than a few map points between them.

Now the older brother was readying her for college.

Notre Dame: #5 Irish Open BIG EAST Play At #1 Connecticut Saturday

Notre Dame: Healthy Mabrey adds to Irish options

Michaela Mabrey climbed up the steps to the stage of the basketball auditorium at Notre Dame’s Purcell Pavilion, and eased herself into a chair, a bag of ice wrapped around her right ankle.

“I’m completely healthy,” Mabrey insisted. “The ankle is just a little sore after games.”

UConn: Kiah Stokes getting closer to returning

UConn: Auriemma, Hartley Discuss Benching At Oregon

UConn: Geno Auriemma(isms) From Friday’s Press Briefing

UConn: Notre Dame Has Had UConn’s Number In Recent Big Games

From the West Coast, Jayda has: Huskies’ Kristi Kingma glad to be back on court for Washington

In WNBA news, Mechelle writes about Donovan’s return to WNBA with Sun

Coach Anne Donovan is headed back to the WNBA, taking over at Connecticut in an Eastern Conference that will have both a new and old look to it in 2013. It’s intriguing — especially because right up until the WNBA Finals started this past October, the Western Conference really seemed to have the East trumped.

At that point, no currently existing East team had won a WNBA title. The championship teams from each of the three previous seasons — Phoenix in 2009, Seattle in 2010 and Minnesota in 2011 — were from the West. The 2013 No. 1 draft pick was headed to the West, as Phoenix won the Brittney Griner sweepstakes in the lottery held after the regular season.

The East was pretty clearly the league’s second banana. But then …

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but some will not be there to play.

Earlier, it was Baylor freshman Destiny Brown being dismissed for an unspecified violation of team rules.

Now it’s Nebraska’s turn: Sophomore guard Rebecca Woodberry has been removed from the team for a violation of team rules.

And from Graham (welcome back to women’s basketball!) this disconcerting news: Delle Donne deals with Lyme flare-up – Delaware senior nowhere near 100 percent in recurrence of disease

With the start of the regular season just a week away, Delle Donne told espnW she is experiencing a recurrence of symptoms of Lyme disease, the same illness that forced her out of the lineup for 12 games during the 2010-11 season.

Although she experienced sporadic symptoms last season and remained on medication for the disease, she was for the most part healthy as a junior. The results were otherworldly, one of the greatest statistical seasons on record. She averaged 28.1 points and 10.3 rebounds per game while shooting 52 percent from the field, 41 percent from the 3-point line and 89 percent from the free throw line, turning over the ball fewer than two times per game.

But when full practices began several weeks ago, Delle Donne felt the return of familiar symptoms, which can include extreme fatigue, migraine-like headaches and anything from mild to debilitating pain in muscles and joints (hold your arms out in front of you for a few seconds; now imagine not having the strength to keep them there).

La di dah: Georgia women’s basketball team unconcerned with high preseason ranking

James has the rest of his list: The Top 100 Programs in Division I women’s college basketball: #11-25 and the Top 100 Programs in Division One women’s college basketball:  #1-10. He also offers up: How do basketball recruits make their decisions?

In WNBA news, congrats to Former UConn, WNBA basketball player Rebecca Lobo who is to receive Westfield Athenaeum distinguished speaker honor

From Israel, Lior catches January Fever

To be completely honest, there aren’t a lot of reasons to get excited over the new division I women’s basketball season in Israel. If we ignore last year’s exciting playoffs, the regular season itself had many tough to watch games. But as I sat in my living room in the middle of the night and watched the Indiana Fever win their first WNBA title in the sold out Bankers Life Fieldhouse, I got goosebumps. The fact that their starting PG, Briann January, will play here in Israel this season is definitely a reason to get off the couch and go see her live in action.

Where’s Armintie Price? At the Fifth Annual Special Needs Fall Festival held in Hampton.

From Dime Magazine: One Of The WNBA’s Shortest Players (Ivory) Is Making A Huge Difference Off The Court

Yes, Nate, “During the WNBA’s long off-season, it’s never too late for WNBA Finals analysis”: Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith on the WNBA Finals: ‘The Lynx shouldn’t have lost.’

He also ponders What might limit a WNBA Draft prospect’s success?

Perhaps the easiest way to demonstrate the value of statistics and more specifically the value of looking at the right statistics is to look back at the track record of success of volume shooters in both the NBA and WNBA draft.

And really we’re not talking about the mysterious advanced statistical sorcery of magic wizards, but simple things like the percentage of attempted shots a player makes.

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Canada. Their defense was ridiculous.

The defense was stifling, even suffocating at times.

The United States women put on a clinic Tuesday, forcing the Canadians to take bad shots or not allowing them to shoot at all. The Americans, who cruised into the semifinals of the Olympic basketball tournament with a 91-48 rout, harassed Canada into three shotclock violations in the first seven minutes.

‘‘It’s one thing to miss a shot, but to not be able to get a shot off says a lot about your defense,’’ US coach Geno Auriemma said.

From USA Basketball, a couple of great post-game quotes from Geno:

On the relationship between the United States and Canada after last night’s soccer game and today’s basketball game:

Well, I’m sure the Brits, having two of their former colonies playing against each other, were hoping the roof would fall in and we’d all lose.

On knowing your team only becomes a huge story if you lose being a sign of respect to the level of dominance the women’s team has achieved:

We played a game for the ages against China, in terms of how well we played and executed, and somebody left a USA Today international lying around, and I picked it up to read about the Olympics, and there wasn’t one line or one sentence written about that game the next day. Not one. But, the top 10 preseason college football poll was in there, so that was really good, because I’m a college football fan. That goes back to what I said earlier. I think we have the mindset that we really don’t care. We’re way past that. There are no feminists on my team. We’re not running around burning our bras trying to make people believe in our team. I would burn mine, because it doesn’t fit like it used to. We just play basketball. And whether anybody cares or writes anything about it, there’s nothing we can do about it. We’re not in the PR business. We’re in the basketball business. That’s what we do. And, we’re pretty damn good at it.

Writes Jackie MacMullan: U.S. women are real Dream Team

But Auriemma said his group has steered clear of setting any side agendas aside from the obvious gold medal.

“If we win that, all the other stuff takes care of itself,” explained point guard Sue Bird.

That doesn’t mean others haven’t tried to come up with a catchy slogan for the U.S. women.

“Someone put shirts in our rooms that said ‘Road to Respect,’ ” Auriemma said. “I thought that was kind of dumb. Sue Bird has won two gold medals, two WNBA championships, a million championships in Europe, world championships for the U.S., and a couple of national championships with Connecticut.

“If they don’t respect her by now, then screw them.”

From Voice of America: US Olympic Women’s Basketball Team Dominating in London (and prepping for Australia)

From somewhere not in London, Mechelle writes: Aussies face tough semifinal task

Short of somehow being able to protect Penny Taylor from an ACL injury earlier this year, Australian star Lauren Jackson has done everything she can to try to win Olympic basketball gold.

Rebecca Lobo’s hubby, Steve Rushin, writes for SI:Finding a long forgotten gold medal and getting chills all over again

But the kids’ Olympic spirit was most evident when they were racing down the upstairs hallway, or racing scooters down the driveway, or fighting to be first in the car — their usual taunts of, “I won, you lost” replaced by Olympian taunts of, “I won gold, you won silver.”

“Where’s your gold medal?” our 5-year-old daughter asked her mother after one of these races.

“In a bank,” she replied. And then, after a pause: “At least I think it is.”

The kids had never seen her gold medal, I’d never seen her gold medal, and my wife, Rebecca Lobo, hadn’t seen her own gold medal in 16 years, since a few days after she’d won it in Atlanta. Now, she wondered if it really was still in that safe deposit box, for which she hadn’t seen a bill in ages. What if the bank lost her forwarding address, and auctioned off the box, perhaps to one of the guys on Storage Wars? (I pictured Barry Weiss holding it in those skeleton-gloved hands of his.)

Also at SI, Kelli Anderson writes: U.S. must take down Aussies before playing for fifth straight gold medal

The NY Times finds some space for the women’s team: U.S. Coach Keeps Talking, and His Team Keeps Winning
The United States women’s basketball team battered another overmatched opponent Tuesday. Afterward, Geno Auriemma talked the way only Geno Auriemma can.
He described his coaching style in these Olympics as “more British,” and by that he meant calmer, more understated. He called the T-shirt someone left in his room recently, the one with the “Road to Respect” slogan, “kind of dumb.”
Doug previews tomorrow’s Aussie/US game: US-Australia women hoop teams square off in semis

Even though they have had their way with Australia, the Americans are wary of what’s at stake.

“I think the semifinal game for whatever reason is sometimes harder,” U.S. point guard Sue Bird said. “They’ve been even more competitive than some of our gold medal games. This point the four teams left are very good teams. It’s no surprise that these four teams are in this situation. Everyone’s trying to get the chance to win a gold medal.”

Make sure you get out of work on time or take a late, long lunch: game’s at 5:12EST – NOTE: Or does ET mean English Time? Looks like it: ESPN has the game listed as NOON EST. I know when I’m takin’ lunch!

At Full Court, Clay has his preview: Can Australia finally beat Team USA? It could happen and adds, for the 9pmEST game, No tanking this time — Russia and France are playing for a shot at gold.

From Lee: Russia squeaked out a win over Turkey

“It was our goal not to match up with the USA in the quarterfinal or semifinal. We have done our best in the group stages to make sure we didn’t match up with them early. It makes it easier but it’s going to be a battle regardless of who we face. I don’t know which one [the United States or its semifinal opponent Australia] I would choose,” said Russia’s Anna Petrakova.

And, it’s official: Lauren Jackson becomes all-time women’s Olympic high scorer as Australia wears down China to advance

So often the focus is on the stars, but even though Liz Cambage (Tulsa Shock) scored a game-high 17 points for Australia, the reason the Opals beat China, 75-60, in the quarterfinals of the London 2012 Olympic competition in women’s basketball today wasn’t the 6-8 20-year-old sensation, nor even the all-around play or record-breaking scoring of superstar Lauren Jackson (Seattle Storm). The real reason for the win was the depth of Australian roster.

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From Mechelle: Testing Team USA’s solid foundation – Player injuries, lawsuit against Auriemma could test Games’ overwhelming favorite

There will be a lot of immediate speculation by people about which side they believe. These situations can be precarious for journalists, frankly. There are times when we can prudently state opinions. But there are other times when we need to let the system take its course as we try to sort out what happened.

I can say in nearly two decades of working as a journalist with Auriemma, he has never been anything but professional. In fairness, I do not interact with him in any other capacity. No one has ever told me, on or off the record, about him mistreating them in any way.

By the same token, I have not ever spoken with Hardwick. Her allegations are very real, serious issues that women in the workforce still face in our society. Whether her case in particular actually has merit, though, must be adjudicated.

Rich Elliot of the Connecticut Post: Ex-players Culmo, Lobo rise to Geno’s defense

“Coaching and beyond, I’ve shared many cocktails with the guy and sitting around in bars all over the country just chatting,” Culmo said. “And it’s always just social, hanging out, talking to people, telling stories. And that’s what it is. I’ve never seen anything inappropriate.’

***

“Obviously, I don’t have any idea what did or didn’t happen,” said former UConn All-American Rebecca Lobo, who has known Auriemma for more than 20 years. “But I’ve only ever known him to be someone of utmost character. And I think the world of him. He’s always been of the highest character in every dealing that I’ve ever had with him or any dealing I’ve ever witnessed him having with somebody else.”

From John Altavilla at the Hartford Courant: Hardwick Dependable and Professional, But So Is Geno

Here’s the actual complaint (in pdf form): The Kelley Hardwick Suit Vs. Geno Auriemma, NBA, USA Basketball

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wouldn’t you say?

Here’s what Debbie Antonelli, Kara Lawson, Rebecca Lobo and Stephanie White, Beth Mowins and Brenda VanLengen have to say about a season “that featured non-traditional teams and players emerging, new teams jumping into the top 25 and exciting games being played across the board.” (WHB note: Except for most every Big Monday game…)

Memorable moment from a particular venue or fan base of a game you covered?

LOBO: My moment happened after the UConn at Baylor game ended when fans were allowed to come onto the court. A bunch of elementary and middle-school-aged kids began playing basketball and the Baylor men’s team joined them for an impromptu pickup game. I’ve never seen anything like it, and it was awesome.

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on the hot seat for Five Questions. Fun stuff.

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Beth and Debbie at Shootaround.

Doug Bruno next week previewing the Maggie Dixon Classic.

Want to contact them? ESPNShootaround @ gmail.com. They’re asking for your input: Who are the best players ever out of New York City?

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From Rebecca: Lobo grateful for time with her mother

The next year, the beginning of my junior season, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had massive lymph node involvement. She chose a very aggressive course of treatment, a clinical trial that made her quite ill. She scheduled her treatments around my games. She didn’t miss one. When she first told me of her diagnosis, she said, “You take care of basketball and school. I will take care of this. This is my fight. Not yours.”

(Then, she added, “It’ll be OK. Your dad’s not a breast man anyway.” Which, of course, was much more than I needed to know.)

 

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The crew covering the Finals is announced:

“The ESPN family of networks has locked in plans to cover the WNBA Finals, which will feature the Atlanta Dream and Minnesota Lynx in a best-of-five series. Games begin on Sunday, Oct. 2, at 8:30p on ESPN and ESPN3 before shifting to ESPN2 and ESPN3 for the remainder of the series. Pam Ward will call Game 1 with analyst Rebecca Lobo and reporter Heather Cox. Terry Gannon will take over the remainder of the play-by-play duties in the five-game series with Lobo and Cox. Programming will feature coaches and officials wearing live microphones, an EStrator telestrator system and a new open for the WNBA Finals on ESPN/ESPN2 that will feature moments from the first 15 years of the WNBA Finals.”

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Playoff Berths Loom Just Ahead

By early next week, teams in the WNBA Eastern Conference standings will have begun acquiring little footnotes next to their names signifying their clinching playoff participation status, though it will take a little longer to determine what the exact seed positions will be.

Over in the Western Conference the Minnesota Lynx can actually clinch their first playoff berth since 2004 Thursday night if the frontrunners have recovered from Tuesday’s pounding by the Connecticut Sun and win at Washington against the Mystics and if the Eastern leading Indiana Fever win in Los Angeles against the Sparks.

Richard says: You can go home again, but you might not enjoy it

Told you I’d be back with the final game from Tuesday night. Hope no one was holding on with bated breath, because it really wasn’t worth it. With Minnesota heading out to Connecticut, all the talk was about just one person – Maya Moore. Returning to the area where she had so much success in college, the first appearance of the WNBA’s presumptive Rookie of the Year back in Connecticut had helped the Sun sell out the Mohegan Sun Arena for this game. Moore’s team has had a couple of tight contests recently, and even dropped a game in Phoenix, but they’d still won 11 of their last 12 games. Hilariously, they’ve already won more games this year than the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves managed in the entire 2010-11 NBA season. The T-Wolves played 82 games; the Lynx only needed 23 to surpass their win total. However, the Sun won’t have been cowering at the prospect of facing the WNBA’s hottest team. 9-3 themselves in their last 12 games, Connecticut are still chasing after Indiana for the top spot in the East and have only lost twice at home all season. They won’t have wanted to make Moore’s homecoming a pleasant one.

Staying with a Connecticut theme, at SlamOnline we have a Guest Post: Connecticut Sun’s Renee Montgomery – Time for a change.

In this 15th season alone, there have been multiple buzzer beaters, shots that made people jump out of their seats, and controversial plays involving players going head to head. I mentioned those things because NONE of those plays made the Top 10 Highlights.

And, since we’re on a roll, 0ver as Swish Appeal Queenie has her Ring of Honor Retrospective: Rebecca Lobo

Though I wear her name and number, I was never a fan of Rebecca Lobo the basketball player. To be sure, she was one of my Libs, and I cheered for her- but the same way I cheered for so many other Liberty players. She wore our name on the front, carried the torch over her heart, and therefore she was to be cheered for.

But I’ve long been a fan of Rebecca Lobo the blogger, Rebecca Lobo the analyst, Rebecca Lobo the commentator… ultimately, Rebecca Lobo, the quick-witted brunette with the October birthday whose name was abbreviated to B or Bec or Becca and never Becky.

I’ll semi-stick with the theme by bringing in the Big East. At Full Court Press, Mark Bradford writes: Diggins Earns Props On and Off the Court

She’s easily recognized on the court, dishing and driving, whether attired in red, white and blue as she leads Team USA toward the medal stand at the World University Games or in Irish Green as she guided Notre Dame to the national championship game last season. But off the court and out of context, you just might miss her.

Still, if you look closely some night at a local high school dance in Indiana, you just might recognize the face of the DJ spinning the rock-and-roll hits.

SkyDigg is “in Da House.”

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and UConn alum (except there’s no link to the auction). I can’t imagine Rebecca’s emotions tomorrow night…

Bid, Win & Support The Pink!

As part of WNBA Breast Health Awareness Week, the Liberty will host Breast Health Awareness Night presented by Delta Air Lines, on Tuesday, August 9 at the Prudential Center. The Liberty take on 2010 WNBA champion Seattle Storm at 8:00 p.m. on ESPN 2.

For tickets Click Here and use promo code BHA2011.

Bid on the Concourse
A Silent Auction will take place on the concourse beginning when doors open and concluding at the end of halftime. Stop by the auction tables to place your bid on all Liberty players’ autographed game worn pink jerseys and autographed shoes from other WNBA stars from UCONN, in support of Rebecca Lobo, including Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Maya Moore and Diana Taurasi!

Online Auction Open Now!
Also, visit our online auction at which will be open through Tuesday August 16th.

Bid Live During the Game!
Pick up your pink paddles for a first-ever LIVE auction which will take place during halftime in Section 21. Bid on the following big-ticket items:

Delta Fly Away Weekend to Chicago
Want to see your NY Liberty take on the Chicago Sky…in Chicago? Bid now for your chance to win this trip for two (2) on Sunday, August 28th. The package includes Delta shuttle airfare for two (2), 2-nights at Hotel Indigo, and two (2) tickets to the Chicago Sky game! VIP to team practice and much more.
Starting bid: $800

Player Package
Bid now for this prize package which includes an autographed jersey & shoes worn by the Liberty player of your choice and enjoy a private lunch with her!
Starting bid: $500

Coach the Liberty!
Bid now for your chance to follow Coach Whisenant for the day as an honorary coach! Sit in on chalk-talk, watch shootaround, and sit courtside during the game with all the players, coaches and trainers!
Starting bid: $500



Liberty to Honor Rebecca Lobo Tomorrow!

Rebecco Lobo Induction Join us as Liberty Legend Rebecca Lobo becomes the fourth inductee to the Ring of Honor on tomorrow. Lobo will receive her ring during a special halftime presentation when the Liberty take on the Storm at the Prudential Center at 8 pm. A portion of the proceeds raised for Tuesday’s game, Breast Health Awareness Night, will be donated to the RuthAnn & Rebecca Lobo Scholarship for Allied Health at UConn, in memory of Rebecca’s mom who recently lost her battle with breast cancer.

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Get ready to Rock the Pink! The Liberty’s annual Breast Health Awareness Night presented by Delta, will take place Tuesday, August 9th, 8pm at the Prudential Center. We have a jam packed evening of exciting events planned to honor survivors, raise awareness, as well as funds to find a cure. The very worthy causes that we’ve selected this year are the Breast Cancer Research Fund and the RuthAnn and Rebecca Lobo Scholarship for Allied Health at UConn. As you might have heard, Rebecca’s mother, RuthAnn, recently lost her battle with breast cancer, and we will celebrate her memory by raising funds for the scholarship that they started in 1993 when Rebecca was still at UConn.

Giveaways
Don’t be late! The first 3,500 fans to arrive at the game will receive a pink Liberty visor, courtesy of Delta Airlines. In addition, the first 1,000 season ticket holders to visit Subscriber Central (located on the concourse) will receive a pink Deuce Brand watch featuring a Liberty logo. A photo ID is required to pick up your watch and distribution will be one watch per seat.

Giving Back
A Silent Auction will take place on the concourse beginning when doors open and concluding at the end of halftime. Stop by the auction tables to place your bid on exclusive player autographed and game-worn items such as: Cappie’s sneakers, pink and white basketballs and Breast Health Awareness Fan packs! The auction tables will also have large pink paddles for a first-ever LIVE auction at halftime. You will have a chance to bid on a trip with the team to the Sunday, August 28th game in Chicago, among other incredible prizes.

Also, visit our online auction at Auctions.wnba.com beginning on August 5th.

In addition, our merchandise kiosks have made Breast Health Awareness t-shirts available for sale. $5 of each t-shirt purchased will benefit the Breast Cancer Research Fund, as well as the Ruth Ann & Rebecca Lobo Scholarship Alliance.

Survivor Recognition
If you or someone close to you is a breast cancer survivor who will be at the game on Tuesday, August 9th, please submit your name and seat location (Section, Row, and Seat #) no later than Sunday, August 7th to Nyliberty@msg.com. Be a part of a special recognition on Nyliberty.com and on LibertyVision when the Liberty take on the Seattle Storm, August 9th at 8pm.

For tickets, Click Here. A portion of the proceeds from each ticket will also be donated to the Breast Cancer Research Fund and the Ruth Ann & Rebecca Lobo Scholarship for Allied Health at UConn.

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from Mike DiMauro at The Day: UConn loses its first mom

RuthAnn, stricken with the disease nearly 20 years ago, took her fight public. She engendered immeasurable publicity for breast cancer awareness.

But what she did most was humanize a program that would develop the most maternal and paternal fans in sports. She was its first mom. It was her daughter that became everyone else’s. This would become a program staple. Soon, the fans felt the same about Sue and Shea and Svet . and on the band played.

You always felt like you knew RuthAnn. Even if you didn’t. She was the familiar face in the crowd, the mom of this extraordinary player. And when you met her, you learned she was as sweet and comforting as you hoped.

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Damn, damn, damn.

RuthAnn Lobo, 67, Loses Battle With Cancer

Cursed by an unexpected fate yet blessed with the platform it provided her, RuthAnn Lobo lived the last 17 years of her life determined to make her journey a symbol of discovery and inspiration to others.

“My first experience being with cancer survivors was six weeks after my last chemotherapy treatment in 1994, at the Race for the Cure in New Britain,” Lobo said in 2008. “One of the volunteers asked me if I wanted to wear a survivor’s hat and I wondered if I qualified. But when 600 women in little pink hats come forward, you feel a burden lightened because you see you are not alone.”

If you are so moved, please consider honoring Ruth Ann by making a contribution to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.

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WNBA Unveils 30 Official Nominees for Voting of Top 15 Players of All Time

You know, they should come up with something other than “of All Time.” How about the “Top 15 of 15 Years?” Or the “Best 15 of the Last 15?” (Especially since they did a Top 10 and some players have been added/dropped?)

Speaking of 15, Ben has: 15 Years and Counting – June 21 is a huge milestone (And yes, I still have the newspaper photo of Lisa and Rebecca boxing each other out up on my file cabinet)

Like it or not, the WNBA is still here after 15 years.

Some people hate that. Some love it. Some couldn’t care less. In the end, ultimately, none of it really matters.

The only thing that does, however, is that the league is still around. That, in and of itself, is a big enough testament to the rest of the world.

Over at espnW, Val reflects on Fifteen years of the WNBA

Fifteen seasons ago tonight, the WNBA opened its doors to paying customers for the first time, as the Los Angeles Sparks hosted the New York Liberty at the Great Western Forum in the league’s inaugural game. I was there, tossing up the ball for the ceremonial opening tip between Lisa Leslie and Kym Hampton. (To avoid embarrassment, I practiced many times before the cameras rolled).

A lot of that day was a blur, but clear images remain fixed in my mind: convincing the Sparks’ owner that I (and not his girlfriend) was the right person to handle the opening jump ball honors; scrambling to locate a recording of the national anthem after the scheduled performer got stuck in traffic and failed to arrive on time; Penny Toler of the Sparks scoring the first basket in WNBA history; Lisa Leslie missing a dunk; nervous players showing the effects of their much-hyped moment in the spotlight; and an arena filled with ecstatic fans, many of them women and girls, who bought up every last commemorative item we’d stocked at the Forum concession stands.

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All who remember Rebecca Lobo’s always entertaining “The World According to Me” say, “ME!”

If you don’t, check out 1997-2002 and a 2002 and  2003 entry.

Need a sample? How about this classic from May 22, 1999.

Before practice could start, we had to have our physicals to make sure everyone was healthy. As far as I know we all passed. Sue (Wicks), Kym (Hampton), Coquese (Washington) and I arrived at the hospital together and jumped on the elevator to go to the doctor’s office. A man who was smaller in stature joined us. He made the ingenious observation that we all must be basketball players. He then added that Co must have to sneak through the other players’ legs on the court. Sue set the man straight – she told him, “We are here for our growth hormone treatment.” Pointing at Coquese, Sue explained , “She is here for her first one.”

Oh, and Rebecca hasn’t lost her touch — she just tweets. Check her latest comments on her “Most Unexcellent flight to LA.” She starts funny (There is a 4-yr-old girl on my midnight flight… wearing heels.) and then not so much (Delta flight 1323 from ATL to LAX. Left engine caught fire on takeoff ( think bird flew into engine). Returned to ATL.)

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Vin writes: WNBA Reaches A Milestone With Its 15th Anniversary

Lisa Leslie remembers her surprise at the big arenas and luxurious locker rooms. Rebecca Lobo, Penny Toler and Teresa Weatherspoon recall the excitement of finally getting to play before family and friends. For everyone involved in the WNBA’s first game in 1997, there was also plenty of nervousness to go around.

With the New York Liberty facing the Los Angeles Sparks on Tuesday, the matchup falls on the anniversary of the game the teams played to begin the league’s inaugural season. Now in its 15th year, the WNBA has outlasted an early rival, endured a struggling economy and overcome naysayers perennially predicting its doom.

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Sky’s Christon Out 8 Weeks

In other W news: Pokey Chatman, Corey Gaines and Dan Hughes Discuss Launch of WNBA Season and so do Rebecca Lobo and Carolyn Peck

Candace Parker Offers Maya Moore Some Advice and Nate says the Indiana Fever Need To Fill Point Guard, Rebounding Voids

No surprise, the Turkish lab that messed with Taurasi and others has received a six month ban and Clay is Handicapping the 2011 WNBA Season

Diana Taurasi’s poorly handled drug “suspension” helped the Mercury, for one of the two or three best players in the world is fresher and healthier for this summer than in recent memory. But DT can’t be much better than she has been, and Penny Taylor is still, well, Penny Taylor, so the key for Corey Gaines and company is to get Kara Braxton to bring it every night – or, more realistically, two out of three nights. There’s not much depth behind the underrated DeWanna Bonner, but when all the cylinders are firing in synch (including, most critically, Braxton), the Mercury are a team to be feared.

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