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From Jeff Metcalfe: Russ Pennell will not return as head coach of Phoenix Mercury

Russ Pennell will not return as the Mercury’s coach in 2014 after serving as interim coach for the final 18 games this season.

“I just wanted to stay in college basketball,” Pennell said Friday. “I had a great time with the Mercury. They treated me great from the top down. At the end of the day, my calling is in college basketball, and it was in the best interest for me and my family to pursue some other things.”

From Nate: The Atlanta Dream’s decision ‘to move in a different direction’ is both surprising and understandable

There’s reason to believe the Dream were sincere in their statement that they’re looking to simply change direction (and style of play?) after going 0-for-9 in their three WNBA Finals appearances over the last four years.

Williams, whose contract runs through Nov. 30, will move to a consultant position as the team transitions to a new head coach and general manager.

“Coach Williams has been an instrumental part of our success since the team’s inception, and although we have decided to move in a different direction, we appreciate Fred’s dedicated service and ensuring that the Dream remained among the top teams in the WNBA,” said Atlanta Dream co-owners Mary Brock and Kelly Loeffler. “He is a great teacher of the game, and is well respected by his peers.”

In this case, there’s plenty of reason to believe that changing direction is genuinely the right thing to do rather than a euphemistic condemnation of Williams’ job performance.

From the News-Sentinel: Former players defend Holy Cross women’s coach

More than 50 former players, managers and coaches have signed a letter that refers to Gibbons as a “father figure” and someone they consulted when facing critical life decisions.

“Above all, he was a leader who always taught us to do right and — more importantly — to be ‘men and women for others’ in the Jesuit tradition,” the letter reads.

From the Gaston Gazette: Hatchell has lots of support in cancer battle

Support for Hatchell within the Tar Heel family was clear on Thursday. When Hatchell’s was shown wearing UNC’s “Zero Dark Thursday“ marketing T-shirt while giving a pre-recorded message during a stoppage of play in the first quarter imploring Kenan Stadium fans to support the Tar Heels, fans drowned out Hatchell’s message with loud cheers.

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Things are getting clearer in the run to the playoffs.

Yes, the Storm are one win away from clinching playoff berth as Tina Thompson continues to go out with a bang, not a whimper.

Thompson, a 17-year league veteran, has willed the Storm into playoff contention. She’s averaging a team-leading 16.4 points and 7.3 rebounds in August. In a crucial regular-season series clincher against San Antonio on Tuesday, Thompson scored 27 points in the 72-71 road win.

The performance isn’t surprising to Thompson, 38. She recently said she had one of her better offseason training regimens in order to retire this season on a high. Thompson also made it clear when she signed with Seattle in 2012 her intention was to win a fifth WNBA championship.

BUT: If they do make it, they ain’t playing at Key. Next up: Minnesota.

Seattle is chasing Phoenix, but the Merc are twice lucky: they get to play Connecticut, and Candice Dupree has picked up the pace after Russ Pennell’s arrival as coach

Dupree said for her, the current scoring binge is about a “mind-set.”

“In order for me to help make this team better, I have to be aggressive and assert myself against these other teams,” she said. “I just can’t wait for shots to come within our system. When I catch the ball, I look to drive or shoot. If it’s not there, then pass the ball and play out of that.”

Interim coach Russ Pennell has made sure Dupree is featured in more offensive sets.

They almost let it get away, but Catch and Zellous made sure the Fever stayed ahead of the Liberty in the race for 4th. Or 3rd. Or 2nd, if Atlanta doesn’t right their injured ship. (They get a chance against Chicago today)

Chicago gets some love:

David Haugh – Delle Donne doing her (substantial) part to grow WNBA – League’s top rookie and legit MVP candidate will promote game after Sky season

Eric Zorn – Excuse me while I kiss the Sky

Contrasting opinions:

From SlamOnline: Standard Bearer – Ten years into her WNBA career, Diana Taurasi is having one of her best seasons yet.

Coming off of a hip flexor injury that limited her to just eight games last season, she’s come back with a vengeance, currently ranking second in the WNBA in scoring with 21.4 points per game. Ten times this season, she’s scored 26 points or more.

Though she receives less credit for other aspects of her game, she’s also averaging a career-high 6 assists a night, ranking second in the WNBA. That’s up from her average of 3.6 in 2011 (her last full season). She had double-digit assists three times: 10 vs Tulsa (August 20) and New York (July 2) and 11 vs Indiana (August 14). She’s also grabbing 4 rebounds per game.

From Aman Ali at the .com: Race to the MVP: Week Twelve

“Taurasi is one of the fiercest competitors in the league and a perennial favorite for the MVP award. But this season she hasn’t been able to shed her reputation of being an alpha-dog player that likes to shoot way more than she likes to pass. She has so much talent on her team, but how many of them are playing better as a result of Taurasi on the floor? McCoughtry suffered from the same reputation in years past and shed it this season – just ask her teammates Tiffany Hayes and All-Star Erika DeSouza who are playing some of the best basketball of their careers alongside her.”

Rebkellians clear up Ali’s lack of stat comprehension.

Also from SlamOnline: WNBA MVP Rankings – Candace Parker delivers in the clutch, fills the box score.

This past week, #CandaceCan became a mantra, as Candace Parker led the Sparks to a double-overtime comeback victory against Tulsa on Sunday. Slyvia “Big Syl” Fowles continues to spit out double-doubles and rise up the MVP rankings. Third year wing Maya Moore seems to be heating up at the right time as the Lynx look to make a trip back to the finals.

and Unsung Hero- Courtney Vandersloot is thriving at point guard for the Chicago Sky.

Quietly running the point is Courtney Vandersloot. The third-year guard is having her best season as a pro, averaging career highs in points (9) assists (5.5) and rebounds (3.3). Vandersloot is also averaging a career low in turnovers per game (2.5) while ranking fourth overall in the WNBA in assists.

Katie Konsiders Koaching: Katie Smith set to retire from WNBA.

Powell is going to Gonzaga.

Now to some off-court stuff via Nate:

RJ Aguiar of Towleroad has a pretty evenhanded account of the demonstration outside of the San Antonio City Hall yesterday that injured San Antonio Silver Stars forward Sophia Young attended yesterday, including links to local news coverage describing why the black and Latino protesters are opposed to an addition to the city’s existing nondiscrimination ordinance (click here from a video of the event from KENS 5). Andy Towle makes a good point in his associated post about Young’s tweets: “Given what she tweeted, however, she seemed to think that the anti-discrimination bill, to be voted on by the San Antonio City Council in early September, would also somehow legalize same-sex marriage.” (Hint: it won’t). (Read more)

I love that Coach Dunn has tweeted her support of Tully and Clarendon… And that Coach Boyle retweeted it. BUT: Where is every single other NCAA and WNBA coach?

Speaking of Coaches: Hall of Fame Inductee Dawn Staley Reflects on her WNBA Career and Community Outreach

Now to the important stuff: WNBA TEAM LOGOS: A VERY IMPORTANT CRITIQUE

Did you catch this from Fagan: SEX SELLS? TREND MAY BE CHANGING

In the Nine for IX film “Branded,” premiering Tuesday on ESPN (8 p.m. ET), filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady tackle the age-old question in women’s sports: Will sex appeal always supersede achievement?

But before we try to answer that, we need to ask ourselves a few more: Does sex really sell now? How do we know for sure? What if I told you it doesn’t?

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From Dan: Jenny Moshak retiring from UT over ‘issues of equality’

Jenny Moshak is leaving the trainer’s room at the University of Tennessee, but not without having a final say.

The associate director of sports medicine at UT, who’s a co-plaintiff in a lawsuit against UT, issued a statement Friday through her lawyer, Keith D. Stewart, saying that she took an early retirement over issues related to the suit.

“Due to the overall atmosphere since I raised issues of equality at the University of Tennessee and given the university’s unwillingness to address the issues of discrimination and retaliation, I cannot continue my association with the university’s athletic department,” Moshak said in the statement.

In W news, the Spare Parts Storm were doing just fine against the Delle Donne-less Sky, and then… oops! The she is!. Gave Jayda time to reconnect: Courtney Vandersloot is thriving with Chicago Sky

At Slam Online: WNBA MVP Rankings: She’s Back – Candace Parker returns from injury in dominant fashion.

In this week’s MVP rankings, Diana Taurasi has taken steps forward due to interim coach Russ Pennell’s more efficient system. Despite back-to-back 30-plus point outings for Angel McCoughtry, the Dream are riding a cold streak. Tamika Catchings, in the past week, nabbed her 900th steal and sneaks up the MVP ladder. And the “Candace Can” mantra still rings true for the Sparks, as their do-it-all forward reigns once again in the rankings.

Check out the latest:

Chris Morgan offers up WNBA Team Names: A Critique and someone else asks: Is Your WNBA Team Leading in… Injuries?

Why does this:

Iyanla Vanzant will try to work her magic on troubled former WNBA star Chamique Holdsclaw in the next episode of her OWN series, “Iyanla: Fix My Life.”

make me (and some others on Rebkell) uncomfortable?

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Mercury fire Corey Gaines

add on: Who’s the new boss? A little background:  Why Was Russ Pennell Replaced By Dan Majerle at Grand Canyon?

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