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

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

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

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

Sucky Sancho news, though.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Excelle: What’s wrong with the Phoenix Mercury?

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

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

Meanwhile…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rolling Stone: Elena Delle Donne’s Silent Supremacy

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

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

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

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

Then there’s MSR: Youngsters inspired by WNBA trailblazers

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

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

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

NCAA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Dishin’ and Swishin’ podcast: ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel shares early WNBA thoughts

Doug Robinson, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Dream’s two vets not giving up on title

Breanna Stewart’s Debut Ranks Among Best in WNBA History

Rookie Report: First WNBA Memories and As Former UConn Teammates Become Opponents, Friendship Remains Strong

Aussies in WNBA: Phillips and Taylor find form

Ah, the life of a rookie post: Imani Boyette

D-N-P. Three letters no baller can ever ignore. Ever.

For those of you who don’t know what DNP means. It’s “did not play”. Now, for the record, “did not play” is different from INJ, which would mean I was injured. No shame in not playing because you’re injured.

But I’M HEALTHY, PEOPLE!

Phoenix Mercury kicks off 20th season, works to draw young fans

If you need an “assist” keeping the kids busy this summer, the Phoenix Mercury is ready to help.

The WNBA team’s lineup, with a home opener on Friday, May 20, will include lots of things for the youngest fans to do both on and off the court.

Vince Kozar, the team’s vice president of business operations, says a Mercury game makes for a great family outing. “I think a two-hour basketball game with entertainment during time-outs, music all the time and other options is ideal,” he says.

Percy Allen at the Seattle Times: Jenny Boucek says Storm’s identity ‘still unfolding’

“It wouldn’t necessarily surprise me to hear some differing opinions about our identity, because we haven’t talked a lot about that,” second-year coach Jenny Boucek said. “I don’t want to determine their identity. They have to grow up into it. I’m not trying to change people or this team. It’s still unfolding before us.

“It’s like a baby. You don’t know how exactly they’re going to look like, how tall they’re going to be and what their exact gifts are going to be. You start to get a sense when they’re young, but it’s still part of the growth process.”

WNBA now has the best Wings in Dallas

Games:

It was in their grasp, then Jewell Loyd’s Game Winner, Career-High 30 Points Lifted Storm Over Mercury. Also, Breanna Stewart earns first WNBA win with double double in Phoenix

Mystics are a mess and got mauled by Toliver and the Sparks.

It’s tough to find things to praise after a game like this, but guard Bria Hartley deserves some. Starting in place of Natasha Cloud (illness), Hartley put together one of her better performances as a facilitator, dishing seven assists to just one turnover in 25 minutes of play. Historically more of a scoring combo guard, Mystics fans should be excited to see Hartley’s development as a playmaker for others.

Indiana ignored the excitement around Stephanie maybe going to Vanderbilt, came out focused and topped the Dream.

NCAA

Ron Higgins, Nola.com: Sagging LSU women’s basketball program gets a positive injection hiring assistant Mickie DeMoss

Well, hello! Abi Olajuwon named EMU women’s basketball assistant coach

And welcome: Cheryl Miller to coach women’s basketball at Cal State LA

The handover: Buscaglias become synonymous with Robert Morris women’s basketball program

Susie Gardner looks ahead to key summer for Mercer women’s basketball

WATN? Former WNBA first round pick Ta’Shia Phillips added to Indianapolis women’s basketball staff

You say Hello, we say goodbye? Stephanie White Over the Years

High School

DOH! Lakewood Ranch cited for rules violations by girls basketball coach Tina Hadley

Lakewood Ranch High School has been cited for conducting illegal practices with its highly successful girls basketball program, putting the school on probation for a year. It also could be fined more than $30,000.

International:

Optimism Abound as Canada Preps for Training Camp and Thornhill resident plays key supporting role in Canadian women’s basketball success

USA Basketball:

The game times for the Olympic basketball competition were released today. The entire schedule can be found via this link. The USA women’s team game schedule is as follows (note the times below are listed EDT/local). All the games will be televised and/or streamed live on one of the NBC platforms. Specific network information will come at a later date.

Sunday, Aug. 7 

11 am/12 pm vs. Senegal

 

Monday, Aug. 8 

11 am/12 pm vs. Olympic Qualifying Tournament 4th-ranked team

 

Wednesday, Aug. 10 

2:30 pm/3:30 pm vs. Serbia

 

Friday, Aug. 12 

2:30 pm/3:30 pm vs. Canada

 

Sunday. Aug. 14 

11:15 am/12:15 pm vs. Olympic Qualifying Tournament 2nd-ranked team

 

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

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

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

Make no mistake. This is Tamika Catchings’ team.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The president and this reporter briefly touched upon several topics:

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

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

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

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

NCAA

NCAA.com Rules group pleased with state of the game

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But she won it with them.”

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but I’m a little worried about the Lib’s tall folks.

Tina looks fantabulous, but where is Kiah? Sugar is already making a bid for the “Most Improved” as Old Big Easters will recognize the form they’re seeing on the court (and, do you remember her Player’s Tribune piece?). Intrigued to see how our elder guards contribute – really want an announcer to get the chance to say Z-to-Z for the nice give-and go. The Dallas visitors say Skylar is day-to-day, but even without her, the Wings are proving that they’re not going to be a pushover this year. Looking forward to see what happens for the newly-transfered franchise. Home wins, I hope.

Swish Appeal: ‘Pinch of Sugar’ goes a long way in Liberty victory

Queenie:

Dallas really misses Skylar Diggins. They really don’t have a consistent second option without her. Without her, Plenette Pierson and Odyssey Sims were both forcing the issue a lot, especially in the first half. Diggins tried to give it a go in warm-ups, but that knee is still braced, and she was walking very gingerly. She would have been at maybe quarter speed if she’d had to play, and I don’t think she was very happy about it; when she came out of the tunnel, she was with the trainer and there was a virtual thundercloud over her head. (It also really doesn’t help their rotation.)

On the West Coast, Los Angeles picked up where it left off last year… as did, unfortunately,  Seattle. Behind Parker’s 34, the Sparks easily handled the Storm. L.A. Times … dabnabbit! You use the AP report!!?!?! And oh, snap, the Sparks aren’t in your header or your dropdown menu. So. Not. Cool. At least Mechelle wrote somethin’

There were five No. 1 picks on the floor at Staples Center on Sunday, all of whom could tell you their own stories of what it means to them to be in that club.

When the game was over, 2008’s top pick — the Los Angeles Sparks’ Candace Parker — had the biggest day and her team got exactly the start it wanted: a dominant, 96-66 victory over the Seattle Storm.

There actually were some positives for the Storm, particularly regarding two of their No. 1 picks who look to be the foundation of a bright future: 2016 top pick Breanna Stewart, in her pro debut, had 23 points, while 2015 top pick Jewell Loyd, last season’s rookie of the year, had 20.

Swish Appeal: Candace Parker’s Sparkling performace engulfs Storm

Sue: Parker, Stewart both shine in Sparks dominating opening win

Hoopfeed: Candace Parker spoils debut of Breanna Stewart with 34-point explosion as Sparks beat Storm 96-66

The local paper hasn’t stopped paying attention: Breanna Stewart makes WNBA debut, experiences something new: Losing

Did you catch this from Stewie? Day One, Again.

Downtime? I have none. Just the way I like it.

Last week I was in Seattle trying to figure out if I could pull off the trip back to Connecticut for graduation. My new teammates asking, “What time do you have to be there?” Meanwhile I’m thinking, What if I get there and they forget to call my name? But being able to graduate in person from an institution like UConn, in front of a community that gave you so much, is an opportunity you can’t pass up. I made it, and squeezed in a visit to the White House with my UConn teammates; it was worth it.

Swin back in?

From Mike DiMauro at the Day: Motto for new-look Sun: Humble, but hungry

Kelsey Bone, center for the Connecticut Sun and never a candidate to mince words, offers the following overview of the 2016 season:

“We gotta make the damn playoffs,” she said, alluding to a locale that has eluded the franchise since (gulp) 2012.

Diana Taurasi learned a lot by watching her Phoenix Mercury teammates, at least when she wasn’t yelling at her monitor.

“I turned into that fan. ‘Why aren’t we rebounding? Why aren’t we executing down the stretch?,’ ” she told Excelle Sports Saturday at shootaround, prior to the Mercury’s season-opener 95-76 loss to the Minnesota Lynx.

Watching was the only thing Taurasi could do following her choice to skip the 2015 season, a move that reverberated fiercely within the WNBA community; Taurasi had won her third championship with Phoenix and her second Finals MVP award the year before.

On Saturday night, Taurasi could call herself a player again, competing against the Minnesota Lynx at Target Center, a venue where fans generally love to hate anything that has to do with purple and orange, especially the player wearing the No. 3 jersey. In Minnesota’s lean years,

If you haven’t purchased ESPN the Magazine, might recommend you get out and do so. WNBA oral history: Moving the ball forward

DAVID STERN WALKED down the hallway of the NBA offices in Manhattan and paused as he approached Val Ackerman’s office.

The then-NBA commissioner poked his head in the doorway.

“This would be a summer league, right?” Stern asked.

“Yeah,” Ackerman recalls saying, “that’s the plan.”

THE WNBA WASN’T launched by one landmark meeting. Rather, it evolved from a series of brainstorms, serendipitous circumstances and casual conversations: It was the right people working together at the right time. The NBA had reached a zenith of popularity and marketability in the early 1990s thanks to megastars such as Michael Jordan and collaborations with other organizations, such as USA Basketball. All of that delivered the Dream Team for the 1992 Olympics.

 Great job by Delle Donne (and, I’m assuming, a little assist from the Sky PR folks) – she’s been all.over.Chicago.In Chicago Magazine: The New Superstar in Town

In the glittering heart of Gotham, at a swank TriBeCa gala fit for a tuxedoed Bruce Wayne, a newly minted superhero soars toward an unseen basketball hoop, a flaring silk of blond hair trailing like a cape.

A few feet away, in heels and a form-hugging gown, a very tall blond woman who more than passingly resembles the leaping figure mulls the Marvel poster like a patron at a gallery, examining the main image of the subject cradling a basketball like a deity palming a planet, her hair swept back like Athena.

A small grin, then a full-on smile blossoms as she reads the character’s name.

“I hadn’t seen this,” she says to a friend. “Pretty cool, huh? Full-Court Goddess. I’ll take that.”

Speaking of which, fingers crossed: Sky’s Elena Delle Donne practices, expected to play Wednesday

About friggin’ time. From Excelle: WNBA.com dramatically expands stat, historical video offerings

This doesn’t suck: ESPN posts highest WNBA overnight rating for a regular-season game since 2011

A little college:  

With rumors circling about an extension, On the Banks writes: C. Vivian Stringer’s Impact Upon Women’s Basketball is Legendary

From the Sentinel: Next recruiting class crucial to Lady Vols’ future

Bye: Nebraska sharpshooter Natalie Romeo to transfer to UW women’s basketball team

Romeo leaves Nebraska after the abrupt resignation last month of Huskers coach Connie Yori over allegations that the coach mistreated players. Romeo has denied those claims.

“It was pretty difficult there,” she said. “I just think it’s the best thing for me to move on.”

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Some coaching gigs filled:

Hartford’s Jen Rizzotti moves up into the George Washington job. She did a fine job at Hartford, but it seems that she’s hit some recent roadblocks. Clearly the Colonials have returned to paying attention to women’s basketball, and previous coach Tsipsis had everything to do with that. Time will tell if Rizzotti can keep the momentum going.

Hello, Ravens coaching tree! Heather Jacobs Named Wagner Women’s Basketball Coach

Jacobs is a 2006 graduate of Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, NH, where she earned magna cum laude honors with a Sports and Recreation Management major, and a minor in Marketing. 

Interesting side note. Is Adelphi the new Maine?  Jacobs is leaving Division II Adelphi…which is the same institution Kim Barnes-Arico left to move to St. John’s…

Great Dane! UAlbany hires Joanna Bernabei-McNamee as women’s basketball coach

McNamee, from Weirton, W.Va., led Pikeville to the NAIA Final Four in what was her third season. It was the team’s second consecutive National Tournament berth. She also has Division I experience as an assistant at Maryland and West Virginia.

Santa Clara hires Bill Carr as new women’s basketball coach…and he has no women’s basketball experience. Cool.

More on UMass’ Tory Verdi

“The culture that surrounds this program will change. Expectations will be on the rise. Accountability will be apparent and a winning attitude will be instilled,” he added. “Our team’s image will be unselfish, tough, hard-nosed, disciplined, prepared, composed and lastly, relentless. It’s time to gain respect from the Atlantic 10 Conference and the rest of the country. It’s time to win and win big.”

Ouch: Luke Decock @ the News Observer: Women’s basketball in the Triangle bottoms out

From the trendsetting tenure of Kay Yow at N.C. State to North Carolina’s three Final Fours and national title under Sylvia Hatchell to Duke’s late-’90s ascendance under Gail Goestenkors, these three programs sat at or near the epicenter of the sport for a long, long time. Decades.

And now? Women’s basketball in the Triangle has reached maximum irrelevancy.

Opposite: Women’s basketball back on the rise in the Northwest

Mark it down. The months of March and April of 2016 are when the sport of women’s basketball regained a position of prominence in the Puget Sound Region.

When, at 4:11 p.m. PDT Thursday afternoon, WNBA president Lisa Borders announced Breanna Stewart as the Seattle Storm’s selection with the first-overall pick of the WNBA draft, it was the final incantation in the resurrection of a sport that not so long ago found itself forgotten on a dusty shelf in the back of the local sports closet.

But like a family heirloom that was rediscovered while packing up for a move, women’s hoops will once again find its place on the living room mantle.

 

From Ann Killion: USF’s Azzi, basketball’s lone out LGBT head coach, draws support

Blair Hardiek was taking a picture. Through the camera lens, she saw University of San Francisco women’s basketball coach Jennifer Azzi standing on stage and taking a deep breath. Hardiek sensed something big was coming. 

She was right. As she watched, Azzi told a crowded ballroom at the Fairmont Hotel that she and Hardiek — her associate head coach — are married. With that statement on March 31, Azzi became the only publicly out LBGT head coach working in Division I college basketball.

The moment wasn’t planned. It wasn’t intended to make history.

“You just get to the point where it’s so stupid to not be honest,” Azzi said recently at the Mill Valley home she and Hardiek share with their bulldogs, Izzy and Ella. “When you’re with someone who gives you so much courage there’s no reason to be afraid.”

WNBA:

MavsMoneyball: The new Dallas Wings should get you excited about the WNBA

So I know we’re all focused on the NBA Playoffs, but before long the Warriors will be back-to-back champs and the NBA season will be finished. And at that point, we’ll all need something fun to do. Luckily, there’s a new basketball team in town: the WNBA’s Dallas Wings.

Thursday night was the WNBA draft, and I went to the draft party at UT Arlington’s College Park Center, which is the new home of the Wings. First confession: I do not love having to drive out to Arlington, even though the arena is plenty nice. I would’ve much preferred SMU’s Moody Arena as the home of the Wings, but I guess not everything can be perfect. Speaking of which, everything else about the Wings is perfect.

The first event on the schedule tonight was the unveiling of the new team’s new uniforms. Check out this majesty:

NBPA: Q&A with Top Pick Breanna Stewart: ‘It’s a New Challenge and New Chapter’

It will likely be a while until we see another women’s player like Breanna Stewart. Standing at 6’4″, the Syracuse native is coming off six straight championships—two in high school and four at the University of Connecticut—and on Thursday, the Seattle Storm selected her with the No. 1 overall pick.

The NBPA’s Michael Goldsholl caught up with the UConn legend at the WNBA draft as she prepared for the next step in her already storied career. Their conversation touched on draft week highlights, memories with the Huskies, preparation for the WNBA, how the ladies’ game is changing, Kobe’s Bryant legacy and her off-the-court interests.

Tuck Realizes Her WNBA Dream, Drafted By The Sun At No. 3

“This day means so much,’’ Tuck said. “The first time I thought about it I was in fourth grade. I loved Lisa Leslie. She was my favorite. I did a project on her in school. And since then I knew that I wanted to play in the WNBA. And then to now to get drafted into it it’s kind of surreal that it’s actually happened just because at such a young age of wanting to do it and now I’m able to. So it’s great.’’

Thank you: Saxony Lutheran girls basketball coach Sam Sides reflects on 38-year Hall of Fame career

It was March 8, 2014, and the Saxony Lutheran girls basketball team had just walked off the floor following a Class 3 quarterfinal victory over Lutheran St. Charles. The result sealed a first trip to state for the program, which had only been in existence since 2006. It was a good feeling; the Crusaders were feeling good. Into the locker room they headed.

“So we were going to state and making history,” recalls Brianna Mueller, now a senior, “and we go down into the locker room and Coach Sides starts to dance. He did the worm. He got down on the ground and did the worm, and we’re all like, ‘What is happening right now?'”

On Saturday, Saxony girls basketball coach Sam Sides will be one of an 11-coach class inducted into the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame following the 38th year of his coaching career. His basketball coaching resume has earned respect and accolades. His dancing?

“I’m not a very good dancer, but I get emotional,” Sides says. “I get a lot more emotional as I get older. I get fired up on occasion, but I try not to do that in public.

Thank you, Pt. 2: Burleigh retires after 42 years

Girls basketball has certainly gone through changes over the last four decades.  However, at South Burlington High school, one thing has remained constant, head coach Sheila Burleigh.

“The girls are great athletes,” Burleigh said.  “They’re bigger, faster, stronger, because they’re understanding that you really need to lift. You need to train year round. You don’t just pick it up in November and expect you’re going to do well.”

After 42 seasons, nearly 600 wins and five state titles, Burleigh announced her retirement on Thursday.

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Welcome: Former Mercury exec Parry joins WNBA as COO

.com: Face of the Franchise: How Number One Picks Have Defined WNBA History

Fox: Storm analyst Elise Woodward breaks down WNBA Draft on “Q It Up Sports”

.com: Déjà Vu In Seattle: 14 Years Later, Storm Poised for Another Rapid Rebuild

Countdown to WNBA Draft 2016: Rachel Banham

St. John’s: Grant and Handford Gear Up for WNBA Draft

BulletsForever: 2016 WNBA Draft Preview Part 1: The Mystics’ current needs heading to Draft Day

Sue at SlamOnline: WNBA Draft Index, Vol. 3

UConn’s Big Three Seniors Looking Ahead To WNBA Draft

Howard Megdal: WNBA Mock Draft 10.0: Pencils down

The posturing is over. The scouting, the evaluating, the pre-draft meetings and workouts—all the information is in front of the 12 teams who will gather Thursday night at Mohegan Sun Arena and pick the next 36 potential players in the WNBA.

Notice potential—there’s no guarantee that draft picks can make their teams, with a source at one WNBA team expressing skepticism that even a first-round pick could make that team’s roster.

However, this deep draft offers an array of players with virtually every skill imaginable. So much comes down to fit, to small gradations of difference. And the moment it’s all over, the fun starts—figuring out how and the way 36 new players integrate with their new teams.

College

Syracuse.com: Being Breanna’s parents: Skittles, Santa, shoes and the basketball journey of a lifetime

The two-day respite between the NCAA Regional and Final Four offers a fleeting moment to breathe. There is, however, no rest. Heather and Brian Stewart squeeze in a couple of days of work at Upstate University Hospital jobs, then returned to their home in North Syracuse for a blur of errands. That is, until basketball breaks out.

On a spectacular early evening when temperatures climb into the 70s, Conor Stewart is working on a two-handed reverse jam on the basketball goal in his family driveway. The goal is lowered several feet to allow Conor access above the rim. The opportunity is too alluring for Brian, who finishes a job sweeping the garage and is soon dunking way with his 14-year-old son. Heather asks if anyone needs her alley-oop feeds from the front porch. The family moment is filled with joy and routine, all worked into the window of March Madness.

The next day, the Stewarts are off to Indianapolis for the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship.

Siroky’s Musings: A Return to the Women’s Final Four After a Long Absence

For the first time in a long while I took a trip by myself.

When the women’s NCAA basketball tournament started 35 seasons ago, I was one of 37 accredited media. 

Two of my best friends were also there as broadcasters, I had a photographer and knew three other national writers. That’s seven of the 37. It was a small group then.

I thought of many of them, the departed and the living, coaches, players and media I had shared a time with. 

There are not a lot of us left. In fact, there are but two media.

You may remember that the Seawolves had some “issues” a while back. Now? A shift in culture: Coach McCarthy transforms women’s basketball program

At 38-3, the UAA women’s basketball team just completed their best season in school history, and were arguably the greatest team Seawolf Athletics has ever assembled. From placing as the runner-up in the national championship game, to shattering 32 school records, to breaking five NCAA Division II records (including the 38 wins), the Seawolves had what one might call a dream season.

However, the team was living more of a nightmare just four years ago, when the program was slammed with several sanctions by the NCAA.

Hartford Courant: With Big 3 Gone, What Are The UConn Women Left With Next Season?

“With these three leaving, the rest of the players coming back are in for a rude awakening. But you can’t disregard what the impact [this season] has on the players coming back. And it will last for a while. But then obviously it will [fade] and they’ll have to earn it like these other guys.

“But we don’t have anybody in the program right now that’s a Stewie or a Tuck or Moriah coming back. So it’s going to be really, really one of the more difficult adjustments that we’ve had in the time that I’ve been here. But it’s OK. I’m kind of looking forward to it. I really am. There’s a lot of new stories to be written by our group.”

Here’s a look at what the Huskies might look like next season:

Courant: Program Foundation Geno And CD Laid At UConn In 1985 Is Holding Up Just Fine

Kerith Burke, SNY: A behind the scenes look at UConn’s fourth straight NCAA championship

Forbes: 3 Ways to Convert Losses Into Wins From A ‘Defeated’ Basketball Coach

Buff Zone: CU women’s basketball: Buffs buy in to Payne’s positive message

Whenever Kennedy Leonard encounters one of her new basketball coaches — and that’s been happening a lot lately — she’s asked how her family is doing, or how she’s doing in school.

“You can tell she really cares about us — all of them do,” said Leonard, who recently completed her freshman season with the Colorado women’s basketball team. “It’s a different kind of feel, a positive feel.”

NC State: Moore looks to take team to next level

Chris Crowder: Wolverines’ WNIT streak ends next year

After four seasons at the helm, Michigan women’s basketball coach Kim Barnes Arico has made the NCAA Tournament only once — her first season when she took over the head coaching job in the 2012-13 season. However, over the past three seasons, the Wolverines have failed to make the Big Dance, instead settling for the Women’s National Invitational Tournament.

Now in Barnes Arico’s fifth season, she’ll finally have a team consisting solely of players she has recruited. And in the 2016-17 season, Barnes Arico will have the right pieces to lead Michigan back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013.

Hello: Justice named head women’s coach at Prairie View A&M

Bye: UWGB junior Latesha Buck granted release

Well, carp: Players’ Departures Bring Swoopes’ Demeanor Into Question

Betting Runner’s SportsChat asked me a few questions and I typed the answers.

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SI/AP:  A few things to watch at the women’s championship game

Carl Adamec: Syracuse the final hurdle for Huskies, Stewart

As an eight-year-old living in North Syracuse, New York, Breanna Stewart took a ride downtown with her father in April, 2003, to watch the parade celebrating the Syracuse University men’s basketball team’s national championship.

And while Stewart loves a parade as much as anyone, the University of Connecticut senior standout does not want a repeat in her hometown later this month.

Jim Fuller: UConn seniors Jefferson, Stewart, Tuck look to win fourth national title

Blue Star Media: For Stewart and UConn seniors, a farewell title is all that remains

When Breanna Stewart, a gangly 6-foot-4 high school All-American from Syracuse, N.Y., arrived in the fall of 2012, regarded as the next great player in the college game, she made her goals crystal clear to her coaches.

In return, they held her to that objective. There would be no backing off, no change of heart or tamping down of her commitment.

If this is what she wanted, she needed to understand what it would take to achieve it.

Paul Doyle, Hartford Courant: Shea Ralph Has Been Living UConn Dream For 20 Years; ‘It’s Utopia, In Some Ways’

BTW – Syracuse.com has been coverin’ the hell outta this tournament/Syracuse’s run.

:-) Quentin Hillsman, fashion king: See Coach Q’s best 7 outfits in the last 7 years (photos)

Lindsay Kramer: Fearless Cornelia Fondren keeps coming up big for Syracuse women’s basketball

Syracuse University guard Maggie Morrison tagged her teammate, swing player Cornelia Fondren, with the nickname “Big Girl” out of sheer admiration.

Even though Fondren stands just 5-foot-8, she loves ripping into the lane to challenge opposing trees with her whirling drives.

Hence, Morrison saw Fondren as the Orange’s own big girl.

What does ‘Always Reppin’ mean to Syracuse, Connecticut women’s basketball players?

AP’s Michael Marot: Syracuse hoping for big payoff from run to championship game

When Brittney Sykes started playing AAU basketball, she didn’t even know where Syracuse was.

The women’s basketball program was almost as invisible to college fans.

Yet when it came to making her college choice, the 5-foot-9 guard bought the promise from coach Quentin Hillsman that she could be part of the solution by turning the Orange into a national contender. Mission accomplished.

AP Doug: UConn and Syracuse to meet for women’s championship

Auriemma referred to standout seniors Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck as he looked toward the title game.

”I don’t know what I can do to help them except keep reminding them all the time, ‘This is your spot, you’ve owned this spot for the last three years,”’ Auriemma said. ”Now there’s no guarantee you’re going to get it Tuesday night, but we’re not going in there Tuesday night hoping we win. Because these three (players) they’ve done more than that, it doesn’t mean we’re going to win, but I don’t have to help them with that mentality.”

It’s not all roses: From the Indy Star’s Dana Benbow: 

The photo should be happy. Anyone who looks at it would think it is happy.

But it’s not. It’s chilling.

A gleeful Cassie Kerns, arms spread wide, jumping down the basketball court after her UConn team won the NCAA national title in 2009, her senior year.

The photo looks happy. It’s not.

At that moment, on that court after beating Louisville 76-54, Kerns was in a downward spiral of self-loathing.

Yup: Also from AP Doug: Negandhi, Lawson and Lobo have excellent chemistry on set

”Within the first weekend of the first year, I knew the chemistry was there,” Negandhi said. ”We didn’t have to think about trying to do anything. When you’re not thinking, that’s when you’re going to have your best stuff.”

The first weekend of the tournament is one of the most challenging in the business. With 32 games over 48 hours, it makes for long days. Potentially they could have to do 16 different halftime shows in a day if games don’t break right. It would be even tougher if they didn’t all get along so well.

BTW: UConn-Oregon State Semifinal Delivers Strong Overnight Rating

BTW2: Might get yelled at, but….FLASHBACK TIME

Congrats: Adia Barnes coming back to coach UA women. Flashback, too:

Reviewing her WNBA career since being drafted by Sacramento in 1998, Adia Barnes is characteristically frank. “A few years later, you wouldn’t think I’d even be in the league.”

Consider, in her first season Barnes played in every game – starting 16. Since then, she’s watched her playing time diminish as she’s been traded or waived by four different teams. Yet the 2002 season found Barnes in the starting lineup for the Seattle Storm.

On the same topic, from Lady Swish: #onlyinWBB do we give head jobs to men with no experience coaching women

We’re at the point in the season where coaches come and coaches go. And we remain amazed at the lengths some folks will go to put a men’s basketball assistant in charge of their women’s basketball program.
The latest example of the ol’ inside-the-athletic-department shuffle came, unfortunately, within our stomping grounds over at Norfolk State. A few weeks ago, the Spartans named men’s basketball assistant Larry Vickers head coach of the women’s team after a bizarre 11-game stretch in which he ran the women’s team while still assisting the men’s.

It didn’t go unnoticed in the WBB community.

And yes, Swoopes, there she is! Hall of Fame.
Speaking of USA Basketball: Howard at Excelle has VIDEO: Interview with 1976 USA Basketball women’s coach Billie Moore 

Ahem: ICYMI: autobiography “Catch A Star” reaches No. 9 on bestseller list for sports books!

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@laurenej15

Hey lovelies, thank you so much. Retiring is the hardest thing to do, but thank you for your support. I’m going to miss this game so much

Lauren Jackson’s excellence was never bad for the game and I was never bored watching her. I will so miss the on-court nightmare she was.

Jon Healy: Lauren Jackson deserved better than having her brilliant basketball career ended by injury

It hardly seems fair Jackson was unable to bow out on her own terms, with knee injuries taking that right from her.

As a result of the ongoing problems, her WNBA side, the Seattle Storm, was without the superstar for three consecutive seasons, leaving a pockmark on her legacy there.

Even so, the 34-year-old will be remembered as one of basketball’s best players with a wide-ranging skill set that made her an unstoppable scoring threat, a tenacious rebounder and a dominant defensive presence.

Also from Jon: Lauren Jackson says low pay in women’s basketball forces players to over-extend themselves to make a living

AP: Former Seattle star Lauren Jackson announces retirement

She had been named on Australia’s Opals extended squad for Rio, but recent fitness testing and medical advice convinced her she should not continue playing.

“It really is so surreal retiring here where it all began 19 years ago,” Jackson said. “Today I’m announcing my retirement from the love of my life, basketball. Two years ago I hurt my knee playing in China … my knee ended up degenerating really, really fast, I got arthritis pretty quickly and since then I’ve had multiple surgeries.”

Chris Dutton: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James on Lauren Jackson: ‘She’s the greatest’

Freya Noble: ‘Basketball is in my blood’: Australia’s greatest female player Lauren Jackson breaks down as she announces retirement after two decades

‘Today I’m announcing my retirement from the love of my life – basketball,’ she said, the emotion evident in her voice. 

‘It took me all over the world, gave me friendships that will last forever, so thank you for everyone for being here… for giving me this opportunity to say goodbye.’

Olgun Uluc: Lauren Jackson became ‘Australia’s crown jewel’, says former Boomers coach Brett Brown

She managed to do something with her sport that no other Australian has ever replicated. She dominated in the United States.

In a country that prides itself on garnering the best talent from across the globe, to join some of the most competitive, and successful, leagues of all-time; Jackson reigned supreme.

“She became Australia’s crown jewel,” former Australian Boomers coach, Brett Brown, told foxsports.com.au.

Alanna Jarry: Thank you to Lauren Jackson, a living legend of the game

James Willoughby: The 10-word pact Lauren Jackson made at 12

Lauren Jackson’s father played basketball for Australia. So did her mother.

Growing up around the sport and playing from an early age, she seemed destined to follow in the footsteps of her parents.

But at 12, Jackson’s performance at a Country Cup suggested that maybe she didn’t want that life. Her parents twigged and told her she didn’t have to keep playing.

Jackson’s response should go down in the folklore of Australian sport, given she is arguably the best basketballer the nation has ever produced.

She went to her room, sat at her computer, and – as the story goes – typed: “From this day on, nothing will stand in my way.”

Kevin Pelton: Appreciating LJ’s dominance — and wondering what might have been

Lauren Jackson did many things well on a basketball court, but hiding her emotions wasn’t one of them. In between celebratory smiles, Jackson was full of entirely too much frustration caused by the injuries that ultimately forced her to retire from basketball this week at age 34.

If you were building the ideal basketball player in a lab, you might want to start with Jackson. At 6 feet, 6 inches, the Australian legend was one of the tallest players in the WNBA throughout her 12-year career, yet she was also one of the league’s most dangerous outside shooters. Jackson’s combination of skills drew comparisons to NBA star Dirk Nowitzki, but Nowitzki couldn’t match Jackson — the 2007 defensive player of the year — in terms of impact at both ends of the court.

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Hate starting the day with really unpleasant news: Maryland women’s assistant basketball charged with sexual abuse

Maryland women’s basketball assistant coach Bryce McKey has been charged with sexual abuse against a player he coached while serving as an assistant with the Xavier women’s basketball team.

McKey will be arraigned Friday morning in Kenton County (Ky.) District Court on a misdemeanor charge of sexual abuse in the third degree, which stems from a May 2 incident involving a Xavier women’s basketball player.

Maryland indefinitely suspended McKey on Thursday evening, according to a school spokesman.

It’s an ugly, ugly situation – the only good thing one can take away, at the moment, is the fact the young woman spoke up.

“A lot of young ladies probably don’t come forward. I was proud of [my daughter] for coming forward,” the accuser’s father said. “Hopefully by reporting them, that it will help protect other girls that are going around coaches and feeling safe and secure, and realize it’s not safe and secure.”

Perhaps things have gotten better since 2004.

Maybe.

Days after Norwood Teague resigned as athletic director at the University of Minnesota amid  allegations of sexually harassment, the Minnesota Star Tribune reported VCU paid former women’s basketball coach Beth Cunningham $125,000 to settle claims of discrimination under Teague’s watch. Teague served as VCU’s athletic director until 2012, the same year Beth Cunningham left the Rams.

“VCU paid athletic Beth Cunningham received $125,000 when she left VCU,” VCU spokesman Mike Porter confirmed. “There was an agreement reached between the university and Beth Cunningham. However, the nature of the agreement cannot be discussed due to the language of the agreement.”

Then there’s the Tar Heel Trouble: UNC-Chapel Hill reports new information to NCAA

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has notified the NCAA’s enforcement staff that, in the course of responding to the NCAA’s notice of allegations of May 20, 2015, it identified two new pieces of information potentially requiring further review. The University is fully cooperating with the NCAA and working within the NCAA’s processes to bring closure to the investigation as soon as possible.

First, while preparing for public release of a series of emails from the independent investigation conducted by Cadwalader, Wickersham and Taft, the University found additional examples of possible instances of improper academic assistance provided to a few former women’s basketball players, directly related to allegation number two in the May 20, 2015, notice of allegations.

Moving on.

Uncertainty builds for Marist with Jossart out for season

The Marist College women’s basketball team’s rocky offseason has hit another bump.

Incoming freshman point guard Jordyn Jossart underwent surgery on her right knee on Wednesday and is expected to miss the entire 2015-16 season, the school announced Thursday.

Jossart’s absence adds uncertainty to a program that has just five returning scholarship players on its roster and still, Marist coach Brian Giorgis said, doesn’t know if it will have starting center Tori Jarosz back for another season. The point guard position in particular is an unknown, with Jossart thought to be one of several candidates for the role.

Analysis: How will Iowa mesh together this season?

With three multi-year starters gone from last year’s team and eight underclassmen dotting its roster, Iowa is going to have a significantly different look this season.

Exactly how different? Longtime coach Lisa Bluder isn’t quite sure right now.

Cool! BTW girls basketball player Megan Jackson wins spot in Kevin Durant camp

If you were to become an NBA superstar, how would you use your money to impact the lives of young people in the community where you grew up?

Megan Jackson thought about the question. Then, the Booker T. Washington junior basketball player sat down and wrote an essay.

It turned out to be one of the winning efforts in the Kevin Durant ProCamp Essay Contest, organized by Oklahoma Toyota dealers.

More cool! Young women using basketball to help overcome divisions and forge new way of life in wake of 1990s Balkan war

 More than 100 young women playing in a Bosnia and Herzegovina basketball club are overcoming the ethnic divisions and conflict that plunged the Balkan region into war during the 1990s.

The Livno Girls Basketball Club, based in the town in southwest Bosnia and Herzegovina, competes throughout the region and in other European countries. Sterling Global Operations (SGO), an international stability operations company, is a club sponsor.

The entire region was for years embroiled in the fighting between rival military forces. Programs such as the Livno Girls Basketball Club are helping to forge a new way of life, and a better future, for girls and young women, said Mike Aramanda, SGO project manager for the company’s work in the region.

More cool! Basketball at breakneck pace a way of life on Navajo reservation

At 5:15 a.m., sunrise is only a thin pale highlight over red rock mesas in the east as Alicia Hale steps out of her house for her daily run. Even in June, the morning is so chilly at an altitude of almost 7,000 feet that she needs several layers to stay warm.

The Window Rock High School senior lines up next to her mother and younger sister in the dirt yard of their house in the capital of the Navajo Nation. They spread Navajo white corn powder on the ground in a quiet ceremony meant to offer thanks to the Creator for the blessings of life.

They exit the yard through a chain link gate and set out at an easy jog.

Also cool! Kymora Johnson And Her Cavs Are Going To Play A Game At Madison Square Garden – The Cavs weren’t allowed to play in their tournament for having a girl on their team. This will have to do instead. side note: Really impressed *insert sarcasm emoticon* with the many of the comments after this article on the “issue.” Quite revealing of some folks’ buttons.

LA’s optimism: Brian Agler, Sparks keep pushing toward playoffs

The Sparks started the season 3-14 and in last place in the West and still are one of the league’s lowest-scoring teams, averaging 72.8 points per game, which ranks 10th. But now, even at 7-16, Los Angeles is in fourth place in the West, a half-game ahead of San Antonio.

“It’s been tough,” Agler said earlier this week. “But we have a chance to get into the playoffs and we are playing better.”

Minnesota’s crossed fingers: Seimone Augustus could return to Lynx lineup soon

Speakin’ of tough: Storm GM, president Alisha Valavanis reflects on first year on job

Question: You’ve made a mark your first season, which has included a revamped ticket program, a new Storm app and quirky in-game features, such as the “Between Two Birds” segments with Sue Bird. How do you view the past year?

Answer: We went into this year really committed to the experience as we build on the court. We wanted engagement opportunities and to try to create relevance. It’s been exciting for me, because people see the vision and are buying in. They’re showing up to games and having a good time. We had three consecutive games where the building (KeyArena’s lower bowl) was full. It’s too early to really tell, but there are a lot of indicators that we’re trending in the right direction.

Things are gettin’ fun in the East: New York Liberty remain thorn in Chicago Sky’s side amid playoff hunt (get better quick, EDD!)

Last season’s WNBA Eastern Conference champions, the Chicago Sky, are in essentially a five-way race for the conference’s four playoff spots.

But the defending East champs seem to face their most serious competition for supremacy from the New York Liberty. The two sides have faced off twice in five days with the Liberty winning both games convincingly, including an 84-63 win on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

What makes the Liberty and Sky such an intriguing matchup is they represent the polar extremes of the league. The Sky lead the league in offensive efficiency, with 104.8 points per 100 possessions. A primary reason for this is Elena Delle Donne, the versatile forward posting the third-best season in WNBA history so far, as measured by Player Efficiency Rating.

Speaking of the Sky: Chicago’s Elena Delle Donne hopes to break Seattle ‘curse’

Some think coffee when Seattle is mentioned. Elena Delle Donne has a different word association.

“It’s like the curse,” she said. 

Since being drafted by Chicago with the No. 2 overall pick in 2013, KeyArena is the one court in the league where Delle Donne has yet to play.

Speaking of the stubborn Sun: Chelsea Gray Shining for Connecticut Sun After Conquering Doubt and Injury

Chelsea Gray underwent a temporary crisis of faith. 

The confidence the affable 5 foot, 11 inch guard once played with as an elegant two-time All-American guard at Duke was as fractured as her right knee.

Suffering two debilitating season-ending knee injuries, as Gray did during her junior and senior years can do that. Even though she is a strong spiritual person, those unfortunate setbacks even forced Gray to have doubts.

She eventually conquered the distrust in herself believing something greater would come, despite two major knee surgeries in less than a year.

How about a little one-on-one?

Chicago Tribune talks with the fabulous Catch.

Q: This was the first Sports Humanitarian Award, meaning the selection committee had the entire athletic world to draw from. Yet they picked you. How did it feel?

A: It was amazing, even to get nominated. I was beside myself, just really ecstatic. I love working with kids. We’ve continued to grow and grow, and get better and better. Not once did I ever say “Hey, I might win this,” it was just cool to be recognized. When I got the phone call that I won, at first I was like “OK y’all, stop playing.”

Other athletes have their foundations, but they have people who run it for them, and it’s more of an appearance thing for them. From start to finish, I’m engaged and involved in every aspect of it. That’s something they were very impressed with.

SIKids talks with the fierce, yet friendly, Tina.

You got your first recruiting letter at age 12 from Stony Brook University. Did you receive more shortly after or not until you were a bit older?

More after — I actually framed that one. To be 12 years old and to receive a collegiate letter gave me a lot of confidence to keep playing the sport of basketball.

David pods with Kelsey Bone:

Last night, the Sun trailed by double figures before pouring it on in the second half to defeat the Tulsa, Shock 80-74. Alex Bentley led the Sun with 25 points, but the driving force in the second half push was the other All-Star on the Sun, center Kelsey Bone. She finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds.

The 6-4 center is a true low post, back-to-the-basket center, who patrols the paint on both ends of the court. The Sun disc jockey plays “Bad to the Bone” when appropriate, which is frequently, and the crowd roars. This is a year where the Sun was expected to contend for last place, not the playoffs, due to injuries and retirement. On a team loaded with youth, and short on vocal leaders, Bone is more than just another piece of the puzzle, she is a focal point both on and off the court for the team.

Elena goes solo here: Delle Donne writes about her sister, Lizzie.

We often read about stories of momentary greatness — a time when a human being persevered despite insurmountable odds. But what’s a moment of triumph for one person is a lifetime of perseverance for my sister, Lizzie.

Lizzie is my older sister — also the older sister to my brother Gene — but often times it feels like she’s my younger sister. She was born deaf and blind, with cerebral palsy and autism. She doesn’t speak. The only real interaction or communication I, or anyone, has with her is in person, with hand over hand sign language. She hugs. She smiles. She kisses.

Gone way too early: Former Virginia Tech basketball great Renee Dennis dies at 49

Former Virginia Tech women’s basketball standout Renee Dennis, whose No. 44 jersey hangs from the Cassell Coliseum rafters, has died at the age of 49.

Dennis died of ovarian cancer Aug. 4 at a nursing home in Trumbull, Connecticut, according to her mother, Mary Dennis. Virginia Tech announced her death Monday.

“I’m so saddened and shocked,” former Hokies coach Carol Alfano said in a phone interview upon learning the news. “That’s way, way too young.”

Dennis is the Virginia Tech women’s basketball program’s career scoring leader, having tallied 1,791 points from 1983-87.

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Episode 1

Episode 2

BTW, considering my hobby, I’m guessing longtime readers will recognize that Sue and I are birds of a feather….

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who’ve “Kickstarted” for Joanne Lanin’s publication of her book, “Finding a Way to Play.” Lucky you, there’s still time to jump on the women’s history bandwagon. From Jo:

I am also grateful to the people who took the time to answer my questions over the last four summers as I sought to deepen my understanding of the struggles that pioneers of women’s basketball have faced. In no particular order, they are: Cindy Davies, Fayth Goodrich, Angel Goodrich, Marjery Johnson, Eckie Jordan, Theresa Grentz, Corinne Gulas, Kirsten Cummings, Helen White, Celeste Chartier, Jo Dill, Molly Bolin, Pat Griffin, Pat McKinzie-Lechault. Lorraine Rizzu- to, Marge Burge, Angela Alford, Paula Passarello, Lin Dunn, and Jane Pittman.”

Thanks again to all my backers. I will be updating you with printing details and publication dates as soon as I have them. Also, I’ll be sending you a survey to get your address (and t-shirt size if you wanted one). Women’s basketball rocks! And so do the people who support it.

$15 will get you a signed copy.
$25 will get you a signed copy for yourself and a thoughtful gift for your best wbb friend.
$100 (I’m looking at YOU coaches) will get you five signed copies for your starting five, ’cause young players NEED to know the history of the game their playing.

Speaking of history, Mama Taj’s in the house: 

As a 20-year-old with both a passion for basketball and a deep sense of responsibility toward family, Taj McWilliams-Franklin would go to the old practice gym at St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas, at 6 o’clock each morning with a basketball in one hand and a baby carrier holding her infant daughter, Michelle, in the other.

She felt the need to work on her game, but couldn’t allow it to come at the expense of motherhood. Such workout sessions began defining who McWilliams-Franklin would be for decades to follow.

She became one of the most accomplished players in WNBA history while also distinguishing herself as a strong mother figure, not only for her three daughters, but her adult teammates, as well.

She needs that duality in her life. That’s why she left behind all the trappings of professional and Division I college basketball to attempt to transform Post University women’s basketball into a successful program.

Speaking of current history, from Chuck Culpepper at WaPo: WNBA star Brittney Griner is tough-minded, but fighting doesn’t define her

An authentic American athlete has a fresh blotch on her bio, so it might help that she also has uncommonly sturdy innards.

It might help that Brittney Griner had the guts to confirm her homosexuality to a student who asked . . . at the dawn of ninth grade. It can’t hurt that the former assistant coach at Baylor, Damion McKinney, found it “amazing to me how she could take being mocked,” and said, “I’ve never seen a kid who could handle things like people holding up [unkind] signs, the way she could.”

It surely helps that her keen sense of self dates back to a girlhood in which she would slide blithely under the car to help her father repair it, cut the hair off her Barbies and then paint them black and green, study military shows with her Vietnam-veteran dad, dream of following him into the police, even stand up to him when life asked for that. Even the professor who helped the WNBA parse her recent domestic-fight case deems her “a very, very brave, brave, brave person.”

As feared, a 5th player says “ouch:” Sun lose Kelsey Griffin

The cost of a crowded guard house: Shock releases Angel Goodrich

From Seattle: NBA playoffs mess with Storm practice (I dunno about you, but the WCWS messed with my sleep!)

Ummmm, is it too late to start a Kickstarter campaign to fix WNBA.com (and hire writers who can identify players in photos correctly)? From Rebkell folks:

1) The website rolls over to the next day at 9PM PDT. This means that I need to scroll left for any West Coast games still in progress on the scores scroll 
2) On that same scores page, the score frames span the entire page so that the left scroll button covers up half of the first score. It needs to be resized so that there is a gap between score and edge. 
3) Many pages – the box scores, the all-time leaders page are examples – do not resize horizontally based on one’s browser dimensions. The font is too big and the rest of the information simply goes off the right side of the page. 
4) Those oversized pages also do not present a horizontal scroll bar so it is impossible to view it. I have had to reduce the font size in order to fit it all onto one page. 
6) Resizing the main page any smaller than full-screen on my laptop will cause all the menu items in the header to disappear. They are actually collapsed on the left hand side but that is not intuitive at all. 
7) The career stats page no longer calculates totals for a player 
Cool The roster page no longer lists number of years in service next to a player’s name. That at-a-glance feature was useful. 
9) Many links are still pointing to the old DNS which makes them useless. On the Storm page, this includes revenue-generating links like how to purchase ticket plans or register for the fan road trip. So far that seems to be the same story on the Dream and Sun sites that I checked. 
10) The standings page has started the season already. It is listing the pre-season games as win-loss. Hopefully this will get cleared before June 5th. 
11) Every single ticket link that I saw on the schedule page is broken and redirects back to the main team page. 
12) The headers for the drop-downs also have old links attached to them so if you click on them it takes you back to the main site again. 
And one other question: 
1) Where would you suggest we go to check injury reports, latest transactions (updated within the hour), historical numbers for all players who no longer play for the league, and other statistics and facts that sports fans tend to want to know? None of these are available on the website.

 

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Huge blow for the Terps as starting point guard and soon-to-be-junior Lexie Brown decides to transfer. I always wonder about that “play closer to home” line…

Not as surprising, Jannah Tucker to transfer from Lady Vols.

Blick:

llinois hires firm to further investigate claims against basketball coaches

Ilinois has hired a Chicago law firm to further investigate claims by women’s basketball players that coaches mistreated them.

An internal review by the university’s office of diversity, equity and access initially found no violation of “applicable law, NCAA rules or university policy,” but athletic director Mike Thomas and Chancellor Phyllis Wise “have decided to contract with an external firm to continue and finalize that preliminary review,” a university spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Hutchinson women’s basketball team under investigation

The Hutchinson Community College women’s basketball team is under investigation for alleged improper benefits to players.

The National Junior College Athletic Association confirmed Tuesday that it is investigating the program. Assistant executive director Mark Krug says an issue was brought to the organization’s attention last week. He declined to comment further.

Hutchinson coach John Ontjes says the school has until June 5 to respond to the NJCAA.

In eight seasons under Ontjes, the Blue Dragons are 257-26 and have won five consecutive Jayhawk West titles.

This season, Hutchinson’s only loss was in the NJCAA national championship game to Chipola, Florida.

In other news: Alabama women’s basketball making progress in rebuilding efforts, Kristy Curry says

The results have been modest through Kristy Curry’s first two seasons as Alabama’s women’s basketball coach. However, the groundwork is being laid for a better future, Curry said during the Tide’s recent Crimson Caravan event in Atlanta.

Alabama finished last season 13-19, including 2-14 in the SEC, after posting a 14-16 record during Curry’s first season as coach in 2013-14.

In W news: 

From Rebkell, an enumeration of the horror(s) that is know as WNBA.com.

One thing I don’t like when web pages get re-vamped by new companies is that they will move things around and not put redirects to the new pages, breaking search results and inbound links (like Wikipedia references). The people doing the WNBA site changed the locations of the playerfile pages without putting re-directs to the new page. Google should catch up, if they do keep playerfiles for retired players, but for now, if I search for “Becky Hammon playerfile” it gives me: 

http://www.wnba.com/playerfile/becky_hammon/ 

That page no longer exists. 

The new player pages have been moved under the “player” directory and a dash used instead of an underscore: 

http://www.wnba.com/player/sue-bird/ 

But as of now, there is no page for 

http://www.wnba.com/player/becky-hammon 

If they decide to not keep any playerfile data for players who were retired as of 2015, then that will be a bigger complaint.

From Tulsa: Glory finally arrived in town and says she didn’t expect arrest, WNBA suspension after domestic fight with Griner, now her spouse. Also, the Shock has a terrific backcourt trio in Skylar Diggins, Odyssey Sims and Riquna Williams

T he Tulsa Shock is cornering the market on young, dynamic backcourt talent.

Skylar Diggins, Odyssey Sims and Riquna Williams give the WNBA franchise a terrific trio rotating at point guard and shooting guard.

“There are great combinations all over the league,” Shock president Steve Swetoha said. “But for young players with potential, we’ll put our guard set against any in the league.”

Speaking of that suspension: Brittney Griner says other players want her to appeal suspension

Also from Phoenix: So you say: Mercury ready for title defense on FOX Sports Arizona

From Seattle/Australia:

Abby Bishop played one season for the Seattle Storm, in 2010, before returning to play professionally in her native Australia. She is back in the WNBA this year, but she did not return alone — Bishop has brought along 2-year-old Zala, a niece whom the 6-3 forward has taken care of since shortly after her birth.

Bishop’s sister gave birth to the child in August 2013, but unconfirmed medical issues meant that she would be unable to take of the baby. Rather than see Zala go to foster homes, Bishop stepped up and became her legal guardian, even though that meant juggling motherhood duties and a hectic schedule in Australia’s WNBL.

The AP offers: Seattle’s Bird ready for rebuilding, mentoring ahead

When Seattle opens its season next week at home against Los Angeles, Bird will begin her 13th season with the franchise. She has experienced the highs of winning two WNBA titles and is now facing the challenge of helping lead a massive rebuilding project after Seattle’s worst record of her tenure with the club.

She’s still Sue Bird, the starting point guard idolized by a younger generation. But more than any other time in her professional career, with Seattle’s selection of guards Jewell Loyd and Mosqueda-Lewis with two of the first three picks in the WNBA draft, Bird is adding the title of mentor.

From Indy: Stephanie White up for any and all challenges with Fever

“I’m a firm believer that you surround yourself with people who have more wisdom and see different things,” White said. “Not just people who agree with you all the time. I’m not going to get better as a coach, and neither is our team, if I’m not open to being challenged.

“Lin is the first person I worked with who was open for debate on everything; she always wanted to hear other people’s thoughts. It really helped me in terms of who I wanted to coach with me.”

Also from Indy: 2015 Indiana Fever Preview: Fever Plan To Open Up Offense This Year

Deja vu from Minnesota as Pioneer Press asks:  For Lynx and WNBA players, how much hoops is too much?

Time off is a rare commodity for Minnesota Lynx guard Seimone Augustus.

Her free days are few and far between. So when Augustus had a short stretch of off days available in early May, she took full advantage.

Augustus traveled to Hawaii to marry LaTaya Varner.

“It was, like, ‘We’ve got to squeeze (the wedding) in right here,’ ” Augustus said.

The Sun will rely on leadership of newcomer

Almost as soon as Katie Douglas announced her retirement from the WNBA and the Connecticut Sun, the question was popped.

Who will lead this team?

Connecticut coach Anne Donovan had an answer.

Camille Little.

Is Louisville lusting after the Liberty?

Is there any news on Angel’s knee?

And finally, flashing back to May 5, 1995, a little USA Basketball news:

Twenty years ago today, on the morning of May 25, 1995, 18 of the best women’s basketball players in the country were sitting in their respective dorm rooms at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, anxiously awaiting word on their fate. 

“I cannot believe that it has been 20 years,” said eventual two-time Olympic gold medalist Ruthie Bolton, who celebrated her 28th birthday on that day. “It was such a special moment for me. To be able to get ready to do something that would make history was a special moment. I felt like we were embarking on something special. I was nervous, but excited. It was something that I was extremely happy to be a part of, to be among a group of players that would change women’s basketball.”

If you want the real scoop on USA Basketball and the start of the W and ABL, two must reads for you this summer are Sara Corbett’s wonderful “Venus to the Hoop” and Tara VanDerveer’s “Shooting from the Outside.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Storm star Sue Bird presented with Moyer Foundation award

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

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

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

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

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

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

In NCAA news:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The regional crown was the first in school history.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that is true. She did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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from the Women’s Sports Foundation: 

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

From the Seattle Storm: 

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

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

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

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Awfulness: UNT women’s basketball player found dead in dorm

“We are deeply saddened and heartbroken by the passing of Eboniey Jeter,” said Rick Villarreal, UNT athletic director. “She was a great young lady and a tremendous competitor, but most of all she was a trusted teammate on the women’s basketball team and a respected member of the Mean Green family.

Relieved-ness: WNBA MVP Moore re-signs with Lynx

Stupid-ness: UK women’s basketball notes: Epps suspended following alcohol incident

Adjusting-ness: Jody Adams, Wichita State introduce changes to women’s basketball program

“I’ve dedicated my life to building a successful program that not only wins basketball games, but prepares young women for the rest of their lives,” Adams said in the release. “I regret if my efforts to build winning teams were ever seen as disrespectful of any person. I’ll continue to look for ways that I can improve both my coaching style and technique to help us win games and improve the lives of our players every day.”

As a result of Monday’s meeting, women’s basketball players and coaches will work with a consultant in sports psychology. The release also said that players will have “enhanced open lines of communication” to athletic administrators, although specific steps were not described.

“They are starting to become like every other league,” U.S. national team coach Geno Auriemma said at training camp on Wednesday. “Players are starting to do what they think is in their best interest. Starting to think about their future. Sometimes that’s not always popular. … The league is strong and viable. It’s proven itself. New stars will pop up.”
I agree with Auriemma. I’m betting other players are just salivating at the chance to make a name for themselves and steal a roster spot. Notes Mechelle: WNBA IN GOOD HANDS AS YOUNG TALENT TAKES REINS

Right after you were allowed in to watch the last half-hour of the U.S. women’s national basketball team minicamp workout at UNLV’s Mendenhall Center this week, you were handed a yellow sheet with the players’ names on it.

NO, NAME, POS, HGT, WGT, DOB, TEAM, COLLEGE, HOMETOWN.

It was surprising that weight was listed among the headings, because you never see weight listed in an NCAA women’s basketball souvenir game program. When I asked a Team USA official about it, she said these are world-class athletes, and they should be treated as such. Amen to that.

One night nearly nine years ago still fuels members of the USA Basketball Women’s National Team, because it’s the one that got away.

Over the last 20 years the various players that have earned roster spots have compiled a ridiculous 86-1 record in major international competitions, including gold medals in the last five Olympics, a 2007 title in the FIBA Americas Championship and gold in four of the last five FIBA World Championships. That one blemish, a 75-68 loss to Russia, came in the semifinals of the 2006 FIBA World Championship, and by the organization’s own absurdly high standards the game still stands out.

“That’s what USA Basketball is at this point,” said guard Sue Bird, who just completed mini-camp in pursuit of her fourth Olympic gold medal. “It’s not a story if we win, it’s a story if we lose.”

Q: Quick observations on the posts at this camp?

Taurasi: BG [Brittney Griner] and Tina [Charles] aren’t here, and they started every game of the world championship last year. They are a huge part of what we do. But the one player I just love is Nneka [Ogwumike]. I love playing with her; I love watching her play. She gives you energy.

Bird: She’s definitely gotten better.

Taurasi: And Sylvia [Fowles] had a good three days, which I’m sure felt good to her.

Bird: Yes, she hasn’t been fully healthy for a while.

Taurasi: I was telling Coach that Syl was our best player in Beijing [the 2008 Olympics] when she was just out of college. And when you look at the teams we will have to beat to win gold, they’re the biggest in the world. There is a place for Syl, and this has been a good three days for her to get back on that track.

This week the highly-decorated girls basketball coach announced she will be retiring from Monarch as a teacher as well as a coach, leaving a giant void from a Coyotes program that has evolved into one of Class 5A’s most consistent winners under Hook’s guidance.

“I think you always come to a point in your life where you wonder if there is something else out there,” Hook said. “I’m in a good position to retire from teaching, and teaching and coaching are both full-time jobs. I asked myself if I’ve done everything in the coaching profession that I set out to do. And I feel like I have. I feel like it’s a good time for change for both me and the program.”

Joel Beck at USA Today give C.O. a shoutout: 30 Years of Honoring The Future: Former POY Chiney Ogwumike using social media to make a difference

Spend a few minutes watching Connecticut Sun forward Chiney Ogwumikes ongoing video blog series, and you’ll come away with a strong realization about the 2014 WNBA All-Star: She just gets it.

Given the ubiquitous nature of social media in the world we live in, it certainly isn’t unusual for professional athletes to turn to the likes of YouTube, Twitter and Facebook for a little shameless self-promotion. What is unique, however, is seeing an athlete using his or her viral star power or magnetic personality to try to make an actual difference in the lives of others—unless, of course, you’re Ogwumike. Then it just seems to be second nature.

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A couple of nice primetime games last night.

#8 Louisville hung around for a while, but the combo of  Loyd (2opts) and Reimer (8-8 & game changing blocks) plus poor shooting (33%) doomed the Cardinals against #4 Notre Dame. (Great crowd for TV.)

As usual, junior shooting guard Jewell Loyd led the way for Notre Dame, finishing with 20 points and seven rebounds, but this performance was more about guts than flash.

“I think everybody’s going to try to be physical with us,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “That seems to be the game plan. It was a really physical game. That was something you could see we needed to get better at.”

#2 South Carolina v. #6 Tennessee was mighty entertaining – and heartening for the Vols. When South Carolina remember that Izzy was out, they scored. When they didn’t, Tennessee kept it close. It came down to the wire – or, should I say, the endline. Dozier sealed the deal and the Gamecocks, who hadn’t beaten the Lady Vols at home since 1980 and stand 4-47 all-time against them, got the win. (Another great crowd.) Writes Mechelle: 

You hear all kinds of crazy things coming from the stands when you sit on media row. But sometimes, you also hear the absolute truth.

In Monday’s intense, riveting, entertaining, “March-is-right-around-the-corner” game between South Carolina and Tennessee, the Gamecock fans were doing all they could to emotionally power their team to firmly gain the upper hand on the Lady Vols.

Then a fan said, “This is Tennessee. They don’t go away.”

Indeed, even against the No. 2 team in the country, even without their top scorer and rebounder, even with a rotation that realistically went no deeper than six, the Lady Vols pushed South Carolina right to the wire.

But that made the Gamecocks’ 71-66 victory even a little more special. This was a high-level game with a lot on the line: the SEC’s two best teams, both unbeaten in league play, battling it out.

The SEC gave us one upset for the night, as a tight game eventually went to Mississippi, beating #13 Kentucky for the first time in six tries.

“It is a very special victory. It is a program victory,” coach Matt Insell told reporters. “I can’t put into words how satisfying it is to beat a ranked-team like Kentucky. They have had unbelievable wins all year and we beat them by eight. Our team just really went out there and took control.”

Samford gave us the second, as they took down #2 in the Southern Conference, East Tennessee State, 69-46.

“I was really pleased with our preparation,” Samford head coach Mike Morris said. “We have really good young women with good character. And when you have that, you can really challenge them in different ways and their character comes out in their work ethic and how they work through different things. I thought we did a great job of just taking care of the ball tonight. And then, when they made a run, we didn’t fold, and I thought that was big at end of the first half.”

Speaking of the Southern, the conference’s top team, #20 Chattanooga, had its second loosy-goosy game in a row, having to fight off the Mercer Bears, 56-51. The Mocs, who won their 19th SoCo title,  face ETSU next.

#5 Maryland squashed Penn State like a bug, 65-34, and got a nice, shiny Big 10 trophy for their efforts.

I’m really, really proud of this group,” coach Brenda Frese said. “Going into this season there were a lot of unknowns — young team, new conference. To be able to come out and play the way they have in these first 16 games is not easy.”

The NEC got nice and tight as Robert Morris couldn’t shake off its 3-point loss to Bryant and fell to Sacred Heart, 69-60. Bryant and Central Connecticut St. continued their winning ways.

The Central women’s basketball team took control of Monday night’s home game against St. Francis Brooklyn the way it has taken control of most games.

Trailing 16-10 and facing the second-best defense in the Northeast Conference – only Central’s own defense is better – the Blue Devils outscored the Terriers 17-2 over the final 10 minutes of the first half and cruised to a relatively easy victory, 61-43 at Detrick Gymnasium.

Graham offers up a little somethin’ somethin’ on Iowa:

“I feel we have beaten teams that are more talented than we are,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “But because we do those little things better, we have come out on top.”

This is far from the first place wherein it is suggested that what we call chemistry when it comes to sports is much closer to alchemy. It is more magic than science. It can’t be measured. It can’t be quantified. It can’t be tested. Its existence might not be a matter of faith — almost all of us have been part of a workplace, athletic team or club where people got along and have likely experienced the same when such harmony was absent. But its place in the equation of success, whether it resides closer to cause or effect, is entirely a matter of belief. The basic conundrum remains.

Do teams win because they have good chemistry?

Or do teams have good chemistry because they win?

Did you catch this piece on The real Diamond DeShields

The world might never know why Diamond DeShields left the University of North Carolina, but we do know she is ready for a new start at Tennessee.

The 2014 national freshman of the year sat down with espnW recently to discuss her decision to transfer, her relationships with Tar Heels coach Sylvia Hatchell and the Lady Vols’ Pat Summitt and Holly Warlick, and explains why she initially committed to North Carolina.

More than anything, DeShields is eager to bring closure to her decision to transfer to Knoxville. Speculation ran rampant when DeShields left the Tar Heels after her freshman season. 

Oregon State’s gain wasn’t George Fox’s loss:

Kylie Dummer was in tears following her freshman basketball season at Southridge High School in 2010, where the Skyhawks had won their fifth state title in six years.

That was when coach Michael Meek announced to the team he was leaving for a college coaching opportunity at Division III George Fox University in Newberg. The team’s previous coach, Scott Rueck, had left to take the same position at Oregon State – giving Meek an opportunity to bring his success to the collegiate level.

Now in his fifth season leading the Beavers, Rueck has taken that program to new heights. In the same time span, Meek has maintained and built upon the legacy Rueck first created at George Fox.

And in the “no, you really don’t get the idea of ethics”: Riverdale, Smyrna girls basketball teams removed from postseason

The TSSAA removed Riverdale and Smyrna from the high school girls basketball postseason on Monday following a report from a high school referee in charge of their District 7-AAA consolation game held Saturday where he said that both schools “played to lose the game.”

Both Rutherford County schools were placed on restrictive probation by the high school association for the rest of the school year and probation for the 2015-16 school year.

Both schools were fined a total of $1,500 apiece.

In the “we let our play do the talking” news: Neumann-Goretti tops Archbishop Wood for PCL title

FWIW, I’m tossing this out with a h/t to Slam: Filmmakers Seek Crowdfunding for Doc Series on Evolution of Women’s Basketball.

A feature­length documentary, Concrete Rose will use stylized interview portraits of the men and women who are the games trailblazers to tell a universal story about women’s basketball. Thematically organized around on the court play that reflect a wide range of human emotion and experience, the film seeks to reveal a larger more complex portrait of our shared love for basketball.

To be honest, the description is a little fru-fru for me.

In other history news, Ray is Catching up with Carol Blazejowski: Youth basketball, the WNBA, and reflecting on women’s basketball history

The moment stood frozen in time.

“Hi, I’m Carol glad to meet you.”

Over the years I frequently met a new officiating partner in this manner, but this was one of those situations in which I met a former player whose games I covered – a player of legendary proportions whom I virtually idolized for her achievements both on the floor and off of it in the women’s game.

“Hi, I’m Ray nice to meet you,” was the simple response.

Where do you even start when discussing the career of Carol Blazejowski?

On the Aussie front: Canberra Capitals skipper Abby Bishop signs with WNBA side Seattle Storm and

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We’ve been watching this, but it’s lovely to see “mainstream” pick it up. From the West Coast,  Mike Guardabascio of the Press-Telegram writes about the work Long Beach State coach Jody Wynn has done with the 49ers.

Wynn, now in her sixth year as the 49ers’ head coach, grew up in Southern California — Brea — and was a successful swimmer in her youth.

The child of two college athletes — her mom golfed at UCLA and her dad played football at Occidental — Wynn loved to compete from an early age, enjoying the feel of lining up in the starting blocks at junior nationals and big-event swim meets.

“Being something other than your best was not acceptable,” Wynn says. “I was in the water every day before school, after school — I always really wanted to compete to be the best.”

Good news for the Gophers: Injured star Rachel Banham to return for one more season

Speaking of the Gophers, the Scarlet Knights are their next opponent, and they need to pay attention to Cynthia Hernandez, who fills 3-point void for Rutgers women’s basketball
The Rutgers women’s basketball team is no doubt thankful for all those hours Hernandez spent in the park as the first-year junior college transfer filled a longtime void in the offense last game by becoming the first player in almost four years to make as many as five 3s in a game. She did it without missing.
Her indefinite departure is the latest in a series of player losses for USC. Deanna Calhoun left the team last year, and in November, leading scorer Ariya Crook was dismissed for violating team rules. Shortly after that, guards Destine Gibbs and Chyanne Butler also left the team.
A win AND school record: Washington’s Jazmine Davis had 25pts in a win over Colorado and becomes leading scorer in program history at 2,047.

When McKeown took the job at Northwestern seven years ago, Wildcat fans hoped he would have an immediate impact.  They were disappointed.  His first few teams were better fundamentally on the court, but that did not translate to victories. He has recruited better than his predecessors, but transfers and injuries hurt his efforts.

The real turnaround began on Nov. 15, 2012, and it happened in an office and not on the court.  On that day, McKeown signed what will likely be ranked as the best recruiting class in Northwestern history.  The class included four players – three who have become monsters on the court:  Nia Coffey, Ashley Deary, and Christen Inman. After they walked on to campus and into the starting lineup, and the Wildcats haven’t been the same since. 

Dishin’ and Swishin’ returns to cover the start of The Jenny Boucek era in Seattle

Boucek was previously a head coach from 2007 through 2009 in Sacramento, and like the Monarchs, she is inheriting a team long on veterans, that needs to get younger quickly. In this case, however, her team holds the number one overall pick in the upcoming college draft; albeit a draft many do not consider particularly strong, with no clear cut top choice.

Other questions abound, beginning with the health and return of Jackson, and the future of unrestricted free agents Tanisha Wright and Noelle Quinn. There is no denying that this year’s Storm could look significantly different than last year’s team.

Mechelle added: Boucek will lead Storm into new era – Alisha Valavanis, team’s chief operating officer, also in her first year with Seattle

New Seattle Storm coach Jenny Boucek has watched players such as Sue Bird grow up as professionals in the sport of basketball. So have I … but I’ve also watched Boucek grow up, too. When asked earlier this week about moving from her assistant’s role with the Storm, replacing Brian Agler, she talked about her evolution as a student of the game.

“This is ironic — you would understand why, because you watched my playing career — but my specialty has become more offense than defense,” Boucek said.

Boucek started in the WNBA as an unpaid assistant for Nancy Darsch and the Washington Mystics in 1999. She’s spent her career coaching in the WNBA because, she said,  “It captured my heart.” After four years starting for Debbie Ryan’s Virginia Cavaliers, graduation in 1997 found her back on the court, this time wearing a Cleveland Rockers WNBA uniform.

“Just being part of the inaugural season and seeing the potential of this league to impact the country culturally really hit home with me as a young lady. Grown women were crying at our games,” remembered Boucek. “Little girls, who were wide-eyed, now have a different perception of themselves and their potential, their dreams and their opportunities, not just in sports. They see women getting opportunities that they only knew men to have.”

Tough news for the Connecticut Sun: Chiney Ogwumike undergoes the knife
After a 2014 season that often seemed like nothing more than a comedy of errors, the Connecticut Sun received even worse news for the 2015 campaign on Thursday when forward Chiney Ogwumike underwent microfracture knee surgery. Dr. Walter Lowe, the renowned orthopedic surgeon and team physician of the Houston Texans, Houston Rockets, and University of Texas Longhorns, performed the surgery.
Oh, about those games – I’m really looking forward to #9 Oregon State v. #12 Arizona State, aren’t you? Especially now that ESPN has realized the State of Oregon is a Hoops hotbed again

It is, Mandy Close admits, like the proverbial story about the catch of a lifetime, the one in which the fish grows bigger and the catch more legendary with each telling.

Not the details of the play, mind you. Those are right there in the official record, forever immune to embellishment. There really were nine seconds left when Oregon State’s Tiffany Ducker rebounded an Oregon miss and made an outlet pass to Close in the waning moments of the game on Jan. 25, 2006. And Close, her team behind by a point, really did drive the length of the court and, with two seconds remaining, hit a layup at the same time she was fouled.

She hit the free throw, and the Beavers really beat the Ducks 63-61.

What has changed in years of spinning the story — and the story still is spun when Close and former teammates get together — is the backdrop against which it took place. 

We continue to reap the benefits of the Knicks’ losses: School Returns to Dominance, Cranking Up Music and Offense  – Levelland Loboettes Have Regained Their Winning Ways in Texas

 A large sign greets visitors to this small, windswept city in West Texas. Planted on the side of State Highway 114, about 30 miles west of Lubbock, beyond the oil rigs that rise from fallow cotton fields, the sign has borne the brunt of harsh winters and searing summers.

“Welcome to Levelland,” it reads across the top, with twin basketballs framing the words. “Home of the Loboettes.

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WAT?:

Hutchinson native Whalen stops by Crossroads

WNBA All-Star Shoni Schimmel takes in Cherokee game

Sue Bird Storm makes surprise visit to Marysville Pilchuck High School video – “Goosebumps cool.”

WATN?: Tamika Williams Overcomes Divorce, Dad’s Death

From her new office at the University of Kentucky, Tamika Williams was able to see the Wildcats volleyball team practice this season. That must have been therapeutic for someone who as a girl in Ohio played softball and volleyball before picking up a basketball.

Unfortunately, life has become more complicated for Williams, the former UConn starter — with Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Asjha Jones and Diana Taurasi — on the 2001-02 team, perhaps the greatest women’s college basketball team. 

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Another setback for LJ – which is a real bummer (especially for those of us who were looking forward to seeing her in Turkey!)

More on Milyse Lamkin: Sam Houston coach taught life lessons

Although she was devoted to developing the young athletes she coached into responsible citizens, Lamkin’s commitment to her community didn’t end at the school’s doors. Like her mother, Mildred Lamkin, she believed in making San Antonio’s East Side a better place to live. For example, she was choir director at her church.

“After basketball practice, she would go right to church,” said Sam Houston senior Dajah Thomas, who played three years on Lamkin’s basketball team. “She just helped a lot of people.”

NOW the AJC pays attention? Dream moving forward

To make the postseason in 2015 for the seventh time in the team’s eighth season will require keeping the nucleus of the squad together, as well as finding a few key parts to support the bench.

“I think we have a great foundation,” Cooper said.

A loss for those who cover women’s basketball:Longtime LA Sparks photographer Eric Wade dies

The media core who covers the Sparks every summer has got to know each other over the years. You work for different publications but you work together, and sometimes you become friends. Such was the case with Eric Wade and myself.
Eric had a calming presence, even when speaking about teams and players he was passionate about. He was funny; Just last month he and Sparks forward Jantel Lavender and I engaged in some brief jokes on Twitter. Eric was also observant and kind, and he loved photography. He was always behind the lens, shooting something.

Hats were Eric’s thing. He often wore Kangols, but sometimes opted for the dressier style, as he did the day I took this picture of him taking a picture.

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even after my fabulous trip to Omaha (with a drive by workshop with the amazing folks at the Omaha Community Playhouse), visits with various parental units book-ending an intense Summer Professional Development Institute with Early Childhood educators…and then my cable/internet access goes out (Thanks TWC!) …I find that nothing much has changed in the W. Folks are still pounding the heck outta each other and nothing seems guaranteed. Unless you’re Phoenix. (Now if that doesn’t put the kibosh on ’em, NOTHIN’ will…)

Catching up on the games I missed with Richard at WNBAlien.

On the good news side: Catch is back. (No, the pun wasn’t intended, but I’ll take it!)

Faith, fitness and a new pregame routine are allowing Tamika Catchings to perform as if she is 25 again — not 35, which is what she turns on her birthday Monday.

She scored 14 of her 25 points in the fourth quarter Thursday night, leading the Indiana Fever to a rare 82-64 blowout of the Chicago Sky at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

On the bad news side: Delisha is out. How is it possible that she is 39? Yes, I know she didn’t start with the league in ’97, but I still group her and Becky as “one of the originals.” Totally sucks. 

And yes, I was surprised when Milton was switched out of Cash. Really? Why? But, Swin Cash is happy to be in New York

On the “huh!” side, just when I thought Cappie and the Lib were on their deathbed, the revive enough to annoy the heck outta the Dream. Still, my eyes aren’t shining with joy when I think about NY.. sigh.

Looking at the standings, it’s a bit shocking to see where Chicago has landed – even with all their injuries. (I point to Indiana and coach Dunn’s effort.) The Sky has a helluva a lot of talent, and yet??? (Oh, and Delle Donne won’t attend WNBA All-Star Game.)

The same could be said for LA – and they don’t really have an injury excuse. Makes me wonder about chemistry and coaching.

It just shows that coaching in the W IS important — and hard to quantify/qualify. Just like Donovan hasn’t been the “disaster” that some folks presumed, Mike hasn’t been the Mystics’ miracle worker (yet?). Albert Lee wonders: Who will be the Washington Mystics’ best player over the next several years?

Lots to look forward in the second half of the season — especially if Augustus and Brunson return. Ditto for EDD. Games I’m looking forward to:

  • July 22: Atlanta @ Minnesota (How does the Dream hold up against the West second time through?)
  • Juy 24: Phoenix @ L.A. (This is the time for LA to make their push)
  • July 29: L.A. @ Phoenix (see above)
  • August 5: Atlanta @ Phoenix (Deja vu West Coast Test)
  • August 7: Chicago @ Minnesota (If they have their full compliment, and they’re making a run at the playoffs, this game could be key)
  • August 8: Connecticut @ New York (This game could be about draft picks and/or a playoff spot.)
  • August 10: Atlanta @ Chicago (Again, health and a run for a playoff spot could be at stake)
  • August 16: LA @ Phoenix (These two teams don’t like each other… the end of the season is approaching… playoffs are at stake…. what’s NOT to like?)

From Mechelle: WNBA first half: The good, the bad

Right now, there is no WNBA team flying higher than Phoenix, which has the best record in the league and is host to the All-Star Game on Saturday (ESPN, 3:30 p.m. ET). Now there’s some serendipity.

When the 2014 season began, defending champion Minnesota appeared to be the favorite, and the Lynx are still a threat to win it all. But they need to get healthier, and they know that the Mercury’s confidence is brimming.

Phoenix and Minnesota also have Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore leading the MVP race, along with Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry. The Dream are atop the East but are thinking bigger than that. After coming away empty-handed from three trips to the WNBA Finals, Atlanta — with Michael Cooper now as its coach — wants to get past that ceiling. 

In terms of the schedule, we are actually already past the midway point of the season. Seattle, in fact, has just 10 games left. But it’s still a good time to assess where every team is and  hand out some grades. Considering most of the league is around or below .500, it stands to reason that there’s a pretty big gap between those earning A’s and everyone else.

From Swish Appeal: How is each WNBA team faring at the All-Star break?

Speaking of the All Star Game: Albert is cranky at these decisions: 2014 WNBA All-Star Game: Sue Bird and Ivory Latta named as injury replacements. Which is a little goofy (infuriating?). Mostly, I think, because, even when they DON’T intend to, it always seems folks are blaming the players for the selection process. (Flashback to Sue Wicks’ selection). ‘sides, Sue herself is honest enough to wonder how she got the nod to attend. But, USA Basketball thinks she’s still got enough to do a feature on her: Before They Made It: Sue Bird

Nate points out the “snubs.” (Another word I dislike, ’cause it brings it to the personal, where there are always so many intangibles involved…)

Obviously, folks on Twitter weighed in about the selections almost immediately. Swish Appeal readers have already commented and voted about the matter. And I pre-emptively posted a table of statistics that should make it pretty easy to glean who I think the biggest snubs, er, candidates for replacement spots are.

With some time to think things over, let’s try to bring that together to see who are the players most deserving of a replacement spot.

Oh – and it bloody-well be a sellout so the West Coast franchises will stop ducking the responsibility for hosting the beast. (And West Coast fans can stop whining about it “always being on the East Coast.”) Put your money and your organizational skills where your mouth is, I say….

More on the game:

Can’t avoid it: Diggins an All-Star on, off the court

Not even Drake’s infatuation can throw Skylar Diggins off her game.

From Elliot: Stanford graduates Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike meet again as WNBA all stars

Nneka Ogwumike could afford to play the charitable big sister last weekend when her Los Angeles Sparks demolished Chiney Ogwumike’s Connecticut Sun 90-64 in basketball’s version of Family Feud.

While running down the court in the second half, Nneka told Chiney, “Hey, tie your shoe.”

Always the protector, Chiney recounted this week as she and her sister prepared for round two Saturday in the WNBA all-star game at US Airways Center in Phoenix.

More on the sisters from Doug: Ogwumike sisters headline WNBA All-Star reserves

Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike became the first pair of sisters to be chosen to participate in the WNBA All-Star game when the league announced the reserves on Tuesday night.

“It means the world to me because, honestly, I didn’t expect to come to the league and be able to feel like a confident player,” Chiney Ogwumike said of the honor. “You expect rookie struggles, and I have struggled at times, but I have great teammates who lift me up, and I have an organization that gives me so much confidence. And to be there alongside my sister. … I think it’s just awesome and I feel blessed.”

The sisters are amazing enough for the NY Times to have given them some space: Rivalry Begins for Sisters With Ambition – Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike, Sisters and No. 1 Picks, Face Off

Shortly after she was selected in April as the No. 1 overall pick in the W.N.B.A. draft by the Connecticut Sun, Chiney Ogwumike moved into her own apartment. During her first visit, Ify Ogwumike, Chiney’s mother, presented her second-oldest daughter with a housewarming gift that carried a not-so-subtle message, a study guide for the Graduate Record Examination.

“She put it purposely on my night stand,” Chiney Ogwumike said this month. “It’s ominous, watching me all the time.”

Brittney Griner set for 1st healthy WNBA All-Star Game

Around this time a year ago, Brittney Griner wasn’t in a good place. The Mercury center was struggling to recover from a sprained left knee and brooding over the realization that she would have to miss the 2013 WNBA All-Star Game.

Sitting out any game is no fun for an athlete. Sitting out your first All-Star Game after being voted in by the fans in your rookie season — that takes disappointment to another level.

“It sucked,” Griner said. “It definitely sucked, not being able to play and having to sit there and watch everybody else. It was horrible.”

And yes, we noticed: Griner blossoming in WNBA after rough first year

Which is why Swish Appeal has a Q&A with Diana Taurasi: Phoenix Mercury’s hot start, Brittney Griner’s improvement, the WNBA title chase

What about those Merc? Deflecting Brondello leads Mercury rise

Right, the players make the plays and it’s wise for a coach to keep everyone aware of it.

“Obviously, the organization and detailed work that Sandy’s put in every day has kind of made us really focus going into games,” Taurasi said of Brondello, a former world-class guard from Australia whom she played for in Russia the past two winters. “Knowing what we’re doing on both sides of the ball … that’s really helped.”

VIDEO: From Ben and the .com: Taurasi and Catchings (Please, please, pleeeease let them both be in Turkey!!!)

From Jayda: The Storm’s Brian Agler talks about his team and its struggles

Q: The roster has suffered a few setbacks. How do you think the team has handled adversity headed into the All-Star break?

Agler: There’s been a lot of inconsistencies with our team this year. Like a lot of teams, we haven’t had a lot of time to practice because the season is 2½ weeks shorter. … I don’t think our defense has been up to par with the (Storm) teams in the past. I see that as a lack of court time because there are some things that need practice repetition. But we talk about it and understand the importance. So, that’s our focus, to become consistent on the quality of our play.

Shoni rules the World of Jersey. (The jersey that you wear, silly!)

Speaking of Shoni, from the Journal-Courier: Schimmel, McCoughtry stick with U of L roots

Shoni Schimmel and Angel McCoughtry are enjoying their first season as teammates on the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, and the partnership of the two greatest alumnae in University of Louisville women’s basketball history will reach new heights on Saturday when they both start in the league’s All-Star Game in Phoenix.

From USA Today, David Woods asks: Who is the greatest women’s basketball player ever?

It’s easy to ignite discussion in a bar or chat room on who’s the greatest male basketball player of all time. M.J. or Kareem? Wilt or Russell? What about LeBron?

What about the female players?

That might be a more difficult conversation. Not because there aren’t candidates, but because it’s a list that can’t easily be pared.

“It’s just like the NBA or the NFL. You can’t say there’s one player because that’s how good the game is, and that’s how much it’s evolved over the years,” said Kelly Krauskopf, president and general manager of the Indiana Fever. “That’s the way it should be.”

In other news:

Catching up with Texas Tech’s “no tolerance” policy: Texas Tech reinstates Nigel Bethel II and Video of Nigel Bethel Punching Amber Battle During Texas Tech Pickup Basketball Game Emerges After Grand Jury Dismisses Charges

Cool: Sugden makes history at the Women’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championships

From Paul (who I hope to cross paths with in Istanbul): Waiting for the youth scene to catch fire in 2014

Having written last week about the various shortcomings on court at the FIBA U17 World Championship for Women, I have to confess my spirit was barely lifted by the U20 European Championship Women.

The play seemed to me at least, to be of an inferior quality to many previous editions. The Final itself, between eventual winners France and their opponents Spain, was exciting in terms of its conclusion due to the fact it went to overtime.

But, whichever way you dress it up and even taking into account the mitigation of some excellent defense – which was highlighted by Spanish senior team boss Lucas Mondelo – it was not the spectacle you would expect and epitomised much of the tournament.

From Connecticut: KML ready for senior moment

For three years, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis has talked about looking up to the likes of Kelly Faris, Bria Hartley, and Stefanie Dolson on the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team.

But the tables have now turned on the Anaheim Hills, Calif., native. She and Kiah Stokes are the only seniors on the Huskies’ 2014-15 roster.

“There is definitely a lot more pressure, and a lot more responsibility,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “But the people on this team, they take care of themselves.”

Oops and ouch: Naje Gibson, a talented women’s basketball recruit, will not attend Pitt this year as she is academically ineligible.

From the Ames Tribune: “Fab Five” freshmen add versatility, depth to ISU

Rare has been the year in Iowa State women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly’s tenure that he could call upon nine or 10 players in a given game or even play a proper five-on-five scrimmage without one team blowing out the other.

That may change this season.

More from Iowa: Polish team takes a chance on injured Poppen

Chelsea Poppens knew that her stock was down after rupturing her ACL in January during her stint in Australia and that any overseas professional team picking her up for the upcoming winter season would be taking a chance.

Lublin of the Polish league took that chance on the 6-foot-2 former Iowa State forward this week, signing Poppens for the upcoming season that starts in September, about one month after she is tentatively projected to fully recover from her injury.

More international basketball news: For Fort Gibson ex, this move requires a passport

Slowly, over the course of time, Carissa Crutchfield has drifted away from home.

That current joins with a tidal wave in a few weeks.

From Fort Gibson to Oklahoma State to the University of Arizona, Crutchfield will head to Krasnoyarsky Russia, to begin a pro basketball career. It’s Russia, but smack-dab in the middle of Siberia, 2,500 miles or a five-hour flight from the capital city of Moscow.

From the Daily Californian: Cal women’s basketball must develop role players

Depth was a major issue for the Bears last season, and it was evident in their lack of a second-string point guard to back up Boyd. When Boyd left the floor to rest or because of foul trouble, Gottlieb was forced to play Afure Jemerigbe at point guard. The Bears also had little depth behind Gray and hit lulls in scoring whenever she left the floor.

Despite losing a major cog in Brandon, Cal projects to bounce back, improving its role players as well as its main stars. Gottlieb’s quick-paced tempo complements Boyd and Gray with the Bears running up and down the court every chance they get. Gottlieb plays to the team’s strengths, allowing Boyd and other wings to gamble and trap around the perimeter to force turnovers, leading to easy buckets in transition.

Tough news from down the road:

Former Campbell Hall girls’ basketball standout Lauren Holiday has taken a medical retirement from basketball at UCLA.

She will remain with the team as an undergraduate assistant.

Holiday suffered from multiple concussions and was the subject of a Times’ story last February looking at head injuries among women athletes.

Fun stuff: Central Kitsap’s new girls basketball coach Nikki Nelson a dribbling phenom

Nelson, a Chewelah native (that’s about an hour north of Spokane if you didn’t know) was a ball-handling wunderkind and can probably still get it done today.Check out this video of Nelson performing at halftimeat a Seattle SuperSoncis game (remember them?) on April 4, 2014

More from the Courier-Journal crew: Walz ready to replace U of L women’s vets (and congrats on the munchkin, Jeff!)

On Tuesday, U of L coach Jeff Walz said his program is on task and headed in the right direction, despite the challenges presented by the departures of WNBA All-Star Shoni Schimmel, standout forward Asia Taylor and two other key seniors.

Having five freshmen ready to play is a big factor in that transition, Walz said.

“I’m really excited about where they are now and even more excited about where they’ll be in two or three months,” Walz said.

The freshman class is built around wing Mariya Moore, a McDonald’s All-American who will play for the USA under-18 team this summer. Walz is an assistant coach for that team.

A little more from Louisville: Jeff Walz summer Q&A, WNBA, newcomers, more

All right, I’m going to admit something. University of Louisville coach Jeff Walz held a news conference to update some news with his women’s basketball program today, but I got distracted by his 13-month-old daughter, Lola, during the news conference and only caught about half of what he said.

So here’s a transcript of a portion his news conference from today — with the obligatory Lola photo gallery attached

Good news in Nashville: Vanderbilt’s Rebekah Dahlman back after health scare

“I stepped off the court and I was like, ‘Something is wrong,'<TH>” Dahlman said. “I took off my arm sleeve and I just noticed that my arm was completely black and blue and very swollen. Like double the size of my left arm.”

What happened next is a blur in Dahlman’s memory. Trainers rushed her to the emergency room at the university’s medical center.

“I’m kind of freaking out,” Dahlman said. “I didn’t know what to think and didn’t know what to do.”

From Georgia’s Telegraph: Lady Vols’ Massengale eager for comeback

Tennessee is preparing to welcome back a senior point guard while monitoring the status of an ailing post player.

Ariel Massengale is looking forward to returning for her senior season after missing the final 16 games of the 2013-14 season with a head injury. Massengale, who also underwent offseason surgery on her right knee, says she’s hoping to be 100 percent by the start of the school year next month.

While Massengale awaits her return, sophomore center Mercedes Russell is recovering from offseason surgery to her right foot. Lady Vols coach Holly Warlick said Russell is out kind of indefinitely right now” and was uncertain whether the injury would affect the 6-foot-6 center’s status for the start of the season.

Sports Illustrated on a former Vol: Where are they now: Catching up with Chamique Holdsclaw

She turned herself in to the police two days later and spent a night in jail, where heckling inmates challenged her to  games of one-on-one. Holdsclaw finally decided to deal with her depression. “This wasn’t the court saying that I had to do therapy or anything of that sort,” she strains to note. “This was all me trying to get things right in my life.”

On her lawyer’s recommendation, she hired a forensic psychologist to audit her medical records; he referred her to another psychologist who, after a 15-minute review, revealed that she didn’t just have clinical depression she also had bipolar II disorder. “And I’m like, Man, you got all that in 15 minutes?”

The news was upsetting but also came as a relief. Now there was and explanation for the the emotional swings she had experienced. Furthermore, the psychologist noted, Holdsclaw was not only taking the wrong drugs to treat the wrong ailment, but also taking them at the wrong times. After switching to a new drug, Depakote, a mild mood stabilizer, and a new therapist with whom she meets with once a week, she has noticed a major difference. “Looking back,” she says, “I really should’ve been in therapy more. It’s changed my life. It’s like you come in one person and leave another.”

The fabulous Nancy Fahey and her amazing Washington U (St. Louis) program goes dunlin‘.

Dicky V is all wet:

And are the stripped shirts!

Signing off! Thank you, oh Coffee Shoppe, for your internet access….

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The game is on ESPNU & at livebasketball.tv.

US reached the finals by virtue of their win over Hungary, 91-63 (and Samuelson’s the hot-hand).

“I thought we struggled at times, and credit Hungary for really pushing the tempo offensively,” said USA head coach Sue Phillips (Archbishop Mitty H.S./San Jose Cagers AAU, Calif.). “They really had us back on our heels. I was not very happy with our defensive effort in the first half. We held them to 24 points in the second half, which is more what we are accustomed to.

“When we started to get cold from the perimeter a little bit, we pounded the ball inside,” Phillips added. “We had 50 points in the paint, which is a great number for us. They mixed up man and zone defense, and I think we showed great balance in our ability to score from the free-throw line, the paint, beyond the arc and in transition.”

Spain got there by knocking out the Czech hosts, 73-41.

FIBA has this: Spanish guard Laia Raventos gunning for gold in Final with USA

Check out the team comparison.

Couple of heart-stoppers in the W last night.

Renee Montgomery made up for a misstep on the defensive end with her basket with 5.8 seconds left to help Connecticut snap their losing streak and secure a win against Tulsa.

“It’s no fun losing,” Douglas said. “I felt like we were definitely on a skid. I just implored them to have as much energy as we possibly could. We knew we could get the job done. We went on a six-game winning streak earlier so we knew we could play at a much higher form. We took this like it was our last game.”

Question: with her sixth 30-pt game, how close is Diggins to securing MIP honors?

Kayla McBride’s play continues to show she’s gunning for rookie of the year: She answered January’s late three with her own game winning shot, pushing San Antonio to a victory and ruining Catch’s return.

It doesn’t bode well for a team in the WNBA – or in any level of basketball – when an opponent’s newbie shows poise and your own veterans do not.

The San Antonio Stars exploited the Indiana Fever’s late blunders, completing an improbable comeback in a 71-70 victory Saturday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Seattle over Chicago as Nate writes:

Bird and Langhorne shared team-high scoring honors with 19 efficient points apiece. Bird shot 7-for-13 from the field, including a big three-point play on a jumper with 1:07 left that put the Storm up 4. Langhorne had her mid-range shot going in addition to finding ways around the Sky’s larger front line to shoot 8-for-10 from the field. The combined 38 points from the Storm’s inside-outside combo is a season-high as both have had their ups and downs this season and haven’t clicked to this extent at the same time.

At home, Atlanta used a dominant second half to earn a 86-73 victory

The Dream beat the Mystics. That’s not a surprise.

But what was a surprise was that the reserves as opposed to the starters were the ones who made a key 11-2 run in the last 3 minutes and 41 seconds to close the third quarter. That was the key run to locking up this game. After Ivory Latta made two free throws to give the Mystics a 56-55 lead, Aneika Henry made a putback layup after an offensive rebound (it was the second in a row).

Finally! The Atlanta Journal Constitution notices their local team is winning: 

“We really were trying to focus on putting 40 minutes together, not to have a big lull and let teams come back,” said Atlanta assistant coach Karleen Thompson, who spoke with the media after the game because coach Michael Cooper wasn’t feeling well. “We played great defense and everyone contributed well.”

Doesn’t prevent a putz from commenting on their piece, though. I guess we’re lucky that sad excuse for a human Coulter has been so distracted by the men’s World Cup.

As the All-Star Game approaches, Swish Appeal assesses:

How well are each of the WNBA teams playing compared with expectations?

Nate offers up some midseason WNBA statistics: The Phoenix Mercury’s dominance, the Minnesota Lynx’s potential

WATN? Jenni Benningfield: U of Colorado.

And, yes! #Chillin4Charity Cold Water Challenge reaches men’s college basketball (VIDEO)

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gotten some relief, and others may be feeling toastier.

New York’s in trouble. It doesn’t matter if the score a lot of points or a few points. They’re not winning. Even more troubling? The Sun’s success might mean they get a Lottery Pick for the Charles trade. #MightComeBackToBiteYou. Oh, and adios Toni?

The Dream is in a groove and lovin’ it. (Now, if only the AJC would notice.)

The 2014 WNBA season is now in its second quarter and the Atlanta Dream is showing itself to be a legitimate contender.  But to be more specific here, that’s for the WNBA Championship, not just Eastern Conference banner. 

Indy and D.C are…surviving –  I KNOW coach Dunn and folks want Catch back, but I also know they want CATCH back. Respect their patience.

By the Great Lakes, Chicago folks are falling like flies, and it’s killin’ their mojo, but not their Pride. The All-Star break can’t come soon enough.

Is the Sun rising? Coach Donovan Knows It Takes All Kinds To Make Sun Mesh

In the West:

L.A. was making everyone wonder, que pasa? Then they met Tulsa and earned a no-longer-take-them-for-granted win.

The Lynx were rolling, but shorthanded still. Then they encountered the high-low we all expected Griner-Taurasi to be. Looks like the Merc are bringing the heat.

Seattle is making folks earn every win against ’em…. but, I’m guessing Bird would rather win than pile up stats. They do have a new COO, though: Alisha Valavanis will be leaving her post as the University of California, Berkeley’s Assistant Athletics Director of Development for Annual Giving and Alumni Relations

It’s amazing what Danielle Adams can do – unless, of course, you remember what she did in the NCAA Championship game. Doesn’t mean I don’t worry about her knees….

Some great games on today — and it’s WNBA PRIDE TIME!

 

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Shock @ Sky.

Dream @ Liberty.

Stars @ Sparks.

Fever @ Lynx.

Mystics @ Storm.

Just a thought about Mechelle’s piece The WNBA’s Pride predicament. It’s amazing what happens to my heart when I read the players tweeting their support of WNBA Pride. For those of us who have journeyed with the players, fans, coaches and owners within the league, we know what a seismic moment this is. We’ve been frustrated, logical, realistic, impatient, hurt, embarrassed and sensitive to others. And yet, here we are: WNBA PRIDE.

This year, the league is acknowledging that fan base with a first-ever multi-media campaign: WNBA Pride, Presented by COVERGIRL. Nine teams are hosting a pride-themed game including the Chicago Sky, whose match up against the Shock on ESPN2 Sunday will be the first nationally-televised such game in professional sports.

Wicks, who came out before her retirement in 2002 when a reporter asked her if she was a lesbian, called the WNBA’s pride campaign “fantastic.”

“There have always been gay and lesbian fans at WNBA games,” she said. “It’s nice for fans of the community to be recoginzed for their support.”

For some reason, I’m flashing back on Whoopi Goldberg’s Broadway show (1985) where a character said, “Love isn’t smilin’ at people with your face and squintin’ at them with your heart.”

Here’s hoping that, wherever you draw your personal code of morals, ethics and/or intra and inter-personal behaviors from, you can agree with this: judge people by the “content of their character.”

In other news: More games to watch in you’re in Toronto: Welcome to the 2014 Women’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championship.

Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States all remain undefeated after two days of play at the 2014 Women’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championship at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto, Ont.

AND they’re putting up big numbers. The games are streamed.

Speaking of international play… The lil bits (aka, the U17 team) was in a dogfight with the Canadian team… end then they zoomed away in the fourth.

The medium bits (aka the U18 team) will reassemble at the USOTC for training camp July 25-August 5. You can watch them play for FREE in Colorado Springs, August 6-10.

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Florida:

For the past few days, dozens of women’s basketball coaches across the country have willingly let their players, fellow coaches, or administrators dump buckets of ice cold water over the heads.

Friday, Miami coach Katie Meier became one of the latest to let herself get soaked as part of the #Chillin4Charity campaign that is raising money for the Kay Yow Fund

Here’s how it works: 

After being called out be a fellow coach, a coach has 48 hours to complete the Cold Water Challenge by allowing a bucket of ice water to be dumped over their head. Once the challenge is completed, the challenging coach donates $50 to the Kay Yow Fund. If a challenged coach fails to complete the challenge within 48 hours, he or she must donate $250 to the charitable fund, named in honor of former N.C. State women’s basketball coach Kay Yow who died in 2009 after a third bout with breast cancer.

You can follow the Icey Cold Water Dumpings on twitter at #Chillin4Charity. (Hmmmm…. I’m surprised there is the @Chillin4Charity… hint, hint)

Jayda:

Red Raiders:

Michigan

Seattle Storm:

Will The Bun chicken out??

And speaking of the Land of the Bun, the Land of the Sun and fundraising opportunities: What are folks doing during the WNBA All Star Game in Phoenix? They SHOULD be CHILLIN4CHARITY!

Oh, and speakin’ folks who could be chillin’ – Where’re my Division II, Division III and NJCAA champeens at?

FDU-Florham: You were the first women’s team from New Jersey ever to win a national collegiate basketball championship AND you were perfect in your run to the top. How else would a New Jersey team celebrate a championship but make coach Marc Mitchell “swim with the ice fishes”?

Bentley: YOU were perfect in your run to the top. Doesn’t your coach, Barbara Stevens, deserve to “chill” after you had to come back from a 9-pt deficit to win?

Trinity Valley: You had one blemish on your run to the top, but have won back-to-back-to-BACK titles. Take a load off and chill with your championships, coach Elena Lovato.

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First, I take a break from work (yes, it was a looooong day) and walk over to the Garden to yell for my team against Liberty-West. And then I realize I have to yell AT my team to “GUARD THAT #7 PERSON!” (Jia Perkins, who is lighting it up this season — or is it just against NY?).

The first half was a heck of a lot of fun, with both teams hitting shots and playing little, if any defense. And then *cue the horror music* came the third period. Lordy, the Lib are awful on defense. They’re slow to close out on the perimeter shooters (no speed, no willingness to get over/through screens) and have no defensive smarts or communication in the paint. Just give-and-go, back-door’em to death, y’all.

Which is exactly what San Antonio did. But Billie Jean King was there, so that was a good thing…

Kayla McBride looks like a seasoned vet. Her intensity is driven into the court, not the stands. We’ll see how she does once the WNBA folks get real W game tape on her, but she’s quick, fast and fearless.

Then Kia (who is trying to make a liar outta me (it’s a twitter thing)) leads the Mystics over the Sun.

THEN the still Catch-less Fever rally from 16 down to defeat the ‘stics.

Then TULSA whips Phoenix and gets their first win of the season. (Dish ‘n Swish on Digg)

Then SEATTLE trips up Minnesota, giving the Lynx their first loss of the season.

Then LA wakes up and gives Chicago their first thumping of the season.

(I fly to Minnesota to present at a conference, where the Lynx aren’t, but I DO meet a first-year season ticket holder while attending a Claudia Schmidt concert.)

Then Atlanta gives Chicago their SECOND thumping of the season.

Then Alex Bentley (!) leads Connecticut over a tired Indiana Fever.

Then Phoenix outscored San Antonio 14-2 in the second overtime to secure the win.

Don’t know about you, but I’m POOPED. (Could be that I’m sleeping in the wrong time zone.) I guess the lesson is: Buckle up! It’s going to be a bumpy ride this WNBA season. And maybe it’s RICHARD’s turn to carry the WHB jinx: Lynx And Sky Overcome Obstacles To Start Strong In WNBA, Plus Ups And Downs From Around The League

Oh, and SWEET!

 

 

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Well, not so much if you’re a Sparks fan, but HEY, what a great game to have on ESPN, no? Debbie must have been thrilled: the Sparks shot 48% and the Dream 53%.  Atlanta had a RIDICULOUS 68 pts. in the paint (and Shoni added 7 assists).

Langhorne is still gettin’ her groove on, but Bird’s cold night against the balanced Mercury doomed Seattle. 

In wise news: Fordham held on to coach Gaitley.

In sad news: Texas A&M-Commerce players Aubree Butts and Devin Oliver died in a Tuesday car crash.

“This is an unspeakable tragedy and a loss that is felt by the entire university community,” A&M-Commerce President Dr. Dan Jones said in a release. “It is made more grievous by the dreams that will not be fulfilled. Our prayers go out to the loved ones of those we have lost.”

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Not.

And I’m sure it hurts more ’cause the Storm escaped the Shock, 62-60. There’s no doubt Tulsa IS better, but they’re still 0-5. 

“We just need to continue to work hard,” Shock coach Fred Williams said. “It’s better being in close games than blowouts. I think this team is really learning over the course of the season. We’re a team that when we step on the floor, we want to be competitive for 40 minutes and I think we’re establishing that right now.”

If Cappie and Tina can get into a groove at the same time, and the team can figure out how to stop turning the ball over and giving the opposition easy baskets, then maybe people will be concerned about Lib. Until then, they can’t beat a Tamika-less Fever. (And, after a nice opening game v. Chicago, I’m getting worried about Essence.) In the meantime, Sue Favor is writing about Delisha Milton: Veteran Delisha Milton-Jones still a factor in the WNBA

Proving the adage “it’s not how much you score but WHEN you score,” Ivory Latta helped the Mystics to an important triple-overtime win over visiting Los Angeles. Of note:

Led by Hartley and Dolson, the Mystics reserves outscored their counterparts 63-10. Monique Currie and Jelena Milovanovic each scored 12 points.

Also, Toliver is saying Здравствуйте! for a while (She’s doin’ professional basketball stuff in another country.) Tough for LA – ’cause Candice Wiggins just had knee surgery.

Not quite the start to the season the Dream were hoping for, but I’m betting they had a win marked in their calendars when they went up against the oh-so-struggling Sun. Whoops.

Maya cooled off… a bit (“only” 18 points). But Seimone picked up the slack (25pts), helping the Lynx fend of the troublesome Stars.

Debbie Antonelli was happy. The Merc scored 100 and the Sky score 101.

And look who’s going to be on the *gack* Bachelorette tonight?

Mechelle’s got something to say: Lynx still No. 1, but East teams climb

The Lynx appear to be in cruise control already, while the Shock are looking for a little stretch of home cooking to help them get off the schneid. Those are our first and last teams in the Week 3 WNBA power rankings, the same as a week ago. In between, though, there were some big moves. (We’re looking at you, Washington and Indiana.)

As June gets underway and WNBA teams really start to jell, things will get interesting. Expect more movement. But will someone strongly challenge the defending champion Lynx? Well, they play five of their next six games on the road, so we’ll see.

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FINALLY!!! This has been a pretty delightfully ridiculous winter/spring, but worth every hard, exasperating, inspiring moment. And getting a chance to walk up a mountain and see these gentlemen?

8969_Cerulean_Warbler_04-28-2012_6

Cerulean Warbler

 

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Hooded Warbler

Well, that just puts the cherry on top.

Oh, and the W season is about to start, and the Lib are BACK in the Garden and BACK in black… Let us see what magic Trader Bill has wrought.

The start of the season means it’s preview-pa-looza time.

Over at WNBAlien, Richard is back with a vengeance:

WNBA 2014 Last Minute Awards and Season Predictions

MVP

It seems like a relatively short list of candidates this year, compared to usual. Someone like Tina Charles or Tamika Catchings might be in the fold again if their teams do surprisingly well, but otherwise I see five likely possibilities: Elena Delle Donne in Chicago; Angel McCoughtry in Atlanta; Maya Moore in Minnesota; Candace Parker (again) in LA; and Diana Taurasi in Phoenix.

WNBAlien Special – Grading the Trade Catchup: Charles forces her way to New York, Sun make the best of it

The biggest news of the WNBA’s draft night this year had nothing to do with the players being selected.

WNBA 2014 In-Depth Previews: Tulsa Shock

The rebuilding – or just ‘building’, if you don’t count the Detroit variant of the franchise – continues for yet another year in Tulsa. They’ll tell you they’re aiming for the playoffs, but it’s going to be hard work achieving that barring some serious collapses elsewhere in the West.

WNBA 2014 In-Depth Previews: Seattle Storm

I may have been the only person on Earth who predicted the Storm would make the playoffs last season (I kept pointing it out when analysts claimed no one had, because it’s nice to be right once in a blue moon).

WNBA 2014 In-Depth Previews: San Antonio Stars

San Antonio’s season last year was an uphill struggle from the beginning. Sophia Young (now Young-Malcolm after her marriage) tore her ACL before the season even began, and Becky Hammon played a grand total of 12 minutes before suffering the same fate. Any team, shorn of their two veteran leaders and best players, would’ve struggled from that point on. So given that both are now back in the fold, the youngsters have an extra year of experience, and there’s another high draft-pick to add to the mix, they should bounce right back to being the 21-13 team from 2012, right? Well, maybe.

WNBA 2014 In-Depth Previews: Phoenix Mercury

After being the darlings of many experts and fans in preseason a year ago, the Mercury have been lost in the shuffle a little bit this time around.

WNBA 2014 In-Depth Previews: Minnesota Lynx

At some point, there’s not much more to say about the Minnesota Lynx. If you’re reading this, you probably watched them play last year, and the year before, and the year before that – you’ve seen how overwhelming they can be. 

WNBA 2014 In-Depth Previews: Los Angeles Sparks

The Sparks were a very good team last year. They had their flaws, and some ugly nights, but based on points per possession over the course of the regular season they were the second-best offensive team in the league, and the second-best defensive team. Of course, with the way American sports works, their season was defined by the disappointing first-round playoff exit at the hands of Phoenix, rather than any success they’d had before that point. 

WNBA 2014 In-Depth Previews: Washington Mystics

After a couple of embarrassingly terrible years, Mike Thibault took over and made this franchise respectable again last season. He turned over half the roster, created a cohesive and deep team, and just flat-out got them playing again. 

WNBA 2014 In-Depth Previews: New York Liberty

There are lots of positives for the New York Liberty heading into this season….So why does it still feel like this team has a lot more questions than answers circling around it going into 2014?

WNBA 2014 In-Depth Previews: Indiana Fever

While there is turmoil everywhere else, the Indiana Fever, Tamika Catchings and Lin Dunn just keep chugging along, showing up and winning games. That said, 2013 was a difficult season for Indiana.

2014 WNBA In-Depth Previews: Connecticut Sun

Well if we thought Chicago’s offseason was messy, welcome to a team where a bomb went off.

WNBA 2014 In-Depth Previews: Chicago Sky

Last year was meant to be the breakthrough for the Chicago Sky… It’s kind of a shame that the offseason hasn’t managed to carry that positivity through to 2014.

WNBA 2014 In-Depth Previews: Atlanta Dream

Dream fans were starting to get a little worried early in the 2014 offseason. For a squad that had reached the WNBA Finals in three of the last four years, there was still a clear weakness in perimeter shooting that needed to be addressed, and some question marks around their guard corps.

Not to be outdone, Swish Appeal offers:

2014 WNBA Eastern Conference Predictions and 2014 WNBA Western Conference Predicted Standings

2014 WNBA: Michael Cooper era for Dream begins Friday night against Stars

Phoenix Mercury Media Day: Videos, notes, and how this team more self aware than last years incarnation

WNBA Friday Game Preview and Open Thread: Five games start at 7 p.m., three on NBA TV

The .com has Top Storylines of the 2014 WNBA Season and the always insightful 2014 WNBA.com GM Survey 

And what say the ESPN experts? 2014 WNBA season predictions

New to the scene Andrew Lovell writes: Ogwumike ready to start pro career – No. 1 draft pick helps lead young Sun squad into Friday’s season opener

Chiney Ogwumike stood near the free throw line, hands planted firmly on the hips of her 6-foot-4 frame.

Sweat dripped from her braids down to the already-saturated white WNBA headband as she listened to every word leaving Katie Douglas’ mouth.

It wouldn’t be fair to say Ogwumike was angry. But you better believe she wasn’t pleased.

Mechelle says the Dream are favorite in the East

At some point, we might start wondering if the Atlanta Dream have “Alydar” syndrome. For you youngsters, that’s the horse that finished second to Affirmed in all three Triple Crown races in 1978.

Alydar was a very talented colt, good enough that he could have won the Triple Crown himself. It was just his bad luck he happened to be 3 years old at the same time as Affirmed.

Michelle says the Lynx are in front of pack in tough West

The WNBA is at its best in the West again in 2014.

There can be little argument that the power in this league continues to lie in the Western Conference, but there might be some argument about which West team reigns supreme.

Minnesota — its star-studded roster largely intact — is coming off another impressive title run, a sweep in the WNBA Finals against Atlanta last fall that sets up the Lynx as the early favorites to repeat.

And yes, brilliant headline writer: Bird’s return should bolster Storm

Sue Bird is a believer in chemistry. To a point.

“Sure, you have teams that might be less talented that can get farther than a team with more talent because they know how to play together,” Bird said. “But there’s definitely a happy medium. We want to have both.”

As the Seattle Storm retool for a new WNBA season and prepare for a brutal opening stretch, a happy medium would probably suit them just fine.

Another newbie, Melissa Isaacson adds: Stronger Delle Donne ready for tipoff- WNBA’s 2013 Rookie of the Year remained in Chicago, bulked up in offseason

At 6 feet, 7 inches and roughly 300 pounds, Miles Bankston was his usual formidable obstacle in Elena Delle Donne’s path, but common sense and team protocol dictated he not flip the franchise player on her head as she drove toward him 10 days before the season opener.

Last year it would not have mattered because Delle Donne would have avoided contact, team scrimmage or otherwise, and settled for her patented fadeaway jumper.

“This time,” Chicago Sky assistant coach Christie Sides said with a satisfied smile, “she turned the corner, hit the big boy and finished over him.”

A little video: Mechelle & Michelle: WNBA Players To Watch

A little audio: Roundtable previews the WNBA (The roundtable consists of theSeattle Times’ Jayda Evans, Bluestar Media’s Wendy Parker, and Fox Sports’ Cindy Brunson. Dishin & Swishin’s David Siegel is the host.)

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