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

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

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

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

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

Social Reaction: Swin Cash’s Retirement

Film Room: Running Down a Dream

Candace Parker Provides Perfect Spark

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

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

NCAA

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

High/Middle School

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

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

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

WBHOF

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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So, yeah, there’s this thing going on: Players saying their coaches are so mean they’re either leaving their programs or suing them.

Chicago/Swoopes: Ex-Loyola players say Sheryl Swoopes’ coaching methods behind mass transfers

ISU/Fennelly: FENNELLY WOULD CHANGE “NOTHING” IN HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH MOODY

Illinois/BollantBollant speaks for the first time since allegations

Nebraska/YoriNatalie Romeo denies Yori allegations, gets permission to transfer; another Husker looking at schools

Duke/McCallie: Duke investigating McCallie’s basketball program

Kentucky/Mitchell: The Kentucky women’s basketball crisis and the battle over culture

College of Charleston/Jackson: Former women’s basketball player sues College of Charleston

SFA/Kellogg: SFA officials investigating complaint made by Ladyjack basketball player

 

First, I’m not quite sure I’m loving some of this “kids these days” reactions. Not only did we raise these kids, but we created the environment they’re playing in: travel teams, *fillintheblanksportscompany*  gear, pretty locker rooms, rating systems and a society that seems to value athletic skill over personal virtue.

Who wouldn’t struggle to keep their head on straight when faced by that wave of privilege?

“Kids these days” is the reality you’re dealing with. It IS a different world – and looking back to the “golden” past (some of it real, some of it mythologized) won’t help you figure out what actions you need to take with the players in front of you.

Second, it smacks of the dismissive “why don’t they just suck it up and get over it” mentality that undermines those who try to speak up against abuse, it whatever form it takes (Summitt/LaTech & Chinn/FIU come to mind). It moves to accepting the phrase “PC” as a pejorative.

For me, “politically correct” is the radical assumption that an individual can recognize that there are power dynamics in the world and that they are manifested in language and behavior. For me, being sensitive to those those dynamics doesn’t make you weak. It challenges me to be thoughtful and intentional in my practice. It asks me to consider the consequences of my actions before and after I take them. It’s hard and annoying and exhilarating and confusing and, sometimes, threatening and humiliating as I recognize behavior and patterns that don’t necessarily fill me with pride.

Coaches are often held up as educators. Now, there are all sorts of educators – with different styles and pedagogy. (And I’m guessing that we can agree that some of what happens in a gym would be unacceptable in a classroom – that, itself, is an interesting discussion). And, as educators, it’s not just what you know. How you share it makes a difference, too, because learning is an emotional, physical and intellectual process.

Coaches know this – you often hear them talking about “what works for this player doesn’t work for that player.” Sometimes it’s called “pushing buttons.”

Well, sometimes the buttons we push are the wrong buttons. And as educators… as the adults in the room, it’s on us to reflect, “What was my role? If I could do it over again, could I have done it differently? How will this impact my decisions and practice moving forward?”

Hey, maybe you wouldn’t change a thing. And please, don’t mistake my intent. I’m not advocating that folks avoid honesty, hard truths, pushing folks, being direct etc. Again, being sensitive and respectful is. not. being. weak. In fact, it requires a certain amount of courage to say, “Huh. By my actions, I made someone feel a certain way. Am I okay with that?”

How you answer that question determines your next steps.

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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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How much fun was THAT?

Upset 1: DePaul over Louisville, 73-72

Graham: Bruno ball does it again as DePaul reaches another Sweet 16 and  How DePaul knocked out third-seeded Louisville

DePaul wasn’t sure where it was going on the first possession of a second-round game against Louisville, confusion on the tip resulting in an over-and-back violation, but the Blue Demons know where they’re going now. The Sweet 16 awaits after a 73-72 win.

The Blue Demons found their bearings and roared to another hot first half in the tournament, then held on for dear life against the Cardinals and most of a crowd of 7,515 in the KFC Yum! Center.

Swish Appeal: 

“We’re not sitting completely engaged in the process, as I always tell them. You can’t cheat it.” Coach Walz discussed his team’s performance, “You cheat the process, you’re going to get beat. It might work for you for a while, but eventually it’s going to catch up with you. And that’s really what took place tonight.”

Jonathan Lintner: ‘50-50 call’ dooms U of L in DePaul defeat and  Cards’ comeback comes up short against DePaul

Louisville women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz presented his team two options heading into Sunday: Play better defense and move on to the Sweet 16, or pack up this season and start immediately working for the next.

The No. 3 seed Cardinals received the message too late in the going to salvage their NCAA tournament run…

Josh Abner, AP: DePaul beats Louisville 73-72 behind January’s 25 points

Jessica January’s strong start put her team ahead but it was her last point that sent DePaul to the Sweet 16.

Upset 2: Mississippi State over Michigan State
Michael Bonner, Lansing State Journal: Season ends in agony for MSU women

 A contest that included 51 fouls ended with an official review. Just not the review Michigan State desired.

The officials met at the scorer’s table as Mississippi State’s band played its fight song after a 74-72 victory in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Spartans laid sprawled across the court in the disappointment of defeat.

Tommy Lopez, AP/WCBI.com: Mississippi State Women’s Basketball On To Sweet 16 After Win Over Michigan State

Mississippi State’s Breanna Richardson had made a grand total of two 3-pointers this season before catching a pass and launching a 20-footer in the most important minute of her team’s most important game.

There was never any hesitation. It looked good the entire way.

It went in.

And it was the defining play in fifth-seeded Mississippi State’s victory over No. 4 seed Michigan State.

Lady Bulldogs knock off Michigan State 74-72 in the second round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

“I couldn’t be prouder today,” Mississippi State women’s head basketball coach Vic Schaefer. “We played a heck of a basketball game against an unbelievable opponent, Michigan State. They are a tremendous basketball team, well coached. They are resilient and tough. “I say all of that and our kids were a little bit more. I couldn’t be prouder of the toughness our kids showed today.”

Upset 3: Tennessee over Arizona State. A Phoenix Grows In Arizona?

Or, as Dan Fleser writes:

Tennessee blossomed in the desert Sunday night.

The Lady Vols summoned their best team effort of the season. They looked nothing like a No. 7 seed in a 75-64 NCAA tournament victory over No. 2 seed Arizona State at Wells Fargo Arena.

Diamond DeShields scored a game-high 24 points for Tennessee (21-13), which shot 51.8 percent from the floor (29-for-56) and never trailed after the first quarter.

Mechelle: 

A little less than a month after it looked as if Tennessee’s season was going down in infamy — with the possibility of the Lady Vols not making the NCAA tournament for the first time — they are instead headed back to the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16.

Tennessee has experienced a lot of lows in 2015-16, so the Lady Vols had to relish Sunday’s 75-64 upset of No. 2 seed Arizona State on the Sun Devils’ home court at Wells Fargo Arena.

Swish Appeal: Victory is Sweet (16): Deshields, Tennessee knockout ASU

Scott Mammoser, Examiner: Tennessee wins grueling NCAA second round game at Arizona State

For the 34th time in the 35-year history of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship, the Sweet 16 will include the Tennessee Lady Volunteers. Coming in as the underdog, the seventh-seeded Lady Vols (21-13) won at second-seeded Arizona State (26-7) in the second round Sunday, 75-64, behind Diamond DeShields’ 24 points.

“Any time we had any kind of miscue, they took advantage of it in any way,” said ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne, whose team fell to Florida State in the Sweet 16 in 2015. “We did not play our best basketball. It was a great challenge and a fun game.”

No upset (but you were thinking it): Ohio State over West Virginia, 88-81

Mechelle: How Kelsey Mitchell went wild to lift Ohio State

Ohio State made it to the Sweet 16 for the eighth time in program history, but it took a huge effort from the Buckeyes sophomore guard Kelsey Mitchell. No surprise there: She specializes in that.

Mitchell scored 45 points as the No. 3 seed Buckeyes held off No. 6 seed West Virginia 88-81. It was the fourth-highest total in an NCAA tournament women’s game, following Drake’s Lorri Bauman with 50 in the 1982 Elite Eight, Texas Tech’s Sheryl Swoopes with 47 in the 1993 championship game, and Stanford’s Jayne Appel’s 46 in the 2009 regional final.

Eleven Warriors: 

Ohio State has a special basketball player that many are taking for granted. Sophomore Kelsey Mitchell is rewriting the Buckeye record books and somehow flying a bit under the radar on the greater OSU sports landscape.

It would be a lie to say Mitchell is doing it quietly, as she is quite well known by those who follow women’s hoops. But, compared to the big revenue sports, Mitchell’s media footprint isn’t nearly what her talents merit.

The Lantern: Ohio State women’s basketball capitalizes on West Virginia’s mistakes, punches ticket to Sweet 16

The Ohio State women’s basketball team nearly limped into the NCAA tournament following a pair of excruciating end-of-the-season overtime losses, a semifinal exit from the Big Ten tournament and an untimely injury to senior guard Ameryst Alston.

The odds of advancing deep in the NCAA tournament are usually unfavorable to teams that have problems pile up in March, but the Buckeyes have been resilient despite facing adversity. On Sunday afternoon at St. John Arena, the pressure was at its peak with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line.

Despite a back-and-forth struggle with sixth-seeded West Virginia, the Mountaineers eventually fell victim to their plethora of turnovers, with the 27th and final one pounding the nail in their coffin.

Kelsey Mitchell’s 45 points lead Ohio State to first Sweet 16 since 2011

Mitchell’s 45 points lift Buckeyes past error-prone West Virginia

“It’s hard to guard somebody when they keep coming at you,” said WVU coach Mike Carey. “It puts a lot of pressure on the referee because she comes right at you. I don’t know what you’re supposed to do as a defensive player. I don’t know, just stop? Hopefully they charge, but I don’t know what you’re supposed to do.

“We can’t let people go to the line 22 times. I’m not saying they were bad calls, I’m not saying that. It’s just tough to defend when someone comes straight at you off a drive.”

Can’t retire yet Jim Massie.

As seeded: Syracuse over Albany

Lindsay Kramer, Syracuse.com: Syracuse women’s basketball beats Albany to earn trip to NCAA Tournament Sweet 16

The Syracuse University women’s basketball team is going to its first NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 in program history.

Syracuse (27-7) punched that ticket with a 76-59 win over Albany in a Sioux Falls Regional second-round game in the Carrier Dome.

Brittney Sykes led the way for SU with 24 while Alexis Peterson had 22.

TWC News: UAlbany Women’s Basketball Ends NCAA Tournament Run with Loss to Syracuse

“A lot of people didn’t believe we would make it this far,” senior Shereesha Richards said. “And we have we beat the odds. And it’s sad that we lost but we have accomplished so much this year and there’s more positive to look on then there is negative.”

Albany Times Union: UAlbany women’s season ends with 76-59 NCAA loss at Syracuse

The magical season for the University at Albany women’s basketball team has ended, and with it the careers of seniors Shereesha Richards and Erin Coughlin.

Syracuse overcame a sluggish start and forced UAlbany into 23 turnovers Sunday afternoon en route to a 76-59 victory over the Great Danes in a second-round game of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament in front of 3,832 at the Carrier Dome.

As seeded: Oregon State over St. Bonaventure, 69-40 (though the first half was if-ish for the Beavers).

Gina Mizell, Oregoninan: Oregon State cruises past St. Bonaventure 69-40 to advance to Sweet 16

It was over when: The Beavers scored the first seven points of the third quarter to quickly push its lead to 38-21. That only foreshadowed the dominant period to come for OSU, outscoring the Bonnies 21-4 as its advantage grew to as many as 27 points when freshman reserve Taylor Kalmer drilled a three-pointer in the final minute of the period.

Gary Horowitz, Statesman-Journal: OSU seniors secure Sweet 16 berth in final home game and Oregon State women heading to Sweet 16

“What a night,” OSU coach Scott Rueck said. “We’ve been waiting for this and for the opportunity. I’m so proud of this team. I couldn’t be happier for them.”

The memory of a painful second-round loss to Gonzaga at Gill last season was a source of motivation for OSU the entire season.

“It feels better this year for sure,” said senior guard Jamie Weisner, who scored a game-high 23 points. “I think last year at this time I was in the locker room crying. It was over.

Building the Dam: Oregon State Rolls On To Sweet 16

It was a grind early, as Oregon State shot terribly to start the game, making only 4 of their first 15 shots, including missing 7 in a row at one point, and though the Beavers never trailed, they only opened a 5 point, 13-8 lead when Marie Gulich got a put back basket at the buzzer.

But there were 2 key takeaways from the early going. Oregon State got balance, with points from 4 starters, Ruth Hamblin, Gabriella Hanson, Sidney Wiese, and Jamie Weisner in their first 4 baskets. It was an indication of the balance that would strain St. Bonaventure all evening.

Swish Appeal: Weisner’s ‘enormous presence’ looms large for OSU

Takin’ Care of Business!

Baylor stomped all over Auburn.

Stephen Hawkins, AP: Baylor women rout Auburn to make another Sweet 16

With Nina Davis open in the middle, everything went just as planned for the Baylor women. and they are going to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the eighth year in a row.

Davis scored a season high-matching 30 points, and freshman post Kalani Brown had 16 points as the Lady Bears beat the Auburn press all night while avoiding being trapped in an 84-52 victory Sunday.

WacoTrib: Lady Bears ease by Auburn

Matthew Stevens, Montgomery Advertiser: Unbearable! Baylor dominates Auburn 84-52 in NCAA Tournament

Baylor didn’t waste any time in ending all hope for an Auburn upset Sunday night.

The top seeded Lady Bears scored 19 of the first 21 points as Auburn lost 84-52 in a 2016 NCAA Tournament second round game at the Ferrell Center. The loss represented the largest margin of defeat for Auburn throughout the entire 2015-16 season.

South Carolina stomped all over Kansas State.

David Cloninger, The State: Mitchell super as Gamecocks beat Kansas State, head to Sweet 16

Didn’t think she’d leave that red cape home this time of year, did you? 

As she has throughout her career, South Carolina’s Tiffany Mitchell saved the Gamecocks’ day in a 73-47 rout of Kansas State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday. 

The one they call “Superwoman” took over when SEC Player of the Year A’ja Wilson was on the bench with two quick fouls in the first quarter, scoring 16 first-half points and directing USC once more into the Sweet 16.

One by one, South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley took her five seniors out for rim-rattling ovations from a crowd of 10,048.

“Because we’re playing our best basketball,” Staley said Sunday night after a 73-47 rout of Kansas State in a second-round NCAA Tournament game, “we afforded ourselves the chance to be able to salute and honor our seniors in that manner.”

We knew it was going to be a long shot. South Carolina came into this one with one loss all season, to top-ranked UConn (a game they lost by only 12 points). The Lady Gamecocks are GOOD, talented and well coached. And, thanks to NCAA venue procedure for women’s basketball, they even get to play at home. So the deck was already stacked.

That K-State was only down by five at the end of the first quarter was actually fairly impressive.

WNIT:

Ohio (MAC) over Virginia Tech (ACC), 64-57… reminder, the Bobcats won the regular season title…and this is their second WNIT win. Ever.

Virginia (ACC) over (and at) Rutgers (Big 10), 71-55. Pretty disappointing post-game comment from coach Stringer: “We should’ve just taken a forfeit.” Virginia highlights:

Temple (American) over (and at) Quinnipiac (MAAC), 64-62.

South Dakota (Summit) over (and at)  Banham Minnesota (Big 10), 101-89…reminder, the Coyotes won the regular season title.

 It’s a well-known fact that Rachel Banham has had one of the best careers that you can have, and that she alone can cause problems, but South Dakota wanted to prove that they were a formidable force, too.

They did just that, and now the Coyotes have a chance to get some revenge for an early-season loss against Northern Iowa.

Monday Games:

6:30: Indiana v. Notre Dame – Ready or not, Indiana gets shot at Notre Dame
6:30: Washington v. Maryland – Maryland, Washington: Opposites attract in 2nd round women’s matchup
6:30: Oklahoma v. Kentucky – Previewing the Sooners’ NCAA Tournament game vs. Kentucky
6:30: Florida State v. Texas A&M – Texas A&M’s Howard and FSU’s Thomas key in 2nd round matchup

9:00: UConn v. Duquesne – Duquesne coach Burt says key is not to let UConn ‘dominate your soul’,
9:00: Missouri v. Texas – Texas Aims to Climb Missouri’s Tall Wall
9:00: South Florida v. UCLA – UCLA women must slow down South Florida’s Courtney Williams in second round
9:00: South Dakota State v. Stanford – Michelle: Jackrabbits jump at chance to battle Stanford for Sweet 16 spot

Tulane v. Georgia Tech, 7PM
Wake Forest v. Florida Gulf Coast, 7PM
Ball State v. Saint Louis, 8PM
Tennessee-Martin v. Western Kentucky, 8PM
Arkansas State v. UTEP, 9PM
Utah v. Gonzaga, 9PM
Fresno State v. Oregon, 9PM

In other news:

WATN? Former WNBA Ball Handling Queen Shannon Bobbitt coming to town

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL HISTORY

I know about Ora Mae Washington… but too many people do not. Thank you to Steven J. Niven at The Root for doing some much needed research and laying out some of her story. Queen of the Courts: How Ora Washington Helped Philly ‘Forget the Depression’ 

Philadelphians had little to cheer about in the winter of 1932. Over 250,000 people—a quarter of the workforce—were unemployed, many more were working part time, and thousands had lost their savings with the collapse of several banks. For black Philadelphians, the Great Depression was even worse. Only 13 percent enjoyed full-time employment, 45 percent were unemployed and 42 percent worked only part time. More than one-third of black families were on poor relief, and in one African-American neighborhood, two-thirds of the homes had no indoor plumbing and half had no central heating

But that February and March of 1932, amid the economic gloom and real suffering, black Philadelphians were gripped by a basketball tournament to determine the best African-American women’s team in the city, as well as the nation. The local black newspaper perhaps exaggerated in promising the matchup between the Germantown Hornets and the Philadelphia Tribunes would make the city “forget the Depression,” but the same ad was surely correct in describing the series as a battle between “two of the greatest girl players in the world”: Inez Patterson of the Tribunes and Ora Washington of the Hornets.

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brought some interesting games. But first, did you catch ESPN’s Top Basketball Moment of 2015?

And Babcock McGraw: Celebrating 2015’s best women’s sports stories?

Now, about those games…

Looking at the Maryland game tape for ways to beat the Huskies? Might have to burn it. The UConn-Cinncinatti game saw Georgetown transfer/Big East Freshman of the Year Natalie Butler finally make her debut…and it was pretty.

Speaking of Maryland in the paint: Brionna Jones led the initially sluggish Terps over Illinois. Perhaps it was a little UConn hangover plus banner distraction?  Ten years later, Maryland celebrates its 2006 women’s basketball national champions. That was a fun game to be in the arena…

I said it might be interesting: Missing point guard Niya Johnson, #4 Baylor fell apart offensively, and Oklahoma State took advantage. 

It’s great Notre Dame has Turner back – she was the difference against a feisty Georgia Tech team, earning McGraw her 799th win.

#20 USF couldn’t score enough against #8 Mississippi State, but a final quarter drought by the Bulldogs sure made it interesting.

USC-West faced its first real test of the season against #21 UCLA, and kept it close all game. But the Bruins prevailed, handing the Trojans their first loss.

#22 Miami opened the ACC strong – looking forward to their game against #15 FSU on the 24th.

Hello, 12-1 Duquesne.

Hello, 10-1 Army. Army West Point’s Kelsey Minato became “the first women’s basketball player at the academy to reach 2,000 career points and is just one of three women’s players to reach the feat in Patriot League history.”

Because it’s still new: Hello, (8-5, 1-0 in the Summit) Omaha.

Hello, 12-1 Virginia Tech. “No one’s been paying attention to us,” Coach Dennis Wolff said, “so please don’t jinx us.” (Sorry, that’s what we do at the WHB!) B.C., Louisville and Syracuse are up next.

Speaking of Louisville: Boom, they pull it together and take down a suddenly wobbly #15 Florida State, 79-69.

This one sounded like it would have made Debbie happy: A strong final quarter helped #8 Ohio State over #24 Michigan State, 85-80.

Surprise! A young pup and a Connecticut transfer helped (6-6) Penn State roar back to stun #14 Northwestern, 79-72.

Close: North Carolina escaped the Maine Bears by one, courtesy of Watt’s 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Also close: Purdue escaped Michigan by two, thanks to Morrissette’s three.

See above: Seton Hall escaped Creighton by four. The New Big East is looking interesting…

Speaking of interesting! Luck folks who watch the WCC. It’s going to be another slugfest. BYU dumped St. Mary’s, Gonzaga dumped San Francisco.

I see you, Green Bay, Wright State and Youngstown State…but I’ll pay more attention when you start playing each other.

Yes, Jeff, Pac-12 women’s basketball is loaded with top teams

Sure: U women’s basketball is fashionable choice

For a fan base hungry for a winner while the big two sports have struggled, the mostly homegrown Missouri women’s basketball team has arrived just in time.

“It’s definitely got a different feel. There is a buzz,” Pingeton said. “We’ve got so many local kids on our team that are really talented. We’ve got a pretty darn good group of girls that suit up and put that jersey on. We’ve had some good success in the nonconference — certainly aware of how tough it’s going to get — and I think we play a fun, exciting style and we’re winning.”

Games to keep an eye on:

Today:
Ohio State v. Marylandnoon! I hate noon games.

TCU (9-3) v. Kansas Sate (10-2). Just want folks to pay attention.

Marshall (10-1) v. Western Kentucky (9-2). Just giving the Herd some well-deserved attention as they face the Hilltoppers.

Oklahoma State (11-1) v. Iowa State (9-3). Can the Cowgirls build on a big win?

Abilene Christian (9-2) v. Central Arkansas (10-1). Just paying attention.

Santa Clara (12-2) v. Gonzaga (11-4).St. Mary’s (10-4) v. San Diego (12-1). It’s the WCC. ’nuff said.

Oregon (11-0) v #21 UCLA (9-3). Can the Bruins ding another undefeated?

#19 Cal v. #17 Arizona State. Fun in the sun.

#10 Oregon State v. USC-West. Another test for the Trojans.

Sunday:
#8 Mississippi v. Florida (12-1). What kind of bite do the Gators have?

#12 Duke v. Syracuse. So, what is happening with the Blue Devils?

Boston College (11-1) v. Virginia Tech (12-1). A battle of two under-the-radar teams.

James Madison v. William & Mary. A game that will help the Tribe see how far they’ve come.

Nebraska v. #14 Northwestern. The Wildcats need to bounce back.

#18 Oklahoma v. #4 Baylor. How quickly can the Bears regroup?

Georgia v. #16 Texas A&M. How legit are this year’s Dawgs?

#25 DePaul v. St. John’s. The Red Storm has been quietly rising.

In other news:

Like NDSU football, Ada-Borup girls basketball creates a winning culture:

But quietly—about a 60-minute drive from Fargo-Moorhead in Norman County of Minnesota—the Ada-Borup High School girls basketball program has created its own buzz. That’s why Dave Smart’s Cougars have been named The Forum’s sports story of the year.

Jewell Loyd enjoys success as WNBA rookie, proves critics wrong

“When I made my choice to leave school and go pro, a lot of people had doubts. Some even said I wasn’t ready or strong enough to compete at this level,” Loyd said. “Winning that award validated my choice. I’m really not a big fan of trying to prove people wrong, I just focus on what I need to do, but I was proud to say that I did.”

WNBA star Tamika Catchings gives back along with Allstate’s WBCA Good Works team

With Hall Of Fame Nomination, Sheryl Swoopes’ Unique Career Is Recogized

No, not THAT California: It’s a new year for California women’s basketball

In her fifth season as a head coach in college basketball, Jess Strom knows the final practices before winter break can be tough. Especially after a loss. To your biggest rival. 

But that’s why Strom was pleasantly surprised by the response from her California team after its 78-72 loss Dec. 16 at IUP. Then again, maybe that’s a natural reaction for the the defending NCAA Division II champion Vulcans — not that Strom necessarily wants to make that connection.

Encouraging: Olympics still in Tolo’s grasp after knee reconstruction

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Debbie Antonelli (and everyone else who loves women’s basketball)? In the battle of the West Coast Bears, #18 UCLA and #21 Cal wore out the basketball’s through two overtimes. Eventually it was the Goldens over the Bruins, 108-104.

Arnecia Hawkins gave her #22 Arizona State teammates something nice: a win over #10 Florida State, 68-56.

The senior guard, coming off the bench, scored a career-high 23 points on 7-of-7 shooting, including three 3-pointers. That’s 21 more than against the Seminoles in late March, when she only played 12 minutes compared to 31 this time.

“Extra everything,” Hawkins said of the reason for what is becoming a breakout season. “Extra workouts, extra shooting that we all do every day. It feels good just be relaxed and be able to help the team.”

Swoopes, there it is! Loyola (CHI) stunned #17 DePaul, 88-75.

“Once you give a team the belief that they can win, a well-coached team will absolutely take advantage of that,” head Coach Doug Bruno said. “They might be the best 2-7 team in the country. Their record doesn’t show what kind of team they are. They’ve played a great schedule, just like we’ve played a great schedule.”

The #4 Texas Bears had their hands full with James Madison, but a strong second half propelled them to a 77-63 win (Davis with 15 assists). Baylor’s first trip out of their home state has proved to be no walk in the park: in an earlier game, Miami kept it close.

St. Joe’s kept it close with the Irish through two, and then Notre Dame said, “That’s quite enough of that, thankyouverymuch, it’s coach’s homecoming!” cruising to a 91-55 win.

#8 Mississippi State moved to 11-1, but not without a heck of a battle from SMU. 19 turnovers doomed the Mustangs, and the Bulldogs prevailed, 72-70.

Fellow American Conference member Tulane had better luck against the Billikens, winning 66-58.

Speaking of the American, #20 South Florida made Oklahoma State’s first loss of the season painful, 68-48.

In the Battle of the Blues, it looks like #8 Kentucky may have gotten better by subtraction. The Wildcats got a comfortable lead in the first quarter and held it through to the end, beating #13 Duke 71-61.

WHB jinx strikes again: UNC Asheville loses to Clemson and it was ugly.

Ditto with William & Mary – though they have an excuse: they were playing VCU (10-2).

Nojinxnojinxnojinx: Is anyone noticing Abilene Christian this season? They’re 8-2 and defeated the Vandals, 71-59.

Colorado State looks strong again in the Mountain West. Do they really only play New Mexico State and Wyoming once in the regular season?

Maine v. Purdue? Just avert your eyes.

Penguins lose!

Virginia Tech squeaked out a win over Radford to move to 11-1.

With their win over NC State, Florida is also 11-1.

K State is now 10-1.

Santa Clara is at 10-1 and the WCC fun begins: they meet the Gaels tomorrow. St. Mary’s just took down San Francisco (9-3), 78-68 and, if you recall, upset Cal. Wonder if the two teams will tell “How we played the Pac-12” stories.

Yes, Missouri is 11-0, “atop” the SEC with it’s best start ever, and has entered the Top 25 for the first time since Justin was bringing SexyBack… but here comes Tennessee…and undefeated South Carolina and its zillions fans is lurking.

#5 Texas got the best of their SEC/Big 12 Challenge, defeating Arkansas 61-50. It’s been pretty cool to watch the Longhorns start to rebuild legacy

#18 Texas A&M got conference revenge by beating #17 Oklahoma, 74-68.

Georgia State has not (traditionally) been good and Stetson has… so props to the Panthers for upsetting the Hatters in the Hatters Classic,  80-72.

“I am proud of this team’s fight,” coach Sharon Baldwin-Tener said. “They made plays when they had to, they got some key stops when they had to and that is what winning teams do. This is probably one of our better wins recently as Stetson is really tough here at their place and a perennial 20-win program.”

Yes USC-West is still undefeated, but (as warned) they got a scare from the Great Danes.

Oregon State rolled over Cal Poly, but that is small comfort to the Beavers: All-Pac-12 point guard Sydney Wiese is out with a (potentially season-ending) wrist injury.

About OSU v. Tennessee. Again, a wicked ugly game – but this time Tennessee prevailed. So yes, the Volunteers held a 4-hour players-only meeting. Cool. But what’s next? There’s the rub. For the Beavers, they believe Tennessee game could define season

No Stewie? No biggie.

Speaking of the Huskies, they next face Maryland at the Garden. Hard to gauge Frese’s Terpsthey’ve not played a ranked team yet, and the only team of “import” they encountered was d’em famous Wabbits. She says they’re ready, though.

Congrats! Outsports Female Hero of the Year: Layshia Clarendon

And yet the Education of the Bigots still continues: 5 Lesbian Basketball Players Who Could School Pepperdine

Ryan Heisenberg, coach of the Pepperdine University women’s basketball team, [allegedly] believes that lesbians on his team “would cause the team to lose games,” according to a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.

NB: This post is from the 22nd and got stuck in the “draft box.” Someone’s head is going to roll!!!

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the WHB curse is alive and well and kicking. Sorry Texas Tech – you encountered a Santa Clara team (Remember them? The folks that beat Stanford?) that is reaping the benefits of hiring JR Payne away from Southern Utah. The former point guard at St. Mary’s is in her second year.

Two horrific quarters doomed the Vandals against #7 Oregon State, 69-44.

A spectacular third quarter lifted the #18 Blue Demons over #15 Texas A&M, 80-66.

Burn the tape of the fourth quarter for both teams, okay? The Wildcats down the Blue Raiders, 68-52.

Welcome back, Ms. Moos! #24 Arizona State eked out a win over #18 Syracuse, 61-54.

It took OT, but Cal escaped the Huskers, 87-80. Yup, learn to spell it: Kristine Anigwe.

Baylor’s Niya Johnson was delightfully generous during the Bear’s romp over McNeese State, 105-46.

Alaina Coates triples herself up as South Carolina smooshed Winthrop, 86-37. A little concerned that Wilson was sitting because of being dinged up….

Penguins bounce back and win!

Hello, Bonnies! They take down struggling Penn State, 70-60, for their eighth win.

Hartford v. Dartmouth... yikes. Just look away, folks, nothin’ to see.

Princeton’s monster first quarter propelled them to a 61-47 win over Pittsburgh.

Rachel Banham made sure her “award day” was a good one.

Pushing through the legal distractions,  Bollant has his team at 7-1.

In a back and forth game, it was St. Mary’s over Washington State, 75-71.

With their 72-68 win over Fresno State, San Diego is now at 9-1.

Seton Hall moved to 9-1 with a solid thumping of Liberty, 92-56.

Ahhh, in-state battles: Southern Miss topped Ole Miss, 57-38.

FGCU is still winning – perhaps not with the dominance we (and they) are used to… but Kaneisha Atwater scored her 1000th point.

Everyone has a different story about what his or her life was like at 18 years old. For Kaneisha Atwater, her story continues to follow her.

Last week, in a Monday evening away game against FIU, single mother and star point guard Atwater scored her 1,000th career point. With Whitney Knight out with an injury, Atwater has stepped up to lead the team in all aspects.

A not insignificant win for #5 Texas, as the hosted and then, behind Empress Davenport’s 23, handled the #14 Cardinal, 77-69.

Michigan gave #20 UCLA a battle, but the Bruins pushed through for a 86-77 win.

IUPUI had Louisville down 18… and couldn’t hold on.

Sheryl Swoopes’ Ramblers gave undefeated #12 Northwestern all they could handle in the first three quarters, but ran out of gas in the fourth. Wildcats stay undefeated, 81-72.

Record breaker: Alisa Jenkins took down USF/WNBAer Wanda Guyton’s rebounding record as USF took down Chattanooga.

The good news is the Buckeyes won. The bad news: Ohio State assistant coach, two players suspended. The good news: Former Kentucky guard Linnae Harper to play for Ohio State.

Boston College has moved to 8-1… keep an eye on their game against Florida State, Jan 7th.

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or was that a fierce, feisty game?

From Kent Youngblood at the Star Tribune: Lynx defeat Indiana, even WNBA Finals at 1-1 – Referees play big role in physical game, much to the chagrin of the Fever.

Well, now  we have a series.

After the Lynx tied the best-of-five WNBA finals at one game each with a 77-71 victory over Indiana at Target Center on Tuesday, there were radically different takes on the game.

To the Lynx it was a physical, aggressive game, just the sort you’d expect from a team with its back against the wall.

“The refs did a great job tonight,” Seimone Augustus observed. “They didn’t call anything. They let us play, and that’s what playoff basketball is all about.”

To the Fever? Well, let’s just say first-year coach Stephanie White saw things differently.

AP: Sylvia Fowles, Lynx even WNBA Finals; Fever coach livid about officiating

From Michele: Fever struggle to overcome Tamika Catchings’ foul trouble in Game 2

“I told our team, we are going to bottle up every sense of frustration, every sense of anger, every sense of knowing what we didn’t do and what we didn’t accomplish tonight, put that in a bottle and let it explode when we get back home,” said Catchings, who on Tuesday tied the league record for postseason games played at 64

Jon Krawczynski, AP: With Fever still fuming, Lynx ‘ready to go’ for WNBA Finals Game 3

“I learned a valuable lesson today,” White said. “I learned that it pays to go public with comments about officials. Who would have known?”

White called Game 2 “a blood bath” and said Shenise Johnson was “doubled over” by a hard screen set in the fourth quarter. The Fever picked up two technical fouls in the fourth quarter and turned the ball over 14 times in the second half, leaving them with the feeling that they kicked away a golden opportunity to take a 2-0 lead in the series.

“We know that we didn’t take care of business when it came down the stretch,” Catchings said.

From David Wood at the Indy Star: WNBA tells Fever coach Stephanie White to ‘keep quiet’ on officiating

Stephanie White has been a public figure long enough that she doesn’t need her 15 minutes of fame.

That’s what the coach received for outspoken criticism of officiating after the Indiana Fever’s 77-71 loss at Minnesota in Tuesday’s Game 2 of the WNBA Finals. Her comments were broadcast and discussed on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” and “Around The Horn.”

It remains to be seen whether gamesmanship influences Friday’s Game 3 against the Lynx at Bankers Life Fieldhouse (8 p.m., ESPN2). White said a league official asked her not to complain publicly again, and she was not fined. The best-of-five series is tied 1-1.

“The basic message is just to keep it quiet. But I couldn’t keep it quiet at that moment,” White said.

Josh Zavadil at the .com: Indiana Ready To Play In Front Of Hometown Fans Once Again

Just a five-minute stroll through the streets of downtown Indianapolis will make one thing clear: this city is behind the Indiana Fever. Storefronts display “Go Fever” signs, and it’s evident that Indiana’s run to the WNBA Finals has the city’s full attention.

On Friday — which Mayor Greg Ballard is declaring to be “Fever Friday” in Indianapolis — that attention focuses in on Bankers Life Fieldhouse, where Game 3 of the WNBA Playoffs 2015 presented by Boost Mobile will tip at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN 2.

Also from Josh:Fever Carrying Bottled Up Frustration Into Game 3

“I’m extremely excited,” center Erlana Larkins said ahead of Game 3. “I mean, after Game 2 we were pissed. We were pissed. We’re just ready to get back on the court. It’s a great thing to be back here in front of our fans, and they’re going to cheer us on and hopefully cheer us on to a victory.”

Bob Kravitz says, “Let’s give the Indiana Fever some love!”

I understand that women’s pro basketball remains something of a niche sport, especially in cities with successful men’s pro franchises, but let’s take nothing away from one of the best organizations in all of sports – men’s or women’s.

And let’s start here: Let’s talk about Tamika Catchings, who is not only one of the greatest female basketball players or all time, but is every bit the good corporate citizen as Peyton Manning or any other more well-known athletes. Grab a glimpse of Tamika while you can; next year will be here final year in the WNBA, and she hopes to polish off a brilliant career with a gold medal in Rio de Janeiro. Catchings has been the Fever’s heart and soul for years and years, and belongs on the Indy Sports Mount Rushmore right next to Manning and Reggie Miller. She’s already brought one ring to the city, and she has a chance to bring a second one as the Fever take on the favored Minnesota Lynx.

Audio add on: Katz: The Fever Are Everything That’s Good

The combined efforts of the Indiana Fever and the hashtag #FeverFull will bring thousands to downtown Indianapolis Friday night to cheer on the Fever to a game three WNBA Finals victory.  Tony Katz and the team at The Morning News have taken great joy in promoting this proud franchise, a franchise that staffs some of the great spots ambassadors for the state of Indiana.

So why has Tony Katz taken such a sudden interest in the Fever, when listeners identify him as more of a football and futball guy? 

It’s because the Fever represent everything that’s good.  It’s because the Fever can distract us from all of the bad that’s recently plagued the world.  The team has generated excitement for the city of Indianapolis and has offered another reason why Indy is such a great place to live.   

Tony is specific in the commentary below. 

Cool: Indy Lines Up For The Fever – Thousands get tickets to see the Indiana Fever in Game Three

Canadian Cool: Markham’s Sutton-Brown earns WNBA honours

Tammy Sutton-Brown’s time in playing with the WNBA’s Indiana Fever will not be forgotten.

In helping the Fever capture the 2012 WNBA title, the 37-year-old Markham resident and former Fever centre will be honoured when the club hosts the third game of the WNBA finals against the Minnesota Lynx in Indianapolis, Friday.

From Marcus Fuller at the Pioneer Press: Lynx prep for another physical battle in Game 3

The Minnesota Lynx didn’t know how physical the WNBA Finals would be until they were bullied by the Indiana Fever on their home court in a disappointing Game 1 loss.

Their response was to toughen up and be ready for a “blood bath” as Fever coach Stephanie White described Minnesota’s Game 2 victory that tied the series 1-1.

Now that both teams are battle tested, it will be critical for the Lynx not to back down against a frustrated Fever team in Game 3 on Friday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Table slap aside, David Woods says: Shenise Johnson continues to surprise for Fever

The .com has 10 Numbers That Tell the Story of the Finals So Far

BTW: Game 1 of 2015 #WNBAFinals Most-Watched Game Ever on ABC.

Anyone else hoping this goes to five?

Mechelle says, “What about that ’09 class!”

Indiana guard Briann January threw her head back and let out an exultant “yes!!!!” when it was mentioned. Then she high-fived teammates Marissa Coleman and Shavonte Zellous.

On this particular topic, she would have done the same even with someone on the “enemy” side, Minnesota’s Renee Montgomery. And with six other players dispersed throughout the WNBA.

What do they have in common? All were selected in the first round of the 2009 draft, and that group of seniors has proven to be one of the more successful classes.

Reviewing the season, Mechelle writes: Finals help WNBA hit high note despite early-season adversities

…from the perspective of the Lynx and the Fever, what’s happened on the court this season is more important than what happened off it.

“The quality of play was really good, the playoff races were tight,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “We have great parity, because every team has good players on it.

“What I said from the beginning of this year is that the league is bigger than one player or situation. And we’ve seen that’s the case.”

And, to counter the high note, about Sheryl Swoopes’ low note. I didn’t link the interview because I didn’t have the brain space to articulate my reaction beyond “wth!” Not so much helpful. So, I appreciate Kate Fagan’s take: What Sheryl Swoopes Got Wrong About Today’s WNBA

Sheryl Swoopes is one of the most famous women’s basketball players in history, with a platform bigger than most current players, and with a voice that many casual fans listen to and respect.

Her words carry weight. What she says matters.

So when she shares thoughts that seem half-baked, that’s a problem. And when her words seem to be just casually reinforcing a stereotype about the WNBA that current players have been working hard to reshape, that’s also a problem. And when those words also seem vaguely homophobic, that’s a really big problem.

And because that’s no way to end a blog posting, and because I like the name, tagline and headline: At the Hardwood Paroxysm (unbiased opinions from extremely biased people Philip Rossman-Reich has The WNBA foreshadowed the NBA’s positional revolution

Really the positional revolution, if we can call it that, is simply coaches seeking a strategy that gives them a competitive advantage (it was not Rashard Lewis’ three-point shooting that made the Magic successful in the late 2000s, but his ability to defend the traditional power forward) and maximizes the talent on the roster. Don Nelson was testing out crazy lineups and offensive strategies throughout the 1990s — he saw the true potential in Dirk Nowitzki.

Where though has the NBA seen the model for how games would be played in the future?

Believe it or not, the WNBA has eschewed the straight post-up for some time now. A lot of it was certainly out of necessity. With virtually no players who can play above the rim, the offenses tend to focus less on isolations and pure athleticism and more on keeping the paint clear for cutters and movement.

Still, it would be easy to have players in that league just be bullies down on the block. The league though has never skewed that way.

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

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

Playoffs:

New York vs. Washington or Indiana

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

Chicago vs. Indiana or Washington

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

Western Conference

Minnesota vs. Los Angeles

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

Phoenix vs. Tulsa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the Players’ Tribune: Sugar Rogers.

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

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

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

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

Also from PT: Full Court and  Liberty 1440.

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

And more: Swin Cash, City Kids

And more: Jewell Loyd, Going Home

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

And more: 

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

Theirs is a message for all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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we remember those who will not join us.

Vic Dorr Jr. from the. Richmond Times-Dispatch: University of Richmond women’s basketball team moves forward with heartache as constant companion

The pain they felt when it happened — shock, anguish, suffocating grief — was largely visceral. Temporary remedies were abundant: tears, hugs, the snug harbor offered by family and friends.

The pain they feel today is to a great extent cerebral. There are few, if any, effective remedies.

Lauren Sage Reinlie at the Daily News: Spirit lives on: Community gathers to remember beloved basketball coach

With hundreds of people gathered in the auditorium, Coach Patrick Harrington’s voice rang out again.

In a video playing on a large screen, the man stood on the sidelines of the basketball court, talking about his players and how he wanted to give them a chance to know what great opportunities they have to grow and change their lives.

From South Bend: Expectations still high for youthful Irish women’s basketball team

It’s been a few years since Muffet McGraw first put a whistle around her neck and stepped on a court in a dimly-lit gymnasium not far from the Main Line in suburban Philadelphia, to begin her first practice as a basketball coach.

And while it’s true Archbishop Carroll High School is a far cry from the bright lights of the University of Notre Dame’s Purcell Pavilion and college basketball’s biggest stage at the NCAA Final Four, don’t think for one second that the Fighting Irish Hall of Fame head coach isn’t excited about the start of another season.

Nice turn around in Austin: Women’s Basketball picked as preseason favorite to win the Big 12

From Spokane: Gonzaga women’s basketball rookie coach Lisa Fortier ushers in new era

The Gonzaga women’s basketball team opened practice Tuesday with a new head coach for the first time in 14 years and without a clear picture of the guard rotation for at least three years.

Out of Columbia: For USC women’s basketball, a national championship is the only goal

It was only the first day of practice, but the members of South Carolina’s women’s basketball team were already thinking of the ultimate goal.

“Our goal is definitely nothing short of a national championship,” said senior forward Aleighsa Welch, a Goose Creek native. “I think we have to put that in our minds and keep repeating to ourselves that we don’t want to settle for anything less than that. So that’s the main goal. That’s what we know we can accomplish this year. But it all starts right here.”

From their competition down the road: Lady Vols say they’re heeding Warlick’s message

Tennessee guard Ariel Massengale says the Lady Vols are listening more closely to coach Holly Warlick this season.

 The Lady Vols are hoping that extra attention helps them earn the Final Four bid that has eluded them since their 2008 national championship season. Tennessee opened practice Monday with most of the nucleus back from a team that went 29-6 and reached a regional semifinal last season.

From Notre Dame: Irish Women’s Basketball Tips Off 2014-15 Preseason,

It’s been a few years since Muffet McGraw first put a whistle around her neck and stepped on a court in a dimly-lit gymnasium not far from the Main Line in suburban Philadelphia, to begin her first practice as a basketball coach. And while it’s true Archbishop Carroll High School is a far cry from the bright lights of the University of Notre Dame’s Purcell Pavilion and college basketball’s biggest stage at the NCAA Final Four, don’t think for one second that the Fighting Irish Hall of Fame head coach isn’t excited about the start of another season.

From Jim Fuller at the Citizen Register: UConn’s Moriah Jefferson has chance to step into leadership role

The casual onlooker may wonder how the UConn women’s basketball team plans to replace the production of graduated All-Americans Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley.

While it will be no easy task replacing what Dolson and Hartley brought on the court, the bigger issue facing the two-time defending national champions could be who fills the rather sizeable hole in the leadership department.

Big things are expected from seniors Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Kiah Stokes, but the reality is that they are more of the lead-by-example types. Certainly reigning national player of the year Breanna Stewart will be a leader just based on her incredible skill set and list of accomplishments. But junior point guard Moriah Jefferson could be the most likely candidate to become the Huskies’ unquestioned leader.

UConn’s Dailey thankful for World Championship experience

Two days ago Geno Auriemma and Chris Dailey were in Istanbul, Turkey as the United States team, featuring five current or former UConn players, won the FIBA World Championship for Women.

After a long day of travel, the UConn head coach and associate head coach were back on campus and back at work. Auriemma looked absolutely spent and considering how he graciously gave me more than 15 minutes of his time when I was up at UConn for a football press conference before diving head long into his national team responsibilities, I resisted the temptation to corner him for an interview. However, when Dailey walked by me earlier today, I was able to spend a couple of minutes with her so she could reflect on her time as an advance scout for the gold-medal winning U.S. team.

Lady Raiders search for Rowe’s replacement

It’s been only a week of practice for the MTSU women’s basketball team, so it’s no surprise coach Rick Insell has more of his own questions than he has answers.

At this point, the 10th-year coach is simply emphasizing “repetition, repetition, repetition.”

“We gotta keep doing what we’re doing right here in practice,” he said. “Make them work harder.”

He added, “We’re not too bad. I’m not happy with where we’re at, but I don’t need to be happy right now. I need to be happy, in January.

“We’ll get there.”

Out of Lincoln: NU women’s basketball notebook: Huskers begin to try to replace Hooper

“Right now the elephant — the big things — are a little scary,” Yori said Wednesday. “Can we score on a consistent basis, and can we get defensive rebounds? Those are scary, because you think, who did we lose? We lost one of the best scorers of all time in the history of this program, and one of the best defensive rebounders of all time. Those are big things. Those are areas right now where we’re not very good.”

From Oregon: OSU women’s basketball: Beavers focused as practice begins

Over the first three days of practice, there was a focus unlike anything previously seen for Scott Rueck’s Oregon State women’s basketball program.

It makes sense as the Beavers return a plethora of talent that contributed immensely to one of the best seasons in program history.

Tough news for the Buckeyes: Ohio State women’s basketball: Makayla Waterman out indefinitely, facing knee surgery

Similar bad news in Colorado: CU women’s basketball: Buffs kick off practices without Roberson

Throughout the offseason, Arielle Roberson felt as healthy as ever and went through workouts determined to lead the Colorado women’s basketball to a great season.

On Tuesday afternoon, she sat in the Coors Events Center seats with crutches nearby as she watched her teammates go through their first official practice of the 2014-15 campaign.

“It just really sucks,” the junior forward said.

Cappie’s off to Australia: WNBA star signed to replace import Monica Wright, who is also injured

The loss of star recruit Elizabeth Cambage to a season-ending Achilles tendon injury and the failure of import Monica Wright to recover from what was seemingly minor knee surgery forced Dandenong to send out an SOS less than two weeks before the start of the 2014/15 WNBL season.

And it was answered on Thursday by WNBA superstar Cappie Pondexter, who signed a one-year deal to join the Rangers. The 31-year-old American guard is expected to be in uniform for the season-opener on October 18.

From Jonothan Lintner at USA Today: Native American community recognizes Shoni Schimmel

Shoni Schimmel often recognizes her Native American following, signing autographs and taking pictures after games with those who travel to see the University of Louisville graduate who grew up on an Umatilla reservation in Oregon.

This week, it was Schimmel who was recognized for her prominence as a 2014 Native American “40 under 40” award recipient.

From  at The Wrap:  WNBA Star Brittney Griner Talks About Becoming First Openly Gay Athlete Endorsed by Nike

Suivez-la Swoopes: Sheryl Swoopes’ son commits to Texas Tech

From Stephanie Kowalsky at the starsnews.com, timely but tough news: Ruthie Bolton: Ex-WNBA Star Victim of Domestic Violence; “It’s a Very Lonely Place to Be”

Breaking down in tears in front of a packed room, Bolton admitted in public for the first time that her ex-husband was abusive and that she used to live every day in fear of what he may do to her.

“I was living in an abusive marriage,” Bolton said, according to ESPN. “I could do whatever I wanted on the basketball court, I could defend an opponent, or hit a big shot, but I couldn’t get a grasp on my personal life.”

Out of Chicago: She didn’t play a minute, but Jersey City college student a star for WNBA team

“I was just scared to talk to people,” said Ortega, 21, who was born in Hoboken, but lived all her life in Jersey City with her family. “I thought my thoughts were either stupid or weren’t worth saying, so I just kept most of it to myself.”

Fast-forward to her final year at Centenary College in Hackettstown, and Ortega is the president of its Sports Management Association, is a mentor to freshmen students, and most of all, had finished a summer internship with the WNBA team Chicago Sky, where she was ranked No. 1 out of 8 interns in sales.

From Fast Company: Will the Future of Sports Reporting Include Sports Reporters? 

Dano first approached the men’s major leagues, but didn’t get anywhere. “There was interest, but the bigger leagues are a bit more cautious and guarded with how they adopt things,” he says. So he decided to focus on the WNBA, a league that could benefit more from the publicity. “The WNBA was really receptive,” says Dano. “Once we broke that ice, that validated things. We had one good partner, and they talked to their colleagues in the other leagues.” There are now about 40 WNBA players using the service, the most from any league. “Just about every player idea that we’ve gone to SportsBlog with, they’ve accepted and helped out with,” says WNBA Players Association director of operations, Pam Wheeler.

Out of the NCAA: June Courteau named coordinator of women’s basketball officiating

June Courteau has been named the NCAA’s national coordinator of women’s basketball officiating, bringing more than 45 years of officiating experience to the position.

“I have had the unique opportunity to work closely and learn from the last three national coordinators and am thrilled to be provided this great opportunity,” said Courteau. “Maintaining the momentum created by Anucha Browne at the national office on both the rules and officiating fronts is job one. The stakeholders in our game, including the rules committee, coaches, coordinators of officials and the officials themselves must continue to be heard and have buy-in towards these decisions. We continue to strive for a free flowing and up-tempo game.”

WATN? Lafayette women’s basketball staff adds Hall of Famer Theresa Grentz, former U.S. Olympic coach

“Passion, charisma, expertise and integrity are just a few adjectives describing coach Grentz,” Leopards head coach Dianne Nolan said in a news release. “I am very excited for our players, staff and the Lafayette community to interact with coach Grentz, as she shares her wealth of knowledge and experience.”

BTW: NBA Announces Major 9-Year TV Deal With ESPN, ABC, TNT: WNBA And NBA D-League Get New Contracts

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

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

Mechelle Voepel: Can Duke compete with UConn?, ESPN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In other news:

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

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

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

Buckeyes try to shake out of slump

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, the Lynx continue their Roster Review: Janel McCarville

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

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

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Cash, Catchings win WNBA sportsmanship award

It’s the Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award.

Kim Perrot, 32, Leader of W.N.B.A. Champions

”Who would have thought Kim Perrot would be a two-time W.N.B.A. champion?” she said when she accepted her second championship ring during a Comets home game on June 22. ”When no one else believed in me, my teammates and the fans stuck with me.”

Perrot, who was 5 feet 5 inches and 130 pounds, was indeed an unlikely professional champion despite a record-setting college career. She held 26 school records at the University of Southwestern Louisiana, where she remains the career scoring leader with 2,157 points. As a senior, she led the nation in scoring, averaging 30.1 points a game.

Kim Perrot

Remembering Kim Perrot – 14 years later

“She was a fighter. I watched Kim for many years overseas. She was the smallest person on the court, but again, had the biggest heart,” recalled Lynette Woodward during a 2011 edition of WNBA Legends Roundtable, along with Sheryl Swoopes and Tina Thompson. “This is what the league did for us. It let the world know who she was. Just think, if we didn’t have the league, nobody would know Kim Perrot the way that we do.”

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fans are going to need a lot of antacid, what with teams losing leads and making big comebacks.

First is was the Lib against the Mystics. (Why does Kara mock us fans with her potential?) Oh, and Bill ‘splains himself in a Letter From Laimbeer

With the All-Star break behind us and the second half of the season in front of us, I wanted to take this time to thank you for your support and patience through the first half of the 2013 season. Although our record may not be what we anticipated entering the year, I’m confident that we are headed in the right direction towards bringing a Championship to the New York Liberty. I wanted to share with you my thoughts on our progress directly.

Then it was the Sun against the Catch-lesFever. (Hope  her family is okay) (Hey, how did I miss this? Dramatic growth in male fans helps WNBA’s Fever score profit for first time) (Oh, and Mike does a little pot stirring for Tina: Will she stay, or will she go now?)

Seattle, not to be outdone, took it to Phoenix. (Will Taurasi with the WNBA Community Service Underwriter award, what with all the funds she’s donating via fines?) (And, anyone need a center? Reserve Nakia Sanford leaves Storm)

Wheeeeee!!!!

Meanwhile, Michelle offers up Five (other?) things to look forward to

Folks who didn’t have to worry too much about rallying — unless it was around the flag — were the USA Basketball women. Dave chats with their coaches: Celebrating USA Gold with coaches Sherri Coale and Katie Meier; Monique Currie and the Mystics, Camille Little and the Storm look to hold on

Over at A Daily Dose of Hoops, Brian Giorgis Discusses Marist Women’s Basketball And Team USA

Nate offers some links that ponder the Upcoming collective bargaining and the impact of Elena Delle Donne, Skylar Diggins, and Brittney Griner which led me to this: 

Sports fans have an exciting new avenue for enjoying the top news around the sports world thanks to the iPad app Beyond the Box. The app systematically ranks and analyzes the best sources related to each sports team and league in an effort to bring relevant and interesting content to the fans.

Beyond the Box founder and CEO Shailo Rao took some time to speak with FanSided about what in to making the app and what we can expect from the company in the future. You can check out what Shailo had to say below.

At the .com, Diggins is Looking Back, Looking Ahead. (I wonder if coach McGraw has tried All-Access again…)

Rachel explains the obvious: Why Elena Delle Donne is top rookie

Doug reconnects with Sheryl: Back on the court, Sheryl Swoopes is happy again

This new opportunity has provided a high from what Swoopes concedes was the lowest point in her life four years ago. She had just been cut by the Seattle Storm and was having financial problems, which came to light when she failed to pay rent on a West Texas storage unit. Swoopes lost years of memorabilia from her celebrated basketball career, including awards, jerseys, fan mail and her college diploma.

“I was just mad at everyone,” Swoopes said. “Mad at the WNBA, mad at life. I’d say a lot of it was my immaturity, my stubbornness — my mom says my hardheadedness. I wasn’t responsible in taking care of my things.

The WBCA decides to do some organized talking: WBCA board establishes working groups
to explore changes in women’s basketball:

Semrau assigned board members to three working groups, each co-chaired by two members of the association’s Executive Committee, to focus on a particular topic and develop recommendations for consideration by the entire board. Each group met briefly to begin their discussions and will continue them by teleconference in the coming weeks. The groups are:

  • Legislation and Governance — Penn State head coach Coquese Washington, the association’s vice president, and Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw co-chair this group, which will focus on how the WBCA might be better represented in a revised NCAA governance structure, how the WBCA can more effectively participate in the NCAA legislative process, and how the WBCA’s own governance structure might be improved in order to have a more efficient organization. Members include Claudette Charney, Hillsdale College; Diane Dickman, NCAA; Danielle O’Banion, Kent State; Martha Putallaz, faculty athletic representatives; Jennifer Rizzotti, Hartford; Christy Thomaskutty, Emory; and Rich Ensor, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
  • Playing Rules and Officiating — Kentucky head coach Matthew Mitchell, the association’s secretary, Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma, and West Coast Conference deputy commissioner Connie Hurlbut co-chair this group, which will focus on whether or not we have the right rules going forward and how the game is officiated. The goal is to improve the quality of the game so that it is more attractive to spectators. Members include Anucha Browne, NCAA; Nikki Caldwell, LSU; Brandan Harrell, Georgia Highlands College; Patricia Manning, Williams College; Joanne McCallie, Duke; Melissa McFerrin, Memphis; and Dawn Staley, South Carolina.
  • Professional and Grass Roots Development — Kansas State head coach Deb Patterson, the association’s treasurer, and Arizona State head coach Charli Turner Thorne, the immediate past president, co-chair this group, which will focus on educational programming that will provide WBCA members with opportunities to become better coaches as well as explore the feasibility of establishing a certification service for coaches of women’s basketball. Members include Amanda Butler, Florida; Tricia Cullop, Toledo; Lisa Mispley Fortier, Gonzaga; Kirsten Moore, Westmont College; Mary Beth Spirk, Moravian College; Carol Callan, USA Basketball; and Todd Starkey, Lenoir-Rhyne.

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their successors were making a statement about the future of USA Basketball: “We got this.”

The second quarter of the U19 team against Australia was impressive. (You can watch it on ESPN3 replay) That didn’t hold a candle to the second half of their gold medal match against France. Yes, a key player of Les Bleus went down with an injury, but still: Hold a team to 8pts? In the entire half!?!

“Obviously we had to grind it out on the offensive end,” said Meier. “At halftime we talked about our defense. They had only scored 20 points and that was huge for us. So, we just said that when push comes to shove, you win championships with your defense, so go out there and lock down and stay together as a team. That was just an amazing performance.”

In other news:

Don’t forget to check out tonight’s installment of 9 for IX: Sheryl Swoopes’s Hoop Dreams and Whole Truths

LZ chips in: Sheryl Swoopes being herself

On the one hand, you had a high-profile athlete, one who had just won her third WNBA MVP trophy, tell the world she was gay. And she did so a mere few months after another high-profile Texan, President George W. Bush, endorsed an amendment banning same-sex marriage to the U.S. Constitution.

While having someone of Swoopes’ stature be openly gay provided activists with an important figurehead in the fight against the proposed law, having that figurehead insinuate she chose to be gay, was not — as politicos would say — on message.

But that’s Sheryl Swoopes — not a spokeswoman, not a contrarian, just herself.

Speaking of stars, Carl Ademac says Moore has Lynx lurking

At the ripe old age of 24, Maya Moore of the Minnesota Lynx is one of eight women’s basketball players in the world to win a NCAA title, a WNBA crown, and gold medals in the FIBA world championships and the Olympics.

“That just really humbles me and makes me realized how blessed I am,” Moore said Saturday after helping the West beat the East 102-98 in the WNBA All-Star Game at sold out Mohegan Sun Arena. “There are so many talented players, ones that are taller than me, jump higher than me, are quicker than me … I’ve just been fortunate and my timing perfect to play with great players at the world championships when I was still in college at UConn and come to a team as talented as the Lynx and have even more success.”

Jayda Evans talks with Storm guard Tanisha Wright

ST: Which was tougher, 2012 with the injuries, or 2013 without Bird and Jackson and with all the new faces?

Wright: Last year was much harder. This season has at least been enjoyable. It isn’t all for nothing. The way we’re playing this year — the grit, the attitude, the not laying down — that’s a lot better than what we had last year. We’re doing a good job defensively. There are games where we’ve held teams to 60, 65 points. It’s fun when you have people to play with who have that type of (defense-minded) attitude.

This ought to make the off-season fun: WNBA Facing Labor Issues As CBA Expires After Season

The NY Times is revisiting Tennessee: Anniston Star – HOT BLAST In Tennessee a unique school for teenagers

If you read nothing else on this Monday morning, then grab a cup of coffee and spend some time with New York Times journalist John Branch’s latest work.

Between Nashville and Memphis is Carroll County, Tenn., which, according to Branch, “is a rural place, quietly troubled by the hollowing plagues of small-town America — unemployment, drug abuse and teenage pregnancy among them. The problems lurk in the shadows between landscaped brick homes and the bucolic countryside.”

The Carroll County Juvenile Court operates Carroll Academy, a public school for troubled and at-risk teens. Students are sent there for all sorts of reasons, including behavioral issues and drug use. Branch is a sports writer for The Times, and his stories focus on the school’s girls basketball team, which has lost more than 200 games in a row.

However, the stories are not about the basketball team. They’re about life in a version of small-town America beset with economic problems that are seemingly overwhelming. Branch’s stories are long, but they are worth your time. I can’t help but wonder how many Alabama counties would benefit if their respective juvenile courts had the resources to open this type of school.

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From Jere’ at the New York Times: W.N.B.A. Hopes Griner Can Change Perceptions, As Well as Game Itself

Another question is whether Griner will become as transformative off the court as she has been on the court.

Even before she plays her first game, her influence has been significant. A decade ago, W.N.B.A. officials might have been reluctant to celebrate as a standard-bearer of the league someone who did not conform to conventional standards of femininity, said Mary Jo Kane, the director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota.

“You cannot ignore her athleticism, and the W.N.B.A. has not tried to isolate or marginalize Griner,” Kane said.

“That is a rather remarkable and fundamental shift.”

Yes, says Jayda, Griner is going No. 1, but another Texas-based player is excited for the future of the league:

“The exposure that our game on the collegiate level has gotten has done really good things to our game as a whole,” said Kelsey Bone, a Texas A&M center who’s expected to be a top-five pick. “The notoriety that’s coming into this league, when you talk about the day and age of modern technology, will give the WNBA a chance to put the game on another level nationally.”

Based on league history, however, perhaps “Wait and See” would be a better tag.

I’l agree — for the moment, ’cause I want to see the advertisements that support the phrase. Too often it seems the league plays it safe and won’t take risks — as if it’s not actually confident in the product it’s marketing. In fact, in the past, it’s been the merchandise endorsement folks who’ve had the most memorable WNBA ads.

Who can forget the classic Nike Little Rascals, who combined humor, sass and a knowledge of the game.

“Coop needs to know.”

“Pumps are for EX-players.”

“Momma can’t help your jump shot.”

Remember the ads that assumed the audience’s knowledge of a player’s on-court skill.

There was  Sue Bird’s American Express commercial?

How about Taurasi for 8 O’Clock Coffee?

Here’s my suggestion: reunite the original rascals — or pick a new smarty-pants trio — and craft 15 seconds of brilliance that highlights the current and incoming players skills and personality. For instance:

(At a restaurant, where she leans over to hand someone a napkin they dropped. Three teenagers, in WNBA jerseys, look at her. Says one:) Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever. Five time winner of the Defensive Player of the Year award. People say you’re nice. Elena’s nice, too. But her game is nasty. You should studying game tape, not menus. Here are some notes on her game. You better get ready. Or you can wait and see.”

Or how about this for a promo?

(Voice over) Who’s got next?
*Show a Leslie dunk*
(A different voice over) No, who’s got next?
*Show a Parker dunk*
(A different voice over) Nooo, I wanna know, who’s got next?
*Show a Griner dunk*
(Shared amongst the three voices) Oh, yeah — I know, and I’ve got my season tickets. I can’t wait and to see it — live.
*montage of great plays*

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by folks who used to play against each other in the W.

At Pitt, they’ve chosen Suzie McConnell-Serio.

At Loyola, they’ve chosen Sheryl Swoopes.

Kellie didn’t have to wait long: Missouri State hires Kellie Harper as new women’s basketball coach

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From Mechelle, Charlie and Graham and Michelle: How does Gray’s injury affect Duke? (which includes some pondering “Outside of the nation’s top-four ranked teams, who has the best chance to get to the Final Four?”)

M&M&M are Picking Award Winners

Charlie has some bracketology: Boy, are Notre Dame and UConn going to be sick of each other.

From Curt: All about ‘next game’ for Diggins

Skylar Diggins pulled up a stool and sat down after Sunday’s 87-49 rout of Marquette, white towel wrapped around her neck.

Diggins had just become the first Notre Dame women’s basketball player to have 2,000 points, 500 assists and 500 rebounds in her career.

“I had no idea,” Diggins said when asked about the achievement. “I guess it looks good, when I leave here, when I’m old and gray. It’s just all about the next game. I’m trying to do what I have to do for our team to win.”

From the Husker Blog: ‘The Rex Burkhead of Women’s Basketball’

Before we begin, please understand today’s N-Sider is a history lesson, a geography challenge and a supreme compliment all rolled into one. This blog ties two well respected Husker walk-ons – offensive lineman Brodrick Nickens and basketball guard Mike Peltz with Jordan Hooper, one of the hottest Division I women’s basketball players in the country.

Sheryl Swoopes talks career, life after the WNBA, LGBT thoughts

From Dave D’Alessandro at the Star-Ledger: Former Bad Boy Bill Laimbeer does plenty of good for WNBA

We were sitting upstairs in a coffee shop two blocks east of the Garden, where nobody gave any notice to the man who might be the most influential coach and GM in the history of this 16-year-old women’s league. His first lap around the WNBA was in Detroit, where he took over a last-place team in 2002 and turned the Shock into a champion in eight months. Two more titles followed, before he left the league in 2009.

Now he’s back with the Liberty, who will start their final season in Newark in May because of renovations at MSG. If you follow the league at all, you know it needs him badly. First, this market needs a big personality to stimulate interest in a league whose attendance has cratered. Second, the Liberty have been consistently mediocre since Richie Adubato left nearly a decade ago, and need Laimbeer’s extraordinary eye for talent.

As a follow-up, Nate asks, “Who are the top mid-major prospects in the 2013 WNBA Draft? “

Obviously the top mid-major prospect in the 2013 WNBA draft is Delaware Blue Hens forward Elena Delle Donne.

But what about the rest of the players among the ranks of the mid-majors? Who else might have a shot at contributing to a WNBA team?

As usual, there are quite a few mid-major players putting up gaudy numbers as distributors, rebounders and scorers that might draw the attention of WNBA GM’s. Yet as discussed last week, mid-major programs haven’t yielded very many WNBA contributors over the past few years – it’s not impossible, but the threshold for being considered a productive WNBA prospect has proven to be extremely high. Almost to the point of having an unblemished college record for most mid-major prospects.

It’s about friggin’ time: From ESPN: Nine for IX: About Women. By Women. For Us All.

AIRING JULY 2-AUG. 27 ON ESPN

Pat Summitt’s life as it has never been told before. Venus Williams lobbying for pay equality. Female athletes balancing the double standard of being the best on the field and the sexiest off of it. These are just a few stories from ESPN Films and espnW’s documentary series, Nine for IX.

MORE ON NINE FOR IX

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(yes, always a dangerous thing) Now that espnW has decided to pick up the “respect” gauntlet (yes, I see the irony, and I’m still wondering, “Where’s Mechelle?”) thrown down by Diana, I’m expecting a flurry of anti-women’s basketball responses talking about how “lays ups are boring” and they want to watch 7′ men dunking on a 10′ rim ’cause that’s exciting basketball.

While I understand that they, as fans of basketball, don’t appreciate the subtlety of the give-and-go or the back door cut or the pick-and-roll or an ankle-breaking drive to the basket, I wonder why they always use the word “layups” in their diatribes. As if women’s basketball is made up entirely of layups and the men’s game is fraught with dunks. Have they never heard of the jump shot? The three point shot? Clearly they’ve never heard of Diana Taurasi, or observed the physics-defying stroke of Seimone Augustus. And what about Coop and Swoopes and… but I digress.

I’m not against dunking. Not at all! When Big Syl and CP3 throw down, it’s awesome. But, I started to wonder: Don’t the men shoot jump shots? Aren’t there three point shooters on NBA teams? Are those players “boring”?

So I did a little googling, trying to find out, on average, how many dunks there are in an NBA game. Not by one individual, but by a team. While I’m sure someone out there can fine tune the accuracy of the stats that follow, I’m going to move forward with what I have: The Clippers board states that in 2010-11, their team averaged 6.5 a game. So double that and you guesstimate that two NBA teams would produce 13 dunks a game.

If you look at video of dunks, they take about 3 seconds (if you start from take off to the post-dunk recovery-roar). So, 13 dunks x 3 seconds = 39 seconds.

Last time I checked, NBA games were 48 minutes.

So, by their own standards of dissing, fans who love the NBA because of the dunks are sitting through 47 minutes and 21 seconds of “boring” a game in order to get 39 seconds of “exciting athleticism.”

Or, to put it in another frame of reference (and if there were an easier way to tabulate the total made shots, I’d use it, but the stats are %-based): in the April 16th game against Oklahoma City, the Clips and Thunder combined for a total of 63 made baskets (they missed 99).

63-13 = 50 boring layups, jump shots and three-point shots that “I watch the NBA because they dunk and that’s exciting” fans had to endure. If you assume that most of the dunks taken were made (LeBron’s doozy of a miss v. Brazil notwithstanding) those poor fans had to sit through 149 shots and layups to get their 13 dunks.

Huh.

Why don’t they just watch Sports Center? They could avoid all those boring minutes of basketball the men play.

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Sue Bird was welcomed back to the US team, now in Istanbul, with open arms (and, I’m sure, a lot of hugs).

“It’s been emotional. Obviously he wasn’t my father, but has been in my life for 16 years. He meant so much to my mom,” said Bird, fighting through tears. “These things are tough. It’s good to be back, everyone’s been so great. In a way even though I’m not with my biological family this is an extension. They make me laugh and I don’t have to think about anything else so it’s really nice.”

She didn’t miss a step as she helped lead the US to a 109-55 stomping of Croatia.

Bird got to Istanbul early Saturday morning, but didn’t look jet-lagged at all. She didn’t start but entered the game four minutes in.

Her first play was a nifty no-look pass to Tamika Catchings, but she couldn’t convert the shot. Bird then hit a three-pointer a few minutes later as the U.S. went on a 24-3 run to take a 38-13 lead at the end of the first quarter. She finished with eight points and five assists in 19 minutes.

A little after the fact, but I appreciate that John Smallwood  from the Philadelphia News took the time to attend the practices in D.C. His piece: USA women’s basketball seeks to extend its legacy of winning

“Wow, time goes fast,” said Catchings, the 33-year-old Indiana Fever star. “I remember how players like Dawn Staley, Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes and Katie Smith challenged us as young players to learn, so that we could carry the torch after them.

“I think we did OK. I think they are proud of us. But now I know that for myself this will be my last [Olympics]. I look around at all of these younger players, and it’s their turn. Now we pass the torch to them.

Speaking of “taking time,” I know where Mechelle is, but aren’t you all wondering why women’s basketballs best, most knowledgeable writer won’t be in London covering the Olympics?
From the Star-Tribune: Five story lines (I bet Mechelle could come up with more…)

2 NO RESPECT

Despite winning four consecutive gold medals and 33 consecutive games in the Olympics, Team USA is playing the “no respect” card — not in the sense that people don’t think they’re good, but that they get overlooked because success is expected.

Oh, come on. They’re not overlooked because they’re good! They’re overlooked because they’re women.

Jim Souhan says Linsday’s ready for her close up:

“I know this was extremely important to her,” Kathy said. “She would have been terribly disappointed if she hadn’t made the Olympic team. She felt that circumstances prevented her from making the last one, because she got married and missed an Olympic camp. I think she felt she deserved to go the last time, so I know she gave up a lot to make sure she made all the requirements and camps this time. She wants that gold medal.”

Bright and early this morning (our time), the US went up against Turkey, a team boasting a familiar name: Quanitra Hollingsworth. If you were an NAIA fan, you’d recognize player of the year, Tugce Canitez. There was a nice crowd (remember, several players, including Taurasi, play there in the off-W season) and the Turks gave the US quite a tussle, proving the road is not paved with walkovers.

“We had to make plays. We had to get stops, and they are a really, really good team,” said  Geno Auriemma , USA and University of Connecticut head coach. “They have a lot of weapons, they have a lot of ways they can beat you and they are really smart. We gave them a lot of life. We missed a lot of opportunities that would have made it much easier for us, but maybe in the long run that’s better too. It’s easy to win when you shoot (70.8) percent like we did last night. It’s another thing when you shoot 35.0 percent in the first half and are able to beat a really good team by 19. So yeah, it showed some of our flaws and our warts, like everybody else has, and we’ve got four more practices to fix it and then we are on the big stage.”

I do believe, with Augustus’ performance, the Lynx players have now hit the MVP hat trick. Some nice background stuff from Doug in his game piece:

Taurasi was one of six American players who have played in Turkey and she knows all about the fierce rivalry between teams Fenerbahce and Galatasaray.

She started with Fenerbahce before switching over to Galatasaray. Taurasi was playing for Fenerbahce in 2010 when she was provisional suspended for using a banned substance. The suspension was lifted nearly two months later when the lab that returned the positive test retracted its report.

When she returned to Turkey last season, she changed to rival Galatasaray.

Augustus, Tina Charles, Sylvia Fowles and Tamika Catchings have played for Galatasaray, while Angel McCoughtry suited up for rival Fenerbahce.

Think Connecticut-Tennessee and magnify that by 100, according to Tamika Catchings, who received a stuffed bear from one of the Gala fans Saturday night before the Americans’ rout of Croatia.

And yes, France beat Australia but, as Doug tweeted: Before everyone gets excited about France’s win over Australia; @laurenej15 and @SuzyBatkovic were rested.

And yes, but: They barely beat an Izzy-less Brazil. How much can the Ozzies rely on their size, since their guard play is so suspect?

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and not so….

Hmmm, Minny’s looking good. *thunderous knocking of wood by Lynx fans*

Tina “It’s fun to score” Charles had a good time with the Mystics.

No, I’m not thinking you called Prince as the scoring leader (so far) or Prahalis as the assist leader (so far). I do call, “WTF with the hair” in that picture of rebounding leader (so far) Big Syl, though.

Is there something about Stanford players and last second baskets? And, no, L.A., you can’t play Seattle for the rest of the season and geez, Roman, sensitive much? :-)  wnba.com showing West Coast bias by hyperventilating over L.A. Sparks

CP3 confusion ends, though there is a need for a copy editor: Dream Waives Courtney Parris (sic) To Make Room For Jessica Moore

40. It’s the new XI: Sky, WNBA to honor Title IX on uniforms

COLLEGE:

Thank you, Sherri: The Write Space and Time: June 3 – Leave your story better than you found it.

As coaching careers go, mine was born lucky. My grand introduction to women’s college basketball coincided with the collision between the old Big Eight and the Southwest Conference. Football power conference plus women’s basketball hotbed equals the Big 12 Conference, a new concept and a fertile breeding ground for explosive growth. Nationally speaking, women’s basketball was poised for a coming out party. New programs and personalities were on the scene, attendance was rising, television was flirting…lightning was begging to get captured in a bottle. I was new to the collegiate scene, barely cognizant of the perfect storm I had landed in the middle of, and yet there I sat at the table with the giants of our game.

I was young and dumb in 1996 and yet smart enough to be quiet (read: keep opinionated mouth shut) and pay attention. Pioneers in their prime were running the room. Marsha Sharp was the captain of this juggernaut known as Lady Raider Nation. She coached Sheryl Swoopes (who scored 47 points in the National Championship game and would become an Olympic Gold Medal winner) and together with their throng of faithful followers they won a National Championship and took west Texas and the country by storm. Jody Conradt sat at the table–a national title, an undefeated season, the architect of Texas Women’s Basketball and a figure so respected, and at times so imposing, that she could have run for governor in that enormous state. And she would have won. Across from her sat Ceal Barry, the Colorado coach whose teams won four Big Eight titles and whose tenacious man-to-man defense and post player development had been building blocks of my high school teams for years. I loved watching her win and I so admired how her team did it. Talk about being in the right place at the right time! At those early Big 12 spring meetings held in the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, it was often hard to tell if my shortness of breath came from the altitude or the luck of my draw for getting to be a mouse in that room.

I’m not sure what’s going on with the Tennessee athletic department, but it sounds unpleasant and hurtful.

Oh, Canada! Natalie Achonwa Named To Canadian Women’s Basketball Olympic Qualifying Team

Cheerio, mate! Harvard’s Fagbenle on Verge of Making British Olympic Team

There’s a new boss in Sioux Falls: Amy Williams named USD’s women’s basketball coach

Ditto in Charleston, IL (EIU Introduces Lee Buchanan As Women’s Basketball Head Coach) and almost in Edwardsville (Buscher or Brown will be new SIUE women’s basketball coach)

Tambien in the land of the Thundering Herd: Daniel named Marshall women’s basketball coach

Aussi in New York City: After helping build SHU women, NYU a natural for Hall-Gregory

Central Arkansas taps Delta State for their new boss: Cent. Arkansas announces Sandra Rushing as women’s basketball coach

Delaware (no, not the Blue Hens) State picks Tamika Louis As New DSU Women’s Basketball Head Coach

Still waiting at Tennessee Tech: Coaches chime in on TTU search

Need one in Buffalo: Buffalo women’s basketball coach Hill-MacDonald’s contract will not be renewed

The former coach with a towel has a new gig: Associate Commissioner of the A-10

Interesting. As the WBHOF welcomes its newest inductees, (Go, Red Heads!) it also has an expanded board that’s rather… orange. :-)

OTHER STUFF:

Leveling the playing field even more

Girls-only sleep-away camps and suburban athletic clinics have been around for decades, of course. DePaul University women’s basketball coach Doug Bruno has run a basketball camp for girls at North Central College in Naperville since 1980, for example. What’s different is that these businesses are run by women who personally benefited from the changes wrought by Title IX and see their for-profit businesses as having an overt social mission.

Barb Lazarus was cheering her son’s baseball game several years ago when she noticed girls on the adjoining field didn’t really know how to play. Their lack of skills spurred Ms. Lazarus, 52, to make a business of multisport instruction for girls. Her Game On Sports Camp 4 Girls, in Lake Forest and Chicago and a sleep-away camp in Michigan, is in its sixth year.

Yes, I’m worried that Taurasi might not be able to play in London (I think we’ll be okay if she doesn’t, but it would stink for her), but I have no concerns about the future of USA Basketball:
Speaking of USA Basketball: Women’s basketball: Geno lifts Meier higher
Despite the 28-year age difference, their relationship has leveled. The mental pummeling Taurasi endured as an 18-year-old at Connecticut is over.
“When we’re together, something’s got to give,” Auriemma said. “When she was 18, I win, you lose. Now? She wins, and I lose.”
Auriemma’s ease of concession is surprising. It’s not a duo known for capitulation.
“I got to say that because I need her for the next month,” Auriemma said with a laugh. “Check with me after August.
* * *
Taurasi’s chance for her third gold medal almost didn’t reach this point of give-and-take. A false-positive test for a banned substance while playing in Turkey in 2010 nearly derailed everything. Taurasi says she’s never taken anything illegal, and the lab admitted it screwed up, then was stripped of its accreditation. She almost lost basketball.
“I don’t know how that makes a person feel,” Kathy Auriemma said. “It’s devastating. She’s not a casual person, she feels things very deeply. She cares and she loves strongly, and I think she was very lost [afterward].”

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You stay put: Mystics re-sign Crystal Langhorne

Nate says: 2012 WNBA Free Agency: Finding Value Among The Remaining Unrestricted Free Agents

Mechelle finds Alana Beard’s move to Sparks intriguing

Not so Shocking: Gary Kloppenburg’s Plans For The Tulsa Shock Do Not Include Sheryl Swoopes, Betty Lennox

Tamika keeps busy: Catchings joins WSF board

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how I feel about this article by Luke Cypher(on the journalism faculty at SUNY Plattsburgh): This time it’s different —  Is Skylar Diggins the game changer that women’s hoops has long prophesied?

Maya Moore was the future of women’s basketball. (Quick! What team does she play for now?) So was dunking phenom Candace Parker. Before them were the fiery Diana Taurasi, the lethally explosive Sheryl Swoopes and the glamorous Lisa Leslie — all of them projected to lead us to the promised land, a place where aging meatheads finally appreciate the beauty of women’s sports. But this time, we mean it. Skylar Diggins is changing the game.

She demands attention. On the court, the 5’9″ southpaw pushes the pace, finds the open teammate, gets in people’s faces, finishes in the paint, takes the big shot. At the end of March, Notre Dame was just another team chasing Tennessee and Connecticut. One week later, in a three-game stretch during March Madness, Diggins scored 24 points in an upset of Tennessee, 28 to upend top-seeded UConn in the Final Four and then 23 in Notre Dame’s loss to Texas A&M in the title game. Along the way, the TV audience for the 2011 NCAA women’s tournament increased by 16 percent from the previous year.

I guess all I can say is Diggins comes off better than the writer, who manages to dis the WNBA Champions Lynx and all who have paved the way before Diggins. And have some odd assertions (Notre Dame was just another team chasing Tennessee and Connecticut. really? Do you actually follow the women’s college game — ’cause it’s clear you don’t follow the pro game). I guess LeBron tweeting about you isn’t as sexy as Lil Wayne? Though, I bet writer Luke doesn’t know the OTHER player jersey Lil Wayne wore OR the team she plays for.

It’s not that I deny that the attractiveness of a female player can attract aging meatheads. It’s just that it kinda creeps me out. And I have yet to see any proof that those aging meatheads are appreciating the women’s game. Or that they’re going to stick around after their particular object of  “appreciation” graduates and plays for a team Luke can’t name.

Oh, and welcome to the challenges of the online world, student-athletes.

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took place in Seattle.

Key Arena saw a fun battle between old school (Katie Smith, 26pts) and medium-old school (Diana Taurasi, 36pts).

Smith, in her first year with the Storm, used the shooting of Taurasi for motivation.

“Yeah, I let her know, come on now you’re still the baby in all of this,” Smith said. “She’s younger, but she’s one of my favorite players to play against and to play with on Olympic teams. I have much respect for her and I know she does, too. We have a lot of fun competing against each other and it’s been a friendly rivalry now for many years.”

Smith got a little more help from her friends, and the 85-70 Seattle win sealed home court in the first round. Here’s the sked. (BTW, it runs the return-of-LJ record to 7-1. Watch out, y’all.)

Oh, look! It’s that Lavender kid (with a double-double)! Wonder where she’s been sitting all year. Another stubborn game by the Shock, but the end result is the same: Sparks win. But, interesting news: Swoopes wants next.

Indiana had nothing to risk (except Catch for 35 minutes?) against New York, and the Lib revisited their Rutgers connection (will Cappie’s fashion show stuff end so she can refocus?) to get a 83-75 win. What’s next in the East?

The Liberty still have a chance to get the No. 2 seed if they win at the Sun on Sunday and the Dream win at Indiana. New York has the tiebreaker in the three-team scenario. If just the Liberty win or if New York and Atlanta both lose, the Liberty will finish third.

Oh, and if you see someone at the CT/Lib game tomorrow wearing a Sue Wicks t-shirt, it’ll be me….

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I just love young writers (Women’s sports deserve recognition, too) ’cause they give you gems like this:

Women weren’t even able to participate in sports until Title IX was enacted in 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination.

Talk about women’s sports needing recognition!

Over at Slam, Jake McKim has: Follow the Leader – Sheryl Swoopes paved the way, so an induction into the KICKS Hall of Fame was only right.

Sheryl Swoopes’s game is solid, stimulating and sexy. The WNBA’s equivalent to Kobe Bryant, Swoopes scorches opponents in so many ways it’s ridiculous: She’ll stop and pop in your face, then coyly smile about it as if to acknowledge the embarrassment just handed out. If she feels like exerting more energy, she’ll burn by you making you look like Forrest Gump before the leg braces came off.

Mechelle writes about the UConn Sun: Huskies help Sun reach playoffs – Connecticut will return to postseason after two-year absence

OK … we know what some of you are thinking, “Oh, great. Another Huskies commercial from ESPN, the worldwide leader in UConn.”

Seems like a good time to reiterate that I didn’t go to UConn, and I’ve never lived in Connecticut. In fact, I’m still eminently capable of getting lost on my visits to the state, no matter how many times I’ve been there.

(And not that it has anything to do with this story, but I will note one thing most Midwesterners can never get used to about New England are “intersections” that have like nine streets feeding into them at bizarre angles. We’re almost always on a grid out in Flyover Country.)

The Washington Post picks up the AP article: A Dream turnaround: After disappointing 3-9 start, Atlanta emerges as WNBA title contenders

To help jump start Atlanta, Meadors also made a lineup change — inserting Armintie Price into the starting lineup 19 games ago. The coach said Price’s intensity on defense has been a major factor in the Dream’s turnaround, calling the guard a “floor general” who uses her experience as an assistant women’s coach for Ole Miss.

Since Price became a starter, the Dream posted a 14-5 record.

Over at espnWhatchamacallit, Michelle Smith notes: Fever has lost momentum down the stretch

What the Fever lack at this moment is momentum. Sunday’s win over Chicago snapped a three-game losing streak, and Connecticut is lurking, hoping to steal first place in the final week of the season. Only a half-game separates the two teams with three games to go.

“We have been a first-place team, but Connecticut is on a run here,” Dunn, the Fever’s head coach, told the Indianapolis Star following Sunday’s game. “We have a lot of teams playing really well, so we really needed to win this game tonight, plus we were coming off some tough losses.”

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Mechelle says….

Ne rest pas on your shocks, Shock: Work must continue for Tulsa – In snapping 20-game losing streak, Shock at least get reminder of how it feels to win

All that brings us to these last two weeks of the WNBA season and a Shock team on a different kind of “streak.” A winning streak.

OK, two victories in a row doesn’t normally get the title “streak.” But it applies here. Because it looked as if Tulsa was doing the equivalent of pushing an out-of-gas clunker through 100-degree heat, hoping to somehow refuel and get running again. It seemed almost impossible. But as Jackson said, they kept pushing.

Two wins in a row — 77-75 Friday at Los Angeles and 83-72 Sunday at home against Connecticut — were a testament to the Shock’s refusal to play dead when most everybody else already thought they were long-ago expired and well into decay. At the very least, the Shock can now only tie the 1998 Mystics for fewest wins in a season.

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That would be 22pts, a whole lotta Latta, and suddenly: a 2-game winning streak for the Shock. This time the victim was Connecticut.

Nate explained Tulsa’s win over LA. Looking forward to his breakdown of this one.

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(other than Irene bearing down on folks — be safe all) is Tulsa shocking LA. While it’s too bad the win didn’t happen in front of their fabulous fans, one can only imagine the hootin’ and hollerin’ happening in Oklahoma and (almost nearby) Fayetteville, Arkansas.

It wasn’t an easy victory (and they almost gave it away... FREE THROWS TJ!!!) and I’ll confess I walked away from the screen a couple of times in the last few minutes, but phew! they pulled it out, thanks to Ms. Swoopes.

When asked if she was surprised that the Sparks didn’t apply any pressure to Swoopes bringing the ball up the floor, Shock head coach Teresa Edwards said she thought LA underestimated her team.

“Like most teams would,” said Edwards. “[Us] being the Tulsa Shock, I wasn’t surprised. I was glad. Less pressure. They waited on us.”

Regarding her 1996 Olympic gold medal-winning teammate having the ball in her hands at that moment of the game, Edwards said, “We called that. Spread the floor, let Sheryl bring it up. She’s our best free-throw shooter and our best closer.”

Meanwhile, in other games, Connecticut and Phoenix put on a helluva show (fans sounded great!). Kara nailed a killer 3-pointer to help push the Sun to a 95-92 win.

In Minnesota, where the bandwagon is getting very popular, it was close until suddenly the Lynx hit the afterburners and boom, they took down the Silver Stars. (Does anyone use the forearm clear more obviously than Whalen? Well, maybe Taurasi….)

Similar game pattern in Chicago, where the Mystics kept it close until the Sky figured out how to GET. IT. TO. BIG. SYL!

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Swoopes, there it is!

And Tulsa gets the win!

nb: Anyone else find it disconcerting that “Guess that Ass!” is a advert on the ESPN wbball site?

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a friend commented on the New York/Shock game yesterday:

Game wasn’t great. Gosh, tulsa SUCKS. But the spoon part was real nice. Brought a tear to my eye. And she was so well-spoken and heart-felt.

’nuff said. Though, if you want more, do check out Queenie’s take.

I didn’t like Marion Jones before this because of her previous scandals and shenanigans. I don’t like her now because she was flat-out gooning out there, going low on players. She contributed one nice flying block, but other than that, I wouldn’t mind seeing her out of the league. Betty Lennox, unsurprisingly, looked rusty. Sheryl Swoopes still has the shot, but her famed defense is not what it was. She committed a lot of holding that the refs either didn’t see or refused to believe that Swoopes could be committing, and it ticked me off.

Liz Cambage really needs a post coach to show her how to use her size, because she’s not using it well as often as she could. She needs to get it together and lay off the dirty play, because I know she’s a nice and exceedingly dorky kid. Doneeka Lewis appeared to have found her shot in this game, and she’s a lot faster than I remembered, but then she lost the shot, and I’m really okay with that.

Meanwhile, in LA, the Mystics made their fans give up... and then regret that they’d given up.

It was Joe Bryant’s first loss since returning as head coach one week ago. And it was the Sparks’ first loss at Staples Center this season.

But the most painful part for the Sparks was that it happened during the greatest second-half comeback in WNBA history.

When they put their head on their pillows, do you think the Sun players mutter, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home?”

I’m guessin’ yup — just ask Indy. Though it took a couple of late free throws from Kara Lawson to preserve their unblemished home mark.

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Swoopes, 40, as passionate as ever – Despite Shock’s 1-9 record, legend looks for best way she can help Tulsa, teammates

You might be wondering how this could be fun for Sheryl Swoopes. She has won everything there is to win in women’s basketball, and so returning for another WNBA season at age 40 had nothing to do with pursuing an ultimate triumph that had eluded her.

Sure, she felt she’d deserved more of a chance to exit the WNBA on her own terms. Yet as the calendar turned to 2011, she was no longer burning with a desire to prove something. In fact, it was as if the call came from the Tulsa Shock after Swoopes already had made some peace with the idea that sometimes you cross a finish line that has no tape to break or crowd to cheer for you.

Swoopes doesn’t act like a woman desperately chasing the sun and trying to keep it from setting. Yet …

Mechelle also chatted Thursday:

kevin (macon ga): Jeff Jacobs had an interesting article about Candace Parker. He suggested she might reach a point where we think of her as similar to oft-injured Fred Lynn rather than similar to dominant Wilt Chamberlain (two other players who won ROY and MVP the same season in their sport). Is it possible she’s headed towards being a case of potential lost to injuries?
Mechelle Voepel: One of things to remember, of course, is part of the time Candace Parker was out in the WNBA wasn’t because of an injury, but because she was on maternity leave … which obviously is not a factor in men’s sports. It seems like there’s been a lot of speculation about Parker that strikes me as a bit too alarmist – she’s still only 25 (birthday was in April). And while there is understandable concern about the time she’s missed and what it portends for her future, I’m not sticking her with the Fred Lynn tag by any means yet.

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