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Thank goodness.

An ugly, cranky start by the Merc gave Maya Moore the Lynx a nice lead. And then then Penny Taylor in the fourth quarter happened. And then… Bonner missed a FT, Maya didn’t, Diana missed a three and Big Syl grabbed the rebound. Lynx go to 4-0, Mercury fall to 0-4.

From Richard at WNBAlien: WNBA and the Pick+Roll, and introducing the W Dozen

Eleven days into the WNBA season, it’s a little early to be drawing any real conclusions (although the ‘Minnesota good’, ‘San Antonio bad’, and ‘What the hell is going on in Phoenix?’ hot-takes are already emerging). So we’re going to take a look at one of the key building-blocks of virtually every modern offense in professional basketball. The pick-and-roll – or even just the pick – is an incredibly simple concept. You put a teammate in the way of your defender, and then force the defense to deal with the problems that creates.

From Excelle: How New York Liberty are remaking their small forward position

The New York Liberty play a throwback style of basketball. Defense and rebounding are priorities 1A and 1B. While other teams move towards smaller fours that can spread the floor, head coach Bill Laimbeer’s squad often plays two traditional bigs together. The Lib will bog teams down to a crawl and punish them in the low post. It’s been a fun and successful brand of ball, and it hasn’t taken away from the more modern aspects of New York’s game. 

This season, the Liberty have scoffed at playing traditional small forwards, opting instead for smaller players who perform despite not fitting the mold.

Connecticut: Slow Start, Too Many Fouls, Mar Beginning Of Miller’s First Season With Sun

Because of the monthlong Olympic break in August, the WNBA season lasts into September so a few missteps in May aren’t going to make a team panic.

Still, the start of season is a critical time for the Connecticut Sun. New coach Curt Miller is trying to install his system and bring a new culture to the franchise. It would be better for all concerned if some positive reinforcement was available early to help the process.

SlamOnline.com: Q+A: Nneka Ogwumike – The fifth-year Sparks forward dishes on L.A.’s hot start.

From Paul Doyle at the Hartford Courant: Dolson Spreads Word On Her Identity, And WNBA’s

About 90 minutes before the Connecticut Sun‘s home opener, Morgan Tuck walked past a cluster of reporters surrounding Washington Mystics center Stefanie Dolson.

“Oh my God, Stefanie Dolson!” Tuck yelled.

Without missing a beat, Dolson replied.

“Oh my God, Morgan Tuck!” she said.

Then it was back answering questions, seamlessly and smiling. Dolson, who left UConn for the WNBA two years ago, is still the same quick-witted, breezy personality who became a fan favorite during her time in Storrs.

From Cosmopolitan: How WNBA Player Imani Boyette Beat the Odds — and Her Depression

From the Fever: Wheelin’ Around: Erica Wheeler’s Journey to the WNBA

NCAA

From the Tennessean’s: Joe Rexrode: Vanderbilt’s Stephanie White — worth the wait

White is the head coach of the WNBA’s Indiana Fever and will remain so through a season that could realistically end in the Finals in mid-October (she led the Fever to the Finals a year ago as a rookie head coach). She might take full command of her first Vandy team less than a month before it starts the 2016-17 season.

That’s not ideal. But if White is what Vanderbilt thinks she is, what her resume and command of a room suggest she is, it’s meaningless. It’s the delayed flight to start a vacation that you’re already laughing about at the end of the vacation.

More on White from the AP’s Teresa Walker: Stephanie White ready to speed up Vanderbilt as new coach

And more on the ‘Around the Rim’ podcast: Meeting expectations

On the latest edition of “Around The Rim,” 2005 WNBA champion Ticha Penicheiro joins women’s basketball analyst LaChina Robinson as special guest host.

The two discuss the Sparks’ dominant win over the Sky, why the Mercury continue to struggle, whether or not teams are exceeding or falling below expectations and which players that usually fly under the radar are playing surprisingly well.

Plus, Hall of Fame coach Lin Dunn stops in to discuss Stephanie White’s end-of-the-season departure to coach at Vanderbilt, her decision to exit retirement and return to coaching at Kentucky and much more.

Speaking of Dunn: Kentucky’s new assistant coaches have strong bonds, common goal

It’s a word rolled out with regularity by head coaches to describe their team and coaching staff: family.

The three new assistant coaches hired by embattled Kentucky women’s basketball coach Matthew Mitchell certainly gave off that familial vibe when they met with the media for the first time Wednesday.

The newest hire, Hall of Famer Lin Dunn, said she thinks of her new boss “almost like a son” before giving a sideways glance and a smirk.

“Not a grandson, but a son,” quipped the 69-year-old, who has won more than 500 games at the college, professional and international levels.

International

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Don’t go to OT.

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

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

Inside The W with Michelle Smith

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

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

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

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

Speaking of Seattle:

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

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

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

Nneka Ogwumike is ‘glue’ for Los Angeles Sparks

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

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

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

Hello, Washington: Jamie Weisner added to the roster.

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

Tara Sullivan: WNBA passing the test of time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NCAA

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

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

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

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

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

Congrats:

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

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

USA Basketball

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

International: Lauren Jackson to the rescue for Melbourne Boomers

AAU: Basketball Rebels Bounce Back After Founder’s Death

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

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

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A heartfelt “THANK YOU!” to the two teams and the amazing fans in the Garden last night. You put on a helluva a show for Mr. Adam Silver aka Don’t Be A Wet Blanket, sir!

Also thrilled to see Suuuuuuuueeeeee celebrating great post play, T Edwards on the edge of her seat, and Val Ackerman one of the original “Originals” stalking the Garden steps. I even have a little love for the Dolson family – even though you were cheering for the Mystics. I see why she’s such a lovely woman…

The Lib and Mystics put on quite the show and, as many observers have noted, the electricity was back.With all my intellectual understanding of how important a NY win is to the league (no disrespect intended to the Mystics fans – they have been amazing and need to recover from some serious mis-management) I was taken aback by the surge of emotion that went through me when Stokes sealed the win with her block and Sugar super-sealed it with her free throws. It’s been a long time, kids.

By the way, FiveThirtyEight Sports – I know you say that “we don’t need no steeenkeen threes,” but I have to say that last night we sure enjoyed every single one Wiggins nailed.

Of course, as a reward, we get to play back-to-back games as we’ve been doubly evicted from the Garden.(First it was Madonna, then it was the Pope… I’m expecting Julio Iglesisas’ secret twin brother Jesus to announce a surprise concert.)

The conference finals open Wednesday in the East (ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET) when New York plays its second game at Madison Square Garden in as many days.

No. 1 New York (23-11 in the regular season) vs. No. 3 Indiana (20-14)

No offense to Washington, but from a league visibility standpoint, having New York in the Eastern Conference finals is a boost to the WNBA. But can the Liberty make it to the WNBA Finals for the first time since 2002? The team trying to stop them has more playoff experience as a franchise — 11 consecutive postseason appearances — and beat the Liberty four of five times during the regular season.

From Swish Appeal: Heavyweight battle: 5 major keys to Eastern Conference Finals

A LATE ADDITION from William: As Liberty Seek Title, Tina Charles Can Now Do More Than Dream

Charles played the full 40 minutes Tuesday and will, in all likelihood, have to play 40 more Wednesday.

No rest? No sweat.

“Being born and raised in New York, nothing is easy,” Charles said Tuesday. “Nothing really goes your way. So it doesn’t surprise me that we have to play tomorrow. It’s New York. Things like this happen. You just got to respond.”

For Charles, who was raised in Jamaica, Queens, and starred at Christ the King High School, Tuesday night brought back memories of the rocking Garden of her youth, cheering for women playing in a new women’s pro league that gave young players new horizons, new hope.

In Minnesota, the Lynx led wire-to-wire as Candace’s Superwoman cape wasn’t quite big enough. More of interest to me is the appearance of Sylvia Fowles. It looked like she was finally interested in taking an active role in this whole “pursuit of a championship” thang.

The Sparks, however, fastened their defense midway through the second half and pulled within one point early in the fourth quarter after a pair of Parker free throws.

But the experienced Lynx dug in, leaned on their veterans and rattled off a 9-0 run.

Augustus knocked down a 14-footer. Sylvia Fowles asserted herself in the paint and muscled through Sparks defenders for a couple of buckets. Superstar Maya Moore hit a step-back jumper and earned several trips to the free-throw line.

“We played on the edge every possession tonight,” Lynx point guard Lindsay Whalen said. “A couple lapses here and there, but that’s what it takes to win those games,”

In other news:

Say, what, Texas???!!!

It was a tense game between two third-grade basketball rivals, but it wouldn’t be until two months later that one team’s coach would feel the full effects.

Jessica Curs was coaching a team of 9-year-old girls in Burleson, Texas, when things got so heated that fans started heckling her, her husband and other coaches, she said. But it was when one particular fan, who turned out to be a plainclothes police officer, said he heard the coach fire back with her own comments that things escalated quickly.

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After that “instant classic,” the Liberty are in D.C. needing a win over the Mystics to extend their season. From the Suffolk Times: Sugar: An ingredient of success

The mid-season return of veteran guard Epiphanny Prince from overseas has reduced Rodgers’ minutes this year, but the Suffolk standout has been an undeniably significant contributor to the Liberty’s success.

“It’s been great,” Rodgers said. “To be honest, I’ve just been living in the moment. It’s always good to make history at a franchise, because they’ll remember this for a long time. So, like I said, I’ve just been living in the moment, appreciating the fact of just being here, just being thankful.”

From bulletsforever:

1. Knock the Libs out of the gym early 

There’s no need for me to talk about stats on this one. But if the Mystics can overwhelm New York from the start along with hometown support, that could very well be the push needed.

In 2013, the Mystics defeated the Atlanta Dream in Game 1 of their playoff series on the road. That gave fans a lot of optimism for Game 2 at the Verizon Center for an elimination game on September 21, 2013. But they came out totally flat in the first quarter and shot 25 percent from the field en route to a 63-45 loss.

In Tulsa, the short-handed Shock kept it close early, but Phoenix Griner made sure they ended their residency in Tulsa on a loss.

Watching Saturday’s night’s WNBA playoff doubleheader, I couldn’t help but think of the differing fates of two franchises and their cities.

Indiana beat Chicago 89-82 to extend their series to a deciding third game Monday in the Windy City. Tulsa, however, was not able to do the same against Phoenix. The defending champion Mercury won 91-67 and move on to the Western Conference finals, where they await the Minnesota-Los Angeles winner.

Now next season, the Shock will pack up and go to Dallas, or more specifically, Arlington, Texas. You could tell how much the Shock players deeply appreciated the loyal fans who kept showing up at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this season even after they knew the team would be theirs only a little longer.

Catch and her Collaborators were on point during a delightful back-and-forth game against Chicago.

“One of the things you have to continue to do against a team like Chicago is try to keep them off balance because they are so good,” Fever coach Stephanie White said. “They get a bead on you, and they exploit you. I thought our players did a good job of changing defenses and changing schemes, and executing those schemes.”

L.A. will see if they can push Minnesota to a Game Three.

Arena logistics aside, the main challenge for the Sparks will be slowing down Lynx forward Maya Moore, who put up a playoff career-high 33 points to go with five rebounds and four steals in Minnesota’s Game 1 victory. She and guard Seimone Augustus combined to score 50 of the team’s 67 points. Earlier in the week, Ogwumike predicted that the key to the Sparks’ success would be how they responded to Minnesota’s offensive attack.

“Our defense is really what’s going to hold our team together,” she said.

BTW, Mechelle sent out an encouraging tweet:

 16 hours ago:Had good conversation w/ NBA exec re: open letter to Adam Silver. Think we understand where each other is coming from, want best for WNBA.

Conversation! We LIKE conversation! Action is better, though…

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by the players. From Layshia Clarendon

Arian Foster doesn’t believe in God.

I do.

We could easily fit into the believer/non-believer binary that religion has constructed over time; a Christian praying for the soul of the faithless and the godless rebuking salvation. There should be tension between us. I should be defensive about my faith when he criticizes Christianity. But I feel more of a kinship with him than most of my fellow believers.

We’re both outsiders in the Christian community — two people who don’t believe in religion as an institution but who invest in and love Jesus’ teachings; Arian, the Agnostic, and me, the Believer, both driven away by Christianity’s exclusivity. We’re the same yet different all at once — religious rebels who are forced aside as they look in on the Christian majority.

From Candice: Full Circle

Every athlete dreams of playing just one game at Madison Square Garden. It’s more than a cultural mecca; it’s a place that inspires the best players in the world to display a level of greatness beyond the imaginable. Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James — some of their most memorable game-time performances happened at the Garden. I watched those games. I imagined what it would be like to take that court, surrounded by fans, the clock ticking overhead — to have my own moment of greatness at a place that makes, and sometimes breaks, legends.

I got that chance in 2010. Life is interesting, though. Even when a dream comes true, it doesn’t play out the way you imagined.

Today’s Fast Break has their All-Time Starting 5: Chicago Sky
No surprise, guess who’s on their list? For WNBA star Elena Delle Donne, it’s all Sky, no limit

August may not be the time you usually think about basketball. But if you haven’t been paying attention this summer, you have been missing perhaps the greatest single season ever put together by a professional basketball player – better than LeBron James, and better than Michael Jordan.

That player’s name is Elena Delle Donne, and if you’ve never heard of her, now would be a good time to start paying attention.

It’s hard to compare players between the NBA and WNBA. That’s why statistics like player efficiency rating (PER) exist. The metric is a normalized stat, such that the league average – no matter what league, no matter what year – is always 15.00. A player’s performance across his or her game, from field goals, to assists, as well as negative results like missed shots and turnovers, are all taken into account. It is also judged by minutes played to account for a player’s contributions per minute.

Delle Donne leads the WNBA in minutes played. She also leads the league in PER. In fact, she leads every league — ever.

From Scoop Jackson: How Elena Delle Donne Is Handling The Pressure Of Her Monster Season

Every now and then, an athlete challenges and possibly makes history. Elena Delle Donne is in the middle of one of those seasons.

Receiving her fourth player of the week award a little more than four weeks before the season even ends, and leading the WNBA in scoring while being in the top five in field goal percentage are only part of it. Her 33.5 efficiency would set a WNBA record if it stands through the end of the season — a PER on pace to be two points higher than the NBA mark set by Wilt Chamberlain (31.8). Put another way, Delle Donne is having a more efficient season than the man whom basketball touts as the king of efficiency — LeBron James — has ever had.

From Bustle, re the above:

A recent interview with espnW presses Delle Donne to talk about how the pressure of the season might be affecting her, asking numerous questions about the “responsibility,” feeling the need to step up her game, “[feeling] the spotlight,” and the possibility of “hitting…a mental wall.” In fact the questions seem so fixated on this angle that I have to wonder if male NBA stars get these same questions stressed so heavily. (I can’t remember ever seeing it, but maybe that’s just me.) However, Delle Donne seems to be doing just fine with all the pressure, regardless.

From Mid Level Exceptional: Elena Delle Donne and the boundaries of usage and efficiency

From Ned Grffin at The Day: Sun’s Lacy is a true pro

The baseball field was a second home of sorts for Jennifer Lacy during her childhood. Her father, Lee, played 16 years in the major leagues, so she grew up around the likes of Dusty Baker and Tommy Lasorda.

“He’s been a big influence on me and my career,” Lacy said about her father. “He always said that sports are peaks and valleys. It really resonates with me. My career has kind of been up and down and in and out, just doing what’s asked of me. I think without that mindset that it would’ve been a lot harder to assume the roles that I have assumed.”

From the Washington Blade: Mystics’ Dolson embraces straight ally role

The Washington Blade caught up with Stefanie Dolson who is playing in her second season with the Washington Mystics in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). The 6’5” Dolson played center at UConn and the team won back-to-back national championships in 2013 and 2014. She was the sixth overall pick in the 2014 WNBA draft and began playing for the Mystics shortly after graduation. During her college years, Dolson stepped forward as a straight sports ally, lending public support to help break down stereotypes, stop discrimination in recruiting and create positive role models for all people, not just the LGBT community.

Sue has Brittany Boyd having a good time on her perfect-fit team and Pondexter-Prince trade paying dividends for all

Sometimes player trades work out so well that it’s hard to tell who has benefited most – the team or the athlete.

Such has been the case for the New York Liberty and Chicago Sky this season, who exchanged Cappie Pondexter and Epiphanny Prince over the winter. Both guards have become rejuvenated in systems that seem to fit them perfectly, to the delight of both themselves and their coaches.

As a result, both Pondexter and Prince are leading their teams in a fierce race for the Eastern Conference title. Going into today’s match ups, Prince and the Liberty are in first place, one game ahead of Pondexter’s Sky. And there is plenty of time left in the regular season.

’cause I know it’s some people’s obsession: WNBA STAR MAYA MOORE KICKS BIG GAME WITH EXCLUSIVE JORDAN SNEAKERS

As to the games, clearly, we’re going to have to wait to see if that coach/player conversation had any impact in Minnesota, ’cause Washington sure didn’t see any change.

Really? It’s been THAT long since New York won in San Antonio?

With Indy and New York on hot streaks, Washington getting feisty, and the Sky feline’s their way, the East’s race to the finish is intriguing.

And, the West is all tipsy-turvey, with Minnesota’s fickleness, Parker’s return, Phoenix’s tank-free-ness and Tula’s stubbornness. Looking at the standings, I had a flashback to when the East was mocked for sending under .500 clubs to the playoffs…Welcome, shoe, to the other foot!

in college news:

You stay put: Women’s Basketball Coach Sue Semrau Signs Extension Through 2020

You stay put, too: New contract keeps Ali Jaques with Siena through 2020

You stay put, three: Texas State’s Zenarae Antoine Signs Contract Extension Through 2017-18

WATN? Rhonda Mapp: 

Rhonda Mapp is helping less fortunate families get ready for school.  

Her Kool Kutz Barbershop and Salon is offering 100 free haircuts and hairstyles as well as book bags and school supplies to children August 23. Doors open at 10 a.m.

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(And no, I’m not talking about me watching a record number of games yesterday…)

Catch and the Fever (not related to KC and the Sunshine Band… or Peter and the Starcatcher) arrived in Phoenix and gave the Merc a good rap on the head. In the process, Tamika moved into 2nd place on the all-time rebounding list and Phoenix went 0-13 on threes.

Yah, you didn’t picture that coming: Mystics topple WNBA-best Lynx behind Latta’s offense, Ruffin-Pratt’s defense

Washington Mystics Coach Mike Thibault had challenged his club’s moxie entering Sunday’s showdown with an opponent widely considered the favorite to win a third WNBA title in five years.

Later in the week, players talked about how a victory over the Minnesota Lynx could alert the rest of the league that perhaps the Mystics belong in the championship conversation as well.

And: How the Mystics beat the WNBA’s best team: Latta and Lawson

Both the Minnesota Lynx and Washington Mystics came into Sunday afternoon’s game with a lot on the line. With the best record in the WNBA, the Lynx would look for a win to help them secure home court advantage throughout the playoffs, and Washington would look for a critical win to help them stand out in a packed Eastern Conference. Ultimately, Washington would come out on top. 77-69

And: Stefanie Dolson finds her comfort level, and Mystics benefit

Washington center Stefanie Dolson came to training camp in May looking a little nervous. It wasn’t that she hadn’t prepared well for her second season in the WNBA, because she definitely had. It wasn’t that she didn’t have confidence in herself, because that’s steadily been building since her days at UConn.

Dolson simply wanted to show she was ready to be an integral part of the Mystics, but she was almost getting in her own way in her early practices.

The Sparks took down Chicago behind Parker’s monster game… making me think that Minnesota is saying, “Lose, Tulsa, LOSE (so L.A. gets the 3rd or 2nd seed.)

BTW: Girls Rule, Boys Drool, Elena Delle Donne and Michelle Beadle style.

In Seattle, the Storm hosted Russell Wilson

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson took a break from training camp on Sunday to attend the Seattle Storm’s 72-63 victory over the San Antonio Silver Stars.

Wilson attended the game with his girlfriend, singer Ciara, his mother and his sister, Anna, who is a point guard entering her senior season in high school. She has committed to play at Stanford.

Russell has said in the past that Anna can beat him one-one-one. He also has called her the best athlete in the family.

Oh, and they beat San Antonio, too.

There are two ways Jewell Loyd communicates — playing basketball and barking.

On Sunday, the No. 1 overall draft pick did a lot of postgame wolfing after leading Seattle to a 72-63 win against the San Antonio Stars at KeyArena. Loyd had a team-high 18 points with six rebounds, four assists and no turnovers.

“We’re trying to find the inner dog within us,” said Loyd of herself, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Markeisha Gatling forming the “Dog Pack.” Loyd began the season asking to not start and has since grown to be named July’s rookie of the month.

Filling out the field: Australia, Canada women’s basketball teams qualify for Rio Olympics

Also: Australia’s Opals off to Rio Olympics after win over New Zealand Tall Ferns

OPALS coach Brendan Joyce expected New Zealand to “grow an arm and a leg” and it did, pushing Australia to the brink in an 80-63 Oceania classic in Tauranga.

Don’t let the blow-out nature of the final score fool you – the Tall Blacks gave Australia as much as it could handle and arguably its toughest game of the past three years, the world championship clash against the US exempted.

But in the end, Joyce’s veterans Laura Hodges and Suzy Batkovic, plus budding playmaker Tessa Lavey ensured the Opals would be heading for another Olympic campaign and medal chase in Rio.

Also: Canadian women’s basketball team wins Olympic spot – Kia Nurse leads host nation with 20 points in final match

Couple of things about the game:

Hey, that’s my sis! Darnell Nurse inspired by sister Kia’s performance in basketball this summer

Darnell Nurse doesn’t know how he can keep up with his younger sister Kia.

Kia helped Canada win the FIBA Americas women’s championship on Sunday night, clinching an Olympic berth at the 2016 Rio Games. She was also instrumental in Canada’s gold-medal performance at the Pan American Games in Toronto earlier this summer.

“I’m not sure what I can do,” said Darnell, a defenceman in the Edmonton Oilers’ organization. “Maybe I’ll have to get out of my comfort zone and challenge her to a one-on-one game on the street before I leave for Edmonton. We’ll see, I’ve got a lot of practising to do.”

Asked if he’d played Kia at basketball recently, Darnell said that discretion had been the better part of valour.

More on the Canadians – and women’s basketball history: Grads’ influence on women’s basketball a dream for Canadian crew – National team did a decent imitation this week at Saville Centre

This isn’t the first time that Edmonton has seen this kind of dominance in the women’s game, but there are very few people still alive who saw it the first time.

With each day they spend in Edmonton, whether training out of the Saville Community Sports Centre or chasing a spot in next year’s Olympic Games, Canada’s women’s basketball team is breathing life into the 100-year-old legacy of the Edmonton Grads — even if that legacy is somewhat under the radar.

Speaking of Canada: Basketball leader recognized

To see Keith Brown coaching at a basketball tournament one would see a quiet reserved gentleman, not your typical coach. However, the passion he has for the sport of basketball is evident.

It’s this passion and dedication to girls’ basketball, and its growth in Grand Falls-Windsor (GFW), that has earned him the award of “Minor Coach of the Year” from the Newfoundland Labrador Basketball Association (NLBA).

During the last basketball season, Keith coached three junior high basketball teams!

Girls’ basketball has grown over the years.  Brown’s passion, knowledge and love of the game has been beneficial to the basketball program in GFW.

Three years ago, it was the East and West Coast teams that were dominating basketball. This past season, Brown brought the sport of basketball to a whole new level with several gold and silver medal wins between his three teams.

Speaking of history (MA): Pioneering Spirit Part I: First a Tiger, then a Friar, Ipswich’s Benirowski Canty ruled the court

The girls athletic programs at Ipswich also blossomed during that period, especially basketball under coach Kiki Papagiotis. She carved out a Hall of Fame career at the school by producing a 209-37 record, including a state championship in 1979-80.

Papagiotis did it with some extraordinary players, of course. Kathy Paganis, who was a field hockey All-American, was one of the keys for the dominant basketball team along with Ellen Galanis, who was the first Ipswich girl to net a college scholarship, ending up at Division 2 Bentley in Waltham. Both Paganis and Galanis graduated in 1977.

Then along came future Ipswich Hall of Famer Jayne Benirowski, who became Jayne Benirowski Canty after she was married. She was the baby of that group, if you will, a sophomore when Paganis and Galanis were seniors.

In NCAA news: In light of the “new violations” self-reported by UNC, Doc Kennedy of the Tar Heel blog is trying to Sort Through The Silly and the Specious of the Weekend

I readily admit I was among those who had consigned Hatchell to the dustbin, given the weight of the NCAA mess coupled with the mass defections from her program by the outstanding recruiting class of 2013. But other than rampant speculation and the lack of an extension of a contract on which three years still remain, is there any evidence that Hatchell is being scapegoated or sacrificed to save Williams or the men’s team?

An editorial in the News & Observer offers their answer: A double standard at UNC-CH over contracts for Williams and Hatchell

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is already facing enough allegations in its academic and athletic fraud scandal to make it one of the broadest sets of charges against an athletic program in NCAA history. Somehow, however, the university’s leadership has found a way to add an entirely new allegation to the mess – sexism.

Encouraging: NYC Vows 500 More High School Teams for Girls

Last spring, administrators at Beacon High School in Manhattan handed out a survey to students.

Rising sophomore Anjali Rao says no explanation or context was given for the questionnaire, which probed her school’s sports offerings and her sports preferences.

The survey didn’t seem like a big deal to Rao. “Beacon is known for its sports,” said the 15 year old in a recent interview at Women’s eNews’ office here. “Girls play the same sports as boys.”

But the information gained from it–due out this fall from the New York Department of Education–may help the country’s largest school system provide girls with more team sports opportunities at its more than 400 high schools.

In February, the U.S. Department of Education determined that many female students in the system did not enjoy equal athletic “opportunities,” a violation of Title IX, the federal law mandating that all schools with public funding provide equitable educational opportunities and benefits; sports included. (A participation opportunity is defined as a roster spot for one athlete on one team in one sport.)

Two shout outs:

  1. To friend, friend of the blog, friend of women’s basketball Phil, who is putting together an amazing “Coaches reaching milestone wins.” HUGE amount of work, but essential so folks across the Divisions and high school get the recognition they deserve
  2. To the folks who have signed up to join me at the Maggie Dixon Classic in the Garden on Monday, December 28th. We’re up to 100. If you want to come with, drop me a line: womenshoopsblog @ gmail.com

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

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

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

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

Lots of other stories floating around the game:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chicago Daily Herald: Elena Delle Donne top hit for Sky

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

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

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

Hit: Elena Delle Donne. Duh.

Swish Appeal: Delle Donne happy, healthy and confident

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SlamOnline: NBA and WNBA Photos Of The Week

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

Mechelle writes about the fabulous WBHOF class:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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BG and Glory was, “At least the authorities took it seriously.” ’cause like some readers, I had a flashback to Rosalind Ross.

The ESPNers wrote eloquently about the “other” things that came to mind: An espnW email chain about the Brittney Griner arrest

When news broke on Thursday that Brittney Griner and her fiancée, Glory Johnson, had been arrested for a domestic incident, it sparked the following thoughtful exchange among several espnW writers about the various complicated tentacles to the story.

How do you cover such a complex issue — breaking news about domestic violence between two women who are both active athletes, are stars of their respective teams and are engaged to each other?

The headlines also prompted other folks to speak. From Arizona: Alesha Durfee, Associate Professor and Graduate Director of Women and Gender Studies at ASU’s School of Social Transformation, Talks About Domestic Violence Among Women

In other W news:

Sweet turnout for basketball star Stefanie Dolson’s visit home

“It was over the top to get to meet Stefanie,” said Catie O’Connor, a fourth-grader at Goshen Intermediate School. “She was so nice. It was really special, it was awesome. It means the world to me. I really look up to her. I’m very excited.”

Dolson, a Minisink Valley graduate who won two national championships at the University of Connecticut and now plays for the Washington Mystics in the WNBA, spent more than two hours meeting with fans at Family Farm. At one point, a long line formed outside the building. According to Family Farm co-owner Jean Halahan, about 500 people showed up to meet the personable Dolson.

Post Draft News:
Liberty makes superb additions on WNBA Draft Day

It was supposed to be an unremarkable draft for the New York Liberty, which traded its first-round pick to the Connecticut Sun in last year’s deal for center Tina Charles, but coach Bill Laimbeer had some surprises. The Liberty traded guard-forward Alex Montgomery to the San Antonio Stars for the ninth pick, with which they chose Brittany Boyd, a tenacious point guard from the University of California who modeled her game after Cappie Pondexter.

Boyd, who played in the 2013 Maggie Dixon Classic in Madison Square Garden, said she loved the energy of the arena. If called upon, she’s ready to be the Liberty’s floor general.


Pitt’s Brianna Kiesel ready for her journey in WNBA

Welch Prepares for Transition to WNBA After a stellar career as a team leader for the Gamecocks

Blake Dietrick, Wellesley native, takes shot at WNBA

Butler High grad Cierra Burdick’s WNBA dream comes true

A little podcast: Dishin & Swishin 4/23/15 Podcast: Stephanie White takes the helm in Indiana, previews the season

WATN? Ticha Penicheiro: Former NBA and WNBA greats put on clinic for Cuban basketball players

and WNBA legend Ruth Riley looking to leave positive impact on Filipino kids.

Ruth also had something to say about how “bad” Connecticut is for the game: UConn raises women’s basketball in US, says former WNBA star

For former WNBA star Ruth Riley, the dominance of University of Connecticut in women’s college basketball does not present a problem.

It’s the catalyst that should raise the bar for the sport in the United States.

“You respect your opponent and you respect the fact that you know it’s an incredible program,” Riley, who won Olympic Gold in the Athens Games in 2004, said Thursday afternoon at Marriott Hotel.

Another WATN? Former Tech and WNBA player Alicia Thompson to be named Lubbock High’s girls basketball coach

On the college front, some disconcerting news, but not totally surprising if you’ve read some of the surrounding area’s message boards:

From a mother’s perspective: The WSU women’s basketball allegations

Former Wichita State players and parents are speaking out about the allegations that Coach Jody Adams and her coaching staff have mentally and verbally abused players in the program. The mother of a former player that transferred said these allegations are nothing new.

She also said that what brings it to life now is the fact that there are four transfers and two of them are starters.

“We’ve voiced concerns for a while now. There have been groups of players that have gone in together. I know several parents that have written letters and have had meetings.”


Eric Sexton issues statement on Jody Adams allegations

Former WSU players speak out on abuse allegations

Former players talk about allegations against WSU women’s basketball – KSN-TV

More Chiney! My Message To My Younger Self (UNFILTERED | CHINEY OGWUMIKE #3)

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this sounds like a hot “denial of transfer” mess (with echoes of a more recent fiasco): Full timeline of Daisha Simmons’ request to transfer from Alabama to Seton Hall

From Asbury Park Press: Alabama called “spiteful” in block of Simmons transfer

Although they may threaten and delay and even impose conditions, college sports teams rarely block someone from transferring to play elsewhere.

Rarer still — virtually unheard of — is a college blocking a transfer who already has a degree.

The case of Daisha Simmons, then, is like Halley’s comet.

More from Swish Appeal: The sad story of Daisha Simmons’ fight to transfer from Alabama to Seton Hall

As reported by multiple outlets during the NCAA offseason, Alabama has taken a hard-line stance in blocking senior Daisha Simmons from transferring to Seton Hall for family reasons. ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas said in an interview with Swish Appeal that the NCAA has done the right thing in response to the blocked transfer request, but Alabama is “acting in a shameful fashion”.

In happier news: Dolson Gives Her Take on the U.S. Women’s National Team

First off, my time with U.S. Women’s National Team was a great experience. It was an honor just to be selected for training camp and then to make it past the first cut and to go with the team to France is something I am very proud of. I came in with confidence and I think that helped me throughout camp and ultimately helped me be in the final 15.

One of the biggest takeaways for me was that I was honored to be around women like Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus (among others). It truly was great to see how they carried themselves. I saw how hard they went in practice. I saw how motivated they were to do everything perfect — even down to streching. I even saw how they handled themselves off the court. When we were not practicing and there was some down time, nobody had headphones on or was in their own world. Everybody was talking and professional. I respected that. It was a learning opportunity for myself and it’s something I can use to my advantage in the future.

The Times-Picayune catches up with Pokey Chatman of Ama, still shining with Women’s National Basketball Association

A little “better late than never” from espnW: HEY FIBA, LET QATARI WOMEN PLAY

The best argument you can make against sports boycotts is that those who show up usually make history. Not those who stay away.

Think of Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Think of John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s Black Power salute at the 1968 Mexico City Games or baseball’s Jackie Robinson. Think of Kathrine Switzer sprinting to elude the race official who was trying to stop her from competing in the 1967 Boston Marathon or Venus Williams taking the microphone after winning the 2009 Dubai Tennis Championships and lamenting the absence of Shahar Pe’er, the Israeli woman who was banned by organizers and denied a visa to enter the Arabic country.

But sometimes refusing to play can actually be the right thing to do.

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And not just because it’s my mom’s 81st.

It’s when Phoenix and Minnesota meet at the Target Center. (And NO, it is not on national TV. Anyone got any pull?). If anyone’s going to derail the Merc’s march to a new WNBA win-streak record, it’ll be the Lynx. Both have leaders drawn from a UConn program that knows records are nice, but it’s winning the final game that earns you the prize.

Maya may be on the road to MVP but, more importantly, she’s gettin’ her posse back. Augustus is back and Brunson is right behind her. Finally, the Lynx *knock wood* are fully healthy for first time all season.

Five of Moore’s WNBA-record 10 30-point outings have come with Augustus out of the lineup.

That’s a double-sided paradigm. Augustus’ absence affords Moore more touches. But it also allows defenses to double-team her more often.

“I think it’s the same for both of them,” Reeve said. “‘Mone can benefit a lot from Maya playing as great as she is. Nothing’s easy for them.”

Brunson’s return offers similar avail in the post. No longer is Janel McCarville primarily responsible for clearing out the lane and tearing down rebounds — both Brunson specialties. Brunson’s post-up abilities also allow Reeve to make full use of her offense, which features a lot of high-motion facilitation from McCarville.

They’ll meet a Merc team that seems to be clicking on multiple cylinders. As the .com’s Kate Bennert notes, Griner is stronger, Diana is leading, and Brondello’s influence is a cypher.

It will be great to see these two teams go at each other, but it’s not just a record on the line, it’s home court and the top seed in the West. I’m not sure if San Antonio or LA should be considered legitimate threats, but both teams have the talent capable of upsetting the favorite. It would be a toss up of who I’d rather face — probably L.A., ’cause Dan Hughes has proven he can coach you right into the loser’s locker room.

Looking at the standings in the East reminds me of the bad old days – 5 of the 6 teams under .500. The East is easily dismissed because it still looks like no one wants the number one spot. The Dream were flying, but have suddenly hit a three-game losing streak (was Coach Cooper that important? Get well fast, sir!)?

No, I’m not counting Seattle out (and hoping Sue Bird is back in), but it’s been a tough season for the Storm – even with triple-doubles.

Will Chicago, with two of it’s big four back healthy (and MIP candidate Quigley) figure out their internal puzzles and be all that they can be? Is the return of Delle Donne on the horizon? Not as optimistic about Vandersloot, though.

Ooooh, look. There are the Mystics – as Stef Dolson, Bria Hartley Continue Smooth Transition To WNBA

Aside from her new swash of purple hair, a look she began to percolate as soon as her UConn career was over, nothing seems particularly different about Stefanie Dolson.

“If you want to know the truth, that [the new hair color] may be the most fun of all this season,” Dolson said. “A conversation starter? Yes.”

Indiana’s keepin’ it together. And Lin’s savoring her “farewell tour.”

Connecticut and New York (not my curse) are fighting not to drown in the basement. The Sun will be cheering against the Lib (whose final games  all East teams, except Phx) because it’ll mean a nice draft pick.

Boy, the off-season coaching carousel ought to be interesting….

Before we get there, Nate has some WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year candidates: Searching for a diamond in the rough

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in the MOOOOOOORRRRNing!

At least when I get up Friday AM, it will be to catch a 6am flight to Omaha to present at a conference and work with some of the fine folks at the Omaha Community Playhouse. But 50% of the players who got up bright and early yesterday morning for afternoon Kid Camp days got a loss for their trouble.

The Mystics ended a four-game skid by taking down San Antonio AT San Antonio, 81-70. Nice to see Dolson fight through a knee sprain and Meesseman and McBride back filling up their stat lines.

Tired Storm legs meant tired Storm shooting. LA managed to defend home court against Seattle, though they almost let their third quarter doom’em again. Sue over at Full Court says the Sparks are collectively dealing with chemistry, line up issues

“I loved how we won,” Los Angeles coach Carol Ross said. “We were resilient, tough, and battled through fatigue. We finished all the way to the end and kept a positive attitude until the end. We never doubted we would win it.”

The Sparks demonstrated the same play last week in defeating the visiting Tulsa Shock. It was a noticeable difference for a team that has been known to lose momentum during games, and have lackluster showings on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court.

“This game we were able to correct our problems, and make plays down the stretch and do what works for us,” All-Star forward Candace Parker said.

She’s baaaaack: Minnesota Lynx today announced the team has signed guard Nadirah McKenith

She’s also baaaaack: The New York Liberty signed free agent forward Charde Houston

Deborah Fleck asks: So how’s Irving MacArthur and Baylor graduate Odyssey Sims doing in the WNBA?

Jayda’s got some stuff to say about WNBA Pride & TV. Meanwhile, Rose Scott at NPR says, The WNBA Televises Its Pride With LGBT Campaign

Ned Griffen says the Sun continue to follow Douglas’ lead

Katie Douglas wanted to talk to Connecticut Sun public and community relations manager Bill Tavares at a recent practice, so she walked over and lowered her shoulder into him.

Laughter ensued.

Douglas was asked about her back, which caused her to miss most of last WNBA season. She had lumbar microdiscectomy surgery last October to correct it.

“The back is good,” Douglas said. “How does it look?”

More laughter.

Honestly, ESPN, that’s the best photo you could find?

BTW: Vote early, vote often:WNBA releases first tally for All-Star game, voting ends July 2

In college news:

UNCW women’s basketball team ready to reap rewards of patience

Adell Harris tried not to take it personally when a parade of UNCW women’s basketball players invaded her office in May 2012looking to leave.

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lovely few days in Minneapolis. Got to hang with family friends, see an overflowing Minnehaha Falls, re-connect with one of the original WHB bloggers, finish the second to last of my WBHOF articles, present a kick-butt conference session with some amazing educators and researchers, and chill with three fabulous munchkins: Theo, Jonah and Mae.

Now I need a nap.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world has contented spinning:

Exciting visit to the White House for Stef… I mean, the UConn’s women’s team. (Oh, dear: UConn women’s basketball in good shape for next title run)

The Lynx aren’t far behind.

New jobs for Megan Duffy and Jocelyn Wyatt and Katy Steding.

Speaking of jobs: Jenny Boucek talks about career, NBA coaching aspirations

FSU lands K-State (finally) transfer Leticia Romero.

I like when this happens: NOLA is tracking LSU alum in the W.

Ray at Swish Appeal has an Interview with San Antonio Stars rookie Kayla McBride: Adjusting to the WNBA

Ben York is talking The Evolution of Diana Taurasi

As her illustrious career continues, Taurasi has adapted to various styles of play that best suits that particular roster and team – something that is infinitely easier said than done, especially when many consider you to be the best player in the world.

In the run-and-gun years, Phoenix needed her to put the ball in the basket as much as humanly possible (not that it would be frowned upon now).

In the past few years, as the league has progressed, they’ve needed her ability to create and get the entire team involved (which is a direct correlation with being amongst the league-leaders in assists).

Nevertheless, it’s one thing to have an evolving game but another thing entirely to be effective at it – and finish amongst the league-leaders in the process.

Are the stars returning to the stands? First, NY gets Billie Jean King, now Ludacris And Others Attend WNBA Atlanta Dream’s “Dads & Daughters Night”

Medic! Lauren Jackson gets more knee surgery. EDD continues to be plagued by Lyme Disease.

From Patricia Babcock McGraw: Struggling Prince trying to find answers

During the Los Angles game, Prince was in uniform for the first time this season. But she did not see the floor.

In Atlanta, Prince made her season debut, but played only 9 minutes. She did, however, score 7 points.

She had been out until that point for personal reasons and joined the team only two weeks ago, battling what seems to be a severe case of mental exhaustion.

As for the games since I departed NY and returned…. can anyone figure this season out? I mean, except for Minnesota, who has got their you-know-what-together?

From David: Dishin & Swishin 06/12/14 Podcast: Underrated as a player and team, Danielle Robinson and San Antonio surprising in the West

Cappie remembers how to score, and the Lib stomp Washington.  (surprise! btw. ESPN still has the Lib in Newark.)

Parker scores a lot and rebounds a lot… but the rest of the team? Not so much. Minnesota dispatched the Sparks at the Staples Center.

Cappie forgets how to score, Diggins does not: Tulsa wipes the floor with New York. And hellooooo Courtney Paris! Welcome to the defense-free Liberty front court. (So much for that “heart-to-heart” meeting, Libs.)

More thumping of the Mystics, this time by Brittney.

Delle Donne-less Sky fall to the Storm. I wonder how much her extended minutes has played into the reoccurrence of the Lyme disease.

The Catch-less Fever rallied to take down Seattle and make Lin Dunn’s big night in Indianapolis extra special.

Steve Lebron at Policymic writes: How Much Women’s Basketball Players Make in the U.S. vs. China

While NBA players secure financial stability the minute they enter the league as first-round picks, the most talented female players are — while adequately compensated relative to other occupations — very low on the financial totem pole for athletes.

Fun times for USA Basketball at the 3×3 tournament.

Speaking of USA Basketball:

U of L’s Hammond calls gold medal experience ‘humbling’

Sara Hammond said Sunday, after representing the United States and earning a gold medal doing so, that her FIBA World Championship experience was tough to put into words.

The University of Louisville basketball player managed nonetheless after her USA Basketball 3×3 women’s team took gold in Moscow.

 

Three sisters, one out-of-sight dad

Jon Samuelson, father of one of the most successful sister acts in women’s basketball, is ever-present in the lives of his three talented daughters — he’s just hard to find during their games.

Samuelson, who played college basketball at Cal State Fullerton and pro ball in Europe, has taught the game to Bonnie, who will be a senior at Stanford this fall; Karlie, a rising sophomore at Stanford; and Katie Lou, a 6-foot-3 wing at Mater Dei High School (Santa Ana, Calif.), a Connecticut recruit and the No. 1 prospect in the 2015 class.

From Amanda Hess at Slate.com: The WNBA Finally Recognizes Its Lesbian Fans

This month, the WNBA became the first American pro sports league to openly recruit LGBTQ fans by launching a dedicated marketing platformselling rainbow basketball pride T-shirts, and sponsoring pride games across the country. On June 22, ESPN2 will air the first-ever nationally televised pride game. WNBA President Laurel Richie frames the strategy as a smart business decision: Recent market research has revealed that 21 percent of lesbians have attended a WNBA game, and 25 percent have watched one on TV. For a league that’s had serious difficulties getting anyone to fill its seats, those stats are astonishing.

The New York Times’ Julie Macur writes: Coast Cleared by Others, W.N.B.A. Finally Finds Its Gay Pride

When Brittney Griner, the No. 1 pick in the 2013 W.N.B.A. draft, heard about her league’s new campaign to market games to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, she said, “What are we going to have, T-shirts, shoes?”

It was about time, Griner said she thought, and then wondered what she could do to help.

I find the comments interesting and insightful (something unusual, we know, when folks comment on articles about women’s athletics.  While I, too, have been frustrated at the far-too underground recognition of the lesbian fan base, I’m finding some of the finger pointing and shoulda-coulda rather tone-deaf.

Simple question: who has more security? The NCAA or the WNBA? Who has more players, more fans, more “institutions?” NCAA, WBCA? I’m lookin’ and YOU.

Doug gives Chiney and Nneka some focus: WNBA’s Ogwumike sisters raise funds for education in Nigeria

WATN? UConn and CT Sun standout Nykesha Sales visits CBC

Oh, the drama: Diamond DeShields to join Vols

More good news for the Vols: Te’a Cooper gives verbal to Tennessee

Speaking of Knoxville: Dunn led way for today’s generation – Lin Dunn to be inducted into Women’s Basketball HOF on Saturday (ESPN3, 7 ET)

There are two kinds of vision, of course. The kind that lets you see what’s in front of you, and the kind that lets you imagine what you hope will one day be there.

Indiana Fever coach Lin Dunn always has had both, going back to her youth in Tennessee in the 1950s and ’60s. Even then, Dunn had a passion for sports and could see strategy and tactics as a natural-born coach. But she also saw what wasn’t there: enough opportunities and support for girls and women in athletics.

When Dunn is inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend in Knoxville, Tennessee, as part of a class of six, the honor will be a testament to Dunn’s determination to make the real world line up better with the possibilities she always imagined.

Lin gets around the “only five minutes to speak at the induction ceremony” rule by writing for ESPN: Five decades of fighting for equality – Lin Dunn to be inducted into Women’s Basketball HOF on Saturday

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Not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I don’t really pay the WNBA pre-season much mind since folks are still abroad and the games are full of names we won’t hear come opening night.

But, this totally stinks: Jeanette Pohlen to Miss 2014 WNBA Season with Torn Achilles Tendon

Hope springs eternal: Revamped Sun, Hoping to Put 2013 Behind, Prepare For Liberty Exhibition

Video: Beyond the Beat – Donovan and Chiney

Noise maker: Follow the leader: Lynx’s Moore becoming more vocal

Video: Old Friends, Together Again (Hartley/Dolson)

The Bun is back in the Land of the Sun and  Training Camp: The “Most Aggressive Thing”

Every team constantly works on their defense throughout the year.

The difference, however, is how they do so.

In Sandy Brondello’s system, working on defense begins with the absolute smallest of details. From the angle the players have their feet planted to how to properly work around pick-and-rolls from various locations on the floor, Brondello wants the Mercury to be aggressive (but smart) on the defensive end.

In Atlanta, it’s Shoni time!

Soon after the Atlanta Dream selected Shoni Schimmel with the No. 8 overall pick in the WNBA draft, coach

Michael Cooper had a conversation with his new guard.

“This is where you’re going to be ‘Showtime’ Schimmel,” Cooper said.

In college news, Kelly’s back! Purdue Women’s Basketball Adds Komara to Women’s Basketball Staff

Good news: UNC women’s basketball coach Hatchell completes treatment

History on display: Beaded dress from Fort Shaw Indian women’s basketball team unveiled at UM

The blue-beaded ceremonial dress has spent the past century in Beverly Braig’s home, reminding her of the woman who wore it during halftime fundraisers at the turn of the 20th century.

While Braig never met her basketball-playing grandmother, Emma Sansaver, her beaded dress has become something of a legend, remembering one of Montana’s greatest athletic achievements and moments of human triumph.

“She was on the world championship Indian women’s basketball team at Fort Shaw that played in the St. Louis World’s Fair,” Braig said. “My hope is that Emma’s dress will cause a conversation that will be a positive influence on Native students, especially women.

And, what! You’ve not read Full Court Quest. For shaaaaaame!

Clay Evans at the Daily Camera writes: What it’s like to be a gay athlete in Boulder

Read literally, some well-known passages in both the Hebrew Bible and New Testament condemn homosexuality (though the Gospel accounts ignore the issue entirely and, curiously, female homosexuality goes unmentioned.) And certainly, homosexuals have been persecuted throughout history (with exceptions; men and boys had sexual relationships in ancient Greece, for example).

But in proportion to other admonitions and calls to action — think, “Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself” — the issue doesn’t seem have the scaffolding to bear the hefty political and religious weight it has assumed in America. That is, no doubt, partly a continuing conservative reaction against changes wrought in the libertine 1960s, and as any minority presses forward, opposition will always rise.

It’s difficult not to think about that larger picture when reading former CU women’s basketball player Kate Fagan’s fast-paced new memoir, “The Reappearing Act: Coming Out as Gay on a College Basketball Team Led by Born-Again Christians.”

What? You’ve not read “The Reappearing Act: Coming Out as Gay on a College Basketball Team Led by Born-Again Christians.” Look deep into my disapproving eyes!

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While “Trader Joooooeeee, Trader Joe” was running through my head at the Tina Charles-to-NY news, other actions just made me shake my head. Truly, it’s going to be an interesting season in the W as all these moves shake out.

Now, time for folks to try and anticipate what it will all mean.

Swish Appeal’s Lee is breaking down the Washington Mystics’ Draft Night and the Crystal Langhorne trade

On the same night when the Washington Wizards soundly defeated the Miami Heat, 114-93 at Verizon Center, Mike Thibault and his staff were in the same building, busy at work trying to improve the Mystics for the future. In a video interview with Monumental Network’s Casey Phillips which you can see above (click here for the video if you cannot see the embed above), Thibault gives his breakdown of what their first round draft pick, Stefanie Dolson, and their acquisition of Bria Hartley and Tianna Hawkinsbring to D.C. this summer.

From Nate: Connecticut selects Chiney Ogwumike first overall

More from Lee: New York Liberty acquires Tina Charles and Tim adds, Sun trade former MVP Charles to Liberty, select Ogwumike No. 1 in 2014 WNBA Draft

Pre-draft, they had  their WNBA draft: Top prospects by tiers

Finding the right comparison for Alyssa Thomas

WNBA draft profile: How good can McBride become?

and WNBA draft profile: Shoni Schimmel, Louisville

Finally, just in case you’re still looking,  here are the 2014 WNBA Draft recap: Top undrafted players

At Full Court, Lee Michaelson wonders, Could Gray be the steal of the 2014 WNBA Draft? and discusses Bria Hartley’s brief tenure with the Seattle Storm

At ESPN, it’s Kate Fagan writing: Chiney follows in Nneka’s footsteps – Stanford star drafted No. 1, two years after older Ogwumike was picked first by L.A

Mechelle had her red pen out: Draft grades: East leads the way

The Western Conference has tended to grab a lot of the headlines in the WNBA and currently boasts the defending champion — and still formidable — Minnesota Lynx. But at Monday’s WNBA draft, most of the intrigue came in the Eastern Conference.

That involved both veterans and draftees finding new homes. None bigger than Connecticut’s Tina Charles — the 2012 MVP — who is going to New York, her hometown. This was a move the Sun said Charles forced, and it added to the youth movement at Connecticut.

Want video? Here ya go:

I’m sure Richard in England stayed up way too late and is, at this very moment, working up his assessment of the draft. Until that is posted, you’ll have to make due with this: WNBAlien Special – Grading the Trade: Three-way deal sends Lawson to D.C., Bentley to Connecticut, and confusion to Atlanta (with Matee Ajavon)

USA Today did some stuff on the draft, too: Behind the scenes with Chiney Ogwumike, the WNBA’s top draft pick

Before getting primped for the night, Chiney relaxes on a couch overlooking ESPN’s draft setup with Baylor point guard Odyssey Sims, who was taken No. 2 by the Tulsa Shock.

They talk about all the things they’ll do once they’re in the WNBA, like putting their paychecks into their savings account and changing their eating habits.

“You can eat what you want, just in moderation,” Chiney said. “Do you cook?”

“Yeah, but it takes too long,” Sims replied. “When I’m hungry, I’m hungry.” They both laugh.

“I’m right there with you,” Chiney said.

Later, after the two were selected 1-2, they hug each other in the hallway outside the draft set. Sims sheds a few tears.

From other folks:

Sun Draft Chiney Ogwumike, Then Trade Tina Charles To Liberty, Courant
Jeff Jacobs: Bitterness Is In The Air With Tina Charles’ Departure Courant

This is a total face-lift, a total eclipse of the Sun. Yet before UConn fans and Sun fans go crazy about Connecticut’s WNBA team trading away one of the greatest players in State U. history, a league MVP only two years ago, this much you should know:

Tina Charles refused to play for the Sun anymore.

“We were told [by Charles’ agent] that if she was not traded, she would sit out,” Mohegan Sun CEO Mitchell Etess said Monday night after the Sun sent Charles, 25, a restricted free agent, to the New York Liberty for Alyssa Thomas, Kelsey Bone and the 2015 No. 1 pick.

WNBA draft: Dolson to Mystics, Hartley to Storm, Post

UConn’s Dolson, Hartley picked back-to-back in WNBA Draft first round, Register
UConn’s Dolson, Hartley will be WNBA teammates, Register
Dolson, Hartley To Play Together For Mystics, Courant
Dolson and Hartley to be teammates again in Washington, Daily Campus


WNBA Draft Facts, Figures, Courant
Pictures: UConn’s Presences In The WNBA, Past, Present, Future, Courant

Maryland’s Alyssa Thomas goes No. 4 in WNBA draft; Washington Mystics take U-Conn.’s Stefanie Dolson, trade Crystal Langhorne, Washington Post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phew!

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

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

Fans show love early in Women’s Final Four

Kara Lawson: No favorite between Pat, Geno

Rebecca Lobo: UConn is beatable

Legendary lady Pat Summitt: Pride of Cheatham County

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

Final Four teams have fun at Ryman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five minutes with ESPN analyst Kara Lawson, Nashville Business Journal

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

 

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

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You kinda knew, but you sorta hoped, and then you saw: “Smoosh” as it was Another Big Game, Another Big Performance By The Huskies

From John Altavilla at the Hartford Courant: No. 1 UConn Women Dominate In 83-61 Win Over No. 2 Duke

You figured time might be on Duke’s side Tuesday. Maybe this would be the night the Blue Devils could put the past behind them and summon the resources to knock UConn off the mountaintop the Huskies have grazed upon for so long.

Yes, that would have made for a nice story.

But the reality was something quite different. Or should we say the same.

Folks had a hard time figuring out who UConn’s brightest star was. From the CT Post’s Rich Elliot: Stewart, No. 1 UConn trounce No. 2 Duke

STAR OF THE GAME: Mosqueda-Lewis made a career-high 7-of-11 3-pointers and scored 21 points.

From Jim Fuller at the New Haven Register: No. 1 UConn ‘Two’ much for Duke

Mosqueda-Lewis hit five 3-pointers in the second half, none bigger than the one after Duke had sliced the lead to 13 and right after she misfired for one of the rare times. When Breanna Stewart grabbed a tough rebound in traffic and the ball made it back to Mosqueda-Lewis, UConn senior guard Bria Hartley said to her teammates and coaches on the bench “she’s not missing two in a row.”

It’s likely Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie had some other words going through her mind at that point.

Elliot and Jeff Jacobs shared headline writers: UConn’s Mosqueda-Lewis returns with a splash and  KML Makes A Big Splash In Her Return

The second brace Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis tried?

“I don’t really feel it,” KML said after she hit a career-high seven three-pointers as UConn routed Duke 83-61 Tuesday night. “It’s better than that huge brace I had on before. It’s just like a sleeve.”

Who knew that the second black brace came equipped with a GPS device? Or maybe it was some crazy, high-tech thingamajig that only some ingenious Dukie could invent. Who knew that KML would be able to punch a few buttons and it would direct the basketball directly from her fingertips to the bottom of the basket? Or maybe the artist — the “artiste,” Geno Auriemma called her — just got into the beautiful shooter’s groove.

Kate Fagan over at ESPN offered a counter-point: Stefanie Dolson is heart of Huskies

Dolson isn’t the most talented player on the UConn roster. That title belongs to Stewart, who scored 24 points against Duke. Nor is Dolson the smoothest member of the squad. That would be junior forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who played for the first time in eight games and dropped 21 points on 7-for-11 shooting from beyond the 3-point line.

But Dolson is the most important player.

When UConn coach Geno Auriemma walked into the press room after the game, he looked at the stat sheet and said, “How many assists did Stefanie have? Six? There are some centers in the country who don’t get six assists in a full year.”

Nate agrees:

Stefanie Dolson might not be focal point of the highlights from UConn’s 83-61 win over Duke last night, but her presence in the game was undeniable.

Perfectly receiving the ball in the high post, turning and finding the open player. Beautifully stepping into a 3-point shot as the ball is rotated to her after a defensive breakdown. Setting the screen that frees up the player who ends up scoring.

Of course, playing without much fanfare is not new for Dolson

From the News & Observer’s Jacobs: No. 2 Duke women again fall short vs. No. 1 UConn

“I’m looking for a shift,” McCallie said earlier this year. “Something’s going to shift. Something’s going to go – boom! And you’ll know it when you see it. That will be the beauty of it.”

But the long-awaited shift did not come against UConn, which instead lowered the boom in a suspenseless 83-61 victory.

The game stayed close only through the first media timeout. Then the Huskies went on a 24-4 tear as Duke displayed almost breathless impatience, fumbling the ball, losing concentration, and employing what McCallie described as “horrible shot selection.” Afterward the coach said, “It’s very disappointing, because we didn’t fight throughout.”

From Rob Clough over Full Court (UConn 83, Duke 61: Same song, seventh verse) and at DWHoops: Different Season, Same Story Again

There were a few stats that truly defined UConn’s relatively easy win over Duke in the Jimmy V Classic. UConn had 25 assists on their 30 field goals, a testament to their extremely precise and unselfish passing. The second telling stat is their 20-4 edge in second chance points, which reflects how much they outhustled the Devils. When one combines skill, speed and hustle, it’s hard to defeat that team, especially if their jump-shooting is highly effective. What was a close game in the first five minutes of the game turned into a “tough shot” contest that UConn won going away over the next ten minutes, a span that coach Geno Auriemma described as when “we did nothing wrong”. Duke started taking contested jump shots, one-dribble jumpers, one-pass jumpers, etc. instead of at least trying to attack the basket.

Who knows what the future holds...for the Duke v. UConn series.

Other ranked teams did their fair share of Smooshing: Georgia, Tennessee, Louisville and LSU.

In other news… some GOOD news: Sylvia Hatchell doing ‘really good’ – UNC coach still hoping for possible return to sideline by season’s end

The first thing Sylvia Hatchell does is reassure you. Yes, she’s feeling OK. Better than that, in fact.

“I am doing really good right now,” Hatchell said, then adds with a chuckle, “My biggest problem is I get bored.”

Hatchell would love nothing more than to be at work with her North Carolina women’s basketball team, deep into her daily to-do list. Cancer has a way, though, of shoving itself to the top of that list and trying to force off everything else.

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Yup.

Thanks to Nan for doing some of my work:

UConn women face early test in No. 3 Stanford, Post
Dolson, UConn frontcourt deliver strong message, Post
No. 1 UConn women’s game day: Monday vs. No. 3 Stanford, Post
UConn Women Ready For Visit From No. 3 Stanford, Courant
Preview Capsule: No.3 Stanford At No. 1 UConn, Courant
UConn hosts Stanford in a banner matchup, Register
Younger Ogwumike sister carving out her own legacy at Stanford, Register
Stanford comes to Gampel tonight looking for some revenge, Day
No. 1 Huskies top Rizzotti, Hartford, face No. 3 Stanford Monday night, Daily Campus
Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer on the doorstep of elite coaching club, San Francisco Chronicle

From ESPN:

Michelle writes, “Cardinal must be more than Chiney”

Mechelle’s piece I linked previously is her “preview” for the UNC/Tennessee game: Time for Tennessee to just play

From Melanie Jackson: Doubleheader to introduce new faces

If you are a women’s basketball fan, there are some names you’ve likely heard a lot, but you might not have seen the players yet. Monday, you’ll have the chance.

North Carolina hosts Tennessee (ESPN2 and WatchESPN, 9 p.m. ET; Stanford plays UConn at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and WatchESPN) in a game that will be an early showcase for some of the top freshmen this season.

The Tar Heels’ Diamond DeShields, Stephanie Mavunga, Allisha Gray and Jessica Washington comprised what was generally ranked the No. 1 recruiting class this year. North Carolina also has two redshirt freshmen, Hillary Fuller (foot) and Hillary Summers (knee), who sat out last season with injury issues.

From Harold Gutmann at the Herald Sun: UNC’s freshmen face early test vs. Lady Vols

From the AP’s Aaron Beard: No. 12 Tar Heels host No. 4 Lady Vols

North Carolina’s youngsters didn’t get much time to prepare for their first major challenge in college.

With No. 4 Tennessee arriving Monday, the No. 12 Tar Heels will have a tough test that comes early in their work to shape a team featuring the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class and reigning Atlantic Coast Conference rookie of the year Xylina McDaniel.

Freshman Diamond DeShields says Monday means, “America’s basically going to see us and what we have to offer.”

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(and some of the coaches, too)

UConn Women’s Basketball Kicks Off BTS Tour of Champions

In Support of LGBTQ Inclusion

University of Connecticut women’s basketball went 35-4 during the 2012-2013 season, capturing its eighth NCAA Division I national championship title. As some of the most recognizable names and faces in the country, the Huskies understand the importance of using fame and notoriety to impact social change. UConn women’s basketball partners with Br{ache the Silence Campaign as the first team to kick off Tour of Champions, a national initiative to increase the visibility of positive role models by highlighting NCAA Division I women’s national champions who advocate for LGBTQ inclusion in women’s college sports.

UConn women’s basketball student-athletes, Bria Hartley, Stefanie Dolson, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Brianna Banks used their own creative vision to share the importance of being not only the best in the game, but champions of respect and inclusion on and off the court.

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crowds?

Don’t know how it came across on TV, but it seemed the energy and reactions of the fans during the two games mirrored the teams. During the game game between the two young pups, fans were pumped and enthusiastic and energized in a “Wheee! We’re here! We’re a little nervous, but BOY-O, it’s a new experience!”

During the second game between the two old dogs, fans seemed tense and anxious, weighed down by history and expectation. It was as if they were afraid to invest too much in the outcome, since so much seemed already invested. In made for quiet, nervous viewing from both blue and neon-green clad fans.

Anyhoot-and-any, that’s what if felt/looked like from the nosebleeds. Now from the view at court level:

Louisville Women A Step Closer To Goal, Courant
Antonita Slaughter makes it a distance run, Louisville Courier Journal

Louisville women continue to shock college basketball, CardinalSports.com

Analysis: Louisville 64, Cal 57, ESPN

Party crashers? Sorry, Jeff Walz, your team remains the life of this postseason party. 

Louisville’s coach had T-shirts printed up for his traveling party that had “#partycrashers” emblazoned on the back, a reference to his team’s role in denying the Final Four either a final appearance from Brittney Griner or a familiar face in Tennessee. That was the attitude the Cardinals brought with them, an us-against-the-world mentality that invited people to fuel their fire by doubing them. But after a wild second-half comeback and a 64-57 win against California, the Cardinals are going to have to deal with the fact that they’re the life of this party.

At Full Court: Cinderella season continues for Cardinals, ends for Cal

Cal Bears women’s basketball team falls to Louisville in the NCAA semifinals, Mercury News

With Cal stinging from defeat in the semifinals of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, senior Layshia Clarendon immediately offered her teammates positive words to put the 64-57 loss to Louisville in perspective.

“Don’t hang your heads, we’ve come too far,” was the message Clarendon said she delivered to her teammates. “I just can’t help but smile because what we’ve done is beyond amazing.”

Cal comes up just short, San Francisco Gate

Cal disappointed, but not devastated, ESPN

UConn defeats Notre Dame to advance to national title game, Register
Fourth time’s the charm, Day
UConn breaks curse of the Irish, Day
Dolson has become a media star, Day

Dolson is a budding media star, answering questions with corresponding facial expressions and voice intonations that match her wit. When NBC Connecticut’s Dianna Russini asked Dolson about her expectations for New Orleans last week, Dolson shot back, “wait til you see my dress.”

Dolson unloaded a few four-letter words after collapsing to the deck in the regionals last week, fearing her aching legs and feet might have finally endured the big one. She grinned when asked about it later and in a high pitched voice, said, “awkward.”

Stewart has entered rare air, Day
Rich Elliott: New, improved Huskies get better of Irish this time, Post
Kevin Duffy: Freshman Stewart rises to occasion, Post

Twenty nine points later, after an all-time great individual effort, Breanna Stewart was the hero, swarmed by her teammates. It looked, though, that she didn’t want any part in the celebration.

“That’s Stewie,” joked Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis. “She’s very emotionless.”

Outwardly, yes. But on the inside, Auriemma suggests that Stewart — who hit the inevitable freshman wall a few months ago — is hardly “emotionless.”

Huskies Break Notre Dame’s Spell, Winning 83-65, Courant
Jeff Jacobs: Behold The Metamorphosis Of Breanna Stewart, Courant

As she put her hands about two inches from Auriemma’s hair, fake massaging the most famous coiffure in women’s basketball at the postgame news conference, Stewie, the simultaneously intense and goofball freshman, had shown America this was no joke at all.

“Stewie probably puts as much pressure on herself as any kid I’ve ever coached,” Auriemma said to ESPN after the game. “My God, she was amazing tonight.”

Pictures: UConn Women Vs. Notre Dame In Final Four, Courant
Video: UConn Women At The Final Four, Courant

From Mel: UConn snaps the Notre Dame spell — and gets Louisville’s wizardry next

Huskies Conquer Demons, and Irish, NY Times
UConn’s next star steps to the fore, NCAA.com
Stewart finds stride at right time, ESPN
Huskies turnaround keys: Stewart, defense, ESPN
Freshman Breanna Stewart takes charge for UConn, USA Today

Notre Dame women’s basketball: Irish dream denied, South Bend Tribune

“It’s been a dream come true, just having the opportunity to play for my hometown school and right in my backyard for coach (Muffet) McGraw, and just being able to learn from her every day,” Diggins said. “The experiences I’ve gone through, I’ll never forget. The people that I’ve met, I’ll never forget. It was just such a great time, and I had a great time going through it. I wouldn’t want a different group of girls in the locker room, I wouldn’t want a different group of coaches. “Just the people I’ve met … I know they will be a part of my circle of life. That’s just a blessing in itself.”

Notre Dame women’s basketball: Tough way to end a stellar career, South Bend Tribune

Bitter end for Notre Dame, Diggins: Irish’s season, star’s career finished at the hands of rival UConn, Chicago Tribune

Diggins denied, but still a winner, ESPN

Diggins ends legendary collegiate career, The Observer

Skylar Diggins exits stage as UConn advances to title game, Sports Illustrated

“We were a Sweet Sixteen team before she came here, and suddenly, we became a Final Four team,” said McGraw, teary-eyed in the Notre Dame locker room. “That changes the perspective nationally. Certainly, she is the main focus behind that. I hope there’s another one out there, but I think she’s one in a million.”

UConn is familiar foe … and has a 12-1 record against Louiville women, Louisville Courier Journal

Five thoughts for Tuesday’s final, ESPN

Queenie has some Notes, observations, and random things from New Orleans.

And in shocking news: BREAKING: Jeff Walz To Resign After Title Game To Work For Geno

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In Louisville land: Mayor Declares Friday ‘Cardinal Red Day’

Mayor’s been busy: Louisville mayor bets bourbon on NCAA games

John Roach notes: Final Four ‘party crasher’ Louisville enjoys its run

From the Courier-Journal: Louisville women’s basketball team moving into elite company

Since 2009, six women’s basketball teams have made multiple appearances in the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four.

The University of Louisville joined that sorority with Tuesday night’s 86-78 victory over Tennessee to capture the Oklahoma City Regional. Connecticut, Notre Dame, Baylor, Stanford and Oklahoma are the only other programs to reach the sport’s premier stage twice in the past five years.

To put that in perspective, U of L (28-8) has enjoyed more recent NCAA Tournament success than Tennessee.

Stefanie Dolson is bloggin’: Off to New Orleans!

So’s Elena Delle Donne: I followed my heart, and it worked out

So’s Layshia Clarendon: We’re ready for beignets — and the Final Four

From the AP’s Janie McCauley (really short piece): Gottlieb’s upbeat approach leads Cal to Final Four

From the SF Examiner: Lindsay Gottlieb making remarkable impact on Cal in just her second year

Consider Barbour’s two big hires: Mike Montgomery and Lindsay Gottlieb. Montgomery’s men’s basketball team has reached the NCAA Tournament four times in his five years at Cal and Gottlieb’s women’s basketball team is getting ready to tip off in the program’s first Final Four appearance against Louisville on Sunday.

Montgomery’s success isn’t exactly surprising, but who other than Barbour believed that this fresh-faced 35-year-old from the East Coast would lead Cal to the Final Four in her second season at the helm?

This is a truly remarkable accomplishment and the exposure should elevate the program for years to come.

From Michelle: Now introducing … the California Golden Bears: Five things you should know about the upstart Bears

From Stephanie Hammon at the Contra Costa Times: Cal women basketball team prepares for Louisville, Final Four trip

From Curt at the SBT: Teammates get Diggins’ message

“I wear my emotions on my sleeve,” Diggins said. “I’ve always been a player who is very emotional. I think that gets my teammates going. When you have that look, people understand. ‘Oh, you better bring it.’ It gets my team energized, it gets the fans energized. It gets the coaching staff calm, because they know they can trust me. It gets me fired up. I don’t know if I do it for me or my team.”

Mike Lopresti at USA Today says there’s Nothing friendly but coaches in women’s UConn-Irish tilt

Rich Elliott says UConn’s Hartley thrives in new role off UConn bench

“Every decision you make, you make it with your fingers crossed and you hope that it works,” Auriemma said. “This particular decision, it was, `Hey Bria, we need some energy coming off the bench. We need some scoring. We need to change the way the game is played.’ You don’t know whether Bria is going to pout a little bit and feel sorry for herself and not be sure. But she’s come out and done exactly what we want her to do.”

Carl Ademac says Faris is getting what she deserves

Dueling writers:

From the Times-Picayune: 2013 Women’s Final Four features good storylines even without Baylor

From the Connecticut Post: No Griner a serious hit to Final 4 star power

The APs Brett Martel notices that the Old Big East is going out with a bang at women’s Final Four

Three of the four teams — Connecticut, Louisville and Notre Dame — hail from a league that has long thrived in both women’s and men’s college basketball, but which is breaking apart after this season.

“I guess the shout-out should go out to all the (university) presidents for having the foresight to tear apart the greatest basketball conference that ever existed,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma sarcastically said during a women’s Final Four coaches conference call Wednesday, noting that two teams in the men’s Final Four (Louisville and Syracuse) also are from the Big East. “But I guess it’s a great swan song.

Wondering What’s the buzz on Bourbon Street? Ask Charlie.

Mechelle has Five trendy topics for New Orleans

UConn’s Geno Auriemma and Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw are regulars. Louisville’s Jeff Walz has done this once before. Cal’s Lindsay Gottlieb is the boundlessly enthusiastic rookie.

All four spoke Wednesday during the annual Women’s Final Four coaches’ teleconferences, during which media are always scrambling for nuggets before everyone heads to the city where the national champion will be crowned.

This time around, fortunately, we had only one question about the ridiculous Brittney Griner/NBA nonstory. Auriemma got tossed that grenade, and he smothered it expertly. (Note to Mark Cuban: Here’s something about which we’d actually like to hear a “Why not give it a chance?” answer from you: owning a WNBA team.)

From Mechelle’s chat:

…does anybody else find it a little absurd – if that’s the right word – that we’re talking about whether Louisville’s women’s team – the No. 5 seed – was allowed to be too rough with Griner in the NCAA tournament and that disrupted her … and then supposedly also “debating” whether Griner could make an NBA roster right now?

Beth Mowins and Debbie Antonelli discuss the road to the Final Four on their podcast.

From Dishin’ and Swishin’: Doug Bruno of DePaul breaks down the three Big East teams, and Kevin McGuff of Washington breaks down Cal. 

Going to join me in New Orleans? Here’s the 2013 Women’s Final Four schedule of events

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Now that Baylor is gone and everybody’s brackets have gone boom! (except for Mom and Dad Cardinals), Fagan has Elite Eight: Five points to ponder

She also says Kentucky ready for UConn rematch

Kentucky says it isn’t scared of Connecticut — not at all.

On Monday night, we’ll discover whether that’s empty rhetoric or reality, but the Wildcats were emphatic Sunday afternoon about how unafraid they are to face top-seeded UConn, arguably the greatest program in women’s college basketball history. In this way, Kentucky is borrowing a page from Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins, who told reporters earlier this year, “I think a lot of people are afraid of the name on the front of the jersey, and I don’t think we are anymore.”

From Full Court, A’Dia Mathies and Kentucky are “focusing on what we need to do”

Doug at the AP has a UConn/KY preview

Matthew Mitchell is trying to build Kentucky into a women’s basketball power. Getting to the Final Four for the first time will be a huge step in reaching that goal.

Mitchell’s team is one victory away, and Connecticut stands in the way for the second straight season. The two teams played last year and UConn came away with a 15-point victory. They’ll meet again Monday night in the Bridgeport regional final.

UK women: ‘We beat ourselves’ vs. UConn last year, Lexington Herald Leader
Mark Story: ‘Bigs’ will determine Kentucky’s fate versus UConn, Lexington Herald Leader
Auriemma heaps praise on UK’s Mitchell, Lexington Herald Leader
Kentucky worked to put time on their side, Louisville Courier Journal
The clock is ticking for Kentucky, Post

The biggest theme in the UConn Horde coverage is injuries — especially to Dolson, who is very hobbled.

Dolson is laughing in the face of pain, Hour
Despite injuries, UConn one win from Final Four goal, Post
UConn In A Good Spot, But It Hasn’t Come Without Pain, Courant

Huskies can make record sixth straight Final Four appearance with win over Kentucky, Register
Bria Hartley will square off against good friend Jennifer O’Neill of Kentucky, Register

One last test for Huskies, Day
Huskies set to battle Wildcats for another Final Four berth, Hour

Out west, Michelle has Georgia, Cal seniors still being tested

Ask Andy Landers about his senior class and then get ready. He’s about to start telling the story about a program that wasn’t what it once was and how one of the game’s legendary coaches planned to get it back.

“Let’s set the stage,” Landers says, as he begins the tale of a senior class, five kids who came into his program four years ago and needed a history lesson. So Landers gave it to them.

“High school kids don’t really know a lot about what they are signing up for,” Landers said. “They don’t understand that it’s a big-time commitment if you are going to win, if you are going to be the best you can be. So the first thing we wanted to do was educate them.”

At the Advocate, Scott Rabalais says

Andy Landers pulled no punches. The Georgia coach never does.

Georgia women’s basketball, in his estimation, was broken. Not shattered — the Lady Bulldogs were still reaching the NCAA tournament every year and occasionally making a run.

But nothing as deep as Georgia’s five Women’s Final Fours, the most recent one in 1999, or its previous trip to the Elite Eight against LSU in 2004.

That began to change when his current seniors were freshmen. And that team will square off with California in Monday’s Spokane Regional final.

The APs Tim Booth offers up Georgia women’s basketball to take on California in tonight’s Spokane Regional final

Thanks for sharing Killion’s piece: Cal women’s bond forged from tragedies

The summer after her sophomore year, Eliza Pierre was full of information from her African American studies classes at Cal. Then 20, she came home to Southern California for a visit and shared the sobering facts she had learned about young black men in America – statistics about the homicide rate, gun violence and incarceration.

She warned her 22-year old brother, Wilson, to be careful and joked with her mother that they needed to keep an eye on him.

That was the last time Pierre saw Wilson. He was gunned down at a party a few weeks later and died at the hospital.

Pierre is one of three members of Cal’s basketball team whose lives have been changed by homicide. Gennifer Brandon’s father was shot and killed by police when she was 6 – mistaken for an armed-robbery suspect. Tierra Rogers’ father was shot to death on a San Francisco street corner during halftime of one of her high school games.

One basketball team. Three players. Three tragedies.

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the WNIT starts. Check out the teams and the match-ups. Some good ones happening.

Graham says, Sophs could be key to UConn’s season – Bria Hartley, Stefanie Dolson should help Huskies move on in post-Maya Moore era

But if the juniors and seniors are largely known quantities and there is a limit as to what can be reasonably expected of Mosqueda-Lewis and the rest of a freshman class that includes post presence Kiah Stokes and gifted scoring guard Brianna Banks, the difference between a very good season and one that ends at the Final Four in Denver is whether or not Hartley and Dolson can translate their freshman potential into sophomore success.

At Connecticut’s media day earlier this fall, Auriemma was asked about Hartley playing off the ball in practice after she played mostly point guard as a freshman for a team that was without an injured Doty.

“She played off the ball, all right,” Auriemma quipped of her practice performance. “She played the ball off people’s heads, she played it off the corner pocket, she played it off everywhere.

Graham has more Big East stuff: Twin plays big part of Novosel success – Brother Nathan helped Notre Dame star get through sophomore struggle

Twins Natalie and Nathan Novosel might well finish their senior seasons sharing a unique bond as champions and All-Americans on the basketball court. The more important bond, the one that made it possible, is one familiar the world over.

It’s nice to have someone who knows what you’re going through. It’s sometimes better to have someone who simply knows you.

And for what it’s worth, if you don’t have to share a car with that person, that would be swell.

Mechelle writes about SEC land: Seniors have unfinished business – Shekinna Stricklen and Glory Johnson still seek their first

Johnson, a cerebral type, is a fan of author William Faulkner. She couldn’t have guessed — after staying in town after a prep career at Webb School in Knoxville, Tenn. — that she would experience enough high and lows in college to make for a suitable Faulkner novel.

“On the floor, you know you can only change things you can control,” Johnson said of what she has learned. “If you can’t control it, you have to play through it. Whatever the case, just try to do your best. And that applies off the court, too.

“I’ll take that along with me when I leave here, through my career, when I’m married, when I have a family.”

Over at espnW the Gators look to raise their game and in the Big 10 (are they the Big 10 still? I’ve lost track) the question is Can Prahalis keep OSU on top?

Don’t forget the Stanford stuff: Stanford quartet takes chance with voices

And now that we’re over at the W, a couple of side-topics that you might be interested in: FIFA must stand up for gay rights

Just before the start of the World Cup, a New York Times article exposed Uche’s troubling stance on homosexuality. She told the Times she has used religion to try to rid her team of homosexuality, and in the past she has called the presence of lesbians on her team a “worrisome experience” and labeled homosexuality a “dirty issue.”

“The issue of lesbianism is common,” Uche told the paper in June. “I came to realize it is not a physical battle; we need divine intervention in order to control and curb it. I tell you it worked for us. This is a thing of the past. It is never mentioned.”

Uche’s comments caught the eye of AllOut.org, an international group dedicated to the promotion and protection of LGBT rights. AllOut organized a flash-mob protest during the World Cup semifinal match in Frankfurt on July 13, hoping to encourage FIFA to better enforce its policies on discrimination. There was a great deal of media coverage leading up to the protest, which coincided with FIFA’s annual anti-discrimination day.

For those of us who grew up playing field hockey: Rachel Dawson meditates on stunning win

U.S. field hockey midfielder Rachel Dawson, a 2008 Olympian, is blogging for espnW throughout the Pan Am Games. On Friday, the U.S. team shocked world champion Argentina, winning gold and earning a berth in next year’s Olympic Games.

And, remember the push to put basketball players in skirts because it would bring more fans by making the players “seem more feminine.” Yup, there is more idiocy afoot! Skirting the issue: boxing’s step backward

Last week, the story broke about the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) asking its female competitors to abide by a new dress code. The AIBA called for the women of boxing to drop traditional knee-length shorts and don skirts inside the ring.

The reason? The AIBA believes it will help spectators to distinguish women from men. That, and as Polish coach Leszek Piotrowski, who made the skirt suggestion mandatory for the Polish team, put it: “By wearing skirts, in my opinion, it gives a good impression, a womanly impression. Wearing shorts is not a good way for women boxers to dress.”

Where are Laila Ali and Vonda Ward when ya need’em?

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the WaPo article, Dissecting women’s college basketball, is in the Arts & Leisure/Style section? (Yah, I know, don’t look gift coverage in the mouth, Helen)

Other random articles of interest:
From Illinois: After serious illness limits her hearing, Mingo calls basketball ‘a blessing’

From Ohio: Buckeyes claw their way back out of losing spiral and OSU women can’t let off the pedal

From Graham: Ta’Shia Phillips is one of a kind and Ebony Gainey starts, shoots … and scores

There are times, Ebony Gainey admits, when she wonders about what could have been or thinks back to what she envisioned the present would look like when it was still a future waiting to take shape. Only a belief that all things happen for a reason offers the strength to keep regret and bitterness at bay, the past less deserving of her attention than the future.

Whatever happened Saturday when Gainey took the court for Dayton’s game against Fordham, the first game of a college career seemingly cut short by a heart ailment before it began four seasons ago, wasn’t going to change any of that. As Dayton coach Jim Jabir suggested beforehand, whether Gainey got a shot or scored mattered less than simply seeing her in a uniform and in the starting lineup after withstanding years of adversity, including the loss of a beloved older sister and the loss of a sport that enthralled her.

From New York: UConn’s Hopes for 8th Title May Rest With Dolson

From California: Stanford seniors look to finish 63-0 at home

From Michigan: After starting during turbulent time for Michigan State women’s basketball squad, seniors now have special bond

From North Carolina: Heels’ Breland is struggling

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