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

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

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

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

Sucky Sancho news, though.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not. Okay. SO not okay.

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

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

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

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

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

From Jeff Metcalfe: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fever: USC’s Mitchell thriving in WNBA

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

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

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

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

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

LaChina’s Podcast: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NCAA: 

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

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

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

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

Congrats:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Social Reaction: Swin Cash’s Retirement

Film Room: Running Down a Dream

Candace Parker Provides Perfect Spark

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

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

NCAA

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

High/Middle School

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

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

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

WBHOF

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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That’s the phrase that comes to mind as I scan yesterday’s results… so many good teams upset and, suddenly, the season crafted to reach the NCAA’s is done.

ODU (17-16, 10-8) continued its unexpected tun  in the C-USA, surprising UTEP (26-4, 16-2 C-USA) with a strong fourth quarter.

The Lady Monarchs, who began the season 1-6 against a rugged schedule, are a win from returning to the NCAAs for the first time since 2008. They have not made a conference tournament final since they lost to James Madison in the Colonial Athletic Association championship in 2010.

“We knew coming into this game it was going to be tough, and we had to own our identity, which was passion, rebounding and defense,” Barefoot said. “Our offense has been flowing and we’ve been feeling really good about that, too.

In the MAC, Buffalo is still dancing, this time courtesy of their 88-87 win over Akron.

For the first time in school history, the University at Buffalo women’s basketball team will play for a Mid-American Conference championship after upsetting 5th-seeded Akron, 88-87, in the semifinals of the MAC Tournament on Friday afternoon.

“I’m just so proud of this young team,” head coach Felisha Legette-Jack said. “They’re resilient, I tell you. We’re getting better.  We’ve got a long way to go, but we’re going to enjoy this moment for sure.”

Troy, who loves to score, withstood a furious comeback in the fourth quarter by Arkansas State took down the top-seed in the Sun Belt, 96-89.

“I thought this was a great women’s basketball game today,” Troy head coach Chanda Rigby said.  “When I got the opportunity to come to Troy, one of the things I wanted to do was carry on my style of being sold out to try and make women’s basketball more exciting.”

Sam Houston (13-17, 7-11) knocked Stephen F. Austin (18-12, 12-6) out of the Southland, 78-70.

Sam Houston (13-17) was tenacious inside, outrebounding the Ladyjacks, 42-27, led by 13 from Angela Beadle, who was one of four Bearkats in double-digits with 15 points. She also added her 1,000th career rebound and has 1,003. The Kats shot 49 percent from the field, the fourth-best mark of the season.

“I am very excited for Beadle,” Sam Houston head coach Brenda Welch-Nichols said. “At the end of the game, we leaned in to each other and said, ‘way overdue.’ There are a lot of great things that this game means to us. First of all, it’s a big rivalry, and second of all, we were able to advance to the next round. These ladies work hard and I am ecstatic.”

Idaho State (18-14, 8-10) sent North Dakota (18-13, 13-5) packing, and now has a shot at an NCAA Tourney slot.

“It was a tough game for us,” UND coach Travis Brewster said. “Really have to credit Idaho State. They came out and took it to us right away. From start to finish, they did a good job of pushing the tempo.

“We came out flat and battled back. But they answered every time we had a run.”

A little Big West Heartbreak: UC Davis spoiled UC Riverside’s perfect run in conference play, 81-72.

For the first time in nearly three months, UC Riverside couldn’t find a way to get up. The shorthanded Highlanders have held off bigger and more physical opponents this season, players essentially willing themselves to make it to the buzzer before exhaustion took over.

A little Patriot Heartbreak: We won’t get the Finals we expected. Joe Logan’s Loyola team pulled off a HUGE upset, holding off a furious comeback attempt by Bucknell, 66-53.

“I give great credit to Coach (Joe) Logan, his staff and his players. They played great in all aspects of the game,” Roussell said. “We just didn’t have it tonight and they played very well. Marshall and Smith were fantastic and the rest of the team really fed off them.”

Bradley almost joined the list of upset-eers, but Northern Iowa escaped into the MVC semis with a one-point win.

As Lerma drove to the top of the lane, she found the outstretched arms of the Panthers’ Stephanie Davison in front of her.

Lamar slipped in from the left side and knocked the ball free to let the Panthers avoid becoming the first top seed to lose in the quarterfinals of the Missouri Valley tourney since 2009.

“She is one of the best defensive players in the league and she was on the all-defensive team for a reason. She has such quick hands,’’ Bradley coach Michael Brooks said. “We gave the ball to our player who had been making great plays for us. It was just a great defensive player making a great defensive play.’’

Yes, it was a battle, but the Chippewas overcame Eastern Michigan, and are now one win away from the Big Dance.

“I know I’m going to sound like a broken record, but this team, they’re coachable,” Guevara said. “I can’t say that sometimes the best players that we had in the past, you know, were like this and totally bought in.”

Someone new will rule the MEAC: North Carolina A&T over Hampton, 63-54.

The win was vindication for an Aggies (18-11) team who came into the 2016 tournament with three straight losses in the semis. The win also snapped the Aggies’ six-game losing streak to the Pirates. N.C. A&T will make their first championship game appearance in seven years as they face Coppin State approximately at 4 p.m., Saturday at Scope Arena. The Aggies will be after their third MEAC tournament title and their first in seven years. The Aggies are 2-4 in MEAC title games and 0-2 in MEAC titles games versus Coppin State with losses to the Eagles in 1991 and 2008.

“We talked Wednesday about us having advanced to the semifinals three years in a row and we didn’t want to make it a fourth year in a row where we didn’t win and get to the championship game. I thought we found a way to win in the fourth quarter. I’m so excited for our seniors.”

Dancin’: As it should have been – Albany and Maine tussled back-and-forth for the America East title. eventually, the Great Danes came away with the 1-point win and the invitation to Dance.

“Whew!” said Albany coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson who, with her team trailing by five at halftime, made sure the Great Danes knew what they needed to do.

“I just said, ‘We’ve got to get the ball to Shereesha and we’ve got to get the ball to Imani (Tate),’” she said. “That’s what we did and they really went to work.”

On tap today:

MAC Final: Buffalo v. Central Michigan, 1PM

SWAC Final: Southern v. Alabama State, 3PM

WAC Final: UT Rio Grande Valley v. New Mexico State, 4PM

Big Sky Final: Idaho State v. Idaho, 3:05PM

CAA Final: Drexel v. James Madison, 4PM

Horizon Semis: Northern Kentucky v Green Bay, 4PM, Wright State v. Milwaukee, 6:30

Big South: Radford v. Liberty, 4pm, Presbyterian College v. UNC Asheville

Southland Semis: McNeese State v. Central Arkansas, Sam Houston State v. Northwestern State

MVC Semis: Northern Iowa v. Southern Illinois, Missouri State v. Drake

Podcast: ‘Around the Rim’: Tickets Have Been Punched

In coaching news:

FIU fires women’s basketball coach Chinn

Chinn’s dismissal comes after he admitted to university officials that he had violated NCAA bylaws regarding impermissible benefits provided to a student-athlete.

UNF, former women’s basketball coach settle Title IX lawsuit for $1.25 million

The University of North Florida and its former women’s basketball coach Mary Tappmeyer have announced a settlement in Tappmeyer’s sex discrimination and retaliation claims associated with her termination from UNF in March 2015.

UNF will pay Tappmeyer $1.25 million to settle her claims, according to attorneys representing Tappmeyer.

She left the program as the only women’s basketball coach UNF had ever known. 

Player news: Leading scorer Lauren Aldridge leaving Kansas women’s basketball program

Player news: WNBA or the Army? Decision could mean battlefield or hardcourt for former Huntington Beach star

A decision about Kelsey Minato’s future is coming.

She was recently named the Patriot League Player of the Year for the third consecutive season. Last week, Minato broke the league’s all-time scoring record. She has scored more points than any woman, or man, who has ever played in the Patriot League.

In April, the 5-foot-6 guard will try out for the Women’s National Basketball Association. If she is drafted into the league or signs as a free agent, Minato can delay her commitment to serve five years in the U.S. Army. Remember David Robinson, the NBA superstar from the Naval Academy? Robinson served two years of active duty before he was eligible to begin his professional basketball career.

Conference news: Ivy League adds men’s and women’s basketball tournaments beginning 2017

Game news: Women’s basketball format change leads to fewer free throws

Numbers news: Analyze this

The disparity between NBA data — even data across all male sports — and WNBA data is glaring. Data for the WNBA is relegated to basic information: points, rebounds, steals, assists, turnovers, blocks. While worthy of being noted, those are the most rudimentary numbers in our game.

Data helps drive conversations, strategy, decision making. But data on its own isn’t terribly interesting. It needs context. It needs a storyteller. Data helps tell the story of a player, a team, an entire career.

There’s a need to value data in the WNBA because there’s a need to value the stories of our league. Think about baseball, for example, or men’s basketball. Fans, players, executives and media value stats and information because it helps to tell a story that many are already invested in. And if they’re not already invested, then it gives them a reason to be. It helps GMs make decisions. It informs contract negotiations. It enables player development.

It sparks barroom debates to last a frigid and barren Russia winter.

More numbers: Why Sue Bird Is Leading The Charge For More Data In WNBA

Video: Watch: Swin Cash Stars in Brawny Ad #StrengthHasNoGender

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Well, crap: Knee injury ends season, collge career for Jillian Alleyne, Oregon Ducks star forward

Remember when IUPUI was really awful. Thursday, they took down the Wabbits. They get to play the Coyotes today….

For the first time in 25 games, Siena beat Marist.

SNICK. The C-USA got tight as Western Kentucky took care of Middle Tennessee, 62-51.

The WCC continues to be interesting: San Diego over Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s over Santa Clara.

#13 Stanford knocked the teeth outta the #7 Beavers, 76-54.

Princeton is licking their Ivy League championships chops: Cornell pulled off the stunner, topping Penn, 51-46.

Looking ahead to Saturday: 

#5 Ohio State v. #20 Michigan State. Can the Buckeyes recover their moxie? Can the Spartans get folks to believe in them?

Temple v. #21 USF. An Owl win could make the the NCAAs a realistic goal – which makes this news intriguing: Two players exit women’s basketball program

2nd place in the Horizon: Wright State v. Milwaukee

Always pay attention to the WCC: San Francisco will battle Saint Mary’s, BYU v. Gonzaga.

Big Sky is up for grabs: Idaho (12-3) v. Eastern Washington (12-3).

#22 Oklahoma State v. West Virginia. The Mountaineers have made enough noise to get the attention of the Selection Committee. Both teams are 10-6 in the Big 12. An upset would really seal the deal.

It’s a home game, so I don’t thing UTEP will be looking a head… ’cause the 49ers sure deserve their attention.

Senior Day at UConn prompts ESPN’s MC Barrett to ask: Is Breanna Stewart the best UConn player in history?

Harvey is back! (And writing long form) Breanna Stewart, UConn’s Wow Factor, Always Had a Sweep in Mind

With Auriemma’s standard roster of multipositional excellence beside her, Stewart has, in her time at Connecticut, indisputably qualified as one of those rare raise-the-bar talents. She has occasionally been heralded by pundits as potentially the best female player ever.

“And if you want to be considered that good, you’ve got to have those wow moments — in games, in practices,” Auriemma said. “Every day, Michael Jordan did something that made you say, What?”

That is what Auriemma believes Stewart is capable of on the women’s scale of athletic enhancement. And while he does not deal in ranking individuals across playing eras, given Connecticut’s parade of elite alumnae, he did offer contextual elaboration by recounting another of Stewart’s wow moments, from this season, one with a better result, if not a perfect one.

Sunday: 

Georgia Tennessee. A battle of unranked SEC teams will garner a lot of attention.

An interesting A-10 battle: Duquesne (13-2) v. St. Bonaventure (11-4)

Equally interesting battle between two 16-3 teams in MAAC: Quinnipiac v. Iona.

Duke v. UNC: Two blue teams – literally and psychically.

Minnesota v. #6 Maryland. Obviously, the Gophers have to play a better out-of-conference schedule… but Rachel they are sure are doing their best to get noticed. Will the Terps have gotten the message?

From Salt Lake: Alta product Makenzi Morrison Pulsipher exceeding expectations at BYU

About that great Dane: Albany’s Caribbean-born Shereesha Richards an aspiring pro

About that Grand Bahamian: Despite Injury, Jonquel On Pace To Be Wnba Draft Lottery Pick

Speaking of the draft: Countdown to the 2016 WNBA Draft: No. 8 South Florida’s Courtney Williams

Looking ahead: Diana Taurasi refreshed for Phoenix Mercury return, 4th Olympics

Interesting: Her Love Of Basketball Knows No Boundaries, But U.S. Law Says Otherwise

Jo had 26 points and 10 rebounds that March night in 2009 in San Antonio, and those numbers don’t begin to tell half of her story. The New England prep school player of the year in 2005, she would go on to be a two-time Division II player of the year and the all-time D-II leading scorer. Drafted by the Connecticut Sun in 2010, Jo played for Great Britain in the 2012 Olympics and tied Erika de Souza of Brazil as leading scorer. Jo Leedham, who played in a few exhibition games in 2013 with the Sun, plays for Bourges in France. She scored 28 points Thursday for Great Britain in a stirring comeback over Montenegro in a Eurobasket qualifier.

Kirsty, meanwhile, starred at Cheshire Academy and at Caldwell (N.J.) College before becoming a graduate assistant while getting her MBA in sports management at New Haven. She returned to coach Cheshire Academy for two years before becoming coordinator of player development at Binghamton this season.

No family has given any more to New England small college basketball, to New England basketball, in the past decade. That’s worth remembering today as Jen Leedham fights to remain in this country.

A little audio: Swin Cash On Internet Trolls, Life After Basketball

Even though it’s 2016, Cash has still dealt with the less-than-desirable underbelly of the internet. You know, the ones who are dumbfounded that a black woman would be able to talk about professional sports from merit and experience. No mind that the WNBA star is one of the most decorated athletes with her pair of NCAA National Titles, treble of WNBA Championships as well as two Olympic gold medals, of course.

Cash brushes off the ignorant, baseless criticism.

“You have to have a sharp mind to have discernment of what’s coming in and what you’re actually putting out,” said Cash.

Have you listened to the new audio source: ‘Around the Rim’: Talking Women’s College Hoops

Speakin’ of audio: Dishin & Swishin 2/25/16 Podcast: Moriah Jefferson ready to join the Huskies of Honor, but what comes next?

Lady Swish asks: Is your team going to the NCAA tournament?

In theory, each of the state’s 13 teams could qualify for the NCAAs by winning their conference tournaments. Barring that, we feel that only four Virginia schools have even an outside chance of nabbing an at-large bid. Virginia schools have gone five years without receiving an at-large bid. Based on what our teams have done so far, that streak is likely to continue in 2016.

Here’s our thinking on what’s going to happen as we approach postseason:

Mike Siroky’s SEC Notebook: The Upperclasswomen Lead the Way

The Ben-Gals won their third SEC game this season by one. The Orange lightning is crashing over the once-proud UT program that hit its bottom. Doesn’t matter how they lost. 
 
It’s that they lost.
 
The Lady Vols proved once again they have no clue this season. This should be the death knell for the assistant coaches because that’s the only way an embattled coach makes a perception she is willing to accept blame and make changes.
 
The urban legend that former Pat Head Summitt players make good coaches is dead. D-E-A-D dead. 
 
Not Holly Warlick, not anyone else. 
 
The campus is embroiled in too many other coming lawsuits and other distractions in the important campus sports to make a direct move on Warlick.
 
It is over. As in so many other things.

A little history: 40 years later: Judi Warren stole the show at first girls basketball state finals

“Judi Warren,” Brown said. “Anybody who was  there would tell you they were impressed with Judi Warren. She pretty much dominated play and she was such an exciting personality. If it was just ho-hum, who knows how it would have gone. But she was so fun to watch.”

The girls basketball finals will be played on Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, 40 years after Warsaw’s 5-1 Warren captured the hearts of Hoosiers. She played with the exuberance of a first-grader allowed 20 minutes extra at recess. For Warren and her Warsaw teammates, the 1976 state finals marked the culmination of four years of playing mostly in front of family and close friends.

If Warren had graduated one year earlier, she would have never had the opportunity.

USA Basketball: Geno Auriemma pleased with camp, but questions linger for Team USA and Geno Auriemma, USA Basketball Face Tough Decisions With A Luxury Of Riches

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

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

Playoffs:

New York vs. Washington or Indiana

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

Chicago vs. Indiana or Washington

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

Western Conference

Minnesota vs. Los Angeles

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

Phoenix vs. Tulsa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the Players’ Tribune: Sugar Rogers.

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

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

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

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

Also from PT: Full Court and  Liberty 1440.

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

And more: Swin Cash, City Kids

And more: Jewell Loyd, Going Home

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

And more: 

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

Theirs is a message for all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…waiting to go to the airport and return to the “bitterly cold” northeast. Will say that, whatever weather comes to mind when you think “the Bahamas,” it’s not what we’ve had this week. Nothing like scuba diving w/ a 25mph wind and 65 degree weather. Fleece alert! (and no, I’m NOT complaining, ’cause I’m on vacation! :-)

On the hardcourt:

Don’t wanna jinx’em, but the A-10 regular season title is George Washington’s to lose. (They’ve beaten Dayton both times they’ve played). Tough to beat a team three times in a row, though, so keep an eye on the Conference Championship.

With a win over a Bradford-less Central Michigan, Ball State moves to 10-3 in the MAC, easing in to the top spot in the West. Overall MAC leader Ohio was stunned by Eastern Michigan, 73-61.

That was unexpectedly close: Maine Slips Past Vermont in Women’s Basketball, 57-54 And yes, Women’s basketball risen in standings from two years ago

Two years ago, Maine was one of the worst teams in women’s basketball. Now, Maine has won 10 consecutive games and is ranked no. 23 in the Mid-Major poll.

It is amazing what you can accomplish when everybody is working together and when everybody has the same goals and dreams. It almost took us two years to get to the point where we are right now, and we are not even close to reaching our potential.

People keep asking, “What happened? How can you go from winning four games total to having one of the best seasons a Maine basketball team has had in a long time?” I don’t think there is a simple answer to this question.

A Debbie Antonelli Special: Troy needed OT – and every single one of Ashley Beverly-Kelley’s 46 points – to escape Sun Belt cellar-dwellar Georgia Southern, 99-93. BTW, this is Troy’s first winning season since 2008-09.

Boink! WHB Curse in effect: Rhode Island loses a lead, and then the game, to LaSalle, 47-45.

Speaking of losing leads: Miami must be kicking themselves – they were up 18 at the end of the first half, then lost to NC State courtesy of a last-second three by Len’Nique Brown-Hoskin.

Whomp! The up-and-down #15 Aggies were up against #11 Kentucky, 81-69.

James Madison, #5 Maryland and FGCU are sailing through their conferences. So’s Gonzaga (clinching their 11th straight)  but it’s not been a lark.

It’s been a tough one: SMU women’s basketball already with second-most losses in school history; Can team recover?

When your women’s team is playing six freshmen, your point guard bolts and your go-to player is gone for the season, you celebrate small victories, such as getting three male students through the NCAA Clearinghouse to fill vacancies for scrimmages.

Change has been the lone constant for SMU.

For a young team in a rebuilding year, adjustments have become routine. Each game seems to open a new chapter in the crash course.

Speaking of tough ones: The Gauchos are still win-less.

Hawaii seems to be pulling away in the Big West.

Wondering how probation will impact West Virginia.

No surprise, Debbie likes Kelsey (Mitchell).

“Why isn’t Kelsey Mitchell on the @BigTenNetwork promo on great (freshmen) in the @bigtenconf,” Antonelli tweeted Tuesday night. “She leads nation in scoring!”

Mitchell’s resume is quite lengthy. And her scoring numbers has made Antonelli start to consider if Mitchell has an opportunity at all-time career leading scorer Jackie Stiles (3,393 points). Antonelli has been calling women’s basketball games for 27 years and can’t recall another player to cause her to look at Stiles’ numbers.

“If you are a fan of women’s basketball how could you not like that?” Antonelli told Cincinnati.com.

Yup: Injuries wreak havoc on SEC women’s basketball season

Not an unexpected job opening: Portland State fires Sherri Murrell as women’s basketball coach with five games remaining

In W news: One Knight for another: Breaking Down the Epiphanny Prince-for-Cappie Pondexter Blockbuster and The age-old thought process behind Liberty’s WNBA megadeal plus, what’s really cool: Epiphanny Prince to finish Rutgers degree after trade to NY Liberty

When she stunned the basketball world in 2009 with an unprecedented decision to leave Rutgers one year early to start her pro career, Epiphanny Prince vowed that she eventually would return to school.

That time has come following a WNBA trade Monday that sent two former Rutgers stars back to their homes as Prince was dealt to the New York Liberty, while Cappie Pondexter is joining the Chicago Sky.

In high school news: Two high school girls basketball legends combining to make history at Gilmour Academy

It started with a phone call, seemingly out of nowhere.

That’s how a legendary high school girls basketball coach ended up at Gilmour Academy. That was 10 years ago.

And a second totally unexpected phone call led to the daughter of a former Ms. Ohio Girls Basketball Player of the Year playing for that same coach at the Catholic prep school in Gates Mills.

That’s how Bob Beutel, with 644 career victories, ended up coaching Naz Hillmon, one of the top freshman girls basketball players in Northeastern Ohio. Hillmon is already receiving attention from Division I colleges. The 6-foot-2 center is averaging 18 points, 14 rebounds and more than four blocks per game.

How about this: Alden-Hebron makes history with 5-player roster

Alden-Hebron’s “Fab Five” huddled on the bus ride home and talked strategy after winning the school’s first postseason title for any Giants basketball team – boys or girls – since 1957.

Hannah Behrens, Bailey Ogle, Hannah Warren, Tally Lalor and Emily Webber have played exclusively for the past 13 games as the Giants’ roster has dwindled from eight players to five. Kelsey Baker, A-H’s tallest player at 6-foot-2, moved away, and sophomores Brittany Standish and Sam Mendez suffered knee injuries and cannot play until cleared by doctors.

Congrats: Swin Cash earns Chuck Cooper Award for ‘extraordinary’ service

Admittedly, Swin Cash once had no clue who Charles “Chuck” Cooper was or what he represented.

She grew up in the same region and played the same sport, but as someone born nearly 25 years after Cooper played his final professional basketball game, the name of the first African-American player drafted into the NBA didn’t resonate.

So last year, when Cash was told that she was going to be honored with an award named after Cooper, she did some research. What she found was a legacy that she works to this day to strengthen and uphold.

WATN? TV spot highlights Markham basketball star Sutton-Brown

Tammy Sutton-Brown has a true story to tell.

It’s one the 37-year-old Markham native revealed that changed her life — all for the better — when she elected to attend a high school that offered a well established girls’ basketball program rather than go to one closer to home.

Thus began the road for the 6 ft. 4 in. centre in becoming one of the top Canadian basketball players hailing from the Greater Toronto Area that tipped off when she was a Grade 9 student at Markham District High School and then earning a collegiate athletic scholarship south of the border at Rutgers University.

But that’s not where it ended.

A little history: Women’s basketball pioneers honored at UAF

It’s no surprise Nanooks women’s basketball players Victoria Elleby and Stephanie Toumson asked Linda Dolney for her autograph after Saturday’s game.

Forty years ago, Dolney and her teammates paved the way for the current women’s basketball team.

That moment in history and several others were recognized Saturday at a remarkable gathering of women.

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as those who knew coach Ginny Doyle and Natalie Lewis mourn and regroup….

A women’s basketball history tweet-scusion brought this back: More Than a Game: 6-On-6 Basketball In IowaIn 1993, the era of girls’ six-on-six basketball in Iowa came to an end. This one-hour IPTV documentary takes a look back at the game and what it meant to generations of girls who played it. Check out the video.

Almost lost is the shuffle: a good move for VCU, and a hiccup for Stony Brook.  We (as in the royal we) at WHB had watched with an eager eye last season as Beth O’Boyle  continued to shift the Stony Brook Seawolves from a “walkover” to “watch out.” Her work caught the eye of a smart AD, and so she’s off to another state. From Hanaa’ Tameez at the Statesman: Former Women’s Basketball head coach O’Boyle prepares for new challenges at VCU

“VCU is an opportunity for me where one of the biggest things is to get closer to home,” O’Boyle said in a phone interview. 

“My family is all in Maryland, less than two hours from here. The opportunity for them to share in my coaching a little bit more and be a closer to them was really a big part of the decision.

“I absolutely love my players at Stony Brook and I couldn’t even imagine not coaching them next year,” she continued. 

“It was extremely difficult and it was really important to me that they hear my decision from me and not on Twitter.”

Speaking of moving: Old Dominion star Shae Kelley transferring to Minnesota (guess the Monarchs don’t have an issue with releasing folks, huh, K-State.)

Speaking of NOT moving, how about Mechelle on K-State’s mean-spiritedness?

Let’s hope ego doesn’t trump common sense and recognizing the decision was wrong. Because it was. I spent a lot of time talking on and off the record to people involved in this decision. I think the university jumped to the conclusion that since she asked to leave, it had to be because a member or members of the former staff was behind it. I interviewed Romero over the phone and in person. I talked to her nearly three hours between the two. I asked her a ton of questions. She is extremely bright, very well-spoken even though she has only been speaking English regularly for less than a year, and she has a very strong personality. I believe her. I think school officials did not take enough time to just *listen* to her. John Currie, the athletic director, did not even meet with her before signing off on the decision to deny her release. He may say that’s because she didn’t ask him directly for the release. She went to the compliance office, because she thought that was where she was supposed to go. Why didn’t the AD reach out to the best player on the team last year and say, “Let’s have a face-to-face meeting about you wanting a release. Let me hear from you why, and let’s talk about it.” Was she not important enough? Was it easier to just deny the release, assume she was a puppet, and then toss her to the appeals committee, which never gave her any reasons for denying her appeal? What more does she have to say? She’s said, “I wasn’t tampered with, but if you are so sure I was, then block ANY school you want to block.” Do they really have to block every D-I school in the United States by denying the release? Does that seem even marginally reasonable?

OPA! UMaine women’s basketball team completes recruiting class with Greek guard Gerostergiou

Guess who I’ll be hanging with in Istanbul this fall? Bruno, Staley, Reeve assist women’s national team (Should I watch out for flying jackets? <g>)

Speaking of the Flying Jacket: From Mechelle: Lynx again the WNBA favorite – League’s 18th season opens Friday; defending champs open at Mystics

The champagne was still wet on coach Cheryl Reeve’s clothes when her mind took a quick look ahead. Her Minnesota Lynx had just won their second WNBA title last October, so players and coaches were celebrating with some bubbly. But Reeve also had the big picture in sight.

Three consecutive appearances in the WNBA Finals? Winning two of those three series? Great … but Reeve knows every WNBA team is still measured against a higher standard set long ago.

It ain’t going to be a walk in the park, though: No Wright, Peters and now no Becky.

From David Woods at the Indy Star: 13 seasons in, Tamika Catchings can still provide for Indiana Fever (how can it possibly be 13?)

Tamika Catchings doesn’t need to be treated as delicately as a museum artifact.

After all, the Indiana Fever forward is coming off a season in which she averaged 17.7 points and 7.1 rebounds a game, comparable to her WNBA career statistics (16.7 and 7.5). Moreover, the Fever recovered from a 1-7 start and reached the Eastern Conference finals for a fourth time in five years.

However, the 34-year-old “Catch” is in the fourth quarter now. She has pledged to play through the 2016 Olympic Games and is looking ahead to a new career in a WNBA front office. She is looking for a successor to her decade-long position as president of the players’ association.

Also from SwishAppeal: Q&A: Chicago Sky coach Pokey Chatman on Elena Delle Donne’s strength, Sylvia Fowles’ injury, and trading Swin Cash and Q&A: Chicago Sky center Sylvia Fowles talks about her injury, rehab, and the loss of Swin Cash

So, yah, it’s only preseason, but have you noticed what Diggins’ been Doin’?

And yah, the Liberty are “Back in Black” (y’all better EARN those jerseys) and have Tina Charles (will the locals come?)…. but how successful are they going to be with Cappie alone at the point?

And the “Live Access” mishegoss begins. It’s breathtaking how much effort the League puts in to MISSING a chance to join the 21st Century and build a happy fan base. BTW, Muffet? The discount code is: WNBALA2014

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It’s a battle between the Rutgers and the Kansas State folks. From Mechelle: Controversy swirls at Kansas State

Leticia Romero sits in a Starbucks, about 4,600 miles away from her home in Spain’s Canary Islands. It’s a gray afternoon, an average April day in Kansas.

For the Kansas State breakout freshman star, this is her first spring in the Little Apple. It also appears to be her last.

A 5-foot-8 guard, her dark hair pulled back in a ponytail, Romero wears a purple Kansas State shirt. Which — all things considered — seems ironic. “This last month has been really frustrating,” Romero said. “And right now, I’m in a position where I don’t know what to do.”

That position happens to be at the center of yet another NCAA-at-a-crossroads issue, as amateurism has become the story of the past college sports year. We’ve seen Oklahoma’s Pastagate, Johnny Football’s autograph scandal and Northwestern players’ attempt at unionizing. But Romero’s situation touches on another hot-button issue — the NCAA’s transfer rules.

In the W:

Ouch: Devereaux Peters out indefinitely

No surprise, but…sadness: Indiana Fever coach Lin Dunn to retire after 2014 season

On the move: Dream add depth with the acquisition of veteran Swin Cash

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Cash, Catchings win WNBA sportsmanship award

It’s the Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award.

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

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

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

Kim Perrot

Remembering Kim Perrot – 14 years later

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

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on espnW

Speaking of Chicago, at the Tribune Shannon Ryan thinks Loyola’s rolling dice on Swoopes

Another opening: Buchanan resigns as EIU women’s basketball coach

You stay put (until, perhaps, you get a better offer?): Dayton’s Jabir rewarded with extension and South Carolina, Staley agree to extension

Ouch: Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year Loryn Goodwin has left North Texas.

Nate does a little Monday Morning Quarterbacking on himself: 2013 WNBA Draft: Top undrafted prospects

After the past two WNBA drafts I’ve taken stock of some of the top undrafted players. This year, that includes three players we had been following throughout the 2012-13 NCAA season and a third who multiple people considered a first round pick.

At Full Court, Clays says Competence, not controversy, rules WNBA draft and  Mel says Top draft picks ready to become faces of the WNBA

With ESPN being the bridge in many ways through its other properties beyond telecasts that connects the NCAA and the WNBA when it comes to women’s basketball, network headquarters was the appropriate place to originate the highly anticipated draft that was beamed Monday night in a first-ever prime time window.

Draft day PHOTO GALLERY

Beginning last fall with its “Three to See” promotion focusing on collegiate superstars Brittney Griner of Baylor, Elena Delle Donne of Delaware, and Skylar Digggins of Notre Dame, ESPN kept the spotlight on the trio throughout the collegiate season and then transitioned the focus here on draft night with the correct assumption that the trio would be off the plate after the Phoenix Mercury, Chicago Sky, and Tulsa Shock made their picks at the top of selections in that order.

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hurricane. I can’t get “For those in peril on the sea” out of my head.

That being said, I am safe, on high ground and have electricity, so I’m making use of good fortune to do some catching up.

Congrats to Brockton, MA’s Jim Daley:

There is no room left on retired Whitman-Hanson Regional High girls basketball coach Jim Daley’s coaching resume. It’s filled with 510 wins, 15 league championships and 30 tournament appearances just to name the highlights of his 33-year tenure on the Panthers’ sideline.

However, Daley still has one more basketball bow to take because on Nov. 18 at Holy Cross, the longtime Whitman-Hanson icon will be inducted into the Massachusetts High School Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.

More congrats to Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer, named the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Girls Basketball Coach of the Year. She coached the Grand Haven girls basketball team to the Class A state championship last March.

A little high school Title IX news from Columbus, Indiana: Teams aim for equal billing: Schools have four years to comply with court ruling

The Jennings County girls basketball team has played Franklin County the past 11 years, with most of those games taking place on Saturday afternoons.

But if the Panthers are to continue playing the Wildcats after this season, they likely will have to find a “prime-time” spot, meaning a Friday or Saturday night or the night before Thanksgiving.

In WNBA news:

Wanna own a W team? Mebbe not: Sparks’ Former Owner Sues Law Firm

The former owner of the WNBA team Los Angeles Sparks accused its former attorney of legal malpractice, claiming in court that he helped the team’s current owners squeeze it out of the franchise.

Where’s Swin at? Star basketball player, McKeesport native returns to help children ‘Cash’ in

Two-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA star Swin Cash returned to McKeesport to seek support and new partnerships for her Cash for Kids nonprofit as she strives to help the youth of her hometown.

Inviting community leaders, local organizations and city youth to the Palisades on Saturday, Cash focused on her off-the-court passion of working with children.

From Indianapolis: President Obama calls Catchings, Dunn, Krauskopf to congratulate Fever on WNBA title and  Indiana Fever owner Herb Simon savors ‘special moment’

Herb Simon has owned the 2012 WNBA champion Indiana Fever since the franchise’s inception in 2000. The Fever won their first title last Sunday, defeating the Minnesota Lynx 87-78 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse to claim the best-of-five Finals 3-1.

In the aftermath of their breakthrough triumph, Simon, who has also owned the Indiana Pacers since 1983, answered questions about the meaning of the title to him and a variety of other topics.

Question: Was the Fever’s WNBA championship your most satisfying moment as an owner?

Simon: It ranks right up there. This was a very special moment for all of us. The team, the way they played. I tell you, I got very emotional that last game. It was one of the greatest things that I’ve experienced.

From Chicago, Patricia Babcock McGraw writes: WNBA crown completes Catchings’ glittering resume

We all just want to fit in, even world-class athletes.

Tamika Catchings was feeling a bit left out during a special ceremony at the WNBA All-Star Game in 2011. It was the league’s 15th season and the top 15 players of all-time were being honored.

In an WNBA/College crossover story: Big Ten women’s basketball: Penn State’s Alex Bentley learns as Fever intern

In a “Local Makes Good” story: WNBA title for Markham’s Sutton-Brown

During her professional basketball career, Tammy Sutton-Brown had the good fortune to play for championship teams overseas.

But for the 34-year-old Markham native and Markham District High School grad, the biggest championship came this past weekend as a member of the Indiana Fever who defeated the Minnesota Lynx 87-78 to claim the WNBA crown in four games.

Another one from the West Coast: January savors WNBA crown

Briann January isn’t at Disneyland – and she won’t be any time in the near future.

But who needs the happiest place on Earth when you’ve just made a lifelong dream come true?

Another from Pittsburgh: Just call her, ‘Champion’

Shavonte Zellous’ smile, energy, work ethic, enthusiasm and passion are as infectious as ever, but after Zellous helped the Indiana Fever win its first WNBA championship Sunday, it is clear her game is still as good as ever, too.

More importantly, her penchant for rising to the occasion is intact.

Sure, the Lynx are left to ponder what went wrong and how to fix it, but ne despair pas, Los Lynx fans: Blueprint For Success Still In Place

Our attention may be shifting to the NCAA, but the W folks are abroad: Temeka Johnson blogs: Russian team off to strong start

Hello all, I’m back. I know I told you that I would write about the new additions to our team once they got here, so guess what: THEY ARE HERE. We have Epiphany Prince who played at Rutgers University (WNBA, Chicago Sky), Erin Lawless, who played at Purdue and also on the Slovakian National team, and Shay Murphy who played at USC (WNBA, Chicago Sky). These are the new additions to our team along with myself, Michelle Snow, and a few new talented Russian players as well.

Mechelle writes a really important piece about two big off-season stories: Laimbeer returns, Stern to retire in ’14

On the same day NBA commissioner David Stern announced when he would be saying goodbye to his job, Bill Laimbeer said hello to the WNBA again.

In the grand scheme of things, the WNBA will be considered a small part of Stern’s legacy as one of the pre-eminent sports czars of our time. And Laimbeer always will be known more as one of Detroit’s “bad boys” — a hard-nosed, blue-collar player who relished the fact that opposing fans loved to hate him — than as a WNBA coach.

But to those who follow women’s basketball, the contributions Stern and Laimbeer have made to this sport are quite significant.

College news:

Using appropriately groan producing verbiage, Swish Appeal begins their survey of top Division I women’s basketball programs: Division One women’s college basketball:  #71-100

Speaking of top programs, it means nothing – and it’s not surprise —  but Brittney Griner, Baylor women’s basketball unanimous preseason favorites

Speaking of polls, the fabulous D3Hoops has their pre-season rankings up,  and all eyes are on Calvin.

The Stanford Daily says: W. BBall: VanDerveer and Cardinal reload as season approaches

There was some drama in Vol land, but now it’s over: Top women’s basketball prospect Jannah Tucker recommits to Tennessee

As for the drama at Ole Miss: Adrian Wiggins Fired From Ole Miss

“The allegations and findings that led the University to this decisive and swift action are now being further examined jointly by the University and the NCAA,” the university said.

In addition, student-athletes Kay Caples, a transfer from Trinity Valley Community College, and Brandy Broome, a transfer from Pensacola State College, are ineligible to compete at the University after failing to meet NCAA transfer eligibility standards.

There’s some “drama” (as in, something with a storyline) from Cali: Stanford Women’s Basketball’s Six Pack, Episode Four – Summer At Stanford : Greenfield, Payne and Samuelson give viewers an inside look at their summers on The Farm

Not to be outdone, over at the California Golden Blog, they have a Women’s Basketball Season Preview Part 1: Embracing Expectations

From the Hoosier State: IU Women’s Basketball Implements New Practice Routine

So what about those new points of emphasis? They mean MSU women’s basketball to make changes on defense

The “Secretary of Defense” may have to wage his battles a little differently this season. 

Mississippi State University first-year women’s basketball coach Vic Schaefer scanned a two-sheet printout of 10 points emphasis Division I officials will be asked to monitor this season. When asked for his opinion about how his new team was going to handle four areas that could make it more difficult for defenders, Schaefer said he has been down this road before and it will be up to him and his coaches to teach their players better.

“Every year, it seems they’re trying to enhance the offensive side of the game,” said Schaefer

Unfortunately, there’s some “Dabnabbit!” drama to report: Brene Moseley out with ACL tear in blow to Maryland women’s basketball team. Moseley offers up a blog entry: “Courage.”

Oklahoma had their own version of “Dabnabbit”: Williams out for season with ruptured Achilles’ tendon

So, did you catch any of the firestorm after UConn Coach Geno Auriemma Says Lower The Rim In Women’s College Game?

“The game hasn’t grown as much as it should in the last 10 years and much of the old guard doesn’t want to hear it,” Auriemma said Monday after taping “Beyond The Beat,” which airs Tuesday on CPTV Sports. “In 2002, we played the Final Four in front of 30,000 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

“Now, 10 years later [2011], we [the women’s Final Four] can’t sell out the Conseco Field House [in Indianapolis]? So how much has the game possibly improved, in terms of how badly people want to see it?”

Auriemma believes one of the ways to increase the game’s appeal is by increasing offensive efficiency.

We know it’s not going to happen because, as Kevin Hoffman (who should learn how to spell Auriemma’s name) of Winning Hoops writes: Lowering Rims In Women’s Hoops A Logistical Nightmare. But there was some interesting (and not interesting) discussion spurred by his comments.

From the Tulsa World: Big 12 women’s basketball notebook: To lower or not to lower

“I really do think his team must be so good that he didn’t have anything to rant about, so he just started talking about lowering the stinkin’ rim,” Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. ” … You can go to the rec center, and can you go to an elementary gym, a high school gym, you can go to an arena like American Airlines and the goals are 10‑foot tall, and you can shoot on them and get better.

“I don’t think we want to put ourselves in a situation where we have to find a women’s goal so we can get better as players.”

From the New York Times (that can’t be bothered to have a WNBA scoreboard): Idea to Lower Rim for Women’s Basketball Stirs Talk

Other coaches around the country applauded Auriemma’s forward-thinking outspokenness. Most believed an immediate switch would be impractical — considering the number of high school gyms and playgrounds that would need adjusting — but they agreed with his central tenet: more people should be considering ways to improve women’s basketball as an attraction for fans.

“The logistics — I don’t think it’s possible,” Gonzaga Coach Kelly Graves said. “But I like the train of thought, I really do.”

From David Whitely at AOLFanhouse: Geno Auriemma’s right: Lowering the rim would help women’s basketball soar higher

Geno Auriemma has coached UConn to seven NCAA women’s basketball titles. He recently guided the U.S. team to a gold medal in the London Olympics.

Now he’s a soldier in the war on women?

From the Connecticut locals: Jeff Jacobs of the Courant talks Raising Rates (Men) Ad Lowering Rims (Women)

Don’t lower the rim of expectations.

We’re not only talking about Geno Auriemma‘s ideas for improving women’s basketball. We’re talking about the academic disaster that was the UConn men’s basketball program in the first decade of the 21st century.

The headlines on UConn athletics have arrived in loud, fascinating national bursts the past few days. Some have painted Auriemma as a visionary for — among several suggestions — arguing that rims should be lowered. Others have painted Auriemma as impractical or even demeaning of women’s abilities.

Mike DiMauro from The Day shoots for another target: Fixing this problem is a layup

Geno Auriemma’s musings from earlier this week, to lower the rim in women’s basketball, has become a cause célèbre within the game. Lots of opinions across the country, again illustrating there is no bigger, better voice for the game anywhere. Never has been, never will be.

But a funny thing has happened on the way to examining whether a lower rim is practical or realistic. An unintended consequence of the debate has been the rise of a peripheral issue which has the game’s intelligentsia in almost lockstep agreement:

Ditch the smaller basketball.

Grumpy Gregg Doyel rants: Lowering rims to boost scoring in women’s hoops? Geno’s math is hideously flawed, basically wasting an entire column of digital ink because he hasn’t the ability to look beyond the surface of the issue that prompts an Auriemma to toss out “lower the rims.”

Kate Fagan, who has admitted she doesn’t watch the women’s game because it’s not like the men’s, chimes in at ESPNw:  Lowering the rims? Um, no, that’s not the answer, mostly because she thinks the game should embrace what it claims to be she doesn’t like, not like the men’s.

On the flip site, Johnette Howard (who needs to learn how to spell coach Summitt’s name) says: Listen to Geno Auriemma; it’s time for change

The irony of any suggestion that Auriemma might be a traitor in women’s basketball’s midst is that his UConn teams are perennially, consistently, and without fail the best example of all the very same traits that women’s game actually loves about itself: selfless passing, constant motion, fundamental soundness, unapologetic competitiveness and an insistence on excellence. It should come as no surprise that Auriemma is a great admirer of Red Holzman’s great Knicks squads, one of the all-time great exemplars of teamwork in sports. And at times, let’s face it, Auriemma has been as neurotic as any female coach about how coaching women rather than men is devalued, and seen as some lesser calling.

But here’s the thing I agree with him on. Women’s basketball has also been rolling out that old John Wooden quote about how much he preferred their game to the men’s for so long it feels older than Wooden was himself. And Auriemma may be the only person in the game with the stones — not just the stature — to look at a troubling aside like the last women’s Final Four in Indianapolis and essentially tell women’s basketball, “Hello? Are you not as concerned about this as I am? It’s time to get over ourselves. This is our wake-up call.

I can get behind that.

Don’t know about you, but I have a feeling of urgency about the future of women’s basketball – both at the college and the pro level. As in, is this it? (You think the non-coverage of the women’s national team was by happenstance?) Yup, Geno was stirring it up again, poking at folks and – admit it – getting women’s college basketball some attention. You don’t like it? Then look to the other coaches in the game and ask them to step up and step out of their comfort zone.

Coach Kim – I dare you to make a statement with your words, not just your clothes (though they’re damn fun). For instance, lead the fight against bullying in women’s basketball – which includes facing down homophobia (and a heavy dose of misogyny) within and without the sport.  Would love to see you face down people like BarefootSerpent who commented: Baylor’s adding a man to their team didn’t boost women’s basketball, so why would lowering the rim?

Coach Coale – I dare you to make a statement with your words (which are beautifully written), not just your shoes. For instance, lead the fight for coverage of the game – both in print, online, on television.

Coach Tara – You may be old school, but you’ve got a program who knows how to rock video world. Tap in to that creativity and dare them to be the “Best Practices” program for all women’s basketball teams – and don’t forget to connect with Mr. Luck in Indy!

Laurel Richie? You better bring it, girl — and I’m not just talking about sponsors (which we appreciate!). Slap some order on your off-the wall franchises and remind the players that it ain’t just about them and a 94′ court. They need to look at the actions of the early WNBAers and say, “I need to match that and more,” ’cause their paycheck is not guaranteed. Just look at what’s happening overseas….they’re not rolling in the dough any more that the W is.

WBCA – I dare you to make a statement and stop being so damn polite. Be an active leader, and don’t worry about whose knickers you put in a twist. Don’t settle for what the NCAA offers, dare to demand more. If you don’t reach for the main course, you’re sure as hell going to be eating table scraps.

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Viva, Las Vegas!

Off to celebrate a friend’s 50th — sneaking in a couple of days early to do a little birding, maybe visit Red Rock Canyon. Holler if you’re around.

Oh, and is that a Nneka-nail going into a coffin I heard last night?

And how can you resist this headline? Four blowouts and a windbag

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“I’m going to Rio.” (But Merc – and face it, W – fans are wondering: are ya goin’ to Phoenix?)

BTW, if Sue, Diana and Catch do get to Rio, Mr. Colangelo, any chance we might be able to purchase their USA Basketball jersey? #USABasketballmarketingembarrassmentfail

A little @BrendaVanLengen and @MechelleV doing their post-Olympic review, the WNBA & NCAA volleyball podcast stuff.

A little mish-mosh:

Business model for SS&E based on Spurs’ success

The Silver Stars of the WNBA and Rampage of the American Hockey League, both celebrating their 10-year anniversaries, have evolved into what officials say are profitable franchises, including marked upswings in attendance and the standings.

Cool! Lady Swish will be pleased: Welcome to L.A., Dawn.

Ouches: Seattle and Connecticut

Behind the scenes with Patricia Babcock McGraw as the Sky’s Fowles, Cash share some Olympic stories

“It drove me crazy not to be playing,” Fowles said. “There were a couple of times the trainer had to say, ‘You have to slow down. You’re trying to get back too fast.’

“I had to make a grown-woman move. The young me would have said, ‘Just play through the pain.’ But I’m at a point in my career now where I have to be smart, and knowing that I had to come back to the Sky, the coaches and trainers agreed that I needed to sit out for a bit and work back slow.”

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Now for something completely different: WNBA star Swin Cash and Brian Davies argue over which is better, the USA Men’s Basketball team or the Women’s. Baron Davis stars as British rock star Brian Davies, breaking down the Olympics as you’ve never seen before.

This from the Connecticut Sun: Checking In From London – Asjha Jones and Tina Charles took a few minutes out from representing the United States in London to answer a few questions about their experience so far.

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Doug says: Cash, US women’s basketball team ready to face Angola in their 2nd game of the Olympics

“I was at a point in 2008 where I didn’t want to leave this game with people defining who I was as a player,” Cash said. “Going out with an injury is not what I wanted my legacy to be.”

A conversation with five-time Olympian and basketball great Teresa Edwards helped her refocus with one goal in mind — making it to London. Cash dedicated herself to getting healthy and now that the 32-year-old is back in the Olympics, she is ready to play whoever is next on the U.S. schedule.

From USA Basketball: U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team Practice Quotes

Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx)
Practice looked intense today, did you feel it was a good one?

It was a great practice. We came in. We worked hard. We practiced as if we didn’t play yesterday and don’t play tomorrow. I think it’s why we’re going to be able to play the way we want to tomorrow. We just came in, worked on some things offensively, added a few things and tightened up a few things on defense.

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Catch helps keep kids healthy.

From the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette: At Olympics, Swin Cash has McKeesport on her mind

Just as she had for most of her adult years, Cash’s mother, Cynthia, put on her orange McKeesport Housing Authority T-shirt and work pants and headed to the Crawford Village projects for her job as a maintenance technician at a senior living facility. It was going to be a hot one, so Cynthia also wore a black spandex cap over her head to hold in the sweat as she sat in a beat-up truck with no air conditioning and talked about what it was like to raise a daughter in McKeesport.

It was different place then, she said. Everybody knew each other, looked after one another, and once it became clear that Swin had the talent to be a shining light for their community, people often stepped in to help Cynthia. Sure, the mills were gone, and the money was tight all over town, but they were never short of good people, the most crucial capital.

That’s why the last month has been so painful for native McKeesporters like Cynthia, who grew up in the Harrison Village projects and raised Swin there without much worry.

The Doug-ster adding some family flavor to the Games: Parker ready to celebrate Olympics with daughter

Candace Parker can’t wait to get to London.It’s not just because she’ll be playing in her second Olympics or that she’ll get to see the city for the first time. She’s just really excited to be reunited with her 3-year-old daughter Lailaa.

“This Olympics is really for her. It will be a great experience for her to look back at this when she’s old enough,” Parker said. “This time four years ago she wasn’t even a thought and now she’ll be at the Olympics with me. It means a lot for her to be here with me.”

He also offers up some important practice info via twitter:

Doug Feinberg@DougFeinberg  almost forgot; at end of practice today @genoauriemma said he could hit underhand halfcourt shot within 5 tries; it took him 4.

From USA Basketball: USA Basketball Women’s National Team Continues Olympic Preparations

espnW writes: Women still battling for equality in sports (Umm, where’s Mechelle?) Oh, and check the comments.

Pat Griffin has some good stuff: The Olympics Are Coming!

Lee and Full Court still  rock the ‘lympic women’s basketball coverage:

2012 London: Turkey — Plenty of size, but shooters are the key

U.S. escapes a tough Turkish team, 80-61, in final pre-Olympic warm-up

A little W stuff from “The Sports Brain,” Mike: League legends lounge in ‘the 5,000 corridor’

From Sue: It’s not an either/or situation: WNBA needs to market to all of their fans

Side note: You may have noticed ESPN’s Hoopgurlz seems to have disappeared. Looks like Full Court is stepping in to cover the Prep world.

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“He don’t need no education!” ’cause, well… he’s the Secretary of Education!

Arne Duncan took time out to drop by the women’s practice, throw on his sneaks and test out his game. (Looks likes his bosses will be at the game). Mike Florek at USAToday asks: Can Arne Duncan hoop with Team USA’s women?

At the team’s workout at American University in Washington, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan donned bright yellow shoes and a USA pullover. Duncan, who played at Harvard, was one of the male players the women practiced against Sunday.

“We gave him a little bit of a hard time,” U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said. “He’s in the government service now, so he did the same thing on the court. He just passed the ball.”

WHB, post-practice with the Secretary:

How’d you get here? I’m just a fan of what they’re doing. These ladies are remarkably talented. I just see how hard they work. They asked me to come out and play — I’ve played a couple of charity events with some of them —  it was a really fun opportunity.

On what you learned about their game: Just how hard they work. I guess they started yesterday — two days, and they already look like a team. It just amazes me. Every cut is hard, every slideis hard. And as talented as they are, they’re not relying on their talent, they’re relying on their work ethic. This is great basketball.

On his daughter sporting a Fowles/Sky t-shirt: We’re former Chicagoans. (My daughter) is a great Sylvia fan. Sylvia’s tough in the post. She hit me one time, and I thought, “I’m staying out of there! I’m going out to guard someone on the perimeter!”

Some good quotes post practice from USA Basketball:

Auriemma on the team’s game against Brazil tomorrow:
Are we ready? I don’t think it matters whether we are or we are not. We are going to play, and I don’t know how we are going to look, but at the same time it is what it is. We’ve got a great opportunity to play tomorrow against a really good team, and it will give us an opportunity to see where we are. I kind of look at it like the China game in Seattle, where we only had one or two practices, but we are just going to give ourselves an idea of where we are and where we can go with this. I’m not going to put a lot of stock in if we beat Brazil tomorrow that we are going to win the gold medal, or if we don’t play well we are going to lose the gold medal. I think tomorrow is just an opportunity to play our very first game as the U.S. Olympic Team, and it’s the starting point. We will go from there.

From Tina Akouris at the Chicago-Sun Times: Naperville’s Candace Parker, Sky’s Sylvia Fowles share long connection

Naperville native Candace Parker and Sky center Sylvia Fowles always seem to be connected. Their pro careers began in 2008, when they were taken 1 and 2 overall in the WNBA draft and were the most heralded players in women’s basketball. But their history together actually goes back to childhood.

Never can have too many cooks. From John Altavilla: Chris Dailey Still By Geno’s Side

“I will come here every day and do what I am asked by the coaches. I have an advantage. I have worked with Geno for a very long time. I know what he wants. So I am happy to do it.”

Dailey also helped the Olympic staff at the 2010 World Championship in the Czech Republic.

“I can’t sit on the bench on game day and that’s hard. I did it in the Czech Republic and it’s hard,” said Dailey, whose off court job is essentially to be the director of scouting, with which UConn assistants Shea Ralph and Marisa Moseley will assist. “We will do whatever we can to help the team prepare to hopefully win a gold. That’s what our job is.”

It’s hard to believe it’s been that long. More from John: Three Of A Kind For USA Basketball

Where does it say in life’s blueprint that three friends, from the same basketball recruiting class, with diverse social backgrounds, divergent personalities and skills, would grow not only to be lifelong allies, but teammates on the same Olympic team, playing for the college coach they helped win two national championships for at UConn?

And that those three – Asjha Jones, Swin Cash and Sue Bird – would be just half of a six-player UConn contingent that will try to help USA Basketball and coach Geno Auriemma win the gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics in just two weeks.

“It will never happen again,” said UConn associate coach Chris Dailey.

And more: Auriemma Has His Own Dream Team Heading For Olympics

“I didn’t feel [the pressure] as much at the World Championship [in 2010], even though it was incredibly hard to win,” said Auriemma. “It doesn’t have the same feeling. You don’t get the same vibes from it.

“But at the Olympics, you are surrounded by the best athletes in the world, at every position. A coach is simply selected; the players earn their way in by reaching the finish line faster, landing a vault a little better. It’s kind of overwhelming. You want to feel worthy of it.

Jim Fuller at the New Haven Register adds: Bird, Cash and Jones are teammates again

 “To give you a good perspective, in ’95-96 when we had that year long program and it was remarkable to me how those 11 players on that national team spanned almost 11 different years,” USA Basketball Women’s National Team Director Carol Callan said. “There were maybe two from the same class but certainly not in the same school and now you are talking about three from the same recruiting class is speaks volumes about their abilities but also the ability of Geno to recruit them all and get them to where they are and the ability of the coaching staff to make them better than they were.”

From the Doug-ster: Players go from WNBA rivals to Olympic teammates

Tamika Catchings and Candace Parker battled it out Thursday night in a WNBA matchup between two of the top teams in the league. Now they’re wearing USA jerseys and getting prepared to take on the world as teammates for the U.S. women’s national team.

Such is the life of a WNBA superstar — opponents one night, teammates the next.

Kelly Parsons at the Washington Times offers up: Women’s team has familiar feel for Auriemma

During Team USA practice Sunday, forward Lindsay Whalen got a little mixed up on the play they were running. So she elicited some help from teammate and University of Connecticut alumna Sue Bird.

After all, Bird — one of six former Huskies on a Olympic basketball team coached by UConn coach Geno Auriemma — knows the system like the back of her hand.

“I’m always talking to Sue all the time,” Whalen said. “I know she’s played for [Coach A] for so many years. So I’m like, ‘If this happens, when should I do this?’ or ‘What’s this one called?’ I’m always in her ear asking her questions.”

Jim put up a little video, too: Bonds still strong between former UConn classmates Cash, Jones and Bird (video)

“When I think of the things I have experienced with Tamika, Sue, Asjha, now we have three of us on this team and four of us (including Diana Taurasi) from my senior year starting in the (2002) national championship game, that is pretty amazing and I think that is one for the history books,” Cash said. “We’ve all remained friends, we’ve all gone in our different directions in regards to not only playing basketball overseas but also in business and different ventures we have gotten into. The one thing that makes it special is our friendship and the bond we had at UConn.”

A little Moore NBC prep video: “She has been practicing her British accent, but admitted she’s been told it sounds more like something from the 1700’s.”

Part two of Mike Peden’s Olympic preview: Demanding Olympic schedule pressures USA ‘shield’ (Wait! You missed part 1? Here ya go: Olympic speculation morphs to jubilation for USA women)

Craig Stouffer from the Washington Examiner: U.S. women’s basketball team re-familiarizing itself

The women are still a product of the landscape, which requires the best players in the world to play virtually year-round in Europe, the WNBA or wherever the money takes them. Team USA is an afterthought — except for the part where if they don’t just win but win in convincing and dominating fashion, they’ve failed to live up to expectations.

“That just makes women better, right?” forward Candace Parker said. “I think it’s just schedule-wise we have no choice. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to play in the Olympics, or we wouldn’t be able to play in the WNBA. None of us want that.”

The WHB grabs some other voices:

Sylvia Fowles

On how the post-players are balancing the pressure to learn, lead and blend: It’s kind of a good combination. Everybody’s talking to each other. Tina helped me out ’cause she’s played for Geno, but at the same time, if I see she’s not doing something, I can pull her to the side and talk to her. And if she’s I’m not doing something, she can talk to me. It’s a learning process. I’m just taking it in and rolling with it. I don’t care who’s the veteran and who’s not – everybody’s got to listen at some point, because this is a team.

On being “tall and skinny” and going up against physical play: Mainly with physical play, you just have to keep your composure – and that’s mentally and physically. Don’t go out there and get stupid fouls so you can’t be out on the floor and contribute to your team. Honestly, I like getting beat up because it brings the best out in me. I don’t know how the other post players feel, but I’d rather get banged on, get hit, take the cheap shots. It makes me better.

On working with the Olympic assistant coaches: They’re always saying that the stuff that I’m doing is not good enough. So I just have to keep my ears open, stay focused, soak it up like a sponge. (Jen) Gillom’s on me all the time. I want to be great, and she knows I want to get there, so she’s going to stay on me. I appreciate every time she gets on me.

Tamika Catchings

On leadership: transition and style: Dawn (Staley) was able to put everyone where they were supposed to be. When you think about that, that was back in 2004 (Athens). And then, in ’08, she was on the coaching staff, so it was different, even then. Just having her transition from her being a player by my side to a coach where I’m listening to her.  For this year, Sue, Diana and I have just had to step up. We’ve had to talk more. For me, it’s more one-on-one interactions. We all come from different teams and different backgrounds — just being able to know how to communicate with players. I’m going to tell you what you need to do away from the court, so when you’re on the court, hopefully, you’ll be able to respond.

Diana Taurasi:

On changing roles from 2004 to 2012: Sue and I always talk about how in ’04 we literally might as well just have been employees on the boat. We didn’t play much, we got in a minute here or there. Now, we’re counted on to make sure this team is ready every time we step on the court. That’s a responsibility that we take quite seriously.

On the connection/relationship between the men’s and the women’s team: This Sue and Catch and my third Olympics. This is ‘melo’s third, LeBron’s third. It would have been Dwayne’s third. We were there when those guys were really struggling. Now, to see them come full circle and be where they’re supposed to be? We’re really happy for them.

On understanding the win-or-go home reality: In every Olympics I’ve been in, in every international tournament, there always comes a point where a team’s going to challenge you. Whether it’s from a team you expected it or a team that is unexpected, there’s always comes a point were you’re going to be challenged. That’s what really going to make or break this team. I think we have enough people on this team who’ve been in that situation. In ’06 — where it broke us — we went home with the bronze. In Athens, where Russia and Australia really challenged us in the last two games, we found a way.

On keeping your edge? Look, when there’s two countries playing basketball, there’s an edge. When one team is wearing one jersey and another team’s wearing another jersey, there’s an edge. Especially now, in international basketball, where it’s crossed over in the last five or six years. We’ve played over there for so much — we know them very well, they know us. There’s a lot of rivalries, there’s a lot of competition that sparks pretty quick.

On being injured and and finally returning to play: (Laughs) Since when did a month become a “long time”? In our world it feels like a year. I’m ready to go. The minute you get back in that game mode, it’s like you never stopped. It’s really like riding a bike. You might not have ridden a bike for eight years, but when you get on, whoosh. I did a lot of physio-therapy to get healthy, to get everything lined up. I did a lot of on court stuff. I did a lot of conditioning stuff in the weight room. That all helped me get to this position where I feel pretty good.

On being “veterans”: (Laughs) You know, the veteran used to be 36 years old, and now it’s 30. I said, “holy shit coach, you’re already putting the ‘old’ hat on us?” (Laughs) I like to think of myself as a young veteran. A youthful veteran. You know, it’s experience. With age, playing a lot of basketball, you get a lot of experience. You learn how to handle situations differently. Nothing is really much of a surprise, which is good. And, at the same time, you try and find a way to enjoy every moment. I think that’s the one thing about the last couple of years — whatever you’re doing, just be in that moment. You’re not anywhere else but here. Whether it’s practice, pre-game meal or going to dinner after practice – just enjoy every moment you have with the team, because you’ll never be together again.

On playing under Auriemma again: We’ve all gotten a little bit older. You can’t be the same person you were eight years ago. I’m not the same player, he’s not the same coach, Sue’s not the same player. You change. Our relationship has changed. I think we’re closer than ever. The respect level that I have for him is through the roof. I’m excited to be around him again. Everything he says, I’m trying to grab in, take it and run with it.

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Her first statements as a member of the Chicago Sky.

The new year rang in with lots of fireworks, to say the least.

On January 1, I received a call that most athletes dread – the one where my agents inform me I’ve been traded.

Happy New Year! Cheers!

That Alien guy across the pond ponders the implications: Grading the Trade: Storm Blows it Up

The Seattle Storm got 2012 off to a surprising start in the WNBA on Monday, sending Swin Cash, Le’coe Willingham and a late-second round pick in the 2012 draft (#23 overall) to Chicago for the #2 overall pick in that same upcoming draft. It’s been pretty apparent for a while that Seattle needed to freshen up their roster and get younger, but this was still a somewhat shocking way to open up the offseason transactions. Two key parts of your rotation for a pick in what’s generally seen as a weak draft class – for a coach/GM who’s shown no interest in using any young, inexperienced players in recent years – is a bold step. Time will tell whether it’s one step back to eventually move two forwards, or just a hop in the wrong direction.

Edit for update from HoopFeed: Dishin & Swishin January 5, 2012 Podcast: Chicago’s Pokey Chatman and Seattle’s Brian Agler on the Sky-Storm trade

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Big Sky move

Sky acquire 3-time WNBA All-Star Swin Cash

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On being traded (or not)

by Swin Cash: Advice for Lamar Odom – Don’t mix business and family.

First, understand this is business. Actually, BIG Business. You should have taken your emotions out of it years ago. You have to! That’s the only way to survive and keep a clear mind. I know how you’re feeling; you’ve invested so much in the team and in the community. They were like your family!

(Let me stop you right there.)

See that’s were athletes go wrong. In college, you were on scholarship, which meant four years of the same coaches, staff and even some teammates. They create a family atmosphere because they are helping mold you into young men and women. Once you go pro it becomes a different ball game. Now, don’t get me wrong, they probably loved you in Los Angeles, Lamar; you helped bring them two World Championship trophies. And, yes, while you will always be in their history books, don’t confuse success with security.

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USA Women’s National Team Fights Past Ros Casares Valencia 78-68

Swin Cash (Seattle Storm) scored a team-high 17 points to lead the  2011 USA Basketball Women’s National Team (2-0) to a hard-fought 78-68 victory over Ros Casares Valencia (1-1) in Monte di Procida, Italy. In the earlier game, Famila Schio (1-1) utilized a 21-8 third-quarter to bypass host Pallacanestro Pozzuoli (0-2) 69-52.

Cash, who averaged 14.5 ppg. and 7.5 rpg. in the two-night, four-team tournament, was named MVP and Brittney Griner (Baylor University) listed as the best post player after averaging 12.5 ppg. and 7.5 rpg. off the bench.

Additional quotes:

Auriemma: This was a completely different game than last night in the sense that this is one of the top teams in Europe. They’re well-drilled. Their coach is excellent. They shot the ball incredibly well in that whole first half. We had some foul problems, but I thought our guys did a great job of attacking them and getting them into foul trouble. We had a stretch there in the second half, where I thought the game was decided. We got five or six shots in a row and converted on three or four of them. I thought that was the deciding factor in the game.

Check the box for a Brussels Sprout/Belgian Waffle spotting.

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Griner blogs: 

PRACTICE
Okay, the first day of practice I just wanted to die. I was tired because there are only seven of us and yeah, I was worn out. It was crazy but practice is cool though. I had to learn quick, real quick. Everyone is very helpful. Swin Cash and Tina Charles both help me a lot. Tina calls me `kid’ but she is only two years older than me. She and I chill a lot in my room on our computers. Renee (Montgomery) is real nice and Cappie Pondexter is real cool. In fact, everyone is really nice to me and helps me out.

 

That’s all for now, gotta get some rest. Check back often, I’ll do more of these while I’m here.

 

 

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Agreed

From Mechelle: Playoffs have wide-open feeling

In the WNBA a year ago, there was a green giant that was anything but jolly to those standing in its path. The strong feeling heading into the postseason then was that the visual of Sue Bird, Lauren Jackson and their Seattle teammates lifting the league trophy would ultimately symbolize last summer for the league.

The success of the Storm indeed ended up being the dominant story of the WNBA in 2010, as they swept through their three playoff series with a 7-0 record and Jackson was named MVP of the league and the finals.

Got any idea of what image will wrap up 2011, the league’s 15th season? Actually, you probably have several.

Here’s the playoff schedule.

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No, I’m not kidding.

Went to check out the Lib’s silent auction (dude-lettes — advertise it better and run it through the end of the third quarter. Might give bidders a chance to, you know, bid.) and when I returned, there was a four-person family in my seats. Obviously, the Rock seat-police are far kinder than MSGs, and there were extra seats behind them, so I didn’t stress them. I did, of course, have to strike up a conversation with the interlopers — and yup, I kid you not! It was Mrs. and Mrs. Swin and two youngsters.

Mrs. Swin is right up my alley. Perched on her seat, she is unabashedly a fan of her daughter, but loves and respects good play. She yelled and cheered (I think Swin heard her in one quiet moment, because I swear I saw an “Oiy, I hear my mom” look flash across her face). Mr. Swin was silent most of the game until, just about at crunch time and prior to a Lib inbounds, he quietly warned Seattle, “Watch number 23.”

Obviously, nobody heard him because, sure enough, Cappie curled around a screen and nailed a three.

As for the game itself, it was an odd one. The final score reads ugly (58-56), but it didn’t feel ugly. The Lib won in spite of their generosity to Sue Bird (not sure she could have been more open for her threes) and the obvious tallness, yet baffling ineffectiveness, of their post people. (Save Pierson. As my co-attendee noted, there’s a clear geneological link from PP to Taj to Vicky Bullett.)

Cappie’s impressive game winning drive (got the gentleman from Bell Biv Devo up on his feet) almost went for naught as the Storm got a ton of chances in the last 3 seconds to tie the game. Fortunately, Carson woke up offensively AND defensively, and stuffed Bird’s game tying shot to secure the win.

The Stars went all Chicago Sky in the second period, only managing to score five points, and help Indy roll to a 81-68 win. Wow, did Adams make THAT much of a difference?

Watch out, LJ, the Tina Beast is coming after you: Charles tied Lauren Jackson’s WNBA record with her seventh straight double-double as the Connecticut Sun defeated the Chicago Sky 69-58. As for the score, I loved Thibault’s comment: “Can we call it a defensive clinic, not an offensive meltdown?”

LA squeaked out a win at home against Tulsa. I wonder if this bodes well for the Shock for the rematch on the 20th. I’ll be there — will CP3? And hello, 23pts? What has Ticha been drinkin’!

Atlanta REALLY squeaked out a win over Washington via Sancho’s last second shot (is it just me, or have there been a ton of “last second shots” these past two weeks?) and Matee’s 28pts. Guess Ajavon heard ‘kellians dissin’ her MIP creds, huh?

Clearly, the game worth watching in the archives is the Phoenix/Minny matchup. Moore bested Taurasi 28-26 in points and 5-1 in steals, but it was DT’s lone swipe that sealed the Mercury’s win and snapped the Lynx’s 9-game streak.

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keep d’em Lynx-zies rollin’! (I must admit, I have a soft spot for Minnesota ’cause the originators of this blog came from the fine city of Minneapolis…)

Make it seven in a row for the Lynx as they took down Phoenix 90-73. But there will be no laurel-resting here ’cause the SASS are up next.

“It’s just on to the next one, one at a time,” said Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve, after her team improved to 14-4. “It can turn in an instant, for whatever reason, and we don’t want to be that team that lets our guard down.”

Speaking of guards, Tim Leighton of the Pioneer Press points to a particular one: Lindsey (sic) Whalen has another Minnesota team reaching new heights:

“It is not a coincidence that Lindsay Whalen was a part of the Gophers in ’04 and what is happening with us,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said.

Whalen, who had averaged 15.8 points and seven assists in the team’s nine previous games, had 11 points and five assists to help spark the Lynx, who used an early run in the second half and another in the fourth quarter to hold off the Mercury (11-8).

Whalen, 29, appears to have been reborn in the second year of running Reeve’s system, and her play is stirring memories of past heroics. Her slashing drives down the lane have been powerful, and her perimeter shooting has been textbook pure.

Nate has more on What Makes Lindsay Whalen The Best So Far in 2011

I know some are pointing to Reeve as Coach of the Year and, rightly so, muttering about Augustus as POY (Um, get Land O’ Lakes as your sponsor, ’cause she’s smooth like buttah), but can Bird and Agler of the Jackson-less Storm get some props? (Speaking of LJ, fun to hear her last night and even nicer was the optimism about her rehab.)

Consider the AP’s opening lines as Seattle dismissed the Adams-less SASS.

Sue Bird’s 3-pointer right before the third-quarter buzzer provided a lift at just the right time for the Seattle Storm.

Bird hit a 22-footer to put Seattle up by eight just a minute after the San Antonio Silver Stars had cut a 13-point deficit to one in the quarter.

The Storm then went on a 10-2 run to start the fourth quarter en route to a 78-64 victory over the Silver Stars on Tuesday night. Bird finished with 17 points and Swin Cash added 16.

“Yeah, that one really hurt us,” Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes said about Bird’s 3-pointer.

You know, if Mini Mi continues to reclaim her outside shooting touch, the Lib could get interesting. Mitchell notched four 3s (all in the 4th quarter) and Plenette (who would look so slammin’ in a 1940’s get up, dontcha think?) added 20 and New York took down the Dream by 10.

It’s looking more and more like the fourth spot in the East will come down to a battle of the light blue uniforms.

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Scarlet night past, bright days ahead

They are linked through a college experience in which they shared some triumphantly transcendent moments … and some frustratingly distracting ones, too.

Now, still quite young in their professional careers, former Rutgers teammates Essence Carson and Epiphanny Prince are WNBA All-Stars. Both are having a breakout kind of season, which merited their selections as reserves for Saturday’s game (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET).

Looking at the photo…hmmmm…why do I have a sudden urge for candy corn??

Keeping with at Big East theme, from ESPN’s Page Two there’s a little on Rookie Hazing and  Sue Bird set for reunion at WNBA All-Star game

Saturday is the WNBA All-Star Game in San Antonio, but it will be more like a University of Connecticut family reunion.

For the Western Conference, four of the five starters — Swin Cash (2002), Maya Moore (2011), Diana Taurasi (2004) and Sue Bird (2002) — played for the Huskies. On the Eastern Conference side, Tina Charles (2010) is starting and Renee Montgomery (2009) is a reserve.

Page 2 had a chance to catch up with Bird, who has won a championship with UConn, an Olympic gold medal and a WNBA championship. Even though she’s been playing for the Seattle Storm since 2002, she still has a Connecticut cellphone number

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From Jayda

Storm All-Stars Sue Bird and Swin Cash rest before camp

Storm players are back, so that should signal the weather to get warmer. It’s been 191 days since Seattlehas felt the beam of a 70-degree ray. That was Nov. 3 of last year, a little over a month after the Storm won its second WNBA championship.

Well, regardless of outside temps, it’s going to be hot inside Seattle Pacific University’s Brougham Pavilion gym. The Storm will hold training camp there and with a listed 17-player roster, cuts are looming opening week.

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Swin checks in

on Coping With the Other Side

Well, I’ve been gone for a minute but I’m back now.

They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. I’ve decided that I don’t want any lemonade; I’d rather throw those dang lemons back at life! Y’all ever have those kinds of moments? When one thing after another keeps happening and you wonder when the heck it’s going to stop? For most of my January, and some of February, my life was exactly like that; it brought me heartache, fear, anger and most importantly growth.

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WNBA stars weigh in on Steelers-Ravens

There’s no love lost between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens. The AFC North rivals have claimed three Super Bowl titles between them since 2000, and this year split their two regular-season games, each of which was decided by three points. On Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh, the Steelers and Ravens will square off again, this time in the NFL divisional playoffs.

Among the faithful who will be following Saturday’s game are Swin Cash (left) and Renee Montgomery, two WNBA stars who are currently playing pro basketball overseas. Cash, a Pittsburgh diehard, will be rooting for the Steelers from China; Montgomery, who is BFFs with Baltimore running back Ray Rice, will be cheering for the Ravens from Israel. Cash and Montgomery have each weighed in from abroad on Saturday’s showdown:

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