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But, until the US’s next game (What To Watch For: USA vs. Serbia (Wednesday, 2:30 PM ET), we have this….

CNN: The best team [some of] you’ve never heard of plays basketball for the U.S.

In truth, women’s soccer had already entered America’s collective consciousness in 1999 — when Brandi Chastain donned a Sports Illustrated cover celebrating in a sports bra after defeating China in the World Cup — and never left. 
A recent Sports Illustrated Olympic preview cover features women’s footie star Alex Morgan, alongside prominent Americans Kevin Durant, Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky.
But of the seven athletes featured on the SI cover, none of them represent the country’s most dominating — yet largely anonymous — team over the past three decades, one whose eye-popping statistic was buried in a one liner under its medals picks: The U.S. women’s basketball team has a 41-game Olympic winning streak.

Fans and critics use labels to define athletes, and Sylvia Fowles understands that.

But the former LSU star refuses to be tied to one.

“If you asked me two years ago how long I’d play, I probably would have said two years,” Fowles said. “My health is good, and I still love playing basketball. I’m not ready to put an expiration date on my career — not yet.”

 

An emphatic statement from the typically soft-spoken Fowles is a little surprising. It should be a plus for a U.S. women’s national team seeking its sixth straight gold medal at the Summer Olympics.

Tamika Catchings and Maya Moore mix hoops and help for the less fortunate

.com: Sue Bird Continuing Stellar WNBA Play In Rio

Jeff Eisenberg: How Elena Delle Donne spurned Geno Auriemma only to reunite with him in the Olympics

On the night she fled the nation’s premier women’s basketball program without warning, Elena Delle Donne was certain of only one thing.

She believed Geno Auriemma would never forgive her.

Swish Appeal: How Breanna Stewart is changing the landscape of basketball

A little antidote to the sexism in the coverage of women Olympians: 50 Photos That Show The Raw Power Of This Year’s Olympic Women

About those covering the games: Bus shooting in Rio: First-hand account from Hoopfeed correspondent Lee Michaelson

An Olympic media transport bus came under gunfire on Tuesday night, as it made the trip from the venue cluster at Deodoro Olympic Park to the Main Press Center (MPC) and International Broadcast Center, located across town at the main Olympic Park in Barra, carrying approximately 10 passengers. Two windows on the side of the bus were blown out by the impact. A reporter from Belarus, as well as an Olympic volunteer from Turkey, sustained minor wounds from the broken glass, but no one was hit by the shots or seriously injured.

Hoopfeed.com correspondent Lee Michaelson, a retired Air Force captain, was on the bus at the time of the incident, and gave us a first-hand account.

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Thank goodness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Without missing a beat, Dolson replied.

“Oh my God, Morgan Tuck!” she said.

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

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

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

NCAA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

International

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

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

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

Make no mistake. This is Tamika Catchings’ team.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The president and this reporter briefly touched upon several topics:

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

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

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

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

NCAA

NCAA.com Rules group pleased with state of the game

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But she won it with them.”

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or was that a fierce, feisty game?

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

Well, now  we have a series.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tony is specific in the commentary below. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyone else hoping this goes to five?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Her words carry weight. What she says matters.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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an adventure – but at least I’ll be able to catch Game 2 – albeit prone and enthusiastically medicated. (A shout out to the WHYY security guard who had Game 1 on the t.v. screen. As he said, “You’ve got to watch this – it’s the Championship!)

In preparation game:

From Mechelle: A more mature Shenise Johnson makes an immediate impact for Indiana

Indiana guard Shenise Johnson writes poems that are sometimes meant to last and other that are meant to go away shortly after they’re created.

“I like to express myself as an outlet, a stress-reliever. So I’m not punching walls or doing anything like that,” she said, chuckling. “It allows you to evaluate, to write something down and release it.

“Then, it’s over and done with and I can do what I please with it. I can throw it out, burn it, or I could keep it and reread it.”

The .com’s Zavadil notes: Coleman, Zellous, January Share Bond That Began in 2009

Cohesion as a unit is a trait that goes hand-in-hand with a championship-caliber team. For the Indiana Fever, that cohesiveness is evident from Tamika Catchings down to the end of the bench.

But for Briann January, Shavonte Zellous and Marissa Coleman, their friendship extends far longer than just the few seasons they’ve played together. All three were first round draft picks in the 2009 WNBA Draft.

AP Jon Krawczynski says Minnesota Lynx coach calls out stars after losing Game 1 of WNBA Finals

Michelle says coach says, not really:

Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve challenged the notion that she challenged veteran guards Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus after Sunday’s 75-69 Game 1 loss to Indiana in the WNBA Finals.

“I don’t necessarily know that I challenged them,” Reeve said Monday. “I was asked, ‘Do they need to do more?’ and I confirmed what everybody sees, that they need to do more.”

In the moments following Sunday’s loss, Reeve indeed was questioned about the need to get more offensive production from her perimeter players.

The Star Tribune’s Kent Youngblood keeps it simple: Lynx need more from veterans Augustus, Whalen in Game 2

Late Sunday afternoon, after her team had lost Game  1 of the Western Conference finals, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve calmly, publicly, challenged Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus to do more.

Monday, subtly, the narrative had changed.

Reeve did not back down from anything she said, though she characterized her comments as less of a challenge than a simple response to a question of whether she needed more from her guards.

Yes, she does.

But Monday she pledged to do more to help them, particularly Whalen. Reeve suggested part of the problem might be in the way games are being called. 

Mechelle offers: Team chemistry helps carry Indiana Fever, Minnesota Lynx in WNBA Finals

The Minnesota Lynx had a basketball clinic with kids on Monday at Target Center, which was exactly what her team needed, according to guard Maya Moore.

That might seem a bit odd, considering the Lynx were coming off a 75-69 loss to Indiana in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals on Sunday. One might think they would have been too tense to have much patience for the youngsters. However, knowing the personality of the Lynx, it makes more sense that they seemed to enjoy it so much.

In college news:

Nebraska: Theriot, Shepard coming back from injuries together

Rachel Theriot and Jessica Shepard rode their bicycles together one day last week from lunch to the Hendricks Training Complex, where the Nebraska women’s basketball team practices.

That’s been a common scene over the past few months — the Huskers’ senior guard and freshman forward riding together — although it’s usually been on stationary bicycles at the practice gym.

On those bikes were two who could be the Huskers’ best players this season, each trying to stay in shape as they continued their comebacks from major injuries.

Montana: Lady Griz thinking reload, not rebuild

Usually when a coach starts telling you about preseason unknowns, it comes across as a preemptive excuse in case things go awry.

Not Robin Selvig. His Montana women’s basketball team may have lost three key starters from last year’s Big Sky Conference championship crew, but don’t expect him to cry poor.

“There’s lots of opportunity now for someone else to step up,” said Selvig, whose squad will hold its first practice Tuesday. “It’s going to be a different look but it’s fun to see each team take on its own personality. There’s lots of questions and lots of fun things to try and decide.”

Colorado: ‘New feeling in the air’ for Linda Lappe’s Buffs

There is no out of bounds when the Colorado women’s basketball team gets on the practice court.

If there’s a loose ball, the Buffaloes are fighting for it until somebody corrals it. If that battle goes all the way to the seats, so be it. The player who eventually secures the ball is applauded. 

“I feel like there’s just a new feeling in the air,” senior Jamee Swan said Monday after the Buffs completed their first official practice of the 2015-16 season. “Nobody is going to let what happened last year happen again.”

Last season was CU’s worst in the five-year tenure of head coach Linda Lappe, as it finished 15-17 and failed to reach the postseason for the first time under her direction.

Connecticut: UConn Women’s Insider: Geno Auriemma’s Global Reach

Let’s take a moment to chart UConn’s enormous global reach in women’s basketball.

We start in Europe. Who would have guessed Elena Delle Donne’s first chance to help Geno Auriemma win a game would come in Girona, Spain, in 2015?

The USA Basketball Women’s National Team opened its European tour with an 84-52 victory over Uni Girona on Sunday, paced by 21 points from Delle Donne, playing in her first national team game against a Spanish team featuring Connecticut Sun guard Chelsea Gray.

“It was so much fun,” Delle Donne told reporters. “It’s probably the most fun I’ve had playing the game, with all these incredible players elevating everybody’s game.”

Florida: UF women’s basketball focused on improving toughness heading into season

Thanks to some unusual training methods, any school facing the Florida women’s basketball team this season would be wise to think better of starting a scrap with the Gators.

During the offseason, coach Amanda Butler made it a point to get her team out of its comfort zone.

In addition to taking them on a team “attack,” because they “never wanna retreat,” Butler also had the team to take boxing lessons.

“We want to be tough,” she said.

New Mexico: Aggie women look to build on last season

Success came a year early for the New Mexico State women’s basketball.

The Aggies won a Western Athletic Conference championship with a young core group of players that all returned to practice for the 2015-16 season on Sunday.

“You look at my sophomore year and we had the talent but we just all had to grow up and go through those growing pains,” said Aggies senior guard Sasha Weber, who led the Aggies with 14.9 points per game last year and was a first-team All WAC selection.

Kansas: Small communities fostered Sports Hall of Famers’ careers

Shalee Lehning used to joke with her Atlanta Dream teammates when she made it to the WNBA that she used to have to drive 30 miles to the nearest movie theatre while growing up in Sublette.

Some couldn’t imagine what that would be like, but to Lehning, she wouldn’t have had it any other way.

“You understand what matters growing up in a small town,” Lehning said. “Community matters, people matter, relationships matter. Those are things that you’re doing because you’re spending time with people.”

Those small-town qualities were on full display Sunday night at the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony, as 11 former coaches and athletes were inducted at the Scottish Rite Center.

You stay put: Missouri gives Pingeton 5-year contract through 2019-20

Illinois: Hopeful ISU women set to open practice

Slogging through a 2-28 season wasn’t a barrel of laughs for anyone associated with the Illinois State women’s basketball program.

Third-year coach Barb Smith expects the coming season, which begins with the first official practice on Sunday, to be much more enjoyable.

“This season is going to be a lot of fun,” Smith insisted. “We are ahead of where we’ve been since I’ve been here. The players worked extremely hard. The attitude of this team is so good right now, very positive.”

The sting of the worst season in program history was intensified when six players with eligibility remaining left the team shortly after the season. One of those, senior forward Sue Crump, changed her mind and was welcomed back to the roster by Smith.

Pennsylvania: Pitt women not doubting themselves after a tough year to top

Two years after winning just nine games, and in their second season under coach Suzie McConnell-Serio, the Panthers won 20 games and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

By any account, Pitt was and still is ahead of schedule. But entering the 2015-16 season, it’s faced with a critical question: Once you’ve reached a certain height once, can you immediately do it again?

Footnote:

Just proving he’s a moral coward and a tone-deaf professional: Isiah Thomas denies wrongdoing in 2007 sexual harassment case

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About to hop in the car with the poppa and hit Philly for the “This I Believe: Philadelphia” event, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten about today’s game (or that “Other” game – yes, I enjoyed the concert…sigh. And I really enjoyed this season.). I’m looking forward to the “Battle of the Healthy Heavyweights.” – nice to see the W doing the bumping, isn’t it?

BTW: Did you know the WNBA Finals features Philly connection

From the AP: Lynx want WNBA Finals redemption against Indiana

 Maya Moore and the Minnesota Lynx waltzed into the 2012 WNBA Finals ready for a coronation.

It was supposed to be the beginning of a dynasty, with the powerful Lynx sure to overwhelm heavy underdog Indiana for their second straight championship.

Tamika Catchings had other ideas.

Catchings and the Fever took it to the defending champions, stunning them in Game 1 in Minnesota and taking the best-of-five series 3-1 for the franchise’s first championship.

Three years later, the two teams are meeting again. And this time, Moore said the Lynx will be ready for them.

Mike Max says the Lynx Focused On Winning Title, Not Revenge On Fever

Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve and Timberwolves’ interim head coach Sam Mitchell chatted as their practices overlapped Thursday. It was a good problem to have because it means the Lynx are in the finals.

“No matter what, it’s just one more opponent we’re getting ready for. This is it, and this is where we were trying to get to and we’re here,” Reeve said.

Maybe what they have learned more than anything is how precious it is to make it to the WNBA Finals. And when you get here, you never know if it could be your last shot.

Swish Appeal is singing the coach White’s praises: Stephanie White etches name in with WNBA coaching greats as is Mechelle: Stephanie White sets bar high in first season as Fever head coach

Indiana coach Stephanie White really wasn’t sure she’d be in the WNBA this long. After retiring as a player, she spent four years as an assistant at the college level, and then went in that capacity to the WNBA’s Chicago Sky.

“I bought into the idea of former players staying in the league to help the current players understand where we’ve come from and where we have to get to,” White said. “To be a part of molding that next generation of players. Because you could take it for granted, very easily, if you’ve grown up with the WNBA and didn’t know it could be taken away.”

The New York Times takes a look at the other bench: With Bold Coach, Lynx Find a Voice. It May Be Hoarse.

Two tense games in the W.N.B.A.’s Western Conference finals reduced Minnesota Lynx Coach Cheryl Reeve’s voice to a rasp. It had mostly recovered by midweek, when Reeve, dressed in blue-and-gray Lynx sweats, directed practice.

But it was not exactly right, and that bothered her.

“Is it better?” she asked. “I tried everything. It’s hard this time of year.”

Part teacher, part taskmaster and part tactician, Reeve is as much the voice and driving force of the Lynx franchise as the American Olympians Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen are the faces.

Speaking of coaches: Dishin & Swishin 10/01/15 Podcast: Previewing the WNBA finals with Mike Thibault & Brian Agler

More from Mechelle: Seimone Augustus as vital as ever to Lynx’s championship hopes

There are times when Minnesota guard Seimone Augustus has just the right message for her hard-driving and intense coach, Cheryl Reeve. It’s the kind of thing not just anybody could say, but Augustus always nails it.

“I joke with her: ‘You might need to get to the studio and get some yoga and find your happy place,'” Augustus said. “So she calls me the Zen master.”

The Star Tribune has a Sunday Q&A: Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson

Reusse: Moore’s arrival lifted Lynx from obscurity

The Lynx were 1-4 in the playoffs in 12 years of existence before Moore. They are 26-8 with Moore.
A franchise that couldn’t get out of its own way for a dozen years is now going for its third WNBA title in the five years of Maya Moore.

Have you ever seen such a winner?

“Maya’s not the quickest player, but she’s fast,” Petersen said. “She’s not the biggest player, but she’s physical. And she just makes so many plays.”

Petersen laughed slightly and said: “Some of them are drawn up in the game plan; some of them aren’t. The way I put it, ‘She goes rogue.’ Sometimes when she goes rogue, it turns into a great play. The rest of the time, Cheryl is yelling at her.

“I’ve never seen a great player get yelled at as much as Maya. She just takes it. Maya has that rare ability to put a bad play — a foul, missed shot, whatever — behind her and instantly get back in the moment.

From the Indy Star’s David Woods: How the Fever were built, player by player

When the Indiana Fever selected Tamika Catchings with the third pick of the 2001 WNBA draft, they secured their future for the next decade and a half.

Yet as great as she has been, the Fever have been to a record 11 consecutive postseasons not solely because of her – and not because of the draft. Not since 2005 have the Fever had a top-four pick.

Kelly Krauskopf, the Fever’s top executive for all of their 16 seasons, has kept the team near the top via trades, free-agent signings, judicious drafting and retention of key pieces.

Kent Youngblood says the  Lynx and Fever are meeting in a finals that’s about veterans, not youth: The Lynx have made a habit of reaching the finals, but it’s anything but routine 

Indeed, in an era where youth is trumpeted, this series is a throwback, with old vets rather than youngsters. The Lynx starters average 30.4 years of age, Indiana 29.2. The Lynx looking for a third title in five years, the fever a second in four seasons.

“This is a series that fans need to appreciate what they see on the floor,” said Rebecca Lobo, the former player who will be part of the ESPN broadcast crew. “Knowing Catchings only has a season left; this might be her last finals. Knowing this Lynx team, as it is put together right now, may be changing in the coming years. … It will be a great series.”

Busy Mechelle writes: WNBA Finals primer: Why Minnesota shouldn’t underestimate Indiana

This is the first time since 2006 — and just the fourth time overall — that the team with the best record in the league did not reach the WNBA Finals. So while the New York Liberty — who went 23-11 this season — must dwell on what went wrong in the Eastern Conference finals, the Indiana Fever move on to try to knock off the team with the second-best record this season: the West champion Minnesota Lynx, who were 22-12 in the regular season.

This is a repeat of the 2012 WNBA Finals, with a very similar cast of main characters, although there are a few new faces in this matchup.

Lynx Looking to Use Homecourt, Crowd to Their Advantage

Women’s Watch: Indiana Fever the real story of this WNBA season

Catchings, who led Stevenson to an IHSA state championship in 1995, has announced that next season will be her last in the WNBA. She is engaged and ready to marry, have children and move on with her life.

She reflected on that when she was in Chicago last month while leading the Fever to a first-round win over the Sky.

“Every time I go out, after this year, it becomes the last of everything,” Catchings said. “This is the last off-season, it will be the last first game.

“Really, this is just the opportunity to go out and enjoy my team. I love my teammates. They’re a great group of ladies and I’m savoring the moments.”

Catchings has certainly been saving some of her best moments for the playoffs.

Again from David: For female athletes, 35 might be the new 25

“We’ve done a really good job all season long just taking care of my body and making sure this is the time that I’m ready,” she said. “I’m ready to perform at the end of the season, and not necessarily at the beginning. So I feel great.”

There is scientific and anecdotal evidence that not only can women perform as well as they did a decade earlier, they can often do better. As women age, they become more aerobic, according to Krista Austin, a sports scientist and coach formerly employed by the U.S. Olympic Committee.  That is, women’s bodies absorb and transport oxygen more efficiently.

What Catchings is doing is not a new phenomenon.

For some of us, there a storyline that has added an interesting tinge to the games: The Holdout: Lynx’s Sylvia Fowles seeking redemption in WNBA Finals

Make a list of the worst sins a pro athlete could commit against the spirit of competition. Somewhere among those offenses, there will be The Holdout. The mere suggestion of such an act quickly calls up a set of images in the mind: of a star player acting selfishly, of a stubborn team at wit’s end. Before long the fan’s blood starts to boil, even though it rightly shouldn’t. This is a boardroom drama that still unfolds against the backdrop of capitalism, after all.

Yet those images, however much ingrained, are hard to reconcile in the WNBA, where the sisterhood is real and the relationships within are largely positive and everlasting. Those images don’t strictly line up with the Minnesota Lynx’s standout center—a big-hearted, soft-spoken, 29-year-old named Sylvia Fowles.

Finally, this is the really essential background reading you need to prep for the game today:

It’s Minnesota vs. Indiana in the WNBA Finals, so here’s a “best-of” look at these two states. We quizzed the natives that both teams have: Minnesota-born-and-raised Lindsay Whalen, the Lynx point guard, and Indiana-born-and-raised Stephanie White, the Fever’s head coach. As a Midwesterner who has spent a lot of time in both states, I’ll toss in my picks, too.

Best TV show set in the state

Minnesota
Whalen: “I’m too young for ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’; I missed that. I’ll go with ‘Coach.’ He was at Minnesota State, which we didn’t even have back then.” (Mankato State changed names to Minnesota State in 1999, two years after the TV show ended.)
Voepel: “I’m a lot older than Whalen and am the biggest ‘MTM’ fan on the planet. I’m just bummed that the famous Mary statue is currently in storage because of renovation work on Nicollet Mall.”

Indiana:
White: “Parks and Recreation.” (Set in wonderfully-fake-but-oh-so-real Pawnee.)
Voepel: “One Day at a Time” if I go with my cheesy 1970s bias; Ms. Romano and daughters lived in Indianapolis. Nah, I’ll choose “Parks and Rec,” too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No rest? No sweat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In other news:

Say, what, Texas???!!!

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

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

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from the U19 Championships? Ask Paul!

A is for All-Star Five and congratulations to A’ja WilsonNapheesa CollierAlanna SmithDaria Kolosovskaia and Maria Vadeeva. I would also throw into the mix Louise DambachEmese HofLaura QuevedoRaisa MusinaJulie Allemand and Ksenia Levchenko and Azura Stevens for my terrific 12.

B is for blowouts and regrettably there were far too many throughout the competition.

C is for competition format. Twelve teams is a maximum for women’s youth events and four spots for the Americas is at least one too many in the current mix.

D is for Dawn Staley, the winning coach from the USA who I thought did a good job considering the loss of key personnel ahead and during the tournament.

I’ll add my A for Announcers. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the team that handled the games. It was like having two Kara Lawsons working side-by-side, reminding viewers of what basketball announcing should be – player knowledge, history and game analysis.

W news…

So, have you decided who got the best of the trade?

Mike weighs in: Who won three-way trade?

WHAT ATLANTA GETS

Atlanta’s participation likely made this arrangement possible, as a direct trade between Chicago and Minnesota was difficult to fathom with their available assets. Expected to be a contender in the East early in the season, Atlanta’s campaign has been nothing short of a mess. Shoni Schimmel’s lack of conditioning and a mismanagement of resources on the floor has been a baffling endeavor for head coach Michael Cooper; in Atlanta’s last game before the All-Star break, a 97-92 road loss to Chicago, he seemed unaware of the foul tally with McCoughtry and Tiffany Hayes, costing them crucial minutes in a close game.

Schimmel’s stamina is returning to last year’s form, but the Dream no longer have a proven center. Their involvement in the trade was interpreted as a tacit admission that a rebuilding phase was more likely than a run at a championship. With a pair of 22-year-olds and five 2016 draft picks to this point, such a philosophy is believable.

Mechelle (edit: hate auto correct! you think it would know by now) weighs in: Three-team trade boosts Lynx, Sky

Minnesota really wants to win the 2015 WNBA championship. Chicago is hoping that it made the best of a very difficult situation. And Atlanta, while not giving up on making the playoffs this year, is looking more toward the future. Those are the general takeaways from the big three-team trade announced Monday.

Wonder how Marynell Meadors is doing. What, too soon?

David offers up an Eastern Conference team-by-team midseason review: A close race but blockbuster trade may shake things up

NEW YORK LIBERTY (12-5, 1st place)

If one team did not want to see the All-Star break, it was Bill Laimbeer’s Liberty. They are on a five-game winning streak, coinciding with the return of Epiphanny Prince from her obligations in Russia and insertion in the starting lineup. Prince and All-Star Tina Charles are the only Liberty players averaging double figures, but it seems to be Charles (17.2 ppg, 9.3 rpg) and someone else stepping up night in and night out. One night it is Sugar Rodgers hitting big shots, another it is Kiah Stokes dominating on the defensive end.

“We just have to stay disciplined in who we are,” says Charles. “It’s definitely been working for us to be number one in the East right now. We are just going to stay disciplined in who the Liberty is and just competing out there.

Keep an eye on: Four of the Liberty’s last five games are against Eastern conference playoff contenders Chicago, Connecticut, Washington, and Indiana, with the fifth game against Western leader Minnesota.

Tulsa Fire Sale! Give Tulsa fans free entry for rest of the season

Tulsa Shock minority owner, Stuart Price announced that he is calling on majority owner Bill Cameron to open seats to the remaining nine Shock home games for free. On Monday, after a few weeks of speculation, Cameron announced that he is moving the team to Arlington, Texas. The WNBA governing board approved the move in a unanimous vote on Thursday. Price has indicated that he is also filing a lawsuit against Cameron.

“Our community and fans have been here through the bad times and they deserve better than to lose the team just when it finally turns the corner,” said Price. “The players and coaches also deserve better than to have their winning season disrupted with the relocation news.”

Who dat on the cover of the Chicago RedEye? 

In her rookie season, Elena Delle Donne led the Sky to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. A year later, the team was in the WNBA finals.

Delle Donne transformed her team—can she do the same for the WNBA? There’s reason to believe so.

Today’s NBA players are rock stars. On a first-name basis with the world, they appear in summer blockbusters and soda commercials and earn hundreds of millions of dollars on the court and even more off it.

But it wasn’t always this way. In the 1970s—30 years after the league’s inception—the league was floundering. Interest had dwindled to the point that the Finals weren’t even televised live.

That all changed when Magic Johnson and Larry Bird entered the league in 1979.

Seems to me the W has ridden three surges in popularity/attention on women’s athletics:

  • The ’96 surge (which brought pre-and-early Title IXers in and a strong lesbian following) capped by soccer’s ’99ers.
  • The ’00 UConn surge (which brought current college fans to the W) capped by Taurusi.
  • The 2014-15 surge (which reinvigorated national attention and media coverage and activism) capped by the “Summer of Women.”

Here’s hoping the W can build on it’s young talent and successfully navigate the current upheaval in cable access and media coverage. If women’s basketball college coaches are smart, they’ll fully embrace the both the W AND the changing social perception of sexuality and use both as leverage in building their programs – starting with getting sufficient support from their Athletic Directors.

Did you catch this: BETH BROOKE-MARCINIAK

Welcome to The Drive, powered by Ford. In this series, Sage Steele goes back to campus with former college athletes to revisit the places and life-changing moments that inspired their drive to succeed. Beth Brooke-Marciniak, former Purdue women’s basketball star and global vice chair, public policy for EY, travels back to her alma mater.

A little more on the 2016 inductees: 

If the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame’s 2016 class was a player, it would be a combo guard strong enough to post up beneath the rim.

Or, perhaps a center not afraid to shoot the occasional three.

The six-person class that will be inducted in Knoxville on June 11, 2016, is being celebrated for its versatility.

From the Deseret News: Taylorsville native Natalie Williams to be inducted into Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016

Williams said she’s so focused on accomplishing new goals, she doesn’t always take the time to reflect on just what she’s achieved.

“I forget how much I’ve accomplished,” she said. “I’m always working on trying to do more.” One of the great joys of her life currently is coaching her three daughters, the oldest of which, Sydney, 15, will play at Alta High this winter.

Ayla, 8, and Nation, 5, also play, while Sydney’s twin brother Taurasi is a hip-hop dancer.

She said she’s not worried about whether her daughters will feel the pressure that may come as fans and media compare them to her, as she tries to help them focus on the same thing that helped her achieve so much success.

“All Mom cares about is hard work and effort,” she said.

Speaking of Utah:

Lynne Roberts doesn’t consider her hiring as the dawn of a new era for the University of Utah women’s basketball team. Roberts, the first head coach to come from outside the program since 1975, is just looking forward to the challenge of getting the Utesback to where she says they belong.

“I want to be national relevant,” Roberts said. “If there’s a sentence that would be it.”

After four years at the helm of Chico State and nine at Pacific, Roberts now heads a Utah program that has fallen on hard times. The Utes, who have an all-time record of 837-364, are a paltry 23-49 in Pac-12 play since joining the conference in 2011-12.

Speaking of rebuilding:

The idea of revamping a roster for the second straight year is nothing out of the ordinary for Louisiana Tech women’s basketball coach Tyler Summitt.

Summitt, the young 24-year-old coach who is constantly reminded by his mentors that implementing a culture takes two to three years, sat back and watched his predominately new team workout last week just as he did in 2014 during his inaugural season with the Lady Techsters.

That doesn’t mean Summitt and his coaching staff haven’t been hit with obstacles when dealing with a group of six newcomers.

Speaking of prepping for the NCAA season: 

The Gamecocks have been conditioning on and off the court in preparation for the season.

“Today was very important,” said USC sports performance coach Katie Fowler, who recently joined the program after serving in a similar capacity at Maryland. “We’ve been working a lot on our speed work. They’re tapering down a bit this week.”

The Gamecocks, who advanced to the Women’s Final Four last season and were ranked No. 1 in the nation for several weeks, are determined not to be one-hit wonders and are dedicated to improving.

Liz, Liz, Liz. Don’t call a lawyer. Grow up and decide if basketball is what you want.

WHEN did that happen?

When did we collectively decide to reward bad behaviour?

When did it become OK for sport stars to be petulant, cloaked from reality and allowed to bask in their own sense of entitlement unchallenged?

When did the media and the public become so fearful of upsetting the delicate young geniuses who dot our sporting landscape that we stopped calling an act of self-indulgence what it is?

I love Aussie basketballer Liz Cambage, even though what I’m about to say will cost me contact for a time.

Finally, as an educator who loves sports and respects the hell out of classroom teachers, I’ve been wanting to do something like this for YEARS! (And REALLY cranky that I can’t embed the dang video. I’ve tried and it just won’t let me.)

Key and Peele: Education Center

As an AAU coach once told me, “If parents cared as much about their child’s teachers as they do about why I put the team in a zone or man-to-man-defense, imagine what would happen to education.”

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in this trade (The Dream’s Erika de Souza to Chicago. They get Damiris Dantas and rookie Reshanda Gray from Minnesota and Lynx’ first-round pick in 2016 WNBA Draft. Chicago sends Sylvia Fowles and the rights to its own 2016 second-round pick to Minnesota – and no, the Lynx won’t play the Sky until (if) the playoffs), take some time to watch the replay of the US-Russia U19 game. Really fun to watch.

A few ASG articles hanging about:

Schimmell Ellectric in 2nd WNBA All-Star Game. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one listening to the ASG play-by-play wondering, “but, does Shoni’s game translate to the pros? It takes flash and fitness, kiddo.

With The All-Star Game On The Line, Maya Moore Found Another Level

At the end of last year’s WNBA All-Star Game — a “shootout” in the desert that the East team won in overtime over the West at Phoenix — Maya Moore appeared a bit irritated.

Not truly mad, mind you. But it was clear that even a so-called meaningless exhibition wasn’t entirely meaningless for Moore. The Minnesota star already has two WNBA titles and a league MVP award, while just in her fifth season as a pro. Bottom line: She always plays to win. Maybe if she was playing some 5-year-old in Candy Land, she might throw the game to the kid. But … don’t necessarily count on that.

Sefko: Why WNBA has never been stronger as league enters Dallas market

Back in the spring of 1996, “We got next” became a reality.

That was the catchphrase when the NBA board of governors approved the concept of the WNBA. The league was a leap of faith that had to be nursed through some tough times, yet has emerged as a legitimate force in the sporting world in less than two decades of existence.

It has become relevant, when many thought it couldn’t.

What is next for Tamika Catchings after an amazing WNBA career?

Doug focuses on what’s next in the WNBA:

The sprint to the playoffs and the WNBA championship will most likely hinge on which team can stay the healthiest. Minnesota is leading the Western Conference right now, but the Lynx are without two of their three All-Stars as Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus are sidelined with injuries.

Whalen, who hurt her eye last week, should be back soon. Augustus is out until mid-August while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery.

I guess it’s just as well that Liz stayed away from Tulsa: Cambage ruled out of Australia squad after skipping camp

Liz Cambage has been ruled out Australia’s squad for games against Japan and the Oceania Olympic qualifying series against New Zealand after skipping a training camp to attend a music festival.

Cambage had been recalled to national duties last week following nine months on the sidelines after rupturing her Achilles, but Basketball Australia issued a brief statement late Sunday saying the 23-year-old center had ”made herself unavailable” for the games against Japan starting Monday and had been scrubbed from the Oceania championships as a consequence.

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Quigley, other WNBA players to miss games for Euro tourney

New York’s Epiphanny Prince (Russia), Los Angeles’ Kristi Toliver (Slovakia), Indiana’s Shavonte Zellous (Croatia), Atlanta’s Celine Dumerc (France) and Minnesota’s Anna Cruz (Spain) are among those who will miss WNBA games and face potential fines from their teams or the league.

The winner of the Eurobasket earns a berth in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“Yeah, it would be cool to play in the Olympics,” Quigley said. “We’ll see.”

Speaking of Zellous: Zellous wins arbitration case against Turkish club

From Indy: Miss Basketball. National champion at Purdue. WNBA player. Successful college coach. And now Stephanie White is leading the Indiana Fever.

Nearly every one of Stephanie White’s early coaching stops played out void of fanfare.

They include one season as an assistant for the Ball State University women’s basketball team, the following winter in the same position at Kansas State and two years at the University of Toledo.

Have whistle, will travel.

Congrats! Basketball Star Tamika Catchings Named Latest Laureus Ambassador

From Illinois: Who will step up for Sky if Fowles doesn’t play? and As superstar Sylvia Fowles demands a trade, Sky see no limit in WNBA season

From New York: Wiggins feels sense of purpose with Liberty and Bill Laimbeer: ‘My time has passed’ for NBA job

From Georgia: McCoughtry now ‘living my own life’

If I said this were a story about a WNBA player who talked about doing yoga and feeling refreshed … who said she is learning to appreciate sunsets, cookouts and walks in the park … who uses terms like “relaxed” and “lightness” to describe her current state of mind … whom might you guess it was?

Probably not Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry, right? While being one of the best women’s basketball players in the world the last several years, McCoughtry often has been paired with adjectives like complex, intense, inscrutable, mercurial and moody.

The lights are on Maya Moore. She knows it. Maybe it explains why she speaks in measured and balanced tones when challenging colleagues, reporters, and as usual, herself.

The reigning WNBA Most Valuable Player and dazzling 25-year-old Minnesota Lynx veteran guard wrote an in-depth first-person story for the Players Tribune magazine in April about the lack of visibility for the league, overseas struggles and women’s basketball in general.

In addition to bringing the issues out in the open, Moore offered solutions and suggestions for enhancing the sport during an exclusive discussion with Womhoops Guru (this blog, not the Guru himself) on Wednesday when the Lynx played the Mystics in a preseason game.

A caring, personable ambassador, Moore’s motivation was simple.
From Connecticut: Connecticut Sun’s Alyssa Thomas showing off versatility (Which they’ll need, considering all the injuries they’re having.)
In NCAA news, the transfers have landed.
It’s Villanova for former Vol Jannah Turner.
it’s South Carolina for former Yellow Jacket Kaela Davis.
It’s Texas for former Commodore Khaleann Caron-Goudreau.
It’s Oakland for former Blue Demon ShaKeya Graves.

The Savannah State University football program and women’s basketball program have been ruled ineligible for postseason play because of a failure to meet minimum APR scores, according to the NCAA.

In addition, the SSU women’s softball team is facing level one APR penalties and the men’s and the women’s basketball team is facing level two APR penalties while the football team also faces level three APR penalties.

It’s pretty common to hear that Title IX creates a huge financial burden on colleges such that even if a school is lucky enough to be making millions on football or basketball, federal law mandates that a certain amount be spent on women’s sports. Leaving aside how this story implies schools are being forced to support women’s sports against their will (which I hope isn’t true), it also misses the fact that in some circumstances, women’s sports make money.

Yes, so-called “non-revenue” can be profitable. This isn’t saying they always are, because the conditions need to be right; but when they are, a school that is out of compliance with Title IX because it doesn’t have enough women participants could actually add a sport and increase its net cash in-flow after expenditures. Seems counter-intuitive, right? But it’s true. Come join me on a short, economic journey through arithmetic-land, where the only bias is a strong belief that when facts and common sense collide, facts win.

BTW: Joanne is now only  $265 away from her Kickstarter goal of $2500 to support the publishing of “Finding a Way to Play.” That means if 18 WHB readers give $15, not only will they get a free, autographed copy of the book, but they’ll help her reach her goal.
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Come on, folks – love the game? Love its history. Donate.

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One of the hardest working, toughest-lucking players we’ve ever had the pleasure to watch. Remember this from 2001? Even Adversity Couldn’t Stop Douglas’s March to Final

Last Monday, Katie Douglas scored only 2 points in the first half of Purdue’s Mideast Regional final against Xavier. But Douglas did score 17 points in the second half, helping the Boilermakers advance to the Final Four. That was just Katie, most of her teammates thought with reverence, rebounding again. 

But Kelly Komara, a junior guard, knew the real reason. So did Pam Stackhouse, a Purdue assistant. They saw Douglas’s gray-blue eyes reflect the many memories that were shaking her game. March 26 would have been her mother’s 54th birthday. 

”She was a little emotional, and maybe she went out and played a little too hard,” Stackhouse said. 

Douglas’s mother, Karen, died last April 28 of breast cancer. Her father, Ken, had died three years earlier of pancreatic cancer. A teammate, Tiffany Young, was killed by a drunken driver in July 1999, the month before Douglas learned of her mother’s diagnosis.

From David Woods at the Indy Star:

She became the greatest female pro basketball player to come out of Indiana. But fans will no longer be entertained by her fiery persona, left-handed 3-pointers, slashes to the rim or clever steals.

Katie Douglas, who turns 36 Thursday, announced her retirement Friday after a 14-year WNBA career. The Indianapolis native had intended to play for the Connecticut Sun this summer but cited lingering back problems for her decision.

A hint (pre-retirement) of her future from Nathan Baird at the Lafayette Journal & Courier

“I would love to coach,” Douglas said. “I love the business side of basketball. I love the (general manager) perspective. I love creating a roster and seeing the development of that. I love various aspects and love being involved in the game. There are various things I need to kind of pursue and test and see what I’m passionate about.”

Viva Las Vegas! Bruno and USA Basketball Women’s National Team in Las Vegas

Speaking of US National Team members, did you catch this piece by Maya: (In)visibility:

After four years and two national championships, I went No. 1 in the 2011 WNBA Draft. That’s when I felt the drop.

There’s this unnatural break in exposure for the highest level of women’s basketball in the world. Wait, what happened here? That’s a question we as WNBA players ask ourselves. We go from amazing AAU experiences to high school All-American games to the excitement and significant platform of the collegiate level to … this. All of that visibility to … this. Less coverage. Empty seats. Fewer eyeballs. In college, your coaches tell you to stay focused on your team and the game — not the media attention. But you know you’re on national television. You know people are following you. You can feel the excitement. And then as a professional, all of that momentum, all of that passion, all of that support — the ball of momentum is deflating before my eyes

I went No. 1 in the 2011 WNBA Draft. That’s when I felt the drop.

Gone.

 Speaking of Minnesota – does the oft-injured Big Syl wanna go there?

“Prepare for the worst and hope for the best” is an age-old management strategy, but not exactly the mindset a team wants to have going into a season. The Chicago Sky, though, have had to operate in this mode since last fall in regard to center Sylvia Fowles.

And now it’s getting closer to the time to drop the “hoping for the best” part. Fowles doesn’t appear to have a future with the Sky, who drafted her No. 2 overall in 2008 out of LSU, unless there is a big turn of events.

The Sky have been readying for some time to move on without Fowles, even though that’s not what they would prefer. Fowles declined a contract offer last September, and negotiations — if you want to call them that — continued sporadically.

Speaking of the upcoming season: Dishin & Swishin 4/30/15 Podcast: Tulsa looks to Shock the Western Conference in 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Immaculata, Queens College to play

Madison Square Garden will honor the first women’s basketball game played at the arena 40 years ago with a rematch between Queens College and Immaculata as part of the Maggie Dixon Classic on Jan. 4.

Immaculata won the inaugural game 65-61 in front of 12,000 fans on Feb. 22, 1975.

“It was a defining moment for women’s basketball and for women in general,” said former WNBA president Donna Orender, who played for Queens College. “I can still hear Helen Reddy singing ‘I am woman hear me roar’ the crowd was screaming and tears rolled down my cheeks on the layup line. I was a freshman and so proud matching up against the more preeminent guard in the country — Marianne Crawford Stanley. It is so important we celebrate our heritage and history.”

Check out this program from the March, 1973 AIAW National Championship pitting Cathy Rush v. Lucille Kyvallos. Some teams just have a coach, some have a coahce and manager, and SOME have a coach, manager and…. chaperone!

From Newday, 2004″  – ‘We were pioneers’

A women’s college basketball team regularly packing gyms,getting media coverage and making trips to Madison Square Garden. If you’re thinking of the women’s teams from the universities of Connecticut or Tennessee – who are in the Final Four tonight in New Orleans – you’re wrong.

The school was Queens College, and the years were 1968- 1980. During this period, the Lady Knights ruled New York and became the first women’s team from the city to compete in a national tournament. They were ranked in the top 10 nationwide from 1972-1978 – finishing second in 1973 – and in 1975 became the first women’s team to play at the Garden.

FYI, considering the USA WNT is doin’ the FIBA thing: Kyvallos was U.S. team’s head coach at the 1977 World University Games and Rush coached the 1975 USA Basketball Pan American team.

Speakin’ of the FIBA thing – I got my visa and so do DT and Candice. They weren’t much help against the Aussies but, luckily, other folks stepped up.

From (I’m guessing) Doug: 

Candace Parker is out. So is Sylvia Fowles. Brittney Griner is questionable. And now Elena Delle Donne is a no-go.

With a series of injuries to several post players on the U.S. women’s national basketball team, the heavily favored Americans have suddenly been cut down to size as they prepare for the world championship that begin Sept. 27 in Istanbul.

It’s a new challenge for USA Basketball. Veteran post play has long been a strong suit, from Anne Donovan to Yolanda Griffith and Lisa Leslie.

Might be some bad news for Liz and the Opals.

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between the WNBA and college season.

After defeating Canada by repeating the form that earned the team Olympic Gold in London – an out-of-sorts first half followed by a defensive clamp-down second half – the Senior National team has set its sights on seeing the sights in France. Oh, and yah, there’s some basketball goin’ on.

They’ll play game in France (I believe ESPN3 will carry them)

Sept. 19th v. Australia – 11:30 EST
Sept. 20th v. China- 11:30 EST
Sept. 21st v. France – 10:00 EST

Then to the Czech Republic to play the Czech Republic on the 23rd.

By the way, Big Syl is out, BG (eye) might be out, and EDD (back) might be out…

Speaking of bigs: Moore Has Taken Stewart Under Her Wing

“I see myself in Stewie so much,’’ Moore said. “The things Coach (Geno Auriemma) yells at her for are the same things he yelled at me for. The position she’s in at a young age leading the team and playing so well and being so talented in different areas of the floor, I think we’re very similar in those ways. And her attitude and her unselfishness are all very similar. I’ve definitely enjoyed spending more time with her now than I probably ever have on the court.

From Lisa Altobelli at USA Basketball: Sue Bird Is a Leader On And Off The Court for USA Basketball

Sue Bird is the oldest member of the USA Basketball Women’s National Team. Let me just say that again with emphasis. Sue Bird is now the eldest stateswoman on the U.S. squad.

When did this happen? Well chronologically she is 33, of course. But wasn’t it just yesterday that she was youngest? Coming in at age 22 for the 2002 FIBA World Championship with a perfect ponytail flying while she dished rocket passes to Lisa Leslie as Dawn Staley and Sheryl Swoopes took her under their wing?

Check out “Sue Bird – Through the Years.”

The future is now: New Leadership Emerging in Run-Up to World Championship

“In 2010 and 2012, I was soaking in everything I could from some of the vets that had been around,” says Maya Moore, now 25, who was the youngest member of the U.S. teams that won gold at the 2010 FIBA Worlds and the 2012 London Olympics. “And now being one of the more experienced on the national team, it just was kind of just natural to step up, and hop in, and go first and try to lead by example.”

The FIBA tournament will be broadcast on ESPN3

Saturday, 9/27 USA – China 2:30pm ET
Sunday 9/28 USA – Serbia 2:30 ET
Tuesday 9/30 USA – Angola 2:30 ET

Oct. 1 – Quarterfinal Play-In Games
Oct. 3 – Quarterfinals
Oct. 4 – Semifinals
Oct. 5 – Finals

Over at Swish Appeal, James Bowman asks: How does Team USA rank against the other international teams?

You might have been one of those who watched the game between the United States and Canada women’s basketball teams in person at Bridgeport, or saw it on television.  If you’re reading this website you’ve probably read about it.

But did you know anything about the Khalipski Cup?  While the United States was taking care of Canada four national teams — Spain, China, Turkey and host Belarus — had a mini-tournament of their own.  All four of those teams are FIBA tournament teams and they were preparing in the same way that the United States prepared.

Yah, the W season is over, but there’s still time to reminisce.

Here are espnW’s Top 10 moments.

Mechelle has some final thoughts on the season:

The WNBA’s 2014 season is in the books, and you can paint it purple and orange. The Phoenix Mercury moved into the favorite’s position early in the summer, and stayed there right through the end. Here are our final 2014 WNBA power rankings as we evaluate the season and take a very quick look at what 2015 might entail.

Speaking of purple and orange, here’s the Merc’s Championship Run video.

In other news:

I really have no patience for this crap: David Butcher, Pickerington North girls basketball coach, was charged with drunken driving

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Sylvia Fowles: 8-20
Epiphanny Prince: 3-11
Allie Quigley: 4-15
Elena Delle Donne: 10 minutes

Add a little double-double from Diana Taurasi, and the Merc say

31587

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you’ll find this:

Kent:

In retrospect, it was a bomb that reverberated all through a suddenly loud US Airways Center.

It was as improbable as it was incredible. And, maybe, it was the key blow in a game that, up to that point, had been a gutty example of give and take.

For at least this season, the Lynx’s reign is over, thanks to the Phoenix Mercury in a 96-78 victory Tuesday.

Tyler: 

“What can I say? There’s no player I’d rather have on my team,” Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said.

“To me, she’s the best player in the world.”

Mechelle: 

But those 2 seconds turned out to be too much time to give Taurasi. She swished the 50-footer, turning the Mercury’s lead to five points and permanently shifting the momentum.

“It’s a punch,” Minnesota’s Maya Moore acknowledged of Taurasi’s tape-measure 3-pointer. “We’ve overcome so much this season, and we always believe we have it in us to overcome runs. But we just didn’t have enough this time.”

Next!

From the .com: Fever vs. Sky: How to Survive the Eastern Conference Finals

After Chicago completed yet another incredible comeback in double-overtime on Monday to stay alive in the WNBA Playoffs, there’s no doubt this Sky is team is one that knows how to survive despite the myriad of injuries and illnesses it suffered throughout the season. In order to win the WNBA Eastern Conference Finals, however, just “surviving” might not be enough.

The Fever are a tough and driven team that appears to be in fine health. The team boasts a legendary leader in Tamika Catchings and her army of heavy-hitting teammates like Shavonte Zellous, Erlana Larkins and Briann January.

Here are the keys for both teams to survive and advance:

Alison: All on the line for the Chicago Sky, Elena Delle Donne

Michelle: Can Fowles lead Sky to Finals?  With Elena Delle Donne nursing back injury, Chicago’s center is Game 3 X factor

If the Sky can get from “Big Syl” what they got on Monday — a near flawless offensive game and shot-altering defense at the other end — Chicago could very well be making its first trip to the league championship series.

But if the Fever can contain Fowles better than they did in Game 2, knock her around, move her out of the deepest regions of the paint and render her even slightly less effective, they stand a good chance to move on to their second trip to the WNBA Finals in the past three years.

Scott: Indiana Fever ready for Chicago Sky in conference finals

“I think everybody wants to win for Lin. She has been just such an amazing inspiration to everybody that has played for her, everyone who has worked for her, and so we certainly want to send her out on top,” said White.

Phillip:

They are one win away from the WNBA finals, a position few Sky players expected to be in after a season filled with a litany of misfortune, a losing record and fourth-place finish.

“We all feel like we’ve got nothing to lose,” Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot said before Wednesday’s decisive game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Fever.

Phillip #2: Delle Donne’s back latest woe for Sky

Realizing her own limitations, Delle Donne suggested coach Pokey Chatman make her primarily a decoy, sometimes a stationary one, during her 39 minutes of playing time.

The second-year forward correctly figured the Fever would still respect her scoring threat by putting more than one defender on her and by forcing their best defender, Tamika Catchings, to stick with her outside, thereby opening space for other Sky players on offense.

David: Undersized but not overlooked, 6-1 Erlana Larkins vs. 6-6 Sylvia Fowles is key matchup

Erlana Larkins is five inches shorter than Sylvia Fowles and owns a correspondingly smaller resume. But the 6-1 Indiana Fever center, who was out of the WNBA 30 months ago, finds consolation when she reflects on her career.

“I’m not an All-Star,” Larkins said, “but I have something they can’t take away from me, and that’s a championship ring.”

Scott:

Heading into this 2014 WNBA season, the Indiana Fever weren’t expected to rule the Eastern Conference. I thought there was a high probably that they might make some considerable changes. The future appeared to be the vision rather than the present as the team drafted Natalie Achonwa, who would miss the season after tearing her left ACL while at Notre Dame, at No. 9 – their second first-round pick.

Oh, and a few weeks later, sharpshooter Jeanette Pohlen sustained a torn left Achilles. Then, a back injury sidelined leader Tamika Catchings for a substantial part of the shortened season (18 games).

A rebuilding year? Definitely not.

 

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“Now, That’s More Like It”

So this was the game we were waiting for between Phoenix and Minnesota. The one that felt like a collection of future Hall of Famers trying to out-do each other. The one that had the fans on their feet, screaming their heads off, while the folks watching on television probably felt like they were right there in the thick of it, too.

This is what we thought these Western Conference finals — between the two best teams in the WNBA — would be like. That Friday’s game really wasn’t like that is a tribute to the Mercury. That Sunday’s game did live up to that billing was a tribute to both teams.

Writes Tim Leighton of Twin Cities:

There it sat Sunday, in the middle of the Minnesota Lynx locker-room floor. No player, coach or member of team management got too close for fear of disturbing its aura. The Lynx’s WNBA championship trophy, with its three silver spires holding a basketball, stood as a simple reminder that the Lynx aren’t ready yet to call it a season.

Tom Powers offers this nice turn of phrase:

Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus joined Moore in forming a deadly Game 2 Bermuda Triangle. The trio combined for 72 of the 82 Lynx points. As Reeve often notes, it’s mostly about the stars come playoff time. And the Lynx had all three of theirs shining brightly.

“We always say great players make great plays,” said Augustus. “And you saw that through the night. Great players made great plays for us.”

Kent Youngblood at the Star Tribune:

Sunday, midday, the Lynx players were in the locker room for a film session. Coach Cheryl Reeve walked in clutching the 2013 WNBA championship trophy.

She walked over and had Janel McCarville pull on the trophy. Reeve let go, easily. “We can do that,” she said. Then Monica Wright gave it a tug. Reeve held on a little longer, let go. “We can do that,” she said. Then she went to Rebekkah Brunson. Only this time, Reeve took hold with two hands and tore it away.

“It’s ours,” she said. “And we’re not letting it out of here.’’

And then Reeve put the trophy on the floor in the middle of the room and walked out.

Message received.

From Nate Sandell, “special” for the AZ Central folks: 

“Their defense picked up and we stood around,” said Mercury coach Sandy Brondello. “We’re a team built on ball movement, but somebody would get the ball and everybody would stand and just have a look at that person trying to make the play.”

It was a dramatic reversal for the Mercury, whio had proved to be better team for the first seven quarters of the series.

 

From the other Nate: Seimone Augustus caps off Minnesota comeback to win Game 2, 82-77

All-Stars Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen made big plays throughout Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, but fellow Olympian Seimone Augustus was ultimately the hero of the Minnesota Lynx’s 82-77 win over the Phoenix Mercury.

With the game tied at 75 apiece, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve called an out-of-bounds play that had Augustus follow Moore around a screen to clear space for a mid-range jumper and Augustus not only converted the shot but also drew a foul for a three point play that put the Lynx up for good.

 

But the Lynx wouldn’t even have been in position to win had it not been for the play of Moore and Whalen prior to that moment.

From Canis Hoopus’ John Meyer: 

Midway through the third quarter, Maya Moore had a look on her face that said it all. Not today, Phoenix. Not today.

Moore scored a game-high 32 points, including 19 second half points, to help keep the Lynx title hopes alive this afternoon at the Target Center. The Lynx struggled earlier on – shooting 14.3 percent in the first quarter (2-for-14) – and faced an uphill climb trailing 22-9 entering the second quarter. But there was no quit in this squad.

Awwwwww….Little League star Mo’Ne Davis adds Game 2 visit to dream summer

In the “other” series, Indiana Fever rookie Maggie Lucas isn’t easing off throttle now

It was mere minutes after the Indiana Fever had beaten the Chicago Sky 77-70 to open the best-of-three Eastern Conference finals Saturday night. Maggie Lucas could have been reflecting on the moment, considering how necessary her eight points turned out to be for the Fever.

Instead, she was in the locker room afterward, lifting weights. She is a “gym rat,” coach Lin Dunn said. First one to arrive, last one to leave.

Michelle writes: Sky’s fate rests with shooting stars – Chicago needs to solve Indiana Fever defense in Game 2

Indiana, led by the defensive stalwart Tamika Catchings, made it tough for Delle Donne to get in any offensive flow. The 12 shots she took were the fewest she had taken in a postseason game.

“The first thing is trying to figure out a way to keep the ball out of her hands,” Catchings said. “Not just me, individually, but as a team. We tried to take the ball out of her hands, make it difficult for her to catch it, and when she did, we brought different people out.

“We can do a lot better too.”

Delle Donne and the Sky are thinking in the same terms.

From Brian Sandalow at the Sun-Times: Sky still trying to figure out Fever

While the Sky aren’t fixating on their history with the Fever, they’re aware of it.

“I think everybody kind of thinks about it,” guard Courtney Vandersloot said. “It’s not something that we really talk about a lot, but it’s something that I’m sure we all think about. We know who we’ve lost to in the past.

Philip Hersh at the Tribune writes: 

It’s pretty easy to see why the Fever won Saturday night’s opening game of the WNBA Eastern Conference finals 77-70.

Indiana caught the Sky with their guard(s) down.

Indiana’s starting backcourt of Briann January and Shavonte Zellous was simply too much, with its outside shooting and dribble penetration shredding the Sky’s defense.

The Fever guards utterly outplayed starting guards Epiphanny Prince and Courtney Vandersloot, both ineffective for the second game in a row.

In the Dishin & Swishin 08/29/14 Podcast: WNBA Eastern Conference Finals coaches Lin Dunn & Pokey Chatman talk about the playoffs

Nate reflects back: 

You can never force the circumstances that create a classic moment in sports, which is part of the very reason we tune in and watch instead of just ignoring games with long odds or abandoning teams that seemingly have no hope.

The best moments are those that somehow manage to define the odds, whether evolving or preceding the first tip and the 2014 WNBA Playoffs has already produced a classic in the first round.

What might be hard to appreciate in retrospect about the Chicago Sky’s dramatic 81-80 win in Game 3 against the Atlanta Dream is that it really seemed like that game was over long before the fourth quarter began.

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Summer’s here and the time is right for Chillin’ in the street!

Chillin’ in Chicago (chillin’ in the street) (Thanks Sasha, Sloot, Big Syl and Q)

Down in New Orleans (chillin’ in the street)

In New York City (Thanks Katie and Barb!)

From USA Today: 

As of July 3, the “Cold Water Challenge” has accumulated more than 35,000 tweets, 142,000 retweets and 92 million twitter reaches, according to the Yow Foundation’s executive director, Sue Donohoe.

“We never knew how this would just take off,” said Donohoe

The challenge’s social media footprint has evolved to include “#coldwaterchallenge” and “#icebucketchallenge” thanks to the involvement of prominent sports figures.

In particular, the challenge has caught on among professional golfers.

Fresh off her win in the U.S. Open, Michelle Wie brought major publicity to the effort when she doused herself on June 30, and then challenged reigning British Open champion Stacy Lewis, who answered the call.

From Mechelle: How #Chillin4Charity caught fire – Arizona coach ignites hoops nation with cause benefiting Kay Yow Cancer Fund

Start with a big vat of “I dare you.” Add a huge helping of “for a great cause.” Sprinkle in “humorous discomfort.” Serve up on social media.

What do you get? #Chillin4Charity, which continues to spread goose bumps and goodwill throughout the nation’s women’s basketball community.

The movement, which is also known as the “Cold Water Challenge” and was started by Arizona coach Niya Butts and her staff in June, is raising money for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. But it’s also done something else.

“It’s united a lot of us,” Butts said of her fellow coaches. “We all compete against each other in recruiting and the games, but we also have this big monster that has impacted all of our lives.

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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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Chicago’s airport: Free Internets!!

On my way to Tucson to join friends and, I kid you not, hunt down a blue-footed booby. No surprise, he doesn’t belong in Arizona. (And no, I’m not making a special trip, this is just a getaway.)

Speaking of Chicago: WOOT! WOOT! (Cue the Manilow and welcome to the Playoffs! (Yes, it’s their first time.)

Center Sylvia Fowles, whose six-year tenure is the longest on the Sky, exchanged a high-10 with 7-foot-1 assistant coach Tree Rollins. Then she joined her teammates at the center circle to salute a crowd announced at 5,888, which greeted them with a sustained standing ovation.

Writes Andrew Lovell at ESPN: Sylvia Fowles lifts Sky to new heights

The first time Sylvia Fowles met Elena Delle Donne, she nearly suffocated the rookie.

 Not purposely, of course. Fowles’ bear hug just packed some serious power. Whether it was borne of excitement at the addition of the talented forward from Delaware, or eagerness to start the most anticipated season in Chicago Sky history, neither is sure.

But even before their introduction, Fowles knew on April 16, one day after the team made Delle Donne the No. 2 overall WNBA draft pick, that they were in for a special season in the Windy City.

Mystics are smelling the playoffs, and Dream are hoping their road trips end soon.

Who knows if the playoffs are a realistic dream for the Shock, but that doesn’t mean they’re not going to try. And, btw,  with their 9th win, they’ve matched the team’s highest victory total in their four seasons in Tulsa.

After a fun first quarter, Seattle just did what they do to Phoenix: beat’em.

Good, because it was stupid and small: Bill Laimbeer fined by WNBA for saying player should ‘get hurt’

Thank you: Westover girls’ basketball coach Gene Arrington retires

Veteran Westover High girls’ basketball coach Gene Arrington, who guided his team to the state 4-A title in 2008, has announced his retirement. Athletic director John Green said assistant coach Michael Ferguson will take over the team as interim coach for this season.

A little history from Wenatchee: YMCA basketball teams in the 1920s

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This time it was the .comCurse (Candace Parker’s Road to RedemptionParker is in midst of her prime playing some of the best basketball of her career right now) and Jayda (Welcome to hot seat Candace Parker; your must-win title push starts now.):

The Sparks, starting a season-high five-game road trip, were without All-Star Game MVP Candace Parker due to an injured right wrist. Her status for Los Angeles’ next game, Sunday at Washington, was uncertain.

Parker’s absence shouldn’t diminish the Shock’s win, nor Cambage’s career high 28pts. 

“It’s good to beat a good team,” Tulsa coach Gary Kloppenburg said. “We really want to push for the playoffs and we know we’ve gotta beat some of these elite teams to get there.”

Guess Diggins got her birthday wish.

The Laurel was in Minny: 

She was asked about a pre-season survey of league general managers, who picked Phoenix to finish first in the Western Conference, followed by Los Angeles and Minnesota. The Lynx have the league’s best record (14-3) at mid-season. “Maybe there were some bright, shiny toys in the window that got people excited,” she said, referring, perhaps, to highly-touted rookies like Skylar Diggins and Brittney Griner. “But I can’t imagine anyone affiliated with the WNBA considering the Lynx an afterthought.”

The Lynx confirmed their non-afterthought status by sluggishly starting and then slugging the stubborn Stars, 85-63.

“Everybody says, ‘What do you have to work on?’ ” Reeve said, acting as though the question was preposterous. “There is a ton we have to work on. … We played in spurts. We feel we have to play better, for sure. But in the end, statistically, we had a pretty good game.’’

Guess so.

In Chicago, Big Syl was…well, BIG as her 10-14 (32pt-15rebs) shooting made up for Prince & Cash’s double-double (3-13) carried the Sky over the Mystics.

“You know, she’s a beast,” Chicago coach Pokey Chatman said. “I call that her beast mode. … Look at her toenail polish when you go in there (to the locker room). She’s got that Incredible Hulk Green on.”

“Pack Up Your Basketballs In Your Old Kit Bag:” USA Basketball Announces Plan To Relocate Headquarters To Tempe, Arizona

USA Basketball today officially announced that it has agreed to relocate to Tempe, Arizona, as part of a $350 million development project. USA Place, LLC, has been selected to develop a new national headquarters and training center for USA Basketball on a 10.5-acre site located next to Arizona State University’s Tempe campus on land owned by ASU at the southeast corner of Mill Avenue and University Drive.

I can see the financial lure. Wonder how the staff will feel — and what impact it will have on the athletes (bball and other sports).

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she’s not on my team. *sigh*

Yes, perhaps the “Three to See” has become the “Two to View”, but wow, how much fun is it to watch Elena Delle Donne play. (And congrats to her, CAA Scholar Athlete of the Year) Granted, the Lib had no one who could guard her. Katie? Nice try — she gives up inches and years. Plennette? Delightfully physical, which EDD handled, but nowhere quick enough. The kid plays in control, is ACTUALLY a guard in a forward’s body, and has pogo-stick-like elevation skills.

Pokey plays EVERYone, and yesterday, they all seemed able to play. Who knows if it’s chemistry, coaching or basketball IQ, but the team looks so in sync with each other. It’s as if everyone’s field of vision/sense is open to their teammates and they can all “sense” where each other are on the court. There was one moment where the Sky did lose their mind offensively, and if Pokey could have kicked badgers out of her toes, she would have.

Of note:

Big Sly was back on the court and, while she didn’t light up the scoreboard, her quick hands were in every passing lane.
Carolyn Swords: Since when did she become a reliable, nitty-gritty big?
Prince: Always interesting to watch her battle her ego when she goes up against Cappie.
Sloot: Just as I said, “You know, if Courtney ever rediscovers her shot, then….” Eureka, guess what happened?
Blue Hens fans: In da house, courtesy of Amtrak and a convoy of buses.

The best Liberty moment? When they were showing “When they were a baby” photos, and there was golden lab puppy Maddie with a crown on his head…. 

I don’t know what happened during the game, and I don’t have the cast-iron metaphorical cojones to walk up to Katie Smith and ask her these things, but she was hot under the collar like nobody’s business. I thought someone on Chicago said something about her mother or something. Her head was not in the game the rest of the way. She couldn’t find her rhythm shooting, and her defense was below her average. I don’t expect her to be a total game-changer anymore, but we could have used her to keep the game within striking distance. Leilani Mitchell was pesky, but she couldn’t check Vandersloot sufficiently, which meant that defensively she was reduced to doubling down and trying to make things happen with disruption. As you might be able to discern from the score, this was not successful. Avery Warley rebounded well, but I think everyone involved knew that she was out of her depth. Kara Braxton muscled a little bit, but this was not a smart Kara day. This was a very dumb Kara day. If Kelsey can’t get easy shots to fall and Kara’s having a very dumb day, things are not going to end well in the post for the Liberty. Cappie Pondexter showed a spark of life in the second quarter, and she and Kamiko teamed up for one beautiful defensive sequence that resulted in a shot clock violation, but too much of the offense was flowing into her and then stagnating. It was Cappie against the world, just like it was under Whiz, and that’s not a scheme for long-term success. She took a lot of good shots, but she took even more bad shots.

And yes, that was the Lib’s “best” moment. The team is out of sorts, Bill looks like he’s out of options, and NY could easily slide out of the playoffs, ’cause CT can still get healthy.

Meanwhile, in Minny, the on-again, off-again buzz saw that is the Lynx was on again and, as a result, Phoenix was sliced and diced. The “damn it” news is that Augustus left the building on crutches, meaning it’s likely she’s a no-show for the game against the Dream.

The Q is back, and Mike *breathes a sign of relief* T is the winningest. Nice 212-congrats.

No, Tina didn’t “officially” cost the Sun a win, but her ridiculous melt down/two Ts effectively stopped Connecticut’s momentum and hamstrung their comeback effort against Indiana.

Yah, we thought this is what it was that took Becky down, but we like to delude ourselves sometimes: Frackin’ ACLs.

Doug at the AP recycles the “Expand the Roster” story.

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Or, in this case, Chicago’s peril, ’cause yes, the WHBCurse seems to have come to roost in Chicago as the Sky lost Big Syl, then lost a lead, and then lost the game to the Storm. Oops.

With Sky center Sylvia Fowles out with an ankle injury, the Storm could put a lot of focus on defending Delle Donne. Seattle did that well, holding her to a season-low 12 points on 3-of-13 shooting. Sky guard Epiphanny Prince also felt the effects of the Seattle defense, going 3 of 9 from the field for 12 points.

The Storm were able to keep Delle Donne and Prince off-balance from the field without sending them to the line all that much. That was key, as they are exceptional free throw shooters, both better than 90 percent from the line this season.

Home sweet home, huh? While coach Ross is lobbying for all the playoff games to be held at Staples, (tsk, tsk LA Times) the Lynx are wondering “Wha Happen?”

14 NY turnovers lead to 21 Merc points…. and another Phoenix win.

For much of the Mercury’s season, it’s been Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner. Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi.

The talk has been about them off the court. So has the focus on it.

But don’t forget, the Mercury also have Candice Dupree, a three-time All-Star and DeWanna Bonner, who was second in the league in scoring last season.

The two made sure people remembered Tuesday night, scoring 20 points and grabbing seven rebounds apiece, in leading the Mercury to a 94-87 win over the New York Liberty.

A poor shooting Tulsa (even with Liz back) was just what the doctor ordered for Connecticut.

Any inspiration is happily accepted amid a losing streak, a three-week, four-game odyssey for the Connecticut Sun by Tuesday night. Which is why even though Sydney Carter, the little guard who did, posted more impressive numbers, her teammates chose to focus on the “two” under the category of “blocked shots.”

“Two blocked shots for Sydney Carter!” injured Sun guard Renee Montgomery said in the relieved locker room, perusing the post game stat sheet. “Dead serious.”

And, in case you didn’t catch my sarcasm yesterday: From the Day’s Mike DiMauro: ‘Three to See’ is generating interest among WNBA’s fans

A more cynical sort might dismiss Connecticut’s distaste for “three to see” by reasoning that none of the three hail from UConn, thus creating haughty disapproval. Maybe others here who have obtained a more global view could tolerate “three to see” if it didn’t have a flavor-of-the-month feel and if similar effort went into marketing those who came before them (Diana, Maya, Candace, etc.)

No matter our opinion about the “three to see,” though, we here in our state should be the first to admit that any marketing plan that moves the needle, especially outside Connecticut, is good for the game we love.

So now we propose the following question:

What if “three to see” is actually working?

“To wit”, as the All-Star Voting early tallies comes in, look who’s leading: EDD

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Snap judgment: Don’t sleep on the Dream’s youngsters, Henry, Thomas and Bentley.

Snap judgment: It’s never to early to remind folks of Connecticut’s past bad habits: Road loses.

Snap judgment: Candace may still be a top candidate for league MVP (27pts, 20 rebounds, 4 blocks, 4 assists), but I’m guessing she’d trade that in a heartbeat for consistent scoring from Toliver and consistent distribution from Harding.

Snap judgment: Still sticking with my prediction for a playoff-less season for New York.

Snap judgment: All who agree, say “Yea”: Lynx appear miscast as WNBA’s afterthought. And yes, to l’Alien Richard’s tweet: In full flow, Mone/Moore is just a ridiculous wing combo. Cooper/Swoopes is gold standard, but this is your closest modern challenge

Snap judgment, two: It’s never to early to remind folks of Connecticut’s past bad habits: Road losses.

Snap judgment: Yes, I’m putting my money on Chicago in the Finals.

Snap judgment: Yup, the WHB curse is in full swing – sorry Atlanta youngsters…

Snap judgment: Yup, Corey’s seat in the Land of the Bun has got to be getting mighty toasty.

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“Fred.”

*snrtle* “…due to personal reasons.” *snrtle*

“Fred! Wake up!”

*snort* “HUH? What? Is the regular season over?”

“Not quite, Fred. You were having a post-Olympics nightmare. The regular season is almost done, though. Two teams fighting for a shot at the ping pong ba… I mean, playoffs.”

(Wipes eyes, stares at computer screen.) “Ah, Chicago and New York. I see the Sylvia-less Sky beat Minny.

“They sure did, Fred. Not a clue about what that means for their team, but it does tie’em with New York. What’s the schedule look like?”

“Well, Eth, looks like NY has the easiest path — and the tie breakers: Washington twice, at San Antonio and finishing up against Tulsa.”

(Both speak at once) “But you don’t ever want to over look Tulsa.”

(Laughs) “No, you sure don’t want to face my Coach of the Year. And Chicago?”

“The Sky’s looking like they need to be road warriors, Ethel: at Los Angeles, Phoenix and Seattle. Lucky them, they get Washington at home to finish up.”

“So, any predictions, Fred?”

“Ha. I may be an old dog, but you can teach me new tricks. I’ll save my words for Monday morning quarterbacking and my money for the Tulsa/NY tickets.”

“Until the final game, then.”

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what with Angel making up for lost time and Big Syl returning to form.

The question for both teams is: what happens next game? As Nate asks: WNBA Hollinger Power Rankings: What Difference Might Angel McCoughtry Make For The Atlanta Dream?

The story is: Sun lose! Sparks lose! 

From Richard: Atlanta’s conquering heroine returns, while Sparks are exposed again

It’ll be interesting to see how LA fares against Minny tonight. Not particularly interested in the Sun/Mystics game, though. You?

Mechelle celebrates a good news story: Alana Beard finds fresh start in L.A.

The Los Angeles Sparks have experienced back-to-back defeats. Boo-hoo. Alana Beard, even more so than the average WNBA veteran, is not going to be fazed by such setbacks. When you’ve lost two seasons during the prime of your career, rebounding from losing two games doesn’t seem like much of a challenge.

Beard has been in the WNBA for nine seasons but been healthy enough to play for just seven. She celebrated her 30th birthday in May. Sometimes in recent years, the thought crept in her mind that perhaps she’d need to start her life’s fourth decade by submerging completely in a new career: that of the businesswoman she has long planned to be.

She is not one of those pro athletes who will wake up one day and say, “Oh, no! Now what?”

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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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From Mechelle: WNBA teams restart their engines – Games resume Thursday; teams have about seven weeks for final playoff push

Lawson, who turned 31 in February, is having the best season statistically of her career, averaging 14.5 point, 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists. She has made 43.8 percent of her 3-pointers (39 of 89) and seems particularly focused.

“We feel good about the second half of the year — [while] understanding that everybody feels like they’re ready for a good second half,” Lawson said of the universal optimism that marked a WNBA conference call Tuesday. “I don’t think there’s a team out there that doesn’t think they’re going to improve. I just think the intensity of the games will be a little bit higher as everybody tries to position themselves.

From Dishin’ and Swishin’: A Roundtable recap of the Olympics and preview of the returning WNBA season. ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel, Washington Mystics commentator Christy Winters Scott, and and Mel Greenberg chat with David about:

Will Diana Taurasi play again this season for the Phoenix Mercury?

Is there a team that could move up and sneak into a playoff spot?

Did the WNBA get the rub it needs from the Olympic Games coverage? Is the WNBA marketing the success of the Olympics games enough?

The WNBA has had only two players average twenty points and ten rebounds previously (Sylvia Fowles in 2011 and Chamique Holdsclaw in 2003). Fowles, Candace Parker and Tina Charles all are close this season. Can they reach this amazing level?

Who will help their team the most of the returning internationals and injured players? What impact will they have on the rest of the season?

Which teams benefited from having the time off the Olympic break provided?

The NBA’s LeBron James who won the championship, a gold medal, regular season and Finals Most Valuable Player awards this year. Can anyone match that feat this WNBA season?

Nate gets into the act, wondering: WNBA Midseason All-Rookie Teams: Who Are The Top Rookies After Nneka Ogwumike?

Speaking of rookies, Sports Page Magazine has this: Sparks’ Ogwumike Ready for Leadership Role as WNBA Season Resumes

Speaking of the return.. the return of an age-old question: Sex, muscles, basketball: How do you sell an athletic woman?

Americans have a complicated relationship with female athletes. During the Olympics, we love them. They had some great moments in the 2012 games, which concluded Sunday. The United States women’s soccer team beamed from the gold medal podium in front of a crowd of 80,000 after defeating Japan last Thursday. Throughout the games, the NBC cameras couldn’t get enough of gymnast Gabby Douglas and swimmer Missy Franklin, both likable medalists. This year, America sent more women than men to compete in London for the first time.

But male and female Olympians return to different worlds this week: most of the women have nowhere to play professionally in the U.S. Take female soccer players, whose U.S. pro league folded this year. Goalie Hope Solo recently told Newsweek that the team must come out on top at the games because if it doesn’t, “People are going to forget all about us.”

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“Shhhh, I’m reading!”

“Sorry. Don’t suppose you’re reading anything in the NY Times?”

“Don’t be silly. They’re too busy drooling another 827 words all over the men’s team.”

“Right. Silly question. So, what are ya reading?”

“Well, for starters, Fred,” from Doug: Geno Auriemma talks style of play

“We would love to play basketball the way Spain plays soccer,” he said. (WHB Spoiler Alert: Just not like they did today — guess those first class seats helped the Japanese men, huh?) “The ball moves, we’re not trying to be like Italy and win nothing-nothing on penalty kicks. I don’t think that helps anybody.”

When told his soccer analogy could irritate some Italians, Auriemma wasn’t concerned.

“I grew up in Italy so I can make that comment,” the coach joked. “I’ve seen some Italian blowouts where they’ve won 1-0.”

Speaking of that guy from Philly, a mystery writer in London has this from the Quad City Times: Women’s hoops coach Geno Auriemma on cusp of adding golden chapter to remarkable American tale

Across a life of basketball, even as the victories and championships and perfect seasons piled up, Geno Auriemma always figured there was one goal out of reach: United States women’s national team coach.

It wasn’t just that he was born in Italy. It wasn’t just that he was a man in a women’s game. It wasn’t just that he was from the college ranks and the trend lately swung to taking pro coaches.

It was Geno himself. He is, admittedly, an abrasive force. Unapologetic. Politically incorrect. Not at all a member of the inner cliques of the women’s basketball. He’s had longstanding feuds with any number of coaches, most famously Pat Summitt, the icon of the sport.

He wins games, not popularity contests. Getting to be national team coach is, quite often, a popularity contest.

“I did think that if there was a committee that picked the coach, then the chances of me getting picked were zero,” Auriemma said Thursday.

USA Basketball says, “Let the Games Begin: U.S. Women Arrive In London

Is Geno different than the perception you had of him at Tennessee?

Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks): I would be lying to you if I said no. I think that it’s cool when you come from rival schools to kind of see now Coach Auriemma does basketball stuff and how he is off the court. I always knew that he liked to joke and things like that, but it’s been cool playing. Obviously a lot of his girls are on the team. It’s been nice. It’s been a good experience. We haven’t felt too orange (reference to Tennessee’s orange), except when he makes little jokes or something like that about the Southeastern Conference.

Speaking of Candace with an “a”: Olympian Candace Parker Represents Chicago

Speaking of the SEC: Former LSU basketball stars Seimone Augustus, Sylvia Fowles formidable 1-2 Olympic punch

Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles are no strangers to shared success. The LSU All-Americans-turned-international basketball stars together have claimed two Final Four berths, hoisted the Turkish Cup and won multiple gold medals, including the title at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Their games are complementary: Augustus is a 6-foot swingman who can create shots and get to the rim, and Fowles plays the post, dominating the boards with a quickness not indicative of her 6-foot-6, 200 pound frame. And as one can imagine, with the amount of times they’ve appeared on the same roster, their chemistry isn’t limited to the court.

Loudy Foudy brings some much needed gravitas to the game: Crown Jules: Underwear or No Underwear?

Richard Deitsch at SI gives us his Women’s basketball preview

Two pieces from SlamOnline:

Yaron Weitzman: Gold Standard- Diana Taurasi will be looking to add another notch to her storied career when she leads Team USA into the Olympics.

Christy Winters Scott on The Golden Mentality:  the mindset behind playing for Team USA (Have I mentioned how USA Basketball hates that “Team USA” thang? “There is no such thing!”)

“We three Lynx from Minneapolis are … ” From the Minnesota Daily: Lindsay Whalen leads trio of Lynx to London Games – The ex-Gophers star will play at her first Olympics with two Lynx teammates.

From Kelly Parsons at the Washington Times: Maya Moore brings poise to court for U.S. women

When she’s not on the move, the youngest player on the 2012 U.S. Olympic squad spends her time taking it all in.

“I just watch and make sure I’m paying attention and observing everybody who’s in a position of leadership,” Moore said. “They’re usually there saying the right things when we need to hear it, and I’m just soaking it up and trying to cause chaos of the other team.”

Here are “25 athletes to watch” during the Olympics.

Nathan McCarter at the *gulp* bleacher report narrows it down some: USA Olympic Women’s Basketball Team: 3 Rising Stars to Watch

From Peter Souders at Yahoo Sports: United States Women Toughen Up Inside to Beat Down Their Opposition.

Peter also has: The 2012 Olympic U.S. Women’s Basketball Team is Ready to Destroy the Opposition

There’s been a lot of discussion in the media recently about the “feud” between the 1992 U.S. Men’s Basketball “Dream Team” and the 2012 U.S. National squad who claim they could beat them. ESPN has done statistical analysis on the two teams; analysts have debated the claim, and Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Kobe Bryant and Barack Obama have voiced their opinions about the debate. But amidst all the discussion about the men’s team and how dominant they might be, there is a U.S. team that has already reached the dominating levels of the Dream Team: the female half of the basketball competition in the Olympic Games.

Seems Mechelle’s not available, so espnW trots out Prim Siripipat, Jemele Hill and Shelley Smith to discuss gender equality for some male and female Olympic teams.

Lee at Full Court wonders: London 2012: Australia — Can team training offset the loss of Penny Taylor?

Speaking of Australia, I bet glad LJ paid for that seat upgrade: Lauren Jackson named flag bearer of the Australian Olympic team for the 2012 London Games

Paul at FIBA.com weighs in: Veteran ‘glue’ is key to medal prospects

As fans and media, we should collectively hold our hands up, guilty as charged. For I fear we continue to give far too much attention to the headline acts who seduce us with their stats while simultaneously shunning those players who rarely dazzle with points, rebounds or assists but in reality, make teams tick.
 
Yes, those players who are the first names on the roster for each respective coach and when you throw in the additional element of veteran experience, provide the ‘glue’ which will hold together some of the most serious medal contenders in London.
 
It’s an essential ingredient for success. And, while that is always the case at any tournament, I feel it will be an overriding feature in London. In particular for Russia and Australia who each have a great shot at making the Final and, on their day, could even upset red-hot favourites USA.

FIBA’s Mageshwaran offers up this: These Chinese youngsters are Young Stars already!

These are nervy moments of anxiety that Guo Ailun and Zhao Shuang are undergoing in the days of the build-up to China’s participation, in what is likely to be the most popular event among team sports at London – basketball.

These are two youngsters, on the brink of their maiden Olympian experience, bristling with enormous potential and have already been marked out for future stardom. How bright they will shine in the future will depend on their performance at London!

The Denver Post’s Mark Kiszla writes: Taurasi embodies rise of women’s hoops from “fluffy-fluffy”

But maybe the real measure of acceptance for women’s sports in society is the unabashed sass of Taurasi. She doesn’t have to act like a lady 24/7 to soothe the male ego. The two-time Olympic gold medalist doesn’t care who sees her sweat, or hears her swear in the stream of locker-room banter.

“It’s not all fluffy-fluffy women’s basketball. It’s not all about skirts and cupcakes,” Taurasi said Thursday. “Sometimes, there’s steak and cussing going on. And that’s life. It’s not that pretty all the time. It’s kinda ugly sometimes.”

Oh, not every guy stretched out on the sofa back in the United States wants to hear women roar on the field of play. Some red-blooded American males would rather admit to reading “50 Shades of Grey” than watch Taurasi shoot a jumper. But as Geno Auriemma plops down on the bench for Team USA, one of the last significant stigmas of female sports has been more thoroughly erased.

It has ceased to be uncool for a man to coach a team of women.

While the debate about the Dream Team or 2012 has ceased for the most part (especially as 2012 has been put to tough tests by Brazil and Argentina in exhibition play already), putting this year’s women’s team up against USA Women’s of the past is actually an adequate argument. Along with the Huskies, Seimone Augustus, Tamika Catchings, Sylvia Fowles, Angel McCoughtry, Candace Parker and Lindsay Whalen round out the loaded roster.

“We’re just as deep as they were. We’re just as competitive. I think both teams definitely want to get that gold. But me being on this team, I would say we would beat that team just to start something,” said Charles jokingly. Cash added: “The one thing about this team is that it’s really unique. Even from our team in 2004 that I played on, I just think that this team is pretty deep. We’re probably gonna be full-courting up on both sides of the ball. I just think that we have the athleticism, the quickness, the length, the size, so I would put this right up there as one of the best teams, but you gotta get out there and win gold before you can start talking about which team is better than the other.”

From “Our Correspondant” at the Liverpool Echo: Johannah Leedham on a mission to put women’s basketball on the map at the Olympics

When Leedham first began representing her country at junior level, many would have scoffed at her decision, with the sport – particularly female participation – far from being in the mainstream.

But as the 24-year-old has evolved into one of the team’s stars, hitting a buzzer-beater in 2008 against Germany to hand Great Britain its first ever Division A victory, so has the sport itself.

Jessica over at Swish Appeal talks a little Russia and Czech Republic

Just remember, the basketball doesn’t end August 11th: This Trailer for the Paralympic Games is the Most Amazing Olympic Video You’ll Ever See

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shouldn’t you be blogging?

Yes, but then I would have missed seeing the “hound dog” of birds, (the Skimmer), the “Turtles of birds” (the Ruddy Turnstone) and the “catch’em while we can ’cause their food supply is getting wiped out” of birds” (Red Knot).

So, yah, about that basketball game between Great Britain and the US. Lots to chew on if you watched it — if you were hoping ESPN3 was going to archive it – ooops! I will tell you that if you watched you’d know that Candace Parker… or maybe it was Maya Moore? came off the bench nicely, while Sylvia Fowles…or Tina Charles — really, who can keep track? is still struggling to establish herself in the paint.

Anyhoo, Doug “can’t believe he didn’t take me along” Feinberg was busy doin’ his thing tweeting (Second leg of trip down now on to Istanbul. Asked taxi driver if it rained every day in Manchester: his response only days that end in ‘y’) and writing: Bench sparks U.S. women’s basketball team over Britain and Britain women’s basketball team could create waves at Olympics

“I’m delighted with our progress,” Maher said. “Four years ago we were rubbish. Now we can play and look respectable. We’ve learned a lot from when we played Australia, France. It’s fantastic. You can see the learning. They’ve come so far and I couldn’t be prouder.”

The locals were thrilled with their team’s performance: Maher: We’ve gained respect

Doug also talked USA BBall with Dishin’ and Swishin’

He also can’t get that They Might Be Giants song out of his head the team travel to Turkey: US women’s team set for next leg of pre-Olympic journey heading to Istanbul

Diana Taurasi and her U.S. women’s basketball teammates are used to crazy travel schedules playing in the WNBA and overseas.

So their pre-Olympic training trip that has the Americans traveling a quarter of the way around the world is nothing new to the players.

By the time they reach London on July 25, the team will have gone nearly 6,750 miles, hitting three countries in just 10 days.

BTW, coach Meadors will be checking in during the Games: Marynell’s Memories – July 20

No one who follows the WHB was surprised to hear Jo Leedham’s name (A LOT) during the exhibition — but I’m sure, like me, you were thrilled as punch at her performance. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see a DII kid play in the W?

“She had such a great career over in the U.S.,” Auriemma said after Wednesday’s game. “She’s one of those really smart individuals who really knows how to play and takes advantage of all the little things that you may or may not do. She knows how to get open. She doesn’t miss very many open shots. She’s very crafty, to say the least. I’m sure on her team, they’re asking her to do a lot and I was really impressed with the way she played.”

USA Basketball is doing their part to keep the women’s team on the ‘net:

USA Women’s National Team Gets Back To Practice After Win Over Great Britain

USA Basketball Women’s National Team Rallies Past Great Britain, 88-63,  plus photos and additional quotes

Nate has some post-game analysis, and there’s not much to disagree with: USA Women’s Basketball Still Relied Heavily On Transition Points In Defeating Great Britain

Just looking at the scoring flow of the game, this was a wake up call for the U.S. simply because they dug themselves a hole early. However, the primary problem for Team USA was the same in both games: their offensive chemistry is still not there yet.

In other Olympic news: *shakes head* Izzy, Izzy, Izzy: Iziane Castro Marques Off Brazilian Olympic Team. 

The pressures’ building on Liz: Cambage: shy and clumsy to superstar and Cambage a big key to unlocking gold and Dream run for Mornington Peninsula’s Liz Cambage and Liz Cambage tipped to become women’s basketball’s next superstar.

Full Court is doing their usual Full Court Coverage of the games — in person: Maya Moore spurs U.S. rally over Great Britain in Manchester exhibition.

Team USA got a major wake-up call Wednesday evening in Manchester, England.

To be fair, they deserved one. After a fast-paced two-day training camp in Washington, D.C. and Monday night’s 99-67 defeat of Brazil in a physical exhibition game, the men’s and women’s U.S. National Basketball teams headed to the airport in the middle of the night to wing their way across the pond, arriving late Tuesday. Though the Americans declined to make excuses, with jet lag and a five-hour time change factored in, they can be forgiven for a rather sluggish start.

I met Lee Michaelson in Athens, and all I could think was “Damn, she’s workin’ hard!” I’m sure other folks will use FC’s homework as a resource — and if so, they should credit Lee & Co — but you can always just go to the source:

London 2012: Angola — Just happy to be there

London 2012: Canada — Needs a little luck to advance

Q & A with Team U.S.A.: What to see in London

London 2012: China — It’s been a struggle since Beijing

London 2012: Croatia — Here’s the upset special

Next up for the women: USA vs. Croatia  – July 21 @ 11 am EDT Istanbul, Turkey

Word has it that the game will be streamed here and here.

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