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from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: Seimone Augustus (and I wanna know the story behind the second photograph in the slide show…)

Augustus, 27, committed herself to becoming an outstanding defensive player last season, adding a new dimension to her game. She lost 30 pounds. She stepped forth as a more assertive leader, taking charge in the Finals as she averaged 22 points per game — including an epic 36-point performance in Game 2, when she carried her team to a come-from-behind victory that deflated rival Atlanta.

Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve, who took over in 2010, entered last season eager to see what a healthy Augustus could do. After challenging Augustus to seriously consider the legacy she wanted to create, Reeve witnessed the flowering of a player determined to discover how great she could be.

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Lynx complete their dream season

Game 3 turned out to be yet another illustration that this Minnesota Lynx team can win any kind of basketball game you happen to drag them into. Both teams looked a little tired, McWilliams-Franklin played 33 minutes on one-and-a-half legs, and McCoughtry finished 9-25 for 22 points. Forcing Minnesota into 20 turnovers on the night should’ve given the Dream a chance to win, but in the end they didn’t have the weapons, and McCoughtry didn’t get enough help. Her repeated insistence on trying to take over on her own doesn’t always help, but the rest of the team went 18-53 as a group, and that wasn’t going to cut it. Harding’s 1-5 for four points was frankly pathetic, and somewhat shocking after her willingness to attack Whalen in the opening two games; de Souza did her job on the glass but she and Lyttle were a combined 7-23 from the floor, which was nowhere near good enough even against Minnesota’s strong interior defense; Price had probably her best game of the series, but when that’s 3-7 for six points, it says more about her prior performances than this one; and Castro Marques was 4-12 for nine points, on one of those nights where her streakiness never really came back around in Atlanta’s favour. They tried everything they could to beat this Lynx team, and came up short in various different types of game.

 

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same result.

The coaches tweaked their line ups a tad, and got mixed results (Maya Moore’s Routine Layup That Shifted Momentum In The Minnesota Lynx’ 2011 WNBA Finals Victory). Minnesota  and Atlanta put their defense shoes on and kept the scoring low. Unfortunately for fans who wanted to see this fun match up continue for two more games, Atlanta couldn’t pull off the win, and they suffered the second Finals sweep of their short existence.

“When it comes to this point, it just comes down to who makes the best plays,” Dream guard Lindsey Harding said. “It was close; they just made more plays.”

It’s almost unfair to call it a “sweep.” Writes Mechelle:

Before a crowd of 11,543 Friday, Atlanta almost engineered a fourth-quarter rally to send the series to a Game 4. The Dream pulled within one point on Iziane Castro Marques’s 3-pointer with 1 minute, 17 seconds left, as the arena went bonkers. But the Lynx held off the Dream by making enough of their free throws, combined with some missed shots from Atlanta.

There were way too many of those Friday for the Dream, who were 27-of-78 from the field (34.6 percent). Atlanta took 17 more shots than Minnesota (26-of-61) but simply didn’t make enough of them.

Say James Bowman: All that Reigns in Atlanta is Woe

For Atlanta’s fans, coming to terms with a 73-67 Game Three loss in the WNBA Finals on their home court to the Minnesota Lynx – the third of three losses to the new WNBA champions – will be a difficult process.

I’ve already gone through the classic Kubler-Ross stages myself.

As for Los Lynx: Title was a long time coming for Lynx – Franchise that once failed to reach the playoffs for six straight seasons is now a champ

Seimone Augustus knew the salt water would come. She’d held in so much over the years, persevered through disappointments, kept her head up during emotional and physical pain.

This season, as it became clear that things really were coming together for her Minnesota Lynx, Augustus sometimes let herself picture a perfect ending.

“Just envisioning it and imagining it while sitting around my house, I’d get teary-eyed,” Augustus said before Game 3 of the WNBA Finals. “My mom always said, ‘Never cry over basketball.’ Because she always looked at it like recreation. I’ve told her, ‘Mom, it’s more than that.’

“It’s my career. It’s almost like my life — this is what I eat, sleep, breathe.”

And Friday, it was indeed what she cried about — but they were the happiest tears she has ever shed.

At espnW, Joanne Gerstner writes: Rookie and veteran share championship moment

Minnesota Lynx starting center Taj McWilliams-Franklin didn’t want to let this emotional moment pass without letting rookie guard Maya Moore know how special she is.

The Lynx had just won the franchise’s first WNBA title, taking Game 3, 73-67, over the Dream for the series sweep at Philips Arena Friday. Joyous pandemonium reigned, with Lynx players dancing, hugging and screaming for joy over the din of the celebratory music.

McWilliams-Franklin grabbed Moore and hugged her, then whispered in her ear:

“Your heart is right. You have right attitude, humility. You are a sweet kid, raised properly; all these things follow good kids. This is just the start of many titles for you, enjoy this,” McWilliams-Franklin recounted.

What are the Five things we learned from the WNBA Finals?

Key phrase at the end of SBNation Minnesota? “We hope to expand our coverage of the Lynx significantly going into the 2012 WNBA season.”

Jim Souhan writes: Lynx win a title, redemption and new credibility

They developed into the ideal group to promote their sport as well as win a title: A physical, defensive-minded team that could run a fast break featuring behind-the-back dribbles and reverse layups.

“I’m just glad that we were able to finish it off playing Lynx basketball,” Moore said.

Lynx basketball. It wasn’t too long ago that “Lynx basketball” was a punchline in the Twin Cities. Friday night, that phrase became a beacon of excellence, and perhaps even hope.

Oh, and it looks like Tim got there:

It had been 20 years of waiting for a professional championship to return to Minnesota.

What were a few more minutes?

The Minnesota Lynx on Friday night waited like antsy children on Christmas morning to bust loose and celebrate the end of a two-decade championship drought. Someone was missing from the celebratory gathering, however, and team protocol demanded they wait until everyone was assembled.

When coach Cheryl Reeve finally arrived, the showering of champagne began.

I’m sure fans are already planning to call in sick: Champion Lynx arriving home this afternoon, parade planned for Tuesday

Okay. How long until the State Farm Tipoff?

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Mama Taj-less child? Lynx head to Atlanta in quest of a title but with a question at center

Reserve center Jessica Adair doesn’t believe she will be making the first postseason start of her WNBA career when the Lynx play Atlanta in Game 3 of the championship series tonight at Philips Arena.

The 6-foot-4 second-year player out of George Washington University is in standby mode as the Lynx determine whether starting center Taj McWilliams-Franklin will play after spraining her right knee in Wednesday night’s 101-95 victory over the Dream at Target Center.

The current word is “probable.”

Kris Willis at Peachtree Hoops writes:  Atlanta Dream Return Home Down 0-2 And Facing Elimination

Now it is also worth noting that Minnesota has seemed to crank up their defensive focus in the fourth quarter as it is not just simply a case of Atlanta struggling. The Lynx has a lot to do with those struggles. For two straight games in the series, Atlanta’s fourth quarter offense has broken down into a series of head down one-on-one isolations that has either led to a bad shot or a turnover. 

Angel McCoughtry has played well overall in both Games 1 & 2 but she is also the biggest culprit in this case. She is always going to draw extra defensive attention from whoever the Dream are playing and it has been no different in this series. Atlanta needs her to be aggressive but that aggressiveness needs to be channeled within the concept of the team’s offense. A great example was Minnesota’s use of Seimone Augustus in Game 2 down the stretch.

Oh, and fans better plan a little extra time to get to the sold out arena: Heavy traffic expected in Atlanta this weekend

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they did not rest: Lynx host clinic for kids hours after grueling Game 1

Tired beat writers filed into the Target Center late Monday morning with coffee in hand. It was like they never left; the Minnesota Lynx had just wrapped up an intense and grueling game one of the WNBA finals just 15 hours before.

The writers got another glimpse of what this team is all about. Five star players – Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen, Rebekkah Brunson, and Taj McWilliams-Franklin – arrived shortly after the writers. They were all bright-eyed and bushy tailed, ready to give a basketball clinic to 90 middle school students to promote healthy and active lifestyles.

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Amber Holt sidelined with broken thumb

On the flip side, is Mechelle feeling optimistic (or ESPN’s headline writer feels they need to throw us Lib fans a bone) as she reviews opening weekend: Liberty off to promising start

Now how about the Eastern Conference, and specifically New York opening with a 94-88 overtime victory at Atlanta? (WHB notes: In OT. On a couple of miracles. With Angel sitting.)

I received an email from a livid Liberty fan the other day wondering how on earth I could have picked them to finish last in the Eastern Conference. And my first thought was, “Hmmm … did I pick them to finish last?” Because that’s about how much those “picks” mean to me: They’re essentially fading from my brain as soon as I hit the send button.

Then it came back to me: Yes, I had essentially flipped a coin, mentally, between Chicago and New York for last place. Well, it was more “scientific” than that. Kind of. I decided the Sky might come up with the right formula under new coach Pokey Chatman to really maximize the height they have inside, led by Sylvia Fowles. At the same time, I wondered if the Liberty’s inside game would be up to snuff, with ageless wonder Taj McWilliams-Franklin now in Minnesota and former No. 1 draft pick Janel McCarville not playing in the league this season.

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before you go out and enjoy the day.

Seattle: Jayda is Catching up with Storm All-Star Sue Bird

A benefit to the WNBA starting training camp later is most players have trickled into their respective cities earlier to begin one-on-one workouts and get settled. (In the past, camp started in April with season-openers hovering around mid-May). For Storm PG Sue Bird, that means moving to a new home in Queen Anne and reuniting with teammate Lauren Jackson, who Bird hasn’t seen since winter.

It’s the first time in five years that Bird hasn’t returned a champion from some nether-region, however. There was the 2010 FIBA World Championships title in October, but Bird’s Russian team, Spartak, placed second in EuroLeague and the country’s postseason.

Cali: From C&R: VanDerveer honored at BAWSI’s Sportsapolooza

Stanford Women’s Basketball Coach Tara VanDerveer was honored at the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative’s first annual Sportsapolooza. Also honored was BAWSI co-founder and soccer legend Brandi Chastain. Sportsapolooza was a fundraiser for BAWSI held at Santa Clara’s Leavey Center May 4th of this year.

Cali: Remember the student crankiness that was happening over at UCLA over shuffling up to the cheap seats: Students vote to reject new seating arrangement at Pauley Pavilion

Ohio: Mom and coach knows meaning of family

Family isn’t always defined by genealogical trees — names scratched out on paper, its branches stretching back generations into history.

Sometimes, family is defined with X’s and O’s — plays drawn up on a clipboard during a critical time-out. Sometimes, family has less to do with the name on the back of the jersey and more to do with the name on the front of it.

If anyone knows exactly what “family” is, it would be Suzy Venet Pietz.

Minny: A Mother’s Day to celebrate: Minnesota Lynx’s Taj McWilliams-Franklin has kept her family and career intact

Taj McWilliams-Franklin had 50 offers to play Division I basketball as a high school senior in Augusta, Ga.

Then she learned she was pregnant.

There were college and high school coaches who told her that raising the baby would be a mistake and would derail her basketball career. They said she should give up the child for adoption. She ignored them. She decided to raise the child on her own, and the scholarship offers all but dried up.

Connecticut: For Lobo, It’s All In A Mother’s Day

Siobhan Rushin was watching her older cousins play basketball on Easter.

“I bet my mom would be good at this game,” she told them. “She played basketball in college.”

Her mother, Rebecca Lobo, laughs when she tells that story. Her four children, ages 6 months to 6 years, delight her. They exasperate her. She, who never yelled before having kids, yells at least twice a day now (“Will you stop doing that. I already told you 10 times to stop!”). Or she wonders if her head is going to explode because her two oldest are quarreling. Again.

From the Title IX blog: One week later

Many, many responses to last week’s NYT piece by Katie Thomas on the fudging of Title IX numbers by colleges and universities.

A related piece, with a h/t to Swish Appeal (and a concern that Forbes would allow the sentence “As I’ve eluded to, things are a little easier in the SEC and Big Ten where football and men’s basketball make enough profit to cover all the other sports.”) Does Football Fund Other Sports At College Level?

BusinessofCollegeSports.com last week we looked at the Top 25 recipients of student activity fees. As I researched, I was looking for a correlation between those who rely on student fees and football profit. Then someone asked me how sports outside of football and men’s basketball impact a school’s athletic department budget. So, I did a little digging.

First, let me say that it is generally true that football, and sometimes men’s basketball, subsidizes a (sometimes large) portion of the expenses for other teams. It doesn’t matter if we’re looking at a team from Conference USA or the SEC. Accordingly, I pulled numbers for several of the top student fee recipients, both in terms of dollars and percentage, an SEC school, a Big Ten school and Cal-Berkeley because of their recent fundraising efforts to save five sports.

In the charts that follow, you will see a breakdown of the revenue and expenses for football, men’s and women’s basketball and the catchall for the rest of the varsity sports, “Other Sports”.


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Military Ties Prepared Taj McWilliams-Franklin for Basketball Career

Taj McWilliams-Franklin didn’t have to serve in the military to have an appreciation for all the sacrifices individuals make for their country. She’s been living a military lifestyle since she was born, as she spent her entire childhood bouncing from state to state with parents who both served in the armed forces.

When asked to recall all of the cities Taj lived in while growing up, she let out an exasperated sigh and a little bit of a chuckle.

“I started my life born in Fort Woods in El Paso, Texas. Left after three months and I’ve been moving ever since,” she laughed. “That’s the easiest way for me to say it.”

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