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

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

Playoffs:

New York vs. Washington or Indiana

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

Chicago vs. Indiana or Washington

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

Western Conference

Minnesota vs. Los Angeles

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

Phoenix vs. Tulsa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the Players’ Tribune: Sugar Rogers.

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

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

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

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

Also from PT: Full Court and  Liberty 1440.

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

And more: Swin Cash, City Kids

And more: Jewell Loyd, Going Home

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

And more: 

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

Theirs is a message for all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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’cause I came up with a couple of good ones last night after the Sky dismantled the (home court-seeking) Lib:

Blond Bombers Barrage
Sloot! There it is!
Liberty (EE)D-Q’d
Lib fall to (Behind the) Arc Nemesis

Any hoot-n-any…. a semi-healthy Chicago (Cappie’s still out with a concussion) made mincemeat of the Lib’s vaunted defense. Couple that with no NY outside threat, and it turned into something ugly. Especially when the team pulled some Atlanta Dream diva-esque moments. Not good. I will say that Sloot’s and Allie’s shooting was a sight to behold. Beautiful and unconscious.

BTW – great Sky fan turnout.

BTW – not great news: Brittany Boyd has wrist surgery, out 5-6 weeks. What did I say about the healthy team winning? NY will have to heavily rely on Tanisha Wright, who is right at home playing for Liberty

New York guard Tanisha Wright has always been like that ingredient that doesn’t stand out, yet without which the recipe just isn’t nearly as good.

Go back even to her Penn State days, and it was like that. Then through her 10 WNBA seasons in Seattle, it was often easy — at least from the outsiders’ point of view — to take her for granted.

Now that she’s in New York, it’s once again possible to overlook Wright when you’re singling out the reasons why the Liberty — despite a loss to Chicago on Thursday — lead the Eastern Conference and will make their first playoff appearance since 2012.

In LA, Nneka was back, which is great to see, and the Sparks-Mystics put on a great show. I’m guessing Minnesota is getting a little anxious about facing L.A in the first round. I know some folks aren’t convinced, but it is Agler at the helm… Tulsa finishes out the season with games against the Sparks, Stars, Sky & Merc. L.A. faces the aforementioned Shock, then Dream & Merc… Dum, dee dum, dum.

Loses in the high school ranks:

From the Freson Bee: Central Valley loses girls prep sports pioneer in Mary Brown

From tiny mountain programs Yosemite and Sierra, to Hanford, Stockdale in Kern County and the standard-bearer of them all, Clovis West, the quality of high school girls basketball in the Central Section has progressively soared for decades.

Not to ignore the other 11 female sports in the region, as well.

And where would they be without Mary Brown? Or the likes of her, if there’s ever been another?

Cynthia Winstead – 45 years after playing for Ms. Brown in three sports at Memorial – puts it this way: “She believed in us long before we believed in ourselves.”

Ms. Brown, known best as the architect of the Panthers’ girls basketball empire in the 1970s and ’80s, and arguably the most influential force in the history of all section prep sports for females, died last Friday of natural causes in her newly built house in Roseburg, Ore.

From the Tulsa World: Legendary Leflore girls basketball coach Nadine Carpenter dies

She taught one year at Addington, then, in 1954, she began a 44-year career at LeFlore. A year later, she was named the head girls basketball coach at LeFlore, where her teams averaged 19 wins per season for 43 years.

Her 1968 squad was the first basketball team from LeFlore to reach the state tournament, and that team made it all the way to the championship game, losing to Covington-Douglas in overtime. Her basketball teams would reach the state tournament four more times, with her final one coming in 1995. That team lost in the quarterfinals in double-overtime to Cherokee.

Carpenter retired with 831 games, the second-most wins in state history behind Byng’s Bertha Frank Teague (1,126 wins and 116 losses in 43 seasons). She also had more than 200 softball wins as a coach.

Laura Edwards lives in Atlanta now, and as a 35-year-old pilot instructor for Delta Airlines, she’s traveled many miles from her North Carolina roots. But Edwards’ thoughts the past few days have been on her teen years at East Rowan High School.

Her high school basketball coach, Gina Talbert, passed away on Thursday at the age of 60. It was a profound shock for Edwards and former Mustangs now scattered across the country. They’ve been communicating, on Facebook mostly, trying to help each other come to grips with the loss. Talbert had been ill, but her death was sudden.

“I keep thinking back to my last season at East (1997) and the night we won the South Piedmont Conference tournament,” Edwards said. “We were all so happy we won, but really we just wanted to win that tournament for Coach Talbert. We’d never won anything for her.”

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the “pick apart” and “prep part” starts.

After Michelle writes that the Seed, site of opener puzzle Stanford Cardinal receive No. 2 seed — and play first-round game in Ames, Iowa

When Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer entered the media room Monday night after the brackets were revealed, one of the assembled reporters wished her a happy St. Patrick’s Day.

“I am part Irish,” VanDerveer said dryly, “but I don’t feel lucky.”

Mechelle and Michelle say to Stanford, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

Melanie Jackson has the Women’s tourney power rankings

After editing Charlie Creme, Graham Hays, Michelle Smith and Mechelle Voepel this season (and covering the women’s NCAA tournament the past 15 years), it’s easy to pick up tidbits about the top teams around the country. So here’s one editor’s take on the women’s field of 64:

Newsday’s Marcus Henry is Breaking down the women’s NCAA Tournament and Jordan Rinard from the Miami Student explains Why I’ll be watching the women’s tourney

Mel offers Guru’s NCAA/WNIT Musings: Louisville Seed Not in the Cards

Well while the Guru didn’t get into the actual seeding forecasts, the countdown of where things were in terms of locks and bubbles pretty much played out.

But some of the Guru’s kitchen cabinet who have been in power centers in the past couldn’t help but wonder at some of the moves made by the committee.

Doug offers 6 players to watch in the NCAA women’s tournament and posits: Here’s what could happen in NCAA women’s tournament

As Colorado State women welcome fresh start in WNIT, Graham and Charlie debate: Are Conference Tournaments Good for the Women’s Game?

Ramona Shelburne offers up New glory days for Cooper-Dyke, USC

Charlie Springer at the Card Game explains: Louisville women’s basketball team latest to pay a price

Scott Wolf at the Los Angeles Daily News adds: USC women’s basketball eager for first NCAA Tourament game since 2006

Ruey Yen at the California Golden Blogs says A 7 seed for Cal Women’s Basketball means it’s off to Waco, TX to face Fordham and likely Baylor

Though West Virginia women are not happy with NCAA draw, the Mountaineers could have career season in 2013-14

From the AP’s Stephen Hawkins, Young Baylor still No. 2 NCAA seed, Big 12 champs

Everything seems pretty much the same for perennial national power Baylor, with another Big 12 title and a No. 2 seed in hand headed into the NCAA women’s tournament.

But this is a much different group than the Lady Bears had two years ago for an undefeated national championship and was an overwhelming favorite to repeat last season before an unexpected regional final loss to Louisville.

Patricia Babcock McGraw says the DePaul women ready to go against Oklahoma

While traveling to North Carolina last March to watch DePaul play in the NCAA Tournament, Megan Rogowski’s family from Prospect Heights rolled in some sightseeing and college visits.

“My parents and my little brother and sister visited Duke and North Carolina and North Carolina State,” said Rogowski, a star at Hersey and now the best 3-point shooter in the Big East Conference. “They had a lot of fun, and they’ll know what to expect for this year.”

Hopefully, the Rogowskis have more items on their “Tobacco Road must-see list” because Megan and DePaul are headed back this year.

In preparation: Offensive rebounds, turnovers primary focus for Lady Tigers – Lady Tigers have been working with scout team to fix mental errors

From Mark Carmin: Akron women’s basketball rides dynamic duo into Mackey Arena to face Purdue

Jodi Kest doesn’t remember giving Akron seniors Rachel Tecca and Hanna Luburgh the nickname “Bread and Butter.”

Tecca swears by it.

“That’s what coach Kest called us,” she said.

The 6-foot-1 forward, though, prefers “dynamic duo” when describing her and Luburgh’s exploits on the court for the Zips, who make their first NCAA tournament appearance Saturday against No. 17 Purdue at Mackey Arena.

“I’m Batman. She’s Robin. I’m Batman because I was here first and I’m taller,” Tecca said.

Ward Gossett notices that Former Chattanoogan Mike Bradbury has Wright State in new place

Wright State women’s basketball fans are celebrating, thanks in large part to former Chattanoogan Mike Bradbury.

Before Bradbury arrived, Wright State had enjoyed only one winning womeon’s season. Since he got to Dayton five years ago, the Raiders have had three 20-win seasons and this year added the school’s first Horizon League championship and its initial invitation to the NCAA women’s tournament.

“It’s been a good week. In my professional career this is probably the highlight,” said Bradbury, a late-1980s basketball player and sprinter at East Ridge High School before moving on to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Jennifer Gish from the Times Union: U Albany women plan March Madness surprise – In third straight trip to tournament, Danes aim to get first victory

“The third time’s a charm,” said the team’s leading scorer, sophomore Shereesha Richards. “So you never know. This might be the year we get an upset.”

Coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson said the team has seen the game film of last year’s NCAA Tournament loss a couple of times, and now knows the importance of boxing out, especially in free-throw situations, and making critical layups.

She says West Virginia is a “super-athletic” team. That’s very much like North Carolina, which beat UAlbany 59-54 in the first round last year after trailing the Great Danes for much of the game.

The UConn Women’s Staff Moves Quickly To Scout Prairie View because the UConn Women’s Path To National Title Begins With Prairie View

Chloe Pavlech blogs on selection Monday: The Terps are Ready to Dance.

Iowa State’s Jadda Buckley is Excited to be Playing at Home

Duke’s Rebecca Greenwell writes Anything’s Possible in Postseason.

Chiney warns A Hungry Team Can Be Dangerous

Shelly Stallsmith previews Penn State vs. Wichita State; Maryland vs. Army in NCAA women’s basketball openers

Gene Wang writes Maryland women’s basketball will host Army in NCAA tournament first round

“I never will take the NCAA tournament for granted,” Maryland Coach Brenda Frese said. “Like I told our team today, when you miss out on an opportunity to go, you’ll never take it for granted. We’ve had a few years, not too many, of those, so it’s truly an honor. These guys have put in a ton of hard work, and now we want to represent Maryland.”

Lisa Leslie is impressed by Saniya Chong’s spirit

Skylar explains What makes No. 2 Notre Dame so tough and Al Lesar writes Notre Dame’s Allen plays her own game

When she looks in the mirror, Lindsay Allen likes the face smiling back at her.

The Notre Dame women’s basketball team’s freshman point guard never tried to be the next Skylar Diggins.

Her only goal was to be the best possible Lindsay Allen.

“I have to make my own path; not worry about what (Diggins) did, what she accomplished,” said Allen. “Just play my game and play my role.”

It’s going to change (apparently) but Flag controversy blocks South Carolina home court advantage

The South Carolina women’s basketball team made history Monday night, earning its first ever number one seed in the NCAA basketball tournament.

The team will travel to Seattle over the weekend, where they’ll face Cal State Northridge in first round action.

A far cry from what some feel could have been.

Of the four number one seeds in this year’s NCAA Women’s basketball tournament, South Carolina will be the only top seed without a game in-state.

The Gamecocks were never in the running to host a regional game this season, in light of an NCAA boycott against South Carolina.

From Walt Moody at the Centre Daily: Third-seeded Lady Lions to face Wichita State in NCAA Tournament opener

You could call Penn State’s draw in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament a bit of a “shocker” in a couple of different ways Monday night.

Crowded around several flat screen televisions in the Founders Room at the Bryce Jordan, the Lady Lions saw they landed a No. 3 seed, a number that was somewhat of a surprise to most prognosticators and even to members of the team.

Well, yeah: Lady Vols eager to end their Final Four drought. Dan writes Lady Vols to be watchful for foul play in NCAA tournament

From Texas: Women’s Basketball Takes on Penn in the First Round

From Lady Moc Land

“This time of year, you’re going to play a good team, regardless of your seed, because all of the bad teams are at home,” UTC coach Jim Foster said. “I like the geography of where we’re going, and I think we’re going to have a good crowd in attendance.”

From Kentucky: Lady Tops enjoying title as NCAA looms

The Western Kentucky women’s basketball team returned to Bowling Green on Sunday evening with weary eyes, but with smiles that hadn’t faded since Saturday night.

Yup, the Beavers go dancing for first time since 1996

When Scott Rueck took over the Oregon State women’s basketball program in late June of 2010, he was met by a large contingency of fans and supporters in the Loge of Reser Stadium.

The Beavers were coming off an 11-20 season that saw them go 2-16 in the Pac-10 Conference.

Players had left and Rueck would have to somehow cobble together a roster after holding open tryouts.

He never could have imagined another similar crowd a mere 45 months later.

Oh, and Freshman point guard Sydney Wiese leads Beavers’ resurgence and OSU realizes Middle Tennessee has plenty of NCAA experience

From Green Bay: Patience, persistence pay off for UWGB’s Zastrow

Sam Zastrow could have quit or moved on from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay women’s basketball team.

She wasn’t getting many minutes and could have transferred to another school to get more. The former Algoma standout has been asked a lot over the years why she didn’t.

“I’ve always wanted to play here,” Zastrow said. “The fact that I wasn’t getting to play the first couple of years, I took that as a challenge. I’m like, ‘I’m not going to leave. I’m not going to let people bring me down.’

From the Salt Lake Tribune: BYU ‘happy to go dancing’ in NCAA tournament

Coach Jeff Judkins said the Cougars aren’t just happy to be in the tournament this year.

“As we talked about before [the bracket] came out, we are not here just to get to the tournament. We really want to play our best basketball and represent this university and this conference the best that we can.”

Over at SportsBlog: Tanisha Wright covers March Madness

What’s showing when? Coverage maps: Saturday & Sunday Who’s announcing when? 2014 NCAA women’s basketball tournament TV schedule on ESPN and ESPN2

You think you know who’s going to win? Play the Brackets.

In non-tourney NCAA news: TCU loses women’s basketball coach Jeff Mittie to Big 12 rival Kansas State and the Topeka Journal writes: Mittie finds perfect fit with K-State women’s basketball program – New Wildcat coach likes facilities, team potential

And yup, it’s not really a surprise, but LaTech is looking for a new coach.

In W news: Ruth Riley’s Passion for Sports Meets Her Passion for Helping Children

Need a little Becky Hammon Coaching Fix?

Speaking of coaching: Seattle Storm Names Shaquala Williams Assistant Coach

From Nate: Swish Appeal’s preliminary 2014 WNBA Draft Board and Evaluating 2014 mid-major WNBA draft prospects: How do we adjust for strength of competition?

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

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

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

In other news:

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

LZ chips in: Sheryl Swoopes being herself

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

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

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

Speaking of stars, Carl Ademac says Moore has Lynx lurking

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

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

Jayda Evans talks with Storm guard Tanisha Wright

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What a fun day of basketball we had yesterday.

I’m betting that if I’d walked up to you this morning and said, “Atlanta scored 88. Against Indiana,” you’d have immediately thought, So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night!”  Indy!

Psych! You should be singing along with the Jackson Five: “Goin’ Back To Indiana”

How much did coach Dunn miss January in the first game? Ask James Bowman: January’s career night gives Fever critical Game Two win; Game Three to decide series

Indiana only had two days to solve the problems the Atlanta Dream caused them in Game One or their plans in Indianapolis when they arrived back home would be cleaning out their lockers and buying plane tickets to Europe.

Indiana guard Briann January would keep the Fever alive with a career-high 24 points and send everyone back home with one more game to play as the Fever beat Atlanta 103-88 at Philips Arena in Game Two of the best-of-three Eastern Conference semifinals.

Adds David Woods at the Indy Star: Indiana Fever have more weapons than Tamika Catchings, Katie Douglas

Conventional wisdom: Stop Tamika Catchings and Katie Douglas, and you stop the Indiana Fever.

Updated theory: OK, maybe not

I’m wondering if this means you need players for offense and coaching for defense?

The late night game was Seattle’s version of 6 Characters in Search of an Author —  the players just wrote their own script. Who were the characters, you ask?

Lady of a Certain Age Who Wants to be a Dentist: Katie Smith with an opening three.
Tall Lady With a Dubious Hair Color: Lauren Jackson with a buzzer-beating, game tying three.
Point Guard Lady with the Appropriate Last Name: Tanisha Wright with a “let’s play another five minutes” three.
Wise Warrior Princess-Lady with the Intimidating Lipstick: Tina Thompson with an “That Australian may have fouled out, but I’m Still Here!” three.
Lady With the Very Neat Pony Tail: Sue Bird with an “I’m tired, let’s get this done” three.
Lady With the Mysterious Injury: Sue Bird (in a dual role) with an  “And here’s the dagger to prove we’re done” three.

Seattle fans – and those of us who watched  with no loyalty but for our love of the W – got a game that captured the essence of why we love women’s basketball.

From Jayda: Seattle Storm extends season with double-overtime victory – Lauren Jackson hits big shot to make it possible, then Sue Bird finishes it off

Mechelle writes: Storm’s 2OT win one to savor – Seattle overcomes 13-point deficit, Brunson’s 22 points, 15 rebounds

Ask any truly devoted fan in any sport when they love their team the most, and they might say it’s not necessarily when it’s absolutely at its greatest peak. Rather, it might be when the team is really not at it’s best, but is giving everything it possibly has … and finds a way to beat the odds.

That’s what the Seattle Storm did Sunday night in a wild, draining, thrilling, memorable 86-79 double-overtime victory against Minnesota. Seattle was staring the end of this season right in the face, but instead forced the Western Conference semifinals to a third game back in Minneapolis on Tuesday (ESPN2, tip TBD).

Thank you, Seattle and Minnesota. You put on the kind of show that may have changed the minds of those who tuned in the watch Sports Center.

Unless, of course, they were named Kate Fagan. Too bad for her, no?

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almost became part of New York Liberty playoff lore… and then Tamika said, “No you don’t Cappie,” and Erin said, “Check this out, mom and dad!” and the Fever survived to take a 1-0 lead.

Seattle enjoyed home court — and the third quarter — and put the Merc in a 0-1 hole.

NEXT!

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From Jayda: Storm celebrates 2010 WNBA championship with Seattle

Storm PG Sue Bird told people this will probably be the year remembered for coach Brian Agler doing the Stanky Legg. Prodded by nearly 5,000 fans gathered at KeyArena on Friday night, he went to halfcourt and did the jig with players Camille Little, Svetlana Abrosimova, Ashley Robinson and Le’coe Willingham, who’s pictured right with G Tanisha Wright spraying champagne in the locker room postgame on Thursday.

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Storm worth watching – Seattle’s WNBA team will impress you — if you give it a chance, writes Aaron Lommers of the Herald.

Forget the stereotypes, set aside the pessimism. If you are a true basketball fan, give this team a legitimate chance. If you do, chances are, you will come away impressed.

Jayda says Seattle’s Swin Cash enjoys that winning feelng again

Swin Cash nearly did a shimmy shake just talking about it.

The past two postseasons for the Seattle Storm have been so awful she had to mentally loosen that web that was trying to entrap her again.

It was absolute foolishness — to twist a favorite phrase of the Storm All-Star.

Mechelle writes, Wright complements Bird in backcourt and asks Will Atlanta’s altered lineup keep working?

Video: Mechelle’s also got some WNBA finals player interviews

The AP’s Vin offers a Capsule for the WNBA finals and, no surprise, Auriemma hopes for quick WNBA finals

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When she’s not bloggin’ she’s Wright-in’. Tanisha Wright has won over Storm fans with improved play

(Sorry. Got a little more sun than I expected today.)

Tanisha Wright? Remember her? The player many fans wanted traded because of her propensity for turnovers, especially in playoff games?

Now fans in KeyArena’s Section 115 join to raise letters spelling her name. Others in Section 128 bring homemade signs. And game operations have to keep New Kids on the Block’s “The Right Stuff” on cue for all the plays Wright has been making lately.

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