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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.

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Do you like the things that life is showin’ you? Where are you goin’ to? Do you know?”

(Sing it, Diana!)

Wondering if the tune is running through some young folks’ heads this morning. Some surprises, switches and a little history in yesterday’s draft. Of course, everyone knows that getting selected it one thing. Snagging a roster spot is totally different. I’m really excited to see how this crop shows up.

Mechelle writes: Storm, Sun, Wings dominate the WNBA draft

The 2016 WNBA draft is in the books, and there wasn’t any enormous or surprising drama. The first round featured the most expected picks, and those players are the ones who have the best chances of making an impact as rookies.

Here are five takeaways from the draft. (Editor’s note: For draft day interviews, please click on each player’s name below.)

Mel: UConn Senior Trio Picked 1-2-3 to Bring Their Rewrite of History to the WNBA Draft

University of Connecticut superstar senior Breanna Stewart was just getting started to respond to questions in the media area here Thursday night as the newly-minted overall No. 1 pick of the WNBA Seattle Storm.
Suddenly a big roar arose from the Mohegan Sun’s actual arena venue where the picks were being announced to the hopefuls, their families and coaches, and to the general public seated in the stands.
It was already known that Moriah Jefferson, one of Stewart’s two Huskies classmates, had quickly followed as the No. 2 pick of the San Antonio Silver Stars, sending the all-American point guard back to her native of Texas.
But the roar could mean only one thing, the confirmation that all-American Morgan Tuck, the third of the specially talented UConn trio involved in the draft, had gone overall No. 3 to the local WNBA Connecticut Sun.

More: WNBA DraftCast: Pick-by-pick analysis and draft board

Swish Appeal: 2016 WNBA Draft takeaways: diversity and promise

Seattle Times: Seattle Storm selects UConn star Breanna Stewart with top pick in WNBA draft

For the Win/USA Today has the Inside Story on the Draft Day Fist Bump

BTW: WNBA’s Seattle Storm, Swedish Medical Center Ink Largest Partnership Deal In Team History

Also, from Fortune: Meet the Former Coca-Cola Exec Now Leading the WNBA

TICHA!! (Podcast) FIT015: WNBA legend Ticha Penicheiro about life as a pro athlete abroad

BASKETBALL: WNBA All-Star, WNBA Champion, EuroLeague and EuroCup Champion, WNBA Top 15 players of all time….the list of Ticha Penicheiro’s successes is endless.  But when you ask her about the highlights of her professional basketball career, she looks back at all the international memories and friendships she has created and maintained over the years. For her, this is what will last way beyond her professional athlete life.

Was just talking about the greatness of this woman: Women’s basketball pioneer Nera White dies at 80

A pioneer of women’s basketball, White was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992.

“Nera White was a true pioneer and trailblazer of the women’s game,” said John L. Doleva, president and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame. “Her skill and athleticism was undoubtedly ahead of her time, and she paved the way for the generations of tremendous female athletes that have followed in her footsteps.”

White also entered the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999 as part of its inaugural induction class.

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at least four or five times: “‘Ware the Wabbits!”

#16 DePaul learned the hard way. It’s the 4th-straight year the Jackrabbits have defeated a Top 25 team.

Have you noticed Oklahoma State is undefeated?  Looking forward to their 12/20 matchup with USF.

Have you noticed #12 Northwestern is undefeated? (Blame Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah) Looking forward to their 12/19 matchup with DePaul.

Have you noticed Oregon is undefeated? (Blame senior Liz Brenner) Looking forward to their 1/2 match up with UCLA.

Southern Miss couldn’t defeat the “other” in-state rival – Mississippi State wins, 78-65.

So, Tennessee visited Maples and it was. not. pretty. Stanford’s balanced attack overwhelms uninspired Lady Vols

 It was a game that was, in many ways, a shell of its former shelf [sic?].

Not just because, for the first time in the 33-year history of the annual matchup, neither Stanford nor Tennessee was ranked in the top 10.

Not because Maples Pavilion, which is historically full to the rafters and rocking when the Lady Vols come to town, was a little more than half full and sufficiently enthusiastic.

But because neither the 14th-ranked Lady Vols nor the 15th-ranked Cardinal look like obvious contenders to be in Indianapolis in April.

The two most storied programs in the history of the game, the standard-bearers in their respective conferences, are looking up at long line of teams with more talent, more potential right now.

Both still have to prove they belong in that line.

Penguins win!

Okay – so New Mexico, which seemed to have taken a half-a-step back this season, toasted Rachel Banham and Minnesota, 72-53. At the Barn. Nice homecoming for Benilde-St. Margaret’s star Khadijah Shumpert.

In other news:

Congrats Connecticut Sun.

Namaste, Ms. January: Briann January promotes basketball in Delhi

Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Erin: Opal and WNBA player Erin Phillips agrees to become Port Adelaide’s first female player

Hello Lady Swish on ESPN! Path of a pioneer: Old Dominion is fourth program to win 1,000 games

The Old Dominion women’s basketball history book is its own “War and Peace,” a thick chronicle about a program that was a pioneer for all of women’s sports. Many of the significant characters — Nancy Lieberman, Marianne Stanley, Anne Donovan and Ticha Penicheiro — still resonate and influence sports in 2015.

Several chapters document a glorious time, recalling national championship victories over coaches such as Pat Summitt, Leon Barmore and Andy Landers. And the plot thickens with the program’s resurgence in 1997, when the southeastern Virginia university — highly regarded for its business, engineering and distance learning programs — reached the Final Four alongside Tennessee and modern-day stalwarts Stanford and Notre Dame.

With Old Dominion’s 83-64 victory at Howard on Tuesday, the team and coach Karen Barefoot added another chapter: The Lady Monarchs became the fourth Division I program to amass 1,000 victories, joining Tennessee, Louisiana Tech and James Madison.

No, really, #ByeGilbert. (I will say it’s funny how some folks recognize how misogynist Arenas’ bile was don’t see how racist that Washington NFL team’s nickname is.)

Florida es mi otra casa, says Leticia Romero

Through basketball, Leticia traveled across the world and into the world of college basketball. However, coming to the United States meant more than a change of scenery or a change of culture—it meant a change to the way she played basketball.

“When I first came, it shocked me the way they played because it’s very physical. We don’t use the contact as much and they play really fast,” Romero said. “I was the type of point guard that came from Europe and our game was running the play and being poised. It took me some time to adjust to be able to run the floor.”

Speaking of Florida: UCF’s Aliyah Gregory gives back in honor of late aunt

Aliyah Gregory was riding the bus home from high school in Tampa when she heard the news. Three hundred miles away in Jacksonville, the day before Gregory’s 15th birthday, her aunt, Nicole Bush, was killed in a domestic violence incident.

“It changed my whole life,” Gregory said. “No longer having someone in your life that you are used to having there. It’s been a big adjustment.”

FiveThirtyEight Podcast: Will UConn’s Dominance Of Women’s Basketball End Anytime Soon?

Speaking of UConn: On the Road Again: UConn Freshman De’Janae Boykin Transferring; Hadn’t Played Because Of Injury

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

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

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

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

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

In other W news:

Sweet turnout for basketball star Stefanie Dolson’s visit home

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

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

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

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

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


Pitt’s Brianna Kiesel ready for her journey in WNBA

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

Blake Dietrick, Wellesley native, takes shot at WNBA

Butler High grad Cierra Burdick’s WNBA dream comes true

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Eric Sexton issues statement on Jody Adams allegations

Former WSU players speak out on abuse allegations

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

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

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Central Michigan de-feathered the Falcons, and the Chippewas move into the MAC semi-finals. They’ll get to face top-seed Toledo, who are sponsoring a road trip: UT to Sponsor Free Student Bus Trip to MAC Women’s Basketball Tournament. In the other bracket, it’ll be the Zips against Ball State.

C-USA is upset city: SMU fell to Knights on a roll: UCF took down the Mustangs, 70-66. Tulsa took down Tulane. UTEP over UAB. ESU was not upset.

Huge upset in the MVC first round: Evansville (7-11 MVC) taken down by Southern Illinois (1-17 MVC) in OT, 83-74.

Mechelle and Michelle discuss which teams helped their stock rise and which teams fell during their conference tournaments.

Hey, ESPN folks! Can I make a suggestion? Put the latest Beth & Debbie podcast on the espnW front page. Sheesh!

Dishin’ and Swishin’ talks bracketology with Charlie.

Creme discusses the birth of bracketology, how he goes about preparing his prognostications, and answers questions that many of you have been wondering about.

Stanford or Duke as a number one, an explanation of “procedural bumps” and bubble ins and outs, mid-majors versus BCS conference selections, building credibility, RPI and previous success impact on seeding and more.

Graham talks Blue Hens: Delaware’s other comeback story – After years of back problems, senior point guard Kayla Miller is at top of her game

The incredulousness in the voice of the Drexel play-by-play announcer grew with each shot that slipped through the net in a January game against Delaware. And not for the reason that might first come to mind with the Blue Hens.

 Elena Delle Donne splitting two defenders and leaning into an 18-footer or drifting backward on the baseline for an unstoppable turnaround elicited only resigned appreciation from the broadcast. People in the Colonial Athletic Association have seen enough of those shots over the past four seasons to last them a lifetime. Opponents just hope to keep her highlights to a minimum, as Drexel mostly did on a day when the All-American scored 24 points.

What left the voice calling the game incredulous were three 3-pointers by Kayla Miller, each field goal coming when her team either trailed or held a lead small enough that it could have been erased by the Dragons in a single possession. This was not, in a performance in which she also finished with seven assists and one turnover in 39 minutes, the Miller that Drexel previously encountered.

Michelle Smith talks Seattle U: Redhawks reach new heights

Since Joan Bonvicini last led a team onto the floor for an NCAA tournament game nine years ago, the coach has experienced pain and frustration, re-evaluation and rebirth.

But all she feels right now, in this moment, is excitement.

“These kids, they respond and they trust me and each other,” Bonvicini said.

Seattle University opened the Western Athletic Conference tournament in Las Veags on Wednesday night as the regular-season champion, playing for its first conference title and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Mechelle also reflects on BG, SD & EDD: Changing the game early on (and ever since)

Like most folks who follow women’s basketball, I’d seen YouTube videos of Brittney Griner as a high school player dunking. But the first in-person view came at Tennessee’s Thompson-Boling Arena in November 2009, where “the kid” gave a good indication that the hype was worth it.

She scored 15 points in Baylor’s 74-65 loss. There were no dunks, but Griner’s impact was felt immediately. 

“Have you ever watched a game where Pat Summitt played only two possessions of man-to-man defense?” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said after that nationally televised contest. “People ask, ‘Is Brittney Griner going to change the game of women’s basketball?’ Well, you saw it change today. Did you ever think you’d see the day Tennessee would zone somebody like that?”

Mechelle chatted:

Chase (Maine): With all the recent trades, acquisitions, and signings in the WNBA, I have to admit that I am excited about the Tulsa Shock and their prospects for a more competitive 2013 season. Do you believe that Nicole Powell and Candice Wiggins can go back to their play of seasons past and be a tandem of go-to scorers that the Shock so desperately need? Or is consistency going to be a problem? Both players are quite streaky, so that is my main concern. How does the almost certain addition of Skylar Diggins help bolster this team? I can imagine she and Wiggins will be a nightmare for opposing guards on the defensive end!

Mechelle Voepel: Especially with the news that Sue Bird is not playing this summer, there is more reason for Tulsa to be excited. Right now, it’s hard to expect much from the Storm. Now, we could be surprised, but there are teams like the Storm and SASS that have injury woes going into this season. They are not as strong as they could be. And that does potentially leave some daylight for Tulsa. It’s unfortunate for the league and for those franchises that star players are hurt. But sometimes other teams’ bad luck becomes a previously struggling team’s opening.

Maggie Lucas blogs: We’re looking forward to March Madness

At Full Court:

Lady Vol Taber Spani talks homeschool basketball and recruiting

Bubble Wrap 2013: Final wrap

Sue says: Stanford wins Pac 12, but looks vulnerable heading to NCAAs

Things went pretty much according to script in the Pac 12 Tournament except for one major casting change: instead of Stanford and Cal duking it out for the championship, it was the Cardinal and UCLA.

It was one of the best title games in years.

Clay says: It’s time to give Baylor some love

Haters gonna hate.

They’re going to hate Brittney Griner, just like they hated Wilt Chamberlain, just like they hated Shaquille O’Neal, just like they hated all the great post players.

They’re going to hate Baylor, for its athletes and its attitude, for winning three straight Big 12 titles, for going 127-16 in the Griner years.

They’re going to hate Kim Mulkey, for screaming at her assistant coaches when her players screw up, for screaming at the officials when she’s up 35, for wearing some of the weirdest outfits ever to grace a basketball sideline.

Haters, sadly, are going to hate.

Mike says: The SEC Seven Owns NCAA Selection Monday

In W news, Ruthie and Ticha mean Ailene Voisin is back talking women’s basketball: Former Monarchs rally for support of WNBA team returning to Sacramento

Finally, a little reflection on officiating.

If you follow the gentlemen, you know there was some excitement at the end of the Charlotte/Richmond game. Some fouls, some technicals, and suddenly the 49ers move on. Coaches (as in the losing one) are upset wondering about officials “deciding the game.” Officials are discussing the calls (You don’t have that choice if you follow the rules. Once the ball goes through the hoop, it is dead and you cannot call a personal foul for contact during a dead ball period. It was too much to ignore so it had to be a T.).

My two cents:

1) Listen to the Caterpillar, Alice: “Keep your temper.”

2) If you don’t want officials to “decide” a game, simply take them off the court in the last two minutes. ’cause isn’t that what folks want? Ignore the rules, “let it go,” “you don’t make that call in the last minute,” etc. Shall we agree that, in the last two minutes, anything goes? ’cause, if we do that, no one will be upset with the results, right?

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Playoff time.

But first, it’s PING PONG time! Says Mechelle: Draft lottery will be ‘game-changer’

There have been much anticipated drafts in the WNBA before, but likely not one that will prompt quite as much chatter as that which will take place next April. That’s because there are three marquee seniors with very different games — Baylor’s Brittney Griner, Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne and Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins — who will bring not just talent, but a kind of “presence” to the league next year. Or at least, that’s what is hoped for from them.

Whoever’s picked 1, 2 or 3 will have a chance to sit with their future team and watch the WNBA playoffs where, no surprise: Lynx are heavy playoff favorites – Defending champion Minnesota leads the way as the playoffs open Thursday

How big a favorite is Minnesota to repeat as WNBA champion? Let’s put it this way: After finishing first in the Western Conference again with the league’s best record, the Lynx are very, very hard to pick against.

With two MVP candidates in Olympians Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus, a third London Games gold medalist in point guard Lindsay Whalen, an experienced front line and a bench that understands and fulfills its role … there isn’t a weak spot to attack when facing Minnesota.

Michelle has some previews:

Storm face uphill climb against Lynx: Best-of-three series opens in Minnesota on Friday (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET)

Silver Stars cooling at wrong time – Best-of-three series opens in Los Angeles on Thursday (ESPN2, 10 p.m. ET)

(We know this) Liberty have no answer for Charles

Defense will determine East semifinal – Best-of-three series opens in Indiana on Friday (ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET)

Mi & Me do a little preview video.

From the players:

Becky Hammon: A shot I’ll never forget

Sue Bird: Handing out some awards

Lindsay Whalen: Nothing compares to a title

Other stuff:

Jayda gets busy:  WNBA Talk: Catching up with former Storm player Swin Cash and My WNBA Ballot for the 2012 Regular-Season Awards

Oh, and echoing Jayda’s tweet: Why does someone who “doesn’t like” and “doesn’t watch” the WNBA have a place at the espnW roundtable? Tina Charles the MVP favorite. I’m awaiting the call from ESPN to sit and discuss the NBA’s MVP….

From Jerry Brewer at the Seattle Times: Eye of the Storm: Can women’s professional basketball succeed on and off the court in Seattle?

Ginny Gilder points to a dry-erase board in her South Lake Union Office. A handwritten note best explains her challenging life as a WNBA owner.

Defiant, not defeated

The best doesn’t come easy,

that’s why there’s nothing like it

Professional sports owners are commonly perceived to be rich white men who desire a toy, and that stereotype is often reflected in the erratic way they run franchises. But owning the Seattle Storm, in a 16-year-old women’s sports league still establishing itself, is neither a luxury nor a hobby. It’s an assignment, and sometimes a burden.

From the Sacto Bee: Leading off: Ex-Monarch Penicheiro left her mark on the WNBA

Ticha Penicheiro, the former Monarchs star who retires after tonight’s WNBA game between the Washington Mystics and her Chicago Sky (5 p.m., NBA), said the decision was easy.

She’s 38 years old, and she’s been bothered throughout her final season by sore hamstrings, sore Achilles’ tendons and more sore body parts than she can count.

“I’m like an old car,” Penicheiro said in a quick phone chat Friday. “Too many miles.”

From Phoenix Center Krystal Thomas: What My Mom Taught Me

Achieving my dreams has not come easily. When I was 11 years old, my life took a turn that seemed to put everything on hold. My father was incarcerated and sentenced to 7 years in prison. A few months later, my mother was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. I have four younger siblings, and as all of the trials occurred, my life as a “normal” teenager changed. My role at home shifted and my responsibilities became enormous. My mother battled with breast cancer for 5 years, until she passed away in January of 2006.

My mother was a huge influence in my life. She challenged me to be the best person that I could be, and she never let me give in to the failures and disappointments that life brings. She helped raise me to be the person that I am today, and I thank God everyday for that. After she passed away, I had two choices: throw my dreams aside, or keep chasing them no matter the consequence. I chose the latter, and repeated the words that my mother preached to me each day to conquer my dreams.

 Swish Appeal has a new look, but still has lots of info.

The 1996-97 ABL Players: Where Are They Now?

Indiana Fever’s January And Zellous Still Out

Kara Lawson’s Take On Top Prospect Brittney Griner

Sixth Woman: Second Round Picks Head The List

Who isn’t the WNBA MVP?

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I’ve spent the entire season warning folks about Tulsa. (The Shock want wins now, not lottery balls later) I think I made the prediction somewhere that they could win 8 or so games this season. They hit 9 Ws with their 12-point stompin’ of New York. Eric Woodyard writes: Flint native Kayla Pedersen learns pro basketball’s mental aspect in second WNBA season with Tulsa Shock

Luckily for the Lib, the Sky continued their disappointing season, losing to the Dream, this eliminating themselves from the playoffs and giving NY the fourth spot in the East.

So, with the post-season looming, it’s time to rank your WNBA Playoff teams.

BTW, I’m not makin’ much of the Sparks’ win over Minny, are you? Michelle is.

BTW: WNBA star Maya Moore lit up President Barack Obama on basketball court

The Star asks, Can Tamika Catchings repeat as WNBA’s Most Valuable Player? Nate makes The Case For Tamika Catchings As 2012 WNBA MVP – Swish Appeal. At Full Court: Who’s best in the WNBA: It’s tough to argue with this surprising statistic

Since the first time I watched Ticha, I loved her game. She’s a better person, and the league will miss her enthusiasm and professionalism. From Nate: Ticha Penicheiro’s Retirement Marks The End Of A WNBA Point Guard Era

From Mechelle: Ticha Penicheiro ready to retire

The career timing was right for us to know Ticha, and we’re lucky for that. Penicheiro turned 38 on Tuesday, and we’ve watched her early years, her peak years, her experienced years, and her golden years as an athlete.

She came to the United States from her home in Portugal, and was key in revitalizing Old Dominion’s program from 1994-98. That, in itself, is an important contribution to women’s hoops history.

In 1997, she played in what’s still one of the most emotionally charged games I’ve ever covered. No offense to Tennessee, which won the NCAA title that year, but the ODU-Stanford semifinal “felt” like the national championship game. It was drenched in big personalities, high hopes, longtime dreams, and a desperate quest for a happy ending. (Which, when that Final Four was all over, neither team got.)

Both ODU and Stanford played their hearts out that night. Penicheiro’s “flying sideways” layup early on set a tone that something epic was happening; it was one of those games in which the air feels as if it’s carrying the electricity of athletic passion. You knew whichever team won would be euphoric afterward, and whichever lost would be sobbing uncontrollably. And that’s how it played out.

How much longer will we have the Warrior Princess to kick around? As season winds down, Tina Thompson the first to 7,000 points

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