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FIRST, it’s the WNIT

Great crowd came out to support (CUSA) UTEP and the Miners did not disappoint. Their 79-71, over (Big 12) TCU sets up a quarterfinal game against Oregon.

For 11 scary minutes Thursday night, a red-hot TCU team looked as though it might run the UTEP women’s basketball team right out of the Don Haskins Center in the third round of the WNIT.

There were two groups of people who had no intention of letting that happen: the Miner players and 7,024 screaming fans.

The Owls (American) topped the Bobcats (MAC), 75-61. Michigan is up next for Temple.

It was a bitter taste, once again for the Bobcats. 

Ohio didn’t anticipate the outcome of its postseason. It didn’t expect to lose to Buffalo in the Mid-American Conference Tournament. It didn’t expect to play in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT). It didn’t expect to make it to the Sweet Sixteen round of the WNIT. 

And going into today, Ohio didn’t expect to lose to Temple, 75-61. But Thursday night in Philadelphia, the Bobcats did.

Northern Iowa (MVC) and South Dakota (Summit)  battled quarter to quarter. It was the Coyotes who grabbed the 1-point win, 51-50. They await the winners of the Hilltoppers/Billikens game.

The theory being thrown around in the University of South Dakota locker room on Thursday night was that the DakotaDome does not want to see these ladies leave the house just yet.

On Sunday night the Coyote women’s basketball team will play what is technically the fourth last basketball game in DakotaDome history this season. It is so because USD defeated Northern Iowa 51-50 to move into the quarterfinals of the WNIT.

The Coyotes added UNI to a list that included Creighton and Minnesota with a victory that had 14 lead changes. The increasingly rare movements on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter were fueled almost exclusively by scrappiness and a fully engaged home crowd.

NCAA: Wow, those blowouts on the men’s side really hurt the game…

SI Richard’s picks: Women’s NCAA tournament Sweet 16 preview & picks

We have reached the Sweet 16 stage of the women’s tournament, and predictably, all of the No. 1 seeds remain alive. But the opening rounds did see a pair of No. 2s—Maryland and Arizona State—get knocked off on their home courts by plucky No. 7 seeds (Washington and Tennessee). The conferences expected to do well have been successful: The Pac-12, the No. 1 RPI conference all season, has four teams (Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, Washington) in the Sweet 16 for the first time in tournament history. The SEC, the No. 2 RPI conference, also has four teams alive, including Kentucky, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Tennessee. Three teams (Florida State, Notre Dame and Syracuse) represent the ACC (No. 4 RPI). The pre-tournament prediction of all four No. 1 seeds landing in Indianapolis stands, but let’s take a look at the upcoming games.

UConn Isn’t The Only Storyline; Assessing The Women’s Bracket And Sweet 16

Bad timing: You’ve got to give Texas A&M coach Gary Blair credit. He could have taken the easy way out and not suspended senior forward Courtney Williams, A&M’s second-leading scorer, and reserve guard Shlonte Allen for an undisclosed violation of team rules the day of the Aggies’ first-round game against Missouri State. They remained suspended and the Aggies lost 74-56 on Monday to Florida State.

Syracuse v. South Carolina

SU must prepare for South Carolina’s Dawn Staley effect

She’s very much aware of life’s little blessings, but there is a huge one out there … and Tammi Reiss is only too happy to acknowledge it.

“I’m just going to say this now because our kids have no idea,” she declared earlier this week. “But as far as Dawn goes, thank God she won’t be on the court. Thank God she’s not playing.”Nurse In A Good Place At The Right Time For Huskies By Rich Elliott

Reiss, the Syracuse University assistant — the one with the hair and the wardrobe, which makes her distinguishable from her boss, Quentin Hillsman, who only has the wardrobe — was speaking of Dawn Staley.

Or, as Reiss describes her, “The greatest point guard of all time. Period.”

Dawn Staley credits Syracuse women’s basketball coach for ‘staying the course’

Staley, an all-time great player at Virginia, credited him for taking a more long-lasting approach toward improvement instead of looking for quick fixes.

“I think for anyone that’s playing this game the sky is the limit. When you do things the right way, you open up doors that historically were closed to the upper echelon of programs,” said Staley, in her eighth season at South Carolina. “I think Q’s done a great job at staying the course. And that’s what you must do.

Syracuse women’s basketball writing own story, but what ending awaits?

Unflappable South Carolina will feel the heat of Syracuse women’s basketball press

2. Washington v. Kentucky

Kentucky will have its hands full with Washington’s Kelsey Plum

Not once this season has Kelsey Plum been held to single digits.

It’s rare that the nation’s third-leading scorer has even been held in the teens.

Opponent after opponent has tried — and failed — to stop Washington’s 5-foot-8 junior scoring dynamo.

3. Stanford v. Notre Dame

Notre Dame, Stanford women facing off in Sweet 16 again

Notre Dame and Stanford aren’t looking at Friday’s game as a rematch, even though they’re meeting in an NCAA women’s regional semifinal for the second straight season.

 Both teams say their rosters have changed since their last matchup, making it hard to read too much into Notre Dame’s 81-60 victory in the 2015 Oklahoma City Regional semifinal. They’ll meet again Friday in the Lexington Regional semifinal. 

“I think we’re both kind of two different teams,” Notre Dame guard Lindsay Allen said.

Numbers tell story of Notre Dame’s hoops journey

Numbers can portray a telling — even compelling story.

And looking at the numbers, the Notre Dame women’s basketball team should be considered a heavy favorite to win this weekend’s NCAA regional at Lexington, Ky.

 Notre Dame presents major obstacle for Stanford women in Sweet 16

If UConn didn’t exist, maybe the women’s college basketball world would be wondering: Can anybody stop Notre Dame?

The past two seasons, the Irish lost in the NCAA final to the Huskies, and most observers expect the same matchup in this year’s championship game in Indianapolis. The Irish, who won the national title in 2001, also reached the final in 2011 and ’12, losing to Texas A&M and Baylor, respectively.

 Fourth-seeded Stanford would love to throw a wrench into the works for the top-seeded Irish when they meet Friday night in the Lexington, Ky., Regional semifinals.

 Australian basketballer Alanna Smith out for NCAA Tournament success with Stanford

Pac-12 living up to its billing in NCAA women’s tournament

Throughout the season, the metrics kept saying the Pac-12 Conference was the best in the country.

When it came time to back it up in the NCAA Tournament, the Pac-12 delivered. 

Pac-12 teams will make up 25 percent of the Sweet 16 when the women’s regional semifinals get started Friday. No. 2 seed Oregon State, No. 3 seed UCLA, No. 4 seed Stanford and No. 7 seed Washington all advanced through the first weekend of the tournament, giving the Pac-12 four teams in the final 16 for the first time in conference history. The league had never advanced more than three teams beyond the first weekend.

4. Tennessee v. Ohio State

AP: Tennessee-Ohio St. Preview

The Lady Vols plan to throw different defensive looks at Mitchell and guard her ”by committee,” coach Holly Warlick said.

”If she gets close to the bench, I’m going to maybe trip her, I’m not sure,” she said, smiling. ”No, I watched her in high school. She’s got a great gift. She knows the game. The ball is a part of her hand. I haven’t seen too many, male or female, come around like her.”

Women’s basketball | Cait Craft’s injury forces Buckeyes to adjust

Another body blow took the breath away from the Ohio State women’s basketball team on the eve of their NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 matchup tonight against Tennessee.

Senior guard Cait Craft suffered a broken left hand in practice this week, which ended her career with the third-seeded and already short-handed Buckeyes.

“Freak thing,” coach Kevin McGuff said. “I really feel badly for her. She is such a great kid, and as a senior, she has put so much into getting us to this point it’s really disappointing for her that she can’t play. It’s a tough break, but it’s ‘next-person-up.’ ”

Ohio State is last Big Ten team standing

Guarding Mitchell will be a full-time, full-team job

Tennessee didn’t need a detailed scouting report to reveal the biggest problem Ohio State will present in Friday night’s Sweet 16 of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament. It’s as obvious as Kelsey Mitchell’s stat line.

The Buckeyes 5-foot-8 sophomore guard is averaging 26.3 points per game, has made 40.3 percent of her 308 3-point attempts and has hit 84.6 percent of her free throws.

The stat line becomes even more troublesome for Tennessee when it checks the rearview mirror. As well as its defense has played overall this season, it has been victimized by outstanding individual performances in a number of its losses.

5. Texas v. UCLA

No. 3 UCLA Faces No. 2 Texas

Imani Boyette, Tina Thompson have helped each other blossom this year

Tina Thompson considers Imani Boyette one of the most complex basketball players she has ever met.

Thompson, the former WNBA star who’s in her first season as a Texas assistant coach, casts a large shadow, even over Boyette, the Longhorns’ 6-foot-7 center. In turn, Boyette admits she challenges any coach aspiring to teach her the game. Yet their bond is sealed with mutual respect.

Pac-12 Postseason Storylines: Teams in Sweet 16 mindset

6. Florida State v. Baylor

 Florida State women look to make good on president’s pick

FSU women’s basketball heads to Dallas for Sweet 16 date with Baylor

There’s a different vibe surrounding Florida State’s women’s basketball team.

Head coach Sue Semrau knows it.

The Seminoles (25-7) went into College Station, Texas, and – after shaking off some rust against Middle Tennessee – dominated host Texas A&M in a 74-56 second-round victory. Semrau said she saw a new fire in the eyes of her players when the Seminoles hammered the Aggies.

Baylor knows it won’t be easy, but Bears have motto to motivate getting past Elite Eight

The green wristbands have become a standard wardrobe accessory for the Baylor women’s basketball team.

“Eight is Not Enough” reads the team motto selected by coach Kim Mulkey, a pointed, painful reminder of consecutive NCAA tournament losses in the regional finals, a.k.a. the Elite Eight.

Lady Bears’ success against ranked rivals helps pursuit of championship

7. DePaul v. Oregon State

OSU women’s basketball: Beavers turn attention to DePaul

Sneak peek at DePaul, Oregon State’s Sweet 16 opponent

DePaul travels to Dallas to face Oregon State in Sweet Sixteen

DePaul takes aim at elusive Elite Eight berth

If his career ended today, Doug Bruno would still go down as one of the greatest women’s basketball coaches of all time.

Since he was named head coach at his alma mater in 1976, Bruno has led DePaul to 21 NCAA tournament appearances, including 14 in a row.

On Sunday, the Blue Demons earned a spot in the Sweet Sixteen for just the fourth time in program history after upsetting Louisville 73-72 on their home court.

It’s an enormous feat, but one more win would mark an historic occasion – DePaul’s first ever berth in the Elite Eight.

8. Connecticut v. Mississippi State

MSU next in line to challenge UConn’s 71-game streak

COLUMN: Mississippi State women face unstoppable UConn

Basketball Hall of Fame coach Van Chancellor drawls on and on in superlatives when asked about Geno Auriemma and his Connecticut women’s basketball juggernaut.

Hey, Van, is UConn the most dominant team in sports today?

“Ain’t no question about it,” Chancellor says, by telephone from his Houston home. “There’s nobody else today to compare ’em to. I’d have to go back to the 1927 New York Yankees or John Wooden’s great men’s team at UCLA. That’s how good they are. They are so much better than everyone else in the sport.

The Lady Bulldogs of Mississippi State will take on three time defending champion UCONN in the round of sixteen.

Bulldogs to Face Juggernaut Connecticut in the Sweet Sixteen

Nurse In A Good Place At The Right Time For Huskies

Sophomore guard Kia Nurse underwent her own battle last month. Her focus was not in the right place in a team-first system. It was on scoring. And when she suffered through a scoreless outing at Tulane Feb. 3, her reaction was unexpected for a player wearing a UConn uniform.

“We’re trying to teach our players to kind of act your age,’’ UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “Like when you’re 15 don’t walk around and act like you’re 20. And when you’re 20 don’t act like you’re 15. So in that Tulane game she acted like a junior high kid. It was embarrassing. Because she shot the ball poorly she became a mess on the bench and everybody saw it. It’s not how you act at Connecticut. And I think it hit her pretty good.’’

Why UCONN Is Most Underappreciated Team In Sports 

The best thing going in basketball isn’t North Carolina or Kansas or Virginia or Michigan State. It’s not even Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, at least for the next couple of weeks.

I’ve lost you already, haven’t I? You’re thinking this must be a joke. Or maybe it’s a trick question.

What could possibly be better than all of that?

How about this: A team that’s too good for its own good. A team so untouchable that we take its success for granted.  A team that has no peer or rival, which ends up making it less interesting to the masses.

The Women’s Beat with Bob Joyce: Sweet 16 To Bridgeport

WNBA: Skylar Diggins talks recovery from injury, move to Dallas in Twitter Q&A

Women’s Basketball History! Denver producing documentary on Wayland Baptist’s women’s basketball team

The legendary women’s basketball team at Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas, is the focus of a documentary film being produced in Denver. And the Flying Queens are candidates for team induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, with voting Friday and an announcement to be made at the Final Four next week.

Alice “Cookie” Barron and Kaye Garms, teammates with the Flying Queens at a time when they were on their way to a 131-game winning streak, are ecstatic over learning their place as pioneers in women’s basketball hasn’t been forgotten.

“It’s wonderful that they are looking back into the history of women’s college basketball,” Barron said.

Not off topic: The NBA Needs to Move the 2017 All-Star Game From Charlotte. Now. Commissioner Adam Silver has a chance to lead on challenging an ugly piece of discriminatory legislation. Judging by his own words, it’s past time for him to do so.

The 2017 NBA All-Star Game is due to be held in Charlotte, North Carolina. Silver should announce as soon as possible that this game needs to be moved unless the state legislature overturns its new law set to go in effect April 1 “blocking local governments from passing anti-discrimination rules to grant protections to gay and transgender people.”

The law was passed as a direct response to the City of Charlotte for passing an ordinance to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people from being discriminated against by businesses. Outrageously, the North Carolina legislature scheduled an extraordinary special session—the first time they have done so in 35 years—to annul the Charlotte ordinance before it went into effect. It’s remarkable how quickly lawmakers leap to actually do their jobs when the work involves stripping people of their rights. It is also stunning how all of the Dixie paeans to local control and states’ rights go out the window when it comes to issues such as these.

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(Becomes Monday! Monday! Monday! – and I’m home again Finnegan…)

But it was Saturday that saw some surprises.

Just as I say something nice about #17 Oklahoma State, they get upset by TCU, 79-65.

Just as I say something nice about Central Michigan, they meet challenger Toledo and lose, 81-79.

Penguins forget how to score and get upset by Cleveland State, 53-43.

Hampton got upset by Coppin State , which hurts their MEAC regular season championship prospects.

Crusin’ Mercer got crushed by Chattanooga, 67-43.

Southern squeaks by SWAC title challenger Alabama State, 57-55.

Costal Carolina (5-11, Big South) snuffed the Flames, 58-61. First time since February 19, 1996.

In the battle of South Dakota, it was a wild fourth quarter by both teams. Coyotes take down the Jackrabbits, 80-71, and have their eye on the regular season prize.

In the battle of Montana, the Griz upset the Bobcats, 70-66.

Who misses Ms. Jones? George Washington. They fall to VCU, 79-68.

(Now ranked) Colorado State needed a big fourth quarter to overcome Wyoming, and stay perfect in the Mountain West, 62-57.

Always keepin’ it interesting in the WCC: Pacific surprises Gonzaga in OT, 84-83. And BYU women’s basketball wins its first WCC regular-season championship

Tennessee-Martin makes a statement about who rules the OVC, stifling SIU-Edwardsville, 86-50.

Charlotte built a nice lead and held on to upset the Hilltoppers, 81-72.

They went back and forth by quarters, but it was UC Riverside that ended up with the win over UC Davis. The Highlanders are now 12-0 in the Big West.

If UC Riverside’s women’s basketball Highlanders pull this off, it’s going to be quite the narrative. Not sure if you could sell it as a movie script, although it certainly seemed to work in “Hoosiers.”

UCR remains undefeated in the Big West, running its record to 11-0 in conference and 18-7 overall following an 83-58 thumping of Long Beach State Thursday evening at the Rec Center.

The Highlanders did so with seven available players.

While I was working my way home, Sunday happened. All the ranked teams pretty much held serve, except

…for that pesky Florida. Nice win for Joni Taylor and Georgia, but what is up with the Gators?

..and #24 Tennessee. The Vols have a habit of snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory. This time, LSU was the beneficiary. The loss meant Tennessee dropped out of the polls for the first time in forever. Mechelle says Tennessee must focus on present, and future

The juxtaposition of so much going right for the Huskies and the difficulties facing the Lady Vols is an unpleasant thing for Tennessee fans. There is no other way to put it. There was a time not so long ago when UConn and Tennessee were both ahead of the rest of women’s basketball.

Since Tennessee ended the series after the 2007 season, the two programs haven’t met. Tennessee won its eighth title in 2008, but hasn’t been back to the Women’s Final Four since. UConn hasn’t missed a Final Four since 2007.

Alas, what Tennessee has to do now, though, is focus on trying to play as well as possible for the two games left in the regular season, the SEC tournament, and the NCAA tournament, which they still are projected to make.

Rachel B proves it wasn’t a fluke, going for 52  (and Kobe liked it) but, unfortunately, in a losing cause. Likely we won’t see her in the NCAA tournament… unless the Gophers can pull off the huge Big 10 Conference Championship upset.

It’s a tough year to be a Tar Heel fan…

Speaking of which, it’s been a tough year to be a Blue Devil fan…

Ouch. Butler upsets St. John’s, 62-58.

Double ouch. That was a disappointing Pac-12 season for Cal.

Squeak! Abilene Christian escaped Southeastern Louisiana (4-21, 3-11), 72-70.

In other news:

Out of Austin, THIS WNBA LEGEND MAY BE THE KEY TO THE TEXAS WOMEN’S HOOP DREAMS

Salt Lake: Utah women’s basketball: Dani Rodriguez always willing to assist

A story leaps to mind for Cynthia Rodriguez of her daughter, Dani, finding $30 on the ground at a market near their Downey, Calif., home.

To a third-grader, that’s a fortune, so she kept the cash close. But the next day at the same market, a woman was begging for money.

Dani, in her youthful wisdom, gave her fortune away.

“I asked her why she gave the money to that woman, and she said, ‘I found it it, and I didn’t need it,’ ” Cynthia recalled of their conversation afterward. ” ‘She needed it more than I did.’ “

As a senior point guard, Danielle Rodriguez’s capacity to give to others is tallied up: She’s dished out 429 assists in her career, the fifth-most in school history. But many of her good works off the court are being brought to light as she’s one of 10 women’s basketball players named to the AllState WBCA Good Works Team, which highlights the community service of student-athletes.

Columbus: Ohio State seniors face final home game

The instant that Cait Craft cut to the basket on Thursday night in Value City Arena, Ameryst Alston delivered a bounce pass in traffic so seamlessly that the two Ohio State senior guards appeared connected by some second sense.

The assist and the layup became a sentence within a paragraph of a story four seasons in the writing, and explained why each would describe her feelings as “bittersweet” heading into the pair’s final home game with the Buckeyes today against Illinois.

“It went by so fast,” Alston said. “I tell the young ones, enjoy the moment because it goes by so fast.”

Norman: OU women’s basketball: Sherri Coale talks about the consistency problem

Tallahassee: Brothers’ deaths helped shape Florida State’s Adut Bulgak

Adut Bulgak has the name of her late brothers — Deng Atem and Bul Atem — on each shoe.

The 6-foot-4 center for No. 10 Florida State is one of the top seniors in women’s college basketball, averaging 13.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. She will graduate in May with a degree in sociology, likely be selected in the WNBA Draft and try out for a spot on the Canadian Olympic team.

For some, that much going on could be overwhelming, but not for the 23-year-old.

“I built a tougher mentality because I had some terrible things happen to me just like other people have,” she said.

Were you wondering What To Expect When USA Basketball Trains This Week In Storrs? How about Sights and Sounds from Day 1 of #USABWNT Training Camp

Or the 20th season of the W: Refreshed, stronger Diana Taurasi still at the peak of her profession

The shorthand way of describing why Diana Taurasi did not play the 2015 WNBA season for Phoenix was that she took off the summer to rest.

Except that’s not exactly what happened.

“I did three months of heavy working out in the summer, Monday through Friday, just weekends off,” Taurasi said Sunday at the first day of USA Basketball’s national team training camp. “I didn’t necessarily take any basketball time off. But I got to work on things I needed to work on, strength-wise, stability-wise.”

In other words, last summer wasn’t about just taking a breather and texting snarky comments to motivate Mercury teammate Brittney Griner (although she did both).

Good news: Being an athlete helps Chameka Scott, Tiffany Jackson-Jones in their battles with cancer

 

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Which was the theme from last night’s Sun-Mercury game. What on earth is going on with Phoenix? How on earth could the game against a thoroughly depleted Connecticut have been so close? And, really, what amazing heart have the Connecticut players shown this year? No quit. Has anyone done more with less than Donovan? On the bright side: Who are the WNBA front-runners in Breanna Stewart sweepstakes?

Speakin’ of the Merc: Obama Trash-Talks Phoenix Over Beating Chicago Sky in WNBA Finals

Speakin’ of doing more with less: Playoff berth within reach for Vicki Baugh, Shock as Los Angeles Sparks visit

So, tonight the Garden hosts the two top seeds: Minnesota and *gulp* New York. Seems to me the storylines are: Are the Lib legit and are the Lynx Losin’ it?

Considering the Lynx (19-9) will enter Friday’s game at New York with the best record in the league, one could say that their issues are the equivalent of “first-world problems.” But there are reasonable concerns. When a team knows how good it can play and then falls short of that a few times, there is bound to be a little worry.

From the New York Post: Lots at stake when Liberty give MSG possible WNBA Finals preview

Who says Madison Square Garden goes dark in the summer?

On Friday night (7:30; MSG), the Garden will host a possible WNBA Finals preview, when the Eastern Conference-leading Liberty meet the Minnesota Lynx — the top team in the West — in a pivotal game considering how narrow New York’s lead is in the East.

From Doug: New York and Minnesota set for matchup of WNBA Conference leaders

Bill Laimbeer and Cheryl Reeve are downplaying the significance of Friday night’s game between the WNBA’s conference leaders.

As Minnesota’s coach put it, “it’s a chance to add another ‘W’ in the win column. There’s no championship being won. It’s just a chance to get better.”

Laimbeer also said that there’s no added meaning to the game besides a chance to further distance New York from the rest of the East.

“Every game is important this time of year,” the Liberty coach said.

It almost sounds as if the two longtime friends coordinated their answers.

From Hardwood Paroxysm: How the New York Liberty Became the WNBA’s Best Defense

Swish Appeal: What is the secret to the Liberty’s staggering success?

BTW: Be sure to follow  and tonight during vs. , when will be live from MSG.

.com: How Elena Delle Donne’s Spectacular 2015 Season Stacks Up in WNBA History

From USAToday: Meet the secret to Elena Delle Donne’s success

When Cappie Pondexter arrived at the Chicago Sky through an offseason trade, she didn’t only bring a veteran scorer who is deadly when given half a step to drive into the lane. She brought a new element to third-year star Elena Delle Donne’s game: A voice that’s in the WNBA MVP candidate’s ear – all of the time.

The voice is telling her to be there on help-side defense. To get a rebound and go and attack. The voice even provides in-game tips, like telling Delle Donne to use her pull-up jumper when she’s not getting calls at the rim.

From the San Antonio Current: Stars Guard Jia Perkins On Being A Baller – And Pro Mom 

It was clear early on that Jia Perkins would make her life all about basketball.

And after turning into a well-respected player at one the country’s women’s basketball powerhouse college teams, her chances to go pro looked real good.

Then, in her senior year, she got pregnant.

In her mind, the news surely meant that those chances of making it in the Women’s National Basketball League had dramatically dwindled. At best, she thought, she’d have to search out teams later for tryouts.

But it never came to that.

Swish Appeal: A Life Inspired: Jessica Breland’s heart-stirring ascension

ESPN: DeLisha Milton-Jones hits milestone, ready for more and the AJC:Milton-Jones ties mark as Dream win

DeLisha Milton-Jones has seen a lot in her 17 seasons in the WNBA. If the Dream keep playing the way they did in Tuesday’s 71-57 victory over Connecticut, she thinks they can make a push for the playoffs.

“We have the talent, we can score with anybody in this league,” said Jones, who tied Tina Thompson’s record Tuesday with her 496th appearance in a WNBA game. “When we execute our offense and hunker down defensively and execute our game plan, we have a very good chance of putting ourselves in position to have a playoff push.”

Ad on: The Iron Woman

With the exception of time off due to injuries—knee in 2004 and Achilles tendon in 2014—Milton-Jones has been a WNBA mainstay for 16 years.

“It takes a completely dedicated commitment to keeping yourself healthy and staying in optimal shape and having a huge passion to improve upon yourself every off season,” she says. “I don’t know if many people are committed to making that type of sacrifice.

.com: White’s Steady Leadership Guides Fever into WNBA Spotlight

White, who spent five seasons as a Fever player and eight years as a WNBA assistant, is expected to be a solid candidate for league Coach of the Year honors.

“If she’s not, I think people are undervaluing what she’s done here,” said Kelly Krauskopf, the Fever’s president and general manager. “I think what she has done is a phenomenal job for a first-year pro coach with a lot of high expectations.”

Speaking’ with Steph: Dishin & Swishin Podcast: White has Indiana in great position for a deep playoff run

Rob Knox: Chicago Rookie Betnijah Laney Out of Rutgers Enjoys Being a Student of the Game

Today’s Fast Break has their WNBA Hidden Gems: Impact 2nd-Round Picks in 2015

The second round of the WNBA Draft is what separates the die-hards from the casuals. With most of the superstar talent almost certainly off the board by the 13th pick, this is where WNBA GMs show what they’re made of. It’s also where avid fans of both the college and professional game eagerly comb through possible “sleeper picks,” hoping that their team will pick up an overlooked player who will blossom into a star.

There’s good reason for this. Going back as far as 2010, at least three players selected in the second round of each draft are still on a WNBA roster. Of those players, six have become All-Stars, and we’ll likely be seeing a pair of All-WNBA selections in Emma Meesseman and Alex Bentley (2013 draft) sooner rather than later.

While the 2015 WNBA Draft was predicted by analysts to be weaker than some of its predecessors, a case can be made that its talent was simply more spread out. Even though none of this year’s second-round picks have put up eye-popping per-game statistics, several of them have still made valuable contributions in their rookie seasons, and will now look to stick around and establish themselves as household names among the more casual WNBA fans. Let’s take a look at a group of 2015’s second-rounders who’ve made an impact this season.

NCAA:

Happy thoughts in Austin: With former Olympian as new assistant coach, Texas women’s basketball poses serious threat

South Carolina: Sarah Imovbioh wants to be a part of something special at USC

Kevin Slaughter and Will Griffin crossed paths due to basketball and their love for impacting kids in their respective communities. Slaughter, a proud South Philadelphian and former high school basketball standout, has been connected to the sport for years.

Griffin, a West Philadelphia native, is well known throughout the community for his work, specifically at Lea Cultural Recreation Center adjacent to Drexel University’s athletic fields.

Unfortunately, basketball is not the only thing that bonds to the two. Through their own personal encounters with tragedy, Slaughter and Griffin have been inspired to ensure the lives of their relatives are honored, using basketball as the means to celebrate and create awareness.

New Jersey: Life of Nazerah Bugg Remembered through Basketball Tournament

The first annual Nazerah’s Hoop Dreams All Girls Basketball Tournament held over the past weekend at Tyrone Collins Memorial Basketball Courts, concluded with hundreds of spectators.

Nazerah Bugg, 14, was a dedicated basketball player at Kennedy High School that was tragically shot and killed on Sept. 20, 2014 while leaving a local eatery place.

Jamal Ramsey from Nazerah’s Hoop Dreams Foundation stated, “We keep her name alive and do it for the community. This tragic event we turn it into a positive.”

Xavier, Mount St. Joseph to hold Lauren Hill Tipoff Classic

The legacy of Lauren Hill and the fight to raise funds for pediatric cancer will continue with an annual women’s basketball classic at Xavier.

Division I Xavier and Division III Mount St. Joseph will open their respective seasons Nov. 14 at Cintas Center in the first Lauren Hill Tipoff Classic.

Xavier hosts Evansville at 1 p.m. that Saturday, and Mount St. Joseph plays Hiram College 30 minutes after the first game’s conclusion. The doubleheader will be televised on FOX Sports Ohio.

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She’s baaaaaa-ack: Cheryl Miller to Coach Langston Women

Local girl makes good: From the Lancaster Online: Elizabethtown grad Sarah Fairbanks is stepping up her game at St. Joseph’s

St. Joe’s coach Cindy Griffin wanted Fairbanks. In fact, Griffin said last week, “We knew we needed her.’’

Fairbanks wasn’t entirely sure why.

She wasn’t an all-state high-school player. At 6-1, she was a bit undersized for a major-college post player. Her prep stats, 15 points per game as a junior, 19 as a senior, were very good but not spectacular.

E-town is not a traditional girls’ basketball power, and in Fairbanks’ senior year lost in the first round of both the Lancaster-Lebanon League and District Three playoffs.

“I was hesitant at first,’’ she said last week. “They were the highest (level) school that recruited me.’’

A well-deserved “You stay put, please:” UNH Announces Contract Extension for Women’s Basketball Head Coach Maureen Magarity

The WNBA to host first preseason tourney at Disney

The WNBA is bringing its first preseason tournament to Florida.

The defending league champion Minnesota Lynx, Chicago Sky, Indiana Fever and Phoenix Mercury are set to tip off the four-game tournament May 9 at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World.

Winners from the opening games will meet May 11, with the other two teams playing in a consolation game. 

Out of Minny: Though they’ll open training camp short-handed, the Lynx hope to copy Sparks, repeat as WNBA champions

Tulsa is, again, a Liz-Free zone. Guess I’ll have to wait until October/Istanbul to see her: Cambage gives priority to Opals. Meanwhile, Shock first-round pick Odyssey Sims introduced to Tulsa and the Tulsa World offers up Who to watch, roster, schedule and more

Love me a little flashback history: Central High girls won first state basketball title

The Blackman High girls’ basketball team made history in March 2014 winning the school’s first state team championship. This convincing display of athletic dominance came exactly 90 years after the girls of Central High School (CHS) brought Rutherford County its first state basketball title.

As a precursor to the state championship, the CHS 1923 team won the Middle Tennessee Athletic Association championship. The coach was W. R. Romine, who doubled as the CHS manual training instructor. The team was captained by Ida Lee Byrn; India Gannaway served as the team manager.

Mabuhay, Tina: WNBA legend Thompson to help select jr cage All-Stars

WNBA Legend Tina Thompson arrived in Manila yesterday to lead the Jr.NBA/Jr.WNBA Presented by Alaska National Training Camp.

She will help coach participants from all over the country vying to become Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA All-Stars.

Finally, as BU and Butler try and “move on,” they should remember it’s not simply about hiring a new coach. They should read this from Beverly Breton Carroll, the mother of an athlete: Rutgers athletics: When sorry seems to be the hardest word

Watching your son and his Rutgers basketball teammates in a headline-making video shown on ESPN is akin to the moments before a car crash. The coach is hurling balls at the players, shoving them hard enough to send them sprawling on the court and spewing vile insults. Time crawls as you view a reality too disturbing to process.

You’ve been operating on high alert for several months now, muscles tensed, anticipating the next upsetting chapter in this saga. All the Rutgers basketball games you watched, your gut twisting at the dynamics between coach and players, one of whom is your son. All the times you wanted to spew about a horribly wrong situation when friends asked, “How’s Austin doing at Rutgers?”

Your son imparts only the barest of information. You do not have a full picture of the environment these kids are being subjected to every day, but you’ve heard disturbing stories about what happens at practice and you know a lot of players are depressed — a common symptom of emotional abuse. Yet you feel helpless. Speaking up will only make you sound like a whiny, entitled mother complaining about the coach’s treatment of her son. Ditto for the other families. Triple ditto for the players.

But here, finally, is justification for your emotions. This video confirms your fears. The car crash is real.

And they should also read the comments…..

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UConn’s Morgan Tuck To Have Surgery, out for season, leaving the Huskies with 8 scholarship players for the rest of the season. (7 for their next game: Banks is out with an ankle sprain.)

You can hear coaches game planning: “What we need to do is get them into foul trouble.” True, but not as easy as it sounds. UConn has adjusted nicely to the new rules, especially considering the fierce defense they play. Things could get interesting in the paint!

Speaking of interesting:

Gaels are now 9-0 in the MAAC. Their biggest threats the rest of the (conference) season lurks at the end of their schedule: Quinnipiac and Marist.

As mentioned, big win for Cynthia Cooper as USC takes down #19 California. (Somebody stop Ariya Crook, writes Nick Kranz) With some nice recruits coming in next year, things are looking good for the Trojan program.

Staying with the Pac 12, Oregon surprised Washington State and earned their first conference win.

The #14 Sun Devils needed free throws to escape the Utes and, in the battle of great names (Nyingifa v Ogwumike), it was close in the first half but #4 Stanford pulled away in the second for a 17pt win over UCLA.

In the Battle of CAA Unbeatens, JMU returns to the Beast of the CAA role with 74-47 win over Drexel.

Upcoming games of interest:

Sunday brings us a little SEC “legit” road test: #10 South Carolina v. #16 Vanderbilt (2pm ESPN2) followed by #11 Tennessee v. #17 Texas A&M at 4pm. BTW, Dave’s podcast asks: #WhyNotVandy? Melanie Balcomb & Vanderbilt host South Carolina in a battle of SEC upstarts.

“Big Monday” means USC v. Stanford for the top spot in the Pac 12. Which means  Tina Thompson and Candice Wiggins will do a little Twitter ‘Smack Talk’

From Todd Carton: Can the Terps stop the Irish Invasion?

Glenn Logan worries about Kentucky:

I hate to say it, but right now, the women’s Kentucky Wildcats basketball team is just not very good. They are shooting the ball extremely poorly, and the object of the game of basketball, or at least one of the two main ones, is to put the ball into the basket. Kentucky is defending well enough to win, but when they simply cannot score.

Better, but a lot of ground to be made up: Texas women’s basketball still struggling to reinvigorate fan base – Over past decade, average home attendance has declined by half

Spotlight #1: Dunbar’s Rowe poised to become Middle Tennessee’s all-time scoring leader

Also the school’s all-time rebound leader, Rowe is averaging 22.2 points and 11.7 rebounds this season. She has 16 double-doubles, including 10 in a row, and a school-record 69 in her career.

“I’m not the fanciest, I can’t do the best moves, not the quickest, can’t jump the highest. But I’m just in a system that all five people on the court know what to do, and we work so well together.”

Spotlight #2: UNC’s Diamond DeShields dares to dream

UNC’s leading scorer can splice two defenders, perform pirouettes on her way to the basket, make passes that some point guards would never dare try to make. When she makes a routine play by her standards, a highlight reel, “did-you-see-that?!” play by layman’s standards, DeShields, 18, simply smiles, a cheek-to-cheek glow that lifts her 6-foot-1-inch body off the hard court.

“It can make me very happy,” DeShields said of basketball, “but it can also make me really mad.”

Spotlight #3: Jersey girl Mabrey boosts Irish

In WNBA land, Nate has: 2013 Tulsa Shock season review: What kind of talent did Fred Williams inherit?

In the “Please Buy The Sparks” vein, it’s James Bowman with Sparks Watch Day 24: The Vetting Process

SPOILER ALERT!!! That’s 900 wins for Bentley’s Barb Stevens. BTW, the Falcons are undefeated this season, and sit atop the DII poll.

Up next, Jim Foster going for #800.

Don’t have Netflix? Check this out! “Off The Rez,” the documentary about Louisville’s Shoni and Jude Schimmel from the Umatilla reservation, will finally be available for download TODAY, Jan 24, on iTunes and VOD platforms.

Great excuse to remind you of more good stuff (though it’s old): Eight Native Basketball Players You Need to Know Better: Cliff Johns the first Native American to play for legendary NCAA coach Lute Olsen at the University of Arizona; Kenny Dobbs, the all-universe dunking star; University of Kansas and WNBA star guard Angel Goodrich; Hall-of-Famer Reyneldi Becenti who was the first Native American to play in the WNBA; Two-time Continental Basketball Association champion with the Yakama Sun Kings Richard Dionne; GinaMarie Scarpa, cofounder of the Native American Basketball Invitational basketball tournament.

And did you catch this piece from Graham? Green Bay’s Tesha Buck embraces heritage

To understand her is to understand the universality of a father’s influence on a daughter. Her struggles with separation from what was familiar are the same as those of freshmen across the country. So, too, her ability to eventually adapt and thrive in that new setting. It is a story of someone who aspires to live up to the words tattooed above an ink basketball on her torso: Strong Hearted Woman.

To understand why that is only part of the story is to understand that “Strong Hearted Woman” is merely a translation of the words inscribed permanently on her skin. The words themselves are written in the Dakota language. The language of those who came before her. Of where she comes from. A language and a history rarely represented on Division I basketball courts.

Back in November, Brent Cahwe’s 10 Native American Basketball Players to watch this College Basketball season included Tesha and also named Lakota Beatty, Oklahoma State; Keli Warrior, Kansas; Abby Scott, New Mexico State; and Shauna Long, Lamar University.

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Tina Thompson

on NPR: WNBA’s All-Time Top Scorer Tina Thompson Retires

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’cause that’s what game threes should be!

Atlanta v. Mystics @ 8pm. Sparks v. Mercury @ 10pm.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution couldn’t be bothered. (Probably recovering from the Falcons’ meltdown.)

From Roman at the WaPo: Washington Mystics must rebound in Game 3 of WNBA Eastern Conference semifnals (sic)

Small pockets of boos could be heard circulating through Verizon Center during the third quarter of the Washington Mystics’ 63-45 loss to the Atlanta Dream on Saturday night. The jeers began when the Dream, leading by 16, pulled down four offensive rebounds on one possession, the last leading to an Erika de Souza layup that gave Atlanta its largest lead.

That possession was a microcosm of the Mystics’ problems during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Dream had more second-chance opportunities (18 offensive boards) than Washington and made 11 more field goals to send the series back to Atlanta for a decisive Game 3 on Monday night. The quick turnaround affords the Mystics little time for self-reflection — and even less time to rediscover the offensive identity they need to keep the season alive.

Melissa writes: Sparks, Phoenix brace for deciding game of series

Parker said that after Thursday’s 86-75 Game 1 loss at home, the Sparks made some major adjustments. They didn’t have much to do with basketball though.

“We just changed our mind-set more than we changed our play,” Parker said.

From Odeen: Phoenix Mercury focus on execution for decisive Game 3 against Los Angeles Sparks

“I thought the ball wound up in one person’s hands too long,” Mercury coach Russ Pennell said after Saturday’s loss. “The shot clock is so short. If you hang on to it too long, you are going to wind up taking a marginal shot. And I think (Saturday night), we took a lot of marginal shots, and we need to get that corrected before (Monday night), for sure.

“We did some things that were not really characteristic, I think, of this team. Bottom line is, we just didn’t get it done, and we have to try to correct it before we play again.”

Who ya got?

In those other games: Yup: Catchings, Fever overwhelm Sky Indiana advances to Eastern Conference finals to play either Atlanta or Washington

Sometimes, Indiana rookie guard Layshia Clarendon suddenly will remember that her down-to-earth, low-key, friendly teammate is actually a very big deal.

 “I see the way people cheer for her, the way the other team reacts when they announce her name,” Clarendon said. “And I think, ‘Oh, my gosh, that’s right. This is the Tamika Catchings, three-time gold medalist, awesome community leader.’ They are those ‘oh wow’ moments. But she makes you feel like she’s just another person.”

Of course, Catchings isn’t just another player. She is a future Hall of Famer, someone who is at least in the MVP discussion every WNBA season. And in the Fever’s Eastern Conference first-round series victory over Chicago, Catchings displayed her usual relentlessness. She was the best player on the court.

Nice to have the MIP on your team, too: Zellous’ play helps fill Douglas void – Guard’s offensive improvement paying dividends for Indiana Fever

From Mark Ambrogl: Why the Indiana Fever are on the verge of another title run (or maybe not)

From Philip Hersh

“We know how to play basketball,” said Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot, who spent several minutes after the game with her head buried under a towel. “We have enough experience and talent and skill in this room to win games in the playoffs.”

It went missing in both playoff games.

“In the end, it always comes down to toughness — rebounds, loose balls, deflections,” Chatman said. “It starts in the fight areas. You’ve just got to have some dog in you. You’ve just got to get it done.”

Nate explains How the Minnesota Lynx swept the Seattle Storm (Though it t’weren’t as easy as they might have thought it would be)

Clay offers Analysis: A tale of two series

From Jayda: Storm ousted from playoffs – Tina Thompson ends her career trying hard to extend Seattle’s season

Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best” blared from the speakers as the announced crowd of 3,457 chanted “Thank You Tina” until she exited the court. Thompson, a 6-foot-2 power forward, finished with 13 points and nine rebounds. She announced in May she would retire from the WNBA after this season.

“I can walk away and feel OK with how we finished because we gave as much as we possibly could,” Thompson said Sunday. “I’ve always wanted to retire from the game and not the game retire from me. So, when I leave on my own terms, it’s a lot easier to settle with.”

From Jim Caple: Tina Thompson retires on her terms

After Minnesota beat the Seattle Storm 58-55 Sunday afternoon, the Lynx asked the league’s all-time scoring leader if she would honor them by posing for a team photo with them. This is not the way teams generally celebrate sweeping a first-round playoff series. But then, teams don’t usually end opponent’s careers that are as old as the very league in which they play.

“It was a bigger-than-basketball moment,” Lynx forward Maya Moore said. “We have so much respect for her, and we just battled it out with her. And we just wanted to get a picture. ‘Hey Tina, can we get a picture?’ It was really kind of childlike and beautiful. And she was great. She said, ‘Go ahead and win the whole thing guys.”’

Yes, I sense the irony: Minnesota Public Radio has a link to some great game shots.

Jayda redux: End of Tina Thompson’s career is end of an era for WNBA

“The WNBA is the best-kept secret in the world in a sense that in every single season that I’ve been a part of, this product has been amazing and the level of competition has been very high,” she said to Storm teammates, Tulsa Shock players and a crowd of 8,978. “You guys are the future of the WNBA. Continue to work and play as hard as you do.”

It’s one of those scary moments to which parents can relate. At some point, you have to let go of your baby in order for it to flourish. Now Thompson, 38, embarks on the final days of her career beginning with a first-round playoff game Friday at Minnesota.

Thank you Tina. May joy follow you the rest of your days.

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Cash, Catchings win WNBA sportsmanship award

It’s the Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award.

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

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

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

Kim Perrot

Remembering Kim Perrot – 14 years later

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

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Things are getting clearer in the run to the playoffs.

Yes, the Storm are one win away from clinching playoff berth as Tina Thompson continues to go out with a bang, not a whimper.

Thompson, a 17-year league veteran, has willed the Storm into playoff contention. She’s averaging a team-leading 16.4 points and 7.3 rebounds in August. In a crucial regular-season series clincher against San Antonio on Tuesday, Thompson scored 27 points in the 72-71 road win.

The performance isn’t surprising to Thompson, 38. She recently said she had one of her better offseason training regimens in order to retire this season on a high. Thompson also made it clear when she signed with Seattle in 2012 her intention was to win a fifth WNBA championship.

BUT: If they do make it, they ain’t playing at Key. Next up: Minnesota.

Seattle is chasing Phoenix, but the Merc are twice lucky: they get to play Connecticut, and Candice Dupree has picked up the pace after Russ Pennell’s arrival as coach

Dupree said for her, the current scoring binge is about a “mind-set.”

“In order for me to help make this team better, I have to be aggressive and assert myself against these other teams,” she said. “I just can’t wait for shots to come within our system. When I catch the ball, I look to drive or shoot. If it’s not there, then pass the ball and play out of that.”

Interim coach Russ Pennell has made sure Dupree is featured in more offensive sets.

They almost let it get away, but Catch and Zellous made sure the Fever stayed ahead of the Liberty in the race for 4th. Or 3rd. Or 2nd, if Atlanta doesn’t right their injured ship. (They get a chance against Chicago today)

Chicago gets some love:

David Haugh – Delle Donne doing her (substantial) part to grow WNBA – League’s top rookie and legit MVP candidate will promote game after Sky season

Eric Zorn – Excuse me while I kiss the Sky

Contrasting opinions:

From SlamOnline: Standard Bearer – Ten years into her WNBA career, Diana Taurasi is having one of her best seasons yet.

Coming off of a hip flexor injury that limited her to just eight games last season, she’s come back with a vengeance, currently ranking second in the WNBA in scoring with 21.4 points per game. Ten times this season, she’s scored 26 points or more.

Though she receives less credit for other aspects of her game, she’s also averaging a career-high 6 assists a night, ranking second in the WNBA. That’s up from her average of 3.6 in 2011 (her last full season). She had double-digit assists three times: 10 vs Tulsa (August 20) and New York (July 2) and 11 vs Indiana (August 14). She’s also grabbing 4 rebounds per game.

From Aman Ali at the .com: Race to the MVP: Week Twelve

“Taurasi is one of the fiercest competitors in the league and a perennial favorite for the MVP award. But this season she hasn’t been able to shed her reputation of being an alpha-dog player that likes to shoot way more than she likes to pass. She has so much talent on her team, but how many of them are playing better as a result of Taurasi on the floor? McCoughtry suffered from the same reputation in years past and shed it this season – just ask her teammates Tiffany Hayes and All-Star Erika DeSouza who are playing some of the best basketball of their careers alongside her.”

Rebkellians clear up Ali’s lack of stat comprehension.

Also from SlamOnline: WNBA MVP Rankings – Candace Parker delivers in the clutch, fills the box score.

This past week, #CandaceCan became a mantra, as Candace Parker led the Sparks to a double-overtime comeback victory against Tulsa on Sunday. Slyvia “Big Syl” Fowles continues to spit out double-doubles and rise up the MVP rankings. Third year wing Maya Moore seems to be heating up at the right time as the Lynx look to make a trip back to the finals.

and Unsung Hero- Courtney Vandersloot is thriving at point guard for the Chicago Sky.

Quietly running the point is Courtney Vandersloot. The third-year guard is having her best season as a pro, averaging career highs in points (9) assists (5.5) and rebounds (3.3). Vandersloot is also averaging a career low in turnovers per game (2.5) while ranking fourth overall in the WNBA in assists.

Katie Konsiders Koaching: Katie Smith set to retire from WNBA.

Powell is going to Gonzaga.

Now to some off-court stuff via Nate:

RJ Aguiar of Towleroad has a pretty evenhanded account of the demonstration outside of the San Antonio City Hall yesterday that injured San Antonio Silver Stars forward Sophia Young attended yesterday, including links to local news coverage describing why the black and Latino protesters are opposed to an addition to the city’s existing nondiscrimination ordinance (click here from a video of the event from KENS 5). Andy Towle makes a good point in his associated post about Young’s tweets: “Given what she tweeted, however, she seemed to think that the anti-discrimination bill, to be voted on by the San Antonio City Council in early September, would also somehow legalize same-sex marriage.” (Hint: it won’t). (Read more)

I love that Coach Dunn has tweeted her support of Tully and Clarendon… And that Coach Boyle retweeted it. BUT: Where is every single other NCAA and WNBA coach?

Speaking of Coaches: Hall of Fame Inductee Dawn Staley Reflects on her WNBA Career and Community Outreach

Now to the important stuff: WNBA TEAM LOGOS: A VERY IMPORTANT CRITIQUE

Did you catch this from Fagan: SEX SELLS? TREND MAY BE CHANGING

In the Nine for IX film “Branded,” premiering Tuesday on ESPN (8 p.m. ET), filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady tackle the age-old question in women’s sports: Will sex appeal always supersede achievement?

But before we try to answer that, we need to ask ourselves a few more: Does sex really sell now? How do we know for sure? What if I told you it doesn’t?

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Suddenly Minnesota looks a mess... and, so, I’m thinking “BAIL ON YOUR PREDICTION, you coward, IT’S GOING TO BE L.A. and Atlanta!!”

But then Chicago manages to survive the Mystics (‘ello ‘elle!), and the L.A. gets STOMPED by Spare Parts ‘ompsons.

And no, I don’t want to talk about Phoenix escaping the Cambage Shock. (What’s the record for double-doubles pts/assists in a season?)

And in “Honestly? Wasn’t a moratorium declared on this stuff?” news Hightower, Faris Sidelined By Injuries

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drop me a note, ‘kay?

I mean, geez:

Spare Parts Seattle (‘ello LJ!) takes down Will This Road Trip Ever End Indiana.

“(Tina’s) play tonight is just inspiring,” Storm coach Brian Agler said. “If you can’t sit there and think about what she’s getting done at her age – the minutes she’s playing, hitting big shots, making big plays and guarding one of the better players in the league in (Tamika) Catchings, it’s hard not to really compete when you’re on the floor with her.”

Spare Parts (2) San Antonio takes down Not Quite New Look Phoenix.

“(Robinson is) just evolving into a player this year with the loss of Becky (Hammon) and Sophia (Young) where we have got to play through her,” Hughes said. “And playing through her takes different forms. It takes scoring, but it also takes her facility to set up people and that arc that she is working on was really important today.”

Coach of the Year Candidate Washington smoosh the This Wasn’t the Season Bill was Hoping For New York.

Hey, at least we held off the collapse until the fourth quarter.

Tierra Ruffin-Pratt looked like she heard the scurrilous rumors that her classmates had passed her in the rookie rankings, and was determined to take back her place as the most surprising success of the class of 2013. She shook Katie Smith off her on defense repeatedly to get open jumpers, and she was fighting for rebounds every chance she got. She was very physical, and paid the price for it.. (Katie got in a pretty good hit on her, too. Katie is a Bad Girl, after all.) Kia Vaughn (who actually started the second half) threw her body around like nobody’s business, setting screens and picks and boxing out viciously. We kept throwing her passes. She doesn’t even go here anymore! She was strong on the inside. Tayler Hill played briefly, and it was amusing to watch the young Buckeye going up against the old Buckeye when she was matched with Katie Smith, but amusement value was all she provided. Nadirah McKenith looked solid but unremarkable. Emma Meesseman went hard after the ball, but her judgment was not always the best. She’ll learn. And she’ll be scary when she does.

Lose by a Little Get Revenge by a  Lot Atlanta stomps Can’t Quite Get it Together Connecticut.

Tall Person In the Middle Tulsa trumps Tall Person Missing in the Middle Minnesota. In Minnesota.

Liz Cambage had 27 points and eight rebounds as the Shock broke a 14-game losing streak against the Lynx and posted the biggest franchise win – home or away – since moving to Tulsa in 2010. 

“I think it signifies a real sign of growth for this team,” said guard Candice Wiggins, a five-year Lynx standout before coming to Tulsa in an offseason trade.

Yup, the next few weeks will be miiiiighty interesting. LA is looming (Sue Favor sends this link: Red hot Sparks put away injury-depleted Fever, 94-72), Atlanta is dreaming a Lyttle, and the #3 and #4 spots are up for grabs in both conferences. Read all about it at L’Alien!

A little high school history out of Bradenton, Florida: Southeast’s first girls basketball state champions stand alone

Those Lady Noles were an up-tempo team that epitomized the run-and-gun label and trapped all over the court. In a victory over Bayshore, Southeast scored 106 points. They had speed and athleticism and a big front line.

“We pressed the heck out of people and ran kind of a like a run-and-jump defense,” says Smith, who now works in the medical profession as a salesperson. “Olivia was an amazing person, and our inside force and could move well. Her sister (Christella) came off the bench, and she was big. Loretta was amazingly fast, smart and sassy. She was gifted, and Coach Narbut made us special.”

Sad news out of Georgia: Pat Rivers, the first girls basketball coach to bring a state title to Augusta, died Saturday morning.

“She pushed us a lot. She motivated us. She made us work harder,” said Natasha Reid, captain of the 1997 team who now works as a special education teacher at East Central Regional Hospital.

“I tried to be laid back, but she pushed me to be a leader. I didn’t see that back then. I’m glad she did.”

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Is it Minnesota and Chicago in the Finals? If those games are as entertaining as yesterday’s, WHOOP! WHOOP! Could be fun, but methinks the big question will center ’round the (wo)man in the middle.

Yes, as Mechelle wrote, the Merc needed more from Corey Gaines. And no, Phoenix is not necessarily out of the woods, but that they were able to handle Cambage speaks to the existence of a path. Kris at Bright Side is excited: Diana 6K makes history while the Phoenix Mercury gain momentum under drastic change

An unassuming lay-up in the third quarter of a blowout win over the Tulsa Shock and Diana Taurasi makes history with 6,000 points.

Not just 6,000 points, but the fastest player in WNBA history to reach that goal and now just 1,288 points off of Tina Thompson, a mentor and idol for Taurasi, as the all-time leader in points scored. After the game Taurasi let out a sarcastic “YAY” for her individual accomplishment, but then revisited what really got her there, which were her teammates and her mentors.

“You don’t get to 6,000 without great coaches, great teams, and great players around you,” said Taurasi after the game. “You don’t get there. You have to have great people around you every step of the way.”

Any guess at to who the top SG is in ESPN’s “Who are the top shooting guards?”

Injuries make an accurate assessment difficult, but it does seem to be a tale of two franchises reaping the benefits of their management choices: Mystics over Sun.

“I didn’t have any emotions about playing Connecticut,” Thibault said. “It was more about playing a team that’s chasing us in the playoff race. I felt the same way as I did when we played New York the other day…We’re just trying to survive in the playoff race.”

Is it all on the MIA Lyttle or is there some deeper flaw within the Dream? The return of Hayes may help. Speaking of “returns,” who lit what fire under Braxton, and is there any chance of it lasting? And could the Lib get any older? Yes!

“And I’m HEEEEEERE! I’m still HEEEEEEEERE! In a game of spare parts, Tina led Seattle over San Antonio.

“We were a little embarrassed the other night,” said Storm forward Tina Thompson, who had a team-high 17 points and 11 rebounds. “We definitely came back out with a different focus. We made them really uncomfortable in the first half, but it would be really naive to think they wouldn’t make a push in the second half… but we finished it off.”

More from Jayda: Storm guard Temeka Johnson, former Gonzaga star Courtney Vandersloot giving back

WNBA players are known for their giving nature, most starting foundations despite seemingly not earning enough to give as they do. Storm PG Temeka Johnson is the latest to dote on the public in a rare move. She already has the H.O.P.E foundation that works to inspire communities, this week Johnson is using social media to show fans her appreciation.

and Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes

We’ve typically raised some of the top money in the WNBA, $40,000 or more. And (Hall of Fame college coach) Kay Yow was one of those people I’m so glad I got to know. Kay would come for that game before she died (in 2009 of breast cancer). We played L.A. one year and Kay was there, and I asked her if she would come talk to the team. It was so powerful we took some of her statements and put them on our walls. We’ve just had a real strong affiliation with that day.

JE: What was a quote you put on your locker-room wall?

Hughes: She looked at the team and said, “When life kicks you, you let it kick you forward.” We just took that and stuck it on our wall. It’s been there since 2008.

Jessica Breland says: Cancer Battle Made Me Stronger

Chicago! Chicago! That toddling town! Sky’s Quigley reunited with family

In college news:

Congrats – Megan Gebbia leaves Marist, becomes head coach at American

Life rarely gives second chances.

When their women’s basketball head coach left last month, though, officials at American University finally got the woman they’d wanted to lead their program in 2008. And, after a decade of loyal service as an assistant in Poughkeepsie, she gets to guide her own team.

Megan Gebbia — an assistant on Marist’s bench for 10 years, the past seven as an associate coach under Brian Giorgis — became American’s new head coach Monday, taking over a Patriot League squad that went 15-14 last season.

This is how Coop did it at her other programs: USC women’s basketball team adds 2 transfers for Cooper-Dyke’s first season

And, get your VCRs/DVDs ready: Uconn v Stanford and Tenn v UNC part of ESPN Tip-off Marathon

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Thank you, Tina

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all sorts of bad stuff happens: EDD gets a concussion, Penny goes under the knife,  BG sits for the ASG (and Arizona Central calls her “Griney.”)

Yes, the Three To See might be MIA, but don’t despair: the WNBA All-Star Game will Feature Mic’d Players, Ref Cam

I just want to give a shout out to the Amazon Warrior Princess: Tina Thompson scores 23 to lift Storm past Sparks.

You know what would be classy? If the W organized a “Thank you-Retirement Salute” for Tina at the ASG….. like maybe bringing her to the all-star game… HEY! Tina Thompson to replace Brittney Griner in WNBA All-Star game

From ESPN: It’s Time for WNBA midseason awards. Personally, my mid-year COY vote goes to Dunn. Adversity could have crushed the team and set up the Fever for a “why bother” second half. Now, it’s more like a “Damn, we have to play them?” Oh, and congrats to Catch: Tamika Catchings climbs into 4th on scoring list as Fever win

This is interesting: Weatherspoon becomes first WNBA player to join NBRPA

The non-profit association aides in the transition of professional players after their playing careers. Programs are designed to help with financial literacy and career assistance among other areas as well as serve as a social network for retired players.

Founded in 1992 by NBA greats Dave DeBusschere, Dave Bing, Archie Clark, Dave Cowens and Oscar Robertson, the organization also hosts camps and different community events. The group has more than 500 members that played in the NBA, ABA, the Harlem Globetrotters and now the WNBA.

Ooo, la la! France was unwilling to roll over for the U19 team — but the young’uns found a way to overcome les bleus and escape with a 6-pt victory.

“We have a ton of respect for France,” said USA U19 and University of Miami head coach Katie Meier. “They match us athletically. They are better than us in pace of play and they controlled the tempo tonight. We couldn’t impose our will on them, because they’re a very veteran team. We had to play their game and break through our box of tricks. We had to dig through our half court offenses and our half court defenses and really execute. We figured it out, but it took a long time to figure it out. They’re a very sophisticated, high-level basketball club.”

Japan is up next (1:15pm, today. Live Stats). Should the U.S. advance to the July 27 medal semifinals, it will face the winner of the Australia-China contest for the right to play in the July 28 gold medal game. The medal semifinals and the gold and bronze medal games will be streamed live online by ESPN3.

Off te be grown up and conference-y. You all keep an eye on the women’s bball world and make sure no one gets hurt, ‘kay?

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(Is that the laziest, over-used, faux adjective of the 20-teens or what!?!?!), it’s just that when I look at the Dream’s 10-1 record, I’m not impressed. Yes, Angel IS On Fire, but as I mentioned earlier, it’s July 9th (ESPN2, 8pm and, Hello .com, the link to Ticketscalper doesn’t work) that I have circled on my schedule. ’cause until then, I still have Chicago (they who stomped the Sparks without a dinged up Syl) and Minnesota (they who also stomped the Sparks, but tomorrow ought to be interesting)  in a very entertaining Finals.

San Antonio reeeeeeally needs to get their team healthy. As do the Fever.

Seattle reeeeeally has to think about who they want to take with the first pick. Though I would agree with this: KeyArena: the WNBA’s best venue

Okay, so maybe Corey’s seat is not so toasty any more. Ah, the taste of victory. And the arrival on court of an Aussie. And the help of NBA friends saying “What the frack are you running?” CT Post’s Kevin Duffy writes: Griner’s time coming, but Saturday belonged to Taurasi

In 2006, Taurasi averaged 25.3 points per contest, the first of her five scoring titles. The following year, she made her playoff debut, guiding the Mercury to the WNBA title. In doing so, she became the seventh player in history to capture championships at the collegiate, professional and Olympic level.

At the time, Griner was in her second year of organized basketball. And she was already the subject of her first Sports Illustrated article.

“(Taurasi) has seen and done it all,” Griner said before Saturday night’s game at Mohegan Sun. “It just makes it easier when you come in and have a leader like that on the court.”

It does, especially when the leader shoots fadeaways off one foot, hits cutters with no-look passes and dominates a pro game with a casual offensive flair you’d expect to see in pick-up.

Hey, Van and Mike are now tied!

Speaking of the (almost) past: From Patricia Babcock McGraw: Thompson’s long ride about to end

Daily vitamins have helped.

So has a healthy diet and a relentless fitness regimen.

But the seemingly ageless Tina Thompson is still 38, no matter how many times she denies herself fast-food French fries. In WNBA time, or by any standards for a professional athlete, that’s pretty old.

What hasn’t gotten old is Thompson’s game, which is why the announcement of her retirement at the end of this season is sad for the WNBA, even though, at the same time, it is completely understandable and somewhat expected.

Speaking of the immediate future, I’m sure tired of the “Three to See,” aren’t you? I mean, what GOOD is it doing? Fan Interest In Rookies Leads The WNBA To Unprecedented Viewership Numbers.

Oh. Never mind!

Speaking of “Oh, never mind,” John at the Courant mines familiar territory: WNBA Roster Size A Problem For Connecticut Sun and Opponents.

Yes, I realize it’s a money issue. (Do the math: 12 teams. $100,000 per team. Approx $1 million from ESPN. It doesn’t add up) And I guess you can’t find players on the road to help you (I mean, ’cause why would you organize this across the league? ’cause it would make too much sense?). But I’ve said this before and I’ve said it again: are you looking for bodies or for actual talent? ’cause there’s a reason the starters +1/2 play all the minutes: the pool of talent isn’t that deep.

If young (or medium young) players want to play in the W and get cut.. do they deserve to be dragged across the country, not playing, maybe not working on their game.. just because you need a body to practice against? Or, because the players want 24 more people to get jobs (therefore not putting the pressure on THEM to perform and survive?)? Or should they, just like officials do, pay for their own professional development and earn a place on the roster?

This is cool!” Staten Island Ballers girls shoot to donate 10,000 basketballs

“We’re hearing the average player doesn’t have a basketball,” said Pete Lisi Jr., owner of Staten Island Paramount, the league’s biggest sponsor. “They can’t play on their own. They can’t practice on their own. One of the missions of the organization is to distribute basketballs to the youth of Staten Island.”

Looking forward to next “$20 if you can name all the teams in the Conference” college basketball season? Notre Dame is: Balanced powers await Irish women

Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw has enjoyed the view of the Atlantic Coast Conference the past two seasons.
 
That view has been from the top of a ladder as McGraw was cutting down nets to celebrate the Irish advancing to the Final Four.
Seung Lee tries to stir up a little outrage, and then seems to agree with the number: Power Rankings: No. 5 women’s basketball

The fact that the Cal women’s basketball team, fresh off its first Final Four appearance, is only No. 5 in the power ranking is, personally, hogwash.

Upon further introspection, however, I do think the Bears landing No. 5 is fairer than it seems at face value for two reasons. First, it is just a testament to how successful 2013 was to Cal athletics as a whole. Second, the graduation of the seniors leaves the team thinner and more unknown, making it hard to gauge its potential.

Some coaching spots filled:

Katarski Named Seton Hill Women’s Basketball Head Coach

Packard Chosen to Lead TU Women’s Basketball Program (Those of us who follow coach Packard know she suffered a horrible loss recently. Hopefully this will be a healthy outlet for her and her family.)

Jessica Mannetti named Sacred Heart Women’s Basketball Head Coach

Another secured: Stewart shows faith in Heard with proposed raise

A little WATN? (Even though they added an “s” to her name, Yo can’t hide from us!) Lafayette hired ex-WNBA star Griffiths

Laura Keeley at the News Observer thinks Collegiate women’s basketball is at a crossroads

There was another notable conclusion from Ackerman’s work: there is a tremendous appetite for change.

And that thought was echoed locally.

“What’s happening, it’s really a welcome thing,” said Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie. “I don’t want it to stall in any way.”

The NCAA began to act on the Ackerman report this week. The NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee announced it will immediately allow regional host institutions to play on their home courts, which was among the suggestions contained in the report.

BTW: For Women’s Coaches, Time No Longer Freezes in Summer

Suzie McConnell-Serio, the new women’s basketball coach at Pittsburgh, was excited to get a jump on the season.

Because of a new N.C.A.A. rule, she does not have to wait until the fall to get a chance to work with her team. Coaches are now allowed to work out with their players for eight hours a week — including two on the court — if the athletes are enrolled in summer school or have met certain academic benchmarks.

The rule took effect for men last summer. In the past, teams could work out with coaches in the summer only if the team was taking a foreign trip.

In International news, ‘ware the Turks! Turkey’s ‘basket fairies’ clinch bronze medal at Eurobasket

Turkish women’s basketball confirmed expectations, as the national team won the bronze medal at the FIBA European Championships held in France, dominating Serbia 92-71 in yesterday’s game.

Go Guam! Guam finishes strong to win gold medal

Happy Trails To You? WNBA star open to visit Manila

WNBA guard Kara Lawson said the other day she’s agreeable to visit Manila someday and encourage girls to play basketball in showing by example how it can lead to a career.

From USA Basketball: ‘ware, World, the US Hoop(eristsa)s are coming! (USA vs Mali  – July 8, 2013 @ 12:30 pm ET) A little Shoni. A little Hooper. And some more: Hooper overcomes anxiety, set to play on World Games team

“She kind of just blended in with everybody else at the beginning,” Coale said. “That happens a lot of the time due to nerves. Kids just aren’t comfortable with the situation. But Jordan did assert herself more and more, and she had a really good last day. She was very aggressive and has been ever since.

“We knew she could really shoot it and she was versatile. At Oklahoma, we refer to her kind of player as a ‘long, tall shooter.’ She’s just been fantastic for us.”

Next up in Colorado? The U19ers.

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More WBHOF stuff:

From Mechelle: Wicks reflects on satisfying career – Former Liberty, Rutgers star part of Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame’s 2013 class

For Wicks, the feeling was at its peak when she played in Madison Square Garden with teammates like Teresa Weatherspoon and Vickie Johnson, and against foes like Cynthia Cooper and Tina Thompson.

She knows they all felt it. In those early years of the WNBA, so much seemed groundbreaking and even breathtaking.

“I think you just experience it, and you don’t know how to really talk about it,” Wicks said. “But even now, if I see Spoon or Vickie — they know exactly what it is, and we don’t say anything. Or even Cynthia or Tina. There’s a great deal of love there, and respect, even between fierce competitors. Because it brought something out of each one of us.”

From KBTX: Blair to be Inducted into Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame

“I have had the great opportunity to interact with the other inductees having either coached or coached against them and it will be an honor to stand beside them as we are inducted this weekend,” Blair said. “When you begin your career you do not even think of the Hall of Fame, you dream of NCAA Tournament appearances, Final Fours or the ultimate dream of a National Championship. The Hall of Fame is never one of your goals, because nobody can make the Hall without great teammates or assistant coaches. The honor is mind-boggling because of who is already in the Hall of Fame and to think that some of my former players or assistants will hopefully be able to join me in Knoxville really makes me appreciate how fortunate I am to have had their support throughout my career.”

From Dan Fleser: Signature moment epitomized Jennifer Rizzotti’s play – Fame is another move for Rizzotti and Mike Anthony from the Hartford Courant adds: Rizzotti Touched By Warm Reception At Pre-Hall Of Fame Gala

“A number of years ago, we took our basketball team to Italy,” said Sullivan, who will escort Rizzotti to the stage for her induction. “I ran [every morning] by this building in Rome. I didn’t even notice it the first two days. The third day, I stopped. The statues, the window work, the details. Because Rome is so saturated with all these iconic things, I hadn’t even noticed the building. Sometimes I feel like that’s what life with Jen is like. She’s gotten so much done and accomplished so many things, that if you’re not constantly looking at it you’ll miss some things.

“When the things you’re really great at transcend basketball, then you know you’re going to be a hall of fame daughter, a hall of fame sister, a hall of fame mother, a hall of fame wife. That’s why, wherever she goes, she’s been able to do whatever she’s done. Although I run by that building a little too often, I assure you, I promise you, that I know how beautiful it is.”

Dan also notes, Peggy Gillom-Granderson surprised to be Women’s Hall inductee

Peggie Gillom-Granderson’s accomplishments speak volumes on her behalf.

Just as well, since she still struggles to grasp the sum of her women’s basketball career at Ole Miss. The 2,486 points and 1,271 rebounds she amassed added up to phone call last summer from long-time acquaintance Eddie Clinton, informing Gillom-Granderson that she will be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. She called him back the next day just to make sure it was true.

From the Times Free Press: UTC’s Foster ready for Women’s College Basketball Hall of Fame induction

“I’m sure it will hit me when I’m there,” Foster said. “But I’m not going to predetermine what my feelings are. I have to experience things. I’ve been asked about a lot of things, but I have to experience them.”

From the Daily Progress: Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame to honor Wayland Baptist Flying Queens

The Flying Queens are only the fourth “Trailblazer of the Game” to be recognized, joining the All-American Red Heads, Edmonton Grads and the Former Helms/Citizens Savings/Founders Bank. Each group has a display at the Hall of Fame.

The five teams, then known as the Hutcherson Flying Queens – carrying the name of their sponsor, Claude Hutcherson, a local fixed-base operator who flew the teams to their games in his fleet of Bonanza aircraft – also won four consecutive AAU championships during the streak. Texas Monthly magazine did a feature on the streak in March and a company in Denver is planning a documentary on the same subject.

From TexasSports.com: Smith-Knight to be inducted into Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2013: Texas’ all-time leading scorer becomes the fifth member of the Women’s Basketball family to earn Hall of Fame induction.

“In the most simple words, we built the Texas Women’s Basketball program on the back of Annette,” UT Women’s Athletics Director Chris Plonsky said. “We have probably never had a more humble, yet effusive, superstar. In her prime, Annette was great because of her sheer-natural talent. Her competitiveness and her zest for playing were unmatched. Every great player that came to play at Texas came because of Annette.”

Smith-Knight was a first-team All-American (1984) and a two-time Southwest Conference Player of the Year (1983, 1984) as a sophomore and junior who also won a gold medal for USA Basketball at the 1983 World University Games. She paced Conradt’s squad to a runner-up finish at the 1982 AIAW Championship in addition to a pair of NCAA “Elite Eight” showings (in 1983 and 1984).

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Clay up after he tries to say nice things about you:

So how much does the 0-2 start for Phoenix really mean? Is Corey Gaines really an idiot? Are the Mercury really worse than Seattle? Is Brittney Griner really overrated?

The answers, in order: Very little; no; no; and emphatically no.

Merc get royally stomped by the Lynx. On a Mission Much? Maya Managed Many Points in Minimum Minutes (23/22)

The Lynx scored 60 points in a half consisting of two 10-minute quarters. That’s three points a minute. Traditionally, that has been accomplished mostly by men with large Afros and a red, white and blue basketball.

The Lynx also tied a franchise record with 30 assists, on 36 baskets, and tied a franchise low with six turnovers. Traditionally, that kind of ratio isn’t accomplished at any level of the game.

M&M discuss “Who are the top five centers.

As Brittney Griner is quickly finding out, it’s not easy being a center in the WNBA.

 It’s rough down there in the paint — the size, the physical play, the jostling, the foul trouble.

The best women’s league in the world is home to the best centers in the world in 2013, a group that includes grizzled veterans, gold medalists and some of the most promising young talent one could imagine.

Even with Storm center Lauren Jackson out of the league for the season, taking a year off from Seattle to heal her hamstring, the best centers in the WNBA make for a star-studded list of talent and experience. These strong, powerful women score inside at will. They battle for the boards, block shots and stretch defenses.

In this game-changing season for the WNBA, espnW will rank the top players at each position. We start with the WNBA’s five best centers:

The Lib are thrillin’ fans with OT wins over shorthanded teams. Their coach? Not so much.

Who’s singing “I’m Baaack in the Saddle Again”? Erin Thorn. So’s the other CP3.

How much fun is coach Donovan having? Not much. Montgomery is out for three weeks (or more) and now White’s Broken Finger Adds To Sun Injury Problem. And, do you know what? It’s Almost Time For Thibault’s Connecticut Homecoming. Wheeeeeee!

Speaking of injuries: NOT good: Prince sprains ankle in first game for Russia. Timely that espnW’s re-visioned site discuss “Player’s Priorities.”

Nate offers up 2013 WNBA Most Improved Player watch list: 10 players with the opportunity to improve

The Most Improved Player award is fundamentally about the gap between expectations and outcomes, which brings an inherent element of unpredictability to the process of picking one.

Chances are that if a player showed signs of improvement in the previous year, they don’t have the strongest case for being the most improved player in the league as every year someone takes an unexpected leap.

However, when looking at the actual winners of the WNBA’s Most Improved Player award in the past they have actually been quite predictable:

Richard l’Alien offers up: Trading Tina Thompson

Last week saw one of the legends of the WNBA, the sole remaining player from 1997′s inaugural season, announce that this would be her final year. Tributes and glowing assessments of Tina Thompson’s career rightfully flooded in, but because I’m an unsentimental soul my first thought was “does this make it more or less likely that she’ll be traded?” On reflection, it seems like the retirement announcement probably doesn’t make much difference – there was always a strong chance that this was her last season anyway, so any move for her would’ve been primarily about what she could offer in 2013. But it does seem like an appropriate time to look at whether Seattle might find a new home for Tina before the trade deadline on August 15th.

Who’s singing “I’ll be watching you.” Refs. Or is it the fans. Or is it the refs?

WATN? Pat Coyle is back in the coaching ranks at St. Peter’s in the MAAC. Lucky Patty — she inherits a team that went 2-28 last season. And they’re called the Peahens.

Speaking of coaching, Alysha Clark will sample the profession at Middle Tennessee next season.

Mel’s talking Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Induction stuff, and a guest blogger gives us the view from Chicago: Maya’s WNBA Chicago Scene: Elena Delle Donne Quickly Brings Sunshine to the Windy City

Have fun Suuuuuuuueeeeeeeee! Sue Wicks grew her love for the game, will be inducted into Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame

From SlamOnline: ‘This Is Not Hoosiers’ – Filmmaker Robert T. Herrera reflects on the compelling documentary The Gray Seasons.

With the WNBA season underway, it’s only right that the ladies got next, and although the number of films chronicling women and basketball are few and far between, they do exist. The Gray Seasons follows Shimmy Gray-Miller, head coach of the St. Louis University Lady Billikens as she takes over the Division I program. Documenting the team for four years, the film showcases the losses, which sometimes occur more than the wins, the countless moments of Gray-Miller’s determination, and the courage, pain and resolve of her team.

Slam also offers up a little slice of women’s basketball history — and you know how we love that! The Forgotten – “Machine Gun” Molly Bolin is probably the best female guard you’ve never heard of. (Of course, if you’ve read Karra Porter’s Mad Seasons: The Story of the First Women’s Professional Basketball League, 1978-1981, you know all about Molly.)

More history: US Rep. Gabbard Pays Tribute to Title IX and Co-Author Patsy Mink

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her last. 

From Jayda:

In May, during the Storm’s media day, Tina Thompson was asked what’s new.

She paused for a long time before saying she’d like to learn to play tennis. She also likes to golf, but doesn’t have time. And, oh, she’d like to learn to sew more than the drapes she stitched for her home in Houston.

As training camp wore on and her 17th WNBA season began, it was becoming clear to her. It was time to retire and make time for other interests.

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From Jere’ at the New York Times: W.N.B.A. Hopes Griner Can Change Perceptions, As Well as Game Itself

Another question is whether Griner will become as transformative off the court as she has been on the court.

Even before she plays her first game, her influence has been significant. A decade ago, W.N.B.A. officials might have been reluctant to celebrate as a standard-bearer of the league someone who did not conform to conventional standards of femininity, said Mary Jo Kane, the director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota.

“You cannot ignore her athleticism, and the W.N.B.A. has not tried to isolate or marginalize Griner,” Kane said.

“That is a rather remarkable and fundamental shift.”

Yes, says Jayda, Griner is going No. 1, but another Texas-based player is excited for the future of the league:

“The exposure that our game on the collegiate level has gotten has done really good things to our game as a whole,” said Kelsey Bone, a Texas A&M center who’s expected to be a top-five pick. “The notoriety that’s coming into this league, when you talk about the day and age of modern technology, will give the WNBA a chance to put the game on another level nationally.”

Based on league history, however, perhaps “Wait and See” would be a better tag.

I’l agree — for the moment, ’cause I want to see the advertisements that support the phrase. Too often it seems the league plays it safe and won’t take risks — as if it’s not actually confident in the product it’s marketing. In fact, in the past, it’s been the merchandise endorsement folks who’ve had the most memorable WNBA ads.

Who can forget the classic Nike Little Rascals, who combined humor, sass and a knowledge of the game.

“Coop needs to know.”

“Pumps are for EX-players.”

“Momma can’t help your jump shot.”

Remember the ads that assumed the audience’s knowledge of a player’s on-court skill.

There was  Sue Bird’s American Express commercial?

How about Taurasi for 8 O’Clock Coffee?

Here’s my suggestion: reunite the original rascals — or pick a new smarty-pants trio — and craft 15 seconds of brilliance that highlights the current and incoming players skills and personality. For instance:

(At a restaurant, where she leans over to hand someone a napkin they dropped. Three teenagers, in WNBA jerseys, look at her. Says one:) Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever. Five time winner of the Defensive Player of the Year award. People say you’re nice. Elena’s nice, too. But her game is nasty. You should studying game tape, not menus. Here are some notes on her game. You better get ready. Or you can wait and see.”

Or how about this for a promo?

(Voice over) Who’s got next?
*Show a Leslie dunk*
(A different voice over) No, who’s got next?
*Show a Parker dunk*
(A different voice over) Nooo, I wanna know, who’s got next?
*Show a Griner dunk*
(Shared amongst the three voices) Oh, yeah — I know, and I’ve got my season tickets. I can’t wait and to see it — live.
*montage of great plays*

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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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but Chicago DOES have Sylvia. The fact that the Sky couldn’t beat a Plenette-less and Vaughn-less Liberty makes me wanna take a hard look at their coaching. The fact that Chicago shot an embarassing 6-21 from the free throw line makes me wonder about their focus. Which makes me wanna look at their coaching.

And then, of course, they turn around and roar back in the fourth to take Indiana into overtime. And lose. (1,500 free throws? I guess the refs love Catch, huh? :-)

The SASS is enjoying its East Coast swing, and Mystics fans are enjoying (?) the Dive for BG (goin’ well, ain’t it?). A lot riding on today’s game against Tulsa.

Shocked, shocked! That Glory got a technical. Didn’t help Tulsa against the Sun, though.

Speaking of the Sun, watch out. Kara’s kickin’ butt (All hail, vegan athletes!) and, for all of those folks bemoaning the “boring season” because Minny is “so good”: look at the standings now that the Lynx have lost three in a row. I’m sure Minny’s (and the rest of the League’s) walking wounded will appreciate the Olympic break.

A game Debbie would have enjoyed: Monster games by Lyttle and Bonner – Dream win 100-93. (And no, I didn’t think Hayes would be a starter — did you?)

Not the news Storm fans (or USA Basketball) want to hear: “Sue Bird – hip flexor, Ann Wauters – strained calf, Tina Thompson – awkwardly bent ankle.” Needless to say, the Sparks took advantage, and Parker was three assists from that triple-double Lobo wants her to get. Boy, LA’s starters play a lot of minutes…

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The players:

WNBA Draft: Remembering the Day My Life Changed (Tina Thompson)

Miami Hurricanes women ready for WNBA Draft — The Hurricanes’ Shenise Johnson and Riquna Williams are expected to go early in the WNBA Draft, which will be held Monday.

Wojta could be first Green Bay player drafted by WNBA and UWGB’s Wojta attending WNBA draft

Nneka Ogwumike prepares for WNBA draft

2012 WNBA Pre-Draft Conference Call: Draft Prospects (Hayes, Ogwumike, Peters, Prahalis)

The coaches:

2012 WNBA Pre-Draft Conference Call: WNBA Coaches (Reeve, Agler, Kloppenburg)

The talking heads:

2012 WNBA Pre-Draft Conference Call: ESPN Analysts (Lobo, Peck)

2012 WNBA Mock Draft: Nnemkadi Ogwumike and Early Picks Sure to Become Stars

This Year’s WNBA Draft Lacking In High-Impact Players

After Nneka, draft full of questions

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Thompson.

Looking forward to see Tina play this Sunday in Tulsa.

As a Lib fan, Houston Comet Tina used to strike terror into my heart. Sure, Coop and Swoopes were the firecrackers and Kim was the fuse (for some reason, my image for Tammy is the hook — you know that thing that reaches out room off-stage to pull you out of the spotlight, just when you thought you were getting so hot?).. but Tina was the smoothly swung baseball bat. Boom! and you were out like a light.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I truly fell for Tina during the Athens Olympics. I got to sit behind coaches Roy Williams and Larry Brown during the gold medal game, and when Tina hit that key shot from the the corner, both of them jumped out of their seats. Boom!

But it was Tina at the gold medal ceremony that got me. What a picture — the essence of what means to represent your country, and the perfect bookend to Dawn carrying the flag in the Opening Ceremonies.

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then you’re talking about San Antonio.

With their victory over the Sparks, SASS is now 5-1 on the road. It helped, of course, that Becky snapped her mini-slump and LA shot for carp. Interesting unhappy stat: Tina was scoreless and, as she noted post-game, ” I don’t think I ever played less than five minutes either.”

As for sunday’s games, don’t forget to check in avec l’Alien.

In theory, there were three WNBA games played yesterday. In practice, there were maybe 75 minutes or so of basketball actually worth talking about. One barely watchable blowout that will only be remembered for the halftime ceremony and for clashing with the women’s World Cup soccer final; one painfully dull blowout that somehow became a game; and one game that was actually a competitive contest from start to finish. So let’s start with the game where both teams actually showed up for all 40 minutes.

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Yah, it doesn’t scan but it’s the musical thought that counts!

More “remember whens” from Melissa Rohlin at the LA Times: WNBA celebrates 15 seasons (Photo: Ooooo, it’s Penny and Sophia — and Sophia is wearing classic NY black. Sigh. I miss those uniforms BIG time.)

Even players were skeptical at first.

Sparks forward Tina Thompson was a USC senior in 1997 and hoped to attend law school when she received a call from a WNBA official inviting her to play for the fledgling league. Worried the WNBA wouldn’t survive long, she hesitated.

“I wanted to make sure this was solid before I walked away from everything I had been working toward,” Thompson recalled. Hours before the draft, she decided to take a chance.

She doesn’t have any regrets.

In a similar vein, Jayda Q&As with Penny Toler (And check this note from the editor: Seattle Times reporter Jayda Evans will have a weekly conversation with a WNBA newsmaker. )

Q: So, the first made WNBA shot was a baseline drive in the corner on the Great Western Forum court. What do you remember about that play?

Penny Toler: I scored it on Vickie Johnson, who’s now a coach down in San Antonio. It was a pull-up and I was lucky to hit it because there were some shots taken before. Everybody always asks me about the first shot, but there was a lady named Daedra Charles-Furlow on the Sparks. She’s an assistant coach now at Tennessee. We ran the play and … Daedra just caught the ball and shot it real quick. Not once, but twice. After the game, when reporters asked me about the shot, I said, “Daedra, you were trying to make the first basket in history, weren’t you?” She said, “Yes, I sure was!”

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No Moore

Moore leaves Sparks due to medical reasons

No siree! Lisa Leslie says she’s ‘not coming back’ to WNBA

No stopping. Sparks’ Thompson just keeps going

No. 2 & 3: 12 Days, 12 Previews: San Antonio Silver Stars and Connecticut Sun – Five keys to a successful season.

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Top 20: Tina Thompson, no. 17 – The definitive ranking of the WNBA’s best players.

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From the rather oddly titled piece by Melissa Rohlin : Sparks players must decide who will be returning

I thought GMs did that.

Anyhoo – from the article:

The Sparks’ most recent marketing campaign features a photo of Candace Parker looking over her shoulder with the words: “She’ll be back! Will you?”

It’s a question that may be better suited for some of her teammates.

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from Jayda: Tina Thompson, last original WNBA player, has carried Los Angeles this season

The Southern California native has been “getting it done” for 14 years in the WNBA.

She applies her Diva lipstick by MAC and methodically bangs inside for rebounds and deadly jump shots. There’s not a post player in the league who hasn’t been burned by both — the dark red makeup stain on their jersey or the memory of a dagger jumper in their face.

And some thoughts from ESPNLosAngeles’s D.J. Foster on tomorrow’s game. (Honestly, ESPN folks. Do you provide enough original content on women’s basketball to hide this stuff under the city-specific .com?) Defensive ploys could lift Sparks

After dropping Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals 79-66 to the Seattle Storm, the Los Angeles Sparks now find themselves facing an elimination game on Saturday at Staples Center. What can they do to keep their season alive?

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More on Tina

from Melissa Rohlin at the LA Times: For Sparks’ Tina Thompson, it’s not about individual accomplishments

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