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After that “instant classic,” the Liberty are in D.C. needing a win over the Mystics to extend their season. From the Suffolk Times: Sugar: An ingredient of success

The mid-season return of veteran guard Epiphanny Prince from overseas has reduced Rodgers’ minutes this year, but the Suffolk standout has been an undeniably significant contributor to the Liberty’s success.

“It’s been great,” Rodgers said. “To be honest, I’ve just been living in the moment. It’s always good to make history at a franchise, because they’ll remember this for a long time. So, like I said, I’ve just been living in the moment, appreciating the fact of just being here, just being thankful.”

From bulletsforever:

1. Knock the Libs out of the gym early 

There’s no need for me to talk about stats on this one. But if the Mystics can overwhelm New York from the start along with hometown support, that could very well be the push needed.

In 2013, the Mystics defeated the Atlanta Dream in Game 1 of their playoff series on the road. That gave fans a lot of optimism for Game 2 at the Verizon Center for an elimination game on September 21, 2013. But they came out totally flat in the first quarter and shot 25 percent from the field en route to a 63-45 loss.

In Tulsa, the short-handed Shock kept it close early, but Phoenix Griner made sure they ended their residency in Tulsa on a loss.

Watching Saturday’s night’s WNBA playoff doubleheader, I couldn’t help but think of the differing fates of two franchises and their cities.

Indiana beat Chicago 89-82 to extend their series to a deciding third game Monday in the Windy City. Tulsa, however, was not able to do the same against Phoenix. The defending champion Mercury won 91-67 and move on to the Western Conference finals, where they await the Minnesota-Los Angeles winner.

Now next season, the Shock will pack up and go to Dallas, or more specifically, Arlington, Texas. You could tell how much the Shock players deeply appreciated the loyal fans who kept showing up at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this season even after they knew the team would be theirs only a little longer.

Catch and her Collaborators were on point during a delightful back-and-forth game against Chicago.

“One of the things you have to continue to do against a team like Chicago is try to keep them off balance because they are so good,” Fever coach Stephanie White said. “They get a bead on you, and they exploit you. I thought our players did a good job of changing defenses and changing schemes, and executing those schemes.”

L.A. will see if they can push Minnesota to a Game Three.

Arena logistics aside, the main challenge for the Sparks will be slowing down Lynx forward Maya Moore, who put up a playoff career-high 33 points to go with five rebounds and four steals in Minnesota’s Game 1 victory. She and guard Seimone Augustus combined to score 50 of the team’s 67 points. Earlier in the week, Ogwumike predicted that the key to the Sparks’ success would be how they responded to Minnesota’s offensive attack.

“Our defense is really what’s going to hold our team together,” she said.

BTW, Mechelle sent out an encouraging tweet:

 16 hours ago:Had good conversation w/ NBA exec re: open letter to Adam Silver. Think we understand where each other is coming from, want best for WNBA.

Conversation! We LIKE conversation! Action is better, though…

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Snagged a surprise seat to the Lib-Dream game and some observations:

  1. Top to bottom, this is the most talented Liberty team we’ve ever had. AND they’re scrappy and hard-nosed. This post-season will go to whichever team is the healthiest.
  2. Wherever Sugar’s game went these past few years, it’s back. I sure hope it sticks around.
  3. As I watched Tina and Sugar and Matee and Essence and Kiah and Piph and Swin and Shoni and Tiffany on the court I thought, “Yah, that Old Big East Conference was pretty damn good.”
  4. I was really excited when the Lib drafted Stokes. I’m even more excited now.
  5. Wow, there’s a lot of talent on that Dream team… what on earth has the front office and coaching done to it…
  6. The physical, chippy play between the two teams reminded me of the old Cleveland Rockers days. On the court, there was absolutely NO love lost between the Lib and Cleveland.

    It was not a pretty game. It was a game with a lot of contact. It was a game with a lot of fouls called and a lot of fouls that could easily have been called. I don’t envy Denise Brooks and Tony Dawkins working with a rookie referee. (I also don’t envy them working with a rookie referee who looked like he had a chip on his shoulder the whole night because he’s shorter than most of the players- dude is about Piph’s height.) 

  7. Note to MSG management: you’re doing better getting folks into the Garden, but some of your security staff could use some “How to treat a fan like they’re a welcomed customer, not a body to pull a power trip on.

In other news:

Indiana:11 straight years in the playoffs. ’nuff said. A lot could be said for Stephanie being COY (nice job, there, coach Dunn!). I think Bill should be in the mix, and ditto with Fred Williams.

Friendly Bounce’s WNBA Podcast: Episode 3: Tulsa joins the playoff party. And yes, Tulsa’s playoff berth is bittersweet for Shock fans

With a minute left in Sunday’s game, Tulsa Shock forward Plenette Pierson motioned to the fans at the BOK Center. They got to their feet and cheered on their Shock to a 76-70 victory over the Indiana Fever and the franchise’s first playoff berth since moving to Oklahoma in 2010.

And I felt like giving the crowd a standing ovation.

Zach Plosia of Newsweek asks: Why Doesn’t the WNBA Have an Official Fantasy League?

Philip Hersh at the Chicago Tribune asks: 2015 a big year for women in sports, but will it carry over?

The question, as always, is whether the passion so many have shown for women’s sports is more than a summer romance, an abiding love more than a one-season stand, a caring for and celebrating the ordinary along with the extraordinary: the United States winning a quadrennial women’s soccer world championship; Serena Williams starting the U.S. Open on Monday as the first player with a chance at sweeping tennis’ four Grand Slam tournaments since Germany’s Steffi Graf did it in 1988; fighter Ronda Rousey, in a sport with an appeal once beholden to the prurience of watching women fight each other, now acclaimed by Sports Illustrated as the world’s most dominant athlete, no gender qualifier applied.

“I’d like to think this has been an important year in women’s sports,” said longtime TV commentator Mary Carillo, “and the Serena story going into the U.S. Open is going to be tremendous. Serena has to be considered one of the most dominant and important women athletes of all time.”

It didn’t look good for Lindsay when she went to the locker room, but she’s hoping for a quick recovery

Interesting: Sky’s Delle Donne signs with new marketing agency

Chicago Sky forward and WNBA All-Star Elena Delle Donne has a new agent for the second time in less than two years.

The 25-year-old face of women’s pro basketball signed last month with McLean, Va.-based sports marketing agency Octagon and agent Erin Kane after cutting ties with Wasserman Media Group of Los Angeles earlier this year.

Wasserman agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas, who has represented WNBA stars Brittney Griner, Maya Moore and Diana Taurasi among others, worked with Delle Donne from November 2013 until the beginning of 2015, when the forward returned to an exclusive agent relationship with her brother Gene.

from the Players’ Tribune: From Somewhere: Diana Taurasi (video and article) and We Are: New York Liberty

The Players’ Tribune presents “We Are: New York Liberty,” an immersive look inside the WNBA powerhouse team in the East. Through documentary video series, first-person narratives, photo diaries and travelogues, we give a voice to each player as the Liberty fight for the No. 1 overall playoff seed, and ultimately, a WNBA championship. ​​

NCAA news:

UH’s Chizer begins tenure on NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee

Q: What do you think it will be like in the room on Selection Monday with the excitement and big decisions you have to make?

A: You said the key words: Exciting and big decisions. I think it’s going to be a long couple of days, because at the end of the day we want to get it right. We’re going to spend a lot of time researching, looking at all the team’s portfolios, games they’ve won, RPIs, games they’ve lost, the top 10 teams they played against. What did they do at the beginning of the season, the middle of the season, the end of the season? You have to look at everything. There are going to be some big decisions and we’re going to do our due diligence to get it right.

Q: You have a college basketball background as a former play at UH and assistant coach. How much will that help you?

A: I do have a little basketball knowledge and was on the coaching staff here. I did a little something here while at the University of Houston. My name is in the record books a little bit (smiles). I tell the student-athletes on the women’s basketball team that if we play half-court, I think I can still get you. I can still shoot it. You start taking me full-court and that’s a different story.

Illinois: Chapter not over

 On more than one occasion Friday Illinois Athletics Director Mike Thomas talked about “turning the page.”

Fire head football coach Tim Beckman, turn the page.

Promote offensive coordinator Bill Cubit to interim head coach, turn the page.

As the “Summer From Hell” continues to play out one bonfire at a time in Champaign, there’s a good chance there are a few more pages to turn. And one of them may have Mike Thomas’ name on it.

Marist: Jarosz back at school, but eligibility unresolved

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from the U19 Championships? Ask Paul!

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

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

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

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

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

W news…

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

Mike weighs in: Who won three-way trade?

WHAT ATLANTA GETS

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEW YORK LIBERTY (12-5, 1st place)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who dat on the cover of the Chicago RedEye? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did you catch this: BETH BROOKE-MARCINIAK

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

A little more on the 2016 inductees: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speaking of Utah:

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

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

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

Speaking of rebuilding:

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

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

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

Speaking of prepping for the NCAA season: 

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

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

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

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

WHEN did that happen?

When did we collectively decide to reward bad behaviour?

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

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

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

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

Key and Peele: Education Center

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

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Well, CRAP

I was looking forward to catching up on wbball news (post and end-of-the-school-year-close-out and pre-SCUBA diving vacation) and then I see this: Diggins….ACL

Crap!

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No rest for the weary over at USA Basketball:

USA Basketball Women’s World University Games Team Roster Features Five USA Basketball Gold Medalists

The 12-member roster for the 2015 USA Basketball Women’s World University Games Team, which was announced following three days of trials that featured 51 athletes at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, features five USA Basketball gold medalists, including Jordin Canada(UCLA/Los Angeles, Calif.); Diamond DeShields (Tennessee/Norcross, Ga.); Rebecca Greenwell(Duke/Owensboro, Ky.); Erica McCall (Stanford/Bakersfield, Calif.); and Mercedes Russell(Tennessee/Springfield, Ore.).

Playing on their first USA Basketball team will be: Nina Davis (Baylor/Memphis, Tenn.); Chanise Jenkins(DePaul/Chicago, Ill.); Brionna Jones (Maryland/Havre de Grace, Md.); Aerial Powers (Michigan State/Detroit, Mich.); Courtney Range (California/Manteca, Calif.); Sydney Wiese (Oregon State/Phoenix, Ariz.); and Courtney Williams (South Florida/Folkston, Ga.).

Northwestern University head coach Joe McKeown will lead the 2015 USA Women’s World University Games Team, and he will be assisted by Holly Warlick from the University of Tennessee and Tanya Warren from the University of Northern Iowa.

Nneka Ogwumike Has Memories And Aspirations From The 2011 World University Games

During the competition, often alongside her sister, Chiney Ogwumike, Nneka observed many other sports, some of which she had never seen before, as a way to support the USA and her alma mater, Stanford University, which had several athletes competing in various events.

“I was lucky in that my sister and I met up with 10 other Stanford athletes. We saw a lot of our classmates. We actually watched them compete in their sporting events, which was really cool. I was really excited to watch our men’s volleyball team, because we had three Stanford athletes on that team. The games were super exciting.”

In addition to meeting up with classmates, Ogwumike made new friends in the village, which is something she advises the participants of the 2015 World University Games to do.

Roster Named For U.S. Pan American Games Women’s Basketball Team

Following three days of trials that featured 51 athletes at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the 12-member roster for the 2015 U.S. Pan American Women’s Basketball Team today was announced and features seven players who have won at least one gold medal with USA Basketball.

The retuning gold medalists include: Linnae Harper (Kentucky/Chicago, Ill.); Moriah Jefferson(Connecticut/Glenn Heights, Texas); Stephanie Mavunga (North Carolina/Brownsburg, Ind.); Tiffany Mitchell (South Carolina/Charlotte, N.C.); Kelsey Plum (Washington/Poway, Calif.); Taya Reimer (Notre Dame/Fishers, Ind.);and Breanna Stewart (Connecticut/North Syracuse, N.Y.).

Playing on their first USA Basketball team will be: Sophie Brunner (Arizona State/Freeport, Ill.);Alaina Coates (South Carolina/Irmo, S.C.);Caroline Coyer (Villanova/Oak Hill, Va.); Shatori Walker-Kimbrough(Maryland/Aliquippa, Pa.); and Courtney Williams (Texas A&M/Houston, Texas).

The University of Iowa’s Lisa Bluder will lead the 2015 U.S. Pan American Women’s Basketball Team, along with assistant coaches Michelle Clark-Heard of Western Kentucky University and Scott Rueck of Oregon State University.

Some nice “Catching up with…videos on their site.

In the crossover world of NCAA and USA sits Doug Bruno, who reflects on 29 years and looks to future

From Georgia: Retirement looks good on Andy Landers. Casual is his color.

Andy Landers, former Georgia women’s basketball coach and current caretaker of cows, announced his retirement in mid-March, leaving Georgia women’s basketball not only in search of a new leader but also a new identity.

“When you have been as good as they have been for so many years, you become synonymous with your school and it’s really hard to differentiate Georgia from Andy,” University of Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma said. “If you were talking about Georgia basketball, the conversation always started with Andy. He was unique. In the women’s basketball circles, there just weren’t many guys like him.”

Landers spent 36 seasons developing a program, players and personal relationships with everyone he encountered. He was the Lady Dogs.

Yikes. This is sounding ugly: Illinois women’s basketball assistant coach leaves program under storm of accusations

The Daily Illini obtained letters addressed to Chancellor Wise that were sent by the families of Jacqui Grant, Taylor Tuck and Taylor Gleason, which detailed verbal and emotional abuse on the part of Bollant and Divilbiss.
**
One of the claims made by the letters, which was echoed by Lydia Tuck and LaKeisha Coleman — Amarah Coleman’s mother — was that Bollant and Divilbiss enforced what was called the “Dog Pound.” The “Dog Pound” was the team’s group of nonstarters, and was required to go to extra practices.

“I told him the dog pound is where strays go,” Lydia Tuck said. “It would be different if Illinois’ mascot was Huskies or Wolves.”

Lydia Tuck’s other daughter, Morgan, was a starter for the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team, which won the 2015 National Championship. Lydia said Morgan’s time at UConn has been “night and day different” from what Taylor has experienced at Illinois.

The Hartford Courant has All The News You Need To Get Ready For WNBA Season

From Jayda: Jenny Boucek in ‘natural spot’ as Storm’s coach

Jenny Boucek loves redemption stories.

She can relax on the couch with a glass of wine and freely ride the emotions of a favorite flick such as “Dirty Dancing.” But before you characterize Boucek’s return to head coaching in the WNBA as redeeming, know this is not that. (WHB history note: Remember this and this from Mechelle back in ’09?)

 “It’s not about me at all,” she said of being named the Storm’s fourth coach in the franchise’s 15-year history. Boucek was an assistant in Seattle from 2003-05 and the past five seasons under previous coach Brian Agler.
“People are feeling it is right for me to be here right now, and I feel it’s right, so I’m here,” she said.

Mixed news for the W’s Shock: Glory Johnson absent from Shock training camp, but Riquna Williams back from injury

From the Republican American: Being best takes on new meaning for Taurasi

Shortly after her college career ended, she was selected first overall in the WNBA Draft by the Mercury. That first season she not only won Rookie of the Year honors but was also named to the All-WNBA first team, and then she finished up 2004 by winning an Olympic gold medal and an ESPY for being the best female athlete in the world.

Her career hasn’t slowed down since then. She’s won three WNBA championships (2007, 2009, 2014), two more Olympic gold medals (2008, 2012) and five EuroLeague titles (four with Spartak Moscow, 2007-10; one with EMMC Ekaterinburg, 2013).

“It may sound corny, but from the day I graduated I said, ‘I am going to totally give myself to this, and I want to make sure that at home and around the world everyone knows how good I am,'” Taurasi said. “There was no way I was going to be part-time. I am a full-time basketball player and have been the 10-11 years. I always believed that if you are not playing basketball, you are not getting better.”

Ddd you catch Diana on Grantland?

Cool: Schimmels, McCoughtry part of seminar panel

Former University of Louisville women’s basketball players Angel McCoughtry, Shoni Schimmel and Jude Schimmel will be among the speakers at next Thursday’s Inspiring Women ENERGY Seminar Series at the KFC Yum! Center. The event is hosted by the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream – McCoughtry and Shoni Schimmel’s team.

The luncheon, scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., is being held in advance of the May 23 WNBA preseason doubleheader at the arena. The topic for the luncheon will be “The Future of Women in Sports Leadership”

Not so cool, as the beat(down) goes on, this time from the Boston Globe: Isiah Thomas, WNBA a disturbing match

Now, the WNBA Board of Governors will decide whether Thomas is ownership material. Asked about the approval process, WNBA president Laurel Richie said the league would “collect background information” on Thomas, but she declined to discuss whether that would include a reexamination of the sexual harassment case. Richie emphasized that she had “great respect for the process and great respect for our Board” and anticipated thoughtful discussions.

That’s the restrained and responsible thing to say. But even with the process barely under way, the right and responsible thing to do is clear: Keep Thomas out of the ownership ranks. 

Arizona Central: Boivin: Just say no to Isiah Thomas, WNBA

No. No. No.

Approval would send a horrible message to young girls who look up to a league that has been groundbreaking in terms of giving female athletes opportunities.

Sexual harassment should be punished.

Not rewarded.

Fox Sports says Phil Jackson reportedly ‘not happy’ with Isiah Thomas’ hiring by Liberty (Though I have a funny feeling it’s more about PHIL’s future, not the message the hiring sends)

I wish some of these “non-ESPN folks” articles would mention the elephant in the room. Blocking Dolan’s idiotic wishes will likely cost the league the New York Liberty…

On the opposite side of the spectrum: Thank you: Retirement awaits for longtime girls sports advocate Marie Sugiyama

As a young woman, Marie Sugiyama would take any game.

Pickup softball? Sure. Field hockey? Yup. Even that weird thing they called girls basketball that wasn’t really basketball? That game with 12 players on the court and rules about who could and who could not cross the half-court line?

Sure, Sugiyama said yes to those offers, too, but that version of basketball had to rankle. Sugiyama, 79, never did like people telling her or other women where they can go, what they can do, what line they can cross.

Sugiyama, who next month will retire as the commissioner of the North Bay League after 42 years on the job, started her journey as a tomboy who liked to play whatever sport was out there. But she finished as a local hall of fame coach, athlete, administrator, teacher and champion for all young athletes, but especially female athletes.

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

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

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

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

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

From David Woods at the Indy Star:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gone.

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

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

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

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

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

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I’m kinda psyched to get to the Garden this year. From Mechelle: 

Boyd, a WBCA All-American this season, seems eager to traverse three time zones and jump right into a different kind of classroom setting. She will get the chance to learn from veteran guards such as Tanisha Wright (a free-agent signee who spent her first 10 seasons in Seattle), Epiphanny Prince (obtained in February from Chicago in a trade for Cappie Pondexter) and Essence Carson.

“I think those players are going to prepare me and challenge me each day to get better,” said Boyd, who averaged 13.4 points, 6.8 assists and 7.7 rebounds this season at Cal. “I just want to learn and figure out how we can be great as a franchise.”

Speakin’ of Bill (and how he kept dragging the old Detroit Shock behind him), a little WATN? with Tweety: Return to WNBA unlikely for Flint’s Deanna Nolan after success in Russia

Hardcore women’s basketball fans may remember Deanna Nolan as a silky smooth guard for her WNBA championship career with the Detroit Shock.

That was a few years ago, but she hasn’t hung up her sneakers just yet.

She’s still got it.

At 35, the five-time WNBA All-Star is wrapping up her eighth season in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Nolan plays for the UMMC Ekaterinburg basketball team, which competes in both the Russian and Euro leagues.

More post draft stuff:

Mike Peden at Full Court offers up his 2015 WNBA Draft Analysis: Minnesota makes the most of draft pick trades with New York

Atlanta: Massengale living a dream

Chicago: Aleighsa Welch ready to continue career in the WNBA

 Following a whirlwind few weeks, Aleighsa Welch was back in a place she feels most comfortable on Monday – South Carolina’s practice facility inside the Carolina Coliseum.

Welch, recently drafted by the Chicago Sky of the WNBA, is back in Columbia preparing for graduation and her life as a professional basketball player.

“I finally got a chance to sit down after the draft to think about and realize you’re just a few steps away from playing in the WNBA,” said Welch. “That part of it has been exciting.”

Welch proud of legacy she’ll leave at USC

Tulsa: Mungedi drafted by Tulsa Shock

From walk-on, to Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, to Women’s National Basketball Association draftee. Former Nevada center Mimi Mungedi was selected by the Tulsa Shock with the 25th pick in the WNBA Draft on Thursday, April 16.

The Shock took the 6-foot-8 Gabon native with the first pick in the third round, making Mungedi just the second Wolf Pack player to be selected in the WNBA Draft (Tahnee Robinson was the first in 2011). Mungedi’s WNBA odyssey has been one for the ages. She didn’t pick up a basketball until she was 12 years old. Mungedi averaged a mere five minutes a game as a walk-on freshman at Nevada, before starting 11 games as a sophomore.

Then came her coming out party. Mungedi won back-to-back MWC Defensive Player of the Year awards her junior and senior season. She left her mark in the Nevada record books, setting single-seasons record in blocks (74) and career blocks (162).

Old college stuff to chew on from Charlie: Way-too-early Top 25 for 2015-16

And the transfers keep on coming:

West Virginia’s Bre McDonald and freshman guard Tyara Warren will not return.

Kansas State announced the departures of Meeks, Jones.

Sad news from the West Coast: DHS girls basketball pioneer Barb Iten dies

Barb Iten, the former longtime area educator who led Davis High to the first-ever Sac-Joaquin Section girls basketball championship, died at her home in Vacaville on Sunday. She was 65.

Iten coached only one season (1974-75) at DHS, but it was a memorable one.

That team (which featured the legendary Denise Curry) went 23-1 — including an unofficial split of two games with UC Davis. The Devils beat Grant, 64-31, for what would be the school’s first section crown in modern CIF history.

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So, today is coach Lin Dunn’s last regular season WNBA game. She and her team worked their butts off to make sure it was not her LAST game in the W. Congrats to her, her staff, the players that stepped up, the rehab folks that kept Catch on the right track, and Tamika Catchings, for making the best of a short season.

Speaking of “on the right track”: Cancer didn’t slow Michael Cooper

Rest up, y’all. Those left standing are about ready to rumble.

Yes, C.O is the favorite for ROY, but what about O.S? Examining the case for Odyssey Sims as Rookie of the Year

As you’re waiting, have you caught up on all the 9 for IX films?

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does the basketball. And yes, I know I’m a little over an hour away from Colorado Springs and the U18 team practice… but it’s just. not. going. to. happen.

So, whadImiss? (Thanks, Richard)

Gasp! The New York Times noticed the New York Liberty: A Rookie as Feisty as She Is Steady

Carson said that despite Cruz’s size, her speed and on-court relentlessness made for a seamless transition to the league. At 5 feet 9 inches and 155 pounds, Cruz is smaller than other W.N.B.A. guards. But her willingness to draw contact during drives to the basket and her flashy ball-handling have made her a fan favorite, and she often draws some of the largest cheers during pregame introductions, along with Pondexter, a six-time All-Star, and Tina Charles, who grew up in Queens.

On Aug. 8, in part because of Cruz’s rising popularity, the Liberty will hold their first Noche Latina game, which will celebrate Hispanic culture. Her parents will be in New York for the event.

“I didn’t expect it at all, but I appreciate it,” Cruz said of the adulation. “They make me feel like I’m home.”

Gasp! The New York Times noticed the Phoenix Mercury!  A Two-Handed Push Elevates Phoenix Mercury to No. 1

“We didn’t win a championship, and we didn’t lose one tonight,” said Brondello, a former point guard and two-time Olympic silver medalist for Australia who is in her first season with the Mercury. “It’s more about, O.K., let’s learn from it and move on to the next game. That’s been our mentality through this whole streak.”

Taurasi, however, summed up the night’s frustration and physicality in her inimitable style. Both teams complained about the officiating, leading to three technical fouls, the last two on Brondello and Taurasi in the final minute. So what did the Mercury learn from this game?

“We’ve got to get better at football,” Taurasi said. “We will. If we’ve got to put our helmets on, that’s what we’re going to do from here on out.”

Surprise! About that Phx/Minny matchup: Rebounding leads Lynx past Mercury

In a game with such a wealth of riches, talent-wise, it might seem downright boring to focus on something as fundamental as rebounding.

Yet if you wanted to point to one thing that decided the heavyweight bout Thursday between the two best teams in the WNBA, you gotta go with the glass. Maya Moore and her Lynx outrebounded Diana Taurasi and her Mercury by a handy margin in front of a jazzed-up Minnesota crowd of 9,513.

From Nate:

While the Phoenix Mercury were storming through the WNBA, the Minnesota Lynx were quietly keeping themselves within striking distance without their full complement of talent.

And in tonight’s nationally televised game on NBA TV, the Lynx showed just how dangerous they can be at full strength by ending the Mercury’s league-high 16-game winning streak with a 75-67 win in Minneapolis. Neither team played particularly well, but in a significant regular season game that got increasingly physical throughout the starters that had been missing for so long loomed large for the Lynx.

From the Bright Side of the Sun: Phoenix Mercury: The war rages with the Lynx, the streak is over, and the season is just getting started

Awesome! (And not really WNBA related, BUT) NBA ref Violet Palmer to marry longtime partner

Equally awesome! Delle Donne savors return to court

Guzzling Pedialyte on the Chicago Sky bench, there was very little that could have sapped the childlike joy from Elena Delle Donne on Thursday night.

“It was amazing,” Delle Donne said after scoring 10 points in 11 minutes in her first game back in a month, an 87-74 Chicago victory over New York that keeps the Sky a half-game behind the Liberty for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. “Even when [coach Pokey Chatman] had her little freak-out at one point, it was great. It’s just awesome to be back with the team, competing, being back out on the floor and I’m just enjoying every second of it.”

Nerd City at Work! Chiney Ogwumike records 12th double-double as Sun hold off Stars

Optimism! Shock looks at rebuilt WNBA contenders as assurance in own direction

As the season nears its end and the playoff push continues, the Tulsa Shock appears to have the perfect combination of short-sightedness and perspective.

Finally! (we know) Tulsa Shock’s Riquna Williams to undergo season-ending knee surgery

From Mirin Fader at SlamOnline: Dream Big – Rookie PG Shoni Schimmel has brought Showtime to the WNBA. But her transition hasn’t been easy.

“There are big things in store for Shoni’s future. Everyone can see that,” Thompson continues. “But that would probably be the one thing that I think that Shoni is really taking the time to get better at.”

Schimmel is specifically working on her one-on-one defense. She wants to be able to contain the elite players in the league, not just be able to break them down with a single crossover and get to the basket.

Every day she works on her agility, using ladders to develop more quickness to help with sliding laterally so she can better stay in front of whoever she’s guarding.

This isn’t the first time Schimmel has had to make adjustments.

From Advocate.com: ESPN Short Lifesize: Brittney Griner Highlights Income Disparity for WNBA Stars

In other news:

Tough news for the Quakers: Stephanie Cheney decides to leave Penn women’s basketball

On November 14, Penn women’s basketball will begin the road to its Ivy League title defense. However, that title defense will have to come without one of the team’s young developing forwards.

Rising sophomore Stephanie Cheney, who played in 22 games for the Quakers last season, has left the program, leaving the team without a piece in the post that coach Mike McLaughlin could have utilized.

Roots! Women’s Basketball Adds Clare Berenato to The Coaching Staff

“Clare comes from great basketball bloodlines,” said Gaitley.  “Her mom, Agnus was the head coach at Pitt and her aunt [Bernadette McGlade] is our A-10 Commissioner.  She has great knowledge of the game and is a terrific people person.  We are excited to welcome her to the Fordham family.”

This explains it! I’ve already gotten two inquiries about the Maggie Dixon Classic (for those who don’t know, I’ve been gathering a group of folks to attend. Started with 25. Last year we had 140.) UConn women’s basketball will play St. John’s in Maggie Dixon Classic

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First, I take a break from work (yes, it was a looooong day) and walk over to the Garden to yell for my team against Liberty-West. And then I realize I have to yell AT my team to “GUARD THAT #7 PERSON!” (Jia Perkins, who is lighting it up this season — or is it just against NY?).

The first half was a heck of a lot of fun, with both teams hitting shots and playing little, if any defense. And then *cue the horror music* came the third period. Lordy, the Lib are awful on defense. They’re slow to close out on the perimeter shooters (no speed, no willingness to get over/through screens) and have no defensive smarts or communication in the paint. Just give-and-go, back-door’em to death, y’all.

Which is exactly what San Antonio did. But Billie Jean King was there, so that was a good thing…

Kayla McBride looks like a seasoned vet. Her intensity is driven into the court, not the stands. We’ll see how she does once the WNBA folks get real W game tape on her, but she’s quick, fast and fearless.

Then Kia (who is trying to make a liar outta me (it’s a twitter thing)) leads the Mystics over the Sun.

THEN the still Catch-less Fever rally from 16 down to defeat the ‘stics.

Then TULSA whips Phoenix and gets their first win of the season. (Dish ‘n Swish on Digg)

Then SEATTLE trips up Minnesota, giving the Lynx their first loss of the season.

Then LA wakes up and gives Chicago their first thumping of the season.

(I fly to Minnesota to present at a conference, where the Lynx aren’t, but I DO meet a first-year season ticket holder while attending a Claudia Schmidt concert.)

Then Atlanta gives Chicago their SECOND thumping of the season.

Then Alex Bentley (!) leads Connecticut over a tired Indiana Fever.

Then Phoenix outscored San Antonio 14-2 in the second overtime to secure the win.

Don’t know about you, but I’m POOPED. (Could be that I’m sleeping in the wrong time zone.) I guess the lesson is: Buckle up! It’s going to be a bumpy ride this WNBA season. And maybe it’s RICHARD’s turn to carry the WHB jinx: Lynx And Sky Overcome Obstacles To Start Strong In WNBA, Plus Ups And Downs From Around The League

Oh, and SWEET!

 

 

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Not.

And I’m sure it hurts more ’cause the Storm escaped the Shock, 62-60. There’s no doubt Tulsa IS better, but they’re still 0-5. 

“We just need to continue to work hard,” Shock coach Fred Williams said. “It’s better being in close games than blowouts. I think this team is really learning over the course of the season. We’re a team that when we step on the floor, we want to be competitive for 40 minutes and I think we’re establishing that right now.”

If Cappie and Tina can get into a groove at the same time, and the team can figure out how to stop turning the ball over and giving the opposition easy baskets, then maybe people will be concerned about Lib. Until then, they can’t beat a Tamika-less Fever. (And, after a nice opening game v. Chicago, I’m getting worried about Essence.) In the meantime, Sue Favor is writing about Delisha Milton: Veteran Delisha Milton-Jones still a factor in the WNBA

Proving the adage “it’s not how much you score but WHEN you score,” Ivory Latta helped the Mystics to an important triple-overtime win over visiting Los Angeles. Of note:

Led by Hartley and Dolson, the Mystics reserves outscored their counterparts 63-10. Monique Currie and Jelena Milovanovic each scored 12 points.

Also, Toliver is saying Здравствуйте! for a while (She’s doin’ professional basketball stuff in another country.) Tough for LA – ’cause Candice Wiggins just had knee surgery.

Not quite the start to the season the Dream were hoping for, but I’m betting they had a win marked in their calendars when they went up against the oh-so-struggling Sun. Whoops.

Maya cooled off… a bit (“only” 18 points). But Seimone picked up the slack (25pts), helping the Lynx fend of the troublesome Stars.

Debbie Antonelli was happy. The Merc scored 100 and the Sky score 101.

And look who’s going to be on the *gack* Bachelorette tonight?

Mechelle’s got something to say: Lynx still No. 1, but East teams climb

The Lynx appear to be in cruise control already, while the Shock are looking for a little stretch of home cooking to help them get off the schneid. Those are our first and last teams in the Week 3 WNBA power rankings, the same as a week ago. In between, though, there were some big moves. (We’re looking at you, Washington and Indiana.)

As June gets underway and WNBA teams really start to jell, things will get interesting. Expect more movement. But will someone strongly challenge the defending champion Lynx? Well, they play five of their next six games on the road, so we’ll see.

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From the Tulsa World: Kloppenburg fired as Tulsa Shock coach

And from Michael Peters at the World: Moral to the Gary Kloppenburg story: Nice guys do finish last

It never dawned on me Kloppenburg wouldn’t get at least one more year as Tulsa’s coach until a Mike Brown story late this season.

Only when team ownership was quoted in our story as giving Kloppenburg the most lukewarm support possible did I realize the coach was in trouble.

The Shock made progress during Kloppenburg’s tenure in Tulsa.

On that issue, there also seems to be universal agreement.

Did he make enough? Obviously, the Shock’s management didn’t think so.

*Julie Plank. Paging Julie Plank.*

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Chicago’s airport: Free Internets!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you: Westover girls’ basketball coach Gene Arrington retires

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guess Diggins got her birthday wish.

The Laurel was in Minny: 

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

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

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

Guess so.

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

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

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

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

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

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ever come up with the stoopid idea?”

WNBA rookies lift viewership, sales

“Oh.”

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The U-19 is still looking for a challenge: US 103, Mali 26; US 103,  China 56. Today they face the Netherlands, Tuesday it’s Canada and Wednesday it’s France. Look for the semi’s to be streamed on July 27th via FIBATV.

Meanwhile,  the elders were making memories at World University Games

What did Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper miss out on while she was in Kazan, Russia, playing for the United States women’s basketball team at the World University Games?

* A couple of Husker summer practices.

* The baseball All-Star Game.

* “Sharknado” on SyFy.

She spent more than 30 hours on airplanes (each way), learned to like — sort of — Russian food, and found it wasn’t a problem playing in front of the opposing crowd in the championship game because, well, she couldn’t understand a word the fans were saying.

A health(ier) Indiana is a hungry Indiana.

New York doesn’t want to see the Sky any more with or without an injured or not injured Big Syl.

The Merc didn’t want to see Sammy anymore (and some suggested waiving her was an affirmation of an alarming trend in the world of basketball ), but Trader Bill is interested: New York Liberty sign Long Island’s Samantha Prahalis to a 7-day contract.

Speaking of bigs: Glory and Liz are rocking the Shock, who’ve won three in a row. From Tulsa World photographer Mike Simons:

“She can’t cover you Liz!”

That is what I heard several times from the crowd at the Tulsa Shock game against the Atlanta Dream. It seemed to be true as Elizabeth Cambage seemed to do whatever she pleased on the floor during their game against the Atlanta Dream. She finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds in their 90-63 victory over Atlanta.

I, like other newspaper photographers, spend a lot of time at sporting events. It is fun, and rare, when you see someone rise above the rest and get into the zone as I have heard it called. I saw it in the Cotton Bowl as Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel dismantled Oklahoma’s defense. I saw it as I covered NBA basketball player O.J. Mayo in high school. There have been others, and there will be others. It was exciting to watch it yesterday with Cambage.

And yes, if Seattle continues to miss out on upset opportunities, maybe Tulsa will make the playoffs. Though San Antonio is still proving to be stubborn.

If and when Griner gets healthy and Gaines figures out to how to use her on offense, the Merc might really threaten Minnesota. As it is, this time Moore was just enough to help the Lynx survive.

WNBA’s Zoll-Norman shares message: Be yourself

She doesn’t even like the term “coming out” because hers was not some great revelation and had nothing to do with the timing of other pro athletes like Jason Collins and fellow WNBA player Brittney Griner who recently spoke out about being gay.

“There’s no secret,” Zoll-Norman said. “The interview kind of took a turn. It was really supposed to be about going to the pride parade and me being in it representing the Sky organization, which is an amazing thing. I had never been in a pride parade before and it kind of turned out to be that it was a ‘coming out.’ I don’t really like that term because if I was straight I wouldn’t have to come out and say I was straight. I don’t think that has anything to do with me as a basketball player.

“It turned out that it was an inspiration for some people, which I can appreciate, and I’m glad that it was. I just hope that everybody knows that they can be themselves.”

Purdue is down one: Sophomore Taylor Manuel will transfer from Purdue

Loss in West Virginia and Tennessee:

No player in the history of West Virginia high school girls basketball ever has or ever will be able to match the impact Mary Ostrowski had on the sport.

A standout at Parkersburg Catholic, Ostrowski-who lost her long battle with cancer on Friday at age 51-was the pioneer, the trailblazer, the player who set the standards for all others.

She was West Virginia girls basketball’s first superstar, winning the state player of the year award the first three seasons, while leading Catholic to 88 straight wins and two state championships.

Obviously, she was an extremely gifted player. But what set her apart from others who also fell into that category was her work ethic, which was legendary.

The news is getting worse out of Oakland: Players’ shocking allegations against former NCAA women’s basketball coach: As many as 15 former players and others close to the Oakland University women’s basketball program allege Beckie Francis fixated on their weight, pushed her religious views and used intimidation.  

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coach Coale: 

Today has been ridiculous. We had a meeting this morning at 10:30 a.m. before practice, then we had shootaround at noon … then we packed our bags so that they could be loaded on the truck at 6 p.m. … then we left for the gym at 7 p.m. … and we’re at the airport now and it’s 2:45 a.m. Somewhere in the middle of all that we played really well and won a gold medal at the World University Games.

Our team played our best game together at the most important time. We shared the ball on offense, we ran in transition, and we got down and guarded a Russian squad that can shred you if you’re not all on the same page. We defended their ball screens and adjusted to their adjustments while flooding the paint and daring them to launch three’s. And we had a counterpunch for every punch they threw. That’s what great players do on big, bright stages.

Meanwhile, Carl Ademac is aware that, playing for the U19 team, Another title is within Stewart’s reach. Stewart is also offering content to Syracuse.com : Breanna Stewart Diary: Team USA wins tournament, explores Canary Islands, tries water sports

Former Cicero-North Syracuse star and current Connecticut sensation Breanna Stewart is participating in another summer of USA Basketball, an annual tradition with her that dates to 2009. This year, Stewart is headed with her USA teammates to the FIBA U19 World Championship in Lithuania, scheduled for July 18-28.

We’ve engaged Stewart to write diaries in the past, but this summer we thought it might be fun to chronicle how 12 gifted basketball players spend their free time while practicing and playing internationally. Here’s the second excerpt in Stewart’s latest summer diary (She’s supplying the Instagram photos and videos):

Paul Nielson is Looking forward to some fabulous fun in Lithuania (lucky dog!)

Watching youth basketball is a serious buzz at any time as far as I am concerned. Seeing young players cutting their teeth in their national team colours for a few years before they fight to make it with the seniors on the big stage is just wonderful.It is particularly interesting because bodies are still growing, attitudes are still being shaped and of course, skills and know-how are in their respective infancy.

To be able to get a close look at these talents not only on the court, but also looking at how they interact with the tournament environment generally, is genuinely humbling for me because there will be many great talents and athletes on display.

From Aaron Lommers at the Herald Net: Who’s the top rookie in the WNBA? Storm players share their thoughts on league’s first-year players

Speaking of rookies, from Melissa at the Los Angeles Times: WNBA’s Brittney Griner has learned to rise above it all

In her short time in the league, Griner has become a celebrity. The first openly gay athlete to sign with Nike, she can’t go anywhere without being approached by fans seeking her autograph, she said.

But the memories of being bullied by peers while she was growing up still haunt her. Griner remembers those who refused to believe she was a girl and those who questioned her sexual orientation. Others groped her and taunted her verbally, she said.

Zack at Swish Appeal says Rookies help put Mystics back above .500 but the Truthtella wonders: Are the Mystics really rebuilding?

Can a team claim itself to be in rebuilding mode when

  • not one of its current starters has less than six years of WNBA experience?
  • two of them (Currie and Snow) are at least 30 years old?
  • all but one current starter played in Washington last year?
  • the decision was made to hire the all-time winningest head coach in WNBA history? 

Ray Floriani writes Indiana Fever rookie Layshia Clarendon making progress in her rookie year

Philly’s CBS station notices Temple Product Dupree Still A WNBA Standout

Dupree is in her 8th season in the league, her fourth in Phoenix, after being drafted in the first round by Chicago back in 2006.

“Still haven’t met my major goal, which is to win a WNBA championship, but the last seven years have been amazing,” Dupree told KYW Newsradio recently. “I’d take this any day over a regular 9-to-5 (job). Been a lot of fun and hopefully I have a few years left in me.”

Kyle Ratke, Web Editorial Associate at the Lynx site notices Whalen’s recent scoring surge: Stepping Up For Seimone. At the Pioneer Press, Bruce Brothers chimes in with: Janel McCarville starting to play like her old self

Two seasons away from the WNBA, plus a disagreement with a team overseas, had left her pro basketball future in limbo.

McCarville, 30, was at home in Stevens Point, Wis., when the Lynx acquired her rights in March. She started the 2012-13 season playing in Turkey but left her team in January because she wasn’t getting paid, she said. When the Lynx called, she was overweight and out of shape and returning to what she considered the unlikeliest spot for her to ever play again.

Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve mentioned early this season that the former University of Minnesota star’s head had to be spinning because of all the changes.

Goody Goodrich: Behind Angel and a red-hot Riquna, the Shock defeated the Storm handily.

A lot of missed shots for the Dream meant a lot of rebounds… but LA was playing at home, and everyone else picked up the slack as Candace had an off scoring night.

Walk down memory lane as pilight reviews The worst trades in WNBA history

During the Sparks-Shock game last night, Rebecca Lobo suggested the trade that brought Kristi Toliver to Los Angeles was one of the most one sided in league history. Bad trades have been subject for debate among WNBA fans since Mikiko Hagiwara was traded to the Mercury in 1997. I even blogged on it myself back when WNBA.com was sponsoring fan blogs and Kristi Toliver was just the hero of the Final Four. Let’s update things and see where the Toliver trade ranks and see if any other recent trades are as bad or worse. Here are the top 10 worst trades in WNBA history:

Do svidaniya, Sveta: Abrosimova retiring

The http://www.lovewomensbasketball.com site found an interview to championat.com in which former UConn star Svetlana Abrosimova said she is ending her playing career as she embarks on the next stage of her basketball career which could include being named the Russian Basketball Federation President.

Nice: Charles Honored With Margo Dydek Award

The Connecticut Sun recognized Tina Charles as its 2013 Woman of Inspiration, honoring her with the second annual Margo Dydek Award prior to tipoff of the game against the Chicago Sky on July 12th at Mohegan Sun Arena. 

The reigning WNBA MVP, Charles was selected for this award because of her remarkable generosity and tireless efforts to help those in need. Charles follows Rebecca Lobo, who received the inaugural Margo Dydek Award last August. She received a donation of $1,000 from the Connecticut Sun Foundation. 

“Margo was a special person who was known as much for her open spirit as she was for her talent on the basketball court,” Connecticut Sun Vice President and General Manager Chris Sienko said of Dydek, who died unexpectedly at the age of 37 following a heart attack on May 27, 2011. “In that sense, she has a great deal in common with Tina, who embodies so much of what Margo was about.”

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the reaction to Liz Cambage’s  return to the Shock.

Liz Cambage said she really wanted to join the Tulsa Shock last August for the second half of the WNBA season, but things didn’t work out.

She was drained from helping her native Australia to a bronze medal finish in the London Summer Olympics.

“I wanted to come back so bad last year. It wasn’t until I got onto the plane, and I had a bit of an event, a breakdown,” she said.

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Have you done your homework?

From Full Court

Clay: Team plus talent will win the West

Teams are more than talent.

Sure, a supremely talented group of players can overwhelm a roster with significantly lesser ability, but when two talented groups go head-to-head, “team” becomes more important.

In the competitive Western Conference, there are three very talented rosters, but only one has the balance that comes when ability matches position, when options are many and holes are few. That roster belongs to Minnesota, which is why the preview begins with …

The Sparks are set to catch fire

Seattle must weather an injury storm

WNBA Preview: Is there a beast in the East?

Ever since Dick Vitale high-volumed his way onto a TV screen, American sports fans have listened to a host of commentators talk about coaches as if they were players. “Rick Pitino sure shut down Trey Burke in this one,” an announcer will intone, as if Pitino were out on the court personally shadowing Burke.

In truth, of course, Pitino could have had the greatest strategy in the world, but if his players didn’t have the talent to execute it, it wouldn’t matter. Or, to put it another way, coaching IQ directly correlates with player talent.

Sun shake it up — but did they really need to?

The Dream might miss the point

And this cool little review: Once upon a jersey: The evolution of sponsorship in the WNBA

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, names were everything.If that play was a basketball game, and one team was the Montagues and the other the Capulets, the name splashed on the jersey would be an honor for the players to display and each fan to behold. The names of the teams (families) in this game would represent a bitter rivalry between sworn enemies, and would contribute to a competitive matchup.

The only difference here is that, unlike in the play, this basketball game would not end with the key players dying by suicide. (And I for one would like to keep it that way.)

From ESPN

Michelle says: Pondexter among MVP candidates

Mechelle writes: Defending champ back for more

On May 31, the Indiana Fever will unveil their WNBA championship banner and receive their rings. There were some times over the winter months when Fever president and general manager Kelly Krauskopf checked the WNBA website and once again had a feeling of amazement that these things were going to happen.

“I’d see, ‘Get your Fever 2012 WNBA championship gear here.’ And I’d think, ‘Wow, that’s us,'” Krauskopf said. “Then you start reflecting on the journey it is to get there — all the years, tweaking the roster, everything the team went through. When we started the playoffs badly against Atlanta, when Katie [Douglas] went down in Connecticut. That whole journey makes it more special.”

It’s a lengthy path that, for Krauskopf, reaches way back to 1999, when she was named chief operating officer of the expansion Fever.

Michelle asks: Is Harding L.A.’s missing piece?

Speaking of missing, Michelle knows the Storm will have new look in 2013

“We’ve played a lot of games since I’ve been here without Lauren,” Storm coach Brian Agler said, referring to the fact that Jackson hasn’t played a full season for the Storm since 2010 because of injuries and the 2012 Olympic break. “Not that we enjoy it, but we have a good feel for how that is … We haven’t played many games without Sue.”

Mechelle knows Mike T is Ready to resurrect the Mystics

She also is aware that the Plot thickens as 2013 season nears

Last week, women’s basketball Twitter queen Skylar Diggins sent out a short, perfectly apt tweet. It was in response to a big surprise with her new team, the Tulsa Shock, but it could apply to the entire WNBA season, which officially starts this week.

 “The plot thickens …” was @SkyDigg4’s comment. And indeed, there are a lot of storylines to follow, many of which could — and probably will — impact who we see in October battling for the WNBA championship.

With their

WEST BREAKDOWNS

and

EAST BREAKDOWNS

it’s Prediction Time! Which team will win the East? and Which team will win the West? and the crew offers their 2013 WNBA season predictions

The AP Mystery Writer says Strong offseason, filled with major moves, raises the WNBA bar for the Tulsa Shock

Are the pieces finally falling in place for the Tulsa Shock?

Time will tell, but if the preseason prognostications of the league’s general managers are any indication, Tulsa finally looks like a playoff contender. A survey found the Shock as the WNBA’s most improved team.

The AP’s John Marshall wonders: Is this the beginning of The Brittney Griner Era?

AP Mystery Writer deux is in Texas and offers this: Steady and sure, Silver Stars — one of the WNBA’s most consistent clubs — slide into new year

AP Mystery Writer trois is covering Chicago: Sky is the limit for Chicago, Delle Donne as WNBA team hopes to turn tide in 2013

APMW4 is California Dreaming: Candace Parker resumes chase for her 1st WNBA title with LA Sparks

Candace Parker is ready to resume her pursuit of the only major title to elude the basketball star in her career.

She wants a WNBA championship to add to her two Olympic gold medals and two NCAA championships at Tennessee. She even won a title with her Russian pro team during the offseason.

Parker thought the Los Angeles Sparks had the makings of a title team last year, but they came up short, getting swept in the Western Conference finals by Minnesota.

APMW5 is at the Casino: Connecticut Sun eyeing WNBA title with new head coach

Mike Thibault led Connecticut to two WNBA Finals in his decade as the team’s head coach, but never won a championship.

That will be Anne Donovan’s charge this season.

Connecticut fired Thibault and replaced him with the Hall of Fame standout in the offseason. The move came despite a year in which the Sun posted an East-best 25-9 record before losing to Indiana in the conference championship series.

“Usually, when you’re taking over a team, you’re restructuring, you’re tearing it down, you’re building it up again,” said Donovan, who won a WNBA title as coach of Seattle in 2004, beating the Sun in the finals. “That’s certainly not the case here in Connecticut.

Randy Hill at Fox Sports South is wondering: Griner will be huge, but can she make WNBA big?

The arrival of Griner and two other gifted rookies – Skylar Diggins and Elena Delle Donne – has been offered in carefully rendered comparison to Magic Johnson and Larry Bird lifting the NBA profile in 1980.

That’s not excessive pressure, is it?

“I just learn to go with it,” Griner said of handling expectations. “I really haven’t had a problem with that.”

Sports Illustrated offers up this AP article: After finals loss, Minnesota Lynx hope for title finish in 2013

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve would find herself walking through the aisles at her grocery store this offseason when she would be recognized by a fan.

The ensuing conversation would occasionally catch her off guard. Often times instead of congratulations being extended for leading her team to a second straight WNBA finals, the most common question she got was, “What happened?”

After steamrolling through the regular season at 27-7 in pursuit of their second straight championship, the Lynx lost to Indiana in the finals. For a franchise that for years was a league doormat, the newfound expectations have been eye-opening.

From Scott Gleason at USA Today: WNBA hopes Brittney Griner, new logo are slam dunks

Change is coming to the WNBA.

That message is being emphatically emphasized in the upcoming season with a new logo featuring a player rising to the rim for a dunk.

Fittingly this summer, the 12-team league welcomes a rim-rising star who’s already generated an unmatched buzz before stepping out on the court for an official game.

Lois Elfman writes this for the Amsterdam Times: WNBA veterans joining coaching ranks with the Liberty women basketball team

This will be a New York Liberty season like no other, with All-WNBA First Team guard Cappie Pondexter playing alongside fellow WNBA champions Cheryl Ford and Katie Smith, as well as talented rookies Kelsey Bone and Toni Young.

The coaching staff is also unlike any the Liberty has had before. All four assistant coaches played for the Liberty at some point in their WNBA playing careers—Barbara Farris, Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Teresa Weatherspoon and Tamika Whitmore.

Now that the rosters are set, check out who’s in and who’s out.

Jayda writes: TV Alert: With rosters finalized, here’s where to watch the Storm and other WNBA teams

John Altavilla writes: Sun Goal This Season: Tighten Things

Keep up with the Fever with Kevin Messenger’s blog.

Over at Mel’s blog, it’s Mike Siroky’s SEC Report: Making The WNBA Season Opener Rosters

L’Alien is Back (and redesigned)! Priming for Opening Night in the WNBA: New Rules, a New Line, and Prediction Time

So What’s New?

Well if you’ve ended up here, you’re probably well aware of the ultra-hyped new rookie class that’s entering the league. They’re obviously new. We’ve also had coaching changes in New York, Connecticut and Washington since the end of last season. But you can read all about that and the various roster changes in the individual previews. What has the WNBA altered for 2013 on a more basic level?

Finally, a little audio: WomenSportsCentral – Link Brenda and Mechelle’s WNBA preview starts at 13:05 minute.

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Cambage says she’s headed to WNBA

The relationship between Cambage and the Shock reminds me a little of that game that my nephews always begged me to give them money to play. You know, the one with all the cool-looking prizes in the big glass box, and all you have to do is pick one up with this claw-thing and then drop it off into the open space. Yeah, that’s all you have to do.

“You’re not wasting 50 cents on that,” I’d say. They would plead, “But I could get the iPod! I just know I could get it this time!”

I’d say, “Yeah, right. You KNOW the clamp will open before you drop in the prize. It ALWAYS does. You KNOW like one in a million people — if that — actually gets the iPod.”

The inevitable comeback: “Nuh-uh! My friend at school said his cousin got it once!”

Cambage, the 6-foot-8 Australian who was the WNBA’s No. 2 draft pick in 2011, has been the prize that the Shock haven’t ever quite had a grip on.

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Why, look who’s writing about the New York Liberty! Can Laimbeer lift the Liberty?

After the 2012 season, when the New York Liberty finished with a 15-18 record and exited the playoffs in the first round, many fans were disenchanted with management, uninspired by the product on the court and dreading the idea of spending one more summer “in exile” in Newark, New Jersey, awaiting the completion of final renovations on Madison Square Garden.

Then, in October, a ripple of excitement spread through the fan base: It was announced Bill Laimbeer would return to the WNBA as the Liberty’s new head coach and general manager. Laimbeer brought with him an oversized personality, a keen basketball brain and, most importantly, a history of almost instant success. In 2002, he took over an awful Detroit Shock team midseason and transformed it into a championship winner the next year. He followed that up with two more league titles in 2006 and 2008. What might he do with a team that went 15-19 in 2012?

Other folks have been really busy at Full Court. Sharon Crowson says It’s time for Chicago to meet expectations

Stereotypes can be useful because they are frequently accurate. They can provide a useful picture of a situation — but it’s vital to remember that “frequently” is very different than “invariably”.

That distinction is important to remember as the Chicago Sky enter their eighth season. They have yet to make the playoffs and the stereotype of non-playoff teams is that they lack talent — but nothing could be further from the truth.

(Speaking of Chicago, Delle Donne making Chicago homeElena Delle Donne Makes Impressive Debut for WNBA’s Chicago Sky and Sky’s Delle Donne wastes no time)

Kelly Kline says the Upgraded Shock are thinking playoffs

Despite being stood up by Liz Cambage for the second year in a row (they made up), the Tulsa Shock are optimistic about 2013. Thanks to adding significant talent through the draft and offseason trades, the Tulsa season is shaping up to be the team’s best since it arrived in Oklahoma.

“We feel like we have more firepower, bigger guards, better shooting and we have a chance to be a better defensive team,” says coach Gary Kloppenburg. “We basically have a new team.”

Will Indy pick up waived Adair now that Davenport is hurt?

Congrats: Connecticut Sun guard Kara Lawson wins WNBA Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award

Congrats! (Vrooom, vrooom!) WNBA Champion Indiana Fever named Grand Marshal for 2013 IPL 500 Festival Parade

The APs Kareem Copeland writes: Fever prep for WNBA title defense

The defending champion Indiana Fever feel like they are under the radar all over again heading into the WNBA season.

The team brings back 10 players from the 2012 roster and will be trying to become the first repeat champion since the Los Angeles Sparks in 2001-02.

They have exactly been the talk of the league so far.

Almost congrats: Brittney Griner, WNBA Phoenix Mercury Player, Nominated For 2013 BET Award and Out WNBA Star Brittney Griner Tells Youth at GLAAD Awards ‘Don’t Hide It. Be Who You Are.’

Speaking of BG, some Baylor message board fans may be turning their back on her, but W fans ain’t: Brittney Griner’s arrival sees 19 percent increase in sales of WNBA merchandise

(BTW, did you catch this Baylor news: WBB coach Damion McKinney resigns and assistant Rehka Patterson also resigns).

Odeen says Diana Taurasi is glad to share Phoenix Mercury stage with Brittney Griner

The spotlight was hers and hers alone.

Was.

It shined on Mercury star Diana Taurasi for years, nearly a decade just in the WNBA. But now comes Brittney Griner, the Mercury’s new No. 1 overall pick — a 6-foot-8 phenom whose personality is just as big as her new teammate’s.

Asked to compare her spotlight to Griner’s, Taurasi didn’t miss a beat.

“It’s a lot taller.”

Ever the optimist: Gemelos still aims for WNBA career with Minnesota Lynx, coming back from 5th repair of ACL

Mechelle says Maya Moore as motivated as ever

The WNBA season hasn’t even begun, but it has already been a championship kind of year for Minnesota’s Maya Moore.

Playing in China for the first time, she led her team to a title there. Then in April, she watched her alma mater, Connecticut, win its eighth NCAA women’s basketball crown.

“Obviously the alums feel a part of it, but that was their journey, their struggle, their learning, their growing, their competing,” Moore said of the 2012-13 Huskies. “It wasn’t an easy season; there were ups and downs. But to see it come together in those two games of the Final Four, it just made me so proud.”

It’s a reminder, of course, that how you finish means everything in sports. And last season, that’s what Moore’s Lynx didn’t do well. After having the best regular-season record for the second season in a row, Minnesota wasn’t able to successfully defend its WNBA title.

From the Yakima Herald: Storm’s Clark not taking anything for granted

Many already have Alysha Clark as a lock to make the final Storm roster for 2013.

Clark, a 5-foot-10 forward, crinkles her face at the idea.

Sure, she was part of the 2012 roster. She even played a key role when injuries and the WNBA’s break for the Olympics pulled teammates out of the lineup.

However, it didn’t land her a guaranteed contract.

An act of faith: Former WNBA player Tully Bevilaqua commits to her partner

Former Indiana Fever player Tully Bevilaqua and her life partner, Lindsay Bevilaqua, are raising two children in Indianapolis and own a gym together in the city.

So when the two, who have been together for 4 1/2 years, decided to get married, they opted for a ceremony in Indianapolis rather than going to a state that recognizes gay marriage.

But in Minneapolis: Augustus looking forward to Minnesota wedding

It looks like Seimone Augustus could get her Minnesota wedding after all.

The Minnesota Lynx star has been planning to marry fiancee LaTaya Varner, but she wasn’t sure she would be able to do it in her adopted home state because gay marriage was not legal. That could change by as early as next week.

The Minnesota House passed a measure to legalize gay marriage on Thursday and there is optimism among supporters that it will pass the Senate and be signed into a law by Tuesday.

”It’s just exciting thing to see so many people support it,” Augustus told reporters on Friday, her first day of training camp with the Lynx after returning from playing in Russia during the offseason.

From Michelle Smith: Mercury ready to rebound

“Last year was the hardest, most difficult thing I’ve ever been through as a player,” said point guard Samantha Prahalis, a rookie for the Mercury last season. “Losing that much, it was tough. People would say to me, ‘Yeah, but you get to play a lot,’ and I would say, ‘No, I want to win.’

 “I was excited to get drafted to come here and play with Diana and Penny and play for titles.”

Just a couple of months later, the clouds parted. Oh, did they ever.

M&M ponder Which team will win the East?

Did you catch this? WNBA Player Puts on Astonishing Shooting Show

Hello there, lady bolter: Alabama introduces new women’s basketball coach Kristy Curry. Here’s her goal: Alabama AD Bill Battle wants women’s basketball to outgrow Foster Auditorium

WATN? Windward’s Vanessa Nygaard will help coach U16 national team. She’s joined by LaDreda Akins (Haines City H.S., Haines City, Fla./Florida’s Finest AAU), Terri Bamford (LaJolla Country Day, La Jolla, Calif./Waves AAU),and Kimberly Davis-Powell (Essence Girls Basketball AAU, Tallahassee, Fla.)

Speaking of USA Basketball: 2013 USA Basketball Women’s World University Games Team Trials Set To Begin With 33 Collegians — Ten USA Basketball Gold Medalists Return To Vie For Roster Spots

WATN? Semeka Randall named new Alabama A&M women’s basketball coach

WATN? Eastern Illinois hires former WNBA player Debbie Black as new head coach

Another new hire: Billi Godsey takes Iona’s reins

We still don’t know why the position became vacant, but it’s no longer open: San Diego State Hires Stacie Terry

It can be tough to play friends: ND v. Penn State – McGraw challenged by draw

Of all the teams in the Big Ten, there was one team that Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw didn’t want to play in the Atlantic Coast Conference-Big Ten Conference Challenge — Penn State.

That’s because Coquese Washington, who played for McGraw at Notre Dame and was an assistant coach for the Irish for eight seasons, is the head coach at Penn State.

“Of course, we would never schedule a game against Penn State, because I try not to play my friends,” McGraw said.

Yes, Women’s College Basketball is adopting a rule long overdue…

Speaking of rules that were overdue….here was someone who said “No” to banning girls basketball: E. Wayne Cooley, pioneer of Iowa girls sports, dead at age 90

E. Wayne Cooley, a girls’ sports pioneer who left long-lasting marks on the the state of Iowa, died Saturday of natural causes at age 90.

He ran the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union, the nation’s only statewide athletic association dedicated to girls, from 1954 until his retirement in 2002, overseeing generations of athletes. Under his guidance, the Union expanded from three sports — basketball, golf and tennis — to nine programs.

Flashback to 2007: Hall of fame: Cooley led the cheers

Troy Dannen, current executive director of the IGHSAU, said Cooley has the greatest business mind he’s ever known.

“He’s the epitome of the promoter,” Dannen said. “He always came up with different ways to get people into the building. It was always about more than basketball at the basketball tournament.”

Sports Illustrated came to Iowa after Title IX passed in 1972 to do a story about the effect on the state. The article concluded the change barely caused a ripple, Cooley said.

“We were 15 to 17 years ahead of Title IX,” Cooley said of what he considers his top accomplishment. “I was very proud of that. The girls had everything.”

Generations of Iowans, Branstad remember Girls Union chief Cooley

Cooley was recalled as a musician who once sat in with Harry James’ big band orchestra as it toured Iowa, an avid fan of Winston Churchill and an astute investor eager to put a hot stock tip to work.

“When Dr. Cooley came into a room, things happened,” said Craig Ihnen, executive director of the Iowa High School Speech Association, in a eulogy.

The service was attended by former all-state six-on-six basketball players like Lisa Brinkmeyer and Jan Jensen, Drake coaches Jennie Baranczyk (basketball) and Natasha Kaiser (track) and Northern Iowa director of athletics Troy Dannen. Dozens of longtime coaches and officials paid their respects.

Branstad hails Cooley as a visionary

Gov. Terry Branstad called E. Wayne Cooley a visionary who helped elevate Iowa girls’ basketball to a national phenomenon – some thing that touched Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds directly as a forward for Interstate 35 High School during the heyday of six-on-six era.

During his weekly news conference Monday, Branstad paid tribute to Cooley as a pioneer of Iowa girls’ sports. Cooley, who died last Saturday at the age of 90, ran the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union — the nation’s only statewide athletic association dedicated to girls — from 1954 until his retirement in 2002.

“E. Wayne Cooley was a visionary leader for girls’ athletics,” said Branstad. “He made it phenomenally successful.

“He was a great marketer and promoter,” the governor added. “He’s going to be greatly missed. He has a really wonderful legacy that he leaves in terms of girls’ athletics.”

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“I am reviewing… the situation.”

Which means Liz says, “I’m baaaaaack!”

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So, to distract us, Mechelle offers this: Douglas fights way back to Fever

You might wonder whether Katie Douglas perhaps had just a brief moment of regret after Indiana won the WNBA championship last season. After all her years of durability through high school, college and pro ball, how could she have suffered a debilitating ankle injury just before the WNBA Finals that the Fever won? What are the odds of that rotten luck and bad timing?

Then again … if you know much about Douglas, it won’t surprise you that, actually, not a single second of angst crossed her mind in that regard. 

“At no point was I sad at all; I was really at peace that I was finally part of a WNBA championship team,” Douglas said Wednesday, looking ahead to the start of the Fever’s 2013 season May 24. “I helped get them there, and my teammates finished it off. They were great.

Get 24 Seconds with Brittney Griner (BTW she helped tv #s on Draft Day)

Need some preseason previews? Here’s what Full Court has:

D.C: With Thibault, the Mystics have nowhere to go but up

‘sota: The Lynx lose Mama Taj but still will be tough to beat

Texas:Despite setbacks, San Antonio concedes nothing

From News on 6: Shock Poised To Bring Excitement To Tulsa Thanks To Offseason Additions

Summertime in Tulsa normally can’t be considered one of the more exciting times of the year, particularly on the sports front.

The heat is oppressive, the mosquitoes are biting and everyone is anxiously awaiting the arrival of fall and football season. However, this summer—and more in the future—an unlikely source could give Tulsans a reason to be excited, a source that has previously been a point of ridicule and even embarrassment.

Yes, the Tulsa Shock could actually be something worth seeing this summer in Tulsa, thanks to progressive improvement over the past two years and the addition of new point guard Skylar Diggins.

In the land of the Vols, a continuation (Pat Summitt still head coach emeritus) and an explanation (Vols cite job performance for firing)

This is cool: Mark Emmert calls for inclusiveness

NCAA president Mark Emmert opened Tuesday’s second Inclusion Forum by urging campus leaders to make school policies more welcoming for women, minorities, disabled athletes and those with different sexual orientations.

While he didn’t cite Collins specifically during his speech or in the subsequent question-and-answer session, Emmert expressed his support for the first openly gay active player in a major American pro sports league. He acknowledged that Collins’ disclosure that he’s gay could have a ripple effect on how college athletic departments treat other players and coaches.

What did he have to say after Griner’s “revelation”? And what is he going to do about universities who have institutionalized homophobia?

Mechelle reflects on the changing roles/responsibilities of journalists: Who should ask? Who should tell?

This wasn’t discussed when I was in journalism school in the 1980s, or even brought up much by editors throughout my career. Nonetheless, there seemed to be an unspoken code: Sports writers not only shouldn’t “out” athletes or coaches but should essentially avoid questions about their personal lives if we thought they might be gay.

If they chose to bring up the topic, that was OK. Otherwise, we usually didn’t ask. And they rarely told.

I’m certainly not suggesting all media have adhered to this “code.” But I have. And many of the reporters I’ve known seem to, as well. Or at the very least, are typically hesitant to broach the topic of whether someone is gay, even in circumstances when writing about their relationship could be deemed journalistically relevant.

After Baylor’s Brittney Griner talked openly about being gay recently, I thought a lot about the so-called “don’t ask, don’t tell” mindset in sports writing. And I’ve pondered it more since NBA free agent Jason Collins’ announcement this week.

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Janel is back in Minnesota, Nolan is back  with Bill (in New York). But are they BACK? And what about Candice and Nicole?

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Unchartered Territory

The feelings most women’s basketball fans experienced at the news of Chamique Holdsclaw’s alleged attack on her former girlfriend Tuesday likely were the same as mine. Sadness, relief, worry.

Sadness because we’ve been aware for many years of the struggle the former Tennessee and WNBA star has waged with depression and her quest to destigmatize it, especially in the athletic world.

Relief because neither the victim of the alleged attack, Tulsa Shock forward Jennifer Lacy, nor Holdsclaw was physically harmed.

And worry because of what faces both women moving forward. Lacy is not physically injured, but her emotional scars may be considerable. And Holdsclaw, who released a book last year detailing her history of depression and has been working as a mental health advocate, is in serious legal trouble.

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“Fred.”

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

“Fred! Wake up!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“So, any predictions, Fred?”

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

“Until the final game, then.”

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and now she is gone for the season. Dream fans must be wanting to wake from this nightmare, opponents must be wiping their brow…and I wonder if coaches are asking, “Who’s running this Laurel and Hardy show, Laurel?”

Mel has some words on coach Meadors ‘ firing.

Mechelle does, too

In other news, the Shock might be looking at some seriously twin towers next year since it appear Cambage will not return as promised. Of course, considering how the no-return happened, it is just as likely we’ll never see Liz back in the States, no matter what the Shock say.

Mechelle’s got some words about this mess, too.

I’m feeling like some of the vets need to have a sit down with the youngsters and talk about professionalism.

And that I should never go to Canada during the WNBA season….

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From Mechelle: Pieces fit perfectly for Silver Stars – San Antonio (15-5) picks up right where it left off before Olympic break

Who would have criticized Hammon if she’d taken a little time returning and recovering from the Summer Olympics? A deep Silver Stars team could handle Tulsa and Phoenix without her, couldn’t it?

“I need to come in and be dependable,” Hammon said. “It didn’t even cross my mind to miss a game.”

That statement and her subsequent 15-point, eight-assist performance that night in an 89-79 victory over the Shock could be an appropriately representative freeze-frame of Hammon’s entire career. When your veteran still feels she has to prove her dependability in her 14th season in the league, it’s easy for San Antonio’s youngsters to glean what it means to be a true professional.

No surprise: WNBA Hollinger Power Rankings: Silver Stars #1, Liberty Catching Up To The Sky Fast

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