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Don’t go to OT.

Hill scores career-high 24, Mystics beat Sun 84-76 in OT

The Lib got there two different ways – let the Sparks back in and came back against the Dream. End result? Two losses. Oops.

Inside The W with Michelle Smith

This is why Tina Charles came to New York. She wanted to come to her hometown team and be a part of building the Liberty franchise into one of the league’s elite teams.

The Liberty are 2-2 with both losses coming in overtime, but are still looking poised to build on the success of 2015, when they posted the best record in franchise history and the best regular-season record in the WNBA.

Charles said the Sparks loss, a game in which the Liberty led by eight with 1:16 to go in regulation, leaves “a bad taste.”

Yah, sure, you’re telling me that you thought the Storm would give the Lynx their biggest challenge of the season (so far). (Or that the Merc would be 0-fer) If you don’t have the June 21st Minnesota/LA match up circled, I have no idea what will get you revved in the world of basketball.

Speaking of Seattle:

Go behind-the-scenes of Breanna Stewart’s WNBA debut in a new documentary series

Seattle Times: Storm’s Breanna Stewart is learning from tough early losses in WNBA

Speaking of the Sparks, from Fastbreak’s WNBA Weekly Rundown: Sparks shining early (And stompin’ the Sky)

Nneka Ogwumike is ‘glue’ for Los Angeles Sparks

A year ago right about this same time, we checked in with Ogwumike and she was very optimistic about the Sparks’ potential, despite forward Candace Parker sitting out the first part of the season. But then Ogwumike suffered a sprained ankle in an exhibition game in late May. (The season started in June then, with no major international competition to have to fit in like this year with the Olympics.)

And very little went right for L.A. for nearly two months. 

San Antonio: Moriah Jefferson quickly becoming a shining ‘Star’

Hello, Washington: Jamie Weisner added to the roster.

Some people hate the jerseys, some people love’em. Me, I’m glad the Wings are off to such a great start – and that a sold out crowd got to see a home win. Great job getting the word out in the Dallas-Arlington-Fort Worth area.

Tara Sullivan: WNBA passing the test of time

The first postgame locker room in WNBA history looked like something out of a M*A*S*H episode, exhausted bodies dropping wherever they could. Such was the price of an emotional (participating in the historic debut of a brand new basketball league) and physical (actually playing in the 60-minute game) toll. Players from the New York Liberty and Los Angeles Sparks were worn out.

“Right now, I’m emotionally spent,” Liberty center Rebecca Lobo told me that California day in June 1997. “We had so much emotion running through us for this game. We were wound tight and wanted to explode.”

Stefanie Dolson says decision to come out was ‘mainly to be a role model for the younger girls’

Today, the former UConn star and WNBA All-Star player will come out publicly in print that she is a lesbian athlete. Although it has been out on the web for almost two weeks on ESPN.com, the ESPN The Magazine article about Dolson hits newsstands today. 

“I don’t really see it as an announcement,” Dolson said prior to the Mystics’ game with the Connecticut Sun on Saturday. “It was mainly just to get out that the WNBA, as a league, is supportive of who we are as women. That’s why our fans are so great. They support us, too. I’m just glad that I’m happy.”

Former WNBA legend Ruthie Bolton shares three takeaways from her film ‘Mighty Ruthie’

Former WNBA legend Ruthie Bolton’s film, “Mighty Ruthie,” premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on SEC Network. It highlights the Olympic medalist’s life as a college basketball player at Auburn in the 1980s, as she worked hard to prove her talent and eventually became a star athlete.

A few years later, Bolton led the United States women’s basketball team to the gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Los Angeles. Throughout her successful career, Bolton kept a secret from her family and teammates: Her then-husband was physically abusing her.

Two days after “Mighty Ruthie” was screened at her alma mater by her former teammates and their coaches, espnW interviewed Bolton. Her older sister, Mae Ola, also a star athlete at Auburn, was present for the conversation. Bolton spoke candidly about the film, but she was adamant about not wanting viewers to pity her.

NCAA

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, good night…well, not until the end of the WNBA season. No real surprise, as Vandy made it official and named Stefanie White their new head coach. They sure got lucky, timing-wise… I think (ponders how early the process might have started). White will be joined by Carolyn Peck as associate head coach.

The SEC is setting up quite the Indiana/Purdue reunion, an Lin Dunn couldn’t stay off the sidelines. She joins Matthew Mitchell on the sidelines as a. Here’s hoping she can help right whatever’s wrong with that ship (on and off the court).

Hello: Williams-Jeter Added to Penn State Women’s Basketball Staff

Speaking of Connecticut grads: Hartley, Dolson know what awaits next year’s UConn team. It will help that they got another transfer addition (who won’t have to change her clothing color scheme much) Kentucky’s Batouly Camara Joins UConn; Will Sit Out A Season

Bye: Stasha Carey transfers to Rutgers women’s basketball, leaves Pitt

Congrats:

Michele Schmidt, assistant sports information director at South Dakota State University, won the 2016 Fred Stabley Sr. Writing Contest’s coach/administrator/historical category for the College Sports Information Directors of America’s District 7.

Schmidt’s article was on the 1986-87 women’s basketball team making the program’s first trip to Alaska. The Jackrabbits spent Thanksgiving visiting the North Pole, the Alaskan pipeline and a glacier. To read the story, visit http://www.gojacks.com/news/2015/11/26/210534488.aspx?path=wbball.

USA Basketball

You may recall Lubbock Christian as the team who got stomped by UConn in the preseason, made a video about it, and then went on to go undefeated and claim the DII championship. That may explain why LCU’s coach Steve Gomez got an offer to coach for USA Basketball. He’ll get to hang with the fabulous Nancy Fahey (Washington University), the only coach to win five Division III national championships, Washington University who he may have met at the Final Four festivities,  and Pam Crawford from League City Clear Springs High School.

International: Lauren Jackson to the rescue for Melbourne Boomers

AAU: Basketball Rebels Bounce Back After Founder’s Death

The MRC Rebels Girls Basketball Club was founded in 1988 by Oscar Jimenez, who saw a lack of basketball opportunities for San Francisco girls and sought the City’s help to fill the gap. The program received City funding early on, though Jimenez paid for some expenses out of his own pocket. When Jimenez died suddenly in 2010 at the age of 57, many of his youthful club members lost a mentor and father-figure. Slowly, with the help of new talent, the club has successfully rebounded. 

“It’s unique because of its legacy and affordability,” said assistant coach, Mark Reppert. “We have girls coming up from South City largely due to the legacy created by Oscar. The team is made up of girls from an array of backgrounds and cultures, which I think is rare for San Francisco these days. This diversity represents what the Mission is at its heart.”

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“Weeeee are the Champions.” (What, too soon?) Lynx’s ‘fast start’ overwhelm Sky in Delle Donne’s returnFowles scores 24 against former team; Lynx beat Sky 97-80In First Game Against Former Team, Sylvia Fowles Joins Elite Company

Elena Delle Donne may be the face of the Sky. But when it comes to the franchise’s voice, that is all Cappie Pondexter.Chicago Sun-Times: Pondexter lends voice, veteran leadership to Sky

 The 10-year veteran has no trouble being the Sky’s resident vocal leader, but after a disappointing loss in last season’s WNBA Eastern Conference semifinals, Pondexter is done mincing words.

Make no mistake. This is Tamika Catchings’ team.

It is also Marissa Coleman’s team, and Shenise Johnson’s team, and Erlana Larkins’ team … and who knew it could be Erica Wheeler’s team while she fills in for point guard Briann January?

“It could be anybody’s night on any given night,” Coleman said.

That was never more true of the Indiana Fever than on Wednesday night.

Three of the first four possessions for the Washington Mystics in their game against the Dallas Wings on Wednesday night resulted in turnovers. The other produced a missed layup. Coach Mike Thibault was, to say the least, displeased.

The frustration didn’t end with just his players though. The officiating also provoked Thibault’s ire to the point he walked past halfcourt at Verizon Center midway through the first quarter and shouted to referee Sue Blauch: “Give me a technical now.”

 Phew! Sun get first win of season, 72-68 at Stars and Bone spurs Sun past San Antonio.
It’s gonna be tough in San Antonio this year….

While the world rightfully continues to go bonkers over “Hamilton,” I’ve recently found myself pleasantly lost in the past with another Broadway smash hit. The nearly 40-year-old — can it be? — “Annie.”

This was prompted by my nephew playing Oliver Warbucks in his high school’s production. It reminded me of how great a musical this is, even when performed by theater novices (including, in this case, a Harlequin Great Dane named Waffle in the role of Sandy.)

Now, just hang with me; we’re getting to the WNBA, with its 20th season just launched.

 

If Candace Parker was looking to make a point, she made it all right. Thirty-four times, in fact.

The question isn’t whether Parker was trying to make a statement Sunday with her 34-point effort in Los Angeles’ 96-66 win over Seattle at Staples Center. The question is, which statement was it?

Was it a message to USA Basketball that despite not being selected to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team that she is still on a short list of best players in the world?

Was it a reminder to the WNBA that the two-time MVP is as dangerous as ever and prepared to dish it out over an entire season after taking half of last season off?

WNBA STAR TINA CHARLES ON HOW STRONG, SUPPORTIVE WOMEN HELPED HER SUCCEED

Why are you excited to participate in She’s On Point?

For me, a lot of it was about giving back to Karen Pedrosa [who was the park manager at the time]. She was always keeping Roberto Clemente open late so we were able to scrimmage against the guys. She would travel with us to the AAU [Amateur Athletic Union] games. She’s just an awesome individual. She’s the Deputy Chief of Bronx Recreation now, and it’s a testament to the impact she’s had on the community.

UConn women’s basketball legend Bird wants to end career on her terms

When she re-signed with Seattle in the offseason, Bird made certain she had a multi-year deal. She didn’t want her contract status to determine when the final year of her career arrives.

“Truthfully, the way I view it is a one-year plan. Everybody has their own (way). Tamika Catchings is an example of somebody who announced her retirement early. Then Ray Allen is somebody I communicate with and he is somebody that never announced it. Just stopped. But that was what was right for him,” Bird said.

“I think every player when it comes to their retirement only knows how they are going to feel and how they want to do it. And right now what is working for me in my own little mind is a one-year plan.

LaChina and Carolyn Podcast: We’re Back…For The WNBA

From Charles Hallman: A ‘simple’ job: Marketing the WNBA 

Last Saturday night, after she handed the Minnesota Lynx players and coaches their 2015 championship rings, Borders worked the “room” where nearly 10,000 people were in attendance for the team’s season opener. Madame President earlier told the MSR, “I am the number-one salesperson for the WNBA. That is absolutely true.”

She heads a league that is celebrating 20 years, but to too many eyes — media, Joe Rockhead males and others — it has been 19 years too long. “We are 20 years old, which is remarkable by any standard,” continued Borders. “But we are just getting started. We’re young and nimble.”

The president and this reporter briefly touched upon several topics:

USA Today’s Nina Mandell: Retired WNBA star Katie Smith wants to leave lasting legacy on women’s game as a coach

Long before Katie Smith, a 17-year veteran of the WNBA, knew she was going to become a coach there was no shortage of coaches who told her she would join their ranks one day.

“I’ll say it right in front of her,” Mystics coach Mike Thibault said, walking by Smith as his team prepared to play the New York Liberty, where Smith was promoted to associate head coach this season. “I told her she was going to be a coach and she said no. Years ago when I coached USA Basketball, I said, ‘You know you’re going to end up being a coach.’”

Smith replied that she was going to go to dental school or do something else, but Thibault wouldn’t listen. 

NCAA

NCAA.com Rules group pleased with state of the game

[Use of technology and other] areas the Women’s Basketball Rules Committee will continue to study and discuss include:

  • Widening of the lane from 12 feet to 16 feet.
  • Moving the restricted-area arc to 4 feet from 3 feet.
  • Moving the 3-point line from 20 feet, 9 inches to the international distance of 22-1.
  • Deterring players from faking fouls. A warning would be issued on the first offense, followed by a technical foul on subsequent offenses.
  • In free throw situations, teams would be allowed to substitute only before or after the foul shots are taken. There would be no substitutions allowed in between the two or three free throws.

You stay put: Scott Rueck signed a two-year contract extension

WATN? Langston University hires Elaine Powell to replace Cheryl Miller as head coach

LADY VOLS ADD JUCO STAR – London Native Cheridene Green Becomes Lady Vols’ First International Signee . This calls for a flashback: Junior Colleges: Where Opportunities Knock – November 2007

Last season Shannon Bobbitt (Trinity Valley Community College) and Alberta Auguste (Central Florida Community College) became the University of Tennessee’s first junior college signees since – well most couldn’t remember when last it happened. (1977, by the way.) How’d it work out? Just ask Middle Tennessee State coach Rick Insell.

“First time ever Pat took two [Junior College] kids and what happens? She wins a National Championship. Did those kids play a major part in them winning that? Absolutely. Would she have won it without them? Who knows?”

“But she won it with them.”

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Bob Corwin offers his 1st impressions from opening weekend

Having followed the league since inception, I decided to watch the six WNBA openers and write down some first impressions (many to be proven wrong) from these games.

A WNBA season is a combination of a soap opera and a marathon.  Information can be hard to come by as players listed as “day to day” can, in reality, be out a month.  What impression you get today, particularly very early in a season, may be viewed as very wrong by the next week.

For young players, announcers tend to cling to how the player was as a collegian, especially if she had “rep” at that level.  Above all else, be cautious not to draw too much from a game or two.  Again think marathon, not sprint!

How about this? Draymond Green says he learns more from watching the WNBA than the NBA

In between the time he works on his game, Green also finds time to relax. Of course, Green chooses to chill out by watching basketball, mostly the WNBA.

“In the NBA there’s always a guy who is only around because he can jump,” Greentold Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins in a wide-ranging profile. “He doesn’t have a clue about the fundamentals. I learn more from the WNBA. They know how to dribble, how to pivot, how to use the shot fake.”

Lindsay Gibbs @ Excelle: Washington Mystics point guard Natasha Cloud is finding her voice

In the lead-up to the launch of the WNBA’s 20th season, Washington Mystics’ coach Mike Thibault repeated a few loud and clear messages to his young team: take ownership of the game, get rebounds, play until the whistle, and, above all else, communicate on the court.

The latter message was particularly directed at point guard Natasha Cloud, the Mystics’ second-round pick of the 2015 draft.

From the .com (and points for coming up with a snazzy title, “Web Editorial Associate”): Practice Report | The Importance of the Second Unit

One of the big reasons why the Lynx were able to pull away and maintain a nice lead after that first quarter was the play of their second unit.

“Coach talked about really trying to elevate the second-team’s play in order so there’s not a drop off when anybody comes out from the first unit,” Janel McCarville said. “We had a great first game against Phoenix, it wasn’t much of a drop off at all. Today in practice it was a little bit of a drop off with all of us out there together (the second unit). I don’t think we have the cohesiveness that the first-team has. Hopefully within the next couple of weeks we’ll come together as a second-squad and pick it up in practice and it’ll carry over into games.”

Paging Ms. Whalen: Minnesota’s Hometown Heroes

Seattle Times: Stewart set for big WNBA step

Swish Appeal’s Power Rankings

Barbara Barker: How the WNBA ‘changed everything’ for girls in first 20 years

“Symbolically, you have all these women who are role modes for young girls to be able to look up to and say, ‘Those people look like me. They are stars. They have money and a career. I want that too,’” said Mary Joe Kane, the director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota. “If you aren’t playing basketball, you can take pride that someone who looks like you can achieve at the highest levels.

“Achievement and performance in America, it’s hard to top that right. For your girls to see that, it sends a very powerful message.”

The league opened its 20th season this weekend with more media coverage than I personally can remember seeing before. It’s an anniversary year, sure, but also I think most people didn’t expect the NBA’s sister league to come this far or last this long. Take a look at the women’s soccer professional league, which has had three different iterations, the most recent of which is only four years old.

Not only that, but the WNBA is now also filled with a number of household names – not just one or two token players used in Under Armour campaigns and Lean In ads. This is a competitive league with players comparable to their male counterparts in both ability and in some cases name recognition.

The concept of ability has come into contention while I’ve written this article, but I think it comes down to how you define it. Personally, I don’t think ability means how often or ferociously you can dunk. When I think of how able a person is to play basketball, I think of the sport as a whole.

Wait, they heard and acted? WNBA to offer advanced box scores after each game.

Cool. Now… about that hideous website, might I make a suggestion? Set up a “So you think you can code” competition working with suggestions from fans. Anything folks came up with would be better than the hot mess we’re slogging through today.

From Mel: Guru’s Addendum and Context to ESPN Magazine’s Story on Founding and Growing the WNBA

In reading Mechelle Voepel’s very fine piece with voices on the creation and development on the WNBA the Guru’s memory was jogged to some of the discussions people had with him prior to rolling out the league.
Also clues exist from comments in the narrative to recent discussions so here is a combo of Guru comments, some recollections, and further interpretations.
We begin right from the top with this comment in the piece from Adam Silver, NBA Commissioner. To avoid confusion in the thread, Guru will be in front of items that are his remarks, etc.

NCAA

Bonjour: Mickie DeMoss Joins Lady Tiger Basketball Staff

Au Revoir: Kentucky’s Mitchell tweets letter to fans denying rumored ‘scandal’ as UK resignation letters, personnel file offer little insight into women’s basketball turmoil and  Chanin Scott gets her release and opens recruiting process

The Minnesota Athletics Department may be a mess, but the  Gophers women’s teams have no shortage of star power

By the time she took the mound for her 24th inning pitched in two days, Sara Groenewegen’s right arm was running on fumes. Nearly 400 pitches in the Big Ten softball tournament — 395 to be exact — tested her physical limits.

**

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 Her display of individual domination was not uncommon for Gophers women’s sports this school year. Those who didn’t pay close enough attention, myself included, missed one heck of a show.

Nine Gophers women athletes in seven sports rank among the best nationally in their respective sports.

Any Olympics is special and Rio 2016 could be incredibly so, on the simple basis that some of the biggest names in the women’s game are ready to step out at the event for the first time.

Ahead of what promises to be a spectacular showcase of women’s ball, I have had some real fun drawing up a list of 12 players from around the globe who are likely to tread their first ever Olympic boards.

Random thought about the Zika virus: has anyone thought about all the non-athletes working the Rio Olympics?

 

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Or, better, “Let’s play one more!”

The Liberty took care of the pesky Mystics with authority borne of lessons learned.

“”Did we play hard Friday? Yes. Did we play focused? Yes. We did not do the little things that win playoff games.

“[The players] knew it. They watched the film; they saw their defensive mistakes. Saw their not-boxing-out mistakes, saw their unforced turnovers and their missed free throws. They knew they had that game and gave it away.”

From Kelyn Soong at the WaPo:

The New York Liberty quickly silenced the Verizon Center crowd that showed up Sunday afternoon to watch the Washington Mystics attempt to advance to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2002. The buzz, palpable before tip-off, was gone by the time the Liberty took a seven-point lead barely two minutes in. Instead of letting the Mystics close out the series, New York showed why it owned the WNBA’s best regular season record with an 86-68 rout.

While Boyd may be missing from the court, that doesn’t mean she’s not still learning. From the Players’ Tribune, “Growing Up.

“Why don’t you talk?”

Swin Cash was at the next locker, staring at me. I was frozen.

It was my first day with the Liberty and my locker was between Swin and Tanisha Wright. It felt like I had stumbled into a class in a grade above me on the first day of school. Playing for the Liberty, it’s pretty hard not to be next to a veteran or two at all times. They didn’t wait long to start in on me.

Tanisha was staring at this quiet girl next to her. “Come here girl, give me a hug.” And so Tanisha gave me a hug. Tanisha’s a hugger.

When I went to say something, nothing came out. I was just smiling awkwardly and sitting there. It was all really overwhelming. This was my first week in the WNBA.

Parker made some noise, and the Sparks made Maya almost human, so they’re on their way to Minnesota for a deciding game three.

Digging deep is nothing new for the Sparks.

No one in the league dragged themselves out of a bigger hole to end up in this place, fighting and scrapping to stay in contention for a title.

Los Angeles has been dealing all season with obstacles, players in and out of the lineup with injuries, a superstar who didn’t show up until the All-Star break, a nightmarish start that had the Sparks wearing the league’s worst record for a long stretch.

So this little thing on Sunday, the matter of having to play at the Pyramid on the campus of Long Beach State, more than an hour away from their home floor, in a gym they hadn’t seen all season — and facing elimination against the West’s top seed to boot — was not the scenario that was going to take out the Sparks.

Next, they need to worry about Nnek’s neck: 

The Los Angeles Sparks have been dealing with adversity throughout the season.

Heading into their biggest game of the year, they’ve been dealt another major blow.

The Sparks are unsure of the status of three-time All-Star Nneka Ogwumike for Tuesday night’s decisive Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal series against the top-seeded Minnesota Lynx.

Tonight, the Stage Is Set For Winner-Take-All Game 3 Between Chicago And Indiana

Will Tamika Catchings’ laser focus lead to upset over Sky?

“I think tonight we just came out with a lot more focus,” Catchings said. “Not to say we weren’t focused in game one, but definitely down the stretch our focus it seemed like it magnified.”

The focus for Catchings seemed to be everything—with 22 points, nine rebounds and five steals, the six-foot-two forward was an unstoppable threat all night.

“We executed offensively and defensively,” Catchings said. “Everybody zoned in.  You could see it in their eyes.”

Sky, Fever to play decisive Game 3

Following a Game 1 victory Thursday at the UIC Pavilion, the Chicago Sky had the advantage and looked to close out the Indiana Fever on Saturday.

But despite a strong offensive effort from the Sky, the defense loomed large as the Fever rallied to win 89-82 and even the series at 1-1. The two teams return to action Monday at 8 p.m. EST for the decisive Game 3.

In other news:

I may have some nits to pick with some of the reasons, but there’s no denying that they have reasons. From Lady Swish: Why it’s hard for us to embrace the WNBA

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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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Today’s four games are all about staying healthy, building momentum WHILE staying healthy, and settling some traveling logistics….

Atlanta hosts the Mystics, 3pm
L.A. hosts Tulsa, 5pm
Chicago hosts Seattle, 6pm
Minnesota hosts New York, 7pm

Even though there aren’t “x’s” next to the teams’ names, it’s *almost* safe to say that the playoff standings are set (and Chicago will return to the UIC for their games) (and the Mystics really need to win and seal their place in the post-season).

For me, the most intriguing matchup of the day is the Lynx-Lib: Will Maya (and her nose) be on the court? How will the Lib react to losing Boyd, who’s been an invaluable, hard-nosed energizer off the bench? How will the Lynx react to the Montgomery for Whalen reality? Who wants home court... through the playoffs… more?

So… who’s your MVP, and might these last few games solidify your choice?

NCAA:

Nice to have some good news: Gophers’ Women’s Basketball: Rachel Banham On Track to Return At Start of Season

A little history: UK basketball notebook: In stop at UK, Yow recalls support from P.A. man Ingle, Joe B. Hall

When she learned that former Kentucky public address announcer Jim Ingle passed away last month, Debbie Yow called and left a voice mail message. She wanted one simple fact known: “He was nice to me.”

Those five words begged for a return call and an explanation. Here it is:

Ingle did the P.A. for UK’s women’s basketball team when Yow was the coach in the late 1970s. At that time, few women’s teams across the country had full-time coaches. Typically, the women’s basketball programs were part of campus recreation. Coaches were barely more than volunteers.

From San Antonio: Title IX changes the face of high school athletics, equality

Christina Camacho, now the girls head basketball coach and coordinator at Wagner High School in San Antonio, grew up before Title IX, playing basketball with her brothers in the neighborhood.

“My parents were very supportive of me playing basketball,” she said. “Maybe some parents kept their kids inside playing with dolls.”

Camacho, laughing, said she was more athletic than her three brothers, anyway. The scrimmages instilled a competitive attitude in her and she went on to play basketball for the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Though she was only in the fourth grade, Camacho was aware of the commotion surrounding the arrival of Title IX . “I remember it being a big issue about equality,” she said. But it took people a while to understand what the change would mean.

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by the players. From Layshia Clarendon

Arian Foster doesn’t believe in God.

I do.

We could easily fit into the believer/non-believer binary that religion has constructed over time; a Christian praying for the soul of the faithless and the godless rebuking salvation. There should be tension between us. I should be defensive about my faith when he criticizes Christianity. But I feel more of a kinship with him than most of my fellow believers.

We’re both outsiders in the Christian community — two people who don’t believe in religion as an institution but who invest in and love Jesus’ teachings; Arian, the Agnostic, and me, the Believer, both driven away by Christianity’s exclusivity. We’re the same yet different all at once — religious rebels who are forced aside as they look in on the Christian majority.

From Candice: Full Circle

Every athlete dreams of playing just one game at Madison Square Garden. It’s more than a cultural mecca; it’s a place that inspires the best players in the world to display a level of greatness beyond the imaginable. Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James — some of their most memorable game-time performances happened at the Garden. I watched those games. I imagined what it would be like to take that court, surrounded by fans, the clock ticking overhead — to have my own moment of greatness at a place that makes, and sometimes breaks, legends.

I got that chance in 2010. Life is interesting, though. Even when a dream comes true, it doesn’t play out the way you imagined.

Today’s Fast Break has their All-Time Starting 5: Chicago Sky
No surprise, guess who’s on their list? For WNBA star Elena Delle Donne, it’s all Sky, no limit

August may not be the time you usually think about basketball. But if you haven’t been paying attention this summer, you have been missing perhaps the greatest single season ever put together by a professional basketball player – better than LeBron James, and better than Michael Jordan.

That player’s name is Elena Delle Donne, and if you’ve never heard of her, now would be a good time to start paying attention.

It’s hard to compare players between the NBA and WNBA. That’s why statistics like player efficiency rating (PER) exist. The metric is a normalized stat, such that the league average – no matter what league, no matter what year – is always 15.00. A player’s performance across his or her game, from field goals, to assists, as well as negative results like missed shots and turnovers, are all taken into account. It is also judged by minutes played to account for a player’s contributions per minute.

Delle Donne leads the WNBA in minutes played. She also leads the league in PER. In fact, she leads every league — ever.

From Scoop Jackson: How Elena Delle Donne Is Handling The Pressure Of Her Monster Season

Every now and then, an athlete challenges and possibly makes history. Elena Delle Donne is in the middle of one of those seasons.

Receiving her fourth player of the week award a little more than four weeks before the season even ends, and leading the WNBA in scoring while being in the top five in field goal percentage are only part of it. Her 33.5 efficiency would set a WNBA record if it stands through the end of the season — a PER on pace to be two points higher than the NBA mark set by Wilt Chamberlain (31.8). Put another way, Delle Donne is having a more efficient season than the man whom basketball touts as the king of efficiency — LeBron James — has ever had.

From Bustle, re the above:

A recent interview with espnW presses Delle Donne to talk about how the pressure of the season might be affecting her, asking numerous questions about the “responsibility,” feeling the need to step up her game, “[feeling] the spotlight,” and the possibility of “hitting…a mental wall.” In fact the questions seem so fixated on this angle that I have to wonder if male NBA stars get these same questions stressed so heavily. (I can’t remember ever seeing it, but maybe that’s just me.) However, Delle Donne seems to be doing just fine with all the pressure, regardless.

From Mid Level Exceptional: Elena Delle Donne and the boundaries of usage and efficiency

From Ned Grffin at The Day: Sun’s Lacy is a true pro

The baseball field was a second home of sorts for Jennifer Lacy during her childhood. Her father, Lee, played 16 years in the major leagues, so she grew up around the likes of Dusty Baker and Tommy Lasorda.

“He’s been a big influence on me and my career,” Lacy said about her father. “He always said that sports are peaks and valleys. It really resonates with me. My career has kind of been up and down and in and out, just doing what’s asked of me. I think without that mindset that it would’ve been a lot harder to assume the roles that I have assumed.”

From the Washington Blade: Mystics’ Dolson embraces straight ally role

The Washington Blade caught up with Stefanie Dolson who is playing in her second season with the Washington Mystics in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). The 6’5” Dolson played center at UConn and the team won back-to-back national championships in 2013 and 2014. She was the sixth overall pick in the 2014 WNBA draft and began playing for the Mystics shortly after graduation. During her college years, Dolson stepped forward as a straight sports ally, lending public support to help break down stereotypes, stop discrimination in recruiting and create positive role models for all people, not just the LGBT community.

Sue has Brittany Boyd having a good time on her perfect-fit team and Pondexter-Prince trade paying dividends for all

Sometimes player trades work out so well that it’s hard to tell who has benefited most – the team or the athlete.

Such has been the case for the New York Liberty and Chicago Sky this season, who exchanged Cappie Pondexter and Epiphanny Prince over the winter. Both guards have become rejuvenated in systems that seem to fit them perfectly, to the delight of both themselves and their coaches.

As a result, both Pondexter and Prince are leading their teams in a fierce race for the Eastern Conference title. Going into today’s match ups, Prince and the Liberty are in first place, one game ahead of Pondexter’s Sky. And there is plenty of time left in the regular season.

’cause I know it’s some people’s obsession: WNBA STAR MAYA MOORE KICKS BIG GAME WITH EXCLUSIVE JORDAN SNEAKERS

As to the games, clearly, we’re going to have to wait to see if that coach/player conversation had any impact in Minnesota, ’cause Washington sure didn’t see any change.

Really? It’s been THAT long since New York won in San Antonio?

With Indy and New York on hot streaks, Washington getting feisty, and the Sky feline’s their way, the East’s race to the finish is intriguing.

And, the West is all tipsy-turvey, with Minnesota’s fickleness, Parker’s return, Phoenix’s tank-free-ness and Tula’s stubbornness. Looking at the standings, I had a flashback to when the East was mocked for sending under .500 clubs to the playoffs…Welcome, shoe, to the other foot!

in college news:

You stay put: Women’s Basketball Coach Sue Semrau Signs Extension Through 2020

You stay put, too: New contract keeps Ali Jaques with Siena through 2020

You stay put, three: Texas State’s Zenarae Antoine Signs Contract Extension Through 2017-18

WATN? Rhonda Mapp: 

Rhonda Mapp is helping less fortunate families get ready for school.  

Her Kool Kutz Barbershop and Salon is offering 100 free haircuts and hairstyles as well as book bags and school supplies to children August 23. Doors open at 10 a.m.

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