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of regular season. *sad face* But playoffs! *happy face*

Star Tribune: Sunday Q&A with Lynx guard Anna Cruz

AZ Central: Mercury’s Kelsey Bone to take anthem protests into WNBA playoffs

Dallas: Wings’ first Dallas season did not go as planned but talent on roster gives reason for hope

The WNBA’s first season in Dallas-Fort Worth was full of uncertainty. How would the newly-minted Dallas Wings fit into the saturated North Texas sports market? How would former All-Stars Skylar Diggins and Glory Johnson return after missing most if not all of 2015?

Now as the Wings approach their season finale in Indiana on Sunday, the answers are clearer. Dallas, currently 11-22, will miss the postseason. The team drew an average crowd of 5,298 fans, none larger than the 7,275 that came for the home opener at the College Park Center at UT-Arlington.

Washington: Emma Meesseman is on track to be the WNBA’s best three point shooter

Washington Post: A postseason berth out of reach, Mystics wrap up disappointing season Sunday

The Washington Mystics began this season seeking to advance deeper into the playoffs following three straight first-round losses. With one game left, Coach Mike Thibault and his players instead are left to deconstruct what went wrong in failing to qualify for the postseason.

Connecticut: Still ‘A Culture To Develop’ In Sun, Coach Says

Not long after the Connecticut Sun play their last game of the season Sunday in Washington, Curt Miller’s life will change again.

It’s already been quite the two years for Miller, the coach of Sun. He has moved from his resignation as coach of Indiana’s women’s basketball program in 2014, to an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Sparks in 2015, to the coach of the Sun and, finally, adding the title of Sun general manager this season.

“I have been incredibly fortunate,” Miller said. “It’s been a whirlwind.”

More on Catch: Tamika Catchings: A reluctant superstar

Sometimes superstars need to be reminded they’re superstars. Doesn’t happen often. Actually, almost never.

But when you start out a gangly, shy, insecure girl with a wobbly self-image — not ever really fitting in — it’s hard to see a superstar in the mirror.

When you wear clunky hearing aids that kids relentlessly tease you about.

When you stop wearing those hearing aids to avoid the embarrassment and people think you’re ignoring them, that you’re rude or you’re dumb.

Knoxville News Sentinel: Tamika Catchings ready to leave a lasting imprint

.com: On The Eve Of Her Regular Season Finale, Catchings Feeling Different Kind Of Nerves

Sweet. From Slam: Captain America – Teresa Edwards laid the foundation for the US Women’s Basketball dynasty.

As the men’s national team’s leading Olympic scorer, Carmelo Anthony has reached a legendary status in international basketball. He has three Golds, more than any other man to wear the red, white and blue. But not the most for an American.

Teresa Edwards has four Olympic Golds.

Edwards, a 5-11 point guard from Cairo, GA, played before the WNBA was even an idea. There’s not much footage of Edwards out there, but luckily, Katie Smith was around to see Edwards play.

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So, THAT’s not how the Sparks and Lynx wanted to get out of the post-Olympics gate….

LA went up to Seattle and got squeezed by the Storm, 79-72. Stewie struggled, but Bird picked up the slack, hitting 5-7 from behind the arc.

“It’s surprising because we didn’t have the best offensive night. It was all about defense for us,” said guard Jewell Loyd, who finished with 15 points, seven assists and five steals with just one turnover.

Nneka continued her hot play, but it wasn’t enough.

“I think we sat around for six weeks and everybody told us how good we were and I think we softened up,” said Sparks Head Coach Brian Agler.

Maybe Excelle should play the lotto (Connecticut Sun: a team on the rise, playoffs in sight) ’cause the Lynx got stymied by the Sun (and Moore’s foul trouble)  in Connecticut, 84-80.

“We have to grind,” Sun coach Curt Miller said. “We don’t out talent anyone. There’s a reason that four of those players (on the Lynx) are on the Olympic team. We aren’t going to out-talent anyone in this league, but we have to out work and out tough.”

No one on the Lynx is pointing to the Olympics as an excuse:

“In the end, it’s probably a wash,” said Reeve, when asked before the Lynx’s 84-80 loss to the Sun if fatigue or lack of sharpness would prevail. “Any advantage they may have from being off, full-rested, maybe honing some skills, the group that was over in Rio is in game shape and has that rhythm of playing a game. That’s something you can’t simulate when you’re off.

In San Antonio, the Liberty kept their focus and dispatched the Stars, 84-77, thanks to the sweetness that is (MIP) Sugar. Hello, playoffs!

Elena Delle Donne brought the 34-point boom to Chicago as the Sky took down Atlanta, 90-82.

“We took care of the basketball, and I think the key was we married that to good offensive execution and attacked and got to the free throw line,” said Sky coach Pokey Chatman. “I think that comfort allowed us to weather the storm when we were down by seven and then up by eight. 

“It was nice to see that, and we’ll need it as we head on to Dallas.”

Speaking of Dallas, the eternal Pierson’s 23 (and 4000th) couldn’t help the Wings against Penny “sore throat” Taylor and the rest of the Merc.

Phoenix Mercury players won a combined four medals at the Rio Olympics, and more importantly, may have found the defense and chemistry that was missing before the Olympic break.

Despite falling behind by 11 early against Dallas on Friday night, the Mercury hammered the Wings 98-72 before 11,396 at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Phoenix’s most one-sided win of the season came against a team it went 0-3 against pre-Rio, including a triple overtime loss June 18 after leading 75-59 going into the fourth quarter.

Washington Post: Mystics and WNBA are back from Olympic break, but LaToya Sanders got no rest

Aussie, Aussie, ello! Mystics Sign Leilani Mitchell as Bria Hartley starts planning for a munchkin.

Slam Online: WATCH: WNBA Super20

The historic 20th WNBA season has been one for the record books. The Lynx and Sparks got off to a blazing hot start, the W has faced controversy for trying to police its players and the basketball has never been better.

With all the talent and storylines around the League, the final part of the regular season and the playoffs provide a guaranteed storybook ending.

Get hype for the rest of the 2016 campaign, picking up again tonight, with the video above, featuring highlights from the first part of the summer.

Also: Nike & WNBA Star Elena Delle Donne Donate Sneakers To Delaware Newborns

Meanwhile:

Doug Bruno savors experience with USA women’s basketball team

Baylor women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey donates to Louisiana hometown in wake of flooding

Vermont women’s basketball cancels game at UNC over transgender bathroom law

“The decision to cancel to our Dec. 28 women’s basketball game at North Carolina was made as a result of concerns over the HB2 law, which prevents transgender people from using government-run bathrooms based on their gender identity,” University of Vermont athletic director Jeff Schulman said Wednesday. “We strive very hard to create an inclusive climate for our students and staff in which they all can feel safe, respected, and valued. It would be hard to fulfill these obligations while competing in a state with this law, which is contrary to our values as an athletic department and university.”

WATN? Rodrigo is new grad assistant for Georgia basketball

WATN? Mo’ne Davis shifts her drive to the basketball court: The Little League World Series pioneer two years later

Davis, 15, is heading into her sophomore year of high school at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. She dreams of a career in the WNBA, and she knows the journey begins with the process of college recruitment. That’s why Davis has made the decision to forgo high school basketball this season – after representing her school as an eighth-grader and a freshman – and exclusively play AAU with the Philly Triple Threat team, where she can go head to head with the best talent in the nation.

“I made the decision because it was time to start getting out there in front of college coaches and showing my improvement over the next two years,” Davis said.

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Sporting News: For Team USA women, the element of surprise fuels dominant offense

 As a coach, there can be a challenge in dealing with designing an offense around what are 12 of the 15 or 20 best players in the world. So what Team USA women’s coach Geno Auriemma—whose team takes on Spain for the gold medal on Saturday—prefers to do is let his players work out their own offense.

Auriemma gives them structure, sure. But in his view, if his players are not out there doing things he is not expecting on the offensive end, he’s not particularly happy.

AP: Sue Bird back in practice with U.S. women’s basketball ahead of gold-medal game

There was a calm, relaxed atmosphere at the final practice for the U.S. women’s basketball team. Maybe it’s because injured guard Sue Bird was able to participate. Or maybe because many of the players have been in this position before — a win away from another Olympic title. 

“I understand it’s a gold medal game, we’ve approached it like any other game,” said Bird, a Syosset native who has helped the United States win the last three golds at the Olympics. “At the start of this entire month, every single practice and game we approached it like it was a gold medal game. Today’s no different.”

Hartford Courant: Taurasi, Bird Nudged Geno To Coach U.S. Women Again

“I think it will be, maybe, after the fact because it’s unusual that you get the opportunity to do it in the first place and here I’ve had the opportunity to do it twice for eight years and it does bring back a lot of great memories,” Auriemma told reporters, according to USA Basketball. “It’s a special time in my life that just as my coaching career winds down I get to somewhat end it with the players who, if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here. So I guess it’s just fitting that it worked out that way.”

In case you were wondering: 10 teams whose dominance rivals that of USA women’s basketball

Nina at USA Today: 1988 gold medalist Teresa Weatherspoon on why USA basketball will win another gold

“If you look at who they have on the team, they’re dominating individuals all by themselves,” she said. “But when you have a coach like Coach Auriemma who can put them together and have them work toward one common goal, that’s success in itself.”

It’s success that’s likely to bring home a seventh gold medal and a perfect bow on two weeks of memories, Weatherspoon said — even if it didn’t come with new friends from the Olympic Village.

The Medium: What I did on my Summer Olympics Break, by Alana Beard – Taught kids to swim, did some coding, built a house … you know … the usual

She is already the definition of a Renaissance woman — not only kicking butt at Duke, being selected as the second overall draft pick in 2004 for the Washington Mystics, and achieving four-time All-Star status with the L.A. Sparks — but also because she always has something cool going on beyond basketball. This hustler always has a side hustle. Take coding, for example:

“Coding is something I have always been intrigued by,” she says, after learning the skill last fall. “I would always come up with app ideas, but knew I would have to depend on someone else to build it for me. So, I decided to teach myself. From the moment I sat down at the computer, I was in love.

NCAA: 

Have been keeping an eye open for this: SDSU’s Coach Burns refused to remain silent

A judge will begin the civil trial in Burn’s 2014 lawsuit against San Diego State University. In her complaint, Burns, who coached the women’s basketball team for 16 seasons and is the winningest coach in San Diego State history, claimed the university forced her resignation less than a year after leading the Aztecs to a school-record 27-win season.

Burns claimed the university fired her in retaliation for her insistent demands that the women’s program be given the same treatment as the men’s basketball program.

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USA Basketball Women’s National Team Post-Practice Quotes

USA assistant coach Dawn Staley (University of South Carolina)
On Senegal, the USA’s opening opponent:
Senegal will look to push the ball up the floor by passing ahead to posts or guards in transition. Other than that, they want to set up a half-court offense where they have a certain look that they want. They certainly want to get their guards great looks from the outside, or drive it hard to the basket. Their posts are their utility players: screeners, rebounders, and they run the floor. They’re led by their guard play, so it’s important for them to play well in order for them to be successful.

USA Today: Breanna Stewart diary: On cruise ships, traffic and chemistry

Eight years ago, as a 14-year-old in North Syracuse, N.Y., I was glued to the TV set, watching the U.S. basketball teams — men and women — win gold in Beijing. I tried to imagine what it would be like to be an Olympian.

Now I’m starting to get the idea.

Being a part of opening ceremony on Friday night was surreal. We got to meet Michael Phelps and Serena Williams. Walking through the tunnel into the stadium, 550 athletes strong in our blue blazers and white pants, you heard this massive roar go up when they announced United States of America, and it was one of the greatest rushes I ever felt. I could’ve played a basketball game right there in my red, white and blue boat shoes — that’s how pumped up I was.

Doug: Fans like dunks, but Griner eyeing Olympic shot block mark

That individual goal would be setting the shot block record.

“That’s the one I really want,” the 6-foot-8 Griner said. “Dunking is nice, but blocking shots helps us defensively and also can lead to offense.”

The problem for the Phoenix Mercury center is that no one really knows what that shot block mark might be since there is no official Olympic record book.

“Really? Well then I’ll just have to set it,” Griner said with a smile. “And blocked shots help us win.”

Also from Doug: Griner’s hairy moment with Michael Phelps

Joe Rexrode: Lady Vols legend Tamika Catchings has found her voice

This is not officially part of Tamika Catchings’ Legacy Tour, though you can be sure she is engaging with the people of Brazil and leaving some of them better than she found them.

See, even as we consider the stature of this basketball career that is ending, the true legacy of 37-year-old Catchings is still under construction. There are professional athletes who start foundations, there are some who get serious about them, and there are the few like Catchings who live through them and find a way to make them matter.

Also, there are public figures who can help foster meaningful discussion about things that aren’t easy to discuss. Recent bloodshed in our country and Catchings’ important — and misunderstood by some — role in the aftermath marks her as someone who should have an increased presence in that arena.

Simply put, the former Tennessee great is cool with everyone.

The Advocate: Another crossover: Seimone Augustus keeps Baton Rouge on her mind as she pursues more Olympic gold

Marriage and playing a role in LGBT issues are only part of Augustus’ crossover. In high school and college, her flashy skill set spoke volumes, and that was enough.

Not anymore.

“I’m proud of Seimone for everything she does on the court, but the thing I’m proudest of is her growth as a person,” said former LSU assistant coach Bob Starkey, now at Texas A&M. “She’s always been a great player and teammate. Now she’s comfortable and confident enough to express her thoughts. There’s a depth to Seimone that people are seeing now.”

Johnette Howard: Rio is final encore for UConn basketball power trio

In the past they always could hold on to the idea that there might be another tomorrow for the three of them to be together again — back in the gym, back chasing another big title of some sort and reveling in the wisecracking, blunt, demanding relationship they’ve had since they were all at the University of Connecticut and coach Geno Auriemma was the unquestioned boss.

But point guard Sue Bird is 35 now and contemplating retirement. Diana Taurasi is 34, and she skipped the 2015 WNBA season to recover from the burnout of playing year-round in the U.S. and overseas. They agree the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro are surely the last time they’ll play for Auriemma, who is 62. And all three of them are determined to give this last ride together the reverence — and irreverence — it deserves.

Globe & Mail: Kelly: Canadian women’s basketball team could teach men’s side a thing or two about sacrifice

Seventy-four days ago, Canadian basketball star Kia Nurse had surgery to repair a hernia.

She was told that she’d be healed after eight weeks. In a best-case scenario, she could return to sports after ten.

“(The medical staff) told me, ‘You’ll be in rehab for four hours a day and you’ll love it, but we’ll get you there’.”

So Nurse, 20, had the operation. Eleven weeks later, she’s at the Olympics. Though she’s in the recovery window, the injury still hurts.

“But I’m a tough kid,” Nurse says, tugging bashfully on the straps of her jersey.

BTW:

Opals stand tall in face of home ground advantage

Canada dumps China 90-68 in Olympic women’s basketball preliminary round opener and Three-point barrage propels Canada over China in women’s basketball prelim

Japan wins 1st women’s basketball Olympic game since 2004, edging Belarus 77-73

France beats Turkey in opening game of women’s basketball tournament

NBC: Op-Ed: Why Are Team USA’s Openly LGBTQ Olympians All Women?

Not Basketball, but we’ve read this story before, and it still needs to be told: Out Of The Blue – On the eve of her third Summer Games, six-time U.S. Olympic swimming medalist Allison Schmitt hopes her frank talk about depression and loss offers a lifeline to other athletes.

Allison Schmitt surfaced from sleep in the middle of the night thinking it might snow on her three-hour drive to central Pennsylvania.

She curled her 6-foot-1 body into a ball and wept. Her thoughts cascaded, frantic: I can’t do this anymore. I just don’t even want to be here anymore.

If it snowed, she could drift over the lane line and people would think she’d had an accident on her way to see a college hockey game. No one would guess what had gripped her in the moment. She couldn’t grasp it herself. She was an Olympic swimming champion, barely treading water.

Back in the States – WNBA coaches put Olympic break time to good use

“I think all the teams just look at it” as positively as possible, says Chicago Coach-GM Pokey Chatman. It can be a mixed blessing of sorts, she points out. “If you’re a team that’s inconsistent or you’re a team that is trying to have someone heal from injury,” then the break is welcomed, says Chatman. “If we get on a little run [going into the break], I’m not going to like the break,” jokes the coach.

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the MSG employee (and her fabulous family) who offered me a seat with her “group” so that I could be near the two South Korean students who I escorted to their first Liberty game. She’s a two-time cancer survivor, with three young children who are GREAT company. So. Much. Fun. And so much generosity of spirit. A classic WNBA experience.

Of course, it helped that the Liberty won. Not to be a party pooper, but when it takes the ferocious effort of the soon-to-be-retiring Swin to inspire your team to to a close win over a struggling team... I’m not impressed.

On the flip side, a shout out to the “Not in MY house” Dream who stopped the Sparks.  With authority. Admit it – you lost money on that bet.

“We just wanted it,” McCoughtry said. “I told the team this was the game that could be the turnaround for our season. If we can beat them, we can beat anybody in this league. I hope the girls take this win and build their confidence so we can contend in this league and do some damage.”

Sucky Sancho news, though.

In case you haven’t notices, Elena is DAMN good. Delle Donne Brings Versatility To Life In MVP-Caliber Performance

As the Sky make their push for the playoffs over the last dozen games, they’ll need EDD at her MVP-best. Which is right where she was on Sunday in Seattle. 

Delle Donne poured in 35 points on a neat 14-for-24 shooting, grabbed 11 rebounds, and drained the game-winning three right over Breanna Stewart’s outstretched arm with just one second remaining.

For the geeks amongst us: Free Basketball: Analyzing The Historic Number Of WNBA Overtime Games

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Family of ex-Tennessee women’s coach Pat Summitt ‘preparing for the worst’

Former University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt is “struggling” and those close to her are “preparing for the worst,” a source involved in the situation confirmed Sunday morning.

“I don’t think anybody knows whether she will last a day, a month, or a year,” the source said.

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Thank goodness.

An ugly, cranky start by the Merc gave Maya Moore the Lynx a nice lead. And then then Penny Taylor in the fourth quarter happened. And then… Bonner missed a FT, Maya didn’t, Diana missed a three and Big Syl grabbed the rebound. Lynx go to 4-0, Mercury fall to 0-4.

From Richard at WNBAlien: WNBA and the Pick+Roll, and introducing the W Dozen

Eleven days into the WNBA season, it’s a little early to be drawing any real conclusions (although the ‘Minnesota good’, ‘San Antonio bad’, and ‘What the hell is going on in Phoenix?’ hot-takes are already emerging). So we’re going to take a look at one of the key building-blocks of virtually every modern offense in professional basketball. The pick-and-roll – or even just the pick – is an incredibly simple concept. You put a teammate in the way of your defender, and then force the defense to deal with the problems that creates.

From Excelle: How New York Liberty are remaking their small forward position

The New York Liberty play a throwback style of basketball. Defense and rebounding are priorities 1A and 1B. While other teams move towards smaller fours that can spread the floor, head coach Bill Laimbeer’s squad often plays two traditional bigs together. The Lib will bog teams down to a crawl and punish them in the low post. It’s been a fun and successful brand of ball, and it hasn’t taken away from the more modern aspects of New York’s game. 

This season, the Liberty have scoffed at playing traditional small forwards, opting instead for smaller players who perform despite not fitting the mold.

Connecticut: Slow Start, Too Many Fouls, Mar Beginning Of Miller’s First Season With Sun

Because of the monthlong Olympic break in August, the WNBA season lasts into September so a few missteps in May aren’t going to make a team panic.

Still, the start of season is a critical time for the Connecticut Sun. New coach Curt Miller is trying to install his system and bring a new culture to the franchise. It would be better for all concerned if some positive reinforcement was available early to help the process.

SlamOnline.com: Q+A: Nneka Ogwumike – The fifth-year Sparks forward dishes on L.A.’s hot start.

From Paul Doyle at the Hartford Courant: Dolson Spreads Word On Her Identity, And WNBA’s

About 90 minutes before the Connecticut Sun‘s home opener, Morgan Tuck walked past a cluster of reporters surrounding Washington Mystics center Stefanie Dolson.

“Oh my God, Stefanie Dolson!” Tuck yelled.

Without missing a beat, Dolson replied.

“Oh my God, Morgan Tuck!” she said.

Then it was back answering questions, seamlessly and smiling. Dolson, who left UConn for the WNBA two years ago, is still the same quick-witted, breezy personality who became a fan favorite during her time in Storrs.

From Cosmopolitan: How WNBA Player Imani Boyette Beat the Odds — and Her Depression

From the Fever: Wheelin’ Around: Erica Wheeler’s Journey to the WNBA

NCAA

From the Tennessean’s: Joe Rexrode: Vanderbilt’s Stephanie White — worth the wait

White is the head coach of the WNBA’s Indiana Fever and will remain so through a season that could realistically end in the Finals in mid-October (she led the Fever to the Finals a year ago as a rookie head coach). She might take full command of her first Vandy team less than a month before it starts the 2016-17 season.

That’s not ideal. But if White is what Vanderbilt thinks she is, what her resume and command of a room suggest she is, it’s meaningless. It’s the delayed flight to start a vacation that you’re already laughing about at the end of the vacation.

More on White from the AP’s Teresa Walker: Stephanie White ready to speed up Vanderbilt as new coach

And more on the ‘Around the Rim’ podcast: Meeting expectations

On the latest edition of “Around The Rim,” 2005 WNBA champion Ticha Penicheiro joins women’s basketball analyst LaChina Robinson as special guest host.

The two discuss the Sparks’ dominant win over the Sky, why the Mercury continue to struggle, whether or not teams are exceeding or falling below expectations and which players that usually fly under the radar are playing surprisingly well.

Plus, Hall of Fame coach Lin Dunn stops in to discuss Stephanie White’s end-of-the-season departure to coach at Vanderbilt, her decision to exit retirement and return to coaching at Kentucky and much more.

Speaking of Dunn: Kentucky’s new assistant coaches have strong bonds, common goal

It’s a word rolled out with regularity by head coaches to describe their team and coaching staff: family.

The three new assistant coaches hired by embattled Kentucky women’s basketball coach Matthew Mitchell certainly gave off that familial vibe when they met with the media for the first time Wednesday.

The newest hire, Hall of Famer Lin Dunn, said she thinks of her new boss “almost like a son” before giving a sideways glance and a smirk.

“Not a grandson, but a son,” quipped the 69-year-old, who has won more than 500 games at the college, professional and international levels.

International

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