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Could we please have two great games? (Next, I’m going to ask for four extra hours in the day so I can catch up with my work work so I can have more time for my basketball work….)

From Mechelle: Spot in WNBA Finals up for grabs – Lynx still considered favorite, but talent-laden conference finals await

The WNBA’s MVP award winner, Candace Parker, and rookie of the year, Elena Delle Donne, already have been eliminated from the WNBA playoffs. Which leaves us left in this postseason with …

Gee, at least four players who all could have been the 2013 MVP. And the rookie who was picked No. 1 in April’s draft. In other words, the WNBA conference finals, which begin Thursday night, are not lacking for star power. They are saturated with it.

“I love the fact that it’s not always a shoo-in for the team that’s got the MVP to win the championship,” Minnesota’s Maya Moore said. “I think that just speaks to the level of the WNBA and the talent that we have. The great quality of teams, the fight of the teams, and the big plays that people make to try to propel their team to a championship.”

This, in fact, will be the third year in a row the league’s regular-season MVP won’t even be in the WNBA Finals.

From Lee: Coaches, players size up the Eastern Conference Final

Lin Dunn, head coach of the reigning WNBA champion Indiana Fever, Fever forward and 2011 WNBA MVP Tamika Catchings, and the Atlanta Dream’s Angel McCoughtry, the league’s leading scorer this season, took time out from practice Wednesday for a media teleconference to share their thoughts on their upcoming Eastern Conference Finals series, which tips off today in Atlanta’s Phillips Arena at 7 p.m. EDT, airing on ESPN2. ESPN analysts Carolyn Peck and LaChina Robinson also weighed in. Here are some highlights from what they had to say. Click here for Full Court’s detailed preview of the Fever-Dream Eastern Conference Final.

Mechelle also previews Atlanta v. Indiana: Defense on stars is key in East

From Nate: Atlanta Dream, Indiana Fever meet in Eastern Conference Finals again

James notes: The Atlanta Dream still nursing injuries as they head into the Eastern Conference Finals

In a similar theme, Bob ponders: East finals: Which decimated roster will survive one more round?

Mark Ambrogi says Indiana Fever relish underdog role as Eastern Conference finals begin in Atlanta

Michelle writes: Mercury try to turn tables on Lynx

Nate asks: How can the Phoenix Mercury stop the Minnesota Lynx?

From Odeen: Phoenix Mercury look to break Minnesota Lynx’s recent mastery

WCCO: Lynx Welcome The Newly Renovated Phoenix Mercury Squad

Clay asks:Will the Minnesota machine stay in high gear?

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Laurel Richie

“Sophia has the right to express her point of view, however, I do not share her view,” WNBA president Laurel Richie said in a statement. “The WNBA supports diversity and we are committed to the equal and fair treatment of all people.”

Of course, she couldn’t ignore it, ’cause the rest of the world ain’t. From The Atlantic Wire: WNBA Star Doesn’t Care What She’s Voting For, She Just Doesn’t Like Gays

The WNBA is actually light years ahead of any other professional American sports league when it comes to progress for gay players and gay fans. While the NFL and NHL are busy talking about the anticipation of a single openly-gay player, the WNBA’s 2012 first draft pick, Brittney Griner, came out of the closet, was signed by Nike and was in a massive spread in ESPN magazine when she was drafted. “I am a strong, black lesbian woman. Every single time I say it, I feel so much better,” Griner said. Griner and Young actually went to the same college. 

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Ackerman’s white paper outlines recommendations to spark growth

Val Ackerman, the founding president of the WNBA and past president of USA Basketball, says a prevailing sentiment among stakeholders throughout intercollegiate women’s basketball is that the sport needs a jolt in order to spark growth.

While no one she spoke with thought the game was “broken,” the underlying theme throughout her many interviews was that women’s basketball has plateaued in recent years and that there is “a tremendous appetite for change” in the way the sport is played, marketed and managed.

More thoughts later, post digestion.

What do you think? Drop me your thoughts at womenshoopsblog@ gmail.com

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draftees have a better chance to surprise this year.

Mechelle says the WNBA draft hinges on the No. 4 pick

Last September when the WNBA draft lottery was held, Washington president/managing partner Sheila Johnson couldn’t hide the look of frozen horror when the Mystics got the No. 4 pick. Fourth was the “tough-luck” spot in a draft where there were perceived to be three prizes.

Washington’s woes were not Mike Thibault’s worry that day. He was still coach of Connecticut and focused on the playoffs. But almost seven months later, the No. 4 pick doesn’t look as bleak as it did last fall, and now it’s Thibault’s choice to make.

Remember when Swish Appeal set up their 13 to Watch? Now Nate offers up A preliminary draft board for the 2013 WNBA Draft

Last year, I posted an essay about the evaluation of draft prospects in terms of minimizing risk, drawing from principles outlined in the widely-read book Moneyball. Since then, I’ve set out to see if there are tangible ways to weigh a prospect’s value by their level of risk relative to past prospects based upon a set of red flags and similarity ratings. The following is a partial draft board based what I’ve been able to put together.

From the Des Moines Register: Iowa State’s Prins, Poppens bullish on WNBA teams’ interest

From the Daily Princetonian: Rasheed looks to go pro after Princeton

From the Bleacher Report: WNBA Draft Order 2013: Teams in Best Position to Acquire Elite Talent

Here’s the espnW’s first-round mock draft

Full Court offers up their WNBA 2013 draft preview: One, two, three, and then…

Some interesting dribs and drabs on the college season:

From Zach Neiner at Penn State: Breaking the stigma of women’s basketball

In December 2011, I sat in the Ernie Davis dining hall at Syracuse University with a friend watching, for a moment, Syracuse battle West Virginia in an empty Carrier Dome.

We made jokes about the game, itself, and attendance. Before this school year, I carried the same stigma as most do toward women’s basketball.

“Women’s basketball?” we thought. “What’s that? It’s certainly no men’s basketball.”

A lot has changed since that day.

For more than six months, I have covered women’s basketball, quickly learning to admire the beauty, the athleticism and the competition of the game. And how can one not?

From Fort Myers: FGCU ready to move on after disappointing end to season

Sharing the same facilities every day at a small school, the Florida Gulf Coast Universitymen’s and women’s basketball teams also share a close bond.

So it’s not that the women weren’t happy when the men, whom they consider brothers, made a historic run in the NCAA tournament last month. It’s just that seeing the program achieve unprecedented success was bittersweet after the women’s own promising season ended in disappointment.

From the AP’s Gary Graves: Louisville expects to grow from title-game loss

Add Lee Michaelson: For Louisville, season may be over but the magic lives on

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U.S. Women Win Fifth Consecutive Basketball Gold. Will the WNBA Benefit?

Comparing the men’s and women’s games may also put the women at a disadvantage. “Men’s basketball is all dunks, and it’s flashier, and women’s basketball is more about finesse,” says Jenna Stigliano, 29, of Connecticut who came to watch the gold medal final in London. “The slower pace may turn people off.”

Or perhaps we’re just focusing on the wrong thing. While the sponsorships are slow to come in, the league is making an impact perhaps where it counts most – in school gyms. As of last year, seventeen former WNBA players are head coaches for college teams, and dozens more are employed as coaching assistants. That may be where the league can have its greatest influence in growing both the sport and inspiring girls to become hoopsters. And that may end up expanding the league itself, as the bolus of younger players pushes into the professional ranks and start to create a supply that seeds a demand.

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Now for something completely different: WNBA star Swin Cash and Brian Davies argue over which is better, the USA Men’s Basketball team or the Women’s. Baron Davis stars as British rock star Brian Davies, breaking down the Olympics as you’ve never seen before.

This from the Connecticut Sun: Checking In From London – Asjha Jones and Tina Charles took a few minutes out from representing the United States in London to answer a few questions about their experience so far.

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and not so….

Hmmm, Minny’s looking good. *thunderous knocking of wood by Lynx fans*

Tina “It’s fun to score” Charles had a good time with the Mystics.

No, I’m not thinking you called Prince as the scoring leader (so far) or Prahalis as the assist leader (so far). I do call, “WTF with the hair” in that picture of rebounding leader (so far) Big Syl, though.

Is there something about Stanford players and last second baskets? And, no, L.A., you can’t play Seattle for the rest of the season and geez, Roman, sensitive much? :-)  wnba.com showing West Coast bias by hyperventilating over L.A. Sparks

CP3 confusion ends, though there is a need for a copy editor: Dream Waives Courtney Parris (sic) To Make Room For Jessica Moore

40. It’s the new XI: Sky, WNBA to honor Title IX on uniforms

COLLEGE:

Thank you, Sherri: The Write Space and Time: June 3 – Leave your story better than you found it.

As coaching careers go, mine was born lucky. My grand introduction to women’s college basketball coincided with the collision between the old Big Eight and the Southwest Conference. Football power conference plus women’s basketball hotbed equals the Big 12 Conference, a new concept and a fertile breeding ground for explosive growth. Nationally speaking, women’s basketball was poised for a coming out party. New programs and personalities were on the scene, attendance was rising, television was flirting…lightning was begging to get captured in a bottle. I was new to the collegiate scene, barely cognizant of the perfect storm I had landed in the middle of, and yet there I sat at the table with the giants of our game.

I was young and dumb in 1996 and yet smart enough to be quiet (read: keep opinionated mouth shut) and pay attention. Pioneers in their prime were running the room. Marsha Sharp was the captain of this juggernaut known as Lady Raider Nation. She coached Sheryl Swoopes (who scored 47 points in the National Championship game and would become an Olympic Gold Medal winner) and together with their throng of faithful followers they won a National Championship and took west Texas and the country by storm. Jody Conradt sat at the table–a national title, an undefeated season, the architect of Texas Women’s Basketball and a figure so respected, and at times so imposing, that she could have run for governor in that enormous state. And she would have won. Across from her sat Ceal Barry, the Colorado coach whose teams won four Big Eight titles and whose tenacious man-to-man defense and post player development had been building blocks of my high school teams for years. I loved watching her win and I so admired how her team did it. Talk about being in the right place at the right time! At those early Big 12 spring meetings held in the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, it was often hard to tell if my shortness of breath came from the altitude or the luck of my draw for getting to be a mouse in that room.

I’m not sure what’s going on with the Tennessee athletic department, but it sounds unpleasant and hurtful.

Oh, Canada! Natalie Achonwa Named To Canadian Women’s Basketball Olympic Qualifying Team

Cheerio, mate! Harvard’s Fagbenle on Verge of Making British Olympic Team

There’s a new boss in Sioux Falls: Amy Williams named USD’s women’s basketball coach

Ditto in Charleston, IL (EIU Introduces Lee Buchanan As Women’s Basketball Head Coach) and almost in Edwardsville (Buscher or Brown will be new SIUE women’s basketball coach)

Tambien in the land of the Thundering Herd: Daniel named Marshall women’s basketball coach

Aussi in New York City: After helping build SHU women, NYU a natural for Hall-Gregory

Central Arkansas taps Delta State for their new boss: Cent. Arkansas announces Sandra Rushing as women’s basketball coach

Delaware (no, not the Blue Hens) State picks Tamika Louis As New DSU Women’s Basketball Head Coach

Still waiting at Tennessee Tech: Coaches chime in on TTU search

Need one in Buffalo: Buffalo women’s basketball coach Hill-MacDonald’s contract will not be renewed

The former coach with a towel has a new gig: Associate Commissioner of the A-10

Interesting. As the WBHOF welcomes its newest inductees, (Go, Red Heads!) it also has an expanded board that’s rather… orange. :-)

OTHER STUFF:

Leveling the playing field even more

Girls-only sleep-away camps and suburban athletic clinics have been around for decades, of course. DePaul University women’s basketball coach Doug Bruno has run a basketball camp for girls at North Central College in Naperville since 1980, for example. What’s different is that these businesses are run by women who personally benefited from the changes wrought by Title IX and see their for-profit businesses as having an overt social mission.

Barb Lazarus was cheering her son’s baseball game several years ago when she noticed girls on the adjoining field didn’t really know how to play. Their lack of skills spurred Ms. Lazarus, 52, to make a business of multisport instruction for girls. Her Game On Sports Camp 4 Girls, in Lake Forest and Chicago and a sleep-away camp in Michigan, is in its sixth year.

Yes, I’m worried that Taurasi might not be able to play in London (I think we’ll be okay if she doesn’t, but it would stink for her), but I have no concerns about the future of USA Basketball:
Speaking of USA Basketball: Women’s basketball: Geno lifts Meier higher
Despite the 28-year age difference, their relationship has leveled. The mental pummeling Taurasi endured as an 18-year-old at Connecticut is over.
“When we’re together, something’s got to give,” Auriemma said. “When she was 18, I win, you lose. Now? She wins, and I lose.”
Auriemma’s ease of concession is surprising. It’s not a duo known for capitulation.
“I got to say that because I need her for the next month,” Auriemma said with a laugh. “Check with me after August.
* * *
Taurasi’s chance for her third gold medal almost didn’t reach this point of give-and-take. A false-positive test for a banned substance while playing in Turkey in 2010 nearly derailed everything. Taurasi says she’s never taken anything illegal, and the lab admitted it screwed up, then was stripped of its accreditation. She almost lost basketball.
“I don’t know how that makes a person feel,” Kathy Auriemma said. “It’s devastating. She’s not a casual person, she feels things very deeply. She cares and she loves strongly, and I think she was very lost [afterward].”

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but that doesn’t mean stuff isn’t happening across the age groups.

I’m already planning my July trip down to DC to watch the USA play on the 16th (are you?), and obviously I’m making plans for the Maggie Dixon Classic Dec. 9th (ya wanna help push our group to over 50? Email me at womenshoopsblog (at) gmail.com) ’cause Spoon’s back in town:  Weatherspoon returns to Garden as coach of Louisiana Tech at Maggie Dixon Classic in December

In the land of the Olympics:

Nate writes: 2012 Olympics Significant To Tamika Catchings Because It Could Be Her Last Opportunity

Catchings happy to be playing again as US women’s basketball training camp opens

“It’s not ideal since other teams have been practicing for a lot longer, but it’s what we have,” said Bird, who will also be playing in her third Olympics. “Every time you put the USA jersey on it’s an honor. I’m lucky I have had the opportunity to represent my country. Growing up there was no WNBA to look forward to, for me my dream was always playing in the Olympics.”

U.S. women’s basketball team in Seattle for Olympic tuneup

“I don’t think I have ever been as stressed out or as nervous, anxious, scared to death as I was whenever you are coaching in a medal situation for USA basketball because the expectation level is, ‘Of course we are going to win,'” Auriemma said. “That’s good and bad. … That’s great because we are the United States of America and we are supposed to win. It’s bad because sometimes people don’t appreciate how hard it is to win.”

Whirlwind Time For Lindsay Whalen, Maya Moore – WNBA Season Begins; Olympics On Horizon

From Jayda: Seattle a growing hotbed for women’s hoops

…to explain Seattle’s emergence as a center of women’s basketball, you have to go back, way back. Before the WNBA’s Storm and its passionate fans were born, before the Seattle Reign tipped its toe in the water of women’s pro hoops, before even the Washington Huskies women were outdrawing the men’s team at Edmundson Pavilion.

The story of how Seattle has become a hotbed for women’s hoops dates way back to pioneers like Cathy Benedetto and Joyce Walker, the women who showed the way. They made it possible for a couple of 13-year-olds emulating their hoops heroes in their hometown to believe it had always been that way.

The Cardinals have a new coach: Ball State University women’s coach Brady Sallee has lofty vision for program

“I remember watching the television when (Ball State) beat that team down south that wears orange (Tennessee),” said Sallee, invoking the style of Brady Hoke by refusing to acknowledge an arch-rival by name. “I’m excited to bring those opportunities and moments back to Ball State University.”

The Seawolves need a new coach: UAA women’s basketball coach says it was time to move on

Tim Moser, one of the most successful coaches in the history of UAA athletics, is leaving his job as the school’s women’s basketball coach, saying it’s time for something new.

Moser molded the Seawolves into a national powerhouse in his six seasons in Anchorage. He finished the most recent season with a 30-5 record and was one victory shy of making a third NCAA Division II Final Four appearance.

High Point needs a new coach: Wake Forest hires Jennifer Hoover as new women’s basketball coach

Jennifer Hoover, Wake Forest’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder, was hired as the Demon Deacons’ new women’s basketball coach on Wednesday.

Hoover, a long-time assistant who went 20-13 at High Point in her first try as a head coach this past season, was a three-time All-ACC honoree during her playing career at Wake Forest.

The Hoyas have a new coach: Georgetown introduces Keith Brown as women’s basketball coach

The Norse have a coach: NKU names new women’s coach
Former Michigan associate head coach Dawn Plitzuweit has been chosen to lead Northern Kentucky University’s women’s basketball program into Division I.

Toledo will have extra space next season: UT gets NCAA waiver – Women’s basketball team allowed to exceed scholarship numbers

Mikaala Shackelford has a new team: UWGB women’s basketball: Prized Minnesota recruit to leave after all

WNBA champion Lynx welcome back motherly leader (The next article in the hopper: As the NBA season opens, the 28-38 Trailblazers welcome back fatherly leader)

Taj McWilliams-Franklin led this bonding process like only a mother could. The 41-year-old, 6-foot-2 center with three daughters of her own has returned for another year with the Lynx. Her teammates couldn’t be happier to have the lanky lady they call “Mama Taj” back in the fold

Depth, Luck Major Part Of Repeat Hopes

Depth, camaraderie and health are the three main ingredients to a title defense. Look no further than the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks’ bench play during last year’s 2011 NBA Finals and its inability to replace JJ Barea and Tyson Chandler during this year’s first round playoff exit.

The Minnesota Lynx understand how important all three are to their goals this year, and they met two of those three objectives during the offseason by holding on to nine of their 11 team members from a year ago. And with coach Cheryl Reeve rolling out essentially three capable units during training camp, Minnesota has the depth to make another title run.

pilight has Three things the WNBA could do better

Now, most articles like this focus on things that cost money. Wouldn’t it be great to pay salaries competitive with those in Europe, have the players flown on chartered jets, and have massive advertising blitzes during the NCAA tournament, and so on. The WNBA doesn’t have tons of money, so today we’re going to focus on things they can do that cost nothing.

Speaking of “doing better”: What Can We Expect Kelley Cain To Contribute To The New York Liberty?

The New York Liberty announced via Twitter yesterday that first round draft pick Kelley Cain has arrived in training camp, which is perhaps the first step in calming the fears among some fans that they completely wasted a draft pick.

Surely we’ll learn more about what she offers the team as she spends more time in camp, but what might her numbers tell us about what she offers?

Well, not that much.

From a team who ought to do “real better”: Penicheiro has the right kind of mileage for Sky

Mix of veterans, youth encourages Silver Stars’ Hammon

If only basketball was played four-on-four: The Recker Crew – Mom knew best that hoops-playing quadruplets were destined for on-court success

Deidre Recker has been to every Ohio girls’ basketball state tournament since 1978. She’s proud of that fact, and mentions it often. She started bringing her children to those state tournament games when they were barely old enough to follow the action.

This is where you want to be, she’d tell them, and point to the court. This is where you’ve got to be.

Deidre stops, and she corrects herself. She hasn’t been to every state tournament since 1978. Once, in 1993, she had to watch the games on television instead.

Deidre was eight months pregnant that year. With quadruplets.

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Guru’s Potpourri: New York WNBA Lotto Bound? Ivies Consider Playoffs

If Patrick Henry, one of the famed patriots of the American Revolution, were alive today and happened to be a WNBA fan of the team in New York that will still be playing in New Jersey two more seasons, his expectation for the months ahead might be summed up by re-editing his famed speech of yesteryear by proclaiming instead, “Give me Liberty and give me the lotto.”

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Quick Takes: WNBA Pre-Draft Conference Call

Quick Analysis: New York Liberty Re-Sign Essence Carson

Quick Analysis: New York Liberty Re-Sign Essence Carson

2012 WNBA Draft: Top Five NCAA Scoring Power Forward Prospects

Interview with 2012 WNBA Draft Prospect Courtney Hurt Of VCU

Stanford’s Nneka Ogwumike In A Class Of Her Own Among 2012 WNBA Draft Prospects

The .com has its Team Draft Overviews

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then you’re talking about San Antonio.

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

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

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

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in Lois Elfman’s WNBA 15 for 15 is up: Crystal Robinson, Transitioning from Player to Coach

Heading into the 2007 WNBA season Crystal Robinson was in pain. Living on a daily diet of ibuprofen and acetaminophen, her body had a frank conversation with her head.

“It’s like my body said, ‘Crystal, you’ve got to quit. Do you want to walk when you’re 50 or not?’” Robinson recalls. “I got to the point where I was in so much pain that I couldn’t do the things I wanted to do. I became frustrated and decided I’m going to have to let this go.”

As the saying goes, when one door closes another opens. Robinson had always planned to go into coaching and she was excited by the prospect of being an assistant coach for Washington Mystics head coach Richie Adubato.1 Unfortunately, he resigned shortly after the beginning of the season, but Robinson remained as the Mystics assistant coach for two years.

She says the transition to coach—even with a team she’d played with up through training camp—came easily to her. Robinson, 37, attributes much of her skills to Adubato.

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Seems to me that this season the Shock are to the W what the Orioles are to MLB: when you need a win, you hope they’re on your schedule. Sun needed and, voila! Tulsa provided. Not sure if DeMya enjoyed it so much.

It wasn’t the first time DeMya Walker, a 12-year veteran of the WNBA, was about to get plowed over during the ever noble endeavor of taking a charge. But it may have been the first time anybody this big was doing so.

Let’s leave it here: Walker’s had happier sights in her life than a 6-foot-8-center, built like a tight end, running at her as if she were, say, the end zone.

Now that the Mavs have won (boy, is James being excoriated or what!), Ben has a request: Dear Mark Cuban: Please Buy a WNBA Team – Cuban would be a huge hit in the WNBA. (But Ben, didn’t you notice how quiet Mark was this season?)

The Times of Trenton celebrates their native daughter: Hopewell’s Ackerman still at head of class

Ironically, a rejection from cheerleading helped spurn Ackerman on to becoming one of the foremost cheerleaders of sports for girls and women.

“We had no sports opportunities for girls at Timberlane (a middle school in Hopewell) when I was there,” Ackerman remembered. “So I tried out for cheerleading and I got cut. My pride was wounded.”

The story was different for Ackerman at Hopewell Valley High, where she earned 10 varsity letters, including seven under Skiba, who was then the head field hockey and girls’ basketball coach.

Out of Eastern Iowa Sports and Rec: Son’s illness causes Frese to ‘look more at the now’

Brenda Frese has allowed her life to slow down a bit.

“As a coach, you’re always trying to stay ahead,” said Frese, a Cedar Rapids native and University of Maryland women’s basketball coach. “You’re always into that hectic pace.

“But now, from my end, I’m looking more at the now instead of the future.”

When considering the alternative, a life-slowing event doesn’t sound that bad.

As a bookend to the challenges of Muslim players abiding by their faith as they play basketball, from the Jerusalem Post: ADL urges FIBA to rethink ‘discriminatory’ uniform policy

To abide with Jewish rules of modesty for women, Israeli national team player Naama Shafir normally wears a T-shirt under her basketball uniform. However, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) for Europe said wearing the T-shirt would violate its uniform policy and it would not make an exception, thus preventing Shafir from participating in the European women’s basketball championship, which opens June 18 in Poland.

You may remember that Shafir plays for Toledo, which won this season’s WNIT.

The Journal-Courier’s Mike Carmin thinks the Trade may benefit former Purdue star Wisdom-Hylton

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but was too crazed this year to give the WBHOF inductees the attention they deserved.

Mechelle didn’t miss Val, though: As usual, Val Ackerman leads the way – Former WNBA president among six Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame 2011 inductees

Ackerman, an attorney who went to work for the NBA in 1988, was instrumental in helping shepherd in the existence of the WNBA. But she really does not take any credit for that; rather, she praises Stern.

“He made it happen,” Ackerman said. “He’s one of the most important figures in the history of women’s sports, and I don’t think he ever gets enough recognition for that.”

I appreciate that sentiment, and I hope Stern is also honored one day in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. But I’ve always thought that Ackerman was a pivotal figure — the right person at the right time — in women’s sports history, too.

She would never say that. I seriously doubt she has even thought about it. Ackerman is your standard high-achieving over-scheduler; someone who probably needs two Blackberries just to keep up with all her activities.

Mel has some notes on the ceremonies, but yet again I can’t make the dang page load.

Check HoopFeed for a great round up of the coverage, including

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WNBAlien: Women’s Pro Basketball coverage that’s out of this world (insert reverb)

This is an independent site covering women’s professional basketball across the globe, concentrating on the WNBA. Chief writer, editor, and all-around man-in-charge is Richard Cohen, whose ramblings you may have encountered before at SportPageMagazine.com (or possibly as Richyyy on a variety of forums around the internet).

Why WNBAlien? Because I like to think that I look down upon the WNBA with an impartial eye (y’know, like an alien looking down on the Earth), because I’m based outside the USA (making me an ‘alien’, in US terms), and because I like the way the ‘A’ noise from the end of ‘WNBA’ runs into the start of ‘Alien’. Also it lends itself to a cute graphic.

Here’s his latest post: WNBA Today, 06/12/2011 (Part One): Fever/Libs battle, and the Sky’s the limit

You know, I had a report just about finished on the New York-Indiana game at Conseco on Friday night, then they went and played again last night and produced a carbon copy, only with the result reversed. So let’s tackle both games together.

Pierson and Vaughn both picked up two early fouls in Friday’s game, which considering people like me keep going on about New York’s post situation looked worrying for the Libs. Not the case. Breland and Hollingsworth both came in and provided perfectly reasonable backup, the starters avoided drawing too many more whistles when they came back, and New York rolled. In both games the Libs opened up a lead in the second quarter, winning the period 30-18 on Friday and 22-16 last night to lead 52-42 and 49-45 respectively. So that’s the much vaunted Indiana Fever defense giving up 101 points in first halves alone on two consecutive nights – not what you’d expect from a team that has always built from a defensive base above anything else.

Hit his archives to catch up with posts like this: 06/08/2011: Shocking Basketball

I barely know where to start with this one. One WNBA game last night, with Tulsa travelling up to take on the Lynx in Minnesota, and if you stuck around to watch the second half when Mavs-Heat Game 4 was on offer instead, you’re an extraordinarily dedicated WNBA fan. Or you need your head examined. It’s really hard to watch or write about this Shock team, because they turn every game they’re a part of into disorganised chaos. By the end of the season they’ll probably be lucky to win 6 games, but they’ll likely have a 34-0 record in making games a complete mess.

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Lois Elfman has the first of her 15 for 15 series: DeLisha Milton-Jones: Winning First WNBA Championship

After winning gold at the 2000 Olympics, DeLisha Milton-Jones1 decided to spend the WNBA offseason in Los Angeles preparing for the 2001 season.2 The 2001 WNBA season would be the first played at the new Staples Center, and head coach Michael Cooper was intent that it be a memorable one.

“Every step we took then was very well ordered,” says Milton-Jones, who spent this offseason playing in Prague, Czech Republic. “Coop had a master plan in his mind for us to win everything. I’m sure it was very gratifying to see all of that come to fruition—all the hard work, all the long hours, all the speeches and all the stories he used to tell about what happened in his locker room or in his practices with the Lakers.”3

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From Mechelle: Questions abound for 15th season – Lynx-Sparks tip off WNBA season Friday, followed by four games Saturday

Question: Will the Liberty under new coach John Whisenant end up being a hot mess?

Magic 8 Ball: “Ask again later.”

It seems our oracle orb is essentially tabling this question out of some respect for the 2005 WNBA title that Whisenant won in Sacramento, and the ability of New York guard Cappie Pondexter. But Liberty fans must be feeling a good deal of anxiety, which is not, unfortunately, new for them.

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Grading America’s sports departments

This week, the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) released its third Racial and Gender Report Card on newspaper and online newsrooms. APSE partners with The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport to conduct the survey every two years.

The 2010 survey shows women and journalists of color increased as members of the total staffs of all APSE member papers and websites in 2010. However, the number of African-American sports editors has dropped since the last survey in 2008.

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From Clay Kallam: The Lynx Can’t Defend? So What? – The Minnesota Lynx won’t have a hard time piling up the points.

At the end of the game, the team with the most points wins.

It doesn’t matter if the final is 83-81 or 63-61. It doesn’t matter if one team dives on the floor all the time, or screens out with the fervor of a Catholic arriving at Lourdes. It doesn’t matter if one team is filled with defensive demons, or if the coach is known for her elaborate rotations.

All that matters is who has the most points.

From Sam Riches: New Movie: Off the Rez – Another great hoops documentary from the creator of Through the Fire.

Shoni Schimmel streaks down the left side of the court, her long brown ponytail bouncing in the air behind her. At full speed, she uses her right hand to wrap the ball behind her back and through her legs, before gently laying it off the backboard with her left. Her defenders, now a few steps behind her, never stood a chance.

Schimmel is from the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Oregon. Situated a few miles outside of Pendleton and just north of the Blue Mountains; Umatilla is home to around three thousand Native Americans. For Shoni, it is also her proving ground. She plays ‘rez ball,’ a ferocious, attacking style of basketball, fueled by passion, creativity and relentless aggressiveness. It is this flare and fearlessness that has resulted in many declaring Schimmel the second coming of Pistol Pete Maravich. A comparison that, while initially seeming improbable, is startlingly accurate

Other articles/reviews: New York Times and New York Post.

From Candice Wiggins: A WNBA Woman – The 15th year celebration of the WNBA comes at no better time.

When I was 6 years old, I was not even close to being good at basketball. I only scored 2 points the whole season (although my first rec team went undefeated and won the championship). Even though I was playing up against girls that were three and four years older than me (I was 5 turning 6, they were 8 and 9), I still wanted to be the best. But I wasn’t. That was when I first contracted what I now call my “competition sickness”. I had to be good, by any means necessary. Then, something ridiculous and partially unexplainable happened. I got GOOD the next season. Really good, to the point that I can still remember the moment I thought to myself as an 8 year old, “I’m good!” I believe that for me and for all great players “getting good” starts with having goals and then applying yourself. It took me countless hours of practice but I was dedicated. It was then a little hard for me to understand how good I truly wanted to be…I was at times even getting bored as a 9 and 10 year old, with high aspirations to be an Olympian like my ’96 Atlanta girls, but nothing really motivated me for the next four years, outside of college women’s basketball. Then suddenly my mom ran into my room and told me to turn on the TV.

“Look Candi, look who’s got next?!!!” It was 1997. The WNBA was launching.

From Delisha Milton-Jones: On Gratitude – The WNBA All-Star talks about the importance of giving back.


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today at 3pm. Check out ESPN  and ESPN.com for coverage. (There’s lots of Liz)

Mechelle has: Prospects put a lot of effort into prep – Players must move forward from the NCAA tourney and focus on draft-day mindset

Jantel Lavender was patient, looking around with her sister to get just want she wanted. There was a time when a 6-foot-4 woman usually despaired of finding dress clothes she liked that would fit — unless she had them personally made.

But Lavender, the Ohio State senior post player who was searching for just the right thing to wear to Monday’s WNBA draft (ESPN, 3 p.m. ET), says things have gotten much better for tall women when it comes to fashion.

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From Mechelle: Pondexter tweets illustrate bigger issue – Tweets did the damage, but leadership void from Liberty, WNBA made fallout worse

Pondexter apologized via Twitter, although people might find her apology not entirely adequate. I don’t know if Pondexter will learn a valuable lesson from this — think, think, think before you tweet — or whether she’ll somehow erroneously convince herself she’s being victimized for her beliefs.

There’s never going to be a shortage of public figures saying things that get them in trouble. Again, especially with today’s technology, that is a macro problem. But we also can look at this Pondexter fallout in a micro perspective.

Because it’s another indicator of the leadership void that has been a long-term issue for the New York Liberty but more recently is the case with the WNBA itself.

From the SFGate: Think before you tweet should be the social media golden rule

There’s been a rash of controversial Twitter messages and YouTube videos in the news the past few days. Just ask Chrysler Corp., comedian Gilbert “The Aflac Duck” Gottfried, rapper 50 Cent, UCLA student Alexandra Wallace and WNBA star Cappie Pondexter.

But these ill-timed, misguided or just plain stupid social media posts provide a valuable lesson for both companies and consumers: Stop and think before you post that tweet, video or Facebook update, says Ken Goldstein of the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies.

We all like to think 21st Century America’s advanced, but when I see how some people chose their friends by race, I wonder if, in their worst moments, they are really like UCLA student Alexandra Wallace and WNBA Player Cappie Pondexter.

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From Donald Barnat at SportsPage Magazine: Swoopes Speaks!

Former Houston Comets forward and WNBA superstar Sheryl Swoopes was among the many basketball luminaries who showed up to work with some 500 local youngsters at the NBA/WNBA FIT All-Star Youth Celebration at the Expo Center in Los Angeles this past Thursday night. The four-time WNBA champion and three-time league MVP sat down with SportsPageMagazine.com to answer a few questions about her glory days with the Comets, the importance of being physically fit, and just what she’s been up to for the last three years.

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The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the National Basketball Association (NBA) announced today that they will tip-off their 2011 sports envoy program with their first-ever joint trip to India. NBA Hall of Famer George “The Iceman” Gervin and two-time WNBA Champion Katie Smith will visit Mumbai and New Delhi from February 22 to March 2, where they will conduct basketball clinics with Indian youth, meet with university students, and participate in local community events in underserved areas.

And yes, it made me cranky that I was the one who had to add the link to Katie Smith’s info.

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This is (somewhat) encouraging: Diana Taurasi passed polygraph test

In the motion to dismiss, Taurasi’s Los Angeles defense attorney, Howard Jacobs, cites several irregularities in the way her case was handled by Turkish authorities, including a seven-day period without documentation to indicate where her urine samples were kept while they were being transported from Istanbul to Ankara.

“There’s no way of knowing whether they were kept in extreme heat or cold conditions that might have caused a change in her sample, or whether they might have been tampered with,” Jacobs says. “That alone should be grounds for dismissal.”

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it’s Dishin’ and Swishin’ time. This week’s show features:

Pat Summitt, Head Coach University of Tennessee
The Hall of Fame coach discusses this year’s Lady Vols, including the growth of Stricklen & Johnson, the SEC, and the team’s prospects for the post-season

Maya Moore, University of Connecticut
Preview the WNBA Draft Interview: UConn’s All-American on dealing with snow & drama, giving back after graduation, learning from the USA National team and more

Kara Lawson, Connecticut Sun Guard and ESPN broadcaster
On both the WNBA and NCAA scene! A look at the WNBA free agent experience as well as a review of the NCAA season, the top teams & players, and possible upstarts come tournament time

Brian Giorgis, Head Coach Marist University
#27/#26 Red Foxes coach has 2nd longest winning streak in the country and discusses the success of this team and past, being a mid-major come tourney time, and the prospects for the future

Shimmy Gray-Miller, Head Coach St. Louis University
Billikens coach discusses building a program in the difficult Atlantic 10 conference from scratch, from the facilities improvements needed through the difficulities of keeping players motivated and excited despite difficulties on the court (oh yes, and answers the question What’s a Billiken?)

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Jenny Boucek gets her own Q&A.

Plymouth-Carver High School grad Nancy Darsch offers Plymouth athletes advice about being a leader

In a WATN?, we read about Barb Farris’ coaching gig: Curtis girls basketball team continues to crush opponents

Alana Beard will be at the Girl Up! Pep Rally in DC Tomorrow

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Delaware Moves On Still Hopeful of Delle Donne’s Return

From Lady Swish: Longwood looks to cool off Liberty

From Pat: LZ Granderson on Gay Pro Male Athletes Coming Out and More

Check out this podcast with ESPN columnists Bill Simmons and LZ Granderson. They talk about gay male pro athletes coming out, out gay actors and lesbians in the WNBA (just a little). It’s a thoughtful conversation about coming out and beyond. LZ teaches Bill what it is. It is worth a listen to hear the wisdom of LZ Granderson on a range of gay sport-related topics. Soooooo glad LZ plays for my team!

From the Title IX blog: OCR Investigates Anti-Gay Abuse that Lead to Suicide

The Office for Civil Rights will reportedly investigate claims that the Tehachapi Unified School District in California failed to protect a student from anti-gay bullying and harassment that resulted in the student’s suicide in September. This appears to be the first investigation of its kind, coming on the heels of OCR’s guidance letter to schools that delineates schools’ responsibilities under Title IX to address sexual orientation discrimination that overlaps with sex discrimination, like where the student is targeted for failing to conform with stereotypes about sex and gender.

From Ken: ESPN fires reporter

A more thoughtful piece of writing came from Lori Heine at News Real Blog. Given that Ms. Heine describes herself as a recovering leftist, I knew what was coming. And, not surprisingly, I heartily disagree. But at least she doesn’t think Ms. Edwards needs bigger breasts to get over this whole thing. She does think that she–and by extension, all women–should just stop caring about these things men say. We’re not sweet babies, but cry babies, according to Heine.
I don’t know why others might care about this; but I care, because it matters. And if we don’t care about what matters…well then, what are we here for? Not to get all existentialist or anything but, seriously. What I am supposed to care about? What do people who aren’t feminists or concerned with social justice and equality care about? A lot of them seem to care about what the feminists and liberals are crying about, I’ve found.

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From Chicago: Hoops with House features assistant coach Jeff House.

Each week I will share with you a little of what is going on as we prepare for our ’11 training camp. It may be a little player personnel update or some coded, behind the scenes, special insight into Coach Chatman’s look at how she plans to instill the Fight, Focus and Finish for 40 mentality from Day One with your team. It could be some basketball tactics, techniques or strategy. It might be to answer some of your questions. Now please don’t start emailing the “Who are we drafting?” questions, I would tell you, but then you’d have to be locked in the Sky offices and sequestered until the draft in April.

From Minnesota: On and on with Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen

It has been one year and one day since former Gophers basketball star Lindsay Whalen was acquired by the Lynx in a trade. Whalen is playing for a team in Prague in the Czech Republic for the fourth WNBA offseason in a row. So here she is, via e-mail …

 

 

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From Matt Swartz at the Casa Grande Dispatch: Hall of Fame inductees share a love for CAC

It’s appropriate that one of CAC’s most successful programs will have one of its most successful players enter the Hall of Fame today, too.

Former women’s basketball star Bridget Pettis, who starred at CAC from 1989-91, went on to be the seventh overall pick in the 1997 WNBA draft and spent seven seasons in the WNBA, mostly with the Phoenix Mercury.

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From Mechelle: For now, Taurasi must endure wait – Will suspension come down, and if so, will it take WNBA star out of 2012 Games?

From the time an athlete is informed of a positive “B” sample, the process all the way through a CAS decision — if it goes that far — could take about eight months. That’s according to a standard USADA estimate, although there is no hard and fast timeline.

During such a process, there will be speculation and attempts to figure out what happened and why. Ultimately, explanations or proposed justifications won’t matter if an athlete is given a suspension.

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