Women's Hoops Blog: July 2004

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better


Saturday, July 31, 2004

Lieberman gushes on and on about Anna DeForge.

Anna's come-from-nowhere story is amazing. I thought it was a travesty that she didn't win Most Improved last year. Although I'm not quite ready to say that DeForge's game is "comparable" to those of Lisa Leslie, Katie Smith, and Sheryl Swoopes, I agree with most of what Nancy says about DeForge. Nonetheless, I'm not really sure it's a good thing for Lieberman to write this sort of article about DeForge.

I don't know the nature of their personal relationship, and it's none of my business. If they are partners in their personal life, it's fine to keep that private, but Nancy should probably just abstain from writing as a journalist about Anna.

And personal matters aside, Anna and Nancy are business partners. They run basketball camps together. They sell Mannatech together. (Mannatech is a "multilevel marketing firm" -- that's corporate-speak for "pyramid scheme.") Nancy also works as Anna's agent.

Given their relationship, is it really appropriate for Nancy to write articles like this? Isn't there some conflict of interest between Nancy's job as a journalist for ESPN and Nancy's job as Anna's personal representative? Shouldn't she at least include some sort of disclosure statement saying, "I think Anna's as good as Lisa Leslie, but by the way, I'm also her agent"?

I like most of what Nancy does. I think she and Voepel are the two great national media figures for the game, and I'm always happy for the work they do. In the debate between Barry and Mary Jo about the general merit of Lieberman's work, I come down more on Mary Jo's side.

But this is slightly absurd.
By June, it was already clear that things weren't going terribly well for Dee Brown in San Antonio. By mid-July, Brown was already talking publicly about other jobs.

Yesterday -- without waiting till after the game, much less till the Olympic break -- he quit. He wrote "God bless you, ladies" on the locker room board and issued a statement apologizing for the team's performance.

The Stars, emotional after the news, lost again.
A few years ago, I started thinking that it would be fun to do some sports writing on the side. My original plan was to try to approach an indy weekly like the City Pages or the SF Guardian and offer to do some free lancing on women's sports. Part of the idea was that maybe I could score some press passes for games here and there.

While clerking, I read How Appealing every day, and got the idea to go the blogging route.

This week bloggers got let in the door at the convention. Last night, the Lynx gave Sara and me our first ever press passes, fulfilling the dream that got this started.

We went in the media entrance. A few guards looked skeptical ("You're press?"), but we eventually found the media room, where we got to meet a couple people we knew over email, and also got some free dinner.

We didn't really know where we'd sit, but they had us down at the press table. Courtside. Pam Schmid of the Star Trib, Tim Leighton of the Pioneer Press, the AP reporter, and us. Sara and I kept whispering to each other: "This is really weird."

Being courtside at basketball games is one of the best things in the world. You see so much more of the game -- coaches giving instructions, Sue Bird calling plays, everyone working the refs. It's awesome.

The big drawback of the whole thing is that, sitting in press row, you can't be a fan. You can't yell at the refs. You can't heckle the other team. We couldn't even stand up and cheer for good plays. I'm usually really loud (and occasionally rude) at games. It's against my nature to sit quietly.

After the game, I think we were supposed to wait out in the hallway for interviews and whatnot. That was a little too weird. I'd love to talk to some of the players, but I just couldn't picture it. "Hi Lauren, I'm Ted. I am here reporting for this, um... website thing. So.... what did you think of Vanessa and Nicole?"

It just seemed to silly. Maybe eventually we'll be more comfortable.

Anyway, it was all-in-all a pretty cool experience. I think we'll mostly just keep going as fans, but if we go get press passes now and then, that's pretty badass. Thanks to Courtney Lawson, Paul Swanson, and the Lynx for making it happen.
The Shock last night looked like the Shock last year: high energy, dominance inside. They had a 44-16 points in the paint advantage over the Lib.

“We’ve been looking for that performance all season,” Swin Cash said. “Coach told us that these last two games might be the most important of the season, and we showed up to play tonight.”
Ted and I attended last night's Lynx/Storm game at the Target Center. We got our very first press passes and got to sit courtside at the scorer's table. It was pretty dang cool. It is just amazing how big, fast, and physical these teams and players are when you get up close.

The first half was probably one of the most entertaining I have seen this year. It was fast-paced, physical, and just plain fun to watch. Neither team shot well from the field in the 1st half (Seattle = 35%, MN = 29%), but both were playing great defense and getting out on the break.

At the half it was a 4 point game and we were looking forward to another fun half. Unfortunately, Katie Smith's absence combined with the Storm's great guard play caught up with the Lynx. The second half was pretty much all Storm.

Sue Bird, Betty Lennox, and Tully Bevilaqua put on a guard clinic in the second half. Bird showed why she is one of the best point gurads around. She is constantly moving, directing traffic, and she is a threat to shoot from the outside. Together Jackson and Bird have a lethal inside-out game. Betty Lennox gave the Lynx a good taste of what they were missing by trading her a couple years ago. She is responding well to Coach Donovan's system -- last night she had 23 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 steals.

Despite the loss, I think the game was a good one for the Lynx. Instead of always deferring to Smith and just waiting for her to make something happen, as the Lynx are known to do, the rest of the team had to step up. Both Svet and Hayden looked great. Svet was all over the place, rebounding, hustling. She looked like someone who really wanted her starting job back. And Hayden played some of her best ball of the season. She and Ohlde really matched up well with Jackson. If only our guards could have kept up....
The Mystics, sans Mique, beat the Sun. Everyone chipped in: Sanford had a double-double, Beard had 14, Smith had 10 off the bench, SDS had 10 assists.

"I wish we had her, but she's not playing and we've got to do it as a group," said coach Adams. "We don't have too many players that can do it by themselves, that can break the defense down and create their own shots. We do it together like we did tonight then good things can happen."

Most of the team and coach Adams still don't know what's up with Mique. She put this short statement on the web on Thursday night.

Coach Adams, for his part, was a little more sensitive about the whole thing than he'd been the last few days. "All I know is what I need to know. I don't need to know anything more. Whatever she's going through, we're here for her, and I don't need to speculate on what they are, what those things are, because that's her and her family's situation and not mine. I don't need to know. And I'm okay with that."

Friday, July 30, 2004

The Lynx are happy to have a break so Katie can get healthy.

How the fans will respond is an open question. "People aren't used to going to our games and getting their kids off to school the next day -- or having to get kids out of school and going to the game," said Roger Griffith, the team's chief operating officer. "Right now we don't have enough information to be concerned. So it's more concern over the unknown. We have to hope for the best."

The Lynx face the Storm tonight.  The team has been kind enough (or maybe just misguided enough) to give us press credentials for the game.  I have no idea what that means -- will I be sitting courtside with Pam Schmid?  Will I be chillin' with Sue Bird after the game?  We'll see...
Coach Portland says WNBA coaches don't know how to coach shooters.  Kelly Mazzante, however, says Charlotte's offensive system is very similar to Penn State's, and she's comfortable in her role off the bench.

"We always have to be ready to play, whether it is for 15 minutes, or only three," she said.
Coach Michael Adams is not winning friends among the Mystics faithful.  First, his cursing and berating of players at games has caused a number of fans to write in to Washington Sports & Entertainment about his conduct.

In Chamique's four days of absence, he did not speak to her...until a few hours before the game against Detroit.

Now, he claims the Mystics can win without her.  Washington scored 41 points in its last game with Chamique.  The only thing the Mystics will win without Chamique is the WNBA draft lottery.
Holdsclaw will miss two more games. 

In a situation like this, coaches usually give quotes that sounds something like this: "This has been a tough time for Mique, and we support her fully.  We wish her the best, and we are excited to have her back when she's ready."

Here's what Coach Adams said yesterday: "Like I told you yesterday and the day before, she's talked to management and she's going through some things that I have nothing to do about. So that's taken care of and I have no comment on it."

"She's taking care of things she's taking care of," he told the Post. "I've said all along that if she's not here, we can win without her."

No wonder she doesn't like him.
Whalen got the fan spot on the All-Star team.

"I think anytime you're named to an All-Star team, you're a little surprised," Lindsay said. "I know I belong there. But it's not something where, if I didn't make it, it would have affected me much. I'm just going to try and have fun with it and enjoy my time there. I get to play with and against some great players."
Fabulous game in Arco last night.  It was probably the most intense WNBA game I've seen this season -- both teams looked good, especially in the second half when the shooting picked up.  It was actually a shame that it went to a second OT; by then, everyone was too tired to keep it up.

The Monarchs scored only two points in the final frame, and the Sparks got the road win.  Lawson was incredible, leading me to wonder: do they really need two great point guards?  Can't they trade one of them to a team like, say, Minnesota?

Rebekkah Brunson looked downright nasty out there.  She looks like Lamar Odom, bursting with talent.

Lisa Leslie became the first WNBA player to reach 4,000 points in the first half.  Her strange post-game quote: "It's a great feeling to accomplish that. But I don't know what it means totally because I am one of the pioneers in the league. Still, it's great to be first."
I'm back.  Managed to survive both the Bar Exam and the inevitable excessive drinking that followed shortly thereafter.

Thanks a trillion to Mary Jo for guest blogging.  It was great to be on the other side again, checking the site to see what's going on.  We hope Mary Jo will consider returning for another stint sometime in the future.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Another TV treat. Sunday's game between Washington and Phoenix will be shown on Oxygen. Noon Eastern time tip.

MJ
Chamique Holdsclaw played yesterday for the Mystics. The reason for
her disappearance is still unclear. She has refused to speak with the media.
read more on Mique and yesterday's game here.
Minnesota has two toughies left to play before the Olympic break. Both will be offered on NBA TV. Seattle visits Friday night, 8 p.m. EDT tip, and the Lynx are at Detriot Sunday with a 6 p.m EDT start. Charlotte is at Sacramento Saturday at 10 p.m. EDT and at Seattle Sunday at 9 p.m. in other NBA TV offerings.

MJ

Network tube coverage of two more games before the break: LA at Sacramento tonight on the deuce at 10 p.m. EDT (Monarchs have won two previous meetings but John Kerry speaks tonight at 10:30 p.m. Get out the TIVO/tape) and Indiana at Houston on ABC Saturday at 4 p.m. EDT. ESPN will air the Olympic team vs. WNBA All Stars Thursday, Aug. 5 at 7 p.m. EDT. That game is from Radio City Music Hall.

MJ

Celebrity status for Sacramento's Ruthie Bolton? No way. She can walk through Wal-Mart and shop unnoticed at the grocery story. But in this Sacramento Bee story Bolton does recall being asked permission by a fan to name a pet cat after her.

MJ

Kudos to Jeff Goldberg, beat writer for the Hartford Courtant in Connecticut. Jeff travelled to Denver to
write about UConn recruit Charde Houston,
recently named to the USA Junior National team.

MJ

A federal appeals court rules that the Michigan High School Athletic Association discriminates against some female athletes by scheduling some of its girls' sports in non-traditional season. The ruling was unanimous. Extensive coverage of this story from the Detroit Free Press. Executive director of the high school athletic association says appeal of decision is possible. His supporters cite "strain on facilities, coaches and game officials." What in the world is wrong with these people?

MJ

"If I were the judge, I'd be ready to shoot somebody." Quote from George Washington Law Professor John F. Banzhaf III who has been following the Kobe Bryant case on the Colorado Judicial Branch web site.
He saw immediately that the last name of the woman accusing Bryant of rape was included in a brief posted on the site. He immediately faxed that news to the court who say a clerk made a mistake. Yikes!
Full story in today's New York Times.


MJ

How can you become a WNBA team's basketball executive? Here's a primer on what it takes.

MJ

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Despite changing head coaches in the offseason, the Indiana Fever are headed for yet another late-season meltdown.  Why?  The team replaced Nell Fortner, a good, but not great coach, with Brian Winters, a former NBA coach with one of the worst coaching records in league history...who had never previously coached women.  Despite having more talent than Nell's squads, Winters' team is underachieving, while Nell was able to develop the talent she had to a higher degree than Winters.

There are other problems.  Indiana is last in the WNBA in field goal percentage (and the only franchise to shoot under 40% as a team).  More than any other team, Indiana has SWGs who cannot create their own shots (Steph White, Kate Starbird, Kristen Rasmussen, etc.).  Winters tinkers with the lineups more than Bridget Pettis changed her hair color while playing for the Mercury.  Most importantly,  Indiana has too many "third options" with Nat Williams and Kelly Miller (sometimes Deanna Jackson, though her inconsistency and disappointing season makes her a "fourth option" at this point). There is no "second option," no second consistent scorer around 13 points and 4.5 rebounds per game to help Tamika Catchings.

I am beginning to think Kelly and Coco Miller might have to play together for both to be successful. Maybe Washington should trade Tamicha Jackson for Kelly Miller...
Indiana begins its game against Charlotte with a 9-0 run.  Problem was, Charlotte outscored Indiana by 19 the rest of the way to defeat the Fever, 63-53.

Sting coach Trudi Lacey has finally decided to play rookie Nicole Powell, who scored 14 points for the second straight game. Tamika Catchings had another great effort13 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists...in yet another Fever loss (the team's fifth in a row). 

The San Antonio Silver Stars are now 6-18 and in last place in the WNBA.  I picked the team last in the Western Conference, mainly because: (1) Margo Dydek's halfcourt style does not mesh with the up-tempo game of the other starters; and (2) Johnson, Adrienne Goodson, and LaToya Thomas rarely pass the ball...but are all shooters. 

Even if SASS has the first pick in the 2005 draft, will Seimone Augustus help.  Yes, she and Marie Ferdinand would be great together...and Augustus could take over for the past-her-prime Goodson.  But the same problems are still there.  Johnson at the point can work, but it will take the right combination of post players, who aren't always looking for their shots and who are willing to rebound and play defense.  It will also take more discipline on Johnson's part than she has shown in the W...when will World Championships Shannon Johnson show up?

As for Dee Brown...for some reason, he was shopping Ferdinand around.  Dee, why?  She is the cornerstone of your franchise...not Pee Wee, not Dydek, and not Thomas.  For every Bill Laimbeer, there is a T.R. Dunn.

No Katie?  No Problem.   Minnesota used a balance effort from Helen Darling (9 points, 4 assists, 5 steals),  Tamika Williams (13 points, 5-6 shooting), Nicole Ohlde (10 points, 5 rebounds), and Svetlana Abrosimova (9 points, 6 rebounds) to defeat San Antonio, 66-53

Contrary to yesterday's Star Tribune article, Amanda Lassiter did not get the start.  Intsead, Abrosimova earned her first start of the year...and had her best performance of the season.

San Antonio point guard Shannon Johnson sat out the game with a bruised knee, according to the Star Tribune

 

If you're looking for inspiration, read this story on what's ahead for Delisha Milton-Jones. She'll have surgery today for a torn ACL that has ended her season with the Sparks and will keep her out of the Olympic Games. Good luck Delisha.

MJ

A five-game win streak built by the Seattle Storm ended last night at Houston. The Comets won 80-55 and outboarded the Storm 39-27. Tina Thompson, Sheryl Swoopes and Michelle Snow were a big part of the rebounding effort.

MJ

I'm always amazed that Philadelphia does not seem to be interested in having a WNBA team. I've heard the stories from Sixers management saying the franchise wants to concentrate on promoting its men but you can't deny the tradition of women's hoops in Philly (West Chester University establishing and winning the first national championship, Cathy Rush and her Immaculata teams, etc.). For more on that continuing tradition, read here.

MJ

Mystics' star Chamique Holdsclaw is still missing, and, according to the Washington Post,
nobody seems to know when she'll return.
But in the story we at least find out that Mique's absence is related to a "minor medical problem."



MJ
On Barry's list of the "kiddies" who have made the Junior National Team, I was intriqued that four are from California (Candace Wiggins, LaJolla; Courtney Paris, Piedmont; Charde' Houston, San Diego; Erika Arriaran, Norco). The original group featured a lot of high school seniors-to-be. Six of them made the final cut (Arriaran, Marissa Coleman, Courtney Paris, Angelica Robinson, Abby Waner and Christina Wirth). Coleman has already verballed to Maryland and Waner to Duke.

MJ

For 34-year-old Dawn Staley, her biological clock is running. She does want children and has a game plan. "I have abolutely no social life right now," she said in a Charlotte Observer story. "Don't have time. But I would like my own kids some day. Two of them. Twins. I need to find somebody who has twins running in their family."

MJ

Parity was the buzzword before the WNBA's season started. With eight of 13 teams below .500, that buzzword has legs.

MJ

No TV. It just isn't fair. I'd much prefer to SEE the Mystics at Detroit tonight, at least until the political stuff gets going, but that's not possible. Drat.

MJ

More drats. I'm looking at the Orange County Register's sports web page after enduring four popup ads including one about hair restoration, and the navigation bar across the top of the page has an easy link to the Lakers/Clippers, nothing linking to the Sparks/Monarchs. Ah those journalistic gatekeepers. For those not familiar with j-school methods, the gatekeepers decide what's important to the reader/viewer/listener. Without their support, you're in trouble.

MJ

On the other hand, the Minnesota Star Tribune has a separate web page for the Lynx with multiple stories on players and the Lynx are right up there in the main navigation area with the Timberwolves and the Vikings. No wonder Sara and Ted are in the state.

MJ

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

If you play WVGM or if you just like to follow games online with live box scores, I highly recommend using YAHOO.  Unlike the updates at WNBA.com, Yahoo has a complete box score that includes steals, turnovers, and blocked shots.  Plus, the updates occur in much closer proximity to the action (sometimes several minutes faster than the WNBA.com live box scores).
A WNBA postseason without the Houston Comets? Even Sheryl Swoopes is worried. She says she is no longer checking the league standings and charting her team's position.
Read here.

MJ

Docs say Katie Smith's knee is stable. That's a relief to the Lynx scoring leader who recalls her torn ACL injury from 1998.

MJ

While the Olympic men's basketball team gathers in Florida to prepare for Athens, the women are still playing for their respective teams in league games. Women's coach Van Chancellor says he was told when he accepted the job, that he'd have only 13 days with his U.S. women to get ready. "No sense moaning about practice now," he said adding "We will be ready." First full practice for the women will be Aug. 3 at Baruch College.

MJ


Kara Wolters, former Connecticut star, former Charlotte Sting, and Olympic gold medal winner, has decided to move on. She will marry in November and is building a house with her future husband. Wolters loves basketball enough to keep her ties with the game via a career in broadcasting.


For Dawn Staley, playing for the U.S. in the Olympics

is a privilege.
"I've been cut before from the Olympic team in 1992. Any time Ive got the opportunity to play for the Olympic team, I'm going to do it," she said. Staley says she'll find a way to help the U.S. win gold. "Anything less is a failure," she said.

MJ

When 100 fans gathered to hear a farewell address from Tennessee-Martin's husband and wife coaching duo Gary and Kim Van Atta, emotions flowed from both sides. Citing family concerns including more involvement with their own daughter KC and the illness of Gary's sister, the Van Attas can look back with pride at their Skyhawk women's climb to eighth place on the WBCA's academic top team honor roll in 2003. Looks like the right priorities, from this observer. Pat Summitt is a UT-Martin graduate.

MJ

Seattle's Lauren Jackson won WNBA Player of the Week honors for a second straight week. She's averaging over 20 points per game this season. The Storm are at Houston tonight. "
Here's the game preview.


MJ

Like former Vice President Al Gore did last night in his speech at the Democratic Nationl Convention, Minnesota's Teresa Edwards can make you laugh about being invisible. Edwards told USA Today's Oscar Dixon that not only is rookie Nicole Ohlde not on the radar with most people, the entire Lynx team has an identity problem.

MJ


Monday, July 26, 2004

The 2004 USA Women's Junior Championship Qualifying Team has been named, with a mix of rising high school seniors and incoming college freshmen:

Erika Arriaran
Essence Carson (Rutgers)
Marissa Coleman (Maryland verbal commit)
Laura Harper (Maryland)
Charde Houston (UConn)
Erlana Larkins (UNC)
Courtney Paris
Candace Parker (Tennessee)
Angel Robinson
Abby Waner (Duke verbal commit)
Candice Wiggins (Stanford)
Christina Wirth

The team will be coached by Ceal Barry (Colorado), with assistant coaches Lea Henry (Georgia State) and Carolyn Peck (Florida).

The U.S. Juniors boast a 19-2 record at this particular qualifying event, which has been held every four years dating back to 1988.  In the four previous competitions, Team USA has won two golds and two silver medals.

Minnesota scoring leader Katie Smith will be out two to three weeks, according to the latest information on the WNBA web site. That means she'd be ready to play for the Olympic team. Read here.

MJ

Mystics add a player. Still nothing new on Holdsclaw and her return.

MJ

The WNBA site allows fans to pick the final WNBA all star. There are 13 choices
on the ballot for the last roster spot. If you want to vote for someone not on the ballot, you can select from a pull down menu which gives you a list of write-in candidates. That's where I voted for Crystal Robinson. It's a little confusing because you have to enter a validation code which is listed left of the empty code box. The validation code changes every time you vote. You can access the site here and click on the link in the red box that says YOU DECIDE.

MJ
San Antonion coach Dee Brown on his team's flop this year. "I know what they are going through right now." Brown was the captain of the '96-97 Boston Celtics' team that finished with a franchise worst 15-67 record.

MJ

Inquirer's Mel Greenberg does comprehensive story quoting prominent WNBA players on drinking/partying atmosphere on college campuses. Taurasi, Mazzante, Dales-Schuman and Staley quoted on the subject. This is a good

read.


MJ

In same paper, Greenberg discusses possible hires to fill LaSalle's women's bball coaching job. He recommends associate coach Tom Lochner as interim then mentions Cheryl Reeve, assistant with Charlotte Sting, and Chrissie Dougan (nee Donahue), assistant at Cornell, as possible takers down the road.

MJ

Storm coach Anne Donovan not surprised by
nude photos of female athletes during Olympic build up. She says it all started when Brandi Chastain ripped off her shirt after scoring the winning penalty kick in the World Cup. Donovan says nude photos o.k. although she doesn't approve of it to sell tickets.

MJ

Jackie Stiles, former WNBA rookie of the year and scoring phenom,

back in the operating room,
this time for ankle surgery. She'll be sidelined 3-4 months.

MJ

Sue Bird collaborates on a book for children. "Be Yourself" is part of a series of kids' books. Others by Mariners Edgar Montgomery (Patience Pays) and Houston's Sheryl Swoopes (Bounce Back). "Hopefully kids will buy it and learn from it," Bird said.

MJ

Attention marketing folks. Large Russian community in Brighton Beach, should be courted as fans, according to Liberty's Elena Baranova. She wants her countrymen to come to games but says "It's hard for people here to buy tickets."

MJ

Pat Summitt, Tennessee coach and Mystic consultant, quoted on MIA status of Chamique Holdsclaw. "She's okay, everything is fine." Summitt found out from Mystics' President of Basketball Operations Judy Holland Burton about Holdsclaw's need to miss a game due to "personal resons." At least Mique let someone know she'd be out of action.

MJ

Sacramento now calling its reserves the "bench mob." Monarchs bench players EACH averaging nine minutes. Backup Ruthie Bolton was a big factor in Sacramento's victory over Indiana Sunday. Her three with 4:54 left regained the lead for the Monarchs. She finished with nine points.

MJ

Got to admire Monarchs' coach John Whisenant philosophy on substitutions. "If you only use your reserves in blowouts they don't feel the pressure under the gun."

MJ

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Beth Mowins, who is No. 11 on the rateitall.com web site ranking college basketball announcers
blew me out of my seat Saturday with a comment to Rebecca Lobo about Detroit being a conundrum. Huh? Conundrum didn't phase Lobo but it sent me to the dictionary for this definition: "An intricate and delicate problem."

MJ

New York, New York. It's a wonderful town. Coverage of Radio City Music Hall game between Liberty and Detroit in New York Post, NY Times and Newsday is outstanding. Evan Grossman's piece in the Post begins like this: "Nobody forgot their lines, nobody came down with stage fright and nobody broke any legs ..." Be-you-tea-full lead Evan! Read full story .

MJ

LaSalle basektball head coaches in charge of men's and women's teams hand in their resignations after two separate rape investigations involving players on the men's team. No decisions on replacements until next week. Statement in philly.com story from Connie Clery, co-founder of Security on Campus, Inc. refers to "justice for the victims." Clery's daughter Jeanne was raped and murdered at Lehigh University in 1986.

MJ

Liberty/Detroit game in Radio City Music Hall was a sellout. Movers carted 225 separate pieces of flooring from Madison Square Garden uptown and put them back together at RCMH for the game. Rockettes did halftime show and heck, some Liberty players even high kicked after the game was over.

MJ

Ted -- watching Peewee Johnson and Lindsay Whalen battle at Mohegan Sun Arena was pure joy.

MJ


News on Katie Smith from the Minneapolis Star Tribune is that the leading scorer for the Lynx (18.8 ppg) has a sprained right knee. An MRI revealed the sprain. Smith will be evaluated on Monday to see if she can play Wednesday vs. San Antonio.

MJ

Diana Taurasi has a bruised thigh (hip pointer) and had to leave Saturday's game with the Fever with 1:53 left in the first half. D had scored eight points. Newspaper coverage in Phoenix says that ice and rubdowns are planned. Mercury don't play again until Friday.

MJ

Apparently, Mystics' coach Michael Adams wasn't aware that Chamique Holdsclaw would not be playing for him when Washington visited Charlotte Saturday. "I don't know what her status is," Adams said. Team spokesperson says Holdsclaw was out of action for personal reasons. Mystics already shorthanded with Tamicka Jackson nursing a strained knee and Stacey Dales Schuman out with a sore heel.

MJ

A gaffe by Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory during ceremonies honoring Dawn Staley. His Honor said Dawn STANLEY four times during his remarks. McCrory had proclaimed Saturday "Dawn Staley Olympian Day." Just love those political moments, don't you?

MJ

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Whoops -- for Connecticut and San Antonio fans, the Sun host the Stars in a televised game at 12 noon EDT today (Saturday) on Oxygen.

MJ
Thanks Barry for that correction.

MJ

If you have a satellite dish there's a good chance you can watch tonight's game from Radio City Music Hall at 7:30 p.m EDT between the New York Liberty and the Detroit Shock. It's listed on the DirecTV program guide for NBA TV. I think Dish Network also offers NBA TV. For DirecTV users it's part of the sports package.

MJ


MJ, one quick correction...Kareem Abdul-Jabber has 38,873 career points. 


More emphasis on sex in the WNBA. First it's Lauren Jackson. Now it's Heather LaBella. LaBella, the Director of Tactical Marketing for the LA Sparks, is Playboy's Employee of the Month in the current issue where she poses topless. "We're always thinking of new ways to boost awareness," Jerry Buss said.

MJ

Mechelle Voepel interviews Jackson about the effect of her posing nude on the American media. "Since I did the nudie shots, they're loving me," Jackson said.

MJ

Voepel's take on selling women's sports with sex -- "It's pandering, even if unintentionally, to an audience that isn't comfortable with women unless they're sexualized."

MJ

Some things never change. "Some references to the female athlete in terms of her attractiveness or her sexual desirability was found in over half of the articles analyzed in this study." MJ Haverbeck's master's degree thesis in journalism on Treatment of Women Athletes By Selected Pennsylvania Newspapers and U.S. Magazines published in 1976.

MJ
Katie Smith says she hyperextended her right knee in last night's 64-61 loss to the Mystics. Like Delisha Milton-Jones' knee injury , Smith's possible exit from women's hoops would impact the U.S. Olympic team.

MJ

Lisa Leslie is a few points shy (LA Times Mike Terry says 3 points, WNBA stat line says 4 points) of 4,000 in her WNBA career. When Leslie reaches 4,000, she will be WNBA's all-time leading scorer but she's only No. 4 on the list Terry compiled of all-time scoring leaders in women's professional basketball. Katie Smith is No. 1 with 4,732 points thanks to her career in the American Basketball League. With those ABL points added on Leslie is No. 4 behind No. 2 Natalie Williams (4,292) and No. 3 Adrienne Goodson (4,069).

MJ

For the record, the all-time scoring leader in NBA basketball is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with 15,837 points (correction on this total -- see Barry's post above). Kareem played in 1,560 games.

MJ

Shock defeat Sting 63-53. Both teams shoot under 35% from the floor. Swin Cash gets 16 points, 14 boards. Feaster four of 14.

MJ



Friday, July 23, 2004

The Washinton Mystics, by a score of 64-61, defeated the Minnesota Lynx, in a must-win game for the Mystics. Alana Beard led the Mystics with 23 points (8-9 from the floor and 7-7 from the line) and 3 steals.

Speaking of Beard, here is an interesting breakdown:

Games 1-18:
7.6 points per game, 32.8 percent from the floor, 9.1 percent from three, and 62.1 percent from the line.

Games 19-22:
21 points per game, 63.8 percent from the floor, 75 percent from three, 77.7 percent from the line.

Due to her performances over the last four games, Beard is now shooting over 40 percent overall (for the first time this season) and is averaging just over 10 points per game. 

Unfortunately, Chamique Holdsclaw is shooting 28.9 percent in those four games...and the Mystics are 1-3 during that stretch.

UPDATE: Apparently, the final score was 65-61, as the WNBA scoreboard did not register the free throw from Chasity Melvin at the 7:39 mark.  Thank goodness for Yahoo and for the good people in the Lynx organization.  Hope Katie Smith's knee is okay...
Here's the thing Barry about last night's halftime spot with Ruth Riley. Pam Ward was up first and she began by asking Ruth about not being selected. That put me off as the story was about the fact that RILEY WAS SELECTED. A better questions would have been do you think the comments from your coach had anything to do with your moving up to the team. Lieberman then jumps in with three or four hard news questions which I found interesting. If I had my way, all of the ESPN talent would have degrees in journalism and another five years experience writing news stories but that's not the case so I just root for decent reporting no matter who asks the questions.

MJ
MJ, I have to disagree with you regarding Ms. Lieberman.  She is an egomaniac, who spends more time discussing her credentials than focusing on the game at hand.  This happens when she does color commentary at games or if she is in the studio. 

Yesterday, Ms. Lieberman won the award for the ability to state the obvious.  Her commentary contributed about as much as the French did in the Vichy years.

As I said, there is a reason why we call her Ms. Lieberman.  We do not use the "N" word in Phoenix.

Only coach Pat Coyle and Crystal Robinson have ever visited Radio City Music Hall, the home court for the New York Liberty's next six games in Manhattan. Players from the Detroit Shock and the Liberty will both be visitors for Saturday's game in one of New York's most famous venues. Shooting and passing perspectives will be unique with one sideline looking out on the theater seating arrangement. Rockettes will perform at halftime.

MJ
Yesterday the SF Chron uncovered some big new evidence in the Marion Jones case. Marion's ex C.J. Hunter told investigators that she was taking banned drugs. And her former coach Trevor Graham told them that he sent the BALCO syringe to USADA.
ESPN2 made a major effort in covering last night's Lynx at Sun game. Here's my take on the broadcast. Whenever Rebecca Lobo is doing color, the show is worth watching. Lobo, who has access to the bling bling crowd, brings unique insights to anything she covers. When her play-by-play man, whose name I did not write down (sorry), related the anecdote on Edwards receiving a cane from Lynx coach Suzie McConnell-Serio for her 40th birthday, Lobo added that the cane had a purse and a horn. Who wouldn't laugh at that?

The deuce producer also had Nancy Lieberman and Pam Ward offering comments and interviews. Kudos for Lieberman on her questions to Olympic add-on Ruth Riley at halftime. The sideline reporter was crisp, just like Jim Gray. She ran over on the live talk with the sister of Katie Douglas but the subject was breast cancer awareness. Can't argue how important that is to both sexes (men get it too).

Katie Smith was "en fuego."

"I should have stuck with my first instinct -- get tossed early so I wouldn't have to watch the rest of this," Thibault said. Great quote by Sun coach Mike and picked up by Hartford Courant writer Mike Anthony in his game story. One dreaded glitch, an early attempt to hear Thibault speak to players during a timeout didn't work. Just as well with the censors all over TV after the Super Bowl halftime fiasco.

MJ

Lennox produces. Ted's link below to a profile of the Seattle Storm's Betty Lennox, is a good read. Last night battling Betty showed why she's worth the price of admission. Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter Danny O'Neill shows off his observation skills with this. "But Betty Lennox was squinting through tears instead of sighing in relief after the Fever's Stephanie White missed both free throws. Lennox had been struck on her nose -- which was broken last month -- in the chase for the clinching rebound." Full game story here.

MJ

Am I crazy? Never get bored watching that American Express ad with Bird whipping off her warmup pants and high-fiving it through the crowd at the deli. Couple of new Budweiser ads during last night's Lynx/Sun game were really funny -- Super Bowl quality. Why watch ads? Cause it's all about the money, baby.

MJ

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Where are they now?

Former Penn State center Jackie Shook has landed in Tennessee and is making a comeback with a small private NIAA school. She was watching some old tapes of her playing days in Happy Valley with her husband who wondered why she gave up the game she loved so much. "I could see it in her eyes. She just really enjoyed it. It made me wonder why somebody who loved the game so much would just quit."

Shook was rated above former Lion and now Charlotte Sting rookie Kelly Mazzante by ESPN. In her "Trek to Trevecca," a small school in Tennessee, she talks about her journey. Read more here.
Kim Callahan sends news that she has created a women's basketball timeline. Helen Wheelock shared the work behind this effort.
Thanks Ted and Sara. I'm honored to be part of your Women's Hoops Blog.

MJ
Time for more guest blogging -- the bar exam is just a few days away, and just a few days after that, we're moving into our new house, so this is a good time for us to break.

Mary Jo Haverbeck will be taking over as guest blogger for the next week or so. Mary Jo is a legend in women's sports coverage, so it's a great honor for us that she has agreed to spend some time contributing to this site. Thanks much to Mary Jo, and we'll see you all in a bit...

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Correction: when I said earlier today that it was a new low for the NYC media because they didn't send a reporter to yesterday's Lib game, I was thinking it was a home game. Wrong -- it was in Charlotte. Sadly, papers almost never send their beat reporters to away games, so it isn't a new low... it's just the same old low.
Ruth Riley, passed over for the Olympic team, passed over for the All-Star game, feeling slightly underappreciated, but not bitter.

"I want to keep things in perspective," Riley said. "Basketball is a passion, and I love it, and I'm blessed to be here. But if you start to let things you can't control affect who you are, then you're not really going to be happy."
Betty Lennox has had an up-and-down career. She was popular in Minnesota, but she had some problems with Brian Agler and got a reputation for being difficult to coach.

As the Seattle PI reports today, however, Seattle is glad that it didn't listen to all the rumors.

"First-hand information is better than the rumor mill," said coach Anne Donovan. "Betty has unfairly been given a label."

"I've grown a lot as a person," Lennox said. "People who knew me before (college) and who know me now will tell you it's a night-and-day change. Don't base everything on what's been said or written about Betty Lennox. Those people don't know the real me. You've got to judge for yourself about who I am now."
Lynx milestones -- Katie Smith (3,253) is closing in on Andrea Stinson (3,269) for third on the league's all-time scoring list.  If she scores 17 on Thursday, she'll be behind only Leslie (3,964) and Thompson (3,457).

I also completely forgot to wish a Happy 40th to Teresa Edwards on Monday. Check out this feature page with some TE facts.
Taurasi's shooting has been off lately, leading many to suspect that she's wearing out from her crazy schedule. 

D says she's ok.  "This has been a long trip, these past four or five months. Things are starting to settle down a little bit. I feel fine, I really do."  She says, however, that she will start turning down some media requests.
The WBCA is recommending that the NCAA ban text messaging between coaches and recruits.  Some coaches like Rene Portland say that IMing is overly instrusive in the lives of all parties.  Others like Ceal Barry say it's silly to ban new technology.
Thank goodness for WNBA parity, says Charlotte.  After yesterday's OT loss to New York, the Sting have lost three in a row, but they're still right in it.

"That's basically how crazy the East is, we can lose three in a row and still be in it," said Dawn Staley. "We know what it will take to finish out good, we just have to do it."

In what may be a new low for New York media, it looks like not a single NY paper sent a reporter to yesterday's game. The Daily News ran the AP report, as did the Times and Newsday. The Post seems to have nothing at all. [Oops -- see correction above.]
The USA Today looks at players who were forced to choose between the WNBA and their national teams.

The Czech federation team told Kamila Vodichkova that if she returned to the Storm, she'd be off the Olympic team.   She went to Seattle, so she won't be going to Athens.

"It was a smart decision for me, stupid decision for them," said Vodichkova. "They made the decision in April: either the WNBA or the Olympics. For me, it's not a question. I'm going to Seattle whatever you say."
Last night in league play, Sara's team faced off against Shannon Loeblein, Miss High School Basketball Minnesota in 1991, and the U of M's second all-time leading three-point shooter.  She probably hit seven threes, didn't miss one.  We played fairly well, thought, and kept it close.  Still looking for someone tall... Kelly Siemon, come home!

Kevin Pelton on the Williams-Jackson trade.  He also puts together some numbers showing that the West is dominating the East.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Kevin Pelton weighs in on the Mystics' problems.  Is it Holdsclaw's fault for not making the players around her better, or is it the franchise's fault for not surrounding Mique with good enough players?
 
Kevin says both are true.
Ruth Riley posted her first blog entry in a month.  She discusses why the Shock aren't doing so well this year, but basically says she doesn't know.
 
Lobo hasn't posted anything on her blog since preseason.  Ann Meyers is on the once-a-month plan.
 
When they were announced, I was moderately hopeful that the league-sponsored blogs would be a good source of info, a new and potentially good way for fans to interact with (or at least hear directly from) players, coaches, and analysts.  So far, they have been entirely disappointing.
Lieberman on Becky Hammon and her comeback.
SI writer Jon Wertheim says the league is dying because it has no buzz.  He cites the Latasha Byears case as an example: a player gets accused of sexually assaulting her teammate, and the story just disappears.  Wertheim says that's a sign that not enough people care about the league.  A strange example, but maybe there's something to it.
 
Incidentally, the LA DA's office has not responded to my repeated requests to find out what happened to the case.  I'll try again today.
Swoopes might sit out the Olympics to rest her foot.  She says it's 50-50.
LA thrashed Indiana.  The Sparks had 4 players in double-figures; the Fever had none.  Leslie was huge with 23 points, 10 boards, and 6 blocks.
 
Temporary co-coach Karleen Thompson got credit for her first WNBA victory.  "It feels wonderful to get my first win. I knew it was coming, I just didn't know when," she said. "I think we played together as a team tonight and we put together two good halves of basketball.
 
"They're a very good team and we didn't play at their level," said Coach Winters. "We had no answers for them and it didn't help we shot the ball so poorly. We never could get back in the game."

Monday, July 19, 2004

Contrary to Ms. Lieberman's report, Tamara Moore is NOT on the trading block (we don't use the "N" word in Phoenix, so I will refer to her as Ms. Lieberman).
 
Gwen Jackson makes about $38,000, locked in as part of her draft status from 2003.  Adrian Williams makes around $62,500.  Phoenix made this move to get a younger power forward who is a good rebounder.  Jackson had very good rookie numbers, and she has more offensive versatility than Williams.
 
Also, this move will allow Phoenix to offer Maria Stepanova the maximum salary (or close to it) for her September return.  Yes, it is true...6-8 Espionage Barbie will be back in Phoenix in September.  All of a sudden, Phoenix' post situation looks much better.
 
Jackson also adds to the Lady Vol alumni club on the Mercury, with Lisa Harrison on the sidelines and Nikki McCray and Ashley Robinson on the court.
As Barry reported early this morning, Phoenix sent Adrian Williams to the Stars for Gwen Jackson.
 
Lieberman analyzes the move and says that Tamara Moore is on the block too.
Help request for any lawyers/law students: does anyone have an outline (or other study materials) for Administrative Law or Family Law?
 
T-minus 8 days till MN bar exam.
Stars coach Dee Brown is on the short list of people to replace Orlando Magic color analyst Jack Givens.  Brown still lives in Orlando.  He also tells the Orlando Sentinel that he's had talks with teams for other NBA jobs. 

There's probably little to no chance that Dee will be in SA next summer.  The bigger question may now be: will he even finish the year?
In our Philly motel this weekend, we had HBO, so we finally got to see Ali G.  If you can check it out, don't miss the opportunity.
Led by Swin Cash, Detroit got a big come-from-behind win yesterday over the Stars.  “You are being tested right then and we could have folded and lost the game, but Swin Cash made big plays,” Coach Laimbeer said.
 
Swin had a big line with 18 points, 12 boards, 6 assists, and 4 blocks.
 
The East remains incredibly tight.  With all their struggles this year, the Shock are only 2 games behind the Fever.  As Barry noted last night (at 4 AM PHX time?  at the office?), even the last-place Mystics are only 2.5 games out of first.
The Merc finally returned home, but they couldn't stop Katie Smith (33 points) and they couldn't right the ship.
 
"It was a must-win we didn't win," coach Carrie Graf said. "It's now gone, and we have to move forward. The other (loss) was more heartbreaking than this one. We let that one go there. At least tonight we were right in there. We can't dwell on it. Dwelling only makes it tougher on us. We have to put it behind and focus on our next opponent. This was a backbreaker, a tough loss to swallow, but now we have to dig ourselves out of it."
Kurt Rambis, former Laker known mainly for his silly glasses, has apparently turned down an interview for the Sparks job.
Sue Bird (new sponsorship in hand) hit one of the wildest shots ever to give Seattle one of its most exciting wins ever. 
 
With the game tied in the final seconds of OT, Sue threw one up over her head with her back to the basket.  It went in, and the Storm won.
 
"She made the most incredible shot I've ever seen in women's basketball," said Lauren Jackson.
 
Sue gave the credit back to LJ, who blocked Holdsclaw at the other end to get the possession.  "Her block was huge. More so than whatever happened after, that was probably the most important part, because not only did it take away an opportunity for them to take the lead, by her blocking it, it put the ball ahead of the field a little bit and gave me an advantage."
Since the Final Four and the Whalen nontrade, Minnesota and Connecticut seem to spend some time looking over the shoulder at each other.
 
Yesterday, Ned Griffith wrote up the Lynx, and the Star Trib published this AP report on the Sun's two Minnesotan guards.
Weekend games produced a lot of offense...and some interesting results.
 
- Washington scored 83 and 71 points in two games...and lost both (to Seattle in overtime and to Sacramento).  The bright side?  Alana Beard averaged 23 points on 66.7 percent shooting in the two losses.  And the Mystics are only 2.5 games behind first place in the East.
 
- Sacramento beat Los Angeles and Washington to move into 4th place in the West.
 
- Connecticut has lost three in a row, but the Sun are still in 3rd place in the East.
 
- Minnesota has won five in a row, and the Lynx are in 3rd place in the West.
 
- Gwen Jackson did not play in SASS' lost to Detroit.  Adrian Williams did not play in the Mercury's loss to Minnesota.  Do the math. 

Friday, July 16, 2004

Marion headed to Athens.  Rhoden says US Track & Field should stand up to USADA.
 
Back-to-back, travel to NYC, no problem: Lynx (led by Ohlde, Hayden, Jacobs) beat the Lib.

We're off to Philly for a wedding.  Stay fierce, yo.
Shocked...what is wrong with Detroit?
 
Last year, the Shock were the best team in transition. Their half court offense flowed really well with Kedra Holland-Corn in the game because she was an incredibly consistent three-point threat (over 40%) and led the team in three-point baskets made. More importantly, her status as a threat opened up the floor for players like Nolan to hit open threes. As a team Detroit shot 39% from three in 2003 (3.7 made threes per game, 125 made total, with KHC and Nolan combining for 98 of them).
 
Contraction has allowed teams to catch up with Detroit's speed and athleticism. And without KHC, Nolan is the only three point option. She is not getting the open looks because there is no other consistent threat from the perimeter. As a result, Nolan is taking contested threes, and her shooting percentage from the perimeter has plummeted.  This year, Detroit is shooting 30% from three and is only making 1.8 three point shots per game. Total offense is down, from 75 ppg in 2003 to 70 ppg in 2004.
 
Also, KHC was a very good defender...quick and athletic. Without her, Detroit is allowing teams to shoot much better from three. Last year, opponents only shot 29.8 percent from three against the Shock. This year, opponents are shooting 35 percent from three.
 
Hence, Detroit scrapping to get back to .500 this year after leading the league in wins last year.

One day after ripping the Mystics organization and her teammate, Chamique Holdsclaw scored 19 points, as the Mystics defeated the Charlotte Sting, 68-54.
 
Today, Tamicha Jackson was Washington's second-leading scorer.  But this is an ongoing problem.  The Mystics do not have a consistent second scoring option.  Presumably, it was to be Alana Beard.  But while the rookie from Duke has been dominant defensively, her jump shot has disappeared, and she is only averaging 8 points per game on less than 34% shooting.  Jackson is streaky, Stacey Dales-Schuman is decent but not a world-beater, Chas Melvin looks lost offensively, and Coco Miller seems to have reverted back to her 2001 form.
 
One constant in Washington has been losing...another has been Chamique.  Maybe the two are not related, but Mique could be due for a change of scenery.  If SASS wins the Seimone Augustus prize, why not Augustus and Ferdinand, plus the second round draft pick for Chamique?

It may have been Cynthia Cooper's night, as her jersey was retired, but Tina Thompson stole the show, scoring 33 points in her third game post-injury, after two sub-par performances.
 
TT was putting MVP-caliber numbers before her injury.  With her back in the Comets lineup, Houston still should make the playoffs.  But they need more consistency and better ballhandling from Sheila Lambert, Kedra Holland-Corn, and Felicia Ragland for that to happen.
 
Speaking of better ballhandling, Detroit's 25 turnovers are not going to get them back to the playoffs.  But Elaine Powell was activated today, so hopefully she can re-energize the team, bring some stability to the point, and move Chandi Jones back to the two.
Nikki Teasley, Anna DeForge, Nykesha Sales, Cheryl Ford, and Taj McWilliams-Franklin were named as starters for the WNBA All-Star team that will take on the U.S. National Team on August 5 at Radio City Music Hall.
 
Solid positional choices...and kudos to DeForge, better known as "Co Jones" by some Merc fans (though I prefer "Valley Forge").
 
Foreign players who play for their national teams (e.g., Elena Baranova) were not eligible for the WNBA All-Star team.  But what about Mwadi Mabika?  Where is she?

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Another example of mainstream media stories on women's sports quoting message boards: Last week in Newsday, Sheryl McCarthy wrote this commentary in Newsday about the pressures on female athletes to look sexy. (The article has since been syndicated and picked up by a few papers around the country.)

McCarthy's article quotes from a student on this discussion board for a course at Bryn Mawr. (She also misspelled the student's name.)
At the ESPYs, Taurasi won Best Female College Athlete and Best Female Athlete. She went with the pink outfit.
Chamique Holdsclaw blows up in the Washington Post today.

She suggests that she might want to play elsewhere. She takes a dig at coach Adams, saying she wishes they'd never let coach Stanley go. She criticizes her teammates, saying they haven't made the "same commitment" and that everyone has their "own agenda."

As I've pointed out before, this isn't the first time Holdsclaw has publicly criticized her teammates.

Chamique is one of the best players of all time. No one can doubt her desire to win, and we can all understand her frustration at the Mystics' persistent losing. She has been burdened by an unstable organization that has brought in some subpar coaches and players.

But I still think there's no excuse for a player to say things like this to the press.

Imagine that you're Stacey Dales-Schuman or Alana Beard or Chasity Melvin. When you read this article today, are you happy to be playing with Chamique, or do you wish you were somewhere else (like Asjha Jones)? Does it make you want to practice or play harder? Does it make you more motivated, or just pissed off?

The Mystics have problems, and as the team's best player, Holdsclaw has the right and the responsibility to try to motivate her teammates. Her public criticisms in the press, however, are counterproductive and out of line.

(For debate and other viewpoints on Mique's comments, see the ESPN board thread.)
In yesterday's other game, Indiana beat Houston. The Comets have now dropped 5 in a row.

Indiana got great performances from Stephanie White and Kelly Miller in addition to the usual Catchings show.

"It was one of our best games of the year," coach Winters said. "Our half-court offense moved the ball very well, our defense was quick If we can get our shooting percentage up, just a few points to 40 or 41 percent, we can move ahead and maybe get a streak going."
I knew we wouldn't get through Whalen Day with out this...

Pioneer Press columnist Bob Sansevere never writes about the Lynx and never goes to games. At the beginning of the year -- although he'd apparently never been to a single game -- he nonetheless felt that he had the expertise to determine exactly what the team needed, and he trashed the Lynx for not trading away the whole roster for Whalen.

Yesterday he went to the game (his first?). Today he repeats the same arguments: he says the Lynx should have traded anything Connecticut wanted to get Whalen.

In addition to its inanity, Sansevere's column is premised on his factual ignorance (or intellectual dishonesty). He implies that Whalen drew an additional 10,437 fans to yesterday's game. He doesn't even mention the thousands of Day Camp kids, who would have been there for the matinee no matter who we played.

Obviously Whalen would bring extra fans if she were on the team. I would guestimate that we'd average 1,000-3,000 more per game. I remain somewhat conflicted about whether we should have made the trade. Reasonable people can disagree. But the tirades of know-nothing jackasses like Sansevere add nothing to the debate.
The Minnesota fans got what they wanted: a strong performance by Whalen and a win for the home team.

Lindsay, as usual, wasn't overly emotive about the experience. "It was good to be back. I didn't really have expectations. I wasn't nervous or scared about it."

"I think about the draft a little bit, but I have no regrets," she said. "I'm happy to be where I'm at.''

Coach SMS downplayed the comparisons between Whalen and Ohlde, who had her biggest game of the year. "This wasn't a competition between Nicole Ohlde and Lindsay Whalen," she said. "They have different value to their teams. They play two different positions."

Said Nicole herself: "We're kind of on a roll right now. Hopefully we can just keep it going."

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The story of Taurasi and Serena.

At the ESPYs, Diana will be wearing either a "hot black number with the plunging neckline or the head-turning pink pantsuit" with just a "black lacey bra."

The makeover segment will air during the ESPYs on Sunday.

Taurasi later joined her pal Okafor at the Playboy mansion.
Great game, record crowd, Lynx win.

(But I'm never going to Camp Day again. It was loud, and not in a good way. Plus, there were some kids in my section cheering not just for Whalen, but for all things Connecticut. I had to rough them up a little.)

So who was the best rookie on the floor?

Whalen, after a spotty first few minutes, was great. She tore up our weaker, slower, guards. Just like in college, she has an almost uncanny ability to get by her defender, find space in the land, and finish. She led her team with 18 points on 6-for-12, and added 2 rebounds, and 2 assists.

But she was upstaged by Nicole Ohlde. She is already a cornerstone of our offense, and most plays run through her. She is also a solid defender against stronger, more experienced players like McWilliams-Franklin. When she sat down in the second half, the Sun quickly closed the gap. When she came back out, it seemed like the whole Lynx squad stabilized.

She led her team with 21 points on 6-for-9. She also added 11 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 blocks. A huge performance.
Whalen Day has finally arrived, slightly overshadowed by the Ikea grand opening, but still a pretty big deal here in 'Sota.

"I don't know what to expect," said Whalen. "I just hope they see a good game."

The crowd will be huge, in part because it's Camp Day, but Lindsay's presence could push us to a new record, depending on walk-ups. Lynx officials are hoping that some of the newcomers will like what they see and return for more games.

"If we play really well [today] and create a good impression for people who haven't seen the WNBA before, that's a positive," said Roger Griffith, Lynx COO. "If they leave without a good impression, they haven't been here anyway, so it's not like we've lost anything. ... But hey, this is an opportunity for us. It would be great to take advantage of it."

Lindsay agrees. "I do hope the fans come back and see the team play here. It's good for women's basketball all over when people turn out."
Eric the "I love Larouche" sports blogger defends Playboy, and his readers (in comments) accuse me of being part of the "anti-sex, anti-porn wing of the feminist establishment." After all these years of toiling in obscurity, I've finally made it into the establishment!

But seriously, send me some Chappelle instead of the Man Show.
Coach Graf chat.
Fox Sports Australia:

"Everyone in the US, where [LJ] is the star player of WNBA side Seattle Storm, is still talking about the magazine appearance."

They are?

"Jackson has also been nominated for the Best WNBA Player Award at the prestigious ESPY Awards, to be announced in Hollywood tomorrow (AEST)."

ESPYs, prestigious? You mean prestigious like the Daytime Emmys or the People's Choice Awards?
The Blast had a great come from behind victory in YWCA league play last night. We had to start the game with only 4 people as our Ilini-star, Sara Vandertop, was not available for the first 10 minutes. But, our team of 5'6 over-the-hoops hill warriors came together late in the first half and never looked back. We had great outside shooting and fierce rebounding.

We also had some great fans out there cheering for us. Prtops to Pete, Sarah & Ted for their support.

Nice work Blast!

Now, for some ice and advil...
Milton-Jones is out for the year. Her non-traditional Egyptian knee therapy suddenly looks less miraculous.

No comment yet from Dr. Khalifa.

No word yet about a replacement for the Olympic team. Natalie Williams is one candidate. Cheryl Ford and Ruth Riley are also possibilities, and Coach Laimbeer is already campaigning.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Update: have gotten a couple emails that say I've overstated the Whalen effect on ticket sale tomorrow.

The Lynx sold close to 12,000 for matinee games last year and the year before. The annual matinee game is filled with thousands of little kids from Day Camps around the Twin Cities. In large part due to the Day Camp event, advance ticket sales for this game were high even before the draft, and hence before anyone knew Lindsay would be on the Sun.
Jamie Sale in FHM. LJ in Black+White. Now Katie Vermeulen and Amy Acuff in Playboy.

"[I]t's not about boobs or butts," Vermeulen said. "It's about strength and beauty and women who are strong and forceful, women who are posing to represent their strength and courage in their sport."

Yep, Playboy is all about displaying strong, forceful, courageous women. Boobs and butts irrelevant. Hence the frequent Steinhem centerfolds.

I'm going to go shoot myself now.
Tiff between Laimbeer and Chancellor continues. First Olympic team appointments, now this.
Don't get it twisted: it's Taurasi, not Tarowsi.
Lindsay Whalen was the hero on Sunday: taking over the game at the end, driving the lane, winning the game, leaving even players like Tamika Catchings impressed. She's had a great season, silencing the skeptics who said she wouldn't transition well to the pros. Kevin Pelton says say she's already an All-Star, and he won't be alone in that sentiment.

In short, she's doing what she used to do here.

Now she's back, but only for a couple days. Yesterday she signed autographs at the Megamall. 132 sold at $20 a pop. (Debate here, hat tip to Dawn.)

Tomorrow she plays the Lynx at the Target Center.

In many ways, it will be one of the most significant days in the history of the franchise, and not for very good reasons. Depending on walk-ups, we may break the franchise attendance record. We will have about three times as many fans there (for a noon weekday game) as we've had for most games this year. [But see UPDATE infra.]

The simple truth is that there are thousands of women's basketball fans in Minnesota who refuse to support the Lynx. Of course, they wouldn't all come out every game if a local favorite like Lindsay or Janelle were on the team, but even 1,000 more per game would add something like $20,000 of revenue per game, and that would make a big difference.

Before the season, I argued that the Lynx rightly rejected the "four starters" trade demanded by the Sun (see here and here, eg). The basic argument was that, for the long run health of the franchise, it's better to have a playoff team without Lindsay than a last place team with her.

But at times this year I've wondered if we made the right decision. At times, it's seemed like we've had the worst of both worlds: no Lindsay AND a mediocre team that might not make the playoffs. (Mercifully, the last few games have been reason for relief.)

Winning and losing aside, the franchise won't survive here without a lot more fans in the seats. There are probably only two ways to increase attendance: win a championship, or get Whalen or McCarville. The latter is more likely. And even if we have to trade our whole team to get one of them, it's better to have a last-place team than no team at all.

I don't know what we should do. For now, we'll just play hard and reassess our situation at the end of the season. I believe that Lynx owner Glen Taylor is willing to take losses for at least another year, so the franchise isn't in imminent danger. Eventually, however, he'll have to do something. When it comes down to it, we can only hope that a last-ditch trade for Lindsay or Janelle is still possible, and that the fans will come out regularly to see them.

For those reasons, it's been bittersweet for me seeing Lindsay's success this year in the WNBA. The problem isn't just that I'm not a fan of Thibault and the Sun. The bigger problem is that as she keeps doing well and becomes a cornerstone of Connecticut's squad, it becomes less likely that she'll ever return to the Lynx, less likely that we'll maintain a franchise in Minnesota, and perhaps even less likely that the league will survive.
Detroit: 25 turnovers, 20 field goals, another home loss.

"If you look at the body language of their team and the body language of our team, they are two different teams," coach Laimbeer said. "They were into the game and they wanted to win this game very badly. Maybe we felt that we played a couple of good games and we are back and we just have to go through the motions, but that's not how this works."

The Monarchs were led by their reserves -- the team's three leading scorers (Bolton, Anderson, and Brunson) were all off the bench. With the win, Sacramento has climbed into fourth in the West.
San Antonio was third in attendance last year behind DC and NY. There seemed reason to hope that we might have another solid profitable or near-profitable franchise in the league. But new sports franchises almost always do well their first year.

The honeymoon is over. The Stars' attendance is down 20% and season ticket sales are down 30%.

Losing is part of the problem. The Stars had a halftime lead at Key Arena last night, but fell apart down the stretch and lost by 16.

LJ had 25 on 9-for-15 and 7 boards. "They tried to guard me tonight, which was good, but I personally was not going to lose this game," said the reigning MVP. "It just was not going to happen."

Monday, July 12, 2004

Our traffic has dropped lately as the number of people typing "Lauren Jackson nude photos" into search engines has plummeted. I guess they didn't like what they saw enough to keep coming back...

The words Lauren, Jackson, Black, White, Athens, Dream, and Nude (along with Blog) have been our top referring search terms over the past month, accounting for more than a third of search engine referrals.

It's an absurd world.

Incidentally, the "Sharapova spanking" hits have also started to fall. "Taurasi lesbian" and the like remain fairly constant.
Jayda Evans grades the Storm players as we approach the halfway point.

Beat reporters sometimes shy away from that kind of article because they don't want to alienate the players they cover. This is good work by Jayda and the Seattle Times, which continues to provide some of the best women's hoops reporting in the country.
New favorite website. God, I love the interweb.
Katie Smith thrashed the Monarchs, dropping in 34 points and 6 three-pointers. Under her leadership, the Lynx have clawed their way back to .500.

"Katie knows what she's capable of doing, and what this team needs her to do," coach McConnell Serio said. "Tonight, she showed it."

"I was being aggressive," Smith said. "I was hitting some shots and got some good looks. We got everyone involved. A lot of people were doing some things."

Hayden went out after taking a shot to the head. Unclear when she'll be back.
Beleaguered by Crystal Robinson and exhausted from the long road trip, Taurasi had a rough afternoon yesterday. Despite the cheers from MSG gans, Diana shot just 4-for-16 and the Merc lost their fourth in a row.

"There was no added pressure or anything like that," she said of her first game at the Garden. "I thought it was great, besides the actual game. It was fun to come to New York and play, and I wish we could have gotten a win. It didn't happen."

Sunday, July 11, 2004

The LA Times couldn't even bring itself to send a reporter to Houston for Coop's final game. Coop barely mentioned in Stickney's Houston Chronicle report. Not exactly a great send-off by the media.

[UPDATE: Stickney has this piece on Cooper in Monday's Chron.]

To the extent that Coach Cooper's departure has generated press, it's mostly been talk about the implications for gender trends in hiring WNBA coaches. An important topic, to be sure... but we should also take time to recognize his accomplishments. I know, everyone hates LA, but he deserves his due recognition as one of the greatest coaches in women's pro ball.

He leaves with 119 regular season wins, second only to Van. 79% regular season winning percentage, 78% overall, both best in league history. Made the playoffs every year, won the West three times, won the championship twice.

Given his awesome record, his popularity in LA, and his undying loyalty to the Laker organization, it's unfortunate that the Lakers didn't seriously consider him after Phil left. He deserved at least a chance for that job... but such is the nature of Laker decisionmaking in the post-Jerry West era, when jackass owner Jerry Buss has let his jackass star Kobe take over the team.

As Nancy Lieberman said, the snub may have been part of the reason Coop decided to get out of town. I hope he's not leaving with hard feelings. He is a great coach, and the WNBA is worse off with him gone.

Related posts:
1. Coop in Denver
LJ photos. Please certify that you are 18 or older before clicking through.
After her loss, the attack dogs sick Marion Jones.

Mike Wise in the Post: "on the afternoon she could have shown an ounce of class toward her superior competition, Marion Jones decided that when the going gets tough, the tough blame the messenger."

Lena Roberts in the Times: "Was she too drained to perform in the 100-meter glamour race yesterday? Or did her aging body betray her when she missed the Olympic team in her specialty? Or was there another reason altogether?"

Olympic swimmer Gary Hall: "I hate that her defense is, 'I never tested positive.' It's an undetectable steroid. It's still a steroid. She still cheated. She should be banned for life. Everyone she has ever associated with has cheated."

Scott Ostler in the Chron: "Marion, sadly, has lost her magic, which could be due to age, or to having had a baby a year ago, or to, you know, whatever."

Ann Killion in the Mercury News: "Also thrown into question is Jones' legacy. A picture of grace and dignity as she sped to gold four years ago, Jones is increasingly angry and embittered as her Olympic dreams turn sour. Though she has hired a public-relations firm to spin the story her way, Jones offered no explanations Saturday."

Mark Kreidler at ESPN.com: "Jones wasn't hideously awful in her first attempted defense of an Olympic sprint championship; she just wasn't remotely close."

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Marion Jones out of the 100.

After the race, she left in a huff. "When I talk, you guys have something negative to say. When I don't talk, you have something negative to say," she said. "I'd rather not talk and spend the time with my son."

She still could head to Athens for the 200 or long jump.
The Sparks won again, but Delisha Milton-Jones reinjured her knee. Prognosis expected Monday.
Connecticut fans booed Kara Lawson, but it didn't throw her. She shot 8-for-8 for 21 points, and Sacramento ended the Sun's streak.

"I would rather be booed than not cheered so much at all," Lawson said. "You just feed off playing well and you feed off being in an environment that maybe doesn't like you very much. That's fun."
Down 55-35 with less than 7 minutes left, Lynx coach McConnell Serio put in a bunch of rookies to inject some energy and salvage some pride. Minnesota went on a 26-4 run and pulled off its biggest regular-season comeback ever.
Why ESPN sucks, irrespective of its women's sports coverage.
This situation at LaSalle is painful to read about. A women's basketball player was apparently raped by a member of the men's team, but when she told the coaches, they encouraged her not to report the incident.

Women's coach John Miller and men's coach Billy Hahn have both been suspended. Charges are pending against two players.
The Times today on Kerri Walsh and Misty May, the as-seen-on-TV beach team, getting ready for Athens.
The Times yesterday on Marion Jones and how she, unlike other suspected athletes, is able to spend millions to defend her reputation.

Marion didn't run terribly well yesterday, and there's a good chance she won't qualify for the 100.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Ferdinand is likely out for the season. Stars looking at a 10-win season.
More bad news for New York: Ann Wauters will miss 6 to 8 weeks.

Washington took advantage and sent the Liberty into last place.

"New York is hurting right now," said Holdsclaw, who had 19 and 10. "We just wanted to be real patient and take it to them, attack them and make them have to run and get up and down the floor with us."
A heartbreaker for my Lynx last night at Indiana.

Katie Smith hit a three to tie the game with 14 seconds left. But on the ensuing possession, the refs called a foul on Edwards as she and Stephanie White fought for a loose ball with only a second on the clock. White hit the free throws and won the game.

Indiana was 21-for-22 from the line.

Tonight the Lynx host Taurasi. Tamika Williams called her and told her that Katie Smith is gonna beat her up.
Seattle lost its second straight. Sue Bird had a chance to take the lead, but Tammy Sutton-Brown swatted her shot in the lane.

"Tammy came out of nowhere," Staley said. "I was just praying the shot would be off. Not only did Tammy block it, but she got possession, too."

Feaster and Lewis had 19 each.
Currently, there are seven WNBA assistants who are former WNBA head coaches:

- Brian Agler (current assistant coach for Phoenix; former head coach for Minnesota)
- Shell Dailey (current assistant coach for San Antonio; former head coach for San Antonio)
- Nancy Darsch (current assistant coach for Minnesota; former head coach for New York)
- Lin Dunn (current assistant coach for Indiana; former head coach for Seattle)
- Linda Hargrove (current assistant coach for Washington; former head coach for Portland)
- Marianne Stanley (current assistant coach for New York; former head coach for Washington)
- Fred Williams (current assistant coach for Charlotte; former head coach for Utah)

Still counting Michael Cooper as the Sparks' head coach, there are currenly eight male head coaches in the WNBA and five female head coaches in the league. Of the seven current assistants who were former head coaches, five are women. Hmmm...