Women's Hoops Blog: April 2005

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Saturday, April 30, 2005

At the New York Review of Books, Benjamin DeMott reviews "Reclaiming the Game: College Sports and Educational Values," a recent study of the impact of athletics on admissions by William G. Bowen and Sarah A. Levin.

Levin was an All-American sailor at Harvard. Her dad is Richard Levin, Yale's president.
Pelton checks in on Seattle's training camp.

Coach Donovan spoke to him about Adrienne Johnson's retirement.
She talked to me yesterday, and I asked her to go home and sleep on it, because, although she said she was sure yesterday, I wanted to make sure she was extra sure and sleep on it overnight. She called me first thing this morning and said she was still feeling good, had a good night's sleep, and that's what I told her - it was really hard at the end of my career to give it up. That transition from athlete to the next step is very difficult. The only way to do it is to do it all the way and be completely happy that it's done.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Saletan has two good articles, here and here, on steroids, Congressional hearings, and the conceptual incoherence of the distinction between "natural" and "unnatural" performance enhancers.
At Fullcourt, Clay previews the Monarchs' season. He says that Nicole Powell will be the key to the team's success.

And a couple days ago, Mark Lewis handed out his final grades for the NCAA tournament TV broadcasts.
The information is a little sketchy, but it sounds as if the NCAA D-I Board of Directors has passed the basketball recruiting and access proposals. We'll have to wait a couple weeks for the complete summary of the Board's actions.

The Board also adopted a resolution opposing the administration's new Title IX survey tool. "We felt that it was not true to the principles that have been in effect," said chairman Robert Hemenway.
Krista Latham at the Free Press interviews Elaine Powell and Coach Laimbeer about Powell's overseas fight.

"It's behind me now, and I've tried to move forward," Powell said. "I don't want to resurface it. I don't want to bring it back up. It's something that happened, and I can't change it."

"You can make any excuse you want to," Laimbeer said, "from the pressure of playing overseas to her personal situation with her mom passing away."

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Tim Korte at the AP reports, in an article picked up by dozens of papers across the country, that Seattle has sold out its opening game.

"We got them in the door last year. Now we've got to keep them coming back," coach Anne Donovan said.
Timber has come back into the fold.
The City Pages just came out with its annual "Best of the Twin Cities" awards.

In the category of "Best Place to Meet Single Women (Lesbian)," the winner was: Lynx games.
Jimmy Jam, Jessie Ventura, Prince: You straight men can keep your ringside T-Wolves seats, because we love the low-key lezzie-watching at Lynx games. Bargain ticket prices ($10 to $100 for a single game, plus great packages) ensure that the Target Center's packed with a mix of, um, folk: rainbow families, straight dads with their daughters, businesspeople with clients and season tickets, 18- to 20-year-olds who can't yet do the club thing. You can use binoculars for a closer, yet covert, look. Then at halftime you can wander around, see friends you haven't seen in a while--or wink and hand off a phone number. There's no smoking, and it's okay if you don't know how to dance. Oh yeah--and you get the opportunity to enjoy some pretty good basketball.
A bar run by a friend of mine won "Best Breakfast with a Hangover." True that.
Kathy McConnell-Miller's plan at Colorado: "continue what Ceal Barry, the legend in our game, has done."
The USA men's basketball team is trying to become more like the women's team.
Michael Rand talks to McCarville about her salary -- $41,600 this year, 2 percent raises for the next two, and an option for a 5% raise in the fourth. Also an apartment in Charlotte and a car to share with a teammate.

"I think $40,000 for four months of work isn't too shabby," Janel said. "I'm loving it."
Coach Donovan is grumpy. Without Bird, the Storm are hard to watch.

Asked if she's worried about having Holdsclaw in the West, she responded: "L.A. got rid of a great player and sure thing for a great player and a question mark."

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Katie Smith talks about the "30-something crisis" faced by WNBA players who know that they need to find another career to pay the bills, and who must consider quitting basketball early in order to get started.

"It's good money, and it's fun," Smith said of playing in the W. "But there has to be something else."

"With us, no matter how hard we work, we'll still have to have another job," Tamika Williams said.
Orender on expansion beyond Chicago: "I'm not sure I see a downside to expansion." Not a historian, apparently.

On Taurasi: "She is to women's basketball what Tiger Woods is to golf."
Holdsclaw: "It was a tough situation for me to ask to be traded. I know a lot of Washington fans didn't understand it at first, but I needed a change. Everybody told me, 'You're leaving your comfort zone,' but I'm not afraid of change. I embrace it. It brings about new challenges. I wanted to take the chance. I wanted to fulfill another part of me."
Ted previously discussed the salary cap situation faced by the Los Angeles Sparks...and the current situation involving Nikki Teasley.

But Teasley is not the only player holding out for more money. Laura Macchi (one of the two Italians from last season's squad) is also demanding more than the minimum she received last year. Unless the Sparks want to forgo having an eleventh player on the roster, it is highly unlikely that both Teasley and Macchi will both be on the Sparks' active roster this summer.

My guess is Los Angeles throws money at Teasley, while Macchi stays home until next season...when Tamika Whitmore's salary is off the books.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Colorado has found a coach. It's Kathy McConnell-Miller, who built (or rebuilt) the program at the U of Tulsa. Tulsa cut women's hoops in the late Eighties, but restored the sport in 1996; McConnell-Miller took over in '99. She also gives reporters Girl Scout cookies.

McConnell-Miller's sister Suzie McConnell-Serio coaches the Lynx. Suzie, Kathy and four other coaching McConnells sponsor a a basketball camp together.
A few days ago, Mike Terry reported that Nikki Teasley wasn't reporting to camp immediately because she was "attending to a personal matter." But as the OC Register reported yesterday, she's actually holding out for more money.

Teasley deserves to get paid well. Staley, Penicheiro, Johnson, and Bird all earn the league max of $89,000. Hammon gets a bit less than 80. Teasley, the W's assist leader last year, should be in the same ballpark.

Unfortunately for Teasley, the Sparks are having salary cap trouble (again).

Dixon, Hodges, Holdsclaw, Leslie, Mabika, Thomas, Wheeler, and Whitmore have combined salaries totaling over $520,000. That leaves only about $150,000 for the last three roster spots.

If the Sparks add two young players at the minimum ($31,200), they would have room to pay Nikki something in the 80s. But that's assuming they can add two at the minimum. Plus, if they get too close to the cap, they'll lose flexibility to have extra players on the IR and to add short-term contract players. It's unlikely that they'll be able to receive the sort of "emergency" cap exemption that they got last year.

In short, though Nikki is worth something in the 80s, it's not going to be easy for LA to pay her that much.

One of the functions of the salary cap is to promote parity by preventing an evil empire from buying up all the talent. LA has a powerful roster full of superstarstars... and the cap is starting to bite.

In other words, the cap is working exactly as intended.
Maria Conlon has smoothed things over with coach Thibault. Last year, she ruffled some feathers by wondering aloud why the Sun had invited "lesser caliber" players to camp instead of her.

"I apologized," she said. "It's not in my character to say things like that.”

But does she really have a chance to make the roster? And how will Connecticut fans react if she gets cut?

“You know what? I don't care," says T-Bone. "I've said this to anybody who wants to listen. Fans, media, whatever. This is about the business of sports. This is a business. When I'm selecting a staff, or employees, for lack of a better term, I want people who can fit the needs of the job description. Whoever is the best gets the job. I have no other agendas.”
Lynx media day was yesterday. The big question is: how is Katie Smith's knee?

The answer: it's coming along, but Minnesota is going to be careful. "I'm on a short leash right now," she said. "It is frustrating because you want to do everything you've done in the past."

"As you get older, and a couple of knee surgeries later, you have to pick and choose. Is an exhibition game as important as a midseason game? I can't play like I used to when I played eight hours a day. I have to pace myself."
Seattle Pacific grad Amy Taylor is getting a shot at a roster spot with the Storm.

"It's very overwhelming," she said. "Being at the D-II level, we didn't get that much media press. Things are a little bit more laid back. So, the glitzy things are a surprise to me."

Monday, April 25, 2005

Myth about Kamila Vodichkova...Seattle could not have matched the offer.

This only tells part of the story. Phoenix' offer to Vodichkova was made over three weeks into the free agency period. While Phoenix was waiting to see if Sacramento would match the Merucy's offer to DeMya Walker, Seattle was free to sign Kamila Vodichkova. But the Storm didn't.

Anne Donovan cannot hide behind her "couldn't match" comments. She could have signed Vodichkova for less than the maximum amount (what Phoenix is paying her). But Donovan did not take advantage of the opportunity. After Sacramento matched on Walker, Phoenix extended the offer sheet to Vodichkova. Donovan had over three weeks to re-sign Vodichkova and failed to do so. She could have re-signed Vodichkova, plus still have had money to pay Janell Burse to keep the post nucleus together.
More draft analysis from Keegan.
At dotcom, Matt Wurst reports on rookie orientation, which included "a lot of what you might expect to happen when a group of 37 college girls gets together: laughter, bonding, story-telling and general socializing."


Sue Bird sends in her last Russian dispatch. She says she bought a lot of cheap DVDs in Moscow. The MPAA is investigating.
The father of Tina Thompson's baby had a big night last night -- 30 points, 7 for 9 from outside.

"This year has been a great year for me personally, as well as for the team," Jones said. "I'm living my dream right now."
Jayda Evans on the new-look Storm.

"When I first heard about Sheri leaving, I was pretty sad," Janell Burse said. "I got pretty close to her, and that was the first piece. Then I heard about Tully. Then I heard about Kamila, and it was like, geez."

Vodichkova was the biggest loss. Seattle just couldn't match the three-year, $89,000 deal offered by Phoenix.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Over at WBOL, Kim Callahan has decided, correctly, that the debate over whether and how Sacramento should build a new arena counts as a women's hoops story.

Today's Sac Bee goes to town on the issue: columnists say build it. Developers propose a deal. A Sac State public policy prof has a plan. The editorial board sums up: "the political elite ...don't want to incur the public's wrath by throwing too much public money at a new arena. Neither, it seems, do they want to fail and thus be blamed for losing the Kings."

Do stadiums benefit cities? If so, how? It's for questions like these that I go to the Sports Economist, who weighs in on Sacramento here. The SE has other developments and opinions on stadium funding here, and here, and here, and here.

If the Maloofs moved the Kings, would they take the Monarchs? Or would the Monarchs stay, as the Sting did?
Michael Alter, who owns the Chicago Namethatteam, promises "great role models"-- and excellent parking. (Tickets here.)

Saturday, April 23, 2005

One week ago, Donna Orender hosted a party and the pros handpicked the NCAA's best in preparation for 2005 WNBA basketball. The heart and soul of the Penn State womens' basketball team tuned in on 8 tv's, surrounded by family and friends at a restaurant-sportsbar in Pittsburgh.

As it turned out, the WNBA champion Seattle Storm stole the heart - the player Rene Portland called the 'best all-around player she coached in 25 seasons' -with the next-to-last pick of the first round.

TV analyst Ann Meyers said that Anne Donovan was hoping that Wright would slide to the 12th pick. "She was very excited about Tanisha Wright," Meyers said of her meeting with Donovan before the draft. "She said, 'Nobody's talking about her, are they?'" After the draft, Donovan beamed. "Tanisha, I think, is a great player to develop down the road."

The group that cheered for Wright was still waiting at Dave and Buster's for Strom's magical moment. Days earlier, however, Strom had re-injured an ankle she sprained in the Big 10 semi-final. 'Its not serious', she said. But on the day an out-of-school, out-of-shape Kara Braxton was judged to be an acceptable risk, the fortunes of an All Big 10 point guard ranked among the NCAA's best turned on an ankle.

Strom's reaction? "To even be considered is a big compliment," she said. "Teams can still call you and you can go to the training camps."

The duo started playing together at 14. They were opposites who became inseparable. Their AAU coach once said, 'It was like they shared one brain'. Rene Portland once said, 'They are our team.' As it turned out, Strom's phone did ring. Like Wright, Strom's invitation came from a champion. Wright went West, drafted by the Storm. Strom is staying in the East, invited to camp by the Sun. And the gods of basketball are smiling again.
More player movement news:

The Fever will send Kristen Rasmussen not to Detroit (as some expected) but to Houston. This year's Fever drops four of last year's eleven-- Rasmussen, Starbird, Ivey, and Stephanie White. Schuey, a free agent this year, will return.

Mystery reopened: the Sun sign Strom.

'Stics training camp invites go out to Koehn and to spidery ex-Buckeye center Courtney Coleman, cut from the Sun's preseason roster last year.
From Chicago, another opinion column in defense of Title IX (that is, against the Bush folks' proposals to change it).

Hannah Rosenthal, who runs the Chicago Foundation for Women, sounds rather alarmist: does "the life span of Chicago's eagerly anticipated WNBA team" really depend on the size of the "public outcry" over the rule change? On the other hand, she gets to use a legitimate and continuing national controversy to plug a local cause with a cool purpose: GoGirlGo! Chicago.
Clarissa Davis-Wrightsil announced that the San Antonio Silver Stars signed forwards Wendy Palmer and Mfon Udoka to free agent contracts.

Palmer helped the Sun win the East Conference last season and earned league honors as Most Improved Player. Udoka represented her homeland Nigeria in the 2004 Olympics and led her team in scoring and rebounding. She has played for three WNBA teams in parts of three seasons.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Stephanie White on retiring (at 27): ""My body's been telling me for some time that this is the direction I need to go." White adds that "being available in the summer and experiencing recruiting full time" will help her become a head coach.

Nell Fortner: "She was having her best professional season [in 2003] and then she blew out her knee. If that hadn't happened, she might still be playing today."

Non-Hoosiers may not know her storied high school career. Carolyn Peck: "When I got to Indiana I was told it was God, Stephanie White and Bobby Knight, in that order. That shows how highly people viewed her."
It's no secret why the Connecticut Sun have been in the headlines. Coach Mike Thibault and his players want to win. Thibault wasn't sure whether the Sun should trade for Margo Dydek so he asked his players. “Asjha Jones probably stood to gain more minutes the way we were headed,” he said. “She said, ‘Hey, if we can get her, we should do it, because it would make us a better team.'”

Only four players remain from the Sun's original 11 player roster. “Any time you take over a team that has underachieved, you're going to make changes,” Thibault said. “They didn't underachieve just by coaching, they underachieved by who they were.”
The Connecticut Sun added another Westerner to their mix- Western Pennsylvania, that is. St Francis (Pa) center Beth Swink joins Penn State's Jess Brungo (North Allegheny HS) and Candace Futrell (Duquesne University, Pa). Swink will stay with Brungo. (Futrell, playing in Israel, injured her ankle preparing for the Final Four in EuroCup play.)

St. Francis coach Jill Poe said Sun coach Mike Thibault saw Swink in NE conference play and believes she can play at the professional level. The New York Liberty also expressed interest in Swink.

"(Swink) is so excited and so is the whole town of Connellsville," Poe said. "(Thibault) believes Swink can play at the professional level."

Swink is the second-leading scorer in conference history with 2,044 points. She averaged 22.4 ppg this season and led St. Francis to four NEC regular-season titles, three conference championships, and three NCAA Tournament berths.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Would somebody interview Mary Garber, please?

Wait: somebody did.
The Aussies will abandon their bodysuits in favor of...something else; they're still designing the replacement uniforms.

Introduced in 1994 for the national team, and also used by some WNBL teams, the form-fitting garb attracted attention in Olympic play. The WNBL's Lorraine Landon notes one of their drawbacks: ""We've never had merchandise for young girls to wear and [the uniform redesign] is an opportunity to do that."
Ex-Lib (and ex-NBA) coach Adubato takes over the Mystics, says he's excited about the Phone Booth. 'Stics GM Hargrove: "We had some intense negotiations."
Why does our sport keep attracting triplets?
Feenstra: tall. Dydek: taller. T-bone says last year's Sun were "the shortest team in the league," "one center away from a championship."
The Buffs say they'll have a new head coach "early next week." New AD Bohn promises a "proven head coach," not an assistant. (Perhaps SMS' Abrahamson-Henderson?) K-State assistant Ethridge says she doesn't want the Colorado job anyway.
As expected, the Sun will not be offering free agent forward Wendy Palmer a contract. The Journal Inquirer reports that Connecticut head coach Mike Thibault and general manager Chris Sienko confirmed it; Palmer's playing days with the Sun are over.

Last week, the Courant reported that the Sun offered Palmer a one-year contract similar to the one she signed last season. But yesterday's message board talk was that had if Palmer had signed the contract, then "she would have been cut after the Margo trade".

"I feel bad for Wendy because she was a huge part of our success last year," Thibault said. "But, Margo is a huge change for us - literally."

"At one time, I thought she was going to sign with Seattle, but I don't think that's happening since they signed (Suzy Batkovic)", Thibault said. "I thought New York would be a good place, but I don't know."

When asked about Palmer, Detroit coach Bill Laimbeer said, "We won't be signing her. As time goes by, cap space is eaten up and vets have to get paid $45,427. That is a lot in today's WNBA cap."

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The dot-com asks five players a neat question. Tina Thompson gives the coolest answer.
Indiana's Stephanie White has retired. Now an assistant at K-State, she hopes "to get into coaching full time."

White (formerly known as White-McCarty) was the last player left from the Fever's first season. The Indiana native also played on the Purdue team that won it all in 1999; Carolyn Peck, her coach at Purdue, calls White's life story "better than the movie Hoosiers." (That story might get buried in Indy by a notable retirement on the men's side.)

Janel tours the Sting's new digs in a hard hat and work boots.
President Orender tells a Connecticut press gig that "the WNBA is healthy, with all the right trends."

Sun GM Chris Sienko: '"It is refreshing to have a woman like her running this league."
The young, the Australian, and/or the injured:

Sun coach Thibault says Erin Phillips told him she would show up this season before he drafted her, and before her agent said she would not.

T-bone blames the Australian national squad: "She's kind of the young and the upcoming point guard of the future, and they've put a lot of pressure on her... What I think happened is that nobody on her national program thought that she was going to get drafted, so there wasn't any worry. So all the sudden it's, ‘Oh, shoot, Erin's been drafted. Is she leaving us?' Then the phone starts ringing. That's my theory."

Phillips speaks: "I've still got to make up my mind whether to go but at this point I'm thinking I'll hold off for a year and try and cement a spot with the Opals."

Tully's move to Indiana left Seattle with only one Australian. Batkovic will bring the count back up to two, but long-awaited guard Bibby reinjured her back and may not show up this year at all.

K-State coach Patterson says Megan Mahoney is exactly like Kristin Haynie, and will recover just like Nykesha Sales. Like Mahoney, Kesha hurt her Achilles tendon in her senior year: Patterson calls Sales "the standard example of how you handle an injury as severe as that."

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Storm Coach Donovan lauds Bat-girl, Australia's Olympic center. Drafted two years ago, she'll make her W debut this season, but won't join the team till June.
Pilight fights draft grade inflation.

And over at Full Court, a mysterious writer named Kevin Brown uses statistics to argue that "the WNBA's track record on the hiring and retention of black coaches is bordering on the unacceptable"; "Donna Orender and her staff should take a glance... before it becomes a real issue."

Is Full Court now making all its new content free? Good idea, if feasible. Free sites have more influence. UPDATE: Nope: you still have to be a subscriber to read the articles with orange bubbles next to their titles, and to post on the message boards. The race-and-coaching piece, however, is free.
Cut from last year's Lynx, onetime New Mexico Lobos star Jordan Adams battled a bevy of injuries in her overseas and NWBL career. Now she's working at Lobo Reunion Camp and seeking high school coaching jobs. "In college, it was easier and I was part of a team that wanted to be successful," she complains; in the pros, "everyone's just in it for themselves."

Plenty of players approximate Adams' career path-- dominance in a less-than-top-tier conference, one season coming off the bench in the W, a frustrating couple of years overseas, then attempts to move into coaching. Few, however, can count on the amazing Lobo fan base.
On Sunday GWU forward Montañana called herself "very disappointed" not to be drafted. (Neither was anyone else from the A-10, though many wire stories mixed up Ari and Loree Moore.)

Today Montañana reports to the Sun's training camp. If free agent Wendy Palmer departs, the Sun may want to add depth at forward, though Brooke Wycoff (injured all last year) ought to return.
Draft party report: Amber Jacobs likes Lynx fans, doesn't like back-to-back road games. Lynx fans like AJ. AJ likes coaching at Toledo, too: "Two dreams of mine have come true."
Atlantic Coast coaching carousel: Rice's Cristy McKinney heads for Clemson. "I want to win and I want to win big," she says; with "the facilities, the resources and the support I have here, I think we can do it."

McKinney once played for North Carolina State. "Growing up [around] ACC basketball, everybody here knows how big it is; they don't understand that in Texas," she adds. "I'm back home where everybody understands ACC basketball, and I'm really thrilled to be a part of it again." (If only everyone did know: this year's ACC-champion Tar Heels drew fewer than 2,500 fans per game-- still a big leap from just 516 at Rice.)

Miami has hired Charlotte's Katie Meier, the 2003 C-USA coach of the year, a onetime all-star (and an English major) at Duke.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Showing up on the WNBA transactions page but nowhere else just yet, Maria Conlon and Dena Williams have been signed by the Sun, the Liberty have re-signed Bethany Donaphin, and the Comets have resigned Tiffani Johnson and waived Anastasia Kostaki, who has a snazzy website. Also on the radar, but not confirmed on the transactions page yet, Buckeye Caity Matter is rumored to have signed with Charlotte (thanks to tipperbuckeye for the, er, tip).
After reading Nancy Lieberman's draft grades, I have to wonder if her refusal to engage in any real criticism (or give bad draft grades) has to do with her desire to return to coaching. If that is the case, it is really truncating any substantive analysis. It would also help if she realized the important free agent signings (e.g., Tari Phillips to Houston).
Draft grades: Voepel at least suggests that the Lib indeed blew it, agrees that K-Brax likely belongs in Detroit.

Lieberman gives almost all but New York good grades. Her take on Houston's draft (Dant can play point in the pros; center Lyttle will "fill in for" Swoopes) may surprise you: has she seen enough C-USA to know? (We sure haven't.)

Keegan approves of the Sun, the Merc and the Storm, with verdicts on 6 teams still to come.
New moms in the W (or in the draft) not named Braxton:

Le'Coe Willingham, a real inspiration (as is Joe Ciampi, her college coach).

In Charlotte, Jia Perkins. And Teana Miller. And Helen Darling (triplets).

SLT. (I have seen Ryann. She is, indeed, melt-your-heart cute.)

Taj, who "had a child at 17 and still finished college." Her second turned two this winter.

DC draft pick Erica Smith-Taylor, who went back to school, and back to NCAA play, soon after giving birth.

Still in college: Katie Robinette, who played for Nebraska, transferred to Iowa State, gave birth, then suited up as a Cyclone. (She's hoping for one more year of eligibility; her case remains on appeal.)

Pam Schmid's smart '04 story on pro moms focused on Swoopes, Darling, SLT and the always-articulate Taj, who suggested that the W could help out a bit more (by, for example, giving referrals for day care): "As the league grows and more women have kids, it's going to be a major issue."
After her failed tryout with last year's Sparks, Maria Conlon spent '04-05 as a grad assistant for Geno. This week she heads south a few miles to Sun training camp, where she'll compete with Derevjanik and Valek for the backup point-guard spots. Erika's faster, but Conlon still "has that great combination."
What's cool about the WNBA Draft? Certainly not WNBA.com's column, Five Cool Things About the Draft. Brad Friedman, targeting the young WNBA.com audience, fixes the 'cool' stamp on first round draft pick Kara Braxton and boyfriend Odell Thurman. They have a three-month old son. 'The big question WNBA teams had', Friedman writes, 'was whether or not she could shake off the rust of such a long layoff'.

We thought that the big question that WNBA teams had was whether or not Braxton will stick around this time. After all, she was suspended from Georgia basketball's program four times in two years. Braxton has previously wanted to rejoin her playing career and asked forgiveness. That being then and this being the pros, forgiveness need not be requisite when forgetfulness will suffice. Jaws dropped when, during the WNBA Draft telecast, Braxton was asked if mom status made her more mature than some of the other players.

'Braxton sat out her senior season in Athens while pregnant with her three-month old son', Friedman tells us, but the truth is that Braxton would have sat out the 2005 basketball season regardless. She sat out part of the 2002-03 season, 'on her way to an all-star season before missing the last eight games of the season due to suspension'. She sat out parts of the 2003-2004 season, too. Stacey Dales Schumann commented, 'Losing Kara Braxton, the best scorer on the team, to yet another suspension simply because she couldn't and wouldn't adhere to the rules, can ultimately be taxing to a team's psyche.'

Braxton would have sat out the 2005 with or without a baby. Her suspension was permanent. "By kicking her off the team," Ted wrote, "Landers has lost one of his best players and probably hurt his team's chances to go far in the tournament. But some things are more important than winning."

The WNBA.com article applies the 'cool' sticker to Odell Thurman, too. Thurman is Braxton's boyfriend, the Georgia linebacker who fathered the couple's child. According to the Friedman's article, Thurman expects to be a Day One pick in next week’s NFL Draft. Braxton is quoted as saying she's 'happy and excited' for NFL-destined Thurman, and Thurman is quoted as saying, 'We're still where we want to be today', in regard to their draft status.

The truth is that some NFL teams have downgraded Thurman just as some WNBA teams downgraded Braxton. His college record includes getting kicked off Georgia’s team as a freshman, a three-game suspension in 2004, and two alcohol-related incidents involving police. While on suspension, police were called to Thurman's university residence hall after a domestic dispute with Braxton. Three-month pregnant Braxton requested medical attention but when EMS arrived she refused EMS treatment. Thurman had a two-inch scratch on his neck. Police chief Jimmy Williamson said, "The young woman would have been arrested if they were cohabiting."

Which brings us to Mechelle Voepel. Hearing that Braxton had been asked during the draft telecast if being a mother made her more mature than other players, Voepel wrote 'You've got to be kidding. Look, let's be realistic. Having a child instead of playing your senior season is not a sign of 'maturity'. Braxton's tumultuous career at Georgia didn't suggest that trait, either. 'That said,' Voepel continued, 'let's hope for the best for this young woman. She's a mom now, and there are certainly top players in the WNBA who also are mothers and will tell you that did make a big difference in how they learned to accept responsibility.'

To Voepel, thumbs up for the common sense. To Kara Braxton and Odell Thurman, best of luck in your pro careers. To the WNBA, two thumbs down. One thumb down for sending the wrong message in its telecast in its leading question to Braxton. Another thumb down for the 'Five Cool Things.. ' article that capitalized on Braxton and Thurman, two gifted but troubled student athletes whose careers at the University of Georgia were anything but 'cool'.
Memo to Mystics: do not hire Brian Agler.
The East Valley Tribune does a nice job complementing the Arizona Republic providing local draft coverage for fans of the Phoenix Mercury. Following are some quotes from Matt Paulson's feature in today's edition.

"She’ll make us more athletic on the perimeter. She was under the radar playing at Illinois, but she’s one of the top two or three athletes in the draft."
--Phoenix general manager Seth Sulka on 2nd round pick Angelina Williams

"She is like a coach out there. I’m hoping she can teach me a lot of things and help me. I think we can be great combo, like Kobe and Shaq back in the day."
--Phoenix 1st round pick Sandora Irvin on Diana Taurasi

"She is an exceptional athlete, she’s versatile, she has great work ethic, and she comes from a pretty good gene pool. I think she has a tremendous upside. We are going to have to make some tough cuts at camp, the way our roster is now."
--Phoenix head coach Carrie Graf on Sandora Irvin
Coach Balcomb will almost certainly stay at Vandy, whose AD says he's "comfortable with Melanie being here for a long, long, long, long — four 'longs' — time."
It's been a week since Sharon Versyp resigned the head coaching job at Maine. Versyp left to take the head coaching job at 'basketball-crazed' Indiana, her native state. Has anyone bothered to call Maine native Cindy Blodgett about the coaching position vacated by Versyp at basketball-crazed Maine? Steve Solloway wants to know.
Shaq Attack: Though she’s ecstatic to be the top pick, Janel McCarville said, she’ll miss playing at Minnesota. “The last four years at Minnesota have been good to me,” McCarville said Friday. “It’s going to suck not playing here.”

But McCarville will be back. The Charlotte Sting play against the Minnesota Lynx at 7 p.m. June 4 at Target Center.

Speaking of McCarville, Sting head coach Trudi Lacey says, "She's a solid, strong, physical player. We needed the physicality that was something missing from our team last year. And she can score from inside and out."

Lacey described McCarville's personality as 'festive', but McCarville also has a self described 'fierceness' which she intends to bring to training camp.

The three-time All Big 10, two-time Kodak All-American, Wade and Wooden finalist nicknamed 'Shaq' says, "I'm just going to go out and play how I play and do what I do," she said, "and if I'm not starting, oh well, I'm still going to have an impact on the team."
Mystery solved: Strom reinjured her ankle at draft camp, which may explain why no one drafted her. Big Ten fans hope someone besides the Sun still seeks backup PGs; some ask how good Strom would look if her team had posts.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

19-year-old Australian PG Erin Phillips, Connecticut's second-round pick, "doesn't feel she is ready" to play over here, and may not make the move till '06. Injured third-rounder Megan Mahoney can't play this year either.

Erika Valek's chances to make the roster have just gone way up. At Purdue, Valek became a wonderful floor leader who closed her college career with a painful moment. Drafted and traded last year, then cut from the guard-heavy Mercury, Valek never played in a WNBA game.

"I always have had three point guards," T-Bone explains; "I think Lindsay's safe, but Jen [Derevjanik], Erika, and whoever else is signed is going to have to work hard to win a job."

(Partly via Keegan.)
More on recruiting: Babcock McGraw's new column suggests that all-hours text-messaging hasn't become the same sort of problem on the men's side because high school boys don't crave verbal reassurance (or, at least, high school girls crave it more).

The WBCA's Shannon Reynolds: “From what we’ve been able to gather, it seems that relationship-building is much more important on the women’s side... Kids will text message [coaches] at 2 a.m. and they feel that if they don’t respond, they’ll move on to the next coach who will."

Reynolds says the committee voted not to ban text messaging (and other instant e-communication) because smaller schools wanted to keep it: “Some of those coaches felt like that was their only way of being able to outwork other coaches for a recruit."

VT coach Beth Dunkenberger and others defend (at least some) nonschool tourneys and AAU. Recruiting-news maven Joe Smith: "Most high school coaches may have only one or two Division I prospects in a career... But a lot of AAU and travel teams have several prospects every year. The coaches are connected and they understand how to promote their players better than the typical high school coach."
More draft ink. The New London Day's DiMauro: "Someone should buy Washington officials a train ticket to Connecticut to see how sports franchises should operate." (DiMauro says Adams left because Washington refused to renegotiate his contract; given a raise, supposedly, Adams would have stayed.)

Sun fans should get used to bad puns about Dydek's height. Debbie Black says Dydek never liked playing for Utah/San Antonio; T-Bone says "Feenstra would have contributed, but Margo changes the game." SASS coach Hughes likes the trade: "We want people who want to be here."

Tennessee, UConn, Texas and Rutgers sent two players each into the draft. UConn's J-Mo says one of her "life [goals] is checked right off." (Shouldn't she wait till she actually makes a roster?)

Kara Braxton expects to see "family and friends" in Michigan, where she lived for a year during high school. Laimbeer says he "tried to trade up to get" Braxton, but adds "We're real disappointed we didn't get Kristin Haynie today... We're going to talk with [Sacramento] to see if we can work out some kind of deal where maybe we can bring Kristin home."

In L.A., new coach Bibby all but says "Draft? What draft? We have the Claw, and you don't."
Mel Greenberg, one of the all-time greats in reporting on our sport, now has his own blog. Cool beans.
Pacific coast coaching carousel: Richmond's Joanne Boyle to Cal-Berkeley, Duke assistant LaVonda Wagner to Oregon State.

Last week San Diego State, one of last year's worst teams, tapped Beth Burns. SDSU sought "somebody that really wanted to be at San Diego State," and she seems to fit that description. Burns coached the Aztecs from 1989-97, then left for Ohio State; she spent last year as an assistant at Stanford.
Queenie presents the all-time draft spreadsheet.

Reporters offer the fruits of press conferences. McCarville on becoming Charlotte's #1: "It was ridiculous how good I felt."

Tan White, #2: Indiana is "something I was hoping for."

Merc pick Irvin scores, blocks shots and has a famous uncle. If you've missed it so far, do read this March story about her hard life.

SASS pick Wecker expects to adjust to the small forward spot.

Mann: "Katie Smith... is going to take care of me" in Minnesota.

Washington's Hargrove calls Temeka Johnson "the consummate point guard," even though she's really short and won't often shoot threes. Johnson: "The size of my heart adds a couple of inches." She'll rejoin LSU teammate Aisha Smith.

Haynie says she can bring Sacramento a running game. Laimbeer:"We're a little disappointed we didn't get Haynie.... We'll have more talks to see if we can bring her back home ... but it's more difficult to get things done after the draft." Lynx fans: "Sure is."

Blaze says Moore "is the backup point guard to Becky Hammon." Lib fans say "Aaargh."

Voepel files her long and careful take on this year's top eight.
Who did well in yesterday's draft? One team that did a good job balancing pro potential and team need was the Seattle Storm. The returning champs selected players with the 12, 25, and 38 picks- Penn State's Tanisha Wright, Connecticuts' Ashley Battle, and Baylor's Steffanie Blackmon- who made most analysts' Top 25.

Wright dropped further than expected. Perhaps it was because Wright came up short in the tale of the tape. Wright was listed at 5-foot-11 but is actually 5-8. "We've watched Tanisha all year", Donovan said. We didn't talk about her a lot because we didn't think she'd be available. She's a great team player."

Saturday, April 16, 2005

At the newly redesigned, newly bright-blue Full Court, Clay Kallam says the Lib blew it, the Sun took the SASS to the cleaners, McCarville is "a solid pick that could turn out to be exceptional," and the rest of the draft "will have almost no impact on the standings this year."

Lieberman complains that McCarville in Charlotte "will really struggle to guard the big, legitimate 5s." No, she won't.

ESPN also thinks McCarville is 6'4". Nope. I thought it was a typo until I heard the 6'4" repeated on SportsCenter. Has McCarville gained 2" recently? Nope.
We got to watch the draft from the (calm, all-business) Lynx pressroom.

Mann "had a slight idea I was going to end up" in Minnesota. She'll rejoin UCSB teammate McDivitt, at least in training camp and for preseason games. Mann says she's "totally stoked" to play with McDivitt, who "is going nuts" herself. There's no guarantee McDivitt will make the Lynx roster: they need her in camp, though, since both starting PG Harrower and mystery backup guard Nuria Martinez are still playing overseas. Martinez has played exactly as many minutes in the WNBA as McDivitt and Mann have.

Batteast skipped draft camp in part because she wanted to graduate from Notre Dame this year: she will. Coach McConnell Serio: "it will be a battle in training camp."

More thoughts on the other teams' picks:

Given Detroit's returning frontline, BL can afford to roll the dice on Braxton. The Shock need a three-ball shooter: can Lingor do it? She (and her teammates) sure did in the WNIT.

Anne Donovan picked for defense.

The Lib needed a point guard, because Becky Hammon isn't one. But by drafting a post and a center second and third, they've pretty much put all their eggs in Loree Moore's basket. Pelton says there are still questions about her knee; as for assists and turnovers, she's no Erin Grant. (Also, it's Rebecca Richman, not Richmond, no matter what it says on ESPN.)

Whoever invited Blackmon to Secaucus ought to apologize, to her and maybe to Kim. Last year's Mazzante invite made sense-- lots of folks had her first-round. Almost no amateur predictions had Blackmon anywhere near the top 13. It hurt to watch her step up to the lectern at #38, though she handled it fine.

Sac needed a true point guard as short-term backup and long-term replacement for Ticha, and a consistent outside shooter not named Lawson. Haynie fills the first bill: will O'Neill fill the second?

Sun fans ask "Who's Erin Phillips?" An Opals fan answers. Connecticut didn't need anything except height and another backup for Whalen; Phillips has to serve as the latter, since Mahoney won't be ready to play. (UPDATE: oops-- I forgot about Valek, who will compete with Phillips and Derevjanik for the backup point spots.) Phillips and Sun signee Laura Summerton play together in Australia. With the trade for Large Marge done, Thibault thinks this is their year: it had better be, given the '06 draft pick they gave up.

Surprisingly undrafted: Strom; Matter; Koehn; Roehrig, though that may not surprise you after the tournament; Illinois' Guthrie; GWU's Montañana; Iowa's Cavey, who fell off everyone's radar this year; Temple's Moore; Stanford's Suminski, and maybe King Borchardt as well.
So shocked was the audience when the new WNBA commissioner announced UT guard Loree Moore as the NY Liberty's first round pick that a hush fell over the room. A seemingly off-balance Donna Orender quipped, 'You can clap now.'

The biggest laugh of the first round came after Houston center Sancho Lyttle was selected by the Houston Comets. The Comets need just about everything but a center. So, Van Chancellor was asked if a player's local ties make a difference. His response, 'Oh, never', was greeted with giggles which the off-camera team of Pam Ward, Rebecca Lobo, and Annie Meyers suppressed just in time to hear VC continue, 'We're like Jimmie Johnson.'

Tackiest question of the first round was one posed by the usually smooth Kara Lawson to 1st round pick Janel McCarville. 'Are you going to pay someone to cut your hair now?' Here's hoping that Lawson doesn't write her own material.

Most excited family member of the first round was Sandora Irvin's uncle. Former NFL All Star and future Hall of Famer Michael Irvin, who is a huge Diana Taurasi fan, joined the telecast via live telecam from Phoenix.
The WNBA First Round is in the records. If you are scoring-

1. Charlotte, Janel McCarville, F.
2. Indiana, Tan White, G.
3. Phoenix, Sandora Irvin, F-C.
4. San Antonio, Kendra Wecker, F.
5. Houston, Sancho Lyttle, C.
6. Washington, Temeka Johnson, PG.
7. Detroit Shock, Kara Braxton, C.
8. Connecticut, Katie Feenstra, C.
9. Sacramento, Kristen Haynie, PG.
10. New Yorkm Loree Moore, G.
11. Minnesota, Kristen Mann, F.
12. Seattle, Tanisha Wright, G.
13. Detroit, Dionnah Jackson, G.

Two big surprises. First, Van Chancellor (VC) took center Sancho Lyttle from the University of Houston, rather than shore up the Comet's depleted rank at guard. Even though VC had scouted Lyttle early on, it was a surprise because the Comets return Michelle Snow and signed New York free agent Tari Phillips.

Trades cannot be announced until after the draft's three rounds have been completed. Did Van Chancellor draft Sancho Lyttle with the intent of trading her, perhaps to the Detroit Shock who picked two spots later? Detroit's coach Bill Laimbeer was said to be so keen on Lyttle that he considered moving up to be sure he got her.

When it came the Shock's turn to pick and Lyttle had been chosen, Laimbeer moved on to the next best center prospect on the board, Kara Braxton. Which brings us to surprise no. 2. If VC was looking to trade Lyttle and a proposed deal to Detroit fell through, did he then entertain trade offers from the New York Liberty? It might fit the scenario if he did, because at no.10 when NY had Dionnah Jackson, Roneeka Hodges and Tanisha Wright on the board, it inexplicably selected UT guard Loree Moore. Moore, projected by many as a second round pick, is a player that VC is said to have been high on since last year.
The head coach and director of player personnel of the WNBA World Champion Seattle Storm, Anne Donovan, talks about rebuilding. Donovan also talks about Kristen Haynie, the MSU point guard whose stock rose with her team's then fell in pre-draft camp last weekend.

"Every game she raised her stock to me. She's such a great floor leader and system player. But that's the kind of kid that gets to .. camp and doesn't really show well because it's an All-Star-type of situation and she's a system player. But coaches gotta do their homework. If you're relying just on the predraft camp, then Haynie is not even on the radar screen."
The hoopla and pizzazz are gone, writes Jim Gintonio for the Arizona Republic, but teams have a good chance of getting at least one player who can make an impact. One such player is 6'6 center Kara Braxton, the hit of pre-draft camp. Indications are that Braxton will be available when the Mercury look to pick. She would join newly acquired Kamila Vodichkova, giving the team size upfront.

Lieberman sees Braxton as a good choice. "Braxton was the talk of the combine. If it holds true to form, she can be an all-star in a couple of years."
From DTS, a handy mock-draft spreadsheet.
The Orange County Register reports that there is no consensus on the no.1 pick. It asked analyst Ann Meyers Drysdale and she said, "I don't think having the No.1 pick is as important as it was last year, because there's no clear-cut No.1 pick. You can talk to one coach and they'll say 'We love McCarville' and another has her at seven."
In Minnesota, the Strib's Pam Schmid, who sat out the college hoops season, will return to cover the WNBA. This morning, she says Lynx fans are reasonable people, especially compared to last year. The Lynx don't necessarily need a starter, "have more than a dozen different scenarios" for their 11th and 17th picks, "and even then could still wind up surprised." Schmid's mock draft (apparently a print-edition exclusive) sends the Fantastic Four to the usual places, Haynie to Minnesota, and Braxton to Connnecticut.

In Kansas, Wecker says "everybody in the league" would want to play in Phoenix with DT.
Analyst Debbie Antonelli tells the Indy Star, "I think Indiana would love to strengthen its backcourt. Tan White plays both ends of the floor. She's a defender and a scorer. And you have to be able to create your own shot in the WNBA, and she can. I can see Tan White and Tamika Catchings running together on the wings."
San Antonio coach Dan Hughes is not dismissing speculation that today's draft will see the Stars make a trade, perhaps one involving Connecticut and the Star's Margo Dydek. And according to the Express-News' Jennifer Bellis, the Stars are not alone. The Houston Comets are reportedly shopping around two-time league MVP Sheryl Swoopes.

Fueled by the opportunity to move his struggling team forward using today's draft, Hughes has adopted a 'shop till you drop' approach. "I work until I can't stay awake anymore."
Countdown: Its here! Commissioner Donna Orender will kick off festivities at 12:00 Eastern Time on ESPN. Grab a glass of your favorite beverage and your keyboard. Let the real drafting begin!

All-American Temeka Johnson has no idea where she will be selected but is expected to be a high pick. The LSU point guard will be joined in draft studios by her coach Pokey Chatman, her parents, and her grandmother. Teams that have expressed interest include San Antonio, Houston, Washington, Detroit, and Sacramento.

On the issue of size, Coach Chatman weighs in. "It may be a big girl's league in terms of who gets the publicity, but I think the point guard play has to fuel the engine.. It's funny because people say she's small. Dawn Staley's 5-4 and Becky Hammon's 5-6. I don't even entertain that and a lot of people don't go that route with me. I'm sick of the size card."

Friday, April 15, 2005

Just in time, Pelton on centers and power forwards. Feenstra "apparently impressed" folks at Draft Camp; Janel (at 6'2") counts here as a power forward.
Mystics Mayhem indeed: 'Stics lose coach Adams, pick up Iciss Tillis from Detroit.

Adams becomes a men's hoops assistant at Maryland. Mystics fans become fed up, ask GM Hargrove: "Besides Alana, where will we look for scoring?"

Hargrove, who used to coach the Portland Fire, could appoint herself to the Mystics vacancy, or hire someone else fast. Whoever she picks will become the franchise's eighth head coach in eight years.
Borseth stays put, apparently for family reasons: he says he expects to spend "the rest of my career" with the 'Nix. Results: confusion in Colorado; delight in Green Bay. CU's brand-new AD can now participate in the search.

“Honestly, I’ve told my roommates this whole week that deep in my heart I don’t believe that he can go and leave us,” UWGB junior Marty Dixon says. Sophomore Amanda Popp: "I guess he likes it here."
Countdown: The 2005 WNBA Draft is tomorrow!

Women's Hoops Blog Mock Draft

1. Charlotte Sting. Janel McCarville, center, Minnesota.

'You can’t have enough players who can score in the paint. Offensive output is always a concern for us, and I like players with a variety of offensive skills. I’d hone in on that." -Sting head coach Trudi Lacey

2. Indiana Fever. Mississipi State guard Tan White.

The Fever go for the best overall athlete on the board, adding another versatile scorer to complement superstar Tamika Catchings.

3. Phoenix Mercury. Sandora Irvin, forward, Texas Christian.

"You know who I really like? Sandora Irvin down at TCU. She is a very good post player." - Diana Taurasi

4. San Antonio Stars. Kansas State forward Kendra Wecker.

Coach Dan Hughes says, “I think we need perimeter shooting and depth in the post. But I think if you look on the board and there's a player you like that for some reason slipped by the first three, you take her. We don't have the depth. We better take the best player we can get.”

5. Houston Comets. LSU guard Temeka Johnson.

"If they drafted a point guard, that would be a great, great way to start rebuilding and I think she'd fit perfectly." -Nancy Lieberman

6. Washington Mystics. Dionnah Jackson, guard, Oklahoma.

'With good size for a point guard at 5-9, Jackson isn't afraid to play in the paint, averaging 8.5 rebounds per game as a senior. That ranked her seventh in the Big 12 and would be a fine total for a forward, let alone a point guard. Jackson averaged at least five assists per game all three seasons as a starter and has more than enough playmaking ability to play the point, while she's a highly-regarded defender who averaged more than two steals per game.'

7. Detroit Shock. Sancho Lyttle, center, Houston.

'Just four years ago, Sancho Lyttle had never played a game of organized basketball. Growing up in St. Vincent, British West Indies, she just was not into the game. "One of my coaches at home tried to open a women's tournament. He had a friend up here and needed some tall players, so I came. I had no skills then," she said. Four years later, she led the country in rebounding.' Sancho's new tutor will be Detroit's newly hired assistant coach, Rick Mahorn.

8. Connecticut Sun. Kara Braxton, center, Georgia.

'You can't ignore a 6-6 post with good hands and agility who put up 16 points and seven boards in her first taste of SEC competition. Would be a perfect fit in Connecticut's up-tempo attack'. Its been reported that Connecticut might be drafting from this slot for San Antonio. If so, look for SA coach Dan Hughes to be smiling all next week after bagging the rights to both Wecker and Braxton.

9. Sacramento Monarchs. Katie Feenstra, center, Liberty.

With the strength of this draft's 1st round in its post players and with every day a different trade rumor involving Monarch's center Yolanda Griffith, the Ms will be tempted to go big. Feenstra reportedly showed well at the WNBA's pre-draft camp last weekend.

10. New York Liberty. Tanisha Wright, guard, Penn State.

'Probably the least talked about lock for the first round, just as she was the least talked about star in the Big Ten. Wright earned first-team all-conference honors by doing the little things in Kelly Mazzante's shadow as a junior and then repeated that honor as Penn State's focal point as a senior.'

11. Minnesota Lynx. Kristen Haynie, guard, Michigan State.

'Haynie might have solidified a place in the first round with her play in leading Michigan State to a second-place finish in the NCAA Tournament. She was just the fourth leading scorer on the Spartans this season but showed an ability to get to the basket and finish, as well as hit from outside, in the crucible of tourney play. All of which suggests she's the ultimate point guard, in the mold of Jason Kidd, willing to defer to teammates unless absolutely necessary.'

12. Seattle Storm. Shyra Ely, forward, Tennessee.

'At 6-2, Ely will have to play on the perimeter in the WNBA, though she will have the opportunity to use her post skills against some smaller opponents. Given time, Ely should be able to adapt and thrive as a professional.' -Kevin Pelton.

13. Washington Mystics. Jacqueline Batteast, forward, Notre Dame.

'The totality of her résumé, not to mention her ideal size and quickness, are imposing. Batteast simply looks like a basketball player, with her deceptively long reach fueling both steals and blocks in a defensive game that could blossom under the right coach.'
Voepel explains what the NCAA's management council has voted to do.

Coach evaluations at nonschool events during the school year: not banned, but restricted to two events per year. Smaller conferences complained that an absolute ban would make it harder for them (with their smaller travel budgets) to view the players they want.

Text messaging: not banned.

The Geno & Pat rule "did pass — but by such a narrow margin that it may not be approved by the board of directors," which meets next week.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Voepel, Hays and ESPN coordinator Melanie Jackson mock the draft. Voepel breaks up the Fantastic Four by sending the 6'6" Kara Braxton to Phoenix; Jackson sends Batteast to the Silver Stars. Two out of three agree on ten of thirteen picks; all three send Janel to Charlotte, a center to Connecticut, and a point guard to the Lynx. Meanwhile, Pelton rates the 3s.
The Times picks up the Merry Stephens story. Stephens is the Texas high school coach who seems to have been fired for being gay. This time, someone was there on defense.

"They'd test me to try to figure out if I was a lesbian or not," she says. "They'd ask if I had a boyfriend or if I wanted one. I lied because I knew it would be career suicide to admit anything."

"It was bogus and very obvious that the board had a specific plan to get rid of her because she was a lesbian," a colleague adds.

Attorney Lena Ayoub: "The Bloomburg school board thought they could get away with destroying her career without anyone knowing what they had done. They were wrong."

Stephens has reached a settlement with the school district, but will not return as the Lady Wildcats' coach.
Shaq chat. On the tan DT wants Janel to get in Phoenix: "I look good with the skin color I have."

On becoming an undersized post in the W: "I will do my best." (Why not "I can also play the 4"?)

On music: "A lot of rap... But for games, it's anything fast with a good beat."

On The Pick: "It's not meant to be a dirty play, at all. It's basically an opportunity to free up our point guards.... I had the chance to let her know that someone was there on defense and she can't be up in our point guard's shorts."

On her secret other nickname: "Juan."

More Shaq talk in Friday's Strib.
This K-State student columnist probably isn't a regular male practice player.
Countdown, continued:

Kristi talks to Australians about her return to the Lynx. "They have said they would like me to start at the point," she says, "but it's up to me to keep that position."

Loree Moore tells the dot-com that she enjoys "physical play," "though I could not get away with it too much in college."

The dot-com also offers a deluge of praise for the consensus Fantastic Four.

The Lynx tell fans they're not going to get McCarville; Ohlde says she would hope that the Lynx could get Wecker "if we didn't have the stinking 11th pick. But I guess that goes with making the playoffs last year."

Koehn just wants to play. (So does Haynie, who will certainly get the chance.)
Coaching carousel:

Surprising everyone, CU will not hire Kevin Borseth, who has decided to stay at Green Bay.

Clemson will not hire Carey Green, who will stay at Liberty instead. Lady Vols assistant Holly Warlick says she doesn't want the Clemson job either.

Stephany Smith says she'll love it at Alabama. The former MTSU coach, who also loves the triangle offense, promises Tide fans, ""You will get every piece of Stephany Smith that I have to give."

Over in the A-10, no news about Boyle or Staley, whose much-lauded community work gives her reasons to stay in Philly.
Countdown: Two more days until commissioner Donna Orender starts the timer on the Charlotte Sting's no.1 overall selection, and Matt Wurst writes Ten Things You May Not Know About the WNBA Draft.

In today's draft-related article from the Detroit News, writer David Goricki says that one of the players the Shock are considering is Michigan State's Kristen Haynie. Some consider Haynie to be the second-best point guard in the draft, behind Temeka Johnson of Louisiana State. But Houston Comets personnel man Tom Cross says that there are 4 point guards who are first round candidates and their selection order could flip flop depending on who is doing the picking.

"We have [Haynie] going anywhere from No. 10 to No. 20, but probably closer to No. 10. She's one of four point guards who can go No. 1 or No. 4 depending on the team. Johnson's very quick, but she's only 5-foot-2. Dionnah Jackson's a combo guard who has a long wingspan. Jamie Carey of Texas is also in that mix with Haynie."

Detroit is said to be looking at both Johnson and Haynie to bolster its guard rotation. It is also said to be considering Sancho Lyttle, Kara Braxton, and Jackie Batteast. Nancy Lieberman weighs in. "My thought is it would be a boon for Haynie to go to Detroit, to be quite honest. But I think Bill Laimbeer is interested in Sancho Lyttle, who can play a variety of positions. He could even trade up for her. As for Haynie, I think she's played amazingly well and I think she would help any team."

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Washington Mystics have signed free agent forward Charlotte Smith-Taylor, who played the last six seasons with the Charlotte Sting. Contract terms were not disclosed. Last season, Smith-Taylor started every game for the Sting, recorded career highs in several statistical categories, and led the league in 3-point shooting %. The Mystics also signed Cathy Joens to a training camp contract. Joens was a 2004 draft 3rd-round pick of the New York Liberty.
Looks like the WBCA's proposed changes to recruiting rules will happen.

The Management Council approved "most" WBCA proposals, among them a controversial rule that bars college recruiters from nonschool events, such as AAU tournaments, during most (not all) of the school year. No word yet on the fate of the proposal to kick Geno off TV.

Nothing's final till the NCAA Board of Directors votes next week.
More on Debbie Black...

I interviewed Black for Full Court Press back in January 2003. She is just as energetic off the court as on it.

People overuse the phrase, but she was one of a kind. At 5-3, she is the only woman in the history of professional basketball to have a quadruple double in a game. She was in peak physical condition and was one of the most tenacious defenders. Even at 38 years old, she was never a defensive liability on the court, because of her on-court savvy. Black forced more jump balls, getting more possessions for her team than anyone in the league this side of Kayte Christensen.

In 2002, at 36 years old, she lead the WNBA in assist-to-turnover ratio, putting up 4.3 assists per game to only one turnover. That same year, she also averaged 4 rebounds per game...again, at 5-3!

Last year, she mentored Lindsey Whalen on and off the court, and was an integral part in her development throughout the season. It is shocking she is not on the Connecticut Sun staff...of course, the Ohio State job pays quite a bit more.

Black was also a player opposing teams loved to hate. She was an ABL original and commented the ABL was really developed for women's players, not on the coattails of men. She was one of the few American players to play in the WNBL, and she maintain dual citizenship with Australia.

Debbie Black is a true legend.
Detroit coach Bill Laimbeer announced today that the Shock have acquired the rights to the Indiana Fever's Niele Ivey. Ivey holds career averages of 3.5 points, 1.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 18.8 minutes in 105 games, 71 as a starter. The Shock signed the restricted free agent to an offer sheet that her former team chose not to match. Coach Laimbeer signed Ivey to bolster his guard rotation by adding experience, steadiness, and 3-point shooting.
Debbie Black announced today that she will retire from playing in the WNBA, reports SportsPageMagazine. “It’s been an unbelievable ride, and I couldn’t ask for anything more than to do something I love for 17 years,” Black said. “But a great opportunity has come my way, and I can’t pass it up."

Black will join her former college coach, Jim Foster, on the staff of the Ohio State women’s basketball team.
In three (so far) linked articles, UCLA's student paper investigates homophobia in college sports.

For women athletes, UCLA sounds, if not perfect on such matters, then pretty good: "Every girl I know that's a lesbian out on a team has had no issues," one straight Bruin player says. Coach Olivier says she'll address sexuality only if players come to her with a problem, which has happened exactly once.

Do some coaches spread malicious gossip about their competitors' sexual orientations in order to gain an edge with potential recruits, or with those recruits' phobic parents? Coach Olivier says they do: "I've heard that it has happened... If some coaches think that's going to make them look better in a recruit's eyes, I think they'll do anything they can, and I don't think that's a good place to be."