Women's Hoops Blog: May 2005

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Kristin Haynie chats with Steph Bowen about soccer, calories, her ankle, and her jump from the Final Four to the pros.
Men, women, games, competitiveness, and evolution: a conservative New York Times columnist has an opinion. An eminent liberal blogger, um, er, disagrees.
Good news: the WNBA announces more free streaming broadband video for waaaaaay more reg-season games. Last week the league promised 18: now it's 65.

Or 62, if you don't count three games added to the list only after they had taken place. Hey, nobody's perfect. (The page also has a "time/archive" column, so perhaps archived webcasts are coming soon.)
Minnneapolis native and Badger star Tamara Moore heads for the Lib, who really need a(nother) point guard.

If Moore makes it onto the hardwood, she'll apparently become the third WNBA player (after Sheri and Olympia Scott-Richardson) to play for five teams. (Or the second: OSR, still injured, has yet to play.)
Eric McErlain hopes you'll support women's rugby.
Mel Greenberg opines on Taurasi, Whalen, evolving Connecticut fans, and mismanaged trains, and asks why he's been sent to cover a horse show.
Sparks play their home opener tonight, and seven of their next eight games at home. Coach Bibby says: "I am no different than any other coach. I jump up and scream and yell at the players." Holdsclaw says she's already led the league in scoring and rebounding; now she just wants a ring.

Ask the L.A. Times for more feature stories on their home team, or ask why they have none today. (You might also praise their Sparks beat reporter, Mike Terry.)
Coach, trainer and Full Court Press writer Brian McCormick now has a blog. McCormick specializes in the technique-oriented commentary we wish we could hear, and don't hear enough, on TV: his blog so far draws examples from the men's game, but that may change as the W season goes on.

At Full Court (but behind their subscription wall), McCormick argues that today's W looks too much like the defense-first NBA of the 1990s, not enough like the NBA of Ginobili and Nash: "the WNBA... is the most physical league, male or female, in the United States."

Also behind their subscription wall, Clay Kallam has Western Conference predictions, starting with another train wreck for the Silver Stars. Coach Dan Hughes says if the SASS don't improve their defense, that prediction might come true.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Jen Derevjanik is back and better than ever.

Last year Sun fans cheered against her (they wanted Black); right now she comes in for Whalen and gives the Sun-- dare I say it?-- more consistent perimeter defense than Lindsay, as great as she is on offense, can. (If you watched Saturday's Phoenix game, you saw the Mercury pass the ball around the perimeter repeatedly trying to find whomever Lindsay was guarding, and then saw that player-- usually DeForge-- take the shot.)

(Via Stever.)
The Courant's Mike Anthony picks up the late-arrivals story.

Donna Orender says Val Ackerman can help: how? Val's new job at USA Basketball gives her a hotline to FIBA, who have some pull with overseas leagues. ""We're trying to create a cleaner start to the season and will definitely call on Val to help with that linkage," the new commish explains.
In Houston, the Comets came back from 18 down-- twice-- to beat Indiana in double-overtime madness. Swoopes scored 31, with 12 in the second OT.

"I was so frustrated with myself at the end of regulation," Swoopes recalled. "I missed three free throws that would have put us ahead, and we would have never gone into overtime." The Candyman called it "a real character building-game... We were in complete disarray, we went to a 2-3 zone and we clawed back."
Last night Storm fans saw the year's first blowout. Seattle scored the first 15 points, then stretched their lead to 30 near the end of the second half as coach Donovan used the end of her bench. Final score: Storm 79, SASS 51.

Donovan praised everyone, but especially Lennox, and especially her defense on Ferdinand. LJ's return to the 4 spot probably helped. "I played in the post last game and this game," she says. "To be able to play inside and be strong and get back to my regular game, it feels good."

Pelton liveblogged the victory. Every team should find someone like him. Several teams almost certainly could.
The Lynx dropped a close one to Sacramento yesterday before a sparse crowd. "They don't get any more heartbreaking, " coach McConnell Serio said.

A Yo Griffith layup gave the Monarchs a one-point lead with 25 seconds to go. Katie turned the ball over, but Nicole Powell missed two free throws. Ohlde then made a layup out of a Lynx set as the buzzer sounded. Initially the basket counted; fans thought Minnesota had won. Bryan Enterline reviewed the tape and decided otherwise: Monarchs 67, Lynx 66. Ticha: "To me it looked good.... We got away with one."

The Monarchs took the lead with a 17-0 run near the end of the first half. Minnesota outrebounded the Monarchs, but Sacramento scored far more in the paint-- the Lynx relied on perimeter shooters; Katie had 23, Yo 18, Walker 15, Stacey Lovelace 10.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Good news for the Phoenix Mercury...

Penny Taylor arrived in Phoenix yesterday, but not in time to make it to Connecticut for the game against the Sun. She will play against Seattle on Thursday.

Kamila Vodichkova is expected to arrive in Phoenix on Wednesday and should be available for Thursday's game.
Diana Taurasi came 'home' last night to a sellout crowd on the Reservation, but it was Taj McWilliams-Franklin drawing the hosannas with 25 points and nine rebounds in the Sun's 85-68 win over Phoenix. Nykesha Sales added 21 points. Katie Douglas chipped in 11 points and Lindsay Whalen had six assists. The Sun have won 5 of 7 games.

For the Mercury, Anna DeForge led with 20 points and a career-high nine assists, and Taurasi contributed 19 points. They didn't receive much help. The team held a closed-door meeting in the locker room after the game. The Mercury are a team missing starters Penny Taylor and Kamila Vodichkova, who are completing seasons in Europe. Taylor is expected to play Thursday when the Mercury host Seattle at America West Arena.

WNBA president Donna Orender was at the Mohegan Sun Arena to kick off All-Star game balloting, and talked to the Waterbury Republican-American about Taurasi. "She is one of those rare athletes who not only back up who she is with a phenomenal game, but she is this outstanding personality that people just adore. Not only does she speak volumes for women's basketball in the WNBA, but I think she speaks volumes for sport in general. She is like a Tiger Woods. She is like a Michael Jordan. She transcends. We have to get behind her and get her out there in a bigger way."

In other game action, the Sting upset the Sparks 84-75 behind Sheri Sam's 24 points and a sharp performance behind Dawn Staley. The Sting forced 20 turnovers, converting them into 22 points. Staley contributed 12 points and 10 rebounds in 34 minutes of mistake-free ball. It was Dawn's fourth career double-double. For the Sparks, Chamique Holdsclaw recorded her fourth consecutive double-double, scoring 26 points and 11 rebounds two days after reaching the 3,000 point milestone. Lisa Leslie added 16 points and nine rebounds, and Tamika Whitmore had 14 points.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

The WNBA made headlines when it scored an 'A' on its Racial and Gender Report Card issued by UCF's Institute for Diversity and Ethics. The grade earned the league the distinction of being professional sports' leader in gender and racial diversity.

The league made headlines again when Sheila Johnson, co-founder of Black Entertainment TV, became part owner of the group that purchased the Washington Mystics. Johnson, who holds a 5- 10 percent stake in Lincoln Holdings LLC, will hold the Mystics titles team president and managing partner, and represent the team at board of governors meetings. The WNBA's website leads the story with a picture of Johnson being welcomed by President Donna Orender and NBA commissioner David Stern under a headline that reads, 'History in Washington'.

Greg Wyshynski of SportsFan Magazine is not impressed. In his editorial titled 'The Jester’s Quart: WNBA Action? Affirmative' , Wyshynski writes 'Sheila Johnson is as qualified as anyone to join the Millionaires Social Club that is professional sports ownership. But it’s absolutely laughable that her taking over the Mystics is seen as some sort of historical benchmark for minorities in sports...

'Coaches and players can cry racism and sexism because their jobs are in the hands of people who might dick them over because of their race or their sex. But owners? Are you telling me that if a black woman knocked on Gary Bettman’s door and offered $100 million for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, he’d turn her down..? Are you telling me that if Oprah wanted to buy the Chicago Bears, the NFL is telling her to go read a book instead? Money talks, and these leagues are willing to listen to anyone that has it.'

'Was there ever an outcry that the WNBA’s ownership simply wasn’t diverse enough?' he continues. 'I don’t recall that crisis ever rising to the level of, say, having one (female) African-American head coach in a 14-team women’s basketball league. But then again, that doesn’t appear to be a crisis either.'

Sound familiar? Not too long ago Kevin Brown set the table for Wyshynski in a Full Court Press story called 'Is Race a Factor for WNBA coaches?' 'As it stands now', Brown concluded, 'the WNBA's track record on the hiring and retention of black coaches is bordering on the unacceptable. It will be better if the league can make some subtle changes now rather than having to make drastic ones later.'
Babcock McGraw, sharp as always, covers Dave Cowens, Doug Bruno, Jenni Dant, and the power of daughters.
The Sun have fun getting ready for their nationally-televised home opener. Will Douglas guard Diana this time? "I can't give away our secrets," she responds.

Jamie Carey says she's learning from Lindsay, which is a neat role reversal. Thibault says Wycoff is back in form; as for Margo, “This is the first team that she's played on that's had this many plays. Her head is spinning a little bit....The reason she's slowing us down is that there's so much stuff in her brain right now trying to catch up."
The Silver Stars nearly picked up their first win last night, scoring 12 points in the last 35 seconds, but Sac dominated the paint, made late free throws, and came away with the victory. "We just need to stop people, and we're not doing that," says Pee Wee.

Yo pulled down yet another double-double. Feenstra started but played just 8 minutes and didn't score. Lawson (ankle) did not play, but may return Sunday at Minnesota.
The Comets entered the break ahead by 14, but couldn't keep up with the Storm's monster second half, in which Seattle used 75% shooting to beat Houston going away. It's the Storm's first home win.

Lennox scored 24. LJ scored 17. Brazilian addition Iziane Castro Marques, getting her first start, limited Swoopes to 16. "That was fun," Anne Donovan remarked.

Pelton now liveblogs Storm games. (Other franchises, take note.)

Last night also saw the debut of free broadband video webcasts, which the W offers for (at least) 17 more games this season, at least some of which aren't on TV; to get 'em, follow these simple instructions. The next full-game webcast takes place June 1. Board Junkies say it works just fine if you use a decent connection and IE; Safari seems to work too, but Firefox may not.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Golden Gopher Liz Podominick reveals her secret identity as a star of track and field: she's now won Big Ten individual titles in both discus and shot put, and will go on to national meets.

Podominick chose the Gophers in part because Minnesota wanted her both for hoops and for track and field; she plans to devote 2007-08 to track and field events alone, and hopes to make the '08 Olympics.
While his team was beating the Liberty last week, Bill Laimbeer was interviewing with the Knicks. BL has said he won't leave Detroit until his daughter graduates from high school: she'll start college, and play ball, at Syracuse this fall.
The Storm take on Houston tonight. Coach Donovan and her players defend LJ. “I’m going to stick up for her right now because people are getting on her for being tired and all of this stuff,” Sue Bird says. “When you change your spot – she’s good at the banging, she doesn’t get tired doing that – but we have her running around like a crazy person. So it’s a different kind of tired.”

Van gives his take on Seattle's televised debacle: "I don't think they were ready for the zone. But I think they'll be ready for a zone this week."
Just four teams have won at home this season. None of them won last night.

In DC, the Mystics hit a league-record fifteen three-pointers, five from Koehn, and one from Chas Melvin (!), but got smoked by Holdsclaw. "With the new rules and the way they're not letting defenders put their hands on you when you drive, I felt that they couldn't stop me," said the Claw, who finished with 27. The Sparks attempted 33 free throws, the Mystics just 12.

The Merc put their marksmanship to better use against defenseless Charlotte: at one point Phoenix led by 21. Anna DeForge made four of five from three. "We just got really good looks in the first half," AD explained. "With the weapons we have on the outside, that's what we want."

In MSG, a disappointing-- and disappointed-- crowd of 7,897 saw the Liberty fall to Indiana. C-Rob shot well (4-6 from three) but so did Kelly Miller, who led all scorers with 19. "That's the second time in a row we got outrebounded," coach Coyle fumed. "Go get the ball."

In other bad Lib news, Ann Wauters twisted her ankle (but returned to the game). And L-Mo, who has a history of knee problems, just had more knee surgery: she'll be out 4, 6, or 8 weeks, depending on which report you believe.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Flashback: Moments after a humiliating loss to Liberty University in the NCAA Tournament, Penn State guard Jennifer Harris was the only Lady Lion player to speak in a seemingly shellshocked Penn State lockerroom. Harris nodded in the direction of the graduating seniors. "This will be the last memory of their Penn State careers. They deserve better than this."

"Where do we go from here?" head coach Rene Portland was asked. "We just reload." Within moments, Portland would unload three underclassmen in a witching-hour, hotel lobby massacre that left program observers scratching their heads. The players dismissed included PSU's leading returning scorer (Harris), its best defensive player (Amber Bland) and a backup point guard (Lisa Etienne).

Update: Jennifer Harris is taking her high powered game to James Madison University, but Amber Bland is having problems securing her release from PSU.

What are PSU alumni and fans saying about Bland? According to this Penn Live forum post from 5/26/05, Bland wants her release, but Portland will not grant it without a phone call from the father. "When the coach did her war dance in that Bethesda Hotel," says the poster, "(Portland) told Amber her scholorship (sic) would not be issued for next year." The poster goes on to say, " The beginning of the end, actually started way back in late January, following a team meeting, where the team, player for player stood shoulder to shoulder with the accused relating to false statements made by the coach toward the accused. Furthermore, the coach wanted this player to request a medical leave, when she was perfectly healthy.."

As the Happy Valley turns.. stay tuned.
Chicago's WNBA team has a coach: it's former Boston Celtics center, Hall-of-Famer, and ex-Celtics, Hornets and Warriors coach Dave Cowens. Now all they need is a name.

DePaul coach Doug Bruno will serve the team as a consultant (without giving up his Blue Demons job). 25 years ago, Bruno coached the WBL's Chicago Hustle; eight years ago, he spoke on Australian radio about the WBL, the ABL and the WNBA .
Tonight the Claw returns to the Phone Booth. New 'Stics owner Sheila Johnson will address the crowd.

Ex-Spark Milton-Jones will probably start. D-Nasty explains why she left LA: "When you come home and you are still angry because of work, you need to make a change." She also says she'd been trying to leave for three years.
Seattle columnist John Levesque instructs LJ to get back in shape, compares her to hammerthrow blogger Martin Bingisser.
UConn fans may remember that Geno and men's hoops coach Calhoun carry lucrative contracts with Nike and other companies, and that these contracts may or may not violate state ethics rules. The Nutmeg State ethics commission is still looking into it.

Now Geno (and Calhoun) say (through their agents) that if the commission bans their endorsement deals, they just might leave. Another sports agent claims that such a move would make Connecticut the only state in the nation to ban such contracts: is he right?
Add the Lynx to the list of teams with home victories: Minnesota blew an 18-point lead, shot 38%, turned the ball over 21 times, got outrebounded, took 21 three-point shots and made 8... and still beat LA.

Katie Smith's pair of threes in the closing minutes put the Lynx up 64-61, but two LA baskets against two made Smith free throws cut the lead to one with 10 seconds left. Katie (who played 38 minutes) then missed two freebies, which doesn't exactly happen every day; Jacobs and Abrosimova clogged up a Sparks play, Svet came up with the ball (on her back, yet), and the Russian forward made her free throws to create a 68-65 win.

LA's terrible shooting (under 30% for the first half) put the Lynx in control. Then the Sparks switched to zone defense, and Lynx scoring went AWOL: LA took their only lead late in the game.

Each team tried to take out the other's posts. Both got points instead from drives (Svet; Dixon) and jump shooters (Smith, with 24; Hodges; Holdsclaw). Drive, Svet, drive: don't take those threes; and stop travelling (5 TOs)!

Harrower started, but Jacobs finished: she still has trouble with half-court traps, but she looked good (4 steals, 3 assists, no TOs). Suzie appears to have figured out that Lovelace is not a center, but a tall wing, and that she's more effective on offense than Lassiter (DNP). Teasley did not play in the second half: is she ill?

"My dad is going to be mad at me," Smith said of her late-game misses: "He thinks I should make them all."
Janel McCarville owns one pinstripe suit, six tattoos, and an "uninhibited" sense of humor. "We need her to get a kind of a mean streak," Dawn Staley says. "Let's have fun, but between the lines you need to dominate. You can't be everybody's friend."

Gopher fans have followed McCarville's mom in her fight against cancer, which has now turned up in her liver. Bonnie McCarville will begin a new round of chemotherapy later this year. First, though, she's heading to Charlotte to see Janel play, calling it a "chemo holiday."

(Via stever.)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

In an earlier post, Jessie and Steve discussed Fired Ferne.

Labati is alleging alleging age (ADEA) and sex discrimination (Title VII). These laws are enforced with the EEOC and require filing a charge with EEOC before a private lawsuit may be filed in court. A charge must be filed with EEOC within 180 days from the date of the alleged violation, in order to protect the charging party's rights, though this 180-day filing deadline is extended to 300 days if the charge also is covered by a state or local anti-discrimination law

The adverse employment at issue in Ferne Labati's case was her termination. Labati's EEOC charge was filed on April 28, 2005.

Labati is entitled to protection under the ADEA if she can show she was discriminated on the basis of age (over 40), was replaced by someone outside the protected category, and the termination decision was motivated by the bias/animus. Being replaced by another woman, however, hurts her sex discrimination allegation...unless she can demonstrate sex discrimination based upon Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228 (1989): a cultural stereotype of how a woman is supposed to conduct herself in the workplace and that her (Labati's) termination was a result not fitting that image.
Katie Robinette's college hoops career has ended. Robinette transferred to Iowa State from Nebraska after her first year, sat out a year as per NCAA transfer rules, and then lost another semester to pregnancy and new-motherhood.

Big XII rules prohibit in-conference transfers from redshirting, so Robinette got just three terms on the team in Ames. She asked the Big XII for one more year, citing a similar transfer at Mizzou; the conference has now denied her appeal.
Fired coach Ferne Labati is taking the University of Miami (Florida) to court, alleging age and sex bias. "I gave UM 17 years of my life, of my heart and soul, and I never expected it would end like this," Labati says.

Did she think she had the job as long as she wanted it? If not, how did she expect it to end? Labati's 'Canes went 13-16 (4-10 ACC) this season, 22-7 (11-5 Big East) last year, 18-13 the year before that. Her suit notes that her replacement is younger (as replacements for long-serving coaches tend to be), and that "at least one younger female coach had a worse single-season record... and survived." UM may have acted precipitously, or unwisely, in firing Labati, but it's hard to see how replacing her with Katie Meier constitutes employment discrimination. Then again, I (Steve) am not a lawyer.
LJ has a swollen ankle. She's also desperately, depressingly out of shape, which may explain why she spent half the season opener standing in one place and shooting failed threes. "Lauren comes in out of shape almost every training camp and works her way back," Anne Donovan says, steam rising from her ears.

Pelton calls the Storm's three-point shooting on Saturday (6-32) the WNBA's worst ever. LJ's greatest admirer dubs it "the 'Ick' game." Seattle fans defend their team.
Tonight the Lynx face L.A. in Minnesota's home opener. The Strib's Roman Augustoviz implies that this year Nicole Ohlde will become the whole team. The Pi Press features Stanford grad and onetime Twin Cities prep standout Susan King Borchardt, even though she's on the Lynx IR list and won't play.
Two home wins last night. In Indy, the historically low-scoring Fever racked up 83 points, 50 in the second half, to beat the shorthanded Merc. One thing that hasn't changed about this year's Fever: they get to the line. Catchings connected on as many free throws as the entire Phoenix team; the Fever as a whole made 27 of 34. "Catchings absolutely steamrolled us," coach Graf admits. Catch herself says she finally has some help.

In Michigan, Cheryl Ford hoovered up rebounds as the Shock came back to beat the Silver Stars. Both teams finished the night without a head coach. Dan Hughes got himself ejected at the end of the first half; with five minutes left in the second, Bill Laimbeer let his assistants take over. Rick Mahorn gave a mysteriously effective motivational speech; Stinson then hit two threes, Detroit's defense clamped down, and the Shock scored the last 16 points.

Only in Detroit, Houston and Indiana have crowds this year seen home teams win reg-season games. Fever fans note changes to their TV and radio lineup.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Washington Mystics have a new owner: it's Lincoln Holdings. Washington Sports & Entertainment chief Abe Pollin announced the sale this afternoon.

Sheila Johnson, who co-founded Black Entertainment Television, becomes the Mystics' president and managing partner: she'll be the first African-American woman to control a major sports franchise. "I would not have sold the team to anybody else," Pollin said.

Lincoln already runs DC's NHL team, and holds a 45% stake in WS&E. The 'Stics "have been running better than the Washington Capitals. At least they're playing and have a shot at making money," Ted Leonsis, who runs Lincoln Holdings, remarked.

Johnson's former husband Robert Johnson owns the Charlotte Bobcats-- and the Sting: Johnson's team will meet Johnson's on June 28.
GM Seth Sulka says the Merc have to live without Vodichkova and Penny Taylor-- in other words, without two starters, one of whom brings lots of points, and the other a much-needed inside game-- until at least June 2.

Vodichkova is "taking time off" in Prague. PT's Italian team won league finals last week in a sweep: she's currently in Australia, though Sulka had earlier promised her return tomorrow. Plenette Pierson may not play tonight either (hamstring), leaving Phoenix with Robinson, Irvin, Jackson and wedding consultant Christensen in the post.

Voepel, who has been banging this drum for years, points out that late veterans also screw up preseason decisions: coach Graf can't know how well Angelina Williams, who stayed, or Jamie Carey, whom she cut, might work alongside Vodichkova, because Vodichkova ain't there. This happens every year, to almost every team.

Can the league do anything about it?
Sun fans learn what SASS fans have long known: Mike Anthony at the Courant reports that in Sunday's game at Washington, coach T-bone "spent much time screaming specific instructions to Dydek while the Sun tried to set up" its offense. Large Marge finished with 4 blocks, 9 points, and 3 assists, but just 3 rebounds.

Without Beard, the Mystics' young guards compiled decent stats: Johnson and Koehn both had 12, and Johnson 7 assists. Koehn hit 2 three-pointers in the final minute, distracting otherwise unhappy K-State fans. Adubato ended up unhappy too: botched late sets cost the Mystics the game.
Turns out Jess Strom asked to leave the Sun-- and the game. "It was her decision," T-Bone said on Saturday. WNBA ball "just became something she didn't want to do." (Via DTS.)
Dotcom uses some puffy fitness article as an excuse to put a picture of Becky Hammon in a sports bra on the front page.
Sheryl Swoopes had a tough year last year. Numbers down. Injuries. No postseason. Frustration. Disappointment.

Then she spent all off-season listening to trade rumors.

But it's looking like all that's in the past. She has scored 26 and 27 points in her first two games, and she's trying to lead her team back to the top.

"Janeth Arcain probably paid me one of the biggest compliments," Swoopes said, "She came up to me and said, 'You're one of the best, not only one of the best players, but one of the best people I know as far as being a leader. And you lead us. That's what we want you to do.' You know, I took that to heart. That's definitely something that I want to do."
Tanisha Wright had a couple unsuccessful drives against the Sparks. Betty Lennox told her to stay out.

"I just told her you're a rookie, you're undersized. The best thing you can do is stay out of the post area unless you're gonna be creative," Lennox said. "Right now, she's just not experienced."
Chicago will announce its coach on Thursday. The Tribune reports today, as Babcock did on Saturday, that Dave Cowens will get the job.

Monday, May 23, 2005

In the East, Detroit has gotten off to a very good start, winning both games in a tough, traveling back-to-back set. Both wins came over key conference rivals, the first over the Sun, the second over the same-old Liberty.

Yesterday in the Garden, the Shock made their shots down the stretch, and Becky Hammon didn't. "It's just amazing to me, we didn't knock down shots," said Hammon.

(While in NYC, Bill stoked rumors of his plans to depart to the NBA.)

Unlike Detroit, Charlotte has gotten off to a bad start, losing both games of its opening weekend, first to Washington, then to Indiana.

"We didn't play well," said coach Trudi Lacey.

#1 pick Janel McCarville played 3 minutes before leaving with a back injury. If Charlotte keeps up this pace, it can plan on getting a top pick again next year (so that it can sit her on the bench, get her really frustrated with pro ball, then trade her away to a team that will actually use her).
Disastrous early season news for Kendra Wecker and San Antonio: Wecker has a torn ACL and will miss the season.

“A thousand things go through your head. I thought, ‘My season is done, and it just got started,' ” Wecker said. “You have so much emotion and excitement for the opener, and it's all just gone. But I know this isn't career-ending; a lot of successful players have gone through this.”

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Opening Day scorecard

Average attendance: 9,984

Field goal percentage: 38.4%

Assist to turnover ratio: 0.97
Deanna Nolan recorded the fourth triple-double in league history in a win over Connecticut. Nolan 11 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds.

"This was real big for us to let them know that we are coming to take our Eastern Conference championship back," Nolan said. "First game of the season, the number one and two teams in the conference, we are just trying to send them a message that we're here, we're back."
Coach Donovan apparently wasn't just blowing smoke when she spent all preseason poor-mouthing her team. Seattle looked awful yesterday. Only Betty Lennox led with 14 points, and that was on 5 for 18 shooting. Coach Donovan called it a "fiasco."

Lauren Jackson inexplicably refused to play offense inside the three-point line, and she failed to reach double figures for the first time in almost three years.

"I'm a shooter and I missed wide-open shots," said Jackson. "I enjoyed (playing the three) so much, it was awesome, but I have to get used to it. I feel like I was in everyone's way out there. It was tough for me. I missed playing inside a little bit."

The Storm can take some comfort knowing that probably didn't give the worst performance yesterday. Charlotte had 25 turnovers and only 15 field goals in a loss to Washington.
Lynx COO Roger Griffith chuckles at the notion that people only own WNBA teams for a tax write-off. "If people want to talk about tax write-offs, talk about the Wolves," said Griffith.

The Lynx get rolling tonight; Katie is back. "Body feels good," she said. "Everything basketballwise feels good. ... It's more getting out here and getting all the parts working together, getting the kinks out. It's just good to be here."

Saturday, May 21, 2005

The front offices around the league can breathe a deap breath now that they've all made the cuts and fit themselves within the salary cap. Here are the numbers heading into opening day.
Seattle — 13 — 672,827
Washington — 13 — 672,648
Charlotte — 12 — 670,331
New York — 12 — 661,082
Detroit — 12 — 660,696
Los Angeles — 11 — 658,537
Connecticut — 12 — 652,808
Houston — 11 — 651,574
Sacramento — 13 — 649,709
Indiana — 12 — 638,013
San Antonio — 13 — 633,327
Minnesota — 13 — 632,891
Phoenix — 13 — 625,148
Some of the numbers will change slightly for various reasons: adjustments for late arrivals, inclusion of partial guarantees for cut players, etc.

LA actually has only 10 on the roster. But under the CBA, you can't avoid the cap by carrying a light roster, so the Sparks' number here includes a minimum $31,200 assessed for the currently nonexistant 11th player. Which means that they have $45,663 to spend.
Adam Zagoria wrote a state of the league article yesterday. In it, he included a key quote from David Stern explaining the NBA's interest in the W.
"The investment in developing a sport that develops new basketball fans makes an enormous amount of sense," Stern said earlier this year. "This is a huge competitive advantage for us. People don't understand, but it is a marketing expense that couldn't be duplicated at five times what NBA owners have invested."

What Stern means is that a WNBA fan is more likely to go to an NBA game than someone who's not a basketball fan at all. And by having the WNBA season run from late May to early September, it keeps attention on pro basketball in the NBA's offseason and helps fill arenas.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Science is silly.
More on San Antonio...

In 2003, San Antonio traded Natalie Williams and 2003 draft selection Coretta Brown to Indiana for Sylvia Crawley and 2003 draft selection Gwen Jackson. Williams averaged 13.4 points and 7.5 rebounds in 2003 and has anchored the Fever frontcourt for the past few years. Crawley retired from the WNBA before the 2004 season. In 2004, Gwen Jackson was traded for Adrian Williams.

Now that San Antonio has waived Adrian Williams, the trade of All-Star Natalie Williams has yielded...nothing. Any wonder why San Antonio finished last in 2004? Gregory Moore had it right - it is time to get rid of Clarissa Davis-Wrightsil.
So who get the better deal of the Gwen Jackson-Adrian Williams trade? At the time, the Mercury gave up an All Star in Williams and for a second year player in Jackson.

That "All Star" has now been waived. SASS picked Chantelle Anderson (with her career averages of 2.1 points and 1.0 rebounds) and Katie Feenstra over that All Star. Gwen Jackson, on the other hand, will be starting on opening night.
The Mystics waived Iciss Tillis, making the Tillis-for-#13-pick (Dionnah Jackson) trade one of the most meaningless in the history of sports. Both players were cut barely a month after the trade; neither saw a single game of regular season action.
Yesterday brought some tough cuts. Detroit waived Dionnah Jackson, the last pick in the first round. LA waived Dee Dee Wheeler, the last pick in the second round.

And as Barry predicted, the Sparks also had to kick Laura Macchi off the active roster for salary cap reasons.
Holdsclaw media policy, as described by Sparks media coordinator Ashley King: "Sparks basketball related questions only. Nothing about the Mystics, nothing about her past. We just want to talk about the Sparks and look to the future."
Jayda Evans says fans are grumbling "about new league rules regarding defense." Ivan Carter at WaPo reports that the WNBA will "introduce a rule change that could open up the court and lead to more scoring."

Note, however, as the official release stated yesterday, that isn't actually a "new rule," but rather a change in the way an existing rule is enforced.

The rules say, as they have always said, that a player shall not impede the progress of an opponent. The rules say, as they have always said, that a defender may not initiate contact with her opponent unless the contact is "incidental" because it does not affect the opponent's "speed, quickness, balance, and/or rhythm." (There is an exception for the forearm-on-the-back technique in the post.)

The NBA and the WNBA haven't passed any new rules regarding handchecking. They've just told refs to enforce the existing rule the way it was written.
Coach Donovan continues the campaign to lower expectations.

"I know we won't be the team that won on Oct. 12," she said, "but I want to be close to that in terms of excitement. My fear is that we don't live up to that."

Losing players hurt. "I went into the offseason thinking that we may lose one, maybe two players," Donovan said. "But I didn't expect that teams would go after our bench and offer starter's money."

No Christmas cards for Seth Sulka this year, I'm guessing...

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Just received my official WNBA promotional email.
LSU and UConn will play a home-and-home series on CBS for the next two seasons.
WNBA players don't have matching tote bags, and as a result, it might be easier to make money betting on the W.
Stickney reports on the schools that Janeth Arcain runs in Brazil.

"Basketball has given me so much," Arcain said. "I've been blessed. I just wanted to give something back. We give the kids a chance to dream and be a good basketball player. It's nice because I can help other people, I can help the kids."
Sparks publicists are requesting/demanding that reporters ask Chamique Holdsclaw only "basketball-related" questions.

Meanwhile, Mique and Lisa Leslie are enjoying their time together. "Chamique came to me after our first (exhibition) game and said, 'Wow, I didn't know you could pass so good,'" Leslie recalled. "And I'm like, 'Well, it's easy to find someone who cuts so well and moves so well without the ball.'"

(And she's like, no, you're great. And I'm like, no, you're great.)
Conference call transcript from Eastern Conference coaches. Trudi Lacey suggests that McCarville won't be playing very much.
It is quite a transition in our league. Every day you have to go to battle, whether it’s in practice or in a game. That’s an adjustment for her. Also, the professional game is played two or three seconds faster than the college games. The moves and some of the passes that you can make in college, you’re not able to make them in this league. So Janel right now, is working on how to play at that pace and have some success.

Right now I do see her getting adequate minutes off the bench. As you know we have some veteran players that we acquired. I think it’s a good situation for her because she doesn’t have to feel that pressure to perform or to carry us. We have enough veterans around her so that she can adjust to the WNBA at her own pace.
In the LA Times, Mike Terry says that point guards are getting bigger. Pilight doubts whether there's really any trend.
WNBA.com (Matt Wurst?) puts together some preseason power rankings. No surprises.

Oscar Dixon gives USA Today readers a rundown on some of the league's offseason changes.

The Boston Globe talks up Orender.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Slow news day today, so let's talk about... oh, I don't know... pregnancy.

One of the funny things about it is that many people think your pregnancy grants them license to give unsolicited advice. It seems to come most often from people who have never themselves carried a child.

It comes on all topics — from epidurals to episiotomies to soft cheeses (which are, in fact, probably safer, listeria-wise, than most fruits and vegetables) — and of course the big one: booze, booze, booze.

Unable to handle the social pressure, Sara regularly hits the bottle and goes right to the rock. Nice going, assholes. Your overbearing nonsense has backfired again. If my crack-baby daughter has a low basketball IQ and loses her chance at fame and fortune, I'm blaming you.

Bonus topic: patronymics, raised yesterday by Volokh, picked up elsewhere.

When we announced our hyphenated name, our parents (or rather, my parents — funny that) became briefly and mildly hysterical. They made three points:

1. How will anyone find you in the phone book?

Presumably, unless cognitively impaired due to prenatal soft cheese consumption, they'll look under "S", the first letter of our last name, and that's where our name and number will be. (Plus, who uses phone books?)

2. What will your kids do when they get married?

Whatever the hell they want to. With luck, they'll join same-sex polyamorous unions, possibly including cousins and animals, and they'll take the names of all 18 members, thus entering the Guinness Book with the longest hyphenated name.

3. How will it fit on the back of a jersey?

You got me there — I hadn't thought of that. Our very civilization hangs in the balance. (But I'm hoping that my daughter will be such a badass that she'll only go by one name, like Madonna or Nene... well, maybe more like Madonna than Nene. Maybe she'll just ditch the surname and go with her in-utero name, Glove, which has persisted despite our luke-warm feelings toward Gary Payton.)
After wallowing for a couple years in San Antonio, Large Marge Dydek is ready to win some games. "Now I'm 30 years old," she says, "so I hope to have some success."

In Detwah, Swin Cash, still recovering from her knee injury, will miss the first few games. "We have three quick games and then have nine or 10 days off," coach Laimbeer said. "She'll be ready to go June 3rd. That was my timetable all the way. She's come to that realization, too."
Coach Donovan explains why she hates the new handchecking interpretation.

The new standard has been widely credited as a success in the NBA, but Donovan thinks the W is different for two reasons.

First, because the W's season is too short, so players don't have enough time to adjust. Second, because the style of play is different: "The NBA is about defense, but it's not get up on our man defense, so it's been a much easier rule to adjust to than it will be for us."

The first reason makes some sense. Of course, it didn't take NBA players all 82 games to adjust. By midseason or earlier, the whole thing had pretty well settled in.

I'm not so sure about the second — sounds like she's reaching there. Don't WNBA teams play more zone, which typically means less "up on our man defense"? Has Anne seen Bruce Bowen guarding Ray Allen this series?
Orender on the meaning of the W: "it does have real extensions into more social issues as it relates to inspiration and aspiration of our youth, and women and families, topics that are meaningful to people in this day and age."

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

When the Lynx play the Sun, do Minnesotans cheer for the home team, for Lindsay's team, or for the Gophers? Steph Bowen answers: all of the above.
Amber Bland was one of the three players originally kicked off Penn State's team. Then she was "in limbo." Then it looked like Rene was only giving Etienne and Harris the boot, and Amber would stay.

Now Bland wants to leave, but PSU is making it difficult for her. "I have requested my release and been told that, unless my father calls, my release will not be granted," she said yesterday. "Rene told me I really don't want you to go, but I just want to go [transfer]."

Tomorrow is the transfer deadline.
Lieberman supports the new emphasis on handchecking rule enforcement.
Ohio State has been cited by the NCAA for nine violations, including one in the women's basketball program: "Ronald Erkis, a Columbus orthodontist, provided impermissible, cost-free or discounted services worth more than $10,000 to five women's basketball players."
Seattle still isn't sure what to do at the 3 spot, but it's still considering going big and putting LJ there.
The PP reports today that kids are spending too much time playing games and not enough time practicing fundamentals.

Lindsay Whalen isn't overly concerned. "I think it is good that kids are playing," she said. "I think too many of them are saying that if I play AAU, I'll be fine, I don't have to do anything more. You just can't do that. You still have to put in quality time on your own and work on the fundamentals. You still have to be disciplined."
Maria Conlon was cut yesterday.

"It was hard because I felt Maria had a really good camp, but I think Jamie fits the way we play better, with a faster pace," coach Thibault said. "Maria is more of a smaller [shooting] guard. I've come to respect [Conlon] quite a bit. I was very impressed with her. It was a very difficult decision."

Connecticut will go with Jamie Carey and Jen Derevjanik instead. Carey is "somebody who we had considered drafting ourselves," Thibault said. “I don't profess to know and have not figured out what happened in Phoenix."

Monday, May 16, 2005

Today's silliness: "I have never met a heterosexual woman who was even remotely interested in the WNBA or ever mentioned having an interest in women’s athletics of any kind."

Wait — before you click through, guess the author's politics. It's not hard.
The Mystics will put Erica Taylor on the Physically Unable to Perform list; she'll miss the entire season.

"If I could do it all over, I would not have played this year and let my body heal and play one more year at Tech," Taylor said. "I can't dwell on that. The best thing now is to sit out a year."
Robin Roberts, rising star.
I can't hide the fact that I'm a black woman, nor do I want to hide it. When I was in sports, I thought people saw gender before race — 'Oh, man, another woman who wants to be in sports, come on' — and I don't feel that as much in the news division. I'm very proud of people before me, my family; they've been true trailblazers. It always tickled me when people thought I was a trailblazer being a sportscaster. Try being a Tuskegee Airman. That's a trailblazer.
In yesterday's preseason action...

Indiana finished a 3-0 preseason by beating Phoenix. DeForge had 34, but no one else could score for the Merc.

"I don't think I had to carry the team," said DeForge. "When you have a hot hand, you just keep going to it. The well runs dry. But I think anybody on any given night is capable of getting on this team."

4,554 fans showed up to the Pepsi Arena in Albany to see the Lib play Detroit. Shameka Christon led all scorers with 19, and the Shock shot less than 50% from the line, but Laimbeer's squad came out on top anyway.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Two preseason games last night. In the game I wish we had seen, Sacramento edged Seattle. Chelsea Newton scored the winning layup. "I was telling myself not to put [starters] back into the game," said Coach Donovan, "and then I wanted to win the game like everybody else here. Unfortunately, it was probably a little too late."

In the game we did see, the Lynx got blown out in the Barn. The Sun have an offense. The Lynx don't, or not yet: Minnesota still haven't solved the turnover problem, nor the point guard problem, nor the overreliance-on-Katie-Smith problem, and perhaps ought to keep King Borchardt, who looked good.

The Sun have no particular problems, and perhaps ought to keep both Carey and Conlon, who looked very good. Margo Dydek's picks on Kristi Harrower looked silly: the 5'4" Australian kept hitting her head on Dydek's hip bones. Lindsay, who led all scorers, looked unstoppable. T-bone says she'll start at point until 2015.

The game in Seattle tallied 63 fouls, the game in Minneapolis 47; the Kansas City game saw 73. Overeager zebras? Maybe not: the new hand-check rule should bring slow, annoying, free-throw laden games, and fan complaints, early in the season, and faster, higher-scoring games once teams get used to it. That's what happened on the men's side: at least, Mark Cuban thinks so.
Q&A time in Charlotte: Allison Feaster takes questions about Harvard, France and her hardworking mom. Helen Darling says she's writing a book. The commish says the same things in Charlotte that she's said in every other city she visits: let's hope they're all true.

Ask for mo' better Sting coverage here.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

The college postseason gives us bubble teams: the pro preseason, bubble players. In Seattle, Stevenson, Barnes and AB talk about their chances. "I try not to worry about the numbers thing," says eighth-year veteran Barnes.

Phoenix fans debate whether to cut Angelina or Shereka. Le'Coe describes the strength and conditioning work that likely means she'll stay with the Sun. The Lib's Amisha Carter warns rookies: "Your season could be over before you know it."

Friday, May 13, 2005

The table has been set for something big to happen in the California town whose name, when mis-pronounced, translates to 'three buns' in Mandarin. Asian Week columnist W. S. Wang reports that Chinese National Team sensation Sui Fei Fei is on the verge of making the Sacramento Monarchs along with teammate Miao Lie Jie. If Fei Fei and Miao Miao make the cut, writes Wang, 'they might draw more fans than anyone else for TV audiences of the WNBA in North America, especially in China where women athletes are much more admired and promoted.'

Fei Fei is the official face of a Chinese youth national paper and a three-time Chinese Basketball Association MVP. Her emergence is said to have paralleled her nation's as an 'economic powerhouse'. Miao Miao is an MVP who led the CBA in scoring four seasons. How big can the duo be in the town Margaret Wong elects to call 'Sangemanto'?

Stateside fans organized a support group and hosted a website, Chinese newspaper reporters camped out at practice, the Bee ran two stories on Fei Fei, KXTV interviewed Fei Fei and Miao Miao, and the Basketball Pioneers, a popular newspaper in China, sent a reporter.

"They can do for Sacramento what Yao Ming did for Houston," Li Yuanwei, Chinese Basketball Association general secretary, said through an interpreter after arriving for an exhibition between the Monarchs and the Chinese National Team. "Feifei and Miao Miao are among the biggest names in China and all of Asia," said Vicki Beaton, a reporter with the World Journal, North America’s largest Chinese newspaper. "People want to know everything."
Remember Linda Hill-McDonald, head coach at Temple, then Minnesota, then Cleveland, then an assistant with the Mystics and South Carolina? She's now head coach at the University of Buffalo.
Tully plays HORSE, depantses sports reporter. (What will she do at the Fever's open practice?)
Mystics lose Smith, Brown, Joens, and Taylor, gain Johnson. Without Brown, Joens, Smith or Taylor, roster now includes Brown, Chones, Milton-Jones, Jackson, Johnson and Johnson, and Smith-Taylor, not counting strength coach Jones. Should we feel bad for Byron Kerr?
The dot-com polls GMs' predictions. Half pick Tan White for ROY. None pick Wecker.

In a 13-team league, why did just ten GMs respond? And which front office answered everything else, but refused to pick a Defensive Player of the Year? Discuss.
Saturday evening Lindsay returns to the Barn. "I'm partial to Williams Arena," her dad says.

Some Gopher fans who remain lukewarm on the Lynx complain that the Target Center's not as much fun as Williams. Did the canny Lynx organization arrange this game to draw in (or shut up) those fans? Nope: the Lynx will play this preseason game at the University of Minnesota because planners expected the Timberwolves to make the playoffs. So good can come from bad.

Amber Jacobs logged many minutes last year as the Lynx's backup point guard. This year she says she feels "stronger and quicker," adding "Can't you see my muscles?" Stanford grad Susan King Borchardt could well make the team as point guard number three.

The Sun will be coming off Thursday's loss in Houston, their first outing since Large Marge reported for work. UConn fans will hope, once again, for a strong showing from Conlon. Penn State fans will scratch their heads.
This new free broadband content section is pretty cool. Check out the season preview, where a bunch of coaches talk about the favorites (or favorite, rather) for the '05 season.
Coming next year to preseason women's college ball: a longer three-point line, and a 10-second rule.

The Rules Committee will also instruct refs to police displacement and bench decorum more tightly.
Donna Orender has given several interviews in the past couple days, and she's given some hints about her views on some important policy issues.

1. Skipping college.

Minneapolis South High School point guard Tayler Hill has become a minor celebrity around here; she was just named best high school athlete in the Twin Cities even though she's only in eighth grade. Her father (doing his best Richard Williams impersonation) recently suggested in ESPN the Magazine, and then again in the PP, that Tayler might skip college and head straight to the W.

Of course, that's banned under the current CBA. Ray Richardson asked Orender yesterday if she'd consider changing the rules, and Orender responded with an emphatic "no."

Paul Hill says he may challenge the age limit in court when the time comes. Of course, by then, the NBA will have raised its age limit, and some high schoolers will have challenged it and lost already... so he likely won't have much of a case.

2. Euroball and the W preseason

One of the hot topics Donna says she's studying up on is how the W interacts with the Euroleagues. W coaches are growing increasingly frustrated about having to start their training camps without players.

(As Krista Latham reports, Chandi Jones is one of those. She might have picked the wrong year to show up late -- assuming Detroit keeps Thomas and Farris, it already has 11 players with about $620k of salary. That means Chandi has to beat out both Walker and Nikita Bell, who has impressed coach Laimbeer.)

When it comes time to negotiate the next CBA, it wouldn't be surprising if the W asked for an earlier required reporting date. If they did that in exchange for higher salaries, it would be a win-win.

3. Expansion

Donna really wants to add more franchises. She said she wants to add a new team every year or every other year, and she even suggested a goal of having 20 teams eventually.

"We have several groups around the country interested in teams," she said. "But we need our growth to be prudent."

4. Marketing

Signaling a subtle but potentially important shift in marketing strategy, Orender said that she isn't interested in marketing the W to the sort of male sports fans who simply refuse to give women's sports any credibility.

"The small sliver that doesn't want it?" she said. "Have a nice life."

That might mean a welcome end to the ad campaigns where our favorite basketball players are portrayed in the language of contemporary soft porn.

More debate on the issue here. As Jo says:
The WNBA attendance dampening aspects of sloppily played, turnover prone, unevenly officiated basketball that stem from lack of team preparation [see issue 2 above] are more serious than the denouement of the league's 'no man left behind' act.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Sara's sister saw Michelle Van Gorp at the gym last week and asked her to join our rec league team. MVG responded that she's still too injured to play. Optimistically, I take that to mean that once she's healthy, she'll consider it.

Even without anyone over 5'10" (much less a 6'6" post), the Blast pulled off a sweet comeback last night to improve to 3-2 in spring league.

Speaking of... awhile ago, I fell prey to a cunning hoax. The following email was sent to the blog address:
After following your postings on the Blast? in your July chronicles, I decided to finally go see them live in the CY05 season opener at the YWCA. I mean come on! No bleachers so I had to stand near the doors, only 1 sub the whole game. The blue team had 5! I thought this year would deliver more positive blog postings but I guess not. 61 to 20-something! This is so reminiscient of your loss to the St. Cloud on July 6th. And Sara, maybe you should think about quitting this league also so you can drink more with Ted and the other losers in your fan section who yell things like make it rain. Good luck with the rest of your season! Keep up the blogging.

-Art Vandalais
Brilliantly constructed, I must admit. A couple intentional mistakes, slightly off-key. Walked just to the edge but didn't quite go over-the-top, leaving it (almost?) believably deranged. The name was a variant of Vandelay, and thus a Seinfeld reference, but I was too slow to pick it up.

Well done, my friend.
The Minnesota Gophers message board was formerly known as the Fast Break Club board based on its affiliation with the official booster club.

Apparently folks on the board were too critical of the team and/or too willing to repeat things said at team luncheons and the like, so the booster club decided that it no longer wanted any affiliation. The boosters preferred "all good news, all the time," regardless of how crappy the team may or may not have played on any given day.

The board lives on, now known as the Gopher Street Board.

Let freedom ring.
WNBA.com has a new look, now more similar to the revamped NBA site.

One great thing -- the broadband season pass is FREE. It will provide live audio for every game all year. That's fabulous. Plus highlights. Maybe they'll throw in some streaming video games too?

Dotcom has had some problems recently, and it's never been as good as it should be.

The W needs to understand how important the internet is to its fans. We don't get to see many games on TV. We don't get to see highlights on SportsCenter or our local news. We don't have any shows like "Inside the NBA." We don't have a ton of print media coverage.

So we go to the internet to get our info. And the WNBA needs to do a better job of helping fill the void.

Why not have every game available for free in streaming video on the web? I know it would be expensive... but one of the biggest things holding the league back is that folks just can't see the games.

Why doesn't every team have someone like Kevin Pelton on staff writing substantive basketball articles for its website? That one you could do for almost free -- go to your local college, look for someone who wants a career in sports journalism, offer an internship. It's not too late for this summer. (Blaze, meet Timber.)

Why aren't Pelton's articles shown on the front page?

We all really love puff pieces about DeForge's favorite cardio exercise and Vicki Johnson's home redecoration. (Cough.) But why can't dotcom have some actual basketball analysis to go along with them? Why not try to teach us something about the game?

Why aren't the official blogs (Riley, Lobo, Meyers) updated more than once every six months? Why not set up blogs for some players, coaches, execs, who really want to write? Why not give a voice to some of the funny, quirky, even slightly controversial personalities in our game?

Rather than just trying to replicate the NBA's site, why not try to push the boundaries, to do things that no one has done before?

This isn't rocket science. The internet is easy. Use it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

In yesterday's other preseason game, Indiana pounded Phoenix. Yo Paige went to the line 15 times (more than the entire Merc squad) and led all scorers with 18.

"It was a blowout loss," coach Carrie Graf said. "Defensively, we need a major adjustment. We didn't get the stops we needed. We didn't shoot the ball well, but our shot selection was good."
In her return to DC, Holdsclaw scored 15 points and grabbed 8 boards. The Sparks won.

"It felt like any other game," said Holdsclaw. "I wasn't really nervous, but I guess somewhere deep down inside you have that nervousness."

She's happy to be playing with Lisa Leslie. "It makes my job a lot easier. I don't have to go out there and do everything -- just play and try to win a championship."

The MCI fans gave her a mixed reception. "I got some claps and some boos, but I gave this organization a great six years, the best that I can do, and if you can't appreciate that, hey, so what," she said. "I can't say anything else. I did the best that I could do. If I was a normal person who changed jobs, it would be accepted"
Seattle has seen substantial growth in season ticket sales, especially to men, and it has also netted six new corporate sponsors.

Coach is a little worried about the expectation levels. "Every fan, not just the new fans, but our old fans, our solid fans, are expecting that we will show well," Donovan said. "Most of our fans are educated enough (to know) that we had such turnover it's going to take us a while to get there."

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Steve's essay on the WNBA appears in the May issue of The Believer.

It is titled: "Welcome to the Almost Cult-like Fan-world of American Women's Pro Basketball: An Obsessive, Welcoming, Slightly Nerdy Subculture, Refreshingly Free of Yahoos."

You can read the intro free online. For the rest (well worth it), head down to your local bookstore and pick up a copy.
A newly discovered fragment of the Book of Revelation challenges the conventional belief that the Antichrist's mark is 666, indicating instead that it is 616. Expert classicists used multi-spectral imaging to get a better view of the text, which is written in archaic Greek and dates to the late third century.

If you believe that Satan speaks through area codes — and you should — then Grand Rapids, Michigan, just got a whole lot more evil.
Chamique Holdsclaw returns to the MCI Center tonight.

"I'm really not concerned about how the fans will receive me," Holdsclaw wrote in an email to Kathy Orton. "I just know how I played for the home team for six seasons, and they cheered me on game after game. The fans at MCI Center were just amazing and the support and love was felt."

"It will be hard for the fans and everybody," said Chasity Melvin.
Debbie Black has found work as an assistant at OSU for Jim Foster, who coached her at St. Joe's in the 80s.

"I'm looking for a house," she said. "This is the most settled I've been since I got out of St. Joe's. I really haven't been settled in one spot. I'm hoping I'll be here for years."
Sean Webby at the Mercury News looks at gay sports fans.
It is widely known that women's basketball has a large gay fan base. In 2002, a group of lesbians staged a "kiss-in" to protest their perception that the WNBA's New York Liberty had not acknowledged them.

Doris Owyang, 40, a San Francisco journalist, said her friends tell her, "Why go to a bar when I can go to a Stanford basketball game and see an ocean of lesbians?"
Anne Donovan isn't fully happy with either Adia Barnes or Ashley Battle at the small forward.

"We really didn't have anybody step in the way I would have hoped after 10 days of training camp," she said. "I'm looking for somebody who can kind of put together both ends of the floor and help us there. Our depth is a concern right now. If you're not sure on your fifth starter, then that means your bench is a little shaky, as well."

Donovan is looking at bringing in another international player to fill the void.

In an effort to add depth at its wing spot, and to hedge its bets on Swin Cash's recovery, Detroit added 37-year-old Andrea Stinson yesterday.

"Whatever Coach Laimbeer and the coaching staff ask of me, I'm ready to give them," Stinson said. "If that means coming off the bench, running the break, playing defense, trying to teach some of the younger players what I've learned in my years in professional basketball, whatever it is, I'm going to give them."

Monday, May 09, 2005

On the men's side, Phoenix gets started on Round 2 tonight. If you are the sort of women's basketball fan who likes to tut-tut about how the NBA isn't worth watching, I suggest that you check out that crazy-haired Canadian. He might just change your mind.

Plus, the ancillaries are top notch. If you want to see basketball officiating done right, watch Dick Bavetta or Bennett Salvatore. If you want to see courtside broadcasting done right, watch Marv Albert, Steve Kerr, and Cheryl Miller. If you want to see studio analysis done right, watch EJ, Kenny, and Charles.

It's still 12 days till the W gets rolling. Enjoying the NBA in the mean time doesn't make you a bad person. I swear.
Mel has a drink with LoJack and Betty Lennox.
Brian Vanochten at the Grand Rapids Free Press names the top 10 women in sports broadcasting. Mary Carillo deservedly ranks first, and I think I would add Cheryl Miller.

Robin Roberts, #4 on Vanochten's list, just got a big promotion at GMA.
In more meaningless preseason action, the Sun squashed the Sting in Bridgeport. Katie Douglas looked great. All the Sun's posts looked great. McCarville, who started her first pro game, didn't look great, nor did Conlon. At one point Connecticut led by 21.

Douglas says she felt awful all winter after last year's finals, but she can get over it now: "I've been through way too much in my life to let something like [missed shots] weigh on me for too long."

Conlon-- and Taurasi-- graduated from UConn yesterday (as did Battle, Marron, Valley, and J-Mo), but new NCAA rules treat Maria and Diana as if they had not. DiMauro gets indignant: "Mr. Brand and his minions must distinguish between the senior who leaves and the senior who returns and graduates."

"Would you be more likely to go to a Connecticut Sun game if Maria Conlon was on the team?" The Hartford Courant wants to know.