Women's Hoops Blog: July 2005

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better


Sunday, July 31, 2005

Pelton weighs in on the Katie trade. He likes it:

"Instead of viewing their team as unable to continue overachieving, many Minnesota fans criticized players and coaches, criticism I'm not certain was justified...

"Smith would have been dropping off just as Hayden and Ohlde reached their prime. Now, the Lynx have a third second-year starter and two first-round picks next April to try to secure their point guard of the future, addressing the team's biggest weakness."

Pelton is also high on Jones, meaning that he thinks the trade good for Minnesota's future even if Detroit wins rings this year.

Of all the objections fans in Minnesota will make, the silliest concerns owner Glen Taylor's commitment: if the trade works out, it means losing a few (more) games and fans right now in order to win more in '06, '07, '08. If that doesn't mean he's keeping the team for the long term, I honestly don't know what would.
Via Stever, the Washington Post on the health of the league.

Swoopes complains, as she has before: "Talent-wise, the league has gotten better and we know we're providing good family entertainment. But we're not noticed very much on the national sports scene and corporate sponsorships are hard to grow."

The Commish responds: "Our attendance is flat, but we've generated at least 10 new sponsorships in each of our markets and we're holding our own with regards to television."

Every time you see an obtrusive, expensive corporate sponsorship for professional golf, you are seeing Donna Orender's marketing acumen at work. She knows how to make more money for the league-- maybe a lot more-- even if attendance stays just where it is.

Comets fans comment on Houston Chron Comets coverage (say that five times fast), and on the future of the league, right here.
The Silver Stars defeated the Comets in Houston. Marie Ferdinand missed the game due to a death in her family; Pee Wee Johnson (18 points, 11-11 in free throws) more than made up for it.

Thompson and Swoopes combined for 34 points; the seven other Comets who saw action combined for only 29. Pee Wee explained: "We know that [Swoopes and Thompson] are going to get theirs, but we wanted to make sure no one else could beat us."
In the big ESPN grudge match, Detroit brought misery to Connecticut, holding the home team to 27% shooting (4-17 for three), and staving off a late comeback after Connecticut cut the lead to one possession.

Deanna Nolan looked unstoppable. Plenette Pierson scored at will. All Connecticut's jump shooters went cold (Whalen 1-8, Douglas 1-10, Sales 3-12). In those circumstances, you drive to the hoop and hope for a whistle, and Connecticut did that-- too late: 30-36 free throw shooting (almost all in the second half) gave the crowd something to cheer, but not enough.

With the semi-exception of Taj McWilliams-Franklin, the Shock looked physically stronger, and their posts looked quicker, wresting away loose ball after loose ball.

The Sun are now 1-3 vs. Detroit, 18-3 vs. the rest of the league; it was also Connecticut's first home loss this year.

Taj: “When we're down, we fight back, sooner or later. We might have waited a little too late.”

Coach Thibault: "I think [shooting] about 27% from the floor covers it."
Roger Griffith: "If we'd been meeting our expectations this year, this would not have happened. It was more the realization that where we thought we'd make a big step forward this year, we'd be struggling to get back to where we were."

Suzie McConnell Serio: "Katie was obviously disappointed that this was happening. She wished it would have worked out better than it had. She realizes it's a business. Obviously she's very close to her teammates, and she had been a very big part of the success through the years."

Board debates: Minnesota here, Rebkell here; ESPN here.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

The Lynx organization explains the Katie trade. Some Minnesota fans will flip, especially those who remember how Brian Agler churned the rosters. They shouldn't. The trade is good for the Lynx.

1. WHAT MINNESOTA LOST. Look at her performance this year: the Katie who knocked down the big shots has been AWOL, for reasons either medical or emotional, since the middle of June. (She denies, but Suzie says, that there's a foot injury.)

Maybe it's medical, and it's permanent. In that case, the player who knocked down all those big shots is gone, and there's no sense wishing her back.

Maybe it's emotional-- Katie wanted out, perhaps for a ring, perhaps to get closer to Columbus, Ohio. In that case, you can't fault the Lynx for trading a player who wanted to be traded, any more than you can fault the Mystics for trading Holdsclaw.

But maybe it's medical and temporary, in which case Evil Bill has picked himself up a great perimeter shooter (and a solid defender who won't foul much). But how much longer does Katie want to play? (She's said till age 34, which means 2-3 more years.) And how interested is she in helping her teammates improve?

More important, how much longer can the Lynx operate with players who stand around and hope Katie will score? That's what the Lynx perimeter offense has looked like, too often, since I started watching the team (2002); it had to change, just as Washington had to stop being a team in which players reacted to Holdsclaw. The offense has been more stagnant during Katie's slump this year than it was when Katie couldn't play last year-- and that's stagnant indeed. Much of that stagnation has to do with the point guard position, but that brings me to the next point...

2. WHAT MINNESOTA GAINED. Stacey Thomas is unimportant. Chandi Jones could be very important. I didn't get much chance to watch the University of Houston (who, outside of Houston, did?) but among the guards of last year's strong draft, she got talked up as the real rough diamond.

And rightly so. When Laimbeer has chosen to play her, she's shown speed, ballhandling skills, an outside shot, and the desire to score. That's a combination no player on the Lynx roster this year, with the potential exception of Tyger Lewis, has shown. Without it, the Lynx aren't going to get much above .500. Stats buffs will note that Jones in 2005 shoots .411, .486 from downtown, and .789 from the line in 16 minutes per game: all those numbers are better than Katie's this year.

Would I trade Smith for Jones straight up? No. But the Lynx didn't do that. There's also a draft pick. Minnesota desperately needed perimeter scorers, Smith or no Smith, along with another option at the point, especially if Kristi Harrower isn't going to play 35 minutes a game. This trade gives the Lynx two first-round picks next year and two chances at a top-six (lottery teams plus Chicago) pick: Minnesota miss out on a top-six first-rounder only if Lynx and Shock both make the playoffs.

Though Detroit fans seem happy, I'm slightly surprised that Detroit took the deal-- did they get a medical report? did Katie tell them she wanted to leave? It will has put the Lynx in position for even more ill-considered opprobium from casual fans. It may will probably depress this year's attendance, and next year's season-ticket renewals. It's trading short-term for long-term. It's a risk. But the Lynx front office want championship rings-- maybedefinitely not this year, but in '06 or '07-- and the team couldn't get them by playing it safe.

UPDATE, 8/2: after Sunday's game it looks pretty clear that the trade will be good for Detroit. That doesn't mean it's bad (or good) for the Lynx, who needed a lot more from Katie than they were getting-- and a lot more than Detroit will ask her to do-- in order to keep her as the core of the team.
Did Lynx GM Roger Griffith just push the PANIC BUTTON or did he solidify the foundations of the franchise?

Well, the Lynx just traded Katie Smith and their 2006 2nd round pick to Detroit for the Shock's 1st round pick in 2006, guard Chandi Jones, and forward Stacey Thomas.

Is this the - ahem - "best" move for the Lynx since they were allocated Kristin Folkl instead of Nykesha Sales during their expansion year, or will it bring championships to Minnesota for years to come?

Discuss.
Depressing, but true: if you want to attract reporters to a basketball game, pick a fight, throw a punch, or start a feud. Today's installment: Mike Thibault vs. Bill Laimbeer.

Sun coach Thibault calls Laimbeer "a very competitive person, but he doesn't mind demeaning other people."

Detroit's big guy responds: "I've been called worse by better people."

The Shock-Sun rematch starts at 1pm ET today, on ESPN.
At home, the Fever beat the Mystics with defense. It was close: Indiana shot under 35% from the field and trailed by 12 midway through. Catchings (22 points): "Once we settled down and took our time against their zone, we were fine."

Also at home, the Monarchs beat the Sparks. It wasn't close: the Monarchs had 44 points in the paint to the Sparks' 20, and at one point led by 24. Coach Whisenant: "We got them dysfunctional with our defense. We took them out of their stuff."

L.A. Coach Bibby says the Sparks didn't "play hard." Several played hurt, or didn't play at all: Leslie got just 3 boards in 27 minutes, Teasley (foot injury) missed her third game in a row, and Doneeka Hodges had to start.
Seattle beat the Sting in what Seattleites consider a slow, tough, uninspiring win, though Seattle led by 10 at the half and scored 79 points. Sue Bird: "We didn't play well, and we still won." Pelton liveblogged the Seattle home game as always.

Janel Burse (11-13, 27 points) had her way with the Sting's slow and/or short posts. Sting jump shooter Jia Perkins racked up 21; Allison Feaster did not play.

Former Storm starter Sheri Sam got her ring last night, then got chatty with her former teammates. Lauren Jackson says Sam "talks so much crap. The whole game she was talking. She's just funny."

The Seattle P-I asks why attendance in Seattle has risen, but league-wide attendance has declined. Memo to P-I editors: no, the league has not "lost three-quarters of a million fans" compared to last year: that number compares this year's attendance-to-date-- over 1.2 million after 20-24 games per team-- to last year's final reg-season attendance total-- 1.89 million after 34 games per team. Use the per-week and per-game averages, please. Mean per-game attendance is down by 400, but still above 8K, with very explicable declines in L.A. (the team is a lot worse), Charlotte (the team is a lot, lot, lot worse) and Washington (baseball), slightly less explicable decline in Houston.
How can a team lose a game in which they shoot 52% from the field, 7-11 for three, and lead twice by double digits, once by 16?

How can the same team win a game in which they shoot 47% from the line, turn the ball over 20 times, allow 12 steals, score just two points (and no field goals) in the final five minutes, and commit a shot clock violation on their final possession while trailing by two?

Lynx fans last night witnessed some of the season's most inspiring basketball... followed by its most frustrating. The visiting Mercury led for just 35 seconds, but they were the last 35. Taurasi tied the game with a jumper, and Penny Taylor made 4 free throws for the win.

Svetlana Abrosimova (20 points) looked like the only Lynx player who wanted the ball. (Katie Smith took five shots and sank none.) With Minnesota ahead, 53-40, starting point guard Kristi Harrower left the floor for the last time at 10:52; the game belonged to Phoenix after that.

Phoenix improve to 10-11, and have won 7 of 8; Minnesota drop below .500, having lost three in a row.

Phoenix coach Graf: "It looks like we've finally got our team together. We're a totally different team than we were."

Minnesota coach McConnell Serio: "This team has what it takes to get to the playoffs. But not the way it's playing right now."

Friday, July 29, 2005

Pelton and Marshall serve up Orange-and-Oatmeal predictions for the season's final month.
Comets double shot: coach VanChan talks up Tina Thompson's return.

Michelle Snow talks up her psychology degree. Coach Summitt "tricked me into going into psych," Snow says; "she really taught us how to break down the game of basketball, not only how to break it down but how to beat it."
Tonight the Sparks visit Arco Arena and the Western Conference-leading Monarchs.

Ticha Penichiero calls L.A. "probably our biggest rival in the league. So far, we're 1-1 this season. We blew them out, then they blew us out, although we tried to come back. No matter our records or where we play, this would be a big game for both of us."

The Monarchs are still without DeMya Walker; the Sparks list Lisa Leslie, who hurt her knee Tuesday, as day-to-day.
What's wrong with the Lynx? Katie Smith's in an unmistakable slump. She says she's not hurt, but coach McConnell Serio mentions a "nagging foot problem."

Starting point guard Kristi Harrower: ""At times the girls on the bench have noticed [Katie] actually passing up shots when she's open. The girls are telling her to shoot the ball and just keep shooting. She's a great player, and she's been around long enough that she'll turn the corner."

The Lynx are still looking for other perimeter scorers-- or maybe they're not looking hard enough. Harrower: "Hopefully Katie will come back and get some confidence because we really need her. And we need Svet, too. They're both struggling a little bit. We don't win many games without them."

The Lynx host Phoenix tonight, then visit Phoenix twice in the next few weeks. The Mercury remain under .500 but have won six of their last seven. Taurasi: "We have a different vibe. It just feels good for everybody right now."
In DC, the Mystics Alana Beard crushed the Silver Stars. Coming off an ankle injury, Beard scored 27 and snagged 7 steals.

Beard: "My intensity level and my mindset was at a different level tonight. That's where I've been trying to get to the entire season and I finally made it."

Stars coach Dan Hughes: "That was the best performance we've seen this year by anybody."

Marie Ferdinand had to visit Miami to cope with a death in her family: she didn't play last night, and won't play Saturday, but isn't hurt.
Once again the Liberty built a first-half lead over a good team, but couldn't keep it. Down by ten, Connecticut opened last night's second half with an astonishing 26-5 run, holding New York to two points in the first seven minutes with a sticky 2-3 zone.

Unable to run in the first half, Whalen and Sales put speed to work in the second: the Sun racked up 16 fast break points and 11 steals. The Liberty, reliant on three-balls as usual, hit 7-17 to stay within two possessions down the stretch.

After yesterday's last-second loss, the Liberty looked charged-up early, but exhausted late. Becky Hammon: "We need to play 40 minutes."

Whalen says the Sun needed "at least one comeback this year." Asjha Jones: "We learned we can win in all different kinds of ways."

Connecticut stay unbeaten at home. Next up: trash-talking rival Detroit.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Here's a fun interview with Nicole Ohlde.

Nicole earned her K-State degree this spring, and will play in Belgium next winter; she and Vanessa Hayden have a running joke about how "people have trouble telling us apart."

Also, "Amber [Jacobs] is like crazy when she drives." (That's "drives" as in "drives an automobile," not "drives" as in "drives to the hoop.")
Via pilight, some news about former Lynx center and Duke star Michele Van Gorp, who now lives in northeast New York state and runs a basketball camp in Vermont.

Gorp is remembered nationally as the second WNBA player to come out in print, and in Minnesota as an intense defender and an emergency anti-Margo Dydek device.
In New York, the oldest rivalry in the league added a startling chapter. The Liberty played a smooth first half, the Comets a sloppy one; New York took a 13-point lead.

It didn't last. Aided by millions of whistles, but hindered by 65% free throw shooting, Houston ran, pressed, and climbed to a 69-69 tie; with 0.3 seconds left, Michelle Snow's offensive rebound gave Houston the win.

The Liberty looked hurried, and came unglued. (Some might say Coyle got outcoached.) Fan favorite Shameka Christon (4-14) made some big shots, but missed others, among them some mysterious three-point attempts with lots of time on the clock: the Libs will have to improve their collective judgment in order to run with the Sun tonight.

In her third post-childbirth game, Tina Thompson scored 17, finding her way around Liberty posts for layups, and coming back to the court after an ugly (but unintended) elbow to the chest.

Also back after time off, as promised: the Times' Lena Williams. Welcome back, Lena Williams.
After Cynthia Cooper retired in 2000, Liberty fans predicted Houston would not win another WNBA title. The phrase was, "No Coop, No Ring."

Without Michael Cooper at the helm, the Los Angeles Sparks failed to make it out of the first round in the 2004 playoffs. Even with Chamique Holdsclaw joining four other current and former All-Star players, the Sparks have had an underachieving 2005 campaign. Could the "No Coop, No Ring" mantra apply to Los Angeles as well?

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Houston Chronicle's reader representative, James Campbell, defends the Chron's Comets coverage:

"As with all of our sports, we have several Comets fans on staff. We rely a lot on their input.... When the Comets were winning championships, they captivated the city. They made themselves a front-page story every day. Now, for a variety of reasons, that's changed. The interest in the team now isn't what it was then, but it could easily swing back the other way. In the meantime, we'll continue to cover the Comets."

Campbell also wants feedback from Comets fans.

Tonight the Comets visit New York. Will the Times keep its promise tomorrow?
Phoenix: 6-2 with Maria Stepanova, 6-1 with Maria as a starter.
Detroit: 2-7 since Phoenix traded Plenette Pierson to the Shock and made room for Stepanova's return.

Any questions?
Sun fans show some love for Margo Dydek.

Indiana coach Winters on Dydek's role last night: "They played zone 70 percent of the game. She just sits there in the middle and she gets 12 defensive boards, not one offensive board."

Taj McWilliams-Franklin: "I don't care about her offense."
At home and on TV, Phoenix put away the Sparks, leading by more than 20 for much of the second half before a big (8,249) Tuesday night crowd.

Vodichkova sank her first 10 of 11 shots, which apparently gives her a league record for consecutive field goals without a miss.

Leslie hurt her knee while running downcourt with nine minutes left. The team calls it a sprain; she'll have an MRI today.

Teasley did not play (hurt foot). Four of the Sparks' five expected starters (Holdsclaw, Teasley, Dixon, Mabika) have missed at least one game due to injury this year.
Sacramento tends to play low-scoring games because they're a good defensive team. Charlotte plays low-scoring games because they take forever to shoot the ball and have real trouble getting it into the hoop. Last night's game in Sacramento had a predictable result: the Monarchs won by ten and outrebounded the Sting by 12. Yo Griffith scored 20.

Reserve Jia Perkins, the supposed answer to the Sting's scoring woes, played 18 minutes but didn't score at all; McCarville played one.

And in Washington, 16,654 baffled children watched Janeth Arcain score 23 as the Comets zoomed past the Mystics. The visitors hit their highest point total this year and shot over 65%.

Van Chancellor says Houston's triangle offense is working. Mystics coach Adubato: ""We had no answer for them. Arcain could not be stopped. We tried four players on her, and nothing worked."

Comets and Mystics have now exchanged camp day road wins.
Connecticut walloped Indiana to remain undefeated at home. The Sun led by 14 at the half and won by 13.

Thibault credits the Sun's defense: "different kind of zones, traps, different things. Try to keep them off-balance. We did a lot of better things today than the last time we played them.”

Nykesha Sales scored 19, but collided with Kelly Miller and bloodied her lip; she'll have X-rays today.
Silver Stars fans rejoice! Down 7 at the half, San Antonio smoked the visiting Lynx for 48 second-half points. It was the Stars' first win since July 2. Katie Feenstra, in her third start, scored 16. LaToya Thomas played but didn't do much.

Lynx fans grind their teeth. Lynx posts combined shot 17-30; guards and wings shot 10-35 (counting Lovelace as a wing and Mann as a post).

Katie Smith scored 5 and shot 1-5, her third consecutive game below six points, and her eighth in a row below 13: a mysterious foot injury might help explain it.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Having lost 4 of its last 5, Detroit limped into Sacramento last night and got beat down with a 40-point loss. Nicole Powell scored 25 points in 28 minutes for the Monarchs; the Schlock had 24 turnovers and 11 assists.

It was the fourth-largest margin of victory in WNBA history.

"We don't care how tough those bad girls may be," Monarchs coach John Whisenant said. "When we play our defense, the hairs go up on the back of our necks and we're gritting our teeth. When we play defense like that, it creates our offense. And I couldn't be happier."

"We have some issues that we have to solve," coach Laimbeer said. "It comes from everybody on our team looking inside and coming to a conclusion on what we need to get done."
Minnesota lost an ugly one to New York. With Katie Smith shooting 2 for 12 and almost no scoring from the guard or wing positions, the Lynx managed just 47 points, their lowest of the season.

"It was like a standstill." Kristi Harrower said. Sure was.

Lynx COO Roger Griffith, growing increasingly frustrated with the uninspiring product on the floor, is "open to all options," including the nuclear option: trading Katie Smith.
Norman Chad, ESPN poker guru, oh-so-witty:
I realize this is somewhat politically incorrect to say, but I’d watch a seven-on-seven Arena Football scrimmage from a 7-Eleven parking lot before I’d watch a WNBA game from my couch.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Journal-World columnist Bill Mayer says Kansas's violations were nickel and dime, that the old athletic department was too stupid to effectively violate NCAA rules anyway, and that the new athletic department's self-report was a publicity stunt.
CNN Headline News this morning: "Maybe women's sports are getting a little bit too much like men's sports."

Referring to the brief fracas between megastars Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes at the Sparks-Comets game yesterday. Swoopes drove, was fouled, shove, shove, words, words, intervention.

Leslie, conciliatory:
It was just the heat of the moment. I don't know if she realized it, but she pushed me first, so I pushed her back. I told her that we don't need to be out here like this and apologized because I wasn't pushing her to fight.
Swoopes, not conciliatory:
I think she gets to the point where she feels like she can do whatever and nobody is going to do or say anything about it. When the referee didn't take control of it when it happened, I'm not going to back down, so I retaliated.
Sparks won.
Seattle hosted Detroit in a battle of the last two champs. LJ played through pain and racked up 21, 7, and 4. Betty Lennox was money when it counted; she came off a well-designed and well-executed screen to hit the game-winner with 18.1 left.

The coaches were miked up, giving us, the national television audience, a chance to experience Coach Laimbeer's constant harassment of refs and opposing players.

Jayda Evans reports that Bill refused to shake Anne Donovan's hand after the game. Fans say: unfact, maybe.
Phoenix killed San Antonio. "When you shoot 26 percent, you're not going to win games," said Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes.

Indiana killed Charlotte. When you shoot 27 percent, you're not going to win games.

Not going to keep the home fans happy, either.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

From this morning's Charlotte Observer Buzz column, which collects brief, anonymous reader mail:

"To Mr. Tapscott and Mr. Johnson: Players get traded in the WNBA all the time. Is it possible to trade coaches?

"Hey Mr. Johnson, over here, we are the other team ... the Sting ... the one with the talent. Now could we please have a coach?"

The Silver Stars (5-16) have multiple injuries to potential starters (one of whom, Thomas, might return). The Mercury (7-12) struggled with late-arriving players, and perhaps with team chemistry issues as well; the current-model Mercury has won four of their last five. You can argue with some personnel decisions, but there's little reason to think the SASS or the Mercury's records indicate an incompetent coach.

The Sting are now 3-17 and have yet to win a game on the road; they suffer from no major injuries, have made no changes to their starting lineup, and play four of five starters for 29-34 minutes per game. (The fifth, Tammy Sutton-Brown, plays 24.) I can see why the Charlotte organization might not want to install a new head coach right now, but isn't it time for coach-and-GM Trudi Lacey to step down in favor of one of her own assistants? Dee Brown resigned midseason in 2004. Minnesota GM-and-coach Brian Agler fired himself (but remained GM) midway through the lousy Lynx season of 2002; the team has been on the mend since. If Trudi fired herself as coach, but remained GM, she could continue to draw a salary, the franchise would show that it cared about wins and losses, and the Sting could at least get some sort of fresh start.

And this sort of thing just rubs salt in Charlotte's wounds.

Here's Charlotte's contact info. If you do write, be sure to tell them you support the team and the league-- you might even express enthusiasm about the new arena, which, I'm told, might do wonders for attendance there too.
Coming up in a few hours: the 2003 champs face the 2004 champs on national broadcast TV. LJ, who sprained her ankle on Tuesday, will play. As for both games last night:

1. The Sting managed a first-half tie in Connecticut; Sun fans, undefeated at home, turned deathly silent at halftime. Led by Nykesha Sales (21 points) the Sun took over the second half with a 19-4 run and won by ten.

"We were fortunate to survive," said coach Thibault. Lindsay Whalen was even more negative. Carey and Summerton, usually at the end of the Sun bench, got significant minutes: Thibault says they "earned the right to play." Dawn Staley had 15 points and 7 assists, but the Sting's starters played virtually the whole game: no wonder they ran out of gas.

2. The Sacramento Monarchs have lost DeMya Walker for at least a few weeks with her third knee sprain this year. The MRI reveals no ligament damage, but coach Whisenant says he "doubts she'll be back" before the playoffs.

Without Walker, the Monarchs couldn't keep up with New York. Dependent as usual on three-balls, the Liberty shot 8-15 from downtown, with Hammon alone shooting 6-13 (3-6 for three). Yo Griffith (18 points) says New York "hit every shot they could possibly make"; Whisenant calls it "our worst game by far."

For this away game, the New York Times runs just a box score. The Paper of Record has promised real reporting on Liberty games once the Lib come home.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Contrary to popular belief, the official blog squad is not entirely dormant: Doris Burke posts today about Detroit v. Seattle, and Ruth Riley about her ASG experience.
"Blogger," defined:
Term used to describe anyone with enough time or narcissism to document every tedious bit of minutia filling their uneventful lives. Possibly the most annoying thing about bloggers is the sense of self-importance they get after even the most modest of publicity. Sometimes it takes as little as a referral on a more popular blogger's website to set the lesser blogger's ego into orbit.
Truer words never spoken.
At the Baltimore Sun, Milton Kent and Kate Crandall catch up with Mystics owner Sheila Johnson.

Johnson talks about moving on from her "degrading" divorce with Sting owner Bob Johnson.
I'm essentially rebuilding my life. I've been by my ex-husband's side, helping to build a business. I've let him get a lot of credit.

And now, like a lot of women who go through this kind of traumatizing time, you either go one of two ways. You either fold up, shrivel up and disappear or you reinvent yourself and you get out there and keep going. I've never been a shrinking violet. I'm smart, I'm creative and I feel as though I have just as much to offer as I always have. Why should I fade into the woodwork? The opportunities are presented to me, and I am going for it.
Three games yesterday --

1. With 26 trips to the line and 5 players in double figures, the Lib took down the Mercury, ending Phoenix's four-game win streak. “We didn't get the job done today at all,” said Taurasi.

The paper of record, despite its recent repentence, is silent.

2. Indiana beat San Antonio despite Catchings's 1 for 11 night.

Jurgita Streimikyte remains hot; the Fever are 4-1 since she entered the starting lineup. "Now I feel more comfortable," she said. "I just got back confidence in myself... I tried to play my game, what I played overseas, what I played the last two years."

3. Tina Thompson returned in time for Kids' Day at the Toyota Center, but her return may have done more harm than good. Says one Comets fan via email: "Let's just say she's not in gameshape." Houston lost.

"I don't really think (the players) knew what to expect," said Sheryl Swoopes. "We looked very unorganized and very confused at times instead of just going out and playing basketball."
From the mailbag:
re your blurb on Thursday about Kansas's Perkins and "FOIA." Your FOIA link is to the federal Freedom of Information Act, which is not applicable to a non-federal entity like Kansas University. You probably meant to link to the Kansas Open Records Act, a summary of which can be found here.

I don't have the time at the moment to read the Act and see if anything would undermine what Perkins said (e.g, whether there are any privacy exceptions that might apply), but the Act does not require a public entity to create a record that doesn't exist.
Via Stever, Coach Thibault tells Mike DiMauro that Laimbeer has no class.

Thibault also says the whole thing had nothing to do with Deanna Nolan's classless unguarded shot as time ran out.
Everyone, even in the AP story, thinks there was an altercation. There was a disagreement. A lot of people think it was because of Nolan's shot . It wasn't. It was uncalled for, but irrelevant to his discussion with me. He came over as I went to shake hands and said something to me.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Current MVP Candidate Efficiency ratings —

ACC Efficiency Formula:

Jackson — 1.11
Holdsclaw — 1.02
Swoopes — 1.01
McWilliams — 0.99
Catchings — 0.98

Prouty Rating:

McWilliams — 0.471
Swoopes — 0.469
Catchings — 0.455
Jackson — 0.453
Holdsclaw — 0.439
Via Carol Anne, video of Baylor's trip to the White House.

Said Sophia Young: "Me and my teammates had a great time..." (Nails on a chalkboard.)
At Kansas, AD Lew Perkins explains why the school's NCAA report included the names of coaches including Roy Williams and Lynette Woodard: the disclosure would have been forced by a FOIA request anyway.

Perkins also says he's willing to amend the report.
If Lynette called me today and said I want that put in the report ‘I did not do that,' it'd be in there in two seconds. If Lynette called and says, ‘Lew that's wrong I did not transport anybody,' I call Rick [Eward, enforcement officer] and Rick calls the NCAA and says we want to amend the deal with Lynette. I'll do it today, tomorrow, yesterday.
A local radio station reported yesterday that Woodard is planning on suing the University.
The SF Chron picks up the Bento-Jackson story, examining the conflict within the Santa Clara squad.
Via pilight, Stickney wonders about the Comets' dwindling attendance. The move to the Toyota Center hasn't helped.
Detroit beat Connecticut. Laimbeer and Thibault had words after the game. Dave Goricki describes what happened:
Thibault was upset that Nolan took, and made, an uncontested three-point shot with 3.2 seconds left. Laimbeer could be overheard by media members, telling Thibault: "Just beat us next time then." Thibault countered with profanity.

"They didn't guard her (Nolan), and she took the shot," Laimbeer said. "He (Thibault) called me some four-letter words and I called him a name you don't want to hear. No one feels sorry for the Detroit Shock, so why should we care about anyone else?"

Said Thibault: "Coach Laimbeer showed his true colors. His normal personality came right back out after the game. I said 'good job' and he responded with something else. All I know is that if someone says 'good job' to me, I thank them and leave the court."

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

President Bush to the Baylor Bears: "I know I'm supposed to be working hard, but I watched you. And I was really impressed."
David McCoy at the MN Daily wonders why Lindsay Whalen got a "surprisingly subdued" reception in her second trip to the Target Center.

“I don’t think it was just a lack of interest in Lindsay,” says Shannon Schonrock, current Lynx intern and former Gopher teammate. “I just think the WNBA, in general, has a hard time drawing sometimes because it’s summertime, and it’s just a hard time of year where people want to be outside and probably doing other things.”
Nancy Lieberman on Temeka Johnson's improbable rookie success.
The criminal incident with Laydrillia Grant is the second such incident involving a UNC women's basketball player in the last two years.

Before the 2003-2004 season, Chrystal Baptist was chaged with felony possession of stolen goods/property and was kicked off the UNC squad. She transferred to Shaw University, where she had a pretty successful senior campaign.

Laydrillia Grant, a redshirt freshman for the UNC women's basketball team, is scheduled to appear in court on August 22 on charges of misdemeanor larceny and misdemeanor possession of stolen goods or property. The case is being heard in Orange County court in North Carolina (where Chapel Hill is located). Grant's UNC teammate, Meghan Austin reported a pair of $150 Nike Air Jordans stolen in April. Grant turned herself in at the UNC Public Safety Building on May 18. UNC spokeswoman Dana Gelin said Grant has been suspended from all team activities and her status with the team "is pending." Grant, however, is currently listed on UNC's 2005-2006 roster.

The Comets moved within a game of the first-place Monarchs last night with a 58-54 win at the Compaq Center.

Houston looked like they had the game sealed up midway through the second half with an 18-point lead. "I don't think we handled the pressure," said Kara Lawson of the Comets' tough defense.

With seven minutes remaining, however, the Monarchs had narrowed the gap to nine, and a Nicole Powell three-pointer brought them as close as 2 with about a minute left on the clock. "I had a deja vu when she hit that 3," said Michelle Snow. Back in June, back-to-back threes from Powell helped Sacramento steal a win from Houston at Arco Arena.

Clutch free-throw shooting kept Houston ahead this time around. "When (Sacramento) got back into the game, we knew we were in a real fight,'' said coach Van Chancellor. "I am really proud of what this team has done.''
Responding to their hysterical overreaction, Kansas associate AD Jim Marchiony said that the school's NCAA report was not meant as an attack on Marian Washington and Lynette Woodard.
There have been no better representatives of the University of Kansas than those two on several different levels. Marian is literally one of the great pioneers in sports. We were blessed to have her at KU for three decades.

Lynette is one of the great basketball players of all time. She played with class and is a great ambassador for the university.

We will never believe Lynette Woodard or Marian Washington would knowingly break an NCAA rule.
Marchiony explained that as an NCAA member institution, the school was simply required to report the violations it discovered during its investigation.
The Lynx beat Indiana with surprising ease.

"It's a great sign that we can respond and recover from the beating we took on Sunday," coach McConnell Serio said. "We just got spanked."

Tim Leighton suggests that with the arrival of Tyger Lewis, there's a point guard controversy brewing. Everyone affiliated with the Lynx denies it.
For the first time in its franchise history, Washington scored a win in LA. DeLisha Milton-Jones was calmer than when she met her old team in DC; she finished with 15 and 7.

"My emotions were in check this time," she said. "First time around I was fresh off a plane from Spain, didn't know [her teammates], didn't know the offense. My body wasn't even here yet. And then I had to play a team like L.A. They got us in Washington. This time we were prepared physically, mentally, and me emotionally."

The Sparks have slipped to 10-9. Lisa Leslie planned a players-only meeting to rally the troops.

"We have to define our season today. People want to probably look at our coaches and all that, but a lot of it is effort," she said. "We have a team of all-stars, so we have to find another way to do this. It is not going to be Lisa's show or Chamique's show. We have done that already. We have to find a way to win together."
Two heavyweights battled last night in Toyota Center in a defensive struggle won by the Houston Comets, 58-54, over the visiting Monarchs. Sacramento had the Comets on the ropes early and late, but after trailing 11-5 the Comets went on a 19-2 run and held on in the second half.

"In the last 5 minutes, it felt like I was playing them (the Monarchs) for the championship, and when they got (the lead) down, we got into a fight," Houston coach Van Chancellor said after the game.

"They came out with a lot of intensity which we expected coming into their place," Monarchs guard Kara Lawson said.

"We haven't played a team this year we haven't forced into double-digit turnovers," Sacramento's John Whisenant said. "That's how we create shots when we're having a hard shooting night like tonight." The Comets turned the ball over only nine times.

The Comets cut the Monarchs conference lead in half and trail by just one game in the West.
The Sting put up a good fight for 34 minutes yesterday before unraveling in a 64-55 loss against the visiting Sun. Charlotte had a six-point lead with about six minutes remaining, but would go on to score just one additional field goal on 1 for 10 shooting. First-place Connecticut, meanwhile, came up with 17.

"We were in it the whole game," said Tammy Sutton-Brown. "But we know if we keep working and playing hard, things are going to fall our way.'' ...Or not. Trudi Lacey thinks her team is making progress, despite having only won twice in the last two months. She says the answer is as simple as learning how to "close out games." ...Or not.
What is it about the Storm that makes the Liberty collapse? Last night's game in Seattle was close for the first eight minutes or so. Then, tied at 20, Loree Moore had two quick turnovers that produced 5 quick points for Seattle. Becky Hammon came off the bench, only to have Betty Lennox draw her third foul, sending her right back to the sidelines. Hammon watched as the Storm then embarrassed her team with a 17-0 run.

"We were all over them tonight," said Iziane Castro Marques, who had 20 points on 7 for 10 shooting. "They didn't have time to breathe." Indeed, the Libs could hardly keep up with the Storm on either end of the court in the first half. They caught a break in the second, though, when Lauren Jackson went down with a sprained ankle. A 20-3 run brought New York within seven points, but the Libs couldn't inch any closer.

Once again, Patty Coyle's prowess is being questioned by fans. Why didn't she call a time-out during the Storm's first-half run? Why did she leave scrub Erin Thorn in the game during the final few minutes, when Shameka Christon had been getting the job done? Why did Washington native Cathrine Kraayeveld see any PT at all?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

From Covers.com:
The situation in Detroit is desparate. The Detroit Shock are 2-8 in their last ten and positive energy around the team is about as easy to come by lately as a hit record by Kid Rock.
Marian Washington said that she and Lynette Woodard would hold a news conference yesterday or today to refute allegations of NCAA rule violations under their watch at Kansas.

Now they're changing their tune a bit, saying they'll wait till they've "researched" the matter.

“We are actually going to do our own research on this whole thing and have a release or press conference,” Washington said yesterday. “Lynette will be able to speak to things once we are very clear as to what has happened. She has a lawyer. Everything will happen through her lawyer.”
Coach Laimbeer watch: Neither the Detroit News nor the Detroit Free Press mentions Bill as a potential replacement for Larry Brown.
Charlotte is floundering in a variety of ways, but corporate sponsorships are up.

Today at noon the Sting host the Sun. Someone named "Lyndsay Whaley" will apparently be playing. (Hat tip, gopher5.)
In an astonishing article in the Tacoma News Tribune yesterday, a bunch of folks wondered out loud what the devil LA was thinking when it hired Henry Bibby as head coach.

“I was a little bit (surprised) – I didn’t even know he was interested,” said Sun coach Mike Thibault. “I’ve coached against him before in the CBA, and I don’t know – it’s LA.”

“Yes (it seemed like an unusual choice) – he hadn’t coached women, he hadn’t coached professionally, I mean it just seemed like an interesting jump,” said Seattle coach Anne Donovan. "I really don’t want to say a whole lot more.”

Monday, July 18, 2005

Over at Full Court, Clay Kallam visits another elite summer prep tournament and again finds players exhausted by grueling schedules whose demands have little to no bearing on college play.

He's also posted a sort of prose ode to Katie Smith (in the subscribers-only part of the site): "one of the finest three-point shooters of this generation (career mark of 38.5%, on 1,670 attempts)," Katie "can also score on the drive and with the pullup. Her shooting percentage in Minnesota has not been spectacular, primarily because she has pretty much been the team‘s only offensive weapon -- and everyone knows it."
Coach Laimbeer expressed interest in the Sonics job, but it looks like that ship has sailed. (Still waiting for Larry Brown.)

Laimbeer's relentless attempts to intimidate WNBA refs seem to be getting less and less effective. Would that strategy have any success at all in the NBA, which is actually officiated by experienced, qualified, and competent referees?

UPDATE: Marc Stein (who tends to be right about these things) says Larry Brown is gone. But he also reports that former Wolves coach Flip Saunders is the leading replacement candidate.

Will Dumars and the Pistons consider Bill for the job? Or will he face the same treatment that Michael Cooper got from the Lakers?
Good news this afternoon from Kristin Huckshorn, deputy sports editor at the New York Times, as she responds to reader mail: "You are right, we fell down on the job on the Liberty of late. Last week we were really jammed with other major events. The Liberty is on the road this week and we'll use wires and then have someone back with them after that."

Sometimes letter-writing campaigns do help. When Lena Williams (or whoever it is) comes back, tell the NYT you're glad to see her. And consider thanking the Seattle Times for not only covering the Storm pretty well, but sending their Storm reporter, Jayda Evans, to away games.

Newspapers put resources where they believe readers want them: if we want better coverage for our league, we ought to let newspapers know.
And in other unhappy news from the college hoops world, Kansas on Friday released a report detailing NCAA rules violations in women's basketball. The report pins most of the blame on Tim Eatman, but Marian Washington and Hall of Famer Lynette Woodard took at hit as well.

Washington and Woodard have angrily denied the allegations.
Yesterday Sean Webby and Elliott Almond at the San Jose Mercury News broke a troubling story about Santa Clara head coach Michelle Bento-Jackson and her husband.

The University plans to fire Bento-Jackson amid allegations that she tyrannized her players and that her husband sexually harassed them.

Just days after the season ended in a first-round NCAA loss to Stanford, senior Quinn Thomas wrote a letter to administrators describing a pattern of abuse and harassment. "Personally, I am glad to be free from the tyranny of Coach Michelle Bento and her husband," she said.

Though some players continue to support Bento-Jackson, nine others came down on Thomas's side.

The University has given Bento-Jackson time to contest the action before making it final.
Shoe companies discover girls' AAU and high school teams. (Still no sneaker deal for Betty Lennox.)
Via pilight, a neat profile of second-round draft pick and promising Phoenix rookie Angelina Williams: "I know that I have to take advantage of every moment I have. I'll just wait my turn to get out there and play."

Williams and Tan Smith graduated from the same Chicago high school.
Houston beat Charlotte. Swoopes scored 20, Snow 17, Arcain 14. Charlotte led at halftime before Swoopes took over.

One neat stat for the Sting: almost 8,000 fans showed up. At this point the team have almost no chance to make the playoffs, and it looks like Trudi will finish out the year: send your nominations for 2006 head coach and/or general manager to the Sting right here.
Why are Detroit below .500? Coach Laimbeer has said it's the officiating, but they're also the worst in the league at the line. The Shock made 16 of 26 (61%) free throw attempts at home yesterday and lost to Indiana by one point.

But wait: Cheryl Ford-- perhaps the league's worst free-throw shooter-- actually made 8 of 9 freebie attempts. Tan White missed two game-sealing free throws for Indiana, but the Fever managed to rebound and hold the ball.

Maybe the problem isn't free throws, but turnovers: Detroit committed 24. Laimbeer was laconic: "we're not getting it done."

Catchings (21 points) appears to have ended her slump. Fever coach Winters: "We went to overtime with them in our first win, and we've gone to the wire with them twice in the past three days. We have to feel good about beating another good team three times in a row."
Only two forces can stop Minnesota center Vanessa Hayden this year: referees' whistles, and Margo Dydek of the Connecticut Sun. Yesterday Dydek reduced Hayden to miserable 1-10 shooting: the Lynx as a whole scored just 20 points in the paint. Dydek "bothered everybody," her coach said.

Connecticut won in a rout. Minnesota reduced a nine-point halftime deficit to seven behind rough defense from Amanda Lassiter and tight rebounding from Hayden, but when Hayden and Lassiter left the game Connecticut again became unstoppable, inflating their lead to 23 before 9,011 fans, many of them there to see Lindsay Whalen. Svetlana Abrosimova did not play (back spasms).

Coach McConnell Serio: "We haven't gotten any better than the last time we played them. It's disappointing we weren't able to compete and make it a better game."

Dydek scored 17, a season high. For the Lynx, Katie Smith scored 11 points early, then missed everything, ending up 3-14. It was the sixth consecutive game in which Smith has scored fewer than 13.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Lindsay Whalen returns to Minnesota this evening on national TV.

Last year she drew a franchise-record crowd, but many of them were little kids on Camp Day. Minnesota expects good attendance today, but nothing like 2004's packed house. I'll be quite happy if we break 10K. The matchup got pushed off the Star-Tribune sports front page-- and out of the Pioneer Press entirely-- by men's golf.

Lindsay herself will apparently do local TV tonight.
Down by one at halftime, the Monarchs nonetheless beat the Mystics going away, holding the visitors to 59. Coach Whisenant: "Defense is what makes us a championship contender. It's what sets us apart."

Washington has played three road games in four nights, with two more coming up.
With league-leading scorer Chamique Holdsclaw and Tameka Dixon unable to play (strained hamstring and sore knee, respectively), you might not think Los Angeles would be able to hang with Seattle, not even at home before 10,151 loud fans.

You'd be wrong: both teams played speedy, sloppy and physical, Mabika and Leslie kept the game close for a while, L.A. cut a late 16-point deficit to just four, and if Leslie had made more free throws (or Mabika more three-pointers) her Sparks might have won.

Instead, Seattle got back to .500, compensating for their 18 turnovers by making 9 of 17 three-point attempts, playing smart zone, capitalizing on early L.A. mistakes, and using their bench to keep their starters energetic. Lauren Jackson scored 20. "We've been looking to try to play like this for a long time now," she said.

Coach Bibby doesn't get it: "I applaud the ladies, they're working hard. But we're not completely healthy. We've got to go with what we have."

But he and GM Penny Toler are responsible for what they have: a team of sometimes superb, but expensive, veterans who want to play fast, hard and loose, with exactly two players (as of last night) to spell them if they get hurt, get tired, or foul out. Does he regret waiving every draft pick this year, or waiving Grubin afterwards? Did he follow the Sparks last year, when the same thing happened? (Will the newly-signed J-Mo help out?)

Holdsclaw says she'll play in DC Tuesday. Lisa Leslie (8-14 from the floor, 3-9 from the stripe) gets it: "Having eight or nine players consistently all year is not enough."

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Either Lena Williams is on a really, really long vacation, or the New York Times has finally forsaken the Liberty. The Times even failed to carry the AP story on last night's home loss in its print edition, though you can find it online.

Last week, John Eligon covered the All-Star Game with an article on Queens native Chamique Holdsclaw's comeback from depression. There's no hint in this piece that New York even has a team, and that it sent two players to the game, though Taj McWilliams-Franklin's tearful reunion with her husband gets a mention.

Don't just send your complaints to the sports desk; write a letter to the editor. When the most respected newspaper in one of the WNBA's largest markets gives up on its team, it's a problem for the whole league, not just local fans.
A Kentucky paper devotes a neat story to rec league: "My jump shot comes and goes, but it still feels good to be out there."
Connecticut won at home. It was by no means easy: the Comets repeatedly closed to within one point, but Taj McWilliams-Franklin came up with a rebound and a basket to seal the game.

As in their loss to New York, the Comets were led by Swoopes (21 points) and Michelle Snow, who didn't get much help (though Arcain scored 14). Snow: "We just weren't playing defense in the first half. We had to play catch-up and it cost us the game."

For the Sun, Kool Keesh scored 22, and Asjha Jones had a big game. Coach Thibault: ""We needed to play in a game like this where you have to defend in the last minute, make plays."
Via Stever, Kristin Haynie on life as a Monarch: "It's great too, because you don't have to worry about school, but I also like the fact that you just go to the gym and work out for two hours and that's your work day. You have the whole rest of the day to yourself. It's a great summer job, if you ask me. I can't complain."

Haynie also zings Nikki Teasley, gives props to her busloads of "Haynieac" fans in Michigan, thanks her grandparents, and explains why she won't play overseas this year.
Another Shock loss, another round of complaints by Bill Laimbeer about the refs: "The double standard of refereeing the Shock continues and it (stinks)." Are you sure that's the problem, coach?

The Fever were out-shot and out-rebounded, but still managed to come up with the 62-57 win at home. Something to do with the 23 Shock turnovers, perhaps?

Some folks think Tan White, "the human highlight reel", already has the ROY award locked up. Tan didn't have a great stat line last night, but unlike other potentially impressive rookies, she's actually playing and winning.
With Diana Taurasi unavailable (day-to-day; sore knee), Penny Taylor led the Mercury to a home win over the Mystics. Taylor racked up a season-high 31 points. Midseason import Maria Stepanova had 17.

Stepanova could return to Russia before the WNBA playoffs. Right now, though, the Mercury just want to make those playoffs; they've won four in a row, but are still four games under .500.
In Seattle, the San Antonio Silver Stars kept the game close for 32 minutes, then fell apart. The home team scored 92 points and won by 20. Lauren Jackson had 27, Sue Bird 19 points and 7 assists.

Pelton on his Storm: "The smiles are returning to their faces." Sue Bird: "We had a lot of fun out there."

Tonight the Storm visit L.A.
Vanessa Hayden last night showed that while Ann Wauters may have been bulking up recently, she's still got a lot of work to do. Hayden repeatedly punished the Liberty in the paint, finishing the night with 14 points, 9 rebounds and 5 -- yes, five -- blocked shots. The Lynx improved their dismal road record to 3 and 7 with the 64-60 win in NY.

Plagued by bouts of really poor shot selection, the Liberty managed just 43% from the field -- a full 10 percent lower than Lynx, but a surmountable deficit if it hadn't been for yet another evening of lax rebounding. The Lynx beat the Libs on the boards 33 to 20. I'm not a professional basketball player, so I'm not really qualified to judge, but isn't rebounding a basic part of the job description?

Katie Smith, coming off her 5,000 career point, was frustrated by Crystal Robinson for most of the first half, but managed to sink the big shots, as she always does, to keep the Lynx ahead. Svetlana Abrosimova didn't match her jaw-dropping 100% shooting performance on Wednesday, but she did come up with 11 points and 5 assists.

The Liberty repeatedly failed to get the defensive stops they needed to keep the game close when they were behind, and finally to pull ahead when they had managed to tie at 58 with two minutes remaining. While Becky Hammon has improved her defense markedly, and is now second only to Tamika Catchings in steals per game, she still has trouble stopping shooters. "I think that our defense just wasn't that great tonight," observed Robinson. "Our defense has to be better."

After most losses this season, Patty Coyle has called out her team on a seeming lack effort, often with good results. But Coyle's critique might have finally backfired. Responding to her coach's complaint last night, Robinson was stern: "If that's how she feels, that's how she feels, but I'm not talking about a lack of effort." Uh, oh.

Next up, the Lynx return to Minnesota to face the Sun. The Liberty, meanwhile, will start their own four-game road trip with a visit to Seattle.

Friday, July 15, 2005

San Antonio visit Seattle, where the defending champs are two games under .500. The mood in the Northwest seems to be: if our team can't even win this one...

Jayda Evans discusses the team's lack of veterans. Jackson and Bird are just 24, Betty Lennox may not have the right personality, and Tully, Vodichkova, and Sheri are gone. Coach Donovan had to cut high-profile veterans for salary cap reasons... but did she cut the right ones?

Pelton breaks down the Storm's defense, which looks broken-down compared to last year: Storm opponents get held to 41% shooting (Wednesday's game notwithstanding), but Seattle is no longer forcing turnovers or getting steals at anywhere near last year's rate.
After three weeks and three days with just three games, the Indiana Fever will now play six games in 11 days. Game two of that stretch takes place tonight. Fever coach Brian Winters: "I like the games, maybe not every other day, but at least a little closer together. I don't like the long down time. No matter what you do in practice, you can't simulate the energy of a game."

The Comets visit Connecticut. Michelle Snow says she learned from her All-Star game. Houston has won six of its last seven. Connecticut still boasts the league's best record, but has now dropped two in a row.

Brooke Wycoff calls Wednesday's collapse in Indianapolis "the worst game we've ever played"; Katie Douglas dubs it "one of the ugliest." Connecticut coach Thibault, very unhappy: "We haven't gotten better in the last week. We've regressed."

Also tonight, the Lynx visit New York. The Lynx are 7-1 at home, but 2-7 on the road.
Thirteen minutes into a day game against San Antonio, Yo Griffith collided with a moving Pee Wee Johnson, got whistled, and mouthed off to the ref. Ticha Penichiero rushed over and covered Yo's mouth with her hand, but it was too late: the All-Star center got the boot. It was the first ejection in Griffith's career.

With Yo out, the Silver Stars-- not known for their boards-- outrebounded the Monarchs. Wendy Palmer-Daniel scored 20. Stars coach Dan Hughes: "I'm not sure I've ever seen Wendy play better."

Sacramento won anyway. Kara Lawson made three three-pointers; DeMya Walker shot 3-15 from the floor, but 5-6 from the stripe. Ex-Monarchs Anderson and Campbell, now in Silver Stars uniforms, got applause from Sacramento fans.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Tired of being jerked around as a backup candidate, Coach Laimbeer has pulled out of contention for the Knicks job.

He says he wants to focus his attention on the sub-.500 Shock... but he also says he might throw his hat in the ring for the Sonics job. (What would Kevin Pelton say?)

Meanwhile, the world waits for Larry Brown.
This is a little late, but I just wanted to let you all know that I am back home and healthy again. After spending additional 5 days and 4 nights in the hospital with what turned out to be a uterine infection, I was able to come home to Ted (who probably earned father of the year in the first week of parenthood) and Evie last Thursday. Thanks to everyone for your kind emails and concern - they are truly appreciated.

Now that I am home and on the mend, all I have to do is figure out what this little munchkin wants when she cries. So far the "I am hungry", "I am poopy", "I am sleepy", and "I am just crabby" cries all sound the same. I hope we can figure it out soon!

Thanks again to everyone.
KT45K! KT45K! KT45K! KT45K!

Katie Smith needed eleven points to become the first player in women's basketball history with 5,000 professional points. She scored exactly eleven as her team beat Detroit before almost 13,000 announced spectators, many of them day-camp kids at a noontime game.

Hassled and outmuscled early on, the Lynx switched to zone and let the Shock (19 turnovers) wear itself out. Detroit's intense attention to Katie left other perimeter scorers open. Svetlana Abrosimova had a career game: 8-8 from the floor, 22 points, 3 steals (but 6 turnovers-- not unusual), and 5-5 in three-pointers, including a first-half buzzer-beater that gave the Lynx the lead. "It was a good day; I didn't force anything," she said.

Smith looked less than aggressive until the game's final minutes; arguably the league's best shooter-- and one of its most unselfish stars-- scored points number 4,999 and 5,000 by driving, then making an unlikely off-balance arc. Katie: "I was angry because I didn't get a foul called. I wasn't thinking about the 5,000. I was bumped -- and lucky I hit the shot."

Minutes earlier she made her only three-pointer, shot with a hand in her face, with one second on the shot clock, after she recovered a bobbled ball. "We were still in it until Katie knocked down that big three-pointer," Shock coach Laimbeer said.

Katie downplayed her landmark: "It's great, but let's play ball. In the big scheme of it, it's really just a number....I think later it will have a better meaning."

Nicole Ohlde: "That's Katie, just worrying about the win."
Lisa Leslie is getting married. The groom, Michael Lockwood, played basketball for the Air Force Academy and now flies airplanes for UPS.

Leslie, not yet punk'd: "My mom and my sister are totally like the wedding planners from hell. We could have just eloped, but my mom would have had a heart attack."
Spotlight on zebras: the Atlanta Journal-Constitution profiles former Lady Vol star and second-year college ref Dawn Marsh. "You've got to go to camps, get in the weight room, get on the treadmill, hit the pavement. You've got to be in good shape. Kids today, it's amazing how tall they are. They're faster and stronger, and as a referee you have to be at your peak."

Via Queenie, an interview with WNBA (and NCAA) zebra Bryan Enterline: "Every year we get older and these players stay the same age or within a few years. Staying in shape is everything." Enterline also owns a landscaping company.
In Seattle, the Mystics beat up the Storm-- literally: DeLisha Milton-Jones got T'd up in the first half, grabbed Sue Bird's shoulder in the second, made contact with Bird's mask, and later caused Bird to land on her face. Charlotte Smith-Taylor picked up a flagrant (for grabbing Lauren Jackson's head); Milton-Jones never did.

Bird sounds almost fatalistic: "I've been playing against her for four years and if you ask anybody, they would probably pin her as one of the dirtiest [players] in the league. It's just how she plays. You come to expect it.""

Bird scored 16, all in the second half, and Izzy Castro-Marques managed 19 (a career high) but it wasn't enough as the Storm blew a second-half lead, allowing the Mystics to shoot 59%. Betty Lennox says "we're not going to win if we don't get our swagger back." Bird, Castro-Marques and coach Donovan say what their team really needs is some defense.

Phoenix demolished the Sting. The Mercury shot over 58% from the floor: the Big Three (DeForge, Taurasi, Taylor) accomplished an even more impressive 19-28. For Charlotte, Jia Perkins-- a second-year player with a remarkable history-- scored 21.

Phoenix have now won three in a row with Stepanova and without Pierson. On the other hand, wins against San Antonio, Charlotte, and Seattle (soon after the Storm's exhausting 0-4 road trip) may not tell you how Phoenix will handle the league's best teams.