Women's Hoops Blog: April 2006

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Sunday, April 30, 2006

The WNBA has compressed this year's schedule in order to minimize the disruption caused by September's World Championship in Brazil. Each team still plays 34 games, but the regular season ends on August 13.

The compressed season will affect every team's performance: with more back-to-back games, fatigue becomes more of a factor, and teams with deep benches should benefit. But it will be especially weird for L.A.

1. The Sparks almost always open their season with a slew of road games, in order to minimize the disruption caused by the Lakers (and, this year, the Clippers) in the NBA postseason.

2. The X Games take place at the Staples Center August 3-6, and might need a few days to move their stuff in and then out.

3. In consequence, the 2006 Sparks play a really strange schedule: they start with six road games, then play 14 out of 15 at home (the exception, Sacramento, requires no plane ride), and later play eight road games in a row.

Will the long homestand help L.A. more than the long road trips hurt? Board Junkies-- including some Sparks fans-- consider the madness. (Special informative thanks to OrangeKrush and Icey.)
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette features 3 articles investigating Jennifer Harris' lawsuit against Rene Portland, leading with the front page story, 'Penn State's 'Mommy Coach' a Bigot?.

'How a Promising Hoops Career Turned Sour' examines Harris' playing days at Penn State, including a recruiting visit that augured storm clouds ahead.

In the third article, the P-G staffers talk to a player from the '82 team who says she suffered the same way Harris did.
Kendra Wecker recovers from yet another injury. "I'm antsy," she says. "And I'm tired of all this not playing business." (Via Stever.)
The Norwich Bulletin takes a long look at Lindsay's rehab. Right now she's allowed to shoot, but has to relearn how to run; she's still at 50-50 for opening day.

Trainer Jen Brodeur: "I would much rather work with an athlete that you have to hold back, than an athlete that you have to convince to do something. But it is hard because, at some point, you've just got to say, 'Hey. We've got a little time ahead of us. We can't treat your body like it's invincible.' And she is learning a little bit."

Without Lindsay, and with Derevjanik still overseas, Jamie Carey has become the main point guard as the Sun scrimmage, sometimes against men. Carey: "They're more athletic, they're quicker; they get to the ball faster. Any time that you can put situations that might be tougher into practice than what you might see in a game, you're going to improve."

Saturday, April 29, 2006

The New York Times brings back the warm and fuzzies of Liberty seasons of yore. I remember those days, albeit with a slightly different slant. (I do recall Liberty fans occasionally booing the team, and I'm a proud Debbie Black fan.)

New York Newsday has an AP article on the Sun's effect on their local schools.

Epiphanny Prince was honored in Knoxville today for her record-setting 113 points. She's off to Rutgers after this June; let's see how her offense meshes with the intense RU defense.
NCLR Sports Project Director Helen Carroll presented the Spirit Award to Olympic gold medalist and WNBA Most Valuable Player Sheryl Swoopes at the NCLR's 29th anniversary gala.

Olympic gold medalist and WNBA star Natalie Williams presented the Justice Award to JMU basketball player Jennifer Harris, “in recognition of her courage to challenge a 25-year legacy of institutionalized bigotry at Penn State.”
L.A. GM Penny Toler champions Michael Abraham-- once her coach at Cal State-Northridge, then imprisoned on drug charges, and now an assistant with the Sparks.

Abraham: "Honestly, I think I'll always be known as the drug-dealer coach... but that's my reality."

Toler: "I hope that if I ever messed up, someone would be willing to give me a second chance." (Via Pilight.)
More from Seattle on the mess over whether the Storm, and the Sonics, will go or stay.
Texas A&M guard Toccara Williams set the Big XII record for steals. Last year the Silver Stars cut her after she came down with walking pneumonia in training camp.

This year she told the Storm that she wouldn't try out for the league, but would stay home to care for her grandmother. Then Seattle called again: now she's coming.

Coach Donovan: "She can stick with the ball-handler, she's big enough to put extreme pressure on the ball and gives Sue some minutes on the bench or at the two position."

Williams: "I've never heard of a team calling back."
The all-decade ballots give the Comets seven nominees. Van reflects on Houston's illustrious history: "After the Comets tried to hire every coach in America and three overseas, they finally hired me in 1997. But I've said this often, that did not bother me because I was not in my mother-in-law's top 10 choices.

"But with that in mind, I got here, and I'd never seen Cynthia Cooper play. I knew a little bit (about) Sheryl, I had never heard of Janeth Arcain. And what a pleasant surprise."

Friday, April 28, 2006

Clay's FCP preseason profile of the Shock is now up (subscription required).

Some Shock fans lamented before the start of training camp about the lack of back court depth and not enough players being brought in.

But there is a reason for it.

According to Laimbeer, league rules require that a player hurt in training camp be counted against a team's salary cap all season. So if a rookie with not much of a chance of making the team gets hurt, this could force him to cut a veteran player he would rather keep. The team is still looking for guard depth, but will wait to see who shows up on the waiver wire in late May.
Here are the 30 nominees for the WNBA All-Decade team. The bios of each player can be read here. Fans debate the list here and here. Voting begins later today on wnba.com
The newest class of honorees will be inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend.

Three of the players being inducted - Clarissa Davis-Wrightsil, Janice Lawrence Braxton and Katrina McClain Johnson all came of age during the 1980s. Voepel looks back with fond personal memories of the three players.

Geno's former players are feeling a great sense of pride for their coach's honor. CSTV's Jessica Garrison says the storytelling session later today (especially for Geno) should be entertaining.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

University spokesperson Bill Mahon termed a 'mob' a group of twenty-to-forty Penn State students who marched to the president's offices to present a list of demands, including the dismissal of embattled women's basketball coach Rene Portland.

The students staged a brief sit-in after being denied access to President Graham Spanier's normally open offices. Spanier has been under fire for his handling of PSU's findings against Portland.

An out-of-town Spanier said in an e-mail that his doors were locked because of the students' threatening behaviors, such as use of a bullhorn and rattling of doors. Penn State University Police Assistant Director Tyrone Parham said although the group was loud, there were no incidents or disturbances.

WJAC-TV's website has video coverage of the demonstration.
Comets coach Van Chancellor, the only coach to be with the league all ten seasons, signed a one-year contract extension.

Two players who have impressed Chancellor in camp so far are Roneeka Hodges and Mistie Williams.

Another player, secondy year center Sancho Lyttle, is recovering ahead of schedule from an ACL tear she suffered last fall.
Playing for her third different team in the last three seasons, Wendy Palmer-Daniel has effortlessly stepped into a leadership role with the Storm.

According to coach Anne Donovan: "She's such a solid person. She brings everything to the table that I thought she would as an experienced player, a hungry player. She's a veteran who's got poise and the ability to really have good chemistry with all the younger kids and the older players as well. Everything we had hoped for is already starting to pay dividends."

Palmer-Daniel's new teammate, Lauren Jackson, has been limited the first week of practice with injuries. Unfortunately, this is not something new for Jackson. Yet, Jackson continues to be motivated not only for the chance to earn a paycheck but also because of her love of the game.

In other Storm news, Shaun Gortman returned to practice, Lindsay Taylor reported to camp, and Barbara Turner dazzled in a scrimmage.
Nykesha Sales talks about her first experience playing overseas in the off-season.

Sales normally prefers to train down in Florida during this time, but decided to take a chance since she had the option to leave around Christmas. The decision paid off as Sales led her Czech team to its first EuroLeague title and she was named MVP of the game.
Check out wnba.com later today for the 30 nominees and the chance to vote for the WNBA All-Decade team. The team will be announced at the All-Star Game in New York on July 12.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

In updates from other individual team sites on players and training camp:

Tangela Smith is coming off a solid individual offensive season in 2005, but is looking for the Sting come up with more wins this season.

The Sun introduce rookie Marita Payne.

The Fever sit down with Charlotte Smith.

Lynx assistant coach Carolyn Jenkins updates her training camp blog and new photos have been added to the training camp page.

The Monarchs have audio interviews with Kara Lawson and Kristin Haynie.

Daily training camp recaps are being provided by the Mystics.
Along with Connecticut's newspapers, Seattle continues to offer some of the best coverage of the WNBA.

The Tacoma News Tribune, Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Seattle Times all have continued their daily coverage of training camp beyond Media Day. Today's articles are on the team's renewed focus on defense and the need for a back up PG for Sue Bird. Second year player Tanisha Wright is also being used some at that position to help the two rookies trying out for the team at PG.

A new feature on the Storm's Web site are weekly podcasts with Kevin Pelton and David Locke. The first installment also includes interviews with Anne Donovan and Janell Burse. Hopefully other teams will look to add this. Locke has also updated his blog after visiting practice.
Last year the Sun's starting five were the best in the league, but the Connecticut bench consisted, in effect, of Wyckoff (now in Chicago) and Asjha Jones.

This year, coach Thibault says, that has to change. "I'd like to see our bench feel more confident so they can play longer minutes... And Lindsay's injury forces me to do some of that, too, which in the long run can be a blessing."

The 24-second shot clock should help his speed-oriented team. So should young guard Erin Phillips, who has inspired metric tonnes of newsprint in Australia and in the Nutmeg State.

Phillips learned mental and physical toughness playing Aussie rules football. (Phillips: "I don't think you are Australian if you can't kick a football.") She's dating a footballer, too.

To judge by the news stories, she can do everything except (1) dunk and (2) enter the USA legally: it's going to take a few more days to get her a visa.
Rutgers' student newspaper considers Cappie's accomplishments over five years.

Storm coach Anne Donovan likes Barb Turner: a small forward who spent her college career posting up.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Clay's FCP profiles of each WNBA team continue with Houston and Connecticut (subscription required, but the L.A. profile is now available for free).
Kate has a wonderful profile of Mel Greenberg, who inexplicably is still not in the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.
You may not recognize this year's Liberty team. Becky Hammon is the only starter and one of only six players back from last season. Yet, Hammon, Carol Blazejowski and Patty Coyle are optimistic about their chances.

According to Hammon, "I think this team is going to be better than what people think."

Hammon is looking to use what she learned from former Liberty players Vickie Johnson and Crystal Robinson to help lead her team.

One of the players excited about the chance to play professionally in the U.S. is Marist's FiFi Camara.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Mike Seate explains that Rene Portland got the kind of hall pass previously reserved for crooked politicians.

The message, Seate writes, is that college coaches can 'hate openly'.
She would fit in nicely with bums like former Rep. Tom Druce, R-Bucks County, who hit and killed a Harrisburg man with his car in 1999, lied to police about the accident and then tried to avoid jail..(and) former Rep. Jeff Habay, the Shaler Republican who saw only conspiracy where investigators saw open corruption.

If I were a betting man, I'd wager that Portland already knows this... the rules, whatever they are, don't apply to the powerful and successful. And by now, I'm sure Portland realizes that Penn State may never place the same importance on its students as it does its athletic programs.

Another stinging rebuke of Portland and PSU's administration comes from Bill Early in a Centre Daily commentary.

Portland has consistently demonstrated little regard for university policy, indifference for university leadership, and disregard for any direction. Portland has continued to state that "specific sexual behaviors'' have no place in "her program." On this doctrine, she has been consistent and public for these many years... The only change is that her boorish behavior has grown bolder because university leadership still offers few consequences for her actions.
Unlike last year when he predicted his team would dominate the league, Bill Laimbeer has decided to let his players do the talking this year. Center Ruth Riley: "It's been frustrating the last two years. We know we have the talent, and underachieving is really hard to take when you're a competitive person.

Having both Swin Cash and Katie Smith healthy should help the team that starts five All-Stars live up to high expectations.

And the fact that a true PG likely will not be part of the starting line does not concern the coach. "Very few teams have true point guards," said Laimbeer.
Today's Patriot-News' commentary clears up on what David Jones thinks about Penn State's disciplinary action against Rene Portland.

Best as I can see, The Penn State Way is about calculation, flanking maneuvers, placating right-of-center donors and, when potentially damaging news leaks out, knowing whether to hibernate or spin...

Penn State wants no part in taking a public stand on right and wrong, even though its own rules clearly delineate where lies its own border between the two.
In Charlotte, Allison Feaster returns to court, baby and all.

Teammate Helen Darling (who has triplets): "Ali's doing very well. She's getting a lot of support at home, and she's determined. When she was pregnant, she was still doing pushups and sit-ups, and we'd say `Relax, you're pregnant.'

"Just getting up and down [the court] will be hard [but] she'll be fine. She looks slimmer than she did before she was pregnant."

Some Sting players spent months working out at the Sting's place, just getting ready for the WNBA year

Mo Currie says she can bring what the Sting need. It's simple, really: "I know how to score."
In Chicago, the Sky are happy to be there.

Coach Cowens: "Right now I have more questions than answers... I have to learn what the players can do, and there are things, as a unit, they need to do as a team.''

Stacey Dales:"It's great to be back on a team and to have teammates. I'm getting back to playing the game the way I did when I was 15.... This is even better than I expected. The organization is great. And Dave Cowens is an incredibly smart coach."
The first full week of training camp (for most teams) prompts a welcome flurry of journalism.

In Connecticut, Lindsay isn't ready to practice, and might not be ready for late-May games. Coach Thibault: "If she were able to play opening day, that would be a surprise to me."

Aussie guard Erin Phillips: "Last year, I really grew up. I traveled with the Australian team and got more experience with international basketball. This year, there was a lot of pressure for me to stay but I just think the timing is really right and I'm really ready to come across."

Lauren Jackson isn't practicing either: she seems to have hurt her shin. Again. LJ: "I don't mind sitting out some. I'm tired. I've been playing a lot lately."

Coach Donovan sounds bummed out. "The reality now for Lauren is that she's never going to be healthy from her knee to her ankle," she says. "It's very difficult when it's your star player that's going to be on the side of the court on a bike, but we've got to make adjustments."

The Storm have a few slots to fill as training camp opens: former Stanford star Lindsay Yamasaki hopes to return to the league.
It was Media Day for several WNBA teams yesterday. For the Lynx, despite being one of the youngest teams in the league, they are looking for a big turnaround this year.

And rookie Megan Duffy is hoping to be part of this turnaround.

While the team had nearly every one here for the start of training camp, there was a set back as captain Tamika Williams injured her knee at the first practice and is scheduled for surgery today.

Continuing their efforts to communicate with the fans, the team has added a training camp section to their Web site. It includes interviews, photos, a blog from assistant coach Carolyn Jenkins and a diary from Seimone Augustus.
Clay gives four reasons to love the WNBA.

Monday, April 24, 2006

More fun involving Penn State and our old friend Bill Mahon.

In unrelated news, the White House needs a new official liar press secretary.
At the Double-A Zone, Josh Centor interviews Myles Brand about Maryland's title and women's sports generally.
The Monarchs open camp aware of the target on their backs. Anne O'Neill will try again to make the team.

The defending champions' home opener (May 20) will be the first national TV game this year.
Sun coach Thibault just got back from Australia, where he's been working as an assistant coach for Team USA.

Lindsay Whalen is still rehabbing last year's ankle injuries. Coach Thibault says she's "kind of where the doctors thought she would be," and "50-50 in terms of being ready for the first game" on May 20.

That means the Sun need a backup PG. Candidates: Derevjanik (last year's choice, but not much of a shooter), Phillips (drafted last year, but new to the team), Jamie Carey, and K-State's Megan Mahoney, who gets her first crack at the pros after tearing her ACL Achilles tendon in last year's Big XII tournament.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes has just ten players in training camp. Vicki Johnson and Dalma Ivanyi are overseas, and Marie Ferdinand is pregnant; everyone else is in camp and will make the team.

Kendra Wecker will get a do-over rookie season after tearing her ACL in last season's first game. She likes Hughes' approach: "You can get the whole team in and get the players ready from Day 1. You're not going to have new people coming and people going out while you're trying to learn the offense." (Cool find, pilight.)
Belated congratulations to Allison Feaster, who gave birth to her baby girl in February. Feaster will apparently rejoin the lineup in time for the WNBA season. (Congratulations, also, to the Sting for their easy-to-navigate site, with its roundup of all offseason Sting news.)
Fallout continues over Penn State's decision to allow Rene Portland to stay on as its women's basketball coach.

The chairman of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, Stephen Glassman, said that there have been complaints over 20 years about Portland. "It would have been helpful to all minorities on campus if this issue had been dealt with after the very first complaint."

Penn State student activists want Portland fired. They plan to demonstrate on Wednesday at Old Main.

The Post-Gazette's Ron Cook questions PSU's leadership.
..keeping Paterno is one thing. He's a legend -- the greatest college football coach of all time it says here -- whose only real offense was failing to win enough games from 2000-04. Keeping Portland, who also has been successful during her 26 seasons at Penn State, is something much different, much worse, much more damning... That she is being allowed to stay at a public university, which needs tolerance and diversity to thrive as an academic institution, seems especially abhorrent.
The Patriot-News' David Jones has a different perspective.
I don't just support Rene Portland because she doesn't like those ... well, in the interest of decorum, I'll not say here, but you know what "people" I mean. I do so because she's Penn State Proud and that's good enough for me. Those who've turned on her now in her time of need, well, you all make me sick.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The dot-com profiles all seven of the WNBA's ten-year veterans. (Why aren't there more? Here's one reason.)
Ivory Latta has come through knee surgery; turns out she tore a meniscus in the NCAA semifinal.
Full Court promises preseason profiles of all fourteen W teams; Clay kicks off the series with his take on the Sparks.

Executive summary: "The Sparks have two of the best players in the league, a new coach who should keep everyone smiling... and an exciting young point guard. What they don't have is a three-point shooter they can count on, or a defensive presence on the perimeter."
Brian McCormick has a new book. Regulars at McCormick's blog will recognize his arguments: AAU hurts young players (both girls and boys) by scheduling too many games, in too much of the year, and by caring too much about winning them all; coaches should think about movement skills, not just skills specific to basketball; we should develop players by thinking long term.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Tennessee is losing two players: Sybil Dosty and Lindsey Moss.
A note about Rene's fine: PSU has said that it will deduct it from her salary. That means that, after tax, it's probably more like $6,000, not $10,000.

Moreover, word on the PSU message boards is that several supporters have offered to pay the fine for her.
The Washington Post talks to some of the Mystic players who play overseas in the off-season about the benefits and challenges. The Mystics had 13 of their signed players in Asia, Europe or Australia.

In addition to the higher salary, some players get interpreters, satellite television, personal chefs and apartments big enough for visiting friends and family. Plus, they get to play competitive basketball. On the downside, they are far from home in a city they are not familiar with and still face language barriers.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Twin Cities' alternaweekly runs a fine, detailed blog about (mostly) men's teams: amid the wet ashes of the Timberwolves' season, City Pages blogger Britt Robson examines the case against Pam Borton. (Good catch, ILuvCatch.)
Sports writers and newspaper editors continue to express outrage over Tuesday's Portland decision.

CBS Sportsline commentator Michael Bradley terms the disciplinary moves against Portland 'gutless'.
What a strong showing by Penn State in the Rene Portland matter. Right. Merely fining her for intolerance at a state university that clearly declares it won’t tolerate discrimination was gutless. And lest you think this incident was isolated, think again.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sports editor Jerry Micco wants Penn State to make a statement.

I've run sports departments at three newspapers over the past 17 years, and I can tell you without a doubt that if I did either thing that Rene Portland has done to my employees, I'd not be running a sports department. I think that probably sums up how I feel... I don't think they should hide behind no comments on this matter.
Tomorrow's Digital Collegian sounds off in an editorial, 'Rene Portland: University Approves Discrimination'.
Let's simplify this, Portland violated a policy that the university enacted in response to her previous admittance of discrimination against lesbians..

How many talented young women does she have to ban from her program before some serious measures are taken?
The Chamique Holdsclaw debate begins on the Rebkell board. The question being asked: Has Chamique failed to meet expectations?

In 1999, Chamique Holdsclaw was one of the most decorated college basketball players, male or female, to have ever played the game. Three national titles at Tennessee. Four-time Kodak All-American. She was going to revolutionize the women's game. She was even referred to as the WNBA's Michael Jordan. She was taken with the first pick in the 1999 draft, the deepest draft in league history, and ahead of Yolanda Griffith, Natalie Williams, and DeLisha Milton-Jones.

Seven years later, Holdsclaw has not won a WNBA title. She has never won the Most Valuable Player Award. She has never made First Team All-WNBA. Only once has her team finished above .500 (excluding 2004, when she took a leave of absence from the team mid-season; at the time she left, her team had a losing record). She has been labeled by some as a "coach killing diva headcase."

But look at Chamique's numbers. Her career numbers are 18.1 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. Her career PPG ranks third-best all-time, behind Cynthia Cooper and Lauren Jackson. Only Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes, Katie Smith, and Tina Thompson have scored more total points - and all of them did it in at least 23 more total games. She is fourth all-time in rebounds per game, behind Cheryl Ford, Leslie, and Griffith, while ranking fifth in total rebounds. She led the league in scoring (19.9) and rebounding (11.6) in 2002, but was not eligible for the MVP award because she only played 20 games due to injury. In 2003, she was second in scoring (20.5), but first in rebounding (10.9) - and the only player to average more than 20 points and 10 rebounds in a season. But Lauren Jackson was voted the MVP.

Has Mique revolutionized the WNBA, the way marketers, fans, and the league thought she would? Arguably not. And yet she is the ONLY player in the history of the WNBA to be ranked among the top four players in points per game and rebounds per game for her career.

Saying Mique has failed to expectations is not to say she has not had a great career. It says more about the unrealistic nature of the expectations placed upon her.
Suzie McConnell-Serio on the Rene Portland decision:
When it was all said and done, I was relieved she was going back to Penn State to be with those players. I was relieved she could continue what she has started to keep the tradition going.
(Um.... which "tradition" is that, coach?)
A blow to Purdue's highly rated incoming class of recruits - both Amber Harris and Dee Dee Jernigan have asked for and been granted releases to their National Letters of Intent.

(hat tip boilerjay)
If you have been reading Mel Greenberg's blog recently, you are familiar with the work of Kate Burkholder. Kate is Associate Sports Editor of Rutgers' student newspaper.

Her latest contribution to the blog (and Philly.com) is a wonderful interview with C. Vivian Stringer that looks back at her illustrious career.
There has been some skepticism about the Sparks this season because of who they selected as their new head coach and why they waited so long to make the decision.

But after talking to the new coach on the phone this week, Voepel says we should give Bryant a chance.
Jennifer Harris-- not the ex-Penn State litigant, but the Washburn university star-- says goodbye to Topeka, hello to the WNBA.
Sylvia Fowles may have injured her shoulder. She'll have exploratory surgery today.

In other LSU news, the great Seimone has won yet another award.
Duke's Coach G. reflects on her team's season. While disappointed with falling short in their bid for a national title, she has had a chance to step back and appreciate the successful program she has helped build.

"I'm coaching great kids at a tremendous academic institution. We don't have a lot of issues to deal with -- they do things the right way. We get to go to the Final Four basically every other year. So sometimes I forget that, because you're always striving for more. But when you get to the championship game, there's not a lot more out there."

Also, former Duke star Mo Currie checked in with her new team briefly before heading to Chicago for rookie orientation.
Baylor assistant Bill Brock leaves Waco, joins coach Curry in Lubbock.

Also to Lubbock: Curry's husband, natch (an assistant for her at Purdue), and ex-Purdue and current Mercury forward Shereka Wright.

Brock avoids a rebuilding year at Baylor, which must compensate (or fail to compensate) for losing Sophia Young (just as LSU has to compensate, somehow, for losing the great Seimone).

Can Curry, Brock and Shereka out-recruit their in-state rivals? Curry must think so: look what, and who, she left behind.
The Patriot-News' Andrew Shay caught up with Jennifer Harris by telephone between between classes in Harrisonburg, Va. to ask about her reaction to Penn State's ruling.

Over at the Centre Daily Times, Adam Smeltz notes that some Penn State students have set up a blog of their own to respond to Rene Portland.
Local columnists checked in today on yesterday's disciplinary action by Penn State against its embattled women's basketball coach.

The Altoona Mirror's Neil Rudel wonders how the university will react if another player comes forward with allegations, stating it is 'probably only a matter of time'.
Allowing Portland the forum she exploited Tuesday doesn’t speak well of athletic director Tim Curley, who is much more comfortable posing after the first quarter with the latest fencing team honorees than he is being the tough administrator Penn State needs.

The York Dispatch's Larry Hicks describes Penn State's disciplinary actions as 'too little and too late'.
If Spanier has enough evidence for the letter, the fine and the diversity training, then he has more than enough evidence to remove her as head coach. And that's what he should have done.
Christine Brennan on Penn State's handling of the Portland case:
A valuable lesson is learned when one is made an example for others. Unfortunately, Penn State didn't seize the opportunity as Duke did. Perhaps its controversy wasn't publicized enough. Perhaps its news story lacked too many of the incendiary ingredients the Duke case has.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Graham Hays hits hard:
By wimping out on Portland's punishment, the school has effectively said it's willing to enter next season with a bigot coaching its women's basketball team.
Indiana has named a new coach: Felisha Legette-Jack. She replaces Sharon Versyp who went to Purdue after one season with the Hoosiers.

Legette-Jack comes to Indiana after four years as head coach at Hofstra. She has Big 10 experience as an assistant at Michigan State.
RainDevil comes through with an astute observation of the Rene Portland situation. Penn State's non-discrimination policy was put into place in part because of Portland's own discriminatory actions (e.g., comments dating back to 1986 - "no drinking, no drugs, no lesbians"). Now she is being mildly chasitised for violating a policy that is in effect because of her in the first place?
Recently added to the Women's Basketball Online collection is an interesting article by New Mexico fan William Naegele.

Among other things, he looks at the rise of the Lobo program since Don Flanagan took over and some of the challenges they face in recruiting against the powerhouses in wcbb.
Penn State's split-the-difference resolution of the Harris-Portland matter left both sides unhappy. That can be seen as a sign of Solomonic wisdom and grace. Or it can be seen as a sign of cowardice.

Regardless, we still have to ask the same questions that we've been asking for years: If you were a lesbian basketball player, would you consider going to Penn State? If you were a player on Portland's team, would you feel comfortable coming out of the closet?

If not, then what good is the University's antidiscrimination policy?

Culture is intransigent, often impervious to law.
Kevin Pelton is moving up in the world. Don't forget the little people, buddy...

Steve also has a new writing gig. (The Women's Hoops Blog: A springboard to greatness, or something like it.)
Serena Williams is done for the year, maybe forever.
Pearl Harris on the sanctions: "I'm very concerned what kind of message this sends to other parents who are going to send their daughters to Penn State to play basketball for Rene Portland."

Jen Harris: "Penn State did not take the allegations seriously and does not appear interested in solving the underlying problem."

PSU spokesperson Steve MacCarthy describes the investigation: "The investigation ... took six months, involved interviews with dozens of witnesses and was thorough and complete as far as we're concerned. We accept the conclusion. As far as we're concerned, that closes the matter. And now we move on."

When asked about Portland's claim that the investigation was "flawed," Affirmative Action Office head Ken Lehrman said "I really don't have any idea" what Rene was talking about.
Over on Mel Greenberg's blog, the guru writes about Dawn Staley playing with (Cynthia Jordan) and against (Candice Dupree) her former players.

He also reminds us that when Phoenix and L.A. play this summer it will match up Mercury coach Paul Westhead against his former player at LaSalle, Joe "Jellybean" Bryant.

Dupree writes about draft day in her latest diary entry for ESPN.com. She will continue writing for the Web site during her rookie season in Chicago.
Voepel has written another excellent column on the Rene Portland situation.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

In an email to USA Today last week, Penn State President Spanier described the penalties for violating the school's antidiscrimination policy: "There is no fixed set of penalties. We are an educational institution, so we tend to lean toward education, training, and counseling. But stronger sanctions are sometimes used."

But are these sanctions meaningful? NCLR's Karen Doering scoffs at the notion of putting Rene Portland through more diversity training.

"She underwent diversity training in 1991 with no effect," Doering said. "Her very statement of denials today clearly shows she does not get it. If she doesn't think she has done anything wrong, she's not going to change her behavior."

In a (surprising) KR-syndicated column, Walt Moody says that the sanctions have no real bite. Walt says that Rene, in her response, is essentially giving Spanier the finger.
In a fabulous idea, WNBA.com is seeking fan bloggers for the upcoming seasons. Matt Wurst explains more here.
NCLR responds:
While the National Center for Lesbian Rights is pleased that the claims of Jennifer Harris were vindicated, it condemns the disciplinary measures taken against Coach Portland as inadequate, especially given Coach Portland's continued denials and refusal to be held accountable for her discriminatory and damaging actions.
Rene Portland will apparently hold a press conference in just a couple hours.

Some early hints from the Happy Valley suggest that this will be a "slap on the wrist" announcement rather than anything like a resignation.

UPDATE: here is the University press release. It is, as rumored, a slap on the wrist.

PSU's internal investigation found that Coach Portland did indeed violate the school's antidiscrimination policy.
The report ... conclude[d] that enough evidence existed to substantiate a claim that Portland discriminated against Harris by creating a “hostile, intimidating, and offensive environment” because of Harris' sexual orientation. This is in violation of Penn State Policy AD-42, which prohibits discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, sexual orientation, and other personal characteristics.
But the sanctions ordered are mild. Very mild. They include:
(1) A letter of reprimand (strongly worded, I'm sure).
(2) A warning that future violations will not be tolerated (and this time we really, really mean it).
(3) Diversity training (insert rolling-eyes emoticon here).
(4) A $10,000 fine.
The PSU Affirmative Action office had recommended a one-game suspension, but President Spanier rejected that in favor of the fine, purportedly because it's "more immediate." (Coach Portland, who lights cigars with $100 bills at her summer home in the Poconos, is probably giggling about that.)

Coach Portland issued a statement in which she denied the allegations and claimed that the school's process was "flawed."
New Sparks coach Jellybean has added former CS Northridge coach Michael Abraham as an assistant. Abraham served 18 months in prison after a federal drug trafficking conviction.

"He was very open with his history when he talked with us," Johnny Buss said. "We did our research, as did the WNBA, and we came to the conclusion this was someone who has overcome his past to make a contribution to women's basketball."

I'm inclined to see this as a good thing. I don't know a great deal about the history, but it sounds like Abraham was an addict who got involved in dealing to feed his addiction. He has served his time and recovered. Second chances are worth granting.
One of the biggest complaints of a sports fan is the officiating. But Clay points out the criticism is more heated for women's basketball.

His solution is to combine the two groups of officials that do the men's and women's games. The result: the women's games would have the best possible refs which would improve the product and help the game grow.

Monday, April 17, 2006

It's official: Joe “Jellybean” Bryant will stay on as the Sparks head coach. Said Bryant:
I’m looking forward to the chance to work with a great team, great people, great personalities. It’s a true honor being involved with the WNBA’s 10th Anniversary. I’m very excited and a championship is on our mind.
Some will question his coaching qualifications. But he can't do worse than Bibby.
Sherri Coale's last diary entry for this season is now up. As usual, it is a great read.

In this installment, she looks back on the season that exceeded most expectations and singles out the work by seniors Laura Andrews and Beky Preston.

For those who subscribe to Full Court Press, there is a wonderful article by Mark Lewis on the important role Preston played this season, especially with Courtney and Ashley Paris.
DTS gives a great rundown of Lindsay Whalen's recent appearance at a girls basketball clinic in Farmington.
Mel Greenberg gives a bit more info on the efforts at the USBWA to establish an award in honor of Maggie Dixon.
Via pilight, a strange article in which W. Scott Bailey argues that Mystics owner Sheila Johnson should stop pressuring business execs to support the WNBA.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Marita Payne (Auburn Univ.; Melbourne, Australia) says she was surprised to be drafted. If the 6'5" Payne makes the team, she'll give the Sun some height-- which they need-- when Dydek's off the floor.

Fifi Camara, of Marist and Guinea, will try out for the Lib.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Koehn and Wecker reunite for exhibition play.
David Stern says the Sonics will leave Seattle if things don't change. "The city is making it pretty clear... what they want us to do," he contends, "and we'll accommodate them... What I mean is they're not interested in having the NBA there."

Will the Sonics take the Storm wherever they go? Will commissioner Stern make the Storm's survival a condition of sale?

If-- as is rumoured-- Paul Allen tries to sell the Trailblazers and buy the Sonics, will he care more for the Storm than he did for the Portland Fire, which he folded as soon as he could?

Storm fans debate options for city, state and team.
Steve's fabulous new book of poetry — including women's basketball related poetry — has hit the shelves.

Washington post review here; Strib review here.

Available for purchase here.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Via stever, word that there is some action on a permanant honor for Maggie Dixon.

And today, Dixon was laid to rest at West Point.
Via pilight, Sheryl Swoopes spoke at Redlands yesterday about, among other things, coming out:
I strongly believe that God put me on this earth for the purpose of reaching out and touching as many people's lives as I can. What I've done hopefully will at least prevent one person from taking their life. I don't think it's changed me from being a role model. If anything, it's made me proud of who I am. I was tired of pretending to be someone I'm not, tired of making other people happy while I was still miserable.
This silly little saga may be over: womenshoopscoop.net has been taken down altogether.

But one recycled goodie, from an old Albuquerque Tribune article when Jody Hensen was hired from New Mexico to UAA:
In a recent poll of the top rising assistant coaches in the country on womenshoopscoop.com, Hensen was ranked No. 7.
So apparently, this whole thing happened before.

Maybe we shouldn't fault a guy too much for trying to whip up a little publicity to help out a friend (or fiancee). But this went a little overboard. And maybe news organizations and schools need to be a little more careful about information they get from the web.
Keegan's report on Australia's win over the U.S. is up on his site.
In his mailbag, Bill Simmons recycles his semi-annual critique of the WNBA.
Maxwell calls out the worst rebounders in the WNBA.
K-State has issued a press release based on the same poll, stating that Kamie Ethridge is one of the top ten recruiters in the country:
Ethridge, in her 10th season at Kansas State, was selected as a result of a national poll conducted by womenshoopscoop.net, one of the foremost magazines and websites devoted to women’s college basketball. Over 2,000 votes were cast in the online poll.
UPDATE: a reader emails in and says that Kamie was featured on the local TV news last night as a top-ten recruiter.

The Topeka Capital-Journal also picked up the story. It simply said that Kamie was named one of the top ten assistants in the country.
Kyle Lingerfelt emailed me last night to assure me that the survey was legit. He says that they sent a mailing out to 300 colleges in February. Perhaps that's true, and I'd be happy to check it out.

I have asked Kyle to provide me with the names of a sample of survey participants so I can check with them. And at the same time, if there are any coaches or administrators out there reading this who received the survey from Kyle, please let me know.

A separate email came from an email address with Kyle's name, but it was signed by Jody Hensen. Coach Hensen said that she is not married and that she has no affiliation with womenshoopscoop.net. She asked me to retract last night's post.

The Anchorage Daily News article from 2003 said that Kyle was Jody's fiance. I contacted someone from the University of Alaska-Anchorage yesterday who said that they are now married.

Maybe that was wrong — maybe they never got married. And I have no reason to believe that Coach Hensen herself had anything to do with setting up the website. Maybe Kyle did that all by himself (despite his regular use of first-person plural pronouns).

But clearly she has some connection to Kyle — her very email address confirmed that (assuming she really sent the email). That connection seems to go a long way toward explaining the strange poll that was posted on the site. Or at least: right now that seems like the most likely explanation for this bizarre series of events.

If it turns out that the poll was entirely legit, and that Jody Hensen really was named as one of the ten best recruiters in the country by a large national poll, and that her relationship to Kyle had absolutely nothing to do with it, I will be quick to apologize. Right now, however, this whole thing is just too fishy.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

On Tuesday, Baylor issued a press release stating that assistant coach Jennifer Roberts had been named one of the top ten recruiting assistants in the country.
Roberts, in her sixth season at Baylor, was selected as a result of a poll conducted by www.womenshoopscoop.net, one of the foremost magazines/websites devoted to women's college basketball.
Yesterday, the Waco Trib picked up the same story. It cited information about the poll that was posted on the website: "The online poll included more than 2,000 votes from college, high school and junior college coaches and administrators, AAU coaches and parents."

But the poll looked a little fishy.

It was apparently limited to "up and coming" programs, thus excluding the likes of UConn and Tennessee. But how do Baylor, Maryland, and New Mexico qualify as "up and coming"?

Who is Jody Hensen, and how did she make the list at # 7?

Turns out: Hensen was until recently the head coach at D-II Anchorage. After three years marked by numerous player departures and a losing record, Hensen resigned last week. Is it really plausible that she's one of the ten best recruiters in women's basketball?

These questions led to bigger questions. Womenshoopscoop.net didn't exist until very recently, and there was nothing on its site dated before April 10. (There used to be a site called Womenshoopscoop.com, but that disappeared a couple years ago.)

If the site just started a few days ago, how did it get over 2,000 responses to its poll? Was there really ever such a poll conducted, or did the webmaster just make it up?

And who is the webmaster? An email to me signed by "Henrietta Hoops" said: "We the 3 of are former major college coaches with over 35 years of combined experience." On rebkell, the webmaster posted under the name "buddyjack" and claimed to have been "a Recruiting Coordinator in the SEC/ACC and Big East."

(In an earlier thread, buddyjack asked if anyone knew where Jody Hensen ended up, and praised her as "outstanding.")

None of it made much sense. I emailed Baylor and the Waco Trib to ask them if they had checked into the poll before running with it. Neither responded.

And then Stever the Great uncovered the truth. Apparently the site is registered to a Kyle Lingerfelt of Anchorage. Kyle Lingerfelt is apparently no stranger to Coach Hensen: this article from the Anchorage Daily News in 2003 said that Lingerfelt was coach Hensen's fiance.

(Unclear if this Kyle Lingerfelt, former football recruiting coordinator, is the same guy.)

Now Kyle/Henrietta/buddyjack says that I'm just trying to tear down the legitimacy of his site.

No, friend, you've taken care of that all by yourself.

UPDATE: See above.

Also, the "Best Recruiting Assistants" poll, and all of the information about the poll, has been taken off the Women's Hoop Scoop site.

ANOTHER UPDATE: K-State taken too.

ANOTHER UPDATE: the site has been taken down altogether.
Via Stever comes word that Penn State has completed its own internal investigation into the Portland-Harris matter.

The findings are confidential, but the University says that it will be doing something to "bring closure" to the matter soon.
Check out Barry's FCP All-American teams here.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Less than 24 hours after Hapoel Tel Aviv knocked Anda Ramat Hasharon out of the semi finals, Deanna Nolan told the media that coach Orna Ostfeld 'doesn’t know what she’s doing'.

"Basically she was telling us we're uncoachable."
Happy (unofficial) news: DeMya Walker has given birth to her baby girl.
More on the Opals win over Team USA:

Coach Donovan: "The 3-point line in the second half just killed us, especially in the third quarter, but also in the last minute of the game. "

Tina Thompson does not want to feel like this again, adding "it's a good thing that it's now and not in September or not in ‘08."

Thompson and Candace Parker were named to the All-Opals World Challenge Team along with MVP Lauren Jackson from Australia, China's Miao Lijie and Taipei's Feng-Chun Chiang.
Congratulations to Hapoel Tel Aviv for their stunning upset of Anda Ramat Hasharon in the semi finals. Condolences to Anda and its legendary coach, Orna Ostfeld.

Ostfeld is one of the most respected figures in international women's sports. Safsal describes her as
The mythological and eternal coach of Ramat Hasharon. Won 4 championships and 3 cups as a coach. As a player, she won two cups and one championship (with Jerusalem), played for the national team and entered the Guinness book of records when she scored 108 points in a single game.
On International Women's Day in 2005, Ostfeld was awarded the IOC European Woman and Sport trophy in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Ostfeld, the Olympic Committee of Israel's candidate, was chosen from among 68 European candidates, and is one of five women from five continents to receive an award. "As a player, administrator and coach, Ostfeld has contributed to greater participation by young women at all sporting levels," the IOC said.
Ostfeld received an official letter from Education, Culture, and Sports Minister Limor Livnat after winning top honors.
“Accept my congratulations on behalf of Israel, for conveying the important message regarding the advancement of the status of women to the international community, and for presenting Israel in a different light. The advancement of the status of women is an inseparable part of my activity and life, and every accomplishment, success, or change that fosters this issue pleases me.”
Filmmaker Amit Azaz made a film about Ornsted, The Lady is a Champ.
As coach of the women’s basketball team in Ramat Hasharon, Israel, Orna Ostfeld competes for the National Championship. Outside of the basketball arena, she fights constantly for equal government support of women’s sports.
Surprising catch from (unsurprisingly) Pilight: Abiola Wabara gets a tryout with the Sparks.

Wabara, whose defense helped Baylor to last year's title, announced last month that she would pass up her last year of eligibility to return to her native Italy for pro ball.
Upstart Hapoel Tel Aviv forced Anda Ramat Hasharon to a deciding fifth game in a semi-final that sent the winner to the league championship series. Early on, Hapoel's Dominique Canty got the newly anointed league MVP (Deanna Nolan) into foul trouble, just as she had in Game 3.

Hapoel was down by 10 when Ramat Hasharon 'cranked it down a notch', and the underdog started to chip away.

Sixteen seconds stood between Ramat Hasharon and the finals when Hapoel, down by 3, called timeout. Everyone in the building figured that Roi Izenberg was telling his team to get the ball to long-ball specialist Rada Vidovic.

Ramat Hasharon had two fouls to give and head coach Orna Ostfeld expected her team to foul. "We spoke of this option in one of the recent practices and said that if we were in that position, we'd foul. Deanna said that her approach is to trust the defense."

Ramat Hasharon didn't foul, Vidovic nailed the three, and Hapoel owned the OT - Goliath was slain. Asked about the game tying score, Nolan said 'we weren't thinking' She didn't have any regrets, but didn't like that "our own fans were booing us at the end of the game."

In the winner's lockerroom, Hoepel's Canty was heaping credit on her teammates. Her coach, meanwhile, called her 'the best guard in the league'.

"Deanna Nolan is a great player but right now what Dominique brought to the game", Izenberg said, "compared to what Nolan brought to her team, I think Dominique gave us a lot more. I'm not comparing anyone but I think Dominique doesn’t force herself on the game."

"I can only say this was our loss", said Ramat Hasharon point guard Liron Cohen. "You have to call the child by its name, and we lost the game today and the series. 16 seconds to go and we had two fouls to give and we allow a three, that broke us cause we opened the overtime really bad, they went up five and we just chased them from then."
Over in the pay portion of Full Court Press, Jim Clark looks at how Duke's Gail Goestenkors changed after her team's 2004 NCAA Elite Eight loss and become a better coach.

Also at FCP, Clay looks at Team USA's first game against Australia in the Opals Challenge, the change in expansion plans for the WNBA, and Maya Moore's decision to go to UConn.
Results from the Opals World Challenge just in: Australia 76 - USA 65. Stat of the game: 3 pt FG % - 58.3% for the Opals; 12.5% for the Americans. More on this later.
About 1,200 people attended the funeral of Maggie Dixon yesterday in Los Angeles.

"She taught us to dream big, to play big, to want big things in our lives," said Army forward Ashley Magnani.

"In her eight short months with us," Army athletics director Kevin Anderson said at the funeral, "Maggie electrified West Point as only Maggie could."

A video montage of interviews with Maggie and her brother shot before the NCAA tournament was shown in the gymnasium of their alma mater after the funeral.

Maggie was also honored with a moment of silence before the Yankees home opener yesterday.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Matt Wurst is seeking suggestions from fans for features on WNBA.com.
Helen Wheelock recently previewed the Lib's 10th season and reviewed the recent moves: "It pretty much stinks when you realize your mom's come in and thrown out your favorite shirt and your best pair of jeans. That's sort of what happened to the New York Liberty this past off-season."

Now added: an analysis of New York's draft.
Maya Moore on choosing UConn: “When it came down to choosing a school, it was one of the toughest decisions to make in my life."
USA Basketball improved to 4-0 in the Opals World Challenge with a victory over Taipai on Tuesday night (?). Candace Parker had 13 and 12. Tina Thompson led the drubbing with 28 points, including 24 in the first half.

"Man! I didn't even realize she had so many in the first half," said Seimone Augustus. "It was so smooth."

Monday, April 10, 2006

2007 recruit, Maya Moore, picked UConn over Tennessee, Duke, and Georgia. UConn and Tennessee were her final two schools.

So when was the last time UConn and Tennessee went head-to-head for a recruit, with one picking one school over the other? Tina Charles supposedly picked UConn over Duke and Tennessee, but she was a UConn-lean for quite some time (and it was unclear which school was her second choice). Alexis Hornbuckle and Candace Parker had final lists without UConn. Charde Houston took a visit to Tennessee, but Texas was her rumored second choice.

Was the last player to have UConn and Tennessee in her final two schools (and picking one over the other) Semeka Randall? Hmm...anyone remember which school was Ann Strother's second choice?
There is good and bad news for LSU fans following Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles on the latest tour for USA Basketball Senior Women's team.

The good - Seimone finally arrived in Austriala after a flight delay from Minneapolis and played in the team's convincing win against China. She was one of four players in double figures for Team USA.

The bad - Sylvia suffered a dislocated right shoulder in Team USA's April 8 contest against Australia and will not compete in the remainder of the Opals World Challenge.

While Seimone was on her way to Australia, her parents picked up two more POY awards on her behalf her over the weekend - the women's Wooden Award and the Naismith Trophy.

Paul points out on the Lynx blog that "having also been selected for both awards following her junior season, Augustus adds her name to an elite list of players who've won multiple Naismiths: Cheryl Miller, Clarissa Davis, Dawn Staley, Chamique Holdsclaw and Diana Taurasi. Meanwhile, she joins Ralph Sampson as the only players -- male or female -- with more than one Wooden Award."
Mechelle Voepel takes a crack at who the top 25 will be next season. Not surprisingly, her pick at the top is National Champion Maryland.

Also, in case you missed any of the Top 25 plays that were highlighted on ESPN and ESPN2's coverage this season, you can review it here.
At the New York Daily News, Kristie Ackert remembers Maggie Dixon and her coaching philosphy: "Always build up the player, never tear them down."

Dixon's funeral will be held tomorrow morning.
The Storm, and the Sonics, are up for sale. Lead owner Howard Schultz says the current owners won't move the teams, but new owners might. Board Junkies panic, debate preferred locales.

Why sell? The KeyArena deal is notably unfavorable to the teams, and the owners haven't been able to get the subsidies they want from the city or state: it looks like they'll keep trying, even as they also look for buyers. Another possibility: a new venue in Bellevue, Washington-- which that city would have to build first.

Do Storm fans support the deal Schultz wants? If not, what do they think ought to happen?

Sunday, April 09, 2006

On the eve of the (yikes!) team banquet, the Star-Tribune digs into the Gophers' disastrous postseason.

Coach Borton: "I really don't feel like we're in a hole." (Heckuva job...)

As the Strib's Jay Weiner points out, a similar controversy arose just before Borton left Vermont.
Outside the top eight or so, many-- likely most-- of this week's draft picks won't make WNBA rosters.

That won't-- and shouldn't-- stop hometown newspapers from showing them some love. Rebecca offered a love roundup on Friday, and today's papers bring more.

Liz Shimek says she's excited about the Comets: she's never lived outside Michigan before.

6'7" Zane Teilane, and her college coach, talk about her potential spot in Detroit.

Katie Cronin has excelled with the NWBL's Colorado Chill, but she's been cut four times by three WNBA teams. Connecticut will give her another try.
The Euroleague tourney in Brno, Czech Republic, concluded with a win for the home team: Gambrinus beat Russia's Volgaburmash behind 16 points from Nykesha Sales, all scored in the fourth quarter. Keesh: "I am a veteran so I know what to do."

DeLisha Milton also contributed to Gambrinus' victory, which avenged a Euroleague finals loss last year. For Volgaburmash, Maria Stepanova (who isn't returning to Phoenix), and Ann Wauters (who isn't returning to NYC) chipped in 15 and 10.

Full Court has a full Euroleague tourney report (paid subscribers only, alas).

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Los Angeles Times honors Maggie Dixon.

Coach Bruno on how he hired Dixon: "All I had to offer was an $8,000 grad assistant job. You can hardly live on that in Chicago. But she was so eager. So we got her another job at a great Italian steakhouse. She waitressed and coached."

Army star Cara Enright: "She could hardly wait until next season... Coach Dixon made us love the game even more, and we played our hearts out every single time we stepped on the court."

UCLA men's coach Ben Howland: "She was on target to be the next Pat Summitt."
Babcock interviews Doug Bruno about his former assistant.

“I guess you can do one of two things,” he says. “You can be mad at God for taking her so soon, or you can thank him that he gave her to us for this long.”

Friday, April 07, 2006

Over at Rebkell's, stever has suggested a first-year Coach of the Year award- a coaching version of the Rookie of the Year, if you will- named in honor of Maggie Dixon. This suggestion has met with great approval.

If you as a fan (or other person involved with the sport) would like to see this happen, let the WBCA know- their e-mail address is wbca AT wbca DOT org. Stever also suggested contacting Doug Bruno at DePaul directly; Dixon's mentor, he was also the president of the WBCA for this past season. (If you go this route, please be respectful of the fact that he just lost a protege and dear friend.) Fellow boardster Matty suggested contacting the ADs and coaches for each school. I would also suggest getting in touch with the Patriot League, Army's conference.
Pitt Panther Hoops has tracked down some video of Maggie Dixon's triumphant Patriot League championship. It's wonderful. It's not easy to watch.
Via deadspin, Adrian Wojnarowski eulogizes Maggie Dixon.
At West Point, they never get used to young people dying young. It's part of life there, but it's still the most piercing of pains. When they announced on Thursday morning that Dixon had passed overnight, they reported, too, the death of a 2002 graduate who had died in an Apache helicopter crash in Iraq.

Perhaps they're forever bracing themselves for news of academy graduates dying overseas, but this one hit differently because no one could've seen this coming on campus with Maggie Dixon. Her basketball team had become such an escape for the Cadets at the Academy. It had become such a surprisingly special part of the winter.
Dawn Staley was back with USA Basketball yesterday, this time as acting head coach, as the Senior National team defeated China 85-77.

While head coach Anne Donovan, assistant coach Mike Thibault, Seimone Augustus and Cappie Pondexter were on their way to Australia, some of the younger players on this tour put up impressive numbers. Candace Parker led all scorers with 26 points and Alana Beard added 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Patricia Babcock McGraw looks more closely at the draft picks of the newest team in the league.

She points that while Temple’s Candice Dupree, Washburn’s Jennifer Harris and Virginia Tech’s Kerri Gardin are talented players, none are recognizable or have local ties to the Chicago area.
Updates on some of the players not selected in the draft on Wednesday:

Aya Traore is headed to the Mystics training camp.

Kristin Kovesdy has invitations to attend both the Mercury and Liberty traning camps.

Melanie Boeglin has an invitation from the Sting (hat tip VeProf).

Brittany Wilkins is bound for the Monarchs camp.
Purdue has a new coach...

Former Boiler player and most recently head coach at Indiana, Sharon Versyp.

(hat tip boilerjay)
Yesterday was also crazy for Cappie in Phoenix, who like Seimone, flew in for a quick trip for her new team to meet with the media before taking off last night for Australia and USA Basketball.

While in town with her new team, Cappie was interviewed for the Mercury Web site.
While three of the players who are leaving the Gopher women's basketball team discussed their departure, AD Joel Maturi says he will investigate the situation and Coach Borton tries to hold the program together.

“We are doing everything we can,” Maturi said at the Frozen Four in Milwaukee. “And what that ‘everything’ is is to meet individually with the players who are returning, try to meet with players that are leaving as well as seniors who will be leaving, the coaching staff, talk to supporters, to some boosters and try to get an understanding of what happened.”
Analysis of the draft from Clay (subscription required), Graham Hays and on .com with Doris Burke, Rebecca Lobo and Renee Brown.

Also, Matt Wurst provides some behind the scenes observations on the draft.
First round picks Seimone Augustus and Shona Thorburn arrived in Minneapolis on Wednesday night and had a hectic day yesterday. Just off the plane, Seimone was greeted by young fans looking to add her autograph to their collection.

The players started Thursday with a breakfast with a group of season ticket holders, then headed off for a press conference, other interviews and community activities. Thorburn will remain in Minnesota for at least a few days, but Augustus was scheduled to leave last night to join USA Basketball in Australia.

Augustus: "The airport was great, and then you get up this morning and go to a breakfast with season-ticket holders, and their energy is skyrocketing through the roof. It feels great to be here. I feed off of their energy, even though I could (use) some sleep. I am energized with the expectations of the fans and the team.''

Fans in Minnesota can watch some of the behind scenes action of Seimone's busy day on Sunday night.

One St. Paul writer wonders, what kind of impact will Seimone have on the Lynx? They Lynx are expecting it will be big.

Like Augustus, Thorburn will have a chance to make an immediate impact on a young Lynx team.