Women's Hoops Blog: June 2006

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better


Friday, June 30, 2006

The NCAA hands down big penalties for rules violations at little Alcorn State.
Several teams made moves yesterday before a deadline that allows teams to cut players so they do not have to pay them for the rest of the season.

One of those players waived, Bridget Pettis, already has a new job as an assistant coach for the team she has spent most of her career with.

Seattle traded Cisti Greenwalt to Chicago for Ashley Robinson in a move to have a more experienced player off the bench to fill in as Lauren Jackson and Wendy Palmer battle injuries. Greenwalt was later waived by the Sky.
In her latest on ESPN.com, Voepel says the East playoff teams are likely already set, but it's not so certain in the West.

"What's a trend, what's an indicator, what's a bad night and what's good luck? For the West teams, it's really hard to tell. In the end, it might well come down to who has the least injury/health issues -- because everybody has some, and they could be very significant -- and whom the schedule favors."
Coach Whiz reshuffled his starting line-up last night, rewarding MIP candidate Erin Buescher for her stellar work this season and hoping Hamchétou Maïga-Ba could slow down Seimone Augustus.

It worked - at least enough to give the Monarchs a commanding 25-9 lead after the first quarter that the Lynx could not overcome. Buescher led all scorers with 25 points and Augustus was held to 13 points.

While the Lynx continue to struggle with slow starts and injuries, they did have a couple of positives in the game. Kristen Mann returned to action and scored 16 points after missing Tuesday's game in Phoenix with a broken nose and concussion. Also, despite the slow start the Lynx came back to outscore the Monarchs 69-62 in the final three quarters.

"We messed up in the first quarter, and they came out smokin," said Augustus. "But [that Minnesota outscored Sacramento in the last 30 minutes] just shows that we still had a fire and desire to win."
Available now: Shot Clocks: poems and an essay for the WNBA. Poems and essay by Steve; design by Jessie.
In a game featuring two teams trying to keep winning streaks alive, the Fever won the battle and remained perfect at home with a 66-56 win over the Shock. This snapped a six game winning streak for Detroit.

Indiana struggled offensively in the first half and trailed by seven at halftime. An 11-2 run to start the third quarter gave the Fever the lead for good.

Laimbeer: “Their intensity was up. We got frustrated. We stopped playing.”

The Tamikas one again led the way for the Fever as Whitmore scored 22 points and Catchings added 17 points, 13 rebounds and 7 assists. Perhaps as important, they slowed Cheryl Ford, who was held to 8 points and 9 rebounds. Ford was coming off an impressive week where she averaged over 18 points and 12 rebounds a game.

The win puts the Fever in good position going into their game against the Sun this weekend. They only play three times this season, so the winner will get an early edge in a series tiebreaker. "If we go out and take care of our own business, we don't have to worry about that down the stretch," Catchings said.
With Westhead's Merc facing Jellybean's Sparks tonight, the OC Register asks whether WNBA coaching now looks like a stepping stone to a men's-side job.
Chicago finally has a home win. The Sky withstood a late run to beat Charlotte, who have now lost twice to the expansion team.

Dupree and Currie scored 15 apiece in a game that turned close in the fourth quarter, as the Sting pulled within two; fast breaks with Lovelace, Perkins, Powell, and Dupree, and individual driving moves from Currie, made the matchup of cellar-dwellers unexpectedly fun to watch.

Chicago want to cooperate, and can look good on fast breaks; but they don't have a go-to player-- Dupree comes close, but she's a rookie, and she likes quick outside shots. (Chicago's one muscular big, Ngoyisa, looks pretty raw, and fouls every four minutes-- almost as frequently as Hayden.) Before tonight's game Chelsea Newton promised that the Sky would improve; she was right-- if not next week, then next month, and next year.
The Mystics worked hard in the paint, but Houston's veterans hit late jumpers, Michelle Snow had a career day with seventeen boards, and the Comets won at home in a noontime game before a crowd of kids.

Washington's posts looked unexpectedly good: Sanford challenged, Melvin scored, and 6'7" Latvian rookie Zane Teilane had 4 and 5 in her first pro minutes.

Alana left the game with a hurt wrist and shoulder after Tina Thompson fell on top of her, but later returned and looked sharp. When DC's lead shrank, though, Alana tried to do it all, while the Comets kept their heads and sank their shots.

Coach Adubato: "During the last two minutes, [Houston] made every big shot."

Tamecka Dixon: "I wish camp day was every day."

Thursday, June 29, 2006

While to some it has appeared the WNBA has tried its best to ignore, even erase, the existence of the league that pre-dated it, the ABL, the Seattle Storm is stepping up to the plate and embracing it.

The Storm is putting together a reunion to honor Washington's first professional women's basketball team: the Seattle Reign. The gathering will happen on Sunday, July 16 4:30-6pm. at KeyArena. (The Storm play the Connecticut Sun at 6pm). The list of invited Reign players include Rhonda Smith, Tara Davis, Kate Starbird, Christy Hedgpeth, and Kate Paye. Players they'd like to invite, but don't have current contact information on are Shalonda Enis, Angela Aycock, Niesa Johnson and Venus Lacy. (If you have their information, please forward it to the Storm point person, Mathew Johnson at mmjohnson@sonics-storm.com). Reign staff will also be included. Says Mathew's email:
During the game we are planning to play a highlight/video montage of the Reign and Professional Women's Basketball in Seattle. We would love to compile some of your videos to put this great montage together. Also any other type of memorabilia such as posters, roster cards, etc. that you feel could be used as decoration for the gathering would be greatly appreciated.
RSVP's should go to stormrsvp@sonics-storm.com.

A big shout out to the Storm organization. Very cool. Very classy.
Soccer great, and Women's Sports Foundation Public Policy Officer, Julie Foudy has teamed up with the I EXercise My Rights campaign to ensure that Title IX stays strong. She invites all who support women's sports to take action to protect Title IX. “During my career," says Foudy,

I’ve gotten to see tens of thousands of young girls get excited about women’s soccer. I want them to have the same opportunities as I had to be my best. But now there are threats against Title IX that might hurt this generation’s chances of being the next Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, or Brianna Scurry. In March 2005, the Bush Administration made a major change to Title IX policies. Now our daughters have to prove they’re interested in playing sports in school. Male athletes have never had to meet this test. Join me by signing this petition. We need to tell President Bush and Congress to keep Title IX strong.
Nikki McCray retirement update: the Sun-Times-- unlike the AP-- remembers McCray's ABL achievements.

Also: DCBasketCases weighs in on Nikki's DC career.
LJ, her shin in pain, skipped the trip to L.A. The rest of the Storm woke up really early for the second half of a back-to-back. And Barb Turner got her first start at power forward, with Izzy back in the lineup at the 3.

The Storm won anyway, and convincingly too. Janell Burse played Leslie aggressively and got the calls she sought. The Sparks' All-Star center picked up four fouls in the first 13 minutes, and did very little after that; the Storm maintained a comfortable lead to the end, in part because they didn't play like it.

Betty Lennox did most of the damage, finishing with 27 points. Sue Bird: "We just played as if we were down five, always attacking, always aggressive, always telling each other, 'We need to get a stop! We need to get a stop!' even though we were up 17 at times. That's what we needed to win."

LA's first home loss snaps an eight-game streak. Jellybean complained about the officiating, but Leslie says she blew it: "Tonight my team really needed me and I wasn't able to stay on the court."
Nicole Ohlde's layup tied the game in the final seconds, but Cappie sank a contested three, and the Merc beat the Lynx in Phoenix. "I love to take big shots," the rookie explained.

The match had postseason implications for both teams, but the Lynx (who've lost four of five) can't look that far ahead: Minnesota has now been outrebounded by two of the four worst rebounding teams in the league (as measured by rebounding differential; the other two are Charlotte and Chicago).

One Lynx post who did show up was Vanessa Hayden: ineffective early this year, Big V set new season highs in minutes, boards and points (18, tying a career high). Lynx fans really want her back.

Merc fans celebrate the win-- and the impending arrival of P-Money, expected to play this Sunday.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Chicago Sky's Nikki McCray has announced her retirement. An important correction to the story: The AP has forgotten that McCray began her professional career in the US as a founding member of the American Basketball League, earning MVP honors in the league's inaugural season (1996-97). She joined the WNBA in 1998 and became a part of the then-expansion Washington Mystics. A 3-time WNBA All-Star, the Tennessee native had a storied career as a Lady Vol under Pat Summitt , and an impressive tenure with USA Basketball.
Ahhh, it's never too early to talk college basketball: The WNIT released its preseason field today and it looks to provide good early tests for Baylor, Hartford, Stanford, St. John's and the "This Program Under Renovation" nominee of the year, Purdue.

Other participants include Belmont, BYU, Dartmouth (which gives me an excuse to remind everyone of the fabulous SportsProf blog entry of March 2006: Angie Soriaga for President) High Point, Hofstra, Idaho State, Iona, Loyola-Marymount, NC State, North Texas and Wichita State.

Currently organzied by Triple Crown Sports, the women's NIT has a long, though somewhat obscure, history that you can read about here and will, as it grows, need to tend to its future. For a long time, it was nigh on impossible to find out results, much less who was playing in the tournament, but the WNIT's workmanlike website now lists past participants and winners of the preseason and postseason events.
A lackluster game at the Garden last night as the Liberty fell 73-67. An announced crowd of 7700, and I seriously doubt that many people were in the building to see the Liberty paradoxically put up a 16-point first half and a 34-point third quarter. Sheri Sam, too big and a little too quick for the Liberty, led all scorers with 19 points; Cathrine Kraayeveld had 18 points to pace the Liberty. The Sting end a dreadful road losing streak.

Lackluster coverage, too. At the Post, Becky Hammon is, um, edited: "We played like [garbage]." Amazingly, the Post was the best of a bad lot this time around, being the only ones who noticed that the Liberty actually took a lead in this game. Thank you, Dan Martin, for your observational skills.

The full AP story running in the Bergen Record has this notable quote: "You can't spot them a 15-point lead," Liberty coach Pat Coyle said. "We got rattled early and I'm not sure why. We didn't execute at all." (Try looking in the mirror, Miz Coyle.)

Cathrine Kraayeveld's spell-checked twin Catherine made appearances in Newsday and the News. As usual, the Times has run with an AP brief nestled in with news of the Booz Allen Classic and the NFL drug policy. Apparently Mr. Schmidt is too busy chronicling the lifestyles of Wall Street traders to cover the Liberty. sports@nytimes.com. You know you want to.

If not for that third quarter, I suspect fans would have demanded and placed Coyle's head on a pike. I know we were planning a "Fire Coyle!" chant up in the 200s if the deficit against Charlotte had remained 15 in the third quarter... of course, then the Liberty put up half their point total on the night.
The Monarchs kept the score low and the game close early, but Seattle pulled away after halftime. Both teams resembled their 2004 incarnations: Bird and Jackson led all scorers, closing with nifty fast breaks, while Sacramento just couldn't find the hoop.

Bird says coach Donovan told her to take charge: "She said to me, 'All right, now is the chance to take control of the team, stay composed and not give up this lead... The last couple of games, we've been up going into the fourth quarter and we've let teams go on runs against us."

Barb Turner got her first-ever start and looked sharp.

Coach Whiz told Sacto columnist Ailene Voisin that all the distractions (his mother's death, the Kings' coaching search) have hurt his team: "The last few days I have been asking myself whether losing my mom and the Kings' situation has affected my performance. 'Am I emotionally ready to do this?' And I know that I have to be... The girls bought into our selfless style of play, and now I need to do my part."

Both the Storm and the Monarchs now sit amid the Western Conference with .500 records: the tie gets broken, one way or the other, when the Storm visit Los Angeles tonight.
Connecticut pummeled the Comets. Staley scored, but nobody else did; Thompson had just two points, a career low. The Sun took a giant lead into the half and played the visitors even the rest of the way.

Coach Thibault, not entirely pleased: "I'm going to be a little bit agitated until I feel like we're playing at the level we can play."
The Mystics lost their first home game of the year, falling to Indy.

Eileen calls it the worst game of the year. The players, postgame, were frustrated. "This was a game we should have won and we just gave it away," said Alana Beard. "It was just everyone's fault. No one stepped up and took responsibility."

The Stics missed DMJ. "We are not very deep anymore," coach Adubato said.

The Fever played a tough game, and they got some extra motivation after Chas Melvin elbowed Catchings in the face. "That made me angry because I thought it was unnecessary," said Tamika Whitmore, who led Indy with 22.
The Silver Stars lost yet another close one at home. Detroit missed their first seven shots, but Cheryl Ford controlled the paint, and Zolman-- despite her fine game overall-- missed a decisive final trey.

Ford finished with 22 and 19, her ninth double-double. Coach Laimbeer: "Cheryl was a monster for us. She completely dominated the game and did most of the damage."

Even worse news for the Stars: LaToya Thomas needs surgery after tearing her meniscus in L.A. It's her second surgery in as many years.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

At the official Fan Blog, pilight Kevin Brown lays out his claim that even great coaches tend to lose effectiveness over time.

"A successful coach," he asserts, "changes the needs of the organization and in doing so she makes herself obsolete. The first thing a coach does when taking over a team is to determine what changes need to be made. Over time, coaches tend to lose the ability to see what needs to be changed."

pilight Kevin first advanced this hypothesis to explain, or partly-explain, the Comets' struggles a couple of years back. It reminds me of temperate forest succession, and of certain large-scale theories of history.

Does it suggest that if Michael Cooper were still coaching L.A., the Sparks wouldn't be very good?

If so, is it plausible? If not, how much explanatory power does it have?

Are the best coaches the ones who can go on seeing what needs to be changed, even when whatever needs replacing or undoing emerged from that very coach's prior decisions?

Also new at the Fan Blog: Lisa describes the Storm's home-court advantage, and Melissa takes straight white boys to Sun games.

Melissa says the young men she brings to Mohegan "are falling in love with the women's game; not just the cheerleaders... These are the guys who are going to be in the room making the decision to keep Title IX around.

"I know there is going to be a day when my buddy Brian is in a meeting and someone makes some comment about lesbians and athletics. And Brian is going to cut that person to shreds 'cause he is now a WNBA fan and it was a lesbian who taught him about the game."
If you think the best pro ballers don't need to think to succeed, Clay thinks you should think again:

"Basketball in the WNBA is not just a game for the physically gifted. It's about being smarter (the pro game demands a better understanding of not only individual assignments but team goals) and it's about being mentally tougher and not giving in when things don't go well.

"The illusion that success at the highest level of the sport is determined solely by physical gifts is not one that can be sustained, and the list of college stars released by WNBA teams is littered with great athletes who couldn't think the game, or adjust to the mental pressure."
The Storm face the defending champs tonight on ESPN2 (10pm Eastern). For the first time this season, Izzy might not start.

Betty Lennox, on the other hand, says she's ready to roll after early-season struggles. “The beginning of the season I attribute to the car accident" she suffered on May 19, from which she now says she's fully recovered: “My shot was not falling – I’ve never shot like that in my life.”
Tonight the Comets visit the casino. Connnecticut look vulnerable after last week's roadtrip, in which they fell behind early twice, recovering against the lowly Sky but losing to the Mystics. Coach Thibault calls the DC game "the first time I was unhappy with our focus."

Her Majesty says more about coming out: "One thing I was really worried about was how were the parents going to react as far as their daughters who look up to me as a role model, because that's something I take a lot of pride in. I have had a lot of parents who have said, `I think what you've done is encouraging. You have always been my daughter's role model and you're even more so now.'"
Adrian Williams, happy at last with the Lynx: "I'm having more fun now than I did when I was an all-star."
Rachel Blount of the Star Tribune reports that ads for a Minneapolis strip club have been appearing in the paper's sports section (despite the paper's policy to not do that). Eight days ago, one of these ads appeared next to the Lynx game write up.

Fans of both genders -- and all ages -- should be able to read about the Twins and the LPGA without being confronted by sex-industry ads. The pitches for sexual enhancement products are likely to continue running in the sports pages, but the Star Tribune has again banished Deja Vu dancers to the classified section.
WaPo's Mike Wise examines the new-look Mystics, on-court and off:

"Attendance has leveled off as the novelty of the WNBA has leveled off. But the price of admission is no longer devalued. If the building eventually fills back up for the playoffs, it will be because the Mystics are a priority for people with many entertainment options.

"The big shame of this season is not that an injury to DeLisha Milton-Jones, maybe their best all-around player, ruins any real shot the Mystics had at a title; no, they're still good enough to compete for it. The big shame is Beard plays on the best WNBA team Washington has ever had, and only a loyal core is there to witness it."

(Via Mysticwiz.)
At BlackAthlete, the LA Times' Mike Terry turns in a long profile of Jellybean Bryant.

Lisa Leslie: "Him compared to Bibby is night and day. He's very laid-back, 'You guys figure it out, you're veterans, you know what to do.' His style is totally different from any other coach we've seen."

Monday, June 26, 2006

Birthday boy Matt Wurst recently interviewed Dawn Staley, whose experience with USA Basketball has changed her perspective on possibly coaching in the WNBA.
Graham Hays writes about Seimone's impressive rookie season so far. He also writes that she "has the demeanor of the Dali Lama crossed with J.D. Salinger, displaying a graceful shyness and reserve that ironically singles her out during even the simplest acts on the basketball court."
The "unstoppable" duo of Deanna Nolan and Cheryl Ford were too much for the Sting and the Shock overcame a five point second quarter to defeat the Sting, 81-71.

Nolan scored 26 points (20 of those in an 11 minute stretch) and Ford added 13 points and 18 rebounds to lead the Shock. "She took the game over. She can do that. Her teammates were looking for her, too. They set screens, and she took advantage of them," according to Bill Laimbeer.
In a key match-up for the top half of the Eastern Conference, the Mystics won their ninth straight home game and beat the Sun for the first time in eight games, 87-80.

"You can call it mojo, you can call if confidence -- you can call it whatever you want but we got it back tonight," said Crystal Robinson. "We now know we have what it takes to beat a great team."

Chasity Melvin who scored a season high 25 points, added "This is just a big confidence booster. I mean, Connecticut has had our number for years now. I was just trying to bring energy to the team and that is what we played off of tonight."

As with their other losses this season, the Mystics beat the Sun on the boards. "Sounds like every time we lose I have to talk about rebounding," coach Mike Thibault said. "That's been a factor in several of our losses."
Lisa Leslie surpassed 5,000 WNBA points, broke her career high scoring record for a game and her team won their eighth straight game in a 105-80 rout over the Silver Stars.

Going into the game, Leslie needed only one more point to reach 5,000 and did that in 53 seconds. By scoring 41, she set a new career high for the second time this season. Her play in the last week made her the POW in the league for the third time this season. "If she's not the greatest player to ever play, I don't know who is," Sparks Coach Joe Bryant said of Leslie.

And at nearly 34, Leslie does not appear to be slowing down. "She was vintage Lisa Leslie in every way," San Antonio coach Dan Hughes said. "No matter what we tried with her, it was difficult. She is having a good year, the best I've ever seen from her."

The Sparks shot an impressive 60% from the floor and three point range.
Sacramento had two things return in their 82-61 win over Indiana on Sunday - their trademark defense and DeMya Walker.

Walker played in her second game of the season after giving birth to a baby girl in April. In 13 minutes, she scored 11 points on 5-10 shooting. Defensively, the team held one of the most consistent scorers this season, Tamika Whitmore, to 0-6 from the floor.

According to Ticha Penicheiro, "Today we did a tremendous job defensively. We just need to play like we want it more. We need to bring it every game." Having John Whisenant back on the sidelines should also help the defending champs recapture their play from last season.
Kelly Miller returned yesterday and sparked a Merc win over the hapless Sky. Despite playing just half the game, she had 12 points, 7 assists, 5 boards, and no turnovers.

"I'm getting there," she said. "It's going to take a little bit to get back in the flow of it since I've been out for so long, but I'm feeling more comfortable."

"Tonight they shot lights out,” said Chicago coach Cowens. “Whenever they were open, they made every damn thing.”
Another late game collapse doomed Seattle in Houston, and the Storm slipped below .500.

Betty Lennox scored 29, but also took more shots than LJ and Bird combined. Fans wonder whether she's a ballhot. Coach Donovan yesterday denied rumors that Betty's on the trading block.

"Betty had a great game from start to finish," Donovan said of yesterday's game. "We weren't getting consistent scoring from anyone else."

The Comets played great, especially down the stretch, but not all the news was good. Canty broke her finger in the first quarter, and she'll now be out for 5 weeks. She had been averaging 11 points per game.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

More Q&A's from womensbasketballonline.com's Beyond the Hardwood: New York Liberty's Shameka Christon, Adeola Olanrewaju (Xavier '05) and Jessica Simmonds (George Washington '06).

Saturday, June 24, 2006

A collective double-take from New York area fans as the Times actually does a feature on a Liberty player, Christelle N'Garsanet (thanks, Stever)

While I reserve the right to remain snarky about the Times' use of AP copy to cover Liberty home games (Lena Williams: Please un-retire. At least for the summer. Please?), I do believe in saying thank you when any media outlet actually DOES cover the W. Might I encourage readers -- local and national -- to do the same? sports@nytimes.com is where you can reach the lovely people at the Sports Desk.

on edit: PSYCH!! As some posters over at rebkell have noted, the Times piece doesn't actually appear in the PRINTED version of the paper. Guess it didn't pass the "All the news that's fit to print" litmus test.

Want some hints on what to say those fearless followers of sports? Check out the fabulous womensbasketballonline.com site for a handy-dandy primer. While there, you can check out site guru Kim Callahan's new contribution to coverage: Beyond the Hardwood, Q&A's with players. Latest victim... I mean volunteer? Janel "could she be this year's Most Improved Player?" Burse.
The Fever started fast, built a big lead and then withstood a rally by the Mercury to win 83-73. Indiana took advantage of 12 first half turnovers by Phoenix to build a 16 point lead at halftime.

"We didn't rebound, we didn't defend and we didn't score," Diana Taurasi said. "When you put those three together, you're in the hole."

But the Mercury outscored the Fever by 10 in the third quarter to get back in the game. With 50 seconds left, Phoenix was within three but a steal by Tully Bevilaqua and free throws by Bevilaqua and Tamika Catchings sealed the win for the Fever. "We gave ourselves a chance to come back, but we got too far down against a team like that," Kelly Miller said.

Catchings and Tamika Whitmore combined for 46 points and the Fever got to the line 10 more times than the Mercury. Taurasi led the Mercury with 21 points, but was only 3-10 from three point range.
Seattle ended their two game losing streak and made sure San Antonio did not sweep them at home this season in a dominating 87-57 win.

SASS was within seven points early in the third quarter before Betty Lennox sparked a 20-3 run with four consecutive shots. Lennox finished with 11 points, Janell Burse added 16 and Lauren Jackson scored at will and reached 27 points in just over 24 minutes. SASS, on the other hand, missed a lot of lay ups and only connected on 31% of their shots on a franchise low five assists. The strong third quarter allowed the reserves a chance to play much of the fourth quarter and they did not let up.

With the Storm's up and down season currently on the up with this impressive game, the players just want to make sure they continue with the good play. "We gotta make sure that we do a carry-over," Lennox said. "We've been up and down, up and down, and we want to make sure that we carry this through to the rest of the games that we have."
The Sparks were not at home, but that did not stop them from extending their winning streak to seven with a 77-63 victory over the Monarchs.

That fact that L.A. won so easily with Lisa Leslie scoring only eight points in 18 minutes was impressive. "I can't carry this team every night," Leslie said. She did not have to with Mwadi Mabika scoring 24, Chamique Holdsclaw 12, and Doneeka Hodges-Lewis 10.

Kara Lawson and Ticha Penichiero were 0-10 from the floor scoreless and the Monarchs only shot 36% from the floor. "I don't have anything to say," John Whisenant said, "except that we got whipped in all areas."
The Sky played their best offensive game since their season opening win, but still came away with a loss as the Sun battled back to win 84-79.

Chicago outscored Connecticut by 12 in the second and third quarters after Nykesha Sales cooled off from her 16 point first quarter. Unfortunately for the Sky, Taj McWilliams-Franklin scored 13 of her 21 points in the final quarter and Lindsay Whalen's three point shot finally worked and she hit two deep shots to help bring the Sun back.

''That's the way it went tonight,'' Dave Cowens said. ''Whalen wasn't shooting well at all and then she makes a bunch to get them the win.'' Cowens and his players feel that despite the loss, the team is headed in the right direction. Mike Thibault gave the expansion team credit. “They played a terrific game and outplayed us for a good portion of the game. They hit some big 3-pointers. I think our experience carried us there at the end, and our conditioning.”
Houston built a big lead in the first half and ended up winning by 15, but it got a little too close in the fourth quarter for the Comets liking in a 85-70 win over the Sting.

The Comets had a 17 point lead cut to a point in the last quarter before pulling away with a 15-2 run. "That was not a 15-point win tonight — I can tell you that right now," Van Chancellor said. "The scoreboard said it was 15, but in my heart it did not feel like it was 15."

The play of Sancho Lyttle was pivotal in the last four minutes of the game when the Comets went on their final run. Chancellor added that "I just told Sancho that these were the best four minutes of basketball she's ever played as a Comet. Unbelievable. She had every statistic possible." Lyttle finished with four points, three rebounds and four steals.

Tina Thompson was battling a flu, but still led all scorers with 22 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter. The Sting lost for the fifth straight game and finished with 25 turnovers.
Today, in the Women's Sports Foundation's "It Takes a Team" email, Harriet L. Schwartz writes about coach Rene Portland and Penn State's Broken Trust.

This story may be about a coach and her players, but this is not about athletics, it is about education. And it is about a broken trust.

The essence of this story is that Portland is an adult working on a college campus and she has created a hostile and intimidating environment for students, the very students for whom she is responsible. Stated even more simply, an educator has harassed students and she's getting away with it. As a career educator, I cannot comprehend that a university administration would allow this to continue.

The WSF also celebrates Title IX at 34 and, while noting several positive improvements in opportunities for female athletes to compete, points out that there's still a long, steep hill to climb:

Girls comprise 49 percent of the high school population, but only receive 41.7 percent of all athletic participation opportunities. In college the gap is even greater: women comprise 57 percent of the college student population but receive only 43 percent of the college athletic opportunities. Besides fighting for access to athletic participation opportunities, female athletes continue to face barriers in sport, such as in the treatment and benefits they receive when they do compete.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Penny Taylor will apparently rejoin the Mercury in July, and then stick around for the rest of the season.

Without her, Vodichkova has looked all alone in the post, and the Merc have been getting killed on the boards...

just as they were last season in games without Stepanova. Paul points out that the Merc-minus-Stepanova outrebounded 9 of their 16 opponents last year. And yet, when one watched them lose to good teams, or beat bad ones, one felt that they needed more tall folks who could crash the boards, and Vodichkova often looked lonely around the glass. Same thing this year.
SI's Deitsch chats with Swoopes. Her Majesty says that after coming out, she now gets standing ovations at away games.

Swoopes also offers praise for men's-side giants: "One of the things that has been most special to me was Shaquille O'Neal and Kevin Garnett came up to me on different occasions. They hugged me and said, 'I love you, I'm proud of you and I have your back. You did what you needed to know for yourself and don't worry about what anybody else has to say.'"

(Via stever.)
A quick follow-up to my post on the enthusiastic coverage by the New York Times of the rape allegations at Duke (49 articles) vs. the dearth of coverage of the racial and sexual discrimination case against women's basketball coach Rene Portland and Penn State.

No, I didn't get any response from the Times or their columnists, but today Viv Bernstein did her part by adding yet another article on the Duke side: a piece on men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski's silence.

As I'd mentioned previously, I was sure I'd missed a couple of Times' pieces. Lucky us, Bernstein's article brought back the Special Section that offers complete coverage of the Duke case. Just LOVE that cute little logo, don't you?

Why on earth are we still waiting for their Special Section on the Penn State case?
While she hinted last week that this would be her last season if the Sparks win this year, Chamique Holdsclaw is now making it sound like she will retire regardless of how the Sparks do.

(via stever)
Similar to their match-up in Minnesota a month ago, the Lynx stayed with the Sun for part of the game. But a 11-3 run in the third quarter broke a tied game wide open the the Sun cruised to a 79-62 win.

That run and a huge rebounding advantage were too much for the Lynx to overcome. "Rebounding killed us," Seimone Augustus said. "We expected them to make plays, make runs and the only thing you can do is counter that with a run of your own. We never stopped them, and we never countered with a run of our own."

Augustus was held to 15 points with Katie Douglas guarding her most of the game. "You see her play and she's not helping off," Lynx coach Suzie McConnell Serio said of Douglas' play. "As soon as the shot goes up, she's finding Seimone and not finding the basketball. ... We at times played into their hands and allowed her to take Seimone away."

While the Sun had four players in double figures, only Augustus and Nicole Ohlde shot the ball well for the Lynx. With Nykesha Sales in pain and struggling a bit offensively, the Sun got contributions from nearly everyone else. Lindsay Whalen had one of her better offensive games of the season and matched Margo Dydek with a team high 16 points. Ashja Jones added 13 points and a game high 11 rebounds.
The Charlotte Sting had improved effort in their matinee game against the Shock, but they did not have an answer for Cheryl Ford as Detroit pulled away for a 86-74 win.

Ford continued to add offensive production to her already strong rebounding and led the Shock with 24 points and 14 rebounds. Her coach is impressed. "Cheryl Ford is becoming one of the best players, if not the best player, in the league right now," Bill Laimbeer said. "She's leading the league in rebounding and her scoring efficiency is high. She's a fun player to watch."

With four other players in double figures and a dominating rebounding advantage, the only real blemish in the game for the Shock was the 20 turnovers.

Although his team suffered their fifth straight loss, Muggsy thinks the effort put forth by his team is something to build on. "We've got to believe that once we continue to play like this, things will work in our favor," Bogues said. "As long as they keep believing, and pushing one another. We're not hanging our heads. We're going to keep fighting until we get this thing resolved."

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Erin Buescher continued to make a case for the Most Improved Player award and was unstoppable (along with Yolanda Griffith) as the Monarchs won 75-69 over the Silver Stars. It was the first road loss of the year for SASS.

The Monarchs inside duo combined for 11-15 from the floor, 12 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. Even though SASS came in aware of Buescher, Dan Hughes said his team did not do a good job on her.

While Rebeekah Brunson has struggled and Nicole Powell has been inconsistent, Buescher is having her best season. "What can you say about (Buescher)?" Ticha Penicheiro said. "I think she's having a tremendous season." Just don't tell Buescher that.
The Liberty finally got over the hurdle and beat the Mystics last night, 72-66. After losing by 35 in their first game this season, the Liberty played them closer in the last game for three quarters. An all-around effort from start to finish helped the Liberty last night.

Becky Hammon led all scorers with 23 points and is relieved with the win. "We did a better job taking care of the ball and not making sloppy mistakes at the end of the game." Shameka Christon also had a solid all-around game with a career high 21 points and an excellent defensive job on Nikki Teasley. "She killed us Saturday," Pat Coyle said of Teasley. "We switched the assignments to put Shameka on her for some size. She did a good job."

Christon felt her team's ability to withstand the runs by the Mystics was key. It's definitely a relief, especially mentally," Christon said. "Now we know what we can't and can do to stop another team's run."
The Cappie and Diana show was too much for the Storm as the Mercury won their first road game of the season, 87-80.

The dynamic duo combined for 53 points and got enough contribution from their teammates for the win. The Storm also received big contributions from two players as Lauren Jackson and Janell Burse combined for 47 points. But Seattle did not go inside enough according to their coach. "They had no answer for Lauren or JB, but we went away from that too often," Anne Donovan said. "I think we get impatient."

The Mercury erased an early Storm lead in the second quarter and Taurasi took over in the third quarter. Taurasi scored 16 of her points in that quarter, on four long and contested three point shots. This was part of a 19-3 run that Seattle never recovered from.

While Taurasi only scored two points in the last quarter, Pondexter took over for her scoring 12. “I expect that from Diana,” Donovan said. “But I expect us to contain a rookie better than we did. It’s difficult to survive the one-two punch of them.” Kevin Pelton writes this one feels like a step back for the Storm.
Chamique Holdsclaw had her best game since returning to the Sparks line up and L.A. used a big third quarter to roll past the Comets. It was the sixth win in a row for the Sparks.

Holdsclaw scored 20 points in nearly 30 minutes off the bench and followed her coach's instruction to just do her thing. Holdsclaw and Mwadi Mabika provided the scoring punch for L.A. while Lisa Leslie was on the bench in the first half with foul trouble.

The Sparks held the Comets to 10 points in the third quarter and 35% from the floor for the game. They also forced 23 turnovers, a season high for the Comets.

While Joe Bryant said his team is like putting a puzzle together with everyone contributing, Van Chancellor declared the Sparks the best team in the league right now.
The Fever barely missed and the Sky could not buy a basket and the game was basically over after the first quarter as Indy beat Chicago, 77-55.

After the first quarter, things evened out. But after the first quarter, the score was 31-6. The Fever shot 72 percent, while the Sky only connected on 21 percent of their shots in the quarter.

The win was the largest margin this season for the Fever and allowed Brian Winters to use his bench early and often. "We got to run. We had some good dribble drives and made baskets in transition. We wanted to get off to a good start. I wanted to play the bench more tonight and was able to do that so we didn’t burn people out."
Back in the world of women's college basketball, the Big 10 announced two new TV deals yesterday. As part of a deal with ABC/ESPN, a total of 100 women's basketball and volleyball events will air on an ESPN network.

More interesting is the creation of a Big 10 channel. It will be the first network launched by a major conference. The channel would have at least 55 women's basketball games. The agreement means at least $7 million in revenue for each school in the conference. The issue right now is will viewers be able to get the channel?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

New on the Lynx blog - Paul updates Season Individual Plus/Minus Totals for all of the teams. Also radio announcer Brian Sieman writes about tomorrow's Lynx game in Connecticut.
The Connecticut Sun found the perfect remedy to end their two game losing streak...play the Charlotte Sting. The Sun defeated the Sting for the third time this season, 90-66. In the three games, Connecticut has outscored Charlotte 268-202 and by an average of 22 points per game.

The Sting had Tammy Sutton-Brown back, but is apparently still missing its passion to compete and team chemistry. "I think we're doing ourselves a disservice, the city and this organization a disservice," guard Allison Feaster said. "I think everyone in here has a great heart, but we're not on the same page at the moment. I honestly think we have the players we need. I don't know if we have enough heart, and that's an insult to me. It's just a disgusting feeling."

Muggsy was frustrated with his team after the game and is "looking for five people who want to compete, defend, and play some good basketball."

Everyone on the Sun active roster got a chance to play and contribute. Nykesha Sales, who was questionable to play because of injuries, led six players in double figures. Connecticut made a record 38 field goals in the game and their bench nearly matched the starters in point production. "We kind of pride ourselves on being a reasonably deep team," Mike Thibault said. "Our bench is fairly young, but we've been playing them as much as we can and getting them some experience."

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

DeLisha Milton hurt her knee when her Mystics beat New York on Saturday. She's now been diagnosed with an MCL sprain, and will miss at least six to eight weeks.

(Props to GM Linda Hargrove for communicating directly with local bloggers, something every team should do. In other DC news, we heard a brief segment about the 'Stics' winning record on WTOP radio today: good for them. And no, we haven't abandoned the Twin Cities for Washington: we're just on the road again.)
Bob Kravitz of the Indy Star urges readers to go check out Tamika Catchings and the Fever.
Happy morning.
There is only one game on the schedule today - the third meeting of the year between the Sting and Sun. (The College World Series has bumped the usual Tuesday night game on ESPN2).

Tomorrow night, there is a highly anticipated showdown with the top two teams in the West - Houston at L.A. While the Sparks are currently at the top, Graham Hays writes the Comets may be the best.

As for tonight's game, the Sun look to bounce back from their two losses out West over the weekend. But they may have to do it without Nykesha Sales, who is nursing an assortment of injuries. The Sting may play without Helen Darling and Tammy Sutton-Brown again. And they hope to play better in the second half then they have in their last few games. Sutton-Brown's injury has given rookie Tye'sha Fluker an opportunity for more minutes.
Laurie Koehn was not drafted out of Kansas State, even though she is the all time 3 point leader in NCAA history. But she has found a home with the Mystics.

Oscar Dixon takes a look at the sharp shooter. Of the 96 shots she has taken, 89 have been 3-point attempts - that's 96.3% of all of her shots.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The new 24 second shot clock appears to be agreeing with the WNBA. Scoring is up. John Maxwell takes a closer look at the impact for the Shock.
The Sting had a 10 point lead in the fourth quarter but had no answer for the Tamikas or the Fever in overtime as Indiana came back for a 92-85 win.

Tamika Catchings and Tamika Whitmore combined for 56 points and 19 rebounds and their team held Charlotte to two field goals in overtime. With the Fever trailing in the 4th quarter, Catchings knew her team had to pick up their defensive intensity.

Charlotte seems to match up well with the Fever and Whitmore commented that the Sting are a "very talented team, but they need more chemistry."
The Sparks continued as the hottest team in the league by capturing their fifth straight win in a 80-69 victory over the Monarchs.

Mwadi Mabika tied a league record with seven three pointers and led all scorers with 27 points. "I just stayed focused because I knew the players that played 30 minutes last night, they were going to be tired," Mabika said. "So I tried to stay focused and take the game over. I am a shooter. That's what I do. I am very confident. I guess I need to do a miracle every night."

Sparks coach Joe Bryant said the win while facing adversity shows his teams can be special. While Monarchs coach John Whisenant is a little concerned about his team. "Right now we're not the same team that won the championship. But that doesn't mean we can't get there," Whisenant said.

Being outscored by 13 in the final quarter is especially a concern for the Moarchs coach. "Just look at 29 points in the last quarter," Whisenant said while looking at the final stat sheet. "Our defense is what got us in the game and got us the lead. "To handle a team like Los Angeles following back-to-back games, you have to do some things right. We got indecisive offensively at times."
The Lynx redeemed themselves from their last game and kept Phoenix in last place in the West with a 94-82 win.

Seimone Augustus went back to her usual impressive scoring and matched her career high with 32 points. Augustus was matched up for most of the game with Cappie Pondexter. While both players made shots that wowed the crowd, the individual accolades are not as important as how their teams are doing. "I relish any challenge. I enjoy the game,'' Pondexter said. "We're just trying to get a win... . It is good to see her. I am glad she is doing well, but my focus is (on the team).''

As in the other games the Lynx have won, it took more than Augustus to succeed. Tamika Williams and Nicole Ohlde immediately established an inside presence with their rebounding and aggressive play in the paint. The Lynx dominated the final rebounding and points in the paint numbers. That was the difference in the game accoring to Suzie McConnell-Serio.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Alana Beard seemed to be everyone on the court and matched Nikki Teasley's career high 26 points as the Mystics pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 88-70 win over the Liberty. Beard added nine rebounds, four assists, five steals and a block in an impressive performance. Teasley hit 6 of 10 from three point range.

Despite the dominating performance by their backcourt, the Mystics do have one concern. Delisha Milton-Jones injured her knee in the second quarter with what appears to be a sprained knee. "It's a big win, but it comes with a price," Washington Coach Richie Adubato said. "Now, the question is, how big will that price be?"

Liberty coach Pat Coyle admired the play of the "Score Sisters," but said her team turned the ball over too much. "The last quarter killed us. We made a couple of mistakes on our part. And we made a couple of mistakes in transition, so it went from being 6 to 15 in a second.”
San Antonio built a big lead in the first half and survived a valiant comeback attempt by the Sky to hold on for a 69-65 win and remain perfect on the road.

It was the 10th loss in a row for the Sky, but this one felt different. The Sky trailed by 17, but went on a 19-0 run in the second and third quarters to take a lead. Chicago stayed in it until SASS hit six free throws in the last 30 seconds for the win.

Jia Perkins scored 13 of her 21 points in the second half in the Sky's rally. “I think we went on a good run,” Perkins said. “We were down, but we came back to take the lead. We’re just going to try to finish it off next time. Brooke Wyckoff said before the game, "We're staying positive. What else can you do?"

Both teams had four players in double figures, despite not shooting the ball well. "We had good balanced scoring," Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes said. "I thought we battled, kept ourselves in the game and made free throws down the stretch."
The road trip out West has not been kind to the Sun. One night after losing a close game to the Mercury, the Sun fizzled in the fourth quarter and the Sparks won by 12.

The Sun built a nine point lead in the first quarter, but the Sparks slowly chipped away behind Lisa Leslie's 20 first half points. L.A. extended a two point lead at the end of the third quarter with a 8-0 run to start the last quarter and the Sun never recovered. Leslie matched her career high with 32 points and a healthy Christi Thomas added 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Like their loss on Friday, the Sun allowed their opponent a higher FG percentage and more rebounds.
The Shock improved to 5-0 at home behind strong play from Deanna Nolan and Cheryl Ford in a decisive 71-55 win over the Comets.

Nolan and Ford combined for 38 points and 21 rebounds and helped hold the Comets to season low point total. Bill Laimbeer commented after the game that Ford is "fun to watch," and "when Nolan plays at that level, she's the best player in the world."

As usual, Sheryl Swoopes and Tina Thompson led the Comets in scoring. But no one else on the team made more than two baskets and the team shot under 30% from the floor.

In other Shock news, the Detroit Free Press profiles Katie Smith and her dad for Father's Day. "His mentality of a workmanship and being task-oriented and wanting to do a good job and wanting to do well -- that's kind of how I am," Katie says.
In a game where the lead and momentum changed often, the Monarchs had both at the most important time and held off the Storm 76-74.

Betty Lennox was nearly unstoppable in the first half scoring 13 points in the second quarter to give the Storm a seven point lead at half-time. But Kara Lawson and Ticha Penicheiro helped change the momentum in the second half. Lawson scored seven of her team high 16 points to cut the Storm's lead to two going into the fourth quarter. Penicheiro became more agressive on both ends of the floor. "She was determined that we weren't going to lose this game," Monarchs coach John Whisenant said.

The Storm clung to a one point lead with 3:15 remaining, when they turned the ball over on two consecutive possessions that resulted in baskets by Erin Buescher. Despite this and only connecting on 2 of 12 from the floor in the final quarter, the Storm stayed close by getting to the free throw line. Barb Turner intentionally missed her last free throw attempt with less than two seconds left in the game, but the Storm could not get the ball.

Sue Bird: "The thing with this team is you can’t give them offensive rebounds and you can’t turn the ball over and we took care of half of that. Turnovers are going to happen, it’s part of the game, but our turnovers led to a lot of fast-break layups. That’s really where it hurt us."

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Comets started off the game a little sluggish, but turned things around in the second quarter and never looked back as Houston swept the series with New York in a 72-58 win.

The 4,000th career point by Sheryl Swoopes was part of a 8-0 run by the Comets near the end of the first half to give Houston the lead for good. Tina Thompson led all scorers with 22 points and the Comets outshot the Liberty 53% to 37% for the game.

"Not a lot of good things happened out there tonight," Becky Hammon said. "We broke down offensively and defensively. We continue to talk about the snowball effect, and it started to snow."
For the second game in a row, Diana Taurasi established a career high as the Mercury held off the Sun for a 91-86 win. Taurasi scored 15 of her 35 points in the fourth quarter and put her team up for good with 5:47 left with two free throws.

The Sun started the game a little flat and turned the ball over early before settling down and using better shot selection. Katie Douglas scored 27 points on 5-8 from three point range and limited Cappie Pondexter to 15 points. But the Sun allowed the worst rebounding team in the league to outrebound them by one and never found an answer for Taurasi.

"Normally we knock down shots down the stretch," Douglas said. "We definitely couldn't buy a break."
Detroit used a 9-0 run in the third quarter to take control of a close game with Indiana and pulled away with a 71-63 win at home.

Cheryl Ford was a dominating force inside with 15 points and 18 rebounds and the Shock outrebounded the Fever by 17. Swin Cash frustrated Tamika Catchings into a disappointing three points on 1-10 from the floor. "She's a phenomenal player," said Cash. "She makes the whole team go and I knew the focus would have to be on defense tonight. It was just about making it tough for her."
Pee Wee Johnson had a season best night and Seimone Augustus had the worst night of her young career as the Silver Stars won for the first time at home this season in a 90-60 rout over the Lynx.

Johnson scored twice as many points as the whole Lynx team in the first quarter and Minnesota never recovered. The Lynx were dominated in nearly every category, but the most glaring differences in the game were rebounding and field goal percentage. SASS outrebounded the Lynx 56-39 and hit 42% of their shots, compared to 29% for the Lynx.

Nearly half of the 32 first quarter points scored by SASS came on fast breaks. "That killed us," Minnesota coach Suzie McConnell Serio said. "They had strong energy and beat us down the court time and time again."

Augustus, who was not feeling well from eating too close to game time, only connected on 2 of her 14 shots and finished in single digits in a game for the first time in over 100 games.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Voepel on Catchings:

Catchings has other things going for her, too. Such as having more appreciation for and knowledge about women's basketball's past than many players her age. She's liked and respected by fellow WNBA players and fans. And when you think of adjectives for Catchings, "genuine" registers as strongly as "competitive."
Lauren Jackson filled up the box score and the Storm swept the series with the Sky in a 74-61 win in Chicago.

Jackson had 27 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, and 6 blocked shots and the remarkable thing is that most was done in the second half. After two subpar offensive performances in her last two games, LJ's confidence may have been lacking a bit in the first half. With the score tied at halftime, Anne Donovan told her star that she was the only one who could get herself going.

The loss was the ninth in a row for the Sky, and the players are of course frustrated. “It’s very frustrating; it’s hard to put into words,” said Sky forward Stacey Lovelace, who tallied a team-high 15 points. “But we don’t have time to sit around and feel sorry for ourselves. We just need to maintain a good attitude and stay positive.”

To add to the frustration, the expansion team is also battling injuries to key players. Only nine players dressed for the game. "They know better days are ahead when we get healthy," Dave Cowens said. "We almost have a squad on the bench. There are a couple of pretty good players over there."
The Mystics and Sting met for the third time this season and the second time this week. Like Tuesday's game, Charlotte faded in the second half. While they led by four at half, the Sting gave up a record 35 points in the third quarter and Washington ran away with the win, 96-77.

Janel McCarville: "We can hang with some of the best teams in the league during the first half, but coming out of halftime something just doesn't click with us. We just have to figure out what it is and eliminate it."

Rookie Monique Currie had a season high 22 points but the Mystics had five players in double figures, including 17 from both Nikki Teasley and Delisha Milton-Jones. Washington shot an impressive 65% from the floor and scored on its first nine possessions in the pivotal third quarter. Sheri Sam said her team played like it was in quicksand.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Houston enjoyed the brief return of Sheryl Swoopes to the line-up and a dominating performance by Tina Thompson as they pulled away for a 73-66 win over Sacramento. It was win number 200 for Van Chancellor.

Swoopes scored 11 points in her first game since June 4, before injuring her ankle in the third quarter. After the Monarchs went on a 13-4 run in the fourth quarter to take a 61-59 lead, Michelle Snow forced overtime with a lay up, but missed the free throw that would have won the game. In the overtime, Thompson took over scoring eight of her game high 26 points as the Comets went on a 12-1 run.

The Comets won most of the statistical categories, but needed the overtime after the Monarchs turned up the defensive pressure in the second half and limited Houston to 25 points. Offensively, John Whisenant said his team is struggling.
Seattle used a balanced attack and took advantage of a pretty lethargic performance by the Lynx to win 74-66 and end their two game losing streak.

Seimone Augustus continued to impress the home crowd with her offensive talents by scoring a new career high of 32 points, but no other teammate scored in double figures. In the games they've won, the Lynx have moved and shared the ball. Last night there was too much standing around.

"Seattle did a good job of getting out and pressuring our wings, making passes difficult," Lynx coach Suzie McConnell Serio said. "We looked like spectators out there."

Three former Lynx players were key for the victory as Betty Lennox and Janell Burse combined for 29 points and Shaun Gortman did a nice job defensively on Augustus at the end of the game as the Storm pulled away in the fourth quarter.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Job opening at Penn State (no, not for head coach):
The Pennsylvania State University is seeking qualified candidates for an Assistant Director of Athletic Communications. Responsibilities include serving as the primary contact with the nationally-ranked women's basketball program; supervision of students working with selected sports; producing printed materials, news releases, feature stories and additional content for GoPSUsports.com, the official website of Penn State Athletics; responding to media requests; staffing home and selected away events; supervision of students and statistical crews and other duties as assigned.
During halftime of the Sting-Mystics game last night, Donna Orender revealed the 10 members of the All-Decade team and the five players who earned honorable-mention. The team will be formally honored during the All-Star Game on July 12.

The team was voted by fans, the media and current players and coaches. Some may question the final results, but the accomplishments of all of the players are impressive.

"It's hard," Tamika Catchings said of choosing between players. "I mean, there were great players that were in the league in the beginning and that have helped make and take the WNBA to where it is today. I am very fortunate and blessed to be a part of this team. I remember when I was watching the great players before my time hoping that I'd have an opportunity to play with them. And now ... I'm part of the first historic all-decade team."
The Mystics scored 33 points in the 4th quarter -- tying a league record -- and ran away from Charlotte.

"Everything just all came together in the fourth quarter and that's the way we need to play all season," Chasity Melvin said. "We have to play team basketball and not settle for jump shots like we did in the first half."

The Sting looked pretty sloppy with Helen Darling, and really sloppy when she went out with a hamstring injury. They committed 26 turnovers, including 16 in the second half. "Our rookie came in and wasn't able to get the job done tonight," coach Bogues said of LaToya Bond, Darling's replacement.
Los Angeles shredded the Mercury on the inside, shooting 58% and scoring 62 points-- not a misprint-- in the paint.

Holdsclaw (22 and 12) says she'll retire if the Sparks win it all: "The championship is what I'm searching for. If I win this year, I'm done."

Merc coach Westhead explains how his team fell: "Leslie was getting off so we decided to trap her and double-up on her. Then she started to make some spectacular passes to her teammates, who then chewed us up.... We changed defenses and nothing seemed to work."
The Liberty last night gave away another home game, this time falling to the Fever 80-78 in OT. "That one really hurts," confessed Becky Hammon, whose clutch shooting, which helped stretch the game to over time, wasn't enough to secure the win. An ice cold jumper from Tamika Catchings with 0.1 second remaining sealed the deal, despite a valiant defensive effort from the ever-intense Ashley Battle. Catchings ended the night with 30 points and 9 boards. NY alum Tamika Whitmore put up 10 points and had a big steal off a bad pass by Loree Moore in the final seconds of OT.

For stretches, the Liberty played like a team that can compete in this league. A strong defensive showing early in the first half kept the Fever's field goal percentage below 40, and rebounding limited Indy's second-chance points. But you know you have problems when your starting backcourt nearly out-rebounds your frontcourt. When NY let their defense and rebounding slide, Indy climbed back in the game. "It shouldn't come down to the last shot," admitted Kelly Schumacher, who had six boards to go with her 16 points.

Before the game, Pat Coyle discussed the "process" of gelling as a team, and making "progress" as the season evolves. Some would call this little talk an effort at "buying time" by a coach who is staring at a 2-7 record and a team that can clearly do better. Schumacher seems more impatient: "We're tired of hearing about how we're getting better and how we have so many new faces. We're tired of saying it." That's good, because judging by the thin attendance at the Garden last night (certainly less than the announced 7,797) most New York fans are tired of hearing it.

Finally, more anemic coverage from the Times to match an anemic crowd?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Via 4ever: congrats to Marie Ferdinand on her new baby boy.
Graham Hays has a nice piece on Amber Jacobs, the Lynx starting point guard (via jengirl).

She is the only starter on the team who is not a first round pick and is currently leading the team in assists, while being enough of an offensive threat herself that defenses can't ignore her.
Paul runs the early efficiency numbers for the league. Possessions per game are up over last year — predictably, given the new shot clock.

But counterintuitively: points per possession are also up.
In Charlotte, coach Muggsy finds compliments for both his point guards, Helen Darling and rookie LaToya Bond.

Darling had seven assists in Friday's win. She's currently fourth in the league in steals per game, but first in turnovers per game. "I'm going to bring the energy, and my defense will pick up my offense," she says.

Muggsy: "Helen is getting more confident every time she steps on the floor. LaToya forced her to play better. They're totally different players, and complement each other."
Cynthia Cooper remembers the W's first years: "It was about time for the American public to see what women had to offer. And we were prepared to make the necessary sacrifices and now we're seeing the fruits of our labor."

Soon enough fans (well, one fan) recognized her in South Africa. "I was ordering my food and I heard `aren't you Cynthia Cooper of the WNBA... It was amazing. It had become global."

She also describes her friendship with Vickie Johnson, and she talks money: ""I don't think a lot of people realized how long the NBA took to get to [its current, very large] salaries."

Coop is one logical candidate for the W's all-decade team, whose ten members the league will announce tonight during ESPN2's Sting-Mystics game.
USA Today's Oscar Dixon looks at two teams with completely different problems so far this season. The Silver Stars have yet to win at home and the Mystics have yet to win on the road.

Fortunately for the Mystics, they play at home tonight against the Sting (ESPN 2). They are, however, coming off a loss to Connecticut on Sunday, so Richie Audobato had his team work on rebounding and hustle in yesterday's practice.

The Silver Stars are off until Friday when they try for a second time to beat the Lynx at home.
Clay says the WNBA should stop expanding because the Chicago Sky is so bad. Some Board Junkies disagree.

Yes, the Sky is bad (are bad?)-- just as first-year expansion teams are in all sports.

Yes, the level of play in a league with 16 (or 20) teams will be below the level of play in a league with 12 (or 10)-- though given how bad some established teams have been recently, you could argue that the real limiting factor isn't the level of talent available so much as the number of competent coaching staffs.

The (considerable) marketing advantages of more teams in major markets (Donna's stated reason for seeking expansion) may be serious indeed: Val Ackerman was a lawyer, but Donna comes from marketing and TV-- she knows whereof she speaks.

The strongest case for expansion plans, though, is the simplest: the worst thing for the league would be more teams folding, and expansion is insurance against contraction.

The W has more committed owners than it once did, but there are still several whose NBA-centred owners think about them only on alternate Thursdays. There's also the scary prospect of the Sonics moving: what would become of the Storm?

If Donna Orender plans an expansion team for Kansas City in 2008, and some NBA owner decides to get out of the WNBA business after the summer of '07, the relevant team can simply move to KC: no expansion, no contraction.

But if Orender wants to wait on expansion until she's ultra-sure the talent pool merits it, and the same NBA owner throws in the towel, then we'll have another dispersal draft. I'd rather see stagnant offensive play from bad new teams every two years, forever, than have to endure another one of those.