Women's Hoops Blog: December 2006

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Maryland's recent string of easy victories hasn't struck us as worth writing about-- it's a dog-bites-man (or turtle-eats-cupcake) story-- but the Basket Cases have made them worth reading about: check out their enthusiastic coverage of the Terps' win over Marist.
New Lynx coach Don Zierden lists his goals: "We want to make things easier for Seimone."
After Stanford lost three nonconference matches, some folks thought the Cardinal's Pac-10 dominance might have ended. Perhaps they spoke too soon. Smith, Wiggins and company overtook Arizona State after halftime: Smith finished with 19 and 10, including late free throws that preserved the win.

Stanford have now defeated ASU in Maples 23 times in a row. Wiggins: "It's huge... We have a lot to prove."
Rutgers ran out of gas in Norfolk and lost to Old Dominion. The Scarlet Knights, who haven't won a road game this year, shot 22% for the second half; Kia Vaughn fouled out.

Old Dominion, for their part, begin conference play with a sub-.500 record despite the win: they'll need to win the CAA to make the Big Dance. History says not to worry-- but Hofstra have to be the favorite this year.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Pokey Chatman Foundation is sponsoring a Katrina Relief Auction. Amongst other items, you can bid on a Temeka Johnson Final Four Autographed photo or a signed Lauren Jackson Jersey (replica) or Sue Bird Jersey (authentic).
Renee Dorfman, Patriot League Coordinator of women's basketball officials is interviewed for the League's website. Dorfman says the process of becoming a collegiate official "is now in a rebirth or developmental program."
The Patriot League is a part of the only developmental program currently being offered. Former student-athletes, coaches and administrators are being offered opportunities to enter a five-year program with on-going mentoring from some of the nations' top officials. (All mentors have worked at least the Women's NCAA Division I Tournament Regional or higher.) During the official's development, Division II and III coordinators are invited to see the new candidates and offer games with structured crews.
Of note: Interested spectators can order the 2006 NCAA Women's Basketball Rules Clinic DVD for detailed Power Point and Video Clip rules interpretations. You can also purchase it in book form.
After a lousy first half, UConn rolled over the Hartford Hawks 62-36. Kaylana Greene and Renee Montgomery did everything right; Ketia Swanier-- better-known for steals and breakaway layups-- had five assists.

Montgomery got things started with consecutive treys. "You could feel the momentum swinging our way," she said.

Tina Charles left early, her shoulder still hurting; big frosh Kaili McLaren replaced her at center for much of the game. "In the beginning it was not fun at all. When everything came together it was fun," McLaren explained.

Expect Charles to sit out Sunday's game against Sacred Heart: if she's unavailable, next week's Tennessee match may not be fun at all.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Women's basketball fans probably know more about Maggie Dixon than they do of the athletes she coached at West Point. In her article "In Army's Locker Rooms, War Toll Hits Close to Heart," the New York Times' Juliet Macur writes about the young men and women training to be officers, noting "at least 14 of the 44 former cadets killed in action since 2003 played intercollegiate sports. They included former captains of the baseball, hockey and swim teams; a hammer thrower; and men’s soccer players."
Coaches and teammates have had a particularly difficult time dealing with the deaths because West Point teams grow so close. They weather the pressure of juggling military training with studies with Division I sports, the highest collegiate level. They spend more time with one another than with anyone else, at practices, on trips and at meals, where the teams sit together.

When athletes graduate, they share their war-zone experiences with cadets via e-mail messages to remind them that teamwork is crucial to success at West Point and on the battlefield.

But death severs those relationships.
Missed the Maya Moore show? You can look at highlights on the Versus (ex-OLN) network website OR watch a replay of the Championship game Saturday, December 30th, 4pm EST (I think. Do double check).
A couple of milestones reached: Baylor's Kim Mulkey and University of Southern Florida's Jose Fernandez became their program's all-time leaders in career wins.
Those lucky enough to flip through the upper register of their cable channels discovered the "Versus" channel (the old OLN) were able to witness the Maya Moore show up in Seattle during the T-Mobile Invitational. Those who didn't will have to settle for game reports like this one or this one: "When they list the great performances in the history of Edmundson Pavilion," writes Craig Smith, "they better include what a Georgia schoolgirl did there Thursday."

After dragging her team back from the brink of defeat against a fine Winter Haven team, Moore scored a career high 48 points, adding 13 rebounds and 7 steals as she led Collins Hills to victory and the championship over St. Elizabeth. Said Versus play-by-play announcer, "She's doing the impossible tonight."
Over at SPORTScentral (Original Sports Fan Commentary since 1998) Diane M. Grassi weighs in on the CWA's proposal to ban male practice players. "NCAA Gives New Meaning to Gender-Bias," reads her title (though the subtitle could read "When Fact-Checkers Go on Vacation." Who knew Rene Portland had been replaced by "Russ Rose?")
Before losing in overtime to Illinois last night, Penn State suffered another blow. The team announced that Adrienne Squire has left the team. The junior was a starter and third leading scorer.

While Squire did not return to campus after Christmas, she is expected to return in the second semester as a student at PSU.

No other member of Squire's freshman class are still with the team. Lisa Etienne left at the end of the 2004-05 season with Jen Harris and Amber Bland. She is now a starter for Hartford and was interviewed by Lori Riley of the Courant. After PSU's loss to Liberty in the NCAA tournament, Etienne recalls that Rene Portland blamed the loss on everything from socks to study hall.

Etienne's team will try to end their two game losing streak against UConn tonight.
George Washington surprised Georgia, pulling away from the Dawgs in San Diego after a tied first half. UGA had 24 turnovers; GW's Lawrence and Beck combined for 30.

The Colonials won despite the absence of head coach Joe McKeown, still recovering from knee surgery: McKeown hurt his knee by practicing with the team.

Assistant Mike Bozeman, after the win: "This team is coach's Cadillac-- I'm just borrowing the car."
If you think male practice players matter only for big schools, or Division I schools, or schools that spend tons of money on athletics, you should probably think again.

Macalester College, where Steve teaches, is a Division III school that decided to stop playing women's basketball entirely for the '04-05 season when an already shorthanded squad kept getting hurt. The team played less than a full schedule last year: "If we could just keep enough people on the roster to get through the schedule, we were pretty confident we could keep the program going and start rebuilding," guard Callie PaStarr recalls.

Coach Ellen Thompson came to Mac a year ago; she played on the 1991 St Thomas team that won a Division III national championship, and worked at St Thomas from 1998 to '05 as an assistant coach.

Last week we asked coach Thompson about male practice players at Macalester. Her response:

"The male practice squad is sure a hot topic right now in women's basketball. We did not use such a squad at St. Thomas. While I was there, we always had big squads and pretty good teams. I don't know if there was a policy against it, but it was never really brought up as an option.

"I have used male practice squad members at Macalester. We absolutely could not have survived last year without them because our numbers were so low. [Emphasis added.] We still use them this year because it gives our team a chance to practice against stronger, faster competition. The practice squad is not limited to only males. We have had a few women on the squad.

"I believe that being on the squad gives people a chance to play the game they love without a full time commitment. It is also a chance for them to help our program. I've seen many of our practice members at our games supporting us.

"I believe that practice squads should continue, but I'm fine with some limitations. We only use our practice squad in scrimmage situations. They do not participate in our drills, nor do I believe they should. I think a limitation on the number of days per week is fine, as is limiting the size of the squad.

"I try to be conscious of the gender equity issue. I don't want my players to feel as though their opportunities are limited because of the practice squad. Generally, we scrimmage against the squad and I have a chance to rotate all of my players in during the scrimmage, rather than having part of my team playing 'scout' team all the time."

After an upset victory over Wisconsin-River Falls, this year's Scots improved to 2-5 (0-4 in conference). Mac plays eleven home games in January: coach Thompson and her team-- and Steve, and his coworkers-- would appreciate your support.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

CSTV takes notice of Hofstra's Lizanne Murphy. Just 38 points short of 1,000, putting her fourth on Hofstra's all-time scoreing and rebounding lists, Murphy is, says CSTV's Jeff Lippman, "not an average student athlete."
Aside from basketball and her 3.6 GPA, the biology major with a triple minor in chemistry, French and psychology--yes, that's not a mistake, she is a triple minor--also tutors other Hofstra students in math, biology and chemistry.

"When you tutor you don't really do that much, you can't take any credit," she said, like anyone thought she would take credit. "You show them an easier way to solve something and they end up figuring it out for themselves. You spend a lot of time learning and helping and when you help someone get it, it's a good feeling."
Grace Daley, the all-time leading scorer in Tulane women's basketball, will be have her jersey retired on Friday.
Wondering where Suzie McConnell-Serio (and clan) is? Back in Pittsburgh. Is a college gig in her future?
"Seeing the atmosphere at colleges when I've gone to scout, that is an atmosphere I know I would enjoy, and I think my kids would enjoy being a part of that type of environment," she said.
Rumors of a Charlotte dispersal draft have been kicking around for the last few days.

The league has only a few options, none of them good. And with each passing day, the prospects for moving the team to a new market get worse. If the league hasn't already given up on that possibility, it will soon.

On the bright side, McCarville might come home.
At the Double-A Zone, Carleton coach Tammy Metcalf-Filzen discusses her use of male practice players, and objects to the CWA's recommendation.
The NCAA’s Committee on Women’s Athletics refuses to consider what the coaches are saying. They have not asked us for input. The assumptions being made are ill informed and are being made by folks with little or no understanding of what is being done on the practice floor every day across the country.
Coaches around the country continue to insist that the CWA's factual assumptions about how guys are used are flatly false.

"It is quite simply incorrect - that's all there is to it," says Richmond coach Michael Shafer. "I don't know of any coach - not one - who's going to say,'OK - we're going to let the starters play against the guys all afternoon. The rest of you - you're going to stand here and watch.'"

"I don't like to have kids standing around and watching during practice," says VCU coach Beth Cunningham said. "We keep as many players involved as possible, and we keep them involved to as great an extent as possible."

Arizona coach Joan Bonvicini calls the whole thing "a crock." Players at Valpo agree.

Is there any actual basketball coach or player who supports the CWA?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Congrats to Florida International coach Cindy Russo, who won her 600th career game to become the 16th Division I women's basketball coach to reach that plateau. Who else is nearing that mark? UConn's Geno Auriemma (598) and Arizona's Joan Bonvicini (597).
No surprises in the Division I USA/ESPN Coaches' poll: Maryland and UNC are still #1 and #2, but Oklahoma dropped to #7 with with its loss at home to Ohio State. Interestingly enough, the Buckeyes stayed at #8 while everyone else moved up a notch.

Looking for some info on upper echelon high school ball? Over at USA Today you can check out their latest "Super 25," a ranking of the nation's best girls high school teams and read some of Christopher Lawlor's analysis.

Make sure you visit HoopGurlz.com for their coverage of the first T-Mobile Invitational starting December 27th out in Seattle. HoopGurlz offers previews of local team Issaquah, Florida's Winter Haven (Kentucky signess Amber Smith), and favorite Collins Hill out of Georgia. Led by Maya Moore, Collins Hill is coming off a 75-61 victory over Long Beach Poly in the Nike Tournament of Champions. The fourth team is St. Elizabeth (Del), featuring Rutgers signee Khadijah Rushdan.

Those in the Seattle area (and those with DirectTV) can check out every game on the VERSUS television network. Seattle's Post-Intelligencer does a nice article on Moore, and lays out the times of the games.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

UConn thumped Oakland in Hartford, but not without cost: Tina Charles landed on, and banged up, the same shoulder she hurt in high school. (Geno expects that with rest, she'll be good to go.)

Much-injured Brittany Hunter had a superb first half but may have reinjured her knee. Geno: "She looked great when she was out there. And then she said she landed on it and felt something. So we don't know whether it's just irritated or whether she tweaked something in there."

With Charles and Hunter, in the first half, the Huskies controlled the paint; without them, in the second, the Huskies still controlled the paint, outdoing Oakland on the glass by 21. Next up: Jen Rizzotti's Hartford Hawks.

UPDATE: the Courant blog squad chats with Hunter about the knee. "It's not too bad," she says.

Also blogging the Huskies this season: the Norwich Bulletin's Joe Perez, and the several reporters who cover UConn for the New London Day.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

At the Des Moines Register yesterday, Dan Johnson had an excellent examination of the male practice player issue, with quotes from coaches, players, and worried administrators. Too many good points to choose one -- read the whole thing.

The AP ran this report yesterday. And at the New York Sun, Martin Johnson summed up the response.
A large portion of the outcry is over the misplaced political correctness of the proposal, trying to create more opportunities for female student-athletes by diminishing the quality of the sport. Also, some of the vehemence owes to the fact that CWA clearly didn't perform their due diligence in checking out many colleges and seeing firsthand how players are used.
There is no WHB curse: Hofstra beat Hartford 70-54.

The Pride are now 9-1. "It's hard to describe [the roll] we are on," senior forward Lana Harshaw said. "We talk about it a little bit, but Coach has been keeping us grounded."
Michelle Snow is giving out turkeys to needy families in Pensacola; she flew home from Korea (where she's playing this winter) in order to do it.
Cal State Northridge took Michigan State to overtime. The Matadors-- who have now won three games and lost nine-- led at the half.

Coach McCallie praised CSUN's Oka Tulikihihifo (23 points) and Jamie McCaa (whose trey forced the extra frame), then added, Brenda-esquely, "We love overtime." The Spartans have won their last six OT games, a streak that began in fall 2002.
Via Stever, from Palm Springs, California: recent developments in the life of Machine Gun Molly Bolin, the nonstop scorer and icon from the days of the WBL.

Bolin (now Kazmer) and husband John run a shooting camp on the West Coast.

The University of Iowa owns and has cataloged Machine Gun Molly's papers. Sports historians, academic and otherwise: why not visit Iowa City and sort them out?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Two players weigh in on the proposed ban on male practice players.

At Mel's blog, former Vassar baller Acacia O'Connor calls the CWA's proposal "absurd."
I can only speak from my experience right now — I’m not certain how or how frequently practice players are used at the DI level — but even as the last player on the bench, I never questioned the use of men in our practice or begrudged their presence.
Far from taking away opportunities, I got to play against the guys along with everyone else, which without doubt improved my game.
At the Double-A Zone, Chrissy Givens gives her thoughts.
My personal experience with a male practice team has been beneficial. Having males to practice against also allows for there to be more rotation during practice. The girls are able to sub in and out and no one has to stay in the entire practice. The team gets to play together the entire practice instead of compete against each other. Team cohesion and togetherness on the court can be built with players getting to play with different members on the team. Also time would not have to be spent with players flipping over jerseys due to changing from defense to offense or vice versa. This is just my opinion, but I feel male practice squads are very beneficial to a women’s sport.
Yes, there was a game up in Storrs, CT last night, but the post-game ceremony is what kept fans in their seats (actually, standing) after the Huskies 93-58 victory over Colorado State. The program's 10 Kodak All-Americans (and coach Geno Auriemma) were inducted into the "Huskies of Honor" program at Gampel Pavillion
It was a time for reminiscing as one by one, Kerry Bascom, Rebecca Lobo, Jennifer Rizzotti, Kara Wolters, Nykesha Sales, Shea Ralph, Svetlana Abrosimova, Sue Bird, Swin Cash were honored. All but Abrosimova (playing in Russia) and Ralph (assistant coaching in Bermuda) attended and spoke crowd after plaques bearing their names and numbers were unveiled by members of the current UConn team. Amidst the flow of emotions and memories, there were several comic gems. A couple highlights:

Rebecca Lobo: "And I just want to thank coach Auriemma. I spent most of my four year here hearing coach tell me I was the worst post player in America. I'm just happy that he just told me that he's got the FIVE worst post players in America. (She looks up at current players and waves.) "So thanks, guys."

Sue Bird/Diana Taurasi: They both flew in from Russia for the ceremony. Emcee Bob Piccozzi mentioned the flight had been 18 hours. Bird thanked him for the props, but pointed out he was being like everyone's parents who moaned how "when they were young they walked 3 hours to school. It was only 10 hours. But 18 sounds good."

Later, when it's Taurasi's turn at the mic she says, "Like Bob said, I actually travelled a 28 hours to get me here, so I'm a little tired. It great to come back and see everyone. Coach, you look great. Lost a little weight. Looks awesome." (He got her back for that later.)

As for the game: weird stat of the week? Colorado State was 10-24 from 3-point land and 8-24 from inside the arc. And those 8 buckets were scored in the second half.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

How does Hofstra use its men in practice? I just spoke with first-year head coach (and Dixon Award candidate?) Krista Kilburn-Steveskey and asked her.

She uses them as one group of a three-group rotation for various drills in practice. Because she often only has 3 or 4 guys, she ends up putting a player or two with them to fill out that group.

Rather than using the guys as a scout team for scrimmages, Coach Kilburn-Steveskey mostly uses them for other types of drills, especially drills where she can use them as trapping and scrambling defenders. For example, she runs fast-break drills 5-4 and 5-3 with the guys as the defenders. Because the guys are so fast and can cover so much ground, it teaches her players to make quick decisions in transition.

The benefits of using men in practice, she said, are "outstanding." "We don’t face anybody in our league with that kind of quickness and athleticism."

I asked if using the guys in practice means that players (especially reserves) end up standing around more. She said no. She hates to waste practice time that way. Practice needs to be constructive, and she wants everyone to be working as much as possible.

"I'm like most coaches -- I can’t stand for people to be standing around," she said. "I want everyone to be moving all the time.”

She said that she wouldn't be surprised if there were some coaches out there who were misusing practice players, or using them in a way that was unfair to some players. But she said that she's never seen anything like that, and she suggested that any problems could be cured by regulations and monitoring along the lines of what the WBCA has proposed.

She asked me if I knew how the CWA came to its conclusions about how coaches use male practice players. I told her that I have no idea.

Hofstra faces one of its biggest tests tomorrow when Hartford comes to town.
Finally a pretty good game on national television. The last time Oklahoma lost in the regular season it was to Ohio State. After the Buckeyes were trounced recently by LSU, many may not have given OSU much of a chance to repeat last season's victory over OU. They would have been wrong as the Buckeyes downed the Sooners 74-67.

Courtney Paris recorded another double double (her 38th) with 22 points and 13 boards, but Jessica Davenport made her work for it. Davenport and Star Allen did a solid job on the inside on both ends of the floor and the Buckeye guards, especially Brandie Hoskins and Marscilla Packer, continued to attack the basket.

The Sooners made a nice run in the second half and even took the lead, but foul trouble for Courtney and the inability to finish plays in the closing minutes cost them the game.

Jenni Carlson of newsok.com wonders if the results would have been different for the Sooners if Sherri Coale had used the bench more, especially in the final minutes of the game.

While the Sooners are disappointed their chances for an undefeated season are over, they also know it's still early. Coach Coale: “We would have loved to have won this game, obviously, and I feel like we can play better than we did tonight. But it’s not the end of the world."

For the Buckeyes, Coach Foster thinks his team "just got back to fundamental basketball. Basketball today really is a series of mini-games. The clock keeps getting stopped."
The Phantom Scribbler shows that you're never too young to be a Huskies fan.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Some of the country's best high school teams have been battling it out in Arizona at Nike's Tournament of Champions. As they often do, Hoopgurlz.com is offering great coverage.

Maya Moore (and UConn signee) put on a show, scoring 42 points while leading Collins Hill (Ga.) to a quarter-final victory. Elena Delle Donna, everyone's "must get" recruit, and her team Ursuline Academy (Del.), were upended by Long Beach Poly (CA) in another quarter-final. But the 6'5" center earned the attention of the New York Times.

Collins Hill will take on Archbishop Mitty (CA) (Danielle Robinson, Oklahoma bound) in one semi-final, while New York's Christ the King (Lorin Dixon, UConn signee) takes on Long Beach Poly (featuring Jasmine Dixon) in the other.
The 2008 Final Four will be in Tampa Bay, and the logo has been revealed. They SAY it "features a freshly picked orange, sliced open to reveal a basketball." I say it's not an orange, but a grapefruit and the green they've chosen is... well...icky.
Cleveland's Richard Melvin has more buzz on prep sensation Elene Delle Donne.
Pilight to new Sparks owners: keep Penny Toler.
In Cancun, Duke had unexpected trouble with Bowling Green, but beat the Falcons anyway. Bales blocked seven shots; BGSU's Ali Mann scored 15.

Coach G: "We've been off for finals for more than a week... We looked very rusty."

Also in Cancun, Pitt had no trouble with East Carolina. Pitt remain undefeated: tomorrow night they play Liberty... then they get Duke.
I thought Iowa would be good this year. Last night they got spanked by Northern Iowa.

UNI sank fourteen treys (in 25 tries); UNI's Megan Keeffe seems to have scored outside and in for 19. Is the Hawkeyes' home loss a wakeup call, or a dirge?
Firsthand reports describe what seems to have been the first-ever rained-out Division I basketball game. Arizona State beat Texas Tech decisively in Monday night's 35-minute contest: the result will stand.

ASU's Emily Westerberg, undiscouraged: "A basketball game has never been rained out before, so I think it's really cool to be a part of that." (Especially cool if you win.)

Tech's coach Curry: "If they'd have had a little radar or something we could have seen it coming and maybe closed the roof in time."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

UConn fans are getting excited about their team. After a 10-day lay-off, the Huskies went down to play Geno's old boss (Debbie Ryan) and UConn assistant coach Tonya Cardoza's old team (the unranked, though buzzed about, Virginia) in the Cavaliers' fabulous new John Paul Jones arena.

Neither homecoming was a distraction, as the game quickly became a blowout. Led by Kalana Green, who finally played up to Auriemma's "in practice" praise, the Huskies shot a stunning 65.6% for the game on their way to a 96-50 win. Greenes's 21 points came on 10-of-12 shooting, and was complimented by Renee Montgomery's 17pts and freshman Tina Charle's 12. Charles had 6 of the team's 10 blocks, and Virgina was held to a lowly 27.4%.
At Mel's blog, Dawn Staley chimes in on male practice players.
I’m all for practice players, especially when you have injuries. It’s just hard to practice when you don’t have as many bodies. An injury or two can keep you practicing and keeping your players fresh. I’m all for it. I know people may oppose it, but I think it’s helpful for any program if it’s used the right way.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Lieberman opposes the CWA proposal. She also cites an anonymous source who says that "one coach of a top-15 team is believed to be both a proponent of the initiative and the one lobbying for the group's support."

(Foster? TV?)

Voepel has more, including a bunch of letters from some of the guys who played on scout teams.

She makes the point that both Coach Starkey and Coach Coale have made as well: that using guys in practice changes how the guys feel about women and women's sports. For the better.

You might believe that's a small thing. I don't.
How does LSU use men in its practices? I asked assistant coach Bob Starkey. His response:
We use our male scrimmage team 2 to 3 times a week for about an hour. Normally they are the scout team running the plays and defenses of our next opponent. We do use them occasionally in some drills where we want to challege our players at their highest level. It should also be absolutely understood that in all drills that we utilize the male scrimmage players that all of our players get reps. It is hard to believe that a coach would use male scrimmage players and not allow all their players to get work in with them -- it is a great opportunity to improve those players while some of your starters get a rest in practice.

In fact, today is a perfect example for us. We played Michigan State yesterday and our starters logged a ton of minutes. So today, in scrimmage segments with the male scrimmage players 75% of the playing time will go to the reserves.

Quianna Chaney is a player that has not started for us the past two years but knocked down 24 points yesterday. Her improvement has a lot to do with her going against the guys the past two years while she was a reserve.

You have also have brought up a lot of other merits in having the male scrimmage team and I'd like to touch on those as well.

1. These guys become huge fans of the game (if they weren't already). Our male scrimmage team travels to road games when they can to cheer on their "teammates." They come by in the summer to talk to us about the WNBA games they watch. We find out they are watching other women's games on TV during the basketball season.

2. We use them to help promote our team. They put up fliers around the campus for big games and talk up the team to other students.

3. It makes life-altering decisions for them. The perfect case for us is a young man named Casey Potts. He was on our male scrimmage team the past four years. In fact, he was the "captain," which means he organized the squad. After he graduated last year, he proceeded to send out 100 resumes and today he is an assistant coach at Catholic University (a Division III) for the WOMEN'S basketball team. We have another member of our male scrimmage team, Chris Trammel that is now coaching girls basketball on the high school level.

A decision to ban these guys would be tragic for our sport in so many ways. Obviously they make our players better. I would also argue that they cut down on injuries as we can rest players with a lot of minutes while we work on the rest of the team. I know of examples of teams on lower levels that only have 8 or 9 players that wouldn't otherwise be able to practice. Some teams may have 10 or 11 but injuries to 2 will mean no 5 on 5 work. Even more importantly because of they change of attitude that many of the guys have after working with and seeing the dedication and committment of our team, we are gaining new fans.

Quite simply, in many, many ways, using men the way we do helps us to GROW OUR SPORT -- and there is nothing more important.
A view of male practice players from Ballwinner, a former player at a D-III school, "one of the benchwarmers that this proposal is supposed to protect." More here.
In the Courant, Lori Riley has an excellent piece on male practice players.

At Hartford, Jen Rizzotti doesn't use them because she doesn't want to limit any of her players' practice time. Doug Bruno, however, says that having guys doesn't hurt anyone's development.
Any coach that knows what they're doing, the male players are used maybe 20 percent of the time and they are used against all the players on the team, not just the first five or six.
Pitt coach Agnus Berenato says she needs to use them because her squad is short-handed. And while Coach Harry admits that it affects practice minutes, he says it's worth it.
The kids don't get on the court as many minutes as they would. But I would rather them be on the court lesser minutes and play against faster players.
In the Waco Trib, Jerry Hill discusses the issue with Kim Mulkey-Robertson and Jody Conradt, both of whom use guys in their practices.
What in the world went wrong at San Jose State?
My sense is that the CWA doesn't really understand what male practice players actually do in practice. But I'm no expert myself, and I'm sure that different teams use practice players differently. So I'm trying to ask around and figure it out.

Notre Dame SID Chris Masters says that Coach McGraw uses men primarily as a scout team. I asked if it's true that backups sit on the sidelines all practice while the starters play the guys. His response:
Oh no, the reserves constantly rotate in every few minutes ... the number of reps per player are pretty equal, with a couple of extra turns for the starters.
Not a great day for parity: Tennessee blew out Texas on national TV, LSU did a number on Michigan State, and several other Top Ten teams-- such as Oklahoma and Ohio State-- crushed teams you would likely expect them to crush.

In a game that might have been more fun to watch, Vandy got past South Florida behind ex-UConn center Liz Sherwood's 19 points. (Dear athletic departments: please provide box scores as web pages, not PDFs!)

And in the only thing close to a genuine upset, the surging West Coast Huskies canned Florida State. The home team won by nineteen even though no UW starter saw more than 30 minutes.

UW coach June Daugherty called it their "best game yet." Washington almost beat Ohio State a few weeks ago: FSU could fall out of the rankings next week, and UW might move in.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Last week at the Title IX blog, Erin discussed the "message sending" aspect of the CWA's report on male practice players.
I am pleased that the NCAA is concerned about the ways in which collegiate sports inferiorize female athletes by "sending messages" to women they they are not as good or their sports are not as important as men's.
I agree that we should be concerned about messages. But I don't think that using male practice sends a bad message.

Consider two propositions.

Proposition #1: Women aren't as good as men at basketball.

Proposition #2: Women's basketball is inferior to, and less important than, men's basketball.

The first proposition is true, at least in the narrow sense that in a game between teams at a comparable level, a men's team would beat a women's team. Lots of purported differences between men and women are made up (or "socially constructed," if you want to talk like a professor), but this one isn't. No matter how many times it watches The Matrix, no matter how much Judith Butler it reads, the Duke women's team would still get its ass kicked by the Duke men's team.

But so what?

The Duke men's team would get its ass kicked by any NBA team, even the crappy Bobcats. And yet lots of basketball fans would rather watch the Duke men than the Bobcats. Lots of fans would say Duke basketball is superior to Bobcats basketball. Why?

Maybe they prefer the style of play. Maybe they like watching players who aren't just in it for the money. Maybe they have a connection to the school or its players. Maybe they love the fan experience at Cameron.

In short: accepting the first proposition doesn't mean accepting the second.

When Coach G uses men in practice, it might send some message to her players that men are better at basketball. That message seems entirely harmless to me, in part because her players already know that men are better at basketball.

Does her decision to use men also send a message to her players that women's basketball is inferior or unimportant? No, it doesn't.

Moreover, as Erin perceptively notes, banning men could also send a bad message: that women are inferior, that they need to be separated from men to be protected.
Coach Zierden will travel to Russia to hang with Seimone. Lynx chief Roger Griffith says Zierden's name "has already sold some tickets. We've had people on the phone: 'I'm buying tickets if he's the coach.'"

Such people (assuming they exist) must be either longtime Twin Cities hoops fans who remember Zierden as the boys' coach at De La Salle High, or Wolves fans who remember Zierden as Flip Saunders' assistant back when the Wolves were good.

For a franchise that has sometimes struggled to show its connections to the community (other than through charitable work), it must be a plus to have a coach whose personal ties lie here, rather than, say, in Pittsburgh. The best way to raise attendance, though, will still be: win more games.
Stanford has three losses already this year: you might think that if Wiggins sat out the second half and Brooke Smith (for the first time ever) failed to score, against a team that reached last year's Elite Eight, the Cardinal would be in trouble.

You would be wrong. Stanford steamrolled Utah in Maples; four Cardinal players reached double figures, among them much-watched frosh post Jayne Appel.

Stanford also hit 7 of 18 three-pointers, including Cissy Pierce's two-for-two. Coach VanDerveer: "We're not a one- or a two-player team." Wiggins felt pain in her hamstring: she'll be evaluated, but looks OK.
Bummed-out Sting fan Pam Lassiter goes after Bobcats management in Charlotte's daily paper. (If only she had enough money to purchase the team.)

Meanwhile, David Stern endorses the 'cats' decision to ditch the Sting: "This team was slow to develop a sales-team sort of efficiency.... I agree... that the focus now should be exclusively on the Bobcats."

(Translation: these guys have yet to run one franchise successfully; what makes you think they could ever run two?)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Sally Jenkins rips up the CWA.
More on the CWA's misperceptions: at the UConn board, Phil says the Committee "seems to be under the impression that a practice is nothing more than a five-on-five scrimmage, with everyone not part of the scrimmage sitting doing nothing."

At the Big 12 board, fans discuss how the men are used at Oklahoma and Baylor practices. Conclusion: using men does not mean that backups just sit and watch. As Spooky says:
It's one thing for the committee to have reached an unpopular opinion, but for them to arrive there with such an obvious lack of research or information is embarrassing. I'd be really curious how many practices with male players they have attended between them.
(Lemme hazard a guess: fewer than ten, with zero being the most likely number.)
Mel Greenberg makes available: a chat with Georgia/ABL/USA Basketball/Lynx legend Teresa Edwards, now a Lynx assistant coach...

...word on the complex system by which individual ballots in the AP poll will become available (or sort-of-available) for the reading public...

...and courtside gossip from Tuesday night's triple-overtime Rutgers-Ole Miss game, in which Armintie Price scored 33 points in 50 minutes, and Brittany Ray scored 23 in 49. Rutgers won despite blowing a twenty-point lead.

Coach Stringer's squad takes on Iowa tonight. Last year the Scarlet Knights traveled to Iowa City; RU's win provoked tears.

This time the Hawkeyes visit the RAC. Stringer: "It's not as emotional. The emotion at Iowa was because Iowa for a long time had been home. I hadn't been in that gym in over 10 years... It's different playing here, just because it's not that sentimental thing. But I'm excited to play Iowa."
At the LaCrosse Tribune, Shari Rampenthal doesn't much like the Don Zierden hire: she wants more women head coaches in the W, stat-- either "women at smaller colleges," or another try for Lin Dunn.

I wish Rampenthal had spoken to our own Helen Wheelock, or else to Voepel. (Or maybe just read their work.)
North Dakota's Minot Daily News writes about native daughter, and new Sparks owner, Katherine Christofferson. A guard on the 1983 Tolna Trojans girls basketball team that made it to the state tournament, she is unabashedly enthusiastic about the skill level she sees in the WNBA. Asked if she's tempted to "lace'em up" with her new team, she answered:
“You have no idea how talented these women are,” she said. “Women’s basketball has come so far in the past five to 10 years. These women are so fast, strong and powerful, and they’re so exciting to watch. This game is based on teamwork and playing together, and if you’re a big fan of the men’s college game, you’d love watching the WNBA.

“So, no, I wouldn’t dream of going out there and embarrassing myself!” she laughed.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Josh Centor is the NCAA's Director of New Media relations. He also runs the Double-A Zone blog.

He has expressed support for the CWA's proposed ban. But he is keeping an open mind, and he admits that he isn't sure how the men are actually used. To his credit, he wants to learn more about it.

"I truly believe this is an issue where we need to listen to the student-athletes," he says.

I agree. (I would add that we should listen to basketball coaches as well. But the core premise of the CWA's argument is that the coaches don't have their players' best interests in mind. So they probably won't listen to coaches.)

Here are a few player responses:

Ivory Latta: "I love playing against men. They make us better."

Jessica Dickson: "I am surprised because they help us out a lot; it really helps develop your game, it really helps make you a better player."

Sabrina Gregory: "Some teams we face don't play as aggressive as the guys we play, so that helps us a great deal. We need to be intense throughout the whole game, and the guys don't let up on us at all."

Allison Jaskowiak: "There's days when we have six people at practice, and so it gets tough. The scout team, the guys who come in - they're saving us. They're great. We love them. And they're really good for us to play against."

Jess Deveny: "They're such an asset, with their quickness and physical stature.... They help get us ready for any opponent."

Alison Bales: "matching up against our male practice players is excellent preparation as well, they are all great guys and push us hard in practice.”

Toccara Ross: "Our team wouldn't be as good as we are if we didn't go up against this competition on a daily basis."

Renee Montgomery: "I don't understand why you would (put in regulations). We never had any problem with them, so why would they want to get rid of them?

Erlana Larkins: "I don't see us getting any better with girls practicing against us and practicing against our teammates."

Abby Waner was asked about the CWA's view that the practice sends a message that women are inferior. She responded simply: "I think that's kind of ridiculous."

It would be great to have more player responses. In particular, it would be great to have responses from non-starters. Josh is seeking more feedback, and I would also love to hear from players about their practice experiences with men. Let's hope that more reporters pick up the story. And let's hope that the NCAA will listen.
At CSTV, Jeff Lippman discusses parity and the rise of MTSU.
Patrick Hite and Chris Graham have a radio show called "ACC Nation," and they've started an accompanying blog, which follows both men's and women's teams.

Recently, they covered Kay Yow's recovery. They also discussed rumors that Dawn Staley will be replacing Debbie Ryan at UVA.
Yesterday, CWA member Patrick Nero explained the Committee's rationale:
It's one thing to not be playing in a game because they haven't reached that level yet, but for them to sit through an entire practice while men run up and down with their teammates? We just think it's really against the spirit of Title IX.
Well, yes, if backups were spending entire practices on the sidelines twiddling their thumbs, that would be a bad thing. If Pat and Geno and the rest were really that stupid and short-sighted, they would deserve some regulation from the at the NCAA.

Luckily, that just isn't how it works.

As Jack Daly reports: "During recent Duke and UNC women's basketball practices, male players spent equal time scrimmaging against both schools' first and second teams."
Charlotte Smith (formerly Smith-Taylor) has retired from pro ball. Smith started for six seasons with the Sting, and one with the Mystics, but came off the bench last year for Indiana.

She can now concentrate on her work as an assistant coach at UNC. As a Tar Heel star in the early Nineties, she won a national championship with a famous last-second three-pointer; she also dunked.

Smith: "It was one of life's most difficult decisions, walking away from something you have known almost all your life."

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A couple of weeks ago, Hofstra stunned Michigan State and earned their first victory over a ranked team in program history. Now, says the NYTimes' Michael Weinreb, they're starting to think "Why not us?"
Coach Summitt responded yesterday to the CWA report. She called it a "huge mistake."

“I think it will set women’s basketball way back,” Summitt said. “If you look at having male practice players – males are stronger, quicker, faster – to challenge us in practice and I’m sure a lot of other coaches in Division I would agree it has done nothing but help us improve our game.”

Maria Cornelius also points out the Committee's dubious understanding of real-world basketball practices:
The male practice players are used to make everyone better, from the starters to the substitutes. The committee seems to think only the starters are getting the practice repetitions. An efficient and well-managed practice means every player on the roster will rotate in. In this case the committee appears to be trying to legislate competence.
For those of you that can't believe the rankings in the AP Poll each week, Mel Greenberg reports on his blog you will now be able to see each voter's ballot. This is a practive they already do for football. Perhaps even more interesting, there will there will be dynamic links to each voter's coverage of the sport at their respective newspaper sites and/or blogs.

Of course, fans do have a chance to participate in the Women's Basketball Mailing List if they don't like the AP (or the Coaches Poll or SI's Power Rankings). The results from the Women's Basketball Mailing List are published on Full Court Press every week with comments from Clay.
New Lynx head coach Don Zierden and his staff were introduced in a press conference yesterday at the Target Center. As expected, Carolyn Jenkins returns from last season and will be joined by Teresa Edwards and Ed Prohofsky.

Each staff member offers a lot to our team," said Lynx Chief Operating Officer Roger Griffith. "Teresa Edwards is a women's basketball legend with Lynx ties, Carolyn Jenkins has great knowledge of the league and our personnel and Ed Prohofsky has tremendous basketball knowledge with his decades of coaching experience."

The Lynx allowed a few season ticket holders to attend the press conference and later in the day held a welcome reception for the new staff and fans. At the press conference, Griffith mentioned that all of the Lynx players were interviewed at the conclusion of the season on what attributes of a coach will help them succeed. The three things that came up were the ability to teach; holding players accountable and communication.

While Zierden has not coached women's basketball before, he is familiar with the Lynx and has already begun reviewing the tapes of last season's games.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Whatever speculation there may be about where the Sting will play next season, one thing is clear: the Bobcats don't want'em anymore. The 'cats announced they've turned over control of the team to the WNBA.
Voepel calls the CWA's report: "paranoid, uninformed, reality-phobic, logic-devoid, silly and ill-conceived."

And she hits on what might be the key point: that the CWA simply doesn't appear to understand how male practice players are actually used by women's basketball teams. (Or maybe they don't care? Maybe the stuff about practice time is just a cover for the political arguments?)

At the same link at ESPN.com, Graham Hays talks up Chrissy Givens and MTSU.
The NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics announced this morning that it would sponsor legislation to ban the Mikan Drill in basketball.

The CWA expressed doubt about the drill's value. While some coaches claim that it is important, there have been no empirical studies demonstrating its efficacy, and so there is no way to measure the true validity of the coaches' argument.

Moreover, even if the drill has some value, the Committee pointed out that a decision should not always be based solely on the positives of an action, but must also weigh the negative impact it may have.

The Mikan Drill requires a player to shoot layups at a basket repeatedly. While that player is shooting, no other player may use that basket. Most teams do not have 14 baskets at their practice facility. Therefore, if a team uses the Mikan Drill in practice, several players must sit and watch. Female student-athletes were were recruited to participate in intercollegiate athletics at many other institutions. To have them sitting out of practice while their teammates run the Mikan Drill is costing them the opportunity for growth and betterment that they were promised during recruitment.

The Committee noted, moreover, that the drill is named after a men's basketball player, former Laker great George Mikan. The message to female athletes seems to be "if you want to be good, you must learn to play like a man." Use of the Mikan Drill thus implies an archaic notion of male preeminence that continues to impede progress toward gender equity and inclusion.

While some progress has been made in women's athletics, we are still under siege. Any action such as the use of the Mikan Drill that threatens the quality of the athletics participation for a large number of females is a step backwards.

NCAA President Myles Brand praised the Committee for its work. "This is a complicated issue," he said, "and there are two sides to the argument." Brand said he had not yet made up his mind.
Women's basketball coaches respond to the CWA's recommendation to ban male practice players.

"This is the politically correct gone awry," said MSU coach McCallie. "It's absolutely absurd. It's short-sighted. It's got nothing to do with equity and everything to do with politics."

"It is critical to the success of our program," said Iowa State coach Fennelly. "The No.1 thing we're trying to do is grow the sport. I would bet 90 percent of the coaches and all of our players all think it's tremendous."

Iowa coach Bluder said the NCAA doesn't understand how the men are actually used. "They have some preconceived notions about how we use our male practice players." She scoffed at the notion that non-starters don't develop because the men take their place. "I think you would be pretty silly to practice like that."

Bluder had her team vote on the issue before this season. The players were unanimous.
If the coaching announcements were not enough, there is also news that the Charlotte Sting may be on their way to Kansas City. As of this morning, the officials in Kansas City say talk of the move is speculation.

Despite all of the relocation talk, Cindy Sisson-Hensley, who has been trying to raise enough money to keep the Sting in Charlotte, has not given up yet. "My hope is we can have money in the bank by Christmas," Sisson-Hensley said. "We are not giving up."

While relocating would be too bad for Charlotte fans (and there are some), women's basketball fans would benefit from getting the chance to read Mechelle Voepel's coverage. In her latest ESPN.com column, Voepel covers the possible Sting move, the hiring of Overton and the new owners in L.A.
Meanwhile in Chicago, Bo Overton was officially introduced as the new head coach and GM of the Sky.

Although his record at UMKC is not the most impressive, Sky owner Michael Alter and team president Margaret Stender believe he is a great fit for the job. “As soon as we met Bo, and the more time we spent with him, it became clear that he knows what’s cookin’,” said Stender.

Unlike previous league coaches, Overton sounds truly excited for the opportunity. And those who have played for him speak highly of him. Said Stacey Dales: ''Bo has an excellent feel for the game. He understands the personalities of players and knows when to push and when to pull back.''
The worst kept secret in Minnesota will be officially revealed later today when Don Zierden is introduced as the new Lynx coach.

The real interesting thing for Lynx die-hards is the fact that the entire staff will also be revealed today. Carolyn Jenkins is expected back and other staff may include T-Wolves analyst and former Gopher Jim Petersen; former Lynx player Teresa Edwards; and former T-Wolves assistant Ed Prohofsky.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Six years ago, Ensley High School coach Roderick Jackson sued the Birmingham, Ala., board of education when he was fired after complaining that his girls basketball team did not receive the same support as the boys team. A year ago the US Supreme court ruled that Title IX protects people who seek action against gender discrimination and 10 days ago a settlement was reached between Jackson and the school board.

ESPN's George Tanber writes about Jackson and the settlement that, said one of Jackson's attorneys, "puts Title IX cases back on the radar screen at a time when people are trying to question whether Title IX is appropriate."
The Lynx will (finally) announce their new coach tomorrow morning.
Just in time for the holidays, gifts for the women's basketball fan in your life.

Recently, the Phoenix Mercury offered a DVD of the Mercury/Comets triple-overtime game (Diana Taurasi scores 47pts) to subscribers: spend $100, get two tickets to each of the first three weekend games.

No surprise, lots of non-Phoenix residents have asked -- nay demanded -- access to the DVD. In response, the Mercury have modified their offer. Says the email:

Instead of purchasing the 3-game package, you can choose to purchase ten (10) tickets to be donated to kids in need... and still get the DVD for yourself (or as a gift to someone). How's that for a Holiday gift?!? Interested in either package: Call 602-252-WNBA or email Lisa Kowalewski at LKowalewski@phoenixmercury.com

Want some other options? Check out womensbasketballonline.com's Holiday Gift Guide.
Here is the WBCA's position paper on male practice players. The WBCA recognizes that if used improperly, male scout squads can be a bad thing, but that if used properly, they can be a great thing. It therefore opposes any legislation banning male practice players, but it encourages coaches to use them carefully, and it recommends guidelines for best practices.

The CWA seems to think that using male practice players means that non-starters end up sitting at practice doing nothing. The WBCA has an entirely different view. In fact, it argues that male practice players can benefit non-starters in several ways. E.g.:

1. Non-starters have someone to play against while starters rest or do other things.

2. Because men serve as scouts teams, non-starters don't have to play that role, and they can focus on other things that will help their development.

3. Because men can serve as dummies in some drills, non-starters can participate in the drills rather than being the dummies.
Big East coaches and players spoke out on the issue of male practice players a couple months ago. Not surprisingly, they were hostile to any restrictions.

Various proposals are working their way through the byzantine world of the NCAA committee structure.

Does anyone know which of these committees will ultimately get to decide?
Tommy Craggs on Coach Wooden, Naismith, and basketball moralism.
Twenty years before the WNBA came the first national attempt at a women's pro basketball league in the United States: the Women's Professional Basketball League, or WBL, launched with eight teams in 1978, expanded to fourteen in 1979, and folded amid hard feelings and unpaid bills after the 1980-81 season. Some of its players and coaches-- Donna Orender, Nancy Lieberman, Muffet McGraw, Doug Bruno, Greg Williams, Anne Meyers, Carol Blazejowski-- remain prominent. Most-- along with their stories-- are now obscure.

They won't be if everyone reads Karra Porter's Mad Seasons, an exhaustively researched, mostly reverent, occasionally plodding, but mostly memorable account of the WBL's three-and-a-half-year ride. It's a book that meets the standards of academic historians (and of a pretty good university press), and a book that people who read this blog a lot will probably like to read (or, hey, to receive as a holiday gift). (Porter spoke with Kim Callahan about her labors; Callahan also put online three chapters cut from the print book for reasons of space.)

Porter, a Utah lawyer, presumably knows something about how it feels to have your team disappear: if her book has a through-line, a single question the chapters and anecdotes attempt to answer, it's simply Why did the WBL fold? Most of the answers should reassure WNBA fans.

One reason: the college game wasn't big enough to create a national audience for the pros. Another: the 1980 Olympic boycott, which prevented national exposure for that year's crop of USA stars. Though the Chicago Hustle drew crowds, most teams did not.

The biggest reason, by far, for eventual failure: the league, as a league, had neither the financial strength, nor the leadership abilities, to become self-sustaining, offer good advice, train new owners, or prop up weak teams. Especially after the first year, Bill Byrne and his peers (who later fired him) accepted franchise fees from local entrepreneurs who came in with unrealistic hopes, then couldn't make payroll when those hopes didn't pan out.

Whole teams, like the 1979 Washington Metros and the 1980-81 New England Gulls, went months without getting paid; "more than half of the WBL players experienced no pay or slow pay," and many held down second jobs during the season for groceries or rent. "Most of the men willing to take a chance on a WBL team did not have the financial ability to withstand the early years of huge losses"; the league office didn't, perhaps couldn't, help.

Nor could the WBL consistently recruit, maintain and pay the nonathletes-- scoreboard operators, officials, PR folks-- who create the conditions under which pro athletes should play. One 1980 game's play-by-play sheet warned "due to scoreboard errors, score is not totally accurate." Teams had their own travel standards; many rode intercity buses, though the San Francisco Pioneers (co-owned by Alan Alda) flew to their games. The Houston Angels, who won it all in their first year, once had to practice in a high school gym because their normal facility turfed them out for nonpayment.

Porter excerpts a 1981 report explaining what the WBL needed: "strong centralized league leadership"; "avoid expanding into new markets at the expense of the talent pool"; "balanced ownership" (that is, don't sell franchises to folks who can't afford to run them); commitment to consistent live, in-arena experience; and "non-gate sources of revenue" such as sponsorships, marketed and sold out of league HQ. The WNBA has at least three, maybe five; the WBL, by the end, had none.

Some of the discourse around the league's first season will sound familiar to WNBA fans; other controversies show how far we've come. Many WBL players "had never been coached by men, or by coaches who raised their voices." Owners "worried about how pretty their people were," and sometimes promoted (mostly white) sex symbols over (often black) superior athletes. The California Dreams sent players to charm school; the Iowa Cornets got mileage from a poster of Machine Gun Molly Bolin, who should be remembered for her scoring prowess, and for her later role in an important divorce case.

The most surprising parts of the book tell stories of individual players (such as Bolin), even stories of individual games... and of the game ball. The now-standard women's collegiate and pro ball came into existence as a result of the WBL, in part because Wilson Sporting Goods wanted the sales.

There are scary stories: those about murdered Nebraska star Connie Kunzmann, and mentally ill Canadian scorer Liz Silcott. There are comically awful ones-- some say the league's fate was sealed the night the Minnesota Fillies refused to take the court unless they were paid. And then there are the dozens of women with whom Porter spoke, who loved-- for a month or a year or three-- the chance to get in the record books and play the game.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Sky have hired UMKC coach Bo Overton.

Apologies for today's early mistake.
The CWA Report, annotated:
The CWA first raised the issue in October 2004 when members said the practice was contrary to the committee’s mission of providing opportunities for women in college sports.
When we brought it up back then, everyone thought we were crazy. So we had to let the buzz die down for a couple years.
The matter has been surveyed and debated in each division…
You will note that our report includes no data from those surveys. We didn’t really listen anyway.
The most common argument in favor of using male practice players is that it improves the skills of female student-athletes and strengthens the team as a whole. While there is no way to measure the true validity of this argument…
Who can say if male practice players really help? It’s not like you can take two teams of identical players and use one as a control group. There’s no way to measure the issue. I suppose we could rely on the opinions of women’s basketball coaches — after all, they probably can judge pretty well what works and what doesn’t — but we won’t.
The message to female student-athletes seems to be "you are not good enough to make our starters better, so we need to use men instead."
We are concerned about inter-gender equity. We are also concerned about intra-gender equity. Currently, teams are divided into starters and nonstarters. The message to the nonstarters seems to be “you are not good enough to start, so we need to use other women instead.” Next year, we will issue a recommendation addressing this issue.
This approach implies an archaic notion of male preeminence that continues to impede progress toward gender equity and inclusion.
Men aren’t really better at basketball. Conceptions of merit are socially constructed, and they are socially constructed in a way that furthers the interests of the patriarchy. In truth, there is no objective, non-gendered way to measure the skill of a basketball player or basketball team.
Without the use of male practice players, does women’s athletics not inherently retain its own unique quality of competition and skill?
Maybe women’s basketball won’t be as good. But it will be “unique.”
The increasing use of male practice players is a threat to the growth in female participation at all levels.
Of course, there’s no evidence that the use of male practice players has done anything at all to impede the growth, but what we lack in evidence, we make up in self-righteousness.
To have talented, capable female student-athletes stand on the sidelines during official practice while the team’s starters practice against “more talented men” is a lost opportunity. Many of these female student-athletes are on full scholarship and were recruited to participate in intercollegiate athletics at many other institutions.
Perhaps when athletes are being recruited, they should ask about the use of male practice players, and then they can make up their own minds. No, no, that won’t do… these young women are too stupid.
To have them sitting out of practice while a full “scout team” of men come to practices is costing them the opportunity for growth and betterment that they were promised during recruitment.
We weren’t sure whether “betterment” is really a word. Some guy named Fowler once quipped that the English word for "betterment" is "improvement." But prescriptivist notions of grammar are also a tool of the patriarchy.
Professional teams do not have the ability to find “practice squads” better than those on their roster and this holds true for most men’s college programs; yet somehow, this is not viewed as an obstruction to the betterment and growth of the game.
Of course, if NBA teams could construct practice teams of better players, they probably would… but I’m losing my train of thought here.
What does seem probable is that each week hours of practice/scrimmage time usually given to female non-starters in game preparation will now be assumed by male, non-student-athletes.
Those same non-starters often end up as starters later in their career. So even if hurt by the practice now, they might end up better off in a couple years. But we aren’t willing to wait.
The suggestion that since males are often bigger, stronger and faster, they should be used in drills in order to improve female-student athletes.
When we discuss this issue at our committee meetings, we always use our fingers to make air quotes around the words “bigger, stronger and faster.” See socially constructed gender categories, supra.
There has been tremendous growth and betterment in women’s intercollegiate athletics without the use of male practice players…
And in the last few years, there has also been tremendous growth and betterment with the widespread use of male practice players… wait, did I just use “betterment” again? I’m losing my train of thought again.
Since Title IX was enacted, the coaching and administrative opportunities for females have been diminished greatly.
None of this has anything to do with male practice players. We’re just angry about some big problems, but we can’t do anything about those big problems, so we’re going to attack the very small one within reach.
A decision should not always be based solely on the positives of an action, but must also weigh the negative impact it may have.
You must weight the costs and benefits. No one denies that the practice has some costs. No one denies that the practice has some benefits. (Ok, we do, but we know you didn’t take that part seriously.)

The question is: Who should do the weighing? Who makes the decision?

Some people suggest that actual women’s basketball coaches and administrators should make the decision. But their notions of equity and merit have been shaped by the patriarchy. Their decisions simply reflect false consciousness.

Some people suggest that the “market” should work it out: If male practice players don’t work, coaches will stop using them, and if nonstarters don’t like sitting on the sidelines, they will go elsewhere. But in this instance, the market fails due to the stupidity of its participants.

Therefore, we have come to a conclusion about who should make this decision: We should. The rest of y’all misogynist idiots like Pat Summitt can fuck off.
"Going to Kansas City, Kansas City here I come!"

Reports are that the Charlotte Sting will be sold and relocate to Kansas City, Mo.
Al Brown will apparently be named the coach of the Chicago Sky tomorrow.

UPDATE: a reader denies the report, says Brown turned down the sky.
The new synthetic ball has received nothing but complaints from the players, so the NBA will return to the old Spalding leather ball Jan. 1.

Are WNBA players still complaining about their game ball?
Via Gaucho Don: the NCAA's Committee on Women's Athletics wants to ban male practice players, at all levels, under all circumstances.

The committee has fifteen members, including five ADs and sports administrators from Division I schools, and four each from Divisions I and II; among the DI appointees, the University of Iowa's Jane Meyer appears to have a noted commitment to basketball. I wonder what she thinks?