Women's Hoops Blog: April 2007

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Monday, April 30, 2007

Via the ever-vigilant OrangeKrush: David Stern calls himself "optimistic" about a Denver-- or could it be Denver/Fort Collins?-- WNBA team for 2008.
The Lynx get all Q&A-ish with Teresa Edwards.

The five-time Olympian joins the staff this year as an assistant coach.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Michigan State -- having found success with a coach whose last name started with "M" -- has decided not to mess with the basketball mojo. Suzy Merchant is set to be named State's new coach. Another point guard-turned coach, Merchant has been Eastern Michigan's coach the past nine seasons and has a 201-120 record overall and a 147-90 mark with the Eagles.
Coach Stringer's new Rutgers contract pays her as much as RU's football coach gets, and more than the coach for the Scarlet Knights' (much less successful) men's hoops team.
It may not be all that new, but today I noticed the redesign at Stever's place. Looks good (and links a few stories we hadn't seen).
From the International Rescue Committee comes this q&a with members of the International Rescue Committee San Diego Students’ Plus Girls Basketball Team.

HABIBO, 15, Somalia, founding member
Q: If you had a message to people back in Somalia what would it be?

H: I think I would take a picture of us playing basketball and write a letter. I would say ‘we’re having fun playing basketball. Come join us.’ I would tell them here in America, there is peace, no war, there is freedom -- your life is yours to live.
(thanks, sixthwoman)
"Heart of the Game," is, as we noted previously, now available on DVD.

Via eclair, we get an update on Darnellia Russell from the Seattle Times.
Mechelle writes about the season with no end in sight.
Even the Amazing Kreskin could not have predicted that by the end of April, we'd have more than 30 changes in Division I.
From Israel, Lior profiles "fanatical perfectionist" Plenette Pierson, whose Israeli team won a championship this month.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

HuskyNan over at the Boneyard has been tracking the story of a Division II player fighting for her release from her scholarship.

Amber Simmons wants to leave Chico State, and now lawyers are involved. Simmons is the only All-American women's basketball player in Chico State history, and one can undestand why Chico State -- and coach Molly Goodenbour (Stanford '93/ABL/WNBA) -- would want to keep her. The junior was the anchor for a 2006 Final Four team and a 2007 Eilite Eight.

But, notes the student newspaper in an editorial:
A month and a half into this season, four players from last year's incredible roster had already left or been removed from the team. Three mentioned disapproval of new head coach Molly Goodenbour's methods. Now, at the close of a disappointing season, Simmons becomes the fourth player to speak against Goodenbour.
Whatever is going on within the basketball team, the whole situation raises an issue: As Nan points out, a school has a year-to-year option to renew a scholarship, but a player is stuck unless the school releases her.

Considering this off-season's coaching carousel, it might be time for the NCAA to ponder a student-athlete's rights. Maybe the CWA should be looking into THAT instead of male practice players...
This year's WNBA basketball differs from older models, at least a bit, but Pelton says that players say it won't matter. Katie Gearlds: "A ball's a ball. They all like to go in."
The L.A. Times previews the W's new uniforms.

Friday, April 27, 2007

From Israel, Lior Klinger offers an exclusive interview with Deanna Jackson on "the incident."
From the Title IX blog -- the writers point out another reason why women might not be be drawn to the coaching profession: money.

Some of you may have seen the recent American Association of University Women's report on the pay gap. According to the report, one year out of college, women earn 80% of what men make. Drops to 69% after ten years.

EBuz links to the student newspaper at Ball State that did a little salary comparson between coaches. Male head coaches avg: $121,752. Female head coaches: $81,195. Male assistants: $63,306. Female assistants: $33,073. (not sure how years of service can be factored in, but even so, it's rather significant.)
Oklahoma City Storm? Not so fast -- think Las Vegas... Clay Bennett seems to be.
The league has suspended Deanna Jackson indefinitely after her fight in Israel, for which she's also facing charges there.

Jackson apparently threw a punch at an opponent in a parking lot after the game. (Yes, Jackson's team lost.)
Lisa Leslie re-ups with L.A.; the multi-year contract should keep her there until the end of her playing career. (She's on maternity leave this year.)
USC senior Alex Delanian writes about his time as a practice player.
With so many players still finishing up their seasons overseas, it may be surprising to see so many players getting waived this early in training camp.

As Kevin Pelton explains, there is a reason.

To help out in practices, many teams are using male scout teams. In Sacramento, they even are utilizing a member of the Kings coaching staff.

SPM's Tara Polen gives an in depth look at the revamped Liberty.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

More conflict in the Middle East, via Cam: though the Israeli pro season has ended, Deanna Jackson can't leave Israel just yet-- she's a defendant in a civil suit filed by a player she punched in the head. Yikes.

Jackson's Israeli team, Ramat Hasharon, lost the championship to star-packed favorite Ramla last week. LaToya Thomas scored 20 for the winners; Jackson led her team with 24.

(Yes, this is Deanna Jackson; Deanna Nolan's Israeli fistfight took place two years ago.)
The search is back on in Green Bay. Johnston is not going there after all.
And down goes another coach in the SEC. Carol Ross is retiring, and is to be replaced by assistant Renee Ladner.
BC's student paper profiles second-round Lynx pick Kathrin Ress.

With Hayden on pregnancy/ maternity leave, and Tamika Raymond (née Williams) no taller than she was last year, Minnesota could use another big: could Ress be it?
Rookie orientation includes talks on how to handle your money (just as it would, presumably, in men's pro sports). Neat.
Another hometown hero gets a try: Erin Lawless goes to camp for the Fever.
Ceal Barry: a WNBA team in Colorado would be great, but I wouldn't want to work for one.
Is there going to be another opening at one of the power conferences in women's college basketball?

Update -

Carol Ross is leaving Ole Miss and Renee Ladner is taking over.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

And speaking of the Shock: coach Laimbeer makes a funny. (Take that, transaction-watchers.)
I think Clay just predicted the Shock as repeat champions. (Will we make predictions here? Stay tuned.)
Green Bay hire Aaron Johnston, who has done well at South Dakota State.

Johnston replaces the charismatic, admirable, self-declared pessimist Kevin Borseth, the architect of Green Bay's recent success.

Last week Borseth introduced himself to his new team. It's likely the best hire the Wolverines could have made-- and with McCallie's departure from East Lansing, recruiting to Ann Arbor just got waaaay easier.
Lois Elfman follows up on last fall's “Think Tank on Homophobia in Sport" hosted by the NCLR and the NCAA.

Karen Morrison, the NCAA’s director of education services, says materials developed at the think tank are now being vetted by the organization, which will determine this spring how those materials will be disseminated.

Notes from the think tank have already been distributed to coaching academies and to committees planning coaching conferences. Carroll says she hopes NCLR will soon
have downloadable materials about recruiting practices available on their Web site.

Mechelle weighs in on the fresh start at Penn State with the hiring of Coquese Washington.
The Shock now have their own personal beat writer. Ryan Pretzer's first article in on the Shock's defense of their title.
No guarantee that this will finally put the issue to rest, but the NCAA has released the results of a survey on male practice players. 65.7% of Division I schools responded, 34.6% of Division II schools (tsk, tsk) and 40.4 of Division III schools. The news release states

Survey results show widespread use of male practice players in all three divisions — most prominently in women’s basketball and to a lesser degree in volleyball and soccer — and most respondents said male practice players don’t change how the non-starting members of a team are used in practice and don’t affect the number of grants-in-aid schools award to female student-athletes.

For details on the results, check here.
You won't see Taurasi, Pondexter or Taylor but the Mercury have interviews and footage of their first practice up on their Web site.
There is more on the two different off-seasons for Sun players Jamie Carey and Megan Mahoney in the Norwich Bulletin.

The Strib focuses on Lynx veteran Tamika Raymond, who is entering this season on a clean slate, after playing most of last season recovering from knee surgery. "I could never get into the flow," Raymond said. "The WNBA season is so short. I didn't start feeling good until August, and the season is over in August. "
The Storm will not be having their Media Day until May 14 because of all of their late arrivals to camp. But they still get some of the best coverage in the league in their local newspapers.

The Seattle P-I reports on Izzy Castro Marquez looking for stability and Wendy Palmer's plans when her playing career is over.

Anne Donovan talks more in the Tacoma News Tribune about sticking with 11 roster spots. “We can’t keep five post players and seven perimeter (players) like we have in the past,” Donovan said. “We’re going to have some tough decisions to make in terms of the backup point guard position or an extra post player.

Jayda Evans of the Seattle Times writes that Donovan's biggest goal this year is to improve their bench production. In her blog, Evans provides more insight about the cuts from yesterday.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Monarchs coach Boucek in hospital. Could be appendicitis; hope she's OK.
A few of the teams are doing a nice job of providing updates on training camp.

At the top of the list is the previously mentioned duo of Alan Horton and Kevin Pelton for the Storm. They are blogging live from the practices. The news today is that Anne will only keep 11 players because of salary cap. She got closer to that number with the release of several players who were getting a look.

Over at the Monarchs Web site, they are talking to the players and coaching staff and getting their reaction to how things are going. Assistant Coach Monique Ambers reports that Scholonda Robinson is standing out as someone who has improved the most from last season.

The Mystics announced that Alana Beard is week to week with a strained shoulder injury suffered while playing for Team USA. They are also providing a daily training camp recap with quotes from the players and coaching staff.

In the Lynx report, Tamika Raymond commented that "she's just as nervous as the rookies must be, having to learn a new system under a new coach, and to prove herself like everyone else."
The Mercury also opened training camp without their starting line-up and are using it as an opportunity to evaluate new talent and reserves like Jennifer Lacy and Crystal Smith.

“We have spots to fill if you’re good enough to fill them,” Paul Westhead said.
The Liberty are back too, but unlike the Shock, they do not want a repeat of last season when they finished with a losing record for the second time in franchise history.

Part of the rebuilding process was to get bigger. And one player hoping to make the team is Martina Weber from Iona. So far, she has impressed Patty Coyle. "I'm shocked at how physical she is," Coyle said. "I don't really care what league she played in. To me, that has no bearing on anything. If she has the skills and talent, she'll make it in this league."

Also looking to help the team is second round pick Shay Doron, who will be looked upon to fill Becky Hammon's role. "Of course it's going to be different without Becky because Becky had been here for so long," Shameka Christon said. "But it's now time for our younger players to get some experience."
The Shock are back and are looking to repeat their success from last season, not 2004 the last time they defended the WNBA title.

Cash: "We're put together well and expectations are high. In 2004 it was like we have something everyone else wants. We were thinking we could go out and get it done in the last minute. We know now that last year's over."

Laimbeer: "I don't think there's any issues mentally for us, I actually think we're a much stronger team mentally -- Cheryl Ford especially -- from the way she was in the past. No issues there."
While only in their second season, the Sky might look a little unfamiliar to some, even the returning players.

They have new coaches, new players and a new focus to improve on last year's 5-29 record and their attendance. ''We want to be a serious contender,'' Margaret Stender said. ''We have to win more than five games. We don't want to be at the bottom, but our success is not measured in just how many games we win."

That means the returning players will have their work cut out for them to make this year's roster.

Remember the Sky also have a new place for their fans to talk about the team online - Chicago Sky Talk.net
In the Sun training camp, the newcomers are going to have a chance to make an impression on Coach Thibault. "We don't subscribe to bringing in a lot of players just to cut them," general manager Chris Sienko said. "We bring in players that have a chance to fight for a roster spot."

Of course what most Sun fans want to know is if the team is better equipped to beat the Shock this year. Thibault could not give a definitive answer on that, but does know that Lindsay Whalen will have to have a better season.

With most of the team still playing overseas, the players with the most experience in camp are Jamie Carey, Megan Mahoney and Kristen Rasmussen. Carey explained to Ned Griffin why she spent her off-season in Colorado.

SPMSportspage.com was on hand to capture some photos from the day.
The Media Day focus in Minnesota was naturally on this year's #1 pick.

"I'm walking into a great situation," Harding said. "At Duke, I learned what it takes to be a great leader, a great point guard. Hopefully that will spill over. There is going to be an adjustment period, but hopefully I can catch on quickly."

"I can't wait to show them what I can do for them, but I won't push or step out of my boundaries to do so. You have to go in and show what is different about you. I am just going to be me; either they like it or they don't,'' she said. "Hopefully, they do.''

Also, Bob Sansevere interviews Coach Z.
The Sac Bee's Melody Gutierrez joins the Seattle Times' Jayda Evans as a WNBA beat reporter with a blog. It would be great to see that trend grow. And hopefully the Sun blog by Arthur Sherman of the Norwich Bulletin will return as the season gets underway.

Among the early entries on Gutierrez's blog is an explanation of how Scholanda Hoston became Scholanda Dorrell and then Scholanda Robinson.

Monday, April 23, 2007

New look, new info, new goodness from Alan Horton, Kevin Pelton and the official Storm blog.

Don't expect news on whether the Storm will leave town (at least not until there's something official); do expect enthusiasm, statistics, and new faces in training camp. Gearlds, anyone?
Kentucky has a new coach. Morehead State coach Matthew Mitchell will be the program's first male coach in its 36-year history.

So say the articles.

Well, in an effort to be accurate, I'd like to set the record straight.

In 1902, the University of Kentucky women's basketball team was organized, despite objections from the women’s physical education director.

Want little more Kentucky women's basketball history?

Check out the Logan County Mohawks of 1913!

In 1921, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) sponsored the first girls' basketball state championship. As early as 1922, there were fifty-one girls' teams participating in district tournaments.

In 1923 Ed Diddle, coach of Western Kentucky University’s men’s and women’s teams, defeated the Kentucky’s women’s team, coached by law school student A.B. “Happy” Chandler, to win the state women’s championship.

Mr. Chandler is... well.. a Mister. Sorry, Mr. Mitchell.

In 1924, the University of Kentucky abolished the women's basketball team.

Between 1926-1929, Audrey Whitlock Peterson's high school teams lost only five games. In 1932 they win the state championship, the last state tournament for girls for almost 40 years.

Just in case you were wondering how far women's basketball has had to travel for the simple right to play.
Matt Wurst provides the low-down of what happened for the rookies at orientation in Chicago. Megan Vogel continues to give great updates on her experiences.

With Media Day today for several teams, more updates from rookies and returning players should be expected. The Fever get a jump start on introducing two of their new players to fans with Q&As with Lyndsey Medders and Ashley Key.

The Lynx got started yesterday with a lot of guards fighting for a roster spot.

Like many other teams, the Sun opened camp without several key players, including their entire starting line-up. Jamie Carey and Kristen Rasmussen are the only veterans in the camp.
In Sacramento, male practice players reach the W.
Via Mel: finally news from Penn State. Coquese Washington is to be named the new head coach today.

Looks like Kentucky will get a new coach today, too, but the rumor mill is quiet about who it'll be -- other than mabye a DeMoss assistant.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Storm fans get ready for what may be their last season. Could Clayton Bennett take the Sonics to Oklahoma but leave the Storm in Seattle?

Would such a move make him another inattentive, uninterested NBA owner, of the kind the league now hopes to avoid? Probably-- but Storm fans would prefer it to losing their team.

That team would be better off with a brand-new owner... and they have a lot of fans, some of whom will attend a neat fan event in Green Lake today: will there be a gazillionaire savior among them?

Storm training camp starts on Monday: it will include UW star Cameo Hicks.

It won't include Francesca Zara, even though she's re-signed with the Storm this year. Playoffs in Russia may keep Zara-- and Lauren Jackson! and Sue Bird!-- away from the Storm till the regular season begins.
Sky CEO Margaret Stender talks up this season: more group sales, more sponsorships, more everything after last year's "huge learning curve."

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Patricis Babcock McGraw on the end of the turbulent Theresa Grentz era:
I have to say, this whole thing with Grentz is fascinating and bewildering at the same time. Because while Grentz ultimately sucked the life out of the program, she was the one who originally breathed that life into it.
The tall Fever line-up is getting some pre-camp attention from the Indy Star.
The Sioux Falls newspaper continues to track former SDSU star Megan Vogel, who will try to make the Mystics roster.

Vogel is one of the new bloggers this season for wnba.com.
The Bee's Gutierrez covers the conflicts between WNBA players' overseas commitments and their coaches' desire to see them in camp.

It's a problem that will persist as long as WNBA pay lags stars' salaries overseas-- that is, as far as the eye can see. Coach Boucek: "There is no logical solution."

Friday, April 20, 2007

Gay and lesbian fans in Atlanta really want a WNBA team there.
The NCAA might finally ban text messaging between coaching staff and potential recruits in all sports (email would not be affected).

This is the same proposal, put forward by Ivies, that advanced through committee meetings last year; the full DI Board of Directors will consider the ban next week.

Text-messaging and other instant communication feature prominently in coaches' complaints about the Red Queen's Race that modern recruiting has become.

Two years ago, small-conference DI schools beat back proposed restrictions on texting, arguing that their coaches needed it in order to compete with BCS schools.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Will there be any fallout from the Pokey Chatman situation on recruiting?

Jeré Longman tackles that question in today's New York Times.
June Daugherty has found a new job at... Washington State.

Over at the subscriber section of FCP, Clay takes a spin on the coaching carousel.

As for the Penn State opening, Mel offers some advice.
President Orender tells Houston fans the league has now sold 11K tix for this year's All-Star Game.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Reader Jill B-K writes us to note that several high school ballers were among the slain in this week's horrifying events at VT.
Will there soon be a third Big 10 head coach position available?

Despite getting a big raise recently from MSU, rumors are Joanne McCallie may be headed to Duke.

UPDATE: it's official.
USC's Chloé Kerr heads to Mercury camp. Her coach calls her the best post in last year's Pac-10.
Pokey's attorney has issued a denial (of sorts): "These so-called relationships were just social."

She also says that LSU relied only on the word of Carla Berry. LSU denies that.

LSU general counsel Ray Lamonica handled the investigation. Says LSU spokesman Charles Zewe:
Ray told me that LSU substantiated Berry's allegations from sources other than Berry, including admissions by Chatman to other athletic department people that the assertions by Berry were valid. He took a lot of time with the investigation. We did not want to railroad Pokey Chatman.
USA completed a sweep in Italy with another dominating performance.

Tamika Catchings once again led the way and Courtney Paris had her best game of the tour. Catchings knew coming into this camp that she would have to change her role "It's my time. I've had some great people to learn under."

Clay looks at what 12 players might represent the U.S. in Chile for the FIBA Americas Championships (subscription section).

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Well, ya just knew this was coming, didn'tcha? Pokey wants LSU to pony-up. How much? $900,000 or so. How come? Cruise through this exercise in legal writing: (pdf)
More coaching stuff: Theresa Grentz has resigned.

"I know there is still something out there for me, whether it be as a collegiate or professional coach, a position in the academic world, working with women's issues, or, possibly even politics," she said. "I feel I can make a difference in some professional way."
Coaching stuff: Jamelle Elliot says "no" to Fairfield, but the phrase "Elliott chose to decline the offer in an effort to pursue further opportunities in the profession" has sent the UConn board a-twitter. (warning -- if you're a newbie, be aware that they enjoy a good red herring as much as anyone).

Bowling Green's Curt Miller looks to be out of the picture, now that he's been given a nice raise and a contract through 2013.

Ex-Michigan coach Sue Guevara stays in-state and will be coaching at Central Michigan.

Up in Maine, high school coach Paul Vachon has expressed interest, while current Brown assistant -- and Maine great -- Cindy Blodgett (amongst others) has been mentioned.

via Stever: Names are still swirling around Penn State. Add Vandy's Melanie Balcomb who chatted with PSU, but pulled her name from consideration. Those still muttered about? Joe McKeown, Brian Giorgis and Chris Dailey.

And then there's Duke......
Did Rutgers appearance on Oprah last week inspire a possible future Book Club choice?

C. Vivian Stringer is writing her autobiography.
A report out of Baton Rouge that just adds to the confusion around the silence since Chatman's departure. Says Mary Olive Pierson, "I don't believe her consent to the resignation was fairly obtained or freely given."

Oddly enough (though, granted, I don't know enough about lawyers and law to make an evaluation), Pierson's firm seems to specialize in banking and finance law.
Finally, some responsible reporting on a camp invite for a hometown star.

The Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader quotes James Madison scoring leader Meredith Alexis: "It’s not a guaranteed contract, but I’m really excited. I still have to go to their tryout camp and not get cut."
Despite only having nine players for the game, Team USA continued to roll over the competition in Italy.

Tamika Catchings and Taj McWilliams-Franklin both posted double-doubles and Jessica Davenport, Sylvia Fowles and Lindsey Harding had solid games as well.

Coach Donovan said with the remaining practices and game in Italy, they hope to further evaluate the young players and to focus on "defense and getting more solid, more comfortable and more cohesive. "
Rachel Blount of the Star Tribune previews tonight's Tucker Center Spring 2007 Edie Mueller Distinguished Lecture on the campus of the University of Minnesota.

Tonight's lecture is called Sex vs. Athletic Competence: Exploring Competing Narratives in Marketing and Promoting Women's Sports. It will highlight some of the research done by the Tucker Center on how images of women athletes affect fan interest. Also on the panel will be Regina Sullivan, a Senior Associate AD with the U of MN and Kristin Bernert, Vice President of WNBA Team Development.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Looks like the Storm, and the Sonics, are leaving the Pacific Northwest.
The FCP All-American Team has been announced. Parker is POY and Summitt is COY.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Interviewed in the you-have-to-pay-for-it section of Full Court, Vanessa Nygaard, now an assistant at Pepperdine, says DI women need 15 scholarships, not 13, because women have more frequent season-ending injuries.

Is this true? It seems plausible: Nygaard's former team lost two point guards this season alone.
Amanda Brown sounds excited about her tryout with the Sparks, who picked her thirty-eighth in this year's draft. Brown, a Canadian, wants to be a child psychiatrist when her hoops career is done.

Also in Sparks camp: a gaggle of veterans, among them Kaayla Chones, Gwen Jackson, Sheila Lambert, Tamara Moore (who started almost every Sparks game last year), and the once-heralded Brandy Reed, whose previous WNBA chances ended in 2002 after multiple arrests.

Sparks assistant Michael Abraham knows all about getting beyond an unsavory past: maybe he can re-start Reed's career.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

More on NCAA DI roster size, via Helen: Geno and Leon Barmore discussed the matter last year.

Barmore, the now-retired legend of La Tech, preferred to have fifteen: "I do believe there are kids who will choose a Tennessee or a Connecticut... and not think about being the last kid on the bench... But we [that is, midmajors] need 15 because it gives you more room for error."

Back in 2002, Geno endorsed the idea of fewer scholarships: "If I have 15 girls on scholarship, some of them won't play until they're juniors and some won't play at all. If they went elsewhere, they'd probably play right away and make another team better." (A few years later, a couple of them did.)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Should the NCAA spread talent around more evenly by giving DI teams thirteen scholarships (what the men have) rather than fifteen (what women's teams have now)?

Clay thinks so: "The game is not grown when a pretty good player languishes on the bench for four years at an elite program when she could have been helping a midmajor win some more games and sell some more tickets."

Does the WBCA have a position on this one? (Would midmajor programs, or even struggling BCS conference teams, support the move?)
Another coaching vacancy has been filled. Amanda Butler from Charlotte is the new coach of the Florida Gators.
"This is the end of the shock-jock era," says Richard Levick, CEO of Levick Strategic Communications.

Yeah... sorta like 9/11 was the end of irony, and the resolution of the Cold War was the end of history.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Harvey Fierstein: Our Prejudices, Ourselves.
Miss a day of your favorite soap? No, the OTHER soap. Mechelle catches you up on the week's drama of "As the Coaching World Turns."
David Carr on the media's human sacrifice rituals.

(Physician, heal thyself.)
CBS cans Imus. (About time.)

The Scarlet Knights have just appeared on Oprah Winfrey. Essence Carson: "No one... pays attention to who actually won the game. [Imus] didn't just steal [respect] from us, he stole from a great team like Tennessee."
From the Christian Sciente Monitor's blog, "It's Only a Game:"
• The NCAA has compiled an interesting probability table showing what percentage of high school athletes go on to compete in college and professionally. The data shows that ice hockey (among five men's sports and one women's) enjoys the highest continuation rate, with 11 percent of boys who played in high school going on to play in college. Baseball was next with 6.1 percent, followed by football (5.7 percent), soccer (5.5 percent), women's basketball (3.3 percent), and men's basketball (3 percent). Professionally, women's pro basketball was the hardest of all to break in to, with only .02 percent who played basketball in high school landing pro careers.
Coaching news out of Connecticut:
Fact: Longtime assistant coach Jamelle Elliot is interviewing for the Fairfield position.
Rumor (?): Geno contacted Penn State on behalf of loooongtime associate head coach Chris Dailey.
35 years and still pioneers

Over at First Draft, Scout-Prime – who has done some of the finest reporting on many aspects of Hurricane Katrina – reflects on her own experience as an athlete and the class of Essence Carson and the Rutgers basketball team:
…it is sad to see in the year 2007 that someone as accomplished as Essence Carson has to stand before the nation and "finally take a stand" as a woman .... the very same damn stand we had taken so many years before as young women. How many generations will have to fight this fight?

I wonder what my team mates of years ago are thinking, feeling and saying of all this tonight. No I don't have to wonder. We shared too much, were too close. I know exactly what they are saying of Don Imus. I know they are immensely proud of the Rutgers women's basketball team for proving the point, for taking the stand.....for being the new pioneers.

Congratulations to the Rutgers women on a great season and Thank You for carrying on. It isn't right to have had this placed upon you. It's never been right. But somewhere out there is a young girl shooting hoops on a driveway or at a park......
"Those in charge" of selecting new coaches at the University of Maine -- also known as Coach U. because of the quality of the coaches that have cut their teeth up north and then moved on (McCallie, Versyp) -- may have stumbled in their last selection. Coach Ann McInerney has resigned after only two seasons.
It looks like Suzie McConnell-Serio has found her first post-MN Lynx coaching job.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Jason Whitlock, contrarian.
Martin Luther King Jr. spoke for eight minutes in 1963 at the March on Washington. At the time, black people could be lynched and denied fundamental rights with little thought. With the comments of a talk-show host most of her players had never heard of before last week serving as her excuse, Vivian Stringer rambled on for 30 minutes about the amazing season her team had.
ASU has a new message board.
Somewhat surprisingly, Joanne Boyle turned down Duke to stay at Cal. It's great news for the Pac-10 and west coast basketball...

... and confirms the unassailable thesis that only idiots move away from the Bay Area.
USA Basketball got off to a good start in their Tour of Italy with a 77-47 win over the Italian National Team.

Big Syl and Taj were the leading scorers and Taj was perfect from the floor and the line.

Catchings: "We came out in the second half after talking in the locker room about USA Basketball and getting after it on the defensive end. We did a great job on the defensive end in the second half and our shots were going in so that always helps."
Robin Rene Roberts! Women's basketball misses you! Come on BACK!

In the meantime, you can read an excerpt from her book "From the Heart."
Seem's like Van's da man.
Angry demonstrators attack this very blog. (Warning: sound.)
It's official. Mickie DeMoss resigned as coach at Kentucky today, citing the need to reassess what she wants to do for the rest of her life.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Does LSU have its new coach?
Yo is back with Sacto for this season.
Actual women's basketball news.
ESPN.com has video with Pat trying to talk about the championship -- but first she has to address Rutgers and Imus.

You've got to believe that the silence from coaches across the country has been out of deference to the wishes of Rutgers and Coach Stringer. Here's hoping that now that CViv and her team have spoken, the rest of women's college basketball will speak up.
Rutgers site has a streaming archive of today's press conference.
Ah, it's spring -- oh, to be playing basketball. In Rome. Hey, wait! The 2007-08 National Team IS, those lucky so-and-sos. If you've got satellite tv (RaiSportSat), looks like you can catch their game tomorrow (11:30amEST) against Italy. (thanks Roofpage)

The US team will feature Alana Beard, Swin Cash, Tamika Catchings, Michelle Snow, Katie Smith, Lindsay Harding, Katie Douglas, Sylvia Fowles Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Jessica Davenport, Courtney Paris. Taurasi, Bird and Thompson have to go back to play in Russia.

Also, USABball snags 10 minutes with Fowles, Paris, Davenport and Parker.
At the Washington Times, Adrienne Washington calls on the memory of civil rights leader C. DeLores Tucker:
No doubt, the late president of the National Congress of Black Women, might be loudest among the critics calling for the ouster of radio talk-show host Don Imus for the racist and sexist comments he made about the Rutgers University women's basketball team.

But Mrs. Tucker's tirade would not stop, as it shouldn't, with the race-baiting-for- ratings ploy of an aging, white radio shock jock. After all, Mr. Imus is not the first person to call black women disparaging and disrespectful names. Just tune in to any urban radio station.
PBS's NewsHour has a transcript of Jeffrey Brown's discussion with columnists Clarence Page and Tom Oliphant. Page stopped appearing on Imus' show in 2000. Oliphant appeared with him this morning. Page doesn't believe Imus will "reform."
The last time I was on the show, I elicited a pledge from Don and listing about six or seven different offenses at that time, including the Gwen Ifill episode, and elicited a pledge from him, without any resistance, that he would avoid that sort of behavior.

I took him at his word. And we went on with the interview, and then he hasn't called me back since. And so it makes it very easy for me to say now that I wouldn't be comfortable being on his program now, considering his falling off the wagon, if you will, from the pledge he took.
Think this story is multi-layered? Media Matters is keeping track of the media's response to ...itself: They look at responses from Newsweek editor Howard Fineman, Tom Oliphant, and note Imus will be back -- just in time for sweeps.

MM also points that news outlets are busy spinning it, noting ABC's World News highlighted appearances on Imus by NBC's Russert, but not by its own anchor.
Gwen Ifill writes about Trash Talk Radio in a NYTimes Op-Ed piece.

Over at the Women's Media Center, Carol Jenkins suggests "How to Finally Answer Imus."
While punishing Imus—and his team—may give us the cathartic satisfaction the offenses seem to demand, what the incident really provides is a chance to take a close look at how women are treated—or mistreated—in the media generally. It’s a chance to explore, and finally silence, the angry, insulting, degrading offerings that pass for news/information/entertainment in the media—most egregiously radio, a medium that holds staggering statistics: 85-90% male management, and decisively male domination on the air. A lot of “atta boy” winking has been going on in this particular locker room for too long.
Donna O speaks...
Wizard's center Etan Thomas weighs in.
Imus’s reputation has always been that he says what he means and means what he says. That’s his unspoken mantra. What he prides himself on. He’s a cowboy and a rebel with in-your-face-commentary and he doesn’t hold back. You think this was an accident? “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”
Women's basketball players are subjected to sexist and homophobic insults regularly, and racist insults occasionally. Why have the Imus comments blown up into a national mega-story?

In part because Imus isn't an ordinary radio jock. He is part of the Washington media elite.

Jason Zengerle explains.
Missouri State has a new coach: Nyla Milleson, most recently coach at Drury University. Some wonder if the administration played it safe, and while Milleson is not walking particularily "neat" situation, she's made an effort to set the player's minds at ease.

Gwen Knapp asks when will the women raise their voice on Imus' insult.
The misogyny in his remarks has been downplayed for a lot of reasons. For starters, there are no women with the brand of clout wielded by a Jackson or Sharpton. The two reverends do what women wouldn't dare. They scare people. They don't back down, because they're playing to win, not to be liked.
Steve Politi says Imus should get to know the Rutgers players. Paul Franklin of New Jersey's Home News Tribune has been covering the team for two years and writes
I refuse to dignify those comments by repeating them; I'll say only that if those stereotypes were applied to your daughter, you might be doing a lot more than reading about them.

So at the risk of breaking the code of professional journalism, I have to say that this has become personal.
New Jersey politicians have spoken out, the Philly Inquirer writes an editorial
The Rutgers women, smarting from losing the national championship game to Tennessee, had nonetheless achieved a remarkable season. They and their legendary coach, C. Vivian Stringer, should be basking in their accomplishments. Instead they're recovering from an undeserved verbal assault by a radio talk-show guy who, in his zeal to sell more soap than the other radio talk-show guy, will say anything to generate buzz.
If you missed it, beknighted did some "insta-transcribing" of the Rutgers press conference.
MSNBC will broadcast C. Vivian's Stringer's press conference today live at 11am EST.
Some of the players over in Italy for USA Basketball talk about practice so far and seeing the Pope at Easter Sunday Mass.
Mel on Rutgers:

It showed a willingness to persevere and grow from those dark days early in the season when few believers existed over what might be achieved in the few short months ahead.It developed a fire to compete and excel that was fierce enough to light up the Empire State Building in a splash of Scarlet Red in nearby New York.And when all is said and done and this group returns in the fall ready to do battle again, it is that burning passion that will light the New Jersey skies once more, perhaps this time even much brighter than ever.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Looks like Michigan has a new coach, courtesy of UW-Green Bay.

D-2 Grand Valley lost their coach to Michigan, too. Seems Dawn Piltzuweit was under consideration for the Central Michigan head coach postion, but chose to sign on as an assistant (for the second time) under Kevin Borseth.
C. Vivian Stringer:
To serve as a joke of Mr. Imus in such an insensitive manner creates a wedge and makes light of the efforts of these classy individuals, both as women and as women of color. It is unfortunate Mr. Imus sought to tarnish Rutgers' spirit and success. Should we not, as adults, send a message of encouragement to young people to aspire to the highest levels as my team did this season?"
Aditi Kinkhabwala writes for SI.com but still covers New Jersey sports, including Rutgers. In her "Viewpoint" piece she writes about the players Imus insulted.
This Rutgers women's basketball team is full of real people. Eight of the 10 players are African-American and five are just freshmen. They took a horrid 2-4 start and a humiliating thumping by Duke and turned it into a thrilling, giant-slaying run. They did on behalf of New Jersey, carrying the banner of the very state that you call home.
And when you decided to run with producer Bernard McGuirk's calling the Scarlet Knights "hardcore hos" the morning after these Cinderellas finally fell to Tennessee in the NCAA title game, well then, you turned them into cartoon characters.
(quick catch award to Stever)
Imus will be suspended for two weeks (tv simulcast - not the WFAN radio broadcast) MSNBC explains why.

It's amazing how this has blown up -- top of the hour news in NYC, front page of the Times, "Breaking News" on CNN. Guess Don is a popular guy, huh?

Even Time magazine's tv blog gets into the act.
Mechelle bravely invites your mocking emails with an pre-, pre-season Top 25.
Well, hey, maybe they should hold off on printing up those Oklahoma City Storm t-shirts. Seems Seattle's new owners have reached an agreement in principle to acquire 21.2 acres of land on the shore of Lake Washington in suburban Renton for a new arena.

Of course, the language in the release -- "in principle," "excellent potential," "recent discussions," and "expect to" -- must fill Storm fans with confidence.
There have been some complaints that Rutgers has not reacted strongly or quickly enough to Imus' comments. Director of Athletics Robert Mulcahy has released a statement.
We expressed to these outstanding women that we understood the depth of their hurt to the degree that we could and that they were unfairly characterized in a vile, despicable and racist manner. They, and their families, are feeling terrible about it. We share their anger and indignation and want to express fully our pride in them. They did absolutely nothing to deserve this treatment. I don't want anything to tarnish the magnitude of the team's accomplishments this year.
(thanks again beknighted)
Vanguard University senior Kelly Schmidt was named the recipient of the Dr. LeRoy Walter Champions of Character Award.

The Champions of Character is a program designed to "promote character development in youth and change the culture of sport."
The NAIA developed the Champions of Character program in response to the growing problem of deteriorating standards of integrity in sports and society. At a time when all of sport has experienced increasingly abhorrent behavior by athletes, coaches, fans and parents, NAIA Champions of Character raises the standards for positive youth development in athletics and academics.
Coaches are trained in this program go out in to their communites to speak on five core values, and it's caught the attention of the WBCA and the Big East. It's also inspired other groups to create similar programs, such as "Beyond the Scoreboard" in Michgan.
On Page 2, LZ Granderson writes about the response to Imus and takes activist groups -- as well as himself -- to task:
If one of the main goals of these groups is to end hate speech, why do they sit on their proverbial hands when hate is being spewed at someone outside of their constituency group? Like a player refusing to double Shaq in the post because that's not his man, by not aggressively denouncing the displays of hate speech targeted at others these groups are inadvertently undermining their own integrity and success.

And trust me, I know of what I speak. One of the things I've always regretted was not writing about Michael Irvin's comments about Tony Romo.
(quick catch award to pilight)
College is done. Phoenix and Chicago don't play the first WNBA preseason game until May 2... so let's talk high school basketball!

Meet Parade's 2007 All-America high school girls basketball team (though Brenda might be suprised to note she lost a signed recruit to Pat.)

The first evaluation period of 2007 is about to start, and several top players will be playing in the Deep South Classic. It's about a week until the recruiting period goes "quiet," so expect your coaches to be out of town. Confused? Go ahead, I dare ya, try and figure out the recruiting calendar's ins and outs.
$25 million reasons your city might want to host the Final Four.
Imus on the front page of the NYTimes. Says David Carr,
Given that Mr. Imus spent part of last week describing the student athletes at Rutgers as *insert rascist and misogynist comment here* you might think he’d have trouble booking anyone, let alone A-list establishment names. But Mr. Imus, who has been given a pass for this sort of comment in the past, also generously provides airtime to those parts of the news media and political apparatus that would generally be expected to bring him to account.
Mechelle on Imus.
When someone says something so astonishingly cruel, so pathetic and wrongheaded and thoughtless as what Don Imus; his executive producer, Bernard McGuirk; and his sports announcer, Sid Rosenberg, said about the Rutgers women's basketball team, I'll admit my first reaction is a little violent. OK, more than a little.
Seems the Imus story has some legs. Despite apologizing for his remarks about the Rutgers women's basketball team, some are rejecting his apology and calling for his firing and/or a boycott.

In New York, behind the wall over at the Times, Rhoden has an article entitled "The Unpleasant Reality for Women in Sports" with the teaser line:
"Many of our young people have been raised in cocoons, led to believe that sexism and racism have significantly subsided."
UPDATE: via beknighted, we get this further excerpt:
On the surface, Imus’s remarks were aimed at African-American women. But as [Linda] Greene [a law professor at the University of Wisconsin and a founding member of the Black Women in Sports Foundation] points out: “No woman who participates in sport, and no mother or father who encourages and supports that participation, can escape their animus. Beyond his bold and overt racism lie assumptions about the proper bounds of femininity, assumptions that Title IX and other civil rights legislation sought to shatter.”

Brian Lehrer took some time to focus on the controversy, looking at Imus' "style" and influence as part of his discussion with Newsweek's Jonathan Alter (often a guest on Imus' show). Lori Tharps, co-author of Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America was also on the show.

Tharps wrote about Imus' comments on her blog, "My American Melting Pot, joining a variety of blogs that have picked up on the story. Some interesting discussion has ensued, with the requisite "backlash" in the public comments section. Sigh.

This past Sunday, Coach Stringer attended Easter services at First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, N.J. Said Rev. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr. "It's time for Mr. Imus to leave that job and take off that cowboy hat and be unemployed."

Interestingly enough, Imus has expressed a desire to speak with the players and CViv. I'd pay good money to sit in on that discussion.
Rothum has pointed out a new "cyber trade journal for people who love basketball...the way women play it," called Off Court.

Read more about it here.

One of their featured columnists is former Liberty great Kym Hampton. Her first column is up.
If you saw the documentary, Heart of the Game, you may be interested in a new book by Coach Bill Resler. The AP's Doug Esser reviews the book.
Bill Reynolds of the Providence Journal looks at the unlikely career of broadcaster Doris Burke.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Clay to the NCAA: great job on the Final Four-- too bad about all those empty seats in the regionals.

Sweet Sixteen attendance may even be getting worse. What to do? We could go back to giving higher-seeded teams home games...

Instead, Clay wants the Sweet Sixteen to adopt a permanent home, while the Final Four still moves around. A similar system seems to work for collegiate baseball and college softball, which hold championships in the same place every year.
LSU, still looking for a new head coach, will interview Van Chancellor.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Seems the NCAA loves trivia (sometimes known as women's basketball history) as much as I do. All through the tournament scoreboards flashed questions and answers about tournament winners and record holders. Very fun -- and important. But "those in charge" might do well to hire a fact checker/copy editor for next season: Tennessee's Kellie Jolly does NOT share the assist record (11) with Teresa WItherspoon. That would be LaTech's Teresa WEAtherspoon. (and I may be mis-remembering, but they might want to double check the spelling of Kellie's first name. And who was the second person to dunk in the WNBA...)

The Weatherspoon error is inexcusable (and any committed writer's nightmare), but New York Liberty fans dealt with it over and over again in local and national coverage-- especially when Sophia Witherspoon was on the team. The worst, though, was seeing it during my 2002 visit to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. They had it wrong on the list of Wade Trophy winners. Needless to say, I did point it out. Hopefully it's been fixed.

Becky Hammon(d) has since picked up T's "mantle-of-the-misspelled," but now that Hammon's in San Antonio, my vote for most likely successor goes to Shameka Christon. The possibilities are endless...

But, getting back to my point before my mini-rant...

Before we get swept up in the summer world of the W, how 'bout we cap off the college season with a quick quiz? While none of this year's college basketball championships are trivial, they soon will become fodder for next season's Pub Quizzes (we wish!). If you've been taking detailed notes while reading this blog, you ought not to have any trouble naming the "Champeens of 2007." If you haven't (tsk! tsk!), here's your chance to catch up:

NAIA Division I: This team claimed the first of two 2007 basketball championships for the state of Tennessee. Answer?
NAIA Division II: The first D-II team to do so, they had a perfect end to a perfect season (38-0). Answer?

NCAA Division III: Only good enunciation and better hearing separates this first-time winner from Doug Bruno's team. Answer?
NCAA Division II: A finalist in the 1973 AIAW championship, this team won its first national championship and gives a state that's gotten used to trophies something to hoot about. Answer?
NCAA Division I: Seven was the magic number for this winner. Answer?

WNIT: In the first state to legally recognize women's suffrage (thus their state motto: Equal Rights), record breaking crowds made this championship memorable: Answer?

Bonus points (since they weren't blogged. We promise to do better next season):
NJCAA Division I: The fourth largest city in Ukraine or a championship team in Texas. Answer?
Pilight predicts the upcoming season. Good year for Indiana and L.A.; bad one for all the teams that were bad last year, except San Antonio.
Overseas players get drafted, make hometown country news, whether or not they'll make a roster:

Shay Doron tells Israelis that just being selected amounts to "a dream come true." If she sticks around, she'll be the first second player from Israel in the league, as well as the first Israeli to be drafted. (Thanks to Comets fan pilight for remembering Mila Nikolich, who didn't get drafted but did get a ring.)

Trinidad journalists notice the 6'7" Gillian Goring, who has a shot with the Mystics-- if she has the stamina for the pros.

Penn State's Amanda Brown has a chance with the Sparks-- she's also on the Canadian national team.
The league has a ruling on the Monarchs' Meg Bulger goof: Sacto will forfeit the third-round draft pick which the team thought it had used on the WVU senior.

Bulger, who had never declared for the draft, plans to return to college ball next year. Pending union approval, the Monarchs will get, in compensation, an additional third-round draft pick next year.

Why the confusion? Bulger got hurt twice last year and ended up redshirting this season, which would otherwise have been her last.
Over at DWHoops, Rob Clough gives us part two of his Goestenkors retrospective: The Glory Years.
Imus, twisting.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Imus is really sorry. He also apologized.
Add Jennifer Rizzotti to those who've received long extensions: the Hartford Hawks have her on contract through 2014.
With so many big college coaching jobs open this year, lots of coaches will have the chance to move up the ranks.

Coaches who stay can also leverage the job market to extract raises. Last month at Iowa State, Fennelly got a big raise. Then McCallie got a raise from MSU. And yesterday, Mulkey got a huge new deal from Baylor.

She'll make over a million per year, apparently putting her behind only Geno and Pat.
Clay reviews the draft in the free section at FCP.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Via Stever, an encouraging profile of mystery Comets draft pick Ashley Shields.

Southwest Tennessee coach Andrea Martre sent videotapes of Shields' JuCo highlights to WNBA teams earlier this year. "I got quite a bit of response down the stretch," she says.

The Baltimore Sun's Milton Kent likes the pick.
Via OrangeKrush: along with their two first-round draft picks, the Sky have also picked up a cool new message board. Now there's a team on the way up.
Oh, look! Don Imus and his executive producer are fans of women's basketball!!!

Oh. Wait. Maybe not.
More stories on some of the draft picks:

Sky coach Bo Overton says his team is going to be significantly different with the addition of first round picks Armintie Price and Carla Thomas, as well as free agents Dominique Canty and Kayte Christensen. Thomas commented that she was glad to playing with Price instead of against her.

According to Sky President Margaret Stender, “Our strategy was that we really just wanted the best player still available. And Armintie is a great player. All of the kids we got are. We feel like they can all make an impact. It’s going to be fun because our team is going to look so different this year.”

For #4 pick Noelle Quinn, she is getting a chance to play with someone she has played against for four years in college - Shay Murphy. "We've known each other since high school and have been friends for a while," said Quinn. "We've been against each other these four years, but we always maintained that friendship, so it'll be nice to be on the same team now."

The Mystics selected Bernice Mosby with the #6 pick because of her "athleticism and her ability to defend and rebound." St. Peter, MN native Megan Vogel out of South Dakota State was selected second by the Mystics. Vogel was thought of so highly by Richie Adubato the team considered taking her in the first round.

Alison Bales, selected #9 by the Fever, is looking forward to the chance to play in front of family. "My mother's side of the family is from Indiana, so they were all excited that they will get to see me play," Bales said. Lyndsey Medders, selected #22 said her dream will be complete if she makes the Fever roser.

Katie Gearlds played in Indiana in high school and basketball, but will have a new place to get used to as a pro - Seattle. She thinks it is a perfect fit for her. Her new coach agrees.
One of the fun things leading up the Draft was hearing about how some of the prospects grew up going to WNBA games.

For new Lynx #1 pick Lindsey Harding, going to a Comets game when she was a freshman in high school inspired her to keep playing basketball rather than focusing on a track career. "I wasn't even going to keep playing basketball, but I went to the game, and the arena, the fans, the players — it all got to me," she said. "I knew I wanted to keep playing basketball as long as I could."

No one was more excited to be picked than Shay Doron, who was selected by the Liberty in the second round. When asked by Sports Page Magazine if she went to Liberty games, she replied:

"I love watching them play, I love going to the Garden and... i don’t know. It’s just so surreal for me to even think right now about...and I told them I was ready... I was ready right now, I’ll lace up my shoes, I’ll go practice...I don’t care...just let me know when I need to be there, I’m so happy."
Gail Goestenkors was officially introduced as the new coach at Texas today. You can watch the press conference here.

Rob Clough at DWHoops.com has published the first part of a look back at Coach G's career at Duke.

Goestenkors does not get a chance to get settled in at UT just yet. She is off to Italy with USA Basketball and the Senior National Team.
One later round pick in the draft had some people puzzled. Was Meg Bulger not coming back for her senior season at West Viriginia after missing the last season and a half with consecutive knee injuries? It turns out either the team who selected her or the league made a mistake. Bulger never declared for the draft.

Based on Jenny Boucek's comments in the Monarchs Draft Day Blog, it does not sound like they realized she is going back to school (even though they don't expect her to play this season).
Are you disappointed that you did not get a chance to watch the Draft live or attend a team hosted viewing party?

Tara Polen from Sports Page Magazine was at Draft Headquarters in Cleveland, along with Tamika Williams of the Lynx, who chatted with the players.

In D.C., there are reports from the BasketCases, the Washington Post and Oscar Dixon of USA Today.