Women's Hoops Blog: May 2007

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Mystics stayed winless, and the Shock stayed lossless.

Exploiting some Detroit technicals and turnovers, Washington closed the gap in the third quarter, but the better team pulled away again in the final frame.

Bill wasn't happy with the effort. "We played well offensively, running well, but 24 turnovers, that's terrible," he said. "Knowing that we could score with relative efficiency, we got a little lackadaisical. There were some dumb turnovers."

Washington got to the line a bunch, but other than that, it was just bad. 36% shooting, 20 turnovers, 11 assists. Adubato might be leading a dubious race.
Via kage: Adrienne Goodson delivers Slam Online's W season preview. (Is it a preview if the season's begun?)

Snark aside, Goody's predictions are worth a look-- and worth a comment (more comments = more coverage, maybe). Could this be the year for the Silver Stars?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

More from Atlanta on possible expansion. Over a thousand fans pledge to buy season tickets: but can they find an appropriate (and appropriately rich) owner?

Without the right owner, it's all hot air: with one, everything else should fall into place.

Want to help, or sign a pledge yourself? Look here.
Mechelle talks to DeMya Walker about the potential of her team.
Laura Summerton says she doesn't mind getting cut from the Sun.

"It's a good opportunity to come home," she says. "I haven't had a rest for three-and-a-half years."
Stacey Lovelace, now a Mystic.
The Sparks, the Sun and the Liberty have lost key starters from 2006: Pelton examines the trio-- Fernandez, de Souza, Erin Thorn-- who have come to play instead.
The Mercury lost Diana Taurasi in the second quarter to an ejection, but rallied to edge the Monarchs 76-75.

Cappie Pondexter scored 21 of her 23 points after Taurasi was ejected with her second technical. "I was upset," said Pondexter, "It ignited us."Things like this, this is adversity. Things like this make a team grow up."

The Monarchs could not overcome their early foul trouble, despite dominating the boards. "Fouls were a big thing to overcome," Monarchs coach Jenny Boucek said. "If you look at the stats, they had 30 free-throw attempts to our 14. When we're the bigger team, when we were pounding it inside, that doesn't make a lot of sense to me."
It looked like the Comets were going to get their first win of the year after building a 13 point lead in the first quarter. But they only scored seven points in the second quarter and had no answer for Becky Hammon on their way to to a 82-71 loss to the Silver Stars.

"We just can't seem to put together 40 good minutes of basketball," Tina Thompson said. " It's like a roller coaster out there. We are up and down, left and right and it's not the right track."

The Chronicle's Jenny Dial blogged live from the game and writes that chemistry is the biggest issue for a Comet team that received solid contributions from Thompson, Michelle Snow and newly acquired PG Tamara Moore.
An early start and a national TV audience did not change the outcome for the Lynx, who fell 89-75 to the Fever.

Seimone Augustus and Lindsey Harding scored. Svet actually got to play and made things happen; but the Lynx still struggled on defense, especially against the Tamikas of the Fever.

"We are trying to fight through some things,'' Lynx coach Don Zierden said. "We are going through growing pains right now. "

“It’s not enough to just play hard in this league,” Abrosimova said. “You can compete and say you play hard, but you have to find a way to win. I feel like we have enough talent, but we have to find a way to win. It’s that simple.”

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Once again, the announcers during a WNBA game mention the Becky Hammon trade. Once again, we get to hear about how shocked Becky was and had no idea it was coming.

Becky was almost traded last summer to Phoenix. The deal would have meant Cappie Pondexter in New York. For her to claim it was a complete surprise doesn't quite ring true...
Eyevolley catalogs WNBA blogs and especially useful newspaper sites (including a few we've missed).
Janell Burse will likely choose shoulder surgery this winter rather than play on a European or Asian team. "The way it's feeling now, I can't imagine not doing it," she says.
Oscar Dixon looks at the season so far, from winless (Washington, Minnesota, and Houston) to fearsome (Indiana).

Catch praises Indiana's new low-post players. Comets coach Thompson praises Ashley Shields: "Ashley has been thrown into the fire."
Adrian Williams likes being a Monarch. She's also been a Mercury, a Silver Star, and a Lynx; her current team plays Phoenix tonight.

Once an All-Star, Williams' better years show her with a talent for rebounds: she told San Antonio to waive her rather than trade her in 2005, but returned to the court last year.

"I started thinking, Is it me?" she says. "I would be on the same team my whole career if I could, but unfortunately, that's not the way it works in basketball."

Monday, May 28, 2007

OK, we're a week late on this one, but this is bizarre: the Mid-Continent Conference has decided to rename itself after a certain coach.
Get ready for Lindsay Whalen in a Sue Bird mask.
Jayda Evans asks if Barbara Turner is headed to Houston.

Also via Jayda: remember how Slam Online promised some W coverage this year? Apparently they meant it: Adrienne Goodson is now a contributor.

Goody's first column mourns the Sting, for which she played. She already has 20 responses, some almost worshipful, none from haters: click the link and add your own.
Sports reporters in WNBA cities get angry about the Astroturf the league has tossed in their way.

Perhaps the league office should have listened to Kim.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Clay explains why his job is really hard.
The BasketCases are happy to see Mo in Washington. (Now they'd like to see a win.)
Los Angeles annihilated Connecticut on national TV. The Sun pleased fans with a big third-quarter comeback-- but the rest of the game looked less like professional basketball than like a collegiate nonconference game, the kind the ACC team wins by 30.

In fact, the Sparks led by 20 at the half, and won by 20; Marta Fernandez did whatever she wanted (she has Lindsay Whalen's skill set, and she's faster and taller). Taj did fine. Asjha didn't (1-14). Nor did Margo (0-0). The Sun looked both tiny, and lost.

Taj's return was emotional, but more went wrong than emotions can explain. Coach Thibault: "I'm not picking on Asjha ... but those are wide-open shots [she missed]. That kills you."

Connecticut dug a big hole in Texas last week, too. At least Whalen looked good this time-- though she may have broken her nose.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Taj returns to Connecticut today (3:30pm Eastern, ABC-TV)... in a Sparks uniform. "It's like the first day of school, a little exciting and a little scary, but more exciting," she says.

The Sun just want to win their home opener. Nykesha Sales: "Sometimes in our home openers we kind of get sidetracked with all the excitement going on and I think if we can overcome that early, we'll put ourselves in a better position."
In Minneapolis, Candice Dupree walked all over the Lynx for three quarters; a late comeback wasn't quite enough. "That's what I've been waiting for. That's what they told me she could do," coach Overton said.

The Sky have their first win; the Lynx are still looking. Augustus shot 11-20; the rest of her team combined shot 17-54. One bright spot: newly signed post Tiffany Stansbury, who led her team with 13 boards.
Phoenix treated fans to more offensive fireworks in a big win over Houston.

The Mercury scored 111, Diana alone 31, including her 2,000th point; Penny Taylor celebrated her birthday, and the team put Wednesday behind them.

They had to wait for a while, though: the Merc didn't get going till the second half. "The offense is not as sharp as it could be," coach Westhead said. Still, 111 points... not bad. But can they do it on the road?
San Antonio preserved an early lead over Seattle, running out, around, and finally over the visiting Storm.

Becky scored 21; VJ had ten assists. "It was easy," said the veteran. "Everybody was shooting the ball so well."

The win looked decisive. Maybe as decisive as the Storm's home win over Phoenix, who in turn beat San Antonio last week. (The West will be less predictable this year.)

Friday, May 25, 2007

1. New York beat the Mystics in a day game mostly notable for the trade afterwards. Washington has not yet won a game.

2. Indy looked great at home, thrashing the Sparks. Catch scored 24, the Fever bench 27.

LA coach Cooper endorses the new consensus: "They're the best team in the East... It was a good measuring stick for us."

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pilight (disguised as fanblogger Kevin) asks: why do some eminent shooting guards and small forwards often get suddenly worse in their early 30s, when point guards and posts can still keep their numbers up?

Pilight suggests that year-round play is to blame, and hurts wings more than PGs or posts. Could be... but what about these exceptions? And what if wings, more than PGs or posts, have their roles (and relative merits) changed by the rising level of the college game?
Chicago makes a dreadful surprising trade.
New York wins the year's first regular season day game, defeating the Mystics; Erin Thorn cans 4 of 6 trey attempts. (More coverage tomorrow, we expect.)

Just after the game, Washington center Chas Melvin learned she'd been traded to Chicago in exchange for scorer Mo Currie. "I'm OK. I'm a professional," Melvin claims.

Coach Adubato says Nakia Sanford will be Washington's starting center; the trade also reunites Currie with Duke teammate Beard, and gives Mo the chance to play where she grew up.
Seattle treated fans to a perfect game, scoring a franchise-record 100 and walloping the out-of-control Mercury.

The Storm led by huge amounts for much of the game. Burse alone had 19 boards; the visitors had 29.

Betty Lennox, who missed practice Tuesday for a family emergency and let it be known she might skip the game, showed up and shot 9-11.

Coach Donovan, stoked: "We're capable of scoring 100 points, and not just against Phoenix. We've got a lot of offense this year." (Does Phoenix have any defense?)
In San Antonio, the Sun nearly recovered from a dysfunctional first half. The visitors trailed by 25 but zoomed within one possession with seconds to go.

The Silver Stars got the W. Coach Hughes: "You saw the whole deal tonight. You saw how good we can play, and you saw what we're still working on."

The first half recalled the Sun's meltdown in the preseason. Keys to the near-comeback: Carey and Erika da Souza, who replaced Whalen and Dydek for almost the whole second half. Coach Thibault: "I stayed with the group that just figured out how to keep playing."

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Black Bears have named Cindy Blodgett their new coach. The all-time scorer in University of Maine basketball history, Blodgett has been an assistant coach at Brown University for the past two years. With the choice, the Bears hope to return to the glory days of the McCallie-Versyp eras.

So, how long before Stephen King starts showing up at games?
UPDATE: It was a heart attack that felled Daugherty, but she is expected to make a full recovery.

The Sparks did not have Lisa Leslie or Temeka Johnson, but that did not stop them from dismantling the Sky 81-64.

Chamique Holdsclaw ran the point and led her team in scoring and Taj McWilliams-Franklin did a little bit of everything to help their team to the win. Holdsclaw said. "(Leslie is) definitely missed out there but I'm just glad we were able to acquire Taj in the offseason."

Dominique Canty did everything she could do for the Sky, scoring 18 but it was not enough.

"Are there some things we need to fix? Yeah," Sky coach Bo Overton said, "And real quick."

Stacey Dales knows how important winning is for the young franchise, but is realistic. ''We're not going to hit our stride in the first week of the season,'' Dales said. ''It's so important to come out strong for those people who see the team for the first time. We can't control people who come in and out of here.''

Sky owner Michael Alter confirmed the team will not have Deanna Jackson this season, after terminating her contract over her fight in Israel.
While many observers are interested in the Bird-Taurasi match-up tonight, another Storm player has been quietly putting together a solid start to the season.

“I was the only starter in training camp and I tried to drive to the basket more, I tried to play like I do overseas, where I always drive,” Iziane Castro Marques said after practice Tuesday. “And (coach Anne Donovan) seemed to like it.”

For the Mercury, Taurasi could get to 2,000 career points tonight (one game faster than Lauren Jackson).
Lindsay Whalen appears to be back in 2005 form after playing in Russia in the off-season. Her coach told her at the end of last season, 'you need to come back different if you want to be an elite guard in this league.'

Her team takes on the Silver Stars tonight in San Antonio, which should be a better game than their recent preseason match-up.

In San Antonio, Marie Ferdinand-Harris has also working hard to recapture her 2005 after giving birth last year.
The Monarchs were playing their third game in four nights, but it was the Mystics who looked exhausted: Chasity Melvin went to the bench with five fouls, Sacto cleaned up all the offensive glass, and the Western Conference team pulled way ahead late to win a dispiriting one-sided game.

Beard, injured Saturday, played, but it didn't help. DC owner Sheila Johnson expressed her displeasure in the locker room. Delisha Milton-Jones: "When you have the boss coming in here saying how disappointed she is, then you know you better get your [butt] in gear because you could be out of a job."
The Lynx came out of their challenging start to the season 0-3 after an 85-75 loss on the road to Detroit.

Seimone Augustus got some help in the scoring column from Amber Jacobs and Nicole Ohlde and Lindsey Harding had a solid game, despite going 3-12 from the floor. But they could not stop the Shock's transition game or Deanna Nolan and Plenette Pierson.

Coach Z said his team is "going to have to grow fast. The league doesn't give you time to stretch it out. It's a short season."

Laimbeer said his team has a long way to go with their offense, but was pleased with the defensive effort - especially on Augustus.
Worrisome news -- newly named Washington State coach June Daugherty has been admitted to a local hospital in critical condition.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

It looks like Storm will be without Betty Lennox tomorrow night in their game against the Mercury. She has left the team for undisclosed family reasons.

Pelton reported that she was not at practice today and that a replacement would be a game time decision.
Via Pilight: more viewers watched Saturday's Shock-Monarchs contest than watched the same day's NHL playoffs.
Lisa Leslie says, again that she wants to come back in August.

Coach Cooper says, again that he wants to coach in the NBA (again). For now, though, he's happy to be back with the Sparks, who begin play tonight in Chicago. The W's own site promises an articulate preview for this week's (and each week's) games.
Dave King says the WNBA is coming to Colorado-- but he still needs $3 million to bring it.

King: "This area wants the team, and will do the things to get the team."
The Monarchs continue on the road tonight as they take on the Mystics (on ESPN 2). It will be a homecoming for some of the players and staff of the Monarchs.

While Kara Lawson has been the offensive spark for her team in the first two games, she is still expected to come off the bench tonight. Ticha Penichiero who did not play for most of their game in Minnesota because of an injury is expected to start tonight.

Mystics fans can chat online with DeLisha Milton-Jones later today. Yesterday, new Mystics beat writer Marc Craig answered questions.
Someone e-mailed Chicago Tribune columnist Melissa Isaacson with a suggestion on how to increase interest in the WNBA.

The Sky, who have their home opener tonight against the Sparks, plan on doing it by winning.

Monday, May 21, 2007

A neat new Minnesota-based hoops blog today bemoans the state of the Lynx.
We all know that (in general) print coverage of the women's game leaves a lot to be desired. There are many reasons for that -- some rational, some irrational -- but a recent action by Donna O. and the WNBA to drum up media support for the W hit a nerve with Kim over at Women's Basketball Online.

Her site is an awesome resource, but most of us use her "Daily News" page to keep track of online coverage of women's basketball, so you may have missed her rant. I've taken the liberty of reprinting her words of wisdom.

5/17: I haven't commented on anything in awhile, but I think this warrants it. Who in the world told WNBA Prez Donna Orender this would in any way be effective or helpful? Newsflash (pun slightly intended): it will HURT your cause more than help it. The number one rule of writing letters to the media: no form letters. Ever. Under any circumstance. And you sure as heck don't email multiple newspapers at the same time, an even surer way to make sure your email gets deleted.

Number two should be: don't write to newspapers you know little or nothing about. Not a regular reader of the Sacramento Bee? Then don't contact them about their coverage even if someone begs you to. And for goodness sake you certainly shouldn't be encouraging the bombardment of complaints to papers who don't deserve it. The Seattle Times needs to improve its Storm coverage? Really? How much more can Jayda Evans do?

Furthermore, writing letters to generic addresses isn't likely to get you very far either. Do some research and write directly to the editor(s) and beatwriter(s). And don't go by WNBA.Com's list as they didn't do very thorough research into the newspapers that cover each team, try my WNBA page instead.

Several years ago I created a Media Tips Guide to writing letters to the media after speaking with several women's basketball beat-writers and college SIDs to get their suggestions for effective communication. It was quite enlightening hearing some of their comments - in particular how too much negative feedback about coverage can actually have the reverse effect even on editors and writers who are trying to provide good coverage.

Take note of how many "rules" WNBA.Com breaks.

Why is it that I am I still surprised that the W can't tap the invaluable resources that are alreaydy out there in cyber-land? Perhaps some wise person will forward this information to TPTB....

Three-point ace Erin Thorn led the Liberty (yes, really) in an opening-day victory over the Sky.

You can walk to MSG from the New York Times offices, but the Times ran the AP story anyway, and used less of it than the Bergen Record.

The Daily News' Kristie Ackert, on the other hand, wrote a real story. Thorn-- who set a new career record, and a team record for three-pointers made-- says the Lib's defense cued the late comeback.

Thorn's hot shooting even surprised the computers that keep track of the online boxscore, which (right now) omits stats for the second half.
In case you missed it, the Lynx cut both Chandi Jones and Shona Thorburn last week.

Those were the two players they received (Sho via the draft) from Detroit in return for a certain legend a couple years back. Were there any remaining doubt, it has now been squashed:

Worst. Trade. Ever.

I liked Sho, perhaps in part because she is the only WNBA player I've ever spoken to. Chandi, however, was an utter waste of space, and as someone close to the team said recently, "a total loser." Her receiving a salary from a WNBA team made a mockery of the very idea of professional athletics. As fucked up as the Lynx organization surely is, she didn't deserve to be a part of it.
Kym Hampton uses her latest Off Court column to discuss the trade of Becky Hammon to San Antontio.
About an hour before tip-off, the scoreboard showed Kiesha Brown starting in place of Seimone Augustus because of a knee contusion suffered in Indiana. Luckily Seimone decided to try playing.

Unfortunately for MN fans, it was not enough as the Monarchs used superior rebounding and outside shooting to down the Lynx 74-64 before a crowd of 9,831. Seimone wowed the crowd with an impressive 28 points. But her teammates struggled offensively, especially Lindsey Harding. "It was a frustrating night for me on the offensive end," she said. "I did some other things well, but at some point you have to get some [shots] to fall."

The Lynx nearly overcame the hot shooting of Kara Lawson and Nicole Powell as they pulled within four points with almost three and a half minutes left, but the Monarchs hit 11 free throws to put the game out of reach. Although Ticha Penichiero missed most of the game with a groin injury and Yolanda Griffith only scored four points, Lynx coach Don Zierden points to the experience of the Monarchs as a key to the game.

With Detroit on the schedule tomorrow, the Lynx will be further tested. Playing these good teams right away tells us where we have to go,'' Nicole Ohlde said. "Things are looking up.''

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Both Augustus and Raymond reported unlikely to play for the Lynx tonight.
Voepel on Indy: this could be their year.

Catch tells Voepel she may not like the new unis, and we've got some mixed feelings ourselves: the white (home) ones looked good on TV yesterday, but Sacramento's road togs recall wicker baskets, and San Antonio's side panels look way too much like Mickey from Fantasia.
On Ring Day, the Shock looked familiar: athletic, aggressive, inconsistent, foul-prone, and quite able to beat the offensively-challenged Monarchs. Both teams shot poorly; the home team controlled the boards.

Coach Laimbeer celebrated his 50th birthday; Freep reporter Chris Silva celebrates the play of Plenette Pierson, whose jump shooting sparkled in the first half. "She's on another level right now," Laimbeer said.

Yo Griffith (who had a bad, tired game) tells Sacto fans not to blame their new coach: Jenny Boucek "drew up the plays, we just didn't execute them." (Perhaps your reliance on set plays is part of the problem?)

Sac Bee columnist Voisin is so tired of watching Laimbeer's Shock defeat her Monarchs that she wants him to coach her Kings.
Indy had no trouble beating the Lynx. The home team shot 50% from the floor, 100% from the line.

Worse yet for Lynx fans, Augustus hurt her knee. Coach Zierden: "It might be good. It might be bad. We don't know right now." Reports from Conseco are all over the place.
Phoenix zoomed way ahead of the Silver Stars, then played well enough to preserve the W. Over 10K fans watched Paul Westhead's high-speed squad pick up where they left off.

The Diana, just back from Russia via her sister's wedding, did well and got help. New Merc acquisition Tan Smith looked wonderful (the team needed height-- and Westhead's style suits her); Kelly Miller had a superb first half.

San Antonio couldn't remember how to play basketball until too late. ""If we'd have been sitting down 10 or 11, this would have been a heck of a finish," coach Hughes said.

"We will be a better basketball team than we [showed] tonight," says coach Westhead, "so I'm excited." Should his Merc worry, again, that their uptempo style generates late-game fades?
Seattle came back from 22 down to win an emotional home opener.

The Storm looked completely lost before halftime; the Comets looked completely lost afterwards. Coach Donovan credits "the power of Key Arena."

Izzy scored 25, Lauren Jackson 23. LJ: "I feel totally different. I just feel fitter. I can run a whole lot more and it's easy for me. The last two years have been a struggle just getting up and down the floor."

Opening night drew nearly 10K fans, along with new owner Clay Bennett, who says very little about the fate of the teams.
The Sun got past the Mystics in a DC game closer than the score implies. Coach Adubato: "We were right there with two minutes to go."

Washington didn't have Alana, who hurt her shoulder overseas; Connecticut didn't have a post offense, but made up for it at the free-throw line, where the Sun shot 31-35.

Katie Douglas struggled early but broke a tie late. "After one week of practice and an awful performance in San Antonio, I didn't know what to expect," coach Thibault added.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Via Stever, more fun with the future of the Storm: apparently Storm exec Karen Bryant offered to purchase the team from Clay Bennett this year.

"Bennett rejected Bryant’s offer," Tacoma's News-Tribune reports, "because, while he may not want to relocate the Storm, he felt at the time it gave him more leverage with the Legislature." (Nice guy.)

Storm fans may have a white knight-- no, a green-and-red knight-- in Puget Sound real estate maven David Sabey, who now wants to purchase the Sonics and Storm from Bennett.

Also in Seattle, Jayda Evans' blog is back in force. On the team's future: "The team will most likely still relocate, but the Storm is going out in style." Bennett first said he wouldn't attend the home opener, now says he'll show.

Jayda also links to an OKC piece asking whether the Sooners could love the Storm. (Answer: maybe.)

Back to today: Lauren Jackson talks to Jayda about her return from overseas, and about the departure of assistant coach Jessie Kenlaw, who helped LJ develop her post moves.
Yesterday the Mystics cut South Dakota State forward and blogger Megan Vogel.

Vogel writes, endearingly: "My basketball career is not over... This Jackrabbit won't give up!" SDSU fans discuss.
In San Antonio, coach Hughes talks defense. Tonight's Merc-SASS opener could be a blowout if the Stars' defensive schemes fail-- or a great inspiration if they succeed.
Coach Adubato says his Mystics are finally ready to contend. For the first time in a while, they return the whole core of players from last year-- along with a big list of plays. The "living playbook... keeps growing and growing," Alana says.
Alas, the Sun look unprepared for the season, despite coach Thibault's training-camp efforts: Asjha is jet-lagged, Margo's back hurts, and de Souza doesn't speak much English.

Thibault is high on the Brazilian post nonetheless. "Those players who did not know her are like, `Oh my God, she's really good,'" he says. "The ones who did are like, `This is why we got her.'"
The Shock's Katie Smith explains herself. At 33, "I have that tie to the old and the new," she says. (And now she has a WNBA ring.)

Also in Detroit, Monarchs seem bummed out about their opening day rematch with the team that defeated them for the title last year. Ticha: "It brings back bad memories. But it's important that we feel that pain."

Ring Day! National TV! Braxton's return from Turkey! Cameras! Action! Coach Laimbeer worries a bit: "Lots of distractions going on," he admits.
More previews: ABC News chats with Taj, who talks about Lisa Leslie.

The Indy Star previews the season but gets distracted by motor sports.

MSNBC runs a surprisingly comprehensive AP preview for the league.
So many season-intro pieces for Opening Day that we may not get to them all. Here, though, are a few:

New Lynx coach Zierden sets a goal: "We don't want teams to see us on their schedule and say, "Oh, good, that's an automatic 'W.'"

The Liberty learn to live without Becky Hammon. Erin Thorn: "If we want to get better we've got to get time for our younger players and that definitely opened up some minutes."

In Detroit, coach Laimbeer says this time his team could be mentally prepared to repeat: the '07 Shock, unlike the '04 disappointers, " understand how hard it is to get there and stay there."

Can't or won't make it to an arena today? ABC has Detroit-Sacramento (3:30pm Eastern) today; NBATV (and local stations) have Sun-Mystics and Mercury-SASS later on, with the Comets' first two championships in between.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Read what the Western Conference coaches (and Merc GM Ann Meyers) have to say about the upcoming season in the transcript from the teleconference.
Former Sting players Tangela Smith and Kelly Mazzante are excited about playing Paul Ball this year.
With all five starters back, the Storm season preview focuses on the deeper bench that Anne Donovan was looking for. "Our bench this year is going to have all kinds of depth. I think the last time I saw that was when we won the championship," said Janell Burse.

Along with an improved bench a key for the team will be the improved health of players like Lauren Jackson and Wendy Palmer.

One player especially focused on getting back to the 2004 Championship level for the Storm and quieting critics of last year's team is Sue Bird.

Along with the changes in head coaches around the league, there was movement by some assistants. Shelley Patterson joins the Storm staff after stints in Charlotte, L.A. and Indiana. She replaces Jessie Kenlaw, who is now on Karleen Thompson's staff in Houston.

The Seattle P-I also looks at the long off-season that is spent overseas by most players. Betty Lennox said that the money is the main reason she goes over. "For me, it's not a joy that I go overseas and play so far from home," Lennox said. "I go over there to better my financial situation and then maybe learn about that culture."
The Shock won it all last year and are deeper and more talented this season. Is it enough?

"The biggest question," Bill Laimbeer said, "is just how strong is the league? We think we're a little better of a ball club than we were last year, however, we know that every other team has vastly improved. So how strong is the league? That's what we'll find out in the regular season."

Two players from South Carolina are looking to contribute off the bench in their first year in Detroit: Veteran Pee Wee Johnson and rookie Ivory Latta.

Doris Burke previews the the game she will work tomorrow on ABC between the Shock and the Monarchs.
The Sparks have Michael Cooper back as coach this season.

Will they also have Lisa Leslie? The team is alo uncertain is when Temeka Johnson will be back to practice from an off season knee surgery.
Off Court has a 2007 season preview and predictions on the East and the West.
Many league followers wonder, like the Indy Star, if Tamika Catchings and her teammates will win that elusive title this year. "Look, there's no reason, with the players that we have, that we can't win, that we shouldn't win," Catchings said. "But it's a matter of everyone jelling together."

The Fever's beat reporter from the Star also highlights four storylines to follow this season in the league.

Indy fans should remember to check out Fever PR guy Kevin Messenger's column on the team.
The Sac Bee's Ailene Voisin writes that new Monarchs coach Jenny Boucek has a tough act to follow.

Also in the Bee are a profile Yolanda Griffith; an update with former Monarch Erin Buescher in San Antonio; capsules on this season's Monarch roster and notes on other teams including the Fever and Sparks.
Lori Riley of the Hartford Courant talks to players and Coach Thibault about the impact arriving late to camp has on a team.

Lindsay Whalen thought her team would be ok since there is a group that has played together under Thibault for several seasons. But Thibault is concerned about how Erika de Souza will fit in and how Ashja Jones will adjust to starting. But he is also realistic about the situation:

"There is no dialogue to have," said Thibault. "The Europeans do what they want. They pay more. We have to fit our season into a certain time period with TV issues. Our playoffs need to be at a certain time of the year because of ESPN and their commitment, and all of that is a factor. They'll change some things temporarily for the Olympics, but in general, it's going to be what it is."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Pelton previews the West. San Antonio could miss the playoffs again; "What happened to the 20004 Minnesota Lynx?"

Pelton previews the East. Connecticut fans have a lot riding on de Souza: Indy takes a chance on Sting alums.

As usual, stats plus analysis; few big surprises in these previews, but two good reads.

Paying subscribers to Full Court can read two more previews: Jim Clark sees trouble ahead for the Sun; new (I think) FCP writer Kathleen Cherrie says the Sky might win more games this year.
President Orender speaks. She says, among other things, that Philly is on the expansion radar; that Italy and France have adjusted their national seasons to reduce overlap with the W (but FIBA hasn't yet budged); and that there are more games on national TV than ever (if we count NBA-TV, as we should).
Seattle cut Turner, keep Ely.

Anyone want an undersized power forward with a great work ethic, lots of upper-body strength, something of an outside shot, and UConn fans who will show up just to see her?
The Star Tribune's season preview of the Lynx focuses on #1 pick Lindsey Harding, who talks about the impact of her season long suspension during her sophomore season at Duke and the missed free throws from her last college game.

"What went through my mind was, 'God, how did I let [the game] get that close,' " Harding said. "The other thing that sticks in my head is, if I get in that position again, what will I do to change things?
Love 'em or hate 'em the Shock are back and looking to repeat as Champions.

Laimbeer: "Not only did we win the championship last year, but we're better. We're better individually, we're better collectively. … We're better talent-wise, and we have better chemistry."
Matt Wurst explains why the WNBA really is for everybody.
Check out the new look of wnba.com.

Among the new features is a message board and instructions from Donna on how to help increase newspaper coverage of your favorite team.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Mechelle talks to Diana Taurasi.
USA Today's Oscar Dixon gives us five players to watch in his season preview and breaks down the East and the West.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jim Caple offers an extensive and interesting view of what life was like for Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird this past season in Russia.
With some of their star players back from playing overseas, two teams finally held Media Days yesterday.

In Phoenix, they are still waiting for Cappie Pondexter and Penny Taylor. But Diana Taurasi was there to talk to the Media. Unlike the last two seasons, Taylor should be there for the opening game.

With this year's team, Coach Westhead may even turn up the speed of Paul Ball.

In Seattle, the return of Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson created excitement in camp. But maybe not as much as Barbara Turner leaving the Turkish playoffs early to make sure she has a shot of making the Storm roster this year.

"It was a very tough decision to not play in the final game," Turner said.

Alan Horton includes a review of the battle between Turner and Shyra Ely for the final roster spot in his reports from practice yesterday.
Donna Orender talks expansion and contraction. On the end of the Sting: "We want to operate from a position of strength, and you can't do that when you have a franchise that's holding you back."

David Carter of USC's Sports Business Institute: "It's settling in to being a viable league but not a wildly viable league... It's just viable on a smaller scale."

In San Antonio, beat writer Natalie England encourages local fans to give their Stars another chance. (I've got a feeling that this could be their year.)

And in the international TV ether, more fans will see WNBA games than ever, thanks apparently to new contracts with (mostly) NBA-TV.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Ticha and most of the late arrivals were back, but Yo rested her knee and did not play as the Monarchs edged the Mercury 77-75 at home.

Rebekkah Brunson hit the go ahead basket and led the Monarchs with 14 points and Adrian Williams pulled down 12 rebounds. Getting 13 players in the game and earning a win was exciting for first year coach Jenny Boucek. "It was definitely exciting," Boucek said. "My head was spinning just trying to get that many players in the game."

The Mercury were still without their big three, but Crystal Smith made a case to make the roster with 16 points in less than 17 minutes. In addition to getting back their three starters, Coach Westhead said his team has a multitude of things to work on before the regular season starts.
The Mystics closed their preseason action with a 87-63 thumping against Israeli club team Anda Ramat Hasharon. All of the Washington players who recently finished up seasons overseas played for the first time, although DeLisha Milton-Jones admitted they are still trying to get acclimated.

Laurie Koehn went crazy from behind the arc, connecting on 8-9 three point attempts and Milton-Jones added 15.
The Shock and the Silver Stars traveled to Omaha to compete in a preseason game yesterday won by San Antonio 61-57.

Former SASS player PeeWee Johnson started in place of Deanna Nolan and led her team with 12 points. Erin Buescher led all scorers with 14.

Dan Hughes said his team competed well, but did not play well, especially offensively. Laimbeer did not like his team's energy.

SPMSportsPage.com was on hand for the game.
With new L.S.U. coach Van Chancellor and Lady Tiger players on hand, the Minnesota Lynx topped the Sparks at the PMAC, 63-55.

The media focus was naturally on the former L.S.U. players Seimone Augustus, Doneeka Hodges-Lewis and Temeka Johnson (who was unable to play after going off-season knee surgery). But it was LaToya Thomas and Lindsey Harding who led their teams in scoring on the day. Harding made it to game after spending her morning in Durham getting her degree.

Augustus and Hodges-Lewis both enjoyed playing before the fans that used to watch them in college. “It was definitely fun to get cheers like that,” Augustus said. “To know the fans still support us and haven’t lost track of us.”

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The league rolls out its new-look official blogs; Kevin predicts this season's MVP.
Recently, speaking with someone about women's basketball, she mentioned a subject that needed some attention: the impact of pregnacy on female athletes. It is, after all, one thing women can do that men can't (though, oddly enough, a man's role in the "process" seems to be ignored) and, certainly, is a decision that impacts their career (as well as their team).

At the WNBA level we've very visible examples: from Sheryl Swoopes back in '97 (how many of us measure the league's growth by Jordan's height), to Helen Darling, to Tina Thompson, DeMya Walker and, now, Lisa Leslie.

A couple of days ago steve & jessie linked a story on an athlete's postpartum recovery process. Today, ESPN has an article on the decisions pregnant college female athletes make:
On the road that leads to Clemson, S.C., billboards sponsored by an anti-abortion group dot the highway with the phrase "Pregnant & Scared?" plastered in large letters. They are an ominous backdrop for Clemson University, where at least seven current or recently graduated student-athletes terminated their pregnancies, primarily because they were afraid of losing their athletic scholarships.
The NCAA, points out the article, leaves this issue up to its indivdual institutions
ESPN requested on-camera interviews with NCAA officials, and while our requests were declined, we were told in an e-mail: "… the issue is primarily one involving individuals and their campuses, and all decisions related to financial aid and medical exemptions are institutional."

"For the NCAA to throw up its hands and essentially say, 'We're being neutral here, it's left to our members' judgment,' isn't taking responsibility for how its policies are signaling to institutions that maybe it's OK to take away scholarships for athletes who get pregnant when it's not OK under Title IX," Brake said.
Nykesha Sales adjusts her pelvis.
More on WNBA moms, this time from the Houston Chronicle: four Comets are moms, and one more, Michelle Snow, helped raise her siblings after her own mother died.

Snow: "You learn a lot about yourself when you are trying to be there for your family while you are trying to play basketball... We have overcome a lot."

The St. Pete (Fla.) Times lists the top twenty athlete moms. Among them: Swoopes, Yo Griffith, and (there she is!) Taj.
Today in DC, the Mystics play a preseason game against Israeli League finalists Ramat Hasharon, The Basket Cases are on the case.

(No word as to whether Ramat/ Chicago boxer guard Deanna Jackson will show up with her Israeli team.)
Via Pilight, MSNBC looks at Mother's Day in the WNBA.

Taj: " My husband makes it a big deal. Other than that, I never think about it. For me, every day is Mother’s Day." She adds that her husband inspired their move to L.A: out of the military now, he'd like to act.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

On her way to a preseason game in Baton Rouge, Seimone opens up about last year's crappy Lynx season.

Augustus: "It almost got to the point where I wanted to quit... Everyone was stressed and depressed. We wanted to get in and get out of here...

"I understood as a professional athlete that we weren't going to win every game, we were going to go through some bumps and bruises. But I didn't expect it to be a landslide of negative things."

In another interview, the '06 Rookie of the Year talks about Russia, praises Minneapolis, and prepares hometown fans for this weekend's match.

"The Seimone they saw in college is different from the one in the pro leagues," she says. "I’m maybe more of a passer. But we’ll come down and put on a good show."
Today's featured teams: Sacramento and Seattle. New to me, but not to Monarchs fans: the way-cool unofficial Monarchs blog, with posts from fans-- and from Scholanda Hoston Dorrell Robinson.

Next, the Bee's Gutierrez follows longshot training camp member Antoinette Wells as she tries to make the team. Wells, who played for Wichita State, has a two-year-old son; she's the only rookie the Monarchs now have.

Assistant coach Monique Ambers on Wells: "She's a rookie, so she's nervous. She thinks everything she is doing is wrong. She works really hard and does a good job on the boards."

Last night the Monarchs lost badly in a preseason game in Seattle as Coach Boucek took on her former team. Sacto played without Walker and Penichiero; Seattle played without Jackson and Bird.

Seattle controlled the fourth quarter: fans felt good. Lennox scored 26, Izzy 17, and Storm rookie Gearlds 15. Gearlds graduates from Purdue today.

Shyra Ely didn't do much last night, but at least she was there; Barb Turner remains overseas in the Turkish playoffs. Ely and Turner are now competing for the last spot on Seattle's roster; coach Donovan has hinted that BT may well get waived when she returns.
From the Detroit News, a wonderfully long look at postpartum rehab for elite athlete moms.

Shock trainer Laura Ramus: "I tell the athlete they need to accept they are deconditioned and they need to start from the bottom. And even if they're feeling fine in their minds, their bodies might be a different story."

(The piece plays up the hazards in too-swift returns to action: I wonder what DeMya Walker would say.)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Clay predicts disaster ahead for the Comets, despite their remarkable frontcourt.
Nancy Lieberman has a WNBA Preseason Primer up on ESPN.com. A new feature to the stories on the site appears to be a comments section.

Nancy will also hosting the WNBA season preview on NBA-TV next Thursday night.
New hoops wiki seeks readers and contributors for WNBA coverage, and for other parts of the game.
With her move to the Monarchs this year, veteran rebounder Adrian Williams rejoins Nicole Powell, her teammate in Spain.

Anna DeForge and Tan White played against each other in Poland: they say they're happy to rejoin the Fever now. Their team lost to the Sparks in preseason play last night. Holdsclaw did not play; L.A.'s Marta Fernandez scored 14.
Patty Coyle on new Lib assistant coach Bruce Hamburger: "What I really like about him [is] he knows what he's doing."

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Looks like the internet chatter about the new Illinois coach is true: seems the Fightin' Illini's next coach will (also) come out of Rutgers. Will RU associate head coach Jolette Law be named at a press conference tomorrow?
How ESPN works.
Ex-Sun Devils Emily Westerberg and Aubree Johnson have decided not to try the WNBA this year.

By skipping the pros, they can travel to Italy with their college team. (Even a day in training camp would render them ineligible per NCAA rules.)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Lynxes Augustus and Harding to help promote baseball's Twins. (And, yes, vice versa.)
Pat Griffin is the country's leading expert on issues of orientation and sport. Now she has a blog devoted to those very issues. Check it out.
Jason Whitlock slammed CVS for milking Imusgate. Recently, at the Black Athlete Forum at Morehouse, CVS responded:
I made a statement that it wasn't black or white. The truth of the matter is that we have been fooled for such a long time. We have such promise and we all are important. We need to step on each other's heads to get the little piece of the American dream. It became green. It was power. You understand that.
I'm actually not sure I do, but regardless, sounds like it was a good time.
Can this year's Sparks solve the mystery of the missing Lisa Leslie? In the free section of Full Court, Clay investigates.
Lauren Jackson's Australian pro team, Adelaide, keeps trying to get her to play there this winter, but LJ still says she's not coming.

With her history of injuries, she'll need the time to recover between this summer's WNBA play and next year's Olympics. (Seattle fans may not see her in '08 either-- whether or not they have a team.)
The Indy Star talks to the Fever's male practice players.
Just a bit late, Katie Smith's hometown paper gives lots of ink to the Shock's exhibition win in Columbus on Sunday. (KTMVP?)
In more preseason action, the Storm minus Bird and Jackson overtook the Sun minus Whalen and Jones.

Seattle doubled up Connecticut in the paint as erstwhile Sun starting center Le'Coe Willingham shot just 4-14. Tanisha Wright played most of the game for the Storm, her recent injury notwithstanding.

Coach Thibault was less than delighted with rookie Kiera Hardy, a third-round pick who was a shot-happy guard at Nebraska: "It's nice to have moxie... but you can't be a point guard down the stretch and have crucial turnovers," he said. "Her job is to run the team and not to make a lot of shots."
More preseason action: the Sparks took out a Mercury team still lacking its stars.

New Sparks Marta Fernandez (who?) and Taj McWilliams-Franklin (!) led the winners with 16 and 15. For the Merc, Mazz scored 16 on 4-7 three-point shooting. Will she see much playing time once their starters come home?

The Merc had to move the home game up a few hours to make room for the men's playoff victory later that night. Did the Suns fans with Band-Aids on their noses take the idea from Sue Bird?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

At the risk of getting too giddy, let me say that there is something incredible going on right now in the NBA, and that something is currently coalescing in the Warriors-Jazz series.

[The what-who series, you ask? Exactly.]

On a related note, Free Darko is the best basketball blog in the world.
Crummy news out of Seattle: Joyce Walker is stepping aside as Garfield High School's girls basketball coach, albeit temporarily. Having announced in February that she has lung cancer, she's made the decision to take a temporary leave of absence.

A local legend on the Seattle courts, Walker may be best known to the national basketball audience as "that other coach" in the documentary "The Heart of the Game." As a player, Walker won a state championship at Garfield in 1980, starred at LSU, won Olympic gold, played extensively abroad, and was the second female basketball player to join the Harlem Globetrotters. She returned to the Garfield program in 1999 as coach, and led the team to a championship in 2005.

Monday, May 07, 2007

David King is CEO of Triple Crown Sports, a sports marketing company based in Fort Collins that manages the Women's WNIT and owns the Colorado Chill. Featuring Becky Hammon and Ruth Riley, the Chill played three seasons (2004-06) in the NWBL, winning back-to-back championships in 2005 and 2006.

Those who followed the NWBL’s checkered existence wondered if the Chill’s popularity could steady the league in the way the Springfield Spirit had not. Unfortunately, in June of '06 King announced the Chill wouldn't play in 2007 because the NWBL owed him money and didn't have adequate prospects for financial stability.

Currently, King is in talks with the WNBA about landing a Colorado franchise in 2008. He spoke with Women’s Hoops about organizing a franchise bid and his commitment to women’s basketball.

WH: Can you talk a little about Triple Crown Sports and its connection to women’s basketball?

David King: The actual mission statement of the company is the ownership and production of premium grassroots sports events. We have been at that for 20-plus years on the amateur level. Women’s basketball emerged to us as an extension of that concept. It wasn’t to the level that the fundamentals of media and television were making it “just happen.” I guess you could say from the “passion to the sports” that we had, it looked like it needed us and we wanted to be a part of it. And that’s almost been 15 years that we’ve been with women’s basketball.

WH: I understand you have deep women’s basketball roots…

DK: My mother played AAU ball in the 40’s and 50’s and my dad was a basketball coach. My wife was a collegiate basketball player and I spent two years as an assistant in women’s college basketball. So, one thing leads to another and you get hooked on a sport and a life style and the things that make it special. It takes a while for everybody to get what makes things special. If you find a family that’s driving race cares, they “get” what makes it special. And I guess I’d say our family gets what makes women’s basketball special.

WH: And what do you think that is?

DK: I’ve always believed it offered a different kind of relationship between the player and the game, the player and the fan, the player and the media than anything I’ve witnessed on the men’s side. It offered a uniqueness to and an authenticity to the relationship that's just really hard to get in other spots.

WH: You’ve had success managing the WNIT. What did you bring from that experience to your relationship with the NWBL and, considering the NWBL’s track record, why did you risk purchasing a team?

DK: We’re always in an emotional moment with the sports fan at this level. You know the men’s sports fans are convinced it’s just a business. So you don’t… it is [about] love and you have a passion for the game, but it’s been a business for quite a while and people get that.

On the women’s side, there’s something to be said for being a volunteer and there’s something to be said for being a fan and there’s something to be said for putting your career in something. And I always try and explain to people – the ultimate compliment you could ever make to anything in life is to put your career in to it. Because then you have to figure out the fundamentals of it. I would say that we elected to put our careers into the women’s game – and by dong that, we gave it our passion and the commitment and respect that people believe volunteers have for sport. Put your career in that sport and I will really understand how much you believe in it. Because you’re going to have to learn the fundamentals and you’re going to have to do things yourself that you may not [have been] willing to do as a volunteer.

We learned some fundamentals in women’s basketball over time that aren’t possessed by lots of people: the knowledge of how to market, where the fan base is, how to reach them, how to create a relationship with them over time, are things that came to us through commitment to the game. And I think that’s what we said – we think we can take this past sponsoring an event and apply it to the ownership of a team. I doubt that we would have gone anywhere else with that concept other than the NWBL, had it had enough fundamental financial people behind it. But again, it was people that were wanting to – not play with the sport, because they were serious – but they weren’t wanting to commit to it all the way and put the organization and structure and the fundamentals in place and commit to learning the business of women’s basketball. To me that’s the ultimate passion – and not the other way around.

WH: You must have been burned – and not just financially – after working with the NWBL, and yet you’re moving to trying to own a WNBA franchise.

DK: The things that the NWBL relationship confirmed was a lot stronger than what it discouraged...meaning that it’s a beautiful game. The relationship between the fan and the player can be one of the unique mentoring moments of this world. And if you can get out to the right groups and tell that story, that that story is a universal one of young ladies battling to achieve and younger ladies watching them an older ladies appreciating them and men who appreciate women watching them. You know, just the general appreciation of a game well played, of an effort well done, of respect between a fan and a player. The player’s got to respect the fan as much as the fan respects the player.

So, what I found about the NWBL was that the players were unbelievable. It was the storytelling that was barely tolerable by the league ownership. The talent level on the court every night was worth coming to watch. But the marketing organization and the fundamental of the business were NOT anything to watch.

The disappointments in that were just that – that people want to get in to sports to the degree that… they make stupid decisions. And I would that what I’m trying to explain to you now is that I don’t think that we’re making a stupid decision to pursue this. It’s a very calculated risk based on our commitment to this industry. It will be very difficult to build it the way we want to be, but very possible.

WH: A WNBA bid is a tad different that an NWBL bid. For fans who want to understand the process, can you talk about the logistics of putting it together?

DK: The fundamentals of landing any type of franchise are very simple: You start with the “who,” then you go to the “what” and almost always those two are driven by the “why.” That’ll point to the “where” and “when” So, from our stand point, the first piece to put together were the team of people – the “who.” The “who” in our case, is that both the buildings that we’re going to play in (the Budweiser Events Center and Pepsi Center) have to support it, and support it in such a fashion that they would play a key role in the fundamental marketing and positioning of the team. And that they would offer additional marketing services and that they would give us leases that were favorable for the size of crowds that we would expect.

Then the things that don’t get written down: putting together the right financial team – the bankers and the accountants. We’ve got the right people in the state of Colorado behind that. The right legal team, people that you can trust to put a nice structure of a deal together, that can work at the WNBA level.

And then it’s back to the “who” inside your organization. I would say to you that the product is the players. [So] who’s going to put those players together and make it stand for the women’s game? Because if it emulates the men’s game, then you’re chasing a different model.

Then I’ve always believed – and our grassroots sports model pans out every time – that sales are a direct proportion to sales people. We intend to have the most well-trained, largest ticket and sponsorship sales force in the WNBA. So the “who” to me, from the community relations people who really know how to position your players and your coaches in the community on a continual basis, to the ticket people that know what they’re’ doing in the community and can bottle corporate and group – that basically ties to the “what:” how you pull off your plan.

The “how you buy a team” is cut a check for “x” amount of money, and I believe that that’s one of the things that is a little too easy to say. When you’re done, after somebody’s got the “how” done, then what they do and who they are all of a sudden starts looking real big. They don’t know how to sell tickets, put an organization together, put a scouting department together, get a community relations effort going – those type of things. You’ve got a tremendous organization in the NBA/WNBA to help, but you still have to fill in a lot of the gaps yourself.

WH: Can you talk about the reality of time and patience involved in developing a fan base?

DK: You want to build a relationship between players and fans and community and the team and your strategy of what you do with your team and what you determine to be successful can be a lit bit different. The “win x media = success” is a model that the male market uses. “If the media gets behind us and we win some ball games, they’ll REALLY get behind us, and look out, we’ll sell a helluva a lot of tickets. And that’s our marketing model.”

And I don’t disagree. You have to have a product, but I look up at a Utah product every year in the Jazz, and realize, there’s a lot of teams that fundamentally get… that put together a team that fits their community. And they’re very valid member of the league.

WH: Which brings us to Becky Hammon (Colorado State ‘99). She was vital to the Chill’s popularity and success. Do you need Becky for you WNBA team?

DK: To say that … I would simply say that the reason I acquired the first franchise was because Becky would play for me. That’s a very simple, simplistic statement. There were some others that I wanted to put with her, but with her coming on to the court, there were enough of the pieces to go. In this case, with or without Becky, we have a valid plan. She’s a tremendous asset to the WNBA, and wherever she plays, she’ll be an asset to us as a player. But there’re lots of good young ladies out there that can come earn the respect of the community.

The players are the product. Everything is a function around that. But the players also have to be part of the system that causes the relationship to happen with the fans. An easy one is to get a player they already know and respect. A tougher one is to get a player that you know they’re going to respect and have a relationship with. Not undoable, and we’re worthy of that challenge.

WH: You may be going up against bids from Kansas City, Arkansas, Atlanta – what makes you a stand out as a candidate?

DK: I’d say they’d be hard pressed to match us organizationally and knowledge-wise. I think the things that we’ve done and the things that we will do because of what we’ve done…we know to do things that others don’t even have on their list.

We’ve got four things on our resume that are really, really strong. And those four things are very difficult to come by. The NIT’s were one of those pieces. Having run the pre- and post, started them from scratch, gone through all the legislations, everything it took to get their (NCAA) support and worked with 100-plus host universities and almost 200 universities who’ve played in our events -- that has been a tremendous asset to have in terms of pricing, ticketing, marketing, sponsorship experience.

The experience of owing the Chill in the NWBL and playing in the building we’d play a majority of our games in – from ticketing to game production to sponsorship to season ticket sales to media to broadcast…those are experiences we’ve had and staff that we’ve had to put together.

The third one is we ran a sports agency for five years and represented the female athlete. Saw their dilemmas, their dreams, their desires. I think we “get” the product part of the player well enough that we really have some insight that will help us be a good place to work.

The last one is we have an organization and structure that’s been in the sports world dealing with customer service for 20-plus years successfully and profitably. I think those four criteria really make our organization of who we are stand out.

Now, where we play. The mix between the two venues puts the four million people in Colorado 20-25 minutes from either venue at a given time. The Pepsi Center – the Easter Sunday service building, and the Bud center -- the every day church services building, so to speak. We’ve go that big building scenario and we’ve got that small building scenario that are both within the norms of the WNBA. Where we play, the market we play in, I don’t think we’ve got any issues there.

I think the financial strength… we’re not the typical group, which is probably the biggest challenge. We didn’t invent the widget and then decide that we’d sell the widget and then take our money and become a sports owner. So we’re non-traditional from that stand point in that we have to put together an ownership group of other people with us to be financially strong enough. And when the [franchise bid] where somebody steps up with a $100 million net worth and can cut a check in the bat of an eye makes the immediate “how” an easier decision for (the WNBA.) But I’d say we’re highly qualified to be in the WNBA

WH: What excites you about having a W team in Colorado?

DK: If you ever watch me at a game or a sporting event, it’s real simply fundamentals that excite me. I can look at the empty-nesters in the crown and seeing them tied to their team and everything else that’s forgotten… and I can see the little girls and the little boys playing in the corridor and then, when the [players] come over to sign, and they get excited and it makes their week...just the little stuff.

For the communities and for the people that we live with, just doing something real simple right. Doing something that people can get some memories out of, some enjoyment, from is a novel task in this world.
In another exhibition game, the Shock pummeled the Mystics in Columbus.

Local hero Katie Smith didn't score, maybe because the Shock already knew she could; new Detroit center Katie Feenstra tallied 22 and 12.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Finally, the Fever walloped the Storm in Indy. Both teams missed lots of starters; in another disappointment for hometown fans, Erin Lawless sat out (concussion) and Gearlds shot poorly.

Ann Strother, wearing her new Fever uni, scored 15 on 5-12 shooting; Indiana native Alison Bales looked good for the home team as well.
In another preseason game without much electronic coverage, Connecticut edged New York.

Davenport and Sun training camp invitee Kiera Hardy shot well; McCarville didn't. Junkies discuss; scroll down a bit for the box score.
Lots of exhibition action last night. For one thing, San Antonio beat the Lynx in Wichita. If this obviously erroneous (it lists Svet, for one thing) box score can be believed, the Silver Stars tore up Minnesota inside, and Erin Buescher scored 21.

Wecker disappointed K-State fans (Voepel included) by not suiting up, having sprained her ankle on Thursday. Ohlde: "It’s tough when anybody isn’t playing due to injury. And especially with Kendra coming back to Kansas, it’s definitely disappointing. But everybody’s got to understand it’s preseason, and they want her to be healthy."

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Shock beat the Comets in preseason play in Lubbock; ex-Texas Tech stars Pierson and Erin Grant, who had something to prove, shone alongside Sheryl Swoopes, who didn't.

Swoopes loved the crowd, led a late rally, and left the game with ice on her back. "The only bad thing was we didn't win," she said. In an earlier interview, Her Majesty thanked West Texas fans for sticking with her after she came out.

Grant is-- like Bowen-- an undersized guard who got cut in preseason last year, then went overseas. Coach Thompson says Grant has a "very good" chance of becoming a Comet now.
Spartans fans can finally see Lindsay Bowen play in a WNBA game-- but they'll have to travel to Connecticut.

A great outside scorer at State, Bowen may not have the handle for the point guard position she'd have to play in the pros; she got cut from the Liberty last year, but has returned on their preseason roster. It's an especially sweet return-- at least for the moment-- because the Swedish team with Bowen and Roehrig folded (while owing them money) last year.

Coach Coyle: "I think her skills, her handles, her ability to run the team is better. I think she has a chance to play in this league."
Ohlde says she can get stronger and tougher this year.

Coach Zierden, on watching film of last year's Lynx: "We were physically outclassed... I saw players making good moves to the basket but weren't strong enough to finish. I saw players wearing down late in games." (Me too.)
The Sky took on the Mystics in their second pre-season game, but traveled north to the campus of Marquette University in Milwaukee. Chicago topped Washington 63-60.

Once again Candice Dupree led the way with 17 points, but no box score seems to be up and it does not look like the Milwaukee or Chicago papers covered the game. Here's hoping Megan Vogel gives a report on her blog.

Edit: An article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the game is up.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Michelle Snow praises new Comets coach Karleen Thompson, an assistant in the last years of Van: "I call her the '5-5 post' a lot because even though she was a guard, she knows a lot about what we should be doing inside." (As I type, the Comets are playing the Shock in Lubbock-- but the W's website won't track the game.)