Women's Hoops Blog: September 2007

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ni haaaaaaaaao, CHINA!

Well, they couldn't revenge the US Soccer loss v. Brazil, so they did then next best thing: Wipe out the bitter memory of their first game in Chile (85-79 over Cuba).

This time, it wasn't even close. Leaping out to a 16-0 lead in the first four minutes, the US never let up on the way to a 101-71 rout of Cuba (though Clay still won't be happy, I'm sure). It got a little sloppy and unfocused in the fourth, when Cuba outscored the US 27-23, but the game was never in doubt, and the US punched their ticket to the 2008 Olympics (and got a really big trophy to boot).
"We came into this game real focused," said Taurasi. "We played them in the first game and we watched film this morning and saw we didn’t play well in that first game. We were offensively and defensively kind of hesitant. Today we came out and played aggressive on both ends and it showed for 40 minutes. The beauty about this team is that any combination of five players out there were confident and it showed on the court. This was definitely a statement tournament for us."
Diana put up an impressive line: shooting 50%, she scored 15 points, snagged 12 rebounds, dished 4 assists, and wrassled 2 steals. Tina showed her championship form with 18pts and 6 rebounds. Candace added 12, Katie 15 and Kara 14. You can check out the accumulated state for the team here.

There was great distribution of minutes -- Tina topped everyone with 25 minutes of court time. You've got to believe that everyone playing as much as they did will pay off big dividends in the future. Writes Oscar:
Donovan said team chemistry will play a huge part in the USA's Olympic dreams and she expects players to attend as many of the USA Basketball training camps as they can. USA Basketball will hold four training camps before the team reconvenes before the 2008 Olympics, including an eight-game college tour, a Russian tournament next month and two spring camps.

"I'm going to try to go to every single camp because we know the one thing we lack in comparison to other teams is time together," Bird said. "Getting to know one another on the court, developing chemistry.
You can check out additional game quotes here.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

You know... I don't believe the NYTimes has spent a single pixel in the last 7 days on covering the US team's play in this very important tournament.

Of course, the Dolan/Isiah fiasco is getting lots of play.

Tom Jolly must be so proud of his section.
Congratulations to Margo, who is pregnant. Unless my Spanish is even worse than I think it is, there's no word on her due date, hence no word on how it affects her '08 WNBA plans; thanks to Nena for finding the article first. (Anybody find anything in Polish?)
Lo siento, Argentina.

It was the kind of game that made you want to say, "No mas." The 104-53 score makes the game seem closer than it was. Argentina was outsized, and you've got to believe that the US felt a little like Becky Hammon getting a chance to go against..say, Ivory Latta. Suddenly Becky feels HUGE.

Someone had a stopwatch going, because no one played more than 20, and Paris was on the low end of the minutes at 12. Speaking of Paris, I'm thinking she's getting QUITE the education this tourney. Has never gotten her feet underneath her, and what she takes away and applies to her game in Oklahoma will have a big impact on her WNBA potential.

Back to the game: the team shot 54% from the field, 20% from behind the arc and 80% from the free throw line. Candace Nicole only had 17 points and 5 steals. Diana only took three shots (none to Tina's nose) and dished out 5 assists. Becky B. went 7-9 and added 6-of-8 free throws to earn high scoring honors at 20. Cappie notched 7 assists, and while Sue went 0-4, she also had 4 steals.

Said Anne:
I honestly think that our three games since Cuba have been easy because of our focus. I thank the Cuba game for giving us that focus and that level of understanding of what we’re facing now. These have been big margins of wins. But if you really look at our statistics, other than this afternoon, we have stayed focused at both ends of the floor. Looking back, I realize that Cuba was a great way to snap us into the reality of the moment and play in the moment. I don’t think it will be difficult at all to raise the level again tomorrow.
Donovan and crew can test that theory when they meet the Cubans in the Gold medal match. In what might be called an upset, Izzy went a little Kobe (8-20) and the Cuba took advantage. A great third quarter allowed the Cubans to snatch away the lead and then they held on to squeeze out a 69-67 victory.

Tomorrow is key for the US -- win against Cuba and you make Donna's migraine go away. And you get to go to China.

Don't win, and all sorts of bad things happen during next year's WNBA season.

4:00, on NBAtv.

Cappie managed to squeeze in a post-game blog:
Lookin' for a time killer while waiting for the game to come on? Flashback in wbball history through the WHB archives.

Clicking on September 2006 will remind you that Rene was still around, people were cranky about the quality of the WNBA Finals, the World Championships were being played and I was (surprise) cranky about the Times' lack of coverage), Annie became GM, and... WHAT? There was some stadium issue in Seattle and Sacramento?
Well, hoop-dee-do! NBAtv will be broadcasting BOTH FIBA semi-finals today.

4:30-6:30: US v Argentina

8:00-10:00: Brazil v. Cuba

Currently Izzy is the top scorer in the tourney, followed by Simone Edwards. Oh, those Seattle scorers!

In the additional Quotes section of USABball's (ugly) site, Bird and Brunson have some interesting comments about the team and a possible gold medal match-up against Brazil or Cuba.
Bird: I guess the two areas we've had trouble with in the first three games is rebounding, particularly offensive rebounding for the other team. We're giving up way too many of those. I think every team has outrebounded us or at least come close throughout this tournament. That's one area. Also putting people on the free throw lin e, getting in some foul trouble. Today we did a much better job of that, so that's a good sign. If we can take care of the boards, no matter if shots fall or not as long as you take care of the boards you have a chance to win.

Brunson: Both of those teams are definitely big in the post. They're going to try to pound it inside, they're going to try to do a lot of work inside against us. We have a lot of small, thinner, more mobile posts which is to their benefit and ours. We're going to definitely be equally matched. They're both good teams, they're going to come prepared, they're going to be ready, they're going to scout us, work hard and be focused. They're going to try to do whatever they need to do to win. They're going to be tough games either way. We need to continue to get better and play our game.
Feelin' down? Wish someone would drop by and give you a pep talk? Here comes Peyton! (Thanks Cam)
Graham Hays said yesterday that Hope Solo's future with the team might be in doubt.

And now she's been booted for the Norway game. It wasn't just coach Ryan who was upset with her either. "The circumstance that happened and her going public has affected the whole group," said captain Kristine Lilly. "And having her with us would still be a distraction."

Friday, September 28, 2007

Clay fires one more salvo against Anne Donovan.
Yah, well so WHAT if the loonie has matched the dollar! (and Mr. Colbert? A loon is NOT a duck). Our basketball team can still beat your basketball team.

It was the kind of game to make a Canadian say, "zut alors, eh?" as the US were mighty unkind to the polite ones from up north, winning 83-37. The game was all about defense (after the first quarter) and only Tina Marie, Miss Parker and DMJ scored in double figures.

The highlight? Tina got sent to the bench by an elbow to the eye. Diana says it wasn't her, but Swin is not quite sure.

The USA site will have some additional quotes in a bit (if you think the players are tired after 3 games in a row, just think how the staff feels. Caroline, you should have hired me as your lackey!). Kym has handed over her "My Take" spot to Ms. Spoon.
Yes, the USA won by 48 today over Canada in another blowout, but this team isn't too cocky. They have their heads on straight. They're constantly reminding themselves that they're not the defending World Champions and they understand how important it is to win right now to qualify for the Olympics. They're also going out every day to try to restate their dominance and reclaim their place on top of the international game.
Allow me one minor snipe at the Liberty pr peeps: How come no one sent out an email telling Lib fans that Kym and Spoon were doing these gigs? Is it because it's on NBAtv and not MSG? Silly, if you ask me... And, since you are asking me, I'm betting the traffic to WNBA.com has dropped since the fantabulous playoffs. I know it ain't Donna's job (really? it isn't), but who didn't send out an WNBA email blast to everyone about Kym, Spoon, the .com coverage....

End o' snipe.

Next up: Argentina in the semi-finals.

By the way, Cuba beat Jamaica (76-62) and Canada (75-52). They go up against Brazil.
Hope Solo now says her comments yesterday were taken out of context and were not meant to express anything negative about Briana Scurry.

Also, she says that Brit is a good mom and completely sober, that Bonds really thought it was flaxseed oil, that Len Peltier is innocent, and that the insurgency is in its last throes.
Watch out Big 10. Rene has resurfaced ... in Bloomington, Indiana. Hoosiers coach Felicia Legette-Jack recently introduced the former Penn State coach as her mentor.

Rene's son-in-law is an assistant on Legette-Jack's staff, replacing Vera Jones. Jose Mori also coached under Legette-Jack at Hofstra.
Maaan, where's Beard? I mean, we could use her... what's up? Doesn't she want to play with USABBall?? *continue with various conspiracy theories*

Seems she's pulling a Swoopes and having some surgery (left shoulder.)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Well, that's more like it... Yes, it was Jamaica, but it's nice to be able to get the cobwebs out, regain the shooting touch, share the ball, and rest a bit. All of which the US got to do en route to a 115-47 win. Five players in double figures, some nice pictures, and some nice quotes. Said Donovan:
The big thing is when you play a team like Jamaica, the tendency could be to take them lightly or to let up at some point in the game. But I was really pleased that we didn't. In the second quarter we gave up 17 points. Other than that, defensively we really stayed after it from start to finish. Everybody got to play and everybody did very, very well. You look at our bench statistics and they're right in there helping us shoot 60 percent from the floor. There were a lot of good things on both end of the floor tonight.
Highlights? Cappie played more that 2 minutes, and though all her points (6) were on free throws, I'm adding an extra point for each of her assists: 9. In 20 minutes. Augustus said lah-dee-dah to her shoulder and was perfect from the field (8-8, 3-3 FTs). And Lawson said, "Look at me, I can shoot (4-7), dish (8 assists), and steal (5). (As an A-student, I'm sure Kara will understand if I suddenly flashed on Eats Shoots and Leaves).

Says Kym:
The Americans looked much better out on the court today, but I would attribute a lot of that to being more mentally prepared to play. These players all know that when you put that USA uniform on, you have a lot of history and tradition to uphold. They know what that uniform stands for. So they came into this game thinking, "C'mon, we can't allow this to happen again. Yesterday, we pulled out a tough win, but there's no reason we should find ourselves in that situation." I think their success had a lot more to do with their mental approach than changing something tactically on the court.
Looks like Oscar made the trip and he's focused on the nice things people are saying about Seimone.
"I'm so proud of Seimone," Donovan said. "She knew coming in the one area she had to improve on was defensively. Losing Catchings gave her an opportunity in our rotation. From day one in training camp she has worked hard at being a defender for us.
Hey, O, take it from one who knows: I recommend the lamb, asparagus and red wine. When I was there back in the day... WAY back in the day... Concha y Toro was the "it" place.

Next up? Les Canadiens! No Sutton-Brown (Rutgers) or Dales (Oklahoma), but Kim Smith (Utah) is there, as is Lizanne Murphy (Hofstra), Amanda Brown (Penn State) and Chelsea Aubry (Nebraska).

Looks to be a 4:00pm start, but don't every trust me on times. NBAtv'll probably rebroadcast the Jamaica game -- the Cuba replay went at 4am.
Wondering what's up with Ms. Swoopes (via ripleydc)? Just a little (successful) surgery:
"Sheryl had back surgery with a recovery time of eight to twelve weeks," trainer Mike Douglas said. "She had a nerve root compression and the surgery relieved the compression. She got relief in her right leg instantly."
Makes me wonder what the latest is on Ms. Ford...hmmm... nothin' on their website BUT... lookee here! Cool auto'd Shock auction items!
It's official: Mr. Paul Ball moves to Seattle. (Or Oklahoma City?)

Nice to see his WNBA accomplishments highlighted in the press release:
Westhead joins the Sonics after spending the last two years as the head coach of the WNBA Phoenix Mercury, where he compiled an overall record of 41-27 (.603) and led the Mercury to their first WNBA Championship in 2007. Known throughout his coaching career for his teams’ up-tempo style, Westhead’s 2006 Mercury team shattered the WNBA record for scoring by averaging 87.1 points per game, nearly 10 points higher than the previous mark held by the 2000 Houston Comets
ESPN.com is running a "Should the UConn/TN series have been canceled" poll. Early returns have "no" the dominate answer -- even Tennessee is running 50-50.
In other Preliminary Round matches, Canada beat Jamaica (68-47), Chile beat Mexico (85-54 ) and Brazil got all it could handle from Argentina (72-62).

Tomorrow, the US faces Canada. And yes, everyone is playing five games in a row....
JMac will be bloggin' from Europe.

Did I mention that the other day, riding the 7 train, I say a young gentleman with JMac's hair...style? Who knew she was such a trendsetter!
CSTV (who does a fine job of creating women's basketball content) has a Q&A with Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw.
I don't pretend to know a great deal about soccer, but I get the sense that U.S. women's coach Greg Ryan isn't widely beloved in futbol circles.

Yesterday, Ryan made a strange decision, announcing his plan to replace Hope Solo in goal with Briana Scurry for today's semi against Brazil. It was strange because Solo had been playing very well over the last several games. And it was really strange that Ryan waited til the day before the match to make the move.

Eyebrows were raised. "I just think it becomes a distraction when you're too focused on that rather than the game," said Julie Foudy. "To me it's a sign of worrying too much about the opponent. You just play. You know they're good. You know their strengths and weaknesses, but you don't have to make such a drastic change.

Graham Hays also questioned the move.
Ryan has gambled three years of work and often largely anonymous success on a move that leaves him wide open to second guessing. Should the United States lose to Brazil, or even lose in a final based on goalkeeping mistakes by either keeper, the criticism former coach April Heinrichs faced after the 2003 World Cup will seem tame by comparison.
The U.S. lost 4-0 this morning. Certainly the loss was not Scurry's fault — a couple of the goals just couldn't have been stopped, and lots of other things went wrong. But there's no telling what effect Ryan's late move had on team chemistry and morale.

And as Jere says, it may cost Ryan his job.

UPDATE: After the game, Solo slammed Ryan and Scurry. "There's no doubt in my mind that I would have made those saves," she said. "This isn't 2004."

See the video here. Yikes.
Well, the rebroadcast was at 4am...sory about that. BUT you can catch US v Jamaica on NBAtv at 1:30. Look for the stats/play-by-play at the FIBA site and check .com for live blogging.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Well, yes, it was close, but the US pulled it together and then pulled away for an 85-79 win over the feisty team from Cuba. Parker (9/12 for 21pts) and Taurasi (16 on 50% shooting) led the US in scoring, but overall the team struggled offensively and seemed out-sized in the paint. Key plays by Bird and Smith down the stretch sealed the victory.

Post game, Milton-Jones spoke about the Cuban team (in the additional quotes section):
You can tell that’s a team that’s been together for many years. We were talking about it in the locker room and Diana Taurasi said she remembered playing against most of the same girls when she was 18.

They know each other well, they have great chemistry on the floor and it showed tonight. We’re a team where we’re comprised of a lot of different players who haven’t really played together a lot and that showed. They took advantage of that in certain areas of the game. But in the end our defensive effort was the thing that really turned the game around for us and allowed us to get easy buckets in transition, regain the lead and extend it from there.
A high point: No one played more than 30 minutes -- there's still a LOT of basketball to be played.

But we do miss our posts. Kym Hampton over at NBAtv via the .com posts about the game:
Courtney Paris is the only true five on the U.S. roster, and she didn't see much time, and that's partly to blame for Cuba's Yakelyn Plutin going off for 23 and 10. Candace Parker can play in there, DeLisha Milton-Jones can play in there… but when you play against these international teams, their post players are very versatile. And Plutin is very mobile… she's not a true five… and she did well both around the basket and in her mid-range game. And Parker and DeLisha had trouble banging with her down low.
Rumor has it NBAtv will rebroadcast the US/Cuba game tomorrow at 7amEST (thanks Grumps). And how many times do I have to tell you, "No, I WON'T tell you how it ends."

By the way, is there a more annoying/less helpful page than the NBAtv beast?

Oh, and if you're going to get up early tomorrow to watch basketball, don't forget the semis of the World Cup are on: US v. Brazil at 8amEST, ESPN2. Looks like there's some pregame coverage at 7:30. The winner will face defending champs Germany.

Ought to be a great game. Brazil gave the US/91ers everything they could handle and then some in Athens. After the game, the Brazilian coach spoke of his respect and admiration for his team, but anticipated he would return to the men's side because...it paid better. He had daughters in US schools.

And then there was his feeling his country dismissed his team's accomplishments simply because they were women. Ah, how times have changed, writes Jeff Klein at the Times.
Not so long ago the main issue with the Brazil women’s team was the lack of respect it got from the country’s soccer fans. But not anymore. Having reached the World Cup semifinal against the U.S. and looking like a legitimate contender to win it all, the Samba Queens are now getting their props at home.
Speaking of respect, George Vecsey wrote about the US team after their 2-2 tie with North Korea and sounded a little cranky.
The current members of the American women’s soccer team seem preoccupied with receiving the same attention their hallowed ancestors did eight years ago.

A good way to start would be learning to survive while short a player. That is how the great teams respond. To date, there is no evidence the new breed has the same resourcefulness displayed by the Fawcetts and Foudys and, oh yes, the Chastains of yesteryear.
Wonder how he feels about our young pups down in Chile....

Anyhoo, the big news on in the US camp? Solo is out, Briana is in. Coach Greg Ryan is rolling some serious dice, pulling Hope out of goal and putting in Scurry, who is, granted, a vet... but it's been a while since she's played in a meaningful game.

Just so's ya know -- no pressure.

The Times will blog the event, if you're stuck at work.

I'm a little overwhelmed by how much energy and time and pixels Times.com is devoting to the WWC. It would be cool if I believed they were committed for the long haul, but I have a feeling it's just a short sprint. Wonder how much of it's driven by the writers themselves... Whoever is responsible, way to go. sports@nytimes.com is their contact info.

Now get someone who has NBAtv to blog the Senior National team -- give the .com a run for its money.
Adam is doing some live blogging from the US/CUBA game.

You can hit the FIBA site for live stats. I just LOVE the fact that they include player's middle names.... Tina Marie Thompson indeed.
Hola! (where's the upsidedown exlamation point when you need it?) from Chile continues:

A Q&A with Seimone "eeeuuw her shoulder popped out and then in" Augustus, another one with Mama Leslie (who's authored a book: "Don't Let the Lipstick Fool You." True dat!) and Oscar "Yes I cover women's basketball, don't you?" Dixon writes about the urgency surrounding the team's appearance in the Americas tournament.

USA Basketball checks in with some of the players, and while Cappie's busy bloggin' in the lobby, there's some playin', too. Couple of friendlies: One against the Chilean team (not so tough) and the second against Brazil (83-74).

Oh, and the US starts the tournament today against Cuba. It's being brodacast live 4-6pm on NBAtv. USA Bball posts has the full tourney schedule.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cappie says Hola! from Chile via her blog:
We got some good news and some bad news yesterday, though. I'll give you the good news first: Seimone Augustus is back. After leaving with a bruised shoulder in the last exhibition game against Australia, there were concerns over whether or not she'd be ready to play down here. But she looked good in our scrimmage yesterday, so it seems like she's ready to go.
Geno finally speaks: "I think [Pat Summitt] should just come out and say she's not playing us [any more] because she hates my guts. And I think people would buy that."

New Haven Register writer Jim Fuller wishes both coaches would "put their personal differences aside" and continue the series. Wasn't that what Geno wanted too?
We know Team USA both wants, and all but expects, to win this week's tournament in order to qualify for Beijing. But what about Canada?

Just one player on Team Canada has Olympic experience: that would be Teresa Gabriele, who was in Sydney in 2000. And just one player comes from the WNBA: that's Kim Smith, the Utah star lately seen on the end of the Monarchs' bench.

"I was hoping Tammy [Sutton-Brown] would play," said Canadian coach Alison McNeill, "but she called me and said she was pretty much fried. Her WNBA team had just finished so she's pretty much emotionally and physically drained." (What, no Thorburn?)

Despite her teams' inexperience, McNeill is stoked. "Of all my years coaching the national team, this is my favourite team," she tells reporters. "Our work ethic is phenomenal."

Monday, September 24, 2007

Just like any good soap, Seattle-on-the-Move? looks like it heading for the classic court room drama stage.

Seems that after the "Preposterous!" coat flinging, the "Heck, yes we want to stay " (but let's ask the judge if we can leave) and the "Hell, no we won't let you go" chapters, we're now in the "Please person in the long black robe, make'em stay!" stage.
Seattle city officials filed a lawsuit Monday to keep the SuperSonics from leaving town. The lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court was a counter move to a Sonics' attempt to be released from their lease on KeyArena.
NBAtv viewers rejoice!

Looks like they'll be broadcasting the US games during the FIBA Americas tourney. (Thanks to all those at Rebkell who patiently followed the story). First game is Wednesday, 1:30pm. Not sure which time zone they're going by.

Tough luck for those who can't get NBAtv... we'll just have to hold out for webcasting....
Ex-Ole Miss star Ashley Awkward chooses to play in New Zealand.

After this year's tournament, "I was receiving offers to go to Turkey and Iceland and different parts of the world," she says. "I didn't know where New Zealand was but heard it was a beautiful country."

Awkward's team, the Christchurch Sirens, appear to be a new addition to the Australia-based WNBL.
Brittany Hunter will return to UConn this year, but doesn't expect to turn pro.

"Since my sophomore year I have been preparing to be a professional sports agent," she tells the Courant. "I've begun to focus in on representing football players. That's what I want to do."

Sunday, September 23, 2007

US/England replay on ESPN2 at 1pmEST.

And I said "no," I won't tell you how it ends.
The Daily News' Filip Bondy speaks with Chamique Holdsclaw:
Chamique Holdsclaw says she's happy now, and that we can all exhale for her while she inhales the roses.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Charlotte Lewis, 52, died last Monday.

Her high school in Peoria had no girls basketball team, so in 1973 when she arrived at Illinois State Lewis had never played organized ball. "There were no park programs. There were no programs at Carver Center. She didn’t have the opportunity unless she played pick up games with the guys in the neighborhood" said her former ISU coach Jill Hutchison.

At ISU she flourished, helping her team to 63 victories and 4 AIAW state championships over the next 4 years.. “She was the best female athlete during our time that I had seen,” said Cyndi Slayton Jackson, a friend and former ISU teammate of Lewis. “We would scrimmage against the men, and they couldn’t penetrate the lane against her. She also could dunk the ball, and at the time that was rare."

Lewis still holds the ISU basketball records for rebounds in a single game, season, and highest rebounding average. A Kodak All-American and Wade Trophy finalist, Lewis she was a teammate of Ann Meyers, Lucy Harris, Nancy Lieberman and Pat Head (Summit) when the US reclaimed gold in the 1975 Pan Am games.

She and her teammates were also part of the 1976 Olympics, the first to include women's basketball. The US team won a silver medal (surprising many). After college, she played professional basketball for 15 years in Italy, Brazil and the US.

You can see a news clip about Lewis and an interview with Lewis from 2002 on WGLT on the occasion of the retirement of her ISU jersey.
This might be considered somewhat off-topic but does seem to resonate with women's basketball.

You may have been following the story of Anucha Browne Saunders. A native of Brooklyn, she played great basketball at Northwestern. After school, her business career took her to Eastman Kodak and IBM. In 2000, she was recruited to work as the Knicks' vice-president for marketing by Madison Square Garden president Steve Mills. In 2002, she was promoted to senior VP.

Last year, Browne Saunders was fired by James Dolan, MSG's chairman. She claims it was in retaliation for her complaints about Knicks president Isiah Thomas' behavior. She filed a $10 million suit in federal court Thomas and MSG accusing Thomas of sexual harassment. To the surprise of some, the case has made it to court, and featured plenty of unflattering testimony from Stephon Marbury, Dolan, Mills and Thomas (not to mention some possible Rangers-related dirt).

All argued against Browne Sanders' accusations, except for Jeff Nix. Over the last 15 years, Nix had worked himself up the Knicks power-ladder from advance scout to assistant general manager.

Adrian Wojnarowski (who really caught my eye with his beautiful work covering Maggie Dixon's death) reflects on what the trial -- whatever the outcome -- reveals about those who rule the Garden. It's an uncomfortable read, especially if you consider that this is the management responsible for the New York Liberty. Writes Wojnarowski:
As little respect as most league owners and executives have for Dolan, Thomas and the Garden, it will be fascinating to see how many admire Nix for doing the difficult thing, for sacrificing a career on principle, and how many still subscribe to the locker room code that says siding with a female marketing V.P. over the top basketball executive and coach is a move of weakness, even treachery. No matter how disdainful the alleged behavior with Thomas, in some corners, there's still the belief that Nix should've protected one of his own – a basketball guy.

Do you think that Thomas ever had to truly deal with a tough, determined woman in his professional life? Listen, she didn't get along with everyone at the Garden. That's a fact. She wanted players to be made available for marketing endeavors, and coaches wanted them to concentrate on winning games. That's the push and pull of every front office. Still, no one ever did bully Browne Sanders, a former All-American player at Northwestern. Just remember something: By and large, there are two areas with which women are generally most familiar to pro players: gyrating half-naked on the court during timeouts, and standing by the bank of elevators in the hotel lobby.
Where are they now? Browne Sanders is overseeing non-revenue sports at the University of Buffalo and Nix, fired by the Knicks in August, is looking for a new job.
Lamar over at the Sporting News talks to Essence and Matee about Cappie.
Voepel on what to expect from the W over the winter: "So much revolves around the [new collective bargaining agreement] that it's hard to even speculate on much else."
Storm/Sonics lead weasel owner Clay Bennett says he won't move the Storm in 2008. Storm fans react.

If she sticks by her earlier comments, Lauren Jackson will probably want to return to Seattle-- though she (and Penny, and Tully, and Snelly) may catch heat from the Aussie Olympic team.

Penny will have spent the winter in Russia, making, apparently, something like $300K. "It's incredible-- and it's not going to be around forever," she says.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Merc fans write in to AZCentral.com and celebrate the team and their championship:
I have been a Suns season ticket holder for nine years. I gave no thought to attending a Mercury/WNBA game. It just took one game to wash away my ignorance. As a very proud season ticket holder for the Mercury for the last two seasons, not only do I want to give this team of athletes their props, I want to send a message to all the men out there who, like me, may have wrongly judged before ever seeing the evidence. I encourage you all to see the evidence, go to a game next year, see these ladies' outstanding skills and then come and enjoy the ride in 2008. Way to go Mercury.

Up in Montreal, Mohamed Mehdi takes the Toronto Star and its readers to task for complaining about a slow summer and no Euro tourney coverage:
Are you all too manly to watch some great talent, skill and basketball on display much closer to home and with TV coverage available just because it is women who are playing? If you miss the NBA so much, check out their sisters! You won't be disappointed. It's a lot more fun to watch Detroit and Phoenix play than to speculate about the health of knees, backs, heels, minds and pocketbooks of players who are on vacation!
Doug Smith admits he's been a slacker and ponders doing better next year, noting:
I actually watched a fair amount of the WNBA final, I think the contrast between Paul Westhead and Bill Laimbeer is hilarious.

I will also watch Diana Taurasi play basketball any time.
A little NCAA tourney news: the Division I Women's Basketball Committee announced women's tournament will have 16 sites instead of eight for its first two rounds starting in 2009.

The tournament last used the 16-site format in 2004, when it set an attendance record.
Via Cam: Penny T thanks ex-Merc GM Seth Sulka, who built most of the championship team's roster before leaving in 2006.

The Diana-- always a great interview-- discusses reports that Westhead will leave. "Hey, you know, [Mercury/ Suns owner Robert] Sarver has a lot of money," says Taurasi. "But I don't know if he wants to make him the highest-paid WNBA coach in the history of the world. We'd love to have coach [Westhead stay]. But if... he does go, and we sent him out on top, I think it means a lot to him and us."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Over at the Women's Media Center, Melissa comments on the "Invisible World Cup" and explores the issues surrounding media coverage and women's sports:
The media presence of women athletes is stuck in a vicious cycle. Team sports won't be able to grow in legitimacy without coverage; but won't get coverage without legitimacy, which is based on the male sport paradigm. So women's sports fans need to keep being vocal and pushing hard because complacency will lead to further backsliding. One piece of good news is that the rest of the world, which is even further behind the United States in coverage of women's sports, is starting to wake up a little more. According to the BBC, this year's Women's World Cup is being broadcast to more than 200 countries, up 25% from four years ago.
Team USA got past Australia in yesterday's friendly match at Mohegan Sun. The Americans ruled the boards, and Parker ruled everybody (she finished with 23).

But the game also included 14 lead changes, against an Aussie squad without its Olympic stars; that made the match much closer than Sunday's blowout, and as Team USA heads down to Chile, they'll have some tinkering to do. "There is no Beijing [Olympics] if we don't win in Chile," coach Donovan explained: after losing the '06 World Championships, the Americans must qualify some other way.

Team USA may also have lost Augustus, who hurt her shoulder coming off a screen: "It popped out and popped back in," she said. "I'm going to have an MRI."

After the game, the Horde (a.k.a. Nutmeg State women's hoops reporters) trawled for other hoops news. Swin Cash says she might look good with the Sun, while Parker comments on the end of the UConn series: "That game was the one that everyone on our team looked forward to last year... That was the game that got the most attention. But I have to stand by my coach."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Merc throw a party.

Original Merc player (now coach) Bridget Pettis: "I feel that I'm asleep right now, and I'm having the best dream of my life."
Swin Cash really will leave Detroit: she's selling her house, and talking about it too. (Thanks for the tip, sixthw.)

"It hurts a lot," Cash says, "especially because of how invested in the city that I was....When a coach loses their respect for you, and treats you the way he did me ... it's tough."

Things were once so different between them.

Some Detroit bloggers also think Bellowing Bill's shtick has stopped working: "These girls have all grown up now and have started to tune out Laimbeer’s tantrums and theatrics. It’s time for Laimbeer to prove he is what he keeps saying he is; an excellent basketball coach who deserves an NBA gig." Ouch.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

If you're jonesing for a women's team sport fix, ESPN is rebroadcasting the US/Nigeria soccer game at 11pmEST. And no, I WON'T tell you how it ends.
Keegan introduces the new-look Australian team.
And speaking of Full Court, Clay is looking for new writers to cover women's basketball around the country (and around the world). If you're interested, email him at clayk@fullcourt.com.

Monday, September 17, 2007

"We are the (flash) Champions!"

Also -- Merc-heads? The team arrived today (check out the photos). Rally tomorrow at US Airways Center, 12:30. Tell work you have a cold, suddenly developed an allergy to cactus, have a serious plumbing problem, what ever it takes. Just be there.

And parents? Just say "Yes, you can go," to your kids.
The US took home the Solheim Cup.

For fans of the Americans, the first two days were frustrating. Over and over again, it seemed like we were poised to win points, only to have matches slip away on the final three holes.

That frustration reached a boiling point (of sorts) late Saturday afternoon when TV commentator and former player Dottie Pepper, thinking she was off the air, referred to the team as "chokin' freakin' dogs." The hyperbolic remark was both funny and partly deserved, but the team didn't take it well. "It was hurtful, very, very hurtful to all of us on the team," said assistant captain Beth Daniel.

Regardless, the team went out and kicked some euroass on Sunday, winning singles play 8-3-1. (Why is it that in team competition, both men's and women's, the U.S. does so much better in singles matches?)

The spotty media coverage of the event was matched by spotty play. Still, it's always a great event. Next chance for the Euros to rebound: 2009 in Chicago.
USA vs. Australia was the undercard yesterday. About 2,000 enthusiastic fans showed up to watch the young Americans whump the unitarded-ones. Neither team was at "senior" strength, but the 96-54 victory was full of encouraging signs: good chemistry, tough defense, very tall people in the post. We'll talk about the point guard situation later...

Lots of different sources on the game: Some rebkellians reported, Kathleen stepped in for a delayed Mel over at Women's Hoops Guru, Karen Bailis upheld her end of "media who support women's basketball" contingent over at the Monday Morning Quarterbacks blog and focused on the young pups. (You may want to check out her piece on Sue Bird, too).

Oscar decided he'd rather be in Trenton than Detroit, and produced his always fine work for USA Today, while Philly.com's John Smallwood talks about scheduling challenges and the game itself.

After the game, several folk gathered at Hamilton's First & 10. The sports bar staff was kind enough to save us a table and television so we could watch Game 5 midst a sea of football jersey-clad patrons. If you've ever been in a multi-TV, multi-game environment, you know that you get whiplash trying to figure out which TV just had the play that made everyone hoot and holler.

Well, the quality of Game 5 helped us to confuse the heck outta some locals, but they were pretty cool about it. What was even coolier was that every time we "fooled'em," they turned around to see a great play in the WNBA. No razzing (well maybe some from the guy who decided he'd cheer for Detroit since we seemed pretty pro-Phoenix), but there were a few "oooohs" of recognition when we pointed out Rutgers grad Cappie and one guy did toss out a somewhat tentative "RU!" Hope he survived my pointing to him and saying for all the room to hear, "Now THAT's a smart man."

Thanks to ex-Liberty PR person Maureen Coyle for joining us (and her generosity), and it was a true pleasure to sit with Oscar and Mrs. Oscar's wife. ("Hey, hon, I have an idea. Let's drive up from D.C. to Trenton for the weekend and watch the US National team and then hit up a local sports bar to watch the first half of Game 5!" Oscar -- you're such a romantic. And a lucky man.) And a shout out to Lamar the writer/photographer from the Targum -- with young reporters like you, I just KNOW that women's basketball will get the respect it deserves.

Now back to the question about point guards, ball-handling and three-point shooting on the National Team... let's talk after Wednesday's game up in Connecticut, shall we?
In retrospect, Detroit lost the series in Game 4. Cheryl Ford, possibly the Shock's most important player, never recovered from the injury sustained therein. She barely played yesterday. The rest of the Shock never recovered emotionally.

"Everybody knows we should have won Game 4 in Phoenix," Deanna Nolan said. "Unfortunately, we couldn't pull it out."

With Ford out, Detroit needed players like Cash, Pierson, and Braxton to play great. They didn't. Cash, a former All-WNBA player and the face of the franchise, averaged just 8 points and 3 rebounds in the Finals. After the game, she talked of moving on.
It's not a secret that there was tension between Bill and me. If you watched throughout the season and saw how I was played, you could tell. Bill seemed to be harder on me than the other players. I don't know why. I've just tried to maintain a professional attitude no matter what. That's how I would like to be remembered.
(But will Laimbeer be back next year? Asked after the game, he gave an ambiguous response. "This is ok," he said.)

For its part, Phoenix was phenomenal. They took a lead in the game's first minute and never gave it up. They shot a blistering 73% in the first quarter and cruised for the final 30. In the second half, the lead was never less than nine.

Led by Penny's 30, the Big Three combined for 73 points. Cappie took the MVP honors.

"It's been a long time coming," she said. "It's something I've been waiting for."

The title game was probably Paul Westhead's last in the W. "I've used the line from the song Drift Away," he said, describing his postgame speech. "I sincerely mean it. I said it to them again: 'Thanks for the joy you've given me.' This has been fun."

His legacy? It might be that he helped to change the style of play throughout the league. At a minimum, he produced one of the most exciting championship teams and championship series in league history.

And he brought Mercury fans a title.
Storm and Sonics to stay? Former U.S. Senator Slade Gorton to help? It's all rumor (for now); stay tuned...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Clay defends Westhead (for letting Tan Smith keep shooting, I think) from a coach's point of view: "Phoenix and Detroit... got to where they are by doing what they do best, night in and night out.

"Sure, there are nights it doesn’t work, but the odds say that the best chance for success are in dancing the way you’ve always danced."
Tan Smith says she and Penny Taylor won't suck for game five: "I was rushing," the speedy post explains. "It's not going to happen again."

Ford didn't practice yesterday, but still wants to go today: "If I'm walking without a limp," she says, "I'm playing."

Listed as doubtful on Friday, Nolan says her knee still hurts, but she'll play: "It's just a little sore."
Did Voepel just pick Detroit, or does the headline just mean the Shock wll play at home?

"Yes, the teams have different styles," she writes, "but the interesting thing is that each of them has won a game playing the other team’s way."
Some Trenton, NJ bar is going to be very surprised this afternoon. A bunch of fans are negotiating attending the USA/Australian friendly over at the Sovereign Arena (1pm) and then finding a place to catch Game 5 of the Finals (4:30p, EST). Can you say, "No overtime, please?"

Ah, it's good to be a women's basketball fan. As good a time as any to reflect on an Anne Donovan quote about the WNBA:
Pity the person that's still looking at this league ten years ago when it started out. They just gave up on it back then? Where would we be in women's basketball if we had all done that back then? The game has grown, the talent has grown, the coaching has grown. And it's a game that needs to be promoted within our own ranks."

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Hirshfeld, at the official blog, says Nolan will probably play; also, Braxton wants to be in SI's swimsuit issue. (It's not clear how much she's joking.)
Injury report: we knew about Ford's knee, but what about Tweety's hyper-extended knee. I know that the Shock thrive on adversity, but this may be pushing it...
Violet? Dee? Meet Sarah. (thanks pilight)
Why should YOU be a WNBA sponsor: James Briggs from Michigan's Oakland Business Review has a piece about Michael Levey, owner of Air Master Heating & Air Conditioning, who's presenting sponsor for the Shock. He's became a huge fan, but he's loving the financial impact:
Levey also liked the business that began coming his way from new demographics - mainly, women and the gay and lesbian communities. So this year he pushed a few more chips toward the Shock, spending six figures to become the team's presenting sponsor. And at a time when Southeast Michigan's economy is limping, Levey's customer base is growing 10 percent to 15 percent a year, much of which he attributes to the Shock.
Taylor and Pierson speak about their dust-up in game three.

Plenette-- who got a flagrant one but won't face other discipline-- says she didn't hit Penny, and anyway Penny hit first.

Penny says she wasn't sure what hit her: "I was too busy trying to protect my face."

We report, you decide...

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Philly Inquirer takes a long look at Team USA.
Jacki Gemelos reinjures her knee. Bummer.
ESPN's Page Two touts Sunday's game five-- and hopes to see the Merc win.

Clay loved game four (so did we), and loved game three (us? not so much). And, just because he can't stop typing, he's already got a preview for next year's draft.

SI's Dave Zirin doesn't say much about the finals, but we like what he says. We also like the big picture of The Diana, even though it shows her playing Seattle.

A wire story has more on Pierson, who has been having a knock-down drag-out rather impressive series: apparently the Sky could have taken her in the expansion draft rather than Elaine Powell. Oops.

Oh, and players blog. Diana says something: "We have to get the Game 4 high out of our system... It now just means we have a chance to play for it all."

Katie says she's glad to get back to home court: "we just have to lock it in."
Another question for Tom over at the NYTimes -- I KNOW you don't really want to cover women's sports, but do you also have a "word-total" limit?

Jere's workin' his fingers to the bone somewhere here in Gotham, getting up bright and early (5am) to watch the Women's World Cup on ESPN (US defeated Sweden 2-0. Goal #2 was a STUNNER) and pour out 838 words on the US victory. He even included some very BIG words....

Meanwhile, the online AP report on the WNBA Finals Game Four is *drum roll* 273 words and, though filed at 11:30pm, it still a sidebar...
Game 4 was another thriller.

Like Game 3, Detroit led most of the way, but not by much. Like Game 3, Phoenix pulled close late in the game. Unlike Game 3, the Merc came up with the big baskets at the end to get the win.

Cappie was the hero. The last minute looked like a game of playground one-on-one between Pondexter and Nolan. Cappie scored to take a one point lead. Nolan took it back on the other end. And then with 20 seconds left, Cappie beat Deanna with a crossover left, drove, and scored.

“I’m a winner,” she said. “I love to win.”

Detroit called time and tried to set a play for Nolan, but it never materialized. The ball ended up in Pee Wee's hands, and she airballed the last shot.

Pondexter and Taurasi combined for 46 of the Merc's 77 points. Tangela Smith was terrible (again). Penny was too — did the Game 3 incident and Pierson's incredible play last night get in her head? Taylor described her own performance after the game: “The worst game of your life. As horrible a performance as you could imagine."

Thanks to Dee and Cappie, the Merc won anyway. The series heads back to the Motor City for the decisive Game 5 on Sunday. The Shock will likely be without Cheryl Ford, who aggravated her left knee injury in the fourth quarter. If anything, that will only amplify the importance of the Taylor-Pierson match-up.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Right bar action:

Women's Sports Blog, Off-Court, and SEC Women's Basketball links added. Notre Dame and Washington links fixed. WNBATalk.com (sadly) deleted.

Thanks for the suggestions and fixes.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Via psheehy, TrueHoop watched Game 3 and says that the W has become "way more entertaining than I remember it."

(Thank you, Paul Westhead.)
Dave King has given up his goal of bringing the W to Colorado, for now at least. He couldn't get the money together. Indeed, he couldn't get very close.

Still no word on whether the team known as the "Houston Comets" will continue to exist beyond 2007.
Kia Vaughn has dropped her dubious lawsuit.
First things first: Plenette Pierson needs to be suspended for Game 4. Running down the floor in the final seconds, she got tangled with Penny, and she turned around and took a shot at Penny's head. Call it a punch, call it an elbow, call it a slap — it doesn't matter. Nor does it matter that there had been lots of chippy play on both sides leading up to that point.

You take a shot at someone's head, you get suspended. It's that simple. I don't know whether the league will do it or not, but failure would be a sign of cowardice, not fairness.

On to the game...

Writing in the East Valley Tribune this morning, Scott Bordow extols the WNBA's virtues. After watching Game 3 last night, he marvels at the great quality of play that prevails in the league today.

That's not quite the reaction I had. Voepel's is closer: "it was entertaining, sometimes well-played and sometimes not, passion-filled and leaving you wondering what the next chapter is going to bring."

It was, above all, a strange game. It started off at an incredible pace, but slowed down (bogged down) over the final three quarters. For much of the game, it seemed like Detroit was dominating, and yet it could never push the lead beyond mid-single-digits. Some of that had to do with Tina, Bob, and Daryl, who seemed to want the Merc to win as much of the rest of us did, and thus called every possible foul against the Shock, handing the home squad an absurd free throw advantage.

Phoenix shot terribly, and got worse as the game went on. In the fourth, with endless opportunities to tie, the Merc missed 11 straight field goal attempts. The team shot 5 for 31 from outside. Tangela Smith took 6 of the ugliest three-point attempts ever witnessed in a basketball game.

That recurring disaster, however, had an ironic silver lining. Really bad shots, clanking hard at weird angles, lead to rebounding opportunities in unusual places. As a result, the Merc had a ton of O-boards fall into their laps, and ended overall with a 47-42 rebounding advantage.

The rebounding and free throws kept the score close — and kept the game riveting.

Down to the very last moments, Phoenix could have won the game if only it could have hit a shot or two. It couldn't. Detroit, especially Katie Smith, simply shot better, and shot better at the big times.

And so the Shock are one game away from a repeat. Even if you aren't happy with that result, you gotta love the drama.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Looking for more absurdly early morning women's sports action? The Solheim Cup, in Halmsted Sweden this year, kicks off on Friday.

The Golf Channel will carry it live, beginning at 2 AM Friday morning (!).

So on Thursday night, we can watch Game 4, then have a late dinner, then start golf, and switch over for the World Cup before sunrise. You bring the pillows, I'll bring the meth.
Team USA got off to a shaky start in World Cup action. We were expected to beat North Korea, but came out with a 2-2 tie. And as Graham Hays says, "the United States didn't so much settle for a point in the 2-2 draw as escape with one."

Jere diagnoses the problems: spotty goaltending, poor midfield play, and questionable coaching decisions.

Up next: Sweden, 5 AM Friday morning, on ESPN.
Detroit fans hope to see their backcourt-- awful in game two-- step up for tonight's game three. "We want to shoot," says Nolan. "But we kind of don't want to shoot because that's what [zone defenses like the Mercury's] want us to do."

Phoenix fans want to see lots of people in the stands. The Merc have opened the upper bowl of their arena, which would seat 18K if it sold out; Donna Orender notes that playoff TV ratings are up 15% from last year.

Coach Westhead wants to see just what he's been seeing from center Tan Smith. Tall, no banger, but an outside shooter, she is-- he says-- "the perfect center" for his fast-break style.

Ford's knee makes her status another game-time decision: so says coach Laimbeer.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Want to make your voice heard... well SEEN at the New York Times? Jere (avec accent) is blogging the Women's World Cup. Insider information suggests that he's typing from somewhere in Gotham, not China, but bully for him!

There's space to leave comments. Might I suggest you read and support the coverage?

We are fans, see us type!
Katie Feenstra's happy to play in her home state of Michigan; she also calls Bellowing Bill "not as bad as people think."
Cheryl Ford on Saturday's loss: "We all agreed that we got punk'd."

Ford won't be disciplined (fined or suspended) for leaving the bench during an argument in that game: apparently the W, unlike the NBA, doesn't automatically suspend players who do so.

Phoenix's daily paper gives props to Miller. "I bring energy," she say. Sure does. We'll see how much she brings-- and how Ford feels-- Tuesday night.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

So THAT's who that was snapping away in the upper gallery with the big ole camera and the impressive flash-thingy. Looks like someone was willing to shell out the big bucks over at USABasketball: Check out some FINE Getty Images here (thanks Stever).

You can check out a Q&A with Ms. Milton-Jones, too.

Love the content -- still find the new site ugly and crank-i-fying. There's just NO pleasing me these days!
"Shhhh," writes Ann Killon of the Mercury News.
"I'm going to let you in on a secret. One that, apparently, you're not supposed to know. The Women's World Cup is starting in China. On Monday. Yeah, that's right. This Monday.

"It's heartbreaking," said Marlene Bjornsrud, the former general manager of the San Jose CyberRays, a professional team born of the 1999 effort. "In soccer, the World Cup is the most important event. And these players have been preparing for years. But my fear is that it becomes the invisible World Cup."
So, consider this your VISIBILITY ALERT!!! (unless you're a night owl or early riser). The US Women's Soccer team is over in China to battle for the FIFA World Cup. ESPN and ESPN2 are carrying all their games -- though they're MIGHTY early: Monday's game (featuring the defending champs, Germany) is at 8amEST. The first US game is Tuesday at (gulp) 5amEST. (edited for clarity)

There are a lot of reasons to love this team - Kristine Lilly is one (yes, she is STILL playing). Abby Wambach is another (think Akers playing forward).
The Merc are Comin' Home.
Little Rock residents can rally with Holly and Nikki today at Love Homes (262441 I-30 Bryant, AR) from 4:00-6:00.

They leave Little Rock bright and early on Monday, and arrive in Memphis in time for a 3:00-5:00 rally at Bumpus Harley Davidson (2160 Whitten Rd).
The AP was there to talk to Pat and Kay at the National team practice.
“It was fantastic. They are both mentors of mine,” she said. “I enjoyed being a player under both of them with their completely different styles. My coaching philosophy is modeled as a player under all the coaches I played for. It's great having them here and I hope to get some feedback from them.”
The .com talked to Mama Leslie -- who looked fierce and focused watching practice and hopes to be with the team for their college tour.
"I am just looking forward to coming back and playing with them," the two-time WNBA champion and founding WNBA star said. "And also helping them to understand that coming back I may not be playing, and being the leading scorer but my job to come back early is to help them to be better."
Game two and game one were night and day. This time, Phoenix did everything right-- scrambled for rebounds, prevented penetration, maintained their own fast pace-- and Detroit crumbled. The game was over before the fourth quarter began.

The Merc also made some three-pointers. Sixteen of them, in fact, on 44 tries. The magnificently instinctive Diana Taurasi alone connected on 7 of 14. Paul notes the superlatives reached or surpassed in the win.

It wasn't just the Diana this time: it was also Cappie, and Tan Smith (18 and 10), and especially Kelly Miller, who didn't score much but made everyone else's points possible. "She does all of those little intangibles over and over and over again," says coach Westhead, "at about 100 mph."

The Shock just couldn't get going. Ford started, but couldn't continue-- she needed an icepack on the bench: Braxton and Feenstra couldn't get much done. "We had players put their heads down and stop playing," said coach Laimbeer. Worse yet, they stopped playing in front of a 16K crowd.

It's Phoenix who have to avoid overconfidence now-- and they'll have good reason: the Shock lost games one and three almost as badly last year.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Karen Bailis of Newsday was at the National Team practice Friday night, and blogged about it.

She was also there on Saturday morning. As she tried to maintain her professionalism in the midst of some of the icons of women's basketball -- Kay Yow, Pat Summitt and T. Edwards dropped in for a visit -- she reflected back on the start of her love affair with basketball and wondered where the hell the rest of the media was.

Nice to know I'm not the only one.
The new "It's a skills-thing" Nike ad: Over at SI.com, Aditi thinks "it's absolutely brilliant."
Judge us on what we can do, the women say, not what we can do compared to men.
Female athletes are amazing and dynamic and enthralling all on their own. And there are more of them than ever before -- in 1971, one in 27 high school girls played on a sports team. Today, that number is one in two. Those girls aren't trying to be boys and they won't fail if they're not as strong as boys. They have their own plane to compete on, one that's not derivative and one that's definitely not lesser.
But Marie Hardin, over at her Sports, Media and Society blog is not so impressed.
Nike has just launched a new campaign aimed at selling women empowerment through athletic apparel. As the NYT points out, the campaign, designed after Nike interviewed 175 female athletes across the country, uses prominent athletes discussing their views on sexism and sports. Although provocative at the surface level, this campaign still ultimately relies on tired themes (witness the ad featuring Serena Williams, for instance) that won't move women's sports forward -- but it may sell more $9 Nike rubber bracelets.
While I'm not particularly inspired by the ad -- the "own plane" discussion has been articulated by the Women's Sports Foundation for years -- I did note with some irony Aditi commenting on the second-class citizenship offered women's sports:
In every aspect -- the selling, the pitching, the marketing -- women's sports have forever been girls playing a lesser version of men's games.
Um, Aditi -- what about media coverage? You're writing for a website that lists WNBA at the bottom of the NBA tag... and guess what happens when you click on the WNBA tab? All you get a list of game stories from Sports Network.

You take a (totally justified) swipe at ESPN (the women's basketball network!) for pre-empting the first 2 hours of the eventual triple-overtime game Fever-Sun game because of the Little League World Series, but you let Sports Illustrated off the hook?

Of course, as noted over at the WSF, neither ESPN nor SI are shining examples of egalitarian coverage. "A 2002 study found that Sports Illustrated," writes the WSF, "the world’s largest general-interest sport magazine, provided only 10% of its coverage to female athletes."
As female athletes continue to struggle to gain the notoriety and respect of today’s male athletes, researchers from Indiana University-Bloomington set out to study ESPN The Magazine, one of Sports Illustrated’s biggest competitors, to see if it, too, provided inadequate coverage of women’s sports.

Andrea N. Eagleman and Paul M. Pedersen found that the magazine provides only 3% of its written coverage and 5% of photographic coverage to female athletes. ESPN The Magazine provides significantly less coverage of female athletes than Sports Illustrated, therefore perpetuating the cycle of denying female athletes the same promotional benefits of their male counterparts.
You can check out an abstract of the recent study of ESPN The Magazine here (pdf alert).
Summitt speaks! ...a little bit. While she doesn't offer a reason, Summitt isn't looking to start up the UConn series again soon.
Excuse me, Catch? Phone - someone named Oprah wants to talk to you?
Dan's the Man.
Sun center de Souza won't play for Team Brazil.
In case you missed the latest installment in the Seattle Storm Stay/Move Soap Opera:

When last we encountered new owner Clay Bennett, in the world of threat-fact-rumor he had all but moved the teams to Oklahoma City. In fact, co-owner Aubrey McClendon said, "We didn't buy the team to keep it in Seattle." And promptly got fined $250,000 by the NBA.

Important back story: Bennett is an Oklahoma City businessman. The Sonics' ownership group has set a deadline of Oct. 31 to secure an agreement for a new arena in the Seattle area. If a deal is not in place by then, Bennett has said he will begin the process of relocating the Sonics to Oklahoma City.

Then the door was flung open, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett stormed in, flung his coat on a nearby chair and shouted "preposterous!"

Well, perhaps there was no shouting. Or door. Or flinging. But he did say the suggestion that city officials had spoken with the Seattle SuperSonics' ownership group about a possible move was "preposterous."

When last seen Mr. Bennett, looking absolutely FAbulous, was touring Emerald Downs racetrack. While it was unclear if he was having champagne dreams and caviar wishes, it would appear his visit was about more than playing the tri-fecta. (Dramatic close-up. Cut to commercial)

Seems, a while back, the track's owners, the Muckleshoot Indian tribe, had hired consultants to study whether an arena next to the track might work out. Last February, some Sonic-Storm fans had criticized Bennett for not following up on the idea. Now he's ba-aack. Perhaps people have been talking with the Mohegan Sun?

Meanwhile, back in his elegant corporate offices, Bennett has backed away from filing with the NBA for permission to relocate the teams if the October deadline isn't met. Why? He doesn't want to cloud the opening of the Sonics season.

What a thoughtful guy. No wonder he's every basketball-soap fan's favorite.
If you haven't had a chance to check out the photos of Holly and Nikki's Cruisin' for a Cause, I recommend you indulge. To see a bunch of leather-clad, Harley ridin' men signing checks to support breast health awareness just... well, just proves what I discovered in Seattle: those guys are just big ole softies.

"Save the ta-tas" indeed.

There's a rally today in Garland, Texas at the Harley Store. It's schedules from 2:00-4:00 (Texas time) -- assuming the crew got up early enough and didn't encounter more of the winds that threatened to blow'em of the road.
The National team practiced at John Jay College in NYC, and there were some new faces on the court.

Most satisfying moment of the evening: The comment one of the male practice players (John Jay varsity) after running a series of offensive sets against the National Team's help defense. As he leaned back against the bleachers, soaked with sweat, he looked over and said with respect, "A whole new perspective on women's basketball."

Second most satisfying moment: After everyone was gone and the gym was closing up, talking women's basketball with Kevin (the gym manager) and a friend of his: "The Liberty, that's my team." "Where's the one with the lipstick -- MAN she can PLAY." "That girl with the hair on the Liberty, can she sky for rebounds or what!" "Oh, yeah, Taurasi she's playing for the Championship... and that Nolan? She's got a Jordan-game."

Third? Shooting the women's basketball breeze with the security guards as we were leaving the building. "I was looking into their navels!" laughed one. Another was star-struck, having seen Lisa Leslie going down the escalator as she was going up. "I may have to pick up an extra shift tomorrow," she said.
Rookie of the Year: yes, it's Armintie Price.

Coach of the Year: still unknown. (Bet it's Westhead or Hughes.)

In Springfield, meanwhile, one former coach of the year, Comets (now LSU) head Van Chancellor, will enter the Naismith Hall of Fame.
Catch starts rehab in 6-8 weeks. "It ended up being a little more serious than they thought it was at first," Catchings said Friday.
Shock players and staff talk about how far they've come. Shock-Pistons-Palace CEO Tom Wilson: "in 2002 we were at death's door. To see it go from literally nothing or below nothing to where it is now, it's pretty remarkable."

Bellowing Bill chats with Freep beat writer Chris Silva. "We play any style of play," the coach says. "We can run all day long as long as we can go inside and attack the rim."

Diana calls her game one disembowelment "a healthy loss." She says her Merc are ready to run today.

Voepel says they have to be ready to rebound, too. Tan Smith, that means you: "They're not the first team we've matched up against that's bigger than us," the slender center says. "Basically, everybody's bigger than us."

Friday, September 07, 2007

Penny Taylor: "I feel... a bit beaten up, but that is to be expected."

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Gets better and better for coach Ann, Dawn and Mike: no Katie, no Lindsay.
While Oscar Dixon's piece on the National team MIGHT suggest to me that he reads a certain blog for inspiration... we all know that he's one of the good guys and has always produced quality coverage of women's basketball.

'Sides, he has some scoop, which we have scooped. (seems only fair)
To bolster the roster, USA Basketball will announce as early as Friday that Loree Moore (New York Liberty), Kara Lawson and Rebekkah Brunson (Sacramento Monarchs), Asjha Jones (Connecticut Sun) and Candice Wiggins (Stanford) will be added to the squad.
So, now that there are TWO New York players on said roster, what are the chances the Liberty will think to put together a road trip to Trenton to see the team play Australia? Or maybe up to Connecticut? Heck, even an open practice at the local college John Jay? Wouldn't this be an obvious plan of action? I mean, jeez -- Blaze in on the Senior Selection Committee...

Sigh. I just hate living in the land of missed opportunities.

As a college side note: Interesting that Candice is coming, Candace and Sylvia are questionable, and no mention is made of Courtney.

Pssst! Sherri! Call me!
The Shock won game one in just the way Shock fans expected: absolutely ridiculous dominance on the boards and in the paint, superior athleticism on defense, and a monstrous performance from Pierson (26 and 10).

Ford didn't play (her knee hurt) but could return Saturday; in her absence, Kara Braxton played her best game ever. Taurasi had one of her worst: she scowled a lot, fouled a lot, and finally fouled out with most of the fourth still to play.

With D neutralized, Detroit had the Mercury's number, sprinting back, setting up (sometimes, surprisingly, in a zone), and making Phoenix play a dispiriting half-court game. "I hate to say it because we gave up [100 points] but that was a pretty good defensive effort on our part," concluded Bellowing Bill.

As you might expect, things got chippy; Cappie and Nolan got a double technical. The Shock shot more free throws than the Mercury, even before the last-minute parade to the line. If that keeps up the Mercury have no chance.

Voepel turns in what sounds (to me) like an unenthusiastic column about the Shock's "big-statement basketball." Fair enough. Here's another big statement: Phoenix has to rebound out of their zone, and Diana has to keep her brain in the game when Katie Smith guards her. Otherwise-- well, expect Detroit fans to bring brooms.