Women's Hoops Blog: October 2007

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Live audio: USA v. Maryland.
Before we hit the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' Poll, it's time for a Halloween flashback. Here's a little something to reacquaint you with last year's champions:

NAIA Division I: This team claimed the first of two 2007 basketball championships for the state of Tennessee. Answer?

NAIA Division II: The first D-II team to do so, they had a perfect end to a perfect season (38-0). Answer?

NCAA Division III: Only good enunciation and better hearing separates this first-time winner from Doug Bruno's team. Answer?

NCAA Division II: A finalist in the 1973 AIAW championship, this team won its first national championship and gives a state that's gotten used to trophies something to hoot about. Answer?

NCAA Division I: Seven was the magic number for this winner. Answer?

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

Bonus points (since they weren't blogged. We promise to do better next season):

NJCAA Division I: The fourth largest city in Ukraine or a championship team in Texas. Answer?

OK. Now to this year's preseason favorites:

NCAA Division III
: Familiar names at the top: Washington University (Mo.), DePauw (Ind.), Howard Payne (Tx), New York University, Bowdoin College (Me.).

NCAA Division II: University of North Dakota is no surprise at #1, but #2 Southern Connecticut raises a eyebrow or two, considering a new coach and the transfer of a couple of key players.

NCAA Division I: Orange (TN), Blue (UConn), Red (Rutgers) sit atop the poll.

NAIA Division I: Union University (TN) is #1, perennial power Vanguard is #2, and Lee (TN) is #3.

NAIA Division II: The College of Ozarks (Mo.), St. Francis (Ind.), followed by Hastings (Neb).

JC/CC Division I: Nothin' yet

JC/CC Division II: Zippo

JC/CC Division III: See above.

A word about JUCOs and polls -- it's got to be ridiculously hard to project the top teams. Since JUCO's are 2-year institutions, most teams have a huge turnover rate. For instance, as the legendary Lin Laursen of Central Arizona said:
“I brought back two players this year,” Laursen explained. “I have ten freshmen. We’re turning the team over 60-70% every year. Every year you’re rebuilding, reloading, re-, re- re-. But I guess that the fun and excitement of it. "
Sharon says this year's Big Ten should be unpredictable, fun to watch, and not very good. Keep your eye on Jolene.
Poll time! Few surprises in this season's first: Tennessee on top, then UConn, Rutgers, Maryland, LSU and the Sooners.
Our own Helen takes a long look at junior college hoops: Andy Landers, Joe Curl, and Bridget Pettis are among the ex-juco players and coaches she interviews.
Michigan State's Alyssa DeHaan: "I am in love with my height."
Jackie Batteast, now gainfully employed at Notre Dame.
Despite the news that the team won't move in '08, the Storm's starters sound anxious and annoyed. LJ will "probably" come back, but has to look at her Opals commitments too: "With the Olympics coming up," she tells Jayda Evans, "I have a few things to decide."

Also from the Seattle Times, a very useful Q&A about the future (or the lack of one) for both Seattle teams.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Scary news out of Texas, but you can breathe a sigh of relief: Houston coach Joe Curl suffered a mild heart attack Sunday. He's going in for bypass surgery next week.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Voepel admires the surging Aggies: not only are they in most folks' preseason top 25, but some people have picked them to win the Big XII.
Not so fast there, mister:
In a setback for Sonics owners, U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez ruled today that Seattle's lawsuit seeking to enforce the team's KeyArena lease should remain in federal court.

Team owners had sought to send the case to binding arbitration in an effort to leave KeyArena before the lease ends in September 2010.
You know the WHB has hit the big time when USA Basketball gets cranky that you haven't written about them. (Kidding! I'm KIDDING!!) So, here we go, rectifying that omission.

The USA Basketball Women's Select team competed in the FIBA World League Tournament in Ekaterinburg, Russia, Oct. 22-27. The tournament featured seven professional club teams from around the globe, including teams from Australia, China, Cuba, Hungary, Lithuania and Russia.

The team opened with a 93-49 win over the Canberra Capitals, then were defeated by TEO Vilnius, 79-76, behind Nykesha Sales' 21 points.

They moved into the semis, and defeated UMMC Ekaterinburg (a team featuring Bibi, Kristi Harrower and Suzy Batkovic) 97-79 and advanced to the FIBA World League Title game. (photos, additional quotes). DT led the way with 25 points, and Taj snagged a double-double.

The team fell to CSKA Moscow 75-65 in the Championship game. Janel McCarville did well (18pts, 9 rebs) but the rest of the team shot poorly (DT: 2/12, Taj 2-10). Lots of familiar players going up against'em: Becky Hammon, Nicole Powell, Ann "does the Lib still own your contract" Wauters, Maria Stepanova, Ilona Korstin, Amaya Valdemoro, an Edwidge Lawson-Wade. (additional quotes)

I'm guessing that the team will be a tad cranky as they move in to their college tour. And, depending which uniform you're, there's some good news and some bad news: Lisa Leslie is back.
"I have been looking forward to getting Lisa back in the program for a long time now," said USA National Team and Seattle Storm head coach Anne Donovan. "Knowing that she's going to be joining us for the college tour gives me a real sense of excitement in seeing more of our post game develop and take shape.
The USA roster is up to a nice round 29 players: Feenstra and Janel McCarville have been officially added. Also, look for Loree Moore. And speaking of the Liberty, a USABBall piece, "J-Mac Attack" spotlighted Janel McCarville's "Whoa, I get to play for the USA. I had to say no to the first offer, won't to number two... so how do I get out of my international contract" story.

Speaking of the college tour:

Oct. 31: Maryland
Nov. 2: UConn: Game will be streamed by CPTV. You can sign up for the game, month or season.
Nov 4: Tennessee
Nov. 6: Baylor: You can pay for audio/video. Not sure if they're broadcasting the game.
Nov. 8: Arizona State
Nov. 11: Texas A&M: Looks like you MIGHT get some kind of free coverage here.
Nov. 13: USC
Nov. 15: Stanford: Looks like you MIGHT get some kind of free coverage here.
In the free section of Full Court, Bert Larsimer has a helpful primer on 2007-08 Euroball (the sequel to this Euro-piece from September).

Among the highlights for WNBA-watchers: McCarville in Slovakia; Kraayeveld (taking, apparently, Ohlde's slot) in Belgium; Katie Douglas and Supernova in Spain; defending Europchamps Spartak, who may be able to start LJ, Bird and Taurasi together; and, apparently, the return of Holdsclaw.

We're going to keep following Euroball when we can, not just through Full Court's reports, the WNBA's digest, and the Euroleague's own site, but also through such Eurofan bloggers as Hoops Nena, who turns out not to be Spanish after all.
The Fever get rid of coach Winters. He confirms that it wasn't his decision: "I had one year left on the contract. It was an owner option,'' Winters said. "They chose not to renew it. So I'll move on and they'll move on."

Fever-watchers discuss. On the one hand, his four years gave the team their best record, and they did improve over his tenure; on the other, his teams liked to slow games down, clog up the court, shoot badly, and win from the free throw line. Will his successor make Feverball more fun to watch?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Via pilight... Lindsay Whalen wedding photos. Awwww.
Candace Parker will wed former Blue Devil and current Atlanta Hawks forward Shelden Williams. Will they make their home in L.A.? CP isn't saying: "If you get too caught up in the future, your mind gets to wandering."

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Swoopes speaks at length, on coming out, on her career, and on retirement: "I don’t want it to be, ‘Oh yeah it was time for her to retire.’… I want to leave the game leaving people with great memories... So you know, I’m saying one or two more years."

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

USA Today's Dick Patrick has an excellent profile of Rutgers senior Essence Carson.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

L.A. wins the lottery. Next in order: Chicago, Minnesota, Atlanta, Houston, and D.C.

So, if Parker comes out, she goes to L.A., Fowles to Chicago and... Humphrey to Minnesota? Wiggins to Georgia? Discuss.
It's draft lottery day in New York: the Lynx and the Sparks have nearly equal chances for Parker the first pick, hence pretty good chances for Fowles the second should they miss the first. (Remember, please, that Parker may not come out: she's got another year of school if she wants it.)

Anonymous scribes at the official site examine team needs.

The Atlanta Whatevers are guaranteed pick number four. Pilight, in his first official reaction to the advent of his home-state franchise, suggests a team name: the Atlanta Dream. It may not be the most aggressive of monikers, but it's a really good idea.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Mr. Ryan is gone.
New Wolverines and former Green Bay coach Kevin Borseth remembers the bizarre first years of his coaching career.

"Part of my job at Gogebic [Community College] was to work at the prison every night," Borseth recalls. "A lot of [the inmates] were good guys. Some were without homes and they'd break parole just so they could come back, work inside and get three meals a day. The prison didn't have gates or fences. They didn't need them since the actual thought of bears being out there kept them inside."
More on Seattle and relocation. Anyone want to buy two basketball teams? The tag says "Not for sale separately"-- at least not now.
Atlanta's paper of record profiles new W team owner Ron Terwilliger.

"I'm a big fan of Atlanta and the empowerment of women," he says-- he's also a fan of transit and affordable housing: "I believe in the capitalistic system... But I have a lot of liberal leanings when it comes to helping people less fortunate than me."

As for the new team, "I'm very organized... It's something I'm going to fit in and have fun with."

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Geno introduces this year's Huskies, who return all starters from last year's Elite Eight squad.

Charde Houston, whose work ethic once looked sketchy, says she's "excited to get on the court." Geno says of the whole team: "Sometimes you can just feel it."
Aggies coach Gary Blair wants a Final Four in Houston.
Clay has top-to-bottom evaluations and predictions for the Ohio Valley Conference, "just on the brink of full-fledged midmajor status," with Southeast Missouri picked to repeat.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Remember the three-point aces of Bowling Green State, who upset Vandy last March? The Falcons have lost most starters, but PG Kate Achter is back, and they're ready.

Coach Curt Miller: "We relish the role we're in right now, because we're not the team to beat."
Top recruit Elena Delle Donne, her college future secure at UConn, has been playing volleyball. "I love it," she says. As for Geno, he gave her permission: "He said, 'Go ahead. Have fun. You only get these opportunities once.'"

Friday, October 19, 2007

Clay says expansion makes economic sense right now, but warns that Atlanta will suck. And next year, it will. (The year after that, if they make the right trades, who knows?)

David Siegel is angry. He doesn't like expansion in a contract year (and an Olympic year), and he thinks that if expansion was coming, Dave King's Colorado franchise should have received the league's green light instead: after all, King has already run a successful team (the WNBL's Colorado Chill).

But King-- whom I hope runs a team sooner or later-- doesn't appear to be rich enough to sustain the likely near-term losses on his own: he needed to line up other investors, and so far he hasn't found enough.

It's not that the league is greedy; rather, it's that franchises should go only to people who can truly afford them. The worst thing you can do to a sports league is to bring in owners who have trouble making payroll. That's what killed the WBL.

It's all very well to talk about which teams will draw, what looks good in the stands, and how-- in the long term-- the WNBA can make money. But the WNBA, this year and over the next several years, is going to depend on people with very deep pockets who want to own and operate women's basketball teams because they care for the sport, not because they expect to turn a profit. Some of those people also own NBA teams (and any owners who can afford to run an NBA team can afford WNBA-level losses forever); some of them don't.

Michael Alter appears to be a good owner, not because Chicago draws well-- it doesn't-- but because he wants to be an owner, cares for the league and its players, and can afford it. Ditto for Sheila Johnson. Terwilliger appears to be much like Alter. If he's willing to stay in the league for the long term, makes wise front-office hires, and does what he can to promote the Atlanta Whatevers, then the league will have made the right choice this month, even if the Atlanta team begins with an empty arena and 800 fans.
More reactions to the Hotlanta expansion: Emory WCBB personnel admit that it's not quite a basketball town; Atlanta's gay weekly gives thanks for the team; and owner Terwilliger explains, contrary to some earlier reporting, that the expansion fee is $1M per year for ten years (not $10M at once)-- a fee he can clearly pay.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Donna O is "upbeat" about the CBA negotiations.

Is she ever anything but?

Also, Mechelle uses the arrival of the new Georgia-Atlanta franchise to discuss the evolution of WNBA ownership:
For the independent WNBA owner, there needs to be at least some belief in the value of women's athletics that goes beyond strictly monetary measurements. I'm not talking about something hokey here, or something that has been just a little too slickly packaged as an advertisement.

It's something real. Part of it is the idea that women's basketball on the pro and college levels still has a level of competitive purity and good citizenship that we've too often almost given up on in many other sports.
Let's get those conspiracy theories going -- the WNBA Draft Lottery for the top six picks with be held Tuesday, October 23.

That ought to inspire a who slew of "Will she or won't she" Parker stories, dontcha think?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

And since we're moving into the college schedule, tickets are now on sale for the Maggie Dixon Classic at Madison Square Garden. Scheduled for Saturday, December 8th at noon, the doubleheader will feature Pittsburgh against Duke and Army against Rutgers.
ESPN has released their college TV schedule. The ensemble of ESPN's channels will broadcast 150 games (up from 140 last year). The madness starts Nov. 11th.
Video of the new Atlanta franchise press conference is over at the .com. You can 1) buy season tickets 2) read a Q&A with new owner Ron and 3) sign up for the Atlanta *tobedecidedlater*'s newsletter.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

You know, SI.com confuses me. Thanks to Stever, I'm led to this piece by Tracy Schultz, "Season of Promise: Women feature intriguing storylines in 2007-'08."

My question is, how on earth was I supposed to find it? Even AFTER Stever linked me to it, I checked their women's hoops "page" (you know, go to the college basketball tab, scroll to the bottom where it says "women's hoops" and visit the stunningly designed page hosting a series of Sports Network links) and I don't see her piece.

Oh, says I, maybe if I look in her ARCHIVES? Et voila!

Truly, if you're finally going to allow someone to write about women's basketball, why do you then bury it?
Some background articles on new owner J. Ronald Terwilliger:

From BuilderOnline:
...he has worked closely with Habitat for Humanity International for the last decade and now serves as the vice chair of its board. He's also worked with the Urban Land Institute (ULI) for 25 years, serving in a variety of roles, including chairman. Over the years, he has donated about $150,000 to the ULI and has pledged $1 million to endow its J. Ronald Terwilliger Chair for Affordable Housing. He's also working on local affordability issues at home in Atlanta, where Mayor Shirley Franklin has tapped him to head a citywide affordable housing initiative.
From the Urban Land Institute,
J. Ronald Terwilliger, former chairman of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), has committed $5 million to the creation of the ULI Terwilliger Center for Workforce Housing, ULI announced today. The center will address one of the most critical issues facing urban areas across the country by supporting the development of housing affordable to moderate-income workers, including teachers, nurses, firefighters, government workers, and police officers. The gift from Terwilliger is the largest individual contribution ever made to the Institute.

And a little company bio.
The AJC confirms the rumors.

Says the proud new owner: "I look at it as a community investment that would be delightful if it turned out to be profitable. I don't expect to lose money, but I'm not in it for making money."
At SPM, Richard Cohen reports on Atlanta's efforts to close the "Sales Loophole" to the expansion draft.

This, like other details of the expansion draft, will be subject to the provisions of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The new Hotlanta franchise will be officially announced on Wednesday.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Some basketball genealogy uncovered because of a couple of emails received in response to the Bertha Nolan post:
I read your posting on the death of Bertha Nolan. I was surprised the connection to Dianne Nolan who coached Fairfield University's women's basketball team for over two decades was not mentioned.

Similarly, few people realize the mother of Kathy Delaney Smith, long-time Harvard coach, was a pioneer in the women's game in Massachusetts. I believe that lady (last name was Delaney) coached at Newton North High School, just outside Boston.
A little research finds the following tidbit from in Nolan's induction bio for the Connecticut Women's Basketball Hall of Fame:
It's no accident or surprise that Dianne Nolan pursued a career in basketball. The game has been an integral part of her life - she started playing the game in a 6th grade CYO League. She was surrounded by a family of basketball players. Dianne's brother played for Temple University and her Mom coached for 36 years, winning many championships. Dianne was a two-time All Conference player and senior Co-Captain for the Gloucester Catholic High School girls' basketball team. The team won conference championship every year she was there. Dianne continued her education at Glassboro State College where she played field hockey, tennis, and basketball all four years while earning a degree in Health and Physical Education
As for Delaney-Smith's basketball roots, a little noodling discovered Newton's Mayor David Cohen's 2003 press conference :
Coach Smith has coached the Harvard women's basketball team for 21 successful seasons; and prior to that, was the coach for the Westwood High School Women's Basketball team for 6 undefeated regular seasons and 1 state championship. Coach Smith holds the distinction of being the first Massachusetts high school girls basketball player to score 1,000 points, all while playing for her mother, the late Peg Delaney, at Sacred Heart School of Newton.
A second email noted:
I used to live in Westfield, N.J., and the high school there finished second in a national tourney around 1924 or so. You might want to contact Westfield High School for more info.
Here's when I bow down to Google, for yea it led me to Hoopedia: The Basketball Wiki. There I found the following information about the Girls National Interscholastic Basketball Tournament.
In 1924 Westfield High inaugurated a national championship for girls’ basketball, offering as the prize, the Westfield Challenge Cup. The Girls National Interscholastic lasted only four short years, but the tourney brought together schools from as far away from each other as Idaho and New York. In 1924, the championship was held at Harrison High, in Roselle Park, New Jersey, not far from Westfield High. Westfield, which claimed the New York state and Eastern championships contested the national championship in a three games series with Guthrie High of Oklahoma, who claimed-be best in the West. Guthrie bested Westfield in the series with two consecutive victories.
Thanks Bob and Vincent.

And anyone who wishes to donate to the "Pay Helen to Procrastinate" fund, just drop me a line.
Over at Ball State, coach Tracy Roller has been working hard to improve her team. Notes her Ball St. bio:
She has a 115-66 record at Ball State in her six seasons and has guided the Cardinals to three appearances in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT). This season the Cardinals received the automatic bid from the Mid-American Conference into the WNIT and hosted SEC foe Kentucky in the second round at Worthen Arena.

The Cardinals have also set a single season attendance record this season as they have welcomed over 20,000 fans to Worthen Arena for games this season. Ball State has seen two of the top three single game crowds in school history happen this season with a school record 4,711 fans in the regular season finale against Eastern Michigan and 3,581 fans for the second round WNIT contest against Kentucky.
This season, Coach Roller was willing to do whatever it took to promote her team and meet a 1000 season subscriber goal. So she dipped into her own pockets and came up with a fabulously wacky scheme:
Roller will spend each day at the intersection of McGalliard Road and Bethel Avenue high above Central Indiana Orthopedics. The seventh-year head coach will be stationed on a scissor lift, rain or shine, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day until Cardinal fans meet the goal of 1,000 season tickets sold.
In its early stages, the stunt was working -- sales had almost doubled from last year (407 to 756) even as ticket prices had gone up 160%. Goofy, but who's to argue with success?

Well, the Ball State Athletic Director, that's who. Seems AD Tom Collins sent deputy athletic director Ken Brown to tell Coach Roller that she was done. Why? Well, seems Mr. Collins was suddenly concerned about her safety, what with the weather and all. (Yah huh) And now that practice has started, seems he wanted her focused on her team. (Really? You think she's not?)

Oh, and in case those weren't convincing enough, he had a third reason. The boys were having a homecoming party. "I wanted to focus today, at two o'clock, on the football team."

I mean, it's not like he could have said, "Coach, our football team has a big game on Saturday, could you step down for a day?"
Jimmy Magahern writes about Merc GM Ann Meyers Drysdale, who makes an interesting comment:
Drysdale doubts that many Mercury players are even aware she played basketball.

"I think they all look at me as a sportscaster," she says, even though she sparred with the moms of some current WNBA stars and still, at 52, tries to get in a half-hour of hoops before heading into the office by 8 a.m. each day.
I'm guessing if anyone had seen her play with Anna's Bananas, the 1978 AAU championship team, no one would have forgotten her -- or her teammates. Her sister Patty (coach of the Bananas) remembered crowds packing the arena in Allentown, PA. Ann wondered if those fans might have had an ulterior motive -- namely the bright yellow uniforms they wore.
"When we ordered them, they were designed like a sports bra -- it scooped in on your shoulders," explained Meyers. "When they arrived, we had one medium top and bottom and the rest were small. Now, you're talking about we had some good-sized ladies on our team. Believe me, we complained. 'We can't wear these!'
We were trying to stretch theses things out hoping we weren't going to tear them. It was like, 'Oh, maaaaaaan.' But what were you going to do? We didn't have any money. We were on a budget. This is what we ordered, this is what they sent and this is what we had to fit in to.

And," she added with a grin, "we were the team from California. You don't think people came out to see us play?"

Friday, October 12, 2007

I'm a women's basketball history nut, and if anyone has a hunk of money to sponsor a couple of years of research, I've got a great idea for a book. Suffice it to say, the stories of women like Bertha "Bert" Nolan, who recently died at the age of 82, would be included.

Born in New Jersey in 1925, she was prominent athlete in her youth and became an All American and Olympic Alternate in Field Hockey. Nolan went on to become a high school teacher and coach at Gloucester Catholic High School in Gloucester City, NJ

As coach at Gloucester in the 60's, she helped girl's basketball move in to the "modern" era as the sport transitioned from 6-0n-6 to 5-on-5. Nolan's 1973 Gloucester Catholic team won the "first" state title in girls' basketball in New Jersey. Says the Courier-Post, "Her powerful Gloucester Catholic teams helped establish the sport's legitimacy."

As a self-proclaimed history nut, I have to point out that more than likely, it wasn't the "first state title." In 1925 over 35 states held school varsity basketball and/or state tournaments, so it's quite possible some school in New Jersey was being crowned champion.

Unfortunately, 1925 was also the year Lou Hoover (yes, Mrs. Herbert) and the Women’s Division of the National Amateur Athletic federation (WDNAAF) all but succeeded in wiping out competitive women's basketball. They passed a resolution outlawing extramural competition, opposing gate receipts at women’s games, all travel for women’s games, and all publicity of women’s sports.

The resolution gained strength and legitimacy when it earned the approval of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. High school sports associations came under intense pressure to disband tournaments and most did, especially in Eastern states and large city schools (NOT, though, most famously, in Iowa).

By the late 30's, just when Bertha Norton would have been entering high school, in most states competitive basketball at the elementary, high school and college level had all but disappeared. And yet... and yet, there she was, 30 years later, ushering in the new era of women's basketball.

The history of the game is full of stubborn women and men keeping the flame alive.
The league is in the final stages of approving an expansion team for Atlanta. The owner will be J. Ronald Terwilliger, a real estate maven and philanthropist. He is very very rich.

The team will play in Phillips Arena, where both the Hawks and Thrashers also play, but it will have no affiliation with the Hawks. Bill Bolen, a partner at an Atlanta marketing boutique and a fellow HBS grad, will run operations for now.

Atlanta will get the 4th pick in the 2008 draft. No Parker or Fowles, but a better deal than Chicago got.

Official announcement should come in the middle of next week.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Every year in early May the NCAA's Rules Committees meets to ponder changes and points of emphasis. The members of the women's rules committee have identified the following adjustments for this season:
Points of Emphasis: Displacement, traveling, unsportsmanlike behavior and legal guarding position.

The women’s committee also approved a recommendation to rewrite its rules that cover technical fouls, and the guideline about the legal guarding position under the basket will be deleted, making the legal guarding position the same for the entire court.
Those changes are then conveyed to all the Conference's Coordinator officials at a pre-season meeting. The Coordinators then communicates them to their officiating pool(s) (Some, for instance, might supervise Division I and II officials). A DVD is made and distributed to all the coaches illustrating the changes and PoE's. Someone on the coaching staff must watch it and sign off on the DVD.

Interestingly enough, the release about the men's rules said the following:
Referees who are consistent in enforcing the rules will be rewarded.
I interpret that as the NCAA strongly encouraging all their officials to visit eofficals.com, the NCAA's officiating site.

As most know, officials are independent contractors hired by the Coordinators (who are often independent contractors, too, answerable to the conference who hired them). As such, any professional development they do is on their own time and dime. Eofficials.com allows easy access to plays and interpretations, as well as a presenting a consistent and unified voice. It helps prevent the degradation of the "message" as it's passed through Coordinators to officials and encourages the elimination of "personal interpretation."

Since many conferences can't afford to pay for full-time game observers (used to assess officials) or refresher sessions for officials during the season, eofficials.com can be a referee's touchstone throughout the season as they move across Conferences and up and down Divisions.

Of course, the trick is getting them to use it. Many do -- but the idea that it's become a "Point of Emphasis" on the evaluation of officials for post-season gigs is a great carrot.

By the way, anyone can register to use the site. Go here.
USA Basketball has announced the members of the team that will play in the FIBA World League Tournament later this month in Russia.

New additions to the team include bloggers Taj McWilliams-Franklin and Janel McCarville, as well as Loree Moore and Katie Feenstra.
With the college basketball season starting tomorrow night, USA Today's Dick Patrick points to 12 compelling storylines.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Marion Jones has returned her Olympic medals, but the ripples of her actions have reached back to her Tar Heel years where she was an All-American track star and the point guard on Hatchell's 1994 National Championship.
"She's in our Hall of Honor, and she got there because of what she did in the Olympic games," Tar Heel track coach Dennis Craddock said. "I think it'll be something at some point in time I need to talk to our administration about. I want to talk to the athletic director and the assistant athletic director and see what kind of feelings we have about all this."
Mercury fans should be looking for their team on a Wheaties box.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Perhaps inspired by VJ, the last of the Lib originals still in the league, a "So Where Are They Now?" list of New York's '97 inaugural team has been put together.

Lots of them involved in coaching, and Cassandra Crumpton-Moore seems to the the only one without an updated listing. Anyone know what she's up to?
Price, Overton and Wyckoff discuss life in the Sky.

Wyckoff: "We're all here temporarily, so your support system and social network are your teammates. There's always like a mama on the team, who takes care of everybody... It's really a cool dynamic and I've seen it happen on every team I've played on."

Monday, October 08, 2007

14 teams? The latest word is that Atlanta is getting a team, and Houston is staying put.

No word on the results of the lottery pick negotiations.
The stars aligned, a wedding happened, and somehow 11 UConn alum gathered for the 2nd Annual Starz charity basketball event. The Courant got the final winner wrong (Bird's team beat Taurasi's), but it does have some video of the game. 18 high school students joined Diana, Sue, Willnett, Maria, Ann, Rita, Nykesha, Ashley V., Ashley B., Barb and Jessica to raise money for several the Diana Taurasi Foundation, The Ann Strother Basketball Court Project, The Rita Williams Basketball Academy and The Arthur C. Luf Children’s Burn Camp-- and have some fun:
As Willnett Crockett took to the free-throw line halfway through the second quarter of Sunday's Connecticut Basketball Starz charity game, former teammate and current Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi did what any good teammate would do - she pulled Crockett's shorts down.
And that's not all, notes Off-Court:
When the "Make the Half Court Shot to Win a Car" moment occurred at half time, there was Kesh and Dee closely followed by Sue Bird giving shooting advice. When the sponsors were looking the other way, Kesh calmly walked the woman closer to the basket where Rita Williams and Willnett Crockett were waiting to “help” by tipping the shot in. When the basket was missed, there was Dee stealing the car keys, slipping them to the shooter and cover her exit from the court.

No wonder Geno has to be tough. With all the silliness and fun these players obviously have with each other how did these women focus to win championships?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

News out of Chicago: It was Cappie Pondexter Day at John Marshall High School, the home of the winningest program in the state of Illinios, courtesy of legendary coach Dorothy Gaters.
Gaters started the Marshall High School girls’ program prior to the 1975-76 school year. Prior to that she had coached at the club, park district and AAU levels, but she was far from an expert. “When I first started, I was really intimidated,” Gaters said. “I knew there was so much I didn’t know about coaching. How could I give these girls what they needed when I had so much to learn?

“But the one thing I had was determination. I was determined that Marshall would have a girls’ team to be proud of so I learned on the job. That’s how I gained my confidence and my credentials. I may have had doubts about myself, but I never let the girls know it. From their perspective, I was in charge and I didn’t waver.”
And the Trib does a piece on the Chicago Sky and their Spirit of Cooperation.
Unlike their male brethren, Chicago Sky players and other WNBA teams live in the same apartment building during the season and are around for the most part when they need each other. This closeness works for them, as teammates, as friends and as a support system for whatever may come their way. "Women are just different than men," says Chasity Melvin, the Sky center, a nine-year veteran of the league and the acknowledged "mama" of the group. "We're more sensitive, we're more emotional. For us and for women in the professional corporate world, it can be hard. I don't want to say it's a gift and a curse, but we work with men--most owners and coaches are men--so we tend to stick together.

"That said, we're very competitive. . . . Now it's more of a business." They're professionals, and deal with the game differently than during their college years.
As promised: Earning Their Stripes: Officials in Training on the training and recruiting of officials.
“Right off the bat there’s a certain amount of commitment for very little money,” acknowledged Zaborniak. “If you think, ‘If I work five years and then get a gig in the Big East where I’m going to make $600-700 a game, that’s not a bad investment.’ But what about over 10 years? I don’t know that our coaches recognize the kind of commitment it takes for somebody to officiate when they also have a professional life and,” he laughed, “maybe even a family. All those things work against us as we try and develop people.”
Geno wants to set up a fall charity game. But can his busy alums find the time?

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Stacy Johnson-Klein mess at Fresno State is going to trial. According to her lawyer, the school has tried to settle for under a mil; Johnson-Klein thinks she deserves far more.

On recruiting, training, retaining, respecting, and generally not being rude to officials, you might also check out this classic from Helen-- who might have more on the subject soon.

Friday, October 05, 2007

A little college coach news: Pam Borton will be honored by her alma mater, Defiance College, Kim Mulkey is being inducted into the Baylor Hall of Fame, and Penn State's Coquese Washington spoke to the Williamsport Nittany Lions club.

Seems that, when invited to interview for the PSU job, she told AD Tim Curley to wait a bit.
“He said he wanted to fly me out and interview me first thing in the morning,” recalled Washington. “I said, you know, I’ve got to go shopping. I can’t come out first thing in the morning. I’ve got to get a new suit. This is cause for a shopping spree.”
The good news? Says the article, "Washington embraces the tolerance some of Portland’s former players said their coach lacked."
“I don’t think it should be an issue one way or the other,” Washington said of players’ sexuality. “It doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t affect your performance as an athlete. I’m curious in some respects as to why it’s ever an issue.”
Me, I'm trying to wrap my mind around the writer's description of Portland as "the female Bob Knight" and saying "Washington, who makes no secret of being all woman." Say what?

Co sure comes off a tad better than writer Quillen.
Clay says if you want better refs, you should probably quit badmouthing the ones we have: most of them do the best they can, and it's hard to imagine where to find more.
Via Pilight: British hoops heroine Andrea Congreaves, near the end of her career, wants Britons to take the sport seriously in time for the London Olympics in 2012.

Congreaves' team has just completed a perfect showing in one round of Eurobasket play. "Basketball in Britain does seem to go in waves of public attention," she says. "We need to make sure that we harness that now."
Dick Patrick reviews the last few years of Marion Jones history.

Harvey Araton, like every sentient being, doubts her latest "flaxseed oil" excuse.
Just like Bonds, she is claiming to have been unwittingly enhanced, but why would anyone give Jones, a college-educated woman, the benefit of the doubt when her legacy has been built on lies? At the end of the day, she didn’t train or run by the rules in the summer of 2000. Her medals should be meaningless to all but her enablers.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sad, but not surprising, news: today's Washington Post reports Marion Jones admits using steroids before the 2000 Olympics.
Jones is scheduled to appear in U.S. Southern District Court on Friday to plead guilty to charges in connection with her steroid use, a federal law enforcement source told The Associated Press. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, and would not provide specific details about the plea.
We knew Margo was pregnant; now we learn that she might not come back to the WNBA.

"When I talked to her after the season," says coach Thibault, "she was 50-50 about even wanting to play."

Sun-watchers say their team might bring in the young French post Sandine Gruda; as with every other personnel decision right now, we won't know much until after the CBA.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Thanks to the Luuuuc, we find that LJ did a Q&A. Key tidbit for Seattle fans (oh, how subtle a pun!):
Q: Hey LJ - Now that the Storm are remaining in Seattle for at least one year will you return in 2008?

A: Most likely, yes.
Even though I love basketball, I actually hate it. First of all there's all that running... and the rim and I... well, let's just say that I am skill-free when it comes to shooting a basketball.

Me, I like throwing at a movable target -- like a first baseman. Which is why I loved playing softball. Which is why I encourage people to check out the movement to reinstate softball in the Olympics.

In June, the International Softball Federation (ISF) launched its campaign to get softball reinstated for the 2016 Olympic Games by unveiling a new look and a 10 point blueprint. ISF President Don Porter launched the two-year initiative at a press conference during the VIII Junior Women’s World Championship (19-and-under, fast pitch).

“Two years may seem like a long time,” said Porter. “But in campaigning it’s just enough time to make some real improvements and then communicate them. This will be an action-orientated campaign.”

You can also check out the Back Softball website and their Ten Point Blueprint (pdf alert!). Back Softball is the official name of the campaign launched by the International Softball Federation to reinstate Softball on to the Olympic Programme for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2016.

The IOC will decide on the sports for the Games in 2016 at the 121st IOC Session in Copenhagen in 2009.

And by the way, if you want, you can send me money. I promise I won't buy beer with it. I'm more of a bourbon girl.
People sometimes ask why we don't charge subscription fees or at least have ads. The truth is that Jessie and Steve would spend all the revenues on beer anyway, so it just isn't worth it.

In lieu of payment, you might consider donating money somewhere. My suggestion: Foundation IX, an awesome start-up non-profit that's trying to give underprivileged girls a chance to play sports. Please check it out.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

One of the bestest people in the WNBA is getting a well deserved honor. Vickie Johnson, Liberty great and current SASS stalwart, is being inducted into the LaTech Hall of Fame. (thanks H4H for the good news).

From a 2001-02 Q&A, we find out she didn't want to be drafted by NY. Or Houston. Or L.A. And the deep, dark secret of how VJ ended up at LaTech with Coach Barmore.
Q: Did you choose Louisiana Tech because it was one of the best programs, or because it was in Louisiana?

VJ: (Laughs) I never told anyone this.... I was playing with my brothers outside one day, and my mom called me in the house and she said, "VJ, there're some girls on TV playing basketball." I think [La Tech] was playing against Cheryl Miller. And I said, "You know what? You see the team in the blue with the stars? That's the team I wanted to play for - with the stars." 'Cause I wanted to be a star. (Laughs) That's why I went to Louisiana Tech. The stars.
Ralph Sturges, the chief of the Mohegan tribe and a philanthropist, activist, and sculptor, died yesterday. Sturges greatest accomplishment during his chiefdom was to gain federal recognition for the tribe, paving the way for the Mohegan Sun resort casino (and, incidentally, my favorite pro basketball arena).

Earlier this year, Sturges explained his support of bringing the Sun basketball franchise to Uncasville:
"One of the reasons I was behind bringing the team here was not because we wanted to make money from the WNBA team," Sturges says. "It was to give us a chance to publicly advertise in all major magazines and newspapers. It gave us an in that we never had before."
When I was a kid, I went on a field trip to the Mohegan museum, which was essentially a few rooms in a house off of route 32 in Montville. We kids were impressed to meet the actual chief of the tribe, Chief Little Hatchet (Courtland Fowler), as well as the tribe's medicine woman (Gladys Tantaquidgeon--and yes, we had to learn how to spell that!) and to see the artifacts of the tribe's history. It's truly amazing to see how much the tribe has accomplished since then to restore their history and regain their importance in the fabric of life in Connecticut. Gaming, for all its negative impacts, has had a hugely positive effect for the tribe, as well as for the people they employ from the larger community, and Ralph Sturges is the man to thank for that.
Bob suggests that the team in Atlanta might be a relocation rather than an expansion team.

Houston, abbiamo un problema.
Everybody sing! "Call a lawyer and sue me, sue me, what can you do me I love you."

Sonic and Storm fans are looking to sue their team and the Sonics have filed a suit to stop the city's suit over the KeyArena lease.
The Tree says, "I'll be back."
Jody Conradt returns to MSU. She talks about the 1985 Final Four the Longhorns hosted. Heavy favorites, they were upset by the Hilltoppers.
"It was humiliating to come home and all these people had tickets," Conradt said. "But we went ahead and did a bang-up job hosting and had the coaches' convention and all of it. Coaches still tell me to this day that they thought it was the best Final Four ever. Up to that point, I don't think there had been much of a push to make it an 'event.'

"I think a lot of coaches went back from that and thought that they could make it happen for their place."

Monday, October 01, 2007

There's a Brain Injury and News Information blog. Who knew? Well, google news alerts did, and put me on to this following bit of information" We know that female athletes have a significantly higher rate of ACL tears than male athletes, but what about concussions?

You may have also noticed that more attention is being paid to concussions in male professional sports -- hockey and football in particular. A while back the New York Times had an article on concussions in high school football and how they were under-reported because athletes didn't want to risk not playing. Alan Schwarz has added to the concussion tome with an article entitled: "Girls Are Often Neglected Victims of Concussions."
According to a study to be published in the Journal of Athletic Training, in high school soccer, girls sustained concussions 68 percent more often than boys did. Female concussion rates in high school basketball were almost three times higher than among boys. Girls also consistently took longer for their symptoms to resolve and to return to play.
Explained a doctor:
“Generally speaking, the medical profession does not do a very good job in recognizing that female athletes sustain concussions at an equal or even higher rate as males,” said Dr. Robert Cantu of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, one of the nation’s leading experts in concussion management. “It’s flying under the radar. And as a result, looking for concussions in women is not pursued with the same diligence, and it’s setting girls up for a worse result.”
This is really a must read -- especially for anyone involved in youth sports with girls.
Most fans don't know that reporters rarely are responsible for headlines or "teasers" on the articles the produce. That can lead to some cranky emails, when the editor and writer aren't "on the same page," so to speak. But sometimes it works out just right. For instance, this fab article on Debbie Black:
Not a short story at all
Debbie Black, all 5-3 of her, has scaled the heights of women's basketball. Now she ferrets out the newest little Gnats.
With a headline like that, how can you resist??
A couple articles about coaching: The Sioux Falls Argus Leader writes about how women coaches are still in the minority.

Quite often, we see a greater number of men actively seeking coaching positions than women, especially in (non-revenue) sports," says University of South Dakota athletic director Joel Nielsen. "It's a responsibility of mine and others to make sure we do as much recruiting as possible."The issue has urgency for theCoyotes, who are in the market for a women's basketball coach now that Chad Lavin is retiring after the 2007-08 campaign.

Which begs the question: Does an athletic director have a responsibility to boost female coaching numbers by any means necessary?

In Austin, the Statesman looks at salaries at UT.
The biggest single item in the University of Texas athletics department budget is salaries, wages and benefits, which, at $32 million (plus another $900,000 set aside for anticipated incentive payments) represent almost a third of total expenses. Collectively, athletics department pay has risen 50 percent since 2000-01.

They then apply a business model to the salaries: Athletics directors and supporters say successful coaches more than pay for themselves by attracting fans, donors and sponsors. UT football will bring in $63 million this year. That means Brown's compensation equals about 5 percent of the Longhorn football program's total revenue. At that rate, computer magnate Michael Dell would earn about $2.8 billion a year. (His actual pay was 5 percent of that last year, according to Forbes.)

This is one of a series of articles they're running on sports and money in Texas:
The WNBA is busy working behind the scenes to arrange for a new franchise in 2008. KC probably won't be ready, leaving Atlanta as the most likely choice.

At Rebkell, Bob Corwin has some details of the ongoing negotiations.

One reported sticking point: the potential Atlanta buyer is insisting on a lottery pick, or some other way to have a shot at Parker. It might be a good fit, since SheWill is there. But giving Parker, or even a top-7 pick, to Atlanta would obviously infuriate some existing owners.

If you were Donna, what would you do?
Check out "Aliens in America" tonight. 8:30 eastern on the CW.