Women's Hoops Blog: October 2009

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Saturday, October 31, 2009

(h/t pilight)

From Slam: The W Exclusives: Cappie Pondexter - Getting personal with the Mercury’s star guard.
Cappie Pondexter absolutely killed the competition this year. Her best all-around season to date, Cappie once again was a vital factor all throughout the Mercury’s road to the 2009 WNBA Championship averaging 19 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds per contest.

I recently caught up with Cappie to get an update on how her offseason is going thus far and find out how things have been since her eye surgery a couple weeks back. We talked about basketball, music, movies and even her favorite superhero…
From All Basketball Review: Leadership - Renee Montgomery (which gives me a "so this is what Jeff House is up to!" WATN? moment.)
I have been fortunate to coach many players with tremendous leadership ability. We are all fortunate to have the opportunity to coach against other players and witness their ability to lead. One of the premier young point guards in the World currently is Renee Montgomery. I was on the receiving end of two of her masterpieces while she was developing her leadership skills that enabled.

UConn to eventually complete a perfect 39-0 season and win a National Championship during her senior year. It was in her sophomore and junior years, two “not so close” wins were over us while I was at Virginia. (12/5/07: 75-45 and 12/18/06: 96-60) She was tremendous on the court, but she also showed great leadership when she went to the sideline as well. Even though the game was never in question she continued to lead. That stuck in my mind, impressed me.

Renee agreed to review and reflect on one of my recent posts Leadership: Seven Leadership Essentials and how it pertains to her and her career.

I expected a few sentences… What came about was easily better than the original. Download it and read it. Share it with your team. It’s a tremendous look at Renee’s leadership ability, who she is and where she is headed.
Where there's national publicity to be had, it's only a matter of time before a certain Hall of Famer drops in.
Also from Voepel: WATN? Jackie Stiles, at a benefit game for rural women's health.

"This event really hit home for me," Stiles said, "because it's for small towns and I feel right at home."
Voepel turns in an admiring profile of Kathy Betty, the woman who saved the Dream.

Betty describes a business plan: "I know women have great purchasing power. I can show how this will contribute to businesses' bottom lines.... A lot of corporations are trying very hard to help women-to-women networking. I think the WNBA provides a platform for that, too."

Friday, October 30, 2009

From Michelle (ooo, I better watch my vowels now) over at Left Coast Hoops:

VanDerveer talks to the media
Stanford women’s basketball held its annual media day Wednesday, a solo affair that represents a change from recent years. The Pac-10 used to gather for a conference-wide media day in San Jose, an event meant to link directly to the Pac-10 Tournament. But that event went away last year, the conference moving to joint media days in some media markets and individual events in others. This year, both Cal and Stanford went their own way. Tara VanDerveer sat down in the Hall of Fame conference room with a group of media to talk about Continue Reading »

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WATN? Sophia Witherspoon: Coaching high school in Florida
Let loose the hounds!

Washington U

Michigan Tech
Franklin Pierce
Delta State

Ohio State
From the (soon to be no longer?) honorably mentioned Pilypaitis:
Love to trade places for a day with: Tiger Woods to see how he prepares for a competition
Talent I'd most like to have: Be able to sing
Favorite athlete to watch: Diana Taurasi

Thursday, October 29, 2009

In case you think Helen buried the lede this morning, here's the sight of relief all over Atlanta news on the Dream: Kathy Betty has, indeed, saved the team.

Better yet, she seems to have the two ingredients a good independent owner needs: boundless enthusiasm for women's hoops, and the ability to cover the losses if the team doesn't pay for itself. The Dream become the fourth WNBA team owned largely or wholly by women (the others are the Storm, the Sparks and the Mystics).

"I'm a sports advocate," Betty said yesterday. "I'm highly competitive, probably a little bit over the edge. All of the sudden it was like, "Wow, competition, women's sports, you get to run a business. This is like combining everything." She added a pun: "We led the league in rebounding."
Taurasi serves day in jail
Slam Online: Ballin’ Like Yamin It - Catching up with WNBA fan Elliott Yamin

Elliott Yamin is a die-hard basketball fanatic in the truest sense of the word.

Not only does he enjoy watching all levels of competition (high school, college, professional, men, women, etc.), but he gets the game. He’s played it all his life. Lived and breathed it growing up. He knows the ins and outs, how players add value or enhance a team, the purity of the sport, the atmosphere, the love, the dedication, and the jubilation it brings to people across the globe.

Not surprisingly, he’s also an avid WNBA enthusiast and supporter.

Stock up on popcorn: 250 Games Strong: ESPN Releases NCAA Women's Basketball Schedule
WATN? Sheryl Swoopes -- in Montana.
NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Committee has chosen its first and second-round regional sites for 2011.
“The committee was pleased with the level of interest in our championship that we found from cities, institutions and conferences across the country,” said Jane Meyer, senior associate director of athletics at the University of Iowa and chair of the Division I Women’s Basketball Committee. “Of the 20 preliminary sites for 2011, we have 11 different conferences represented, with Wichita and Shreveport hosting for the first time.”
In Indianapolis last night, more than 1,000 people came to pay tribute to the NCAA's late president, Dr. Myles Brand.

"Myles leadership made a difference everyday. He was an outstanding advocate for higher education, intercollegiate athletics and the well being of all student athletes," recalled University of Tennessee Women's Basketball Coach Pat Summit.

"We are glad the NCAA found him," Summitt said. "His legacy will live on and continue to benefit future generations in the classroom and on the playing fields and courts across America for years to come."

A little movie news:

Things are looking up for the movie about the Immaculata College women's basketball team that Tim Chambers and Pat Croce shot here in 2007.

Chambers is planning for March (as in Madness) as the in-theater date for the David Boreanaz/Carla Gugino-starrer.

It has been retitled The Mighty Macs, after the team nickname.

News flash from Mechelle:

Lot going on today, but that’s good.

I’ll soon be talking with Kathy Betty, head of the new Dream ownership group, and will have a story on ESPN.com.


Hmmm... will this change how Betty Lennox refers to herself?

Anyone else old enough (or eclectic enough) to remember the musical group Betty?
Can't you feel it in the air? Yup! It's "It means nothing at all but it gives us something to talk/boast/argue about ballot time!"

Mechelle gets into the spirit of the season: Don’t look, but here’s my ballot.

I told you not to look!

You know that goofy and annoying Carfax commercial, where the customer wants to see the a vehicle’s history report, but the nervous sales guy gets out a hand puppet as a lame form of distraction?

”You want to see the Car Fox?” he says, ridiculously.

OK, yes, it is really stupid. But that’s not going to keep me from stealing from it as I try to tell you what I sent in this week to the Associated Press.

It’s my ballot for … uh …

Top five Carpenters songs? OK, sure ….
1. “For All We Know” 2. “We’ve Only Just Begun” 3. “A Song for You” 4. “Merry Christmas Darling” 5. “Crystal Lullaby”

Oh, wait, no … that’s not what I sent into the AP. Let’s see if I can remember what it was …

Five most desired types of Halloween candy as a child?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Q thinks about sports in general, about Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson in particular, about Sherman Alexie, and about the new film Sonicsgate, which you can apparently watch online. (We hope the women who saved the Storm get props.)

Jayda has seen the film; she notes a few other women's hoops documentaries, including one about notorious former Penn State coach Rene Portland.

Speaking of films, whatever happened to the feature film Believe in Me, starring Bruce Dern, Samantha Mathis and Diana Taurasi (well, DT at least had a small role)? I can't tell from the trailer whether it's well-made and enjoyable, or hokey and artificial, or both, like Hoosiers.
Here's something we haven't seen lately practically ever: a major boost in resources for women's sports from an American daily newspaper that covers a not-especially-stellar team.

You're probably familiar with Jayda Evans, who covers the Storm along with college women's hoops for the Seattle Times; she also wrote a book about the Storm after they won it all in '04.

While most WNBA beat reporters covered only their team's home games, and while other newspapers were laying off some of the best reporters who cover the sport, the Seattle Times has continued to send Evans to Storm road games, and she's continued to drive readers to the Times's site with away-game reports and an energetic blog.

Now comes word from Q that the Times is going to send her on the road for University of Washington-Seattle women's hoops. (She's covered UW women's sports, and not only basketball, for some time.)

That's cool, especially since (or even though) few observers expect this year's Left Coast Huskies will rock their conference, much less the nation.

Also a possible factor for Times management: the departure of the Sonics (and the absence of the NHL) leaves Seattle's winter sports pages with a bit of a news hole. I'm glad they asked Jayda to fill it.
Political blogger John Cole reacts with outrage to last week's somewhat manufactured flap over all-male pickup games at the White House: "Are they really proposing that Janet Napolitano come out and do some half court? Do they want Lisa Leslie on retainer?"

Actually, that might happen. (Next time she's in D.C.)

Want to see the President play basketball against talented women? Look here, or here (unless you're a Tennessee fan).
Christopher Thompson gives us: Full Court’s Preseason Mid-Major Top 25—The Pursuit of Excellence Outside the Spotlight

The six major NCAA Division I conferences receive all the publicity but there are some excellent players who chose life away from the spotlight that attends the NCAA’s biggest women’s basketball programs. Some of those players were underestimated—they weren’t considered big enough or fast enough for the major colleges during the high school recruiting sweepstakes; some flew under the radar during their high school years; others went to major schools first but didn’t find the atmosphere to their liking and a few simply chose to play away from the brightest lights.

Still, week-in and week-out these players have turned in outstanding performances that are deserving of much more credit than most of them are ever likely to receive. In an attempt to rectify that injustice at least a bit, Full Court Press is pleased to introduce our Mid-Major Preseason Player of the Year, Alysha Clark of Middle Tennessee State, and to present this year’s preseason list of the Full Court’s Top 25 Players from the Mid-Majors, broadly defined here to include all Division I schools outside of the six major conferences...

(Any bets that Vermont's Courtnay Pilypaitis breaks out of her honorable mention spot?)
Kris G over at Houston Roundball Review has some nice interviews from the Big 12 Media Day.
Geno says he said to Lorin Dixon: "If you don’t have a huge impact on our team, you might as well not come back next year, because you are not going to play at all."
Good news Meaningless happy talk Good news from the front office in Indy.
Fab.U.Lous: The cover of the LSU women’s basketball media guide features an old-school Volkswagen van decorated with an assortment of catchy bumper stickers and a personalized VANWGN license plate.

(h/t icey)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sweet -- Michelle Smith's blog, LeftCoastHoops, is up and running:

They play hoops out west too.

Leftcoasthoops.com will cover the women’s games with a decidedly West Coast slant. We’ll cover the Pac-10, the WAC, the WCC and beyond. We’ll talk to players and coaches, we’ll be at the big games.

And we’ll always keep one eye on the national scene. In-depth, insightful and in-the-know. The scoop on women’s hoops.

From the NCAA's Champion Magazine, an intriguingly challenging read (mouse movement equals size of text/location on page - could be easier to print off p.48-55) on the women's game: Not the Same Game by Gary Brown.

Therein lies a conundrum: If the appeal of women's basketball rests with its intimacy, then can the nature of the game and its surroundings chage without alienating the bedrock fans who have loved the game for what it is?

It is the thorniest of questions, and the answer seems complicated.

However uncertain the course may be, those entrusted with developing women's basketball believe that the sport can thrive as its own brand. What's needed is a unique marketing model that attracts new fans without disenfranchising the loyal fans and admitting, with some level of comfort, that all basketball is not created equal.

Also in the issue, a little bit about the NCAA grant program to support programs/conferences increase attendance, "The house that Tennessee built," by Debby Jennings, "From wearing jumpers...to shooting them," that looks at the portrayal of players in media guides, and a sidebar, "It's all about resources," with marketing voices from Iowa State, California, Tennessee and Louisville.

A reminder to the NCAA and anyone else interested in growing the women's game -- it ain't always all about resources. Sometimes it's about creativity, passion, going the extra mile and thinking outside the box.

Case in point: Vermont's Director of Communications, Lisa Champange. From Media Coverage and the Alternatives: Paper, Pods, Streams, and Blogs

“The first thing we did was institute our e-newsletter,” said Lisa Champagne, Director of Athletic Communications at the University of Vermont. “Every sport has their own, and people can sign up for it free of charge. We’ve got over 400 people signed up [for women’s basketball] — fans, parents, and alumni. We put our entire athletic department on so all the other coaches know what each other is doing. We’ve even put our media on it to make information distribution more timely.”

Anything that’s put up on the Catamount’s website – press releases, team notes, special announcements – is sent to subscribers. “If the Burlington Free Press, our local paper, publishes an article about one of our kids, we’ll take a part and provide a link to the entire story. For instance, if there’s an article about Amy Rosenkrantz, who is from Tempe, Arizona, her parents will automatically know about it instead of her telling them.”

“You’ve got to be realistic,” cautioned Champagne. “When you go talk to an administrator and you’re at a mid-major level or a Division II or Division III, you can’t go and say, ‘Well, Tennessee does this…’ You have to figure out what works for you– and your constituency.” For instance, Champagne noted, her coaches wanted the media guide available in online. “In Vermont not everyone has high-speed internet. We still get calls in our office asking, ‘Can you send me a schedule?’ I say ‘Yes, but it’s available online,’ and they say, ‘I don’t have a computer.’ In this day and age when people think everyone’s wired and plugged in — it’s not the case.”

(Have you checked out the Vermont player Q&A's and the video on their NCAA tourney game v. UCONN?)

Another case in point? Voices from coaches from non-BCS schools and ACROSS the divisions: Building Attendance: Hand Shakes, Hoarse Voices and a Boost from the NCAA.

Kielsmeier is somewhat dismayed at colleagues who don’t, or won’t, extend themselves into area of promotion. “As coaches you want to make sure that you’re doing everything – the X’s and O’s – right, and try to do everything in your power to give your team as much chance to be successful. But how much do you truly market your program? Your players? And if you don’t,” he asked, “who’s going to? ‘Cause you’re the only one who can.”

“Coach Summitt,” underscored Bruno, “the winningest coach in college history, still goes out and works to bring people in to the stadium. That’s why when young coaches act like, ‘It’s the marketing department’s job….’” He trailed off. “You are the marketing department. You’re the front line.”

“Coaches are very busy people,” Femovich said. “Obviously their highest priority is to manage their current team and to recruit the incoming class. But I think first and foremost, there needs to be a willingness on behalf of the coach to say, ‘This is part of my job and I need to use my talents and abilities as best I can to help work in a collaborative way with the marketing people on my campus.’”

Which reminds me: Not that you're going to listen, but a suggestion for the Tulsa Shock. You must, must, MUST build a bridge between the college fans and your franchise. So, how about you offer a discount season subscription to all Big 12 season women's basketball subscribers?
From Mechelle: Nope! Pick somebody else, Coach
Geno Auriemma couldn’t select UConn to win the Big East like every other coach in the league did. Same for Tara VanDerveer and Stanford in the Pac-10.

OK, this is NOT something I get upset about or anything. It’s just that every year before the start of the hoops season, I remember that it kind of annoys me.

When coaches do their preseason ballots to make predictions about their league -- how they think teams are going to finish and who the top player and freshman of the year etc. are going to be -- it seems to be standard procedure that they are not allowed to vote for their own team or their players.

But why not?
Last week the Women's Sports Foundation held its annual salute to women in sports (it's a big ole fundraiser for the WSF). Pat Summitt was one of three given Tribute Awards for "their undeniable contributions to women's sports."

Sports Page Magazine was there.
Graham, don't let ESPN make you subtle on their site... On the 15th he laid out some college games to keep an eye on:

Except for the most brief of breaks over Christmas, there will be at least two Division I teams playing regular-season basketball every day from Nov. 13 through March 7. That makes for a heck of a lot of routes one could take toward San Antonio and the Women's Final Four.

With that in mind, what follows isn't an attempt to pick out the handful of biggest games of the season, but rather one of the meandering paths toward the postseason. Not every game has championship implications, but what's the saying about enjoying the journey?

Ben York at Slam Online, responds to Josh Levin: "The WNBA isn't failing. We are."

Monday, October 26, 2009

First Tierra Rogers, then Liz Pearlman (Aurora: Trainer's a life saver) and Dickinson's Kelsey Boedeker (Heart problem sidelines Blue Hawks guard Boedeker).

LOL! Someone searched for "Val Acronym."

I guess that would be "WNBA."

Tho, I'm betting coach Butler is glad it happened to her rather than one of her players.
Call it "kismet." Mechelle's latest blog entry touches on women's basketball history....The ‘near’ and the ‘far’ at Iowa State
This past July, I went to see “Six-on-Six: The Musical,” which is an homage to girls’ basketball as it used to be played in the state of Iowa.

Playwright and director Robert John Ford witnessed the famed state tournament himself while in high school in Iowa in 1978, and then again in 1987 when the six-on-six game was in its last decade of existence.

The experience of watching a packed arena in Des Moines going crazy over girls’ basketball - and what that said about community pride in Iowa - made so strong an impression for him that he was able to overcome his peers’ skepticism to write a musical about the sport.

There is nothing that I am aware of in American sports history that was quite like the phenomenon of Iowa’s six-on-six girls’ basketball tournament. I say that because of the factors involved. This started in Iowa in 1920, and even in what I call the “backlash” decades for girls’ and women’s sports - the 1950s and ‘60s - it not only survived, but was in its heyday.
Clay Kallam, back at Full Court: UConn "can win every game they play by 35 points, say all the right things in every press conference, and help their opponents up after every collision, and if they don’t win the national title, the season is not just a failure, it’s an abject, abysmal, epic failure.... And that's not right."

It may be an unfair game of expectations, but Geno sounds happy to play it: if Tiffany Hayes "is an all-American this year," he says, "we're going to win the whole thing."
File under "About friggin' time."

NCAA records to include more AIAW information

In addition to the five sports (basketball, field hockey, soccer, softball and volleyball) for which information currently is being added to records books, the statistics staff also has obtained AIAW championships results for cross country, fencing, golf, gymnastics, skiing, swimming and diving, tennis, and track and field.

In looking through those results, Senappe sees familiar names such as Nancy Lopez, who won an AIAW championship for Tulsa before the NCAA began sponsoring golf championships.

“It helps make their participation real,” she said. “Maybe down the line, while many of these former student-athletes are available, we’d like to go out and get some living histories, though I think that will be a few years away. We’ve thought it would be wonderful to talk with some of the people around the game as well, like officials, people who worked in the gyms, or media, to give us a look at women’s athletics 30 years ago.

“But for now, even if someone says, hey, my grandmother or my aunt played in that championship, it provides some information.”

What the article doesn't mention is that Joan Hult is writing a book on the history of the AIAW.

(h/t to Chris over at Notre Dame)

Bob Corwin-- a writer not known for excessive optimism-- gives Atlanta a 70% chance of having a team in 2010, thanks to the generosity of Kathy Betty, though the details are (as you might expect) still in the works.
After noting that the Obama cabinet was full of basketball players, it seems only fair (now that the parental units are on the road home) to take note of the "basketball for boys" brouhaha: Basketball game sparks complaints of a man’s world at White House
Does the White House feel like a frat house?

The suspicion flared in recent weeks - and not for the first time - after President Obama was criticized by women’s advocates and liberal bloggers for hosting a high-level basketball game with no female players.
Oh, I can hear the spit flying from both sides of the political divide.

While I'm not particularly interested on jumping on either bandwagon, I would ask people to apply the "flip" test: What would be the reaction if, say, it was President of the United States Val Ackerman and she hosted a high-level basketball game with no male players?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

In Waco, Brittney Griner is in the house.

In Cincy, ex-UConn assistant Jamelle Elliott takes over the Bearcats, whom Big East coaches expect to finish last this year. "It's definitely totally different" from Storrs, she says.

And down south, SEC coaches expect Tennessee to finish second in that league: Pat, playing the expectations game as always, says that rank may be too high.
semi OT: From Joanne Lipman: The Mismeasure of Woman
Certainly, when you look at the numbers, women have made tremendous strides over the past 25 years. But in the process, we lost sight of something important. After focusing for so long on better jobs and higher pay, maybe the best thing — the enduring thing — we can do is make sure respect is part of the equation too.

If we can change the conversation about women, the numbers will finally add up. And that’s what real progress looks like.

Friday, October 23, 2009

From Jayda:
Hope you get a chance to view "Sonicsgate," which made its debut this weekend before playing online. Women's hoops also will be featured at the movies this month, tackling the tough issue of homophobia.

The 14th Annual Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival is playing two documentaries basketball fans may find interesting. On Oct. 17, there's "Lady Trojans" at 4:30 p.m. at the Egyptian Theater on Capitol Hill. It's a unique flick that looks back at footage of a Tucson, Ariz. high school basketball team through the eyes of the players as adults.

WATN? Jackie Stiles: Stiles to be at Hoops for Hope in Ashland
So, when Taurasi looks for where to put her community service hours ('cause I've got to assume there will be plenty), how about stepping up to help an Arizona AAU team that's suddenly without a sponsor?

The Sports Retorter: Local AAU team used to launder money for breast implants
Mechelle's not quiet ready to stop writing about this past W season: Game film is must-see TV: For teaching or reviewing opponents' strengths, film still key for preparation
Gaines had said before that game that he thought the ultimate key to Phoenix's being able to triumph in the series would rest in the Mercury's ability to get players in the right positions to maximize their offense. And in reviewing the video, Gaines thought that slight changes in spacing really would amount to the difference between winning and losing. Apparently, it did.

Studying film goes way back, of course. But in today's world, the process is so refined and specific that players and coaches can quickly find exact instances that illustrate whatever point on which they are focusing.

And in women's basketball, in which success is so often predicated on execution even for teams with outstanding one-on-one players, preparation with video is a major component of winning. On the pro level, it's more for reinforcing principles and schemes plus quickly identifying breakdowns. On the college level, it's also a primary teaching mechanism.
What I like about this "My day with the women's basketball team" story is that it has none of the "jeez, they're a lot better than I thought" stuff. Juan López writes about his My shining moment with the women’s basketball team.

I had never felt more pressure in a sporting event since my last high school football playoff game.

In this present moment, it was Monday afternoon and the local media was at the Nevada women’s basketball team’s practice. We were invited to practice with the team as to see what they do on a day-to-day basis (and how out of shape we were).

Back to the pressure moment. At the end of the practice, Wolf Pack women’s basketball coach Jane Albright said she would give the media members two chances to make a free throw. If both shots were no good, everyone, including the team’s players, would have to run 16 sprints from one baseline back to the other.

Being the man I am, I volunteered to shoot.

To my dismay, the first guy missed.

The only question I have is, if he'd been writing about the men's team would he have called them "boys."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Q looks at Tulsa and asks: do new arenas really draw more fans?

Big XII coaches look at Tulsa and like the idea of pro basketball there-- but Big XII fans might be more excited, at least right now, about seeing Brittney Griner.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

In Tulsa, more optimism about the new team.
Via Taoduck: Slate's Josh Levin files a weirdly ambivalent reaction to the end of the Shock and the start of the Tulsa WNBA.

Levin thinks the W should act more like the old ABL, and more like the rebooted Women's Pro Soccer league; ignore male NBA fans in favor of women who already like the women's game; and try to "maximize a single revenue stream: ticket sales," rather than spending its energy on TV deals and corporate sponsorships. Would that work?

More important, what does "work" mean? If there are ten to twelve owners willing to stay in the league and lose six, or low-seven, figures a year on their team, then isn't the WNBA "working" now?

If, at some point, there aren't ten to twelve such owners in the current model, would there be ten to twelve (enough for a league) in a slightly cheaper, more "grassroots" environment? (WPS has a salary cap of $32K per player per year; Diana Taurasi made $49K in 2008; no W player makes over $89K.) And if one goal of the league is to create a national presence for pro women's hoops-- so that coverage on ESPN2 is part of the point-- wouldn't a shift to a more localist, less NBA-dependent model move that goal farther away?
In these economic times, as Athletic Departments make tough decisions, there's some interesting news from the Title IX blog.
In case you didn't believe us

...it's true that most athletic departments do not make money and many are not even breaking even these days. The NCAA released the results of a study this week that looked at the numbers from 2004-2008. In DI, the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) consists of 119 schools. Only 15 reported a profit in 2008.

This was not surprising, but I have to say I was shocked (even though I shouldn't have been) by these numbers:
Median salary of FBS football coach: $1.095 million
Median salary of FBS men's b-ball coach: $822,000
Median salary of FBS women's b-ball coach: $277,000

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jen Rizzotti is being honored by the Fairfield County Sports Commission as one of six inductees in its 2009 Hall of Fame Class. Chris Elsberry of the Advocate writes about her roots in sports:
It wasn't quite a tantrum, but it was pretty close. The umpire for this back-yard, Wiffle ball grudge match between brother and sister had just called a potential game-winning home run ball fair and the fielding team screamed foul. Literally.

Jen Rizzotti wasn't about to lose. Not this way. It was dark outside. Very dark and if she couldn't see where the ball landed, then how could her dad, a.k.a., the umpire? But Tom Rizzotti called the ball fair and while older brother, Tommy, celebrated, Jen ran inside the house to get a flashlight. She then dragged both father and brother out to find the ball to try and overturn the "fair" call.

It didn't work. And Jen wasn't very happy about it.

"I always wanted to win. I had a horrible temper and was a really bad loser," Rizzotti was saying over the phone Friday afternoon. "I had to learn how to lose nicely or else I'd be grounded."

WATN? CRob checks in on the Tulsa Shock.
Mechelle on the Tulsa move and what it means for the WNBA: "It's not going to sink, but it's also not close to smooth sailing."

The longtime Big XII reporter also calls the Tulsa franchise the first one in Big XII country: "in the middle of Big Twelve territory"; I'm not sure that's true. sure that's true (meaning that OU and K-State fans, for example, are now much more likely to drive to WNBA games).

Next question: does Tulsa try hard to trade for Courtney Paris, or for some other former Big XII star? Existing WNBA franchises have scorned that kind of regional approach; is it warranted now?
Full Court's Corwin and Michaelson angrily wish that the people who run the Dream would say something by now.
Q brings in a boatload of initial reactions to the WNBA in Tulsa, including Q's own: what's bad news for Michigan has to be good news for Oklahoma, and-- unlike most new franchises, which start out bad-- this one could win a championship next year.
More rumors point to good news soon for the Dream.
Voepel wants to hear from you. Today!
It's official: please welcome the WNBA to Tulsa.
Coming later today: an announcement regarding the WNBA in Tulsa.

Detroit sports columnist Michael Rosenberg treats the Shock as already gone. Why did the Shock "fail" there, despite winning three rings? Rosenberg says it's because southeast Michigan had too many other sports: the Tigers, and college football, and hockey, and so on, sucked up all the Shock's oxygen.

There's something to that. The Mystics, though they usually lost, led the league in attendance until the Washington Nationals came to town in 2005; they haven't led since, though they seem to have done alright (2005 also marked a change of ownership, and the new, better owners gave fewer tickets away).

But the proximate cause of the Shock's move, again, is almost certainly the recent demise of Pistons/ Shock owner Bill Davidson, who showed up at games and clearly liked having the three-time champs in town. (Last year, the Davidson family arranged to sell the Tampa Bay Lightning, too; apparently they didn't want to run an NHL team after his death.)

Monday, October 19, 2009

It's not just Swish Appeal, not just the triumphant return of Full Court Press; now Slam Online is about to launch its own women's hoops site, which is certainly going to make us obsolete. good news.
Siena women's basketball coach Gina Castelli begins her 20th season.
Elena Delle Donne is playing basketball again: this season she'll suit up as a Blue Hen.

The former top high school player and UConn recruit made headlines by leaving UConn, and apparently quitting basketball, last summer: she thought she was done with the sport, but she now says she just couldn't leave her family (including her severely disabled sister).

Delaware coach Tina Martin took a hands-off approach once the standout landed in Newark. "She had been recruited enough," Martin told the AP. "Honestly, I just wanted her to be happy at Delaware whether she ever stepped foot on the basketball court or not."
Congrats to Senegal, winner of the women's basketball African Championship of Nations
So, Penny... who's got next?
Word is that Atlanta philanthropist Kathy Betty, a big supporter of Georgia Tech hoops, might step in to save the Atlanta Dream.

That would be cool, especially if she can afford it: her late husband founded Earthlink, which at least makes it plausible that she can take on likely losses, year in and year out, unlike a certain furniture magnate who tried and failed to save his city's team.
Why are the Shock leaving Detroit, really? Yes, the Pistons have been bleeding money: like everything else in Detroit, team sports are hurt by the bad economy (worse in southeast Michigan than almost anywhere else). The NBA-WNBA joint ownership model, some say, relies on an NBA franchise rich and successful enough to absorb the six-figure losses a WNBA team can expect.

But really every NBA owner is that rich-- at least, every owner who can keep a team. (Howard Schultz in Seattle, and now the Indiana people, may be different stories.) The worst-paid Piston for 2009-10, Will Bynum, will make almost $900K, and there's no talk (or none that I've seen) of the Pistons departing Detroit. As Clay pointed out six years ago, any folks who can keep on paying even below-average NBA salaries can afford a WNBA team if they want one.

And that's a big "if." The Fever aren't going away, at least not this year, because the region's reaction to the team's postseason would make it rather awkward to give up now.

And if the Shock go away, the biggest reason won't be the Pistons' money woes; rather, the Shock will leave Detroit because the admirable man who chose to bring the Shock there in the first place died in March, and his heirs may not share his taste for the team.

Pro sports teams move all the time. Sometimes they even move in the dead of night. It sucks that one more group of loyal fans is going to lose the team they've supported for so many years, but at least there's a buyer: the team isn't going to fold.

That's the reaction from Phoenix Stan at Swish Appeal (who doesn't live in Detroit). And it was almost my reaction too. Trouble is, if the Shock relocates to Tulsa, that could be bad news for the whole league, because it's bad news for the Dream: Atlanta's chief stakeholder, Ron Terwilliger, has never been a men's-side owner-- he may not have the money, or he may not want to spend it on sports (he's also a Habitat for Humanity bigwig). He's made clear that he can't afford to keep running the team; his money comes from residential construction, and real estate hasn't exactly had a great year.

If the Shock could stay put and the Dream were for sale, it might well be the Dream who moved to Tulsa, thus avoiding any contraction in 2010. It might be that there's hope for new owners within Atlanta. But it might also be that the Tulsa buyers had their pick between two WNBA teams; they picked, unsurprisingly, the three-time champions. And down South, the fans still hold their breath.
Clay says it's great times for W after this year's wonderful finals (unless you live in Atlanta or Detroit).
Nothing official today, but it really does look like the Shock will move to Tulsa. Coach Mahorn says he won't comment until it's official-- but doesn't deny it at all.

Something I didn't know: Tulsa lead investor Bill Cameron also has a stake in OKC's NBA team.
Will Atlanta's money woes let the Dream die?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Clay Kallam gets a flashback on SlamOnline: They Still Got Next
As the WNBA closed the curtain on it’s 13th year, the league still seems to have to prove itself to network executives and mainstream public. In a deciding Game 5, between the Indiana Fever and Phoenix Mercury, for the WNBA Championship, coverage was brushed aside to ESPN 2. It’s counterpart on ESPN? College football, in the form of a Western Athletic Conference match-up between a 1-3 Nevada Wolf Pack vs. 2-2 Louisiana Tech. Seriously? It’s only other real sports competition that night was the MLB playoffs on TBS. Whether you follow the WNBA or not, I personally don’t, it should be noted that this isn’t a pushover league. At least it shouldn’t be considered one. Yahoo’s! BDL explains why the WNBA is a must-watch. If you need further proof, let’s turn back the clock and focus on Clay Kallam’s story back in July 2007, where he highlights what’s so important about the WNBA.—Matt Lawyue
30 seconds with Diana Taurasi (from the NYTimes).
Voepel delivers her after-action report on this year's pro season:

"It struck me during these Finals – perhaps more than ever before – how much I enjoy covering the professional game. The players are not just better-skilled and more experienced, they are also – for the most part – real grown-ups...

"None of this means that covering college is any less enjoyable … to the contrary, it’s more so because I know the best of the people I get to follow in school are going to continue with their basketball journeys. But I sometimes feel this need to 'stick up' for the WNBA in the very community of people who should be most supportive."
From Swish Appeal, unsurprising (but neat) mathematical confirmation that the Mercury's uptempo, shoot-first style of play has affected the stats for the entire league.
Another Detroit reporter thinks the Shock could move to Tulsa: is it already a done deal?

Friday, October 16, 2009

So, with travel talk in Detroit, how does the Oakland Shock sound?
Honestly, what's the point of a story about a farm that's honoring Coach Yow with a corn maze if you DON'T PROVIDE A PICTURE!!!
While we're busy recovering and reflecting, Mechelle is writing and moving us forward into the college season: Hopes high across land as season nears

Thursday, October 15, 2009

So I guess Tulsa was wearing jeans and t-shirts and now they're moving up to suits and ties: Tulsa group to formally apply for WNBA team after Schofields join in

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

From Cincinnati.com: The remarkable comeback of Amber Gray

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

ESPN's headline tease claims that TV viewership for this year's WNBA playoffs has "doubled." It's apparently not true, but the truth is cool enough: finals viewing up 73% (compared to last year's one-sided shutout), playoff viewership overall up 54% (that's one-and-a-half times last year).

Where does "doubled" come from? The Nielsen ratings, which went from .2 to .4: it's the large rounding error produced with small numbers-- small, that is, compared to the total number of televisions in the United States, but perhaps big enough, compared to what the league needs.
Via They're Playing Basketball: word that ex-Oregon coach Bev Smith, dismissed this March, wasn't racist: she just "wanted... regimented white girl ball."

Smith is now running an organization called Kidsports, which looks cool.

Monday, October 12, 2009

From Q: do we want a dynasty?

And via Q-- will sports in general (the W, whose ratings have risen, included) help save cable from the threat of (brace yourself) the Internet?
In Hartford, Altavilla starts thinking about UConn's upcoming year.
Voepel gives props to Cappie; so does her old school.
Congrats to the Merc who, as I just learned from the subject line of the league email I just got, won the NBA title.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Via Swish Appeal: last night's game five became a hot topic on Twitter-- hotter, for two-plus hours, than the New York Yankees.

Can Twitter help the W in the offseason, too? Jayda has more.
From Berkley: Cal’s Rogers comes to grips with health scare
Tierra Rogers never let herself think she was going to die. Her late father gave her strength and always taught her to persevere through the most trying of times.

Before Rogers’ recent collapse during a basketball workout in which California’s freshman guard stopped breathing, her dad’s murder at halftime of her high school game outside the gym had been the greatest thing she’d endured.
You know what I hope? That 20 years from now, when ESPN Classic is doing their piece on the WNBA's tipping points, they're giving the series that just finished its just due.

And that, when they're talking to DT, Cappie, Penny, Katie and Catch about the amazing ebb and flow of the series, that Catch can say, "Well, yeah, I didn't get that ring...But I did finally get one."

PS A shout out to the NY Times: Karen Crouse looks to have been on-site for the game story (Mercury Triumphs in Frenetic W.N.B.A. Finals).

Oh, and don't forget to check out Swish Appeal's coverage.
In Russia, the US took care of Euroleasing Sopran, 79-65. (Wonder what would happen if Euroleasing went up against Lifelock Merc?)

UConn's Tina Charles lead the way. Her fifteen points and 7 rebounds would be nice any day... but when you realize she put them up in 13 minutes? Yowza.

Just think, if she'd played the whole game, she'd have totaled 45pts and 21 rebounds! Which kinda shows you why "projecting over 40 minutes" is almost always a false measurement. (Watch Tina read this, get peeved, and prove me wrong.) Everyone healthy played, and you've got to like 21 assists on 32 baskets.

Get post-game quotes here.

Notes of worry? No Candace, and very limited Big Syl.

Next up, UMMC Ekaterinburg. (Do they also have a dead talisman?)

Game's at 5pm local time -- don't ask me to figure out what time that is East/Central or West. Time math is not my strong point. BUT, if you can figure it out, looks like you can watch the game online.

Don't know if they're all on-site (clearly Cappie isn't), but some familiar names on their roster, including Gruda, Wauters and Tweety. (And in a neat trick, Jones will be playing against herself.) Said Auriemma:
"We’re up against it a little bit tomorrow,Obviously they’re the home team and they’ve been together for a long time. They have great talent at every position. A lot of our talented players are home, maybe our most talented player here, Candace Parker, isn’t playing. So we’re up against it, a lot of our young guys are really going to be challenged against some experienced, good players. So I’m anxious to see how we do."
It's Phoenix: after two games of below-average shooting last week, both Diana and Cappie came through for the home team, and the Merc have more hardware to wave in the air. "I never, never want to give it back," Taurasi said.

It was a great series, with one of the best games ever followed up by a big home win for the underdog Fever and then by a headbutt.

But the last two games seemed to go according to coach Gaines's plan: run the opponents back and forth, wear them down, and use the Merc's combination of fast-break ability and firepower from outside. It took a while: Phoenix led for most of the night, but Indiana pulled even with four to go.

"We played about as well as we could play," coach Dunn concluded, and maybe so: certainly Catch looked terrific, and Sutton-Brown rang up big numbers early on. But other players looked tight: as in past matches, the Fever looked best in the first quarter, the Merc in the fourth.

Catch isn't sure what's next: "I want a family, want kids," she says. (And no, she's not retiring next year: it's about the long term.)

Voepel, who seems to have written three columns at once, also looks at Taurasi's eventful season, and catches up with one of the few Merc players without a ring from'07: mild-mannered K-State alum Nicole Ohlde.

Friday, October 09, 2009

From she who blogs under our name -- which is fine by us, thank you very much -- Jayda's post "Interesting read pm the WNBA and social media," sends us to HoopFeed.com's "First Annual HF.com Social Media Awards."
The USA Senior team can relax and watch tonight's game, having already rather handily defeated the Czech professional team ZVVC UKA Prague, 100-81, in the first game of the Ekaterinburg International Invitational. You've got to love that the top scorers were relative "newbies" -- Angel, Shameka, Tina and Asjha.

Add in Big Syl and that makes five in double figures.

I'm sure, though, there will be some serious conversations about defense as well as some serious concern about a Parker shoulder injury....

Check out the post-game quotes, some video (itty bitty) video. and the (itty bitty type) game report.
Yikes! So much for breathing room....

Instead of looking back (though if you want to reflect, you're welcome to! 'cause it's been great, no?) we're looking forward to tonight:

From the Indy Star's David Woods: Fever's season comes down to tonight: In past 12 Finals, 11 teams won it at home, but Fever have played well in Phoenix

Mercury Rising
All but a select few are witnessing the greatest team in Phoenix sports history - and no, it's not those 1-2 Cardinals, a bankrupt Coyotes squad seemingly destined for Canada, or most certainly that other hoops franchise that has "big plans" for Louis Amundson.

It's the Phoenix Mercury, the most exciting team no one knows about, and yes, the best team in the history of the Valley.
Elimination games not new to Mercury

Johnson savoring another shot at title

It All Comes Down to This
What's made this WNBA Final series great is obvious. Fantastic play. Big stars. Big shots. Big games. All the things needed to make for compelling sport have been present and now fittingly it comes down to one game. Winner take all, as it should be.

There are people that believe you can ignore a basketball game until the final quarter and there are also people that think you can ignore a series until a decisive game. I couldn't disagree more on both fronts.
Mercury look to win second title in 3 years

On Eve of Title Game, WNBA Wins Fans
People came, they saw and they cheered.

WNBA fans have filled the US Airways Center in Phoenix and Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. They have purchased jerseys and T-shirts and, most importantly, tickets.

They have given the league a huge boost, a proper sendoff for a 13th season that has been marked by the retirement of a legend (Lisa Leslie), stories about comebacks and motherhood (Candace Parker) and a knock-down, drag-out final between two teams sporting some of the most exciting, talented players in the world. It's a fight that ends Friday night in Phoenix with the host Mercury taking on the visiting Indiana Fever in a winner-take-all title game.
From Ryan Pretzer on the Shock site: Final Judgment - Head-to-head Finals reveal who's really deserving
Regardless of who wins Game 5 between the Fever and Mercury, the 2009 Finals has enlightened this WNBA awards voter in two respects....

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Jeez, the league is going to have to start handing out toasters!

The WNBA? I think you should

It turns out that the WNBA is awesome.

You'll have to excuse me for sounding like a blithering idiot, because I am a blithering idiot when it comes to this league. Not only am I lacking in the knowledge department, but it turns out I've wasted quite a few summers not paying attention to this league.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Catch the Fever from UT-K's Daily Beacon.

From the Indy Star's David Woods (and the Star's front page banner), "Fever offense goes from implosive to explosive."

From the very Special Curt Cavin, Gaines, Mercury looking for 'spark'

On the family side:
Dad says he's for Indiana. He likes Taurasi, but somehow he's for Indiana.

Mom, who doesn't really watch basketball, has no opinion, but she did watch the first game with her husband (who very much enjoyed his first W experience.).

Me, I'm for five games, with the fifth game being called for "everyone get out of the arena 'cause we've got to clean up this mess" by the janitorial staff 'cause the game is threatening to go into its sixth overtime...

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

I'm really liking the breathing space between the Finals games... give us a chance to read stuff like:

January is having an October to remember.

Hard Work Pays off for Hoffman

Mercury concerned about foul shots

Why I love the Mercury

Fever coach's twang keeps players laughing

Players concede that some of Dunn's expressions are unsuitable for public consumption. One of her favorites is to threaten to "cut that ponytail off" and, uh, relocate it.

Players said most Dunn-isms are repeated frequently, and they've heard them for years because she was a Fever assistant for four years before becoming head coach in 2008. Yet the Fever can still be surprised.

"Sometimes, I'm like, 'Is that a word?' She cuts words off," Bevilaqua said. "I thought I was really country, the way I talk."

Sutton-Brown 1 win from WNBA glory

Former Kansas Great Tamecka Dixon In Search Of Third WNBA Title

And, did Tulsa just jump the shark?

The WNBA franchise announced that it will give fans a chance to select a seat for home games from 5 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday at the BOK Center. Coach Nolan Richardson will be there for photo opportunities. For reservations, contact Mary at sportslegends@stfpr.com or (918) 582-9151.

Good news:
Tierra Rogers, the highly touted California freshman forward diagnosed with a rare heart condition, was released from a San Francisco hospital Friday night a day after having a defibrillator implanted.
With tongue in cheek, Mechelle writes: Time to put supposed head-butt behind us
As you can imagine, it was really tense and scary and stuff like that Monday as the Indiana and Phoenix players caught sight of each other at Conseco Fieldhouse. All this lingering hostility … especially since the incident in Sunday's game, in which Diana Taurasi head-butted Katie Douglas and got a technical …

Or was it Douglas intentionally getting in Taurasi's way and then dramatically falling over? Or was it completely inadvertent on both parts? Or was it not completely inadvertent? Or was it …

Monday, October 05, 2009

From the WBCA

As a tribute to Myles Brand, the NCAA President who passed away on September 16 after his battle with pancreatic cancer, the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) has created an initiative entitled MILES for MYLES.

This initiative will take place on college campuses across the nation on Saturday, November 7, or Sunday, November 8. Each college or university campus choosing to be involved will conduct a MILES for MYLES three-mile run/walk event. The NABC has asked their membership to lead the effort and engage the entire athletic department in this initiative. The WBCA hopes that you will assist in their efforts to get the entire athletic department involved in honoring the legacy of Myles Brand, as well as raising money for the fight against cancer.

Each participant will be encouraged to make a $3 donation. The funds collected will be split among three charitable funds for cancer research, including Coaches vs. Cancer (NABC), the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund, and The Myles Brand Endowed Chair for Cancer Research at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

For an overview of the MILES for MYLES initiative, click here. The NABC is providing helpful information and forms regarding the initiative, and will provide information on where to send donations soon.

For additional information or if you have questions regarding MILES for MYLES, email MILESforMYLES@NABC.com.

Check out the DC BasketCases' (I'm struggling about where to put the apostrophe. Mr. Ramsey from middle school would be SO disappointed.) report on the USA Basketball open practice.

As the team heads off to Russia, it will be interesting how Big Syl and CP handle the international competition as the post-Lisa post torchbearers. Which explains the headline to Doug Feinberg's article, US women’s hoops team tries to find post depth.
Coop (the ORIGINAL W Coop) is talking: Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Hosts Reception and Conversation with Four-time WNBA Champion and Breast Cancer Research Advocate Cynthia Cooper-Dyke
In case you were wondering, the Donna ain't goin' nowhere.
There was this game, see.... But some of us were teaching all day Sunday so we haven't got a chance to view the tape. And some of us intended to blog, but the site was down and the window of opportunity was lost....

Anyhoo - enough with the excuses:

Justine Larbalestier was pumped for the game.

Someone else "discovered" the game: WNBA Finals proves to be just as exciting as NBA (focus on the sentiment, not the spelling)

Zakk realizes he was "Wrong About the WNBA" (seems there's been a lot of that going on -- so, how much did those roster cuts hurt?)
But it was in Atlanta when my mouth got me in trouble (this time with the WNBA, any ways). While on air to promote their franchises first-ever game two members of the Atlanta Dream, Ivory Latta and Chioma Nnamaka, sensed my pretentiousness and challenged me (and my traffic guy, Denzil) to a game of H-O-R-S-E. If I won, I'd get to address the WNBA crowd and show highlights of my victory over their star players. But if I lost, Ivory and Chioma decided, I'd have to perform a karaoke version of a song of their choice while dressed like "Jackie Moon".

I'll show them why guys are better, or so I thought, and showed up to the grudge match already dressed like the Will Farrell character. If my shooting skills or "Y" chromosome wouldn't provide me an advantage, then my intimidating uniform would, or so I thought.

I thought wrong.
Add this from the Blog of Bill: Stop the Ignorance...
I have made no pretense with this platform about how the WNBA is a sport that people need to put aside their petty displeasures and take a long deep breath and watch from beginning to end. Yes it is womens basketball, and yes, they play with a smaller ball. And oh yes, even manly men like Zakk of Indy SportsNation.com have put down their bad beers to finally say, ” these girls got game !”
Oh, and it seems Larry Fitzgerald, the Arizona Cardinal wide receiver was at the game, which is cool, but I ain't linking you to the site that told me that for reasons of taste.

And that guy Bird, remember the one who can't dunk so didn't really play such great basketball? Anyhoo, he was mouthin' off about the W saying stuff like
“They’re as good as anyone in the world. They’re are the best talent in the world. They come to play every night. They’re very well coached. They work hard in practice”
The game report by the AP's Cliff Brunt was picked up by a lot of papers.

From Bob Kravitz at the Indy Star: Sunday of great moments
This was another double-dip to etch into the memory. It featured another ho-hum dose of brilliance from Peyton Manning in front of a sellout crowd at Lucas Oil Stadium and a 76-second-long 10-point outburst by the Fever's Briann "Not Quite Reggie'' January that moved Indiana past the Phoenix LifeLocks in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals before another sellout crowd at Conseco Fieldhouse.
Richard Essex noted: Fever fans set WNBA Finals record

Curt Cavin, "Special for The Republic" (which means they hired a local), opens his piece: This is not how the WNBA Finals are suppose to go for the Mercury."

Curt also wrote for his paper, the Indy Star: It's Fever by a head-butt - Late technical foul on Taurasi results in 1 key free throw
No harm, probably no foul, the players involved said, but the dramatic contact in Sunday's Game 3 at Conseco Fieldhouse turned more than that: A technical foul and one of the key moments in these WNBA Finals.
Q does his usual stellar job over at Swish Appeal
It is almost inevitable that every now and then, a problematic call from a referee will cast a dark cloud over the outcome of a playoff game, even outside the WNBA.

As a Bay Area sports fan, the idiotic "Tuck Rule" that killed the Oakland Raiders' playoff run comes to mind and I'm pretty sure Phoenix Stan can think of a call or two from the Phoenix Suns past that still gets his blood boiling.

So it would be no surprise if Game 3 of the 2009 WNBA Finals is defined by "The Headbutt" in Phoenix Mercury fan-lore.
From Mechelle: Time on Fever's side in Game 3
It was a beautiful fall football afternoon here in the Heartland … but it was also a Sunday for hoops. The Colts were over in Lucas Oil Field finishing off the visiting Seahawks around tip-off time at sold-out Conseco Fieldhouse

About two hours, one popped-out shoulder, one questionable technical foul and numerous athletic drives to the basket later, what was left was 3.4 seconds. The Fever had a one-point lead; the Mercury had the ball.

And this WNBA Finals series once again had viewers on the edge of their seats.
And from Mechelle's blog: "Interesting day in Indy," where she flashes back and flashes forward.

Ta Da!: USA Basketball Women's National Team Set To Travel To Russia For First Test
After training for six days in Washington, D.C., 2009-12 USA Basketball Women's National Team members and Olympic gold medalists Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky) and Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks) will lead a USA squad in Russia in the four-team 2009 Ekaterinburg International Invitational. Also selected to play in the Oct. 9-11 tournament were USA National Team hopefuls Swin Cash (Seattle Storm), a 2004 Olympic gold medalist; Tina Charles (University of Connecticut / Jamaica, N.Y.); Shameka Christon (New York Liberty); Candice Dupree (Chicago Sky); Lindsey Harding (Washington Mystics); Asjha Jones (Connecticut Sun); Crystal Langhorne (Washington Mystics); Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream); Renee Montgomery (Minnesota Lynx); and Candice Wiggins (Minnesota Lynx).

"We found out a lot about ourselves in the last six days," said USA and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma. "Some of these guys who are here didn't know me, I didn't know them. Now I'm anxious and I know these guys are anxious to go and see if what we know transfers over to games. I know we know how to practice and I know we know how to do drills. Now we're going to find out if we can take that, transfer it over to game situations and see if I can identify those players who know how to win."

Sunday, October 04, 2009

OT: For all the music Mercedes, gracias.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Hoops for Troops: The USA National Team Visits Walter Reed
Following today’s practice, the USA Basketball Women’s National Team had an opportunity to visit with some of the wounded soldiers recovering at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. After a briefing from a member of the United Service Organizations, better known as the USO, the team broke up into small groups of 4-5 and visited troops in their hospital rooms.
Overheard among the crowded foyer:

“Hey! I know that girl! She’s from Tennessee, isn’t she?”

“They’re all so beautiful. I never realized that from TV.”

“That one, on the right. She was in the Final Four, right?”

“I don’t watch basketball, except for the Olympics. I’m not a basketball fan. But I do watch whenever the Olympics are on. I remember seeing her during the Olympics.”

“Oh, I forgot my camera. Man!”

Seimone Augustus, Minnesota Lynx
It was an eye-opening experience. Just to know that these guys go out and risk their lives every day and not know if they’re going to come back home alive or not. To hear about their experiences is a motivational factor for me. Going through my rehab and stuff like that, I’ve been feeling down on myself and depressed and I shouldn’t. They’ve been through worse things than me and they’re calm.

You go and visit them and you see them glow and you see how happy that they are to be here to live another day. I realize what I’m going through is really not that bad, compared with what they’re going through. I was really surprised at how positive they all were. I expected it to be a sad situation, but it wasn’t. It was a good situation, even for the families, the relatives that were in there. They were happy. They were excited to see their relative back, knowing that they’ll be here to live a happy life, a normal life. I really appreciated visiting them today.
From Mechelle: For Douglas, you can go home again.
"I don't think it's out of ordinary for a player to want to play at home," she said. "But for me it's just a different circumstance. With my parents gone and my brothers and sister [in Indiana] and me being the odd one out, always away, not able to be with my family. I just understand what life is all about and making the most of the time that we have.

"Connecticut -- I had a great situation out there, but it was time to devote myself to my family and come back home."

On Sunday, she'll walk into a full arena in her hometown, as her team plays in hopes of winning this series and a league championship for Indiana.
From Sports Media Watch: Viewership up 55% for WNBA Finals

It's a numbers game: so click, advocate and watch.
Humor and truth combine to come up with "11 Reasons Why You Should Stop Crapping On the WNBA."

1. On some level, your dislike is rooted in latent sexism.
....About 15 minutes in [to my research], it finally dawned on me what was happening here. Wailing on the WNBA is a societally-accepted way to unleash your deep-seeded, subconscious sexism. You're ripping on the quality of the play (Simmons), the lack of athleticism, the absence of dunks... and, even more insidiously, the heavily lesbian WNBA fan base (Mohr), the manliness of some of the players (Spike) and the five-figure salaries.

Underlying each and every point, though, is the inescapable message, however unintended: Here's a job that both men and women are doing, and the women suck at it compared to the men. A major columnist couldn't get away with saying that about, say, men and women CEOs (I did it tongue-in-cheek here). Men and women bankers. Men and women writers. Men and women teachers.

But you can say it here -- "Men are better than women!" So people do. With an unwarranted amount of passion. These aren't WNBA fans, these are people who've never (or maybe once) watched a game. The level of disgust is completely disproportional to the effect the WNBA has on your life. Maybe 90 seconds out of a 90-minute SportsCenter, a barely-visible link on the top ESPN.com, a blurb six pages deep into the sports section of the newspaper, and bumping rodeos or the 2003 World Series of Poker from ESPN2 for a night... that's not close to enough to inspire the verbal bile the WNBA is constantly splattered with.

There's something more here. There's something more.
Readers of this blog know our respect for Junior Colleges and JC coaches and the opportunities they offer players.

So, it's our pleasure to point to two players who are being honored: Tausha Mills and Betty Lennox are entering the Trinity Valley Hall of Fame.
Maryland loses Dee Liles because of academics.
From Mechelle: Moore gives Fever boost off bench (and UConn tie)
"She always says, 'Somebody off the bench is going to come out and win this game for us,' " Moore said of how Dunn is frequently bolstering her reserves' morale and confidence. "And we really believe that. We all trust each other and know that whenever somebody gets in, it doesn't matter if you play two minutes or 20 minutes, we know you're going to play well.
Grandmama in D.C.
Whether its offering an encouraging word or challenging the post players defensively, U.S. women's basketball assistant coach Jennifer Gillom is making her presence felt in training camp.

"I'm just having fun out there," Gillom said. "It's a great opportunity to get involved with a program that I care so much about."

Friday, October 02, 2009

A team that has the Coach of the Year, Rookie of the Year and a playoff berth in its second year can draw some good (financial) attention.
Kathy Betty, widow of former EarthLink CEO Garry Betty and a major contributor to Georgia Tech's basketball teams, has emerged as the top prospect to buy all or part of the Atlanta Dream, Central Atlanta Progress President A.J. Robinson said.
Phoenix didn't get the calls, their shooters couldn't score the ball, and the fourth-quarter surge fans expected wasn't enough: the Finals head to Indy all tied up.

The Fever have now proven, two games in a row, that they can play offense nearly at the Mercury's pace; last night they showed they can play defense that quickly too. Cappie and Diana combined shot 12-38 from the floor.

On the other side, Catchings, who shot badly Tuesday, did everything right, coming very close to the WNBA Finals' first triple-double. As usual, her comments focused on defense: "It's my job to contain Diana," she said.

Props to her, and to her team-- but Mercury fans might be forgiven for thinking the biggest factor in last night's big Fever win was a third-quarter injury: Penny Taylor left the game with blood on her mouth after taking an inadvertent elbow in the face from Briann January as Bri leapt up for a jump shot.

When Taylor walked out, Indiana already led by 13, but she was having a wonderful game anyway; without her, the Merc had a lot less on the inside, and had to make jump shots (they didn't) to finish a comeback.

Q (who has more links than we do to postgame news) finds reporters from Brisbane focused on Penny's wounds. She now says she expects to play Sunday in Indy: she'll be wearing a made-to-order mouthpiece.