Women's Hoops Blog: August 2003

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Sunday, August 31, 2003

It's do-or-die time for the Comets. But they've been there before.
The Fever are looking to next year, and they may have a totally different roster.
In nearly unanimous choices, Swoopes easily Defensive POY, Ford won ROY, and Laimbeer won COY.

The MIP race was tighter, with no clear favorite. Snow got the nod over Nolan, DeForge, and Teasley.

MVP is no doubt going to LJ.
A surprising result today, as Cleveland beat Detroit to even the series at one game each. Detroit's shooting was horrible: 28% overall, Nolan 3-17, Holland-Corn 1-8... ouch.

My Lynx couldn't pull off another miracle last night. All 5 Sparks starters were in double figures, and the Lynx's achilles heel came back last night: turnovers.

"We didn't take care of the basketball," said Lynx coach Suzie McConnell Serio. "Twenty-four turnovers -- that was the difference in the ballgame.

Connecticut won to sweep Charlotte out of the playoffs. Who would have predicted that?

Everything seems to be going right for the Sun all of a sudden. Brooke Wyckff hit a crazy, off-balance three with a minute left to seal the win. That's just the way it's been going...

Stinson had 25 for the Sting, but she didn't get much scoring help. And it led to an early exit for the second year in a row.

Friday, August 29, 2003

Two nice non-women's-hoops articles in the times today:

This Araton piece on race and coaching in the NBA.

And this Longman piece on Kelli White, the emerging women's track superstar.
The game out east was just as exciting.

McWilliams-Franklin, who has come up huge in big games all season, did it again. She made a four-point play with a few minutes left, and she made the game-winning layup with 2 seconds left. She ended with 20 points and 9 rebounds.

In the final two minutes, Charlotte shot 0-4 and didn't get one rebound. That's a rough way to finish.

Lynx kick ass!

In the first half, Minnesota was getting shelled, and I was about ready to give up.

But the Lynx didn't give up, even though they were down 21. "We decided, 'Let's go after it,'" Katie Smith said. "Because what did we have to lose?"

What a finish. Smith (23 points) hit a three to tie the game with 24 seconds left. Then, with the game still tied and 7 seconds left, Tamika Williams stole Mabika's inbound and made the game-winning layup.

The pass was supposed to go to Leslie, who blamed the loss on the refs. "I felt the game was played very unfairly," she said. "I know it's on the road and you're not always going to get the calls, but that's all I can really say about this situation."

"They never gave up and I couldn't be more proud of that," Lynx coach Suzie McConnell Serio said. "We worked too hard to earn this spot in the playoffs to let it slip away like that."

Sadly, there were less than 4,000 people there to see the incredible game. Yes, as I've said before, the fans from my home town are the worst in the world. Sigh...

This was LA's first playoff loss since '01.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

LJ in her ESPN chat says that, if she couldn't vote for herself, she'd pick Swoopes for MVP, and Katie Smith would be close. She picks Sacramento to win the championship this year.
Yesterday came the big news in the Mendiola case: all three brothers accepted plea deals.

Giovanni pled to second degree murder. His brothers pled to lesser crimes. Sentencing will come later, but it looks like Giovanni will be in prison for somewhere over a decade while his brothers will get a couple years.

The family still seems to maintain innocence. "My son is taking a fall to save his family," Alicia Mendiola said after the hearing.

"I don't know how to say this," said Giovanni in court. "The only reason I'm doing this is I'm trying to save my family. They are using my family against me as leverage."

During yesterday's hearing, Washington Huskies stars Giocanda and Giuliana sat with their mother in court.
If you ever see Sue Bird, ask her to lunch. She just might say yes.
Coach Donovan last week:

"If we don't make the play-offs, [LJ] doesn't deserve to be the MVP. Lauren is the best player in the league, but you have to lead your team to the play-offs. It's a well-rounded award for your defence, scoring, rebounding and what you do to make everyone else better. And you do have to be a play-off team. You can't be an MVP sitting at home."

Coach Donovan yesterday:

"[LJ] deserves to be MVP - she has my vote. I have been saying all season she deserves to win the award. But I don't vote."

In the same article, Swoopes says LJ should win. Yo Griffith says it's close between LJ and Swin, but Swin should win.
Tonight is the Lynx's first playoff game in history. And it will be a tough one.

Coach's plan: "We need to take care of the basketball. It takes decision making. They get so many points in transition. We score, and L.A.'s at the other end scoring a layup. We can't be idle. We must move on to the next play."

Edwards is ready for the match-up with Teasley. That will be key.
9 reasons Detroit went from worst to first.
Lisa Leslie knows who should win the MVP:

"I think I'm still the MVP," she said. "Why not? I don't think the MVP is all about scoring. It's about what you bring to your team, how you make players around you better."

Her coach feels even more strongly about it: "If Lisa Leslie doesn't win the MVP, it is a pure travesty in this league," said Cooper.

Well... I don't know. Missing 11 games in a 34 game season is a lot. But she has a good case.
Sue Bird will have surgery in mid-September to clean some scar tissue out of her knee.
The Sac Bee on Byears.

GM Reynolds explains why the Monarchs traded her: "It was a trade we needed to make. There were minor disciplinary things on a regular basis. With our franchise, we want solid, quality people. We don't expect everybody to be choir girls, but we expect a professional attitude."

The New Haven Register has an early look at some drafting scenarios for next year.

I like the idea of Lindsay Whalen going to Indiana. That could be a great fit.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Ok. I've been meaning for sometime to make my pick for MVP, and to post some brilliant analysis proving why I'm right. But honestly, I just can't decide.

Making the playoffs matters. I'm not saying it's an absolute rule -- I'm not saying that you can never win the MVP if your team doesn't make the playoffs. But making the playoffs is a big plus.

The playoffs aren't just important because winning is everything -- it isn't. But your team's success can show some intangibles. Some people (like Swin Cash) help their team by being a leader on and off the floor, and that doesn't always get reflected in the individual stats. Some people (like, maybe, Chamique Holdsclaw) get great individual numbers, but don't always seem to be helping in the intangible ways.

That's why I think winning, and making the playoffs, matters.

Which makes this year hard. It's a big minus for Catchings and LJ that they couldn't get their teams in. It's a big plus for Swin that she not only got her team in the playoffs, but lead it to the best record in the league.

Leslie is also a reasonable choice even though she missed 11 games. LA's 4-7 record in her absence proves her value.

Unfortunately, I don't think Katie Smith really deserves to be considered with LJ, Catchings, Cash, and Leslie. Nor does Holdsclaw -- she too missed a lot of games, I don't think she's a good leader, and her team finished at the very bottom.

But between those 4, I think it's basically a toss-up. I won't be unhappy with any of those picks.

For more debate, check out the WNBA Talk thread here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Holdsclaw tweaked her knee at the end of the game last night. They think it's only a strained ligament, not a tear.
Mel Greenberg on Mapp and Byears.

Dales-Schuman is quoted as saying: "Stories bounce around because we all have friends on other teams, but when you hear something like this, it's kind of shocking because we don't expect it. It's just not common."
In last night's other games:

Even though they were playing Detroit's JV team, the Mystics couldn't finish with a win. The Shock's stars -- Cash, Nolan, Ford -- didn't play, but the team on the floor was good enough to beat Washington.

In another statement game, LA beat Houston. Mabika and Dixon had 19 each.

And for a little pride, Seattle topped Sacramento. LJ had 18 and 9.
The Rockers also won to clinch their playoff spot, though, since Indiana lost, they'd have made it anyway. Chastity Melvin had a huge night, with 23 and 11 -- and she made SportsCenter this morning.

"I was really focused tonight. I think everybody could tell," said Melvin. "I was going to do whatever it took to win."
The Sun played a solid all-around game: all five starters in double figures.

It was an up and down year for Connecticut. Some of the players, especially Nykesha Sales, had repeatedly expressed frustration with the roster, the lack of effort, and the lack of consistency. But the team came through down the stretch.

"It's about time," said Sales. "We kept bouncing back. We realized we just had to win three games in order to get this done, and we did it. I'm proud of everyone in here."
It all came down to the last game for Indiana. They were on a roll, and seemed poised to eke their way into the playoffs. But on the final night, they suffered a heartbreaking loss at home to Connecticut.

The six game losing streak was a killer. "To basically underachieve, it's really disappointing," said Catchings.

For next year, the Fever will look for help in the back court. Nikki McCray, Coquese Washington, and Niele Ivey just aren't doing enough -- they need some guards who will score points.
Barry Uhrman -- the Cameron Crazy, moderator of the Duke message board, writer for Full Court, regular blog reader -- has won the WNBA Virtual GM game. He gets tix to the Finals. He's pretty psyched.

Congratulations, Barry.

Monday, August 25, 2003

The US Open tennis tournament starts today.

With the Williams sisters both out, those damn Belgians (Clijsters and Henin) might dominate the field. But Capriati is looking good lately, and she just won the warm-up tournament in New Haven.
Is Madonna really finished? Maybe. But apparently Devo is back.
In the WUSA championship yesterday, Washington beat Atlanta 2-1 in OT.

Abby Wambach was the hero. She has had an up-and-down year, but yesterday she scored both of the Freedom's goals. At the end, Jennifer Meier made a sweet crossing pass to the right post. Mia Hamm yelled for Wambach to let it go, but Wambach ignored Hamm and knocked in a perfect shot past Brianna Scurry.

"Any time you can look back on your life and see you've had to make so many sacrifices, seen yourself persevere though certain circumstances where you may not have thought you were going to get through it, and look to your right and left and see the teammates who supported you . . . and be able to lift the trophy at the end of the day, that's something that means more to me and my teammates than any words can say," Wambach said. "This is the greatest feeling I've had in my soccer career."
Peticca also explains the possible outcomes tonight for Cleveland, Connecticut, and Indiana.

If the Rockers and Indiana win, third-seeded Cleveland would play second-seeded Charlotte in a first-round playoff series, and fourth-seeded Indiana would play first-seeded Detroit.

If the Rockers and Connecticut win, fourth-seeded Cleveland would play first-seeded Detroit and third-seeded Connecticut would play second-seeded Charlotte.

If the Rockers and Indiana lose, fourth-seeded Cleveland would play first-seeded Detroit and third-seeded Connecticut would play second-seeded Charlotte.

If the Rockers lose and Indiana wins, the Rockers would not make the playoffs, and fourth-seeded Connecticut would play first-seeded Detroit, while third-seeded Indiana would play second-seeded Charlotte.
In the MVP race --

Earlier this month, the Aussies were complaining that was the obvious MVP choice, and that if she doesn't win it would only be due to some anti-foreigner prejudice. Now they seem to recognize that she's likely out of the race.

For the past couple weeks everyone has been assuming that Catchings couldn't win because the Fever are so bad. But with their late spurt, she might be vaulted back into contention. Mike Peticca at the Plain Dealer thinks she should win.

But with her team in first place, Swin Cash might be the most deserving. Her individual stats aren't as impressive as some of the others', but she has led her team to the top.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

I thought Indiana was essentially out of it, but they're putting together an amazing late season push.

The beat New York Friday at the Garden, and Catchings had 32 and 14. Then they flew home and easily beat Cleveland yesterday.

Now it all comes down to Monday night's game against the Sun. A win puts them in the playoffs.
Everyone in Washington will probably be happy when the season ends tomorrow. It's been a disaster, and the frustration has grown all season.

Holdsclaw had some harsh words yesterday when it was suggested that she needs to be more of a leader.

"I can't do every damn thing," she said. "I'm tired of worrying that I'm going to have to be [the leader]. I can't do everything. If they expect me to do everything in Washington, D.C., this team is never going to win."

Another reason why she shouldn't win the MVP despite her stellar personal numbers.

Many fans wish Vicki Bullett would come out of retirement, but she says no way: "I'm almost 36. It's time for me to have some kids."
The Liberty had to win today. They didn't.

This will be the first time since 1998 that New York is not in the playoffs.

Friday, August 22, 2003

Mapp: banned for two years. It just keeps getting better.
Graham Hays is back with another excellent column on ESPN.com.

You will recall my pain in June when Stacey Pressman wrote her piece on why women's basketball sucks and my happiness when Graham wrote an intelligent response.

Now Graham has written a more general column about the excuses men make for not watching women's sports. Check it out.
Should LJ win the MVP with the Storm out of the playoffs?

Her own coach answers emphatically: NO.

"If we don't make the play-offs, she doesn't deserve to be the MVP," Donovan said. "Lauren is the best player in the league, but you have to lead your team to the play-offs. It's a well-rounded award for your defence, scoring, rebounding and what you do to make everyone else better. And you do have to be a play-off team. You can't be an MVP sitting at home."

Donovan also says LJ has spent too much time trying to be an outside shooter: "Lauren is one of those special players at 6'5" who can play away from the basket. But, for me, she spent too much time away from the basket. My challenge was to make her know just how good she was down inside. A big part of her game had gotten lost."

Maybe she's trying to hard to imitate her arch nemesis?
Fleser says the Vols' home schedule is better than last year's. UConn will arrive on February 5. Mark your calendars now.
Back at the alma mater, and Sara's former basketball home, Courtney Banghart has returned to be an assistant coach. Our friend Chris Wielgus remains at the healm. Go Big Green!
The East remains up in the air.

New York, with its win over Washington, is hanging on.

Cleveland suffered a setback by losing to Detroit. Detroit didn't even play that well, but they just know how to win.

Both Cleveland and New York hold the tiebreaker over Connecticut. Since all three teams have the same number of losses as of today, that could be huge.
In a bit of a let down game, my Lynx got crushed by LA. 50-24 in the first half... ouch. Katie Smith played only half the game and scored 0 points -- that'll hurt the scoring average.

Lobo fans will be thrilled, though: Jordan Adams played 23 minutes and scored 7 points. Nice work!

Ominously, Rhonda Mapp didn't play for the Sparks due to an undisclosed "league matter." What does that mean?

Sacramento beat Houston, and in so doing, they officially ended Seattle's playoff hopes.

So the Western Conference playoff picture is set. LA and Houston will be 1-2. Whether the Monarchs or the Lynx will get the 3 spot remains to be seen.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Charlotte blew Indiana out, 80-50.

Catchings and Williams both had solid games, but the rest of their team is simply sub-par, shooting 5-21 FG and 0-9 from three-point land. Catchings had to sit out during a key stretch in the second half due to foul trouble.

The Fever are not mathematically eliminated, but it's pretty close.
Seattle is now in serious trouble. They lost a heartbreaker in OT to the Stars last night. As has often been the case this year, fouls and free throw shooting hurt the Storm.

The only way for Seattle to make the playoffs is if it wins both of its last two and the Monarchs lose all three of theirs.

The players were understandably glum after the game. Now, they'd just like to end the season on a winning note. "It's about pride at this point," said coach Donovan. "Whatever is going to happen is going to happen. We have two home games left to just finish out as strong as we can. We owe our fans that much."

And they're starting to think about what they'll need to do next year.
For the first time in franchise history, my Lynx are in the playoffs. Minnesota snuck past Phoenix last night with some pretty good shooting and solid play inside.

Said Katie Smith: "It is amazing, but it does feel good to have a chance and go in there and make some noise in a whole new season."

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Byears, lesbians, and spankings -- Tom Knott at the Washington Times says the WNBA has it all.

Still not entirely clear what the point of this article is. He's right that the league is in a double bind -- but what should we do about it?
Mike Terry at the LA Times says LJ will probably win the MVP... but he (like me) isn't sure that she should if Seattle doesn't make the playoffs.

He doesn't even mention Katie Smith as a candidate. Sigh...
After the difficult times she's had over the last couple years, Anna DeForge isn't really worried about winning MIP -- she's just happy to have a job.

"I find a lot of my happiness is just being back playing because I know what it's like to not be able to play and to not have a job and be watching from the outside," she said.
Connecticut got crushed by Cleveland. The Sun thus fell into a fourth place tie with New York. But it's not really a tie, since New York apparently holds the tie breaker. Connecticut has three games left: Charlotte at home, then Washington and Indiana away.

LaToya Thomas had 15 and 12 for the Rockers.
Seattle lost a big one last night. As a Lynx fan, I know I should be cheering against them... but I would like to see them in the playoffs.

It was an all around ugly game, but Coach Chancellor was happy for the win.

Sue and LJ just didn't get much help -- no one else had more than 6 points, and the rest of the team shot a combined 9 for 28. That makes 4 in a row for Seattle. And they really have to win tonight.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

On a happier note, Barry Uhrman has a new interview with Coach Laimbeer up at Full Court.

One excerpt:

Barry: How did you become involved in coaching women's basketball?

Bill: I have a daughter who is 16 years old. She played 15-and-under AAU last year. I started coaching her when she was ten years old. So I was coaching girls' basketball for five years. I am a big supporter of women's hoops, because I see what it does for young girls. It provides opportunities to compete in the future for college scholarships, not to mention a professional career in basketball.

The whole interview is great... but available to subscribers only. Full Court is about $25 for the year -- worth it for the serious fan.
An uncomfortable history lesson --

last week I posted Lieberman's picks from ESPN.com for end of the year honors. She picked DeForge for Most Improved Player, and I think she's right. A couple folks emailed and said (1) I'm crazy, and (2) Lieberman's pick is tainted because of her relationship with DeForge. The Newark Star-Ledger article today again makes reference to it.

The story is from Sports Illustrated from 2001. I didn't see it at the time, but here it is now for those interested:

Sometimes speculation about a coach-athlete relationship is enough to unhinge a team. A few weeks before the end of the 2000 WNBA season, the Detroit Shock convened for a practice at its training facility behind The Palace of Auburn Hills. The Shock had just returned from a West Coast trip, and as the players warmed up, casually stretching, dribbling and shooting free throws, Nancy Lieberman, a Hall of Famer then in her third season as the Shock's general manager and coach, strode into the gym. "I want everyone in the locker room right now!" she shouted. One Detroit player says she'll never forget the look on Lieberman's face. "She was teary, but she seemed angry," the player recalls. "She looked like a madwoman."

The players waited anxiously in the locker room for nearly 10 minutes before Lieberman joined them. She sat in front of a locker, crossed her legs and spoke in a measured tone. "I know that [some] of you have gone to management and said that Anna and I are having a sexual relationship," several players quote Lieberman as having said. Team members couldn't help but glance toward point guard Anna DeForge, a 25-year-old WNBA rookie. "Anna just put her head down," one Detroit veteran says. "After a while, she started crying."

Questions about Lieberman's relationship with DeForge had been percolating among teammates for months as the Shock slogged through a dismal season. Now even those who had ignored the talk had to confront the issue. "If you had a problem with my personal life, you should have come to me, and I would have told you about it," said Lieberman, who during the meeting reminded players that she was married. After a failed attempt to find out which players had complained to senior management, Lieberman, who was in charge of the Shock's personnel decisions, said, "I will be here longer than any of you. Half of you won't be here next year, so you better start playing ball."

Though Detroit president Tom Wilson says Lieberman told him she was not having a relationship with DeForge when he confronted her shortly before the locker room meeting in August--and though both she and DeForge reiterated that denial to SI--more than a half dozen WNBA sources say they felt the team had to question whether the coach and player were crossing the line. Players say Lieberman, 43, and DeForge spent hour after hour together on the road. One witnessed them exchanging hotel room keys, while another spotted Lieberman's car outside DeForge's apartment late one night, incidents DeForge says never happened. "In Sacramento we went out by the [hotel] pool for a workout, and Nancy and Anna were there, swimming and lying by the pool," says former Detroit player Joy Holmes-Harris. "Everyone was, like, 'Come on, give it a rest.'"

Lieberman calls the notion that she and DeForge were involved romantically "absolutely false" and says such talk was born of players' petty jealousies and internal team politics. "Sometimes players have a hard time separating playing time from accountability," she says. "If you look at the players who said those things, you'll see that most of them are no longer with the franchise because they didn't produce for other reasons. Coaches and players can be close friends. Pat Riley and Magic Johnson had a great friendship. Shaq and Phil Jackson have a great friendship. Anna is a wonderful person, and I hope I am friends with her until the day I die. [But] I would never jeopardize my profession or my character to be with one of my players."

Lieberman and DeForge confirmed that they shared Lieberman's Troy, Mich., residence for 3 1/2 weeks after the 2000 season ended. The reason, both said, was so they could work out together and prepare for an upcoming basketball camp.

In Detroit, players say they were vexed by DeForge's rapid ascent to the Shock's starting lineup. Unable to hook on to a WNBA team after the ABL, in which she'd played for one season, folded in 1998, DeForge had been out of basketball for a year when she ran into Lieberman, who was in Lincoln, Neb., to broadcast a February 2000 Kansas-Nebraska college game for ESPN. Three months later Lieberman invited DeForge to the Shock's preseason tryout camp, where she alone among more than 100 hopefuls earned an invitation to training camp. Midway through the season, with the Shock plagued by injuries, Lieberman moved DeForge into the starting point guard spot. At the time, DeForge was averaging 3.0 points and 0.7 assists; she hadn't gotten off the bench in five of the Shock's 16 games.

"How does someone go from the 11th person on the team to a starter?" asks one Detroit veteran. "[DeForge] would have to call other people [for help] when teams pressed her because she couldn't get the ball upcourt." Other players wondered whether the Shock's top draft choice, point guard Tamicha Jackson, was being left on the injured reserve list so that Lieberman could protect DeForge's starting spot. DeForge started 10 games, averaging 6.7 points and 3.0 assists. Says Lieberman, "No one worked harder than Anna. If my star players and my high draft picks had worked that hard, we would have contended for the Eastern Conference title."

Finally, two players voiced concerns to Wilson, who says he asked Lieberman twice about the accusations, and twice she denied them. "It's very rare for a player to go to the team president, unless it is pretty serious in the minds of many of them," Wilson says. "You were getting pretty close to a mutinous state."

The flash point was the meeting in the Shock locker room. When it concluded, DeForge was still crying. After Lieberman left the locker room, two veterans walked over and gave DeForge hugs, attempting to console her. One of them explained to her why her teammates were upset. "I said to Anna, 'You know the accusation is out there, but you are almost as at fault as [Lieberman] is,'" says one player. "'In this type of environment, your teammates matter more than your relationship with the coach.' I was trying to tell her to back off a little bit."

Player-coach affairs become much more complicated if they're same-sex. Even in a league such as the WNBA, in which one team explicitly markets itself to the gay community, the issue is doubly sensitive. "If there's a heterosexual relationship between an athlete and coach, provided it's consensual and nonadulterous, is it a bad idea? Yes," says Mary Jo Kane, director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota. "But because of homophobia in and around women's sports, if it's a lesbian relationship, the negative perception is exacerbated--it quietly moves from the arena of poor judgment to the arena of deviance and immorality."

Lieberman's promise that she would outlast every player on the Shock went unfulfilled. On Aug. 28, 2000, shortly after Detroit concluded a 14-18 season, Wilson told Lieberman she would not be offered a new contract. Wilson confirmed to SI that the "tense locker room" was a factor in the firing. "She sort of lost the team," he says. Lieberman acknowledges that the situation became untenable. "Tom did the right thing," she says. "If you lose most of the players, it's a tough place to be. It was time to go."

Both Lieberman and DeForge are out of the WNBA. On March 15, Lieberman filed for divorce from her husband of 13 years, Tim Cline, in Collin County, Texas. According to court documents, she and Cline had "ceased living together as husband and wife." Lieberman works as a commentator for ESPN and lives in Dallas, where in July she, with DeForge by her side, conducted a basketball camp for girls. Asked about documents indicating she and DeForge shared a residence in Dallas, Lieberman said, "I was always there for players," and that she often welcomed players into her home. "My home address," says DeForge, "is in Lincoln, Nebraska."

A year after their tumultuous season, Shock players look back at how quickly the team unraveled. "Once the rumor started, it spread like wildfire," says Holmes-Harris. "Players were upset and frustrated and thinking a lot about it. They saw Nancy and Anna together, and they got fed up The team fell apart."
The Newark Star-Ledger examines the differences between the cases of LaTasha Byears and Kobe Bryant.

The article says that the WNBA has a squeaky clean image in part because the players are less likely to do bad things, and in part because cases like Byears's don't get media coverage. The article goes on to suggest that the lack of controversy actually hurts the league... sort of...

"The WNBA's biggest controversy, involving allegations of rampant lesbianism within the league and an article in Sports Illustrated on the alleged relationship between former Detroit Shock coach Nancy Lieberman and player Anna DeForge, spurred minimal interest and branded the league as 'lesbian.'"

Read the whole thing.
I was about ready to write New York off, but they came up with a huge win last night over Houston. The Comets shot 56% from the floor and dominated the boards, but it wasn't enough. Baranova had 15 big points of the bench, including 3 3s.

"This is one of the most gratifying wins so far," Tamika Whitmore said. "But we've got a couple games left, and those are going to be more gratifying." The New York players are exhausted, but they'll need to pull together for a couple more wins.

New York is now only a half game out of fourth. Houston is one and a half behind LA.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Minnesota has three games left: Phoenix (away), LA (away), and Detroit (home).

Sacramento has three games left: Houston (home), Phoenix (home), and Seattle (away).

Seattle has four games left: Houston (away), San Antonio (away), Houston (home), and Sacramento (home).

It appears that if the Lynx can win 2 of 3, they're in -- at worst, they'd have the same record as either Sacramento or Seattle (since one of those teams will lose one more game since they play each other), and they hold the tie-breaker over both.

Seattle has the toughest road. They have four games and two back-to-back on the road. San Antonio is the only game where Seattle would be the favorite, and the Stars have been playing better lately. Plus, the Storm are playing injured and at least a little tired.

It remains totally up in the air, but if I had to bet, I'd bet that Seattle will be the team left out of the Western Conference playoffs.

Which brings us to a subsidiary question: if Seattle doesn't make the playoffs, can LJ still win the MVP? My vote would probably be no... but I'll burn that bridge when I come to it.
New York is hanging on... or trying to hang on. The Liberty came up with a big win yesterday over Cleveland.

The Rockers had a tough night shooting: 20 for 60 from the floor, 3 for 20 from downtown. They were just tired and lethargic on the court.
Seattle's playoff chances took a hit last night when they lost to Detroit at home. The Shock just have too many weapons -- even without Ford, they had 6 players in double figures.

Another blown lead, another blown game for Seattle. The mood has changed for the Storm: "In the past week, Seattle went from contending for home-court advantage in the playoffs to losing three games and sliding to a fifth-place position in the standings that currently leaves it on the outside of the Western Conference postseason party."

Coach Donovan is particularly frustrated by the injuries that have decimated her lineup.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

For Indiana, the fight to make the playoffs is about more than just playing a few more games.

The Fever are a shaky franchise, and management has started hinting that if things don't turn around, the team won't stay in Indiana. Fan interest has never been great, and a disappointing season like this one hasn't helped.

Says the IndyStar: "It would be a shame to see the Fever slip into oblivion. But that's what's happening now. Around here, a losing season means a lot more than simply losing games."
Seattle, Minnesota, and Sacramento are all tied. Only 2 of the 3 will make the playoffs.

Seattle plays Detroit today. After a horrible loss to Phoenix a couple days ago, they need to turn things around.
A whole bunch of games yesterday, all with huge playoff significance.

LA beat Houston to move back into first. It was an important statement game, reminding the Comets who's best. Poor transition defense and rebounding hurt the Comets. Leslie had 13 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 blocks.

New York lost a crucial game to Connecticut. Sales had 22 in one of the most impressive games in the Sun's season. New York isn't out of it, but they are in serious trouble.

Indiana came up with a key win over Charlotte. Indiana is now only one game out of the playoffs. "If we're going to go down, we're going to go down fighting," said Tamika Catchings. Natalie Williams had a double-double and became the second player to reach 4000 career points.

Katie Smith was the first player to reach 4000 points, and she added 17 last night in Minnesota's win over San Antonio. The Lynx kept their turnovers down and dominated the boards.

There were no spoilers at all yesterday. San Antonio, Washington, and Phoenix all lost at home to playoff contenders.

The Mercury did give Sacramento a good fight and sent the game to OT. Yo Griffith had 4 points and a huge steal in OT, and 16 overall.

The Mystics shot better than Cleveland from the floor and the line, and they also out-rebounded teh Rockers, but they still couldn't get the win. The three point shooting was weak -- "They didn't fall for me all night," said Dales-Schuman, who was 0-for-5 from beyond the arc.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Coach Laimbeer wasn't happy about his team's turnovers and the reffing last night. He blew up in the second half and got ejected.

The Shock were playing rough ball, though. Chantelle Anderson had to leave to get stiches.

Sacramento needed the win. "It's do or die for us now," said Ruthie Bolton.
Seattle's performance in the second half last night was bizarre. 16% shooting. LJ missing layups. Blowing an 18-point lead against Phoenix.

"You could look at it that way, that we're slipping out of the playoffs since we lost to the two bottom teams in the conference," Sue Bird said. "But we're not out. We were in this position a week ago when we needed to beat Minnesota. We just have to take care of our next five games. It's the only way to approach it."

"We will win the next game," LJ said. "That's the last game we play like that."

The final game against Sacramento could end up deciding who's in and who's out.

Friday, August 15, 2003

We are living in a spoiler's paradise. Phoenix over Seattle? Yes, it's true.

DeForge: 19 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals. Bird: 8 turnovers, 2 assists. Thank God she cancelled that bet.

Sacramento topped Detroit. Turnovers and poor free throw shooting hurt the Shock.
Byears update:

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office will decide whether to file sexual assault charges against former Sparks forward Latasha Byears within two weeks, a district attorney spokesperson said Thursday.

Byears is being investigated for allegedly sexually assaulting a former teammate, who has since been interviewed by a prosecutor in the district attorney's office. The prosecutor will analyze the interview, look at other evidence and then decide whether to file charges.
The Lynx let the game go at the end. As usual, they turned the ball over like they didn't want it. I haven't seen the numbers, but they must be leading the league in turnovers.

(UPDATE: I was wrong. Minnesota is second in turnovers. Detroit has more.)

Leslie had 19 in her first game back. Said DeLisha Milton: "It's a great feeling having the group together, back as a unit. From a spiritual and emotional standpoint we feel a level of comfort."
Washington continues to have a good run as late-season spoiler. They beat Charlotte last night.

Holdsclaw was nearing triple-double land: 23, 9, and 7. The Sting had more turnovers than assists -- never a good thing.

Charlotte is now 1-3 against the last place Mystics. "We can't explain it," forward Rushia Brown said.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

"Who needs me?" says Sara...

well, given that you're the only one of the two of us who knows a damn thing about basketball...
Due to the wacky power outage, the games tonight in New York and Cleveland have been postponed.
Hi everyone. Yes, I am still here. I have definitely been lagging on my posts lately. Too much work these days. Ugh! But, Ted is so darn good anyway. Who needs me?

This situation in LA is so crazy I don't even know what to think about it. I am sure that is what Ted and I will be discussing as we plod around the gym tonite.

What the heck happened to Tiger today? Might be a season w/o a major...Or maybe Phil will finally come thru. I am looking foward to a lazy weekend of watching golf.

Catch ya later...
Tonight in Charlotte all men over 18 get in free.
From the June 11 Los Angeles Times:

No one from the Sparks would say what led to Byears' abrupt dismissal.

"The personal matter had a little to do with the decision," Coach Michael Cooper said. "But the big decision was we needed somebody to help Mwadi [Mabika] at [small forward]. With Jennifer Gillom, Chandra Johnson and Rhonda Mapp coming back, that gave us enough big people, because there is not a lot of playing time there."

Other Sparks -- who were informed of the move after the morning shootaround -- said the Byears' dismissal caught them by surprise. Nikki Teasley wore Byears' name and uniform number on her shoes during the game.

"We're still kind of in shock," said Leslie, who led the Sparks with 19 points and eight rebounds. "I think we're addressing that we're not a one-person team. Obviously we will miss Tasha a lot, because she means a lot to us; she's a good friend and a person we love. And she helped this team win."
San Antonio has been rough on the floor, but they've done great in terms of fan support. They rank third in attendance behind Washington and New York.

Indeed, Val Ackerman says the Stars are the model for how to start and run a franchise.

So what have they done exactly? I don't know. But it sounds like they have an organized and consistent marketing plan. They were planning for a couple years before the team showed up, and they are constantly looking ahead.

The first season of a franchise is always the easiest. We'll see if the Stars can keep it up. A top draft pick next year would certainly help...
On the court last night, Detroit barely got past Phoenix. The Shock had to come from behind to get the win.

Ford had 17 points and 15 rebounds. DeForge led the Mercury with 21, but she missed a shot at the end to tie the game.

Despite the loss, Coach Shumate was happy about his teams efforts. "Like the majority of the year, they gave it everything they had. Maybe we got a little tired down the stretch, but we played a great game. When your team plays like that, there is no criticism."
The LA Times on Byears. This article says the alleged victim was a former teammate.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Lord, lord... what an awful situation...
Oh man...

LA cut Latasha Byears in early June. They never said exactly why, but there were whispers about that the circumstances were unusual, and unusually bad.

I made reference to the "bizarre Latasha Byears situation" in July, and a couple readers emailed to ask what was up. But I really had no idea -- I had only heard the few vague reports about something shady.

Today the facts came out.

Byears is under investigation on rape charges. According to a report made public today, she and three men raped another Sparks player on June 5 following the Sparks' game against the Monarchs.

According to the AP report: no one has been arrested, but "there is an investigation involving several male and female basketball players."

A few more details here.

Related Posts:

1. Team reacts.
2. Kobe compared to Byears.
3. History: why the Monarchs dumped her.
4. Waiting for the DA, and still waiting.
5. Byears sues the Sparks; more details of the suit.
6. The LA Times interviews Byears, former teammates, and Sparks brass.
7. Scoop Jackson weighs in.
Connecticut fans are calling for Coach Thibault's head.
Surprising results across the board last night. All three winners were underdogs on the road.

Seattle lost to San Antonio even though LJ had 32 and 18. What a waste. Said Coach Donovan: "It seems like we stand around and watch Lauren go to work way too much these days."

The Liberty scored an amazing 53 points in the second half to beat Connecticut. New York is fighting tooth and nail for the playoffs. For the Sun, the loss was sickening. Sales had 31, but the team's defense just collapsed.

It was a must-win game for Indiana. At home, against the Mystics -- they really needed to end the slump. But the meltdown continued, and now desperation is setting in. Dales-Schuman and Jones both bad big games for Washington.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Remember all the post-draft hype about Jung Sun-Min?

It's turned out to be a rough season for the Korean rookie. She's barely played, and she's had much less impact than other first-round picks.

Sun says the WNBA is a different -- and better -- game than she's used to. At 6'1", she plays center in Korea, but she must move to forward here. The change hasn't been easy.

Still, Coach Donovan is happy with her progress, and she expects more production in the future.
With so much attention going to LJ, Bird has slipped into the background.

It's been a rocky season for Sue -- some questionable PR moves, spotty play early on, and constant pain from the knee injury. But she's still managed to play nearly every game, and she and her star center have put their team in a great position.
Catchings would be a better MVP candidate if the Fever were above .500. The consensus is building around LJ.

But what if Seattle doesn't make the playoffs? What if LA wins every game once Leslie comes back?
She's back.

The Sparks are 4-7 since the All-Star game, when Lisa Leslie went down with a knee injury. She just started practice, and she plans to play Thursday against the Lynx.

"I never saw myself as the heart of our team," Leslie said. "But our team looked like it was playing without heart. And in turn I realized that they are my heart and I work hard for them. I think once we put the body back together things will be fine."

Monday, August 11, 2003

Nancy Lieberman has her picks for the WNBA's year-end awards.

She picks LJ for MVP, Ford for ROY, Laimbeer for COY, Swoopes for defense, and DeForge for most improved.

Nancy is right across the board (as usual). It's possible that something will change between now and the end of the season, but as of now, these picks are right on.
In recruiting news: Tasha Humphrey last week gave her verbal commitment to Georgia. She was thinking about Duke and Tennessee, but decided to stay close to home.

With Humphrey to UGA and Hornbuckle to Tennessee, two of the big three Class of 2004 recruits have made their choice. Now we all await Candace Parker's decision -- that will be the biggest prize of all.
In the Seattle Times, Steve Kelley encourages fans to get out and watch the WNBA. Seattle fans still haven't shown up in large numbers to support the Storm, one of the best and most exciting teams in the league.
In yesterday's games:

1. The Fever lost a tough one to Cleveland. Catchings had 21 and 10, but as usual, didn't get enough help. Chastity Melvin made the big shot at the end to seal the win.

Indiana has now lost 5 in a row and has fallen to fifth in the East.

2. Detroit beat New York in OT. Deanna Nolan hit 7 three-pointers, including the game-winning shot in the final seconds of overtime.

3. First-place Houston embarrassed last-place Phoenix. No Mercury player had more than 8, and they also got crushed on the boards. Houston is playing solid, consistent ball night in and night out.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

We're back. Minnesota in the summer still can't be beat.

I can get really pessimistic about my favorite teams, and when the Lynx lost to Phoenix and Seattle, I was about ready to write them off. (I mean... who loses to Phoenix?) But then they came up with a huge win Saturday over Sacramento, so they're still in fourth.

It was a surprising loss for the Monarchs. Coach Whisenant just didn't understand why his team had so little energy in such an important game.

Bigger surprise: the Stars beat the Sparks. The Sparks are slipping fast in the West.

No surprise in Washington: the Mystics are officially eliminated from playoff contention. Holdsclaw hates the refs (fine coming?). Coach Stanley is exasperated (pink slip coming?).

The Philly Inquirer today ran this story saying that the league's gamble of sticking a team in a casino has paid off.

I'm not sure in what sense that's true. Yes, the world hasn't ended simply because a pro sports team is owned by a gambling establishment. But last I checked, the Sun were last in the league in attendance, and my sense is that a lot of basketball fans in Connecticut are not happy about the set-up -- partly because it's a casino, partly just because it's not in Hartford.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

We are heading home to Minnesota for some family time. Golf, beer, and bbq. Probably little or no blogging till after the weekend -- have a good one!
After losing 4 times to Detroit, Connecticut Coach Thibault has reached a verdict: "They're the best team in the league."

The Monarchs were stunned after last night's loss. The Comets were a little surprised how easy it was.

The Liberty say they have gotten better over the last couple weeks. They are about to head on a road trip, and they'll need to do well. Tari Phillips, who didn't start last night due to team rule violations, had a double-double off the bench.
Hornbuckle chooses Tennessee over Duke.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Detroit's MO: balanced scoring on offense, dominate the boards on both ends. They did it tonight, and made easy work of Connecticut.

Tonight's game between Houston and Sacramento was a big one. Both teams are hot, and both are fighting for playoff position. Surprisingly, the Rockets blew the Monarchs out. It was never close. No Monarch scored more than 9.
Great news! Terry Porter, good fried of Sara's family, is about to be named head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks! Having him closer to Minnesota, maybe we'll get another chance to get him on waterskis again...
Talked this morning about MVP. Also time to start thinking about Rookie of the Year Honors.

WNBA.com has posted this run down of the main candidates.

I would love to vote for Teresa Edwards.... but to my mind, Cheryl Ford is the clear winner. She has significantly better numbers than anyone else. In addition, she's been one of the key factors in moving Detroit from the bottom to the top in the league.

Gwen Jackson and Kara Lawson have also had great years. But unless something changes over the next few weeks, Ford should win hands down.

UPDATE: Barry says LaToya Thomas should be mentioned ahead of Jackson or Lawson. She has come on pretty strong... but I haven't seen the Rockers play enough to know what sort of impact she's having.
At least two of the Mendiola brothers are likely nearing plea deals in the Brendan Butler murder case. Given that something like 95% of all criminal cases end in plea bargains instead of trials, this isn't a terribly surprising result.
Lieberman says the Monarchs are the league's hottest team.

True. And that will make things tough on Minnesota and Seattle. There are 5 teams fighting for 4 seats. Someone will have to go home when the music stops.

And if Seattle does get left out, that will make it harder for LJ to get the MVP nod. It just doesn't seem right giving the MVP to a player on a non-playoff team.
The Aussies say that LJ should absolutely be named MVP.

Michele Timms says Jackson is having a "way better" season than Catchings. Kristi Harrower says there's "something wrong" if anyone else is chosen.

They suggest that anti-foreigner sentiment might lead the voters to pick someone else.

I will wait another couple weeks before making my vote...
Both teams that have made coaching changes this year have improved dramatically since. Sacramento is 6-1 since replacing McHugh with Whisenant, and San Antonio is 3-1 since replacing Harvey with Dailey.

Sacramento now has a very good shot at the playoffs, but San Antonio's season is likely to end early. The Stars are 5 1/2 games out with 8 games to go. "To be realistic, we're not going to make the playoffs unless some of the teams in the West go on a major losing streak," Marie Ferdinand says. "Right now, we know that, so we're more relaxed ... with nothing to lose."

It will be a disappointing result for the Stars. They had made great progress the last couple years in Utah, only to slip backward during their first year in their new home.

"It has been really rough," said Jennifer Azzi. "I don't think any of us expected this type of season. Sometimes when you are in that mode it kind of starts to spiral a little bit. ... I know we are a talented team if you look player for player. Even our bench is the one of the strongest in the league. For whatever reason, whether it's a chemistry issue, we haven't been able to make it work."

Ferdinand thinks the Natalie Williams trade hurt the team. I wonder what Gwen Jackson thinks about that?
Coach McConnell Serio on last night's game: "It was ugly. We turned the ball over too many times. I mean it wasn't fun to watch and it wasn't fun I'm sure for the players to play. But I'm very proud of the way they went out in the second half and responded."

The Philly Inquirer today praises her success. Teresa Edwards, who is older than McConnell Serio, is enjoying the ride. "I'm playing for some young kid, man, but it's cool."

Monday, August 04, 2003

If you like to blame everything on W, this story is for you:

Next year, the Liberty will have to play some of their games at the Radio City Music Hall. Why? Because the Republican National Convention will be in the Garden.
Can the Lynx win if Katie Smith misses every shot she takes and they turn the ball over 22 times?

No. Unless they're playing Phoenix.

It was a brutal game -- after 10 minutes, the score was 4-4. But a win is a win, and Minnesota got solid performances from Burse and Sam to come out ahead.
In the absurdities of war file...
Voepel on the Fever.

Mechelle says that Natalie Williams has been key to Indiana's success this year. But the Fever have two great weaknesses: 1. poor team rebounding, and 2. troubles at point guard.

"Whatever happens, I love this team,'' Says Coach Fortner. "They all work hard, they don't complain, their chemistry is very good. I think you probably don't have that everywhere in this league.''
Candace Parker's knee surgery was a success. Her mom says she'll be dunking again in no time.
Lieberman handicaps the MVP race, and says LJ has a shot.
Team USA won the gold in the FIBA World Championship in Croatia.

Seimone Augustus, who had 18 points in the championship, won MVP honors. Said Augustus: "I've never won anything worldwide, so it's a very big accomplishment for me. With some of the elite players in our country, for us to come out here and win a war like this is just great."
Four games yesterday:

1. The Mystics season has been tragic, and yesterday was another chapter in the same story. They lost by one point in two overtimes to Phoenix.

Holdsclaw didn't play. Jocelyn Penn missed a layup at the end that would have won the game. Says WaPo: "A season full of low points for the Washington Mystics somehow got even worse yesterday."

2. New York ended its losing streak by beating Cleveland. The Liberty got key help from bench players Frohlich, Thorn, and Yamasaki. Phillips had a double double. Cleveland simply collapsed.

3. Connecticut topped Indiana. After a disastrous performance against Washington on Friday, Nykesha Sales came back with a good effort and made some key shots down the stretch. She finished with 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists. Indiana has now slipped into fourth place.

4. Sacramento beat Charlotte. Tangela Smith, Demya Walker, and Kara Lawson had 15 each. But it was the Monarchs' defense that was the key to the victory. Sacramento has now won four in a row. They are finally living up to expectations.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Duke Magazine profiles Coach G (via BlueBlood 33 at the Devil's Den).

Coach G on Duke fans: "It's going to be a good while with the students. It's going to take until the women are dunking for them to come out like they do for the men, I think. That's very exciting for the students, you know. They like to see the dunks on the Sports Center highlights."

Speaking of the Devil's Den: was talking to Barry Uhrman, the Cameron Crazy, last week. He'll have some new interviews soon at Full Court, including one with Coach Laimbeer. Will keep you posted!
The Courant on trading in the WNBA. It says there were lots of phone calls and potential deals before the deadline, but nothing worked out.

The Sun tried to trade for Mercury forward Kayte Christensen, but Phoenix wanted too much. Earlier this year, the Sun tried to trade for Svet, but that didn't work either.

(Svet, incidentally, played about half the game last night. She missed several in a row -- I must have missed it, but I assume she was injured again.)

The Sun also say they might try to trade for the first pick next year so they can get Taurasi. Two words: good luck.
Annika wins her first British Open, the only major she hadn't yet won. It was a close one -- Annika edged Se Ri Pak, Karrie Webb, and Grace Park.
The Courant on Rebecca Lobo. Coach Thibault explains how difficult it was to bench her this year. Lobo says she's getting ready to hang it up.

But she's not too sad about it.

"Things are always up and down on the court. But what matters, what really matters to me in my life, what's really important is what's off the court. It couldn't be better. I'm going to have a life. [Basketball] is important, but it's part of my life. It's not my life."
Two state of the game articles today --

The SF Chron discusses women's pro sports and interviews a bunch of local sports people. It's all pretty doom and gloom. The interviewees are mostly negative, and they're pissed off that more women who have participated in sports don't support pro sports by buying tickets.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution is a touch more optimistic. It suggests signs of improvement, and says that we just need to be patient.
Arizona Central's preview of the Phoenix-Washington game:

"The Diana Taurasi sweepstakes will not be won or lost today.

"A fickle combination of pingpong balls ultimately may allow someone other than the Mercury or Washington Mystics to draft the highly prized University of Connecticut guard.

"However, the lone meeting this season of the WNBA's worst teams feels like a loser-wins-all game."
In the next day rematch, Houston beat San Antonio before a season-high crowd of over 11,000. Swoopes had 22.

Detroit beat Indiana easily. Catchings: 20 points but no help. The Fever guards combined for 7 points. It was a key win for the Shock, who getting close to clinching the East.
LA keeps losing. The Sparks dropped another home game last night to Charlotte. Stinson had 23 and Feaster had 21.

Earlier this week it was reported that Lisa Leslie would be back within a week or so. Now it sounds like she will be gone much longer, perhaps even the whole season. That will dramatically change the league and the playoffs.
Huge win for the Lynx last night over Seattle. Katie Smith made a magical last-second jumper to win the game. Said LJ: "The last two seconds of the game was the only difference. That was it. It was just Katie Smith."

Smith's shot rolled around the rim before finally dropping. "That seemed like forever," said Coach McConnell Serio.

Janell Burse had a huge game inside. 20 points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocks. The Lynx are now 3-0 against Seattle and tied for third place.

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Duke released its nonconference schedule yesterday. They'll play UConn in Hartford on January 3, and they'll play Tennessee in Cameron on January 24.
Last night's games:

1. The Sun shot 15 fo 63 in a loss to Washington. No wonder no one goes to their games.

Says the Courant: it was erratic, discombobulated, sloppy, and ham-fisted.

Says Coach Thibault: "I never would have thought we could have shot the ball that badly."

Sales Sales (2 for 16): "Have you seen my jump shot?"

Asjha Jones continued her late-season comeback and led the Mystics with 14 off the bench.

2. San Antonio prevailed in the intrastate battle with Houston. The Stars have not put together a three-game win streak for the first time. Ferdinand had 18, and both Dydek and Goodson had double-doubles.

3. Phoenix: bad defense, bad offense. Just bad. Another loss.

Penny Taylor had 33 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks for the Rockers. Her 33 broke Cleveland's scoring record. Said Taylor: "That's pretty exciting. It's always good to break records."

4. Coach Adubato was near tears last night after Riley hit a last-second shot to give Detroit the win over New York. "It's a heartbreaking loss for a number of reasons," Adubato said. "We had a chance to win the game. This is a hard one to take."

New York is now 9-13. They still have a shot at the playoffs, and they remain optimistic. But something will need to turn around fast.

Both Deanna Nolan and Crystal Robinson got thrown out of the game for fighting. The Liberty thought it was bullcrap that Robinson got tossed.

Friday, August 01, 2003

(Sort of) funny website of the day.
For the recruiting nerds among you: some scouting reports from Nike Camp.
Jeff Jacobs on Katie Douglas and the incredible personal tragedy she's had to overcome. Now, just just wants to live her dream and play basketball. "Hopefully, I can make a home here and the fans will learn to support me."
Unlike Minnesota, San Antonio is drawing tons of fans despite a fairly disastrous season. It could be partly due to honeymoon effect, but we can hope that the WNBA has found another great women's hoops town.
At home in Minnesota, the Lynx are in the playoff hunt, but no one is coming to games. The Lynx have the second lowest average attendance (Connecticut is worse).

It's partly understandable. The Lynx are the only WNBA team never to make the playoffs. And the last few years (before McConnell Serio took over), the franchise had been moving the wrong direction.

With a new coach and a better record, the franchise should turn around. And women's basketball has gotten very popular at home with the Gophers' success. But that hasn't yet translated to fans at Lynx games.

Minnesota has all-around crappy pro basketball fans. Even though the Wolves are one of the best teams in the NBA and have one of the best few players in the world, no one goes, and those who do go sit silently.

Luckily, the Wolves and Lynx owner Glen Taylor is awesome. He just spent a ton of money to try to make the Wolves a championship contender. Even though the Lynx lose money, he won't consider folding the team. I just home the fans eventually support him in return.
Back in Connecticut, Mike DiMauro criticizes Sue Bird and the spanking bet.

"If losing its wholesomeness is the only way the WNBA is going to attract males 18-35, then perhaps it ought to call off the manhunt."

Sure... but dude, where were you last week? This controversy is so July... move on.
LJ was excited about her big 20-rebound game. "In Australia, I'm 10 feet taller than everybody else, so I've reached (20 rebounds)," Jackson said. "But here, it's like, 'Oh my God.' It's huge."
Coach Cooper was unhappy with the way his guards tried to cover Lawson last night. "We kept telling them to [close the gap on Lawson] when they came to the bench, but you've got to recognize when a shooter's got it going. . It's a sad way to lose a game. It doesn't matter if you're tired or not, you've got to get it done. If you're tired, let us know and we'll get some fresh bodies in to keep up with her."

After the game, Cooper refused to shake Coach Whisenant's hand. Unclear why... something about unreturned phone calls.