Women's Hoops Blog: October 2003

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Friday, October 31, 2003

Shawntinice Polk at the Pac 10 media day yesterday:

"I know if they're double, triple teaming me, I can kick out to my teammates. The only reason I'm out there is to help my team. It's not the spotlight and ""Polkey", "Polkey" "Polkey"," but I'm out there to help my teammates. I pass okay, but I don't pass well. I 've worked on my double teams, putting it on the floor, and dishing out."
Back home, Gophers stars Whalen and McCarville are getting fired up. They are hoping to build on the great international experience they had this summer.

"Both Janel and I learned a lot this summer, and we hope to bring that back to our team," Whalen said.
UConn may be counting on Mel Thomas.

But this weekend Mel is in Durham.
Geno is trying to motivate the Huskies by reminding them about the loss to 'Nova last year and their failure to win the Big East tournament.

"If you're Barbara Turner, and you're really ticked off that your freshman year, you lost the tournament final ... we'll find out. If you're Diana, and you know Sue Bird won four, and you can only win three ... I would venture to say they'll be pretty jacked up for that tournament."

Seems to be working. Says Taurasi: "You always have an edge when you want something that you didn't get."

Thursday, October 30, 2003

The Silver Stars have named Dee Brown as their new head coach.

Brown was a guard in the NBA for 12 years, mostly with the Celtics. He ended with the Magic and stuck around that organization following his retirement. He coached the Orlando Mystic to a 16-16 record last year, but the team moved to Connecticut at the end of the season.
The Big 10 is much more wide open. Penn State, Purdue, and Minnesota could all compete for the conference title. All three had good years last year, and all three have senior superstars ready to dominate the floor.

Mazzante, Wright, and Whalen all have dreams of leading their team into the Final Four.
Predictable preseason picks to win the Pac 10 or the SEC.

The Seattle PI isn't surprised that Stanford was picked ahead of the Huskies: "Along with traffic jams on Seattle-area freeways and television newscasts referring to a minor weather event as a 'storm of the century,' predicting a women's basketball title for Stanford ranks right up there with dog bites man."

Nor was it a surprise to anyone that the Vols are favored in the SEC. Kentucky was picked to finish near the bottom, but with Mickie DeMoss at the healm, the Wildcats could be a force within a few years.
Cleveland fans are still hoping. Still hoping that the Rockers might stick around.

Fans have been circulating petitions of support and also trying to help line up a new buyer, especially one that might keep the team in Cleveland.

But it doesn't look very good. The fate of the team will be decided by the end of next week, and it doesn't sound like anyone is very close to making the commitment.
On the front page of the Detroit News this morning, an article about the difficulties of women's pro sports. (Byline Joanne Gerstner.)

"Nearly 30 years after Title IX opened the door for women to compete in college athletics, the jury is still out on whether a women's pro league can carve out something more than a small niche in the world of multimillion-dollar sports."

The article goes on to discuss the specific hurdles faced by the WNBA:

"The league plays during the summer, typically a tough sell for indoor sports. The league struggles to attract sponsors. A bright spot is the fact that the WNBA has a television contact with ESPN through 2008, a very valuable asset. Fans typically compare the league to the NBA, and thus don't respect the ability of the players."

Gerstner notes some bright spots. She says that the WNBA has some good corporate sponsorship and a solid TV contract through 2008. She also notes that some other pro sports -- especially golf and tennis -- are doing great.

She nonetheless concludes that " the overall impact of women's pro leagues in American culture is minimal."

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Real-life Radio -- from the Times, a feel-good sports story about a kid with Down's Syndrome playing football.
WNBA Draft (Taurasi) lottery to be held December 10. It will be televised at halftime of the Lakers-Spurs game.

Phoenix has a 41% chance of getting the first pick. Washington has the second-best odds at 25.6 percent, followed by San Antonio (16.3), Indiana (7.3), New York (7.3) and Seattle (2.5).

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

We'll know within 10 days what will happen the Cleveland Rockers. It's possible that the team will simply disappear, but David Stern promises that the WNBA will have at least 13 teams next year.
Good news in Durham: Candace Parker had a great time during her Duke visit.
More doping in women's sports. US sprinter Chryste Gaines has tested positive for modafinil, the same stimulant that Kelli White was using.

Gaines and White share the same coach. To my mind, that Gaines also tested positive seems to undermine White's claim that she was legitimately using the substance for a sleep disorder.

As I explained last week, modafinil is not specifically banned, but the doping cops have determined that it is similar enough to specifically banned substances to come within the "related substances" clause.

White's agent says it's "ridiculous" that athletes can be punished for taking something that wasn't banned and that they didn't know was illegal. "Everybody is taking something to be alert and awake. . . . Some people drink five or six cups of coffee, others people take modafinil. They were all under the impression modafinil was okay."

This argument is plausible, if not fully persuasive.
Minnesota had a tumultuous few years with three coaches in three seasons. But somehow, through it all, the program actually improved. The team kept winning, more and more fans kept showing up, and last year the Gophers made the Sweet 16 for the firtst time.

Now they hope to take it to the next level.

Coach Borton is amazed with her team. "I have a lot of respect for every player on this team for hanging in there the last three or four years. I don't know if other teams would've been able to do that. All the players stuck together, and no one transferred. Our team has gotten better from all the perseverance. I give them a lot of credit.''
Several coaches in the Big 10 think this could be the best year ever for their conference.

The Big 10 has never been a flashy or dominant conference. With the exception of Purdue's 1999 title, the conference has had limited postseason success. Only four Big 10 teams have reached the Final Four.

But this year might see a new level of success for the Big 10. Minnesota, Penn State, and Purdue have talented and experienced teams, and the conference has gotten stronger top to bottom.
This is starting to sound like a broken record: another recruiting loss at UConn. Crystal Langhorne, considered the top recruit pursued by UConn, has committed to Maryland.

"It came down to who I wanted to play for," Langhorne said. "It was two totally different programs, and I just couldn’t see myself going to UConn."

Langhorne also said that she just felt comfortable with Maryland Coach Brenda Frese. It seems that maybe she didn't feel so comfortable with Geno.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Just back from smoky SoCal. Good luck to everyone down there...

Out in Storrs, Maria Conlon is getting ready for her last season. She's going to try to enjoy it. "I can’t wait to get started, but I know it’s going to go like this," Conlon said, snapping her fingers, "and it’ll be senior night. That’s just how fast the season goes by."

At times last year, Maria was a liability in the UConn backcourt. But toward the end of the season -- and especially in the championship game -- she played incredibly well.

With Nicole Wolff back from injury, it remains to be seen how Geno will arrange his guard rotation. If Conlon plays like she did in the tournament, and if Wolff is healthy, the Huskies will have a great backcourt.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Big recruiting news today: top-rated center Sylvia Fowles has committed to LSU.

Fowles picked the Tigers over her other two top choices, Tennessee and Florida State.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

In the offseason, champion coach Laimbeer will work as an NBA analyst for ESPN.

On the downside, this could be a step toward coaching in the NBA. On the upside, this could help bring some more exposure to the WNBA.
The doping scandal has spread a little further, as word came out yesterday that another US women's sprinter has been caught using a banned substance. Regina Jacobs, a middle-distance runner, tested positive for THG.
The last year that Cheryl Burnett spent at SMS was tumultuous and unhappy. The last couple years of the Michigan basketball program have been tumultuous and unhappy.

Now Burnett and Michigan have come together, and they're trying to rebuild and move forward together.
K State is still bitter about the upset loss to Notre Dame in the second round last year. The trick is using the emotion as motivation.

Said Laurie Koehn: "I don't think anyone has really forgotten about it and everyone remembers how painful it was to lose that way last season, so everyone's really excited to be back on the floor and on the road back to getting to that point in the season again, and hopefully advancing a little further."

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

At the north end of the Pac 10, the UW Huskies are gearing up despite a number of injuries.

The past year has been crazy -- injuries ended the careers of a couple Huskies, and other players dealth with difficult off-the-court situations. But the team is long on talent, and it could challenge Stanford and Arizon for the Pac 10 crown.
Last year, as a freshman, Shawntinice Polk set or tied 19 records. But her Arizona team, like the rest of the Pac 10, ultimately had a disappointing finish.

She's ready to bust some more heads this year.
The Duke Chronicle tells about Mo Currie's surgery and rehab. Sounds like she's had top of the line treatment and will be back full force for this season.
Leslie wins an award, folks just hate on her more.
Charles Pierce at Slate offers a contrarian take on the doping scandal.

In discussing the possible use of THG by Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi, he wonders what the problem is with using a substance that is not (yet) illegal, not (yet) forbidden by baseball, and not (yet) shown to be harmful. "How can an athlete be punished—except through the cluck-clucking of the moralists of sports radio—for taking something that is neither illegal nor specifically forbidden by the rules of the sport?"

But as Pierce notes, things might work out a little differently for international and Olympic athletes like Marion Jones. International rules, as promulgated by the World Anti-Doping Agency, prohibit specific substances, and they also include a catch-all prohibition of "related substances."

Thus, if it is determined that THG is a substance related to other banned substances, the doping cops can go back, test Marion's urine for THG, and retroactively strip medals.

The "related substances" clause has been a target of frequent criticism. It depends on similarity, but how much similarity is enough? How are athletes supposed to know?

The distinctions often aren't easy to see. Many cold medications contain pseudoephedrine (Sudafed). Sudafed is chemically similar to ephedrine, and (depending on dosage) has some similar performance-enhancing effects. Both pseudoephedrine and ephedrine are structurally similar to amphetamites. There are many related compounds, and it's tough to decide which ones should be banned and which shouldn't.

It's even tougher for athletes to know ahead of time which ones might later be deemed to be "related substances."

As a result of this confusion, the WADA has spent 2 years trying to come up with one huge list of every banned substance. (Sudafed, incidentally, is supposed to be taken off the list, but ephedrine left on.) And the word is that it will drop the "related substances" rule.

But the changes will be of no help to Marion if she tests positive for THG. Because the "related substances" rule was in effect at the time of her races, it will govern.
Seven years ago, the Supreme Court ordered VMI to admit women.

This year, VMI fields its first women's sports team. As the Washington Post reports today, life on the VMI women's soccer squad isn't easy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

A decado ago, Connecticut Public Television and the University of Connecticut embarked on a crazy experiment that has changed women's sports. Believing that they had an untapped and underserved market, they put a few of the women's Huskies games on public TV.

The success has been phenomenal. UConn women's basketball is now the highest rated show on any public TV station in the country.

It's great for CPTV, it's great for the school, and it's great for the fans. Having lived in Connecticuit for a few years, I can attest how awesome it is to be able to watch every single game of your favorite team, even when you can't always make it to the game.

The great coverage enables more fan support, and the fan support has helped make the UConn women's team into one of the most successful institutions in women's sports.

Public television is a great solution to some of the intractable problems that women's sports face. Fans can't follow a team if there's no TV coverage, but if fans don't follow a team, then there won't be TV coverage. Looking to an alternate medium like public television is a smart way out of the catch-22.

I've always wondered why the same thing couldn't work, at least on a smaller scale, in other markets? What about Gophers games in Minnesota or Huskies games in Seattle?

Maybe someday the same model will be put to use elsewhere. But if nothing else, the Huskies will remain on CPTV for years. CPTV and UConn have just signed a big new contract guaranteeing great coverage for years.
A note about the doping scandal (discussed below):

it should of course be remembered that the named athletes may have done nothing wrong. Marion Jones, for example, has been subpoenaed in the tax case. She'll be asked to testify about payments made to BALCO. But even if she did business with BALCO, she may just have purchased their legitimate products.

Indeed, this whole thing might turn out to be hype. Cops always like to hype big busts, especially drug busts.

The folks in the anti-doping community, moreover, are perpetually hysterical. When potential doping infractions become known, they add to the hype, because big busts justify their hysteria.

This might explain some of the over-the-top descriptors in the papers: "international conspiracy," "rocking the entire sports world," "this could go off like a thermonuclear device," etc.

So it's important to take the news with a grain of salt.

Then again, as my governor says, where there's smoke, there's fire. If it turns out that Marion cheated, we can expect her career and her reputation to be largely ruined.
Who would trash Mother Teresa?

Chris Hitchens.
But LJ's arch rival also got some hardware yesterday: Lisa Leslie was named Team Sportswoman of the Year by the WSF.

There were several other awards handed out, and a bunch of women were added to the International Women's Sports Hall of Fame. Check out all the details here.
After her dominance at the World Cup in Russia, LJ added another MVP trophy to her case.
Remember that wackiness last year when Sacred Heart kicked a girl off the team and took away her scholarhip when she got pregnant?

She sued, and yesterday the parties announced a settlement. Terms, of course, were not disclosed.
Yep, the preseason coverage has finally started. As Ted mentioned, there are lots of good stories out there in the local papers right now. As a former point guard, this one on Notre Dame's Sophmore Megan Duffy caught my eye. With Ratay gone and a year of experience under her belt Muffet McGraw will be looking to Duffy to step up and lead the program.

The South Bend Tribune also had this article on sophomore Courtney LaVere. Coach McGraw will alos look to Lavere to be a leader this year as she moves into the strarting line-up. McGraw says she thinks LaVere is ready for the challenge (she actaully says LaVere was probably ready last year and McGraw didn't give her enough of a shot!).

Monday, October 20, 2003

womenscollegehoops.com is now back running full speed, kicking out content.

They've recently run conference previews for the Pac 10, the ACC, the Atlantic 10, and Conference USA. Look for the rest of the major conferences in the days and weeks ahead.
ESPN.com also gives a little love to the Dukies.

The Devils have had a little bad luck this preseason, with some of their players missing practice due to injuries. Coach G said "This has been the worst preseason that we have ever had regarding injuries."

But the big story for Duke isn't who's missing, it's who's back: Mo Currie. Last year, in the Final Four, we saw much of the team break down around Alana. It might have been a whole different story if Mo had been there. This year we'll find out if she'll make the difference.
Local newspapers and websites around the country are beginning to run lots of college season preview stories.

ESPN.com has run several stories over the past week, focused mostly on UConn.

Voepel gushes about Taurasi a little. "Taurasi's game at times certainly can be flashy, breathtaking. But mostly what you see from her is ruthless efficiency: she takes the best shot available, makes the smartest passes."

Melanie Jackson does a bit about Geno, and his confidence. Geno is back bragging about D. Last year he famously quipped: "We got Diana and you don't." We can expect to hear that about a million times over the next six months.

Greg Garber discusses the Husky fans and the truly amazing basketball franchise -- both women's and men's -- that UConn has built.
The current doping scandal may have serious ramifications across the sports world, including the women's sports world.

Even before this latest news, there were some recent issues of doping in women's sports. First, US sprinter Kelli White tested positive for modafinil, a stimulant that White says she was using to treat a sleep disorder.

And earlier this year, after Henin beat Clijsters in the US Open finals, Clijsters's dad suggested that Henin was using banned substances. He didn't offer any evidence to support his claim, and Henin angrily denied the charges.

Last week brought word of a scandal that may affect athletes of both genders in a variety of sports. A Bay Area nutrional supplement company is being investigated for creating and selling a substance known as THG, which is apparently similar to many banned steroids, but which was thought to be undetectable in drug tests.

The company is being investigated by both tax and narcotics authorities. Several prominent athletes have been linked to the company, and as many as 40 have already been subpoenaed. The athletes include people like Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi, as well as Kelli White and fellow track star (and WNBA hopeful) Marion Jones.

It appears that, for now, the athletes are only being asked about the tax aspects of the case. The IRS wants to know what payments they made to the firm so it can determine whether the firm paid fair taxes.

But the answers that the athletes give, and other info found in the continuing investigation, could lead to much graver charges.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Dan Fleser looks at some of the issues facing the Vols this year. The team will not bear much resemblance to last year's squad, so it's anyone's guess how this season will turn out in Tennessee.
In front of 10,000 Gampel fans, UConn had its first public scrimmage yesterday. It's a different world from last year, when nearly everyone on the team was new.

The Huskies will begin the season without freshman center Liz Sherwood, who needs to knee scoping.

Several highly touted recruits also came through Storrs this weekend. Mel Thomas hinted that she's excited about UConn. The others were more coy.
The WNBA Select team made it to the World Cup finals, but lost to the Russian team SGAU Samara 72-86. SGAU was led by Maria Stepanova and Mwadi Mabika.

In the fifth place game, LJ scored an amazing 46 points to lead Canberra past a South Korean team.

Friday, October 17, 2003

WNBA Select lost yesterday, beaten by the WNBA vets playing for other teams. The will advance to the semis anyway.
The Courant said that Houston "is believed to be leaning" toward the Huskies. But the KnoxNews reports that Houston "spoke highly of her stay" in Tennessee.

The Vols are in great shape no matter what happens from here on out. They've already received commitments from a bunch of top players, and they appear to have a good shot at the ultimate prize, Candace Parker.
Despite UConn's occasional recruiting troubles lately, remember that they had probably the best freshman class in the country last year. As the Courant reports today, Barbara Turner and Wilnett Crockett both took awhile to adjust, but both ended up being key to the championship run.

The article also notes that Crystal Langhorne, Charde Houston, and Mel Thomas will be on campus this weekend.
Duke has some big recruiting visits this weekend, as Candice Wiggins and Marissa Coleman visit campus.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Another day, another recruit turns down UConn. Nikki Anosike is going to the Vols.

But as the article notes, and as several Husky fans have emailed to say, UConn still has the inside track on some other top recruits.

Looking at the Blue Star Report, it's hard not to notice the lack of UConn success. But that could all change fast if Geno can grab Langhorne and others.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

WNBA Select won again in Russia, topping Sao Paulo 87-62. Marie Ferdinand led with 21 points.
When oh when will Serena be back?

The August 1 surgery apparently went well, but she's still not sure. "I don't want to say right now. I'm feeling really good. I'm riding a bike. I'm running and doing everything. But I don't want to get everyone's hopes up."
Today the WNBA announced the solution for next year's Olympic problem.

The league will still play 34 games, will still have 8 playoff teams, and all playoff series will still be 2-of-3.

To accomodate the Olympics, the league will shut down for August. They'll then finish up a month late, in the middle of October.

That will put us in conflict with baseball playoffs, so it's not an ideal situation, but I think it's the best thing possible under the circumstances.
Latasha Byears (non)update:

Recall that on August 15 the District Attorney of LA said that it would make a decision within two weeks whether the press charges.

It's been a little more than two weeks. I'm getting a little tired of waiting, plus I have too much free time, so... I called the DA today. Said that I'm a "women's basketball reporter." (Is that true? I think so...)

They said that the case is "still under review."

They wouldn't say anything else. I'll wait a little while, then call again and keep bugging them. If anyone else hears anything, please let me know.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Ok... Sara and Eric Adelson make some good points. What Stephenson said was definitely idiotic.

But she didn't exactly get off scott free. Everyone on tour disagreed strongly. Annika said it was "pathetic." Se Ri Pak said (I'm paraphrasing here) "why don't you come play with me sometime and see how intense I am?" Which was great, because everyone knows that Stephenson isn't even in Pak's league and would get her ass kicked.

What was weirder to me was that no one made any mention of her lesbian remarks. Stephenson said that Asians are bad for the tour, and that got press, and a lot of people reacted. Stephenson also said that lesbians are bad for the tour. I haven't seen anyone say anything about that at all.

Adelson's article doesn't even mention the gay remarks. Where's the outrage about that?

Anyway, the other thing about Stephenson is that she apparently did a lot for the tour back when she was in her prime. Sounds like she's pretty well liked on tour. That might explain why the reaction more subdued than Adelson would have liked.
Eric Adelson wonders why Jan Stephenson has gotten off scott free for her ludicrious and offense comments about Asian golfers in Golf Magazine. He writes, "If a former baseball player called for quotas to limit the number of Hispanic pitchers, he would be vilified. But Stephenson gets words of rebuke from LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw and some tour members, and that's about it...She apologized and continued to play in her weekend tournament."

In his article for ESPN The Magazine, Adelson agrues that part of the reason Stephenson has not been reprimanded is surely because women's golf is a minor sport, but that the more important and central reason behind the lack of punishmen and outrage has to do with the fact that she was attacking Asians. He writes, "In America, verbal attacks on Asians are not condemned nearly as often or as strongly as they should be."

No matter what the reason, Stephenson should be reprimanded by the LPGA. She is an idiot and bad for the sport.
Not too much exciting to report, but here is a nice little piece on Katie Smith, our hometown women's hoops hero!
At least a few UConn fans are getting a little nervous about the Huskies' future.

What is the problem up there? Do recruits think the program and players are arrogant? Do some not want to play for a male coach? Do they not want to be way up in Storrs for the winter? What's up?

The Bergen Record today reports on the sort of thing that might have made a difference to Essence Carson.

"On Carson's visit to Storrs, Huskies' sophomore Barbara Turner, who might have had to battle Carson for playing time, said, 'If you come here, we'll win. But if you don't come here, we'll still win.'

"While this didn't turn off Carson and wasn't the deciding factor, it wasn't exactly the kind of love and admiration Rutgers showered her with."

The article also notes that while Vivian Stringer attended several of Carson's games, Geno only made it to one.
Marie Ferdinand, also in Russia with the WNBA Select team, is awaiting the appointment of a new coach for the Stars. The announcement should come next week.
The World Cup basketball tournament got underway yesterday in Russia.

The US WNBA Select team beat South Korea 86-53. Cheryl Ford had 18 points and 10 boards. Kara Lawson and Michelle Snow added 14 and 13 points, respectively.

In the other group, the Aussie Canberra Capitals crushed Mozambique 102-45. LJ had 26 and 17.
Some fairly surprising recruiting news today: Essence Carson has chosen Rutgers over UConn. It's another loss for the Huskies, who have had a tough year on the recruiting front.

Carson says the educational opportunities were the difference. "Rutgers has a very good music program and I wanted to stay closer to home. After I get my degree from Rutgers, I'd like to get involved in the music production business and I wanted to go to school in this area because it's the media center of the world."

Rutgers also got a verbal from Matee Ajavon, another top recruit.

Monday, October 13, 2003

In the Palm Beach paper, a pretty good analysis of the difficulties of women's pro sports. Nothing here you haven't heard before, but still worth the read.

Val Ackerman is quoted several times. She says that the base of the league's revenue is still women fans in local markets.

Women's leagues, says Val, "don't have the same sorts of television revenues that you would see in the NBA or football or baseball or hockey, most of the local revenue tends to be generated from ticket sales. It's a combination of local ticket sales and local sponsorship that really forms the bulk of the revenues for teams, at least in our league. If there are failings on either of those two fronts, it's going to be very, very difficult to make the team economically viable."

Sunday, October 12, 2003

It's been a bizarre few days on the women's golf tour.

In an interview with Golf Magazine, Aussie veteran Jan Stephenson said that the Asian golfers such as Se Ri Pak and Grace Park are killing the game.

"This is probably going to get me in trouble, but the Asians are killing our tour. Absolutely killing it," she told the magazine. "Their lack of emotion, their refusal to speak English when they can speak English. They rarely speak."

Stephenson went on to say that lesbian golfers were also a problem.

"I used to get teased by the girls that I didn't need a woman problem because I always had a man problem," she said. "They never really bothered me, because they knew I was straight. Society is more open now about gay relationships, but it does hurt the tour. It hurts with sponsors. But if you had two gorgeous girls who were gay, I don't think that would hurt."

Annika called Stephenson's comments "pathetic."

"I totally disagree with what she said. It's sad that it was said, and I enjoy playing with Se Ri [Pak]. All the Asian players have done a lot for the tour and raised the level of golf, which is why we're here. It's pretty much a pathetic comment."

Stephenson has now issued an apology.

Things got weird again today on the course. Sophie Gustafson won the Samsung, but there were two different places in the tournament where it appeared that she should have been assessed penalty strokes.

At one point, she set up to putt, but before she hit the ball, it rolled away. If she had grounded her club, she should have been assessed a penalty. I was watching, and it looked obvious that she had... but she denied it, and the rules officials went with her story.

Annika was getting close to the lead, but shanked one into the water at the end. She finished 3 back.
We're back... not much action in the women's hoops world the last few days. But here is some news about the Olympic roster:

"Missing from the roster, but likely to be among the final 12, are two-time Olympian Sheryl Swoopes and Sue Bird, one of the game's best young guards. Neither was able to commit to a training camp from February to April. The team also is expected to include a college player, and it will be a tough choice between Connecticut's Diana Taurasi and Duke's Alana Beard."

So no, Sue was not snubbed. She and Sheryl probably just couldn't commit because of their injuries.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

I'm on a redeye to DC for a wedding, Sara is heading home to visit grandma. We'll see you Sunday...
Sue Bird snubbed for the Olympic team? Maybe she'll get picked in the next batch.

And she does have that kickass billboard now up in Seattle.
Ted is right. There really isn't much happening in the women's hoops world these days. Kind of a lull.

Seven players were named to the 2004 US National Team today. These seven will be the core of the 2004 Athens Olympic team. The final five players will be named over the next year.

The "core" seven:
Lisa Leslie
Dawn Staley
Tamika Catchings
Shannon Johnson
Delisha Milton-Jones
Katie Smith (Yeah!)
Tina Thompson

The coach will be the the Houston Comets' Van Chancellor.

Seems like a pretty solid group I have to say. Wonder who the other five will be? Will college phenoms like Taurasi & Beard get a shot at a tryout?
Post-mortem on the US Women's soccer team, if you can bear it:

Marc Connelly tells what went wrong against Germany: predictable direct attacks, repetitive passing plays, inexperienced defense, and a too-defensive mindset in the second half.

Jere Longman says that we have come to the end of the Hamm-Chastain-Foudy era. But, sad as it will be to see these women go, US soccer does need to move into the future.

"[W]omen's soccer has grown more sophisticated, and the world has caught up. On Sunday, the United States lost to a German team better skilled with the ball at its feet, more deft and creative with its passes, more technically sound on defense and equally strong in the air. Willpower and intimidation, which once worked like a cudgel for the Americans, proved insufficient weapons against the newly self-assured Germans."

The loss, and the lack of buzz about this year's World Cup, have certainly hurt the chances of a WUSA comeback, says Steven Goff.

"The players will try to rally enough corporate interest to resuscitate the WUSA, or a streamlined version of it. But the cause has been damaged by their failure to repeat as champions and the inability to stir up the same widespread euphoria that helped launch the league after the 1999 World Cup. Without a league, the players will go into a residency program before the Olympics."

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Been taking some time off. Mourning.

Twins lose. Giants lose. A's lose. US women lose. What in hell is going on out there? Who the hell am I supposed to cheer for?

The Vikings, I guess. The Canberra Capitals? Maybe. But I don't even know where Canberra is.

Plus, there's really not a damn thing going on in women's hoops right now. WNBA players are settling in to the off-season, some starting coaching, some heading overseas, some finishing school.

Not much in college going on. Duke gets another recruit. But we're still weeks away from any real action.

So.... sit back. Enjoy some baseball and football. And the third place game in the World Cup.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Crappy crappy day.

Twins eliminated. 3 runs in 3 games. Honestly.

And the US women were eliminated from the World Cup. Germany won 3-0. We just didn't have it, and Germany was nearly perfect in the second half.

Said Coach Heinrichs of Germany's play: "That was perhaps the greatest game ever played in women's soccer." But that was small consolation.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Shannon MacMillan tore her ACL just a few months ago, and she's already back out on the soccer field. Vecsey has her story today.
Barbara Farris is basking in the glow of the championship.

She hopes the exciting finish will generate new interest in the league.

"Why can't we get those people, other than proud fathers, to watch women's basketball?" Farris said. "We've got to somehow find some way to target that audience without making our uniforms any smaller. That's the question we haven't answered yet."
LJ is back home for the WNBL season. She's a national hero down under, and yesterday she received the key to the city of Canberra.

Friday, October 03, 2003

The Rush Limbaugh controversy has now entered Phase 2: the time when folks rush in to defend Rush. Led today by Allen Barra at Slate.

Lots and lots of talk at all the sports blogs about this issue. To be honest, the whole thing doesn't interest me too much.

But there is one general lesson, a reminder of something I've said before: sports reporting (like other reporting) is sometimes influenced by and infected by politics. This has obvious implications for women's sports, where coverage of the game is often affected by the reporter's views on feminism, Title IX, gay rights, etc.

There's no use denying such biases, but at the end of the day, we should get back to the game. The success of women's hoops (or lack thereof) is related to some big societal issues. But the play on the court has its own value, separate from the rest.
Some great news in Sacramento. Unable to get enough of their teams' games on TV, the Maloofs (who own the Kings and Monarchs) have decided to start their own network.

That likely means that folks in the Sacramento area will get to see many or all of the Monarchs' games on TV next year. Something like that could grow the fan base substantially. If it works, perhaps other small- and mid-market teams will follow suit.
Linda Frohlich has begun the off-season routine overseas. She will be sending back reports -- you can check out her monthly column in the Vegas Sun or visit her website.
Fortner left the Fever to pursue other career opportunities.

Apparently that means other coaching jobs. She is looking for work either in the WNBA or the college ranks. San Antonio is one possibility.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

New sports blog on the block: The Bleacher Seat. Looks good.

As good as Off Wing Opinion? Time will tell...
Welcome back, Sara. And no doubt -- this is a good time to be from Minnesota.
Vecsey says the US-Norway women's soccer rivalry is one of the best in sports, but you would hardly know it by the way we made it look easy in yesterday's game. The team seems to be rolling....

"Hamm is under an unfortunate burden because of the publicity mills that have made her seem glamorous and mysterious in addition to skillful. But she deserves all the attention for the way she kept Norway's defense too busy to counterattack last night. She and her teammates made Norway seem like just another opponent, which in this splendid rivalry seemed almost unthinkable."
Some of you have been wondering if I am still around or if everything is ok... I'm still here. I have just been crazy busy working on a huge fundraiser for my organization, Girls Inc. The fundraiser was 2 weeks ago and I have finally cleared a path to my desk and a start thinking about things other than work!

The thing that I am most thrilled about right now is Minnesota sports! It is a dreamtime for us poor, suffering fans from the tundra! The Vikes are kicking butt (although I am convinced they will let us down eventually). The Gopher football team is 6-0. The Twins beat the Yankees in game 1 of the playoffs!! (I don't like the Yankees - I don't like their "we will buy our way into the playoffs mentality") And KG has signed a 5-year extension with the Wolves.

I am most excited about KG because I just love him. He is so fun to watch, but he is also a great personality. He works his tail off, shows his emotions, but still has a sense of humor (plus he is so cute!).

This is a great KG story...Last year when Ted and I were at the Wolves/Rockets game in December, KG was in-bounding the ball at the half court. There was a delay because we were waiting the TV to come back from commercial so KG starts looking around at the fans in the courtside seats behind him. He sees a lady with a box of popcorn, reaches in and starts munching away. It was so cute. The lady was dumbfounded and the crowd erupted with laughter.

Yesterday's press conference proves what a rare treasure KG is in this day and age. It was clear he wants to be in MN and he wants to win a championship here.

Here are a couple of my favorite quotes from the press conference:

"At the end of the day, I'm a Timberwolf," Garnett said. "I bleed blue and green. I'm a loyal person, I don't like to change a lot of things. I like things to be simple. Glen and Kevin knew that I wanted to get this done. That's what we did."

Said Garnett: "I'm happy to know that I'm going to be in Minnesota for the rest of my life. That's a good thing."

Maybe Rush Limbaugh was on drugs. That would explain a lot...
Hundreds attended a memorial service for Althea Gibson yesterday. The funeral is today.
Yet another recruiting loss for UConn: Laura Harper is heading to Maryland.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Yes, yes, someday we will get back to women's basketball...
The Rush Limbaugh madness. Before the Vikings game on Sunday, we had ESPN on. I was in the other room, and heard Sara yell "What?!?" Rush had just said something ridiculous.

Three days later, he has resigned from ESPN.

In the blogosphere, Eric McErlain owns the story. Peter King at SI has the best dissection of how stupid Limbaugh's comments were. King, unlike Limbaugh, actually knows something about McNabb, football, and the sports media.

And really, race and politics aside, why was Limbaugh there in the first place? Last month, before all this controversy, the Sports Nut at Slate trashed Limbaugh-qua-sports commentator.
A huge win for the US women in the World Cup. Abby Wambach scored the only goal of the game as the US topped Norway 1-0.

The American defense was near perfect, not allowing a shot on goal until the 77th minute. Wambach scored with a header off Cat Reddick's free kick in the 24th. That was all they needed.
Marc Connelly on the Coach's plan:

Strategically speaking, Heinrichs will look to send a lineup out on the field that will combine both the quickness and agility that she says will cause Norway difficulty, as well as a powerful unit that will challenge them for every head ball. It could result in a similar starting unit that lined up against Sweden in the opening match of the World Cup. Obviously, Brandi Chastain (broken foot) will not be out there, but besides the insertion of Cat Reddick into the back four, it could look the same.

Lilly, Boxx and Julie Foudy are likely to start in the midfield with Hamm, Parlow and Abby Wambach in front of them. In the back, Joy Fawcett, Kate Sobrero and Reddick appear to be locks. The only question is whether Christie Pearce or Kylie Bivens will get the nod at right back.
Soccer titans collide tonight when the US faces Norway.

Said Coach Heinrichs of the Norwegians: "They're winners. They're strong women. They're hardened women. They believe in themselves. They believe in each other. They believe in their system and their philosophy. I have seen first hand, up close and personal, that Norway will never give up; they'll never quit playing. I have a tremendous amount of respect."
Lobos land Brandi Kimbel. Is New Mexico the best place to play in the west?
Halfway through the season, John Whisenaut was named the Monarchs' temporary coach. He turned the team around and led them to the playoffs.

Rewarding his efforts, the Monarchs named him permanent head coach yesterday. Or rather -- he named himself head coach (he's GM too).