Women's Hoops Blog: May 2004

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Monday, May 31, 2004

The final spot on the USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team will be offered to Yolanda Griffith within the next week.

Having Griffith on the squad provides the U.S. with a much-needed physical force in the paint. Congratulations to Yo!
Jackie Stiles is on the Fire again.

After playing for the now-defunct Portland Fire of the WNBA, the Southwest Missouri State alumnus and 2001 WNBA Rookie of the Year will take the court for the Townsville Fire of Australia's WNBL when that league tips off its next season.
Incoming Tennessee freshman, Alexis Hornbuckle, was arrested and charged with misdemeanor shoplifting.

Hornbuckle is scheduled to appear in Nitro Municipal Court on June 21.

Hornbuckle isn't enrolled at Tennessee yet and isn't subject to the athletic department's policies, a school spokesman said.
During Friday's Fever-Sting game, Indiana's Tamika Catchings was struck in the forehead by an elbow/forearm from Charlotte's Alison Feaster. Catch was on the floor for several minutes (after she was called for the foul). Apparently, Catch was defending Feaster on the play, trying to get the ball.

Tamika's hustle and effort are second to none. ESPN The Magazine commented that her style of play has often caused her injuries, diving for loose balls and sacrificing her body. However, some early reports from Indiana indicate that Feaster used an unnecessary level of force on the play.

As for Catchings, she suffered a mild concussion.
Correction...Lisa Leslie is currently at 1987 rebounds, after her 14 rebounds against Detroit. Thanks to Pilight for the correction.
Sad news for Mercury fans...A League of Our Own is closing.

For those of you not familiar with League, it was THE post-game hangout for the Mercury players and fans. A throwback to the 1920s supper clubs, it was owned by a longtime Mercury season ticketholder, Mimi Rodriguez. League also hosted the karaoke event with Mercury players and fans, game-watching parties for Mercury road games, and numerous other events for Mercury fans and players. Even on Friday night, after making an appearance at the Mercury game, Jen Gillom came to League to give hugs to all of the Mercury fans.

A truly sad event. Best wishes to Mimi and all of the League staff.
Milestone update: Lisa Leslie has surpassed 2,000 rebounds for her WNBA career.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Sunday's games:

Houston avoided its first losing record for the month of May. The Comets defeated the Sacramento Monarchs, 63-57, behind Tina Thompson's monster game.

Of course, one night after calling Ruthie Bolton out on the blog, she explodes for 13 first half points...but was silent in the second half. Today, it was the Monarchs' frontcourt that disappeared, as Tangela Smith and Yolanda Griffith shot 6-21 and DeMya Walker had 7 turnovers. The Monarchs are the biggest disappointment of the entire league...but the team always seems to start the season mired in mediocrity before getting some momentum in the second part of the season. Cannot write the team off just yet...

In the second game, the New York Liberty defeated the Minnesota Lynx on the road, 68-64. Becky Hammon came close to a triple double (9 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists), while Elena Baranova took Nicole Ohlde to school. For the Lynx, Katie Smith turned it on in the second half, finishing with 20 points, but it was a little too late. But 6000 on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend is not a bad attendance figure for the Lynx...

DeTrina White continues to be a beast on the boards for New York, with 10 caroms tonight. She will threaten Cheryl Ford's rookie rebounding record (White was drafted in 2003 and waived by Indiana before ever playing a regular season game, so she still qualifies as a 'rookie'). Oh, White has 38 rebounds in 4 games. Last year, Tamika Whitmore had 122 rebounds in 33 games for the Liberty. And this year, with $80,000+ from the Sparks, Whitmore is contributing 4 rebounds and 5 points (on 32 percent shooting) per game. Nice move, Blaze.
Trail blazer of women's basketball: Q & A with New York Liberty GM, Carol Blazejowski.

I have often criticized Carol Blazejowski for her player personnel decisions. Before this year, her only really good move was trading Carolyn Jones-Young for Tari Phillips (of course, she took advantage of Linda Hargrove, which was very easy to do...see the Nikki Teasley-Ukari Figgs trade). Becky Hammon was assigned to the Liberty, so that does not count.

But this year, Blaze has kept it simple by being smart and forward-thinking. She didn't make an offer to T-Spoon, trying to rebuild the team and not play 4-on-5 on offense. She let Tamika Whitmore and her lack of rebounding and consistency go. Blaze drafted Shameka Christon, building for the future, and took a chance on 5-11 DeTrina White. So far, Blaze has done very well.
In yesterday's nationally televised game, Los Angeles rallied from 12 points down to defeat Detroit, 63-60.

A big win for the Sparks, as Nikki Teasley and Mwadi Mabika led the Sparks down the stretch when Lisa Leslie fouled out. The Sparks start the 2004 season 2-2, but have yet to play at home.

For Detroit, a 1-2 start dampens the hoopla over last year's championship run. It is still early, but the Shock will not surprise anyone this year, as the team was able to do in 2003. Swin Cash had a good game and Cheryl Ford hit the boards, but Deanna Nolan needs to shoot better than 5-18. And Ruth Riley and Elaine Powell were non-factors. So what is ailing Detroit's high-octane offense from last year? Does the team miss Kedra Holland-Corn more than was anticipated? Still, with all five starters back from last year and a deep bench, look for the Shock to rebound and win the Eastern Conference.

And a crowd of 12,000+ in the home opener is a good sign for Detroit. According to Bill Laimbeer, those were all paid tickets. Good news!

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Last night, I was in my usual spot (11th row, behind the bench), as the Phoenix Mercury defeated the Seattle Storm, 84-76.

I cannot stress how great this game was...one of the best WNBA regular season games that I have ever seen.

Diana Taurasi (22 points, 5 assists), Penny Taylor (13 points, 8 rebounds, 6-8 shooting), and Anna DeForge (24 points, 7 rebounds) had great games. Lauren Jackson (20 points, 11 rebounds) and Sue Bird (20 points) had great games for Seattle. Betty Lennox had 13 points and 5 steals for Seattle, but she was abused defensively by Anna DeForge down the stretch. The offense was good for both teams, but so was the defense (with the noted exception). Shots were contested, the play was physical, yet it was still a fluid game...and it was EXCITING.

Penny guarded Jacko for quite a bit in the first half and REALLY made her work for her points. Kayte Christensen and Bobo Tuvic guarded her mostly in the second. Kayte's defense was stellar, not allowing many entrance passes into Lauren. But when Lauren did get the ball, she was amazing, hitting beautiful 15' fadeaway jumpers from the baseline.

In the first half, Bird and Taurasi were playing "anything you can do, I can do better." A Taurasi three was followed a rainbow three from Bird. Taurasi would hit fadeaway jumpers in the lane, while Bird would split two defenders, drive to the hoop and finish with her left hand.

The reason Phoenix won this game was because of Carrie Graf's coaching. Graf coached Jacko in Canberra and on national teams, and she is very familiar with her game. She was able to bother Lauren by using a combination of players to be physical with Lauren from the back, while throwing arms across her front to deny entry passes.

Just a great game...

Bridget Pettis, Jennifer Gillom, and Tonya Edwards were in attendance. I also got to meet and chat with Taurasi's parents and sister four times. They sat in our section. Her mom was so bubbly and excited (she said they drove 5 hours to get to the game...at about 90 miles per hour!).
So what is going on with Alana Beard? Her shooting percentage is awful, and her defense, which was incredible against Charlotte and Indiana, was below average against Los Angeles and Minnesota.

First, according to a few inside observers, Michael Adams is not coaching well at all. Chamique Holdsclaw has basically decided Adams does not know the women's game, and Claw is taking the game into her own hands. That leaves the rest of the team to fend for themselves. Alana is FORCING the action instead of letting the game come to her. This has led to some ill-advised shots that are very low percentage ones.

Second, Alana is afraid to slash because she has been called for a few offensive fouls. She is settling for her outside shot, which is the weakest part of her game. Usually she develops confidence in her outside shot by starting out slashing/driving. Without that part of the game, she has to rely on her signficantly weaker outside shooting. This also makes Alana much easier to defend, which limits Washington's ability to score in the halfcourt.

Finally, the groin injury that hampered her in the ACC and NCAA Tournaments was re-aggravated during the preseason. Beard shot nearly 41% from three during the ACC season. After her groin injury flared up, her postseason shooting percentages (from beyond the arc, especially) plummeted. In the preseason, the injury flared up again.

I have no doubt Beard will be a great WNBA player, but she really should take off a few weeks to let her groin injury heal properly. And watching a few WNBA games from the sidelines would benefit her a lot as far as learning not to force shots and to take smart shots within the flow of the offense. By contrast, this is the one area that has allowed Diana Taurasi to emerge not just as the overwhelming favorite for Rookie of the Year, but also for Most Valuable Player of the entire league.
Friday night's action...

Charlotte used a big second half run to destroy Indiana, 63-41. Tammy Sutton-Brown led the Sting with 16 points, 7 rebounds, 5 blocks, and 3 steals. Tamika Catchings had 15 points and 8 rebounds, but only shot 6-17. Catch left the game with about one minute to go, after taking an elbow from Allison Feaster. The Fever set a franchise record law for points in a game and points in a half, after scoring only 12 points in the second half.

San Antonio defeated Sacramento, 73-62, behind four players in double figures, including recently-activated LaToya Thomas. Yolanda Griffith had her usual stellar performance (19 points, 9 rebounds, 6 steals), but Sacramento's outside shooting woes continue. Keeping Ruthie Bolton, Edna Campbell, and Lady Grooms has not help the Monarchs in that regard, as none can play more than 22 minutes per game.

Minnesota beat a struggling Washington team, 73-62. Katie Smith had a monster game, with 28 points. Katie's nickname has been "The Franchise" for most of her basketball career, but Andrea Lloyd-Curry has come up with a new one: "Vanilla Ice." Nicole Ohlde had another solid game, with 12 points and 6 rebounds, solidifying her spot as the second-best rookie in the class. For the Mystics, Chamique Holdsclaw had 16 points, but disappeared for large stretches. Chasity Melvin is a no-show, and Alana Beard is struggling (more on that later). And Michael Adams' lack of experience with the women's game is starting to upset Holdsclaw.

Phoenix defeated Seattle, 84-76, in one of the most entertaining games that I have ever seen. More on that game later.

We interrupt the guest blogging for one quick post -- we had second-row seats last night for the Lynx home opener (thanks to Shelley for hooking us up), and we got to see the win over Washington. Some thoughts:

Smith: she was the toughest and most aggressive player on the court by a mile. She always leads with an elbow.

Holdsclaw: some jaw-dropping moves and amazing baskets both inside and out. But she disappeared for large stretches, and she still seems to have disdain for the idea of team play.

Butts: the hero of the game. Not a huge line, but she made the key plays at crucial times -- three-pointers, a take for a foul, an assist, a block.

Beard: a good, but not yet dominant defender. Her outside shots weren't close. Probably needs to slash more, but it's tough getting calls as a rookie.

Ohlde: impressive. A handful of mistakes, but looks like she's been out there for years.

Dales-Schuman: working her butt off to get back in the starting line-up. Scored a bunch of times to get her team back in it, but then just kept shooting. And shooting. And shooting. Still, at least she had some energy.

Hayden: two fouls in her first 10 seconds of WNBA play. The whole Lynx bench was cracking up.

Miller: still needs a new haircut (lose the bangs).

Svet: watching from a suite. Thanks for coming.

Crowd: small but fairly energetic. A few "who needs Whalen" signs.

Back to Barry; see you Tuesday.

Friday, May 28, 2004

More comments from the Blog mailbag:

Yes, the WNBA needs to extend its season -- its PRESEASON.

These teams need at least three weeks to practice together before opening week. As it is, the early games are as bad as the usual-suspects WNBA critics say they are....

Absolutely. Start the games in June and continue them through the end of September. You can schedule as many as you can on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Eliminate back-to-back games since there are no charters lights. You can still fit in 40 games.
From the Blog mailbag:

They should sign Cathy Joens (California kid) instead of giving Ticha
emergency shooting lessons

The two guard position is one of the easiest ones to fill because there are so many available (in contrast to point guards and centers. Joens had some good games with the Liberty, but she was cut. Some question her athleticism, but my Lib friends assured me that Joens deserved a roster spot over Erin Thorn.

The Monarchs re-signed Edna Campbell, Lady Grooms, and Ruthie Bolton. All three have been tremendously loyal to the franchise (and Grooms and Bolton have been there forever), but lets face it...none of the three is likely to score more than seven points per game on the season. The Monarchs should have made a trade for a younger shooting guard (remember Anna DeForge?), but they did not.

Joens would not be a bad pick up. And she is in much better shape than Guiliana Mendiola.
The worst has been confirmed...Danielle Green has lost her left arm in Iraq. A military police officer in Iraq, Greenwas guarding a police station when she was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. She is being treated in Germany and will be flown to Washington for more treatment.

Her husband, Willie Byrd, said Green is already working on writing with her right hand and planning the next chapter in her life. "If there's any way physically possible, she's not going to sit here at this house," Byrd said. "She's going to do something. That's her. I've never seen anybody like her."
Previewing tonight's Mercury-Storm game, the Arizona Republic has an article about the challenged posed by Lauren Jackson.

The good news is that it isn't just the Mercury. Lauren Jackson poses a problem for everyone. She is simply amazing.
Danielle Green, a member of the University of Notre Dame women's basketball team from 1995-2000, has been injured while serving with the U.S. army in Iraq. Unconfirmed media reports stated that Green lost part of her arm in the attack.

Please keep Danielle and her family in your thoughts.
Last year, Phoenix shocked everyone by beating Detroit at The Palace. Last night, the Connecticut Sun pulled off a similar feat, defeating the LA Sparks, 82-73.

A perspective from a Sun fan in attendance can be found here.

As for my thoughts, Katie Douglas has blossomed since the departure of Shannon Johnson. She is shooting 58% from three and is taking more shots, both good signs. For the Sun to have more victories, Nykesha Sales will need to play like she did last night, rather than shooting 38% from the floor as she is on the season. Taj McWilliams-Franklin is one of my favorite players...a true blue collar worker in the post who uses her court savvy and good body positioning to be effective against more highly-regarded post players.

And lets here it for Lindsay Whalen, who had 10 points and 7 assists last night after struggling mightily during her first few games. Whalen is playing the point full-time and was going to go through an adjustment period. Hopefully last night's game gives her more confidence.

As for Los Angeles, the Sparks have never been great defensively. But in three games this year, they have yet to hold an opponent below 79 points. Nikki Teasley is not a good defender, while Tamecka Dixon is an average one. But what is hurting Los Angeles is that DeLisha Milton's mobility has been severely hampered by the torn ACL. Milton can defend anyone in the post, but her length and athleticism allows her to defend small forwards as well. She cannot do that this year. Cheese or no cheese, Milton is going to have to have surgery at some point. And if the Sparks cannot figure a way to become a better defensive unit, then their chances of regaining the WNBA title are slim to none.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

The Monarchs need more perimeter scoring. Edna Campbell has yet to score this season. Ticha Penicheiro is a combined 6 of 18 for 15 points. Kara Lawson has been hampered by a sore back, and Ruthie Bolton has been coping with a sprained right foot.

Glad the Monarchs finally realized they needed help on the perimeter. I wonder why haven't they offered one of their posts for a perimeter scorer...
An ugly game in San Antonio, as the Silver Stars defeated the Minnesota Lynx, 56-44. For most of the game, the Lynx had more turnovers than baskets, and the team only scored 17 points in the first half. And the Lynx shot 0-15 from three. Ouch...thank goodness that game wasn't nationally televised!

The bright side was that Margo Dydek finally showed up for San Antonio. Large Marge had 15 points, 9 blocks, and 6 rebounds, while forcing Lynx rookie Nicole Ohlde into 6-18 shooting from the floor. Ferdinand led the Silver Stars with 17 points.

The Lynx finished the season-opening road trip with a record of 1-2. Hopefully, all of the attention the Whalen issue has had in Minnesota will force people to come out for the Lynx' home opener.
The Liberty sent a message, with a resounding 64-52 win over the Detroit Shock last night. The Liberty had 5 players in double figures, while only Cheryl Ford could manage double figures for the Shock (12 points, 14 rebounds). Swin Cash had a forgettable game with 9 turnovers.

Another Lib article here.

Kill Bill worked! And Coach Laimbeer had fun with it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

WNBA President Val Ackerman reads the ESPN message boards, says there will be 14 teams by 2006, and believes the "This is Who I Am" campaign appeals to both men and families and gives fans a glimpse of "what [the] players represent as people."

Uh, Val, you might want to rethink your comments about the marketing campaign. What the players represent as people? Does Lisa Leslie represent a blue tick?
As I mentioned earlier, NYL Fanatic has come up with that great photo for the Liberty game against the Shock tonight: Kill Bill, No. 25. Also for tonight's game, the New York Post has an article about the retooled Liberty. A snippet from the article:

Gone are Weatherspoon's intensity and Whitmore's dominating inside presence, yet the team is virtually unchanged everywhere else.

Dominating inside presence? Certainly not on the Liberty. Tari Phillips was the only dominating inside presence on that team. This year, however, Elena Baranova appears to have abandoned her disdain for the non-European game and is averaging a double-double. Rookie DeTrina White, whose height and game are very similar to Latasha Byears and Marrita Porter, is averaging 10 rebounds per game. So far, Whitmore is not missed by the team...or the fans.
Last night's games: Los Angeles trounced Washington, 95-79, while Houston stopped a late Connecticut rally to beat the Sun, 68-57.

At the Phone Booth, the Mystics ran into a Sparks squad reeling from its opening game blowout loss to Seattle, where they were tossed around like a rag doll. For the Mystics, Chamique Holdsclaw had another great game, but she got little help from the other starters. Alana Beard started out hot in the first half, with 8 points and 5 rebounds, but struggled mightily with her shot in the second half. Her clamp-down defense (which forced Andrea Stinson and Tamika Catchings to shoot a combined 9-24) ran into Mwadi Mabika and her ability to elevate. It didn't help that two early fouls on Beard were later shown to be clean blocks on the replays. Considering the quality of opponents she has faced in her first 3 games (Stinson, Catchings, and Mabika), Beard's defense has been second to none. But Beard's shooting needs to improve, as she is not playing her best basketball right now (25% is not going to cut it no matter how good her defense is). As for the other Mystics starters, Coco Miller has been a no-show all season; Tamicha Jackson is proving that her stint with the Mercury was clearly indicative of her style (one great game surrounding by four bad ones); and Chasity Melvin is still not on the same page as the rest of the team, having arrived very late to training camp. Last night, Aiysha Smith stepped up against the Sparks frontcourt, as she did last season as well. Keisha Brown also had double-digits off the bench. But if Washington's starting lineup does not begin to click offensively, Michael Adams will have to make changes to avoid having the Mystics end up at the basement of the Eastern Conference...again.

For the Sparks, Mwadi Mabika and DeLisha Milton-Jones scored 20 points apiece. Lisa Leslie contributed 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Nikki Teasley had 14 points and 10 assists. Tamika Whitmore, to the shock of Liberty fans, had Some Mystics fans wonder whether the organization made a mistake by taking Stacey Dales-Schuman over Teasley in the 2002 draft. While Teasley would have been a vast improvement over Annie Burgess, she is able to play her best because of the quality of the Sparks starting lineup (the other four have all been All-Stars) and the quality of coaching (Michael Cooper). Teasley would have been good for Washington, but she would not be at the level she is today. On other hand, the Mystics' failure to draft Michelle Snow in 2002...oh, no need to bring that up again! :)

As for the Comets-Sun game, it is amazing what having Michelle Snow (11 points, 8 rebounds) and her presence in the paint back will do for the team. Sheryl Swoopes and Tina Thompson led the way in scoring. Felicia Ragland also had a very good game after a few subpar efforts. But until Gordana Grubin arrives, the point guard position will be a big question mark for the Comets.

Regarding the Sun, 3800 is not a particularly great crowd. But remember...the Sun don't need as many fans to make money, with the casinos there. Still, as much as Mike Thibault states that the team is not menat to be "UConn Huskies II: The Pro Version," the fans in Connecticut are much more likely to show up for Sun games against Seattle, Phoenix, Detroit, and Minnesota than other teams (though Los Angeles and New York do draw nice crowds). But why aren't the fans showing up for Ashja Jones and Nykesha Sales? To some, Sales is part of the "old guard" (as one UConn fan put it)...the group that created the initial national interest that generated a large fan base. Sue Bird and her progeny are part of the "new guard," who took the UConn fan base to a different level. Yes, Ashja Jones was a part of "new guard," but Diana Taurasi, Swin Cash, Sue Bird, and Svetlana Abrosimova are far and away the group's most popular members.

Solution? Connecticut either needs to make a trade for a wildly popular member of the UConn new guard (not likely to happen if Abrosimova does not come back healthy) or draft a big-time, non-UConn star who will attract fans. Seimone Augustus, anyone? Of course, if Whalen develops, she could be that player. And hopefully having the All Star game in 2005 will help.
The 16-team tournament field for the 2004 Preseason WNIT is incomplete, but Arizona, Duke, St. Mary's, Bowling Green and Ohio State have been confirmed.
Tidbits from Shockland:

- Karl Malone gave Cheryl Ford goals of 10 points and 15 rebounds for the season opener. She exceeded those goals with 21 points and 22 rebounds.
- The Shock were honored by President Bush at the White House this week (and team members from last year attended as well).
- Chandi Jones' nickname is 'Bink.'

From the WNBA message boards, NYL Fanatic has come up with a photo for the Liberty game against the Shock tonight: Kill Bill, No. 25.
Lauren Ervin, who left Kansas after her rookie season, will be attending UNLV.

Ervin has a checkered past, but she was one of the top five players in the high school class of 2003. She should be a big star at UNLV and will make the Mountain West that much more competitive. Now, if only the NCAA Selection Committee would take notice of the Mountain West...

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

George Shinn, majority owner of the NBA's New Orleans Hornets, has interviewed Michael Cooper as a possible candidate for the Hornets' coaching vacancy.

Cooper has done a marvelous job with the Sparks. He has previously indicated that he did not want a job in the NBA, but that things might be different in the future. Personally, if Cooper does have aspirations for coaching in the NBA, he can surely find a better job than the Hornets.

But this raises an interesting question. WNBA teams are so eager to hire head coaches with NBA experience, whether as former coaches or players. Are they willing to pass over female candidates with experience in women's basketball (either collegiately or international) for people with NBA ties (even without head coaching experience or experience coaching women) who may only be using the WNBA as a leaping point to get to the NBA? Cooper clearly has not used the WNBA to further NBA coaching aspirations. He was an assistant coach for the Sparks under Orlando Woolridge in 1999, and he is in his 5th season as head coach of the Sparks. His commitment to the league is unquestioned, and his promotional efforts for the league during the offseason have been tremendous. But given that so many individuals with NBA ties have been hired recently, it is certainly understandable that there are going to be questions about what their future intentions are...
The WNBA Power Rankings are here! Detroit tops the list, followed by Seattle.

Speaking of the Storm, the team is averaging over 90 points per game. Only one WNBA team has averaged over 77 points per game: the 2000 Houston Comets, at 77.3 points per game (of course, it helps when your team has Cynthia Cooper, Janeth Arcain, Sheryl Swoopes, and Tina Thompson). Seattle has Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson, the best point guard-post combination in the league. But the team added Betty Lennox in the dispersal draft and Sheri Sam via a trade with Minnesota, giving the team much-needed scoring from the wing. Lennox, who was the 2000 WNBA Rookie of the Year, has suffered through a hip injury, a blow-up with Brian Agler, and the reputation (a well-deserved one, I might add) for unconsciously jacking up shots. She has gone from Minnesota to Miami to Cleveland to Seattle. Anne Donovan is not a great player personnel evaluator or a good drafter (see her 2001 draft with Charlotte), but she is a great coach with Xs and Os and has a great ability to maximize her players' potential. If Lennox can continue on her torrid pace (19.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 53% shooting), Seattle is going to be in the WNBA Finals.
In WNBA action tonight, Houston faces the Sun in Uncasville. Whalen's performance on Saturday was forgettable, and she has a chance to redeem herself. The Sun are going through an adjustment period, as five rookies are on the team. However, Nykesha Sales, Katie Douglas, Taj McWilliams-Franklin, and Wendy Palmer are all veterans...and they need to be on the same page offensively and defensively. If they cannot be, then it is time for a trade (Katie Douglas being the most likely to go) to rebuild for next year (the Sun most certainly will be a part of the Seimone Augustus sweepstakes, should the LSU rising junior graduate early, as is anticipated). Adding Augustus and another first round pick (via a trade for Douglas) such as Rutgers' Cappie Pondexter, TCU's Sandora Irvin, or Minnesota's Janel McCarville would help a great deal. For Houston, Michelle Snow is back, giving Houston a much more athletic presence in the middle than Tiffani Johnson. Hopefully, Snow can take some of the scoring load off of Tina Thompson and Sheryl Swoopes. Then again, Van Chancellor does not frequently run plays for his post players in the post, so Snow better be prepared to rebound the misses by the Houston backcourt. Gordana Grubin is sorely needed, as Felicia Ragland is not capable of running the offense and Kedra Holland-Corn is better suited to the two.

In the other game, Los Angeles tries to atone for the shellacking Seattle gave the Sparks when the team travels to Washington to take on the Mystics. Alana Beard going up against Mwadi Mabika? An exciting matchup! Chasity Melvin needs to step up her offensive production and defensive intensity for the Mystics to have a chance. And yet another look at DeLisha Milton and her non-surgical ACL treatment (the cheese!)...

Monday, May 24, 2004

Over at Full Court Press, Clay Kallam has some news and notes from the first weekend. Clay has a very interesting comment:

"Weatherspoon and Whitmore left N.Y., which looks better, and land in L.A., which looks worse. Coincidence?"

It may be a bit premature to make a final assessment, but New York does look better, and Los Angeles does not. Weatherspoon forced the Liberty to play 4-on-5 the past few years, and her defense, while good, was overrated (and Vickie Johnson's defense is underrated). Carol Blazejowski made a tough call on a fan favorite, but she made the best business decision possible in not bringing Weatherspoon back. As for Whitmore, she was never a fan of rebounding and really wanted to be the show on offense, which was not going to happen in New York. And if Whitmore thinks she will be the show in Los Angeles, she is sorely mistaken.
Kris Gardner of KCOH in Houston has a great article on what the WNBA needs to change.

In short, Gardner recommends:
- Cut out selling sex to attract male fans; to get male fans, focus on marketing to dads whose daughters admire the players and play (or want to play) basketball
- Do not ignore the senior citizens (especially female senior citizens who were denied athletic opportunities in their youth)
- Market the product: basketball. As Gardner says, "Display the spin dribbles; the no-look passes; and the fast breaks instead of players swinging back in forth in hammocks or leaning against sports cars."

Gardner is correct on all counts. I would add a few other points. If women supported the WNBA, the league would be thriving...and attracting the male demographic would not be as necessary. Yet women (of all ages) are not supporting the league on a consistent basis. Marketing needs to focus on women of all ages, not just men. Another point is not to stifle the star quality of players. Let the players showcase their personalities more, both on and off the court.
The 2004 State Farm Tip-Off will be held on November 14, 2004. Texas is hosting the event. The matchups will be Texas vs. Penn State and LSU vs. Baylor.

Baylor should be a preseason top 10 team, while LSU could be preseason #1. Texas is a top 5 team. Penn State? Look, without Kelly Mazznate and Jess Brungo, Penn State was going to struggle. Add in the loss of Recina Russell, who recently announced she was transferring, and Penn State could be in dire straits next season. When the mask falls off, it really leaves a thud, eh Rene?

Baylor has two great post players, Steffanie Blackmon and Sophia Young. Young is undersized, but incredibly athletic and tenacious. LSU returns Temeka Johnson and preseason POY candidate, Semione Augustus, while adding a top notch recruiting class that includes Sylvia Fowles in the post. Texas loses Stacey Stephens, but the starting lineup will be Nina Norman, Jaime Carey, Kala Bowers, Heather Schreiber, and Tiffany Jackson...that starting lineup is one of the three best in the nation. As for Penn State, the Lady Lions will have to look at Tanisha Wright and uber-athletic freshman Amber Bland for scoring. Might be a long season in Happy Valley...
The Arizona newspapers have provided excellent coverage of Diana Taurasi and the Phoenix Mercury. Now, there is a new feature on the Arizona Rebpublic's web site entitled "Taurasi Time," which tracks her season highs in various statistical categories, as well as providing some background about Diana's impact in Phoenix.

Another article in the Arizona Republic...the Mohegan Sun Casino, its no sport book, and its off limits policy regarding the CT Sun players.

Indiana Fever attendance was about 6,400 last night. Not only is that bad for a Sunday game, it was bad for the Washington-Indiana matchup, which I discussed in one of my May 23 blog entries. Coupled with Indiana's 8,000 opening night crowd, the Fever looks to be (along with Charlotte) one of the Eastern Conference franchises that looks to be in trouble. In a basketball frenzy state like Indiana, this is unacceptable. Time to retool the marketing department...

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Right now, the WNBA page on ESPN.com has this up:

"2003 MVP Tina Thompson topped a couple of records Sunday night in her Comets' 68-62 loss to the New York Liberty, sinking a career-high 35 points and scoring 56.5 percent of her team's points -- a WNBA single-game mark."

This may not seem like a big deal, but ESPN can barely show a WNBA highlight. On Saturday, Diana Taurasi had at least 5 plays worthy of showing, but somehow the WNBA cannot crack SportsCenter, even though ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2 (all owned by Disney) carry WNBA games and already have the footage. Now, ESPN.com cannot even bother to get the information correct...Lauren Jackson was the 2003 MVP, while Ruth Riley was the MVP of the 2003 WNBA Finals.

This isn't the first time ESPN has done this. Heck, ESPN even employs game announcers (Mark Jones and Ann Meyers) who constantly referred to Lisa Leslie as the 2002 MVP (Sheryl Swoopes was the 2002 MVP; Lisa Leslie was the 2002 Finals MVP) during games last season.

Look, we are grateful to ESPN for showing WNBA games and for the coverage. We wish it was more, especially when SportsCenter will show every baseball game played that night, but cannot show 30 seconds of WNBA highlights...and there have been plenty of highlights so far this season. But there is no excuse for inaccurate information or blatant errors.
RobC agreed with me regarding the lack of offense, also commenting that the lack of consistent scoring is a reason for low attendance. Rob's other suggestions:

- 48 minute games, instead of 40
- 50 game season

I agree about the length of the games. I also believe the games should have quarters. As it stands, the WNBA rules are so similar to the collegiate game. 48 minute games with 12 minute quarters would be a good start to differentiating the two.

As for the season length, the WNBA executives have previously commented it is too difficult to have a much longer season as football will eat into attendance and will provide media competition. But is there that much crossover between the fan bases? Personally, the league could expand to 40 games and eliminate back-to-back games while still playing between May and September.

And the league REALLY should look into scheduling as many games as possible on Friday and Saturday evenings and Saturday and Sunday afternoons. The weekday games do not typically draw well in most cities.
In the second game, Chamique Holdsclaw's basket with ten seconds remaining was the difference-maker, as Washington defeated Indiana, 68-67. Claw had 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Alana Beard had 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. Deanna Jackson led Indiana with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while Tamika Catchings added 15 points.

Indiana-Washington has become one of the league's top three matchups. The games have been very exciting, featuring tremendous athleticism and great basketball. Yet what continues to baffle me is the inability of WNBA teams to consistently score over 70 points per game. Washington led this game 27-13 with about 9:00 to go in the first half...yet still could only score 41 points in the remaining 29 minutes. Both teams feature players that are incredibly talented offensively. Yes, the preseason is short, but even by the end of the season, the number do not improve dramatically. The league averaged approximately 67.5 points per game last season, which was an improvement. But this is the professional game...teams should be putting up much bigger numbers with the talent this league has. Eliminating back-to-back games when there are no charter flights would certainly help. But what needs to happen is that team management needs to meet with players' agents and try to arrange for player to play in Europe, Israel, Australia, etc., TOGETHER during the offseason.
Sunday's action:

New York defeated Houston 68-62 in the Liberty's home opener (only 13,000? come on, Lib fans!). Becky Hammon had 22 points, Elena Baranova had a double-double, and rookie DeTrina White ("Tot without the Pot" - thanks, BCBG25, for the nickname) is averaging 10 rebounds per game. Tina Thompson had 35 points in the loss, while Swoopes had 15 points on 5-for-18 shooting.

It is readily apparent that Houston needs Michelle Snow back (her mother passed away, funeral was this weekend). It is also apparent that unless both Tina Thompson and Sheryl Swoopes have incredible games, Houston cannot win, because Felicia Ragland, Kedra Holland-Corn, Dominique Canty, and Sheila Lambert are not contributing. Time for Gordana Grubin to return...
I am not a fan of the WNBA's "This is Who I Am" ad campaign, but at least this year, the advertisements show the players' names and actually show them playing basketball.

But this photo nearly knocked me out of my chair! Wow, Alana! (Note - hit refresh if the photo does not immediately pull up)
Cheryl Ford's monster night (21 points and 22 rebounds) was notable for another reason...Ford broke the WNBA record for offensive rebounds in a game wiht 12 (breaking Yolanda Griffith's record of 11).

The attendance from last night looks good. For home openers, Washington had over 18,000; Sacramento had over 17,000; San Antonio had over 10,500; Connecticut had 9,341, which is a sellout; and Seattle had over 9,600 (which was a sellout of the entire lower bowl). I hope at least 90% of the fans in attendance involved tickets sold, not giveaways. For the Phoenix Mercury's home opener, there were over 10,400 in attendance, with at least 90% being tickets bought and paid for. Remember, a WNBA franchise can make money if 8,000 tickets are sold for every game (with the exception of Connecticut...the Sun can turn a profit with significantly less attendance if the people there spend money at the casino).
My first blog entry as a guest blogger!

In the first nationally televised game of the 2004 WNBA season, the Phoenix Mercury defeated the Connecticut Sun in Uncasville. Diana Taurasi spent the first 17 minutes of the game scoreless...then promptly went off. Taurasi finished with 26 points, hitting 5 three-point baskets and had a monster block on Katie Douglas. But the move that brought me (and the other Mercury fans watching the game at A League of Our Own jump out of our seats was a fadeaway, 15-foot jumper from the baseline. You just don't see that move in women's hoops.

In other WNBA games from Saturday, the Charlotte Sting beat the Washington Mystics, 71-68. Five players for the Sting were in double-figures, including Allison Feaster who just flew over from finishing up her league games in France. Chamique Holdsclaw had 25 points in the loss. Amazingly, Tamicha Jackson made 8-11 shots for Washington! Alana Beard only had 10 points in her debut (on 3-10 shooting), but she went 1-2 from three (and the miss was a heave at the buzzer). But defensively, Beard dominated the game with 4 blocks and 2 steals, reaking havoc on Dawn Staley, Andrea Stinson, and Nicole Powell, whose rookie season has produced mixed results.

Detroit beat San Antonio, 73-60. Cheryl Ford WENT OFF, with 21 points and 22 rebounds!

Good news for Ted and Sara...Minnesota spoiled Sacramento's home opener, as the Lynx defeated the Monarchs, 69-61.

In the final game of Saturday night, the Seattle Storm opened up a can of whoop ass on the Los Angeles Sparks. The Storm tied a franchise high in points, by routing LA, 93-67.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

We have been slacking on the blogging lately (or should I say I've been slacking lately. Sara's been slacking since the beginning.)

And tomorrow we start driving cross country, absurdly moving from the promised land back to the desert.

So we are turning over the keys to Barry Urhman, who will fill in as guest blogger over the next week. We've posted some of Barry's stuff before and linked to his articles at Full Court. I'd be surprised if there are 10 people in the country who know as much about women's hoops as Barry, so we're extremely thankful that he's able to fill in for us.

We'll be back online around Memorial Day. Go Lynx, Go Wolves!
Life is cruel -- we didn't even get to see the game today. Had to pack up the TV this morning, and none of our friends was home to have us over for Connecticut-Phoenix.

Sounds like it was a pretty fun game -- Diana isn't struggling to adjust.
Good article on the Storm site from Kevin Pelton about the Lynx and Whalen. "No WNBA franchise has ever faced a more difficult scenario than the Minnesota Lynx did this off-season, through no fault of its own." True that.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Mel Greenberg had this nice article today about how the rookies can brighten the league's prospects.

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like things got off to a very good start last night. A good crowd came out in Phoenix to get a first look at Diana, but neither Seattle nor Houston drew very well for their openers. The Comets had only about 7,000 in attendance, 2,000 fewer than last year's opener.

Sheryl Swoopes, perhaps disappointed about the poor performance on the court, had some sad words about the WNBA after the game.

"The first two or three years looked very promising," she said. "People were excited about the opportunity to see women's professional basketball. We felt it was something that was going to be around for a while. For whatever reason, it hasn't happened." Swoopes said she doesn't know what more could have been done.

The league probably should have found some way to have the opener on TV so that the country would actually know that the season is getting going. There has been a lot of publicity for Saturday's Sun-Mercury game, so much that some people (myself included) hardly realized that things were getting rolling a couple days before that.

I think the league should have found some way open with Saturday's game (or at least some nationally-televised game).

I'm hoping that things will pick up. Every team will do better when Diana comes to town. Tomorrow should be a good start.
Two new Minnesota sites: Sue Short runs this Lynx info site, and also this discussion board. Thanks to Steve for the pointer.
LJ went bonkers and beat down my Lynx -- the MVP scored 31 and led the Storm to victory.

Minnesota's rookie star Nicole Ohlde, however, may have been the story of the game. She had 16 and 10 in 25 minutes, and she managed to frustrate LJ on both ends of the floor.

"These rookies are going to be a pain this year," Jackson said. "I didn't expect that (Ohlde's play). She's so strong. I had no idea she was going to be that good."

Said Sue Bird of LJ's play: She didn't have one of her best games. And she still had 30-plus points. I would love to score 30 on a bad night."

Despite LJ's scoring effort, Minnesota almost managed to pull out the win. The Lynx had the ball down 2 with one last chance. As Teresa Edwards drove the lane, Betty Lennox went after her and came away with the ball. Edwards was furious about the no-call.

"I feel like I got fouled and the ref didn't call it," she said. "It was a crucial point in the game."
Taurasi had a good debut game, but her team went down anyway. Diana scored 22 on 7-for-13, and she also threw in a few assists, a few boards, and a few blocks. As the halftime buzzer sounded, she knocked down a 50-footer.

Unfortunately for the Phoenix fans, 19 turnovers and a huge rebounding deficit led to a loss.

"The boards were the biggest thing," coach Graf said. "We got smashed on the glass and couldn't compete there. When you don't rebound against a team like that, you're going to be in trouble. When you go with a small lineup, you have to make up for that.

Despite the loss, it was encouraging for the Mercury faithful. Columnist Paola Boivin says Diana is the real deal: "Buy the hype. Buy the buildup. Buy a ticket and ride the crest of the game's evolution."

Yo Griffith was impressed, but not too impressed. "Taurasi's a great player - she's going to be outstanding in this league - but she's just one player and not a whole team," she said. "Phoenix is going to be a great team, but we're a veteran team."
The first games are on the books. It seems like a sham that we don't get to watch opening day on TV. We'll just have to wait for tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Sorry about the lack of blogging. All energies here focused on the Wolves. Thought about temporarily converting this into a Wolves blog, but y'all probably aren't too interested.

Cut day today, opening day tomorrow. Let's see if the rookies can have a great debut.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Today's Times put a nice spin on the WNBA, its plans, and its future.

"League attendance has been relatively stable." That's putting it gently...

Would it be crazy to predict an uptick in attendance this year?
The Storm made their final cuts a couple days early. Seattle axed Andrea Gardner-Combs, Maren Walseth, and Shaquala Williams to get down to 11.

"We're working on the chemistry, we're working on the rotations and it became clear after (Sunday) night who needed to be waived," coach Donovan said. "So from that standpoint, there was no reason to wait."
Whalen is adjusting to the east. She says Connecticut reminds her of "another Minnesota."

She's trying to deal with the constant media attention (she'll be featured on Cold Pizza on Friday) and the adjustment to the pros. But right now, like the rest of us, her mind is largely occupied by the Wolves' impending Game 7.
Former Vandy star Ashley McElhiney has been named coach of the ABA's new Nashville Rhythm.

According to the media reports, Ashley, only 22, will be the first woman to be head coach a men's professional team. You'll recall that Stephanie Ready worked as an assistant for an NBDL team for a few years.
Apologies again for the technical problems -- got some emails that people ended up at Blogger.com when they tried to come here. I had the same thing happen at another blogspot-hosted blog. I'm sure they'll fix it soon.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Every time I see that Buick commercial I think they're saying "...and coming soon, the Buick Taurasi."

No. It's Tarraza.
On a happier Olympic note -- the Times today runs this story on Patricia Miranda, a 5-foot tall woman hoping to compete in the inaugural women's wrestling competition in Athens.
Marion Jones's Olympic prospects are hazy. She and her various spouses have been linked to the BALCO steroid scandal, and the Times reported last month that there was a check for $7,000 sent from Jones's account to BALCO owner Victor Conte.

Conte also apparently told federal investigators that he gave steroids to Jones and her husband.

The US Olympic committee can ban athletes even without drug tests if they have other evidence of use. Senator McCain has given the USADA documents related to the investigation, and it appears that the agency might seek to ban several athletes, including Marion.

Jones is now threatening lawsuits.

I've always liked Marion, and I've never liked the anti-doping agencies, nor do I like the political grandstanding on this issue. But it looks more and more like Marion cheated.

From the outside, it's often looked to me like her personal life is something of a mess. She seems immature, and she doesn't seem to be handling this controversy well. I'm guessing that this isn't going to end well, and it isn't going to be fun to watch.

For a variety of reasons, the scandal also makes it much less likely that Marion will ever end up in the WNBA.
In Rome, Capriati upset Serena yesterday. "I've lost to her so many times in a row. It's a very personal victory for me," Jenny said.

Unfortunately, she lost to Mauresmo in the title match today.
Coach Stringer, who is assisting Van Chancellor, is concerned about security in Athens.

"This made me aware of things I have to do as a single parent," she said. "You have to have your house in order, so to speak."
Yesterday, I saw this headline from a Pittsburgh columnist: "Memo to WNBA: Why Bother?"

I assumed it would turn out to be another column trashing women's sports, but in fact, it was really trashing Pittsburgh as a poor sports town and a terrible basketball town.

The Lynx-Shock game drew a pretty good crowd. Swin Cash was happy to be playing in Pittsburgh in front of her friends and family.

"Pittsburgh just needs to open its mind a little bit," she said. "The rest of the world is catching up with women's basketball. It's just a matter of time before we break down the doors. There are people out there who are nonbelievers. It's about opening your mind, giving it a chance. If you don't like it, don't come. But there's a lot of people who do like it."
Mendiola on why she didn't get drafted: "I heard it could have something to do with my family."

Coach Donovan says that's "ridiculous."

Coach Whisenant on what Giuli needs to improve: "It's like I told her, the only thing she could do better is something God gives ya and that's quickness." Giuli on her speed: "It's just something God didn't give me."

Ok... speed, as they say, can't be taught. But it's not totally innate -- it's not as if Olympic sprinters just show up to the races without any training.

There are things you can do to get faster -- lose weight, work your abs and lats, run sprints, run intervals, run stairs. If Giuli gets cut, she needs to stop blaming the WNBA's anti-Mendiola bias and she needs to stop blaming God. She just needs to hit the gym for a year.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Coach Whisenant on Mendiola: "I'm still undecided if she is one of our 11 players. To me, it's like a heavyweight fight - the champion gets the benefit of the doubt. My veterans have to be beaten out. Giuliana is probably going to have to beat one of my veteran (backup guards) out. If the cutoff was today at 5 p.m., I'd choose a veteran. But I've got an open mind - she could still make the team."

Whisenant just isn't sure that Giuli is fast enough to run with the Monarchs.
Jordan Adams was in shock after getting cut.

"I'm trying to stay positive, but it took me a little bit by surprise," Adams said. Somebody on the elevator (at her apartment complex) asked me if I just broke up with somebody. I said, 'Yeah, kind of.'"
Sun get Spanked. Tough night for Whalen: 0-for-4, 5 turnovers, 1 assist.

Coach Thibault: "She struggled. I think that was a learning process - an ugly learning process tonight."

Thursday, May 13, 2004

At the Indiana Women's Hoops Blog, Dar has some thoughts on the Fever after seeing 2 of their first 3 games.

And in case you missed it, scroll down to see how Stephanie White talked her in to renewing her season tix.
As predicted, new blogger is a big pain in the butt. Making work here much slower, hence fewer posts. Sorry again...
Jonathan Pettingill of Women's Sports Net took a trip to Sparks media day. He found the team relaxed but motivated after last year's finals loss.

And he found T-Spoon adjusting to life in the sun. "I love how everybody stays on the same page," she said. "I love that energy and I like these young ladies – they’ve been there and done it."

Meanwhile, Lieberman reports on how the Lib are trying to adjust after losing Spoon and Whitmore, two of the franchise's marquee players.
The league keeps scouting out new markets: exhibition game in Pittsburgh, and Val is keeping an eye on Denver too.

It's unclear to me whether the league is really considering expanding again or whether they just do these teases to some generate interest and fans in cities without teams. Or maybe they are just scouting landing sites in case an existing team needs to move.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Lobos mourn -- with Ohlde and Hayden now on the squad, the Lynx have waived Jordan Adams.
Taurasi and Cash added to the Olympic team.

Says Diana: "Probably one of the coolest parts will be playing with Swin and Sue again. I started my college career playing with those guys and now we have the chance to be on the same team again. Once you graduate from college you don't really have the opportunity to play with your former teammates, so that's going to be special."
Yesterday's preseason results:

Minnesota over Detroit, 74-65.

Ohlde, Jacobs, and Butts all had good games. "Our rookie class is great," Katie Smith said. "They are phenomenal. It will be tough for the coaches to make decisions. Those guys have maybe earned themselves a (roster) spot by the way they have been playing."

Indiana over Washington, 83-80. The superstars were in top form: Catchings had 25, Mique had 27.

Beard had a good game, but some big mistakes at the end. With five seconds left and the game tied, she threw the ball away. She then fouled Kelly Miller and sent her to the line.

Houston over Connecticut, 84-71.

The Sun are still trying to put together the lineup and break in the rookies. It didn't look too smooth last night.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Maria Conlon, hero to many in Connecticut, is back home after being cut by the Sparks.

She may eventually look for other playing opportunities in Europe or the NWBL, but for know she's thinking about trying other things: making a little money with some speaking engagements and appearances, law school, and running some shooting clinics for local kids.
At Full Court, Anthony Thompson examines the trend of hiring male coaches in the WNBA.
Tech matters: Blogger has added a bunch of new features (block quotes, single-entry archives, comments, etc.), some of which may change the way things look on the site. But as usual, there will probably be some bugs at first, so apologies in advance for potentially forthcoming problems.
Coach Donovan after Saturday's embarrassment: "We're all still in shock after that. It was a good early lesson that we have big room to grow and we've got to do it now."
Back from Vegas with a battered liver another screwed up knee from late night un-sober basketball. Crap.

Happily, this weekend's didn't involve any strippers or other such nonsense. It was bizarre in other, unexpected ways. Eg - hanging out with Dirk Nowitzki and Neve Campbell at Ghostbar. (Related query - is it strange that Dirk is there, getting wined and dined by the Maloofs, only a few days after he misses the last second shot and loses to Sacramento? Maybe the NBA really is fixed...)

The biggest surprise may have been when I checked the web and saw the Seattle-Phoenix score. Did the Storm really lose by 40 points? I know LJ didn't play... but still, that's gotta be some sort of mistake.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

I am always amazed at the WNBA players who come back to the league after becoming mothers. Not only am I amazed at their abilty to get their bodies back into top form, but I am also taken aback by their ability to balance the rigoruous schedule and motherhood. Single mother Niele Ivey is one mom who is doing just that. Happy Mother's Day, Niele.
Happy Mother's Day!

I, unfortunately, won't be able to spend the day with my mom as she is in Minnesota and I am packing in SF. Nevertheless, today I want to take a second to thank and honor my mom.

My mom has always been an inspiration to me. She is a smart, successful business woman and a loving, caring mother. My sister and I were fortunate enough to have a great role model growing up. We were always told and we have always believed that we could do anything and be anything we wanted.

Today, I want to thank my mom for giving me the confidence and courage to take risks and pursue my dreams.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Ted is off galavanting about Vegas with his college buddies, and I am here in SF woth my sister hanging out and packing up our apartment. Somehow I think I got the short end of the stick on this one! At least I can sit in my own living room and cheer on the Timberwolves tomorrow night and not in some Vegas sports bar.

Not too much interesting news around the women's hoop world today. A little cosching movement in our home state as Gopher assistant Melissa McFerrin is leaving to take the head coach position at American University in Washington, D.C.

Well, I am off to drink margaritas on the roof and watch the sun set over the golden gate...

Thursday, May 06, 2004

I'm heading to a bachelor party in Vegas.

Of the many repugnant rituals associated with the modern American wedding, bachelor and bachelorette parties are probably the worst. And Vegas is probably my least favorite place on earth (Fisherman's Wharf, just over the hill from my beloved Cow Hollow, is a close competitor). I shudder to think what awaits.

At least I'll be able to watch the NBA playoffs and tune out... whatever else is going on.

Back Sunday. Blog in Sara's hands till then. Go Wolves.
The Lynx played the Monarchs in the Pit last night.

It was a tryout of sorts for the city. Albuquerque is one of the places that the WNBA might think about expanding (if expanding is ever again an option). "Albuquerque may well be a very good place," said Val Ackerman. "It just needs some time and work and a qualified owner to come forward.

The game drew a moderate crowd of a little over 6,000. Most came to see former Lobos Jordan Adams and Chelsea Grear.

But at least some found the game boring. After watching the game, Richard Stevens says it was bad hoops, and if the WNBA ever tried to come to Albuquerque permanently, it would flop.

(Remember, Richard: early season games are always boring. Preseason games even worse.)

The Lynx crushed Sacramento, incidentally. Coach Whisenant says it was a mistake to play the game at all -- his team just wasn't ready, so it was a waste.
If Whalen had gone to the Lynx, she would filled another couple thousand seats a night. But it looks like she's selling a few in Connecticut too.

"It's a nice compliment to know you can excite fans in more than one place," Whalen said.
Geno on the departures: "The University of Connecticut program is not for everyone."

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Differences between the NBA and the WNBA --

Last night on Inside the NBA, Charles Barkley thanked NBC for finally killing 'Friends' and ending a show that should have been put to bed years ago.

Today, WNBA.com runs a feature giving players an opportunity to say how much they love the show and voice their opinion about the finale. Says Becky Hammon: "Ross and Rachel together? Most definitely!"

I'm with Barkley. And I'll use this as another opportunity to voice some small opposition to the WNBA's perpetually cheesy and cloying promotions.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Some trouble in Storrs -- just days after losing the Waners to Duke, UConn has lost both Liz Sherwood and Kiana Robinson, the only two freshmen on last year's roster.

Both are seeking to transfer. Neither, so far, has said why. "I don't want to say anything because people will misinterpret it," said Sherwood.

Neither got much playing time last year. Both had injuries that slowed their progress last year, and both apparently got on Geno's bad side for their lack of work in practice.

"I just think that [Kiana is] one of those types of kids that's kind of a street-type player," said Bret McCormick, a friend of the Robinsons. "She can flat out play, but if you put a lot of structure in she's not going to be as successful. And it's not that it's that complicated. It's not that (she's) not a good player, just the game's changed. But good for Kiana. I think that she'll be fine."

This hurts the Huskies, but not too bad. With Jessica Moore entering her senior season recovering from an ACL tear, Sherwood's departure is a blow to the front line. On the other hand, the Huskies have a particularly strong soph class -- with Strother, Turner, Crockett, and Wolff -- and a good entering class.
Nykesha Sales worked out hard in the off season. After improving her numbers last year, she decided that she could still do more. Slimmer and stronger, Sales wants to compete for the MVP.

"I want to dominate the league," says Nykesha.
Today is the 15-player cut deadline, so we'll see a bunch of movement in the league. The teams then have till May 19 to get down to 11.

Monday, May 03, 2004

A recruiting win for Coach G: the Waner sisters are heading to Durham.

Many expected Abby and Emily to follow fellow Castle Rock alums Liz Sherwood and Ann Strother to UConn. But the Waners decided Duke was a better fit.

"The combination of the top academics and top basketball was hard to pass up," said Abby. "Going to the epitome of girls basketball [at UConn] and having a coach like Coach Auriemma ... it was very, very hard to be able to decide between that, having options like that. It was hard to say no to a person like Geno Auriemma."
Nikki McCray is having a good time in Phoenix; she's trying to give the young team some of the knowledge she's gained over her long career.

But it's unclear what role she'll have on the team, and whether she'll log many game minutes. "We told her not to come in with tremendously high expectations," said assistant coach Agler. "Just come in, do your job, play to your strengths and see what happens."
Coop calls it quits, for the second time and for good. The injury to her right shoulder meant that she'd probably have been off and on all year. Cynthia decided it wasn't worth it to have a year like that and risk more permanent injury.

"It's just strange to say," Cooper said. "It's strange to say that I won't be able to play basketball, a sport that I've played for so long, that I love to play. I love to teach; I love to work out, to get in shape. That is strange, but it's a reality that I have to accept. I'll be OK."

Coop may be remembered as the best player of the league's early years. She won the MVP twice, the scoring title three times, and the Finals MVP four times.
Some nice praise for women's basketball by Mark Harris in the lefty webzine AlterNet. Thanks to Carol Anne for the pointer.