Women's Hoops Blog: September 2004

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Thursday, September 30, 2004

The Washington Times says Amanda Beard and Wendy Palmer-Davis did a great job last night.

I know, I shouldn't be complaining -- I said "Janelle McCarville" earlier this week (it's Google's fault). But aren't they supposed to have things I don't? Like editors? And journalistic standards?

WashTimes seems to excel at Holdsclaw scandal-mongering. When it comes to actual sports coverage... not as good.
Applicant # 087 has passed the MN bar.
Jeff Jacobs trashes Connecticut women's basketball fans for not supporting the Sun:

So maybe you only love UConn and the easy life of guaranteed victory night after winter night. Maybe you only love your UConn girls when they're at UConn. Maybe you don't really love the game itself.

He specifically refers to the UConn chat rooms. Some Boneyard response here.
OK, this is obviously retarded, but it does make one good point: "Maybe they just need better commercials and ads. The WNBA really stands for We Need Better Advertising. Have you ever seen an ad that makes you excited to watch?"

The answer to that question is no.

Remember the Black-Eyed Peas "Let's Get It Started" ads for the NBA playoffs? They were awesome -- they really did make you want to watch. The WNBA has not produced anything even close to that in the last five years.

And why are they still running that stupid ad with the guy praising Marie Ferdinand? Ferdinand isn't in the playoffs, and she only played half the season this year. Plus, that commercial is about six years old, and it sucked even when it was first released. If the WNBA wants to put some bullshit patronizing ad with a male actor reading a script (half-heartedly, at that) which says that it's ok for me to like women's basketball, can't they at least make a new one involving a player who's actually relevant right now?

[Update: a couple people have written in to say that it's a Reebok ad. I thought it was a co-branded ad but was probably wrong.]

One silver lining -- the ads with the Olympic athletes plugging the WNBA are pretty cool. Wish they had more.
Connecticut got out to a big lead and were able to coast to victory. Washington tried to battle back in the second half but never got closer than eight.

"We got a little head of steam in the first half," coach Thibault said. "It's exciting. I have expectations every year to start the season to see if you can win a championship, but it goes in stages. First you have to just build the team. Our goal at one point in the season was to figure out a way to get in the playoffs. It's exciting and the players are excited, but we have a lot of work ahead of us."

It was a disappointing end to the Mystics' late season charge. Beard and Chas had nice games last night; they just didn't get much help from anyone else on the team.

Asked if it would have been different with Holdsclaw on the floor, Coach Adams responded:
"I won't even go there."
Compare these two sentences:

It was something of a new approach after the midseason loss of leading scorer Chamique Holdsclaw to an undisclosed private medical condition.

It was something of a new approach after the midseason loss of leading scorer Chamique Holdsclaw to an undisclosed "private medical condition."

Why does the Washington Post choose the latter? Do they have some reason to believe Mique is lying, or are they just being snarky? Or do they just like titillating scare quotes?

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Kevin Pelton on Tully's performance. With Sue questionable, the Storm might need more of the same.
Bethany Donaphin's buzzer beater made for a great ending to a game that was a real treat to watch. The Shock were in control for almost the entire game, building a 37-24 lead going into the half. But, every time they would build a 7, 10, or 12 point lead, New York would battle back. With 5 minutes left in the 2nd half, C-Rob hit a jumper to give NY its first lead since leading 7-6 in the first half.

Both teams had great moments last night, but in my opinion, C-Rob stole the show down the stretch. After scoring only 1pt in the 1st half, Robinson came out to win after the break scoring 16 of her 17 in the second half. It was awesome to watch her in the second, she wanted the ball and was determined to not let her team's season end.

The last play was actually supposed to go to Robinson. "The play was calling for Crystal coming off of a screen," said Donaphin. "But it broke down and I took a shot. It was definitely the biggest shot I have ever hit."

Coach Laimbeer was gracious after the game.
"Not a great day for the Detroit Shock," he said. "I thought it was a great day for WNBA basketball. You couldn't find a more competitive, hard-fought game by both teams. Unfortunately, we were on the short end of the stick in this game."
Pam Schmid and Tim Leighton have their Lynx post-mortems today. Everyone is basically happy with how the season went despite the nagging question: what if Katie Smith hadn't gotten hurt?

There is plenty of good news. Attendance was up this year, and paid attendance was up at least 10%. The team is still losing about a million bucks per year, but owner Glen Taylor promises it's not going anywhere.

"I really like the team," Taylor said. "I am excited about women's basketball. I saw how excited people got about the Gophers, and know that can happen (with the Lynx)."

(Hats off again to Taylor. He has proven his personal and financial commitment to women's basketball. As I've said before, he's no Gordon Gund.)

Everyone also agrees that the team needs to find some backcourt help.
"With Katie going down, that hole which we knew existed got magnified," COO Roger Griffith said. "But even before that, we knew it was a priority. Now it's the top priority."

Still no word about whether Teresa will be back. "I'm spontaneous so you never know," she said. "It's not that big of a deal. ... I'm too old anyway."
Sacramento did a great job swarming all over Lisa Leslie, double- and triple-teaming her, forcing the game into the hands of Mabika, Dixon, Thomas, and Macchi. The Sparks' supporting cast didn't come through, while it seemed like everyone on the Monarchs was making big plays.

Lisa and Yo battled all night long down low. After Yo came out on top, Lisa gave her some advice.

"Lisa said after six years in this league this is my opportunity to win the championship," Griffith said. "But it's not just my opportunity, but for my teammates, the entire Maloof organization and all of Sacramento."

The Sparks and their fans were in a state of disbelief. No one in LA really thought they would go down -- they had never gone out in the first round before -- but the Monarchs thoroughly outplayed them.

"We made history today," said Leslie, who got off only 8 shots as a result of Sacto's impressive defense. "It's a very unusual feeling for us…. but the Monarchs were the aggressors. They took the game from us."

Sacramento will begin preparing for the Storm. "Basketball is all about matchups, and we matched up better against L.A.," Kara Lawson said. "We're going to have to work even harder to beat Seattle."

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Yo on the Monarchs' mood: "We're frustrated, but more than anything, with ourselves. The good thing about it is we have a chance to do something about it."

Lisa on the Sparks' history with Sacto: "A lot of the wins and losses [against Sacramento] this season have come from things that don't have to do with basketball. It's been about hard work, heart and getting after it. When we've come out and executed, we've been the better team. But when we've just come out and not prepared to play them, we lose. It's really that simple."
The Lynx face some difficult choices this offseason. We are a good team lacking in balance. We have talent and depth in the post, but in terms of true guards (Katie Smith is really a small forward), we are probably the worst in the league.

(Let me say -- T-Edwards is a hero of mine, and I love having her as part of this franchise, but she no longer has what it takes to start in the WNBA.)

To put a finer point on it: we have two great young players at the same position, and we need to decide whether to trade one of them.

Aside from Katie, Ohlde and Hayden are our only two players with any real value on the trade market. They are both great talents. Nicole got more minutes this year and is more of a sure thing, but Vanessa, with her size and huge rebound mitts, might have more potential. Both need to gain upper-body strength, and Vanessa needs to make a serious commitment to conditioning, but both could be All-Stars within a few years.

So we basically have three options:

1. Keep them both. It's a great thing having two great posts -- think David Robinson and Tim Duncan -- so we could build a team around that, and try to make some moves (trade Svet, Lassiter, even Tamika) to get at least one serviceable guard, someone from a team with good guards on the bench.

2. Trade one for a quality guard. It would be sad to give one up, but if we could get someone like DeForge or Pee Wee, we would have the kind of lineup that could do damage in the playoffs.

3. Trade one for McCarville. Janel will be a lottery pick, so we'd have to trade up to get her (in other words, we're going to go through the same shit all over again). It might be worth it. Getting McCarville wouldn't solve our guard problem, but it would give us a post with a midrange game, and it would bring fans to the Target Center.

I don't know the right answer. It would be fun to have Janel, and I like the idea of having twin towers, but if we want to win games, getting a guard is probably the smart move. At a minimum, we need to make some serious inquiries and see what's out there.
Teresa Edwards won't say yet if she'll be back in '05. Her mind is still on '04 and what the Lynx accomplished this year.

"I'm very proud of my team," said Edwards. "We fought against the odds all season. For everyone that wanted us to go away, we're gone. But you can't say we didn't fight."

Note that Greg Bishop wrote this article for the Star Trib. (Any chance you'd consider moving to the tundra, Greg?) It's nice when papers hire local reporters to cover away games -- better than just reprinting the wires. But it is a disgrace that the Star Trib wouldn't pay for Pam Schmid to go to Seattle and cover her last game. Another big thumbs down for Glen Crevier.
Sue Bird on her broken nose: "It hurt. But, honestly, I was more upset than hurt. I knew I couldn't play. I'd never seen that much blood that belonged to me."

Sue plans to get the bone reset today and then try to play with a mask. "I've heard such horrible things, but maybe it will be like Rip Hamilton -- a good luck mask," she said.
Wendy Palmer and Kelly Miller shared the Most Improved award.

"Last year, I can’t really explain it. I knew that wasn’t the Wendy Palmer that most of us had seen, and I just wanted to get away from that," Palmer said. "I definitely wasn’t looking to get this award. I just wanted to get my game back and play hard, so I’m thankful that people recognized that."

Kelly follows her sister Coco, who won the award in '02.

Palmer and Miller had 9 votes each; Betty Lennox had 8.
Whalen had a big night as Connecticut evened the series. She hit 15-of-16 from the line and added 6 assists without a turnover.

"She was pretty good," coach Thibault said. "She set a franchise record for consecutive free throws, but the biggest stat for tonight was playing as many minutes as she did and not having any turnovers. In playoff games, that's really important. She made big plays. She found her teammates."

Nykesha Sales also rebounded from her abyssmal Game 1. She had 13 points, 7 boards, and a record 7 steals.

"We're really anxious to get back out there and play Wednesday," she said, "because we're a better team than we showed [in Game 1]. Today showed what type of team we are."

Coach Adams wasn't at all happy with the Mystics' performance.
"We got a little rattled in the backcourt, and our players got tentative and wanted to pass," he said. "It was hot potato at the beginning of the game."

Game 3 is Wednesday.
"It's gonna be a dogfight, I can tell you that," said Alana Beard.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Not a fun game to watch as a Lynx fan. There was plenty to complain about.

Our guards were typically ineffective. Darling, Edwards, and Jacobs combined for eleven turnovers and only three assists. They are all slow. None but Jacobs can shoot well. And they don't take care of the ball. Seattle's reserves are better than our starters. It's painful.

Hayden, whom I love, probably lost the game for us during the key stretch in the second half. She came in at 7:43, Lynx up one. She wasted four crucial possessions with four terrible shots. (Vanessa -- you're not going to hit ten foot fade-aways over LJ. Try passing out of the post once in awhile.) She got burned at least twice on the other end. When SMS finally took her out at 4:00, we were down six.

From there, the team gave up. Why don't you foul down ten with a minute left? Teams have come down from that far before in less time. It's a long shot, but why not try, especially in a playoff elimination game?

Not fun to watch.

Still, there's plenty to be happy about as a Lynx fan. Before the season, our team and our franchise were question marks. People were saying that we were the next Rockers.

Then we had the Whalen trade fiasco. Then we had a shaky start to the season. Then, just when we were starting to play well, we lost Katie Smith.

But we survived it all. We made the playoffs again and gave a good effort against the Storm. We kept our attendance pretty stable, and there is a sense of optimism here that we have a chance to build a solid franchise here over the next few years. We aren't the Rockers.

As Teresa Edwards said, we didn't go out like chumps, and we won't.
Coach Laimbeer on deciding to go with Farris over Jones: "I woke up today and out of the blue, coming to the arena, it came to me to try something different. I went with a big, strong lineup and went to a zone to test their three-point shooting."

La'Keshia Frett on dealing with the Shock's big lineup: "They're tall, and they're not slender."

Coach Coyle on the refs: "We never get fouled. It's amazing to me, and I don't really care if I get fined. We never get fouled. It's unbelievable. And we foul people, I'm not saying we don't. But we get fouled. And I don't know if it's because we're smaller or what, and I know we take a lot of jump-shots, but that's ridiculous, eight foul shots."
Mwadi Mabika on her play: "In the first half, I missed some shots and I was pump faking too much. In the second half, I decided it was time to shoot and I let them go. I knew the team needed me to score because they were doubling Lisa all game long and I was wide open for most of the game. This was a huge win for us, but Tuesday night is going to be a dog fight as well. We need to come out focused and ready to play."

Coach Thompson: "We do not celebrate this win. This was a job we had to come out and do, and we were able to do it. We know that the real work starts Tuesday."

Coach Whisenant: "We fell into one of our notorious scoring droughts. No player tries to miss shots. Then, Mabika hit those big threes - the last one while falling into the stands. You've got to give them a lot of credit. It didn't matter what we did up in Sacramento. Now, we're even."

Yo, about her missed layup: "I normally hit that shot. That was the difference. But some times, shots just don't fall... Hopefully, we got these misses out of our system. Game 3 is going to be different."

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Facing elimination, the Detroit Shock won at Madison Square Garden, beating the New York Liberty, 76-66, to tie the series at 1-1.

Detroit used a last minute lineup change (starting 6-3 Barb Farris ahead of 5-9 Merlakia Jones) and a zone defense to force the Liberty into taking perimeter shots and denying dribble penetration. The Liberty shot 10-29 from three, and the 29 shots were over 48 percent of New York's shot attempts.

For the Shock, Cheryl Ford led the way with 21 points and 9 rebounds, while Deanna Nolan had 18 points. Farris finished with 11 points and 9 rebounds.

Crystal Robinson continued her solid postseason play with 15 points. But the Liberty's bright spot was its bench play, as La'Keshia Frett had 20 points and Shameka Christon added 13.

Meanwhile, Liberty fans are wondering who should go first...center Bethany Donaphin, Coach Patty Coyle, or GM Carol Blazejowski.
Los Angeles defeated Sacramento, 71-57, setting up a pivotal Game Three on Tuesday night.

This was an incredibly exciting game of runs. Los Angeles led 41-30 at the half, before Sacramento cut the lead to one, at 53-52. But Mwadi Mabika hit three three-point baskets after that and rookie Christi Thomas came up with timely buckets down the stretch to seal the victory.

Mabika finished with 22 points, while Tamecka Dixon added 17 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists. Lisa Leslie had 13 points and 7 rebounds, while Thomas contributed 12 points and 7 rebounds.

In a reversal from the first game, Sacramento shot 27 percent from the floor. Yolanda Griffith had 11 points and 11 rebounds, while Tangela Smith had 15 points and 8 rebounds

For Sacramento, the loss is incredibly difficult. The Monarchs had momentum, cutting the lead to one, with Leslie, Thomas, and Dixon each having five fouls. But the Monarchs were unable to defend Mabika down the stretch, squandering an incredible oppotunity to end the series in two games.
Harold Stier, the 'Just The Stats' columnist for Full Court Press, has submitted his missing person's report.

Chamique Holdsclaw missed 11 Mystics games. With her in the lineup Washington was 10-13 (.435), without her they were 7-4 (.636) and made the post season.

Katie Smith not only missed nearly all of the Olympics but also the last 11 Lynx games. With Smith on the floor Minnesota was 13-10 (.565). The Lynx were 5-6 (.455) in the remaining games and made the playoffs.

The Sparks were 13-6 (.684) when DeLisha Milton went to the bench and 12-3 (.800) since her departure.

Swin Cash only missed two games and while she will be sorely missed, the Shock won both games to improve their 15-17 record to 17-17 and a chance to defend their title.

The Liberty started the season without either Tari Phillips or Ann Wauters. With Phillips and/or Wauters available, New York was 8-10 (.444) and finished at 18-16, 10-6 (.625) with the pair available.
More WNBA Awards:

Lisa Leslie wins the Bud Light Peak Performer, after leading the league in rebounds at 9.9 per game.

Leslie also wins the Defensive Player of the Year Award.

Nikki Teasley wins the Cashcade Dish & Assist Award, after leading the league in assists with 6.1 per game.

The Connecticut Sun have scheduled a press conference before Game 2 of their Eastern Conference playoff series against Washington Monday at Mohegan Sun Arena, a sure indication that forward Wendy Palmer-Daniel has been named the WNBA's Most Improved Player.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Teresa Edwards has been named the winner of the 2004 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award.

First, the means the "rift" between Teresa, with her ties to the ABL, and the WNBA is over.

Second, this is a lifetime achievement award, recognizing a five-time Olympian and a matriarch of the women's game (who is the only person who actually has played five positions on the floor).

Congratulations to Teresa on a well-deserved (and long overdue) honor.
The Washington Mystics win the first playoff game, defeating the Connecticut Sun, 67-59.

Alana Beard had 13 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists. She shot 5-13 from the floor, but missed her last 5 shots from the floor. Chasity Melvin and Aiysha Smith had big games for the Mystics as well. Chas had a double-double (17 and 11), while Smith had 10 points off the bench (4-4 from the floor).

Linday Whalen and Ashja Jones had great games for the Sun. Whalen had 16 points on 5-9 shooting, while Jones had 14 points and 4 rebounds off the bench.

Neither team turned the ball over much, as each team had nine turnovers
The difference in the game? Mystics won the battle of the boards, 44-32, while Connecticut settled for the outside shot, making only 3-14 from beyond the arc. Nykesha Sales (1-9 shooting), Wendy Palmer (1-6), and Katie Douglas (2-8) combined to shoot 17 percent from the floor.
All Monarchs, all night: Sacramento destroyed Los Angeles last night, 72-52, in Arco Arena.

Tangela Smith had 21 points, 15 in the first half. She has one of the best mid-range games in the game, and she is certainly a candidate for the 2006 World Championship team. Yolanda Griffith added 17 points and 10 rebounds. Los Angeles was never in the game, shooting 26 percent in the first half and getting destroyed on the glass.

And for those of you who taped the game, hit rewind. DeMya Walker's comment to Lisa Leslie (after Leslie knocked her to the floor with an elbow): "I'm gonna f*** her up, I'm gonna f***ing kill the b****." Priceless.
Elena Baranova, Becky Hammon, and Crystal Robinson combined for 45 points, as New York defeated Detroit, 75-62, in Joe Louis Arena.

Keys to the game:
1) Three point shooting: New York was 9-16 from beyond the arc, while Detroit was only 2-4 from three.
2) Rebounding: The Liberty outrebounded the Shock, one of the best rebounding teams in the league, despite Cheryl Ford's 14 rebounds.

Friday, September 24, 2004

WNBL preview on OZHoops from our good friend and fellow member of the Mercury Brigade, Helen Theoharakis (aka Hellcat).

Hellcat's a Ledge!
SMS is Coach of the Year.

I cannot quibble with the selection, as McConnell-Serio took a team with a lot of turnover, got the rookies to play well early, and made the squad even better than they were last season. Her team made the playoffs, despite losing Katie Smith for the stretch run.

Still, most prognosticators had the Connecticut Sun finishing last in the East, including USA Today's infamous prediction that the Sun would finish 7th in the six-team East. I picked the Sun last in the East in my Full Court Press preview. Mike Thibault traded an Olympian for an unproven rookie and didn't miss a beat, finishing first in the East. For these reasons, Thibault has my vote for Coach of the Year.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

We are once again heading out of town for the weekend and tragically, ridiculously missing the Lynx game Saturday. We leave the blog in Barry's large, muscular hands.
WNBA Awards announced!!!

Well... not really, but the league has announced when it will hand out most of the major awards.

Coach of the Year: Sept. 25
Defensive POY: Sept. 26
Most Improved: Sept. 27
Rookie of the Year: Sept. 27

The dates can tell us a lot. Awards are usually (or always, when possible) given to a player/coach at a home game. Therefore, some half-baked predictions:

SMS will get COY here Saturday. Adams has a home game that day too, but the word is that Val will be here to give out two awards. The other, presumably, is the sportswomanship award to Teresa (the Edwards-WNBA feud is now officially a distant memory).

Lisa Leslie will get DPOY at Staples Sunday. She'll take the Bud Light rebounding award at the same time, and Teasley will get the Cascade assists award.

Betty Lennox will get Most Improved in Seattle Monday. LJ will get Bud Light scoring title award.

Taurasi will get ROY at Mohegan Monday. (Then again, Val can't be in two places at once... so maybe Taurasi will be in Seattle, maybe MIP isn't Lennox, or maybe Val will go to Mohegan and send a flunky to the Key.)

All-WNBA team will be Oct. 8. The date for the MVP award, by the way, is still listed as "TBD." The league will probably gamble, assume the Sparks will win, and try to give it out at Staples during the Finals.
Jeff Jacobs praises T-Bone's work this year:

"The Sun finished 18-16 last year. The Sun finished 18-16 this year. The numbers would suggest Thibault did nothing out of the coaching ordinary. The numbers don't tell squat."
Who is the underdog in the Lib-Shock series?

Detroit Free Press says the Shock.

Times says the Lib.
What does Christi Thomas have in common with Daedra Charles, Nicole Kubik, Camille Cooper, and Rosalind Ross? Not much, says Mike Terry.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

As the WNBA season wraps up, USA Today's Oscar Dixon and some WNBA coaches, declare this year's rookie class worthy of all the pre-season hype. "It is such a talented class," says New York coach Patty Coyle, "You look at Taurasi, they doubled their wins in Phoenix. (Nicole) Ohlde, coming in at the center position in the West, has done an unbelievable job for Minnesota. Alana Beard has come on for Washington, and the difference between (Lindsay) Whalen in the beginning of the season and now is why Connecticut is in the playoffs. You can't discount any of them; the class is just solid."

With five of the top seven draft picks in the playoffs, I would have to agree. You never know how great college players are going to do when they make the move to the pros, but these ladies have all done it quite well.

The WNBA doesn't have an all-rookie team, but here are USA Today's votes if they did.
Folks around the country giving some love to our Lynx:

Pilight says Suzie McConnell-Serio deserves Coach of the Year. That would be great.

Kevin Pelton tells what Teresa Edwards has meant to women's basketball over the last two decades and to the Lynx over the last two years.

"She's a coach's dream on the floor," says Anne Donovan, "because she takes care of any issues you might have in terms of not working hard or mental approach. T is on it all the time, sharp. She makes sure that your rookies and your veterans alike come to play every day."
Coach Whisenant on Yo: "This is the best I've ever seen her play, and we'll need that to beat the Sparks. Lisa has got three inches on Yo. She has those long arms. But Yo finds ways to beat you in a blue-collar way, and she has had good games against Lisa."
The Shock have been booted from the Palace for Disney on Ice.
The USA Today reports that the WNBA is doing great -- TV ratings up sharply. So is web traffic, which is "a key measure of fan interest."

No mention of attendance, however, which (according to WB Online's tabulation of the published numbers (pdf file)) dropped about 2%. The three teams that led the league last year -- NY, DC, and San Antonio -- all dropped significantly.

A few notes:

1. New York lost thousands of fans because the Lib were forced to play at the much smaller Radio City during the RNC. (Blame Bush, in other words.)

2. San Antonio's drop is nothing to be too worried about. New teams in all sports typically have very big first years, producing numbers that are nearly impossible to sustain once the honeymoon ends.

3. As far as averages, we were helped by losing Cleveland, which pulled down the average last year. If you excluded Cleveland from last year's pool, the overall drop would look worse.

4. The Olympics may have hurt us by pushing some games to school nights.

Jayda Evans reports today on attendance trends. Her article says that Seattle, Detroit, and Connecticut were the only teams to show an increase this year, but WB's numbers have Minnesota and LA adding to their averages too.

It's important to remember that the attendance numbers are always hazy. Different teams have different ways of reporting, and some have changed from last year to this. As a result, it's impossible to draw strong conclusions. But I think the basic message is clear: league attendance was down a little this year, but not down very much. The results aren't as good as anyone was hoping for, but they aren't that bad either.
Getting to know Candice Wiggins, Stanford's volleyball and basketball superstar frosh.

Ten years from now I hope to be:
The new Stacey Dales-Schuman without the bitter attitude.


Tuesday, September 21, 2004

What went wrong with the Comets? Lots of things: Figgs and Arcain sitting out, Coop retiring, Snow's mom, Thompson's injury, Olympic fatigue.

What went wrong with the Mercury? One thing: poor post play. (This article also hints that Sulka is open to trading anyone but Diana and Penny. Hmmm.... we could use DeForge up here.)
Voepel defends Holdsclaw, says it's none of our business, hopes she'll be back next year.

For the record, although Chamique isn't one of my favorite players, I'm basically in agreement with Mechelle on this.

I believe that Mique has a real medical condition (that she's not just mad at Adams or WS&E), and that she has a real reason for keeping it private. She's not totally immune from criticism for the way she's handled this -- she did, after all, publicly criticize her teammates' commitment to the Mystics, only to leave the team a month later without saying why. But in certain circumstances, the decision to leave and to keep the reason private would be totally justifiable. Until I hear differently from someone who actually knows, I will assume that such circumstances exist here.

It seems like it would be best for all involved for Chamique to come back with a different franchise. But whether it's with Washington or another team, the important thing is that she comes back happy and healthy. Even if you cheer against her, you have to recognize that the league is better with Holdsclaw on the court.
The Insane Platypus comes up from down under, parties with WNBAers. Why don't I ever get to do this stuff? Maybe it's time for me to head down to PHX and hang out with Barry?
We've gotten wind of some bad news for Minnesota basketball fans -- apparently Pam Schmid is leaving the Star Tribune.

There are only a few papers around the country that really do a good job covering women's hoops. For the last couple years, the StarTrib has been one of those, and that's due largely to Pam's efforts. She has done a great job covering both the Gophers and the Lynx. She is excellent at game reports and at bringing us personal stories as well.

It's a shame she's leaving. I fear for the future of women's sports coverage here without her.

Monday, September 20, 2004

The Sun finished their year by beating the Fever before a nice home crowd.

(Indiana's box score was symbolic. Catchings had a great game: 30 points on 60% shooting, got to the line a bunch, added a bunch of rebounds, assists, and steals. The rest of the team shot 27%. They didn't get to the line. They didn't rebound well. No one else had more than 1 assist. That's a recipe for last place.)

The venerable Mel Greenberg says T-Bone deserves Coach of the Year. As a predictive matter, it seems more likely that Donovan or Graf will win.

I love coach Graf, so I wouldn't be at all upset if she won, but I'm not sure she's deserving. The Mercury had enough talent that they should have gotten into the playoffs. Yes, the improved a great deal from last year, but gimme a break -- when you add Diana Taurasi to your team, you're gonna win a lot more games even if Elmer Fudd is coaching.

As for Anne... she won 20 games, but she also has two of the five best players in the league. She hasn't yet shown coaching brilliance.

Thibault is probably more deserving than either. Looking at that roster, you do have to wonder how the Sun ended up winning their conference. On the other hand, they have exactly the same record as last year. Plus, it's just hard to like that guy.

Michael Adams still has my vote. He presided over a huge improvement amidst absolute chaos. And yet he doesn't have a chance -- he hasn't even been an option in the internet polls, and Greenberg doesn't even mention him as a candidate.
The Lib closed out with a nice win over the Mystics before a big home crowd.

Shameka Christon had a nice game, scoring a career-high 18 off the bench. "My protégé,'' said C-Rob. "If I had as much athletic ability like Shameka. Wow. She is going to be great."

"I wouldn't put a cap on how good she can be," said Becky Hammon of Christon. "She can be as good as she wants to be. It depends on how bad she wants it."

In the NY Post today, Blaze talks (again) about what a great move it was dumping Richie for Patty. The Lib were 7-9 before the move, 11-7 since. That is a nice improvement.

But... home teams won about 61% of games in the association this year. 11 of Richie's 16 games were on the road. 12 of Patty's 18 games were at home. Based on the percentages alone, you'd have expected Adubato to win about 7 games and Coyle to win about 10.

Who knows. Maybe it's the intangibles that matter. "Everything isn't so structured for them anymore," Blazejowski said. "On the floor, Richie used to call every play and control things. Now, there's a more relaxed feel."
WNBA.com internet poll (bottom right) asked which lower seed has the best chance of an upset: Lynx, Mercury, Mystics, or Shock.

I'm guessing it's not Phoenix.
Neither Western Conference game meant anything yesterday. The Lynx and Sacto already had their seeds secured, and Phoenix and Houston were already gone.

The Lynx used their last game to get more practice turning the ball over. "We're very disappointed that we didn't come away with a win," coach SMS said. "But we are really feeling good going into the playoffs." Really feeling good that we're not playing the Sparks.

"I respect the hell out of L.A.," said coach Whisenant, "but we're actually glad to play them first." Bullshit.

In the really meaningless game, Anna DeForge and Plenette Pierson scored 24 each to beat the Comets. Taurasi thinks Carrie should get COY despite missing the playoffs. "If she doesn't win Coach of the Year, she gets half my paycheck."

Houston finished its worst season ever. "I guess in eight seasons it's OK to have a bad one," Tina Thompson said.
Only ten days ago, Charlotte was sitting atop the East. Since then, the Sting have lost three straight, bringing their season to an early end.

Detroit used the energy from a huge home crowd to rally for the big win. "This was a game about who wanted it more," coach Laimbeer said. "When they finally decided they wanted to win the game, they did."

The Shock have had an up-and-down season. At times, it seemed like they might head all the way back to the bottom of the East, but they pulled together and finished strong. “I feel that we can exhale now,” Barb Farris said of making the playoffs. “We’re grateful and appreciative.”

Sunday, September 19, 2004

In a preview of the probable Western Conference Finals, LA took down Seattle.

"This is one of those games that doesn't mean anything, but it does, " Sue Bird said. "It has no meaning standings-wise, but for momentum, we had a big crowd tonight and obviously we wanted to come out and put on a good show and win. This loss just fires us up."

In the first round, Seattle will face either Minnesota or Sacto, depending on how Sunday's games work out. Coach Donovan would prefer the Lynx. "I'm not particularly fond of Arco Arena," she said.
The Monarchs beat the Comets, clinched their playoff spot, and eliminated the Mercury.

Sheryl Swoopes didn't make the trip to Sacto, and Houston didn't really compete. "This was all about Sacramento tonight," coach Chancellor said.

Yo led the Monarchs with 23 on 8-for-10 shooting.
We have been in New Haven all weekend, back for the wedding of two of our best friends, Katy and Tracy.

Brings back some good basketball memories -- it was our time here that really got us interested in the national women's hoops scene. We had always been into the game, but mostly it was just following whatever league Sara was in. When we got here, we had UConn on CPTV and all the hoops we could want.

(Katy and I made a couple pilgrimages to Storrs. It remains an open question which of us retains the more overwhelming Sue Bird obsession.)

There's something a little sad about being back here, like we're visiting an old life that we can't have anymore. There's also something a little sad about the wedding -- it's a great thing, but I can't help being a little jealous of both of them. Such is the life of a straight man living amongst lesbian women...

Saturday, September 18, 2004

The Lynx went into LA needing a win in a game that didn't mean much to the Sparks. Minnesota played tough, frustrating Lisa Leslie, who fouled out after only 19 minutes on the floor. The Lynx's twin rookie towers took advantage -- Ohlde and Hayden combined for 35 points and led Minnesota into the playoffs.

"It's a great win," coach Suzie McConnell Serio said. "Our team came to play tonight. I could not be more proud of their effort; they executed the game plan the way we wanted to and we got great contributions from all our players."

The Lynx haven't been great lately, but they've managed to scrap together a few wins at big times. They've managed to hold on to a playoff spot without Katie Smith.

"We miss [Smith's] scoring, her defense and the leadership she has brought to this team," McConnell Serio said. "But you can't think about what you don't have, about what you can't control. You can only worry about what you can control, and this team has done that."
Phoenix, slouching toward the finish line, has probably slipped right out of the playoffs. The Merc fell to the Mystics at home last night -- Taurasi scored 25 but didn't get much help.

To get into the postseason, Phoenix must beat Houston on Sunday, and Sacto must lost both of its final two games against Houston and Minnesota.

"We've got to hope the hoop gods are with us," coach Graf said.

Washington has now won five in a row and clinched a playoff berth. "It's a dream come true," said Alana Beard. "We were destined to win," said coach Adams. "Our players just feel it."

Nancy Lieberman had picked Carrie Graf for Coach of the Year honors. But as Graf's team has collapsed down the stretch, she looks less and less deserving.

In fact, you have to think that coach Adams should get some consideration. Last year, the Mystics won 9 games; they could double that total -- and could finish first -- with a win on Sunday. Early in the year, when we were all saying what a terrible job he was doing, no one would have thought Washington had a chance for this kind of finish.

No coach has faced more adversity this year, and no team has finished better. You can make cases for T-Bone, SMS, and Donovan -- and I know there's no real chance Adams will win -- but he may get my vote.
The Liberty went to Uncasville and put on an impressive display of shooting, hitting 53% from the floor and 47% from three-point land.

"We had our backs to the wall," said Becky Hammon. "We needed to come in here and play well. The last time we came in here ... we weren't prepared. This time, we were better prepared for them and what they were going to throw at us."

With the win, New York clinched a spot in the playoffs and officially eliminated the Fever. The Sun are guaranteed at least second in the East, and can still get first with a win on Sunday over Indiana.
In her last professional game, Semeka Randall wanted to make an impact. She went out with a bunch of energy and set a franchise record with eight steals.

"I just wanted to leave everything I had on the court," said Randall. "I had mixed emotions. I just wanted to make sure everything was for the good of the team." LaToya Thomas and Adrienne Goodson had 22 each, and the Stars beat Charlotte. San Antonio thus finished its disappointing season on a high note.

The win didn't mean much for the Stars, but it sure hurt the Sting. They dropped into a tie for fourth with Detroit. The two teams will battle head-to-head for the final playoff spot at the Palace on Sunday.
The Onion reports: Female Athletes Making Great Strides in Attractiveness.

Friday, September 17, 2004

In a huge game for both teams, the Liberty topped the Fever last night in OT.

"You lose and you're done," coach Coyle said. "We don't want to go home yet. They played their hearts out tonight."

Hammon had a big night, fighting hard to keep her team in the hunt, and finishing with 28 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals. "We had to crank it up a level tonight and we did that," she said. "This race is too close. We can't afford to slip up."

And in the blink of an eye, the Fever have fallen from the top of the East to the bottom.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Debating the merits of this blog... Sara's massive ego about her basketball abilities may have cost us some readers. But hey -- she did beat Katie Smith once in a three-on-three tourney! It ain't braggin if it's da troof!
Phoenix is doing its best to keep Sacramento in the playoff race. The Monarchs have dropped three in a row, but with the loss in Seattle last night, the Mercury have kept pace.

Taurasi had a better game last night, but the Merc's lack of inside game once again allowed LJ to rampage in the paint.

"This game was about trying to move up in the playoffs," coach Graf said. "Now, it's just about making the playoffs." Phoenix has two games left, both at home, against Washington and Houston.
Connecticut took sole possession of first and clinched a playoff berth by beating Charlotte.

"That was our first goal, to make the playoffs, and we accomplished it," Lindsay Whalen said. "Now we've got two more games to try to win the conference."

With the loss, Charlotte hurt its chances for homecourt and left open the possibility of missing the playoffs altogether. "I'm disappointed in how we played in such a big game," Dawn Staley said. "I thought we'd compete a little bit more, have a little energy. We controlled our destiny."

The Sting will probably have to win one of its final two games, both of which are on the road. Luckily, one of those two is in San Antonio.
Washington won its fourth in a row and climbed to .500, in a tie for second. Alana Beard led the Mystics to a 53 point second half.

"It was a good win for our team," oach Adams said. "Beard stepped it up for us tonight. She blocked shots, had some great assists and even a steal. She's making us a better team."

In the Post today, Sally Jenkins offers a theory as to why Washington is doing better without Mique: "When Holdsclaw was active, some of the Mystics felt less directly responsible for the team's fate, so they simply did less. The most vivid evidence of that was their embarrassing showing against Indiana two weeks ago, when they were only able to muster 42 points. (Anyone who thinks Holdsclaw hasn't delivered around here just needed to check that score to understand how much the team leaned on her.) But since then, each and every one of the Mystics is playing as if they are directly accountable for their won-loss record (16-16), and that's a quality they can take into next season, no matter what the outcome of this one."

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

More injury news from Knoxville...

One week after Candace Parker underwent follow-up surgery on her left knee (following arthroscopic procedure which was performed on Parker's left knee on August. 26, 2004), freshman post, Alex Fuller, had her knee scoped and will have to have more surgery.

"Alex was experiencing some instability in her left knee and, upon further testing, it was determined that she needed to undergo arthroscopic surgery to assess the source of the instability," indicated [Jenny]Moshak, [Assistant Athletics Director for Sports Medicine]. "The scope was performed today by UT Team Orthopedist, Dr. William T. Youmans at the UT Medical Center. "Alex will begin rehabilitation immediately. However, further surgery will be required to repair her knee completely," said Moshak.

Best wishes on a speedy recovery to both young women.

Tough break for Florida State - Genesis Choice opts out of her final year with the Seminoles.

In the past year, Florida State has lost the following post players:

- Choice (9.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg)
- Trinetta Moore (7.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg)
- Lauren Bradley (8.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg)
- Ronalda Pierce (5.3 ppg, 3.5 ppg)

While the losses of Moore and Bradley were to graduation, Pierce tragically died last season from a ruptured aorta.

In the post, the losses amount to 30.4 ppg and 18.8 rpg. Florida State has only 6 players returning, and none of them are posts. Of course, they also lost leading scorer Tasheika Allen. Obviously, the freshmen will be called upon to contribute early and often.

FSU looked poise to break through to the elite in the ACC (see 2000-2001), but has been supplanted by Maryland. This recent development will not help Coach Sue Semrau's team move up in the standings of the new ACC.
Trying to keep up with the "East Gone Wild?" Take a look at the WNBA Playoff Picture.
Detroit isn't ready to quit just yet. Down three with less than three seconds left, Cheryl Ford grabbed an offensive rebound and threw it out to Deanna Nolan. Nolan drained it to send the game to OT, and, in the process, got herself on SportsCenter's Top Plays this morning.

"It was a sigh of relief when it went in, knowing that we had another opportunity to win the game," Nolan said. The Shock went on to dominate the extra frame.

“For once, something went right for us," said Coach Laimbeer. "Deanna’s shot goes in. That was a lot of fun. A lot will happen in the next three days. Things (the playoff picture) will be very clear when we take the court Sunday.”

Right now, however, it's anything but clear. The spread is only a game and a half from the top of the East to the bottom.
With Minnesota's loss, Phoenix had a chance to jump into third place last night. The Merc led early at Staples, but couldn't hold on.

"They're the best team in the league in running and controlling momentum," coach Graf said of the Sparks. "They are one of the only teams in the league that can get 10 or 12 points in the blink of an eye."

Lisa Leslie had yet another huge night. 31 points, 7 boards, 3 blocks, 3 steals.

"This was an important game for us to win," Leslie said. "And I thought we did a good job on Diana tonight. I don't know how many points she scored, but I know it wasn't many, and she's a great player."

Taurasi scored 7 on 3-for-12 shooting. In the LA Times today, Mike Terry wonders if fatique has worn D down.

Coach Graf isn't too worried. "She has hit a wall before. It's been a long, hard year for her. We have to find a way to keep her involved and keep her fresh because she is such a talented young player. But it's also a team game. Obviously we need her feeling good about how she's playing. But she gives us more than just scoring."

Diana isn't worried either: "I feel fine."
Houston kept its slim playoff hopes alive last night by beating the Lynx. Tina Thompson led with 27 points, but she gave all the credit to Octavia Blue, who played with the sort of energy and desperation the Comets needed.

"Oh, gosh, Octavia was kind of awesome," Tina said. "She gave us the energy that we needed and that we've been looking for. She did what she does every day in practice."

"We started off kind of flat, and when I got in the game," said Blue. "I just wanted to bring some energy to the team, just hustle and rebound. And everything else just kind of fell into place."
Just heard from the Georgia sports info department -- aforementioned rumors about one of the Dogs' star players are untrue.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Lisa Leslie on the MVP: "Everybody talks about whether it's Lisa or Lauren (Jackson). No, it's just Lisa and by the time I'm done with what I have to do, there will be no doubt. I'm not big into individual honors, it's all about championships with me. I just feel a little slighted and frustrated with all the talk about who is the MVP."

(She appears to have picked up the habit of referring to herself in the third person, typically a sign of egomania or creeping dementia, or both.)

The reason people campaign against Lisa for the MVP every year is that they don't like her. The reason they don't like her is because she says stuff like this.

She is right -- she deserves the award. But why does she have to blow her own horn? How about something like: "I'm proud of my team's performance and my personal performance this year, but there are lots of great players. It's an honor to be considered, but whoever wins will be deserving."

Is that so hard?
With Swin Cash out for the season, Detroit seems to be on the verge of completing the worst-to-first-to-worst cycle.

"We did not take care of business early in the season," coach Bill Laimbeer said. "We got caught up in some injuries and let the rest of the Eastern Conference hang around."

The Shock have only two game left: tonight against the Lib and Sunday against Charlotte. Both games are at home, and Detroit will probably need to win both to sneak into the playoffs.
Seattle got back on the winning track yesterday by beating Indiana.

LJ made a basket in the final minute to finish the Fever off. Coach Winters, however, thought Jackson didn't get the shot off till after the shot clock had expired.

"It was close," Winters said. "Until you look at the film and kind of hear the horn, I don't know. I'll have to talk to the TV commentators. It was very close. That could have gone either way, and there were some other things that could go either way."

"We are fighting for home court, trying to finish second," Lauren said. "We know what we had to do and we did it. We went out and got the job done."

With the win, Seattle solidified its hold on second. Indiana, meanwhile, dropped to fifth in the East.
Despite only being down nine at the half, with only 7 rebounds, the Seattle Storm rallied in the second half to defeat the Indiana Fever, 76-70.

Sue Bird had four turnovers in the first half, but scored 14 of her 17 points in the second half to lead the Storm comeback. Lauren Jackson had 20 points and 9 rebounds, while Janell Burse had 10 points and tied a career high with 5 blocks.

For Indiana, the loss is a killer. Last week, they were in first place in the East; now they are tied for 5th. Their final two games are against conference opponents on the road, where the team is 5-10 this year.

Monday, September 13, 2004

The Washington Mystics' Alana Beard becomes the first rookie since Tamika Catchings to win WNBA Player of the Week.

For the week, Beard ranked second in the WNBA in scoring average (22.3), third in steals (3.00), eighth in assists (4.0) and 12th in rebounding (5.7), while shooting 53.7 percent (29-for-54) from the field and 66.7 percent (4-for-6) from behind the three-point line. The Mystics (15-16) recorded a perfect 3-0 week.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Rutgers star Cappie Pondexter will miss the first half of the season. Taking a cue from Jia and Chamique, she refused to say what the condition is.

"I can assure you that this is not a life-threatening condition or a substance abuse issue. This is a personal matter and I would appreciate it if people will accept and respect that. I look forward to rejoining my team for the second half of the season. This is all I have to say about this situation and I will not allow anyone else to speak about it on my behalf."
The Lynx got an important upset win last night over Seattle. Minnesota had a good shooting night, led by Teresa Edwards' 18 points including 3-for-4 from outside.

We missed the game (bocce in Brainerd) but Professor Steve sent in this report: "amazing game with many, many ups and downs: normal sloppy play by the Lynx (26 TOs, 24 FGs) overcome by Teresa's best game since she put on Lynx uniform, by superb outside shooting (over 50% at one point) for the first twelve minutes, and by great hustle towards end. Teresa justified Suzie's belief in her many times over, and Helen did a fine job at the point (10 assists)-- our offensive sets seemed really out of synch for the middle third of the game, but then recovered sharply, especially when Svet came back in. Great way to close out the home season; best crowd all year."

Edwards knew the team was on the ropes. "We still have a lot to prove," she said. "I don't want to go out like a chump; we're not going to roll over and die."

Unfortunatly, after last night's big win, the Lynx had to get up in the wee hours today and catch a 6:30 flight to Charlotte for tonight's game. They started off with 7 turnovers in 8 possessions, went down 12-0, and went on to lose the game.

"We left for the airport at 4:30 this morning and traveled here to play in less than 24 hours," said coach SMS. "I don't like to make excuses, but we just didn't have it tonight. Our starters didn't have their legs."

Smith-Taylor led the Sting tonight with 13. With the win, Charlotte (as the only team in the East over .500) take a half game lead.
Gregory Moore at the Black Athlete Sports Network has a solution for the San Antonio Silver Stars: fire COO Clarissa Davis-Wrightsil.

Mr. Moore suggests that former coach Dee Brown and Davis-Wrightsil clashed over player personnel decisions; specifically, he discusses a rumor that Davis-Wrightsil refused to trade Margo Dydek and Adrienne Goodson, because they were 'fan favorites.' He also claims the franchise lost any chance for success in San Antonio when Davis-Wrightsil traded Natalie Williams.

On the court, San Antonio won its second game in a row (after losing its previous nine), defeating the Indiana Fever, 82-65. LaToya Thomas had her second big game in a row, while Tamika Catchings played limited minutes for the Fever with an injured left big toe.

Friday, September 10, 2004

The SLAM rankings have caused a frenzy on the Boneyard, as many UConn fans feel UConn should be ranked higher.

Granted, SLAM had Texas #1 last year, and some UConn fans complained. After all, UConn did not lose anyone from the 2003 National Championship team. The SLAM writer believed that Texas' recruits, specifically Tiffany Jackson, and the lack of major losses from Texas put them over the top. In other words, while neither team lost anyone, Texas' incoming players were that much better, in the SLAM writer's estimation.

And for the past two years, Geno Auriemma has reminded us that he had Diana Taurasi, and the other teams did not. Now, he does not. There is also a question of Jessica Moore's status, as she recovers from an ACL injury. Coupled with Liz Sherwood's transfer, UConn could be two posts down to start the season. In other words, I can certainly understand the SLAM writer's reasoning.

This year, however, I do believe UConn should get the benefit of the doubt. Georgia is iffy, especially with rumors flying about the status of one of the team's star players. [UPDATE: rumors untrue.] Baylor is certainly top 10, but probably closer to 6 or 7 than to the top. UConn added an elite recruit (or, as Brick Oettinger would say, a 'high big time prospect') in Charde Houston and a top 20-25 player in Mel Thomas.

I would rank LSU as the top team, as the Final Four squad returns Seimone Augustus, Temeka Johnson, and a number of role players, while adding the best incoming post player in Sylvia Fowles, plus two elite guards in Quianna Chaney and Erica White. I have not decided if UConn is #2 or if Tennessee is #2, but both of those two teams would round out my top three.
SLAM Magazine's preseason WCBB picks for the 2004-2005 season:

1. LSU
2. Tennessee
3. Baylor
4. Georgia
5. Texas
6. UConn
7. Duke
8. Stanford
9. Rutgers
10. Notre Dame
Stacey Geyer responds to the rumors that Holdsclaw isn't playing just because she doesn't like Adams: "this is where the silence about her illness truly hurts Holdsclaw. It makes plausible the implication that she is not truly sick."

Voepel made a related point last week: "You know, maybe Holdsclaw should have just used the old 'back spasms' line."

Mique apparently has some condition that she wants to keep private for whatever reason, so she didn't want to make it public. Perfectly understandable. But you do sort of wonder, especially in retrospect, why she didn't just pull a Serena, say something like "My back is hurting, and my doctors say I'm risking permanent injury if I keep playing, so I'll have to sit out."

Maybe it wouldn't have been entirely honest, but it probably would have ended some of the rumor mongering. Probably the Washington Times would have never even gotten interested in the story, and neither she nor anyone else would have faced the endless questioning.
Lisa Leslie: triple-double. An unconventional one at that -- 29 points, 15 rebounds, and 10 BLOCKS!

Said Leslie, making a little fun of herself: "I almost had another one once, but that would have been with 10 turnovers. So I think it's a great accomplishment; I never thought I would do this in my career."

Yes, it is a great accomplishment, just the third triple-double in league history. Yes, folks, she's the MVP.
In an important game for two teams on the cusp of the playoffs, Charlotte topped Sacramento.

The Sting are now in tied for first with Indiana and New York, half game up on Connecticut, full game up on D.C. The Monarchs are now in fifth, a game and a half behind the Lynx and Merc.

How did a team like Charlotte -- which isn't really very good -- end up in first place? "We're an unlikely bunch, but we take pride in that," coach Trudi Lacey said. "It's just heart and determination."
Silver Stars win!!! (not a misprint)

"This is the best feeling in the world," said LaToya Thomas, who scored a career-high 26 points and 10 boards. "We are just so excited to win again. I really don't know how I can describe it."

Houston is essentially (though not quite mathematically) eliminated from the playoffs with the loss.

"It's all about pride," said Sheryl Swoopes. "And that's the position we're in right now. Regardless of our record. Regardless of whether we're going to make the playoffs or not. We should have pride to go out and compete every single night."

Thursday, September 09, 2004

The Washington Times suggests there is a rift on the Washington Mystics between Chamique Holdsclaw and Head Coach Michael Adams...and that one will not be back next season.

Last night,
Alana Beard scored 26 points as the Mystics defeated the New York Liberty, 71-58. But the talk of the town in The Washington Post's game story is the denial that a rift between Holdsclaw and Coach Adams has caused Mique's absence. Team President, Susan O'Malley states Mique's absence is for an unspecified medical condition. Pat Summitt says that the rumor that a rift is the reason Mique is on the injured list is false.

Notice that both do not deny a rift...just that a rift is not the cause of Chamique's absence. Now, Murriel Page claims that there isn't a rift between Chamique and Coach Adams. Yet I have heard rumors of a rift for a few months now. Remember, this is Adams' first coaching job. And Chamique has had conflicts with other coaches in Washington who were eventually fired. Nancy Darsch was one. WS&E fired Darsch, in large part because of the Mique-Darsch conflict. Tom Maher was another coach Chamique did not care for (and former Mystics star, Nikki McCray, was not a fan of Maher either).

In pro sports, coaches can be and are hired and fired because of the players. The players rule the game in the pros (in contrast to college, where the coaches rule).

What is interesting is the rumored fued between Holdsclaw and McCray. I do not believe it is true. When Phoenix was considering signing McCray as a free agent, Chamique made a phone call to Seth Sulka (Mercury GM) on Nikki's behalf. Mique had great things to say about Nikki (about her locker room demeanor and her defense) and Sulka used those comments to make the decision to sign McCray.

Lo Jack returned and Seattle gave Detroit a big old beat down. Sue Bird led the way with 23 on 8-for-9 shooting, plus 8 assists, 3 steals, only 2 turnovers.

"(Lauren) looked a little off, but what a difference maker she is for us," coach Donovan said. "We're such a better team when she's there. Offensively and defensively, we're much more confident."

In the Seattle Times today, Steve Kelley wonders about LJ's health. She plays a ton all over the world. She struggles with various injuries. Her conditioning is always a question mark.

Coach Donovan also worries, especially after seeing how non-Storm doctors treat Lauren. In Athens, they shot her foot up with cortisone.

"When she had both of those cortisone shots it concerned me greatly because it's not our way," Donovan said. "It's not the way we do things over here. Professional athletes know now they can't do that to their bodies. Lauren was relatively healthy when she was here. Then I saw her in Athens and she told me she had the first injection and then when she told me she had the second injection a day later. I was just incredulous."

LJ says no worries. "Am I playing too much basketball? No, not at all. It's just one of those things that you love. I'm having fun. And I don't put pressure on myself."
More surgery for Candace Parker yesterday. Unclear when she'll be ready.
Blaze tells the Times what a great job she's done, how smart it was to fire Richie, etc.
The Wash Times wonders if Mique will ever play again for the Mystics.

"WNBA sources say the reason for Holdsclaw's absence is that so strong a conflict exists between her and first-year coach Michael Adams, one or the other is almost certain to depart before next season."
Well, I'm not sure it's quite as bad as Sara makes it sound for the Lynx. We are doing reasonably well without Katie -- Ohlde's still kicking ass, Svet has stepped up, etc. A few more free throws down the stretch (ahem, Nicole) would have given us a real chance.

"This is one we let slip away," said coach SMS. "We let it slip away and that's the bottom line."

But the sad truth is this: the Lynx are now hanging on to a playoff spot by only one game. Four of our last five games are on the road. Two of our last five games are against the league's two best teams, Seattle and LA.

Our best hope is that Sacto falls apart.
Ted and I attended the Lynx/Sting game last night at the Target Center. We walked away with only one very sad obeservation about our home team--without Katie Smith we are a terrible basketball team. Without Katie the Lynx have no consistent scoring threat from outside and no leadership on the floor.

The lack leadership is made worse by thte fact that we don't really have a true point guard. Teresa Edwards is great, but she can't play a full game and frankly when we are going up against an opposing point guard like Dawn Staley, she just doesn't have the legs she used to. Amber Jacobs isn't doing too bad for a rookie, but she is not a point guard. Amber's bread and butter is shooting, not running the offense. Darling is fine, but she doesn't have the foot speed and is not any sort of threat to shoot so her defender can just sag off in the passing lanes making it hard to initiate the offense.

To their credit, the Lynx got off to a strong start and were leading through the first 10 minutes of the game. The Lynx, however, couldn't keep it going and Charlotte took a 33-32 lead going into the half. After the break, the wheels came off. The Lynx scored only five points in the first seven minutes of the half. It was depressing. They were able to close the gap to 4 pts in the closing minute, but don't be fooled by the final score (72-68)--the Lynx were never in danger of winning.

The good news is Svetlana looks like she is healthly and has some fire in her eyes. She was all over the place last night. And, Ted and I signed up for season tickets for next season so we will have more live reports.

Please heal quickly Katie. We need you next year.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

It's official: Holdsclaw is done for the season. (Maybe Wilbon pushed her over the edge?) She still won't say what the reason is.

"I understand that many have called on me to further explain why I am not able to play. However, for reasons that are deeply personal, I find myself unable to provide a more detailed explanation at this time. I just do not yet feel comfortable addressing this publicly."

Latest internet theory: she has bad allergies.

Coach Summitt says she was surprised by the announcement.
And in other news from Washington, the Mystics played last night before what might have been their smallest crowd ever, announced at 9,200, perhaps half that in reality. When much of your audience is school-aged kids, weeknight games are tough.
Led by a great effort from Alana Beard, the Mystics beat Sacto. Chamique Holdsclaw was once again absent from the bench.

Ubercolumnist Mike Wilbon trashes Holdsclaw in today's Post.

"Holdsclaw has been one huge disappointment for the simple reason that when her team needs her, she never delivers." "[T]he question still remains as to whether she's even made the commitment to winning, and to her teammates." "If this was her first time being absent, we could extend the benefit of the doubt. But it isn't."


Well, as long as we're back on the subject of Mique, maybe it's time to kick around another theory about why she's gone:

Premise 1: Holdsclaw doesn't like playing with gay people.
Premise 2: The New York Liberty organization doesn't like having gay players.
Premise 3: Holdsclaw has said she might like playing near her family.
Premise 4: Holdsclaw is from New York.

Hmmmm.... it's all starting to make sense now.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Absurd night at Flushing Meadows.

Basically, a nice match between Serena and Capriati. Not pretty (lots of errors), but a close, hard-fought match full of close, hard-fought points.

But the match was marred irretrievably by one unbelievably, inexplicably, ridiculously bad call at a key point. "I'm very angry and bitter right now. I felt cheated. Shall I go on? I just feel robbed," Serena said afterward.

Then on top of it all, Serena had three bad line calls go against her in the final game. You can rarely say this in tennis, but the line calls decided tonight's match.

Serena has lost some points with me lately. Wasting her talent, abandoning the Olympics at the last minutes, etc. I started off cheering for Jenny, but by the end I was hoping Serena would get justice. She didn't.

Mariana Alves: you suck.
New from Los Angeles...

The Sparks added Mfon Udoka to their roster. Udoka, who previously played for the Houstom Comets (and was waived by Van Chancellor) put up great numbers at the Olympics and could really help the Sparks in the post.

Rafaella Masciadri and Laura Macchi were both placed on team suspension as they returned to Italy to compete for the Italian National team. The WNBA rookies are expected to return to Los Angeles following the European Championship games in late September.
The Russian Revolution continued last night in women's tennis as Nadia Petrova knocked off defending champ Justine Henin-Herdenne.

It wasn't even a close match. Henin was exhausted from the Olympic tournament and got drubbed by Petrova. "You don't feel good, you don't feel your game," Henin said. "It's normal what happened this week. I never felt free in my head, or 100 percent on the court.

On the other side of the draw, Serena faces Capriati tonight. Serena has been looking good, despite the knee injury which made it absolutely impossible for her to play in Athens just two weeks ago.

Serena says it took "guts" for her to pull out of the Olympics. She says she's now ignoring the doctors. I don't know if she really thinks that any of us are buying this crap, but Capriati certainly isn't. "I believe that from now on, I don't believe what anybody says," Jenny said.

All that nonsense aside, we should be treated to a great match tonight. After the women play on Ashe, Roddick and Federer will take the stage. [Oops -- Andy meets Robredo tonight. It's Agassi-Federer tomorrow.]
Only one game tonight in the association, as Washington hosts the Monarchs.

The Mystics haven't looked good since the break ended. "We've worked on so many different things, and to me, the break hurt us because we were clicking as a group," coach Adams said. "We've just gotten out of sync."

Sacramento, meanwhile, is hot. It is in a close fight with Seattle, Phoenix, and Minnesota for playoff spots. "Every game is a must-win for us," said Yo Griffith. "It doesn't matter who we play."
Coach T-Bone on his team: "I'm not making excuses for the team, but I have to say: If you took a coaches poll of the league of which teams they would rather coach, ours or some of the others in our conference, I don't know if everybody is jumping up to coach ours. So we have to win by playing defense, passing the ball. And the shots have to go in."

So he thinks he has less talent than other teams. So if they lose, it's not his fault, and if they win, he's a genius. A strange quote, to be sure... but possibly correct.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Pat Summitt defends Chamique Holdsclaw and the Washington Mystics.

A few eyebrows were raised when Holdsclaw chose not to join her team on the sidelines during Wednesday night's loss to the Indiana Fever even though she had told club executives that she felt well enough to practice the next day. It's customary for injured athletes to offer teammates support by sitting with them during games.

"She was at the game," said Summitt, who coached Holdsclaw at Tennessee during the late 1990s. "She sat with me in the skybox."

As to why Holdsclaw appeared to suddenly recover the day after going on the injured list, Summitt said that the player informed the club "well before" Wednesday that she would return to practice on Thursday.

The Kedra Holland-Corn situation is the icing on the cake. Van Chancellor has to go, as coach and general manager.

It is no secret Van has been searching for a point guard like Kim Perrot since 1998. Ukari Figgs was the closest player. Yet last year, Chancellor ran Figgs out of town and out of the league. He then picks up Sheila Lambert, whose game is completely different from that of Perrot and Figgs...more scoring potential, more volatility, and much less consistency.

Look at Full Court Press' All-Olympic Team. Chancellor waived two players who made the Second Team, Mfon Udoka (21.8 points, 10.2 rebounds at the Olympics) and Amaya Valdemoro (18.9 points, 39% from three in Athens) Think they might have helped off the bench this year? He also waived Tynesha Lewis, who has been a great backup in Charlotte, scoring 6.7 points in 17.9 minutes per game. Incidentally, only three Comets players currently average more than 6.7 ppg.

And while waiving talented players, Chancellor inexplicably held on to non-contributors Kelley Gibson and Octavia Blue, and occasional contributor Tiffani Johnson, much to the ire of the fans and message board posters.

No one complained when Houston was winning. But it is time to face reality: "No Coop, No Ring." Houston has been unable to win a playoff series without Cynthia Cooper. Yet the team was still competitive, thanks to Sheryl Swoopes and Tina Thompson.

What kept Houston as a contender, however, was Janeth Arcain, the glue that held the entire franchise. Arcain could play any perimeter position. She was able to provide whatever was needed (scoring, defense, point guard play, rebounding, assists, leadership, etc.). Off the court, the Comets were not as appreciative of what Janeth did as they should have been. Without her, the Comets are in sixth place in the West, despite having two starters from the U.S. Olympic Team. It is no surprise that attendance is down as well (only about 7900 fans per game).

The franchise needs revitalization, fresh life, and a boost of energy. A new coach and a new GM (suggestion...not the same person) to replace Van Chancellor need to happen first.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Kedra Holland-Corn and Van Chancellor speak, but do not say much.

Holland-Corn refused to go into specifics about why she decided to seek her release from the Comets. "I can't elaborate on it. I basically have no comment about the situation," she said. "Everything I wanted to say is pretty much in the press release."

The only comment contained in a prepared statement released by the Comets on Friday afternoon was by coach Van Chancellor, who said, "Kedra Holland-Corn has decided to leave the Houston Comets, and we have granted Kedra her release."

Friday, September 03, 2004

The Houston Comets waived Kedra Holland-Corn today.

Kedra was under a guaranteed three-year contract, averaging about $70,000+ per year. I have it from a very good source that it was Kedra who made the request. Granted, Houston could have suspended her and try to salvage some trade value. But this makes two guards in two years that Van Chancellor ran off (Ukari Figgs is the other).

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Two games, two wins...the Sacramento Monarchs move into sole possession of fourth place in the West, by beating San Antonio 66-64 (thanks to DeMya Walker's last-second layup).

The Silver Stars have now lost 8 games in a row and are faced with a quandry: Does the team build the franchise around Marie Ferdinand or LaToya Thomas?

As for Charlotte-New York, the Radio City magic helps the Liberty overcome a 13-point halftime deficit to beat the Sting, 56-52. La'Keisha Frett and Crystal Robinson led the second half charge.

The win not only allowed the Liberty to open up a lead of 1.5 games in the East, it also marked the first time since 2000 that Charlotte was swept in the four-game series. And New York is now 3-0 at Radio City Music Hall. Hey, the Republicans might have actually done something good for this country...or at least the Liberty.
News of the weird...a few days after being placed on the injured reserve, Chamique Holdsclaw shows up at practice. And despite her mysterious medical condition, she displayed no visible signs of injury or illness as she took part in drills and scrimmages.

Chamique also apparently attended the last game, but did not sit on the team's bench. She was apparently sitting in a box/suite with Pat Summitt.

In keeping with Holdsclaw's mysterious situation, team officials refused to let the franchise star speak with reporters to explain her unexpected return.
Back to the woods for us, offline till Monday. Happy Labor Day.
The Storm found out yesterday that they'd be without LJ for awhile. She is exhausted from the Olympics and her foot has been acting up again. On top of it all, her mom called to say that her grandmother is dying. Lauren decided to fly home for a few days.

"The poor girl is exhausted. She probably really hasn't had a moment to sit down, relax and deal with all of this," said Tully Bevilaqua. "It's better for her to go and do this now. It's a serious situation and, just in case, she needs to be there."

In last night's game, Bird and Lennox shot well, but without Jackson in the middle, Yo and the Monarchs tore the game up inside -- 38 points in the paint to 18 -- and got the win.
Holdsclaw released another statement to respond to the latest rumors about her absence. She says she's not unhappy with the organization or the team.

The remaining Mystics said they were ready to finish the year without her.

"I don't know if you believe it, but I don't think one player makes a team," Tamicha Jackson said. "This is our job. We get paid no matter who else is on the court with you. You get paid to do your job. 'Mique has played several years, and she's been injured maybe every year. [The Mystics] always had to play without her. So I don't think her not being here is such a big difference for this organization."

But last night, Washington got pounded by the Fever at the MCI Center. Jackson had 2 points, 1 assist, and 2 turnovers.

"I think a lot of practice time can really hurt a team because you practice and you work on things and you do so well," said Chasity Melvin. "We practice so good, and it didn't come over to the game today. You would have thought we were in the Bahamas for the whole break the way we played tonight."