Women's Hoops Blog: July 2006

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Monday, July 31, 2006

More from Sooner nation - both Coach Coale and Courtney Paris have joined the blogging world. Their entries can be read on the Sooner Website or on ESPN.com.

Coale is a wonderful writer (and of course a former English teacher) and Courtney is a journalism major who shares an entertaining story from a recent road trip with her sister, Ashley and teammate Carolyn Winchester.

Both Courtney and Ashley are busy this week with USA Basketball and the U20 National Team.
Coach Coale gets excited about the upcoming Sooners season.

Courtney Paris-mania, and OU's undefeated Big XII season, will likely lead to record-breaking attendance; incoming frosh include Hakeem Olajuwon's daughter (who shows up this year) and Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger's sister (who has committed for '07-08).
If you plan to attend Tuesday's Storm-at-Lynx matchup, consider arriving early: at 5:30pm in the Target Center (though not on the basketball court), Seattle reporter Jayda Evans will talk about her neat new book on the Storm, and Steve will read from, or chat about, Shot Clocks.
Two more games from yesterday's basketball blitz:

1. DC won a messy, back-and-forth match against Charlotte. The home win clinches the Mystics' playoff bid. D-Nasty scored 26. (McCarville did not play.)

The game didn't have much offensive flow, to say the least. It did feature Beard's first-ever ejection, a fan who got kicked out afterwards, an impromptu poster razzing a referee (which the team-- risking a fine-- put up on the Jumbotron), and Nakia Sanford's enthusiastic apology.

"I'm sorry it was so ugly," Sanford told fans afterwards. "But we won and now we're going to the playoffs."

2. The Storm lost a heartbreaker at home. Down three, with the last shot, Betty Lennox shot a two: either she lost her head, or she hoped for the foul. "I thought I got fouled," Lennox said. "We probably should have yelled out," Lauren Jackson admitted.

Injuries notwithstanding, LJ shone, with 27 points in 20 minutes-- but Lisa Leslie dropped 31. Jackson's late turnover marred a near-perfect, all-out effort from the much-injured Australian.

Pelton: "I won't be surprised if Lauren Jackson passes out, exhausted, at the conclusion of this game. She... used every ounce of her energy in the fourth quarter trying to spur the Storm to victory."
In a blatant attempt to give us typing injuries, every single team in the league played yesterday. We'll take the rest of the games like stair steps, a few at a time:

1. The visiting Stars put the clamps on Connecticut's starters, but they couldn't do much about Asjha Jones: the UConn alum led all scorers, and the Sun won the game from the line.

Jones' 22 tied a career high. Coach Thibault: "We threw her the ball almost every time down for about six minutes and told her to go."

Jones always comes off the bench, but she always scores; less expected contributions arrived from Le'Coe Willingham. Thibault: "Everybody talks about those shots she made, but the hustle plays she made on loose balls and rebounds were really important plays for momentum."

2. The Mercury keep giving speedy, exciting, close games, and keep on losing them in the closing seconds. It's enough to drive Merc fans to drink.

This time the pain came from Houston's Ndiaye-Diatta, whose midrange shot capped a come-from-behind run. Ndiaye-Diatta joined the team as an injury replacement after the All-Star break.

Van called it "a miracle win," which seems a bit strong. For much of the match, the Merc's zone defense created a three-point contest, in which Staley (5-11 from long range) kept up with Diana (4-10). (One of Staley's treys fell during a shot clock malfunction, while D was pointing, aggrieved, at the unmoving numbers.)

As usual, the Merc suffered on the boards. Coach Westhead says Houston got "what seemed like innumerable offensive rebounds": the last few cost Phoenix the game.

3. The Shock fell apart in Sacramento, in a game reminiscent of last July. The Monarchs avenged last week's hammering in Detroit. Brunson caught fire, sinking seven of nine: every player on Sac's roster scored.
Vicki Friedman of the Virginian Pilot talks to area players who have tried to make it in the WNBA. Among those interviewed are Yolanda Paige, Monique Coker and Cynthia Jordan. She also talks to Storm coach Anne Donovan who says, "If a player's not in the league, there's a reason. They still don't have the skill level."
The Fever handed the Sky a 69-64 loss at home last night.

Despite scoring a personal and franchise best 25 points, Candace Dupree could not drag her team to a win. Indiana's occasionally sloppy play kept Chicago in the game, and the Sky narrowed the deficit to just one point in the third quarter, but they never managed to take the lead. Tamika Catchings had a solid night for the Fever, with 20 points, nine rebounds and four steals.

Amanda Lassiter: "You fight back and you fight back and you fight back, and you finally get there, and you kind of hit a wall." Dupree: "Everybody is tired of hearing the same thing over and over--`Good game, you almost had it.'"
The Liberty last night extended their winning streak to three with a 78-69 defeat of the beleaguered Lynx at MSG. New York has been eliminated from the playoff race, but the Lynx still have a prayer in the West.

With two starters scoreless and another managing just one field goal, Minnesota struggled offensively when the ball was not in the hands of Seimone Augustus, who single-handedly erased a 17-point deficit in the third quarter. But Ashley Battle's tough defense then limited Augustus to just five more points. Barb Farris and Shameka Christon stepped up for the Liberty with 20 points each, and Christon continued her blocking spree, coming up with four last night.

It seems as though the NY press has bought into Patty Coyle's optimism about what this tiny winning streak means for next year. Said the Post, for example: "The recent improvement could be an indication that the new roster, which struggled to come together all year, may not have similar trouble next year."

The Liberty have been playing better, but their three wins have come against three of the four worst teams in the league. How will the "magic formula" hold up in the remaining games against Connecticut, Detroit and Indiana?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

All apologies to Bob Wischusen for of my post (below). Evidently I have erred along with everyone else on the MSG broadcast who pronounced Christon as Christon rather than Christian on several occasions. A tip of the hat to Steve who was good enough to gently point out the error.

And now for something completely different.

Interviewer: Good evening. I have with me in the studio tonight one of the country's leading skin specialists, Raymond Luxury Yacht.
Raymond Luxury Yacht: That's not my name!
Interviewer: [tries literal pronunciation] I'm sorry; Raymond Luxury Yatscht.
Raymond Luxury Yacht: No no no, it's spelled, "Raymond Luxury Yacht," but it's pronounced, "Throat Warbler Mangrove".
Interviewer: You are a very silly man, and I'm not going to interview you.
Two things that MSG play-by-play announcer Bob Wischusen could do to make me a happier WNBA fan:

1) Actually learn how to pronounce the Liberty players' names correctly, because I'm pretty sure no Liberty player has the same name as one of the Earth's major monotheistic religions.

2) Make a serious effort to figure out the difference between Abrosimova, Duffy, and Mann (no really, this error was made over and over during the game - particularly in the 3rd Quarter). My suggestion for a method for telling the difference follows:

A) Figure out which players are on the floor - then do not repeatedly attribute actions to players who are on the bench.
B) Read the names on the backs of each uniform as the action occurs, announce accordingly.
C) Read the numbers on each uniform, match the number to the corresponding last name, and announce accordingly.
Courtesy of Stever: A look at Cathrine Kraayeveld's impressive journey from waivers to the New York starting lineup.

"I'm definitely not the biggest or the strongest post," says Kraay. Ahem. "I think (the Liberty coaches) saw my versatility," she explains. "I can play inside but also shoot outside... That's a big deal." Especially in New York, where three-point shooting seems to be the only recipe for success this year.
One of the league's great posts has something to say about her final season. Yo Griffith says ouch: she's banged up both her knees, and has been playing in pain since early '05.

Yo: "I'm not me this year. I'm just not healthy like I was two years ago. But... I'm still the leader of this team. I know the game. If I score, it's great. If I don't, I know how to play defense." (She sure does.) (Via Stever.)
Janeth Arcain update: Comets fans know that Arcain decided to stay in Brazil this summer to prepare for September's world championships. But Matt Wurst at the league's official blog says Arcain-- who turns 37 this year-- might not make the Brazilian team.

Also at the official blog: Bill Murray. Yes, that Bill Murray.

At the league's fan blog Melissa has... oh, a big list of cool things you should really go read. She wants the Storm in Seattle, and an expansion team in OKC (me too). Kevin (Pilight) says that can only happen if the Sonics divorce the Storm: "Long term success for the W will only come when its teams are no longer the property of dilettante NBA owners."
The Liberty flushed dozens more lottery balls down the toilet last night as they defeated the Sting on the road, 85-80. New York remains about two games behind Charlotte in the East, but last night's win keeps it two games ahead of Chicago, which owns the basement league wide.

Erin Thorn had yet another career night off the bench, shooting an impressive 8 for 13 from the field for 25 points. Ashley Battle also had solid minutes off the bench, with eight points and five assists. Said Coach Coyle: "I thought (Ashley Battle) gave us terrific minutes, but that's what the theme's been all along." Glad you finally noticed, coach!

Tammy Sutton-Brown led the Sting with 19 points and eight rebounds. Charlotte out-rebounded New York by 11 and had four double-digit scorers last night. "If I look at this stat sheet, I swore we would've won the basketball game," lamented Coach Bogues. Sutton-Brown chalks up the loss to weaker second-half defense.

Charlotte, New York and Chicago are locked in a battle for the top pick in next year's draft. With Charlotte known as a rookie hell and New York notorious for its subpar draft-day decisions, let's hope that some fall cleaning is in order for both the Sting and Liberty front offices.
With D-Nasty back, the Mystics might become, not just OK, but good. Last night she scored 19, Alana had 21, and the 'Stics preserved an early lead to down the Fever in Indy.

Two Mystics players went down as well: C-Rob (sprained ankle) and Teasley (back contusion). A win tomorrow against Charlotte would ensure DC a playoff berth.

DC's zone defense was key. Coach Adubato: "Catchings always kills us with penetration. And we wanted to make them shoot from the perimeter." Catch had 17 anyway, but the zone kept Whitmore in check.

Charlotte's loss yesterday guaranteed the Fever a postseason despite the home loss. Catchings: "Where we are right now is definitely not going to win a championship. Every game... we have got to get better."

Also in DC, the BasketCases noted yesterday that new Lynx assistant Jim Lewis gave DC the worst WNBA record ever when he coached the Mystics. Lewis did, though, win plenty of games at George Mason.
In a big, long, ambitious feature, the NY Times' Laura Pappano examines the lives of student-athletes.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

NCAA recruiting rules sure are complex: the Fresno Bee (where the hometown school remains on NCAA probation) looks at the consequences.

Fresno State women's golf coach Angie Cates: "When I'm with a recruit, if I see a booster come our way, we beeline the other way. If I don't have a rulebook in my hand, I don't want to deal with it."
Via sebibb: Mwadi Mabika suspended for one game after clocking Kendra Wecker last Wednesday. Mwadi will miss tomorrow's game against the Storm.
If you think it hurts to be a Seattle fan, try playing for the team. Off the court, last night's Shock at Storm matchup was a roaring success: KeyArena sold out, and fans waved signs and banners in a Stormfans-led campaign to save their team.

On the hardwood, the home team felt nothing but pain. Lauren Jackson sat, too hurt to play; Lennox banged up her knee, and Cisti Greenwalt got a concussion. The Shock won by ten behind Nolan's 23.

Asked about her team's wounds, coach Donovan almost cried. "As a coach, she's got one of the best teams on paper, but everyone is injured," said LJ. "Sometimes I wonder if I'm more a detriment out there because I can't do certain stuff that Anne wants me to do."

Donovan did manage to praise her reserves: "So much heart from players who weren't brought here to play."
It was Groundhog Day for the Mercury in San Antonio: another high-scoring game decided in the final seconds, and another loss on the road-- their third in four days.

This time, the home win belonged to the Silver Stars, who came from behind in the last 2:30. VJ, who scored the game-winner, tallied 25, though much of the Silver Stars' attack came in the post.

VJ: "In the fourth quarter, we sometimes lapse and lose our flow, but tonight we stayed aggressive."
Discombobulated, tired, or just plain bad, the Lynx didn't play any defense till after halftime, and Chicago rode a 52-point first half straight to their fourth-ever win.

As in these teams' last meeting, the Lynx left jump shooters wide open, and Stacey Dales punished them hard, canning six of nine from downtown.

Once again, Big V and Seimone combined for almost half Minnesota's points; once again, the duo weren't nearly enough. (Seimone may have stepped into the unfortunate role Katie Smith left behind: the guard who must score 25 for the Lynx to compete.)

For Chicago, the game was sweet, the more so because they spent half the day in an airport. Dales: Dupree: "We needed this bad. Team morale was starting to drop a little bit." (Thanks to David Meltzer for spotting our error.)
The Sun's starters (plus Jones) put their team way ahead of the Monarchs, who looked worn-out from their back-to-back in Detroit and Indy.

Then the Sun's starters (plus Jones) got tired and let Sacramento almost all the way back. Clutch interior play from the indefatigable Taj preserved the Sun win.

In the locker room afterwards, Taj was so bruised that she couldn't sit down. Everybody played defense: everybody got banged up. Even, apparently, coach Thibault: "I'm exhausted," he exclaimed.

The Day's DiMauro watched casino exec Mitch Etess enjoy the finals rematch. "It's as good a situation as you can be in," says Thibault. "First, Mitch loves the game. Second, he understands. He runs a huge business first class and wants the basketball part of it to be run first class, too."

Lindsay Whalen-- notoriously bad behind the arc for most of this year-- sank three treys in five tries. Nicole Powell sank five of seven, all after halftime.

Sales didn't dress for the game Sun fans can expect her in uniform either at the August 11 home finale, or else in the playoffs; with her team still winning, there's no reason to rush. Sun trainer Lisa Ciaravella says Sales has "been easy to work with"; "you can't ask for somebody who's more willing to get their body better."

Friday, July 28, 2006

Some college-hoops news today, all via the omniscient Kim Callahan:

Natasha Bogdanova screwed up her knee in Hungary: she may, or may not, come back in time to play for Purdue this fall. Bogdanova heard a pop (which could mean an ACL): apparently Purdue's trainer started crying.

The Mountain West Conference continues its troubles with national cable deals: CSTV's new Mountain West subsidiary, called The Mountain, can't reach an agreement with DirecTV.

West Point schedules a doubleheader to commemorate coach Dixon.
The Sting picked up their third road win this season as the Lynx suffered another late collapse. Tan Smith burned the home team for 21, Sheri Sam for 17, including a demoralizing eight in a row after halftime.

Minnesota couldn't hold on to the ball; for stretches, they seemed to have just one guard, Seimone, and one post, Hayden, who combined for more than half the home team's points.

Hayden-- despite mouthing off to the refs-- looked great: 17 points on 7-11 shooting, four blocks, nine boards, and (just) five fouls in 27 minutes. She says she's finally stoked about her team; new coach Carolyn Jenkins offers what Big V calls "A new beginning, a fresh start, a clean slate.... I want to work hard for this woman, and I want to win."
The Mystics won a should-win, must-win, not-that-hard-to-win game against lowly Chicago. Stacey Dales tallied 18 against a team she quit basketball rather than continuing to play on.

Alana, for that very team, had 26. "I can't remember the last time we played like this, when we made the game beautiful," she said. Coach Adubato already has playoff plans; DeLisha Milton says, quite rightly, that nobody should take anything for granted.
In Houston, the Mercury ran a big late comeback behind Diana's forty-one points (yes, forty-one), but Tamecka Dixon disrupted a final play, Michelle Snow got in the way of a buzzer-beater, and the Comets preserved the win.

The Merc made their run despite a near-total void in the low post: with the still-hurting Vodichkova playing only seven minutes, coach Westhead's frontline options consisted of Lacy, Rasmussen, and Kayte Christensen, whom Carrie Graf had cut. Westhead's pedal-to-the-metal style may not get Phoenix to the playoffs this year, but it plainly suits the team he has: one that can play faster than its opponents, and shoot better from outside, but one which will never be taller and stronger.

Houston overcame absences of their own: Thompson and Canty are still out, and Dixon gave limited minutes (sore Achilles). Van: "I don't believe I've ever seen a team win a game as shorthanded as we were. Dixon had said she couldn't play anymore, couldn't walk ... so we sat her down. Then she sees we're beat and she comes back. What a heroic effort; just plays through pain."

Staley scored 21 for the home team; Snow had 15, the much-criticized Tari Phillips-- Snow's low-post substitute-- 19.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Clay nominates Jellybean for Coach of the Year, then examines the rest of the West.
Steve will be on KFAI radio in Minneapolis-St. Paul (and on the Internet everywhere) Friday morning from 7-10am Eastern (that is, 6-9am Central). He'll be plugging Shot Clocks, playing obscure 7" singles, and talking about this year's Lynx with host DJ Blanche.
The Silver Stars hung with the visiting Sparks for three quarters, but fell apart in the fourth, unable to match L.A. in the paint.

Leslie tallied 20, Mwadi Mabika, Holdsclaw and VJ sixteen apiece. Mwadi hit four of six attempted treys, then hit Kendra Wecker in the head; June Courteau showed her the door.

It was the Sparks' second road game in two nights. "We were very tired," Leslie explained.
Elaine Powell was re-signed by Detroit yesterday. (Did she ever really leave?)

A strange sequence of events, no? She gets taken in the expansion draft, only to be cut and returned to her former team... What the hell is going on here?

Here's a hint: watch for a make-up trade between the Shock and Sky sometime next offseason.

EP played one minute last night as Detroit took out the road-weary Monarchs. Cheryl Ford pounded the champs (and also Swin Cash) inside: 24 points on 10 for 13, plus 11 boards.

"She was the same Mailman's daughter as she always is," coach Whisenant said. "She gets a lot of rebounds, and she puts them back. Everything she touches, she hangs onto."

Detroit clinched a playoff berth with the victory.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Jayda Evans thinks David Stern won't let the Storm leave. If the team does relocate, she adds, then Stern must not care:

"If it's moved just because the NBA side of the deal isn't what the new owners want, then I'll have to give in to the belief that the women were nothing but a second thought to make money off of during the summer months ... If the Storm relocates to Oklahoma City — or anywhere else in America — then Stern and WNBA president Donna Orender are full of malarkey."

I'm not sure that's fair. Stern, and Orender, can certainly press Clayton Bennett's group to leave the Storm in Seattle if Bennett and co. take the Sonics-- assuming a willing, financially sound, Storm purchaser can be found. But can the league make the team stay, if Bennett et al insist otherwise?

In Evans' reporting this morning, LJ says again that she plans to stay in Seattle; anonymous sources tell Evans that the league wants the Storm to stay, too. (Via Scullyfu.)

Storm fans organize support, debate collective ownership (it would be difficult), and pursue the supposedly substantial chance that both teams will stay if they can play in Belllevue.
Amanda Brown recently gave deposition testimony in the Portland case. She was Harris's roommate, and the two remain friends, but she's still on Rene's team.

"I'm kind of caught in the middle," she said.
Both the Monarchs and the Fever usually focus on defense. Neither could score for the first twenty minutes in Indy. The home team, though, switched on their offense at the half, and blew the Monarchs away.

Indy shot 71% for the second half. Whitmore scored 20; Catchings scored 16. Long dependent on Catch, the Fever are finally getting help from their young bench. La'Tangela Atkinson: "We're willing to do whatever it takes."
The Mystics brought their fierce press to the casino, but the Sun brought fast breaks and a well-run offense. Washington dominated the second quarter, but the home team won going away.

Erin Phillips brought her parents, who saw their daughter score a career-high 19. Taj McWilliams-Franklin brought her husband, just back from Iraq, and her interior game, as good as ever. Katie Douglas brought everything: defense, three-point shooting, layups and dribble drives. Douglas matched her own career high with 28.

That second quarter was weird, though. Coach Thibault: "I asked them at halftime, 'Who kidnapped my team?'... I didn't recognize the team that was out their in the second quarter. We didn't play anywhere like we did in the first."

DeLisha Milton-Jones started for the first time since her injury: she looked good early but seemed to run out of gas-- almost all the Mystics did. Are the Sun just better conditioned?
According to MSG commentators Bob Wischusen and Mary Murphy, Liberty head coach Pat Coyle thinks Sherill Baker has "hit the wall". The rookie does seem to have had trouble learning that charging with a full head of steam at a 3-woman blockade never ends well, but the operative word is rookie.

Among rookies, Baker is second in steals (13th league wide) and she's sixth in points per game. But she plays a full 14 minutes fewer per game than rookie scoring leaders Pondexter and Augustus, and 10 minutes fewer than All-Stars Dupree and Young, who average just five and three more points per game than Baker respectively. Per 40 minutes, Baker is number three in scoring among rookies.

Can Baker improve? Sure. Is she worn out from playing a full season of NCAA ball then heading straight to the W? Probably. But is telling the press that the 12th overall draft pick "hit the wall" because she's only averaging 8.4 points and 1.5 steals per game going to motivate anyone? (FWIW, Shameka Christon, the number five pick in 2004, averaged 5.8 points per game her rookie year.) We might just give Sherill a break and see what happens next season.
Julie Foudy says women's pro soccer will rise again. The soccer star tells the Guardian what went wrong with the WUSA. It sounds a lot like the ABL; she advises would-be startups, "Don't spend $50 million in your first year."

What could make a new league feasible? "Now you are seeing an environment where there is a potential for sharing infrastructure with a lot of teams"; since some MLS teams own their stadiums, "you're not paying out $50,000 a game [in rent].... You could see a combination with MLS guys, A-League [minor league] owners and independent owners. [But] I don't think it will be a WMLS."
The Comets let an important game slip away in the second half as they were swept by the Sparks in the regular season for the first time in a 56-52 loss.

Houston outplayed L.A. for most of the game until their cold shooting, lack of rebounding and inability to match the Sparks physical play took over in the final five minutes. "We did a really good job of hanging in and trying to win a game shooting 29 percent," Comets coach Van Chancellor said. "I thought we didn't rebound the ball, and when the game was on the line in the last five minutes, LA was a lot more physical than us. Until we get more physical, we aren't going to beat a team like that."

Despite the Sparks "strong-arm tactics," the Comets had chances to tie the game in the closing seconds but both Sheryl Swoopes and Dawn Staley put up airballs. The Sparks were led by Lisa Leslie and Chamique Holdsclaw while Swoopes and Michelle Snow paced the Comets. But neither team shot the ball well.
Both teams had starters out of the game and playing in pain with injuries. Both teams hit big shots and had four players in double figures. The score was tied 13 times during the game and the lead changed 13 times. But in the end, the Storm managed to outscore the Mercury down the stretch and won 91-85.

Sue Bird had her best offensive game of the season, scoring a season high 25 points including half of her team's 10 three pointers. "I remember the last time we played them, I didn't really shoot the ball well from the outside. I was thinking about that a lot, and I knew I was going to get the looks and I just wanted to knock down shots."

Perhaps most important for the Storm is the fact that they pulled ahead for good in the fourth when both Bird and Lauren Jackson were on the bench. Shots by Tanisha Wright and Barb Turner were part of a big 13-2 run for Seattle.

Besides losing a critical game as they fight for a playoff spot, the Mercury may have lost Penny Taylor too. Taylor had scored 22 points in the game before going down awkwardly in the 4th quarter and apparently sprained her shin. “What I am hearing is they are not sure of the results,” Mercury coach Paul Westhead said of Taylor’s X-rays. “The initial read was it’s not a fracture.”
Minnesota won Game 1 of the CJ Era.

"I don't know if it felt any different than it would have if I were still an assistant coach," the new coach said. "I'm just excited for the team. They bonded together, they wanted to get this win really badly and they just wanted to start anew."

Charlotte was typically terrible. Outrebounded by a mediocre rebounding team. Held to 27% shooting by a bad defensive team. Engulfed again by a Culture of Losing.

"That was a horrible effort," Muggsy said. "For us to be playing the way we have the past three weeks, and knowing the importance of this game, that type of performance is really frustrating."
The "lowly Liberty" last night snapped their 11-game losing streak on the road with a 79-72 win over the Sky, who extended their losing streak to seven. The Sky might have been the real winners last night, though, to the tune of 200 or so lottery balls.

Chicago initially seemed to have the upper hand, subduing New York in the first five minutes of the game with a 13-2 run largely thanks to All-Star rookie Candace Dupree, who finished the evening with 22 points. But by the end of the first quarter the Libs had pulled within two and managed to shadow the Sky for the rest of the game before breaking out midway through the fourth quarter and taking the lead for good.

The Liberty's win came courtesy of the three ball: New York sank 13 of 24 from behind the arc, compared to Chicago's 3 for 18. While Erin Thorn's shooting streak sputtered and died, Loree Moore and Cathrine Kraayeveld picked up the slack, shooting a combined 9 for 12 from three-point range. In light of this performance, New York fans can probably expect the "prayer offense" when the Liberty take on Charlotte Friday. New York has lived by the three and died by the three, but mostly the latter.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

On the internet.
From Napa Valley's local paper comes a nifty profile of Sacto's Erin Buescher, who leads lots of lists of candidates for Most Improved.

Buescher first played in Arco Arena in high school, when her Rincon Valley Christian team won their division. Now her Monarchs have won their last nine of ten.

Buescher: "Our system and our defense [are] starting to click in at the right time." ('Narchs fans should beware overconfidence-- those last ten games include Charlotte, New York and Minnesota twice each: the upcoming ten include L.A., Detroit, Indy and Connecticut, all on the road.)
It's a double header tonight on ESPN 2 as two important games with playoff implications are featured. In the first game, the Sun host the Mystics. In the second game, the Storm travel to Phoenix for their last regular season match-up with the Mercury and the Merc will likely be without Kamila Vodichkova.

But the Storm have injuries to key players too. In fact, they did not even have enough players healthy enough to practice yesterday so they brought Cisti Greenwalt back to the team. As for Phoenix, both Lieberman and Hays recently took a look at the highest scoring team in the league.
The departure of SMS from the Lynx is analyzed by Clay at Full Court Press.
In today's Indy Star, Kelly Krauskopf discusses all things Fever including attendance and the influence of Tamika Catchings.
You know things have gotten bad when losing by 18 points is a cause for celebration. But fans at Madison Square Garden last night seemed pretty content with the Liberty's 89-71 loss to the visiting Sun. Perhaps it's because the team's effort seemed a quantum better than at Saturday night's debacle. Perhaps it's because Erin Thorn delighted the crowd with two spectacular buzzer beaters. Or perhaps it's just because when Spoon's in the building, things don't seem quite so bad.

New York managed to narrow the gap to three points early in the third quarter, but fierce shooting by Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Lindsay Whalen and Erin Phillips vaulted Connecticut well into the lead. Poor Margo Dydek went 0-6 from the field, in part thanks to an improbable block by Shameka Christon, who had three in the game.

With last night's win, the Sun have secured a playoff birth. The Liberty, meanwhile, are closing in on the league record for most consecutive losses -- at 11, they only have two more to go -- and most losses in a season. When asked about her team's dismal record, coach Patty Coyle responded, "To me, this is happening for a reason. Do I know the reason right now? No, I really don’t.” Need I say more?
The Carolyn Jenkins era begins today for the Lynx as they play the Sting twice this week, starting tonight in Charlotte. One player for the Sting many Minnesota fans are interested in is last year's number one pick, Janel McCarville.

The former Gopher has not made the same impact that most other players that entered the league last season and fans continue to debate her potential and ability. But McCarville has learned not to pay much attention to the criticism. "I really don't worry about it," she said. "A lot of things limited me last year with injuries and not being in the swing of things. People can talk all they want. Everybody's a coach, everybody's a critic."

Monday, July 24, 2006

Print out and wave your own keep -the-Storm signs.
The Lynx have added a new page to their Web site highlighting the impressive rookie season of Seimone.
More on the resignation of Suzie McConnell Serio from the Lynx:

"I've never quit anything in my life, so it's difficult to walk away," McConnell Serio said. "But the one thing when I was hired, the conversation I had was when it no longer was fun anymore, it would be time to walk away. It seemed to reach that point."

After the team was told by interim head coach Carolyn Jenkins and Roger Griffith, the players had their own meeting. Guard Amber Jacobs said the team is optimistic about the rest of the season. "We just want to come back and play with a love for the game, to have fun and smile, to show some energy and enthusiasm.''

As Mel Greenberg points out, SMS may have been doomed when the Lynx landed the #1 pick in the draft.
The Mystics started slow and ultimately did not have enough to overcome the Storm as Seattle hung on for a 73-71 win on the road. Washington scored a season low 22 points in the first half and initially looked out of it at the start of the second half. But led by Alana Beard, who hit 6 of 7 shots in the third, the Mystics fought back.

Beard, who can't practice because of a bad ankle, finished with a career high 30 points. LJ said that Beard could not be stopped. But A sixth foul on DeLisha Milton-Jones and Richie Adubato's second technical late in the game gave the Storm the opportunity to seal the game at the line.

Adubato said his technical that late in the game was unforgivable. "I tell my players not to get them, and I can't get them in those situations. It's an emotion I let get out of hand. I never have done that. Obviously, there's a frustration level here that reached a certain boiling point. It's the first time I ever did it and it's going to be the last."

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Lynx announced this afternoon that Susie McConnell Serio has stepped down as head coach. According to Lynx fans, it was just a matter of time.

McConnell Serio managed to steal coach of the year honors in 2004 but has since been critiqued by fans for her failure to develop the talents of Nicole Ohlde and Vanessa Hayden. Despite the addition of ROY candidate Seimone Augustus, Minnesota has languished in the Western Conference basement with an 8-15 record.

Assistant Carolyn Jenkins will take over for the remainder of the season.
Dave Cowens, head coach and general manager of the Chicago Sky, suddenly and mysteriously waived reserve point guard Elaine Powell last night just prior to taking the floor against Detroit. The game would have marked Powell's first trip back to Detroit since the Shock gave her up in this year's expansion draft.

Powell had been moderately productive for Chicago off the bench so far this year, and waiving her this late into the season burdens the Sky with her full salary. In light of Powell's previous difficulties with conduct -- to put it mildly -- fans are speculating whether similar problems might have motivated her waiver.

Both the Chicago and Detroit press are suggesting that the Shock may be interested in picking up Powell again, though head coach Bill Laimbeer would not comment.
The league had to go and run six games at once while we (and Ted and Sara) are on vacation. Four were blowouts.

In one of the other two, Phoenix climbed way ahead of Charlotte, then experienced yet another late meltdown. Charlotte nearly won its fifth in a row.

Diana, however, wouldn't let her team lose. DT scored 12 in the quarter, 5 in the final minute, and the Merc escaped.

Coach Westhead: "Thank goodness we have Diana Taurasi on our team. We were down three with a minute and change and she makes a three. We get a stop and she makes a big drive."

In the only other game with any drama, the Sparks rallied against the Fever in Indy. Catch scored 27, Leslie scored 23, and the Indy frontcourt combined to shoot 4-18.

Coach Jellybean showed respect for the team he beat: "This would be a helluva final. Indiana with anyone because Indiana plays so hard... They make you throw the ball all over the damn place."

Leslie showed respect for Catchings. "I was telling my teammates, 'Don't let one player beat us.'"
The Liberty collapsed last night -- yet again -- in spectacular fashion, falling to the visiting Storm 91-54. Yes, that's a franchise-record thirty-seven point deficit.

The Storm's starters pounded the Liberty's "starters", and then the Storm's bench pounded the Liberty's "starters". In fact, two of the Liberty's starters were in street clothes last night -- Becky Hammon is still sidelined by a sprained ankle, and Kelly Schumacher is done for the season with a sprained knee. A third Liberty starter had a rough game against the Connecticut Sun last night, and a fourth had the night off after a bad shooting spell against San Antonio. Oh, wait. Scratch those last two. They made it out of New York with their pride intact.

Can you really call this team -- which has lost ten in a row and hasn't won since June 24 -- the New York Liberty? They're playing more like a team you would expect to muster in Elmsford, the armpit of a town in Westchester County, NY, that is home to the MSG teams' practice facility. New York fans can henceforth comfort themselves with the knowledge that they're not seeing their beloved NY Liberty become roadkill on a regular basis, but rather some scary, alternate-universe version of a WNBA franchise, the Elmsford Liberty.

In happier news, the injury-plagued Storm won back fourth place in the West with last night's victory, keeping the team in playoff position.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Chantelle Anderson broke her kneecap last night; she's out for the year. Bummer for the finally-promising Stars.
Detroit hosed L.A. in Grand Rapids. Leslie had a bad day, with ten points; Swin Cash had a good one, with eighteen.

The Shock controlled the paint, the sets and the tempo. Katie Smith says her team played, well, like a team: "If you're patient and let things develop, let someone set a pick for you, your team is harder to guard. They're chasing, they gotta help and something is gonna be open."
San Antonio managed another late comeback, but a Beard steal and a Teasley drive broke a tie to give the Mystics the win. Beard also blocked an attempted trey at the buzzer.

Biba led the comeback, and led the scoring with 19. SASS fans can delight in their team's resilience-- or worry about a potentially scary injury: Chantelle Anderson left with a hurt knee. Most of the comeback came with the SASS's small lineup: Young at center, neither Feenstra nor Anderson on the floor.

Sophia Young: "We're used to being injured, so you just have to pick it up for everybody." (How good will the Stars be next year, when their injuries heal?)
Newsday profiles Shameka Christon; the Houston Chronicle takes a look at Mistie Williams, the post player formerly known as Mistie Bass.

Williams: "I knew that if I was going to play for the WNBA I was going to play for Houston." (No you didn't: you got traded from Phoenix.)
From SI, a neat WNBA roundup. Dan Hughes describes how to win when your team isn't scoring; the Shock chat about last night's Grand Rapids game.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Are you worried that the Sky's lousy record reflects badly on the fans, or on the league? Cheer up: Sky supporters are sticking around, as is owner Michael Alter, who wishes his team were more like the Sun. (Thanks, OrangeKrush.)
Fan blogger Lisa works through grief and anger as Storm fans organize to keep their team.

Lisa gets it right: "The Storm are a strong franchise but the Sonics aren't. And, unfortunately in this case, the Storm is going to pay for the sins of their big brother. The only way these teams can stay in Seattle is with a new arena or a redesigned Key. And I am not sure [Seattle-area] taxpayers"-- stung as they have been by baseball and football deals-- "are willing to foot that bill."

Could a non-NBA owner buy the Storm alone? New owner Clayton Bennett claims that he wants both the Storm and the Sonics; his group seems to like the women's game. (Maybe Oklahoma could get an expansion team.)

The Storm on their own would command maybe $10-20 mil, far below the nine-figure asking price for the men's team. Without a replacement, Key Arena won't soon be demolished (neither will the University of Washington), so the women would have places to play.

Rallies and letter-writing campaigns and suchlike won't keep the Storm in Seattle without the Sonics unless a very rich purchaser shows up. But rallies and such might help convince some wealthy fan to do just that. Fan activism might also turn taxpayers, or elected officials, into supporters of the arena deal which the new owners claim-- with aggrieved fervor-- really would keep the Sonics in town.

Fans might also look into public, quasi-public, or collective ownership, on the Green Bay Packers model. More on how fans and cities can own teams, and on the Packers model in particular, here, and here, and here, and here.
Charley Walters picks up rumors that Suzie McConnell-Serio is on her way out, and soon.

I think it's safe to predict with a very high degree of confidence that SMS will not be back next year. The questions are: (1) can the Lynx find their desired replacement mid-season?, and (2) if not, should they let Suzie finish the year, or install an interim?
Agnieszka Bibryzka Bibryzcka is one of the league's best shooters. On a good night, when her teammates get her open looks, she's even harder to stop than to spell; she's been a key component of the Silver Stars' somewhat unexpected success.

Bummed out by coaching incompetence in '04, she skipped the '05 season entirely; coach Hughes spent the offseason wooing her back to San Antonio.

Now she's glad she returned. Biba: "Dan believes in you, and if you prove it to him on the court, you're going to play. I'm not scared in games (that) if I miss a shot, I'm going to sit on the bench. He just wants you to execute well and play smart."
Not much drama Thursday evening:

1. The Sun crushed the Sky in Connecticut. Jia Perkins, however, scored 21 and hit five of six attempted three-pointers, and the Sky made a decent run against Connecticut's bench. Coach Cowens: "They're a better team... It's like an A team against a B team." (Or: like an expansion team against some All-Stars.)

The home team had fun. Phillips started alongside Whalen, who had a weird flight back from Seattle.

2. The Comets slaughtered the Lynx in Houston. Swoopes put the cuffs on Augustus; Her Majesty also led all scorers with 24. Van: "That looked like the Sheryl Swoopes defense that she played in 2000 [when] she was Defensive Player of the Year."

Mistie Williams got her first start; Ohlde continued her slump, with five points and three boards in 21 minutes. The young Lynx have just one win on the road this year.

Props to the Houston Chronicle, whose reporter liveblogged the game.
More Camp Days:

1. Sheri Sam went off on her former team, and Charlotte won their fourth in a row. Muggy's finally happy: "Everybody is contributing, and it's a beautiful thing."

Sam's 23 points make a new career high. McCarville scored-- twice!-- on a less-than-full-strength LJ; she also got a standing O from the Sting crowd.

Jayda Evans has more reaction to the Seattle teams' sale. One of the new OK owners, G. E. Evans, remembers--- and admires-- Sue Bird from the NCAA championship game where her UConn beat his OU.

In yet more bad news for the Storm, Janell Burse banged up her shoulder; she'll be examined today.

2. Sacramento went up on the Lib 38 to 19, then had trouble scoring the rest of the way. New York cut the deficit to three in the closing minutes, but the defending champs came away with the win.

Outside shooter Erin Thorn had a great day: 20 points, 4-6 from long range, and another career high. Kelly Schumacher left with a bruised knee after colliding with Ticha early on. Coach Coyle: "We may not play the prettiest basketball, but we will never quit." (Though you might get fired.)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Great new additions to the fan blogs on .com:

Rebecca and Lisa cover the sale and possible departure of the Storm from Seattle in two separate but compelling pieces. The twins urge the league to bring back the Player's Journals to TV. Melissa provides some interesting and unique commentary on officiating and Kevin reviews mid season trades.
The Lib just lost again. The Lynx have a tough road game at Houston tonight. Both teams are in cellar territory, playoff hopes fading.

Will either Patty Coyle or Suzie McConnell-Serio survive the season? I'm beginning to doubt it. At this point, it might be a matter of days for either of them.

And we'll once again have to face issues of gender and coaching. But the end of this season, there's a decent chance that there will be only one female head coach in the WNBA.
Via Paul, a plausible argument for why the Storm, and the Sonics, might actually stay in the Evergreen State.
Fun pop culture flotsam of the day: watch this, then this.
The Guru and Philly.com have their special package page up dedicated to Dawn Staley as her playing career comes to a close. It includes links to stories on her high school, college, Olympic, professional, and coaching career.
Three Camp Day games; three crowds over 10K, each packed with shrill, enthused, color-coordinated preteens. Here we go:

1.Amber Jacobs had a perfect day: perfect from the floor, perfect from the line, for a career high of 24. Her final layup stopped a late comeback from the well-coached, but individually overmatched, Sky.

Jacobs: "I've kind of been the underdog player since I've been in the league. [I'm] someone who's not the most athletic, not the most quick, but to be able to have the confidence from Suzie that I can lead this team -- I take that with pride."

Both teams left outside shooters open-- thus the high scores; the Sky picked off the home team's soft (or dumb) passes, but the Lynx controlled the glass.

2. Phoenix took out the Mystics by taking advantage of Washington's late turnovers. Kelly Miller and Penny Taylor scored 22 apiece.

Cappie played 32 minutes, but still isn't healthy; Diana played through five personal fouls.

3. Charlotte won again! Get used to it: Tan Smith's shots fell, Swin Cash's didn't, and the Sting upset Detroit. Sheri Sam: "We're just playing basketball. I think we're finally just playing."

The Shock were, well, shocked. Coach Laimbeer: "We didn't move the ball."

The same thing happened last year, more than once.
The Grand Rapids Press gets Bill Laimbeer to talk about his love for the women's game. Nothing new, but a fun read: the W, he says, "is more stable than it's ever been. We've got the business end figured out pretty well. It doesn't take that much money, compared to the men, to keep a team going. You wouldn't believe the difference in zeros."

The Shock meet the Sparks Friday in Grand Rapids, in a "home" game more than two hours west of Detroit.
SI's Richard Deitsch chats with Seimone.

On her post-hoops career: "I'd sell business casual clothes and branch into the diva style. My teammates complain that they can't find shoes or clothes big enough for them. I'd like to help them out." She designed her own prom dress.

On living in Minnesota (she likes it): "I had a few people come up and say, 'You're Augustus,' but it's not a lot, which is good because I can walk through a mall and shop. I haven't been able to walk through a mall in Baton Rouge since I was 11." (Via Paul.)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

As expected, the Sparks crushed the Liberty in L.A. A late run by New York's starters against the Los Angeles bench made the final score look respectable. Official attendance-- on a Tuesday night-- topped 10K.

The Sparks now depart for a 21-day road trip while their Staples Center hosts a circus. Sparks-haters should remember that it's good for the league when L.A. and/or New York do well, and New York, this year... not so much.
The Silver Stars played three quarters of pretty bad basketball, then turned it on late to beat Houston. Chantelle Anderson kept up her startling season. "I feel a lot better now," she said; "I'm more aggressive."

SASS shot poorly but ruled the free-throw line. Houston, for its part, couldn't hold on to the ball. Van Chancellor: "We had about five chances to win the game tonight, but we just couldn't... I'm at a loss."

Dan Hughes has kept around or above .500 a team missing both its expected leading scorer and its best experienced post. Hughes apparently gets some help from Styx.
Charles Hallman of the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder recently took a look at women's professional basketball leagues and the emergence of the WNBA. He talked to Dawn Staley, Tina Thompson, Teresa Edwards, and former Gopher Crystal Flint-Holloman, who played for the Minnesota Stars in the Women's Basketball League.
The Storm had a lot to worry about, and the defending champions took advantage: the Monarchs knocked down the home team in Seattle. Sue Bird, her left foot hurting, shot 1-8; LJ, with foot and shin pain, didn't play.

The Storm will supposedly stay for the '07 season, but after that, who knows? The Sonics-Storm buyers are Oklahoma City boosters, and most fans seem to believe the teams will go.

Anne Donovan faced a similar situation in Charlotte. "It's a little bit distracting, I'll be honest," she said. "The team did not know" until after the end of the match, though Donovan did.

In very good news for the league, if not for Seattleites, new owner Clayton Bennett all but promised that if the Sonics moved, the Storm wouldn't fold: "We are really having a time with [the University of] Oklahoma and the great player Courtney Paris ... with head coach Sherri Coale. We're proud. We'd be thrilled with a WNBA team."

Betty Lennox says she'd be fine with an OKC Storm: "It's a state that I'm proudly from and we need a professional team and other things to do to keep gang-bangers and the drug dealers off the street. It would be exciting for the whole state of Oklahoma. It would be like having the Mall of America."

Paul Allen probably won't move the Blazers from Portland. (Storm fans shouldn't want him anyway: he's the guy who refused to keep the Fire.)
Lib castoff Linda Frohlich more than justified the Fever's decision to sign her, scoring more than one point per minute against the Mercury, for a a career-high fifteen.

Diana, on the other hand, had a lousy afternoon. Kamila and Penny couldn't quite compensate, and the Fever picked up another home win. Catchings on how to guard Diana: "She's a great player, and the thing I have to focus on is getting to her fast.She has a really quick release."

Frohlich has her own website now-- hey, who doesn't?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Storm and the Sonics have new ownership, led by Oklahoma City business guy Clayton Bennett. Storm fans feel understandably upset.

Will the Sonics end up in OKC? The folks there certainly love their NBA Hornets, who are supposed to move back to New Orleans after next year. But Howard Schultz, whose group sold the team, says he turned down higher offers in order to get a buyer who wanted to stay.

Bennett promises to spend a year trying to keep the teams local: "Ultimately we hope for basketball in Oklahoma City, but it's unrelated to this transaction." The Sonics-Storm organization says it's staying till 2010, when the KeyArena lease runs out.

Any new deal would involve a new arena, either in Seattle itself or elsewhere in the metro area, such as Bellevue. Mayor Greg Nickels: "I'm going to take them at their word that they want to stay and we'll work with them. We think they will play in the Seattle Center until 2010."

Seattle Weekly disagrees: "Anyone who thinks a group of Sooner investors is going to entertain keeping the team in Seattle is delusional."

If the Sonics move, would the Storm follow, or go elsewhere, or stay in Seattle, or disappear? Sherri Coale's Sooners draw well, and Norman is just half an hour from OKC, where there's also no major-league baseball.

But the Storm are a proven fan-attractor, as WNBA teams go, and there's no word on whether Bennett likes the W. If there's a potential Pacific Northwest buyer for the Storm alone, Orender and Stern would probably go for it, as long as they could find a place to play. We've said it before: expansion plans are insurance against contraction...

In a weird tangent, the Portland Trail Blazers and their arena apparently remain up for sale. The seller, Microsoft gazillionaire Paul Allen, is the guy who folded the Portland Fire. Maybe whoever buys the Blazers wants to take the Storm if the Sonics don't... nah, too complicated: my head hurts. Oh, and LJ says she won't play anywhere but Seattle, or maybe New York.

The Weekly's Mike Henderson advises Storm fans: "Enjoy it while it lasts."
Tricia Cornell at the City Pages, our local alter-weekly, writes up Steve, the Lynx, the W, and poetry.

So how is a WNBA player like a poet? Read and find out...
From the Sports Guy's mailbag:
I was flipping channels the other night when I stumbled upon the WNBA All-Star Game. As soon as my brain processed what it was, I desperately went to change the channel. But right before I hit Channel Up, I saw some short chick drive the lane and attempt to dunk, only to come up about two feet short and ricochet the ball off the BOTTOM of the rim.
Another idiot misinterprets Taurasi. Wilbon and Kornheiser made the same mistake on PTI the day after the ASG.

Memo to the Sports Guy wannabe nation : Taurasi knows she can't dunk. She knows she can't even come close to dunking. The bottom of the rim was probably the closest she's ever been.

Her "dunk attempt" was a joke — a complicated, multilayered, subversive joke — making fun of herself (for being a slow unjumpy white girl), making fun of women dunking, making fun of the desperate hype about women dunking, making fun of the too-earnest and too-serious WNBA, making fun of the silliness of All-Star Games.

You just didn't get the joke, so now it's making fun of you too.

(P.S.: fuck off.)
The Sun's Paul Munick has three rules for running a successful W franchise: collect local players (it helps if UConn is local); employ year-round staff; and don't blanket your state with free tickets.

Munick: "We distribute the fewest comps in the league. It just cheapens the product. The more you comp, the more they end up on the street."
USA Basketball officials wanted to have the final four spots for the World Championship team named last week for promotional and scheduling purposes.

But according to Jayda Evans' blog, Seimone and Cappie's superb play as rookies has the selection team taking longer with the naming of the final players.
The Courant's Matt Eagan considers Title IX, its benefits, and the supposed threat it poses to men's nonrevenue sports, five of which Rutgers now plans to eliminate. The Scarlet Knights will also cut women's tennis.

Though he doesn't say so, Eagan may be responding to conservative columnist John Tierney, who thinks Title IX is bad because girls already outperform boys on non-sports measures, so boys should be able to outperform girls in sports. (I'm simplifying his argument, but not by much.)

Most big schools want, or think they want, big revenue from football, even though many football teams lose money. And football teams are enormously expensive, compared to anything else most college athletic departments do: they also have a zillion players.

Eagan: "Football requires an enormous economic commitment and makes it all but impossible to comply with Title IX without cutting a school's non-revenue men's sports budget."

What if all the wrestling coaches now arrayed against women's teams instead pushed their conferences to accept a 70 (or 65, or 75) scholarship per school limit for football? CBS' Dennis Dodd suggested as much four years back; Eagan agrees.

Are women's-sports coaches, boosters and grateful players simply easier targets for aggrieved Olympic-sports fans than are the lords of the gridiron?
Muggsy Bogues isn't giving up on his troubled team. Will he be back next year? Muggsy: "That's not up to me. If the team is going to be here, I'd love to be here, because I'm starting something that I would love to finish."
Nathan gets very friendly with the Lynx.
Glenn Nelson at HoopGurlz and Full Court has been watching elite prep tournaments. He says young elite players are way better than even a few years ago:

"For years, boys clearly have played, any time, anywhere, while girls have played games, in structured environments with pretty uniforms." Now, though, the girls "are starting to roam the streets and gyms in search of an unstructured run, where they can experiment and register cause and effect...

"As the boys' and men's game has suffered from slippage in advanced skills, we see the opposite start to emerge on the girls' and women's side - for example, better perimeter footwork, or defenders knowing how to show and recover on pick-and-roll plays."
Is Margo better than ever? Could be; Sun fans have learned to like her.

Coach Thibault: "Everyone keeps saying, 'She is 7-2 put her on the block every time.' [But] she is one of the best outside shooters in the league. So when Taj is getting double-teamed down low, that is a nice out to have."
Jayda Evans covers the Reign reunion; Seattle fans worry they may lose another team.
Both the Sac Bee's Ailene Voisin and USA Today's Dick Patrick write about MIP candidate Erin Buescher. Monarchs assistant coach Monique Ambers is credited with helping Buescher develop the step through and other post moves.
What's the best thing about this year's .500-ish Mystics: committed owner Sheila Johnson? Improved numbers for Alana Beard? The unlikely resurgence of Nakia Sanford? Lofty Latvian project Zane Teilane? Coach Adubato's somewhat disturbing attempt to re-create the 2001-02 L.A. Sparks?

No, the best thing is the DCBasketCases blog. Last weekend, the BasketCases saw Chicago: they came away with kind words for the UIC Pavilion, DeLisha Milton-Jones ("warming up with the team and moving well"!), and, of course, Zane Teilane. (If you think she's hard to pronounce, you must not follow the Silver Stars.)

The BasketCases also noticed what we've known for a while: the Chicago Sun-Times does a pretty good job with the Sky, while its rival the Chicago Tribune blows.

Monday, July 17, 2006

New today, from Clay, at Full Court, for free: praise for Saturday's scrappy Sun-Monarchs game; brickbats for New York's and Charlotte's (and praise for San Antonio's) owners; and a valiant attempt to explain this season's new timeout rules.
Not to be outdone, the Courant supports Connecticut with an editorial. Represent!
Jessie grew up in Norwich, Connecticut. When we're home, one of the papers we look at is the Norwich Bulletin. For hard news reporting, it doesn't even come close to the Hartford Courant, nor to the New London Day.

For Connecticut Sun reporting, though, the Bulletin can dig up gems. Today, Arthur Sherman has two separate pieces about how the team came to the casino, starting with the league's decision to permit non-NBA ownership.

The Mohegans tested the waters by hosting several games for the NWBL's now-defunct Springfield Spirit.
New law blog called Jurisdynamics from a friend of mine.
Loads of new stuff at the official fan blog.
Three more from last night's sextuplet of reg-season action...

1. Indy took over late to beat the Comets in a low-scoring mess. Ex-Indy forward Ndiaye-Diatta started for Houston in place of the injured Thompson, even though the Comets signed her just two days ago.

Both Ndiaye-Diatta and Staley scored nothin'. The Comets shot 36%. The Fever shot almost as badly, scored no treys, and had two starters combine for three points... but Whitmore burned the visitors for 22.

2. Detroit, at home, controlled both the glass and the game, defeating the Silver Stars behind Cheryl Ford's 20 boards and 17 points. If the MVP race has more than one contestant, Ford should be in it.

3. Washington handled Chicago, again taking advantage-- just as everyone else does-- of the new team's weakness in the paint.

Coach Cowens used his bench a lot. It didn't help. Normally the Sky's leading scorer, Dupree played badly; coach Cowens says she's hit the proverbial rookie wall.

Sanford tallied 20; Melvin had 14 and 14. Hold the phone: is Sanford a candidate for most improved? Not until the 'Stics look better against good teams.
Six games last night. We'll take them three at a time:

1. Without Sales, down 15, on the second game of a back-to-back after transcontinental travel, the Sun came back to throttle the Storm behind Katie Douglas' 26 points.

It was Connecticut's first West Coast win this year, and their first win ever in Seattle. Much of the comeback came at the line: the Sun sank ten more freebies than the home team.

2. Phoenix had another late game fade, but it was only New York they were facing: a big lead shrank, then grew to a comfy margin of victory.

Diana scored 29; Cynthia Cooper, in '97, remains the only WNBA player to score 30 three games in a row. D passed up an open look in the closing seconds, even though Westhead wanted to get her the record: "I was tired," she explained. (Or classy.)

Cappie, her knee achy, sat out, a mild surprise. Westhead says she'll be out "a few days and therefore a few games."

3. The Lynx couldn't hang with L.A. Seimone put in her customary stellar performance, and Hayden gave good minutes despite bad shooting-- she was the only one who bothered Leslie-- but no one could stop Holdsclaw; L.A.'s ball movement put the home team to shame.

Last time the Sparks came to town, the Lynx hammered them for a record-setting victory-- but those Sparks didn't have the Claw. This time, Chamique tallied 20, LLL 29.

Hayden says she's tired of excuses. The loss felt "like getting kicked in the stomach... [The season] is slipping away from us, and we have to do something quick."