Women's Hoops Blog: October 2006

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

From our nation's foremost Dem political blog, a firsthand report on ex-WBA and Stanford player, and current Colorado Congressional candidate, Angie Paccione. Blogger mcjoan even leads with a hoops analogy: watching Paccione campaign feels "like watching a preacher coach a basketball team."
Becky Hammon, NBA analyst. First appearance: Friday night.
A new UConn blog is up and running. Looks good!
Lya Wodraska and Phil Miller of the Salt Lake Tribune have a powerful 3-part series on Whitehorse High School's basketball team and their star player, Derica Dickson. The reporters spent more than three months with the Whitehorse High Raiders, and found "a tale of hope and longing playing out in an unlikely place, the basketball court, on an isolated sweep of Utah's Navajo Nation."
Open the door, and the buzz surrounds you - the sound of industry. More than two dozen women hunker over sewing machines in a small room, amid piles of camouflage cloth, wordlessly stitching together military uniforms. The tiny "factory" would be unremarkable in most communities, but here in the all-but-uninhabited Utah corner of the vast Navajo reservation, where more than half of the roughly 6,000 residents live in poverty, the machines offer something far too special to take for granted: a paycheck.

As Derica Dickson passes by the factory on her way to school this February morning, the symbolism is appropriate because Dickson intends never to stop there. To her fellow Navajos, the modest business may represent opportunity, but for Dickson, a Whitehorse High student and the undisputed star of the girls' basketball team, the factory is a reminder of the limitations placed on her by her isolated homeland - limitations she desperately wants to escape.
Part I: Whitehorse: The Burden of Dreams
Part II: Whitehorse: A Game, a Lifeline
Part II: Whitehorse: The Tournament and the Torment
Photo Gallery: Day One, Day Two, Day Three

The history of Native American populations and women's basketball is long (check out this photograph from the early 1900's showing the La Plata County (Ute) girls team in Colorado) and, at times, painful. Often the game was used as part of a process of "anglicizing" the young women.

Perhaps the most famous Native American team was from the Fort Shaw Indian Boarding School in Montana. The team was made up of players from local reservations and various tribes (Lemhi-Shoshone, Assiniboine, Gros Ventre, Piegan, Shoshone-Bannock, and Chippewa-Cree). In 1904, they travelled to play at Worlds Fair in St. Louis, and won the "all-Indian women's basketball team from the Fort Shaw Government Industrial Indian School won World Championship."

The Fort Shaw team is the subject of a book, Full Court Quest. FYI, Larry Colton's "Counting Coup" chronicled the tale of a more contemporary player and team from Montana: Sharon LaForge and Hardin High's Lady Bulldogs.

On edit: I meant to include a reference to Rocks With Wings, the documentary about New Mexico's Shiprock High School, but a head cold scrambled my thought process.

Another side note: Last summer, when I visited the fabulous Heard Museum in Phoenix, they had a heartbreaking exhibit Remembering Our Indian School Days: The Boarding School Experience. Oddly enough, while they had a strong exhibit of boys athletic equipment, the only girl's "athletic equipment" they displayed were cheerleading uniforms. And yes, I did submit a question asking why....

Also, if you're interested in more photos of early women's basketball teams, check out the Women's Basketball Timeline 1900-29.
Ah, the bubbles of anticipation as the NCAA season approaches. The WNIT pre-season teams have been announced. Stanford, NC State, Purdue and Baylor may be the most recognized particpants, but Hartford and St. John's are two up-and-coming programs making a lot of noise. The first game will be on November 9th.

Over at the WBCA, preseason coaches polls for Division 2 and Division 3 have been released. While the top Division I teams seem to get the lions' share of attention and glory, there is some really good, competitive basketball being played at the top levels in the other Divisions. Grand Valley State (Michigan), University of North Dakota and Emporia State University (Kansas) top the D-2 poll, while the University of Scranton, Hope College (Michigan) and the University of Southern Maine top out the D-3 poll.
Two weeks ago we noticed Angie Paccione, who is running for Congress in Colorado: if elected, she would be the first pro women's basketball player in the U.S. House. Paccione's opponent, Marilyn Musgrave, may be the most anti-gay member of Congress.

Musgrave's ads have made Paccione's financial troubles, related to the collapse of Bill Byrne's WBA, into a campaign issue.

Paccione began the campaign as a long shot; a new poll gives her a slight lead.
Are the Sparks for sale?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Big Ten preseason polls pick Ohio State to win, Purdue in second, Spartans in third. Weirdly, Penn State then gets the nod over Iowa.

Hawkeye media show more love for stellar soph center Megan Skouby. What will it take for Skouby to best the top posts top post in the Big Ten? "I've always had trouble with the so-called killer instinct... But I've been working on it. Sometimes it takes something to tick me off."
Clay says (again): don't expand the WNBA until the talent pool expands too.
A non-basketball story from over the weekend on an incredible prep tennis career. Whitney Taney of Edina High School won her third straight singles state championship.

Most remarkable is the fact that Taney never lost a match in a career that began at number four singles as a seventh grader. She finished with two state doubles titles, three state singles titles and a 166-0 record. In her six year career, Taney only lost two sets.

MN Lynx beat writer Pam Schmid interviewed Taney and her dad last week before the state tournement started. Taney's dad, a former member of the U of MN tennis team, taught his daughter the game and served as a hitting partner. That will change next fall when Taney joins the team at the University of Michigan.

Taney's team won their tenth straight state title last week and their 25th overall. The Hornets have won 189 dual matches in a row.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Roundup from the Sunday NY Times: Gretchen Reynolds files an in-depth story on ACL tears and other knee injuries, with exercises that may lessen risk.

Big East coaches pick UConn to win the conference: the bigger news may be that the Times ran a long story. Geno: "We’re better than people think. If we don’t get hurt, we’ll be good.”

Also at the Times: women and girls have played American football, on boys' and men's teams, before, but how many succeed as offensive linemen?
Jackie Stiles says what you'd expect her to say:

"I would trade a professional contract for another four years at Missouri State. It was the best experience of my life. Looking back, I wish I would have listened to people when they said I needed to rest."

Stiles' next attempt at a comeback begins in Australia soon. How has she prepared? "I've hardly touched a basketball the last four years. I haven't been able to run and jump. I bike two or three hours for conditioning."

For last year's update on Stiles' story, look here.
As parents wonder whether scholarships are worth the investment, last week six members of the (pre-scholarships) Atlanta Sports Arena Blues, which won the 1947 National AAU Women's Championship, gathered for a reunion.

Unlike today's AAU teams which focus on players 18-and-under, the Blues, sponsored by the Warren Refrigeration Company, were made up of players from all over the southeast who came to Atlanta to play for the team while working regular jobs during the day.

FYI, the first AAU National Championship was in 1926 and held in Los Angeles. 5,000 people watch the Pasadena Atheltic and Country Club team win. The final Senior Women's Championship was held in 1979 in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Anna's Bananas, coached by Patty Meyers and featuring her sister Ann Meyers and the great Monica Havelka, won their third consecutive championship.
Thanks to OK for the heads up about the work CSTV is doing on women's college ball: A preseason poll and preview, a media day blog, and "64 Things You Need to Know About the Upcoming Season:" Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

They've also made a list of "don't miss" games. Now, if only my cable provider offered CSTV....
Vanessa Hayden is reportedly leaving her European team.

Will she play for the Lynx in 2007? I sorta doubt it. Will the Lynx therefore be forced to use the #4 pick on a post? Possibly.
Now here's a preseason game I want to see.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Voepel previews the Big Twelve, led by the (cough) Paris Symphony Orchestra.
Don't forget to check in with Josh Centor's official NCAA's blog, the Double-A Zone, to get insight into various student-athletes and NCAA policies.

Today's visit finds that, after serving breakfast at the annual Mayor’s Campaign Against Breast Cancer event, South Carolina's team can play One Degree of Kevin Bacon. Duke's Abby Waner blogs about early practices, as does Sun Belt Preseason Player of the Year, Middle Tennessee's Chrissy Givens.

Josh has an interesting take on the Anti-Gambling Legislation recently signed into law, especially considering the NCAA's policy on gambling (who can forget Shea Ralph calling you "Fool" for betting on games?) and their close relationship to ESPN.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Over at her blog, Penn State's Marie Hardin, assistant professor of journalism and associate director of the Center for Sports Journalism, has started a project to compare how men and women read newspaper sports sections.

Though she's being a bit cagey about the results ("The way women and men see simple features, such as box scores and game stories, is a study in contrasts.") she promises they're very interesting.
File under "well it's about friggin' time!" From Outsports:
"Negative recruiting," an insidious tactic where a coach uses homophobia to deter recruits from going to a rival school, is a bane in women's sports. For the first time, the NCAA is addressing the issue institutionally.

On Monday, the NCAA and the National Center for Lesbian Rights will co-host a think tank on negative recruiting at NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis, bringing together 32 leaders in women's sports, including NCAA staff, athletic directors, conference commissioners, researchers, and coaching organization representatives. For example, representatives from the national coaching organizations of women's basketball, volleyball and softball will be present

Thursday, October 26, 2006

At Full Court, Clay thinks coach Whiz perhaps stepped down in Sacto for the sake of a future Albuquerque team.

Clay also notes Golden State Warriors owner Chris Cohan's tax troubles, which may lead him to sell the team: would a new owner want to join the W?
The mysterious and mysteriously prescient ode88 returns to the message boards, predicts that Detroit will trade Ruth Riley to San Antonio for the #2 pick.

That would be a good move for Detroit in several ways.
Probability 101: a small chance is always better than no chance at all. Phoenix, the team that came closest to last year's playoffs without actually getting in, the team that ended the year on a seven-game win streak, just landed the number one pick in next year's draft.

The rest of the order: 2. San Antonio. 3. Chicago. 4. Minnesota. 5. Charlotte. 6. New York.

Fans tried to predict the coming draft order, as if skill (or secretly rigged ping-pong balls) were involved.

What, or who, do Phoenix fans expect?
Today is lottery day in New York.

Is the press paying attention? Um... not so much.
Why is Whisenant leaving the bench? Personal considerations combined with with failed negotiations. "I specifically wanted to have separate contracts," he said. "I wanted it separate in case I found the ideal coaching candidate. As it came down, it became apparent I need to look now."

Lieberman focuses on the stress and family issues, says Whiz "coached with class and always handled himself well."

Voison is more critical, if more oblique: she says this is about money and male ego.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Via pilight, some surprising news out of Sacto: Coach Whiz is resigning as Monarchs coach.
It's a boy.
From the mailbag:
I take exception with your characterization of what happened last April in the MN women's basketball program as a "scandal". That is simply not an accurate term. The defection of five players and the ensuing fallout was painful to watch but there was absolutely no evidence of impropriety or immorality on the part of anyone associated with the program. No one, neither players nor coaches, were ever accused or even suspected of acting in a scandalous manner. It is a disservice to the program to characterize it as such.
It's not so clear to me that there weren't such allegations, public or otherwise, but fair enough. Each person can decide for herself what label fits.

(Trainwreck? Disaster? Implosion? Shitbox? Craptastic bonanza? An unfortunate confluence of several isolated and minor conflicts caused by nothing more than poor communication?)

It also perhaps should be noted again that I'm not interested in serving the program. I'm a Minnesota sports fan, but that doesn't mean that the Gophs get treated differently here from any other team.

Anyway, for some follow-up discussion of Voepel's article, see here and here.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Sorry, boys, this is not a democracy: David Stern says he is sticking (no pun) with the new ball (the WNBA knock-off), complaints notwithstanding.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Voepel has a season preview article, and wow... it hits a bunch of topics: Penn State scandal, Purdue scandal, K-State scandal, Minnesota scandal, Maryland recruiting... wow.

What does it all mean?

I mean seriously: What does it all mean?
Last Monday, the Women's Sports Foundation held the 27th annual Salute to Women in Sports at New York's Waldorf Astoria. Amongst other honorees, Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer was inducted into the International Women's Hall of Fame.

Check out the photos and the Hall of Fame Breakfast and Fashion Show. Before you get all het up, the Fashion Show chronicled the history of the sweatshirt, invented in 1926 by Benjamin Russell, founder of the Russell Manufacturing Company.

During the Salute, it was announced that the Hall of Fame will finally get a home. The WSF will partner with the National Sports Museum to create the Billie Jean King International Women's Sports Center located within the planned National Sports Museum in Lower Manhattan.

September it's the USTA. October it's the Hall of Fame. What does November hold for Billie Jean, getting a state named after her?
Two weeks ago-- yes, we're a bit late on this one-- Sara Lipka at the Chronicle of Higher Ed filed a big story on recruiting and text messaging. Earlier claims that nonstop text-messages hadn't reached men's-side recruiting appear to be wrong: sought-after high schoolers who bought the wrong cell-phone plan now find themselves paying hundreds of dollars just to get the messages that coaches wish they didn't have to send.

It's a classic Red Queen's Race, you might say, or a classic market failure, crying out for a regulatory body to save the competitors from themselves. But a total ban appears unlikely, and Andrew Galbraith, compliance director at Dartmouth, warns Lipka that any new "middle ground" rules will prove "murky": "more people [will] innocently break the rules."

Why shouldn't the NCAA start treating text messages (which require a phone, after all) exactly as if they were regular telephone calls?
Coming this Thursday: the WNBA's draft lottery. Though the Lynx had only one more loss than the Sting and the Lib, odds that the number one pick goes to (respectively) Chicago, Minnesota, Charlotte and New York come in at 8: 5: 3: 3.

The league gives early analysis here. (Why no byline?)
In the late 1980's, the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics (funded by the Knight Foundation) was formed in reaction to a number of scandals (recruiting violations, graduation rates under 30%, and severely under-educated athletes) that negatively impacted the public's perception of higher education and college athletics. Congress became concerned and there was a possibility they might get involved in some sort or regulation of college sports.

"It was an effort by University presidents," explained Executive Director Amy P. Perko, "to say, 'Let's clean up our act and let's show that college presidents can get this on the right path.' And the right path needs to be through presidential control with an emphasis on academic integrity, fiscal integrity and a certification process to verify that integrity." The work of the Commission culminated in the publication of a 1991 report that implored university presidents and chancellors to take control of college sports.

In an interesting (though somewhat meandering) article, the Kansas City Star's Blair Kerkhoff wonders whether or not presidents have gotten too involved. "In its update in 2001," writes Kerkhoff,
position papers portrayed an ideal college sports world, some might say mythical, but at least provided a moral compass for presidents, who, as [Kansas Chancellor]Hemenway said, “used to hide behind a firewall when something went wrong.”

Presidents no longer dive for cover. When it comes to major sports issues, they’re more often seen front and center, in some cases at their own peril.

Does that mean presidents have taken their eye off the ball when it comes to reform?

In Storrs, frosh TIna Charles promises the world; Renee Montgomery says she's a leader now; and Geno fumes after a lousy practice.
Sun Devils coach Turner Thorne sounds enthusiastic about Arizona State's four frosh.

Ex-Sun Devils star guard Kylan Loney has apparently been welcomed as the new coach at Gallaudet, though the nationally-known college for the deaf has yet to change its site: the school has been a bit distracted of late.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Helicopter parents go after a high school coach in northern California.

Castro Valley High AD Marie Gray: "If we don't stomp this out, whosever mommy or daddy has the most power is going to be the starter. And if you look around the country, you see we are losing that battle."
From Slate:
How about the WNBA team, the Shock? Shit, they win championships all the time.
Taj McWilliams-Franklin tells Full Court she certainly won't retire next year.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Since Clay Kallam apologized for his Maryland reporting, lots of people around D.C. have been beating him up. Some said that Maryland fans "should never forgive or forget" what Clay did. The Basketcases said that Clay had "not only accused" Brenda but also "convicted and sentenced" her, and they called his apology "overdue." One Maryland student sent Clay an email signed simply "fuck off, dick."

You can make your own judgment about what Clay should have done. But let's at least be clear about what he did.

In a March 24 column, he wrote this:
Despite the fact that the only two seniors for the Terrapins play hardly at all, there is still a definite sense of urgency in College Park -- and the reason is an ongoing NCAA investigation into recruiting violations that could be serious enough to bounce Maryland out of any postseason play next year.
He did not state or imply that Maryland was guilty. He simply said that there was an investigation that could result in sanctions. If there was any error in the column, it was probably the word "ongoing."

Three days later Clay wrote a clarification and partial retraction to calm the gossip mill.
Terrapins' representatives ... made it clear they are not being investigated by the NCAA for recruiting violations. There was a routine visit made by NCAA officials, but nothing more has transpired. There are still those who say something may happen, but those are nothing more than rumors at this point.
At the same time, Clay amended the original article to clear up any misunderstanding. Given that he had already issued a clarification, I'm not totally sure why Clay felt like he needed to apologize again now. But it's to his credit that he did.

Some have suggested that he apologized only because a threatened lawsuit forced him to do so. Legally, such a claim would be a non-starter. What Clay wrote does not count as actionable defamation, and no school in its right mind would threaten (much less pursue) such a suit.

In any event, as a factual matter, Maryland has not threatened Clay with any type of lawsuit.

Note the unintentional irony: You excoriate Clay for spreading rumors about Maryland, and then you respond by inventing and spreading rumors of a threatened lawsuit.

That's rich.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The BasketCases review Terps coach Brenda Frese's new book. Frese and coauthor Chris King describe the Terps' 2006 championship season.

Coming soon here: our review of Mad Seasons, Karra Porter's book on the WBL. Don't expect it till after Election Day, though.
The WNBA's official fan bloggers-- and no, that's not a contradiction in terms-- keep posting during the offseason; we're glad they do.

Melissa says 'don't ask, don't tell' is almost as silly for a professional sports league as it is for our nation's armed forces, in which she served.

Kevin says change in Houston will help the league, and reminds us that Gordon Gund is a bad man.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

So, with a team for sale in Houston, arena trauma in Sacto and Seattle, it's nice to come across an intriguing news item out of Arkansas: a press conference scheduled today to talk about team naming rights and season ticket purchases. "Northwest Arkansas Loves the WNBA."
Val Ackerman, "Founding President of the WNBA," was on Quite Frankly last night discussing Duke lacrosse, inappropriate on-air commentary, dangerous off-field behavior, and sundry other topics.

(Unfortunately, we were at a loud bar post-game so we couldn't hear what she was saying. (Incidentally, if you've never been to a college volleyball before, you should go check it out some time.))

Next Wednesday on Quite Frankly: Diana Taurasi.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Bad news for up and coming Kentucky: Junior center Eleia Roddy tore her acl and will be out for the season.

Out in California, senior Erin O'Bryan and sophomore Shantel Thomas are leaving the Gauchos for personal reasons.

Over at Kansas, former KU women’s basketball coach Marian Washington has denounced reports that she or any of her former staff failed to cooperate with the University during its investigation of rules violations in Summer 2004.

On the "good news" side, USC will retire Cheryl Miller and Lisa Leslie's jerseys as part of their opening season game November 10 against Long Beach State.
Wondering who the new Lynx and Sky coaches will be? Interested in learning who was behind the Maryland recruiting rumors? Want to know who's gay and who's straight in women's basketball?

Just looking for something to put you to sleep tonight?

Go here and click "Document Delivery - Download."

All of your questions will be answered!* This article is guaranteed** to change your life! Download it while it's hot!

(* Warning: All of your questions, including the questions mentioned above, may not be actually answered by the document.)

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Houston Comets appear to be up for sale.

VP Tad Brown says that owner Les Alexander wants to concentrate on his NBA Rockets: Alexander supposedly seeks Houston-based owners, and has set no deadline on the sale.

Rumor has it Alexander has been trying to sell the team for a while, but at an unrealistic price. When will the HRR weigh in?
Notre Dame's Lindsay Schrader tore her ACL this weekend: she's out for the year.

The soph guard scored more points last year than any other returning player; last year's true leading scorer, Megan Duffy, is now a Lynx.
It looks like NCAA Division III will will limit the use of male practice players; the proposal stops far short of a ban.
The Sacramento Bee comes out against ballot measures Q and R, which would subsidize the new arena that the Maloofs, who own the Monarchs and the Kings, say their teams need.

Sacramento readers debate the measures: recent polls suggest that both will lose.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Get a Oklahoma preview as coach Sherri Coale sits down for a Q&A after the Sooner's first practice of the season.
Clay says the W should learn from the fall and rise of professional hockey: "What the NHL has done, and what it seems like the WNBA will do, is to pull back a bit, and spend energy not on spreading the gospel to the masses, but rather focusing on those members of the congregation who haven't yet fully committed to the program....

"For women's basketball... the fan base is drawn from families with young daughters, lesbians and older people... so it makes more sense to try and get more from those disparate (and often conflicting) groups than to chase down market sectors that have so far shown themselves to be impervious."

Clay also takes his usual hard line against expansion, wanting Charlotte and perhaps Houston to resuscitate their fan base and/or move first; if the Storm go to OKC, he wants the Sting in Seattle. If you want to keep the Storm in Seattle, as always, start here.
Kim over at womensbasketballonline.com goes one-on-one with hoops guru Mel Greenberg.

Meanwhile, at his blog, Mel has a loooong entry flashing back to March, 1982, as the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) prepared for its final basketball championship while the NCAA prepared for its first.
'Tis the season for college previews and preseason rankings.

CSTV.com has a bunch of content, including its top 25, a Garrison article on the defending champs, and 64 things you need to know.

SPM has its preview up from Frank Jakka.

Last week Lieberman posted her top 25. Also at ESPN, Hays says we should watch out for Kentucky, USC, and UWGB.
We don't report political news here unless it's clearly also basketball news, but this morning brings a bit of both: Angie Paccione, a Stanford Cardinal alum who in 1984 played for the short-lived WABA, is now running for Congress in Colorado.

Paccione (D), a teacher and state legislator, is running against incumbent Marilyn Musgrave (R), who recently called same-sex marriage "the most important issue that we face." (Musgrave opposes it.)

Today Paccione picked up an enthusiastic endorsement from the Denver Post.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

So what happened with the whole Maryland recruiting scandal that everyone was buzzing about last March?

Nothing. Nothing at all.

Clay Kallam, who suggested at the time that the Terps might face recruiting violations, today apologizes for his mistake.
This particular story ... was more than being wrong. I took a risk that journalists take from time to time, and I gambled that what I was hearing would become a reality. Several people said the same thing in this case, several people who were in a position to know, and so I decided to go out on a limb and publish a piece without official confirmation.
Who was behind it all?

Probably Sylvia Hatchell. But I don't know who Clay's source was, and I don't know who WaPo's sources were, so that's (mostly) just a guess.

Maryland, for its part, didn't help matters by responding the way it did. But regardless, it's good that the air is clear... or at least as clear as the air can be in the sausage-factory world of college basketball recruiting.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Tina Charles makes her UConn debut. Geno says he's happy with the team, but warns fans that the 17-year-old Charles may not rule the world next week: "I don't know that anybody going into college can live up to the hype that most people throw at a kid who's the national player of the year."

Friday, October 13, 2006

Are any teams in the Big Ten on the rise? Try Iowa, where center Megan Skouby-- given a big role by teammates' early injuries-- rose to Big Ten Frosh of the Year.

The Hawks have cracked the preseason top 25 despite starting no seniors. (Hey, if UConn can do it...) Johanna Solverson will return to the court in January; last year she tore an ACL.

Lisa Bluder's teams have scored a lot, but they've had trouble with defense and on the boards. ""I'm amazed at how successful we were last year considering how poorly we rebounded," she said. They'll have to duplicate that success without the lightning-speed play of Crystal Smith, now a backup guard for the Mercury.

Hawkeye assistant Jan Jensen discusses recruiting, where Iowa-- like much of the rest of the conference-- fears it's been eclipsed by Ohio State.
Both the daily papers in the Twin Cities preview the upcoming Gopher mess letdown resurgence season. "We have the same expectations as always," Coach Borton says.

That depends what you expect. Most of the players who would have returned quit or transferred, leaving only two guards-- senior Kelly Roysland and exciting, but inexperienced, soph Emily Fox-- among players who saw real minutes last year.

For those among us who follow recruiting, Purdue columnist Bob Richards has a new rundown of verbals and promises across the conference. Ohio State appears to have landed the future top scorer in the history of Illinois high school ball.
Dept. of cool summer jobs: Vandy student manager Hadley Zeavin spent the summer as video coordinator for the Detroit Shock.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Our long national nightmare is almost over...

But it sounds as if Lynx fans who were hoping to see Michael Cooper on the bench will end up disappointed. Charley reports that Don Zierden is getting the job.

Months of negotiations with MCoop apparently failed to produce a deal. Would he come back to the W if the price were right? (Is he holding out for the Liberty job?)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Two weeks ago Georgia star Tasha Humphrey got caught drinking. She's under 21. The Athens police charged her with a misdemeanor, fined her and released her.

Too bad for her the university has been especially worried about student drinking. Coach Andy Landers has now announced his own penalties: Humphrey will miss the season's first six games, double the required minumu sanction.

Coach Landers: "I want to make sure she understands and everyone else understands that it's just flat-out not acceptable.... We don't have a great deal of [rules]. The reason we don't have a lot of rules is that we've not had a lot of unruly people." Maybe not.

Since Humphrey had knee surgery this spring, the early-season rest may be a blessing in disguise. The Dawgs will certainly need her again later on.
One long-running debate we've had is why the WNBA has so many turnovers, and so many turnovers relative to the NBA.

One occasional answer batted around is that the WNBA ball is hard to handle. The "orange and oatmeal" WNBA ball is made not with leather but with Spalding's "microfiber composite."

The NBA has always stuck with the traditional leather. Until now. When Stern decided that the boys should use composite also. Because it is easier for Spalding.

The verdict?

NBA players absolutely hate it. Contrary to the corporate spin, the composite feels more slippery when wet, and it feels sticky when dry. Rasheed Wallace calls it "terrible." Shaq says it "feels like one of those cheap balls that you buy at the toy store, indoor-outdoor balls."

It's unclear whether the NBA will relent and go back to leather. If it does, maybe the women should have the same option.
After the sudden and heartbreaking death of Army's Coach Maggie Dixon, there was a thoughtful and concerted effort to do something to honor her memory. To that end, the WBCA has just announced the creation of the Maggie Dixon Rookie Coach of the Year award.

"Maggie Dixon brought passion, enthusiasm, knowledge, kindness and humor to every aspect of her coaching life. Her life became a constant role model for every player and coach that was blessed to be touched by her,” Doug Bruno, WBCA President, said. “I thank God every day for having the privilege to have worked with Maggie and to have witnessed Maggie's magic for six years. It is truly an honor to be able to name an award for Maggie and ensure that her coaching legacy lives."

Manitoba (Canada)'s human rights commission ruled last month that a boys' high school hockey team could not exclude girls. Now several boys want to try out for girls' teams.

Manitoba high school athletics official Morris Glimcher: "One young fellow [was] just very honest, and he said: 'You know what? We're not good enough to make the [boys'] varsity basketball team. But the girls' basketball … have a smaller ball and we think we could make that team."
One of the cool things about living in the Twin Cities as a fan of women's sports is the opportunity to attend the Distinguished Lecture Series at the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota.

The Tucker Center is the first and only of its kind. It was founded and is still led by Dr. Mary Jo Kane. Dr. Kane and her staff currently are working on projects on media representations, youth sport, physical activity and recreation and their impact on girls, and Title IX.

Last night kicked off the 10th Anniversary of the lecture series and once again, it was an entertaining and educational evening. The keynote speaker was USA Today columnist Christine Brennan. She covered several topics including media coverage of women's sports, the impact of Title IX and some of her experiences as a female sports journalist.

Brennan grew up in Toledo, Ohio in the 1960s and 1970s and loved sports. She did not have an opportunity to play on an organized team until her freshman year of high school. But that did not stop her from playing baseball and rooting for the Toledo Mudhens and Michigan Wolverines.

Her parents and especially her dad were very supportive of her love of sports. Brennan shares many wonderful memories from her childhood and her career as a journalist in her book, Best Seat in the House. The book was inspired by a column she wrote for her dad's 75th birthday in 2001.

Those of you in the Twin Cities can hear Brennan again tonight for an event with Dads & Daughters.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Ah, bliss: Oklahoma's coach Sherri Coale has a new blog entry where she talks about the fabulous author Pat Conroy.
In 2003, Conroy published “My Losing Season”, a novel based on his personal experience at the Citadel as a point guard whose passion for the sport of basketball leaps in and out of his sentences like a perfectly dropped dime to a backdoor cutter. I hid the paper cover as I carried it with me on road trips (we were struggling and our team didn’t need subliminal messages!) where I devoured every word. I have not seen, since John McPhee’s linguistic portrait of Bill Bradley, words woven together so perfectly around the essence of a ball player. Had I been a college coach in 1963, I would have recruited Pat Conroy if I could have found him. I don’t care how rough the edges of his game.
Coale's writing style, gift for storytelling and eye for detail kinda makes me wish she were a Divsion 3 coach. Think about it: she'd still be responsible teaching a full course load (lucky students) and might take a year off to produce that book she needs to complete her PhD in writing (lucky readers).

Sigh. I can dream, can't I?

By the by, "My Losing Season" is an amazing read.
The mayor of Bentonville, Arkansas says her city really wants a WNBA team. (Via O.K.)

Mayor Coberly attended the W's finals last month and all but promised that David Stern would visit in October; civic boosters are considering an NBA D-League team as well.
In his analysis of the free agent list yesterday, Clay said that Cheryl Ford isn't going anywhere. That's true, but Ford's moving from a rookie-scale contract to a max contract will put the champs in a financial bind.

Detroit already has five guaranteed contracts on the books for 2007 — Cash, Nolan, Riley, Smith, and Holland-Corn — totaling $446,000. Braxton is still rookie-scaled at just over $40k. Adding Ford at $93k will leave less than $150k for the remaining four slots.

Even if you fill three of those with minimum contract players (such as Batteast and Williams), that leaves less than $50k for Pierson, who, as an RFA, will likely command more than that. And it leaves nothing for Powell.

So what to do? Some options:

1. Try (again) to unload Riley.

2. Unload Holland-Corn (again), potentially to Chicago, whom Bill owes something anyway.

3. Let Pierson go.

It also wouldn't be shocking to see something more dramatic... say something involving Swin. She doesn't seem to have fully recovered from her injury, and her relationship with Bill doesn't seem as friendly as it once was. Maybe it's time for both parties to move on.
Iowa State held their Media Day yesterday and the team is glad to have two key players back and feeling better. Both Lyndsey Medders and Rachel Pierson are healthy after struggling last season with injuries.

The Cyclones often only had six players for their rotation last season. And while they will miss the graduated Brittany Wilkins and Lisa Bildeaux, who decided to give up basketball, the six newcomers should give Bill Fennelly more options.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Basket Cases-- even though they're Terps fans!-- have kind words for Ivory Latta.
In the free quadrant of Full Court, Clay dissects, then reassembles, the free agent list.

Clay says (rightly) that rookies and retirements will have much more effect on the '07 season than any moves veterans might make from team to team. He adds that the free agent most likely both to pack her bags, and to help the team that signs her, is probably (wait for it) Tammy Sutton-Brown.
The WNBA will hold its Sales and Marketing Meeting in New York at the end of this month, the 24th through 26th. The Draft Lottery will most likely be held at the end, on the early afternoon of Thursday the 26th.

In other league news... NK reported on the HRR board that Karleen Thompson has been offered the Chicago head coacing job.

Most interestingly: Chicago players were apparently adamant that the team hire a woman. In the past, we've heard that WNBA players prefer male coaches.

What is different in Chicago? Was the experience under Cowens that bad? Or were players just concerned about the league's overall gender balance?

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Two more players lost to ACL tears, this time at Virginia and Washington. Supposedly one in ten female collegiate athletes gets a "serious" knee injury (not necessarily an ACL tear) each year.
Rick Mahorn says the Shock are a model for good manners. Seriously.

(Warning: ad plays sound-- turn your sound off before you click the link.)
The Diana has been hanging out at UConn, along with Ashley Valley; they've been watching Charde Houston. The verdict: she's in shape, she's mentally fit, and she's finally ready to take over games.

The best California high school player since, well, Diana, Houston saw a crappy end to a disappointing season last year in Storrs. "I could walk away and fail, or I could stay and improve," Houston explained. "I didn't leave."

Friday, October 06, 2006

Via this fan: Jen Rizzotti, celebrity speller.
A little news from Oklahoma: Erin Higgins and Britney Brown are recovering nicely from knee surgeries and Courtney Paris blogs about her most favorite time of the year: pre-season conditioning. Duke's Alison Bales expresses equally fond feelings about the start of the school year in her blog (and yes, that was the sarcasm plane that just flew by).
It's never too early maybe too early to think about UConn's rotation, but Nutmeg State fans are doing it anyway: last week Geno called Ketia Swanier a backup point guard, and anyone who compared her play last season with that of frosh PG Reneee Montgomery would likely agree.

Anyone, that is, except Swanier. "I don't think of myself as a backup in anything," she told reporters. "We can be in the game at the same time. We can play well together."

Next year's Huskies will have even more PG options: a few days ago, Christ the King's Lorin Dixon said she'd choose Storrs.

Also in Connecticut: Mike DiMauro's head explodes.
Congratulations to current Opal, ex-Mercury and recent Lynx guard Kristi Harrower, who got married earlier this week.

Harrower missed out on her Australian team's regional championship due to a conflict with the World Games in Brazil.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Wondering what to do in Cleveland before the Final Four? Check out the Title IX Academic and Legal Conference being held at Cleveland State University, March 28-31.

The conference, entitled "Girls & Women Rock: Celebrating 35 Years of Sport and Title IX," features lots of big names as invited speakers: Birch Bayh, Billie Jean King, USA Today's Christine Brennan, the Women's Sports Foundation's Donna Lopiano, and Nancy Hogshead-Makar, to name a few.

Special events and performances include a luncheon address on Friday, March 30th at the City Club of Cleveland (Citadel of Free Speech) with Billie Jean King, Jane Curry’s one woman show "Nice Girls Don’t Sweat," the "Jewish + Female = Athlete" exhibit at the Maltz Museum of Jewish History, and a Title IX Birthday Hoopla with BJ "yes, they named the USTA after me" King on the evening of March 30th.

If you want to attend, you can register for the entire conference, Legal Conference only, or purchase day passes.
Law professor Erin Buzuvis, of pink Iowa fame, has started a blog devoted to Title IX.
Jason Whitlock (who recently stopped writing for Page 2, in part because of a dispute with the "fake ghetto posturing clown" that is Scoop Jackson) pens a column today on Coach Patterson.
Patterson has been long regarded as a terrible bench coach. Now, the story reported in The Star about Patterson’s abusive, erratic, insecure and overly meddlesome behavior will make it extremely difficult for her to do what she did best — recruit in her home state.
Whitlock also spoke to K-State AD Tim Weiser, who had stopped speaking to Voepel about the situation. Said Weiser (this is an actual quote, not a joke):
For all the talk of dysfunction within the program, Deb has won a lot of games. We’ve averaged 7,000 to 8,000 fans. We won a Big 12 title. I wish I had this kind of dysfunction in all of my programs.
Ah, yes... who cares about abusive tactics and First Amendment violations when you're making money and winning games?

One question that keeps popping up in my mind: Where is the NCAA? Does the organization make any effort to aid or protect student-athletes in these situations? Or is it solely concerned about protecting the interests of its "member institutions"?

Isn't this a situation where it's wrong — really, really wrong — to force a player to sit out for a year after transferring?

A player leaves a school to escape a degrading and potentially illegal situation. The NCAA rules punish her, but take no action against the coach. (See also, Jen Harris.) Isn't that just a little backwards?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Time to pretend you're a WNBA GM. The official free agent list is up on .com.
USA Today's Kelly Whiteside recently visited with Army's women's basketball team. The team knows there will be difficult moments this season, but they also believe that Maggie Dixon will still be with them and they will be playing for her.

Dave Magarity is back coaching because of Dixon and will now lead her team this season. Before becoming Dixon's associate head coach last season, Magarity had moved away from coaching. But a four hour dinner with Dixon changed all that.

Jamie Dixon's team will lead off the Maggie Dixon Classic on November 12 at West Point. Pitt will take on Western Michigan in their season opener. Ohio State will play Army in the women's game. Jamie says the plan is to make it an annual event for women's basketball at Madison Square Garden.

"It's going to be a very emotional game with all her family here," says Army junior guard Margaree "Redd" King. "But at the same time we're going to play our hearts out, and Ohio State better watch out. We will play with the spirit she instilled in us and coach (Dave) Magarity (her successor) is carrying on."

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

K-State will apparently have no response to Voepel's series of articles on the trouble in the Wildcat's women's hoops program. Contract negotiations with Coach Patterson appear to be moving forward.

Just standard operating procedure for big-school athletic departments. See no evil...

Big 12 fans continue the debate at HoopScoop.
On ESPN, Bill Simmons, and sports blogging. (And yes, Simmons is a pompous douchebag, unregardless of his writing on the WNBA. His appearance on Colbert confirmed it.)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Mel Greenberg praises Mechelle Voepel for yesterday's story on the K-State program and for her follow up on ESPN.com.

The Guru also notes that UConn and Sun writer Karen Tucker is moving to Knoxville to work for the WBHOF.
Barry has FCP's All-WNBA team up (free section). Fans react to the selections.
A group of investors in Charlotte is trying to raise $10 million to purchase the Sting (via pilight).

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Belated sympathies to Storm-blogger Patrick on a scary moment that hit him late this season. We hope you're well, and we want your offseason updates... any chance you can give us your take on the UW Huskies, much as the Basket Cases follow the Terps?
Rutgers' Matee Ajavon will miss the first weeks of the college season. Again.

(The trouble with working this blog, at this time of the year, is that most of the stories are bad news: injuries, scandals, unexpected departures. Maybe a WNBA team will hire a coach?)
At ESPN, Voepel offers the story behind the story her newspaper ran this morning on the alleged mess at K-State.

She says it was hard to write. Really, really hard: "I considered Patterson to be a friend -- as much as a head coach can be with a journalist... I won the Mel Greenberg Award in 2003 because Patterson had taken the time to nominate me. But I realized that other people had very different experiences."

How many sports reporters, in how many markets, would find themselves unable to write the big, tough story Voepel has just written, because their editors didn't think the sport worth the column inches the story would take?
Via Icey, a Sylvia Fowles shoulder rehab update. The LSU junior, who hurt her shoulder this spring, could have practiced with post-challenged Team USA this summer.

Coach Pokey said no; she wanted Fowles healthy this fall. "Sylvia can sit on a machine and she’s fine," said the LSU head coach. "But she has not competed and that’s not the arena you want to throw her into,” not till her shoulder's fully healed.
Voepel uncovers turmoil at K-State. In recent years, several players and assistants have left amid accusations of abusive tactics by coach Deb Patterson.

Even former star Kendra Wecker left with bad feelings. "[I]f I would have felt six years ago what I feel now, there’s no way in the world that I would have gone there," says Wecker.

Voepel uncovered an NCAA violation, which K-State reported last week.

Several players and coaches also complained about being forced to sit through mandatory religious sessions. Patterson's pregame program included a practice called "chapel," which players believed was required. Patterson said she wasn't sure whether it was required or not: "I don’t honestly remember all the details."

This investigation is printed in eight chapters in today's KC Star. It's not pretty. (And yet... Patterson was given a contract extension last week.)

What's most depressing to me is how completely unsurprising this story is.