Women's Hoops Blog: August 2008

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Sunday, August 31, 2008

From the Tennessean: A look a finances and big-time college athletics in the article, "Football success fuels UT athletics survival."
From the multimillion-dollar practice facility to a $200 million face lift of Neyland Stadium, the UT athletics department has opened its checkbook in a big way, doing whatever it takes to attract top-tier athletes who can win on the field and help drive the UT brand.

And UT's money machine begins and ends with football.

The fortunes of the entire athletics department hang on the success or failure of Tennessee's football team, and losing — even for a little while — is just not an option.
Thanks to the Women's Sports Blog for pointing me to the Paralympic blogs over at Disaboom.com. They've got four athletes blogging: Alejandro Albor: Hand-Cyclist, Matt Scott: Men's Wheelchair Basketball, Stephen Craig Denuyl: Goalball, and Emily Hoskins: Women's Wheelchair Basketball.

Emily wrote yesterday:
Today we went through Team Processing. Basically it was a 4 hour meeting/seminar on how to conduct ourselves once we get over there. We went over some things to expect, learned a few important Chinese phrases (ie, hello, thank you), discussed drug testing and dealing with people from the media while we're over there. Just things like that. They had a panel consisting of former Paralympians, each of whom discussed their experiences at the Summer or Winter games. The class was long, but was pretty helpful.

This definately seems all the more real now. I've been looking forward to this for 4 years and it's finally happening! The packing is a nightmare! What to ship? What to send home? How am I going to fit all this crap in my suitcase? All my teammates are here. The men's team arrived today (they have to go through Team Processing tomorrow, and they leave tomorrow night). Everything finally seems to be coming together!
A little about Disaboom:
Disaboom.com was founded by Dr. J. Glen House, a physician specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation who is also a quadriplegic. His firsthand knowledge of the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities and those whose lives they touch has driven the Disaboom.com mission: to create the first comprehensive, evolving source of information, insight, and personal engagement for the disability community.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

In March, Marie over at the Sports, Society and Media blog wrote the following:
The Washington Post Friday ran a front-page article about U.S. war vets who are trying out for the Paralympic team. As the article points out, more than a dozen vets are vying for a spot on the U.S. team.

Traditionally, the Paralympics have been ignored by the U.S. press, and a quick check on Google News shows that most coverage this year has been in overseas media. But the fact that U.S. military members will represent the U.S. in a new way -- in an international sporting competition -- could help bring the Paralympics the media attention it deserves.
It'll be interesting to see if her hope is borne out.

You can keep up on the Paralympic games through the official site and various multiplatform broadcasts via Universal Sports. Opening Ceremonies: Sept. 6th.

More than 200 U.S. athletes will compete in 18 sports during the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing. Results, updates and recaps will be posted here.

There are 10 women's teams playing wheelchair basketball, and the competition begins the 8th. The US roster:
Sarah Castle (Champaign, Ill./Centennial, Colo.) -
Patty Cisneros (Champaign, Ill./Lake Station, Ind.)
Loraine Gonzales (Ft. Worth, Texas)
Carlee Hoffman (Champaign, Ill./Cutlerville, Mich.)
Emily Hoskins (Murray, Ky./Mascoutah, Ill.)
Mary Alison Milford (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Magnolia, Ark.)
Becca Murray (Germantown, Wis.)
Alana Nichols (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Farmington, N.M.)
Christina Ripp (Littleton, Colo./Dane, Wis.)
Jennifer Ruddell (Champaign, Ill.)
Natalie Schneider (Lincoln, Neb.)
Stephanie Wheeler (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Norlina, N.C.)
The US team, gold medalists in Athens, was named the USOC Team of the Month in July.
"Our team has worked hard all summer and we came ready to play physically, mentally, and spiritually," said Ruddell. "Being named Team of the Month for June is certainly a great morale boost for our team going into Beijing. Hopefully we can improve and build on those tournaments to bring home the gold."
Three-time Paralympian Patty Cisneros (Champaign, Ill./Lake Station, Ind.) has been selected as a finalist for the Women's Sports Foundation's Sportswoman of the Year award. In September 2007, she accepted an offer to become head coach of the University of Illinois' Women's Wheelchair Basketball Team and led the team to a national championship in her first season.

Illinois is a powerhouse in women's wheelchair. Why? Becuase the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois has a Division of Disablity Resources and Educational Services with a long history in adapted athletics.

The 2008 National Women's Wheelchair Basketball Tournament was held at the U of I this past March and featured the following teams:
University of Illinois
Phoenix Banner Mercury
University of Alabama
University of Arizona
RIC Chicago Sky (yes, that Chicago Sky)
Dallas Lady Mavericks
United Spinal Liberty (yes, that Liberty)
Steel City Starz
Denver Lady Rollin' Nuggets
PossAbilities Lady Warriors
Bennet Blazers
Shepherd Lady Stealers
No surprise, it's tough to find coverage (or easily accessed websites) for the teams, but you can go to the National Wheelchair Basketball Association for information. Check out their Women's History page.
The .com catches up with Shannon Bobbitt.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Seems the Final Four was good for Tampa Bay's economy: $19.1 million worth of good. (Spending figures from the city's local organizing committee, ticket sales and spending by local residents were excluded.)
Three games, three blowouts, in last night's Western Conference:

1. San Antonio trashed the Mercury in Phoenix. The defending champs lost the second quarter by a whopping 25 to 6-- even though the Merc had more rebounds.

2. Seattle won big at home against Houston. Sue Bird scored 22; nobody else on either side topped ten. The win nearly guarantees the Storm a playoff spot, and should reassure Seattleites nervous about having to spend the rest of the year without LJ.

3. I honestly thought they'd be tuckered out from the Olympics, but the Sparks got back on track last night, beating Sacto in L.A.: all three Olympians finished in double figures. "I think we're over the jet lag," said Milton-Jones.
We try to keep this blog on topic, but today there's a women's hoops story that's also big politics: surprise Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin once played point guard on an Alaska state championship team. You won't be surprised to learn that she likes Title IX.

The guy at the top of her ticket, by contrast, appears not to understand what Title IX does. You can find McCain's original statement here.

Barack Obama, on the other hand, has made his support for Title IX clear.

We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming.
As awards go, I don't know that I'd get much argument that being named league MVP is the most prestigious.

This year, the race is particularly intriguing, and the top candidates will hold their destiny (and, perhaps, the destiny of their teams) firmly in hand as the season races to its conclusion. So why on earth would the W turn it in to a (25%) popularity contest?

Plenty of discussion over at Rebkell.
In the closest game of the night, the Sky pulled away in the fourth quarter against the Liberty.

The jump shot of Jia Perkins was on and the Liberty offense never really got going, outside of an impressive game from Essence Carson. "We just didn't play well," said Liberty coach Pat Coyle. "You can say it's the layoff. You can say whatever you want. We just didn't play well. I don't think we competed tonight."
In a complete reversal from a game earlier this season, Connecticut gave Indiana their worst home loss ever. The Sun did this without Lindsay Whalen scoring a point. Tamika Whitmore and Ashja Jones led a balanced attack.

We sit here so much and talk about the things that make a great team, and the things we talk about we don't do," said Tamika Catchings. "I think that's the most frustrating things of all. You look at the potential that we have and all the great players on this team and the fact that we haven't been able to gel together is really frustrating."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Last season during the tournament, Oklahoma State's Andrea Riley took a swipe at LSU's Erica White.

This season, if her team makes the tournament, they will play their first game without her. The NCAA has reprimanded and suspended her.
News from around the league:
Taurasi, Pondexter on verge of big score, the Sparks are ready to renew push for the playoffs, it's layoff to layups tonight for Monarchs, and it's back to business for Liberty.
Over at ESPN.com, Graham and Mechelle welcome back the WNBA.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Getting impatient for the WNBA to get back in action tomorrow night?

Check out the transcripts from the teleconferences with players and coaches from both conferences. They are worth the read.
The WNBA and USO co- held the Inspiring Women luncheon and basketball clinic Aug. 20 at Fort Bragg where Lt. Col. Kirsten Brunson was honored with the WNBA’s Inspiring Women Award, thanks to a letter written by her husband, Lt. Col. Xavier Brunson.

“Everybody keeps saying that I’m the reason we’re here, but I don’t see it that way,” she said after accepting the award. “I’m here so my little girls (Raechel and Rebekah) can play basketball with (the WNBA players).”

She was talking about the free basketball clinic that Latta, Stinson and former Michigan State standout and current Charlotte Bobcat Shannon Brown set for later in the day. Brunson used the stage to credit the WNBA for being an inspiration for young women.

“I watch the WNBA, and I see strong, powerful, beautiful, positive, athletic women,” she said. “That’s what you do to inspire my children.”

Who's your Women's Sports Foundation Sportswoman/women of the Year? Vote by Sept 2 and maybe win some goodies.
Erin Phillips' return to the Sun is now confirmed. "When I finally did touch down this morning," says the skilled guard and frequent Starbuck resembler, "I thought that I can't believe it's been two years since I've practiced here.”

Also to suit up for the Sun Thursday night, or else soon thereafter: ex-UConn star, and ex-Lynx starter, Svetlana Abrosimova. To sign her, the Sun waived Jolene, which frankly surprised me (Jolene will get better, and Svet is as good as she's ever going to be). Maybe coach Thibault wants more experience, or more aggression, from the small forward position-- or maybe the Sun, who will now have a roster with five former Huskies, think they're going to sell more tickets that way.

(Hat tip to New London Day sports writer Ned Griffen, who alerted me to Svet's signing this afternoon: we would have linked to his story, and not to the Courant's, had the Day already put its Svet story online.)
Margo Dydek has provided many classic "tall/short" photo ops: When a Utah uniform there was the one with Debbie Black hiding behind Margo's knees (I wish I could find an online version of the shot -- it was from a kids book put out about the W back in the day...)

When Margo was with the Sun, there was the classic "Becky Boxes Out" shot.

Now that Margo is with the Sparks, photographers must be salivating at the prospect of a Bobbit/Johnson/Dydek shot.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The SEC and ESPN agree on landmark 15-year/$2.25 billion deal:
ESPN will use all of its platforms - including video streaming and mobile phones - to cover football, men's basketball, women's basketball and Olympic sports. There is even a brand name: "SEC on ESPN."
A couple of articles about Title IX and the Olympics brought to you by the Title IX blog:

From the Boston Globe's Bob Ryan: Ladies' Night (comment from T IX: "Too bad he keeps referring to the athletes as "ladies" in that way in which many male sports writers, thinking they are being supportive, are so condescending.")

From the Wall Street Journal:
You knew we wouldn't make it through an Olympics--even a highly successful one for the United States--without hearing about Title IX threatening the future of Olympic sports. This article in The Wall Street Journal is not entirely condemning of Title IX, but it does leave open the potential inferences by readers that cuts to men's Olympic sports happen because women's sports are "protected" by Title IX. Maybe we should go ask the female fencers at JMU how protected they felt.
News from the W just before the last mad dash of the season: Erin Phillips is back. So, it is rumored, it Margo. And there may be som more bad new for Seattle -- no Cash.
Vassar's Emma Carmichael has a job I would have loved in college - researcher for NBC Olympics in New York.

The job recently gave her the chance to play a pick up game with Teresa Edwards and Swin Cash. She writes an entertaining article on that, shoes and "The Unredeemables" on Slam.
Matt Stout of the Norwich Bulletin used the Olympic break to evaluate the Sun players this season. Check out his blog to read more (at the time of this post, he just had Tamika Whitmore left).

Monday, August 25, 2008

Melissa at Off-Court (in a piece posted Saturday) has some thoughts on Becky's Russia gig: for Becky (and for her generation) the Cold War is over, even if some Baby Boomer commentators-- and coaches-- didn't quite read the memo.

We'll be watching Silver Stars Nation to see how her San Antonio fans react.

And speaking of San Antonio: with both Taylor and Jackson out of the W for the rest of the year, how soon can SASS fans count on making the playoffs? And how successful can the Storm-- mathematically guaranteed to finish no worse than .500-- be in a Lauren-free postseason?
Elena Delle Donne met with the press as a member of the University of Delaware's volleyball team. Mel was there and writes Delle Donne was burned out by basketball as early as age 15.
From Michigan, a Q&A with a longtime referee:
Mike Vernon has worked at Aircraft Precision Products for 35 years.

He's now a quality control technician and one of the highest seniority workers at the Ithaca plant.
However, the 57-year-old 1969 Ithaca High School graduate has a much more visible second job.

Vernon has been refereeing boys' and girls' high school basketball games in mid-Michigan for more than three decades, including a couple of state finals.
Khadijah Rushdan, whose high school battled Elena DelleDonne's throughout her career, reflects on the recruiting process.
"When you are accomplished," former St. Elizabeth High girls basketball star Khadijah Rushdan said, "you have a lot of schools look at you, a lot of people propositioning you, and it's hard. It's stressful. You're about to make one of the most important decisions of your life. You can never satisfy everybody, and some [high school seniors] lose track as to what makes them happy."

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Surprising nobody here, UConn has released Elena Delle Donne from her basketball commitment: she'll be able-- and apparently willing-- to play volleyball as a Blue Hen this year.
Q says the W ought to learn from the way the Olympics handled the Web: it's part of Q's series of marketing ideas for new-century hoops.
Four years ago, in Athens, there was a real contest, and drama, and even disorientation.

This time, when Team USA faced the Opals once more, it was more like domination: the Americans made the Aussies shoot atrociously, scrambled and worked hard on defense, and made good use of Team USA's deeper bench. Despite third-quarter runs, the outcome seemed foreordained.

For the Australians, many of whom spent the past few years preparing for this game, the result was shock and sadness. "I don't know what happened," said Kristi Harrower. "We actually believed we could do it, that we could come out and win a gold medal. We shot the ball like crap and that kills you."

For the Americans, delight and relief. For Anne Donovan, clear-cut redemption after the disappointment of 2006.

And for for Leslie, still beloved of camera crews, some well-deserved attention, in what will likely be her last Olympic games. "My dream was to hang four gold medals around my neck," she said. (Candace Parker: "I kept telling [Leslie] she should go for five.")

For the viewers? A mismatch, as it turned out; a lot of chippy play, a lot of elbows, a lot of whistles, and 56 free throws-- two or three of them, it seemed, for every fast break and every nifty pass. Four players-- among them LJ, Leslie and Diana-- fouled out.

We couldn't have asked for more intensity, nor for more commitment to team defense. We couldn't have asked for a higher level of talent than what both countries put out there. We couldn't, I think, have asked the referees to create smoother play: there were plenty of foul calls because there were plenty of fouls, including some hard ones. But we could-- I do-- wish we had seen a more elegant game.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

From Sacbee:
Local members of Kiwanis and Rotary clubs, along with other volunteers, have won the WNBA's "Court of Dreams" contest for a fourth consecutive year by selling more than 5,000 tickets for Monarchs home games.

Friday, August 22, 2008

USABBall has a preview of the gold medal game (10amEST).
Did we know Dawn was bloggin' from Beijing?
I want to personally give a special thanks to our Women's Basketball mentors who have organized a Gold Medal Watch party at the Loose Caboose to cheer us to victory over Australia on Saturday at 10:00 am on NBC. To help prepare you for the game, click below for some "scouting" information.
Val Ackerman will receive the 2008 Hall of Fame’s John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award.
A little news from Kixandthecity.com, an online magazine dedicated to sneaker culture. (Who knew sneakers had their own culture!)
With all of the attention the "Redeem Team" has been getting, it has probably been very easy to forget that the Women's Team USA Basketball team has been dominating their competition by a more impressive margin than their Male counterparts. To celebrate Candace Parker's first trip to the Olympics, adidas has created the Candace Parker PE Pack. The CP PE Pack features three styles, CP's on the court "Olympic" adidas Pilrahna III, and two off the court adidas AdiClubs.
(Nice to know I'm not the only one who notices the overwhelming imbalance in coverage....)
Memorable Q&A with Mark Hyman: what advice do youth sports parents need?

"Err on the side of being somewhat subdued," he warns. Then he quotes Cal Ripken: "“When parents go wild at a child’s good plays, it makes it very noticeable how quiet they become when things aren’t going well.”
ot: Feel the need to reflect back on what was a pretty amazing 24 hours of (US) women in the Olympics.

There's no doubt that the US softball team is profoundly disappointed in their silver, but holy kamole, do you realize what the Japanese ace Uemo did? She pitched double-header to get her team into the gold medal game, and then led her team to victory. With her pitch-count in the stratosphere, I'm betting her golden arm is all about ready to fall off.

The silver lining? If Tokyo (or Chicago) get the 2016 games, perhaps Japan's victory will encourage the IOC to reinstate softball. 'Cause it'd surely stink to have the lasting image of Olympic softball be five pairs of cleats left on home plate.

Soccer: Fess up -- after Abby broke her leg, most of you thought the US had an outside chance at getting any kind of medal, much less gold.

Well, surprise, surprise, the '08ers must have watched the tape from Athens and learned some lessons (Heck, they were playing the same team.). The single-named ones outplayed the '04 team in every category except the one that counts: balls in the net. The '04ers also were playing under enormous pressure -- it was the "the last game" for so many of US soccer's icons (aka '91ers) -- and experience may have been the deciding factor.

This time, in a bend, don't break game plan, laced with the underlying drama of a new coach and "the redemption of Hope Solo" story line, the US victory shocked everyone. Especially the Brazilians, who must be wondering, what on earth does it take? (The pink sports bra was a nice touch, Kai.)

You've got to wonder how Mia and Julie and the Michelle Akers are feeling. Proud, I hope, that this new crew, who've played in the '91 shadow (a different kind of pressure), was able to win on their own terms.

Volleyball - sandy and on sanded floors. I'm going to include boys in this section 'cause in case no one's noticed, all areas of US volleyball are kicking butt and taking names. Men's and women's indoor volleyball are both in the gold medal game, and women's and men's beach volleyball both earned gold. (Thank you, gents, for re-creating the post-Athens win Walsh/May roll in the sand.)

A word about the amazing pair of Misty May and Kerri Walsh. The first pair to win back-to-back Olympic gold, their winning streak now stands at 108. Some are saying that's Wooden-esque, but us olde folks know it's Edwin Moses-esque. (And thanks, Kerri, for the shout out to the Women's Sports Foundation.)
The Sun hit the links and The Day's Mike DiMauro was there.
Jessie and I watched the last half of Team USA vs Russia through the NBC Olympic video archive, which comes without announcing of any kind. We came away with a new appreciation for even the silliest color commentators; unless you are physically in the arena, announcing does bring you closer to the game.

Team USA came away with a win. The game was scrappy, sloppy, physical, and not the blowout that American fans have seen their team pull off in previous matches-- but against Russia you wouldn't expect a blowout, especially not with 22 turnovers to just 11 U.S. assists.

With those numbers, you might even expect a loss-- and Team USA had to come from behind in the third. But the Americans held a ridiculous, almost two-to-one advantage in rebounding (even though Leslie didn't look good), and the USA bench looked deeper and stronger than their exhausted opponents. The Americans owned the fourth quarter, and advanced.

Oh, and Rebecca Hammon, point guard for Russia? She didn't look so good: 1-4 shooting, one assist, three points. She also showed respect for the U.S. anthem. "She's one of 12 players," said Katie Smith of Hammon, "and we did a good job of keeping her under wraps."

In the other semi-final, the Opals had a lot less trouble defeating China, in a match with its own mixed-up loyalties: Chinese coach Tom Maher once ran the Opals, and his assistant Michelle Timms played for Australia back then.

They couldn't make their new team competitive Thursday, though: Australia's Harrower and Snell combined for eight assists and 30 points. Penny Taylor sat out to rest her ankle: she'll almost certainly play in Saturday's game against the Americans for the gold.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

No, $3,851 (per school year, presumably) in Pennsylvania doesn't seem like much for all the hours and toil that go into coaching JV high school girls' basketball.

But Clay of Full Court points out that many, perhaps most, high school coaches make even less: try $1,800 per year, in California, for varsity-- a number he says hasn't changed significantly since 1977, when his own high school coaching career began.

For more on the uncompensated labor of love that is work as a high school coach, check out Christine Baker's Slice of Rye columns, especially her first.
Oklahoma's Jenna Plumley was suspended from the team, and now it looks like she may be gone from OU.
A little US women's basketball history out of Salem, Arkansas:

"Not everyone knows that women have been playing basketball just as long as men," begins the article (True, unless you're one of the regular readers of the WHB!) and continues with the great story of Pauline Williams.

Pauline Williams, 83, of Salem fell in love with basketball when she attended Viola High School in the 1940s. "It felt good," she said. "It felt great."

The 5-foot-9 Williams said she started playing for the Viola Longhorns' women's basketball team at 13. "At school that's what we played at physical education class, and I liked it," she said.

Though Williams has suffered two strokes in the past couple of years, one can tell from the gleam in her eyes and strong talkative spirit that she still remembers the fun she had while playing basketball and many other joyous occasions.

It's very exciting to see the salaries that top women's college basketball coaches get these days. But, it's nice to remember (as a fan and as an optimistic young coach) that you're not going to walk in to a job like Pat's or CViv's.

Conisre this little bit of financial reality from Pennsylvania:
The following coaches were hired at Tuesday’s meeting: Dennis Landis, JV girls basketball, at a salary of $3,851; Bill Turbitt, 8th-grade girls basketball, $2,572.80; Matt Raup, 7th-grade girls basketball, $2,572.80; Shawn Kuhns, middle-school football, $2,572.80; Mike Bergey, varsity football, $4,209.12; Wendell Sweigard, football, $1,052.28; and Scott Kendall, cross country, $1,836.80.

The money can't begin to match the hours expected:
Scott DeJong's daily schedule is not an unusual one. A coach for 17 years at Ankeny High School (Iowa), DeJong teaches six business classes a day and also serves as co-chair of the Iowa Girls' Coaches Association. With several state titles to his credit, DeJong admits that, during the regular season, "it's not uncommon for me to stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning, watch the game we just played, watch the team we're going to play, prepare a practice, then go to work the next morning."

Coaching at the high school level (and below) is a labor of love -- and it's a labor that is essential to building the game as a whole. If you're interested, look here to learn about the changes in the profession or here to learn about the tensions between high school and AAU coaches.
Lisa Leslie likable: "I want a picture of me with four gold medals around my neck," she says, "and my daughter in my arms."
A fun piece from USAToday about USAChemistry.
They play passionately against one another in the WNBA. Some played at rival colleges that despised one another. Can they really put all that aside for sake of team?

Heck, no. Sometimes team chemistry is best measured in gibes.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Also from Beijing: Catchings saves her strength. "Our team got out to the Great Wall," she says, "and I went to the mall... but I'm staying off my feet as much as possible."

Useless factoid of the day: Helen's Wade Watch, just below, was our ten thousandth post! And here's Ted's very first.
Points to the paper of record in Rochester, New York for running a feature on Kara Lawson, for my money (and despite her other life as a TV commentator) still under-appreciated for what she does.

No point for the lede, though: "Kara Lawson has been a starter all her life." In fact, and as Monarchs fans know, until 2008 she came off the bench in most of Sacto's games.
It's never to early to talk Wade Watch.
Courtesy of bullsky, a reminder that (cue music) tonight is ladies night"
  • Wednesday 11:00 pm ET [NBC] - May-Treanor/Walsh will play for the gold medal.
  • Thursday 12:30 am ET [NBC] - USA vs. Cuba in a volleyball semifinal
  • Thursday 6:30 am ET [USA] - USA vs. Japan in softball gold medal Game
  • Thursday 8:00 am ET [MSNBC] - USA vs. Russia in basketball semifinal
  • Thursday 9:00 am ET [USA] - USA vs. Brazil in soccer gold medal game
Lordy, these late nights and early starts are creating some serious Olympic-sized sleep deprivation. And I should know because, yes, it's true, I did watch the tape-delay of the women's softball last night -- what an amazing display of pitching by Japan and the US -- even though I knew the outcome.

Totally sucks that we may never see this sport in the Olympics.
Need to de-stress before the USA-Russia-Hammonova extravaganza?

Check out this USAToday blog entry and this video from the WNT Blog of what happened when the US basketball team and the Women's Soccer team crossed paths. (h/t gopher5)
More on Team USA's easy win over Korea, including another eyewitness report from Full Court's Michaelson.

Next up for Team USA: the Russians, who beat Spain easily yesterday.

The winner in all probability faces Australia, who have to beat China in the other semifinal first-- but they're quite likely to do that: USA coach Donovan warns that the Opals are a tough team even without Taylor, and tells her team not to think past the next game.
From the Tennessean: Former Lady Vols adjust well to life in WNBA.
In local newspaper coverage, the Indy Star talks to the most efficient player in the Olympics so far. Tamika Catchings is still not 100%, but is thrilled to get the chance to play after her Achilles injury.

The Star Tribune talked to Seimone Augustus after Team USA's win over South Korea. She gave her team's performance an A+.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

From USAToday: USA's Fowles drawing a crowd and loving it.
The Mystics may be making more money, but Sheila ain't happy with their record.
“We cannot continue on this path,” Sheila Johnson, also a part owner of the team, said in a rare conference call with reporters. “The Mystics have not moved one ounce in their 11-year history, and we’ve got to start making some changes. It is the only way this team is going to survive.
Ouch for Seattle: LJ will have post-Olympic surgery.
Becky isn't alone: NPR and other outlets cover the several handfuls of Olympians with unexpected flags on their uniforms, among them Pittsburgh-bred men's baller, and Russian Olympian, J. R. Holden.

"More athletes than ever," says Time magazine, "are competing in Beijing under flags (and, in many cases, names) different from the ones under which they were born."

On the same tip, Russian news services treat Becky as a transplanted American-- and gymnast Nastia Liukin as a transplanted Russian. (Her dad emigrated to the United States.)
New Zealand's only pro team, the Christchurch Sirens, will apparently cease to exist this fall: they competed in Australia's WNBL, but faced insuperable funding troubles, and the WNBL decided to make its fall schedule without them.

Hopeful Kiwis want to see an NZ team back in the WNBL, perhaps with new management, perhaps in Wellington, perhaps in 2009-10.
Not so much a new women's hoops blog as a big pileup of individual blogs, stat-trackers and news aggregators: among the bloggers, there's Linda on Hammon, San Antonio fan SayT, and Ris, who hearts Australia.
Lisa Leslie on chippy moments in Beijing: "We've been trying to avoid getting technicals."

Fun fact: Leslie is one of four players with three technical fouls so far this year (in WNBA play, not in Beijing). Just one WNBA player has more-- and that player has seven. Guess who?
Delle Donne will head to Delaware as a student, if not as an athlete: UConn still hasn't released her from her scholarship.

Sooner or later she will get a release: even if you believe the worst about Geno (and we don't), it would look terrible-- and would hurt future recruiting-- were the Huskies to keep Delle Donne from ever becoming a Blue Hen. (Don't be surprised to see her playing volleyball, not hoops, for Delaware this year.)
The Basket Cases come home to good news: their Mystics are making more money.
Very bad news for Opals fans: Penny Taylor hurt her ankle in yesterday's blowout victory over the Czechs. She won't play in Thursday's matchup against China, and might be done for a lot longer than that: the photograph looks excruciating.
Husky Nation reacts to Delle Donne's decision to leave UConn; ESPN's Hays says UConn is still number one.
Diana did the robot on her recruiting visit to UConn! That anecdote and more in a nifty feature on DT's friendship with Sue, reported from Beijing in today's Boston Globe.

Monday, August 18, 2008

From the NYTimes: As Parker's Play Soars, So Does Her Image.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

OT: Dottie Collins, who was a star pitcher in women’s professional baseball in the 1940s and later played a major role in preserving the history of the women’s game, died Tuesday in Fort Wayne, Ind. She was 84.
Delle Donne will not attend UConn -- and it's possible basketball is not part of her future.
OT: Got Bustos?

Also OT: Did you catch Dara Torres at the start of the 50m semis? Great display of sportsmanship.
In non-American Olympic play, Australia canned Latvia behind LJ's thirty points. The Latvians can still make the elimination round if they beat Korea this weekend.

The home team beat Mali. China now stands second in group B pool play, behind the USA.

And in a game that would have been an upset twelve years ago, but isn't one now, Russia handled Brazil. The white, blue and red team did it with interior play and a fourth-quarter surge; Adriana Pinto led all scorers, but the Russians had an enormous rebounding edge.

The Brazilians sink to 0-4; Australia and Russia, both undefeated, meet in what ought to be a fine game this Sunday.

Wish you were there? Not skipping work to watch every minute of every game? Lee Michaelson is still there, and reports on Thursday's (not Friday's) games for Full Court.
The Spanish national team stuck around for a while, but in the end the Americans blew them away.

Tina Thompson looked fine and scored 17 (as did Spain's Valdemoro); Lisa Leslie banged up her hip early but returned. Thompson says a second-half defensive clampdown keyed the US win.

Voepel watched Sylvia Fowles. So did Leslie, who said afterwards: "When I go out of the game I always say to Sylvia... 'Keep the party rolling.'"

One source of concern for Team USA going forward: tempers, especially Diana's. DT got very chippy during the first half, after confrontations with Isabel Sanchez: it didn't matter, but it might have done.

The official Olympic site has video for an interview with Katie Smith.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Random Rule Thoughts:
  • Until the WNBA has enough viewership/sponsorship to move up to 48 minutes, I'd like to see player fouls cut down to 5 like in the Olympics. Might cut down on the physciality. Yes, I understand you want "the stars" to stay on the court, but hey, if they foul, too bad for them and their team. 'sides, bench players are people, too.
  • Intrigued by the Olympic (I simply don't know enough if it goes beyond the Os) that a technical foul counts as a personal foul. Talk about managing player and coach decorum!
  • Not about basketball, but: The 2o second rule, foot-in-the-box rule and the automatic intentional walk in softball keeps the game moving at a nice pace. Hello, MLB? You payin' attention?
From the Washington Post: After Trade, Mystics Make Adjustments.
Well, yippee! A new blog for you all to bookmark: They're Playing Basketball.
You don't have to be a Los Angeles resident to be acquainted with sportscaster Larry Burnett. Since every WNBA game is now at least given an online audio feed, the longtime voice of the Sparks can be heard all over the country, providing his unique brand of straightforward commentary, laced with humor. And with the addition of a certain players to the Sparks' roster this year, Burnett has found that fans comment back to him.

Burnett graciously agreed to an interview this week, which I appreciated on several levels. For one thing, he's got a great perspective on the Sparks, their players and the game itself. Secondly, he's an interesting person. I'll get to that later, as I'm going to divide my discussion with him into a few different blogs, per subject area.

Which makes me wonder: we know it's a band of gorillas, a covey of quail, and an exaltation of larks. What do you call a collection of blogs on the same subject? A bane of bloggers?

I'm open to suggestions.
A little YouTube of the women's team before the Opening Ceremonies and also before their first game.
Ford goes under the knife.
Nikki Teasley is back. (And no, not with the Mystics or the Sparks).

The Dream now have a point guard with a little size.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

USA Basketball has the notes up for the game vs. Spain (tomorrow, 8amEST on USA).
Movement in Chicago: Enter Leah, exit Brooke.
We've watched bits'n'bobs of the Tall Ferns-- New Zealand's team-- because we recognize Harmon and Bodensteiner from Stanford, but we now have another reason to watch NZ in these preliminary rounds: Tall Fern Jessica McCormack, who spent last year with the Other Huskies in Seattle, will suit up in '09 for UConn.
Voepel is hardly the only WNBA journalist filing color pieces from Beijing. Debbie Arrington has made the trip from Sacramento, and she hasn't only been watching Team USA: today she looks again at "Russian" star Becky Hammon.

Becky is still defending her decision; Monarchs Powell and Ticha defend her too. "If I played for a small country that nobody had ever heard of, it would be different," Hammon says. "I could either have gone home and sat on the couch and watched the Olympics on TV or come here and taken part."

Also in Beijing, Sue Bird says the Olympic schedule so far is like a vacation compared to the year-round pace of women's pro ball: there's no travel, and great accommodations. "Even on days we don't play, we're in our hotel," she continues. "We don't have to go that far unless we want to see other events."
Q's Rethinking the need for the US to improve rebounding, who got the best of the Mystics/Shock trade, and Big Syl.
Over at the Storm site, they do a Q&A with Sheryl and Yo.
Team USA had no trouble defeating a Maiga-Ba-less Mali. Playing in their first Olympics, the African champs led 8-7 early on, but it was all American after that. Leslie dominated with 16.

From the Team USA sidelines, Voepel has been watching Tina Thompson. How does she feel about the supposedly-impending sale of her WNBA team? "I'm not worried," she says. "The Comets are an institution and somebody will buy them." Houston mayor Bill White has started trying to find such a purchaser, stat.

In other Beijing action, Australia surprised nobody by thrashing Korea. "Our bigs did a good job of getting out and running," said Penny Taylor; "Harrower did a great job of getting them the ball."

Latvia surprised us by edging Brazil. Anete Jekabsone-Zogota scored the game-winner with less than three seconds to play. "I took it too early," she said, "but fortunately we won."

The Latvians face Australia's Opals today; Team USA has a slightly bigger challenge from Spain.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

ot: The quality of the NBC streaming has been great.

Which has sucked, because I find myself watching stuff deep into the early hours. Like, say, softball. I didn't MEAN to watch the whole thing, but you know what they say, "In for a penny, in for a pound."

Did you catch the game? How could you walk away (or go to sleep)?

Cat Osterman was busy no-hitting the Aussies, striking out 13 of 21 batters. On the offensive side, the rest of the team used smart, aggressive base running and a little Bustos-boost to notch three runs and seal the win.

This is a fun, exciting and talented team. (And it's pretty hysterical to hear the fans ooooooooh and ahhhhhh every time a ball gets launched in to the air.)

I can only encourage you to catch it while you can (pun intended) because this may be the last time you see softball in the Olympics. Gone for London, it might be reconsidered for 2016. At msnbc.com Mike Celizic scoffs at the idea that the sport should be eliminated because some argue the US is too dominant.
It’s a bankrupt argument. No one should have to apologize for excellence. You don’t criticize Michelangelo by saying his David would have looked better with a mole on his cheek. You don’t dismiss Mozart because he never asked a violinist to finger a bad note. I don’t hear people telling Michael Phelps that the swimming competition would be more interesting if he’d let somebody else win.

So why should the U.S. Softball Team have to apologize for always winning?
On that note, I'll go brush my teeth and start to...wait. Look at that -- the US is playing a good Canadian team at midnightEST..... Oh, oh.
Jones signs up with Connecticut for three more years.
ot: An update on Ronda and judo.

The bronze medal wasn't the color she would have preferred, but 21-year-old Ronda Rousey's burst into a smile with a faced reddened by scratches and scrapes Wednesday after she made history by winning the first medal ever for a U.S. woman in Olympic judo.

"I didn't hold anything back," Rousey said after she finished the day 5-1 by defeating Annett Boehm of Germany, a 2004 Olympic bronze medalist, in their bronze final in the 154.3-pound class.

Are the Olympics *quietly* having an Imus-Hughley moment?
Pleasant Dreams - An Atlanta Dream Blog is revising their 2009 WNBA Prospects, Part II.
For years, US women's basketball players travelled to other countries to play they game they love AND earn a living at it. And they still do.

Now, NBA players are beginning to explore the non-US ranks, and WNBA players get it:

Take Josh Childress," Bird said. "Here's a guy who's a good player, averages 11, 12 points in Atlanta, a playoff team. He gets offered a lot more money per year than any NBA team is offering, so he goes to Greece.

"He has enough money so he can take his family, probably. He plays maybe two games a week in a shorter season. Has the summers off. I don't see why an NBA guy, if it's more money and less playing - I'm sure it's attractive to them."

WATN? with one of the early NY fan favorites: Kisha Ford. She gets a really nice Hall of Fame profile from CBS College Sports.

All these years later, long after Agnus Berenato first sat on a couch in a Baltimore row house and made her recruiting pitch, a decade since Kisha Ford last stopped and popped and did her school and herself proud, coach and player are rejoicing together anew.
"I'm so excited about Kisha and proud of her," Berenato said. "She's probably one of the most illustrious student-athletes Georgia Tech has ever had."

"When I got the call," Ford recalled, "I said, `What? Really?!' I just had chills, goose bumps. I'm getting them again just talking about it.

"I was hoping one day they would call," she said. "I didn't know if they would. But when they did, I was so excited, and blessed."


From the WBCA:

Please join the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund, The V Foundation for Cancer Research and the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) at the inaugural 4Kay Golf Classic presented by Nike, hosted by President Marsha Sharp, to raise money for the fight against women's cancers. The Pairings Party will be held at the Embassy Suites Outdoor World on Sunday, September 7, at 7:00 p.m. CST. The Classic will be held on Monday, September 8, with tee time at 8:00 a.m. CST.

WHAT: Inaugural 4Kay Golf Classic presented by Nike
WHEN: Monday, September 8, 2008
WHERE: Cowboys Golf Club in Dallas, Texas
  • Kay Yow, North Carolina State University women's basketball head coach
  • Nick Valvano, The V Foundation for Cancer Research Chief Executive Officer
  • Marsha Sharp, former Texas Tech University women's basketball head coach
  • Beth Bass, Women's Basketball Coaches Association Chief Executive Officer
  • Debbie Antonelli, Women's Basketball Analyst
  • Geno Auriemma, University of Connecticut women's basketball head coach
  • Jody Conradt, former University of Texas women's basketball head coach
  • Nancy Lieberman, Broadcaster and former ODU standout
  • Bill Self, University of Kansas men's basketball head coach
  • Tubby Smith, University of Minnesota men's basketball head coach
  • Pat Summitt, University of Tennessee women's basketball head coach
  • Laurie Brower, LPGA player
  • Beth Daniel, LPGA player
  • Kate Golden, LPGA player
  • Betsy King, LPGA player
  • Steph Louden, LPGA player
  • Hillary Lunke, LPGA player
  • Meg Mallon, LPGA player
  • Barb Muscha, LPGA player
  • Judy Rankin, LPGA player
  • Amy Read, LPGA player
  • Kristen Samp, LPGA player
  • Sherri Turner, LPGA player
  • Colleen Walker, LPGA player
  • Wendy Ward, LPGA player
  • Heather Young, LPGA player
etc., etc,. etc. Apparently the event is already sold out. Wowza.
From the Boston Globe: Parker is already standing tall, and has room to grow.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Duke associate athletic director Jacki Silar has been chosen chairwoman of the NCAA Division I women’s basketball committee for 2008-09.
OT: There are so many cool stories going on a the Olympics it's hard to keep up. This one about an American judo-ist(?), "Rousey’s Journey Out of Pain, Through Judo," caught my eye.
... she has emerged as one of the most boisterous characters at the Summer Games. Seconds after she clinched a berth in Beijing, her second Olympics, she screamed into the stands, “I want a margarita.”
For some reason *looks over to certain Mercury fans,* I was reminded of Diana Taurasi.
(h/t to SI.com's Richard Deitsch)
USABasketball has a preview up for tomorrow's game v. Mali. (10:15amEST on USA)

I'm sure journalists are already working on their alliterative headlines, especially with Maiga-Ba out. No disrespect intended, but the most the US can hope for from this game is evenly distributed minutes and no injuries. *knocks wood*
Bad news for Merc fans. Tangela Smith is out for the rest of the regular season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on her right knee today.
Former BC head coach Cathy Inglese is getting honored up in Vermont. (h/t Carol Anne)
While putting together my timeline of women's basketball history, I sent off a lot of emails to people who were doing work researching women's basketball. More often than not, those people responded (which was very cool).

That's how I found out about authors Linda Peavy and Ursula Smith's long term project: a book about the legendary Fort Shaw team of 1904. I'm thrilled to be able to say that Full Court Quest: The Girls from Fort Shaw Indian School - Basketball Champions of the World is now available for pre-order.

If you go directly to Oklahoma University Press you'll find this promo blurb:

Most fans of women’s basketball would be startled to learn that girls’ teams were making their mark more than a century ago—and that none was more prominent than a team from an isolated Indian boarding school in Montana. Playing like "lambent flames" across the polished floors of dance halls, armories, and gymnasiums, the girls from Fort Shaw stormed the state to emerge as Montana’s first basketball champions. Taking their game to the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, these young women introduced an international audience to the fledgling game and returned home with a trophy declaring them champions.World

And yet their triumphs were forgotten—until Linda Peavy and Ursula Smith chanced upon a team photo and embarked on a ten-year journey of discovery. Their in-depth research and extensive collaboration with the teammates’ descendents and tribal kin have resulted in a narrative as entertaining as it is authentic.

Full-Court Quest offers a rare glimpse into American Indian life and into the world of women’s basketball before "girls’ rules" temporarily shackled the sport. For anyone captivated by Sea Biscuit, A League of Their Own, and other accounts of unlikely champions, this book rates as nothing but net.

More very cool and thoughtful writing from Val Whiting: "Failure can be steppingstone to success."

How can our children reap the benefits of sports and competition if we constantly prevent exposure to failure?

It is only natural to want to prevent our children from feeling pain. I surveyed a few fellow moms. Although they felt the need to protect their child from disappointment, they forced themselves to allow it to happen.

You might want to bookmark the site which, at the bottom of the article, has the following info: Val Whiting is a former Ursuline, Stanford and WNBA player who works as an athletic performance enhancement specialist. She co-owns GameShape in Wilmington. Her column appears biweekly in The News Journal. Contact her at Contact her at info@valwhiting.com.
ot: Billie Jean King has a new book: "Pressure is a Privilege: Lessons I've Learned from Life and the Battle of the Sexes."
Trade Alert....

Detroit gets Taj.

Washington gets Tasha, Shay and a 2009 2nd round pick.

We were just noticing some uncanny similarities between the USA men's and women's Olympic basketball teams. First similarity: both won their first game in dominant fashion. Second: It's gold medal or bust for both teams. The women are looking for their fourth straight. The men have even more to prove, having not been on top of the podium since 2000. Third: President Bush has been taking some time off from his day job (Wait, is he still President?) to kick it with both squads.

And the similarities don't end there. A rundown of players finds that the teams are built in much the same way. Check this player-by-player comparison:

Looks like there's bad news for Hamchetou Maiga-Ba, Mali and Houston.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Early birds looking for something to do on an off wbball day might want to catch the NYTimes' 6amEST game tracking of the US Field Hockey team (It ain't your grandma's field hockey, y'all. Or mine. Looking at what the goalies are wearing these days, I'm surprised I still have teeth.)

The US is facing Japan and ought to lose. But, then again, they should have lost their first game to Argentina, and didn't.

If you want to catch up on the details of field hockey, check out "A Brief History of Field Hockey," by the Times' tracker, Lawrie Mifflin.

Mifflin also guides those interested to the USA Field Hockey site and Jeff Gamza's on site coverage and cool photos.

Another example of a sport creating its own media coverage.
FWIW - if you're cranky that your cable company isn't showing you the Olympics you want, don't forget to check in on NBC's very nice quality video streaming.

Tonight, for instance, you could be watching the US v. Argentina softball game and have seen an inside the park home run. Interesting to watch the game with no audio commentary -- though someone is providing typed play-by-play notes. Consider this piece of truth after Bustos sent a foul ball deep into a nearby parking lot:
Bustos makes fans ooh and ahh even on foul balls. No other hitter in the world has power like Crystl.
Last April, the United States suffered a 3-point loss to China. But, four months later, when asked which teams she expected to give the U.S. a challenge in the Olympics, Sylvia Fowles mentioned Australia and Russia.
"And China?" a Chinese journalist asked.
Continued SI.com's Alexander Wolff:
On Monday night Fowles and the other three U.S. holdovers from the April event -- Kara Lawson, Lisa Leslie and Katie Smith -- took the very floor on which they had suffered that defeat and made good on the words of their 6-foot-5 defensive prodigy. Unlike the U.S. men, who had permitted China and its fans to hang around for 15 minutes, the women refused to extend to the hosts the same courtesy.

The headline of the NYTimes game article sums it up rather nicely: Sportsmanship in Mind, U.S. Women Win Easily. And, noted Wall Street Journal blogger (?!?!) Miguel Gonzalez Jr.,
Much was made of the progress shown by the Chinese men’s basketball team in its lopsided loss to the U.S. Sunday night. But the women’s side has a long way to go if it’s going to match up with the streamlined, professional style of the American team.

Led by 27 points from Tina Thompson the U.S. Women jumped on host country China (1-1) early and rode a 23-0 first quarter run to an easy 108-63 win. (And threw in some pre-game dunks for good measure.)

Everyone scored, everyone got some minutes, and the only concern was the being misled by the enthusiasm of the Chinese fans.

A thunderous roar ensued after a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter cut the deficit to 81-49.

"They cheered so hard that every now and then we had to check the score," said U.S. center Lisa Leslie. "We had to start recalculating. OK, we're still up by 30."

With Mali up next, not even the fear complacency seems to be a worry. Said Donovan:

We’re not showing everything so that does concern me a little bit. But, at the same time, we’ve been tested for two years. We were tested in the World Championships, we’ve been tested too many times and too many losses for all of these players. So, I don’t fear them losing their hunger or their focus with the lopsided wins which in the past, we have been concerned that as a staff.

In ’04, we were very concerned about that. This group is really hungry and they’re very knowledgeable. They’ve all been on teams that have lost games. In the past, our USA team has just won every tournament we went to. But, every one of our 12 players have lost in the last two years so I think that is going to keep us focused.

In the always a good read "Additional Quotes" section at USABasketball, some high praise for Big Syl from Diana:
She’s incredible really. We can talk about her physical attributes, we can talk about how amazing foot work she has, but more than anything she is a great person and I think that’s what’s going to make her one of the best centers to play in the United States and in the world. She’s willing to learn; she’s willing to take criticism and apply it to her game and a lot people that are as good as her don’t want to hear it, she’s open ears which is going to make her unstoppable.

The Miami Herald has more on Sylvia and her mom in China.

Arrittio Fowles, Sylvia's mother, rarely ventures far from Miami. She had never traveled abroad, so getting her to China was no small feat. First, there was the issue of the passport. She had lost her birth certificate, and the passport agency isn't forgiving about such things.

"She was about to give up, but I told her we had to keep trying because I really wanted her here," Fowles said. "She was a single mother who worked really hard to provide for us, and taught me to be humble and strong. She's not just my Mom, but my best friend. I was worried about her traveling all this way alone, though. I was sure she'd get lost and not make it through customs, but she did. I'm proud of her."

You may remember this profile of WNBA agent Lindsay Kagawa from earlier this year.

Now you can keep up with her clients (Seimone, Sylvia, Diana, Noelle and Candice W.) on a new blog.
Hal Habib at PalmBeachPost.com is at the Olympics and writes about Big Syl.

Two kids, one roof, one parent.

Two hoops, one basketball, one asphalt court.

Day after day, Big Brother would teach Little Sister about tough love on that court in Miami's Liberty City. About how it was too bad if you left a little flesh on the asphalt - you didn't shed tears over skinned knees.

Two kids became two adults.

Little sister Sylvia, 6-feet-6 and 200 pounds, became an Olympian. Big brother Morris became a murderer.

We mentioned the Lynette Woodard event in Houston a couple of times, and sure wish we could have attended. Jenny Dial from the Houston Chronicle did, as did a couple of current WNBA players.

Comets guards Roneeka Hodges and Matee Ajavon leaned over the wall at Barnett Fieldhouse, glancing down onto the basketball court where several of their childhood heroes gathered.

Hodges pointed out a couple of her favorites — Chamique Holdsclaw and Kym Hampton. Ajavon quickly spotted Cynthia Cooper-Dyke. Emerging stars in their own right, Hodges and Ajavon played the role of eager spectators Saturday for an exhibition game between Lynette Woodard’s Legends and the Houston Jaguars. The game was part of a weekend that celebrated women’s basketball in the Houston area.

Following the Olypmpains: First, from the Washington Times, "Lawson's all about passion." (nb to the author, Donovan doesn't select the players)
"This is the highest honor you can have as an athlete," said Lawson, who attended West Springfield High School before starring at Tennessee. "This is icing on the cake. I've been with USA Basketball since I was 17, and my goal has always been to make this team and play in the Olympics."

And from TwinCities.com: "Minnesota Lynx star Augustus satisfied with backup role on U.S. team."

A bench player she is not. But Augustus has embraced that role, as well as the U.S. women's basketball team's big-picture approach.

"The second five is just as good as the first five," Augustus said. "But we just want to make sure that we keep the tempo going and never let anything fall apart when we got on the court.

Team USA blows past the Czechs, Korea overcomes Brazil in overtime, China overcomes Spain, and Full Court reporter Lee Michaelson overcomes food poisoining: all in Michaelson's detailed report from Beijing.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Another Olympian with a basketball mom: American swimmer Katie Hoff, whose newsworthy mom Jeanne (nee Ruark) remains on the list of all-time greats at Stanford.
Next up for the US women: China.
Twenty-four hours after the Olympic Basketball Gymnasium turned into a madhouse while the U.S. men beat China 101-70, the U.S. women face the same opponent in what likely will be an equally raucous setting.

To say they were looking forward to the atmosphere is like saying four-time Olympian Lisa Leslie is a veteran.

"This place is going to be packed," guard Diana Taurasi said. "The crowd is going to be off the chain."
Game notes for the 8amEST game here.
WATN? pt. 2: The great Katrina McClain in back in Charleston.
Q: Basketball was a big part of your life for many years — what keeps you busy these days?

A: "Well, let's see. I've got three kids. That keeps me pretty busy, right there. But no, actually what I'm doing is establishing the Katrina McClain Foundation to help youths at risk because of illiteracy, teen pregnancy, drug abuse, just overall unhealthy lifestyles. We want to design programs to build self esteem, and promote education."
WATN? Michelle Greco has signed a two-year contract to return to Levoni Taranto of the Italian Women’s League, where she has played for the last two seasons.
Mechelle has been busy. First, she checks in with Becky:
Becky Hammon is busting her tail at the Olympic hoops tournament, enduring things like full-body checks from Latvians and talking to sports reporters unfamiliar with the concept of deodorant.
(OK, she didn't mention that second part, um, but trust me, it's true.)
Next, she notes that that other tall, skinny US center ain't half bad.
Fowles had 16 points and 14 rebounds Saturday in Team USA's 97-57 victory over the Czech Republic in its Olympics opener. Fowles, who suffered a sprained left knee in June and missed time with her Chicago Sky team, has looked good here in China.

"She did things tonight," U.S. coach Anne Donovan said. "She's working back from the injury, so in the last couple of weeks we've seen a tentative Sylvia in some cases. Tonight, that was all gone."

Saturday, August 09, 2008

And the race for gold is on....

It was an ugly start for the US v. the Czech Republic, but a time out and some subbing got the team on track and they rolled to a 97-57 victory.

Sylvia showed what she can do (7/9 and 14rbs), Kara provided a spark, Diana led all scorers (17pts), and the "subs" played a lot of minutes.

Anne Donovan from USABasketball's Additional Quotes:
Glad to get the first one under our belts. We definitely didn’t start off the way we wanted to. But everything, like Diana said, is not going to go your way, and things are going to happen and how you respond. We came out of the timeout and responded immediately, didn’t waste any time at all. At this stage of the game, I think we have 10 days in together, those kind of things really please the coach, to see that they’re still responsive, they’re making adjustments on the fly.
President Bush attended, as did the USA men's team (for the entire game).

SI.com on "Lessons learned from U.S.'s big win."
Jere (avec accent) returns! Writing about women's sports (basketball focus): Once Banned, Women Now Center Stage at Games.
Women were not allowed to participate at the 1896 Summer Games in Athens, the first Olympics of the modern era. They were expected to contribute applause, not athletic skill. Not until 1984 were women permitted to run the Olympic marathon, in reefer-madness fear that they might grow old too soon with such exertion; or worse, they might grow a mustache.

Or their uterus would fall out, as if it were a transmission.

Now, women have become must-see TV at the Olympics, as well as the target viewing audience for NBC.

Friday, August 08, 2008

The Flint Journal editorial board celebrates hometown girl Nolan.
Anyone want to buy a team with four championships on its resume? Call Hilton ASAP.
Dawn Staley carried the flag in the last Olympics. Now she's an Olympics coach.
Melissa at Off-Court wants less publicity for Candace Parker, and more applause for Vickie Johnson.
Not a hoops piece, but rather Olympic reporting with plenty of relevance to the debate over practice time, travel teams, and youthful intensity, in hoops and everywhere else: youth-sports blogger and author Mark Hyman on the very good example set by swim-mom Debbie Phelps.