Women's Hoops Blog: September 2008

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Now that my Lib kids have missed out on the Finals, I can fly to the U.A.E. relatively angst free and teach some other kids.

Feel free to follow along, if you'd like.

(And yes, I'm going with Steve, but it's a DIFFERENT Steve.)
Four questions with the NCAA's Sue Donohoe about the tourney site selection process and five minutes with Meghan Farley, winner of the "create a warm-up shirt for the W" contest.
Could we see the WNBA in Tennessee? (Hat tip, petrel.)
The Basket Cases still love Taj. Me too.
A bit more today on the effort to Save the Comets. There is, of course, a petition.
Sunday the Liberty fell apart in the fourth; last night they couldn't get going until after halftime, and their feisty comeback behind speed demon Leilani Mitchell wasn't enough.

Mitchell took over the game in the third quarter, but Loree Moore spent more time on the floor in the fourth, when Detroit reasserted their defensive prowess, and the Liberty stopped penetrating: some Lib fans want to know why. On the other hand, whose defense would you prefer-- Mitchell's or Moore's-- at the end of a close, athletic game?

If I had to name one clearly terrible decision made in last night's game, it wouldn't be Patty Coyle's or Bill Laimbeer's: it would be ESPN's decision to keep affixing a microphone to Bill, which is apparently a covert full-employment scheme for the operators of seven-second delays. (Justine feels even more strongly than I do-- of course, she's been a Lib fan for a long time.)

Leilani and the always-eager McCarville combined for 35 points, but Nolan and Taj together tallied 40. Voepel (and everyone else) says we can credit Taj for much of the Shock's success.

San Antonio will play three (of a possible five) finals games at home; Corwin, after analyzing the Western Conference title game at length, says the SASS will need to win all three. I'm not holding my breath: San Antonio did beat Detroit twice in the regular season, but those matchups had Lawson-Wade and Darling both healthy-- and one of them had Detroit without Ford or Taj.

I'm going to have some trouble focusing, frankly, on a Detroit vs. San Antonio series-- and I bet Secaucus is mighty displeased. On the other hand, Taj and VJ are worthy veterans with terrific work ethics, and they seem to enjoy their new teams: both have now won sportsmanship awards. It's cool that one of the two will end up with a ring.

Minor irony you'll likely hear about on-air: Taj's husband and children now live in San Antonio.

Monday, September 29, 2008

1. After leading for most of the game, the Liberty turned in one of the most dispiriting fourth quarters of playoff basketball I've ever seen: in Ypsilanti, the Detroit Shock prevailed. Game three will take place at the same arena tonight.

Freep journo Chris Lau credits Pierson's painful return, taped-up shoulder and all, for the Shock's late comeback, but to me it looked like a team effort. The Shock went on a 15-3 run; the Liberty scored just 9 points in the final frame.

2. Whatever New York pulls out of its hat tonight, there won't be an LA vs. NYC final: the Silver Stars Hammon Hammon and Young took care of the Sparks.

L.A. led for much of the second half behind far superior rebounding, and Candace Parker showed off plenty of moves. But Leslie spent most of that half in foul trouble, and Hammon and friends figured out just in time-- as in, during the final minute-- how to get open and find good looks off screens. In a game with eighteen lead changes overall, Becky scored on the last three possessions, with a trey and four free throws, to put her team ahead.

Becky's 35 points set a new Silver Stars record. The South Dakotan guard spread the credit around: "We always think we have a chance,” she said. “When you have belief like that in your teammates and yourself, you can put yourself in positions that seem impossible to overcome, and you overcome."

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Another article on athletes and social networking sites: Athletes, Internet can stir problems: Colleges fret over risky content on social network sites.
Sometime in the near future, Brad Salem expects to get that phone call with the bad news.

Not to inform the Augustana football coach that one of his players has been hurt in an accident or arrested.

No, Salem assumes that he'll be notified of compromising photos of one of his players on the Internet.
How to help young fans handle it when their team loses?
Some people in San Antonio yesterday probably didn't like how the game ended: many sportswriters hate surprise endings (because they have to scrap their earlier drafts), and league execs (in any league) almost always want to see a championship series that sets L.A. vs. New York.

Everybody else went home stunned and delirious after one of the strangest second halves in the history of the WNBA playoffs. San Antonio controlled the third quarter, running out to a 14-point lead on L.A.

The Sparks then woke up and shut the home team down: the Olympians controlled the block, Temeka Johnson ran everybody else ragged, and the purple and gold folks led 64-60 with under a minute to play.

Then things got suspenseful. Buescher set Hammon up for a trey from the corner. In a scrum for a rebound, Milton-Jones fouled Sophia Young, who connected on both free throws. TJ missed a jump shot, but Milton-Jones redeemed herself with a putback on the final L.A. possession, with just 1.4 seconds to go: LA 66, SASS 65! The Sparks advance!

Except... a timeout shunts the ball to the Stars' frontcourt. VJ inbounds to Sophia Young, who gets off a final shot... it's in the air-- it bounces up off the back of the rim-- and it's in! The Silver Stars win, 67-66; teammates pile on Young in delight and surprise.

"Coach said to just turn around and just shoot it," Young explained afterwards, "and that’s what I did. I was on the floor, and I saw it go in and I did a back flip. I didn’t know I could do a back flip. I was just shaking. I can’t believe we won." (Video here.)

Corwin thinks Cooper made bad lineup decisions for those last few plays. Silver Stars fans want to see New York, not Detroit, if their SASS indeed gets past L.A.

Voepel says Young's last-second success is second only to T-Spoon's miracle trey from 1999. That seems about right-- though for Young's shot to gather the same kind of long-term legend, her Stars may have to win game three today.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Eric Musselman, former head coach of the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings, has a blog post titled: Execution, court-awareness hallmarks of the women's game.
Watching the LA-San Antonio WNBA conference final game this afternoon. Every time I watch women's game I'm impressed by how fundamentally sound the players are.
Detroit looked pretty good for the first half, but the Lib kept the pace slow and the score low; when the fourth quarter rolled in, New York took charge. The result: a Lib win, and a close, exciting, well-played game before a very big crowd.

The cameras loved the celebrities in that crowd-- Robin Roberts, coach Stringer, a handful of Knicks. The Liberty loyalists loved Janel McCarville (17 points, a couple of cool reverse layups, and a lot of work down low) and Shameka Christon (a double-double); they also loved Erin Thorn, who came off the bench for the first time in the final minute, presumably for her free-throw shooting, and then stunned everybody-- she sure shocked the Shock-- with a driving layup that sealed the deal.

As exciting as the ending was, for most of the night we were watching defense. "It was a physical game," Janel said afterwards, "and I don't think we're a team to shy away from that."

Lib fans also remember last year's series, decided by one point, in Detroit, in game three. The Shock have a history of snapping back to attention after unfocused games, and they might play better at home-- but they're not going, precisely, home: Sunday's game will take place in Ypsilanti, since the Palace was already booked. Take away Deanna Nolan's familiar sightlines, and you might just reduce-- by a smidgen-- the chance that she'll shoot the lights out late in the game.
More about what's going on between SMU and former player Jennifer Colli: Ex-player alleges SMU coach challenged her sex life
The former SMU player is suing the school and head coach Rhonda Rompola for revoking her scholarship after Colli complained to the athletic director about what Colli said she considered to be inappropriate questions and comments regarding her sex life and other gay relationships on the team.

"We're alleging that they are retaliating against her," Michael Kelly, one of Colli's attorneys, said in an interview.
Pat Griffin blogs about SMU, saying that, whatever the facts of the case may be...
The tragic part of this lawsuit is that it will be read by some schools as justification for avoiding lesbians coaches and athletes or going on a witch hunt against lesbian coaches and athletes as a way to prevent being caught in the legal and public relations nightmare into which SMU is now descending. Ironically, many of these same schools continue to hire, recruit and defend male coaches and athletes who are charged with rape, drug offenses, other felonies as well as NCAA violations as long as they are contributing to the win column. While these offenses are tolerated, all a lesbian coach or athlete needs to do is get caught being who she is and having the nerve to demand respect and fairness.

It would make so much more sense to educate athletic staff about effective, fair policies that are not based on discrimination or fear. I invite readers to check out resources we have on the It Takes A Team web site that address these issues and provide policies recommendations for athletic administrators and coaches.
It still stuns me that so many universities, public school systems and summer leagues don have such policies in place.
Remember, "Scary, Isn't She?"

Well, be afraid. Be VERY afraid, cause she's baaaaack on the court: Jaime Nared will be playing with the boys again. (and, how can you not get a kick out of the fact that the article's on the Nickelodeon site??!!)
The choices that are made by sports editors can be fascinating. For instance, the decision by the LA Times to publish a poorly written piece by a big ole poophead, and then to publish not one, but three pieces in response to the original is... well, I don't really get it, but I'm intrigued.

The latest salvo adds some analysis and numbers to the unpicking of Rohlin's piece de poop, and offers delightful, "tsk, tsk" to the Times:
The column writer stated that the WNBA is “virtually absent from the media,” and in this she is not entirely wrong. Coverage of the league in the L.A. Times is usually relegated to small articles on the bottoms of pages buried far back inside the sports section. [which made Helen ask, what happened to Mike Terry? He loved the game!]

But the San Antonio Express-News has its own page for the Silver Stars; the Seattle Times assigns a reporter to travel with the Storm and cover games, and she also writes a daily blog about the team. The Sacramento Bee, the Hartford Courant, the New York Daily News and New York Post, among other newspapers, also regularly cover their respective WNBA teams. Nationally, WNBA coverage can be found often in USA Today, the New York Times, and the Washington Post.
Just to say, once again, if you don't speak up, the kind of the coverage of women's basketball gets will. not. change. As the arena song says, "Let's get loud!"

Read the LA Times stuff and respond:

If you want more tips on supporting and developing good media coverage of women's basketball, check out Kim's Media Tips.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Colorado has lost Whitney Houston to an ACL.
If can figure out what on earth is going on at SMU, drop me a line will ya? Sounds like a big ole mess of unpleasantness.
The Sparks may want to move all of their home games to the Galen Center. Playing on the campus where she played her college ball back in the early 1990s, Lisa Leslie lead her team over the Silver Stars 85-70. Leslie had a game high 22 points and her team looked as good as they have all season.

The much maligned L.A. back court also came up big as Marie Ferdinand-Harris and Temeka Johnson each added 14 points. As Voepel writes, "So perhaps Temeka Johnson and Marie Ferdinand-Harris just decided Thursday, "All right, enough is enough. You know, we're actually pretty good."
It's not just DT who thinks (rather eloquently) that Ms. Rohlin is a big ole poophead. Today in the LA Times: Palisades shows support for Taurasi and WNBA
A short time ago, I noticed about a half-dozen high school-aged girls speaking with Sparks owners Kathy Goodman and Carla Christofferson. The girls were wearing Palisades High basketball warmups.

Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi wasn't kidding. She really did pay for Palisades to attend the game.

One of the girls said that they were here in support of the WNBA, in response to a freelance article published on latimes.com last week.
The Yankees aren't going to the playoffs, the Mets are doing and in-out-in teeter, and the Liberty are in the second round. Looks like that means Joshua Robinson is now the NYTimes' Lib beat writer, and this morning he has a piece on a "Wise Old Veteran at 26."
Christon, a 6-foot-1 small forward, has not hesitated putting up a shot since she began playing basketball at 14 in her hometown, Hot Springs, Ark. At the time though, her confidence did her little good. Shot after shot would go wide, fall short, bounce off the rim, dropping anywhere but through the net. The only thing that kept her going was her desire to prove two people wrong: her middle school coach and her mother.

“ ‘You’re tall, but you’re just raw meat and you’ll never make it as a basketball player,’ ” Christon remembered her coach telling her. “And then my mom told me, ‘If you can’t handle it, if you can’t take it, then it’s really not for you.’ ”

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Well rats -- a good one has had to retire: Janice Quinn of NYU has stepped down because of an arrhthymia-related condition.
Over at the Title IX blog:
"The Title IX Blame Game Should End"...said Marj Snyder of the Women's Sports Foundation to the Wall Street Journal in an article about the Foundation's new study on college sport participation.

Consistent with prior studies (e.g.), the WSF report concludes that both men's and women's participation has increased in the last 25 years, which itself should neutralize criticism that Title IX hurts men.
And from Marie's blog:
The Wall Street Journal, in an article headlined, "Maybe Women's Sports Don't Hurt NCAA Men," relayed the results of a Women's Sports Foundation study demonstrating that Title IX is not to blame for cuts in men's collegiate sports. Instead, skyrocketing expenditures on men's revenue sports such as football and basketball often lead administrators to cut men's Olympic-style sports such as wrestling.

Our research shows that the Title-IX-as-culprit myth has gone unchallenged in media coverage over the years (The Gender War in U.S. Sport: Winners and Losers in News Coverage of Title IX ), and that many reporters also believe the myth (Marie article) -- so it's nice to see this latest WSF research getting some attention. Of course, the report has already been attacked by the College Sports Council and others opposed to Title IX.
Diana responds to Melissa Rohlin's recent piece in the L.A. Times.

(Thanks sparkfan33).
I've written before about the art of officiating, the training of officials, and the relationship between coaches and officials and its impact on the recruitment of new officials.

Today's New York Times takes a peek at broadcasters and officiating in Broadcasters Get a View of the Referee’s Life .

Oh, to be an N.B.A. referee. Your judgments are questioned, players and coaches scream at you, fans think the worst of you, sports radio hosts fillet you, and know-it-all broadcasters foment negativity with misguided opinions.

“Sometimes when you listen to the announcers,” said Joe Borgia, the league’s vice president for referee operations, “the perception becomes reality, and what they say, because they’re perceived as experts, hurts the credibility of officials.”

One quote I found interesting:
"Craig Bolerjack, who is in his fourth season as the television voice of the Jazz,
said he was happy to watch the N.B.A. open up about its referee review process."

Maybe it's just the NBA, but when I've approached officials and thier supervisors with respect and a true desire to learn, they've been more than open. All you have to do is ask.
From the Des Moines Register: Rural schools in quest for refs.

Securing referees for athletic events is becoming more of a challenge for Iowa's smaller high schools.The number of officials who work boys' and girls' events in all sports is approaching an all-time high in Iowa, but the increase is found in the most populated areas.

Shortages exist in pockets of rural areas.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

From the WBCA site, women's basketball has lost a good friend: Hunter Low, often termed as the "Father of the Kodak/WBCA All-America Team", passed away on September 18, 2008, at age 75.

“What a sad day for the world of women’s basketball to lose such a strong advocate in Hunter Low,” said WBCA President Sherri Coale, head women’s basketball coach at Oklahoma. “He was a pioneer and true trailblazer for our sport. I hope that we will continue to follow his footsteps and build on the tradition that he leaves behind.”

Low worked behind the scenes years before the Kodak All-America Team began in 1975. In the early 1970's, he began his involvement in women's basketball with coaching clinics sponsored by Kodak. He was responsible for arranging an international basketball game between the USA Olympic Team and the People's Republic of China Olympic Team in Rochester, N.Y., in 1975. Low also made arrangements for the U.S. Olympic women's basketball team to train in Rochester, N.Y., prior to the 1976 Olympic games in Montreal.

You may recall a previous blog post about Kodak's early support of the women's game.
Something brought to my attention by Kris at the HRR blog:

The Board of Directors of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association(WBCA) has joined the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) in recognizing the importance of affirmative action programs in expanding opportunities for underrepresented minorities and women in university admissions and employment.

Both the WBCA and the NABC Board of Directors firmly oppose the deceptively-titled "Civil Rights Initiatives" currently being proposed in Arizona, Colorado and Nebraska that if enacted, would threaten access programs in those states.

Real suspense at KeyArena last night, where the Storm-- even with Lauren Jackson in street clothes-- cut a huge deficit down to three points with under a minute to go.

Despite all the cheers from their home crowd, though, Seattle couldn't get ahead: the Sparks will advance to the Western Conference finals against the Silver Stars. L.A.'s bench outscored the Storm's bench 22 to 2.

Kevin has postmortem comments up and running, and a version of the final minute that TV viewers can confirm: from the televised version of the final huddle, it was clear (and Sue Bird confirmed) that Agler wanted one foul (to put L.A. into the bonus), but not two (to send L.A. to the line). If, indeed, the refs blew the whistle in erroneous anticipation of an intentional foul, then the refs arguably cost Seattle the game.
No suspense in Detroit last night: even without Plenette, the Shock crushed the Fever. Detroit will advance to the finals against the Lib, who nearly knocked them out last time around.

Even amid the lopsided win, Bill found something to get upset about: he's mad that the league upgraded Ebony Hoffman's hit on Pierson to a flagrant 2, which meant a fine for Hoffman but no suspension.

"We had to call the league and say, 'What are you talking about? Our player is severely injured,'" coach Laimbeer said. "They made us prove it by having our doctor call the league and say, 'Yes, she has a torn labrum. She will not play.'"
Milton Kent, until recently the women's hoops writer at the Baltimore Sun, has a new sports blog.

His latest post asks why Erik Kuselias, an ESPN radio and TV host who has said extraordinarily ugly things about the WNBA, would show up in-studio as a commentator on last night's ESPN2 WNBA broadcast.

It's a good question. Did ESPN's schedulers know what Kuselias said on his radio program? Perhaps not.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Almost everyone thought that San Antonio would get past Sacramento; few people thought the top-seeded Stars would need three games and one overtime to do it. But they did: after trailing all night in SA, the Monarchs caught up and forced OT.

The home team then reasserted themselves at the free throw line, where they ended up an impressive 31-34; Young and Wauters alone shot 18-21 from the stripe, and won the overtime one point at a time.

"Sophia put us on her back," said Becky Hammon. "She's going to need a rubdown later." Voepel says we shouldn't overlook the often-overlooked Edwige Lawson-Wade, the French guard who did a fine job leading her SASS last night.

Sacramento players, and fans, are disappointed, but not too disappointed, given the low expectations around them this year. Coach Boucek calls the season "a success," adding: "We did everything we could."

If you're the Stars, would you rather see Seattle next, in a series where you'll have home advantage (especially important against the Storm), but in which LJ might return to the court? Or would you rather face the two-headed monster of Leslie and Parker, with their one-on-one skills, their phalanx of gasping reporters, and their sometimes sketchy backcourt?
The Sun couldn't quite win game three at the casino: the scrappy Lib-kids will advance.

New York led a low-scoring game almost all the way, though Connecticut tied things up with minutes to go. The star of the show turned out to be Essence Carson, who played Scarlet Knight basketball all the way-- intense defense, lots of time taken off the clock, and then a killer three from the corner, which gave the Lib their final lead.

Carson finished with 15, Whalen with a game-high 19... but Lindsay's teammates just couldn't get shots to fall. "All we had to do was be the same as we were Saturday," coach Thibault said, "and we would have won."

Instead, New York will enter their first conference finals since 2004... and they might not even have to play Detroit.

Monday, September 22, 2008

From Mel's blog: the Mystics have fired GM Linda Hargrove.
More on "Miss Mary."

Three from the Winston-Salem Journal: Everybody has a 'Mary story', The Best of Friends: Mary Garber, Krzyzewski, Knight formed an unusual friendship. Mary Garber stood very tall in a man's world.
The newspaper roster generously listed Mary Garber as 5 feet tall, yet she was the tallest person in almost every room.Mary, who died yesterday at 92, towered over human prejudice and human smallness.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Clarence "Big House" Gaines, who coached basketball for 47 years at Winston Salem State University before being named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, met Garber soon after he was hired as coach in 1946 and eventually they became friends.

"Nobody cared much about black players 40 years ago," Gaines told Sports Illustrated in 2000, five years before he died. "But Miss Mary covered a lot of things that weren't too popular. She went out of her way to see that everybody got a fair shake."
From the Washington Post (scroll past the Ryder Cup stuff)
It would not be right for me or anyone else in the sportswriting business to not pause for a moment to pay tribute to Mary Garber, who passed away yesterday at the age of 92.

To call Mary a pioneer is an understatement. She began writing for the sports pages of The Winston-Salem Journal during World War II because, as she would tell people later, there weren't enough men around to cover everything. She continued to write sports for the Journal until 2002. For years, she wasn't even allowed to sit in the press box while covering games -- she sat in the stands, often with the wives or relatives of the athletes she was covering. She never complained about anything, just did her job, wrote wonderfully and helped out countless young reporters, male and female, along the way.
And from the News-Record Hardin: Garber's influence touched all of us, and from the New York Times:
As Ms. Garber gained acceptance, she looked at her pioneering with some amusement. She told Ms. Gentry about the times when black sportswriters began to be hired. She was working at “one of the games that one of the first black writers came to — he was from the Durham paper — and he and I sat next to each other.”

“And I was feeling pretty sure of myself by that time,” she added. “So when he came in and sat down, I reached over and poked him and I said, ‘Welcome, fellow minority.’ And he laughed.”
We covered this a few weeks ago, but it seems to have come back into the news: John McCain's running mate benefited from Title IX, but John McCain himself seems not to understand how Title IX works, or what it does.
All the first-round series will continue to game three-- and one of them may turn on a new injury:

1. Indiana led the whole way in Detroit until a last-play three from Tweety forced OT.

It was the kind of game we've seen Detroit win before-- lackluster effort until it really counts, then superior athletes who take over and rule the paint for the extra frame-- and even the commentators seemed to expect the Shock to finish things off, especially since Catch and Sutton-Brown had five fouls.

It didn't happen. The Fever kept their heads, regained control and forced a game three behind timely long-distance shots from Ebony Hoffman (whose range surely helped her win the Most Improved crown) and Tully Bevilacqua.

The Fever got the kind of game they've liked in years past, with lots of trips to the line. At the end, they looked like a team, with at least three players on the floor together (Tully, Catch, Douglas) who knew where their teammates were at all times. (Tully's stats continue to puzzle me: how can you shoot almost 35% from downtown, and only 60% from the line?)

In even worse news for Shock fans, Plenette Pierson took a serious blow to the shoulder after a tangle with Hoffman (Voepel says Pierson was the victim this time): PP left the game, showed up in the sidelines on a sling, and might miss game three Tuesday night.

2. Seattle cleaned up in KeyArena, easily beating L.A. with serious defense. Swoopes, who started, looked great (16 points, and four steals): "This is one of the games I've wanted to have all year," she said.

The Sparks scored just fifteen points before halftime, though they managed a late comeback around transition offense and broken plays. But the visitors never got closer than seven; Leslie looked quite frustrated all night.

Sue Bird (who took yet another blow to the schnozz): "I know it's not as high scoring as ESPN would have liked, but for us that means we are going to win, so it's a good thing." (Remember when Seattle was all offense, all the time?)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sad news from Mel Greenberg: Mary Garber, one of the United States' first women sportswriters, has died at the age of 92.

You can read a profile over at the Women's Sports Foundation, and I'm sure we'll get more insight from Mel, but here are some of Garber's career highlights:
She sounds like a woman I would have enjoyed sitting down to dinner with:
The Winston-Salem Journal reported Sunday that a minister was making the rounds at the Brookridge Retirement Village where Garber was a resident, and he asked what she had in mind for a spiritual reward in heaven.

"Football season," she said.
I bet that VaTech field goal that cost North Carolina a victory on Saturday drove her crazy....
Things they REALLY do right: It's a New York Liberty Thriller.
The games last night inspired some looks back:
Ticha Penicheiro

Vickie Johnson

Lindsay Whalen

Shameka Christon
The Sun live another day as the Liberty fell short in their comeback 73-70.

Unlike game one, it was the Sun who started out strong. The Sun benefitted from a roster change that had Svetlana Abrosimova in the starting line up, a more aggressive Lindsay Whalen and a more up tempo offense.

They led by as many as 15, until the Liberty connected on five 3 pointers to cut the deficit to 71-70. "I guess we didn't like prosperity," Mike Thibault said. "It was a heck of a win. But it ended up being a lot tougher than it had to be."

“It’s a win. In the playoffs, it don’t matter,” Barbara Turner said. “But we made this game a lot more difficult than it should have been. We had it at a point where we really could have opened the game up and won by 15 or 20 points. But New York is relentless and they have players who can step up and make big shots. And they did it, but more importantly, we got the loose balls and did the little things we needed to do to win.”

"We did everything we had to do,” said Loree Moore. “We put ourselves in a position twice to turn it around, tie the game and go ahead.” The Liberty hope this is not a repeat of last season against the Shock. "I guarantee Monday night we will be a different team," Pat Coyle said.

Connecticut columnists Jeff Jacobs and Mike DiMauro have more on the winner of the Coach of the Year.
It was a rout in San Antonio last night, but perhaps not in the way you think. The Monarchs broke open a close game in the second quarter and never looked back in a 84-67 win.

Ticha Penicheiro continued her impressive play with 12 points, 9 assists and 5 rebounds. Rookie Crystal Kelly had a game high and career high 19 points and the Monarchs shot 59% from the floor. "Our biggest culprit was defense,” Dan Hughes said. “They scored 48 points in the first half and they set the stage with that.”

The Monarchs also believe defense is key. "Our defense was solid now for six quarters in a row," Jenny Boucek said. "We feed off that, we get our confidence and that feeds what we do."

Saturday, September 20, 2008

From the Long Beach, CA Press-Telegram: 35 Most Memorable Moments in Women's Sports over the last 35 years
In conjunction with the 35th anniversary of Billie Jean King beating Bobby Riggs, the Women's Sports Foundation put together a list of the "35 Most Memorable Moments in Women's Sports" over the last 35 years.
It's hard enough to convince sports editors to cover the WNBA, so it gets one's attention when they spend the money and space on people like Melissa Rohlin, "Special to The LA Times."

Honestly, I have no desire to publish a direct link to her "commentary," "Why this woman is a fan of basketball, but not the WNBA." But I do agree that if writing like this is not called out, it simply gets regurgitated -- in the fullest sense of the word.

Check out Ms. Rohlin and the rebkellian response to her piece and, if you feel inspired and want to encourage quality coverage of the W, drop sports editor Randy Harvey a note: sports@latimes.com. I kinda liked Carol Anne's:
I've been a fervent fan of women's basketball, both college and professional, for more than 20 years. In that time, I've read hundreds of articles and columns about the sport.

Melissa Rohlin's opinion piece, "Why this woman is a fan of basketball, but not the WNBA," is among the worst I've ever encountered. Full of prejudice--the paragraph basically endorsing homophobic attitudes is appalling--and empty of evidence, beyond her personal opinion. Oh, I'm wrong: she spoke to two high school players--who split 50/50 about the league.

Lack of media coverage comparable to the NBA's doesn't make women's basketball inferior. If people don't know when WNBA games are, the mainstream media is partly to blame.
Book Alert: From the Sept. 1, 2008 issue of Kirkus Reviews: "FULL-COURT QUEST - The Girls from Fort Shaw Indian School: Basketball Champions of the World."
The authors painstakingly trace the backgrounds of the various players, showing how many came from broken homes to cohere as a team both on the court and when put on display as exemplars of the federal government's educational aim to "kill the Indian [to] save the man." Particularly in St. Louis, where the girls resided and performed for five months as living exhibits at the fair's Model Indian School, which attracted some 30,000 visitors a day, they constantly straddled the difficult divide between defying and meeting the expectations of others.

Meticulous, moving account of how basketball helped shape the lives of ten American Indian women at the dawn of the 20th century.
On the 35th anniversary of the "Battle of the Sexes," Selena Roberts weighs in. And she's looking at you, Candace Parker!
Val Whiting has another piece for Delaware at Play: "Born determined, 12-year-old reaches for top."
Rachel Wedgewood is not the tallest, fastest or most dominant player on the basketball court. But, her heart and work ethic go far beyond her 12 years. If Rachel's life were a basketball game, she would have started down by 20 points with two minutes to go.

Rachel was born 16 weeks premature, weighing in at 1 pound, 6 ounces. She was hospitalized for the first eight months of her life.

Yet she persevered.
Full Court's Connecticut-based correspondent Jim Clark says the Sun might win tonight, but probably won't beat the Liberty twice, home court advantage notwithstanding. Now if Lindsay Whalen were entirely healthy... she looked so good for most of the regular season... hey, is there some sort of echo in here?
No surprises in last night's first-round games:

1. In L.A., the Sparks took care of the Storm; L.A. led 18-5 early, and got help from the bench when Seattle woke up after halftime. Sue Bird scored 23.

The win had coach Cooper warning against overconfidence: "All we've done is start," he said. "We haven't won anything and we haven't done anything."

With LJ gone, the Sparks remain serious favorites, despite their lower seed: on the other hand, the Storm have always looked much better home than on the road. Jayda considers the KeyArena draw, and the league's finances, as the fall rolls on.

2. In Indiana, the Shock prevailed: Tweety and Taj combined for 39 points, though Catch and Hoffman together scored 38.

"We know we can count on each other," enthused coach Laimbeer. The Fever's coach Dunn sounded almost resigned: "This is a tough way to start the playoffs." Yep.
Clay takes his playoff predictions to NPR-- and reminds folks who picked Detroit that last year the Shock needed overtime just to get to the conference finals.
This feels right on so many levels: Vickie Johnson has earned this year's Kim Perrot Sportmanship Award.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Some end 'o the year awards are dribbling out: Coach of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved.
New York looked focused and ready from the start ("We've waited for this moment all year," said Pat Coyle). A strong first quarter along with a deep and balanced team attack were enough for the Liberty to down the Sun 72-63.

With the exception of too many turnovers, the Liberty were successful with their game plan. Shameka Christon had a game high 19 points and was 4-5 from behind the arc. Cathrine Kraayeveld had a double double and Janel McCarville was solid in her first extended action since hurting her back.

For the Sun, it was their slow start that their coach and players are most disappointed with. They did make a run in the third quarter, but the Liberty had an answer. ”There are corrections we need to make,” Tamika Whitmore said. “Our coaches know what they are and we know what they are. Other than that, we have to sweep it under the rug and move on to the next game.” The Day's Mike DiMauro has his take on the Sun and the game, as does Jeff Jacobs of the Courant.

And in case you missed it, WNBA.com's Adam Hirshfield blogged live from the game.
Hammonites around the world must be feeling great. Becky Hammon poured in 30 points as her Silver Stars moved a step closer to the Western Conference finals for the second year in a row.

While San Antonio shot an impressive 60% from the floor and even better from that from three point range, Sacramento did not go down quietly. The Monarchs trailed by as many as 22 points early in the third quarter before they staged their comeback behind a determined Ticha Penicheiro.

The PG, who turned 34 yesterday, was as Ailene Voisin writes, "a delight to watch even in defeat." And her coach agrees. "Incredible," Jenny Boucek said. "Conventional wisdom says you can't get better (at age 34), but Ticha has."

With Rebekkah Brunson out for the season, DeMya Walker still coming back from her injury and the Silver Stars playing as well as they are, not many people will be picking the Monarchs. But that does not mean Sacramento will go down without a fight. "We still believe," Boucek said. "You just keep fighting, possession after possession. You never know what could happen."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thoughtful previews from Pelton, and history lessons too.

On the East: "Indiana's defense is good enough to neutralize Detroit's offense, but the matchup at the other end of the floor is one-sided"-- and: "If Whalen can get past Moore and into a help defense that does not excel at shot blocking, the Liberty is in big trouble."
The Sacbee's Ailene Voisin says Jenny got what she deserved: A contract extension.
"Like we grow as players, she has grown as a coach," said Penicheiro, the longest-tenured Monarch. "I think she has done a phenomenal job. She's the type of coach everyone wants to play for because she just wants you to play free and she works with what you do best."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Diana Taurasi, Candace Parker and Lindsay Whalen earn 2008 Peak Performer honors.
'cause even late, it's never too late to talk about Kay Yow. In "Hoops coaches, LPGA stars unite in fight against cancer," Mechelle writes a nice, long piece on the most recent fundraising event:
It all came together very quickly for such an undertaking -- having been conceived only in April -- and it's a further testament to Yow that so many folks cleared their calendars for Sept. 7-8. College coaches are always "someplace important" or need to be "someplace else soon" seemingly 24 hours a day as the school year begins.

But as Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson said of Yow, "There aren't many people in our lives you just never say 'no' to. But Kay Yow is one of them."
Candace Parker propels the W playoffs into the New York Times, whose preview also notes the league's good business news and-- oh yeah-- the hometown team.
USA Today writes: Marketers alter their pitches with more females tuning in.

Seems there are a series of articles of interest at the U:
Female athletes break barriers; front office progress slower.

In sports announcing, women are left on sidelines.

And, since Sept 20th is the 35th anniversary of King v. Riggs, King's win: Net gain for women.
Basketball fans will have the chance to own game jerseys worn by each player from the 2008 USA Basketball men’s and women’s gold medal teams including Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Lisa Leslie, and Candace Parker. This is the first time game-worn jerseys from USA Basketball will be auctioned off.

Go bid here.
Suddenly it's time for the Paralympics Closing Ceremonies, and "other stuff" has prevented me from posting news about the US women's paralympic basketball team.

Congrats to the women who defended their Athens gold, beating Germany, 50-38. Sounds like the team's been sitting in some Anne Donovan meetings:

“We’re known for our good chair skills,” said captain Patty Cisneros, who like the rest of the first unit played sparingly after the first quarter, as the second (and press-oriented) lineup was thriving.

“We didn’t shoot that well in the tournament,” she said. “This is definitely a tournament that showcased our defense.”

You can catch up on the final games here, and some great photos here.
Bob Corwin: can the Monarchs upset the Stars?
Matt Stout is all over the Sun-Liberty match-up and talks to players from both teams for their take.
Goody is back and previews the playoffs.
The Olympian's Brendan Funtek gives an enthusiastic endorsement of the playoff bound Storm.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Still looking for a complete first-round playoff schedule, with tipoff times and TV info? The league has it here (you'll have to scroll down a bit).

Among the game ones and game twos, just three will be on ESPN2 (the rest land on local broadcasts and on NBATV); if all the series go to three games, three out of four of those will make ESPN2.
Minnesota Public Radio chats with Nicky Anosike. (Hat tip, ulynxfan.)
Good news all around, I guess: the WNBA's new press release says attendance, TV ratings, Web page views, and merch sales are all way up compared to a year ago.

Especially notable: merchandise sales, up 36%. How much of that is Candace Parkerabilia?

UPDATE: Reuters runs its own story about the good news.
Tim Leighton of the Pioneer Press offers his assessment of the Lynx season.

Peter also gives his take on the team and season.
Voepel picks San Antonio and Detroit to meet in the finals, then has kind words or jokes about every playoff-bound team. (Check out her quips about Janel and Liberty fans.)
Good news for Comets fans: Tina Thompson and company closed out their season with a fine win over the playoff-bound Monarchs. Thompson herself scored 31. The game took place last night in San Marcos, Texas, after the reg-season was supposed to conclude, having been rescheduled from this weekend, when Hurricane Ike upended everything in Houston: some Comets still don't know what's happened to their homes.

Bad news for Comets fans: Houston still won't make the playoffs-- and it's still unclear whether, next year, they'll have a team.

Monday, September 15, 2008

From Q: what can you do with a problem like the Mystics?

Still-GM Linda Hargove addresses the problems, or maybe doesn't address them at all: "This wasn't a year I started feeling great," she now says. "I think we've all been frustrated."

WaPo's Katie Carrera points out that whoever runs the team next year will have five picks in one draft, and two in the first round.

The Basket Cases adopt an apposite slogan, though they might note that the slogan itself has recently morphed into something more urgent: CHANGE WE NEED.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Comets are now up for sale, with a new chief exec in to handle the handoff, if there is one.

Earlier this week at Off-Court, Melissa expressed outrage at the idea that the Comets-- who won the first four WNBA titles-- might ever leave the city of their birth.

Melissa points out that Seattle fans formed a big lobby to keep their teams in town, that a group of locals ultimately bought the Storm, and that the Green Bay Packers are owned by a nonprofit entity with local shareholders, a structure designed to keep them from ever leaving town. Why can't Houston fans put something like that together for Tina Thompson's team?

But as pilight pointed out during the threat to Seattle, no major sports leagues now permit new community ownership of the kind that Green Bay has. Save Our Storm were great, but the team was ultimately purchased by four admirable local businesswomen, not by thousands or even hundreds of fans.

The WNBA's business model-- and the NBA's, for that matter-- virtually requires owners willing to lose a great deal of cash (a lot, lot more in the NBA) in a bad year. In the NBA they can always make the money back if they sell the team; in the W, they can simply afford to lose the relevant amounts of cash, year after year, and they stick around because they want to be there. That's why Michael Alter and Ron Terwilliger and Sheila Johnson seem to be good owners.

It's also why community ownership and community activism might not be the solution to the Comets' problems, as admirable (and effective, in Seattle) as community organizing can be. And it's why you can expect to see Donna and company keep seeking potential buyers outside the Gulf Coast-- in Dallas, or in Albuquerque or Denver-- as long as no wealthy-enough Houstonian steps up.

I'd love to see the Comets stay in Houston-- but I'd rather see them move than see them fold.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

With playoff positions already determined, and some teams resting lightly injured starters, yesterday and today feel more like the preseason than like the end of the regular menu.

They're also days when it's harder than usual for some of us to follow hoops: the thing with the round ball and baskets is still a welcome distraction from this, but there are no distractions when you live in the path of a hurricane, and the advance of Ike quite rightly called off the Comets' home game.

Three games did happen last night, though, and here are results:

1. Seattle sat its entire starting lineup and beat the Dream at Key Arena anyway. Betty Lennox got hurt early, making her return to the town where she won a title even more emotional than it would have been anyway: "I don't think I'm ready to play," she said before the game. "I'm ready to come out and cry."

Storm fans are still worried about Swoopes' concussion. She may or may not travel to L.A. today.

2. Playoff-bound New York defeated lottery-bound Chicago: Q, who watched the game, says the Sky really ought to be good very soon.

Last night the Lib wouldn't let them. Shameka Christon had a terrific game; McCarville didn't show up. (Neither did the Sun-Times, which, depressingly, ran the AP story for a home game.) It looks like Janel will be ready to go for the playoffs, though she might not be 100%.

3. Lottery-bound Phoenix (2007 seems so far away) defeated the lottery-bound Lynx in Minnesota; neither Augustus nor Wiggins took the floor-- the former has a concussion, the latter a meniscus tear. Candice will likely have surgery this fall.

Said Lynx coach Z about their injuries: "Both Seimone and Candice would fight to play in our last two games if we were still in the hunt."

Said Minnesota fans, once again: wait till next year.

Friday, September 12, 2008

1. The Stars came back late to clinch top seed, not only in the West but in the finals (if they get there). Sophia Young scored 24. "The fact that [we're] able to close the season playing good basketball," said SASS coach Hughes, "means even more than home court."

Connecticut have now lost three in a row, all three by "missing high percentage shots," in the words of coach Thibault. Lindsay Whalen did not play: why not? apparently she was once again resting her ankle.

2. Indiana crushed New York at Conseco. McCarville did not play. David Woods at the Indy Star points out that the Fever always beat the Lib in Indiana, but the Shock almost always beat Indy in Detroit: that's going to be a playoff problem for Catchings and company, because...

3. Detroit nailed down the top seed in the East by crushing the lottery-bound Mystics on TV. "Now we can start working on things for playoffs," said Deanna Nolan, who tallied 17 and shot 50% from the field. The Basket Cases can't even work up enough steam to feel bad about the loss; they're more excited this morning to see...

4. Atlanta stun Los Angeles in L.A.: the Dream's surprise win makes the 1998 Mystics still the worst team in the history of the league.

"We didn't respect them," said Lisa Leslie, whose teammates let Izzy Castro-Marques score 23.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Over at the NYTimes, there's a preview of "Scary, Isn't She?", Elizabeth Weil's long profile of Jaime Nared:
The controversy surrounding Jaime and the Team Concept boys’ team blew up in April after she had one of those games that fill athletes’ dreams — behind-the-back passes, each shot on target. She scored 30 points. A couple of days later, Abraham, who also coached Jamie on the boys’ team, informed Greg Nared and Jaime’s mother, Reiko Williams (the couple are divorced), that their daughter had been banned from competing with the boys. The management of the Hoop, a private gym that runs the league that Team Concept plays in, cited a previously unenforced rule against mixed-gender play, but Jaime’s parents and coaches found the timing conspicuous. Abraham has coached girls’ and women’s basketball for 32 years — he used to be an assistant coach of the Sparks — and says Jaime is the best 12-year-old girl he’s ever seen. “If she were 5-foot-1 and a mediocre player,” he told me, “do you think we’d be having this discussion?”

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Halftime show.

An email from Bob Starkey:
This past weekend, Don Meyer, the legendary coach of Northern State University was in an automobile accident. The accident was a serious one that has required several surgeries including the removal of his spleen. They are currently working to save his leg by installing a rod in it. He also has broken ribs and arm injuries. He is responsive and will pull through though he has some difficult weeks ahead. Don was leading his team to a retreat when the accident occurred. His players surrounded the car and prayed with him when he was losing consciousness. He was airlifted to Sioux Falls where he could receive the best treatment.

It is hard for me to believe that there has been a better friend to all of us in the coaching profession (men’s and women’s) than Don. He has made a lifetime of helping us do our jobs better. I want to make sure that we are all there to show him our support and our love as well.

I am asking every coach to reach out and support Don through his tough time. You can send him a note or card...have your team send a card or autograph a basketball or jersey...or anything...encourage other coaches that you know to do the same. You can mail your support to:

Northern State University
Men’s Basketball Office
1200 South Jay Street
Aberdeen, SD 57401-7155

You can receive updates on Coach at this link.

If you could possibly post something on your website, I’d greatly appreciate it.
Absolutely. Please pass this along to anyone who might be interested.
The Fever had real trouble winning in Atlanta, but the visitors did it: the Dream will finish the year 1-16 at home, with at least 29 losses overall, which will apparently give them the worst record ever, even worse than the 1998 Mystics.

"Next year we're going to be a whole lot better," Betty Lennox told fans afterwards. "We promise."
In case you're wondering what you're missing, check out this article from the NYTimes: The Art and Science of Wheelchair Basketball.
Chairs cannot move left or right, only forward and back. That makes defense a fascinating exercise of players’ positioning their wheels perpendicular to those of the ball carrier, allowing for more responsive movements.

Defense is Schulte’s strength. He can zip one way or another, stop and make half or full spins with such speed and precision that he and the player he is guarding look like synchronized swimmers. Beyond his 6-foot-5 arm span, he can perform the wheelchair player’s version of a jump — tilting his chair on one of its large wheels to reach a few inches higher and block a shot.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Bob Corwin visits the Sparks and comes home a believer. (He also predicts that the Comets will cease to exist.)
New York beat Chicago at the Garden, thanks to strong play from McCarville (7-16 from the field in 31 minutes) and late treys from Erin Thorn.

With the win come worries for an already shorthanded team: McCarville, who has had back trouble in seasons past, left the floor in a wheelchair late in the game: apparently she was having awful back spasms. Let's hope it's nothing worse than that.
This weekend Abrosimova had something to say about her return to the W: "I haven’t won... a WNBA championship,” she told reporters. “I won everywhere else, been to a lot of finals, Olympics, world championships. That would be a good thing for me to finish up with.”
1. San Antonio ruined Connecticut's weekend with a convincing win at the casino. Becky and Sophia Young combined for 46.

The big road win puts the SASS into a tie for first in the West; it puts Connecticut fans into a bad mood. "They were just better than us today," said coach Thibault, whose team at one point missed fifteen shots in a row.

I'm still not sure how to read the Silver Stars' expanding set of fanblogs, but they've sure got some great pictures from yesterday.

2. Sacramento are still vying for that fourth Western playoff spot; last night they got closer by beating the Lynx at Arco. The box score makes me wonder about the Lynx starting lineup: DeForge got a donut, and Charde Houston came off the bench for a team-high 19.

3. The Monarchs have the upper hand, but Phoenix can still make the playoffs: the Merc canned the Comets last night in the Merc's home finale. "They played with their hearts," said coach Gaines. Diana played with fantastic accuracy, too: 33 points, 17 of 18 from the stripe.

If you watched the game on NBATV (or on Arizona's local broadcast) you heard a lot about Phoenix's rover defense, in which Diana covers the biggest threat and everybody else plays zone. Q has more thoughts here on defensive prowess, and says that Lisa Leslie right now looks like the Defensive POY.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

From Maire, another heads up on the Paralympics. The Hartford is involved, and they have a listing of the bios of the US Paralymipans here. There are also e-postcards from the athletes. Basketballer Patty Cisneros' starts:
Beijing is AWESOME! Right when we got off the airplane there were camera crews filming our arrival. I felt like LeBron James! When we got to the village, we got our credentials and headed to the USA apartments. We had a quick USA briefing then got to settle into our rooms. I have my own room since I'm a captain, but I don't really want to be by myself. I mean, come on... I have nine brothers and sisters!
Poking around their site, you can find photos of various past events, including the Hoop City Wheel Chair Basketball Exhibition held in San Antonio this past April. If you want competition recaps and photos from Beijing, click here.

By the way the Univerisity of Alabama's Wheelchair Athletics porgram is sending sending 7 athletes to China.
From after atalanta:
And it what you know about paralympic sports consists of having watched the documentary Murderball and some awareness of wheelchair basketball and/or wheelchair tennis, then you should (like I did) check out this article in The Telegraph that goes though all the medal sports in the Paralympics providing their history, the events offered, which disabilities are accommodated, and how. What I find impressive is the organization of all the events and how they meet the needs of so many athletes. Too bad we won't get to actually see much of it.
If you're looking from coverage (online)
Sponsored by General Electric and Visa, which will provide branded promotions with integrated media placements on Universal Sports TV, the Paralympic Games will be available in the USA on Universalsports.com, http://www.universalsports.com, with daily live and delayed highlight shows.
Daily video highlights will also be available at the official site of the U.S. Paralympic Team. A schedule of events is available at Universal Sports TV.
More online:
Paralympic Games live footage will be available, free of charge, on the IPC's Internet TV channel paralympicsport.tv, as well as on YouTube at www.youtube.com/paralympicsporttv.

The program was announced after the Beijing Olympic Broadcasting Co. agreed to provide live signals of 12 Paralympic sports: athletics, boccia, track cycling, seven-a-side soccer, judo, swimming, table tennis, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair fencing, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis.

In addition to the live events, paralympicsport.tv will broadcast a daily news show, with additional highlights -- including sports that won't be live-streamed -- available as video-on-demand.
The Liberty are playoff bound again. And this year, they did not wait until the final regular season game to clinch it by downing the visiting Dream.

Betty Lennox and solid offensive rebounding kept the Dream within striking distance for much of the game. But the Liberty responded with another strong performance from Janel McCarville, a season high from Cathrine Kraayeveld, and some timely three point baskets in the third quarter from Lisa Willis and Ashley Battle.

Even though they know they are in the playoffs, the Liberty are still motivated to finish strong. "There are still more games to be played," Patty Coyle said. "There are still a lot of things to play for, like home court advantage."
If you were trying to watch the webcast of the Liberty-Dream game (or the Sparks-Silver Stars game), you may have missed the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony. Fortunately, NBA-TV is re-airing the ceremony several times over the weekend. So you still can watch Cathy Rush's speech (along with Patrick, Dick, Pat, Adrian, Bill and Hakeem).

Those who are women's basketball history buffs, are well aware of Rush's legacy. If not, be sure to check out yesterday's article in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Rush. And of course, remember to check in on Mel's blog for more on last night's ceremony.

Reading about Rush again reminded me about the movie on the Mighty Macs. According to the film's website, it is currently in post production. So hopefully we can see it soon.
The Mercury are not dead yet. The defending champs won their second game in a row, this time easily handling the visiting Monarch.

Diana Taurasi once again led the way, this time scoring 26 points along with 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocked shots. Once again, she got enough help from her teammates as nearly everyone who played scored.

"We're not trying to send a message about being the champs; we're just trying to stay in the hunt," Taurasi said. "Every game is so important, and if we don't win out, we don't have a possibility of going anywhere or having another team help us out.

The Monarchs also understand the importance each game, but were not able to overcome a poor shooting performance. "This time of year you don't have any margin for error, everybody is playing do or die, including us," Jenny Boucek said. "You have to be at the top of your game, and we definitely weren't."

There was some good news in the game for the Monarchs though. Rebekkah Brunson returned to action after under going knee surgery during the Olympic break. And Ticha Penicheiro became the first player in league history to surpass 2,000 assists.
This one is a little surprising considering how well the Sparks have played since the Olympic break. But the Silver Stars again showed why they are one of the top teams in the league with an impressive 76-58 win at home.

Looking at the boxscore, it is also a little surprising who led San Antonio in scoring. Reserve Edwidge Lawson-Wade scored a career high 14 to pace the Silver Stars. Two other players reached double figures and three others had 9 points. With the exception of Candace Parker and DeLisha Milton-Jones, the Sparks struggled from the floor.

With the win, San Antonio joins the Storm in the Western Conference playoffs. “Getting in the playoffs is one thing, but now we're worried about seeding,” Dan Hughes said. “It isn't like we're going to take a deep breath. We've got to get ready for the next one.''
With the obvious exception of the injured Cheryl Ford, the Shock had everyone back and it was too much for the Fever.

Plenette Pierson played her first game since being suspended and scored a team high 20 points. Deanna Nolan added 19 and Detroit received big contributions from their bench. "Our bench players came in and contributed,” Laimbeer said. “Hornbuckle had a good second quarter, [Olayinka] Sanni played well, and obviously Plenette played well. [Kelly] Schumacher’s given us some good quality minutes also. Everybody’s contributing, that’s fun."

Note - The Detroit papers had AP stories up at the time of this post. Hats off to Ryan Pretzer with the Shock for having a story to link to.
Lindsay Whalen returned to action and the Sun kept their win streak alive. It was a close battle with the Sky and Whalen and Ashja Jones combined for just 13 points. But the Sun found a way to win.

"Sometimes you can do just about everything right and the other team is on and there is nothing you can do about it," Sylvia Fowles said. "They had a lot of people step up and give their team a lot of energy."

The Sky shot the ball well and were led by the trio of Fowles, Jia Perkins and Candice Dupree. But they also had 22 turnovers. Tamika Whitmore and Barbara Turner paced the Sun with 17 and 16 points respectively.

”I'm happy with the win," said Mike Thibault. "This wasn't the best that we've played since we've come back from the (Olympic) break, but we won on a night where we didn't play our best.”

Friday, September 05, 2008

From the New York Times: Paralympic Athletes See Inequity in U.S. Support.
When he rolls to the starting line for the 1,500-meter wheelchair race at the Paralympics, the Olympics for disabled athletes that begin Saturday in Beijing, Tony Iniguez will wear his Team U.S.A. uniform with pride. He will compete for his country’s Olympic program. He is also suing it for discrimination.

The United States is no stranger to disputes over discrimination against various groups and the provision of benefits for citizens, as the battle over universal health insurance indicates. But in this case the Paralympians are emphasizing their needs as athletes as much as their needs as citizens. They claim that races have been lost and medals squandered by their having to compete against athletes from nations such as Canada and Britain that support their disabled athletes virtually equally to Olympians.
OT: You might have missed the LPGA's "English Only" policy. Visit after atalanta for some background here, here, here and here.

Now they're backing off.
Sue Bird continued her impressive play and led the Storm past the Sky and into the playoffs. This snapped a three game winning streak for the Sky.

Chicago led through the first half and part of the second as they took advantage of 16 first half turnovers from Seattle. But Bird turned it on and keyed two big runs to help her team win. She was perfect from the floor in the fourth quarter as her team took over. ''Bird lit us up, and there were too many mental mistakes,'' Sky forward Candice Dupree said. ''If Bird didn't score, then she got the ball to a wide-open teammate.

Until the turnaround by the Storm in the third quarter, Jia Perkins was the story - hitting 9 of her first 10 shots. She would miss her final two attempts, but finished with a game high 22. "This is very frustrating," said Perkins. "We had control of the game until the fourth quarter. That's what hurts the worst."
Mechelle checks in with a piece on Tamika Whitmore.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Mercury kept their playoff hopes alive with a much needed win over the visiting Lynx.

Diana Taurasi filled up the stat sheet with a game high 32 points and 5 blocked shots. But she also got some help. "I told them before the game that I needed a little bit from everybody," Corey Gaines said. "They came out, and they were aggressive. They really attacked them and didn't give them easy shots."

The Lynx continued to struggle from the floor, especially in the first half. But they did fight back in the second half and combined with the Mercury to set a record for the most points in a half.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Sue Blauch is home after refereeing seven Olympic games:
"Sometimes, I have to pinch myself," Blauch told the Daily News-Record in an interview in her home on Chestnut Drive. "Did I just do that? Did I just go to the Olympics? I'm a very ordinary person and I've gotten to do some extraordinary things. It doesn't quite seem real; it's amazing."
So we took a couple of days off. It was Labor Day. Sue us.

The Liberty, on the other hand, were no letdown in Houston last night: what looked like a mismatch at halftime (the Lib led by ten) went to overtime, but the visitors pulled off the win behind McCarville's career high. "We just didn't have the stops," coach Thompson said.

McCarville also looked pretty good on defense, with acrobatic rebounds and blocks; Lisa Willis set her own new career high too. And yet they needed overtime... go figure.

Last night's other games had less drama: Seattle handed the Dream yet another home loss despite 25 points from ex-Storm hotshot Betty Lennox. Dream coach Meadors spent half an hour with her team in the locker room afterwards; Betty says they discussed "accountability."

And in Washington, the home team played a good half but followed it up with a lousy one: the Fever won going away. Catch, White and Douglas combined for 64 points on better-than-50% shooting; their win puts the Fever clearly in playoff position as the end of the reg-season nears.

Jessie and Steve will be at the beach this weekend, too-- but we'll be back for the last week of reg-season games. Or so we think.

Back right now-- or, really, never away: Q, who asks why the Sparks are now living up to the hype.