Brooke's injury brings a sad smile to my face. It reminds me of a previous injury that put Brooke on the Connecticut bench. A friend, who has since passed, was a passionate UConn fan with not much respect for the WNBA. He went to a Sun game and fell in love with the W -- after he caught a glimpse of Brooke's smile.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Brooke's injury brings a sad smile to my face. It reminds me of a previous injury that put Brooke on the Connecticut bench. A friend, who has since passed, was a passionate UConn fan with not much respect for the WNBA. He went to a Sun game and fell in love with the W -- after he caught a glimpse of Brooke's smile.
Mechelle looks at the West on ESPN.com
....and the mess in the East at her blog.
Here we are with two weeks of the WNBA regular season left. And while the Eastern Conference playoff race -- other than Indiana -- is still a complete grab bag of possibilities, the drama in the West is more whittled down.
Phoenix and Seattle have their spots locked up, and resurgent Los Angeles has all but wrapped up at least third place, short of a complete collapse. Considering the only game of their past eight that the Sparks have lost was to Phoenix without Candace Parker playing, we are declaring L.A. collapse-proof.
Technically, last-place Sacramento at 10-20 is still in the playoff mix, and the Monarchs did stun the Fever in Indianapolis on Saturday night. Plus, the Monarchs have all four of their remaining games at home.
I consider the “Saturday Night Live” bit called “Annuale” the best fake commercial the show has ever done – of course, comic goddesses Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Kristen Wiig had to be involved. (I never thought anyone could be as funny in as many different characters as Gilda Radner was, but Kristen Wiig is even better.)
I’m referencing the clip both because it’s insanely hilarious and because I feel like stealing a line from it to describe the whirlwind that the Eastern Conference playoff race is going to be in these last two weeks of the regular season.
Go to store, buy a hat, and get ready to hold the (blank) on to it.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Greetings from Indiana, the second stop on my mission to see every Australian play in the WNBA this season.Sniff. Liberty fans want an Australian player (who doesn't have a gimpy back, thankyouverymuch).
Chancellor isn't the only D-I coach in the KeyArena house. Washington coach Tia Jackson also is here with players Sami Whitcomb, Kristi Kingma, and Regina Rogers. They spoke to season-ticket holders prior to the game. Jackson has been out on the recruiting trail, but is only bringing on walk-on Amanda Johnson, a PG from Los Angeles. Jackson also said returning PG Christina Rozier is good after offseason leg surgery. Storm up 21-19 with 7:16 remaining in the second quarter.The challenges of bridging the gap between the W and the college game hasn't gone unnoticed:
Asked both about the visible lack of support between college and WNBA and Chancellor said it's because the college coaches are always out recruiting in non-WNBA areas. "If I wasn't going on this cruise, I'd be out recruiting now," he said.
There are growing opportunities for coaches at both levels to meet, exchange ideas about the game and develop a mutual respect for each other’s professions. “I go out and see college games all the time,” said Thibault. “Last year just during our training camp, we had somewhere between 10 and 15 college programs come in to watch our practices and to dialogue back and forth about [different tactics]. You’re seeing more of that, and I think that the perception that the pros just roll out the ball has gone away.”
In the past, several factors have contributed to a lack of collegiality between the two coaching communities. Schedules that were out of sync, disparate backgrounds seemed to discourage connection, and the ever-growing pressure of growing a college program made huge demands on an individual coach’s time. In spite of those realities, Seattle’s Donovan can’t help but feel disappointed in what she sees as a lack of support from the college ranks. “I don’t know how much they watch the game, how much they really play close attention to it. I can speculate about why that is, but I’ll leave that alone and just say it’s frustrating. Because this is a great game. Pity the person that’s still looking at this league ten years ago when it started out. They just gave up on it back then? Where would we be in women’s basketball if we had all done that back then? The game has grown, the talent has grown, the coaching has grown. And it’s a game that needs to be promoted within our own ranks.”
Courtney Paris is accustomed to being the center of attention.
It's been that way since she began playing basketball with twin sister Ashley as a 10-year-old. Her prominence increased at Piedmont High, where she won two state titles, then at the University of Oklahoma, where she became the top rebounder in women's college basketball history and recorded 112 consecutive double-doubles.
But last Friday night, when the Sacramento Monarchs rallied in the final minutes at Arco Arena to beat the Indiana Fever, Paris found herself in an increasingly familiar place.
On the bench.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Detroit and Atlanta played what reads to have been a fun game, with the Shock coming out on top, 87-83. With the win, Detroit oozes into fourth in the Eastern Conference (making tonight's Sky/Lib game very interesting).
As Mechelle notes, Parker stayed home, but the Sparks-Merc game was an entertaining one. Especially if you are a Phoenix fan, as Cappie and her hair (and her 26pts) power her team to a 98-90 win.
Indiana enjoyed the benefits of being home, topping the Silver Stars by 11, and Connecticut enjoyed being on the West coast as much as the Fever did: the lost to Seattle, 86-74.
By the way, Seattle is #3.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
It’s not necessarily original to say that Penicheiro is the epitome of basketball as an art form – creatively drawing upon the resources revealed to her in a situation to make beauty out of a chaotic world. And even in the twilight of her career, in a 103-83 blowout that pushed the Monarchs further into the cellar of the Western Conference, appreciating Penicheiro is almost a mandate for anyone who considers themselves a true fan of the sport.Players like Ticha and Mwadi and Wauters and Maiga-ba make me wish the IOC would consider putting together a "World" team. (And dump golf (GOLF!!!) and reinstate softball).
Forgive the basketball snobbery, but if you can’t recognize the beauty in Penicheiro’s game, it’s time to move on from basketball and find a new sport.
The San Antonio Silver Stars have declared their 7 p.m., Sept. 1 game with Minnesota at the AT&T Center "Vickie Johnson Night" in honor of the all-star guard's final season in the WNBA.Considering how she chose LaTech, it's kinda cool that she's wearing stars in her last W season.
Johnson has played more WNBA games than any other player in the history of the league, recently logging her 400th appearance. She played the first game in league history on June 21, 1997, helping the New York Liberty to a 67-57 win over the Los Angeles Sparks. She announced in June that 2009, her 13th WNBA season, would be her last
Q: Did you choose Louisiana Tech because it was one of the best programs, or because it was in Louisiana?
VJ: (Laughs) I never told anyone this…. I was playing with my brothers outside one day, and my mom called me in the house and she said, “VJ, there’re some girls on TV playing basketball. I think [La Tech] was playing against Cheryl Miller. And I said, “You know what? You see the team in the blue with the stars? That’s the team I wanted to play for – with the stars,” ’cause I wanted to be a star. (Laughs) That’s why I went to Louisiana Tech. The stars.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
With the recent news coverage surrounding Candace Parker, more and more people have become familiar with the WNBA especially since this article in the New York Times profiling reigning WNBA MVP Candace Parker's return to basketball following her giving birth to a daughter just over one month ago. Perhaps that's why when One2One Network offered me the chance to take my family to the WNBA for a night out, I was excited.
What kind of work have they done to ensure (a passionate, committed, hungry) interest is actually there for a pro team?
Doesn't sound like it's been a lot. From the article:
“We still have a lot of work to do,” Cameron said. “We’ve come a long way. We’ve made tremendous progress. The biggest obstacle is familiarizing people with the product. There’s a great basis for girls' basketball in the area, but there isn’t as much for the WNBA. People who have seen the excitement with Sherri Coale’s team at Oklahoma can see the potential but again it’s familiarizing them with the product.”And they're aiming for the 2010 season.
Hello?!?!?! Does this sound like fertile ground begging for a W team? The production stage manager in me says "no way." The logistics, groundwork, planning needed to make a franchise a success don't just happen in eight months. This feels like a rush job.
Which makes me wonder -- why? Is the Donna thinking about expanding to 14 teams? (And if so, could she pick a weak enough draft to do so? Though, of course, the Tulsa Tankers might get first shot at Maya Moore..hmmm.) And if there is no expansion, who's moving? *and yes, I know the Lib are, but even I don't think they'll ask us to commute to Tulsa during the renovations. I hope.*
In the end, I'm glad there's talk -- that's exciting for the W and such, that there's interest. But, like we say at work, don't just say "yes" because someone offers you money. Do a risk assessment first -- and make sure that you're not compromising the quality of your product.
For all the W's struggles, for the all the bad economic news, the cutting of the rosters and the possibility of having only one assistant a team (perhaps No Doz should become a league sponsor?), there have been some exciting things this season -- on the court and in the press. Let's build on that and not find ourselves overreaching and regretting a lack of foresight.
Basically, if you love basketball, there’s no excuse for not closely watching Candace Parker do her thing over the course of a game. LeBron might even be a restrictive comparison — she’s got the same shocking athleticism and versatility on a relative scale, but because of the parameters of the women’s game she needs more fundamental skill to compliment that ability. Her midpost game is as advanced and dominant as anyone on the men’s scale, and she combines that with her ability to play like a wing despite her size — think Pau Gasol’s refined dominance with Lamar Odom’s versatility and explosiveness thrown in.(h/t pilight)
So, what did I learn from this foray into the highest levels of women’s basketball? First off, don’t let all the jazz about how the women’s game is a fundamental, almost Marxist affair on the court fool you — this is just as much of a league of stars as the NBA. The division between the money players and the role players might be even more pronounced than it is on the men’s side of things, and the stars are just as impressive to watch. Watching Dupree explode from the high-post and look at once forceful and serpentine as she got an and one, Leslie work like a professor in the paint at both ends of the floor, and Candace Parker do just about everything that can be done with a basketball is just as impressive as watching the LeBrons, Wades, and Kobes of this world, believe me.
What I want to know is "How far will I have to commute to eat that bad food?"
...all of this anger directed toward the IAAF and the insistence by so many people that this is unfair and discriminatory seems to be ignoring the possibility that Semenya may have a medical condition that causes gender ambiguity, and that she might also be facing gender-identity conflict.
In the understandable urge to “protect” a person who faces gender questions, well-meaning, sympathetic, open-minded and loving people might be making a mistake. They may be forcing that person into a “closet” that I think is even deeper and harder to talk openly about than that of homosexuality.
Connecticut gets stomped at home. 90-70, by the stubborn, stubborn Shock.
Washington gets schooled by Seattle, 78-68.
Fowles-less Chicago gets spanked by the Sparks, 75-63.
On the, "Playoffs, hell YES we'd like to in the second year of our franchise even though most people seem to think our coach/GM is a nincompoop," Atlanta doesn't care that Becky is back and took Sacto down, 103-83.
Oh, and Indy is #2.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
With 2:18 left in the third quarter and her team down 14 points against the Seattle Storm, a light seemed to go on for Fever rookie point guard Briann January.
January brought the ball up court, shifted her weight left just enough to freeze All-Star guard Sue Bird who was defending her, then made a swift crossover dribble and took the ball hard to the basket to draw the foul and hit two free throws.
However, it wasn’t just one play that stood out on Saturday.
Because we're talking about the team near Tinseltown, we have to frame this like an action movie. Maybe one of the "Die Hard" flicks, in which the protagonist keeps running into bad things and seemingly impossible scenarios, yet still figures a way out.
Of course, the Los Angeles Sparks weren't stuck in a high-rise building with psychopathic thieves or anything. But in sports terms, they appeared to be in an unexpectedly precarious situation for much of this WNBA season.
Monday, August 24, 2009
And it's cool that there are stories from players on the .com. Or that you can bid on autographed items to support the Kay Yow Fund. (And it was an honor to have Coach Glance at Sunday's Liberty/Lynx game).
But what is wrong with this banner?
Bid now for you chance to own a piece of WNBA history
Sure hope the "Natinals" don't donate a jersey.
Do you suppose the W has hired the peeps who did the pins for the 2002 Final Four where, you know, that team from Conecticut played and won?
And, I'm sorry, but what's the point of being "hooked in to fans via social media" if you don't listen to'em?
First, back to the "old" news of the week: the gender verification of Caster Semenya. Nothing has changed regarding her circumstances. But a lot of objection has been voiced to the process as well as to seeming lack of tact the IAAF has exhibited in keeping this matter a more private one. Both Dave Zirin and Pat Griffin have written excellent columns on the ongoing issue.
From "friend of the blog" Dave:
The people with something to hide are the powers that be in track and field, as well as in international sport. As long as there have been womens' sports, the characterization of the best female athletes as "looking like men" or "mannish" has consistently been used to degrade them. When Martina Navratilova dominated women's tennis and proudly exposed her chiseled biceps years before Hollywood gave its imprimatur to gals with "guns," players complained that she "must have a chromosome loose somewhere."And from Pat:
This minefield of sexism and homophobia has long pushed female athletes into magazines like Maxim to prove their "hotness"--and implicitly their heterosexuality. Track and field in particular has always had this preoccupation with gender, particularly when it crosses paths with racism. Fifty years ago, Olympic official Norman Cox proposed that in the case of black women, "the International Olympic Committee should create a special category of competition for them--the unfairly advantaged 'hermaphrodites.'"
This sorry incident provides more evidence that the world of sport needs to come into the 21st Century with regard to sex, gender and sexuality. These social constructions are way more complicated and fluid than we are led to believe in our simplistic either/or world. Add sexism to the mix: how could a woman possibly run that fast, she must be a man! Add a little narrow-mindedness about gender expression: She’s too muscular, her hair is too short, her voice is too deep. Possibly add a little racism: would a European or American athlete be treated in the same disrespectful way without regard for her privacy? Heck, while we are at it, let’s also add some homophobia too. I’m sure it’s in there somewhere.
In 2006, just before her 28th birthday, Erickson was diagnosed with ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease. In 2007, her teammates, most notably Duncan and Pimley, formed the Melissa Erickson Foundation to help raise money to pay for medical bills and necessary alterations to Erickson's home.
"When we first found out that Mo had this disease, of course we were all in shock," Pimley said. "And the first time we went out to dinner with her after that, Sarah and I got together and told her that we knew there were going to be a lot of financial burdens, but we're going to come up with some kind of financial plan to help her out with that.'"
Next Saturday, the foundation is staging a Ring Around the Needle Pub Crawl. Eight bars that surround the Seattle Center are taking part in the event.
Life in the WNBA agrees with Renee Montgomery.
The Minnesota Lynx’s rookie point guard out of UConn loves her teammates, loves the competition, loves living in Minneapolis, and — though she misses Storrs — loves the idea of not having to go to class.
But the fourth selection in last April’s WNBA draft is dealing with something as a pro that’s totally foreign to her. The Lynx enters tonight’s game against the Connecticut Sun at the Mohegan Sun Arena with an 11-14 record having dropped four straight and seven of its last eight. In Montgomery’s four years at UConn, the Huskies were 139-11 and the last time they lost two straight Montgomery was in kindergarten.
And no one hates losing more than she does.
When Sue Bird plays basketball, she’s always greedy and she never feels guilty.
The Seattle Storm guard has a high school national title, two collegiate national titles, two Olympic gold medals and a WNBA championship. She also has an enormous chip on her shoulder from a third-place finish at the 2006 world championships.
“We’re all very hungry to get that gold medal back,” said Bird, selected last week to the U.S. national team along with seven other players.
While Twitter is red hot at the moment, it's just one piece in the multimedia fabric — one of several platforms available to anyone, and everyone, to get out their message.
In a crowded media market, it can be difficult for schools to get time and space in traditional outlets. It also is difficult to make a name for yourself as a mid-major, small-market school against big-time, big-name programs that ESPN highlights on a regular basis.
Avenues like Twitter, which are free to use, help give the small guys and gals a voice.
Former Gloucester City Resident on Troop Tour. Earlier this month Pittsburgh College (sic) women's basketball coach Agnus McGlade Berenato joined a group of college coaches to tour U.S. military bases in Afghanistan. Agnus was born and raised in Gloucester City NJ. A star basketball player, both in high school and college, she graduated from Gloucester Catholic High School in 1975 and Mount Saint Mary College in 1979.
During the tour of the military bases she kept a daily diary which appeared each day in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette (www.post-gazette.com).
1) The Silver Stars (11-16), in the running for the most disappointing team of the season, traveled to Detroit where 7.130 watched the seemingly ageless Katie Smith drop 31pts (10-15, 6-9 from 3pt land). The Shock took the lead in the first and kept it throughout, exiting with a 99-84 victory.
"We've dug ourselves a hole, and we've got a lot of work to do if we even want to sniff the playoffs,'' said Katie Smith, who led Detroit with a season-high 31 points. "We're going to try to at least make it exciting.''They travel to Connecticut next -- always a fun match-up. Heh. Heh.
2) 11,304 watched the Dream spot the Sparks an early lead, but they could never quite catch up. LA emerged victorious behind Parker's 23 pts on 8-13 shooting. Angel matched Candace's output and has, perhaps, emerged as frontrunner for ROY.
"I'm definitely not 100 percent, but I'm getting there,'' said Parker, who played all but three minutes and was 8 for 13 from the floor. "I'm about 85 percent. Come playoffs, it will be 100 percent.''Coolness: Coach Summitt was in the house!
Of deep concern for Atlanta: Holdsclaw sitting out the entire 40 minutes -- damn sore knees.
She played only the first quarter Thursday and didn't score in a victory over San Antonio.3) Shameka, Shameka, Shameka. Christon proved why she's an All-Star (and that a skinny kid who walks like she's stepping on hot sand can carry a team).
"Right now, she's going to the doctor,'' Dream coach Marynell Meadors said. "We're just not taking any chances with her.''
Meadors said that she doesn't know how long Holdsclaw will be out
The Lynx started off red-hot (30pts in the first quarter) and the Lib ice-cold but, fortunately for us NY fans, the roles reversed at halftime. Though it was not a brilliant shooting night for Christon (6-16), her 24pts plus Kraayeveld's season high 18 ("Holy crap!", she must be thinking, "I DO still know how to shoot the damn ball!") and some unexpected contributions from the bench ("Hey, is that that Larkins kid?") drove the Lib to a 80-67 victory.
The win allows the Lib to (let's all say it at once) "Keep their playoff hopes alive."
Front office peeps must be having kittens trying to decide whether to send off playoff ticket forms and chatting with their NBA counterparts about schedules.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
After the Los Angeles Sparks' 67-66 overtime road win over the Silver Stars last night, San Antonio forward Sophia Young perfectly articulated why this was the one game I was looking forward to seeing all week.In an earlier post, after NY gave up a 17-pt lead against Connecticut, Q observes that which has been eating at Lib fans hearts all season:
"With LA we expect anything,'' said Young. "It's always going to be a good game. They never blow us out, we never blow them out, and it's always an exciting game for the fans.''
Too bad nobody could see it on WNBA LiveAccess...because there's more than one reason to want to watch the Sparks.
I’m not sure if the Liberty lack talent or lack motivation…but they really don’t seem to care. I’m not even sure you could say they panicked once the Sun started their comeback…it literally looked like they weren’t interested in the outcome.Welcome to Patty Coyle -- and now Anne Donovan's -- world, built, lest we forget, through the of Blaze.
Body language, facial expressions, hustle…it just wasn’t there..
Instead, they chose to settle for jump shot out of jump shot, slowly shooting themselves out of the game.
It was almost as though they were officially waving the white flag in preparation of heading to an early vacation.
Rebecca at Game Notes of Dooooooom recently compared the Liberty to a waterbug or a giant flying roach – they move from arbitrary action to an untimely death. And that’s sort of what happened, but not entirely.
Which is, I think, what has so many Lib fans cranky. Because, thanks to Blaze's actions, this is the team we've got next year, too.
AND, we might have to go to New Jersey or Long Island or Radio City Music Hall to watch'em. (Waiting for the "what a great opportunity you're going to have" letter to arrive.)
With all that to look forward to, would you want to stick around and coach this crew? Or, perhaps you'd lke to challenge Stanely for the Sparks gig? Or chat with Whiz? Or maybe visit Atlanta and suggest splitting GM/coaching duties?
Sigh. The future's so bright, I've got to wear shades (and no, Michael Dukakis, that is NOT a good thing).
Saturday, August 22, 2009
When Lisa Leslie was growing up in the Los Angeles suburb of Compton, she had an idea that she was destined to be special. She kept signing “Lisa Leslie” on paper all around her family’s house from the time she was 7.
“My mom would always ask me, Why am I signing my name everywhere?” said Leslie, who was 6 feet tall in sixth grade. “I said, ‘Because I want to give out autographs.’ I just told her I was going to be famous.”
Leslie reached 6-5 and stopped growing, but her talent did not. And she indeed became famous.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Check out Mechelle
The current controversy over the gender question about runner Caster Semenya brings up so many different topics of discussion that I couldn’t begin to adequately cover then all. But let’s at least try to sort through some of them. I’ll call this blog entry “part 1” in that regard, with the thought that there is much more to say....and (highly recommended) check out the After Atalanta blog (dedicated to discussions of gender and sports)
I also want to put up this disclaimer – for the purpose of discussing these things here, I’m using some really general and unspecific ways to describe potential medical conditions. A medical professional would most definitely use different terms and be much more specific. This blog entry is more to start a dialogue and offer some general thoughts; it is not meant to be taken as a professionally researched medical article.
The NYT called her a "muscular 18-year old from South Africa." Odd choice of adjectives given that this is the world championships and everyone has muscles. And remember folks, muscles aren't just for boys anymore.
What is slightly more problematic is the blog post by an American track and field athlete. Brianna Glenn writes that:
the fact that I’m referring to Semenya as a “she” is the whole reason for the controversy. It seems there has been testing done (or there will be in the near future) to see whether she’s male or both, and therein is where the problem lies. According to IAAF rules, a competitor must be fully female to compete in women’s events. She seemingly came out of nowhere and burst onto the international scene to be the best in the world and that was the first clue that something was amiss. Add to that her running style and mannerisms and people really begin to scratch their head.
Again, when someone comes out of nowhere you usually think steroids. But Glenn's mention of Semenya's running style and mannerisms reveal the problem behind this whole situation. Semenya allegedly does not conform to some version of femininity that Glenn and others think she should.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
It's fortunate that Bilqis Abul-Qadir doesn't play in Switzerland where a Muslim woman has been told by Swiss basketball authorities she can't wear a headscarf when she plays in league games.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
A good friend of mine is a LA Lakers fan and for years I – a Golden State Warriors fan – have had to listen to him whine and complain about how inconsistent and discombobulated the Lakers are…as they end up in the NBA Finals or infinitely closer to anything resembling success than my beloved Warriors.
So thankfully, he’s not a (huge) LA Sparks fan…because then he’d actually have something legitimate to whine about.
Sports columnist Harvey Araton packed his pens and notebooks and moved from the sports desk to a features desk, a once proud species ambled closer to extinction.
Two years ago, The Times had five sports columnists. With Mr. Araton gone, there are two. One of them is 70.
There will be no replacements.
The Times’ sports editor, Tom Jolly, explained to The Observer that in many ways, the general-interest sports columnist—at The Times, the Sports of the Times columnist, a designation that has existed since the 1930s—is part of a bygone era.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
And, while in the past I might have made a snarky comment like "#26 Covering Women's Basketball," the women's game is nicely represented in this list. Which may mean the slight shifted that's been detected in SI's coverage of the women's game may be more than a feeling....
Imagine where our game would be if they hadn't wiped out competitive high school baskeball in the 30's.
Thanks a lot, Lou Hoover.
When I was in law school, I always benefited from the fact that our exams were graded on a curve — it didn’t matter what you knew, as long as you knew more than the other people sitting in the room with you. It is the same thing with trying to make the post-season in the WNBA. You don’t have to be good — you just have to be better than the teams in your conference. Notwithstanding the fact that I live and die by the belief that, in the 2009 Sparks, Penny Toler has put together the greatest team of individual talent ever assembled on a women’s pro basketball team (Rebkell, begin your discussion now), all I want right now is for us to have the fourth best record in the West so we can advance to the playoffs.
About two weeks ago I went to a Seattle Storm- Phoenix Mercury game with Bethlehem Shoals of FreeDarko.com and we had some extended conversations about his thoughts about the WNBA. Today, Shoals (finally) posted his first-hand account of the WNBA on the Sporting News and did a great job of transforming my description of our conversation into a more coherent argument in support of the WNBA, in addition to challenging the dominant assumptions that NBA fans might hold. An excerpt:
As far as I can tell, WNBA players can't jump, run or throw their weight around like their male counterparts. And they do play a more technically adept game. But they are also seriously skilled, in ways that college (amateur) athletes are not, for simple reasons of arithmetic. Both guards handle the ball and run the offense; big men—er, women—post up all over the place, regularly pass off the ball, and reliably hit jumpers like it's expected of them; everyone cuts like crazy, keeping up a level of activity that at some point is bound to outstrip or shed the coach's instructions.
Why is it news that participation is down in high school sports? Because certain sports generate the big bucks. So, there's some concern in California.
Although football and basketball drive much of the California Interscholastic Federation's financial success, participation in those sports statewide – and within the Sac-Joaquin Section – has declined during the last two years.
According to the CIF's bi-annual statewide sports participation survey, boys basketball participation is down 4.9 percent and football 3.4 percent. Girls basketball has declined 5.7 percent.
The decline is even greater in the Sac-Joaquin Section. Girls basketball participation is down 9.4 percent. Football has seen a 6.8 percent decline. Boys basketball fell 6 percent.
One of the premier rivalries in women’s college basketball once again will take center stage on Jan. 16, when Notre Dame and Connecticut square off as the centerpiece of the first-ever ESPN women’s basketball College GameDay broadcast from Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn. The matchup between the Fighting Irish and Huskies — one of two on the 2009-10 BIG EAST Conference regular season schedule — will tip off at 9 p.m. (ET) and will be televised live to a national cable audience by ESPN.
ESPN’s College GameDay will air live from Gampel Pavilion twice during the day on Jan. 16, first from 11 a.m.-noon (ET), and again from 8-9 p.m. (ET), the second broadcast leading directly into the network’s “Saturday Primetime” coverage of the Notre Dame-Connecticut game. GameDay, which made its debut in January 2005 with a Pittsburgh-UConn men’s basketball game, is hosted by Rece Davis, with expert analysis from former longtime Fighting Irish men’s basketball coach Richard “Digger” Phelps, legendary Indiana, Army and Texas Tech men’s basketball coach Bob Knight, former North Carolina standout Hubert Davis and former Duke great Jay Bilas.
“This is a historic announcement for all of women’s basketball,” Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said. “We are thrilled to be a part of this momentous day and look forward to joining Connecticut in representing the BIG EAST, which we consider to be the nation’s top women’s basketball conference. I’m sure our fans are eagerly anticipating this game and will team up with UConn’s supporters to make it a day to remember.”
USA Basketball has a jigsaw puzzle to put together in terms of the senior women's national team. Not that the folks there don't have a lot of practice doing this. Just that it's worth remembering it's not as easy as it might appear.
How might this impact their run to the playoffs? Jones is averaging a team-leading 16.7 points per game and set a franchise record by scoring in double figures in 18 consecutive games.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Following a first quarter fight from Canada (4-1), the 2009 USA Women's U16 National Team (5-0) outscored its opponent by 20 points in the second quarter to help secure a early lead and an impressive 103-52 win and the inaugural 2009 FIBA Americas U16 Championship gold medal on Friday night at Juan de la Barrera Gym in Mexico City.
Elizabeth Williams (Princess Anne H.S. / Virginia Beach, Va.), who led five U.S. players in double figures with 19 points and seven rebounds, was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2009 FIBA Americas U16 Championship.
Friday, August 14, 2009
The Bentley University women's basketball team will receive national television exposure when its Northeast-10 Conference game with Franklin Pierce University on February 20 is televised live on the CBS College Sports Network. Tip-off at Bentley's Dana Athletic Center will be 12 noon.
The Bentley-Franklin Pierce encounter, a rematch of the 2009 Northeast-10 playoff championship game, is one of eight that is be a part of the NCAA Division II men's and women's basketball television package.
"We are honored to have been selected appear in a nationally televised game as part of CBS College Sports' DII basketball package," said Bentley Hall of Fame coach Barbara Stevens, winner of 774 games in her career. "We are proud of our rich tradition of women's basketball at Bentley and look forward to representing not only Bentley University, but the NE-10 in this game.
Franklin Pierce, runner up to last year's champion, University of Minnesota Mankato, will be under new leadership (Steve Hancock) as former coach Mark Swasey has moved over to lead the California University of Pennsylvania's Vulcans.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
And yet it still ended up being a 51-point margin of victory.
Sure, you love the offense. But wowza with the serious defense from a bunch of 15 and 16-year-olds.
"We weren't all mentally there in the first half," Vaioletama said. "We did better in the second quarter, and we finally got all the way there in the third quarter. That's when we really started to put the game away. At halftime we talked about recommitting to defense and coming together as a team, and we did that in the second half."Next up, the gold medal game against 4-0 Canada, who defeated Argentina.
As Mr. T would say, "Pity the fools."
The subject does not interest Lindsay Whalen. She just shrugs and says quietly that she isn't inclined to wonder if her status as the WNBA's transcendent point guard — or potential Olympic star — has been impacted by the immense popularity and talent of Sue Bird.
"I don't know," Whalen said. "I don't think about that stuff. I am focused on my team. She is focused on her team. There's nothing I can do about what the perspective of the fans or the media might be. You can't think about it. You can't control how people may think."
It was a chilly "yes, winter's coming" morning in Detroit in October, the day after the Shock had won the franchise's third WNBA title. Coach Bill Laimbeer called it particularly gratifying, considering what the team had been through, including a distracting midseason on-court fight with Los Angeles and the loss of a key starter to an injury.
Yet there seemed to be something else in his expression and voice then. He appeared ready to say goodbye to the Shock.
"I was," he confirms now.
Welcome to the world of Fresno State
Virtually the entire 2007-2008 season has been wiped away because Emma Andrews played a significant role on the team that year. The Bulldogs must vacate their WAC regular season Championship and WAC Tournament title as well as 29 regular season games, because Andrews (the team's starting point guard) should not have been playing.Apparently Andrews played some pro-ish ball in Australia. Which makes me wonder how or why the NCAA Clearinghouse (which is no longer called that) missed that fact.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
But it ain't all about the scoring. Argentina was forced into 28 turnovers (13 steals) and only shot 18.5%.
"Our game plan against Argentina was to keep the ball out of the middle of the floor, to trap on ball screens and we wanted to contain penetration," said Barbara Nelson, USA and Wingate University head coach. "Argentina has some very good guards that I thought we contained very well. We used our size to our advantage on defense tonight. Getting stops was key for us, and we played great defense."Next up for the U-16ers: Semi-finals against Brazil.
Men's basketball, which has a $4.4 million budget, was trimmed $137,786, or about 3.1 percent. Women's basketball saw its budget - about $2.6 million - cut $61,583, or about 2.4 percent.Specific cuts for both basketball teams will be determined after their schedules are released, Maryland officials said.
Other sports are affected as well. "We sought reductions of 9 percent of operating budgets from our Olympic sports," Eaton said. The Olympic sports include swimming and diving, track and field, gymnastics, tennis and other sports.
How many Atlanta Dream fans does it take to change a light bulb?
Four. One to change the bulb, and three to tell you how much better Ivory Latta would have done it.
How many New York Liberty fans does it take to change a light bulb?
None. The front office just traded the light bulb for a cinderblock.
Green, as in, being a newbie to the W at the point guard position. Ask Kristi Toliver: Chicago Sky's Kristi Toliver having tough transition to WNBA
While the Sky attempts to earn a first-ever playoff berth, Toliver has played sparingly (14.4 minutes per game) and did not play at all in Sunday's loss at Detroit.
"Derrick Rose did a great job with the Bulls...coming in, being the leader and being aggressive from the beginning," Toliver said of the Bulls' No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft. "That's something all rookies can learn from ... his example of really setting the tone early and coming out and playing hard."
But it's hard for any rookie to emulate his quick ascension to stardom, especially while fighting for the postseason.
Amber Gray had a ginger walk, an arm sling and a droopy eyelid, but anyone who ever saw the former Ohio prep basketball player of the year in action, would have immediately recognized that her fighting spirit remains intact.
The 19-year-old University of Tennessee basketball player predicted Tuesday during a press conference at the Drake Center that she would return to the sport she loves despite a broken blood vessel in her brain that caused a stroke and threatened her life.
His latest two blog entries:
Revisiting Rookie Point Guards: How Does Atlanta’s Shalee Lehning Compare to Her First Round Counterparts?
If you were to select a WNBA All-Rookie First and Second team, would Atlanta Dream point guard Shalee Lehning be on it?
And if not, why not?
What makes the question interesting to me is that for some reason, people tend to focus on every single one of Lehning’s deficiencies – athleticism, scoring ability, defense, not a fast break player – rather than the one thing she has clearly established the ability to do well: running a team.
Rookie Rankings: Can Anyone Dream of Catching DeWanna Bonner?
I started to write a rookie rankings post and ended up writing a long post about my thoughts on Atlanta Dream point guard Shalee Lehning.
To summarize the previous post, I found it curious that she was not listed in the latest rookie rankings on WNBA.com at all given that she’s a starter on a playoff caliber team that recently won four games in a row.
Tough crowd, I guess.
However, I have a hard time not putting her among the top ten rookies.
And all the NY Liberty fans sing, "I Love LA."
Deanna whistles, "Slow down, you move to fast," to the Mystics (and the DC Basketcases are singing, "The *game* that got aaaaaaway."
And, with the other Becky back, Sacramento belts out, "I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy" to the Silver Stars.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Earlier this summer, I got a thoughtful e-mail from a Houston Comets fan named Lindsey Densing. I don’t say “former” fan, because even though her team disbanded after last season, the feelings of a true fan don’t just go away. She still loves the Comets.
When I was doing a story recently for ESPN.com on how the current economic woes impact the WNBA, I asked Lindsey to expand on some of her thoughts about how she felt as a fan who was “left behind.”
She gave a great deal of thought to her answers, and I decided to post them in this blog rather than try to incorporate them into my ESPN.com story.
I am writing because I had very negative misconceptions and horrific judgments about the Phoenix Mercury and the WNBA. They are no more. On the contrary, I have a newfound respect for our Merc. Here, I will address them:
The Colorado Springs City Council voted to approve an agreement with the U.S. Olympic Committee that will provide a new headquarters building in downtown Colorado Springs, a National Governing Body building and fund $16 million in improvements at the Olympic Training Center. The agreement to keep the U.S. Olympic Committee in the city for the next 30 years was approved 8-1 by the Colorado Springs City Council in its regular Tuesday meeting.
"The USOC is grateful to the City Council and the citizens of Colorado Springs for this important step in our history," said USOC CEO Stephanie Streeter. "This has been our home for 32 years and will be for another 30 years because of today's action."
In an address to the City Council in the open session before the vote, USOC Chief Operating Officer Norm Bellingham thanked the city for its efforts.
"This is a very positive step for the USOC, the National Governing Bodies who are located here and the athletes who call Colorado Springs home," he said. "We are proud of our time in Colorado Springs but we are more excited about our future here and what it will mean to our organization, our staff and our athletes in this great setting. "
The city must now meet the following deadlines:
- Within 45 days of a signed agreement, the City must finance the purchase of the headquarters building through the issuance of Certificates of Participation.
- The City must secure $13 million of the $16 million for Olympic Training Center renovations in 90 days with a termination date of Dec. 31, 2009 if not secured.
- The City must complete construction of the Headquarters Building by March 31, 2010 and the NGB Building by Dec. 31, 2009.
The additional $3 million for Olympic Training Center improvements must be raised within 25 months of a signed agreement between the two parties. The USOC will be required to begin construction on the Olympic Training Center within four years from the receipt of all necessary construction approvals and permits. The USOC will select a construction company that will build housing units for athletes, including married athletes and Paralympic athletes. The new construction will increase the housing capacity from 515 to 761.
Also included in the construction will be the renovation and expansion of the existing Athlete Center and the Visitors Center and related infrastructure.
Oh, and LLL hit a bit of a milestone:
Running up and down the court, Sparks center Lisa Leslie couldn't understand why her husband, Michael Lockwood, showed six fingers from his courtside seat.
It meant she was on the verge of surpassing 6,000 career points during her 13 seasons with the WNBA. Instead of taking time to connect the dots, however, Leslie turned around and released a 12-foot jumper as the shot clock expired with 11.9 seconds left in the second quarter. Then she realized that wasn't just a jump shot that gave the Sparks a 37-20 lead.
"I had no idea," she said following the Sparks' 75-63 victory over the Indiana Fever. "That’s a good thing or else I probably wouldn’t have made the basket."
Monday, August 10, 2009
USA Women Open FIBA Americas U16 Championship With 128-17 Blowout Over Dominican Republic
The Mystics (11-10) have already surpassed last year's win total, and entering Tuesday night's game against the Detroit Shock, they are averaging 11,559 fans, which is tops in the WNBA. That represents a 39 percent jump in attendance over last season, when the Mystics averaged 8,314 fans through the first 11 home games. Washington's ticket revenue is up 23 percent, according to Greg Bibb, the Mystics' chief operating officer.
Her appointment makes her the first female chief executive of any national intercollegiate athletic association in the United States.
Leicht said being the first female appointed to the position helps break down barriers for women in college athletic and administrative ranks.
"I hope that by the time young women get to a position where they can make a choice where they can apply for a position in upper management that there is no longer a question of whether or not they're male or female.
"You have so many young girls and women looking at athletics knowing they can actually have a career beyond college athletics. Whether it's coaching or officiating or administration, I think those numbers are going to grow, and colleges on all levels will recognize the benefits of a female coach on their staff."
With 12 seconds left and the game tied at 87, San Antonio Silver Stars’ All-Star guard Becky Hammon stood near the mid-court line and faced up one-on-one against Minnesota rookie forward Rashanda McCants.
As she dribbled the clock down to about 7 seconds before really making a move to initiate a play, it seemed logical that the Silver Stars had put the ball in Hammon’s hands to take the final shot.
And why not?
Hammon is one of the craftiest offensive weapons in the WNBA and a rookie didn't seem to stand a chance against her.
He also gets righteously cranky (GO Q!): "Got Recess?": Which Schools are Denying Youth Recess? And Why?
I am as passionate about youth development as I am about sports.
I even think that the two conceptual spaces intersect: participation in sports – even as the awkward lanky kid who gets picked last – has value for youth development.
So if you ever want to get me really fired up and angry, ask me about any of the following four things:
1. The fact that we live in a nation that seems almost indifferent to the education of our youth.
2. The arrogance of pre-service teachers who treat teaching like it’s day care with better benefits.
3. The semi-professionalization of youth sports, perpetuated by the ridiculous parents who curse and fight at their ten-year-old’s sporting events.
4. The ridiculous trend in our country to remove recess and physical education from schools.
Last night, Gretzky got me talking about trigger #4 by telling me about a July 28th article in USA Today about childhood obesity.
The last two weeks have been sort of vacation time for me, hence not a daily blog activity. However, there are a whole bunch of subjects I will endeavor to get to this week and next, including a long-promised look at Baylor and Texas (I really didn’t forget), a chat with former K-State favorite Megan Mahoney (who is still a pro player, just not in the WNBA), some interesting thoughts of a WNBA fan without a team (still missing the Comets) and a few other things that have piled up in my brain or on my desk.
She also takes time to write about 'ice and Big Syl in Chicago for ESPN.com.
They got to know each other years ago, as basketball prodigies growing up in Florida. It has been only as Chicago Sky teammates, though, that Candice Dupree and Sylvia Fowles have really gotten to know each others' games.
And the 6-foot-2 Dupree realized that she would have to change her game to best mesh with the 6-6 Fowles. She would need to develop a face-up game that included a dependable 3-point shot.
Dupree was 1-of-17 from behind the arc over her first three WNBA seasons combined. This season, she's 18-of-42 (43 percent), already surpassing the Sky coaching staff's hope that she would take at least 40 3-point attempts in 2009.
1) Ouch. Connecticut stomped all over the Mystics, 96-67. In the "Indiana and everyone else sweepstakes," that puts the Sun and Washington in a tie for second place in the Eastern Conference.
2) A different kind of ouch. A last second shot by Wauters doused the Lynx, 89-87. Remember that red-hot start the Lynx had, pre-Augustus' injury? They've now lost six of its last eight.
3) In Detroit, Zellous rediscovered her touch (19 points on 8-of-16 shooting) and the Shock dumped the Sky, 64-58.
Of note: this is the first time this event will be held. The Jones Cup, which featured college and high school players, stopped being organized/managed by USA Basketball in 2000.
New York Liberty president and general manager Carol Blazejowski announced today that Laurie Byrd has been named interim assistant coach for the remainder of the season. As per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.FWIW, Jayda says coaches will only have one assistant next year. YIKES!
Byrd will assist interim head coach Anne Donovan in player development, game preparation and scouting, in addition to planning practices and individual player workouts.
The Flint, MI native was an assistant coach with the Detroit Shock for three seasons (2003-2005), which included the 2003 WNBA Championship title. In 2007, she joined the Houston Comets as the director of player personnel and was promoted to assistant coach the next season. Byrd first entered the coaching ranks at the University of Detroit as an assistant for three seasons (1999-00, 2000-01, 2001-02).
Sunday, August 09, 2009
1) With the Lib on the road, fans are finding they love Sacramento, Seattle not so much.
2) In what many are probably anticipating will be a preview of the WNBA Finals (there, have I put the kibosh on both teams?), Jessica Moore had the kind of night that make GMs feel brilliant (6/8, 7-8 FTs and 8 rebounds) and the Fever defeated the Mercury (in AZ), 90-83.
Katie Douglas didn't have too bad a game, neither: a career-high six 3-pointers, 28 points, 10 rebounds and five assists
Said Taurasi, post-game:
3) Glad to see the .com took the opening when the opportunity for the best headline arose (pun intended): Sky Stick a Thorn into Dream.
"They came out in a blaze of glory. They played a good game, we didn't. They capitalized on things that they saw. They were putting it up and they were going in, getting to the free-throw line. They did what they do.''
Erin Thorn had a season-high 20 points, and Chicago recovered after losing a 16-point lead to beat Atlanta 82-80 on Saturday night, ending the Dream's franchise-record winning streak at four games.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
Conference Semifinals (Highest seeds home for last two). First Set (teams obviously to be determined) Wednesday-Sept. 16, Friday-Sept 18 (for co-religionist that is the evening start of the Jewish New Year), and, if necessary, Sunday, Sept. 20. Second Set: Thursday,-Sept. 17, Saturday-Sept. 19, and, if neceesary Monday, Sept. 21.
Conference Finals (highest seeds home for last two): Wednesday-Sept. 23; Friday-Sept. 25, and if necessary, Saturday-Sept. 26 (which might be the first time in a long time a potential Game 3 comes back-to-back, but we may be wrong. The other religious date in that period, incidentally, comes just afterwaqrds.
WNBA Finals with highest seed home for first two and last: Tuesday-Sept. 29, Thursday-Oct. 1, Sunday-Oct. 4, Wednesday-Oct. 7, Friday-Oct. 9 (one week before NCAA midnight madness). And no, in the face of economic cutbacks, the league will not be busing between cities, although some media types may have to resort to hitchhiking and finding WNBA fans willing to provide housing. (Just a little Guru humor).
Notes the Star Tribune:
The average attendance this season for the Lynx is 7,428, up from 6,289 last year. The average paid attendance is up 24 percent, the second-highest increase in the WNBA. The Lynx is second in the league in group sales, selling more than 2,200 tickets per game, compared to 1,087 per game last season.
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
You can see all the other candiates and vote here.
However, I also realize that most people don't feel the same way about basketball as I do (they might actually have lives). In fact, some people seem to harbor resentment not only for women's basketball, but also that whole gender equity agenda thing that some people still believe is reserved for radical man-hating feminists.
So the very idea of a male women's sports fan is laughable to many people. Sadly, some individuals seem to enjoy going out of their way to demean female athletes and dismiss women's sports as irrelevant. And while I strongly believe that everybody is entitled to their own (defensible) opinion, openly disrespecting individuals who are performing at the top of their profession is just unnecessary.
So when I saw a link to an article on the Soccer Science blog entitled, “One Man’s Struggles With WPS Fandom: Does Liking Women’s Soccer Make You Gayer?” I was at once intrigued and wary of yet another insecure sexist rant.
Of course, I clicked.
Sometimes before auto races, a driver and a team will be certain they have the best car. They’ve figured out just the right set-up for the track, the driver loves the speedway, the engine is running top-notch, everything seems nearly perfect. They think the only thing that can keep them from winning is calamity: a wreck that can’t be avoided, someone else’s mistake ending up costing them.
Otherwise, the victory will be theirs.
The Phoenix Mercury should be feeling a lot like this now. The Merc just completed a five-game road trip Tuesday with a 101-90 overtime victory at Seattle.
FIBA Americas today conducted the draw for the 2009 FIBA Americas U16 Championship for Women, and the USA was placed in Group B along with Argentina, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Group A includes Canada, Brazil, Guatemala and host country Mexico.
The 2009 zone qualifier will be played on Aug. 10-14 at Juan de la Barrera Gym in Mexico City, Mexico, with the top three finishing teams qualifying for the 2010 FIBA U17 World Championship, scheduled for July 16-25 in Toulouse and Rodez, France.
Within moments of being formally introduced as the new executive director for Kidsports on Tuesday, former Oregon basketball player and coach Bev Smith was getting her new ducks in a row.
Registration deadlines for the fall football and soccer seasons are looming, Smith noted. And two important fundraisers are coming up for the nonprofit that provides about 15,000 kids per year with the chance to participate in sports. In the midst of the national economic funk, to boot.
“We understand that,” Smith said. “But I can’t think of a better time to continue to provide opportunities for young kids to choose a healthy, constructive, socially important pathway for playing and moving their bodies with Kidsports.”
No disrespect intended to Sidney Spencer, but I wonder how much Blaze is missing her first round draft pick.
Oh, and I know it takes longer for posts to adjust to the W, but how much is Blaze enjoying watching Zellous play?
And considering that this is probably the same team she'll inherit next season (and, most likely, be evicted from the Garden because of renovations), I'm wondering how long and hard coach D will consider any 2010 head coach offers from NY.
Sigh. Apologies, but we Lib fans are kinda cranky at the moment.
Speaking of cranky,in LA, Lisa was back after her seven week knee sprain, but she wasn't able to help the Sparks to a victory. San Antonio escaped with a 63-59 season and, if there's wasn't such a disappointing regular season, record-wise (9-10), you know Becky (20pts) would be amongst the to candidates for MVP. Parity sucks, no?
Seattle fans got a great game, but saw their team lose as the Mercury exploded in overtime to grab a 101-90 victory. Ten players were in double figures including Penny Taylor (oh, oh) and Tanisha Wright (what!)
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
On Monday, October 19 - The lecture, titled Facing Off Over Facebook: The Impact of Social Media on Women Sport, will feature sport journalism scholar Marie Hardin, Star Tribune sport columnist Rachel Blount and three-time ice hockey Olympic medalist and current U of MN graduate student Angela Ruggiero.
If you watched the Liberty-Dream game on Saturday, you heard about a book from Vera Jones - Play Through the Foul - Basketball Lessons for the Game of Life.
Mel gives us the heads up on an upcoming book - Leader of the Pack: The Legacy of Legendary Coach Kay Yow.
Saw a funny editorial out of New Zealand a while ago and tucked it away thinking I should blog about it--then, of course, I forgot about it.
But it's too good not to share so please check out the Kiwi humor (or humour) about women's sports, homosexuality, and skirts. Apparently a team of netballers in New Zealand has been ordered out of their shorts and into short skirts.
The editorialist talks about Wimbledon's recent scheduling of the pretty people and Mary Jo Kane's research on how sex does not sell women's sports and the general fear of non-feminine women and its effect on women's sports. All in an incredibly sarcastic and witty way!