Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Ratings and viewership for Game 1 of the WNBA Finals on ESPN2 were up 39 percent (.43 rating vs. .31 rating for Game 1 of the '08 WNBA Finals) and 59 percent respectively (555,000 viewers vs. 348,000 viewers), making Game 1 the most viewed WNBA game on cable since Game 4 of the '07 WNBA Finals (Shock vs. Mercury) on ESPN2 (669,000).
Here's the Game 1 replay.
Anyone else encountering a lot of "first time I've watched a W game"? Very cool!
Her team took a big lead early on, making the Mercury's defense look nonexistent; the Fever rang up 105 points in regulation, 116 in OT.
And yet Phoenix won. The combination of close competition, with lead change after lead change; individual skills and dramatic moves, from Douglas, Hoffman, Penny, Cappie, Brianne January and DT; the Merc's usual high-speed, offense-first style; and overtime after Douglas's last-chance trey made the game one of the best in the history of the WNBA.
As Mechelle says, it's hard to write about such games-- but it's pretty great to get the chance.
And, of course, the losing team's not smiling. Catchings blames herself: "Ebony had a great game, Tammy [Sutton-Brown] had a great game, Katie did her thing," Catch said. "I let my team down."
Most observers expected Indy-- known for their defense, and for trying to win from the line-- to slow the game down; instead, the Fever kept up with the Mercury's pace.
It was apparently the highest-scoring game in the history of the league: no team had scored over 115 before; only once did both teams break 110, and that was in triple OT. "If you didn't like women's basketball," coach Gaines said, "you do now."
It's past time to catch up with Pelton's finals preview, as good an example as you can get of what knowledgeable fans expected before last night. Kevin picked the Mercury in five. I wonder whether the Fever have had their best shot (56% shooting!)-- or whether the serious home crowd in Indianapolis might be all the home team, in games three and four, need.
Want to know how a WNBA team does against a big, hostile crowd? Look at how they fared in the reg-season against Seattle: the Mercury won there once before LJ went out, but they needed overtime then, too.
Want to read even more about last night's adventure? Q (who might just put us out of business) has more links. One interesting catch: Fever owner Mel Simon doesn't quite promise to keep the team around next year, but he certainly sounds optimistic now.
Phoenix Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry followed in Steve Kerr’s footsteps and went ALL IN for the Phoenix Mercury’s WNBA Finals appearance. Gentry has purchased the upper level of US Airways Center for Game 2 vs. Indiana Fever on Thursday, Oct. 1 at 6 p.m. The 7,000 seats are available on a first come, first served basis starting tomorrow at 10 a.m. at the US Airways Center ticket office.
“After watching the game from San Diego and feeling the playoff atmosphere from the crowd, I wanted to show my support for these ladies. We see the hard work they put in on the practice court and in the weight room, and I encourage people to take this opportunity to witness what we see every day,” said Gentry. “I respect and admire Coach Gaines’ position right now and hope that the Suns find the chemistry the Mercury have this season.”
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
With the 2010 FIBA World Championship now less than one year away, the USA Basketball Women's National Team, led by UConn mentor and six-time NCAA champion Geno Auriemma , will kick off its training in the nation's capitol on Sept. 30. The USA will train Sept. 30 - Oct. 5 in Washington, D.C.
The team's training ishighlighted by the 2009 USA Basketball Fall Showcase on Oct. 4, an open practice for military families and an evening with the MLB Washington Nationals. Don't miss your chance to catch up with Olympic gold medalsts, national champions and some of the top players in the world during the training camp in D.C.
To purchase tickets, go to www.nationals.com/tickets, click the "T" icon just to the left of the game listing. On the ticket order page, use the coupon code USA and then click Continue just below it.Discounted seating options of $18 & $22 will then appear.
Tickets for the USA Basketball Women's National Team 2009 Fall Showcase are only $5 and available by calling 202-885-TIXX or online at www.AUeagles.com. Children six and under will be admitted free of charge.
USA Basketball has a long-standing commitment to the servicemen and women who serve our country as members of the U.S. Armed Forces. In an effort to continue to give back to our troops, following its Thursday, Oct. 1 practice the USA Basketball National Team will visit with patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
On Saturday, Oct. 3, the team will host an open practice at Walter Reed's Wagner Gym for military members and their families, and following practice a basketball clinic for approximately 75 children of miliary members will be held. The USA practice will be from approximately 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and the clinic is slated to be held 2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m.
"Anything you can do I can do better, I can do anything better than you!"
Suns General Manager Steve Kerr Buys Out Upper Level For Mercury Finals Game
"Larry Bird purchased the upper level for the Fever's Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals in Indiana and I want to show the same support for our amazing Mercury," said Kerr. "Both of us were part of championship teams and understand the importance of a packed house. For anyone who doubts the WNBA level of play, this is an opportunity to see for yourself. I challenge any doubters to come see the talent, skill and intensity on the court."
I think there's something to be said for "old school" male players stepping up to support the W - be it Bird, Kerr or Magic (who, if you didn't catch the game on TV, chose to attend the LA game at Pauley instead of the Hall of Fame induction ceremony so that he could honor Lisa Leslie).
So, here's my new catch phrase: "The WNBA - for those who love the game between the dunks."
"What went through my mind was: 'You disappointed yourself more than anyone else,' " Taurasi said. "Everyone always worries, 'What are other people going to think?' Well, if you don't feel it, it doesn't matter what anybody else thinks. But I genuinely, really, down deep inside was as disappointed as I've ever been in myself about anything.
"It definitely changed me. Not changed me like I started going to church every Sunday. But it made me realize every decision I make from here on out is gonna reflect on me. Whether that's really 'me' or not. I don't like to base a person's character or personality on one moment in their life, because I think that's a little severe. But a lot of the people who don't know you might take that as the only thing you've done in your life. That's not what I wanted it to be like."
Monday, September 28, 2009
Depth, cohesion carry Mercury, Fever
Series Preview: Phoenix Mercury vs. Indiana Fever
Finals matchup with Mercury to be an up-and-down affair
Fever Advance to WNBA Finals with a Balanced Attack
WNBA Finals Preview: A First Blush
Fever Finally Top Shock; Advance to First-Ever WNBA Finals
Eastern Conference Finals: Indiana Fever 72 vs Detroit Shock 67 gallery
Bird & Dee Blog
Mercury show versatility at right time
Fairfield and Auburn star Dewanna Bonner closes in on WNBA Rookie of the Year award
Teamwork Key for Mercury Success
Mercury Jump On Sparks Early to End Leslie’s Career in Phoenix
Phoenix Mercury WCF Post Game Celebration gallery
Western Conference Finals: Phoenix Mercury 85 vs. Los Angeles Sparks 74 gallery
Those other folks
Shock in unfamiliar role: Sitting out the Finals
Once a ‘Bad Boy,’ Detroit Shock’s Rick Mahorn Becomes a Father Figure
Kathy Goodman: It's a wrap for Sparks
Lisa’s Last Stand: Step By Step
DeLisha Milton-Jones: The Soul Provider
Did you catch Lisa Leslie's post-game comments? Eloquent and, for some, a tad eyebrow (however plucked) raising.
Oh, and you might hear Mechelle V and some other mouthy broad tomorrow at 7:40amESTish talking about the Championships on NPR/WNYC's radio show The Takeaway.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
ESPN, like almost all big-media outlets, pays attention to viewer and reader feedback: it's a good time to thank them for covering the WNBA. And to ask for more.
Most of the books on Keri Mikulski's list of recommendations at Pretty Tough sound like YA novels through and through; anyone read any? which ones sound good? The same site promotes Liz Tigelaar's YA series too: we'd love to know if they're brilliant, exploitative, challenging, predictable, not really for young readers, not really for grownups, etc. Write if you've read 'em.
I'm in the middle of P.V. Beck's Sweet Turnaround J, so far a meticulous, week-by-week, game-by-game account of a fictional HS hoops season.
As is their wont, Diana & company ran rings around the visitors: the Merc led at the half by 16, and played the Sparks even the rest of the way.
It was Lisa Leslie's last game ever: both she and Candace Parker fouled out.
"I have no regrets," LLL said. "Every time I stepped on the court, I played as hard as I could."
Leslie says she's retiring from pro basketball (not just from the WNBA; some 'retired' players keep going in Europe): new-ish fans may not remember how recently LLL was its most famous name. "She's been the face of the game for a long time," Cappie Pondexter said, "and it's well deserved."
Indy's starters plus Bri January (whom I like more every time I see her take charge) shot a combined 27-28 from the line: enough to prevail in a very tough, very close contest, despite scoring just one field goal in the last nine minutes.
Detroit fans ask if their team suffered from lack of depth. But the real determinants of Detroit's success in close games are (a) Nolan's long-range shooting, (b) turnovers and miscommunications, and (c) how physically the game is called.
Other teams' fans have long accused the Shock of knocking opponents down over and over and pretty much daring the refs to call what they see: if you've already given one team 20 more fouls than their opponents, it can get psychologically harder to call #21. (Shock fans, respond with some justice, that Cheryl Ford is just stronger and tougher than the people she's matched against.)
Whatever the justice in such argument, it's clear that the Shock do worse when a game gets called tightly, and that the Fever do well. "It was frustrating to see the Fever shoot all the free throws," said Detroit's Hornbuckle. "But we were the ones playing the defense, and we were the ones turning the ball over."
It's also clear that the Fever's home advantage helped. "When the game was on the line, the fans came alive," said coach Dunn. "And I really think they shook the Shock down the stretch."
Considering the team's financial worries, Indy columnist Bob Kravitz goes further: "This might have been the night that saved the Indiana Fever."
Saturday, September 26, 2009
In a new piece posted on the Tucker Center Web site, I share research by the Curley Center that compares the attitudes of journalists and bloggers toward women's sports and Title IX.
It turns out that they're quite similar, which may explain why so much of what we see in new media looks like what we see in old media. Another dynamic driving the tone in the sports blogosphere is the fact that it's still dominated by men -- almost to the exact same degree as that found in newspaper sports departments. What we need to explore is why women, when the institutional barriers to employment are removed, generally shy away from writing and commentating about sports -- despite the fact that Title IX has turned sports into a way of life for millions.
Tamika got the Defensive Player of the Year award and then proved she had a little offensive prowess by dropping 22. Though there was a moment in the third when she dropped to the ground after a Hornbuckle foul when her teammates and the Indy fans held their collective breaths.
Catch got up, then nailed the free throws, came up with a steal that led to an assist on a January three and suddenly the Fever had the lead. They never relinquished it, and the 79-75 victory will force a decisive game 3 tonight.
I'd bet tonight's outcome will depend on whether or not Detroit's post game (Ford/Braxton a combined 17pts) can compliment the game Nolan and Zellous are bringing.
Oh, and some guy called Bird bought 9,000 tickets for tonight's game. Guess he used to play basketball or something. Couldn't have been very watchable since he didn't dunk, though....
In the land of the Sun, Los Angles streaked out to a huge first quarter lead and then played point-trading for the next three, coming away with a 87-76 win. Parker had a monster game (24pts/18rebs), Leslie found 20pts of offense and Betty dropped in 17.
For Phoenix, it was all Pondexter and Taurasi (who fouled out for a second straight game) with a little Tangela thrown in.
Though the Merc's bench didn't score much, they did actually play significant minutes (56 split between four players) compared to LA's (34 split between two players). With the games being back to back, I wonder how the Sparks' legs will feel in the fourth quarter?
From the highway (?) Kathy starts writing:
As I was sitting in the parking lot that passes for the 405 Freeway these days, fighting my way to airport, I reflected back that that was how my first blog this season began. I was nervous heading into Game 2 of the Western Conference finals against Phoenix. I had plenty of time to think about the upcoming game (does it really need to take 90 minutes to go 15 miles on that freeway?), and I knew we could beat Phoenix if we played our game, instead of trying to play theirs.From Arizona, Mechelle writes:
What it meant to Lisa Leslie for Los Angeles to win 87-76 on Friday in Phoenix goes without saying. And the fact is, Leslie really hasn't said much about it to her teammates.
Sure, it's the unspoken weight every Spark carries, to some extent, but Leslie isn't putting it on their shoulders. At 37 and a lock to someday be in every possible basketball hall of fame she's eligible for, Leslie is going about her business the same as always.
Warming up before Game 2 of the Western Conference finals, with one more loss meaning the end of her season and career, Leslie looked completely calm.
"I don't feel emotional about it," she said before tipoff. "I just feel like, 'This is what I do, and I'm trying to do my best. I want to finish up strong.' Being down, having to come here and we need to win two … it's not impossible."
Friday, September 25, 2009
Fever recognize recovery is possible
Tamika Must Lead for Fever to Catch Up
Mayor Ballard declares Sept. 25 "Fever Friday"
Mercury Get Contributions From Many in Game 1 Victory
Pondexter A Student Of The Game
Dynamic duo powering Mercury
At 100 points per game the Mercury could be changing everything
Detroit’s Zellous Makes Opponents Take Notice
Lofty honor for Shock's Zellous
Fever might regret overlooking Shock's Shavonte Zellous
Disney takes Palace; Shock might play Finals games at EMU
Shock may have to relocate because of Disney
Catchings' Fever, Leslie's Sparks must win Friday
Michael Cooper optimistic about Sparks' chances
The Fabulous Forum: Kathy Goodman: The hard way
You’ve got to hand it to Phoenix. They make even the loser’s stat sheet look good. I mean, we out-rebounded them 40-26. Candace Parker and Tina Thompson set career highs in playoff points and field goals made. We had four of our five starters in double-digit scoring. We scored a huge 94 points. If only the Phoenix Mercury hadn’t scored 103, we would have left the arena feeling pretty good.
From Mechelle, who'll be in Arizona today:
when I got the call Thursday morning from my editor that someone (or multiple someones) in Bristol decided I should go to Phoenix, I was really pleased. Because it meant that with all that is going on in the sports world that, quite frankly, gets far more readership than what I cover, there was still recognition that the story lines involving Leslie, Parker, Taurasi and their teams were worthwhile of attention.
I’m explaining all this because I think it’s important for readers to know that their feedback really is crucial. Coverage of women’s sports isn’t a given, folks. It never was, and the way things have been going economically, it has become more imperiled (at least from the standpoint of writers.)
Thursday, September 24, 2009
There probably are lots of teams in the WNBA that wished they had drafted Shavonte Zellous right about now.*whimper*
CP and DT scored 28 apiece; Swish Appeal's Mike Lisboa asks, "Can we put them in the Hall of Fame tomorrow?"
The game took place not in Staples (thanks to a Britney Spears concert) but in UCLA's famed Pauley Pavilion: Diana, who hails from SoCal, looked comfortable enough. "I've come to Pauley since I was twelve," she said.
Also from Swish Appeal: Q on the baffling powers of Deanna Nolan. Sometimes I think Detroit could win about half their games with a starting five consisting of Nolan, Ford, any player selected randomly from any other team's roster, and both of my cats. (I know it's not true-- Nolan just makes it look that way.)
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
The Shock have a record of 10 and 2 in the last month. Indiana are under .500 for the same period.
Detroit have eliminated Indiana each time those teams have met in the postseason.
The Shock came within one Cappie Pondexter layup of three-peating in 2006-08.
This year, they beat Phoenix the last time these teams met; the Shock also crushed L.A. in June, with neither team at full strength (though the early-season Shock also lost first games with both teams).
Voepel, who hates making predictions, pointed out last week that the Shock can beat anybody. Detroit have often taken a cat-and-mouse approach to big games, spotting opponents a quarter, or a dozen points, then roaring back for a win; did the Shock bring that attitude to a whole season?
Did anyone, last week, pick Detroit to repeat? And does anyone doubt, given what's needed in Indy, and given the drawing power of Candace Parker, that Detroit vs. Phoenix (again) is the championship series that David Stern and Donna Orender least want to see?
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Anyhoo - so I'm reading the article by Chris Sheridan, "a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com" and I find myself getting cranky. Now, I have no dog in this hunt and I'm not sure why it's sticking in my craw so, but here goes.
The article opens (my bold):
The lead negotiator for locked-out NBA referees finds it "amazing" that a former referee at the center of a controversial job action nearly six years ago is on the league's preliminary list of replacement officials.
Michael Henderson is the referee in question, and the league's locked-out officials are particularly steamed that he might be wearing a whistle around his neck again after they stuck out their necks to support him earlier this decade.Sheridan then goes on to recount the (fascinating) tale of an on-court protest. After reading the story, one might understand the outrage of union leader Lamell McMorris.
"They went out even though they were risking their jobs, and it's just absolutely amazing that now he is going to go and replace them."And then:
Henderson was fired by the NBA in 2005. McMorris believes the league would have fired him a year earlier if not for the inside-out jersey protest.
Henderson, a 10th-round draft pick by the New York Knicks in 1984 who later officiated in the USBL and NBDL before being hired by the NBA, did not reply to e-mail, text and voice messages.
"We reached out to Michael Henderson because he is someone who has experience reffing NBA games, and we actually feel that makes him an ideal candidate," said NBA executive Joel Litvin,
I mean, I guess my blood might boil too... if I there were ANY evidence that Mr. Henderson had expressed ANY interest in officiating again for the League. The LEAGUE put the list together. The League REACHED OUT to Henderson. We have no idea what Henderson is thinking, feeling or doing about the offer from the LEAGUE because he DID NOT REPLY to ESPN's calls.
Oiy. Tempest, meet teapot.
It's silly enough that union leader McMorris was gettin' all het up and overwrought what with recalling the emotions of the past and jumping to all sorts of conclusions and waving unhappy fingers in the general direction of Mr. Henderson's face.
But that Mr. Sheridan should put this in print without any attempt at a "reality check" smacks of the kind of lazy-a$$, hysteria-mongering writing that gives journalists (and journalism) a bad rap. It's written to incite, not educate.
Until you know the facts, go after the LEAGUE for the list, not the people ON the list.
Character assassination may make for good copy, but it sure makes for questionable ethics.
Jayne Appel (Stanford / Pleasant Hill, Calif.);
Alana Beard (Washington Mystics);
Swin Cash (Seattle Storm);
Tina Charles (Connecticut / Jamaica, N.Y.);
Shameka Christon (New York Liberty);
Candice Dupree (Chicago Sky);
Lindsey Harding (Washington Mystics);
Ebony Hoffman (Indiana Fever);
Asjha Jones (Connecticut Sun);
Crystal Langhorne (Washington Mystics);
Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream);
Maya Moore (Connecticut / Lawrenceville, Ga.);
Lindsay Whalen (Connecticut Sun);
Candice Wiggins (Minnesota Lynx).
We knew about the collegians already and I believe Lindsay is unable to attend due to an eye injury suffered during a W game.
Also in Seattle, Jayda picks Phoenix over L.A. and Indy over Phoenix (which means she thinks Indy can beat Detroit twice), and Pelton notes Swin's reunion with Geno in DC, where Cash (and Bird) practice with the U.S. national team. Will the Basket Cases be able to check out an open practice?
Both teams played Phoenix-style basketball, and until the fourth quarter, the SASS kept up; in a game with plenty of scrambles, plenty of fast breaks, and plenty of breathtaking long-range jump shots, Diana scored 30. Becky scored 29. Vicki Johnson, playing in her last-ever game, scored 24. "The way we play," said DT, "you always have opportunities."
The Merc found their opportunities on the offensive glass, against the worst rebounding team in the league; they now have the opportunity to stop the supposedly unstoppable Candace Parker, and to end Lisa Leslie's WNBA career.
What to expect? The past provides no guide: L.A. lost to Phoenix three times in the regular season, each time without Parker or else without Leslie available; the Sparks defeated the Mercury in September, but in that game, Diana never took the floor.
Monday, September 21, 2009
She wasn't talking about her own play, though; she was talking about the officiating, which produced a festival of fouls early on: Pee Wee Johnson ended up fouling out of her last-ever game. The announcers agreed that it made for bad TV, even if the officials had to call what they thought they saw; Q calls their behavior a disaster. It certainly made for an ugly first half.
Had L.A. lost, it would have been the last game of Leslie's career as well. As it is, the iconic Olympian and her yellow-and-purple teammates await the winner of tonight's game three in the Valley of the Sun, where a deep bench this year has helped Phoenix keep their speedy style all game. "No matter what five [Mercury players] are in there, we feel comfortable," Diana says.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
It's fun to blow people's mind by telling them women have played basketball since 1892. It's great to read books on the people and politics of the women's game. And while questions like Trivial Pursuit questions like ""Who was the first woman to sign a contract with the NBA?" may be a slam dunk for people like me, I know it's not true for most of the US sports world.
So "Yeah!" for any time we're reminded about the great past of women's basketball. Be it Jenny B. naming post-plays after Monarch greats, or Ken Tulio writing about Annie Meyers:
In September of 1979, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird arrived at their first NBA preseason training camps as two of the most eagerly anticipated college draft picks in the history of the league. That same autumn there was another rookie participating in a NBA preseason camp who also captured the imagination of fans throughout the country. However, there was one major difference: This player was a woman.Tullo is a Los Angeles-based sports TV producer who is writing a book and producing a movie about Meyers' tryout. I sure hope spends some time on Meyers' AAU years:
For three days, a 5-foot-9, 135-pound woman competed fiercely against men, most of whom were almost a foot taller and 100 pounds heavier. Over the years this feat has been buried beneath a barrage of blogs and 24-hour sports networks, but it still lurks in the public's consciousness - if only in a turn of a card.
“Cypress was pretty packed. But Allentown was packed to the gills,” remembered Patty Meyers. Her sister Ann, though, wondered if they were there for another reason, namely their bright yellow uniforms. “When we ordered them, they were designed like a sports bra — it scooped in on your shoulders,” explained Meyers. “When they arrived, we had one medium top and bottom and the rest were small. Now, you’re talking about we had some good-sized ladies on our team. Believe me, we complained. ‘We can’t wear these!’ We were trying to stretch theses things out hoping we weren’t going to tear them. It was like, ‘Oh, maaaaaaan.’ But what were you going to do? We didn’t have any money. We were on a budget. This is what we ordered, this is what they sent and this is what we had to fit in to. And,” she added with a grin, “we were the team from California. You don’t think people came out to see us play?”
“Anna’s Bananas,” deadpanned Lieberman. “The team with a-peel.”
"We made shots," Mercury coach Corey Gaines said of the difference between this win and Thursday's Game 1 loss. "When you make shots on offense, it puts a lot of pressure on the defense of the other team. When you make shots, things get easier. Your defense gets better. Everything is easier."Added coach Dan:
“I thought Phoenix did a great job of coming out and being the aggressor,” Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes said. “They delivered. From an offensive perspective, they were extremely aggressive. They converted shots consistently. I thought we came out offensively (OK), but defensively we had no answer in getting the game under control from a tempo standpoint.”I'm guessing Detroit and Indy will enjoy watching Seattle, LA, (5pm EST ESPN2) Phoenix and San Antonio beat each other up for an extra game.
Down 9 in the fourth, home court (9,655 in the seats) was key for Indy.
"I thought every time we started to make a rally, the crowd really got behind us," Fever coach Lin Dunn said.Tully (see, I told you the Lib need an Aussie) had a great extra period to make sure Catchings effort (24pt, 16reb, 5 assists, 4 steals, 4 blocks) didn't go to waste.
"We did not shoot as well as we have in the past, but we found a way to win," Fever coach Lin Dunn. "Tully Bevilaqua sparked us with her defense, had rebounds and showed toughness. Tammy Sutton-Brown was a warrior out there. Tamika Catchings had a magnificent, MVP performance."
Saturday, September 19, 2009
And then, Little made an improbable steal, Wright somehow found a way to get it back to her and then...holy kamole, we've got a Game 3.
No Game 3 for Atlanta, though.
“We had so many opportunities to make something happen, and we just did not do it,” Meadors said. “Whether we had tired legs, and we were obviously a step slower than we were [in Game 1], we just did not make it happen. That said, we had a great season. And I don’t want to take anything away from that.”Rick Mahorn is probably thinking, "I should knock Deanna Nolan on the head before EVERY game."
Me, I'm thinking -- Nolan plus four scrubs against anyone, and I'm betting on Tweety's team.
Friday, September 18, 2009
The teams looked evenly matched until Indiana's 11-0 fourth quarter run; Catchings scored 29, January (who has looked very good each time I've seen her) 16.
Also noteworthy: the Fever got some minutes from all 11 players who suited up. That kind of depth is going to be pretty useful if Indy gets into a series against the suddenly thriving Shock.
The SASS played good defense on Cappie, befuddled DT, and seemed able to match the Mercury's pace; the Merc, for their part, got fine play out of Penny Taylor, but ended the game with the apparently inexplicable decision not to foul with twenty-odd seconds left and trailing by four.
Penny hit a three at the buzzer, and at least one of her teammates celebrated, exactly as if she had tied the game: did the coaching staff, too, think the Merc trailed by three, not by four?
Thursday, September 17, 2009
If you follow politics, but you don't follow men's sports, you may be more familiar with the figure behind SBNation than you think.
And if you are familiar with SB Nation (which began, I think, as a big set of baseball fan sites) you know that this is a step forward re: attention to women's hoops, and especially to the WNBA, since Q will make the move (and Swish Appeal has already launched) in time for the playoffs.
And now I'm wondering (a) which, if any, of my other favorite hoops writers will join the site, and (b) how long it will take them to change the unfortunate name.
In a related topic, if you live in, or anywhere near, the Twin Cities, and you plan to go hear this panel, do let us know what they say.
We can only hope Brand’s replacement is as committed as he was to women’s sports. Brand consistently spoke with power and eloquence in defense of Title IX. That included condemning the ridiculous e-mail survey that the Department of Education introduced in 2005 as a way for schools to measure compliance with Title IX.
In the eight years of the Bush Administration, the Department of Education tried very hard to go through the back door a couple of times to effectively weaken Title IX and make schools feel that they were on “better” legal ground if they were ever faced with a Title IX lawsuit.
The survey essentially sought to make women “prove” they were interested in sports while not making men do the same thing. Brand was very firm in saying this was absolutely counterproductive to the mission of athletic departments. And whenever university administrators used the tired old platitudes about how it was Title IX’s “fault” that something happened, Brand would always call them out for it.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
The WNBA concluded the 2009 regular season with its third consecutive year of increased attendance and second consecutive year of increased viewership on ESPN2.
Additional 2009 highlights include:
o This year's average attendance of 8,039 fans per game was an increase (1%) over last season's 7,952.
WNBA on TV:
o The WNBA regular season on ESPN2 concluded with an average of 269,000 viewers, up 8% versus last season (248,000 viewers).
o Regular season games on ESPN2 saw increases in key demographics including men 18-34 (+9%), men 18-49 (+14%), men 23-54 (+23%).
"The WBCA is extremely saddened at the loss of Dr. Myles Brand. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Peg and his family. His unprecedented support of Title IX, women’s athletics and especially women’s basketball has helped to pave the way and guarantee a bright future for all female student-athletes. Myles was a tremendous supporter of mine, both personally and professionally. Unless you had a benchmark prior to his arrival at the NCAA, it is difficult to understand the vast impact of positive change he had on our sport. Through his vision, he laid a game plan that will be a great roadmap for many years to come. Our pursuit of excellence will continue, though his advocacy, leadership and passion will greatly be missed." - Beth Bass, WBCA Chief Executive Officer.From the NCAA: Myles Brand: A legacy of leadership
NCAA President Myles Brand, the first university president to serve as the Association's chief executive, died Wednesday from pancreatic cancer. He was 67.From the USOC
"Myles Brand was a dear friend and a great academic leader. He was a tireless advocate for the student-athlete," said Michael Adams, president of the University of Georgia and chair of the NCAA Executive Committee. "Indeed, he worked to ensure that the student was first in the student-athlete model. He will be greatly missed.
Stephanie Streeter, USOC Acting CEO"The U.S. Olympic Committee family is saddened to hear of the passing of NCAA President Myles Brand. He stood out as one of this nation's most influential sports leaders. He worked tirelessly to transform college athletics and to bring athletic opportunities to young people throughout the country.
"We admire, respect and appreciate the work Myles did on behalf of Olympic and amateur sport. He was invaluable in championing and ensuring the long-term success of the Olympic Movement by pushing the NCAA and the USOC to collaborate and partner in our efforts to grow and benefit youth sport. His efforts to preserve opportunities for Olympic sport at the collegiate level will leave a lasting impact.
"We extend our condolences to Myles' family members and his many friends."
Well, as many now realize, the joke's on them.
Title IX forced open doors and removed barriers – both legal and social. Girls and women’s participation in both athletics and academics skyrocketed. As Dr. Mary Curtis and Dr. Christine H.B. Grant explain on their “About Title IX” website,“ before Title IX, many schools refused to admit women or enforced strict limits.” Now, noted a July, 2006 New York Times article, “women make up 58% of those enrolled in two-and four-year colleges and are, over all, the majority in graduate schools and professional schools, too.”
That balance has slowly tipped and, it would seem, will continue to tip:
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports today that “the student body on American college campuses will continue to become more racially diverse, older, and more female over the next decade, according to new projections from the U.S. Department of Education.” The article is based on an the latest release of an annual report by the National Center for Education Statistics.
Citing the report, The Chronicle writes that overall enrollment in degree-granting institutions will grow by 13 percent, to 20.6 million, by the fall of 2018, when compared with 2007.
The WNBA may still be on the rise, but a lot of people simply turn their noses up at it. It’s a pity because women can ball too. The WNBA’s current slogan is ‘Expect Great’ and that’s what you get every time you watch a game. This league is no sideshow and these players aren’t pushovers. It’s rich with talent, and Lisa is still the cream of the crop after all these years. The Sparks No. 9 paved the way for so many female basketball players to come through. Fans shouldn’t look at the cheap tickets and sneer, they should look at the affordable tickets as an opportunity to see a basketball great before she calls it a career.
Continuing on with our preparation for the playoffs we look in depth at the Mercury's 1st round opponent, the San Antonio Silver Stars. Does it matter how prepared we are for the playoffs? Maybe just a little bit less than how prepared the Phoenix Mercury are but I always enjoy watching games when I know more about what's going on which is pretty much how I got into this in the first place.
Who better to ask about the Silver Stars then Mercury assistant coach (and Queen of Pop) Bridget Pettis.
Bending forward on the team bench at the Verizon Center, 6-foot-5 Quanitra Hollingsworth is an imposing presence, her long legs making the folding chair under her resemble something from a preschool classroom.
The Minnesota Lynx roster lists her as a rookie center. What it doesn't say is that on draft day in April, at 20 years, 145 days, Chesapeake's Hollings-worth became the youngest American-born woman in WNBA history to be drafted into the league after being selected in the first round.
A pair of head coaches who previously helped USA Basketball teams capture gold medals in international competition, Doug Bruno of DePaul University and Jennifer Gillom of the WNBA Minnesota Lynx, have been named as assistant coaches for the 2010 USA Basketball Women's World Championship Team, USA Basketball announced today. The coaches were selected by the USA Basketball Women's National Team Steering Committee and approved by the USA Basketball Board of Directors.
Sunday & Monday, October 18 & 19, 2009.
It's that time of year again so polish up your clubs and mark your calendar for Links Fore The Cure 2009. As always, we'll have a great party the night before, Sunday Night Casino, with professional dealers, craps, blackjack and more. The $50 entry fee gets you food, drinks, and
equivalent of $500 in chips. Open to the public. No denim please.
Monday is our women's only golf tournament. $160 per player includes, fees, lunch, and prizes. Women of all skill level are welcome but the tournament fills up fast so be sure to register early.
Go to Champions for a Cause
to register and get more information.
Sunday Night Casino and Links Fore The Cure are part of the
501(c)-3 Champions for a Cause.
The mission of Champions for a Cause is to advance and support the cause of charitable organizations who advocate and act to better the quality of life and health for individuals at risk or in need. Our 2009 beneficiary is the Breast Health Outreach Program (BHOP) at the University of Tennessee Medical Center Cancer Institute
Holly Warlick and Nikki Caldwell may be Ridin’ Down the Highway! *insert guitar riff here*, on their hogs, but Holly was kind enough to check in from Las Vegas as the Crusin’ for a Cause team waited for a mirror on their companion motor home to be repaired.Yes, like any smart team doing a cross-country trek, they have a portable housing and a support crew – a representative from their sponsors (Fed Ex/Kinkos) and three friends who’ve decided to tag along and help with bike maintenance and, most importantly, directions. “It’s great,” said Warlick, “We just get up and go.”
The year of the non-MVP
The editor for the website for which I write asked all the writers for their
votes on the "best of"s in the WNBA this year. I didn't know who to choose for
MVP, and I still don't.
...a rant on Who's in charge at your child's school?
...a little playoff My daily humor
...a write up of LLL's Night
...and a link that reminds us to Catch up with Pat Summitt
On September 11, 2009, C. Vivian Stringer, head coach of Rutgers University’s Scarlet Knights women’s basketball team, former head coach of Iowa State University’s Cyclones, former head coach of Cheyney State’s Wolves, and the self-proclaimed coal miner’s daughter, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. As usual, Coach C. Vivian Stringer’s presence on the Hall of Fame stage was the epitome of courage, grace, and class.
Watching her recount those special moments in her life, and in the lives of others, reminded me that for Coach Stringer, basketball is the vehicle she uses to help develop future female leaders who are tough, resilient, and courageous.
The resources to assure that women receive regular cancer screenings are sparse here in this part of southwest Kansas.
But people in five small towns have joined to help solve the problem and in the process are putting one of the region’s most celebrated resources to work: women’s basketball.
The second annual 4Kay™ Golf Classic presented by Nike, was a huge success as 153 women’s basketball coaches, administrators and supporters of the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund®, in partnership with The V Foundation for Cancer Research, gathered in Greensboro, raising over $175,000 for women's cancers research.
“The Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund is very grateful to the ACC and the City of Greensboro for hosting the 2009 Classic,” said Marsha Sharp, Executive Director of the Fund. “The positive response from our sponsors and coaches resulted in a record $175,000 being raised for the Fund, an increase over last year’s $142,000.”
Atlanta: Living a Dream: Sublette's Lehning has been part of Atlanta's remarkable turnaround
Atlanta: Dream's versatility makes them tough playoff out
Atlanta: Dream face defending champions in opening round
Atlanta: McCoughtry sparks ATL - Rookie carries '08 doormat to playoffs
Atlanta: Dream's playoff run starts Wednesday night
Atlanta/Detroit: Game preview
Atlanta/Detroit: Missing in Action?
Detroit: Shock ready for ‘real season’
Detroit: First-round WNBA playoff foe: Detroit Shock are 'bullies'
Detroit: Shock injuries, defense are concerns vs. Dream WNBA playoffs
Indiana: Fever prepare to make playoff push
Indiana: Fever focused despite shaky future
LA: Sparks ready to fly in playoffs
LA: Sparks are flying Cooper stays focused on team's playoff run
LA: Lisa Leslie wants to go out a winner: The Sparks center, the leading scorer and rebounder in WNBA history, embarks on her final playoff run.
Phoenix/Indy: Fever, Mercury are favored for finals
Phoenix: Chat with Penny Taylor
Phoenix - from LA: Kathy Goodman: Phoenix then and now
Seattle: First round a huge task for Storm
Seattle: Storm hopes to get past first round of WNBA playoffs
Seattle: Coach Brian Agler enjoying the climb with Storm
Seattle/LA: Sparks' Lisa Leslie has her team ready for playoff matchup with Seattle
Seattle/LA: Checking in on L.A.
Playoffs in general:
The W.N.B.A.’s Second Season
Each morning late in the regular season, Donna Orender, the W.N.B.A.What to Watch For When the WNBA Playoffs Open Wednesday
president, would turn on her computer and stare at the standings. Staring back
MIA playoff talk:
Minnesota: Big expectations, big letdown - Downfall began with Augustus injury
New York: Liberty face uncertainty after tough year
Sacramento: Monarchs should expect much change
With season in hand, Paris looking to 2010
Simon and his brother Herb, known for shopping malls and for charitable giving, bought the men's-side Pacers in 1983, when it looked like the team might otherwise skip town; the Fever began play in 2000.
Herb Simon suggested this spring that Dunn, Catchings, and company had to double their attendance to survive; during the season, of course, the Fever brass will say no such thing, and the team members, for what it's worth, say they see no danger signs (of the kind that beset the Hilton Koch-era Comets).
That may be because the real danger signs have nothing to do with the Fever. All NBA franchises (unlike Hilton Koch) have enough dough in the bank to run a WNBA team day by day-- the question is whether they can sustain small losses associated with that team, year after year, and the answer is going to be "yes," as long as (a) the owners basically like the women's game and (b) the men's side isn't bleeding red ink. The Silver Stars almost certainly lost money for most of the past six years, but it didn't matter: as long as the Spurs do well and the SASS/Spurs front office believes in the women's game, Becky and VJ and company will be just fine. Similarly, in Detroit, the Shock might well make money, but it doesn't matter much if they don't, because the Pistons do well and the front office believes in the team.
The Indiana Pacers, on the other hand, are supposedly having a very hard time.
Not coincidentally, they're also seeking better deals right now, both from the NBA and from the city where they play. That gives the Pacers/ Fever organization strong incentives to cry wolf; as with the Storm/ Sonics mess in 2007-08, a threat to move or fold the Fever could give more people more reason to support the Pacers organization if it requests public cash. But sometimes the wolf really is at the door; right now there's no way for most of us to know.
Indy native and Fever star Katie Douglas has a very sensible response: "We need to get it done now."
Pull up some popcorn for tonight's Dream/Shock and Storm/Sparks games on ESPN2.
While we were enjoying the start of the school year, Mechelle got busy:
Leslie looks forward to retirement
Maybe someday soon, you'll see Lisa Leslie on a ski slope. Or perhaps she'll race by you on Rollerblades. Who knows, she might even zoom by on a skateboard.Atlanta puts together Dream of a season
"So many times, I'll go on vacation, and I can't do much," Leslie said. "Because I can't risk getting injured. So I have ahead of me a chance to do a lot of things I've always wanted to do."
After last season, the Atlanta Dream were sort of tallying up the wounds suffered during a summer of getting knocked around to the tune of a 4-30 record. There was no specific reason to think things were going to get a lot better in 2009 … except for the hope that they couldn't get worse.Momentum, injuries to impact playoffs
If you look only at regular-season results, the quick conclusion is that the East's first-round series are lopsided and the West's are dead even. Indiana won all four of its games against Washington, while Atlanta went 3-1 against Detroit. Meanwhile, Phoenix-San Antonio and Los Angeles-Seattle split their regular-season series.Predicting the playoff winners
Ah, but it's quite a bit more complicated than that.
Parity has made itself evident start to finish this season. So which team is the strongest? And will the strongest actually survive through the playoffs? Here are some guesses about how it might go.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Tulsans are all for giving the WNBA a chance in Tulsa, but they're not too sure about actually going to games.
Better than 70 percent of those surveyed Aug. 29 to Sept. 1 by SoonerPoll.com said they approved of plans to bring professional women's basketball to the city. Only 5 percent, though, said they would frequently attend games, and nearly half said they didn't expect to ever see the team play.
Still, that would give the proposed team a fairly large potential market.
Worst decision ever made: Look, we all have financial problems. People are out of work. Businesses and factories have closed. But the WNBA owners are supposedly in the business of running a professional league and their decision before the season to cut the rosters from 13 to 11 and not allow teams to replace injured players — unless they were cut by another team — was short-sighted, stupid and self-defeating. And that's being nice.First: The irony of a employee of a member of the news media dissing tough economic business decisions that (allegedly) adversely impact the business is not lost on me.
The decision cost good players jobs, made life impossible for the coaches and, frankly, hurt the overall quality of play because injured players were forced into action when they should have been rested.
This needs to change in the offseason.
Second: "cost good players jobs." Name three. 'cause if they were that good, they'd have been on a roster, replacing the players who barely played (Larkins, Spencer on the Lib, for example.)
Third: "impossible for the coaches." Could we get specific here? Is coach T saying this is why the Sun didn't make the playoffs? If so, what were the imposibilities? How many of the 13 players (2 on "IR") did you play last year?
Fourth: " hurt the overall quality of play." I'm confused as to how you can say the overall quality of play has been hurt. On which court? Scoring is up, as is parity. Or, are we saying parity is bad? Or are turnovers up because players are playing so many extra minutes (you know, you can check that by looking at the numbers from last year -- I'm guessing the starters, on average, are playing similar minutes).
Fifth: "injured players were forced into action" Again, I'd love some specifics. 'Cause, with all the plethora of good players who'd lost their jobs, you'd think that the other 10 players on the roster would be pretty damn good. So why were injured players forced into action. (And, compared to past seasons, how has that been different?)
I have no doubt impact of the 11-player roster needs to be discussed, but the discussion may be simply tweaking (as in, when can you replace a player). Because John is correct: People are out of work. Businesses and factories have closed. This is about money and survival.
So, if the 11 player roster helps keep the W alive through this recession, suck it up, coaches, players, fans, reporters, or else....
Ditto with saying there will be only one assistant next year (which, I think, will probably have more impact on the game than adding 2 players who never play).
If these decisions mean the W has a future, I have to support it.
The same way I will support my Liberty, even if Blaze continues as the GM, by renewing my subscription.
'Cause tough decisions have to be made if I want to help make sure the league continues.
'sides, instead of talking about things that can't be controlled, better to talk about the things the league could do better. Things that don't depend on money as much as they depend on responsible and thoughtful thinking. And that's a looong laundry list.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
It was Lisa's final regular-season home game, and she had a hoot, scoring 19pts and grabbing 6 rebounds. Tina, CPark and DMJ also scored in double figures, and as a team, Los Angeles shot 54%.
Leslie was presented lifetime courtside seats to Sparks games, a framed USA basketball jersey, framed photos with messages from Sparks teammates and gold Nike shoes.
Leslie: "The gold shoes are pretty hot. They were heavy. I was thinking are these real gold? I have four gold medals, but those felt pretty good. That was pretty cool. Then all the pictures signed by my teammates. That’s pretty cool. Everything’s cool right now. I don’t know any other word to describe the feeling other than I'm excited to have this opportunity to be a role model. I've won so many awards but the rewards have been even bigger. That is to be a role model for so many people."
Why: You might be a part of Atlanta Dream history if you're in Philips Arena tonight: what other reason do you need than "win, and we're in"? If Atlanta beats Connecticut tonight, they clinch not only a playoff spot after just two years of existence as a WNBA franchise, but home field advantage in the first round. It is still possible for the Shock to finish in second, but Atlanta would have to lose both games - therefore, "win, and we're in".Lose, and Connecticut was out of the playoffs.
Well, the Dream took care of any jitters they -- or their fans - might have had right quick.
The results (the Dream by 24) reminds me of a game I lead called Kabish, Kaboo. It's sorta like a moving rock, paper scissors. Two lines choose one of three options: Giants, Wizards or little gnomes. and come at each other chanting, "Stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp. Kabish, kaboo, kabish, kaboo!" then they physicalize their choice.
The Dream chose Giants. Guess who the Sun were? Smooshed the little gnomes. Made for 8
This one was pretty much over in the first quarter when Atlanta outscored Connecticut 30-16 (No 'Claw, no Jones). Then it was really over in the 3rd when they outscored the Sun 26-12. They barely bothered playing the 4th,.
Well, Snow played enough to get herself t'd up in the fourth. I'm guessing she didn't want Gruda (who'd gotten herself T'd up in the 2nd.) to feel lonely.
So, cutting to the chase:
We did it!! The Dream won 88-64 in Atlanta and they have clinched second place and home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs!!
Did you hear that?
I'm very tired, but very happy. But I don't want to be happy with just getting a ticket! Let's ride this train all the way to the freakin' FINALS!!!