Should have seen this coming. Thursday during my weekly ESPN.com chat, someone asked when I thought the Chicago Sky would win its first game this season.
So I was perusing the Sky’s schedule and wondering if Chicago might take advantage of an off-to-a-slow-start Minnesota team this Saturday. Or possibly the Sky might beat Tulsa on June 5, as the Shock is a team trying to figure itself out after relocating.It didn’t even occur to me to consider that the Sky might, in fact, get a victory several hours after the chat. Although it probably should have.
Sunday, May 30, 2010
That's what the new coach at Air Force is hoping for -- but, as David Ramsey of the Colorado Springs Gazette notes, there's a long way to go.
Andrea Williams’ eyes are fixed on the future, which allows her to look right past the history/wreckage of the Air Force Academy’s women’s basketball program.
Yes, the Falcons have lost 37 straight Mountain West Conference games, and, yes, the Falcons lost 23 of those games by 20 points or more.
“There’s only one way to go,” said Williams, who is in charge of repairing the wreckage.
The levitating profile of girls' basketball, combined with enrollment patterns and requirements increasingly untethered to geographic concerns, have combined to form an ultra-competitive witches brew of recruiting elements in New York. The St. Michael players, which includes a core of nationally regarded college prospects, lost their school, so they are free to enroll anywhere they can qualify -- a fact that was not lost on rival schools. That Paschall was able to assemble such talent at a school whose basement gym, with its low ceiling and column-obstructed floor, was so inferior that St. Michael actually resisted scheduling home games was the source not only of suspicion, but resentment.
We're less than 10 games into the current WNBA season, and already there's been some big in-season movement that could impact divisional races.
Obviously, Chamique Holdsclaw being released by the Atlanta Dream and signing with the San Antonio Stars was huge, and paid immediate dividends in San Antonio. Then yesterday, the Tulsa Shock traded one of the five Detroit players still with the franchise, second year guard Shavonte Zellous, to the Indiana Fever for a 2nd round pick.
The legendary coach plucked Holt and Black away from the Connecticut Sun in exchange for the Tulsa Shock's first-round draft pick last month.
Richardson knew at the time his decision would raise questions.
"People thought I was crazy," he said. "But when I saw them on tape, I knew we had to sign them. I told (assistant coach) Wayne (Stehlik) we had to get those two. We couldn't wait to see if they were released. We had to make the trade."
Mercer left Westchester’s basketball mecca to move to Marshalltown, population 25,850. But at Marshalltown Community College, she matured in more ways than one, becoming only the 17th woman to earn consecutive spots on the first-team NJCAA Division II All-America team.
The result is a Division I scholarship to Maryland-Eastern Shore.
“I feel like I deserved it because of everything I went through,” Mercer said. “I feel like I was competitive with some of the best.”
Less than two months removed from playing in the Women's Final Four, the Sooners ventured to the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, a place that was further decimated by January's earthquake. They saw devastation. They saw despair. They saw desperation.
But they also saw hope and love and faith.
Now, the Final Four isn't the only place these Sooners want to return to next year.
They want to go back to Haiti, too.
In four contests, her 17.5 points and 9.8 rebounds per game — both team highs — are strikingly similar to her senior year averages with the Huskies (18.2 and 9.5, respectively). Given, those came over 39 victories, but her small sample size with the Sun has produced some indisputable observations: Charles can handle the WNBA’s more physical play, she can hit from 15 feet and in, and as Thursday’s 105-79 victory over Minnesota showed, she can thrive in most one-on-one situations.
Eight former players and four of their mothers say the coach aims to control players' lives, and puts the well-being of the women on her team at risk. They say Wagner, 45, pressures athletes to play through serious injuries, threw a chair during a locker room tirade, ordered players to attend Weight Watchers sessions and once was kicked off a plane in front of her team after refusing to hang up her cell phone. One mother says that her "demoralized" daughter later sought counseling after leaving Oregon State because Wagner inflicted such "mental damage."
Through middle and senior high school, Riccardi never missed a game. He surprised everyone from the bleachers to the court in 2007 during his daughter Julia's sophomore year at Vines High School. He announced that he was providing two-year scholarships at Collin County Community College for the 15 players and team manager.
"I had watched these incredible girls playing and growing together as a team," Riccardi said. "They were all talented in so many ways. I wanted to make sure they all had the opportunity to attend college."
In tennis, as in all of its 24 championships, the Ohio High School Athletic Association is known for its crisp operation. Large attendance at its marquee football and boys and girls basketball finals allows the association that regulates 828 high schools to spend about $11 million per year on its state championships.
That number dwarfs even comparably sized states, which make much less than the $15 million in revenue that OHSAA earns from its championships.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
The Liberty is having a news conference Wednesday to announce what it is calling a "groundbreaking new partnership."
In attendance will be the presidents of MSG Sports, the Liberty and the WNBA, so it must be something pretty big.
Might the Liberty be announcing it will be the fourth WNBA franchise to put a sponsor's logo on its uniforms?
Or, might the Liberty be announcing they're renaming the team the NewArk Liberty, in honor of it's ouster from the Garden next season?
Speaking of the ouster, I've been having some very interesting conversations with season ticket holders about what they are -- or are not -- going to do next season about renewing. If the Liberty were a grown up organization, they'd get in front of this beast right this minute. There would be meet and greet with current subscribers with a focus not to glad hand-us, but to get us on board, maybe even brainstorm some ideas.
Here's a radical one: recognize that getting out to Newark for the next three years might not be attractive -- or possible -- for some season subscribers. Offer to hold their seats for the duration and give'em first dibs on'em when the Garden reopens for the summer.
But, all this forward thinking, fan friendly (actually, fan respecting) stuff may be beyond Blaze and company. They fumbled badly with the whole, "Guess what, we're going to Rockefeller Center!" adventure. I don't see any sign that they've learned anything from that experience.
The Donna? Might you step in, please?
Some of those expectations got upended last night, as Atlanta remained undefeated in Phoenix, staying ahead of the Merc despite the home team's late-game 16-0 run. "It was two halves, really," said Penny Taylor: McCoughtry and co. rode their strong first half to the win.
In another mild surprise, previously winless Los Angeles beat the Mystics in L.A. Washington are now without a home loss but without a road win: the Basket Cases assign the blame. Praise there belongs to Candace but also to the L.A. Times's Baxter Holmes, who spoke with CP about the game: "I'm still adjusting to [coach Gillom's] system," she said. "We all are. But it's good to adjust... while winning."
Finally, Cappie led New York over San Antonio: the home loss sounds like a mess for the SASS, who got out-rebounded by double-digits despite the supposed benefits of their week off.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Last summer, I had a vision of love. More accurately, I went to rip-roaring WNBA game between the Seattle Storm and eventual champs, the Phoenix Mercury, and realized that this league had much to offer the NBA fan. I wrote a column on my experience, and it got a ton of positive feedback (I had no hand in its title, incidentally). A later encounter with Lindsay Whalen convinced me that the league could be every bit as gutsy as it is skilled.
You would think that the eternally embattled WNBA would embrace new fans like me, or at least take a shrewd interest in getting us to tune in. Instead, it schedules games at the same time as the NBA Finals.
They are going to have a great season," Taurasi said. "Sometimes you can't always base a season on wins and losses, but rather how you play and how you get better. They may not have any superstars but they have some very, very good players who came from very good college programs. They know what it takes to win.
Now, it might be overstating the case that the Phoenix Mercury are like a high-performance Italian sports car that can hit speeds of 250 mph. The Mercury don't go quite that fast.
Still, as the WNBA's defending champion and led again by 2009 league MVP Diana Taurasi, the Mercury are the favorites to win the title again, and do it in their customary "eat our dust" style.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Add a handle at the shoulders and the shirts look like they could serve as the bags you used to find in the NBA store.
Normally at this time of the week I would write about rookie rankings or do an analysis of which teams are hot and not.
However, with no team having played more than 5 games, it's difficult to do that with any level of accuracy. It wouldn't be entirely pointless, but with the exchange of so many stars in the off-season, teams trying to adjust to the loss of absent or injured players, and a short pre-season, it's hard to find many teams that have reached a point where they can be fairly evaluated.
"Our focus right now is just to keep improving," said Seattle Storm coach Brian Agler after a 95-89 win over the Phoenix Mercury when asked if he had any sense of where his team stands relative to the league. "I don't think anybody in this league is as good as they're going to be at this moment, so that's been our focus."
Entrepreneur and philanthropist Sheila Crump Johnson is the only African-American female to enjoy ownership in three professional sports teams: the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, the NBA’s Washington Wizards and the NHL’s Washington Capitals. Furthermore, as CEO of Salamander Hospitality, a company she founded in 2005, Ms. Johnson oversees a growing portfolio of luxury properties, including Woodlands Inn, in Summerville, SC, which is one of only a handful of properties to receive both a prestigious Forbes Five Star rating and a AAA Five Diamond rating for lodging and dining."Billionairess." How can something so right sound so wrong.
Dean Roe left the game, but the game never left him.
Roe, a passionate six-player girls’ basketball coach who became one of 12 Iowans to win more than 600 games in the sport he loved, has died.
The 84-year-old had a 685-291 record in a 45-year career at Stuart-Menlo and four other schools. His wins total ranks ninth-best in state history.
I like when I ask and the professionals do the hard work and answer.
From Clay at SlamOnline: It’s Raining Buckets: How contraction in the WNBA expands scoring—and excitement.
Throughout the history of the WNBA, there have been few teams with three legitimate scoring threats – and the primary reason has been that there have been too many teams and not enough scorers. Even most good teams had only two players who counted as scorers, so those two scorers always one-and-a-half defenders to beat.
With contraction, however, the game has changed. Now more teams than ever have three scoring options, and all of a sudden, point totals are exploding. In regulation Saturday, the lowest point total for any of the six teams was 78, and when you add the overtimes, the lowest number was 81.
- Austin Peay won an Ohio Valley Conference Tournament record sixth title and returns four of its five starters from the NCAA Tournament team that was 15-18.The bracket will be released in June.
- Central Florida, which won the Conference-USA Tournament a year ago, returns all five starters from its 11-16 team. Coach Joi Williams and staff will have seven seniors on the roster as they continue to turn around the program.
- Charlotte welcomes back its leading scorer and rebounder from an 18-14 team that was 9-5 in the Atlantic 10. The freshmen saw plenty of playing time on a team that advanced in the Postseason WNIT.
- DePaul played in its eighth straight NCAA Tournament and has all five starters back from a team that was 21-12 and 9-7 in the Big East. Sam Quigley was one of eight finalists for the Nancy Lieberman award, which goes to the nation’s top point guard, and returns for her senior year under coach Doug Bruno.
- Florida features a balanced lineup and expects bigger things coming off a 15-17 season that saw the Gators earn the SEC’s automatic qualifying berth in the Postseason WNIT.
- Hampton recorded back-to-back 20-win seasons, and played in its first NCAA Tournament in program history in 2010. They won 16 of their last 19 games, including the MEAC Tournament championship, with seven freshmen and four sophomores on the roster.
- Iona welcomes back an experienced roster that strives to build on its 18-14 season and third appearance in the Postseason WNIT in the past four years.
- JMU has nearly everyone back from its NCAA Tournament team that finished 26-7 overall and 13-5 in the Colonial, including winning the conference tournament championship. CAA First-teamer Dawn Evans (24.6 ppg, 4.6 apg) heads a strong five-member senior class.
- Lamar is in the midst of a program turnaround with coach Larry Tidwell and staff. The team won its first Southland Tournament title in history and played in its first NCAA Tournament. Conference player of the year Jenna Plumley and the bulk of the team return to defend a 26-8 overall record and 13-3 mark in the Southland.
- Missouri State posted a 12-win turnaround with a 22-11 record and its first postseason (WNIT) appearance in four years. Missouri Valley Conference player of the year Casey Garrison (19.9 point, 7.3 rebounds, 5.1 assists) will be a junior on a team that has all but one player back.
- Purdue’s youth resurgence continues with the signing of the top two players in Indiana. They will join 2008 Miss Basketball Indiana Brittany Rayburn, who led last season’s 15-17 team in scoring. The Boilermakers were the Big Ten’s automatic qualifying team for the Postseason WNIT.
- South Dakota State made its second straight NCAA Tournament run after capturing the Summit League tournament title. The squad returns three starters from a 22-11 team that won 11 of its last 13 games, and has made an immediate national impact while in its Division I infancy.
- Saint Francis (PA) won its Northeast Conference record 10th league title and earned an automatic spot in the NCAA Tournament. Coach Susan Robinson Fruchtl has taken the program from worst in the NEC (2007-08) to the NEC Championship game in 08-09 to the NEC Tournament title in 09-10.
- Toledo returns three starters from a 25-9 team that won the MAC West Division and advanced into the Postseason WNIT. They will open next season with a 13-game home winning streak to defend.
- Utah Valley won the inaugural Great West Tournament title, and the Wolverines finished their 10-22 year with five straight victories.
- Valparaiso returns three starters from a 9-21 team and has high expectations in the Horizon League. Coach Keith Freeman enters his 17th season at Valparaiso and will go for his 270th win this fall.
Hopefully, it will be done soon, I’ll post it, and then I’ll stop thinking about it so much. In the meantime, though, yet another quick plug for the on-line radio show I help broadcaster Brenda VanLengen do here in Kansas City. On Monday’s show, from 1-2 p.m. Central, we’ll visit with former Big 12 players Nicole Ohlde and Plenette Pierson. Their WNBA teams, Phoenix and Tulsa, meet Tuesday at the BOK Center.
How about using your New York Times into re-publishing the WNBA Results, Standings and Transactions in that section of the NYT sports' pages. This is the Liberty's hometown paper and I don't think there would be an outcry if they dumped the lacrosse summary if they needed the space. The Times has published the WNBA details in the past and they should do it again.Thanks for pointing their omission out, Jack. (Though, I'll fess up - I look at the Times online and battle the .com for the standings). Consider the Times duly bullied. to push the
Readers should feel free to drop sports editor Tom Jolly an email requesting the restoration, 'cause if you don't SAY something they don't have a chance to DO something.
Try Jolly @ nytimes or Sports @ nytimes.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Does this mean they'll spell Angel's name right on her jersey?
The first time Alana Beard traveled 1,700 miles across the country to play basketball, the guard from Shreveport, La., got so homesick that she cried herself to sleep.And from ESPN's Mechelle: Next stop: Tuesday's doubleheader
But Beard, now with the Washington Mystics, didn't have much of a choice. The club team she played with in Shreveport didn't have the money to travel extensively. If she wanted exposure, she would have to go elsewhere.
So here we are a week into the WNBA season, and everything is working out precisely as we all thought it would to this point, right? Not entirely.
Chicago's struggles? Not very surprising. But Atlanta's hot start? I admit I wasn't expecting the Dream to race to a 4-0 record.
What about Los Angeles being winless? Well, not a huge stunner, considering the Sparks' opening three games were on the road. But with six of its next eight at home, L.A. has a chance to effectively negate the slow beginning. Still, this might be an intense week at practice for the Sparks. Because there were moments in Saturday's loss at San Antonio where Sparks coach Jennifer Gillom looked ready to really go Vesuvius on her team.
But spend some time talking with Cameron, and you’ll quickly see the business side of it all melt by the wayside. He’s in this deal for all the right reasons: family, fans and a passion for women’s basketball.
“I realized the athleticism and, frankly, felt like there was an opportunity that that athleticism and effort deserves to be recognized,” says ameron, who has two daughters who have played basketball for much f their life. “The girls playing basketball in the state deserve to see the ighest-caliber players in the world playing the game that they play.”
Well, I don't know if David Stern is wearing his in public -- maybe underneath his suit as he watches the Celtics.
Feeling left out? Drop me an "I want in" email: nywnbafan @ yahoo.com and we'll talk about how you can join the orange and white tide spreading across the country. (For $20)
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Saturday, May 22, 2010
On Friday afternoon, I chatted with San Antonio's Becky Hammon during an online radio show on which I contribute here in Kansas City. Hammon was talking about how it can be a bit worrisome to look around the league at the talent on other teams. And so she tries to avoid doing that. Instead, she said she focuses on the strengths the Silver Stars have.
But from my view, player for player, the Silver Stars' season-opening roster did not seem to measure up to the projected top teams in the WNBA. So if there was a franchise that looked as if it could take a chance on adding talent, San Antonio was it.
This morning, reading the headlines in my alert, I had a pang of blogger jealousy. Someone had come up with a title that was very After Atalanta-esque--and it wasn't me! And it was about softball--and lesbians. How could this be?From Sports Media & Society
Well because it was Dr. Pat Griffin who wrote the piece "Can Jennie Finch Even Say Lesbian?" and so I feel much better now. And especially so after reading it. Griffin calls out all (or most) of the people who have been speaking up in the wake of the astounding revelation that Elena Kagan once played softball--and the messages that sends.
Ever since President Obama nominated Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, questions about her sexuality have figured into the overall news narrative. Recently, news sources have begun showing a picture of Kagan playing softball, and suggesting that her affiliation with the sport shows that she is indeed lesbian. (Pat Buchanan, the MSNBC pundit, provided particularly insightful commentary, stating that playing softball is a lesbian “signal,” just like “two guys sunbathing together” brings the “immediate implication that they’re gay.”) Aside from the problematic ideology that an out lesbian is somehow a mark in the negative column in evaluating this potential justice, the implication draws from an age-old stereotype about female athletes.From the aforementioned Pat Griffin: Softball Players to the Media: “We Are Not Lesbians, Damn It”
I don’t want to go back over the whole “Is Elena Kagan is a lesbian because she played softball 17 years ago” conversation, but I do want to note that the whole goofy discussion has, unfortunately as I feared, tapped in the homophobia that lurks just beneath the surface in women’s softball. All the media attention to the innuendoes about softball and lesbians has prompted some reporters to ask some women softball players and the president of the International Softball Federation to weigh in on the discussion. Here is what they said with my snarky commentary :(remember that the It Takes a Team program the WSF has founded has been discontinued)
"We've come so far," said Jessica Mendoza, a two-time Olympian and president of the Women's Sports Foundation, "and to have even one person think that showing a photo would correlate with someone's orientation, I want to yell out and say, 'Where have you been? Look around.'"
We’ve come so far? What, from having everyone think softball players are dykes? And, oh the pain, the trauma of having even ONE PERSON think of someone’s “orientation” when they see a picture of a woman playing softball. C’mon, Jessica, can’t you even say the word “lesbian?” By the way, as President of the Women’s Sports Foundation, you should check out the resources for addressing homophobia in sport on your own organization’s web site.
Also from Pat, this post...Greg Louganis to Mentor USA Divers
This headline would be unremarkable in most situations. After all Greg Louganis dominated international men’s 3m and 10m diving from 1980-1988 winning World and Olympic championships and being named Athlete of the Year in 1988. His accomplishments would make him a logical candidate to coach elite divers. However, another part of Greg’s story helps to explain, at least in part, why he has been absent from diving for 22 years. Greg is gay and HIV-positive. He spent his entire competitive career in the closet, revealing both his sexual orientation and his HIV status in his 1996 book, Breaking the Surface.Which has some interesting connections to this article in the NYTimes: Openly Gay College Coach Makes a Low-Profile Role Model
Tucked away at the end of a cul-de-sac in a leafy suburban neighborhood, Kirk Walker lives the life of a role model quietly.Of course, as we know, there isn't a boatful of publicly game women coaching Division I either.
No rainbow flags hang from the front of his house; political causes have never stirred him. And truth be told, Walker, the longtime Oregon State softball coach, has always been so absorbed by his work that he has not given much thought to being possibly the only publicly gay man coaching a Division I.
By the way, have you read Pat's "Strong Women, Deep Closets: Lesbians and Homophobia in Sports"? I know we could use an "Updated and Revised" edition (it was first published in 1998), but it is must reading for anyone who believe that there's no place for homophobia in sports. (Or the world, to be honest.)
Another great resource is the documentary "Training Rules." You may already know that it's about Rene Portland's reign at Penn State - an era where her "Rules" were: 1) No Drinking 2) No Drugs 3) No Lesbians.
I had an opportunity to see the film during the Final Four in San Antonio. It's a compelling piece of work. The damage that Portland did to countless young women is staggering. In many ways, the film is NOT about Portland as much as it is about the pain and resiliency of the athletes who, somehow, found a way to survive and, eventually, thrive.
Make the time, if you can, to see it. It's been shown on LOGO, and may reappear.
Finally -- I've heard from some that my contact email is not working (and, because of the archive system here at blogger.com, we can't edit the info on the "Contact" page). So, if you want a WBI t-shirt, drop me a line at nywnbafan @ yahoo.com. $20 - and totally dependent on size and availability....
Pizzotti, a native of Lombard, Ill., comes to the Mountaineers after serving as Nike’s manager of women’s college basketball and Girl’s Elite Youth basketball, in Beaverton, Ore., where she was the principal interactive liaison between Nike and 90% of the Top 25 women’s basketball programs in the country, the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and USA Basketball. She helped enhance and broaden Nike’s dominance in women’s basketball and oversaw the Girl’s Elite Youth basketball program since September 2008.Pizzotti also helped organize an "Up and coming assistants camp." I just wonder if WVa's gain is women's basketball's loss....
Friday, May 21, 2010
Gabriela Marginean continues to make history one day - one game - at a time.
Five weeks after she became Drexel's first-ever player to be drafted into the Women's National Basketball Association, Marginean made her regular season debut with the Minnesota Lynx May 15, snagging one rebound in three minutes of action.
One of my favorite things about hosting the Dishin' & Swishin' show, is that I get to talk to so many people that are far more knowledgable about things than I am! I never fail to learn something when I talk to a player, coach, or administrative personnel in this wonderful game of women's basketball.
This is especially true when I host "The Roundtable" on what's happening in the WNBA and women's hoops. This year I host some of the most important journalists covering women's basketball today: Jayda Evans, one of the few print reporters that covers the league regularly (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/womenshoopsblog/), Cheryl Coward, the ultimate purveyor of all information women's hoops (http://www.hoopfeed.com/) and the Guru himself, Mel Greenberg, recently retired from print but not from covering the game he loves (http://womhoops.blogspot.com/). An incredible group of journalists, with an incredible amount of information.
Tina Thompson has achieved plenty of success during her career: four WNBA championships, two Olympic gold medals and eight All-Star selections.
With the league opening its 14th season last weekend, the Los Angeles Sparks forward now has a distinction all to herself -- she's the last remaining player from the inaugural 1997 season. And even she was surprised by that.
"I actually didn't even know that I was until about a month or so ago our director of player personnel told me about it," the 35-year-old Thompson said. "I don't know if I really kind of put some meaning to it."
If you're there, considering participating in the the Second Annual WBHOF 4Kay® Run/Walk on Saturday, June 12, 2010, at 8 a.m. in Knoxville, Tenn.
A shot went up during Connecticut Sun practice Wednesday, and as Kara Lawson turned to box out Kelsey Griffin, she saw the same thing she’s seen on almost every rebound attempt.
“She’s just barreling in there,” Lawson said.
Keeping Griffin off the boards at Sun practice has taken a Herculean effort some days. This time was no different. One moment, Lawson was putting a body on the 6-foot-2 forward, the next Griffin was in the air — horizontal — before falling to the court.
“Boom!” Lawson said. “Because she was literally trying to jump over me.”
Data on the composition of NCAA member institutions’ administrative and coaching staffs show only minimal gains for women and minorities in leadership positions over the last 15 years.
The NCAA’s latest Race and Gender Demographics Report for 2008-09 shows a total of 205 female directors of athletics (18.9 percent) in all three divisions, which is up just 2.9 percent from the 150 female ADs in 1995-96, the baseline year of data in the report.
So it's cool to see "Streaking the Lawn.com" (Wahoo sports uncovered from the Rotunda to Homer and back) noticing that Former Hoo Monica Wright is establishing herself in WNBA
Monica Wright finished her career at the University of Virginia having scored more points in a single season and over the course of a career than any other player to have donned a Virginia women's basketball jersey. Named the ACC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, the National Defensive Player of the Year, and every All-America first team you can think of, and being drafted No. 2 overall by the Minnesota Lynx, there is no doubt that Wright is a special type of player. And just three games into the WNBA season, Monica Wright has already proven herself to be indispensable to her new team.
...in my WNBA Preview for SLAM Magazine (on sale now), I actually ended up rewriting it to change my prediction from the Mystics making the Eastern Conference Finals to missing the Playoffs altogether.
Just two games in to the 2010 WNBA season, I quickly realized I couldn’t have been more wrong – and I’m man enough to admit it.
For several years, the New York Liberty were like a good television show -- with a familiar cast of characters -- that is popular but never quite reaches No. 1 in the ratings.
Then, inevitably, it begins to decline and the characters leave. Fans talk about the "good old days," which become even better in retrospect. That Kodachrome phenomenon makes what "was" brighter than what "is."
Still without Asjha Jones, who continues to rehab her surgically repaired Achilles’ tendon, and the absent Sandrine Gruda, Connecticut (1-0) must deal with perhaps the East’s best group of forwards outside of its own.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
In December 2008, word came that Atlanta had traded a first-round draft pick to Los Angeles for the rights to Chamique Holdsclaw, who'd been out of the WNBA since leaving the Sparks early in the 2007 season.
The news prompted an ESPN.com column that I started like this:
In her pro career, Chamique Holdsclaw has been one of the more complicated people in women's basketball to write about. So it's with caution that we approach the announcement that she's apparently returning to the WNBA this coming season.
Rookie Monica Wright led the visitors with 19.
It's nice for current or former Minnesotans to look at the box score for that game and see Whalen there, but so depressing to look at the same score and see, for Augustus AND Wiggins, DNP...
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Also: why won't the team schedule pages tell us which games (if any) will be on NBA-TV? (Best guess: if it's on local TV, it's on NBA-TV: if not, then not.) Maybe it's really time for us to give up our television and watch absolutely everything online. Biggest disadvantage: when you are watching NBA-TV, you watch extremely annoying commercials, but you never have to watch a script that says "Buffering..."
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
The troubles also affected the W's Live Access program, by which you can see any WNBA game live on the Web from anywhere in the world, assuming that your-- and the team's-- connection holds up. "My mom and dad were really mad," LJ said.
A little info about officials and coordinators:
1) A coordinator hires, schedules and supervises/evaluates officials
2) Officials are independent contractors - that means the get a fee/per deim/travel but pay their own taxes and health insurance.
3) You'd be amazed at the budgets conferences don't give coordinators - which impacts their ability to hire and train and supervise officials.
First, WNYC announces the Liberty score AND mentions Cappie's stats -- without me yelling at them -- and now NPR does a piece on the Storm: In Seattle, The WNBA Reigns by Martin Kaste.
Monday, May 17, 2010
The home team prevailed despite atrocious shooting (33% from the floor): again, the story seems to have been defense-- Indy scored just four points in the fourth.
Last year's Fever also began the year 0-2, and they did pretty well, the Indy Star reminds us. Coach Dunn is less sanguine: "I've never had a team struggle like that," she said.
Taj says her new team has new confidence, and coach Donovan agrees: "Last year, we probably lose that game," she said.
One who did see it: NBA fan L. J. Rotter, who wrote at some length for Swish Appeal about her first W game. (She liked it.)
Pelton says they did it with defense; Jayda, who liveblogged the game, agrees.
Who guarded Parker? LJ, most of all: the Australian star gets star treatment today from Seattle columnist Steve Kelley. "I feel better than I have in a long time," she tells him.
Does Seattle have great sports media, or what?
Penny shot well: "My legs weren't really underneath me," PT said-- she flew in from Turkey last Thursday. Diana shot badly, but got the benefit of the doubt (well, I was doubtful) on a late-game block/charge call that sent her to the line.
L.A. got 30 minutes from rookie PG Andrea Riley, who has the legs for the WNBA but played the same game she did as a Cowgirl-- the one in which she expected to take the shots. She ended up 4 for 14.
Mechelle writes: The saga of Marion Jones
I know the “big story” to a lot of people about the Tulsa Shock’s opener Saturday was the saga of Marion Jones. But I have to admit that, truth be told, it wasn’t actually in the top five things I was most intrigued about going into this game. Still, I guess I found that I did have some thoughts on Jones when the game was over.
Friday, May 14, 2010
It's aimed, of course, at people who are now watching the guys. Given that demographic, isn't it more or less the TV ad that serious W fans have wanted the league to produce for, oh, eleven years?
USA Today looks at the busy offseason and changes for the league. They also have capsules on every team.
Michelle Smith writes of the leaner and meaner league and she and Milton Kent post their picks and predictions.
SLAM online has a preview of each team from their team of Ben York, Clay Kallam and Stephen Litel.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
About a month ago, someone suggested to me that this past WNBA off-season might have involved the largest movement of star players in the history of the league.
In addition to the dispersal of Sacramento Monarchs players across the league, All-Stars Shameka Christon, Candice Dupree, Cappie Pondexter, Katie Smith, and Lindsay Whalen changed teams either by trade or free agency. The Tulsa Shock relocated and in addition to losing Smith, Taj McWilliams-Franklin left via free agency and neither Cheryl Ford nor Deanna Nolan will be playing for the team this season. The Washington Mystics lost Alana Beard for the season with an injury and the Los Angeles Sparks lost women's basketball legend Lisa Leslie to retirement. That's not to mention the Minnesota Lynx starting the season without Seimone Augustus and Candice Wiggins.In other words, there are so many question marks around so many teams that it's hard to make any strong predictions one way or the other.
Admittedly, the Connecticut Sun might not be the first choice for the average women's hoops fan seeking a rooting interest this WNBA season.
With UConn having won 78 games and two NCAA titles in a row, plus the UConn-heavy presence on the U.S. national team coached by Geno Auriemma, plus a defending champion WNBA squad led by Huskies legend Diana Taurasi … well, it's understandable if the rest of the women's basketball world has a little (or a lot of) Nutmeg State fatigue.Yet there are reasons to overcome that and appreciate what could be a championship-chasing Sun season.
From Deangelo McDaniel at Alabama's Decatur Daily: Rare photos tell story of all-girls Hazlewood High basketball champs
Before there was a three-point line, and before women's basketball had gained full acceptance, these women at Hazlewood High School made history.
Between 1924 and 1926, they made three consecutive appearances in the state tournament and built a reputation that, for the most part, history has forgotten.
As we continue to build this franchise on and off the floor, we are at times faced with making tough decisions. We are currently challenged with one of the most difficult decisions this organization has encountered. Unfortunately, Chamique Holdsclaw recently expressed a desire to be traded. Chamique was an integral part of our success last year and we had every intention of keeping her and having her continue to play a key role with the Dream. We are actively pursuing a resolution to grant her request and we appreciate all that Chamique has done to help our young franchise.How's that for transparency, Clay?
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
"I'm thrilled to be here. I have a clear vision and path for these young ladies," Cooper-Dyke said. "I'm excited to get out in the community, to create, to mentor, to mother, to lead these young women down the academic path to their degrees and, of course, down the path to a winning season, not only in the Colonial Athletic Association, but also nationally."
Over the course of the off-season, Swish Appeal has spoken with coaches and general managers around the league reflecting on their 2009 performance and looking forward to their 2010 season.
As part of those interviews, I asked two somewhat connected questions of the people I talked to:
- Are there players on your roster that aren't noticed by the fans or getting attention they deserve?
- Is there anyone in particular who you think is poised to have a breakout season?
Although it may seem that these questions lead to a list of Most Improved Player candidates, that's not necessarily where they're going.
There is a difference between pessimism and pragmatic realism _ even though at times, they can feel like the same thing.
The thought that the Big 12 as we’ve known it now since 1996 is not going to last much longer may seem pessimistic to those who’ve become fans of the league. But the more one reads and interprets, it seems more just an idea to get used to.
- It was the day 'o kids, so sorry, what? I can't hear you!
- Kalana Greene may turn out to be the steal of the draft.
- There are times Cappie and JMac take ego shots. And it makes me wanna smack'em on top of their head.
- Mini Mi seems to be on an even keel again -- not sure she's a starting point guard, but she was a feisty, defensive pest. Hey, if you're short and don't shoot, might as well play like Debbie Black.
- Triple overtime? In preseason?!?! Even the players were laughing.
- I really like Anne Donovan. But really, we need a clothing intervention. Can't Rebecca Lobo, Lisa Leslie, Big Syl talk to her?
- Is it too early to name Tina Charles Rookie of the Year?
Monday, May 10, 2010
Tulsa Shock head coach Nolan Richardson described his desire to have games look "ugly as hell" before the season started. This stylistic preference is not reverberating well with league aficionados who are claiming that Richardson's coaching methodology won't work for women's basketball, particularly not for the WNBA. Well, although the season has yet to start officially, the Shock now have their one and only preseason contest under their belt, a 90-80 Mother's Day win over the Seattle Storm.
And ugly as hell it was indeed, with Tulsa forcing Seattle to commit 32 turnovers in the 40 minute game. All in all, 13 of the 14 women that checked in for the Storm committed at least one turnover, with guard Tanisha Wright having the dubious distinction of being the game leader with six in just under 24 minutes of play.
Sunday, May 09, 2010
The upcoming WNBA season will bring plenty of changes for Alexis Hornbuckle and Renee Montgomery.
Hornbuckle, the former South Charleston High and Tennessee standout, saw her team move from Detroit to Tulsa, Okla., last October and hire new head coach Nolan Richardson, who led Arkansas to the NCAA men's championship in 1994 then lost in the title game the following year.
Saturday, May 08, 2010
The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) announced outstanding results from its 2010 WBCA Pink Zone® initiative. To date, the initiative has unified 1,809 teams and organizations through their participation in the 2010 breast cancer awareness campaign, held February 12-21.
Donations raised thus far surpass $1,045,000 and more than 922,000 fans were reached across the nation. Over 22 schools broke attendance records through participation in the WBCA Pink Zone
Former Olympic Gold Medalist Katy Steding and Blair Hardiek are the newest members of the women’s basketball coaching staff at the University of San Francisco as announced today by head coach Jennifer Azzi. The pair brings an exceptional mix of elite playing and outstanding coaching experience from the collegiate and professional ranks to the Hilltop.
Fresh off a championship this Spring in Israel, Liberty center Kia Vaughn is expecting to play a big role in bringing a WNBA title to New York this summer.
Vaughn can finally shake off the rookie jitters as she enters her second season in the WNBA and now focus on continuing to be a key frontline player on a Liberty team that added several All-Star players prior to training camp.
“Kia Vaughn had a good rookie season but will have a great second season,” said head coach Anne Donovan, one of the best post players in women’s hoops history.
Doesn't "debuts" just look wrong? I feel the same way about "debuted."
“I sometimes don’t think that the college coaches realize how fortunate they are to have a women’s professional league and how that motivates young girls, motivates high school players, motivates their players to continue to continue to get better, to continue to strive for the next level.” Those same coaches, she’s noticed, are recognizing the cachet of having a player enter the WNBA. “Let’s take a Kristi Cirone at Illinois State,” she posited. “How did that impact that team and that league, that she was striving for the next level? Megan Frazee at Liberty. How did it affect her team, her conference?”So, the W needs to make sure they reciprocate.
“That brings you additional media attention, gives value to your program, and you use it in your recruiting,” noted Dunn. “I walk into your locker room and there’s a huge photo of the player that got drafted. Now my question to you is, ‘What are you doing to make sure we’re around 10 years from now?’ We are helping you. You must help us. You must support us. You must invest in our future.”
Wanted to relay some personal experiences here without whining. In our dealings with the WNBA, the league rarely makes it easy. Should it be easy? We think so. Let's say a player is coming into town who you want to write about. Ideally you'd get to chat with that player for more than a few minutes at shootaround or prior the game, as the nature of the beast is when players are in game mode, there's little room for chit chat. But anybody who's done this for a living will tell you that it's not uncommon to be told you get 15 minutes and have 10 of those taken away. The teams we've dealt with aren't terribly interested in making their players stick to any sort of media commitment. Frankly, doing anything outside of ordinary game coverage is seen as a bother, which is inexplicable considering the lack of coverage this league receives.
Jim Petersen's basketball résumé includes winning the Minnesota Mr. Basketball Award at St. Louis Park, playing with the University of Minnesota plus eight years in the NBA, and being the Timberwolves' television analyst for the past 11 seasons.
Now he's a WNBA evangelist.
"I am here to spread the gospel and the good word of the WNBA,'' the Minnesota Lynx second-year assistant coach said. "I love this league, and I want to share it with others why I do.''
It's been nearly 25 years since Marynell Meadors coached women's basketball at Tennessee Tech, but she remains a popular figure in the Cookeville community.
That is why she is bringing the
WNBA'sAtlanta Dream to play an exhibition Sunday at Eblen Center. It will be the first professional basketball game ever played in the facility.
The real solution for the WNBA is the expansion of rosters to allow teams a taxi squad of at least one or two players. And this is something the financially prudent WNBA does not want to consider. Last year, the league limited teams to only 11 players – injured or not. The problem this creates for coaches is enormous and the product eventually suffers.Now, people have been saying the 11-player roster hurts the product. I would appreciate someone breaking that statement down and offering some specifics. Are the starters playing more minutes than they usually do? Are they getting injured more often because they're on the court more? Are their performances dropping off during the end of the season and in the playoffs because they've played more minutes? Is scoring down? Is scoring UP (because players are tired and can't defend)?
After the Phoenix Mercury's 77-58 exhibition loss to the Seattle Storm last Sunday afternoon, I tweeted that guard Tyra Grant is a candidate for the strongest handshake in the WNBA.
I will now confess that I did not determine this by shaking every single player's hand, but that's not quite the point anyway.
And congrats to all involved who've put Swish Appeal on the front page of WNBA.com!
Now, if the W could only figure out how to send an email out to all its fans ALERTING them to the news links... Yah, I know, I'm a broken record....
Friday, May 07, 2010
She said no to radio jobs and television jobs that would keep her away from her kids for long stretches. She's declined coaching job offers. She passed on extended road trips and opportunities to move her family to a new city.Yet Meyers Drysdale has had a fruitful career. She's called NBA games and NCAA Championship games and Olympic events for CBS, NBC and ESPN.
Thursday, May 06, 2010
Great news for Liberty fans. *searches for sarcasm emoticon*
At the conclusion of the Knicks and Rangers 2010-11 seasons, The Garden will be closed for three consecutive summers to complete work on this project. We are currently in discussions to relocate the Liberty during this time, and will update you when a plan is finalized. While we understand these changes will present some inconvenience, these steps are necessary to facilitate the transformation of The Garden, which will make the "World's Most Famous Arena," the world's most state-of-the-art arena.If the Donna hasn't taken notice of the perilous state of the Liberty franchise, perhaps this will get her attention. 'cause I'm really excited to travel to Newark for games...
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
A limited - VERY limited - supply of "Proud member of the Women's Basketball Intelligentsia" t-shirts are now in my closet.
They're standard white. Sizes range from small to 3X. On the front, non-existent pocket, it reads
Proud member of theWomen's BasketballIntelligentsiahttp://www.womenshoops.blogspot.com/
Don't worry, David Stern, I'm sending yours out tomorrow. :-)
Tuesday, May 04, 2010
Monday, May 03, 2010
I'm going to ask you ten trivia questions about the WNBA. The answers to these questions won't be provided - for help, see your local internet.
1. Name the first team to win four WNBA championships.PS Because there's one I don't know, I'm subbing in a question: Which team is the only team to have played back-to-back-to-back games. (Bonus: Why?)
2. Name the only two players to win the Most Valuable Player award in the WNBA three times.
3. Name the only player to win the MVP award as a rookie.
4. What were the two major changes made to WNBA rules in the start of the 2006 season?
5. Which team won the first WNBA game ever played?
6. Who was the first player to ever score a basket in the WNBA?
7. What player scored the most points ever in a WNBA game? (Bonus: How many points did she score?)
8. Which WNBA player born in the United States played for the Russian Olympic team in the 2008 Olympics?
9. Who is the tallest player in WNBA history?
10. After which player is the WNBA's Sportsmanship Award named?
If you feel bad that you don't know the answers to many of these questions, well...don't.
To be honest, I don't know if it's censorship or simple incompetence. Either way, it's stupid.
Sunday, May 02, 2010
So, I'm going to call my mom and dad and tell them I love'em, tromp through the woods and admire the miracles that are birds like this and this, and strike up a conversation with a total stranger to remind myself how easy it is to connect in a warm, healthy way with my fellow human beings.
And then maybe I'll listen to the Beth and Debbie "Pre-Final Four" podcast and have myself a couple of laughs.
Saturday, May 01, 2010
Dunno -- what's an article in the NYTimes Magazine worth?
The WNBA Playoffs will return to ABC this year. The network will air an early round playoff game on Sunday, September 5 (1 PM ET), and one game from the WNBA Finals on September 12 (3 PM). ABC has not aired a WNBA Finals game since 2006.
If you're around a TV and get ESPN Classic, make sure you check our "Heart of the Game" at 6pm EST.
So, I WILL be making up some "WHBlog - Proud member of the women's basketball intelligentsia" t-shirts.
Want one? (It won't be $40 -- something closer to $27 - shipping included). Drop me an email that says "Yes" and toss in your size.
No commitment -- it'll just give me a parameter for ordering.
Interested? Email Helen AT womensbasketballonline.com
The Chicago Sky WNBA basketball team will be holding a fund-raiser for the Starla Williams Scholarship Fund on Saturday, May 22, in their season-opener against the Indiana Fever at the Allstate Arena.
Williams is former Antioch High star who died in a car accident earlier this season.