Saturday, September 24, 2016

Round two, day one

Today's result:

Lead by Diana Taurasi, the Mercury eliminated the Liberty, 101-94.

Liberty thoughts:

New York seems to choke at crunch moments. It might be time to let Katie Smith take the reins.

Playoff thoughts:

This new one-and-done format feels like a ripoff. By tomorrow two playoff rounds will be over after a total of four games. The WNBA is trying to get more eyes on the teams, yet they're cutting the playoffs down. It doesn't make sense.

If the NBA playoffs can continue for two months, the WNBA playoffs can go on for three weeks.

I don't believe the NBA is looking at the WNBA playoffs as a test drive. They make way too much money during the two months of playoffs to make any cuts.

Tomorrow's game:

The Sky's goal is to stop Angel McCoughtry.

Anthem Watch:

I guess we have Anthem Watch now: Liberty players and coaches locked arms during the Anthem tonight, and two Mercury players sat.

A wee bit more before the second round

WNBA team news:

How the new playoff format put the Liberty in a do or die situation.

Mercury players will keep kneeling during the Anthem.

Phoenix flipped the switch to advance to round two.

Tamika Catchings:

As Tamika Catchings retires, the WNBA loses the ultimate superstar.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Plenty of pre-round two news

Playoffs:

The "Cinderella" Mercury will next try to knock off the Liberty.

New York players discuss the match up.

Can the Liberty make the Finals?

Limiting Tina Charles will be key for Phoenix in the second round.

Is another Diana Taurasi elimination game takeover in store tomorrow?

The Liberty look to regain their momentum in the playoffs.

Check out the WNBA's star-studded new playoffs ad.

A new playoffs era has begun.

Sky forward Elena Delle Donne will miss Sunday's round two game as she recovers from thumb surgery.

Delle Donne's first Nike retail shoe will make its debut in Chicago's playoffs.

WNBA team news:

What's next for the Indiana Fever?

Stars general manager Ruth Riley is still exploring San Antonio.

WNBA player news:

The childhood bond of Liberty teammates Tina Charles and Epiphanny Prince outlasts their rivalry.

Nobody dominates like Charles.

The Mercury's playoff win has put Penny Taylor's retirement on hold.

Protests:

Tamika Catchings continues her father's Civil Rights march, on a knee.

Will a men's team match the Indiana Fever in protest?

One publication says probably not.

ABL:

Where are they now? Former Columbia Quest player Valerie Still.

College news:

Some coaches are opting for a de facto boycott of the recruiting season workload.

ESPN's version of the story.

Texas has extended the contract of coach Karen Aston through 2019-2020.

Northern Arizona has let coach Sue Darling go.

Rynae Rasley is a new assistant coach at Air Force.

Duquesne's new assistant coach is Cherie Lea.

Lisa Pace is Kennesaw State's new assistant coach.

The NCAA has granted Illinois transfer Chatrice White immediate eligibility at Florida State.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Mercury, Dream advance in first round

Tonight's first-round playoff action:

The Mercury defeated the Fever, 89-87.

The Dream ousted the Storm, 94-85.

With Indiana's loss, Tamika Catchings is officially retired.

(Make sure you get tissues before you open that last story and see the video)

Second round:

Also single-elimination, will be Mercury at Liberty, 7 p.m. Eastern Saturday and Dream at Sky, 1 p.m. Eastern Sunday.

WNBA playoffs:

Some feel the new format adds excitement.

(I'm personally not digging it)

WNBA team news:

The Fever knelt during the National Anthem tonight, joined by the Mercury's Mistie Bass and Kelsey Bone.

Catchings on why the team knelt.

WNBA players news:

Tamika Catchings won the Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award.

The Dream's Elizabeth Williams won the most improved player award.

Q&A with Sparks forward Candace Parker.

Mercury guard Diana Taurasi is Argentinian and Italian.

WNBA coach news:

From South Jersey to La Salle to WNBA royalty.

WNBA's 20th season sees highest attendance in five years

The league announced today:

ATTENDANCE: The WNBA registered its highest attendance (1,561,530) since 2011 and the highest average attendance (7,655) over the same time period (a 4.6% increase over last year). The season was highlighted by record-breaking numbers for the Chicago Sky and Indiana Fever. The Sky set franchise records for average attendance (7,009) and single-game crowd (16,444) against the Los Angeles Sparks on July 13. The Fever had its highest average (8,575) since 2001, and boosted the second highest single-game attendance in franchise history of 17,704 on Sept. 18 for legend Tamika Catchings’ final regular-season game. Also this season, the Phoenix Mercury recorded the highest average attendance (10,351) for the franchise since 1999.

VIEWERSHIP: Combined ESPN and ESPN2 viewership was up 11% this season over last year (224,000 vs. 202,000). The season was highlighted by the season opener on ESPN between the Phoenix Mercury and the Minnesota Lynx, which delivered 505,000 viewers and delivered the highest-rated, regular-season WNBA game on the ESPN networks since 2011.

DIGITAL: WNBA.com set a record for traffic with average monthly unique visitors up 22% and video views up 50% over last season.

WNBA LEAGUE PASS: The league’s out-of-market live game streaming product saw a record 24% increase in subscriptions this year.

SOCIAL MEDIA: The league surpassed 12 million likes and followers across all league, team and player social platforms, growing by 20%, with the addition of three million fans from last season. The WNBA also achieved records with over 530 million impressions, and over 50 million video views, both metrics more than doubling last year’s mark.

MERCHANDISE: This season saw record sales on WNBAStore.com, an increase of 30% over last year with Breanna Stewart and the Seattle Storm capturing the top spot on the list of best-selling jerseys and team merchandise.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

18 hours until playoffs begin

Playoffs:

Tamika Catchinga and Stephanie White are looking to extend their Fever careers in the playoffs.

Catchings wants to keep driving her new Lexus to work.

Under the new playoff format, the Liberty have no room for error. They are waiting for their shot at a championship.

The return to the playoffs is encouraging for Storm point guard Sue Bird. The Storm are peaking at the perfect time.

Dream guard Tiffany Hayes has been suspended for tomorrow's loser-out game for receiving her seventh technical foul of the season. But the Dream are ready to run without Hayes.

Rebekkah Brunson is a machine for the Lynx.

Mercury veteran Diana Taurasi only gets better in elimination games.

Phoenix looks to salvage their season in the playoffs.

Playoff logistics.

The new WNBA playoff model could be an NBA test case.

Tomorrow's game schedule:

Mercury and Fever tip off at 3 p.m. Pacific/6 p.m. Eastern, and Storm and Dream begin at 5 p.m. Pacific/8 p.m. Eastern, both on ESPNews.

Award time:

Nneka Ogwumike is the AP WNBA player of the year.

Storm forward Breanna Stewart has won the AP rookie of the year award.

Brian Agler is the AP coach of the year.

The AP sixth woman of the year is Jantel Lavender.

Sylvia Fowles is the AP defensive player of the year.

The AP comeback player of the year is Chiney Ogwumike.

The AP most improved player is Elizabeth Williams.

AP first and second teams are here.

Here's the AP all-rookie team.

Stewart swept the WNBA's rookie of the month awards for this season.

Tina Charles and Sue Bird are the WNBA's peak performers.

Maya Moore and Tina Charles are the Western and Eastern Conference players of the month for September.

WNBA player news:

Tamika Catchings recently found a moving note from Pat Summitt from her rookie season.

Elena Delle Donne feels her sister's presence in Chicago.

Sun rookie Jonquel Jones' future is bright.

A day in the life of rookie Breanna Stewart.

WNBA coach news:

Indiana coach Stephanie White says the Fever are in her DNA.

College news:

Ohio State transfers are ready to fill big roles.

Georgia freshman Kortney Eisenman has been medically disqualified for a heart condition.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Tamika Catchings honored supremely at retirement ceremony

Still thinking about this epic ceremony.

Prepping for playoffs

WNBA playoff format.

Playoff schedule.

Round one preview: #5 Fever vs. #8 Mercury

#6 Atlanta vs. #7 Storm

The Indy Star says the new playoff format is a head-scratcher.

There is buzz from the new format.

It's a new format, but the Lynx are still the favorites.

WNBA team news:

The Storm excelled in the home stretch and carry that momentum into the playoffs.

The Lynx are making St. Paul home for the playoffs.

The Sun found chemistry at season's end. The rookies are providing a glimpse of the future.

WNBA player news:

The Mercury's Penny Taylor is looking for overtime in the playoffs.

Nneka Ogwumike is the most efficient shooter ever professional basketball.

Sue Bird and Tina Charles are setting the standard in the WNBA, say UConn people.

Breanna Stewart is taking the Storm by storm.

Jasmine Thomas and Nneka Ogwumike are the Eastern and Western Conference players of the week.

WNBA coach news:

So long to Dan Hughes - one of the best coaches the WNBA has seen.

Tamika Catchings:

More on the GOAT's final regular-season home game and retirement ceremony yesterday.

Her account of the day's events.

She began her day with church.

It was a perfect finish for Catchings.

She is forever an icon.

DeLisha Milton-Jones announces retirement

DeLisha Milton-Jones took a job as assistant coach at Pepperdine last month, so her retirement was implied. But today she made it official with a "letter to basketball":

Dear Basketball,

I’ve toiled over writing this letter for months now, but I’ve finally come to terms with announcing my… retirement! It feels funny to say the word without getting emotional. Basketball has been a part of me for almost half of my lifetime. If I could play forever, I would do it without hesitation. There’s nothing like being a professional athlete. I took a lot of pride in calling myself one......

I gave the game every ounce of me to the point of complete destruction and rebuilding… literally! I played the game so hard for so long that I now walk away with two titanium rods in my shins and a replaced ACL, MCL and Achilles tendon. I would give all of those body parts up again for a chance at reliving my 17 years. One thing’s for sure: The undying love I have in my heart for the game will never leave. Father Time is still undefeated, but I gave him a run for his money.


Aw, geez. So many greats leaving the game this year. DMJ is one of my favorites. This is rough.

DMJ's career by the numbers.

The league's longest-tenured player, in photos.