Monday, May 31, 2010

A little bit of Volness

SLAMonline has an interview with Chamique Holdsclaw that is supposed to merely be part 1. I admire the attempt, but are we really learning anything from this interview?

The Lady Vols remain sprung on freshman Kamiko Williams.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Dream 101, Sparks 82

Here's the story, and Dream forward Angel McCoughtry summed it up:

"Then we just scored at will.”

That's how it seemed during the second half: the Sparks would work so hard for the basket, and the Dream would just pop it in.

Thoughts and observations, in no particular order:

- The reason Atlanta is undefeated? McCoughtry with 32, Sancho Lyttle with 19, Iziane Castro-Marques with 24, and Erika DeSouza with 14. They're fast, they have great defense, and they see the floor and are in sync. How'd they get so good so fast? I don't know, but they're good.

- The reason LA only has one win? Their defense is horrible. No boxing out, no following the shot. They let Atlanta get away with way too much. And after scoring, the Sparks didn't get back on defense, so that the Dream answered right away. An exercise in frustration to watch. Pat Summitt's head would have exploded.

- Ticha Penicheiro may not be THE answer at point guard for the Sparks. She only played half the game again, and in the minutes she did play, she was throwing some crazy passes and looked out of control a couple times. But I think that between her, Kristi Toliver and Andrea Riley - both of whom got a chance tonight - the Sparks will be OK at the one-spot.

- Me and those in my row think Coach Jennifer Gillom leaves players in too long. The opposite of the quick hook, players seem to get tired on the floor before she'll pull them out.

- Angel McCoughtry is just silky. Her shot is so smooth, and she makes her trip to the basket look so easy, that it's deceptive. Iziane Castro-Marques and Sancho Lyttle were 11-16 and 9-14, respectively. Did the Sparks make adjustments for them? No.

- Tina Thompson was 9-11 on two-point shots and 5-7 on three's. It was a sight to behold. Two of her three's were NBA-range. Twenty-six points? Booyah.

- Candace Parker, doing everything again. Thirty-three points, 12 rebounds, six blocks, two assists. She was all about the head fakes tonight, looking like she was going one way and shimmying to the right. She doesn't seem to be afraid to take anyone on one-on-one.

- I don't think these stats have been updated this weekend yet, but I wonder how they'll change on Tuesday? Taurasi, McCoughtry, Parker, Pondexter, Jackson and Taylor for MVP? Jackson had 27 today. They're all making a strong case for it. Twas quite a sight tonight to see Parker and McCoughtry go at it, basket for basket.

- Until now, Parker and Delisha Milton-Jones have had the coolest player-to-player handshake on the Sparks team. But now I think that honor goes to the special handshake that Penicheiro and Riley have. You gotta see it.

- Box score.

- I didn't take too many pictures tonight because I was a bit deflated.



Sparks Coach Jennifer Gillom addresses the team at a first-quarter timeout.



Arminitie Price, right, missed this shot, but Erika DeSouza, behind her, got the put back.



Do we like the new ref uniforms?



Candace Parker puts up a shot in the third quarter.



Delisha Milton-Jones, left, tries to score, but it didn't happen. She was 2-11 on the night.

Today's WNBA games previewed

The 4-1 Storm take on the 2-2 Silver Stars.

The 3-1 Sun face off with the 3-3 Mystics.

The 5-0 Dream square up with the 1-3 Sparks.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Summer club ball tourneys

Here's the Summer, 2010 tournament/evaluation schedule:

June 8-11: USA Basketball U17 and U18 Team Trials -- Colorado Springs, Colo.

June 23-27: FIBA Americas U18 Championship -- Colorado Springs, Colo.

July 5-8: USA Invitational @ Penn State -- University Park, Pa.

July 5-8: MARQUES JACKSON Big State Flava Jam -- Dallas, Texas

July 5-8: PBR Super 64 -- Frisco, Texas

July 6-9: End of the Trail -- Oregon City, Ore.

July 5-8: USJN's Premier Invitational -- Mason, Ohio

July 6-8: Summer Derby Classic -- Louisville, Ky.

July 9-11: Run for the Roses -- Lexington, Ky.

July 10-13: Nike Summer Showcase -- Elgin, Ill.

July 10-15: AAU U16 National Championships -- Orlando, Fla.

July 11-13: AAU Freshman Showcase -- Orlando, Fla.

July 13-15: Adidas National Championships

July 13-16: Battle in the Boro -- Murfreesboro, Tenn.

July 14-15: California Summer Games -- Hawthorne, Calif.

July 16-25: FIBA U17 World Championships -- Rodez and Toulouse, France

July 21-25: Basketball on the Bayou -- New Orleans, La.

July 22-25: USJN Championships -- Washington, D.C.

July 22-25: Music City Madness -- Nashville, Tenn.

July 24-26: Peach State Summer Invitational -- Kennesaw, Ga.

July 27-29: Elite 24 Summer Jam --Augusta, Ga.

July 28-31: Nike Nationals -- North Augusta, S.C.

July 28-31: Fila Nationals -- Suwanee, Ga.

The End of the Trail Tournament brackets are already done.

Hot damn!

More on Oregon State

I'm not sure why this is still being brought up, unless Oregonlive has a secret wish to get Oregon State Coach LaVonda Wagner fired, but here's another piece on the embattled head of the program. This is the part that bothers me:

Concerns long ignored

Although De Carolis is evaluating the program, as recently as the end of this regular season he said publicly of Wagner, "She's our coach, and we back her."

That statement -- despite what players and families say were repeated warnings that something was amiss -- has left many seething.

"We would go and tell different people and they would say, 'Oh, it's not gonna get back to her (Wagner),'" Mitchell says of conversations with administrators below De Carolis. "Then the next day we're having a meeting and (she's) yelling at us, saying people are going back and saying untruthful and hurtful things about her.

"Every time we went to someone, nothing got done."

Three parents say they tried repeatedly to contact De Carolis about what was going on in the program but got no response.

In an e-mail dated Feb. 22, 2010, Mayfield says she wrote De Carolis to say she was "very concerned about the mental state of all the girls on the team." Mayfield says De Carolis never responded.

Erica Sadler, Eboni's mother, says she also tried to contact De Carolis with e-mails and phone calls over a number of months, only to be ignored.

Debra Champlin wrote three letters -- one to Wagner, one to De Carolis and one to Oregon State President Ed Ray -- expressing her concern about the state of the program and the way players were being treated. In the letter to Ray on May 13, 2008, she wrote, "Since summer of 2006 Whitney has watched 4 of her teammates, 3 of her coaches and a much loved athletic trainer leave the OSU Women's Basketball Program. What is truly going on in this program?" Champlin never got a response.

De Carolis says complaints about the athletic program are delegated to associate athletic directors Marianne Vydra or Todd Stansbury, depending on the sport involved. De Carolis says he "feels good about the communication" that went on within the administration, and stressed that he, Vydra and Stansbury have an open-door policy for athletes. As far as correspondence to the president's office, De Carolis says Ray passes it on to him. While De Carolis does not recall responding to Mayfield's e-mail in particular, he says he eventually spoke with McAlister and that conversation prompted him to act.


This is Wagner's contract. I guess I'm wondering why anyone would sign a new coach for eight years.

A good coach

So what defines a good high school (and college) coach? It's more than wins and losses, though that definitely plays a part in it. Obviously a coach whose team has a losing record year after year after year isn't advancing the program or the kids in it when it comes to skills. But a winning coach isn't necessarily a good one just because her/his team wins.

First and foremost, a good coach should know how to develop a player and help her become better. This means specifics: teaching her a drop-step, forcing her to use her left hand when she keeps going right, guiding her through the right footwork over and over until she has it down, teaching her where to catch the ball and how to play smart, strategic ball. Kids, and particularly athletes, want to learn and improve, so it's the coach's job to teach them. If all or most of the players on a team haven't progressed at all or much by season's end, that's a sign that the coach isn't doing her/his job.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of those types of coaches. But it's easy to spot a well-coached team - they're the ones who play good defense, who have correct shooting form, who talk to each other on the floor. Nationally-ranked-for-a-reason Brea Olinda and Mater Dei come to mind. The teams who run and gun and who win a lot while playing sloppily are those where a coach is relying on the athleticism of the players to carry them. They seem to "accidentally" win a lot.

Athletes with good fundamentals equals good coaching.

A good coach teaches, because coaching and teaching are the same. I advocate that coaches be put through some of the same schooling as teachers are, because during the season coaches see athletes and teach them as much, if not more than their individual teachers. Coaches should learn about individualizing instruction, scaffolding instruction, and some of the basic tenents of the profession. This includes being fair and consistent in the application of rules, using positive reinforcement and cutting down on negative talk, and never using sarcasm with young people. Too many coaches not only don't take the time to teach well but they play favorites, aren't consistent with discipline, and spend too much time bawling kids out, to the point where their self-confidence on the court takes a dive.

Fairness and consistency applies across the board. Does the coach say one thing and do another? Change the schedule at the last minute? This gives young people a basis of instability and inconsistency, when structure is what they need most.

If more coaches paid attention to these things, all that talk about character by the CIF (May 20 blog) would be unneccessary. Teachers and coaches don't teach character, they model it. If a coach spends most of her/his time belittling and criticizing, why would they expect their players to respect them?

Another thing good coaches do is they care about their athletes as individuals. It's something teachers learn through the credentialing process. When a teacher or coach is firm but caring, young people respond. They learn, and they adhere to the rules. If a coach acts like she/he only cares about winning or the program, makes personal attacks on an athlete, then the coach loses those athletes. The worst is if a coach gives up on her/his players. Most kids need encouragement and reinforcement often, so when a coach gives up, they have nothing left. And they don't forget that the coach did that.

A good coach should be all of these things, and professional at the same time. This includes not commenting on an athlete's appearance, family or personal life. Got a problem with lesbians? Then don't coach girls and women. There have always been lesbians in girl's and women's basketball, for whatever reason, and that doesn't look to change any time soon. A coach should be focused on basketball and basketball only.

Good coaching, like good teaching, is an art. Good coaches are good teachers whose main goal is to develop players both individually and as a team. Good coaches are positive, fair, consistent, caring, firm and professional. When all of these things come together, a program thrives and grows.

A little bird told me.......

That several players at a major Big East school are transferring. One athlete is supposedly going to a Midwest school, a second to a Southeast school, and another player will announce her transfer within the next few days.

I wish it wasn't the weekend, because I'd like to call the school, which recently hired a new head coach, and see if this is true.

Sparks 81, Mystics 75

Hey, that was fun. Big old crowd, too: 13,154 people.

Candace Parker played like a woman possessed from tipoff, which she won. She was stealing the ball, making assists, knocking down shots, making successful back door cuts, blocking. Ended up with 30 points and 10 rebounds, and broke the 1000-point scoring mark. She only played half of a season last year, too. Amazing.

Delisha Milton-Jones also looks scary good. She is 35 but you'd never know to watch her.

The Sparks really need to work on defense. Their D is not good at all.

The Mystics are no joke this year. It's great to see that. Monique Currie, Crystal Langhorne, Katie Smith, Lindsey Harding and Chastity Melvin all scored in double figures. They have great communication and play like a tight unit. If they don't go deep into the playoffs this year I'll be surprised.

Box score.

Here's the game thread.

And this is the story.

The door giveaways last night were foam fingers and "opening night" T-shirts. Awesome. The emcee had fans hold up their foam fingers at a fourth quarter timeout, and it was quite a sight.

Sunday's game against the unbeaten Atlanta Dream will be "dads and daughters" night. Why don't they ever have "mothers and daughters" night?



My two favorite pro players - Candace Parker and Betty Lennox - together again (during the national anthem).



.....and then afterwards for a little offense-defense practice.



Sparks co-owners Carla Christofferson, with baby Jack on front, and Kathy Goodman, welcome the crowd to the game.



Parker telling her teammates what the play's going to be.



Delisha Milton-Jones was having back problems at the beginning of the third quarter, so she sat out and on a foam roller for a bit.



Parker, right, watches Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton do some of her damage at the beginning of the third quarter.



Kristi Toliver, who played for most of the second half while Ticha Penichiero sat out with a sore Achilles tendon, vs. Lindsey Harding.



Parker sweeps up daughter Lailaa after the game......



.....and goes to greet friend and UCLA Coach Nikki Caldwell (Tasha Butts was there too).

In other games last night, the undefeated Dream squeaked by the Mercury, 96-93. The Liberty beat the Silver Stars 77-71.

Friday, May 28, 2010

WNBA catch up

One WNBA writer lists 10 things he's noticed over the first two weeks of the season. This is proof that LA is truly a Hollywood team. Because even though they suck right now, they're mentioned in two of the bullets.

Jayne Appel is finally going to suit up for San Antonio tonight. Holdsclaw and Appel....what an interesting combination.

Yesterday the Fever acquired Shavonte Zellous from the Shock in exchange for a second-round draft pick next year.

WNBA players are blogging:

Bless Andrea Riley's heart. The LA rookie says she's been humbled and down at times in her first season.

Monica Wright, aka the beast, checks in.

Jayne Appel has a lot to say.

So does Danielle McCray.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Transfers, rankings, and all that

On the college transfer tip:

Louisville has lost three players - one who has finally picked volleyball over basketball, a second for a medical harship, and a third who is transfering, it seems, to be closer to family. That makes sense to me, because I can't imagine anyone running from Coach Jeff Walz.

He and Louisville signed five top freshmen for next year, and they're also getting Cierra Robertson-Warren, who is transferring from North Carolina. That's huge.

Marquette loses starter Jessica Pachko, who is transferring to Xavier.

Great college news:

Women's basketball surpasses 11 million in attendance for the third consecutive year.

On the WNBA tip:

The rookie rankings are out, and Tina Charles, Kelsey Griffin, Natasha Lacy, Monica Wright and Epiphany Prince, respectively, hold down the top spots. You gotta give Lacy props as the underdog.

Alana Beard is blogging for SLAMonline.

The real writer is back for the LA Times with a pretty good Sparks story. The lead is great for starters:

The Sparks are lost. They're trying to find themselves but haven't had much luck. They don't seem to be anywhere they're looking.

They could try checking the last place they were, but that wouldn't help. They've changed since then. There's a new coach, a new system; players have come and gone.

This identity crisis has left them with three straight losses to start the season, all coming on the road. Friday night's game against the Washington Mystics is their first home game.


Here's the key part, though:

Outside of Parker's adjustment, Thompson said what Gillom wants compared with what former coach Michael Cooper wanted is "very different."

For starters, she said, Cooper preferred a half-court offense that got the ball inside. Gillom, on the other hand, wants to score more in transition, which relies more on guard-play and helps explain the team's off-season acquisition of veteran point guard Ticha Penicheiro.

On defense, Gillom said the team needs to be more aggressive — especially on the perimeter — because it doesn't have Leslie's intimidating presence in the middle.

These concepts have yet to gel. Thompson and Parker said the team falls into these moments where it plays as though Cooper is still coaching, which has hurt them.

"We knew there was going to be an adjustment period," Parker said. "We've been together as an entire team for two weeks. This is still preseason for us. We would still be disappointed at 3-0 if we were playing the way we're playing."

Gillom said confusion is expected and that you can't rush these things. "It takes time," she said. "It's just taking us a little longer than we expected."


Q and A with Ashley Walker, who - bless her heart - isn't giving up and is still training in hopes of being picked up.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A little bit of wow

Mark Lewis of ESPN has more great advice for high school players looking to impress college coaches in the next two months. And it's extra-cranial advice, too - I love it:

Show them that you won't overreact.
Starting the game 0-for-5 from the field doesn't mean that you stop shooting. If it was a good shot to take five minutes ago, it's a good shot to take now. At the same time you can't warm up a cold stroke by firing away every time you get your hands on the ball. Shooting your way out of a slump may be a good way to shoot yourself in the foot as well.

Show them you can learn over the course of the game.
Just like shooting, you can't force things with passing. If it didn't get there the first time, don't throw the exact same pass again because you're bound and determined to "get it there." Read the defender better, set it up with a fake or reverse the ball and allow the pass come from another angle.

Show them that you have reading and math skills.
On the break, see the floor and read the defense. If the numbers aren't there, make smart choices with the ball. Not many recruiters are looking for point guards who think two-on-four situations are a good time to attack. There aren't too many looking for players taking 3-pointers when it's two-on-one either. Do the math.


Wow!

I always loved Shay Murphy when she played for USC. I was worried her first two years in the WNBA when she got no playing time and was shuffled around. Now it looks like she's the sixth woman for the Indiana Fever. Fantastic.

The coaching round robin continues: Ronald Hughey is leaving Rutgers to coach at Texas. He replaces Mickie DeMoss, who returned to Tennessee.

A second assistant coach has left the University of Washington.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Players to watch out for: Part I

Hoopism has, in the past, invited readers to bring great players/unsung heros to our attention that they feel deserve a look. Aspiring journalist Danielle Brown has done one better: she wrote a column on some of these athletes. She also "hired" Hoopism, who was chillin at a tournament this past weekend, to take pictures for her piece.

Hi - I'm Danielle Brown, and I have been playing for the Cal Sparks for two years. During that time, I have seen some of the best players from all over the country. But the ones that stand out the most to me are the players from Cal Sparks.

Cal Sparks Gold, which is the organization's top team, is full of talent. For example, Reshanda Gray is an awesome post player who improves every game, and Janitah Iamaleava is another post player with a positive attitude. Ariya Crook-Williams is five-foot-seven inches, but rebounds and plays like she's much taller. We on the Sparks all know and love these players, but there are up-and-coming rising starlets on the other Cal Sparks teams, too.

Camille Baker plays for Cal Sparks Black. I played with Camille last year on the Sparks 16s team, and I loved it. Camille is the ideal player because she plays tough defense, dives for loose balls, and she always wants to improve her game. If she can up her offense before July, she will have no problem finding a college to attend in August 2011.

Samira Fields (Sam) also plays for Black. I have had the pleasure of playing with Sam after I changed teams and ended up on the 17s last year. Sam knows the game well. Her shot is unique, but it goes down, and when she is hot she is HOT. I hope she can improve a little in both defense and offense before the July tournaments kick off.

Chante Miles, who plays for Gold, is new to the Cal Sparks family. She was on Black at one time, but Coach Elbert (Kinnebrew, Cal Sparks Director) brought her up to Gold to replace an injured player. Chante is a very intelligent player. From the top of the key she dribbles the ball and looks around, seeing absolutely everything on the floor. I call her a PLAY MAKER. Chante most def has an eye for the game, and I predict that after the travel ball season is over, she will have had a bucket full of offers.

There are soooooo many up and coming Stars in the Cal Sparks Program. Here are just a few:

Hailey Vaccher Black 2011
Jasmin Barnett Black 2011
Maya Woody Black 2012
NaShauni Ponton Black 2011
Shelby Dougherty Black 2011
Tajhe Kelley Black 2011
Charity Farmer Silver 2013
Janelle Porter Blue 2013
DeMoria White Blue 2014
Annie Park Silver 2012
Carol Powell Silver 2013
Kristen Simon Silver 2014

Cal Sparks in my eyes is the best traveling basketball program around. With five ranked players, including one that has received an invitation to try out for USA Basketball (Gray), Cal Sparks has introduced us all to some outstanding players past, present and future.

(Hoopism's note: see the "overtime battle" and "buzzer beater thriller" comments in the margins of the scores of this past weekend's tournament? Both were because Camille Baker put up a last-second shot to win the game).



Camille Baker tries to catch her teammate's attention during one of Cal Sparks Black's Saturday games.



Baker waits for a free throw during the first Sunday game.



Samira Fields sizes up the competition.



Baker and Fields during Black's last game Sunday.



Chante Miles clamps down on defense during Cal Sparks Gold's tournament championship game against Cal Storm Taurasi Sunday.

_______________________________________________________



Danielle Brown plays for Washington Prep High School, where she is finishing her junior year. Brown, a forward, and the other Lady Generals won the Marine League title this past season.

Tuesday evening news

The news is all over the place today.......

NCAA:

The Hartford Courant really likes to get a jump start on things - they're already previewing next year's Baylor Bears.

Back in this year, Georgetown Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy is the 2010 recipient of the Black Coaches & Administrator's Female Coach of the Year Award. Fantastic.

WNBA:

Nicole Powell - and almost everyone else on the team - is settling into New Yawk life with the Liberty.

Yesterday's Seattle Times' women's hoops blog includes an interview with former Storm player and fan favorite Simone Edwards. Today's entry tabs the Washington Mystics.

Other:

Nike management is making changes, and they're focusing on expanding sports for girls. Maybe they'd also like to focus on getting a new media relations department, while they're at it, because the current one ignores media requests.

Afternoon stop

ESPN's Chris Hansen weighs in on the West Coast Premier Spring Invitational May 15-16, with one of his tip sheets. Hansen has a great eye. He's got on his 2011 list three players that I've felt have gone unsung: Myeisha Hall, Tear'a Laudermill and Deajanae Scurry. His individual assessments of them are right on the money, too.

Hoopfeed has a nice interview with Alexis Hornbuckle of the Tulsa Shock.

Monday, May 24, 2010

On the pro tip

To no one's surprise, Lauren Jackson and Angel McCoughtry were named the WNBA Western and Eastern Conference players of the week, respectively.

Silver Stars Coach Sandy Brondello thought she was going to ease Chamique Holdsclaw into the mix when the former Lady Vol joined the team. But the Claw hit the ground running.

Alana Beard enjoys helping younger ball players.

And UCLA Coach Nikki Caldwell had some interesting reflections on this past season:

“I look back and watch film and I’m pleased with the effort. We played really hard,” Caldwell said. “I didn’t see a lazy team. We had good practices and preparations for games. We are going in the right direction.”

The Bruins got an injection of leadership and talent from newcomers Jasmine Dixon and Markel Walker.

Caldwell said she credits her team for embracing Dixon — who played her first game in December after sitting out one year after transferring from Rutgers.

“The biggest difference in being a better team was that we were better teammates,” Caldwell said.

USA Basketball U18, U17 invitees selected

The U18 list has been revealed:

Name - Class - Pos - Height - Home - Town - College - Choice

Brittany Boyd 2011 PG 5-9 Berkeley, Calif. Undecided
Stefanie Dolson 2010 P 6-5 Port Jervis, N.Y. Connecticut
Raven Ferguson 2011 G 5-11 Columbus, Ohio Undecided
Karla Gilbert 2010 P 6-4 College Station, Texas Texas A&M
Reshanda Gray 2011 F 6-3 Los Angeles, Calif. Undecided
Cassie Harberts 2010 F 6-2 San Clemente, Calif. Southern Cal
Bria Hartley 2010 PG 5-7 North Babylon, N.Y. Connecticut
Kaneisha Horn 2010 W 6-1 Birmingham, Ala. Alabama
Richa Jackson 2010 W 6-1 Midwest City, Okla. Duke
Sara James 2010 G 5-10 El Dorado Hills, Calif. Stanford
Afure Jemerigbe 2010 G 5-11 Stockton, Calif. California
Morgan Jones 2011 F 6-2 Altamonte Springs, Fla. Undecided
Allyson Malott 2011 F 6-3 Middleton, Ohio Undecided
Kayla McBride 2010 G 5-11 Erie, Pa. Notre Dame
Shanece McKinney 2010 P 6-4 Mobile, Ala. LSU
Laurin Mincy 2010 G 6-0 Newark, N.J. Maryland
Chiney Ogwumike 2010 F 6-3 Cypress, Texas Stanford
Amber Orrange 2011 PG 5-7 Houston, Texas Undecided
Erica Payne 2011 F 6-2 Danville, Calif. Undecided
Cassie Peoples 2011 PG 5-6 Houston, Texas Texas
Haley Peters 2010 F 6-3 Red Bank, N.J. Duke
Theresa Plaisance 2010 P 6-5 Marrero, La. LSU
Lindsay Sherbert 2010 W 6-1 Temecula, Calif. California
Meighan Simmons 2010 G 5-9 Cibolo, Texas Tennessee
Alyssa Thomas 2010 G 6-1 Harrisburg, Pa. Maryland
Samarie Walker 2010 F 6-1 West Carrollton, Ohio Connecticut

But there are still more invitees to come. Stay tuned.

Thirty-six will vie for the U17 spots:

Name - Class - Pos - Height - Hometown - U16 Status

Jordan Adams 2012 PG 6-0 Irvine, Calif. Selected
Ameryst Alston 2012 G 5-9 Canton, Ohio New
Danielle Ballard 2012 G 5-9 Memphis, Tenn. New
Alyson Beebe 2012 F 6-3 Santa Maria Calif. New
Kayla Brewer 2011 F 6-2 Jacksonville, Fla. Invited
Kayla Brewer 2011 F 6-2 Jacksonville, Fla. Invited
Cierra Burdick 2011 F 6-2 Matthews, N.C. Selected
Briyona Canty 2011 G 5-9 Willingboro, N.C. Invited
Andraya Carter 2012 PG 5-8 Flowery Branch, Ga. Invited
Sidney Cook 2012 F 6-2 Moore, Okla. New
Kaela Davis 2013 G 6-2 Norcross, Ga. New
Diamond DeShields 2013 W 6-2 Norcross, Ga. New
Alexa Gallagher 2011 W 5-11 Fort Washington, Pa. New
Bashaara Graves 2012 F 6-2 Clarksville, Tenn. Selected
Taylor Greenfield 2011 W 6-3 Huxley, Iowa Invited
Isabelle Harrison 2011 P 6-3 Nashville, Tenn. New
Amber Henson 2011 F 6-3 Tampa, Fla. New
Rachel Hollivay 2012 P 6-4 Columbus, Miss. Invited
Malina Howard 2012 P 6-3 Twinsburg, Ohio New
Moriah Jefferson 2012 PG 5-7 Glenn Heights, Texas Invited
Niya Johnson 2012 G 5-7 Gainsville, Fla. New
Alexis Jones 2012 PG 5-6 Irving, Texas New
Betnijah Laney 2011 W 6-0 Clayton, Del. Selected
Jewel Loyd 2012 G 5-9 Lincolnwood, Ill. Invited
Ariel Massengale 2011 PG 5-6 Bolingbrook, Ill. Selected
Xylina McDaniel 2012 F 6-2 Blythewood, S.C. New
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis 2011 W 6-0 Anaheim, Calif. Selected
Alexis Prince 2012 W 6-0 Maitland, Fla. Invited
Tiffany Rice-Mitchell 2012 G 5-10 Charlotte, N.C. New
Bonnie Samuelson 2011 W 6-2 Huntington Beach, Calif. Invited
Bria Smith 2011 G 5-8 Massapequa, N.Y. Invited
Imani Stafford 2012 P 6-5 Los Angeles, Calif. New
Breanna Stewart 2012 F 6-3 North Syracuse, N.Y. Selected
Kiah Stokes 2011 P 6-3 Marion, Iowa Selected
Morgan Tuck 2012 F 6-2 Bollingbrook, Ill. Selected*
Alexyz Vaioletama 2011 F 6-1 Fountain Valley, Calif. Selected
Elizabeth Williams 2011 P 6-3 Virginia Beach, Va. Selected

I've seen many of these girls - on both lists - play, and I'd hate to have to be the one who picks and chooses.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Catching up with Alyssia Brewer



Alyssia Brewer sat at the head of the Cal Storm Taurasi team's bench today during their championship game against Cal Sparks Gold, as part of the Cal Sparks Graduation Games 2010 Tournament.



The Tennessee forward was with her former club team for their games all weekend long.

_____________________________________________________

There was a familar face accompanying the Cal Storm club ball team at a tournament this weekend at the Hangar Athletic Exchange (HAX) in Hawthorne, CA. Familiar to the team because she used to play for them, but more easily recognizable to everyone else from television: Tennessee Lady Vol Alyssia Brewer.

The 6-foot-3 forward just finished her sophomore year, and is taking a break before starting summer school with the rest of her Tennessee teammates. She was one of seven freshmen in the vaunted 2008 class that was hyped as the "new" Volunteers after Candace Parker's graduation. But an unprecedented NCAA Tournament first-round exit last year, and a Sweet Sixteen loss this year has shown that rebuilding takes time.

Brewer took a few moments to talk with me today about Tennessee, her California visit, and more.

Hoopism: So you're out here visiting your former club ball team?

Brewer: Yes - LA's like a second home to me, and I have family out here too.

Hoopism: You played high school basketball in your home state of Oklahoma and played club ball in the summer here?

Brewer: Yeah.

Hoopism: Your California Storm teammates and coaches must mean a lot to you for you to come back to see them.

Brewer: They really do. I still have relationships with all of them.

Hoopism: So how are things going at Tennessee? What's next for you and your teammates?

Brewer: Classes and things in general are OK, but as far as basketball, the next two years are do or die for me.

Hoopism: You mean as far as getting a championship?

Brewer: Yes. It's halftime for me - it's like I've played two quarters, and now the last two quarters are coming up, so I've got to get ready so we can make it happen.

Hoopism: What parts of your game are you working on?

Brewer: I've been working on sharpening my skills, and getting back more to how I was playing before, in high school.

Hoopism: How so?

Brewer: I've been working on getting my jump shot back.

Hoopism: What's it like playing for Pat Summitt?

Brewer: Intense. (Smiles) Intense and demanding.

The Lady Vols return to Knoxville next month.

Sparks Fan Fest report

I wasn't there, but fellow season ticket holder MW was. She reports that the "meet the team" event was held outdoors at the Grove in Los Angeles. The team rotated between three areas: the autograph table, a basketball hoop where they shot baskets with fans, and a photograph area. Fans had a chance to mingle and talk with team members, and MW was particulary happy to get to speak with one of her favorites, Tina Thompson.

Candace Parker posted this picture of her at the autograph table, with a scowling Kristi Tolliver over her shoulder. She also posted a video of herself dancing with the Spark kids. Looks like a good time was had by all.

MW and I then talked about what's wrong with the Sparks right now that they'd start 0-3. Sparks fans we know, and that post on the Sparks board, range from those like us who are very concerned, to those who are practically hysterical and/or are calling for Coach Jennifer Gillom's head and/or their money back.

MW thinks Gillom does inspire players with her passion, but she needs more coaching skills to go with that passion. I said that General Manager Penny Toler has been trying so hard the last three years, especially, to assemble an amazing team. For whatever reason, it hasn't been working. Someone needs to figure out why.

All this and we have only seen the Sparks in person once, in a pre-season game May 8. Their home opener is this Friday, with another homer Sunday. They better win at least one of those.

More on trades and the Claw

WNBA players aren't afraid to ask for trades. And why should they be?

Great picture of Chamique Holdsclaw in this piece: “This is what I do,” she said. “It's just playing.”

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A lil shock, and I'm not talking about Tulsa

So Chamique Holdsclaw debuted for San Antonio tonight by lighting up the Sparks with 19 points, and keying their 88-81 win. I gotta give it up for the Claw. She shut the doubters up, at least for now.

Los Angeles is now 0-3. One fan on the Sparks message board has already posted that he wants his season ticket money back, six days before the home opener. I don't know if I'd go that far, but I'm surprised they're starting off this slowly. And I'm a bit worried.

I'm looking forward to being able to see what the problem is in person next Friday.

On the flip side of the coin, the 3-0 Seattle Storm beat the defending champions Phoenix Mercury in overtime, 95-89. The Fever also needed an overtime to beat the Sky, 92-86.

It's only week two of the season, I keep telling myself.

Coach Swoopes?

Has Sheryl Swoopes given up hope of having a pro career? Because she's applied for the vacant Colorado coaching job.

Some good video of last night's Dream win over Connecticut. Angel McCoughtry is one player whose game seems to work better at the pro level than for college. Interesting the way that goes for players.

ESPN's Mechelle Voepel says San Antonio has nothing to lose by signing Chamique Holdsclaw.

And here's a morning heart-warmer: Drake University Coach Amy Stephens went to Haiti to teach a group of young girls some basketball skills. They didn't need to speak the same language to pick it up and have fun with it.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Alexyz Vaioletama lost her junior year for her choice to play USA Basketball

Interesting ESPN piece done at last week's West Coast Premier tournament. Mater Dei forward Alexyz Vaioletama explains that her choice to play for the winning U16 team last year caused her to have to sit out this year with stress fractures in her legs. I don't know if anyone knew that was the reason until now:

None of this compares to the largest struggle of her post-USA experience. Once home, Vaioletama had to tell Mater Dei coach Kevin Kiernan and her Monarch teammates that she was going to miss the 2009-10 season with them. With her, Adams and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis having played for USA Basketball, Mater Dei was a consensus preseason No. 1 pick in national high-school rankings.

The first Monarch whom Vaioletama encountered was Christine Collins Kiernan, the team's top assistant. She took care of the notification Vaioletama dreaded most -- informing her husband, Kevin, the head coach. Still, telling her teammates was very hard.

"Tears hard," Vaioletama said.


It'll be nice to see her back. I'm not a Mater Dei fan, but I'm definitely a Vaioletama fan.

Some WNBA surprises

The big news of the day is that San Antonio signed Chamique Holdsclaw and waived Belinda Snell. Interesting. But will Holdsclaw really make an impact there?

Holdsclaw told pet that it "was a personal thing."

Loree Moore is rehabbing her knee in Seattle, and is hanging around the Storm. Coach Brian Agler said he's "open" to giving her another look when she's healed.

Marion Jones is actually infusing energy into the flagging Shock team.

Week one power rankings look like this:

1. Mystics
2. Storm
3. Dream
4. Mercury
5. Sun
6. Liberty
7. Stars
8. Lynx
9. Sparks
10. Fever
11. Sky
12. Shock

What happened to Indiana?

Angel McCoughtry poured in 32 points to lead the Dream past Connecticut tonight, 97-82.

The Mystics beat the Liberty 77-61, behind Lindsey Harding's 21 points.

That means both Atlanta and Washington are undefeated right now. I love it, and hope that lasts.

As for the non-surprises......

Tina Thompson is the lone player left from the WNBA's first season. What an achievement.

A nice feature on the Dream's Miller twins.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

What defines a good coach?

On Monday I got my monthly e-newsletter from the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF). It contained this piece on high school coaches, which surveyed coaches and athletes about coach performance. Here are the findings:

____________________

Most Coaches Do It Right
Commentary by
Michael Josephson


Like 'em or hate 'em, sports are a major cultural phenomenon that reflect and shape our national values. The way sports are played and the way participants and spectators react reveals the best and worst of human nature.

At their best, sports provide an ennobling metaphor for life, teaching us to strive and struggle with passion and integrity, to pursue victory with honor. We're constantly exposed to instances where an intense win-at-any-cost mentality has resulted in awful behavior and plentiful examples of premier athletes with shabby characters.

The fact is, however, misconduct by coaches, parents, and players - while far too common - is still the exception, not the norm. Involvement in sports is overall an overwhelmingly positive character-building experience for most participants.

SURVEY RESULTS

A recent survey of 3,700 coaches and 1,400 athletes by the Josephson Institute of Ethics demonstrates the vast majority of coaches and athletes have healthy and ethical attitudes about sports. Good coaches are, first and foremost, teachers concerned with much more than athletic prowess. They seek to enhance the mental, social, and moral development of athletes and instill positive life skills to help them become personally successful and socially responsible.

The good news is most coaches are good coaches. A total of 83 percent of athletes said their coach sets a good example for ethics and character, 73 percent said their coach is more concerned with building character than winning, and 98 percent of coaches said they would rather be remembered for helping their athletes become better people than for winning games or championships.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

____________________

I wonder about the logistics of surveying 2,300 more coaches than athletes to decide if coaches are allright. How about parental opinions, too?

I do, however, agree with the philosophy that good coaches not only should develop players athletically, but they should "seek to enhance the mental, social, and moral development of athletes and instill positive life skills to help them become personally successful and socially responsible." Good coaches ARE teachers. And though I'm not a big fan of tests and regulations, I think there should be some sort of certification required to coach high school sports, because it's one of the most important jobs in the world.

I've touched on the subject of what defines a good coach before, but I'd like to throw it open to readers.

What defines a good coach to you? What traits and characteristics? What is a "must" for any coach who is considered good? What philosophies do good coaches share? What do good coaches do?

I'll put all responses in bright lights.

Don't give up

If you've ever been tempted to give up, these two are for you:

The Storm's Le'coe Willingham has overcome doubters all her life.

Alison Bales, now playing for the Dream, finds her career on the up again.

The story on last night's Storm-Lynx game. Here's job security for Q.

Tamika Catchings has been named an Ambassador to Beyond Sport.

Finally, after seeing a girl from the GBL team get a concussion during a game Sunday, this piece is particulary relevant: too many high school players get concussions.

Shoni Schimmel didn't choose a school during the spring signing period

Nope, the Portland, Oregon star didn't sign by yesterday's signing period deadline. Once again, the Franklin High School athletic director declined to return my call for comment today. But an NCAA spokesman confirmed that Schimmel will have to wait for the next signing period, this November, to sign a national letter of intent.

ESPN has something on Schimmel's situation and story:

A major prospect ignoring the signing deadline is not without precedent. It happens with some regularity among men's basketball recruits, but is extremely rare among women's basketball prospects. In recent years, players like Ta'Shia Philllips, who committed to Xavier in 2007, have discussed the possibility of extending their recruitment past the signing deadline, but did not follow through.

If grades aren't the hold up, what is?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Storm rally to beat Lynx, 79-76

Live Access was out again, so this is all we know for now: Swin Cash had 24 for the Storm, Lauren Jackson and Camille Little each added 18, and the Lynx had five players in double figures. Rookie Monica Wright lead them with 19.

Wow! Can't wait to read the game reports.

In other WNBA news today.......

The Dream finally waived Chamique Holdsclaw.

Slamonline talked with Briann January.

Sandora Irvin is leaving her job at TCU to play for the Chicago Sky.

The LA Times ran another story today by the young woman who said she hated the WNBA in a 2008 column. Though it's nice to see the Times doing something on the Sparks, the story doesn't tell us much we don't already know.

Sparks fan fest this Sunday

Meet the players at the Grove.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Just a lil bit of news

Candace Parker and Tamika Catchings are among the nominees for the BET Sportswoman of the Year Award.

Parker talks about playing pickup basketball with dudes.

And this piece makes it seem like the WNBA is only popular in Seattle because there's no NBA team there anymore. Storm fans have long topped those of any other pro team in town with regards to rabidness and packing the house. No news there, but nice write-up.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Some college news

Dawn Staley speaks, and she says there's work to be done. She also addresses the Kelsey Bone situation:

"You live and you learn," Staley said. "I am not going to hide behind anything, because I think we went beyond the call of duty to make sure she was happy as well as any other player who comes through our program."

It's a knee-jerk reaction when a player leaves a program to blame the coach. But this fits with what I've heard, that this one wasn't on Staley.

Epiphany Prince isn't sorry she left Rutgers.

The UConn team went to the White House today and chilled with Obama.

A tiny bit of WNBA news:

Jayda Evans ranks the teams so far:

Team (Record/Last week's ranking) Comment
1. Phoenix (1-0/1): Blondes may win championships, but brunettes can make their free throws despite just arriving from Turkey.
2. New York (1-0/4): The new-look Liberty didn't disappoint; especially 39-year-old Taj McWilliams-Franklin beating youngsters down court and sinking FTs.
3. Seattle (1-0/3): The only thing Seattle really didn't bring in their debut was a fluid offense, there's an app for that -- practice time together.
4. Washington (2-0/10): Monique Currie is rising to the occasion in the absence of Alana Beard to help get Mystics off to surprising start.
5. Los Angeles (0-2/2): Sputtering out of the block, but don't play again until Saturday -- yikes.
6. Atlanta (2-0/7): O-le. Ole, ole, ole! O-le! O-le!
7. Connecticut (1-0/6): Charles was electric in pro debut and pumped after second trip to White House for NCAA honors, only it was just one game.
8. Minnesota (1-1/9): Concerning that home opener couldn't spark offensive boost late, Lynx will really be exposed Wednesday in Seattle.
9. Indiana (0-2/7): Remember, it's not how you start the season, it's how you finish.
10. San Antonio (0-1/9): All things are big in Texas -- except for the play of the Silver Stars' centers.
11. Tulsa (0-1/11): Signed, sealed, delivered. She's yours! Transplanted Shock F Plenette Pierson appropriately makes new franchise's first bucket.
12. Chicago (0-2/12): As expected, Chicago played some close games and decision-making remains questionable.

Not bad at all.

Q says last night's Storm-Sparks game personifies what he loves about the pro game.

West Coast Spring Invitational Exhibition, Day 2: Boo Williams 52, Cal Sparks Gold 37

Boo kept a small lead throughout most of the game. Then with six minutes left to go, the Cal Sparks surged and tied it up at 35. Boo responded with a 13-0 run and kept the pressure on to close out the win. No diss on anyone, but no one from either team stood out particularly except Ariya Crook-Williams, the Sparks' point guard. She was hustling and made a bunch of amazing passes. Most of her teammates couldn't finish for her, though.

Boo had barely beat EBX Black, 43-36 Saturday afternoon, and they did lose to DFW Saturday night. So I wasn't that impressed, to be honest. But maybe they just didn't have their best tournament. You wonder what would have happened if they hadn't forfeited their semifinal rematch with DFW yesterday.



Cal Sparks Gold's DeAjanae Scurry (light uniform #4) drives to the basket in the first half.



Reshanda "Too Tall" Gray and Scurry hold the defensive line.



Boo drives to the hoop in the second half.



Hoopgurlz' Glenn Nelson, in background with camera, seems to like Too Tall, as he was taking pictures of her at two games this weekend.



Boo came on strong in the second half to close out the win.



Those 8 a.m. games are tiring.....as the last minute winds down, Sparks point guard Ariya Crook-Williams talks with assistant coach Matt Thaley (seated).

ESPN's Chris Hansen is as impressed with Moriah Jefferson of DFW as IM in OC and I were.



While Boo and the Sparks were finishing up, West Coast Premier came in because they were playing the next game. Alexyz Vaioletama was wearing a Stanford sweatshirt. I wonder if that means anything.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

WNBA opening weekend

Catching up, as I've been in the Inland Empire this weekend......

Hoopfeed has the opening day recap.

Phoenix beat LA by one point yesterday. Then the Sparks lost to the Storm tonight. I'm really pleased Candace Parker is looking like her old beastly self and is back to double-doubles, but I told you so. Don't talk about championships before you've actually played a game.

Here are today's scores. Looks like so far the Mystics and New York have got it together, Indiana and LA suck, and everyone else is still iffy.

Yet another piece on Marion Jones, who apparently didn't do much in Tulsa's game yesterday.

I think Anne Donovan is crazy for doing the Liberty and Seton Hall at the same time, but she gets an A for effort.

And on an up note, Nikki Caldwell and Holly Warlick finished their breast cancer awareness motorcycle ride this weekend. Good for them.

West Coast Spring Invitational Championship: DFW 42, West Coast Premier 38

DFW beat West Coast Premier 42-38 in the Championship game of the Spring Invitaional at Mount San Antionio College in Pomona today.

The game was close throughout, with neither team ever getting a lead bigger than five points. WCP had the size, with six girls in the lineup listed 6 feet or taller. DFW relied on skilled guard play and had only one girl that was over 6 feet tall. Scoring leaders for DFW were Moriah Jefferson with nine points, Empress Davenport, also with nine, and Chelsea Jennings with eight.

(Note: the names of the DFW players are what was on a team roster I was able to view while at the tournament, I hope it was correct and up to date).

Leading the way for WCP was Jordan Adams of Mater Dei, with seven points, and Devin Hudson of Colony, also with seven. Sheila Boykin of Long Beach Poly added six points.

It was nice to see Alexyz Vaioletama in the lineup for WCP. She had been out for about 10 months with stress fractures in both shins, and today she looked fine.

Having watched several games over Saturday and Sunday, I would have to see the tournament MVP was Moriah Jefferson of DFW. Still a sophomore, she played with poise and control of the game whenever she had the ball. In two tournament games that DFW won by close scores, she was able to control the ball and keep it away from opponents in the final two minutes of the game both times. She also sank some clutch free throws in those wins.

The semi-finals were won by WCP over Essence, from Florida, 52-48. DFW advanced to the final game because Boo Williams forfeited the game as they had to catch their plane back to the East coast.

DFW beat Boo on Saturday night in an exhibition game (no affect on the pool play) 50-47. The Boo-DFW game showed some elite talent for both teams including Elizabeth Williams and Cierra Burdick of Boo and the three girls I mentioned from DFW earlier.

- IM in OC

Here's the complete bracket. I'll have more pictures tomorrow.

West Coast Spring Invitational, Day 1

The tournament was played at Mt. Sac, in Walnut, and Cal Poly Pomona, just down the street in Pomona. First-round and exhibition action was Saturday.

Essence Purple 49, FBC Blue 47

Perhaps the best game Saturday afternoon pitted Essence against FBC. Nationally-ranked Essence began strong, and looked like they were going to wipe the floor with FBC. Midway through the game, they lead 24-11. Then FBC woke up and went on a run, catching up to their rivals in the second half. The last few minutes were a dog fight.

FBC's Jeanier Olukemi (Brea Olinda) unleashed back-to-back threes to tie the score up. But Essence's Myeisha Hall stole the ball and dished it to Niya Johnson for the bucket for the breahtaking finish.

FBC's other strong player is Tear'a Laudermill (Canyon), who I saw play last year. I was equally impressed by her last night, and I wonder why she's not ranked. She's incredibly fast, has a sweet shot, and isn't afraid of anything.

Essence is a great team. They're ridiculously quick, and they all seem to have bionic court vision. They anticipated FBC's moves most times before FBC even knew what they were. I can see why they're such a power.



Top-ranked Essence, of Florida (purple uniforms), survived a scare from Southern California locals FBC yesterday, on day one of the West Coast Spring Invitational in Pomona, CA.



FBC came back from behind and almost pulled off the upset.

Cal Sparks Gold

One of the teams at this tournament with a lot of ranked players, the Sparks did allright this tournament, but it wasn't their best showing. If their two (ranked) bigs, Reshanda Gray and DeAjanae Scurry, can completely gel with their (ranked) point guard Ariya Crook-Williams, they'll be deadly.



DeAjanae Scurry (left) and Reshanda Gray at a pause in the action against OC Elite Saturday afternoon.....



...and during play against EBX Black Saturday evening.

Exhibition game: DFW 50, Boo Williams 47

Boo was ahead 25-24 at the half, but DFW went on a 10-2 run to begin the second. Then Boo caught up; DFW was only up 39-38 at the 5:12 mark, and they maintained a one-point lead. There was a quick foul fest with less than two to go, and the teams traded free throws. Boo made a three with 20 seconds to go, but then DFW point guard Moriah Jefferson was fouled on the next possession, and made both free throws to put them up 50-47. A last-second Boo attempt at the buzzer failed, and the score remained the same.

Boo players are very passionate; they beat the walls and scream when they miss shots, and slap each other's hands off when they do well.

DFW players are small, but fast. Point guard Moriah Jefferson is pretty excitable and passionate herself. When Empress Davenport fouled out, she went and shook hands with all the Boo bench players. I'd not seen that before.

All in all, an impressive win by DFW. I saw Boo play three times this weekend, and they honestly didn't look like all that, as I'd been told.



DFW Elite point guard Moriah Jefferson (35) is quite a player, and quite a character. She drove up the court, to the hoop, and put up the points. She also jumped around between free throws, at the free throw line, late in the game to stave off cramps.



Boo Williams star forward Elizabeth Williams put on a good performance, but she could have been even better.



Action in the first half was physical.



This is Boo.



This is Boo's really loooooong bench.



This is DFW's really short bench, which made their win over the top team even more impressive.



Mad scramble at the end of the game when things got hot.



DFW huddled up after their victory.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

More on the Sparks

Coach Jennnifer Gillom made her cut decisions based on how well players performed under pressure. Not surprising in the least. I had some guesses as to who she'd be cutting based on her reactions during last Saturday's pre-season game against San Antonio.

Here's a good piece that coaches of all levels should read. The bold type is mine:

“The atmosphere is a lot easier,” Thompson said. “There’s a lot less tension.” Thompson stipulated that she wasn’t saying there was negative tension last season under Cooper, but only that there was a pressure to perform and a general tone of seriousness that might not have been as conducive to bringing out the best in her teammates, especially the younger players.

The former Houston Comet contrasted last year’s vibe with Gillom’s effect on the current atmosphere on the Sparks. “There’s an easiness, [Coach Gillom] makes people comfortable. She’s always talking and overflowing with positives to make people more confident and comfortable with themselves.”


With that kind of team mentality, maybe they will be cutting down nets sometime the next few years. Today's game will definitely set the tone.

Friday, May 14, 2010

T'was the night before the West Coast Spring Invitational......

Just to prove the point that California is absolutely loaded with high school basketball talent, ESPN Rise has named their top players:

First Team Juniors (15 players)

Brittany Boyd (Berkeley) 5-9 G
Sheila Boykin (Poly, Long Beach) 6-2 C
Ariya Crook-Williams (Poly, Long Beach) 5-9 G
Jessica Duarte (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) 5-10 F
Sydnee Fripps (Yosemite, Oakhurst) 5-10 F
Rashandra Gray (Washington Prep, Los Angeles) 6-3 C
Katie Kuklok (Poway) 5-10 F
Tear’a Laudermill (Canyon Springs, Moreno Valley) 5-10 G
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) 6-1 F
Madison Parrish (Hanford) 5-9 G
Erica Payne (Carondelet, Concord) 6-2 F
Alexis Perry (Brea Olinda, Brea) 5-6 G
Bonnie Samuelson (Edison, Huntington Beach) 6-2 F
Janae Sharpe (Rialto) 5-11 F
Ashley Watson (Archbishop Mitty, San Jose) 5-7 G

Second Team Juniors (15 players)

Keani Albanez (Buena, Ventura) 5-11 F
Erimma Arakiwa (Vanden, Travis AFB) 6-1 F
Erikka Banks (Clovis East, Clovis) 6-0 F
Rayven Brooks (Dougherty Valley, San Ramon) 5-8 G
Chairese Culberson (Berkeley) 6-0 C
Jen Dumiak (La Costa Canyon, Carlsbad) 5-8 G
Hailie Eackles (Pinewood, Los Altos Hills) 5-8 F
Moriah Faulk (Santa Monica) 5-11 G
Raven Fox (Deer Valley, Antioch) 5-9 G
Ashley Guay (Our Lady of Peace, San Diego) 5-8 G
Bria Richardson (Serra, Gardena) 5-9 G
Deajanae Scurry (Inglewood) 6-0 F
Kacy Swain (Chaparral, Temecula) 6-3 F
Cori Walker (Cajon, San Bernardino) 5-8 G
Devyn Weymouth (Lincoln, Stockton) 5-7 G

JUNIOR PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis

Sophomores (20 players)

Jordan Adams (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) 6-1 G
Jillian Alleyne (Ayala, Chino Hills) 6-2 C
Aly Beebe (St. Joseph, Santa Maria) 6-5 C
Sophia Bhasin (Cajon, San Bernardino) 5-7 G
Kelsey Brockway (Palos Verdes, PV Estates) 6-1 F
Devon Brookshire (Bishop Montgomery, Torrance) 5-10 F
Amie Callaway (San Diego) 6-1 C
Kylie Cunningham (Agoura, Agoura Hills) 5-10 F
Elisha Davis (Berkeley) 5-6 G
Tia Dixon (San Diego) 5-7 G
Nyre’ Harris (Lincoln, Stockton) 5-7 G
Maya Hood (La Jolla Country Day) 5-10 F
Hannah Huffman (Carondelet, Concord) 5-10 G
Keiona Mathews (Antelope Valley, Lancaster) 5-7 G
Michelle Miller (Poly, Pasadena) 5-9 G
Terilyn Moe (Terra Nova, Pacifica) 5-8 G
VeAnne Navarro (Johansen, Modesto) 5-6 G
Jeanier Olukemi (Brea Olinda, Brea) 5-11 C
Imani Stafford (Windward, Los Angeles) 6-6 C
Keitra Wallace (Brea Olinda, Brea) 5-11 F

SOPHOMORE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Aly Beebe

Freshmen (10 players)

Kendall Cooper (St. Anthony, Long Beach) 6-3 C
Geena Gomez (Poly, Riverside) 5-7 G
Gabriela Hanson (Troy, Fullerton) 5-11 G
Rachael Howard (Berkeley) 5-9 F
Brittany Lusain (Mater Dei, Chula Vista) 5-8 G
Erica McCall (Ridgeview, Bakersfield) 6-2 C
Chrishae Rowe (Santiago, Corona) 5-9 F
Karli Samuelson (Edison, Huntington Beach) 5-11 G
Briteesha Solomon (La Jolla Country Day) 5-8 G
Kendall “KC” Waters (Bishop O’Dowd, Oakland) 6-2 C

FRESHMAN PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Kendall “KC” Waters

Several of these athletes will be playing this weekend at the West Coast Spring Invitational. (MMM!)

Out of the carnage rises....the WNBA season

The final transactions page on the night before the regular season begins. All the talented players on that list - it kills me.

The WNBA is a Leaner, Meaner Place this year, and that's not a good thing. Many of the players on the cut list were employed a few years ago when the roster cap was 13. Meanwhile, a bunch of lazy NBA players are pulling down thousands sitting on a bench all season long.

Sports Illustrated jumps in to comment on the musical chairs that has gone on this year.

Los Angeles is at Phoenix for the league's first game tomorrow, followed by four others. Sparks fans are boycotting Arizona because of the new immigrant law, however.

In the meantime, the Atlanta Dream has decided not to suspend Chamique Holdsclaw for failing to report to training camp this week, after asking to be traded. That's pretty nice of them. Personally, I've run out of patience with her, and I'm a Lady Vol fan.

On the positive tip, how often does an undrafted player make a WNBA roster? Not often. And she's an Oregon Duck, too! Congratulations to Taylor Lilley.

Awesome piece on Sparks rookie Andrea Riley. Who knew her father was a Harlem Globetrotter? And I like the story author.....he was covering the Pac-10 Tournament in March, and I was hoping at the time that he'd do the Sparks, since Mark Medina wasn't going to this year.

And former Attorney General Condoleezza Rice pens a warm fuzzy, "Why I Love the WNBA."

Allright. Even though I'm still bothered by all the good players who won't be there this year, let the season begin.

All final rosters

Hoopfeed's got it.

Congrats to those who made it. But I always am a little sad on this day, too, that the 11-player limit leaves so little room for some great players.

Sparks roster is final

That last cut? Shannon Bobbitt.

Sparks 2010 Roster


3
Candace Parker
F
6-4
175
4/19/1986
Tennessee
2

8
DeLisha Milton-Jones
F
6-1
185
9/11/1974
Florida
11

10
Andrea Riley
G
5-5
7/22/1988
Oklahoma State
R

14
Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton
F
6-2
186
5/26/1986
Purdue
1

20
Kristi Toliver
G
5-7
130
1/27/1987
Maryland
1

21
Ticha Penicheiro
G
5-11
146
9/18/1974
ODU
12

22
Betty Lennox
G
5-8
143
12/4/1976
Louisiana Tech
10

24
Marie Ferdinand-Harris
G
5-9
153
10/13/1978
LSU
8

32
Tina Thompson
F
6-2
178
2/10/1975
USC
13

44
Tiffany Stansbury
F-C
6-3
183
1/16/1983
NC State
2

45
Noelle Quinn
G
6-0
175
1/3/1985
UCLA
3

WNBA rosters being finalized

The Phoenix Mercury have finalized their roster.

The San Antonio Silver Stars have finalized their roster.

The other teams need to hurry up.

WNBA season previews.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sparks acquire Kristi Tolliver in trade

Here's the official release from Sparks HQ:

LOS ANGELES SPARKS ACQUIRE THE RIGHTS TO GUARD KRISTI TOLIVER
Sparks Trade 2011 Second Round Draft Pick

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Sparks have acquired the rights to guard Kristi Toliver, it was announced today by Sparks Vice President/General Manager Penny Toler. In a deal with the Chicago Sky, the Sparks traded their 2011 second round draft pick for the rights to Toliver.

Toliver was selected in the first round and third overall, by the Chicago Sky in the 2009 WNBA Draft. In her rookie season she played in 27 games off the bench and averaged 7.6 points, 1.9 assists and 1.4 rebounds in 14.3 minutes per game.

"We are thrilled because yet another exciting and talented player is joining our team" said Sparks Vice President and General Manager Penny Toler. "Kristi is a dynamic player and we're happy she is joining the Sparks family."

In 2009, Toliver led all rookies and was second overall in the WNBA in three-point shooting at 44.4 percent. She also ranked 8th among all rookies in assists and had a breakout game on August 28th when she scored a career-best 25 points in a win against the New York Liberty.

"I am very happy about having Kristi join our the team," said Sparks Head Coach Jennifer Gillom. "We are adding a remarkable guard with a lot of versatility to an already great roster. It's a blessing to be able to add this caliber of guard to your team; she is a combo guard who will be able to complement our existing squad."

During her stand-out career at Maryland, Toliver was honored as a Preseason Wade Trophy Candidate and a Midseason Naismith Award Candidate. She was also named to the AP All-American 2nd Team, the Sports Illustrated All-American 2nd Team, and First Team All-ACC.She was awarded the Nancy Lieberman Award twice being the first 'Terp to do so, and was named the WNIT Most Valuable Player. She finished her collegiate career as the 25th player in school history to score 1,000 points, ranking 11th with 1,433 points, and holds the school's record for career free throw percentage with .870 and three point field goals made with 209.

The Los Angeles Sparks tip-off the 2010 WNBA season on Saturday, May 15th against the Defending Champion Phoenix Mercury at 11:00 am on ESPN2 and then open at home at STAPLES Center on May 28 at 7:30pm versus the Washington Mystics. To purchase tickets for Opening Night, visit www.LASparks.com or call 877-44-SPARKS.

General Manager Penny Toler is amazing with trades.

This also went down today for the Sparks:

The Los Angeles Sparks waived LaToya Pringle, Lisa Willis and Rashidat Junaid

So the only bigs left now besides Candace Parker and Tina Thompson are Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton, who didn't seem like much last week, and Tiffany Stansbury, who we haven't even seen play yet.

I guess I'm wondering why the Sparks went for yet another guard when they could use a true center, because neither Parker nor Thompson are that.

This is the Sparks roster, with today's cut players still on it:

2010 Roster
NUM PLAYER POS HT WT DOB FROM YRS
6 Shannon Bobbitt G 5-2 130 12/06/1985 Tennessee 2
24 Marie Ferdinand-Harris G 5-9 153 10/13/1978 LSU 8
43 Rashidat Junaid C 6-4 11/29/1987 Rutgers R
22 Betty Lennox G 5-8 143 12/04/1976 Louisiana Tech 10
8 DeLisha Milton-Jones F 6-1 185 09/11/1974 Florida 11
3 Candace Parker F 6-4 175 04/19/1986 Tennessee 2
21 Ticha Penicheiro G 5-11 146 09/18/1974 Old Dominion '98/Portugal 12
30 LaToya Pringle F-C 6-3 162 09/11/1986 North Carolina 2
45 Noelle Quinn G 6-0 175 01/03/1985 UCLA 3
10 Andrea Riley G 5-5 07/22/1988 Oklahoma State R
44 Tiffany Stansbury F-C 6-3 183 01/16/1983 North Carolina State 2
20 Bianca Thomas G 5-10 08/20/1988 Mississippi R
32 Tina Thompson F 6-2 178 02/10/1975 USC 13
Lisa Willis G 6-1 170 06/13/1984 UCLA 4
14 Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton F 6-2 186 05/26/1986 Purdue 1

Take out those three players, and there is still one more cut to make to get the roster to 11 by tomorrow.

WHO WILL IT BE????????????????????

Chicago Sky keeps Abi Olajuwon, cuts Courtney Paris

What?

WNBA rosters must be final by tomorrow, so hold on for more cuts.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Some more downer news

On the heels of the Hones dismissal, Chamique Holdsclaw has requested to be traded from the Atlanta Dream. They don't know if they can get anything for her, though.

Could anything else happen at Oregon State? I shouldn't ask: assistant coach Krista Reinking has been arrested for DUI.

Texas freshman guard Lauren Flores has been dismissed from the team.

The Sparks waived Aisha Mohammed. I liked her.

But thankfully, there is some positive news today:

The Tulsa Shock have sold out their season opener.

Dawn Staley touched the audience last night when she spoke at "Young Ladies Night."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Big WNBA day

The Liberty and the Sun played a triple overtime pre-season game today. Triple OT in pre-season? Maybe there really was something to this piece about New York, posted earlier today.

Slamonline has previews of five of the WNBA's teams. ESPN's Mechelle Voepel picks Phoenix for the West and Connecticut for the East this year. I hope she's dead dog wrong.

I would enjoy this lovely LA Sparks piece about how they're still going to do fine without Lisa Leslie. But the caption under the top picture says "Candace Parker is tasked to carry on that role after the icon's retirement."

"Tasked"?

No.

A more bland, but grammatically correct, Sparks preview is done by the league. Key paragraph for me:

For two straight seasons the Sparks were the preseason favorites to win it all. And, in two straight seasons, the Sparks have, well, not. During Parker’s rookie year in 2008, L.A. was favored to win but couldn’t pass San Antonio thanks in large part to Sophia Young’s buzzer beater in Game 2 of the Conference Finals. In 2009, Leslie’s final season, the Sparks once again fell in the Conference Finals, this time to the eventual champion Phoenix Mercury.

Answer? Have no expectations. Not only is that the secret to getting older and wiser, but it takes some pressure away. Superstitious people, which so many athletes are, can get behind that philosophy too.

The only official transactions today are that Tulsa released the injured Cheryl Ford, and the Sparks signed LA native Lisa Willis. Looks like they really are trying to get some home cooking here.

Hoopfeed, of course, has the rest of today's transactions, which haven't yet made it to wnba.com:

The Atlanta Dream waived Brigitte Ardossi and Erica White

The Seattle Storm waived Laura Kurz. Roster now stands at 14 players

Phoenix Mercury cut Nyeshia Stevenson and Ashley Paris. Roster at 13