Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ariya Crook-Williams verbals to USC

WHOA.

Ariya Crook-Williams, the No. 15 prospect in the ESPN HoopGurlz Hot 100, has given a verbal commitment to play for the University of Southern California.

The 5-foot-7 guard, who has a knack for hitting big shots and plays what her Cal Sparks club coach Elbert Kinnebrew describes as a "power" game from the perimeter, announced her decision to USC coach Michael Cooper on Wednesday afternoon
.

I was just talking to someone last night about UCLA's seeming lack of recruiting knack, and this underscores the point.

Crook-Williams was at every Bruin home game this year, and it was rumored that she was at the top of their list. What happened?? (I knew there was a USC Elite camp this week, but was it really all that? I guess so...)

Shannon Bobbitt to host basketball clinic

For those of you who miss Lil' Bit (and believe me, there are many in LA, including myself), she will host a basketball clinic later this summer in New York City. Registration for her clinic will be 9-11 a.m. Sunday, July 18 at 20 W. 115th St., New York, 10026. Now I have no idea what this building is, though it looks on mapquest to be some kind of park area. But you can email Bobbitt for more details at: oo_shannon@yahoo.com.

I hope one of the New York hoopheads will go cover this thing and take pictures.

Club basketball: it's changed the game

This story outlines the rise of high school club basketball, how it's completely changed the recruiting game, pros and cons regarding this fact, and how club and high school ball differ.

I felt this story really needed to be told because there are still numerous athletes and parents who don't know how the recruiting game works. Take, for instance, a local LA player I've known since she was a freshman. The about-to-be-senior is talented, and was getting letters from sub-par schools, and/or schools where her older teammates had been recruited. I thought she could do better. So I spent some time last winter convincing her mother and voila, she found the kid a team. She's played in tournaments since April, and now has a chance to play in a high-caliber program.

It's not that I think club ball is necessarily better than high school ball; both are necessary. But the fact is that it seems that to be seen by the highest volume of coaches, an athlete is best to be on a club team and play in tournaments. It's like stepping onto the Staples Center court versus a high school gym.

The only aspect of this story that I couldn't develop to my satisfaction was Nike's involvement with club ball teams. They absolutely refused to comment on their role; wouldn't respond to numerous phone calls and emails. It was from the coaches that I understood when they began sponsoring teams and what they expect in return for their sponsorship. I was quite surprised at this non-response from one of the world's largest shoe companies. Is there a secret around their sponsorship of teams?

Finally, I worry about ball players today. About two months ago I heard several athletes - who had gone straight from their high school season into club season - complain that they were tired of basketball. Yikes. I thought of Ella Delle Donne.

Scott Rueck named Oregon State University coach

I was just thinking last night that Oregon State should hasten their hiring of a new coach, because the July viewing period is here and the Beavers REALLY need some recruits. I guess OSU was thinking that too, because today they've named Scott Rueck their new head coach.

Rueck comes to Oregon State after spending the past 14 seasons serving as the head women's basketball coach at George Fox, compiling a career 288-88 (.766) record. Under his watch, the Bruins recorded winning seasons each year, winning the Division III National Championship in 2009. Rueck has led his squads to five "Sweet 16" appearances, three "Elite 8" contests, six NCAA Division III Tournament appearances and seven Northwest Conference Championships......

George Fox finished last season with a 28-3 overall record and a perfect 16-0 Northwest Conference mark. The Bruins advanced to the NCAA Division III Sectional Final but came up short against Washington-St. Louis to end their tournament run. The undefeated conference performance is only the third time in league history that a team had accomplished that feat, the second being during George Fox's 2008-09 season.


Hope they're putting plane tickets in his hands as we speak; he's got a huge job cut out for him.

Last night's WNBA action

Now it's Diana Taurasi with the bad back: she missed the Mercury's game against the Dream last night after falling on her tail bone in Sunday's contest. Yikes. Atlanta took advantage of her absence and beat Phoenix.

Sue Bird - also out with a bad back - didn't play last night either, but teammate Lauren Jackson made up for her absence with 31 points.

Becky Hammon, Sophia Young, Jayne Appel and Michelle Snow lead the fan votes for all-star balloting. What? It seems to be a San Antonio conspiracy.

The Mystics held off the Fever.

The Sun beat the Shock, and Tina Charles continues to be a beast.

Summer women's leagues

Tara Polen has her usual great coverage of the West Fourth Street Women's Pro Classic League in New York City, including pictures.

I wish I could do the same for the Nike Just Say No Classic in Los Angeles, but the event organizers still haven't posted the schedule yet almost three weeks into the action. The only thing about the website that's been updated is that on the main page, it says it's the 20th year for the Classic. The schedule links all go to last year. When I go, I don't know what team is playing who, because the schedule that is posted on the wall doesn't have team names - just coach names: "Louie, Therese.." etc. So I have no idea who UCLA's Doreena Campbell and Mariah Williams play for, but they were fun to watch Sunday. Here are some photos:



UCLA's Doreena Campbell and Mariah Williams confer as their game is about to get underway.....



...and at a timeout.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Liberty 80, Sparks 68

Story.

Box score.

The defense doesn't seem to have improved one bit; Liberty had 35 rebounds to the Sparks' 22.

Fans are chanting "Maya Moore" at times, in reference to their hope that we'll get the first pick next year for finishing last this year.

Fans really tried to boost the team on tonight. They want something to cheer about so badly. It's sad.

People that sit in the rows behind the Sparks bench and watch what goes on there said there was tension tonight.

A lot of season ticket holders and long-timers left early.

I don't have anything else to day; I've already said it.



Only three on the bench tonight: Chanel Mokango, Andrea Riley and Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton.



Liberty PG Leilani Mitchell responds to Marie Ferdinand-Harris' pressure in the first quarter and gets the ball off to a teammate.



I guess this game was on TV, as Sparks Coach Jennifer Gillom was interviewed at the end of the first quarter while her assistant coach did huddle duties.



Kathy and Carla play with Carla's son Jackson during the timeout.



Essence Carson (far right) knocks one down for the Liberty in the second quarter.



Michael Lockwood (long legs crossed) took in the game with his mother-in-law Christine Leslie, while his wife presumably did TV duties. Candace Parker's mother Sara also brought granddaughter Lailaa (purple shirt).



Delisha Milton-Jones (far right) tries but misses in the third quarter.

Sparks co-owner Kathy Goodman is trying to stay optimistic.

Don't know how I missed this great peace about Ace and Ice being out for the season. But it's sad indeed.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sue Bird still suffering from back spasms

WNBA news:

Sue Bird is continuing to suffer from back spasms and is day to day. What's up with that????

In happier Storm news, Lauren Jackson recently conducted a basketball camp.

College news:

I'm a little confused about how Cait McMahan retired from basketball because of her bad knee but is still able to play in the Rocky Top summer league. I mean, good for her, but I don't get it.

Debbie Yow is coming home, in search of peace.

High school news:

Kim Mulkey's daughter Makenzie Robertson has been names girls athlete of the year by the Waco Tribune.

Title IX:

Great quotes here on "what Title IX means to me," including something from the Indiana Fever's own Tamika Catchings.

Catching up with the WNBA

Injuries everywhere:

Diana Taurasi was injured yesterday as she is contemplating taking a year off from the WNBA next summer. I don't blame her at all:

"Physically, it's getting to be a problem," said Taurasi, who has won two Olympic gold medals. "You're seeing it around the league. You see it a lot where [players] are injured and getting hurt and making it difficult to play year-round. If you think about it, no other professional sport does it."

Seattle's Sue Bird played only two minutes of Sunday's game against Tulsa before leaving with a lower back injury. Will she return? Yikes.

Sparks co-owner Kathy Goodman blogs about yesterday's road loss to Atlanta.

Found an answer to my All-Star game question last night.

Last installment of U18s

ESPN's Lindsay Schnell has a final write up on the championship series, complete with cute photo at the bottom. There's also a great photo gallery with an action image of each of the players.

See ya next year........

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Candace Parker having shoulder surgery tomorrow

Thoughts are with Candace Parker tomorrow, as she finally has surgery to repair her often-dislocated shoulder.

WNBA vs. USA Basketball

Seattle Storm Coach Brian Agler has been named coach of the WNBA team that will face the USA Basketball team July 10. So why is this new format replacing East vs. West? I missed the announcement, apparently.

Gold is sweet for U18s

They did it, beating Brazil 81-38 today for the gold medal.

The victory over Brazil caps a tournament in which the USA flourished from the start. In winning five straight games, the USA outscored its opponents, 467-188, for an average margin of victory of 55.8 points – by far a tournament best.

In addition to that, the USA led the Championship in 11 different statistical categories, including scoring offense (93.4 ppg.), field goal percentage (.486), rebounding margin per game (plus-33.2) and assists per game (20.4). Further, seven of the tournament’s top 10 leaders in field goal percentage were U.S. players.


Coach and player quotes.

Photo gallery.

Congrats to the entire team - I'm really proud of you.

Good rehash, bad rehash

The good:

Oregonlive has sure done a thorough job of covering the Oregon State basketball fracas. Now they've done an extensive profile of the history of the program, including its glory days in the 90s. They even threw in a Sherri Coale/Oklahoma comparison.

It was about two weeks ago that the OSU search committee was boasting about the strength of their applicant pool. So who's the new coach going to be? Time is ticking.

The bad:

I'd like to ask two questions: what is the fascination with Tulsa Coach Nolan Richardson? And why has every journalist on the planet felt compelled to write a story about him? Now it's the Seattle Times reporter.

You used to coach men: so what. I'm sure there's one more reporter in this country who hasn't written about him, but I'm not posting anymore links.

The road to (hopefully) gold is paved with..........

After the U18s win Friday, I'd loosely posted that the USA beat up on Puerto Rico. I guess that was indeed the case, looking at the pictures with this ESPN story: an opponent picking herself up off the floor and USA post Reshanda Gray pushing past players to get a rebound.

Well, all that domination resulted in a momentary lapse yesterday, when the USA team lost focus while blowing out Chile. Coach Jen Rizzotti benched the starting five and reminded the entire team that just because they were ahead didn't mean they should start playing sloppily or lethargically.

Interesting from that story, as well: the Chileans treated our squad like celebrities.

Good tidbit from this story: Alexis Jones wasn't on the orginal list of invitees to camp.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

U18s beat Chile 98-28, will face Brazil tomorrow for gold

Once again, a balanced team effort in another blowout.

In the other semifinal, Brazil turned it on to beat Canada by a digit, 50-49.

Gold medal game tomorrow at 5:45 p.m. MDT.

GO USA!!!!!!!!!!!

By the way, I gave USA Basketball a piece of my mind on Facebook. I told him/her that the women's action needs to be streamed too, after he/she posted that live streaming was new this year and "was starting with the men." I also told USA Basketball tweet about the women on Twitter too, because he/she mostly twitters about the men. Feel free to express your thoughts to USA Basketball too.

Friday, June 25, 2010

U18s advance to semis by beating up Puerto Rico

108-44.

No story up yet, but the box score tells the story: eight players in double figures!! (??) Words can't describe how great that is.

USA vs. Chile in semifinal one tomorrow, while it's Canada vs. Brazil in semifinal two.

Friday morning news

Bria Hartley, who is helping the U18 team blast opponents this week, has found a mentor in Coach Jen Rizzotti.

The Tulsa Shock canceled practice yesterday due to an outbreak of.....staph infections? Really odd.

Hoopfeed has highlighted the female nominees for ESPY awards.

Sparks owner Kathy Goodman saw some omens yesterday, leading up to the team's loss to the Mystics.

Cal Poly Pomona has narrowed its search for head coach to two candidates. It's strange to me that they chose to name them.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

NCAA proposes an end to early scholarship offers

No offers before July 1, proposes the NCAA.

Coaches also would have to receive high school transcripts documenting at least five semesters or seven quarters worth of academic work for a young recruit before they can offer a scholarship.

.....

But Long, senior associate athletic director at UCLA, said the committee was compelled to propose a change after recruits and their families said they had felt pressured to make decisions before knowing enough about the school's academic programs. Coaches also told the cabinet they were under increased pressure to "keep up" by making offers to younger and younger players or lose out on top recruits.


I like this proposal. Kids are under so much pressure; college coaches need to back off, or yes - at this rate kids will be signing in eighth grade.

Mystics 68, Sparks 53

Washington got payback for that Sparks opening night win. I honestly didn't expect a victory from Los Angeles after it was announced just before tipoff that Betty Lennox would be out for up to six weeks after knee surgery.

I want to take this time to commend Sparks owners Kathy Goodman and Carla Christofferson. They are truly the best owners in the league, and the tenor they've created at home games is one of caring and fun. They've truly changed the Sparks basketball experience, and fans really appreciate it. Goodman and Christofferson have also made it impossible to hate the Sparks as WNBA fans used to love to do. It just ain't the same, they say.

To be sure, Goodman and Christofferson didn't expect what they got when they bought the team in the fall of 2006. Soon after that, Lisa Leslie announced her pregnancy, and that she'd be gone for the 2007 season. The Sparks had their worst-ever record that year. That lead to the drafting of number-one pick Candace Parker, of course. But this is how that season ended, with our MVP in anguish over a last-second shot in the playoffs:



That picture still pains me to this day.

Last year expectations were high with the signing of Tina Thompson, but the Sparks couldn't seem to pull it together. This year same story, plus the injuries.

I wanted to shout out Goodman and Christofferson because I know they won't give up. All this has been discouraging, but the Sparks' time will come. If anything, these seasons will show these owners who their team's true fans are.

Hang in there, Sparks staff and fans.

From the "that's crazy!" files

Earlier today, Kelly Gibson was annouced as a new assistant at Syracuse. She and Erv Monier were abruptly fired as assistants at USC in March.

This evening there is more news: Monier is a new assistant at LaSalle. From head Coach Jeff Williams, some strong statements:

"Simply put, Ervin is one of the best coaches in the industry and I am extremely pleased to have him join my staff as the associate head coach," Williams said. "He has helped build and improve every program he has been associated with and I am looking forward to tapping into his knowledge of the Atlantic 10. He has worked in all aspects of operating and setting up programs and his thought process works like a head coach. He is a ready to be a head coach and I welcome that characteristic.

"He is a proven dynamic recruiter as indicated by the top seven rated class he recruited to USC and the past players he's recruited to Temple and Rhode Island," Williams continued. "He's an excellent tactician on both sides of the ball and he has developed players at all levels and positions. I know in Ervin Monier I have the consummate associate and I am truly excited."


Interesting coincidence.

Meanwhile, the late North Carolina State Coach Kay Yow's sister Debbie Yow will leave Maryland, where she's been for 16 years, to be athletic director for the entire Wolfpack.

It's things like this that exemplify why I gave up the idea of writing fiction years ago. I can't make up things that beat reality.

USA 89, Brazil 46

The U18s continue their winning ways tonight, handily beating Brazil. Scoring leaders were Chiney Ogwumike, Bria Hartley, Alexis Jones and Kayla McBride. Next up tomorrow, Puerto Rico.

Breaking orange news

Kelley Gibson has been named assistant coach at Syracuse University. The former Houston Comet was most recently part of the USC staff. She just tweeted that head Coach Quentin Hillsman "is just flat out freakin' awesome." Glad to hear she's happy; I always liked her.

One more freshman is gone from Oregon State - Angela Misa.

Betty Lennox to have knee surgery next week

SPARKS GUARD BETTY LENNOX TO UNDERGO KNEE SURGERY

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Sparks guard Betty Lennox will have knee surgery early next week, the team announced.

Lennox, who is averaging 4.9 points, 1.5 assists and 1.7 rebounds in 11.6 minutes per game, needs the surgery to repair a meniscus tear in her left knee.

The 2004 WNBA Finals MVP has been suffering from this injury for some time and has elected to have the surgery at this point in the season. Recovery for such a procedure is typically four to six weeks.


What are the odds that both my favorite pro players are out for the season in the same year?

Unbelievable.

More on the U18s

Lucky Lindsay Schnell of ESPN is in Colorado to cover the USA Basketball U18 championships. She says Chiney Ogwumike is the team's key player.

ESPN also provides a great soundslide show. I like that second-to-last slide best of all.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

On the lighter side, two unrelated items

It seems that everyone is having fun in Knox Vegas at the Women's Pilot Rocky Top League.

ESPN's Mark Lewis dishes more sage advice for high school ballers: get the most out of the July viewing period by setting goals.

On its anniversary, a Title IX debate

It started this morning when Wendy Parker of Blue Star Basketball stated that we should all be beyond Title IX:

But there’s another side to its legacy that threatens to tarnish the positive effects and cloud the challenges facing a more globalized women’s athletics landscape. Ever since the mid-1990s, when Title IX activists began pushing for proportionality — something they deny, of course — the women’s sports movement has veered away from the noble intent of the law, and away from embracing any reasonable definition of fairness for young athletes of both genders.

I’m not alone in this assertion, and those of us who are critical of what has happened do not oppose Title IX, but rather the claims, tactics and objectives of its most dogmatic defenders. In my mind, these activists have badly damaged the embrace of women’s sports as much as any rank misogynist.


The Title IX blog struck back with "mythbusters":

Myth: Title IX's proportionality requirement causes schools to cut men's sports.

Fact: Title IX gives schools three ways to demonstrate requirement with the law's requirement for equity in the distribution of athletic opportunities, one of which is proportionality. Basically, the three prongs work to protect women's sports from being cut when women are the underrepresented sex. Under Title IX, it's not necessarily unlawful for one sex (almost always men) to have more opportunities than another sex. All Title IX says with regard to cutting opportunities is that schools can't cut from the sex that had fewer opportunities to begin with. If there was a proportional distribution of opportunities, then Title IX would have no effect on a school's decision on which teams to cut. It could cut women's swimming and spare men's wrestling. What puts schools in the position of only being able to cut men's teams is the act of favored men with athletic opportunities all along.


Helen of the womenshoopsblog also disagreed with Parker, as did Q McCall of swishappeal.

I agree with Neena Chaudhry, senior counsel at the National Women's Law Center, who says it's the same conversation 38 years later:

Yet, despite the many doors that this remarkable law has opened, we are still having many of the same conversations that we did almost 40 years ago, especially in the realm of athletics.

Anyone who has tried to teach physical education in schools or coach athletics knows that the boys still rule. There's no way in hell we're ready to get rid of Title IX - we may never be able to do that. "Glory Road" was based on an extremely racist situation in 1966, and racism still exists today. The same is true of sexism.

Wendy Parker makes some great points in her piece. There will always be people who try to manipulate circumstances to their benefit. But Title IX is still very necessary.

Happy anniversary.

USA 91, Argentina 32

Nice first-round win for the U18s tonight. Love this box score, because it provides the middle name of most players. Love it even more because it indicates that the team is pretty balanced.

The USA plays Brazil tomorrow at 5:45 MDT.

Is Cal State Northridge ready to return to the old butt-kicking days?

Looks like it. Coach Jason Flowers has named his assistants.

U18s ready for the championships

Check this out:

The 12-member USA Under-18 National Team comes off two weeks of training to begin their quest Wednesday for the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Women in Colorado Springs, Colo. They play Argentina in the first round today at 5:45 p.m. MDT. The championship is set for Sunday.

Team members are ready for to begin the quest for gold.

“We’ve been coming along really well, and the energy in our last few practices is up,” said Cassie Harberts, of San Clemente High School in Orange County, Calif. “There’s a sense of urgency to win the gold medal.”

Reshanda Gray, of Washington Prep High School in Los Angeles indicated that the weeks of hard work seem to be paying off.

“I think we’re ready,” she said. “If you had seen us on the first day of practice and compared it to now, you’d see how far we’ve come.”

Harberts said head coach Jen Rizzotti asked the team recently what has changed for them the last two weeks, and one teammate said that they had become a family.

Gray said every player has proven to be valuable to the team’s makeup.

“Each and every person brings something different to the table,” she said. “Right now we’re combining as one.”

If they do win the gold medal, it will be through a lot of sweat. Players survived two rounds of cuts to make the team, and since then, their lives have been nothing but basketball, with two practices a day.

“The first practice is at 10 a.m., and we get a knock on the door at 7:30 a.m.,” Harberts said. “We’ll all go to breakfast, and then some people will go in the training room at 9:15 a.m.”

“After practice we shower, give them our laundry and rest until the next practice at 5 p.m.”

Southern California has two representatives in Harberts, who just graduated and is heading to USC in the fall and Gray, who will be a senior next year. Both say they’ve learned a great deal during their time at training camp, but their viewpoints on the experience couldn’t be more different.

Take the team’s recent visit to Pikes Peak. Most of the athletes hadn’t experience high elevation before, and Harberts was one who took off running to the top to “see how it would feel.” Gray took a more conservative approach.

“I already felt a little lightheaded,” she said. “I bought a pretzel and some cheese and sat down on a rock.”

Harberts, who will miss her graduation Wednesday, said she is ready to go home. Gray isn’t.

“I’ve complained, but I’m not missing LA,” Gray said.

Both players say they’ve learned a great deal at camp, and some of it is similar.

“I’ve learned how to find a new gear when I’m tired, how to work with each other, and I’ve learned how to play better defense,” Harberts said. “I’ve stepped out to the wing, as I usually play the four and coach wanted me to play the three.”

Gray said she has “come out of her shell” during camp.

“I’ve learned how to fight through it when I’m tired, how to gather myself when I’m tired, how to play better help side defense, how to talk better on the court, how to make smart decisions and to make better passes,” she said.

Both Harberts and Gray said the sacrifices they’ve made to be part of the U18 team have been worth it.

“This has been a good experience for me,” Gray said. “I’ve got to work with different types of people and different coaches; I’ve worked with the best.”

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Another Candice is done for the season

Candice Wiggins ruptured her Achilles tendon in the Lynx' game against the Liberty tonight, and is out for the season.

*Big big sigh*

Tuesday news so far

Oklahoma's Whitney Hand is back like a heart attack: cleared to play after suffering an ACL injury last season.

Texas has harvested four top recruits in the wake of its camp this past weekend. Wow.

The new issue of Inside Women's Basketball is out, and lookit this table of contents: everything from high school to the pros. As it should be.

The Sparks will wait at least two more games to make a move on acquiring Courtney Paris or someone else to fill the void left by Candace Parker's injury.

Texas Tech coach warned Big 12 of tensions that lead to punching incident

Interesting premonition by Texas Tech Coach Kristy Curry:

Two weeks before Baylor star Brittney Griner threw the punch in Lubbock that went viral on the Internet, Texas Tech women’s basketball coach Kristy Curry warned the Big 12 Conference about concerns she had regarding Griner and the officiating crew.

According to a string of e-mails obtained by the Avalanche-Journal through the Texas Public Information Act, Curry contacted the Big 12 after noting tension between Griner and Tech’s Jordan Barncastle at their game in Waco on Feb. 17. Curry also had concerns about the crew assigned to work the March 3 game in Lubbock.


Why didn't Big 12 officials do anything?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Transformations, transfers, stops and surges

High school:

Fantastic piece by ESPN on how three of the U17s - Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Betnijah Laney and Taylor Greenfield - transformed their bodies for the USA Basketball trials. And they did it the right way, with no nutty diets. The writer makes the valid point, which some of us forget, that body image can be an issue for basketball players, too.

College:

South Carolina Coach Dawn Staley has added Darius Taylor as assistant coach after the departure of Carla McGhee, who left to "pursue other opportunities."

Former Oregon State Beaver Kirsten Tilleman has landed at UC Santa Barbara.

Sparks:

The Sparks might acquire Courtney Paris. That would be great since they don't let Chanel Mokango play.

Mechelle Voepel has a tendency to go on too much, as is the case with this piece on Candace Parker. But the underlying point is worth it: that Parker's shoulder injury has forced her Superwoman butt to take a break. Things happen for a reason......

Storm:

Despite their raging start, the Storm aren't getting overconfident.

Finishing strong is more important to Seattle than starting off that way.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

U18s beat Canada, 58-39

Not too many details on today's win, because the USA Basketball website is rife with viruses again. (Do not click on the USA Basketball website on the above link; if you're fortunate like me your anti-virus will not let you access it for your own protection).

Dyin to know more details. If anyone's got them, please hit me up. But the U18s haven't lost a game yet, I don't think. That's a great sign.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Just Say No League kicks off

Things were still coming together today as the popular showcase leauge kicked off its annual run: teams, schedules, game times. But it will all come together and the website will soon be updated, league director Rhonda Windham said.

Just Say No, in its 20th year, features players from all levels, from those who have just graduated high school to a few post-graduates. Division I, II and III players and junior colleges are all represented. Here's a story I wrote about it last year.

Though not all players on all teams were there today, some usual suspects were in the house.....



....like UCLA guard Doreena Campbell, playing some wicked defense....



....as well as LA and junior college star point guard Mykiea Russell, who guided defending champions Fastbreak to a win over Cal State LA today despite having only five players.

I'll post more the minute I get the info.

Manute Bol dies

The former NBA star and humanitarian passed away this morning at age 47.

Bellarmine-Jefferson High School coach leaving for Cal State Northridge job



Bryan Camacho coaches Bell-Jeff to an almost-upset of Long Beach Poly this past Jan. 30.

Longtime coach of Bellarmine-Jefferson High School in Burbank, Calif. Bryan Camacho is stepping down to take an assistant coach at Cal State University Northridge. Sounds like it was a heart-wrenching decision for him. And I'd just become a fan of the program this past winter......good luck to them in finding someone equally good.

Sun 78, Sparks 75

Game story.

Box score.

Kathy Goodman's blog.

LA Times story.

Congrats to Tina Thompson for her 6000th career point. That's an amazing achievement. I also appreciate the way she stepped up last night, and I hope she can keep doing that. Hopefully next time, though, the Sparks won't get refs who call a three-point shot a two-point shot.

Check the box score and what I've been talking about since the beginning of the season is in lights: the Sun outrebounded the Sparks 44-26. If they just improved this one statistic, they'd start winning games outright. I hope Coach Jennifer Gillom decides to try this.

In the meantime, fans who want to meet the Sparks can do so Tuesday as they make their annual trek to the Long Beach Trader Joe's to take over the store. Fans can get autographs and watch players bag groceries and tend the salad bar. I've been the past two years, and it's a humorous event.



Candace Parker emerged out of the tunnel before the game with daughter in arm, to hand her off to her mother for the game.



Momma Parker has ridiculous musculature around that messed up shoulder.



When did Kara Lawson mess up her shoulder? That's two Lady Vols with shoulder issues on the same court.



Tina Thompson comes off the court after scoring her 6000th career point.



Here's one big problem: the Sparks get out-rebounded most times under the basket. Here, Sandrine Gruda does the job.



Tina Thompson really tried to get the board on this possession, though.



This is not the kind of timeout picture I was hoping to see this season.



Another problem: mass confusion for the Sparks on offense. What play are they running? is the usual question from the audience. Here, Delisha Milton-Jones tries to find an open teammate to whom she can pass the ball.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Alexyz Vaioletama replaced on U17 team

What a heartbreaker. After sitting out almost an entire year to recover from stress fractures in her legs, Alexyz Vaioletama has been replaced on the USA Basketball U17 roster as the same injury recurred. Alternate Jewel Loyd will take the Mater Dei star forward's place.

Let's see NBA players do this

I'm very impressed with the Los Angeles Sparks.

They recently visited the Imperial Courts housing project in Watts to conduct a clinic/activity day for kids and their parents. The video at the top of this page encapsulates the day.

Non-Angelinos may not appreciate this, so let me break it down: Watts is one of the most gang-plagued areas in the world. News agencies and others from all over the world sign up months in advance with LAPD for the chance to do a ride-along and see it for themselves. Watts is also one of the lowest-income areas in Los Angeles, and Imperial Courts is in the heart of it all. Believe me when I say that if any kids need some love, Watts children should be at the top of the list.

I don't know who in the Sparks organization thought of this, but I give them props. Going to the projects, helping the battered women's shelter and cleaning up the beach shows us what you're all about. And it's obviously good stuff.

USA Basketball team has busy schedule

Members of the U18 USA Basketball team are still training in Colorado Springs, Colo. for another week, and are keeping a busy schedule. They scrimmage against Chile today, Brazil tomorrow and Canada Sunday. They seem to be looking forward to the Canada scrimmage, in particular.

The U17's are on a slightly easier schedule.

Here's a nice piece on U18 team member Theresa Plaisance.

The U18's play for the world championship in Singapore Aug. 14-26.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Candace Parker will miss remainder of the season

This email was sent to season ticket holders at 7:57 p.m. :

Hey MVPs,

As you all know, Candace sustained a shoulder injury during Sunday's game against the Minnesota Lynx. After being reviewed by team training and medical staff and undergoing several tests, it was determined that at this point, surgery was the best option.

While losing Candace is huge, we still have a great team loaded with talent including Tina, DeLisha, Ticha, Betty and everyone else! Our goal is still to win and that is just what we plan to do!

As MVPs, you heard it first!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

SPARKS FORWARD CANDACE PARKER TO MISS REMAINDER OF
2010 SEASON
Parker to Undergo Shoulder Surgery

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker will miss the remainder of the 2010 season, it was announced today by Sparks Vice President/General Manager Penny Toler. Parker dislocated her shoulder in the first half of the Sparks game against the Minnesota Lynx on Sunday, June 13.

"Losing Candace is definitely a huge loss for us and the league in general," said VP/GM Penny Toler. "We still have a great team that is led by two Olympians and loaded with talent. Our goal, as always, is still to win."

Parker's surgery will be scheduled in the coming weeks.

For the season, she was averaging 20.6 ppg, 10.1 rpg and 2.2 bpg in 33.5 minutes per game.

Warm fuzzies and things

In time for Father's Day, USA Today profiles a couple dads who are proud of their pro-playing daughters.

Former WNBA hooper Rushia Brown has returned to her hometown to mentor young girls.

Michelle Snow takes time to thank a former teacher.

Stanford Coach Tara VanDerveer enjoys her time in her former east coast stomping grounds.

Final two ESPN USA Basketball analyses

Part two and part three provide a glimpse into the future of women's basketball. I really appreciate ESPN.

Plenette Pierson asked for her trade

Thanks to Pet at Pleasant Dreams for finding this from Plenette Pierson's blog:

I've been gone for a while trying to get a handle on the obstacles that life has thrown at me. Well lets take it back for a moment, Tulsa training camp was the hardest preseason workout that I've ever been thru in my career. I mean at one point in 5 and a half days we had 11 practices. Talk about being prepared! 40 Minutes of Hell is no joke, Im sad that I didn't get the opportunity to fully understand the system and enjoy wrecking havoc on other teams. While trying to figure out Coach Richardson's system, we had a disagreement that was hard for both parties to recover from. Both sides tried to reconcile our differences but ultimately it was my decision to make a move and start over new somewhere. I felt as if I wasn't able to contribute to the success of the team and that I was holding them back. Everyone knows that when you are unhappy with circumstances that are presented to you, it can make something you love to do something that you dread doing. That was the point that I was at and I expressed that to Coach Richardson and he made the trade. Im officially a New York Liberty!

Interesting.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Coming in April, 2011: The Public vs. Private High School Basketball All Star Games

Tony Rossignol has heard the arguement for years: which has better basketball programs - public or private schools?

The director of basketball operations at JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. is married to the school's varsity girls basketball coach, and Mary Rossignol has coached at both public and private schools. While she doesn't see a significant difference, others feel differently.

"I have always listened to the complaint that private schools do this and public school can do that," Tony Rossignol said. "I thought let's have some fun and let the players represent themselves."

Enter Rossignol's brainchild: a public versus rivate High School all-star game. And JSerra is hosting. Here's how the flyer will look.........

Event: The Public vs. Private High School Basketball All Star Games
Date: April 23, 2011
Location: JSerra Catholic High School, 26351 Junipero Serra Road, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Format: There will be eight teams and four games

Game Times:

10 a.m. Girls Underclass Public vs. Girls Underclass Private
12 p.m. Girls Senior Public vs. Girls Senior Private

4 p.m. Boys Underclass Public vs. Boys Underclass Private
6 p.m. Boys Senior Public vs. Boys Senior Private

Game length: There will be four 10-minute stop time quarters.

Player Selection Format:

i. 25 players from each category will be nominated to participate from each respective group (Boys Senior Public selects 25, Girls Underclass Private, etc).

ii. 20 of those players will be invited to participate in a practice session.

iii. Of the 20 selected 15 will be selected to represent their respective group.

iv. Selected payer must have played in at least 15 C.I.F. sanctioned events within the last 6 months and be academically eligible by CIF guidelines.

Areas represented:

1. SAN DIEGO SECTION

2. LOS ANGELES CITY SECTION

3. SOUTHERN SECTION

Rossignol is entertaining ideas in how to select participant athletes.

He thought of one scenario: to set up a site and let athletes, parents and coaches vote for who they want on their respective teams. The top 10 vote-getters would get automatic invites. Rossignol is open to including sports writers, and he'd like to keep the entire process simple.

"I do not want it to be a political selection process," he said.

Rossignol is accepting athlete nominations that include the name of the nominator, their relationship to the nominee, and all pertinent information about the nominated athlete. Rossignol is also open to other ideas in how to select the athletes for this game. His email address is: tony@nlhoops.com

"I want this to be a fun event," Rossignol said.

So what are you waiting for? Contact him!

So much "wow" news

Let's try to organize all this mind-bending stuff........

WNBA:

Sparks are down but not out. I like this attitude:

“Throughout these losses, this locker room has been crazy positive,” said point guard Kristi Toliver. “It comes from the veteran leadership, but we know how good we are and how great we’re going to be.”

Loree Moore's rehab is going well. That's really nice to hear. Although, seeing how good the Storm are now, it's scary to think that they'd be even better right now if Moore hadn't been injured.

NCAA:

It looks like Utah will accept the Pac-10's invite to join the league.

Pat Summitt and Geno Auriemma talking? It happened this past weekend at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony. I've always suspected that the rivalry between the two schools has been more of a fan invention than anything else. Kind of like the fake hatred between Bill Laimbeer and Michael Cooper when both were coaching in the WNBA.

Oregon State apparently has a nice pool of applicants for the open coaching job.

"Other":

The Rocky Top League kicked off last night in Tennessee, featuring seven Lady Vols. The non-Lady Vols were a little intimidated, and the Vols were confused:

The first order of business should have been introductions. Stricklen flipped a nice back-pass assist to . . . darned if she knew who.

Humorous times.

Lisa Leslie made fun of Michael Cooper's green suit on a recent broadcast.

More humorous times! Excellent.

More on USA Basketball

ESPN's Mark Lewis profiles some of the athletes who didn't make the U17 or U18 teams.

The U17 squad will be FAST.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

On Mark Trakh, new associate head coach at San Diego State



Mark Trakh cheers on the Trojans during a game last year

(Link to photo)

Mark Trakh has been named the associate head coach at San Diego State University. The former USC and Pepperdine coach was hired for his wealth of experience - almost 30 years, in fact:

"We really like the talent level of our 2010-2011 team," (Coach Beth) Burns said. "We are short on experience, however, and expect all five newcomers to compete for playing time this season. With that in mind, we chose to go after the absolute best teacher we could find to contribute to our program right now. Fortunately for us, that coach will be Mark Trakh."

Aztec's release.

The hiring comes 14 months after Trakh resigned from USC, where he was head coach for five years.

Trakh joked this afternoon that he "gets a chance to go back to college and learn."

"This is a great opportunity to work with Beth Burns," he said. "She's a great coach and a great person."

Last week I talked to several of Trakh's former players - some from Brea Olinda High School, where he coached from 1983-1993; some from Pepperdine, where he was head coach from 1993-2004, and some from USC. They wanted to set the record right after at least one source claimed Trakh used to be "harsh on players as well" as former Oregon State University coach LaVonda Wagner, fired recently for allegedly verbally abusing players. Each woman claimed that nothing could be further from the truth.

Aarika Hughes, who just graduated from USC, said she was a bit homesick when she first arrived from Oregon and began to get lax. Hughes said Trakh gave her some "tough love," which got her back on track.

"He's big on discipline, big on life skills and big on learning life lessons through basketball," Hughes said. "He has a true interest in his players."

She credited Trakh's influence as the reason she graduated.

"He's like a father to me, and I'd do anything for him," Hughes said. "He's such a great person."

Jacki Gemelos was part of Trakh's first recruiting class at USC. She said what attracted her to Trakh and the Trojan program was the coach's high morals, standards and emphasis on education.

"I've never experienced any negatives with him," Gemelos said. "He reminds me of my own dad."

Long Beach State Coach Jody Wynn has known Trakh since she was 10 years old, and he was her elementary school P.E. teacher. Trakh was an English teacher at Brea Olinda at the time, but taught one class at her school - a basketball class. She credits him for getting her hooked on the sport.

During the time she played for him at Brea, Wynn said Trakh would frequently take her and other players to college basketball games. She called him a kid at heart, and said he always had lots of jokes for his team. At the same time, she said he ran a tight ship.

"He demands perfection, and he wants everybody to be their best at all times," Wynn said. "He has a very disciplined system."

In his early coaching days, Wynn characterized Trakh as a "screamer and a yeller" because of his high expectations. Time has eased the yelling, but not the standards.

Trakh hired Wynn as his assistant coach after she graduated from USC, and she followed him back to her alma mater when he got the job there - a total of 13 years.

"I would never be who I am today without him," Wynn said.

Another one of Trakh's OG's is Hawaii assistant coach Da Houl, who played for him when he first started coaching at Brea in 1983. This was before Brea was in its current location, and before the school became known as a girl's basketball power.

"We didn't know how to play ball, and here's this young guy full of energy and knowledge," Houl said.

Houl said she barely knew how to dribble when she started playing with him as a sophomore. By her senior year, Brea went to the CIF state playoffs.

"He's extremely meticulous about the fundamentals of the game," Houl said. "He taught us how to play, and we worked our butts off."

By the time Trakh left the school for Pepperdine, Brea had a reputation bigger than itself.

"He put Brea on the map," Houl said.

Aimee McDaniel played for Trakh both at Brea and at Pepperdine - the latter unintentional, as she was already at the school before Trakh got the job. Like Wynn, McDaniel met Trakh through his basketball class. She was a soccer player at the time, but Trakh saw something in her and began pushing her to try basketball. Once she did, she discovered she was pretty good at it.

"By my freshman year, Mark approached me one day and said, 'are you ready to give up this soccer thing?'" McDaniel said.

She did, and she became the Orange County player of the decade (1980's). Her number is retired at Brea.

"He's a great X's and O's coach, but he also teaches you the game of basketball - he doesn't just go over the skills and put players through the drills," McDaniel said.

McDaniel called Trakh one of the most intelligent men she's ever met. She said while he was at Pepperdine, he expanded the team's playbook further than players had ever seen.

"He taught people to work hard and to be proud of themselves," she said.

Beatrice Godoy was part of Trakh's first recruiting class at Pepperdine. She said she wasn't prepared for the high standards he held when she first arrived, and she fought him on it. Eventually, though, she understood where he was coming from.

"At first it was all just for me, but it turned into doing it for him," Godoy said. "It was realizing we all had the same goals, and doing it for him and the whole team. I learned tons from him."

Heather Oliver just graduated from USC, and spent her freshman and sophomore years at an Arizona junior college. She said what drew her to USC was Trakh's passion. What kept her there was his caring for his players.

"He always had an open door policy with us - we could always come to his office and talk about anything," Oliver said. "He cared about the whole person."

Oliver said he was honest in his coaching, and she appreciated that.

"He told you want you needed to work on, and not in a negative way," she said. "He wanted you to get better."

Gemelos mentioned something I confirmed with Trakh: every player who has played for him has graduated. In 16 years of college coaching, he had three transfers at Pepperdine and one at USC.

Trakh will begin his duties at San Diego State immediately.

Monday, June 14, 2010

ESPN writer says USA Basketball snubs incomprehensible

For once, Glenn Nelson and I agree on something: cutting Moriah Jefferson and Ariya Crook-Williams from the USA rosters is some bull:

USA Basketball selection committees almost are legendary for sending messages to player pools. In this case, the dispatch is confounding: If you nearly made the team one year on one leg, pick yourself off the floor, and come back the next and reveal yourself to be one of the nation's truly luminary, young basketball products, that still isn't enough.

If there is a puzzle into which a player such as Jefferson, the hyper-kenetic, ultra-creative point guard from Glenn Heights, Texas, does not fit, then USA Basketball should reveal that puzzle, not make everyone assume its composition by revealing only the other pieces. Does USA Basketball have a blueprint for what constitutes the "American style" of hoops? If so, why keep it such a secret?


It makes no sense.

Conference realignment mania

The SEC wants Texas A&M, Texas and Oklahoma, but doesn't see the latter two as a realistic possibility. Maybe that's because Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe is making a pitch to Texas.

Nebraska has joined the Big 10.

Missouri is trying hard to save the Big 12.

I've got two questions:

What started all this?

Why don't all the commissioners just sit down for a massive realignment meeting?

Candace Parker will have tests to determine if surgery is necessary

Candace Parker's injury in Seattle Friday night appears to have been downplayed, because the truth is out now that she dislocated it then. In light of yesterday's second such injury, the Sparks star forward will have an MRI and X-rays this week to determine if she should have surgery.

Liberty and Tulsa trade Tiffany Jackson and Plenette Pierson

This is from Liberty HQ, so it's a little Liberty-centric:

NEW YORK ACQUIRES TWO-TIME WNBA CHAMPION PLENETTE PIERSON FROM TULSA IN EXCHANGE FOR TIFFANY JACKSON

The New York Liberty has acquired forward Plenette Pierson from the Tulsa Shock in exchange for forward Tiffany Jackson, it was announced today by team president and general manager Carol Blazejowski.

Pierson, 28, is a two-time WNBA Champion, having won the title with Detroit in 2006 and 2008. She has a career average of 8.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg and 1.2 apg through 204 games. Pierson won the inaugural WNBA Sixth Woman Award in 2007. The Kingwood, TX native was originally selected as the No. 4 overall pick in the 2003 WNBA Draft by the Phoenix Mercury. She was traded to the Shock on June 29, 2005 by the Mercury in exchange for Andrea Stinson and the Shock's 2006 second round pick.

"We are delighted to have the opportunity to add another player with championship experience to our roster,” said Blazejowski. "Plenette has proven to be an aggressive force in the paint during her professional career, and will help fortify our front court."

Through eight games this season in Tulsa, the eight-year veteran is averaging 12.1 ppg, 2.5 rpg and 1.3 apg in 15.8 mpg. She is currently ranked as the WNBA's No. 5 field goal shooter (.535) and No. 15 free throw shooter (.857).

Jackson, 25, a 6-3 forward, was selected No. 5 overall by the Liberty in the 2007 WNBA Draft and owns a career average of 5.9 ppg and 3.8 rpg. She has appeared in nine match-ups this season while averaging 4.3 ppg and 3.1 rpg off the bench for New York.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Two more

Hoopfeed has a great recap of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony yesterday, complete with mad links.

And Seattle Storm Coach Brian Agler does the Stanky Leg. Oh lord.

The incredible evolvement of Reshanda "Too Tall" Gray



Reshanda Gray rests during halftime of a fall league game in which her Washington Generals played last Oct. 17.

Los Angeles - If there is a Cinderella of LA high school basketball, Reshanda "Too Tall" Gray is unquestionably it.

For the 2007-2008 season, then-freshman Gray was on Washington Preparatory High School's JV team, where she helped lead them to the City Section JV Championship. She was good, but she didn't stand out all the time on a talented roster.

At the beginning of the 2008-2009 season, Gray made an immediate impression her first week playing varsity. I thought, she'd obviously worked hard all summer playing for her club team, the Cal Sparks, and in the fall for Washington Coach Ricky Blackmon. Her stats at the end of the season were impressive; she was her team's leading rebounder. The Generals won the league title that year for the first time in over a decade.

Gray began the 2009 club ball season playing for the Sparks' second team. On Memorial Day weekend, she was moved up to their top team, where she stayed all summer long.

This past season, Gray dominated, and lead her team to an unexpected repeat league title. She was the subject of newspaper articles and other writings. Now she's just made the USA Basketball team. But her coaches and those who know her aren't surprised at her unfathomable growth.

Blackmon attributed Gray's presence on the U18 team to her hard work and her hunger.

"Reshanda has an incredible work ethic and a willingness to do whatever it takes to get better," Blackmon said. "She has a desire to get really good, and she's always out there looking to be the best she can be."

Blackmon said he could tell fairly early on that Gray had the proverbial "it" that good players have. But it wasn't until Gray figured that out for herself that she took off.

"Once she bought into herself as a basketball player, she started progressing really fast," he said.

Gray's Cal Sparks Coach, Elbert Kinnebrew, said he wasn't at all surprised that she was named to the U18 team - and for many of the same reasons as Blackmon.

"Reshanda works harder than most players day to day, is fierce competitor, and is always working to improve her skills," he said. "She's a floor leader in every aspect. Shes a good 'talker' on the floor on the defensive end, is hard-nosed yet a very 'clean' player. She can dish it out in the paint, yet does not take it personally when her opponent returns the physical play inside.

"She doesn’t have the accolade resume as some of the other players in Colorado because shes a relative late bloomer on the national scene. However, it's clear the coaches and the committee recognized her intensity, effort, and the skill that she brings in the post."

Blackmon is ecstatic for Gray.

"I can't even put it into words - I don't even know how to express how proud I am of her and all that she's accomplished," he said.

Kinnebrew said his first thought upon hearing the news today was that it "couldn't happen to a nicer person."

"Reshanda is a delightful young woman who doesn’t let the attention change her attitude or unselfish and humble nature," he said. "I am thrilled that she will get to experience playing for her country in the International games. I feel that Reshanda is an excellent role model for the many young girls playing sports in Los Angeles and in inner cities across America.

Me too.

Being a teenager in today's world is so much more complicated than it was when I was in high school in the 1980's, with far more distractions. In inner cities - and maybe especially LA - there are gangs and other issues for teens to contend with. And those issues are far, far more than the general public realizes or understands.

I've seen a lot of talent fall by the wayside, and it kills me. It takes a strong and focused person to believe in themselves, believe in the possibilities, and to rise and fly.

I drove past Washington Preparatory High School on the way home tonight, and I had to smile. Reshanda Gray, from this high school in this rough neighborhood, is going to represent her country in basketball, I thought. A kid who was playing for the JV team two years ago, and who has had to jump over some big hurdles in life.

That is a hell of an accomplishment.

All I have to say, besides congratulations, is: where's the viewing party going to be this August?



Too Tall kept getting herself open in the left corner for the pass that day. She's a smart player.

U18 team named

Here they are:

Diamond DeShields, Norcross H.S./Norcross, Ga.
Stefanie Dolson, Minisink Valley H.S./Port Jervis, N.Y.
Reshanda Gray, Washington Prep H.S./Los Angeles, Calif.
Cassie Harberts, San Clemente H.S./San Clemente, Calif.
Bria Hartley, North Babylon H.S./North Babylon, N.Y.
Malina Howard, Twinsburg H.S./Twinsburg, Ohio
Alexis Jones, MacArthur H.S./Irving, Texas
Allyson Malott, Madison H.S./Middletown, Ohio
Kayla McBride, Villa Maria Academy/Erie, Pa.
Chiney Ogwumike, Cy-Fair H.S./Cypress, Texas
Cassie Peoples, Cy-Fair H.S./Houston, Texas
Theresa Plaisance, Vandebilt Catholic H.S./Marrero, La.

Congratulations to these young women, who have each worked very hard to get to this place.

On the U17 tip, Jordan Adams blogged from camp! Love it:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Sparks 88, Lynx 84

The LA Sparks just posted on twitter at 8:30 p.m. that Candace Parker is at home resting after dislocating her shoulder in today's game. She'll be listed as day-to-day.

I've been waiting for that piece of news all day after seeing it happen. It was on the other side of the court, and CP just started walking towards the exit tunnel next to where I sit. The shoulder looked to be out of place, and she was holding her entire arm, wrist and hand completely still. It wasn't until she got into the tunnel that any pain was evident in her face at all, actually, but then there it was. I knew what happened and I just leaned to the side and into the empty chair next to me for a minute. I don't know how much more basketball pain I can take right now; it's been a rough three months for me.

The Sparks rallied and did a great job without CP, who had 12 points and seven rebounds when she left the game. LA stepped up for the win. But then again, Minnesota has virtually the same record as LA; should we be excited that they had to push to get this victory?

The Lynx, like the Sparks, are a team who are better than their record indicates. Maybe Minnesota fans are frustrated like LA fans. They had five players in double figures.

I'll be honest, though - the CP injury ruined the game for me. I was distracted and not really paying attention after that. This probably ruins her chances for MVP, and she was doing so well thus far this season. Plus, if the Sparks don't have Candace - which is the only thing they've got going for them right now - they don't have much of anything.

I hope Candace finally has her surgery this winter.



Candace Parker out runs former teammates Nicki Anosike for the ball in the first quarter.



Betty Lennox looks to pass.



Parker swings it.



Parker walks off the court with the team trainer after sustaining an injury in the second quarter.



She kept her arm perfectly still and her wrist frozen the entire way across the court, and into the tunnel. The shoulder looks to be out of place. The pain came to her face finally when she entered the tunnel, and I was too stunned to take a pic.



Seimone Augustus unleashes a shot in the third quarter.



Lindsey Whalen brings the ball up the court.



The Sparks hung on to win it.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

WNBA and Pac 16

Phoenix set a single-game scoring record tonight in beating Tulsa, 116-84. The league's website doesn't even have a box score as of right now, but WNBA on twitter says Diana Taurasi and Candice Dupree each had 18 for the Mercury, while rookie and former Oregon Duck Taylor Lilley contributed 14 points and eight assists.

Sparks co-owner Kathy Goodman blogged about last night's loss to Seattle. Not to make excuses or anything, but the Sparks have had a tough schedule so far, facing the league's top teams - and in the case of Seattle, over and over again. Who makes up these schedules? Why are teams facing each other three times in the first four weeks. Stupid.

On the Pac-10 expansion, one news source provides an interesting hypothetical on a possible Pac-16. And it ain't pretty.

Four schools don't know what they're going to do since the Big 12 is dissolving.

Boise State's defection to the Mountain West Conference is causing turmoil for WAC officials.

John Wooden buried

The coaching legend was buried in Los Angeles today. A memorial will be held at Pauley Pavilion in two weeks.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday news nightcap

Teresa Edwards has some fond memories of Knoxville, Tennessee as she, Teresa Weatherspoon and Rebecca Lobo are inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame tomorrow. Weatherspoon feels like she's come full circle.

Tulsa Shock Coach Nolan Richardson is still teaching and living what he calls 40 minutes of hell.

The coach of the College of the Redwoods had resigned to....take a job with parks and recreation?

Fresh WNBA power rankings

"The Storm are hotter than any fresh cornbread biscuit you'd get at Cracker Barrel."

What??!! What??!! Ha-what??!!

First cuts for U18 team made

The 16 players who've made it so far:

Sidney Cook
Diamond DeShields
Stefanie Dolson
Raven Ferguson
Reshanda Gray
Cassie Herberts
Bria Hartley
Malina Howard
Afure Jemerigbe
Alexis Jones
Allyson Malott
Kayla McBride
Chiney Ogwumike
Cassie Peoples
Haley Peters
Theresa Plaisance

GOOOOOOOO Too Tall!!!!!!!!

But I'm sad for Ariya Crook-Williams.

Four more will be cut Monday.

Story.

Finalist quotes.

U17 team announced

Here they are:

Jordan Adams
Cierra Burdick
Bashaara Graves
Betnijah Laney
Kaleena Lewis
Ariel Massengale
Bria Smith
Imani Stafford
Breanna Stewart
Morgan Tuck
Alexyz Vaioletama
Elizabeth Williams

Thursday, June 10, 2010

For Thursday evening, it's John Wooden and USA Basketball

UCLA will hold a memorial for John Wooden on June 26, at Pauley Pavilion.

Wooden truly appreciated women's basketball. He was quoted once as saying:

"The top women athletes play a more pure game than the men," Wooden was quoted as saying. "They play below the rim and fundamentally better."

I agree.

USA Basketball has some fantastic interviews - one with U18 prospect Chiney Ogwumike and another with U17 candidate Alexyz Vaioletama.

(I love that I haven't had to check how to spell either of their names for a year.)

Ballin' with Betty, Lauren, the rookies and the U's

Nice interview with the Sparks' Betty Lennox on wnba.com. She and teammate Candace Parker get really silly most of the time during pre-game warmups.

Great Q&A with Storm center Lauren Jackson.

This week's rookie rankings are out, and the Sky's Epiphany Prince has moved up to third.

Lynx rookie Monica Wright blogs about her father.

So far the point guards are standing out at the USA U18 and U17 trials.

Pac 11

The Colorado Buffs are leaving the Big 12 and coming to the Pac-10.

WNBA President Donna Orender speaks

The head of the WNBA talks about expansion, ratings and roster sizes, among other things.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

USA Basketball U18, U17 athlete profiles

Who's trying out for your teams? Interesting reading:

U18 profiles

U17 profiles

More on....everything

Shoni Schimmel announced her college decision as she received her high school diploma. Isn't that interesting?

Kathy Goodman was probably tired today, because she stayed up late to blog about last night's Sparks win.

It's "game on" for Seimone Augustus. The Lynx star, who had three tumors removed in April, has been cleared to play.

ESPN Zone is closing their restaurants.....wow.

Sparks 92, Mercury 91

What are the odds of facing a team three times and having the outcome decided by a point on each occasion? I'd say pretty high, but the Sparks and Mercury did it anyway. This time, however, Los Angeles came out on the winning side.

Here's an accurate summary of 46 crucial seconds of the game:

Things were beginning to look grim for the Sparks when the Mercury (3-5) led, 89-84, with 56.6 seconds remaining in the fourth, but Kristi Toliver converted a three-point play after being fouled on a turnaround jumper to bring the Sparks to within two.

Noelle Quinn then made a huge three-pointer with 18.3 seconds on the clock to give the Sparks a 90-89 lead. But the Sparks then had a complete mental lapse on the other end, allowing Temeka Johnson to shoot a wide-open layup to give the Mercury a one point advantage with 8.8 seconds left.


I was sitting with two friends, and I had bonded with the friend of one of them who was sitting right in front of us. When Johnson threw down the shot, some fans went to pieces. But Margaret and I turned to each other and both said, "8.8 seconds is a lot of time!"

I guess I had a feeling they would pull it out. In this case, it was Candace Parker who did it. Thanks, CP. She told one news source that they "needed the win so bad." They sure did, and so did the fans. Hopefully this can serve as an impetus for the next game.

Betty Lennox was thoroughlly amazing with her 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Delisha Milton-Jones finally woke up and contributed 18. Diana Taurasi quietly contributed 21 points, and Penny Taylor had 17.

Box score.

Thoughts, in no particular order:

- Ticha Penicheiro, Andrea Riley and Betty Lennox all run the ball up the court when they're playing PG. Kristi Tolliver walks it up. It drives fans bat sh*t.

- At some points the Sparks looked completely confused. At many of those same points, crowd members could be heard yelling, "Set up a play! Set up a play!"

- After a third quarter timeout, Sparks players came out and some went on to the court and had to be called out by teammates; they didn't know who was supposed to be in the game or not. How could you not know just coming out of a timeout?

- A row of fans lined the railings on each side of the tunnel after the game. When Betty Lennox came off the court, they started SCREAMING and carrying on and could hardly be appeased even when she stopped to give them some love. Betty is a rock star! I hope Coach Gillom plays her more often.



I took this picture of Chanel Mokango, the Sparks' new player, because I thought she wouldn't get in the game again. She did later, but it was only for a few minutes.



Delisha Milton-Jones tries to hit in the third quarter, while Candace Parker and Tina Thompson watch. She warmed up more shortly after that.



Jennifer Gillom and assistant coach Steve Smith confer at a timeout in the third quarter.



Betty Lennox - she of 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists - watches the play in the third quarter.



Candace Parker speaks emphatically to the team at a fourth quarter timeout.



We won! We won! Booyah.