Sunday, July 31, 2011

Championship Sunday

First, the biggie: the U19s beat Spain 69-46 to take the gold medal. WOOT!

Picture of the team waiting to get their gold medals.

Then there was DFW T-Jack's 58-36 Nike Nationals win over the Fairfax Stars. It was emotional for DFW, in the wake of losing team founder and mentor Marques Jackson last year.

Top performers.

Buttloads of pictures.

All-tournament team.

Oregon-based Team Concept, featuring USA Basketball gold medalist Mercedes Russell, won the EBX championship today.

On the Say No Classic LA tip, the championship game is set for next Saturday after today's semifinal games. It's a rematch of last year, as LA Spirit will face PHB.

To get there, PHB beat Winning 75-40. LA Spirit defeated Fastbreak 42-34.

In the quarterfinals, Winning (featuring USC freshman Ariya Crook-Williams) pulled off a stunner by beating Onye Ibekwe's team - 2K11 - that was stacked with Pac-10 players. 2K11 was coached by SC forward Briana Gilbreath today, as Ibekwe was absent.

Reggie Snell's LA Spirit team featured another incoming SC frosh, Alexyz Vaioletama, who looks like she's fully recovered from leg stress fractures that held her out of play her junior year.

When I get the results of the semifinals of The League competition, I will be posting them.

Hoopism is three years old today

Today is this blog's third birthday. Thank you to those who read, comment and re-post - I appreciate it.

It's all ball, all the time: high school, college, pro, club ball, youth/adult leagues. If you have an idea for a column, please hit me up: hoopism@yahoo.com. You can also follow me on twitter at: www.twitter.com/hoopism.

Thanks again for reading.

About last night

Surprise: The Sparks won one on the road last night, beating the Sky 88-84. Offense was the key, and Delisha Milton-Jones was back on top, leading LA with 19 points.

No surprise: The Shock lost for the 12th consecutive time, to the Storm.

Club ball:

T-Jack and T-Flight collide.

Essence vs. Fairfax.

Follow all of today's game updates via: www.twitter.com/hoopgurlz. They've been doing an excellent job.

College:

If you're a Cal fan, check out this page.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

And MORE youngins!!

The US U19's defeated Brazil 82-66, and will move on to the gold medal game tomorrow, against Spain. Bria Hartley lead the way with 20 points; Stefanie Dolson chipped in 12; Cierra Burdick added 11; and Ariel Massengale put up 10. Brazil and Australia will face off for the bronze medal.

Nike Nationals: Wow, those are some loud uniforms West Coast Premier is wearing. Two of their star members - Lauren Holiday and Destiny King - insist on rolling their shorts while playing. Nooooooo! Lisa Leslie retired that awful fashion statement. For the love of God, don't bring it back to life.

NN brackets.

Tomorrow is the very last day of club ball for the class of 2012, ladies and gentlemen. Get out your tissues.

Youngins in the news

USA Basketball:

The U19 women came from behind to beat France, 70-64 in the quarterfinal round yesterday. Breanna Stewart lead the way with 21 points. The team advances to the semis tonight, and will face Brazil.

In the meantime, Canada has been eliminated.

Club ball:

Nike Nationals day two top performers.

Portland-based Team Concept smashed opponents at the recent Las Vegas tournament, reports an Oregon news source. Team Concept features the Fab Four of Mercedes Russell, Kallee Johnson, Jordan Reynolds and Jamie Nared. (Hey, did you catch the part where Pat Summitt has offered Russell?)

This week Team Concept has been in the EBX tournament in Berkeley, where they again blew out opponents to advance to a winning round today. Yesterday Russell had 26 points and 15 rebounds in one game.

A Maryland product, Bri Jones, has been catching ESPN's eyes.

Moriah Jefferson is having a great summer playing for DFW T-Jack Elite.

Bonus pro news:

Nice piece on Connecticut's Kara Lawson - a vet who is aging extremely well.

The Shock's coaching change has not resulted in a change of their record.

The Shock wants to avoid the "epic fail" list.

Shannon Bobbitt's buzzer-beater lifted Indiana over Washington last night, 61-59. In the Fever's previous game this week, the pint-sized point guard had 13 points. The misery continues for the Mystics.

Sad news: Silver Stars rookie Danielle Adams, who has been having such a brilliant season, has sustained a mid-foot sprain. She'll be out 4-6 weeks.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What's up with the Sparks?

OK, I'll pose the question: what's up with the Sparks?

They lost their fourth consecutive game tonight, to the Dream, 89-80. They're 6-10 (2-8 away), and won't make the playoffs if they keep this up. Here's what two Sparks had to say about tonight's game:

"We played well for about 23 seconds, but (Angel McCoughtry) hit some pretty big shots at the (shot-clock) buzzer," Sparks center Tina Thompson said.

"We played better, but it still was not enough," Sparks guard Ticha Penicheiro said. "We still have to figure out a way to win basketball games. We're still not rebounding well."


And I guess I put a curse on Delisha Milton-Jones with my recent blog about her, because she went scoreless for the second straight game tonight, after playing a season-low 13 minutes. She sat on the bench during the fourth quarter.

So what's going on? Even non-fans of the team are wondering.

The Sparks started off the season on fire. In post-game interviews after those first few games, they all gushed about the chemistry they had found.

Then Candace Parker was injured June 26. Out for six weeks. The Sparks lost that game and have been 2-7 since.

I just posted the "what's up" question on the Sparks board. The first respondent said the team has no depth as a result of poor trades, acquisitions and drafts for the last few years. That Parker has been carrying the team since the departure of Lisa Leslie in 2009.

I don't know if I buy that. LA has some nice reserves in Jenna O'Hea, Ebony Hoffman and Jantel Lavender. In fact, one could argue that at least two of the teams at the top of the two conferences lack depth, too. In other words, the Sparks aren't any worse than several of the top teams.

Nor would I necessarily buy the explanation that the team is missing Candace Parker. Sure, she is arguably their best player, and her contributions are missed. But how could a team that was crackling with the electricity of togetherness less than two months ago just fall completely apart with the loss of one?

Of course we won't know what's really up unless someone on the team or the staff close to the team says something. We're not on the team so we don't know. But many are praying and sending spirit fingers that they work it out - whatever the problem is.

"Rebuilding project"?

After months of silence, finally this from the University of Virginia on Joanne Boyle and her new staff. It almost seems like they're trying to compensate for the absence of information by making this piece a little long.

I object to the use of the term "rebuilding" to describe the UVa program. They've been to the Tournament as recently as 2009, and produced Monica Wright. One could argue that they needed a boost, but not a full rebuild.

Rumors have circulated that former longtime coach Debbie Ryan was pushed out. Others speculated that Boyle left Cal because her mojo was running out there, and her coaching abilities were questioned.

I don't know about any of that, but I'll be interested to watch Virginia this year.

Bonus:

ESPN has the top performers of the opening day of Nike Nationals.

Pac 12 channels, and more

The Pac-12 has created Pac-12 Networks, which will feature seven channels that will broadcast games, games and more games. How bangin.

Other college:

Stars just keep shining brighter: Florida State University Coach Sue Semrau is the new vice president of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association.

Former Utah coach Elaine Elliott is now an assistant at Westminster.

Most likely not coincidentally, Amy Krommenhoek will transfer from Utah to Westminster.

In other transfer news, Pacific center Danielle Peacon, who garnered all-freshmen conference honors last year, will transfer to Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, CA.

Club ball:

ESPN's first glance at the Nike Nationals, which began this morning.

WNBA:

Australian Liz Cambage, playing for the beleaguered Shock in her rookie season, is choking on her team's losses.

Her former teammate Marion Jones would love to return to the WNBA (she was cut last week).

San Antonio rookie standout Danielle Adams is working overtime.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

U19s lose to Canada, 64-52

What? The U19 team lost to Canada tonight. Box score.

Five days left of club ball for the year

ESPN previews five players to watch at Nike Nationals, which begin tomorrow. I wouldn't have put Moriah Jefferson on the list; she's already verballed to UConn.

Rebecca Gray has some great memories of club ball times past.

Summer tournament schedule.

WNBA:

Some of the All-Stars talk about the future of the league.

USA Basketball:

Fingers crossed as the U19s take on Canada.....broadcast just started.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

WNBA action

Hoopfeed has an excellent slideshow of last weekend's All-Star festivities.

Hoopfeed caught up with Ticha Penicheiro for a great story.

The Lynx finally have something going.

Tonight's scores:

Seattle 83, Phoenix 77

Atlanta 76, Tulsa 68

Minnesota 85, Los Angeles 72

Connecticut 77, Chicago 66

San Antonio 73, Washington 67

Monday, July 25, 2011

U19s squeak out win over China; remain undefeated

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Bria Hartley lead the U19 women over China tonight, 80-77. The US faces Italy tomorrow.

Other good stuff:

The NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Committee is studying moving the tournament back a week. What a crap idea.

More on Cal Coach Lindsay Gottlieb, including discussion of new recruits.

The Big State Flava Jam in Texas was full of action.

Soundslides from Basketball on the Bayou. Love that.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

MTW at Mater Dei, day two

Cal Sparks Gold was playing Tree of Hope Grey and Cal Sparks Black was facing the Vancouver Heat when I arrived at the Michael T. White Tournament this morning, so I did double duty.

Gold was making easy disposal of Tree of Hope, so I went over to the other game, which turned out to be a goody. Both Black and the Heat played each other hard, and the score was even until the last portion of the game, when Black went ahead by a few. The Heat fought back, but Black was able to hold them off.

IM in OC and I stayed right where we were for the next game, which was a battle of the Magics: So Cal Magic of San Diego and the Inland Empire Magic. SCM had an easy time of it, pummeling IEM 59-29. But SCM was really fun to watch. For one thing, they play together as a team. They have good offensive flow, and effective defense. They're a deep team with a lot of options.

The other two reasons I liked SCM were named Kandiss Barber, a 2014 guard from Mater Dei High School in San Diego and Ashley Newell, a 2013 guard from Corona Centennial High School. Barber's defensive intensity is awesome, and Newell is a fluid scorer, able to put up points inside and outside the arc.

The game following that was Georgia team Peak Performance vs. the Fresno Stars. IM and I expected a blow out, with top recruit Sydney Umeri heading PP. But the Stars came out strong and PP began slowly, so it was a close game until the second half.

Umeri wasn't that impressive, but maybe she was having an off-game. Her teammates Taylor Brown and Mackenzie Ingram looked great in what became a thrashing by PP.

The evening session featured Cal Sparks Gold vs. the Utah Flight in one semi-final, and Cal Sparks Black vs. the elite Tree of Hope team in the other semi. TOH capitalized on Black's lax defense, and easily won the contest. Gold had a more difficult time with the Flight.

Gold was the better team despite missing two starters in Jordin Canada and Kari Korver, who are both injured. But they had trouble with stuttering offense, and the Flight took advantage by using pressure defense. Gold was finally able to begin finishing under the basket in the game's final minutes, with key buckets by Erica McCall, Mercedes Jefflo and Keyla Morgan. Final score: 58-54.

Check out my big phat photo gallery of today's games and players, and be sure to check out the second page too, as I took a lot of photos.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

MTW at Mater Dei, day one



Cal Sparks Gold 56, Peak Performance (GA) 45. These two teams met in a round one game that could have been a semi-final or final game. Closest on bench is Peak Performance standout player Sydney Umeri #44.



Coaches roll call....from left: Kai Felton, Tara VanDerveer...fifth in Greg McCall...seventh in Michael Cooper. Many more in attendance from Nevada to Kansas to Utah.



Tree of Hope from Seattle. Kelli Kingma, the younger sister of UW player Kristi Kingma, in the pink hair ribbon is a 2014 prospect. She is a PG and was extremely good with her passes and running the offense. Tree of Hope won their first game.

National division next round games for tomorrow are:

Tree of Hope vs. JBS Purple at 10:20am
Cal Sparks Black vs. Vancouver Heat at 11:30am
San Diego Sol vs. Utah Flight Premier at 11:30am
Tree of Hope Grey vs. Cal Sparks Gold at 11:30am

Winners will play at 5:20pm........finals are Monday.

No Jordin Canada for Cal Sparks Gold. She hurt her head at the San Diego Classic tournament last weekend.

- IM in OC

Editor's note: prayers for the knee of one player are greatly appreciated.

The teen tip

The U19 women routed Russia 76-53 early this morning, and faces Argentina in the next round.

Only four days til Nike Nationals. Schedule and bracket.

All-Star wrap up part I

118-113! East defeats West in All-Star game.

Hoopfeed's cool story, featuring the complete transcript of the WNBA President Laurel Richie press conference.

Both rookies and vets were excited leading up to the game.

Being all all-star never gets old for repeat honorees.

The league also named its top 15 players of all time:

1.Sue Bird, Seattle Storm (2002-Current)

2.Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever (2002-Current)

3.Cynthia Cooper, Retired, Houston Comets (1997-2000, 2003)

4.Yolanda Griffith, Retired, Indiana Fever (2009) Previous: Sacramento Monarchs (1999-2007), Seattle Storm (2008)

5.Becky Hammon, San Antonio Silver Stars (2007-Current), Previous: New York Liberty (1999-2006)

6.Lauren Jackson, Seattle Storm (2001-Current)

7.Lisa Leslie, Retired, Los Angeles Sparks (1997-2006, 2008-2009)

8.Ticha Penicheiro, Los Angeles Sparks (2010-Current), Previous: Sacramento Monarchs (1998-2009)

9.Cappie Pondexter, New York Liberty (2010-Current), Previous: Phoenix Mercury (2006-2009)

10.Katie Smith, Seattle Storm (Current), Previous: Minnesota Lynx (1999-2005), Detroit Shock (2005-2009), Washington Mystics (2010)

11.Dawn Staley, Retired, Houston Comets (2006-2006), Charlotte Sting (1999-2005)

12.Sheryl Swoopes, Tulsa Shock (Current), Previous: Houston Comets (1997-2000, 2002-2007), Seattle Storm (2008)

13.Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury (2004-Current)
14.Tina Thompson, Los Angeles Sparks (2009-Current), Previous: Houston Comets (1997-2008)

15.Teresa Weatherspoon, Retired, Los Angeles Sparks (2004), New York Liberty (1997-2003)

And the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame announced their new inductees:

Nancy Fahey (Coach)
Nikki McCray (Player)
Pamela McGee (Player)
Igne Nissen (Player)
Robin Roberts (Contributor)
Dawn Staley (Player)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Shout out to all the ballers doing summer conditioning

The first telling sign is that they come in pairs: young, athletic-looking pairs. The next sign is that they're not doing regular weightlifting; they're working on plyometrics, throwing each other a medicine ball, running up hills with weight vests. A closer glance may reveal a school insignia on a pair of shorts or two. Yes, college basketball players are home and in the thick of their off-season conditioning.

The way it works is this: college athletes are on a year-long mesocycle of strength and conditioning-building. Basketball players work on increasing their endurance in the summer time, at the farthest point away from the season. In the fall, running drills become shorter until athetes are doing speed work, just before the start of the season. From November through March, conditioning is just maintenance, and stops in the school weight room are after practice, and are kept brief.

It is in the summer where champions are made. All the teeth-gritting and complaining about mileage that is going on now will translate to much less shorts-grabbing-at-the-end-of-a-game in February.

Sometimes athletes bring in the book that their strength and conditioning coach gave them before they left school for summer break. They'll glance at it, and then get busy, then go back to it again for further direction. I ran into one of my former ballers at the gym a couple weeks ago, home from the east coast. She wanted to know what a hang snatch was, so I showed her, and then had her practice it until she got it exactly right.

A few days before that I talked to a couple ballers at the other gym. They were doing box jumps and I asked if they ever did split-squat jumps - my favorite plyometric exercise.

"Oh yeah - that was the day before yesterday," the one boy said with a smile.

I gave them props for knowing their program.

This morning I went with some fellow teacher friends to the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook for a workout. On our way down the first time I saw two young men, and one had a weight vest on. As we got about 10 feet from them they both said "go" and began to run up the steep hill (it's 400 feet to the top). I told my friends, "that's some college stuff right there."

We were going back up again and I opted to run up the hill while my homies walked. I got done and was waiting for them when I found the two young men, who had also just reached the summit. They're from the University of Arizona team, and described to me their workout; it was a lot. We ended up talking about our backgrounds. Coincidentally, we all came from pretty non-athletic families and were "the crazy ones" of our tribes. That lead to some minor speculation about what makes an athlete - natural-born skills, or hard work and mental toughness? That's another column...............

The young men started to go back down so they could do their 8,567th repetition, and they shook my hand and said goodbye. But I know if I go back next week, they'll probably still be running up the hill.

It is said that your true character is revealed by what you do when no one is watching. So I'd like to give a shout out to the disciplined athletes who are doing their strength and conditioning workouts this summer, and doing them well. You put a smile on my face every time I see you. And you will be smiling at your own self come next winter.

Say No Classic schedule for the weekend

July 23

9 a.m. - 13 vs. 4
10 a.m. - 1 vs. 8
11 a.m. - 2 vs. 15
12 p.m. - 13 vs. 10
1 p.m. - 7 vs. 14
2 p.m. - 6 vs. 5

July 24

9 a.m. - 15 vs. 8
10 a.m. - 4 vs. 7
11 a.m. - 12 vs. 1
12 p.m. - 11 vs. 6
1 p.m. - 14 vs. 10
2 p.m. - 12 vs. 5

Teams

1. Eagles - Coach Quitt
2. Black - no coach
4. L.A. Spirit - Coach Snell
5. Ocelots - Coach Chase
6. L.A. Fastbreak - Coach Nelson
7. Winning - Coach Tammy
8. Titans - Coach Raymond
9. Intensity - Coach Hooper
10. 2K11 - Coach Onye
11. Long Beach Pandas - Coach Jocelyn
12. Gold - no coach
13. PHB - Coach Valentine
14. Team Excel - Coach McKinsey
15. Sleepers - Coach Raymond

Games are played at the Roberts Boys and Girls Club, 1339 E. 120th St., Los Angeles, CA 90059.

Answers to Sparks fans questions

Los Angeles Sparks fans have wondered why the team didn't have a pre-season pep rally this year, as they have in past seasons, and what team appearances they will make, as the team has been fairly invisible this year. Ben Alkaly, Sparks Director of Communications, took time out to give me some answers to these questions.

The Sparks' shorter pre-season schedule had them away on all weekends except Memorial Day weekend Sunday, when they were coming back from Albequerque, N.M., according to Alkaly.

The Trader Joe's event, which has been popular in the past, has involved players "working" at a Long Beach location of the store for a few hours and signing autographs for fans. This year TJ's and the Sparks are working to make that event a community service project that will send players to a local food bank. Alkaly said that will be at a date in August to be determined.

A full recap of all the Sparks events this year is here.

"We’re still very active in the community, and participated in some new events this year including the EIF Revlon Run/Walk for Women (which draws over 40K people to Exposition Park) and the Navasartian Games," Alkaly said.

WNBA final cut day and All-Star prep

Today was the WNBA's final cut day, and the league hasn't updated their transactions page. So far we have officially that Angie Bjorklund was waived by the Sky. Krystal Thomas was cut from the Storm, and Doneeka Lewis from the Shock (Karmia Christmas was signed in her place). Hopefully we get word about the other transactions soon.

In time for the All-Star game, the Tina Charles-Sylvia Fowles rivalry is growing.

The Lynx' Maya Moore will be blogging this weekend.

John Altavilla of the Hartford Courant has his votes in various categories thus far in the season.

WNBA extra:

The Storm isn't getting what it wanted out of Katie Smith. That's harsh.

College bonus:

Tennessee sophomore guard Kamiko Williams had successful surgery on her torn ACL this morning.

Celebrating women extra:

The joys of coaching female athletes. I'm going to add: female athletes really care about each other, whether it's in-season or off-season. And so many lifelong friendships are formed through sport.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A big cut, a big win

The Tulsa Shock cut Marion Jones and signed Abi Olajuwon. The only surprise in that is that Jones lasted as long as she did.

The U19 women trounced Japan 85-63 in today's opening round in Chile. Go USA! Box score.

Another great tip sheet from the Nike Summer Showcase.

ASU refuses to release athlete from National Letter of Intent; she will sit out a year

Karina Alofaituli asked out of her National Letter of intent with Arizona State after Coach Charli Turner-Thorne said she would take a year off. But ASU denied the Newbury Park, CA forward, so she will have to sit out a year beginning this fall, as she attends USC.

It's ironic, because a few years ago when Kali Bennett opted to be a Sun Devil after Washington coach June Daugherty was fired, the Huskies declined to release her from her LOI. It seems hypocritical to me that ASU is now doing the same thing.

More importantly, this practice is unethical. If a young person has signed with a school, they are doing so mostly because of the coach. If that coach is let go or allowed to take a leave by the school, then the school should release that athlete from her LOI. Not doing so is greedy, and lacks integrity.

I have not rooted for the UW since the Bennett incident. I'm going to add ASU to my list now. Any school that chooses to punish young people for the decisions of the school doesn't deserve any support.

All basketball realms

College:

Cal Coach Lindsay Gottlieb talks about her tenure so far, including her assistant coaches.

Senior Shanel Harrison has been dismissed from the Virginia Tech team for a violation of team rules.

USA Basketball:

Ariel Massengale is ready to go for the U19s, who begin competition today.

Pro:

The struggles of Storm forward Camille Little mirror those of her team.

Athletic performance:

Interesting new findings on how the menstrual cycles of female athletes might be tied to injury.

This week's schedule for The League

League Director Sherrise Smith has generously provided a photo montage of the action, on Thursday evenings and Saturdays. Here's the schedule for this week:

July 21

6:30 - 1 vs. 12
7:30 - 3 vs. 8
8:30 - 4 vs. 12
9:30 - 2 vs. 7

July 23

11 - 1 vs. 2
12 pm - 3 vs. 4
1 - 5 vs. 6
2 - 5 vs. 11
3 - 6 vs. 9
4 - 11 vs. 12
5 - 9 vs. 10
6 - 7 vs. 8

Teams:

1 – Yellow 2 – Purple 3 – Baby Blue 4 – Pink 5 – UCSD 6 – Navy Blue
7 – Red 8 – Black 9 – Green(SF State) 10 – R. Blue 11 – White 12 - Teal

Games are at St. Bernard High School, 9700 Falmouth Dr., Playa Del Rey, CA.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Getting ready for the WNBA All-Star game, second half of club ball season

In the standings department:

Seimone Augustus scored 25 points to help the Lynx beat the Mercury tonight, 106-98. Not only did Phoenix see its six-game winning streak snapped, but Minnesota moves into first place in the West.

The Sun is on a red hot roll. They haven't lost at home this season.

All-Star business:

Tulsa Shock rookie Liz Cambage will replace Candace Parker in Saturday's All-Star game.

Becky Hammon leads the All-Star reserve list.

Other pro business:

Diana Taurasi is spending more time on the bench for the Mercury this season than ever before. But she's cool with it.

Former Colorado coach Kathy McConnell-Miller is the Tulsa Shock's new assistant coach.

Laurel Richie is trying to translate soccer into basketball.

Club ball:

Today seems to be college verbal commit day. Look at this list.

ESPN has learned a lot from the first half of July recruiting.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

WNBA's oldest players have a multi-faceted approach to longevity

I talked to Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Tully Bevilaqua, Katie Smith, Delisha Milton-Jones, Ticha Penicheiro and Tina Thompson for this story.

Much, much respect for not only being able to play the game at a high level in their late 30's/early 40's, but for rolling with the evolution of the game and dealing with the youngstas.

Their respective senses of humor are a plus, too.

Second half of recruiting season about to kick off

Here comes the Michael T White Showtime Championships this weekend in the Los Angeles area. Bracket, featuring some of my favorite regular suspects from this tournament in years past. Other MTW events around the country.

One more tip sheet from the Nike Summer Showcase last week.

More on the Battle in the Boro. Low down on the 2013/2014 classes.

WNBA morning

Sparks Coach Joe Bryant flipped the lineup last night in his team's game against San Antonio, but Los Angeles still lost, 79-69. I haven't seen that much frustration in a while.

It has to be some kind of chemistry/psychological/we're-not-clicking thing, because the talent is there. The Sparks have a week to figure it out before their next game July 26, in Minnesota.

Other WNBA news:

Portland State Coach Sherri Murrell is still the only openly-gay Division I basketball coach.

From Storm practice, news of babies and such.

Chicago Sky rookie guard Courtney Vandersloot has modeled her game after Storm point guard Sue Bird.

The point guards at Purdue have formed a friendship, not a competition.

The Liberty think Quanitra Hollingsworth could be that center they've been seeking.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mystics 89, Sparks 85 (OT)



Crystal Langhorne pulls one down for the Mystics in the first half.



The new Sparks bench with Joe Bryant and Sandy Brondello at the head; Candace Parker at left.

Game story.

____________________


Other news:

Maya Moore's jersey is now the WNBA's top seller.

Nancy Lieberman is taking a front-office job for an NBA D-League team.

Club ball:

ESPN has the Battle in the Boro report. Tip sheet.

Some good college-related tidbits in the Daily Dirt.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Matee Ajavon scored 29 points

Right now, all the Mystics-Sparks games stories available on Google (mostly the Associated Press piece) list Matee Ajavon as scoring 27 points in tonight's Mystics victory over the Sparks. I saw one link that listed a "correction," but apparently they'd been talking about the biggest WNBA comeback angle. They fixed that, but didn't fix Ajavon's point total.

The Mystics point guard went to the free throw line four times in the overtime period. Each time I sat poised to record her shots (she was eight for eight) and add them to her points. I remember writing down point number 29. And I'm looking at the box score in the game book the Sparks staff gave to the media afterwards. It says she had 29 points too.

So I hope the Associated Press and other outlets gets this fixed by the morning. Do they make these types of mistakes in NBA games? I'm going to finish my own game story now. But it was a heck of a night. I don't think anyone expected that outcome.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

WNBA coaches

So on point: the WNBA should coach its coaches. That really needed to be said.

Though the Shock really made that loss to the Sparks happen last night, they are getting better since Teresa Edwards took the head coaching reins, a reporter says.

In club ball, the Fairfax Stars took down the mighty DFW T-Jack team to win the Nike Summer Showcase in Chicago. Chris Hansen profiles the tournament standouts.

For the Sparks, let's give credit where it is due: Delisha Milton-Jones

Last night the LA Sparks rallied from an 18-point deficit to beat the Tulsa Shock on their home court, 79-74. Kristi Toliver lead LA with 25 points - the most critical thee of which came with 19.7 seconds left, to put her team out of reach. Delisha Milton-Jones added 18 points for the Sparks.

The last three years have not been kind to the Sparks in the injury/recovery department. In 2009, Candace Parker came back halfway through the season after having a baby. Last year she was lost for the season in June after dislocating her shoulder again, and Betty Lennox was out for the season as well. This season, Parker tore the lateral meniscus on her knee and is out for six weeks.

Enter Milton-Jones. The veteran stepped up last year and was averaging 15.4 points per game by season's end - 14th in the league, behind teammate Tina Thompson. This year Milton-Jones is back at it, leading the Sparks in scoring right now at 13.4 a game.

For whatever reason, Milton-Jones seems to be one of those "unsung hero" players. Maybe it's because she's usually on teams with high-profile personalities like Parker and Thompson. But statistics don't lie, and the truth is that the 36-year-old has been the saving grace for the Sparks for two years now. If it weren't for her - especially in the home stretch of last season - LA would have never made the playoffs. Hell, they would have been at the bottom of the Western Conference.

There's this saying, "whether or not you think you can, you're right." That seems to embody the spirit of this ageless wonder, who recently told me, "you haven't seen the best of me yet."

Well, hot damn.

Los Angeles - this weekend's adult women's league schedules

The League, St. Bernard High School, 9700 Falmouth Drive, Playa Del Rey:

July 16

11:00 1v4
12:00 2v5
1:00 3v5
2:00 9v12
3:00 3v6
4:00 9v11
5:00 7v10
6:00 8v11

Teams

1 – Yellow 2 – Purple 3 – Baby Blue 4 – Pink 5 – UCSD 6 – Navy Blue
7 – Red 8 – Black 9 – Green(SF State) 10 – R. Blue 11 – White 12 - Teal

Say No Classic, Roberts Boys and Girls Club, 1339 E. 120th St., Los Angeles:

July 16

9 a.m. - 8 vs. 9
10 a.m. - 15 vs. 5
11 a.m. - 2 vs. 4
12 p.m. - 13 vs. 1
1 p.m. - 9 vs. 6
2 p.m. - 2 vs. 11
3 p.m. - 13 vs. 14
4 p.m. 10 vs. 7

July 17

9 a.m. - 11 vs. 8
10 a.m. 5 vs. 9
11 a.m. 4 vs. 11
12 p.m. - 12 vs. 9
1 p.m. 14 vs. 1
2 p.m. 6 vs. 15
3 p.m. 12 vs. 10

Teams

1. Eagles - Coach Quitt
2. Black - no coach
4. L.A. Spirit - Coach Snell
5. Ocelots - Coach Chase
6. L.A. Fastbreak - Coach Nelson
7. Winning - Coach Tammy
8. Titans - Coach Raymond
9. Intensity - Coach Hooper
10. 2K11 - Coach Onye
11. Long Beach Pandas - Coach Jocelyn
12. Gold - no coach
13. PHB - Coach Valentine
14. Team Excel - Coach McKinsey
15. Sleepers - Coach Raymond

Friday, July 15, 2011

Tulsa Shock re-signs Betty Lennox

She should have never been "un-signed," but Betty Lennox is back with the Shock.

Bonus:

Tina Thompson talks to Newsweek about winning.

USA Basketball in the news

Mercedes Russell has earned the U.S. Olympic Committee's June Athlete of the Month Award. Outstanding.

Diamond DeShields would rather play USA Basketball than club ball.

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis is making a difference both on and off the court.

The July recruiting period picture of the day belongs to Bria Day, courtesy of ESPN.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

WNBA All-Stars announced

The list has been made:

Western Conference

Sue Bird
Diana Taurasi
Maya Moore
Swin Cash
Candace Parker

Eastern Conference

Tamika Catchings
Cappie Pondexter
Katie Douglas
Angel McCoughtry
Tina Charles

Catchings was the top vote-getter, followed by Bird. Parker's replacement will be named by league President Laurel Richie.

Who will the coaches be? They forgot to put that in the release.

Club ballin:

FILA Nationals and Best of Summer tip sheets.

NCAA reprimands Mulkey, Walz for comments, actions during tournament

The NCAA has reprimanded Baylor Coach Kim Mulkey and Louisville Coach Jeff Walz for their comments and behavior during the 2011 national tournament.

The Division I Women's Basketball Committee took issue with Mulkey's criticism of the bracketing process. Walz, they said, used abusive language toward officials during a game, and kicked a table.

“The committee was very disappointed in the behavior of both coaches and strongly believes their actions discredited them and tarnished the championship,” said Marilyn McNeil, chair of the Division I Women’s Basketball Committee and vice president and director of athletics at Monmouth University.

Wow.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cali Summer Games, championships

Today's first marquee matchup, for the Elite North bracket championship, pitted Mission Rec Blue of Oakland against Lady Rampage, from the Riverside, California area.

The game started off like a shooting contest, with each team making three-shots. But then Rampage began outrunning MRB with cuts to the basket, fast breaks and good defense. MRB fell behind by nine and went on a small run near the end of the second half to try and catch Rampage, but they couldn't quite close the gap. Rampage prevailed, 55-49.

Cal Sparks Gold took on the West Coast Premier Valley 17's for the Elite South bracket championship. Gold had annihlated three opponents on their way to today's title game, fresh off of winning a FILA Championship in Atlanta last weekend. WCPV17's aren't West Coast Premier's top team; they are in Chicago right now playing in a tournament.

The two teams appeared evenly-matched until late in the first half, when WCP made a huge run. They out-rebounded and out-hustled Gold, and at one point were up by 19 points. It didn't help that Gold was ice cold on shooting, and couldn't seem to score to save their lives.

But in the middle of the second half, Long Beach Poly junior guard Keyla Morgan ignited Gold with her aggressive play. She got rebounds, and kept finding a way inside to score - sometimes on put-backs. Her teammates responded and finally got shots to fall for themselves, as well. Gold also stepped up their defensive pressure. Final score: Gold 54, WCP17's 48.

"I think that was good for them," said the parent of one of the Gold players afterward. "They weren't really challenged here until today, and you need those challenges so as not to get complacent."

Cal Sparks Gold roster:

Kari Korver 2012 Valley Christian 5.9 Guard
Paris Baird 2012 Windward 6.1 W. Forward
Courtney Jaco 2013 Windward 5.7 Guard
Erica McCall 2013 Ridgeview 6.3 P. Forward
Keyla Morgan 2013 L.B. Poly 5.9 Guard
Mercedes Jefflo 2013 Centennial 5.11 Guard
Jordin Canada 2014 Windward 5.7 P. Guard
Kristen Simon 2014 Windward 6.2 Center
LaJahna Drummer 2014 St.Bernard 6.3 Forward
Peyton Langston 2014 Rolling Hills Prep 6.0 Guard
Emoni Jackson 2014 Muir 6.1 W. Forward

This young team has won a lot already, and they haven't even quite found their identity.

WCP Valley 17's roster:

35 Cora Chan
25 Raven Doyle
14 Natalie Florescu
2 Hannah Johnson
23 Leslie Lopez-Wood
4 Alia McCoy
21 Jaya Schultz
5 Annie Tarakchian
13 Katherine Wright
11 Tahniya Sweatt

Crazy talent there.

Besides the pictures below, there is an entire gallery of photos from both games today HERE.



Lady Rampage, in the red uniforms, used good shooting in the first half and slicing into the key in the second half to pull off a victory. They defeated Mission Rec Blue for the Elite North championship, 55-49.



#21 Jordin Canada is very poised on the court for an incoming sophomore. Her defensive tenacity helped Cal Sparks Gold come back to beat West Coast Premier Valley 17's, 54-48 for the Elite South championship.

Oregon basketball on the map

Team Concept of Oregon has been blazing up the club ball circuit so far this summer, thanks to the fantastic four of Jaime Nared, Jordan Reynolds, Mercedes Russell and Kailee Johnson. Great pictures with this ESPN story.

WNBA:

The final score of today's Mercury-Lynx game was 112-105. Holy momma. Diana Taurasi had 27 to lead Phoenix in the victory.

The Sparks won their first road game last night against San Antonio, 84-74. Ticha Penicheiro came off the bench for the second game in a row, and put up 18 points and pulled down eight boards. It was the first game for new head coach Joe Bryant. Fan reaction.

Fans already know this, but it can't be repeated enough: the year-round schedule is hard on female pro ballers.

USA Basketball:

Jordan Adams of the U19 team is a sports junkie.

For kids:

Former Tennessee Vol Brittany Jackson has opened a basketball academy.

More on The League:

If you haven't checked out last night's post on The League, do so. Then dig the great extra photos here, beginning at row seven.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The scoop on The League

Los Angeles basketball trainer Sherrise Smith runs The League: a women's basketball league in West Los Angeles. It is direct - and great - competition to the Say No Classic.

I checked it out again last Thursday and saw three great games. Then I sat down with Sherrise to get some details about The League.

SF: When (what year) did you start The League?

SS: The League was founded in 2008 at the HAX in Hawthorne CA

SF: What was the impetus behind starting it?

SS: As the Director of Womens Basketball at HAX, one of my duties was to establish an elite competative women's summer league for International pro athletes and some of the top collegiate players. In its inaugural year, The League was comprised of eight teams of eight players each. LMU, UCLA, USC, Penn State, and Cal State Fullerton were a few of the teams involved. We had notable participants, such as current WNBA player Noelle Quinn, and then-WNBA player Willnette Crocket (in limited games due to the start of the WNBA season).

SF: What is the age range of the players? Are most of them in college?

SS: Players range from 17 (incoming high school freshman) to former and international pro women - the oldest being 37. I would say that a it is a fair mix of former players/pro players and collegiate participants. The great majority of the players are from D1 schools, and this year we have UCSD, and San Francisco State that are participating as teams.

SF: Who are the coaches and how are teams formed?

SS: In an effort to create rivalries and keep the summer league fun, players or coaches are allowed to form their own teams. Or, I organize individual sign-ups and place them on teams, and ask them if they have teammate requests.

SF: How many teams did you start with and how many are there now? What has the league growth been like?

SS: We started with eight teams and have grown to 12 this year, with 10 players on each team. I have been slow to expand the league, as my goal is to have competitive games for the skill level of the majority of the players. If we expand too quickly, it dillutes the quality of play and competitiveness.

SF: Where do you get those cool uniforms?

SS: The uniforms are purchased each year. They are a solid-color dry fit uniform, and the teams get to choose the color they would like each year. I think that it adds a unique value to the league, rather than using the standard reversible jersey.

SF: What nights/days do you play and where?

SS: The League games are played on Thursday evenings and Saturday afternoons at St. Bernard High School, 9100 Falmouth Ave., Playa Del Rey, 90293.

SF: How many games per night and day?

SS: We play four games on Thursday and nine or more games on Saturday, with some teams playing twice.

Unlike many summer leagues we are not sponsored, and I personally make sure that we each year have a well-organized and competitive summer league in which players can compete against quality competition, and improve their skill set.



Team Purple (dark uniforms) and Team Hustle all brace for the pass inside.



LMU guard Danielle LeNoir passes the ball for Purple.



Former Arizona Wildcat Coco Sanford rebounds and looks to pass for Hustle.



Hustle wins the battle of this rebound.



Team Pagon, in the pink, and the NW All Stars faced off in the late game.



#9 for the All Stars was their best player.



LMU star point guard Hazel Ramirez takes the ball up the court for Pagon, while incoming UCLA freshman Moriah Faulk rushes to position herself.



Faulk coils for the shot.

News on the youngins

Club ball:

ESPN has the End of the Trail tournament tip sheets. For our convenience, they're organized into class of 2012, class of 2013 and class of 2014.

How sad - Gabby Green of Cal Storm Taurasi broke her ankle in a game this morning.

USA Basketball:

I love their headline writer......Elizabeth Williams of the U19 team has a Midas touch. (I can hear Midnight Star signing it in the background).

On the down side, LA big Imani Stafford will miss the games due to a pelvic cyst:

Imani Stafford of Los Angeles, Calif., will miss the FIBA U19 World Championships after an MRI exam revealed a cyst in her pelvic area, according to her club program director, Ray Mayes of Finest Basketball Club (FBC).

A 6-foot-5 post ranked No. 17 by ESPN HoopGurlz in the 2012 class, Stafford will have a biopsy performed but was told that there's a 90-percent chance it is non-cancerous, Mayes said.

Malina Howard, a 6-3 post from Twinburg, Ohio, who is ranked No. 7 in the 2012 class, is expected to replace Stafford on the USA roster.

Stafford averaged 12.2 points, 12.1 rebounds and 4.3 blocks to help Winward (Los Angeles, Calif.) to the 2011 CIF Division IV state championship. She also was a member of the 2010 USA U17 World Championship team that posted a perfect 8-0 record during the inaugural FIBA U17 World Championship. She averaged 3.6 points and a team third-best 5.3 rebounds in 9.8 minutes per game in France.

The daughter of former USC and WNBA standout Pamela McGee will miss the summer evaluation circuit.

"We'll miss our big," Mayes said. "But I'd rather have her with USA. Health comes first."

More on recent coach firings

Turns out Sparks players were told by Jennifer Gillom herself that she was being replaced, in a team meeting to watch video.

More on Nolan Richardson's departure in Tulsa.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Thoughts on the new HAX

I certainly was not the only one to be attached to the Hangar Athletic Exchange's previous location in Hawthorne. We'd all been trolling there for games for years. So when it was announced last winter that they'd be moving to Harbor City, people were bummed.

Today was my first time going to the new HAX, about 15 miles south of Los Angeles, and I had no idea what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I loved it. I might even like it better than the old location.

For starters, there is one more court than at the old HAX. This allows for a few more teams to come to a tournament. The ceilings are lower and there are more doors, which allow for better ventilation. Translation: it's not the sweat box that the old place was.

There could be a few more bathrooms. But the fact that there is a hanging ceiling scoreboard at every court - and not one on a table that you can't see - is worth standing in line to pee for a few minutes.

The Harbor City HAX isn't quite as flossy as the Hawthorne HAX. There's no fancy weight room for health club members; no pretty training room. But it has all the necessary things, including the old floors, and it feels like home.

It's out of the way for most people, which is a detriment. But you can park on the streets there, which you couldn't do at the old HAX.

I give the new HAX a thumbs up.



The north side courts: there are four of them.



You can walk upstairs to get through to the south side courts, instead of walking all the way around, and in the process you get a good view. Here EBO Elite takes on Mission Rec Blue.



View from the other side of the basket.



The two south side courts.

Cali Summer Games, Day 1

Good ballin' at the Cali Summer Games today.

Cal Sparks Gold, fresh off their FILA Championship Saturday, looks amazingly strong. Their second five is almost as good as their starting five. Result: butt-whoopins. They won their first game today 71-21. Gold then beat San Antonio's Finest in an exhibition two hours later, 71-41. And they have only one player who will be a senior in the fall.

Scary.



Action from the Mission Rec Blue (Oakland, dark uniforms) vs. Fresno Stars game. Final score: MRB 70, FS 46.



Team RIENG is in the dark uniforms and So Cal Magic is in the red.



It was an extremely physical game. Final: SCM 53, TR 50.



Cal Sparks Gold guard Kari Korver (dark uniform, #26) watches the shot fall with teammate Erica McCall, just behind her.

Korver had seven three-point shots in the team's second game a little later.




Reserve point guard Courtney Jaco, who has just dished the ball above, is an intregal part of a young CSG team. They just won the FILA National Championship Saturday for the second year in a row. This afternoon they beat the Arizona Rebels (as seen here), 71-21.



McCall, who helped the USA Basketball U16 team win a gold medal last month, is fouled.



...and she gets her free shot.

Sparks now have a unique marketing opportunity

Twenty-four hours after the Sparks announced they were dumping Jennifer Gillom for Joe Bryant, fan reaction has been varied. Some say it was a hasty decision. Others say it should have been done long ago. A couple said General Manager Penny Toler should have been fired instead. Some say Bryant is the perfect replacement. Others say he doesn't know what he's doing.

In other words, typical scenario in these situations: make up your own mind.

One thing I do know for sure, is that the Sparks now have a golden marketing opportunity. Their new coach is the father of one of the NBA's best players. If Kobe Bryant doesn't start coming to some games and otherwise publicly touting the WNBA, I'm going to think that the league doesn't really want to increase the fan base like they say they do.

Thousands of people walk around wearing Kobe Bryant shirts or jerseys. All he would have to do is say, "check out a game," and most of them would do it; they'd do whatever he said because they really look up to him.

C'mon, Kobe - let's see you out there. Support your dad and the Sparks.

The LA-area high school basketball axis is shifting

Every few years in the Los Angeles area, it seems that a class graduates which consists of numerous star basketball players. 2011 is such a class. Gone to college now are many of the area's top athletes, which will cause several high school teams to have to rebuild this coming season.

Along with those graduations, there are some big coaching changes, too.

Ricky Blackmon, who has coached at Washington Prep for a decade, is now assistant coach at Westchester High School. And who is the new head coach there? Longtime Carson High coach Marcel Sanders.

It's an especially interseting alignment, considering the two men coached against each other for so long in the Marine League. The only more heated rivalry than Prep and Carson was either of those two schools against Narbonne - another member of the same league.

For Blackmon, the switch began last spring when the Los Angeles Unified School District transferred him as a teacher to Carson. I'm not sure what spurred Sanders to vacate his position, as I've been unable to reach him.

Longtime Prep assistant coach Keyshawna Ledet will take over as head at Washington. No word yet on who will be Sanders' replacement.

Another major change is Denise Woods leaving View Park Prep to take the head coaching job at Southwest College. Woods, a former USC standout, had been head coach at VP for seven years and created a successful program.

Marty Verdugo stepped away from the winning Santa Monica High program just as many of his star players graduated last month.

After longtime Brea Olinda Coach Jeff Sink's abrupt departure from the girls program to take over as boys coach, Villa Park coach Kim Cram took the helm. Word is that it was rough going for the team last month.

The axis in LA high school hoops is shifting. I'm just not sure yet to where it's shifting.

Injuries and tip sheets

Tennessee's Kamiko Williams sustained an ACL tear last week during a game she was playing in the Pilot Rocky Top League. She may miss the upcoming season.

Speaking of devastating injuries, the WNBA's 11-player team limit kills teams when one player - particularly a star - is hurt and out for a while.

ESPN has tip sheets for the Super 64 and Flava Jam tournaments.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A pause for some big ups

There were several games played last night, but in only one was a record broken: Tamika Catchings broke the WNBA steals record, eclipsing Ticha Penechiero's old mark of 736 by two, to 738.

I must give some huge ups to Catch. She has never won an MVP award, but she's a world-class player and a world-class person. She is a great team leader and always busts her hump in practices and games. Personally, she has a charitable foundation and gives much of her time to community service. Someone like her is hard to find.

Congrats, Catch. Hope you break 1,000.

Jennifer Gillom replaced by Joe Bryant

I got this news via an email on my phone about a half hour ago. "Shocked" isn't the word.

So does this mean Jennifer Gillom isn't even an assistant coach? It doesn't sound like it from the press release. And how will the team's direction go differently now?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Say No Classic, day 3

Checked out a few games at the Say No Classic today. The first was the Ocelots vs. the Titans, which is displayed in the first three photos. The Titans have some incredible defense, and the Ocelots couldn't get past that.

Next up was 2K11 vs. the Eagles. 2K11 looks like an all-Pac-10 team, with a roster that includes former USC Trojans Kari LaPlante and Stefanie Gilbreath, and former Wilcat Ify Ibekwe, who was cut from the Seattle Storm a couple weeks ago. This team looks like a Redwood forest for their height, and they had no trouble putting away their shorter opponents. So far they've only lost one game, and that was in overtime.

The only sad thing after the game was seeing Ibekwe walk off in her "Storm basketball" long-sleeved shirt. I was so sad when they cut her.



LA native Tayllor Gipson, of South Idaho College, takes the ball up the floor for her Ocelots, as they played the Titans.



Battling for the rebound in the first half.



Both teams watch a Titans shot go in during the second half.



2K11 is loaded from left to right: Coach Onye Ibekwe, his sister Ify Ibekwe, and Kari LaPlante. Stefanie Gilbreath is also on the team.



2K11 is an extremely tall team. They played the Eagles (white jerseys).



LaPlante gets the board and makes the pass down court, while Ibekwe is already in motion.

Teams

1. Eagles - Coach Quitt
2. Black - no coach
4. L.A. Spirit - Coach Snell
5. Ocelots - Coach Chase
6. L.A. Fastbreak - Coach Nelson
7. Winning - Coach Tammy
8. Titans - Coach Raymond
9. Intensity - Coach Hooper
10. 2K11 - Coach Onye
11. Long Beach Pandas - Coach Jocelyn
12. Gold - no coach
13. PHB - Coach Valentine
14. Team Excel - Coach McKinsey
15. Sleepers - Coach Raymond

Tomorrow's schedule

Sunday, 7/10

9 a.m. 5 vs. 7
10 a.m. 10 vs. 8
11 a.m. 12 vs. 4
12 p.m. 11 vs. 9
1 p.m. 12 vs. 6
2 p.m. 11 vs. 14
3 p.m. 1 vs. 15

Games are at the Roberts Boys and Girls Club, 1339 E. 120th St., Los Angeles, CA 90059.

Cal Sparks Gold repeats as FILA National champs

And lead by incoming sophomore LaJahna Drummer, to boot. Story.

Nolan Richardson resigns as Shock head coach

The life of a WNBA coach is often even quicker than that of a mosquito: Nolan Richardson resigns.

Teresa Edwards is a good replacement. What will happen next?

Bonus:

Just in time for tonight's matchup against LA, check out Sue Bird's leadership skills.

Furman University players helped tornado victims in Alabama.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Thinking about college for a minute

I got my UCLA season ticket renewal letter in the mail yesterday. Ticket prices are 20 percent lower this year, because games will be played at the Wooden Center while Pauley Pavilion is being remodeled. And check out this pre-season schedule! :

Friday, Nov. 11: McNeese State (WNIT first round)
Sunday, Nov. 13: WNIT second round (game not guaranteed)
Wednesday, Nov. 30: San Diego State
Saturday, Dec. 17: Tennessee

The Vols back, for the first time since 2007? Well allright then!

It's ironic that this game was likely scheduled when Nikki Caldwell was still the head coach, and the last time the Vols were here was when Caldwell was still at Tennessee.

Bonus: Some of the Washington Mystics were chillin with the Dalai Lama today. I can't believe how cool this photo is.

Just a few quickies

Some fathers love their daughters so much, they start a club ball team just so they can play. Sometimes it works, too.

Tennessee guard Kamiko Williams injured her knee yesterday in the final night of Rocky Top League play. Her status is uncertain.

Shanterrica Madden has been indicted in the death of her former roommate, Middle Tennessee State guard Tina Stewart.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Interview with Sparks owner Paula Madison

So many interesting bits came up in my interview with the Sparks majority owner. Just a few: Paula Madison and her family own the majority of the team; she doesn't believe in micro-managing; and she didn't even want to invest in the Sparks at first.

What to expect this summer in club ball

Chris Hansen says it's the summer of the super hero.

Bonus - USC loses one: Len'Nique Brown transfers to North Carolina State.

Say No League re-commences Saturday

The Los Angeles version of the Say No Classic began play June 25-26 at the Roberts Boys and Girls Club, 1339 East 120th Street, Los Angeles. They took last weekend off for the holiday, but are back for the rest of the month, and into August, this Saturday and Sunday.

The league directors sent me a schedule a couple weeks ago, which I could not open. I have tried diligently to get another schedule in a form I could read and thus post here, but I have not received that.

So here's what's up: games are played every hour on the hour, beginning at 9 a.m. both days. The high school division plays Saturdays only, and the women's division plays both Saturday and Sunday. Games usually last until 5 or 6, depending upon cancellations or rescheduled games.

If you know a player on a team and go to see their game, obviously that's easy. But if you're showing up to check out the play, then take a shot and see what you get. Hopefully some kind of schedule will be posted in the wall in the gym for the day, and for upcoming weeks.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

State of the Shock

C'mon, you know it's crossed your mind. And apparently, you're not the only one: has Nolan Richardson worn out his welcome in Tulsa? Both fans and the coach himself are frustrated.

Interesting twist: Joe Bryant looks to escape the shadow of his son Kobe.

Taj McWilliams-Franklin is still a force to be reckoned with.

The Silver Stars' Danielle Adams is Rookie of the Month for June.

College transfers:

Taelor Karr is leaving Kansas State and will go to Gonzaga.

Junior forward Julie Paunovic is departing Rutgers.

Janae Smith has left the College of Charleston for Illinois State.

Tennessee Vol forward Alyssia Brewer has had her left basketball shoe redesigned to accommodate her Achilles tendon injury.

Oklahoma Coach Sherri Coale still feels "young and passionate."

End Of the Trail live feed

Couldn't make it to Oregon to watch your kid play? No worries - the End Of the Trail tournament folks have a live feed for you, which includes archives. Total dopeness.

In first day action, Mercedes Russell and Team Concept soundly beat the Arizona Warriors, 82-65. ESPN said Russell shined. No surprise there.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Getting the week started

WNBA:

In the absence of the injured Briann January, Shannon Bobbitt and Erin Phillips will do point guard duties for the Indiana Fever.

In the meantime, their teammate Tamika Catchings says the NBA lockout isn't a concern.

The Storm has found their offense, even without Lauren Jackson.

The Shock has added veteran Doneeka Lewis.

News this morning is that the Liberty have waived Jessica Breland and signed Felicia Chester.

The Phoenix Mercury and their male practice squad all have fun times in practices.

High school/club ball:

In the last of ESPN's series surveying anonymous coaches, the discussion is on how the recruiting game can change.

College:

The departure of assistant coach Charlotte Smith for a head coaching gig at Elon University leaves a hole in the North Carolina program.

Monday, July 4, 2011

July recruiting period begins Wednesday

For college coaches, the fireworks begin in two days, when the July recruiting period commences. Here are the major tournaments that will kick off the month:

On the West coast, there is the End of the Trail Tournament in Oregon City.

The Big State Flava Jam kicks it off in Texas.

FILA Nationals and Best of Summer take over Georgia.

After the dead period in the middle of the month, there are the two biggies: USJN Nationals and Nike Nationals.

ESPN's tournament list.

For LA-area residents, action begins next week with the annual Cali Summer Games, at the new location of the HAX.

Elite North bracket.

Elite South bracket.

North-South showcase games.

The latest recruiting updates from ESPN.

Let's get this party started.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A few Sparks items

A video of last weekend's Sparks at Liberty game, which shows Candace Parker's knee injury just before the three-minute mark. Ugh.

Q and A with Australian rookie Jenna O'Hea.

No official announcement has been made yet, but Tina Thompson said yesterday that she will be inducted into the USC Basketball Hall of Fame. Well-deserved, and it's about time.

Hot, like July

College and recruiting:

Cori Close and UCLA have their first recruit - it's Lauren Holiday, sister of Jrue Holiday and descendent of basketball-playing parents. Lauren will keep it in the Pac-10, which just turned into the Pac-12.

Joan Cronan - the former women's athletic director at Tennessee - has been interim AD for the last several weeks. Not surprisingly, the veteran is finding her influence is growing. (Gwan, girl!)

WNBA:

ESPN finds that Sheryl Swoopes, 40, loves the game just as much as ever. You can't coach love of the sport, can you?

I feel badly for the Fever's Briann January, but she is dealing with her torn ACL.

The parity of the WNBA is a challenge for some players, depending upon what college they played for.

Friday, July 1, 2011

July is poppin already

College:

Conference realignments are in full effect today, including the Pac-10-turned-Pac-12. Pac-12 tournament basketball will be in Los Angeles next year, but Seattle will make a bid to host it the year after.

Final Director's Cup rankings:

1. Stanford
2. Ohio State
3. California
4. Florida
5. Duke
6. North Carolina
7. Virginia
8. Texas A&M
9. Florida State
10. Oklahoma

Florida Gulf Coast University has landed Whitney Knight, who de-committed from Duke.

Bett Shelby will join Seton Hall's staff as assistant coach.

I'd like this job/oops: Kansas overpaid Coach Bonnie Henrickson $2 million in 2009. Commentary.

WNBA:

The New York Liberty celebrate 15 years of existence by honoring a select group of players, and putting them in the "ring of honor."

Mercury point guard Temeka Johnson's ankle injury from last week is more serious than anyone first thought. She is a game-time decision tonight.

Club ball:

College coaches rank club ball coaches in ESPN's continuing series. Three California coaches get the nod for being good.