Saturday, June 30, 2012

Last day of the month roundup

Tonight's WNBA action:

Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel was having fun on the road, and Svetlana Abrosimova was re-signed yesterday. But Seattle lost to the Liberty in today's lone game, 77-59. The defeat snapped a five-game winning streak for the Storm.

Other WNBA news:

Danielle Adams visits Silver Stars camp.

Shameka Christon talks about joining SASS.

Questions with Lynx guard Candice Wiggins.

Liberty practice report.

Indiana Fever Coach Lin Dunn says her team is tough-minded.

Mystics minute features rookie Natalie Novosel.

Washington's strength and conditioning coach, Mike Bugielski, has hydration training tips.

NCAA news:

The Atlantic-10 is now the Atlantic-16....VCU and Butler joined today.

Longwood University has joined the Big South Conference.

The League continues

I caught tonight's game between Team Encore and Team Ex, as part of the adult women's "The League." Final score was Encore 72, Ex 58.


Hazel Ramirez of Loyola Marymount University and Team Ex in The League, puts up a smooth jumper. She finished with 15 points.


Toni Thomas of Team Encore scores the layup.

The first games of the day are played at Marlborough High School and the last games are at St. Bernard's High School.

Full schedule:

7/7 (Marl)
12:00 4v12
1:00 5v14
2:00 1v3
@ St. B
4:00 8v13
5:00 6v7
6:00 5v*11
7:00 9v*11
8:00 2v10

7/14 (Marl)
12:00 *4v13
1:00 *4v5*
2:00 3v*5
@ St. B
3:00 7v9
4:00 12v*14
5:00 *1v*14
6:00 *1v10
7:00 6v8
8:00 2v11

7/21 (Marl)
12:00 2v*12
1:00 *3v*12
2:00 *3v13
@ St. B
3:00 1v5
4:00 4v14
5:00 7v10
6:00 *8v11
7:00 6v*9
8:00 *8v*9

7/28 (Marl)
12:00 *10v12
1:00 *4v*10
2:00 3v*4
@ St. B
3:00 7v11
4:00 8v14
5:00 *2v*6
6:00 1v*6
7:00 *2v13
8:00 5v9

8/4 (Marl)
12:00 7v12
1:00 5v10
2:00 4v9
@ St. B
4:00 6v11
5:00 2v8
6:00 3v*14
7:00 *13v*14
8:00 1v*13

8/11 (playoffs - top 8)
1:00 (A) 1v8
2:00 (D) 4v5
3:00 (B) 2v7
4:00 (C) 3v6
5:00 W(A) v W(D)
6:00 W(B) v W(C)

Sunday, 8/12 Championship

Teams

1. White – (BBG)
2. Black – (Beast Mode)
3. Yellow – (AVC)
4. Pink – (Cal State LA)
5. Orange – (SF state)
6. Red – (Encore)
7. Baby blue – (UCSD)
8. Lime Green – (Salvatori)
9. Forrest green – (Black Mamba)
10. Blue - (GSAC)
11. Navy – (Right Now)
12. Purple – (Mustang Alumnae)
13. Ex
14. Gametime

California Storm Summer Shootout, Day 1

I went to Redondo Union High School today to catch the first day of the California Storm Summer Shootout.

In the first of two games I watched, Cal Storm Black and Cal Sparks Gray faced off. Both teams played each other hard and kept the score within two points either way until midway through the first half, when CSG pulled away and never looked back. They have strong full-court pressure defense, which unnerved their opponents. CSG guard Destinee Brown lead her team with 21 points. Final score was CSG 54, CSB 40.

Tournament action continues tomorrow.


Cal Sparks Gray (dark uniforms) and Cal Storm Black players look for the rebound, including game-high scorer Destinee Brown, far left.


Cal Storm player runs the ball up court, with Cal Sparks in hot pursuit.


Cal Sparks player grabs the rebound.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The regular suspects

Tonight's WNBA results:

Sun 77, Mystics 64.

Asjha Jones dropped 20 for Connecticut.

Dream 102, Shock 92.

Angel McCoughtry was the high-scorer for Atlanta with 24.

Mercury 84, Sky 81.

DeWanna Bonner, who keeps getting better and better, lead Phoenix with 27 points - her third consecutive 20-plus point effort.

Other WNBA:

Epiphanny Prince, interrupted.

The Fever is glad to have Briann January back this year.

NCAA:

New Hawaii Coach Laura Beeman has now signed five players for next season, including Long Beach Poly's Destiny King.

High school and recruiting:

Penn State has signed two top recruits, and other happenings in the week in review.

Other signings.

Class of 2013 super 60.

Los Angeles Club Ball watchers: California Storm Summer Shootout

All weekend, baby.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hoops stars show up for Louisville elite camp

Stars galore today at day one of the Louisville Cardinal's Elite Camp.

The 2013 #1-ranked Mercedes Russell is in attendance, and she is a program changer.

WNBA:

Could there be a Lynx dynasty brewing?

NCAA:

Beth Dunkenberger will move from Tulane director of basketball operations to assistant coach.

The League Saturday schedule

The website isn't updated yet, but I have this Saturday's schedule:

@ Marlborough High School

12 pm 1v8
1 pm 3v10
2 pm 11v12

Games below diff venue, TBA

4 pm *7v14
5 pm *7v*13
6 pm 2v9
7 pm 6v*13

Teams:

1. White – (BBG)
2. Black – (Beast Mode)
3. Yellow – (AVC)
4. Pink – (Cal State LA)
5. Orange – (SF State)
6. Red – (Encore)
7. Baby blue – (UCSD)
8. Lime Green – (Salvatori)
9. Forrest green – (Black Mamba)
10. Blue - (GSAC)
11. Navy – (Right Now)
12. Purple – (Mustang Alumnae)
13. Ex
14. Gametime

Sparks' slump continues

WNBA:

Final score just moments ago: San Antonio 94, Los Angeles 80. The Sparks were down by as much as 22 points. Candace Parker with yet another double-double: 25 points and 13 rebounds.

This is LA's third consecutive loss, and San Antonio's fourth win in their last five games. The Sparks seem to be tired from many road games. The Silver Stars seem to be proving that they've been underrated.

Other league stuff:

ESPN's Hollinger Power Rankings don't look like those of the WNBA.

Mechelle Voepel and Michelle Smith discuss the league.

FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament:

Hoopfeed explains.

In the meantime, Australia is beating up on Brazil.

NCAA:

Next year's Final Four logo has been unveiled.

Title IX:

How Title IX impacts high schools.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

ESPY nominees for best WNBA player

The list:

Tamika Catchings
Seimone Augustus
Diana Taurasi
Angel McCoughtry
Tina Charles

Agree or disagree?

Candace Parker, other Olympians the focus of ESPN's next "body issue"

Check those newstands July 13, because Candace Parker is one of the Olympic athletes who will be featured in ESPN's "the body" issue:

Candace Parker (WNBA)
Carlos Bocanegra (soccer)
Rob Gronkowski (NFL)
Abby Wambach (soccer)
Tyson Chandler (NBA)
Maurice Jones-Drew (NFL)
Jose Bautista (MLB)
Brad Richards (NHL)
Maya Gabiera (surfing)
Ronda Rousey (MMA)
Mike Smith (jockey)
Tim Morehouse (fencing)
Walter Dix (track)
Danell Leyva (gymnastics)
Suzann Pettersen (LPGA)
Ashton Eaton (decathlon)
Carmelita Jeter (track)
Anna Tunnicliffe (sailing)
Oksana Masters (paralympic rowing)
USA Volleyball Team:
Destinee Hooker
Stacy Sykora
Alisha Glass
Cynthia Barboza
Megan Hodge
Nellie Spicer
Heather Bown

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

University of Louisville has a billboard in.....Springfield, Oregon

The University of Louisville mounted an advertisement on a billboard recently in Springfield, Ore. It is one of a few ads that take turns flashing by on the electronic marquee, and it features pictures of two athletes on the women's basketball team: Shoni Schimmel, who is from Oregon, and Bria Smith, who hails from New York. The message reads, "Louisville basketball supports its athletes from coast to coast."

Tammy Hill said the sign seems to be aimed at her family, as her daughter Mercedes Russell is the top recruit in the 2013 class. Louisville is among the schools Russell is still considering as she goes into the July recruiting period, after narrowing down her list from hundreds of choices.

"One can only assume, since the sign is along a highway that is an exit away from our house, and an exit away from Springfield High School," Hill said. "For creativity, I have to give them credit. I've never seen that approach before."

Hill said it is hard to take a picture of the sign because of its location, but added that it is very bright.

Russell has taken a few unofficial visits to colleges so far. She will use all five of her official visits this fall, Hill said, and will make her college decision prior to the beginning of high school basketball season.

"She just wants to enjoy her senior season, without all the pressure," Hill said.

Russell ascended to prominence in the spring of 2011, when she capped off a strong season by leading her Springfield Millers team to a state title. Last summer she played with the USA Basketball U16 team, which won a gold medal. This past season Russell averaged 28 points and 15 rebounds per game and lead the Millers to a repeat title. In August Russell will play with the U17 team in the world championships.


Mercedes Russell at a Mater Dei High School tournament this past April.

Rookie class of 2012 was underrated

Approaching this year's WNBA draft, fans made these comments frequently:

"This draft is a throw away. Wait til next year's draft!"

"The Sparks got the #1 lottery pick on the wrong year."

"There's nobody good in this year's draft except the girl from Stanford."

Or they ignored the draft entirely for the above beliefs - too busy thinking of who will get Brittney Griner, Skylar Diggins and Elena Delle Donne in next year's draft.

Now, almost halfway through this WNBA season, the class of 2012 has proven fans all wrong. The top picks are not only statistically significant, but they are integral parts of their respective teams. Witness:

Four rookies among the top 50 scorers.

Five rookies among the top 50 rebounders - and pretty high on the list, too.

Mercury rookie Samantha Prahalis second in the league in assists, with the Shock's Riquna Williams also among the top 50.

Six rookies on the steals list, including four in the top 15.

Seven newcomers are on the blocks list, including some lower picks.

Several rookies are starters for their teams, and log significant minutes. A few have been the high-scorers for their teams. Their efficiency rankings as a group are very solid, especially considering they're newcomers.

A quick glance at WNBA statistics of the past few years shows that there were usually three rookies in the top 50 of any statistical category, in contrast to this year.

So, hats off to this year's rookie class, who are already impacting and improving the league. We see you.

A surprise or two in tonight's game results

The Dream used defense to dominate and defeat the Fever, 70-58.

The Storm beat the Mystics again, 79-71.

And surprisingly (I'm not going for the obvious pun), the Shock thrashed the Sparks 91-75.

What is "wrong" with the Sparks? Some have asked.

They're tired, and they've tweeted that they are. They're road weary, and they've tweeted that too. They've had a lot of back-to-back games, which not all teams have had. They've also faced many of the same teams multiple times. In short, the WNBA has had to cram as many games as possible into the first half of the season before breaking for the Olympics. It's part of the hefty price paid by female basketball players.

Other factors? We don't know - we're not on the team.

Game notes and quotes, courtesy of Shock HQ:

Final Score: Tulsa Shock 91 Los Angeles Sparks 75
Sparks 10-5 / Shock 2-11


Game Leaders

Tulsa Shock

Points: Riquna Williams 27

Rebounds: Pedersen/G. Johnson 6

Assists: Ivory Latta 8

Los Angeles Sparks

Points: Kristi Toliver 21

Rebounds: Ogwumike/Lavender 7

Assists: Kristi Toliver 7

Game Notes

Tulsa Shock

· Tulsa trailed by one point, 5-4, at the 7:35 mark in the first quarter. Tulsa never trailed after that point in the game.

· Tulsa closed the first quarter on a 13-2 run. Riquna Williams scored seven points in the run, which went from 2:53 left in the first quarter until the end.

· The Shock led 48-25 at the half, their biggest lead at the half of the season, squashing their previous held six.

· The Shock closed out the 3rd quarter on an 11-0 run which was sparked by seven points by Riquna Williams.

· Tulsa set a new mark for its largest lead of the season at 27 points. This is also the largest lead the Shock have ever had since moving to Tulsa in 2010. Tulsa led the Sparks 74-47 with 9:27 left in the fourth quarter.

· Riquna Williams scored 27 points in the game, a new career- and season-high for her. Her 27 points are the most points scored by any rookie so far this season and the most scored by any Shock player so far this season.

· The Shock shot 49.3 percent from the field which is a new team season-high for field goal percentage in a game.

Los Angeles Sparks


- Los Angeles scored a first half season-low 25 points. Their previous low was 28 points.

- The Sparks went on a 14-4 run from 6:43 until 4:18 in the third quarter to cut the Shock lead to 58-45.

- Candace Parker was held to a season-low two points in a season-low 21 minutes.
Kristi Toliver scored 21 points and had seven assists, both of which led her team. She scored 10 of her 21 points in the third quarter.

Shock Quotes

Head Coach Gary Kloppenburg on the Shock’s win

“Anytime you shoot almost 50 percent, 42 percent from threes, your energy on defense is rewarded. That’s the thing we’ve been struggling with is shooting the ball well. We’ve been playing really tough defense. When the ball goes through the net like that, it energizes you at the other end. We just seemed like we got into a flow. Of course Riquna stepped up huge and had an unbelievable game with 27 points. I thought Amber Holt came in off the bench and really helped us scoring, rebounding and she had four assists as well. It was a rewarding effort after the tough games we’ve been through. It was very rewarding for us and hopefully we’ve got something we can build on right here.”

Forward Glory Johnson on the game

“We were leading the majority of the game and it feels so good because all that work that we did in practice and the games that we’ve lost by this much, it all pays off now. It all goes to our defense. Working on our defense that’s what started it and the offense came. We played great defense and we got the ball, that’s when our offense came so it’s really good.”

Guard Temeka Johnson on the Shock’s play

“It always feels good to get a win but the way we won tonight is fantastic. Riquna stepped up big. It was a collective effort against a very, very talented team. I’m excited about it.”

Sparks Quotes

Head Coach Carol Ross on her team’s third quarter run that cut Tulsa’s lead from 20 to 13

“I thought we had the right mindset to make a run, but to Tulsa’s credit they responded and hit some big shots. Those shots put us back in a reactionary state again.”

Coach Ross on the difference in the game

“I thought their guard play was phenomenal. Their three guards, Williams, (Temeka) Johnson, and Latta, scored 59 points combined. They are explosive, they are quick, and they are aggressive. We did not respond well. They were just very, very good.”

Coach Ross on playing Tulsa again in the future

“Fortunately, I’ve got a little while to think about that. Clearly, we have to play better. We can’t let (Tulsa) take over the court, which I thought they did. I think we see them after the break, so we’ve got some time to make my team better.”

Forward Nneka Ogwumike on the game

“I think we came out ready to play, but we just didn’t sustain it. I felt like the third quarter was definitely different. At halftime, Coach Ross said that there was still 20 minutes left to play. At times, they were getting a lot of the hustle plays and the 50/50 balls. That changes the momentum of the game.”

Congratulations to veteran Sparks forward Delisha Milton-Jones, who passed the 5,000-point mark for her career, and the Mystics' Monique Currie, who surpassed 2,000 career points tonight.

These power rankings were done before today's games.

Seimone Augustus and fiance grand marshal Twin Cities Pride Parade



Lynx guard Seimone Augustus and fiance LaTaya Varner grand marshaled the Twin Cities Pride Parade this past Sunday. Looks like they had a good time, too.



- Photos by David Sherman

Around the league

WNBA:

Current efficiency leaders:

Sylvia Fowles
Candace Parker
Tina Charles
Epiphanny Prince
Tamika Catchings

Rookie efficiency leaders:

Nnemkadi Ogwumike
Glory Johnson
Samantha Prahalis
Avery Warley
Shenise Johnson

Sky forward Ruth Riley was just inducted into the Capital One Academic All-America Hall of Fame.

Tulsa Shock President Steve Swetoha answers questions from his mailbag.

The Lynx are on pace for a record scoring margin.

Time out with Lynx rookie forward Devereaux Peters.

Cynthia Cooper says the league is in good hands with players like Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore.

Silver Stars veteran Tully Bevilaqua in her own words, from the playground to the pros.

San Antonio rookie Shenise Johnson took time out last week to visit a Boys and Girls Club.

The Sun asks, where are they now? - Adrienne Johnson.

Two Storm fans show their pride.

U.S women to play in pre-Olympic "Four Nations Tournament"

A team of just-graduated Americans will play in China this week in the Four Nations Tournament:

The women’s roster consists of: Katie Bussey (Montana State), Dawn Evans (James Madison/Connecticut Sun), Ashley Corrall (USC/Seattle Storm), Jence Rhoads (Vanderbilt/Iceland), Brittany Carter (Memphis/Connecticut Sun), Becky Burke (Louisville), Briana Gilbreath (USC/Washington Mystics), Amanda Johnson (Oregon), Kristina Santiago (Cal Poly), Cierra Bravard (Florida State/San Antonio Silver Stars), Becca Tobin (Arizona State/Romania) and Kali Bennett (Arizona State).

Monday, June 25, 2012

Stanford commit transfers to Mater Dei

Karlie and Katie Lou Samuelson have transferred from Edison to Mater Dei High School. Karlie has committed to Stanford, where big sister Bonnie plays.

WNBA:

Eastern and Western Conference players of the week are Tamika Catchings and Candace Parker, respectively.

Olympic fever

Ha-what? Saudi Arabia is allowing women to compete in the Olympics.

Canada women's basketball is ready to go.

Autralia's Kristi Harrower puts aside injuries for the Olympics.

High school recruiting:

Top recruit Rebecca Greenwell visited Notre Dame.

Title IX:

Ann Meyers Drysdale speaks about Title IX.

WNBA:

It's because of their guards that the Connecticut Sun is on top.

Last night's WNBA action

My story: Silver Stars 91, Sparks 71.

Dream 74, Liberty 64.

Storm 72, Mystics 55. It's Seattle's fourth consecutive win.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Injuries not serious category

Tonight's games:

When Seimone Augustus was having a rough game, Lindsay Whalen stepped up for 25 points and eight assists to help propel the Lynx to a 79-67 victory over the Sky.

The Shock lost another close one, as Indiana pulled out a 73-70 win.

As Candace Parker sat out to rest for tomorrow's game, and Nnemkadi Ogwumike missed several minutes with a rolled ankle, Sparks guard Kristi Toliver went ham. With a career-high 29 points, she lead her team over the Mercury, 93-84.

During the Fever-Shock game, Tulsa guard Karima Christmas sustained a knee injury and had to be carried off court. The injury is not serious, according to a Shock spokesman.

A while later as the Sparks and Mercury were playing, LA forward Nnemkadi Ogwumike rolled her ankle and sat out for several minutes. She went back into the game late in the fourth quarter, however.

Whew! I don't want to hear about anymore injuries this season.

NCAA:

Baylor center Brittney Griner won the Honda Cup.

Happy birthday, Title IX

I spent much of the day at The League - a Los Angeles adult women's basketball league - watching some of my kids, and other players I know, play ball. A fitting way to spend my time on Title IX's 40th anniversary.

Happy anniversary to all female athletes. I hope you're as grateful as I am.

NCAA Title IX features.

WNBA Title IX features.

The state of women's athletics, 40 years later.

Helen has broken it all down in a timeline.

Women's basketball library.

Sheryl Swoopes discusses Title IX.

President Barack Obama called the legislation, "a springboard for success."

Friday, June 22, 2012

Los Angeles' "The League" starts tomorow

Sherrise Smith's "The League" opens its season tomorrow. The full schedule will be posted next week, but here is tomorrow's lineup:

6/23 (Games at Marlborough School)
1:00 5v7
2:00 10v11
3:00 1v2
4:00 3v6
5:00 9v12
6:00 4v8

1. Pink – (BBG)
2. Black – (beast mode)
3. Yellow – (AVC)
4. White – (cal state LA)
5. Orange – (SF state)
6. Red – (encore)
7. Baby blue – (UCSD)
8. Teal – (smith)
9. Forrest green – (black mamba)
10. Blue - (GSAC)
11. Lime Green – (team right now)
12. Purple – (Mustang Alumni)

The Say No Classic will begin July 6. The website isn't up yet.

Australian, Brittish teams announced for Olympics

Autralia's Olympic team:

Lauren Jackson
Kristi Harrower
Belinda Snell
Jennifer Screen
Samantha Richards
Rachel Jarry
Kathleen Macleod
Elizabeth Cambage
Jenna O’Hea
Abby Bishop
Suzy Batkovic
Laura Hodges (nee Summerton)

Great Britain:

Dominique Allen
Rose Anderson
Kim Butler
Stef Collins
Temi Fagbenle
Chantelle Handy
Jo Leedham
Julie Page
Natalie Stafford
Azania Stewart
Rachael Vanderwal
Jenaya Wade-Fray

Fever guard Erin Phillips wasn't chosen for Australia.

Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird are already talking trash.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Every aspect of hoops news

Tonight's WNBA action was a tale of two blowouts:

Indiana over the Sun, 95-61, in what Fever Coach Lin Dunn called her team's best game yet.

Lynx thrashed the Liberty, 102-70.

Other WNBA:

Something we've all noticed - the injuries keep piling up this season.

Lynx guard Seimone Augustus will be the grand marshal at the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Parade in the twin cities. The entire story.

Hollinger power rankings.

Dishin & Swishin features Katie Smith and Mike Thibault.

Title IX:

Thankful for Title IX, all sports heroes.

Birch Bayh's legislation is still alive and well 40 years later.

WNBA President Laurel Richie talks about Title IX.

State Department and ESPN partner:

The U.S. State Department and ESPN have joined forces to create the Global Sports Mentoring Program:

The program is part of the State Department's larger Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports initiative, which is pushing to get more women and girls involved in sports to "experience the benefits of participation: improved health, greater self-esteem, and greater academic success."

More honors for Pat Summitt

Living legend Pat Summitt will serve on the U.S. Department of State's Council to Empower Women and Girls Through Sports, along with former Lady Vol Tamika Catchings.

The NCAA has created a Pat Summitt-John Wooden room at its Indianapolis headquarters.

That's what I'm talmbout.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sparks 95, Shock 79

Candace Parker lead the Sparks to a 95-79 victory over the Shock tonight with 33 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and a career-high nine blocks.

It was a better showing for the host team than their May 29 match up, which the Sparks won on a last-second bucket by Kristi Toliver. Tonight the Shock got out to a quick 6-0 start, and kept the game close throughout the first quarter. The Sparks lead only 28-23 at the end. In the second quarter, they opened up a larger lead and were ahead by 10 at halftime.

Game story.

Box score.

Game notes:

• The Sparks outshot the Shock 54.8 % to 37.2%.
• Parker set a career-high in blocks with 9. She was just one away from the franchise record of 10 blocks, which Lisa Leslie set on Sep. 9, 2004 against the Detroit Shock.
• The Shock only committed 11 turnovers, but the Sparks were able to translate those turnovers into 20 points.
• Temeka Johnson scored 11 points in the first quarter, but went scoreless for the remainder of the game.
• Parker scored 33 points on 14 of 21 field goals.
• Toliver scored half of the Sparks’ third quarter points (9 of 18). She also made all 14 of her free throw attempts.

Post-game quotes:

Sparks Coach Carol Ross

“I thought tonight our experience and being at home really helped us. Clearly we weren’t at our best. Tulsa brings it, they fight, they play hard, but we just had more fire power on the offensive end. We were able to take care of the ball better than the first time we played them.”

"One thing we tell them is you've gotta have each other's backs. You're not always going to have your best game."

"Sometimes you can effect a game in the smallest of ways, and I thought enough people did that tonight to keep Tulsa at arm's length."

“Candace has a great gift. She is the leading shot blocker in the league. Tonight was a good example of why she is able to affect a lot of shots. She’s quick, she’s good, and has pure instincts when it comes to shot blocking. Her timing is phenomenal.”

Candace Parker

“We know our roles and we know that every game, we are going to have to have some sort of production from somewhere. I think that if you take someone away, someone else is going to step up. Nneka did a great job last game stepping up and playing well and Alana had a great game in San Antonio. It’s about making the right plays in the game and going with the flow.”

“I think that we were able to match their aggressiveness. Early on when we first played them, they basically punched us. This game, I think we battled and held our own. We know going into half time that they had a lot of offensive rebounds, and in the second half we limited that.”

Shock Coach Gary Kloppenburg

“We were a little soft defensively in the first half. In the second half, we at least fought them a little more, pressured them. But we have a really good team. They are just as talented as Minnesota. This team, as they develop and keep getting better, they have a chance.”

"We're gonna keep fighting. I think we can catch one of these teams and we've got a nice home stand coming up so we're going to try to get ready. It's a good group, a resilient group. They've been able to keep their heads up and work hard in practice. If you persevere and stay positive good things will happen."

“We’re getting better, and now we’re just dealing with some injuries. We only had Courtney for one practice, and I thought she did a good job. She’s someone we can utilize for sure.”

This a good chance for Courtney to get in the best shape she’s been in, so she can get stability in her career. I think it can work for her here. She wants to put in the extra work, and it’s a great opportunity for her here.”

"We're going to try and rehab Jen (Lacy). Scholanda's (Dorrell) been dealing with her knee all season. (Lacy) is kind of in a state of flux right now. She's been playing really well."

Glory Johnson

“We have a couple players hurt, and a couple new players, so it’s hard. We’re trying to figure out each other and make up for players that aren’t there. The two new players don’t know our defense, so it’s difficult and we need more practice getting them used to it.”

“We need to talk to each other more on the court, and rotation has to be there. It was hard because people didn’t know where to go, and didn’t get there fast enough. We need to trust each other and we have a lot to work on.”

Tonight's other game:

Mercury 80, Mystics 77

Pondering Team USA

Though these stats come from a Tennessee board, where posters have various theories about Olympic Coach Geno Auriemma's player choices, the numbers are interesting, and worth contemplating:

Here are early season WNBA stats for the players who will represent Team USA in London:

Seimone Augustus: 17 points, 4 rebounds, 49% FG
Tamika Catchings: 19.5 points, 7 rebounds, 46% FG
Tina Charles: 20.8 points, 12.1 rebounds, 51% FG
Candace Parker:18.6 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2.6 blocks
Angel McCoughtry-23 points, 5 rebounds ,3 assists, 4 steals, 43% FG
Sylvia Fowles-19 points, 13.7 rebounds, 66% FG
Maya Moore-14 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 46% FG
Diana Taurasi-injured
Lindsay Whalen-11 points, 5 assists, 51% FG, 2:1 A/TO
Swin Cash: 9.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 34% FG
Asjha Jones: 12.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, 43.5% FG
Sue Bird: 12.6 points, 5.5 assists, 39.7% FG, 1.7 A/TO

Top Players Not on Team USA:

Nneka Ogwumike: 16 points, 7 rebounds, 60% FG
Epiphanny Prince: 22 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 51% FG
Crystal Langhorne: 16 points, 7 rebounds, 57% FG
Katie Douglas: 16 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 43% FG
Rebecca Brunson: 12 points, 8 rebounds, 57% FG
Cappie Pondexter: 19 points, 4 rebounds ,3 assists
Kara Lawson: 14.1 points, 3.7 assists, 56% FG, 50% 3pt, 2.5:1 A/TO

As I understand it, the Olympic team is named in mid-spring so athletes have a chance to play and practice together before going to the Games; witness the two May exhibitions in Seattle. But it's unfortunate that the WNBA schedule is right in the middle of this process, as it prevents USA Basketball from making the best possible selections, unlike the men's team.

If you could replace any player(s) on the Olympic team, who would they be and why? And whom would be her replacement?

Other Olympics:

Geno Auriemma says the lawsuit against him shouldn't be a distraction at the Games.

NCAA:

Kristen O'Neill has been promoted to associate head coach at Seattle University, with Joan Bonvicini. Shaquala "Shaq" Williams has been hired as an assistant coach.

NCAA releases APR reports: women's basketball has no infractions

The NCAA has released the annual Academic Progress Reports, and 35 schools will face penalties for the coming season - none of them for women's basketball. In fact, there is only one women's team facing punishment: Floria A&M women's volleyball. The remaining teams are men's, and several are basketball.

Perhaps most notably, the UConn men are banned from next season's NCAA Tournament.

You gotta LOVE the way female athletes take care of business in the classroom.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Injuries raining down

Tonight's games:

Kara Lawson lead the Sun over the Fever in overtime, 88-85. She had 22 points, including the game winner with 5.5 seconds on the clock.

New York defeated Atlanta 73-60, and the Dream also lost guard Lindsey Harding, who sustained an ankle injury. Forward Angel McCoughtry is already out with a strained MCL.

More injuries:

Tulsa Shock forward Jennifer Lacy and guard Scholanda Dorrell are out 4-6 weeks after both sustained meniscus tears in Sunday's Phoenix win.

Other WNBA news:

The Fever are writing the next chapter for women's hoops.

Rebuilding efforts are clearly paying off for the Sun.

With their winning streak over, what's next for the Lynx?

Olympics:

Remember that 1996 Dream Team? We all do.

Lisa Leslie is #5 on ESPNW's top 40 female athletes list.

Sparks 101, Mystics 70

Check out my game story.

Photo gallery.

Game notes:

- Nnemkadi Ogwumike was again the team's high scorer, and got the post-game on-court interview. Then, the rookie got the star treatment. As she headed toward the tunnel to the locker room, fans frantically tried to get her autograph. They were screaming "Nneka! Nneka!"

She's been in the league for just over a month. Wow.

- Shannon Bobbitt, whom the Mystics signed last week, continued to prepare for a return to the league after getting cut by her former team, Indiana, in training camp.

"I'm a great player and I belong in this league," she said. "The day I got cut I worked out the next day and never stopped until I got this call from the Mystics."

Game highlight video.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Shake up in power rankings

The underdogs are shakin' the shack this week in the WNBA power rankings:

1. Minnesota
2. Chicago
3. Indiana
4. Connecticut
5. Los Angeles
6. San Antonio
7. Seattle
8. Atlanta
9. Washington
10. New York
11. Tulsa
12. Phoenix

Western and Eastern Conference Players of the Week are Candace Parker and Tina Charles, respectively.

Tonight the Mystics are in town to face the Sparks. Follow me on twitter.com/hoopism for live scores and updates.

Tulsa Shock makes some changes

The Shock re-signed guard Amber Holt, after waiving Jene Morris yesterday. They also signed forward/center Courtney Paris, after releasing Lynetta Kizer.

Shock notebook.

NCAA:

Arizona assistant Sue Darling is Northern Arizona's new coach.

High school/recruiting:

Class of 2013 #8-ranked Jannah Tucker has committed to Tennessee, saying she's ready to play for Holly Warlick. The signing may get the Lady Vols back on track.

Title IX:

ESPN3 will launch an ESPNW channel this Saturday, the 40th anniversary of the Title IX legislation.

Epiphanny Prince will miss up to eight weeks with fractured foot

From Sky HQ:

SKY guard epiphanny prince to miss six to eight weeks with foot injury

CHICAGO, June 18, 2012 – Chicago Sky guard Epiphanny Prince will be sidelined approximately six to eight weeks due to a Jones fracture in her right foot, the team announced today.

The injury occurred during the first quarter of the Sky's game against the Indiana Fever in Indianapolis, Indiana on June 16. Prince came out of the game with 1:45 remaining in the period and did not return.

“We look forward to Piph making a full recovery,” Sky Head Coach and General Manager Pokey Chatman said. “She has had such a great start to the season; the injury is obviously very disappointing for her and for us. In the meantime, we have a resilient veteran team that will keep us moving forward until we’re back at full strength.”

Prince, who led the WNBA in scoring prior to the matchup with Indiana and won two consecutive Player of the Week awards based on her stellar play, averaged 22.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists through nine games for the Sky this season. The fourth overall pick in the 2010 WNBA Draft, Prince was named to her first All-Star game last season.

Chicago (7-2) travels to Minnesota on Saturday to take on the Lynx (10-1). The nationally-televised game on ESPN is scheduled for an 11:30 a.m. CT tip-off.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Crazy day in the W

The Shock captured their first win, taking out the Mercury 87-75. Temeka Johnson and Riquna Williams lead Tulsa with 22 and 19 points, respectively. DeWanna Bonner had 24 for Phoenix, and Charde Houston added 22.

The Storm handed Minnesota their first loss of the season, with a 65-62 upset at Key Arena in Seattle.

Without star forward Angel McCoughtry, who sat out with a strained MCL, the Dream were upended by the Sun. Connecticut's 75-73 win came in the final seconds.

WNBA refs still need more training

In the early days of the WNBA, the officiating was stunningly horrible. It was to the point where it ruined many a game.

I remember one 2002 contest in particular, where the Houston Comets came to Key Arena, and the three officials basically gave Houston the game. The 10,000 or so fans on hand booed the refs as they put on their jackets, collected their stuff, and all the way off the floor. Some leaned over the railing to shout obscenities at them as they walked into the tunnel, and police and security were holding some people back. The anger was that intense.

Games like those, when the refs decide the outcome, leave not only a sour taste in the mouth, but a sick feeling in the pit of the stomach.

Fans from every team in the league wrote letters to the WNBA calling for new officials, better training or both of the above. Change was achingly slow.

But things have been much better the last few years. Teams are, for the most part, allowed to just play ball, and their actions are the sole determinants of the game.

Lately, however, there seems to be a bit of a backslide. The most notable example was in last night's Sparks at Silver Stars game, where 27 fouls were called on LA, and 12 on San Antonio. Even more concerning than those numbers is the inconsistency in which they were called:

After calling only 15 fouls through three quarters despite a physical contest, the officials whistled 16 fouls in the final period — visibly frustrating the Sparks, who were assessed 15 more fouls than the Silver Stars. The Sparks had three players foul out — Toliver near the midpoint of the fourth quarter and Beard and Parker in the final minute of overtime. Toliver's final foul drew protests from the Los Angeles bench, which claimed she had only five.

Note to the WNBA: Make sure the officiating doesn't slide backwards in time. You've made a lot of progress in this area, so don't ruin it. Keep getting better - not worse.

One third of the way through the WNBA season: a team-by-team analysis

Standings as of right now:

Western Conference

Minnesota, 10-0
Los Angeles, 7-3
San Antonio, 4-4
Phoenix, 2-6
Seattle, 2-7
Tulsa, 0-9

Eastern Conference

Connecticut, 7-2
Chicago, 7-2
Indiana, 5-3
Atlanta, 4-5
New York, 3-7
Washington, 2-5

Minnesota

The Lynx have opened the season with a 10-game winning streak - only two contests of which have been close games. They are deep, with a bench that can make up for a sitting starter (as they did with Seimone Augustus June 6), and they have tremendous chemistry. Their hunger to win is palpable. If they stay healthy, they may be unstoppable in their quest to repeat at champs.

Connecticut

Tina Charles has propelled the Sun to the top of the East, with a 20.6 points-per-game average, with the help of Renee Montgomery and a newly-sleek Kara Lawson. If Connecticut can prevent momentary lapses of focus, as they had last week against LA, they could be in the Eastern Conference championship finals.

Los Angeles

The Sparks just dropped two out of three games on a four-day East Coast road trip, where they played without injured Ebony Hoffman and last night without rookie starter Nnemkadi Ogwumike. They have amazing chemistry on- and off-court, due in large part to dynamic new coach Carol Ross. If Los Angeles can get healthy - and perhaps get another guard besides Coco Miller - they will get back to the form they were in two weeks ago.

Chicago

After a fair start under second-year Coach Pokey Chatman, the Sky went on a six-game winning streak that ended only last night. Of even greater concern now is that star guard Epiphanny Prince was injured in the game. The depth of Prince's injury, which hasn't yet been determined, may point the way for how the Sky will go.

San Antonio

The Silver Stars have struggled with consistency so far this season, but had a big win last night over Los Angeles. Clearly they can get motivated to win, but can they keep that spirit?

Indiana

Their strong start was suddenly broken by three consecutive losses, which was puzzling as there didn't seem to be a reason for it. The Fever stopped the bleeding last night with a win. Whether they can get back on track now and make their planned bid for repeating as Eastern Conference champs remains to be seen.

Phoenix

The reason for the Mercury's woes is no mystery: they're playing without their injured stars Penny Taylor, who is out for the season, and Diana Taurasi, who is out indefinitely. Coach Corey Gaines didn't seem impressed with his team's Herculean efforts at a recent game, saying they were like a car with two wheels. Fortunately, the players don't seem to feel the same way, as they're all playing their hearts out - especially DeWanna Bonner.

Atlanta

The Dream's mediocre start has surprised fans, because they return mostly the same team that vied for the conference championship last year. But as they showed Friday in blowing out the Sparks, they're a powerful team. Can they demonstrate that again in today's game? Angel McCoughtry was disciplined before Friday's game, but came off the bench for 31 points. Is she better off the bench?

Seattle

Last winter Coach Brian Agler looked brilliant as he tweeted about skating through Europe looking for athletes. He brought back Ann Wauters, but he traded Swin Cash and Ashley Robinson - two players who were crucial in the Storm's team chemistry over the last several years. Add to that the absence of center Lauren Jackson, who is staying in Australia for the first half of the season to prepare for the Olympics, and it's easy to see why point guard Sue Bird is curt in post-game interviews: they aren't having fun. And their record won't improve until they learn to have some.

New York

This team is mysterious. Management decisions defy explanation. They provided little to no information about training camp. Outsiders barely know who's on the team. But one thing is sure: they keep losing this year, and once full seats are empty. Not sure what the problem is with this team and the franchise, but fans hope they can get back to their winning ways sooner rather than later.

Tulsa

First-year Coach Gary Kloppenburg has got the Shock playing some of the best defense in the league. The offense, however, is still coming together, which is one of the reasons Tulsa has yet to find a win. Unlike last year's squad, however, players are unrelenting in their efforts, and are staying positive. When they do their first first win, it may burst the dam and lead to further victories.

Washington

Again this year, the Mystics got off to a rocky start with several losses, despite having a training camp full of great athletes. Last week Coach Trudi Lacey cut Dominique Canty and signed Shannon Bobbitt, who hustled and willed the team to a win Friday night. Whether Bobbitt and the Mystics can keep that energy going remains to be seen - first tomorrow night in Los Angeles, where they'll play the Sparks.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Streaks snapped, records broken in games today

In the Fever's 84-70 win over the Sky, they snapped a three-game losing streak and broke the six-game winning streak of their opponents.

Tamika Catchings also surpassed Lisa Leslie as the all-time career free throws leader in making her 1,478th shot.

The Silver Stars dominated overtime to beat the Sparks, 98-85.

Coach post-game quotes:

Silver Stars Head Coach Dan Hughes

(On needing to have a weak practice coming off the Seattle game…)

“I thought by and large we did that, it’s just that L.A. is a confident team. They’re going to make runs at you and they did. I thought they shot the ball extremely well and Candace (Parker) is such a difficult guard for us and we were fortunate they’re coming off three games in four days.”

(On being pleased about the tempo of the game and a strong overtime effort…)

“We tried to keep the tempo up. I was pleased to see us deal with the fact that good teams are going to come back like L.A. did and then we had to sub in the overtime because we were starting to get tired with that group and then the new group jelled in the overtime and gave us good play. That’s what good teams do in those situations. Good teams like L.A. are going to make runs at you and us becoming a good team means we answer those runs.”

(On a wide variety of players stepping up …)

“Our bench is huge. You’re looking at 36 points off of them, we had 41 last time, and that’s just a real signature for us and part of our DNA. ”

(On leadership of Sophia Young…)

“The leadership of Sophia Young was amazing. Sophia Young played with an intensity that was infectious for us. I’ve benefited from watching a lot of Sophia’s games but that one really showed not only her offensive end but her defensive end, she was incredibly active and really led us in this situation.”

Los Angeles Sparks Coach Carol Ross

(Thoughts on the game...)

“I was incredibly proud of our team. I thought we had to overcome a lot of obstacles and adversity playing without Nneka (Ogwumike). We have two players at home with injuries, were short handed on a back-to-back, and I thought there was a lot of adversity over the course of the game, which we couldn’t overcome.”

(On the players being fatigued in overtime after playing the night before...)

“I think that and a couple of other factors probably took a little wind out of our sails.”

(On defending Sophia Young...)

“I thought we guarded her as hard as we could. She made some incredible shots. She is a great player and she’s a handful. Obviously her offense was a little better than our defense, but that’s all on her. She played great.”

__________

The Sparks were missing rookie starter Nnemkadi Ogwumike, who flew to Stanford University for her graduation tomorrow.

After having played three games in four days, the Sparks head back to Los Angeles to have a day off tomorrow, followed by Monday and Wednesday home games.

Tomorrow Connecticut will be at Atlanta, Phoenix will play at Tulsa, and Minnesota will take on Seattle. Can the Lynx make it 11 consecutive wins? Lynx historic start photo gallery.

NCAA drops regulations on texting, calling recruits in men's basketball

Phenomenal change. Will women's hoops follow suit?:

Starting Friday, Division I men's basketball coaches will be able to send unlimited texts and make unlimited calls to recruits who have wrapped up their sophomore year of high school. The NCAA also will also allow coaches to send private messages to prospective players through social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

...In essence, coaches finally can get with the times without getting into trouble.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Tales of five games

Lynx make history:

Minnesota got their tenth consecutive road win and 13th regular-season victory by beating Phoenix, 78-60. It's a franchise best.

Blowouts:

The Sun annihilated the Liberty, 97-55.

The Dream dominated the Sparks from buzzer to buzzer. Final score: 92-59.

Close one:

The Mystics finally closed out a game by squeaking out a win over the Fever, 67-66. Newly-signed Shannon Bobbitt provided a spark off the bench, including making a crucial layup in the last minute of play.

Still winless:

The Storm upended the Shock, 86-73.

Sparks-Dream game quotes:

Atlanta Dream Head Coach Marynell Meadors

On putting together two dominant halfs tonight…

“Well I really think that was one of our goals, to play four quarters tonight. We’ve had a good first quarter, a good second quarter, a good third quarter and a good fourth but we haven’t put everything together. We’ve had two good quarters at times then other times we haven’t scored in the fourth quarter. We didn’t score a whole lot of points tonight in the fourth but we had a tremendous lead so I was really proud of everybody who made some really good contributions.”

Dream Forward Angel McCoughtry

On the team’s performance…

“This was a great one. LA is a great team. They only have one loss to Minnesota, and they beat some great teams. This is a good one for us, we really played well tonight.”

On the teams cohesiveness tonight…

“We played really well tonight. I don’t want to keep saying I’m surprised but I’m very pleased. I’m very proud of tonight.”

On her three-point shooting tonight (4 for 5 from three-point range)…

“That isn’t my game but I’ll tell you my little secret. Last night I shot a thousand shots, so I was ready

Los Angeles Sparks Head Coach Carol Ross

On what led to the low shooting percentage…

“I thought Atlanta’s defense lead to our low shooting performance tonight. Atlanta was tremendous on both ends of the court. They came out with a lot of focus and intensity, whereas we did not. That what happens where you’re not ready to roll.”

On the game plan for the second half…

“I was hoping coming out in the second half we would play hard, but we didn’t. Clearly I didn’t have this team ready to play. I think we lost this before we played it.”

Sparks Forward Candace Parker

Thoughts on the game…

“We got off to an absolutely slow start. It’s almost like we got punched in the face. We didn’t know what to do. Atlanta came out with a lot of aggression and energy whereas we didn’t. So then how to you counter that?"

On the Sparks’ defensive performance tonight:

“Obviously the score shows we didn’t do well defensively at all tonight. We gave up 92 points. So all together we didn’t do well offensively or defensively tonight. I think this is a game we definitely need to learn from but we also need to move on from this.”

On what they are going to take from this game…

“We need to come out with a lot of energy. We can’t start the way we did because it trickles down the rest of the game. We need to stay aggressive. I think our defense needs to dictate the way play offensively and not vice-versa.”

On a five-game day.......

Five games tonight, including:

Liberty at Sun

Fever at Mystics

Sparks at Dream

Storm at Shock

Lynx at Mercury

The Lynx are aiming for a perfect 10.

Other WNBA items:

WNBA President Laurel Richie talks about LiveAccess and future broadcast plans.

Dishin & Swishin podcast features April Phillips, Special Jennings and the Sparks.

DeWanna Bonner's continued maturity is helping the struggling Mercury.

Father's Day:

Basketball dads of the Tulsa Shock.

Candace Parker's husband Shelden Williams is an all-star dad.

The WNBA has partnered with 100 Black Men of America to honor father-daughter bonds.

NCAA:

Jackson State's new coach is Surina Dixon.

Jackie Moore is ASU's new assistant coach.

New UCI Coach Doug Oliver has announced his coaching staff: Annie Mai, Lauren Bowie and Michelle Augustavo.

Whitney Bays will transfer from Maryland to Purdue.

Boston University will join the Patriot League in 2013-2014.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

MVP power rankings: Candace Parker back on top

Candace Parker heads up this week's MVP power rankings after two amazing performances this week, including last night's 33 points, 16 rebounds, eight assists, five blocks and three steals.

Last night's efficiency leaders were Parker and her right-hand woman, rookie Nnemkadi Ogwumike. If those two continue to work in tandem as they have the last two games, the Sparks will be a very good team, indeed.

A bit of college news:

Felisha Legette-Jack is the new coach at Buffalo.

SIUE has named Paula Buscher as coach.

Destini Price has decommitted from Fresno State and will follow Coach Adrian Wiggins to Ole Miss.

Happy 60th birthday, Coach Pat Summitt



Happy 60th birthday, Coach. Love you.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Geno-gate

Former UConn players might be asked to testify if the sexual harassment lawsuit against Coach Geno Auriemma goes to trial.

More questions than answers in this case.

Ten questions about the lawsuit.

Connecticut Sun players, Olympic athletes get along with the plaintiff.

USA Basketball should get to the bottom of the matter.

Sparks grab big road win over the Sun, 87-81

The game featured 12 lead changes and 12 ties, but in the end, Candace Parker was the most impressive feature with 33 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists.

The Sparks are in second place in the Western Conference.

The game was full of stellar performances.

Tina Charles received the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award before the game.

Game notes:

· Tina Charles set a new franchise record with her 51st career double-double tonight. She also extended her franchise record double-figure scoring streak to 20 games.
· Charles set a new career high for field goal attempts (26). Her previous high was 24 at Phoenix (8/7/11) in overtime. The 26 attempts fell three short of the franchise record for field goals attempted (Renee Montgomery had 29 on 8/3/10 at Minnesota in overtime).
· Renee Montgomery scored in double figures off the bench for the seventh time in eight games.
· Tan White had 11 points, including three made threes. The 11 points were the most for White since she scored 14 against Phoenix on August 26, 2011. Her three made threes were the most since she went 5 for 5 at Indiana on July 13, 2011.
· Los Angeles is now 5-7 against Connecticut as the visitor. This was the first time Los Angeles has won at Connecticut since July 24, 2010 (89-80).
· With the Sun leading 81-80 with 1:27 left in the fourth quarter, Nnemkadi Ogwumike scored five straight points down the stretch to seal the Los Angeles victory.
· Connecticut went a combined 1-for-15 from the floor in the last 6:10 of the game, including a stretch where the Sun missed eight straight before Tina Charles hit a go-ahead layup with 1:27 left in the fourth.
· Candace Parker’s all-around game led the Sparks as she compiled 33 points, 16 rebounds, eight assists, five blocks, and three steals. The points were a season high while the rebounds, assists and made threes all tied career highs.
· With 8:44 remaining in the third quarter, Parker grabbed a rebound that gave her five straight games with a double-double.
· Ogwumike hit all seven of her field goal attempts including a perfect four-for-four from the free-throw line to give her 18 points. She fell one made field goal short of the franchise record for made field goals without a miss by an opponent (Jessica Davenport and Kara Lawson both went 8-8 against the Sun).
· The Sparks frontline combination of Parker, Ogwumike, and Jantel Lavender finished 24-for-37 from the floor (64.9%).
· For the third time this season, the Sun finished with five players in double figures.
· The Sun held the Spark’s leading scorer, Kristi Toliver, to a season-low five points on 2-for-10 shooting.

In tonight's other game, the Sky handily beat the Storm, 74-58, for their sixth consecutive win.

Bonus:

The Mystics have cut Dominique Canty and signed Shannon Bobbitt.

ESPN shutting down high school section

ESPN is closing its high school business unit, which includes espnhs.com, ESPN Rise Magazine (one of my favorites), another magazine, and its event management service. But:

espnW.com will pick up content about girls' basketball while ESPNRecruitingNation.com will cover high school recruiting.

So what does this mean? Does high school coverage not make enough money for ESPN?

Other high school news:

Preparing mentally is the key to success in the July recruiting period.

Class of 2013 #1 recruit Mercedes Russell improved a lot between her sophomore and junior years. It's why she's the Register-Guard's prep athlete of the year.

There are some great things about growing up in small towns, like decent newspaper coverage and well-deserved recognition.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

WNBA off days = no bueno

Efficiency leaders, as of today:

1. Sylvia Fowles
2. Tina Charles
3. Tamika Catchings
4. Epiphanny Prince
5. Candace Parker
6. Nnemkadi Ogwumike
7. Kristi Toliver
8. DeWanna Bonner
9. Rebekkah Brunson
10. Angel McCoughtry

Rookie statistical leaders, headed up by guess who.

WNBA President Laurel Richie's passions converge for her trip to D.C. this weekend.

Shimmy and Cheryl agree with me about Tulsa, and other topics in their podcast.

Nice interview with Alana Beard by the Seattle Times....because the LA Times doesn't do jack for women's sports.

More on Geno Auriemma lawsuit:

The sexual harassment suit against Geno Auriemma will test the foundation of Team USA.

NCAA:

Nebraska Coach Connie Yori's contract has been extended through 2017.

Holly Warlick:

Video interview with Tennessee's new head coach.

She is leading camp this week.

Title IX:

Seattle Storm co-owner Ginny Gilder answers nine questions about Title IX.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Ogwumike, Prince are POWs

WNBA players and rankings:

Hey, look at the super rookie.....the Sparks' Nnemkadi Ogwumike and the Sky's Epiphanny Prince are Western and Eastern Conference players of the week, respectively.

This week's power rankings show some changes, as the top five are now Minnesota, Chicago, Connecticut, Los Angeles and Indiana.

Chasity Melvin is the first WNBA player to participate in Sportscaster U.

NCAA:

The Big East has filed a $5 million lawsuit against Big 12-bound TCU.

Club and high school ball:

Why wasn't this done before?? AAU will check backgrounds of all coaches and volunteers.

Big brawl yesterday at a Brooklyn high school hoops league.

Robin Roberts:

....is now battling a rare blood disorder.

She vows to fight.

Stefanie Gilbreath to use her final year of eligibility at New Mexico State, with Mark Trakh

Stefanie Gilbreath, the Texas native embattled by ACL tears while at USC, will use up her final year of eligibility next year at New Mexico State. There, she will play for Coach Mark Trakh, who recruited her to USC. Trakh resigned in 2009.

Despite being listed as a junior on the roster, Gilbreath was honored as a senior this past February, both on programs and in the "senior day" presentation. I tweeted her a short time ago asking why this was so, but she declined to answer the question.

ESPN offers extensive lineup of women in sports on Title IX anniversary

Check out this fat, fat lineup for June 23:

Time (ET) Show Network

8 a.m. 2012 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship Semifinal: Connecticut vs. Notre Dame (reair) ESPNU

Her Story: Ten Times Over ESPN Classic

8:30 a.m. SportsCentury: Nancy Lopez ESPN Classic

9 a.m. SportsCentury: Babe Didrikson Zaharias ESPN Classic

9:30 a.m. Basketball: Tennessee vs. Texas (2002-03) LHN

10 a.m. 2012 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship Semifinal: Stanford vs. Baylor (reair) ESPNU
Schaap One on One: Jackie Joyner-Kersee ESPN Classic
AAU Girls’ National Volleyball Championship ESPN3

10:30 a.m. SportsCentury: Florence Griffith-Joyner ESPN Classic

11 a.m. SportsCentury: Zina Garrison ESPN Classic

11:30 a.m. SportsCentury: Steffi Graf ESPN Classic

Basketball: Purdue vs. Texas (2006-07) LHN

Noon Sporting Chance presented by Northwestern Mutual ESPN2

12:30 p.m. WNBA Game: Chicago Sky at Minnesota Lynx ESPN / ESPN3

SportsCentury: Mia Hamm ESPN Classic

1 p.m. E:60 Women’s Special ESPN2

Sporting Chance presented by Northwestern Mutual ESPNU

National Pro Fastpitch: Florida at Carolina (Charlotte) ESPN3

Basketball: Oklahoma vs. Texas (2006-07) LHN

1:30 p.m. Heart of the Game ESPN Classic

AAU Girls’ National Volleyball Championship ESPN3

2 p.m. SEC Storied: Lolo Jones ESPNU

3 p.m. NASCAR Countdown ESPN

Honda Sports Award (ESPN’s Los Angeles Production Center) ESPNU / ESPN3

Softball: Oklahoma vs. Texas (2003) LHN

3:30 p.m. NASCAR Nationwide: Road America 200 (Elkhart Lake, Wis.) ESPN

SportsCentury: Chris Evert ESPN Classic

AAU Girls’ National Volleyball Championship ESPN3

4 p.m. SEC Storied: Lolo Jones ABC

NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship: UCLA vs. Illinois (reair) ESPNU

National Pro Fastpitch: Florida at Carolina (Charlotte) ESPN3

30 for 30: Unmatched ESPN Classic

5 p.m. Sports Saturday: Week in Review ABC

USA Soccer: Leveling The Field ESPN2

SportsCentury: Martina Navratilova ESPN Classic

Softball: Texas vs. Texas A&M (2006) LHN

5:30 p.m. 2012 Women’s College World Series Finals: Clinching Game (reair) ESPNU

5:45 p.m. AAU Girls’ National Volleyball Championship ESPN3

6 p.m. Schaap One on One: Billie Jean King ESPN Classic

6:30 p.m. USA Soccer: Leveling The Field ESPN Classic

7 p.m. USA National Softball vs. Canada (Oklahoma City) ESPN / ESPN3

SEC Storied: Lolo Jones ESPNU

E:60 Women’s Special ESPN Classic

Basketball: Georgia vs. Texas (2003-04) LHN

8 p.m. Sporting Chance presented by Northwestern Mutual ESPNU

On the Basis of Sex: The Battle of Title IX ESPN Classic

AAU Girls’ National Volleyball Championship ESPN3

8:30 p.m. Softball: Texas vs. Oklahoma (2006) LHN

9 p.m. WNBA Game: Los Angeles Sparks at Phoenix Mercury ESPN / ESPN3

2012 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship Game: Notre Dame vs. Baylor (reair) ESPNU

Battle of the Sexes: 1973 Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs Match ESPN Classic

10:30 p.m. Sporting Chance presented by Northwestern Mutual ESPN Classic

Basketball: Tennessee vs. Texas (2002-03) LHN

11 p.m. SEC Storied: Lolo Jones ESPNU

11:30 p.m. Her Story: Ten Times Over ESPN Classic

Midnight On the Basis of Sex: The Battle of Title IX ESPN Classic

2012 Women’s College World Series Finals: Game 1 (reair) ESPNU

1 a.m. Sporting Chance presented by Northwestern Mutual ESPN Classic

Geno Auriemma sued for sexual harassment

An NBA security director is suing Geno Auriemma for sexual harassment:

A security director for the National Basketball Association said in a lawsuit Monday that Geno Auriemma, the coach of the United States Olympic women’s basketball team, followed, grabbed and tried to forcibly kiss her at a hotel during a basketball tournament in Russia in 2009.

The security director, Kelley Hardwick, said that she pushed him away, according to the suit filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

This year, the suit claims, Mr. Auriemma retaliated for the rebuff by successfully demanding that the N.B.A. remove her as the top security official for the United States women’s team at the London Olympics. She served as a security official for the women’s team at the Olympics in Athens in 2004 and in Beijing in 2008.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

WNBA standings so far

Eastern Conference

Connecticut 6-1 W 3
Chicago 6-1 W 5
Indiana 4-2 L 2
Atlanta 3-5 L 1
New York 3-6 L 1
Washington 1-5 L 4

Western Conference

Minnesota 9-0 W 9
Los Angeles 6-1 W 4
San Antonio 3-4 W 1
Phoenix 2-5 L 1
Seattle 1-6 L 3
Tulsa 0-8 L 8

The Sky notched their fifth straight tonight by beating the Liberty. They're off to the best start in franchise history.

In pacing the Sun to victory over the Dream, Tina Charles became the fastest player in league history to reach 50 double-doubles.

Last night the Lynx tied the WNBA record for most consecutive victories to open a season.

Great news, but I'm going to make a confession: I really want the Tulsa Shock to win a few games. They play so hard, and are such a great group of athletes. I hope they can get out of their rut very soon.

Women's Basketball Hall of Fame:

At last night's ceremony, the six inductees paid tribute to the game.

NCAA:

New Tennessee assistant coach Kyra Elzy is in a position to lead the recruiting battle.

Title IX:

Several great players, past and present, discuss Title IX.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Sparks and Habitat for Humanity remodel a home

Today the Los Angeles Sparks converged on an LA-area home to help remodel it as part of Habitat for Humanity. They had a good time doing it, too, as you can see in these great pictures, by myself, the Sparks and rookie April Sykes.

In my rookie interviews piece Thursday, Nnemkadi Ogwumike said she and Sykes "were best friends" as rookies. I see what it's all about now....they've bonded together against their veteran teammates, who give them a bad time at all times.

During the group photo, Delisha Milton-Jones and Sykes were bantering a bit. DMJ finally said, with her pretty smile, "I can't stand this rookie."

Ogwumike still wears a Stanford-red headband, and Sykes wears her Rutgers backpack. As the team was loading up in vehicles to go home, an SUV-full of vets pulled up to the rookies, who were standing close together on the home's front yard. They began calling Ogwumike by her full name, and Nneka put a shirt on her head. Then both Ogwumike and Sykes began walking down the sidewalk the other way. I passed them on the way to my car and urged them not to let the vets bother them. Sykes then had the quote of the day:

"Yeah, they old! We're the future."

I don't need to hear anymore jokes for the rest of the week - I'm good.

These photos are also part of my website photo gallery.

Sparks 90, Mercury 74

Check out my game story from last night's action.



Nneka Ogwumike talks with Larry Burnett after Friday's game. She had 25 points and 12 rebounds.

WBHOF Induction weekend schedule

Lots of activities today, leading up to the induction this evening of Nancy Fahey, Nikki McCray, Pamela McGee, Inge Nissen, Robin Roberts, and Dawn Staley.

About last night:

In the midst of the Fever-Sun game, Tamika Catchings caught an elbow from teammate Tammy Sutton-Brown, which required 15 stitches. But it wasn't enough to keep last year's MVP out of the game. She dropped 31 points in Indiana's loss. Catchings is as tough as they come. If any former Lady Vol represents the Pat Summitt/Tennessee spirit, it's her.

New York held off Washington.

The Dream squeaked by the Silver Stars.

Bless the hearts of the Shock - they dropped a close one to the Sky in overtime.

I will be posting my Mercury at Sparks story soon.

Race to the MVP:

Week three sees Tina Charles in the top spot, followed by Sylvia Fowles and Candace Parker.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Women's Basketball Hall of Fame inductees, and Pat Summitt scores again

Among the inductees into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend are Nikki McCray, Inge Nissen, and Robin Roberts.

Today in Tennessee, Pat Summitt added a hole in one to her resume.

Sparks sign Coco Miller

The rumors are true: the Sparks have signed Coco Miller to take the place of the injured Sharnee' Zoll.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The regular love offerings

Last night Minnesota stayed unbeaten by crushing the Storm. And they did it while Seimone Augustus sat out......scary.

Dishin & Swishin: Delisha Milton-Jones and DeWanna Bonner get ready for round two, tomorrow night in Los Angeles, of Sparks vs. Mercury.

Where are they now? : Shannon "Pee Wee" Johnson.

Angel McCoughtry is the key to Atlanta's Dream.

She was also inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame tonight.

The Liberty have made a video entitled, "call me maybe."

Ten questions with New York center Kelley Cain.

San Antonio seems to have improved in the paint this season.

Q&A with Fever center Tammy Sutton-Brown.

Rebekkah Brunson has emerged a leader for the Lynx.

Temeka Johnson has written a new children's book.

Olympics:

Olympic basketball coach Geno Auriemma says Diana Taurasi, currently out with a strained hip flexor, should be OK to play in the Games.

NCAA:

The SEC welcomed Texas A&M and Missouri to the conference with a party.

Kevin Cook is Winthrop's new coach.

High school:

State-by-state 2012 prospects.

International:

From Gonzaga to the Lynx to cut - Kayla Standish will play in Australia's WNBL.

Title IX:

Title IX timeline.

Tamika Catchings talks about Title IX.

Jody Runge, lessons learned.

Checking in with the rookies

The 2012 WNBA draft class was underestimated. Many fans, already looking ahead to the loaded 2013 draft, were too quick to dismiss this year's rookies and their impact. The only player many gave credit to was number one-pick Nnemkadi Ogwumike.

Already, this year's rookies have proven them wrong. Each one of the top picks I spoke to for this piece - Nnemkadi Ogwumike, Shekinna Stricklen, Devereaux Peters, Glory Johnson, Shenise Johnson, Samantha Prahalis, Natalie Novosel and Riquna Williams - have already become key role players for their teams.

I am also endlessly fascinated by what happens when I ask many different people the same questions; the variance in response says so much about the athlete.

It was fun talking to each one of these young women. I'm looking forward to seeing those I haven't seen play at Staples Center yet.