Sunday, June 30, 2013

Today's game results

The Dream thumped the Silver Stars, 93-67. They're now 10-1.

The Mystics snapped a five-game losing streak with a win over the Shock, 84-61. Coach Mike Thibault is now the WNBA's most winning coach with 211 victories.

The Fever has now won two straight with today's victory over the Storm, 71-63. Tamika Catchings lead the way for Indiana with 18 points.

Injuries turning roster shortage into WNBA epidemic

From a Connecticut columnist.

At least give them 12 players. This crap is ridiculous this year.

Los Angeles Sparks: analysis

Friday night the Sparks get stomped by the Lynx. Minnesota had been inspired to perform strongly by their poor performance the week before, getting crushed by Los Angeles. With a few minutes to go, when it was obvious that LA wasn't going to make it a game, I walked away from the TV.

Yesterday the Sparks lost to the Chicago Sky. They never lead once, but they did try a oomeback in the fourth quarter, whittling the lead down to two points. The Sky then stepped on it and left Los Angeles in the dust for the 94-82 win. The Sparks are still without a win on the road this season.

This latest road trip, and the Sparks' inconsistent performance this year in general, are concerning fans - many of whom ask me "what's wrong with the Sparks?" This is, in part, because the team dealt with the issues of effort and motivation earlier this month, and seemed to have a handle on it.

I don't know what's wrong with the team chemistry, energy or motivation, or what's causing their wavering performances, as a team or individually. You have to actually be on the team to answer those psychological questions, and even when you are that doesn't mean you'll know, or know what to do about the issues.

Here's what's NOT wrong with the Sparks:

1. They have all the components they need

For a long time, fans have blamed the team's woes on the lack of a point guard. They got a great one this season in Lindsey Harding, who has proven she can run the show. Candace Parker, though she plays the power forward position best, does a fine job at center (it got her two national championships at Tennessee).

Though their bench isn't as strong, the Sparks' starting five are heavyweights. There is no excuse for playing poorly when there are at least five athletes on the team who can score in double figures every game.

2. They have a great coach in Carol Ross

The Sparks got a fine coach in Carol Ross last year. Her ability to teach and motivate earned her WNBA coach of the year last season. She knows what she's doing.

3. They have a wonderful support staff

The team is completely supported by a great staff, from the executives to the coaches to trainers and public relations staff. They lack for nothing.

4. The Sparks get along well off the court

Members of the Sparks genuinely like, respect and support each other. There aren't any rivalries or rifts.

These are some issues for the Sparks, especially on the road:

1. Their defense sometimes goes AWOL

One of the reasons I walked away from Friday's game was due to my disgust at watching the Sparks let Lynx players score easily under the basket, time and time again, like they were at the movies. It showed up in the box score, as Minnesota outrebounded their opponents, 47-28. That's just embarrassing.

Defense is all about heart. So the question is, where does the heart of the Sparks go during these defensive lapses? Do they really want to win a championship, as they say, or is it all lip service?

2. The Sparks sometimes don't take care of the ball

Got turnovers? Yes.

3. The Sparks let the defense of other teams take them out of their offensive rhythm

One of my biggest pet peeves in basketball is when a team won't drive to the rack, and settles instead for outside shots. And when they can't make those shots, it's especially aggravating.

The Sparks have been doing that a lot lately, including the last two games. A team won't win much that is afraid to take it to the hole.

4. Some players are inconsistent

Candace Parker has been scoring lately, but the rest of the roster goes up and down. The inconsistency of Kristi Toliver, in particular, is a concern because she is such a scoring threat. When she is having a bad game, she gets upset, which continues the downward spiral.

Championship teams must have consistent scorers every game. No exceptions.

5. Candace Parker

Some say CP needs to step up and score more, be more of a leader, or both of the above. I see her in practices and on the court being the boss with her teammates, and she is scoring, so I don't know if I agree with this assertion. But it's an opinion I keep running into.

Other contemplations:

1. Nneka Ogwumike is underutilized, in my opinion. Here is a player with a dynamic skill set and a natural ability for the game that doesn't come around often. Yet I don't see any plays run for her. I say: give the youngin' the ball. She'll score - and take it to the rack doing so.

2. The Sparks might be withering under pressure. The demise of the Comets meant the WNBA's first championship team was gone forever. The next title team was the Sparks, and it seems like they've been trying to replicate 2001 and 2002 ever since. "Anything less than a championship" might have worked for Pat Summitt, but I don't think it carries well in LA: the home of the spoiled and unrealistic sports fans. The Sparks would be best to focus on improving daily, if they're not already.

There's still a lot of season left. We will see if the Sparks can fix their issues and contend for the Western Conference title, which they should, based on their talent.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Mercury, Sky win today

The Mercury routed the Sun, 89-70. Coach Corey Gaines said things began looking up when he took the advice of some coaches and went back to a running style.

Penny Taylor returned to the lineup for the first time since 2011.

The Sky overcame the Sparks, 94-82. Los Angeles remains winless on the road this season.

Tomorrow's game previews:

Silver Stars at Dream

Shock at Mystics

Storm at Fever

Another MVP list, and some statistical considerations

SlamOnline's MVP candidate list differs from the league's:

1. Angel McCoughtry
2. Candace Parker
3. Sylvia Fowles
4. Maya Moore
5. Diana Taurasi
6. Cappie Pondexter
7. Elena Delle Donne
8. Ivory Latta
9. Tina Charles
10. Glory Johnson

The MVP is based on more than points, although points is a major consideration (otherwise we wouldn't have a 'defensive player of the year' award). If based solely on points, here are the season points leaders, at this moment:

1. Diana Taurasi, 24.1
2. Angel McCoughtry, 20.7
3. Elena Delle Donne, 19.4
4. Tina Charles, 18.6
5. Tamika Catchings, 18.4
6. Maya Moore, 17.9
7. Glory Johnson, 17.8
8. Cappie Pondexter, 17.7
9. Shavonte Zellous, 17.1
10. Seimone Augustus, 17.0

Friday, June 28, 2013

Tonight's game results not wholly unexpected

Tamika Catchings paced the Fever past the Shock, 80-69, with 28 points. Indiana snapped a seven-game losing streak with the victory.

Leading MVP candidate Angel McCoughtry lead the red hot Dream over the Mystics, 86-75, with 21 points. Atlanta is now 9-1.

The Lynx avenged last Friday's loss by routing the Sparks, 88-64.

The Liberty slipped by the Storm, 67-62, to secure their first road win.

Team news:

Fever....Tamika Catchings will receive the Pat Summitt Ignite Greatness award next month, from the Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame.

Lynx....Maya Moore says reading is the key to success.

Storm....Shekinna Stricklen has pledged $25 for every three-point shot she makes this season to the Pat Summitt Foundation.

Shock....rookie Skylar Diggins blogs about how she came up with her signature headband look.

Sky....rookie Elena Delle Donne is excited to see familiar faces on an up coming road trip.

Tomorrow's games:

Mercury at Sun

Sparks at Sky

USA Basketball:

The World University Games team is training in Colorado Springs and will leave soon for Russia, and then China.

They toured the Air Force Academy.

Guard Shoni Schimmel is an unselfish leader.

Theresa Plaisance's new found confidence has paid off.

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis is at home on Team USA.

Race to the MVP, week five

The WNBA's own MVP list:

1. Angel McCoughtry
2. Diana Taurasi
3. Maya Moore
4. Candace Parker
5. Elena Delle Donne
6. Sylvia Fowles
7. Cappie Pondexter
8. Tina Charles
9. Brittney Griner
10. Glory Johnson

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Yet another bangin' news day

Tonight's game:

The Mercury outlasted the Mystics, 101-97.

Diana Taurasi scored 26 for Phoenix and Crystal Langhorne 27 for Washington.

Team news:

Sky....guard Sharnee Zoll-Norman has come out as a lesbian, and will participate in this Sunday's gay pride parade in Chicago.

Fever....general manager Kelly Krauskopf discusses the team's injury woes.

Storm....selling tickets isn't easy without stars Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird.

Lynx....Minnesota is ready for for rematch with LA tomorrow, and there will be no lineup changes for now.

Mercury....Charde Houston is fearless.

Tomorrow's game previews:

Shock at Fever

Mystics at Dream

Sparks at Lynx

Liberty at Storm

College news:

A former Oakland University player says ex-coach Beckie Francis tried to impose her religious beliefs on her.

New North Carolina State coach Wes Moore is preparing for the "brutal" ACC.

Tayshana Murphy:

The man convicted of killing New York City hoops star Tayshana Murphy in 2011 has been sentenced to 25 years in prison - the maximum possible.

NCAA women's basketball committee outlines next steps to enhance play

The follow up to Val Ackerman's recommendations last week is fast:

The NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee is moving quickly to enhance championship play, based on the recommendations from Val Ackerman’s white paper presented nationally just over a week ago.

The committee will immediately allow regional host institutions to play on their home courts, and will also establish a women’s basketball stakeholders’ summit at the 2014 Women’s Final Four. Longer range enhancements the committee will immediately pursue include a review of the competitive format for all rounds of the championship beginning in 2015, including:

Shifting of weekend playing dates for the Women’s Final Four from Sunday-Tuesday to Friday-Sunday, with preliminary round game days aligned accordingly
Possible first- and second-round byes for as many as the top-32 seeds, so that lower-seeded teams play each other in the earlier rounds
Combining the Women’s Final Four with the Division II and Division III Women’s Basketball Championships in Indianapolis in the Summer Olympics year of 2016.

Rookie watch

I've been talking to some of this year's rookies, one by one. Not the "three to see," but the rest of the rooks. They are a fun and interesting group.

Tianna Hawkins goes West

Tayler Hill is helping the Mystics

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Juicy news Wednesday

Today's game:

Elena Delle Donne lead the Sky over the Liberty, 87-74, with 26 points.

Team news, and there is some good stuff today:

Lynx....Coach Cheryl Reeve is unhappy with her "big three" star players:

Reeve's discontent with her starters is rooted in an 87-59 road loss to the Los Angeles Sparks on June 21.

"Our starters didn't show up to play the game," Reeve said. "I didn't expect to see what I saw. Our second team far outplayed our first team in that game."

The Lynx rebounded two days later, beating Tulsa 88-79. Reeve saw improved play from her starters but said she
was upset with the way they practiced Wednesday.

"I don't want to make these statements and say that's how we've been the entire season. (Wednesday's practice) didn't go the way I'd hoped, plain and simple. The L.A. game, had that game not happened, (Wednesday's practice) may not feel the way it does. We showed up in L.A. expecting a great game between two of the best teams in the league and got a stinker of a game," she said.


Another practice report.

Sparks....deep piece on Candace Parker - her life and career.

Liberty....Essence Carson had surgery today to repair her torn ACL.

Mystics....the Mystics are trying to right the ship after three tough road losses.

A Mystics minute with Monique Currie.

Mercury....Penny Taylor sees a silver lining in her ACL injury, which has kept her out for over a year.

Silver Stars....Danielle Robinson throughout the last two years.

Tomorrow's game preview:

Mercury at Mystics

Pat Summitt:

Legendary coach Pat Summitt says she's content with her new role at Tennessee.

The documentary film "Pat XO" premiered in Knoxville tonight.

College happenings

The University of Tennessee will soon construct a Pat Summitt Plaza on campus.

Stronger rumors that Val Ackerman is the new Big East commissioner.

Guard Kathy Thomas has left Iowa.

Catching up with Marist coach Brian Giorgis.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Monday, June 24, 2013

Glory Johnson, Angel McCoughtry are players of the week

Glory Johnson and Angel McCoughtry are the Western and Eastern conference players of the week.

Team news:

Liberty....Q&A with Avery Warley.

Tomorrow's game previews:

Fever at Dream

Mercury at Silver Stars

College coaching changes:

I heard that Baylor assistant coaches Damion McKinney and Rekha Patterson had left the program several weeks ago, but there was never an announcement. Now, their replacements have been named.

Jacksonville State has named Rick Pietri head coach.

U16 team captures gold

USA 82, Canada 48

Asia Durr was tournament MVP.

Photo gallery

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Saturday, June 22, 2013

U16 team advances to gold medal game

USA's U16 team continued to dominate today, annihilating Mexico 101-29 to advance to the gold medal game.

Three players finished with 16 points each: Katie Lou Samuelson, Arike Ogunbowale and Lauren Cox.

Box score.

Photos.

More Fever injury

So I had just blogged about the Fever's ridiculous number of injuries yesterday. Today the game comes on NBA TV and I see Tamika Catchings walking to the bench in street clothes. Suddenly I'm talking to the tube:

"Tamika Catchings is injured now? For real? Are you serious?"

Seriously. She's day-to-day with a lower back strain. It's unbelievable.

And though they lead by two at halftime, the Sky turned on the gas in the third quarter and went on to win, 71-61.

Meanwhile, the Shock notched their third win by routing the Storm, 92-70.

Team news:

Sparks....the new voice of the Sparks is suburban resident Huisha Bush.

Shock....youthful Shock want to identify as persistent team.

Tomorrow's games:

Dream at Sun

Silver Stars at Liberty

Mystics at Sparks

Shock at Lynx

College news:

New Ohio State Coach Kevin McGuff reaches out to Buckeye fans.

Sparks deliver an unexpected thrashing to Western Conference leading Lynx, 87-59

Game story.

Photo gallery.

Looks like the Dream and the Sparks were underestimated this season.

Other games last night:

Storm 91, Silver Stars 86

Mercury 90, Mystics 82

Today's game previews:

Sky at Fever

Storm at Shock

Friday, June 21, 2013

The hemhorraging won't stop for Indiana

Jessica Davenport has to have surgery for the stress fracture in her leg, and is out for the season. The Fever's rough start is reaching epic proportions.

Jasmine Hassell will return to replace Davenport.

More team news:

Storm....the Storm are relying on defense, which is coach Brian Agler's specialty.

Veteran Tina Thompson is the quiet storm.

Mystics....Washington is full of surprises this year.

Mystics minute with Michelle Snow.

Sky....Elena Delle Donne blogs about sports mania in Chicago.

Lynx....another flashback Friday photo gallery.

Mercury....get to know the players with this new web page.

General WNBA news:

League president Laurel Richie views the "three to see" as game changers.

College news:

Trisha Stafford-Odom talks about her decision to leave North Carolina.

Kristy Curry will get $400,000 per year at Alabama.

Oakland says former coach Beckie Francis was fired for misconduct that led to an internal review.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Sun acquire Shock player

Wheelings and dealings:

The Sun waived Ashley Walker and then got Kayla Pedersen from Tulsa for their second-round pick next year.

Team news:

Shock....rookie Skylar Diggins talks about making adjustments - and especially to losing.

Storm....coach Brian Agler will be inducted into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame.

Tomorrow's game previews:

Storm at Silver Stars

Mystics at Mercury

Lynx at Sparks

College news:

Val Ackerman is in negotiations to become the next Big East commissioner, sources say.

Race to the MVP

The WNBA ranks its own players in week four of its "race to the MVP" tally. There are some new names on the list this year:

1. Maya Moore
2. Angel McCoughtry
3. Elena Delle Donne
4. Candace Parker
5. Diana Taurasi
6. Cappie Pondexter
7. Tina Charles
8. Ivory Latta
9. Sylvia Fowles
10. Glory Johnson

Agree or disagree?

Some drama

About last night:

Maya Moore lead Minnesota over Phoenix, 80-69, with a monster stat line: 26 points, 16 rebounds and five assists. Box score.

Mercury forward Diana Taurasi, who had 28 points, said the Lynx beat them to every loose ball and rebound.

About today:

The Shock grabbed their second win by beating the Sky, 83-74.

College news:

Drama from Florida....Sydney Moss is the third player to leave Florida this off-season, but the school doesn't want to let her go.

Kathy Thomas will transfer from Iowa.

Florida State has obtained three transfers.

McKenzie Calvert has decomitted from Baylor.

U16 team:

The USA U16 team routed Brazil yesterday in the first round of the FIBA Americas Championship, 76-20.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

All that's pertinent in basketball

As the Lynx and Mercury battle it out......

WNBA team news:

Fever....Shavonte Zellous keeps on scoring.

Q&A with Jeanette Pohlen.

Liberty....the 411 on rookie Kamiko Williams.

Mercury....the man up/Mercury challenge was a success.

Mystics....get to know Emma Meesseman.

Dream....Q&A with Ruth Riley.

Pat Summitt:

The legendary coach has been inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame.

Kara Lawson and Peyton Manning have filmed ads to support Summitt's Foundation to find a cure for Alzheimer's Disease.

College news:

Coach Jim Foster and Chattanooga players are liking each other.

Tina Thompson puts up 30 points to lead Storm over Mystics, 96-86

The lone remaining player from the WNBA's first season is putting on quite a show in her final year, as she heads for retirement. Tina Thompson put up 30 points last night to lead the Storm over the Mystics, 96-86. If you saw the game, as I did, you know it was quite a show.

Other news:

ESPN expounds on the league's top power forwards. Do you agree with this list?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Yes, there is some college news to go with that WNBA main meal

The dub:

Fever....the bad news keeps coming, as Katie Douglas will be out for several more weeks, due to a bulging disc in her lower back.

Coach Lin Dunn and Tamika Catchings talk about how the Fever will deal with the injuries.

Catchings blogs about the team's White House visit last Friday.

Dream....have signed Ruth Riley to replace Sancho Lyttle, who is playing in Spain.

Storm....Complain? No, Nakia Sanford is having too much fun.

Talking with Sue Bird.

Sky....Epiphanny Prince's Russian team failed to advance out of the first round of the world championships, so she is returning to the Sky.

Lynx....Rebekkah Brunson is a rebounding machine.

Mystics....a minute with Crystal Langhorne.

Silver Stars....throwback Tuesday - Danielle Adams over the last couple years.

Games:

Mystics at Storm tips off shortly.

Tomorrow the Lynx visit the Mercury.

College news:

Nine for IX short film on Vivian Stringer.

Cappie Pondexter calls her former coach a model of grace and dignity.

Whoopi Goldberg was the executive producer.

Injuries have forced Vanderbilt's Stephanie Holzer to retire.

Catching up with Virginia coach Joanne Boyle.

Minnesota's Rachel Banham had successful surgery on both knees this week.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Another off night

General WNBA news:

Western and Eastern conference players of the week are Diana Taurasi and Angel McCoughtry, respectively.

Team news:

Dream....the overlooked Dream are turning heads with their 6-1 start.

Lynx....practice report for today.

Liberty....signed Avery Warley to replace Cheryl Ford.

Mercury....Brittney Griner on dating, tatoos and freedom. With a poignant quote from teammate Diana Taurasi:

"Look, Brittney wasn't able to be Brittney at Baylor," Taurasi says. "That happens all over America. We all feel that way like your program is more important when you're at that age. But in reality, without her, who gives a (expletive) about Baylor? I'm glad she's able to be who she really is now."

Val Ackerman recommends changes to NCAA Division I women's basketball

Former WNBA president Val Ackerman has conducted interviews with stakeholders in women's basketball, and the report she gave the NCAA has been released. Among her recommendations:

Many of Ackerman’s interviews included discussions about the Division I women’s tournament and whether changes might be needed to improve attendance and visibility.

As a first step, Ackerman recommends switching the Women’s Final Four dates back to a Friday/Sunday format instead of the current Sunday/Tuesday format. Many of the people she spoke with believe it is burdensome for fans to give up two weeknights and return home on a Wednesday to attend the Women’s Final Four under the current format.

Another of Ackerman’s recommendations is to have the Division I Women’s Basketball Committee explore using a two-site, super-regional format for the second week of the tournament when the regional semifinals and finals take place, rather than the current four-site format.

The concept calls for sending eight teams to each of the regionals, which could create more of a festival atmosphere, potentially attract more fans and cut costs. This would mean conducting four regional semifinals and two regional finals at the same site, ideally in cities where interest in women’s basketball has proven to be high.

She also said there was sentiment within the membership to allow the top 16 seeds in the tournament to host first- and second-round games.


And:

Following four decades of growth under Title IX, Ackerman believes women’s basketball has advanced to the point where key decision-makers should now adopt more aggressive sales, marketing and promotional strategies so the sport can generate bigger crowds and, in turn, better financial results.

Ackerman noted that grassroots marketing is vital to the success of women’s college basketball and that many interviewees saw a pressing need for coaches to remain actively involved in cultivating fan support in their local markets.


And:

Ackerman believes the time is right for women’s college basketball to conduct a rigorous self-examination and chart out its next phase of growth.

I don't disagree with one thing she said.

And I wish she was still WNBA president.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A tale of four games

What a day.

The Mystics squeezed by the Fever, 64-60. Washington is now 4-1 and Indiana, 1-5. Really.

The Dream are still tops in the East, as they knocked off the Sky, 88-74.

Another overtime for the Shock, but it was the Mercury, 108-103. Diana Taurasi had 29 for Phoenix, and Glory Johnson put up 32 for the Shock.

The Storm got one in Connecticut, beating the Sun, 78-66. Tina Thompson lead the way for Seattle with 17 points.

All-Star game is coming up:

All-Star ballot.

Sparks redeem themselves by crushing Silver Stars, 84-48

My game story, with the best quotes.

Fathers play a big role in the success of some WNBA players

Check out my Father's Day story, where I talk to Camille Little, Elena Delle Donne, Renee Montgomery, Ebony Hoffman and Monica Wright.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Upcoming games

Silver Stars at Sparks tips off shortly, and I will be there to tweet about it and cover the game: twitter.com/hoopism.

Tomorrow the Sky is at the Dream, the Fever visit the Mystics, it's Mercury at Shock, and the Storm at the Sun.

More on Katie Smith moving up to second on the WNBA points list.

Friday, June 14, 2013

More game results

Lynx over Shock, 83-74, despite the struggles of Maya Moore.

Diana Taurasi lead the Mercury over the Sparks, 97-81. She had 34 points. The most exciting fact of the night: 13,605 fans attended the game.

In his post-game conference, Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said the franchise would waive Cheryl Ford because her knee isn't healing fast enough from injury.

Also in tonight's game, veteran New York guard Katie Smith became the league's second-leading all-time scorer.

Fever honored at the White House

The 2012 champions Indiana Fever were honored by President Barack Obama at the White House today. It is the Fever's first title.

Tonight's results so far:

Liberty 78, Sun 68.

Dream 68, Storm 59.

WNBA team news:

Lynx....are learning to win on the road.

Flashback Friday two.

Liberty....Cappie Pondexter, diary two.

Former Buckeye Katie Smith is still climbing upward.

Storm....the team is mentoring rookie Tianna Hawkins.

General news:

Chamique Holdsclaw pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and possession of a firearm from an incident last November. She was sentenced to three years probation and a $3,000 fine.

Mercury's Candice Dupree suspended for one game

Candice Dupree won't play in the Mercury-Sparks game tonight because she's been suspended for a game. Dupree made contact with an official during last Saturday's game against Indiana.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sparks gear up for first back-to-back game stanza, seek first road win

At the Los Angeles Sparks' practice today, there was some fierce defense going on, jostling, and a lot of rough play. The Sparks are gearing up for the first of three back-to-back games, and are seeking their first road win. (Link includes a photo gallery)

Meeting Gail Goestenkors (a consultant for the Sparks) today was a real plus.

U.S. team heads to China for Four Nations tournament

From Netscouts Basketball:

A USA Women’s All-Star Basketball team is leaving for China to participate in an important international basketball tournament. The “Four Nations” tournament features the Chinese National “B” team, the Australia Rising Opals and the National team of Hungary in addition to the USA.

The team:

Chelsea Hopkins
Taleya Mayberry
China Crosby
Alexis Gray-Lawson
Tahnee Robinson
Aulani Sinclair
Sarah Eichler
Chelsea Poppens
Aishah Sutherland
Jessica Lawson
Talia Caldwell
Nikki Greene

No game night

I hate no game nights.

WNBA team news:

Liberty....all access with the team and coach Bill Laimbeer.

Essence Carson discusses her ACL injury.

Kara Braxton is holding down the fort.

Mystics....talking with veteran Crystal Langhorne.

Media members discuss the Mystics.

Washington has raced out of the gates this season.

Sky....Elena Delle Donne blogs about deep dish pizza, among other things.

Sylvia Fowles and Delle Donne met Chicago's mayor.

Silver Stars....Jia Perkins throughout the years.

Lynx....tomorrow night, the Lynx will battle a familiar face in Candice Wiggins.

Mercury....the Mercury five for this week.

Tomorrow's games:

Storm at Dream preview.

Sun at Liberty preview.

Lynx at Shock preview.

Sparks at Mercury preview.

General WNBA:

One columnist thinks its time to restore WNBA roster sanity. I couldn't agree more.

College news:

Trina Patterson has left Stanford to be an assistant coach at Old Dominion.

Colorado's Rachel Hargis is healing from her MCL tear.

Nebraska coach Connie Yori is in a zone: coaching and mothering.

High school news:

Taryn Griffey - Ken Griffey Jr.'s daughter - is shooting for her senior moment after sitting out last year with an injury.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

For the Fever, the struggle is real

Tonight's game:

Tina Charles lead the Sun over the injury-plagued Fever, 73-61. She had 30 points and 10 rebounds.

WNBA news:

Shock....Riquna Williams was cleared to play Monday, so Courtney Paris was waived again.

Sky....Epiphanny Prince's ankle sprain has healed, so back to Russia she goes.

Dream....Sancho Lyttle will miss six games as she plays for Eurobasket.

Sun....fans haven't been able to see game broadcasts on TV.

Catching up with Allison Hightower.

Lynx....podcast two.

Mercury....Briana Gilbreath's journey.

College news:

Oakland University has relieved coach Beckie Francis.

High school:

Joyce Walker returns to coach Garfield High School in Seattle.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

'WNBA Life'

ESPN has compiled all the player blogs into one page, called WNBA Life.

The latest entries are from Candace Parker and Tina Charles.

Today's game:

The Lynx beat the Silver Stars, 87-72.

Other WNBA news:

Dream....meet rookie Courtney Clements.

Mystics....a minute with Emma Meesseman.

Mystics Magazine, episode one, segment one.

Tomorrow's game:

Sun at Fever preview.

A smattering

Fever....will meet President Obama Friday. They are excited.

Q&A with Karima Christmas.

Lynx....scoring comes naturally for Maya Moore.

Shock....talking with new assistant coach Stacey Lovelace.

Sky....Tamera Young is making her way in the WNBA.

Mercury....Brittney Griner's rookie diary.

Cool side piece:

Meet the Riverside Classic - a Harlem women's hoops league.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Conference players of the week

More parity, as Ivory Latta and Rebekkah Brunson are the East and West conference players of the week, respectively.

Other WNBA news:

Sun....signed Iziane Castro Marques and waived Natasha Lacy.

Mystics....a minute with coach Mike Thibault.

Lynx....today's practice report.

College news:

Duke has promoted Hernando Planells to assistant coach and has hired Michele Van Gorp as director of basketball operations.

Will the Tennessee-Connecticut series resume?

The Mohegan Sun Arena will host the American Athletic Conference tournament next spring. How does that work with NCAA rules?

Thirty-two coaches recently completed a session of the WBCA's Center for Coaching Excellence at Columbia.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Essence Carson to miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL

It turns out that the injury Liberty forward Essence Carson suffered in Friday's game was a torn ACL, and she's out for the rest of the season.

Especially considering she was having a break out year, it's beyond sad.

Carson's injury has dealt a blow to her team.

Today's games......oddly, the two teams with major injured personnel won:

The Liberty defeated the Dream, 76-67.

The Sky got past the Silver Stars, 72-70. They were lead by none other than Elena Delle Donne and her 23 points. She's looking like the Rookie of the Year so far.

More WNBA news:

Shock....SLAM's Q&A with Skylar Diggins.

Lynx....this week's uncontested shot column.

College news:

Chattanooga coach Jim Foster's experiences have made him a better coach. (This situation feels like the Mike Thibault/Connecticut Sun deal)

Incoming Notre Dame freshmen are ready to go to work.

Sparks need an overtime to beat Shock, 76-69

My game story and photo gallery. Two of the pictures (the Shock weren't warming up when the Sparks were):



Candace Parker glances at the clock during the fourth quarter



Common walks to his seat

More parity

I watched all three games yesterday, and could have watched one more if there were additional hours in the day.

Parity still rules: the Mercury grabbed their first win, the Mystics upended the Lynx, and the Shock could have beaten the Sparks.

About last night:

The Mystics held on to beat the Lynx, 85-80. It's a whole new league, baby.

Ref cam debut.

Ref cam footage.

So much happened in the Sparks' win over the Shock. My story will be up later today.

Today's games:

Dream at Liberty.

Silver Stars at Sky.

For San Antonio, Chicago is a tall order.

Women's Basketball Hall of Fame:

Ceremonies were last night.

Inductees Sue Wicks and Jim Foster lauded Pat Summitt's vision for the Hall.

College news:

Jasmine Phillips won't return to Tennessee.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Mercury get first season win, over Fever: 82-67

Just before game time in Indianapolis today, it was announced that Phoenix center Brittney Griner would be out for the game with a left knee sprain. It was the debut of the ref cam, but all eyes were on the game. In the end, Diana Taurasi lead the Mercury over the Fever, 82-67, for their first season win.

There were a total of five technicals assessed in the game - three on Phoenix players and two on Fever players. Yes, it was a hotly-contested match up. And understandably, as it was on ABC.

Taurasi said in the post-game interview that she needs to step it up, because she hasn't been bringing it. Fans on social networks respect her honesty, but many criticized her for the cussing that earned her a technical foul, and continued after the fact.

I asked the question on twitter: does the Mercury play better with or without Griner? Here are the responses. Feel free to make your own comment.

LAL/Sparks Fan Girl ‏@ShortyMamba24 @hoopism Without Griner

Breanna Saunders ‏@bballer223 @hoopism without and that's just real talk.

WNBA Jones ‏@WNBAJones @hoopism dont think it's a matter of with or without. The Merc system is custom fit and it either takes time or the player isnt right for it. Right now, too early to tell for Griner. Lets see how they do vs LAS. For Prahalis, might not b with PHX long. Good player though.

natalia foster ‏@fosternat_7895 @hoopism it will take time

MEECY♥ ‏@queenmaraj @hoopism ill give it one more game before i make judgement but like i said since the beginning of the season edd was the perfect fit here

joe perilli ‏@joeperilli1 @hoopism IMHO BG is gonna B even better in the WNBA than she was in HS or College (& she's gonna ultra KILL in China) Like U said more earlier this week both the Merc and the Shock need to b givin time to team up!!!!

Christie Collins ‏@ccollin13 @hoopism They're putting a square peg into a round hole. If you have 1 of the best pure centers in the world, you fit your system to her.

texsbill ‏@texs2424 @hoopism play bettr short-term w/o (possibly). but 10-20 games w/ griner shud b among best ever.

Rita Mary ‏@rmjs19 @hoopism if was do or die today. Knee sprain blessing in disguise. Old teammates perfect fit, rhythm, timing.

cboonestyle ‏@boonecattee @hoopism Right now? Better without Griner. Too slow for his system; needs time to adjust.

Robert Phipps ‏@rjp172 @hoopism To many teams injury riddled to know how good each team really is. Hard to use Indiana as a measuring stick right now.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Dream remain undefeated, Sky lose their first, and Shock finally win one

The Dream soared past the Liberty, 75-56, to remain unbeaten at 4-0.

The Silver Stars took down an Epiphanny Prince-less Sky, 81-69. It was Chicago's first season loss.

The Mystics made it memorable for coach Mike Thibaults return to Connecticut, beating their hosts, 66-62.

The Shock grabbed their first W by upending the Storm at home, of all things, 67-58.

Other WNBA news:

Mystics....Ivory Latta is Washington's spark plug.

Sparks....close up with rookie Farhiya Abdi.

Mercury....Alexis Hornbuckle blogs: we have some things to fix.

Lynx....rookie Sugar Rodgers is making her way in the pros.

All of you longtime WNBA fans, like myself, will love Minnesota's Flashback Friday.

Shock....the injury bug has bitten Tulsa again.

Skylar Diggins is adjusting to her summer job.

Tomorrow's games:

Mercury at Fever.

Lynx at Mystics.

Shock at Sparks.

The Women's Basketball Hall of Fame 2013 class:

This year's inductees include Sue Wicks, Annette Smith-Knight, Jennifer Rizzotti, Peggie Gillom-Granderson, Jim Foster and Gary Blair.

Wicks reflects on a satisfying career.

Signature moment epitomized Jennifer Rizzotti's play.

Gillom-Granderson was surprised to be inducted.

History of Smith-Knight.

Foster is ready for his induction.

Blair is the first inductee from TAMU.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Lynx and Mercury thoughts

The Lynx beat up the visiting Mercury tonight, 99-79, in a win that could have been far greater if Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve hadn't put in her bench.

Those who watched on LiveAccess - which has been good or bad, depending on whom you talk with - saw Minnesota get out to a blistering start. They shot 67 percent in the first quarter and lead 60-33 at halftime. Phoenix never got into a rhythm, while the Lynx showcased inspired play and were firing on all cylinders. If the championship game were to be played tonight, Minnesota would win it. They begin the season 2-0.

The Mercury are now 0-3, which of course has fans in a panic and calling for coach Corey Gaines' head. But not only is it way too early for such proclamations, it's not that simple. Take a look at the box score. Four players in double figures on each team; similar shooting percentage after the reserves went in. The lopsidedness tells the rest of the story.

The Lynx play team ball, and the Mercury don't know how to play together yet.

Lynx 30 assists, Mercury 16 assists.

Lynx 17 offensive rebounds, Mercury four offensive rebounds.

Lynx 41 overall rebounds, Mercury 30 overall rebounds.

Minnesota has something to prove after losing in last year's finals. Phoenix doesn't seem to have chemistry right now, and it's not hard to see why from their roster. Two of their stars missed most of last season, four others are newbies and two veterans are still new to the team. Then they have this big center piece whom no one is quite sure how to play with yet.

Just because you have a bunch of good ballers on a team doesn't mean they'll win if they have no chemistry.

Which is not to say the Mercury won't develop some. They just don't have a whole lot of it right now.

The Lynx play defense, and the Mercury need work on defense.

Lynx six steals, Mercury three steals.

Lynx six blocks, Mercury two blocks.

Mercury 11 turnovers, Lynx six turnovers.

Other teams are going to be out to prove something/get the Mercury.

Lynx center Janel McCarville almost broke something trying to keep Brittney Griner from dunking. When Griner clanked a second dunk attempt in the second half, fans could be heard snickering.

Media and fans picking Phoenix to win the championship because of Griner's arrival seems to have sparked fire in some other teams. With Indiana and Los Angeles next for the Mercury, the road out of "they're trying to get us" won't get any easier.

Ref cam coming Saturday

For as long as the WNBA has been around, fans have complained about the officiating. Maybe this will help it get better: the league debuts the "ref cam" Saturday on ABC, when the Mercury visit the Fever.

Currently:

The Lynx are beating down the Mercury: 60-33 at halftime. More on that later......

Team news:

Sky....Wow - Epiphanny Prince sprained her ankle in her first game for Russia, and is headed back to Chicago for evaluation.

Shock....Liz Cambage is out for a week with an ankle sprain, so Tulsa has re-signed Courtney Paris.

Fever....have signed Erin Thorn to its injury-depleted roster.

Storm....Lauren Jackson says she still has at least two more years before retirement.

Liberty....Essence Carson is Miss Versatility.

Lynx....Charde Houston and Alexis Hornbuckle have a place in Lynx history.

Mystics....assistant coach Eric Thibault talks about facing Connecticut.

Mercury....this week's Mercury five.

There are FOUR games tomorrow:

Liberty-Dream preview.

Mystics-Sun preview.

Sky-Silver Stars preview.

Shock-Storm preview.

College news:

Former University of Washington player Melissa Erickson has died after a seven-year battle with Lou Gehrig's Disease.

The Seattle Storm's Alysha Clark will be an assistant coach at Middle Tennessee, beginning this fall.

Pat Coyle is the new coach at Saint Peter's.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Liberty get first win by beating Fever

The Liberty needed an over time to beat the Fever, 75-68: Bill Laimbeer is aging quickly with his new team.

Box score.

General WNBA:

Three ESPNers discuss Epiphanny Prince's player priorities.

More from ESPN rank the league's top five centers. They got the rankings right.

Team news:

Dream....meet rookie Alex Bentley.

Fever....rookie Layshia Clarendon discusses her transition to the pros.

Lynx....the Reeve report: preparing for Griner.

Sun....Tan White is out for three weeks after breaking her finger in practice yesterday.

Mystics....Mystics minute with Jessica Moore.

Liberty....first win down, more to come.

Mercury....Brittney Griner is already an evolutionary player in the WNBA.

She will be the first openly-gay athlete to sign with Nike, and she'll model men's clothing.

Tomorrow's games:

Mercury at Lynx.

Tayshana Murphy:

The man accused of killing New York high school basketball star Tayshana Murphy in 2011 was found guilty of murder today.

College news:

Injured Michigan State players are on track for return.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Back to game action tomorrow

Tomorrow the Liberty host the Fever at 11 a.m.

Fever's preview.

General WNBA news:

For Lindsay Whalen and Diana Taurasi, a lot has changed since 2004.

All-access with Brittney Griner and Elena Delle Donne.

Team news:

Sky....SLAM interviews super rookie Elena Delle Donne.

EDD is loving Chicago, but misses cooking time with her mom.

After a long journey, former Scarlet Knight Michelle Campbell finds herself in the WNBA.

Lynx....Maya Moore says last year's Finals loss left a scar, and is providing motivation.

Minnesota faces the Mercury next, and coach Cheryl Reeve says defending rookie Brittney Griner is a line between courage and stupidity.

Sun....are preparing for Mike Thibault's return without Renee Montgomery, who twisted her ankle in Friday's game.

Shock....this Skylar Diggins story is worth clicking on for the pictures alone.

Mystics....Mystics minute with rookie Tayler Hill.

Storm....frank talk with Tina Thompson.

Liberty....rookie Kamiko Williams is adjusting to the WNBA and city life.

College news:

Former Georgia Tech guard Brittany Jackson has landed at Rutgers.

Shakena Richardson moves from Rutgers to Florida State.

Utah's Sweden trip is propelling them into next season.

Annette Watts has resigned as coach at Jacksonville State.

Ten incoming freshmen to watch.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Parity, parity, parity

The Dream are now 3-0 after beating the Mystics, 73-63.

The Sky put away the Shock, 92-71.

The Storm rallied to top the Mercury, 75-72.

There's more parity in the WNBA right now than there's ever been. A lot of people are saying many things. So it's a good idea right now to remember:

- This is only the first week of the season. It's way too early to pick teams for playoffs or to write teams off. In the past teams have started slowly and picked way up; teams have started well and tanked; teams have had slumps in the middle and have overcome them; and other slumps have turned into tanks. We don't know what's going to happen this year yet. The playoffs are months away.

- Brittney Griner isn't an instant solution to team issues, and her presence doesn't necessarily guarantee a championship. The same is true for Skylar Diggins. Both are rookies, and need time to adjust to the pros.

Every year there is one - and usually only one - rookie who has no trouble switching from college to pro ball. Last year that was Nneka Ogwumike, and this year it's Elena Delle Donne. Everyone else will have a learning curve, and to expect "the three to see" to save their respective teams is not just unrealistic, but it adds more pressure to what is already a big load for these young women. They need to be given time to learn. This year's rookie class, in particular, was exceptional. They'll catch on. Fans need to give them time.

- Expect the unexpected. For example, the Dream and the Storm aren't as bad as fans thought they would be, while the Mercury and Liberty aren't as good as proselytized. It's fun, isn't it?

Marketing:

- Don't hate on Skylar Diggins for getting a car from manager Jay-Z. Be happy that a female basketball player is getting a huge gift as a signing bonus. That hasn't happened for a while.

- Let the WNBA use the "three to see" as a marketing tool to get people interested. Well-versed fans might be sick of them, but we're trying to bring new fans in. Let them get interested.

In her TV interview Friday night during a game, league president Laurel Richie said they're trying to get stories of the player's lives out there. That's the right approach.

WNBA president sees advancements

WNBA President Laurel Richie has seen significant progress in the league's advancement this past year:

With the new TV contract come some intriguing innovations. As the WNBA and ESPN moved into their discussions, fertile imaginations went to work and devised plans to better depict the league's action and provide a close-up look for viewers.

Enter “Referee Cam.”

The WNBA plans to put mini-cameras on its refs during selected games. It's thought to be the first time such a telecasting idea has been used in a United States professional league. Fans will see on-court action, and hear players' and coaches' interactions, from the same angle that a game official does.

“I like it when the WNBA leads the way,” Richie said. “I think this is an example.”

ESPN and its affiliated networks also will expand their coverage of WNBA players and their backgrounds, showing their lives away from basketball. That's already begun, in part, with the network's focus on the league's top 2013 draftees -- Phoenix's Brittney Griner, Chicago's Elena Delle Donne and Tulsa's Skylar Diggins.

“I think we are seeing a draft class that is really game-changing in its depth and breadth,” Richie said. “This is 40 years after Title IX, 17 years after the league. Young women … are entering the league stronger, better, faster, more disciplined, well trained and well coached. The game, I think, is at a new level.”

With the WNBA on an upswing, Richie was asked about the possibility of league expansion. There are currently 12 teams. Six are aligned with NBA teams, including the Fever, which is part of the Pacers Sports & Entertainment organization. The Connecticut Sun, Tulsa Shock, Atlanta Dream, Seattle Storm, Chicago Sky and Los Angeles Sparks are not partners with NBA clubs.

Richie envisions expansion but didn't put a timetable on it.


Other WNBA news:

Lynx....Janel McCarville didn't need to score last night to make her presence felt.

Minnesota appears micast as the WNBA's after thought.

With three Olympians, fans can expect them to show they are still the best.

This week's uncontested shot column.

Mystics....coach Mike Thibault is aiming to turn the franchise around.

Crystal Langhorne demonstrates a flair for decoration at her townhouse.

Shock....rookie Skylar Diggins and the Shock are off to a slow start.

Diggins is using multi-tasking to survive.

Mercury....Brittney Griner is changing the game.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Both conferences are deeper than fans thought they would be

Tonight's game action:

The Silver Stars, taking large leads at times, edged the Sparks at the end, 83-78.

Candace Parker lead all scorers with 27 points, had a career-high 20 rebounds, and added four blocked shots and four assists. Four San Antonio players were in double figures.

Box score.

Fans generally didn't pick the Silver Stars to win tonight, and they haven't picked them for the playoffs. But they played very spirited ball tonight, and showed depth.

Up north the Lynx finally started their season, and with a win: they dominated the Sun, 90-74.

Maya Moore lead Minnesota with 26 points, and Seimone Augustus put up 20. Tina Charles and Kara Lawson each had 22 for Connecticut.

Box score.

The Lynx are predicted to be title contenders, but the Sun are no slouches. Or so fans thought.

It's too early to call it a season for any team, though some fans on twitter are quick to do so. What these first few games of this season do indicate is that the league is deep, deep, deep. A total of 46 players who were on rosters this year are baller-unemployed this season.

Fans won't be able to count any team out quite yet, as all playoff spots are completely up for grabs. Moreover, I don't know which will be tougher: the Eastern Conference or the Western Conference.

Tomorrow:

Dream at Mystics, Mercury at Storm and Shock at Sky.

Hiring of new Ohio State assistant coach a pre-cursor to signing his daughter?

Mark Mitchell is the final assistant coach to be added to Kevin McGuff's staff at Ohio State is Mark Mitchell. Mitchell has coached only high school, but he is the father of class of 2014 fourth-ranked recruit Kelsey Mitchell:

Kelsey Mitchell is ranked No. 4 nationally by the ESPN HoopGurlz website and the Philadelphia-based Blue Star Report for the 2014 recruiting class. She and her twin sister, Chelsea, will be high-school seniors in the fall and are on record as saying they want to attend college together.

Neither has issued an oral commitment.


It'll be interesting to see if either of Mark Mitchell's daughters end up being Buckeyes.

This kind of thing has been happening on the men's side of the game for quite some time. A basketball-knowledgeable friend dug up some info for me:

In 1983, two days before Danny Manning signed with Kansas, Larry Brown hired Danny's truck-driving dad as an assistant.

John Calipari hired Milt Wagner in 2001, allegedly to sign Dajuan Wagner at Memphis.

In 2005, Bill Self hired Ronnie Chalmers on staff the same year his son Mario Chalmers was signed. He resigned in 2008 year to pursue "other interests," which was the same year Mario began playing in the NBA.

Texas Tech, Texas A&M and LSU allegedly offered John Reese a coaching position in 2012. His son Mychal Reese was a top recruit that year. Dad is now assistant coach at Texas A&M, where Mychal Reese signed to play.