Thursday, September 30, 2010

Is it high school and college season yet?

I'm seriously jonesin'.......

Collegiately speaking:

Pitt has received three major verbals.

On the other side of the coin, the University of Washington's Liz Lay is retiring because of knee injuries. Best wishes to her.

The UNCW student newspaper suggests that assistant coach Johnetta Hayes be let go.

Newcomers are giving Colorado State a lift.

USA Basketball/WNBA:

Mechelle Voepel talks about the USA's win over Australia yesterday.

Heyyyy.....nice piece on Big Syl.

The WNBA draft lottery is set for Nov. 2.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Rosalind Ross' alleged killer pleads not guilty

If you haven't already cringed or felt pain over the story of Rosalind Ross' death, this story will do it for you:

Ross was in court wearing a t-shirt with his older sister's picture on it.

Not only has this been tough losing his sister, he and his family were also very close with Willoughby.

"That hurts the most when it was someone so close to the family," he said.

That closeness was on full display outside of court when Willoughby's father, Craig Harp, embraced Ross's father, apologizing on his daughter's behalf.

"It definitely means a lot to our family," said Ross.

"I wanted to give my condolences to the family. I'm so sorry for their loss," said Harp with tears streaming down his eyes. "May God be with us all."

Ouch doesn't begin to cover it.

USA beats Australia, moves to quarterfinals

The US has a crucial 83-75 win today over previously-unbeaten Australia. They are the first seed advancing to the quarterfinals. Russia also stayed undefeated with a win over Spain.


Anne Donovan is distraught in the wake of the Friday night shooting of one of her Seton Hall players. This says a lot about Donovan, and I can relate:

"One of the reasons that I'm back in college is that I love to nurture," Donovan said in the Citi Field dugout before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch with new men's head coach, Kevin Willard.

IUPUI has named one of the assistant men's coaches the new head women's coach, to replace fired coach Shann Hart. Hmmmmm.

The Western Athletic Conference will reportedly ask the Montana Grizzlies to join the conference.

Almost college:

"I'm ready to be a Duck," top recruit Lexi Petersen told Oregon Coach Paul Westhead this week.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

USA continues its dominance

The US whomped Belarus today, 107-61. It's odd, though, that in that story you have to get to the tenth paragraph to find out the score of the game. These capsules of all of today's games are better.

Students athletes are carrying quite the load at the world games right now.

Recap of the USA's win yesterday: Canada fell hard.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hot news

It was 113 degrees in Los Angeles today, so any news is hot news for me right now.

USA Basketball and FIBA world championships news.....News from the FIBA worlds......and scores. Australia, Spain, France, Czech Republic, USA and Russia remain standing. Today's action was delayed because of a fire at the arena. A New England couple traveled 4000 miles to see team USA.

WNBA-related news.....The San Antonio Silver Stars didn't renew coach Sandy Brondello's contract, nor did they want to keep her husband - assistant coach Olaf Lange - around. But that's OK....Lange has a job.

Diana Taurasi will pose nude or semi-nude for ESPN's "body issue" in a week and a half. God help us.

Alana Beard is baaaaaack.

Collegiate news.....Kelly Mehrtens has shocked all at UNCW with her resignation today. She is the latest of a line of athletic directors to leave the position, and this one hurts because it comes when basketball season is fast approaching.

What did Eastern Michigan University do? Because they're being severely punished for NCAA violations.

On the upside, Louisiana Tech is having a "welcome back" dinner for fans next week. What a great idea. Why don't more college programs do this for their fans??

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The overseas experience

At last, someone is blogging about their overseas playing experience. I've always wished someone would, so Hillary Klimowicz is appreciated. Today's entry is especially interesting with its theme of sticking it out through the loneliness. What women have to go through to play's maddening.

Hang in there, Hillary.

USA Basketball and college items

The FIBA championships take today off. The USA earned theirs with an 81-60 win over France yesterday.

Who knew? Australian Lauren Jackson is pursuing a degree in gender studies for use after her playing days. Great story.

Here's a warm and fuzzy about Chamique Holdsclaw's recent visit to the University of Tennessee. My favorite line:

"She's matured so much,'' UT coach Pat Summitt said. "I think she's got everything going right now in a positive way."

Maybe you'd have to be a teacher and/or a coach to appreciate how great it is to be able to say something like that.

On the downside, Seton Hall frosh Nicosia Henry was shot in the foot at a party this weekend. She's OK, though. Another young woman wasn't so lucky.

Friday, September 24, 2010

FIBA scores, re-signings

Today's results:

Canada 65, China 61
Japan 59, Argentina 58
Australia 83, Belarus 59
Spain 84, Korea 69
USA 108, Senegal 52
Russia 55, Czech Republic 52
Brazil 80, Mali 73
France 69, Greece 55

Box scores here too, as well as tomorrow's matchups.

Beth Burns has extended her contract with San Diego State by five years. She has an interesting work history - check it out.

Does Joanne McCallie still insist on players making appointments to talk to her? I hope not, because Duke has extended her contract too.

Extra: Storm forward Camille Little will play in Israel this winter.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Harvest time

Verbals are falling like rain this week. I'm proud of everyone on this list, and especially one. It's still six and a half weeks until National Letter of Intent Day, too, so expect the showers to continue.

IUPUI coach "terminated without cause"

OSU II: Coach Shann Hart is gone. Will be paid her full contract, which was through 2013.

Will we ever find out what really happened?

FIBA world championships day 1

Here's the news page. But for those of you who like individual game stories and stats:

Although showing poor defense at times, the USA women whomped Greece 93-73.

South Korea upset Brazil, 61-60.

All of today's scores, plus tomorrow's schedule.

Twenty-three WNBA players from eight countries are competing at the games.

The US women want the title, of course.

The games will be broadcast in 150 countries. Woot!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Rosalind Ross funeral and UNCW

Funeral services for slain Oklahoma star Rosalind Ross are set for Saturday in Milwaukee.

A University of North Carolina-Wilmington assistant coach has been disciplined after a Monday incident in which a player was forced to endure punishment that made her become ill. Head Coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke issued a formal apology yesterday.

FIBA World Championships tomorrow

The Australian team has been named.

Lindsay Whalen discusses her perspectives and strategies for the games, which begin tomorrow.

Nice team capsule preview, courtesy of the Seattle Storm.

Preview of USA's game tomorrow against Greece.

Some Storm players will face each other on the world stage.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Presidents calling, leaving and more

Storm owners received a call of congratulation from President Obama today. Here's the Storm's take, and here's the White House's take.

Speaking of winning ways, championship merchandise is on sale tomorrow at the Storm team shop in Seattle. Wish I could beam up. I'll have to order online.

In the meantime, Carol Blazejowski's departure from the Liberty remains a mystery. It seems to have taken everyone by complete surprise.

Sportspagemagazine lists 10 college seniors to watch this year.

Kentucky super prep star Sara Hammond has picked Louisville over Connecticut. Gotta love that.

Cappie tells her side of the story

Cappie speaks about her decision not to play USA Basketball:

Have an even better year I had to give up something! Oh did I forget to mention I have to go to russia for 7 months! I just didn’t have the

Strength to do both! Regardless of my decision people, critcs,fans will have their own opinion what matters most is what I do next: The Quest

I hear ya, Pondexter. I was amazed reading all the tweets the last few days of the remaining players leaving for Europe. I don't necessarily think year-round ball is a good idea for players of any age. If she's feeling like she needs a rest, I applaud her for listening to her body.

Speaking of non-stop, Sue Bird and Swin Cash landed in time to make a practice today, according to a tweet.

The USA team has been announced. No surprises.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Jason Flowers set on reviving the Cal State Northridge program

The coach and his staff are on a mission. Considering the experience of the staff and the way they run their practices, a big change is imminent. It's palpable in the gym.

Big news!

Many New York Liberty fans have finally got their wish: Carol Blazejowski is stepping down as president and general manager.

Mechelle Voepel mulls Cappie Pondexter's decision to forego the world championships.

She also discusses why she thinks Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson are the best point guard-center combo in the world. Fantastic piece, and I agree with Voepel: they're the best. So does everyone else who knows anything about the game that I've talked to since last Thursday.

Collegiately speaking, Virginia Coach Debbie Ryan is ready to fill the gaping hole left by Monica Wright. Which gives me pause to recall a brief exchange she and I had after the Lynx' last game at Staples Center this year. She was much smaller than I thought she'd be......I mean, such a giant in the game couldn't be my height, could she? I asked her what she'd learned this year and she named a couple things and then said, "and several tricks of the trade." She looked to the side nervously and added, "but I can't really say what those are."

Young people are so sweet.

Paul Westhead brings his past into the new season with the Oregon Ducks.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

News from all corners

Rosalind Ross update:

Her hometown staged a benefit game yesterday to help the family with funeral costs. Ross was about to begin work in a basketball job at the end of the month. She was killed by her former partner. Just tragic.

USA Basketball:

Now that the WNBA season is over, all players will be heading overseas to start their quest for the FIBA world championship. Here's the schedule.

Finalists for the USA squad have been announced.


The Big East schedule is out.


New LA Sparks president Mike Levy will strive to keep the team in the black (by yours truly!).

The Seattle Storm's championship win has brought WNBA mania to Ohio, the home state of Coach Brian Agler.

The Storm will try to keep this year's team together.

Players have had their exit interviews and are leaving the building.

The new Sky coach had better win fast, and often.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Storm party it up on a Friday night

Confetti reigns down on the Key Arena court earlier tonight as fans celebrate and honor the Storm's national championship win Thursday.

(Photo courtesy of my friend Colleen, of infamous section 113)

The rain showers didn't stop the Seattle Storm's celebration parade tonight, nor did it dissuade the team's loyal fans from going to watch, and packing Key Arena for a victory celebration.

Love this:

KeyArena erupted when Storm CEO Karen Bryant said, "We did not lose a game in this building!" Some fans pumped brooms in the air to further emphasize Seattle going 21-0 at home through the regular-season and the postseason, sweeping its way to the 2010 WNBA title.

The day was recognized as "Seattle Storm Day" by the city, county and state. Tears started falling from players like Finals MVP Lauren Jackson when confetti dropped as a montage reel from the championship win Thursday played on the jumbo screen.

Brooms? Great idea.

The practice players knew it too:

"By the 20th practice, I knew they were going to win it," said Cory Christianson, who has been part of the practice group for five years.

And this is priceless:

The celebration ended with the team traveling to the four corners of the court. Fans were allowed to take pictures with both trophies, but the highlight was coach Brian Agler doing his now famous Stanky Legg dance at center court with Camille Little, Le'coe Willingham and Ashley Robinson.

Bottom line?

"It was amazing, especially out in the rain. It was five-deep lining the streets," said Storm chairman Dawn Trudeau. "We really do have the best fans in the league."

No doubt about it.

Great photo gallery here.....lucky fans got to touch the trophy.

Parade video.

Lauren Jackson's perfect season.

The Seattle Mariners will offer discounts to Storm fans at their Sunday game.

More on the championship

Atlanta has learned a heckuva lot from the finals series. (They'll be baaack!)

Angel McCoughtry is ridiculous, but we already knew that.

The Storm's second title is sweeter than the first. It's definitely more widely celebrated, too, and that's exciting. This line reminds me of what Semeka Randall said at the end of "Raise the Roof":

"I'm actually kind of sad right now," Jackson said, "that it's all over."

Seattle's struggles make them appreciate this championship more.


IUPUI probably won't release its findings on abuse allegations against coach Shann Hart. That's lame.

Former Vanderbilt standout Liz Sherwood has joined the Louisville staff as assistant coach.

Former Oklahoma standout Rosalind Ross dies

This was a shock last night: Rosalind Ross was shot and killed outside a restaurant.

This Mechelle Voepel piece tears me up. Fills me with sadness.

The Sooner family is mourning her loss.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Seattle sweeps the Dream

You don't usually say that a closeout is a great playoff series, but damn was that a series! Seattle dominated the league the entire season, and is only the fourth team go to unbeaten in the playoffs after the 97 and 00 Comets and the 02 Sparks. But the Dream shook their trees. They made the Storm work for every point and every rebound.

Usually, one or the other team will have an "off" game at some point in the playoffs, but both teams were 100 percent on in all three games. It was a pleasure to watch.

Seattle's experience definitely won it for them. When they had a few cracks in composure, they promptly got it together. Atlanta and Angel McCoughtry, on the other hand, still let circumstances take their heads out of the game at times.

Storm players really deserved that ring - especially those who were there for the last one. And Dream players and fans should be excited because they've got a scary good team that can only get better.

I knew the Storm would win it all this year at the June 5 outdoor game in LA that I attended as part of the media. I interviewed Sue Bird, Tanisha Wright, Ashley Robinson and Brian Agler separately, and all said the same things about where their collective heads were and what the strengths of the team were. They were not only on the same page, but the same paragraph and sentence. The writing (no pun intended) was on the wall.

Storm fans will have their parade Friday evening. I hope people take pictures for me.

Edit at 9:30 p.m.: That was fast.....Storm merchandise for sale.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A little bit of everything during college recruiting season

Lisa Leslie is in video news today. She and Rick Mahorn chat again about the WNBA finals. This time they have Stephanie Ready on hand to break up any possible disagreements.

Leslie and husband Michael Lockwood discuss Lockwood's new book. He says women have power over men but don't realize it.

More on the Storm win last night - much more:

Yep, Seattle loves good basketball. It was volcanic inside Key Arena last night.

The Storm have young fans and older fans.

The next game tomorrow night is in Atlanta, and Seattle knows that won't be easy at all.

On the USA Basketball tip, Tamika Catchings still uses the loss in 2006 as a motivator.

In high's been written about before, but ESPN's Mark Lewis breaks down well why recruits should be careful on Facebook, twitter, and other social networking sites.

And just a note while we're on the age group: it's fall so that means it's official visit time for high school recruits - not to mention home visits. Don't verbal or sign before you've taken all five of your visits, athletes. Make a "pros and cons" chart. Talk with family and friends. And enjoy this exciting time in your life, even if it's scary sometimes.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Storm 87, Dream 84

Let's get the formalities out of the way: Seattle beat Atlanta tonight.

The Storm are one win away from their second championship.

Seattle leads the series 2-0.

Angel McCoughtry and Iziane Castro-Marques matched each other with 21 points for the Dream, while Lauren Jackson lead all scorers with 26 for the Storm. Swin Cash and Tanisha Wright added 19 and 17 point, respectively. Box score.

But don't let the score or the series wins fool you: Atlanta is the real deal, and that was a helluva game.

The Storm is the heavy favorite, but the Dream isn't going down without a fight - and a nasty one, at that. You gotta love a team that absolutely won't give up, and tonight was a great example of that. Everytime Seattle would make it a three-possession game, either McCoughtry or Castro-Marques would bury a shot or pound it in to cut the lead. What a display.

In the end, it may be the Storm's experience that takes them through. Some of the Dream team - especially McCoughtry - lost their composure tonight at points, which took them out of their game.

For now, keeping her head seems to be McCoughtry's Achilles heel, but she's only 23. If she's this good now, just think how she'll be in five years. It's scary.

The biggest props tonight go to the Key Arena crowd in Seattle. They waved rally towels, wore green, screamed and yelled even during halftime (I was talking to one of my best friends on the phone then) when nothing was going on, and stood for the entirety of the last three minutes of the game. In other words, they were being fans.

If Seattle wins it, even in four, it'll be in Atlanta. Not as fun as being at home, but that trophy will look good anywhere.

PS - WNBA reffing still sucks.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The day before game two

Commentary and analysis of yesterday's game one by......Lisa Leslie and Rick Mahorn? I'm glad they made up and all, but that combo still makes me blink.


The All-WNBA first and second teams were announced today:


Player Team Position Points

Lauren Jackson Seattle Storm Forward-Center 195
Tamika Catchings Indiana Fever Forward 191
Sylvia Fowles Chicago Sky Center 125
Cappie Pondexter New York Liberty Guard 193
Diana Taurasi Phoenix Mercury Guard 185


Player Team Position Points

Crystal Langhorne Washington Mystics Forward-Center 111
Angel McCoughtry Atlanta Dream Forward-Center 119
Tina Charles Connecticut Sun Center 86
Sue Bird Seattle Storm Guard 123
Katie Douglas Indiana Fever Guard 30

What a load of crap. Put McCoughtry and Charles on the first team and Fowles and Pondexter on the second and then it would be legit.


The Seattle Storm took time out today to host a fitness clinic at magical Key Arena for an elementary school. Now that's my kinda field trip. Two more photos.


W Pres Donna Orender says, among other things, that league play will begin June 4 next year and maintain a later start.


Numerous coaches participated in the third annual 4Kay Golf Classic in Texas today. The event honors the late Kay Yow. I hope there's a good feature story to read somewhere tomorrow.


Oregon assistant coach Kai Felton tweeted today that the scoreboard at the University's new arena is the second biggest in the nation. Who has the biggest? 'Cause that's pretty dang big.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Game 1 deja vu heart attack

Great photo gallery of Seattle-Atlanta game 1 here, starting with Sue Bird's (deja vu) winning shot. Look at all those fans. And they stand up, too. Panoramic view. (Is my envy too obvious?)

Here's the view of that game-winning shot from the other side, along with the Seattle Times' story. My favorite quote:

"It's situations I was put in at a very early age," said Bird, whose only celebration was thrusting her fists in the air after McCougtry missed. "You get more confident the more you do things. At this point in my career, it's something I really enjoy."

There's no substitute for experience, is there?

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's take.

Seattle Times game thread.

Videos of post-game interviews.

The Storm on top of the Space Needle after Friday's flag-raising ceremony.

I can't express how impressed I am with the Dream, and Angel McCoughtry.

Hopefully this finals series will be as exciting, if not more, than last year's. And hopefully scullyfu will give us a game report.

Morning of the first day of the WNBA Finals

While I'm grateful for all the WNBA Finals coverage, I don't feel like sifting through a million publications to find the stories. Fortunately, hoopfeed doesn't feel the same way. A great list of links is here.

By far THE most interesting story of the entire month is this interview with Lisa Leslie, where she makes this candid revelation:

Q.Would you ever consider a comeback?

A.In July, I was asked by the Sparks to come back as a player, but I said no because I’m really enjoying this chapter of my life. I was always able to contribute at a level that was expected of me, and I don’t want to stay out there until I can’t do that anymore, which a lot of athletes do. I don’t want to come back and get my shot blocked, so I will not Brett Favre you with a comeback.

Wow! So the Sparks were so desperate at 5-13 by July 4 that they asked Lisa Leslie to come back to the game????

I'm speechless.

USA Basketball stuff:

The US team has incredible talent, says the Guru.

Coach Geno Auriemma obviously wants the WNBA Finals to be over quickly.

Autralia has Liz Cambage - their answer to Brittney Griner and Tamika Catchings.

Allright - all my Seattle Storm fans have already been up for a while. Let's get this party rollin.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Saturday morning sunshine

For me, fall means pre-season workouts for basketball players and anticipatory waiting from fans. We want to see what our teams have got this year, and who they're signing for next year. Hurry up already!

The Tennessee Lady Vol staff is considering Kiah Stokes for their last remaining scholarship.

Rutgers gets a major recruit.....when's the last time that happened?

More WNBA finals stuff:

The Dream's Alison Bales is back and better than ever.

The Storm's Swin Cash has played just about everywhere in the good old USA.

Interesting tidbits in Atlanta's finals notebook.

The Storm flag was raised atop the Space Needle yesterday, and Lauren Jackson talks about it.

The Storm has a bunch of links to finals-related stories here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday night lights

WNBA stuff:

Chicago Sky coach Steven Key was let go - I mean he resigned - today.

Sparks co-owner Kathy Goodman talks about the team's past season and the future (by yours truly).

The Atlanta Dream defied the odds to make it to the finals in their third year.

Then again, the Storm defied the odds to make it to the finals in their fourth year. Now they just have experience.

Slamonline discusses how Seattle and Atlanta got this far.

USA Basketball, back in (almost) full effect:

They arrived at the training center this week short.....on everything.

Great practice quotes.

Maya Moore got to talk and hang with her basketball shero Tamika Catchings.

They whomped Australia tonight, which is surprising. They play again tomorrow; here's the schedule.

High school:

ESPN's Chris Hansen profiles super baller Elizabeth Williams and her five college choices.


Surprising male basketball news: Tennessee men's coach Bruce Pearl is penalized for misleading the NCAA during an investigation. Wow.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Storm flag will fly from the top of the Space Needle

The Storm flag will be hosted atop the Space Needle in Seattle tomorrow.

Atlanta Dream owner Kathy Betty talks to Slamonline about realizing her aspirations.

Dream forward Angel McCoughtry will chat live tomorrow on ESPN's SportsNation.

On the college tip......and I'm already so excited for this season to get underway!

Baylor and Connecticut will go at it nice and early this year - Nov. 16 at the State Farm Women's Tip-Off Classic.

10 questions with Jennifer Azzi.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Looking ahead to the WNBA finals

I guess I wasn't the only one who either picked Atlanta and Seattle for the final, or thinks that the Dream is the best matchup for the league dominator.

"Guru" Mel Greenberg had a premonition similar to mine.

Brian Agler and Lauren Jackson both think Atlanta is better than Phoenix, who they beat in two games for the West title.

ESPN's Mechelle Voepel thinks it'll be a good matchup.

And ESPN's Joy Hollingsworth encourages young athletes to watch and learn from the WNBA.....especially Jackson and Atlanta's Angel McCoughtry.

Candace Parker had what for a what??!!

Apparently Candace Parker had surgery today for a torn lateral meniscus. The only thing missing from that and the Sparks' release is when and how she did that. I pay PRETTY good attention, and I know how to work an Internet search engine, and I don't recall or see any news of that.

What gives?

I always thought Parker would become one of the greatest in the game, but now I'm worried. She's been through way more injuries and setbacks than the average 24-year-old basketball player. Time will tell.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

It's Seattle vs. Atlanta

Atlanta beat New York tonight, 105-93, to take the Eastern Conference championship in only two games. What is it with two games this year?

I did make a prediction when the season first began that Seattle and Atlanta would be the two teams left standing in the end. It was my instinct, and my instinct is always right.

One thing I didn't anticipate, though, was how good Angel McCoughtry would become. I didn't realize the full range of her skills until last year's ROY award. Tonight's 42 points sets a playoff record for the year. The thing about McCoughtry that makes me think she'll be winning the MVP award soon is that she makes it look so easy. All the great players do.

So now we wait until Sunday for the Finals to begin. In the meantime.......

Sue Bird has made the fourth quarter her own this season.

USA Today attempts a positive piece on female WNBA owners, but the measuring stick ends up being "when are women going to buy a men's team"? I guess they tried.

The New York Times makes a shrewd case that the WNBA missed a marketing opportunity.

Two of Tennessee's biggest recruits are comin' to campus for visits.

Monday, September 6, 2010

YOUR WNBA finals schedule

2010 WNBA Finals Schedule

WNBA Finals

Seattle vs. New York/Atlanta Local EDT National Broadcast

Game 1 - Sun Sept. 12 New York/Atlanta at Seattle 12:00 PM 3:00 PM ABC
Game 2 - Tues Sept. 14 New York/Atlanta at Seattle 6:00PM 9:00PM ESPN2
Game 3 - Thurs Sept. 16 Seattle at New York/Atlanta 8:00PM 8:00PM ESPN2
Game 4* - Sun Sept. 19 Seattle at New York/Atlanta 3:00PM 3:00PM ESPN2
Game 5* - Tues Sept. 21 New York/Atlanta at Seattle 9:00PM 9:00PM ESPN2

* if necessary

OOO, we got one game on ABC. *sarcasm*

In the quiet of a holiday morning, two items

Terrific video of the fan frenzy that awaited the Seattle Storm at SeaTac Airport last night.

Mechelle Voepel wonders why some college fans don't make the connection and like the WNBA, too. I've wondered how "fans" could only like one segment of the game for the longest time, too; it's one of my pet peeves.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

How sweet it is for the Western Conference champions Seattle Storm

If you didn't see it yourself, you heard about Sue Bird's long three-shot that won the Western Conference Championship for the Seattle Storm today. Of course it was a team effort, but someone's always been ready to step up and save the day for the Storm this season in all of their close wins. Seattle is not only cohesive as hell, but they are mentally tough. Their 28-6 regular season record was no accident.

Now they have a full week to rest and practice before hosting game one of the WNBA Finals next Sunday at Key Arena. Their opponent is still being decided, but Atlanta pulled out game one of the Eastern Conference finals this afternoon. They beat the Liberty 81-75 behind Angel McCoughtry's 21 points.

Mechelle Voepel's take on ATL-NY.

The Storm fought back from a deficit today to win their game, and Atlanta has fought back after starting the season in blazing fashion and then losing several games and falling in the standings. That shared trait of persistence would make for a good finals series, and with all due respect to the Liberty, Atlanta would be the better opponent for Seattle.

Game two between the Dream and Liberty will be Tuesday.

The quote of the day is from the Seattle Times story, linked above:

"We're an old team," said Bird, who finished with 16 points and eight assists. "Any days where we don't have games are beneficial for us. It's huge."

That's funny.

Update at 10:45 p.m......Swin Cash just posted this picture of hundreds of Storm fans at SeaTac Airport to welcome the team home as they got off their 10:15 p.m. flight. Pretty sweet - and apparently they won't settle down, according to some twitter tweets.

Almost every WNBA team tells their crowd at some point that they have "the best fans in the league." But only the Storm is telling the truth.

Storm broadcaster Dick Fain predicted the comeback.

Back to school time means........

.....that the new issue of ESPN Rise is out. Just got the current issue at my school this past week, and it's girls from cover to cover. Freakin fantastic.

In the online issue, the piece on burnout is good, as is the one on good coaching. It features, of course, Pat Summitt in naming five qualities of effective coaches:

1. They care about your education and development as a person
As a high school athlete, it can be easy to get caught up in competing. With most of your time devoted to playing the sport, it can effortlessly become the main priority in your life. During my high school career, basketball seemed to be the only thing I was known for. I quickly learned if I didn’t maintain good grades, it would be much harder to play in college. My coach at Mt. Miguel (Spring Valley, Calif.), Robbie Sandoval, took it upon himself to ensure that I maintained an above average GPA. I noticed that the same effort he applied to me on the court, he applied to me in the classroom and in life.

2. They care about your development as a player
Just as my coach was conscious of my growth in the classroom, he was even more mindful of my growth as a player. There are times when a player is good when she gets to high school but never gets better. I believe that a great coach is never satisfied with a player's game staying the same. A great coach not only forces a player to work hard, but motivates her to work harder. Coach Rob made sure that every year I added a different element to my game. He did a lot more than help me get better; he made me want to be better.

3. They ride you the most during practice and in games
I quickly learned that if I wanted to be a great basketball player, I couldn’t look to my coach, or anyone for that matter, to tell me I was a good player. My coach would hardly ever tell me that I did something right. Whether it was in practice or a championship game, he made it apparent that there was something else that I could be doing to help the team. I may not have understood why he was so hard me then, but in the long run, I thank him for it because he helped me surpass my potential as a high school athlete.

4. They care about winning
I always hear the phrase, “Winning isn’t everything.” I understand that winning isn’t everything, but at the same time, no one plays to lose. If a coach is comfortable with losing, then he or she is not a very good coach. A great coach can learn from every game and apply it in preparation to win the next one. My coach in high school showed me that you don’t need the tallest players or the best players to win a game. With no one over 5-9, we were able to reach the San Diego section title game all four years of my high school career. Coach Rob understood how to utilize our individual strengths, as well as team strengths, to make us better. Simply put, it’s easier to be noticed by colleges if you win. Being seen is what will, essentially, take you to the next level.

5. They understand your goals and put in the effort to get you to the next level.
By the end of my high school career, my coach knew my game better than anyone. He knew how I was in practice, in games and he knew my tendencies. He would communicate with me to understand my goals and where I wanted to take my game. He talked to countless of coaches to help me figure out where I would best fit. He was also very involved in my AAU basketball team. Not only did he put in the effort to work with other people to ensure my success, but he also worked with me individually in areas that I needed to improve my game.

And who knew Queen Latifah was a high school sports star?

WNBA playoffs crawling along

I'm not sure why they're scheduling the playoff games so far apart this year, but the finals round has barely begun. At this rate, they'll be playing for the championship on Halloween.

The Storm takes on Phoenix at noon PDT.

The Dream and the Liberty battle at 4:30 p.m. PDT.

Personally, I'm hoping for a Seattle-Atlanta final; that would be fun to watch.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Need skills? Call Lisa Willis

Los Angeles native Lisa Willis is introduced in 2007, during her stint with the Sparks.


Lisa Willis was doing more than getting into her usual pickup games at gyms around Los Angeles this summer. She was also on the hunt for young people to train.

The Bruin-turned-Spark-turned-Liberty team member was checking out a high school club ball tournament at Mater Dei High School in late July, and talking to kids on the sidelines of basketball courts at gyms. This is because Willis is jumping into retirement with a lofty mission: she wants to try and help save girls and women's basketball.

Need a jumper? is the name of Willis' business, and her primary focus is to help young players develop basketball skills. She said that over the last few years she's noticed that girls lack fundamental skills, and it's effecting the state of the game.

"It seems like there's not a whole lot of player development going on - the kids are just out there playing," Willis said. "On the whole, they aren't being taught many fundamentals."

Why? Willis says that for one, boys and men are more likely to go to the gym and workout, because it's "cool" for them to do so. Secondly, not as many coaches work with girls on skills or conditioning. A third reason is that there is a lack of old-school work ethic in some sectors.

"On my old club ball team, everyone worked hard to get on the top squad," she said. "Now some of the parents whose daughters don't make the top team take their daughter and start their own team. There's no work ethic."

Willis worries about this.

"I want longevity for women's basketball, and if we don't take care of this issue, there won't be anything to look forward to in the future," she said.

Despite the name of her business, Willis works on everything with clients: shots, layups, dribbling skills, positioning the ball on offense, defensive tricks and offensive moves.

"It depends on how advanced the player is that I'm working with as to what we work on," Willis said. "If they're advanced, I like to give them moves to use in a game."

Willis tries to pass on her own self-described "high basketball IQ" to trainees, because it's not enough to just know the moves.

"If you don't understand the game, that's a problem," she said.

Willis works with both groups and individuals. Here's her self-written biography:

Lisa Camille Willis was born June 13, 1984 to Robert and Sandra Willis in Long Beach, California. The youngest of five children, Lisa started playing basketball early on in life. She began playing in winter basketball leagues at the YMCA and spring leagues at neighborhood parks, and Lisa soon realized that she and basketball were a perfect match. At the time, Lisa was adamant that she would grow up to play in the NBA as the WNBA had not yet existed. As a result, her parents recognized the important investment of personal training for Lisa with distinguished players; at nine years of age, Lisa began working with some of the best players and coaches California had to offer. Lisa’s parents saw dividends during her high school career as she was awarded California’s Sophomore Player of the Year, a Nike All American, and played a vital role in her high school team winning multiple LA City Championships, State Championships, and back to back National Championships. All her hard work paid off when she received a full scholarship to attend the university of her dreams.

As a highly sought after student-athlete, Lisa chose to attend UCLA. There, her accomplishments remain celebrated: Lisa continues to hold the PAC 10 Conference records in steals and made three point shots. After having a remarkable junior year at UCLA, Lisa was invited to tryout for the 2005 USA Collegiate Team. Not only did Lisa make the team (only twelve college players across the country made the team) but she was instrumental in bringing home the gold metal from Izmir, Turkey. After earning her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from UCLA she had aspirations of going on to law school; however, Lisa soon realized that the WNBA would, instead, be her next step. Lisa was the 2006 WNBA overall 5th draft pick to the Los Angeles Sparks. Lisa also played two seasons with the New York Liberty. In addition to the WNBA, Lisa has spent her off seasons playing professional basketball in various European countries, including Russia, Greece, Turkey, and Latvia; most recently she won the 2010 Latvian Championship.

As Lisa transitions to her new basketball role, she continues to recognize the need for player development. Lisa has provided basketball mentorship since her days in college. In 2009, her desire to focus on youth development grew momentously, and she founded NEED A JUMPER Personal Training. Lisa’s youth development program not only focuses on the enhancement of players’ physical abilities and talents, but nurtures the growth of their “basketball IQ.” In other words, players are taught how to think critically about the game of basketball and develop mastery of the science of basketball, similar to that of a chest player. Nevertheless, Lisa is renowned for her shooting abilities and she teaches youth all she knows about becoming the most accurate shooter and an all around threat on the court. In addition to individual and group training sessions, NEED A JUMPER Personal Training provides motivational speaking, a regime of independent conditioning, post-game assessments, and community basketball camps and clinics.

Willis can be reached at:

Her number is: (562) 899-1993

History of basketball at 1,200 Indiana high schools

Fascinating look at the history of women's hoops by one author. I need to get this book.......and write one myself about West Coast girls hoops.

Friday, September 3, 2010

It's all about college and high school hoops today

Former Lady Vols assistant coach Daedra Charles-Furlow talks to Maria M. Cornelius about her fight with breast cancer.

Though some players have left, the future is still bright at Louisville.

Ariel Massengale's hometown newspaper prophesizes that she'll be somewhat of a target in her final high school season since committing to Tennessee.

More on the bruisin' SoCal threesome that will hit UCLA in a year.

The Houston Independent School District has named its first female athletic director.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Huge day for the Storm

It couldn't get any better for the Seattle Storm today.

Lauren Jackson won MVP.

Brian Agler is Coach of the Year.

Then tonight, the Storm took game one in the Western Conference Finals. Behind the MVP's record-setting double-double, the Storm beat the Mercury 82-74.

Jackson said her third MVP award is the most special because of the Storm's season this year, in which they went 28-6. Interview.

On the "what the hell?" tip: can anyone explain what the first two paragraphs of this piece mean? It sounds like an undergraduate position paper intro.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

First day of the month tidbits

Interesting how the LA Times is the only source privy to this information. There are two things I could say, but I'll keep them to myself.

The University of Oregon is excited to have their first Duck in the WNBA playoffs since Cathrine Kraayeveld. Taylor Lilley is in the playoffs, y'all.

Hoopfeed had even more great links than usual today. I don't know how she does it.

ESPN's Mark Lewis has some sage advice for seniors getting ready to take their college visits.

Liberty advance to Eastern Conference finals, but Fever fans mad at refs

I didn't see the game, but I read about it twice. Well, three times if you count all the angry posts on twitter. Seems that fans are pretty pissed at referees Lamont Simpson, Denise Brooks and Eric Brewton.

"Home cooked refs," "Catch couldn't buy a call" and "you'd think we'd have better refs than this by year 14" were come of the comments I saw.

Those who watched the game: did the refs influence the outcome? Speak.