Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sparks player appearances today

OK, I can't resist; here are a couple pics from today's player appearances in Los Angeles. Candace Parker was pimpin Pirates Booty at one location, and Delisha Milton-Jones and Ticha Penicheiro were slinging Jamba Juice down the street.

A slideshow with all the pictures will be posted tomorrow on

Candace Parker signs an autograph for a fan today.

Delisha Milton-Jones and Ticha Penicheiro crack each other up.....nothing new there.



Last night Silver Stars guard Becky Hammon scored her 5,000th point. The Connecticut Sun are also in the playoffs.

This morning, Sparks forward Delisha Milton-Jones appeared on KTLA Los Angeles. This afternoon she and teammate Ticha Penicheiro made an appearance at Jamba Juice in Santa Monica. Just down the road, Candace Parker was signing autographs at a West Los Angeles grocery store. I got great pictures at both events, and the minute they are up on hoopfeed tomorrow, I will link them here.

Today's Dishin and Swishin focuses on Katie Smith and Crystal Robinson.

The Mystics' Monique Curry is set to return to action after an ACL tear in the off-season.

College hoops:

Look at this juicy Monday night TV schedule.

Joy Cheek has replaced Trisha Stafford-Odom at Duke.

Tennessee will return to play in the Maggie Dixon Classic in New York this year.

Texas A&M is leaving the Big 12 next year. It's a big leap.

Maryland Coach Brenda Frese has signed a contract extension good through 2017.

Pat Summitt:

Tamika Catchings said the Tennessee coach not only made her a better player, but a better person.

Summitt and Tennessee will walk an unfamiliar path.


ESPN's Mark Lewis drops his latest pearls of wisdom on recruiting.

Sportswoman of the Year?

The Women's Sports Foundation gives out a Sportswoman of the Year award. There are 12 finalists, and guess who's one of them? Maya Moore. She's helped the Lynx have a heck of a year.

Vote Maya Moore.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hot WNBA items

The race for the playoffs is in full effect, and an exciting two weeks is ahead.

LSU alumni rule the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week spots: Sylvia Fowles and Seimone Augustus, respectively.

The Sparks player appearances continue. Wednesday Candace Parker will be at Ralphs with the Pirates Booty Pirate. At the same time, just down the road, Delisha Milton-Jones and Ticha Penicheiro will be mixing Jamba Juice.

Funny story....when Candice Wiggins ruptured her Achilles last year, her mother said she probably needed the break because she "hadn't sat down since she was 10."

Mercedes Russell is at the top of ESPN's class of 2013 rankings

Look who's on top of ESPN's class of 2013 list: Mercedes Russell of Springfield, Oregon.

1 Mercedes Russell
2 Kaela Davis
3 Diamond DeShields
4 Taya Reimer
5 Rebecca Greenwell
6 Linnae Harper
7 Kendall Cooper
8 Allisha Gray
9 Jannah Tucker
10 Tyler Scaife
11 Ieshia Small
12 Ronni Williams
13 Jessica Jackson
14 Kailee Johnson
15 Stephanie Mavunga
16 Erica McCall
17 Alexis Brown
18 Jessica Washington
19 Sydney Umeri
20 Alaina Coates
21 Halle Washington
22 Kianna Holland
23 Lindsay Allen
24 Rebekah Dahlman
25 Courtney Range
26 Shayla Cooper
27 Briana Day
28 Jada Terry
29 Antania Hayes
30 Kristina Nelson
31 Kelsey Plum
32 Oderah Chidom
33 Teanna Muldrow
34 Kendall Waters
35 Nigia Greene
36 Imani Wright
37 Marques Webb
38 Adrienne Motley
39 Tyshell King
40 Kai James
41 Celeste Edwards
42 Diamond Lockhart
43 Nia Coffey
44 Breyana Mason
45 Jordan Reynolds
46 Makayla Epps
47 Vanessa Smith
48 Candace Adams
49 Aliyah Cooley
50 Roshunda Johnson
51 Shanae Armbrister
52 Kylee Smith
53 Jadda Buckley
54 Tanisha Brown
55 Christen Inman
56 Tiffany Suarez
57 Breanna Hayden
58 Nina Davis
59 A'lexus Harrison
60 Peyton Whitted

The whole list is loaded with talent. 2013 is a heck of a class.

Rankings explanation.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The word "action" doesn't even get close

What a game, but the Storm eeked one out over the Sparks, 65-63. Kristi Toliver was trying to steal the ball from Sue Bird and fouled her instead, sending an excellent free throw shooter to the line. Tina Thompson put up a shot at the buzzer, but it clanked off the rim.

The Storm have to get one more win to reach the playoffs, and their next game is Los Angeles.

Earlier today, the Shock won AGAIN, besting the Sun 83-72.

The Sky squeaked by the Liberty 74-73.

The Mercury posted an 86-79 win over the Mystics.

The Lynx clinched the top seed in the west with a 72-61 victory over the Silver Stars.

In between natural disasters and things


The Connecticut Sun avoided Hurricaine Irene by being out of town. They will play for a post-season berth.

The Lynx are on the verge of capturing their best record ever.

Love this piece on how Sheryl Swoopes' comeback season has been going this summer, almost as much as the fact that she's making a comeback at 40.


China will be going to the Olympics next year, after a heart-stopping 65-62 victory yesterday against Korea in the FIBA Asian Championship.


Shaquala Williams took a high school coaching job in Oregon last month, but has now resigned to take an assistant coaching position at Sacramento State.

The University of Southern Mississippi has reported secondary violations, including some in women's basketball.

Pat Summitt:

Alzheimer's experts are praising Pat Summitt for her courage and candor in dealing with the disease.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pat Summitt: what they're saying

What they said this week about her early-onset dementia diagnosis.

Support is coming from the WNBA, too.

College basketball needs Pat Summitt, one columnist says.

The family of former Vol Lauren Avant has reached out to Pat Summitt.


The WNBA will ask fans to vote on the top 15 moments in league history. Here are the nominations so far.

Shock win, cloud Lisa Leslie announcement

Tulsa beat the Sparks last night at Staples Center, 77-75. They snapped a 20-game losing streak.

At halftime, the Sparks had announced that former star center Lisa Leslie is now part of the team's ownership group. In her acceptance, Leslie said that "women need to support women." That's so, so booyah.

In the meantime, Candace Parker wore her orange shoes to support Pat Summitt, and pledges to continue fundraising for the Alzheimer's Association. (Lailaa keeps getting cuter, somehow)

On that tip, Kara Lawson of the Connecticut Sun was inspired enough by the "wear orange day" to lead her team over the Mercury.

Friday, August 26, 2011

"Wear orange" day a success

People all over the country were wearing orange today to support Pat Summitt. This included, of course, the Tennessee campus, where a huge percentage of the student population had it on.

Pat Summitt took time to thank fans for the love and support.

Little Lailaa Williams wore her half Tennessee/half Sparks jersey to the game at Staples Center tonight.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Good tidbits

Pat Summitt:

The longtime coach is finding support from so many of her former players.

This includes Semeka Randall and Vonda Ward.

Seattle Times columnist Steve Kelley has a hypothetical situation.


ESPN explains their new class of 2012 rankings.

Rutgers gets verbals from a pair of New Jersey sisters.


Tamika Catchings received the July WNBA Cares Community Assist Award. This is her seventh time getting the honor.

The Seattle Storm has had issue after issue this season. Now it's Swin Cash's shooting slump.

USA Basketball:

Skylar Diggins talks about her recent experience competing in China.

Tomorrow is "wear orange to support Pat Summitt day"

Show your support tomorrow by donning orange. It's also, appropriately, the anniversary of the first women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y.

You can also send a shout out to the legendary coach.

If you've got a cool T-shirt like this one, wear it tomorrow. Or any orange will do.

Ebony Hoffman appearance

Above: Sparks forward Ebony Hoffman signs autographs for fans at an appearance today at a downtown LA grocery store. The promotion was to give away samples of Pirates Booty (a snack product), hence the pirate.

Hoffman was her usual good-spirited, funny self.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A heart load of Pat Summitt thoughts

I've been wrestling with my thoughts on Pat Summitt for the last day and a half. What to think? What to say? Coach Patricia Sue Head Summitt is the one living hero I've had in my life - and that's been for most of my life.

I've got a framed picture of her and myself (the second time I met her) in my living room. I've got the Pat Summitt "pictorial retrospective" book on my bookcase. It sits right above the hand-written note she sent me when I mailed her a congratulatory card after her 1,000th win in 2009. I've got a Tennessee key chain; my car boasts Tennessee Vols license plate frames. For years, Pat Summitt has been among the people that I pray for each morning.

The first time I met her, I had to compose myself because I could barely speak. My kids were laughing at me because they'd never seen me like that before; they know how unimpressed I am with celebrities.

The second time I met Pat Summitt, I was cool as a cucumber. I gave her a gift and she studied it, then looked at me and asked me to write my name and address down. My Tennessee friends said, Pat's going to send you a card. She always sends thank you cards.

And yesterday, many friends hit me up to see if I was OK. My dad even called to check on me. I was a bit numb.

I guess like many, I took Pat Summitt for granted to an extent. She has been the only coach the Tennessee Lady Vols have ever had; she took over when I was in second grade. This column begins to address that point: Pat Summitt has built a program that has stood the test of time when others haven't. It took her 13 years from the time she was hired in 1974 before she and her team claimed a championship. These days, coaches are fired much sooner than that. Pat Summitt has always been demanding, but she's always been patient, too.

This column bottom lines for me one crucial issue: "She’s vulnerable; therefore we’re all vulnerable. An unsettling reminder.......Like Pat, we are mortal. When Pat gets sick, we all feel sickened – and reminded that we, too, will die."

It's always extraordinarily shocking when a strong person falls ill. You think, if it can happen to them, it can happen to anyone.

My mother has Alzheimer's Disease. And we all know that if Alzheimer's was a person, Pat Summitt would beat it to death. But it's an unpredictable beast, and there's not much doctors or patients can do to predict how it will go. I advise all the Lady Vols, Lady Vol fans and Pat Summitt fans to just keep an open mind. Don't expect her to rise up and slay the disease, but don't expect her to suddenly vanish from the public eye, either. Keep her in your thoughts and prayers, and enjoy every single second of her on TV, at Thompson-Boling Arena, or other arenas around the country, for as long as she's there.

They don't make Pat Summitts anymore, unfortunately. But instead of staying sad about that - and this whole situation - I'm going to do what the legend herself would do, and that is remain in a place of extreme gratefulness for her. She paved the way for women's basketball, effected countless lives, created one of the biggest fan bases in college history and has had more wins than any college coach, ever. She set the standard.

I am so thankful for her, and for being able to witness her achievements during my lifetime. I hope she can feel that love coming from all over the country.

Write to Coach Summitt and her incredibly strong son Tyler at:

Lady Vols Basketball
207E Thompson-Boling Assembly Center and Arena
1600 Phillip Fulmer Way
Knoxville, TN 37996-4610

Other happenings

ESPN's best of (club ball):

The breakout stars.

Top 40 best teams.


The Minnesota Lynx handed the Tulsa Shock their 19th loss last night. That's a franchise, and probably league record.

Giving it up for all of us over-40 women: Taj McWilliams-Franklin starts for the Western Conference-leading Lynx, thankyaverramuch.

Dishin and Swishin....can the Storm and Dream return to the finals?

Katie Smith is preparing for basketball retirement. She's getting a degree that will make her a nutritionist. That's so booyah.

Larry Burnett blogs on my road dog Ebony Hoffman. Nice read.


Sherri Coale is a throwback coach.

Trisha Stafford-Odom gets on board at North Carolina. Duke can't seem to keep coaches.....

More on Pat Summitt

It doesn't feel any better today than it did yesterday.

The sports world reacts to the news that the legend has early-onset dementia.

Tara VanDerveer was "numbed."

Storm coaches and players were saddened.

WNBA reactions.

One blogger has a nice tribute to Coach Summitt.

Dan Wetzel doesn't think Coach will be stopped.

Sean Cartell shares some nice memories.

Wins, glares do not begin to define Summitt.

Update at 8 p.m. PDT:

Support continues to pour in for the legendary coach.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pat Summitt diagnosed with early-onset dementia

The news broke late this morning, that coaching legend Pat Summitt has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia.

Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post has the best story on this tragedy:

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Pat Summitt’s doctors are lucky they are still standing. When the first neurologist told her she had symptoms of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, she almost dropped him with one punch. When a second one advised her to retire immediately, she said, “Do you have any idea who you’re dealing with?”

This is precious:

When the season ended, Summitt decided to visit the Mayo Clinic for a full examination. For three days she underwent a battery of tests, an MRI exam, a PET scan, a neuro-psychological evaluation, and a spinal tap. After the spinal tap, she was told to remain lying down for 20 minutes. Sitting still is not something that comes naturally to her. Five minutes later she announced, “I feel fine,” and jumped off the table. A nurse looked at Tyler, and lifted an eyebrow. “I’m not going to be the one to stop her,” the nurse said.


“They didn’t test for leadership,” Tyler says. “They didn’t test for relationships. They didn’t test for basketball IQ. None of those things are on the test, it was just math problems. They asked questions she wouldn’t know on a regular basis. So I don’t think the test applies to what she does as a coach.”


Through it all, there has always been a sense of centeredness in Summitt. She is like a marble pillar, ramrod straight, that seems to have stood for a thousand years, while everything around it falls.

“Everyone has always wanted to know what Pat’s really like,” DeMoss said. “The word I’ve always used is ‘resolve.’ Pat has more resolve than any one I’ve ever known. She has a deep, deep inner strength.”

This part had me crying:

Over the last few days, with the clarity of her diagnosis and decision to go public, Summitt has recovered her confidence. More often than not, it is she who comforts others, as usual. Her staff have grief-stretched looks around their eyes, and seem quietly destroyed under their skins. Every so often you find one of them has ducked into her laundry room to weep. It’s Summitt who puts her arms around them and talks quietly into their ear. “I don’t want you worrying about me,” she says. Strong has always been her natural, preferred state.

Coach Summitt released a statement, via video.

Reactions from former Lady Vols, coaches and sports staff were quick.

Geno Auriemma reaction, and others.

Kara Lawson discusses the diagnoses.

Nikki Caldwell statement.

Vol fans are stunned, but supportive.

What does this diagnosis mean for the best coach of all time?

ESPN's Graham Hays and Mechelle Voepel each weigh in on the matter. (Graham Hays is worth gold...)

Coach Summitt is ready to do battle.

Monday, August 22, 2011

WNBA players of the week

The Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week are none other than Angel McCoughtry and Candace Parker. A heckuva debut for Parker, who had missed the last seven weeks after tearing her meniscus.

Sparks fans, take heart: team members are starting to do appearances. Delisha Milton-Jones showed up at a Whole Foods last week. The Sparks are giving fans a bit more notice for the next two events - Ebony Hoffman this Thursday and Parker a week from Wednesday, both at a local grocery store. I will be stopping by to take pictures, etc.

Other WNBA news:

Pretty soon players will be looking like race car drivers. Tomorrow night, the Boost Mobile logo will appear on the jerseys of 10 teams.

High school:

Today is another heavy committment day.

ESPN highlights the specialists of summer.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

USA 101, Taiwan 66

Gold medal, baby.

Nnemkadi Ogwumike with 24 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals.


Game photos!

Whoa, that's some hops.

Medal ceremony photos!

This one made me laugh.


The USA women have made us proud once again. Congrats, players and coaches!

Tales of two tall ballers: Lauren Jackson and Candace Parker

It's easy to see the differences between Lauren Jackson and Candace Parker.

Jackson was drafted into the WNBA at age 19, and had already played pro - and in an Olympics. Parker is the product of one of the USA's best college basketball programs, and won two championships while she was there. Jackson was shaky at first in the WNBA, and it took her three seasons before she collected her first MVP honor. Parker garnered the title in her rookie year, and has been plagued by physical issues ever since.

Different paths aside.....when it comes to heart, these two women are made of the same stuff.

It seems fitting that both Jackson and Parker were injured at about the same time this season, and returned to the court the same week. Constant injury has been a theme in the lives of both athletes.

Jackson, 30, has been hurt so many times that I've lost count. She has had to sit out during the playoffs, during the regular season, and has had countless surgeries. It seems like there is always something up with her.

Ditto Parker, who is 25. Her setbacks began with a torn ACL prior to her senior year of high school, and have included a dislocated shoulder, a pregnancy and a torn meniscus.

Fans of both of these athletes have reacted differently to their circumstances. Seattle Storm fans have worried after each injury that Jackson's career and playing days were finished. Los Angeles Sparks fans have suggested that Parker should find another team to play for, and/or that her career will be short-lived.

Jackson and Parker each think differently.

Last night Jackson, in her first game back, started for the Storm and finished with 20 points and eight rebounds. Parker returned last Tuesday and didn't start, but put up 15 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. She was back performing tipoff duties two nights later against Indiana, and finished with 18 points. Each athlete picked up exactly where she had left off before becoming injured. More importantly, the passion each have for the game was evident.

Parker's passion is a little more obvious; she was on the court this week talking to teammates on the floor and in huddles, taking back the leadership role she has been accustomed to since her Tennessee days. She argued with a referee and got tossed.

Jackson is more likely to roll her eyes when three players are hanging off of her when she's under the basket. Her passion comes out in swear words uttered walking up the court on a dead ball, after which she lowers her shoulder and gets it done.

Both athletes are stronger than some of their fans give them credit for being - and I don't necessarily mean physically strong. The ability to come back over and over again has more to do with mental strength than anything else.

I have been one of those fans on two occasions who thought that Jackson's injuries would cause her to hang up her shoes. That had more to do with the severity of the injuries than with her, as Jackson's ailments have always been major - the stuff that ends the careers of other athletes.

Parker's injuries have also been of the catastrophic kind. And while I haven't thought her career would end, I have worried that her chances of greatness will be lessened.

Yet time and time again, both women have proven all of us wrong. The fact that both showed up again this week and played like they'd never left underscores the point. Both Jackson and Parker had worked very hard in rehab for seven weeks to get back. Their intense play, yelling and the urgency in their steps showed us just how much they had ached to play while sitting on the bench.

Actions always speak louder than words, and Jackson and Parker have shown us what they're made of time and time again: steeliness and determination with a love of the game that runs to the marrow of the bone. I respect that more than I can put into words, because both of them have enough money where they don't necessarily need to play; they could hang up the shoes. The fact is they want to play; can't stand not to play.

I have a hunch that despite the gloom and doom of some fans, that both Jackson and Parker still have a while left in their careers. The mental toughness of each wouldn't let them do otherwise, because the strength of their respective wills is even stronger than their bodies.

Lucky for us.

WUG team wins the gold!

The game just ended and there's no story yet - just pictures. But the US prevailed over Taiwan, 101-66. USABasketball tweets that Nnemkadi Ogwumike lead her team with 22 points, while Skylar Diggins added 19, Elena Delle Donne put up 18, and Chiney Ogwumike added 10.

Scoreboard picture.

Right now, the US is getting ready to receive their medals.

WOOT! Now that's the way to end the summer.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Three close ones and a blowout

Watching tonight's WNBA action proved to be a workout in three of the four cases.


First there was the controversial foul called at the end of the Sky-Mystics game:

The Sky trailed by one when the Mystics' Matee Ajavon missed a pair of free throws and the ball went out of bounds to the Sky with 2.5 seconds left. After Chicago inbounded, Prince crossed halfcourt and pulled up for a long jumper.

Ajavon contested the shot as the final buzzer sounded with the referees signaling a foul. After reviewing the tape, the officials sent Prince to the line for three free throws and put 0.7 on the clock. Prince hit the first two and missed the third on purpose. The buzzer sounded as the teams fought for control of the rebound.

Sky won, 71-70.


Then there was the thrilling finish to the Storm's 63-62 win over the Liberty.

The Storm trailed for most of the second half, but consecutive three-pointers by Sue Bird and Katie Smith put Seattle up by one with 1:12 to go. Bird missed a shot and center Ashley Robinson leaped up to tip the ball back to a teammate.

New York center Kia Vaughn missed a long jumper with 6.9 seconds, and then teammate Essence Carson stole an inbounds pass and began racing down the court towards the basket. Bird caught up to her and stripped the ball from her under the basket as time expired.

Seattle Times story.

Before the heart-stopping finish, Storm center Lauren Jackson had returned for her first game since having hip surgery in June. Tonight she put up 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds. She also started the game, and performed tipoff duties.


The Mercury rallied to beat the Silver Stars 87-81. They did it with Penny Taylor's monster 28-point performance (16 in the fourth quarter). And they did it without Diana Taurasi, who sat out with back spasms.

Phoenix is second in the West, but only by one game over the Storm.


In defeating the Sparks 87-68, the Lynx clinched a playoff berth and will probably be Western Conference champions. Their last appearance was 2004, when they lost in the first round to eventual champs the Storm.

I remember the last game of that round well, because I was in tears. You see, the Storm really sucked their first two years, in 2000 and 2001, and they weren't much better in 2002 and 2003. We season ticket holders sat there for loss after loss after loss, and there were times in Key Arena the first two years when you could hear a pin drop because there weren't many other fans around. But we kept coming. Then the Storm started getting better.

Who knew at the time that Minnesota would have many struggles of their own before they'd return to the playoffs. So I give props to the Minnesota fans who have been supporting their team all this time: congratulations. Maybe this will be your year like it was the Storm's way back when.

Tuhhhhhhhraveling, part 2

Some collegiate teams have finished their overseas or foreign tours already, and some have just begun.

Those who are done:

Louisville blogged their entire trip to Oregon and Canada. Good stuff.

Texas ended their Vienna trip last weekend.

The Iowa Hawkeyes also kept a trip blog of their European adventure.

Just started:

UConn beat Italian Select yesterday. Stefanie Dolson and freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis each had 22 points.

UCLA defeated the Dutch National team in Rome today.

Most teams have begun fall semester classes already, or are about to - even those schools with a player on the World University Games team. College season is just around the corner........

Friday, August 19, 2011

WUG team beats Australia, heads to gold medal game

Elena Delle Donne has been showing out on the world stage during the World University Games. In this morning's 79-67 defeat of Australia, the Delaware baller posted 22 points and 11 rebounds. Skylar Diggins of Notre Dame added 17 points.

Athletes will have a day off tomorrow, and Sunday they'll face unbeaten Taiwan for the gold medal.


ESPN has detailed updates on where the nation's top recruits are in the process of choosing a school.

WNBA recap; heading toward the playoffs

Maybe there is a chance of making the playoffs for the Sparks after all......Ebony Hoffman POPPED OFF last night for 21 points in LA's 75-70 win over the Fever - Hoffman's former team.

On the other side of the country, it was Cappie Pondexter who pushed the New York Liberty to an 84-81 overtime win over Connecticut.

The Lynx handed the Mystics their biggest loss yet, 81-62.

Minnesota is winning like never before.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

WUG team advances past Finland

Five players were in double figures in this morning's 96-30 route of Finland: Elena Delle Donne and Devereaux Peters with 17 each; Nnemkadi Ogwumike with 12; and Jacki Gemelos and Chiney Ogwumike with 10 each. Now that's what I'm talkin 'bout.

The US will have a tougher time next round, as they face also-unbeaten Australia.


Playoffs are coming up, says the guru.

Candace Parker and the Sparks take on Indiana at home tonight. Candace comeback video.

David Siegel dishes and swishes with Courtney Vandersloot and Shannon "Pee Wee" Johnson.


Amber Cox, who had been the Phoenix Mercury chief of operations for seven years, is now the athletic director at her alma mater, William Woods University.

Sadness......Indiana Wesleyan University basketball player Leah Whittaker has passed away from cancer.

Club ball:

ESPN has their best of summer list.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Staff additions

Guess who's beginning her coaching career? Yolanda Griffith! At Dartmouth.

Longtime basketball evaluator Chris Mennig joins the ASU staff.


Fox Sports' Courtney Jones interviewed Candace Parker before last night's game, in which she returned from an injury.

Former View Park coach takes the reins at Southwest College

Denise Woods breaks the huddle with her View Park team, seen here playing in a tournament last year.


Former USC standout Denise Woods has seen much success coaching View Park Prep High School the last seven years. So it caught some by surprise in May when she left the program to take over as head coach at beleaguered Los Angeles Southwest College.

I caught up with her recently to get the details on her move, and see what she has in store for Southwest.

SF: Did the job find you or did you find it?

DW: I heard about the position becoming available, and I applied because I wasn't sure if the high school (View Park) was going to be open in the fall.

SF: How many returners do you have?

DW: As of now, we have one returner. With the position of head coach being open for so long (since January), many players were unsure if there would even being a season at Southwest, so they decided to leave to go to other junior colleges.

SF: Are you starting the program again from scratch?

DW: Yes, the program will basically start from scratch. We are still looking for players that need a home, however, we preparing to go with whomever we have once the season starts!

SF: What is your coaching philosophy? What do you plan to bring to Southwest?

DW: I am a defensive-minded coach! My coaching philosophy evolves around the four D's: Defense, Discipline, Dedication, and Demeanor. These are the principles I have lived by in my own basketball career, and it is what I will teach my players as well. I am a teacher of the game! I am passionate about basketball, and I want to instill that same passion in my players.

SF: How many years have you been coaching, and where?

DW: I have been coaching for 10 years.... including coaching positions at CSUN, West LA College, View Park Prep, and now LASW. I've coached under some great coaches, so now its great to be able to run my own program an help LASW gain notoriety.

SF: Who will be your assistants?

DW: My assistants will be Krystle Evans (Crenshaw High/UCLA), and Mary Has (Milikan/UC Irvine).

LA Southwest's pre-season begins in November, and conference play starts in January.

Candace Parker ejected in debut; Sparks lose to Dream 84-79

Things didn't go quite as planned in Candace Parker's return to the Sparks last night after a six-week rehab from a torn meniscus:

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker was ejected for arguing with the referees at the end of the Sparks' 84-79 loss to the Atlanta Dream on Tuesday night at Staples Center.

Parker had 15 points and 10 rebounds in her first game back after missing the last seven weeks because of a torn lateral meniscus in her right knee, but her return ended on a sour note as she became visibly upset and gestured wildly at official Felicia Grinter after the referees didn't call a foul on a wild sequence near the end of the close game in which Parker believed both she and her teammates were fouled.

She was called for two technical fouls and ejected from the game with 0.3 seconds left. Dream forward Angel McCoughtry converted the technical foul shots to give the Dream a five-point win.

Though the reffing in the WNBA has improved vastly from a decade ago, I can understand why a player would flip out on an idiot call.

Video of the incident.

Elsewhere in the league last night.........

What? The Lynx lost again? Not only did they lose, they got their butts kicked in Connecticut, 108-79.

Diana Taurasi's last-second heroics put the Mercury over the Storm, 81-79, and prevented Phoenix from suffering a tenth consecutive loss to Seattle.

In the Liberty-Mystics matchup, it was Cappie Pondexter who was the hero for New York. They won 69-66.

The Fever held off the Silver Stars for the 65-63 win.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Before leaving......

Before I head to Staples Center to see Candace Parker's return........

Skylar Diggins lead the USA over Britain, 85-33, with 13 points. Next up for the WUG team is Finland.


The Big 12 and SEC commissioners reportedly had a heated phone conversation last week as rumors circulated about Texas A&M joining the SEC.


In case you hadn't noticed, Sylvia Fowles has been ballin lately. As a result, the Chicago Sky center's stock has risen.

Commitments and visits:

Top St. Mary's soph Mikayla Cowling has already given her commitment to Cal.
World class senior Jordan Adams has scheduled four of her five official visits: USC, UCLA, Duke and Tennessee. Wow!

Heather Corral (USC Ashley's sister) is still in high demand even after an injury last year.

OK, gotta go check this out.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Big things poppin'

USA Basketball:

The WUG team crushed Slovkia 114-53 last night, with a balanced scoring effort.

Texas A&M will stay put:

SEC is satisfied with 12 schools for now, ESPN says.

USA Today reports that the option to include A&M is still open.

More college:

The Bear Insider interviews junior Layshia Clarendon. (Can't believe she's a junior already!)


Storm fans lined up to get autographs on their Storm Wheaties boxes.

Temeka Johnson blogs about learning from defeat.

Club ball:

Players who made the July recruiting period memorable.

Maryland standouts.

A recap of the past week in recruiting.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mercedes Russell update

My dear ol' dad called at 7:30 a.m. to tell me about this story in the Eugene Register Guard. Baby girl had a busy summer.

WUG team routs Brazil in first round Elena Delle Donne lead the way with 17 points.

USA Basketball was good for the maturation of Bria Hartley's game.


Cynthia Cooper-Dyke has upped the UNCW schedule.

Chantel Kennedy has left Colorado State.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Tamika Catchings is the sixth WNBA player to break the 5,000-point barrier

Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings scored 32 points in her team's defeat of the Liberty tonight, 82-71. In the process, she also scored her 5,000th point. She is the sixth player to reach that mark, and the first WNBA player to have 2,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists in a career. She's an amazing and phenomenal player and person.

But in true Tennessee fashion, Catchings wasn't happy with her performance tonight:

Catchings wasn’t as thrilled with her effort because she failed to grab a rebound for just the second time in her career.

“Even though I scored as many points as I did, to come out with zero rebounds — I don’t even know when was the last time I had zero rebounds. So you scored, but you didn’t take care of business on the boards.”

In Seattle it was Sue Bird decade night, honoring the venerated point guard for her 10 years in the league - all with the Storm. But she and her team lost to the Atlanta Dream, 92-63. The Dream swept the Storm this season.

More records in the Sun's 82-75 victory over the Mystics: Tan White reached 2,000 points, and Kara Lawson exceeded 600 career assists. What a night.

WNBA needs to increase fan relations

Last summer I recommended that the WNBA do a better job of developing team identities, which would include keeping franchise players and cutting down on the massive trading we see annually. Now I'm going to urge the league to do something else to increase fan base and financial stability: re-develop relationships between the players and fans.

For my very first blog post in this space, I surveyed fans of a women's basketball message board as to why they loved the women's game. A sizable portion said they identified with the players, and/or liked player personalities.

My second entry outlined an NCAA study called "the state of the game." Here's a slice of what I found:

Being a "big fan" is highly correlated with having a favorite team - "connection" - a key element in interest in any sport. The study says that aside from that, competition and catharsis are the next strongest drivers of interest in sports.

Here's the interesting part: the study found that the most important determinant in fanhood of the men's game is connection. For fans of the women's game, the most important factor is character.

That makes a lot of sense. One thing a respondent to my question on rebkell pointed out was that we fans of the WNBA seem to be comfortable with using the first names of players, and assuming a type of intimacy with them that fans of the men's game usually don't with those players. I would concur, and would expand this to include female college players. Women's basketball fans are generally quite protective of their favorite players, as if they were sisters or daughters.

The study outlines the process of becoming a sports fan, which they call the five phases of a "sports love affair." The first is introduction, which the majority of fans received in playing the game themselves either now, or in the past. The next phase is attraction, followed by connection. After that comes committment, and the final phase occurs when the team becomes part of the fan's identity.

Here's the key part, because the disconnect between the players and fans is ten times more pronounced now than in was in 2008:

The WNBA has this down pat. They have plenty of fan events when a team is new, to establish that connection for fans to the players, and gain the committment and even the identity part. Then the fan events slowly disappear. Colleges should be so tactical with their promotions.

In fact, the study said that while fans view the main challenge in men's basketball as being the perceived conflict between academic and business interests, challenges for women's hoops were different. The main challenge facing women's college hoops is lack of exposure, according to the study. Researchers proposed a grassroots-type campaign to overcome this issue, including using posters and flyers on campuses, increase the number of fan giveaways, and gaining support from the media.

I've pointed it out before here, that there are less and less player appearance events for WNBA fans every year. Sparks season ticket holders noted it too in last Saturday's column. There was no fan fest (team introduction and autograph session) preceding the season this year, and there has been one appearance that I know of - the "downtown dribble" last month, where a few players showed up. The popular Trader Joe's store takeover isn't happening anymore, either.

In other cities, the stories are similar. If there are player-fan events, they're high-priced and thus not accessible to many fans - especially in this poor economy. There is less and less personal connection between WNBA players and fans, and fans have noticeably detached from teams. They don't feel a sense of ownership as much anymore; they just come to games.

I met a woman last week who played basketball in high school and college. Her main inspiration for playing came from an appearance by Ann Meyers 30 years ago. The woman was in middle school, and Meyers did a clinic at her Los Angeles school. She put on a camp and then talked to them to inspire them. For this woman, it worked.

"It meant so much to us that she came to our school and talked to us like that," the woman said. "We thought Ann Meyers was the greatest, and we became fans of hers and of women's basketball for life."

We need more of that today.

When I first came to LA six years ago, the Sparks had camps for kids. I took my kids to two of them. I believe the Sparks stopped having camps in 2009, as I remember the last one at Pasadena City College in 2008. Other WNBA teams are also conducting disappearing acts. They perform charity work, which is admirable and good public relations. But really: what's the point of impressing corporate types? Is anyone on a beach going to know who the tall women were who were picking up trash? Wouldn't it make more business sense to show up at, for instance, "Summer Night Lights" in the city of Los Angeles and interact with young people? Because those kids will go to games, whether they're female or male. If players showed up for youth, those youngsters will go home and get their parents to take them to a game or five. Cheryl Coward ( and I saw it last night at the Mercury-Sparks game at Staples Center - the most excited fans are the young fans. They jump up and down, celebrate each basket and yell. Those are the WNBA's future fans.....if the league courts them now.

As businesses and people get bigger, they do tend to step back and become less accessible and more remote to customers. The WNBA can't afford to do that yet, or maybe ever, considering how attached women's hoops fans get to their teams and athletes. What the league needs to do right now is get those players back in front of fans. Sign autographs, make appearances and remind fans who you are and what you're doing. Conduct a clinic and inspire a child for life. Give some love to your adult fans, too. If the fans adore the players and the teams, they will keep coming even if the team is losing.

The WNBA needs to put the personality back in the game. They need to have more player-fan events and facilitate the development of relationships between the athletes and the fans, the way it used to be. If they did that, attendance at games and awareness of the league would increase exponentially.

Rucka Pawk and more

Love this story with all my heart, on the women of Rucker Park.

Skylar Diggins video blogs from China, where the World University Games team takes on Brazil today in the first round. Hopefully game results will be posted soon.

In other Notre Dame-related news, Irish Coach Muffet McGraw was stressing out big time last weekend when Devereaux Peters was injured training with USA Basketball. She was jumping for joy when it turned out to be nothing serious.

Hall of Fame:

Dishin and Swishin podcast three - a tribute to Tara VanDerveer.

Great roundup of the coverage of this occasion.

Sparks 93, Mercury 90 (OT)

What a fun game. Story.

That's two in a row this week for the Sparks.

I wonder why the LA Times isn't sending a reporter to games anymore, and is choosing to rely on AP stories?

Jantel Lavender is going to have a great pro career.

Candace Parker back Tuesday!!!! I'm so pumped.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A bit of everything on a summer Friday

USA Basketball:

The World University Games team kicks off their run for the gold tomorrow. They've been going non-stop since they got to China.

Check out this World University Games flashback featuring the legendary Pat Summitt. What a trip.


Storm center Lauren Jackson has taken up salmon fishing.


Is Texas A&M joining the SEC? The Texas Legislature is jumping in.

Club ball:

Peach State Elite tip sheet.


Hoop dreams of some sisters from India.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Good Thursday nuggets writer David Siegel hosts an Internet radio show called the World of Women's Hoops. Here's the Ticha Penicheiro podcast, and the Tara VanDerveer podcast. Good stuff.

Kara Lawson isn't digging her new role for the Sun.

Swin Cash reflects on her years with the Shock and Storm.

Tonight's WNBA results:

The Silver Stars beat the Sun 72-59. Becky Hammon lead the way with 18 points.

109-95.....the score of the Mercury-Atlanta game. My goodness.

Seattle cruised over Tulsa, 77-63.

Hall of Famers

Hall of Famers:

Tara VanDerveer and Teresa Edwards are headed to the Basketball Hall of Fame.


Candace Parker aims to return from her lateral meniscus tear better than ever.

The WNBA remains a leader in hiring women and minorities, a study found.

Lisa Leslie talks to my road dog Courtney Jones about the Gatorade Athlete of the Year choice.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Alana Beard; 2012 commits

What a bummer: Alana Beard will miss the remainder of the season after re-injuring her foot in rehab last week.

A whopping 12 top recruits from the class of 2012 made committments today.

U! S! A!

Info about the World University Games team is hard to come by right stories on the site, and the players are twitter-less in the depths of China. But this picture shows them warming up yesterday for a scrimmage against Brazil. The US will play Brazil for real in three days. Go USA!

Recruiting bonus:

ESPN's Mark Lewis has an in-depth analysis of college decommitments, which are becoming a big issue of late.

The New York Times found that Facebook is the college coach's best new recruiting tool.

Tuesday's WNBA results

Five games last night, y'all:

The Sparks made it scary for fans again last night against Tulsa, but this time they hung on to win.

At about the same time, the Mercury snapped the nine-game winning streak of the Lynx with an 85-80 victory.

Maya Moore has made a big difference to the once-struggling team, says teammate Seimone Augustus.

Indiana beat San Antonio 81-68.

Sancho Lyttle pulled a Sue Bird, hitting a crucial shot as time expired to lift her Atlanta Dream over the Washington Mystics, 72-70.

The Sun is hot - they beat Chicago last night.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Monday, August 8, 2011

Say No Classic Championship: PHB 50, LA Spirit 49

PHB took the Say No Classic Championship game Saturday, 50-49.

PHB played zone defense, and got it done with a lot of free throws and second-chance points. Amanda Frost (Northern Arizona) made four three-point shots for PHB. LA Spirit's Cassie Harberts' (USC) 10-foot jumper went in and out with two seconds left in the game.

This is from the championship program:

Second Time Around

Last Year’s Championship game featured these same two
teams in the WSNC finale. The LA Spirit led wire to wire in
earning Reginald Snell’s team it’s 3rd Say No Classic title.
PHB had an impressive summer in 2010, as it reached its first
ever title game. For Marla Clark-Valentine’s team, it proved
to be a stepping stone.

PHB and The Spirit came into their July 23rd match up both
undefeated. PHB started strong and led by as much as 14 in
the 1st half.

PHB led at the half 28-22. The Spirit turned up the heat in
2nd half with strong defensive pressure. The Spirit held on for
a 51-46 win. USC's Cassie Harberts led the way 16, 10 coming
in the 2nd half. Alexyz Vaioletama added 11 for the
defending champions. PHB was led by Danielle Peacon, who
finished with 11. Peacon, who was named to the Big West All
Freshman team last year at Pacific, will be taking her talents
to Mt. SAC (JC) in the fall.

How They Arrived

PHB defeated the Titans in the 1st round of the WSNC playoffs.
The up-tempo style proved to be too much for Raymond
Sheperd’s ball club. Next up for PHB was #Winning. Winning
advanced with the shocker of the playoffs, a 43-41 win versus
Onye Ibekwe’s T.E.A.M 2k11. #Winning was undersized
and coached by their teammate, USC Briana Gilbreath.
Ibekwe’s team was the talk of the league earlier with its size
and skill.

The LA Spirit was the #1 seed for the 2nd year in a row. Cal
State LA’s Gold team was 1st up for the defending champions.
The Spirit, playing with only 1 returnee (Dominique
Scott) used defense to advance. In the semi-finals LA Fastbreak
was in the way to getting to Championship Sunday.

The two teams had just faced each other the day before with
The Spirit coming out on top. The balanced scoring of Cassie
Harberts [USC] and Andrea Bills [Oregon] led Reginald
Snell’s team to its 6th Championship game in 11 years and
their 3rd in a row

#1 LA Spirit [10-1]

No Name Pos Ht Yr Last School

1 Stephanie DeFrance G 5’3 Jr. Talladega College (AL)
2 Jasmine Wooton G 5’7 Fr. University of Portland
4 Alexyz Vaioletama G/F 6’1 Fr. USC
6 Desiree Bradley G/F 6’1 So. City Honors
7 Monique Tillis G 5’10 So. Middle Georgia College
8 Cassie Harberts F 6’2 So. USC
9 Stephanie Lopez G 5’7 So. Blue Mountain (OR)
10 Dominique Scott F 6’2 Jr. University of Albany
12 Andrea Bills C 6’3 GRAD University of Oregon

Head Coach: Reginald Snell

#2 PHB [10-1]

No Name Pos Ht Yr Last School

2 Jianni Jackson F 6’1 Jr. Cal State Northridge
4 Kayla Valentine G 5’7 Jr. Dominican University
5 Liza Dy G 5’3 Grad University of Pacific
7 Elizabeth Day F 6’1 Jr. Sonoma State
8 Brandi Brown F 5’10 Jr. Youngstown State (OH)
10 Amanda Frost G 5’9 So. Northern Arizona University
11 Danielle Peacon C 6’2 So. MT. SAC
12 Trinidee Trice G 5’9 So. Northern Arizona University

Head Coaches: Marla Clark-Valentine, Gerald Valentine

Lynx 84, Sparks 78

The Sparks mounted a heckuva comeback in the fourth quarter, but couldn't hang on, as the number one Lynx held on for the win.

Tom Hanks and Bill Bellamy were sitting courtside. Bellamy even tweeted that "the game is heating up...ya gotta love the WNBA." Bless his heart.

Despite Lynx forward Maya Moore's deal with Jordan Brand, marketing her is a challenge.

USA Basketball:

Nneka Ogwumike and Skylar Diggins are the "franchise" players for the World University Games team, who is currently waiting in a Denver airport for their flight to get un-delayed. Safe travels to them.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Big ticket stuff

This is rich: NBA players may have to play overseas this year to collect a paycheck. The Chicago Tribune says they could take lessons from WNBA athletes.

New WNBA President Laurel Richie finds herself in awe of the league's athletes:

I think a lot about how to really shine the light on the women of the league. There is no question that they are athletes who are at the top of their game. Anyone who’s seen a game knows that is beyond question. What the people don’t know is the full story of these women. Almost every woman in our league has graduated from college. We have lawyers, children’s book authors and many of our women are mothers as well. They live these incredibly well rounded lives; especially as women who are at the pinnacle of their athletic performance. I hope to enlist the media’s help to tell the stories about the amazing women of the WNBA. I think that once you get to know the players and what they do on and off the court, it just makes the league that much more interesting.

Clay Kallam draws interesting parallels between Kara Braxton and Jacki Gemelos in "two shakes of the head."

Louisville, on their current road trip through Oregon, stopped at point guard Shoni Schimmel's reservation.

Aw, jeez: Helen Darling is retiring.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Some Sparks fans speak

As the losses mount for the Los Angeles Sparks (7-12), fan frustration continues to grow. Solutions to the problems of this season, and the past two, are also being hotly debated.

Three fans who posted on the members-only Sparks fans message board last week agreed to be quoted. Their proposed solutions range from radical to more traditional.

Wendy Watson is a season ticket holder and has attended games for the last seven years. She is considering not renewing her tickets next year, and says change should start at the top, with General Manager Penny Toler.

We're not going to get anywhere until we can find a person who makes good decisions for the team," Watson said. "I'm saying it's not the players or coaches. Let's start with the GM."

"I'm sick of all the losing. It's not the players. When players LEAVE they wind up winning championships with other teams. What does that say? We need managers who can pick good coaches and be proactive. We've tried changing coaches, too, to no avail. It's time to cut the GM."

Aida Diaz is a Sparks founding season ticket holder from 1997 to the present. She has held fan game watching events in her home, participated in team-sponsored road trips, sold season tickets to friends, donated tickets to youth groups, and has participated in virtually all season ticket holder and MVP events. Diaz is also one of the most outspoken members of the Sparks fans group, and refuses to stop supporting the team because of the committment she feels toward them, and to supporting women's basketball. Her solution is two-fold: trade Candace Parker, and get a new General Manager.

"I know this will be unpopular, but I think it's time to trade Candace Parker," Diaz said. "One good season from her. Now we are paying her to heal so she can go overseas and tire herself out, making her susceptible to injury when she returns. Can anyone say Mwadi? Candace does us no good on the injured list. We need players on the floor. Not only does it tire our vets out more, but it doesn't help with chemistry and rotations."

"Penny is not a good judge of talent and ability to be a successful player. She would select local players, I'm thinking to bring in fans. But they did not pan out. She misses on her picks for coaches and players unless it's a gimme like Candace. I see other teams with talent to win now and players to develop for the future, then I see our team with players who are not going to last. We need a GM with the ability and respect to bring in talented players and a coach to lead them and earn their respect."

Diaz added that the Sparks have "lost their grassroots feel."

"I understand it is a business, but as a fan I have never felt as alienated as I do this season," Diaz said. "No season ticket holder events, no meet and greets - new owner, less accessibility. Add to that no tweets from Kathy Goodman - was she asked to stop??"

Barbara Muirhead, an eight-year season ticket holder, agrees that changes need to be made, but looks at it more as a coaching issue.

"I'm as frustrated as the rest of you, but dumping Candace with nothing to replace her won't solve the problem," Muirhead said. "There is no one in next year's draft that could replace her. If we don't get a full year out of her next year, I'll go along with letting her go, but coaching definitely needs to be looked at. As far as Penny goes as a GM, she might not be Ann Meyers, but there are several out there that are far worse."

Muirhead said that the Sparks should be doing better with the second-best bench in the league. And although Coach Joe Bryant's substitutions have been better than most, he "seems to lack the ability to inspire team and build the internal bondimg that's needed."

"Coaching women is not easy and the current coach may not even know how to approach this problem," Muirhead said. "We need a coach who has worked with women, whether it is a man or a woman. Some women respond better to men and some to women, so it's really a matter of how they deal with the team interactions.

"It's no use looking at the past, as most of the players that the Sparks let go, haven't really come back to haunt us or would they be of any use this year. We look good on paper, but we don't look inspired or hungry on the floor. So, it seems to be a matter of handling and inspiring."

So what will happen with the Sparks this year???

More on Sue Bird's shot

I'm in love with this photo gallery. Look at that full crowd! Standing up, raising arms! Yelling! Now that's how you watch a basketball game. And nice shot, too.

Storm fans more than deserve a T-shirt named after them. It's long overdue.


Jacki Gemelos' story has been told before, but she's probably the most courageous college athlete I've ever come across, so let's hear the tale again.

The Indiana Fever is more than Tamika Catchings and Katie Douglas.

Last night's WNBA action

In case you missed it last night, Sue Bird once again saved the Storm with a three-point shot at the buzzer to lift her team over Connecticut.

In the meantime, the Shock fell to the Fever, making it a franchise-record 13th consecutive loss.

Two games on tap today: New York will be at Washington, while Tulsa will travel to play San Antonio.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Tuhhhhhhhravelling! (the good kind)

Everybody's travelling (not in the game):

Iowa's going to Europe.

Louisville is headed to Oregon and Canada.

UConn is travelling to Italy.

Texas is off to Europe.

Toldeo is going to Israel.


A tale of two different rookies.

The Braxton-Spencer trade makes sense to hoopfeed's David Siegel.

USA Basketball:

Notre Dame forward Devereaux Peters talks about playing for USA Basketball.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Colegio stuff

I have to admit, I jumped for joy when the World University Team was announced yesterday, and here's why: Jacki Gemelos has fulfilled her dream. Well, one of them.

UCLA is finishing up its first week of practice this week, in preparation for an Italy tour in a few weeks. Assistant Coach Pam Walker reports that the Bruins got better today.

On the bummer tip, Texas guard Shanice McKoy will miss this season after tearing her ACL. Teammate Cassie Peoples had surgery last week for a leg stress fracture, but is expected to play this season.

Strange trade: Kara Braxton to Liberty, Sidney Spencer to Mercury

First there was this from AZCentral: Kara Braxton misses Mercury practice Thursday (after serving a one-game suspension Tuesday for "conduct detrimental to the team").

Then the news got out - the Merc traded the forward to New York for Sidney Spencer.

Phoenix version.

The Liberty's version is only available via fan email, and isn't yet posted on the team website:

The New York Liberty have acquired All-Star forward/center Kara Braxton from the Phoenix Mercury in exchange for forward Sidney Spencer, it was announced today by Head Coach and General Manager John Whisenant.

“Kara is a All-Star player with championship experience that has been successful in the league for a number of years and will make an immediate impact on the court. We feel this move increases our depth in the post and sets us up for further success as we look to build a championship caliber team,” said Whisenant. “Sidney Spencer is a incredible leader, tireless worker, and model teammate who will be missed. She’s a great shooter going to Phoenix where shooters are a premium, we wish her success in the future and thank her for her contributions to the franchise.”

Originally drafted by the Detroit Shock as the No. 7 overall pick of the 2005 WNBA Draft from University of Georgia, Braxton has posted career averages of 7.9 ppg and 4.6 rpg. A WNBA All-Star, Braxton helped lead Detroit to two WNBA Championships and has appeared in 41 playoff games averaging 7.4 ppg and 4.6 rpg. Braxton was acquired by Phoenix on July 23, 2010 in a trade sending Nicole Ohlde and a 2011 first round draft pick to Tulsa. This season, the 6-6 forward/center is averaging 10.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg and 1.3 apg. Currently she ranks third in the WNBA in field-goal percentage (.600) and sixth in efficiency ranking per 40 minutes (24.7).

Sidney Spencer was selected by the Los Angeles Sparks with the 25th overall pick in the 2007 WNBA Draft shortly after winning the 2007 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship at the University of Tennessee. The Liberty acquired her rights via a trade with Los Angeles in exchange for the Liberty’s 2010 first round draft pick on May 5, 2009. Spencer is currently averaging 2.5 ppg and 0.8 rpg.

What is the Mercury getting out of this?? Some argue that Spencer shouldn't even be in the league. Braxton is averaging quadruple Spencer's points.

Is Braxton really that bad? Was her conduct so detrimental to the team that they wanted her gone?

Just wondering, because we'll never know.

Minnesota and LA in the news this morning


Veteran Sparks forward Tina Thompson talks to ESPN about "The LA in my game."

Minnesota Coach Cheryl Reeve is a Jersey girl who was born to coach.

Her main rookie, Maya Moore, is getting better and better.

Another Lynx teammate, Charde Houston, is teaching girls self-esteem.

Timeout with the Liberty's Nicole Powell.

Two stories about Sparks Coach Joe from a local newspaper, and another from Sports Page Magazine.

High school:

ESPN REALLY enjoyed themselves at Nike Nationals, because here is YET another tip sheet.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Mercury's Kara Braxton suspended for yesterday's game

The forward/center, who as run into trouble before, was suspended for Phoenix's game yesterday for "conduct detrimental to the team."

First Wednesday in August


Lauren Jackson has signed a multi-year deal with the Seattle Storm. She and teammate Sue Bird have spent their entire careers with one team. How many WNBA players can say that? If more could, there would be more fans.

Atlanta Dream guard Shalee Lehning will miss the rest of the season after tearing her ACL. Geeeezzzz......

The Mystics' Alana Beard talks about rehab.

Stanford alums Kayla Pedersen and Jeanette Pohlen are enjoying the beginnings of their WNBA careers.

Just moments ago, in the W's only game today, the Sun came from behind to defeat the Sparks at home, 79-70.


Oregon State is on a recruiting roll, as Samantha Siegner's verbal is the third for Coach Scott Rueck from the class of 2012.

High school:

ESPN's Mark Lewis has more sage advice on how to avoid making snap decisions about a school during the slow month of August.

World University Games Team finalized

And here they are:

Elena Delle Donne (Delaware/Wilmington, Del.); Skylar Diggins (Notre Dame/South Bend, Ind.); Jacki Gemelos (USC/Stockton, Calif.); Keisha Hampton (DePaul/Philadelphia, Pa.); Glory Johnson (Tennessee/Knoxville, Tenn.); Lynetta Kizer (Maryland/Woodbridge, Va.); Natalie Novosel (Notre Dame/Lexington, Ky.); Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford/Cypress, Texas); Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Stanford/Cypress, Texas); Devereaux Peters (Notre Dame/Chicago, Ill.); Odyssey Sims (Baylor/Irving, Texas) and Shekinna Stricklen (Tennessee/Morrilton, Ark.).

Tennessee, Stanford and Notre Dame players top the list.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lynx finally on top

Minnesota Lynx Coach Cheryl Reeve talks about her Western Conference leading team.

Both the Lynx and the Mercury are gunning for greatness.


The Big 12 has released its 2012 basketball schedule.

Extremely early commit:

Recee' Caldwell has verballed to Baylor as she begins her sophomore year.

Monday, August 1, 2011

USA Basketball getting ready to go

The World University team started leaving this weekend for Colorado Springs training camp:

Elena Delle Donne (Delaware/Wilmington, Del.); Skylar Diggins (Notre Dame/South Bend, Ind.); Jacki Gemelos (USC/Stockton, Calif.); Keisha Hampton (DePaul/Philadelphia, Pa.); Glory Johnson (Knoxville, Tenn./Tennessee); Shenise Johnson (Miami/Henrietta, N.Y.); Natalie Novosel (Notre Dame/Lexington, Ky.); Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford/Cypress, Texas); Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Stanford/Cypress, Texas); Devereaux Peters (Notre Dame/Chicago, Ill.); Odyssey Sims (Baylor/Irving, Texas); Shekinna Stricklen (Tennessee/Morrilton, Ark.); and April Sykes (Rutgers/Starkville, Miss.).

One will be cut by next Monday. The 12-woman roster will train in China Aug. 10-13 and will begin competition Aug. 14.

In USA Basketbll National Team news, Brittney Griner and Courtney Vandersloot were added to the roster.

The League semifinal results; championship set for Saturday

From The League:

Semis were this past weekend, and there were a lot of close games, too. Leading up to that only the top eight teams make playoffs, and we had 11 of our 12 teams in the running, because of so many ties for placement. Thursday, July 28 determined the final placement, which was as follows:

1. Royal Blue (#10)
2. Black (#8)
3. Orange (#5)
4. Navy Blue (#6)
5. White (#11)
6. Red (#7)
7. Purple (#2)
8. Pink (#4)

The following were the match ups and outcomes:

1st v. 8th winner=1st
2nd v. 7th winner=2nd
3rd v. 6th winner =3rd
4th v. 5th winner = 4th

1st v. 4th winner = 1st
2nd v. 3rd winner = 2nd

The Championship, featuring Royal Blue vs. Black, is 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6 at St. Bernard High School. Both teams were undefeated in league, though both had a few close games along the way. Last thursday they met during regular season, and Royal Blue won by five.

Scores will be posted soon.