Monday, September 30, 2013

Why the WNBA is disrespected: one view

Last week I was having a twit-versation with my new friend Kevin Watson. He asked me why I thought women's basketball doesn't get the respect it deserves. I said: 1. Because men don't like to think women can do something they can't in sports. 2. Female basketball players play rough and don't run around half naked, like they do in some other sports. 3. The NBA has become more about showmanship and stunts than the fundamentals of basketball, so the average sports fan now sees fundamental basketball as "boring."

Kevin agreed with all of that, and he had an additional spin on the issue. I told him that if he wanted to write something, I'd print it. Unlike dozens of others who I've made the same offer to, Kevin produced a column. Below is his view of the American perspective on the WNBA. These opinions don't necessarily reflect mine.

- Sue Favor

Hello, I am Kevin Watson. I'm a 25-year-old male who happens to be Black, and I'm an avid lover and player of the beautiful game of basketball.

For the last five years of my life I have grown very frustrated and upset at how mainstream America treats the WNBA. I have asked around and gotten many different perspectives as to why there is a strong dislike for the women's game in some circles. My experience may not be the same as others', but I can only go by what I have heard, seen and personally experienced.

I believe that the dislike for women's sports is more than a surface-level issue. I believe part of it stems from things that were engrained in our culture at its founding time. The Declaration of Independence states that "all men are created equal." I find this ironic since at that time, slaves were counted as a half a person. Also, the only people who were allowed to vote were white men who owned property.

Has America came far since its inception? Yes I believe we have. But I feel we must not ignore the division that is still within our country now, which I believe started hundreds of years ago as our nation was founded.

You may ask, "How is this relevant in women's sports today?" It is relevant in many ways. First I believe that our nation has always been taught to view women as second-class citizens. Also, our country has a famed history of its unbelievably bad treatments of Blacks. These things, added in with ignorance, contributed to people's views on women's athletics today.

Throughout American history for Blacks, women have had to play an incredibly large role in the family unit. During slavery, the master would often find the biggest male he had and would tar and feather him, whip him to near death, and ultimately kill him. This was done to teach two things: first, that the man could not be relied upon to to take care of the family, and secondly, so that slave women would teach their sons to be submissive to the master so as not to receive the same treatment. This created a generational norm in which Black women have to essentially play a superhuman role to the family. This to me shows, that women have the strength now do anything a man can do. They have had to play this role, so I believe to ignore this strength is an injustice.

The WNBA is made up of mostly Black American females. There are some superstar players who are not Black, such as Elena Delle Donne, Lindsay Whalen, Diana Taurasi, Lauren Jackson, Sue Bird and Katie Douglas just to name a few. But when it comes to basketball, for both men and women, Black people typically dominate it. I believe this is where a major disconnect lies with regard to discrimination against women in sports. This is not a new found revelation, but one that American history has shown us to be true.

In the Black community sports is often an outlet, and it is seen as a means to a better life. When it comes to Black athletes, I believe the stakes are greater when it comes to playing and pursuing a sports career. Often in our poor neighborhoods, nothing is made of education or a pursuit of things better. But sports and music are viewed as a possible way out of the 'hood. Unfortunately it is viewed, at times, as the only way out of poverty. Black people also view sports as our way to level the playing field. The highest-up people in our society are white males. So when it comes to athletics, this is a place where we can rub it in, where whites aren't dominating completely.

Because sports are so important to my community, we often rally around anyone who has the potential to become a great player. There is rarely a division between men and women's sports to Black people. To us one person winning or making it, is all of us making it. I find this to be amazing since the culture of our history as a nation, has always been one that promotes division.

In my experience, Black people love the WNBA. I have grown up with the league. As I traveled all over the nation to play basketball myself, I have asked people's thoughts and opinions of the league. I have never - and I will repeat NEVER - heard a black person who is a basketball fan say anything negative about women's basketball. But I have seen completely grown men get excited! I have seen men try to even emulate some of the moves that they have seen professional women players do!

My experience with the White culture has been very different, though. I played basketball myself at very small, almost all-white school. When I asked them how they liked the WNBA, some of the answers I heard were: "It's too slow," "they miss too many layups," "there are not enough dunks," "those women are gay," and "I can do the things she can do." My response was, "have you watched a game?" They would always say no, and I would fire back, "Angel McCoughtry is your height and she is stronger than you, quicker than you, can dunk, and she would beat you one on one." They were always shocked.

The most interesting story I have is this: one time at an open gym, our local sports writer for the newspaper attended. It was during the 2011 WNBA finals, and all of me and my Black friends were stoked! Seimone Augustus and Angel McCoughtry were playing out of their minds! The reporter asked "why the hell are you guys talking about that boring shit?" We obliged him to watch a game so he would understand the excitement. The next game, McCughtry scored 38 points and Augustus had 36. At our next open gym, his outlook was completely different because he had watched the game. He admitted to us that he had never watched the WNBA before, but now he had to change his prior opinions.

A white friend and I were arguing about basketball in March. He said that you couldn't call a women player elite because she can't do what the Kobe's, Lebron's, and Durant's of the world do. I rebutted that elite is a category that classifies an athlete or person who has achieved incredible success at a high level in their field or sport. Elite is not regulated to one or two people who are the absolute best in their field. After much debating, he agreed he would say they were elite, but only for a women.

So I decided to end the argument with this: I told him to guess the player I was describing, and I would only describe them using their credentials. I said: two-time gold medalist, multi-all star, and has won two championships. He went through many names, and the conclusion was that I was describing Dwayne Wade of the Miami Heat. That was a great answer, but I was talking about Delisha Milton-Jones - a WNBA legend who has accomplished am incredible amount in her career. I had to show him that women do accomplish just as much as men do when it comes to basketball at it's highest level.

The last reason I can't take disrespect for the WNBA, is because of how much is expected from these women. Female professional players play ALL YEAR ROUND. Most casual fans of basketball do not understand this. These women rarely get a break from basketball. As soon as their overseas seasons end, the WNBA training camp starts. Sometimes their seasons overlap! These women compete at the highest level ALL the time, with no breaks. This is incredible.

Many NBA players miss significant time during the season with injuries. The ones who don't and play through injuries get praised mightily by fans and the media. Almost every professional basketball-playing women deals with this their year-round reality daily, and nothing is made of it. They are ironwomen in their own right. I believe there needs to be more praise given to women for their incredible committment.

Ultimately I believe that women are capable of doing what men can do. Does this mean the product will always look the same? No, it does not. But that does not make one product any less valuable than the other.

To recap, I believe the WNBA is disrespected because culturally and historically, Black women have been undervalued. The WNBA is mainly made up of black women, and mainstream white America doesn't give it a fair chance. No I do not believe that White people are blatantly racist. But I do believe there are apparent racial undertones that we must not ignore. If you feel I'm crazy get on twitter and look at how Britney Griner is treated. Look at comments made about the WNBA and it's product. I am guaranteeing you they will be offensive. I am also guaranteeing that most of those individuals have never seen a game.

I am passionate about the game of basketball, no matter the gender, race, age, or height of the individual playing it. I ask that others take their personal blinders off so they can as well grow to appreciate all aspects of the game. I hope you take this journey with me in the future, so that the WNBA and it's product can be seen for what it is, which is an amazing assortment of athletes from all over the world, playing the game they love with passion.

Kevin Watson lives in Illinois. He played college basketball and currently works as a basketball trainer with youth. His twitter handle is: @ba11islife24.

Finals schedule set

Game 1:
Sun, Oct 6, ESPN
in Minnesota

Game 2:
Tue, Oct 8, ESPN2
in Minnesota

Game 3:
Thu, Oct 10, ESPN2
in Atlanta

Game 4:
Sun, Oct 13, ESPN2
in Atlanta

Game 5:
Wed, Oct 16, ESPN
in Minnesota

Series preview.

Both teams are motivated.

Sue Bird's preview.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Lynx, Dream sweep to claim conference titles

The WNBA Finals are set, and it's looking like 2011:

The Dream swept the Fever with a 67-53 win today to return to the finals for the first time since 2011.

Angel McCoughtry lead Atlanta with 27 points, while Tamika Catching headed up Indiana's efforts with 24.

The Lynx also swept, ousting the Mercury 72-65. This is their third consecutive finals appearance.

Maya Moore lead Minnesota with 27 points, and Diana Taurasi was the high-scorer for Phoenix, with 21.

Post-game press conferences.

I saw the Lynx sweep coming, but at least the Mercury kept it interesting in game two.

Who will win it all, and in how many games?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Waiting for game twos


Youtube views of the Taurasi-kissing-Augustus-on-the-cheek incident Thursday night have reached 1.6 million.

Will the Mercury kiss their playoff hopes goodbye in game two tomorrow?

Maya Moore's long trey still gets me hyped.

The Sky:

Lack of playoff experience may have been the Sky's undoing.

Elena Delle Donne talks about her rookie season.

USA Basketball:

The 3X3 U18 team is undefeated after day two.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The calm after the storm

Last night's game were sure full of drama. Go to the front page of for the videos. In the meantime.....

Janel McCarville has found the right fit with the Lynx.

Other WNBA news:

Storm assistant coach Nancy Darsch is leaving the team.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Two very different stories in conference final first games

In the East it was a close one, with the Dream pulling it out against the Fever, 84-79.

On the West side it was a blowout, with the Lynx pummeling the Mercury, 85-62.

Everybody's talking about Diana Taurasi kissing Seimone Augustus on the cheek in the middle of game action.

More playoff news:

Mercury players have bought into new coach Russ Pennell's system.

The Fever relish their roles as underdogs.

Non-playoff news:

Candice Wiggins blogs about her recent trip to Nicaragua.

Rookie Lindsey Moore is enjoying life in the WNBA.

Where are Storm players going next?

Maya Moore has received the WNBA Cares Community Assist Award for September.

College news:

A court ruled today that former director of Lady Vol media relations Debby Jennings can pursue her claim that athletic director Dave Hart retaliated against her and fired her.

UCLA guard Kari Korver will miss the season with a right ACL tear.

Former Lady Vol Angie Bjorklund is the new director of basketball operations at Santa Clara.

Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer will receive the John R. Wooden "Legends of Coaching" honor next year.

High school ball:

Two Michigan sisters survived a serious car accident to come back and play ball.....and get recruited.

Thirty-three of the nation's best ballers to headline USA Basketball training camp Oct. 4-6

Check out this list of invitees to USA Basketball's Las Vegas training camp next weekend:

Highlighting the returning veterans are three-time Olympic gold medalists Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever) and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury); two-time Olympic gold medalists Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky) and Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks); 2012 Olympic gold medalists Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx) and Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx); and Cappie Pondexter (New York Liberty), a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team. Further, Jayne Appel (San Antonio Silver Stars) and Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury), both of whom aided the USA to a gold medal at the 2010 FIBA World Championship, are set to attend camp.

Also accepting invitations were: DeWanna Bonner (Phoenix Mercury), Elena Delle Donne (Chicago Sky), Skylar Diggins (Tulsa Shock), Stefanie Dolson (University of Connecticut), Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury), Lindsey Harding (Los Angeles Sparks), Bria Hartley (University of Connecticut), Briann January (Indiana Fever), Glory Johnson (Tulsa Shock), Jantel Lavender (Los Angeles Sparks), Kayla McBride (University of Notre Dame), Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (University of Connecticut), Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks), Danielle Robinson (San Antonio Silver Stars), Odyssey Sims (Baylor University), Breanna Stewart (University of Connecticut), Alyssa Thomas (University of Maryland), Courtney Vandersloot (Chicago Sky), Monica Wright (Minnesota Lynx) and Sophia Young (San Antonio Silver Stars).

I don't like the timing, with the WNBA Finals. Like they couldn't wait one more week.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

All-WNBA First and Second Teams announced

All-WNBA First and Second Teams:

First Team:

Diana Taurasi
Sylvia Fowles
Candace Parker
Lindsay Whalen
Maya Moore

Second Team:

Tamika Catchings
Elena Delle Donne
Angel McCoughtry
Seimone Augustus
Tina Charles

First Team photos

Second Team photos

Conference finals previews

ESPN has a finals preview for the West and for the East.

The dot-com also has previews.....

The Fever and Dream are familiar foes.

The Lynx-Mercury match up will be a little Olympic-esque.

More playoff news:

The Atlanta Dream are still nursing injuries as they head into the finals.

The Lynx are ready for Phoenix's new defense.

Don't let Mercury guard/forward DeWanna Bonner's thin frame fool you - she's basketball strong.

Non-playoff news:

Katie Smith lived the dream, and is now ready for the next one.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Dream, Mercury advance to conference finals

And then there were four:

The Dream beat the Mystics, 80-72, to advance to the Eastern Conference finals.

The Mercury slipped by the Sparks, 78-77, to advance to the Western Conference finals.

I will have a write-up tomorrow. In the meantime, I had plenty of pictures on my twitter feed:

College news:

The NCAA will host a summit on Val Ackerman's "white paper" recommendations.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Tina Thompson retires; Fever sweep the Sky

What a day.

The Lynx defeated the Storm, 58-55, to sweep them in the Western Conference semifinals.

The loss also marked the final game of retiring Tina Thompson - the league's lone player from the inaugural 1997 season. She is going out with style.

Lynx players posed with Thompson after the game.

Thompson retired on her terms.

Thompson's last post-game press conference.

Just prior to that game, the Fever beat the Sky, 79-57. Indiana sweeps the series and moves on to the Eastern Conference finals.

Some are saying they expected that result, given the Fever's domination of the Sky during the regular season. But you can color me surprised.

Shavonte Zellous:

Wins this year's most improved player award. Great choice (I voted for her).

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Mike Thibault wins coach of the year

Washington Mystics coach Mike Thibault won the 2013 WNBA coach of the year award today. He beat out co-runners up Brian Agler and Pokey Chatman by one point:


Votes Coach Team

12 Mike Thibault Washington Mystics
11 Brian Agler Seattle Storm
11 Pokey Chatman Chicago Sky
3 Lin Dunn Indiana Fever
1 Gary Kloppenburg Tulsa Shock
1 Cheryl Reeve Minnesota Lynx

Round one, game two: top seeds back on top

It was redemption night for higher-seeded Los Angeles and Atlanta, who lost Thursday. Tonight both teams won in their opponent's houses:

The Dream dominated the Mystics, 63-45.

The Sparks beat the Mercury, 82-73. MVP Candace Parker lead the winners with 31 points and 11 rebounds, and Nneka Ogwumike added 15 points and 11 rebounds.

Many of the issues I noted in last night's Sparks analysis were addressed/fixed tonight. First and foremost, they were motivated from tipoff, and played with urgency. They got after loose balls, rebounds, and they pickpocketed and stripped Phoenix of the ball several times. The rotations made sense, which I suppose was easier in that coach Carol Ross played only seven. The Sparks used their transition game - one of their strengths - early on. And they played as a team. They did a good job, in a hostile environment.

Deciding games in both series will be Monday night.

More on the playoffs:

Fever guard/forward Katie Douglas will miss the playoffs with a bulging disc in her lower back. It's the same injury that's kept her out most of the season.

The play of teammate Shavonte Zellous will help fill that void.

Referee's death was a suicide, aunt says

Longtime college and WNBA referee Bonita Spence's death earlier this week was a suicide, her aunt says.

Round one, game two

Today's game two series:

Dream at Mystics

Sparks at Mercury

Other stories:

Mystics coach Mike Thibault has found his WNBA coaching home.

Thibault will reportedly be named coach of the year today.

Diana Taurasi is the MVP of technical fouls.

Angel McCoughtry blogs.

Candace Parker crowned 2013 WNBA MVP

Photos and transcript of the presentation ceremony on Thursday.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Contemplations on the Sparks' first-round loss to Phoenix

Here's what I saw last night as the Sparks lost in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs to the Mercury:

- Both teams were mediocre to start. In the third quarter, when Mercury forward Diana Taurasi ignited her team and helped boost the lead, the Sparks had no answer.

- Candace Parker and Lindsey Harding came to play. Everyone else pretty much disappeared. Normally high-scoring Kristi Toliver's poor game was especially devastating for the Sparks.

- With over a minute to go and LA behind by only six, they had one more chance to make a run. Instead, Phoenix scored. Parker caught the ball as it came through the net, turned around with her back to the court and slammed the ball down in frustration.

- Brittney Griner was in foul trouble in the second quarter, yet the Sparks didn't capitalize on that in the second half, and she never fouled out.

- The Mercury's defense is very good now.

A friend of mine, who lives in the Southern United States, was twitter-messaging me during the game. I like to talk with her because she's been a women's basketball fan for decades, like myself, and has followed the WNBA since its inception. She is a huge Sparks fan. After last night's game she said she was starting to feel like she shouldn't get her hopes up for them every year anymore, because each season expectations are high and the talent is there. Yet in the end, LA isn't there mentally. I asked her to write out her specific frustrations about last night's game, and this is what she sent me:

It was a disappointing game for the Los Angeles Sparks. I take my hat off to the Mercury, because they played like underdogs are supposed to - intense, and focused. The Sparks, on the other hand, didn't play like they were aiming for a championship, which is what they've publicly stated as their goal for many years.

On ESPN's broadcast, Rebecca Lobo said the Sparks had an intense, physical practice the day before this game. I didn't understand why she'd do that. I had been wondering why Kristi Toliver wasn't playing well, and Lobo said on the broadcast that Toliver was nursing an injury from that practice. Yet, I wouldn't excuse Toliver from playing, as I've seen athletes play their way through tougher injuries.

Candace Parker and Lindsey Harding came to play, but I was disappointed in CP3's defensive effort on certain plays. Three's weren't falling for anyone on the team, which led to Parker having little room to operate in the second half. I don't feel coach Carol Ross made the adjustments she needed to make at the half.

The Sparks, to me, are the best team in the league, but they sometimes lack effort. They force plays, and make the game harder than it has to be. I get mad because I know what this team is capable of, which is far greater than their record. If the Mercury had played the Lynx this round, I guarantee these plays the Mercury made last night wouldn't have been as easy as they were against LA.

The Sparks need to show up next game, or they will find themselves going home early. It won't be because of the great play of Phoenix, but because of their mistakes and lack of effort. I have faith in the Sparks, and I believe they will win in Phoenix, but I need for everybody to show up. If the Sparks play physically, they'll show why they were projected to win the championship.

I can see where she's coming from. I still stick by much of my previous analysis of the Sparks earlier this season - especially in that they still seem to lack motivation and/or effort to win at times. They claim they want a championship, but the hunger isn't visible, with the exception of Parker. (She stated in her MVP acceptance ceremony, prior to the game, that a title would mean more to her than that award).

One criticism of coach Ross that I heard not only from my friend, but other game watchers, was that last night she didn't make effective adjustments to the Mercury's surging play. Perhaps this is because she didn't seem to display the understanding of the opponent that Mercury coach Russ Pennell did four days before. I asked both coaches how their teams matched up against the other, and Pennell had a very detailed answer. Ross' was general.

I've also heard fans wonder all season long at Ross' substitution patterns. Simply put: people don't understand why or how she combines the players that she does on the floor. For example, at one point in the second half last night, it was Parker and four bench players.

The thing that concerns me most is that both Sparks players and Ross have acknowledged that the team mentally checks out of games at times. Yet no one knows why, nor what to do about it.

You can't coach desire. I've coached myself, and I've always said that I'd take a hard-working player with less talent over a gifted athlete any day of the week. The work horses want it badly. They're already motivated.

The Sparks are like the gifted athlete right now. With the exception of two throw-away players (Jenna O'Hea and Farhiya Abdi), they are solid at every position, with apt reserves. The excuses they've had in past years of lacking this or that position aren't valid now. When they've been on this season, it's a majestic sight. They could win a title playing the way they've played most of their games at home.

The only thing that seems to still be missing in LA's make up is a collective drive/hunger/desire to win a title. Parker - seemingly the one Spark with that motivation - can't do it by herself.

Tomorrow's game two against the Mercury, in Phoenix, will be a defining moment for the Sparks. Will they gut check themselves and make an honest effort toward a title run? Or will they sink back into the mode of playing so far below their capabilities that they are unrecognizable?

We will see.

Three out of four

Another upset tonight, this time by the visiting Fever, which took down the Sky, 85-72. Indiana is used to adversity:

The Fever were without injured star Katie Douglas, who is day to day with a different back injury than the one that limited her to just four games during the season, but playing short-handed in big games is pretty much the norm for Indiana.

The Fever lost nine players to injury this season and four for at least 16 games, and are the only playoff team with a losing record. During the title run last season, Douglas was lost in the conference finals and Jeanette Pohlen tore her left ACL in Game 2 of the Finals.

One game out of the four in the opening round went according to script, as the Lynx hammered the Storm, 80-64.

More news:

A more comfortable Maya Moore is emerging as the Lynx's leader in her third season as a pro.

(It strikes me that Moore has a WNBA championship and longs for the MVP award, while Candace Parker has two MVPs and pines for a title)

The WNBA has never seen a player like Elena Delle Donne.

And the winners are........

Elena Delle Donne is rookie of the year - a unanimous selection.

Sylvia Fowles is defensive player of the year.

Tamika Catchings and Swin Cash share the Kim Perrot sportsmanship award.

All-defensive first and second teams:


Player Team Position Points

Tamika Catchings Indiana Fever Forward 51
Angel McCoughtry Atlanta Dream Forward 42
Sylvia Fowles Chicago Sky Center 53
Armintie Herrington Atlanta Dream Guard 36
Tanisha Wright Seattle Storm Guard 22


Player Team Position Points

Rebekkah Brunson Minnesota Lynx Forward 29
Glory Johnson Tulsa Shock Forward 19
Erika de Souza Atlanta Dream Center 14
Briann January Indiana Fever Guard 21
Jia Perkins San Antonio Silver Stars Guard 20
Danielle Robinson San Antonio Silver Stars Guard 20

The all-rookie team:


Player Team Position Votes

Elena Delle Donne Chicago Sky Forward/Guard 11
Brittney Griner Phoenix Mercury Center 11
Alex Bentley Atlanta Dream Guard 10
Kelsey Bone New York Liberty Center 10
Skylar Diggins Tulsa Shock Guard 8

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Elena Delle Donne is reported to be rookie of the year


Watch for this award to be presented prior to the Sky-Fever game tomorrow.

First night of first round features the unexpected

The lower-seeded visitors won tonight:

The Mystics dominated the Dream from start to finish. Final: 71-56.

The Mercury overcame a strong start from the Sparks to win, 86-75.

MVP Award:

Candace Parker won the 2013 MVP Award earlier this evening. I was there and will have a full wrap up, with pictures, tomorrow.

Parker photos from this season, and in past years.

General WNBA:

The league's collective bargaining agreement with players expires Sept. 30, right in the middle of the playoffs.

Recalling last year's finals loss could motivate the Lynx.

A look at attendance this season.

The end of Tina Thompson's career is the end of an era for the league.

Elena Delle Donne stays in the game.

Three Arizona chefs try to impress Mercury center Brittney Griner with a bacon dish.

The Shock improved this year, but was it enough?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Peak performers and playoff preparations

The WNBA named its peak performers today: Angel McCoughtry for points, Sylvia Fowles for rebounds and Danielle Robinson for assists.

The league put up an anecdote/theme for each playoff team, and it's pretty right on.

More on the playoff teams:

The Fever ignores their seed and prepares to defend their title.

Mystics Magazine, episode eight.

Lynx forward Seimone Augustus loves the game.

Minnesota got in a lengthy, intense practice today.

Storm point guard Sue Bird is getting back in shape, but not in time for the team's playoff run.

General WNBA:

The New York Times claims the "three to see" campaign was a success.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Photos make the day

Great photos of last week's Lynx at Sparks finale, by my man Eric Wade. I tweeted several of them last night. I especially like this one of Nneka Ogwumike getting in Rebekkah Brunson's face after a foul:

Ogwumike is extremely polite and well-spoken. She's Tamika Catchings-sweet. But she also has a passion for basketball that burns like a forest fire. And she responds very strongly to adversity during a game.

Non-West coasters might not expect what we see in the picture from Ogwumike, but those of us who watched her play at Stanford just giggle.

Tuesday night and no games can only's playoffs time

It's weird not having games to go to, peek in on or scores to check this evening.

Playoff stuff:

Five things to know about the playoffs.

ESPN says the Lynx are the favorite to win the trophy.

Fans can rank the playoff teams.

Sky super rookie Elena Delle Donne thinks there's no time like the playoffs.


Players of the month for September are Sylvia Fowles for the East and Maya Moore in the West.

Hall of Fame news:

Lin Dunn will be inducted into the Ole Miss Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.

Q&A with Carolyn Peck, soon to be inducted into the Vanderbilt Athletic Hall of Fame.

Seattle Storm honors retiring legend Tina Thompson

Check out highlights from the dope ceremony the Storm had Saturday to honor retiring great Tina Thompson.

Elena Delle Donne sweeps rookie of the month awards

The Sky's Elena Delle Donne is rookie of the month for September, marking the fourth month she's received the honor.

Playoffs preview:

Dream vs. Mystics

Team news:

Mercury....the team's finish under new coach Russ Pennell has paved their way to the playoffs.

Lynx....talking with rookie Lindsey Moore.

The Minnesota Twins have purchased 500 tickets to Friday's first-round playoff game, to give to fans.

Sun....enter the off-season with many questions.

One last trip around the Sun.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Playoff previews

The WNBA has playoff previews so far of:

The Sky vs. the Fever

The Sparks vs. the Mercury

The Lynx vs. the Storm

In the meantime, the players of the week are Maya Moore for the West, and Ivory Latta for the East.

College news:

Jamie Craighead is San Jose State's new coach.

Longtime referee Bonita Spence passes away

Sad, sad news about referee Bonita Spence:

The women’s basketball world took a big hit on Monday with the death of longtime referee Bonita Spence. Spence worked in both the college and WNBA ranks and was one of the better officials in the game. She was also one of the most notable personalities among referees.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Mercury at Sparks quotes

Today I decided to let the quotes do the talking.

New Mercury coach Russ Pennell seems to have a great sense of humor. Rookie Brittney Griner is pretty funny, too.

NOW we're set for the playoffs

The Sun slipped by the Fever in overtime, 82-80, and the Mystics routed the Liberty, 70-52.

This means that the East's #2 Dream will face the #3 Mystics and the #1 Sky will take on the #4 Fever in round one.

Playoff schedule:

Date Matchup Tip (TV)
Thursday, Sept. 19 Game 1: Washington at Atlanta 8 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 19 Game 1: Phoenix at Los Angeles 10 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 20 Game 1: Indiana at Chicago 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 20 Game 1: Seattle at Minnesota 9 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 21 Game 2: Atlanta at Washington 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 21 Game 2: Los Angeles at Phoenix 10 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 22 Game 2: Chicago at Indiana 3 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 22 Game 2: Minnesota at Seattle 5 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 23 Game 3*: Washington at Atlanta TBD
Monday, Sept. 23 Game 3*: Phoenix at Los Angeles 10 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 24 Game 3*: Indiana at Chicago 7 p.m.^
Tuesday, Sept. 24 Game 3*: Seattle at Minnesota 9 p.m.^

In other games, the Sparks kicked the behinds of the Mercury, 89-55, and the Silver Stars crushed the Dream, 97-68. Danielle Adams had a franchise-high 39 points for San Antonio.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Lynx secure home court; Thompson plays last regular-season game

The Lynx beat the Sky, 79-66. This secures home court advantage for Minnesota throughout the playoffs.

The legend Tina Thompson lead the Storm over the Shock, 85-73, with 22 points. It is her final regular-season game, and she's currently being honored in a ceremony at Key Arena. A friend of mine who is there sent me a video, and if there's any way to post it on my twitter feed (, I will.

Team news:

Liberty....Kamiko Williams has learned and grown with New York this season.

Tomorrow's game previews.....the regular season grand finale:

Fever at Sun

Liberty at Mystics

Dream at Silver Stars

Mercury at Sparks

Friday, September 13, 2013

East stil not yet set

While the Western Conference first round match ups are set, the East teams continue to battle. The Fever and Mystics are still locked for the third seed, after tonight's games:

The Fever rallied to defeat the Liberty, 66-63.

The Mystics hammered the Sun, 82-56.

The Sky held on to best the Dream, 87-82.

The Mercury routed the Silver Stars, 82-61.

Team news:

Lynx....Seimone Augustus has signed a multi-year contract extension.

What last night's loss means to the team.

Mystics....a minute with Ivory Latta.

Tomorrow's game previews:

Sky at Lynx

Shock at Storm

Sparks win the series with the Lynx after a hard-fought victory

Nneka Ogwumike stepped up for the Sparks last night after Candace Parker was ejected in the third quarter, putting up 22 of her game-high 25 points in the second half to lead her team over the Lynx, 85-84. Los Angeles wins the series over the Lynx, 3-2.

In last night's other game, the Storm topped the Shock, 76-67.

More on retiring Tina Thompson and Katie Smith:

From Rebecca Lobo.

And Mechelle Voepel.

Thompson stays in character and on task.


Penny Taylor is back in time for the playoffs.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Retiring greats

Amazing story on Tina Thompson, her impending retirement, her relationship with her son Dyllan, and her plans for post-basketball life.


Katie Smith is underrated, but great.


WNBA team news:

Fever....Katie Douglas wins the WNBA Cares Community Assist Award for August.

Douglas returns to game action tomorrow.

Interest in the Fever has been rising in Indianapolis since they won their title last year. Carol Ross will be inducted into the Ole Miss Alumni Hall of Fame this fall.

Lynx....reserve forward Devereaux Peters has become a key contributor for Minnesota.

Shock....Skylar Diggins blogs.

Storm....interview with Lauren Jackson.

Mercury....Robin Roberts interviews Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner. Fun facts about the duo.

Silver Stars....more on Sophia Young's recent stance against gay non-discrimination.

Tomorrow's game previews:

Liberty at Fever

Sun at Mystics

Dream at Sky

Silver Stars at Mercury

College news:

Lady Vol Andraya Carter is ready for a new start after having to sit out last season with a shoulder injury.

SLAMonline's final MVP rankings

SLAMonline's final MVP rankings:

1. Tamika Catchings
2. Candace Parker
3. Angel McCoughtry
4. Sylvia Fowles
5. Maya Moore
6. Diana Taurasi
7. Elena Delle Donne
8. Lindsay Whalen
9. Liz Cambage
10. Tina Thompson

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Delle Donne strikes again

The Sky edged the Mercury, 70-68, on a buzzer-beater shot by rookie sensation Elena Delle Donne. That young woman has some sick, sick moves. And ice in her veins.

Tonight's other game was a mirror of the first, as the Sun slipped by the Dream, 78-77, thanks to a big play in the final seconds by Mistie Bass.

Team news:

Mercury....Diana Taurasi didn't play tonight because she was serving a one-game suspension for an accumulation of technical fouls. She picked up her ninth earlier this week.

A sneak peak of Robin Roberts' interview with Taurasi and rookie Brittney Griner.

Fever....Katie Douglas is medically cleared and ready to play.

Sky....waived Sharnee Zoll-Norman and re-signed Avery Warley.

Liberty....Katie Smith's career is coming to a close.

The WNBA is perfect for coach Bill Laimbeer. He speaks.

Laimbeer photo retrospective.

Sun....Tina Charles blogs.

Tomorrow's game previews:

Storm at Shock

Lynx at Sparks

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Playoff match ups taking shape

The Mystics clinched a playoff spot by squeaking past the Fever, 69-67.

The Lynx grabbed the West's top spot with a 73-60 win over the Storm. Minnesota and Seattle will match up in the first round, while Los Angeles and Phoenix will go head to head at the second and third seeds.

The Mercury slipped past the Liberty, 80-76. New York is now out of the playoffs.

Team news:

Fever....Tamika Catchings' leadership has propelled Indiana into the playoffs, despite many team injuries.

Shock....Riquna Williams is an overnight sensation after her record-breaking scoring game Sunday.

Liberty....Nike honored the retiring Katie Smith last night.

Sun....WNBA talk with coach Anne Donovan.

Tomorrow's game previews:

Dream at Sun

Mercury at Sky

Monday, September 9, 2013

No deja vu' needed at the Olympics

Since Geno Auriemma was named Olympic basketball coach for 2016, I have been thinking what a waste this is, to not give other coaches a chance. Connecticut-based columnist John Altavilla thought the same thing:

The coach of eight national champions at UConn is the first in the sport’s history to be invited to return to its most pressure-filled job.....

Still, the job and all of its inherent pressures, was something many women’s basketball coaches covet. And college coaches such Baylor’s Kim Mulkey and South Carolina’s Dawn Staley and WNBA coaches Mike Thibault, Brian Agler, Cheryl Reeve, Dan Hughes and Lin Dunn, among others, all possessed the credentials to assume they would be candidates.

The problem was, Jerry Colangelo, chairman of USA Basketball, and Carol Callan, the manager of the women’s program, had decided from the start they wanted to replicate a environment of continuity similar to what exists on the men’s side. Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski is serving his third straight term.

Altavilla is absolutely correct.

I'd like to see Mike Thibault - one of the most intelligent coaches I've ever spoken with - have a chance. Ditto Dawn Staley, Sylvia Hatchell (both just inducted into the Naismith Hall), Lin Dunn and Brian Agler. Who knows what special touches each one of these coaches could add to a talented group of athletes. I guess we won't find out anytime soon.

What's good for the men's team isn't necessarily good for the women; we should all know that by now. Last year the women's team won their fifth consecutive gold medal, which isn't something the men can say. They were good before Auriemma, and will continue to be, as the best players in the world come from the U.S. They don't need Auriemma to preserve an already-established legacy.

I don't like looking ahead to the Olympics already somewhat disappointed, but I am. Those who jockeyed for this deja vu have misguided notions.

Story lines

With her WNBA record 51 points yesterday, it's no surprise that Riquna Williams was named the West's player of the week. Angel McCoughtry got the honor for the East.

Teams are still jockeying for playoff position as we enter the final week of regular season play.

Team news:

Storm....will honor Tina Thompson this Saturday.

The Storm have overcome much adversity to reach the playoffs.

Fever....Erin Phillips has returned from injury and is gearing up for the playoffs.

Mystics....a minute with Michelle Snow.

Tomorrow's game previews:

Mystics at Fever

Mercury at Liberty

Lynx at Storm (again?)

College news:

After being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame this weekend, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley was back at work today.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sparks host annual season ticket holder picnic

Today Los Angeles Sparks and coaches hosted several hundred season ticket holders at the annual "MVP picnic." Fans got a chance to talk to athletes, get autographs and play games.

Candace Parker and husband Shelden Williams brought four-year-old daughter Lailaa, and Nneka Ogwumike's sister Chiney was in attendance. Chiney, who is now a senior at Stanford University, posed for numerous pictures with her sister, and signed autographs.

Ebony Hoffman shares a laugh with Roosevelt Madison, husband of Sparks majority owner Paula Madison.

At the autograph table with Farhiya Abdi and Jenna O'Hea, Candace Parker reacts after learning that the NFL's Chicago Bears have just scored.

Full photo gallery

Link on

Riquna Williams scores 51 points, breaks WNBA scoring record

In the Shock's 98-65 routing of the Silver Stars, second-year guard Riquna Williams scored 51 points and broke the WNBA's scoring record. The previous record in a single game was 47 points - a feat accomplished by both Diana Taurasi and Lauren Jackson.

In other games:

The Mercury pressed past the Dream, 79-71.

The Sky pulled away from the Mystics, 93-79.

Sylvia Hatchell and Dawn Staley enshrined in the Naismith Hall of Fame

In a ceremony today, Sylvia Hatchell and Dawn Staley were enshrined in the Naismith Hall of Fame.

Hatchell's acceptance speech.

Staley's acceptance speech.

Both greats address the media after the ceremony.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Fever clinch playoff spot; Lynx tied for first in West

The Fever's 69-60 win over the Sun have put them into the playoffs. It's their ninth consecutive trip to the post-season.

Whomever thought Indiana or the Mercury would make it, given the horrible start to their respective seasons?

The Lynx defeated the Storm, 75-60, to tie with the Sparks for first in the Western Conference. Minnesota visits Los Angeles Thursday for the final match up of the five-game series between the two teams. They are currently tied at two a piece.

Tomorrow's game previews:

Mercury at Dream

Sky at Mystics

Shock at Silver Stars

Friday, September 6, 2013

Playoffs getting set

Some close games tonight:

The Sun got by the Mystics, 77-70.

The Dream cruised past the Liberty, 70-57. Atlanta forward Angel McCoughtry scored her 3,000th point during the contest.

The Sparks held on to beat the Shock, 74-70.

The Fever slipped past the Sky, 82-77. Indiana ties for third in the East, with the Mystics.

The Mercury staved off the surging Silver Stars, 83-80. The results mean Phoenix clinched a playoff spot, and San Antonio was eliminated.

The Storm have also earned a playoff spot, thanks to a tie-breaker, so the Western Conference is accounted for tonight.

Team news:

Lynx....have signed Lindsay Whalen to a multi-year contract extension.

Sun....Tina Charles will miss the last five games of the season to rest injuries.

Shock....are playing for pride with the playoffs out of reach.

Mercury....are healthy and looking to define roles in the face of the post-season.

Liberty....retiring veteran Katie Smith has got next - several upcoming new careers.

Mystics....coaches corner with assistant Marianne Stanley.

Tomorrow's game previews:

Sun at Fever

Lynx at Storm


Dawn Staley and Sylvia Hatchell will be inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame this weekend.

Staley continually raised the bar as a player.

Hatchell has always been there for her players.

As expected, Geno Auriemma was named the USA's Olympic coach for the 2016 Games.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Geno Auriemma reportedly will coach Olympic team in 2016

Geno Auriemma is supposedly returning to coach the US Olympic team in 2016.

USA Basketball will have a press conference tomorrow to officially name the coach.

WNBA team news:

Sky....guard Sharnee Zoll-Norman has joined Athlete Ally - a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating homophobia in sport. She will join Sparks guard Kristi Toliver as a representative in the WNBA.

Mercury....are finding a way to beat the heat in Arizona.

Diana Taurasi is playing better than ever this season.

Lynx....for Minnesota, the playoffs begin now.

Mystics....a minute with Crystal Langhorne.

Swish Appeal analyzes the Mystics.

Tomorrow's game previews:

Mystics at Sun

Dream at Liberty

Sparks at Shock

Fever at Sky

Silver Stars at Mercury

College news:

Top recruit Chelsea Dungee has found a new home at Oklahoma since the Oklahoma State tragedy in 2011.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Season-ending injuries

Shock center Liz Cambage is out for the season with a sprained left ankle. She injured it at the Sparks game Aug. 25, and hasn't played since.

Silver Stars guard Davellyn Whyte is lost for the season with a partially torn Achilles tendon. She will be replaced by former San Diego State point guard Chelsea Hopkins.

Dream secures playoff spot; Sparks-Lynx series evened up

The Dream beat the Fever in overtime, 89-80, and secured a playoff berth. Angel McCoughtry lead Atlanta with 30 points.

In the evening's match up the Lynx defeated the Sparks, 83-74, to even the series between the two teams at two a piece.

General WNBA:

The WNBA's annual player and coach awards are just around the corner. The Associated Press previews the races.

Sylvia Fowles and Maya Moore are the league's Eastern and Western Conference players of the month.

Tennessee's three Meeks were reunited briefly tonight, as Chamique Holdsclaw and Semeka Randall went to watch Tamika Catchings in the Fever-Dream game. It was part of Atlanta's "We back Pat" night, to raise funds for the Pat Summitt Foundation.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Dream beat Sparks in the battle of the #2 seeds

In Atlanta tonight, it was Dream 92, Sparks 82 in the battle of the two conference #2 seeds.

Game notes and quotes:


Atlanta snapped a four-game losing streak while improving 15-13, including a 5-5 mark against teams from the Western Conference.

The Dream improved to 12-3 at Philips Arena, matching the franchise record for most home wins in a season (2009). All 12 wins have come by at least nine points.

Atlanta now leads the all-time series 8-4, and has won four straight against Los Angeles in Philips Arena. Last season in Atlanta, the Dream set a franchise record with a 33-point margin of victory against the Sparks (92-59).

The 92 points scored by the Dream were the most by the team since scoring 93 against San Antonio on June 30.

The Dream shot 52.3 percent from the field (34-of-65) and 91.7 percent from the free throw line (22-of-24).

Atlanta had a 25-8 edge in points off turnovers, and a 50-32 advantage in points in the paint. It marked the fifth time this season the Dream has scored at least 50 points in the paint.

Atlanta led by 11 at the end of the first quarter (25-14) and 16 points at halftime (48-32). It was the Dream’s largest halftime lead since Atlanta led Connecticut at the half, 40-20, on July 24.

All five Atlanta starters scored in double figures. It marked the first time this season the Dream has accomplished that feat.

Erika de Souza tied her career high with 27 points to lead the Dream, and added six rebounds and two assists. It was the third time in her career she has scored 27 points.

Jasmine Thomas matched her career highs in both points and rebounds, totaling 19 points and eight boards. Both career highs were initially set in 2011 while with Washington. She also added three assists and a steal.

Alex Bentley tied the team record for assists in a game with 11, and had her first career double-double by adding 10 points. She matched the team record for assists set by Kristin Haynie on July 5, 2008, and Nikki Teasley on June 26, 2009.

Angel McCoughtry scored 16 points and added four assists, three rebounds and three steals. She has scored at least 15 points in all 27 of her games.

Le’Coe Willingham scored a season-high 16 points, and added six rebounds and two assists. Her previous season high for points was seven on three occasions.


· Los Angeles had a three-game winning streak snapped, falling to 21-9 overall, including a 9-2 mark against teams from the Eastern Conference.

· The Sparks are now 8-7 in road games this season.

· Los Angeles started the fourth quarter trailing 71-54, but opened the quarter on a 16-4 run to cut the deficit to 75-70. The Sparks, however, would get no closer.

· Nneka Ogwumike had her ninth double-double of the season, finishing with team highs of 17 points and 10 rebounds.

· Candace Parker reached double figures for the 23rd time in 27 games, totaling 16 points, nine rebounds and eight assists and three steals.

· Lindsey Harding finished in double figures for the 18th time this season, scoring 16 points with three assists.

· Kristi Toliver tied a career high with nine assists, and also reached double figures for the 22nd time with 12 points. Her previous career high for assists was nine on two occasions, including Aug. 6 at Connecticut.


Atlanta Dream Head Coach Fred Williams

On difference between tonight’s game and Saturday’s game at Chicago…

“I think just being able to have a couple days of rest, and also getting the practice in and making some adjustments. I thought our energy levels were a lot higher tonight. We shot the ball pretty well.”

On Alex Bentley’s double-double…

“Having 11 assists, that says a lot for her and her teammates, and also to be able to get to the rim and score.”

On Jasmine Thomas’ performance…

“Yes, she really turned the corner with her quick speed. We just told her to remember the days she played in college when she would just move by people, and I just asked her to do that tonight.”

On concerns with foul trouble during the game…

“I played them through it. I didn’t want to change the rhythm of the game. They’re always going to play aggressive and so I told them that tonight is the night. If they were going to foul out, then this is going to be the night that it will happen.”

On getting every loose ball…

“The loose ball shows a lot of hustle. Also our players coming off the bench sparked us, too. Aneika Henry and Courtney Clements came off the bench and got some key steals and rebounds for us. Those things don’t show up on stats but it shows up in the locker room.”

On being more animated in the fourth quarter…

“We were just trying to match energy, both the energy I had on the sidelines and L.A’s energy. The players were able to step up and make key shots and steals.”

Atlanta Dream Guard Alex Bentley

On her overall performance…

“I just give it all to my teammates, they help me out. Armintie was talking to me and coaching me from the sideline, and she really helped me out tonight.

On getting her first double-double in the WNBA…

“This is my first one, so it feels good! Any way I can help my teammates win ball games, that’s my focus.”

On her strategy to drive in the lane…

“Coach chose both me and Jasmine Thomas. Anytime we have an open lane we can drive it in. We’re both fast, we’re both quick and we both make good decisions. So we’re driving and kicking it all night if we can.”

Atlanta Dream Guard-Forward Angel McCoughtry

On the importance of winning tonight…

“It’s an important win against a great team. Also, without our three best players, that shows that if we put our minds to it then we can beat anybody we want. We know we get a little tired, we get some bumps, but we just have to focus because it’s the playoffs now. We’re going to do what we can to be better at this point.”

Los Angeles Sparks Head Coach Carol Ross

Opening Statement…

“Fred had them ready to go. They came out with more punch and swagger then we did. We were playing off our back foot for most of the night. We had a little crack in the door; we just couldn’t get over the hump.”

On being down by just five at one point…

“Bottom line is they had 50 points in the paint and they had 25 points off of turnovers.”

On not losing many…

“We lost big and we win big, we are still growing and still learning”

On defense…

“It was terrible, it was awful. We weren’t physical. If you are not physical, you have to be fast and we were neither one of those things.”

On the loss…

“This time of year you don’t want to be losing much. It was disappointing but if you are going to lose I guess this is the time for it, before post-season. If we learn something and we can become something different from it, then we can take this. It’s not always if you win or lose, it’s how you lose and I’m not happy how we lost.”

On being in Atlanta…

“They are very good on their home court, their fans are very good and it’s not necessarily basketball whether or not you win the game, it’s the edge and they had it.”

Los Angeles Sparks Forward-Center Candace Parker

On the loss…

“At this point of the season it was hard, especially how they did it. They had us at 20 at one point. We have to get better, at this point of the season. I would think we would have solved the problems of coming out sluggish and not playing well in the first half and trying to throw a Hail Mary in the fourth quarter and try to come back from being down 17.”

On the aggressive rebounds…

“It’s been like that awhile. We haven’t been able to get defensive rebounds as well as we want to. Last time we played Atlanta, they killed us in defensive rebounds. It is definitely something we have to solve.”

On playing Minnesota next…

“They have the best record in the league right now; it’s that in itself that we have to come ready to the gym to play because if we don’t, we will get the same result.”

Los Angeles Sparks Guard Lindsey Harding

On coming back to Atlanta…

“It’s always good being back in Atlanta.”

On if being back in Atlanta effected her play…

“It’s just like playing any other team. I have played on other teams previously.”

On defense…

“We have to continue to play together. We scored enough points to win, but when you have a team scoring over 90 points, that’s really our lack of defense. They did a great job at attacking so we need to regroup and come together if we want to win a championship. We are in the position to do that, we just have to keep playing.”

On turnovers…

“We have to make better passes. A lot of our offense comes from our defense, and if we aren’t getting stops it slows the game down. We don’t want to go that slow, just take care of the ball and be more aggressive.”

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Preseason workout: full-court shooting drill

Founder and Owner of SMARTER Team Training, LLC

Fall sports are going full speed and the trees are starting to drop their leaves. AAU try outs are starting up and basketball coaches are winding down their summer schedules. College basketball players have put in a ton of work this summer both on the court and in the weight room, and as open gyms and preseason practices start up, they remain busy.

This time of year coaches typically start calling around to try to find out what others are doing for their “fitness test.” It feels like a right of passage when playing on a team to have to worry about how you are going to do on a day that really makes very little difference in the overall performance of an individual on game day, and certainly even less when considering all that goes on throughout a successful season.

Preparation is key to any successful coach, player, team, and season. Getting in basketball shape is imperative to any program across the country at this time of year. High school athletes are sometimes playing several sports, and are practicing and competing at a high level, both effort-wise and skill-wise. However, just because you can run up and down a soccer field, put in the miles during cross country, are able to stay low when playing defense during the field hockey game, the demands of basketball are unique.

Coaches can help themselves and their teams by developing a progressive approach to their basketball preseason, which involves conditioning, cutting, shooting, defensive positioning, jumping, landing, and many more variables. They must do this while holding the players accountable. How many sprints do you need to complete to “be ready”? How many shots do you need to take to be “clutch”? To be honest, no one really knows. But we do realize that there is a combination that needs to take place - a magic recipe if you will - to prepare the body for the demands of the game of basketball.

Here is one full court shooting workout that we use to incorporate communication, leadership, and accountability. Working in groups of three, this small unit of players has to compete until they make forty combined shots - roughly 80 points if you want to add a motivational twist. One player completes the workout described below, one person has to make two free throws (and we track made shots for bonus points. Every time two free throws are made in a row, it counts as a “one shot bonus” or “two points.” Missing either free throw equals zero bonus points). The third teammate has to rebound, pass, and inspire their teammate to achieve greatness.

Full Court Shooting Workout #8

Receive pass, and make shot from deep baseline corner. Sprint to cone, sprint back to just inside arc, receiving pass over mid-court. Make shot. Sprint around second cone, to mid-court, around third cone, and back to just inside arc. Receiving pass over mid-court, and making shot. Sprint around last cone, to corner opposite start. Receive pass, and make shot to stop clock. Goal is to make all four shots under 40 seconds. Rotate from shooter, to free throw, to rebounder in less than five seconds.


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Dream crushers

The Shock beat the Liberty today, 93-88. Shock guard Riquna Williams was blunt about Tulsa's goals right now:

''This feels great,'' Williams said. ''We are riding high right now and we just want to keep this up. We know our playoff hopes are over. Now we want to crush other people's dreams.''


Tomorrow's game preview:

Sparks at Dream