Sunday, August 31, 2014

Lynx rally to win, even the series

What an exciting finish today in Western Conference finals game two, as Minnesota rallied to beat Phoenix, 82-77.

Maya Moore had 32 points, Seimone Augustus put up 23, and Lindsay Whalen had 17.

It was a dramatic ending for the Mercury.

Mo'Ne Davis: to meet some of her idols today at Western Conference Finals game two.



On a side note, one writer says Davis has money-making potential.

Eastern Conference finals:

The Sky's fate rests with their shooting stars.

Women in coaching:

The coaching journey for women has become easier in the WNBA.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Friday, August 29, 2014

WCF game one: Mercury 85, Lynx 71

Not the battle most fans expected: Mercury 85, Lynx 71.

Box score:

All five Phoenix starters in double figures, while MVP Maya Moore we held to nine points, and the Minnesota bench was non-existent.

Game two in Minneapolis Sunday.

Western Conference finals game one pre-funk

General playoff news:

Key storylines, including that for the first time in league history, there are four female coaches heading the finals teams.

West news:

An old WNBA rivalry is rekindled in Minnesota vs. Phoenix.

The Mercury is in a tough finals match up with the Lynx.

Minnesota meets their match in Phoenix.

Spotlight on Mercury All-Star Diana Taurasi.

The Lynx talk playoff intensity.

East news:

Now, the Sky have to break the Fever.

Tamika Catchings is pitted against Elena Delle Donne.

A statistical look at Tamika Catchings.

Coach Lin Dunn's only focus is the Fever.

Can Elena Delle Donne will the Sky to the Finals?

Non-playoff news:

Candace Parker is going to star in an independent film called "Leader of the Pack."

Donna Brazile will receive the 2014 WNBA Inspiration Award.

Storm exit interviews: Waltiea Rolle made use of her short stay.

College news:

Samantha Drake will forgo her senior season at Kentucky. She suffered a torn ACL and meniscus last year.

Former Purdue center Camille Redmon has landed at Boise State.

Sam Pierce is a new assistant coach at Akron.

Wichita State freshman Anna Khmelevskaya has returned to Russia.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The road (and days) to the conference finals

Western Conference finals:

The Lynx-Mercury series offers intriguing match ups.

Game one Friday in Phoenix will be a "white out."


The hard road to a Lynx dynasty.

Rookie Damiris Dantas could miss all of the West finals games due to family matters.

Today's practice report.


The Mercury will rely on Brittney Griner's mojo in the series with Minnesota.

Eastern Conference finals:


Are charging into the Conference finals.

Practice report and videos.

It's harder to find Eastern Conference finals stories because the Indianapolis Star has one story today, on how Marissa Coleman likes Peyton Manning. (What relevance is this to the playoffs???) And the Chicago Sun Times has jack squat. As usual.

Non-playoff news:


Exit interview with Kara Lawson.


Candace Parker is in this week's issue of People Magazine.

Skylar Diggins is Most Improved Player

Skylar Diggins wins most improved player award.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sky come from behind to beat Atlanta by one point

Um, wow:

ATLANTA (AP) -- Despite trailing by 17 early in the fourth quarter, the Chicago Sky weren't ready to give up on their season. Instead, they kept their focus and pulled off the biggest fourth-quarter comeback in WNBA playoff history.

Elena Delle Donne scored 17 of her 34 points in the final period, including the winning jumper with 8.4 seconds left, as the Sky rallied from 20 points down to beat the Atlanta Dream 81-80 on Tuesday night and advance to the Eastern Conference finals......

Shoni Schimmel's jumper gave Atlanta an 80-77 lead with 29 seconds left, but Delle Donne made two jumpers in the last 24 seconds - with the final basket giving Chicago its first lead since 6-5.

''It was just a resilient effort by my team. Obviously, Atlanta owned us for much of the game,'' Sky coach Pokey Chatman said. ''They were having our way us in terms of points in the paint. Everything was not in our favor, but we stayed the course, and when it got late it became time for players to make plays. My big time player (Delle Donne) stepped up.''

About a minute after the game was over, the WNBA announced the Eastern Conference finals schedule:

Indiana vs. Chicago

Game 1 – Sat August 30 Chicago at Indiana 7:00PM 7:00PM NBA TV

Game 2 – Mon September 1 Indiana at Chicago 3:00PM 4:00PM NBA TV

Game 3 * Wed September 3 Chicago at Indiana 7:00PM 7:00PM NBA TV

Thinking second round

Mercury and Lynx by the numbers.

Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve feels good about her team heading into the series.

Podcast with Maya Moore.


Swin Cash will be part of an historic, all-female sports show.

USA Basketball:

The U.S. Youth Olympic 3X3 team won the gold medal today, beating the Netherlands, 19-10. It's the first such gold medal for America. The team included Arike Ogunbowale, De'Janae Boykin, Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Western Conference finals kick off Friday

Minnesota visits Phoenix Friday for game one of the Western Conference finals. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. Pacific/10 p.m. Eastern, and will be broadcast on NBA TV/LiveAccess. Game two is in Minnesota, at 12:30 p.m./3:30 p.m. Sunday, on ABC.

The Sky and Dream meet up tomorrow to see who will face Indiana in the Eastern Conference finals.

More playoff news:

Lynx point guard Lindsay Whalen showed "leadership in full display" in Saturday's game.

Game notes from last night's Mercury-Sparks match up:

Brittney Griner was at half court in the third quarter, with only Sparks forward Sandrine Gruda in the vicinity. She looked back to make sure no one else was around, and at that moment I knew what she was about to do.

BOOM! Nice dunk. And the Staples crowd continued to make a lot of nose even 30 seconds later. It was like people couldn't get over it.

Glory Johnson was sitting behind the Mercury bench, looking mighty glamorous in her outfit, to support her fiance.

Non-playoff news:

The post-Hammon era awaits the Stars.

Storm exit interviews: Angel Robinson left an impression.

Why the Liberty shouldn't fire coach Bill Laimbeer.

Newly-engaged Brittney Griner takes control of her life.

USA Basketball training camp rosters set

Bria Hartley and Chiney Ogwumike have been added to the USA Basketball Women's National Team roster.

What a roster:

Seimone Augustus
Sue Bird
DeWanna Bonner
Tamika Catchings
Tina Charles
Elena Delle Donne
Skylar Diggins
Stefanie Dolson
Candice Dupree
Sylvia Fowles
Brittney Griner
Bria Hartley
Briann January
Jantel Lavender
Kayla McBride
Angel McCoughtry
Maya Moore
Chiney Ogwumike
Nneka Ogwumike
Candace Parker
Danielle Robinson
Odyssey Sims
Breanna Stewart
Diana Taurasi
Courtney Vandersloot
Lindsay Whalen
Monica Wright

Good lord a mercy.

Training camp schedule.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Dream force a game three; Mercury rout Sparks

Angel McCoughtry's 39 points powered the Dream past the Sky, 92-83, to force a game three.

The Mercury routed the Sparks, 93-68, to advance to the Western Conference finals.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Interview outtakes: more glimpses

Journalists ask athletes a lot of questions: before the game, after the game - and about all kinds of topics. Not every statement makes a story; in fact, quite a few quotes land on the cutting room floor, to borrow a phrase from film.

Reporters also sometimes ask questions with the future in mind - like when they have a hunch about something - and they save those athlete statements for an appropriate time.

Some of each scenario is the case with these gems. Enjoy.


Indiana Fever, from 26 days ago:

Me: What’s bringing you together right now?

Tamika Catchings: Confidence – that’s a really big thing for us. And unity: when one of us is struggling, the others step up.

Me: Does this team still have that 2012 championship mentality?

Tamika Catchings: We say, let’s focus on defense – our offense will come. The more we play with each other the more comfortable we get. Hitting open shots is a big part of it. In the championship, I thought everybody at the right time was on; we can still do that.

Me: What's it going to be like when Coach Dunn is gone?

Tamika Catchings: It's going to be weird - she's been my coach for the last seven years.

At first we really butted heads. We both wanted the same things, but we both had completely different ideas about how to get there. Eventually I had to take a step back; she’s the coach, and we have to do it her way. Now, we’re pretty tight.

It’ll definitely be different not having her here.

Me: Have people been asking you about retirement?

Tamika Catchings: Yes. And I do want to get married and have babies before I get too old. But I want to make one more Olympic team before that happens. All in due time.


Me: You seem like a completely different player this year, in your second season. What's the difference between your rookie year and this one?

Layshia Clarendon: I think just experience. It’s so hard to come in and be a rookie and be a point guard, especially. The speed of the game, the plays – everything is so much faster. I feel a big difference from last year; just the speed, and processing information. I feel it when I play: I’m not so frantic. You try to absorb it; you get two weeks of training camp and then your first game. Last year I was mixing up our plays with the Cal plays, just struggling a little bit.

Me: Where did you play overseas again?

Layshia Clarendon: I was in Czech Republic in Prague. The team and the organization was great, I had a great experience as far as the organization. But I became fatigued and my back started flaring up, so I came home early.

Me: You guys say you're coming together now. Why is that?

Layshia Clarendon: Half of our team as new. You’re counting me as a returner, and a veteran in my second year? People forget sometimes that we’re such a young team.


Me: How is the Fever coming together as a team right now?

Briann January: I think we’re in a different phase for our team. In the initial phases we were integrating the newcomers. Half the team was new and they weren’t familiar with our system. And with the absence of Tamika it was tough. We were working through kinks and learning each other. Now we have the experience of playing together and it’s time to really get better as a team.

Me: Do you all feel like you have a championship team?

Briann January: I think we could. Every year I’ve been here, Indiana’s been that team no one talks about but ends up in the finals. That’s always how it is. We constantly see ourselves as the underdogs, and we just try to get out there and grind. We don’t try to think about where we’re placed and how we’re seen as – we just get out there and work hard every day. That’s what got us a championship. We’re trying to get back for sure.


All-Star Game, July 19, 2014:

Me: Can you describe your first All-Star Game experience?

Skylar Diggins: It meant a lot to me to come out here and be part of this All-Star experience. It’s amazing – it’s great. I thought we did some great things as a team and for women’s basketball. Anytime you get a chance to play against the best in the world, to try to figure out how to stop them. Just to try to pick them apart and figure out why they’re so great. Even if it’s just a few days, it’s great to spend time with these vets and players. You don’t get to play with them or haven’t played with them in a while.

The fans were awesome; Phoenix is a great host city.

East open practice, July 18, 2014:

Me: So after a practice like this, what's the plan for tomorrow?

Angel McCoughtry: To whip some West behind!


Connecticut Sun rookie Chiney Ogwumike, from 20 days ago:

Me: Can you talk about the youth of the Connecticut Sun?

Chiney Ogwumike: Our youth really came in big for us when we played San Antonio the other night. Alyssa Thomas was great, Alex Bentley was great. San Antonio made it a great game for us because of our youth. We weren’t experienced in how to close out. Even though our youth is a good thing, we have to learn how to gain experience as we go. The addition of Ebony Hoffman, and having Katie Douglas here has really helped us. They’ve been the voice in the locker room trying to keep us on the straight and narrow. Even though we’re young, we use it to our advantage a lot in sprinting and being aggressive. At the same time, we have to learn how to play experienced basketball. I think that’s what’s been going on throughout the year, and I think we’re finally getting back to it.

Me: The team is very promising.

Chiney Ogwumike: We have a very young team, and we know that even though there will be struggles over the next few years, we’re building something really special. It might seem like the beginning of something really special here. We’re trying to enjoy the process of building something. Every game isn’t going to be fun, but enjoy the ups and downs, because when you look back it’ll be something very special. I’m enjoying being in Connecticut and everyone can see that’s happening.

Allie Quigley is sixth woman of the year

Chicago's Allie Quigley has won the sixth woman of the year award.

Two tickets punched to the conference finals

The Fever beat the Mystics in overtime, 81-76, to win the series and advance to the Eastern Conference finals.

Tamika Catchings again lead Indiana, with 26 points and 11 rebounds. But this time her point contributions put her past Lisa Leslie as the WNBA's all-time postseason scoring leader. The goat! I love this part of the story:

As the unassuming talk continued, Indiana coach Lin Dunn interrupted her star player.

"Let me elaborate because she's too modest," Dunn said. "I think the records she's set so far in the playoffs indicate to me that you may be watching one of the greatest players to ever play our game."

In the West, the Lynx overcame a slow start and ground out a win over the Stars, 94-89. Lindsay Whalen lead Minnesota with 31 points. The game also ended the career of retiring Stars guard Becky Hammon.

As they did last year with retiring Tina Thompson when they took the Storm out of the playoffs, Minnesota players crowded around Hammon post-game to get a group photo. I joked on twitter that their new team name is the Career Enders.

Tomorrow's games:

The Sky are eyeing a spot in the Eastern Conference finals.

The Mercury plan to improve their rebounding against the Sparks.

Becky Hammon wins Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award

Retiring Becky Hammon will collect the Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award before tonight's Lynx-Stars game.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Little League world series is over, and women's sports are again shoved to the side

Great commentary by Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins:

Now she will go back to taking penciled tests, as opposed to being recruited into social-science conversations about gender and whether biology is destiny. Everyone wants to say something important about Davis, but what really needs to be said is this: As she returns to the dim, dull regular school day, may her experience as a Little Leaguer not be the pinnacle of her athletic life. Because something dimmer and duller is what Davis can expect when the men at ESPN, Sports Illustrated and Deadspin lose interest in her.......

So while it’s great that a 13-year-old girl was treated as an accomplished athlete, I’d be more grateful if Candace Parker and Diana Taurasi, two of the greatest basketball players on earth, didn’t have to spend the winter in Russia just to make a decent living. “If only we had a Davis every single day in the media for girls,” (Billie Jean) King says.....

For a few brief days, Mo’ne Davis caused some powerful men to think in a different way about sport, to see exciting new potential in a little girl. She was so viscerally striking that she shifted their perceptions of female capacities. Maybe that will lead them in turn to another visceral perception: of how much female aspiration gets suffocated daily by the inevitable narrowing of access, opportunity and attention, and the small, deadening, devaluing assumption that because her body isn’t as big as a man’s, her talent, by definition, can’t be as important.

But Jenkins' best paragraph provides hope:

The point of Mo’ne Davis is not what she proves about girls against boys. The real point of her is how a stunning wildflower can bloom in even the stoniest soil, given the tiniest opportunity and some sustenance. Look what can happen, how a child can burst out of category. Look what athletic striving can result in — that tremendous rearing back of hers, and then the delivery, a white streak that seemed to leave a groove in the air.

And this is why I keep writing.

Round one, two more close games

Oh what a night:

The Sky edged the Dream, 80-77.

The Mercury held off the Sparks, 75-72. Diana Taurasi had a playoff-best 34 points for Phoenix.

All four day one games were close and exciting, and I love it.

Mystics-Fever and Lynx-Stars go at it in second games tomorrow.

Last-minute bits before round one, game one, part two

With Brittney Griner in the middle, the Mercury aim for a title.

Maya Moore has always given her all - just ask her mother.

Will officiating be a factor for Indiana in game two?

Non-playoff news:

Seattle Storm season recap - good stuff.

College news:

Tennessee's Mercedes Russell will miss the 2014-2015 season as she recovers from foot problems.

Ryan Johnson has joined Idaho State as an assistant coach.

Storm get first draft pick, plan to go young

Storm get first draft pick, plan to go young.

COY, defensive POY, defensive teams named

Mercury coach Sandy Brondello is the coach of the year.

Phoenix center Brittney Griner is defensive player of the year.

All-defensive teams:


Player Team Position Points

Brittney Griner Phoenix Mercury Center 55
Sancho Lyttle Atlanta Dream Forward 45
Briann January Indiana Fever Guard 34
Angel McCoughtry Atlanta Dream Forward 30
Tanisha Wright Seattle Storm Guard 30


Player Team Position Points

Alana Beard Los Angeles Sparks Guard 29
Tamika Catchings Indiana Fever Forward 29
Danielle Robinson San Antonio Stars Guard 27
Sylvia Fowles Chicago Sky Center 17
Maya Moore Minnesota Lynx Forward 17

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Fever, Lynx survive in thrilling game night

Both of tonight's first-round games were just the way fans love them: close and full of suspense.

The Fever got by the Mystics, 78-73. Tamika Catchings lead Indiana with 22 points.

Catchings has broken one record and may break another:

Catchings needs 21 points to become the league's all-time playoff scoring leader. Her 10 boards helped her pass Lisa Leslie as the WNBA's career leading rebounder in the postseason.

''The thing that's so special about her is that she's so multidimensional,'' Fever coach Lin Dunn said. ''She's doing something everywhere. She's a once-in-a-lifetime player and I'm privileged and honored that I've gotten to coach her.''

Then Minnesota survived a huge run by San Antonio to win, 88-84. They were lead by 26 points from Maya Moore, who received the MVP trophy in a pre-game ceremony.

I've got to give props to all four teams, and all four coaches. Lin Dunn, Mike Thibault, Cheryl Reeve and Dan Hughes set the standard.

Another leak: coach and defensive player of the year

Another "person close to the situation" reports that Mercury coach Sandy Brondello has won coach of the year, and Phoneix center Brittney Griner has been tabbed defensive player of the year.

I'm guessing that the Sky's Allie Quigley has collected the sixth woman of the year award, as Jia Perkins of the Stars wasn't presented with it before tonight's game.

Playoff fever


Retiring coach Lin Dunn has her mind on a title, not a final run.

Dunn is feisty, not always G-rated, and comes with a Southern drawl.


The defending champion Lynx open the playoffs in the shadow of the Phoenix Mercury.

What's working, what's not.

Minnesota couldn't ask for anything more from MVP Maya Moore.

She stepped up her game to win this year's MVP award.

Moore has become a lean, scoring machine.

Rebekkah Brunson is happy to be a Lynx for life.


After a record-setting season, Phoenix's mission starts anew.

Preparation marks Sandy Brondello's coaching for the Mercury.


....have unfinished business entering the playoffs.

They are in an unfamiliar position at the top.


The young Mystics look to make some noise.

Stars: by the three to take the third seed.


A disappointing Sparks team gets a second chance in the postseason.


....are the wild card in the playoffs.

Adversity has prepped them for the postseason.

General playoffs:

Five things to know about the WNBA playoffs.

Here's the transcript from Tuesday's media conference call with coaches, players and ESPN analysts. You can probably guess which questions were mine, that enabled me to write my playoff preview story.

Draft lottery: tonight at halftime of the Fever-Mystics game - 5 p.m. Pacific/8 p.m. Eastern.


Chelsea Gray hopes to make her WNBA debut next spring.

Bill Laimbeer and Cappie Pondexter reflect on a disappointing season for New York.

Maya Moore is 2014 MVP

It's official:

NEW YORK, Aug. 21, 2014 – Maya Moore of the Minnesota Lynx has been named the 2014 WNBA Most Valuable Player presented by Samsung, the WNBA announced today. Moore received 371 points (including 35 first-place votes) from a national panel of 38 sportswriters and broadcasters.


Points Player Team

371 Maya Moore, Minnesota Lynx
242 Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury
112 Angel McCoughtry, Atlanta Dream
91 Candace Parker, Los Angeles Sparks
67 Brittney Griner, Phoenix Mercury

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Gunning for Thursday and Friday


Phoenix heads to the playoffs historically hot.


The Lynx still feel they are the team to beat.

Coach Cheryl Reeve says the team is in a championship mindset.

An experienced Minnesota is ready for their playoff run.

The rookies are ready.

Today's practice report.


Coach Lin Dunn and All-Star forward Tamika Catchings talk after today's practice. The team is gearing up.


Mystics rookie Stefanie Dolson has grown and adapted this season.

A minute with Ivory Latta.

Non-playoff news:

Maya Moore of the Minnesota Lynx, Courtney Paris of the Tulsa Shock and Diana Taurasi of the Phoenix Mercury have won the 2014 WNBA Peak Performer Awards for scoring, rebounding and assists, respectively.

The Sun's off-season begins now.

WNBA draft to be Aug. 21, on ESPN2


-- Tulsa, Seattle, and Connecticut to Vie for Top Pick in 2015 --

NEW YORK, Aug. 19, 2014 – The 2015 WNBA Draft Lottery presented by State Farm will be held in Secaucus, N.J., on Thursday, Aug. 21 and televised on ESPN2, the WNBA announced today. The telecast, hosted by Kevin Negandhi, will air during halftime of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals between the Washington Mystics and the Indiana Fever (tip-off at 7 p.m. ET). The winner of the Lottery will secure the top pick in the 2015 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm, to be conducted in April.

The Tulsa Shock, Seattle Storm, Connecticut Sun, and New York Liberty – all of whom did not qualify for the playoffs this season – qualified for the lottery.

Tulsa and Seattle, which both finished the year at 12-22, will have the most chances to land the top pick (359 chances each). Connecticut, which ended the campaign at 13-21, has 178 chances via its own finish and another 104 from New York (15-19). Connecticut owns New York’s first-round pick in 2015 following a draft day trade last April in which the Sun received the Liberty’s first round pick next year as well as Alyssa Thomas and Kelsey Bone in exchange for Tina Charles.

Tulsa and Seattle, which both finished the year at 12-22, will have the most chances to land the top pick (359 chances each). Connecticut, which ended the campaign at 13-21, has 178 chances via its own finish and another 104 from New York (15-19). Connecticut owns New York’s first-round pick in 2015 following a draft day trade last April in which the Sun received the Liberty’s first round pick next year as well as Alyssa Thomas and Kelsey Bone in exchange for Tina Charles.

WNBA officials and a representative from the accounting firm of Ernst & Young will conduct the draft lottery. The lottery will establish the first four picks of the draft. The order of selection for the remainder of the first round, as well as the second and third round, is determined by inverse order of the teams’ respective regular-season records from 2014.

Fourteen balls numbered 1-14 will be placed in a lottery machine and mixed. Four balls will then be drawn to the top to determine a four-digit combination. The team that has been assigned that four-ball combination will receive the No. 1 pick. The four balls will then be placed back into the machine and the process will be repeated to determine the second and third picks. The team that does not win one of the top three picks will be slotted fourth.

There are 1,001 possible combinations when four balls are drawn out of 14, without regard to their order of selection. One thousand of those combinations will be assigned to the four non-playoff teams based on their order of finish in the 2014 regular season. The remaining combination will be unassigned. If the one unassigned combination is drawn, the balls will be placed back into the machine and the process will be repeated until an assigned combination is drawn.

Only once in history has the WNBA Draft Lottery, instituted prior to the 2002 draft, gone exactly according to the odds. The Atlanta Dream, Washington Mystics, and Chicago Sky, respectively, entered the eighth annual lottery with the most chances to earn the top pick in the 2009 Draft, and came away with, in order, the first, second and third selections.

On two occasions, the team with the fewest chances of earning the top pick has come out on top. The Phoenix Mercury was the first to do so, winning the lottery for the 2007 Draft. The Los Angeles Sparks also overcame the longest odds and earned the No. 1 pick in the 2012 Draft. Phoenix used its No. 1 overall pick in 2007 to take Lindsey Harding of Duke; Los Angeles used its No. 1 selection in 2012 on Nneka Ogwumike of Stanford.

Connecticut won the most recent WNBA Draft Lottery, conducted on Dec. 10, 2013, and subsequently selected Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike first overall in the 2014 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm. That pick was followed, in order, by Tulsa (Odyssey Sims), San Antonio (Kayla McBride), and New York (Alyssa Thomas).

The following are the number of chances for teams to land the top pick in the 2015 WNBA Draft Lottery:


Team Record Chances (out of 1,000)

1. Tulsa 12-22 359

2. Seattle 12-22 359

3. Connecticut 13-21 178

4. Connecticut from New York 15-19 104

Following is the remaining order of the first round, as determined by 2014 regular-season records:


Team Record

5. Chicago 15-19

6. Indiana 16-18

7. Los Angeles 16-18

8. Washington 16-18

9. San Antonio 16-18

10. Atlanta 19-15

11. Minnesota 25-9

12. Phoenix 29-5


Regular season stat leaders


Points per game

Rank Team Games HME OPP DIFF

1 MERCURY 34 83.53 74.12 +9.41
2 LYNX 34 81.65 77.18 +4.47
3 SHOCK 34 81.18 83.27 -2.09
4 DREAM 34 80.59 78.53 +2.06
5 STARS 34 77.79 79.56 -1.77
6 SPARKS 34 77.41 77.62 -0.21
7 SKY 34 76.21 78.24 -2.03
8 SUN 34 75.68 77.50 -1.82
9 MYSTICS 34 74.27 73.82 +0.45
10 FEVER 34 74.15 75.12 -0.97
11 LIBERTY 34 72.15 75.21 -3.06
12 STORM 34 70.88 75.32 -4.44


Rebounds per game

Rank Team Games HME OPP DIFF

1 DREAM 34 37.71 34.35 +3.36
2 MYSTICS 34 35.38 33.82 +1.56
3 LYNX 34 35.27 32.56 +2.71
4 LIBERTY 34 34.77 33.91 +0.86
5 SHOCK 34 34.68 33.82 +0.86
6 SKY 34 34.18 35.91 -1.73
7 SUN 34 34.00 33.56 +0.44
8 MERCURY 34 33.71 34.47 -0.76
9 SPARKS 34 32.41 33.65 -1.24
10 FEVER 34 32.27 31.85 +0.42
11 STARS 34 31.68 34.12 -2.44
12 STORM 34 28.53 32.53 -4.00

Monday, August 18, 2014

Average age of WNBA teams

Pilight, aka Kevin Brown, promised me mid-season that he'd have the average age of players on each WNBA team at the end of the season. He posted that information today:

Playoff and non-playoff teams are all mixed, up and down the list. Interesting food for contemplation.

Thinking playoffs, and much more

ESPN's five questions for the WNBA postseason are good ones:

1. Can Phoenix finish what it started?

2. What's up with Minnesota?

3. Is Atlanta really prepared to challenge for a championship?

4. If not the Dream, who else in the East?

5. Which team could surprise?

That just about covers it all.

More playoff news:

Injuries are clouding the Lynx's playoff hopes.

Non-playoff news:

Five memorable moments of the 2014 season.

Veteran Storm point guard Sue Bird talks about her return to the court this season.

A real story of love and basketball: Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson.

Becky Hammon was on Good Morning America today talking about her new jobby job.

Players of the week, for the very last one, are Shoni Schimmel for the East and Kristi Toliver for the West.

Candice Dupree has signed a multi-year contract extension with the Mercury.

Connecticut Sun:

Who should stay and who should go.

The team sees the upside despite a losing record.

Rookie Chiney Ogwumike's special message for fans yesterday.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A little extra

Non-playoff-related WNBA news:


Amazing interview with Tanisha Wright.


After a season of inactivity, Chelsea Gray is eager to return to the court.

College news:

Nadine Domond is Grambling's new head coach.

Seth Ralston has been promoted to assistant coach at Austin Peay.

Coach Bill Fennelly is living the dream at Iowa State.

Playoff schedule is set

Today's results:

The Mercury downed the Storm, 78-65, to set a WNBA record for most wins in a season.

The Stars beat the Sky, 84-72. This gave San Antonio the third seed, as they win the tie-breaker with Los Angeles.

The Liberty upended the Fever, 73-61.

The Sun thrashed the Dream, 84-55.

Leads to the playoff schedule:

(Times are Pacific, Eastern, and national broadcast is listed)

Western Conference

Phoenix vs. Los Angeles

Game 1 – Fri August 22 Los Angeles at Phoenix 7:00PM 10:00PM NBA TV

Game 2 – Sun August 24 Phoenix at Los Angeles 6:00PM 9:00PM ESPN2

Game 3 * Tue August 26 Los Angeles at Phoenix 7:00PM 10:00PM NBA TV

Minnesota vs. San Antonio

Game 1 – Thu August 21 San Antonio at Minnesota 8:00PM 9:00PM ESPN2

Game 2 – Sat August 23 Minnesota at San Antonio 6:00PM 7:00PM ESPN2

Game 3 * Mon August 25 San Antonio at Minnesota TBD TBD NBA TV

Eastern Conference

Atlanta vs. Chicago

Game 1 – Fri August 22 Chicago at Atlanta 7:30PM 7:30PM NBA TV

Game 2 – Sun August 24 Atlanta at Chicago 6:00PM 7:00PM ESPN2

Game 3 * Tue August 26 Chicago at Atlanta 7:30PM 7:30PM NBA TV

Indiana vs. Washington

Game 1 – Thu August 21 Washington at Indiana 7:00PM 7:00PM ESPN2

Game 2 – Sat August 23 Indiana at Washington 5:00PM 5:00PM ESPN2

Game 3 * Mon August 25 Washington at Indiana TBD TBD NBA TV

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Second to last day

The Fever got past the Sky, 71-67, and secured the second playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. Tamika Catchings lead Indiana with 25 points.

The Lynx snapped their three-game losing streak to beat the Shock, 80-63. Maya Moore headed up Minnesota with 19 points and 12 rebounds.

The Mercury held off the Sparks, 76-69. Brittney Griner had 19 points for Phoenix.

The Liberty defeated the Mystics, 73-61.

Four more games tomorrow, which will decide the first-round match ups:

Dream at Sun
Stars at Sky (don't you LOVE it when they play each other??)
Fever at Liberty
Mercury at Storm

More WNBA news....


....raised the banner today for retiring coach Lin Dunn.


....have signed Rebekkah Brunson to a multi-year contract extension.

College news:

Former UConn guard Brianna Banks is transferring to Penn State.

The picture is clear now

Last night's results:

The Mystics edged the Sun, 71-67, and officially clinched a playoff spot. The fact that they did so where Washington coach Mike Thibault used to coach is ironic.

The Lynx lost their third straight game, falling to the Stars, 92-76. They were without the injured Seimone Augustus. In winning, San Antonio grabbed the last West playoff spot, eliminating the Storm.

The Dream pulled away from the Shock in the second half to down them, 92-76.

Crazy that two games on the same night had identical scores, isn't it?

The Sparks beat the Storm, 77-65, on 61 percent shooting.

Four more games on tap today:

Sky at Fever (Indiana is playing for second seed)
Liberty at Mystics
Shock at Lynx
Sparks at Mercury

If today's games are like they have been the last week, you might want to buckle up.

Becky Hammon retirement ceremony:

The Stars honored the outgoing veteran in grand style last night, following their defeat of Minnesota.

More WNBA news......


That loss the other night? Phoenix is more concerned about titles than records.


...have signed forward Sancho Lyttle to a multi-year contract extension.


....relish playoff spot after season of obstacles.


Mystics Magazine episode three gives us an all-access look at Tayler Hill and new baby.

College news:

At Indiana State, Joey Wells has been promoted to head coach.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The East is set

The Fever beat the Liberty, 76-63, and locked up the last playoff spot in the East.

Those going are Atlanta, Chicago, Washington and Indiana. The last spot in the West has yet to be clinched, but it looks to be San Antonio, which is two games ahead.


More WNBA news.....

Sun: promise but must do better.

Chiney Ogwumike feels right at home with the Sun.


Skylar Diggins talks about her lefty game and love of family.


A recap of last week's Showtime with Shoni.

Schimmel is a draw everywhere she goes.


More practice time is allowing the Storm to hold slim playoff hopes.


...are looking to rebound from late-game collapses.

Rebekkah Brunson podcast.

Another great blog from rookie Asia Taylor.

Will NCAA reforms be good for women's basketball and other women's sports?

Lots to digest here.

The fact that only 54 percent of Division I athletes' education is covered isn't sitting well.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Monday, August 11, 2014

Talking seeds

The Western Conference title might be out of reach, but the Lynx want a strong finish.

Intensity is the word.

Today's Minnesota practice report.

The Lynx host the Sparks tomorrow night.

The Mercury face the Liberty tomorrow, and want to win and clinch the West's top seed.

Players of the week:

Allie Quigley for the East and Brittney Griner for the West.

Laurel Richie:

Part two of the Dream's interview with the league President.

More WNBA news......


One-on-one with Cappie Pondexter.

Five W's with Alex Montgomery.

One-on-one with Swin Cash.


Q&A with Shoni Schimmel.


Maya Moore's work ethic and season stats make her an MVP candidate.


...have signed Waltiea Rolle for the rest of the season.


Kia Vaughn will be suspended without pay for one game for a flagrant foul, committed in yesterday's game against the Sun.

College news:

At Colorado State, coach Ryun Williams' contract has been extended through the 2018-19 season.

Deanna Calhoun has transferred from USC to Hawaii, where she will play for the coach who originally recruited her: Laura Beeman. Calhoun graduated in just three years, so she is eligible to play immediately.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

U18s beat Canada, capture gold medal

The USA beat Canada, 104-74, to win the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship.

A'ja Wilson was tournament MVP, and four other players reached double digits in the win: Napheesa Collier, Beatrice Mompremier, Jessica Shepard and Brianna Turner.

Playoff picture still murky

The Mercury, Lynx and Dream have all secured a playoff spot. Phoenix locked up the first seed in the West last night, and Minnesota the second. But the Dream's loss today means they haven't yet clinched first seed in the East. As far as who the other five playoff teams will be, it's still up in the air, with a full week of regular season games left.

Playoff picture.

Games to watch this week will be:

Sparks at Lynx, Tuesday
Sky at Mystics, Wednesday
Liberty at Fever, Thursday
Shock at Dream, Friday
Storm at Sparks, Friday
Liberty at Mystics, Saturday
Sky at Fever, Saturday
Sparks at Mercury, Saturday
Fever at Liberty, Sunday
Stars at Sky, Sunday

Today's games were riveting:

The Sky beat the Dream, 80-69.

The Stars downed the Sparks, 82-76.

The Fever defeated the Liberty, 90-76, behind Tamika Catchings' season-high 29 points.

The Storm came back to beat the Shock, 74-68.

The Sun got past the Mystics in double overtime, 89-81.

Day off tomorrow, and it's back to the mosh pit.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Dream coach Michael Cooper recovering, but has his hands full

I checked up on coach Michael Cooper before last night's game. Here's the low down.

Strong man. Keep him in your prayers, will you?

The hazards of playing overseas

The Hartford Courant's John Altavilla goes in depth on the dangers American players face sometimes playing overseas.

Mercury beat Lynx, secure West's #1 seed

Epic game between the Mercury and Lynx. Final: Mercury 82, Lynx 80.

More WNBA news....


...still control their playoff destiny.


Q&A with Janel McCarville.


Coach Anne Donovan says the Sun should play for pride.

College news:

Teri Moren is Indiana's new coach.

U18 team at the FIBA Championship:

The U18 team cruised past Argentina, 97-51, to reach the gold medal game.

Naismith Hall of Fame:

Induction ceremony was last night for the Mighty Macs. Theresa Grentz and Cathy Rush reminisce.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Playoff races continue to tighten

Tonight's results:

The Shock gained ground over the Stars in the Western Conference playoff race, routing them 79-62. Tulsa forward Glory Johnson tied the franchise record with her 17th double-double of the season.

The Sparks squeaked by the Dream, 80-77. They are still in third place in the West.

The Mystics beat the Fever, 74-61, putting themselves in second place in the East. Indiana falls to fifth.

The Liberty are in the East's third spot after downing the Sun, 71-66. Connecticut was without leading scorer Chiney Ogwumike for the second straight game, as she recovered from an abscessed tooth.

The lone game for tomorrow features none other than Minnesota at Phoenix.

The Mercury are gunning for first place.

It's a must-win for the Lynx.

More WNBA news.....


Diana Taurasi has signed a multi-year contract extension.

U18's at the World Championships:

Team USA defeated Canada, 107-76, to advance to the semifinals as the number one seed.

NCAA adopts new governance structure

Student athletes vote at every governance level.


Morning warm up

WNBA news.....


Odyssey Sims is making a case for rookie of the year.


Coach Cheryl Reeve and point guard Lindsay Whalen's bond is essential to the Minnesota's success.


Tina Charles has returned home to play.

Becky Hammon:

Why the NBA needs to hire more female coaches.

Hammon's decision-making skills set her apart.

Would Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve go to the NBA?

U18 team:

The U18 squad thrashed El Salvador in round two of the FIBA Championship last night, 118-50.

Canadian National Team:

Natalie Achonwa dropped in.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Heated up

Tonight's results:

The Mercury got by the Stars in overtime, 78-73.

Brittney Griner surpassed the late Margo Dydek's record for most blocks in a single season in the win.

The Lynx came through to top the Sky, 74-64, for their 11th straight.

The Storm dropped the Dream, 88-68. No, not a typo.

WNBA President:

President Laurel Richie's interview with LaChina Robinson.

More WNBA news....


Huge playoff implications are in the works for Friday's game against the Mystics.


....are prepping for Elena Delle Donne and the Sky.


....have received energy from Natasha Lacy.

College news:

Lindsey Foster has been promoted to associate head coach at CSUN.

Sherill Baker has been promoted to associate head coach at Auburn.

Why WNBA stars struggle to build a brand

This piece is right on:

Not to mention, the WNBA's image is not one that's easily embraced, noted WNBA stylist Rachel Johnson. The sport is seen as aggressive and masculine, which makes the players themselves less desirable when it comes to attracting image-conscious brands.

"From a sports perspective, these women holler, scream, sweat and aren't posing when they play, so they aren't going to look their best," said Johnson, who is hired by the WNBA to help players with styling and makeup lessons. "It's not easy to be a woman in that place."

Society still rewards athletes that fit with traditional standards of feminine beauty, added ESPN columnist Kate Fagan. This is why many basketball players who don't fit into that mold have trouble breaking landing deals.....

This is true.

Not to mention, the WNBA's image is not one that's easily embraced, noted WNBA stylist Rachel Johnson. The sport is seen as aggressive and masculine, which makes the players themselves less desirable when it comes to attracting image-conscious brands.

"From a sports perspective, these women holler, scream, sweat and aren't posing when they play, so they aren't going to look their best," said Johnson, who is hired by the WNBA to help players with styling and makeup lessons. "It's not easy to be a woman in that place."

Society still rewards athletes that fit with traditional standards of feminine beauty, added ESPN columnist Kate Fagan. This is why many basketball players who don't fit into that mold have trouble breaking landing deals.

"The fundamental thing you have to remember is that the WNBA started way after men's basketball was established. Women's basketball is below the rim, and it takes a certain type of fan to want to watch that," Parham said. "The Michael Jordans of the league defined the way the sport was played, and only a few female players even dunk during games. Then you add in sexist issues, like people struggling to consume women in powerful positions and the notion that female basketball players can't be beautiful."


"Going overseas pulls them out of sight in the US market, but the opportunity is huge: Why would they stay here if they can make four times their salary?" Parham said. "Yes, they want to promote themselves, but they also want to make money and live life. You can't knock a player for that."

Best summary of the problem that I've read yet.

So the question is, can these issues be overcome to grow the fan base?

U18 team starts with a win

In the opening round of the FIBA U18 Championship yesterday, the US thrashed Mexico, 104-55.

In the meantime, the US women will play an exhibition Sept. 11 in Delaware.

More on Becky Hammon:

The brilliant marketing of the Spurs' hire of Becky Hammon.

Mystics coach Mike Thibault said Hammon will help players become better shooters.

College news:

Louisiana Tech coach Tyler Summitt talks the talk and walks the walk.

South Carolina assistant coach Nikki McCray talks living life and giving back.


After a night off, three games tonight.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Lynx and Mercury eyeing each other


The Lynx are hoping to catch the Mercury and get their fourth Western Conference title in a row.

Minnesota is looking toward the playoffs.


In the meantime, Phoenix is looking to add to its record-setting season win total.

DeWanna Bonner is invaluable for the Mercury.


Allie Quigley has taken a big step up this year.


The Seattle Times is polling readers whether or not they want the Storm to make the playoffs.

If the LA Times gave a rat's behind, they'd do the same to Sparks fans.


A minute with Bria Hartley.

Player blog corner:

At, we've been posting blogs all season from Asia Taylor of the Lynx, Sugar Rodgers of the Liberty, Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson of the Mystics, and Angel Robinson of the Storm. Check them all out here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

You can tell it's playoff time

Tonight's results:

A bit of everything........

The Mystics thrashed the Liberty, 79-46.

The Lynx edged the Fever, 66-64.

The Sky routed the Sun, 82-66.

The Mercury survived the Dream, 75-67. Phoenix set a franchise record for wins.

The Shock held off the Sparks, 96-90.

The Mystics are now one game ahead of the Fever and Sky, who are tied. They, in turn, are one game ahead of the Liberty in the East.

The Sparks could have clinched a playoff spot with a win tonight, but now they're in a tie with the Stars. The Shock are two games behind them. Skylar Diggins broke the franchise record for assists.


San Antonio looks to have a slightly easier schedule over the last week and a half of the season than Los Angeles. Indiana and Chicago seem about even.

ESPN WNBA rankings have Lynx back on top

New ESPN power rankings for the week:

1. Lynx
2. Mercury
3. Dream
4. Sparks
5. Fever
6. Liberty
7. Sky
8. Mystics
9. Shock
10. Storm
11. Stars
12. Sun

I was going to laugh at them putting Los Angeles fourth, but then again, who else would rank higher right now? Sheesh.

Believe it or not, the Sparks have only to win against Tulsa tonight to clinch a playoff spot.

Players of the month for July:

Not only are Maya Moore and Tina Charles the players of this past week, they've been named players of the month.

Rookie of the month of July:

Odyssey Sims.

More WNBA news....


The Mercury are using strong defense to chase another title.

Brittney Griner is proving Phoenix made the right pick last year.

College news:

Notre Dame star guard Jewell Loyd had minor surgery for a bone spur.

Nikki Blue as joined Cal State Bakersfield as an assistant coach.

Jill Pizzotti has been promoted to associate head coach at DePaul.

South Carolina summer blog number eight.


Hall of Famer Theresa Grentz is still finding joy in coaching.

Spurs hire Becky Hammon as an assistant coach

Becky Hammon will join the San Antonio Spurs as an assistant coach after she retires at the end of this WNBA season. She is the second woman to serve on an NBA staff.

In a press conference today, Hammon said she is "looking forward to learning from these guys," AKA the other Spurs coaches. They need to be learning things from her, too.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The insane East and the wild, wild West

Today's results:

It was a crazy neck-and-neck game, but the Sparks pulled it out at the last second against the Sun, 70-69. Connecticut rookie Chiney Ogwumike lead all scorers with 23 points and 13 rebounds.

The Liberty put away the Dream, 83-76, behind Tina Charles' 29 points. It was Atlanta coach Michael Cooper's first game back since having surgery for tongue cancer 10 days ago.

Speaking of returns, Elena Delle Donne lead the Sky over the Mystics, 76-65. It was her second game back after missing 17 with a recurrence of Lyme Disease.

The Storm got by the Stars, 71-65.

More WNBA news.....


Essence Carson is still connected to her hometown of Paterson, New Jersey.


Elena Delle Donne's battle continues.


Former COO Karen Bryant's farewell speech from Thursday night.

College news:

A benefit is set next weekend for Notre Dame director of basketball operations Katie Schwab, who is suffering from life-threatening complications due to Diabetes I.

Texas Tech assistant Brett Schneider has resigned.

Sophomore forward Stephanie Cheney has left Penn.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Maya Moore puts up 40 points to guide Lynx's ninth straight win

Good lord that Maya Moore is good.....she put up 40 points tonight in the Lynx's 84-75 win over the Shock. Moore scored 48 points in a game last week.

The Mercury ground out a 79-69 victory over the Fever, thanks to a fourth-quarter run.

The news is dry today. *Sigh*

Friday, August 1, 2014

Sun win; Schimmel frustrated

Tonight's result:

The Sun took down the Stars, 89-79. Chiney Ogwumike lead the way with 24 points and 12 rebounds.

More WNBA news......


Shoni Schimmel is frustrated by lack of playing time, she told one publication last week, and then another wrote something more about it today.

Stars' Jia Perkins: joyful unsung hero

Check out my story on the cool Jia Perkins.

Kristi Toliver's struggle reflects that of many

Fascinating piece in the Washington Post today chronicling Los Angeles Sparks guard Kristi Toliver's fight to play basketball both for Slovakia and the WNBA. So many aspects of the problem are examined in this story:

Navigating the summer of 2014, as she toggled between Los Angeles and Bratislava, would take all the stamina that Toliver, 27, could muster. “It’s getting to the point where I just don’t want to hit complete burnout,” she said......

And as the summer wore on, she also began to wonder whether this life, with its 12-months-a-year basketball and constant travel, was sustainable – and if not, which part of it she would have to drop. The inevitable answer — of leaving the WNBA entirely -- though still merely a hypothetical at this point, gave her pangs of guilt for all that the founders of the women’s league had done for later generations of players, such as herself.

“You almost don’t want to let the pioneers down,” she said. “But you also have to make a choice. If you’re not happy, you kind of gotta go with that.”.....

Her hair pulled back in a simple ponytail, Toliver spoke in a world-weary monotone, mustering at most a slight grin or a soft chuckle as she described a lifestyle that would be incomprehensible to anyone familiar only with the men’s version of professional basketball. Top women’s players typically go straight from the end of their three-month WNBA season to the start of their overseas season -- and vice-versa -- sometimes without as much as a full day off. It’s a simple fact of life in the WNBA, where the salaries are a fraction of what players can make overseas......

But by March of this year, Toliver was so burned out, she begged her Russian team for a mental break. The request was granted, and she returned to the States for the better part of three weeks, hoping to recharge, trying to make herself miss the game of basketball, even if it meant sacrificing three weeks’ worth of her Dynamo salary.


This season WNBA fans have been talking about what they perceive to be athletes not playing hard, not showing enthusiasm. Perhaps fatigue is a reason why, if it's true. Retiring coach Lin Dunn told me earlier this week that she worries about the wear and tear she sees with players in the league these days.

Almost two years ago I wrote a story about why U.S. ball players are able to make so much more overseas. Basically, European and Asian countries have business sponsors for teams. It's something that we don't have in this country, which the Post story references:

Toliver, meantime, made less than $50,000 her first season in the WNBA, and in this, her sixth season, is making the WNBA maximum of $107,500. In other words, Curry makes more in one game (roughly $120,000) than Toliver – or any WNBA player, for that matter -- makes for a full WNBA season.....

This imbalance is what sends most of the top women’s players overseas every October once the WNBA season ends. There are a handful – including Skylar Diggins and Elena Della Donne – who make enough in endorsement money Stateside to turn down overseas opportunities. But almost everyone else who can get a job goes overseas – for example, Brittney Griner and Maya Moore to China, Angel McCoughtry and Crystal Langhorne to Turkey, and Toliver and Candace Parker to Russia.

Far from being mercenaries, they are simply realists – or at worst, opportunists. If an athlete is lucky, she might squeeze 10 or 15 productive years out of an elite athletic career, a small window in which to bank a decent nest egg. What sane person wouldn’t seek to maximize that window?

“Financially,” Toliver said, “it’s a no-brainer.”

Playing for Dynamo Moscow this past season in Russia, Toliver made roughly $350,000. (Others make more overseas. Griner, for example, reportedly made $600,000 last season in China.) It’s not Steph Curry money, but it’s about triple Toliver’s WNBA salary. She handed it all over to her financial adviser, making herself live on her income from the Sparks. The top European teams also provide players with luxury apartments and drivers.

And now with the new WNBA contract, players are penalized when overseas commitments interfere with their duties in the league.

The bottom line for Toliver is the same as for other players:

“Right now, it’s just a lot of talk,” she said. “[But] ultimately, if I had to [choose one or the other] today? Yeah, it would be overseas before it would be the WNBA. Hopefully at some point, I’ll find it within myself to play both and enjoy both. But right now, I wouldn’t play in the WNBA. The WNBA is a great league, especially for younger players. . . . But once you get older, that’s where you have to make decisions: What’s best for you. What’s best for your family, your state of mind.


Who can blame them?

A better question: Is anyone here in the U.S. going to do anything about this imbalance? Is anyone going to seriously promote the women's game?

After the 1996 Olympics, interest in women's basketball was high. Two professional leagues for women were born in the late 1990's; players were on TV shows and posters. Chamique Holdsclaw was given major billing, including being the first woman on the cover of SLAM Magazine.

Since then, interest has fallen, and no one seems to be trying to pick it back up.

Why not?