Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Four teams go unbeaten into quarterfinals, including US

Australia, Spain, Turkey and the US all won their games today at the FIBA World Championships to advance to the quarterfinals, which begin Friday. All four teams are 3-0 and earn a bye.

Brazil and Cuba stay alive for now. Cuba grabbed the last spot with a 73-57 romp over Korea. Brazil downed Japan, 79-56.

The most thrilling game of the day was a toss up between France's edging of Canada, 63-59, and Serbia's survival of China, 65-63.

Spain routed the Czech Republic, 67-43.

Turkey topped Mozambique, 64-54.

Australia smashed Belarus, 87-45.

The US annihilated Angola, 119-44, for the largest victory margin in World Championship play by an American team. Nneka Ogwumike lead five players in double figures with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Tomorrow's schedule:

Czech Republic vs. Canada

France vs. Brazil

Belarus vs. China

Serbia vs. Cuba

More World Championship news:

Canada's Katherine Plouffe wants to extend her stay at the games.

WNBA news:

Storm exit interviews: Tanisha Wright had a memorable tenth season.

The Fever's Marissa Coleman had her most productive pro year ever this season.

Atlanta Dream player review: Jasmine Thomas.

College news:

Michigan has a golden opportunity to take the next step.

CBS Sports debuting all-female sports talk show

Pretty cool:

On Tuesday, the network will launch We Need To Talk, a nationally-televised, all-female, hour-long, once-a-week sports show, airing at 10 p.m. Eastern on CBS Sports Network. The show’s title is a mess but the quality of on-air staffers and behind-the-scenes people is first rate. If given time to develop -- and that should happen with the CBS Sports Network not yet rated for viewership -- We Need To Talk has the potential to be outstanding.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pro tidbits

International news:

Kim Gaucher is hoping to lead Canada to a top finish at the World Championships. They are ready for the games.

Qatar forfeited its match up in the Asian Games in protest, after being told hijabs were banned.


Fever guard Layshia Clarendon blogs on the offseason, and playing for Coach Lin Dunn.

Sky forward Elena Delle Donne believes time at home this winter will be the cure for her illnesses and injuries.

Mystics center Stefanie Dolson talks about teaming up with a teammate overseas this winter.

Liberty assistant coach Katie Smith is finding joy in her new coaching career.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Around the world

More World Championship news:

Canada is going for long-term goals at the games.

Focus on Spain.

Focus on Mozambique.

Focus on Korea.


Stephanie White was introduced as the Indiana Fever's new head coach today. She said it was something she's prepared for her whole life.

How Maya Moore got her start.

Storm exit interviews: Temeka Johnson adapted to a backup role.

Liberty rookie Anna Cruz reflects on the season.

Becky Hammon is changing the game and bridging the gap in women's sports.

College news:

Pac-12 record-setter Chiney Ogwumike is one of the nominees for NCAA Woman of the Year.

Le'Coe Willingham is a new assistant coach at Tennessee State.

Florida State's Gabby Bevillard will end her basketball career due to recurring injuries.

National Team roster finalized; Jantel Lavender cut

I'll put it in the headline, that Jantel Lavender was the final cut for Team USA today when the roster was finalized to 12. Because USA Basketball again refused to acknowledge the cut player in their news release.

The roster:

Seimone Augustus Minnesota Lynx C/F, 6-0
Sue Bird Seattle Storm G, 5-9
Tina Charles New York Liberty C, 6-4
Candice Dupree Phoenix Mercury F, 6-2
Brittney Griner Phoenix Mercury C, 6-8
Angel McCoughtry Atlanta Dream G/F, 6-1
Maya Moore Minnesota Lynx F, 6-0
Nnemkadi Ogwumike Los Angeles Sparks F, 6-2
Odyssey Sims Tulsa Shock G, 5-8
Breanna Stewart University of Connecticut F/C, 6-4
Diana Taurasi Phoenix Mercury G, 6-0
Lindsay Whalen Minnesota Lynx G, 5-9

Sue Bird is the first player to make four World Championship rosters.

Brittney Griner made the roster without ever showing up.

Game schedule.

Here's how the final 13 did over the course of five exhibition games.

Even more interesting are the stats that Shades got together on this page:

5-game exhibition

Shooting percentages

1. Ogwumike, Nnemkadi 23-34 (.676)
2. Augustus, Seimone 16-26 (.615)
3. Lavender, Jantel 9-16 (.563)
4. Whalen, Lindsay 11-22 (.500)
5. Charles, Tina 22-45 (.489)
6. McCoughtry, Angel 13-27 (.481)
7. Stewart, Breanna 14-33 (.424)
8. Bird, Sue 8-20 (.400)
9. Dupree, Candice 8-22 (.364)
10. Sims, Odyssey 6-17 (.353)
11. Moore, Maya 14-45 (.311)
12. Taurasi, Diana 8-29 (.264)
13. Griner, Brittney 0-0 (.000)


1. Moore, Maya 99
2. Taurasi, Diana 90
3. Ogwumike, Nnemkadi 87
4. Charles, Tina 85
5. Augustus, Seimone 84
6. Bird, Sue 81
7. Whalen, Lindsay 79
8. McCoughtry, Angel 74
9. Stewart, Breanna 66
10. Sims, Odyssey 56
11. Dupree, Candice 53
12. Lavender, Jantel 39
13. Griner, Brittney 0


1. Bird, Sue 5
1. Moore, Maya 5
3. Charles, Tina 4
3. Taurasi, Diana 4
5. Dupree, Candice 3
6. McCoughtry, Angel 2
7. Ogwumike, Nnemkadi 1
7. Whalen, Lindsay 1
9. Augustus, Seimone 0
9. Griner, Brittney 0
9. Lavender, Jantel 0
9. Sims, Odyssey 0
9. Stewart, Breanna 0

As much as I feel like Lavender gets absolutely no respect, I'm not surprised at this cut. I even predicted it Sunday night on twitter, talking with someone: she's not the "star" that the others are. In our celebrity-obsessed United States culture, you've got to be a star to play for America.

US wins final exhibition, thrashing Czech Republic

In their final exhibition before the World Championships, the US National Team routed the Czech Republic, 76-41.

Nneka Ogwumike lead the way for the Americans with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sunday, September 21, 2014

USA Basketball trims roster to 13 finalists

The National Team roster has been trimmed to 13 finalists:

Seimone Augustus
Sue Bird
Tina Charles
Candice Dupree
Brittney Griner
Jantel Lavender
Angel McCoughtry
Maya Moore
Nnemkadi Ogwumike
Odyssey Sims
Breanna Stewart
Diana Taurasi
Lindsay Whalen

The above-linked piece mentions that Griner is expected to join the team Sept. 24. But it makes no mention of the players who were cut today: Skylar Diggins, Kayla McBride and Stefanie Dolson. Nor do any of the major outlets mention these athletes being cut. It's perplexing.

It's been my experience recently that USA Basketball is reluctant to come out and say they have cut players. Now it looks like they can't even name them in print.

If you're going to be a big-time organization and make major decisions, you need to cop to them. Just be up front and say who's been cut.

Diggins, McBride and Dolson didn't play in the USA's loss to France today, and aren't even in the box score. Fan indignance over that turned to outrage as news of the cuts leaked out. Twitter has been a spew-fest ever since.

Notre Dame fans say Diggins and McBride were cut because National Team head coach Geno Auriemma and Irish coach Muffet McGraw don't get along.

Other debates have been raging as to whether the three cut today, as well as the four cut last weekend - Chiney Ogwumike, Briann January, Danielle Robinson and Bria Hartley - should have been kept for some of the others on the finalist roster.

The third line of discussion is which athlete will be the last to be cut.

It is a political dialogue, whichever side of it fans happen to be on.

As usual, I can see both sides of issues. I don't believe the National Team selection process is as deliberate and/or evil as some do, but I am not naive enough to think the entire affair is politic-free.

Fans tend to give coaches and players too much power, crediting them for things they never could have made happen, much less thought of doing. For example, Auriemma and McGraw may not get along, but above all, Auriemma wants to win. If he thought Diggins and/or McBride could help him get it done, he would keep them on the team.

On the other hand, there were numerous UConn players on the 2012 Olympic team, and now of the 13 finalists for this year's National Team, five of the 13 are current or former Huskies. Auriemma no doubt leans towards his athletes; that's a normal instinct.

The only two UConn finalists I would question are Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird. Stewart is a fine player, and was thought by many to be the college player of the year. Over the last two weeks, though, she has shown us who she really is: a college junior playing amongst professional players with years of experience. She should go back to UConn now and continue growing by leaps and bounds, as she has been doing.

It's hard for me to put Bird's name out there, as I respect her so much. But with the faster Whalen and Sims on board, is there really a need for #10?

Agents, and several former and current pro ballers, have told me that there are numerous female basketball players out there who are better than those who are currently playing in the WNBA. Decisions tend to be made, they say, for "star power" instead of quality of play. In other words, teams will pick the name player or the rising star over the one who has better skills.

Is that what's happening with the National Team? The knee-jerk answer would be, not necessarily, as Diggins is one of the game's brightest stars - not to mention a skilled player. But you never know.

As I've stated many times in this space, I learned years ago that you never know what's going on with a team unless you're on that team or coaching it. We don't know what the USA coaches have seen in practice that lead them to make the cuts they've made, or what the USAB Committee thinks. Nor do we know all of the factors that go into making such decisions. Fans who act like/think they know (such as those who believe the Phoenix Mercury purposefully had a bad season in 2012 to get Griner) are leaping into arrogance and presumption.

Fans would be best to set aside their anger and support Team USA, whomever ends up on the final roster. Both fans and coaches need to keep eyes on the prize: it's about winning the gold, period.

Trouble in paradise? France beats USA, 76-72

France handed the USA a rare international loss today, downing them 76-72 in an exhibition game. The French came from 18 points behind to edge the Americans.

Sandrine Gruda lead the French team with 26 points and 15 rebounds. She averaged 3.8 points and 3 rebounds per game this past season playing for the Los Angeles Sparks.

No box score yet on either the USA Basketball site or ESPN, but I can't wait to see it. Skylar Diggins, Kayla McBride, Stefanie Dolson and Jantel Lavender didn't play today. No word yet on whether Brittney Griner will join the team.


Given the roster:

Sue Bird
Maya Moore
Candice Dupree
Diana Taurasi
Tina Charles
Lindsay Whalen
Seimone Augustus
Angel McCoughtry
Skylar Diggins
Odyssey Sims
Jantel Lavender
Kayla McBride
Nnemkadi Ogwumike
Breanna Stewart
Stefanie Dolson

Would the US have been better-served by keeping one or more of the four cut last weekend, instead? (Chiney Ogwumike, Bria Hartley, Briann January and Danielle Robinson).

I have been trying to figure out how the rookie of the year didn't make the cut for seven days now.

Is there significance to the fact that there are six current or former UConn players on this roster?

And finally, is this loss meaningful? A wake up call or a lucky break for France?

Friday, September 19, 2014

USA downs Australia in exhibition

The National team fought off Australia, 72-66, to win their exhibition game in France today.


College news:

Immaculata and Queens College will play in the Maggie Dixon Classic in January...it's a 40th anniversary thing:

NEW YORK -- Madison Square Garden will honor the first women's basketball game played at the arena 40 years ago with a rematch between Queens College and Immaculata as part of the Maggie Dixon Classic on Jan. 4.

Immaculata won the inaugural game 65-61 in front of 12,000 fans on Feb. 22, 1975.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Focus on Team USA

The National Team is in Paris for their tournament later this week.

Sue Bird is a leader on and off the court for USA Basketball.

Bird and Lindsay Whalen still drive Team USA.

Tough cuts loom ahead for coach Geno Auriemma.

Assistant coach Dawn Staley reflects on the game.

Phoenix Mercury:

Are the Mercury the WNBA's newest dynasty?

Former Tennessee athletic trainer lands Russia job

Former Tennessee athletic trainer Jenny Moshak has accepted a job for the UMMC Ekaterinburg team in Russia. Moshak retired last year due to what she termed retaliation for a lawsuit she jointly filed against the University of Tennessee for pay discrimination. She had been the Lady Vols athletic trainer for over two decades. A trial is set for next spring.

In a statement yesterday, Moshak said she has started in her new position, where she will remain until next April.

"I will be providing the sports medicine and strength and conditioning services to one of the strongest professional women’s basketball teams in the world -- UMMC Ekaterinburg. Candace Parker and Diana Taurasi play on the team. The club is housed in the city of Ekaterinburg, the fourth largest city in Russia, located about 1000 miles east of Moscow. The club plays in the European and Russian Championship Leagues. I will be traveling through Europe and Russia, and growing both professionally and personally," Moshak said.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

A wee bit more


Chemistry and star power could keep the Mercury on glory road.

Storm exit interview: Jenna O'Hea played a different role.

College news:

Minnesota coach Marlene Stollings will be inducted into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame next May.

Former Oregon standout Nia Jackson is the new director of basketball operations at Loyola Marymount.

USA beat Canada in exhibition, 76-51

The U.S. Women's National Team overcame a slow start to down Canada, 76-51, in an exhibition tonight. Nneka Ogwumike paved the way with 10 points.

Canada turned in a strong performance.

The four players who were cut prior to tonight's game were Briann January, Danielle Robinson, Chiney Ogwumike and Bria Hartley.

Here's the rest of the list, including seven who have been playing for the WNBA Finals and who haven't yet been to camp:

Player WNBA team or college university Position, Height

Seimone Augustus Minnesota Lynx C/F, 6-0
Sue Bird Seattle Storm G, 5-9
DeWanna Bonner Phoenix Mercury G/F, 6-4
Tina Charles New York Liberty C, 6-4
Elena Delle Donne Chicago Sky G/F, 6-5
Skylar Diggins Tulsa Shock G, 5-9
Stefanie Dolson Washington Mystics C, 6-5
Candice Dupree Phoenix Mercury F, 6-2
Sylvia Fowles Chicago Sky C, 6-6
Brittney Griner Phoenix Mercury C, 6-8
Jantel Lavender Los Angeles Sparks C, 6-4
Kayla McBride San Antonio Stars G, 5-11
Angel McCoughtry Atlanta Dream G/F, 6-1
Maya Moore Minnesota Lynx F, 6-0
Nnemkadi Ogwumike Los Angeles Sparks F, 6-2
Odyssey Sims Tulsa Shock G, 5-8
Breanna Stewart University of Connecticut F/C, 6-4
Diana Taurasi Phoenix Mercury G, 6-0
Courtney Vandersloot Chicago Sky G, 5-8
Lindsay Whalen Minnesota Lynx G, 5-9

Coach Geno Auriemma said Sylvia Fowles won't be joining the team in France this week, for a tournament, while she rests her injuries.

USC dismisses Ariya Crook

I heard about this last week. Sad:

USC senior guard Ariya Crook has been dismissed from the women's basketball team due to a violation of team and university policy, head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke has announced.....

Ranked No. 5 in career 3-pointers made at USC, Crook was the Women of Troy's top scorer in 2013-14, averaging 15.8 points per game in 31 appearances as a junior.

USA roster trimmed to 13

Tickets to the France International Tournament Sept. 19-21 have been punched:

Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Tina Charles (New York Liberty), Skylar Diggins (Tulsa Shock), Stefanie Dolson (Washington Mystics), Jantel Lavender (Los Angeles Sparks), Kayla McBride (San Antonio Stars), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx),Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks), Odyssey Sims (Tulsa Shock), Breanna Stewart (University of Connecticut) and Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx).

2014-16 USA Basketball Women’s National Team members DeWanna Bonner (Phoenix Mercury), Elena Delle Donne (Chicago Sky), Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury), Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky), Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury), Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) and Courtney Vandersloot (Chicago Sky) were competing in the recently concluded WNBA Finals and unable to attend the USA’s domestic training camp. USA Basketball will announce at a later date which of these athletes will join the finalists in Europe.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Phoenix Mercury are WNBA champions

The Phoenix Mercury are back on top, claiming their third WNBA title with an 87-82 win over the Chicago Sky.

Brittney Griner won't play tonight

After an eye injury last game, Brittney Griner will have to sit tonight, for game three.

She's not happy about it.

Brittney Griner's status for tonight still in doubt

Griner still a game-time decision.

The Mercury are on the brink of a long-awaited championship.

Team USA:

Tough decisions loom in finding the Women's National Team.

College news:

Coaching has grown on South Carolina coach Dawn Staley.

Louisiana Tech coach Tyler Summitt is disappointed in the lack of games for his home squad.

Writer says WNBA still looking for an identity

Interesting collection of thoughts in this piece:

Recently, Griner proposed to fellow WNBA player Glory Johnson of the Tulsa Shock, and potentially could become the first same-sex married couple in professional sports. The league seems unsure how to approach such a topic, but Richie said it embraces its LGBT fan base.

Richie said the WNBA seeks to unify all of its fans and the emphasis is marketing — such as afternoon games for families or promotions aimed at school kids — and a more polished product on the floor. The WNBA is intelligently attempting to avoid catering to one particular group of fans, hoping that the quality of play attracts a wider variety of people.

According to Richie, six of the league’s 12 teams are turning a profit, which is a relief to the NBA and a testament to the arduous marketing and promotion. But teams such as the Sparks playing in the vast Staples Center with widespread empty seats in the lower bowl is a ghastly look.

There has to be a better way to forge an identity. The league needs to figure out a way to take those unattractive ads off the front of the jerseys without losing sponsorship money, add a team in markets such as the Bay Area and the Knoxville area, which has always supported women’s basketball, and find a way to attract those who haven’t yet embraced the league.

That will be the biggest challenge of all, but it also could help the league survive another two decades.

Although the WNBA has escaped the novelty phase and has become more of a staple of summer sports, those in power have to continue to feverishly work to improve and enhance its image, knowing their league is still shrouded in skepticism.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Questions loom before game three

Phoenix hopes to close out in Chicago.

Players from both teams reacted to the news that Mercury center Brittney Griner will be a game-time decision tomorrow night.

If Griner doesn't play, Ewelina Kobryn will start in her place.

Consistent Candice Dupree is a quiet star for Phoenix.

Sky owner Michael Alter relishes the rise of his team to the Finals.

USA National Team:

...had a successful intersquad scrimmage at the University of Delaware tonight.

The Red Team beat the White Team, 92-83. Nneka Ogwumike lead all scorers with 26 points and 12 rebounds for White.

Women in sports media:

....have come a long way, and have a way to go.

All-WNBA teams announced

First and second teams:


Player Team Position Points

Maya Moore Lynx Forward 180
Candace Parker Sparks Forward 116
Brittney Griner Mercury Center 170
Diana Taurasi Mercury Guard 171
Skylar Diggins Shock Guard 140


Player Team Position Points

Angel McCoughtry Dream Forward 90
Nneka Ogwumike Sparks Forward 45
Tina Charles Liberty Center 88
Lindsay Whalen Lynx Guard 116
Danielle Robinson Stars Guard 27
Seimone Augustus Lynx Guard 27

WNBA playoffs viewership way up


WNBA Finals 2014 presented by Boost Mobile Up 92% In Viewership

The WNBA Finals 2014 presented by Boost Mobile are averaging 688,000 viewers per game across all networks, up +92% versus last season’s Finals to-date (358,000 viewers) through two games. The games are averaging a 0.50 HH US rating, up 92% versus last season’s Finals to-date (0.26 HH US rating).

Viewership for Game 1 of the 2014 WNBA Finals was up +60% versus Game 1 of the 2013 WNBA Finals which aired 10/6/13 on ESPN (Dream vs. Lynx -- 391,000 viewers / 0.35 HH coverage rating). The game was up +39% in viewership versus the last WNBA Finals game to air on ABC (Game 1 of the 2010 WNBA Finals aired 9/12/10 and featured Dream vs. Storm -- 450,000 viewers / 0.3 HH US rating). Game 1 was the most viewed WNBA Finals Game 1 since 2000.

WNBA Finals 2014 presented by Boost Mobile Game 2 Highest Rated Postseason Game on ESPN since 1999

Game 2 of the WNBA Finals 2014 presented by Boost Mobile on Tuesday, Sept. 9 – a 97-68 win for the Phoenix over the Chicago – averaged a 0.5 rating on ESPN, matching the network’s best for the postseason in 15 years. This game, along with the WNBA Finals Game 2 on October 17, 2012 – are the highest rated postseason games on ESPN since August 30, 1999, when the Los Angeles Sparks faced the Houston Comets (0.9).

Phoenix led all markets for the telecast with a 1.9 rating, followed by Atlanta (1.7); New Orleans and Las Vegas (1.4); Hartford-New Haven (1.3); Greenville, Columbus and Greensboro (1.2); Nashville and Memphis (1.1); and Minneapolis-St. Paul (1.0).

The WNBA Conference Semifinal Game 3 - the Phoenix Mercury’s 96-78 win over the Minnesota Lynx on Sunday, Sept. 7 - was the most-viewed on ABC since 2007 (828,000 viewers, 0.5 rating). The Eastern Conference Finals Game 2 between the Detroit Shock and Indiana Fever on September 2, 2007, averaged 839,000 viewers based on a 0.7 rating.

The six WNBA Playoffs 2014 conference semifinal games on ESPN2 posted a 100 percent ratings increase over last season (0.2 HH US rating vs. 0.1), and a 31 percent increase in viewership (262,000 viewers vs. 200,000 viewers).

Brittney Griner will be a game-time decision tomorrow


Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner underwent an outpatient procedure to correct a retinal issue. She is under the observation of Mercury and Suns team opthalmologist Dr. Jay Schwartz in Phoenix. Griner will be re-evaluated Friday morning, will then join the team in Chicago, and she will be a game-time decision for game 3 of the WNBA Finals Friday evening.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Mercury crush Sky, lead Finals series 2-0

The Mercury crushed the Sky, 97-68, in game two of the WNBA Finals.

Elena Delle Donne's back pain was in control, allowing her to make an offensive contribution for Chicago. But it wasn't enough.


USA Women's National Team:

The team visited a Naval academy today: photos.

Training camp day two log.

College news:

Asia Durr does indeed choose Louisville.

Brandon Gade is Yale's new assistant coach.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Mercury rout Sky in game one, 83-62

The Mercury had a complete lack of weakness in today's Finals, game one.

Candice Dupree and Brittney Griner destroyed the Sky inside.

Griner set a playoff record with eight blocks.

Elena Delle Donne's absence was too much for Chicago to overcome.

Sky photo gallery. (Awwww, jeez...)

Game photo gallery.

Dupree video.

The WNBA's Finals blog.

Tamika Catchings, Candace Parker opt out of FIBA Worlds

Via Tamika Catchings, herself:

GM! I have fought long and hard on the decision to participate in the World Championships this year. Due to the injuries and recommendations of "letting my body heal" to fully recover, I am stepping back from this year's competitions. USA ball has been a blessing to me and an honor to play for over the years. I am fully ready to cheer on the ladies who make the World Championship team as they represent the USA. Thanks to everyone for understanding. God Bless! #SoBlessed

Candace Parker is out too, and having minor knee surgery.

Friday, September 5, 2014

A bit more

More on the WNBA Finals:

Series preview.

Super preview from Rob Knox.

The playoffs offer a must-see opportunity of Diana Taurasi.

From waiver to wire: Allie Quigley's underdog story.

Non-playoff WNBA:

Inspiring women? They got em: Lin Dunn, Becky Hammon, Mo'ne Davis.

College news:

Darcie Vincent has resigned as coach at Appalachian State. (I had heard this was coming)

New Indiana coach Teri Moren is excited about what the future holds for the program.

Penalties and corrective measures by Georgia Tech have been accepted by the NCAA for recruiting violations in 2011 and 2012.

I have heard of one coaching and one player change within the Pac-12 Conference. Stay tuned.

Pre-Finals odd and ends

WNBA playoffs:

Phoenix's 2009 championship members are ready to be back in the finals.

Mercury forward Diana Taurasi is never satisfied.

The Fever's number one priority is re-signing Tamika Catchings.

The Lynx believe the trophy is up for grabs.

Minnesota battled all season long, but finally broke in the West finals.

After their playoff exit, what's next for the Lynx?

Non-playoff news:

Tamika Catchings is noncommittal about participation in FIBA the World Cup.

College news:

Hoops legend Yolanda Griffith is now an assistant coach at UMass.

Scott Schneider has been promoted to assistant coach at UMass.

Mo'Ne Davis:

....is sad that Geno Auriemma was dinged by the NCAA for calling her.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

WNBA attendance still a work in progress

Lots of progress with WNBA social media this season. TV viewership is up slightly, and attendance is still a mixed bag.

Check out what league President Laurel Richie told me in this story.

Not too much news in the cupboard

Finals news:

Mercury vs. Sky: how'd that happen?

WNBA news:

Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve says that when healthy, Minnesota is still the best team in the league.

College news:

The NCAA says UConn coach Geno Auriemma's call to Little League star Mo'Ne Davis was a secondary rules violation. He doesn't get it.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The moment caught Fever coach Lin Dunn by surprise

Maybe you've been ill-prepared when you thought you were prepared, too:

Dunn thought she had prepared herself for the moment, but when the players and coaches came together one last time for 2014 following the Fever's 75-62 home loss to the Chicago Sky in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Dunn realized her 42-year coaching career was over.

An emotional scene ensued inside the Fever locker room, with Dunn saying farewell for the final time.

''I wasn't thinking about it until I got to the locker room,'' Dunn said. ''It was tough to say goodbye. I knew that some time it was going to come. But I didn't want to think about it until it happened.''

Besides the playoffs......

WNBA news:

The Lynx expect to stay on top of the WNBA race, without major changes.

In the off-season, the Atlanta Dream will focus on keeping their core and adding size.

Fever guard Briann January received the WNBA Cares Community Assist Award for August.

College news:

UConn coach Geno Auriemma was reported to the NCAA for calling Little League baseball star Mo'Ne Davis to congratulate her.

Guard Lulu Perry has been dismissed from Louisiana Tech's team for repeatedly violating team rules.

Chris Wielgus has been promoted to assistant coach at UMass.

Texas coach Karen Aston has joined the Kay Yow Cancer Fund board of directors.

Sky beat Fever for Eastern Conference title

No one called this one: the Chicago Sky overcame injuries and illnesses all season long to beat the Fever tonight, 75-62, and claim the Eastern Conference championship.

The Sky also ended Fever coach Lin Dunn's career.

The Sky will play at a different arena.

Finals schedule:

Phoenix vs. Chicago

Game 1 -- Sunday, Sept 7 Chicago @ Phoenix 3:30PM ABC
Game 2 -- Tuesday, Sept 9 Chicago @ Phoenix 9:00PM ESPN
Game 3 -- Friday, Sept 12 Phoenix @ Chicago 8:00PM ESPN2
Game 4* -- Sunday, Sept 14 Phoenix @ Chicago 5:30PM ESPN2
Game 5* -- Wednesday, Sept 17 Chicago @ Phoenix 9:00PM ESPN2

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Longtime LA Sparks photographer Eric Wade dies

Eric Wade


Longtime Los Angeles Sparks photographer and lifelong city resident Eric Wade died early Sunday morning of a severe asthma attack. He was 47.

Eric had been a well-known presence on the sidelines at Sparks games for nine years, taking pictures for Sports Page Magazine. He also photographed high school and college football, as well as numerous entertainment red carpet entertainment events and ESPN awards shows. His death has stunned his media colleagues in the Los Angeles area, as well as coaches, media relations directors and others who were used to seeing him - many of whom had come to call him a friend.

Among the regular core of reporters at Sparks games is L.T. Willis of T.G. Sports, who was also one of Eric's best friends. L.T. and Eric covered USC's opening football game Saturday afternoon. It was after the game that Eric wasn't feeling well. After getting checked out, L.T. dropped Eric off at home, where he died sometime in the middle of the night.

L.T. said the suddenness of the loss is difficult.

"We were talking about the next game we were going to cover," L.T. said.

Mike D'Avino, editor of Sports Page Magazine, took to Facebook yesterday to express his grief at the loss.

"God has taken an awesome person. Eric Wade you willed be missed," he wrote.

L.T. said it's strange to think that Eric won't be at Sparks games anymore.

"When we all cover a team year after year, we become a family," he said. "Now a member of that family is gone."

A picture Eric Wade took at the Shock at Sparks game, Aug. 5, 2014.


I couldn't agree more.

The media core who covers the Sparks every summer has got to know each other over the years. You work for different publications but you work together, and sometimes you become friends. Such was the case with Eric Wade and myself.

Eric had a calming presence, even when speaking about teams and players he was passionate about. He was funny; Just last month he and Sparks forward Jantel Lavender and I engaged in some brief jokes on Twitter. Eric was also observant and kind, and he loved photography. He was always behind the lens, shooting something.

Hats were Eric's thing. He often wore Kangols, but sometimes opted for the dressier style, as he did the day I took this picture of him taking a picture.

August 24 turned out to be the Sparks' last game this season, as they lost to Phoenix in the first round of the Western Conference finals. After almost an hour of interviews, I walked through the media room one last time before leaving, and peeked in the door of the work area. Eric and another photographer were the only ones still in there. I pulled up a chair and talked shop with Eric for about 20 minutes. I hugged him goodbye, telling him I'd see him at some college games. He said yes. I left.

Yesterday morning I woke up to L.T.'s message: ...."the passing of our brother Eric Wade." I have to admit, I'm still stunned. It also messes with your head when someone is that close to your own age.

Eric's family is still planning his funeral at this time.

Phoenix Mercury are Western Conference champs

Diana Taurasi's half-court shot at the end of the third quarter fueled a Mercury surge and propelled them to a 96-78 rout of the Minnesota Lynx.

The Mercury will play the Eastern Conference champion, which will be decided tomorrow.

Before the WCF third game, some news hits

Eastern Conference finals:

Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel has bought 500 tickets for tomorrow's game three in Indianapolis to donate to local fans and pack the house.

Undersized but not overlooked: Erlana Larkins vs. Sylvia Fowles will be a key match up tomorrow.

Elena Delle Donne's stiff lower back is the latest injury woe for the Sky.

Non-playoff news:

The Atlanta Dream are moving on.

Some are thinking that Storm center Lauren Jackson won't return to the WNBA.

College news:

Under coach Lindsey Gottlieb, Cal has emerged as a West coast power.

Indiana's coaching staff is complete.

Brett Benzio is Harvard's new assistant coach.

The NCAA named its top 30 women of the year honorees, which include several basketball players.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Lauren Jackson pulls out of the World Championships to rehab knee

Another setback for the Australian legend.

All even in the East

Heck of a game today.

The Sky rallied from 14 points down to top the Fever in double overtime, 86-84, and force a game three in the Eastern Conference finals.

Courtney Vandersloot was clutch for Chicago, with 18 points. Sylvia Fowles lead the team with 27.

Box score.

Fever coach Lin Dunn and forward Tamika Catchings interview.

So both the West and East series are even. And honestly, both games could go either way.

The Mercury and Lynx tip off tomorrow at 7 p.m. Pacific, and the Fever and Sky play at 7 p.m. Eastern Wednesday.

With all the close, nail-biter games so far, I can't remember when I've enjoyed the WNBA playoffs more than this year.