Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The prognostications have begun

How the Indiana Fever are going to win the finals.

After making an improbable Finals run, the Fever deserve believers.

The Lynx are eager for a rematch of the 2012 Finals with Indiana.

Minnesota feels they're tougher than the team who lost to the Fever three years ago.

Maya Moore's arrival lifted the Lynx from obscurity.


Coach Sandy Brondello and Brittney Griner reflect on the season.

Griner and the Mercury are optimistic after an emotional and trying season.


Assistant coach Jennifer Gillom has joined Xavier College Preparatory Academy's basketball coaching staff in Phoenix.

USA National Team:

Fresh off their season, National Team members (who are not playing for a WNBA title) are training and touring in Europe, beginning Friday.

Hartford coach Jen Rizzotti will rejoin USA Basketball for the National Team European tour this week. UConn's Geno Auriemma and Breanna Stewart are also going.

It's about time:

Nike has finally enlisted women in designing basketball gear.

College news:

Injuries popping up....

Old Dominion junior forward Odegua Oigbokie sustained a knee injury and will miss the season.

UMaine senior forward will miss up to six weeks after knee surgery.

Kansas State freshman Lanie Page has a shoulder injury and will sit out the season.

At UConn, freshman Katie Lou Samuelson is following in Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis' foot steps. Meanwhile, teammate Morgan Tuck played it safe and rested this summer.

Is the era of abusive coaches finally coming to an end?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Fever upset Liberty to win Eastern Conference Championship

The Indiana Fever knocked off the New York Liberty, 66-51, to win the Eastern Conference Championship and advance to the WNBA finals.

Tamika Catchings made key defensive plays down the stretch to seal the win.

Indiana will face Western Conference champs Minnesota, in what has a 2012-like feel to it.

To say the Fever do very well under pressure is an understatement. Indiana spokesman Kevin Messenger said the team has faced elimination ten times in the past four years (since 2012). They are 8-2 in those games. Before tonight's game, The Fever was the only team to have won four straight elimination games in the postseason (2012 again). Now they've done it twice.


Coach Stephanie White is the first rookie coach to lead her team into the finals.

The public is invited to a welcoming rally for Indiana at the airport's Civic Plaza tomorrow morning.

Finals schedule:

Oct. 4: Fever at Lynx

Oct. 6: Fever at Lynx

Oct. 9: Lynx at Fever

Oct. 11: Lynx at Fever

Oct. 14: Fever at Lynx

Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer called the loss "disappointing, unfortunate."

New York could have won it in game two.

More pro news:

Brittney Griner will be suspended for the beginning of USA Basketball training camp this week due to her domestic violence arrest.

Armintie Herrington is retiring after nine seasons.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The call that wasn't

I was as surprised as anybody yesterday when WNBA official Amy Bonner called Phoenix Mercury forward Noelle Quinn for a foul on Lynx forward Maya Moore. It didn't look like a foul at all. But Moore went to the line with 1.5 seconds left on the clock and sank one of two free throws. Minnesota won, 72-71, and claimed the Western Conference title while defending champions Phoenix saw their season end.

Even more of a shock was getting the official news release from the league just before 9 a.m. Pacific today, saying the WNBA had determined that a foul should not have been called in that instance last night. The league had never retracted a call before, and I haven't heard of any other professional league doing that either.

The outcry on twitter began immediately. Fans were enraged, disbelieving, and indignant. I fielded numerous questions and was included in a few twit-discussions.

What good did it do to issue that statement? What are they going to do about these horrible, horrible refs?.....were among the most common sentiments expressed.

Like ESPN's Michelle Smith, I can't help but wonder what would have happened if the teams were allowed to play the overtime that was coming. I was so ready for it, pacing back and forth. But when Moore sank the final shot, it was all over, and I felt like the air had been let out of my balloon.

The Mercury might have won it in an extra period. It had been a heck of a game until that last call.

Why issue the statement? I agree with some, including a few coaching friends of mine, that it was good for the WNBA to take responsibility and own up to error in this case. They took accountability for the wrong.

As for the officiating, I can't get on board with those who say WNBA referees are the worst. They sure used to be, but they aren't now.

When the league first started, the officials were painfully awful. It seemed like every game I attended (which was the Seattle Storm back then), I was upset at least twice by crappy calls. And I was far from the only one. Often at Key Arena, the fan anger around me was palpable. I knew all the league referees by name, and so did everyone else.

One game in 2002 saw the Houston Comets come to town. The referees botched up that game at the end, similar to the way they did last night. Fans stood on their feet for the last few minutes of the game, booing and booing. Police officers stood ready, because the tension in the place felt like it could turn into a riot. As the officials walked off the court and into the tunnel, fans leaned over the rails to curse and spit at them.

In 2006, WNBA referees were sent back to officiating school. Things have been much better since then. Not perfect, but better. Today I watch games and see officials who keep the game in flow, for the most part, and don't become part of the story line of the evening match up - as it should be.

Could the referees of the WNBA improve? Sure. But things take time.

We didn't hear of Phoenix lodging a protest over last night's call, so I would guess they have begun to move on. We all should.

Who will take game 3??

The Fever and Liberty square off tomorrow in the Eastern Conference finale. Game time is 4 p.m. Pacific/7 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2.

Another preview.

Can't wait!!!!


The Fever are trying to take Tamika Catchings to another WNBA finals.


The Liberty need to forget the ugly past if they want to achieve finals glory.

New York is learning from their mistakes in yesterday's game 2 collapse.

College news:

The contract of Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico has been extended through 2020-2021.

James Madison senior guard Precious Hall has torn her ACL and will miss the season.

Iowa State center Bryanna Fernstrom has been charged with public intoxication.

WNBA says foul on Noelle Quinn shouldn't have been called

This is a first:

NEW YORK, Sept. 28, 2015 – Renee Brown, WNBA Chief of Basketball Operations and Player Relations, issued the following statement today regarding the foul call with 1.5 seconds to play in the fourth quarter of the Minnesota Lynx’s 72-71 win over the Phoenix Mercury on Sunday at Talking Stick Resort Arena:

“With 5.4 seconds on the game clock and the game tied at 71-71, Minnesota’s Maya Moore deflected and stole a pass from Phoenix’s Noelle Quinn. Quinn was immediately called for a reach-in foul for contact on Moore. After reviewing postgame video and interviewing last night’s game officials, we have determined a foul should not have been called on Quinn for contact on Moore while Moore was attempting to advance the ball.”

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Marketing the WNBA? Here's a plan

My eight-point, proactive plan to market the WNBA.

Catchings rallies Fever to game 3; shocking ending to Western finals series

Insane day.

First, in the Eastern Conference finals:

The incomparable Tamika Catchings rallied the Fever from 18 down to beat the Liberty, 70-64, and force a game three of the series.

Catchings video.

Then after that, a shocking ending to the Western Conference finals series:

The Lynx edged the Mercury, 72-71, on a controversial last-second call on Phoenix forward Noelle Quinn.

I have to disagree with the call too. The game should have gone into overtime.

Fever and Liberty will duke it out at 4 p.m. Pacific/7 p.m. Eastern Tuesday at Madison Square Garden. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.


Coach Bill Laimbeer is enjoying the ride.

All-defensive teams named

Earlier today, the WNBA named its first and second all-defensive teams:

First team

Brittney Griner
Tamika Catchings
Briann January
Angel McCoughtry
Nneka Ogwumike

Second team

Kiah Stokes
Tanisha Wright
Tina Charles
DeWanna Bonner
Sancho Lyttle

Some on twitter wondered why Rebekkah Brunson wasn't on the list.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Game twos on tap

The suspense has been rough, but at last tomorrow will be game two of both the Eastern and Western Conference finals. Liberty at Fever play at 10 a.m. Pacific/1 p.m. Eastern and Lynx at Mercury tip at noon Pacific/3 p.m. Eastern, both on ESPN.


Tamika Catchings defies the odds at age 36 for the Fever.

Indiana must defend better to keep their season alive.

New York is ready for game two.

Tina Charles leads the Liberty in more than just stats.


Preview one and preview two.

Maya Moore vs. DeWanna Bonner is an intriguing match up for game two.

The Mercury's rebounding woes have them on the brink of elimination.

Phoenix must make adjustments tomorrow.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Lynx outlast Mercury to take game one

The aggressive Lynx took game one of the Western Conference finals from the Mercury, 67-60.

Sheryl Swoopes:

....will receive the Boost Mobile Pioneer Award from the WNBA for being a frontrunner in women's basketball and the league.

College news:

ESPN will celebrate its tenth year of "Play for Kay" games this February. Holy moly - has it already been ten years?

Storm wins draft lottery again

The Seattle Storm won the draft lottery tonight, and will get the first pick in the 2016 WNBA draft. They had 44 percent of the balls in the drawing.

The Stars will pick second, the Sun third, and the Dream, fourth.

UConn forward Breanna Stewart is expected to be the top choice in the draft.

This will be Seattle's fourth number-one pick in their 16-year franchise history.

Jewell Loyd wins ROY; all-rookie team named

I was sure having a premonition last night, wasn't I? News began leaking last night, and around lunch time today, Jewell Loyd was announced the 2015 WNBA rookie of the year.

Loyd headlines the all-rookie team, which also includes:

Ramu Tokashiki, Storm

Kiah Stokes, Liberty

Brittany Boyd, Liberty

Natalie Achonwa, Fever

Ana Dabovic, Sparks

The team was voted on by WNBA coaches.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Liberty top Fever in Eastern Conference finals opener

Tonight's result:

The Liberty topped the Fever, 84-67, in game one of the Eastern Conference finals.

Game one of the Western Conference finals is tomorrow:

....5 p.m. Pacific/8 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2, as the Mercury visit the Lynx.

Lynx center Sylvia Fowles faces a big challenge in Mercury center Brittney Griner.

More WNBA news....

Post-season awards:

....have not all been handed out yet. Rookie of the year, most improved, sportsmanship, and first and second teams have yet to be named.

The league declined to provide specific dates, but said the awards would be distributed throughout the playoffs.


As the Liberty seek the title, Tina Charles can now do more than dream.

Coach Bill Laimbeer has again turned water into wine.

Does Isiah Thomas deserve credit for the team's success?


Monique Currie finally made it out of round one of the playoffs in her tenth year as a pro.

WNBA draft lottery tomorrow night:

The Sun, Storm, Dream and Stars are vying for first pick in the draft lottery, which will be at halftime of tomorrow's Western Conference finals opener between the Lynx and Mercury.

Huskies Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson are ready.

College news:

UConn junior forward Morgan Tuck says she won't declare for the draft next spring. Her teammate Natalie Butler can finally play for the Huskies.

Crystal Riley joins UNCW as an assistant coach.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

And then there were four

Great couple of semifinal game 3 match ups tonight:

The Liberty outlasted the Mystics, 79-74. Talk about consistency: New York center Tina Charles had 22 points, as she did in games one and two.

Both WNBA president Laurel Richie and NBA commissioner Adam Silver were in the audience, as was filmmaker Spike Lee.

The Liberty advance to the Eastern Conference finals, where they'll face the Indiana Fever, who were at Madison Square Garden tonight for the game. Why? Because the East finals begin TOMORROW!

Holy no preparation, Batman. What's the hurry? I hope the Liberty have lots of protein shakes and ice baths tonight.

On the West side......

The Lynx knocked out the Sparks, 91-80.

Minnesota advances to the Western Conference finals, where they take on the Phoenix Mercury - who have been resting since Sunday, after sweeping the Tulsa Shock Saturday night.

That game is Thursday.

The WNBA's playoffs promo video "Watch Me" is a hit.

Let's go.

More WNBA news.....


Chicago has to focus on defense to become a championship team.


Mystics fans aren't buying the official reason for the team's move out of downtown D.C.


Rookie Brittany Boyd grew up this season.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Fever upend Sky to advance to Eastern Conference finals

The Fever used a balanced attack to oust the Sky, 100-89, and advance to the Eastern Conference finals.

Tamika Catchings lead five Indiana players in double figures with 27 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists. She also became the first WNBA player to eclipse 1,000 playoff points.

Tomorrow's playoff schedule:

Two critical game three's on the line, as the Mystics take on the Liberty at 4 p.m. Pacific/7 p.m. Easter, and the Sparks face the Lynx at 6 p.m. Pacific/9 p.m. Eastern.

I said last week that the Fever and Sparks had the best chances of pulling off upsets. Indiana lived up to their end of the bargain. Will LA also get the upheaval?


It's win or season over for the Lynx tomorrow.

Minnesota teams are pretty good in deciding games.


Coach Mike Thibault talks about what his team needs to do to win game 3 tomorrow.

College news:

The Pac-12's TV schedule is out.

South Carolina guard Tiffany Davis has torn her ACL and will miss the season.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

"Open letter" thoughts

By now you've likely read ESPN writer Mechelle Voepel's open letter to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, in which she takes issue with comments he made about the WNBA last Thursday. Since the piece was published Friday night, it has met with universal acclaim from women's basketball fans.

Voepel made numerous great points, but this was the heart of the matter for me:


As for your shout-out to The Players' Tribune, I understand the value of a site where athletes and their agents are able to craft personal stories that represent them without the media as intermediaries. The site has had some intriguing first-person pieces, photography and videos that represent the WNBA well. (It would seem as if could do the same thing even more often if the site were staffed, funded and managed to that purpose).

But then there was this statement you made on the media, "Leading into the playoffs tonight, there's virtually no coverage."

Really? I know I'm not imagining espnW colleague Michelle Smith and I have written about the playoffs all week (here, here and here), and read and listened to the work of others. Do you know of writers like the Associated Press' Doug Feinberg? How about newspaper reporters such as the Seattle Times' Jayda Evans, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Kent Youngblood, the Indianapolis Star's David Woods, the Hartford Courant's John Altavilla, the Washington Post's Gene Wang and the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder's Charles Hallman, among others?

How about people such as Cheryl Coward, who runs the Hoopfeed website chronicling everything in women's basketball. David Siegel, whose podcasts comprehensively cover the sport. Helen Wheelock, who catalogues and publicizes stories from across the country on the Women's Hoops Blog. Lee Michaelson. Sue Favor, Mel Greenberg and many, many others -- forgive me if your name is not mentioned -- who own or contribute to sites such as Full Court and Swish Appeal.

Perhaps we're all too motley a crew for you to be aware of, Mr. Silver, residing as we do in the "women's sports ghetto." But if you're looking for your NBA "big-timers" from the media to cover the WNBA, good luck. They've virtually never covered women's basketball, and I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for them to start.

I would advise, though, trying to get a better grasp on the network of traditional media, social media denizens, bloggers, freelancers, podcasters and "superfans" who closely follow the WNBA not just all season but all year. And then find ways to reach out more to them, to pick their brains for ideas, to realize there are some untapped opportunities in our technologically ultra-connected world now for the WNBA's publicity needs.

The WNBA will never be anything like the NBA in popularity, wealth and scope. However, there are people not just in the United States but across the world who care passionately about the WNBA.


I was online Friday when this column dropped, and I read it immediately. I was enthusiastic.

Enthusiastic not only because Voepel was right on the money, but because I had expressed the very same sentiments to the league one month ago: that they don't publicize the publicity that they do get. I pointed out that there are some very dedicated journalists out there, including myself, who have been covering the WNBA thoroughly for years. But we never see our work tweeted out on the WNBA's twitter, nor linked on their site or otherwise acknowledged.

In contrast, the NBA tweets pretty much every link of stories written about their players, whether it's a big or small publication. Why doesn't the WNBA do that? Great question. There is no reason I should be linking every last story I get my hands on every day on this blog when I'm not being paid to do so, and they arguably are.

I had the same thought as Voepel: I guess we're not "big enough." And I'm pretty sure the appeal of the Player's Tribune - at least initially - was that it's Derek Jeter's site. (It's almost like Player's Tribune read my post last spring WNBA players: we're ready to get to know you better).

But all good player and team features and stories need to be publicized - not just first-person narratives, and not only those from celebrity publications. The press corps that Voepel named in her piece may not write for Sports Illustrated, but every one of us love the WNBA, and women's basketball. We have a passion for the sport and those who play it, and it shows in our writing and in our determination to keep doing so.

Major women's basketball entities have come together to grow the game at the college level and below. Each also mentioned that the stories of the athletes need to be told in moving the game forward.

So let's tell them, and let's get the WNBA in on it.

More later.

Liberty, Sparks force third games

The Liberty made a statement today, evening the series with the Mystics by crushing them, 86-68. A passionate Tina Charles lead New York with 22 points.

Then the Sparks shook off their third-quarter curse and beat the Lynx, 81-71.

Both series continue Tuesday.

Tomorrow night is the third game in the Sky-Fever series. Tipoff in Chicago is 5 p.m. Pacific/8 p.m. Eastern.

Last night the Shock ended their WNBA era in Tulsa with a loss to the Mercury. Phoenix won, 91-67, for the series sweep.


Sugar is an ingredient of success.

Katie Smith, an assistant coach with potential, is biding her time with the Liberty.


...have plenty of questions to answer.

No kidding. So I guess coach Dan Hughes is staying?

Quote outtakes:

In today's post-game Lynx-Sparks press conference, Los Angeles coach Brian Agler said he asked the team today if they'd watched last night's Fever-Sky game, where Indiana prevailed and forced a third game.

"The one thing that jumped out at me about the Indiana game is that Tamika Catchings wouldn't let them lose," he said.

Later, he said Candace Parker is "extremely hungry" to continue into the playoffs, which is why she's been playing so passionately since her return.

"What she did today reminded me of Tamika Catchings last night. It's not just the scoring, it's the rebounding, how actively she is defensively, getting deflections. She's elevating her presence, she's making plays. She's an extremely smart player," he said.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Fever beat Sky to take series to third game

What an exciting game, which featured double-digit lead changes and a pace like a track meet. But in the end the Fever beat the Sky, 89-82, to extend the series to a third game. Tamika Catchings lead five Indiana players in double figures with 22 points and nine rebounds. Five Sky players also were in double figures.

The Shock-Mercury game is in progress...............


The Fever are among the league leaders in profitability and sponsorship.

WNBA male practice players:

If you don't bring it, "you will get beat down." Love this piece.

College news:

Pat Summitt is still the coach emeritus at Tennessee, but her renewal agreement this year came without office space.

Cal has dismissed starting guard Mercedes Jefflo.

The NCAA has granted Tori Jarosz a sixth year of eligibility at Marist.

Becky Hammon returned to alma mater Colorado State recently to tell her story.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Round 1, day 2: unexpected results

Despite 26 points from Epiphanny Prince, the Mystics edged the top-seeded Liberty in two overtimes, 86-83.

Many had predicted a Sparks upset, but the Lynx held them off, 67-65, behind Maya Moore's 33 points.

Round two starts tomorrow:

Sky at Fever, 4 p.m. Pacific/7 p.m. Eastern

Mercury at Shock, 6 p.m. Pacific/9 p.m. Eastern

Both games are on LiveAccess and NBATV.


The Shock hosts Phoenix tomorrow night in what could be their last hurrah.

Thanks for the memories
, one fan says.


Elena Delle Donne is great, but the Sky's guards can do the heavy lifting, too.

Nike has released a shoe inspired by Delle Donne.


All-star center Tina Charles is determined to help her community.


The Mystics have brought a local flavor to their playoff run.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

NCAA "Big Monday" season schedule revealed

Something to look forward to:

Date Time (ET) Game

January 18 7 p.m. My Home Court: No. 3 Tennessee at No. 6 Notre Dame
January 25 7 p.m. We Back Pat: No. 3 Tennessee at No. 16 Kentucky
February 1 6 p.m. No. 6 Notre Dame at No. 15 Duke
11 p.m. No. 14 Arizona State at No. 12 Oregon State
February 8 7 p.m. No. 1 UConn at No. 2 South Carolina
9 p.m. No. 4 Maryland at No. 13 Ohio State
February 15 7 p.m. Rivalry Week: No. 2 South Carolina at No. 3 Tennessee
9 p.m. Rivalry Week: No. 21 USF at No. 7 Louisville
February 22 7 p.m. Play 4Kay: No. 6 Notre Dame at No. 10 Florida State
9 p.m. Play 4Kay: No. 5 Baylor at No. 19 Oklahoma
February 29 7 p.m. No. 21 USF at No. 1 UConn

I only have one question: when did preseason rankings come out????

Sky, Mercury prevail in initial first-round games

Round one of round one:

The Sky edged the Fever, 77-72.

The Mercury blew out the Shock, 88-55. Phoenix center Brittney Griner blocked a WNBA record 11 shots in the process.


The Lynx are ready for the postseason with their best foot forward.

Coach Cheryl Reeve says they are finally healthy.

Minnesota won't be keeping any secrets.

The Lynx worked hard to get home court advantage.


Longtime rivals Epiphanny Prince and Tina Charles have pushed the Liberty to success.

Swin Cash talks playoffs.


Without a star to guide them, the Mystics will count on balance in the playoffs.


Assistant coach Julie Hairgrove is a big part of the team's success over the years.


The Storm face key roster questions after their rebuilding year.

State of the WNBA:

NBA commissioner Adam Silver says the league isn't yet profitable enough to pay players what they deserve.

“We thought it would have broken through by now," he said.

Quigley, Griner, Laimbeer garner awards

Sky guard Allie Quigley was named the sixth woman of the year, for the second consecutive season.

Also for the second straight year, Mercury center Brittney Griner is the defensive POY.

Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer is coach of the year.

Peak performance awards went to MVP Elena Delle Donne, assists leader Courtney Vandersloot, and rebounds leader Courtney Paris.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Twenty hours until the playoffs

Tomorrow on ESPN2, the first round of the 2015 WNBA playoffs kick off. It'll be:

Fever at Sky, 5 p.m. Pacific/8 p.m. Eastern

Shock at Mercury, 7 p.m. Pacific/10 p.m. Eastern

Sky-Fever preview.

Preview of all four series.

Sideline Lynx coach offers playoffs preview.

The Shock overcame adversity to make the playoffs. They open in Phoenix.

Even without Diana Taurasi, the Mercury aim to repeat.

Sylvia Fowles has helped the Lynx flourish. She found what she wanted with Minnesota.

Lynx practice audio from today.

Previously-scheduled events are conflicting with the WNBA playoffs, forcing some teams to move their games.

Non-playoff news:

I heard it from an inside source today that Atlanta Dream general manager has resigned. Nothing on the Internet about it yet except this.

NBA players are some of the WNBA's greatest fans.

The league saw a record-low attendance this season. The Stars had particularly low figures.

College news:

Nicole Kornet has transferred from Oklahoma to UCLA.

Western Michigan assistant coach John Swickrath is no longer on staff.

Elena Delle Donne named league's MVP

Chicago Sky forward Elena Delle Donne received 38 of 39 possible first-place votes (including mine) to win the league's most valuable player honor.

She was the WNBA's scoring and free throws champ, and was near the top in many other statistical categories.

A look back at EDD's season.

The league says a congratulatory tweet from LeBron James was the most noteworthy, but I disagree: it was obviously Tamika Catchings' tweet.

Sure is a lot of stuff about EDD on the league's front page. If I didn't know better, I'd think she was the new "face of the WNBA."

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

More possible scenarios

The league continues its speculative "what if" series of playoff team previews:

Three reasons why the Tulsa Shock will win the WNBA title: team of destiny, the back court, and their relentless spirit.

Three reasons why the Indiana Fever will win the WNBA title: Tamika Catchings, balance, and execution on both ends of the floor.

Three reasons the Los Angeles Sparks will win the WNBA title: Candace Parker, the front court, and Brian Agler.

Three reasons the Washington Mystics will win the WNBA title: defense, Meesseman-Dolson front court combo, and depth.

For fun:

Liberty guard Candice Wiggins names her five hardest players to guard: Seimone Augustus, Jia Perkins, Skylar Diggins, Tamika Catchings and Diana Taurasi.


Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen will rejoin the Lynx in time for the playoff opener Friday.

Renee Montgomery has thrived with increased playing time this season.


Point guards Briann January and Courtney Vandersloot will face off in the playoffs and maybe in Rio.

Indiana looks to alter their recent trend against the Sky.


The unstoppable Elena Delle Donne.


Tina Charles talks playoffs.


Diana Taurasi bought 333 tickets for fans for each of the team's home playoff games.


The Mystics will soon have a new playing home.


Ramu Tokashiki's rookie season was successful.

Players of the week:

Kelsey Bone for the East and Monique Currie for the West.

College news:

The WNBA draft lottery will determine the future of UConn forward Breanna Stewart.

President Obama honored the Huskies at the White House today. Transcript.

Former Alabama assistant coach Terry Nooner will serve in that capacity at Maryland.

Monday, September 14, 2015

WNBA championship is open for the taking

The WNBA weighed in today on possible champions, analyzing the top two seeds in each conference.

Three reasons why the Minnesota Lynx will win the WNBA title: Maya Moore, perseverance, and depth.

Three reasons why the New York Liberty will win the WNBA title: strong defensive identity, Tina Charles, and combined playoff experience.

Three reasons why the Mercury will win the WNBA title: star power, defense, and the X-factors.

Three reasons why the Chicago Sky will win the WNBA title: they have the MVP frontrunner, they have the league's best offense, and they've been here before.

I've not seen the WNBA with this kind of playoffs preview before, but that's probably because the league hasn't seen a season like this before. There is no clear favorite, or even two clear finalists. The trophy could go to anyone.

The West's top-seeded Lynx were picked to take it all and to dominate the entire season, with an all-star roster. But after a strong start, they stumbled inexplicably in August, going 6-6. Then Olympians Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen were injured, and Minnesota lost four of their last seven games. They have been a model of inconsistency.

The first-place-in-the-East Liberty own the league's best record, and have been clicking all season long with great chemistry. But losing three of their last five games was uncharacteristic, and it begs the question as to whether or not they will be playoff-ready.

The Mercury pulled themselves out of an early-season rut after the return of center Brittney Griner, but they have been up and down with wins and losses, showing no clear pattern to their streaks and slumps. The Sky have been similarly erratic - in some cases winning handily and then getting blown out the next game.

There are two teams who could possibly pull upsets: the Indiana Fever and the Los Angeles Sparks.

The Fever were scorching hot mid-season, going 10-1 before cooling off in late August and dropping some games. But they have three great factors going for them: Tamika Catchings, great team chemistry and the fact that all players on the roster have played substantial minutes this season. Catchings is the leader of the team, and pushed the Fever to the 2012 title. Together, they may rise again.

The Sparks go through Candace Parker, who lead them to 11 wins after her July 29 return. Parker has played passionate, inspired basketball reminiscent of her college and early pro years, and it seems to have been contagious for her teammates. Los Angeles may have come late to the party, but they have developed great team chemistry of their own the last few weeks, and their momentum is surging. They could take advantage of the hesitance of the Lynx.

I don't do predictions. But Lynx-Sparks could go either way, and as for Mercury-Shock, I'll have to give the nod to Phoenix, as they're healthy with a motivation to repeat their title.

In the East, it's the Sky-Fever match up that's too close to call. I'm betting the Liberty will take care of the Mystics.

Regardless of who wins, I hope for exciting, close games until the very last buzzer sounds. (I don't want to see a repeat of last year's college season, which was parity-ville all the way until the blowout title match up).

Three more days.

Regular-season stats leaders


Elena Delle Donne, 23.4

Maya Moore, 20.6

Angel McCoughtry, 20.1


Courtney Paris, 9.3

Tina Charles, 8.5

Elena Delle Donne, 8.4


Courtney Vandersloot, 5.8

Sue Bird, 5.4

Danielle Robinson, 5


Sancho Lyttle, 2.25

Angel McCoughtry, 2.12

Alex Bentley, 1.96


Brittney Griner, 4.04

LaToya Sanders, 2.09

Elena Delle Donne, 2.06

Field goal percentage

Brittney Griner, .565

Emma Meesseman, .556

Crystal Langhorne, .545

Three point percentage

Briann January, .431

Tricia Liston, .429

Shenise Johnson, .413

Free throw percentage

Elena Delle Donne, .95

Damiris Dantas, .911

Ivory Latta, .909



How Elena Delle Donne battles chronic Lyme Disease while destroying the competition.

Delle Donne heads into the playoffs as the league's regular-season points and free throws leader.


Once again, the Sun failed to reach the playoffs. But they have their eyes on the draft lottery in ten days.


Former Indiana star Jessica Davenport has opened an online clothing store.

College news:

Columbia coach Stephanie Glance has stepped down to be the new executive director of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. Associate head coach Sheila Roux will be interim head coach for this season.

Former Maryland standout Dara Taylor has been named an assistant coach at Wagner College.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Last day brings seeds, and interesting implications

The Sky beat the Sun, 86-75, the Fever dropped the Liberty, 81-76, and the Dream edged the Mystics, 73-71. So that means the Sky get the second seed in the East, the Fever get the third seed and the Mystics get the fourth.

In the West, it was Shock over Mercury, 91-87, and Stars over Storm, 59-58.


- Elena Delle Donne ends the regular season averaging 23.4 point per game - more than any other player in the league.

- The Stars avoided matching the 1998 Mystics record for losing all road games in a season, with tonight's win.

- Their loss this evening gives the Storm 44 percent of the balls in the WNBA draft lottery in 11 days.

- What's up with the Liberty's skid the last week? Their playoff opponent, the Mystics, haven't been much better.

Tamika Catchings:

The queen of Indianapolis is putting the finishing touches on her legacy.

Exciting thought:

Will Sacramento see a Monarchs return?

Saturday, September 12, 2015

One more regular-season day

Tomorrow's games/regular-season finale:

Sky at Sun

Dream at Mystics

Mercury at Shock

Liberty at Fever

Stars at Storm


Will Phoenix repeat as champs? It's not out of the question.


Indiana faces a final tune-up tomorrow.


Double-teams are frustrating for Stefanie Dolson.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Meaningless but interesting games

It's that time of the year when fans find out that bench players can indeed play.....lots of reserves getting minutes tonight:

The Mystics ran away from the Liberty, 82-55. Several bench players came up big in this one.

The Fever put away the Dream, 75-67. Indiana forward Tamika Catchings sat out to rest.

The Sky routed the Shock, 92-71. Tulsa reserve Vicki Baugh had a career-high 22 points.

The Storm beat the short-handed Lynx, 78-64, behind rookie Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis' career-high 16 points. Minnesota was without Maya Moore, in addition to Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen. Moore had played all 169 games since being drafted in 2011.

The Mercury edged the Sparks, 70-65. Los Angeles rookie Jennifer Hamson started and put up a career-high 12 points. Her teammate, rookie Crystal Bradford, had a career-high nine points.


...have signed Carla Cortijo for the rest of the season.


On the spot with coach Cheryl Reeve.


Briann January won the WNBA Cares Community Assist Award for August.

No games tomorrow, but five are on tap Sunday for the season finale.

Lisa Leslie:

Her acceptance speech in being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame today. She brought Lynette Woodard, Dawn Staley, Cynthia Cooper and Tara VanDerveer on stage with her.

College news:

Mery Andrade is a new assistant coach at San Diego.

Bill Dooley is a new assistant coach at Virginia Tech.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Playoffs schedule released

Playoffs schedule:

Sept. 17:

Tulsa at Phoenix

Washington or Indiana at Chicago

Sept. 18

Los Angeles at Minnesota

Washington or Indiana at New York

Sept. 19:

Phoenix at Tulsa

Chicago at Indiana or Washington.

Sept. 20:

Minnesota at Los Angeles

New York at Washington or Indiana

Game threes if necessary.

Let's gooooo!!


Swin Cash, Essence Carson and Tanisha Wright on life in the WNBA.


Coach Cheryl Reeve won't rest her starters for the team's final game tomorrow.


Brittney Griner has been training with former NBA star Mark West.


Big Mama Stef takes her hair color seriously.

Lisa Leslie:

As Lisa Leslie prepares to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame tomorrow, her former coach Michael Cooper says there's only one Lisa Leslie.

College news:

Coker College's new head coach is none other than Shannon "Pee Wee" Johnson.

Former Penn State standout Dara Taylor is a new assistant coach Dara Taylor.

No more assigned seats at Georgia. Fans are upset.

Marist will make a second appeal to the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility for Tori Jarosz.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Liberty grab first seed in East

The Liberty took down the Sun, 74-64, to clinch the #1 seed in the East.

The Dream clobbered the Sparks, 90-60. Los Angeles sat out Candace Parker, Nneka Ogwumike and Alana Beard.


....have signed center Michelle Snow, just in time for the playoffs.


Wow....Sugar Rodgers on "making it out."


Q&A with Kara Lawson.


Photo essay: Jewell Loyd home in Chicago.

No games tomorrow, but there will be five on Friday.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

East spots clinched, West seeds set

Interesting results tonight:

The Mystics downed the Fever in overtime, 76-72, to sew up the last playoff spot in the East.

In the meantime, the Lynx held off the Storm, 73-67, to clinch the West's top seed.

In taking out the Stars, 74-64, the Shock clinched the third seed in the West.

The fact that Minnesota had to fight to beat Seattle is cause for pause, as they are set to face the surging, fourth-seeded Sparks.

The second-seed Mercurial Mercury will go up against the resilient, never-say-die Shock.

I could see upsets happening in either case. It's anyone's game(s).


Tamika Catchings blogs some provoking thoughts.


The Liberty signed guard Erica Wheeler for the rest of the season, to compensate for the loss of Brittany Boyd.

Coach Bill Laimbeer talks playoffs.

Players of the week:

Candace Parker in the West, and Courtney Vandersloot in the East.

Tomorrow's schedule:

Sun at Liberty

Sparks at Dream

College news:

Pretrial court proceedings against former Xavier assistant coach Bryce McKey were delayed until Friday. He has been accused of groping a player.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Parker’s rejuvenation propels Sparks into the playoffs

It's good to see Candace Parker having so much fun on the court again, since her rest and return. Sometimes you've got to take time off to remember why you love - and started playing the game in the first place.


Sunday, September 6, 2015

One spot left as Sparks, Liberty seal deals

Candace Parker put on a show today, leading the Sparks over the Shock, 92-73. Parker had a season-high 33 points in helping Los Angeles earn a playoff berth - the 15th for the franchise, which is the most in WNBA history. Nneka Ogwumike added 26 points, while Jantel Lavender and Ana Dabovic each added 10.

A while later, the Liberty sealed the top seed in the East by downing the Lynx, 75-71. Minnesota turned the ball over on four of their last five possessions in the loss, in an "offensive malfunction."

In the day's first game, the Dream handed the Mystics their fourth straight loss, 73-67. Atlanta still has slim playoff chances.

The Sky routed the Storm, 93-65. Elena Delle Donne crossed the 1,500-point career mark, in only her third season. Seattle is officially eliminated from playoff contention.

So the West playoff spots are taken, and the Mystics and Dream are still battling for that last East slot.

Only one more week of regular-season play.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Friday, September 4, 2015

No clinching, but Lynx are back; rookie breaks wrist

Some are saying the Lynx are "back" after tonight's 81-65 victory over the Fever. Coach Cheryl Reeve said "stuff" was holding the team back last month, and said Sunday's win over Phoenix was a turning point. I had speculated that it was.

The Sun survived the Stars, 73-72, thanks to Kelsey Bone's game-winner with 1.8 seconds remaining.


Tough dealing of the cards to rookie Brittany Boyd, who fractured her wrist in last night's game against the Sky, and will be out 5-6 weeks. Boyd underwent successful surgery today to repair the damage.

On a lighter note, Kiah Stokes has a movie list.


The Sky will begin their playoff run at the University of Illinois-Chicago Pavilion, as AllState Arena is unavailable.

Courtney Vandersloot has had a huge hand in the team's success this year.


One-on-one with the retiring Sophia Young-Malcolm.


Episode 5 of Eye on the Storm features rookie Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis.


Layshia Clarendon podcast.

Tomorrow's game:

Mercury at Stars.

About last night, part 412

The Sky delivered an unexpected whoopin to the Liberty, 82-60.

The Sparks hung on to edge the Mystics, 93-91.

The Shock routed the Storm, 85-67.

Today's games:

Fever at Lynx

Sun at Stars

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

World-class athletes support WNBA at Sparks game

A feature from Sunday's events, on my new website.

Bonus: Faith Evans sings at a long game timeout. I was a wee bit star struck.

Photo by Sue Favor

Only two playoff spots left

What a night:

Death, taxes, and Fever in the playoffs again: Indiana creamed the Sun, 81-51, to reach the playoffs for the eleventh straight year. That's a WNBA record.

Who you gone call? T-Spoon. That's what Sugar Rodgers, who had a career-high 23 points in the Liberty's 80-75 overtime defeat of the Dream, did last week. She had been in an offensive slump.

Only two more playoff spots open - one in each conference. The Sun and Stars have been eliminated from playoff contention.

Tomorrow's game:

Mystics at Phoenix (why are we still having games in the middle of the day now that school has started?)

Thursday's schedule:

Sky at Liberty

Shock at Storm

Mystics at Sparks

The pressure is on, baby.

Rookie of the month for August: Liberty forward Kiah Stokes.

Great August action photo gallery:

Feast on this.


Podcast on the humor tip with coach Cheryl Reeve.


More on Elena Delle Donne's new agent.

College news:

Catching up with San Francisco coach Jennifer Azzi.

Western Michigan has two transfers: Deborah Meeks from Kansas State, and Asia Robeson from Auburn.