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:

...is Liberty forward Kiah Stokes.

Great August action photo gallery:

Feast on this.

Lynx:

Podcast on the humor tip with coach Cheryl Reeve.

Sky:

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.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Stats leaders

As of right now, stats leaders are................

Points per game:

1. Elena Delle Donne, 23.9
2. Maya Moore, 20.9
3. Angel McCoughtry, 20.1
4. Tina Charles, 17.8
5. DeWanna Bonner, 16.7
6. Riquna Williams, 15.6
7. Cappie Pondexter, 15
8. Jantel Lavender, 15
9. (tie) Brittney Griner, Kelsey Bone, Alex Bentley, 14.7

Rebounds per game:

1. Courtney Paris, 9.8
2. Elena Delle Donne, 8.8
3. (tie) Tina Charles, Brittney Griner, 8.6
5. Jantel Lavender, 8.5
6. Rebekkah Brunson, 8.2
7. Tamika Catchings, 7.2
8. Maya Moore, 6.9
9. Kiah Stokes, 6.8
10. (tie) Jayne Appel, Erika de Souza, 6.4

The entire stats page.

I was contemplating the most improved player award today. Jantel Lavender, Riquna Williams, Shenise Johnson, Kelsey Bone and Alex Bentley came to mind.

Days of Our Lives

Sky:

Cappie Pondexter sustained a concussion in Saturday's game against the Dream, and is being evaluated.

Elena Delle Donne won the July WNBA Cares Community Assist Award. Delle Donne has also switched agents: from the Wasserman Media Group to Octagon.

Shock:

Riquna Williams will miss Tulsa's road trip this week after sustaining a left leg injury in last night's game against Indiana.

The court battle around moving the team to Dallas continues.

Lynx:

Minnesota is happy to see August end after struggling much of the month.

Renee Montgomery is stepping up in the absence of Lindsay Whalen.

Fever:

Indiana could clinch a record-breaking eleventh playoff berth with a win over the Sun tomorrow.

Today the Fever signed point guard Briann January to a multi-year contract extension.

Liberty:

We are: New York Liberty.

Behind the scenes with the Liberty.

Home court.

Tina Charles, Epiphanny Prince, Swin Cash, Essence Carson and Tanisha Wright filmed a commercial with Spike Lee earlier this month.

Storm:

Rookie Jewell Loyd broke Lauren Jackson's free throw record for attempts without a miss - 14 of 14 - in Seattle's win last night.

Between two birds, episode five.

Mystics:

Tierra Ruffin-Pratt likes to bother opponents at all times.

Players of the week:

Epiphanny Prince in the East, and Odyssey Sims in the West. A more diverse line up of POWs in one season, we have not seen before.

Fantasy league?

Why doesn't the WNBA have a fantasy league? Great question.

College news:

Lamina Cooper, the 2015 #41-ranked player, didn't enroll at Purdue this summer and will not join the team. She signed with them last fall.

Haylie Linn has been promoted to assistant coach at South Dakota State.

Addie Lees is a new assistant coach at Texas State.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Playoff race brings unexpected results

Everything you might have thought was going to happen today, didn't.

The Shock handed the Fever their third straight loss, 76-70, and clinched a playoff spot in the process. Odyssey Sims put up a whopping 30 points for Tulsa, as the franchise prepares to leave town for Dallas.

The Sun edged the Sky, 72-68, keeping their playoff hopes alive.....

especially since the Storm downed the Mystics, 69-59.

Check out these standings. So very very close in the East.

But the most eyebrow-raising game might have been between two teams who have already clinched playoff spots.

The Lynx rallied past the Mercury, 71-61. Minnesota was behind at halftime, and they were without starters Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen. Yet, they exploded in the third quarter and never looked back.

The Lynx haven't been successful in their gut checks lately, so tonight's win is significant. To begin playing like they used to, without two of their main guns? That's a good sign for them. If they advance far into the playoffs, they might just look back on this game as the one that turned them around.

But Whalen is out until the playoffs......

In the fifth game of the day, the Sparks beat the Stars, 60-52 in commanding fashion. Jantel Lavender lead LA with 24 points, while Kristi Toliver had 15, and Candace Parker recorded yet another double-double: 10 points and 11 rebounds.

It was a star-studded affair in Los Angeles, which hosted "We Are Women" night. I'll have pictures and interviews up later.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Chi Sky clinch playoff berth

The Sky hung on to edge the Dream, 98-96, which clinched a playoff berth for Chicago. They did it without Elena Delle Donne, who sat out with a foot injury.

In the evening's other match up, the Liberty handed the Sun their seventh straight loss, 80-66.

Tomorrow's games:

Fever at Shock

Stars at Sparks

Sun at Sky

Mercury at Lynx

Mystics at Storm

Lynx:

Excellent analysis of the Lynx's struggles of late.

Coach Cheryl Reeve, who counts this as her most difficult stretch since taking over the head job in 2010, says the team will "break out of this, and soon."

Take note, all managers and coaches: a team of All-Stars isn't enough.....you must have team chemistry to go far. And to get that, the core of the team needs to be kept intact for a long time. Constant restructuring is a detriment to a team.

Mystics:

The Mystics are out West chasing a playoff spot.

Sparks:

A full day of events are on tap tomorrow for "We Are Women" day at the Stars at Sparks game. I will be among the media who will interview Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Laila Ali and WNBA president Laurel Richie before the game. (Woot!)

Friday, August 28, 2015

The East is tighter than stretch pants

Current standings:

East

New York Liberty, 19-8
Chicago Sky, 17-11
Indiana Fever, 17-11
Washington Mystics, 16-11
Atlanta Dream, 12-16
Connecticut Sun, 12-16

West

Minnesota Lynx, 19-10
Phoenix Mercury, 17-12
Tulsa Shock, 14-14
Los Angeles Sparks, 11-18
Seattle Storm, 8-20
San Antonio Stars, 7-22

Because of tonight's results:

The Liberty clinched a playoff spot in the East by dominating the Lynx, 81-68.

The Dream came from behind to beat the Fever, 90-84. Tiffany Hayes had a career-high 28 points for Atlanta, and Tamika Catchings posted 24 points for Indiana. Teammate Layshia Clarendon recorded a career-high 17 points, stepping up for Briann January, who left the game in the second quarter after a collision. The Fever could have clinched a playoff position with a win.

The Mystics handled the Mercury, 71-63, and bolstered their playoff chances.

The Shock ran their winning streak to four, with a 76-66 win over the Sparks. Tulsa is at .500, and solidly third in the West.

The Storm pushed past the Stars, 83-69.

Dream:

Veteran forward Delisha Milton-Jones became the all-time WNBA games-played leader tonight, playing in her 497th game.

Sparks:

I got word from the Sparks this morning that Marianna Tolo tore her ACL in Wednesday's game against the Fever. Nothing yet on their website.

Sun:

The Sun are refusing to dwell on their losses.

Tomorrow's games:

Liberty at Sun

Sky at Dream

College news:

Maryland has unveiled their new court design.

Danielle Parks has been promoted to assistant coach at Rhode Island.

Taylor Rooks has transferred from Stanford to Harvard.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Parity, or a tale of two halves?

I can't decide if this WNBA season should be called "parity-ville," or "a tale of two halves."

Tonight's result:

The Mercury squeaked past the Sun, 81-80, on a Leilani Mitchell buzzer-beater.

Five games on tap tomorrow:

Mercury at Mystics

Dream at Fever

Lynx at Liberty

Sparks at Shock

Stars at Storm

Lynx:

This is an important weekend for the Lynx, as they face two of the league's best teams.

Mystics:

Tayler Hill is the latest Washington player to be injured, as she sprained her ankle during practice today.

Tierra Ruffin-Pratt discusses the Mystics' need to rebound after tough losses.

Shock:

A playoff berth is within reach for Tulsa. They play Los Angeles at home tomorrow.

Liberty:

Tanisha Wright has come up big for the Liberty this season.

Mercury:

The Mercury's male practice squad is a key to their success.

Analysis:

Second-round picks.

College news:

Tennessee coach Holly Warlick has received a one-year extension and a raise. Kyra Elzy has been promoted to associate head coach.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

NCAA holds mock selection

Nothing on the NCAA websites yet, but plenty on the NCAA's women's basketball twitter about today's mock selection exercise in Indianapolis. Hopefully they'll provide more detail soon. Here are today's tweets about the event:

- 55 coaches, administrators, media and women's basketball committee members will be taking part in today's #MockSelection exercise.

- #MockSelection attendees will work with same data that committee works from, with data current to this past March 16, Selection Monday.

- #MockSelection will explore selection, seeding, bracketing process; update on latest rules changes; how officials are selected and advance.

- Much talk on how coaches will adapt to new 4-quarter format that includes fewer stoppages in play and decreased physicality. #MockSelection

- Hope is new rules will strengthen connection of college basketball with women's basketball globally. #MockSelection

- For selection, team viewed for what it accomplished during year. For seeding, who's team without injured/unavailable player. #MockSelection

- To prepare for selections, committee members watch combined 1,200 games each season in-person, on TV/laptop or via archives. #MockSelection

- 32 auto bids determined by conf tourney/reg season champ. Committee picks 32 at-large teams. All seeded, placed in bracket. #MockSelection

- Committee works from "selection priorities" list, but each committee member determines what's most important on their own. #MockSelection

- Each conf appoints coach to participate as Regional Advisory Committee member & provide info/rankings from Jan thru March. #MockSelection

- 2016 championship in Indy will feature 3 division finals played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, April 3-5. #MockSelection

Basketball never stops.