Monday, May 2, 2016

Recruiting: wisdom you wish you had known

WOW! What a great piece by former Vanderbilt Commodore Jasmine Jenkins on how to pick a college that's right for you during the recruiting process.

Read carefully! The whole thing!

2. Work, work, work, work, work

Every player needs to sit and seriously ask themselves: What am I willing to sacrifice? What am I willing to give to my future teammates and program?

It is no secret that there are different levels for different skill-sets. However, what isn’t discussed much if that there are also different levels for different work ethics. Motivational speaker, Eric Thomas, says, Don’t let your talent take you somewhere your character can’t keep you. This rings true for college athletics. Coming out of high school, I would say that I was an average player and athlete with exceptional leadership/communication skills and work ethic. It also helped that I was ultra competitive. Everyday I woke up, I was determined to get better at something, no matter how minute it seemed to outsiders. Because of my blue collar approach, I was fortunate enough to play for four years in one of the best conferences in women’s basketball.

Yes, college basketball can be fun, but never forget that it is a business first. You, the player, can determine what type of food your coaches are eating at the end of the day. Without performance and production, your coaches lose money and opportunities, so what makes you feel as if they are willing to accept mediocrity in any dimension of college basketball? Too many times, talented players are left behind and buried in the bench because they are not willing to work and improve certain aspects of their game that will benefit the team the most. Those same talented players make amends by transferring to schools that do not take college women’s basketball serious. Need I mention that they are wildly successful at those levels? Save yourself the trouble of transferring by being honest with YOU. Talent can only get you so far. Work ethic keeps you there.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Fever, Sky prevail in first preseason games

In the very first day of WNBA preseason action, the Indiana Fever beat the Dallas Wings, 108-90 and the Chicago Sky downed the New York Liberty, 93-59.

The box scores are telling.

For Indiana, rookies Tiffany Mitchell (14 points), Brene Mosely (15) and Erica Wheeler (14) showed up, as did second and third-year players Natalie Achonwa, Maggie Lucas and Asia Taylor. Layshia Clarendon will have to up her production to keep her spot.

On the Dallas side, Aerial Powers (17) points showed why she was a high draft pick, and fellow rookie Ruth Hamblin (9) made a respectable showing.

Box score.

Rookie Imani Boyette held her own for Chicago, with 10 points.

Newcomer Adut Bulgak showed out for New York with 17 points.

Box score.

Once again: was this a deep and talented draft class, or what? Some of these rookies will push older players out of a spot. It has already happened in San Antonio with the release of Danielle Adams.

Olympics news:

Diana Taurasi wants her fourth Olympics to feel like her first one.

Wanted: spice in the WNBA

The WNBA is in a pretty good place on the grocery list at the moment.

Top-notch players - check

Good coaches - check

Supportive cities - check

A fully-competent and engaged league president - check

However, I am missing two big missing ingredients:

Major rivalries


Let's discuss major rivalries first.......

Back in the early days of the WNBA, it was the Los Angeles Sparks vs. Everybody Else. The Sparks had Lisa Leslie, Mwadi Mabika, Delisha Milton (feisty version), Latasha Byears and Tamecka Dixon. They were a great team, and they were everyone loathed them to death. When they came to your town, you were prepared to heckle.

A few years later it was the Detroit "Bad Girls" Shock that everyone hated, because they'd taken a few lessons from their former "Bad Boy" coach Bill Laimbeer, of Detroit Pistons fame. There was a "Bad Girls" poster; in 2008 there was an on-court brawl between the Sparks and Shock that was legendary.

Then there are the villains.......

Leslie was the villain for many years. She is one of the game's greatest players, but her - shall we say - belief in herself didn't endear her to too many outside of the Los Angeles area. Then she retired in 2009, leaving the villain landscape relatively empty, except for.....

Diana Taurasi. Her swaggering, cursing, court-spitting demeanor turns off a lot of people, and she's been the closest thing to a bad girl since Leslie left the scene. But her taking last year off made for a pretty bland year on the court. The Mercury weren't their usual throw-the-opponent-to-the-ground selves.

We need some more hate to love. C'mon now.

Cleveland's hate for LeBron James and the entire country's rejoicing at the fall of the Lakers is FUN stuff. It spices things up. Rivalries are what sports are all about. It's why, almost a decade later, college fans are still whining for a Tennessee-UConn game.

I need some WNBA rivalries and villains to show up this year. Throw some cayenne pepper into the pot. It's all we're missing right now.

WNBA president Lisa Borders leads with a vision and a plan

I really dig this new WNBA president. She's got her priorities right.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Kelsey Bone speaks on Candace Parker omission

Connecticut Sun center Kelsey Bone says USA Basketball's omission of Candace Parker from the Olympic Team is due to a "personality conflict" between her and coach Geno Auriemma:

"Women's basketball and life in general is political. It's about who you know. I get it. Great. Fine. Dandy," Bone was saying Thursday at Mohegan Sun Arena. "But when you are talking about a player like Candace Parker and what she's done for women's basketball, the attention she's brought to the game and the resume she has, you'd be hard pressed to find a reason not to put her on the Olympic team.".....

"There is a personality conflict," Bone said. "But they are there for a month. They're not going be together for a whole season. (Auriemma) isn't going to coach her for the next 10 years of her career. We're trying to win a gold medal for a couple of weeks. But, yes, I do think there's a personality conflict."

Now comes Bone's true bone of contention: Why do personality conflicts appear to affect women's basketball more than men's basketball? As Auriemma has said many times: Women's basketball's biggest issue is that everyone has to be lovey-dovey all the time.

"In my opinion, in my small little bubble, it's a part of what's hindering our game from making the jump to mainstream. It's not always about who's the best player. It's not always about who plays the best basketball. A lot of times it's about who likes you and who doesn't. And that's only with women," Bone said.

"DeMarcus Cousins is the best post player in the (NBA) right now. His attitude is not always the best. But I think he might be in Rio. It's about putting the best players on the floor to win. We're going to win regardless. The rest of the world is afraid of us. When they see those three letters across our chest, there's a dominance that goes with being on Team USA.

"But the message you send to other young players is that you can work your ass off your whole career and if somebody doesn't like you, it means nothing. When (Auriemma) has had his issues with other coaches, he has said 'we don't have to all be friends. We don't have to all sing 'Kumbaya.' Which is true. At the end of the day, we're talking about adults. No one is going to the Olympics with USA Basketball and just be an ass.

"Candace does have a very big personality. But at the end of the day, why is it only in the women's game does that matter? You can say it's her reputation. You can say a lot of things. But all of those things have been there. There's not anything new that wasn't there in 2012 when she was the MVP in London."

WNBA preseason starts tomorrow



Dallas Wings at Indiana Fever, 1 p.m. EDT

New York Liberty at Chicago Sky, 2 p.m. EDT

Not too many transactions have gone down so far since training camp opening day because most core and veteran players are still overseas with their teams, and aren't in training camp yet. As we see more return, and as preseason games begin, there will be more cuts and additions.

WNBA team news:

The Dream are banking on a new center combination.

WNBA player news:

Tamika Catchings blogs about her last first day of training camp.

Elena Delle Donne is relishing her Delaware homecoming this weekend with the Sky.

Q&A with Sun forward Kelsey Bone.

Adut Bulgak overcame many obstacles to reach the Liberty. She is a former Sudanese refugee.

The wait is over for the Mercury's Isabelle Harrison.

Rachel Banham has joined Connecticut with a shooter's mentality.

Storm guard Jewell Loyd aims to play without fear in her second season.

Fever guard Briann January is almost ready for battle.

Kelly Faris has more in mind with the Sun.

Mercury draftee Jillian Alleyne and her former college coach discuss the draft.

College player news:

Center Azura Stevens has transferred to UConn. She was Duke's leading scorer and rebounder this past season.

College coach news:

Ex-Loyola players say coach Sheryl Swoopes' coaching methods are behind the mass transfers of this spring.

Tennessee coach Holly Warlick wants her team to have a more consistent work ethic.

Sparks coach Agler: “You’ve got to make basketball decisions based on basketball”

Sparks coach Brian Agler had some words today about Candace Parker's Olympic Team snub.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Like the sands through the hour glass........

WNBA team news:

The Mystics are waiting for more than half of their team to arrive home from overseas.

A new coach, a returning superstar and quality draft picks give the Sun a shiny new outlook.

WNBA player news:

Crystal Langhorne welcomes fellow post player Breanna Stewart to the Storm.

Stewart embraces the pressure to elevate the Storm.

Chiney Ogwumike came to the rescue when a reporter ripped his pants during Sun media day.

Connecticut rookie Rachel Banham has the green light in camp.

League news:

How the WNBA can succeed in North Texas.

First training camp cuts:

April 29, 2016

Team Player Transaction

Atlanta Roy, Tina Waived
Atlanta Thompson, Amanda Waived
San Antonio Martin, Brittney Waived
San Antonio Adams, Danielle Waived

Olympics news:

Best players who never made the Olympics.

College team/program news:

Valparaiso is extra-motivated after the departure of a key player.

Former Tar Heel Erlana Larkins says the NCAA's allegations against North Carolina are bogus.

College player news:

Guard Jasmine Cincore has decided to remain at Nebraska.

Brandi Harvey-Carr and Elri Liebenberg will transfer from DePaul.

College coach news:

Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly spoke today about the lawsuit filed against him by former player Nikki Moody, and said he wouldn't change anything about their relationship.

Fennelly isn't interested in settling the lawsuit.

Could South Carolina assistant coach Nikki McCray-Penson take the Vanderbilt job? It's up to the search committee.

Kentucky's athletic director is confident that coach Matthew Mitchell will get the program back on track.

State of the game:

One writer says there is too much drama in women's basketball. The bottom line, she says, is that the game is growing; these are the growing pains. I agree.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Another day in basketball paradise

WNBA team news:

The Liberty is optimistic it can continue its recent success.

Promise is on the horizon for the Sun.

WNBA player news:

Finally healthy, Storm guard Monica Wright is eager to begin her first season with her new team.

Sun rookie Jonquel Jones' long road to the WNBA.

Rookie teammate Jamie Weisner should prove to be one tough cookie.

A third Sun rookie, Morgan Tuck, already has a pro pedigree. She was thrilled to remain in Connecticut.

Transactions today:

Team Player Transaction

Chicago Lyon, Maggie Waived
Connecticut Baker, Brandie Contract Signed
Dallas Baugh, Vicki Waived

Candace Parker omission discussion continues:

ESPN's Mechelle Voepel weighs in again: still trying to make sense of Parker exclusion.

Maria Cornelius sums up the issues nicely in this piece.

Other Olympic team news:

Angel McCoughtry's college coach, Jeff Walz, is impressed with her adaptability.

College team/program news:

Kentucky's AD discusses issues within the women's basketball program.

College player news:

The NCAA has approved a medical hardship waiver for Gonzaga's Elle Tinkle.

It's another busy summer for UConn's Kia Nurse.

College coach news:

Louisville coach Jeff Walz is excited about the Cardinals.

Louisiana Tech's new coach says the team can capitalize on their recent notoriety.

Texas' new assistant coach is Jamie Carey. How poetic is that?

Jim Foster's contract at Chattanooga has been extended through 2021-2022.

Virginia Tech coach Kenny Brooks has made staff additions.

New Mexico coach Mike Bradbury is bringing energy to the team's offense.

Vanderbilt is looking at coaching options with in-state ties.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

More "wow"s

What a week, and it's only Wednesday

WNBA team news:

The Dallas Wings want you to know they're not playing your mother's basketball.

WNBA player news:

Mystics guard Kara Lawson will sit out the first half of the season, and may retire.

Kelsey Minato is on leave from the Army while she tries out for the San Antonio Stars.

The Sky's Cheyenne Parker discusses the offseason and this season.

Elizabeth Williams and Bria Holmes are turning heads at Dream camp.

WNBA transactions:

April 27, 2016

Team Player Transaction

New York Lacy, Jennifer Contract Signed
Seattle Whyte, Davellyn Waived
Atlanta Braxton, Kara Waived
New York Tarakchian, Annie Waived
New York Ballard, Danielle Waived

College player news:

Why are so many leaving Kentucky?

Iowa transfer Whitney Jennings has landed at Butler.

Former Clemson post player Justice Wright has transferred to Auburn.

Evansville guards Camille Coleman and Taloni Reese are transferring.

College coach news:

Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell takes the responsibility for the upheaval in the program.

Mitchell Q&A.

SMU coach Travis Mays has announced his coaching staff.

Geno Auriemma had been suffering from the flu and a bronchial infection when he was hospitalized after the Final Four earlier this month.

Camryn Whitaker said it was best she moved on from Kentucky's staff.

Olympics news:

Opals' coach Brendan Joyce believes Liz Cambage can deliver for Australia at the games.

He also says Candace Parker is one of the world's top three players. DUH.