| ||You asked for it, so here it is... the Official WNBA.com Blog. "In Other News..." will be your one-stop source for all WNBA-related info and activities taking place throughout the season. From game reactions on the court to player appearances, free agency and trade rumors and college prospect tracking and anything else that falls through the net, the Blog will be updated regularly with news, links and photos. All you have to do is keep coming back to get your fill and stay in the loop. | NBA.com Blog Squad|
Becky Hammon's half-court buzzer beater was the number one play on Top Ten Plays on ESPN's Sportscenter this morning. In case you missed it there, it will be running allllll morning long. Or you can watch it on WNBA.com anytime you like.
In Other News... Last night on ESPN's "Quite Frankly," host Stephen A. Smith dedicated nearly the entire show to the growth of the WNBA. His guests included Cynthia Cooper, Bill Laimbeer, Rebecca Lobo and former President Val Ackerman.
Things seen and heard on ESPN2 tonight during the WNBA 10th Anniversary Special
and the first half of the ESPN2 doubleheader between the Indiana Fever and New
During the WNBA 10th Anniversary Special
Teresa Weatherspoon: "This is the first time I actually got to talk about this shot with Cynthia Cooper."
Cynthia Cooper: "Our dynasty was great for sports and great for the WNBA... we went global."
Cooper: "The WNBA allows females, girls, to dream about being professional athletes. Sports helped me come out of my shell and help me become the woman I am today."
Pam Ward - "Vote early, vote often for the All-Decade team at WNBA.com."
Ann Meyers' All-Decade Team: Cynthia Cooper, Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes, Lauren Jackson, Yolanda Griffith. The next group include Tamika Catchings, Teresa Weatherspoon and Tina Thompson.
Doris Burke's All-Decade Team: Cynthia Cooper, Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes, Lauren Jackson, Tina Thompson.
Nancy Lieberman's All-Decade Team: Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes, Lisa Leslie, Lauren Jackson, Katie Smith. Smith could play the point guard, she could play the five spot.
Law and Order's Christopher Meloni: "Happy Anniversary, WNBA. Uou're beautiful."
Nancy Lieberman's "Next Ten:" Alana Beard, Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, Seimone Augustus, Sophia Young, Becky Hammon."
New York Liberty at Indiana Fever
Ann Meyers: "Tamika Catchings will start tonight."
Meyers: "Indiana's numbers have gone up because of the players they brought in."
Meyers: "Shameka Christon was the one player everyone said had to step up for New York this season, and she has stepped up."
Meyers: "It's not how big you are, it's how big you play."
ESPN's Todd Harris. "Anna DeForge hits the three, and that is exactly why they went out and got her."
Meyers: "Loree Moore got the start for New York, which takes off the pressure of Beky Hammon. Moore has to take control of the team."
ESPN's Tina Dixon: "Catchings has a mild arch sprain. She was taking it easy in practice and stood shooting in a walking cast. She will wear special orthotics for the game that limit her cutting the most."
Meyers: "Tamika Catchings reminds me of a racehorse. You put those blinders on and she comes out of the gate hard. She does not stop, she does not let up. If you want to see a player who plays consistently n ight in and night out give all of her effot, come watch Tamika Catchings."
Harris: "Catchings is the Cal Ripken of a WNBA."
Meyers: "If New York can rebound out of their zone, they can push the ball up."
Harris: "Tan White loves to go to the hole."
Meyers: "Deforge gives Indiana more size, stronger, a bit physical."
Harris: "Shameka Christon's injury has gotten better."
Harris: "Ebony Hoffman came back into the game and picked up her third foul. This is not good for the Fever front line."
Meyers: "Tamika Whitmore feels at home here in Indiana."
Meyers: "New York is a young team that has not played a lot together."
Harris: "New York just looks out of synch."
Meyers: "Indiana is making New York put the ball on the floor."
Harris: "Catchings has not yet scored, and Indiana is still up 12 points."
Meyers: " New York needs to get more people to the free throw line."
Harris: Tamika Whitmore - everything she puts up seems to be going in. Tamika and Tamika. That is a deadly duo."
Commercial voiceover: "Heart of the Game starts on June 9 in select cities."
Harris: "The Fever should feel good about their start. In four of the last five seasons, the team which was the last to lose a regular season game did no worse than reach the WNBA Finals. In three of those cases, the team won a WNBA title that season."
Meyers: "Chamique Holdclaw is still not with the L.A. Sparks... You have wonder about team chemistry when players come late."
Shameka Christon: "That's $50 right there," to Becky Hammon after Hammon buried ahalfcourt shot at the buzzer before halftime.
Indiana's Tamika Whitmore: "All training camp long, all we've done together is laugh and have fun. and it's showing," after the first half of the game.
Whitmore: "We can't play not to lose. we have to play to send a message to everyone."
Lieberman: "I was the oldest rookie in the history of the WNBA back in 1996-97."
Weatherspoon: The All-Decade Team is actually ten players. Some of you left off playmakers." Her picks: Cooper, Thompson, Swoopes, Leslie, Weatherspoon," during the halftime show.
Cooper's All-Decade picks: Teresa Weatherspoon, Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes, Tina Thompson and Lisa Leslie.
Bono: "It's a beautiful daaaaaaay!" during a FIFA World Cup commercial.
Harris: "You gotta be kidding me," after a Becky Hammon desperation 3-pointer as the shot clock expired and cut the Fever lead to ten points. "Becky Hammon is on fire."
Meyers: "You see the guns on her?" about Catchings.
Harris: "What was 20 is now nine. The Liberty have taken the advice of Annie Meyers and are chipping away at the lead."
Meyers: "Holdsclaw got back into camp last night and practiced with the Sparks today."
Dixon: "Linda Frohlich is considered the best female player in Germany. She played with Dirk Nowitzki's sister, Silke, on the German National Team."
Harris: "The Indiana fans are on their feet and for very good reason. They team is up 17 points with just under three minutes to play."
Meyers: "Too early to say Brian Winters for Coach of the Year?"
...And now it's time to relax and enjoy the Sky and the Sparks and give the computer and these tired fingers a rest...
Happy Memorial Day Weekend! If the start of the WNBA season did not make you feel like summer is here, then this weekend definitely should.Around the WNBA this weekend, Monarchs coach John Whisenant was in Las Vegas to interview for Kings coaching job. The Sacramento Bee's Ailene Voisin says that there is no better choice than Coach John Whisenant for the Kings. On ESPN.com, our own Nancy Lieberman shares her observations around the league from the first week. In an interview with the Hartford Courant's Lori Reilly, NBA Commissioner David Stern talked about the past, present and future of the WNBA. Let's not forget that it was Stern who planted the WNBA seed and is watching it grow.
In recent action, the Detroit Shock and Washington Mystics won on Saturday to join the growing group of teams with a 2-1 record. The Indiana Fever are the only unbeaten team in the league at 3-0, but seven teams are just a game back for the best overall record. The Shock renewed their great rivalry with the Connecticut Sun and held a six point lead as late as nine minutes into the final quarter. But it is not how you start, it is how you finish. Katie Smith tied the game at the end of regulation with a wild 3-pointer, and the Shock were too tough and took control in overtime to to eclipse the Sun. Swin Cash has her bounce back for Detroit and Sun rookie guard Erin Phillips' has been clutch getting more minutes with Lindsay Whalen recovering from an injury. And while the players may play down the rivalry, Round One goes to the Shock.
The Washington Mystics bounced back fro, their first loss of the season, to the Charlotte Sting, on Thursday with a 90-75 home-opening win over the Minnesota Lynx. The Mystics have put up 90 and 95 points in their two wins. Free agent signee LaTasha Byears showed the new-look Mystics what a difference a player can make. With 20 points and 14 rebounds, Byears has made an instant impact. The Mystics wanted to limit their turnovers against the Lynx on Saturday, and did just that. Alana Beard finished with a game-high 25 points, but had only one turnover. The Lynx are now 0-3, but with a 23-point performance, Lynx rookie guard Seimone Augustus continues to be a center of attention.
On Friday night, the aforementioned Indiana Fever won
their third game of the season in their first visit to Chicago. In front of
hometown audience, Tamika Catchings and the Fever were too
hot for the Sky on Friday night to go to 3-0 and the All-Star forward savored
her pro homecoming.
One of Catchings' former teammates at the University of Tennessee, Sparks forward Chamique Holdclaw, is not as fortunate. Holdsclaw has missed three games and has no return date, but the L.A. Times' Mike Terry reports that her absence is still not a concern and the Sparks say they aren't worried. Of course not, not with the way that Lisa Leslie has been playing. Averaging 25.3 ppg and 12.3 rpg, Leslie led the Sparks to its second straight win on the road in San Antonio on Thursday night.
are one of four teams atop the Western Conference standings with that popular
2-1 record. These are the four teams that represented the West in the 2005 playoffs.
A great 1-2 punch on the road has the Houston
Comets on the rise. On Thursday night, a Swoopes-led Comets toppled
the Monarchs for Sacramento's first loss of the season. Another veteran, guard
Dawn Staley, is enjoying
her final year playing in WNBA. Staley will be a
sought-after WNBA head coach someday after she retires. For now, the Comets are content as the underdogs until the playoffs come around. Led
by a sizzling Jackson, the Seattle Storm also kept
pace in the West with a big win over the Mercury in Phoenix on Thursday night.
The Mercury's offense
disappeared on Thursday night in the loss, but injuries
played a part. So did the return of Seattle center Janell
Burse, who is back with the team after a preseason injury. To bolster the
Storm center, Seattle also acquired
6-foot-5 Cisti Greenwalt.
With games resuming on Tuesday, look for things to space themselves out a bit more in the standings column.
In one of the best games I've seen so far this season, Detroit and Connecticut put on a show at the Mohegan Sun Arena. After Katie Smith paced the Shock to an early lead, the teams went back and forth in the final quarter. Down three with seconds to go, Smith put up a desperation three and hit it with :01.5 on the clock. With a much taller Taj McWilliams-guarding her on the perimeter, Smith stepped back and created just enough space to get the shot off. However, if she did not have that unconvenetional side-swipe jump shot style which she has made famous, there is no way she would have gotten it off.
Smith may be playing the point this year for Detroit, a position she has never played before. But make no mistake about it. Smith is a scorer and a shooter. Her shot works and that is why she is the all-time leading scorer in North American women's professional basketball history. That shot sent the game to overtime and Detroit ultimately prevailed for a big 77-73 road win. Smith led all players with 23 points and eight assists.
In Other News... Thanks to Doris Burke for the shout out during the game. Much appreciated. I now have to live up to that heroic billing... though I'm in some serious competition with Doris for MVB: Most Valuable Blogger...
Often times, we get emails or questions not for players or coaches, but just general questions. We used to ignore them. Ok, not really, but there was no way to answer them all. This season, we will answer some... And if you have questions for the Editor, send them our way... If I can answer it, I will. Even if I can't, I probably will...
Q. Matt Wurst- Thanks for the great article on
6 hrs of great basketball viewing. We were right there with you but flipping between
channels as the Monarchs were on Comcast in Sacramento!
Question: Why is it not on the wnba site that Yo Griffith is "hanging up her shoes" at the end of this season? I read it in a Chicago paper on Sunday--NOT in a Sac paper though--and she "officially" verified on 1140 radio broadcast last night with Krista & Koz. BIG NEWS!!! We will be heartbroken to see our queen go :(
Well, Den-Den, glad you were able to keep up. Between working the remote and typing, I had to give my hands the day off on Wednesday. As far as Yolanda's announcement, this is the first I'm hearing of it. I'm really disappointed that neither Krista nor Koz called me personally to share their scoop. I will look to the Monarchs to handle that, though rest assured, if it is Yo's last go-around, the local and national media will pick up on it. She has been too good for too long.
Q. Will Seimone be able to play like she did when she was at L.S
U. . She was so good and new how to handle herself. I wish her all the best in
the world. Well she be practicing harder now that she in the WNBA. She is just
an outstanding player. I know that Sue Gunter is smiling from up above. And Pokey
should also be proud has they train her correctly. My best to her and I know you
will have a winning season if not this year, next year for sure.
Well, Bess, I truly believe that Seimone will be a superstar. She showed it in her first two games of the season, scoring in a number of ways with top-tier defenders matched up against her. She's not as flashy as Diana Taurasi, but her impact will be just as pervasive. I can't wait to watch her develop and get even better. Do I expect the Lynx to have a winning season? Not quite yet, and that might frustrate a player used to winning, but you are right, I think next year is the year they make the playoffs. People have also asked whether or not she will be an All-Star this season. I think that's going to be tough... she won't be voted on ahead of Taurasi and Bird as the West starting guards, and it would take a really great first half for Coach John Whisenant to pick a rookie over a veteran if both are equally deserving.
Q. I was very impressed with Ambrosia Anderson's college play as I watched
her this past season at BYU and in the NCAA tournament. Now she is in her rookie
year, recently traded to the Suns. She has some amazing moves, quickness, and
good sense of the court. I keep checking the web site but nothing yet on her other
than the bio. I would love to see a current photo of her in her uniform and or
perhaps any info you might have on her besides the bio on the Sun's home page.
Good luck to Ambrosia and to all the players in the WNBA! We don't get many games
but we do watch them whenever they are broadcast in our area. Thanks !
You know, Annie, that Ambrosia Anderson was a latecomer to the Sun during the preseason. She was cut by the Lynx, then signed by the Sun as the season neared. She did not get the full benefit of working with her new team and was ultimately placed on the inactive list. One of the changes this season was the move to an inactive list from an injured list. Now teams can switch their lineups on a daily basis instead of finding an injury to list when moving a player off the active roster (not that they weren't always injured, because they were). I enjoyed talking with her at pre-Draft camp in Boston. Once Anderson settles in Connecticut, I'm sure you will see more features and profiles on her, as well as photos.
Hi, My name is Tanya. I am doing an essay in english about women professional
basketball players not getting enough new media attention. It seems as if the
men are the one getting all the attention why is that?
Well Tanya, the WNBA is still a relatively young league when you compare it with the male professional sports leagues that have been around. We are in our 10th season while the NBA celebrates its 60th anniversary. I can tell you that more people watch the WNBA and read stories in newspapers about WNBA games and players in our tenth season than they did when the NBA, NFL and MLB were in their tenth year. As far as women's professional sports coverage, there is less of it because there are fewer professional leagues and athletes. But as the WNBA grows in the social sonsciousness, it will continue to make headway in coverage. Women's professional tennis has really been the only sport with a rooted history, and look how popular that has become. As far as new media goes, the web has enough space out there for women's sports. WNBA.com is not the only place you can find information about our league (though it is the best). There are fan forums and message boards, national coverage from places like ESPN.com and USA Today. There are also daily features and stories in local newspapers around the nation. And if you really want to impress that English teacher of yours, throw in some stats... on Draft Day, WNBA.com had more than 1.6 million visits. I am also available for guest lectures and school assemblies. Let me know if you are interested...
Q. What's up. This
T.J. from Memphis. What do you like about the new rules that have been passed?
How about the change from only 2 twenty minutes halves to 4 10 minutes quarters.
Is this a good thing or bad thing?
What up, TJ. New rules... I love them. Teams have increased the pace of the game and there is more scoring. With the four quarters, the flow of the game works better. I thought there might be some shot clock violations or bad shots as the buzzer winds down, but I haven't really seen too much of that. After all, teams got their plays off in an average of 17 seconds last year, and that has not changed. And for someone who goes to a lot of games like I do, it gives me ample time for visits to the restroom.
Can you help me with this? Hey, hitting the gym but not getting the outcome you've
been expecting? I am, but things changed when I glanced at these
Sorry, Spam King, I cannot help you with this.However, to answer your other question, I really have not been getting to the gym as much as I would like lately. You know, busy time of year. Wilfredo, don't you know that with WNBA and NBA games every night, there is no time for recreational activity? Are you saying that Human Growth Hormone is the answer? No thanks, I'm good.
How old are you? You watch the Real World!!??
Ummmm, yes? Actually, I watch anything and everything that I can on television. Whether at work or at home, I cannot function without a television on in the background... Now I love my NBA TV and sports, of course, but I'll watch the Today Show and Ellen in the mornings, Jerry Springer and soap operas in the afternoon and all of the primetime hits I can... I can't wait to see if Jack Bauer knows how to use chop sticks, how Ryan copes without Marissa and if Tony has had enough of Phil Leotardo. As for R.W., while I acknowledge that this current season in Key West has been a bit underwhelming, there are still entertaining moments. I mean, is there anything better than watching seven people mismanage a tanning salon? Plus, it's hard not to stick with a show you grew up watching, kind of like visiting an elderly relative on the weekends even when you'd rather be out doing just about anything else. Even those Gauntlets and Battles of the Sexes have sustained my interest through the years. That said, I do consider myself much more a fan of the newer shows... Hillary Duff's Laguna Beach theme song is still my cell phone ring and I cannot wait for L.C.'s new show to debut. In response to my age, I'll just say that I was too young to remember Donna Orender, the player (though I was alive in her hey day).
With the WNBA's 10th Anniversary season now underway, the Hartford Courant looks at some of the changes helping WNBA grow strong while Mechelle Voepel gets nostalgic while looking back on how things were in 1997. Looking ahead, the Star-Tribune gives you the 10 things to know about the WNBA this season. How many did you know? Hopefully all, by now. At the very least, you should know that the new rules are firmly entrenched and scoring has increased as a result.
On Tuesday, USA Basketball announced the core roster for its 2006 World Championship squad. Seattle’s Sue Bird was invited to join, as was Diana Taurasi and Tamika Catchings. Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes are the three-time Olympic gold medalists back to anchor the team while the group is rounded out by Katie Smith, DeLisha Milton-Jones and Tina Thompson.
After the announcement of the team in Seattle, the Storm and the Comets met on the court. The Comets were coming off a bad opening night loss at home and in search of answers and focused on defense. The Storm were hoping Bird would be more aggressive, on offense and defense, which she was. However, unlike the Storm's impressive opening win, where Wendy Palmer had a superb game, the Comets rebounded to throttle the Storm. It might not have been possible without the last minute addition of Kayte Christensen, who answered the call to boost the Comets. The Storm got very little out of star forward Lauren Jackson. The rout evoked bitter memories from last season's playoff series.
The Liberty were looking to bounce back from an openind day loss to Connecticut, but were crushed in Washington and the new-look Mystics. Alana Beard led the way with 25 points. For, hard work comes with the territory.
Heading into Tuesday's opener with the Sun, the youthful Minnesota Lynx hoped to set quickened pace. For three quarters, they did just that. Relying on rookie Augustus, whose road to pro basketball began with a thorough grounding at home in all the fundamentals, the LYnx hung tight with the Connecticut Sun before falling in the fourth quarter. Augustus debuted with 21 points, but the Lynx could not handle the Sun. The Connecticut backcourt got the job done, especially 20-year old Australian guard Erin Phillips, who has been stellar for the Sun, living up to hype and playing more minutes with Lindsay Whalen still recovering from her offseason ankle surgery. Whalen still started in Minnesota, where she is still a hero to many.
The Detroit Shock came into the season with great expectation, but lost the opener in Indiana and was dominated at the free-throw line. They followed that up with their first win of the season over the Lynx on Wednesday, 78-69. With all five starters scoring in double figures, the Shock firepower was too much for the Lynx. Not helping was the fact that Augustus sprained her ankle in the first half, though she did return for the second half.
Behind masterful performances by their rookies in the opener, the San Antonio Silver Stars went on the road and beat the Houston Comets. Guard Shanna Zolman has taken her game to the next level, but the team did now want to rest on the laurels of 1-0 start. Yet, they were stymied by the Indiana Fever on Tuesday night. Offensive struggles doomed the Silver Stars, or was it that the Fever defense shuts down Silver Stars. Either way, San Antonio managed only 53 points.
Chicago Sky opened up at home with a 1-0 record after a great win in Charlotte
on Saturday. Tuesday would prove to be a different story as the defending champion
Monarchs gave the expansion team a bit
of an education. Nicole
Powell led the Monarchs over Chicago, who were the queens
in the Sky's home opener. Regardless, optimism
is sky high and both the new
players and new
coach are making themselves at home in the electric
atmosphere. A Daily Herald writer asks, will
the Sky stick? The Sky
is the limit.
By the way, don't tell Lisa Leslie she can't do something. After losing the opener to the Storm, Leslie and Sparks were looking to even the score (and their record) in Charlotte on Tuesday and did just that. A late spurt, or a finishing kick, gave the sparks a road victory over the Sting. Leslie had a monster game with 27 and 16, but fouled out in the final minutes of the game, meaning the reserves had to step up. Jessica Moore's driving layup with 43 seconds left put Los Angeles in front and the Sparks are now 1-1. If anything, the game showed that the Sting defense needs work and that Monique Currie has a game well-suited for the WNBA.
Looking ahead to Thursday night's games, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer suggests that the Mercury will rise in Phoenix tonight, but injuries have slowed the Mercury's transition to its new offense. Chamique Holdsclaw could miss her third straight game for the Sparks tonight in San Antonio. Both teams are 1-1, but this could be a good test for San Antonio's young squad. The Washington Mystics seek the first 2-0 start in the franchise's nine-year history when they travel to Charlotte to face the Sting (0-2) tonight at 7 p.m. ET.
If you are a basketball fan, tonight is the kind of night that makes you salivate. Six hours of amazingness on television and the web beginning now. It is now 6:48 p.m. ET) and we have a busy night ahead... Six WNBA games (four of which we can watch), the NBA Draft Lottery, Game One of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals between the Miami Heat and Detroit Pistons, not to mention the finale performance of American Idol. Talk about drama... Seimone and Lindsay, Becky and Alana, Tina and Lauren, Shaq and Ben, Katharine and Taylor... Okay, I conceded that this is only the most dramatic night of television since Marissa Cooper died in Ryan's arms last week on "The O.C.," but I cannot complain. And with two televisions and two computers ready to go - I feel like I'm in the Matrix. Had I done this at home, I could justify submitting my monthly $137 cable bill (sports and movie package as well as high speed internet connection), but then I might miss some of the fun.
Working schedule for the night:
* All times Eastern
at the Mystics at 7 p.m. on MSG (local).|
-NBA Draft Lottery at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN.
-Monarchs at the Sky at 8 p.m. on WNBA.com webcast.
-Heat at the Pistons at 8 p.m. on ESPN.
-American Idol at 8 p.m.
-Sun at the Lynx at 9 p.m. on ESPN2.
-Comet at the Storm at 11 p.m., also on ESPN2.
7:00 (MSG): ...And we're off and running. This could end up being the longest Blog entry in history, a running tab of the night's events. I'm actually scared of what might happen here. In a good way. This is the slowest it will be until around 11 o'clock or so. So the new and improved Mystics are the 13th team to play a WNBA game this season. I'm looking forward to seeing how Alana Beard works with Nikki Teasley in the backcourt and how this team gels under Richie Adubato.
7:03 (MSG): In an interview on the court with Barbara Farris, she admits, "We didn't do as well as we wanted to in the paint (against Connecticut). We need to be more dominant this game. We will make their posts work harder for their shots and make them play defense."
7:08 (MSG): Tip-off in Washington . Weird. Crystal Robinson in a Mystics uniform. Almost as weird as me in slacks and a tucked-in shirt. Starting along with Melvin, Milton-Jones, Beard and Teasley. Liberty control, let the shot clock go all the way down and rush a shot... Alana Beard goes down and scores the other way. Wait, was that a replay? Beard coast-to-coast again?
7:12 (MSG): The Liberty have five turnovers in less than three minutes. 11-0 Mystics after Crystal Robinson scores for the first time against her former team and DeLisha Milton-Jones hits a three. This is where I'd call a time out. Or change the channel.
7:17 (MSG): Shameka Christon hits a 3-pointer and the Liberty are finally on the board... Christon enjoying a fine season so far in five quarters played. Though what happened the next time down the court? You guessed it, a New York Liberty shot clock violation.
7:20 (MSG): Nikki Teasley leads the break, a long pass to Alana Beard, who goes behind her back for the leave pass for Milton-Jones with a nice finish on the break for the Mystics. Wow! That was pretty! 22-3 Mystics and we've only played 6 minutes.
7:22 (WNBA.com): Opening up a webcast window on Chicago, we see drummers drumming, dancers dancing and more drummers drumming. 38 minutes til game time, and I heard minority Sky owner Michelle Williams is singing the anthem. That was Destined to happen. The Sky will be taking on the defending champion Sacramento Monarchs in their debut at the UIC Pavilion.
7:27 (MSG): LaTasha Byears fighting for a loose ball underneath for Mystics, muscling with Kelly Schumacher and winning a jump ball. Isn't that why they signed her?
7:28 (WNBA.com): And they're still drumming in Chicago... Must... find... volume... button...
7:29 (MSG): End of the first quarter in Washington, and the score is 27-8 in favor of the hosts. Beard has 11, Milton-Jones has 10 points, both are a combined 9-10 from the floor. Yikes.
7:29 (WNBA.com): We're onto crowd pan shots in Chicago. I think I just saw former NBA.com "Buzz" writer Brad Barnett in the crowd.
7:30 (ESPN): The annual NBA Draft Lottery is at hand, though I'm never sure why this is compelling television. I've sat in on the WNBA Draft Lottery process and it really is just picking numbered ping pong ball out of a special lottery machine. But here are representatives from NBA teams sitting just downstairs from me in the NBAE Studios here in Secaucus, N.J. Fourteen NBA teams vie for the top pick.
7:33 (WNBA.com): Looks like we have some lay-up lines in Chicago. Yay! That's progress.
7:38 (ESPN); There seems to be no consensus over who will be the top pick come June in the NBA Draft, but the leading candidates are Tyrus Thomas, a power forward from L.S.U., LaMarcus Aldridge, a forward from Texas, Andrea Bargnani, a forward from Italy, or Adam Morrison, a forward from Gonzaga. If Thomas goes first, it will mark the first time that one school had the top pick in the WNBA and NBA Drafts. it nearly happened two years ago when Diana Taurasi came out of UConn first overall, but Emeka Okafor went second to the Charlotte Bobcats. We shall see.
7:40 (MSG): Call me crazy, but the Liberty are showing some signs of life now, yet still down 19... getting offensive rebounds... now down 16 after Becky Hammon gets on the board. Followed up by a sweet Nikki T cross-over and lay-in. Nice to see Nikki back and healthy after last season.
7:42 (ESPN and WNBA.com): NBA Commissioner David Stern just used the words resplendent and transcendent in one sentence in response to a Dan Patrick question about a rookie early entry age limit. In Chicago, the Sacramento Monarchs have unfurled some sort of pass and weave drill.
7:44: I'm getting hungry. Time to order food.
7:45 (MSG): Mystics back up 20 points.
7:49 (ESPN): Only four times in the last 21 years has the team with the worst record in the NBA won the Lottery... Not good news for the Portland Trailblazers. And now... for the results... four picks in and everything going according to the order. And as foreshadowed... the Trailblazers get the four pick. Three teams remaining and we'll have a change at the top.
7:52 (WNBA.com): At center court in Chicago, a nice celebration honoring the teams and ten-year histo-present of the WNBA (to the Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony," an instant memory-maker for any special event). Here comes Donna Orender... to present Sky owner Michael Alter and CEO Margaret Stender with an official WNBA ball and officially welcome them to the league.
7:54 (MSG): Christon not afraid to shoot it... New York Cathrine Kraayeveld just drew a third foul on DeLisha Milton-Jones. Byears is already out with three.
7:55 (ESPN): The Toronto Raptors just won the Draft Lottery. Congratulations, Toronto.
7:56 (MSG): Becky Hammon steals the ball, drives the length of the court and is fouled. Two free throws cut the lead to nine. Single digits with a minute to go in the half. Alana Beard goes the other way on her own to put the lead back up at 11.
7:58 (MSG): Beard just hit a 3 in the corner at the buzzer at the half. Alana Beard had 23 points in the first half. 10-10 from the field. She did not miss. What a half for the third-year All-Star. We knew to expect big things after a great offseason overseas, but what a sensational first half.
8:01 (WNBA.com): The Chicago Sky are off and running at home. Williams is singing the National Anthem and finishes out with a huge note. I wonder how Simon Cowell would rate that performance."
8:03 (WNBA.com): Player introductions in Chicago.
8:05: Contestant introductions on "American Idol," live from the Kodak Theater in Hollywood. Taylor Hicks or Katharine McPhee? I really liked Chris Daughtry and Katharine to make the Finals, though I never voted, so I have no gripe. My lady's parents are voting for Taylor tonight, she tells me. Her dad voted 25 times last week. Her mom says she loves him. "He's like a reincarnated Elvis."
8:10 (WNBA.com): Sky and Monarchs tip it off... the first ever webcast of a Sky game and we're working nicely. Nicole Powell opens up the scoring, but Elaine Powell answers right back. The Sky won their opener, but face a much tougher test with the defending champions. The Sky are quick to loose balls, rebounding and riding the energy from the crowd.
8:11: Katharine opens up the show with a safe, but upbeat number. Randy says she was having fun and Simon calls it good with a small 'g.' Taylor responds wearing a pink, velvet jacket sure to get the mom vote. Simon gives Round One to Taylor.
8:13 (WNBA.com): The scoring pace is not quite as fast in the early going for the Sky and Monarchs. 4-4 more than four minutes into the game. Great to hear a Chicago accent calling a WNBA game.
8:16 (ESPN and WNBA.com): And with the Draft Lottery over, I've tuned in to the Eastern Conference Finals just in time to see the Heat and Pistons get off to a choppy start. Miami up 8-0 and the Detroit crowd is quieted. Ashley Robinson just hit a 3-pointer for Sky. Who knew she had that range? Monarchs up 10-7 at the time out.
8:19 (MSG and WNBA.com): Mystics up 17 after DeLisha Milton-Jones connects on two free throws, then draws an offensive foul down the other end. No wonder she was named to the core roster for the U.S. Senior National Team and the upcoming World Championships. Chicago native Yolanda Griffith muscles for a bucket and the Monarchs begin to extend a lead.
8:22 (MSG and WNBA.com) Alana Beard now 11-11 with 25 points. The lead for the Mystics is back up to 21. Candice Dupree hits a shot of her own as the Sky are within 3. Jia Perkins then stole the ball and leads to a Stacey Dales lay-up as the Sky are now within 1.
8:23: Chinese food. Mmmmm. Chicken and broccoli deliciousness. Katharine goes back to her staple, "Somewhere Over a Rainbow." No new songs tonight? This was her money song two weeks ago and vaulted her back as a favorite. Simon loved it.
8:28 (WNBA.com): Sacramento's Erin Buescher, coming off a career-high 18 points against the Mercury on Saturday and suffering a cut over her eye, comes back to hit a few shots down the stretch to end the first quarter. She has played well with a greater role off the bench. Score after 1: 19-11, Sacramento. We now have commercials on every network!
8:33 (MSG, ESPN, WNBA.com): The Mystics have a 26-point lead with 3 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter. Even the Mystics rookies are getting some time. Tamara James and Nikki Blue on the floor together. Yet, Shameka Christon keeps firing and hitting big shots. This one might not be in question anymore. Wow, I totally forgot that Chicago's Chelsea Newton is playing her former team. Newton started every game last season for Sacramento and won a title. She comes off the bench in Chicago, but has hit some shots already in the earlygoing and leads the team with 7 points thus far. 8 minutes into the NBA game, Dwayne Wade is 5-5 with 11 points as the Heat are up 22-13 over the Pistons. Was he watching Alana Beard before coming out tonight? She is my American Idol tonight. Taylor Hicks has something to say about that as he belts out his soulful second performance, though a little pitchy. Round Two: Katharine.
8:40 (WNBA.com, MSG): The Sacramento Monarchs have no visible flaws. Even with DeMya Walker out, Rebekkah Brunson is so strong and solid. The Monarchs are still up seven, maintaining their lead with five minutes to go in the opening half. In Washington, Becky Hammon is money from the foul line, but not having a typical Becky-like game. She only has seven points as the Mystics grow their lead towards 30.
8:45 (Fox, WNBA.com) For her final performance Katharine debuts a new single, though I'm not sure it really shows her vocal range. In Chicago, Stacey Lovelace is keeping the Sky in the game after a couple of field goals, but the Monarchs are up ten points. I am very impressed with the Sky, hanging tough with the champs. We know this is not a typical expansion team, and they will struggle at times, but this really is a decent squad I'm watching here.
8:50 (Fox, WNBA.com, MSG): Taylor Hicks comes out a bit timid for his final performance (which makes this a real battle now), Brooke Wyckoff just hit a 3 for the Sky, though the Monarchs are on the verge of pulling away at halftime (they're just too deep) and the Liberty will have trouble competing with the strong post teams (which is really most of the teams in the WNBA).
8:54 (WNBA.com): Elaine Powell hits a circus shot at the buzzer before halftime, 44-38, Sacramento.
8:57 (MSG): Shameka Christon comes out of the game with a little over 3 minutes to go as the score climbs to 89-54 in Washington. Can the Mystics score 100? That's really the only question left as the clock ticks down to 2:20 an the Liberty are on the verge of falling to 0-2. Shaq goes hard to the bucket and draws contact, sending him to the line, where he hits 1 of 2 yet again. The Heat are up three with 7 minutes to go in the first half
9:00 (ESPN2): The debut of Seimone Augustus at home against the defending Eastern Conference champion Connecticut Sun is here, but I'm watching soccer! At least it's nearly over.
9:05 (ESPN2): And we have basketball...In fact, three games going on right now. WNBA Tuesday on ESPN2 is also underway... a new era all around! Though Augustus missed her first shot We have three Lynx player making their first starts of the season... Augustus, Amber Jacobs and friend-of-the-blog Kristen Mann. Lindsay Whalen, who got a nice ovation in Minnesota, is starting again in the second game, though after starting on Saturday in the opener, the recovering point guard played only 17 minutes. And Whalen scores with a foul cutting hard to the hoop. 4-3 Lynx in the opening minutes.
9:08 (ESPN2, MSG): Augustus gets her first basket in the WNBA! Plus she already has two rebounds. Neither team uses the entire shot clock, at least not yet. Ohlde and Mann are scoring at a fast pace, up 17-10 in five minutes (that's a 7-0 run!). Slow down, ladies, I can't type this fast. And closing out in the capitol, the final score is 95-60, Mystics over the Liberty. Beard finishes with only two points in the second half. The Sun answer with a 6-0 run of their own.
9:13 (WNBA.com): Yolanda Griffith goes down holding her knee in Chicago, and she's still down, being attended to by the Monarchs staff. Among the toughest players in the league (as voted on by WNBA G.M.'s, you know she's in pain.
9:20 (ESPN2, WNBA.com): Erin Phillips hits two shots as the Sun take the lead for the first time with two minutes to go in the quarter. 11-3 run over the last three minutes. Tamika Williams is in the game for Minnesota, and is running the floor well. She just finished a layup on the break and drew a foul. 23-22, Sun. The Monarchs are up 12 in the Windy City. Hey, it's Donna Orender in Chicago talking about some highlights from the President's office: the class of rookies and how good they are and the rule changes. Hi, boss! Also, Yolanda Griffith is back in the game, so whatever was troubling her was obviously not too serious. Good news. Stacey Dales and Kara Lawson, broadcast partners during the NCAA season, are now facing off. Cool!
9:30 (ESPN, ESPN2, WNBA.com): Miami Heat up by four at the half, 48-44. Minnesota's Adrian Williams and Connecticut's Megan Mahoney exchange baskets as Jia Perkins and Kristin Haynie do the same a few hundred miles south in Chicago. Connecticut really is very deep. Probably the deepest team in the WNBA along with the Monarchs. Both teams have All-Star starters, but are not afraid to go four or five players into the rotation for quality time.
9:37 (ESPN2, WNBA.com): Connecticut up seven with five minutes to go in the second quarter, Sacramento up nine with a minute to go in the 3rd. You have to wonder if we're going to see these two again in the Finals? The way they have been playing so far this season, no one would be surprised. We've seen a 14 point swin in Connecticut's favor in the last ten minutes.
9:41 (ESPN2): Seimone goes baseline! She has five points on 2-6 from the field. And she hits again and she's fouled! 8 points now on back-to-back field goals. KEvin Garnett in the crowd, not even watching the Heat-Pistons game (now back from the half). But Sun guard Katie Douglas is shooting well. She already has 13 points. Douglas led the Euro League in scoring in the offseason.
9:45 (WNBA.com, ESPN2): Candice Dupree at the line for two shots makes it a nine point deficit again, then comes down and picks up her third foul at the other end. Nicole Ohlde scores her ninth and tenth points to cut the Sun lead to two with a minute to go in the half. After some quick math, the average of the Lynx team on the floor right now is 23.5. Megan Duffy is seeing action at the point and making things happen as fellow rookie point guard Shona Thorburn is still out with an injury.
9:47 (ESPN): ...and the Detroit Pistons take the lead...
9:50 (ESPN2, WNBA.com) Nancy Lieberman just called Seimone Augustus "stupid," though I think she meant it in a good way. Augustus has tied the game at 39 as the half approaches. That was a legit pro jumper. The Sun led by eight, the Lync close out with a 14-6 run. The Monarchs are taking care of business. See how a smart team knows what to do in the fourth quarter and never let the Sky back close. Kara Lawson hits two free throws as the lead grows to 11.
10:00 (ESPN2, WNBA.com): Halfway home... a nice halftime feature on the Houston Comets. Despite the opening loss, I like this squad this year. They will be there in the end. The Ladies Jordan are in the house in Chicago, as well. His Heirness' wife and daughter were spotted in the crowd taking in WNBA action. And Ticha Penicheiro hits a 3 and finishes a drive as the lead grows back to 16.
10:01 (ESPN): ...and the Miami Heat re-take the lead...
10:08 (WNBA.com): Despite showing some fight, the Sky drop out of a first-place tie. Chelsea Newton had a solid game, Stacey Lovelace played well when called upon and Dave Cowens coached his players to the end. The Monarchs put together another really impressive, well-balanced performance. They did not run up the score tonight, but showed that they can win in a number of different ways. Final score: 76-63. Congratulations to the Monarchs on the win and the Sky on a great show. They've been working there for awhile to get things started and they should be proud of their effort all around. That concludes the webcast portion of our evening.
10:11 (ESPN2): Amber Jacobs hits a three out of the break to give the Lynx a lead once again. But we're tied again at 44. We're seeing balance from a young Lynx team, scoring and rebounding from their post players and their backcourt. But the same can be said for the Sun as Douglas paced the team in the first half and Taj McWilliams-Franklin has been scoring through the Lynx D in the second half.
10:20 (ESPN2): Are we seeing lightning in a bottle between Jacobs and Augustus after another over-the-head pass and an Augustus finish? She has 15 points right now against very good defenders. I hope our video editors are watching this for Play of the Day... And look at Tamika Williams putting back a rebound! Lynx up three with three minutes to go in the third quarter.
10:23: Ohhh no! I'm missing Real World!
10:27 (ESPN2): Working both ends... a 12-4 run by the Lynx over the past seven minutes gives the Lynx a seven point lead, its largest lead of the game... and Augustus then blocks a Sales shot down the other end to create a shot clock violation. But Sales buries a jumper before the buzzer... At the end of the third quarter, the Lynx lead the Sun by four points.
10:40 (ESPN, ESPN2): The Miami Heat are on the verge of closing out Game One, up seven with a minute to go. And a big three from Katie Douglas to give the Sun a one-point lead with 6:40 to go in the game. And Erin Phillips hits another three off the bench filling in minutes for Whalen. She has 11 points. This team really can score in so many ways. They are unselfish and make great passes. This is a 9-0 run for the Sun over the past two minutes with Augustus out of the game (as she checks back in almost on cue). Nicole Ohlde has not scored in the second half.
10:52 (ESPN2): Augustus again goes high off the glass to pull the Lynx wthin two, but Douglas hits back-to-back threes from the corner... the Sun are up eight points as Douglas has 24 points with under two minutes to go.
11:02 (ESPN2): And that wraps up another WNBA games as the Sun edge the Lynx, 81-69. Minnesota missed its last nine shots and the Sun closed on a 10-0 run. Augustus finished with 21 points. Five of six WNBA games are in the books tonight with the Comets and Storm yet to play. A look at some of the other performances... Lisa Leslie had 27 points and 16 rebounds in a win over Charlotte and Monique Currie had 19 points and 5 rebounds in the loss. Tamika Catchings had 23 points and 9 rebounds in a win over the Silver Stars. Sophia Young had her second straight double-double for San Antonio.
11:05 (ESPN2): Getting ready for the final game of the night featuring the Seattle Storm and Houston Comets. These two met in the first round of the playoffs last season and both teams come in banged up. The Storm looked impressive in a Sunday night win over the Sparks. The Comets lost at home in San Antonio. WNBA.com bloggers Linda Cohn and Doris Burke on the call... The story before the game... Seattle needs an aggressive Sue Bird, revenge and redemption for the Storm.
11:08 (ESPN2): Lauren Jackson gets an offensive rebound and puts it back and Izi Castro Marques hits a mid-range jumper to give the Storm a 4-0 lead. This arena has a playoff feel. Seattle is being aggressive on the boards, but unable to connect on the put-backs as Houston catches up to tie the score at six points apiece.
11:12 (ESPN2): Tina Thompson hits a three-pointer for her first points of the game and the first lead of the game for Houston at 9-8. This is the first time Seattle has trailed all season. But Sue Bird and Betty Lennox re-gain the lead off the break for the Storm. It doesn't get prettier than Bird leading a break for Betty. Bird has been aggressive from the start, fighting for loose balls, making good passes, driving to the rack and knocking down jumpers. That's why she was named to the U.S. World Championship Team earlier today, the only point guard so named.
11:22 (ESPN2): Kayte Christensen, straight from the transactions page to the box score... rookie Mistie Williams ties it up at 15. Betty Lennox and Sheryl Swoopes raise the score and Roneeka Hodges gives the Comets a 19-18 lead after the first quarter.
11:31 (ESPN2): Barbara Turner scores her first points in the WNBA and gives the Storm a 23-22 lead with the shot clock winding down. But Thompson showed her range in hitting a three and giving the lead back to Houston. How many lead changes have we had? 5. How many ties? 4.
11:38 (ESPN2): Doris, Linda and Rebecca are talking about the offseason controversy surrounding Sheryl Swoopes and her relationship with a former Comets coach. The WNBA has no official rules or policy against player-coach relationships. Her step-through-and-score with four minutes to go gives her four points and a four point Comets lead.
11:43 (ESPN2). In order to be a sideline reporter, you need a medical degree these days. Well done, Heather, on the report about Lauren Jackson getting intravenous bisphosphonates for her stress fractures in her left shin (and you're dead wrong if you think I just looked up how to spell that. I love doctors).
11:47 (ESPN2): Tina Thompson = baller. That was just her fourth three-pointer of the night and the Comets are up nine. And I picked her as my Triple Threat Fantasy Challenge pick of the night!
11:52 (ESPN2): Sheryl Swoopes goes left at the buzzer for two to give the Comets a 41-29 lead.
12:01: Happy tomorrow.
12:14 (ESPN2): With the second half underway, the Storm will need offensive support from someone other than Sue Bird. No one else had more than six points, so that means more shots, smarter shots and finishing shots. The other key will be stepping up their defense. The Storm allowed the most points in the WNBA last season, and are used to winning games by outscoring their opponents. Yet, down 14 points three minutes into the quarter, the Storm won't catch up if they can't stop Houston from getting open looks underneath, like the one they just gave up to Sheryl Swoopes.
12:19 (ESPN2): Down 16, the Storm are in some serious trouble right about now... so much for home court pride. The Storm have been outscored 25-11 in the last 11 minutes... 18 points after Dominique Canty drove and finished. Where is Lauren Jackson? Wendy Palmer? I don't have the numbers, but the Storm are getting dominated in the paint. Show a graphic... show a graphic...
12:28 (ESPN2): Roneeka Hodges needs to get more minutes. Everytime she gets in the game, she scores or makes a difference. Dawn Staley also has proven that she still has plenty of life in those legs of hers. It is now a 21 point lead for the Comets with three minutes remaining in the quarter. Does anyone get more excited than David Locke? Seriously... I want him to do the play-by-play for my daily life. "UNBELIEVABLE! HE REACHED THOSE BACK TEETH AND SCRUBBED ALL THE WAY BACK THERE!! THAT WAS AMAZING!"
12:32 (ESPN2): There's my graphic. The Houston Comets are outscoring the Storm 32-16 in the paint. That explains why it's a 17-point game at the end of three. One more quarter to go tonight...
12:42 (ESPN2): I picked the Comets to win it all. After the opener, I wanted to change it and not tell anyone. For now, I'll stick with it and see where it gets me come September. This is a good team capable of winning anywhere against anyone.
12:58 (ESPN2): The Storm have been unable to chip away at all as the lead hovers around the 20-point mark. A disappointing result for Seattle, but a big rebound victory for the Comets. A great night of WNBA action as all but two WNBA teams in action tonight, what a night! For the six people who finished that, thanks for staying awake... trust me, I know how hard it was.
In Other News... Got a thought, complaint or question? Was this way too long? Send a Letter to the Editor.
Because the Houston Comets have three players that are unable to play tonight, the team applied for and was granted an injury exemption to sign another player. The Comets just announced today that the team has re-signed forward Kayte Christensen to an injury exception contract. The WNBA granted the signing due to injuries to Tamecka Dixon (strained left hamstring), Sancho Lyttle (right knee rehab) and Tari Phillips (abscess on right knee).
USA Basketball will announce the core eight members of its World Championship team later this afternoon. Among the eight players likely to be announced are many returning members of the 2004 Olympic team. The squad will ultimately consist of 12 players, with the remainder of the squad to be revealed later in the summer.
Now that the season has started, we will go around the web in the classic "Click and Roll" format a few times week, checking out the latest stories from 14 cities and beyond. Click on each link for a feature or story from the print and web media...
So if you haven't heard by now, the Sacramento Monarchs opened the 2006 WNBA season the same way they finished the 2005 season. Dominating. Not only did they get their rings, but they stated their early claim for another one by dropping 105 points on the Phoenix Mercury. If anything, the rout exposed some of the Mercury's weaknesses.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the Western Conference is still on top as the 10th anniversary season gets underway. Though there are some teams in the East who might disagree with that.
The Connecticut Sun are among the favorites to win the Eastern Conference this season. The Sun cruised to victory thanks to a double-double from Nykesha Sales as the new-look Liberty had many of their freedoms rescinded. Sun Coach Mike Thibault was happy with the full team effort. Liberty guard Ashley Battle returned to Connecticut for the first time, where she starred at the University of Connecticut from 2001-2005.
Sparks coach Joe "Jellybean" Bryant, who is taking his star turn in Los Angeles as he begins his first full season in charge, is a hit with his easygoing manner. Even with Lisa Leslie and a few other veterans returning, the Sparks open the season with a new look. However, without star forward Chamique Holdslaw, the Sparks were in trouble in their opening game in Seattle.
The Seattle Storm began their season last night
impressive, well-rounded victory over the aforementioned Sparks. Lauren Jackson
is used to playing
with pain, and fought through whatever pain there was to lead the way with
23 points and 6 rebounds. Sue bird had 13 points and 9 assists. Betty Lennox,
who was in car
accident on Friday night, had 9 points.Center Wendy Palmer had 18 points and
13 rebounds in her
The addition of Wendy Palmer will not only give the team another veteran leader, but her presence will help out while starting center Janell Burse recovers from an injured shoulder. Palmer is just one of seven remaining original WNBA players. For seven players who been around awhile, we look at one who is just arriving on the WNBA scene and ready to lay claim to the legacy created by these earlier pioneers. While the Minnesota Lynx are off until tomorrow night, the Star Tribune is all excited about rookie sensation Seimone Augustus. How can you not be? She is used to the big expectations and hopes to lead the Lynx back to the playoffs.
The improved San Antonio Silver Stars began their season last night with a new attitude, visiting the Houston Comets and coming out with a big opening day win. It was the newcomers who led the way as veteran free agent signing Vickie Johnson had 18 points and two rookies, Sophia Young and Shanna Zolman, had 13 and 15 points apiece. Young also had 12 rebounds for a double-double in her first ever WNBA game. Zolman went 3-3 from beyond the arc as the pieces seem to be coming together for coach Dan Hughes' club. Sheryl Swoopes was the lone bright spot for Houston.
Prior to the Charlotte Sting's home opener on Saturday, the organization retired former guard Andrea Stinson's number. Stinson played with the team for its first eight season. Meanwhile, her longtime backcourt-mate, Dawn Staley, began her first full season (and final) in Houston last night, ready to go for that ring. Perhaps the Charlotte Sting wish they had guard Jia Perkins back. After losing her to the Sky in the expansion draft, Perkins hit the three final free throws on Saturday night to give the Sky its first victory in franchise history. To make matters worse, the foul in question came on a final heave at the buzzer. Nikki McCray is enjoying the twilight of her career in a starting role once again and Coach Dave Cowens credits his subs with contributing to the win.
The much-heralded Detroit Shock lost their opener on Saturday to the new-look Indiana Fever. We have come to expect greatness from Fever forward Tamika Catchings, but third-year forward Ebony Hoffman recorded a symmetrical double-double with 13 points and rebounds, perhaps a sign of great things to come. The Shock were up, but an "avalanche of free throws" and a late 14-0 run gave Indiana its first win of the new year.
One of the most interesting things to look at in their opening game is how rookies are played and used in the lineup. Naturally, this evolves over a season, but several rookies had impressive debuts this weekend.
The most impressive was Sky rookie Candice Dupree. The Temple center did not start, but played the most minutes for the Sky in a tight game, finishing with 19 points and 6 rebounds in 29 minutes. In the loss, another rookie had an impressive performance, though it may not be who you would have expected. Backup guard Latoya Bond netted 15 points in 24 minutes, while Monique Currie finished with 7 points in 19 minutes. Also of note in that game... Allison Feaster did start, but only played 7 minutes. For the Sky, their three leading scorers all came off the bench. Dupree led the way, but Stacey Lovelace-Tolbert and Chelsea Newton both had 12. It is quite interesting that Newton started with the world champion Monarchs last year, but will be coming off the bench for an expansion team. Two coaches, two different approaches.
The Monarchs-Mercury game on Saturday also featured some impressive professional debuts. Scholanda Dorrell started for the Monarchs and scored 10 points while fellow first rounder Kim Smith had 6 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds. For the Mercury, Cappie Pondexter and Jennifer Lacy both started for coach Paul Westhead, each playing 19 minutes. Lacy finished with 6 points an Pondexter had 8 before fouling out. Coming off the bench, Ann Strother hit 4-6 from 3-point range in 17 minutes of clean-up time. When her shots are falling, she is a dangerous shooter.
At Mohegan, the Sun got off to another impressive start, scoring 91 points and holding the Liberty to just 36.1 percent from the floor. Erin Phillips had 8 points and Megan Mahoney finished with 9 points in 13 minutes in her debut after missing last season with an injured knee. That game also helped drive up Saturday's scoring totals, but overall, teams scored 640 total points, which averages out to 80.0 ppg per team. The record for a season is 77.0, the 2000 Houston Comets. There were also four double doubles on Saturday: Nykesha Sales (19-10), Tamika Catchings (16-14), Ebony Hoffman (13-13) and Rebekkah Brunson (10-10)
Detroit's lack of production from its bench (and its starters, really) led to an opening loss to the Indiana Fever. The Shock shot 37 percent. While Katie Smith had 19 points, Deanna Nolan had only 10 and Swin Cash had only 5.
Each night, be sure to check out The Day in the WNBA for a summary of all the happenings.
Opening Day across the WNBA, and I couldn't be at any of the games... but with ABC covering the opener, I watched from home on the couch... with my Sheryl Swoopes bobblehead doll on one side and the laptop on the other. I kept a running log of my thoughts.
There's the banner being unfurled. Rings handed out. As mentioned, even the team employees got rings. Real rings. Wow, even Terry Gannon got a ring. I should have been there. Not that I wear jewelry, typically, but still. I wonder if Doris Burke got one, too. There is a very pregnant Rebecca Lobo working the sidelines, though you wouldn't know it with the strategic camera work showing her from the neck up
Starting lineups... no surprise that Diana Taurasi is here, though this is her first game action since the offseason as she's been out with a tweaked quad. Rebecca Lobo reports that Taurasi is not 100%, but it only hurts when she runs. Good thing she won't do much of that today. Wait... Also starting for the Mercury is rookie Cappie Pondexter and Kelly Miller. Going small means going faster. Jennifer Lacy is also in the starting lineup for Phoenix. For Sacramento, the only real newcomers is rookie Scholanda Dorrell, filling the Chelsea Newton role in the starting lineup.
Here comes the tip... and Happy 10th Anniversary, WNBA. It's official, now!
I wonder how rookie Cappie Pondexter is going to... oh, that answered that. She just hit a shot eight seconds into the game. Welcome to the show, Cappie... Catch and shoot. These are two very different styles... Phoenix plays to run and Sacramento has its own pace.
Diana Taurasi just hit a three, stole the ball and hit another three. Wow, it's 12-1. They're on pace to score 234 points, though someone should check my math. The Mercury press is leading to turnovers and leading to points. Wow, a fast pace. Can they really keep it up? I need oxygen just watching them.
Have You Seen her? It's a WNBA All-Decade Team voting commercial... have you voted yet today?
Good to see that Kara Lawson is feeling good as she enters the game. She only practiced twice prior to the game and is only expected to play a few minutes at a time. Though she just suffered a right hand injury ten seconds into the game. After watching the replay, we see her right pinky pointing in another direction. Ewww. Yeah, she's a lot tougher than I am. With Lawson being limited, the rookies are getting minutes. Kim Smith just hit a three and it playing well in the first quarter and making some nice passes.
Nicole Powell, a big fan of the shuffleboard, is on early. It's weird, though. I keep looking at the scoreboard and clock, forgetting we're playing quarters. I'll get used to it. You will too.
And here come
the defending champions. Sacramento is on a 7-0 run and is beginning to chip away
at the Mercury's lead. Yolanda is still grabbing rebounds, though they are off
her own misses thus far. The Mercury had 24 points in the first nine minutes,
but the Monarchs hit shots and fought back to pull within one after 1.
12-1 to start game, Sacramento came charging back.
As the second quarter starts, it's important to remind everyone that teams will be going in the same direction in the second quarter. They won't switch until the half. Now, back to the action as the Monarchs take their first lead in the opening seconds of the second quarter.
It has just been reported that Lawson dislocated her pinky. Stop reminding me of that image. Gggggg. But she's tough, already back in the game and just hit a layup and drew the foul. And the shot clock just broke. I bet someone walking behind the basket tripped over cord. I always do that. Can't blame me this time.
Wait, apparently it was fixed as my phone rang. It was Annie Meyers, though I missed it and was listening to the voicemail. I was only gone a minute, but it's now somehow Sacramento is up 8. They seem to be taking better shots, working it inside and finding the open 3-point shooter. Ticha Penicheiro just hit a 3! This is a different team. Looks like the opening jitters and excitement after getting their rings and understand the new Mercury system. Well they took their early punches, studied their moves and now seem to be landing harder punches. The Mercury have scored two points in the last seven minutes of game action.
Kelly Miller looks tan. The desert suits her well.
If I'm not careful, that Aly and AJ theme song is going to get stuck in my head. Ooops. Too late. "Can you feeeeeeel it? Can you feeeeeeel it? Don't let nobody tell yoooooou..."
Diana Taurasi needs to start shooting more or driving to the basket. That's my analysis. It's already a 14-point deficit. 15-0 run for the Monarchs. So much for the scoring pace... I know they're playing her physical and she's injured, but it could get away from Phoenix in a hurry.
It's now a 19-point lead for the Monarchs. It has now gotten away from them.
Halftime: 49-30, Sacramento. Yolanda Griffith says the team has settled down after the emotional high of celebrating the title and the ring ceremony. "Like cloud nine." They sure got back into our rhythm.
Wow, how can you not love the new WNBA commercials? They're infectious.
I am excited to see the rookies with their new teams. It's nice to see Ann Strother hit some shots and Scholanda Dorrell has some good offensive game. She is showing her range today.
So as the Monarchs are now up between 20 and 25 points, let's look at why... Second-chance points. Phoenix is outsized and already looks tired. This is not what you want from a team that is supposed to run you out of the gym. Looks like Sacramento is the one running away with it. Yet, with such a short training camp, it may take a few more weeks to get settled and used to the "Paul Ball" system.
Sacramento finished with more than 100 points, which could happen a lot in games with Phoenix... Great to see the bench players get some quality minutes.
Don't forget that the Sun-Liberty game is on NBA TV tonight. The first of 99 or so webcasts this season. Check it check it out....
In Other News... A lot of you have been writing in, asking for details about our second annual WNBA Fantasy Draft... several of us conducted the six-round Draft over e-mail. Three of us would be considered experts, two would be novices and the last one, well, he needed some help.
I am embarrassed to admit that one of the novices actually won the league last year, but that is because I was too busy to manage the team. An overview before you see the rosters... we created a season-long rotisserie style game with teams of only six players, five of whom will start and earn points. No position requirements, but each team gets points for nine stat categories. PTS, REB, AST, ST, BLK, TO, FG%, FTM, 3PTM. The leader gets the most points per category and the total number of points wins the league at the end of the season.
The Mini Dome
The Special Assistant
|Sue Bird||Lauren Jackson||Tamika Catchings||Sheryl Swoopes||Diana Taurasi||Deanna Nolan|
|Alana Beard||Becky Hammon||Tina Thompson||Taj McWilliams-Franklin||Nykesha Sales||Lisa Leslie|
|Michelle Snow||Tangela Smith||Chamique Holdsclaw||Seimone Augustus||Cheryl Ford||Swin Cash|
|Chasity Melvin||DeLisha Milton-Jones||Lindsay Whalen||Yolanda Griffith||Nicole Powell||Anna DeForge|
|Nicole Ohlde||Sheri Sam||Monique Currie||Nikki Teasley||Katie Smith||Cappie Pondexter|
|Tammy Sutton-Brown||Shannon Johnson||Sophia Young||Katie Douglas||Shameka Christon||Kamila Vodichkova|
You be the judge...
The Sacramento Monarchs will officially get their rings tomorrow prior to the game against the Mercury on ABC (4 p.m. ET, ABC), but for all other employees within the organization, from tickettakers to parking attendants to public relations and marketing personnel, the ring celebration took place tonight in Sacramento. Each one was presented by a player.
Every regular game day employee who contributed to the Monarchs championship was given an authentic championship ring. Not the cheap kind... Courtest of the Maloof family. That meant nearly 1,000 custom-fitted pieces of jewelry.
This is the first time in WNBA history that an entire organization was so honored.
Living on nothing but energy drinks and Munchkins since early May, our 2006 Season Preview is now complete... our re-designed web site is pretty much complete and by 3 p.m. this afternoon, final rosters will be set. That means the only thing left to do is sit back and watch basketball this weekend out of my one good eye. 4 p.m. ET on Saturday... Mercury at Monarchs on ABC.
Cuts still to be made:
Los Angeles: 3
San Antonio: 1
Also, don't be surprised to see another recently-waived player or two actually get signed. Most likely rookies or second year players who can fit under the cap, a few teams have some roster room as the deadline nears.
Want games? Well this season, WNBA.com has 99 games (and counting) available for free webcast. That's more than ever - more than 1/3 of the entire slate of games.
Also, be sure to sign up for the Triple Threat Fantasy Challenge before the season starts... Sure, there are weekly prizes if you miss the start, but the season-long winner wins a trip to the WNBA Finals.
In Other News... Lindsay Whalen is likely a go... which is great news for Sun fans and bad news for everyone else.
It is always so interesting to see live television being made... everyone running around behind the scenes, yet the finished product always looks so polished on the air. Especially when the WNBA and NBA crews are involved... the best in the business, folks.
Today's show was the WNBA Season Tip-Off event live from the NBA Store in Manhattan. The show featured performances by Aly and AJ, a panel discussion with WNBA stars past and present as well as an overview of the season to come.
Former New York Liberty stars Kym Hampton, Sue Wicks and Teresa Weatherspoon, five-time Olympian Teresa Edwards as well as current WNBA players Alana Beard and Kristen Mann joined NBA TV's Andre Aldridge and ESPN's Linda Cohn to talk about ten years of WNBA basketball as well as look to the future of the sport.
"Over the 20 years that I've been a part of the game, the biggest development and greatest impact has been the play of the players," Edwards said. "They have been a source of motivation and inspiration to young girls and it's great to see that it is continuing and where the game is going."
Having three original Liberty players together, it was hard not to reminisce. And once the topic of the 1999 Finals came up, you know NBA TV had the Weatherspoon shot highlight ready to show.
"I never get tired of seeing that moment," Spoon said. "It was so important because we had such a tough year. I have been truly blessed."
"The personality of that team was to never quit," Wicks said.
Alana Beard flew in for the day with her sister, as did Kristen Mann. Both the Lynx and Mystics are off until their regular season openers on Tuesday. Beard informed me that Nikki Teasley arrived last week and is really playing great. Looks like all those general managers who picked that trade as the biggest single player move of the offseason might know what they're talking about.
Cohn then broke down some of the big storylines for the season, none of which should be any surprise to you, loyal Blog reader, but she also mixed in some predictions and things to watch for. She likes Detroit and Houston to make it to the Finals, but think Connecticut is also right there. She loves Seimone Augustus and thinks that Erin Phillips is really going to be a solid player in the WNBA. She even gave WNBA.com a nice plug, inviting fans to vote for the All-Decade Team.
Finally, Aly and AJ, whose hit song "Rush" is the official WNBA anthem for the season, played the song live to close out the show. The entire WNBA and NBA staff was rocking out around the stage as were dozens of players on local Jr. WNBA teams around the New York area. The pair really is talented, singing and playing their own guitars. Their band was actually decked in out in authentic WNBA player jerseys... with Lisa Leslie and Chelsea Newton on guitar, Sue Bird on bass and Swin Cash keeping the beat on percussion. Sounds like a good team both on and off the court...
In Other News... It's time for my annual WNBA fantasy draft with my friends... stay tuned for the results tomorrow!
I've got my abacus out and some interesting things to recap from the preseason now that all games have wrapped up.
Specifically, scoring is up.
In 18 games, the league averaged 74.0 points per game compared to 67.3 points per game during the 2005 regular season (221 games). This is an increase of 6.7 points per game. It is important to note that the highest scoring average in league history was 70.3 points per game during the 1998 campaign, and that was the only season that league averaged more than 70 points per game. Scoring will be tracked regularly to analyze if this trend in increased scoring continues during the regular season at this level.
During the 2005 WNBA campaign, teams scored 70-plus points 175 times out of 442 possible results (39.5 percent). In the preseason this year, teams scored 70-plus points 24 times out of 36 possible results (66.6 percent).
The 2006 WNBA preseason featured 13 scoring results in excess of 80 points in 36 possible results (36.1 percent), while the 2005 regular season featured 41 scores over 80 points out of 442 results (9.2 percent). On eight occasions this preseason teams scored 85-plus points, while over the entire season last year it occurred only 14 times. The Connecticut vs. Phoenix final score on Saturday was 96-85 in regulation. Last season, only one team scored more than 95 points in a game.
With the season beginning on Saturday, we'll track these trends throughout the regular season as well.
In Other News... Tomorrow is WNBA "Orange and Oatmeal Day" in the NBA and WNBA league offices, encouraging employees to wear clothing that represents the league's distinct colors in celebration of its historic 10th anniversary season, which tips off on Saturday on ABC.
But why should we be limited to all the fun? Let's make this national. That's right... Tomorrow, forget the jeans or suit. It's orange and oatmeal time... and from past experience, I can tell you that khakis work great.
Again, if you are in New York City, you are invited to the NBA Store at 4 p.m. for a special concert by Aly & AJ. The duo is Disney's newest pop stars and will peform their hit single "Rush," which can also be heard throughout the league's new brand campaign featuring the tagline, "Have Your Seen her?" The campaign underscores the depth and breadth of the WNBA athletes who play the game -- multi-faceted role models, believers, dreamers, achievers, students, teachers, leaders, and champions. As a tribute to the overall growth of women's basketball and its impact on the world of sports, NBA TV will present a live panel discussion featuring some of the game's biggest contributors including five-time Olympic medalist Teresa Edwards, former New York Liberty All-Stars Teresa Weatherspoon and Kym Hampton, 2000 Sportsmanship Award winner Sue Wicks, and current Washington Mystics All-Star Alana Beard.
All photos by Mitchell Layton/NBAE/Getty Images
As the WNBA season approaches, it is impossible not to wonder about some of the former players who helped grow the league to where it is today.
Tausha Mills, who played four seasons with the Washington Mystics and San Antonio Silver Stars between 2000 and 2003, is still involved in the game of basketball, albeit in a very different way. Over the past few months, Mills has been working with Kay Seamayer, a 66 year old grandmother of three, former high school, college and AAU basketball player, on strengthening training and improving Kay's basketball skills in training for the Senior Olympics.
Seamayer and Mills met at a local recreation center where they were each in a personal fitness rehab program. Mills was recovering from a basketball related knee injury while Seamayer was getting back into shape after giving up tennis a couple years back.
"How lucky to have met and worked with such a great personal trainer," Seamayer says. "Tausha is an excellent and talented person who has helped me move forward in restoring and building an ongoing physical fitness program for myself. I'll never be a TAUSHA MILLS, my confidence level has soared by association"
In addition to playing in the WNBA, Tausha is inexhaustibly dedicated to mentoring the academic achievements of today's youth. Jumping 2 Give is the program established in 2001 to promote education through sports. Promoting Education Through Sports (P.E.T.S.) is an innovative system that teaches educational fundamentals and reinforces key essentials for success.
By profession, Seamayer is a singer/songwriter/international recording artist. Kay also performs her nationally known composition of "Let Freedom Ring" across America at special patriotic events including the Let Freedom Ring™ National Bell Ringing Ceremony of the LIBERTY BELL in Philadelphia on July 4th.
"She is singing' & swingin' to her own tune," Mills said. "That's right! She is an artist. She is an artist not only in her music, but in life as well. she has not allowed age or injury to hinder her from motherhood, grandmother-hood, or any of life's activities, including BASKETBALL! Momma Kay has mastered the 3-point shot and challenges the skills of her peers. Even though I am a WNBA player, I have to check my skills to keep up with her."
Local qualifying Senior Games will be held in May in Dallas, state in Austin in September and the 2007 SENIOR OLYMPICS will be held in June, in Louisville, KY. To find out more about the National Senior Games and Senior Olympics program, please go to: www.seniorolympics.org. and for Dallas Area Senior Games 2006, please go to: www.dallascityhall.com/SeniorGames/index.html. Seamayer is player/coach on the 3 on 3 Texas Challenge 60+ team and will also participate in the free throw competition.
"Taush has been such a great help to me and others," Seamayer said. "In strengthening training, in getting my "game" back, being on the court with her and in her presence has been such an inspiration to me. She is such a hard worker... diligent, focused and just a great person to be around. I am so in hope for all the best to Tausha to get back doing what she loves best... playing basketball!"
Finally... check out ESPN.com's WNBA Season Preview.
This week is a tense time for WNBA rookies. For likely the first time in their basketball lives, some face the prospect of getting cut this week as WNBA teams must trim their rosters to 11 players.
Washington's Nikki Blue, a guard out of UCLA, is out to prove that this Draft may have been deeper than people expected. Another second round pick, Liz Shimek, was traded from Houston to Chicago on Saturday.
Decisions will also be tough in Connecticut, as the ultimate choice for remaining roster spots may come down to a rookie or two as coach Mike Thibault has already made a few cuts, but still has a few more to go.
Two rookies who do not have to worry about their spot on the roster lived up to expectations, at least in their preseason games... In a preseason win over the Storm this weekend, Seimone Augustus had a game-high 26 points. Those aren't Rookie of the Year numbers, folks. Those are MVP numbers. Amber Jacobs, a third-year guard, may have, however, kept another rookie out of the starting lineup by playing well in the win. Rookie Cappie Pondexter also scored 18 points for Phoenix, though the Mercury lost 96-85 to the Connecticut Sun.
There remains only one more preseason game this week, Tuesday night with Houston and Detroit - then the real games begin this weekend. Greek player Anastasia Kostaki is expected to finally join the Comets for the first time. Tina Thompson should also be back for practice this week.
Just saw my first WNBA preseason action of the season live and in person as the Sacramento Monarchs came back on the New Look Liberty. In addition to watching the defending champs tune up for another run at a title, I was interested to see the product the Liberty put on the floor.
I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, they are a team made up of many players not apart of last season's squad, but Pat Coyle's team works hard on defense. Sherill Baker got a steal within 10 seconds of being in the game, which she converted into a three-point play. Barb Farris and Kelly Schumacher are still getting a feel for the system and Becky Hammon and Shameka Christon will lead the way on the scoreboard. However, I was most impressed with the play of Ashley Battle. Starting at the two-guard, Battle was active on defense, pulled in a bunch of boards and was able to score in traffic. Sure, she can still work on her jump shot, but she will not only make the team... she's going to start. Not bad for a player who was cut before her rookie season last year.
The other interesting note during the game was watching the referees, coaches and scoring officials communicate regarding the new time outs. All know the rules, but it took a few quarters for everyone to be on the same page. Another big new rule, the new shot clock, is still going to take some getting used to. There were a bunch of shots at the buzzer, which made for both some ugly and electric moments. The fans did not seem to mind, including New Jersey Nets star Richard Jefferson, who was taking in the game with a friend on the off day before Game 4 against the Miami Heat at home tomorrow afternoon.
I can't remember if I mentioned this already, but ach team has a special 10th Anniversary patch on the "lapel" of their uniform. Many teams will also be wearing 10th Anniversary warm-up shirts before games. You can get them at the NBA Store.
Finally, a trade in the WNBA today. Liz Shimek was traded for the second time in her brief career, to the Chicago Sky... a good pick up for Chicago.
In Other News... The Sacramento Monarchs are visiting the White House on Tuesday to meet President Bush, an honor accorded to all major sports champions.
"I have never met this President, nor have I ever met any President," Coach John Whisenant told me after the game. "I'm not a Republican, I'm very against the war and I'm going to keep my mouth shut and accept this as an honor to meet the office. It is an honor for the WNBA, the Monarchs and the players."
After the ceremony, they will then fly home. The players will then prep for Opening Day on Saturday. The front office staff will get their rings in a special ceremony on Friday. They players will present them with their new jewelry. The players will then get their rings on Saturday from Donna Orender.
Also, if you're in or around the New York area on Thursday, May 18th, come by the NBA Store in Manhattan for the officla kick off event celebrating the 10th WNBA Season. The afternoon will also feature a performance by Aly & AJ, followed by a meet and greet with lucky contest winners, WNBA players and legends, prizes, giveaways and more. Aly & AJ, who we met a few weeks ago when they went shopping at the NBA Store, return to sing their latest hits, including “Rush”, the song featured in the WNBA’s new brand campaign “Have You Seen her?” There will then be a roundtable discussion moderated by Linda Cohn and NBA TV's Andre Aldridge featuring Alana Beard, Teresa Weatherspoon, Sue Wick and Kym Hampton.
One week to go until the start of the season. Chicago's Brooke Wyckoff, for one, is ready. She has been living in Chicago since the New Year and even spent time working in the city for an ad/marketing agency... in an office! She has already fallen in love with the Windy City and is ready to represent it in the WNBA.
"When I first found out that I would be selected by Chicago, I was ecstatic," she told me recently. "In no way did I want to leave Connecticut, but I love the city of Chicago and I thought it would be cool to be a part of something new. This is a team without roles for anybody yet. I can go, play and re-establish myself playing-wise. Connecticut is an amazing team and my roll was kid of set there and I was fine with that, but it was exciting to have a new opportunity to see where my game can go."
Don't you get the sense that these players "get it?" I wrote that recently somewhere... maybe in the Blog... and someone asked me to clarify what I meant. In short, they understand the role they play in society. I remember chatting with Hall-of-Famer Lynette Woodard, who was a WNBA original player, at the NBA All-Star Game in February as Tamika Catchings was nearby posing for pictures with fans.
"I really enjoy watching these young players," she told me. "I think they have it down pat. Tamika Catchings is one of my favorite players right now and I really enjoy watching her. She plays hard and she is so strong and fast. These players do it all, and can do it all from every position. It is important to have an opportunity to plant the seed in the minds of these younger kids today, to let them know they can live their dream no matter what. Regardless of what people say, you can achieve big dreams."
In Other News.. All-Star Game tickets are available through Ticketmaster. Right in my backyard and on my street. How many people can say they live on the same block where an All-Star Game is being played? Moving on...
Last night, Detroit lost 85-84 to Phoenix in its second exhibition game of the WNBA season in Albany, N.Y as Mercury rookie Cappie Pondexter hit the game-winner. Fellow rookie Ann Strother is also fitting into the system nicely. Both talk highly of getting the chance to play with Diana Taurasi, though they will have to wait a bit longer as Taurasi sat out of the exhibition game last night.
Speaking of playing with Diana Taurasi, new Fever guard Anna DeForge led the way for Indiana as they topped the Sparks in the other preseason game on Thursday. So much for jetlag... In Houston, veteran center Tari Phillips is proving she can still compete at a high level while another Texas-based player is on the opposite end of her career. Rookie guard Shanna Zolman will make her AT&T Center debut tonight as the Silver Stars host Charlotte in their exhibition finale. The Storm visit the Sky in the other preseason game this afternoon as the Storm will be looking for more out of their small forward position.
If you haven't heard by now, the WNBA is celebrating Ten Years of Caring with a long list of activities around the various team cities. Two teams that have been busy early on are the Detroit Shock and Indiana Fever.
Detroit forward Swin Cash has taken an active role by visiting high schools and talking with students. Cash also is striving for greatness on the court as well as she leads the Shock into Albany tonight for a preseason game with the Mercury.
The Indiana Fever helped build a home in the Indianapolis with the folks from Habitat for Humanity. The entire team was there, including Tamika Whitmore, who will be wearing number 91 on her jersey this season in honor of former NBA rebounding king Dennis Rodman.
Monarchs coach John Whisenant is being mentioned on the list of candidates for the NBA's Sacramento Kings head coaching position.
The daily injury report...
Comets forward Tina Thompson turned her her right ankle in practice Saturday and has not participated in activities since. According to the Houston Chronicle, Thompson said she doesn't know if she'll play Saturday when the Comets travel to Washington to face the Mystics in their second preseason game. Connecticut's Lindsay Whalen has also been practicing with the team, and while it's too early to tell whether she will be ready for the season opener or not, progress is always positive.
In Other News... Fan Bloggers have been selected. Stay tuned next week as they get started.
In the Charlotte Sting home opener on May 20, the team will honor one of the team's all-time greats. Andrea Stinson, who spent eight seasons with the team and one with the Detroit Shock before retring this offseason, will have her number retired.
The news was not as positive in Charlotte last night as the Sting lost again in the preseason, 88-61 to the San Antonio Silver Stars. Hoever, Coach Muggsy Bogues was very happy with the play of his rookies, who have played a prominent role thus far in the preseason.
"I know what our veteran players can do, but I really want to use this time to build some confidence in our younger players with this the opportunity to play extensive minutes," Bogues told the Charlotte Observer. "We are not discouraged by the outcome of these preseason games. We will continue to work hard and get our players healthy and ready to go for the opener."
Look, there's video!
And speaking of rookies, the youth movement is on in San Antonio. Rookies Shanna Zolman and Sophia Young combined for 32 points. Zolman went 5 for 7 from 3-point range to tally a game-high 19 points, and Young had 13 points and eight rebounds. Sylvia Crawley, who signed with the team on May 2, did not play in the game. Crawley also recently took on another job, as head coach of the Ohio University Wildcats.
Also last night, the Chicago Sky won their opener in grand fashion. Despite 32 points and 17 rebounds from Lisa Leslie, the Sky won, 78-73. The team started Stacey Dales and Elaine Powell in the backcourt, Brooke Wyckoff, Amanda Lassiter and Ashley Robinson in the frontcourt. Lassiter scored 14 points for the Sky. Here is what some of their local papers are saying:
In Other News... I'm not one to put much credence in one's dreams, but last night I dreamt that I beat Diana Taurasi and Elton Brand in a chicken parmigiana hero eating contest. There were others involved in the event, and I only came in fourth place with six finished subs, but Elton was only able to eat three and Diana had four. I mention this because I am now confident that I can beat them both and we need to somehow make this happen.
Congratulations to Sun guard Lindsay Whalen, who got engaged this weekend to long-time boyfriend Ben Greve. The pair has been together for two-and-a-half years after meeting in college at the University of Minnesota. Now I haven't seen the rock yet, but I've heard good things. Best of luck to the happy couple.
The San Antonio Silver Stars still have some lingering questions after their exhibition opener despite some optimistic individual results.
Finally, the Chicago Sky play their first game tonight. Good luck to the entire franchise and organization as it opens its doors for the first time. One player who is ready to get started is rookie Jennifer Harris, who finally gets her shot.
Yesterday, two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, the Sun and the Shock, met for the first time this season as the Shock were victorious in their exhibition opener. Of course, anytime a UConn alum returns to Connecticut, it's a story.
But the real story in the preseason has not been about the stars and starters.These games give reserves a great chance to show they belong in the rotation once the games start meaning something in the standings. In Connecticut, the reserves showed promise.
Much of the focus for the Sun is on the backup point guard position. Erin Phillips has arrived from Australia and more than capable of handling those duties. Yet, the efficient Jamie Carey is also in a good position to contribute.
Elsewhere, the high-powered Mercury dropped 96 points in a scrimmage with the Lynx. The Storm focused on defense as they started their preseason with a blowout over the Liberty. The Storm may have an advantage as they are used to the quicker pace as will be dictated by the new rules this season.
In Saturday's games, the new-look Indiana Fever picked up where they left off in last year and routed the Sting. Kansas State alum Kendra Wecker and Laurie Koehn also returned to Kansas for an exhibition game between their respective teams. The Mystics defeated the Silver Stars, 89-81.
Coaching in the preseason is different than coaching in the regular season. The games may not mean as much, but they go along way in helping evaluate talent. In fact, trimming down rosters are among the most difficult things a coaching staff has to do. Mystics coach Richie Adubato says that thinning out the Mystics' roster won't be easy. The Monarchs are down to 16 with more on the way. Some more good news for the Monarchs, ticket sales healthy on heels of their championship
Vanessa Hayden didn't want to stay in Spain, so she returned to Minnesota to work on her conditioning. She is also getting the chance to work with a pair of Serio coaches. That could mean even better things for the Lynx this season. Especially with the way that rookie point guard Shona Thorburn is dishing the ball and providing a spark...
Finally, we can think of many more than five reasons to watch the WNBA, but here are a few of them.
Two preseason games in and the new rules are firmly in place. So how has it affected the game? Welllll, scoring isn't exactly up just yet, but we can attribute that to the fact that regular lineups and players are not yet set. Coaches are tinkering with substitution patterns and giving some newcomers and training camp additions extra looks in game action. Maybe we should look at it again in, say, a few weeks? Deal.
The Seattle Storm open up their preseason schedule tomorrow and the team is excited to have Sue Bird in the mix once again. Back from Russia (with love), the star point guard has the Storm moving and flying high.
Speaking of arrivals, the Connecticut Sun are expecting to finally get guard Erin Phillips into camp today. Diana Taurasi also began running at Mercury camp and is intrigued by Coach Paul Westhead's trademark fast break and fast pace. The news is not as good for Mystics fan, who are awaiting the arrival of new point guard Nikki Teasley. The Washington area native is still overseas, locked in a salary dispute with the Hungarian team she played for during the offseason, and it will delay her arrival in Washington.
In Other News... I hope everyone is voting for those All-Decade players. Looking at the first week of balloting returns (not that I can share any details under penalty of have all the keys ripped off my keyboard), some of the results surprise me and some don't. Either way, you can vote every day until the end of May (at which point you can start voting every day for All-Star - it never ends!!!). Now that's all I have to say about that.
Teresa Weatherspoon was one of several prominent athletes and dignitarties who participated Title IX Symposium 2006 on Monday at Purchase College SUNY in upstate New York. Over 150 girls and boys from 12 schools in the area and twice as many adults were also on hand to learn about Title IX from four Olympic champions, a panel of experts and a group of facilitators.
The annual Symposium is designed to encourage students’ interest in and excitement about math, science, technology and athletics; explore stereotypes about girls’ and boys’ interests and abilities in those areas; promote fairness and equal opportunities in education; and inform students and adults about the scope and breadth of Title IX while discussing its local and national impact.
The only official WNBA fantasy game, the Triple Threat Fantasy Challenge, is back and ready to go. Sign up now and win both weekly prizes or the grand prize, a trip to the WNBA Finals. You'll get to hang out with me, so that's worth an exaggerated amouint of daily involvement and updating, isn't it? Next season, we will also be introducing a comprehensive league manager game, a full-fledged fantasy game, the only WNBA version of its kind. So that's something to look forward to.
In a big story out of the Houston Chronicle today, Comets coach Van Chancellor announced that Janeth Arcain will not be returning to the Comets this season. They did not need her last night in the preseason opening win over the Charlotte Sting. In the 77-66 victory, Tina Thompson, Michelle Snow and rookie Liz Shimek scored 14 points apiece.
The Chicago Sky have the first official member of their cheering section, introducing Sky Guy to the world. He is described as a masculine guy with a wild imagination and appetite for adventure, spent the last several years traveling the globe following his passion for women’s basketball. Think Flash Gordon meets Captain America. In sky blue.
Speaking of superheroes, Swin Cash and the Detroit Shock will be opening a resource center at the Ferguson Academy For Young Women. The event is part of a larger, league-wide initiative celebrating "10 Years of Caring." Stay tuned for more as each team plans their events in their respective communities.
In Other News... Kendra Wecker is back on the court with the Silver Stars and eager to start all over. According to Mechelle Voepel, Wecker expects to play in the team's exhibition game in Wichita on Saturday if things continue to go well the rest of this week. The San Antonio Express-News is running a story on Wecker's teammate, Chantelle Anderson, today, recapping her offseason playing in Siberia. Of course, all fans of the WNBA.com Blog Squad are already familiar with her tales from the tundra.
Many of the remaining WNBA players not yet in camps are expected to arrive this week as the overseas competitions have come to an end. Sheryl Swoopes return gives Comets a boost while Diana Taurasi will be back with the Mercury this week.
Taurasi's teammate in Russia, Sue Bird, stopped off in New York for one night before leaving for Seattle this morning. She says she is ready to go and feels great. Of course, she is happy to be back in the States and cannot wait to get back to her house in the Emerald City.
In Other News... Inside The Windy City, the Chicago Sky are hard at work. Aside from seeing who will actually make the roster, an interesting question will be Coach Dave Cowens' lineup. Who starts? Who comes off the bench? Some of those answers will come next Tuesday as the Sky open their preseason schedule against the Los Angeles Sparks. The first preseason game is tonight between the Charlotte Sting and the Houston Comets.
Two injuries coming out of training camps...
In an interview with Muggsy Bogues, the Charlotte Sting coach indicated that guard Caity Matter has a broken foot.
With training camp now nearly ten days old, today is the first of the mandatory roster cuts. Rosters must be trimmed to 15. Many cuts have already been made, but the difficult task of waiving players continues. Get the refresh button warmed up on the transactions page...
But with all of the mandatory cuts, the Seattle Storm actually have another welcome addition for the second straight day. Toccarra Williams returned to the team yesterday and Simone Edwards re-signed with the team as well, though it will not come at the expense of playing for the Jamaican National Team in early June.
Speaking of injuries, Deanna Nolan did not travel with the Shock to Las Vegas for the team's scrimmages with Sacramento and Indiana. She has a strained patella tendon in her left knee and will sit out of practice for up to a week.
"It's not serious," Coach Bill Laimbeer told the Detroit News. "She'll be out no more than six or seven days. I don't know if she'll play Sunday (exhibition opener at Connecticut). It's up to Deanna. We'll see later this week."
The first of the WNBA preseason games tip off this week. But that doesn't mean that games have not yet started. The Indiana Fever and Sacramento Monarchs are in Las Vegas for controlled scrimamges against one another early this week before Charlotte and Houston get things started for real on Wednesday night.
Elsewhere around the league... New Zealand native Donna Loffhagen has arrived (after celebrating her birthday at home and here on the same day! Cool!) is settling in Connecticut this preseason and Sun coach Mike Thibault not only thinks she can make the team, but can also play an important role in helping the Sun get over that Finals hurdle this summer. At 28, she is among the oldest rookies around. Also 28, Katie Cronin is a WNBA training camp veteran in Connecticut and still hoping to stick with a team. By her own estimation, Cronin has to be the league's oldest rookie.
Speaking of Donnas, WNBA president Donna Orender was among 15 people inducted into the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame this weekend. Sandy Koufax and Red Auerbach are among the notable names that make up this elite group. Sadly, for the 14th straight year, I was not even on the ballot.
Meanwhile, San Antonio got some more bad news this week as it was announced that Kendra Wecker's rehabilitation hit a small snag. After playing with USA Basketball in April, her knee "locked up" and the Silver Stars medical staff examined the knee and tests revealed a torn meniscus. The tear in her meniscus was jagged instead of clean. It could not be surgically repaired and was completely removed.
In nearby Houston, a crowd of over 800 loyal Comets fans converged on Toyota Center Sunday for the team’s annual open practice. Without Sheryl Swoopes there, the big talk was about new Comets guard Tamecka Dixon, who spent her first nine years playing for the rival Sparks.
In Seattle, the Storm's point guard adventure took an unexpected turn as Toccara Williams made the decision to attend the Storm's training camp after initially opting not to play due to family committments.
In Charlotte, point guard Helen Darling has made it obvious in Sting training camp this week that she intends to take a leadership role this season, and as her first order of business, set the bar high for Charlotte in terms of what she thinks this team will be able to accomplish.
In Other News... The Heart of the Game will officially be in theaters on June 14.
And the New York Liberty may no longer have any original players, but 10 years later, Liberty fans are still going strong.
Happy May, everyone.
March - April 2006
January - February 2006
November - December 2005
September - October 2005
2005 WNBA Finals
2005 WNBA All-Star Game
2004 WNBA Finals
2004 Game At Radio City