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2007 Draft Day
Posted: April 6, 2007 9:13 a.m. ET

All across the country WNBA teams hosted draft day parties for their season ticket holders to ushering the rookies to their teams.

NOT!

Can you believe it? The ONLY teams to host parties for their fans were the Phoenix Mercury and the Washington Mystics. There were a few parties put together by fans but ...

I am so having an "are you kidding me" moment!

So Brian, Margo’s number one fan and I tried to pull together an event at Michael Jordan's in the casino but we could not get people interested. We sent an e-mail to the Sun front office but we did not hear a thing back.

But then a knight in shining armor ran in... ok, a middle age lobbyist driving a Maserati... Susan told me about the Mystics party. She was kind enough to invite us to join her at the event.

Brian, me, the Margo Mobile, 5 hour road trip complete with GO RUTGERS flashing on the Jersey Turnpike and we were ensconced in front of the HD screen in Susan’s basement in time for tip-off. Of course the Connecticut-Washington rivalry continued with Susan rooting for Tennessee and Brian and I for Rutgers. If the Championship can’t be in Storrs, then it has to be somewhere in the Big East.

We interrupt this commentary to bring you a message from the following Mystics players who stopped by to say hello to our table at the party.

Tamara James sends a message to all Mystics fans: “I am happy to be back and and I have been working on my game.” She talked about learning enough Spanish to get by... “I learned how to order a cheeseburger.” “I like the new uniforms and I look forward to making a statement with them.”

Alana Beard says, “I would like to improve in all aspects of the game. We shoot everyday.” “I am impressed with the team and with what we put out.” “We can get better defensively in all games.” When asked about the loss of Coach Goestenkors at Duke, “If they don’t get someone, I will take the job. I am sorry to see Coach go.” “I have talked a lot with 'my babies' (Lindsey Harding and Allison Bales) and it will be interesting to see how they grow in this league.”

From a Mystics fan who stopped by to say hello we get... “Sonja is usually my fake name of choice and I have 'no comment' because I have nothing to comment on. I am just here loving the sport. I could not sleep last night with the excitement. I am chewing my nails and you so are not going to write that!” (Name changed to protect those who played hooky from work.)

We now return to our regularly programmed blogging.

After much high jinx Brian and I arrived at the ESPN Zone where we were promptly greeted by Judith who does the DC Basketcases blog. She asked us to join her table as there were about 130 people at the event. Washington and Connecticut may have a rivalry, but we are civilized about it.

Lindsey Harding was selected first. Polite applause from the crowd but the oooo with the second selection of Jessica Davenport sparked all kinds of discussions about Ruth Riley and her in the post at San Antonio. Minnesota selecting Noelle Quinn brought gasps from the crowd. There was the surprise choice of the the draft. It was quickly passed by the Liberty’s choice of Tiffany Jackson. That move elicited the comments of “What?” Clearly the fans are not liking the choice.

Dr. Johnson came out to announce they were selecting Bernice Mosby before it was announced on the TV. Dr. Johnson spoke about the future and that they felt that she was the next Delisha Milton-Jones. Her announcement was met with polite applause and heads nodding as the fans quickly got behind the concept of drafting for the future. Linda Hargrove came out to talk about how they had scouted Mosby and the importance of the future of the team. There were constant reference to Milton-Jones. “Mosby plays better as the level of her competition increases,” said Hargrove.

Now as a fan I have to love that the leadership of the Mystics are talking to their fans with respect. GM Hargrove is actually telling the fans their draft order and what thinking went into their decision process. If this respect keeps up, I am going to have to change which team I root for. Especially since the Liberty just killed their fan base with the trade of Becky Hammon to San Antonio, a move that caused some people to say “Are they insane?”

Perhaps the best thing about this party is that the Mystics War Room is also here in the ESPN Zone. It is a mere 100 feet from our table.

Mystics staff keeps popping out to say hello to everyone. Dr. Johnson, the owner, is wandering around shaking hands and talking with people. Trivia questions about the Mystics abound. Get the question right, and you win a t-shirt. A 2007 Draft day Party t-shirt. Yes, the Mystics got the marketing right, they printed special t-shirts just for this party.

One thing that all Connecticut and Mystics fans agree on is we are not happy with Allison Bales going to Indiana. We are going to be seeing far too much of her this season.

FINALLY my beloved Sun select, from Temple, Kamesha Hairston and Sandrine Gruda from France, who may not play this year. Brian and I stared at each other, with jaws dropping.

It would have been nice to have the opportunity for our GM to explain to us what the thought process was behind the Sun’s draft picks. I was impressed with how a simple 2 minute explanation changed fan confusion and disillusionment to fan clarity and support. I know those 130 fans walked out of the ESPN Zone with a positive feeling about their team and they were able to explain to their friends why the Mystics drafted the way they did. Even Brian and I -- die hard, hard core Sun fans -- are excited about the Mystics season.

Coach Richie Adubato spoke to the crowd at the end of the first round. In a fashion moment that requires commentary, the Coach was wearing a teal sea green sweater that he “paid two bucks for.” In a moment that reaffirmed my allegiance to the Sun, Richie spoke about Taj being the best and only player the Sun had. He felt that the Mystics will be able to beat us this year. The coach went on to explain to his fans the game plan for the Mystics for the coming year.

Humph is my response. And that ended my moment of love for the Mystics. Even if they do throw great parties.

And thus endith the first round of the 2007 draft. The conversations continued to flow over the root beer, ice tea and club sodas.

I would like to thank Mystics COO Curtis Symonds for stopping by our table to say hello. He spent 40 minutes chatting with all of us about the team and the upcoming All-Star Game in D.C. He was proud of the fact that Mystics season ticket holders can buy their usual seats for the game. He also was very happy to let us know that the lower bowl is almost sold out and the season hasn’t started yet. So if you are thinking about going to the game, better get your tickets now.

April 16th has open Mystic team try-outs, on April 23rd camp opens at Trinity University and May 13 there is an exhibition game against an Israeli club team.

MINDFUL COMMENT:

“Our motto is take care of our customers so of course we ask them what they want.”

-Curtis Symonds, COO Mystics. Now THERE is a smart man

2007 JEN D DREAMER’S AWARD GOES TO...
Posted: March 20, 2007 10:21 a.m. ET

I have watched a lot of players this season. I figure the first round of the draft has already been decided. Teams know which players are coming out. But it is in round two and three that the little gems in the rough are hidden. And I also realize that for a lot of players it comes down to how their team plays in the NCAA’s. So after tossing a variety of players' names out there, I am going to preach the skills of one player.

I ruled out Amanda Pape because she is too dependent on her teammate Kerri Burke. Sacred Heart’s schedule does not have the depth to prove this kid is more than a big fish in a little pond. Amanda plays the 2 and she looks good on paper but after watching the pros, I do not see this kid making a final roster. There are taller players who have cut their teeth on more challenging schedules. Sacred Heart did not expand its play outside of local teams and conferences, perhaps because of a limited budget or perhaps because it is not a priority for them to become a Top 25 team. I do know that 4 different WNBA teams asked for tape on Pape. The L.A. Sparks showed the most interest but Pape just does not have the physical stuff to handle L.A. ball and the big lights of the big city.

I would have picked Kerri Burke, but she's had too many injuries and not enough recovery. This kid has major heart, but I'd rather see her play in Europe after she has surgery on her knee. This one reminds me of Jen Rizzotti. Kerri is one smart point guard. She sees the floor and improves the performance of all those who play with her. But I think her lack of height and her determination to play through injury is going to cost her in the long run. There is no quit in this kid and I think she would make a good 10-minutes-off-the-bench backup guard. She is of the Jamie Carey mold.

Valerie Nainima is a freshman at LIU-Brooklyn. Ooooooo this kid is going to take that team a long way. She is a 1 or a 2 with speed that has to be seen to be believed. Her 3-point shot is all net no matter how far out you push her. I watched her drain a 3 that had to be at least a 20-footer. And she did it a on regular basis. LIU has done a very interesting job drawing international talent to their program. This is a team to watch over the next few years. I predict she will be a "We have Valerie and you don't" player. As a freshman, I cannot pick her but she is a keeper for a future pick.

The University of Hartford has a couple sophomores and juniors who might make the transition to potential draft picks. But it is for them to decide to pick their game up or not. They are loaded with players that I want to go back and watch next season. Sophomores Lisa Etienne and MaryLynne Schaefer stand out to me. Both are on the short side but Lisa has speed and MaryLynne can drain a 3. The question will be consistency and development. I think the only limitations to growth on these two will be in their own heads as they have Jen Rizzotti as their coach.

Manhattan College also has a sophomore standout in Kelly Regan, who has the one thing that cannot be taught: height. At 6-3 she definitely can grow into a solid power forward on the pro level. I watched her bang hard under the boards to work a win out over Hartford. Unfortunately, the coaches Manhattan College are all former guards. I am hoping they are smart and hire a consultant to teach this post player how to play inside. As smart as coaches can be, sometimes it takes big to teach big. Either way I will be back to watch her play next year.

Yale also has a 6-3 post player. Erica Davis has size, beef, strength and smarts. However she is focused on her studies. Hey, if I was at Yale I would be also. Basketball ends, but a Yale degree is forever. She also is an off-the-bench, good-for-10-minutes-of-hard-play power forward. I would recommend her as a third-round draft pick for teams that are lacking in depth in the 4/5 spot. Or a training camp contract to see if she has the heart for the transition.

So my pick for the 2007 Jen D Dreamer’s Award is....

Crista Ricketts of La Salle. She has lifted her team slightly from a preseason 9th place prediction, but they were unable to progress through their end-of-season tournament.

The Atlantic-10 conference has the likes of Temple with Dawn Staley at the helm and George Washington who went into the NCAA ranked 9th in the nation. That is why I went with Ricketts over Pape. The toughest team Pape faced all season was UConn, whereas La Salle played not only Temple and GW in conference but Penn, Villanova (though they stunk up the bottom of the Big East, it's still the Big East} along with teams from over 9 different conferences (I stopped counting at 9). Sacred Heart played half that number. Five of La Salle’s season opponents earned bids to March Madness. And that says something when you look at Ricketts' stats for the season.

Ricketts has had 8 double-doubles across all of these conferences. She averaged 17 points a game with a 51% accuracy rate from the field and 71% from the line. Add to that 7.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists and a focused determination, you have a solid 2 or 3 player that is good for the 7th man off your bench. I also think that Crista can grow into a Most Improved Player who breaks into a starting position around her 3rd or 4th year in the league.

But then all of this is just my opinion.

Who was your Jen D dreamer this year? Let me know at melissa@melissa-sterry.com

ACTS OF KINDNESS:

Sometimes people do amazing things for veterans. These people built homes for veterans and don’t make a TV show out of it.
http://www.timesonline.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=18034951&BRD=2305&PAG=461&dept_id=478569&rfi=6

MINDLESS COMMENT:

"The truth is more important than the facts." - Frank Lloyd Wright

Query
Posted: February 26, 2007 5:21 p.m. ET

Normally I start my blog with a brief tale and follow it up with a question. This blog starts with a question:

Where are all the retired players? Where are all the former college players? Where have the players in the world of basketball gone?

There is more to basketball than coaching or consulting but I do not see those positions being filled by former players. I do not see a network of players helping players. Nor do I see players moving into the "other" positions within the world of basketball.

The caveat that I put on this question is that to a certain degree I exempt the W coaching positions from this question. I believe that people need to work their way up to coaching in the W. You do not just walk into the head coach position without experience.

So, why is press row at college games not filled with former players? If anyone knows basketball, it is players, yet if there are reporters at any game not involving a Top 25 team, those reporters are male and left over from the earlier men's game of a double-header. I spoke with a local reporter at a game and he was all cocky about how he knew the women's game. Too bad he had no idea who Lauren Jackson was or what team Sue Bird played for. Yes, a local Connecticut male reporter had no idea which team Sue Bird played for but he "knew" the women's game.

Why are the press relations guys, guys? And usually grad students who are new to their degree program but are having to cut their teeth on the women's teams until a position with the men opens up. Where are the women? Where are the alumnae who have returned to spread the gospel of their former team?

Yes, there on the TV sidelines are Lobo, Lawson, Dales and every now and then some other current player. But other than Lobo, where are the retired players? Where are the former college stars?

What about the officials? We all complain about the officials. We all complain about how the skill level of the officials is not keeping up with the physical abilities of the players, yet we do nothing to encourage former players to return to the game wearing the stripes. On the other hand, given how we treat officials on and off the court, I am amazed anyone is willing to be an official. Yet, would not former players make insightful referees? Who better understands the nature of the game?

What about radio commentators? Those who provide the play-by-play? I can name perhaps five retired/former players who provide commentary. And all of them are on the national TV level. What about college? I have heard something about Cooper doing some play-by-play at the college level but... just one? Why is Connecticut not littered with its former players doing commentary? What about Tennessee? What about everywhere else?

What about behind the scenes? I look at the sidelines at team managers, physicians, strength and conditioning coaches, and everywhere I look, I see men. Yes there are a couple of former players involved behind the scenes in the W. But... I can count the number on two hands when there are literally tens of thousands of former college players out there.

If we start with the first women's Olympic team of 1976 as the kickoff point for women's basketball, it can be argued that across Divisions I, II and III, at least 1,000 women finish their basketball careers each year and move into the "former" category. That is 31 years. At least 31,000 former players. That is a lot of people.

Now I am NOT bashing men. I am asking: Where are the former players?

Everywhere I turn, I seen non-players owning women's AAU teams. Men as agents, managers, running tournaments, reporters, lawyers and filling other roles in and around the world of women's basketball. Even sports psychologists are overwhelmingly men and therefore NOT former players.

I do not see the former college players. I do not see the retired WNBA players.

Why? Where are they? Where do they go? What are they doing after the game ends? And why are they not continuing their involvement in the sport in any area other than coaching?

I am not being sarcastic, nor funny, nor burning my bra, but I am asking: Where are the former/retired players?

Are we fans failing in some way to support this sport we love? Are we failing in some way to utilize all the resources available to grow this sport and by extension the WNBA? Are we communicating to players that they can be nothing other than players and coaches and that the only skills they contribute to the world of basketball are based solely on the physical actions of their bodies? Are we inadvertently telling players that they are limited in the options and choices they have in their lives?

Who better to market the W than former players? I know that in the world of politics I can get bigger checks from donors if the candidate is standing there talking with the donor than if the candidate is elsewhere. I also know that if I can not have the candidate, then I need a surrogate, i.e., a mother is my No. 1 choice, but a sibling also works.

However, in the world of sports, sponsors want to shake the hand of their heroes and the sports superstars. Would, say, an executive from, say, a chocolate company want to talk with a suit? Or Kym Hampton? A pencil pusher who has never played a day in her life? Or Cynthia Cooper? Imagine what would happen if Teresa Weatherspoon was in the room instead of in New Jersey designing software for kids.

If you are in Maine looking for a sponsor who deals in lobsters, you had better have Cindy Blodgett standing there. If you are in Connecticut... well Rizzotti, Lobo, Shea Ralph, Rita Williams… I can list names for the next two paragraphs. If you are looking for someone based in Tennessee, try Nikki McCray, Carla McGhee... too many names pop into my head to keep this post around 1000 words. California… Natalie Williams. And so on. You get my point.

So let me put it this way:

Why is Jamila Wideman, who is a housing lawyer in New York, or Sonja Henning, who practices employment and labor law in Oregon, or Heather Owen, who also practices labor law, not lawyers for the WNBA? Or, for that matter, why are they not lawyers for the players' union?

Why is Kristin Folkl the Director of Development for the St. Louis Sports Commission and not the WNBA?

Why is Lynette Woodard doing financial services in the Midwest and not handling the retirement/pension funds of the W or for the players' union?

Pamela McGee, Bridget Pettis, Rhonda Mapp, Lady Harmon, Nikki McCray? The list of names rolls on and on.

Now some teams are smart and have people on the payroll. Penny Toler, who scored the first points ever in the history of the WNBA is the general manager of the L.A. Sparks. Or she was before the new owners. I do not know if she is now. And Sacramento kept Ruthie Bolton-Holifield on their payroll. However, can someone tell me why Teresa Weatherspoon is not on someone's… ANYONE's payroll? Or why Kym Hampton, who scored the first points in Liberty history, is not running motivational clinics for young women sponsored by the W?

And when the W travels to chat with potential new owners, why is there not a former college star from that area, who also has played in the W, not in the room chatting up the greatness of the league?

Now... can someone please tell me where the former players are? And what they are doing? Cause I really want to know.

As always you can reach me at melissa@melissa-sterry.com. Tell me what your favorite former player is doing these days. Cause I really want to know.

ACTS OF KINDNESS:

I heard a great suggestion for an act of kindness the other day. A friend of mine who does not drink coffee donates to the office coffee fund in secret. I like that one.

MINDLESS COMMENTS:

"Humankind cannot stand very much reality."
- TS Eliot. Clearly a man who grew up before there was TV.

Mikes...
Posted: February 23, 2007 1:01 p.m. ET

Here we are in the offseason, and we are counting the days till our next WNBA fix. I have been pondering things that I would do if I were a basketball god. A fancy way of saying, “If I were in charge...”

First off, no more miking of players and coaches in games.

Wait, let me pull those 16 fan knives out of my back for saying that, but hear me out.

While I, the fan, love to hear the inside scoop on everything, perhaps I should not.

It is a ton of fun to hear someone curse and to watch the strategy unfold in the timeouts. I have to laugh as the rest of the world gets to hear Katie Douglas’s mouth that we fans get to hear in the arena when she screams at officials. Or waggle my finger when Bill Laimbeer starts cursing.

BUT....

Should we fans get to hear the things that a coach says to motivate his or her team? We do not know the relationships at play. And nor should we. What Anne Donavon says to motivate Sue Bird is between them, and is not for my voyeuristic ears. What Richie Adubato says to get Alana Bearn fired up should not be heard by Beard’s family. Nobody wants to hear less than flattering things being said to their daughter.

Heck, I am not sure what I would do if Mike said something to “motivate” Jamie Carey and she is not my kid! And all of the coaches in Chicago had better talk nice to my Brooke “who still makes me giggle” Wyckoff, 'cause I will get on a plane and have a few words with you!

THAT is the reason the coaches should not be miked.

Yes, it is fun to hear, but why is television allowed to give away team strategy? My buddy Alison the Liberty fan sits right behind the team bench, and she is always saying, "Ooo the things I know and cannot tell." What if Alison was not so ethical? What if Alison ran around New York spilling her guts about what Patty Coyle says in the huddle? What if Alison gave tips to ESPN or to, say, the Sun. Mmmm Al, I have the e-mail address, what will it cost me to get the play book? But you get my point.

Players should not be miked because no matter how small the mike or the transmitter, it is still on their body and it can interfere with their ability to play. While every techie in the room just said no it can’t, I still say yes it can. Athletes' bodies are finely tuned instruments. From rolling their sleeves to ankle tapes/braces to shorts’ lengths to new shoes vs. broken-in shoes, they all are variables that can impact a performance. And so can a mike, no matter how small.

My finally argument is that the WNBA is a business and not a TV reality series. No one should have access to corporate insider information and that is what is happening between a coach and a player.

As a fan, of course, I am titillated to hear the “scoop,” but as an adult I know what is appropriate. And healthy.

While it might be fun, miking coaches and players is not good for the sport.

ACTS OF KINDNESS:

David Stern, for having the character to say bigoty is not part of the NBA and banning Tim Hardaway for his homophobia.

http://www.transworldnews.com/NewsStory.aspx?storyid=13152&ret=Default.aspx
http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/sports/basketball/16700402.htm

Rock on with your bad self, Mr. Stern.

NOT SO MINDLESS COMMENT:

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
- Nelson Mandela

Meandering...
Posted: February 12, 2007 6:44 p.m. ET

I have been distracted lately. 'Tis the season for the day job. Thankfully legislative season ends right around the time WNBA starts its season. As I scribble this I am on a flight to New Mexico for an eight day speaking tour. I have to admit I freaked the sponsors out a bit when I asked if there was a local women’s basketball game I could take in. I think someone is going to take me to a high school game.

Some updates.

I heard from a very nice fellow named Brandon who is with Sacramento. With great pride Brandon informed me that they have frames available through their online store. Brandon, you get a gold star for smarts and effort.

Cindy from Phoenix let me know that the Mercury gave frames to their season ticket holders. But unlike Brandon, she did not include pictures in her e-mail. But she did have nice things to say. So a silver star to Phoenix. They get a star because they have the frames, but it's silver because they are not available online to fans who do not live in the Phoenix area. I know a few Taurasi fans here in Connecticut who would like a frame.

And a big humph to my beloved Sun. They have the frames in the Sun store that is on site at the casino. But my buddy Brian had to send me a note to tell me they were there. However they are not listed on the Web site.

So I am going to continue to hold the WNBA marketing staff to the standard that the NBA has set. When I can get an Atlanta Hawks game controller for my PlayStation online, then I know someone somewhere knows what they are doing with marketing. So.... {picture me with my arms crossed, tapping my toe and an impatient look on my face}

On to other thoughts...

Can someone explain to me again why players are flying coach? I am in the back of a 727 and at five-foot-four when I am thinking tall, I am cramped in these seats. My bad leg is already acting up. How do all the players with bad knees do it? How does Margo do it? How does anyone over six foot do it? And THEN play a game??? Seriously people, this is a policy that needs to be reconsidered. Hey I loved seeing the Sun in the airport. Jamie Carey made my month when she came over to me and said hello. BUT! I love the game enough to know that these travel policies maybe not be in the best interests of the game any more.

Speaking of schedules... Detroit vs Sacramento on opening day. I just may have to go to Detroit for that game. I say it's a coin toss on who the winner is going to be. Detroit defending in front of a home crowd or Sacramento looking for revenge and respect. Yo or Katie? Tweety or Kara? I will leave this one to the Vegas odds makers and stick to my beloved Sun.

Oh back to marketing... Where are the commercials? Where are the commercials on ESPN or Fox Sports as they show women’s college games? Imagine if you will a commercial that was a highlight reel of nothing but former UCONN and Tennessee players being shown during the UCONN/Tennessee game. And the tag line reads... "WNBA ... Where college stars come to shine." Or some thing along those lines. Or maybe “Miss her? This is where she plays now.” Or a play off of the classic Geno line... ”We have Diana and you don’t.”

TRANSACTIONS:

Jen D signed a contract with Phoenix. Rock on with your bad self, girl.

Katie Douglas signed with the Sun. A big raspberry to Indiana cause your girl isn’t coming home yet.

My Big Girl Le’Coe has a training camp contract. OOoooo I am hoping she can muscle her way on to the team again.

We are all holding our breaths here in CT to hear about what Taj is going to do this season.

And Brian sends me e-mails all the time asking if I think Mike is going to trade Margo. I know how he feels. I was that way when Brooke was snatched by Chicago.

In the meantime we all are watching the transaction page to see the latest and counting the days till training camp opens. 100-99-98...

ACTS OF KINDNESS:

http://www.kansascity.com:80/mld/kansascity/16023431.htm
Kindness should never be random but a way of life. Here is to Santa and his helper.

MINDLESS COMMENTS:

"Any clod can have the facts, but having opinions is an art." - Charles McCabe

License to Laugh
Posted: January 30, 2007 7:11 p.m. ET

I freely admit I stole this from the message board I haunt. Oh wait... "To steal from one is to plagiarize, to steal from many is to do research." I research the living day lights out of this piece. Thank you Linda Ellerbee for the quote. She says she "researched" it from one of the guys she used to work with. I still miss her show from late night back in the 80's. What was the name of that show? Anyone who knows, send it to me at melissa@melissa-sterry.com.

Any way......

So my buddy Brian, Margo's number one fan, is driving down the Mass Turnpike the other day. He was going a little fast. okokokokokokokokokkkkkkkkaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy... he was going very fast. And he gets pulled over. He has to do the license and registration thing and when the police officer comes back to the care, Brian is juggling numbers in his head on how he is going to pay this huge ticket he is envisioning he is about to get.

Nope. Not to be.

God Bless Margo. God bless all 7 feet 2 inches of her.

Cause of Brian's obsession, he has a custom license plate that reads DYDEK. Yes, Brian really loves Margo. And when he is around her, he turns red, giggles, acts like a 14 year old boy and nearly has a heart attack because she likes him and waves or says hello just to him before each game. It warms the cockles of my heart as my grandmother would say.

So why bless Margo?

Because the police officer, who deserves the title of respect and not the lesser choice of ... cop, asked Brian is the plate was for Margo? It seems this fellow journeys down I-395 to the Mohegan Sun for most of the Sun home games. And that he "USED" to be an NBA fan until he discovered the WNBA about 3 years ago. The officer went on to add that he too, enjoys how the women's game is played. So after talking basketball for about 10 more minutes, on the side of the road in the middle of Massachusetts, Brian gets off with a "strong verbal warning"!

Yes I am snickering and guffawing with the rest of you. But do not laugh so hard you snort cause then people at work will wonder what you are doing.

But this story isn't done yet.

The message board goes on to talk about different license plates people want to get to show off their "fan" status. Deanna Nolan and Becky Hammon lead the pack.

So all over Michigan and New York you may see fun plates in the future.

But wait there is more.

So people were talking about variations on a theme about what they want their plates to read. DNOLAN was one option for dealing with Flint. And BECKY25 was another option.

Another of the options was BH25. It turns out that our intrepid adventurer Brian, (what else do you call a straight white boy who travels to D.C. to go to a lesbian New Years Eve basketball party but intrepid?) is now just over the border into New York State on the Merit Parkway, getting some gas, when a woman comes up to him and asks him about his license plate. It seems her plate is BH25 for yes you guessed it, Becky Hammon. And yes, they talked basketball.

So what is on your plate?

After doing more research at my beloved Sun web site, I have to reach out and slap the WNBA marketing people. Where is the fun little frame that goes around your license plate that says the name of your team? I can get one for my small women's college. I can get one from the car dealership. I can get one from any of my old military units but I CANNOT GET ONE FOR THE WNBA NOR MY BELOVED SUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Do you think that might be a problem?

I checked the Mystics site to se if they had one. I certainly found all the links to buy tickets but I had to struggle to find the merchandise link that sent me, yes you guessed it, back to the WNBA store. Hey I can still get a Holdsclaw t-shirt.

Do you think that might be a problem?

Now Chicago has a nice tag line... "Its more than a game, it is a LIFE STYLE!" Cute. Ok you get a silver star for effort. Not a gold cause of lack of product. But good effort.

SO then I thought, Seattle..... they are crazy out there. They will have a license plate thing... nope. And still no Sue Bird shoes.

Do you think that might be a problem?

I guess some smart fan will have to figure out how we fellow fans can get the license frames if we do not get a plate that immortalizes our favorite player.

If I got a WYCKOFF plate I wonder if she would sign it.

ACTS OF KINDNESS:

Now I am a cat person. I haven't had a dog since my beloved Sebastian died while I was in Kuwait. This story reminds me of my puppy and how much I miss him. Save a life. Rescue from your local pound.

MINDLESS COMMENTS:

"There is absolutely no inevitability as long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening." Marshall McLuhan

Hey WNBA Marketing... you can always change your decision making process. And we will love you if you do.

The Blues and Jen D's Dad
Posted: January 27, 2007 9:49 a.m. ET

I have been in a funk the past few weeks. This is not a good time of the year for me. It is anniversary time. I am a Desert Storm veteran. On January 26th, 1992 I was injured in Kuwait. I was among the last 600 troops left and I was part of the transition from war to peace.

I volunteered. I can hear the groans from all the other veterans out there who are now slapping me up side the head across the electronic air ways for volunteering. I can hear the yells of "YOU NEVER VOLUNTEER!" Yes, yes, I volunteered so others could take advantage of our half day to watch the Super Bowl on the brand new BIG screen TV that was installed in the bombed out warehouse that was turned into a mess hall. The com guys had hooked it into the satellite dish and the group commander gave everyone a half day so we could watch the game.

I am not drunk enough to tell you what happened. Suffice as to say it haunts my dreams 14 years later. You know you are having a bad day when a doctor says, "I will not amputate the leg of a woman." I think I was happy sexism occurred but ...

So I am in a funk. Bad memories, bad dreams, my leg hurts, {yes it is still attached}, my house STILL is being worked on {restoring an 1890 Federalist Victorian seemed like a good idea at the time}, presidential campaign season has started {eeny meeny minee mo}, Erin Phillips just went down to an ACL tear, I can't remember the last time I had a date and this global warming thing has to be fix cause there is no snow in Connecticut for ski season.

I also was in a funk about this blog. I have been churning out piece after piece after piece and at times I feel like I am just speaking into the dark night time sky. Just little specks of light that I think are people reading who like what I have to say. Sometimes it gets lonely in the off season. My friends all raise a finger at me and say "If you talk about basketball one more time..."

Can you tell I am cranky?

So I saw my shrink Tuesday morning. Yes I vented. And as I discussed my readjustment blues, she did an amazing thing. Instead of talking about triggers, {things that stimulate bad memories}, or medications to stabilize moods, or the nature of combat and dealing with the fear that comes with being shot at, out of the clear blue sky she asked me who my all time favorite basketball player was.

HUH? I am not sure whose head spun around faster, mine or Linda Blair's in the Exorcist.

What? Who is your all time favorite basketball player? Don't think, just answer the question. Jamila Wideman. Why her? Well because of her determination, because of her scrappy play, because of her commitment to making the world a better place through the usage of the the law and the justice system, because of her loyalty to her brother, cause she is what I hope to be when I grow up.

We talked basketball. Now my therapist is a nice 60 something grandmother. She probable has never touch a basketball in her life let alone actually been to a game. She has no idea what a press is beyond something that crushes grapes/olives etc. To her a post is something that goes in the ground, a guard is someone who works in a prison, and blocks are toys for her grandson.

And I smiled when I left her office. I smiled for the first time in a couple of weeks. Basketball. The season is coming. My basketball family will gather in section 12 again.

Candice knows something. Besides PTSD. Candice knows that basketball is a game that can be transformative. And she reminded me of that. For as bad as that moment was, it is over. For as much as my leg hurts, it is still attached to my body. The house will get fix just not this week. Erin Phillips will have to work hard in rehab. And maybe she will look to the women veterans, who have rehabbed to come back from far worse than an ACL tear, as her motivator to recover from her bad day. Campaign season will make for funny moments. The global warming thing we have to work on but I can always go to Colorado to ski. And maybe just maybe there is a nice 30 something woman out there to loves basketball and who is looking for a date also.

Ok I was laughing when I left. She is a good therapist. But what to do about my blog?

And then I got home. There in my mail box was a note from John Derevjanik. That would be Jen's dad. He wanted to thank me for my piece about Jen. And give me her stats from her final season. He also told me that he sent the piece on to Jen who got a kick out of it.

Well color me ... What are Phoenix's colors again? I guess this stuff does mean something to people. Or at least to parents who are bursting with pride over their kids. Mary Murphy's mom loved Murph's piece. Kesh's dad came up to me after a game and thanked me for her piece. And now John. It seems there are some people who like a little emotion with their stats.

Basketball can be transformative. It can be the commonality we share to bridge our differences. Will Tweety FINALLY dunk in a game this season? Will Phoenix make the playoffs? Who will be drafted number one? Will Katie Smith continue to be the good luck charm at the All-Star Game (every team she has played on has won the game)?

All these questions and more will be answered this season as strangers become friends. The message board I haunt is planning it second annual pre all-star game dinner. Karen the rabid WAshington fan goosed the Washington people who are now working on getting a group rate at a local hotel for fans. And they are looking into a a space for fans to gather to trade ala Olympic Pin Park.

Thank you John for your kind note. It made my day. It got me out of my depression. You reminded me that this is all about dreams and the power of dreams. And that the storyteller’s creed applies to basketball and blogging. So motivated to find my voice and to start talking about basketball, I wandered over to Robert Fulghum’s web site. And there buried in his new stories, was a piece about silence. To recognize that silence isn’t always writers block but rather writers exhaustion. Be silent. Wait. New hope will be found.

And so it is with basketball.

We fans are exhausted. Ownership changes. Expansion. Contraction. Injuries. Dispersal Drafts. Unresponsive front offices. Responsive front offices. The message board is awash with cranky fans snapping at each other. Snarky comments and rude missives fly across cyberland.

Stop. Be silent. Hope will come. The season will be here. Be gentle with each other. Remember it is about the game and not our differences. Lets just plan a great party for Washington in the mean time.

JEN D DREAMER’S AWARD:

La Salle Christa Rickets has turned on the after jets as La Salle moves to 15-5. I checked La Salle’s web site and by my calculations she is averaging 17.4 points, 7.85 rebounds and 2 assists. This kid has heart and is going to make someone a great 2.


ACTS OF KINDNESS:

USO. Volunteers helping soldiers. If you want to actually support troops and not just put a ribbon on your car go check them out.

MINDLESS COMMENTS:

"People that are really very weird can get into sensitive positions and have a tremendous impact on history.
- Dan Quayle.

Out of the mouth of babes... and he could have been talking about basketball.

Blogging
Posted: January 5, 2007 3:34 p.m. ET

Blogging. The art of blogging. What is blogging? There is a huge debut controversy discussion raging across the country these days about blogging. The nature of the electronic medium is the subject of endless op-ed pieces and commentary in newspapers and magazines everywhere.

For those of us who do not know and I was one, blog is short for web log. Blogs can be anything from something as simple as a private or public diary as seen on My Space to sophisticated artist reviews as seen in Straight No Chaser -- A Jazz Show. They can be political as seen in DailyKos or about food as seen in Slashfood. There are even blogs about horses, cats, and dogs.

Blogs were created in the late 20th century and are now becoming a major communication tool of the 21st century. And with that comes a discussion about the nature of a blog. Mainstream media among others dismiss and devalue blogs with the false argument that blogs do not have oversight the way a magazine or newspaper does. Therefore they are not serious journalism, they should be discounted or controlled or avoided.

I have to snicker at this argument. I snicker for several reasons. First and foremost those who scream First Amendment Freedom of the Press are the first to evoke censorship. I snicker because newspapers and magazines are a dying art. As more and more of us move to the internet as the primary source for our information circulation/readership of newspapers is falling. I predict that in another 10 years newspapers will be for the most part small presses that cover local towns. While it is a reflection of a changing society and I for one will miss lying on the sofa reading the paper, my love of the environment and clean air cheers the lowering of demand for paper. Save a tree and all that.

I snicker because people scream about credibility and accuracy. That somehow we bloggers completely disregard the facts. That because we do not answer to an editor we bloggers are going to lie, misconstrue and falsify the truth. That main stream media is the bastion of fair and balanced and accurate no spin facts. Well if Walter Kronkite was still reporting I would buy that but...

I snicker because everyday all across America respectable newspapers have entire sections dedicated to correcting errors. Misprints abound. So while some people want to tell me that if I was a professional (read paid) I would be fired for some of the mistakes I have made in the past.

Can you hear my snickers to that argument? I seem to recall ESPN Sports Center erroneously reporting that it was Katie Douglas who sank the 3 at the buzzer and not Brooke Wycoff. I recall MSNBC reporting that Bobby Knight was about to become the all time winningest coach in all of basketball. One of MSNBC’s most recent mistakes was reporting that the name of LA’s team was the Stars. Yes, the Stars and spelled that way. Love you Matt, but even the WNBA.com web site has had mistakes. The message board I haunt makes a point of surfing the web and finding all these errors, contacting the media outlets and getting corrections when the information applies to women’s basketball. I DO NOT see people getting fired for these mistakes or failures in research.

(editor's note: Wyckoff is spelled with a 'k'. Hmmm. Maybe I should spend less time reading blogs and more time fixing my own mistakes... Anyway, as Bill Cosby said, "just listening for my name...")

I snicker because people fail to understand the most basic component of a blog... opinion. Blogs are the opinions of the authors. Blogs are the modern 21st century blend of a column and an op-ed slapped up on the internet for the entire world to read. The good, the bad, and the ugly are all there for us to talk about. Our greatness, our failures are all open for us to discuss.

I believe that Thomas Paine would be a blogger if he were alive today. A pamphleteer in his day, Thomas discussed the emerging United States in all of our greatness and our ugliness. Paine presented to us in simple language that everyone from a farmer to the leading intellects of his time, ideas about a great society. Everything from an antislavery position to social security to world peace can be found in his writings. Greatest of them all is Common Sense. “These are the times that try men’s souls” stirs us today as much as it did our ancestors.

So as I blog I ask these questions, if I am to be held to a journalistic standard then why am I denied journalistic access? If I am to be denigrated for being a fan, then why are people trying to stop me from attending fan events? Because I will write about them? Does being a professional mean that I cannot write because I love something so much I give it away for free?

Indeed Thomas, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Times that perplex the heart. Times that challenge the mind.

So to those who read this blog, to those who aspire to write a blog, here are the standards that I hold myself to, not just in blogging but every time I form an opinion about anything.

1. Check your facts to the best of your ability. 3 media sources or 2 staff sources. Ponder before you leap. Remember the frying pan and the fire. Do not settle for a few “facts” but read and read some more. Contemplate. Then formulate.

2. Keep it positive. Anyone can destroy. Building is the challenge. It is not enough to say what is wrong, say what can be done to improve that which you complain about. Don’t b#$%^t if you ain’t gonna fix.

3. Find what we all have in common. Hate and fear divide, love brings together.

4. Write from the heart. Passion shared. No need to get erudite. Remember Thomas Paine took the complex and explained it to people while challenging intellects.

5. Strive for my personal standard for writing. Be the cross between Robert Fulghum, Thomas Paine and Mechelle Voepel. Find your own standard and live up to it.

6. Have someone from your list of trusted friends read your blog before you post to make sure you did not go to far. I have picked only those who I have had tell me I was full of it in the past. Never have yes people in your life, you will not improve. Have the people who love you but will tell you when there is toilet paper on your shoe, your fly is unzipped, hand you a breath mint, or let you know you have something caught in your teeth. The person who lets you be embarrassed is no friend.

So that is my “professional” standard that I strive to hold myself to. I do this out of love. And love should be unconditional. The question should not be paid verse unpaid, it should be is the writing to a standard? In the main stream media there are bad journalists, plagiarists, and unethical writers just as there are in the electronic on line media.

The criteria for good writers is not are they paid and have editors, but rather it is wither or not they have ethical standards, reliable sources and check their facts. It is as ridiculous to say that I cannot write my opinions because I am unpaid and do not have an editor as it is to say that all paid journalists are whores to those who sign their pay check.

So hense forth, I am an electronic essayist who writes opinion pieces. But then blogger is so much easier to say.

JEN D DREAMER UPDATE:

Now that the holidays are over with, play has resumed. Amanda Pape is averaging 18 points and 7 rebounds a game. However she is shooting .358 from the floor but .800 from the free throw line. I have to scratch my head over these stats... for the season she has had 42 assists, 47 steals and 46 turnovers. Talk about balanced. On the other hand fellow senior Kerri Burkke has been dealing with injuries which puts extra pressure on Amanda’s performance.

ACTS OF KINDNESS:

Wesley Autrey, former US Navy, handed his daughters to a stranger to jump on the subway tracks of New York City to rescue a young man having a seizure. While the he has now been on Letterman, received gifts, and acclaim, it is his attitude that catches my heart and admiration. He told Letterman's audience it was just "something that all New Yorkers should do." "How are you going to walk by someone who's ill and just look - 'Oh, well, I'm busy, I've got to go to work'?" "Good things happen when you do good."

Click here for more.

MINDLESS COMMENTS:

“Love is my religion.”
-Ziggy Marley

Says it all doesn’t it?

Road Trip
Posted: January 3, 2007 2:14 p.m. ET

What did you do to bring in the New Year? Party? Champagne? A kiss at midnight? Make a resolution for the coming year? A sacrifice to the basketball gods for your team to draft well, and win a ring this year? Burn an effigy of the coach/official/front office staff member you hate?

Well I went on a road trip to DC. Brian, Margo’s fan, and I took a trip to DC to hang with crazed basketball fans including Karen and her partner, Susan. So if you can envision one volvo station wagon loaded with New England seafood for a home cooked meal celebrate tooling down I95, singing to a variety of tunes, talking basketball. Middle age road trip. We waved at ALison the Liberty fan as we drove through New Jersey. She wanted to come along but year end job requirements were to much for her. So she was in her house waving her Liberty ball cap over her head in solidarity with us.

I have to admit I was a little nervous about spending six to eight hours in a car with Brian. After all with does a lesbian have in common with a straight white boy? Nothing. But basketball.

So we get there. Unload. And settle in for Karen and Susan’s neighborhood dinner party. We met all kinds of your basic neighbors. Lots of food and booze. What do an Intellectual property lawyer, an energy lobbyist, a police dispatcher, a UN translator, a veterans advocate have in common? Nothing. But basketball.

I got to hold a four week old baby as he slept. I started telling him about basketball as the guys were watching the football game. I told him about Auntie Karen’s love of Alana Beard. And how Auntie Susan was also a Mystics fan and that the Mystic were probably going to be the first game he attends. Uncle Brian has a thing for Margo who is 7’2” to his 21” but that was going to be ok cause Margo was very nice and very gentle and over time he was going to grow to be taller than 21 inches. Maybe not as tall as Margo but that was ok cause he would be special in his own way. Nothing. But basketball.

New Years Eve was spent watching the triple over time game between the Houston Comets and the Phoenix Mercury. SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER..... Move to the next paragraph if you want to watch the game... The game was boring until the tail end of the fourth quarter. Diana Taurasi got the press but the game was all Michelle Snow. She was a rebounding machine for the Comets. The girl just willed Houston into the game. And irony appeared when Kelly Miller won the game at the free throw line. Free throws won that game. Calm cool collected focused free throws. So if ever there was a moment to point at to get kids to practice their shots from the foul line that was it.

We had to be reminded to switch over to public television to watch the ball come down. And I got to kiss Brian at New Years. How sweet was that? An aside to all the straight women out there... he is single and he is a good kisser.

Now some of the more interesting moments were watching lesbians trying to explain to a woman from Cameroon who speaks only French, what a thong is. Eugenie is here seeking political asylum and Karen is doing her case pro bono. But she understood basketball because her daughter plays. Nothing. But basketball.

Over and over again I am reminded that we are more alike then we are not alike.

Straight white boy, a few lesbians, a couple of lawyers, add an IT whiz, an emergency response dispatcher, an accountant, massage therapist, and me your friendly neighborhood blogger to discover our commonality. Nothing. But basketball.

For it is when we find our commonality that a transformative experience can occur. Yes, basketball can be transformative. It can get us through divorces, deaths, wars, depression, teen age angst, elderly loneliness, the list is endless. In a world filled with what seems to be a never ending flow of the worst we humans can be, women’s basketball shows us the best we can be. That doesn’t mean there isn’t an ugly underbelly to this world. But so far we are trying to hold off the barbarians at the gates.

We fans are stepping up to grow this league. We bring our friends, our bosses, our family both of blood and of choice to games to cling to nothing but basketball. A couple of fans bought a team last year. And rumor on the message board is that another fan is going to buy HIS home town team. The Maloofs have publicly said they are committed to their Monarchs and believe that there is money to be made in owning a WNBA team. I have to chuckle as the championship rings the Brothers wear are from their WOMEN'S team and not the men’s. It reminds me of a joke we have here in Connecticut about the college game... Where men are men and the WOMEN are Champions.

There are other rumors abounding out there about new places for teams and new ownership. And of course teams are folding and moving. But then teams are always moving in other professional sports so why should the W be any different.

Here we are at the beginning of the 2007 season. Teams can now talk to players, contracts are being worked out, schedules are being finalized, players are flying to Europe for tune ups for the W season, college teams are moving into conference play, fans are looking closer at the potential draft picks...

I wish everyone a good basketball season. I hope we continue to grow the league, support our favorite player, scream our brains out for our favorite team, buy our teams, and just plain have fun.

After all, its nothing but basketball.

ACTS OF KINDNESS:

Brian brought a certain good luck charm that was placed on the dashboard of my car. We had no accidents, or speeding tickets. The traffic was light and it was a smooth ride to DC. Nice choice of dashboard decoration.

MINDLESS QUOTE:

"Maybe I should have given a fake name.”
-- Nadia, at the party, upon learning I was a fan blogger.

For The Fans
Posted: December 27, 2006 10:38 p.m. ET

Are you jonesing for your fix? Do you scan the newspapers and the internet looking for the latest news about your team and your favorite players? I am . I need a fix like a junkie needs a fix. I got my expansion set of trading cards from Rittenhouse but it isn’t enough.

So I surfed youtube for my fix since nothing is to be found on the Dot Com site nor the team web sites. Here are just some of the selections I found. From fans to fans for fans... nothing but all W. If your team isn’t listed it is because I could not find anything for your team.

Hey Marketing... THIS is what I am talking about!

BASKETBALL!

WNBA

Some Sun

2006 overview

Ladylike

Luggage

Funny

All-Decade

The Dish

Moments

Have You Seen Her?

Silly Mascots

Little Rascals:

1. Cooper and Tina

2. Lisa Leslie

3. Swoopes

Some more All W

Seattle

New York Liberty

LA/Seattle

Connecticut Sun

Sacramento

Phoenix

Detroit

Minnesota

San Antonio Silver Stars

All-Rookies

Of Course some more Sun

Katie Douglas

Lisa Leslie

Teresa Weatherspoon

Erin Thorn

Diana Taurasi

Becky Hammon

Katie Smith

Lauren Jackson

Deanna Nolan

Chamique Holdsclaw

Erin Buescher

I am a Sun fan so here is some more.

And Finally.....

From a fan from the board I haunt..... O][K you da’ bomb!

LONG LIVE THE WNBA!

ACTS OF KINDNESS:

Title IX
Enough said.

MINDLESS COMMENTS:

“They had to pass a law for us to play sports? No way. And they had to pass a law for women to vote? That’s stupid. Now you are telling me they had to pass a law for us to go to college? Now I know you are lying.” 13 year old girl. May she never know otherwise.

WNBA Players supporting Title IX.

Open House
Posted: December 26, 2006 3:10 p.m. ET

This post was originally written the 8th of December. I forgot to send it in and it has been sitting in my “ready to be posted” file since then. I am finally getting out from under this bronchial thing. That's my excuse and I am sticking to it!

I hope everyone has had a happy holiday and it counting down to the New Year. Not just cause it is the New Year but because it is my understanding that come January 1st teams can start talking with their players about new contracts.

Woo Hoo. Let the transactions begin! But in the mean time... some fan stuff.


I delayed my normal Friday post because I knew I was going to the Sun open house Friday night (December 8th) for season ticket holders and future season ticket holders. If you were not there boy did you miss a good time. For those of you who are not Sun fans, you so need to go to your teams open house. If your teams does not have one of these, then ask them why.

We got to run around the arena, check out the various seats that were available. Talk with the ticket sales people and soak in the arena. Brian, Margo’s number one fan, showed up also and we hung out catching up. We got to watch fans join the season ticket holders “club”.

How cool was that?

The Sun are really stepping up their relationship with we fans. They are recognizing the importance of our support. Up on the screen there was a loop of highlights from the past season. Both Brian and I ooooooed and aahhhhhhhed over them. It was great to get a small fix of the Sun in the off season. Please may I have more? And when are teams going to sell DVDs of the past season highlights?

The lower bowl is almost full with STHs. They “flagged” available seats with 8x11 colored pieces of paper. The prices dictated the color of the paper taped to the seats. The sales rep said that the number of STH has dramatically increased.

How cool is that? People say the league is in trouble. I say my {insert name of piece of anatomy}.

Did we want to upgrade? Did we want to purchase more seats?

Brian and I ran around like we were 6. Of course we were giggling. Hey we were kids and this was our Christmas.

I sat in Brian’s seats in section 28 row k. Nice view. I could see the entire court and there was no need to do want I call the tennis neck --- look left, look right, look left, look right...

Then Brian sat in my seats.

Yes I am snickering still. According to Brian I have the best seats in the house. Yes I do.

How cool is that?

I am high enough off the floor to not be blocked by people walking in front of me and low enough to see and hear everything. Brian liked the seats so much he ran, yes ran, over the the ticket people to see if they had any seats in the area that were open. He also was mumbling something about Margo being better able to see his signs.

Kids. Christmas.

Let me know when you visit Connecticut. I will let you sit in my spare seats.

So we snuck on to the court and sat on the Sun bench. They are comfortable chairs. Somehow I expected more. I can’t tell you what I expected but something more. Yes Brian had to find Margo’s seat. I have to laugh at us myself as we stood there counting down the chairs going... Coach, Bernadette, Hawk, Erin, Ashja, ...who is next? Jamie or Le’Coe? Then Megan and Laura. Who ever is in street clothes... ok here. This is where she sits.

Yes Brian sat in Margo’s seat. And I sat in Jamie’s.

How cool is that?

The floor is interlocking pieces. When you get close to the floor you can see where the grooves fit together. I had to wonder if it effected dribbling if the ball hits those cracks. It is weird things that pop into my head at times. The court side seats are really comfortable. They are better than the player's seats. They are 100 per game per seat. Ironically the seats that are in between the home beach and the scoring table, that are rumored to go for 1700 per seat per game, have a really crappy view. On the other hand you get to hear everything in the huddles and from the bench. But I am not sure I want to hear everything that goes on. I am not sure I would want the responsibility for respecting the privacy of the huddle. Come to think of it, I am not sure it is a good idea to have those seats down there. But that is a different blog.

And then Mike T. joined us.

How cool was that?

So he chatted with we fans for awhile. No I am not going to tell you what he said. But it was nice to know Brian and I guessed right what areas the Sun are looking to develop. Lots of questions. It was fun listening to how the coach perceives his players. No I am not going to tell you. See the things you miss when you don’t go to these open houses. And I am certainly not going to give away the Sun play book for next season! But then it isn’t like I have a copy. Just the things that were talked about.

So if you get a chance to go to an open house, do so. It was a great experience.

ACT OF KINDNESS:

Mike T. coming up to me before he spoke to the crowd, giving me one of his special hand shakes, and whispering in my ear to let me know he reads my blog. How cool is that? The moment made me so giddy, it took me a while to come down from fan heaven and I missed Mike’s 8 p.m. deadline. He wanted to read about the event when he got home. I will do better next time, Coach.

MINDLESS QUOTES:

"I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious."
--Einstein Nothing mindless about that man.

Holiday Shopping
Posted: December 21, 2006 6:52 p.m. ET

Tis the season and all that jazz. But I am sick as a dog right now with a bronchial thing. I sound like I am coughing up a lung. I am to sick to go out to shop. I am stuck in my bed, with the cats, trying to figure out what I can order for people from on-line. So I figure I would check out what the teams are offering for this holiday season, that we fans can get for ourselves or to give as presents. Because nothing says I Love You to a non sports fan like a throw rug of your favorite team.

So while everyone is trying to figure what to get whom for the holidays, here are some possibilities from teams. All information has been pre approved by the names listed or this information can be found on the teams web site.

At the top of the list has to be Phoenix!

1. The DVD of the Triple Overtime game. The Phoenix Mercury have solved the out of town problem and they are working with the local Boys and Girls Club so we fans can donate our tickets to kids to see the games.

We buy 10 tickets for 100 dollars from:

Lisa Kowalewski
201 E. Jefferson Street
Phoenix, AZ 85004
LKowalewski@phoenixmercury.com

and Linda gives the tickets to the Boys and Girls Club of Phoenix. Send her an e-mail with your contact information and she will get back to you. Tell her Melissa sent you. And don’t forget to use your WNBA Discover card.

2. Also from the Phoenix we can give a little as well. The Mercury are working with a local nonprofit named Florence Crittenton. This organization has been working with youth and their needs for the last 70 years. This year is a shoe drive. So pick up a pair while you are christmas shopping and donate it.

“Fans can drop off donated shoes at the Mercury’s fan table at Chase Field on Monday, Dec. 18 when Arizona State University's women’s basketball team hosts Texas Tech for an outdoor contest at 7 p.m. Fans can also drop off shoes at US Airways Center during normal hours of business operation by calling 602-514-8349.”

Oooooo it looks like this could be a fun holiday. Stocking stuffers abound!

3. The Detroit Shock have podcasts of the Championship games. It looks like they are free downloads. But then I am so technically challenged I am not ever sure what a pod cast is.

4. Lets try west coast.... ok the Sparks are in transition.....

Ok lets try this alphabetically...

5. Ahhhhhh Charlotte... no more... Anyone got a spare 10 million? I sooo want to buy this team. Now THERE is a heck of a christmas present. Buy the team and give it to your favorite Charlotte fan! If LA can do it so can you!

6. Chicago.... ok no one got back to me from marketing.

7. C..... D..... Houston! {Searching web site} Community? Nope. OOOoooooooo I can write to the CEO and ask her a question. Seatssssss..... mmmm nothing.

8. Indiana! Surely the Fever have something. Ask the Fever, Vote for Catch’s picture, camps for kids... nothing.

Maybe this wasn’t a good idea. No. That can’t be. I mean I always see ads were I can get DVD’s of a season highlights from baseball teams. The year in review for football.

Or am I confused by Sports Illustrated? Those football phones always make me laugh.

9. Minnesota! Surely Minnesota. After all I got a great blanket from eBay... Season tickets and my credit score from a very large ad. OK that would be a no.

10. Seattle, Sacramento...


Blogs everywhere. Hey Matt you started something! Looks like everyone is blogging.

I could go on and on dripping in mockery and sarcasm. Not about blogs as they are important communication tools for this decade.

But before teams contact me and tell me all the things they did this season to give back to the community, I say... where was it on your web site cause I sure could not find it. And how did you try to get your fans involved? Cause I sure could not find the information and I was looking.

I try very hard to write positive stuff. I try very hard to take about what the league can do to improve. Maybe it is because I am running a fever. Maybe a bit of the baahhhh humbug is coming out of me.

Or maybe the league, and the team marketers need to start taking their product seriously.

I am so sick and tired of wasted opportunity after opportunity. It seems like only Donna O and Matt Wurst get it about how important the WNBA is to its fans. Donna writes to us and Matt lets us blog. Much to the ire of certain league personal.

Maybe Linda Kowalewski and the Mercury are the only team marketing people who get it. Or maybe she and they got down right lucky.

All I see this holiday season is buy season tickets. I have mine thank you. So now what are you going to do for me? Cause I got news for people... it is fans like me and the lovely cast of nut balls I write about, that keep showing up. We not only buy our tickets, we buy:

The jerseys {Brian and Margo for 925},
The trading cards {Dave and you have NO idea how much money he has spent},
The stalking tours {Karen and Susan and their friends hotel, gas, food, tickets}
The bus trips to All-Star games, play offs, even the games just up I95 for the east coast people {Washington and their 100 plus people led by their team owner Dr. Shelia Johnson}
The team paraphernalia {sweatshirts, t-shirts, bobble heads galore...}

The lack of men’s sizes is insulting to all the men who come to the games because it refuses to acknowledge they exist.

The lack of space in the NBA store is insulting to all the fans out there because is says we do not care enough to spend money.

Linda Kowalewski had a long conversation with me about the DVD and the tickets for kids. She wanted to know if there were other people who would be interested in the same deal.

Ahhhhh YEAH!!!!!!

The not so funny thing was she was surprised to hear that some one from Connecticut might be interested in the game. Let alone pay 100 dollars to get a copy of it.

I am still sobbing with the thoughts that went through my head. Maybe they never head of UCONN out there? NNaaaaaaa, that can’t be it.

San Antonio was the only team to get back to me when I tried to call marketing people to find out what was out there.

Even my beloved Sun failed. {stifling a sob}

I have presents to buy dang it! The SASS marketing person was quite polite. She thought a season highlight tape was a great idea and they will work on that for next season. Thank you for your time Leigh Anne. It was nice trading e-mails with you. I hope you have a great time in Prague.

To the rest of the league, even my beloved Sun, GET YOUR HEADS OUT OF CERTAIN ORIFICES! You are wasting opportunity after opportunity to sell your teams to the fan market.

How do you get those people who came to one game to come to more? You get them a DVD highlight reel to show them what they missed. The people who bought the Family fun pack will move to season ticket holders. When you show them what they missed.

Hey New York, you missed getting new ticket holders cause I could not send something to Gordon to show him why he needs to take his boys to the Garden instead of hanging out and playing computer games.

Tickets. Everyone has tickets. You go to the Atlanta Hawks site, there are sweats, caps, wool caps, blankets, clocks, covers for the pool table, even a Hawks game controller for the video games to go with those tickets.

But on the Seattle page, I have to get to page 3 before I find women’s sneakers. I have yet to find Sue Bird’s shoe.

Gee do you think listing women’s players shoes on the team web site might be a good idea? Ya’ THINK???????

You want the W taken seriously? Then take yourselves seriously. A couple of fans take the W so seriously they bought a team.

That's right people in the front office! Wake up smell the coffee, it is the start of the SECOND Decade of the W and the FANS are investing. Keep making us mad. We just might be your boss next week. Or we might just go back to college ball where we are respected. How’s that working for you New York? That whole disrespecting your season ticket holder thing?

There are people out there who see what a good thing this is. There is a gentleman in Houston trying to buy the team. People in Arkansas trying to buy a team.

WE ARE TRYING TO BUY YOUR PRODUCTS BUT YOU ARE BUSY MAKING FUN OF US INSTEAD!

I still haven’t gotten over some of the things I overheard some suits say about we fans at the bar in the Discover Fan Lounge.

That’s right people, keep making fun. Some of the Mystics fans are IRS agents!

So here it is, in plain simple language...

Marketing is the life blood. Sell to your base. This is something every successful politician knows ... Preach to the choir because it is how you get them to sing!

I get paid major money to give this kind of advice to politicians. You are getting it for free. That is how much I love this game.

I have tried blog after blog to give this league something to put into the hands of sponsors that says we WNBA fans are loyal and will buy your products.

So again I say to the sponsors, invest in this league. Ask Discover how much I put on their card these days. I found out who Russell was since the All-Star game. I went out and bought new t-shirts that I paid for with my WNBA Discover card. The cashier that it was great and the people in line behind me had to check it out also.

But what do we fans get from our team and our league for all this loyalty?

I do not know. I am still waiting to see what is under the tree this year. Maybe the New Year will bring new a new spirit with it, to start off our second decade.

POST SCRIPT:

I sent this blog to my friend Karen the Mystics fan to see if I went to far in my rant. Her reply was so elegant that I had to add it.

I LOVE it! I gotta say the Mystics' guy was really cool when I ordered the Holiday Pack for Charlotte (who scored the game winning shot in her first varsity scrimmage with .24 seconds left on the clock Friday night, by the way).

I will also tell you four other pieces of info:

(1) At our annual corporate group holiday party today, where the "gag" gifts have to be somehow related to the recipient's personality, I received an "Official NBA Trivia" book, with a post-it note attached: "Sorry. I couldn't find anything from the WNBA." Pathetic that everyone in my 400 attorney law firm knows I love the WNBA, and the poor person who drew my name actually was willing to buy something, but couldn't.

(2) Susan is very annoyed because she can't find anything WNBA-related, that I don't have already -- we did the summer/winter clothes swap thing a couple weekends ago and I found I have 2 dresser drawers full of Mystics' t-shirts, etc. (that didn't get packed away with the rest of the t-shirts, of course). I do not have the same problem when buying things for Susan: Ferrari and Maserati have just about anything you'd want with their logos splashed all over it.

(3) We had to go to an almost all-male basketball camp to go to an adult camp. Where is the WNBA adult weekend challenge camp? Wouldn't I pay $3,000 to go to that?

(4) I WON the most coveted award at basketball camp! I won a gift certificate for a FREE pair of New Balance basketball shoes. That {stuff’s} worth like $120, which makes the $575 it cost to go to the camp downright cheap! Ummmm . . . what's the problem? Well, New Balance only sells 2, yes 2! pairs of women's basketball shoes on their entire web site . . . and . . . I cannot even find them in any sporting goods store anywhere in the city to try them on and see what size I'd need! I read somewhere that there are now as many high school girls playing basketball as boys -- please tell me that my size 7.5 foot is not at least smaller than 1/ 5 of the senior high school girls on the court. Where the heck do they get their shoes???

Full Disclosure: okay, I actually have about 5 pairs of basketball shoes. Why? Because they're so damn hard to find that I buy them anytime I see them at any price, even if I have to lug them back home on an airplane.

So, bottom line: yes, I'm fed up as well! I'm sorry you're not well. Here's hoping a couple of glasses of scotch will fix ya right up!!

*********************

Trust me when I say that someday Karen will have had enough, and she and Tammy will buy a team. 10 million is chump change to them.

Does the WNBA have a scotch sponsor? {cough cough sneeze}

JEN D DREAMERS UPDATE:

No hoops updates. Finals.

ACT OF KINDNESS:

My buddy Brian the college student who sat with me in the ER one night. He held my hand and studied for a final at the same time. There is a good man in the making.

MINDLESS COMMENTS:

“Why does the WNBA web site have a 'WNBA Calendar" that lists personal appearences by players but no link or details ?” A New York Liberty fan
-- nothing mindless about THAT comment

Meet The Fan
Posted: December 19, 2006 8:22 p.m. ET

Dani, better know as "Da Kid" by the posters on the board I haunt, with Cappie on Draft Day. Dani is a lefty, and plays on her sixth grade travel team. She was invited to the 2006 Draft because her room won a contest in Sports Illustrated for Kids for best sports room. Da' Kid doesn't have posters in her room, she has signed jerseys. She also collects signed flooring squares. They are ever changing as her favorites are changing. Someday Da Kid will either own a team or be a GM for a team. If her dad has his way, it will be own.

12-14-06: Dear Fellow Fans,
Thanks for the notes. My heart is fine. I have been fighting the flu. Lots of changes going on this past week. Yes, I will be writing about them but in the mean time something for us to think about in this holiday season...

Old School
Posted: December 14, 2006 6:54 p.m. ET

Ten years. Hard to believe isn’t it. It has been ten years since Lisa Leslie and Teresa Weatherspoon went at it in the first game.

Penny Toller scored the first points in WNBA history. She now is the GM of the Sparks. Kym Hampton score the first points for the New York Liberty. She now has a family.

Life changes.

This blog was going to be about Kym and her life and how things have changed and what she is doing after life in the WNBA. Instead she schooled me. There she is... one more time. Teaching and leading. Old School.

In a previous blog I wrote about Kym and her remembering Allison the Fan ten years later. And it got me wondering about how players and fans have changed over the past ten years. I have been contemplating how things have changed. How did we move from the love fest that existed the first couple of years of the league to something that is beginning to be unsettling and unsatisfying to both lovers. Is divorce imminent as seen in the falling attendance numbers? Or is the relationship changing?

I say as with all relationships, the one between fans and players is changing.

I was lucky enough to listen to Kym talk about the first time someone asked her for her autograph. It was literally the day after the first game. The day before she could eat out, hang with her friends, and be human. The day after, she had people asking her for an autograph while she was trying to eat her dinner with a friend.

At first Kym was willing to give up her personal time to engage in a mutual love fest with fans. The newness of the league... the newness of having fans... the “Oh my gosh, you really want my autograph.” made for some heady moments. The euphoria of the honeymoon so to speak.

But as with marriages, honeymoons end.

I am not going to rant about and at players, I am going to chat with you my fellow fans. Alison the Liberty fan hooked me up with her friend Kym and Kym schooled me until I “got it” so to speak. I have been pondering the things Kym said to me until this blog.

We need to change. We the fans need to change. We need to remember that if we love a player enough to ask for their autograph, then we love them enough to understand players are humans also.

The season has become compressed. The wear and tear on players has increased. The stresses have increased. By the time a player gets out to chat with fans after a game, they have done the following:

a) played a game with all of the emotional stuff that goes with it
b) dealt with media and all the stupid questions and stress that goes with it
c) dealt with teammates and all the craziness that goes with having 12 sisters and one bathroom...
d) dealt with 12 sisters and all the fights and love that go with it
e) showered
f) dealt with coach yelling or not yelling as the case maybe
g) dealt with front office requirements

Now when I was in the Army we would boast about doing more by 9 am than others did in a day, but to do all of those “its” in a 4 hour window is insane. That is so more than be all you can be. So to then hang out with fans, take care of everyone from photos to autographs while having family to meet somewhere for dinner and trying to get there BEFORE the kitchen closes is really more challenging than jumping out of an airplane. At least parachutes are around for soldiers.

I remember Debbie Black doing her darnedest to speak with everyone of her fans. I think players have every intention to take care of their fans but there is a lot of interference at times. And I think we fans need to be more aware of the interference. Trying to ask Becky Hammon for an autograph after she twisted her ankle probably was not a good idea. If your favorite player just went 0-12 from the floor, they might not be in a good mood after the game. So instead of asking for a picture you might want to just say “We love you.” Or “Hang in there we know you had a bad game and are going to do better in the next one.”

Heck you and I have bad days all the time. And don’t we need to have someone say “Its ok. I still love you and I know things are going to get better.”? So why are we not willing to do that for our favorite player?

We need to remember that a players personal issues may cause problems with interactions with fans. When I discovered my last girl friend cheating on me I was soooooo not a happy camper. I was taking organic chemistry at the time and I found this out the afternoon before my finals. Gee how do you think I did with that test? And how civilized do you think I was with my friends? If someone had asked me for a photo or an autograph I would have hurt them.

At the beginning of the season players are dealing with questions like “Am I about to be cut?” How nice are you when you get out of work and think you might be fired tomorrow when you go back? And as I write this I realize players are actually dealing with this question all season long.

How about your family flying in to meet you? Sue Bird definitely wants to catch up with her family when she is in New York to play. Let’s just say I would rather have pissed off my best friend then be late for a dinner with my grandmother. She was a tough cookie that brooked no disrespect. Manners were everything and there was no way I wanted Grandma to look at me and sigh with disappointment. So Sue wanting to skip fans after that game makes loads of sense to me.

We fans need to help negotiate boundaries with the players. We need to respect them not just professional level but on a personal level also.

Front offices need to do more to help with this relationship. With attendance being an issue, better communication between fan and team is vital. If the front office does not have an intern to keep the web site up to date with player appearances, then the front office needs to let a season ticket holder step up to volunteer some time to keep the web site up to date. We fans need to use the web site more to find out when and were our favorite player is going to be as that is a time that is more conducive to conversations, photos, and autographs.

Speaking of autographs, if you are over the age of 14 and you already have your favorite player signature, do you really need another? There are some people who are after every game looking to get {insert name of super star payer} to sign yet another card or ball.

In keeping with my grandmother’s teachings, manners are everything. We fans need to say please and thank you. Not just more but all the time. We also need to police ourselves. If you know the jerk at the head of the line is collecting to sell on eBay and that the family with the 12 year old girl behind you, drove in from Minnesota to see Lindsay Whalen play... then tell Lindsay that. And let the family move in front of you. You will be there for the next game. They won’t. And you KNOW the jerk with the carry on duffle game loaded with balls, pictures, and cards is going to be back trying to make a buck off of your fan love fest.

So as in all relationships, think about what is going on in the players life that maybe have an influence on the moment before you think someone is a jerk.

One of the things I learned in my conversation with Kym Hampton was how important we fans can be to players. When they are playing an away game and there we are behind the visitors bench, it gives the players an extra blast of energy. We fans can, at times, provide players with a sense of grounding ... a sense of home because there we are, familiar faces, saying someone who cares about “you” the player. And when our beloved {insert name of team here} is playing at home, our cheers can lift the level of performance as it motivates players to live up to the expectations of our fan love fest.

We fans need to grow up a bit. And have positive healthy fanships with our favorite players. As in all relationships we need to respect boundaries, communicate in a positive way, and be supportive. Expecting players to interrupt their meals, be late to meeting family, including us in their personal lives are all inappropriate and underlines the love.

On a final note, I am going to spank the front offices and the league a wee bit. As Season Ticket Holders Katherine Goodman and Carla Christofferson have demonstrated, you never know when someone is going to go from fan to your boss. We fans need to change our expectations but the league and the front office need to change how they treat us.

This love fest needs to continue but in a healthy way. And that is what Kym Hampton taught me, the fan, about old school.


ACT OF KINDNESS:

Kym Hampton for talking to me for an hour while feeding the kids. Thank you for letting me into your life a wee bit. I hope I have communicated your lessons.

MINDLESS QUOTES:

“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”
-Nelson Mandela

The BIG Girls
Posted: December 4, 2006 12:19 p.m. ET

At 5 foot 4 inches while I think tall I am fascinated by the BIG girls. I am amazed by Margo. Stunned by Brooke, Kesh, Taj, heck, by any lass who stand 6-foot or taller has me grinning. What it must be like to not have to have step ladders around the kitchen or the house for that matter? How cool is it to not have to ask someone to help you change the light bulbs.

When I was on active duty I was a little thing. A puff of air would blow me across the battle field. At a whopping 145 pounds, I could barely handle a combat load of 80 pounds. I was little and I knew it. Today I am just short and trying to get back to little. Nothing like a bad heart to screw up an exercise program.

So I grin like a fool when ever I am around the big girls. I love Le’Coe’s smile and in a fun way it cracks me up that she can pat me on the top of my head like I was an errant two year old. I love it when Margo slaps a shot into the press table. Nothing like the sweet graceful hook shot to make me cheer.

While we can argue about the quality of the point guards in the league the one thing almost everyone can agree on, is we need more big girls in the league. Lots of smooth shooting 2 guards out there. Nothing like a graceful cuts of a stop and pop jumper from a 3 forward.

But the bangers. The girls who can power to the inside or who can swat the shot back into the shooters face. There are never enough of the BIG girls.

So thanks to one of the posters on the message board I haunt, here are some of the BIG girls in the 2007 draft. In alphabetical order;

Alison Bales 6'7, Duke

Jessica Davenport 6'5, Ohio State

Tiffany Jackson 6'3, Texas

Lasma Jekabsone 6'3, Florida International

Lauren Neaves 6'2, Rice

Brooke Smith 6'3, Stanford

Carla Thomas 6'3, Vanderbilt

Of course I have my question... where are the BIG girls from the little schools?

Does this mean that unless you go to a major basketball powerhouse the W will not look at you? Scouts will not look at you?

Maybe. Maybe not.

The Dot Com site list several players from “small” schools as potential draft picks. 3 rounds in the draft means 42 players will be drafted this year. Now THAT is some intense competition.

Does that mean only teams who make it to the NCAA tourney stand a chance of being drafted?

Maybe. Maybe not. Probably though.

However dreams are not supposed to be easy. And just because someone is not drafted right from college does not mean they cannot play professional ball. Lots of jobs in Europe and the rest of the world. A good place to move to the next level and hope the W comes calling with a free agent contract.

JEN D DREAMER AWARD:

Amanda Pape from Sacred Heart University, one of the small schools here in Connecticut I have been following. At the beginging of the season SHU struggled to find its way and Pape looked a little lost as she tried to find her role. Friday night the light bulb went on. Motivated by fellow senior captain Kerri Burke’s injury, Amanda played “out of her mind” as she finally stopped thinking and started playing. OH MY GAWD........ 1 steal shy of a triple double. Pape went 10-20, 1-1 on the 3’s, 4-7 from the foul line for a total of 25 points, 14 rebounds (7 off 7 def) 3 assists, 2 turn overs and 9 steals.

She is fast, a lefty, and has a smooth stop and pop. Think Katie Douglas but Connecticut Yankee style as Pape is from Stamford Connecticut. She is a little short for the game at a legit, no playing with the numbers, 5’8”. She gets in the passing lanes ala Nykesha Sales but does not have the size to play the 3. This one would be able to come off the bench and give her team a good 10 minutes and 6 points/2 steals for that time.

ACTS OF KINDNESS:

The staff of the Phoenix Mercury for finding a way for us to get a copy of the 3OT game against Houston. This is the information from a recent e-mail sent to a fan.

We just released a holiday pack for the upcoming Mercury season. Here’s the rundown…
For each pack purchased, you get:
- 2 seats for 3 games in the 2007 Mercury season
--Game dates are TBD, but the games will be towards the beginning of the season AND will be Fri, Sat, or Sun
--Seats will be on the curves of the arena (yellow seats if you’re looking at the seating chart); you will be able to choose the location once the schedule is released and games are set
*AND*
- A DVD of the FAMOUS triple overtime victory over the Comets!!!
All of this for ONLY $100!
You can give the DVD and tickets to friends as a gift, or you could keep the DVD for yourself. Who do you know who would be interested???

Yes I want the DVD but who can I give the tickets to? Does the Mercury have a foundation that gives tickets to kids like Charlotte?

MINDLESS QUOTE:

“You write about basketball? Isn’t that boring?”
--Name with held to protect the... innocent, shall we say, Connecticut public office holder.

Can you see my eyes rolling?

Job
Posted: December 2, 2006 11:56 a.m. ET

I have died and gone to basketball heaven. There it was... on the NBA job listings site there is a job listing... my dream job. My fantasy job. My mmmm maybe I could move to Detroit and root for Detroit job... Yes the job is that good.

Go look for yourself.

Yes you read that right. The Detroit Shock need a Team Manager. I am so sobbing in my tea right now.

TEAM MANAGER! WAY COOL!

Lets see... I did logistics for the United States Army both during peace and in a war zone. so can I handle the team?

RESPONSIBILITIES INCLUDE, BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO THE FOLLOWING;

1. Maintaining the inventory and working condition of all Detroit Shock equipment including, but not limited to team uniforms and practice gear.

Well lets see, I worked the property book where I tracked and accounted for 3 battalions of mechanized infantry and 3 battalions of armor and all of their supporting units. I handled the inventory of the preposition stocked at Camp Doha in the winter of 91-92 that started with 24 tanks at 60 million a piece.

Yes I think I can keep track of the bags, shoes, socks, and uniforms of 13 players and 4 coaches.

2. Serving as the liaison between the Shock and the other 13 WNBA teams with regards to home and road practice and shoot around scheduling.

Well I had to work with company commanders as they tried to replace or account for all of their stuff post combat. From ammo loads to vehicles to uniforms to equipment spread out over 500 square miles and in 4 different major depots, and 6 minor depots. So yes, I can schedule one facility, in one location.

3. Developing sports and entertainment promotions to increase ticket sales and fan avidity.

Have you read my blogs?

4. Setting up facilities for Shock and visiting team practices, shoot arounds and games while serving as the primary equipment contact during these times.

Mmmmmm this one is a toughie. Let's see, I managed to get ammo, replacement parts, food, uniforms and fuel to my battalion while getting shot at and bombed. Yes I think I can keep track of basketballs, chairs, water cooler, tape, dry erase markers, chewing gum and any other request a team has.

5. Laundering Shock game and practice gear and visiting team gear when requested.

Ok this one many be a toughie. I refuse to wash Bill Laimbeer’s underwear. But since I do my own laundry I think I can handle hot/cold, wash/rinse and the spin dry. I also can handle finding a dry cleaners to do 24 hour pick up and delivery for those travel clothes that have been wrinkled in the 5 game 12 day road trip.

6. Managing a staff of part-time assistants and game-day staff.

When I was working on a presidential campaign in 2003-2004 I managed a logistics team of 78. Will the Shock staff be larger than that?

7. Traveling with the team to "home" neutral site games to perform duties above.

Gosh. I do not know. Traveling with the team as they play basketball around the country. Sit behind the bench and pass Ruth Riley or Swim Cash or Katie Smith their sweats, you know that would just be such a hardship. Katie Smith. Sigh. Just think of it.

8. Arrange all travel (airfare, bus and hotel) for the team, its players and their belongings.

As long as it isn’t on my credit card. And since I have done this for both the US Army and the American Red Cross Disaster Response, I think I can handle the Detroit Shock. But then again, we are talking about Darth Bill and the Bad Girls. I do not know. Bullets, bombs, hurricanes, tornados, floods, fires verse Bill. Wow that is a tough call.

QUALIFICATIONS

1. Candidate must have experience as an assistant or equipment manager for another professional sports team, college or high school team.

I played Division II volleyball and I managed my high school team. Yes you read that right. Not the other way around. My high school team was that good. So does that count?

2. Applicants must pay attention to detail.

Ok. I have no idea how to prove I can handle details other than to say the IRS has never audited my returns.

3. Solid record-keeping and good relationships with vendors are required.

I was part of the In-Kind Donations side of Logistics for the ARC. Always make nice with the people who help you get the job done. Be kind to secretaries, door men, baggage handlers, room service, and waitresses. Tip well. And don’t forget to compliment the management.

Would I get to polish the trophies?

On the other hand, handing Katie Smith her sweats...

And John Maxwell says the team manager gets a championship ring. Salary is based on experience. You can apply on line from the NBA jobs site.

Sigh. {Eyeing my resume} Now if only this job was with my beloved Sun.

JEN D UPDATE:

Crista Rickets. She has 4 straight double doubles as La Salle is now 6-0. Earn that respect!

ACTS OF KINDNESS:

John Maxwell of the Detroit Shock for answering my questions about this position and telling me to send in my resume. Aren't you a sweetie.

MINDLESS COMMENTS:

“I would kill myself before I worked for Bill Laimbeer. But if it was Washington...”
-Bert, a true Mystics fan.

The Real Legend
Posted: November 29, 2006 7:24 a.m. ET

I won the lottery today. Well at least the fan lottery. I got to speak with a Sun insider who told me the real story of Jen and her WNBA dreams.

It is even better than the version I told.

It seems that The Sun knew about Jen playing out of her mind. And they also knew about Le'Coe at Auburn. Both of these players had been scouted and that the Sun picked up the tab to get these players into camp.

So the moral of THAT story is ... no matter what, play your heart out and play out of your mind because coaches really are always watching. If you are playing on a small team and dream of the W ... keep dreaming. Someone just might be watching. Keep working hard because that work ethic may get you a shot. Keep a positive attitude cause every coach out there loves players who will work hard no matter what is asked, and not be a jerk when they are asked to do something that is good for the team.

And in a weird way it is nice to know that my team is smart enough to search the tiny empty college gyms for WNBA talent. And that is why my beloved Sun are regulars in the play offs. And it is part of why I love the Sun. Who is going to be in camp this spring? What fresh new face is going to be out there? Who is going to play their heart out for their dream?

They do not wait to see what is out there, Mike T, Bernadette, and the Hawk all go searching for the unknown unsung small school heroes.

What we fans never get to see is the endless hours coaches and their staff spend looking at tape and going to games. I had no idea that Coach T saw Lindsay Whalen play in person 14 times while he was deciding to draft her.

Now once again I will admit that I thought he was smoking something that he should not when the Sun traded Pee Wee for Margo but I sure have learned my lesson. Yes, sports fans, contrary to appearances at times the coaches really do ponder before they act. Their decisions are not pulled out of a certain bodily orifice that often cannot be found with both hands. Pee Wee was traded not just to get Margo but also because Lindsay was coming. And with her came runs for rings.

I just wish we fans got to hear/read/see more of what goes into building our dream.

On the other hand, I am not sure I want other teams to know who The Sun are looking at. The rumor mill had it that The Sun were on the phone with Le'Coe about a minute after the draft finished to get her before any other team.

We fans also need to remember our manners. Mike T has a reputation for being willing to talk with us about why he does what he does as a coach but jumping him before a christmas party for 500 under privilege kids really is not a good idea.

In keeping with my tradition of positive suggestions, perhaps coaches around the league would have "Ask The Coach" posts on their team web sites. A place where we fans can write and ask our team's coaches what they were thinking or doing or planning.

Manners
Posted: November 27, 2006 12:18 p.m. ET

As I have alluded to in past blogs, I am BIG on manners. Not that I am Emily Post but I think we have forgotten how to treat each other. I am reminded by this at each home game when there is the usual statement over the loud speaker reminding us not to through things on the court.

HUH???

Every time I hear this I laugh and want to yell “This is the WOMEN'S game. We don’t do that here.”

So in keeping with the less is more philosophy, here is a short reminded of Basketball manners 101. There will not be a pop quiz on Friday but this does count towards your final grade.

1. Stand for the National Anthem. Do not talk during the playing/sing of this song. Face the flag. Remove your head gear which is a military way of saying take off your caps, and dew rags. If you are a civilian, place you hand over your heart. If you are retired military, former military, or active duty in civilian clothes come to the position of attention. If you are in any uniform, render the appropriate salute. Any uniform includes girl/boy scouts, fire, police, emergency response, and military branches.

2. Do not swear in public.

3. Say please and thank you to your favorite players when asking them to sign something. Respect their their wishes if they do not want to sign.

4. Do not bother players while they are eating. Wait until their meal is done and they are outside the restaurant.

5. Do not call the visiting team names. It is disrespectful and you never know when that player is going to be on “your” team.

6. Do not sit in seats you have not paid for. If there are empty seats down front ask the neighbors if they belong to anyone before you sit in them. And if they are owned by season ticket holders, ask if you can borrow them. I HATE it when strangers drop their butts in my spare seats without asking.

7. Do not make rude comments about the tall people. They can hear you. They are tall not deaf.

8. Introduce yourselves to your neighbors. It is easier to handle someone yelling in your ear when they know your name.

9. Do not step in front a child to get an autograph. You are an adult, behave like one.

10. Always say hello to your usher. Learn their name. They can be very helpful. Jane knew all about me when I had my heart problems.

11. Do not use your thunder sticks on the head of the person in front of you.

12. A player sitting next to me at my favorite casino watering hole asked me to pass on that she really hates it when people try to to coach her and her fellow players. So lay off the “how to play” advice.

13. Give players a chance to decompress after a loss before you try to talk to them. Or better yet, wait until their next win. Ok with some teams it would be a long wait so see #14.

14. If your team loses a lot, try saying something nice after a couple of game before you ask for a picture or autograph.

15. When players are with their family, leave them alone. How would you feel if a stranger shoved their way into your family, shoved a card in your hand, demanded an autograph and a picture while being rude to your kids, your spouse/partner/boyfriend/girlfriend?

So in this holiday season, remember the Golden Rule... no not he who has the gold makes the rules but rather treat others the way you want to be treated.

JEN D DREAMER AWARD:

I watched a bunch of teams this past week. Not the same as my Sun but getting my fix anyway I can.

I am not sure about this pick but I think Yale’s Erica Davis is someone the pro’s need to look at. I watched her set a school record with 7 blocks in a game against Sacred Heart. A couple of those blocks were with such authority that she knocked the opposing player to the floor, and then buried her under the floor boards. An honest to god, no playing with the numbers, 6’3” player. I would guess 200 plus pounds of solid beef. She could play the 4 or the 5. Davis is averaging 16.6 points a game, 8.2 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 2 blocks a game. The down side to Erica is her lack of confidence. But I think a couple of seasons with Scott Hawk would fix that.

Can you tell I was seriously impressed by him?

ACTS OF KINDNESS:

I watched a 20 something hip-hop gangster thug dress black kid on the New York subway get up for a 70 something white little old lady and give her his seat. He then stood over in a protective manner to prevent the crowded subway from bumping into her cane. When her stop came, he helped her off by clearing out the door way, holding the door open to the ire of the cops, and holding her hand as she stepped over the gap. And you thought New Yorkers were not nice people.

MINDLESS COMMENTS:

“I have to get through my finals next week first.”
-Erica Davis on her thoughts about her basketball season. A women with her priorities in the right place.

For The Fans
Posted: November 22, 2006 1:21 p.m. ET

FOR THE FAN:

I got this in an e-mail the other day from my beloved Sun. Such teases.

As if this is enough to get me through the off season. "May I please have more?" {Think Oliver Twist.}

MEET THE FAN:

Meet Jen. She is here with Diana Taurasi after a game. Jen gave Dee her Purple Heart. The full story Jen shared back in June. You can find it in the archives at the bottom of the page.

Happy Turkey Day Everyone! I will not be posting again until after the weekend. Matt deserves a few days off.

Oops
Posted: November 22, 2006 1:09 p.m. ET

It has come to my attention that there maybe errors in my Jen D blog post. I am deeply concerned about any possible inaccuracies in any of my posts. So I rechecked my research. I used the best resources available to me as a fan.

It seems concerned insiders objected to my statement that “Jen had to tryout to get a tryout.”

Legend and Fact are fun things that we fans get to try to work our way through. The things we hear sitting in the stands, the conversations we have with players and staff when the game is finished, to the drinks we share with each other... these conversations are not always the complete TRUTH. They can be the truth with variations on a theme. However I did not base my Jen D blog on gossip I based it on media reports of the events.

The Daily Gazette at George Mason reported that Jen attended a two day camp on April 21-22 2004. They further reported that she was among the top 3 who were then invited to the Sun training camp.

And other source, Our Sports Central, reported the same information and added that the Sun Training Camp was to open the following sunday which according to my calendar was the 25th of April.

In addition, The New London Day also reported on the Free Agent Camp tryouts and that

“The Connecticut Sun invited three free agents to their training camp...”

So perhaps I misunderstood these sources and was incorrect in my interpretation that attending a 2 day training camp and being selected to attend a second camp that starts 3 days after the first camp is a try out to try out.

Was I erroneous in my perceptions?

The entire story can be found HERE and HERE.

The Day article is in the archives and you can purchase a full copy HERE.

If I was wrong, I apologize for the erroneous information that I passed on as part of the "Legend of Jen D."

I do not apologize for thinking that it was great that my Beloved Sun had the smarts to look out side the box and find such players as Jen, Brooke, and my Big Girl Le'Coe or any of the other non-celebrity college players the Sun have turned into a winning team.

Nor do I apologize for pointing out to my fellow fans that this league is filled with inspiring stories and hopes and dreams and that with belief and hard work we can make our dreams come true just like Jen Derevjanik did.

I further wish to correct my question about Debbie Black not coaching. She is at Ohio State.

My previous errors also include misspelling Lindsey Whalen’s name. It is LindsAy. Not LindsEy. And Becky Hammon is not spelled with a D. I apologize. I did not insure my spell check was accurate. I will so in the future.

For all other mistakes, and errors please feel free to contact me at my early Christmas present from a friend of mine... melissa@melissa-sterry.com so I have good information to work with.

Jen D and Dreams
Posted: November 20, 2006 10:58 a.m. ET

I was watching the LaSalle-Sacred Heart basketball game the other night and it got me to wondering about the W and the draft and rookies and scouting.

Back in 2004, my beloved Sun were trying to figure out changes and their roster. A “where do we go from here” moment after a so-so first season in Connecticut. So they had a free agent camp. 34 or 37 people paid either 200 or 250 dollars to take their shot at the WNBA dream. Now you need to understand that this story is moving into legend so the accuracy of details is beginning to change.

One of those with a dream was Jen Derevjanik from George Mason. Yes, that hot bed of basketball greatness: George Mason. Shocking isn’t it, to discover that no one is drafted from George Mason. A powerhouse in the CAA ... ah, what does CAA stand for again? College Art Association? Creative Artists Agency? Oh yeah, Colonial Athletic Association. A powerhouse, I say!

But I digress.

See Jen had a dream of playing in the W. And she, on paper, sort of had the stats for that dream... if she played for UCONN or Tennessee. She made the CAA All-Rookie team in her {duh} rookie year. And was named to the All-CAA second team her last two years at GM. According to George Mason’s web site, Jen ranks 12th all-time in Mason history with 1,140 career points. Outstanding at GM and so so at say Stanford. Fifth all-time in Mason history with 349 total career assists. Has a nice 3 point shot and overall is a good solid journeyman player. Just not the kind of player-school-conference that the pros scout or talk about when it comes draft day. Heck I could not even find out if George Mason has ever gone to the big show... March Madness... the NCAA tournament.

Except people forgot to tell Jen that in a way that she believed.

See if Jen had gone to Christ the King instead of Staten Island, Jen might have worn UCONN blue and then would have been in a program that gets looked at. Instead she played her big heart out at George Mason. Philip R. Creed, a Broadside staff writer summed things up best.

"The women’s semifinal game against VCU had perhaps the most outstanding individual performance in CAA tournament history. It was the best I saw all year."

Mason senior Jen Derevjanik played out of her mind, literally, in leading Mason to victory. She scored 40 points, breaking the old CAA tournament record of 39 (set in an overtime game). Throughout the game, she was a cold-blooded assassin. She hit 3-pointers, pull-up jumpers and lay-ups whenever Mason needed a shot. She made steals and hustled for loose balls. Derevjanik simply would not let Mason lose. Later, Derevjanik said that she was not thinking at all that game. As a matter of fact, with time running out, she did not even realize that she had 37 points. As the shot and game clocks ran down, the Mason players and coaches yelled at her to take one last shot. She did, and her 3-pointer swished in as the final buzzer sounded, setting off a spontaneous and ecstatic celebration to which my writing cannot do justice. Players ran down the court, arms up and fists pumping. The entire Patriots squad mobbed Derevjanik. Players jumped up and down and hugged each other. Part of it had to be the fact that they were going to the CAA championship. But another part of it was admiration of Derevjanik, maybe knowing they had just seen a historic performance. The entire Mason squad had played an outstanding game that evening and throughout the tournament. But Derevjanik’s performance against VCU was one for the ages.”

But no one from the W came calling for a heart like that. So Jen strolled up to Connecticut, paid her money and played her heart out at a camp to get an invite to try out.

Yeah, you read that right. Jen had to try out to get a tryout. And she had to pay to get the chance.

You go, girl!

The rest, shall we say, is history. In this unscripted story the kid goes on to make the team. Jen played behind Debbie Black and this other “unknown” from Minnesota, Lindsay Whalen. And every time Jen got a minute here and a minute there on the court in a game, she played her heart out again.

Now that first season, I freely admitted that I rolled my eyes and pondered what Mike T. was thinking. But Jen just kept getting better. In the 2005 season Debbie Black left {why has no team snatched Debbie to coach defense?} and Jamie Carey arrived. Another all heart player. Maria Colon did not make the team, much to the ire of Husky fans. But then both Jen and Jamie played their hearts out.

2006 arrives with Erin Phillips. Lindsay, Erin and who for the 3rd spot? Again Jen played her heart out but this time it was not meant to be.

Instead of calling it quits, our intrepid hero goes to Phoenix and steps into an ill Kelly Miller's shoes and starts.

Yeah, Hollywood just can’t write this stuff. Cut from the 3rd spot on one team and turns it into a starting spot on another team. As we all know Kelly Miller comes back from her illness and returns to her starting position but for a little while Jen led the Mercury in rebounds. Yes rebounds. I had a WHAT! moment myself when I read that back in May. But Jen is all heart and can play out of her mind at a drop of a hat.

So here is the moral of the story...

How many Jen D’s are there out there? How many good solid journeyman players who can provide depth to the bench and play out of their minds for 5-10 minutes a game for a team are hiding in small schools around the country? They are playing on the teams that do not win their conferences but somehow this kids score double doubles game after game. Or block 5 shots a night. I can name a few W teams that could use a back up post who can make two or three blocks a game and stand 6-4 or taller.

For some of these kids they just never had a coach that taught them those little extra things that would have gotten them to a Tennessee or to a Baylor. For some, they really wanted to go to Harvard or Yale. Basketball is great, but there is no way I would pass up an Ivy degree. What would have happen to Allison Feaster if Harvard had not won? What if Texas never took a chance with Jamie Carey?

And what about the mid-tier schools? What if FSU hadn’t had the year they had? Would Brooke Wyckoff nailed the shot at the buzzer ala T-Spoon for force a game 3 for the Sun to win? Would the Sky have her now to help build a team both on and off the court?

So in honor of all dreamers who do not wear a tattoo for the world to see and talk about I give you the Jen D’s Dreamer Award.

JEN D’S DREAMER OF THE WEEK:

This week I got to watch Crista Ricketts of La Salle score a double double in the first half alone of a game against Sacred Heart who played in the NCAA tourney last year. She finished the game with 26 points and 17 rebounds all for a team ranks 9th in their conference. As a senior she has nothing to lose, everything to gain and is pissed that La Salle is not getting more respect. She dreams of a shot at the W and is playing out of her mind every time she walks on to the court. At 6’1 she has the height and speed to play the 3 spot. She does not have the size for the 4 and needs some work on her defense. But a season or two with Bernadette Maddox’s chop chop defense and she will be a good player for any W team.

ACTS OF KINDNESS:

Barbara of Section 12, Row K, Seats 9-10 Started taking her boss to the Sun games with her in honor of step 12 Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to all new WNBA fans, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. Way to build the fan base.

MINDLESS COMMENT:

“I have a job.”
-Fifth-year grad student Jenna Graber of LaSalle when asked if she wanted to play in the W. You go girl.

Dis-Respect
Posted: November 16, 2006 8:29 p.m. ET

I had a nice little rant all written about an AP story carried on MSNBC and how the story was riddled with all kinds of factual errors. It completely ignored Pat Summit as the winningest Division I NCAA coach, instead focusing on how Bobby Knight is moving into that position, completely ignoring Dean Smith in the process.

Yes I know. Do not faint. Someone from Connecticut actually had nice things to say about Pat Summit. It's ok, though, the moment passed. I put away my orange polo and the blue one is donned again.

But I digress.

You are not reading this rant as a call to action to blast MSNBC with e-mails because they corrected the story.

That's right. Fans of the women’s game used the power of the pen and got MSNBC to correct their story. Pat Summit number one. Dean Smith number two.

What were the nice things I said about Pat? I just cited her record. Pat Summit’s record at the beginning of this season is a whopping 913-177. That’s a winning percentage of .838 in college ball. 63-4 on the international stage. For a total of 976-181 with a percentage of .844

While some on the message boards are arguing that her record isn’t the same as men with fewer wins because the competition wasn’t as tough... {no seriously, someone really said that} I say a win is a win is a win. And Division one is Division one. They are the best programs in the country. No one played Stephen’s College {Div III now and my alma mater} here to pad their stats. Tennessee was not playing Farmingville Elementary. They were playing Connecticut, Purdue, Minnesota, Oklahoma, LSU, Rutgers and a load of other schools.

Pick a women’s basketball star from the last twenty-two years and they had to play Pat Summit. And they are better for it.

To argue that her record means less because it was women is outrageously sexist in its most blatant form. But to have an alleged fan of women’s basketball write is is down right confusing.

Does loving the women’s game mean you love basketball less? As another poster on the board said, “Is it not played with a ball? Does it not require you to pass, shoot, dribble, play defense and score?” And as another poster said, “Is it less because women do not dunk first and play later?”

While this is about the game, it is we fans demanding that the game be respected that is going to increase the amount of coverage and the quality of coverage. We must flex the power of our fan dollars to insist on change.

But we have to love the game with out qualifying it with a gender pronoun. It isn’t about gender or race or religion or orientation or any other label we use to divide ourselves...

Say it with me... It is about THE game.

ACTS OF KINDNESS:

I want to thank everyone who sent an e-mail to MSNBC. You did the right thing. Even if it is for the Orange. {I had to have a Husky moment}

GREAT QUOTE:

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.”
--Bobby Kennedy

He would be a Pat Summit fan if he were alive today. Actually he lived in New York State, so he would probably root for Rutgers.

12 Steps
Posted: November 15, 2006 11:20 a.m. ET

Tonight’s testimonial is brought to us by one of our fan bloggers, Melissa. But before we hear from her we need to thank Brian, Margo’s number one fan, for the coffee. And Dave, who loves Jamie carey’s work ethic, for the coffee cake. We also need to thank Alison the Liberty fan, for helping us secure these lovely basement facilities for our first support group meeting. And special thanks to John Maxwell for the information on where to buy Champion Shock shirts. Of course we cannot leave out Dr. Shelia Johnson for funding the bus load of Mystics fans who wanted to join us for our meeting. Karen and Tammy are taking notes to be able to start their own 12 Step program in DC for the off season.

And now let me introduce Melissa.

“Hi. My name is Melissa and I am addicted to the WNBA.”

“Hi Melissa.

I have been toying with this blog since the end of the 2006 season as we all jones for our basketball in our own ways. Some of us are counting the days till college ball starts. Some of us were glued to the World Championships drooling over the US team or the Australian team or {insert name of country here}. Some are even trying to figure out where their team has to finish to get {insert name of college player here} in the draft. Or who their team has to trade to get her. Or which god they have to make a sacrifice to, to get her. Or who they have to kill to get her. Some Chicago and New York fans are still trying to recover from the Mercury getting the first pick.

It all reminds me of friends of Bill W moments.

I tried to find a cute way to spoof AA 12 Steps but I am not as funny as I would like to be. Where is Wanda Sikes when you need her sense of humor?

So here are my suggestions on how to survive the off-season and a mildly amusing spoof done with respect to Bill W.

Steps to survive the off season:

1 - Finally admit addiction to the "W". 2 - Deny that addiction is a problem, that you can quit at anytime! 3 - Order up those '07 season tickets! 4 - Try to come up with a way to deduct the cost of Ct Sun or {insert name of your team here} season tickets and Margo's All Star jersey from Income Tax! 5 - Surf the 'net trying to keep up with overseas off season play. 6 - Watch another sport. (there are OTHER sports?) 7 - Reunite with family and friends ignored during the season. 8 - Catch up on yard work. (yuck) 9 - Start a monthly support group with other fans.

10 - Watch taped/archived games. (victories only) 11 - Try to come up with a catchy NEW {insert name of favorite player here} sign! 12 - Hang in there!! Its HUSKY time! {Substitute your favorite team here}

And a 12 Step plan:

1. We admitted we were powerless over the WNBA and that our lives are unmanageable without it.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to off-season sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our dreams and draft/trade wishes over to the care of the Basketball Gods.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of our team’s roster and staff.

5. Admitted to the message boards, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our team’s short comings.

6. Are entirely ready to have the coaches or general managers remove all these team defects, unless they are the defect.

7. Humbly ask the Basketball God’s to remove our team’s management/ownership issues.

8. Made a list of all players who smacked our team around during the season, and design a fantasy defense for all of them.

9. Made direct amends to people you ignored all season wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take inventory of our team rosters, off season trades and when we made wrong guesses or suggestions promptly admitted it.

11. Seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with the Basketball Gods, as we understand them, praying only for knowledge of their will for our team and the power to carry that out. 12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to all new WNBA fans, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

ACTS OF KINDNESS:

Thanks Jenna for finding me an iBook power cord in the middle of DC late on a Saturday afternoon. Yes, I will leave the spare in my backpack so I will not be powerless on the train again.

GREAT QUOTE:

“All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don't. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.”
--Bobby Kennedy ... Clearly a man who understood being a sports fan in the off season

Kindness, Part Two
Posted: November 10, 2006 8:20 a.m. ET

As the FIBA World Championships are being played out in Brazil, there is discussion about who is on the USA team and of course the message boards are flying with who else should be on the team. Though people are hard pressed to say who should NOT be on the team.

We fans are becoming more educated about the process of team selection. You can learn more about the process and the National team on their website. http://www.usabasketball.com/senior women But today I am going to talk about the very first rung on the ladder to the National Team... town travel ball.

Yup. All around the country there ae 5th grade girls learning to dribble and shoot and box out, and what a zone defense is from hundreds of volunteers. Some coaches are like my buddy Dave. They are parents with kids who want to learn how to play. Kids who just want to have fun. They give their time, money and energy to their children and their neighbor’s kids.

But some coaches are there because they love the sport. Or they love kids. No no, not in the Michael Jackson way but in the older sister or Aunt or the “I wish I could be a parent” way. Some are there because they are building a resume to get the paid job at the high school level. Some are there because {insert reason.} Patty falls into this group.

From the developmental level to the middle schools, coaches give their time, energy, money and love of the game to the next generation of players. They work with their local Parks and Recreation to book school gyms for practices and games. They keep track of balls, tape for ankles, ice packs, vacation schedules, and opposing teams. They attend clinics to learn to be a better coach and the really good ones take child development psychology classes at their local community college to better understand and teach their kids. All for the kids.

There is not one single player on the National Team as far as I know who did not play AAU basketball. And they got to AAU by starting with a travel team. And just what is a travel team you ask? It is a group of kids from one town who travel to other towns to play games or in tournaments. So Farmington plays Torrington, Simsbury, and West Hartford among others. You can insert the names of your local towns. Parents drive their kids to gyms all across American to sit on those crappy bleachers and cheer their kids. We all complain about the officials in the W but travel ball is where they start their careers. This is the basketball version of Little League. At the 5th grade level the teams usually score between 10 and 20 points a game. And the cheers they get for each point would bring tears to your eyes.

This is also where the kids first learn their lessons about sportsmanship and team play. The messages they get about self esteem, officials, winning and losing are ones that last a lifetime. The research is pretty extensive on the positive impact sports has on girls and their lives. Female athletes are less likely to do drugs, less likely to get pregnant in high school, more likely to graduate from high school, more likely to attend college, and have higher levels of self esteem.

So find out if your town has a travel basketball team and how you can support them. From donations to coaching or being the scorekeeper, every little bit helps make a difference. And it also lets town officials know that you are glad that these programs are available to the children.

If you ask your local WNBA team you usually can get some basketballs signed by players to raffle off to raise funds. And in the off season you often can get a player to come to a clinic and help teach the kids how to play.

I have two pictures in my office. The first is me with Brooke Wyckoff. The second is one of “my girls”, the developmental 5th graders I helped coach last year. Good things come in small packages.

ACT OF KINDNESS:

Find and support you local AAU team.

MINDLESS COMMENTS:

“Never confuse motion with action.” -Ben Franklin.

The man would be basketball coach if he were alive today.

Meet the Fan
Posted: November 8, 2006 10:23 p.m. ET

Meet Brian, Margo Dydek's number one fan. Brian's liscense plate reads "DYDEK". He also spent major money to buy Margo's 2006 All-Star jersey to which she autographed to Brian. The next time you are in the arena ask him about the jersey. This picture was taken at the 2006 seaon ticket holder event where Margo was giving Brian her lei. Brian on the other hand is about to have a stroke from his experience.

Team Concept
Posted: November 7, 2006 11:11 p.m. ET

I was in Hartford watching Team Concept play University of Hartford in a preseason warm up for the Hawks. While I can talk about the Hawks, this is about a group of post college players who have not made it to the show... the W. No, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi did not play against Hartford as they did UCONN.

Now once again this is me falling on my fan sword but...

There is a reason why these players are not in the W. Overweight, out of shape and all ego. I was watching a group of college has beens who might have been ready for the W but could not make the transition to the professional leagues and were still trying to relieve their glory years. These were kids, not young professionals, and it showed in their basketball.

While the college team was warming up and cheering each other on, Concept was in their own heads. When the college team left the floor at half time to talk in the locker room, Concept literally spawled out on the court floor. The funny thing was they all were facing away from the court looking at the fans passing by, almost as if they were waiting for people to come ask them for autographs.

Ashley Valley was the ONLY player to go out on the court and work on her shot during half time. She also was one of the few players who looked like she was in shape to play. Ashley was displaying a work ethic. And it is a work ethic that gets a player to a try out with the W. It is work ethic that gets a player selected to a roster.

I think Team Concept is a great chance for players to show teams in the W that they have what it takes. Especially players from Division II or III school who might have the talent to play but were never seen or scouted. However, players have to work and they need a coaching staff that can help take them to the next level. Team Concept is a for runner to the W’s version of the D-League in the NBA. And players need to bring a level of professionalism with them when they play.

So the next time Team Concept is in town go check them out, not with an eye of what great players they were in college but rather do they have the stuff to play with your W team.

Side note, U of H has more sponsors than the Sun!

ACTS OF KINDNESS:

Today is election day. Be kind to yourselves. Vote. Decisions are made by people who show up.

So show up. Vote.

GREAT MINDLESS COMMENT:

“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do.” Ben Franklin.

Thoughts and Changes
Posted: November 4, 2006 3:15 p.m. ET

As you can see there are changes to the fan blog format. And I say thank you to Matt. One of the things I have been struggling with all season was how often do I post? How often do I share my thoughts or questions or ideas or ponderings? I did not want to step on any of my fellow bloggers toes by posting to often and preventing them from having the top post on the thread. With the new format the only toes I am stepping on are my own. And I have done that a few times in my life.

First I want to thank everyone who has written me e-mails. Or who has come up to me at Sun games. Or who approached me at the All-Star game. Or talked with me about their team at an away game. You have provided me with some great moments. Alison will forever be my first “fan”. A surreal moment if there ever was one.

I also want to thank Matt for publishing some of my more challenging blog posts. You have big brass ones, dude. For those of you who are wondering if you should apply to be a blogger, I say go for it. It has been a ton of fun.

Over the next few months, through the off season and into March Madness I will continue to post but with greater frequency. Some will be thought pieces like “Do They Know?”, “Fan” and “Taboo”. Some will be random musings like “Records” or “Odds and Ends”. Some will be direct suggestions to the league as with “Support the Troops”, “Kim Perrot”, and “T Spoon”. I hope to write more pieces about individual players like “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” and teams like “Connecticut Sun”. Acts of Kindness will continue and so will Mindless Comments.

I will be adding “Thought of the Day.” These will be short paragraphs about tiny WNBA fan moments. I need to find out from Matt if he can post photos for me. I am going to try to post our fan pictures. I have a great picture of Brian with Margo. She is giving him her lei form the season ticket holder event and he is bright red. He is so red I though his face was going to burst. Patty has some great pictures of the Sun that I want to share with people also. So dig through your pictures and find the ones you want to share with me. You just may end up on the blog.

But check back regularly as I will be posting just about every day from now through the preseason of 2007.

At the beginning of the 2007 season I am going to stop posting as a fan blogger. I believe that fan bloggers should post for one year and then let other fans voices be heard. Not every team has a voice and I need to step aside so other teams and their fans can be heard.

I am deeply honored to be one of the first fan bloggers. I hope you will continue to read my thoughts in the off-season. And as usual you can reach me at Rothum@aol.com

I look forward to sharing this passion with you.

Coaching the X’s and O’s
Posted: November 2, 2006 8:26 p.m. ET

Sunday the 22nd of October, I attended Coach T’s clinic at the arena here in Connecticut. You should have been there. It was good, great, sucky and down right educational. I walked away with lots of good information to help improve my abilities to coach 5th graders. Brain, Margo’s number one fan, walked away with good information to improve his coaching of a new 14 and under AAU team, and Patty “Don’t you dare tell anyone where I sit” came away with stuff for high school JV.

Now THAT is teaching.

The clinic was an all day affair with the Mohegan providing lunch. As an aside comment the deserts were incredible. We were in the arena instead of the ballroom as it was last year. And several local teams provided the kids to act as demonstration subjects. Both Brian and I want to know how we can get our teams in as demonstration teams next year. We coaches got to sit in sections 24, 24 and 26 while the instructors were on the court talking with headsets.

Bill Scarlata started the day off with “Practicing a Fast Break Offense.” Bill is the head coach of Norwich Academy here in Connecticut. For those of you not from CT, Norwich dominates the Class LL basketball. HIs record is 326-39 with 5 state championships, 10 ECC Tournament Championships, and 13 regular season titles. And you though Geno was the only man in CT women’s basketball. Why has no college program snapped this guy up?

But I digress. Bill gave us some great drills to help develop the fast break. But my hand could not keep up so I hope Pattie and Brian have good sketches. Who know I needed to bring an artist with me? Next year I hope they provide us with printed drills instead of the blank sheets of paper. Sorry Tina, I know I just suggested more work for you.

Next up was Scott Hawk. Who knew this guy was so funny? Hawk presented to us how to start with basic building drills and then to and a layer that gives a player a new skill each step. The interesting thing I took away from Scott, was how he challenged kids while building self esteem. “See I knew you were smart” was one of the many positive comments he gave the players while teaching the coaches. The short summary of Kawk’s teachings were:

Foot work is everything. Take a Simple concept and build on it. Use the lines on the court to help frame the skill

Following “Hawk” was Bernadette Mattox. In her introduction I got a better insight into why the Sun do so well. These coaches like each other. They tease each other and support each other at the same time. Coach T’s introduction of Mattox talked about her scoring abilities for University of Georgia as a player. And then he went on to explain that those abilities were why she was focusing on defense with the wing players. And that is what she talked about... defense.

Defense is what has taken the Sun from a so so team in Orlando to a powerhouse in Connecticut. And Bernadette has gotten shooting players to love to play defense. There was a moment where I had to start laughing though.

The basic defensive movement was based on a defensive stance. No this isn’t the funny part yet. The defensive stance starts with a player squatting as if they were sitting in a chair, hands up, a balanced stance with feet six inches apart. The techniques are never stand up on defense. Stay down and keep the body low.

Now that everyone has a picture in their head we get into the fun language. When a player runs up to apply defensive pressure to the offense, the slowing stutter step is called “chop” steps. So there was Bernadette demonstrating the stance, styling in her shorts, wearing a head set and saying “Chop Chop.” Now Bernadette was so into teaching us to “Chop Chop” that at one point her headset went flying. And didn’t she just keep right on teaching. She just raised her voice and kept right on going.

So she moves on, using the layering technique that Hawk talked about, to show us the next movement. When a defensive player moves they need to push off from their outside leg while moving their inside leg to keep in front of the offensive player. The same side arm is lifted into the air to help propel the defensive body. And then the other hand is “digging” in at the ball to try to swipe it. Sounds complicated don’t it?

And then the light bulb went off for me.

Bernadette Maddox was teaching defense based on a Twyla Tharp dance move. Hand to Jesus. The ideal defensive stance is a Twyla Tharp move. Modern dance and Women’s Basketball collide. There in the circular movement of the arms, the extension of the legs, the leaping movements ... all Twyla.

For those of you who do not know who Twyla is, and Bernadette was one, you can find out more about Twyla here. I spoke with Bernadette during lunch and she had no idea who I was talking about but she sure did enjoy learning. I searched everywhere but I could not find a cyber link to a picture of the move but it is beautiful.

Now I always thought that basketball was an art. But I had no idea how close I was.

I think the thing I learned two really important things at this clinic. It doesn’t matter what level you coach, there is something new to learn. Any chance you got to learn take it. The other thing I learn was how much these three coaches love teaching. it doesn’t matter to them who they are teaching. The staff of the Sun love basketball and they want everyone to know the fundamentals. They just love to teach.

Yes once again I was reminded how basketball crosses differences and can bring us together. Say it with me...

It isn’t about race, religion, gender, orientation, it is about the game.

ACTS OF KINDNESS:

Scott Hawk giving out his e-mail for coaches to write to him with their problems coaching post players. Now that was kind.

MINDLESS COMMENTS:

“2007 Eastern Conference Finals will be the Mystics and Connecticut. Not the subways series but the Amtrak series.”
--Bert the Mystics fan.

Lottery
Posted: October 27, 2006 2:53 p.m. ET

At this point just about everyone knows that the Mercury has been blessed by the basketball gods with the first round draft pick. The sobs you hear are coming from Chicago. The weeping and hair pulling is coming from New York. Both teams in the Eastern Conference who deserved (in the case of Chicago) and hoping (in the case of New York) for the blessing of first pick to be bestowed upon them. And giving the East some more guns in the never ending which conference is harder to play in/against discussion.

Kevin will be able to give you a details statistical analysis of teams with worst records getting first pick, what position has been drafted the most, which school, which conference, and any other permeation of a stat you could possibly want. I bow to the Stat Master.

All the conversation about who is the number one pick will go out the window when March Madness starts. There will be some team from out of no where who finds their heart which will take them to the Sweet 16. It will be their emotional leader who suddenly finds themselves a possible draft pick.

Some up and coming superstar will have an injury. They always do. And we Monday morning coach wanna be’s will play the “What if...” game as we reshuffle our imaginary draft list for our beloved team while second guessing our GM. On the other hand, some of the posters on the message board I go to could definitely be a better GM then some of those who occupy those lofty corner offices. No sarcasm in that statement. There are some seriously smart crafty sneaky creative lawyer type people on the board. And I know one I would hire in a heart beat when I win the lottery and buy a WNBA team.

Some magical mystery trade deal will be signed leaving we fans going, “You traded WHO??? For HER???” I cite my beloved Sun’s trade of Pee Wee for Margo. Yet here we are loving Lindsay, and think Mike T is such a smart guy for getting Margo. Just don’t look into our closets as that is where we are hiding the effigies, lighter fluid, and matches.

Some kid will get a walk on spot at camp. I cite Jen Derevjanik and the Sun. Jen was a walk on from George Mason of all places. Not exactly renowned for its basketball prowess. Yet then was Jen with all the passion a rookie can bring to the court. She paid her fee, and made the team. Yes the Sun gave her the money back. We still argue over Jen Derevjanik verse Jamie Carey in section 12. But Jen found a home in Phoenix. So irony abounds as we stole Jamie from them when they cut her in 2005. And Maria Conlon (DT’s backcourt partner at UCONN) still hasn’t made a team despite everyone saying she would.

Some obscure player from far off land will be drafted and people will be laughing about a wasted pick until they see her play. I cite Erin Phillips. And with all Connecticut snotty cockiness I say "We have her and you don't." Yes she is all that and a bag of chips.

Some aging player that everyone though was going to retire will decide to go for it one more time and lead their team to greatness. I cite Sacramento and Yolanda Griffith. And the second straight heart breaking end of a season for my Sun. A decision that will change a coaches and GMs draft choices. Hey we certainly are asking ourselves here in Connecticut is Taj is going to comeback for one more try. And the conversations about roster abound. Please do not send me an e-mail asking me for the inside scoop on what Mike T is going to do. I DO NOT KNOW!

Add to all of this mix, coring, restricted free agents, unrestricted free agents, salary cap and a myriad of other variables that only the Stat Master can analyze, and you will have the 2007 draft.

I think in the end, while there are moments, like who gets Diana Taurasi, where the first pick is HUGE. Most years it is what your team needs that matters and when you pick doesn’t matter so much. Megan Mahoney, drafted 34th by the Sun in the 2005 draft. Did not play because of an injury. Today is considered to be the player who is being developed to replace Sales or Douglas when they retire in 3-4 years. Or a possible trade piece. Either way the kid is a player. A third round pick and the kid is player. But she has got to stop punching me in the shoulder every time we say hello. Cause that just plain hurts {not in a fun way either} and I can be such a sissy at times.

And don’t forget Ashja Jones. Drafted 4th by Washington in 02, traded to the Sun in a 3-way deal where Phoenix got a draft pick and Washington got Tamicha Jackson who is lon longer in the league. Ashja is now the best sixth player in the league who will replace Taj or Margo some day. A player who made the best of her opportunity.

So what I am trying to say is basketball life is like a crap shoot. Remember lemons and lemonade? Well great coaches, GMs and players are the ones who make the best of what they have, what they create, or the chances they get. I cannot tell you how many hands of poker I have won with a pair of twos. And so it is with the draft. The lottery is just another puzzle piece we get to play with in the off season.

ACTS OF KINDNESS:

http://www.thepowerofnice.com/

Holding Court for Youth -- Valerie Still played at the University of Kentucky from 1979 to 1983, and became the university’s all-time leading scorer. Eventually, she played with the Columbus Quest and helped bring home two American Basketball League championships. Then she landed in the WNBA, playing for the Washington Mystics and coaching the Orlando Miracle.

MINDLESS COMMENTS:

“Who is Twyla Tharp?” Bernadette Maddox at the Coach’s Clinic. Girl, there is more to life than basketball. But I love the Chop Chop defensive stance.

Taboo
Posted: October 19, 2006 7:13 p.m. ET

I had an interesting exchange with one of my neighbors. I have to wonder why people think it is ok to say hateful things about and to people. I am a decorated combat veteran. I have shed blood in defense of my country. I pay taxes. I vote. I mow my lawn. Well actually my handyman mows the lawn but there is no rusting junk heaps in my front yard. And for some reason my “neighbor” thought it was ok to make comments about property values and dykes.

So what does this have to do with basketball?

Well this event is coupled with a recent thread on the board I like to read/post on and it made me wonder about athletes and sports and the W and my beloved Sun. Come on people lets get real here. One of the biggest taboos... the thing you do not talk about... sshhhhh don’t tell anyone but there are lesbians in the league.

Now everyone take a deep breath, I am not outing anyone. This is not the National Inquirer. While inquiring minds what to know, and I will be the first to admit I play “Name the Lesbian” with my friends, who players love is really is no one’s business. And at the same time don’t ask don’t tell is crap. It is crap for the military. It is crap for the W. It is crap for the entire social fabric of our lives.

If we love a player enough to buy their jersey, make signs, collect their autograph, do we not love them enough to want them to be happy?

Ok I will out someone... sshhhh don’t tell anyone but Brooke Wyckoff is straight. And I still like her. So if the cute young man she was with in 2005 when she and I chatted, makes her happy I say more power to her. If he is good to her and for her then she will play better and that is all I care about. She still is a special person to me. After all some of my best friends are straight. See I can be open and accepting of diversity.

To force a person to remain silent about a piece of their life damages that person and impacts on their play. We all talk about how much happier Margo is in Connecticut and how that has improved her play. Yes, I have met Margo’s boyfriend. All six foot eight of him. And at five foot four it was a humbling moment. I spent eight years in the military. I started out in military intelligence. I understand and I mean I UNDERSTAND paranoia. It is a sucky way to live life. When you are scared that who you love will impact on your ability to keep a job, it makes you nuts.

Taj always plays better when her hubby and kids are in town. So why do we think we should ask the lesbians to be silent about who they are dating? Or who they are married to? Do we not want players to play their best every time they are out on the floor? I do not care about who someone is with in their personal life. I care about their ability to block shots, dribble, shoot, steal, and pass the ball.

Now before people start talking about team cohesion and all of the other silliness about straight people needing to feel comfortable with teammates, I had a nice chat with one of the more open players in the league. She has a teammate who is a very devout Christian. They play well together, they respect each other, they just do not party together. And I think, since when does basketball have anything to do with who we party with.

So that brings me to the issue of faith. This is America and as much as people want to force one specific religion down the throats of everyone else in this country, that is NOT American. We do not have a state religion. We do not have a government run religion. History teaches us what happens when faith and government collides. Go read about the Thirty Years War. And the ramifications that rumbled for another 300 years. One of the things that I love about America is that your faith is your faith. And everyone has the right to their faith.

The other story comes from my military time. I had a 1LT chase me around my own desk. He also chased all the women in the unit. He was married and a drunk. This guy did more damage to the moral of the unit. My fellow soldiers never left me alone with this jerk. And the guys really stepped up to get him away from me. They all knew I was gay. They all loved my girlfriend. But they loved even more that I was good at my job which made theirs easier. The thing that got to the straight boy who had no social boundaries, was that I helped my fellow soldiers get promoted. My additional duties included insuring that everyone in the unit, officers, warrants and enlisted had all of the manuals, awards, schooling to met all their respective requirements for promotion. So who do you want to go to war with? The drunk who can’t keep his fly zipped? Or the lesbian who does her job and makes your life better?

So it is with basketball. Do you want the straight girl who can’t block, pass, or shoot? Or the lesbian who can? Or ... who gives a {insert profanity} about it? How about we just cheer our favorite players as they continue to put the ball in the hoop?

In honor of National Coming Out Day, October 11, I am calling upon the WNBA and its fans to move from covert tolerance to overt acceptance of the diversity that fills this league with great players.

After all... it isn’t about race, religion, gender, orientation or any other stupid label that is used to divide us, it is about the game. And how the game can bring us together.

ACTS OF KINDNESS:

Though I am late, in recognition of National Coming Out Day, I would like to thank the following players for sharing the truth of their lives. Each one of you is a hero to me in your own way. Sheryl Swoopes, Sue Wicks, Michele Van Gorp, Carol Blazejowski, and Latasha Byears.

To everyone else who has not publically joined this list, I wish you joy in your lives.

GREAT COMMENT:

“Are you a lesbian?” “Time Out New York” reporter Bilge Ebiri.

“I am,” Sue Wicks, forward for the New York Liberty.

“... I would never avoid that question, especially in New York. I think it’s important that if you are gay, you not be afraid to say who you are.”

--June 6, 2002 year six of the WNBA existence, the first player in the league to publicaly acknowledge her private life.

Season Ticket Holders
Posted: October 12, 2006 2:34 p.m. ET

July 26th was the Connecticut Sun Season Ticket Holder Event. A luau! No I did not wear a Hawaiian Shirt. I do have soon dignity left in me when I am around basketball.... ok not that much but I do draw the line at silly shirts. Besides mine was in the laundry basket.

To all the team front offices I say this, We are your life blood. Stop under estimating us. And I apologize for being fickle. Nothing you will do will ever satisfy me. But you still need to try to make me happy. 30% of us will love what ever you do. 30% will hate it. 30% will say they expected more but cannot tell you what they expect.

You must remember though, and I am saying it again for emphasis, we are your life blood. You need to cultivate us in the good years. So we stay with you in the bad years. You need to find ways for us to love you so we can make playing on our home court psychological hell for the visiting teams.

“Oh gawd.... Seattle is next week and they are so damn loud. That crowd can hit 110 decibels. Good thing Catch is deaf so she can focus. The rest of us..... {envision eyes rolling here}”

We are your walking billboards. We wear your team jerseys, your “I got this t-shirt at a {insert team name} game”, we drag our friends with us to watch, we talk about you at weddings, parties, and other social events incessantly. When my friend Whitney got married all I could talk about was that I was missing a Sun home game. Oh and yeah doesn’t she look beautiful in that dress. Does anyone know the score? Who cares about Boston or the Yankees. What is the Sun doing? But a couple that I had never met before decided to take their two kids to a game cause if I loved it that much it must be something fun/good.

Anyway back to that night.

Did I feel loved? Well sort of. But Lisa and Tina and staff et al have my feedback. I did get to say hello to Le’Coe. We did not get to chat cause she was being “loved” by her fans. She is looking good. Dropped a few more pounds and built some muscle. We smiled and waved at each other. Its ok I will say hi from the court side next game.

I did get to speak with Jamie and I was able to not giggle around her. She liked the picture that Patty took of Jamie and gave to me to get signed. Jamie loved it and wanted her own copy cause that picture was that good. Patty gave her one at the next game.

I did get to chat with Jessica Brungo and welcome her back. My buddy Brian is tall enough to almost look her in the eye and they got to talk about Yale verse Penn State.

I got to ask Vasilli {I apologize for spelling you name wrong but I can’t seem to find the correct spelling} about a request I got from some Greek radio/Tv station that wants to do a documentary. I needed to know if they were a legit station or not. And I got to tell another fan that calling him Mr. Douglas was not funny or cool. I know I am Ms Manners patrol at times.

I got to talk with Mike T about the officials and the need to improve their skills to understand that the game has changed. Then players are faster, and more physical. He was fine with me calling him out on the Blog. That is classy on his part. He even thanked me for writing about the problem. Class.

I actually got to talk with Margo, who was sitting which was nice as I hate feeling like I am some midget around her. I admit to being short but man .... so thanks to Margo for being classy enough to sit so we could talk with her. And I promised Margo I would send Matt Wurst a note asking him to correct the information about her on the player page of the WNBA.com web site. She has been in the league 9 years and her university is spelled Polenz not Poland. Matt was nice about it and made the changes and it was fun being able to help a player out. Especially someone as special as Margo. One more time from the fan gallery, the woman speaks 5 languages! English is hard enough for me. You go girl.

Best of all I got to talk with Kesh for a few minutes and have her sign a copy my R-E-S-P-E-C-T blog post. She said she had read some of them but had not seen this one. The best part was me giving Kesh her own copy and and her asking me to sign it for her. Now THAT is Cool Kesh.

It is the simple things that create loyalty to a team. That night was one of those things. The Sun are my team. And they will always be my team as long as they treat me with respect. Some day the Sun will lose. All teams win and all teams lose. It is the cycle of athletics. But I will stick with the Sun because they respect me as a fan and as a season ticket holder.

I do not need fancy parties or decorations. I do not need a band and dancers. All I need is to be able to say hello and thank you. I need to be able to say hello to my favorite player and thank you for the fun, the memories and great games.

There are teams who have had a losing season after losing season, and they have lost their fan base. Not because they are losing but because they did not treat the fans with respect when they were winning. There are teams who were in the play off hunt who have lost their fan base and were once close to be profitable but are now struggling for the same reasons.

Chicago is learning. They are working on building a fan base. Players are aware of the need for strong fans and will remain after games to sign. They toss t-shirts into the crowd and are polite.

Seattle is the best in the league for their fan relationships. Though Sacramento also gets brownie points. And it kills me to say that both of these teams are better than my beloved Sun.

So here are my suggestions:

Since we are now in the off-season, talk with your STH’s. Some teams are having fan forums and other focus groups. EVERY team should do this. And the league should do this.

Listen when we talk with you. Listen to why we come to games. Listen to why we bought tickets and paraphernalia. Listen to what we think on how you can sell more tickets and give away less to pad your ticket numbers. Listen to how we can communicate with each other. And listen to what we want and need from you to be able to continue to love our teams.

Kym Hampton told me stories once about the “lovefest” that players and fans had with each other during the first few years. She thinks those days are over. With all due respect to Ms Hampton, those days have to continue for another 10 years for this league to grow and thrive. After all the “lovefest” between the fans and the NFL lasted from the Forties into the Sixties.

To plagiarize and adapt a bit, “Let us help you so we can love our teams.”

ACTS OF KINDNESS:

Next in our line of player foundations is Tamika Williams. http://www.tamikawilliams.org/

MINDLESS COMMENTS:

"Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation." --Nelson Mandela

How to Play in the WNBA: 101
Posted: October 4, 2006 6:31 a.m. ET

From Matt and his Editor’s Blog.

My name is Jameka Buchanan and I am in the 8th Grade. I am a very good basketball player. I just want to know what you have to do to be in the WNBA. -Jameka, Cheraw, SC

A. Be older. No I'm kidding! Hi Jameka, and thanks for writing. As someone who never fulfilled his dreams of playing in the WNBA due to obstacles beyond his control, I am not sure I am the best person to give advice on this subject. But just keep playing, learning and working at your game. Challenge yourself to improve and become a multi-talented player. In a few years, if you are still as good as you say, start writing to colleges to learn about what it takes to play there.

{tapping Matt on the shoulder and whispering “I’ll take this one” and tag teaming Matt out of his chair.}

Hi Jameka. I am Melissa.

I have never played in the WNBA but I did play in college. These are some of the things I did do and some of the things I wish I had done. And like Matt, I am not the best person to ask but here is more information than what Matt had room to type.

There are a variety of things you can start doing to improve your skills and learn about basketball to help you play in the WNBA. The most important thing is your education. You need to be very smart to play in the WNBA. An overwhelming majority of the American players have graduated or are just a few classes away from graduation from college. But these usually are the rookies who left college during their last semester in order to play in the WNBA. They usually finish their degree in the fall semester after their first season is finished. A significant number of players also have Masters degrees. Some start their Masters during their “5th year” because they have a year of eligibility left. Some have gone back to school after a few years in the league because they understand the importance of education. So you need to do your homework and study hard in school.

The next thing you can do to help you improve is examine your diet. You are still growing so it is very important that you get all the protein, calcium and other nutrients for your body to be healthy and strong. That means no more sodas. Lots of milk and water. You need to eat vegetables, fresh fruits and a balance of pasta and protein. If you talk with your school nurse she or he will help you understand what is called the nutrition pyramid. You can look it up at the Department of Agriculture. http://www.mypyramid.gov/

Now that you are working on the building blocks of a strong mind and body, lets talk about basketball.

Attitude is everything. Do not talk back to your coaches. Do not argue with the officials. Listen carefully to what is being taught to you. Work hard all the time. Even when the coaches are not watching you. Cause the coaches are always watching you. I can list the names of players who did not make teams or were cut from teams because of their attitude. I also can list names of players who made teams because of their positive attitude. Be positive. Be willing to do anything that a coach asks of you. Look at our National team. If Alana Beard, Katie Smith, Cheryl Ford and other super stars are willing to warm the bench then so should you.

Ask your parents to talk with your town parks and recreation department about travel basketball. These are town teams of girls who play other town teams through out the year. Teams are broken down by grade, starting with the 5th grade and usually 8th grade is the last year of travel ball. There are also summer leagues and AAU basketball. If you ask your parents to look around for local summer camps that focus on basketball. If you live near a WNBA team there might be clinics offered by some of the players or coaches.

Now all of this costs money, so you need to think of ways that you can help earn some of the funds to pay for these activities. You might want to try baby-sitting or pet sitting for your neighbors when they go away. But be sure to talk with your parents and figure out what is affordable and what is going to teach you the most.

After you attend clinics or camps and play on teams you need to listen very carefully to your coaches. Each coach is going to teach you something about the game. At this point you need to focus on the basics. Dribbling/ball handling, rebounds, passing, shooting, and the all important foul shots. Now do not dribble the ball in the house as it really pisses off your mom. Or at least it did my mother. But you can practice moving the ball around your body and through your legs. Your coaches can teach you how to do these drills.

So the last thing you can do at this point in your life to help you get to the WNBA is run. And run. And run some more. This is called cardio. You need to build up your stamina and physical capacity. Do NOT start lifting weights at this time because your body is still growing. When you are in college the strength and conditioning coaches will help you develop a program. Until then just work on your conditioning. SO run everywhere. Run to class. Run to the bus stop. Run around your school track. Run for the track team. Run around your house. Run with your dog. Run after your dog.

So that is Melissa’s primer on how to get to the WNBA. I hope this helps get you started.

ACTS OF KINDNESS:

Next up in our list of player foundations is Diana Taurasi. She had a fundraiser over this past weekend to help build playgrounds. http://www.dianataurasi.com/

MINDLESS COMMENTS:

"Knowledge is power. Why do you think it cost so much to go to college?"

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