In Other News... The WNBA.com Offseason Blog Archive 1
You asked for it, so here it is... the WNBA.com Offseason Blog. "In Other News..." will be your one-stop source for all WNBA-related info and activities taking place this winter. From player appearances, overseas updates, free agent and trade rumors, college prospect tracking and anything else that falls through the net, the Blog will be updated regularly with news, links and photos. All you have to do is remember to keep coming back to get your fill and stay in the loop. | NBA.com Blog Squad
While European teams and leagues got underway in the past few weeks and WNBA players have begun their annual trek across the oceans, the real highlight of the overseas season is the Euro League, which tipped off this weekend in arenas all over the Eastern Hemisphere.
Each year, 18 of the best teams from the the French, Russian, Polish, Lithuanian, Italian and Spanish leagues play a series of games outside of their respective countries in a super, All-Star competition. Divided into three groups of six teams, the qualifying round began this past weekend and extends into January. The teams are then seeded 1-16 and an elimination-style playoff tournament begins. A winner will be crowned in early April.
In games this weekend featuring WNBA stars, Nikki Teasley scored 25 points, grabbed 9 rebounds and dished 3 assists for MKB Euroleasing in a 96-71 loss to Czech Republic heavyweights Gambrinus Brno. Leading the way for Gambrinus was Teasley's former teammate in Los Angeles, DeLisha Milton-Jones, who had a double-double in 24 points and 12 rebounds. Former Charlotte Sting player Mery Andrade teamed up with Storm guard Francesca Zara to give Napoli (Italy) a win over Wisla Can-Pack (Poland) despite Anna DeForge's 24 points for the club from Krakow.
French star Sandra Le Dran and Valenciennes (France) opened up their 2006 EuroLeague Women intentions this week with a 73-64 win against a tough Dynamo Moscow (Russia) outfit. Even though Dynamo is without Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi until the new year, Kamila Vodichkova, Tatiana Shchegoleva and Natalia Vodopyanova give Dynamo one of Europe's most imposing front lines. Vodickova led Dynamo with 14 points while Tammy Sutton-Brown had 6 points and 2 rebounds in her debut with the team. Elsewhere, Maria Stepanova and Ann Wauters each had 15 points BC Volgaburmash's (Russia) 70-59 win over Dexia. Katie Douglas scored 18 points as Lietuvos Telekomas (Lithuania) held off a late challenge from K Cero ICP (Slovakia) to prevail 65-61.
In Other News... Happy Halloween, everyone! A friendly note... be sure to inspect all candy you get today before gorging out on all that yummy chocolate and sugar. I'm actually putting the finishing touches on my Donna Orender costume and getting ready for a day of trick-or-treating...
Posted: By Matt Wurst, Oct. 27, 2005 9:26 a.m. ET
So what do you do if you are an Australian WNBL team and you lose your biggest star for the season? Well, you go out and get another one, of course. Australia native and Storm forward Lauren Jackson had been playing with the Canberra Capitals once again this season, but went down with a leg injury and will be forced to sit out for the remainder of the season and get healthy for the WNBA season. As a short-term replacement, the Caps have signed Mystics guard Alana Beard to join the team immediately.
Also, for those of you wondering just how Liberty center Ann Wauters is healing from the injury that prematurely ended her WNBA season... in her debut with BC Volgaburmash in Russia, Wauters scored 15 points and played alongside Maria Stepanova for a team that could be very difficult to beat once again in this upcoming EuroLeague season.
She Wants the World to Know
Posted: By Matt Wurst, Oct. 26, 2005 11:44 p.m. ET
It is not very often that an athlete can transcend his or her sport and hold the national spotlight on a broader platform. But Comets guard Sheryl Swoopes'announcement this week had far reaching effects that transcended the back pages of newspapers and women's basketball pages on sports web sites.
Posted: By Matt Wurst, Oct. 26, 2005 12:17 a.m. ET
Wizards' Brendan Haywood, Jarvis Hayes and Donell Taylor, Houston Comets' Tina Thompson and Sancho Lyttle, and Rockets' Legend Matt Bullard helped tip-off the Jr. NBA/Jr. NBA season by participating in the Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA All-Star Free Throw Shootout held Sunday, October 23 at the Toyota Center. The kids who made three consecutive baskets will participate in the Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA Activity Court at this year's NBA All-Star Jam Session, presented by Nokia.
Photos: NBAE Images
In Other News... The next big event on the WNBA calendar is the Chicago Sky Expansion Draft. The 13 existing WNBA teams will submit their list of protected players to the league, at which point the Sky will have two weeks to cull through the list and submit the list of their chosen players to the league. As soon as the list is confirmed by the league counsel after November 15, teams will be notified and the list will be made public. The list of protected players will not be made public.
Minnesota's Ping Pong Diplomacy
Posted: By Matt Wurst, Oct. 24, 2005 3:22 p.m. ET
Just before the large conference room at the NBA headquarters on Fifth Avenue was converted into a Lottery drawing room, I asked Lynx coach Suzie McConnell Serio if she brought a good luck charm with her. After all, Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes talked about bringing something to New York to help, so perhaps Suzie did as well.
"Big Bertha" gets ready to go to work.
"I brought Roger with me," McConnell Serio joked, referring to Lynx Chief Operating Officer Roger Griffith.
Well, it worked. The Lynx had the third best odds to win the coveted top pick, and apparently every little bit helped. As the numbers were being called out that determined each team's fate, the 13 WNBA coaches in the room along with team General Managers and other executives from all 14 teams were all animated and chatted impatiently. Muggsy Bogues and Trudi Lacey stood together off to one side, Dan Hughes sat in the back of the room by himself and Mercury General Manager Seth Sulka sat anxiously with his Blackberry in hand ready to let everyone know just how his team fared. After all, this was the first time that coaches were allowed in the room for the actual selection.
McConnell Serio and Griffith realized just after the first numbers were called that their team had won the top pick. They did their best to hide their excitement from the other coaches in the room, but celebrated with each other and accepted congratulations from the rest of the room.
"It was a little bit of relief, but mostly excitement," Griffith said immediately after the order was determined. "Now we control what happens in the next Draft and we have a whole entire college season to decide just what we want to do and what will be best for our team. This creates more excitement for our fans. You have seen the impact that other top draft picks have had in the past and it gives us an opportunity to be in that position."
Suzie McConnell Serio shares her joy over winning the top pick.
"I was nervous as they were doing it all," McConnell Serio said. "Roger was the numbers person and was studying the chart we had to see what pick we would get. Initially, it didn't look good, so when that last number came up, there was a nervous excitement and I really didn't know how to act. We were in a room full of the coaches. We wanted to be excited, but we also wanted to contain our emotions... so we were waiting for them to actually announce that we had the pick after we already knew. Inside, I was very, very, excited."
Minnesota, by its own admission, will be focusing on perimeter players. After trading Katie Smith to Detroit last season and the uncertainty surrounging all of the international players, the Lynx will have a difficult choice to make. However, this could end up being the deepest Draft class in history. With players like L.S.U.'s Seimone Augustus, Duke's Monique Currie, Baylor's Sophia Young and Rutgers guard Cappie Pondexter to choose from, all of the Lottery teams are winners today.
"I have been scouting for a number of years now, so this upcoming class is the one that I have gotten to watch since they were freshmen," McConnell Serio said. "Being able to watch them grow has been amazing because we had an eye on these players when they were younger and this is their big year. But there is a lot of pressure on teams with the number one pick and we will look for someone with talent who will make an immediate impact and who can have a lot of longevity in this league. We hope we select the right one who can come in and blend with our great, young team."
Mercury G.M. Seth Sulka spreads the good news via email.
In Other News... Prior to the ping pong balls going into "Big Bertha" (a loving nickname we have for our Lottery machine), Detroit Shock coach Bill Laimbeer actually predicted that the Lynx and Mercury would get the top two picks, and, of course, reminded everyone in the room he had done so after the selections were announced. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for other big news resulting from the Competition meetings today...
Lynx Win Lottery
Posted: By Matt Wurst, Oct. 24, 2005 2:48 p.m. ET
Despite the odds, the Minnesota Lynx have won the 2006 WNBA Draft Lottery. Here is the first round order:
4. San Antonio
8. Los Angeles
9. New York
Lynx representatives at the Lottery drawing were Roger Griffith and coach Suzie McConnell Serio. We're going to get their initial reactions right now...
The Order of Business
Posted: By Matt Wurst, Oct. 24, 2005 8:52 a.m. ET
A veritable braintrust of WNBA and NBA league and team brass will be gathering in New York this morning for the league's annual Competition Committee meetings. Featuring team coaches, general managers, broadcasting partners and top league executives, the group will discuss potential rules changes for the 2006 season as well as the season schedule. Once the group reaches a decision, it is passed along to the Board of Governors for their approval.
And while everyone is town, we might as well have a Draft Lottery, right? So, immediately after the Competition meetings wrap up later this afternoon, the Draft Lottery will take place in the same conference room at NBA Headquarters in New York City. Estimated time is somewhere around 3 p.m. As soon as the order is selected, WNBA.com will be the first place to post the results, so check back this afternoon for more.
Posted: By Matt Wurst, Oct. 21, 2005 10:06 a.m. ET
We all know that Shock forward Swin Cash is a busy woman. From rehabilitating her knee and developing various entreperneurial and charitable enterprises to traveling the country for appearances and moving into a new home, it has been quite difficult to track her down and see just how she is doing. Naturally, the best time to get her is when she is asleep, which is when I called. But that did not stop her or slow her down at all and she was, obviously, quite eager to chat.
Matt Wurst: "Good morning, Swin. How are you?" Swin
Cash: "Hi Matt (a little groggy)." M.W.: "Sorry
for waking you. Want me to call back? I could use more sleep, for sure." S.C.:
"No, this is a good time. I will be busy all day and
needed to get up. So what's up?" M.W.: "Well, I just wanted
to see how you're doing with everything and give everyone an update of how your
rehab is coming along." S.C.: "Absolutely, let's
do it (no longer groggy)." M.W.: "So this past year was
a struggle to get back to 100%, which you probably never did. What are you doing
now and how is it going?" S.C.: "First I just want
to thank all of the fans for all of the support and compassion that they have
expressed to me. This has been a tough year for me on and off the court. I am
grateful and very appreciative for everything. Right now I am in the process of
getting back to being the old Swin Cash. Or better than what I was before. I am
working extremely hard in Detroit with a personal trainer and I will guarantee
that I will be back in 2006 like my old self. I am excited and looking forward
to next season." M.W.: "What types of things are you doing
with the personal trainer?" S.C.: "We do an overall
workout. When you are a top athlete, you might not always work on some of your
imperfections and that is how you get injured. So we work on strength and conditioning,
we do a lot of core work and we are looking under a microscope at all the small
mechanics of my running, shooting and movement. All to become better. I am a perfectionist
in certain things." M.W.: "Does that also include work
on the court as well?" S.C.: "It's kind of funny
because right now, for the last month or so, we stripped away the basketball part
of things and are just working on my body, on Swin Cash the woman. I am focused
on getting back to 100%." M.W.: "That can't be easy, not
playing..." S.C.: "A lot of times, as an athlete,
we think that if we can go out on the basketball court and work very hard, everything
will just fall in line. Now I'm learning how to take a step back. I am also working
on the nutrition part as well as my overall mechanics. Anyone who knows me knows
that I want to go, go, go and get out there, but I am learning patience. That's
the hardest thing for me because I feel like I haven't played basketball now in
over a year. I look at myself this summer and that wasn't really me." M.W.:
"Ummmm, who was it then?" S.C.: "It just feels
like that was another person. I was just kind of going through the motions and
was not really myself, and that was frustrating. But now I'm happy to have the
best people taking care of me and helping me get back to where I need to be." M.W.:
"You have plenty of time, though. Sounds like you're not rushing things." S.C.:
"That's one of the good things about the WNBA. Our offseason gives
me the ability to come back and be there for my teammates and the fans next year.
I'm just making sure I take care of things this time." M.W.: "Maybe
good in some ways, but I'm ready to go at it again." S.C.: "It's
funny because I was talking to Catch (Tamika Catchings) and she was like 'Don't
go overseas and don't play basketball again until you are 100% because you will
regret it.' That really scared me because I know she went through the same thing
and she told me that it was not the first year but the second year when you come
back and really feel at your best." M.W.: "So that's something
to look forward to, then. Plus next year is a big year..." S.C.:
"Yeah, with the World Championships coming up and so many other
things that I want to do, I am glad to be giving myself the proper rest. But I
don't mean a real rest, because I'm still working it." M.W.:
"I didn't think you were doing nothing. That would have surprised me." S.C.:
"(Laughs). Well thanks for calling." M.W.: "Just
glad you are doing well. Thanks for chatting. I'm going back to sleep." S.C.:
"Not me. Time to start running around. Talk to you later."
In Other News... Start me up. Tonight's Rolling Stones concert will be the first event at the new Charlotte Arena in Charlotte, NC. The arena will serve as the new home to the Charlotte Sting and Charlotte Bobcats. The arena features all of the latest in state-of-the-art presentation technology and is located just steps away from a variety of office buildings, restaurants, stores and the main transit terminal in downtown Charlotte.
We are very excited to be the only Carolinas tour stop for the Rolling Stones, said Charlotte Bobcats Arena Chief Operating Officer Barry Silberman. I cant think of a better act to open the Charlotte Bobcats Arena. They have defined rock and roll for millions of fans worldwide. We hope the Stones are as excited about being our first event as we are happy to welcome them to Charlottes new state-of-the-art arena."
Let's just hope that Charlotte fans can get some satisfaction...
Ping Pong, Anyone?
Posted: By Matt Wurst, Oct. 20, 2005 1:40 p.m. ET
Get the ping pong balls ready because the WNBA has now officially announced that the 2006 WNBA Draft Lottery will be held on Monday, October 24th in New York City. The late announcement is the result of several factors. Primarily, the league's competition committee will be meeting on Monday to discuss potential rule changes, the schedule and other factors, so many league team executives will already be in on that date. Second, the date announcement was held off as long as possible to determine availability for potential television coverage.
Previous Draft Lotteries have been held in December, however with the upcoming Expansion Draft, the date needed to be moved up. Teams will submit their list of six protected players on November 1 and the Chicago Sky will have two weeks to submit their list of selected players. However, because teams can trade Draft picks for to the Sky for not choosing a particular player, the Draft order needed to be finalized in advance. Further, if a team has any intention of designating one of their free agents a core player, they must be kept on the protected list. Watch NBA TV and check back here for more coverage of the Draft Lottery.
In Other News... Sun center Margo Dydek was traded from the Silver Stars during the 2005 WNBA Draft for the eighth overall pick. That pick ultimately became center Katie Feenstra, who is back on campus at Liberty University to finish up her classes. Meanwhile, Dydek is back in Poland, but has decided to take some time off from playing with her Polish team, Lotos Gdynia, to get a much-needed rest. Speaking of Europe, the Russian team led by Maria Stepanova, Samara, once again captured the FIBA World Cup championship. Featuring many of the best club teams from around Europe and open to any team around the world, Samara .
Draft Lottery Coming Monday
Posted: By Matt Wurst, Oct. 19, 2005 5:37 p.m. ET
The WNBA will announce tomorrow that the 2006 Draft Lottery will take place on Monday, October 24. The five teams with a chance of winning the top overall pick are the San Antonio Silver Stars, the Charlotte Sting, the Minnesota Lynx, the Washington Mystics and the Phoenix Mercury. Stay tuned for an official release tomorrow, along with each team's odds and detailed information.
In Other News... Storm center Lauren Jackson, who has been playing this offseason in Australia after taking the last offseason off to rest and recover from myriad injuries, may be injured once again. Her season with Canberra is in doubt after suffering a stress fracture in her left leg.
Finally, the WNBA has also been recognized in a prominent national study comparing opportunities for women and minorities in five professional sports leagues. The WNBA was the only league to earn top marks.
A Celebration for Women, by Women
Posted: By Matt Wurst, Oct. 18, 2005 11:44 a.m. ET
The NBA officially adopted a dress code for its players this week, and while it doesn't apply to the players in the WNBA, more than a dozen current and former players were fully decked last night, sporting formal dresses and gowns and heeled shoes.
The Womens Sports Foundation (WSF) held its Annual Salute to Women in Sports Awards Dinner and Auction, a black-tie event, at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City and more than 100 female athletes as well as more than 1,000 guests were on hand to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of women in sport. Not only were great individuals and teams honored, but the organization started by tennis great Billie Jean King 26 years ago also recognized the WNBA's accomplishments and presented the WNBA with a framed Resolution signed by Billie Jean King lauding the league's upcoming 10th Anniversary.
Chastain, Sue Bird, Becky Hammon and Tamika Catchings. NBAE Photos
Beard working the room. NBAE Photos
Each October, the Womens Sports Foundation gathers the most decorated female athletes together with celebrities from film and television to celebrate the achievements of women in sports and highlight the best individual and team performances of the year. Celebrities like LL Cool J, Penny Marshall, Elisabeth Hasselback, Star Jones-Reynolds and Soledad O'Brien mingled, posed for pictures with and even presented awards to legendary athletes like soccer greats Mia Hamm and Julie Foudy, tennis great Martina Navratilova, gymnasts Carly Patterson and Dominique Dawes and Olympic gold medalists from more than 25 sports. L.L. Cool J had the line of the night, looking around the room and saying, There are amazing genetics in this room.
The highlight of the night for everyone is always to see players of different sports come together, each one fans of the other. Kara Lawson got a kick out of seeing pool great Jeanette "The Black Widow" Lee, Catchings and soccer star Brandi Chastain posed for photos together in their Nike "Save Title IX" wrist bands while Alana Beard (sporting a fashionable, new hairstyle) worked the circuit from LL Cool J to X Games skiier Sarah Burke and figure skating champion Katarina Witt. Cash almost didn't make it as her luggage did not arrive in New York when she did, sending her scrambling for a dress.
On CNN's "American Morning," Soledad O'Brien's show, the anchor talked about how inspired she was by the athletes on the air a little after 8:30 this morning.
"I don't do late nights or really go to many events like that, but I was totally inspired," O'Brien told her co-anchors. "After meeting all of those athletes, I was inspired to be a female athlete. But starting tomorrow."
The WNBA is, hands down, the most successful women's professional sports league ever. As it prepares for its 10th season, the league's highlights include growing ratings and global viewership; private ownership of three teams -- the Connecticut Sun, the Washington Mystics and the Chicago Sky; and, a growing talent base including rising stars who were in attendance last night. The league's success has not gone unnoticed.
Ann Meyers, Diana Taurasi, Coach Vivian Stringer, Taj McWilliams-Franklin and Kym Hampton.NBAE Photos
Sue Wicks, LL Cool J, Becky Hammon,Swin Cash. NBAE Photos
Neither have its forebearers. Among the Hall of Fame inductees last night was legendary center Lusia Harris-Stewart, who played on the silver-medal winning 1976 U.S. Olympic team and scored the first basket in women's Olympic basketball history. After being introduced by former teammate and fellow Hall-of-Famer Ann Meyers, Harris talked about how blessed she was to have been able to play the game she loves.
Of course, after the official celebration came to an end, several of the players headed out for a night out on the town. After all, it will be the last time many of them will be together for the next few months as they head their separate ways overseas. NBA star Allen Iverson, in town to play the Knicks, hosted a small gathering of friends, which drew an enthusiastic crowd, though most did not stay up too late. After all, everyone had early flights this morning.
In Other News... Check out this great story that David Aldridge and Ashley Fox wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer this week on the future of professional sports. Journalism at its best, really. And while you're clicking around, former Sparks coach and current D-League coach Michael Cooper talks about how the success of the WNBA can be used as a model to develop other leagues.
Hammon Back at Home
Posted: By Matt Wurst, Oct. 16, 2005 11:57 p.m. ET
After spending some time visiting friends and family in Colorado, where she starred at Colorado State University in college, Liberty guard Becky Hammon was back in New York City this weekend for both business and pleasure.
Hammon, who has an offseason home in the Big Apple, made an appearance this afternoon signing autographs at DigitalLife, "The ultimate consumer technology and entertainment event." She appeared at the Nokia booth greeting fans and signing autographs. DigitalLife spanned Friday to Sunday and showcased the latest in all things digital. Visitors and expo attendees got to test drive cutting edge products for the holidays, preview, compare and buy exclusive products before they hit the stores and even try out the hottest new and unreleased games in the Gaming Pavilion. Of course, getting to meet celebrities and athletes was pretty cool, too. Among other guests were actresses Carmen Electra and Jessica Alba, New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera and model Rachel Hunter.
But the South Dakota native, obviously an avid fan of the outdoors, could not be kept inside on this crisp, fall Sunday in New York. After leaving the expo, she headed uptown with her golden retriever, Cody, and met up with some friends who were playing touch football at a park along the Hudson River where she cheered them on. Capping off her busy day, Hammon then joined Taurasi and other friends to celebrate Sue Bird's 25th birthday at the trendy pan-Asian restaurant Mr. Chow.
So just how swanky is the place. During dinner, an entourage of perhaps 10 people or so joined Knicks guard Quentin Richardson at an adjacent table. Fully decked in a gray suit, Richardson is clearly enjoying his new home in New York. Just a few minutes later, rapper-turned-actor LL Cool J arrived with a smaller group and was quickly seated. LL was dressed to the hilt in a black pinstripe suit and his signature matching hat. Just a few minutes into his meal, LL got up and walked over to a neighboring table to say hello to hip hop mogul Russell Simmons, who was also dining with a small group. Needless to say, WNBA players know how to dine in style and can certainly hold their own in the celebrity scene.
Bird, who also spends much of her offseason in New York, along with Hammon and Taurasi will be a part of a larger group of WNBA players in town for tomorrow night's Women's Sports Foundation annual gala at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in midtown Manhattan. Tamika Catchings, Swin Cash, Alana Beard, Kara Lawson and Taj McWilliams-Franklin will be among the other honored guests at the black tie event. More details to follow on this later in the week.
Costume Shopping with Diana
Posted: By Matt Wurst, Oct. 16, 2005 2:35 p.m. ET
Diana Taurasi gets in some Halloween costume shopping in New York City. NBAE Photos
Ticha Wins the World Over
Posted: By Matt Wurst, Oct. 14, 2005 11:13 a.m. ET
It has been quite the past few months for Monarchs guard Ticha Penicheiro who never really gets a break between her WNBA and overseas seasons. However, back in Portugal for just a few days before leaving for Russia to play for Spartak Moscow, the WNBA champion received the 'Medalha de Honra ao Merito Desportivo' (medal honoring outstanding sporting achievement) in her native land.
She was honored by Laurentino Dias, minister of sports, in her home town Figueira da Foz. The ceremony was at the Ginasio Clube Figueirense, the team where Ticha started playing basketball as a six year old, coached by her father.
Laurentino Dias presents Penicheiro with the medal. ASF/Raul Cardoso
"I am honored to receive this award and proud of my club, Figueirense, and my country Portugal and am pleased to elevate the name of my country
and town all over the world," Ticha said with tears in her eyes.
During the ceremony, Ticha presented a Monarchs jersey to Laurentino Dias.
In Other News... You may recall we talked about Katie Douglas' big Greek wedding a few weeks back. Well, the photos are in thanks to some of Katie's friends and the Connecticut Sun.
Man on Mann
Posted: By Matt Wurst, Oct. 11, 2005 4:06 p.m. ET
Minnesota Lynx forward Kristen Mann just arrived in Spain (literally, this morning) where she will be spending the next few months honing her skills. She checked in with me this afternoon on Instant Messenger and filled me in on her trip thus far... This is our actual conversation. No, seriously, it is.
(Note that our screennames have been changed to keep Kristen's overseas wireless bill down):
KristenM (3:11:33 PM): Hey, man.
How r u? WurstMattWNBA (3:11:59 PM): What's
up, K-Mann. You feel far away. Where are you exactly? KristenM
(3:12:18 PM): I'm in Zaragoza, Spain, though right this second, driving
to Barcelona. WurstMattWNBA (3:12:23 PM): Didn't
you just get there? You're already traveling? KristenM
(3:12:27 PM): We play 2morrow. WurstMattWNBA
(3:12:43 PM): So are you all settled? What is the name of your team? KristenM
(3:13:15 PM): My team is Filtros Mann... I'm actually on the same team
as Kristin Rasmussen. KristenM (3:13:28 PM): I'm
filling in for Janel McCarville. WurstMattWNBA (3:13:29
PM): Are you the only americans? KristenM
(3:13:42 PM): Yes, just me n Rass. WurstMattWNBA
(3:13:52 PM): How is your Spanish? KristenM
(3:14:07 PM): I doubt I'm playing 2morrow. lol. WurstMattWNBA
(3:14:35 PM): So you do not speak spanish is the answer, i'm guessing.
Have you gotten a warm welcome from the team? KristenM
(3:14:37 PM): Yeah, they welcomed me by leaving me on the bus... by
myself.... Locked in the bus, by the way. KristenM
(3:14:43 PM): Lol WurstMattWNBA (3:14:43
PM): On purpose? Like hazing? KristenM
(3:14:57 PM): No, not on purpose. WurstMattWNBA
(3:15:04 PM): So they just forgot about the new girl? KristenM
(3:15:20 PM): Well, I haven't slept and as soon as we got on the bus,
I passed out. When I woke up, we were stopped somewhere and I couldnt get out KristenM
(3:15:26 PM): Lol WurstMattWNBA (3:15:39
PM): So you just landed this morning? KristenM
(3:15:51 PM): Yep. 8am, then drove 3 hrs to Zaragoza.... Was in my
apartment for like 4 hours and then left again for Barcelona. WurstMattWNBA
(3:16:06 PM): Sounds like fun. So how long u there for? KristenM
(3:16:36 PM): Til Dec. WurstMattWNBA (3:16:42
PM): So what happened to Janel? KristenM
(3:16:54 PM): Herniated disc. She was here for 2 weeks WurstMattWNBA
(3:17:42 PM): So how long have you been on the bus now? KristenM
(3:18:14 PM): We've been on the bus since 5:30... And its 9:20. KristenM
(3:18:59 PM): And I haven't eaten since this morning... I'm starving! KristenM
(3:19:11 PM): We've only stopped once. WurstMattWNBA
(3:19:39 PM): You'll have some nice local cuisine tonight. KristenM
(3:19:57 PM): If we ever get there!!! WurstMattWNBA
(3:23:50 PM): So how many games a week do you have? KristenM
(3:23:57 PM): I don't know WurstMattWNBA
(3:24:13 PM): Awesome. Well, I hope someone tells you... KristenM
(3:24:14 PM): I didn't know we had a game 2morrow til I got to my apartment
this morning. WurstMattWNBA (3:24:17 PM): Hahaha. KristenM
(3:24:20 PM): Lol WurstMattWNBA (3:24:22
PM): So are you living alone? KristenM
(3:24:37 PM): Yes KristenM (3:24:49
PM): One of my teammates is next door and she speaks english. WurstMattWNBA
(3:24:51 PM): so how did you know what you had to do today? Like where
to go? KristenM (3:25:11 PM): B/c the
president of the club was with me all day. KristenM
(3:25:38 PM): And one of the ladies that works in the office came along
to translate everything. WurstMattWNBA (3:25:48 PM):
Like a welcoming committee? KristenM (3:26:03 PM):
Hahaha WurstMattWNBA (3:26:39 PM):
How was the flight over? Long? KristenM (3:27:42
PM): Hmmm... The bathroom was right behind me so I couldnt recline
my chair... Therefore no sleep for me. WurstMattWNBA
(3:27:55 PM): And this bus ride. You must be bored, right? KristenM (3:27:59 PM): We
just watched Finding Nemo in spanish. WurstMattWNBA
(3:28:07 PM): excelente! KristenM (3:28:07
PM): Which was funny. WurstMattWNBA (3:28:11
PM): Did you get it? KristenM (3:28:40
PM): Yeah, only b/c I've seen the movie 100 times WurstMattWNBA
(3:28:52 PM): So any friends yet? KristenM
(3:29:10 PM): Just my neighbor... She's greek. WurstMattWNBA
(3:30:25 PM): And have you had a sit-down with the coach yet to go
over your role? KristenM (3:30:51 PM):
Nope... He just introduced himself. KristenM (3:30:56
PM): I doubt ill play 2morrow WurstMattWNBA
(3:30:59 PM): So how do they have any idea how good you are if you
haven't even practiced yet? KristenM (3:31:09 PM):
They've seen film. KristenM (3:31:15 PM):
So anything going on in America? WurstMattWNBA (3:31:59
PM): Nah, same old stuff. KristenM
(3:32:15 PM): Hold down the fort for me, ok? WurstMattWNBA
(3:32:53 PM): I'll do my best. Good thing holding down forts are my
strong point. Well get some sleep. Thanks for checking in. KristenM
(3:33:05 PM): Thank u. Talk to you later :-)
Go West, Young Team
Posted: By Matt Wurst, Oct. 10, 2005 2:04 p.m. ET
And the Mercury coach is... Paul Westhead. Sticking with the popular trend to hire NBA guys to lead WNBA teams, Phoenix G.M. Seth Sulka has hired the former NBA coach to lead his young team.
Wait, don't look now, but a track meet just broke out in Phoenix! I hope those Air Taurasi sneakers are made for running because that is exactly what Coach Westhead likes to do. Known for his teams that produced fast-breaking, high-scoring offenses, Westhead guided Magic, Kareem and the rest of the Showtime Lakers to a championship in 1980. That team scored a whopping 115.1 points per game. He has also been the head coach for the following NBA teams: Chicago (1982-83) and Denver (1990-92), compiling a 184-224 (.451) record.
While coaching at Loyola Marymount from 1985 to 1990, Westhead amassed a 105-48 record in five seasons, including three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and a berth in the Elite Eight in 1990. The team also boasted one of the most potent offenses in NCAA history -- 112.5 points per game, an all-time NCAA record. Loyola Marymount led the nation in scoring for three seasons and holds the all-time single game record of 181 points.
In Other News... Eight of the nine WNBA champions in history have been coached by a man. There are currently only three female head coaches of the 14 WNBA teams.
New Coach in Phoenix
Posted: By Matt Wurst, Oct. 10, 2005 9:18 p.m. ET
The Phoenix Mercury will hold a press conference tomorrow, Tuesday, October 11, 2005, at 2 p.m. to name the new head coach for the 2006 season. Of course, the rumors are already running wild. For the past month, several names had been floated for the post vacated when Carrie Graf's contract was not extended. UConn coach Geno Auriemma was briefly mentioned, as were former Suns players Cedric Ceballos and Dan Majerle as well as former Shock coach and current ESPN and WNBA.com analyst Nancy Lieberman. However, indications are that the new Mercury coach has NBA coaching experience, which would rule out all of the aforementioned individuals. Stay tuned to WNBA.com as the new coach will be posted at 2 p.m. on Tuesday.
Posted: By Matt Wurst, Oct. 9, 2005 4:02 p.m. ET
You've seen how good they can be with a basketball in their hands, but WNBA athletes are just that. Athletes. So you would think that they'd also be just as impressive on the golf course, right? Well...
This weekend, several WNBA luminaries showed their stuff at two celebrity golf tournaments. On Friday, six time WNBA All-Star Nykesha Sales hosted her Fifth Annual Celebrity Golf Tournament at Tunxis Golf Course in Farmington, Conn. Among the celebrities that joined Nykesha for this year's event were fellow WNBA All-Star and UConn alum Sue Bird, USA Soccer Coaching legend and former WUSA Commissioner Tony DiCicco and Annia Hatch, 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist in Gymnastics. The tournament was sponsored by AETNA and Northeast Utilities Systems with all proceeds going to the Aurora Women and Girls Foundation. In the five years, Nykseha's tournament has raised more than $100,000 for Aurora's Grants program, which has contributed to a variety of organizations in Connecticut.
Tomorrow, NBA Hall-of-Famers and current WNBA head coaches will be at the Bonita Bay Golf Club in Bonita Springs, Fla. to play in the Florida Flame-Century 21 Sunbelt Celebrity Golf Classic. Put on by the D-League's Florida Flame, the event will bring participants side-by-side with professional athletes and local celebrities for a two-day event that aims to raise over $400,000 to assist Easter Seals with their efforts to provide equality to children and adults with disabilities. Shock coach Bill Laimbeer, Chicago Sky coach Dave Cowens and former Sparks coach (and current D-League coach) Michael Cooper will play alongside fellow NBA legends Artis Gilmore, Jo Jo White, Matt Guokas and many more. The event will include a classic Black Tie Dinner and Auction tonight and an 18-hole golf tournament tomorrow.
Their scores will remain between them and their playing partners...
In Other News... You may be wondering if the WNBA will be sending a select team to this month's World Cup in Russia. In short, they won't. The bi-annual tournament that has featured some of the best club teams around the world in the past will be without many of the marquee names in 2005. Back in 2003, the WNBA fielded a team of young stars new to international competition for the 2003 FIBA Women's World Cup. The team lacked many of the regular USA Basketball superstars, many of whom were already playing for their own club teams at that point.
The tournament hosts, ANSO Volgaburmash Samara, emerged victorious with a team consisting of Chamique Holdsclaw, Mwadi Mabika, Maria Stepanova and Kamila Vodichkova. The WNBA select team finished second. The WNBA and USA Basketball had considered sending a young team again this year, but decided against the idea.
That event is completely unrelated to the 2006 FIBA World Championships, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Brazil from September 12-23, 2006. The United States already has a bye as defending Olympic champions. The U.S. is also the defending World Champions, capturing its record seventh gold medal, and second straight gold, in China at the 2002 FIBA World Championship.
Catch and the Kids
Posted: By Matt Wurst, Oct. 6, 2005 9:21 a.m. ET
Believe it or not, Fever forward Tamika Catchings wasn't always the confident, self-assured woman that she is today. Growing up, a hearing impairment made her shy and quiet. I guess you can say she has come out of her shell. But more than that, she's helping kids today to do the same. That's good stuff.
Catchings' presentation was part of the WNBA's Be Smart - Be Fit - Be Yourself initiative.Fever photos
On Tuesday, the 2005 Defensive Player of the Year was quite busy, heading back to schools around the Indianapolis area and speaking at two Fever Self-Esteem with groups of middle-school-age girls. First she traveled to Carmels Creekside Middle School for a morning visit and then went over to Brownsburg West Middle School. Along with Cynthia Knabe, a healthy relationship program facilitator, their presentations focused on building healthy relationships and self-esteem, issues that most affect middle-school-age girls.
And after hearing Catch do her thing, it's hard not to be pumped up.
In Other News... So just about every WNBA player has a Sidekick these days. You know what a Sidekick is... those handheld computer-looking things that also serve as phones, cameras, personal organizers, text messaging devices, washing machines and space shuttle guidance controls all in one. You'll see Alana Beard, Swin Cash, Sue Bird, Tamika Williams or Kristen Mann tinkering with them just about every time they are not holding a basketball in their hands.
Who are they instant messaging with, anyway (the same question applies to cab drivers on cell phones, by the way)? Well, probably each other. And their NBA friends like Jamal Crawford, Ben Gordon and Josh Childress. So of course it is only natural that the manufacturer of the Sidekick, T-Mobile, just signed a major deal with the WNBA and NBA to become the Official Wireless Services Partner of the NBA and WNBA.
Posted: By Matt Wurst, Oct. 5, 2005 4:56 p.m. ET
If you're anything like me, you just can't get enough of Richie Adubato. The Mystics head coach with the stellar collection of ties and matching pocket silks has just signed on to work as radio color analyst for Orlando Magic games for the 2005-06 NBA season. Adubato, the George Clooney of the WNBA sidelines, was formerly the head coach of the Magic in 1997 as well as coach of the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks.
In Other News... Rumor has it that UConn women's basketball is very popular, especially in the New England area. And they sure do love their champions. As the Huskies celebrate their annual Men's Basketball Madness and the Women's Basketball SuperShow, a A trio of former University of Connecticut basketball standouts will be making special appearances as guest emcees at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn. Fans will be greeted at the Women's SuperShow by former National Players of the Year Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi on Saturday, Oct. 15 at 4:00 p.m. ET. Former men's basketball star Donny Marshall will be the guest emcee for Men's Basketball Madness, which is slated for Friday, Oct. 14. For more info about the free events, check out UConnHuskies.com.
The Hops Down Under
Posted: By Matt Wurst, Oct. 2, 2005 4:01 p.m. ET
Storm guard Lauren Jackson spent some of the 2005 WNBA season fighting through an injured back. However, in the weeks since the end of Seattle's season, the rest and recuperation did her good. In returning to her native Australia for the start of the WNBL season, there was some doubt as to the health of her back. However, just before her debut last night, doctors gave her a clean bill of health and gave her the go-ahead to play for the Canberra Capitals.
So how did she do in the opener?
In leading the Capitals to a 91-47 win over The AIS, Jackson led all scorers with 39 points. She was also quite the popular attraction for the fans as well... everytime she touched the ball, the crowd cheered loudly. Fever guard and Capitals teammate Tully Bevilaqua tallied seven assists and Coach Carrie Graf, the former Phoenix Mercury coach, got the win.
Jackson, Bevilaqua and Graf are not the only names in the WNBL that WNBA fans might be familiar with. The Phoenix Mercury's Belinda Snell scored 33 points for the Sydney Flames (where she is playing with Trisha Fallon and Kristen Veal) in the opener against Bulleen Melbourne Boomers on Friday night. Sun forward Laura Summerton and 2005 Sun Draft pick Erin Phillips are also teammates for the Adelaide Fellas. The Aussies are certainly no stranger to the WNBA throughout the league's nine year history, but the international presence is certainly one of the primary reasons for the parity across the WNBA that Kevin Pelton recently wrote about.
In Other News... Shock forward Swin Cash hosted her 26th birthday party in Detroit on Friday night with players and coaches from her own team, former college teammates as well as members of the Detroit Pistons and Lions. Sounds like fun. But Cash also used the festive occasion to raise money for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Held at a swanky nightclub, VIP tickets were sold offering the chance to "mingle with players from the NBA, NFL and WNBA" with proceeds going to the Cash for Kids Foundation.
Cash launched her foundation earier this year to "help children get back in the game, whether it's on the field or in the classroom," but will also help children affected by Katrina. Those who were in attendance got to see the likes of Shock coach and former Pistons great Rick Mahorn, Lions rookie wide receiver Mike Williams and current Pistons All-Star Ben Wallace hanging out with Storm guard Sue Bird, DJ Clue (the featured artist at the event) and rapper Freeway.
"We want to support youth in their efforts to develop skills both inside and outside the classroom," Cash said in a press release. "And nowhere else is that needed more than for the displaced youth on the Gulf Coast."
From Long Distance
Posted: By Matt Wurst, Sept. 30, 2005 10:01 a.m. ET
Congratulations are in order for Sun guard Katie Douglas. Not only did her Connecticut team make it back to the Finals for the second straight year and finish the regular season with the best record in the league, but Douglas got married yesterday. Mazel Tov! With plenty of challenges already built in to picking a wedding date and organizing the biggest day of your life just one week after the end of the WNBA season, Douglas and her new husband Vasilis tied the knot in Athens, Greece. With no time to spare, Douglas was already making lists of things that she needed to do on the flight from Sacramento last week.
Vasilis was actually born and raised in Greece and works overseas, but the couple will also enjoy a more traditional reception back in Katie's home in Indiana once they return to the States. There is no word where the couple is registered since my invitationg must have gotten lost in the mail when I changed addresses, but in lieu of expensive gifts, click here to send Katie and her new husband your best wishes.
In other news... During the craziness of the WNBA Finals, Storm forward Alicia Thompson became the first WNBA player to retire this offseason, at least the first to make it official. (Fever center Natalie Williams announced her retirement during the season and said her farewells during the final weeks of the regular season, though she is still listed as a free agent).
Thompson played two seasons in Seattle and won a championship with the team in 2004. She appeared in 143 career games with three different teams dating back to 1998. On the bright side for Storm fans, who will no doubt miss Shell's warm presence, she will free up cap room for the strapped Storm to go out and sign some free agents instead of losing them.
Finally, a big happy birthday to Sparks forward Raffaella Masciadri, who turns 25 today. Too bad I don't know how to say "Happy Birthday" in Italian.
I'd Like to Solve the Puzzle
Posted: By Matt Wurst, Sept. 29, 2005 10:15 p.m. ET
With the first of the college polls coming out this week, we can't help but get excited that college hoops is just around the corner and a good diversion during the WNBA offseason. It's probably too early to speculate which seniors will be wearing which WNBA jerseys next summer, but that excitement has also been quelled by the tragic passing of Arizona senior center Shawtinice Polk this week.
Prior to the 2005 WNBA Draft, there was some question as to whether Polk would forego her final season of eligibility and join the pro ranks. Having red-shirted one season at Arizona, the option to come out early was available to her as she had been in college for four years. The WNBA Player Personnel Department even had Polk high on its confidential list of possible posts very early on before Polk made up her mind to return to school. ESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel and S.I.'s Kelli Anderson both wrote moving features this week that made us all wonder what could have been...
On a (much) lighter note, Liberty guard Becky Hammon and Lisa Leslie were a part of a group of NBA players including Baron Davis, Mike Bibby, Amare Stoudemire, Rip Hamilton and Carmelo Anthony to name a few, who participated in the taping of a week's worth of Wheel of Fortune episodes in Los Angeles last week. With money raised going to aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina and Rita, the players spun the big wheel and worked the big puzzle board and had a lot of fun in the process.
"I think this is an awesome opportunity for us as athletes to help and give back to the hurricane victims," Leslie said. "Money is just what they need to get back on their feet right now, and that is why we are here."
Not to give anything away, but Leslie, who has also worked as a model, gave Vanna White a run for her money by helping to turn the letters to the puzzle.
"I think Vanna does have to worry about me replacing her," Leslie joked. "Some of the letters are hard to reach. She is 5-6 and I am 6-5, though one of the letters was a little low for me, so maybe I have to keep her on as my back-up."
Fortunately, Leslie spent four years at one of the best universities in the land, the University of Souther California, and is well-versed in the alphabet. Of course, there was some real skill involved and the players took the game very seriously.
"I think you have to be very observant and be able to pay attention to the letters," Sonics guard Ray Allen said. "You have to be quick because those letters come up and go fast."
The episodes of the nationally syndicated and highly popular game show won't air until November.
Speaking of good causes, the annual WNBA.com Breast Health Auction gets underway starting on November 7th, with proceeds benefiting the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. The prizes, as always, will be great. Who know, maybe we'll even auction off a chance at guest blogging on WNBA.com. Stay tuned for more...
In other news... In an effort to aid Hurricane Katrina relief, Coaches Care has organized an online auction where all the proceeds go to Habitat for Humanity to help make a difference in rebuilding the Gulf Coast Region. Lady Bulldog Head Coach Sharon Fanning and WNBA all-star Tan White have teamed together to donate an autographed No. 15 MSU jersey and an autographed 2005 WNBA Draft picture showing White holding her No. 5 Indiana Fever jersey with WNBA President Donna Orender. The items are available for online bidding at ebay.com and spanning a 10-day period, ending Sunday, Oct. 8.
A Peaceful Reign
Posted: By Matt Wurst, Sept. 29, 2005 2:44 p.m. ET
With the long WNBA offseason just a week or so old, it's impossible not to spend as much time as we can reminiscing about just how great the Playoffs and Finals were. ARCO Arena was truly purple madness everywhere you looked during Game 3 and Game 4 and it was great how long so many fans stuck around to take part in the post-game festivities. A tradition that they have in Sacramento is to let the fans stay in their seats and watch the live post-game press conferences after the game on the big screen in the arena. Even two hours after the game, the Monarchs faithful were passionate, energetic and loud.
In many ways, the fans of the Women's National Basketball Association are far ahead of college hoops fans of both genders, especially the fans who storm the court after big win or even meaningful upsets. What's the deal with that anyway? You run out of your seats and onto the court to jump and down, creating a safety hazard for the players, coaches and referees and not to mention risk trampling each other just to celebrate in one place over another. Maybe the WNBA just has better security.
There were also no arrests on the streets of Sacramento despite the city winning its first pro title in history. No riots, looting or even overturned cars.
Let's just hope that those traditions never make the leap from the college ranks to the pros.
Posted: By Matt Wurst, Sept. 29, 2005 1:43 p.m. ET
Nothing quite puts a smile on my face like when WNBA public relations specialist Jay Moore comes rolling down the hallway handing out clips of positive WNBA articles and features (like the one today from this week's S.I. entitled "Making It"). You see, while Jay is overworked (and also works out a lot), he gets to be the bearer of good news to all around the WNBA and NBA offices, and for that, we appreciate you, Jay.
Good Anytime, Day or Night
Posted: By Matt Wurst, Sept 28, 2005 2:33 a.m. ET
Pancakes are really good, no matter what time of day or night you eat them.
Do the Hustle
Posted: By Matt Wurst, Sept. 27, 2005 3:20 p.m. ET
Alright, so it's hard not to be excited about a new team joining the league this year. In addition to the good people that the Chicago Sky have already begun to put together as a staff, it's further evidence that the league is healthy and can continue to grow despite the doubters. But more than anything, the addition of the new Chicago franchise got people talking about the last major professional women's basketball team to play in The Windy City.
A little more than 20 years ago, the old Chicago Hustle of the WBL were being led by a scrappy, young guard from Queens named Donna Geils. Coming off of a "breakout"s season the year before with the New Jersey Gems, Geils' numbers dropped in 1980-81 from 18.8 points per game to 6.9 ppg in Chicago, 4.5 assists per game to 2.5 apg and 2.8 steals per game to 1.63 spg. Some may blame the Chicago coach's controversial "minutes-sharing" system, but the team may have been distracted by their hairstyles.
Geils was ultimately able to help restore glory to the proud city of Chicago years later, this time as WNBA President Donna Orender, and has been instrumental in helping to get the Sky franchise up and running.
In other news... I will now begin clearing out my office and expect to be escorted out by security (even though this entire entry was conceived by Brad Barnett, the special project coordinator for Orender).
USA for Africa
Posted: By Matt Wurst, Sept. 28, 2005 1:03 p.m. ET
A slew of WNBA players, including Adrienne Goodson (Charlotte), Chasity Melvin (Washington), Loree Moore (New York) and former Seattle Storm forward Adia Barnes joined Liberty assistant Marianne Stanley, current NBA player Rodney White and a pair of former NBA players on a trip to Kenya last week as part of the "Jump4Life" program. The group spent more than a week on the African continent.
The program hopes to reach at least two million people with a persuasive message about HIV/AIDS prevention through healthy and responsible lifestyle choices and the importance of good nutrition.
Lady Dee Meets the First Lady
Posted: Sept. 27, 2005 8:42 a.m. ET
NBA star Baron Davis, First Lady Laura Bush and Diana Taurasi. Mitchell Layton/NBAE/Getty Images
Diana Taurasi of the Phoenix Mercury and Baron Davis of the NBA's Golden State Warriors presented United Stats First Lady Laura Bush with a NBA Read to Achieve jersey during opening cermonies of the National Book Festival on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2005 at the White House in Washington, DC.