Monday, January 30, 2006

Free Agent Analysis

The Minnesota Lynx official blog has put up some information on the WNBA free agent pool, it is focused on the needs the Lynx roster has, but is interesting. I do have one thing to say to their front office. KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF LJ! OK, we know that this isn't really necessary, obviously she is cored by the Storm, is a restricted free agent and holds loyalty to the franchise, but STOP even thinking about it.

It did not sink in for me until I saw the list that both Dawn Staley and Ticha Penicheiro are unrestricted free agents this season. Neither is likely to leave their current teams, but either is a GREAT option for the Storm since veteran defense at the point is sorely needed. With Zara gone the only option at the point outside of Sue right now is Tanisha Wright. I think she is stronger for the Storm at the 2 guard, so I am sure we will see something done by the coaching staff and front office to shore up the point in free agency. I doubt that hole is filled solely in the draft.
WNBL Finals Are On!

The WNBL will offer live stats coverage of the finals on their website. Canberra will be taking on Bulleen in the first round on Friday, February 3 at 0130 PST or 8pm Adelaide time. Dandenong will be taking on Adelaide on Friday, February 3 at 2130 PST or 4pm on Saturday the 4th Adelaide time. Considering Lauren Jackson's uncharacteristicly putrid shooting in the last match of the season, I would be VERY nervous to be Bulleen at this time. LJ almost never slumps past a single game and is likely to come out fired up for the playoffs. Considering this may be her last WNBL season, I believe that she wants to walk away with another championship. Reports from the Canberra Times say the crowd already acted like it was a championship game.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Caps Reach the Next Rung

The Canberra Capitals decided to determine their own fate on Saturday with a close 58-55 victory over the first place Dandenong Rangers. Had they lost their fate would have hinged on the results of other matches, but the victory puts them tied for second with Adelaide at 14 and 7 for the season. The game was apparently quite hard fought with the Caps and the Rangers exchanging powerful play from quarter to quarter and battling out the fourth like it was the championship match.

The Rangers managed to hold Lauren Jackson to 11 points but her 14 rebounds and 3 blocked shots help keep the Rangers from dominating at the other end of the floor. Jenny Whittle was the leading scorer for the Capitals with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocks. Kellie Abrams was the only other Canberra player with double digit (11) scoring, but it was enough to pull out the win.

Emma Randall and Jacinta Hamilton lead the Rangers with 13 points apiece, and the only other Dandenong player to reach double digits was Jenna O'hea with 10. Free throws and rebounding look to be the difference in the game, though Canberra only connected on 16 of their 25 attempts. Dandenong only got to the line 13 times hitting 11. Canberra led the rebounding battle with 48 boards to Dandenong's 40 but the 18 offense boards probably sealed the victory for the Capitals.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Caps on the Bubble

The Canberra Capitals must beat Dandenong on Saturday if they want to guarantee a spot in the WNBL playoffs. They can still make it with a loss, but then their fate will rest on the status of Sydney Uni's last game. They are half a game behind the Caps in the league ladder. Sydney doesn't have it any easier than Canberra though, they close the season against #2 Bulleen. According to the Canberra Times Coach Graf will be playing Lauren Jackson more heavily than she has the past few games. In the article former Storm favorite Tully Bevilaqua says the Caps are ready for the challenge.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

WNBA Blogs Abound

Women's Hoops pointed me to a new team blog as the Minnesota Lynx kick off their official blog with a vague free agent signing rumor...

Of course, Kevin Pelton at the Storm site has been essentially blogging via his semi-regular Off the Record feature. It currently has some nice pictures of JB, Izzy and Simone from their overseas work.

A number of other teams have set up blogs of one sort or another as well.

Charlotte has an interview with Helen Darling about her triplets.

Chicago jumps out of the gate with a semi-regular coach's corner which is essentially a blog as well.

Phoenix checks in with Kamilla in Russia. She raves about having both Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi as teammates in Russia.

Congrats to these five teams for being open to the idea...I still believe the net may be the "grass roots" type of information outlet to help the league grow.

The WNBA also publishes its "Blog Squad" via a shared channel with the NBA. The WNBA version is fairly empty, but you can still spot some WNBA names at the NBA site. The WNBA Offseason Blog appears to have vanished for the moment.
Duke says "Who's #1?"

Half of the hype showed up yesterday afternoon when #1 seed Tennessee took on #2 seed Duke in NCAA Women's Basketball. One team executed with precision and dominance at both ends of the floor. The number one team in the nation was definitely present, but it clearly wasn't Tennessee. It wasn't Duke's depth that took the #1 seed down, was just their experience.

In what was the biggest game of the year for both teams thus far, on the biggest stage, Duke's whole lineup stepped up and executed like champions. They picked Tennessee apart on offense with excellent passing, off the ball movement and stunning jumpers with defenders in their faces. Their defense was brutal, punishing Tennessee for every minor error and aggressively disrupting any hope of offensive flow.

Pat Summit urged her players to play as a team and bemoaned their lack of defense saying that they could go ahead and embarrass themselves. The Lady Vols responded with some sad one on one basketball, no off the ball movement and little to no defense. Candace Parker looked good in the post and put up good numbers, but too often she tried to do everything and came up short. She took the ball the length of the court three times. With the first two she was called for charging, and when she finally got an assist of a pass to a cutter, the game was by far out of reach. Candace finished the game with 17 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks and 2 steals. She led the team in points, rebounds and assists, but her 7 turnovers led the team as well. The former leading scorer for the Vols, Shanna Zolman, was held scoreless in 28 minutes.

Duke on the other hand was led by the brilliant work of point guard Lindsey Harding, who contributed much more than her 15 points, 4 assists and 8 steals. She read the Tennessee defense on almost every play and called a play to attack that defense. Her assist numbers weren't that high because while every play started with her, the score usually came off the third or fourth pass of the play.

Pat Summit has been vocal about her team's deficiencies, and Duke exposed all of them last night. This embarassing loss may be the fuel to get her players to listen to her and strengthen their efforts heading into the tournament. I imagine that it is hard to believe how poorly you are playing when you are beating teams by 20+ points each night. Last night should make them regret not listening to their 900 win coach sooner.

Monday, January 23, 2006

If you haven't caught phenom Candace Parker in action yet, here is your chance. #2 Duke takes on #1 Tennessee tonight at 0730 EST on ESPN2. The time is ripe to see her in the regular season before she enters her first college tournament. Big games define great players and this is really the first big game for Parker this season. Pat Summit has been pushing Parker, playing her at multiple positions and demanding more from her no matter what she gives. Summit is a great coach to groom Parker, ESPN said last night that some call her the female Bobby Knight, but Bobby doesn't have the same winning record that Ms. Summit boasts. Parker has been first in rebounding, first or second in points, first in blocks and second or third in assists for the Lady Vols this season demonstrating her versatility. I have seen her play twice so far and she just radiates know those players that you find yourself just waiting to do something special. She is not the best player in the game, not even the best in the NCAA, but in her first year she is showing that she could become the best in either if she wants to be. continues its trend of fluff pieces in the off-season...creating articles out of what must have been a questionaire provided to players during the season. The same players seem to show up with answers to these questions over and over again. This one is funny, though, with players fessing up to their teenage crushes. Sue Bird picks Ralph Maccio and LJ goes with Marilyn Manson. My personal favorite though is the pick of Taj MacWilliams-Franklin who went with Stephen King.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Caps Fall

28 points from Lauren Jackson and a solid double/double from Jenny Whittle were not enough to fend off the Adelaide Fellas as they beat Canberra 95-82 today in WNBL play. LJ (28), Whittle (17) and Tully Bevilaqua were the only Capitals to break double figures. The Fellas abused the Caps defense, shooting 50% from the field and hitting 61.5% of their three pointers. The Caps didn't help themselves with their 17 turnovers either. The fellas were led by a 20+ point triumverate of Tami Willey (27), Erin Phillips (23) and Jennifer Screen (20). The Capitals will close out the season next week against #1 Dandenong.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Caps Win!

In her second game back with the Canberra Capitals Lauren Jackson looks like she may be getting her legs. She scored 13 points with 7 rebounds, 2 assists and a block in less than 8 minutes of action. Welcome back LJ! Tully seemed refreshed to have her PF back, chipping in 10 points, 8 REBOUNDS, 2 assists and 3 steals in her 18+ minutes. The Capitals had 5 players scoring double digits, led by the 16 of Natalie Hurst and 15 of Jenny Whittle. Angela Marina added 11 points as well. Whittle had a great game, adding 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks to her 15 points.

The Lynx struggled offensively in addition to their inability to stop the raging Caps leading to a blowout score of 84-52. Katherine Hanks (14) and Deanna Smith (11) were the only players to hit double figure scoring for the Lynx who were held to 26.8% shooting from the field and only 22.7% from 3. The Capitals shot a blistering 41.4% from the field and a deadly 57.1% from three. The Capitals also controlled the boards with 55-46 advantage over the Lynx. The Capitals assisted on 23 of their 29 field goals, showing excellent teamwork and ball sharing. The Capitals face Adelaide tomorrow.
AD Speaks Out
Kevin Pelton got a brief respite from Sonics action this week as the team got a three day break. He has used it well bringing greedy Storm fans some thoughts from Team USA's new coach on the off-season roster work in front of the Storm coaching staff.

No surprise that Anne puts Lauren Jackson at the top of her to do list. LJ has traditionally signed single year contracts with the Storm so that she can prioritze her basketball commitments independantly each year. Betty Lennox is up next, and AD intends to check in with Izzy, Suzy and Vodo as well to see what their National Team commitments look like for 2006. She will then be able to figure out what she wants to do with her free agent money and cap room.

I agree with AD that the Storm's post is proved to be one of the best in the league last year. I was also glad to see that her focus is still on getting some veteran leadership to help out her young team. All her comments lean towards that veteran, defensive oriented perimeter player I have been clamoring for. AD points the finger at Baylor forward Sophia Young as someone she has been watching but indicates that the field is wide open beyond the top six players in the draft. The Platypus puts Sophia at #4 in a mock draft, going to San Antonio. The Silver Stars will need some help at that spot with Marie Ferdinand enjoying that new baby this summer.
Help out an informal survey at Northeastern University on media coverage of women's basketball by filling out a survey. (and kudos to the Platypus for posting the link in the first place)

It has been great watching the quantity and (in my subjective view) quality of blog coverage of the game grow over the past year. Even with the offseason for the WNBA the college season has kicked off more material of late, and I look forward to more growth as the WNBA season kicks off in a few months. I have had to revise my links section a couple of times...and will probably do so again soon. It is hard, at times, to decide if a great entry or two on a new site I find will lead to consistent coverage. However, the fact that I spend time thinking about whether I want to keep a link or replace it is encouraging to me in terms of the overall coverage available.

I even welcome the nasty and negative coverage. I have ranted in the past about Jay Mohr and Bill Simmons and their "articles" on the WNBA for Sports Illustrated. There are those who are angry that the homophobic Debbie Schlussel has tagged her blog with WNBA at Technocrati.

The fact that there are people who want to whine about the WNBA in a public forum is actually a good thing, in my opinion. If the league isn't widely known enough to draw some venom than I would be more concerned. I am not embracing the adage that any coverage is "good" coverage, but rather I think that the negative coverage is an indicator of the "buzz" that the league is creating. I have faith that some readers will be encouraged by strongly negative articles to check something out for themselves so as to form their own opinion. This can lead to more fans or at least more "buzz." Those who accept what they read as fact from these sorts of articles were never likely to become fans in any case; the "published" view merely supports a view that the reader already accepts. I find that I am often tempted to see a film or read a book by a strongly positive review, but a strongly negative view may attract my attention as well. My thought is that passionate feelings are stirred by entertainment with content, poor quality merely inspires apathy.

As I wait for the positive coverage of the WNBA to pick back up again, I remain thankful for the efforts of the folks at Women's Hoops Blog and She's Got Game for keeping the quality information and continued "buzz" flowing. These two sites are consistent in their efforts and a boon to any fan of the game.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Sue Bird snubs her Seattle brethren with a NO SONIC response on her NBA All Star Picks. She picks the frenchman dating a desperate housewife and the guard formerly known as an accused rapist over the sideline boxer Ray Allen. Seattle Guard Luke Ridnour is also on the ballot but doesn't really deserve the consideration yet this season, the young man should never have cut off his curly locks, he is like Sampson after his haircut. Rashard Lewis is deserving at the forward, but in a conference with Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki and Elton Brand on the ballot, how do you just pick two and still feel good about yourself. Lynx guard Amber Jacobs becomes the first player NOT from a Seattle team to pick a Seattle player, choosing Ray "right hook" Allen as her man on the perimeter. In other WNBA news, Paul Westhead talks about how his return to coaching professional basketball will open up opportunities for mediocre point guards to set league records for assists while playing against his new up-tempo Phoenix Mercury. (OK that isn't really what he talks about, but I couldn't resist the dig.)
Tenacious Tanisha Wright has her third blog entry posted at, who also have a Q&A session with Sue Bird highlighted on their front page.

These little personal tidbits and the fitness material may be "important" for letting fans feel closer to the players and encouraging young people to pursue fitness in their lives, but I find them just downright BORING. I want some basketball meat...I am all for presentation with my meals, but frankly I want some real food under the pretty garnishes.

One of the best things the Sonics/Storm did for their site was to let Kevin Pelton loose on the Storm...the Storm site went from pure fluff material to some actual basketball with analysis and statistics. In some ways the PR department of the WNBA may be hurting their chances to be taken seriously as a league by focusing wholly on the "soft" news with too many features on things that have little to do with basketball. I think that the relationship the fans have with the players, the connection that they have made in the past nine years is unique and important, but I would like to see them add some more depth to their off-season reporting.

I am not saying they should cut the personal pieces, just add some more material that has some actual interesting information. Why don't we see feature articles like an interview with Sacramento Monarchs Coach John Whisenant on why he is married to the "white line defense." We heard about that defense from everyone else on the planet during the Monarchs run to the championship last season. I'd like to hear what he has to say about it. They could have pieces with other league coaches on the pool of talent, and how they scour the college vs. the international ranks now to identify the pieces they want for their teams. Why not a piece on how a team prepares for the draft?

But, then again, who's asking me anyway?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Insane Platypus has their WNBA mock draft posted with some great thoughts and reasoning...I know too little about the players at this point to comment since I don't get to watch much college ball.

Both Marie Ferdinand and DeMya Walker will be out at the start of the WNBA season as they welcome new babies to their respective families. Boy is San Antonio in rough shape. I hope they do well in Free Agency or they get lucky in the draft at the 4 spot, because they are already in the league's cellar.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

LJ Plays

Lauren Jackson returned to the basketball court for the first time in months. It wasn't enough to help the Capitals get their first win of the new year however as the fell to Sydney University 52-54. Lauren had 10 points, 7 rebounds and 1 assist in 20 minutes of game time but one reporter said she didn't look ready to play and may have hurt the team more than helped them. Kellie Abrams led the Capitals with 11 points, but Jenny Whittle was the only other player in double figures for the Capitals with 10 points. Whittle added 7 rebounds, but Tracey Beatty led the team with 9 rebounds. The Flames were led by the 12 of Belinda Snell, 11 from Natalie Porter and 10 each from Kristen Veal and Trisha Fallon. The Flames defense force 13 turnovers on steals by several players.

Canberra plays twice next week, taking on Perth and Adelaide.

AD Congratulations

Anne Donnovan received a nice ovation from the sold out crowd and the Sonics/Heat game last night in Key Arena when her new role as head coach of USA Basketball Senior Women's Team was annouced over the PA system and she was given a big hug from owner Howard Schultz who was in attendance. I am sure he was glad to be reminded that despite the rotten play from his NBA team and the firing of his new head coach, he still has one of the best coaches in the game employed and a championship caliber team ready to hit the hardwoods this summer.

Friday, January 13, 2006

LJ in Pain

LJ's return to the court today was no longer definite. According to the Canberra Times she is experiencing pain in her leg around the healed fracture. Coach Graf was going to wait until later today to make the final decision on playing LJ. She wanted to see if LJ was just feeling sore from her first game pace workouts in three months or if she was aggravating the original injury. They may decide to play her in the second game of the back to back against Sydney University tomorrow.

In the end Lauren Jackson did not dress and had to watch her team lose 89-65 to the Fire.

Townesville Coach David Herbert had hoped LJ would play tonight for the league and for his players to play against one of the greatest players in the history of their league, but his game plan was focused on disrupting Capitals point guard and former Storm standout, Tully Bevilaqua. Tully had 19 points, 3 steals and 9 rebounds when the Capitals beat the Fire in December. The game plan did stop Tully from helping out too much on offense, holding her to 4 points and 1 assist, and kept her of the boards, limiting her to 2 rebounds. She was pesky on defense with 5 steals, however.

Jenny Whittle (19), Angela Marino (17) and Kellie Abrams (11) led the Capitals in scoring and Whittle also added 13 rebounds, 3 assists a block and a steal for another solid all around game. The Fire were led by Claudia Brassard (18), Rohanee Cox (17), Jennifer Crouse (12), Kelly Wilson (11) and Tania Heritage (10) to have a much more well balanced scoring attack. Crouse added 14 rebounds and 4 blocks while Cox led the team with 6 steals.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

It is official. Storm head coach Anne Donnovan has been named Head Coach of USA Basketball's Senior Women's team.

Congrats to AD on a well deserved promotion. Carry us to one more gold and hold off those pesky Aussies for another four years.

On a side note, Kevin Pelton writes up kudos to AD and Sue Bird for being selected by ESPN as two of the top 25 women's college basketball players of all time.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Storm Player NBA All Star Picks

So, since nothing else is happening in the W these days....

Tanisha Wright and Betty Lennox show some Homerism as the only WNBA players polled to pick a Seattle Sonic in their NBA All Star selection. Betty picks Ray Allen in the guard category and Tanisha picks Rashard Lewis at forward and Ray Allen at guard.

I lost a lot of respect for Ray Allen tonight. He just lost his mind and threw punches at an opposing player including a punch while lying on top of fans on the sideline. Replays show he did not start it, and that Orlando's Keyon Dooling was throwing punches after Ray was restrained and then tried to break free of security and chase Allen into the Sonic locker room. Still, I don't care, there is no excuse for fighting on the floor. I expect hefty suspensions from the NBA for both players.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Green Light for Loz

Canberra Times reports that LJ's return is confirmed and Carrie Graf confirmed she is likely to bring LJ in off the bench to control her minutes.
Waiting for Lo Go

Still no word from team doctor's on whether LJ will be cleared to play for the Capitals this weekend. Canberra Times says we should hear the final go/no go decision sometime today. She has been practicing with the team but still no full contact play without doctor clearance, and Carrie Graf is likely to limit her minutes even if she is cleared to play. There are 5 games remaining in the regular season.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


Canberra Times reports today that LJ is 100% determined to be back as of the January 13th game against Townesville. Her doctors are due to give their opinion sometime today, but LJ says she is ready to go. She joined the Capitals training session on Tuesday and claimed no problems with her shins as of Wednesday morning. Carrie Graf says she'll hold back on LJ's minutes regardless. The WNBL schedule gives Canberra this week off, so LJ gets and extra few days of workouts before the match to make sure she can go.

Monday, January 02, 2006

It is 3 am here in Hawaii. My youngest woke me up two hours ago screaming in unidentifiable agony which was eventually silenced by a little Motrin and a lot of snuggles. I leave paradise in another 10 hours or so to catch a flight to LA, one more hotel and finally home to the damp green of Seattle on Wednesday.

This has been a blog about the Seattle Storm, the WNBA and women's basketball, but I need to rant a little on the Seattle men's team .

The Sonics seem to have lost their heart, their soul, and their passion this season. This was a team that clawed their way to a dominant first half of the season last year, a division title, and took the eventual league champions to a closely contested six games without two of their top three scorers.

They look now however, more like the team that couldn't clinch the division championship at the end of last season and lost game after game that they should have won. That team was missing three point assassin Vlade Radmanovich, though, and he is available this season. That team had injuries to all star Rashard Lewis, but Lew is playing even better basketball this season.

Yes, they lost Jerome James and his annoying potential coupled with laziness, and his shot blocking bulk/height in the middle coupled with his "what about me?" selfishness. Yes, they lost the fire and take it to the rim passion of backup Antonio Daniels, who tended to finish the games that Luke Ridnour always started. I don't think this is the real problem though. I think the real loss is in Nate McMillian and Dwayne Casey. I know that their new teams aren't doing so hot either, but they were the keys (in my opinion) to why last year's team worked. They were hard nosed coaches who knew their personnel and how to use them. They spoke to them and utilized them as they needed to be spoken to and utilized to win games.

Bob Weiss seems like a nice guy. Unfortunately that doesn't seem to cut it with these players. He knows them...he has been in Seattle forever. He just doesn't seem to know how to get them to do what they need to do to win. These guys seem to need to be screamed at and brow beat into action. They seem to need to be angry with their coach to win games. I don't think we HAVE to hire a new coach to get that. He just needs to get to work and remind these players what it takes to succeed in life AND on the court. I just hope that it isn't too late.

Someone needs to ignite their competitive fire, to rekindle their passion and show them where their collective heart is hiding. Champions have talent, yes, but they have desire that is greater than their talent. Where is your desire Seattle Supersonics?

It is a shame that your fans are booing you when you should deserve cheers. They don't boo your losing games though, that happens, and they understand loss. They boo you for refusing to put your heart out there on the floor for 48 minutes. We pay to see you play, and so far you aren't responding to that one request.

My voice is not one of those booing you. I do understand why you hear the sound however, because though my voice doesn't sound out to you, my heart grieves for the loss of the heart it saw last season down on the floor. That heart sang a song of desire and of passion, and mine knew the tune and was thrilled to sing along. My heart still sings the harmony, but the melody that comes from the hardwood has been silent this year. Find that song Seattle, the rest of us are here and are happy to hum the tune if you have forgotten how it goes. We even know the words. Give it a shot, OK?