Monday, November 23, 2009

NCAA Senior Rankings

Through the first week of play here are my top performing senior WNBA prospects...this list will change GREATLY as more games are played and RPI starts to have actual meaning.

Andrea Riley Oklahoma State
Tasha Harris Boise State
Kelsey Luna Indiana State
Ashley Houts Georgia
Taylor Lilly Oregon

Alison Hightower LSU
Tyra Grant Penn State
Kalana Greene Connecticut
Deirdre Naughton DePaul
Alexis Rack Mississippi State

Danielle McCray Kansas
Alysha Clark Middle Tennessee
Sade Morris Kansas
Monica Wright Virginia
Shanara Hollinquest Chattanooga

Ashley Sweat Kansas State
Erica Beverly Hartford
Kelsey Griffin Nebraska
Gabriela Marginea Drexel
Pauline Love Southern Miss

Tina Charles Connecticut
Amber Harris Xavier
Jayne Appel Stanford
KeKe Carrier Auburn
Jacinta Monroe Florida State

Jackson May Stay Home, Baylor Rolls


As the wife of the recently murdered Spartak owner looks over her finances and how she will structure her team, the highly priced Lauren Jackson may not return to Russia and Sue Bird's status is also in question. The Australian press seems certain that Jackson will remain in Australia, where she has been recovering from surgery since the Storm were eliminated from the WNBA playoffs this autumn.

Canberra has a lucrative contract offer that has been made public, but it is almost certain that every team in the WNBL will be vying for her services.


I caught my second Baylor game yesterday in addition to watching San Diego State run all over Arizona in the second half.

Baylor looked very well balanced against Cal, and freshman #1 recruit Brittany Griner seemed to have settled down after her opening game jitters in Tennessee. There was solid play from their junior leader Melissa Jones who had a double double with 15 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. The rookies were great as well, with guard Shanay Washington adding 18 points and 4 assists to go with Griner's 15 points, 7 rebounds and 5 blocks. Baylor won the game 69-49.

Griner looked to notch her first collegiate dunk (other than her dunk in the exhibition season) near the end of the game on a nice wrap-around pass from Jones, but was fouled hard at the rim and missed the jam. A second Cal player then wrapped up Griner who attempted to rebound the ball despite the whistle. Griner, showing some grit as a freshman essentially threw the Cal player off with one arm. Cal had stated before the game that they did not intend to allow a dunk on their court. Baylor coach, Kim Mulkey pulled Griner from the game after her free throws to protect her freshman from injury or her own retaliations.

As nice as Baylor looked in this game, they may be even better next year having signed a letter of intent with the top ranked high school point guard in the nation, Odyssey Sims out of Irving, Texas. Championship caliber teams are often built on combing a dominant post with a solid point guard. With the complimentary players that Baylor already has in place they could look to be a serious contender for the next few years.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Can Team Sports Have Negative Impact on Teens?

The answer according to a recent study is both yes and no. It also appears that most of the negative impacts are relegated to boys rather than girls.

For males, taking part in team sports was associated with fighting and binge drinking, but also linked with lower levels of smoking and depression. For females, taking part in sports was associated with lower levels of fighting, depression, smoking, drug use and unhealthy weight-loss habits.

The question of particular interest is whether the "association" is a direct tie or more a set of behaviors that happen to occur in parallel.

The strength of peer support in a team sport environment could certainly increase the amount of peer pressure to participate in risky behaviors like drinking or fighting. I find it particularly interesting that the negative impacts don't cross genders which leads me to think that the social behaviors of boy's and girls within gender specific social structures like a sports team may be a key piece of the puzzle.

Males and females bond and interact in different patterns and with different priorities. These differences may drive riskier behaviors in males while promoting positive behaviors in females. It would be interesting to see someone examine the data from this study with an anthropological approach to better understand where the behaviors are initiating within the teams and what impact gender has on the resulting behavior.

Monarchs Fold

The Maloofs have shut down the Sacramento Monarchs as of today to focus on fixing their ailing NBA franchise, the Sacramento Kings.

The WNBA quickly responded with the news that they are actively pursuing ownership to relocate the Monarchs a short drive south to the San Francisco bay area.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Senseless Tragedy, Help if You Can...

As a parent, and now a coach, I beg you to help two helpless victims who face so much adversity from an overwhelmed and under-supported foster care system. Thank you to former Connecticut Husky and current Minnesota Lynx star, Charde Houston for bringing this tragedy to the national stage.

LJ is in Demand

The current word on the street is that the wife of the assassinated owner of the Spartak Moscow basketball team will take over ownership and continue employing Lauren Jackson, Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Sylvia Fowles and other WNBA stars this WNBA off-season.

Despite that assurance, the Canberra Capitals (coached by Opals Head Coach and Jackson friend, Carrie Graf) of Australia's WNBL are aggressively pursuing LJ with a $250,000AUD or ~$US230,000 contract offer to finish out the WNBL season. That is pretty heady money for the WNBL which averages near the same salaries as the WNBA if my research is accurate.

According to the article Jackson fully intends to honor the Russian contract if it remains solvent, and she has shown that loyalty is a core part of her personal/professional character. I know she went to Russia after only one year with Korea on a two year contract, but I believe that Korea broke that deal in order to build their local talent in preparation for the Beijing Olympics.

On a side note, my K-1 boys faced their first girls in competition this week, the opposing Timberwolves fielding two young ladies on their roster. My boys won bonus points from me for not even commenting on the fact that there were girls playing, and I was certainly not going to point it out to them.

When my older son played (5 years ago) the boys all giggled about playing against girls. My boys didn't even notice. That may be a side effect of the growth of the Storm in our community as most of these kids have been to a Storm game or even met Storm players at their schools or after school clubs. We play as part of the Ballard Boys & Girls club which has had the Storm out a number of times and boasts Storm logos (painted on the wall of one room) and gear all over the facility. It may be a small sample size, but I will extract my own observations in any case.

Overseas updates are in vogue...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bill Simmons LOVES the WNBA

Ok, so we all know that is far from the truth, but now we have photos of him carousing with a WNBA mascot and holding what could be his first WNBA jersey.

We will need to remember these pictures next time he goes on a WNBA bashing spree.

In his recent "sports-hate" column, he only hates WNBA commercials, not the league itself so maybe he is coming around.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


It has been far too long since I have posted, and to be truthful I have barely thought about the WNBA or women's basketball in that time frame. With Phoenix wrapping up a second championship, my focus drifted elsewhere.

In August I was fortunate enough to return to my former job, which, while more rewarding on a personal level, is also more demanding.

I have not quite made it halfway through the Storm's 2009 season from a numbers perspective, and the NCAA season is already upon us. I am prepping my senior rankings and will have my first data next week after enough teams have opened their seasons.

I am coaching basketball for the first time, though at this level it is more about herding cats as I try to teach 10 K-1 boys how to enjoy the game. I am actually really enjoying it myself, though I feel like I could teach them more if I had more time. We had two one hour practices a week for a few weeks and now we play games twice weekly with 15 minutes of practice before the game.

Even at this early age, the talent beast rears its head as it is pretty clear which kids simply have a knack for the game. Experience matters, too, even for these kids. The boys who have spent time with a basketball prior to joining the team are simply more comfortable out there. For some, it is hard to watch how their brains get something before their bodies are able to help them execute.

It was disappointing that we didn't have a single girl sign up, but perhaps they don't get involved until they are a little older.

On a side note, I will not be covering the Storm for next season. It was a nice experience, but convinced me that I am simply not a journalist. Additionally, I really missed sitting in the stands as a fan and sharing my love of the game with my sons, even if they are currently rebelling against being forced to watch basketball. Next season I will be back in my seats cheering on the team once more.

Be sure to catch Kevin Pelton's season recap...