Thursday, December 18, 2008

Stanford @ Duke

I caught the Duke/Stanford game the other night. Two senior prospects I am watching were playing, and I was underwhelmed by the performances of both of them. Chante Black (#26 as of last week on my list) was taken almost entirely out of the offense and Abby Waner (#67 on my list) struggled to hit shots all night long. This nationally televised game was more interesting than the plodding Rutgers game last aired on ESPN2, but it did not offer much from the Seniors vying for a spot in the shrinking roster base of the pros.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Scholarships for Women's Athletics

I received a press release this week for a topic I support.

The Women's Sports Foundation is initiating their "GoGirl!Go!" program for 2009. They gave a total of US$183,000 last year. As victims of our current crappy economy, they are only able to give out $50,000 in scholarshis for February 2009, but these folks are focusing their limited funds on making sure that female athletes have are not missing opportunities to advance their lives because of financial issues.

This organization has provided over three million dollars in funds to women's athletics since 2001. It was founded back when I was toddling around in 1974 by one of the most recognized names in women's sports, Billie Jean King. They are not only focused on young girls but on the concept of advancing public attitudes about women's sports. If you read the local, Seattle piece by the open minded Jerry Brewer you will hear the kind of voice needed to advance women's sports. The type of effort made by The Women's Sports Foundation is what makes these articles even possible. Gender equity in perception is a valiant goal, though perhaps a distant one for our rather close-minded society.

Check out a summary of their recent study results on their blog.

On a similar topic, I learned a ton from this new sports radio blog run by former WNBA Houston Comets player Lynette Woodward. It runs an hour long and covers the professional womens football league, moves into the history of the Houston Comets. (Thanks to thesixthwoman at Rebkell for the pointer.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Penn State vs. Bucknell 81-44

Penn State, against weak competition, put on a display of fun basketball last night. They played stifling defense and displayed a fast, furious and downright fun offense. They score as many points in the 1st half (45) as Rutgers did the in their entire game the night before on National TV (ESPN2).

Senior prospect Brianne O'Rourke (currently #71 on my prospect rankings) played well, with 15 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds a steal and only 1 turnover. The team was on such a roll, though, that she didn't need to do much. Nine of the twelve players who saw minutes scored for Penn State. Particularly fun was the passing prowess of freshman point guard, Emily Phillips. Phillips had some nifty fast break passes, including a behind the back pass for a layup. She ended the game with eight assists and got lots of playing time (26 minutes). At one point in the game Penn State had 11 assists on 14 made field goals, they ended the game with 21 assists on 32 made field goals.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

What is up with Kia Vaughn?

I have had a chance to catch a few women's college games this weekend to watch some of the senior prospects, and also have taken advantage of DirecTV's Video On Demand (VOD) to watch highlights from Big Ten games.

The prospect I was most impressed with having finally seen a little of her game was Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton from Purdue. In a loss to Notre Dame, she displayed a versatile game for a player listed as a PF. She is only 6'2", but she displayed an strong inside-outside flair and some aggressive rebounding at both ends of the floor. She put up 18 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks, 3 assists and a steal in the game. In the loss to Maryland she had 20 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks, 3 assists and 4 steals. She shot 50% from three point range and 47% overall. She can shoot from three, midrange, has a soft touch around the basket and has a back to the basket game down low. She reminded me of a more athletic version of Camille Little. She is #21 on my overall prospect list for the season.

I caught the Iowa vs. Iowa State game as well, and was sorely disappointed. Of the three prospects I am tracking, only Heather Ezell from Iowa State had any impact on the game. Star center Megan Skouby was in foul trouble from the start, missed all five of her shot attempts and had a single rebound. Guard Kristi Smith put up OK numbers, but was not particularly impressive. The players of the game for me were junior JoAnn Hamlin from Iowa and Aussie junior Alison Lacey for Iowa State.

Finally, yesterday I watched Rutgers beat Georgia. Kia Vaughn looked terrible out there and it was only made worse by Doris Burke constantly talking about how Kia was one of the most physically gifted players in women's basketball. Vaughn is currently coming of the bench after a number of poor starts for Coach Stringer, but she did nothing to get herself out of the doghouse in this game. A player this "gifted" shouldn't be stuck in the bottom half of my top 100 senior prospects. She started the year in the 30's and has fallen every week since. If she continues her current play she will be in my bottom third before long.

Epiphany Prince is a dynamic scorer, but she is clearly holding back in the Rutgers system. Offense was absent from this game for either team until Rutgers scored some easy transition buckets off their stifling defense. This game was far too close until the final eight minutes or so.

I have a few more games set to record this week.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The End of an Era for the WNBA

In the early days of the WNBA the league was about Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes, Tina Thompson, Janeth Arcain, Kim Perrot and their domination, under the guidance of Coach Van Chancellor. These women set the tone for the WNBA to come. They established a dynasty that could not be threatened by any other team in the league. Finally, with the loss of Perrot to cancer and Cooper to retirement, the Los Angeles Sparks were able to win the next two championships before the trophy began to move around with only the Detroit Shock wining more then one in the following years.

Today, that era is officially over.

Through poor management, a rotten economy, the loss of all but one of its stars (Thompson remained until the very end), and the failure to identify local ownership, the franchise has officially folded.

It is a sad day for the WNBA and for women's basketball.

Unlike some others (pilight at Rebkell's Junkie Boards, for example), I don't see this as the end of the WNBA. There are strong teams with solid fan bases in Detroit, New York, Connecticut, San Antonio, Seattle, Sacramento, Los Angeles and Phoenix. There are more dedicated owners like those in Seattle and LA. There is talent in the league and in the college ranks. The sport continues to grow. Many of the early teams failed in their NBA city homes, but franchises in NBA free cities like Seattle and Connecticut are thriving. The model has changed. The leadership of the league is learning how to build their franchise next to the NBA not on top of it.

What I find particularly interesting is the choice of the word "SUSPEND" and the indication that there were multiple ownership groups out there but that there wasn't enough time to complete the transaction for the 2009 season. Does this leave open the option to recreate the Comets in Houston for the 2010 season? Can Tina Thompson either sit out a year or sign a one year contract for 2009 to be the bridge to reforming the Comets in 2010? I think that this story is not yet over.