Though it takes more creativity to find NCAA Division I women’s basketball games to watch, many games can be seen through a variety of sources
Several match ups are broadcast throughout the season on ESPN and ESPN2. Many more are available via WatchESPN. Whether on a desktop, lap top or cell phone, it is required to log in with a TV provider. A new feature, ESPN+, is another viewing option.
Several conferences stream all games through their own network, once league play begins. Those include the Pac-12 Network, the SEC Network and the Big Ten Network. A cable provider log-in is required to watch.
Many teams – especially mid-major schools – stream games through the team website for free. If a game link isn’t on the team’s front page, it can be found on the schedule page, where there is a “watch live” link. Many schools also post game stream links on Twitter and other social media feeds.
The Chicago Sky’s choice of Diamond DeShields with their third draft pick last year proved to be a great one. The former Tennessee standout averaged 14.4 points per game – the second-most on her team and the second-best among all rookies in the celebrated 2018 class.
DeShields was a unanimous selection to the WNBA All-Rookie team, and her athletic plays of the 2018 season are etched into the minds of WNBA fans. Whether it was her flashy passes, timely steals, game-saving blocks, or lockdown defense, she has made fans and opponents take notice.
But despite DeShield’s highlights, the Sky missed the playoffs and finished with a 13-21 record. Head coach Amber Stocks was fired in September and replaced by Minnesota Lynx assistant James Wade this week. Wade was vetted by Chicago Sky owner Michael Alter and approved by Chicago’s roster.
With the coaching change, an offseason of active rest and a full season under her belt, DeShields is poised to have a breakout year in 2019.
What input did you and your teammates have in helping to choose James Wade as your new head coach?
We had a lot of input. For me it was foreign just coming from college, where you don’t get any say in anything. Initially when Michael [Alter] called me and was like, “Do you have any idea on who’d you want to coach?” I was like, “What? What do you mean?” So now I’m on the computer looking people up, calling my teammates, and calling other players asking who they liked playing for. It was a very transparent process between us and our employers. It was really good. James being here has really been a team decision, and that’s why I think we’re all really excited about it.
What are you most looking forward to that James brings to the team?
Personally, obviously him having success as a coach, he’s won championships on every level, just having that within our atmosphere and in practice every day. I’m looking forward to just getting in the gym. James is a guy who wants to see players get better and improve. He was already talking to me about how he’s going to incorporate a lot of skill work and player development. All of that excites me because I’m all about evolution. I’m all about my game changing each year. That’s personally what I’m looking most forward to.
You had an outstanding rookie season and you were named to the all-rookie team. What was your favorite moment from your rookie campaign?
Probably my first game. Just being in the WNBA. I didn’t go through camp (due to overseas commitments), so when I got back from Turkey I spent the night in Atlanta, I flew to Chicago, and we had a game the next day. I didn’t get to go through the “Oh wow, I’m finally a WNBA player” until it was literally my first game. I’m standing there during the anthem and I’m looking at the floor and it says “WNBA” and I was like, “Wow, I’m finally doing this.” It was really a magical moment. I think that was probably my best moment.
Is there a part of your game that you’re working on the most this off season?
Yeah, my three ball. I’m working on it. It’s coming together really good for me. Having a vet like Allie (Quigley) to look to, I want to be on the other side of the ball shooting almost as well as she is, and then I think we can give (Courtney Vandersloot) Sloot the recognition she deserves. I’m all about them. I think they’re two of the most under-represented players in our league for what they do. I love them both, and next year should be not just about them, but our team. I think we’re going to blossom into something really special, and I’m looking forward to it.
You briefly went overseas and came back. Why did you return to the States?
It was an unfortunate situation, really. Being overseas anything can happen. A lot of stuff can happen. Unfortunately, the economy was in a bad state when I got there and I ended up having to part ways with my team. It’s a really good team. I love everybody there, it’s just that I couldn’t stay.
Last season the Sky had a lot of defensive and turnover issues. Given the talent on the team those stats were surprising. Why do you think things just didn’t click last season and how can you fix it going forward?
Personally, I think we’ve got such an athletically-gifted team. There were times last year when we could have just got out in transition and run. A lot of it was us trying to play half court a little bit and force the offense. A lot of it was myself included, just having young players and not really knowing and trying to figure the game out. I think next year everything will be better. Everything is improving and we’re taking a step in the right direction.
In my opinion, you have the ability to be the best player in the game. Is that something you’re conscious of, or do you go into a game taking what the defense gives you?
I’m getting back to being more conscious of it. I think for the past couple of years I’ve come into games kind of being in awe of who it was I was playing against. After this year I’ve gotten that out of the way. Seeing the success, I was able to have it give me some confidence. I can’t tell you how many times my teammates were like, “You’re better than her,” or “You need to shoot that.” They were telling me to do it – I didn’t have to question anything. When you have teammates like that that want you to go and do you, it allows you to take your game to another level. Bringing our core back, it’s only going to get better.
What are your personal goals for next season?
Definitely, I want to be an All-Star. I want to be in the MVP conversation right out of the gate. I’m not trying to waste any time. Careers in this league can be short. I don’t think mine will be. I’m working really hard to stay in this league. I know it’s a tough job to keep. I want to be in the conversation. Why not? Why can’t I? Those are my two main goals, and just being a part of us winning more games and whatever role I need to take on for us to be more successful.
Los Angeles – UCLA used a 31-point fourth quarter push Wednesday to outrun No. 14 Georgia, 80-69.
Sophomore Michaela Onyenwere paced the Bruins with a career-high 25 points, as well as 11 rebounds. Kennedy Burke added 21 points and Japreece Dean, 17.
The Bulldogs got off to a quick start with a balanced scoring attack, led by Caliya Robinson and Taja Cole, to take a 22-12 first quarter lead. UCLA surged in the second period and cut the advantage to two midway though, but the visitors went on another run and inflated their lead back to nine at the break.
An Onyenwere-led surge brought the two teams to a 49-all tie with 59 seconds to go in the third frame, but Gabby Connally gave Georgia one more bucket before time expired.
Both squads traded baskets in the fourth quarter, and the 62-all tie at the 5:06 mark was the fifth of the game. But in the last 2:58, the Bruins forced six Bulldog turnovers, and they capitalized on each one. Onyenwere scored 11 of her points in the period.
UCLA coach Cori Close credited her team’s defense in the win.
“We did it with our defense,” she said. “We played player to player, and depending upon who they were subbing, we were able to sub accordingly. We practice making three straight stops, and that’s what we got to live out today.”
It was a very different showing from their season opener eight days earlier, as Loyola Marymount took a large lead, and the Bruins were unable to respond. Burke – one of only three seniors – had a message for her teammates after that game.
“I told the team after the LMU loss that we have to take more pride in our defense,” Burke said. “(Today) started on defense. A couple of their players started getting hot…..it was about us having good pressure and rebounding.
The UCLA defense was noticeably improved in their second game five days later, when they beat a tough Rice team. Against Georgia, the Bruins stole the ball 12 times, to four for their opponents.
Cole scored 22 points for the Bulldogs, while Connally chipped in 19 and Robinson, 13.
Coach Joni Taylor credited the UCLA defense for their win.
“They rushed us,” she said. “In the second half they became a lot more aggressive, and I don’t think we handled it very well. We had people shooting it from areas they don’t normally shoot if from. We didn’t settle in and never really got settled in the third or fourth quarter, offensively.”
Even more than improved defense, Close was most pleased with the newfound maturity her young team is already showing.
“I’m really proud of their confidence today, and the way they handled the hard things,” she said. “Their composure, their togetherness, the way they tried to execute the game plan.”
Close said she and her assistant coaches have talked to players about game adversity.
“When the littlest thing goes wrong, it can force you to push the panic button, and that is a part of every game – you are never going to avoid it,” she said. “So you might as well embrace it and see it as an opportunity to be more defensively tough, to overcome and to be more together.”
Players seem to be taking that message to heart.
“When a mistake happened I watched their eye contact,” Close said about the Georgia game. “I watched how quickly they got to huddles. I watched what they were like in timeouts. And they weren’t think about ‘oh that just happened,’ they were on to the next play.”
“We talk a lot about winning the moments and controlling your response. Events and adversity are going to happen.”
The Bulldogs rose into the top 25 last year and were tapped for the NCAA Tournament for the first time in several years. This season, consequently, is brand new.
“Last year no one was expecting us to do what we did, now this year there’s an expectation. so how do you handle that?” Taylor said. “How do you continue to get better when you’ve had success? Our conversation has been, getting better every single day, and how are you doing that. Because if you do what you did last year, you’re not going to have more success or achieve greater things. From an offensive standpoint, we’ve got to score the ball better.”
For Onyenwere, the game may eventually serve as a coming out party for a player who showed great promise in her first season, but who was playing behind two program greats in Jordin Canada and Monique Billings. She worked hard to improve her game over the summer, and said now she is focused on stepping up.
“I have tried to embrace my new role, and part of it is believing that I can do this,” Onyenwere said. “I have great people behind me, supporting me.”
A crowd of 5,113 cheered the Bruins on in the midday match up, due mostly to UCLA’s coordination with local elementary schools for “field trip day.” Several alumni athletes sat courtside, including Canada, Kelli Hayes, and members of the classes of 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2017.
For their Sunday game hosting Seton Hall, Close said the focus is on continual improvement.
“I don’t feel urgent that we have to win, but I feel urgent that we have to grow and we have to get tougher, and that doesn’t end,” Close said.
The Chicago Sky introduced James Wade as the new head coach and general manager of the franchise in a press conference Tuesday.
Wade, 43, replaces Amber Stocks, who was let go in September after her second season. In 2018, the Sky was the league’s worst defending team, giving up 90.1 points per game. They lead in turnovers, averaging 15.3 per game.
A Kennesaw State graduate, Wade played professionally all over Europe for 12 seasons before entering the coaching ranks. He spent four years as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Silver Stars under Dan Hughes, was was assistant coach for Cheryl Reeve and the Minnesota Lynx for the last two seasons.
The franchise ownership sought input from players when conducting their coaching search.
“We are thrilled to have James join our franchise,” Sky owner Michael Alter said. “James is a widely-respected and dynamic leader. He has as special way of connecting with players, and a demonstrated track record of helping push them to achieve their highest levels of success, which is why we are confident in the Sky’s future under his leadership.”
Chicago boasts a talented roster of former All-Stars in Allie Quigley, Courtney Vandersloot and Stefanie Dolson, and they have four top-five draft picks: Diamond DeShields, Gabby Williams, Cheyenne Parker and Alaina Coates. The team has an ideal mix of youth and veteran leadership to make noise in the league next summer. One of Wade’s tasks will be to put those pieces together.
What attracted you to the position of head coach and general manager of the Chicago Sky?
You look at the roster we have and the ownership, I think it’s a great opportunity. We have the potential to have a young booming roster with numerous core players and numerous play-makers. I felt like the team had a lot of untapped potential and I just wanted to be a part of it.
Have you begun to assemble a coaching staff?
I’m interviewing coaches right now as we speak. Within the last two to two and a half weeks I’ve been interviewing coaches consistently. We’ll keep on going, but I’ve got it down to a few candidates that I really like. It’s about finding the perfect fit. Hopefully we’ll have something done pretty soon.
What style of play will you bring to the Sky?
We’re going to move the ball a lot. I want my play-makers making plays. We’re going to build on the fact that we are a team that’s willing to pass the ball. They led the league in assists last year, but now we have to cut out the turnovers. I want to play fast, I want to move the ball, and I want to play inside-out.
Your team has a lot of free agents with only about five players under contract. What are you looking for to add to the team this off-season?
We have to secure our core. They had a great core last year. We want to secure them going forward and then maybe find a role player or two that can help balance us out.
So, is re-signing Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley the top priority?
I don’t want to say any names because I don’t know if I can, but re-signing those players is a top priority.
Cheyenne Parker had a break out season but seemed to be mis-used under the last coaching staff. How does she fit into things going forward?
She’s that one post player that likes to duck in, she wants the ball on the block, and she’s aggressive. I like Cheyenne – I’ve always like Cheyenne. I think she will be an important piece going forward.
You have the fourth pick in the upcoming draft. Will you choose the best player available, or will you draft by need?
It depends. Best player available is typically where you go with 1-through-4. It can be a balancing act, too, because if you choose by need but that player is a ninth pick talent, you don’t need that player [laughs]. I think you have to take the best player available.
Have you spoken to coach Reeve and coach Hughes about your new venture?
All the time. They actually helped me throughout the process. I lean on Dan and Cheryl for a lot of advice. They’ve always been there for me and I suspect that they always will.
What did you learn from them that you’re going to implement as a head coach?
It’s going to be a lot of non-negotiables. I’m going to put the players in a position to succeed and try to play to their strengths. I think it’s about the players and making sure that they’re in a good place, mentally and physically. I know that it’s not about me. If I can get the team going the way they’re going but doing it together and playing to their strengths, I think it will be good.
Last season this team gave up the most points in the league and averaged the most turnovers per game. How will you go about fixing those issues?
Practice [laughs]. Practice is where it happens, man. You attack those things in practice. The good thing about right now is that having the same core back, you know what their weaknesses are. You have this whole time to prepare and say, “Okay, I know what we need to improve on, so now it’s about improving in those 4-5 areas that we need to improve on.”
I think a lot of the turnover issues were due to the backup point guard situation.
It was tough. You had Jamierra [Faulkner] go down and you depended a lot on Linnae [Harper] who was young and just out of college. It was her first year in the league. That was a tough situation to be in, especially when a seasoned veteran gets injured. We’ll find ways to combat that. We’ll be fine.
What do you hope to achieve in your first season in Chicago?
What do I hope to achieve?
What will you achieve [laughs]?
We’re going to be a competitive team. I want to go as deep as we can in the playoffs. That’s the reason I’m here. We’re not rebuilding. We’re trying to put together a team and we want to go on a deep run.