Saturday, August 24, 2019
Page 4

Streak snapping, trades and other items

Today’s result:

The Lynx roared back to defeat the Dream, 85-69, and end a four-game losing streak.

Tomorrow’s game schedule:

Liberty at Sky

WNBA team news:

The Sun traded Kristine Anigwe to the Wings for Theresa Plaisance.

The Mercury have signed Asia Taylor.

Keys to the Liberty’s playoff push, as per Amanda Zahui B.

CBS Sports power rankings.

WNBA player news:

Jordin Canada talks about the Storm, the season, and her new outlook.

Seimone Augustus is ready to lead by example again.

Augustus returned to action tonight and moved into tenth place on the WNBA all-time scoring list.

Rookie Arike Ogunbowale remains confident despite the Wings’ losing record.

College team news:

Baylor and Lauren Cox are back for more after last year’s Championship win.

The departure of Megan Gustafson sends Iowa back to a four-out attack.

College player news:

Oregon forward Satou Sabally will miss the team’s first three games this season to play with the German National Team.

UConn’s Crystal Dangerfield is recovering quietly this summer.

San Diego State’s Monique Terry lost her cousin in the El Paso shooting over the weekend.

College coach news:

Muffet McGraw podcast.

UCLA coach Cori Close and one of her incoming players bonded over competition at the FIBA games.

North Dakota State’s new coach Jory Collins says the team is progressing.

International news:

A trip to Tokyo would be worth everything to Katherine and Michelle Plouffe.

Kenya has their eye on an Olympic ticket ahead of the AfroBasket championship.

Storm’s Canada on new role, outlook

Jordin Canada goes up for a tough shot against the Washington Mystics. Neil Enns/Storm photos.
Jordin Canada goes up for a tough shot against the Washington Mystics. Neil Enns/Storm photos.
Jordin Canada goes up for a tough shot against the Washington Mystics. Neil Enns/Storm photos.

The Seattle Storm drafted Jordin Canada last year with designs on her eventually inheriting the point guard crown from legend Sue Bird, who has been with the franchise for 18 seasons. But Canada was called to step into that role much sooner, as Bird had knee surgery in May and is out indefinitely.

Canada has more than embraced the challenge.

She is averaging 10 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game in an efficient 29.3 minutes of play. For a while she led the WNBA in assists, and still finds herself in the top 10.

Just as noticeable is Canada’s increased on-court confidence and explosiveness, which has been reminiscent of her time at UCLA, where she left as the program’s all-time assists leader, second-highest all-time scorer and ranked third on the all-time steals list. A big factor in defending champions Seattle still being in playoff contention, despite missing starters and seeing a revolving door of injuries this season, has been due to Canada’s steadiness.

Bird said she always saw glimpses of Canada’s potential.

“Last year she was able to sit back and learn, but she still gave us a lot of great minutes. Game two of the semifinals, she was huge for us,” Bird said. “Now she’s getting more of a chance to be a leader, to grow those areas of her game.”

“I’m very impressed with how everyone’s playing, and especially her.”

Prior to the season, Storm guard Noelle Quinn retired and was hired as an assistant coach for the team. She and Canada talk before games, and Canada said she likes her better in her role as a coach than as a player.

Canada injured her knee during a June match up, but as she did so many times in the past, she recovered rapidly and missed only three games.

She will turn 24 this Sunday.

When Sue Bird had knee surgery in May, you knew you had next. What was going through your mind at that point?

I knew I had to step up. I knew I was going to have a bigger responsibility and role on this team – to be a leader, to be a floor general. That’s what I was working on in the off-season, in Poland and in training camp, just trying to have that leadership mentality and trying to up my game as much as possible. So when that happened it sucked to have a legend go down – one of the best players on our team, that brings so much. But I had that “next man” mentality and tried to gain as much knowledge as possible in training camp.

Storm assistant coach Noelle Quinn confers with Jordin Canada. Maria Noble/WomensHoopsWorld
Storm assistant coach Noelle Quinn confers with Jordin Canada. Maria Noble/WomensHoopsWorld

You’ve doubled your points and rebounds per game average, tripled your steals and almost doubled your assists. How have you been able to do that?

It’s just experience – getting game experience and getting in the flow. Being able to learn as I go. Noe has been a great part in that, helping my game. My teammates too, being able to find them and create. But Noe especially has been an influence on my game. She is a former point guard, and I happened to bond with her and have chemistry, and she tells me what I needed to work on. We have that UCLA bond, just that UCLA mind. So it’s easier for her to talk to me and tell me what I need to work on and what I need to get better at.

Have you exceeded your own expectations? Has the team exceeded your expectations?

I don’t look at it as exceeding our expectations. I mean, we’re a really great team. When we’re playing great basketball we’re one of the best in the league. If you have that mentality it doesn’t matter who’s not here; we focus on who is here and how we can play as a team and build chemistry. I think we’ve done a great job of that; we’re playing Seattle basketball. So I don’t think the adversity we’ve had thus far matters. It’s about coming in and showing that we’re still a great basketball team regardless of who’s not playing. We’ve had a lot of injuries throughout the season, but everyone has stepped up and had that “next man” mentality.

You have high standards for yourself. How do you deal with the goal-setting process?

I just try to focus on the process and not so much on setting goals. I think throughout this year there’s going to be a lot of ups and downs and a lot of adversity, so fall in love with the process. I’m trying to get better day by day. In setting goals, you get kind of fixated and lose sight of what’s more important. So just trying to focus on the process.

You went overseas to play in Poland last fall and injured your back before the holiday break. You returned to the team in January and said you had a different attitude and outlook. Can you explain how your mindset changed, and why?

My first year of being overseas, it’s tough going overseas. You don’t know what to expect in a new country and the living environment. When I first got there is was really hard trying to adjust, and I came back home and got a chance to recuperate and rebuild. I knew going back I’d be there for four months without a break, so I knew I had to change my mindset. Because if I had the same mentality that I did when I first got there, I knew I wasn’t going to last. So I just had to switch it around and stay positive and just focus on basketball.

Jordin Canada. Maria Noble/WomensHoopsWorld
Jordin Canada sets up a play. Maria Noble/WomensHoopsWorld

This season you look like you did playing at UCLA – aggressive and creative. Are you having as much fun on the court as it seems?

Yeah, I’m having a lot of fun. I love this team, I love the fight of this team, and we have a lot of fun off the court as well as on the court. Having that game experience for my second year, yeah, it’s a lot more fun.

How is year one in the WNBA versus year two different for you mentally? In what ways have you changed and grown?

I know what to expect this year, I know what to expect from other teams, I know how good they are. My role has changed, obviously; I have to step up in ways that I didn’t have to last year. Just being aggressive and having confidence. Last year I didn’t know what to expect, and my confidence was a little bit low. Coming back I knew what was expected of me. And with Sue out, I knew I had to step up my game and my aggressiveness. I’ve kept that mindset and kept that confidence, and I’m building on that.

You characterized yourself as shy at UCLA. Are you still shy?

I’m opening up a little bit more. When I first meet people I still have that kind of like shy side of me, but once I open up, I’m fine. I’ve gotten a lot better.

You commented on social media last week that you’ve come a long way. To what were you referring?

Just having to remind myself – I’m really hard on myself – to continue to think about how far I’ve come. To think about how much I’ve improved, though I still have some ways to go. I continue to remind myself that it’s OK to give myself a break, and not to be too hard on myself. That’s it.

Jordin Canada, Alysha Clark. Maria Noble/WomensHoopsWorld
Jordin Canada shares a laugh with Alysha Clark during pre-game warm ups. Maria Noble/WomensHoopsWorld

What do you want to accomplish by the time you leave the WNBA?

That’s a great question. I just want to leave an impact on the game in whatever way I can, whether that be stats or affecting people’s lives – it doesn’t matter. I want to impact the youth and change the game. I want to leave a legacy behind.

Storm players come from all over the United States. It is fun to connect with different people?

I think that’s pretty cool. That’s what basketball is all about. You come across people you’d never expect to meet, and it’s great to meet people from all walks of life.

Do you have any go-to places or hangouts in Seattle?

I don’t, actually, but my teammates take me out all the time to certain spots, but there’s no particular favorite.

In our interview 3.5 years ago, when you were a sophomore at UCLA, you said basketball was your passion. Is it still?

Yeah, basketball will always, forever be my passion. Obviously I have other things I’m interested in, but basketball will always be something I love and am passionate about.

Sparks handle Storm to extend winning streak to three

Shavonte Zellous, Maria Vadeeva. Maria Noble/WomensHoopsWorld
Shavonte Zellous, Maria Vadeeva. Maria Noble/WomensHoopsWorld
Shavonte Zellous guards Maria Vadeeva. Maria Noble/WomensHoopsWorld

Los Angeles – Candace Parker ignited for a season-high 21 points Sunday to lead the Los Angeles Sparks over the Seattle Storm, 83-75.

Four other Sparks players scored in double figures, including sophomore center Maria Vadeeva, who came off the bench for 14 points. Nneka Ogwumike had 13 points and 10 rebounds and Chelsea Gray, 10 points and eight assists, on a 52.5 percent shooting night for the team, which has now won three straight.

Both squads traded buckets in the first quarter, but a 16-4 Los Angeles run in the second gave them a 12-point lead. Seattle opened the third period with 1-8 shooting, giving their opponents a 17-point lead. Vadeeva scored four straight baskets to end the frame.

The Storm fought back in the fourth quarter after two three-point shots from reserve Sami Whitcomb, who had 16 on the night. Sparks rookie Marina Mabrey scored all 10 of her points in the period, which countered Seattle’s 9-0 run in the last three minutes.

Alysha Clark also scored 16 points for the Storm, who shot 43 percent on the day and went to the free throw line only six times, while their opponents were 13-15 from the stripe.

Los Angeles coach Derek Fisher credited his team for their offensive steadiness.

“We have talked about this Seattle team and how good they are with forcing turnovers,” he said. “We talked about having the patience and discipline not to squeeze off the first shot they see if it’s an average shot. As a group, they made a collective effort to make sure that they passed up a decent shot for a better one.”

Ogwumike said the Sparks, who have had changing lineups due to injuries this season, said she and her teammates got into a flow.

“I think that we played really well in transition,” Ogwumike said. “I would say it was a good transition offensive game, and the assists of course come with having Chelsea as a point guard, but also [from] us moving our bodies, us moving the ball, and us understanding each other.”

Storm forward Natasha Howard, who scored 13 points, saw her time on the floor limited as she picked up her third foul early in the second quarter. Coach Dan Hughes said that was one factor in the loss.

“We had to sit her most of, if not all of, the third quarter. That hurt us a little bit and they were able to separate,” he said. “You look and see that we outscored them in the second half, but they’re going in outscoring us by three and then we go back and forth, but then they separated in the second quarter.”

Seattle point guard Jordin Canada said they couldn’t overcome a slow start.

“We weren’t as sharp as we normally are, but we came out of the gate on the wrong foot,” she said. “When you play a team like this you have to bring it all four quarters. I’m proud with how we bounced back in the second half overall, but that first half really hurt us.”

The Storm have lost three consecutive games.

Fourth quarter run propels Sparks over Aces, 76-68

Thursday, August 1, 2019 - The Los Angeles Sparks in action against the Las Vegas Aces at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. (Maria Noble)
Thursday, August 1, 2019 - The Los Angeles Sparks in action against the Las Vegas Aces at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. (Maria Noble)
Thursday, August 1, 2019 – The Los Angeles Sparks in action against the Las Vegas Aces at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. (Maria Noble)

Los Angeles – Behind a fourth quarter surge and balanced play, the Los Angeles Sparks ran past the Las Vegas Aces Thursday, 76-68.

Nneka Ogwumike led Los Angeles with 19 points, while Candace Parker – back after sitting out five games with an ankle injury – scored 16 points. Chelsea Gray also notched 16 points and had 10 assists.

The Sparks started quickly and lead by seven points at the end of the first period. But the Aces began the second on a 12-2 run, and outscored their opponents by nine going into the break. They continued their onslaught in the third quarter, running up their lead to eight points before three-pointers from Ogwumike and Sydney Wiese cut the lead. Los Angeles was able to pull away in the final 2:30, sealed by a Gray bucket.

Kayla McBride led Las Vegas with 19 points, and Dearica Hamby scored 11 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.

The Sparks have won five of their last six games despite missing Parker and reserve players Maria Vadeeva and Alexis Jones, both of whom also returned to action in the game. Veteran guard Alana Beard has been out with a hamstring injury, and Chiney Ogwumike sat Thursday with a jaw injury.

The loss drops the Aces to third place, with Los Angeles close behind in fourth.

Sparks coach Derek Fisher credited his bench for stepping up in crunch time.

“We need people to be able to come in and contribute, and I think they answered,” he said.

Las Vegas coach Bill Laimbeer said his team needs to close out games better.

“I want to see less turnovers. I want to see shots going in,” he said. “We got good looks, we didn’t make it. We need to be more concentrated and we need to make big shots in big games and haven’t done that.”

The playoff race continues to grind on

Today’s results:

The Sun downed the Mercury, 68-62, for their sixth straight win.

The Wings routed the Liberty, 87-64, to move out of last place.

The Sparks topped the Aces, 76-68.

Tomorrow’s game schedule:

Mystics at Storm

WNBA team news:

The Storm are preparing for the Finals with their healthiest roster in weeks.

The Fever have serious mid-range game.

Atlanta Dream stats are down from last year.

WNBA player news:

Liberty teammates Rebecca Allen and Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe on how the WNBL has grown their game.

Podcast featuring Erica Wheeler.

A video of Elena Delle Donne greeting a fan Saturday went viral.

Megan Gustafson is seizing her opportunity with Dallas.

Teaira McCowan has only scratched the surface of her potential.

How will Seimone Augustus fit back into the Lynx lineup?

WNBA bonus:

The All-Star game flipped the script on promoting women’s sports.

NCAA news:

The NCAA has created an independent investigation unit.

College team news:

Old Dominion will host the inaugural Anne Donovan Classic tournament in December.

The Lady Vols’ trip to Europe comes at the right time.

Louisville has unveiled their new home court design.

College player news:

Ty Harris has a basketball mentor at South Carolina in Dawn Staley.

Kansas State has created a website for two-sport athlete Peyton Williams.

Keri Jewett-Giles will return to FGCU for her graduate year.

Gamecock freshman Brea Beal prides herself on her versatility.

After overcoming injuries, Michigan’s Akienreh Johnson is emerging as a team leader.

College coach news:

Youngstown State coach John Barnes has signed a five-year contract extension.

Tiffany Jackson has stepped down as assistant coach at Texas to pursue other opportunities.

Wings end six-game skid with sixth win of the season

Arlington, Texas – The Dallas Wings (6-15) end their six-game skid Thursday with a dominant 87-64 performance against the New York Liberty (8-12).

It was the third time this season that the Wings had five players score in double-digits, with rookie guard Arike Ogunbowale leading the way with 22 points. Dallas had a season-high 24 assists and showed better ball movement to go along with their second-highest scoring output for the season.

Coach Brian Agler said he is impressed with how Ogunbowale has handled the pressure of learning to play point guard while shouldering the load offensively for the team as a newcomer. The former Notre Dame standout is the team’s leading scorer at 14.6 points per game.

“Arike is that she has come to our team (when) we are missing a few people who could have been good mentors to her, and we put the ball in her hands at the point guard position, which she has never really played before,” Agler said.

“If you watch how she has progressed throughout the season, all those things that with against her and how she has taken it upon herself to sort of be the go-to player for us, and now the team is wanting her to do that and be that, and she has been great.”

Kayla Thornton also scored 14 points, Allisha Gray and Isabelle Harrison added 13 each, and Gray had a team-high nine assists.

Kia Nurse led the Liberty with 13 points, but it was the 21 turnovers for 30 points that kept New York out of the game. The Wings’ defense held them to 35 percent shooting – well below their 40.5 season average.

“You know, credit to them. They hit shots,” Nurse said. “They moved the ball well. They play to their strengths really well, and they did that tonight.”

Rebecca Allen added 11 points and rookie Asia Durr chipped in 10 points for the visitors.

Dallas has yet to get a win on the road this season, but will look to keep their two-win momentum going when they host the Las Vegas Aces Saturday.

Wings rookie Megan Gustafson has been taking advantage of her extended minutes of late, chipping in 11 points and pulling down eight rebounds against New York. Gustafson said she and the team have been working hard in practice.

“We’ve been really hungry to get (the win), and I think that hunger fueled us,” Gustafson said. “I think it was a great way to bounce back.”

New York is just outside of the playoff picture, sitting two games behind the Phoenix Mercury for the ninth seed. Coach Katie Smith said she knew Dallas would attack hard after a tough loss two nights before.

“We talked about how we had to battle. We had to hit them. We had to hit them and go get it. But they kept coming and we didn’t push back enough,” Smith said. “We also knew they’d come hard and attack us. But they just took us off the dribble, made plays and got us on our heels. But yeah, kudos to them. They played really well.”

With only six wins on the season, 11th place is not where the Wings wanted to be, but Agler said everyone is starting to fit in a little better now and thinks the team will have a better showing this weekend.

“We’ve done a good job with some of their key players, but it is some of the role players that have gotten us,” Agler said. “When they come in and sub, they don’t drop off and sometimes they play better; that has been a strength of their team and a very strong strength against us.”

The Wings struggled offensively, averaging 38 percent shooting from the field – the second-lowest percentage in the league. They will need to have a strong defense presence on top of a good shooting night in order to get the win against a team they have not matched up well with previously in the Aces.

Liz Cambage makes her return to Dallas for the first time this season after being traded prior to the season.

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