Thursday, January 18, 2018
Page 715

Catching up with Coach Summitt and the Lady Vols

Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt won two awards this week: the WNBA’s Inspiring Coach Award and the Russell Athletic/Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Victory Club Award. Congrats, Coach Summitt.

Link: http://patsummitt.blogspot.com/

While in St. Louis, I’d heard what a tough time former Lady Vol Kara Lawson, and former Vol assistant Carolyn Peck, had broadcasting after Tennessee’s first-round loss March 22. Here’s a piece that elaborates on that:

http://www.govolsxtra.com/news/2009/apr/04/former-lady-vols-at-a-loss/

To wit:

Former guard and assistant coach Nikki Caldwell, now the coach at UCLA, spoke of the loss as if it were a transgression.

“It’s like an unspoken rule, you don’t lose like that,” she said. “You don’t lose that early.”

After the stunning finish, Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt said that she heard from several former players. She characterized their mood as “angry.”

Former guard Alexis Hornbuckle described her reaction to Tennessee’s NCAA tournament loss as ranging from initial disbelief to wanting to throw her computer across the room after verifying the result via the Internet in Turkey, where she had been playing.

Wanting to huck the computer gets the point across well. No wonder Lex came to visit a couple weeks ago.

Three freshmen leave the University of Arizona

Yikes:

The Arizona Wildcats women’s basketball team announced that freshmen Amani Butler, Jhakia McDonald and Malia Nahinu have left the program. Coach Niya Butts said it was a mutual decision.
“Any time you spend a year with someone, it’s going to be tough,” she said. “We got to know the players. They got to know Tucson and the university. It’s always difficult in that respect, but it’s in the best interest of both parties.”

Link: http://www.azstarnet.com/sports/288181

USA Today final “super 25” high school basketball rankings

1. Ben Davis, Indianapolis, IN (30-0)
2. Kentwood, Covington, WA (28-1)
3. Brea Olinda, Brea, CA (33-2)
4. Washington, South Bend, IN (26-1)
5. Bolingbrook, IL (25-4)
6. Mater Dei, Santa Ana, CA (32-1)
7. St. Michael Academy, New York, NY (25-3)
8. Fayetteville, AK (32-0)
9. Westbury Christian, Houston, TX (42-1)
10. Whitney Young, Chicago, IL (33-2)
11. Riverdale Baptist School, Upper Marlboro, MD (26-3)
12. Heritage Christian, Indianapolis, IN (26-1)
13. St. Mary’s, Stockton, CA (31-3)
14. Murry Bergtraum, New York, NY (24-2)
15. Summit, Arlington, TX (34-4)
16. Cardinal O’Hara, Springfield, PA (27-3)
17. Nimitz, Houston, TX (37-2)
18. Archbishop Carroll, Radnor, PA (30-1)
19. Dulles, Sugar Land, TX (36-3)
20. Mount Notre Dame, Cincinati, OH (27-1)
21. St. John Vianney, Holmdel, NJ (31-2)
22. Redan, Stone Mountain, GA (27-0)
23. Long Beach Poly, Long Beach, CA (32-3)
24. Sacred Heart Cathedral, San Francisco, CA (28-2)
25. Shabazz, Newark, NJ (29-2)

This was published Wednesday morning, in time for me to contemplate it while waiting for my plane back to LA. Overall, a solid list:

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/preps/basketball/poll/2008-09-super25w.htm

More on the draft

OOO:

Cooper admitted that GM Toler might only be getting warmed up in terms of personnel moves–that’s what she does–and Toler herself went out of her way in making it clear that the WNBA season was a long way off and that the Sparks lineup could change dramatically by the time the team takes the floor in June.

Toler revealed at length a player acquisition philosophy that went beyond just this year’s draft. If you can’t get what you want in terms of filling a particular need, she in essence said, you pick for talent: what other teams are likely to need. Then you prepare to make deals.

The big deal that Toler is looking to make this time is for 2004 WNBA Finals MVP Betty Lennox and she’s confident in the Sparks chances of bringing Betty-Ball to the Staples Center. “We’re in the Betty Lennox sweepstakes and she’s said we’re at the top of her list. I think you’re going to see something happen there in the next few days.”

Story link: http://www.spmsportspage.com/published/spmarticles/sparks-get-what-they-want.shtml

And here’s a perspective check – and a great one, too:

Maybe the best moment of the draft on Thursday came when Rebecca Lobo, a league pioneer, interviewed Marissa Coleman, who was the second pick overall. Coleman said she grew up “idolizing Diana Taurasi.”

Taurasi, 26, really isn’t that old. But she’s been around long enough for today’s rookies to “idolize.” That would never have happened had the WNBA folded. Or had never been born.

Maybe to some people, that’s insignificant. But if you’re a young female athlete with some hopes and dreams, it only means everything.

Story link: http://www.theday.com/re.aspx?re=b0fc7377-f3c2-4642-997f-b9d68735afa7

Finally, here’s a great Q and A with Courtney Paris:

What is your message to Monarchs fans?

“I’m so excited to be back in California. I’m so excited to play for Monarchs fans. You should know I’m 100 percent committed to getting my body ready, getting my mind ready and I’m excited to help the Monarchs win! Hopefully, I can make an impact on the team.”

You’ll be fine, sweetie.

Link: http://www.wnba.com/monarchs/features/Straight_from_Paris.html

From NC State and Oklahoma

North Carolina State isn’t offering Stephanie Glance the head coaching job:

During a phone call with WRAL Thursday night, Kay Yow’s brother, Ronnie Yow, called the decision not to hire Glance “disturbing.”

“They’ve pulled the rug out from under that program… it’s an insane thing to do,” he said.

The brother of N.C. State’s legendary coach stressed that it was always Kay Yow’s intention to turn her program over to Glance. “I feel like I need to defend my sister,” he said providing WRAL with a copy of a letter written by Kay Yow two years ago.

Story link: http://www.wralsportsfan.com/ncsu/story/4924361/

I’m not into game playing or politics, so I don’t know if they’re just going through the proper channels before hiring Glance, or if they really don’t want to respect Yow’s wishes. But it seems like Glance is the logical fit for the job.

In the meantime, Courtney Paris may not be able to give money back to Oklahoma, but she’s going to start a community fund. Stubborn young woman:

http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/womens-basketball/news?slug=ap-oklahoma-parispayback&prov=ap&type=lgns

WNBA draft day

2009 WNBA DRAFT, ROUND 1
PICK TEAM RECORD

1 Atlanta Dream | Angel McCoughtry | Louisville 4-30
2 Washington Mystics | Marissa Coleman | Maryland 10-24
3 Chicago Sky | Kristi Toliver | Maryland 12-22
4 Minnesota Lynx | Renee Montgomery | Connecticut 16-18
5 Phoenix Mercury | DeWanna Bonner | Auburn 16-18
6 Indiana Fever | Briann January | Arizona State 17-7
7 Sacramento Monarchs | Courtney Paris | Oklahoma 18-16
8 New York Liberty | Kia Vaughn | Rutgers 19-15
9 Minnesota Lynx | Quanitra Hollingsworth | VCU 16-18
10 Connecticut Sun | Chante Black | Duke 21-13
11 Detroit Shock | Shavonte Zellous | Pittsburgh 22-12
12 Seattle Storm | Ashley Walker | California 22-12
13 Los Angeles Sparks | Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton | Purdue 20-14

2009 WNBA DRAFT, ROUND 2
PICK TEAM RECORD

14 San Antonio Silver Stars | Megan Frazee | Liberty 24-10
15 Minnesota Lynx | Rashanda McCants | North Carolina 16-18
16 Chicago Sky | Danielle Gant | Texas A&M 12-22
17 Connecticut Sun | Lyndra Littles | Virginia 21-13
18 Detroit | Britany Miller | Florida State 22-12
19 Indiana Fever | Christina Wirth | Vanderbilt 17-7
20 Sacramento Monarchs | Whitney Boddie | Auburn 18-16
21 New York Liberty | Abby Waner | Duke 19-15
22 Los Angeles Sparks | Ashley Paris | Oklahoma 20-14
23 Washington Mystics | Camille LeNoir | USC 10-24
24 Washington Mystics | Jelena Milovanovic | MKB Euroleasing 10-24
25 Atlanta Dream | Shalee Lehning | Kansas State 4-30
26 San Antonio Silver Stars | Sonja Petrovic | Belgrade, Serbia 24-10

2009 WNBA DRAFT, ROUND 3
PICK TEAM RECORD

27 Atlanta Dream | Jessica Morrow | Baylor 4-30
28 Washington Mystics | Josephine Owino | Union (Tenn.) 10-24
29 Chicago Sky | Jennifer Risper | Baylor 12-22
30 Minnesota Lynx | Emily Fox | Minnesota 16-18
31 Phoenix Mercury | Sha Brooks | Florida 16-18
32 Indiana Fever | Danielle Campbell | Purdue 17-7
33 Sacramento Monarchs | Morgan Warburton | Utah 18-16
34 Phoenix Mercury | Jessica Adair | George Washington 16-18
35 Los Angeles Sparks | Britney Jordan | Texas A&M-Commerce 20-14
36 Connecticut Sun | Alba Torrens | Real Club Celta Indepo 21-13
37 Detroit Shock | Tanae Davis-Cain | Florida State 22-12
38 Seattle Storm | Mara Freshour | Florida State 22-12
39 San Antonio Silver Stars | Candyce Bingham | Lousville 24-10

I’m always surprised at the order, but there’s no accounting for the needs of particular teams. We fans can say what we want, praise and grumble, but in the end it’s the decisions of respective teams. Courtney Paris at seven was the biggest surprise for me, and I am not alone.

Not selected:

Takia Starks, Texas A&M (what?)
Devanei Hampton, Cal
Jillian Harmon, Stanford

I’m really surprised at Takia Starks not being chosen.

I’m thrilled for Camille LeNoir and Candyse Bingham – very hard-working players with skills. I also can’t completely dislike the Storm now, since they selected Ashley Walker. I wished Ashley luck Saturday, and I will continue to do so for her up there. The Storm sure didn’t work out for her assistant coach at Cal. And I’m happy for Coach Greg McCall, because his daughter DeWanna isn’t that far away in Phoenix.

I was at the Sparks draft party today, and everyone was very pleased with the selections of the powers that be. True that Wisdom-Hylton and Walker are forwards and we need guards, but I guess they’re counting on that with Marta Fernandez. My guess is they’re going to keep Shannon Bobbitt as the PG, and use Fernandez as the two. Or if rumors on rebkell are correct, they’ll sign Betty Lennox within the next week, and there will be our 2. If that’s the case, the Lindsay and Ashley picks are brilliant, because we need forwards.

Personally, I was very happy for one, because Wisdom-Hylton and Candace Parker already know each other well from their high school days in Illinois. And Ashley Paris is a good player and an even better person. I was one of those that yelled “woo!” when we got her at 22. As for Britney Jordan, I admit I don’t know much about her. But I’m willing to learn.

I predict Murriel Page, Raffaela Masciadri, Kiesha Brown and Jessica Moore have seen their last days in purple and gold uniforms.

Bottom line: we appear to be loaded! I like that.

Candace did her appearance at the party and made the rounds. It was very personable.

Pics:

http://www.spmsportspage.com/images/WNBA/2009/Sparks-Draft-Party-Womens-Professional-Basketball-WNBA-4-09-2009/003.html

Coach Michael Cooper told the crowd that staff had done their homework on prospective picks extensively this year, including obtaining their medical histories. I guess it paid off.

The finals, or finally

I was at the games on a credential that precludes me from posting some of my photos here. So imagine the Louisville Cardinals all holding hands during the anthem Tuesday. That’s a good picture. Imagine Angel McCoughtry pointing to the right at a spot on the floor, for a teammate, during playing action. Imagine all the confetti falling from the ceiling at the end of the game.

Here are some things that I can post:

Candyse Bingham’s shoes are so fly they’re sick.

The Louisville fans had enough spirit for the entire arena. They stood for much of both games.

Championship game night: somebody got their hair did.

Louisville is hyped in the huddle. And to their credit, they did a good job against a powerful team like Connecticut.

The arch is pretty. The view from the top is great. And the people of St. Louis are some of the nicest and friendliest I’ve met in a while. Thanks, everyone.

Celebrities everywhere

Terps Kristi Toliver and Marissa Coleman were on hand at the WBCA game to accept an award.

Lengendary point guard and South Carolina Coach Dawn Staley sat front row to watch recruit Kelsey Bone.

If you look carefully, you can see Pat Summitt in this crowd.

Prolific scout.com writer Maria M. Cornelius interviews the messiah of basketball at halftime.

Coach Summitt went to talk to recruit Taber Spani’s family after Maria’s interview.

Sunday evening’s semifinals: Carolyn Peck, Trey Wingo, Kara Lawson and Pat Summitt watch the action during the Louisville-Oklahoma game. (Coach Summitt was interviewed at halftime….wish I knew what she’d said).

Monday: legendary point guard and newly-named Louisiana Tech head coach Teresa Weatherspoon is hobnobbin and networkin at the Hyatt.

Spoon said she was looking for some players. Good for her.

WBCA high school game

The game was Saturday at Washington University in St. Louis. Many people, including myself, went to the Scottrade Center to see the college team open practices, then quickly hopped a shuttle to go see the high school game.

It was a star-studded event, both on the court and in the audience (I’ll get to the audience part in a separate post in a little bit). And it was a good game. Here’s a nice summary of what happened:

Story link: http://fullcourt.scout.com/2/853920.html

Unfortunately, Brittney Griner didn’t dunk in the game. But she brought the crowd of almost 3000 to silence during pre-game warmups. Each team lined up at their respective baskets – the blue team to do layup drills. But Griner used her turn to dunk the ball, five or six times in a row.

She doesn’t seem to exert much effort in the dunk, and why should she? Griner is 6-foot-8 with an 86-inch wingspan. She doesn’t have to get far off the ground to do the damn thing.

Her first dunk went “CLUNK!” with the unmistakable sound of a rim being contacted. The crowd, which had been chatting, fell quiet.

“CLUNK!”

The cameras were out and people were staring and whispering.

“CLUNK!”

It was really something. And I tried to take photos of the spectacle, but they turned out blurry.

One thing that was interesting was that Griner wasn’t nearly as aggressive as I’d imagined her to be. Maybe she wasn’t used to playing against that caliber of player before, but for the first part of the game, she seemed out of sorts. And at the rim, Griner has a soft touch. Not exactly what I was expecting. But she’ll do just fine in college playing with Mariah Chandler, who was also her teammate on the blue squad.

Both teams warm up at their baskets. Brittney Griner (middle) walks up the court.

During play.

Griner comes forward to accept an award….

….and standing next to an average-height person, her height makes a statement.

Skylar Diggins, Layshia Clarendon, Griner, Kelsey Bone and Joslyn Tinkle all wait for the ref to get his ish together so Griner can shoot a free throw.

Yolanda Griffith (in white) was the honorary co-captain for the blue team.

Tina Thompson (far right in white) was the honorary co-captain for the white team.

St. Louis weather

Monday morning, 9 a.m., downtown St. Louis: snow! It was pretty durn cold that day and Tuesday, wind chill and everything. The locals had warned us Saturday that it can go from 65 to 30 in a day, and that’s exactly what it did from Sunday to Monday. Brrrr! It’s nice to be home.

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