Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Page 742

Quotes on Sparks-Shock from LA Times, + pictures

Of course the LA Times put the short game story on page 15 of today’s sports section, and naturally, the story isn’t online.

Reporter Mark Medina writes on the Pierson-Thompson incident:

Laimbeer said afterward that ‘Tina did it on purpose.’ Cooper wanted to see the replay but noted, ‘Bill is always going ot have a different take on things.’ And Thompson said, ‘I’ve never intentionally hurt or fouled anyone in the game.’

People either assume everyone else is lying, or they assume everyone else is telling the truth. I’m the latter, so TT’s comment is good enough for me.

Medina quotes Cooper on the Sparks:

‘You don’t want anything like last year to happen again,’ Cooper said. ‘I’m glad we just kept our focus. What we were doing was playing good basketball.’

That first sentence is telling. Indeed.

Pics from wnba.com:

Happy Bobbitt and CP

LL and Snoop Dogg

Sheryl Swoopes deserves better than this

Sheryl Swoopes is one of the legends of the women’s game.

Her jersey was retired after she played only two years at Texas Tech, where she won the national championship as a senior and set school records. She is a three-time Olympic gold medalist and a four-time WNBA champion. She was the first woman to have a Nike shoe named after her, and she was the face of the game for many years, inspiring countless girls to pick up a ball. In 2005, Swoopes also became the first professional player to publicly come out.

So where is the legendary player now? Sitting at home in Seattle.

Last year she ended an 11-year career with the Houston Comets by signing with the Storm as a free agent. In January, Swoopes was abruptly waived by Seattle, and the team owners thanked her for her contributions. She didn’t receive any training camp invitations, and didn’t try out for any WNBA team. So I guess Swoopes is out of work and officially retired.

It reminds me of the stanza in the T.S. Eliot poem, “The Hollow Men”:

this is the way the world ends
this is the way the world ends
this is the way the world ends
not with a bang but with a whimper

Indeed.

But if the WNBA allows the career of this great player to end with a whimper, they should be utterly ashamed of themselves. Swoopes may not be a part of the swan song that is this summer, with the impending retirements of other legends like Lisa Leslie and Yolanda Griffith. But she is no less deserving of fanfare.

Leslie reportedly will be honored in other arenas this summer as the Sparks hit town, and Swoopes should also be honored in some way. Though there is no more Comets since they folded last year, that venue might be the All-Star game, or one of the WNBA finals games. But she should be honored.

WNBA, do the right thing. Give Swoopes the send off and the closure that she deserves for all she has given to the game for the last few decades.

Rookies shine on opening day, and other tidbits

Not quite like CP last year, but damned good nonetheless:

Brian Martin writes on the .com

Other Sparks opening day tidbits I forgot last night in my fatigue:

– 13,000 in attendance! Booyah.

– Snoop Dogg was there! Sitting in some expensive seat with his wife Chante. And of course, he had the shades on. Football player Warren Sapp was also in attendance.

Snoop D-O-double gizzle

– I didn’t read the game program until I got home, but inside was a brief interview with Lisa Leslie that included this comment:

“I’m strong, I’m tough, and I still wear my eyeliner,” Leslie said.

Leslie has managed to maintain her femininity while becoming one of the best to ever play the game.

The implications of this statement are many, and all are disturbing. And why the Sparks felt the need to insert this quote into a program where kids could read it is beyond me. So I’d like to make the following points:

1. Being feminine doesn’t make one a better or more desirable basketball player or person than a tomboyish woman.

2. Women should be able to be who they are.

3. Female basketball players, from high school to the pros, do a MUCH better job of accepting one another (regardless of appearance or sexuality) than their male ball playing counterparts. For the most part, people just get along. If they publicized these attitudes more, it would help influence fans and others to also be more accepting. But instead, the WNBA goes out of its way sometimes to hype and promote feminity and/or heterosexuality.

Apparently, we’ve still got a long way to go.

– On the upside, I saw a father and son in the parking garage before the game. The father playfully bopped the son on the head because he forgot the tickets. They turned around to walk back to the car, and as the dad walked by me, I could see he had a “Dunkin Divas” T-shirt on.

OK, maybe not as far to go as I thought.

Holdsclaw is back in the building(!!)

23 points? Wow. Katie Douglas had 22 for Indiana.

Dream 87, Fever 86

Other scores:

Storm 71, Monarchs 61
Mystics 82, Sun 70
Lynx 102, Sky 85
Mercury 90, Silver Stars 79

Sparks 78, Shock 58

Both teams got off to a slow start today, but Sparks guard Betty Lennox ignited her new team with two quick baskets from the left corner, and two steals. Then Tina Thompson started getting into the act. Between them, they were ridiculous; Lennox with her quick drives, and Thompson with her long, sweet shots. Lennox finished with 17 and Thompson, 18.

Noelle Quinn came in at the end of the first quarter and hit two quick jumpers. Then at the start of the second quarter, Vanessa Hayden started doing damage with two baskets of her own. Her second bucket put the Sparks up 30-18 at 8:19, and LA never looked back.

Deanna Nolan (15 points) and Taj McWilliams-Franklin (12 points) tried hard for the Shock, but the Sparks are just so deep this year. Starting point guard Kristi Harrower, 35, was even blocking shots if she wasn’t stealing the ball. LA lead 51-29 at the half.

The third quarter was worrisome, as Nolan began with a 3, and the Sparks looked sluggish. Visions of last season started popping into my head, but in the fourth quarter, guard Marie Ferdinand-Harris came off the bench and started hitting. She looks much more sharp than last year, and finished with 7. Hayden had 12 and Quinn, 8. Lisa Leslie didn’t have her best game, finishing with 6 points.

Overall, I was very pleased. Last year’s Sparks had trouble playing 40 minutes because they couldn’t hang, and one minute they’d be there and the next, they wouldn’t. Today I saw a similar lapse, but it wasn’t because the Sparks weren’t capable, as was the case last year. It felt like they are still learning each other and the systems. If they can kick the crap out of the defending champions with a half-staff Lisa Leslie and no Candace Parker, just think of what the end of the season will be like.

I get chills.

For now, the Sparks really need to work on boxing out. That’s the only thing that was really glaring to me and those in my section. The offense is coming right along, and the defense isn’t far behind it.

At the end of the first quarter, Thompson and Shock forward Plenette Pierson went down under the basket in an incident that was freakishly similar to an injury Pierson sustained in a game last season. And just like last year, there is now a “controversy” around who was at fault and who did what to whom.

You be the judge

It’s too bad that some always like to assume the worst about others, and that bad intentions are the norm. But what would sports be without some drama? It’s part of the reason why some watch.

Quote of the day from thesixthwoman, on twitter: “Why does Plenette keep getting flipped over?”

I wonder that too.

On the Farmers uniforms, I guess I don’t care. I sit in the eighth row, so when you’re watching them play, you’re not looking at the name on the jersey. The team shop was still selling stuff that said “Sparks” on it today, so I’m happy.

Cute moment: late in the game, a Shock player was at the line for a free throw. Former college teammates Bobbitt and Alexis Hornbuckle leaned toward each other, shoulders together, and said a few words. I tried to catch it on camera, but the second shot fell and they were off again.

My thought: Go Betty! So nice to have you in the house, girl. Thompson too. By the way, Lennox is 32 and Thompson, 34.

My other thought: It was great to see everyone again, from the other Staples Center regulars to the ushers to the staffers. The first day of WNBA season is always like a family reunion. Lotsa hugs.

Barring major injuries, I don’t see anyone else beating the Sparks for the big trophy with the ball on top this year.

Kiesha Brown isn’t there to lead the “whoops” in the tunnel anymore, but they did allright on their own today.

Delisha Milton-Jones takes a shot while Betty Lennox cuts to her spot.

Candace Parker makes her entrance during team warmups. Wherever she goes, people ask, “where’s the baby?” It’s kinda dumb when you think about it. The baby is only 24 days old.

CP gives somebody a hug.

Before the game, Sparks co-owners Kathy Goodman and Carla Christofferson gathered a group of Lovedy Brydon’s friends and family on the court to pay tribute to the long-time Sparks and UCLA fan, who died April 26. In the spot where she used to sit, at the back of my section, was her wheelchair, decorated for the occasion.

Bruins Erica Tukianien and Moniquee Alexander strode up to the Staples Center in their bold blue jackets about 10:45 a.m. They are very friendly, and made their way around the arena saying hello to fans. UCLA Coach Nikki Caldwell and assistant coach Tasha Butts were also there.

Claims were made on the rebkell message board that Sparks fans were cheering Shock forward Plenette Pierson’s injury. LA fans are entirely too quiet and complacent for my taste, and I didn’t hear any of that. But they did boo Shock Coach Bill Laimbeer, who strode over to where Pierson was lying on the floor (above), took a look and then doubled back and approached Sparks Coach Michael Cooper to give him a piece of his mind.

I wouldn’t have done that.

The new trend of all the coaches huddling to talk before they talk to the team gives teammates/friends a chance to giggle.

CP and TT are homies.

And they even do the serious faces together.

During second half play. Yes, just about everyone hooks arms at some point during games.

Shannon Bobbitt (far left) and Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton (near right) got in at the end of the game, and each had some nice moves.

The last huddle of the game was very animated, with Lennox and Bobbitt doing all of the talking and gesturing. (It’s a Sagittarius thing)

Box score

Sparks preview story

Kaleena Mosqueeda-Lewis has a long commute to her travel ball team

The Mater Dei star has made the US Olympic U16 team, as noted in this space earlier in the week. But Mosqueeda-Lewis also been playing for the nationally-renowned Tennessee Flight. Her coach says she wanted to cut back her travel ball schedule.

And there weren’t any closer teams?

Western Conference preview

My wish is their command, apparently:

Sports Page Magazine Western Conference Preview

What does this mean? :

Penny Toler may have her issues as a GM (and there are plenty if you listen to stories from behind the scenes of the WNBA), but she has to be given credit for working to improve a team that was one miracle Sophia Young basket away from the WNBA Finals last season.

Accurate comment on Sac:

Sacramento’s post is populated by talented yet injury-prone veterans and youngsters who are still looking to improve. Yet, as mentioned before, they do tend to get things done, whoever they put on the floor.

Stars:

Significant additions: Shanna Crossley’s ability to stand up, Katie Mattera (née Feenstra), Belinda Snell, Megan Frazee

The predictions at the bottom are very interesting.

Eastern Conference stuff

Outstanding Eastern Conference preview piece:

Sports Page Magazine nails it

Hope they hurry up with the Western Conference run-down.

Courant.com explains that Connecticut Sun Coach Mike Thibault hates to have to cut players:

Tossin and turnin

I’ve always been a secret Thibault fan.

WNBA rosters set, + stats

The fortunate women who get to play this summer

A rebkell poster named p_d_swanson laid down this beauty of a stat sheet, breaking down the ages, heights/weights and colleges of those in the league. Dig:

–Averages–
Team Age Exp
———– —– —-
Los Angeles 29.50 5.73
Indiana 28.90 5.64
San Antonio 28.88 5.45
Detroit 28.58 5.36
Seattle 27.58 4.82
Sacramento 27.31 4.73
Atlanta 26.94 4.27
Chicago 26.56 3.91
Phoenix 26.17 3.73
Washington 26.08 2.91
Connecticut 26.02 3.27
New York 25.05 2.55
Minnesota 24.24 2.18
———– —– —-
League 27.06 4.20

Oldest
39.27 — Yolanda Griffith, Ind.
38.63 — Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Det.
37.14 — Vickie Johnson, S.A.
36.91 — Lisa Leslie, L.A.
36.88 — Tully Bevilaqua, Ind.
35.01 — Katie Smith, Det.
34.80 — Shannon Johnson, Sea.
34.74 — DeLisha Milton-Jones, L.A.
34.72 — Ticha Penicheiro, Sac.
34.32 — Tina Thompson, L.A.

Youngest
20.56 — Quanitra Hollingsworth, Min.
21.71 — Courtney Paris, Sac.
21.79 — DeWanna Bonner, Pho.
22.05 — Kristi Cirone, Con.
22.14 — Christina Wirth, Ind.
22.19 — Megan Frazee, S.A.
22.28 — Ashley Walker, Sea.
22.31 — Candice Wiggins, Min.
22.36 — Kristi Toliver, Chi.
22.37 — Kia Vaughn, N.Y.

Tallest
6’8″ — Katie Mattera, S.A.
6’6″ — Kara Braxton, Det.
6’6″ — Chen Nan, Chi.
6’6″ — Sylvia Fowles, Chi.
6’5″ — 10 players

Shortest
5’2″ — Shannon Bobbitt, L.A.
5’3″ — Temeka Johnson, Pho.
5’3″ — Erica White, Ind.
5’4″ — Kristi Harrower, L.A.
5’5″ — Leilani Mitchell, N.Y.
5’6″ — Helen Darling, S.A.
5’6″ — Becky Hammon, S.A.
5’7″ — Tully Bevilaqua, Ind.
5’7″ — Shannon Johnson, Sea.
5’7″ — Renee Montgomery, Min.
5’7″ — Kristi Toliver, Chi.

Heaviest
250 — Courtney Paris, Sac.
240 — Vanessa Hayden, L.A.
240 — Katie Mattera, S.A.
225 — Kara Braxton, Det.
215 — Ebony Hoffman, Ind.
215 — Tamika Whitmore, Con.
208 — Nicky Anosike, Min.
208 — Kia Vaughn, N.Y.
206 — Christi Thomas, Min.
205 — Janel McCarville, N.Y.
205 — Olayinka Sanni, Det.

Lightest
130 — Shannon Bobbitt, L.A.
130 — Edwige Lawson-Wade, S.A.
130 — Leilani Mitchell, N.Y.
130 — Kristi Toliver, Chi.
133 — Armintie Price, Chi.
134 — Kiesha Brown, Con.
135 — Erica White, Ind.
136 — Kristi Cirone, Con.
136 — Becky Hammon, S.A.
139 — Lindsey Harding, Was.
139 — Kristi Harrower, L.A.
139 — Renee Montgomery, Min.

By College
13 — Tennessee
9 — Connecticut
7 — Georgia
6 — LSU
6 — Rutgers
5 — North Carolina
4 — Duke
4 — Maryland
3 — Louisiana Tech
3 — Penn State
3 — Purdue
3 — Southern California
3 — Stanford

International
6 — Australia
2 — Brazil
1 — China
1 — France

Now those are some stats I find interesting.

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