Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Page 775

“They’re” saying that Tina Thompson is coming to LA and Lisa Leslie is retiring soon

Word out on the message boards is that former Comet Tina Thompson is about to be signed tomorrow by the LA Sparks.

I got a season ticket holder email from the Sparks at 8:28 p.m. promising a “major announcement featuring one of your favorite ‘SMOOTH’ players” tomorrow. So that’s obviously about the other rumor floating around this evening, and that is that Lisa Leslie will retire after this season.

I’m not surprised by either announcement, if rumors are true, and I am happy about both.

I’ve always loved Tina Thompson. She’s a great player and a classy one, and she’s like a big sister to Candace Parker. She’d be great to have on the Sparks.

I think Leslie is coming back one more time to try and get that last WNBA championship ring. Like her or not, she’s a competitor, and it’s probably still bothering her that they muffed it up last September.

So this is it: three towers. Parker, Thompson, Leslie.

I think I just got excited about the Sparks again.

Daily surprises

The Atlanta Dream waived shooting guard Betty Lennox today. It’s sad, but not altogether surprising because of the WNBA’s new 11-player per-team limit. If this is the end of Lennox’s pro hoops career, I wonder what Betty’s going to do next.

Still no word on Baugh yet………..

PS – Thanks and a wink to anonymous. Y’all should quit bein so anonymous…..

“what a crappy night”

Someone on one of the message boards summed up tonight’s Oklahoma-Tennessee game with the above phrase, and I must agree.

The Vols started out on fire, but ran out of gas in the first half. Oklahoma won 80-70, which is cool if you’re a Sooner fan but bad if you’re me.

Pat is still at 999.

Worse is that Courtney Paris’ 112-game double-double streak that dated back to December, 2005, is now over. Apparently she was crying when she fouled out of the game.

The worst news is that Vicki Baugh went down in the last few minutes of the game in a way very similar to her ACL tear of April 8, 2008, and on the same knee. She left the court in a wheelchair, a towel over her head.

Good lord, did anything good happen today?

Pat Summitt tries for win 1000 tonight

A win against Oklahoma at their place won’t be an easy task, but people know not to bet against the greatest.

Graham Hays of ESPN had a nice piece on Summitt over the weekend:

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncw/columns/story?columnist=hays_graham&id=3875542

What has made Summitt special isn’t her ability to change with the times or live by the ethics of times gone by. What has guided her to a coaching milestone never before reached is an ability to live outside the confines of the times.

I’m not sure if I agree with that, but Hays gets credit for his theory.

Game time is 4:30 PST, 7:30 EST.

It’s interesting that on the Lady Vols schedule, this game was dubbed “Big Monday” long before they knew Summitt would be on the cusp of 1000 on that date.

Even Bobby Knight is going to call this game:

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncw/news/story?id=3872274

Breast Cancer Awareness game: Washington Prep 56, Lynwood 52

Besides writing this blog, I also write for a website. And I just finished a story for that site on the Washington Prep vs. Lynwood breast cancer awareness game last night at Prep. I can’t get hold of my editor right now to see if she’s going to put it on the part of the site for subscribers only, or the free access part. So until I hear from her, I can’t post that story here. I may still, but I’ll come up with a different and less strictly journalistic version for this space.

First, pictures:

The Generals warm up prior to the game in their specially-made shirts with the school mascot on the front.

Team introductions.

In the huddle scoping out the Lynwood Knights.

In the huddle with Coach Ricky Blackmon and Assistant Coach Porchia Brown.

I also have a video of the team introductions, which features some of the great pre-game team bonding rituals of the Generals:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6xGBxMKHZs

Lynwood wore pink socks with their regular uniforms, so weren’t quite as photograph-worthy as Washington. But it is really great to see the popular trend of having breast cancer awareness night-themed games trickle down from colleges and the WNBA to the high school level. I know of at least one other such high school game this month in the Los Angeles area, and it’s awesome.

The game itself was a good one:

Kejuana Gardner, Reshanda Gray and Tayllor Gipson got Prep off to a strong start in the first quarter, and it took a little while for Lynwood to respond. But behind the dynamic duo of Tyonna Outland and Jasmin Jennings, they did. Prep was up 15-10 at the end of the first quarter.

The Generals went on a run in the middle of the second quarter, and they were up 28-16 at 3:17. But then the Knights went on a run, reeling off 11 unanswered points before Gardner took matters into her own hands and drove for the basket with about 30 seconds to go. A dish to Jerronisha Green kept Washington on top 30-27 at halftime.

Both teams continued to take it to each other in the third before Prep bore down and made a run about mid-way through. Gray and Gipson were nailing shots and layups while Gardner mostly stuck to assisting them. Washington was up 44-36 at the end of three.

Lynwood came out posessed in the fourth quarter, beginning it with a back-door score and continuing to roll with a Jennings three-shot. Outland scored, and suddenly Prep was ahead only 46-43.

Gardner, a junior, is one of the old-timers on Washington’s young team, which graduated eight seniors last spring. A freshman sensation two years ago and a team captain now, she took over the point guard role in the fourth quarter that has been rotating between her and two other players this season. Gardner initiated drives and made two of her assists in this period.

Gipson, a senior, was on fire last night, and she also let loose with some pretty shots as the clock wound down.

Sophomore Gray was part of Prep’s JV City Championship team last year, but she looks like she’s been on varsity all her life. With less than three minutes to go, Gardner dished the ball to her while Gray was standing with her right side facing the basket. No matter, as Gray flung up a sideways shot that went in cleanly.

Some fouls on the Generals in the last two minutes whittled their lead down to 3, 55-52, after the Knights hit their free shots. Outland had a chance to cut it to a one-posession game with less than 30 seconds to go, but she missed the shot, forcing the Knights to foul Gipson at 14.5 seconds. Gipson made one foul shot, but on the inbounds Lynwood had only enough time to get one pass off before the final buzzer sounded.

Outland finished with 18 points, and Jennings had 12. I was impressed with both players – especially their excellent outside shooting acumen. I wish I knew how many three’s each had, but the coaches for both teams have been slow to put up stats on Super Bowl Sunday. I did talk to one assistant tonight, though, that said both players are getting looked at by some D1 schools. Good deal.

Gipson had 18 points for Washington, Gray had 16 points and 10 rebounds (she gets a double-double in at least one and often both of their weekly games now), and Gardner had 13 points, seven steals, three assists, five rebounds and one block. Kiana Furlow added seven points.

The Gardner and Gray show continues to impress. Both players are extremely aggressive and decisive in their play. I wrote in my notes at one point in the fourth that “Gray seems to be the only one who really knows how to take a pass from Gardner.” Because Gardner’s passes are always bullet passes; she’s not soft in anything she does in the game. And Gray’s hands are always ready. You hear the “plunk” of the ball in her grip and you know it’s about to go up toward the rim in a way that matches the pass. Gray is turning into a monster.

Lynwood, now 11-7, is tops in the San Gabriel Valley League of the Southern Section, so to get to state they’ll face stiff competition. Prep, at 19-3, is first in the City Section Marine League, and after they most likely take the league title, they’ll have to face some sharks like Chatsworth – the favorite to win city.

We’ll see, because it’s still early. Prep is doing better right now than anyone thought they would, and they look like they’re starting to gel. End-of-February high school madness is still a long way off.

Seattle Storm waive……

Sheryl Swoopes?

http://www.wnba.com/transactions/WNBA_2009.html

Strange.

US Junior Nationals gearing up for spring and summer

This just in (via email:

2009 Event Schedule

Our 2009 USJN schedule is as follows:

April 17-19 Windy City Classic (Chicagoland, IL)
April 17-19 California Classic (Los Angeles, CA)
May 2-3 Gateway Challenge (St. Louis, MO)
May 16-17 Mid America Challenge (Normal, IL)
May 16-17 Steel City Challenge (Pittsburgh, PA)
May 23-24 Memorial Day Chalenge (Toledo, OH)
May 23-24 Big Apple Challenge (Northern NJ)
June 6-7 Battle at the Border (Kansas City, MO)
June 12-14 USJN’s Midwest National Championships (9U-13U) (Indy, IN)
June 19-21 Southern Showcase (Atlanta, GA)
June 26-28 Great America Showcase (Chicagoland, IL)
June 26-28 West Coast Showcase (Irvine, CA)
July 27-30 Hershey Showcase (Hershey Park, PA)
July 5-8 Premier Invitational – EAST (Hampton, VA)
July 5-8 Premier Invitational – MIDWEST (Cincinnati, OH)
July 9-11 Blue Star Select Tournament (Las Vegas, NV)
July 9-11 Vegas “Sweet 16” Invitational (Las Vegas, NV)
July 9-10 Midwest Challenge (Chicagoland, IL)
July 11-12 East Coast Challenge (Philadelphia, PA)
July 22-25 Nike 17U National Championships (Washington, DC)
July 25-27 15-12U National Championships (Washington, DC)
July 25-27 Mountain Madness (Denver, CO)
July 25-27 Summer Final – MIDWEST (Chicagoland, IL)
July 28-30 Blue Star’s Elite Invitational (Augusta, GA)
July 30-31 Summer Final – EAST (Philadelphia, PA)

Event locations are still being finalized, according to Chris Menning of Bluestar Basketball.

More info about the organization:

US Junior Nationals / Blue Star Basketball

US Junior Nationals has the track record of providing some of the best competition in the country & providing the opportunity to compete in front of college coaches & national evaluators. Please be aware that there are many oranizations out there trying to replicate/market using our good name. Please be careful and know that the only place you will find USJN events is at www.usjn.com

The Blue Star Invitational Camps & US Junior Nationals were started in 1981 with the singular purpose of giving girls basketball players an opportunity to compete against the nation’s best players, in first class settings, in front of college coaches during the NCAA observation periods. In Late 90’s, to reflect the changes to the NCAA Observation Calendar, we have revised our event schedule to include the Blue Star College Showcases to recognize the importance of spring/summer/fall exposure and competition in front of college coaches. Blue Star has the largest database of college women’s basketball coaches in the country for all levels D1/D2/D3/NAIA/JC allowing us to be the ‘bridge’ between prospects/teams and college recruiters.

Thank you again for your continued support of USJN. We look forward to you enjoying the familiarity of our tournament experience. If you have any questions or comments, please contact the main office at 215-245-9080 or email at office@usjn.com. Please go to the specific event pages to find prices, locations, schedules, hotel specials, etc.

Thanks. We look forward to seeing you at this year’s USJN/Blue Star Basketball Events!

If I was rich and idle, I’d make these tournaments my excuse for a good road trip.

Finally, the Rutgers freshmen speak

April Sykes, Brooklyn Pope, Nikki Speed and Chelsey Lee share what it’s been like adjusting to a big-time D1 program from high school – including, “I could still be on the beach. You know that, right?”

http://www.app.com/article/CN/20090129/SPORTS0203/901290379/1002/SPORTS

On the verge of “a cool grand,” Summitt reflects

It’s always nice to read about Coach Pat Summitt, but some stories are especially excellent, like the one from rivals.com. Check this:

“It’s an amazing number, is it?” she said.

The thing she recalled most vividly about that first loss was calling her father, Richard, after the game.

She was 22 years old and uncertain about this coaching thing. He was a Tennessee dairy farmer who didn’t take kindly to losing.

“He was a very stern, very competitive man,” Summitt said Tuesday from her office. “I was scared to call home. Mom answered and she never even asked about the game. She probably forgot we were playing.

“I said, ‘Mom, is Dad there?’

“He picked up the phone and said, ‘All right.’ I never heard him say hello. He said, ‘Did you win?’

“ ‘No sir.’

“There was a long pause. I mean a looong pause. I was nervous. And finally he said, ‘Well, you need to learn one thing. You don’t take a donkey to the Kentucky Derby.’ ”

She laughed at the retelling.

“He was telling me you better get yourself some players,” she said. “And let me tell you something; he was right about that.”

Summitt, 56, said she never has been much for numbers or records or things like that. She likes NCAA championships, and the record eight she’s won at UT through the years is the ultimate goal.

She’s more concerned with getting the most out of her current team, which after consecutive NCAA titles is young and, by UT standards, rebuilding. The Lady Vols are 16-4.

“I was joking with [the team that] I just hope we get [the 1,000th victory] this year,” Summitt laughed.

One more victory will happen, and even for someone unconcerned about career numbers, Summitt can’t brush off the magnitude of a cool grand.

She said she’s spent more time in recent weeks looking at the pictures of all her All-Americans and the 18 NCAA Final Four teams and even some of the less decorated athletes that fought so hard for her.

“I think about all the players who wore the orange uniform and made a commitment to winning,” she said.

She’s spent 35 years bringing the best recruits from across the country to the edge of the Smoky Mountains, and that’s the key to all these victories. She never had a team full of donkeys, she said.

Link: http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/womens-basketball/news;_ylt=Asx0tLlrzEtfhOkC_53T.yhMvrYF?slug=dw-summitt012909&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

Kay Yow speaks at her own funeral

Just watch these two videos in their entirety:

http://www.wral.com/news/local/video/4439265/

The first is a video Yow made several weeks ago for the purposes of being read at her own funeral. In it, she describes the importance of Christianity in her life, and reads a poem she wrote that was inspired by her faith.

Equally moving is the video immediately following – a tribute to Yow that includes lots of footage from times past. It reminds us all of the place she had in building up the women’s game to where it is today, and how strong she was throughout her battle with cancer; truly inspirational.

Great piece in today’s Charlotte Observer:

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/college_hoops/story/507840.html

May Coach Yow’s legacy live on.

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