Monday, February 18, 2019
Page 787

Tennessee-related news

Pat Summitt can add “Girl Scout” to her long resume:

Candace Parker is having a great pregnancy:

Follow Nikki Caldwell and Holly Warlick’s motorcycle ride for breast cancer awareness on Twitter:

Girl Scouts honor Warlick as a “woman of achievement”:

Lauren Jackson: you’re a jerk

Probable one-hit wonders the New Boyz are likely to see that song be their current hit “You’re a Jerk.” Though it’s thin on lyrics it’s large on beat and hook, and I like the tune.

But this past week, when I hear it I think of Australian Lauren Jackson at some point during the chorus. That’s because the 6-foot-5 center continues to string fans along, even 19 days before WNBA camp begins, as to what team she’ll sign with.

Back in January Jackson, who has played all eight of her WNBA seasons with the Seattle Storm, announced that she was unsure whether or not she’d play for the league this summer. With the big money she’s been getting in Russia this winter, and the fact that her home country WNBL will move to a summer schedule in a few years, Jackson didn’t know if she was interested in American pro ball anymore.

In March, Jackson told an Australian radio station that she would indeed play in the WNBA this summer, and was looking at both the Storm and the Phoenix Mercury. There were people like myself, who are big on loyalty, who didn’t understand how she would even consider another team. There were others who said Jackson is entitled to make the right business decisions for herself (which is correct) and screw loyalty.

Regardless of how one feels about that old-fashioned sentiment loyalty, Jackson needs to get off her butt right now and pick a team. It’s not fair to fans of either the Storm or the Mercury to keep them wondering this close to the beginning of the season – especially Storm fans. She owes the big-hearted fans of that team some closure and a “thank you” if she leaves, at the very very least.

Yes, players are agents and yes, they shuffle from team to team. But that doesn’t stop fans from getting incredibly attached to their favorites. And Jackson has been the cornerstone of the Storm franchise for almost a decade.

She came to the team in 2001, barely 20, skinny and still slightly awkward. She hadn’t turned into Lauren Jackson yet. But Storm fans stuck with her, cheered her, lavished praise and adoration on her, and watched her grow up before their eyes. Time and time again after a game, Jackson would take the mic and thank “the best fans in the WNBA” for their screaming, which makes Key Arena in Seattle a dreaded place to play for any opponent. Point guard Sue Bird and Jackson are the faces of the Storm.

If this is no longer to be the case, Storm fans deserve more time to start taking it in and figuring out what their team’s identity will be now, after all this time. And Jackson owes them that instead of causing them anxiety because she’s choosing to play the star.

Lauren Jackson, you’re a big-time international player, but that doesn’t give you license to treat your fans like crap. Be a woman, step up and choose a team. Now.

Don’t be a jerk.

Anne Donovan joins the Liberty

NEW YORK — Anne Donovan is back in the WNBA.

After leading the U.S. women to a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics, Donovan has been hired as an assistant coach with the New York Liberty.

Donovan was 112-100 as a WNBA head coach with Charlotte and Seattle. She stepped down as the Storm’s coach and director of player personnel after the 2007 season. Donovan was 93-77 in five seasons with the Storm, leading them to the league championship in 2004.

“I am thrilled to have somebody of Anne’s caliber join our staff. She has shown success over the years as a player, as a coach,” Liberty president and general manager Carol Blazejowski said in a conference call Tuesday. “She is someone who can teach, someone who knows how to win, can motivate folks to play at their optimal level.”



Is head Coach Patty Coyle headed out the door after this season? It happened with Lin Dunn at Indiana, and she sucks. Donovan isn’t that bad.

LA City Section almost “in the 21st Century” with Saturday practices

City Section on verge of approving Saturday practices

The City Section is considering a proposal to allow Saturday practices, something long overdue. The Southern Section has allowed Saturday practices for years.

A vote could come in June at the City Interscholastic Athletic Committee if several concerns are addressed. Some coaches have complained that teams would be put at a disadvantage because of transportation issues. But allowing practices on Saturday would let the City Section enter the 21st Century.

Football teams show up on Saturdays to go over video. Cross-country and track athletes are always running on Saturdays.

— Eric Sondheimer


Collison all-star game

Still waiting on the lame rags around Los Angeles to provide a game report and a box score from yesterday’s girl’s all-star game at El Camino Community College. Of course the LA Times has only the boy’s game, and the LA Sentinel is a weekly, so they don’t have anything yet. But I heard city got routed by 50 (!!)

Given the Southern Section roster, I suppose that wouldn’t be out of the question:

Cooper confirms he’s talking to USC

No surprises:,0,7806800.story?track=rss

You gotta love co-owner Carla Christofferson’s bluntness….she’s a lawyer, ya know:

Upon Cooper’s hiring in 2007, Sparks’ co-owner Carla Christofferson told The Times he had a one-year contract that included an option for two more seasons. Cooper has said the contract includes an opt-out clause. Cooper walked away from an interview before being asked those details. But Christofferson told The Times earlier this month, “There’s not anything that will allow him out during the season.”

So everyone on the Trojan team is happy except, allegedly, the recruits? Interesting.

Sparks: bumped and screwed

Sparks fans got an email yesterday notifying us of dates changes for two games: the July 17 home game was rescheduled to Aug. 19, and the Aug. 9 game was moved to Aug. 10. Apparently the first date was changed because promoters are anticipating Beyonce will sell out her July 13 concert and need a second date. The second game was bumped for the boy group the Jonas Brothers.

The change means that the Sparks will only have ONE home game the month of July, and that fans won’t get to see the team for an entire month. The team will have four home games for June and July, and 10 in August:

Though the schedule hasn’t been this imbalanced ever, in my memory, the rescheduling has happened before. In 2006 the Sparks’ PLAYOFF game was moved to Anaheim so they could have some circus at Staples Center. The rationale is that the concert/other events make more money, so they have to reschedule the event (Sparks game) that makes less. People jump on that one because money always wins, but I question the scheduling.

If you look at the Staples Center schedule, it’s pretty wide open:

Why don’t they hold their ground, and if an act wants to schedule on a date that the WNBA already has, make the act move? It would only be a day off from what they wanted.

Of course, I already know the answer: people don’t want to stand up for women’s basketball. In some circles it’s still cool to trash female ballers, and especially the WNBA.

I’m trying to look on the bright side: I can go on trips in July, and Candace Parker will be even stronger on the court in August than she would be earlier.

But it’s still wrong to bump a team like that.

Chamique Holdsclaw speaks

Amazing piece by writer Maria M. Cornelius on former Lady Vol and new Atlanta Dream centerpiece player Chamique Holdsclaw, whose return to the game is highly anticipated:

Critical part:

Holdsclaw took a leave of absence from the Mystics in July of 2004 and was immediately the target of rumors as to why she had left the team. She made few public remarks, tried to slip away from the public’s scrutiny and sunk into a deep depression that had been building over time.

“At first I was embarrassed,” Holdsclaw said. “When I left the team, now that I look back, I wish I had been upfront about what happened, just came out and said it, but I was embarrassed and I kind of just retreated. I didn’t know how to handle it. I didn’t want anyone to think I wasn’t OK because us athletes we’re so strong and we can handle anything, you know? It’s something people can’t see.

“The criticism and the things that you hear that was probably the hardest part for me. I’m from New York so I’ve heard a lot of trash talking and people criticizing folks – that’s just the way I grew up – but when you’re going through something so sensitive and so personal it really hit me to hear people say, ‘Oh my God, she’s bipolar, she’s this and she’s that.’ In some instances these were people who had never met me. People were just judging and being judgmental. That was really tough for me.”

Holdsclaw later openly talked about her clinical depression in media interviews. She spoke about it as a public service and made a video with medical writer Jeanne Blake for Words Can Work, an online resource guide for adults and children dealing with depression and other medical issues. An excerpt of Holdsclaw’s video can be viewed at: Words Can Work. Summitt also made an appearance on Holdsclaw’s behalf.

I remember that time, and subsequent times after that, where those on rebkell and other message boards publicly speculated – and ridiculed – Holdsclaw for her depression. I don’t know why clinical depression was so misunderstood in the first place, and I’m glad it’s become so much less stigmatized than it was 20 years ago when anti-depressants became widely available. But people still make light of the condition and make fun of it. More education clearly needs to take place, and stories like Cornelius’ can help.

Other great things about this piece: the anecdotes about Pat Summitt and Niya Butts. I love to hear what’s on players’ minds.

Warlick, Caldwell hitting the road again to fight breast cancer

Infamous D1 coaches Holly Warlick (Tennessee) and Nikki Caldwell (UCLA) again join forces next weekend on a 1500-mile ride to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer and research:


What a great way to take some time off after the season.

Great news from HD Woodson High School in DC

Jeniece Johnson and Bernisha Pinkett found a new home after decommitting to North Carolina State University – they are Kentucky Wildcats:

“I am so proud of the girls! Hard work pays off and anything is possible through faith!!!” Coach Frank Oliver told me.

Oliver is also proud of his point guard, Ronika Ransford, who is mentioned in this story from the ESPNhoopgurlz site:

Last fall I interviewed Oliver and some of his players via telephone. Oliver had enough enthusiasm in his voice to go all the way across the country to me in Los Angeles, and back again. I could see why his players love him.

Though the team was dealt a setback when Johnson was ruled ineligible to play a fifth year, and didn’t finish as many thought they would, the team continues to produce solid players. Since Oliver works at the middle school that feeds into Woodson, I’m confident this tradition will continue.

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