Saturday, May 31, 2008

Jambi the Genie Says....

Los Angeles @ Washington. Mystics fans grumble at the attention that the media plays Candace Parker. They'll have more reason to grumble. Sparks 72, Mystics 59. (LA by 7: take the over)
Detroit @ Indiana. The more interesting game. Katie Douglas is on a roll, scoring 25. Fever 70, Shock 60. (Fever by 4 1/2. Take the over.)
Phoenix @ Minnesota. The Mercury will break eighty. But they will lose. Lynx 103, Mercury 86. (Lynx by 3 - Take the over.)

Betting lines by Bodog. Game results from Daily Matchup game simulator.

It Happened Elsewhere!

Sun 89, Liberty 84. Not as close as the boxscore looks. The Sun (4-1) led 82-70 with five minutes remaining, but the Liberty (1-3) came charging right back, pulling to within 4 points. Erin Thorn would miss a jumper and a three-pointer in the final nine seconds, and Tamika Whitmore would be given the ball for two free throws, making one of the two and scoring the final Sun point. (Coach Mike Thibault would call the Sun's turnovers "dumbass turnovers".) Whitmore scored 18 points against a New York defense that double teamed her.

Essence Carson scored 15 points to lead the Liberty. The two teams will only meet one more time the rest of the regular season. Some New York fans are already shouting "Fire Patty" on message boards. (Patty Coyle is the Liberty head coach.)

Storm 78, Silver Stars 57. The Storm (4-1) scored the first fourteen points of the game and never looked back. Lauren Jackson scored the first ten points on the way to finishing with 28. The Silver Stars missed their first 15 shots of the night and didn't score a field goal until half a minute was left in the first quarter.

The Storm snapped a six-game losing streak against the Silver Stars (2-2, who shot only 28 percent from the floor. Furthermore, the Storm's 4-1 start ties the 2005 Storm for the best start in franchise history. Center Ruth Riley of the Silver Stars was out with a sprained ankle.

Monarchs 73, Comets 66. Sacramento (2-3) never trailed during the entire game. The Comets (0-4) shot 29 percent. Still, Erica White of the Comets pulled the score to 61-61 in the fourth quarter with 4:44 remaining before the Monarchs started a 10-0 run that ended any chance of a Comets upset.

Nicole Powell, a rookie, led the Monarchs with 16 points.

(Jambi the Genie: 3-0 on the year. Mekka Lekka Hi!)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Jambi The Genie Says....

New York @ Connecticut. Home team advantage proves to be decisive. Sun 79, Liberty 77.
Houston @ Sacramento. The Comets still can't buy a win. Monarchs 65, Comets 54.
San Antonio @ Seattle. Sue Bird picks up eight assists. Storm 89, Silver Stars 81.

* Using the first result of the Daily Matchup game simulator.

DeSousa Out for Four Weeks

Erika DeSousa is going to be out for for a minimum of four weeks due to a lower leg fracture. The injury won't require surgery (thank goodness) but it really weakens the Dream in the rebounding category.

This stinx.

It Happened Elsewhere!

Fever 82, Sparks 78 (2 OT). Whoa. The first two overtime game this year is a big win for the Fever (3-1), who have just knocked the Sparks (2-1)off the top of the hill and positioned themselves as the team to beat. The Fever led 37-22 at halftime but almost let it get away from them. Indiana held off the Sparks' Candace Parker, who scored six points in the final minute of the second overtime. Parker scored a rarity, scoring at least 5 points, rebounds, blocks, assists AND steals. (16 pts, 16 reb, 6 blk, 5 ast, 5 stl). She is the first WNBA player to ever do so. (Let's not mention her seven turnovers, BTW.)

For long stretches of the overtimes, Indiana guard Tan White was left unguarded, and she scored 11 of 20 points in the final period against the Sparks. Both teams combined for 27 blocked shots, a league record.

Lynx 75, Sky 69. The Lynx (3-0) remain the WNBA's sole undefeated team. Charde Houston of the Lynx scored 9 of her fifteen points in the fourth quarter to give the Lynx the win. The Sky (1-2) led 46-38 as late as the third quarter, but Chicago managed to tie the game at 66-66 with 1:42 to play. With the Lynx up 71-68, the Sky made a free throw but were forced to foul Semoine Augustus to get the ball back, and Augustus made both of her free throws.

Augustus had a career-high nine rebounds.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hollinger Ratings 5/28/2008

If I understand the Hollinger formula for power rankings used on ESPN, here are the current WNBA Hollinger ratings:

Fever 108.9143385
Mercury 105.4141186
Monarchs 104.7965052
Comets 104.6472284
Dream 104.2633827
Liberty 103.8731163
Lynx 103.68
Sky 100.736
Silver Stars 96.35721854
Mystics 96.2446723
Storm 95.8463705
Shock 95.7793955
Sun 94.86011921
Sparks 93.29448649

Why are the results so odd? Why are the Sparks at the bottom of the list?

Because with such a small sample size -- so few games have been played -- strength of schedule overwhelms the other mathematical factors. The Sparks have the most cushy schedule so far -- two wins against teams with a combined 0-7. The Hollinger ratings aren't impressed.

Whereas the Dream is given a fifth place ranking because it has played tough opponents. The Dream's opponents are a combined 11-3, and we've actually done well in spurts against them.

For Sparks and Sun fans, don't fret. After a few more games are played, we'll see the leagues powerhouses rise to the top and the bottom feeders in their expected places.

It Happened Elsewhere!

Indiana 73, Connecticut 46. The Katie Douglas Show, starring Katie Douglas, with Special Guest Star Katie Douglas. Douglas scored 23 and led the Fever (2-1) against her old team in the most lopsided loss in Sun history. The Sun (3-1) shot 29 percent from the field, and blew their undefeated season. At least the Sun fans were polite before Indiana kicked the Sun to the curb. Lindsey Whalen was the only Sun in double figures, with 11. I'm sure all the talk about Connecticut winning the Eastern Division has been stilled, if only for a while.

Minnesota 98, Houston 92 (OT). The Lynx (2-0) were down by 12 with five minutes to go. This is a lesson for basketball fans -- don't leave early. High scorer Seimone Augustus for the Lynx scored with 26.8 seconds to tie the game and send it into overtime. Is this 2007 Part 2 for the Comets, who opened 0-10 to start the 2007 season? Minnesota started overtime with a basket from Candace Wiggins and the Lynx never looked back.

2008/4 - Mystics 80, Dream 74

This was another tough loss for the Dream, who are now 0-4 to start the season. It was very much a reminder of the game against the Shock -- the Dream led by eight after the first quarter, led by six going into halftime but could simply not hang on to the lead. What was really sad was that this might have been one of our best chances to get our first win.

The Good

1) Betty Lennox scored 29 points, finally having a good night. She was Tuesday night's WNBA scoring leader.

2) The "Brazilian Connection" of Erika DeSouza and Iziane "Izi" Castro Marques combined for 23 points. Marques made a shot in the fourth quarter that managed to close the Mystics lead to one, 71-70.

3) The Dream scored 20 points off 16 Washington turnovers. The Dream stole the ball 11 times to the Mystics' 2.

4) Ivory Latta finally woke up and scored, going 4-9 with 10 total points.

The Bad

1) Alana Beard couldn't be stopped. She scored seven of the final nine points for Washington.

2) The Dream were outrebounded 41-20. Ugh. The Dream, in particular, only had three offensive rebounds.

3) DeSouza had some sort of ankle injury. When she left to take care of it, she did not return to the game.

4) "All the wins aren't going to be pretty and at the end of the season they don't say one good win, one bad win. We'll take them all, blind, crippled, limping, ugly, beautiful. We'll take anything here." -- Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Mystics.

The Dream would take one of those wins. Seriously.

The Ugly

According to Washington fans, the Mystics radio announcer left the mike, claiming that he had to go to the bathroom.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

No Love for the Dream

ESPN's latest WNBA Power Rankings are out, and there will be no love for the Dream, ranked #14 out of #14:

"The Dream's shooting percentage is anything but. Atlanta is shooting a league-worst 34.7 percent, including Sunday's 29 percent accuracy (21 of 72) against Los Angeles. The Dream, who are shooting 18 percent from downtown, hit just two field goals in the entire second quarter."

Well, the Mystics are ranked #12, with a league low 60.7 PPG. If there's a chance of getting a win, it's tonight.

Nightly News

Who would have thought so much would happen overnight? Some of the big stories:

1. Amber Jacobs will be playing tonight at point guard for the Mystics when the Dream come to visit. The Washington post states that she hasn't been that comfortable at point guard, forcing passes and never being at ease. If the Dream have a chance to steal a win, it's with Jacobs. Of course, the Mystics could just put Beard right back in.

2. It looks like Chantelle Anderson has just been waived by the Dream.

Rumor has it that Anderson tore her ACL while playing for Turkey. It was thought that she'd recover and come back for the Dream. Guess not. So we lose her height and it looks like Katie Feenstra and Erika DeSouza will be sharing center duties for the Dream.

3. Bernadette Ngoyisa was acquired from the Chicago Sky to the Indiana Fever some time last night. Ngoyisa will be playing in tonight's Indiana/Connecticut matchup as the Fever try to keep the Sun from going 4-0.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Player Profile: Iziane Castro Marques

Name: Iziane Castro Marques
Born: March 13, 1982 (26)
Place of Birth: Sao Luis, Maranhao, Brazil
Height: 6-0 (1.83 m)
Weight: 140 (63.5 kg)

Colleges: None.

Years Pro: 5

Position: Guard/Small Forward

Kudos: 1) Led Paulista League in Brazil in scoring -- at the age of 19
2) Represented Brazil in the 2004 Olympics. The Brazil team finished fourth, with Castro Marques scoring 15 points per game -- second on the Brazil team.

Nickname: Izi

Profile: Castro Marques has been a professional player since the age of 15. After growing up in Sao Luis (near the Amazon), "Izi" moved to Sao Paulo to join the Osasco team and played with them from 1997 to 2001. She would play in Spain for three months, until she was signed to play with the Miami Sol in the 2002 WNBA season.

She left to play for Aix-en-Provence for the offseason, and in 2003, she would play for the Phoenix Mercury. During the offseason, she would continue to perfect her game with European teams in Spain.

Supposedly, Castro Marques had trouble understanding the WNBA game because of the language barrier. When Claudia Neves was also signed by the Sol, Castro Marques finally had a teammate with which she could speak Portuguese.

After playing for the Mercury, Castro Marques would play with the Storm for three years. Seattle figured that Castro Marques would ask for the maximum salary in 2009 and Castro Marques was traded to Atlanta along with the #8 pick in the draft in exchange for the #4 pick and 5-11 guard Roneeka Hodges.

The big deal was that both Castro Marques and Erika DeSousa decided to play this season rather than stay with the Brazilian National Team. She'll probably miss some time during the pre-Olympic qualifying tournament. At least, Castro Marques will have DeSouza to speak her native tongue, and Betty Lennox will be an old Storm teammate also on the Dream roster.

There really isn't much that can be found out about "Izi" on the internet. Izi didn't have a college career in the States, and I'm sure most of the background articles about her are in Portuguese. However, we'll definitely be extending her a warm Atlanta welcome!

It Happened Elsewhere!

Mystics 69, Comets 66. This is one of those games that makes you wish you had NBA TV. Coco Miller's steal with about 29 seconds left put the Mystics up for good in a game that started out slow for Washington (who didn't score until four minutes into the first quarter), but quickly tightened up all the way down to the final seconds. The Mystics (1-2) have won four of their last five against the Comets (0-2) and will take on the Dream at home on Tuesday.

Bad news for the Mystics - starting guard Nikki Blue limped off the court with an ankle injury and didn't return.

Shock 72, Liberty 62. It wasn't an impressive replay of last year's Eastern conference finals -- the Liberty only shot 30 percent from the field and the game wasn't close. The third quarter for New York was particularly ugly, with the Shock holding Liberty scoring to a grand total of one point in the first 7:20 of the third quarter. The Liberty finally woke up in the fourth quarter with a 23-4 rally but it was too late for the New Yorkers. Plenette Pierson scored 25 points for the Shock.

The Shock move up to 4-1 on the season, right behind the Sun in the Eastern Conference. The Liberty drop to 1-2.

2008/3 - Sparks 74, Dream 56

The Dream saw this a lot on Sunday.

Well, there were some good points and some bad points as LA came off an eight day layoff and into Atlanta.

The Good

1) The vaunted Candace Parker didn't get another 30+ point game. Not only that, but this wasn't another 33-point blowout, despite the fact that the Sparks are supposedly the team to beat this year.

2) The Dream actually won another half! Last week, they won the first half against the Shock, but didn't know how to hold on to it. This time, they won the back half by two points -- 35-33 -- and prevented the Sparks from running away with it.

The Bad

1) The Sparks pretty much lead from the opening tipoff.

2) The Dream shot 29 percent from the field. This is one of those weekends when the naysayers pop up and say "I told you so -- girls can't shoot!" Well, at least, the Dream can't shoot. They scored a grand total of six points in the second quarter.

3) The Incredible Shrinking Ivory Latta. It was an 0-8 game for Ivory. She is 2-24 in shooting overall this year. That is an 8 percent shooting percentage, and I'm beginning to suspect that Ivory is going to be like me, watching a lot of games from a comfortable seat.

3) Betty Lennox. 1 for 10. I thought you were called "B-Money"! Four points total for Betty.

4) There were a lot of people at Phillips wearing orange. Tennessee fans. Cheering for the #$%#$% Sparks!

5) Supposedly, the height of the Sparks took a lot of shots away from the Dream. Which begs the question, "then why try to make bad shots?"

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Ultimate Dream Fans?

This article from the New York Times is about fans who travel very long distances to see...WNBA games? Really?

And I thought I was a fan!

The Becky Hammon Brouhaha

Was this a patch on the soldiers' uniforms in "Red Dawn"?

During the halftime of the recent Storm/Silver Stars game on ABC, the discussion regarded Becky Hammon of the Silver Spurs and her decision to play for the Russian women's basketball team.

I'll give you a run down of the event.

1. Hammon has been pretty much overlooked by USA basketball.
2. Then, in the summer of 2007, she was overlooked yet again. Her name wasn't even on the list of players from which the USA Women's Basketball team would be chosen.
3. Hammon, looking for offseason work, signs with CSKA Moscow. Russian League rules allow players to be fast-tracked for Russian citizenship if they have never played in a FIBA-sanctioned event.
4. Hammon then gets another invitation to try out for the US team. The invitation is timed one week before CSKA Moscow training and one month before the Russian League season starts.
5. Her agent asks USA Basketball if Hammon is seriously being considered. His impression? It's an inviation given out of politeness more than anything.

Therefore, Hammon doesn't bother to attend. She is fast-tracked for a Russian citizenship and receives a Russian passport. Hammon then becomes eligible to play for the Russian women's team, and a small amount of hell breaks loose in USA women's basketball.

I'll make my points in followup:

1. If Becky weren't talented, no one would care. It would be like when a bunch of rink rats from New York go and represent the Italian ice hockey team. There would be a chuckle and even a few "good for yous". It's Becky's talent that's the problem.
2. If Becky joined the Russian team, and the Russians won the gold medal, USA Basketball would face a lot of embarrassment. The question, "why didn't you sign Hammon?" would be asked long and hard. Why would you not sign the runner up for MVP voting in the WNBA in 2007?
3. USA Basketball has pretty much made it clear that they don't want Becky. But I never saw a rule that said, "we don't want you, and if you don't play with us you can't play with anybody else."
4. The entire concept that the Olypics are some sort of bastion of national pride or are a pure example of the spirit of competition is just laughable. It was laughable when the USA recruited its first Men's Basketball "Dream Team", with a bunch of multi-millionaires living outside of the Olympic Village. It was a joke when the USA Women won a gold medal in 2004 with a crapload of pros, winning their first three games by an average of 31 points. (Remember the days when if you ever played for pay, you were disqualified?)
5. One problem with women's basketball is that in the United States, it's a small pond. Decisions aren't made on the level of "who is the best player?" but more on the level of "who was my best friend in college?" and "do I have a pal that needs a job?"

I'm sure that when the Olympics roll around, we'll hear a lot of ex-jock sports reporter expound from Mount Olympus on "Why Becky Hammon is Wrong". I'll bet money that these are the same reporters who have treated the WNBA with nothing but contempt for years. Oh well, at least they'll be talking about the WNBA, good or bad.

Becky Hammon didn't turn her back on the United States. The United States turned its back on Becky Hammon.

It Happened Elsewhere!

Silver Stars 87, Storm 72. The Storm's 3-0 record before the game had a glaring weakness -- all three wins were from come-from-behind victories. When facing the Silver Stars in San Antonio, the Stars shot almost fifty percent from the field. They led 30-17 after the first quarter and never let the Storm get back into the game -- the closest they got was 50-47.

Four members of the Silver Stars had double figures. Sophia Young scored 23 points and Becky Hammon scored 20 for San Antonio. But the major contribution came in the fourth quarter from Young, who scored eight of her ten fourth quarter points in the last five minutes of the game.

Results? The Silver Stars go to 2-1 on the year. Seattle drops its sixth straight to San Antonio.

Sun 87, Monarchs 64. Remember that Connecticut team that beat the crap out of Atlanta in the Dream's home opener? Well, that team is now 3-0.

Three point shots buried the Monarchs. They scored 42 of their 87 points from long range.

Oddly enough, the Monarchs were leading 26-17 after the first quarter. Then, the Sun put the defensive shackles on the Monarchs, and by halftime, the Monarchs were down by two, 39-37, and that was it for Sacramento. The Sun simply shut down Sacramento's ability to run the pick and roll.

The Monarchs are looking at their third straight road loss, each by at least ten points. At least they didn't turn the ball over 20 times -- just 19.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

2008/2 - Shock 88, Dream 76

Betty Lennox high-fives her teammates and a surprised mascot in the Dream home opener.

At first glance, the score might indicate, "standard veteran victory over a first-year expansion club"...until you realize that the score was tied up 65-65 in the fourth quarter.

I was forced to watch the game on CSS. My wife and I were out eating at the local Taco Max, which has about 120 televisions tuned to various sporting events. We asked that one of these screens be turned to the Dream/Shock home opener, and I might just as well have asked for a repeal of the second law of thermodynamics. Somehow, their supersatellite system couldn't find a WNBA game. I honestly suspect that the manager thought "who's going to watch a WNBA game when they can see Barry Zito take an 0-8 (or is it 0-9) record against the Marlins at a stadium which was apparently sold out by invisible patrons?"

Therefore, I was forced to start watching in mid-first quarter. At home, I would at least get a great seat, with Teresa Edwards providing crystal-clear commentary, providing the kind of insight I wished I could hear from NBA announcers.


1) Detroit came out like any Bill Laimbeer team, determined to physically punish the opposition. In particular, they came out to punish two ex-Shock players now on the Atlanta roster, Ivory Latta and Katie Feenstra. Feenstra would pick up two fouls early. Latta, however, remained unintimidated, pulling some Allan Iverson type moves, weaving through the crowd of defenders like a rabbit weaves through the underbrush. The problem was, Latta couldn't hit anything. She went 1 for 11 on the night.

2) In the second quarter, the Shock went cold. Futhermore, Feenstra took the bench and was replaced by Erika DeSouza, who had just gotten off the plane from Brazil on Monday. DeSouza immediately proceeded to dominate the boards, picking up some ridiculous number of rebounds, like 11 in 10 minutes. Betty Lennox was on her way to 17 first half points, DeSouza was picking up the ball and Detroit scored only 11 in the second quarter. At one time, the Dream held an 18 point lead, but the Shock whittled that lead down to 13 as Atlanta began to pressure their shots.

3) Laimbeer told the Shock that this was a nationally televised game and if they wanted to win it, they'd have to play defense. It seems that at this part of the game, Atlanta forgot the meaning of defense, and guards Deanna Nolan and Alexis Hornbuckle took over. There were many times when Nolan and Hornbuckle went unguarded at the 3-point line, and as Atlanta's defense collapsed towards the basket, the Shock made several easy shots. The Shock racked up 31 points in the third quarter, and the game was now tied at 63-63.

4) More of the same. At one point, the game was 65-65, but that didn't last. At one point, the Shock had a 72-70 lead....then scored 13 unanswered points over 3 1/2 minutes of play.

The Dream had a miserable 21 percent shooting percentage from the field in the second half. Betty Lennox, who scored 17 in the first half, only scored seven points in the second. The Shock would win by 12 at the end, joking at the bench and looking pretty much in command.


1) Most of Lennox's points were from free throws -- 9 of 12. Detroit is a team that doesn't mind giving up foul shots, because they're confident they can win. Lennox won't get those foul shots against more careful teams.

2) Ivory Latta in 2007: 3.0 PPG, 7.1 MPG. Ivory Latta in 2008: 5.0 PPG, 20.0 MPG.

3) Deanna Nolan racked up 33 points against the Dream. If she hadn't hurt her arm in the fourth quarter, it might have been worse.

4) The Dream were forcing shots in the third and fourth quarters. An ugly statistic was that the Dream had seven assists in the entire game compared to the Shock's 18.

5) Erika DeSouza was just fantastic. She was clearly the MVP on the court last night.

6) One more night of sub-40 percent shooting from the field.

7) The Dream looked good in the first half, and horrible in the second. On Sunday, they get to play the Sparks. Well, all I can say is at least they're getting the tough games out of the way. I really wished the Dream could have won, though.

8) According to a commenter on the AJC, the Dream cheerleaders weren't allowed to use the air cannon to fling T-shirts into the stands. Why? Because they kept pointing it at Laimbeer and Mahorn on the Shock bench.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Player Profile: Katie Feenstra

Name: Katie Feenstra
Born: November 17, 1982 (25)
Place of Birth: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Height: 6-8 (2.03 m)
Weight: 240 (108.9 kg)

High School: Grand Rapids Baptist High School, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Colleges: Liberty

Years Pro: 3

Position: Center

1) Scored 46 points in a game in high school
2) Missed the first 14 games of her college career due to a dislocated knee.
3) Big South all-time leader in blocked shots
4) One of only two players in NCAA history to lead the nation in field goal percentage in two consecutive seasons (2004-05) at Liberty.
5) First player in Big South history to be named Player of the Year three times.
6) Only player in the country to lead her conference in points, rebounds, blocks and field goal percentage as a senior.
7) Got to play alongside her sister, Maribeth Anderson, at Liberty.
8) Member of the 2007 USA Women's Basketball Team

Nickname: Kit, after the character from "A League of Their Own".

Profile: As they say in Wikipeida, Katherine Ruth Feenstra is one of the tallest players in WNBA history. She's in a tie for second tallest player ever (Zheng Haixia is the tallest ever) and she's the current active tallest player. She comes by her height honestly, the child of a 7-0 father and a 6-4 mother.

Most likely, however, Feenstra took more abuse because of her height than her religion. She was a foot taller than the other girls, and the abuse would rain down from the rafters whenever her high school played road cames.

Feenstra, however, toughed it out. At the end of her high school career, she wanted to go to a college where others shared her strong Christian beliefs. Despite big-name women's basketball programs knocking on the door, this left only places like Oral Roberts or Liberty.

Feenstra chose Liberty, where she majored in physical education. After her successful career at Liberty -- where the Flames actually made it to a Sweet Sixteen berth -- Feenstra plans on teaching and coaching.

After Liberty, Feenstra ended up with the Silver Stars, managing 8.8 points a game. One of the toughest adjustments for the somewhat sheltered Feenstra (in her words) was the fact that there are open lesbians in the WNBA. Rather than making a scene, Feenstra simply learned to deal with it and as far as we know, Feenstra's beliefs don't disrupt team chemistry. However, living in San Antonio gave her a chance to share both church attendance and faith with NBA player David Robinson.

Size, of course, brings its advantages and disadvantages. Feenstra wears a size 17 men's sneaker, so finding shoes that fit must be a chore. What's worse, Feenstra has been stalked, and more than once. I found some of the biographical info for this entry on a page for "amazons", written by someone who apparently had a fetish for tall women. (Author's note: Stalking is NOT COOL. If you don't know that, go back to kindergarden and/or get different parents to teach you.)

One interesting tidbit: Feenstra eats a mint before stepping out on court. Thank goodness that Feenstra hasn't been showered with mints tossed from the stands - although if I ever get to meet her, I might hand her one with a "good luck".

A worrisome fact is that Feenstra's minutes seem to increase with bad teams and decrease with better ones. Furthermore, she might be top ten in field goal percentage, but she's also top ten in turnovers. If Feenstra can hang on to the orange-and-white ball, this might be a good opening season for the Dream.

It Happened Elsewhere!

Storm 87, Mercury 83. Awful. Awful. Awful. The Storm trailed by 20 in the first half, but the Mercury couldn't finish them off. Now, Phoenix is 0-3. Do coaches make that much of a difference in the WNBA? Or maybe (according to the article) it is the fact that most of the Mercury players missed training camp while playing overseas? All I know is that the probability of Phoenix repeating as WNBA champs might have taken a steep turn downwards.

Sky 87, Monarchs 77. Two reasons why this game ended differently for the Sky: a) Sylvia Fowles didn't foul out after 15 minutes, and b) the Sky shot 57 percent from the floor. Meanwhile, the Monarchs can't hang on to the orange-and-white ball - this is their second straight 20+ turnover game.

Liberty 79, Mystics 60. The Liberty pretty much had this game from the opening tip, with 11 offensive rebounds in the first half. McWilliams-Franklin was one of only two Mystics that scored over 10 points. Maybe she needs to introduce that vegan diet to the whole team.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Player Profile: Ivory Latta

Name: Ivory Latta
Born: September 24, 1984
Place of Birth: McConnells, South Carolina
Height: 5-6 (1.68 m) (but more likely 5-4, or 1.63 m)
Weight: 143 (64.9 kg)

High School: York Comprehensive High School (South Carolina)
Colleges: North Carolina

Years Pro: 2

Position: Point guard

Kudos: 1) Named the 2003 Morgan Wooten National Girls HS Basketball Player of the Year, an award given in conjunction with the McDonald's All-American Game.
2) January 10, 2003 was Ivory Latta Day in York, South Carolina.
3) Scored 70 points in a HS game. Had 50 or more points eight times in her senior year, averaged 44.6 points per game.
4) Homecoming Queen at York HS.
5) Two-time South Carolina Miss Basketball.
6) All-ACC Freshman Team in 2004
7) All-ACC First Team in 2005 and 2007
8) Whew. Pretty much the Everyone-and-her-grandmother's Player of the Year in 2006.
9) Her #12 is one of only two jersey numbers retired by the North Carolina Women's Team.
9) Drafted as a first round pick (#11) in 2007 by the Detroit Shock.

Nickname: Lacking one. The worst thing she's been called is "Latta Nothing".


Ivory Latta was born as a rather sickly child in McConnells, South Carolina, with a population of 312. After several long stays at a hospital in Rock Hill, Ivory's illness was finally diagnosed - asthma.

Like many asthma suffers in infancy, as her respiratory system got bigger, the asthma abated. Ivory said that "the more she ran, the better she felt" and she took up sports with a vengeance, including taking up basketball at the age of five.

However, since childhood her small size was a handicap. Taller players would routinely try to post up on her -- that is, turn their backs towards her, receive the ball and try to physically bump her out of position through incidental contact in the area close to the basket, like a truck backing up.

Latta preservered and was pretty much a superstar in Girls Basketball in South Carolina. She would graduate high school with a GPA of 3.9, and the outgoing and energetic Latta would be named Homecoming Queen.

Latta went to the University of North Carolina, where she majored in exercise and sport science. She was just as stellar at UNC as she was in high school. (She even made friends with Ludacris!) While at UNC, Latta brought her emotion and exuberance to her game, listening to a lot of music to get in the right state of mind.

Her greatest challenge was an injury that occurred in 2006 during a NCAA Final Four loss to Maryland, where she tore her lateral meniscus and required knee surgery. She rehabbed during the 2006-2007 off-season.

In 2007, she was drafted by the Detroit Shock, but she proved unable to crack the lineup despite being a #1 draft pick. Was it because she had limited mobility from the surgery (as some claim) or was it because the Shock were a well-disciplined championship squad that simply had no room for an extra player as a starter?

Latta went to Israel to play with Elizur Holon in the 2007-08 offseason. During the offseason, she was selected from the Shock by the Atlanta Dream in the WNBA Expansion Draft.

The sad part of the story is that since Latta has not played regularly, she hasn't had a chance to answer the naysayers, who claim either limited height, limited mobility, or both make Latta one of those players who were great in college but are role-players at best in the WNBA. Hopefully, time with the Atlanta Dream as a starter will give Dream fans (and WNBA followers) an answer one way or another.

The Meat of the Matter

Interesting blog from the Washington Post states that Nakia Sanford and Taj McWilliams-Franklin of the Mystics have decided to go vegan. I know that Prince Fielder of the Brewers has gone vegetarian, but the vegan espoused here is "Hard-Core Punk" according to the headline. This must be some sort of Class Five Vegan, where you don't eat anything that casts a shadow. In a league where 8 out of 13 teams made the playoffs last year, the Mystics need all the help they can get.

Also to Norman Chad: I regret to inform you that the Atlanta Dream home opener is now officially sold out. I know you don't want to hear about the WNBA, but it might be unavoidable. We apologize.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Player Profile: Betty Lennox

Name: Betty Lennox
Born: December 4, 1976 (age 32)
Place of Birth: Hugo, Oklahoma
Height: 5-8 (1.73 m) (but she's actually 5-6, or about 1.68 m)
Weight: 143 (64.9 kg)

High School: Fort Osage High School, Independence, Missouri
Colleges: Trinity Valley Community College
Louisiana Tech (graduated 2000)

Years Pro: 8

Position: Point guard

1) Trinity Valley won the Junior College National Championship in the 1996-97 season.
2) Was a first round draft pick in 2000 by the NBA, picked by the Minnesota Lynx at #6
3) Led the Seattle Storm to an NBA championship in 2004.
4) WNBA Finals MVP in 2004
5) Received a Community Assist award from the WNBA.
6) Founder of the Lennox Foundation, created to support neglected and abused children.

Nickname: B-Money -- this is an improvement over her college nickname of "Psycho". She's called "B-Money" due to her shooting percentage -- having her shoot is "money in the bank".


Betty "B-Money" Lennox comes by her name honestly -- growing up the eighth of nine children, she quickly learned the value of a dollar, having to load 30 to 40 pount bales into a truck at age 10 at four cents per bale. Knowing that her life offered no easy street, Lennox became hypercompetitive.

In high school, they were still playing a six-on-six game in girls' basketball. It was half-court ball, three on offense, and three on defense.

Moving to college, she had to learn how to play standard basketball. In college, she wasn't hesitant to mix it up with bigger players. She was known as a trash talker.

In the WNBA, she had a reputation for being uncoachable, as well as "streaky" and being a "ball hog". She's also been rather unfortunate, playing for two WNBA franchises that folded (Cleveland and Miami). However, she led the Storm to a WNBA championship in 2004. She is a self-proclaimed gym rat, which accounts for her buffed-up physique. She has tattoos, and says that she regrets getting them.

Lennox has worked for Habitat for Humanity, serving a full internship from 2006-2007 over the winter. In the early part of 2008, she played for a Russian team before joining the Storm.

2008/1 - Sun 100, Dream 67

Connecticut 100, Dream 67

Box score: from Yahoo! Sports

Some thoughts:

1) When two players on the opposing team outscore your top scorer, it can't be good. Tamika Whitmore dropped 22 and Asjhka Jones scored 18 for the Sun. The Dream's best scorer was Betty Lennox, who scored 17.

2) The Dream got canned in virtually every part of the game. Disturbing is the fact that they only shot 50 percent from the free-throw line. However, they did beat the Sun in steals, 7 to 5.

3) Lennox was on the court for 36 minutes. She scored 13.4 points per game for the Seattle Storm in 2007, and she played an average of 27 minutes per game. Furthermore, she played in all of the Storm's games. The key is to keep Betty "happy and healthy".

4) The Sun flattened the Dream on the boards. Connecticut had 53 rebounds, a team record.

5) It was the second time the Sun scored 100 points in a game.

6) In spite of the above, believe it or not, the Dream actually led 17-12 before the Sun put it away with a 26-6 run.

Hit the Pillows!

This is an attempt to blog the WNBA franchise known as the Atlanta Dream. It's the Dream's first season in Atlanta and it's my first attempt to blog about basketball in any way, shape, or form.

Put on your pajamas. Give the WNBA nightmares. The Dream is alive in Atlanta.