Friday, October 31, 2008
Sue F in her blog "They're Playing Basketball" talks about Fantourage, a plan used by the Los Angeles Sparks to sell season tickets. Sue F explains:
Fans arriving last night walked into the patio/event area were greeted by the entire Sparks sales staff – and a boa-clad Coach Michael Cooper – taking their pictures, as if fans were the stars and the Sparks staffers, the paparazzi. Fans received an information packet, and the mingling began.
But who invented "Fantourage?" It was a brainchild of Atlanta Dream staff. Wow.
I wonder how the Fantourage of the Atlanta Dream turned out. Did the Dream try it?
According to this article, Jia Perkins has left Utex Row Rybnik.
Adam Greczyło, president of Rybnik, stated that the contract was "resolved" by both parties. According to a Polish basketball message board, the release read "Authorities thank the club for performances in the colors of our club and wish every success in further sporting career."
Of course, there's a story there but we don't know what it is. Another poster said it was bad for the quality of the Polish league. Utex Row Rybnik is going to have a hard time of it, but the team seemed to start its four-game losing streak when they had her.
We'll see what happens.
From Prodep.com, an article about the struggles that Extrugasa is going through with injuries.
The Extrugasa could not give the surprise in Tarbes and fell clearly defeated in a match where the team arousano sank in the last quarter. "We ran out of gasoline, it is normal, with eight players is very difficult to compete with teams in Europe as the Tarbes." Isaac Fernandez was resigned after the match in France. "I'm not angry, quite the contrary, I am happy with the effort he has made the team, I think we did a very good first quarter, were the best minutes of the game of the season, which ocurrre is that after we were paying for the effort and physical problems were emerging. I believe that we can not compete more than we are doing. " The aftermath of the party of the continental competition are considerable. "Zlatanov continues with discomfort in his foot, Tamer has banged a thigh and limps, Katia also had discomfort in his foot, while Sara is exhausted."
Fatigue is not only about the escort vilagarciana. "We have been since Saturday at 4 am away from home, with two games, travel by train, truck, airplane ... and now we have another rival complicated Fontecarmoa Sunday." And is that the Extrugasa, after paying visit to the leader of the French League, must now play with the Spanish, the Madrid Rivas. Another party will be demanding, difficult to win, more so in the physical conditions in which they are the players. "This morning will rest in the afternoon session we will make a soft, it will be Saturday morning when we prepare the game against Rivas." Isaac acknowledged that "under these conditions the European competition comes just a little, is too harsh for a template as short as ours."
One of the problems is that as a Eurocup team, Extrugasa has to play two times a week - non Euroleague/Eurocup teams are playing only one day a week now. A WNBA team might think that two games a week, spaced evenly apart, is a luxury - but the Spanish teams don't take flights everywhere.
Tamera Young is limping. Not good.
Bonus Material: An article from a sports journalist in Spain about journalistic ethics. Looks like the Spanish set a higher standard than the US, where rumor is passed off as hard fact on a regular basis.
When I began checking my weblinks this morning, the Women's Hoops Blog alerted me to some shocking news: Mechelle Voepel is no longer at the Kansas City Star.
Cutbacks, so they say.
Hopefully, Voepel will still be at ESPN. ESPN still supports Voepel's columns on women's basketball. It would be a shame for Voepel not to have the bigger platform that she deserves.
I hate to change the subject, but I have to write a few things about myself. I've not been following women's basketball for very long. Oh, I was certainly interested in reading about it now and then but I didn't so much follow it as pay attention to it. I knew that Tennessee won lots of championships and that some teams were very good and others not so good.
I began following the sport when the Atlanta Dream came to town. I've always been a big believer in supporting the hometown team. I felt that the WNBA was a worthwhile enterprise and deserved some support, and I dipped my toe into the big blogging pool and began looking for information and reading the papers for information about my beloved Dream and all matters women's basketball.
This process of discovery was illuminating. It didn't exactly transform me into an acolyte of Andrea Dworkin, but it taught me a lot of unpleasant truths.
One of the truths I was taught is that a lot of men have a passionate hatred of women's sports. Despite their protestations to the contrary, it seems that their anger is based on gender. Their hatred of women's sports has a lot to do with their hatred of women, period.
I began reading the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Sports Illustrated with a critical eye. I began to play a game whenever I crossed a copy of the AJC - "guess the percentage". This cruel game involved picking out how much space on the AJC's sports page would be devoted to women's sports. I could win that game by guessing a number in the low single digits - some days, in the very low single digits. I think one day the percentage was actually 0.1 percent.
(The arguments go that women's sports aren't popular, therefore they don't deserve space. Why aren't they popular? Because they go unnoticed. Why do they go unnoticed? Because no print space is devoted to them.)
Sports Illustrated? Not much better. You can still win with that single-digit percentage guess. Except, of course, with the swimsuit issue.
In short, women's sports is invisible in a lot of quarters. The words "toil under obscurity" come to mind. And there are a lot of forces that want to keep it that way.
Writers like Mechelle Voepel are a light in the darkness. Intelligent sports commentary about a sport I like. And now, the Kansas City Star just put out the light.
"Cutbacks". Like a knife.
Women's Hoops Blog argues that we should e-mail the Kansas City Star to let them know our displeasure. I always felt a little hypocritical in doing that. Not only did I never read the KC Star, I never had the opportunity to read it. Writing a very prim and proper "you suck" missive doesn't make sense to me. What am I going to do, threaten to stop buying a paper I never read in the first place?
Think about it this way, though. Maybe the reason the Kansas City Star doesn't make any money is because they report about the same old boring garbage that other sports papers report about. Some pieces on the big three pro sports. College sports. Guy sports. A few columns of bloviating. And some advertisements.
And now, one less reason for women (and men) to read the sports page. One less reason to pick up a copy of the Kansas City Star.
(I ran out of reasons to buy an Atlanta Journal-Constitution.)
Maybe you should let the Kansas City Star know about the consequences of their decision. I just did. As for me, I have a new blog to read.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Vedrana Fonseca of Union Hainaut stares down Katsiaryna Snytsina of Gdynia. What does Katsiaryna have written on her arm?
Who would have thought that Union Hainaut (2-1) would be in second place in Group C after three games? That position was slotted for Ros Casares or Ekaterinburg. Much less, who thought that Lotos PKO BP Gydnia (0-3) would be at the bottom of Group C? But that's the way it stands after a come-from-behind victory by Union Hainaut, 85-82 in Euroleague play.
The writeup is here. The actual boxscore is here, and a gallery can be found on either page.
The game started out with what seemed to be Gdynia taking a strong lead, leading 35-16 after one quarter. According to the writeup, Gdynia led by more than 20 at one time in the game, 45-23. Unfortunately for Gdynik, Union Hainaut went on a 12-0 run to close out the half and the home team was down by 13, 52-39.
I managed to follow the game at work through the live boxscore viewer. Union Hainaut shot 50 percent at the half, but Gdynia shot 72 percent. No wonder they led! They were also outrebounding Union Hainaut 15 to seven and earning three offensive rebounds in the first half.
Then Union Hainaut began to fight back. Sabrina Reghaissia scored the tying basket with 1:52 to go in the third to tie the game at 61-61.
In the fourth quarter, the teams went back and forth, with Union Hainaut taking a 78-75 lead with just 3:56 left. If you read the writeup and the play by play, you'll get two different impressions of the game. The write-up implies an exciting last part of the game, but the last four minutes were a collection of turnovers, steals, bad shooting and unforced errors. Alana Beard of Gdynia turned the ball over once and fouled Reghaissia again, a personal shooting foul that let Reghaissia shoot - and make - three free throws to turn a three point deficit into a six point gap with just 1:05 remaining. After that, all Union Hainaut had to do was to not turn over the ball...too many times, anyway.
Even with Union Hainaut's comeback, Gdynia shot 57 percent from the field compared to Union Hainaut's 48 percent. Union Hainaut's second half rebounding was at least even. Gdynia shot better from the charity stripe; but Union Hainaut only made two fewer free throws.
So what won the game for Union Hainaut? Turnovers. Gdynia coughed up the ball 18 times compared to Union Hainaut's six. That's the potential to make up 12 points or more right there. Union Hainaut was playing at home, and they had a fantastic second half. Combine that with Gdynia not able to get it together in the last four minutes, and Union Hainaut escaped with a win.
Sabrina Reghaissia led Union Hainaut with 21 points. Three other players for Union Hainaut scored in double digits including Chioma Nnamaka with 13 points. Tiffany Stansbury scored a grand total of six points in twenty minutes on the court before earning her fifth and final personal foul, fouling out.
For Gdynia, there were five players scoring double figures. Emilija Podrug led all p alyers with 19 points followed by Ivana Matovic with 16. Alana Beard had 14 points and fouled out literally during the last seconds of the game. Jennifer Fleischer scored a "two billion", playing two minutes and with no other marks for her in the boxscore.
Gdynia had hoped to add Tamika Catchings to their roster, but she suffered an Achilles injury in September. She will not be joining Gdynia until January 12th, but Gdynia might have to hope for a PLKK championship, because it doesn't look like Gdynia's going to make it out of the first round of Euroleague.
A website for the local American Basketball Association team in Atlanta - the Atlanta Vision - suggests on their website that they will have a women's team soon. Is the ABA moving into women's basketball?
There's a poll up on the front page:
Who will win more games this season, the Atlanta Vision Men's Team or the new Atlanta Vision Women's Team?
Vision Women's Team
Vision Men's Team
Both teams will bring home the championship banner
I can't find about anything about this hypothetical women's ball club, although I assume that if the team existed, it would be paid in American currency and sell tickets.
However, I have found about about the American Basketball Association - you should reconsider any emotional connection you have with the old ABA of Dr. J. It appears the only connection is the red-white-and-blue ball.
Columnist A. J. Walling of Canada's TSN.ca has some harsh words for the league:
Chris Munson is a freelance sports writer who lives in Vermont and has followed the fortunes or misfortunes of the ABA.
"Needless to say, this is a league that has some serious issues. Since the rebirth of the ABA in 2001, over 170 teams have folded, disbanded or fallen into other state of disrepair. As far as the Halifax franchise goes, I may not agree with the timing of their departure from the ABA, but I cannot argue with their decision to leave the league," is what Munson told TSN.ca.
We furthermore get this wonderful news about Vision Management from Gracie Bonds Staples of the AJC:
The co-owner of the minor league Atlanta Vision basketball team is being sued by two former business partners, who allege he cheated them out of $200,000, according to a lawsuit filed in Gwinnett County Superior Court.
So will there be a second women's pro basketball team in Atlanta? I give it a five percent chance. Even if it falls through, it's pleasant to think that women's pro ball is being look at as a potential money maker, even if the money makers are under threat of lawsuit.
The Snap Judgment 2008 Photo of the Year contest is underway at WNBA.com. The fans of each team have a set of photos they can vote for as the best photo that represents their team.
The Atlanta Dream photos are now up for a vote. Vote early and often!
P. S. "Huddle From Overhead" might be more artistic, but I like "Atlanta Block Party" myself.
The article is here, in its translated form.
The article discusses the difficult position that Chinese teams find themselves in when trying to hire American or European players. The problem is that hiring these players "is somewhat like gambling", according to the writer.
From the fractured translation, it seems that Chinese teams obviously want to finish on top of the standings, and they're looking for inside players to do that - particularly for players above 1.9 meters tall (above 6'3" tall). One WNBA player said that she'd come to China to play, but only for $100,000. Sometimes everything is lined up - the player has their visa, etc. - but the deal just falls through.
Chinese teams particularly want centers, but there aren't very many centers of high caliber anywhere around the world. It's implied that some coached just simply don't have confidence that things will work out even if they do get "foreign aid"...in which case, Jennifer Lacy and Ann Strother should consider themselves lucky.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Finding information about Greek basketball makes finding information about Turkish or Chinese basketball seem like a walk in the park with ice cream and cake and balloons.
I've found the main website of the Hellenic Basketball Federation, but finding the part of the site that pertains to women's basketball, to boxscores, and the like still eludes me.
Eurobasket is a help, and I've found a schedule believe it or not. It seems that games are played every Sunday. The next game for Palea Faliro (Kristin Haynie's new team) will be Athinaikos (2-0) vs. Paleo Faliro (2-0) on November 1st. Athinaikos is a Eurocup level team, and there are about four or five Greek teams in the Eurocup. Paleo Faliro is not one of them.
Can I find a boxscore? A writeup? A picture? "Reply Hazy, Ask Again Later".
I recently read a translated article from a Spanish website - can't remember which one - that stated that Extrugasa (1-1) was going to be the top team in Group J. I wonder if the French Tarbes (2-0) team was reading that article? They were certainly motivated by something, since they beat Extrugasa 83-52 at home.
The boxscore, for those who want their Halloween scare early, is here.
It was a close game in the first half: Tarbes only led 37-29 at halftime. Tarbes extended its lead in the third quarter and then blew Extrugasa out of the fourth quarter 26-7 in front of a crowd of 1,100 spectators in Tarbes.
Tarbes shot an astonishing 61 percent from the field, a fact that alone should explain the 30 plus point win.
More ugly facts:
* Extrugasa shot 37 percent.
* Extrugas was outrebounded 41 to 19.
* At the free throw line, Extrugasa went 6-for-15 to what I suspect is a season low 40 percent.
This wasn't a WNBA All-Star team like Ekaterinburg. Tarbes GB had Tanisha Wright - a player for the Seattle Storm - score 12 points and five rebounds, and even she wasn't the highlight of Tarbes. Ndeye Ndiaye scored 12 points and 11 rebounds for the only double double of the game. Isabelle Yacoubou-Dehoui had 13 points and nine rebounds, and six players from Tarbes would score in double figures.
Katia Da Silva would lead Extrugasa with 12 points and six rebounds, and Tamera Young would score 12 points and five rebounds.
The fact that so many players - six for Tarbes, four for Extrugasa - scored between 10 and 20 and points and yet Extrugasa got blown out by thirty points suggests problems on both sides of the ball.
I guess the question is "does Extrugasa want to win the Eurocup?" Coach Isaac Fernandez implied that LFB play was more important than Eurocup...and this sorry showing provides support for that hypothesis.
I just got word that Kristin Haynie has signed with a Greek club, Paleo Faliro. The details can be found on the Dream website. She is expected to join the team this week.
My understanding is that play has started in the Greek league and Paleo Faliro are 2-0. Of course, I'll update you with what I can. It might be a bit tricky....
Best of luck to Kristin. However, a word of warning...Greek clubs have a history of not paying out, so make sure you have your drachma in hand, Kristin!
In a game that ended in a tie both in the third quarter and at the end of regulation, it would take a little bit extra for Ekaterinburg (3-0) to get its third Euroleague Group C win against Ros Casares (1-2). Ros Casares took the long trip from Spain to Russia for the game, but fell slightly short.
The game writeup is here.
The box score is here.
Ekaterinburg and Ros Casares are two teams from whom much was expected in Euroleague play, and 6,500 spectators in Ekaterinburg knew that "El Ros" would be tough. At halftime, Ros Casares led 43-28. Ekaterinburg, boasting a virtually all-star WNBA lineup, was not the kind of team to dismiss and Ekaterinburg went on a 24-9 run in the third quarter to tie the game 52-52.
In the fourth quarter, Ekaterinburg pushed to a lead that many thought would seal the victory, but Ros Casares's Amaya Valdemoro, a popular Spanish player on the national team, hit a basket with 1.5 seconds left to send the game into overtime, 76-76. Unfortunately, Ros Casares wes outscored 13-5 in extra time.
Ekaterinburg outshot Ros Casares 50 percent to 46 percent. With Erika de Souza contributing 15 rebounds for Ros Casares, Ros Casares won the battle of the rebounds (but I think the box score has offensive and defensive rebounds mixed up). Ros Casares had five more turnovers than Ekaterinburg, 23-18, and even though they went to the free throw line more often, both teams shot the same - 67 percent - giving Ros Casares only two extra points.
Cappie Pondexter (Phoenix Mercury) led Ekaterinburg with 23 points and five rebounds, and Agnieszka Bibrzycka followed with 22 points and five rebounds. Ashja Jones (Connecticut Sun) scored 11 points and six rebounds, Sandrine Gruda (Connecticut Sun) scored 13 points and nine rebounds, and Deanna Nolan (Detroit Shock) scored 10 points and four assists. Other familiar names on the Ekaterinburg roster are Penny Talyor (Phoenix Mercury in 2007) with 5 points in 17 minutes of play, Yelena Leuchanka with two points and Elena Baranova (New York Liberty 2005) who was held scoreless in only five minutes of play.
Dream watchers might remember Yelena Leuchanka. She played for the Mystics in 2007 but skipped playing for the Atlanta Dream in 2008 to play for the Belorussian Women's Olympic team.
For visiting Ros Casares, Erika de Souza had 16 points and 15 rebounds, a double-double, with Amaya Valdemoro scoring 22 points. Delisha Milton-Jones scored 15 points and eight rebounds, with Roneeka Hodges being held scoreless in 12 minutes of play and attempting only two shots.
Pictures will be added later.
Extrugasa is hard at work in practice.
This is an article in a Spanish newspaper by somenoe close to the Extrugasa team. ("A. G.") The writer states that last year, the team had wonderful moments like a plane malfunctioning on a flight from Moscow when they were already in the air for an hour. This time, the story is about traveling by van through the Pyrenees mountains to get to Zaragoza. Rain. Sleet. And when getting to the hotel...the kitchen is closed.
Just remember...you earn every dime you make while playing in Europe.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Miao Lijie (in white) of Hayao fights for a rebound against Chen Xiaoja (in green) of Jiangsu.
Jiangsu (2-2) had started the 2008-09 season strongly, but they'd have to take their act on the road to see if it would play. Unfortunately it didn't play well enough and Hayao (2-2) evened up its record with a 99-81 win at home.
The boxscore of the game is here. A gallery of the game can be found here, but once again, no Ann Strother.
Jiangsu shot 50 percent to Hayao's 57 percent. Jiangsu "countered" by being sent to the free throw line 26 times, and shooting 80 percent. But Hayao took- and made - more baskets overall than Jiangsu, thanks to a 39-28 edge in rebounding.
Miao Lijie led all players for Hayao with 30 points. Two other Hayao players scored at least 20 points - Gao Song scored 25 points and 13 rebound, and Liu Jiacen scored 23 points and had nine rebounds.
For the visiting Jiangsu, Bian Lan - probably the most popular player for Jiangsu - led with 22 points, followed by Chen Xiaoja with 12 points and four rebounds and Ann Strother scored 12 points and had seven rebounds - but fouled out after thirty minutes of play.
Ann Strother will get to host Atlanta Dream teammate Jennifer Lacy on Saturday as Beijing comes to Jiangsu for WCBA play.
Beijing (2-2) was hoping for a win at home, and they managed to make visiting Henan (2-2) the victim with a 95-72 victory to go to .500 in the WCBA.
The translated boxscore is right here.
Beijing's shooting percentage - 53 percent - was better than Henan's 45 percent, but more importantly, Beijing made 15 more field goals, testifying to Beijing's defensive skill. Henan only made 55 buckets the entire game.
Beijing also won the battle of rebound, both in offensive rebound and overall rebounding. Henan turned the ball over 22 times. The only aspect of the game that kept Henan from losing by forty was that they visited the free throw line 28 times to Henan's ten. It could be that the high number of fouls called against Beijing testified to Beijing's defensive intensity...either that, or Henan's overall weakness.
Zhang Wei led all players with 30 points. Zhang Fan scored 14 points and Zhang Lin each scored 10 points. Jennifer Lacy would only score five points in 15 minutes, four rebounds, and three steals.
Pan Li of Henan led the visitors with 23 points and six rebounds. Ji Yanyan scored 21 points, and Wang Jing scored six points and eight rebounds.
On Saturday, Beijing will play Jiangsu. Jennifer Lacy vs. Ann Strother, at long last.
The server over at the WCBA website is hella busy. I can give you some preliminary results:
Beijing (2-2) defeated Henan (2-2) 95-72. Jennifer Lacy had five points and four rebounds in 15 minutes of play.
Jiangsu (2-2) lost to Hayao (2-2) 99-81. Ann Strother had 12 points and seven rebounds in 30 minutes of play.
More later, hopefully.
Monday, October 27, 2008
I've decided to add some off-season websites to the list of links at the left. Now you know all of my secrets! They can be found under "Off-Season Foreign Links"
A commenter clued me in on the Women's Basketball in France site, for all you non-speakers of French. This link summarizes some of the games that took place on Saturday in the LFB (France).
We have this page which discusses the Union Hainaut-Prague match of Euroleague play. At the bottom of the page, there's a control that you can click on to hear some comments about the game by Chioma Nnamaka...in English!
This is from a recent article in the Spanish media. The speaker is Isaac Fernandez, the coach of Extrugasa.
Isaac also acknowledged that" we are going to do a signing, but we do not want to rush, so if we have to wait a few days, we will do. "
It looks like they're going to sign someone to replace Meredith Alexis at the four. Wonder who it will be?
WCBA: Beijing (1-2) vs. Henan (2-1)
WCBA: Hayao (1-2) vs. Jiangsu (2-1)
Euroleague: Ekaterinburg (Russia) (2-0) vs. Ros Casares (1-1) *
Eurocup: Tarbes (France) (1-0) vs. Extrugasa (1-0) **
Euroleague: Union Hainaut (1-1) vs. Gdynia (Poland) (0-2) *
LFB (Spain): Ros Casares (4-1) vs. Gran Canaria (1-4)
WCBA: Jiangsu vs. Beijing
LFB (Spain): Extrugasa (2-3) vs. Rivas Ecópolis (5-0)
LFB (France): Union Hainaut (5-2) vs. Bourges (7-0)
TBBL: Galatsaray (0-1) vs. Ceyhan (1-1)
Not playing: Rybnik (PLKK), Samsun (TBBL)
* - standings for Euroleague only
** - standings for Eurocup only
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Another pic from the first TBBL game of Ceyhan against Mersin. Ivory Latta (12) is stooped over as Michelle Campbell (34) and Berrin Karabas (18) of Mersin look on.
Someone asked for the other Ivory Latta pic posted at the TBBL website from Game One. Generally, pics can be found at the TBBL website at http://www.tbl.org.tr/tbbl/index.asp.
Update: Pics of the Ceyhan-Panküp game are now at the TBBL website. I might post one but I won't post them all.
When you're down 42-31 at halftime, you have one of two options - succumb to the inevitable, or, if you have an ounce of self-respect, fight. Home team Ceyhan (1-1) hoped to start out 2-0 this year in the TBBL, but they would lose to visiting Panküp by a score of 82-80.
The boxscore for the game is right here.
Since there's no good online Turkish-English translator (Google, where are you on this?), we'll have to look at the box score to decipher how the game went. Ceyhan was down 42-31 at halftime, but poured it on in the third quarter with 35 points to take a 66-58 lead after three quarters. Unfortunately for the home team, Panküp outshot Ceyhan 24-14 for the final two-point victory.
Panküp shot 46 percent to Ceyhan's 35 percent, but Ceyhan drilled more threes. Ceyhan had more offensive rebounds, but both teams were even in turnovers. Ceyhan was helped by going to the foul line 28 times, and hitting 23 of their freethrows shooting 82 percent at the line.
Ivory Latta led players on both teams with 31 points in 10 for 19 shooting. She hit four 3-point shots and seven of nine of her free throws, grabbing five rebounds, five assists and three steals. Michelle Campbell added 13 points and 10 rebounds. Tiffani Johnson scored six points and six rebounds, and Gulcin Cantekin scored 12 points and six rebounds for Ceyhan (but fouled out). Charel Allen added five points and six rebounds in just 14 minutes of total play.
For Panküp, current Seattle Storm forward (and former Atlanta Dream player) Camille Little led all players of Panküp with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Panküp needed its foreign aid players to get the victory. Jaclyn Johnson, a graduate of the University of Kansas in 2001, scored 15 points and 11 rebounds. Lisa Willis, a guard for the New York Liberty, scored 12 points and six rebounds, and Laurie Koehn, a guard for the Washington Mystics, added 12 more points to Panküp's tally.
All in all, 58 of Panküp's 82 points came from American players. For Ceyhan, it was 49 of 80 points.
Pictures will come when the TBBL provides them.
How much does skill level change in any sport over time? In baseball, you can enjoy a whole evening's worth of hot stove league arguments on this very subject. Pluck Babe Ruth magically out of the 1921 lineup of the New York Yankees and drop him into the 2008 lineup. Would he still be the Sultan of Swat? Would he be an All-Star player? Or would he be washed up trying to hit against 2008 pitching?
We know that in many sports, nutrition advances, improvement in training methods, population growth, and a increase in a sport's popularity (leading more potential athletes to choose the sport) change the skill level of sports leagues year by year.
The shoe can be placed on the other foot. A league's competition level can be weakened by overexpansion or by a decrease in a sport's popularity, giving players a chance to compete that wouldn't have made it in years past. Leagues can be watered-down as easily as strengthened.
Given that, is there a way to estimate how much tougher a league gets year by year?
There's a very simple way to do it:
a) Take a group of players from 1997 and see how well they do against the league,
b) Follow that exact same group of players from 1998 and see how well they do against the league.
c) If the group did better in 1998 than they did in 1997, the league got weaker - the reason that they put up better numbers was that the competition was weaker.
d) If the group did worse in 1998 than they did in 1997, the league got stronger - they put up worse numbers because the competition was tougher.
e) Do this for 1997 vs. 1998, 1998 vs. 1998, etc. until you get to 2008.
This "cohort" way of doing things makes sense. The only problem is how big should the cohort be? The ideal answer is that the cohort should be the entire group of players in 1997 who were also active in 1998.
Unfortunately, I can't do that. I don't have a database of year by year performance for players that automatically does these calculations. So I'll use Basketball Reference and choose the ten WNBA players with the most minutes in one year, and compare the performance of this group over to the next year. When I use the next year as the starting point, I'll perform the same process with a new group of players - the players who had the most minutes in the new starting year.
Occasionally, you get situations where a player was among the top ten in minutes one year and disappears the next year - the Kym Perrot case. In which case, I substituted players from the most field goals category. The goal was to choose players who were very active.
Another problem (which I was forced to ignore) was differences in coaching style. Players from the 2007 Indiana Fever are going to have different levels of production than the 2007 Phoenix Mercury. I don't have a solution for this problem, but I'm not looking for exact values, just an estimate of how much tougher a league gets over time.
The next problem: what metric should I use to measure a player's overall performance?
I chose the metric of Wins Score. I don't like the Efficiency Metric used by the WNBA because I feel it overvalues shooting percentage, awarding points for poor field goal shooting. Furthermore,
a) Wins Score is an "additive metric", giving points for everything a player does right, and
b) It takes into account all facets of a player's game, both offensive and defensive.
I looked at combined Wins Score, and then divided that into a "Wins Score Per Minute" for my particular group of players to take into account different amounts of total minutes players. This "Wins Score Per Minute" rating was tracked over two successive years for each of the cohorts to determine relative strength and weakness of a league.
So here we go. We set the difficulty value for the 1997 WNBA at 1.00.
|1997||1.000||8 teams, 28 games, halves, 30 second clock|
|1998||0.910||expansion from 8 to 10 teams, 30 games|
|1999||1.385||expansion from 10 to 12 teams, 32 games, ABL players join|
|2000||1.113||expansion from 12 to 16 teams|
|2003||1.601||contraction to 14 teams, 34 games|
|2004||1.730||contraction to 13 teams|
|2006||1.429||expansion from 13 to 14 teams, movement from halves to quarters, 24 second clock|
|2007||1.404||contraction to 13 teams|
|2008||1.472||expansion to 14 teams|
A graph is attached below:
Let's look at the graph and the numbers in the table above.
The dip in league quality from 1998 shouldn't be a surprise. With extra teams, we'd expect the team to get weaker, and this was the year when the Houston Comets won 27 out of 30 games. According to the estimate, 1998 was the weakest year in the WNBA's history.
Going to 1999, a flood of American Basketball League stars entered the league and the role players who filled spots on WNBA rosters were suddenly displaced. The league took a 52 percent jump in level of competition, the biggest jump between any two years out of the 13 years the WNBA has existed. Having the former ABL players did a lot for the WNBA.
The league's quality suffered in 2000 with an expansion to 16 teams, the largest number of teams ever in the WNBA. However, you'll notice that the league's quality slowly edged up year after year after year. Most likely, these changes reflect changes in coaching both at the WNBA and college levels, as well as the growing popularity of women's basketball as a sport. The level of play got tighter and tighter year after year, reaching a high in the 2005 season. Contraction down to 13 teams also helped moved the process along.
However, in 2006, the league's quality mysteriously dipped. There were a set of rule changes named for the 2006 season, and the league's strength overall dipped 23 percent. These changes, according to the Chasing the Title blog, had great impact on the game. They allowed players with superior athleticism to dominate other players. Players had a couple of minutes of rest. The shorter clock gave quicker athletes a premium and hurt teams trying to run the old 30 second full court offensive.
My suspicion is that the changes hurt a lot of players that weren't able to adjust. Like changes in the enviroment in an evolutionary example, some of the players in the W found themselves handicapped. Two minutes of rest where formerly no rest existed might help some players over other players.
The last two numbers are paradoxical. You'd expect the league to become tougher in 2007 (contraction and fewer places for players) and weaker in 2008 (expansion). It could be that the 2008 change is reflected by the strength of the draft class in 2008; I don't know what accounts for the 2007 dip. It might be random fluctuation.
Using a model like this provokes further questions:
1. Some American players thought that the WNBA would be able to offer enough money so that they wouldn't have to play overseas anymore. I'm sure that some players enjoyed a couple of years at home in the offseason. When it became obvious that salaries were going to remain small, players had to begin playing year-round again, playing in Europe in the off-season. How did this change competitiveness?
2. After a certain point, the pipeline of European players dried out for similar reasons. Why go overseas when you could just make the same crappy amount of money at home and work in the offseason, possibly for a company that was sponsoring your European team? How did that change competitiveness?
3. Has college basketball gotten tougher or easier over the past 12 or 13 years? How has that changed things?
4. Most of the early WNBA coaches were women, who moved from the college level to the pros. Now, the best female coaches stay at the college level, because it pays more and offers more security. Furthemore, former NBA players are preparing their resumes by coaching at the WNBA level. Do the NBA players bring a better skill set to WNBA coaching? How does that effect league strength?
There are about four more pictures of the Beşiktaş-Samsun game, some of which feature Alison Bales. These can be found on the TBBL website.
We have results from the Ceyhan-Panküp game. Ivory Latta scored 31 points but Ceyhan fell short as Panküp won its first game of the year 82-80. More on the game later.
More on the Ceyhan-Panküp game later.
Kasha Terry (#35) watches Jennifer Rushing (with ball) run to the hoop.
From the MUKS Poznań website, there are a few pictures of the Rybnik-MUKS Poznań game.
There aren't that many pictures of Kasha Terry, but the pictures are larger than the ones in the French gallery below.
J'aime le Basket feminine!
Presented for your approval, an album of the recent Union Hainaut-Calais game. There must be about 200 pictures in there, as if the photographer simply dumped every single picture she took into the album.
I'm posting this for all you Chioma Nnamaka fans, because who isn't a fan of Chioma Nnamaka?
P. S.: that mysterious animal mascot from an earlier pic seems to have been identified. It's obviously le black panther.
* There is a pretty cool fan video on the main Atlanta Dream website. It would be cool if these were YouTube videos so I could post them at the blog, but you can't have everything!
* Marynell Meadors and Chantelle Anderson will be at the Buckhead Best Buy store here in Atlanta from 11:30 am - 1 pm. You've got two days to RSVP! Event information is here.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Bian Lan of Jiangsu gets one of her three rebounds.
We actually have some nice pictures from the Liaoyang/Jiangsu game right here. It looks pretty well attended. Liaoyang is in white, Jiangsu is in green.
Note that there are no pictures of Ann Strother anywhere. From the few pictures I've seen, I suspect that the WCBA prefers that "homegrown" talent be highlighted rather than any "foreign aid". Chasity Melvin deserved to be MVP of the first week of the WCBA but the award was given to a Chinese player instead.
By the way, we have an interesting comment from someone anonymous who might be "in the know" about how Ann is doing in China.
Ann left last Sat for China----24hr flight from her hometown---14 hr differential timewise from Colorado. Is loving China and its people, not so sure about eating sparrow and eel, but gradually getting used to the cuisine!!! :)
Why does "sparrow and eel" sound like an Iron Chef challenge? Maybe we should start a Twinkie fund for Ann. "Send all snack foods to...!"
P. S.: Post #400!
With Bourges and Tarbes both with 6-0 records, it would be a battle of two 4-2 teams attempting to secure third place. Union Hainaut (5-2) would come out on top with a 62-49 victory to move into third place in the Ligue Feminine all by themselves.
The boxscore for the game is here.
Aix-en-Provence led 32-30 at the half, but were held down 30-17 in the second half by the visting Union Hainaut squad. Don't think this was some sort of intricate game. Union Hainaut shot only 35 percent. Aix-en-Provence only shot 33 percent. It was one of those games where...well..you know...someone had to win.
With all of those airballs, it was a high rebounding game. Union Hainaut won the offensive rebounding game 16 to eight and only turned the ball over five times in the entire game. That was where Union Hainaut won the game. Generally, field goal percentage can equal or outweigh all the other keys of the game; when neither team is shooting well little things mean an awful lot.
Part of the problem was that Aix-en-Provence could only dress seven players. Three of those players played over 35 minutes.
Who was the player of the game for Aix-en-Provence? Take your pick. No one was really impressive. Let's give it to the leading point scorer Renae Camino, who scored 13 points. K. B. Sharp, a guard for the Chicago Sky, scored seven points and four rebounds in forty minutes.
Kathy Wambe scored 16 points for Union Hainaut. Clémence Biekes added 5 points and Tiffany Stansbury scored 10 points and 13 rebounds for a double-dobule. Chioma Nnamaka scored only two points in over twenty minutes of play. Then again, she really wasn't needed that much.
Pictures will come soon. It's a good way to end a post.
This was a big game for Olesa (3-2), who hadn't won last year in league play against Ros Casares (4-1). With Ros Casares stumbling at times, Olesa hoped that they might be able to knock off a top ranked team, but fell just short in an 74-72 loss at home in Barcelona.
The boxscore for the game is here.
The hope for Olesa was to stop Erika de Souza. It worked - De Souza only scored six points along with their eight rebounds. Unfortunately for Olesa, two other players on Ros Casares scored forty points combined.
Olesa scored 47 percent from the floor compared to 43 percent for Ros Casares. Olesa outrebounded Ros Casares 44 to 27, but Ros Casares had an unusually low number of turnovers - only six - compared to 19 for Olesa. It would be very interesting to see how many turnovers of those Ros Casares was able to turn into baskets, because the only battle I see Ros Casares winning in the boxscore was turnovers.
For Olesa, Cristal Kelly had a double double with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Kelly was a rookie forward for the Sacramento Monarchs in 2008. Tracy Reid scored 11 points and seven rebounds. Reid was a six-year veteran in the WNBA, last playing with the Phoenix Mercury in 2003. Anna Cruz would score 14 poitns.
With Olesa attempting to hold down de Souza, Amaya Valdemoro scored 20 points and five rebounds and Anna Montañana scored 20 points Delisha Milton-Jones scored 12 points and Roneeka Hodges added four points.
Pictures will come, of course, when I can find them. Ros Casares is pretty well covered; I should have something soon.
Rybnik (5-4) had been looking to climb back on top after experiencing four straight losses at one time this season. It was time for MUKS Poznań (2-6) to play the victim, as Utex Row Rybnik had little trouble with a 69-58 victory at home.
MUZS Poznań is the second of two Poznań teams in Poland, and obviously it's not the better one (the other is AZS Poznań). Rybnik outshot Poznań 45 percent to 30 percent, and teams rarely (if ever) win when they shoot 30 percent...unless maybe it's in junior high.
MUZS Poznań was outrebounded 43 to 37, but in the important offensive rebounds category, MUZS Poznań had 14 of those to Rybnik's seven. Furthermore, MUKS Poznań won the battle of turnovers.
It was a good effort all around for Rybnik. Elżbieta Międzik led Rybnik with 18 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, and Jia Perkins scored 17 points and had 12 rebounds. Kasha Terry would score 10 points and five rebounds in 23 minutes. LaTangela Atkinson would score six points.
For MUZS Poznań, Jennifer Rushing led the team with 25 points. Rushing graduated from Delta State in 2008. Rushing had seven steals, but also had five turnovers. Djenebou Sissoko had 15 points and nine rebounds, and Keila Beachem added six points. (She was definitely an American player, but if you know what college she graduated from, leave it in the comments.)
This was a big game for Zaragoza (2-3), who had lost three straight games and would be taking on Extrugasa (2-3) at home. With Zaragoza looking forward to the arrival of Paula Palomares, who had been out eight months with an injury, Zaragoza beat Extrugasa 80-66.
The box score for the game is here.
Zaragoza managed to take a first quarter lead and keep it. In addition to Extrugasa playing a Eurocup game only two days ago, Zaragosa used LaToya Thomas and LaToya Turner to attack Extrugasa on the inside. Zaragoza led 49-30 and halftime, and played Extrugasa more or less even throughout the remaining part of the game.
Zaragoza was burning down the nets with 56 percent shooting to Extrugasa's 39 percent. They outrebounded Extrugasa overall 37 to 23. Furthermore, they shot 71 percent at the free throw line compared to Extrugasa's 50 percent. (It seems that free throw shooting is a weakness for Extrugasa - in the last three games, Extrugasa has shot under 70 percent.)
The only thing keeping Extrugasa from losing by thirty was turnovers. Zaragoza lost the ball, turning over the ball 21 times to Extrugasa's nine.
Leading for Zaragoza was LaToya Thomas, with 29 points and seven rebounds. Thomas played for the Detroit Shock and Minnesota Lynx in 2008. Adding to Zaragoza's victory was LaToya Turner with a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds. Turner was a graduate of Ohio State, who was signed by WNBA teams but never played. Estella Royo Torres also added 11 points.
Paula Palomares only scored four points, but played 30 minutes and had five assists. Not bad for an eight month lay off.
Extrugasas leader was Maria Gomez Novo was 13 points. Katia Da Silva had 14 points and six rebounds. Tamera Young had 14 points in 27 minutes of play, as well as four rebounds and two steals.
Liaoyang (1-2) had been looking for their first win of the season, and in a game that was apparently tight all the way, they finally managed to beat Jiangsu (2-1) in front of a crowd of 3000 excited fans at home.
The game details are here.
The writeup is here.
The oddest thing - if you look at any pictures of the Liaoyang team on the WCBA website, they are all wearing army uniforms, as if they are all in the active military. They just might all be military players, given the sheer size of China and its military. After all, we have Army, Navy, and Air Force teams in college basketball; why couldn't such a thing exist in professional basketball?
Looking at the quarter by quarter score, you'll find Liaoyang having a good first quarter, but only leading by two at halftime, 44-42. They extended their lead to three points at the end of the fourth quarter but the visitors almost managed to sneak away with the win.
The writeup states that in the fourth quarter, "Jiangsu is striving to play basketball outside their own characteristics." I don't know what that means, draw your own conclusions.
Lioyang held the edge in shooting, 47 percent to 43 percent, but Jiangsu had more offensive rebounds. Turnovers kept Jiangsu in the game, with Liaoyang turning the ball over 22 times compared to 12 times for Jiangsu. Free throw shooting was just about even.
Liu Dan was the heroine for Liaoyang with her 33 points and 11 rebounds leading Liaoyang to its first win this year. "Song Peacekeeping Force" (宋力维) had 21 points and seven rebounds, with Liu Yang adding 15 points.
Undoubtedly, part of the reason that Jiangsu lost was that they could only dress seven players. Bian Lan led Jiangsu with 30 points, and "Snow-designate" (候雪花 ) had 17 points.
Ann Strother appears to be adjusting better to the Chinese game. She had 14 points and 11 rebounds in 31 minutes of play. However, she also had four fouls, along with Chen Xiaojia. If either of those players had fouled out, Jiangsu would have been up the Huáng Hé river without a paddle.
Later this week, I'll write where Jiangsu will be playing next. Pics are ridiculously hard to find, but if I can find them, I will.
Beijing (1-2) thought that a home game could turn things around for their season, but Bayi Telecom (3-0) remained determined and pulled away in the fourth quarter to remain undefeated in WCBA play. Bayi Telecom has won three WCBA championships and it looks like they'll remain a tough team.
The boxscore for the game is here. No writeup yet, but I'm sure we'll have one soon.
It turned out that with the time difference, most WCBA games take place in the morning. When you get to the site, you can see the scores updated but there's no "live update" of boxscores like the WNBA has. Furthermore, the WCBA site is sluggish - I suppose that's from all the Chinese fans of women's basketball waiting for their fix. As I watched part of the live update - while the site was up - the score was tight in the high forties before Bayi Telecom seemed to pull away.
Part of the problem for Beijing was their lousy shooting - 34 percent. Bayi Telecom shot 47 percent...or at least, I think they did. They also outrebounded Beijing 33-27, and both visited the line more often and hit more free throws.
So how come Bayi Telecom only won by eight points? Bayi Telecom had more turnovers (24-19) but I don't see that making up for a 13 percent shooting differentional. The only thing I can conclude was hat Beijing wasted a lot of its power looking for three points shots that never fell, particularly Zhang Wei, who shot took more three pointers (12) than the entire Bayi Telecom team (11).
For Beijing, Zhang Fan led with 19 points and 10 rebounds, which wasn't the only double-double in this game. Zhang Wei added 13 points - when you shoot 12 three-pointers, some of them have to fall. Zhang Lin added nine points.
What about Jennifer Lacy? She played for 20 minutes and scored seven points - six of them at the free throw line. She had three rebounds and no assists.
Over at Bayi Telecom, Chen Nan scored 28 points and 11 rebounds in forty full minutes of play. Sui Feifei - known as "the female Yao Ming" in China due to her popularity - scored 21 points and six rebounds. Ten of her points came from free throws, as she was fouled nine times. Feifei formerly played for the Sacramento Monarchs in 2005, only the second Chinese player to play in the WNBA. She was also a member of the 2008 Olympic women's basketball team for China.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Another picture from the Beşiktaş-Samsun game. Alison Bales, looking very unflattering in the light, is in the black uniform at the right.
I've found the website for the Samsun basketball team. Those pictures are much better. My favorite pictures are:
Who says men don't watch women's basketball?
Alison Bales learns the buddy system with Nesibe Uzun (#12) and Pelin Incel (#10).
Is that ominous figure in the back Alison Bales?
Beşiktaş (2-0) moved into contention in the Turkey Women's Basketball League (TBBL), coming back in the second half with an 87-81 win over Samsun (1-1) in a very tight double overtime victory.
The boxscore for the game is here.
After a good start by Beşiktaş to take a 41-28 lead into halftime, Samsun began to work their way back. The lead was closed to 54-57 and by the end of regulation, both teams were tied 68-68. Each team scored 10 points in the first overtime, but Samsun ran out of gas in the second overtime.
Beşiktaş had the statistical edge, shooting 42 percent from the field compared to Samsun's 49 percent. Samsun won the battle of the boards in a big way, 49 to 38, with Erlana Larkins and Adela Olanrewaju with 18 and 15 rebounds each. However, Beşiktaş went to the free throw line 30 times, hitting 19 shots, whereas Samsun went 9 for 19 at the stripe, shooting a dismal 47 percent in their free throw shooting.
Shay Doron (a guard for the New York Liberty in 2007) led all Beşiktaş scorers with 25 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Alexis Hornbuckle (24 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists) and Laura Harper (21 points, 15 rebounds, 2 assists) would add double doubles, becoming a three woman wrecking crew. Hornbuckle played for the Detroit Shock in 2008 as a rookie; Harper was a rookie for the Sacramento Monarchs.
The win was not so much a win as a triumph of human endurance. Alexis Hornbuckle would play all fifty minutes, and Laura Harper would fall twenty seconds short of that goal.
For Samsun, Erlana Larkins would score 22 points and 18 rebounds and Adeola Olanrewaju would add 15 points and 15 rebounds in the battle of the double-dobbles. Julie McBride would score 20 points and she'd play all 50 minutes of the game as well. Alison Bales would score 7 points and 7 rebounds, but would pick up her fifth foul in only 21 minutes of action.
Since there are 11 teams in the Turkish league, bye weeks are awarded. Samsun will not play in regular league play next week, and when they come back on November 9th, they travel to Ceyhan to play against Ivory Latta's team.
Better pictures will show up when/if I can find them.
Some interesting comments from Coach Isaac Fernandez of Extrugasa in the Spanish League regarding Tamera Young and the problems with Meredith Alexis. Note that this is part of a complementary comment.
Tamer has been very good, is becoming better because he knows what we want from it, it also benefited other factors that allow it to be more liberated and happy" (the latter in a clear Referring to the progress of Alexis).
(faux Espagnol from Translate Google)
I don't know what this implies. Either Young was unhappy with Alexis, or Alexis was a distraction to Young...or what? This is what you have to deal with when you don't speak the native tongue.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
...okay, it's not what it sounds like. Don't get your hopes up.
This isn't an Atlanta Dream thing but for Atlanta readers of the Dream Blog, this was posted at the Atlanta Dream Fan Message Board by "zelda 19".
- WBNA star and recent Olympic gold medalist Lisa Leslie will appear at Atlanta's feminist bookstore, Charis Books & More, on Thursday, October 30 at 7:30pm to discuss and sign copies of her book, Don't Let the Lipstick Fool You: The Making of a Champion. Leslie will be joined by her husband, Michael Lockwood, who will be discussing & signing his book, Women Have All the Power: Too Bad They Don't Know It.
While they are at Charis, the two authors will give brief readings from their books, take questions from the audience, and will then devote the majority of the evening to signing books for their fans. Books are available for purchase now at Charis Books and More and will also be available the night of the event. This event is free and open to the public. There will be limited seating available.
Here's info from the store website.
Tamera Young brings Pigtail Power to Spain!
Extrugasa (1-0) had everything rolling against it. Problems at the forward position. No club money. No high expectations of Eurocup success. But maybe when you have nothing to lose, you play your best and Extrugasa beat visiting Italian team Ribera (0-1) 81-67 in front of a small home crowd of 350 spectators.
The boxscore of the game is here.
Looking at the quarter per quarter score, Extrugasa won or tied every single quarter. The Spanish team shot 55 percent from the field compared to Ribera's 48 percent. Furthermore, Ribera had 14 turnovers to Extrugasa's nine and Extrugasa took more free throws and more shots overall.
Tamera Young started the game and scored 26 points and five rebounds in 36 minutes. Sara Gomez contribued 21 points and three steals and four Extrugasa players scored in double figures. (Neither Victoria Sholokhova nor Meredith Alexis were on the team - I assume we can mark those players as "gone".)
As for Ribera - a Sicilian team - Jami Montagnino and Megan Moody each had 15 points. Montagnino is a player with dual American/Italian nationality who graduated from Tulane in 2007. Moody graduated from Tulsa in 2006 and signed with the Houston Comets in that year but as far as I know she never made the team. Other US graduates on the Ribera team include Molly Creamer, who graduated from Bucknell and was a first round draft pick for the New York Liberty in 2003 as well as Kaayla Chones who graduated from NC State and last played for the Seattle Storm in 2006.
Extrugasa's next Eurocup game is next Wednesday against Tarbes (1-0), a French team. The winner rules Group J. There are pictures of Tamera Young on the FIBA Europe website, but I'm at work waiting for a call, so I can't post any of them. Que lastima!
P. S.: They say the picture above is of Tamera Young, but I don't believe it.
Here's what I've been able to figure out about Eurocup. If the Euroleague is sort of the NCAA Tournament of professional European women's basketball, the Eurocup is the WNIT. Euroleague appears to have been around before Eurocup, leaving Eurocup with the teams that Euroleague overlooked - Euroleague is the more pretigious tournament. Making things more complicated is that there are two Eurocups in men's pro basketball in Europe, or at least, there appear to be.
From what I've read about this Extrugasa match, winning Eurocup games has become a secondary priority. Coach Isaac Fernandez only has eight active players, and the problems with Sholokova and Alexis have caused a lot of uncertainty. As far as Fernandez is concerned, the really important game is on Saturday against Zaragoza, a rival of Extrugasa.
Furthermore, Fernandez makes it no secret that Extrugasa simply doesn't have the cash that it had last year and can't afford any of the really high-powered players it takes to muscle one's way to a Eurocup championship. So if Extrugasa loses today, try not to take it to heart.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Erika de Souza (right) can only watch as Lindsay Whalen (#7) makes her move....
It's been a rough few days for Ros Casares (1-1 in Euroleague play). Ros Casares built their team to dominate both the Liga Feminina and the Euroleague. But in the last few days, They lost to rival Perfumerias in the LFB Spain - and have now lost their first Euroleague game to Prague (1-1) 87-72 in the Czech Republic.
The game writeup is here. The boxscore is here.
As the game writeup reports, Ros Casares decided to let Greek player Evanthia Maltsi go after 2007-08, and then she came up with USK Prague. Combine:
a) one motivated ex Ros Casares player
b) Lindsay Whalen
c) Sonja Kareta, and
d) Ros Casares's tough loss to Perfumerias.
What you get is Ros Casares losing the game's thread in the third quarter. El Ros led 47-42 in the third, and then Prague turned on the afterburners. Prague finished the third quarter with an 18-4 run and had no trouble winning the fourth to get their first Euroleague win at home. Erika de Souza fouling out after one minute in the fourth quarter didn't help, either.
Prague shot 50 percent compared to Ros Casares's 39 percent. Ros Casares won the turnover battle, but lost two other key battles. In the battle of rebounds, the tough Ros Casares team was outrebounded 44-29. And at the free throw line, 21 of Prague's points came from giveaways by the visitors.
Evanthia Malsi led with 29 points. Lindsay Whalen of the Connecticut Sun had nine points, 14 rebounds, and 7 assists in 37 minutes of play. Sonja Kareta had a double double with 13 points ant 15 rebounds. Swin Cash was a non-factor, scoring six points.
As for Ros Casares, Amaya Valdemora, one of the great players of women's basketball in Spain, led with 17 points. Delisha Milton-Jones (she might be dropping the "Jones") scored 18 points and Raneeka Hodges scored 13 points. Erika de Souza added eight points and six rebounds in 27 minutes of play.
Next Wednesday, Ros Casares has to travel all the way to Russia to play an Ekaterinburg team that is loaded with Penny Taylor, Cappie Pondexter, Ashja Jones, Deanna Nolan and Elena Baranova. The road to Euroleague greatness is never an easy one.
Is it the Euroleague shuffle? No, it's Kerri Gardin (in red) doing her stuff.
It was a small crowd, only 480 spectators in Croatia. It probably didn't relieve the sting of the loss, as Union Hainaut (1-1) lost to Sibenik (1-1) 79-70 in the second game of Euroleague play.
The game report is here. The boxscore is here.
Sibenik, as I reported earlier, had a 60-36 lead at halftime. They shot 65.7 percent in the first half of the game, with 81.2 percent from two point range. That was frightening. Clearly, Union Hainaut had no interior defense, and shooting 41 percent in the first half didn't help. After that, it was just Sibenik marking time until the final buzzer sounded.
The report, however, states that they astonishingly led 74-51 after three quarters, but scored only five points in the fourth quarter. Union Hainaut got to within 75-68 with 1:17 remaining, but Sibenik woke up from their nap, and that was that.
Sibenik would finish with 49 percent shooting, compared to the 38 percent shooting of Union Hainaut. Union Hainaut beat Sibenik in offensive rebounding (18-11) and turnovers (21-22), but not significantly enough to overcome their horrible shooting.
Kerri Gardin, a rookie forward for the Connecticut Sun this year, led Sibenik with 28 points and 11 rebounds and played the entire game. Constance Jinks, a former guard from UNLV, scored 15 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds.
Kathe Wambe lead with 16 points and had seven steals for Union Hainaut. She would be the only player who would score in double figures. Chioma Nnamaka would only score seven points, Bernadette Ngoyisa scored nine points, and Tiffany Stansbury added six points.
Union Hainaut will play Gyndia (currently 0-1 before tomorrow's game with Ekaterinburg) next Thursday, October 30th, at home at Valenciennes.
With the news only coming recently that Ann Strother was on the fast plane to China, we still don't know whether or not the mysterious "An Sizhuo" is actually Ann Strother, but a bevy of circumstantial evidence is pointing to the positive. Therefore, until I know otherwise, we'll work with that assumption and write up Jiangsu's games.
Jiangsu (2-0) took on visiting Shanghai (0-2). Shanghai was looking for its first WCBA win this year, and as you can tell, they lost 75-74.
Writeups of the game - from what I can decipher from Translate Google's fractured English - had Jiangsu by as much as 14 points behind late in the game, and Jiangsu was down 64-52 at one time. However, Jiangsu made a comeback with the balance supposedly being a critical foul in the last seconds that sent a Jiangsu player to the freethrow line that scored the final points for Jiangsu in front of a crowd of 4,000 people.
This was one of those awful shooting games that no one wants to watch. Jiangsu shot only 34 percent and Shanghai didn't do much better at 37 percent. The game was a virtual reboundfest, with teams putting up...well, I suppose astronomical numbers doesn't do it justice.
Jiangsu: 28 offensive rebounds, 35 defensive.
Shanghai: 22 offensive rebounds, 34 defensive.
I don't even see how this is possible. That's 117 rebounds in this game. A rebound every 20 seconds. Has anyone seen such a thing?
Shanghai led in turnovers 18-10 and ultimately, they sent Jiangsu to the line 27 times, compared to going just 7 times themselves. Jiangsu stayed away from any sort of foul trouble, and this won them their second victory of the year.
Ann Strother was the new arrival. She scored a grand total of four points - 1 for 10 shooting overall, making two free throws. That's four points on 12 attempts, simply horrible. A Chinese news article implied that
a) "An Sizhuo" was a new foreign acquisition, and
b) She had only been in the country a couple of days, and they hoped that she'd do better when she settled down.
She played 24 minutes. Not a bad way to lose the rust.
Only seven players took the floor for Jiangsu, they needed all the help they could get - forenigh or otherwise. Chen Xiaojia lead with 20 points and 9 rebounds, and three players had double-doubles with the limitless amount of rebound going on. ("Anyone want 10 rebounds today? Go get them!")
Shanghai was able to start 10 points but rebounds, rebounds, and more rebounds would be all that they'd get out of their visit to Jiangu. Oddly enough, no one had more than 10 rebounds. Yang Li led all players with 14 points and 9 rebounds, while Li Qin scored 14 points and had 5 rebounds.
The English language boxscore is here. Go marvel at the rebounds; it's a statistical work of art.
Shanghai goes on the road to play Liaoyang (0-2) on Saturday.
Both of the Euroleague teams that have Atlanta Dream members on the roster went on the road today.
Ros Casares (1-1) lost to Prague (1-1) 87-72. (Won-loss stats are from Euroleague play, and not from the leagues of the respective countries.) This game was close until the fourth quarter.
Union Hainaut (1-1) lost to Sibenik (1-1) 79-70. The score is very misleading, as Sibenik took a 60-36 lead into halftime and just went on cruise control from there.
This leaves one more game from Euroleague Group C today - Gyndia vs. Ekaterinburg. If Gydnia wins, all six teams in Group C will be 1-1.
I have some news from someone in the Atlanta Dream organization (haven't gotten permission to state their name) that Ann Strother left Friday to join the Jiangsu team of the WCBA in China. The team plays its games in Nanking.
During a 75-74 win by Jiangsu against Shanghai in Nanjin on Tuesday, a player by the name of "An Sizhou" (Chinese characters: 安·斯卓 ) scored 4 points on 1-for-9 shooting. "An" is listed as a foreign player and she's of the right height approximately. I would attribute the 1 for 9 shooting to jet lag, myself.
We have 100 percent confirmation that Strother will be playing in the WCBA and we have 90 percent confirmation that this "An Sizhou" is probably her. When I can find out more from the Chinese media and Translate Google, I'll be right on it.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
I like this picture. Ivory, climb to the top! You can do it!
I usually just limit things to the Dream, but if there's someone who deserves some special attention, it's Nicky Anosike and her NCAA Woman of the Year award.
Go here for more information.
She was a triple major at Tennessee that graduated with honors. Fan-freaking-amazing.
Zhang Wei looks for, and finds, the basket for Beijing
Beijing (1-1) hit the road looking for their first win of the season, and they found it against Yunan (0-2), winning 84-74.
The translated version of the boxscore is here.
The key to Beijing's victory was getting off to a fast start in the first quarter. At the end of the first, Beijing led 29-16. That allowed Beijing to lead 48-38 at the half, a lead which Beijing extended by four in the third quarter. Yunan could simply not come back.
Yunan outshot Beijing 60 percent to 47 percent. How do you lose by shooting 60 percent? Very simple - don't take any shots. Yunan took 46 shots total in the game and only four three pointers. Beijing, on the other hand, took 67 shots. Beijing outrebounded Yunan 32-19, indicating that Beijing was just too strong defensively for Yunan to handle. They made fewer turnovers, and even though they sent Yunan to the line 26 times, both teams hit the same number of free throws.
Zhang Wei led Beijing with 26 points, followed by Zhang Fan with 23 points, and Zhang Lin with 16 points. (Zhang Central Station in Beijing, it seems.) Jennifer Lacy would start for Beijing, but would only play 20 minutes and only score eight points with a single rebound. Whereas the three Zhangs mentioned (there's another Zhang I'm skipping) had 16 rebounds between them.
The leading player for Yunan was a foreign player by the name of "Walter希斯蒂格林". I have seen her listed all sorts of way - as "Walt GREEN" for example. She is listed as "foreign aid from the United States, 5, was born in 1983, 1.92 meters, 97.5 kilograms. Have effect as well as the WNBA league in Europe, the defensive player, good rebounds." I don't even have a birth date for her, since the Chinese don't. It's not Tangela Smith, since she was born in 1977. Your guess is as good as mine. In any event, she scored 26 points and led Yunnan. She went 10 for 10 shooting, and didn't attempt a single three point shot. She has to be a power forward or center.
Cao Bette also contribued 19 points for Yunnan.
Up next - the home opener against 2-0 Ningbo on Saturday. Pics will come when I can find them. Most of the Chinese WCBA news is about how great "Mimi Brown" is.
From this translated article, and others, it appears that Extrugasa Vilagarcia is not happy with its 2-2 start.
The club got rid of Victoria Sholokhova and they'll also be getting rid of Meredith Alexis. Supposedly, Alexis claimed to be 1.95 meters tall but when they measured her height, she just barely made 1.90 meters. That's almost two inches shorter than she claimed to be. Alexis's performance - 12 points and 10 rebounds over 55 minutes of play - hasn't convinced anyone at Extrugasa that Alexis is the solution at the "4" spot.
Supposedly, there have been some discipline problems involving Alexis as well. She will be removed "because of its lack of attidue and low sport performance" (this is a translation). In addition, she's one of the more expensive players at Extrugasa.
Here's the problem: how will this affect Tamera Young? Alexis and Young were teammates at James Madison. My suggestion to Extrugasa is that they need to get another American player, and soon, hopefully a rookie to international play. Someone with a quiet, somewhat shy personality with whom Young can bond with. If they don't, they might lose two players.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Ivory Latta shoots over a Mersin defender...maybe Allie Quigley?
Alison Bales watches as Nesibe Uzun (#12) drives past a defender.
We finally have some pictures up from the Turkey Women's Basketball League. The full set is currently on the TBBL page of the combined Turkey Basketball League website.
I can't say how long these pictures will stay up. While you still can, look for your favorite players. Note: there is still one Alison Bales and one Ivory Latta pic that I haven't posted!
WCBA: Yunan (0-1) vs. Beijing (0-1)
Euroleague Group C: Prague (0-1) vs. Ros Casares (1-0) *
Euroleague Group C: Sibenik (0-1) vs. Union Hainaut (1-0) *
Eurocup Group J: Ribera (Italy) (0-0) vs. Extrugasa (0-0) *
TBBL: Besiktas (1-0) vs. Samsun (1-0)
TBBL: Ceyhan (1-0) vs. Pankup (0-0)
LFB (Spain): Olesa (3-1) vs. Ros Casares (3-1)
LFB (Spain): Zaragosa (1-3) vs. Extrugasa (2-2)
LFB (France): Aix-en-Provence (4-2) vs. Union Hainaut (4-2)
PLKK: Utex Row Rybnik (4-4) vs. Inea AZS Poznan (5-2)
WCBA: Beijing vs. Ningbo
* - playoff stats
We also have some photos of Ros Casares vs. Perfumerias at this link. No Erika de Souza photos, though.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Turkish basketball, get ready. There's a new girl in town and she's looking to crack a few heads. Samsun (1-0) took it to last year's TBBL finalists Galatsaray (0-1) by a score of 63-49 at home.
Samsun got of to a fast start, leading 20-6 at the end of the first quarter and leading by as much as 17 points (23-6) in the second quarter, and part of that fast start was Dream center Alison Bales. The rest of the game was a see-saw affair, with Galatsaray closing the score to 31-21 at the half. Seimone Augustus turned on the force for Galatsaray in the third quarter to help the visitors close to 47-43 by the end of the third quarter, but Samsun outscored Galatsaray 16-6 in the final ten minutes for their first win of the year.
The key was that Samsun was hitting their shots and Galatsaray was not. Samsun outshot Galatsaray 48 percent to 30 percent. Galatsaray was outrebounded and made more turnovers, and there was no where that Galatsaray could squeeze back against Samsun.
Julie McBride led Samusn with 24 points, despite turning the ball over eight times. McBride played briefly for the Chicago Sky and is now playing her third year in Turkey. Alison Bales followed with 14 points and eight rebounds. Erlana Larkins, a rookie for the New York Liberty at forward this year, contribued eight points and nine rebounds.
Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx) led Galatsaray with 17 points. Isil Alben scored nine points, and Marina Kress (a Belorussian player) scored seven.
The boxscore is here. Be warned, however, that the minutes played appeared to be way off in some cases. Pictures will come when I can find them.
Ivory Latta, always with a smile.
Undoubtedly, Ceyhan expected a lot out of "Ivory Rochelle Latta" after her first full-time year in the WNBA...and Latta delivered big, scoring 29 points to lead Ceyhan (1-0) to its first victory of the year over Mersin (0-1).
The box score for the game is here. The following key will help you follow Turkish box scores.
SÜre - Minutes
S - Points
2 Sayı - 2 point shots
3 Sayı - 3 point shots
SA - free throws
Rebaund - Rebounds
H: offensive rebounds
S: defensive rebounds
T: total rebounds
BL: blocked shots
The tally for two and three points shots is kept separately in Turkish boxscores. Ceyhan, on the road for their first game, outshot Mersin 45 percent to 39 percent - Latta's 52 percent shooting certainly helped Ceyhan. Both teams had 42 rebounds, making the game a true battle of the boards. However, Ceyhan would turn the ball over more times (23 vs. 17) and at the free throw line, Ceyhand would shoot a miserable 45 percent compared to the 77 percent of Mersin.
So how did Ceyhan win? They probably won from the perimeter. Ceyhan's three point shooting was 11 for 29, whereas Merins was 5 for 17. That's 18 extra points for Ceyhan entirely on the strength of their three point shooting, and that was the key to the game.
Ceyhan took a 35-33 lead into halftime, but fell behind 57-52 after three quarters. They came back to tie the game 76-76 and outshot the home team 10-4 in the overtime period.
Ivory Latta led all scorers with 29 points and had five rebounds and two assists. Michelle Campbell had a double-double for Ceyhan with 13 points and 10 rebounds. (I don't know which Michelle Campbell this is - the one who played for USC? the one who played for Rutgers?) Hulya Özkan added 14 points.
Charel Allen (Sacramento Monarchs) would only add eight points. Tiffani Johnson, the ex-Tennessee player and cousin of Ivory Latta only scored six points but had 13 rebounds.
For Mersin, Allie Quigley, formerly out of DePaul University, led all scorers with 19 points. Olympia Scott (Phoenix Mercury and WNBA player since 1998) had 9 points and 11 rebounds for Mersin. Sariye Gokce had 14 points, and Mistie Williams (Houston Comets) picked up only 3 points in nine minutes of play.
Pics will be added when they can be found.
P. S. Rebecca corrected me regarding Olympic Scott's active status. "i haz a post, but i broked it."
Saturday, October 18, 2008
...that "Jennifer Rashid" is Jennifer Lacy. This article talks about Jennifer's performance, and shows us a picture of "Jennifer Rashid" that I think you'll recognize.
Also...wasn't it weird that there were five games involving Dream players this Saturday, and they went 1-4?
With Bourges and Tarbes both undefeated, Union Hainaut (4-2) were looking to remain in third place in the Ligue Feminine de BasketBall all by themselves. Instead, they were outscored in the fourth quarter which allowed home team Clermontois (3-3) to steal an 85-75 victory at home.
The boxscore of the game can be found here.
It was once again the case of a team being outshot on the court - Clermontois shot 46 percent compared to the 40 percent of Union Hainaut. Once again, a team that won in the Euroleague on Wednesday loses to a non-Euroleague team on Saturday.
It was a tale of two halves - Union Hainaut had a comfortable 53-38 lead at halftime. But in the second half, it was all Clermontois. But by the end of the third, Union Hainaut only led by one, 63-62, and Clermontois outscored Union Hainaut 23-12 in the final quarter.
Union Hainaut was able to win the battle of the offensive boards and the battle of total rebounding. They turned the ball over more, however, 15 times to Clermontois's 11 times. Furthermore, Union Hainaut sent Clermontois to the line 27 times, and Clermontois shot better from the free-throw line as well.
For Union Hainaut, it was a coming out for Tiffany Stansbury. Stansbury had a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Clémence Beikes was Hainaut's second scorer with 12 points and 7 rebounds.
Chioma Nnamaka scored 10 points, shooting 4 from 5. However, she was one of two players for Union Hainaut who would foul out, the other being Sabrina Palie.
Claire Tomaszewski led Clermontois with 20 points. Claudia Das Neves added 19 points, and Emma Randall - an Australian player - had 18 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double.
Up next for Union Hainaut: Aix-en-Provence, which is also 4-2 on the year after a 68-67 win against Mondeville on the road. This should be a great game.
Pics will be up when I can find them.
After four straight losses, Rybnik's (4-4) season had headed into a talespin, and they would have to go to (3-4) Toruń, which was looking to get its head above water. Down 57-45, Rybnik turned it up in the fourth quarter and managed to break a four-game losing streak by winning 67-64.
Rybnik recovered its shooting touch, outshooting Rybnik 45 percent to 34 percent. Rybnik would need that shooting. They could only match Toruń on rebounds (33-32, Toruń) and Toruń led in offensive rebounding 11-5. Rybnik's free throw shooting was also horrible, shooting only 57 percent to Toruń's 78 percent.
The decisive moment in the game - Rybnik starting the fourth quarter with a 13-0 run. Rybnik wanted to win this game, and they did win.
Nine Rybnik players would actually take the floor, but only six of them would actually score. The lion's share of the scoring was done by Rybnik's three American players.
Kasha Terry led all players with 16 points and six rebounds. Jia Perkins scored 14 points, six assists and had eight steals in the game. LaTangela Atkinson had eight points and seven rebounds. Elżbieta Międzik and Nataliya Trafimava each had 10 points for Rybnik.
Sheena Moore, a graduate of UNLV in 2006, scored 15 points and six assist. Jacqueline Moore, who might be a Canadian player, scored 13 points. Monika Krawiec added 14 points for Toruń.
The game boxscore is here.
Rybnik will play Poznan (2-5) at home in Rybnik next Saturday. When I find pics, I'll post them.
Extrugasa (2-2) had a chance to come home and establish themselves in the league. Instead, it was Ibiza (2-2) that got a chance to fight their way to .500 as Extrugasa lost a low-scoring game at home, 56-44.
Why was it such a low-scoring game? Becasue both teams shot horribly. Ibiza only shot 38 percent - but Extrugasa shot only 25 percent. Agggh. Ibiza beat them on the boards as well, and at least matched Extrugasa on offensive rebounds. Extrugasa had one more turnover than Ibiza as well.
Extrugasa went to the free throw line more times, but only shot 68 percent. Ibiza hit 87 percent of its free throws, giving both teams 13 free throw points and negating Extrugasa's advantage.
Leading Extrugasa players was Tamera Young with 10 points. It took 17 shots (11 FGA, 6 FTA) to make those 10 points. Young's shooting was emblematic of Extrugasa's shooting. She was the only Extrugasa player to score in double digits, but it appears that she's still having trouble with the dribble, turning over the ball five times. Sara Gomez Ferreiros shored eight points and five rebounds. Meredith Alexis only scored two points in 10 minutes.
As for Ibiza, Anna Gomez Igual and Silvia Morales Martin scored 10 points each. Sequoia Holmes, a rookie forward for the Houston Comets, only scored two points in 20 minutes for Ibiza.
Boxscore for the game is here. I'll post pictures when I can find them, but I haven't found a single picture of Extrugasa yet. I'll keep looking.
Extrugasa will play Zaragosa (1-3) next Saturday.
Perfumerias knocks off one of their traditional rivals, Ros Casares.
Perfumerias (2-2) suited up only seven players this game, and they needed that week's vacation. Ros Casares (3-1), coming off winning a Euroleague game on Wednesday, had to travel on the road and took the loss by a score of 91-86.
Perfumerias outshot Ros Casares 51 percent to 44 percent. Normally, Ros Casares is a powerful rebounding team with Erika de Souza on the squad, but Perfumerias matched them on the boards 35-34. Both sides had an almost even number of turnovers.
At the charity stripe, Perfumerias was 27 for 32 wheras Ros Casares shot only 13 for 19. Ros Casares can usually overpower most teams, but I suspect that the Euroleague game on Wednesday simply drained Ros Casares.
Looking at the the quarter per quarter score, Perfumerias led 44-42 at the half. In the third quarter, Ros Casares hit a wall and fell behind 66-54. They appeared to have scrambled back in the fourth but couldn't overcome a 15-point deficit, Perfumerias's maximum lead in the game.
Erika de Souza was able to shoulder her share of the load. She scored 24 points and 16 rebounds, a double-double, shooting 65 percent from the floor. Laia Palau Altes scored 16 points and had three rebounds. However, only three players scored in double figures for Ros Casares. Delisha Milton-Jones scored only 6 points and fouled out in the fourth quarter. Roneeka Hodges scored zero points.
Perfumerias only dressed seven players - but two of those players were Le'coe Willingham and Michelle Snow. Willingham scored 18 points, joining Anke de Mondt for the best scorer for Perfumerias. Michelle Snow scored 11 points and had 12 rebounds, the only Perfumerias player to have a double-double.
The box score is here. Ros Casares will play Olesa (3-1) on Saturday. Pics will be added when I can find them.