Thursday, December 31, 2009
In addition to the Pleasant Dreams blog, there is also the Dream Diary, the official Atlanta Dream blog. Arminite Price helps us ring in the New Year:
I met with the Shot Doctor the week before Christmas and it went great. I am supposed to meet with him again before the season.
Until next time Fans…
Love ya and Go Dream!
I hope that the Shot Doctor is the cure for all ills, real or perceived.
Women Talk Sports has asked its members to come up with the “Best of ‘09”, the best moments in women’s sports in 2009. I’ve had some difficulty in completing this example for two reasons:
1) Real life. Normally, real life isn’t something to be condemned. We all want as much of a real life as possible, the alternative being several orders of magnitude worse. However, this month might be the month when Real Life (all caps) has made the most demands on my time. I don’t believe that I’ve ever abandoned the blog for 10 days before, and trust me, it wasn’t because I was somewhere on a Caribbean shore drinking a glass of orange juice on a sandy beach. November and December have been months of encroachment – good encroachment and bad encroachment combined.
2) A “Dream centric” approach. The problem is that even though I religiously follow the WNBA, I have not only barely kept up with anything going on in women’s sports, I have neglected the entire realm of sports outside of the WNBA and possibly Georgia Tech women’s basketball. If you were to ask me the “Best of ‘09” in women’s sports, I would be at a loss. I don’t know who is leading the LPGA. I don’t know who won women’s singles at Wimbleton. Did North Carolina win another NCAA women’s soccer championship?
You got me, sister. Only so many hours in the day.
On the other hand – I know about the Atlanta Dream. You might have heard of them, you know, that organization where thousands of people meet on weekday nights that completely escapes the eyes of the Atlanta sports media. And I think that I can tell you what the best moments for the Atlanta Dream were in 2009.
1. The acquisition of Chamique Holdsclaw. In their inaugural 2008 season, the Atlanta Dream finished with a 4-30 record, after starting out with 17 straight losses. Undoubtedly, the hope for 2009 was simply not to finish at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Those WNBA fans in it for the long haul thought that the Dream might contend in about five years.
However, the Dream were about to make a bold move. In December of 2008, the Dream traded the 13th draft pick in the 2009 draft to the Sparks for the rights to Holdsclaw. Would she even play? She returned from Poland in February with a bad knee and for many Dream fans, they would believe that The Claw was back when they saw it.
Well, they saw it. And how. Holdsclaw only averaged about 14 points a game, about four points off her career average. She only played in 25 regular season games and injuries limited her effectiveness. However, Dream fans saw flashes of the old Holdsclaw, who might be one of the best players in the WNBA in moving the ball. Rumor has it that Holdsclaw’s presence returned stabilitiy to the locker room after a contentious 2008 season that saw two players (Camille Little and Stacey Lovelace) essentially jump ship.
2. The drafting of Angel McCoughtry. In 2009 it was, “in with the old (Holdsclaw) and in with the new (McCoughtry).” Despite their 4-30 finish, the Dream could at least look forward to securing the #1 draft pick in the 2009 draft. There was much discussion regarding that choice, which would have an immediate impact on 2009.
Should it be Renee Montgomery? Or Marissa Coleman? Or Courtney Paris? No, it would be Angel McCoughtry out of Louisville. McCoughtry managed to lead her Cardinals to the NCAA title game in her senior year, and this got the attention of Dream head coach Marynell Meadors, who was impressed with McCoughtry putting the team on her back. Perhaps McCoughtry could do the same for the Dream.
In Meadors’s universe, rookies – even super-rookies – don’t start. Dream fans were treated to McCoughtry coming off the bench, and when she came on the floor the game of the entire team picked up. The hard part for McCoughtry was to learn not to do too much by herself – not just yet, anyway.
It became obvious that despite any perceived deficiencies in Meadors’s coaching, Meadors knows how to evaluate talent. McCoughtry scored 12.8 points a season and was the only high point of a playoff sweep by the Detroit Shock, averaging 19 points a game over both losses. The question was whether or not McCoughtry would finish in front of DeWanna Bonner. McCoughtry triumphed with a Rookie of the Year Award, was named to the United States Women’s Basketball Team in the off-season and last I heard she was tearing it up in Europe.
The frightening thing? McCoughtry will be better this year than she was last year. I don’t want to put the “game-changer” label on McCoughtry just yet; that might have to wait until 2010.
3. The surprise of Shalee Lehning. Over the course of the off-season, the Dream stocked up. They picked up Carol Ross, formerly head coach at Mississippi, to join the coaching staff. They picked up big time free agents in Sancho Lyttle and Michelle Snow. And of course, they added Holdsclaw and McCoughtry as well.
When Shalee Lehning of Kansas State was drafted in the second round, the fan reaction was “nod pleasantly”. Lehning wasn’t considered a top rank point guard, although she did score high on the Senior Prospects Metric. There was certainly no buzz about Lehning, no hint that she was overlooked – second round seemed a correct assessment. She’d most likely either get cut at training camp, or, if she was lucky, she’d ride the bench.
Then the bombshell went off in June when Meadors announced that popular point guard Ivory Latta failed to make the cut – and Lehning was going to be the point guard behind Nikki Teasley. The sound heard in Kansas was the sound of swear words from Latta fans across Atlanta. Lehning? The Dream’s starter? Realllly?
Oh yes, really. And even though her role seemed limited to pushing the ball into the post, Lehning would become the dream’s starting point guard. Lehning had a devoted following from Kansas State, each of whom became long distance Dream fans. Lehning supporters in and out of Kansas attributed to Lehning the qualities of an athlete out of a story book – soft spoken, saying “yes m’aam” and without any flash, the prototypical Selfless Athlete.
Latta returned when Teasley was dealt to the Shock – but Lehning stayed, and kept her starting role. A severe shoulder separation denied her the chance to go to the playoffs, but she was with the team to the bitter end. 2010 will reveal if Lehning has more surprises for us.
4. The Twin Towers. It seems that if you put two post players together that are each taller than 6’2”, you can call them the “Twin Towers”. I always thought of Ruth Riley and Ann Wauters being San Antonio’s version of the Towers; but Sancho Lyttle and Erika de Souza deserved that name.
Lyttle came to the Dream from the Houston dispersal draft. For Lyttle, who grew up overseas and learned basketball late in life, it seemed that she was following the quick trajectory of a person who was making quantum leaps in her acquisition of basketball knowledge.
As for Erika de Souza, Dream fans were denied seeing much of de Souza in 2009, due to injuries. What they saw surprised them. De Souza, who had come off a grueling season in the Spanish League, and who had the added burden of Euroleague games with Ros Casares, seemed to play with fresh legs every night. Meadors said something to the effect that “she is a beast”, and the Beast from Brazil was born.
The combination of Lyttle and de Souza in the post added two things that the Dream didn’t have in 2008. The first was height – with Michelle Snow as a back-up post, the Dream were the tallest team in the league. The second was toughness. In 2008, Dream opponents could waltz into a combination of Mattera and Lacy and come up with two points; in 2009 opposing teams ended up terrorized.
Lyttle and de Souza made it to the 2009 All-Star Game, their first seasons as All-Stars. Lyttle and de Souza were exactly as important to the Dream’s playoff season as Holdsclaw or McCoughtry were; all of the pieces needed to be there for it to happen.
5. Dream 106, Mercury 76. The Dream were already having a much better season, but there was still talk of the awful 2008 season. The old joke was that one person would say, “last night, the Dream were up 15 points in the fourth quarter” and the response would be “wow! Did they win?”
The Dream’s 106-76 demolishment of the Phoenix Mercury killed the ghost. There would be no asterisk next to this win – it wasn’t as if Diana Taurasi was in jail or Cappie Pondexter was recovering from a bad perm. The Dream blew out the Mercury in the first three quarters, had a 40-point lead late in the game, and near the end the Dream were trying impossible shots just to see if they would go in.
It was the first time that the Dream had not merely beaten a quality opponent – but whipped them. Granted the Dream had beaten opponents before – they beat the Sparks late in the 2008 season while on the road – but sometimes, you can stumble into a win. There was no “yes, butting” the 106-76 victory. One game doesn’t normally prove a season, but this game did. It meant that the rest of the league could no longer count on the Dream being an easy win.
6. Playoff glory. Near the end of the 2009 season, the Dream were managing to hang on to second place – barely – behind the Indiana Fever. Behind the Dream was a pack of barking dogs – the defending WNBA champion Detroit Shock, the Chicago Sky, the Washington Mystics and the Connecticut Sun. (Only the Liberty had played themselves out of contention.)
Near the end of the season one needed a calculator to determine who went where in the post season with what combination of wins and losses. In the 33rd game of the season – just before the final season game – the Dream beat the Connecticut Sun 88-64 to clinch second place and home field advantage in the playoffs.
Then it all fell apart. Shalee Lehning separated her shoulder in a meaningless final game in Washington. The Detroit Shock won easily in Detroit. The Atlanta Dream was bumped out of its home court second game by Sesame Street, of all things. At Gwinnett Arena, Deanna Nolan came back on fire from a first-game injury. The Dream played listlessly, and proved that playoff glory can be fleeting.
Dream fans took the good with the bad. Bad to lose the playoffs – but worse not to even go.
7. Coach of the Year. Head coach Marynell Meadors has been called a lot of things – even by Dream fans – but she’s never been considered Coach of the Year material.
The argument, however, could be made that we’ve never seen Meadors with a good team. Meadors was one of the eight original coaches of the WNBA, and only got two years with the Charlotte Sting before being fired in the middle of the third season. After that, she served at the college and WNBA levels in supporting coaching roles until Ron Terwilliger hired Meadors for another building project in 2008.
Meadors’s 2009 Atlanta Dream won 14 more games than the previous model, and made the playoffs. Even if Meadors were not a good coach, she was a great GM. Perhaps the feeling around the league was that she deserved it more than (relatively) new coach Lin Dunn. Meadors was given the honor of Coach of the Year in 2009, which sets the bar even higher for 2010.
8. The Dream survive. With a bad economy, a disastrous previous season and the Atlanta media treating the Dream as if it were a contagious case of cancer, the Dream’s attendance and gate suffered. Ron Terwilliger, who made his money in real estate, could now longer afford the Dream when the real estate market plunged in the off-season.
The big question was if Terwillger would find a buyer. If he didn’t, the Dream would be dispersed after just two years, the shortest life span of any WNBA team. There was also the threat that the Dream would leave Atlanta and end up in Oklahoma, as Tulsa investors were searching for a team.
The Dream, however, would be rescued. Kathy Betty, the widow of the CEO of Earthlink and a successful businesswoman in her own right, purchased the Dream, guaranteeing the survival of the team to at least the 2010 season. With the Detroit Shock ending up in Tulsa and the Sacramento Monarchs outright folding, the Dream’s survival was a close call.
So from the Pleasant Dreams blog, here's wishing all WNBA fans and Atlanta Dream fans a Happy New Year. "Next year is trophy year!"
Monday, December 21, 2009
As you might have noticed, the frequency of blogging at Pleasant Dreams has slowly but steadily declined. This is because of real life which always finds a way to interfere with blogging. (Can't do both at the same time, you know, until I get paid!)
So, my apologies. And more apologies as we're entering Christmas vacation season. There might also be a reshaping of the blog so that posting becomes less frequent. How this is going to work is going to be tricky...but pay attention to the polls. How the newest set of polls turns out might be a clue as to the future direction of the blog.
Once again, apologies.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Atlanta Dream player Michelle Snow has a new blog up in Beta stage. She posts about her drug-testing experience while playing in Russia Superleague A:
I hold my breath as though that will keep the germs from getting on me. Don't ask me why. I really didn't have the luxury on thinking clearly at this point. I try to make sure I don't touch anything. I am really about to break down and cry. Is this really worth it? Do I need this job that bad? All of a sudden all of my mortgages for my investment properties began to flash. 8 K a month in mortgages alone is enough to make anyone gladly pee in a plastic cup in a moldy bathroom that is literally falling apart. I pee I cry I pee some more. I want to go home!
Wow. As Snow writes later, "I sit there quietly and begin a prayer of gratitude. Thoughts of all the luxuries we take for granted everyday. Things like clean water, toilet paper, life-size brooms, etc."
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Next stop: either the Atlanta Dream, or ESPN.
And this was a lonnnnng blog entry! The complete entry can be found at Dream Diary: The Atlanta Dream Blog:
To give you a little perspective on the magnitude of my injury, Sam Bradford, quarterback for Oklahoma, had a 2nd degree sprain in his shoulder and missed most of his season… I had a 4th degree separation. Doctors say my injury is the equivalent to an ACL tear in the knee. My original plan was to graduate in December from Kansas State and then go to Europe to play in January. It appears that God had a different plan for me.
So I’m sure all of you are thinking what happens now? My priority right now is rehabbing my shoulder. I plan to stay here at KSU to work out and rehab. I’m on schedule as it relates to my progress and we are shooting for me to be completely released to play full contact in February. As of now, my shoulder is recovering nicely. I’ve been out of the sling for almost two months and can do all normal daily activities just fine without noticing my shoulder holding me back.
(* * *)
And what would an entry about Shalee Lehning's graduation be without photographs? The Atlanta Dream website hosts three photos on their website...take a look!
"Secret deoderant. Strong enough for a man...."
Dynamo Kursk 78, K. V. Imperial 52: Dynamo Kursk needed this game to stay alive and hope to go to the Round of 32.
Well, they did it. The preliminary round of Eurocup is over. The 26-point win catapulted Dynamo Kursk to first place in Group H at the end of opening round play.
Dynamo Kursk: 4-2
K. V. Imperial: 4-2
With a 14-13 lead in the first quarter, Dynamo Kursk scored the next nine points and finished the quarter 23-14. By halftime, the lead was 41-22, and in front of the 1000 spectators in Kursk, Dynamo Kursk extended their lead in every quarter. They were never challenged. The only question was whether Dynamo Kursk would ever lead by 30 points at any time in the game - they didn't, but they came close.
Jillian Robbins led Dynamo Kursk with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Sandra Linkeviciene scored 19 points and Ausra Bimbaite added 12. Michelle Snow scored 9 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists in the game.
K. V. Imperial was led by Tanasha Wright with 15 points. Wright is a guard with the Seattle Storm. Neda Duric scored 10 points and Marissa Little (a graduate of North Carolina) had 4 points and 7 rebounds.
(* * *)
The win brings Dynamo Kursk to the next round of Eurocup play. Dynamo Kursk will be paired off against Besitkas in a best of two series.
What does that mean? If a team wins both games, they advance to the next round. If they split the series, then the team having the greatest margin of victory in their win advanced. In short, if Team A loses by five in the first game, they need to win by six in the second to advance.
The first game takes place at the home of the lower seeded game. Dynamo Kursk will play Besitkas in Turkey on January 7, 2010. The second game will be played in Kursk on January 14, 2010.
Kursk is scheduled to play in the Russian League against Chevatka on December 21st. However, Michelle Snow says that she'll be returning home this Sunday. I don't know if this means the end of Snow's participation in Euroball this year, but I'll try to keep you posted.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Here is the tenative schedule for WNBA games this year on ESPN2:
Saturday, May 15: Los Angeles @ Phoenix
Tuesday, May 25: Phoenix @ Tulsa
Tuesday, June 1: Phoenix @ Minnesota
Tuesday, June 1: Atlanta @ Seattle
Tuesday, June 29: Indiana @ Washington
Tuesday, July 6: Connecticut @ San Antonio
Tuesday, July 6: Phoenix @ Los Angeles
Tuesday, July 13: Los Angeles @ Tulsa
Tuesday, July 20: New York @ Connecticut
Thursday, July 22: Los Angeles @ Indiana
Tuesday, July 27: New York @ San Antonio
Tuesday, July 27: Phoenix @ Seattle
Saturday, August 3: Washington @ Atlanta
Thursday, August 5: Connecticut @ Seattle
Saturday, August 7: Minnesota @ Chicago
Tuesday, August 10: Phoenix @ Chicago
Tuesday, August 10: Indiana @ Los Angeles
Saturday, August 21: Chicago @ Tulsa
Saturday, August 21: Los Angeles @ Seattle
(thanks to nickv1025)
Slim pickings until June 29th, when the games come fast. We have five "game day doubleheaders". All in all, that's 19 games, an increase over the 12 games last year. Add the playoffs and things are looking good.
Unfortunately, only two games for the Dream: an away game on June 1st against Seattle and a home game on August 3rd against Washington.
Of course, there's always NBA-TV. And WNBA Live Access....
Thursday, December 17, 2009
(Note: Click on each of the links below to get a game summary, a box score and (usually) a gallery of pictures.)
Perfumerias 70, Pécs 63. Perfumerias won again in Group B to go to 6-2, while the loss sends Pécs to 2-6. Perfumerias can't make it to first place - Krakow will finish ahead of Perfumerias - but if Perfumerias can secure second place it would give them a game against a third-place finisher in the Round of 16.
Perfumerias won each of the first three quarters and maintained the lead. However, Pécs staged a comeback and managed to close the gap to 68-63 with just 50 seconds left. Dalma Ivanyi of Pécs stole the ball and Alexandra Quigley tried a 3-pointer with 18 seconds left - she missed the 3-pointer. Perfumerias made one of two free throws, and Pécs had another chance to get closer but Quigley turned the ball over with 12 seconds left.
For Perfumerias, Le'coe Willingham had 19 points and 12 rebounds and Sancho Lyttle picked up 14 points and 15 rebounds. Perfumerias went to the free throw line 27 times and hit 22 shots. Nicole Ohlde of the Phoenix Mercury had 15 points and 11 rebounds for Pécs and Alexandra Quigley, a graduate of DePaul had 11 points and 5 rebounds. Kelly Mazzante had 8 points and four personal fouls.
Angel's last game in Slovakia?
Good Angels Kosice 72, Rivas Ecopolis 61: Rivas Ecopolis went down to their first defeat this year, leaving only Krakow and Spartak Moscow undefeated in Euroleague play. Kosice, at 4-4, still remains alive in Group C. Rivas Ecopolis has already secured first place, so maybe they didn't fight as hard.
Rivas Ecopolis led on the road 19-16 at the end of the first quarter, and the game stayed tight in the second quarter with a Candice Dupree layup with one second left in the half putting Kosice up 37-33...and in the third quarter, she did it again with a buzzer-beating jump shot tying the game 47-47 after thirty minutes.
Tied 58-58 with 3:42 left in the game, Rivas Ecopolis just ran out of steam, only scoring three points for the rest of the game. Rivas Ecopolis went 1-for-5 in shooting during the remainder of the game. Kosice would score the final eight points of the game.
Candice Dupree of the Good Angels led with 27 points and 12 rebounds, and Angel McCoughtry added 23 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists. Crystal Langhorne of the Washington Mystics led Rivas Ecopolis with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Cathy Joens of the Chicago Sky scored 8 points and 4 rebounds for Rivas Ecopolis.
Supposedly, Angel McCoughtry will be back in the United States in Sunday, unless the Good Angels re-sign her.
De Souza vs. Pondexter.
Ekaterinburg 82, Ros Casares 70: Ekaterinburg and Ros Casares split the season series as Ekaterinburg gets its revenge with a home win in front of 5,000 spectators. Ekaterinburg moves to 7-1 and first place in Group A; Ros Casares falls to 6-2 and second place.
A last second 3-pointer by Agnieszka Bibrzycka tied the game 24-24 at the end of the first quarter. Halfway through the second quarter, Ekaterinburg went on a 12-4 run that helped Ekaterinburg establish a 44-35 lead by halftime. Ros Casares managed to get within four points, 46-42, in the third quarter but were held scoreless for 3 1/2 minutes as Ekaterinburg went on a 13-0 run that essentially won the game. With 3:53 left in the game, Ekaterinburg had a 79-59 lead that saw them through to the end.
Here's how the superstars performed:
Agnieszka Bibrzycka: 16 points, 5 steals.
Deanna Nolan: 12 points for the Tulsa star.
Cappie Pondexter: 16 points from the Phoenix Mercury player on 5-for-7 shooting.
Sandrine Gruda: 12 points, 5 rebounds. Gruda plays for the Connecticut Sun.
Ann Wauters: 10 ponts in 23 minutes for the San Antonio star.
Maria Stepanova: 4 points in 15 minutes.
Svetlana Abrosimova: 4 points in 10 minutes.
Delisha Milton-Jones: 12 points, 8 rebounds.
Elisa Aguilar: 12 points.
Erika de Souza: 10 points, 8 rebounds.
Belinda Snell: 11 points.
Becky Hammon: 7 points.
Janell Burse certainly looks determined.
Krakow 93, Lille Metropole 73. Krakow remains undefeated at 8-0 in Group B.
Krakow scored the first eight points, led by 15 at the end of the first quarter, and were never challenged. Janell Burse led Krakow with 28 points and an astonishing 17 rebounds. Ten of those rebounds were offensive rebounds. Burse shot 11-for-21.
Iziane Castro Marques scored 19 points. For Lille Metropole, Lady Comfort, a graduate of Temple, scored 20 points and eight rebounds. Jolene Anderson, who last played for the Connecticut Sun, scored eight points for the French team.
The new 2010 WNBA schedule is out. Here are the games for the 2010 Atlanta Dream. The full schedule is right here. (If there are pre-season games, they are not listed.)
15: @San Antonio
23: @New York
30: @Los Angeles
11: @New York
12: San Antonio
27: Los Angeles
25: New York
13: New York
Hmm. We have five instances of back-to-back games in different cities. The early part of the 2010 schedule will be tough: out of our first 13 games, nine of them are on the road. Then we get a six-game home stand from June 23 - July 7th which balances that out.
The schedule is 34 games long. The Dream play two games against every team in the Western Conference. This leaves 22 teams to be played against Eastern Conference teams. This gives us four games against each of our five opponents, leaving just two "spare games". The opponents that get extra games are Indiana and Chicago. The extra Chicago game is a home game and the extra Indiana game is an away game, balancing out our schedule.
First game against Tulsa is at home on June 23rd. We open on the road against San Antonio on May 15th and at home against Indiana on May 16th. I'm already looking forward to it.
The president of Brazilian basketball, Carlos Nunez, states that >Iziane Castro Marques does not need to apologize to anyone in Brazilian basketball to join the women's team.
This all happened when Coach Paulo Bassul replaced Iziane from a game against Belarus - late in the game, when Bassul asked her to return, she refused to go back in. Castro Marques has been asked to return to the Brazilian national team, but she states that she refuses to return as long as Bassul is coach.
Bassul's contract has expired. The cBB, the governing body of Brazilian basketball, has not decided who will coach the women's team - Bassul or someone else.
It's very interesting in Brazil.
(Thanks to Bert at the Painel do Basquete Feminino blog.)
John Courant of the Hartford Courant gives us some hints about the 2010 upcoming WNBA schedule.
Sienko said the WNBA plans to release the 2010 schedule by the end of the week. The season will start May 15. The Finals will run no later than Sept. 20. ... The league has not decided if, when or where an All-Star Game will be played, though Sienko said the Sun would be interested in hosting it again. ... The salary cap will drop to $775,000 and rosters remain at 11. ... Free agency begins Jan. 1. Teams can start offering contracts Jan. 15.
According to the 2008 Collective Bargaining Agreement with the WNBA Players Association, the salary cap was supposed to be $827,000. I wonder how this is going to affect players playing in Europe, as most league seasons there wrap up their finals in May.
Armintie Price has a new post up at Dream Diary - The Official Atlanta Dream Blog:
If you didn't know, Price is coaching at Mississippi right now:
The season here at Ole Miss is going well. We lost a tough game on Sunday against ninth-ranked Ohio State by two points. But I do believe games like that will help us in conference play the next two months.
I'll have to catch a few Ole Miss games on TV this year, just to find Armintie Price.
I asked that question at the beginning of the year. And now, we have an answer from NorthJersey.com:
The Nutley girls basketball program is confident it has found its leader.
First-year head coach Dana Wynne has the experience and expertise necessary to lead the Raider girls back to basketball prominence. The newly-anointed head coach graduated from Seton Hall University, where she played ball for four years, before being drafted into the American Basketball League in the second round. From there, she made the jump to the WNBA, where she played for the Sacramento Monarchs. Her journey to becoming the NHS coach included playing overseas hoops for eight years in Israel, Turkey, Portugal, Greece and Korea. Wynne coached at [Seton Hall] for three years and now, she’s proud to wear the whistle for the Maroon Raiders.
Glad to see that Wynne's still in the game. Unfortunately, no picture from the article.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Holdsclaw and Orender at tonight's game. From @chold1 on Twitter.
There was a STH event at tonight's Georgia Tech-Oregon game. A lot of WNBA connections there. Paul Westhead was coaching the Oregon Ducks - you might remember him as the coach of the 2007 WNBA Champion Phoenix Mercury if you don't follow men's basketball.
Also at the event were WNBA President Donna Orender, the new Dream owner Kathy Betty, and Chamique Holdsclaw. Since I've had the chance to meet both President Orender and The Claw, I wanted to track down Betty - but she was always where I wasn't. Dang.
Betty gave a speech at halftime. The first advice I'd give the owner is to hold the microphone closer to your mouth - coliseum acoustics don't pick up soft-spoken sound that well.
As you can guess, I was at the game. I'm exhausted. This will probably be the last blog post tonight.
According to Kevin Pelton at the StormTracker Blog, free agency has been pushed back to mid-January. Teams may begin negotiating on January 15th; new contracts can be signed on February 1st.
I wonder what necessitated such a change? The good news is that Lauren Jackson will be back next year.
Mike DiMauro of TheDay.com thinks so:
I'm going to get in trouble for this. But then, no more trouble than a few years ago when I wrote it the first time. The single biggest reason this state has lost its passion for the UConn women is because the team isn't as white as it used to be. UConn fans, who are generally whiter than most country club members, preferred the days when Sue, Shea, Svet, Jen, Rebecca, Diana and Kara were vanquishing the heathens.
This doesn't say they didn't love Asjha, Nykesha and Renee.
Just not as much.
Ow. I don't know what to think about that. The argument was that the downturn in the economy couldn't be blamed, since fans seemed to find the money to attend "...the Yankees, Red Sox, Celtics, Cavaliers, Giants, Patriots, Kentucky basketball, Florida football, Texas football, Kansas basketball and on and on and on," according to DiMauro.
However, sports attendance has really taken a hit across the board in the United States . Baseball, basketball, hockey, NASCAR are all suffering. The Courant.com has their own set of comments about the issue. Most of the commenters expressed dissatisfaction with the increasing cost of attending games, the level of competition that Connecticut plays in the off-season, and the university's indifference to its long-time ticket holders.
I'm not saying that race might not be a part of it. I just don't see it as driving the engine.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
A Twitter message from Angel McCoughtry:
@angel_35 cant wait to get back to America on sunday
When Angel McCoughtry was initially signed, she was signed for seven weeks. Beyond that depended on Kosice, their Euroleague performance, and club finances.
Even though the Good Angels are 3-4 in Euroleague and could use a few wins, there's a break in the Slovakia Extraliga season and the Good Angels are 16-0. I can't find evidence, but it looks like the Good Angels won't be resigning McCoughtry. At least she gets to come back home healthy.
From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Still, Betty has some tough financial obstacles to overcome, which is why she’s looking for other investors to join her. She would not disclose the troubling financial numbers, but I’m told the Dream lost about $3 million last season.
Attendance dropped to 7,500 per game last season, from 8,500 during the Dream’s inaugural season. That means the team enjoyed a very short honeymoon period, even though there was a dramatic improvement on the court — not a good sign.
Just to break even, the team will need to average about 8,500 paying fans per game. That will not be easy. Veteran sports reporters and editors I talked with doubted that it could be done, given all the competition from the major sports.
I'm assuming that that $3 million is a net loss, because I figure it has to cost between $3 million and $5 million just to run the dream. Those numbers aren't good, because my understanding of net losses for the WNBA are somewhere between $1.5 million-$2.5 million a year.
Someone (I don't remember who) posited that attendance never reflects the current season, but the previous season. In which case, the big drop in attendance might have been due to the 4-30 record in 2008. However, there is also the sophomore slump associated with the team no longer being a novelty.
All I know is, I'm going to be shortening that gap this year every way that I know how.
P. S.: Aaron's, hmm? Uniform sponsorship?
Monday, December 14, 2009
It would be a lot easier for me to take a side if
a) I could get a free trial to look around and see if the entirety of the women's basketball content was worth subscribing to, rather than just taking ESPN's word for it, and
b) if there were an easy way to bow out if I enrolled and decided some time later that I didn't wish to pay for it anymore - reading comments from former ESPN Insider subscribers on the web, it seems that ESPN makes the process as difficult as they can.
Although, if you choose ESPN Insider, they will send you some brightly colored toilet paper called ESPN: The Magazine. (It's not good if you're allergic to certain dyes, though.)
The dispersal draft for the Sacramento Monarchs was held today. By the time they got down to the Dream, Chelsea Newton was still available. However, the Dream passed and Newton ended up with the Storm.
Incidentally, Chelsea Newton's PER last year was 9.91, the kind of PER for a player hanging on the edge of the league. (Shalee Lehning's PER was 8.73, incidentally) I think that the Dream were wise to pass up on a player who has scored 5.1 ppg and 1.6 apg in a five-year career.
During the Maggie Dixon Classic, head coach Pat Summitt of the Tennessee Lady Volunteers and head coach C. Vivian Stringer of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights were asked their opinions regarding the troubles of the WNBA.
What you got were two very different answers.
"It's disturbing and hopefully we're not going to lose our league. I think we have to rally for the cause and...it really bothered me when I heard it and it still does. I think that's why all of us in the women's game need a voice."
"There was a time that we played for the love of the game. I am actually going to give you two answers on this. One is, I think that maybe parents will back off, and maybe kids will begin to play the game for the right reason. I say that because you also notice, coincidentally, during this time that we have had the WNBA success that there has been a whole lot of transferring. There is whole lot of kids that are coming in here thinking that they are all that, always looking for the program that allows them to have the mat and to let them do their thing. The one thing that has always been true about women's athletics is that it was always for the love of the game. You played and gave everything you possibly can just because you enjoyed playing team basketball together. And then it gets to the point that its "Where's mine?" because I got to make sure that I am in the draft, so you begin to lose this team thing and you begin to wonder what are you looking at? So, I am sad in a way because we need a lot of opportunities for young women....So if we are smart, the athlete will realize that at the end of the day you had better focus on academics, that's what it was always about before. And then I think the by-product is if you happen get an opportunity to play on the professional level, that's good, but the other side is what athletes in college don't realize is that there is two full teams of outstanding athletes that are floundering somewhere in the States because they don't have a job ...You shouldn't be in school to play this sport as a professional. I think that is the biggest mistake you can make. It should be for the reasons that we used to tell athletes all the time, but you begin to change your conversations, and you begin to say what everyone else says-you may have a chance to play in the WNBA."
I don't quite know what to make of Stringer's answer. Part of Stringer's complaint was her bemoaning that women's college basketball is no longer as "pure" as it supposedly was.
Of course, women's college basketball is still much purer than its male counterpart, in the sense that big-time men's basketball seems to be more about moving product and making cash for its participants than it does about honoring the student-athlete or glorifying the goal of the liberal arts to create a well-rounded enlightened person. Women's college basketball doesn't have the popularity to attract the big money. When it does, women's college basketball will lose its "purity" the same way that other college sports like college football lost their purity. (I think college football lost its purity so long ago that it doesn't even remember what purity is anymore. A team of honest student-athletes would be seen as something quaint, belonging perhaps to Division III.)
The only other definition of purity of sport comes (maybe) from second-wave feminism, which didn't want to ape patriarchal institutions if parallel female institutions would create the same kind of jerks that the male-dominated institutions created. Sport - at least as it existed in the 1970s - was highly suspect. Amateur, non-competitive communal sports were the ideal of second-wave feminism.
I don't think that C. Vivian Stringer is talking about this kind of purity - I believe that C. Vivian Stringer is about as competitive as you could possibly be, and if she could make Rutgers the #1 basketball school in the country she'll be just as nasty as Woody Hayes if she has to do it. (The same goes for Summitt - big-level women's basketball coaching is a dog-eat-dog world, where the mice nibble holes in iron.) Stringer can claim that the primary goal of the women's athletic program at Rutgers is to change her charges into enlightenment women, but repeating it doesn't make it so. If Stringer can't win games, she'll face the fate of every college coach. Winning might - and should not be - the number one priority of the players, but for coaches winning takes a much higher priority.
I suspect that a large part of Stringer's complaint comes from sour grapes. Epipphany Prince abandoned her senior year at Rutgers in hopes of making money for her impoverished family by playing in Europe - and perhaps, with an eye to making herself more viable as a WNBA propect. If the WNBA didn't exist, then Prince might have stuck around a bit longer in New Jersey. Stringer would like to have athletes that didn't have one foot out the door, so to speak, and that didn't make unspoken demands on her program because they needed enough minutes and enough playing time to satisfy WNBA scouts. Quite understandable.
(There are some who say that what Stringer was saying was that players should keep in mind that a professional career might not actually pan out and that they should spend more time seeking a degree. In which case, my response is "then she should have said that instead of what she actually did end up saying.")
My question: why wouldn't Stringer think that players wouldn't go to college for the primary goal of playing professsionally? (*) If a person - male or female - has skill in playing basketball, if a person loves playing this game more than doing anything else, and the opportunity comes for that player to be paid for that sport - then why wouldn't you expect getting paid to become a player's ultimate goal? Why wouldn't you expect players to seek careers playing the sport they loved? It sounds almost as if Stringer is asking her players to exchange power for purity, which has historically been a bad deal all around.
Part of this might be what Bob Corwin and others call "My Girls Syndrome". Girls' and women's basketball is not so much a continuum of sport as it seems to be a collection of fiefdoms, each one fiercely protective of its territorial prerogatives. "You can support pro basketball, but not if college basketball has to give something up." "You can support college basketball, but not if high school basketball has to give something up." "You can support high school basketball, but not if the AAU has to give something up." And so on, and so forth, forever. It's why it's called "My Girls Syndrome" - emphasis on 'MY'.
My belief is that there is only one thing that is going to kill My Girls Syndrome - greater mobility between the various levels of women's basketball. Most of the mobility goes in one direction - towards college basketball coaching. WNBA coaches and players want to be college coaches, but college coaches don't want to coach in the W - why give up job security and a nice, fat paycheck? Until the WNBA really starts to pay off, expect college basketball - and its coaches - to exert pressure to keep the college women's basketball pure...of any interference from competing interests.
(*) Insert rant about how there is no minor league system for basketball, about the paternalistic excuses used to tie the NCAA to professional sports, etc.
Euroleague: Ekaterinburg (6-1) vs. Ros Casares (6-1)
Euroleague: Perfumerias (5-2) vs. Pécs (2-5)
Euroleague: Krakow (7-0) vs. Lille Metropole (1-6)
Euroleague: Good Angels Kosice (3-4) vs. Rivas Ecopolis (7-0)
Eurocup: Dynamo Kursk (3-2) vs. K. V. Imperial (4-1)
LFB: Perfumerias (10-1) vs. Hondarribia-Irun (3-7)
LFB: Real Canoe (4-7) vs. Ros Casares (10-1)
PLKK: Krakow (8-5) vs. Brzeg (8-5)
TBBL: Mersin (7-1) vs. Galatsaray (6-2)
Good Angels Kosike 92, Basket Steel Kosice 67: The Good Angels raised their record to 16-0 in the Slovak Extraliga on Sunday. Angel McCoughtry is not listed anywhere in the box score, so I wonder why she didn't play. Some of the information on the Good Angels website indicate that there's a flu going around, so I wonder if that stopped her. Lucia Kupcikova led with 18 points and Erin Lawless, a graduate of Purdue, scored 15.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Who reigns supreme?
Perfumerias 79, Ros Casares 78: Ros Casares's unbeaten start comes to an end as Perfumerias goes on the road and beats Ros Casares on a last second shot. Ros Casares hasn't lost a Spanish League game at home in 19 months. Both teams are now tied at 10-1 at the top of the Spanish league, and it might become anybody's game. With Rivas Ecopolis beating Zaragoza, there are three teams tied for first at 10-1.
A boxscore of the game is here. A gallery of pictures can be found here.
According to feb.es, Perfumerias got out to the hot start, leading 22-13 after the first quarter, with Le'coe Willingham and Sancho Lyttle leading the way. But the "Clockwork Orange" of Ros Casares came firing back in the second quarter, taking the lead 37-36 with two minutes left at halftime. An Amaya Valdemoro 3-pointer put Ros Casares in the lead 42-38 at halftime.
In the third quarter, the war was on. Ros Casares was held to two points over four minutes but Sancho Lyttle had been stopped by Ros Casares as well. The third quarter ended 56-55 in favor of Ros Casares, but games don't stop after 30 minutes. Anna Montañana and Becky Hammon helped take the score to 62-55 in favor of Ros Casares. However, Perfumerias came right back and the game was tied 75-75 with one minute left.
Sancho Lyttle got sent to the free throw line and sank two. Becky Hammon answered back with a 3-pointer and Ros Casares led 78-77 with seven seconds left. Perfumerias got the ball down low to Willingham, who scored to put the game up 79-78 Perfumerias. Laia Palau tried for a last second shot for Ros Casares, but it didn't go it.
It was an amazing game for both Atlanta Dream players. Eeven though Becky Hammon led Ros Casares with 16 points, Erika de Souza had 14 points, 12 rebounds and 4 steals. However, she fouled out in the fourth quarter. Amaya Valdemoro also had 14 points. For Perfumerias, Le'Coe Willingham had 22 points points but Sancho Lyttle had 19 points and 14 rebounds. Silvia Dominguez had eight assists for Perfumerias.
Polkowice had their cake and ate it, too.
Polkowice 69, Krakow 57: Fans from Polkowice gave their team a standing ovation as Polkowice wins the second of the two regular season games against Krakow. Polkowice jumps to 11-2 on the regular season with Krakow falling to 8-5 - apparently, Euroleague success doesn't translate to the Polish league.
A gallery of game images is here.
The game was very physical. The first half was close - 35-32 in favor of Polkowice - but the second half was much more decisive. Polkowice cut off Marta Fernandez of Krakow and Krakow slowly faded away.
Daria Mieloszyńska led Polkowice with 24 points and 11 rebounds and Natalia Trafimava added 16 points. Janelle Burse had 15 points and 7 rebounds and Ewelina Kobryn had 15 points and 6 rebounds. Iziane Castro Marques only played for 17 minutes and only scored six points.
Factoid: The game started out with the presentation to a big cake to the CCC company, which has sponsored the Polkowice team for the last twenty years. You can see pictures of the cake in the gallery.
Mersin 75, Canyaka 64: Mersin advances to 8-1 in the Turkish league with a win over Çankaya University. Çankaya drops to 3-6 in league play.
It only took two quarters for Mersin to extend the lead to 22-11 on the road against visiting Çankaya University. Ivory Latta had a good second quarter and helped spread the lead to 43-28 by halftime. Çankaya University was unable to put up a challenge in the second half. Visiting Çankaya won both of the remaining quarters, but it wasn't enough to overcome that halftime deficit.
Megan Frazee of the San Antonio Silver Stars led Çankaya University with 25 poitns and 15 rebounds. Josephine Owino, formerly out of Union College, had 14 points and 7 rebounds, but also had six turnovers. Ivory Latta led Mersin with 14 points, followed by Saziye Ivegin with 12 points and Barbara Turner with 12 points and 7 rebounds.
(* * *)
No information on the remaining game, Good Angels Kosice vs. Basket Steel Kosice.
Today was the Fall 2009 commencement ceremony for Kansas State University. According to @atlantadream on Twitter, Shalee Lehning has graduated Kansas State University. When she was drafted by the Dream, she still needed a few more credits to graduate. She eschewed going overseas right away in order to finish her last few courses and get her degree. Congratulations!
I can't find any specific information on her major. The last I heard, it was broadcast jouralism. Who knows, in a few years it might be LaChina and Shalee behind the microphone at Dream games?
Friday, December 11, 2009
At WNBA.com, Brian Martin writes about the loss of the Sacramento Monarchs - and oddly enough, the article is linked to the WNBA.com front page:
After winning the 2005 title, the Monarchs were unable to repeat as WNBA champs in 2006 and over the next three years their level of play hit a decline as they were bounced from the playoffs in the first round for two straight years before enduring a difficult final season in 2009 that saw them finish at the bottom of the standings.
And even though the Monarchs will not play another WNBA game, their impact will be felt by Sacramentobasketball fans for years to come. They remain the only team the city has had that could be called a champion.
Thanks for the memories.
Maybe the WNBA is feeling some guilt for letting themselves be caught unawares.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Nicole Ohlde vs. Janell Burse
Krakow 74, Pécs 71: Wisla Can-Pack Krakow continues its amazing Euroleague run, remaining undefeated in Group B today with a narrow 74-71 win against Pécs in Hungary.
Krakow's win guarantees that the Poles will advance to the round of sixteen. Only Rivas Ecopolis and Spartak Moscow remain undefeated in Euroleague.
Krakow scored the first six points of the game and lead 26-19 in the first quarter, but Pécs continued the struggle. They closed to 36-35 with the first of two free throws by Allie Quigley (she missed the second one) and were only behind 42-39 going into halftime. Down 48-43 with 7:33 left to go, Pécs went on an 8-0 run to take the lead.
However, Pécs could never get the lead above two baskets. Shots by Ewelyna Kobryn and Janell Burse tied the game at 67-67 with 2:52 to go. Nicole Ohlde of Pécs found Dalma Ivanyi for the next basket to retake the lead at 69-67, but Kateria Zohnová hit the only 3-pointer by Krakow in 12 attempts to go up 70-69 with 1:41. Zsófia Fegyverneky of Pécs closed the gap to 72-71 with a basket, but a shot by Janell Burse with 9 seconds left put Krakow up 74-71. With the final possession, Pécs tried four times for a shot - one shot was blocked by Burse - but nothing would fall in.
Despite outrebounding Krakow 40-28 and despite 18 offensive rebounds from the Hungarians, Pécs fell short. Krakow went 17-for-22 at the free throw line.
Anna Vadja had 18 points and 6 rebounds for Pécs. Nicole Ohlde of the Phoenix Mercury had 17 points and 8 rebounds. For Krakow, Marta Fernandez was the top performer with 25 points. Janell Burse hit double digits with 13 points and 6 rebounds, and Iziane Castro Marques went 4-for-5 with 15 points.
Jillian Robbins of Dynamo Kursk looks for the hoop.
Dynamo Kursk 82, Targoviste 70: Dynamo Kursk kept its Eurocup postseason hopes alive with a win over Targoviste, a Romanian team. The Russians won 82-70 at home in Kursk in front of a crowd of 1200.
Kursk got off to a slow start, but an 11-0 run in the first quarter helped Kursk to a 25-16 lead after one quarter. The Russians were able to build their lead to 14 points at one time in the second quarter, and went into halftime with a 48-37 lead. For most of the rest of the game, Kursk led in double-digits.
The win helps Kursk a lot. With the win, here are the standings in Group H in Eurocup:
K. V. Imperial: 4-1
Dynamo Kursk: 3-2
With only the top two teams of each of the 11 groups guaranteed a place in the round of 32, Kursk would need to win against K. V. Imperial next week to be assured to advance. (They play at home.) If Kursk loses at home, they have to pray that Samsun wins on the road in Romania, and failing that, they have to hope that they're among the top ten teams that don't finish second in a group.
Does Marynell Meadors winning the WNBA Coach of the Year award give her a cushion? New post up at Swish Appeal called "The Invulnerable (?) WNBA Coach of the Year".
You might recognize the author. ::smile::
A long time ago, I wrote a post on Pleasant Dreams called "Does Any Dream Player Have a Shot at 5000 Points?". I'm going to revisit that post, as pilight keeps his projections page updated.
He uses a predictive tool modeled after Bill James's "Favorite Toy" to estimate a player's chance of reaching an important statistical benchmark. Let's look at the Dream players he currently has on his list:
Has a 54 percent chance of reaching 5000 points scored.
Iziane Castro Marques
Has a 36 percent chance of reaching 5000 points scored.
Has a 15 percent chance of reaching 6000 points scored.
Has an 11 percent chance of reaching 6263 points scored. (The current WNBA career record.)
Has a 3 percent chance of reaching 8000 points scored.
Has a 30 percent chance of reaching 3000 rebounds.
Has a 20 percent chance of reaching 3307 rebounds. (The current WNBA career record.)
Has a 5 percent chance of reaching 4000 rebounds.
Has a 29 percent chance of reaching 750 steals.
Has a 4 percent chance of reaching 1000 steals.
Has a 27 percent chance of reaching 3000 rebounds.
Has a 12 percent chance of reaching 3307 rebounds. (The current WNBA career record.)
Has a 9 percent chance of reaching 500 blocks.
Erika de Souza
Has a 3 percent chance of reaching 3000 rebounds.
Has a 6 percent chance of reaching 500 blocks.
Has a 7 percent chance of reaching 750 steals, based on her single-year of output.
Visit pilight's page to see how well your favorite players stack up.
Mike DiMauro of the TheDay.com out of New London, Connecticut writes that the problem with the Sacramento Monarchs was its absentee ownership:
The WNBA did not - and does not - need owners who feign interest in their franchises. It's still a problem. Some owners supported shrinking roster sizes from 13 to 11 last season, a move that crippled teams beset with injuries.
Some owners are responsible for the recent decision, as reported in the Seattle Times, to limit coaching staffs to one head coach and one assistant.
Let's be clear on this: Owners who spend more time cutting jobs than finding new and creative revenue streams (as some franchises did last summer) should get rid of their franchises forthwith. No, really. Get out. It's OK. Clearly, you tolerate your teams at best. So dump them. And then don't let the doorknob leave a lasting impression.
I don't know if I'm willing to throw out all co-owners of NBA and WNBA teams from the WNBA just yet, but I can see DiMauro's point.
I've been reading Terry Pluto's "Loose Balls" - the history of the old American Basketball Association - and I recommend it strongly to anyone who loves the WNBA. The problems of "marginal sports" are many, and the ABA was definitely a marginal sport despite all the money poured into it. Teams faced a bevy of problems that had to be immediately dealt with.
The advantage of having an involved owner is that these problems can be dealt with promptly. Unless the owner has devolved his or her entire authority to the general manager, major decisions have to always go "one step up" and the subordinates are forced to wait for an answer from on-high. With involved owners, the answer comes back right away; with uninvolved owners, it might take a while to get permission or authority or whatever is needed. It's the difference between changing customer policy at Bob's Copy Shop and changing customer policy at a Kinko's franchise.
It wouldn't surprise me that the Maloofs were so uninvolved as WNBA owners that they didn't know that folding the franchise in December would cause a serious problem. And since they didn't care about the WNBA that much anyway, they didn't care about the consequences of their actions. In which case - yes, it is better that that Maloofs are no longer involved. The Maloofs are making some noise about owning a WNBA franchise again if the Great Recession lifts; let's hope that's just thunder without lightning.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Box scores, play-by-play stats and galleries are all at the links below.
Erika de Souza has no problem with Quanitra Hollingsworth.
Ros Casares 75, Vilnius 60: Today's loss in Lithuania puts Vilnius one game away from elimination - if they lose at home against Galatsaray next week, that's it. However, they played well against Ros Casares (6-1) today - they held El Ros to 14 points in the first quarter and actually led 8-7 with 3:50 to go and tied 16-16 two minutes into the second.
Then, Ros Casares went on a 12-0 run and never lost the lead. The last time Vilnius was within single digits was early in the third quarter. Renee Montgomery scored 15 points to lead Vilnius and Quanitra Hollingsworth had 12 points. (Chioma Nnamaka, formerly of the Dream, scored 4 points and 7 rebounds in 35 minutes). As for Ros Casares, Amaya Valdemoro led with 15 points. Valdemoro is just coming off an injury. Erika de Souza only had three points, but she had six rebounds.
Sancho Lyttle makes more money.
Perfumerias 81, Gospic 79: This one went right down to the wire. With one second left on the clock, Olexandra Gorbunova of Perfumeria rebounded a missed 3-pointer by Anna de Mondt to give Perfumerias the home win and keep them tied for first in Group B at 5-2. Gospic falls to 1-6.
Gospic was looking for an upset and both teams played close for the first two quarters. Gospic managed to lead by a couple of baskets (at least) throughout the third quarter but Perfumerias was going to be hard to beat on their own court. Down 64-60 in the fourth, Le'coe Willingham put the team on her back, scoringfive points of an 9-0 run that gave Perfumerias a 67-64 lead with 6:48 to go.
Perfumerias led 77-71 with 3:04 minutes to go, but Gospic followed with six points to tie the game with 1:36 left. With the game tied at 79-79 with 1:09 left, Sancho Lyttle and Andja Jelavic exchanged missed field goals, setting up Anna de Mondt's missed 3-pointer and Gorbunova's putback.
Sancho Lyttle had a monster game: 24 points and 15 rebounds for Perfumerias. Le'Coe Willingham had 19 points for the Salamancans. As for Gospic, Carla Thomas scored 24 points and Andja Jelavic scored 28 points.
If you look carefully, you can see Angel McCoughtry, but Essence dominates the shot.
Bourges 83, Good Angels Kosice 71: Kosice's winning streak is broken in France in front of a crowd of 3000 as Bourges and Kosice end up in the middle of the pack in Group C at 3-4 each.
Bourges took control early in the first quarter and never looked back, leading 42-35 at halftime and expanding their lead to 64-50 after three quarters. Good Angels Kosice never got back to within single digits. Bourges went 18-for-22 at the free throw line, which proved to be the difference.
Essence Carson led Bourges with 22 points. Angel McCoughtry led the Good Angels with 20 points and seven rebounds, shooting 9-for-13 in the game.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
As you might have noticed, blogging has been slow going. Part of the reason has been a change in my responsibilities at work, which frees up less time for blogging.
For about a month, this was mighty depressing. "I'll never be able to update as much as I used to!" And then I looked at some of the links of the left hand side of the page and I concluded, "You know, I might not be able to post as frequently as I used to, but I'm still doing quite well."
I'll post when I can, and not worry too much about it otherwise.
Sacramento Monarchs: 1997-2009
The WNBA made the announcement. There will be a dispersal draft held on December 14, 2009 for the Sacramento Monarchs. The Monarchs - or at least this version of them - are dead.
From the WNBA announcement:
A Dispersal Draft involving Sacramento Monarchs players will take place Monday, Dec. 14, WNBA President Donna Orender announced today. Orender also announced the league will seek to add a team to the Bay Area for the 2011 season.
“A number of potential investors have come forward and expressed interest in relocating the Monarchs to the Bay Area, a market that we continue to see as desirable,” said Orender. “Ultimately, we made the judgment that we would not be able to complete a transaction in time for a successful new-market launch in 2010. We will therefore focus our energy on adding a team in the Bay Area for the 2011 campaign.”
I wouldn't be expecting a Bay Area team arriving for some time. Frankly, the WNBA needs to stay at 12 teams and it needs to stop expanding. The current league franchises need some age behind them, and I don't want to see a 16-team league for some time to come.
So this is it. It's over, and the fans of Sacramento have my condolences. You got a championship, you got to see Yolanda Griffith and Ticha Penicheiro, but you also got shafted by the Maloofs. You got the best and you got the worst. I'm just sorry that a great franchise has to go in such a manner.
NBA Commissioner David Stern is always pushing product. There's a new arena being built in Shanghai called the Mercedes-Benz Arena, according to the Los Angeles Times. NBA International President Heidi Ueberroth says:
Preseason NBA games and other basketball events such as WNBA games will be held at the Mercedes center, Ueberroth said. "This is absolutely an NBA-level arena."
My question: can the WNBA afford the cost of transport, or will those games be played during the WNBA regular season?
Note: This was written before the Day 19 announcement
Hope still springs eternal on the Monarchs coming back to the WNBA in some form. Meanwhile, the Maloofs appear to have bigger problems than just the Monarchs - they might be getting out of the basketball business for good:
From, of all places, the New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan blog:
But they are long gone from that list and the Great Recession is reshaping their empire and their lives. The Maloofs recently sold the Sacramento Monarchs, a team in the Women's National Basketball Association. And word is growing louder that the family's once-high flying NBA franchise--the Sacramento Kings--will soon go up for sale. Sports insiders say a struggling NBA franchise like the Kings can lose $30 million a year.
The Maloof's New Mexico Coors business is also being put up for sale. It looks like the word is that "Everything Must Go" except for the Maloofs gambling empire.
(Also: If the Kings were losing $30 million a year, it makes ownership of a WNBA franchise look like an act of absolute genius. I hope that is a gross loss and not a net loss!)
It could be that the Maloofs tried to hold on to everything as long as possible before panic set in and the "great sell off" began. If the Maloofs knew what was coming, they should have at least given notice before the end of the season so that other investors could be found. If there's anything the Maloofs should be blamed for, this is it.
Euroleague: Ros Casares (5-1) vs. Vilnius (0-6)
Euroleague: Perfumerias (4-2) vs. Gospic (1-5)
Euroleague: Pecs (2-4) vs. Krakow (6-0)
Euroleague: Bourges (2-4) vs. Good Angels Kosice (3-3)
Eurocup: Dynamo Kursk (2-2) vs. Targoviste (3-1)
LFB: Ros Casares (10-0) vs. Perfumerias (9-1): Erika de Souza vs. Sancho Lyttle
PLKK: Polkowice (10-2) vs. Krakow (8-4)
Slovakia Extraliga: Dobri angeli Kosice (8-7) vs. Basket Steel Kosice (15-0)
TBBL: Canyaka (3-5) vs. Mersin (7-1)
(Russian Superleague A is off next week.)
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Jayda Evans over at the Seattle Times claims that the Monarchs are toast:
Very reliable sources said the WNBA was unable to secure new ownership for Sacramento, so that team will dissolve and there will be an expansion draft.
Okay. I think this is the second reporter who used a "very reliable source" to state that there was going to be an expansion draft. Here's my question: why can't the WNBA announce that? Or are they hoping that the Marion Jones story and David Stern's quote that women might play in the NBA will bury the bad news?
Because let's face it. It is bad news. Franchises folding are always bad news. Why can't the WNBA just be up front about that? Why not just get the bad news out of the way instead of giving fans false hope? If right now isn't the right time to announce that, then when is the right time?
I'm hoping that the reason that no such thing has been announced is that there is still some slight hope that the Monarchs can be relocated. And the Monarchs don't necessarily have to relocate in the West. Another eastern team would be fine. The point is to show that a WNBA franchise has value. If it doesn't, the WNBA is simply too large and we need to stop talking about new franchises opening anywhere for a lonnnnnnnnng time.
This culture of secrecy in the WNBA is as annoying as hell.
Ros Casares 104, Gran Canaria 71. Ros Casares remains undefeated after 10 games in the Liga Femenina with a victory on the island of Gran Canaria. El Ros won every quarter, led 51-41 at halftime, and continued to extend their victory. Amaya Valdemoro led all players with 26 points. Erika de Souza had the game's only double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Gran Canaria was led by Jaklin Zlatanova with 21 points. The loss knocks Gran Canaria down to 3-7 for the season.
Perfumerias 78, Vigo 67. This was a tight, low-scoring game in the first half. Perfumerias (9-1) led 11-9 after the first quarter and only 29-28 at halftime. A good third quarter gave the team from Salamanca the opportunity to pull away and get the home win.
Sancho Lyttle had an amazing 21 rebounds, 14 points, and 7 steals for Perfumerias in the win. Vigo was led by Evelina Guneva with 19 points. Real Canoe falls to 7-3. A translated box score is here.
Krakow 81, Lider Pruskow 67. Krakow jumped out to a 24-17 lead in the first quarter and led 66-40 after three quarters. Whether Lider Pruskow staged an honest comeback or whether Krakow coasted in the fourth quarter is unknown. Iziane Castro Marques scored 20 points for Krakow in the win, as Krakow climbs to 8-4. Lider Pruskow, at 3-9, was helped by Ashley Shields who contributed 12 points.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
A long time ago, some thought that Chamique Holdsclaw would be "the next Michael Jordan" - whatever that meant. SLAM Magazine has put the article "Chamique Shall Inherit The Earth" up on its website. The article was written between 1998 and 1999, during the NBA Lockout.
The future and its opportunities are mind-boggling. The fat contract and shoe deal are the easy parts. Her talent, success and grace make her a perfect candidate for the same kind of high-profile endorsements Jordan secured when he entered the league. Apple pie. Ice cream. Fresh air. Hell, she could be a one-woman Fourth of July parade. “The team understands what’s ahead for her,” Jolly says. “Sometimes, she’ll say, ‘That player has a nice shoe contract.’ We look at her like she’s crazy and tell her, ‘You’ll have a contact twice as big as that.’” It’s true. Sheryl Swoopes and Rebecca Lobo may have dabbled in the world of big basketball business, but Holdsclaw will break the bank.
That’s why last January’s meeting with Michael Jordan had significance. The Lady Vols were in Chicago to play DePaul, and a visit to MJ’s restaurant was arranged. “She was very shy at first,” Summitt says. “It took her a few minutes to relax. She was quiet, had a soft smile and a little giggle. That’s Chamique.” The meeting didn’t last too long, maybe 15 minutes, and as it ended, Jordan, ever the good company wonk, told the Lady Vols they had to go, because “he couldn’t stand looking at all the Adidas gear,” Holdsclaw says, laughing.
Of course, a year from now, those could be replaced by The Claw, or whatever other clever name a shoe company can concoct for Holdsclaw’s signature shoe. In 10 years, some hot young player might be ushered into ’Mique’s office for an audience and come away with the same sense of wonder. It’s all there, waiting. The fame and fortune. The championships. The adoring fans. The headaches. Trying to compare Chamique Holdsclaw to any woman who came before her is fruitless. She is the future of women’s basketball. She is the groundbreaker.
Clay Kallam, writing for Slam Online, wonders if the Maloofs folding the Monarchs is a sign of their future plans involving the Kings:
What it says about the Maloofs and the Kings is pretty obvious: Sacramento can wave bye-bye to its only major league sports franchise come next summer. Clearly, by folding the Monarchs, the Maloofs have given up on ever passing a measure in support of a new arena, and without a new arena, even in the best of the times, they simply will not have the resources to make it the NBA.
Kallam postulates that:
* Only a new arena can save the Kings.
* In Sacramento, a new arena depends on the voters.
* The Maloofs just tossed away part of the women's vote, and therefore
* The Maloofs know that they can never win a ballot issue on an arena in Sacramento, meaning that the Maloofs will either give up the franchise or be shopping it elsewhere.
As for the thought of no new arena being passed in Sacramento, my comments are: "Good: someone came to their senses!". I've been sick and tired over the last twenty years of big time owners (and big-time sports) squeezing money out of the voters of large cities for new facilities with the threat of "give us what we want, or we'll move". That money could have been spent on police, or for medical care, or for schools but it goes into the pockets of some billionaire in exchange for the promise of "job creation" - promises which have proven never to pan out. If any team in Atlanta - the Falcons, the Hawks, even the Braves - tried that "prove you appreciate us by funding a billion-dollar arena, or we'll leave", my answer would be "Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out." Big-time owners talk about how cities must learn to appreciate their big-time sports - but during crunch time, the relationship always seems to be one-sided.
This is one of the reasons I don't care much for NBA ownership of WNBA franchises - the second the dual-franchise owner wishes to plead poverty, he talks about how he's going to have to fold the WNBA franchise. The Simons in Indianapolis were talking about folding the Fever all of last year, in an attempt to plead poverty so the city of Indianapolis would get them an arena deal as sweet as the one given to the Colts by the city.
Maybe, as Kallam writes, it is the end of the old franchise game, where a franchise was always a money winner because you could always expect a group of people with more money than common sense to purchase one. Neither people nor cities have the kind of money to play that game any more. It was a game that was always played at the expense of urban communities. And if the NHL and NBA eventually face contraction, color me unconcerned.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Sports Business Daily (no link, paywall) says - from its excerpt on Google News - that the situation of the Sacramento Monarchs was the #1 item on the owners' agenda on Thursday. As I write this (1:30 pm on Friday) I'm hoping that this works itself out for the better - but I suspect that the conclusion the owners come to is "how can we spin this so that it doesn't reflect negatively on the W?"
Meanwhile, the Sacramento Bee is trying to determine why no one is going to see the Kings, the former "brother" team to the Monarchs in the NBA. Jason Jones gives the Monarchs as a possible reason why attendance is down:
Reason: Some fans are upset the Monarchs of the WNBA surprisingly folded last month. Not attending Kings games is a way for fans to show their displeasure.
Fact or fiction: Monarch fans are angry the team is gone. That anger only intensified when the Monarchs 2005 Championship banner, 2006 Western Conference title banner and retired jerseys for Ruthie Bolton and general manager Jerry Reynolds were removed shortly after the team folded. But the Monarchs had also seen a dip in attendance last season while finishing with the league's worst record (12-22). The Monarchs averaged 7,744 fans at Arco, below the league average of 8,039.
Hell, if the ownership disrespected me by taking the WNBA banners out of ARCO and with their reason that they folded the Monarchs to concentrate on the important team...yeah, if I were a Monarchs fan I'd be damned if I attended a Kings game, either.
I strongly suspect that December 9th gathering of former Monarchs ticket-holders at ARCO is going to be a Maloof beg-fest. Hopefully, 'Narchs fans won't fall for it.
Also note on the WNBA.com home page in the "Around the Web" section - they link to the article "Monarchs' Days Look To Be Numbered". Is the WNBA trying to send a message?
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Dynamo Kursk 91, Samsum 63: Michelle Snow did not play (I believe due to injury) in Dynamo Kursk's whalloping of Samsun in Turkey. Dynamo took the lead early on and were never seriously challenged. Dynamo Kursk moves to 2-2 in Group H in Eurocup; Samsun falls to 0-4.
At the They’re Playing Basketball blog, Sue F. reports a rumor:
There's a rumor that Fred Williams is the main candidate for the Los Angeles Sparks coaching job. That would be a good choice.
Fred Williams, in case you didn’t know, is an assistant coach on the Atlanta Dream coaching staff. Since each team may only have one assistant coach next year, this would probably move Carol Ross up to the successor position.
Counting the day that we first heard the news, it's been two weeks since the Maloofs announced suddenly - and surprisingly - that they were folding the team. This left the final fate of the Sacramento Monarchs in limbo. The hope has been - and remains - that the team can find a landing place somewhere in California .
We now have some news from Mel Greenburg of the Philadelphia Inquiry - the granddaddy of women's hoops reporting.
Sometime in the next 24-48 hours (it's 4:30 a.m. in the East) the ultimate fate of the Sacramento Monarchs may be revealed, though it could take a little longer depending on ongoing developments involving the franchise in the land of tremors.
In the most recent episode of the 2005 league champions (missing banners from the Arco Arena aside), the Maloof family had decided to jettison the WNBA sister of the Sacramento Kings to focus more on their NBA property and the WNBA announced negotiations were going on with unidentified persons to move the Monarchs to the Bay Area.
The results of those efforts should be known momentarily because the owners' meetings will be held Thursday in New York -- in fact they all broke bread together Wednesday night while Temple was having the time of its life in nearby Piscataway, N.J., producing another stunner on the Scarlet Knights in the current series that began in 2001.
If tea leaves are to be read, one can speculate that the news of the Monarchs' future may not be promising because by now if a deal was in place leaks would begin flowing in the direction of what is left of newspaper sports departments in San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, or one of the 'tweeners.
I'll bet money the WNBA owners know the answer to this question, or will find it out today. I can't imagine the owners not telling their coaches, and their coaches not telling their staff, and...you get the drift. I think we'll definitely learn something in 24-48 hours. My guess is that the news will be released on late Friday if it's the kind of news you want to bury.
Undoubtedly, the release of info on the 3rd-4th-5th of December is also a necessity because the ARCO staff have called a meeting with the Monarchs ticket holders on the 9th. The ticket holders will be either called to:
a) be thanked, and asked to renew their tix for the 2010 Monarchs season,
b) be thanked for their long-suffering patience, or
c) be thanked, and asked to purchase Kings seasons tickets, or be given some sort of Kings discount.
Let's consider "c" for a minute. Look, live and let live with the NBA. But what is the payroll of the Kings? $61 million dollars? That payroll is about 600 times the payroll of the (hopefully not former) Monarchs. To ask former Monarchs season ticket holders to support the Kings because there's some perception that the Kings need the money is adding insult to injury.
If I was working for ARCO/the Maloofs and I were asked to make such a foolish plea to Monarchs ticket holders, I'd only agree if I were surrounded by a phalanx of California State troopers.
UPDATE: Michelle Smith passes on news from an NBA source:
A Bay Area source said the deal with potential new owners has "fallen through" and there's no evidence that anyone else has stepped up to rescue the team.
This is very unhappy news, if it is true.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Iziane Castro Marques forces her way through Perfumerias.
It was a double meeting: not only would Iziane Castro Marques and Sancho Lyttle get a chance to say hello, but Perfuermias hoped to avenge its upset loss in Salamanca to Krakow at the beginning of the season. However, it looks like the first game was not an upset as Krakow won the two-game series against Perfumerias at home, 62-58 in front of 1800 Polish fans.
The win advances Krakow to 6-0 in the ten-game first round of Euroleague. As the top four teams of each six-team group advance to the second round, Krakow is assured of advancing further into the post-season. The game report, box score and a small gallery are all here.
The first quarter stayed close with Perfumerias leading 18-14 at the end of ten minutes. At one point in the second quarter, Krakow tied the score but Perfumerias took a 32-27 lead into halftime. Up 41-34 with 4:31 left in the third quarter, Perfumerias faces a run by Krakow, who closed to within three points at the end of the third quarter with 1:46 left, 44-41. Both teams combined for three turnovers over the rest of the quarter, and the score remained 44-41 in favor of Perfumerias going into the fourth.
Liron Cohen of Krakow opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer to tie the score at 44-44, and the fight was on. Perfumerias could only remain at best a couple of baskets ahead, and Krakow tied the score again with 3:12 left, 54-54 on a jump shot by Marta Fernandez. A shot by Iziane Castro Marques put Krakow up 57-56 with 2:16 left, and Krakow went 1-for-4 from the field for the rest of the game as Krakow remained calm and won the game.
A look at the four factors of the game:
Field goal shooting: Krakow 40 percent, Perfumerias 33 percent. Both teams made 23 field goals. Krakow was 5-for-16 from 3-point range; Perfumerias shot 3-for-21.
Turnovers: Perfumerias 15, Krakow 21. It's surprising that Krakow won with so many turnovers.
Offensive rebound percentage: Perfumerias 34 percent, Krakow 27 percent. However, it seems that Perfumerias couldn't get the ball into the basket.
Free throws: Krakow 11-for-13, Perfumerias 9-for-13.
Looking at the game performances:
Liron Cohen: 16 points, with 4-for-10 shooting from 3-point range.
Marta Fernandez: 19 points, 4 rebounds. 6-for-11 shoting.
Janell Burse: 16 points, 12 rebounds for the only double-double of the game. Burse went 7-for-13 from the field.
Iziane Castro Marques: 9 points in 22 minutes of play. One article stated that Iziane played "with the stubbornness of a maniac gave projections of prepared positions."
Le'coe Willingham: 14 points, 8 rebounds.
Sancho Lyttle: 12 points, 8 rebounds.
Olga Podkovalnikova: 10 points, 7 rebounds.
Krakow 62, Perfumerias 58: Krakow moves up to 6-0 in Euroleague after beating Perfumerias for the second time this year and secures a spot in the second round of Euroleague. Krakow, a late substitute for CSKA Moscow, is showing they can hang with the big girls.
An Iziane Castro Marques field goal with 2:16 left in the fourth put Krakow up to stay. Perfumerias falls to 4-2 in Group B as Krakow sweeps them. Sancho Lyttle had 12 points and eight rebounds for Perfumerias.
Kosike 75, Sopron 58: Sopron was held to just eight points in the fourth quarter as the "Good Angels" of Kosike took the lead and never let go. Angel McCoughtry has really turned this team around as Kosice wins its third straight Euroleague game. She was the high scorer in Euroleague today with 24 points and 5 rebounds. Kosike rises to 3-3 and Sopron falls to 2-4 and fifth place.
Ros Casares 78, Riga 54: Okay, so El Ros didn't win by 80 points against Riga this time. Riga made it close with 44-41 in the third quarter until Ros Casares pulled away. Erika de Souza had eight points in 21 minutes of play, Becky Hammon was the high scorer with 18 points. Ros Casares remains tied for first with Ekaterinburg at 5-1; Riga falls to 0-5.
Hortencia Marcari, the head of the women's department of the governing body of Brazilian basketball, didn't just come to Europe to visit Erika de Souza. She has other players in her sights as well.
From Fabio Balassiano's Bala Na Cesta Blog:
Hortencia: Then I went to Valencia to talk to Erika and the Franciele. I really like Fran, and told her that she needs to prepare, train separately (ability, fitness, shooting, dribbling and stuff). The girl has great potential and can lead others (to become a "four" more open perhaps). I did this because I want to keep a closer relationship with the girls. Can I tell the girls, talk, exchange ideas. So grow. Also plan a trip to see the Iziane in Poland. It is to happen this year or next year. I even take the Janeth. If you get it right, take the coach of women also.
It looks like Hortencia is going to visit Iziane in Poland. (The greatest Brazilian players are known only by one name.) Every obstacle is now out of the way from Iziane Castro Marques returning to the Brazilian national team. Coach Paulo Bassul - whom Iziane hated - will probably be fired soon. The only remaining problem might be Iziane's stubbornness.
(Thanks to Bert at the Painel do Basquete Feminino blog!)
New news from poster JRae over at RebKell:
so they have invited Monarchs STHs to come to a sit down with one of the ladies from the Monarchs Arco org and have an open discussion about the Monarchs on Dec 9th...im tempted to video tape this cuz it might turn into a riot LOL j/k. but still, a bit weird. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
This could be lots of things. It could be an offer for Monarchs fans to come support the new team in the San Francisco Bay . It could be where the WNBA tells the Monarchs fans, "There won't be a Monarchs anymore, stop asking." It could be where public ownership of the Monarchs is offered.... (Don't hold your breath on the last one.)
December 9th. I'll be there in spirit, at least!
Dream owner Kathy Betty has written a letter to fans about the Renewal Packs for 2010 season tickets - with some interesting information.
Early Bird $50 Credit: As a special, limited-time offer, if you renew your season tickets by December 31, 2009, you will receive a $50 credit per seat to use as you wish. You can use the credit to buy additional regular season or playoff tickets, make a donation to allow the Dream to send underserved children to games next season, or you can receive a rebate.
Crash the Court: The players will ensure an exciting performance on the court. And I want to ensure an electric atmosphere in the arena and give you a chance to get as close to the action as possible. I have opened up additional seats in the lower level reasonably priced at $149 a seat - the same price as the 200 Level seats - so come on down and move your seat today, or pick up a few extra seats for friends. These seats will fill up fast so don't miss out.
I think that the Crash the Court program is a great idea. Let's get an electric atmosphere at Philips by moving everyone up close and personal - and make sure that the enemy bench can feel the breath of the fans on the backs of their necks.
The Sacramento Bee reports that despite the folding of the Monarchs, there are still some women's pro sports that are able to survive: the Sacramento Capitals of World Team Tennis are still active for their 25th season.
Have you ever visited a WNBA article on the web and in the comments some jerk exercises his wish fulfillment by claiming "Is the WNBA still around?" Well, when I read that article I said, "Is World Team Tennis still around?"
My comment above, however, was simple ignorance and not hate. I knew that World Team Tennis existed because I remembered there was a team called the Philadelphia Freedom in the 1970s - Elton John wrote the song of the same name in the 1970s, I believe, as a theme song for that World Team Tennis team. I also vaguely remember that Billie Jean King was involved.
In this case, I'm very happy that World Team Tennis is still around. Co-owner Lonnie Nielson comments:
"What happened to the Monarchs was tough," Nielson said. "If any Monarchs fans like watching women's sports, this is their opportunity. Jump on board." However, you'll have to wait until July 2010 for your next World Team Tennis game in Sacramento .
The other item of note is that news about the Sacramento Monarchs is no longer on the WNBA's front page (as we all know), but news about Marion Jones is. Posted is an item from the Associated Press. An interesting quote:
WNBA spokesman Ron Howard did not immediately return a phone message late Monday.
Well, WNBA...it is your website. And you've quoted the entire article. So are you saying loudly and boldly that you have no plans to say anything? A little too coy for my tastes.