Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Even young, Jackie was a potential baller.
Going through my 1996-97 American Basketball League media guide, I was surprised to find the name of Jackie Joyner-Kersee as a player for the Richmond Rage.
For those of you who know who Jackie Joyner-Kersee is, this might be a surprising fact. It was to me. What the hell was Jackie Joyner-Kersee doing playing on an ABL team?
As it turns out, Joyner-Kersee was a good basketball player. She was probably one of the best all-around athletes there was in women's sports, excelling in track, volleyball, basketball - Jackie was another Babe Zaharias. She put all of her eggs in one basket, which was track.
As for her basketball career, Joyner-Kersee led her team to a state championship. She played basketball for UCLA and scored more than 1,000 points in her career and was named one of the 15 Greatest Players in UCLA basketball.
The problem was that Jackie Joyner-Kersee was excelling at basketball in the early 1980s. “I played four years at UCLA but I didn't think (women's) basketball was going anyplace at the time" is a direct quote from Joyner-Kersee herself.
By the time she tried playing basketball in 1996 for the Rage, she was 34 years old. Asked how she did, she said "Not great, I was too old." Having devoted her career to track and field, she was just too far behind to catch up. When she first played in a competitive game for the Rage, she hadn't played competitively in 11 years.
According to the New York Times, nerves and asthma were the benchmarks of her short lived pro basketball career. She was to the Rage what Michael Jordan was to baseball. She was forced to leave in the middle of the season because of injuries.
Ah, what might have been if Jackie Joyner-Kersee has been just a little younger. Ah, what might have been if Lisa Leslie had signed with the Richmond Rage as their #1 draft pick. Ah...what might have been.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Abiola Wabara tries to turn the corner on Shay Doron.
Ivory Latta's season was almost over - down 0-2 in a best of three series, so if they lost today, it was all over. Playing on their home ground, Maccabi Ramat Hen avoided the three-game sweep with a 71-63 victory.
The box score is here.
It was a hard-fought win for Ramat Hen as according to safsal.il, Ramla played some of their worst basketball. Elizur Ramla led 16-13 after the first quarter, but were held to just nine points in the second as Maccabi Ramat Hen took a 34-25 lead into halftime. In the third quarter Ramla whittled away at the lead to close the gap to 52-47. However, Macccabi Ramat Hen managed to win both the fourth quarter and their first game of the semifinal series.
Despite the win, Ramat Hen only hit 34 percent of their field goal attempts, compared to a 39 percent success rate for Elizur Ramla - neither team was hot. Ramat Hen won the battle of rebounds 42-35. Ramla would turn the ball over 17 times and send Ramat Hen to the free throw line 27 times, where they would hit 23 of their shots.
Ramat Hen usually doesn't get much help from its bench. However, Ramat Hen picked up 19 points from the bench compared to only nine points for Elizur Ramla.
Elsewhere, Electra Ramat Hasharon moved to the finals, sweeping Raanana Hertzeliya in three games.
Ayana Walker: 14 points, 13 rebounds, 4 steals.
LaToya Pringle: 11 points, 14 rebounds.
Ivory Latta: 11 points, 4 steals. 3-for-13 shooting, but 5-for-5 at the free throw line.
Shay Doron: 11 points. Fouled out.
Sheri Sam: The Detroit Shock's Sams scored 21 points with 4 rebounds and 4 assists.
Tamara Moore: 10 points and 11 rebounds. 5 turnovers.
Ina Gourevitch: 11 points. The former Houston Comets player would foul out.
Here is this week's schedule of games. The big games on the table are the Israel Women's semifinals, where Ivory Latta's Maccabi Ramat Hen team is down 0-2 in a best-of-three series, and where Tamera Young's team starts the Latvian finals - she still has the Baltic League finals tournament to play in mid-April.
Israel Women's D1 Semifinals: Maccabi Ramat Hen vs. Elizur Ramla (Game 3)
LSBL Finals: TTT Rīga vs. SK Cesis (Game 1)
Israel Women's D1 Semifinals: Elizur Ramla vs. Maccabi Ramat Hen (Game 4)
LFB (Spain): Extrugasa (5-19) vs. Perfumerias (18-6)
LFB (Spain): Hondarribia (12-12) vs. Ros Casares (23-1)
LFB (Spain): Ibiza (13-11) vs. Estudiantes (5-19)
Greek Women's A1: Paleo Faliro (15-9) vs. Kastoria (0-24) - Kastoria dropped out of the league after two games
LSBL Finals: SK Cesis vs. TTT Rīga (Game 2)
Sunday, March 29, 2009
In all truth, the game was meaningless. The top two teams from Pool A - TEO Vilnius and SK Cēsis - along with the top two teams from Pool B (Arvi and TTT Rīga) were guaranteed places in the Final Four regardless of the outcome of this game. However, there was a matter of pride - the year before TEO Vilnius met SK Cēsis in the BWBL championshipo, and lost. Unfortunately, the outcome was the same as the Lithuanians won 71-50.
These four teams will meet April 18-19th in a single-elimination semi-finals tournament. On the 18th, TEO Vilnius will play TTT Rīga to determine the first finalist, and Arvi will play SK Cēsis to determine the other finalist. On the 19th, the final standings will be determined - the winners of the day before fight for first place vs. second place, and the losers fight for third vs. fourth.
The box score is here. Click "View match statistics" to see the boxscore.
It was a painful game for SK Cēsis, which started slow and stayed slow. They were down 23-19 in the first quarter and lumbered to halftime down 41-23. SK Cēsis put up a slight struggle in the third quarter to close to within 13, with the score 53-40 at the end of thirty minutes. However, TEO Vilnius would hold SK Cēsis to just 10 points in the fourth quarter to secure the win.
TEO Vilnius hit 48 percent of their attempted field goals compared with 34 percent from SK Cēsis. TEO Vilnius out-rebounded SK Cēsis 41-28, and when you lead in both shooting and rebounding, that pretty much determines the game.
Kristine Karklina: 14 points, 8 rebounds.
Tamera Young: 10 points on 5-for-10 shooting.
Kristen Mann: 8 points, 4 rebounds on 4-for-14 shooting.
Crystal Langhorne: 19 points and 10 rebounds from the center from the Washington Mystics.
Gintarė Petronytė: 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Aušra Bimbaitė: 10 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists.
I'm sure pictures will be supplied soon.
Usually, the bottom feeder teams in the Liga Feminina are known for not fighting very hard. With Olesa (15-9) to visit, Estudiantes (5-19) knew that it have a difficult battle ahead of it - and this time, they were prepared to fight it, taking Olesa into overtime before falling by just two points, 89-87.
The box score is here.
The game was definitely a back-and-forth affair, with the home team putting up a fight in the first quarter to take a 21-16 lead. Olesa begin to climb back in the second quarter, closing the Estudiantes lead to just two points at halftime, 44-42. In the third quarter, Olesa began to pull away, holding Estudiantes to just 10 points and leading 58-54 after thirty minutes of play. Estudiantes managed to score 26 points in the fourth quarter and tie the game 80-80 at regulation. Home field advantage, however, wasn't enough for Estudiantes, which fell in overtime.
Olesa hit 45 percent of its field goal attempts compared to 42 percent for Estudiantes, but Estudiantes took more attempts. Estudiantes kept up with Olesa on the boards and won the offensive rebounding battle 14 to 10. Olesa was actually able to keep turnovers down to just eight for the entire game, including the overtime, and they made six more points on free throws (24 vs. 18) than Estudiantes, going to the line 33 times.
Laura Herrera Boxo: 17 points, 7 rebounds.
Brooke Wyckoff: 12 points, 9 rebounds. Fouled out.
Nikki Teasley: 13 points, 3 rebounds in 26 minutes of play. 5-for-9 shooting, including 3-for-7 from 3-point range.
Thyra Liljestrand: 14 points.
Olga Podkovalnikova: 13 points, 4 rebounds.
Cristal Kelly: 7 points, 5 rebounds. The Sacramento Monarchs forward fouled out.
Talk about low key. I didn't even know such a thing existed. "Thank you, Greek press". If it weren't for sites like Womba I never would have found this. Womba promises to have a entire new site dedicated to women's basketball; I hope it happens.
Among other things, you will see:
* Jennifer Derevjanik busting a pitiful move.
* Teana Miller showing her how it's done, Greek-style.
* Scientific proof that Katie Gearlds might be able to steal, but dunking is another thing entirely....
(P. S. The "This is a robbery!" theme from Pulp Fiction is kind of cool.)
If you're a team in the Greek Women's League, making it to the semifinals should be easy. With only two games left and fourteen teams in the league, it appears that two teams - Siemens and Kastoria - have given up the ghost. (Siemens forfeited for the first time last week against Paleo Faliro.) Another team, Aris Holargou, has resorted to playing its under-18 team after the adults went on strike and Aris Holargou is now losing by around 70 points a game. I suspect that next year, there will only be between 10 and 12 teams playing women's basketball in Greece.
Last year, the top eight teams made it to the playoffs and Paleo Faliro (15-9) has clinched at least sixth place. Paleo Faliro hoped to climb to fourth place, but didn't pay enough attention to Ano Liosa (14-10) right behind them. Paleo Faliro would take to the road but lose to Ano Liosa 79-75 in overtime after fighting back valiantly.
The box score is here.
Ano Liosa must have remembered the last time these two teams played, where they were held to just one point in the first quarter. Ano Liosa had something to prove, and Paleo Faliro was down 24-13 at the first quarter and behind 37-25 going into halftime. Paleo Faliro came on strong to start the second half and by the end of the third quarter, Paleo Faliro was only down by one, 51-50. Paleo Faliro managed to tie the game in regulation 66-66, but home team advantage was too much to overcome.
It's times like this when I'll say it again - I hope that someday there will be some decent coverage of Greek women's basketball. Right now, I should be happy that it exists at all.
Both teams shot well. Ano Liosa hit 48 percent of the field goal attempts, compared to 45 percent for Paleo Faliro. In rebounding, Ano Liosa would hold a slight 39-34 edge. Both teams turned the ball over at the same rate. What truly hurt Paleo Faliro was the fact that they sent Ano Liosa to the line 34 times, where Ano Liosa scored 22 of 34 times. Three Paleo Faliro players would foul out during the game.
Meg Tierney: 22 points and 12 rebounds from the Oregon State graduate.
Kari Koch: 14 points and 12 rebounds. I believe that Koch is a graduate of Missouri State.
Alexandra Anogianaki: 12 points, 6 rebounds.
Teana Miller: 25 points, 10 rebounds. However, Teana would foul out.
Karen Mourd: Only 2 points, but 7 rebounds and 4 assists.
Kristin Haynie: 17 points, 3 rebounds, and 6 assists.
The 2009 Shooting Stars have been chosen by the Atlanta Dream organization. It looks like this years Shooting Stars will include 19 people - 14 women and five men.
It also appears that last year's Stars have full bios whereas the newbies just have pictures.
I don't know much about the Shooting Stars, but I know that they work very hard at what they do. I've caught a few of them before a game, practicing their routines. Add to that having to make public appearances, and not getting paid very much (if at all) for it. If you're at Philips Arena during a Dream game, instead of going to get another hotdog when the Shooting Stars show up, I suggest you sit back and watch the routines - trust me, you won't need an "applause" sign to be clapping.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Going into the day's game, there were four teams at the bottom of the league fighting to avoid relegation: Gran Canaria, Extrugasa, Estudiantes and Zaragoza. At least one of those teams would be guaranteed a win - Gran Canaria beat Zaragoza 69-44. Estudiantes will play tomorrow. This left Extrugasa (5-19) on its own to try to defeat one of the better teams in the Liga Feminina, 15-9 San José. The 90-59 result was undoubtedly not what they expected.
The box score is here.
This game might have spelled DOOOOOOOM (to quote Rebecca) for Extrugasa. Extrugasa's final two games are against Perfumerias...and Ros Casares. There's still hope that Extrugasa might surprise, but it's highly unlikely.
What happened? Clearly, Extrugasa started cold and stayed cold. They lost every quarter of the game. San José led 28-12 after the first quarter and led by twenty points at halftime, 44-23. San José was able to hold off any Extrugasa run and extended their lead to 31 points by the end of the game.
San José hit 48 percent of their attempted field goals, including an 11-for-26 shooting day from behind the 3-point line. Extrugasa only hit 37 percent of their field goal attempts. Both teams put up almost the same rebounding numbers. San José would only turn the ball over 10 times in the game.
Shay Murphy: 23 points, 6 rebounds for the Washington Mystics player.
Kimberly Butler: 13 points, 6 rebounds. Butler graduated from Oregon State.
Shona Thorburn: 10 points for the ex-Seattle Storm Player.
Taru Tuukkanen: 8 points, 8 rebounds.
Iziane Castro Marques: 23 points on 10-for-24 shooting.
Believe it or not, this is work. SK Cēsis is watching game film.
The last time SK Cēsis "played" TIM-SCUF they won 20-0 - for some reason TIM-SCUF didn't show up and SK Cēsis was awarded a forfeit win. This time, SK Cēsis only won by 15 with a 74-59 victory in Vilnius, Lithuania. According to the SK Cēsis website, this guarantees SK Cēsis a place in the "Final Four".
The box score is here. Click "View match statistics" to see the box score. A gallery of game images is here. I thought there were some particularly nice Tamera Young pics in this collection. It also looks like they deliberately played this game in an empty gym, as there were virtually no places to sit.
SK Cēsis got off to a great start leading 25-15 after the first quarter and almost crossing the 50-point mark with a 48-30 halftime lead. TIM-SCUF managed to hold SK Cēsis to just eight third-quarter points -- but TIM-SCUF could only score 11 points of their own and didn't wage a comeback in the fourth quarter.
SK Cēsis hit 44 percent of their field goal attempts, as compared to a dismal 30 percent from TIM-SCUF. TIM-SCUF also suffered in rebounding, losing the battle 41-30. Both teams kept turnovers down - just 12 from each team - and each team had similar free throw numbers.
Olga Maznichenko: 21 points, 5 rebounds.
Kateryna Dorogobuzova: 12 points, 3 rebounds.
Olha Krasnikova: 7 points, 4 rebounds.
Kristen Mann: 21 points, 10 rebounds. Kristen is still a force to be reckoned with in Latvia.
Tamera Young: 14 points, 7 rebounds.
Ieva Tare: 14 points, 7 rebounds.
Erika can't figure out why she's become so popular.
At the top of the Liga Feminina, the playoff picture is much more clear. Ros Casares (23-1) has secured the regular season championship. Rivas Ecópolis (17-7) was playing for an outside change of passing Perfumerias for second place in the regular season and the #2 spot in the playoffs. Rivas Ecópolis, however, wasn't ready to challenge El Ros today, with Ros Casares winning 74-55 on its home court.
The box score is here. A gallery of game images can be found here.
Ros Casares started with a 16-12 lead after one quarter, and still led by three at halftime, 32-29. It was the third quarter where Ros Casares proved itself as the clearly superior team, holding Rivas Ecópolis to seven points and leading 53-38 after thirty minutes. With Ros Casares adding another 21 points in the fourth quarter, it was all a foregone conclusion.
Ros Casares hit 47 percent of its field goal attempts, compared to just 42 percent from Rivas Ecópolis. Rivas, however, almost held its own against Ros Casares on the boards, out-rebounded only 34-31.
This might have been one of the sloppiest games played all season. Ros Casares turned the ball over 21 times, but that didn't compare to Rivas turning the ball over 29 times. Part of Rivas's pain was caused by the fact that only seven Rivas players participated in the game.
Erika de Souza: 14 points, 11 rebounds for a double-double.
Amaya Valdemoro : 16 points, 7 assists, 4 steals, 5 turnovers.
Delisha Milton-Jones: 4 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals, 4 turnovers. Milton-Jones was the only player to foul out of the game.
Candace Wiggins: Remains injured.
Petra Ujhelyi: 12 points and 12 rebounds for the other double-double. 5 turnovers.
Roneeka Hodges: 17 points, 5 assists, 7 turnovers for the Minnesota Lynx player.
Ruth Riley: 10 points, but 6 turnovers. Riley plays for the San Antonio Silver Stars.
Maja Miljkovic of Celta tries to evade Ibiza.
For Ibiza (13-11) and Celta (11-13), this game had critical importance. If Ibiza won, this would clinch a spot in the post-season, with Ibiza guaranteed to finish at least eighth even if they lost their last two games. For Celta, it would give them a chance to move into seventh place. It would be Ibiza that had more to play for, and they clinched their post-season spot on the road by a score of 67-45.
The box score is here.
Celta took an 18-14 point in the first quarter, but it would be the last quarter that ended with a Celta lead. Celta would not score any more than 10 points in any of the three remaining quarters. Ibiza had edged into a two-point lead at halftime, 30-28. At the end of the third quarter, Ibiza led by 13 points and would hold Celta to just seven points over the last 10 minutes.
Ibiza hit 42 percent of their attempted field goals. Celta would only hit 35 percent, and only go 2-for-12 from beyond 3-point range. Ibiza would outrebound Celta 35-24 and Celta would turn the ball over 21 times.
Laura Nicholls Gonzalez: 5 points, 3 rebounds.
Agne Cuidariene: 14 points, 3 rebounds.
Sancho Lyttle: 22 points, 15 rebounds for the only double-double.
Shannon Johnson: 14 points.
Elsa Donaire: 7 points, 8 rebounds.
Friday, March 27, 2009
There are about a thousand ways you can set up a post-season playoff system, and it looks like Europe has tried all of them. It looks like SK Cēsis will play all three teams in their four-team group over the weekend, but I don't know if it's the best finisher that advances to the next round, or the best two finishers. For SK Cēsis, it doesn't matter anyway as they won 69-46 in Vilnius, Lithuania in the Baltic Women's Basketball League posteason.
The box score is here. Click on "view match statistics" to see the box score. A gallery of game images can be found here.
Cēsis started out with a 17-13 lead but by halftime, Berezina-RCOR has closed the gap to 31-29 in what was described as a "laborious" first half. Tamera Young took the initiative in the third quarter, and helped SK Cēsis take a 50-38 lead by the end of three quarters. The fourth quarter was just more of the same.
SK Cēsis only shot 38 percent from the field, including a horrible 1-for-15 from 3-point rang. Berezina-RCOR didn't do much better, only hitting 37 percent of their free throw attempts. It was in every other phase of the game where SK Cēsis. SK Cēsis had 22 offensive rebounds and Berezina-RCOR would turn the ball over 24 times.
SK Cēsis will play TIM-SCUF on Saturday. TIM-SCUF is a Ukrainian team.
Kristen Mann: 22 points on 10-for-16 shooting. 13 rebounds.
Tamera Young: 12 points and 12 rebounds in the second of two SK Cēsis double-doubles.
Ieva Tare: 10 points, 8 rebounds.
Yuliya Dureika: 14 points, 5 rebounds.
Anzhela Duboiskaya: 11 points, 7 rebounds.
Aksana Dauharukava: 8 points, 7 rebounds, 6 turnovers.
While there's a lull in posting - I suspect that SK Cesis has played its game but there's no box score to report - I'll let you know what I'm up to.
Recently on eBay I was able to obtain a copy of the 1997-98 American Basketball League media guide. I wanted the guide because the guide had the 1996-97 American Basketball League statistics in it. I had been able to find stats for the 1997-98 season and the tiny fragment of the 1998-99 season that had been played. Having the media guide would provide me with the information I'd need to create a (virtually) full American Basketball League database.
Of course, all these stats have to be entered in by hand. There are further problems. I have "game starts" as a statistic for 1996-97, but not for the other two seasons. I only have minutes-per-game to the 0.1 decimal level for 1996-97, so "minutes played" will have to be estimations. Furthermore, the 1996-97 stats don't record personal fouls.
I'm only halfway through the 1996-97 season so far. I'm missing a lot of info that I hope others will be able to provide.
When I finish, I hope to be able to give recognition to all of those ABL players that never saw a minute of play in the WNBA. It's been over 10 years since the American Basketball League breathed its last breath on December 22, 2008 when it suspended operations and essentially gave up the ghost.
It's time for the WNBA to give the ABL its due and recognize ABL statistics in its record-keeping. I hope to be able to do the same with the WBL - that's my biggest dream - and its stats from 1978-81. "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?"
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Maccabi Ramat Hen had lost their home field advantage with a loss in the previous game, so they needed a win to get back up on top in the best-of-five semi-finals series with Elizur Ramla. The two teams ended up tied 71-71 in regulation, and it took two overtimes for Ramla to beat Ramat Hen to take a 2-0 lead in the best of five series.
Any future loss by Maccabi Ramat Hen will eliminate them from post-season contention. The box score is here. A good writeup of the game is here.
Visiting Ramat Hen would start the game with a 24-15 lead over Ramla after 10 minutes, and it would be home team's job to catch up. Ramat Hen still led Ramla 38-34 at halftime, and both teams played evenly in the third quarter. At one point, Rabat Hen led 64-51 with eight minutes leff in the game, but Ramla battled back with a 13-0 run. Ramla was able to make up the four-point deficit to tie the game 71-71 with 50 seconds to go on a 3-pointer by Olena Ogorodnikova. Five minutes later, the game was still tied 78-78, sending the game into a second overtime where Ramat Hen just fell apart.
Shay Doron had a harsh assessment of her team. "We're losers. We had this game in our hands twice at least. We don't know how to win. Stupid decisions, misses under the basket. Instead of stepping up and saying we're winning this game in the last six minutes, we made a mistake on offense and a mistake on defense and that's the way it ended. We didn't deserve to win tonight because we had the game and we gave it away".
Ramat Hen hit 47 percent of their attempted field goals, compared to just 41 percent for Elizur Ramla - but Ramla went 13-for-37 from behind the 3-point line. Each team had similar free turnover numbers and free throw numbers.
Neither team's bench contributed much. Ramla's benchwarmers contributed 10 points and Maccabi Ramat Hen's contributed 12. That left the 10 starters on each side to play a lot of minutes. Ramat Hen could still come back - as Orli Klinger writes, last year Ramat Hen had a 2-0 lead in a best-of-five series...and lost the following three games.
Olena Ogorodnikova: 25 points and 11 rebounds with 3 assists.
Sheri Sam: 23 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 rebounds. Sam plays for the Detroit Shock.
Tamera Moore: 15 points, 11 rebounds and five assists for the second of three double-doubles in this game. Moore is a former player for the Houston Comets.
Maccabi Ramat Hen
Ayana Walker: 22 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists.
Ivory Latta: 24 points, 4 assists.
LaToya Pringle: 17 points and 9 rebounds. If she had one more rebound, it would have been the game's fourth double-double.
Shay Doron: 16 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists.
LONDON — The National Basketball Association will play only two preseason games in Europe this year, including one between the Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz in October, NBA Commissioner David Stern said yesterday.
Last year four European three season games were played. If this keeps up, the players are going to have to put wholesale whitewalls on their Bentleys.
There's an article by Chantelle Anderson at Yardbarker called "Why Men Hate Lesbians...." and I hope it will start a run of provocative articles written by WNBA players. Anderson is clearly marking her territory as an intelligent commentator and I hope it continues.
I didn't have much of a comment on the article, but the jist of it is that if (obstensibly) straight men like gay women as sexual fantasy figures, then why is "lesbian" the slur of choice by the red-bellied woodpeckers (RBWs) when applied to women's basketball players?
Anderson, in effect, has engaged in a form of verbal ju-jitsu. The short version of her article is "I claim that you men who knock the WNBA for its players being lesbian hate all lesbians. Prove otherwise."
This puts the RBWs in a bind. There are only three rational responses.
a) "Yes, I hate all lesbians." That makes the detractors homophobes and the detractor find himself becoming the outcast. Those who hate the WNBA become hate-filled imbeciles on the same level as racists.
b) "No, I don't hate all lesbians. I just hate unattractive lesbians." This answer is worse than a). It implies that the RBW who chooses b) as his answer is not merely a homophobe, but a hypocrite as well. He hates all lesbians, but makes an exception if they meet his sexual fantasy needs - in short, he hates except in cases where hatred would cause him inconvenience. At least out-and-out homophobes can claim consistency as one of their few virtues.
c) "Your claim is false. My hatred of the WNBA has nothing to do with lesbians, but is due to other reasons." In which case, those who propose c) as their reason are forced to resort to rationality instead of intimidation. For most of these RBWs, resorting to rationality is a disadvantage for them - they're just not very good at it.
The entertainment to be gained from people who claim c) comes from the fact that a supposedly rational person pretends to make a plausible claim to "hate" a sport. Chantelle Anderson's Yardbarker post promises not only present-moment entertainment in the comments sections but entertainment for many years to come. Her post was an act of ju-jitsu that Ultimate Fighting would be hard to match.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
There is a new report that the number of training camp spots for 2009 will total 15. This leads to the question of who will actually be named to the 2009 Atlanta Dream training camp roster.
Here is our best estimate:
A: Players Who Played Last Year
C Mattera (married name of Katie Feenstra)
C Snow (free agent signing)
F/C de Souza
F Lyttle (acquired from dispersal draft)
G/F Castro Marques
B: Players Who Didn't Play Last Year, But Whom We Expect To Play
C: Players Who Might Or Might Not Be Signed, Or Show Up
?? #1 Draft Pick
?? Other Draft Pick
This implies that out of the four draft picks from 2009, only two of them will get an invitation to training camp. It's possible that the lower round picks could be "burned" on foreign players to secure their rights.
Out of these 15 players, four will be sent home as the WNBA maximum roster size for 2009 is 11 players.
This must be some new meaning to setting a screen.
Some photos of Game 1 of the semifinals match between Elizur Ramla and Maccabi Ramat Hen in the Israel Women's D1 League can be found here. Bask in the photgraphic goodness! (There are even some Ivory Latta pics!)
Janie Fincher of the WPBL has probably passed peak age.
If you've noticed in the comment section of yesterday's post, Rebkellian and all-around good guy pilight takes issue with the results. To quote:
"The problem is that you're only considering players who are still in the league at each given age. The only players who make rosters at 35 are those who are above average. Most players are long since out of the league [by age 35]."
In short, pilight's statement was that I had introduced a selection bias, which according to the fine folks at Wikipedia is "the distortion of a statistical analysis, due to the method of collecting samples". According to pilight, my particular form of error was a participant bias.
One can't look at all 35 year olds and claim that they'd be representative of any group of players that, by hook or crook, could theoretically reach 35 years old and be playing in the WNBA. All of the players who are age 35 in the WNBA are good players - they'd have to be to have lasted 12 + years in the league. When you compare 22 year old players to a group of 35 year old players, the 22 year old players will have some good, a lot of average, and many bad players but the 35 year olds generally won't have bad players left in it anymore. The groups being compared were unequal to begin with, and the conclusions drawn will be biased.
As someone once said, "Statistics is the most non-intuitive branch of mathematics." I found myself forced to agree with pilight - I would have to abandon my beloved hypothesis that WNBA players get better with age and seek some other approach. Maybe the new approach would yield the same conclusion...but maybe it wouldn't.
So what will be the new approach? What we'll do is compare selected groups of players across brief intervals of time. We'll compare a group of players who are age n (let n be whatever year of age you want) and then look at those same players at age (n+1).
We'll toss out any player from this group who didn't play 500 minutes in either year. Let's assume n = 23. We are looking at all of the players in the WNBA who played 500 minutes both at age 23 and at age 24. We compare their performances at age 23 with their performances at age 24.
If the group turned in better performances at age 24 than at 23, we have reason to conclude that your typical player will play better at age 24 than at age 23. If they turned in worse performances at age 24 than at 23, then we can conclude the opposite is true.
We do this for every pair of years for which we have data.
|Start Age||End Age||Candidates||Average Change in Wins Score|
This begins to look like what we expect: a bell curve which rises to a certain point and then progressive declines.
Column F is the number of candidates. Note that there is only one WNBA player who played more than 500 minutes both at age 19 and age 20 - Ann Wauters. Likewise, Teresa Edwards is the only WNBA player who played more than 500 minutes both at age 38 and age 39. (This information does not look good for Sheryl Swoopes's employment prospects.)
Column G is the rise in average Wins Score per year. Aside from some little glitches, the year-per-year win score rises, sort of stays the same between age 27 and age 28, and then begins to decline year per year. This implies that the peak age for a WNBA player is...oh, I don't know, somewhere between age 27 and age 28. Afterwards, performance declines.
The only skewing of the results might be due to some players playing more minutes than others, even in the 500+ minute category. Wins Score is a linear metric - it rewards players for everything good they do and punishes them for every bad thing they do. Players who play a lot of minutes will tend to higher Wins Scores simply because they have more of an opportunity to accumulate points. The most minutes ever played in a WNBA season is around 1,200.
In general, the correlation between age progression and Win Score changes is about 0.94 for ages 21 to 27 and -0.81 for ages 28 to 35. Those are very good results.
So sadly (for me anyway), I was wrong and pilight is right: player performance begins to decline after age 28, and by age 38 players are at the far right end of the bell curve. All I managed to prove in my initial analysis is that the kinds of players that are still around after age 28 tend to be the better type of players. Looks like I learned three things:
a) that I was right if I redefined my question of my first analysis to "are the players still around at older ages the ones that have been historically the best"?
b) that pilight was right if I try to answer the question that I wanted to answer in the first place, which isn't the one in question a) and
c) a big heaping dose of humility.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
The venue might have changed to the Rīga Juniors home court, but nothing else changed as SK Cēsis whalloped the TTT Rīga Juniors 96-60, winning the second - and decisive - game of a best-of-three semifinals.
The senior team - known as TTT Rīga - defeated Liepāja Metalurgs in the second of their three game semifinal series to knock out Liepāja Metalurgs. The semifinals are now over and SK Cēsis will meet TTT Rīga in a finals series that is scheduled to begin April 2.
The box score is here.
Under the box score it reads "Skatītāji: 56". This means that there were grand total of 56 in attendance, not counting the players. (Who knows? Maybe they did count the players.) As the old joke goes, if the TTT Rīga Junior fans stormed the court, SK Cēsis could have held them off.
Who knows, maybe all of the TTT Rīga Juniors ran out in the second quarter? With SK Cēsis leading 16-14 after the first quarter, SK Cēsis scored 35 in the second to take a 51-30 lead. The lead was extended to over 30 points by the end of the third quarter, and by that time the SK Cēsis players were talking about what they were going to eat after the game.
SK Cēsis hit 52 percent of their shots compared to a 38 percent field goal accuracy rate for the TTT Rīga Juniors. SK Cēsis out-rebounded the home team 34-27 and the TTT Rīga Juniors turned the ball over 21 times. SK Cēsis visited the free throw line 18 times and hit 17 of their shots.
Both SK Cēsis and TTT Rīga will now concentrate on the Baltic Women's Basketball League Semifinals for the rest of March.
TTT Rīga Juniors
Anete Šteinberga: 12 points and 12 rebounds for a double-double.
Anna Sonka: 9 points, 6 rebounds.
Ieva Jansone: 17 points but 6 turnovers.
Kristen Mann: 31 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists. Kristen was clearly the player of the game.
Santa Dreimane: 19 points.
Tamera Young: 2 points, but they only played her for 4 minutes. Clearly, Tamera wasn't needed anyway.
Hopefully, pictures will come soon.
The WNBA Veterans have beaten the clock.
I've been very much interested in WNBA age scales. An age scale is a graph with the age of the player on one axis (easy to determine) and some talent metric on the other axis (hard to determine). The idea is that a player's performance can be projected across time.
If you look at any of baseball's proposed age scales, those graphs will be bell curves. As the "average player" ages, he becomes better and better until he peaks at age 28 and reaches the top of the little hill on the graph. Then, the player slowly declines as "it's all downhill after age 28" with all the little injuries and better players attriting the player's natural talent.
There are a lot of 28 year olds in baseball. There aren't so many 38 year olds, and this age-related athletic decline explains why.
Figuring out the age of WNBA players was easy. Now, I just needed a metric to evaluate them. I decided to use the Wins Score metric. (If you want to know what "Wins Score" is, just follow the link.) I like the metric better than I like the WNBA's official player metric - "Efficiency".
I limited to this analysis to ages where at least 50 seasons were played. For example, there are only 20 seasons from 36-year olds, so we won't look at an "average" 36 year old. Not enough data.
I expected a bell curve - what I got was shocking.
|Player Age||Mean Wins Score|
Holy crap. The values imply that as a WNBA player gets older, she just gets better and better and better...on the average. The values also implies that the best WNBA players - the ones who could most influence an arithmetic mean, or simple average - are on the upper end of the age scale.
I tried this analysis on John Hollinger's PER. I weighted PER by minutes played. Pretty much I got the same result, except that the numbers were less eye-popping as the range of values for PER is tighter for that of Wins Score - a great PER is above 30; a great Wins Score is above 300.
If you look at ages for which I didn't have 50 seasons, the values get even higher. At 34 the average Wins Score is 63.28; at 35 it's 65.92! Only at age 36 do we see a decline.
Since this flies in the face of what we'd expect - that the best players should be about 28 or 29 and then fall apart as they get older - we need some sort of explanation.
Here are some hypotheses:
1) The WNBA coaches and GMs are excellent managers of talent. They simply weed out every player who isn't good and keep weeding them out. (Okay, you can stop laughing.)
2) Marginal players become discouraged by sitting on the bench and leave the WNBA before they hit 30. Possible. But I don't know any WNBA player that didn't love the game so much that she wouldn't play it even for limited minutes.
3) Financial pressures: I think this a great reason. Note that there are two jumps, one at age 23 and another at age 24. The jump disappears at age 25. My understanding is that after three years, players stop being rookies and stop getting paid with the rookie scale. Anyone in the WNBA who hasn't shown a coach or GM something after three years gets weeded out of the league. After 25, you are an official WNBA survivor.
Since WNBA veteran salaries are in a narrow band - between $50K and $100K at the uppermost - there are different pressures than in multimillion dollar pro sports. When a NBA player is being paid $10 million a year you play him even if he isn't any good. Those kinds of pressures don't exist in the WNBA. Since the star factor is also diminished - WNBA players aren't national superstars - there's no pressure to play a popular player whose skills are diminishing. (Look at what happened to Sheryl Swoopes in Seattle. If it had been Sam Swoopes playing for the Oklahoma Thunder that situation would have been handled much differently.)
Furthermore, since it's very hard to establish a career on just $45 K for a limited number of years, there's more pressure on players to bail out and do something more lucrative.
I don't know if hypothesis #3 is the truth, but I think it comes closer to the truth than the other two explanations. "Locked into six years at multimillion dollar contract" disappears. "Can't waive her because she's a national superstar" disappears. In short, they don't pay or play you in the WNBA at age 33 unless you deserve to be paid and played.
4) Tighter band of athletic skill. When I say "tighter band", I mean that the deviation in athletic skill is smaller than it is in MLB or the NBA. That deviation comes from gender. The most athletic player in the NBA is probably more dominant over his average counterpart. Whereas the difference is smaller between the WNBA's average player and its most dominant player. Men are taller and have more muscular power than women do...and when that power disappears with age, male players are more substantially diminished. This leads to a discussion about....
5) Game expertise. In the NBA, it's much more natural for one player to take over the game with superior athletic ability, but I suspect it's more difficult in the WNBA. Therefore, knowledge of the tiny idiosyncracies of the game becomes more valuable.
Which refs can I work with a smile and a wink? (Becky Hammon)
Which rookie can I provoke into doing something stupid? (Plenette Pierson)
How many game situations like this have I seen before? (Vickie Johnson)
Those 35 year old WNBA players become as wily as jungle cats. They'll outsmart you. It's one of the only ways to gain an advantage in the WNBA where you can't use natural strength to have your way with your opposition (at least, until Brittney Griner shows up).
Furthermore, once the Allen Iverson type player in the NBA loses a step...he's lost. He's always ignored fundamentals for athleticism and his decline becomes that much sharper when he gets older. Since WNBA players don't have that advantage, they have to know the game to a greater degree than their male counterparts.
(* * *)
All in all, it adds up to one fact. WNBA players have beaten the clock. They're like fine wine; they just get better with age. However, if genetics catch up, we'll see the stars of tomorrow begin to dominate the game with athleticism.
Update: To see how wrong this post really was, go here to the update.
There are only four teams left and in the semifinals, each of those teams will be paired off in a best-of-five series to determine the two finalists who will compete for the Israel championship. Despite having home field in the first game, Maccabi Ramat Hen falls to visiting Elizur Ramla 72-71 to fall behind 0-1 in their semifinal series.
Game Two of the semifinals will be played on Thursday. The box score is here.
It was a close game in the first half, with visiting Elizur Ramla leading by one point after 10 minutes and carrying a 34-33 lead into halftime. Elizur Ramla had a good third quarter and led 53-44 going into the final 10 minutes. Maccabi Ramat Hen would stage a comeback and begin closing the gap, finally taking a 71-68 lead with 40 seconds to play in the game. However, Ramla would go back up 72-71 on a Sheri Sam basket with 18 seconds to play.
Shay Doron attempted a three-pointer at the buzzer for Ramat Hen...but missed.
Ramat Hen only hit 38 percent of its attempted field goals, compared to 47 percent from Elizur Ramla. Ramla also had a 36-32 overall rebounding advantage. However, Ramla turned the ball over 19 times and sent Ramat Hen to the free throw line 27 times - where they hit 24 shots for an 89 percent free throw percentage.
Ramat Hen's bench contributed just two points in the loss. Ramla's bench scored 17 of Ramla's 72 total points.
Maccabi Ramat Hen
LaToya Pringle: 18 points and 14 rebounds. 12-for-13 in free throws.
Ivory Latta: 19 points, 2 rebounds.
Ayana Walker: 16 points and 8 rebounds...but 7 turnovers.
Shay Doron: 11 points.
Tamara Moore: 16 points, 9 rebounds, 4 steals for the former Houston Comets player.
Sheri Sam: 16 points, 5 rebounds, 5 turnovers for the Detroit Shock player.
Ina Gourevitch: 10 points.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Isn't it great when you can kick back during a game and have fun?
A gallery for Game One of the semifinal matchup between SK Cēsis and the TTT Rīga Juniors can be found right here.
The combination of March Madness and work might slow down posting, but I can still post a pic or two.
Work has been insane. Expect frequent posting delays.
Israel Women's D1 Semifinals: Maccabi Ramat Hen vs. Elizur Ramla (Game 1)
LSBL Semifinals: TTT Rīga Juniors vs. SK Cēsis (Game 2)
Israel Women's D1 Semifinals: Maccabi Ramat Hen vs. Elizur Ramla (Game 2)
LFB (Spain): Celta (11-12) vs. Ibiza (12-11)
BWBL Semifinals: SK Cēsis vs. Berezina-RCOR (Belarus)
LFB (Spain): Ros Casares (22-1) vs. Rivas Ecopolis (17-6)
LFB (Spain): San José (14-9) vs. Extrugasa (5-18)
BWBL Semifinals: TIM-SCUF (Ukraine) vs. SK Cēsis
Greek Women's A1: Ano Liosa (13-10) vs. Paleo Faliro (15-8)
LFB (Spain): Estudiantes (5-18) vs. Olesa (14-9)
BWBL Semifinals: TEO Vilnius (Lithuania) vs. SK Cēsis
Well, it looks like everyone except me knew that Siemens had no intention of showing up for Sunday's game. The reason given is "failure to appear". I don't know if the Siemens team has been completely disbanded or not.
In any event, Paleo Faliro racks up a cheap win and gets a week off. Kristin Haynie, obviously, did not play on Sunday.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
With only eight teams in the Latvian league, the Latvians go right to the semifinals during playoff season. The first game of a best-of-three series put SK Cēsis against the TTT Rīga Juniors teams - the Juniors are the kids who will sooner or later play for TTT Rīga, which is the #1 team in Latvia. (How tough do you have to be before you let your minor league team compete in the majors?) SK Cēsis reminded the Juniors that they were the juniors with a 102-74 win.
The box score is here.
The press from Latvia all agree that the final score is misleading, and you can tell just be looking at the quarter-by-quarter score. Both teams were tied after 10 minutes, 22-22, and by halftime, SK Cēsis only led by seven points, taking a 45-38 score into the break. After three quarters SK Cēsis was able to extend the lead to 69-60, but in the fourth quarter the TTT Rīga Juniors were held to just 14 points where SK Cēsis scored 33.
SK Cēsis hit 43 percent of its shots compared to 42 percent from the TTT Rīga Juniors. However, the TTT Rīga Juniors were just 5-for-23 from 3-point range and only attempted 61 shots compared to 82 shots attempted by SK Cēsis. SK Cēsis outrebounded the Juniors 48-35 and the TTT Rīga Juniors turned the ball over 21 times. SK Cēsis was sent to the free throw line 28 times where they hit 75 percent of their shots.
Sandra Dijon: 18 points and 9 rebounds on 8-for-9 shooting.
Tamera Young: 17 points and 8 rebounds on 7-for-12 shooting. Tamera, unfortunately, fouled out after 24 minutes.
Kristen Mann: Zero points in four minutes of play.
TTT Rīga Juniors
Anete Šteinberga: 34 points and 16 rebounds. It could have been a lot worse for the TTT Rīga Juniors if she hadn't been there.
Ieva Jansone: 18 points and 6 rebounds.
Hoping to have pictures from this game soon. By the way, TTT Rīga beat Liepāja Metalurgs in the first game of their best of three series. The next game for both SK Cēsis and the TTT Rīga Juniors is on Tuesday in Rīga.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
For a few moments, it looked as if Estudiantes (5-18) might have a chance as being the only one of four teams to move out of the bottom of the Liga Feminina. They would be playing at home against Celta (11-12) and actually were tied at halftime. But a third quarter in which Estudiantes was held to only eight points hurt the home squad which lost 59-48 in front of a crowd of 600 spectators.
The box score is here.
With the loss by Estudiantes there were four teams tied for last place in the Liga Feminina. Poor showings from their imported talent really hurt Estudiantes, which fell behind 46-38 in the third quarter. Estudiantes was held to just 10 points in the fourth quarter making for an 18-point second half.
Estudiantes hit 34 percent of its attempted field goals compared to 32 percent for Celta - neither team was exactly setting fire to the nets. However, Celta out-rebounded Estudiantes 37-29 with Celta earning 10 offensive rebounds compared to just six from Estudiantes. Furthermore, Estudiantes turned the ball over 20 times and sent Celta to the free throw line 22 times, where they hit 17 of their shots.
Andrea Hadjune Csaszar: 9 points, 4 rebounds.
Brooke Wyckoff: 2 points, 5 rebounds in 26 minutes of play.
Nikki Teasley: 2 points, 2 rebounds in 11 minutes of play. Teasley managed to pick up five fouls in just 11 minutes of play.
Gema Garcia Mata: 15 points, 5 rebounds.
Laura Nicholls Gonzalez: 5 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals.
Agne Ciudariene: 13 points, 5 rebounds.
With the prospect of four teams being tied for last place with three games to go, and with relegation in effect in the Liga Feminina, it can be just as exciting for the teams at the bottom of the league as at the top of the league. For Extrugasa (5-18), their hope that they could move away from the bottom of the league was dashed in front of 400 home spectators at visiting Cadi la Seu (8-15) got the road win, 57-50.
The box score is here.
Extrugasa managed to hold Cadi la Seu to 12 points in the first quarter, but Cadi la Seu returned the favor in the second. They held Extrugasa to 12 second quarter points to take a 30-28 lead. Cadi la Seu managed to finish the third quarter with a 43-40 lead and further extended their lead by four points at the end of the game. It is unknown if Extrugasa was ever able to catch up.
Interesting fact: each team only played eight players for the entire game.
Extrugasa only took 48 field goal attempts and hit only 18 for a 38 percent field goal percentage. Cadi la Seu took one fewer shot but hit 43 percent of their shouts. Both teams rebounded evenly, and both turned the ball over a lot, each team registering 21 turnovers. Extrugasa's free throw shooting got marginally better - they were 11-for-14 with 73 percent free throw shooting - but despite shooting only 67 percent Cadi la Seu hit 16 free throws.
Taru Tuukkanan: 9 points, 5 rebounds, 4 turnovers.
Elisha Turek: 6 points, 7 rebounds.
Iziane Castro Marques: 12 points, 3 rebounds, 4 turnovers. 4-for-12 shooting.
Cadi la Seu
Soeli Garvao Zakrzeski: 14 poitnts, 4 rebounds, 4 steals, 4 turnovers.
Sonia Borges de Reis: 13 points, 7 rebounds.
With four games left in the regular season going into this game, this is the right time for Ibiza (12-11) to get hot. It's beginning to look like the rule in the Liga Feminina is ".500 and you're in the playoffs". Against Gran Canaria (5-18), Ibiza took one more step toward clinching a playoff spot with a 76-64 win against the visitors.
The box score is here.
The win could have been a lot worse: Ibiza led 43-30 at halftime and added six more points to their lead to make the score 63-44 after three quarters. Gran Canaria was able to hold Ibiza to 13 points in the fourth quarter, but they couldn't overcome a 19 point deficit with just ten minutes remaining.
Ibiza made 54 of its field goal attempts, but if you don't count 3-point attempts, they were 22-for-32 - a 69 percent success rate. Gran Canaria, a team struggling at the bottom of the lead, made only 41 percent of its field goal attempts. Ibiza would have 16 turnovers in the game but Gran Canaria would exceed that with 18 turnovers. Gran Canaria hit 9 of 12 of its free throw attempts, but even though Ibiza only made 53 percent of its free throws, their 8-for-15 scoring virtually matched Gran Canaria's.
Silva Morales Martin: 20 points, 4 assists, 4 turnovers.
Sancho Lyttle: 10 points and 10 rebounds - the game's only double-double.
Shannon Johnson: 10 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists.
Jessica Kellogg: No points, and only 3 minutes played. This might be the Jessica Kellogg who graduated from San Jose State in 2005.
Iva Perovanovic: 12 points, 6 rebounds, 4 turnovers.
Doukole Ble: 5 points, 9 rebounds.
Tiina Sten: No points, no rebounds in 6 minutes of play for the St. John's graduate.
With the conclusion of today's games, there will only be three games left in the Liga Feminina regular season. For Ros Casares (22-1) it's not so much a competition as a farewell tour. Aside from their first game against second-place Perfumerias they have won every regular season Liga Feminina game and against Zaragoza (5-18) it was no exception as Ros Casares won 90-71 on the road.
The box score is here.
Once again, Ros Casares won every quarter - but not by much after the first quarter. El Ros led by thirteen, 33-20 after the first ten minutes and Ros Casares extended the lead just a little bit quarter by quarter by quarter.
Ros Casares hit 55 percent of its shots compared to Zaragoza hitting 47 percent of its field goal attempts. From close range - the "2-pointer zone" - Ros Casares hit 64 percent of its shots. They led in rebounds, they turned the ball over less frequently, and they were sent to the free throw line more often. There simply wasn't anywhere in the box score where Zaragoza could show true superiority.
LaToya Thomas: 18 points, 4 rebounds. The WNBA player for Detroit and Minnesota last year was 4-for-5 from beyond 3-point range, but 2-for-9 within it.
Naiara Diez Fernandez: 13 points.
LaToya Turner: No points, but 6 rebounds in 20 minutes of play from the Ohio State graduate.
Erika de Souza: 21 points, 7 rebounds.
Delisha Milton-Jones: 24 points.
Amaya Valdemoro: 14 points, 5 assists.
Candace Wiggins: Did not play. Strained right knee.
Friday, March 20, 2009
It looks like Katie Mattera's been keeping busy.
She was there at the Big South Conference Championship when her alma mater Liberty played Winthrop for all the marbles. It was there that she saw Megan Frazee break two of her records:
1) Frazee scored the 50th double-double of her career, breaking Mattera's Liberty record of 49, and
2) Frazee moved past Mattera on both the Big South and Liberty all-time scoring lists during the win.
Ivory Latta and friends have the best seat in the house.
From what I can tell, this is the final game in the "Upper Playoffs" which determines which four teams go to the Israel Women's D1 Semifinals. Maccabi Ramat Hen was pretty much assured a second place finish but Elizur Ramla was fighting for third place. The 65-61 home win gave them a third place finish, which means they'll be meeting Ramat Hen again instead of first place finisher Ramat Hasharon in the semi-finals.
The box score is here. A writeup of the game is here and a photo gallery is here.
Ramla led 19-17 at the end of the first quarter, but none of Ramat Hen's bench players had scored - as it turned out, only the five Ramat Hen starters would score any points for their team in the entire game. Ramla led 33-29 at the half, but Ramat Hen began to come back in the third quarter when a 3-pointer by Shay Doron closed Ramat Hen to within two points, 48-46, to end the third. With three minutes to play, Ramat Hen staged another comeback with another 3-pointer by Doron to close to 60-59, but Ramla held onto the lead for the win.
Elizur Ramla hit 44 percent of their attempted field goals compared to 39 percent from Ramat Hen. Ramla went an astonishing 0-for-16 from 3-point field goal range. Elizur Ramla's post play was terrible and Ramat Hen was outrebounded 31-18, but Maccabi Ramat Hen gave away the advantage with 21 turnovers as opposed to just six from Elizur Ramla. Ramat Hen was sent to the free throw line 27 times and hit an incredible 25 shots for a 93 percent free throw precentage.
And yet, Maccabi Ramat Hen managed to lose. If they just had some help from their bench...!
Sheri Sam: 16 points, 3 assists, 4 steals. 7 for 14 shooting for the Detroit Shock player.
Olena Ogorodnikova: 14 points, 6 rebounds, 4 steals.
Tamara Moore: 4 points, 4 rebounds and 5 steals in 37 minutes of play for the former member of the Houston Comets.
Maccabi Ramat Hen
Shay Doron: 22 points on 7-for-14 shooting, and 3-for-8 from 3-point range.
Ivory Latta: 15 points, 7 rebounds. Went 0-for-7 from 3-point range but went 9-for-9 in free throws.
LaToya Pringle: 15 points and 10 rebounds for the games only double-double. However, she had 9 turnovers.
Ayana Walker: 7 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
No, this score is not a typo. So what was it? Was it the fact that Ieva Tāre recovered enough from pneumonia to play a few minutes? Is it because SK Cēsis have the strength of a hundred women because their hearts are pure? Or it because Turība/Kolonna didn't care? It doesn't really matter - Turība/Kolonna lost by seventy points in front of 500 spectators. (I hope those spectators had a deck of cards.)
The evidence of the whipping is here.
It was the final game of the regular season for SK Cēsis. The game was basically over in the first quarter when SK Cēsis took a 35-11 lead. After that, Turība/Kolonna began to mail it in. Turība/Kolonna scored seven points in the second and third quarters - the score was 81-25 at the end of three quarters.
SK Cēsis shot 54 percent from the field. Turība/Kolonna only hit 21 percent of their field goals: 7-for-28 from 2-point range and 4-for-23 from behind the 3-point line. They turned the ball over 21 times compared to SK Cēsis's eight times. It was a very ugly game at times, with Turība/Kolonna sent to the free throw line 24 times and SK Cēsis being sent 37 times (they were 28-for-37 if anyone's asking).
Odd stat: seven SK Cēsis players scored in double figures, but there were no SK Cēsis double-doubles.
Elīna Babkina: 23 points, 5 rebounds.
Rima Maregeviciute: 19 points, 8 rebounds.
Tamera Young: 13 points in 20 minutes. 5-for-8 shooting.
Kristen Mann: 4 points in 13 minutes of play.
Ieva Tāre: 7 points in 15 minutes.
Eva Pavlovska: 10 points and 4 rebounds. The less said about the rest of Turība/Kolonna's performance, the better.
Pictures will come if the film wasn't burned.
From the Seattle Storm website:
SEATTLE - Seattle Storm Head Coach and Director of Player Personnel Brian Agler announced today the addition of 6-3 center Kasha Terry and 5-9 guard Melanie Thomas to the Storm’s 2009 training camp roster.
Terry, selected by the Indiana Fever in the second round (26th overall pick) of the 2006 WNBA Draft, played in 20 games for the Atlanta Dream and two games for the Indiana Fever in 2008, averaging 4.3 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. Terry holds career averages of 3.1 points and 2.4 rebounds in three WNBA seasons. The Georgia Tech graduate was a member of the All-ACC Tournament team in 2005 and an All-ACC Rookie team honorable mention in 2003.
I'm glad that Kasha Terry still has a chance in the WNBA, and that she's landed on her feet.
The huge block by LaToya Pringle that kept Raanana Hertzelyia from tying the game in the last seconds.
Safsal has provided a photo gallery of the recent Maccabi Ramat Hen-Raanana Hertzeliya game that Ramat Hen won 72-70.
The link is here. Dive into the world of Women's basketball in Israel. There is more than one Ivory Latta pic in there.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Not Nikki Teasley. Another Teasley.
Nikki Teasley contributes a blog entry to Dream Diary, the official blog of the Atlanta Dream. She writes about her experiences in Spain with her daughter Yasherae Jonae', or 'Ya-Ya'.
Nikki also provides us with a Photo Gallery. So what are you waiting for? Make a visit, look at some pics and write a comment to show your love!
Atlanta Dream Assistant Coach Sue Panek comes up with a list of Top 10 WNBA Draft Prospects. She writes a little bit about each of them, and I'll give you the abbreviated list in alphabetical order.
1. Chante Black, C
2. DeWanna Bonner, G/F
3. Marissa Coleman, G/F
4. Lyndra Littles, G/F
5. Angel McCoughtry, G/F
6. Renee Montgomery, G
7. Courtney Paris, C
8. Kristi Toliver, G
9. Kia Vaughn, F/C
10. Shavonte Zellous, G
A few comments:
1. You know that Sue Panek has the ear of head coach and GM Marynell Meadors. So this list might be the Atlanta Dream's short list for #1 pick in the draft.
2. Note that Ashley Paris (Courtney Paris's sister) isn't anywhere on this list.
Work is going to be very "interesting" today, so I might not have time to post. But I wanted to thank all of those Atlanta Dream fans (and others) out there who helped the Atlanta Dream reached their goal of 1,500 fans on facebook. As Sally Field might say "You like us! You really like us!"
In the meantime, I've added more to the WNBA Abstract for the 2000s. (Go two posts down.) I'll keep adding to this by bits and pieces.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
I'm hoping that if you haven't done so already that you'll visit the Atlanta Dream Facebook Site and join up.
CLICK THIS LINK!
The goal is to break the 1500 member barrier on Facebook. And as an extra incentive, you'll get free tickets if you don't have them already! But my understanding is that those free tickets are only available if the Dream meets its goal! Even if you have season tickets, you can help other people attend a Dream game for free!
So if you're sitting down in front of the computer tonight, you know what to do.
a) Visit the link.
b) Join the page and join the team!
c) If you've already joined, help out by having a friend join!
d) Bask in the satisfaction of helping out your favorite team, the ATLANTA DREAM. Because it's One Team, One Dream, and that Dream depends on YOU.
One of my favorite books is the Bill James Baseball Abstract. I've always enjoyed the book and Kevin Pelton at Storm Tracker (the official Seattle Storm Blog) and Basketball Prospectus has always enjoyed it as well. He got to thinking about what a copy of an imaginary "Basketball Abstract" would look like for the NBA in the 2000s.
I figured, "if he could do it for the NBA, why can't I do it for the WNBA?" Of course, there's a problem in that the 2009 season hasn't started yet, but let's try to get an early start and worry about changing the numbers later.
WNBA Abstract - 2000-2009
Attendance Data: 18,243,171 (Washington 2007 data missing)
Highest: 2002 Washington - 16,202/game, 2001 New York - 15,660/game
Lowest: 2006 Chicago - 3,390/game, 2008 Chicago - 3,656/game
Best Won/Loss Record by Team
(Season) 2000 and 2001 Los Angeles 28-4 (.875)
(Decade) Los Angeles 202-98 (.673)
Worst Won/Loss Record by Team
(Season) 2008 Atlanta 4-30 (0.133)
(Decade) 2008 Atlanta 4-30 (0.133); for teams active from 2000-08: Minnesota 123-177 (0.410)
The best and worst combined records in the 2000s
Los Angeles 202-98 0.673
Sacramento 175-125 0.583
Orlando/Connecticut 172-128 0.573
Houston 170-130 0.567
Detroit 160-140 0.533
New York 157-143 0.523
Cleveland 66-64 0.507
Miami 48-48 0.500
Seattle 148-152 0.493
Indiana 146-154 0.487
Phoenix 142-158 0.473
Utah/San Antonio 142-158 0.473
Washington 127-173 0.423
Minnesota 123-177 0.410
Charlotte 95-137 0.409
Portland 37-59 0.385
Chicago 31-71, 0.304
Atlanta 4-30 0.118
Having Their Best Decade Ever: Detroit Shock
Having Their Worst Decade Ever: Washington Mystics
Tallest Player: 7'2" Margo Dydek
Shortest Player: 5'2" Shannon Bobbitt
Heaviest Player: Marcedes Walker (253 pounds)
Lightest Player: Tamicha Jackson (118 pounds)
Oldest Player: Nancy Lieberman suited up for the Detroit Shock in 2008 at age 50 for one game, making her the oldest player in WNBA history.
Youngest Player: It's hard to tell, as boxscores are difficult to find for defunct teams. I would say Ann Wauters, who was approximately 19 years and 7 months old at the beginning of the 2000 Cleveland Rockers season.
(Season) Diana Taurasi, 2006 (25.3 ppg)
(Decade) Diana Taurasi (20.3 ppg) (min 150 games)
(Season) Chamique Holdsclaw, 2002 (11.6 rpg)
(Decade) Cheryl Ford (10.1 rpg) (min 150 games)
(Season) Ticha Penicheiro, 2002 (8.0 apg)
(Decade) Ticha Penicheiro (5.7 apg) (min 150 games)
G - Sheryl Swoopes
G - Ticha Penicheiro
F/C - Lauren Jackson
F - Tamika Catchings
C - Lisa Leslie
G - Ticha Penicheiro
G - Deanna Nolan
F - Tina Thompson
C/F - Yolanda Griffith
C - Lisa Leslie
Best Player Who Never Won the MVP Award: Tamika Catchings
Worst Award Selection: Lauren Jackson's selection over Tamika Catchings for Defensive POY in 2007
Best Unrecognized Player: Delisha Milton-Jones
Best Shooter: Katie Smith
Best Defensive Player: Sheryl Swoopes
Best Stopper: Sheryl Swoopes
Best Without The Ball, Best Screener: No consensus. Diana Taurasi and Katie Smith come to mind, but these skills don't seem to be at a premium in the women's game.
Worst Ballhog: Tamicha Jackson, although Betty Lennox gets honorable mention.
Iron Woman: Katie Smith, easily.
Fastest Player: Deanna Nolan
Slowest Player: Alisa Burras
Best Athlete: Deanna Nolan
Best WNBA Books
Don't Let the Lipstick Fool You, Lisa Leslie
Shattering the Glass: The Remarkable History of Women's Basketball, Pamela Grundy and Susan Shackleford
Summer Madness: The Wild, Wacky Wonderful World of the WNBA, Fran Harris
There just aren't that many books about the WNBA, period. Shattering the Glass is obviously more a book about women's basketball than the WNBA, but a very well written book at that.
An interesting observation at the end of the DC BasketCases blog:
Tuesday Morning Observation . . . Last week, an editorial in the Baltimore Sun wondered why the public does not pay sufficient attention to women's sports. Well, we have at least part of the answer: Monday's Washington Post devoted an entire, separate, 14-page section to the men's NCAA Tournament. Today's paper give's the women's Tournament a few pages inside the sports section. As we said last week, the Sun's editorial made no mention of the role that the media play in this disparity, but it should have.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Okay. I was wrong about who Maccabi Ramat Hen's opponent, but it's pretty hard to figure out the post-season in Israel. I still believe that the top six teams are playing some sort of post-season round robin to determine who goes to the semi-finals. According to the writeup at safsal.co.il, Ramat Hen's 72-70 win over Raanana Hertzeliya virtually assures that Ivory Latta's Maccabi Ramat Hen team will clinch second place.
The box score here.
According to the quarter-by-quarter score, it was a very close game. Ramat Hen took a 19-16 lead at the end of the first quarter, and managed to hold that three point lead at halftime, 33-30. However, in the third quarter Raanana Hertzeliya closed the gap and the score was tied 48-48 going into the final quarter.
It is implied at the safsal web site that Noa Ganor sank two free throws in the fourth to put Ramat Hen up 72-70. LaToya Pringle must have blocked the final shot taken by Raanana Hertzeliya to win the game.
Raanana Hertzeliya hit 44 percent of their field goal attempts compared to 41 percent from Ramat Hen. Neither team rebounded particularly well, but Ramat Hen had more offensive rebounds, by a factor of 12 to 7. Raanana Hertzeliya had slightly more turnovers. I suspect that the fourth of Dean Oliver's keys to the game was paramount - Ramat Hen visited the free throw line 24 times to just 9 for Raanana Hertzeliya, and we know Noa Ganor's free throws were particularly important.
Another odd fact: 66 of Ramat Hen's 69 total points were scored by the five original starters.
Maccabi Ramat Hen
Ivory Latta: 20 points on 7-for-18 shooting.
Ayana Walker: 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Shay Doron: 11 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists.
Michal Epstein: 15 points, 6 rebounds.
LaToya Pringle: 4 points, 8 rebounds.
Temeka Johnson: 24 points, 4 rebounds, 6 turnovers from the Los Angeles Sparks guard.
Kelly Schumacher: 16 points, 8 rebounds for the backup Detroit Shock center.
Charde Houston: 4 points in 24 minutes played for the Minnesota Lynx forward.
Unable to find any pictures. You can find video here, but guess what? You can only view it if you live in Israel!
Tamera Young (#14) is ready to lead a hand to Santa Dreimane (#5).
The gallery of the SK Cēsis-TTT Rīga game has finally been posted.
I think the above might be the only Tamera Young pic in the group. Take a peek, these are some nice pictures.
Here is the schedule of this week's games involving Atlanta Dream players:
Israel Women's D1: Maccabi Ramat Hen vs. Bnot Raanana Hasharon (Upper Play-offs)
Israel Women's D1: Maccabi Ramat Hen vs. Elizur Ramla (Upper Play-offs)
LSBL: SK Cēsis (23-3) vs. Turība/Kolonna (11-16) *
LFB (Spain): Extrugasa (5-17) vs. Cadi La Seu (7-15)
LFB (Spain): Zaragoza (5-17) vs. Ros Casares (22-1)
LFB (Spain): Ibiza vs. (11-11) Gran Canaria (5-17)
LFB (Spain): Estudiantes (5-17) vs. Celta (10-12)
Greek Women's A1: Paleo Faliro (14-8) vs. Siemens (5-17)
LSBL Semifinals: SK Cēsis vs. TTT Rīga Juniors
* - Standings as of March 16, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Here is the entire blog entry from the One Tree Hill blog:
James Lafferty is 1 of 10 Hollywood stars mentioned to be playing in the Basketball Battle Of The Sexes. This game will be played in Chicago, on June 2 at 7:00 p.m. at the UIC Pavilion, against Chicago Sky’s Team.
The game will be played with WNBA official rules, including WNBA referees, three-point line, shot clock, and official WNBA basketball.
Do you think James will play or not?
Even if he plays, I suspect that the Sky will win big. If you were putting together an all-male celebrity team who could beat the sky, who would be on it?
SK Cēsis (23-3) had two advantages over rival team TTT Rīga (26-1). First, they were playing at home. Second, there were 1,200 fans in attendance which set a new record for Latvian basketball. Despite the fan support, SK Cēsis fell to TTT Rīga by a score of 90-83.
The box score is here.
TTT Rīga took an 8-0 run in the first quarter to break a 6-6 tie, and TTT Rīga led 26-14 after just one quarter. SK Cēsis clawed back in the second quarter and and TTT Rīga's lead would be cut to five, 42-37 at halftime. SK Cēsis continued to attack their rivals and actually led at one time in the third quarter, 48-47, but TTT Rīga still led 59-55 after thirty minutes.
In the fourth quarter, a Kristen Mann shot put SK Cēsis in the lead again, 80-79. Unfortunately, SK Cēsis would only score four more points in the rest of the game.
The only mention of Tamera Young in the game writeup was the following:
Nothing but violate the rules, moreover Brunermane which has sodiņus metusi convincingly, discarding the two missed additives still receiving the note itself. At that moment, nerves fail Tamer Jang, who also nopūdelē both sodiņus and Riga is at balls, which both quickly and succeed in intercepting ... discard auta ...
I'm sure it means something, and probably not something good.
SK Cēsis hit 52 percent of its field goal attempts (including 7-of-11 from 3-point range), whereas TTT Rīga hit 42 percents of its shots. So what happened to SK Cēsis? First, TTT Rīga went 11-for-22 from behind the 3-point line. Second, SK Cēsis turned the ball over 23 times compared to TTT Rīga's 11 turnovers.
Third, Ieva Tare, SK Cēsis's team captain was out with pneumonia. (Hey, it's cold in Latvia.) I'm sure SK Cēsis could have used her.
Kristen Mann: 23 points and 9 rebounds for the ex-Dream player.
Santa Dreimane: 17 points, 6 rebounds.
Tamera Young: 19 points and 4 rebounds in 26 minutes of play.
Merike Anderson: 29 points and 5 rebounds.
Aija Brumermane: 10 points and 6 rebounds. 8-for-10 from the free throw line.
Zane Eglīte: 12 points and 7 rebounds.
As soon as there are pictures, I'll post them.
Paleo Faliro (14-8) have managed to stay in fourth place with just four games left in the regular season as they take to the road and defeat Olympiada Larissas (7-15) by a score of 66-62.
The box score is here.
There won't be a report on this game because Kristin Haynie did not play. I wonder why? Injury? Left team? Overslep? Anyway, we'll hope for the best for Kristin and hope to be able to report about her next week.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Estudiantes (5-17), in their road victory against Gran Canaria (5-17) has not only managed to pull themselves just a slight bit away from the possibility of relegation at the end of the season but has made the question of relegation that much more complicated. With the Estudiantes win, four teams (Extrugasa, Estudiantes, Gran Canaria and Zaragoza) are tied for last place in the Liga Feminina.
The box score is here.
Estudiantes took a 21-18 lead after the first quarter but Gran Canaria retook the lead in the second quarter. At halftime, Gran Canaria led 41-36 but Gran Canaria would be held to 30 points in the second half. By the end of the third quarter, Gran Canaria only led by one point, 56-55 and in the last quarter, Estudiantes took the lead with four minutes left, 67-66. Sandra Ygueravide added seven points for Estudiantes in the final two minutes of the game to seal the victory.
Both teams made 48 percent of their attempted field goals. The big difference was that Estudiantes went 13-for-27 in 3-point shooting - they scored more points by the long bomb than in any other way. Furthermore, Estudiantes was helped in only turning the ball over nine times.
Iva Perovanovic: 18 points, 8 rebounds
Ines Kresovic: 19 points.
Tiina Sten: 2 points in only 7 minutes played for the St. John's graduate.
Laura Herrera Boxo: 12 points, 5 rebounds.
Brooke Wyckoff: 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting.
Nikki Teasley: 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting.
Elin Eldebrink: 15 points on 5-for-15 shooting.
After a brief burst of energy to sprint away from the bottom of the Liga Feminina it seems that Extrugasa (5-17) has returned to its losing ways. Extrugasa managed to keep up with Joventut (14-8) for a long time but would end up losing the game 79-77.
The box score is here.
There was a question if Iziane Castro Marques would even play. Despite suffering "un pinchazo muscular" (Google Translate just shakes its head) Iziane took the floor along with Sara Gomez who suffered a sprained ankle. It's a testimony to the fact that Extrugasa was fighting for its life that they managed to keep it so close.
Unfortunately, the only details we have of play-by-play come from the quarter-by-quarter score. Joventu led 25-22 at home after the first quarter but Ibiza closed to within two points at halftime, 39-37. After three quarters, Jovenut led by three points, 53-50, and Extrugasa was able to score 27 fourth quarter points - but Joventut was able to score 26.
Both teams hit approximately 45 percent of their field goal attempts. Both teams were relatively identical in rebounding, with Joventut having a 35-31 edge with 10 offensive rebounds compared to Extrugasa's six. What killed Extrugasa was their tendency to send Joventut to the free throw line, where the home team went 18-for-27, compared to just 13 visits to the free throw line for Extrugasa.
Murriel Page: 23 poitns and 7 rebounds for the North Carolina State graduate.
Gisela Vega Rebora: 20 points and 3 rebounds.
Armintie Price: 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Chicago Sky player, and the only double-double in the game.
Iziane Castro Marques: 19 points on 6-for-13 shooting. Izi went 6-for-7 at the free throw line and was clearly a target of Joventut.
Mara Gomez Novo: 10 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists.
Elisha Turek: 14 points and 6 rebounds.
Silva Morales tries to get the ball past Amaya Valdemoro
Generally, Ros Casares (21-1) doesn't just beat its opponents, it annihilates them. Against Ibiza (11-11), you'd think El Ros would roll up another 20 to 30 point win. Ibiza, however, must have been still smarting from their Copa de la Reina finals loss to Ros Casares last week. Sufficiently motivated, Ibiza was actually able to beat Ros Casares for one quarter...but Ros Casares would win 68-60.
The box score is here. The win by Ros Casares clinches at least a tie for the first seed in the playoffs, and they can secure the first seed with a win next week against Zaragoza.
The first quarter was surprising, not just to someone reading the box score but undoubtedly to the players of Ros Casares - Ibiza was ahead 17-12. (It just goes to show you what Sancho Lyttle can do for a team.) At halftime, Ibiza was actually able to keep a 35-34 lead. However, Ibiza was held to 13 points in the third quarter and 12 in the fourth as Ros Casares fought its way back to another win.
Ros Casares was held to 40 percent free throw shooting, whereas Ibiza hit 37 percent of its attempted free throws. Ros Casares, however, was difficult to beat on the boards as they took a 41-29 advantage with 17 offensive rebounds. Ibiza was able to force Ros Casares into an inexplicable 22 turnovers, but somehow Ros Casares managed to hang on for the win.
Amaya Valdemoro: 17 points, 6 steals.
Erika de Souza: 11 points and 16 rebounds for the game's only double-double.
Delisha Milton-Jones: 8 points, 4 rebounds.
Candace Wiggins: 6 points, 3 rebounds in 16 minutes of play.
Sancho Lyttle: 25 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals. 10-for-15 shooting.
Shannon Johnson: 9 points and 5 assists for "Pee Wee".
Elsa Donaire Malagelada: 7 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists.
William Davidson died yesterday at the age of 85 years old. He was the owner of the Detroit Shock, but was probably better known to the casual sports fan as the owner of the Detroit Pistons and Tampa Bay Lightning. His Detroit Pistons would win three NBA championships and his Detroit Shock would win three WNBA championships.
I don't know enough about him personally to write even a blogger's eulogy, but I do know that he was a great philanthropist, and he loved basketball - and not just men's basketball. Davidson could occasionally be seen at Shock games, even when he didn't look all that healthy. His was not the case of a Les Alexander, the man who took on the ownership of the Houston Comets strictly as a favor to David Stern and was astonishingly indifferent to his own team's success. A billionaire like Davidson has a wide choice of diversions....and he wanted his Shock to win and he wanted to be there to see them do it.
The story as I understand it from women's basketball fans is that he took on Bill Laimbeer as the coach of the Shock because he had affection for Laimbeer during Laimbeer's days as a Pistons Bad Boy. Laimbeer repaid Davidson by winning three WNBA championships. Without Davidson, no Laimbeer; without Laimbeer the WNBA would have lost a great coach.
The WNBA has lost a great patron and an honorable man. My understanding is that Davidson intended for the franchise to remain owned by his family after his passing, and I hope his successor will love the Shock as much as he did.
Friday, March 13, 2009
It appears that there will only be one preseason game this year for the Atlanta Dream. This game will be at Philips Arena on Wednesday, May 27th against the Connecticut Sun. Ten days later, on Saturday, June 6th, the regular season opens at 7 pm against the Indiana Fever.
From what I've learned recently, Chantelle Anderson, Chamique Holdsclaw, Jennifer Lacy and Katie Mattera played in a pick-up game a couple of days ago, so you know that the future members of the Atlanta Dream are keeping busy. If there are any players dreading to take the WNBA court this year, most like they're not wearing Powder Blue.
P. S.: The 2009 WNBA Draft is less than a month from now. I plan on taking part of the day off.