Thursday, April 30, 2009

Gallery of Ros Casares/Perfumerias Game

"Erika de Souza, Michelle Snow. Michelle, Erika."

It looks like my old pic wasn't loading. That's okay. As it turns out, it wasn't from the finals game anyway.

Here are the pics from the finals. Enjoy!

Shay Doron to the Sparks?

So that's how you spell Donna Orender in Hebrew.

The Washington Jewish Week talks to WNBA President Donna Orender as to whether Shay Doron will return to the WNBA:

The decision about 2009 will be coming soon, but Orender made her thoughts known in a recent video that's on Doron's Web site: "It's her choice. I know there's a team that spoken to me about her for this coming year. I'm not sure that's her priorty. I want to say she's an incredibly accomplished athlete, a great basketball player."

The video is right here, by the way.

Rumors are that the Los Angeles Sparks are the team that's interested, and Doron would fit well with them. She never really got a chance to play or show much of anything in New York, but her style of play would go nicely with the Los Angeles team.

Something tells me that she would be welcome back in New York at the very least.

Phoenix Mercury to Hold Tryouts

From the Phoenix Mercury - old news, but newly relevant:

The Phoenix Mercury will be holding open tryouts for WNBA hopefuls on May 2 beginning at 9 a.m. at US Airways Center. From the participants, two women will be chosen to participate in preseason workouts with members of the Phoenix Mercury and its coaching staff at US Airways Center.

Women 18 years and older can register to participate in an instruction and drill session hosted by Phoenix Mercury Head Coach Corey Gaines, General Manager Ann Meyers Drysdale and the Mercury coaching staff. The top 16 participants will be invited back to scrimmage at 6 p.m. Coaches will evaluate each player and select the two people to join the team for workouts in May.

Hey, Atlanta Dream organization! Why can't we do something like this? We've got one open spot for training camp! Maybe we could give recent graduate Jacqua Williams of Georgia Tech an invite to camp? She's better than someone off the street!

Chantelle Likes Apartments, WNBA Player Gets Heckled

From Twitterer montageapts:

Meet WNBA Atlanta Dream player Chantelle Anderson at Montage Embry Hills Apartments on Thursday, May 2, 2009 at 6:30pm RSVP at 404-xxx-xxxx

Is this something done in association with the Dream, or something Chantelle's doing on her own?

And from Twitterer dakotaboy56:

Loved the 4th grader who heckled the WNBA player at school assembly today.

"Today" being yesterday, April 29th 2009. Apparently dakotaboy56 is a teacher in a low-income school district. We have no idea where this is, but inquring minds want to know!

UPDATE: About the apartments thing, we get word from @MissChantelle herself: "i don't know anything about that. i won't be there. haha thats funny."

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

LFB (Spain) Finals 1/2008 - Ros Casares 96, Perfumerias 56

In the best-of-three Liga Femenina finals in Spain, something must have happened to Perfumerias on the way to Valencia - something bad. Perfumerias, the only team that was able to defeat Ros Casares in the regular season, was thumped on the road in the home opener by a 96-56 score.

The box score is here.

Perfumerias scored the first basket, but Ros Casares followed with the next 10 points. El Ros began to work on Michelle Snow and keep her off the boards - she only had one rebound the entire game - and Perfumerias descended into helplessness. By the end of the first quarter, the score was 28-4. It isn't often that a team is up by 24 at the end of the first 10 minutes.

After that, there was nothing else to tell. Ros Casares won the following two quarters, and there was no way that Perfumerias was going to overcome a 73-40 deficit going into the final quarter. Snow remained frustrated, and there was nothing to watch in the second half. Coach José Ignacio Hernández of Perfumerias said it best: "We missed much at the beginning, and Ros Casares is a team that does not forgive. Every mistake was punished with two points."

Some comments from a message board:

"On Friday, I think it should ask for forgiveness, the fans do not deserve this. We are light years away from Ros and above the heat if we pass it today, we are humiliated."
"Absolutely, they have to publicly apologize to the fans of salamanca, unfortunate, and walk to Snow !!!!! scandalous that their attitude, and women go to america! "
"AVENIDA (Perfumerias) 1.2 MILLION BUDGET, BUDGET OF 5 MILLION ROS, I think this clear. "

Ros Casares hit 54 percent of their free throw attempts, including going 7-for-12 from 3-point range. It's a reach to say that Perfumerias shot 30 percent - the actual figure is 18-for-61, or 29.5 percent. Perfumerias was held to 20 rebounds. The visitors might have taken advantage of El Ros's 22 turnovers, but Perfumerias turned the ball over 23 times all by themselves.

Ros Casares

Amaya Valdemoro: 18 points, 5 rebounds, 4 turnovers.
Anna Montañana: 14 points, 3 rebounds, 5 turnovers.
Erika de Souza: 10 points, 9 rebounds. Erika played for just 20 minutes.
Delisha Milton-Jones: 15 points.
Candace Wiggins: 8 points in 16 minutes of play.


Le'coe Willingham: 14 points, 6 rebounds from the Phoenix Mercury forward.
Anke de Mondt: 11 points.
Michelle Snow: 4 points, 3 turnovers. 1-for-9 shooting.

Chantelle Meets Sonny

Sonny: "You're a hoot on Yardbarker!"

From the website of Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue:

ATLANTA – Governor Sonny Perdue today signed into law HB 229, the Student Health and Physical Education Act. He signed the bill at Glen Haven Elementary School in Decatur. The Governor was joined by Atlanta Falcons players Matt Ryan, Erik Coleman and Brian Finneran and the Atlanta Dream’s Chantelle Anderson.

What was great about this was that having a WNBA player there was seen as perfectly normal and natural. As it should be. Kudos to the Office of Communications or whoever put the photo op together at the state capital.

A full gallery of pictures can be seen right here, for those who can't get enough of Governor Perdue. (Oh. And there might be some Chantelle Anderson pics in there, just in case you're interested.)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dream Waive Ashley Shields

The press release is right here. It looks like Ashley Shields's career with the Atlanta Dream ended before it even started.

Here's what training camp on May 17th looks like now:

A: Players Who Played Last Year

C Snow (free agent signing)

F/C de Souza
F Lacy
F Lyttle

G/F Castro Marques
G Latta
G Young

B: Players Who Didn't Play Last Year, But Whom We Expect To Play

C Anderson
G Teasley
F Holdsclaw

C: Players Acquired by Draft or Who Have Not Made a Commitment

C Leuchanka
G/F McCoughtry
G Lehning
G/F Morrow

That's fourteen players. Believe it or not, we could actually invite someone else to Pre-Draft Camp if we wanted to. Why not a local player? (Although Holdsclaw has been talking about Cheryl Ford....)

This also means that we traded a second round draft pick to Detroit for, essentially, nothing. Trader Bill looks smarter and smarter every day.

UPDATE: Richyyy at RebKell explains it best: "Trade in full: Atlanta sends the 18th pick (i.e. Britany Miller) and Kristin Haynie to Detroit for the right to no longer have to pay Kristin Haynie (and three weeks of pretending they had any interest in Ashley Shields)."

Whatever Happened to Cindy Brown?

Cindy Brown, in glorious ABL action.

Here are the leaders in Adjusted Wins Score for the American Basketball League season of 1996-97. It was the first women's professional basketball season from a durable league in the United States since the demise of the Women's Professional Basketball League in 1981.

(Adjusted Wins Score uses the Wins Score formula but assigns 0.3 points for every defensive rebound and 0.7 points for every offensive rebound. Wins Score simply assigns one point for every rebound, offensive or defensive.)

1. Cindy Brown, Reign, 243.0
2. Crystal Robinson, Quest, 240.6
3. Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Rage, 223.7
4. Natalie Williams, Power, 208.5
5. Carolyn Jones, Blizzard, 194.3
6. Adrienne Goodson, Rage, 186.7
7. Valerie Still, Quest, 158.1
8. Katie Smith, Quest, 149.9
9. Teresa Edwards, Glory, 146.4
10. Dawn Staley, Rage, 137.3

And where was the 1996-97 ABL MVP, Nikki McCray? She was 17th on the list with 82.6. The argument could be made that the ABL gave the MVP to the wrong player.

So what happened to Cindy Brown? She was born in Portland, Oregon and played for the Long Beach State 49ers in college. When Brown graduated in 1987, the only place a woman could play basketball professionally was Europe. She ended up playing in Italy, then Japan, then Italy again, and then Israel and France.

She played one year with Seattle Reign - she actually had to take a $50,000 pay cut to play in the United States. The season after, she was to be assigned to Long Beach with the 1997-98 season, but Brown skipped out and signed with the WNBA.

She ended up with the Detroit Shock in the 1998 season as part of the allocation draft. By that time, Brown was 33 and there weren't many years of basketball left in her. She had a great first year in Detroit, finishing second in the league in rebounds and hitting 47 percent of her field goals. However, Brown dropped off dramatically in 1999, fighting injuries (which I can't find out anything about) and looking at the stats it appears that a scrub had snuck onto the court wearing Cindy Brown's uniform. She was traded to Utah along with Korie Hlede for Wendy Palmer, a trade that probably had more to do with Nancy Lieberman-Cline becoming a dead woman walking in Detroit than any shenanigans with Anna DeForge. (Hlede was the Ivory Latta of the Shock in terms of popularity.) Brown played nine games for the Starzz with no better results, but still playing slightly above replacement level.

Then, at 34, Brown retired. After that, she disappears completely from the internet. No coaching jobs. No overseas play. No nothing.

Where is Cindy Brown? Did she settle down and raise a family? Did she move back to Japan or somewhere else overseas? Is she coaching for a Division II or Division III school somewhere? Wherever you are Cindy, you are missed.

WNBA Seasons and the Noll-Scully Measure

One of the ways that you can measure the competitveness of any league - basketball, baseball, football, whatever - is through something called a Noll-Scully measure. I decided that I would apply the Noll-Scully measure to the history of the WNBA.

The way Noll-Scully is developed is to look at a "perfectly competitive" league and compare the league in question to this imaginary league mathematically. We will define perfectly competitive league as a league where "all teams are equal". They are equally competitive to the point that when any two teams play each other on a neutral court, you literally cannot predict who will win. Neither team has a discernable edge and you could predict just as accurately by flipping a coin.

So if such a league existed, and that league was set up the same way as the WNBA where every team played 34 games, what would we expect the league standings to be? You might be tempted to say, "every team will have a 17-17 record at the end of the year"...but you'd be wrong, and the reason you'd be wrong is that you have to take into account what randomness really means. To claim that every team would finish 17-17 for the year would be akin to claiming that for every trial in which you flipped a coin 34 times, you would always get 17 heads and 17 tails. As an experiment, make a trial of flipping a coin four times. Do you always get two heads and two tails with each trial.

The answer is "no": this perfectly competitive league will be affected by a random scatter. (I'll just simply say "binomial distribution" and "standard deviation" and let you go to sleep.) For any of the teams in this perfectly competitive league, the chances are 68 percent that the team will win between 14 and 20 games in a year. (After all, if you were to flip a coin 34 times, you might not get 17 heads but you'll probably get something pretty close to it.) The chances are 95 percent that the team will win between 11 and 23 games. For such a team to either win 10 or less games or 24 or more games would be very rare - the chances would be 4.6 percent or less.

If we know something about how the distribution of wins in a perfectly competitive league "scatter", we can compare the scatter of our test league to this perfectly competitive league and come up with the Noll-Scully measure.

Noll-Scully measure = (standard deviation of wins in test league)/(standard deviation of wins in perfectly competitive league).

Binomial distributions - "random chance distributions" - have a rather tight and regular scatter. If our test league is exactly like a perfectly competitive league, the numerator and denominator become equal, and the Noll-Scully measure becomes equal to 1.00. 1.00 is perfection; non-perfect leagues - in other words, every league - will have a Noll-Scully higher than 1.00.

Here are some commonly accepted Noll-Scully measures for professional leagues:

National Football League: 1.48
National Hockey League: 1.70
National League (baseball): 1.76
American League (baseball) 1.78
National Basketball Association: 2.89

These numbers sort of make sense. The NFL's low Noll-Scully indicates that the NFL is a very competitive league. Every year, it takes until the very last week of play to eliminate some of the teams from playoff contention. The NBA, however, is a very low-competitive league, which is divided into "have" teams and "have-not" teams - except maybe for the #8 playoff spot, one can usually tell right away which teams will be competitive and which teams won't.

And now, the heart of the matter: Here are the year-per-year Noll-Scully measures for the WNBA:

1997 1.40
1998 2.14
1999 1.62
2000 2.22
2001 1.96
2002 1.64
2003 1.65
2004 1.26
2005 2.00
2006 2.12
2007 1.53
2008 1.84

Using a "weighted mean", where the weight of 2008 is "12", the weight of 2007 is "11", etc., the weighted Noll-Scully measure of the WNBA is 1.78.

This is very surprising. This indicates that the WNBA is much more competitive than the NBA - it's a lot harder to tell right away who the best teams are in the WNBA. It takes longer to sort out the playoff picture in the WNBA than it does in the NBA, where at the beginning of the year you can usually pencil the Celtics and Lakers in automatically.

Some observations:

1. 1997 was the most competitive year of WNBA history. If you look at the final regular season standings, it was a 28-game season and no team won more than 18 games. Only three games separated the first place team from the last place team in the Eastern Conference.
2. You would expect the N-S measure to increase every year of league expansion. In 1998, the measure jumped to 2.14 as weak, non-competitive teams were thrown into the mix. With another 1999 expansion, there's an aberration as the N-S measure falls, but in 2000 with the advent of a 16-team league, the NS goes up again as four teams are added to the WNBA. Indeed, 2000 was the least competitive year according to N-S.
3. All other things being equal, after an expansion you would expect an immediate decline in the N-S. From 2000 to 2002 - the years of the 16-team WNBA - the N-S measure goes down every year. The bad teams are given a chance to sort themselves out and become competitive.
4. From 2005 on, the league hasn't been very competitive. In 2005, Charlotte and San Antonio finished in the dog house. In 2006, the league expanded which weakened competitive balance. (Chicago finished 5-29.) The league's balance got better in 2007 when Charlotte was contracted out of the league, but the addition of Atlanta in 2008 made things less competitive again - the Eastern Conference, for example, was much weaker than the Western.

Does this prove anything? No, but it's an interesting way to look at changes from year to year. My prediction is that with the strengthening of the Atlanta Dream in the off-season and with the tightening of roster sizes necessitated by the recession that the league will become more competitive and the N-S measure will drop. We shall see.

Note: This isn't the first time I've written about Noll-Scully - I also wrote about it last year. That's the problem with the flu, it fries your brain.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Diana Taurasi vs. Dan Bickley

I had never seen this before. Dan Bickley, a sports writer for the Arizona Republic challenges Diana Taurasi to a game of H-O-R-S-E.

Let that be a lesson to youse. Never play H-O-R-S-E against someone who plays basketball for a living, male or female.

NBA Tix Sales Flat; WNBA Considering Corporate Logos

She's the Real Thing!

At the Sports Business Journal (paysite), there is an article about how basketball has been able to keep its revenue flat, usually by deep discounting of tickets.

Even though six of the thirteen WNBA clubs are independently owned from the NBA, both detractors and well-wishers look to the health of the NBA for a sense of the health of the WNBA.

Part of the reason that sales are good is because most of the NBA's sales were made before the recession hit. If the recession continues into 2010, we'll soon learn whether the experience of seeing an NBA game is enough to get teams to dig down into their wallets.

The biggest gains at the gate:

New Orleans Hornets: 20.3 percent
Indiana Pacers: 17.5 percent
Philadephia 76ers: 7.0 percent

The biggest drops at the gate:

Sacramento Monarchs: 10.2 percent
Washington Wizards: 7.8 percent
Miami Heat: 6.4 percent

Teams in bold are in cities that also have WNBA franchises. Oddly enough, Washington is probably one of the healthiest WNBA franchises around. The Mystics backers have a lot of money and are willing to spend it. Furthermore, the WNBA team that is on the watch list is the one in Indianapolis. It's not that the Simons don't have money, but its that they're complaining about leaving Indiana unless Indianapolis gives them the same kind of sweetheart deal that the city gave the Colts - and it looks like the Fever is simply hostage to the negotiations.

On News Google, one can only read a sentence or two of articles behind the "pay wall" at Sports Business News - the disappointment comes when you click the link and all you get is a sales pitch. This was one sentence from such a "for-pay" article at SBN:

Now we hear the WNBA is shopping a deal (or deals) under which corporate logos would be sold on the league's game uniforms. The WNBA has not sold such a ...

Frankly, I'm not shaking in my boots. European player uniforms are bedecked with corporate sponsorship. If wearing Coca-Cola's logo keeps the Dream in Atlanta for a few more years, well, "Things go better with Coke!"

UPDATE: The ever-resourceful RebKellians found a free link to the article quoted above. The consensus at RebKell is approval if it ever comes to selling logos on uniforms; I concur.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dream Owner Hosts Meeting of Urban Land Institute

Ron Terwilliger, chairman of Trammell Crow Residential and good friend of the Urban Land Institute, chaired something called the ULI Spring Council Forum. Among the dignitaries there were Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and the current Secreatory of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan.

The conference was three days long and 2,400 people attended.

What was Terwilliger looking forward to after the conference? "What I really want to talk about is the Atlanta Dream," he said.

I guess he's looking forward to the upcoming season just as much as we are.

Heather and Heidi Burge...On Film

It looks like we missed the appearance of Double Teamed on The Disney Channel today, which purports to be the true story of Heather and Heidi Burge. I'm sorry, but if it doesn't include Heather's lackluster career with the Monarchs, it's not a true story.

Whatever Happened to Etta Maytubby?

If you thought Madinah Slaise's picture was small....

While there are no overseas games going on (the last Dream left playing overseas is Erika de Souza), and with me a bit under the weather, I've been trying to add to my database of ABL statistics and I came across a strange name: "Etta Maytubby".

Like many ABL players, I don't have a date of birth on Etta Maytubby, but I've find out a few things about her. She was a forward out of the University of Oklahoma in 1996, where she was one of the few women to break the 1,000 point club at Oklahoma.

My understanding is that she didn't play long. She was a member of the 1996-97 Richmond Rage team that had Jackie Joyner-Kersee. She shot 40 percent from the field - not good numbers for a forward. Maytubby only hit 8 out of 13 freethrows and didn't have a lot of offensive rebounds. I believe that the 1996-97 season was her last in the ABL.

Maytubby then became a patrol officer with the Moore, Oklahoma police department for eighteen months. She was then quoted on an anti-polygraph website sometime in 2001. (The news article the site quoted is broken.) She attempted to apply for the Edmund, Oklahoma police department in 2001 but failed a polygraph test on past drug use. Maytubby stated that she had never failed a drug test in college and offered to provide hair follicles or provide further testing, but Police Chief Dennis Cochran (this was 2001, so he might not be there any more) stated that they weren't interested in hiring her after the failed test. This led to Maytubby suing the department, claiming that the polygraph test was being used to unfairly screen out black, female applicants.

At that time, she was 28 years old. She returned to basketball, playing for the North Harbor Breeze in New Zealand in 2002 and for Peli-Karhut of the Finnish League for the remainder of the 2002-03 season.

For a long time, Maytubby was Oklahoma's leading 3-point shooter, until Erin Higgins hit her 175th 3-point shot as a Sooner in January of 2006. After that, Etta Maytubby disappears off the map.

Wherever you are Etta, I hope that life is treating you well.

UPDATE, October 21 2009: As you might read in the comments, the post above caused no small bit of distress to Ms. Maytubby's friends and immediate family.

Pleasant Dreams apologizes for any implication that Ms. Maytubby ever used drugs or was involved with them in any way. Any reader drawing such an implication would be incorrect in doing so. As the writer, I am the one at fault regardless of my intent to the contrary. Pleasant Dreams apologizes and wishes to leave no doubt in anyone's mind of the truth of the facts which can be found in Ms. Maytubby's reply in the comments section.

I've exchanged a few e-mails with the subject of this post and hope to create a new post soon with more information, past and present. But you won't find it here - you'll find it in the "front" of the blog. As soon as the post is written - and meets Ms. Maytubby's approval - I'll link to it from here.

Friday, April 24, 2009

LFB (Spain) 5-8 Series 2/2008 - Ibiza 96, Joventut 79 - "Super Sancho"!

Alicia Lopez Verdu gets a picture, but she only shot 33 percent for Ibiza. Go figure.

For Ibiza, it was a decisive win at home that knocked off Joventut 96-79 as Ibiza wins the second game out of the best-of-three series. Not only is Ibiza assured of playing in Eurocup next year, but they move on to play Olesa in the finals.

The game also showcased one of the most incredible performances in Spanish basketball I've read about. Sancho Lyttle didn't just open a simple eight-ounce can of whoop-ass on Joventut - she brought it in by the case.

40 points on 17-for-20 shooting.
11 rebounds.
4 steals.
An "efficiency value" of 50 points, the largest I've ever seen in a box score, which can be seen here.

The game was very much like that last one played between these two teams, which shows that Joventut can play thirty good minutes of basketball. Joventut actually led 25-23 at the first quarter, and took a 49-48 lead into halftime while playing on the road. But, as in the earlier game, they collapsed in the second half, falling behind by two points 69-67 after the third quarter....

...and scoring 12 points in the final ten minutes. Meanwhile, Ibiza scored 27.

There wasn't much defense in this game: Ibiza hit 56 percent of their attempted field goals (with help from Sancho) and Joventut hit 53 percent of their attempts. There wasn't even much rebounding on either side - no need to clean the glass when you're hitting everything you shoot. Part of the problem was that Joventut turned the ball over 19 times.


Sancho Lyttle: 40 points. 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 turnovers. 85 percent shooting.
Silvia Morales Martin: 18 points, 4 rebounds, 8 assists.
Shannon Johnson: 16 points, 5 assists. 50 percent shooting.


Armintie Price: 22 points, 6 rebounds.
Murriel Page: 18 points, 5 rebounds.
Gisela Vega Rebora: 16 points, 8 rebounds, 4 turnovers.

I'm beginning to suspect that Sancho Lyttle is going to be nothing short of spectacular this year.

Iziane in Brazil and Her Words About Extrugasa

An article in UOL Esporte in Brazil reports about Iziane Castro Marques and her final days with Extrugasa.

If you don't remember the story, here it is: Extrugasa, a Spanish league club that got rid of several players, including Tamera Young, went into a tailspin and ended up firing their coach. Sinking to the bottom of the Liga Femenina, there was danger that Extrugasa would be "relegated" to a lower division the following year if their record was sufficiently awful.

In a last ditch effort to stop this from happening, Extrugasa signed Izi out of Villeneuve d'Ascq in France to come over and "put out the fire". Not even Iziane could save Extrugasa - they finished last in the league.

During the last game, members of the Extrugasa Board of Directors came into the locker room. The club still owed some of its players money that was due in September. However, the Board stated that since the club's performance was so poor, the club wanted some of that salary back.

Iziane's quote? "I have not been fined. I did nothing wrong and ran to my work within the set." Iziane further states that clauses like that have existed in club contracts for overseas leagues...but this was the first time that she had ever heard of someone trying to actually activate the clause.

"They were looking for alternatives to get the payments," said Castro Marques. "I think it was a way to intimidate the players and have a financial arrangement with them." My guess is that Extrugasa was only threatening to use the clause in hopes of intimidating the players to part with some of their deserved money. I'm further guessing that Iziane didn't part with as much as a Real.

My impression is that Iziane is somewhere in Brazil, far from the media, resting quietly until training camp starts. I guess she won't be seen at any of Chamique Holdsclaw's pick-up games in Atlanta.

(Thanks to Bert from the Painel do Basquete Feminino for first reporting on this news.)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tweet, Tweet, Tweet

From @AtlantaDream on Twitter:

@AtlantaDreamCan't wait for training camp to start May17th!! Welcome home Tamera Young and Ivory Latta!!

That confirms two things:

1) that training camp opens on May 17th, and
2) that Tamera Young is now back in the United States.

Hey, we've got Anderson, Holdsclaw, and Lacy currently in Atlanta working out - what's it going to be like when you add Latta and Young to that mix? We could be AWE-some.

LFB (Spain) 5-8 Series 1/2008 - Ibiza 89, Joventut 71

Okay, I think we've finally figured out what Ibiza and Sancho Lyttle are up to. They are participating in the "5-8 Series", a four-team tournament that apparently determines who finishes 5th through 8th in the Liga Femenina.

Who cares? Good question. It appears that the two finalists will get automatic spots in the 2009-10 Eurocup competition. This gives the mid-level teams something to play for.

For Ibiza, the game meant traveling to Joventut on April 19th, where they beat Joventut 89-71 in the first game of a best of three series. They can clinch the series today with a win at home.

The box score is here.

The game was tighter than you'd think. By halftime the score was only 44-43 in favor of Ibiza. In the third quarter, Ibiza could only extend their lead to four points, taking a 65-61 lead into the fourth quarter. Joventut only scored 10 points in the final 10 minutes, compared to 24 points from Ibiza.

Both teams shot equally well. Joventut made 47 percent of its attempted field goals; Ibiza made 46 percent. However, on the rebounding side Ibiza was dominant, outrebounding Joventut 43-26. Sancho Lyttle made 21 rebounds all by herself, meaning that she came close to singlehandedly outrebounding the entire Joventut team. Ibiza was also sent to the free throw line 21 times, where they made 81 percent of their attempts.


Armintie Price: 18 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists for the Chicago Sky player.
Murriel Page: 19 points and 13 rebounds for a double-double.
Gisela Vega Rebora: 15 points, four fouls.


Sancho Lyttle: 29 points, 21 rebounds, and 4 assists. A super effort from Sancho. She should have been wearing a cape.
Shannon Johnson: 27 points, 4 rebounds. Maybe she is the "Robin" to Sancho's "Batman".
Silvia Morales Martin: 17 points, 5 assists, 5 turnovers.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

LFB (Spain) Semifinals 2/2008 - Ros Casares 96, San José 77

For San José, it's been a disappointing conclusion to the regular and post-seasons. San José threatened a strike at the end of the regular season because the club was months behind on their payments (the native players were paid back all but two months; the foreign players were played in full). At the end of the season, they met Ros Casares, lost the first game, and in a must-win situation ended up losing the deciding game 96-77 at home.

Ros Casares will move on to the finals against either Rivas Ecopolis or Perfumerias, which are tied 1-1 in their best-of-three series. San José's season is over.

The box score is here.

San José did not win a single quarter of the game. They were down 22-18 at the end of the first quarter, and El Ros extended their lead to 12 points by halftime, 49-37. Ros Casares scored 27 points in the third quarter and took a 76-57 lead into the final quarter of the game. San José could only muster up 20 points in the final 10 minutes.

Ros Casares hit 58 percent of their attempted field goals, and went 7-for-17 from 3-point range. San José did well, hitting 46 percent, but Ros Casares was simply much better. Ros Casares held slight margins in rebounding and turnovers over the home team. San José went 11-for-14 from the free throw line...but Ros Casares went 17-for-22.

San José

Shay Murphy: 15 points, 6 rebounds from the Washington Mystics player.
Maria Sanchez-Aguilera: 16 points, 5 turnovers.
Kimberly Butler: 9 points, 3 rebounds for the Oregon State graduate.
Shona Thorburn: 7 points for the ex-Seattle Storm player.

Ros Casares

Candace Wiggins: 20 points, 3 rebounds. Candace hasn't had a big game for El Ros in a long time; today was her day to shine.
Elisa Lopez: 15 points.
Delisha Milton-Jones: 15 points, 4 rebounds.
Erika de Souza: 9 points, 10 rebounds.
Amaya Valdemoro: 13 points, 4 rebounds.

Postscript: Figuring out what Ibiza and Sancho Lyttle are playing for right now is almost impossible. I know it involves the Eurocup, but I don't have any scores to report.

Kristin Haynie Lands in Detroit

Kristin Haynie didn't stay unemployed long. She's just signed as a free agent with the Detroit Shock.

It's a pity that Kristin has to end up with the Evil Detroit Shock, but I'm happy that she's still playing pro basketball.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

WNBA Team Capsules: 1997 Houston Comets

1997 Houston Comets

W/L: 18-10, first in Eastern Conference
Pythagorean W/L: 22-6
Points Scored Per Game: 71.8
Points Allowed Per Game: 65.5


PG: Kim Perrot
SG: Cynthia Cooper
SF: Janeth Arcain
PF: Tina Thompson
C: Wanda Guyton

Last of the 1997 Comets to leave: Tina Thompson remained with the Comets until it was disbanded after the 2008 season. She was the only Comets player to play in each of the 12 seasons of the Houston Comets.

Last survivor: Tina Thompson is still playing in the WNBA, to begin playing with the Los Angeles Sparks in the 2009 season.

The Comets were the very first WNBA champions, and not only that, the Comets defined the WNBA from 1997 to 2000, where they won four straight championships. Fran Harris, a player on the 1997 Comets team, went to to write a book called "Summer Madness" about that first WNBA season.

I suspect - strongly - that David Stern and the WNBA would like to promote the myth that the WNBA was the first women's professional league, that before the WNBA came along there was nothing but desert and tumbleweed as far as women's pro basketball was concerned. (For example, the WNBA has an opportunity to honor the All-American Red Heads at the All Star Game in 2009, but the WNBA comes off as if it doesn't care about the history of the game before they were there.) What many don't realize is that there was already a pro league in existence - the ABL - and players were being forced to choose one league or the other, with agents trying to convince players not to sign with the ABL and sign with the new WNBA instead.

Finding out about the old Comets is an interesting task. Most newspaper articles about the Comets are either

a) Wow, isn't it amazing that women are playing basketball in Houston? God bless the WNBA, or
b) The Comets have won the first WNBA championship.

There really isn't much in between. So we have no idea as to how the 1997 season progressed for the Comets, or what were its highs or lows.

As it turns out, it was the New York Liberty that got the jumpstart in the season, starting off with winning its first seven games and 10 of its first 12 games. Houston at least kept a winning record, with Charlotte and Cleveland sinking below .500 initially - they would catch up. It turned out that every single team in the East would have a .500 or better record, and three of those teams would go to the playoffs, which were reserved for the two conference winners and the two best remaining teams.

Part of the problem was that Sheryl Swoopes of the Comets had given birth that year and that Houston initially struggled without her. She didn't come back until August 7 and after her first three games in a Comets uniform she had nothing to show for it. She would finally score 21 points against the Utah Starzz on August 13 to bring the Comets record to 16-7 and finally bump them ahead of the Liberty.

The Comets still had some work to do. In 1997, the semifinals and finals would be one game apiece. They found themselves playing against the Charlotte Sting in the first semifinal, and Wanda Guyton was injured. However, Cooper had 31 points for the Comets as they rolled over the Sting 70-54 at home.

This set up a Comets-Liberty final, as New York defeated Western Conference champion Phoenix in the other semifinal game. New York, which had struggled at the end of the year, found themselves in Houston to take on their rivals. New York had won three of the four games that year against Houston, and had reason to feel confident. Unfortunately, the 1997 WNBA Title Game mirrored New York's season - start out strong, and stumble at the end.

By the second half, Liberty C Rebecca Lobo was being checked by a dentist after she received an elbow in the mouth from Tina Thompson. The Comets won 65-51 and celebrated the first of their four championships.

Interesting Fact: The first president of the WNBA, Val Ackerman, predicted (so she says) that she thought attendance for WNBA games would be about 4,000 per year. If so, that prediction has been well exceed in each of the years of the WNBA's existence.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Chamique Holdsclaw Signs With the Dream

...and the wait is over! Chamique Holdsclaw has now signed the contract and is an official member of the Dream.

“I’m really excited for this opportunity. It’s a new opportunity and a new day,” said Holdsclaw. “It all comes to an end one day and that’s why I came back… because I realized once it’s over, that’s it. I’m excited that every time I step out on the court here I have people supporting me, not just the fans, but an entire support system. My family, all my friends from Knoxville and my friends here in Atlanta will get the opportunity to see me play again, and that means a lot to me.”

We're just glad that you're here and that we get to see you play again.

The Dream Starting Five

Josh Bagriansky down at Score Atlanta has a chat with both Marynell Meadors and with Angel McCoughtry about the upcoming 2009 Atlanta Dream season.

Meadors gives away some info as to how she sees the starting five:

Meadors is also looking to put all of her options to good use, and gave a bit of insight as to how the lineup will look on opening day.

“I’m not sure who’s going to start at 2,” she said, “But I’d have to save Izzy Castro-Marques will start there. And we’ve got Tamera Young and Ivory [Latta]. The 2 and 3 are really interchangeable in our offense. And when Nikki needs a break Ivory will run the point.”

We furthermore know that if Chamique Holdsclaw is played anywhere, it will be at small forward, according to Meadors.

So who will fill the power forward and center spots? Angel McCoughtry is not a power forward. Erika de Souza is sort of a slide between a power forward and a center. My guess is that since we went out of our way to acquire Michelle Snow, and Snow is a true center, this is what our starting five will look like:

So this is how it looks:

PG: Nikki Teasley
SG: Iziane Castro Marques
SF: Chamique Holdsclaw
PF: Sancho Lyttle
C: Michelle Snow

I think we can compete with this five. That is, if Nikki's knees don't give out and Iziane doesn't become her streaky self and if the depression doesn't grab Chamique and....

Sunday, April 19, 2009

LFB (Spain) Semifinals 1/2008 - Ros Casares 81, San José 59

Just another day for Erika de Souza and Ros Casares.

I'm trying to find out about the 5-8 Finals which involve Ibiza (and Sancho Lyttle) and a quest to get Ibiza into next year's Eurocup. I have a final score for that game, but no box score. However, the semifinals - a best of three series - are taking place now with Ros Casares earning a decisive 81-59 win. Ros Casares goes to San José on Wednesday and if they win, they move to the Liga Feminina finals against either Rivas Ecópolis or, more likely, Perfumerias.

The box score is here. A gallery of images can be found here.

According to the writeup at, it took a grand total of 15 minutes for El Ros to establish its dominance. By the end of the first 10 minutes, San José was down 27-11. Ros Casares scored the first nine points of the second quarter to take a 36-11 lead and led 45-24 at halftime. San José could not win either of the two following quarters, and now San José is now in a must-win situation.

San José only hit 32 percent of its attempted field goals, so I'd guess that the key to the game was San José's poor shooting (Ros Casares hit 48 percent of their attempted shots). San José could only score 28 rebounds compared to 45 from the tough Ros Casares team. Ros Casares turned the ball over 20 times, but San José's 16 turnovers were nothing to brag about. San José's 76 percent accuracy rate at the free throw line resulted only in three extra points.

Ros Casares

Erika de Souza: 14 points, 15 rebounds. And that wasn't the only double-double of the game!
Delisha Milton-Jones: 19 points, 10 rebounds for the second double-double.
Amaya Valdemoro: 7 points, 6 rebounds.
Candace Wiggins: 7 points in 19 minutes played.

San José

Maria Sanchez-Aguilera: 7 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals.
Shona Thorburn: 11 points, 4 assists, 5 turnovers for the ex-Seattle Storm player.
Shay Murphy: 13 points on 5-for-11 shooting for the Washington Mystics player.
Kimberly Butler: 4 points, 4 rebounds for the Oregon State graduate.

BWBL Finals 2008 - Vilnius 68, SK Cēsis 47

Tamera, we hoped you liked Latvia. We'll see you in Atlanta!

Vilnius had been the champion of the BWBL for the previous nine years, so I'm sure they weren't intimidated by the arrival of SK Cēsis. They had beaten Cēsis in the BWBL Finals in the previous year. Vilnius started strong and finished strong, winning the Baltic Women's Basketball League championship 68-47.

The box score is here. Click "View match statistics" to see the box score. A gallery of images can be seen here.

It didn't take long for Vilnius to take an eight-point lead, 17-9 in the middle of the first quarter and ending the first 10 minutes with 26 points. Vilnius had an 11 points lead and they kept that lead going into halftime 39-28. In the second half, SK Cēsis had a hard time hitting anything, and when you're down 11 points, that's disaster. SK Cēsis only scored seven points in the final quarter and Vilnius would cruise to its tenth straight BWBL title with a 21-point victory.

Vilnius hit 45 percent of their field goal attempts in the game, whereas SK Cēsis only hit 37 percent. With Aušra Bimbaitė and Crystal Langhorne of Vilnius gobbling up rebounds, Vilnius outrebounded SK Cēsis 31-21. SK Cēsis only turned the ball over nine times, but Vilnius kept turnovers down to 12 and SK Cēsis had no way to get the ball back after their misses.

With the loss, SK Cēsis has no more games to play until September. Tamera Young can go home with a championship under her belt. She almost had two championships, but it was not to be.

SK Cēsis

Sandra Dijon: 13 points, 7 rebounds.
Ieva Tare: 9 points.
Tamera Young: 8 points, 7 rebounds. Fouled out.
Kristen Mann: 2 points in 27 minutes of play. Mann and Young must have been smothered.


Crystal Langhorne: 28 points, 9 rebounds from the Washington Mystics center.
Jurgita Štreimikytė-Virbickienė: 14 points from the ex-WNBA player. Štreimikytė-Virbickienė last played with the Indiana Fever in 2005.
Aušra Bimbaitė: 5 points, 17 rebounds. Bimbaitė was the rebound leader in the game.

BWBL Semifinals 2008 - SK Cēsis 49, Arvi (Lithuania) 43

Tamera Young helps SK Cēsis out of a hole.

The semifinals and finals of the Baltic Women's Basketball League are definitely tough. Four teams go into the semifinals and the games are strictly single-elimination. While TTT Rīga lost to Vilnius 77-55, SK Cēsis managed to make it to the finals of the BWBL for the second year in a row with a 49-43 victory.

The box score is here. Click "View match statistics" to see the box score. A gallery of images can be found here.

The best way to describe that first game was awful. Neither team broke the double digit barrier in the first quarter, and both teams were tied 9-9 after 10 minutes. SK Cēsis only managed six points in the second quarter with Arvi scoring the first six points of the second quarter, and SK Cēsis went into halftime down 21-15. Tamera Young began to feed the ball in the third quarter, finding enough SK Cēsis players to take SK Cēsis up to a 33-31 lead at the end of three quarter. A tense fourth quarter reulted in Arvi catching up, down just 41-39 with four minutes left, but SK Cēsis held off the Lithuanians long enough for the Semifinal victory.

I can only assume that both teams would have been happier just kicking the ball around the gym. SK Cēsis only hit 30 percent of their field goal attempts...but Arvi topped that with 26 percent. Arvi was a slightly better rebounding team, with the majority of rebounds for both teams being offensive rebounds. Turnovers were virtually identical, but with both teams shooting so poorly, free throw shooting turned out to be the key of the game. SK Cēsis hit six more free throws than Arvi, and that margin was reflected in the final score.

SK Cēsis

Kristen Mann: 22 points, 9 rebounds.
Tamera Young: 12 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals, 4 turnovers.
Ieva Tare: 5 points, all from free throws.


Milda Sauliūtė: 10 points, 4 rebounds.
Laima Rickevičiūtė: 6 points, 8 rebounds.
Lizanne Murphy: 2 points and 3 rebounds for the Canadian player.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Class B Technical Foul

Most likely, I won't be posting tomorrow. I'm driving to Kentucky to visit me dear old sainted mother. Seriously. Ruth and I are on the road.

My hopes will be with Ros Casares, Ibiza and SK Cēsis. Maybe I can catch up.

Talk About Performance-Based Contracts

It appears that Extrugasa, before their final loss of the season to Ros Casares, were given a letter last Wednesday. My understanding is that since Extrugasa had fallen to the bottom of the Liga Feminina (the Spanish Women's Basketball League) and were destined to be sent to Liga Feminina 2 the Extrugasa Board of Directors felt they should be compensated. They were asked to sign a letter turning over part of their salary back to Extrugasa, which would be taken out of their paychecks in September. (Apparently, the team promised them some back salary which was due in September.)

No one on the team signed that letter. The players informed the club that they didn't want to be involved in any contentious disputes right there and then. If the club had any issues with player salaries, Extrugasa could speak with their agents.

Sara Gomez, Extrugasa's team captain, said "It is normal to be disappointed, like all other players in the staff refused to sign the document, as well as punish them for the reason explained above, they were promised payment of salaries owed to them in next September." Basically, she meant that she understood that Extrugasa was unhappy with the results, but the payment was promised to the players and they deserved it.

The story above illustrates the difference between Europe and the United States. European players, like American players, are concerned about the financial survival of their league. The WNBA's union has pretty much given in to management demands - they'll take lower salaries to ensure they have a place to play. European players want to work with management as much as they can, like the Americans.

I expect, however, that the Americans would have been far less polite about it. Suppose that Ron Terwillinger walked into the dressing room of the Atlanta Dream and said, "I'd like for you to return, oh, 25 percent of your salaries back to us after that horrible season. After all, you didn't perform to expectations." It would have taken a crowbar to peel Betty Lennox's claws from his face.

(Heads up to Bert at the Painel do Basquete Feminino blog for pointing out the story.)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Current Shape of 2009 Atlanta Dream

After all the trades, waivers and drafting, here is what the 2009 Atlanta Dream currently looks like:

A: Players Who Played Last Year

C Snow (free agent signing)

F/C de Souza
F Lacy
F Lyttle

G/F Castro Marques
G Latta
G Young
G Shields (acquired by trade)

B: Players Who Didn't Play Last Year, But Whom We Expect To Play

C Anderson
G Teasley

C: Players Acquired by Draft or Whose Status is Questionable

F Holdsclaw
C Leuchanka
G/F McCoughtry
G Lehning
G/F Morrow

With the maximum size of training camp being 15 players - here we are. Four of these players will be sent home sometime between the start of training camp and the start of the season.

Why Betty Failed

I can give three reasons why Betty Lennox never quite worked out. (This post was inspired by a comment Q made. Q is the author of Rethinking Basketball, one of the best blogs out there.)

1. Live by the sword, die by the sword. B-Money is the prototypical "shot creator" - if you look at her player styles spectrum, you'll find her in the "pure scorer" section. B-Money's goal is to make as many shots as she can.

As Rebecca of Game Notes of Doom pointed out to me, B-Money can't play defense. She wasn't pointing out her subjective opinion, but an objective truth. They didn't get rid of six-on-six basketball until 1995 in Oklahoma, which is where B-Money grew up. In six-on-six basketball, three players are permanently confined to the offensive part of the court, and the other three are confined to the defensive part - they can't cross the divider line. Betty Lennox, literally, never had to learn how to play defense growing up, and she doesn't play it well.

Atlanta was one of the worst defensive teams around. If we had looked for great defenders, or traded for them, or had strength in offensive rebounding, Betty's lack of defense might not have mattered so much. Since we didn't, it was one more hole to fill.

2. Old school vs. new school. Marynell Meadors turned 65 years old during the 2008 season, and there were a few players who weren't there long enough to see it. It's hard to say how Meadors manages a team - sportswriters never wrote about women's basketball in the 1980s during Meadors's peak years as a college coach - but I suspect that Meadors's ways aren't something that many players are used to.

I do know that Meadors didn't have much faith in what she saw on the court. It was de rigeur for the Dream to fall behind by 10 points and for Meadors to put on the brakes by calling a time-out almost like clockwork. The problem is that professional players can't be treated like college players and Lennox's coaches had a tough time with her even at Louisiana Tech.

Lennox will only be happy in a system where there's so much talent that Lennox can play "artist", a sort of independent loner who assesses the situation, demands the ball when conditions are near-perfect, and shoots. In a system where demands are going to be put on her, she buckles. Los Angeles will probably be a better fit because they have Parker and Leslie, and that gives Cooper the freedom to let Lennox roam around the backcourt freelance like a lioness in the jungle. Meadors wasn't having that.

3. The Milo Effect. Face it, Betty Lennox is a Milo. It's not just a label that's been applied to her unfairly. The articles I've read about Lennox give the impression that Lennox is two people. Off the court she's friendly and gregarious. On the court...she takes everything to heart and when things are going bad, you see Betty at her worst. Sullen. Uncommunicative. Angry.

She's unhappy when she can't play artist and get the ball when she wants it. She's unhappy when she's called on her lack of defense. She's unhappy when she just has an off night and isn't producing. She's unhappy, period.

Young teams simply can't have these kind of players and survive. A young team has to spend its energy in putting together a workable system and workable players. It can't waste what little power it has handholding people. A talented team like the Sparks can afford to console Betty, and furthermore, if Betty's not hitting Lisa, Candice and DeLisha will be hitting - this takes the pressure off Betty and Betty's issues can be dealt with as time allows.

In short, I suspect that B-Money will be a better fit with the Sparks than she ever was with the Dream. However, if the Sparks struggle without Candace Parker, they are going to find some basic truths about Betty hard to ignore, namely her one-dimensionality and her personality. Who knows, Marynell might end up looking like a genius.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


The picture says it all.

Kristin Haynie Waived

And the final shoe hits the floor. Kristin Haynie has been waived by the Atlanta Dream.

I guess we don't have to fret about following Greek basketball again.

Kristin, the best of luck to you. Sorry you had to get the news on Tax Day of all days.

WNBA Owners - Where the Cash Comes From, v. 2

This is a reprint of an earlier list of mine. Some changes since June of 2008:

a) the Houston Comets are no more, and
b) neither is former Shock and Pistons owner William Davidson, may he rest in peace.

Atlanta Dream -- Ron Terwilliger

Terwillinger is not only a homebuilder, he's been one on a massive scale for more than 20 years. He's the chairman/CEO of Trammell Crow Residential, which builds apartments and condominiums, and invested $10 million dollars in the new Atlanta Dream. A philanthropist, Terwilliger is said to be "very rich". However, he's also 68. I suspect that Terwilliger can float the Dream as long as he wants to. He has at least enough money to have made a bid at owning the Braves.

Chicago Sky -- Michael Alter

Alter is another real estate developer, in Alter's case, commercial real estate. (The company runs about $750 billion in projects.) Alter was also well off enough to throw down a theoretical $10 million for the Sky.

Connecticut Sun -- the Mohegan Indian Tribe

The Sun is the only team in the WNBA that is owned by an ethnic group. Its primary money is from casino gambling, which rakes in over $1 billion a year.

Detroit Shock -- Karen Davidson

Karen Davidson is the wife of the former owner of the Detroit Pistons, the late William Davidson. He was a billionaire ($3.5 billion), so money was no problem for him. He got the money manufacturing architectual and automotive glass, and his widow Karen was bequeathed a nice chunk of that money. The question is, does Karen care about the success of the Shock as much as Davidson did?

Indiana Fever -- Herbert and Melvin Simon

The Simons are billionaires, who also own the Indiana Pacers. They are pretty much America's biggest shopping mall owners. Although the Simons 82 (Mel) and 74 (Herb) are the owners Mel's oldest son David (47) is the current CEO of the company. I suspect the control of the Fever will remain in the hands of the Simons, but the Simons are rumbling about leaving Indiana.

New York Liberty -- Cablevision (Charles and James Dolan)

The Dolans run the New York Knicks and Madison Square Garden as well. Cablevision earns about $5 billion a year, and a deal is in process to make the company private. I doubt that the Dolans are going to run out of cash anytime soon.

Washington Mystics -- Lincoln Holdings

The partnership known as Lincoln Holdings also owns the Washington Capitals, the Wizards, and the Verizon Center. The majority owner is Ted Leonsis. Leonsis's money is computer money -- he's an AOL executive. I would venture to say that he's financially secure. However, the team's president is another partner at Lincoln Holdings, Sheila Johnson. Johnson is the co-founder of Black Entertainment Television and a billionaire.

Los Angeles Sparks -- Carla Christofferson and Kathy Goodman

Christofferson is a full partner at age 32 in the law firm O’Melveny & Myers, a major Los Angeles entertainment-industry law firm. Kathy Goodman helped start an independent production and finance company called Intermedia Films and was a former executive. She now works as a high school teacher. Together, they put up the theoretical $10 million it took to buy the Sparks.

Minnesota Lynx -- Glen Taylor

Glen Taylor is a billionaire and was an influential Minnesota politician, making his money from the manufacture of specialized printed materials, like wedding invitations. He owns the Timberwolves and would like to own the Twins and the Vikings. Worth over $2 billion.

Phoenix Mercury -- Robert Sarver

Sarver is the current majority owner of the Mercury. He was the founder of the National Bank of Arizona, which for a long time was Arizona's largest independent bank. He also acquired several other banks, serves as CEO of Western Alliance Bancorporation and is the owner of the Phoenix Suns. He is worth around $400 million.

Sacramento Monarchs -- The Maloof Family

Headed by Joe and Gavin Maloof, the Maloofs made their cash in hotels, casinos, and alcohol distribution. Each of the Maloof brothers is supposedly worth $100 million.

San Antonio Silver Stars -- Peter Holt

Holt made his cash in farm equipment, building up a small Caterpillar dealership into one of the largest in the country. He's worth $80 million, and thankfully for the Silver Stars, he's a big believer in supporting the San Antonio community.

Seattle Storm -- Force 10 Hoops LLC

Force 10 Hoops LLC is a group of four Storm season-ticket holders that wanted to make sure the Storm stayed in Seattle if the SuperSonics left. They range from a philanthropist to an ex-Deputy Mayor to two former executives at Microsoft. They pooled together the $10 million dollars it took to purchase the Storm.

What Put Out The Fire?

In 2002, the Portland Fire of the WNBA folded.

Up until October 2002, the WNBA was pretty much a lemonade stand for the NBA. The teams - and pretty much everything else - were run by the NBA and the NBA teams in the counterpart cities. 2003 would be the first year of divestiture. It would be the first year when WNBA teams could be owned by someone other than the NBA counterpart franchise. This decision was made by the NBA's board of directors.

NBA teams got first dibs on the WNBA franchises. They could simply decide to own both an NBA and a WNBA franchise. If they didn't wish to own the WNBA franchise, it could seek new ownership.

This led to a lot of shuffling. Utah washed its hands and the Starzz fled to San Antonio. Orlando didn't want to buy in, either, and the Mohegan Indian tribe in Connecticut purchased the Miracle - women's basketball was big in Connecticut and the casino could have an ongoing summer sports event.

At the time, the owner of the Portland Trail Blazers was Paul Allen. Allen claimed that he was losing millions with the Blazers. Since NBA franchises are not required to open the books to the public, no claim of insolvency can ever be verified. However, he was taking major hits in his other businesses, and the Portland Fire was losing money every year.

Not that you would know by looking at the turnstiles. Portland drew well from 2000 to 2002, with about 8,000 a game listed. The truth, however, is in the details - every franchise from the NFL down lies about its total attendance, and the real question is how much was Portland blowing up the numbers? (Unofficial sources say the Dream blows up its attendance by about 10-15 percent; the Shock blow theirs up by about 40 percent.)

Furthermore, all indications were that women's basketball fans living in the Oregon area didn't look down on the Fire or somehow reject them. Fire fans seemed to be willing to wait the length of time it took for the franchise to become competitive.

The problem was a simple one. Paul Allen didn't want to own the Portland Fire. No one stepped up to claim ownership, either in Portland or elsewhere. That was the end of the Portland Fire. The Portland Fire would be the only team in WNBA history never to go to the playoffs.

Gavin Shearer makes the case that the best places for the WNBA to move are what are called "Creative Class" cities after the book by Richard Florida - cities which tend to attract creative people willing to take a chance on new things. Portland was one of those cities, ranking #6 on Richard Florida's first Creative Class list.

The question of why such a city never came up with a new owner is a mystery to me. The rise and fall of the Portland Fire might be one of those unsolved mysteries. Maybe the WNBA asked too much of a potential owner. Maybe Portland has only one franchise - the Trail Blazers - and loves them Forsaking All Others. Maybe because Portland only has one pro franchise it could be the case that the loyalty of Portland sports fans is split in all sorts of directions. Mabye "Creative Class" cities just don't like sports all that much, and that conservative cities are the best ones for long-term franchise growth.

Who knows? Maybe, someday, women's basketball will come back to Portland, Oregon. The first team was never there for very long, so it would be almost like Portland getting a team for the very first time. Maybe someday, there will be another Fire in Portland.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Betty Lennox to Sparks

It looks like B-Money is going to "cha-CHING" in Los Angeles. Betty Lennox has just signed with the Sparks.

I wish her the best of luck...except when Los Angeles plays the Dream, of course. Los Angeles fans should hope that she works better in Los Angeles than she did in Atlanta.

Update: The WNBA Brasil blog figures out the real reason B-Money went to Los Angeles - they needed some muscle when they faced Detroit again. Betty will be the one carrying the bicycle chain onto the court.

Number Thirty-Five

McCoughtry's promo pic.

With the signing of Angel McCoughtry, we have the first time that an Atlanta Dream jersey number will be re-used. Kasha Terry wore #35 for the Dream in 2008; Angel's new promo shots have her wearing #35.

The complete list of jersey numbers...past, present, and maybe some in the future....


#2 – Michelle Snow (2009) – first seen on a promo

#4 – Kristin Haynie (2008-present)

#8 – Iziane Castro Marques (2008-present)

#9 – Chioma Nnamaka (2008)

#11 – Kristen Mann (2008)

#12 – Ivory Latta (2008-present)

#14 – Erika de Souza (2008- present)

#20 – Camille Little (2008)

#21 – Jennifer Lacy (2008-present)

#22 – Betty Lennox (2008)

#23 – Tamera Young (2008-present)

#32 – Stacey Lovelace (2008)

#33 – Alison Bales (2008)

#35 – Kasha Terry (2008), Angel McCoughtry (2009- present)

#42 – Nikki Teasley : worn in a promotional picture in 2008

#43 – Ann Strother (2008)

#44 – Katie Mattera (2008) - known as Katie Feenstra in 2008

Future Dreams?

Chamique Holdsclaw – maybe #1
Sancho Lyttle – would normally be #21, but Jennifer Lacy wears that number
Yelena Leuchanka – maybe #33
Chantelle Anderson – expects to wear #7, unless someone older wants it

The WNBA: New Customers vs. Repeat Business

Someone once wrote that all of women's basketball fandom could be split into three groups. There might be some overlap, but not a lot:

a) the elderly,
b) males taking their young (under 13) daughters so that the daughters will have strong women as role models, and
c) lesbians.

Let's take this bold statement as a jump-off point, and accept it uncritically as fact. The above group is the "repeat business" of the WNBA - these are the WNBA's potential core base, who are going to keep coming to games come what may. They have bought in.

The question is in which direction should the WNBA go if it is to survive? It seems that 100 percent of the emphasis on the WNBA financial future is about new business - we need more fans in the seats. We need better attendance. We no longer need repeat business, we need new customers instead.

Indeed, that appeared to be the emphasis on WNBA advertising from 1997-2000. The goal was to market to the yuppie crowd, and make the WNBA audience a "family audience" - mom, dad, Junior and little Sis. The impression I got from brief glances at the WNBA during the 20th century was that this was to be some vast, untapped market.

Unfortunately, it didn't turn out that way. For whatever reason, the WNBA couldn't grab that middle class young professional demographic. Rumor has it that when these middle class right-leaning families came to Utah Starzz games, they were taken aback by the loud and proud lesbian presence - in Utah. (Did they believe that lesbians did not exist in Salt Lake City?) It would have been unseemly for the WNBA to purge the lesbos, so they lost the Young Republicans.

In the 21st Century, the WNBA began looking for some new, heretofore untapped audience. It appears that they settled on attempting to grab fans that had some hesitation about attending a WNBA game because they believed that the quality of play of women's basketball wasn't very good. This culminated in the self-abasing commercials of the 2008 season where players were forced to repeat humiliating lines on camera as to how bad women's basketball was - with video clips to prove the opposite. The new commercials not only confirmed the prejudices of their target audience but alienated their core audience. The core audience had enough problems dealing with the red-bellied woodpeckers out there; they didn't need the WNBA parroting the arguments of the enemy, even if in jest.

One gets the suspicion that the WNBA doesn't particularly like its core audience and if a magic wand could be waived and all three groups above could be replaced by some corn-fed midwestern demographic it would be the solution to all of the WNBA's problems.

This is a shame, because the solution the to WNBA's financial problems might not be in the hunt for new customers - which should, of course, not be abandoned - but to pay more attention to its core base.

One rule of marketing is that is costs more money to create a new customer than to service an old one. Furthermore, it also costs less money to keep an old customer than a new one, because "brand loyalty" sets in. Let's suppose that the WNBA needs to increase its revenues by 20 percent to survive another year. Which do you think would be the more difficult task?

a) get the core base to put up another 20 percent in revenue, or
b) try to increase your fan base by 20 percent and keep revenue charges the same?

I suggest that a) is easier than b). The a) group is more likely to spend money anyway; you just need to give them a reason to open their wallets.

Therefore, instead of looking for new fans the WNBA should market more effectively to its older ones. This could be a three-pronged effort:

1. Commercials that appeal to the elderly base and the family base. You could theoretically appeal to both bases at once. If I were doing commercials for the WNBA, I would emphasize the link between the current WNBA players and their parents. You see Diana Taurasi all the time, but you never see her parents.

A commercial would be narrated by Mr. and Mrs. Taurasi emphasizing the pride they have in Diana's accomplishments. Diana would not have any lines in the commercial, but we would see her play. Diana might appear at the end with her parents, and the messages would be....

...I am a strong child of strong parents parents nurtured me to achieve my dreams
...I am proud of my parents parents are proud of me

Let's see the red-bellied woodpeckers out there mock parenthood. If you get a set of parents that look elderly and wise enough, it would appeal both to the elderly - "hey, that player is just like our granddaughter!" and to the male (married or divorced) who is looking for something to do on a weeknight or weekend with his daughter. If the WNBA is looking to create a family suggestion is that you emphasize the families that actually exist. If you can get Angel McCoughtry playing one-on-one with her dad in a commerical, that would be great.

2. Commercials that explicitly appeal to the lesbian fanbase. It's time. They have a network for that and everything...ever hear of LOGO?

Face it, of the three groups above, it's the lesbians that have the income. Whenever I go to Dream games, the season ticket areas are packed with older, graying lesbians that own their own businesses, that are executives in companies, that have a lot of disposable income. And, inexplicably, the WNBA would like to ignore that.

Don't worry about getting the reputation of being a "lesbian league". The red-bellied woodpeckers have made that argument for 13 years; they won't be convinced of anything.

If a player is willing to come out of the closet, let her come out and do commercials on LOGO or elsewhere. Hanging out with a bunch of women (the sexual orientation doesn't have to be stated) and just having a lot of fun. "I can be with my friends in the WNBA," would be the message. The WNBA is your friend. Come to the games.

Hell, I'd go all out and see if LOGO could put together a WNBA studio show. Maybe even televise a few games. Why the hell not? I'm sure that a few fiery lesbian fans as announcers could give Art Eckman a run for his dollar. Where is the lesbian Charles Barkley as announcer? Don't tell me that the Lesbian Nation has no opinionated women in it!

In short, in times this bad economically, I suggest to the WNBA that it stop running after the pot of gold behind the ever-further-away rainbow and reach out to what it has. Word of mouth helps business a lot more than the most spectacular commercials anyway. To borrow an old sterotype, it's time for the W to stop trying for the spectacular slam-dunk and put its emphasis on the old-school game.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ms. Irrelevant

Ms. Irrelevant (*) is the name I'm giving to the person drafted dead last in the WNBA Draft in any year. (I would like to think I coined the term, but I could be dead wrong about that.) The name is inspired by the NFL's "Mr. Irrelevant", the name given to the last person chosen in the NBA draft. As Rebecca of Game Notes of Doom pointed out to me "at least Mr. Irrelevant gets a trip to Disneyland - Ms. Irrelevant gets nothing."

The reason this last-past-the-post draftee got the name of Mr. Irrevelant in the NFL is that due to the size of NFL drafts and that in past years the NFL Draft has gone at least eight rounds, it was unlikely that the last person drafted would make the team, much less see any playing time. I decided to look at the various "Ms. Irrelevants" and see what had become of them.

1997: Catarina Pollini - 4th round, 32nd pick in Regular Draft, Houston Comets

Catarina Pollini actually played for the Houston Comets in their inaugural season - she just didn't play very well. With a championship team, there was little place for Pollini, who played a grand total of 94 minutes in 13 games and was significantly underwhelming. She was already 31 years old when she was drafted and when leaving the Comets would play in Italian basketball until her retirement at age 40.

1998: Monica Lamb - 4th round, 40th pick in Regular Draft, Houston Comets

Monica Lamb played three years with Houston, and was a fairly decent player in 1998 - she started 25 games and hit 54 percent of her field goals. The problem was that she was 33 years old when she was drafted, a victim of the fact that anyone who was good at anytime before the league started was likely to be drafted - those teams in the early years were virtually a Who Was Who in Women's Basketball in The 1980s and 1990s.

The decline soon began. She only played 36 minutes in 1999 due to an orbital hemorrhage when she was poked in the eye by a teammate. By 2000 she had lost her starting position, and in May 2001, she retired. Lamb now spends her time running the Monical Lamb Wellness Foundation and its associated basketball camp.

1999: Elaine Powell, 4th round, 50th pick in Regular Draft, Orlando Miracle

The two new expansion teams - the Orlando Miracle and the Minnesota Lynx - were given extra picks at the end of the four rounds. The Miracle chose Elaine Powell, and ever since, Powell has been playing in the WNBA - still active, playing for Orlando, then Detroit, then Chicago, then Detroit again. Powell was 29th in Total Career Games played at the end of the 2008 season and is 16th overall in Total Assist Percentage - not bad for someone who was picked last.

2000: Abbie Willenborg, 4th round, 64th pick in Regular Draft, Houston Comets

Willenborg was the last pick in a bloated 16-team league. Willenborg was the first of our Ms. Irrelevants never to play as much as a second in the WNBA. She's now Abbie Gutzmer and is a girls' volleyball coach at Vernon Hills High School in Illinois. She is also a mathematics teacher.

2001: Beth Record, 4th round, 64th pick in Regular Draft, Los Angeles Sparks

Record would also never make a WNBA team. She would play in Israel in 2002, scoring 20.4 ppg/7.2 rpg for Galil Elyon, and played in Turkey in 2003 and in the NWBL, an off-season women's semi-pro league in the United States. The last anyone heard of Beth Record, she was playing on a exhibition team in 2003. She stated that if her basketball career didn't pan out, she would use her sociology degree. Hopefully, that's what she's doing now.

2002: Tiffany Thompson, 4th round, 64th pick in Regular Draft, Los Angeles Sparks

A graduate of Old Domininon, her common name makes it hard to find out anything about her, as there are younger players now with the same name. The Tiffany Thompson that was drafted by the Sparks seems to have fallen from the face of the earth.

2003: Mary Jo Noon, 3rd round, 42nd pick in Regular Draft, Los Angeles Sparks

By now, the WNBA had shrunk from 16 teams to 14 teams. Furthermore, the fourth round of the draft was dropped - the fates of Willenborg, Record and Thompson might give you some indication why.

Mary Jo Noon was one of those players that disappeared. In 2003, she said that she didn't want to be remembered for just basketball. Be careful what you wish for.

2004: Kate Bulger, 3rd round, 38th pick in Regular Draft, Minnesota Lynx

There were now 13 teams, and inexplicably, one fewer draft pick in the third round. Kate Bulger, the last player selected, was more famous for being the sister of the NFL's Marc Bulger than for her non-existent WNBA career, as she was the fifth Ms. Irrelevant in a row not to make a WNBA roster. Like many of the others before her, Bulger faded away into obscurity.

2005: Heather Schreiber, 3rd round, 39th pick in Regular Draft, Los Angeles Sparks

Schrieber was the sixth Ms. Irrelevant who didn't make a team. However, she had a fallback position - she returned to the University of Texas to play Volleyball. Her sporting career at Texas ended at the end of 2005. She had hoped to coach after she finished at Texas, but I have no idea if she's coaching basketball or volleyball.

2006: Marita Payne, 3rd round, 42nd pick in Regular Draft, Connecticut Sun

With the league back up to 14 teams, this pushed Marita Payne's pick into the 40s. She didn't make the league in 2006 but was signed to a training camp contract by the Minnesota Lynx in 2008. The Australian native played basketball in Turkey in 2007 and 2008, and played for the Australian WNBL in the 2008-09 season.

2007: Kiera Hardy, 3rd round, 39th pick in Regular Draft, Connecticut Sun

The league had fallen back to 13 teams again. Hardy managed to play some preseason games for the Connecticut Sun, but never broke into a regular season roster. Hardy has played in Iceland and the Czech Republic since then.

2008: Charel Allen, 3rd round, 43rd pick in Regular Draft, Sacramento

With the Atlanta Dream joining the WNBA family, the last pick was somewhere back in the 40s and somehow, an extra pick snuck into the list, making Charel Allen pick #43 and the 2008 Ms. Irrelevant.

Even though Allen played only 49 minutes for the Monarchs, Allen finally broke the eight year streak of the last player not making the league, ending the record of ignominy among final picks.

(* * *)

So what are the conclusions?

There are only a couple of good players who have come off that last pick - Elaine Powell and maybe Monica Lamb, but Lamb was already old. Catarina Pollini might have had a good career, but one year in the WNBA was enough for her. Allen hasn't played enough to be considered "good".

The other eight out of twelve players never made it on to a WNBA team. Furthermore, those players from the first three drafts were simply not representative of the years to come, drawing on a pool of much older players.

So here's to you, Ms. Candace Byngham, formerly of Louisville, the 2009 Ms. Irrelevant of the WNBA. Here's hoping that you break the barrier and that your WNBA career is a long and happy one.


(*) - There are some who might object to me using the term "Ms. Irrelevant" due to the use of "Ms." - that I am somehow trying to promote radical lesbian communist feminism. However, that would be up the players to decide. If anyone wants to be called "Miss Irrelevant", I aim to please.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Here are the scheduled games involving Dream players taking place this week: I still don't have a schedule for the Greek playoffs.


LFB (Spain) Semifinals: Ros Casares vs. San José (Game 1)
LFB (Spain) 5-8 Playoffs: Joventut vs. Ibiza (Game 1)
BWBL Semifinals: SK Cēsis vs. Arvi (Lithuania)


BWBL Finals: SK Cēsis vs. TEO Vilnius (Lithuania) or TTT Rīga (*)

(*) If SK Cesis loses the game on Saturday, they will play the loser of the TEO-TTT Riga game.

Greek Women's A1 26/2008 - Paleo Faliro 74, Paghiakos 66 (OT) - A Time of Troubles

While the regular season of the Liga Feminina in Spain was coming to an end with great interest, the regular season of the Greek Women's A1 League was finishing with little notice by even the Greek media. Paleo Faliro (17-9) finished of Paghiakos (8-18) by a score of 74-66 to end the regular season in Greece - but the league's problems were grabbing the attention.

Kastoria (0-26) had stopped playing. Siemens (5-21) has declared bankruptcy. And now, we learn from George Manousidis that Aris Holargos (8-17) was packing in it. Here is his report from

Earlier on this year the team was purely dismantle as the American players left due to financial discrepancies with he team, the Head Coach left for the same reason, the Greek American Power Forward Panagiota Karagiorgos (190-F-84, college: Concordia (NY)) left the team too and then all the other professional girls couldn't survive so they left the team. The last two months the team is playing with girls U18 but right now and in the game in Larissa against Olympiada Larissas, the management couldn't pay the bus to travel from Athens to Larissa so the federation decided to dismiss the team from A1.
It's quite pity for a team like Aris Holargos who ended last season in the third position and went to the fianl four of the Greek cup.

I agree with the assessment of Eurobasket. Something needs to be done to bring the Greek basketball house in order - but I don't know what.

What will happen is unknown. However, Paleo Faliro and Paghiakos managed to survive. Here is the box score of the game.

Paghiakos, playing at home, appeared to be in control. They managed to win the first quarter 22-18 and hang on for a halftime score of 35-33. However, they couldn't escape from Paleo Faliro, as Paghiakos remained up by two points - 50-48 - with 10 minutes left to go. At the end of regulation, Paleo Faliro managed to tie the score at 60-60, and then scored 14 points in the overtime period to steal the victory.

It's so frustrating not to have any better information than an ordinary box score. I don't even know when the playoffs will take place in Greece, or how many games will be played.

Paghiakos hit 45 percent of their field goal attempts compared to 41 percent by Paleo Faliro. Paleo Faliro made up for it by out-rebounding Paghiakos 45-27, with 20 offensive rebounds. Paghiakos would also be the leader in turnovers, turning the ball over three more times than the visitors.


Sonja Dafkou: 19 points, 7 rebounds, 4 turnovers.
Vaso Tsarouha: 13 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 6 steals.
Viki Tassopoulou: 8 points, 4 rebounds.

Paleo Faliro

Teana Miller: 25 points, 12 assists, 4 assists, 5 turnovers.
Kristin Haynie: 9 points, 7 rebounds, 6 steals.
Karen Mourd: 2 points in just 2:46 of play.

The WNBA Draft Experience, Part II

It was time for someone to follow Tamera Young.

Subtitle: "Or, You're in Nancy Lieberman's Backdrop"

Thursday, April 9

I should have realized there was trouble when I got back to the hotel room. Frankly, I was exhausted. My muscles ached all over, and I've been exercising almost every day for the last month. Clearly, whatever exercising I was doing wasn't meeting the goal of living in New York. Furthermore, I was wearing a brand new gray pair of Converse All-Stars....

...and when I looked at my feet, they were blistered. Badly. Walking was very painful, but I was willing to walk through a bed of glass to get to where I was going. Which is good, because I foolishly did not pack an extra pair of shoes. I was just going to have to tough it out.

I agreed to meet Queenie at Madison Square Garden the day before. Queenie and Happycappie meet at the Madison Square Garden to watch New York Liberty games and I realized that this was where the New York Liberty played. There were large posters indicating that the MSG management were rather proud of their Liberty.

After meeting Queenie, we both walked the seven or eight blocks to the Port Authority Bus Terminal where we would take a bus bringing us to Secaucus, New Jersey, home of the NBA Entertainment Studios. Actually, it was a former home of the studios. The understanding from Christine is that the NBA moved their day-to-day studio operations to Atlanta but the Secaucus studios were still used for special events. We began the walk from MSG to the Port Authority at 12 pm. The event was at 3 pm, but we wanted to get there early. According to Queenie, traffic from New York to New Jersey could be treacherous.

We got on the bus and rode to our destination - rather easily, in fact. Atypically, there was no traffic. We were there rather quickly, and we sort of figured out where our Harmon Avenue destination was.

The NBA Entertainment Studios is in a non-descript brown building, probably for good reasons. It's no secret that the NBA building is there - how could you hide something like that? - but it deliberately doesn't draw traffic to itself, lest there be an ever-expanding line of rubberneckers hoping to see Lebron James saunter in. Credentialing was to take place at 1:15 pm and it seems that we arrived exactly at 1:15.

Christine came down to meet us and showed us around the building while we waited for the VIP reception area to open at 1:30 pm or so. About the building - the inner offices are virtually bedecked with NBA paraphernelia. It seems like it was brought into the building by the truckload. Old wooden posters extolling the Zollner Pistons could be seen, with corn-fed, crew-cutted young ballplayers, all white and all midwestern. This was not just old school. This was ancient history. One could get a sense of the history of the NBA just by walking from the end of one hallway to the end of the other.

The reception area was a VIP schmoozing area, and even though we appeared to pass a few players in the hallways, the VIPs in the area were player family members. You knew who you were talking to, because the name tags gave it away. (Read Queenie's write-up at Game Notes of Doom.) The food was definitely great - they had a great steak wrap and ziti - but the place was standing room only. The three of us - me, Queenie, and Christine - ate quickly lest we deny some family member a place to sit.

We would just sit there and watch and identify family members. There were a couple of other VIPs in the room. Queenie recognized C. Vivian Stringer, pointing her out with the words, "I'd recognize that butterfly clip anywhere." The other VIP working the room like an old-line politician was the President of the WNBA herself, Donna Orender.

I asked Christine if it were possible to get a picture with the President. And Christine, true to how well she had treated us the day before, made it happen. I was arm's length away from the President, while she a) schmoozed with a family, and b) addressed one of her children at the same time. (Her son was dressed in a business suit looking sharp.) He had a tiny bit of ziti sauce on his suit and he said, "I don't know how I got that there". The President replied, "Yeah, it was that invisible ghost that follows you around that put that there," and then she grabbed a napkin or something to clean it off. It was so strange watching the President shift effortlessly from businesswoman to mother and then right back again.

I finally got my picture with Donna Orender. I told her "I'm hoping that someday there will be a WPBL throwback game."

Her response, "So do I!" I think she expects to play in it.

The room began to empty out. As we learned, the family members were being guided to the studio to sit at the tables and to serve as a backdrop for the live event. As non-family members, our status was in the air. Our hope was that we could watch the first and second rounds in the VIP room and then get down to the studio for maybe the third round. However, a studio official showed up and told us that yes, we would be allowed to watch the event in the studio itself.

Queenie and I were given seats in the very back row in the very left hand corner. The tables where the players and player families sat were up front. The rest of the place was packed with friends of the players and families. To our far left sitting at a raised podium were Carolyn Peck, Nancy Lieberman, and someone else who I unfortunately forget.

We were sitting right next to the divide between the studio sitting and the actual mechanical part of the studio, which was behind the curtain. Only six or eight feet away from us stood Rebecca Lobo. She was too busy to pay any of us any attention, flipping her notecards and notes and getting perpetually-up-to-the-minute instructions from the figures behind the curtain.

The draft soon started, and President Orender announced the first draft pick - Angel McCoughtry of Louisville to the Atlanta Dream. The same pattern followed for the rest of the major draft picks:

a) player stands up, is embraced by family,
b) friends come to embrace the player,
c) the player walks up to President Orender - they shake hands,
d) the player is presented with a team jersey with the number "09" signifying the draft year,
e) the player walks towards Rebecca Lobo for an interview...which usually never came due to time restraints, and

...f) the player walks toward our section of the studio to disappear behind the curtain and leave the studio. Which means that the last faces in the audience that the player saw were our faces. We were too cowed to say "congratuations" to Angel McCoughtry, but we recovered and definitely said "congratulations" to each of the remaining players, and 90 percent of the time we got a "thank you" back.

About four picks in, Christine came and let me know that it was time for me to get my picture taken with Angel McCoughtry - each of us could choose either to a) take our picture with all of the draft picks as a group, or b) choose an individual picture with one named draft pick. I chose a picture with the #1 Atlanta draft pick and Queenie chose a picture with the #1 New York draft pick.

Getting out of that cramped area where I was sitting required some contortion. Queenie was nice enough to take pictures for me while I was gone. I walked back to a small photographic studio and we all had to Hurry Up And Wait for Angel McCoughtry. Christine walked me around the offices again, and by the time we got back Angel was there. She was working things out with the photographer, and then had her picture taken by a bigwig. (Rank has its privileges.)

Finally, it was time for my picture. I told McCoughtry I was from Atlanta and we looked forward to seeing her. I will simply say that Angel "cleans up" very nicely when she's out of uniform and leave it at that. As we snapped our pics - I'll get them in the mail - Angel said something to the effect of "I hope that you'll be attending some games in Atlanta." Oh, definitely!

Christine then led me back to the studio, but every time I thought I could climb (literally) back into my seat, the studio worker said, "no, not yet". Finally, it was "Go! Hurry, hurry!" - but a man my size can do nothing easy. As I settled in, a WNBA exec said, "You're in Nancy Lieberman's backdrop." Every time the studio went to a closeup of Nancy, I was directly in her background. The last thing America needed to see was some poor fool struggling to take his seat in the background while Nancy was yakking about some draft intricacy.

Unfortunately, when Queenie was taken back to get her picture taken with Kia Vaughn, I couldn't return the favor of taking pictures - her camera might have been some object from an alien universe the way I treated it, and I was afraid that I'd break it trying to pry it open. We watched the second and third rounds of the draft which went much more quickly, as Renee Brown took over for Donna Orender at the podium and the teams had less time to choose their picks. (By that time, the quality players were gone and they were picking off lists.) Candace Byngham of Louisville became the unofficial "Ms. Irrelevant" by being chosen with the very last pick of the 2009 WNBA Draft.

An interesting aside: as players got chosen, they would depart the studio. Their family members would also depart the studio during the commercials. This meant that as the draft progressed, the audience began to thin out considerably. Therefore, to keep the ambiance of a present audience, staffers at the NBA Entertainment Studios were pressed into the job of seat-warmers. They definitely did a good job.

The only thing left to do after Byngham was chosen was to plan our escape - we didn't need to hear any more commentary, and it was just a matter of exiting the studio.

And that was when I had my last brush with women's basketball greatness. It turns out that Geno Auriemma, the head coach of the University of Connecticut, was also present. He was there to see Renee Montgomery be drafted, and he must have decided to leave around the same time as we did. So I was basically walking shoulder to shoulder with Geno Auriemma, trying not to go goo-goo eyed as I exchanged glances in his direction as he was frequently stopped by staffers/fans/friendly that wanted to congratulate him or palaver with him.

(I also never realized that he is a man small in physical stature. For God's sake, keep it a secret between you and me.)

Christine, Queenie and I got back on the bus. The bus back was a lot slower than the bus to the studios - we hit that infamous New York traffic and then some. It certainly game me the time to reflect on all of the awesomeness I had experienced a few hours before.

(* * *)

That's it, except for the PICTURES which are in the link at the end of the post. I want to thank Christine, a senior manager at NBA Entertainment and shepherded us through all of the activities. I also want to thank Queenie and Happycappie for accepting my invitation - I couldn't have had friendlier companions and I felt right at home with them.

And now...the pictures:

Proof positive that I was there.
Sitting in the VIP room.
The seat form inside the studio.
Angel gets drafted!
Angel waits to talk to Rebecca Lobo.
Marissa Coleman is in the black and white print.
Now it's Kristi Toliver's turn!
A better example of how big the studio was.
January meets Lobo.
Okay, now here's Courtney Paris.
Shavonte Zellous gets drafted by the Detroit Shock.
Ashley Walker's moment in the sun.
Can you guess who these three are?
For some reason, near the back of the studio was this rack of basketballs.