Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Vivlamore: McCoughtry and Meadors Will Be ROY and COY

We call this click-love time! Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution gives us some amazing insight on the 2009 season for the Dream.

Angel McCoughtry was ready to quit.

The Atlanta Dream forward was frustrated with the way she was playing in her first WNBA season. The game was no longer fun, so she gave serious consideration to giving up the game of basketball. Serious consideration.


“I was just so frustrated,” McCoughtry said. “Hopefully, this may inspire anyone else who gets frustrated. Don’t give up.”

According to Vivlamore, McCoughtry and Meadors are going to be named Rookie of the Year and Coach of the Year on Thursday.

Remember when AJC articles about the Dream were rarer than hen's teeth? You need - to click - the link! (Several times, if necessary.)

Sancho in Salamanca Soon

Sancho Lyttle's Spanish League club Perfumerias is waiting for her.

The Perfume Avenue and the United States has sent all necessary documentation for Sancho Lyttle can start your journey to Spain. "All the documents are there. Now depends on how long the embassy. Usually one to three days, "said Carlos Mendez, manager of the club Salamanca. Therefore, if all goes normally, between tomorrow (at the earliest) and next weekend, Lyttle is already in Salamanca.

If I recall correctly, the Spanish league season starts on Saturday, October 10th. Lyttle should be with Perfumerias by then.

They Call it "The News Cycle" But It Only Has One Wheel

Last night: Phoenix beats Indiana in Game 1 of the WNBA finals 120-116, setting a record for most points scored by a team and most points scored by both teams in 13 years of WNBA history.

Today: Initial positive reaction from media.

Tomorrow: Bill Simmons writes an article about why the WNBA is doomed because it's obvious that women don't have the skills to play defense.

New Investors on Board in Tulsa

According to KMRG, Scott and Katie Schofield have decided to invest in Tulsa's potential WNBA franchise.

In addition to their passion for sports, Scott and Katie are heavily involved in many cancer-related causes, including the Lance Armstrong Foundation, Oklahoma State's Coaches versus Cancer Campaign, the D.C. Leukemia Ball and the Friends Fighting Cancer Organization.

However, what I can find out about the Schofields is that they're not exactly gazillionaires. They donated about $15,000-$35,000 to the Lance Armstrong Foundation in 2003. I can't find them on the internet, and I don't know where they made their money - which suggests that they might not have made too much of it.

It's good to have them on board, but let's not begin lighting the candles on the celebratory cake just yet.

The One-on-Zero

That's what I call it. Others call it the "fast break". The "transition game". And Swanny's Stats has some extra stats involving fast break points.

Most points scored. Cappie Pondexter of the Mercury is the leader with 132 total fast break points, but Iziane Castro Marques is 4th with 103, Angel McCoughtry is 5th with 91, and Chamique Holdsclaw is 18th with 60.

Highest percentage of points scored from fast break. The winner, oddly enough, is Armintie Price. Price has scored 28 of her 93 points this year - 30.1 percent - on fast breaks.

Shalee Lehning is 3rd with 23.5 percent (24/102). Iziane Castro Marques (103/488) comes in 7th with 21.1 percent, and Angel McCoughtry is 9th with 20.9 percent (91/435). It looks like Atlanta really loves the transition game.

Lowest percentage of points scored from fast break. Both this stat and the stat above require at least 20 games. Three players are tied with 0 percent - Tamika Whitmore of the Suns, Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton of the Sparks and Brooke Smith of the Mercury.

Most fast break assists. Two Phoenix players rule this stat: Cappie Pondexter (38) and Temeka Johnson (37). However, Shalee Lehning is 4th in fast break assists with 27. Iziane Castro Marques and Kara Lawson of the Monarchs are tied for 15th with 16 fast break assists.

Highest percentage of fast break assists. DeWanna Bonner of the Mercury has only 13 assists on the year, but five were fast break assists for 38.5 percent. Iziane Castro Marques (16/67) finishes 9th.

Most fast break points scored, game. On August 2 of this year, Alana Beard of the Mystics scored 15 points on fast breaks in a game against Indiana. She would also score 10 points on fast breaks on July 3rd against Atlanta.

Other players would light up Atlanta for at least nine (9) fast break points. Deanna Nolan hit the Dream for nine points on August 4th and on August 27th and Becky Hammon hit the Dream for nine fast break points on August 6th. However, Angel McCoughtry scored nine fast break points against the Shock on July 22nd.

Choose the Dream "Photo of the Year" at the WNBA Website

If you go to the WNBA link, ten photos from the Atlanta Dream season have been selected for voters to choose from. Which one of the 10 pictures do you think best celebrates the Atlanta Dream of 2009?

Go out and vote.

(Disclaimer: I picked "Elevation". Not only does McCoughtry get some air, but we whalloped Phoenix 106-76 in that game.)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tulsa: Needs to Sell $250 K in Tix?

I've commented in earlier posts about trying to understand the financial model of the WNBA.

We've learned a new piece of the picture from an article in the Tulsa World about the hiring of Nolan Richardson. Tulsa investor David Box said the following:

“We just need people to buy tickets,” he said. “We sold $45,000 worth of tickets for 65 people at the event last week at the BOK. We have 15 suites available at about $13,000 apiece. If we can sell those suites, we’re home. We’re not that far away. We need some sponsors and we need to sell these suites.”

Okay. Let's assume that Tulsa has sold $45K of tickets for 65 people in one of its meet-and-greet events. That's about $700 for each of those people, so I'm assuming that those are season tickets. (The cost is about $750 in Atlanta.) Let's assume that you need about 2,000 season ticket holders. That would give you $1.4 million from the gate, whether or not those tickets are actually used or not.

Box also wants to sell the suites. That's $195K.

Here's the newest WNBA budget:

Season Tickets Sales: $1,400,000 ($700 x 2000)
Suite Sales: $195,000 ($13 K x 15)

Arena Rental: $255,000 ($15 K x 17 home games)
Arena Operations: $153,000 ($9 k x 17 home games)
Salary for Players: $803,000 (Collective Bargaining Agreement)

Income: $1,595,000
Outgo: $1,211,000

Theoretically, this is a profit, but it doesn't count any of the items mentioned in the first link above: player meal money, player travel/relocation, coach costs (Richardson alone will be a six-figure hire), etc.

Once again, these figures are posted entirely for speculative purposes. They are vague approximations at best. The above is simply to give one the idea of the costs of running a team, and where the money comes from and where it goes.

Diana Taurasi Named MVP; Lyttle Gets a Mention

Diana Taurasi received the majority of votes for MVP.

(UPDATE: I thought she had received all of the votes, but the corrections are in the comments below.)

The complete list of votes and vote getters:

323 Diana Taurasi Phoenix Mercury
163 Tamika Catchings Indiana Fever
128 Katie Douglas Indiana Fever
99 Cappie Pondexter Phoenix Mercury
77 Becky Hammon San Antonio Silver Stars
73 Lauren Jackson Seattle Storm
39 Candace Parker Los Angeles Sparks
27 Deanna Nolan Detroit Shock
10 Sue Bird Seattle Storm
9 Lisa Leslie Los Angeles Sparks
8 Sophia Young San Antonio Silver Stars
7 Sancho Lyttle Atlanta Dream
1 Alana Beard Washington Mystics
1 Candice Dupree Chicago Sky
1 Sylvia Fowles Chicago Sky

I'm glad that Sancho Lyttle at least got a few mentions. However, I'm surprised that Erika de Souza didn't even get a mention. I suppose Erika will have to be satisfied with repeating as MVP of the Liga Femenina.

Dream Season Ticket Renewal Packages Out This Week?

So says pilight. And I'd venture to guess that he's right. If you're a season ticket holder, I'd expect a call.

Time to Run the Chamique

Helen Wheelock writes about the changes taking place in the WNBA with coaches and how the game is different between college and the pros.

Currently head coach of the Dream, Meadors established the basketball program at Tennessee Tech, and has helped start three WNBA franchises – Charlotte (’97), Miami (’99) and Atlanta (’08). “I think that that has been my call of duty,” she quipped, “to be a starter person.”

That, as well as being an assistant with several of the league’s teams, has given Meadors plenty of opportunity to see how coaching has changed at the professional level. “When we first started this league, we were all college coaches and we ran the college plays,” she explained. “None of us do that anymore. We’re all running sets. We’re always trying to get the ball to the people that we know that can hit the shot.

There was an interesting comment made about how little current college players know the WNBA by former Sacramento Monarchs coach Jenny Boucek:

Something that has surprised Boucek is how unfamiliar many of the newly drafted college players are with the league’s players. “I have a few that were fans growing up and they love talking about old players that played in college or the WNBA,” said Boucek. “But most of them have never even heard of stars that have been through this league. They don’t know them, they’ve never even heard of them. And it never even occurred to them that they should know them.”

Her solution? We have named our post moves after older [female] post players. One of our moves is Katrina [McClain] and one of them is Lucy Harris. I make them Google the names of the players and learn their women’s basketball history.”

I guess Boucek will have to take her teaching skills elsewhere.

Coco Miller (and others) Visiting Minnesota

From the Post-Bulletin:

Spotted about town this week: Twin sisters Kelly and Coco Miller, who both play in the WNBA. The 1997 Mayo grads are in Rochester visiting after recently concluding their 2009 season, Kelly with the Minnesota Lynx and Coco with the Atlanta Dream. Coco and the Dream earned a playoff spot, but lost in the first round.

The Millers reside in Phoenix in the offseason but often travel overseas to play during the winter.

I didn't know the Millers lived in Phoenix.

Salary Cap in Poland for 2010/11?

From a Polish basketball message board:

The Presidents wish to limit the earnings basketball
author: David Bilski source: Gazeta Wroclaw

Changes in demand members of the Supervisory Board of Polish Women's Basketball League. They occur only at the earliest, however, the 2010/2011 season. Representatives of the clubs want to introduce restrictions on earnings basketball.

According to activists, mainly Polish athletes make high financial conditions, knowing full well that the current rules there is demand for their performances. "We want to reduce the amount of earnings Poles, according to established rules or formula adopted by the open league, which will employ any number of international basketball. It can not be that the players, knowing that it protects the provision under which the whole match two Polish women to be on the floor, fix the financial conditions in excess of commonsense thinking" - says Krzysztof Korsak, president of CCC Polkowice.

In October, members of the Supervisory PLKK to sit together with the authorities of the Polish Association of Basketball to the talks. The discussion will be rolled over the shape of the top league matches in the season 2010/2011. All changes should be known by June next year.

With the folding of CSKA and Poland (a mid-level power) wanting to put in salary limitations, it might be tough times for players looking for supplemental income in the off-season.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mahorn Believes Dream Will Relocate

From Perry A. Farrell at the Detroit Free Press:

"I haven't heard anything about the league folding," Mahorn said. "I've heard that Atlanta might be moving, but other than that, if we're here, I'll be here"

It makes me wonder who he heard it from. Friend of a friend?

Richardson to be Head Coach of Potential Tulsa Team

From the Tulsa World:

Investors seeking to bring a WNBA franchise to Tulsa have scheduled a press conference for 5 p.m. Tuesday to announce Nolan Richardson as the team’s head coach, pending their ability to secure a franchise, the Tulsa World learned Monday.

My suspicion: Cameron and Box have offered Richardson purchase rights for a part of the team if he becomes head coach...and I suspect Richardson has purchased a share.

My odds on a Tulsa WNBA franchise for 2010 - 75 percent.

More Than Just "Click-Love"

The Women's Hoops Blog and Swish Appeal have both made the request, and now, I'm going to make it.

The following link is the link to the ESPN ombudsman site. This is where you go to (usually) complain about stuff, or (rarely) praise ESPN for what they do.

I believe that ESPN is doing a lot better job at covering women's basketball than the print media is. As a matter of fact, they do a better job of covering the WNBA than the home newspapers of several WNBA teams - I'm looking at you, AJC, although the coverage did get better for the Dream near the end of the season. ESPN also has Mechelle Voepel's reporting, which is very good.

But ESPN isn't going to keep covering women's sports if they don't think anyone is reading it. (ESPN women's basketball articles are frequently and anonymously trolled.) You - yes, YOU, reader - need to go to the link and scribble out fifty words or so, even if it's just "I like your coverage and I want more."

People read that stuff at ESPN. You might think they don't, but they do. And after reading 100 comments a day in the range of "You suck!" don't you think they'll be happy to read something positive?

So go to the link, and tell them that you like the job ESPN has doing. If you did, let me know in the comments. Here's an off-season comments thread that we need to get filled up till Blogger breaks!

Lyttle in Spain by Mid-Week

According to, Sancho Lyttle will be leaving for Spain by Wednesday and should land by Thursday.

Perfumerias - Lyttle's Spanish League team - has a "friendly" or preseason match on Thursday, but I don't expect her to take part in it. Then again, Erika only took a week off before playing again, so you never know.

E2/2009 - Ekaterinburg 68, Ros Casares 61

On the second "friendly" preseason match in a back-to-back weekend of games, Ros Casares fell once again to Ekaterinburg, this time 68-61.

A fairly good writeup of the game is here.

Spectatorship fell off, from about 2000 for the first game to maybe 300 for the second.

Erika de Souza scored 24 points for the Valencians. However, Agnieszka Bibrzycka, the "typographical terror" scored 25 points for the Russian visitors.

I don't even have a box score. I don't think that the league site has one or that the team's web site has one. Maybe it's just as well.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Leslie, the Media and "Looking Like Women"

Leslie's actual words about both the media coverage and about how women should carry themselves as representatives of the WNBA are available at Swish Appeal. The entire audio of Leslie's post-game comments can now be heard.

Leslie: "And I can tell you, I'm still really disappointed where women's basketball is. I mean, I just have to say, that this is an opportunity for me, but to see how hard we play and to look at the news and not even be able to find out, you know, to see the highlights of what's happening at Detroit and Indiana or to see the phenomenal play that's happened here, you know, with Diana and the Sparks and myself and Candace Parker, her having 18 rebounds and 24 points.

There's just been phenomenal basketball being played in the WNBA and we just cannot get our place, you know, in society and it's unfortunate that this great opportunity is being missed by, you know, I think the world at times. So I just hope that you guys continue to do your job and continue to write about us and support us. Because we deserve to have a place in the media, we deserve to have a place in the news. And when you turn on the sports channels, you should see what happened in the WNBA. We deserve that."

...and her words on WNBA deportment.

Leslie: "Also another important message is how we represent ourselves as women. We need to look like women; it's important how we carry ourselves, how we dress on and off the court. A lot of these things have to be addressed and continue to be addressed because we are the product, and it's important.

People want to see a good product. They do. That's just the bottom line. And you need to be marketable and I think that more women need to understand that here in our league."

She should have said, "we need to look professional" - a message about professionalism is not one about gender roles.

E1/2009 - Ekaterinburg 64, Ros Casares 57

Erika doin' work.

I suppose that Erika de Souza just isn't the kind of person who takes two weeks off. Surprisingly...she played in the pre-season game between Spanish club Ros Casares and Russian club Ekaterinburg, which took place yesterday only a week away from the end of the Atlanta Dream's season.

A writeup of the game is here. The game was in honor of the 10th anniversary of the foundation of Ros Casares. I believe both teams are going to play again today; I'll find out what I can.

Erika de Souza scored 21 points for Ros Casares. I don't think any other major WNBA player played. Anna Montañana wasn't there. None of Ekaterinburg's big guns like Ann Wauters were there. Finding a box score is...well, I can't find it. Then again, it's only an exhibition game.

At least, it should give Erika de Souza a good warm-up.

Lisa Leslie: "WNBA Players Need to Act Like Women"

Buried in all of the hagiographic commentary about Lisa Leslie - the retiring veteran of the Los Angeles Sparks - a few people at Twitter and RebKell are commenting on something that Leslie said in the post-game comments after the Phoenix-Los Angeles game. Namely, that Leslie said something very much like "WNBA players need to dress like and act like women on and off the court."

This is only a paraphrase. I'm trying to find the actual comment. It looks like neither the WNBA nor ESPN will display the entire press conference - particularly since Leslie was supposedly critical about media coverage as well. I hoped that it would have been attached to the archived Sparks/Mercury game at WNBA Live Access, but no such luck.

So if Lisa Leslie said something like this, I wish someone had asked her - what are women supposed to look like? What are the rules? Are they written down somewhere? Who drew them up? You? And how are women supposed to act? (I suppose they shouldn't be playing basketball. Too masculine.)

Learning that Leslie said something like this casts a raincloud over what should be the honoring of a legendary player.

Holdsclaw Back in Studio for WNBA Finals

It looks like Chamique Holdsclaw's foot-dip into the waters of basketball commentary isn't over.

@Chold1 Just got a message Turner Studio's would love me 2 come back and do da game Tuesday with one of my favs Cheryl Miller!!! and Kate Ready wow.

I don't think I'm going to mind.

Those Other Series:

Indiana 2, Detroit 1. What Bob Corwin called "the Survivor Series" ended with Indiana crossing the finish line just ahead of Detroit. Indiana Pacer's Larry Bird packed the house for Indiana when he bought 9,000 tickets which led to the biggest crowd ever for an Indiana Fever game at Conseco Fieldhouse. That might have made the difference as the Shock fought hard all the way, but Indiana won 72-67.

For Indiana, it is their first Eastern Conference championship. Detroit is denied the WNBA Finals for the first time in five years.

Phoenix 2, Los Angeles 1. When Phoenix got off to a cold start in Game 2, the Sparks returned the favor in Game 3 as Phoenix revisits the finals after their 2007 WNBA Championship, beating Los Angeles 85-74. Phoenix has charted new ground in offensive firepower, and Lisa Leslie's farewell tour comes to an end. (Leslie has been a WNBA start since 1997, the first year of the league.) An emotional game for both Leslie and Michael Cooper, who leaves the Sparks to take over the women's program at USC.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Holdsclaw Back on NBA TV for Deciding Conference Battles

Chamique Holdsclaw is still announcing for NBA-TV tonight. I don't know who her co-anchor is. She'll still doing the pre-game, halftime and post-game announcing.

But of course, you probably already know this if you're watching the Conference Finals

UPDATE: I finally have a name: Rick Kamla.

Holdsclaw on NBA-TV

I really should have posted about this last night, but the commentator paired up with Andre (Aldridge?) last night for both the Indiana-Detroit game and the Phoenix-Los Angeles game was Atlanta's own Chamique Holdsclaw. My understanding is that the studio was located in Atlanta, so it wasn't exactly a long flight for Holdsclaw.

There was no in-game commentary from Holdsclaw. Aldridge and Holdsclaw limited their commentary to halftime and post-and-pre game. I think that Holdsclaw did a commendable job, very soft spoken and feeling no need to create excess verbiage. I hope that Holdsclaw gets a chance at announcing after her career is over, if she doesn't go into coaching.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Lyttle, McCoughtry Make All Defensive Second Team

From the WNBA, the top finishers for the WNBA All-Defensive teams are:

First team

Tamika Catchings, Fever
Lauren Jackson, Storm
Nicky Anosike, Lynx
Tanisha Wright, Storm
Tully Bevilaqua, Fever

Second team

Sancho Lyttle, Dream
Angel McCoughtry, Dream
Lisa Leslie, Sparks
Candace Parker, Sparks
Alana Beard, Mystics
Deanna Nolan, Shock

Verrrry cool. It would have been cool to have a first-team defender, but I'll take two second-team defenders. Some teams didn't get anyone on the list.

Note: There are not two different first teams. The first five listed players are the first team; the following six are the second team.

Steven Key Gets Two Year Contract Extension

From the Chicago Tribune:

"[Chicago Sky Head Coach Steven Key] did a great job of tackling the season's many challenges and injuries with flexibility, creativity and confidence. There is no doubt in my mind that he will continue to move the team forward," Sky president and CEO Margaret Stender said.

I'm sure the Chicago Sky Blog will have something to say about that.

Shannon Johnson and the Keltner List

With Shannon "Pee Wee" Johnson retiring, I'm going to look at my version of the "Keltner List" for women's basketball and see if Shannon Johnson is a real "Hall of Fame" player.

1. Was Shannon Johnson ever regarded as the best player in basketball? Did anybody, while she was active, ever suggest that she was the best player in basketball?

She was nominated as one of 30 players on the WNBA All-Decade Team, and was certainly one of the best players in basketball. Johnson wasn't the best player in the ABL - that would have been Yolanda Griffith. I don't think that anyone said that Johnson was the best player in basketball.

2. Was she the best player on her team?

The Los Angeles Times said that Shannon Johnson was the best player on those old Orlando Miracle teams. During her 1997 and 1998 seasons with the Columbus Quest, she was probably a top 10 player in the ABL in both of those years but wasn't the best player on either of those teams - Katie Smith and Valerie Still were on those teams, and they were better players.

In 1999 and 2002 she was probably the best player on the Miracle, but then Taj McWilliams was better in 2000 and 2001. In none of those four years were the Miracle above .500. The last time she was close to being the best player on her team was probably in 2006 with the Silver Stars.

3. Was she the best player in basketball at her position?

Dee Brown, the former coach for the Miracle, stated that Johnson was the best guard in women's basketball "pound per pound" - I don't think he was an unbiased observer, even as a coach. Shannon Johnson was probably the best point guard during her era.

4. Did she have an impact on a number of pennant races?

She was on the Columbus Quest during those 1996-97 and 1997-98 championship teams, but those teams had Tonya Edwards and Katie Smith. The closest she got to a championship after that was 2003 with Connecticut and 2007 with Detroit.

Part of Johnson's problem was years spent with mediocre teams like the Orlando Miracle and the early San Antonio Silver Stars.

5. Was she a good enough player that she could continue to play regularly after passing her prime?

To me, "past your prime" means "playing basketball older than 33". Looking at her final two years - with Houston and with Seattle - she was good enough to start with Houston but Seattle had Sue Bird. I'm not that impressed with Johnson's later career.

6. Is she the very best female basketball player not in the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame?

Well, she's not eligible for the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame yet, and won't be eligible to 2014. Furthermore, there are three players that could go in before Johnson - Natalie Williams, Crystal Robinson and Sheryl Swoopes - who are all better than Pee Wee. Furthermore, when Johnson becomes eligible so will Yolanda Griffith and Lisa Leslie.

7. Are most players who have comparable statistics and achievements in the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame?

She didn't win any national college championships with South Carolina. She won one gold medal as an Olympian in 2004. A couple of ABL championships. Looking at the total picture, Johnson isn't as bedecked with glory as some of the other Hall of Famers. It's going to be a hard case.

8. Do the player's number meet Hall of Fame standards?

In career stats for her WNBA career, she's 2nd all-time in assists (behind Penicheiro, even if you add Johnson's ABL numbers) and 7th all time in steals. (All stats as of 2008.) Unfortunately, she's 4th all time in turnovers (2nd all time among point guards) and 20th all time in personal fouls. There's nothing statistically that's absolutely overwhelming, although the point guard position suffers from a lack of flashy statistics - you could make the case that her total assists alone are a Hall of Fame standard.

9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by her statistics?

I don't know the answer to this one. She is definitely well-liked, but she also bounced around a lot in the league.

10. Is she the best player at her position who is eligible for the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame that is not in?

Yes, if she were eligible today. However, give Sue Bird another season or so and the answer will be "no".

11. How many MVP-type seasons did she have? Did she ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was she close? How many All Star-type seasons did she have?

I don't think that Shannon Johnson was ever close to being voted in as an MVP (pilight would know the answer to this one.) In terms of PER - a rating by stats guru John Hollinger - Johnson didn't even have close to a true All-Star season. She never won any of the major ABL Awards, but was named three times to the All-WNBA Second Team.

However, she was a nominee for the WNBA All-Decade Team and was consider one of the top 30 players of the WNBA after its first ten years of existence.

12. How many All-Star games did she play in?

Johnson was a four-time All-Star with the WNBA, and was an All-Star in each of the ABL's complete seasons.

13. If this woman were the best player on her team, would it be likely that that team could win a WNBA championship?

She was a great player, but more in a consistency sense than an "impact season" sense. If the other players on the team aren't as good as Johnson or aren't having peak years, I don't really think so.

14. What impact did the player have on basketball history? Was she responsible for any rule changes? Did she introduce any new equipment? Did she change the game in any way?

I don't think that's the case.

15. Did the player uphold high standards of sportsmanship and character while playing the game? Is this the kind of person you would wish to be a representative of the highest level of basketball?

As far as I can determine, she's an all around nice person. You wouldn't be ashamed of Shannon Johnson.

WNBA Playoff Ratings Up

From Sports Media Watch:

The first round of the 2009 WNBA Playoffs averaged a 0.2 U.S. rating and 312,000 viewers on ESPN2, flat in ratings but up 11% in viewership from a 0.2 and 282,000 viewers last year.

Household viewership is up 15% (264,000 vs. 229,000).

The numbers are over 1/2 the rating of the first round of the Stanley Cup on Versus. Not bad. Not bad at all. My wife even talked someone into watching the first round of the playoffs - don't know how that went.

Out on the Town

Chamique Holdsclaw and Tamera Young meet before Young takes off for Europe - probably at a club known as Opera ATL. Clearly, they're going to stay good friends.

I got this from Holdsclaw's Twitpic. KariWNBAFaninMi writes "Thats a nice pic. I wished she still played for Atlanta :(". Holdsclaw responds, "You and me both".

P. S. @Chold1 also has words of wisdom regarding that Russian gazillionaire buying the New Jersey Nets: "Being the wealthiest man isn't the same thing as being the smartest man."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Erika Now In Spain

Erika de Souza has now arrived in Spain to meet up with her Spanish League team Ros Casares.

I doubt that she'll be playing on Saturday when Ros Casares faces UMMC Ekaterinburg, but you never know. No word as to whether Sancho Lyttle is with Perfumerias yet.

McCoughtry Makes All-Rookie Team

From the WNBA:

McCoughtry, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 WNBA Draft presented by adidas, topped the charts among all WNBA rookies in points (12.8) and steals (2.2) and ranked fifth in assists (2.1). McCoughtry’s 2.2 steals per game led the Dream and placed her in the top five among league leaders. She finished the season with two consecutive adidas Rookie of the Month honors. McCoughtry helped propel a team that finished with only four wins in 2008 to second place in the Eastern Conference this season. The Dream advanced to the 2009 WNBA Playoffs presented by adidas, marking the first postseason appearance in franchise history. The 14-game improvement is the second-best single-season turnaround in WNBA history.

The full team:

Angel McCoughtry
DeWanna Bonner
Shavonte Zellous
Renee Montgomery
Marissa Coleman

Hmm. It looks like both McCoughtry and Bonner got 12 votes each and Zellous and Montgomery got 11 votes each. It's going to make the Rookie of the Year voting very interesting.

UPDATE: Click Chris Vivlamore's article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to show your click love.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Red-Headed Nurse

The Job Blog of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tells the story of one of the All-American Redheads, Becky Harp Pritchett, who played for the team from 1965-1969.

“Oh my goodness, it was so exciting being in the stadium and seeing the Atlanta Dream,” Pritchett said. “It was all I could do not to jump down on the court and start playing. Watching them, you just wanted to get back into it.”

It was a humbling experience for Pritchett. “We got a standing ovation. It was such an honor.”

Pritchett’s five-year-old granddaughter was in attendance and heard stories about her grandmother’s exploits with the Red Heads for the first time.

“I guess you can see we got the ball rolling for teams like the Atlanta Dream, by showing that women could get out there and compete on par with men,” she said.

Pritchett is now an emergency-room nurse in Eastman, Georgia. I'm sure that Ms. Pritchett knows the meaning of the words "crunch time".

All-WNBA Teams Announced

They're right here. The list:

First Team

Diana Taurasi
Tamika Catchings
Lauren Jackson
Becky Hammon
Cappie Pondexter

Second Team

Candace Parker
Sophia Young
Lisa Leslie
Katie Douglas
Deanna Nolan

Excuse me while I chuckle. Sancho Lyttle and/or Erika de Souza should have made one of those lists. Lisa Leslie barely squeaked by, and you're telling me that she did a better job this year than Erika de Souza? Surrrrre.

Also to the WNBA: these cannot be the "complete results" unless these were the only 10 candidates. Mathematically impossible, y'know. These are simply the top finishers.

Orender Interviews for LPGA Position

From Golf Digest:

So who fits the bill as golf insiders with business experience? The two names getting the most juice are Donna Orender (shown on the left alongside Amy Mickelson last week at the Samsung World Championship), president of the WNBA and a former VP with the PGA Tour who was involved in TV negotiations there, and Pete Bevacqua, the Chief Business Officer of the USGA who has helped direct a streamlining of the operation at golf's governing body. According to sources, both have been interviewed by Spencer Stuart and both have some important supporters backing their candidacies. Both also have roots in golf and strong business experience.

So Orender has actually interviewed with the LPGA. Does this mean that she wants out of her job, or that she just wants an even better job?

The post I wrote early this year might have some importance if Orender leaves her post as WNBA president. See the bottom paragraphs.

(Maybe Gary Cavalli should be placed on speed dial?)

Tulsa Planning Investor Event at BOK Center

I've learned that Tulsa's investor are planning an event at the BOK center on Thursday, September 24 2009 - tomorrow. Among the two big things planned besides schmoozing:

a) Ashley and Courtney Paris will be there, and
b) they will give potential investors have the opportunity to purchase seats at the BOK Center.

Well, at least Tulsa remains serious about its search for the WNBA team. The Dream did it differently, however - my understanding is that way back in 2007 the Dream got commitments from a group of season ticket holders first and then found an owner, rather than reverse.

I hope the attendees at Tulsa buy a lot of season tickets.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

McCoughtry Off to Camp for the USA

Angel McCoughtry has accepted an invitation to attend the 2009 USA Basketball Women's National Team fall training camp.

The camp meets from September 30th to October 5th at American University in Washington, DC. A 12-member team will be assembled at some point in the future.

Currently attending the camp:

Alana Beard
Swin Cash
Tina Charles *
Shameka Christon
Candice Dupree
Lindsey Harding
Ebony Hoffman
Asjha Jones
Crystal Langhorne
Angel McCoughtry
Maya Moore *
Lindsey Whalen
Candice Wiggins

* - college player

Some players have already been named to the National Team, namely Sue Bird, Tamika Catchings, Diana Taurasi, Seimone Augustus, Sylvia Fowles, Kara Lawson, Candace Parker and Cappie Pondexter.

I believe that this roster will be cut down to 14 point in time for the 2010 FIBA World Championship for Women. The 2006 team, composed of WNBA stars and Candace Parker (at the time with the University of Tennessee), finished third at FIBA.

UPDATE: According to Chicago Sky Hoops, "After that, selected players will travel to Ekaterinburg, Russia, where the USA will compete in the 2009 UMMC Ekaterinburg International Invitational from October 9th-11th."

On Player "Retirements"

Q McCall at Swish Appeal writes about Shannon "Pee Wee" Johnson's retirement from the WNBA...but not from basketball:

Since Johnson announced her retirement, I’ve heard multiple people express concern about players choosing to leave the WNBA to play basketball overseas because a) it shortens ones career to be playing professional basketball year-round and b) players make more money overseas.

There are already NBA players choosing to leave the U.S. mid-career to play overseas. As of yet, no all-star caliber player has done that at the peak of their career, but it’s difficult for a U.S. entity to compete with foreign entities given the current economy.

Johnson is certainly on the decline at this point in her career and this problem is by no means at crisis level. But you wonder what kinds of things the league is trying to do to address the problem.

This was such a good point that I wanted to write a blog post about it.

Actually, if this is news to the people expressing concern, they haven't been watching. I believe this has been going on for several years now. In particular, some foreign players who travelled to the WNBA between 1997 and 2000 returned to their home countries and played for several years.

Part of the problem is the paradox of lesser European leagues which pay better money. In Europe, from my understanding, teams are subsidized by both corporations and the respective European governments. Teams in Europe looking to win big in their respective national leagues or in Euroleague play will hire big WNBA stars for six figure salaries - a player can earn more overseas despite playing in front of smaller crowds.

This paradox doesn't exist in other major sports. For example, suppose a big-name baseball star has clearly hit his declining years to the point where he is a marginal talent at best. There's just no other league that's going to pay him the million-dollar salary to which he is accustomed. AAA isn't going to pay that. The player might be lucky and play in Japan, but most American baseball players aren't accustomed to playing overseas and learning a new language.

So they retire. Better to retire than play for lesser cash in a sub-standard league. Would Joe DiMaggio or Ted Williams have played longer if there was an overseas winter baseball league which might have had lesser talent but which paid better? I think Teddy Ballgame probably would have played into his forties if there was such a thing.

Johnson's case is not the case of a player saying, "I have a few more productive years in the WNBA, but I'll just go to Europe and play for more money to preserve myself." Pro athletes just don't think like that. Every pro athlete thinks "I am one of the best in the world." And I believe that the WNBA is the best women's basketball league. Athletes - at least American athletes - are probably going to play there until it becomes obvious that they can't hang anymore. Then, and only then, they'll head for Europe full-time.

(Note the large number of ex-US college players that play full time in Europe. For those players, it's definitely not a case of "I can make more money in Europe." It's a case of "I can't get on a WNBA roster.")

When a major American college player - a potential first round WNBA draft pick - eschews the WNBA to play in Europe full time, then I'll be worried. But not until.

WNBA Owners - Where the Cash Comes From, v. 3

This is a reprint of an earlier list of mine. Some changes since April of 2009:

a) Melvin Simon has died.
b) Update on Dream owner Ron Terwilliger.
c) Update on Jean Davidson.
d) Update on Michael Alter.

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 68-year-old philanthropist, Terwilliger is said to be "very rich". However, Terwilliger began looking for ownership partners for the Dream in August 2009, before the season had concluded. With the recession adversely affecting the real estate market, one wonders how deep ownership's pockets are in Atlanta.

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.) As of 2005, the Alter Group was one of the nation's ten largest commercial real estate developers.

Alter was also well off enough to throw down a theoretical $10 million for the Sky, and will move the Sky to a larger arena in 2010. In August 2009, Alter purchased The New Republic magazine.

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.

In Septmber 2009 Davidson was at best non-committal about the future of the WNBA in Detroit. "I hope they keep it together. But it is an expensive undertaking for the league and the owners. We'll see."

Indiana Fever -- Herbert Simon

With the death of his brother Melvin Simon in 2009, billionaire Herbert Simon owns both the Indiana Fever and Indiana Pacers. He is pretty much America's biggest shopping mall owner. Simon is 74 and his nephew David (47) is the current CEO of the company.

Most of the quotes about the Fever leaving Indiana came from Melvin Simon - can one assume that his brother feels the same way?

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.

Those Other Series, Elsewhere

Indiana vs. Washington: Washington had heart, but they just didn't have Indiana's talent. 2-0 Indiana, as both series in the Eastern Conference end up as sweeps.

This poses a real difficulty as to who to root for in the Eastern Conference Finals. If Indiana wins, then the Dream are really third place - Indiana beats Detroit, which beats Atlanta. If Detroit wins, then...Detroit is in the finals, enough said.

Seattle vs. Los Angeles: Los Angeles won that won 2-1 on Seattle's home court in probably the worst-officiated playoff game in WNBA history. Yes, I know you can't blame series on the officials, but I think that Los Angeles's win should have an asterisk next to it. Seattle goes out in the first round for like the fourth year in a row or something.

Phoenix vs. San Antonio: 2-1 in favor of Phoenix. I watched that deciding game last night. It was a track meet. "You think you can hang with us, San Antonio? Try to catch up." San Antonio did as well as they could, but ran out of oomph.

This sets up a Phoenix vs. Los Angeles Western Conference Final. I'm leaning towards Phoenix because

a) I'm in contact with more Phoenix fans than L. A. fans,
b) if Los Angeles wins, we'll never hear the end of "This is Lisa Leslie's final year in the WNBA", and
c) there's the danger that those Seattle/Los Angeles referees will show up again.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Air Michelle

1963 - Michelle Jordan is born in Brooklyn New York.

late 1960s - Michelle and her family move to Wilmington, North Carolina.

late 1970s-early 1980s - Michelle devotes all of her time to basketball, as it is the only high-profile varsity sport for girls offered at Laney High School in Wilmington. During her sophomore year she tries out for the girls' basketball team and makes the team with no problems. Michelle begins tallying up several 40 point games with the Laney High School junior varsity...before her growth spurt. She would average about 25 points a game in her senior year of high school.

1981-1982 - Michelle decides to attend the best program for women's basketball in her state - North Carolina State, coached by Kay Yow. She helps the Wolfpack to the Final Four as a freshman in the first year of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament.

1984 - Jordan plays for the first United States women's basketball team to earn a gold medal.

1984-1985 - Having no reason to leave school early, Michelle manages to lead North Carolina State to a second NCAA Final Four appearance in her senior year. A close loss to Old Dominion in the semi-finals ends Michelle's basketball career.

1985 - An offer is made to Jordan after graduation to become the first woman to play for the Harlem Globetrotters. She declines and heads overseas.

1985-1996 - Without a professional league, Jordan spends most of her career in Spain and France, playing for an alphabet's worth of European teams. Her play is essentially unrecognized in the United States. Many of the greatest years of Michelle's career are played in small European gymnasiums.

1996 - While playing for Gran Canaria in the Liga Feminina in Spain, Jordan looks forward to playing in the American Basketball League. She is contacted by the NBA front office and told to wait for the arrival of the new WNBA. Jordan makes it clear to the ABL that she will not be participating.

1997 - Michelle Jordan is allocated to the Cleveland Rockers as part of the 16-player initial allocation draft of the WNBA.

1997 - In her first season in the WNBA, the 34-year old Jordan manages to lead Cleveland to an 18-10 record and a tie with Houston in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately, Cleveland falls to Phoenix in the one-game WNBA semifinal. Cynthia Cooper wins the WNBA Most Valuable Player award; Jordan finishes second.

1998 - Cleveland finishes at 22-8 in the Eastern Conference after Jordan states that this is her final year at the beginning of the season. The goal is clear for Cleveland - get "Mama Jordan" a ring. This time, Cleveland makes short work of Phoenix, winning the semi-final 2-0 to face a Houston Comets team that finished 27-3.

In one of the great series of WNBA history, a last-second buzzer beater by Mama Jordan keeps Cleveland from getting swept and sets up a Game 3 in Houston. Jordan scores 29 points but it isn't enough as Houston takes it second straight WNBA Championship in the "Game of the Century". Jordan finishes fifth in MVP voting.

1999-2000 - Jordan takes a job in the front office at Charlotte but finds the actual behind-the-scenes work uninteresting. Charlotte's coaches and staff quickly learn that Jordan is more interested in going to the Cherokee Indian casino and playing slots that in any other work.

Before Jordan can be fired, Jordan decides to come out of retirement and signs as a free agent with the Washington Mystics.

2001 - It becomes painfully obvious to Washington that the 38-year old Jordan is not the player she used to be. Assigned to theoretically mentor younger players like Chamique Holdsclaw, Jordan is dismissive of Holdsclaw's obvious talent, making for an unhappy locker room. Jordan "leads" Washington to a 10-22 record in the Eastern Conference, good for sixth place. Claiming that injuries are bothering her, Jordan promises that next year will be better.

2002 - Jordan manages to provide spectators a few glimpses of the old Michelle Jordan, but not enough. Still, Washington finishes 17-15. However, Jordan does not pass the ball in Game Two of the Eastern Coference semi-finals - trying to do it all herself - and Washington loses to Charlotte. Supposedly, harsh words in the locker room are exchanged between Holdsclaw, Jordan and first-year Mystics coach Marianne Stanley. The Mystics come out listless in Game 3 and are eliminated by Charlotte.

late 2002 - Michelle Jordan retires for the second and last time. She is quickly disabused of any hope of working for the front office of the Mystics. She would later state that she felt "betrayed" by the Mystics.

2003 - Jordan picks up a job in the front office of the Sacramento Monarchs. When it becomes clear that Jordan's work habits have not improved, John Whisenant requests that Jordan be fired at the end of the season. The Monarchs job would be the final time Jordan works for a WNBA team.

2006 - Jordan keeps busy with promoting basketball instructional tapes and selling vitamins. In 2006, she is named by President Donna Orender as a "Goodwill Ambassador" of the WNBA. The job gives Jordan occasional opportunities to travel and provides a small stipend.

2009 - Michelle Jordan is named to the Basketball Hall of Fame. More attention is paid to the speeches of John Stockton and David Robinson, and ESPN inexplicably excludes Jordan from a induction photo. (She is later photoshopped back in.)

Only people who have been following women's basketball for a long time know who Michelle Jordan is. Most WNBA fans have not seen Jordan play. The Chicago Sun-Times includes a blurb about Jordan missing in the photo: "Jordan WHO?"

Tulsa Could Fall Short By End of Month

From Bob Corwin at Full Court Press:

Tulsa has not yet raised enough funds to buy a WNBA franchise. Word has it that former University of Arkansas men’s coach Nolan Richardson, who has been targeted as the future Tulsa head coach, was offered a piece of the franchise ownership to try to bring him on board. WNBA President Orender is trying to give Tulsa extra time to raise sufficient capital. In her most recent comment about the possibility of a team in Tulsa, Orender implied that the team could be an expansion team or a franchise relocation.

The rest of Corwin's article concerns the health of the three WNBA teams that everyone is paying close attention to:

Atlanta: As far as I can tell, the Dream have not sent out their requests for season ticket renewals. (Then again, it could be that the Dream might change venue.)

Detroit: Karen Davidson didn't exactly offer reassuring words regarding the continuation of women's basketball in Detroit.

Indiana: The article must have been written before the Fever organization sent their season ticket renewal packets out. That's no guarantee that the Fever will be here next year, since Houston did the same thing.

We'll keep ya posted with what we know, which ain't a lot.

Dream/Shock Gallery

The final huddle.

Tara Polen provides the final regular season gallery of images from

And if you've like the galleries from, if you like college ball, they'll have some women's college basketball articles and galleries coming up in the fall.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dream Looking Forward to 2010

The Associated Press gives us some clues as to what 2010 will be like in Atlanta.

Don't expect the Atlanta Dream to overhaul their roster again next season, not after the second-biggest one year turnaround in WNBA history.

Coach Marynell Meadors says there will be a few additions after the Dream followed up their four-win 2009 inaugural campaign with 18 victories.

Remember the motto of this blog: CLICKING THE LINK SHOWS YOUR LOVE. How will reporters know that you like basketball if you don't click on the writing?

Among the clues:

* Expect Holdsclaw, Snow and Lyttle back next year.
* Chamique Holdsclaw will play in Poland in the off-season. I wonder if she'll join Iziane Castro Marques in Krakow?
* Meadors will look for some help in the frontcourt for de Souza.
* Atlanta is looking for more depth at point guard. (I suspect that either Latta, Miller or both are gone after this season.)

"We will not be happy until we are wearing rings on our fingers," Meadors said. "We've prove we can play. Now, it's up for us to take to another level."

I just hope Holdsclaw gets some rest. Doesn't the Polish season start on October 1st?

Castro Marques Not Alone in Krakow

Among Iziane Castro Marques's new teammates for Wisla Can-Pack in Krakow will be Janell Burse and Marta Fernandez.

Burse has played with the Seattle Storm for five of the last six years and has played with Dynamo Moscow in the previous off-season. Marta Fernandez played for Wisla Can-Pack last year, and played with the Los Angeles Sparks in 2007.

She will be playing for Jose Ignacio Hernandez, the new coach of Krakow. Hernandez was the head coach of Perfumerias last year and has been a force in women's basketball in Spain for several years, if I understand correctly. Perfumerias went to the Euroleague finals last year and went to the Spanish league finals as well. Krakow wants to make a big splash in European basketball and Krakow got Hernandez to leave Perfumerias despite one year remaining on his contract there.

Trivia: Magdalena Skorek wears Iziane's #8. Therefore, Iziane will be wearing #44 for Krakow.

Columnist Uses Logic, Populace in Uproar?

Jay Conley of the Tulsa World thinks that a team in Tulsa is a great idea.

My favorite line:

To summarize the situation as it stands today, one fine reason to support the inclusion of a WNBA team into the local fabric is because so many dummies are against it without knowing exactly why.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Card For Ivory

Ivory Latta has an upcoming birthday on September 24th. (She will be 25 years old). The poster from the Atlanta Dream Message Board known as nextivorylatta wants to make a group card for Ivory.

Anyway, if you'd like to sign the card, here is the link. I signed it! The link will tell you what to do. What happens to the card after its signed? That's a mystery only nextivorylatta knows....

Tulsa Decision: By End of Month?

From "The News on 6":

The final decision on the WNBA franchise will be made by the end of this month.

Maybe Jeffrey Smith knows something we don't.

Dream Holding Exit Meetings Today

@chold1 Just waking up. Just wanna kick it with my Moms and stepdad 2 day. I got this exit interview at 330 with the Dream then I'm a free woman.

It looks like the Dream is scattering to the four corners of the world stating today. Chamique Holdsclaw has a few things to say about it on Twitter:

@chold1 Headed out to Suwanee for this meeting which shud be quick. I'm taking my family out to eat after I can't wait.

Unfortunately, her meeting gets held up.

@chold1 Pissed these meetings have ran over smh. I got things 2 do with da fam. My meeting was at 330 and its 2 people ahead of me.

And the frustation starts to kick in....

@chold1 Exit meetings are a formal way of sayin goodbye see u nex season. Half da stuff dat is said is strait B.S. That's my opinion afta 10 yrs.

I think at that point, I'd just leave Meadors my e-mail address. "Have fun, Coach! See you next year!"

P2/2009 - Shock 94, Dream 79

"All right, who is to blame?"

I'm going to try to rush through this without much thought. I just want to wrap the season up as quickly as I can and not feel compelled to write very much about it. You gotta keep your head up, look straight ahead, and move on.

1) Sound carries very well in The Arena at Gwinnett Center. I got a chance to see Ivory Latta practicing, and as she heaved up 3-point attempts from various areas of the court, I could hear every grunt and occasionally, an "Oh Lord!"

2) I saw Kelly Miller in the audience with two people who looked like her Mom and her Dad. Kelly Miller, a guard for the Minnesota Lynx, was undoubtedly there to see her identical twin sister Coco Miller play. Kelly's season is over, so she had no other obligations. Soon, neither would Coco.

2a) She was talking with someone wearing a "Georgia Lady Dogs" T-shirt. I wonder how many Georgia Bulldogs womens' basketball team fans live in Duluth.

3) The Dream were practicing in WNBA Playoffs T-shirts. Yes, WNBA, I know that it's important to get the logo on everything, but a WNBA Conference Semi-Finals? I'd wait at least until the Conference Finals for such things.

4) I got to see Kara Braxton close up and personal. Looking at the jersey numbers on the Shock's practice sweats, it seems like the #45 is an ironed-on patch...which is starting to fade over time.

5) Working out with the Shock was Rick Mahorn (I was seated near the Shock's section.) Mahorn was wearing an old pair of grey shorts with his gut hanging out over them. I noticed that he has some sort of tattoo on his lateral left calf, but I couldn't make it out. If any tattoo experts or other taxidermists care to enlighten me on the meaning of Mahorn's tattoos, I'd be grateful.

6) More on sound carrying well in The Arena at Gwinnett Center - the 24-second buzzer will split your ears in half. The advantage, however, is that it's nice and cool in The Arena.

7) Katie Smith was all dressed up. Obviously, she wasn't playing. Let me be the first to say that Ms. Smith cleans up verrrrrry nicely. However, I'm married, so Ms. Smith is safe.

8) The Shock seemed to be taking its warmups very seriously. Usually, most teams will make a half-assed show of stretching, but the Shock were really into it. I couldn't see what was going on on the Dream's side of the court, but Carol Ross was working with the players again for the pre-game. I thought I also saw Sue Panek out there.

8b) If Williams or Panek disappears in the off-season, we'll know which one of the two shouted out "Kelly" to take those free-throws in Game One. There will only be one assistant coach for all WNBA teams in 2009; someone has to go to the back of the bus.

9) The Dream are still wearing their #5s. Once again, I saw #5 written on Sancho Lyttle's upper arm.

10) Someone named Sheena Brown sung the National Anthem. My prognosis was that she was okay. I give her a "C". Didn't embarrass herself, but nothing spectacular.

11) The Arena went pitch black for the player introductions. One thing that The Arena at Gwinnett Center doesn't have that makes a big difference is the Jumbotron. The Arena have two television screens at the opposite ends of the arena that are too small to really gather the crowd's attention.

The Dream played their intro music and clip - Beyonce's "Diva". In the dark - their section of the court wasn't lit during the intros - the Shock were jamming to the music and trying out their club moves.

12) Atlanta starters: Latta, Castro Marques, de Souza, Lyttle, McCoughtry
Detroit starters: Hornbuckle, Teasley, McWilliams, Ford and...

...Nolan. Yep, after suffering a concussion in Game One, either Nolan or her trainer decided she was all right to play in Game Two. Nolan was the last person to take the practice court, getting a very brief warm-up before the start of the game.

13) The first quarter seemed to start well for the Dream. We got off to a 4-0 lead. Our passing, however, wasn't that great. Alexis Hornbuckle hit a 3-pointer to put the Shock up for the first time 9-8. From there on it was back and forth until the Shock made a little run at the end of the first quarter to finish the quarter 23-19.

14) I counted no more that three bad calls against the Dream in that first quarter alone. A bad call against McCoughtry than sent Shavonte Zellous to the foul line, a foul against Michelle Snow on a legitimate block of a Kara Braxton shot attempt that sent Braxton to the line (where she missed both shots) and a foul against McCoughtry for what I felt was incidental contact.

Those bad calls gave Detroit four points. (4-for-6 from the free throw line.) Before Shock fans accuse me of whining, let me write that refereeing was not what lost Atlanta the game. However, the foul calling was horrible. I feel really sad for the NBA that these guys are going to be allowed to call games.

15) At the end of the first quarter, McCoughtry had 10 of Atlanta's 19 points. Detroit was shooting 50 percent and the Dream was shooting under 40 percent. Deanna Nolan had eight points of her own.

16) In the second, Marynell Meadors had this (partial) lineup on the floor:

Ivory Latta
Coco Miller
Jennifer Lacy
Armintie Price

With all due respect to Ivory Latta's accomplishments in this game, that's not the lineup that strikes fear in anybody. On the other hand, this was when I first learned that Chamique Holdsclaw wasn't even dressed. We had nine active players, the Shock had nine active players and this was what it had come to.

17) McCoughtry picked up her third personal foul of the game with 7:17 left in the second quarters. That would bring in Miller for McCoughtry and partially contribute to the lineup you saw in #16, above.

The first part of the game slogged as no fewer seven free throw attempts took place before the McCoughtry foul. After the foul, Nolan sank two free throws for a 30-26 Detroit lead.

18) With the Latta-Price-Miller-De Souza lineup on the floor and the Shock up 33-26, the Dream went on an 11-4 run that saw Latta hit a 3-pointer and Coco Miller hit a long 2-point shot. The only player on Detroit's team to score during that run? Nolan. (Nolan played 37 minutes of the game.)

Even so, Atlanta's play still looked sloppy and unfocused. During one sequence, with the ball almost going out of bounds, Detroit managed to save the ball. Atlanta was caught unawares, and only a 24-second violation kept Detroit from adding two points.

19) Rick Mahorn was having a nice long chat with Referee Kevin Sparrock, riding him like a rented mule. Mahorn never shut up. Detroit learned this from Big Bill Laimbeer - ride the referees all game and play as hard as possible. Make the referees fear for their jobs if they call a bevy of (deserved) calls against Detroit, and force the officials to give you the benefit of the doubt lest the game degenerate into an endless march to the free-throw line.

As DTP at RebKell would say, "That's just hard-nosed basketball." It sure works for Detroit.

20) There was more questionable foul calling against Atlanta in the back half of the second quarter, but a lot of those were real judgment calls. Coco Miller hit a basket putting the Dream back in the lead, 39-37. With Atlanta back over the limit in fouls, Detroit caught up with Atlanta and took the lead 43-41 on a driving lay-up with 49 seconds left. Lyttle answered back with a basket five seconds later, and picked up the foul....

...but missed the free throw. Atlanta was having a horrible night at the free throw line. By now both teams were over the limit, and a pair of Crystal Kelly free throws put the Shock up 45-43. However, with eight seconds left Ivory Latta hit a 3-pointer to put the Dream up 46-45. Zellous got the ball back and attempted two shots, but could get neither to fall. Atlanta would carry its 46-45 lead into halftime.

21) So how did we look? In the score going into halftime, we looked fine. However, the score hid a lot of problems.

First, our rebounding:

Erika de Souza: 8 points, 1 rebound
Sancho Lyttle: 6 points, 1 rebound

Detroit had a 21-11 first half rebounding advantage. They were getting the defensive boards and overall getting the ball. The only reason were were in the game at all is that we were 5-for-7 from 3-point range.

Second, free throw shooting. We had only hit 53 percent of our free throws.

We weren't concentrating. Our "system" - PG moves the ball up, hands to McCoughtry or Castro Marques and Lyttle/de Souza gets the rebound - was broken. We weren't getting rebounds. McCoughtry and Castro Marques had three personal fouls. Lyttle and de Souza didn't hit the boards. If it werne't for Ivory Latta's shooting and McCoughtry's big first quarter we'd be down and not up in the second.

22) Halftime entertainment was Star - the hardest working mascot in the WNBA - with two other unidentified mascots - performing at the Jonas Brothers. They were lip-synching to some nameless and tuneless Jonas Brothers song. I didn't think it was much of a show....

...until a group of about 15 young ladies rushed the court and the mascots fled from their screaming fans. Great punchline that we didn't see coming. A friend told me that the young ladies - many of whom wore headscarves - were members of a mostly Muslim basketball team in Atlanta.

The other part of the entertainment was the Super Dunk Team. Trampolines, basketball, dunking. A great show, but you can only see it once, and this was the third time I've seen it in two years. Maybe they should set the basketball on fire....

23) As the third quarter started, Detroit came out strong and we faltered. The went on a 10-0 run at one time, sparked by Cheryl Ford and Deanna Nolan. The Dream were called twice for traveling. Angel McCoughtry missed a comple of jumpers and De Souza missed from point-blank range.

During the run, Erika de Souza picked up her fourth personal foul. For three minutes, the Dream didn't score and it looked like shades of Game One. Meadors was forced to call a full time out. Also during the run, the opening strains of Green Day's "Brain Stew" were used as the Dream moved the ball up the court.

My mind is set on overdrive
The clock is laughing in my face
A crooked spin
My sense is dulled
Passed the point of delirium

24) Louis Williams of the Philadelphia 76ers was in the crowd. No one even knew who he was. Is he the dude that Armintie Price is going to be marrying?

25) During the run, however, McCoughtry picked up her first steal of the night - halfway through the third quarter. Another foul was called on Armintie Price - another dubious call which finally broke the back of the audience, which started booing loudly.

26) However, Detroit went over the limit with 3 1/2 minutes to go. Price, amazingly, hit both of her free throws. Latta drove to the basket...and then thirty seconds later, she was at the basket for an amazing drive and foul!

...and Latta missed the free throw. Michelle Snow, however would drive to the basket and pick up a foul. She hit both of her shots, the second putting Atlanta up 58-57.

27) Indeed, the most amazing thing about those last three minutes of the third quarter was Ivory Latta. Down 61-58, she hit a 23 foot 3-pointer with 51 seconds left to tie the Dream at 61-61.

28) What we didn't know was this would be the high water mark of Atlanta's 2009 season. (Our motto in 2008 - "Expect Great for Thirty Minutes.") Armintie Price had one smart move left - she fouled Detroit with 15 seconds left, knowing that the Dream had a free foul to give. However, Detroit scored the last five points of the third quarter and led 66-61 going into the final ten minutes.

29) Detroit was still outshooting the Dream 48 percent-43 percent after 30 minutes. Erika de Souza finally got some rebounds; Sancho Lyttle didn't. Iziane Castro Marques played seven minutes without scoring a point. Hell, without taking a shot. What the hell?

30) In the fourth quarter...

...well, what can you say about that fourth quarter? Detroit went 12-for-18. Atlanta went 6-for-18. Nothing but a bunch of missed shots.

31) In the crowd: Georgia Bulldogs head coach Andy Landers. Obviously there to say hello to the Miller sisters, and others.

32) Detroit continued its third quarter run to extend the lead to 70-61. The final game of iPod Karaoke for the 2009 season was played. It was Ivory Latta, making a wretched attempt at a song called "Knock Me Down". If there was anything the Dream got right, it was that the Shock couldn't Knock Ivory Down. But one player does not a team make.

33) The announced attendance was 4,780. Sounds about right (suitably inflated). Friday night game in a foreign arena when high school football is being played all over Georgia. At least The Arena at Gwinnett Center can make a small crowd look big.

The 4,780 attendance was the lowest attendance in Dream history. Maybe after Game One, the fans had seen enough. I heard that both WNBA Live Access and NBA-TV were glitch-filled all night. If true, consider yourselves lucky.

34) With 6:34 to go in the final quarter and Detroit up 72-63, Shavonte Zellous blocked an Angel McCoughtry jump shot. I guess Zellous said her piece about the potential Rookie of the Year.

35) With 5:31 left, Zellous would steal the ball from McCoughtry. The running layup made the score 79-65 in favor of Detroit. My friend looked at me and said, "That's the game, right there."

Atlanta looked listless, as if they just wanted to get this beating over with and go home. The winner of a Grand Hotel Promotion was announced on one of the screens at the far ends of the arena. He only looked mildly amused. Great.

36) McCoughtry hit an amazing 3-pointer in the corner as time expired to close the score to 79-68. Zellous answered with a 2-pointer just before a 24-second violation, and got the free throw to reset the score to 82-68.

37) The Shock drove forward. They led by 17 points on an Olayinka Sanni drive with about two minutes to go.

38) It was time for the Jam Cam. But the Jam Cam only looks good when you have a big screen. It just looked like a half-assed Jam Cam. And who wanted to Jam when you were down by 15+ in your final game of the season. Maybe the overhead should have played a funeral requiem.

39) The final moment of amusement left to be squeezed out of the 2009 Atlanta Dream season announced, "In for the Dream...Nikki Teasley."

I understand his confusion. At least he corrected himself.

40) The final points of the 2009 season for the Dream were scored by Jennifer Lacy. At the free throw line, she hit her first shot...but missed the second. Of course.

94-79 Shock. Teasley dribbled the final seconds of the game away and Atlanta's dream of a WNBA championship was finished.

Okay. I'm done. The final game writeup of the 2009 season is over. Thanks to everyone who read them.

Show the Love

Sekou Smith at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes about the Game Two loss:

“This is so disappointing,” McCoughtry said. “We thought we had this series, and I really thought we had a chance to contend for a championship this year. We have so much talent, but unfortunately, it just wasn’t meant to be.”

Click the link, and show the love.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Two and Out

Atlanta fell 94-79 tonight at the Arena at Gwinnett Center. It was the second loss in a best-of-three series. Detroit wins 2-0 and moves on to the Eastern Conference finals.

Atlanta's season is over.

What else is there to say? Here's the box score to look at, although you'll probably be like me, crawled up in a corner somewhere.

As you might understand, I might not blog on Saturday. Depends on how I feel.

UPDATE: pilight has inadvertently cheered me up:

We signed you up to be our team leader
And be an asset to our fledgling team
We didn't plan on you riding the cedar
While the bullies from Detroit ended the Dream

Where oh where are you tonight?
Why did you leave me here all alone?
I searched the world over and thought I found true love
You met another and Phht! you were gone

Oh well. Chamique and Shalee will be healthy next year.

Fox Fail

From Sports Business Daily:’s Web series "Cubed" may have pushed the line too far with its debut episode. The Web site early Friday afternoon pulled the launch episode of "Cubed" and replaced it with a much more politically correct version. Female nudity that made up about 35 seconds of the 16-minute clip was at first pixilated and then later removed entirely. Also, some of the raunchier segments were deleted completely, including a discussion among the show’s three main characters about whether they would rather watch the WNBA or gay porn.

According to the article, "Reviews of the premiere, which launched Thursday afternoon, were universally negative."

Well, this is what you get when the average emotional age of your sports journalists is 13. Hell, I don't know, maybe you should hire some more women. Just puttin' it out there, geniuses; a little diversity might have kept you from footbulleting.

Nolan Now Uncertain for Game Two in Atlanta

From the Detroit Free Press:

Star guard Deanna Nolan was still woozy this afternoon after the Detroit Shock landed in Atlanta, so her availability for Game 2 of the best-of-three Eastern Conference semifinals is uncertain, according to coach Rick Mahorn.


“We just don’t know yet,” Mahorn said of her status for tonight’s game in Duluth, Ga. “I’m not trying to hide anything, but she’s still feeling woozy. We think it’s a slight concussion. All we’re doing today is watching film. We’ll have a shootaround on Friday and see what we have.”

Bonner Wins WNBA Sixth Woman - McCoughtry for ROY?

According to the Montgomery Advisor, DeWanna Bonner (not "DeWanba") of the Phoenix Mercury will be announced as the WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year.

There has been a competition between two players - Bonner and Angel McCoughtry of Atlanta - as to which would win the Rookie of the Year and which would win Sixth Woman. The consensus is that they will split the awards...meaning that if Bonner has been named Sixth Woman, then McCoughtry....

UPDATE: It's official. Here is the final vote tally:

20 DeWanna Bonner Phoenix Mercury
10 Angel McCoughtry Atlanta Dream
4 Shevonte Zellous Detroit Shock
1 Kara Braxton Detroit Shock
1 Kristi Toliver Chicago Sky
1 Hamchetou Maiga-Ba Sacramento Monarchs
1 Crystal Langhorne Washington Mystics

(Thanks Phoenix Stan at Swish Appeal.)

Atlanta vs. Detroit, Friday September 18th

Who: The Atlanta Dream (18-16) take on the Detroit Shock (18-16) in a playoff game.

The Dream have a cast including Angel McCoughtry (12.8 ppg) and Sancho Lyttle (13.0 ppg, 7.5 prg). Iziane Castro Marques (14.4 ppg) leads the team in scoring. Deanna Nolan is back (16.9 ppg) for the Mystics and rookie Shavonte Zellous (11.9 ppg) helps an injury-riddled Shock team.

What: The second of a best-of-three Eastern Conference Semifinals play-off series. The first game was played in Detroit on Wednesday where the Shock won 94-89. The Dream must win the remaining two games in Atlanta to move forward.

Where: The Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, GA. Note that neither this game nor a possible Sunday game will be played at Philips Arena.

When: Tipoff is 7:30 pm Eastern on Friday, September 18th. The game will be nationally broadcast on NBA-TV. The game should also be available on WNBA Live Access - as it turned out, the game wasn't available there last time but since not all markets get NBA-TV it should be available.

Why: Game One told you why right there. With Detroit winning the home opener, Atlanta must win tonight and then win the follow-up game on Sunday to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. If we don't beat the Shock tonight, it's "see you (hopefully) next year".

It is very hard to keep the Shock down. Three times this season a WNBA team has come back from an 18 point deficit. Two of those times were Detroit Shock comebacks, the first last night in Game One where the Dream were held scoreless for over five minutes in the third quarter. Even when you're leading Detroit, you can never be secure.

Part of the reason for that comeback was Deanna Nolan. Nolan had been shooting under 30 percent in the four regular season games against the Dream, but it doesn't matter if you take a lot of shots. She went a sub-par 9-for-23 but she scored 25 points against the Dream in Game One.

The big question is whether Nolan will play at all. She went down with a concussion in the fourth quarter of Game One and despite Rick Mahorn's assurances that Nolan will show up in Game Two Detroit doesn't sound as confident as they could. If Nolan sits out Game Two, don't be surprised.

We can probably expect another appearance from the Dream's Chamique Holdsclaw. She only scored three points on 1-for-4 shooting in Game One; clearly, she's picked up a lot of rust from her extended layoff due to injury. If there's ever a time we needed to see the Chamique Holdsclaw of old - or at least flashes of that player - it's tonight.

Coaching might make a big difference. The Dream's ability to manage during crunchtime was called into question when the Dream coaching staff inexplicably called an 84 percent free throw shooter to substitute for Nolan to take free throws when Detroit had two sub-70 percent shooters on the bench. Meadors said that if Crystal Kelly had missed one or both of those shots, it would have been seen as a smart coaching move. (And if were 1 1/2 feet taller, I'd be Shaquille O'Neal.) A Game Two Atlanta victory will heal all wounds.

Let's get out there and support our team. If there's any time the Dream needs its fans, it's now.

Dream Make AJC Again: Quick Preview of Game 2

Sekou Smith of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes from Dream practice before Game Two tonight. Quoting Ivory Latta:

“But we are so pumped up because we know when we come back here and have our fans behind us we can accomplish anything. They’ve truly been our sixth man this year, and we’re going to be focused and have a lot of energy. I promise you we’re going to come out of the gate strong and ready to go.”

You heard that? And now, you need to let the AJC hear it by showing your love and clicking the article.

Silent Majority

Back in November 1969, Richard Nixon used the phrase "silent majority" for the first time. There were a large number of Americans protesting loudly against the Vietnam War. "And so tonight," said Nixon, "to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans - I ask for your support." Nixon believed that a loud minority overshadowed the fact that many Americans supported Nixon's efforts in Vietnam, but were simply not as vocal as the protestors.

John Klein of the Tulsa World writes about the Tulsa's quest for a WNBA team and how it seems to have brought the haters out of the woodwork:

Few things, including the success or failure of local college football teams, has generated such strong feelings in recent weeks as the possibility of the WNBA landing a franchise in Tulsa.

There has been no shortage of fans willing to trash everything about the WNBA. Where those strong feelings come from, and what they say about our society, is better left to the sociologists.

Just as race relations has become a hot topic with the election of President Barack Obama, the WNBA has sparked a similar debate over gender equity in sports.

Many argue that they just don't like women's basketball. That's fair.

What doesn't seem to fit is the strong opposition some have to even giving the WNBA a shot in Tulsa. They don't want the WNBA in Tulsa or anywhere else.

Of course, some argue that a WNBA team will not be successful in Tulsa, but those people are arguing numbers. They're not claiming that the WNBA shouldn't be allowed in Tulsa; they hope for the best for the team but just don't believe it will succeed. There is, however, a more loutish element separate from the one previously mentioned. I would tell Mr. Klein that the more hateful opposition ties in to my view that some men see sports as the Temple of the Male Religion. Their hatred is not grounded in rationality; they cannot be reasoned out of it and it's a waste of time to even try to.

Klein's final paragraphs, however, are the most telling:

There will be a core group that won't miss a game and will be the first in line for tickets. There will be a small group that don't want to be in the same state with a WNBA team.

But, it is that silent majority who will ultimately determine the future of the league. Women's basketball does not have the built-in fan base of men's basketball, football or baseball. The WNBA is the major league of a sport that wants to be considered a major league.

Trying to gauge the size of that group, willing to give the WNBA a fair shot in Tulsa, remains the big question.

It looks like there is one member of that "majority" that is not so silent - the Tulsa World. Reading Tulsa's media coverage, my conclusion is that the Tulsa media is behind the WNBA team and will definitely support it. I wish I could say the same about Atlanta's media - I suspect a lot of commenters to those Tulsa World WNBA articles have part-time jobs with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's sports department.

I'd like to conclude with another Nixon phrase from the "Silent Majority" speech with regard to the WNBA. "If it does succeed, what the critics say now won't matter. If it does not succeed, anything (we) say then won't matter."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Nolan Concussion Should Not Keep Tweety Out of Game Two

Deanna Nolan of the Detroit Shock should be ready to play for Game 2 of the Atlanta/Detroit Conference Semifinals Series, according to Detroit Head Coach Rick Mahorn.

From CBS Sports:

Nolan is expected to play Friday despite suffering a concussion and leaving Wednesday's game after being fouled with 16.1 seconds remaining.

"Right now we'll assess that after the doctors look at her, but I think she'll be ready to play on Friday," Mahorn told the Shock's official Web site. "She did a great job tonight."

Crystal Langhorne Named 2009 WNBA MIP; Lyttle and de Souza Follow

Crystal Langhorne of the Washington Mystics was named the Most Improved Player of 2009. She earned 19 out of 40 possible votes. Congratulations!

The complete list of vote-getters:

Langhorne, Mystics: 19
Lyttle, Dream: 6
de Souza, Dream: 4
Wright, Storm: 4
Harding, Mystics: 3
Quinn, Sparks: 3
Gruda, Sun: 1

P1/2009 - Shock 94, Dream 89

Marynell Meadors, Iziane Castro Marques: Meet the Press.

We only write about this one because we are compelled to. On the other hand, I have HDTV so it was almost as good as having a seat at courtside.

If you want the photos, here they are from Lynn Gregg of I would burn these photos, myself, just to put the awful memories behind me.

1) HDTV is definitely not flattering: you can see every blemish on a player's skin, and trust me, some of them have a lot of blemishes. People with acne problems don't come off well. People over sixty don't come off well. HDTV is going to force us to reevaluate our idea of human beauty.

2) We learned that Katie Smith was out, we gave us hope that if all else failed, we could simply "outendure" Detroit's thin bench. Furthermore, Chamique Holdsclaw would finally return to the court "for five to ten minute stretches".

3) Atlanta starters: Latta, Castro Marques, McCoughtry, Lyttle, De Souza. Ivory Latta was going to be at the helm of the ship.
Detroit starters: Nolan, Hornbuckle, McWilliams, Ford, Teasley. Detroit would be starting Nikki Teasley at point guard. Basically, we had two Atlanta point guards on the court.

4) Atlanta started the fireworks off with an 11-2 run in the first quarter. We were doing very well. Latta picked up a steal for the breakway and got fouled by Teasley. McCoughtry hit a 3-point running layup. De Souza was making that sweet bank shot work. Granted, Atlanta was making some bad passes, but they were shrugged off by the announcers as a sign that Atlanta was being aggressive - Detroit couldn't rest because they didn't know where the ball would be coming from. The word used was "attacked".

5) As Atlanta was running up a 19-8 lead, I noticed that Erika's tattoo of a basketball on her right shoulder had something on it. Earlier in the game, Sancho Lyttle had a "5" scrawled in black magic marker ink on her shoulder. Erika's tattoo was partially obliterated by the #5.

Then it occurred to me. #5. Shalee Lehning. The two players were wearing highly visible tributes to Lehning, who was out for the season after shoulder surgery. Supposedly, all of the other players were wearing a #5 somewhere, but Lyttle and de Souza's #5s were the most obvious....

6) We continued to builud to build up that lead. Iziane sank two free throws to give the Dream a 30-12 lead, an 18 point lead. Things were looking good. Only two leads of that size in the entire season had been overcome by an enemy team. One was an 18-point lead by the Sparks, overcome by Phoenix on August 27th. The other was a 19-point lead by Chicago four days earlier....overcome by the team that owned the home court the Dream were standing on.

7) Interesting stat: Deanna Nolan's field goal percentage against the Dream in games preceding this one for 2009? 27 percent.

8) Late in the first quarter, Chamique Holdsclaw returned. She could still handle the ball as well, but her acceleration looked a little suspect.

9) By teh end of the first quarter, we were outshooting the Shock 58 percent to 38 percent. We had outrebounded the Shock 15 to two. Angel McCoughtry had 11 poitns. Iziane Castro Marques had six.

The Palace of Auburn Hills looked virtually empty. If the Dream could keep this up, we could theoretically waltz into Atlanta on Friday. But they had to keep it up.

10) And then I heard those words that chilled me. "...and Michael Price is our third official...."

11) A lot of Shock fans are crowing about the Shock's toughness and how they "got into Atlanta's heads". Maybe they can explain that first quarter, then. Or about why, as the announcers claimed, a fan shouted, "Somebody knock somebody down!" after the first quarter.

Detroit "badness" is not a fait accompli.

12) Early in the second, Iziane drove to the basket against three dispassionate Shock defenders. They were strangely passive, as if they were saying, "Oh, there goes Castro Marques for a basket. Interesting."

13) Meanwhile, Cheryl Ford was beating the living daylights out of Angel McCoughtry. Not complaining or whining, just pointing out the Detroit Shock's overall strategy - play ball so tough that referees will only call the worst fouls against you.

Never let it be said that women's basketball isn't a contact sport.

14) With Atlanta up 36-19, Detroit went on its first big run - a 15-5 run that saw Detroit close to seven points, 41-34.

Despite the big run, Detroit didn't get its first offensive rebound of the game until 4:23 to go of the second quarter. Shavonte Zellous got the rebound, Hornbuck missed the layup, and then then just 13 seconds after their first offensive board, Ford made the shot off her own rebound.

15) Ford was really going wild out there. Iziane Castro Marques fell to the floor when she was hit in the face by Cheryl Ford. It was accidental - Ford was swinging her arms and didn't see Iziane coming in behind her.

16) We finally ended Detroit's run, but we weren't looking great anymore. Arminitie Price, now in the game, took a jumper that went in and out, angular momentum bouncing the ball around inside the rim and force carrying the ball back out again. McCoughtry dribbled the ball off her foot for an out of bounds.

We had survived though. Latta sank a couple of free throws to end the second quarter with the Dream up 45-36.

17) Rebecca Lobo chatted with Angel McCoughtry at halftime. After McCoughtry played dutiful daughter and wished her Mom a happy birthday, she was ready to address the Detroit run. McCoughtry has said before that basketball is a game of runs and that she wasn't concerned. Detroit had its run, the Dream would answer with a run and that Atlanta just needed to play its own game and be confident.

18) The Dream were still outshooting Detroit 46.7 percent to 39 percent. We still had an advantage in rebounding and were 15-for-16 from the free throw line. However, we had turned the ball over 12 times in the first half.

Angel McCoughtry had 15 points and 7 rebounds in the first half. Iziane had 10 points. For Detroit, Deanna Nolan had 10 points, Nikki Teasley had 7 points and Cheryl Ford had picked up 6 rebounds.

19) We got a look inside Atlanta's locker room at halftime. Actually, looking in the locker room is never as exciting as they make it out to be. Marynell Meadors condensed Atlanta's second half strategy:

a) Play better defense.
b) Talk and communicate.
c) Rebound and run.

20) In the third quarter, Iziane kept the Dream alive: her shots were the only shots that were falling. She would score the first nine points of the quarter for the Dream and crossed the 20 point barrier. We were back to our double-digit lead again.

21) The announcers felt free to joke about the Dream losing Philips Arena temporarily during the playoffs due to Sesame Street. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution should take note - it shows how the issue was treated by those who were actually in the role of dispassionate reporters instead of middle-aged men missing their fraternity days.

The joking wasn't the least bit offensive. One of the announcers stated that she'd probably take Grover over Elmo in a game. I agree. Elmo has the moves but Grover is a wild man who can dominate the paint.

22) ...

Then it all went to hell.

With the score up in Atlanta's favor 61-48, the Dream didn't score for the remainder of the quarter - a span of time which was five minutes and two seconds long.

Detroit, however, had no such problem. Some claim that the Shock woke up when Deanna Nolan was charged with a technical just before the Detroit run. I don't know if that was true, but the SHock were really turning it on. They were playing the game they wanted to play and we were playing no game at all.

I've been trying to grapple with what happened. We took six shots, and missed all of them. We turned over the ball three times during the run. That was nine turnovers. But the enemy can only make points off of turnovers if they can get the ball back off the misses, or get offensive rebounds, or....

...and that was what happened. Detroit had 10 rebounds during that five minute span, including two team rebounds. Atlanta had only one rebound, a team rebound. Detroit had simply cleaned us off the boards and reduced the Dream to spectators.

Meadors was left floundering around, trying to find some combination of players that could spark something. Castro Marques was removed after she missed a couple of shots, and was substituted for by Holdslaw, a move which went nowhere. (Why would you get rid of your hottest shooter in the third quarter?) Angel McCoughtry was replaced with Armintie Price in the final minute. Nothing worked.

An announcer said that Atlanta gave up 14 points on 16 turnovers.

Kara Braxton's layup with 1:14 left in the third gave Detroit its first lead since early in the first quarter. The Shock led 62-61, and Zellous hit a 3-pointer to put the Shock up 65-61 at the end of the quarter. The Shock had gone on a 17-0 run...which wasn't over yet.

23) Braxton hit a layup to start the fourth quarter with Detroit's 19th straight point. The Shock led 67-61. Finally, Erika made a shot that broke the 19-0 streak and brought us up to 67-63 Detroit. Atlanta had been held scoreless for 5 1/2 minutes.

24) Whle Meadors was still substituting like crazy - four substitutions in the first 2 1/2 minutes of the fourth - the Dream were hanging on and trying to stay within a couple of posessions of the Shock. Detroit had been revitalized by its run.

Nolan was heating up and only getting hotter. She nailed a 3-pointer to put the Shock up 74-66. Iziane answered with another 3-pointer but Zellous answered with a bucket of her own. 76-69 Detroit. Zellous got the offensive rebound, and found Hornbuckle.

It was a replay of early in the Atlanta season, where several times the enemy could find a player wide open outside the 3-point arc, just standing there. Hornbuckle sank the shot for three points. Detroit was now up by double-digits for the first time, 79-69.

25) Atlanta attempted to dig itself out of the hole it was in. The question was whether or not they could get to within two possessions. Detroit kept Atlanta at arms length but Castro Marques was hot again, scoring again with a Detroit 83-75 lead and 5:01 to go.

Detroit kept sending the Dream to the free throw line. Latta hit a pair of free throws to close us to 87-80. McCoughtry would hit a jump shot with 2:09 left to bring the score at 89-82. (McCoughtry had scored 15 points in the first half, but this was only her fourth second-half point.)

26) Nolan answered with a jumper but 10 seconds later, Iziane found Erika and Erika made the layup. Kara Braxton sent Erika to the line agani and the free throw closed the gap to four points, 89-85 with 1:40 to go. When Braxton missed on the other end, Lyttle got the reboudn and found McCoughtry who scored on the runner.

It was a one possession game, 89-87, with 1:19 left. Critical decisions would have to be made because now the game was wide open again.

27) In the final minute, Atlanta got lucky. Nolan went to the free throw line and missed one of two. Cheryl Ford committed two fouls - or "maybe" committed two fouls because both of those fouls were manufactured by Michael Price, who now wanted to shove himself into the game so that the game could rely on his refereeing "skills" and so he could show the NBA what a great referee he was.

Both Erika and Sancho Lyttle went to the free throw line. Each missed one of their shots...but the score was now 90-89, and Detroit held on to a one-point lead with 51 seconds left.

28) We almost had the lead. Angel McCoughtry stole the ball with 29 seconds left and took a good mid-range jumper. In most circumstances, that ball would have sailed in but it went out and in. Nolan came down hard, and I mean hard to the floor. I don't remember if it was on the McCoughtry miss or on the rebound, but Nolan was clearly dizzy and was leaning up against the goal support.

If it were an acting job, Nolan would have been the next Meryl Streep. Nolan was clearly in tears. She didn't want out of this game, but she knew something was wrong. I didn't want her out of this game either. If Atlanta wins, I want it to be pure fair, and not contingent upon some last-minute injuries. Championship runs should not have asterisks.

29) The decision was made. Nolan would have to come out of the game. The problem was that Nolan had earned a trip to the free throw line - was Lyttle called for the personal? I don't think it was really Lyttle's fault - so who would take those shots? The WNBA rules stated that in the event that the person fouled doesn't take the free throws, the opposing coach gets to choose the foul shooter.

This game the Dream a great opportunity. All they had to do was pick someone who could be counted on to tank one of the two free throws. They could pick the worst foul shooter who was still eligible to be picked. This included Olayinka Sanni who had not played (but was dressed, I believe) with a 69.4 percent free throw percentage, or Kara Braxton with a 64.5 percent percentage.

Instead, the Dream brain trust picks...Crystal Kelly, who is an 84.7 percent career free throw shooter. Kelly hasn't played in the game - but at the free throw line, she sinks both of them. 92-89 Shock, and the Dream have the ball with 16.2 seconds left.

29b) And there begins the controversy. The press reported that Meadors chose Kelly because Kelly was theoretically cold, having not played. However, some posters at RebKell claim that they could hear on the game audio that there was some confusion among the Atlanta coaching staff as to whether or not which Detroit players were good shooters and which were poor ones.

A Detroit reporter claims that "One of her [Meadors's] assistants yelled Kelly's name to her when the officials asked, but I didn't see who it was." Did an assistant coach pull the trigger.

Supposedly, video link gives Meadors's expression when she was asked about sending Kelly to the line. I've not seen it, I can't download it at work and I can't vouch that it isn't spyware laden or some sort of RickRoll.

29c) Monique Currie chimes in from Twitter:

@Mocurrie25 Why would you choose a 84 percent free throw shooter on the line? Doesn't matter if she's cold, its goin down! I'd pick one of those bigs

Another RebKell poster stated that if an NBA coach made that move, he would have been crucified by the fanbase.

30) We have one last chance for a 3-pointer to send the game into OT. Seven seconds after the ball is on the court, Iziane heaves up an off-balance three. It doesn't go down. Alexis Hornbuckle gets the rebound with eight seconds left.

The Dream are forced to foul. Nikki Teasley is sent to the line. She hits both of the free throws. 94-89 Shock. We get the ball back, Sancho Lyttle fires it up, and it's missed. It was a last-second buzzer shot anyway.

That's it. I'm tired of writing about it. Maybe some more later.