Saturday, September 26, 2015
Why am I writing about this game? Opportunity. In March I taped some women's basketball games that I hoped to watch but never got around to seeing. My wife asked me to clear up some space on the DVR so I told myself that this weekend I'd watch at least one of those games.
This was a Sweet Sixteen game in Albany, New York. Texas was supposed to be this big tall team that would give Connecticut trouble; you can see from the score that it became a laugher. Connecticut extended its lead throughout the game all the way to the end.
* It really makes a team look good on offense when the defense can't get to the ball. When most teams have the ball, one person holds the ball and the other players move like chess pieces to try to position themselves to be in the best position to take a pass or threaten to take a pass.
Not UConn. If you forced both teams to play in the same color, you'd never be able to tell which players were the defensive players whenever Connecticut had possession. Connecticut's defense seems to be less like chess pieces and more like those little linemen in those "electronic football" games from the 1950s where the metal board jiggles the pieces around. Basically, the Huskies defensive players are clearing space, foot by foot, for the offensive player to make the best shot, while at the same time trying to be ready to receive the pass just in case.
This is the opposite philosophy that a lot of teams have during their possessions. The offensive players without the ball are more worried about catching the pass than overcoming the defense. When they say that the Huskies are unselfish, they mean just that. When a Connecticut player has the ball, the other offensive players are looking to help her score first and foremost.
* Part of that help comes from off-the-ball screens. I don't think I've seen so many off-the-ball screens in my life. "Unselfish play" is almost a platitude in women's basketball, but you'll really see those things that prove that Connecticut players care more about winning than individual glory.
* Watch the Huskies players move their feet when they play defense. They are on the balls of their feet pretty much the entire game. Watch the Longhorns. They are flat-footed a lot of the time.
* Kiah Stokes is out there getting blocks. I don't recall how many them she had this game but it was a lot. I'm starting to come around to the fact that steals and blocks are much more important than a lot of people realize because those stats can't be cheapened - the player has to actually do something by herself to get the block; for the most part no one else can give it to her. Rebounds are a different story. Breanna Stewart was all alone after a missed shot and the ball went off the backboard and right to her; David O'Brien exclaimed "Another rebound for Breanna Stewart!" as if she fought off three Texas post players to get it and it wasn't a sub-ordinary rebound that a semi-alert grade schooler would have caught.
* Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was also a senior for this game. I don't know if she has the defensive lapses that people claim she has but I saw at least one occasion where I questioned if she was making good decisions on defense. She hit a few threes.
* Breanna Stewart scored close to 30 points before Auriemma sat her down and the Huskies lead ballooned to ridiculous proportions. Is she the real thing? Oh yeah. Tall, can play the perimeter, good shot blocker, ridiculously good shooter.
* Moriah Jefferson was less impressive to me even though she put up good numbers.
* What put the game away was a 26-5 run just before the end of the first half that saw the Connecticut lead go from seven to twenty-eight.
I think what happens against UConn is not that teams stop trying as it is they really don't know what to do when they're down by 20 points. And not "down by 20 points against UConn", I mean down by 20 points in any game. The teams that make it to the NCAA tournament are used to winning and certainly don't fall into the kind of deep ditches that UConn loves to create. The players have no emotional plan for that situation - indeed, they block it out of their minds completely because to think about losing doesn't betray "the mindset of a winner" or some bullship phrase.
Everyone panics. The coaches panic, the players panic, and Connecticut just pours it on.
at 4:54 PM
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
The WNBA is setting up for two exciting conference finals. If you like grit, the New York Liberty and the Indiana Fever, helmed respectively by one of the NBA's Bad Boys and a rookie coach, will be playing for WNBA title hopes in the Eastern Conference. If you like flash, you have the Minnesota Lynx and Maya Moore and the Phoenix Mercury and Brittney Griner playing in the West. Shots vs. Blocks!
But after the Finals...then what? The WNBA loses its audience, which goes back to watching women's college basketball. The logo lady puts down her basketball and takes a deep nap which lasts approximately seven or eight months. There is no year-long news cycle in the league; the league has to recreate itself every April.
This has been a perplexing problem for the league. Its players scatter to the corners of the earth, playing for the various pro teams with deep pockets. (Ekaterinburg's pockets were so deep they paid Diana Taurasi NOT to play in WNBA this season, protecting their investment.) With the NCAA dominating the women's basketball landscape, the W is reduce to a meek, "us too" in the off-season.
My opinion is that the answer to the problem of off-season interest is right in the league's face. Instead of trying to pretend that European women's basketball doesn't exist, they should embrace it.
There are lots of reasons that fans don't follow European women's basketball. It requires its own learning curve. A team from one of the power countries - Russia or Turkey - might have three or four names you recognize (all American) and ten names that you don't. You need some knowledge of regulation, of promotion, of Euroleague, of Eurocup, and in some cases about who holds what passport.
To top that off, when the games are broadcast - usually on YouTube or some domestic league website - the picture is grainy and small. You can't identify the players. There are no announcers. The games look like they're being broadcast in some high school gym. (In some countries, the high school gym would be an upgrade.)
Statistics are hard to come by. The reporting is in foreign languages. The hurdles appear to be too great to jump.
But what the WNBA needs to learn is that the strength of the league is in its players. Certainly, we want to know who they are and what they do. More importantly, we want to watch them on the court playing basketball. All of the human interest stories in the world won't help the league do that; you can only whet someone's whistle for so long before they want to eat.
The NBA's off-season is so short that they don't have this problem. College basketball has the drama of recruiting and player evaluation to keep its fans interested. The WNBA, however, needs to have something to draw attention to itself in the off-season that the NBA and NCAA women's basketball.
And they have it. The players. The players don't stop playing basketball in the off-season. They keep playing it! The season isn't over after the WNBA Finals! A new one is starting!
So why doesn't the league show the players playing basketball? There needs to be dedicated content at least involving the major countries : Russia, Turkey, Spain, France, maybe Poland. We need to know what the players are doing in each of those countries, and that involves video.
How much would it cost to send an announcer to Russia to do an English-language broadcast of a Superleague game? (Available on WNBA Live Access!) Or (almost) live action from the Liga Femenina, brought to you by LaChina Robinson? I know she'd love to go to Spain!
Perhaps a "European Game of the Week" placed on the WNBA's website itself. Want to see Diana Taurasi and Angel McCoughtry battle it out in December? If not, maybe a WCBA game in China with Maya Moore's team making on Brittney Griner's?
For fifteen years, European women's basketball has benefited from the WNBA's free advertising. The WNBA is the best women's league in the world and the European powers know that. They watch our league with great interest, and they use the WNBA as their litmus test for a good player. You might not like how Samantha Logic is playing, but her French Calais team know that she played in the WNBA, and that's good enough for them.
Now, we need to do to the Europeans what they do to us. We can broadcast their games, look at their players more closely. We are still the best league in the world. Perhaps if we concentrate on a handful of countries, the five mentioned above, we can make ourselves a power. Laurel Richie would get to ask, "You want us to add more Chinese games, WCBA? Okay. But what can you do for us in return?"
The WNBA is not dead when the last whistle sounds at the WNBA Finals. On the contrary, it exports itself to a waiting planet. The problem is getting people to believe that - the fans, the players, and hopefully the league itself.
at 9:56 AM
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Some random thoughts....
* Chicago had about as much chance as anyone to not just beat Indiana but to march to a WNBA Championship. There isn't a dominating team this season; as a matter of fact, the last time the best team in the league was this "non-dominant" was that first 1997 season.
* Good lord, if your best scorer/MVP knocks down 40 and you can't win? Pokey Chatman said near the beginning of the season that the team was better offensively without Fowles and worse defensively. Selah.
* The Dream front office is looking pretty good in dealing away Erika de Souza. I love Erika; she didn't help the Sky that much.
* There are some loud Chicago fans that want to fire Pokey Chatman. Good. Atlanta will take her as a general manager any day of the week.
* Yes, New York has the best record in the league. But even with Bill Laimbeer and all of his rings, it's one thing to be a good team and another to win a championship. I just have an instinct that New York isn't going to win a championship and that they'll fall sometime this season. This team needs one more year under its belt to really start cooking. I won't be surprised if they do win, though, there, I've covered all my bases.
* New York filled the (lower part of the) Garden when they lost Game 1; I expect the same for Game 3.
* Meanwhile, Tulsa and Chicago's 3000+ reported attendances at home as they were rolled out of their respective series concern me. Tulsa's is understandable - season ticket holders unable to bear saying goodbye (losing by 30 to Phoenix in Game 1 didn't help).
As for Chicago, a Monday night game is hard going. I just hope the Sky can hang in there.
* No GM named yet in Atlanta. I suspect that my beloved Dream will take its time in filling that position. Maybe Chi-town will let Pokey go and she'll fall into our laps.
at 11:44 AM
Monday, September 21, 2015
I have NBA-TV. I'm sure the bean counters over at the NBA and WNBA would be surprised to know that the only reason I have NBA-TV is because they show WNBA games. Period.
I have no interest in the Hardwood Classics.
No interest in the NBA. (I'm not anti-NBA, I just can't afford to devote time to another sport outside the WNBA.)
"Shaqtin a Fool" goes unwatched.
If something happened where NBA-TV stopped carrying WNBA games, I'd call my local cable provider and tell them to drop the channel.
In short, I'm a pretty hardcore follower of the WNBA. I watched every single Atlanta Dream game this year. Many of them in person, and the ones I couldn't watch I watched either on SportSouth or WNBA Live Access, the WNBA's webcast. And I'm not even the most hardcore WNBA fan out there. There are fans that watch games over multiple teams. Richard Cohen/WNBAlien watched every single WNBA game in 2014 from his mountain redoubt somewhere in the United Kingdom. I envied the man for having the time and resources to do it.
Now that you have that background, many WNBA fans were surprised by NBA commissioner Adam Silver's comments about the WNBA. Oddly enough, not only did he decide to sound off just before the WNBA playoffs but brought up the fact that the WNBA is almost 20 years old.
"We thought we would have broken through by now", he said.
"We thought ratings and attendance would be higher,” he said.
"I think we might have been ahead of ourselves 20 years ago in terms of what we were doing," he said.
"Leading into the playoffs that begin tonight, there’s virtually no coverage," he said.
He sounded almost regretful. My theory is that he wanted to hit even harder against the fact that local media in the many WNBA cities with few exceptions seems to have turned their back on the WNBA teams. The gatekeepers - and they are gatekeepers; don't listen to that jazz about how they 'merely reflect public demand' - have kept the door shut on the WNBA for almost two decades, leaving the legion of fans like myself to do our best to promote the league in an intelligent way without the help of the jockocracy that runs most sports media. Silver was there at the league's creation and I suspect he knew that if he swung harder at the local Joe Smiths and Bob Jones (always a Joe or a Bob) that write for the newspapers and run the morning sports radio programs, they would have struck back with how they 'merely reflect public demand'.
It's a story that he's heard before.
It's a story that we've heard before.
But no one every said that this WNBA thing would be easy. Oh, I'm sure a lot of people hoped it would be easy, back in 1997. They hoped that women's basketball could finally step up to the rank of a major sport. The crowds were big at first, due to the novelty.
The lack of press coverage, however, starved the infant of oxygen. Despite that, the fact that the WNBA is as healthy as it is is a miracle in itself. If the true story of the WNBA is ever written, it won't be like that written about the WPBL in Mad Seasons, a story where you can almost guess the end before the beginning. The true story of the WNBA will be about how it survived even though many people strongly wished it would go away. that a legion of fans kept it alive, that there were forward thinking owners that devoted their time and money to the long run against the voices of naysayers.
There is an old saying: "Power yields nothing without a struggle. It never has, and it never will." Adam Silver might have forgotten that. He is the owner and operator of a billion dollar industry; he's a man used to getting his way. And still, so many fans are surprised and shocked that on some matters, not even he can get his way when it comes to the WNBA.
That's okay, Adam. Hang in there with us. We'll hang in there with you. Why do fans follow losing teams for decades? Because the victory will taste so much sweeter when they win it all, it will be more succulent, more effervescent than the dollar-store wine guzzled by the frontrunner fans of the world, a vintage well worth the wait. Maybe we never win at all, but at least if we go down - we go down on our own terms, and not someone else's. We WNBA fans know that the fight is worth it.
at 11:34 AM
Friday, September 18, 2015
Here's what I've been able to find out about Atlanta Dream players playing overseas in 2015-16.
Matee Ajavon: Energa Torun, Poland
Carla Cortijo: unknown
Cierra Burdick: unknown
Sydney Carter: unknown
Damiris Dantas: unknown
Reshanda Gray: Techmania Bettipaglia, Italy
Tiffany Hayes: Yakin Dogu University, Turkey
Aneika Henry: Mersin, Turkey
Roneeka Hodges: unknown
Sancho Lyttle: rumored destination is UMMC (Ekaterinburg), Russia
Ariel Massengale: unknown
Angel McCoughtry: unknown
DeLisha Milton-Jones: unknown
Shoni Schimmel: expected to play overseas after spending last off-season stateside
at 4:09 PM
Now that we're looking at the upcoming college season, in light of the last post it might be interesting to look at the college juniors that ranked the highest in Morris Points.
We will only be looking at players from the power conferences...and Connecticut, which is a power conference team in a non-power conference. If we were to expand this list to all players, Ruvanna Campbell at Illinois-Chicago would be the leader with +44.46.
1. Breanna Stewart, F, 6-4, Connecticut: + 43.35
2. Brittney Martin, G, 6-0, Oklahoma State: + 38.67
3. Lia Galdiera, G, 5-11, Washington State: + 38.07 (will forego senior year to play in Europe)
4. Ruth Hamblin, C, 6-6, Oregon State: + 35.01
5. Jillian Alleyne, F, 6-3, Oregon: +32.57
6. Moriah Jefferson, G, 5-7, Connecticut: +29.32
7. Niya Johnson, G, 5-8, Baylor: +25.56
8. Jamee Swan, F, 6-2, Colorado: +21.63
9. Talia Walton, F, 6-2, Washington: +21.25
10. Adut Bulgak, C, 6-4, Florida State: +21.23
at 11:28 AM
Thursday, September 17, 2015
There's an article at FiveThirtyEight.com that had me thinking. It was written about a year ago and it was called "The Hidden Value of the NBA Steal." The point the writer makes is that if you want the best indicator of value a player has to a game, it's to look at how many steals he has.
Through his math, he concluded that with all other box score stats being equal
* an extra rebound is worth 1.7 points
* an extra assist is worth 2.2 points
* (one less) turnover is worth 5.4 points
* an extra block is worth 6.1 points
* a extra steal is worth 9.1 points.
For example, if a player averages 16 points and two steals per game, this player has the same impact - all else being equal - as a player that averages 25 points per game but just one steal. If the first player and the second player are both missing from their teams, we expect the two teams to decline similarly.
The writer has no explanation for why an extra steal is worth 9.1 extra points. You can come up with all kinds of theories. Maybe a player who has more steals plays a lot better defense. Maybe they're just smarter. Maybe it's because that unlike rebounds, a certain number of which will go to a player because they happened to be in the right place in the right time, players have to make steals happen. Steals can't be "replaced".
So even though the results of this NBA study might not be transferable to the WNBA, I figured what the hell. Let's create an "average" WNBA player who has
This player will earn zero points in the system. This is the per/game amount scored by the average WNBA player, aggregated over all games.
For every rebound past 3 rebounds, we'll give the player 1.7 points
For every assist past 2 assists, we'll give the player 2.2 points
and so on.
So a player that had the same statline as above but one extra rebound would score a +1.7. A player who had one extra rebound and one extra assists would score a +4.1. (1.7 + 2.2.) If the player has the same stateline as above but one few rebound, she would score a -1.7.
Let's call these points Morris Points after the author of the article above, Benjamin Morris. So under this system, who are the highest ranking players per game and the lowest ranking?
(See table at bottom of post for results.)
The next question becomes, "Do the numbers pass the smell test? IF I were to present the first five or first ten players on this list as the WNBA's best players in 2015, would you believe it?"
It seems believable.
* It gives Candace Parker the highest rating at +44.22. Note that this is a "per game" rating, so it doesn't imply that Parker is the MVP, merely that the Sparks are hurt more missing Parker than Chicago is hurt missing Delle Donne. The second half of the season certainly proved that.
* At #2 is Delle Donne with +35.24. Delle Donne is the MVP.
* We see some familiar names - Griner, Moore, CAtchings, McCoughtry - that we think of when we think of the best players.
* It has Sancho Lyttle ranked as #5 on a per-game basis, which explains the tailspin the Dream went in when she was off the roster.
* It puts Skylar Diggins at #10, which explains how much Tulsa was hurt by not having her.
* It puts Kiah Stokes at #21, and Jewell Loyd at #72. The Morris Points system values Ramu Tokashiki over Jewell Loyd. It gives both Tokashiki and Loyd negative value. Loyd's turnovers and lack of steals really hurt her.
Does this "prove" anything? I don't know. But it is good to talk about during the off-season.
|2||CHI||Elena Delle Donne||35.24|
|34||TOT||Erika de Souza||3.70|
|69||CHI||Clarissa Dos Santos||-4.28|
|112||TUL||Amanda Zahui B.||-10.68|
at 4:24 PM
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
1. The first thing that Tulsa Shock fans should realize - nothing is done yet. Forget about the announcements on the Tulsa Shock website. Forget about Bill Cameron and forget about the Tulsa World. Until the moving vans are headed out of Tulsa, nothing is a done deal yet. There are very few "hard and fast" rules in the universe and the (potential) relocation of a basketball team isn't physics. We're just in the negotiations stage.
2. Tulsa has already lost the 66ers, the D-league affiliate of the Oklahoma City Thunder. According to John Klein - that guy at the Tulsa World that never wrote about the Shock except to say "good riddance" - the BOK Center wasn't an option for the Thunder because they only averaged 2,020 ticket sold during the 2013-14 season. Losing the Shock will be the last tie of any sort between Tulsa and professional basketball. Arena football moved out of Tulsa in 2012 and the replacement team shut down in 2014.
3. Many Tulsans on the internet talk about Tulsa being a bad sports town, but the examples are hard to find. Maybe the perception is more important than the reality.
4. The Shock still have half a season to play at the BOK Center. Perhaps the plan is for Bill Cameron and David Box to take a tax write-off. The news that the team is moving certainly won't help the team move any tickets.
Really, Cameron/Box win either way. If there's a fan resurgence, they pocket the increase in ticket sales. If the fans turn their backs on the shock and it shows at the turnstile, it becomes, "See? Told you we had to move."
5. John Klein writes that it will be hard for the Shock to command the attention in the Dallas media market than they could in Tulsa. However, he fails to write two numbers:
Tulsa population: 400,000
Dallas population: 1,300,000
By sheer numbers, it will be easier to draw fans in Dallas than Tulsa. Interested Dallasites are already planning their season ticket purchases. If Cameron/Box rent out the American Airlines Center, that could mean synergy with the Mavericks.
6. These numbers might be the most important ones to look at:
2012 Election Results
in Tulsa: Romney 64 percent, Obama 36 percent
in Dallas: Obama 57 percent, Romney 42 percent
The WNBA fanbase in probably the most liberal fanbase in any professional sport. And Tulsa simply isn't a liberal city. It's a majority-white red city in a very red state. Dallas is a minority-white blue city. A WNBA team is simply more likely to find an audience in Dallas than it is in Tulsa.
When the Detroit Shock moved to Tulsa, four players decided not to travel with the team. Liz Cambage played a while in Tulsa, and then decided to stay in Australia. I doubt the same will happen if Tulsa moves to Dallas.
7. If Tulsa wants to save their team, the time is now and Tulsa will have to play hardball to do it. Klein in his article in the Tulsa World mentioned that Tulsa could at least offer the WNBA civic pride and stability. Having Tulsa be the Green Bay Packers of the WNBA is not out of the question.
If the city really wants WNBA basketball, it will have to show it. The fans will have to make the effort because no one else is going to make it. This will involve getting the #saveourshock hashtag in social media, this will involve networking the patrons of the arts and business in Tulsa, this will involve the city government, this will have to involve everyone, including John Klein and the Tulsa World.
This should involve, at the very least:
a) a 2016 season ticket drive, so that Shock fans can show some hard numbers to the WNBA, and
b) a new owner to step up, one that has deep enough pockets so that the team can succeed there.
8. Unfortunately, Cameron and Box still own the team. They can move it wherever they want. Does Tulsa really want a replacement team, one that is guaranteed to be awful for another four years, one without the media drawing power of a Skylar Diggins? That's a tough question with no easy answer.
9. I wonder how much the staph infections that hit the team in 2010 and 2012 had to do with this move.
10. Just remember: hope isn't over. The Dream have gone through not one, but two changes of franchise ownership. And like I said, the team isn't moved until the moving vans head out. As we learned with the Sparks, a month in basketball can be an eternity.
at 11:41 AM
Friday, July 17, 2015
Those are members of the Tulsa City Council. The yellow shirts are "Save Our Shock" t-shirts.
I don't know whether or not there's any real intent to move the Shock out of Tulsa, but the Save our Shock movement is taking on momentum of its own. Whether it's just to support the Shock or to prevent an actual move, it's a good thing to see people giving high priority to the Tulsa Shock.
at 10:56 AM
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Remember how in an earlier post I claimed that Connecticut didn't have a jersey sponsorship because the team is named after the resort they played in? Guess I was wrong!
The Sun just announced a marquee sponsorship with Frontier Communications. The new agreement will "be prominently positioned on the front of Connecticut Sun home and road jerseys" according to the agreement. The brand will be placed on the basketball stanchions as well. (I always wanted to know what those things were that held up the goal.)
This leaves Atlanta, Seattle, and Washington as the only teams that do not have a jersey sponsorship - I believe that nine jersey sponsorships are the most the league has ever had. The only team that has never had a jersey sponsorship is Atlanta.
at 3:46 PM
A blog posted in the Tulsa World discussed the possibility that the 2015 season might be the Shock's final season in Tulsa. According to Dillon Holingsworth:
"A persistent rumor is circulating: At least a portion of the Shock’s ownership is interested in moving the team to Dallas."
He doesn't say where the rumor is coming from, just that it exists. Dillon Hollingsworth decided to reach out to Shock ownership, but aside from one minority owner who stated that such plans were "erroneous", he was unable to reach majority owner Bill Cameron.
That shouldn't be a surprise. Majority owners of WNBA clubs tend to be very busy people and they tend not to sit down with reporters as a general rule. (Else, the media requests would never end.) I also don't agree with the statement "If the rumor was false, one might think the owners would want to squash it publicly." As anyone who has read a newspaper knows, a squashed rumor is often used to stoke a fire - "hey, there must be some credence to the rumor; else why the push to deny it?"
More interesting is the target of this rumored move - Dallas. Dallas hasn't generally been connected with the WNBA or WNBA moves in the past. You'd think the owner of a prospective Dallas franchise might be Mark Cuban, but he's shown no interest in owning one. (At least he's not negative about it.) It could be that he might be interested in having an existing WNBA team rent his arena over the summer, so why not Tulsa?
Dallas does have some women's basketball background. It was the previous home of the Dallas Diamonds back in the last 1970s, when the Women's Pro Basketball League existed. The Diamonds were the first pro team of Nancy Lieberman. Dallas never did draw well, but none of the old WBL teams drew well.
If a team in the WNBA were to relocate, wouldn't San Francisco be the natural target? Joe Lacob showed interest in acquiring the Los Angeles Sparks, the longer-standing rumor is that he's in line for the next WNBA team to relocate. That rumor might be as true as the Tulsa to Dallas rule. San Francisco with its lesbian and forward-thinking population would be the natural target for a WNBA team.
How likely is this rumor to be true? Hard to say. No one would have thought that the Los Angeles Sparks would have an ownership crisis at the end of the 2013, but that happened. If such a thing does happen, it will appropriately hit like the lightning bolt in the Shock logo.
at 10:01 AM
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
June 1, 2009: Phoenix announces the very first WNBA jersey sponsorship. LifeLock, an internet identity-theft protection company, enters a deal with Phoenix which will replace the Mercury logo across the jersey with the LifeLock brand. The sponsorship gets a lot of media attention. The announcement is made just before the start of the 2009 WNBA regular season. It would work out well for LifeLock in 2009 as the Mercury would win the WNBA Championship that year.
June 5, 2009: Not to be outdone, the Los Angeles Sparks enter a jersey sponsorship with Farmers Insurance. The Farmers Insurance name and logo will appear across the jersey. The deal is announced one day before the start of the regular season on June 6.
April 21, 2010: The Seattle Storm enter an agreement with Microsoft for a jersey sponsorship. Rather than the Microsoft name and logo, the sponsorship deal places the logo for the search engine Bing across the front of the jersey.
June 2, 2010: With the 2010 WNBA season already underway, the New York Liberty enter a jersey sponsorship with the Foxwoods Casino. The Foxwoods name and logo will appear across the jersey, bringing the number of WNBA teams with jersey sponsors to four. (*)
April 7, 2011: The Washington Mystics move the total number of teams having jersey sponsors to five, signing a long-term deal with Inova Health System that is described as "the largest deal in the club's 13-year history". The Inova logo will be substituted for the team name.
August 22, 2011: The WNBA signs a long term deal with Boost Mobile. This is a league-wide jersey sponsorship which places the Boost Mobile logo on every jersey. Initially, the logo is placed on 10 team jerseys, the only exceptions being Phoenix and San Antonio which have existing business relationships with other long-distance providers. As of this writing, the jersey sponsorship is still in place.
October 19, 2012: The Indiana Fever announces a partnership with athletic retailer Finish Line for prominent logo placement similar to other deals across the wNBA.
End 2012: The deals with Farmers Insurance and Foxwoods Casino expire. The loss of the deal with Farmers Insurance is a major reason why Paula Madison would turn the Sparks over to the league at the end of the 2013 regular season. (The Sparks would soon find new ownership.) At the beginning of the 2013 season, the team names will reappear in the front of Sparks and Liberty jerseys.
January 31, 2013: The Tulsa Shock enter a partnership where the Osage Casino logo will appear across the Shock jerseys. Five teams - Indiana, Phoenix, Seattle, Tulsa, and Washington - will have jersey sponsorships over the 2013 season.
End 2013: The deal between Phoenix and LifeLock is not renewed.
January 14, 2014: The San Antonio Silver Stars make two announcements. The first is that they will shortening the team name to the Stars. The second is a sponsorship with locally based grocer H-E-B where the business logo replaces the team name.
February 3, 2014: The Phoenix Mercury enter into an exclusive partnership with Casino Arizona and Talking Stick Resort including branding on the Mercury home and away jerseys.
March 17, 2014: The Mayo Clinic enters an expanded partnership with the Minnesota Lynx. WNBA President Laurel Richie announces the partnership as "the biggest partnership of this sort that we have ever had." Six WNBA teams will wear logos in the coming 2014 seasons.
May 7, 2014: It is announced that Microsoft/Bing will no longer be a jersey sponsor of the Seattle Storm, ending a four year deal.
End 2014: The deal between Washington and Inova Healthcare runs out. In the 2015 season, the team name will return to the front of Mystics jerseys.
May 14, 2015: The Chicago Sky gets its first jersey sponsor. It is announced as the biggest corporate sponsorship in the team's 10-year history, a expanded relationship with Deerfield-based specialty steel distributor Magellan. However, in a difference from other sponsorship deals, the Magellan name will not replace the team's name on the jerseys - the Magellan logo is located on the jersey's upper left shoulder.
May 21, 2015: EquiTrust Insurance enters a partnership with the Los Angeles Sparks for a jersey sponsorship. The EquiTrust logo will replace the team name on Sparks jerseys.
June 4, 2015: It is announced one day before the start of the 2015 regular season that DraftKings.com will be a marquee partner of the New York Liberty. This includes a logo substitution for the team name on the jersey. Eight teams now have jersey sponsorships in the WNBA.
June 20, 2015: The Indiana Fever renew their deal with Finish Line.
(*) Technically, the Connecticut Sun's jersey is sponsored - or rather, the very "Sun" name itself represents a sponsorship as the team is owned by the Mohegan Indian tribe and plays in the Mohegan Sun Casino Resort, thus the name.
Excluding Connecticut, the only WNBA team not to have had a jersey sponsorship at some time in its history is Atlanta.
at 9:47 AM
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
When I was writing for SA, I posted an article about women's basketball programs that had higher average attendance than men's programs. Now, with new data from the NCAA, I have updated the data to the end of the 2014-15 season!
So which women's basketball programs over the past five years have been more popular than the men's basketball programs at the same school over the same five years? As it turns out, there are six schools where the women outdraw the men.
Lowest Ratio of Men's Average Attendance to Women's Average Attendance, 2010-15
Marist, Delaware, Tennessee-Martin, Baylor and Notre Dame all have programs where the women outdraw the men. (Apologists arriving in three...two...one....). However, there is greater variance in men's basketball attendance than women's basketball attendance and when men's schools have good years they can eclipse any women's basketball program out there.
Of course, if there are programs where the women consistently outdraw the men, there must be programs at the bottom of the list where the women's program is eclipsed by the men's. And as you can tell from the numbers posted, the scale is much greater.
Highest Ratio of Men's Average Attendance to Women's Average Attendance, 2010-15
|San Diego St.||17.88|
Note that there are programs where the women's program is segregated to an older gymnasium with a reduced seating capacity. Georgetown, Providence, and Creighton are all guilty of that. But would those programs be any better off playing in the men's arenas? Look at poor Syracuse at the bottom. The men can fill their cavernous dome; the women are almost an afterthought.
Some other numbers of interest:
There is only one women's basketball school that has increased its attendance every year from 2009 to 2015. That's Furman. In 2009-10, they averaged 257 students per game, and have steadily increased to 312, 372, 422, 428, 461 and 561. Furthermore, they are the only school that has increased its attendance from 2010 to 2015.
There are other schools, besides Furman that have increased their attendance over the last four seasons. Long Beach State and Longwood have shown increases in attendance each season from 2011 to 2015.
But the big winner from 2011-2015 is South Carolina. The numbers have ballooned under Dawn Staley's program, moving from 3139 per game to 3952, then 6171, then 12293 per game. The numbers in 2014-15 were good enough to make South Carolina the #1 program in women's average attendance for 2014-15.
Of course, there are programs that moving in the other direction. What follows are the schools where average attendance has decreased over each of the last four seasons.
There are some big names on this list. There's no name bigger than that of Connecticut. It would take Connecticut fans to explain why the most successful women's basketball program in the United States has been decreasing in attendance since 2011.
For your amusement, the entire list follows. We use a "sum of averages" method to derive the final ratio.
|Middle Tenn. St.||22881||20386||1.12|
|AR Little Rock||14542||11696||1.24|
|Miss. Valley St.||11590||8492||1.36|
|Wisc. Green Bay||16715||11833||1.41|
|South Dakota St||15102||10441||1.45|
|Fla Gulf Coast||14346||9900||1.45|
|Sam Houston St.||5649||3636||1.55|
|MD Eastern Shore||10948||7011||1.56|
|Texas A&M C.C.||6897||4302||1.60|
|Prairie View A&M||9931||6153||1.61|
|St. Francis (PA)||5018||3093||1.62|
|E. Tennessee St.||14425||8523||1.69|
|Texas Pan Amer.||4261||2433||1.75|
|MD Baltimore Cty.||6609||3685||1.79|
|TX San Antonio||6321||3517||1.80|
|Central Conn. St.||8499||4209||2.02|
|S. Carolina St.||3802||1858||2.05|
|Stephen F. Austin||13221||6308||2.10|
|AR Pine Bluff||16388||6857||2.39|
|San Jose St.||8342||3149||2.65|
|SE Missouri St.||11147||3542||3.15|
|North Dakota St||15187||4464||3.40|
|Mount St. Mary's||6204||1596||3.89|
|St. Francis (NY)||4033||975||4.14|
|Long Beach St.||17152||3672||4.67|
|William & Mary||13106||2532||5.18|
|New Mexico St.||29743||5145||5.78|
|San Diego St.||61006||3412||17.88|
|Abilene Christian, Grand Canyon, Incarnate Word and|
|Umass Lowell only have one year of data, the 2014-15 year.|
at 9:01 AM