Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Lynx Star Maya Moore Discusses Her Recent Article on WNBA Visibility by Offering Some Suggestions

By ROB KNOX (@knoxrob1)

The lights are on Maya Moore. She knows it. Maybe it explains why she speaks in measured and balanced tones when challenging colleagues, reporters, and as usual, herself.

The reigning WNBA Most Valuable Player and dazzling 25-year-old Minnesota Lynx veteran guard wrote an in-depth first-person story for the Players Tribune magazine in April about the lack of visibility for the league, overseas struggles and women’s basketball in general.

In addition to bringing the issues out in the open, Moore offered solutions and suggestions for enhancing the sport during an exclusive discussion with Womhoops Guru (this blog, not the Guru himself) on Wednesday when the Lynx played the Mystics in a preseason game.

A caring, personable ambassador, Moore’s motivation was simple.

“It was a natural conversation of the realities of our sport,” Moore said while standing with ice bags on both knees and an ankle in the bowels of the Verizon Center following the Lynx’s 89-63 loss to the Mystics in their preseason opener.

“It was a great opportunity to expose some of the inner struggles that we go through as players, where we are in our sports culture and how great we can be. I just challenge us as a sports culture to match the reality because there’s a want and a demand for our game. When it’s met, the game grows and it’s exciting. That’s what I experienced as a kid.”

One of the biggest struggles for many WNBA players is spending a majority of the calendar year overseas where money is, in most cases, much more plentiful than what the league can offer. Players have the ability to make three-to-four times more in salary earnings while playing thousands of miles away from friends and loved ones.

“There’s no league like the WNBA,” Moore said. “It’s a tough and an unfortunate reality of playing overseas. There are pros and cons to our situation. The biggest con is that it’s not really a choice. I mean there is a choice, you don’t have to go, but if you want to get paid closer to your value and maximize your value as far as your occupation, then you want to take some of those overseas options.

“I believe that it’s something that can change as we continue to expose our craft, get more eyes, more support and excitement around our sport. It’s hard being away from family, friends and your community in another culture.

"I am the only westerner on my team in China. There are times where I’ve moved three to four times a year. You’re basically living out of a suitcase. There are challenges, but you have to rise above it, be a good teammate, and somehow find a way to win. It’s an adventure for sure.”

The WNBA is awesome with elite women performing at a ridiculously high level. One of Moore’s points is despite the solid product it’s still difficult to get people to pay attention.

Last season the WNBA experienced attendance growth and strong television ratings.

According to Sports Media Watch, the 2014 WNBA Finals series between the Phoenix Mercury and Chicago Sky was the most-watched series since 2006.

A ruthless scorer who traumatized defenders with a mesmerizing quick first step and a buffet of offensive moves, Moore was the leading lady in all of the excitement last season. She enjoyed a year for the ages.

She averaged career-highs in points (23.9, which led the league) and rebounds (8.1, eighth overall).

Moore also became the first player in league history to post four consecutive games of 30 or more points. She finished the regular season with a league-record 12 games of 30-plus points, topping the previous mark of 10 set by Diana Taurasi, another former UConn great, like Moore, in 2008.

While the media coverage has been adequate, Moore believes it can be enhanced.

One great thing that has helped the visibility was having State Farm include Sue “Summer” Bird into its popular assisting commercials alongside Chris Paul, Steph Curry, and Damian Lillard. Moore appeared in Derek Jeter’s iconic hat-tip tribute commercial during last year’s MLB All-Star Game.

In 2013, she drew attention starring in the Pepsi Max-Kyrie Irving third installment of Uncle Drew featuring Drew's old buddy & point guard “Lights” and his lady Betty Lou, who was played by Moore.

“They can help by really diving into the game,” Moore said of the media. “They can learn more about the players and what makes the game great, beautiful and artistically creative. They can also get to know some of the deeper parts of the players’ experience overseas, here in the states or in their communities. There are a lot of great competitors and great games to talk about.”

Entering its 19th season, the WNBA is stronger than ever despite some off-season turbulence that included married couple Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson being arrested in a domestic dispute and suspended seven games by WNBA President Laurel Richie. Johnson is currently appealing her suspension.

Taurasi is being paid by her Russian pro team to sit out this summer instead of playing with Phoenix, though the All-Star, who says her body needs rest from the year-round pace, plans to return next year to play in both the Olympics and WNBA.

Isiah Thomas was hired as president of the New York Liberty despite a past history of sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment with the NBA Knicks at MSG, the umbrella organization over the Knicks and NHL Rangers as well. It was a decision that created plenty of controversy and media attention as 15 television cameras attended the Liberty’s media day.

Arguably the face of league besides being the first woman to be a Jordan-brand representative, Moore is one of the reasons the WNBA is fun and must-see television.

A strong rookie class entered the league headlined by Seattle’s duo of Kalena Mosqueda-Lewis and Jewell Loyd, who has the athleticism and game to be compared to Moore by the time her career is finished, and Tulsa’s Amanda Zauhi B. Of course, Skylar Diggins, Tamika Catchings and a healthy Elena Delle Donne return this summer as well. The Mystics could enjoy a breakthrough with their high-flying and fun style of play.

Moore wasn’t frustrated by the negative offseason headlines.

“Anytime you’re dealing with humanity, you’re going to have drama,” Moore said. “It’s always unfortunate when bad things happen and negative situations arise. I mean, some things do need to be discussed.

"At the same time, there are so many great and awesome things to talk about in our league. It’s an unfortunate bump in the road for the league because we all represent the WNBA whether we like it or not. As a league, we have to continue to move forward, be positive role models in the community and continue to learn from each other.”

The discussion eventually turned to the upcoming season where Moore and her Lynx squad enter as one of the favorites to capture the WNBA title.

The Lnyx have a quartet of talented players, including fellow Olympians Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus. Monica Wright and Rebekkah Brunson also return to provide quality experience and depth for the Lynx, which have won at least 25 games in each of the last four seasons, the first team to accomplish that in WNBA history.

Minnesota lost in an epic three-game Western Conference final series to eventual league champion Phoenix. While Moore was sensational against the Mercury, that bitter defeat has added an extra layer of motivation to Moore’s preparation for this season.

“I am always hungry,” Moore said. “There hasn’t been a season where I haven’t been hungry. That’s where I live.

"If I am not passionate or hungry for a win, then I need to stop playing. This season will have its own challenges. I am always going to play hard because that’s what I hang my hat on.

"I also want to be more efficient and more deadly. Some of those older players are more efficient and they get you in those subtle ways. I just want to be effective at a higher level. I have great players around me once again. It’s going to be a fun time and I am looking forward to that.”

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Guru Memory on the Passing of Ex-NCAA Executive Titan Walter Byers

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Your Guru had to have an inner smile late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning -- take your pick -- on reading the first reports of the passing former NCAA top executive Walter Byers at age 93, yet marking another person on the wallpaper of the Guru's life who has gone on to another world.

The stories say Byers was a proponent of women's collegiate athletics.

Well, no and yes, in that order.

When the Guru came along in the mid-1970s as part of newspapers beefing up women's coverage in the wake of the rollout of Title IX legislation in Washington, in the battle to establish proportionally equal rights in athletics for women on campus the Guru was made aware to no end that Byers, Texas football coach Darrell Royal and the lot of them were the enemy.

One after another in the hearings in Congress they all paraded to testify how athletics on the men's side would go the way of Pompeii if Title IX became the law of the land.

Of course it became humorous in later years to hear such stories as Royal attending barbeques of the Longhorns women's basketball team as Jody Conradt's Longhorns rose to a national power.

That was the "No" part of the Guru's opening statement above.

But as the eighties dawned, at an NCAA convention -- and remember the NCAA is the membership, though during his rule, make no mistake the NCAA and Byers were one and the same in terms of the power in collegiate athletics -- the association enacted adoption of five women's championships in Division II and III.

That was a response to those schools that asked for it. There was no sense yet that the NCAA might move beyond that small package.

The following summer in 1980 CoSida, which is the organization for collegiate sports information directors, had their convention in Kansas City, then the headquarters locale for the NCAA.

At one of the big luncheons that week early in the convention, Byers was the principle speaker. No one said whether or not it was on the record -- the Guru was one of the few media types around because of his having to harness the power of the SIDs to make his information network work in season.

There was nothing controversial per se. HOWEVER, at one point, Byers, with the new events to happen that ensuing winter, used the phrase --and the Guru remembers this like it was yesterday (yes this would be in the book you all want me to write) -- "And women's championships. We hope you will join with us and support these events AS THEY START COMING DOWN THE LINE -- and volunteer to host them."

Now, the Guru was smart enough to see that news was breaking out.

Exactly what did coming down the line mean. And more important, the perceived enemy of women's athletics and also the most powerful person in the NCAA had just made a remark endorsing them -- and it was perhaps the first time he made such a public endorsement.

Upon conclusion the Guru phoned his bosses back at The Inquirer and informed them of what he just heard.

Abracadbra -- notebook time with the Byers comments being the lead item.

Soon after writing that report, word came that a progressive group of women's athletic directors -- many at today's Power 5 schools -- started conversations about gravitating to the NCAA because they had believed policy of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) had becme restrictive or problematic, especially the transfer rule.

Back in those days transfer students could play right away under AIAW rules and Tennessee became a big beneficiary, to the point some elsewhere complained that the budding legendary women's basketball coach was turning their universities into farm teams.

Events began moving fast after that summer and the NCAA at its momentous convention in Miami in 1981 had two major items on the agenda, establishing governance over women's collegiate sports and creating a whole array of championships across the board, including Division I.

With the AIAW still in business the NCAA was delicate in public, anyhow, as it went about gaining support.

But with the Guru, -- think about approaching coverage of presidential nominating conventions -- actually having a handle on how things might go, he was told "You may be interested that you have made Walter's reading list."

Byers did note that if the initiatives passed, schools could still participate in AIAW events, to which the response was Nada.

Ironically, a similar contrast emerged 15 years later when the WNBA was getting ready to open shop and then-NBA Commissioner David Sterm said players could also participate in the rival American Basketball League championships, to which the response was the same as the AIAW.

At the Miami convention, the Guru was invited to the opening reception party and was introduced to Byers, who said, while shaking hands, "Yeah, Greenberg. I know who you are. I say a couple of words at a convention of college PR people about women's athletics and you turn it into war and peace."

He then grinned and gave a wink.

Once passed, Byers did become an enthusiastic supporter of women's events, appeared annually at the Women's Final Four, and, get this, Ruth Berkey, who became the first NCAA women's administrator, soon also became one of Byers three wives -- the Guru is writing this late at night and couldn't get a quick answer whether she was the second or third.

Byers also became a member of the first and very large class for induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Washington Shows Early Signs of Promise in Preseason Win Over Minnesota

(Guru's note: Joining team Guru this summer, particularly out of Washington with Rob Knox, but also both to be at other places, is Lamar Carter, who, hard to believe in time, almost a decade ago was a contemporary of the Guru's original core of bloggers and bloggerettes, who have since done well, especially the group out of Rutgers, of which he was primarily a sports photographer in his student days.

His game story is followed by Rob filing separates on rookies Natasha Cloud out of Saint Joseph's, and Blake Dietrick out of Princeton.

You can follow a lot of Lamar's other stuff by using his twitter @lcarter031

Lamar just completed his second year as assistant athletic director for media relations at Howard University in Washington.

He also did some of the same work previously at ASA Brooklyn and was a media specialist at the Against All Odds Foundation out of Newark. Lamar is likely to also be shooting at games but until we figure a better look for this site for the Guru's work in addition to what the Guru does for Blue Star Media, follow his twitter to look at the gallery. When pictures are planned to post, the Guru will mention it in a precede not as lengthy as this one at the top of Rob's reporting.

By Lamar Carter (@LCarter031)

The early buzz out of the District of Columbia is that the Washington Mystics may be building something special – even if the 2015 campaign is only two preseason games old plus one special analytical scrimmage that was held here Tuesday afternoon.

Second year guard Tayler Hill scored a game-high 18 points off the bench and the Mystics defeated the Minnesota Lynx 89-63 on Wednesday morning in the team's impressive preseason home opener in the Verizon Center.

Hill, who missed most of the 2014 season after the birth of her first child, didn’t show any rust when it came to her shot – the Ohio State product went 53.8 percent (7-of-13) from the field and over 57 percent from three (4-of-7) against Minnesota.

When asked about the faith she displayed in her shot, Hill cited the work she’s put in to get back to this point.

“The more you practice it, the more confident you get so I’ve gotten to be pretty confident in where I am with my shot, but I know it doesn’t stop here,” said Hill.

Hill also added three rebounds, two steals and a block and has posted averages of 13.5 points, 3 rebounds and 3 steals per game in Washington’s two exhibition contests.

In addition to Hill, center Emma Meesseman (11 points) and guards Kara Lawson (11), Bria Hartley (10) and Natasha Cloud (10) each scored in double figures.

“We had five in double figures and we had two more close,” Coach Mike Thibault said. “It shows that we’re moving the basketball and it shows we’re unselfish.”

One of those top scorers – Cloud – is another reason the Mystic faithful are excited about what the year could bring.

The 6-0 rookie from Saint Joseph’s got her first WNBA start in Wednesday’s game, shooting 4-of-6 from the field and 2-of-2 from the line. From the opening tip, Cloud, looked very much at ease with the speed of the game while always seeming to make the right play at the right time.

“It was a good feeling being out there today,” Cloud said. “It’s all still kind of surreal [playing at this level] but this team has made me extremely comfortable.

"I’m very comfortable in the offenses that we’re running and I’m able to just go out and play basketball.”

Added Thibault, “Cloud’s going to be really special. I think she could be one of the best rookies that comes into the league this year, if not the best.”

Even Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve was impressed with the Mystics’ early returns on their effort.

“Washington is really, really committed to what they’re doing. It’s not complicated what they do, they just do it really well and they’re really committed to it,” Reeve said of the Mystics’ execution.

Washington held a one-point edge at halftime (43-42) after both teams exchanged 25-point quarters but a 29-10 third period gave the Mystics a sizable cushion.

A deeper examination of the box score showed all but one Mystics player scoring at least one basket and the home team winning several key categories, including every shooting category, assists, steals and blocks.

Looking at the bigger picture, Washington’s play has the team feeling good about the direction it’s heading in as the season opener approaches.

“I think this team can go as far as it wants to go,” said Hill. “We control our own destiny. We’ve got a really good team, a really deep team. We can go one through 12 and everyone plays their position well so I think we can go far.”

NEXT UP: The Mystics will hit the road on Friday (May 29) for their preseason finale against the Indiana Fever before opening the 2015 regular season on the road against the Connecticut Sun on Friday, June 5 and at home against the New York Liberty on Saturday, June 6.

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

WNBA Rookie and Saint Joseph's Grad Natasha Cloud Focuses on the Process

By ROB KNOX (@knoxrob1)

Natasha Cloud has always been about the process.

It’s a strategy that the dynamic six-foot guard with the million-dollar smile has used to make her hoop dreams of playing in the WNBA as a member of the Washington Mystics a reality.

The versatile Cloud used that approach to become one of the best ballers in Cardinal O’Hara’s storied history.

It helped her evolve into an elite-guard at Saint Joseph’s University.

Now, that same focus on the next step is what Cloud believes will continue to yield positive results.

“It’s been an amazing experience so far being here,” Cloud said while resting comfortably in a black leather chair courtside before the Mystics preseason home opener against the Minnesota Lynx Wednesday morning at the Verizon Center.

“Getting to live out my dreams is surreal. Sometimes when you come from a mid-major school, people don’t really give you the benefit of the doubt that you can make it here. (Mystics head coach Mike) Thibault took a chance on me and I am taking advantage of it.”

While Cloud was wrapping up an impressive career at Saint Joseph’s, she had a huge fan club that consisted of Thibault and assistant coach Marianne Stanley, an Archbishop Prendergast legend.

They attended a majority of her games at Saint Joseph’s last season. When Cloud was still available in the second round (15th overall), the Mystics immediately made her their choice.

“When I played at O’Hara, my only goal at the time was to get to the next level, compete collegiately and make an impact there,” Cloud said.

“The WNBA was in my thoughts, but I always focused on trying to contribute every step of the way. Now that I am here, I want to make the final roster and find a way to contribute.

I am all for the ultimate goals, but I like setting realistic ones for myself, something that I can strive for in the moment.”

The last Saint Joe's player to make a WNBA roster was current associate head coach Sue Moran, the all-time scorer for men and women on Hawk Hill and one of the all-time scorers in the Big 5 for women who was picked by the New York Liberty, though it didn't hurt to have a former Hawks assistant in Pat Coyle then on the New York staff.

Even though the Mystics have a talented roster with several key pieces returning from last season’s playoff appearance, Cloud has a strong chance of surviving the final cut. She’s living in the moment and taking nothing for granted. Thibault couldn’t stop smiling when discussing Cloud.

“I’ve been thrilled,” Thibault said of Cloud’s effort during training camp and preseason. “She’s as ready for the pro game as a rookie that I’ve coached in a long time.

"First of all, she’s got the size to play three perimeter positions and has great common sense of intellect about the game. Defensively, for a rookie, she’s at an elite level because she understands all of our concepts. She has fit right in.”

In two preseason games against the Dream and Lynx along with a unique analytical scrimmage, also against the Lynx, Cloud has impressed averaging 8.5 points, six assists against only two turnovers and is shooting 46.1 percent.

The high-flying Mystics have averaged 84 points in their preseason outings.

Cloud started and played 21 minutes against a Lynx squad featuring three Olympians.

She was the catalyst during an impressive 23-1 run to close the third period that gave Washington a 20-point bulge.

Cloud scored six of her 10 points against Lynx during the surge. She nailed a deep jumper, sank a pull-up from the wing and dropped in a beautiful reverse layup.

It was a performance that also caught the eye of Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve, a former La Salle standout. Impressive considering that Reeve has a front row seat coaching three of the world’s greatest women’s basketball players every day.

“I saw her yesterday and today and I thought she played great,” Reeve, also an Olympic assistant to Geno Auriemma, said. “She has a really good command of the game and all of her movements are with great purpose.

"She looks really confident and you love it when a rookie isn’t afraid. She looks and plays like she belongs here.

"I think Mike is a tremendous evaluator of talent. I think it surprised a lot of people when he selected her. Obviously, she’s going to prove him very right.”

Cloud has looked comfortable during the 10 days of training camp thus far for the Mystics, who conclude the preseason with a road game against the Indiana Fever Friday morning.

“Everyone has asked me have I gotten used to being in the WNBA yet,” Cloud said. “I don’t think about it yet until I officially make the roster.

"The realization of me possibly being here happened toward the end of my junior year at Saint Joseph’s. I love this team. D.C. is the best fit for me. I am excited to be here and represent Broomall, Cardinal O’Hara, Saint Joseph’s and Delaware County.”

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Princeton's Blake Dietrick Sees Action in Mystics' Win

By Rob Knox @knoxrob1

To keep from being blinded by the bright lights of the WNBA stage, Blake Dietrick has an interesting philosophy.

“The game hasn’t changed,” Dietrick said. “It’s still the same game as it was in college. It’s just faster and everyone is more athletic so you have to take care of the ball better and make quicker decisions.”

The Washington Mystic rookie guard, an undrafted free agent, and 2015 Ivy League Player of the Year out of Princeton is enjoying the experience of a lifetime as she battles to make the opening day roster.

All Dietrick can do is stay ready when her number is called and make the most of her playing time.

She played the entire fourth quarter during Wednesday morning’s 89-63 victory over the Minnesota Lynx at the Verizon Center in a preseason game.

The balanced and high-flying Mystics placed five players in double figures highlighted by Tayler Hill’s 18 points and Natasha Cloud’s 10 markers.

Emma Meesseman and Kara Lawson scored 11 points each and Bria Hartley added 10 points for the Mystics, who closed the third quarter with a 23-1 run.

Dietrick didn’t score or commit a turnover in 10 minutes against the Lynx. She made a 3-pointer in Washington’s first preseason game against Atlanta in 15 minutes of action.

The native of Massachusetts is displaying the same tenacity and savvy she did in helping Princeton enjoy a memorable season in which it won the Ivy League title, won its first 30 games and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Dietrick’s defense was solid against a group of Lynx players hoping to make their star-studded roster.

“I thought I did OK today once I get over my nerves a little bit,” Dietrick said. “Even though I am out there on the court against amazing people, it’s just a matter of playing with confidence.

"Other than that, I thought I took care of the ball. I probably could’ve shot once or twice when I had the opportunities. I just focused on getting my teammates involved and getting them shots they know how to make.”

There were plenty of shots made during a unique analytical scrimmage between the Lynx and Mystics on Tuesday afternoon.

Players from both sides had to get used to playing with different rules and abandon all instincts for 10 minutes.

For example, a mid-range jumper was considered a turnover as players were strongly encouraged to shoot 3-pointers.

The scrimmage’s aim was helping participants understand the value of 3-pointers and points in the paint.

Dietrick was happy to be part of the analytical experiment that was divided into a pair of 10-minute sessions. Mystics owner Ted Leonsis suggested the scrimmage.

“The scrimmage was really cool,” Dietrick said. “You don’t really notice it. There weren’t significant changes, particularly for me since I don’t shoot a midrange shot often.

"I didn’t notice the fact that we weren’t allowed to shoot those shots. It was interesting and it’s exciting to see where the game is going.”

The cool thing about the Mystics is all of their rookies are from outside of the power-five conferences.

Natasha Cloud (Saint Joseph’s), Ally Malott (Dayton) and Kayla Thornton (UTEP) along with Dietrick have been sponges during training camp and learning everything to enhance their games at the pro level.

“It’s been awesome being here and this an amazing team,” Dietrick said. “I probably couldn’t have picked a better group of people to play with.

"Everyone is so helpful and supportive of all the rookies. They’re helping us learn and it’s been a great experience so far. It’s been humbling to play with some of the best women in the world.

"I am just so grateful to be here. I am going to keep working hard every day to help the team grow and be successful.”

The Mystics play their final preseason game Friday morning against the Indiana Fever at 12:00 p.m.

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Monday, May 25, 2015

A Decade Later in the WNBA, Penn State Grad Tanisha Wright Returns to NY Roots

by ROB KNOX (@knoxrob1)

NEWARK, Del. –
Tanisha Wright is returning to her roots.

The white New York Liberty uniform felt foreign to Wright, a Penn State graduate who spent her first 10 years with the Seattle Storm before signing with the New York Liberty this summer.

Wright was born in Brooklyn and spent plenty of summers in the Big Apple after moving to Pittsburgh and while attending Penn State.

While Wright had plenty of wonderful memories in Seattle, she is embracing the change of scenery, different time zone and playing for the Liberty.

“I have a lot of love for Seattle,” Wright said before the Liberty’s preseason opener against the Chicago Sky at the University of Delaware’s Bob Carpenter Center Friday night. “However, this is part of a business.

"I spent 10 years and built relationships there. But you grow, get older, move on, and priorities change. Change is inevitable and you just have to embrace it.”

Wright’s presence also reunites her with former Storm teammate Swin Cash.

They were members of the Storm’s 2010 WNBA championship squad, one of the best teams in the history of the league.

That Storm team won 28 games and swept the Atlanta Dream in the Finals.

Now, they’ll be counted on to provide wisdom and leadership to a very young Liberty squad that will be exciting to watch on the floor this season especially once rookies Kiah Stokes and Brittany Boyd get adjusted to the faster pace of the WNBA and veteran guard Epiphanny Prince returns from her overseas obligations in June.

“Being in the league for 10 years, my role is to give them some insight that I’ve learned over the years,” Wright said. “I played with one of the best point guards (Sue Bird) in the world for the last 10 years.

"I learned how to run a team. I believe my experience and leadership style will affect and influence the team in a positive way. Of course, I want to contribute on the court. You want to be as effective as possible if you’re still playing.”

During her solid career, Wright has been durable and reliable.

She averaged 8.0 points per game in 29 games for the Storm last season. It was the first time in her career she hasn’t played at least 30 games during the summer in the league.

Two seasons ago, Wright averaged 11.9 points per contest. Third-year head Bill Laimbeer is happy to have Wright on his team.

“We went out a pursued her for a couple of reasons,” Laimbeer said. “She’s still a great player, very tenacious and has a high basketball IQ which our team needed.

"Also, her leadership was key for us. She can lead by example and our team needed that especially trying to get Tina Charles up to speed in the leadership department. She’ll be a good player for Tina to follow.”

Wright is still adjusting to the Liberty and learning the new terminology, offensive and defensive sets as well as Laimbeer’s personality.

She sees a side of him that many people don’t or didn’t know existed if they just went off of the “Bad Boys” 30-for-30 documentary about Laimbeer's playing career with the NBA champion Detroit Pistons under Chuck Daly.

“He’s a pretty funny guy,” Wright said. “As much as he is about his business, he’s pretty lighthearted during practices.

"He jokes with us which helps.

"You’re able to come in and do your job and not feel as intense. He already has that winning pedigree and he has those high expectations. So when you step onto the court, it’s about your business. Not about these little things that don’t matter. It’s about what it takes to win.”

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Rosters Virtually Set for Philly Summer League

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Following last Thursday night's draft, the teams are set, barring the discovery of some errors, for this season's Philadelphia/Suburban Women's NCAA Summer League.

There will be 13 teams, not enough players registered to incrase by one to 14 with each gertting one bye prior to the late July playoffs with opening night set for June 16 at the Kelly Bolish Gymnasium, home of the AAU Renegades, in Willow Grove Commons Business Park in Harboro, Pa., same as the last several seasons.

Division II and Division III school squads are allowed to play in tact under NCAA rules, while teams are allowed only two Division I players from a particular school.

Saint Joseph's has 11 players in the league and Villanova has two while Lafayette and a few others have members playing.

Some rosters will have 11 players while others will have a few more, though those teams believe not everyone will show every night -- Tuesday and Thursday are game nights with three doubleheaders on all three courts.

Since the NCAA is expected to implement rules changes a week before the league begins, when the oversight committee votes on all the recommendations, the Guru suggested and it might occur that to help players get ready for NCAA play in the winter, the league will use four 10 minute quarters instead of two 20 minute halves, and anorther change involving the 10-second rule might be implemented.

Stay tuned.

For now, here are the rosters -- the schedule come soon, as sent by Commissioner David Kessler, who begins his 22nd year running the league.

On the group rosters such as Philadelphia University, West Chester, and USciences (formerly known as University of the Schiences of Philadelphia), when a player is not from that school, Kessler put down an indication besides the graduation year.

Some players have already graduated. The big news out of the league is that Saint Joseph's graduate Natasha Cloud, who was on the winning Gold team last summer, is a second round draft pick of the WNBA Washington Mystics and likely to make the roster.

Also, the commissioner now has a facebook page for the league -- link to come -- and he will post his newsletter there besides giving out the printed nightly edition while your Guru will continue here with a roundup.

There may be some nights that a brief descrepency in standings may occur -- most likely in points for and points against -- since we each keep our own as a safety check.

The draft mechanics are somewhat different since groups of players requested to be together and also schools suggested to the commissioner in terms of their D-1 participants, which two should be together.

All that said, here are the rosters of the 13 teams, who will be designated by their team color only when play gets under way.

Team Black/Philly U. (13)
Kelsey Jones 5’5 ‘17
Alicia Lister 5’5 ‘18
Velez Jackson 5’5 ‘19
Rachel Day 5’7 ‘18
Alynna Williams 5’3 ‘21
Jess Kaminski 5’8 ‘18
Tori Arnao 6’ ‘16
Erin Maher 6’ ‘18
Jacqueline McCarron 5’10 ‘16
Alexandra Heck 5’10 ‘16
Regan Marriner 5’11 ‘17
Erin Rafter 5’11 ‘19
Mary Newell 6’ ‘16

Team Maroon/West Chester (14)
Mariah Powell 5’11 ‘16
Jasmen Clark 5’4 ‘16
Rylee Power 5’8 ‘19
Camden Boehner 5’7 ‘18
Brandi Vallely 5’7 ‘18
Emily Torrance 5’9 ‘17
Dallas Ely 5’7 ‘15
Tiffany Johnson 5’3 ‘16
Courtney Wanner 5’10 ‘17
Brittany Sicinski 5’10 ‘16
Tori Smick 5’10 ‘17
Brooke Mullen 5’9 ‘17
Kendall Benovy 5’11 ‘16
Mariah Traywick 6’1 ‘17

Team University of the Sciences- (13)
Micah Morgan 5’7 ‘19
Molly Greenberg 5’6 ‘18
Marissa Sylvester 5’8 ‘19
Colleen Walsh 5’10 ‘18
Haley Helms 5’6 ‘20
Amber Reiley 5’8 ‘16
Hadiya Tucker 5’10 ‘19
Laura Trisch 5’10 ‘18
Natalie Stella 5’9 ‘18
Sarah Abbonizio 5’8 ‘20
Alex Thomas 5’10 ‘19
Shannon Evans 5’10 ‘16
Caitlin Conroy 6’4 ‘18

Team Millersville- (11)
Lexi Scrivano 6’0 ‘16
Jade Farquhar 5’9 ‘19
Aunjel Van Brakle 5’10 ‘16
Jasmine Hudson 5’7
Kendra Bamberger 5’10 ‘18
Celeste Robinson 5’8 ‘16
Taylor Pritchett 5’10
Alex Stam 5’9 ‘16
Tyisha White 5’6 ‘16
Regie Robinson 5’9 ‘19
Jessica Gerber 5’5 Kenyon ‘19

Team Penn State Abington (11) (Royal Blue)
Tyniqua Henderson 5’8 CCP ‘16
Jiana Clark 5’7 ‘17
Shayna Rodriguez 5’9 ’19
Elizabeth Jones 5’7 ‘18
Brittany Keyes 5’7 ‘18
Madison Kimball 5’11 ‘17
Kimberly Pessoa 5’7 ‘16
Janaiah Elum 5’3 ‘16
Kyra Lunsford 5’5 ’16 5’9
Breanna Lineman 5’9 ‘17
Maggie Locke 6’1 Holy Cross ‘19

Team Pink/University of Scranton (11)
Julia Gantz 5’10 Bloomsburg ‘19
Sarah Payonk 5’10 ‘17
Katherine Feehery 6’1 ‘18
Jaclyn Gantz 5’7 ‘16
Noelle Alicea 5’7 ‘16
Johanna McMillan 5’7 U. N.C. Wilmington ‘17
Karissa Mansure 5’7 Catholic U. ‘19
Lauren Whitlatch 5’10 U. Pa. ‘18
Sarah Engman 6’2 Widener ‘16
Sarah Fairbanks 6’1 St. Jos ‘16
Alyssa Monaghan 5’4 St. Jos. ‘19

Team Light Blue/ East Stroudsburg (11)
Molly Rubin 5’7 ‘16
Maddie Wallace 6’2 ’18
Noelle Powell 5’7 ’19
Rachel Falkowski 5’9 ’17
Melissa Poderis 5’6 ’16
Ann McKnight 5’6 ‘19
Courtney Brown 5’7 ’17
Michelle Boggs 6’1 ‘16
Madison Tamburini 5’8 ‘17
Ryann Fiascki 5’8 ‘15
Emily O'Donnell 6'1 Albright '16

Renegades (11)
Lauren Rothfeld 5’9 Salisbury ‘18
Mackenzie Carroll 5’10 Colgate ‘19
Calypso Carty 5’8 Utica ‘17
Sarah O’Hara 5’7 Wilkes ‘18
Kate McLaughlin 5’7 PSU Wilkes-Barre ‘17
Brianna Spector 6’ Oneonta State ‘17
Lindsey Kelly 6’ Nazereth ‘16
Emma Dorshimer 5’9 Gettysburg ‘19
Shelby Schoonover 5’7 Lycoming ‘19
Rachel Helton Bloomsburg
Courtney Webster 6’2 LeMoyne ‘18

Team Verrelle/Gallagher (11) (Kelly Green)
Grace Mirack 5’8 DelVal
MaryEllen McCollum 5’8 Holy Family ‘14
Kaitlin Kelly 5’7 DeSales ‘18
Jenna Swope 5’9 Gettysburg ‘15
Megan Gallagher 5’8 DeSales ‘14
Christine Verrelle 5’8 Dowling ‘15
Darrah Morrison 5’10 Catholic U. ‘18
Carolyne Heston 6’ Holy Family ‘14
Emily DeAngelis 5’11 Wilkes ‘18
Amanda Fioravanti 6’1 St. Jos. ‘17
Jazmin Horne 5’7 St. Jos ‘17

Team Ted Hagedorn (11) (Neon Green)
Carly Monzo 5’10 Loyola ‘18
Eliza Polli 5’8 Swarthmore ‘13
Megan Quinn 6’2 Villanova ‘17
Alex Louin 6’ Villanova ‘18
Samantha Stipa 5’5 Lafayette ‘18
Nia Holland 5’6 Lafayette ‘19
Sarah Sherman 5’7 Juniata ‘17
Brynne Brouse 5’8 Wash. Coll. ‘18
Marissa Leyes 5’1 Gwynedd Mercy ‘18
Mackenzie Rule 5’6 St. Jos. ‘17
Maureen Leahy 6’2 Bryant U. ‘16

Team Keith Wood (11) (Gold)
Tuga Goff 5’4 Rosemont ‘17
Lauren Crisler 6’2 American U ‘17
Taylor Bryant 5’5 U. Pa. ‘16
Danielle Derr 5’10 Bloomsburg ‘13
Shira Newman 5’7 Millersville ‘13
Monica Newman 5’5 Millersville ‘10
Alex Smith 5’7 Holy Cross ‘14
Jasmine Elum 5’6 Bethune-Cookman ‘12
Ashley Wood 5’6 Kutztown ‘14
Kristalyn Baisden 5’10 St. Jos. ‘19
Adashia Franklyn 6’1 St. Jos. ‘18

Draft Team (11)
Natalya Lee 5’8 Kutztown ‘16
Kelsey Watson 5’10 Kutztown ‘17
Devin Gold 5’6 Caldwell ‘15
Lauren Gold 5’6 Shippensburg ‘17
Margaret Melhem 5’10 Moravian ‘19
Michelle McCaughern 5’11 LaSalle ‘12
Libby Dougherty 5’11 McDaniel Coll.
Sarah Griffin 5’2
Elizabeth McBride 5’5 Immaculata ‘16
Chelsea Woods 6’ St. Jos ‘18
C.C. Andrews 5’7 St. Jos. ‘16

Team Holy Family (11)
Katie O’Hare 5’10 Holy Family ‘19
Casey Thomas 6’ Holy Family ‘19
Kylie Giedemann 5’6 Holy Family ‘18
Kelly Giedemann 5’5 Holy Family ‘18
Taylor Walker 5’6 Holy Family ‘18
Erin Fenningham 5’8 Holy Family ‘16
Kiernan McCloskey 6’1 Lehigh ‘17
Alexandria Somers 5’10 Montco
Michala Clay 6’ St. Jos. ‘19
Kathleen Fitzpatrick 5’8 St. Jos. ‘17
Lauren Postell 6’ Morgan State ‘17

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Back Home in Chicago, All-Timer Cappie Pondexter Looks to Help Bring the Sky a WNBA Title

by ROB KNOX (@knoxrob1)

NEWARK, Del. –
Chicago Sky guard Cappie Pondexter has renewed energy and a stronger sense of urgency as the twilight of her marvelous career dawns.

One of the top 15 players in WNBA history, Pondexter was involved in the biggest trade of the offseason between the New York Liberty and Chicago Sky.

Both teams swapped Rutgers graduates in moves that figure to help each squad. The 32-year-old Pondexter was traded from New York for Epiphanny Prince.

“It’s a business at the end of the day,” Pondexter said before leading the Sky against her former team in the preseason opener for both squads at the University of Delaware’s Bob Carpenter Center Friday night.

“I respect decisions that are made from executives. I thought Chicago was the best choice for my career at this point. I am a seasoned vet and time is winding down. From Chicago’s perspective, I was the piece that they were looking for and I thought I was the perfect fit.”

The Sky reached the WNBA Finals last season only to be swept by the Phoenix Mercury, the team that drafted Pondexter with the second overall pick in 2006 and whom she won the 2007 and 2009 championships with.

Chicago advanced to the WNBA Finals despite a bumpy road that featured plenty of adversity and the youngest roster in the league.

Pretty sure with Pondexter’s addition, the Sky won’t have that distinction this season.

Pondexter’s mission is clear: Get the Sky over the hump and make this season a happier ending. She’s ready to accept the challenge.

More importantly, Pondexter is thrilled to have a chance to play for her hometown professional squad, a thought that seemed unfathomable when she graduated from Chicago’s Marshall High School after being named Miss Illinois Basketball in 2000 and 2001.

“I never thought about playing for my hometown team, but I think it’s a great opportunity to be around family and the people that love me every day,” Pondexter said. “I left when I was 18. So for my whole professional career, they’ve had to fly all around the country to see me play. Now, they get a chance to be around me every day and see me play. It’s going to special and I am looking to seize every moment of it.”

Prince also returned to her home in the deal having grown up in Brooklyn

Pondexter joins a talented Sky team featuring veterans Courtney Vandersloot, Tamera Young, Allie Quigley and a healthy Elena Delle Donne. While the presence of the 6-6 Sylvia Fowles would also help, it appears as if the Sky has moved forward without her in their season plans after she said she was looking for a trade.

A scoring machine with an assassins’ mentality, the ruthless Pondexter brings leadership, mental toughness, championship experience and a chip on her shoulder after averaging a career low 13.2 points last season with the Liberty while battling nagging injuries. Pondexter’s awesome game flows beautifully like lyrics from a Drake rap song.

She’s tough-minded, determined, a top defender and an immediate asset to the Sky.

“She’s been incredible so far in practice,” Delle Donne said before performing in front of her Delaware hometown fans for the second straight season in the packed Bob Carpenter Center. “She brings a certain type of knowledge that we’ve never had. She’s been through a lot and she can teach us a lot so we’re happy that she’s here.”

With good reason as Pondexter is the 2007 WNBA Finals MVP, a six-time WNBA All-Star and is fourth all-time in league history in career scoring average (19.2 points per game) and 30-point games (20).

A three-time All-WNBA selection, Pondexter was the 12th player in WNBA history to reach 5,000 career points. Pondexter also earned a gold medal as a member of the 2008 Olympic team in Beijing.

Now, Pondexter is joining forces with a former WNBA Rookie of the Year (Delle Donne) and sixth woman of the year (Quigley, who starred at DePaul in Chicago). She doesn’t have to perform at an elite level to make an impact. Her presence alone will be a difference and help the Sky contend for a championship this season.

“I believe I fit in well here,” Pondexter said. “This is my third team, but I’ve been around for a long period of time so I know how to mesh with a certain group of women. This group is amazing. They just want to win and get better. They’ve embraced me from the moment that I’ve walked in.”

Now, Pondexter is looking to return that love to the Sky and their faithful fans.

“I am happy to be with this group,” Pondexter said. “They’re making me better. They’re challenging me because there are so many skilled players here.

"I am going against somebody who has a great skill set every day and I don’t have much room to make mistakes. It’s great playing with Elena because she’s such an amazing athlete especially with her natural shooting ability.

"One of my goals is to continually challenge everybody and be a solid teammate. I think that’s important.”

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Tayler Hill Out to Star in the WNBA For Washington Like Her Buckeye Days at Ohio State

By ROB KNOX (@knoxrob1)

With a sparkling 24-karat smile, Tayler Hill delivered a simple message.

“I’m ready,” the third-year Washington Mystics guard succinctly said during Monday’s media day at the Verizon Center.

“I am anxious and excited to get back out on the court.

"Last year I sat out most of the season, came back at the end but I wasn’t 100 percent. I am excited to be back this year. I feel like I haven’t played since my rookie season where I was healthy.”

The 24-year old Hill missed most of last season after giving birth to her son Maurice on June 18. Five weeks later, Hill returned to the Mystics in solid playing shape.

However, the talented Hill never found her groove on the court while averaging 7.8 minutes in the Mystics’ final five games.

Now with an entire offseason to get ready, she is poised to enjoy a breakout year and treat fans to the types of performances that made the affable Ohio State product the No. 4 overall pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft.

That was two seasons ago when the Mystics finished last with the worst record the previous summer but another disappointment beset the team when Washington in the lottery failed to land in the top three that would have meant getting Phoenix's Brittany Griner (1-Baylor), Chicago's Elena Delle Donne (2-Delaware) or Tulsa's Skylar Diggins (3-Notre Dame).

However, it turns out the Mystics did get value out Hill at number four.

A pleasant package of electricity, explosiveness and excitement, Hill will be a critical component to the Mystics’ championship hopes this season with her athleticism, tenacious defense and scoring ability.

“I love Tayler,” veteran guard and WNBA All-Star Ivory Latta said. “She’s a versatile guard.

"She can bring the ball up the court and she can spot up and make 3-pointers," Latta continued.

"Her first step is unbelievable. Everybody thinks because she had a baby, she’s going to be slower. Actually she slimmed down more than she was before she had the baby. They’ll see how versatile she is this season.”

While patiently answering questions for about 10 minutes, Hill was engaging, laughing and funny.

Even after a majority of the reporters departed, Hill showcased the boundless energy of a toddler while distracting and cracking jokes with Latta as she was being photographed.

Hill arrived in camp in phenomenal shape.

Though she acknowledged being a first-time mother and an elite athlete simultaneously were challenging, Hill handled the additional responsibility like a champion. She continued working out, studying film, providing the necessary attention to her son and enjoying life.

Hill balanced both because of her supportive family and friend, Nicole who also serves as her nanny.

She has been a rock for Hill. With the comfort of knowing her son was in safe and caring hands, Hill was able focus on building from the end of her rookie year when she averaged 6.5 points and finished strong.

“Being a mom is amazing,” she said. “There’s no feeling like being a mother. I still got my work done.

"You may have seen online that people said ‘I am not playing overseas and I was just sitting home with the baby.’

"That wasn’t the case. The coaches sent me a lot of film during the offseason. I definitely did the work that needed to be done in the offseason to get to where I needed to be. I lost the weight, ate right, got back in shape and now I am ready for this opportunity.”

Because Hill limited her offseason Twitter postings to occasional motivational messages, photos of her son and rare in-the-moment updates of her life gave her bleacher critics some fodder to try and criticize her. Hill blocked out the noise. She owed nobody an explanation and those that mattered knew what she was doing.

“I am not that type of person that talks about going to the gym every day or need to flaunt what’s going on behind the scenes,” Hill said. “I really don’t get into the media things. I don’t know what was said about me unless somebody else tells me. They don’t know me personally so I don’t take what they say personally.”

Not even discussing her haters could steal Hill’s joy Monday.

She is preparing to become a stronger leader and more consistent on the court. Hill has the ability to do some special things for the Mystics and emerge into a force around the league. She has put in the work and now she’s ready to showcase all of her skills.

“I don’t know that I have an expectation that’s specific right now,” Washington head coach Mike Thibault said of Hill. “But we need all of our guards and her particularly because of her athleticism to help us in our transition game offensively, to spread the floor with three-point shooting, and because she’s so quick, she can really help us on the defensive end.

"She’s got long arms and quick feet and she has the ability to come up with steals, so I think we’re looking for a huge improvement on both ends.”

The Mystics had two players among the top 30 in the league in 3-point shooting last season in Latta (37.7 percent) and Bria Hartley (32.7).

Hill could make it a trifecta of Mystics among the league leaders in 3-point shooting. She is happy to be one of the building blocks of the Mystics rise.

They were 16-18 last season and lost in the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Indiana Fever in a pair of tough games.

“We are working towards winning a championship and taking everything one step at a time,” Hill said. “We have to work together as a team to reach our goal. Coach’s message to us at our first team meeting was to ‘play like a champion every day.’

"I know his mindset is he wants to win a championship and that’s how he prepares us every day in practice. As a team that’s how we carry ourselves on and off the court.”

With a focused and healthy Hill making significant contributions this season, the Mystics could enjoy a memorable summer. Then she’ll have plenty more reasons to flash her beautiful smile.

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

An Under the Radar Arrival in Washington, Herrington Could Help Make WNBA Mystics Soar

By ROB KNOX (@knoxrob1)

Armintie Herrington’s presence on the Washington Mystics roster is like adding a secret ingredient to a meal that enhances the flavor from great to ‘make you slap your mama’ awesome.

In a transaction that flew under the radar this offseason, Herrington, a tough as nails veteran guard, signed as a free-agent with the Washington Mystics in February. It could end up being the move that elevates the Mystics to the WNBA mountaintop. Herrington is a critical component to the Mystics championship puzzle.

“I am excited to have another opportunity to play in the league,” Herrington said Monday afternoon during Mystics media day at the Verizon Center. “I am hungry. I am happy to be here and to have another opportunity to learn and grow. More importantly, I know I don’t have many years left in the league so I am focused on winning a championship. Everybody here has the same goals and we feel like we have all the pieces.”

Herrington’s versatility and experience makes Washington’s roster deeper and diverse. More importantly, her wisdom, toughness, defense, and quickness will be welcomed qualities in the nations’ capitol this summer.

Mystic fans will enjoy her passionate performances throughout the season. This will be Herrington’s fourth team since entering the league in 2007. She played for the Los Angeles Sparks last season.

While she will miss her buddies on the west coast, Herrington is happy not to have to deal with the occasional California traffic jam, although D.C. transportation, especially whenever the president decides he wants to take a quick cruise through the city, can be just as tough.

“I am much closer to the Verizon Center and traffic is not as bad,” Herrington said. “It took me 45 minutes to drive to the Staples Center. We were able to find different apps to help us get to the arena quicker. The transition to D.C. has been fine. I’ve been able to work out. "

A 5 foot, 9 inch guard from the University of Mississippi, Herrington was selected in the first round (third overall) of the 2007 WNBA Draft by the Chicago Sky.

During her first year, she started every game and went on to earn Rookie of the Year Honors. Herrington was traded during the 2009 season to the Atlanta Dream. She was instrumental to the Dream making the playoffs during her entire tenure with the team.

She joined the Sparks in 2014 as a free agent.

In addition to being named the Rookie of the Year in 2007, Herrington has been named to the All-WNBA Second Team (2011 and 2012) as well as the WNBA All-Defensive First-Team (2013).

Her regular season career averages include 6.3 points per game and 3.5 rebounds per game. Her post season career averages include 6.5 points per game and 3.9 rebounds per game.

“My mentality is thinking like a champion,” Herrington said. “The time is now for us. I am happy to be a part of an organization that wants me and a staff that believes I can help the team. I am blessed to have the opportunity to be coached by Mike (Thibault) and play with not just great players but also great people.”

While Herington should help the Mystics, she is not expected to carry the team.

The Mystics return veterans Ivory Latta, an All-Star last season, Kia Vaughn, who earned MVP honors after helping USK Praha win the FIBA EuroLeague Women championship last month, and Kara Lawson.

In addition, the Mystics’ youthful and brilliant brigade of Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, Emma Meesseman, Jelena Milovanovic, Tayler Hill, Stef Dolson and Bria Hartley should continue to develop.

“We’ve had good leadership with Kara, Kia and Ivory and now you’re bringing in one more veteran in Armintie, who understands what it’s like to play at the highest level,” Thibault said. “She’s not going to be ready to play at the start of the season like she will be at later in the season. Just her voice in the locker room will help our younger players. Anytime you add somebody who has competed for a championship to your team, you’re getting better automatically.”

Herrington has been around enough to know that nothing will be handed to the Mystics no matter how good they look on paper.

She played in consecutive WNBA Final series in 2010 and 2011 with the Atlanta Dream. Last season, the Sparks were expected to challenge for the Lynx and Mercury in the west with their talented roster, but they battled inconsistency.

“I learned that if you don’t put in the work, you’re not going to get anything,” Herrington said. “With this team, we feel like we’ll get the work in and we are all thinking about cutting down nets. That’s the feeling I get from being around this team.”

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Guru's WNBA Report: Mystics Rookies Natasha Cloud and Blake Dietrick Relish Arriving at the Next Level

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

After four years of being leaders of their respective teams at Saint Joseph’s and Princeton, it’s new faces for Natasha Cloud and Blake Dietrick as they attempt to make the opening day roster of the Washington Mystics.

Nevertheless both exhibited boundless energy Monday afternoon as the blend of rookies and veterans went through the interview paces of the WNBA team’s annual media at the Verizon Center.

The odds for the most part are more with Cloud, who spent her first collegiate season nearby at Maryland in College Park before the former Cardinal O’Hara star switched to the Hawks.

Cloud was viewed a ton of times by Mystics coach Mike Thibault as well as assistants Eric Thibault, his son; and Marianne Stanley, the former Immaculata star, last winter hoping she’d stay under the radar, which occurred as they picked her in the second round behind former Dayton star Ally Mallot.

Thibault, though, minced no words on draft night saying that had not Mallot still been on the board, he would not have hesitated to take Cloud in the first round.

Dietrick was signed as an undrafted free agent, but possessing qualities in which Thibault felt the Ivy player of the year deserved a shot from the Tigers squad that made history with a 30-0 season before losing in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

“Fit in first, learn what we’re doing,” Thibault said about the role of rookies on a squad in his third season after being let go from a decade running the Connecticut Sun.

Thibault thinks that his squad should now be thinking about winning the WNBA title.

“It’s no longer a case of trying to get a little better. We’ve had people who have played together for a while,” Thibault said.

“I told the team, though always worry about just the game in front of you, it’s like when a new college coach comes in and most of the team had existing players but now these are all our own players.”

Former Duke star Monique Currie departed over the winter ending the run of the longest surviving Washington player under Thibault.

“I think our rookies have a chance to make an impact this year. We start with Ally Mallot, she’s a true version of a stretch four. She can play around the basket and at the three-point line. She has a great, great offensive sense.

“I think her biggest adjustment will be at the defensive end. Natasha Cloud is one of those people who have played at all three wing positions, perimeter positions in college.

Initially, we’ll probably play her more as a small forward and because of her length and her size at six feet, she can handle the ball well enough to be a point guard,” Thibault continued.

“We’re going to use her as a kind of multi-dimensional offensive player and then the other part she has going for her is she’s been an all-league (Atlantic 10) defensive player in college for several years, so she can guard all three perimeter positions and that gives you the ability to do a lot of different things with the team defensively.

“I expect a lot from them right away.”

As for the motivating factor to sign Dietrick, Thibault noted, “With Blake, you saw a player who played both guard positions, you have a player who is a very capable three-point shooter. She’s a tall guard which allows her to do a lot of things.

“She knows she has a battle on her hands just to try to make a roster but it’s an opportunity for her to come in and see what she can prove. Watching her in college, I thought she made good decisions and anytime you have an offensive weapon that can stretch the floor, I think you need to give them a shot to see what they can do.”

Dietrick said she got the word of Washington’s interest as the draft got under way.

“They were in that time slot and coach Thibault made the call,” she said.

She already got a taste of WNBA action during the first night of camp, which got under way Sunday.

“We did some workouts and played some pickup, so it’s been pretty good so far. We’ll get a better sense once practice started but so far its been good.”

The only Ivy player who has made an impact was Allison Feaster of Harvard in the early part of the WNBA history that began in 1997 and she went on to be an all-league player.

While that Crimson team has been considered the league’s best, Dietrick last season was the signature star on the Tigers squad that over the last five seasons matched much and even surpassed some of that Harvard’s group accomplishments.

“I’m so happy to represent Princeton and the league and Annie (Tarakchian) was at the USA tryouts this past weekend as well. We’re all doing big things for Princeton and trying to make our mark and out our names out there.”

Cloud, meanwhile, would become the first Big Five player to make a WNBA roster since Temple’s Kristen McCarthy was drafted by Connecticut in 2007, though the last to make her mark occurred the previous year when Owls all-time great Candice Dupree was picked sixth overall by the then expansion-Chicago squad.

She was later dealt to Phoenix and was a key in the Mercury’s third league title last season and has had several All-Star accolades.

For Cloud, who played the last several summers in the Philly League, whose draft is Thursday night, landing on the Mystics is tops being on a team only a few hours from home.

And living in Washington, with the city’s role in America, is great.

“It’s really cool,” Cloud said of being in the nation’s capital.

As far as her first hand’s on action, Cloud explained, “It’s a faster pace. It’s more physical. It’s kind of similar to your transition from high school to college figuring out to fit in, how to adjust, things that worked in college won’t necessarily work here at this elite level, so it’s figuring out your fundamentals, your ball handling and all that stuff.”

Rob Knox, who will return covering the Mystics as well as providing features on the rest of the league and his WNBA notebook, was on the scene Monday and will have more stories out of here later in the week. Rutgers graduate Lamar Carter, who is the SID at Howard here in the District, will also be making some contributions.

But the Guru did ask Thibault, looking at the competition in the Eastern Conference, who made the most improvement.

“I don’t really have a feel for that because right now there’s still a lot of question marks from teams in our league. In our division, Connecticut had a big loss with (Chiney) Ogwumike being out,: he said of the reigning rookie of the year out of Stanford.

“What Sylvia Fowles does with (reigning Eastern Conference playoff champion) Chicago will have an impact. New York’s added new pieces but they haven’t played together yet. Atlanta’s going to miss Sancho Lyttle, possibly, in the early part of the season so I really feel our conference is in flux and at least early in the season,” Thibault said.

“So if somebody can get off to get a good start and get some momentum can maybe take control of it a little bit.”

In Thibault’s first season down here, the Mystics saw the Western teams early and was able to feast enough off of them to make the difference in landing a playoff spot to bring joy to the fan base and then returned again to the postseason last season.

Now, it’s about going much further.

“Right now, I’m not going to worry about what other teams are doing. I can’t control that. We’ll try to worry about what we’re doing and take control of that each day.”

On Tuesday, the Guru will be on the scene at the Mohegan Sun for the Connecticut Sun Media Day and then on to New York Thursday before seeing the Liberty the next night battle Chicago in the Sky’s return to Delaware’s Bob Carpenter Center to give star Elena Delle Donne another homecoming.

Rob will also be at the game.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Monday, May 18, 2015

Villanova's Caroline Coyer, UConn's Breanna Stewart and Four SEC Stars Make Pan Am Roster

By Mike Siroky and Mel Greenberg

After setting personal career and season records last season at Villanova, making the All-Big East team and being named the Philadelphia Big Five Women's Player of the Year, can it get any better for Caroline Coyer, who has one more season left with the Wildcats?

The answer is an emphatic yes.

On Sunday Coyer made good on her invite to the gathering of current women's collegiate greats in Colorado Springs at the Olympic Training Center to try out for USA Basketball's one of two squads: The World University contingent, whose roster is listed under this post with Mike telling you all about it, or the Pan Am Games group, which will compete in Toronto, Canada in July.

Coyer's name was called as was UConn superstar Breanna Stewart, fresh off training with the USA Senior Women's National Team, and four stars of the Southeastern Conference, among others to the Pan Am squad.

While the World Games roster is very talented, more of the undergraduate cream of the crop was chosen for the Pan Am group.

"Wow. What an unbelievable honor! I am so humbled to have been selected & could not be more excited to represent @usabasketball this summer!," Coyer, whose twin sister Katherine also plays for 'Nova, tweeted before getting back to the East to catch up with her Wildcats teammates, who took off for a tour of Italy Sunday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Stewart, the two-time consensus national player of the year and three-time Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Women's Final Four, made the squad as did four of the SEC's very best: Alaina Coates (center, 6-4, 208) South Carolina; Linnae Harper guard, 5-8 150) Kentucky; Tiffany Mitchell (guard 5-9 154) South Carolina; and Courtney B. Williams (swing, 6-1, 165) Texas A&M.

Others who made the cut besides Coyer, a 5-10 140 pound guard, and Stewart (forward/center 6-4, 175) UConn: Moriah Jefferson (guard, 5-7 122) UConn; Sophie Brunner (center, 6-1, 185) Arizona State; Stephanie Mavunga (forward, 6-3 184) North Carolina; Kelsey Plum (guard 5-8, 145) Washington; Taya Reimer (forward, 6-3, 180) Notre Dame; and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough (guard, 5-11, 140) Maryland.

They were announced after the end of the three-day workouts.

Eligibility rules state all must be U.S. citizens still enrolled in college or university with eligibility remaining. No WNBAers or players from other pro teams across the world. These athletes are truly the future USA players for Olympics to come.

For example, in 2011 following an ongoing battle during the previous collegiate season with Lyme's Disease, then Delaware sensation Elena Delle Donne made the World University squad and joined a similar super rich talented group as this Pan Am team and became a gold medalist, finished her career with the Blue Hens in illustrious style and quickly became WNBA rookie of the year and one of the pro league's top players.

Reimer, Harper and Mitchell are among previous Gold Medal winners for USA Basketball on various teams. So are Stewart and Jefferson, Mavunga and Reimer while this is Coyer's first USA accolade.

The Pan American Women’s Basketball Team players and coaches will return to Colorado on July 3 for the start of training camp and will depart for the competition in Toronto on July 8. The women’s basketball competition will take place July 16-20.

The USA women have been placed into Group A and will take on Brazil on July 16, Dominican Republic on July 17 and Puerto Rico on July 18 in the preliminary round. Competing in Group B will be Argentina, Canada, Cuba and Venezuela.

The top two teams from each preliminary-round group will advance to the medal-round semifinals on July 19, while the third and fourth-placed teams will for fifth-eighth places. The semifinal winners will compete for the gold medal on July 20, while the semifinal losers will play for Bronze.

The Pan Ams are a multi-sport event featuring teams from North, South and Central American and the Caribbean that are organized by the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) and played every four years in the year preceding the Olympics (2015, 2019, etc.).

Since the first Pan American Games for women in 1955, the USA has compiled an overall record of 87-15 and won eight Gold medals, three Silver and two Bronze.

Most recently in 2011, a U.S. team comprised of collegians and one high school senior in Stewart that began training just one week prior to its first game, finished in seventh place with a 2-2 record.

The USA’s last Gold medal came in 2007, under the direction of 10-time USA Basketball Gold medalist and South Carolina coach Dawn Staley, who is currently an assistant to UConn's Geno Auriemma with the Olympians and will also head the U-19 squad, also picked Sunday, in the other main competition this summer.

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Tennessee Duo and Lady Vols Coach to Represent SEC on USA World University Team

By Mike Siroky

The Southeastern Conference of women’s basketball will be represented by two Lady Vols on USA Basketball’s World Univesity Games roster:

Diamond DeShields (guard, 6-1, 155) and Mercedes Russell (C, 6-6, 170) join assistant coach – and their college coach – Holly Warlick in the competition.

Tennessee was the only school on the USA World roster with two players while the Pac-12 had four players: UCLA's 5-6, 132 lb, guard Jordin Canada; Stanford's 6-3, 170 lb forward Erica McCall; California's 6-3, 170 pound forward Courtney Range, and Oregon State 6-0, 150 pound guard Sydney Weise.

Others who made the cut: Nina Davis (forward, 5-11, 160) Baylor; Rebecca Greenwell (guard, 6-1, 165 ) Duke; Chanise Jenkins (guard, 5-5,145) DePaul; Brionna Jones (center, 6-3, 220) Maryland; Aerial Powers (forward, 6-0, 160) Michigan State; and Courtney M. Williams (guard, 5-8, 136) South Florida.

The USA players and coaches will return to Colorado Springs for training camp on June 18-July 2. The 2015 World University Games women’s basketball competition will be held July 4-13 in Gwangju, South Korea.

The USA women have drawn Group C and will play Italy at 10 a.m. (all times listed are local, Gwangju is +13 hours from EDT) on July 5, China at 5:30 p.m. on July 6 and Czech Republic at 8 p.m. on July 7.

Playing in Group A will be Canada, Hungary, Mozambique and South Korea; Group B includes Japan, Mexico, Russia and Sweden; and Group D features Australia, Brazil, Taipei and Uganda.

The quarterfinals are July 9, the semifinals are July 11, the Bronze medal game is July 12 and the Gold medal game is July 13.

Contested every other year, the World University Games is organized by the International University Sports Federation (FISU).

USA Basketball women’s teams have participated in 17 World University Games and collected a record nine Golds, six Silvers and one Bronze medal. Since 1973, the first year the USA women competed in the World University Games, USA women’s teams have compiled a 101-15 record. The USA has won Gold medals in the past five Worlds in which it has competed (2001, 2005, 2009, 2011, 2013).

In 2013, led by tournament co-MVP Odyssey Sims, who went on to earn Gold as a member of the 2014 USA World Championship Team, the USA won by an average of 34.8 points per game and finished 6-0 to claim the Gold.

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

NCAA Rules Shifts in Women's Basketball Changing Halves to Quarters

By Mike Siroky

For those of us who have written abut women’s college basketball for decades, we long ago learned to segment the games.

You look for the runs in any game, the moments when control of game was taken, even if it was not until the closing minute.

Long before host schools did a good job with play-by-play sheets, you kept your own.

You learned to look at the clock for the time of your notation. Like early attendance or assists sheets, your own notes did not match the official school ones.

But your name was on the story and you went with your own notes.

Having covered high school, you were also use to quarters instead of full-run halves.

The women’s game under the NCAA have slowly become more standard to the men’s game and international rules.

Next up is a change from flowing halves to four 10-minute quarters.

As a writer, I have often thought in time references to quarters and sometimes in early drafts have actually written it that way.

The NCAA Women’s Basketball Rules Committee recommended the proposal following its meeting May this week in Indianapolis.

All rules proposals must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which is scheduled to discuss the recommended women’s basketball rules changes via conference call June 8.

Before the vote, committee members thoroughly debated the concept of moving the game away from the 20-minute halves format that women’s basketball has always used in NCAA competition.

They also consulted coaches and got an endorsement from the Women’s National Basketball Coaches Association. The WNBA has played quarters since its inception in 1997.

There are more recommendations:

Post defense

The committee recommended defenders be allowed to place a forearm or an open hand with a bend in the elbow on an offensive post player with the ball whose back is to the basket.

Free Throws

Teams would reach the bonus to shoot two free throws on the fifth team foul in each quarter.

In the current format, teams reach a one-and-one bonus on the seventh team foul of each half and reach the double bonus (two shots) on the 10th team foul.

In the proposed four-quarter format, team fouls would be reset to zero at the start of each quarter. However, if a team reaches the bonus in the fourth quarter, that team would remain in the bonus in any additional overtime periods.

In the proposed format, teams would have four timeouts (three 30-second timeouts and one 60-second timeout).

A team may use the 60-second timeout at the discretion of the coach during the first or second half of the game.

Teams would be allowed to carry over only two of those timeouts into the second half.

Each team would be awarded one 30-second timeout in each overtime period, plus any unused timeouts remaining from the second half.

Under the current format, teams have five timeouts (four 30-second stoppages and one 60-second stoppage) with only four of those carrying over to the second half.

In non-televised games, teams would have five timeouts (three 30s and two 60s). Four of the timeouts would carry over to the second half.

Advancing the ball

The committee also recommends teams be allowed to advance the ball to the front court following a timeout called after made baskets in the last 59.9 seconds of the fourth quarter and any overtime periods.

Teams also would be allowed to advance the ball to the front court after securing the ball from a rebound or a change of possession and calling a timeout before any advancement of the ball (dribble or pass).

In these scenarios, the ball would be inbounded at the 28-foot mark on the side of the court where the scorer’s table is located.

Because teams would no longer be required to go the length of the court, committee members feel this change would add more excitement to offensive possessions at the end of games.


For the past two seasons, NCAA women’s basketball has used the 10-second backcourt rule.

Before that, you could dribble time away in the backcourt.

For the upcoming season, the committee is proposing a team not receive a new 10-second backcourt count when a throw-in results from the following:

· The ball is deflected out of bounds by the defense.
· There is a held ball and the possession arrow favors the offensive team.
· A technical foul is called on the offensive team while the ball is in its backcourt.

The Bands Play On

In an effort to improve the overall fan experience, the committee recommended bands or amplified music may be played during any dead-ball situation. Current rules allow music to be played only during timeouts and intermission.

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Friday, May 15, 2015

WNBA Players Are Giving Thomas Move Involving the NY Liberty a Pass -- For Now

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Since MSG honcho James Dolan has made Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas presumptive president and part-owner of the New York Liberty despite Thomas being the central figure in a successful sexual harrassment suit by former NBA New York Knicks executive Anucha Browne, now vice president of Women's Basketball in the NCAA, there has been outrage.

The furor has come from the media, predominantly those who cover the NBA, especially those who cover the NBA in New York, and from women's basketball fans.

They have pointed to the tide of protest, especially from players, when former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling was caught on tape making racial remarks and was relatively quickly removed from his position by NBA commissioner Adam Silver and the NBA board of governors.

In that light, questions have been arising when is the league going to do something, though president Laurel Richie after the announcement said in a statement the league is taking the move seriously and pointed out the WNBA board of governors still must approve the move and the home office of the league in anonymity in the last several days made the Associated Press aware that New York has filed the paper work involving Thomas' application.

Meanwhile, media and fandom have questioned why in one case, namely Sterling, public comment came from all over the NBA, that unlikewise other than a statement from the management of the Seatle Storm, and an emphatic reaction deploring the move from Hall of Famer and Connecticut Suin coach Anne Donovan, who once coached the Liberty, there has been relatively silence.

Well, it looks like a sector -- the players union -- now has an official reaction and those looking for a tidal wave have instead gotten a ripple, based on a statement posted sometime Thursday on the WNPBA website.

Basically, it appears that the players are not opposed to move, per se, questioning it, noting problems of such in the workplace wouldn't be tolerated, but then gears are switch in which it is noted that things can change over time and that the union will closely monitor activity on the Liberty with several meetings with the players as the season gets under way.

Here is the specific section which the Guru cites. The entire statement is at the end of this commentary.

The verdict finding there to be a hostile work environment at MSG was issued eight years ago, however. We recognize that people can learn, grow and evolve in that time frame, and that MSG, under Mr. Dolan, may now afford a hospitable, appropriate and non-discriminatory environment for its female employees.

The Guru first saw a reference to the statement via a tweet from his ace WNBA scribe Rob Knox, who, by the way, was announced Thursday as part of the next Hall of Fame class at his alma mater Lincoln University.

It was late Thursday when the Guru was catching up with his timeline so there was no chance to be making calls for explanation or better interpretation.

Curiously, there was nothing showing anywhere at media sites or at social media locales reacting or reporting anything involving the statement, though maybe something is going up since the Guru began writing this and is posting immediate as daylight comes up on a Friday morning -- what else is new ion the Guru's world.

What the Guru finds stunning is the union posting this sort of stand BEFORE the league ownership took their own action and now have a green light to give approval without much dissent.

Why hold the owners feet to the fire when the players are not so hot and bothered -- Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer in an interview with the New York Post last week said all his players were on board with the action.

Had the owners basically already gone ahead first -- though the Guru believes the votes do exist to reject -- and given the ok, then the statement would be understandable because there isn't much more the players could do to object at that point -- the reality is it's a much smaller universe and there are not many in the league with the stature of Donovan that would be equivalent of the the protests that occurred over Sterling.

Or, maybe there are legal difficulties stopping the move and attempts are now being made behind the scenes to put on the best face in light of that possbility.

"I know that when (founding president) Val (Ackerman, now Big East commissioner) and (former NBA commissioner) David (Stern) were running the show, and issues came up, they quickly had a plan in place and began getting feedback from teams," said a former team operative in the league, requesting anonymity.

Possibly that has been going on in the Silver/Richie regimes though the Guru has not heard of discussions from some of his contacts who are top management types at team level.

So let's see what Friday begins. In the interim, here is the statement to save you searching around. Stay tune.

“The WNBPA and its members are aware of the 2007 verdict reached by a federal jury, after trial, that involved actions by Mr. Thomas and Mr. Dolan, and which found there to be a hostile work environment for women at Madison Square Garden (MSG).

WNBA players are aware that they have an impact both on and off the court. The WNBA is the premier women’s sports league in the world — its players represent the pinnacle of athletic prowess, are deeply vested in their local communities, and serve as role models for millions of boys and girls across the country. As such, we feel it is important to convey the message that WNBA players will not tolerate a hostile work environment, and that no one should have to endure unwanted sexual advances and harassment in the workplace.

The verdict finding there to be a hostile work environment at MSG was issued eight years ago, however. We recognize that people can learn, grow and evolve in that time frame, and that MSG, under Mr. Dolan, may now afford a hospitable, appropriate and non-discriminatory environment for its female employees.

As the union for all WNBPA players, we want to ensure that this remains the case and that Liberty players will not be subjected to the type of environment found to exist at MSG in the past.

Towards that end, we will have recurring meetings with the Liberty players throughout the season to provide a forum for any issues, complaints or concerns regarding the working environment at MSG. We will be hosting the first meeting prior to the start of the season.”

–Evie Goldstein, Director of Operations, WNBPA

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Guru Report: Memorializing Ginny Doyle

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

It was one year ago this week that a grieving period in women's basketball circles had begun following the tragic loss on the evening of Friday, May 9, of longtime Richmond associate head coach Ginny Doyle and operations director Natalie Lewis when the balloon they were riding at a nearby festival in Virginia struck power power lines attempting to land.

Pilot error was eventually ruled as the cause, citing Donald T. Kirk, who also died in the accident.

Lewis, of Buffalo N.Y., was known more to the immediate Richmond sports scene as a star swimmer while Doyle was more known nationally because of her travels on the recruiting circuit as well as being a star performer at Archbishop Ryan and the Philadelphia Belles AAU squad in her native city before going on to become one of the all-time players with the Spiders.

Specifically, Doyle, nicknamed "Deadeye,"was a prolific foul shooter who set an NCAA mark for men and women in making 66 consecutive free throws in 1992.

"It's been a tough year," said Doyle's brother Joe, recently, about the close family coping with the loss, still attending Richmond games at which several the two Spiders staffers were remembered as they were also at last winter's Atlantic 10 tournament in Richmond, Va.

Joe said the family planned to get together last weekend and he did tweet pictures from a family barbeque.

In the wake of their loss the Spiders was able to have a decent season finishing in the second round of the WNIT with an overall record of 19-14 under coach Michael Shafer, who is also the chair of the NCAA women's rules committee.

However, this team was not far off the mark from an NCAA tournament appearance, considering that in regular season play through the conference, there were these narrow losses, all on the road, 64-63 at Fordham, 49-47 at Penn and 61-59 at Saint Joseph's, ironically both in Philadelphia, 58-51, in overtime at Duquesne, and again to Fordham, 46-45, in the conference tournament.

In the WNIT, after a one-point win in the first round, back at Duquesne, the season ended on a 48-47 setback to the Dukes.

Vic Dorr of the Richmond Times, the dean of Virginia women's basketball writers, had a nice one-year remembrance of the team during the past week on his Facebook page.

A source who worked under Shafer on the rules committee cited him for doing an outstanding job this past year and really being focused.

One never knows how a team may be affected. There was a player death in a car crash this season at Easterrn Michigan, which continued to fare decently, and a few other tragedies elsewhere.

Several years ago after Oklahoma State coach Kurk Budke and one of his assistants were killed at the season's outset in plane crash while on a recruiting trip, the Cowgirls went on to win the WNIT.

Budke, incidentally, is one of the inductees headed for the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, June 13, in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Teams don't always rally, however.

Arizona was a budding powerhouse in the middle of the last decade under veteran Joan Bonvicini, now at Seattle, until it suffered the loss of star center Shawntince Polk, who died suddenly September, 26, 2005, while in the McHale Center.

Polk was a three-time Pac-10 (pre-expansion) team member who held the school career marks for with 222 blocked shots and 46 double doubles.

"After she died, the team just went with her emotionally that's how much they were effected by her loss because she was the center in everything about our squad," Bonvicini said several years later.

Besides using the blog here a year ago for people to write remembrances -- you can use the search box if you've never been to this site -- the Guru has attempted to launch two initiatives in Doyle's memory.

One would be to have one game in Philadelphia each season -- preferably when Richmond is visiting -- to be declared the Big 5 Ginny Doyle Game and the Guru will be making a presentation to the athletic directors next month at their seasonal meeting.

The second, though everyone got too busy to act on, came as the Guru was approached about coming up with some award in Doyle's name to add to the WBCA lineup.

That may take a while but until then and maybe thereafter the Guru had this idea, which the family endorsed -- because Ginny was about fun and because of her skill -- why not during the WBCA convention during the Women's Final Four, have a Ginny Doyle foul shooting tournament.

It could either be open ended or there could be categories beyond the coaches' participation for media members, maybe referees attending the finals, and collegiate players who decide to attend.

Those that the Guru approached all loved the concept.

"I know I'd sign up in a heartbeat," said Providence's Susan Robinson-Fruchtl, who is one of Penn State's all-time stars. "The year that she set the record, I was right there with her and then I missed a shot and she kept going."

So any one you who are on board, feel free to comment below in the area and we will see what the response is.

In closing out, the Guru actually bumped into a writing clip from back in his Inquirer era that was authored in 2003 in which the main focus was La Salle's Jill Morano, who was on a foul shooting tear.

But in the same article he interviewed Doyle about what it takes to be that good and he closes this post with that segment:

"I get asked a lot about technique and mechanics, but at the same time, there are people who have some really unorthodox shots but shoot free throws well," Doyle said. "I just think it's a matter of repetition. It's a lot of focus. It's very mental shooting, more so than the actual skill. It's doing the same thing over and over again."

Doyle spoke of the defining moment of being on the free-throw line when the outcome of a game is in the balance.

"It's the inner game you play within yourself that makes you successful in those situations," Doyle said. "The people who are strong and mentally tough and can handle that kind of pressure are the people you see succeed at the free-throw line."

After Doyle passed 64 straight foul shots, she topped the men's mark and found herself involved in a shooting exhibition at Richmond against TV basketball analyst Billy Packer, who had made disparaging remarks about the achievement and the women's game.

Both used the men's ball, which is slightly larger than the women's. Packer made 12 of 20; Doyle made all 20.

"There were 1,200 people there to watch," Doyle said with a grin. "It was a really neat atmosphere."

-- Mel

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Thursday, May 07, 2015

Mike Siroky's SEC Report: Nine Conference Stars Invited to Trials For 2015 Summer International Play

By Mike Siroky

Now that the training camp for future Olympic participants at the Rio Games has ended, USA basketball moves on to this year’s competitions.

The Southeastern Conference of women’s basketball is again well- represented in the coming assemblages for the Pan American Games and the World University Games.

These will be picked by May 17, at the end of the three-day workouts. The rules state all must be U.S. citizens still enrolled in college or university with eligibility remaining.

No WNBAers or players from other pro teams across the world. These athletes are truly the future USA players for Olympics to come.

Holly Warlick is an assistant coach for the University Games. Pat Head Summitt played in the Pan Ams in 1975 and for the University Games in 1974.

Invited SEC Players: Victoria Vivians (Mississippi State); Linnae Harper (Kentucky); Diamond DeShields and Mercedes Russell (Tennessee); Tiffany Mitchell and Alaina Coates (South Carolina) Jessica Jackson (Arkansas) and the two Courtneys from Texas A&M: Courtney Walker and Courtney Williams.

Harper, Mitchell, Russell and DeShields are among previous Gold Medal winners for USA Basketball on various teams.

The others in that category: Lexie Brown (Maryland); Jordin Canada (UCLA); Kaela Davis (Georgia Tech); Rebecca Greenwell (Duke.); Moriah Jefferson (Connecticut); Alexis Jones (Baylor); Stephanie Mavunga (North Carolina); Erica McCall (Stanford); Imani McGee-Stafford (Texas.); Kelsey Plum (Washington); Taya Reimer (Notre Dame); (Tennessee/Springfield, Ore.); and Brianna Stewart (UConn).

An additional 10 invitees have participated in at least one USA Basketball trials: Jillian Alleyne (Oregon.); Ameryst Alston (Ohio State); Allisha Gray (North Carolina); Whitney Knight (FGCU); Kelsey Mitchell (Ohio State); Sydney Wiese (Oregon State).

Twenty-eight players will be participating in their first USA Basketball event: Sophie Brunner (Arizona State); Kahleah Copper (Rutgers); Caroline Coyer (Villanova); Nina Davis (Baylor); Aliyyah Handford (St. John's); Alexa Hart (Ohio State); Katie Hempen (Arizona State); Myisha Hines-Allen (Louisville); Bria Holmes (West Virginia); Tori Jankoska (Michigan State); Mercedes Jefflo (California);

Chanise Jenkins (DePaul); Alisia Jenkins (South Florida; Kaylee Johnson (Stanford); Brionna Jones (Maryland); Jasmine Joyner (Chattanooga); Kelsey Lang (Texas); Adrienne Motley (Miami); Aerial Powers (Michigan State); Courtney Range (California); Ivey Slaughter (Florida State); Annie Tarakchian (Princeton);

Lili Thompson (Stanford); Shatori Walker-Kimbrough (Maryland.); Caira Washington (George Washington); Kaylon Williams (Oklahoma); and Courtney Williams (South Florida/Folkston).

The Pan American Games and World University Games team trials will take place on the same days as the 2015 USA Women’s U19 World Championship Team Trials, although at different times.

Several U19 participants, because they have played a year of college basketball, also are eligible for the Pan American and World University Games competitions.

Pan American Games

The Pan American Women’s Basketball Team players and coaches will return to Colorado on July 3 for the start of training camp and will depart for the competition in Toronto on July 8.

The women’s basketball competition will take place July 16-20.

The USA women have been placed into Group A and will take on Brazil on July 16, Dominican Republic on July 17 and Puerto Rico on July 18 in the preliminary round. Competing in Group B will be Argentina, Canada, Cuba and Venezuela.

The top two teams from each preliminary-round group will advance to the medal-round semifinals on July 19, while the third and fourth-placed teams will for fifth-eighth places. The semifinal winners will compete for the gold medal on July 20, while the semifinal losers will play for Bronze.

The Pan Ams are a multi-sport event featuring teams from North, South and Central American and the Caribbean that are organized by the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) and played every four years in the year preceding the Olympics (2015, 2019, etc.).

Since the first Pan American Games for women in 1955, the USA has compiled an overall record of 87-15 and won eight Gold medals, three Silver and two Bronze.

Most recently in 2011, a U.S. team comprised of collegians and one high school senior in Stewart that began training just one week prior to its first game, finished in seventh place with a 2-2 record.

The USA’s last Gold medal came in 2007, under the direction of 10-time USA Basketball Gold medalist and South Carolina coach Dawn Staley.

World University Games

The selected USA players and coaches will return to Colorado Springs for training camp on June 18-July 2. The 2015 World University Games women’s basketball competition will be held July 4-13 in Gwangju, South Korea.

The USA women have drawn Group C and will play Italy at 10 a.m. (all times listed are local, Gwangju is +13 hours from EDT) on July 5, China at 5:30 p.m. on July 6 and Czech Republic at 8 p.m. on July 7.

Playing in Group A will be Canada, Hungary, Mozambique and South Korea; Group B includes Japan, Mexico, Russia and Sweden; and Group D features Australia, Brazil, Taipei and Uganda.

The quarterfinals are July 9, the semifinals are July 11, the Bronze medal game is July 12 and the Gold medal game is July 13.

Held every other year, the World University Games are organized by the International University Sports Federation (FISU).

The WUGs are a multi-sport competition open to men and women who are between the ages of 17 and 24 (born between 1/1/88 and 12/31/98), who are enrolled as a full-time college student with remaining eligibility for the 2015-16 school year.

USA Basketball women’s teams have participated in 17 World University Games and collected a record nine Golds, six Silvers and one Bronze medal.

Since 1973, the first year the USA women competed in the World University Games, USA women’s teams have compiled a 101-15 record.

The USA has won Gold medals in the past five Worlds in which it has competed (2001, 2005, 2009, 2011, 2013).

In 2013, led by tournament co-MVP Odyssey Sims, who went on to earn Gold as a member of the 2014 USA World Championship Team, the USA won by an average of 34.8 points per game and finished 6-0 to claim the Gold.

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