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The latest news and analysis on college and pro women's basketball.

July 10, 2010 at 10:32 AM

Game thread: WNBA Stars vs. USA Basketball

USA! USA! USA!: Of course the Americans won 99-72 and Fowles was named MVP, finishing with 23 points and eight rebounds. Auriemma said things are no clearer, however. The process of picking a team sounded a lot like writing: It’s never done, just due. As long as Fowles is inside, Catchings is on the floor and Bird is running the team, USA is set with whoever else surrounds them. A testament to that was USA Basketball totaling 32 assists on 42 made FGs. I don’t think I’ve ever seen those kind of numbers. Pondexter led the sharing with six while Bird had five and Catchings had four in six minutes. She didn’t play the remainder of the game due to injured knees, preserving herself for the WNBA season. USA Basketball plays a scrimmage against Australia on Sunday, then the WNBA will resume with practices across the country on Monday. It was a quick weekend for most. Hopefully players aren’t too zapped because the fun is over. Now it’s a tight race for the WNBA title and Seattle is leading the charge. “The game got away from us there a couple of times,” Agler said. “But we had a group there going into the fourth that played pretty well. Now it’s time to get back. We did our mission of getting out of here with no injuries, get these players back to their teams.”
GOOFING OFF: Charles, who attempted probably one three-pointer as a senior under Auriemma last year, has attempted two in the final minutes. The All-Star aspect has clearly begun. USAB leads 99-72 with 1.4 seconds left.
PICK ‘EM: Who would your national team be? Of course Candace Parker should be healthy by 2012, but who would the others be for you out of this group that played today? McCoughtry is playing the point to end the fourth quarter and she’s got to be on the team to me. She has 10 points and three assists in 23 minutes of play.
FUN SHOW: Auriemma ran a lineup of Moore, Fowles, McCoughtry, Montgomery, and Pondexter, which was pretty entertaining in terms of All-Star glitz. Moore got her first baskets of the game and there was some good defense played. USAB is now up 72-41 with 1:17 remaining in the third quarter.
MOORE STARTS: Moore is starting in place of Catchings in the second half.
HOF: The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame announced its 2011 class — Val Ackerman, the WNBA’s inaugural president; Ruthie Bolton, a WNBA All-Star; Vicky Bullet, another legend on the court; Pearl Moore who played college hoops from 1975-1979 and scored over 4,000-points; Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw; and Lometa Odom, a Texas AAU player from 1956.
HALFTIME: USAB took a 49-28 lead into the break. Not sure how much work is getting done, but you can tell there’s some chemistry building. The team has 17 assists with Bird leading with five. The national team is shooting 55.6 percent from the field and only has eight turnovers, limiting that to two points for the WNBA Stars. The Stars didn’t have a single assist in the opening quarter and are shooting 26.5 percent from the field. Snow leads with eight points.
UCONN TAKEOVER: Four UConn players are on the court for the final minute in Bird, Taurasi, Moore, and Cash. USAB leads 47-28.
APPEL HURT: Appel is seated on the bench with an ice pack on the left side of her face. Actually she’s checking back into the game, so she must be OK. USAB starting to take over, leading 41-28 with 2:52 on the clock.
FOUL?: Has a coach ever received a tech in a “All-Star” game? Agler may be the first. He was chatting with Walker, trying to get him to see a few things USAB was doing to his players. There have been eight total fouls called. And after a bucket by Charles from Moore, USAB leads 33-21 with 7:01 on the clock.
EVERYBODY SCREAM: Cash collected her second foul, which brought Maya Moore off the bench and the place went wild with applause. USAB leads 25-17 with 1:16 remaining in the quarter. The crowd is clearly cheering for Moore and the Americans second.
WNBA CAN PLAY: Harding helped the WNBA Stars cut the deficit to 16-12 with a jumper at the 5:32 mark. But the Stars are having trouble keeping track of Fowles and Catchings popped a three-pointer to build a 21-15 lead. Auriemma made a lineup change, putting Dupree, Angel McCoughtry, Renee Montgomery, Cash, and Tina Charles in the game. The Stars are now playing Whalen, Sophia Young, Iziane Castro Marques, Rebekkah Brunson, and Jayne Appel.
CATCH FINE: Catchings started and stepped in between a pass for the WNBA Stars, grabbing the steal and traveling down court for a fastbreak layin to Taurasi. Taurasi later hit a jumper and Fowles an open shot underneath to put the USA up 13-6 with 7:18 remaining in the opening quarter. The Americans are 6 of 6 from the field.
A FAN?: Dee Kantner, supervisor of WNBA officials, stopped by to say “Hi.” I wasn’t going to question her until she said she reads this blog, so I had to ask about the DeLisha Milton-Jones incident with Lauren Jackson on July 3. Kantner didn’t respond to my request about whether it’s being “investigated.” She just patted me on the back and said it was nice to see me.
PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH: WNBA president Donna Orender gave her annual “State of the League” press conference while the shooting challenges started on the court. She gloated about increased numbers from attendance to ratings, felt the pain of people not getting LiveAccess to work, and said she’s also spoken with ESPN about showing more game highlights on a national level. “Send them a note, help me out!” she said of the entertainment network not airing the league it bought the rights to broadcast. The 2011 season will return to the June start date and unlike the promise when Sacramento folded, Orender was slow to say a team would be in the Bay Area by then. In a smart move (to me), she wants the 12 teams to be strong and continue to grow their individual fan bases. She’s not closing the door to expansion, but just that it better be a real solid proposal that helps everyone become stronger. In terms of marketing, Vogue is doing a feature on Marion Jones for its August issue and local TV coverage is up from 50 in 2009 to 130 this season.
CHICAGO BOUND: Storm coach Brian Agler, who’s coaching the WNBA Stars, plans to leave immediately after the game for Chicago to see his daughter play in an AAU tournament. Taylor is a guard entering high school and before Seattle took off to a 16-2 start, granting Agler the honor of coaching at the midseason showcase, the break was the only time he was able to catch his daughter this summer. After a day in Chicago, Agler will return to Seattle for practice on Monday. The team departs Tuesday for a game in Phoenix on Wednesday.
CATCHINGS QUESTIONABLE: Catchings didn’t participate in the full USA Basketball practice on Friday due to a nagging knee injury. She’s out on the court warming up and is listed as a starter for the team, but coach Geno Auriemma is hesitant.
DOUGLAS WINS: Douglas won the three-point competition, nailing 23 of the 24 possible points. Cash was third, getting seven in the second-round. Whalen had 11 points for second place. Next up is the game.
BOO!: Bird was eliminated from the three-point contest and the crowd booed, upset that the fave won’t compete. But Cash, who is shooting career-best numbers from the range during the regular season, did advance and is shooting now. Douglas is hot, though, so it’ll be a tough competition to win.
If I may get personal, again, I’d like to offer an apology for not blogging all of the festivities on Friday. It’s not my fault; Storm All-Star Sue Bird took my computer.
She was nice about it. “Do you have internet up?” she asked before USA Basketball practiced. After I replied yes, she said she had to do some drug entry “thing” and could she borrow it for a short while.
It took about 90-minutes total.
“This is the most tedious thing ever!” I heard her snap several times as she entered data on the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency site. Seems the organization changed its system, again, requiring athletes to input their whereabouts — for the next three months — for random testing.
So, there’s Bird seated baseline at my computer at the Mohegan Sun Arena trying to figure out where she’s going to be on Sept. 6 and what time she’ll be free and a number USADA can call if it needs to reach her for a test. Or she can’t be in the USA Basketball player pool. Geesh. And if Bird’s not there at said submitted time, it’s a missed test. Get three of those and you fail. So, if she decides to skip off to the San Juans for a daytrip instead of be in Seattle on off day during the Storm season, the USADA has to know, too.
“Forget it, I don’t want to be on the Olympic team anymore,” belted Phoenix All-Star Diana Taurasi, who was seated next to Bird on another computer. Thank, oh, track and field, weightlifting, and probably baseball for the inconvenience.
I joked with Carol Callan, the women’s national team director, that USADA was actually saving the environment by not having players fill out a paper version and fax it to the organization. She didn’t appreciate my green thinking and neither did the players.
Bird apologized, but I had to shoo teammate Swin Cash away from my computer. I had work to do!
That explains Friday, but Saturday should be smooth sailing. I’m already at the arena writing in the dark as game operations goes over some sweet player introductions plans. To my left is Storm coach Brian Agler, who’s coaching the WNBA Stars against USA Basketball. He’s talking to Atlanta coach Marynell Meadors about their shared success in the WNBA this season. Their teams lead the Western and Eastern Conference, respectively.
I’ll do the thread differently since it’s an odd type of an All-Star game. Bird stressed that the national team has work to accomplish, mainly getting comfortable playing with each other. It was odd to see her cut across the paint and kick a pass out to Kia Vaughn (New York), but that may be the way it works in September when the World Championships begin in Czech Republic.
If Bird gets her wish, the Storm could be playing a decisive Game 5 in the WNBA Finals that ends on Sept. 21. The opener for the Worlds is Sept. 23.
“Maybe in the fourth quarter it’ll get light, but we really have to take this seriously,” Bird said. “We’re in training mode.”
I don’t expect a high scoring game, yet the WNBA Stars may want to prove a point, too. We’ll see. Let’s get it started with your starting lineups:
F Diana Taurasi
F Tamika Catchings
C Sylvia Fowles
G Sue Bird
G Cappie Pondexter
F Monique Currie
F Crystal Langhorne
C Michelle Snow
G Lindsey Harding
G Katie Douglas
Tonight’s officials are Michael Price, Cameron Inouye, and Kurt Warner.



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