One sign a season is spiraling downward is sudden changes in lineups and rotation patterns. Storm coach Brian Agler did that Tuesday in a matchup against Phoenix at KeyArena. He swapped F Alysha Clark for F Shekinna Stricklen in the starting lineup, the latter’s first start of the season. “We wanted to give Strick an…More
From the Twitter files, follower Jodie Skellern asked: “Does Team USA have a parent assistance policy for bball athletes traveling with children while playing for USA?” In case you haven’t heard, former Storm F Abby Bishop is upset with her native Basketball Australia due to it denying financial assistance for mothers. Bishop was part of…More
Storm F Camille Little re-signed with Seattle on Monday. It’s a multiyear deal but terms of the deal were not immediately released. Little, a full-time starter since she was traded to Seattle from Atlanta in 2008, was a key member of the Storm’s 2010 WNBA championship team. The 6-foot-2 North Carolina native didn’t miss a…More
Storm All-Star Lauren Jackson returned to the court on Wednesday after a 10-month layoff due to hamstring surgery in January. A three-time WNBA MVP, Jackson joined her native Australian national team to defeat New Zealand 66-50 on Wednesday in the opening round of the Oceania championship.
Jackson, a 6-foot-6 center, scored 22 points and had nine rebounds in her first organized game since Seattle lost 73-72 to Minnesota in the decisive Game 3 of the WNBA playoffs opening-round in October 2012. Jackson finished that road game with nine points on 1-for-7 shooting with six rebounds, missing a possible game-winner with 1.2 seconds left. Immediately following the loss Jackson, 32, wondered if she’d play, again.
“I’m just happy I got that game out of the way. It feels so good to be out there pain free,” Jackson told Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) News after Wednesday’s game. “I couldn’t walk before I had the surgery. I’m feeling pretty good about things, now. There was a period where I thought I’d never play, again, but to come out here tonight…New Zealand is our neighbor, so it feels like home a bit and it feels good.”
The Opals face the Tall Ferns on Sunday in Canberra. The teams are vying for slots at the FIBA World Championship in Turkey from September 27 to October 5, 2014.More
Washington has begun its search to replace women’s basketball coach Kevin McGuff. And already I’ve heard rumors that because Tia Jackson failed as a coach, the Huskies wouldn’t hire another black woman assistant for her first head-coaching job.
This isn’t fair to coaches like Charmin Smith, the longtime assistant at California, and others who should receive consideration for the job. Or to UW, which, I assume, will hire the coach it thinks is best for the position.
True, UW’s hire of Jackson didn’t work out. She is a talented recruiter, earning praise for the skill at Duke and now as an assistant at Rutgers. Jackson recruited good players to Washington, too, including PG Jazmine Davis, the Huskies’ leading scorer last season and the Pac-12 freshman of the year in 2012.
But the example of Jackson’s unsuccessful run as a first-time head coach should not be a sweeping assessment of black women first-time head coaches. Nearly all current black women head coaches were assistants first. C. Vivian Stringer, Dawn Staley and Cynthia Cooper-Dyke are the only exceptions I can immediately remember.
Staley and Cooper-Dyke entered the field with instant credibility because of their success as Olympians, WNBA and college players. Staley, now at South Carolina, started her career at hometown Temple. Cooper-Dyke, after coaching the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, coached in college at Prairie View A&M, UNC Wilmington, then Texas Southern, before being hired at USC last month. Stringer was the trailblazer. She coached and taught at Cheyney State College (now Cheyney University), a historically black school.More
Storm PG Sue Bird announced this week she’ll undergo left knee surgery to remove a cyst beneath her knee cap. The procedure is set for May 9 and will cause the All-Star to miss the 2013 WNBA season. Bird already had surgery on her left hip in October 2012.
Bird, 32, will return to Seattle shortly after surgery to complete rehabilitation and be part of the team. Her guaranteed base salary of $107,500 counts toward the Storm’s maximum $913,000 salary cap. Brian Agler, the Storm’s general manager and coach, signed veteran Temeka Johnson to help fill Bird’s position while returning G Tanisha Wright can also handle running the offense.
But Seattle is also without three-time MVP Lauren Jackson (hamstring) and her intended fill-in Ann Wauters (family), whose contracts do not count against the cap. It’s the first time since the Storm’s inception in 2000 that it played without Jackson or Bird, back-to-back No. 1 overall draft picks in 2001 and 2002.
Bird communicated via her agent about needing to undergo surgery. Here are her Q&A responses.
Q: Are you still in Russia traveling with UMMC Ekaterinburg playing right now?
Bird: Yes, right now I’m in Russia helping my team prepare for the EuroLeague final 8. As I’m sure you know I’m not playing in that but will resume play once the Russian League starts up again.
Q: Lauren mentioned speaking with you before she opted to have surgery, did you share your situation with her?
Bird: Once I knew surgery was the definite option Lauren was one of the first people I told.More
Once again, Washington coach Kevin McGuff will be watching for the “hangover” with his team. UW lost 60-46 at Utah on Friday, a game it needed to win to keep NCAA tournament hopes alive. Washington continued its poor shooting stretch against Utah. The Huskies shot 30.5 percent from the field overall, 8 for 32 in the second half.
“That was as good as we’ve played defensively in a long time,” Utes coach Anthony Levrets told reporters on Friday. Former Cleveland HS standout Cheyenne Wilson had five points in the game.
Washington didn’t have a “hangover,” sulking its collective head in playing USC the following Sunday after the four-point loss to No. 17 UCLA at Alaska Airlines Arena, however. Aside from McGuff’s concerns, UW beat USC 61-58 the following Sunday. Will that be true this Sunday at No. 20 Colorado?
Sure, the Utah loss is a prick in Washington’s NCAA bubble, but UW (19-7, 11-4) still has plenty it needs to accomplish.
The Huskies are tied for third with the Bruins (19-6, 10-4) in Pac-12 standings. UCLA hosts rival USC (8-17, 5-9) on Sunday. A UW win against CU (21-5, 10-5) would clinch at least fourth-place for the Huskies, which includes a bye in the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament in March at KeyArena. Third place would mean UW could stay out of No. 4 Stanford’s bracket.
And there’s always the National Invitation Tournament, which has its own seeding process. UW needs a strong finish to seal a good seed there if overlooked for the NCAA tourney.More
Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves loves statistics. The flip side of one has been tough to compensate.
In the midst of an eight-year West Coast Conference championship reign, GU had four players draft by the WNBA and one signed as a training-camp invitee. The biggest star is PG Courtney Vandersloot, who was named to the 2011 WNBA All-Star game as a rookie. Her leadership coupled with the absence of past standouts like Katelan Redmon and Heather Bowman meant Graves would be starting over this season. Particularly since only two of the current Zags played a lot of minutes in the past, returning starters Taelor Karr and Haiden Palmer being the only to average more than five points. And both of them are transfers.
Games the Zags may normally have won are now defeats, like home loses to Washington State and late breakdowns against then-No. 20 Ohio State. In GU’s eight-year WCC dominance, it only lost nine conference games, three were undefeated WCC seasons. But last year the Zags split games with conference newbie BYU. As the Cougars prepare for a return trip to McCarthey Athletic Center on Thursday, it’s not taboo to think of the Zags having trouble against their new rival, again.
In fact, following the Zags’ 10-4 nonconference finish, the players even pipped up about the challenge in upholding the tradition established at Gonzaga.
“They’ve voiced it to me that they feel pressure keeping the legacy going,” said Graves of the roster that has six underclassmen. “I said not to worry about that. We don’t need that kind of added pressure. Courtney’s last year was just two years ago. We only have three players who played with her on our entire roster. That’s a big turnaround in that short amount of time.”More
Washington is in the midst of a pretty good week. The Huskies’ home win against Arizona on Sunday assured UW of their first sweep in the opening of Pac-12 play since 2006-07. UW received a shout out by ESPN reporter Graham Hayes and Huskies’ post Talia Walton was named Freshman of the Week. She’s back after redshirting last year due to still recovering from right knee surgery her senior season in high school.
I spoke with Walton on Tuesday about the award. She scored 19 points and had five blocks, in a win over Arizona State (8-6, 0-2) in the teams’ conference opener on Friday. The former Federal Way preps star followed that with career highs in points (20) and rebounds (13) in a win against UA (9-4, 1-1).
Here’s the video from our chat:
As UW coach Kevin McGuff was praising Walton, he expressed uncertainty about G Kellie McCann-Smith. The junior missed two quarters due to a personal issue this academic year. When she returned in December, she was out of shape, which she said is linked to her absence. Apparently McCann-Smith is so far behind she may be redshirted this season.
Washington fashioned a new look for Thursday’s road game at Portland. Players wore black uniforms for I believe the first time in school history (someone tell me if I’m wrong).
The look is just as bad (as in good) as when the UW football team takes the field in its black uniforms. And like the men, the women aren’t expected to wear them throughout the season. According to redshirt sophomore Talia Walton, the coaching staff and support team determine when the players wear what.
To the right is a photo I took of sophomore PG Jazmine Davis sporting the look that was an instant hit with the team. The debut on Thursday also helped diffuse the purple between the Pilots (1-6) and Huskies, but the visitors remain slow to put together a complete strong game no matter the uniform. Davis’ offense in particular was sketchy in the first half before she finished with a career-high-tying 28 points.
“We were all looking at ourselves in the mirror like, ‘OK, we can do this,'” said Walton of the Huskies prior to the win. “We can’t come out in our first game with our black uniforms and stink up the place. We had to come out tough in our new uniforms.”More