From the Storm: Seattle Storm Announces 2014 Schedule Home slate features 10 weekend games SEATTLE – The Storm will tip off its 2014 campaign versus Los Angeles at KeyArena on May 16. The 2014 Seattle Storm schedule, announced by the WNBA on Thursday, features three home games against the Sparks and two trips from both the reigning…More
Topic: Courtney Vandersloot
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Jan. 13, 2014) – Including 14 Olympic and/or FIBA World Championship gold medalists, the 33-player 2014-16 USA Basketball Women’s National Team pool, from which the 2014 USA World Championship Team and, if the U.S. qualifies, the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team will be selected, was announced today. The USA National Team pool will be fluid, and athletes may be added at any time by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee.
Highlighting the returning veterans are three-time Olympic gold medalists Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever) and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury); two-time Olympic gold medalists Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky) and Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks); 2012 Olympic gold medalists Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx) and Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx); and Kara Lawson (Connecticut Sun) and Cappie Pondexter (New York Liberty), who were members of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team. Further, Jayne Appel (San Antonio Silver Stars) and Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury), members of the 2010 USA World Championship Team that won gold, have been named to the pool.
Also named to the 2013-16 USA National Team roster were: DeWanna Bonner (Phoenix Mercury), Elena Delle Donne (Chicago Sky), Skylar Diggins (Tulsa Shock), Stefanie Dolson (University of Connecticut), Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury), Lindsey Harding (Los Angeles Sparks), Briann January (Indiana Fever), Glory Johnson (Tulsa Shock), Jantel Lavender (Los Angeles Sparks), Kayla McBride (University of Notre Dame), Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (University of Connecticut), Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks), Danielle Robinson (San Antonio Silver Stars), Odyssey Sims (Baylor University), Breanna Stewart (University of Connecticut), Alyssa Thomas (University of Maryland), Courtney Vandersloot (Chicago Sky), Monica Wright (Minnesota Lynx) and Sophia Young (San Antonio Silver Stars).
I’m helping out with The Seattle Times’ coverage of the NCAA volleyball championship this week. No. 3 seed Washington made the Final Four, creating a unique vibe around KeyArena. There were scattered single tickets available on Wednesday, more could pop up Thursday as teams return what they couldn’t sell to their own fans.
UW plays No. 2 seed Penn State 30 minutes after defending champion Texas, a No. 1 seed, faces No. 12 seed Wisconsin at 4:30pm (PT) on Thursday at KeyArena. The matches will air on ESPN2. The championship match is set for Saturday night.
“You’ve gotta be there,” UW coach Jim McLaughlin said of his team knowing all season the Final Four would be in its hometown and wanting to be part of the field.
“You’ve gotta work real hard and take advantage of this opportunity that some other people gave you,” he continued of the planning that was involved in bringing the championship to Seattle. “So it’s a very, very special thing to be here in front of our fans and then have the whole United States volleyball come to Seattle which is kind of neat. These guys have prepared for every week for every challenge, and the challenges have become more significant. They know they have prepared…and they know that they’re ready for this.”More
Forget New Year’s Day, Samantha MacKay has Jan. 2 circled on her calendar.
Four months after her Hungarian team’s bus accident in September left two dead and her with three cracked vertebrae (C3, C4, and C7), MacKay will be cleared to travel to rejoin her Uni Gyor squad. Currently in a hard neck brace after the accident flung her through a window into a ditch, MacKay said she’ll finish her rehab in Hungary.
She’s determined to play this season.
“I’ve always been pretty stubborn,” MacKay said in a phone interview last week from her family home in Philadelphia. “Laying in the hospital that day, I was like, no matter what, you’re going to get back’ and I’ll deal with whatever has to happen.
“But I’m getting back to playing, again. The doctor said there’s no reason I can’t. I just need to allow it to heal and give it enough time and try not to rush back.”
Of the players able, MacKay, a former Storm training camp invitee, is the last member of the Hungarian team to return. Former Gonzaga star Courtney Vandersloot (Chicago Sky) and Storm F Joslyn Tinkle are some of the replacement players filling out the roster.More
Trying out for the national team normally is an honor. But it’s a tryout PG Briann January hopes to miss. Her Indiana Fever dismissed Courtney Vandersloot’s Chicago Sky in the WNBA playoffs opening-round and are currently playing the Atlanta Dream in a best-of-three Eastern Conference Finals.
Winner gets a trip to the WNBA Finals and thus would be too busy to participate in the 2013 Women’s National Team mini-camp from Oct. 4-6 at the Cox Pavilion practice gym on the campus of UNLV in Las Vegas. A WNBA Finals run would be a second consecutive trip for January, who led the Fever to the 2012 league title. The Los Angeles Sparks are the last team to win back-to-back WNBA championships, doing so in 2001-02.
Vandersloot is making a return trip to the mini-camp. It’s designed to identify players for the USA National Team pool, from which the 2014 USA World Championship Team will be selected. Invitations to attend the training camp were issued by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee.
Of course with Storm All-Star Sue Bird and Minnesota All-Star Lindsay Whalen still locks on the national team roster, there isn’t much room for the Washingtonian guards. January starred at Spokane’s Lewis & Clark HS while Vandersloot is of Kentwood HS fame.
Bird is rehabilitating from knee surgery in May. She said she’s going to attend the session but won’t participate. A three-time Olympian, Bird is cleared for full-contact practice and will begin that phase of her comeback with her Russian team this fall.
Whalen, a first-time Olympian in 2012, is busy leading Minnesota to the Western Conference Finals. Her Lynx are facing the Phoenix Mercury in a best-of-three Western Conference Finals.More
Might as well start with Storm G Tanisha Wright, seeing how my mentioning of Wright as a first-team WNBA pick irked some on my Twitter timeline. It’s an opinion vote, so fans can have theirs and it can not count all the same. But mine isn’t a homer pick.
My ballot rules remain the same. A team has to reach the postseason to be considered. Only one pick broke that personal criteria this season, Tulsa’s Gary Kloppenburg as Coach of the Year. The Shock improved its win total, won the regular-season series against the Storm 3-2 to nearly clinch a playoff berth for the first time since relocating from Detroit in 2010 and Tulsa lost five games in overtime, which again, could have helped them get to postseason play. Considering this was done with a young squad that required tough decisions — benching a touted draft pick being one — Klop gets my nod despite not reaching the only goal in pro sports — postseason play to win a championship.
So, back to Wright and the team everyone said would be booty due to offseason surgeries in All-Star mainstays Sue Bird (knee) and Lauren Jackson (hamstring). The Storm finished 17-17, one better than last season with the hobbled stars. The Storm finished at .500, which either matched or is better than three of the Eastern Conference playoff teams. (FYI, there are only four playoff teams) Seattle swept No. 3 seed Phoenix and was 2-2 against No. 2 seed Los Angeles this season. What I’m saying is you can’t tell me Wright shouldn’t be considered a top player in the league because the Storm lost 17 games.
I vote by position — the old-school small forward, power forward, center, point guard, shooting guard lineup. The WNBA also requires voters to vote players by the position they start, so Candace Parker can play all over the court if coach Carol Ross would like, Parker is still a center on my ballot and not better than Sylvia Fowles (Chicago), so Parker is all-WNBA second-team.More
I’m talking into the abyss, so I’ll make this short. Chicago PG Courtney Vandersloot is my WNBA Most Improved Player. I’m calling it early for my standards, but the Sky clinched early. Vandersloot, the former Gonzaga and Kentwood HS star, finished with 10 points, seven assists and one turnover in Chicago’s 82-64 win on Friday to clinch its first postseason berth since the franchise was established in 2006.
“It feels good. Just thinking about from the first training camp, into the first preseason game just knowing what you have around you,” Sky C Sylvia Fowles told reporters after the win. “All these good players we’re surrounded by just makes it all so much better to be on this team and have this opportunity with this group of young women.”
Since the All-Star break, Vandersloot is averaging 11.4 points and 5.8 assists. I know, she has three All-Stars swarming her in Elena Delle Donne, Fowles and Epiphanny Prince. Delle Donne is my Rookie of the Year (duh!) and Fowles is All-WNBA first team on my ballot. However, Prince was inconsistent/injured this season, shooting 32.6 percent from the field in August. Fowles, while extremely impressive in her first healthy season, can’t handle the ball alone like Delle Donne.
I remember Vandersloot’s wild ball handling and see how its improvement in running the Sky offense plus her improved defense has helped the Sky meet expectations they’ve had since its inception in 2006 because of the incredible talent of Fowles (and Candice Dupree, etc.). Without a steady PG and veteran leadership from F Swin Cash, a three-time WNBA champion, this Sky team doesn’t see this kind of success. And I’m talking about leading the Eastern Conference with a chance to clinch the WNBA’s overall best record.
Chicago plays at Atlanta (14-10) on Saturday at 4pm (PT) on ESPN2 in hopes of retaining its 3.5-game lead on the top spot in the East.More
WNBA players are known for their giving nature, most starting foundations despite seemingly not earning enough to give as they do. Storm PG Temeka Johnson is the latest to dote on the public in a rare move. She already has the H.O.P.E foundation that works to inspire communities, this week Johnson is using social media to show fans her appreciation.
A nine-year WNBA veteran who won a championship with Phoenix, Johnson will host her own “Fan Appreciation Week” beginning Monday through Friday, using different social media platforms, to give her the opportunity to give back to her fans that have supported her throughout her career. According to her agent, “it’s a simple gesture which goes a long way in maintaining and building her popularity and releasing her new and improved website TemekaJohnson.com.”
“This past season had a lot of ups and downs but the one thing I could count on was all the support from you guys!” Johnson said of her following. “I have the most passionate, enthusiastic and creative fans ever and this week I want to take the time to thank you guys for everything you do for me!!”
Storm Twitter Takeover
A live Q&A via the Storm’s Twitter account Monday from 6 pm-7 pm PST
Meek Book Cover Artwork Contest
Design your best book cover featuring “Meek” that you, your family and friends created. Five (5) individuals will win a signed book, written by Temeka Johnson. Winners will be announced through Twitter and Instagram.
Your book may possibly be the next cover for Temeka’s next book. You never know, so put your talent and creativity to work.