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A sports reporter’s spring notebook cleaning

Marlene Stollings’ second hire on her Gopher women’s basketball coaching staff is Nikita (Niki) Dawkins. She is a 23-year coaching veteran who has been a VCU assistant coach the last two seasons and held similar positions at Old Dominion, Michigan and Ohio State, her alma mater. In a released statement, Stollings called Dawkins, whose duties include recruiting coordinator, “one of the top assistants in the country.” She joins Tiffanie Couts, who Stollings named director of basketball operations. Couts was a grad assistant last season at VCU. The women are the only two Blacks on the staff. Continue Reading →

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Lynx draft four ‘solid players’

Unlike last year’s top-heavy, star-studded draft, the 2014 WNBA Draft was instead more workwoman-like. Filling specific team needs took precedence over obtaining star players. The MSR, during the April 10 pre-draft media conference call, asked ESPN Analysts Carolyn Peck and LaChina Robinson if they foresee “a publicity let-down” from last year’s “3 to See” draft that featured Britney Griner, Skylar Diggins and Elena Della Donne. “I don’t think necessarily we have an Elena Della Donne or Britney Griner in this class,” explained Robinson. “We do have a lot of impact players: Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford), Odyssey Sims (Baylor), Kayla McBride (Notre Dame), Alyssa Thomas (Maryland). Continue Reading →

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High-scoring Timberwolves now 7-4

Will this be the year the Timberwolves make a run for a title? Will they return to the playoffs for the first time since Kevin Garnett-Sam Cassell-Latrell Sprewell drove the franchise to the Western Conference Finals? This is year 25 for the Timberwolves to celebrate a quarter of a century of no banners. When I started covering sports in this town back in 1978 the NBA did not exist. After 11 games, the 7-4 Timberwolves are one of the league’s most entertaining teams. They get up and down the floor. Continue Reading →

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New food choices at Timberwolves games not for everyone

 

 
Fans looking for basic fare and affordable options might just be out of luck
 

The Minnesota Timberwolves has new concessions items this season. A first-ever sampling party was held October 23 for “a mix of media and season-ticket members,” including the MSR at the downtown Minneapolis arena. This reporter however did not taste any of the new food: a male worker seemingly didn’t understand me when I asked if a simple hamburger was available — he instead pointed me to the new 1/3-pound Bar-B-Que Burger topped with pork, barbecue sauce and onion crisp. A Black female worker also couldn’t convince me to try the new “Ball Hog,” a 1/2-pound kielbasa. “The kielbasa is good,” she insisted, but to no avail. Continue Reading →

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Top WNBA teams hope to peak in playoffs

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

The 2013 WNBA Playoffs begin this week: Washington-Atlanta and Indiana-Chicago in the East, and Minnesota-Seattle and Los Angeles-Phoenix in the West in the four best-of-three first-round matchups.  

“When we get into the playoffs, it’s our own destiny,” notes Indiana guard Shavonte Zellous, a member of the 2012 defending champions. The Fever, the only sub-.500 club among the eight playoff teams, has been injury-riddled all season. “We’ve gotten some good wins and some tough losses as well,” explains forward Tamika Catchings. “I think we’ve gotten better from the beginning of the season to now.”

 

“We are going to make a good run,” predicts Zellous. Continue Reading →

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WNBA President Richie in town — Addresses questions about expansion

 

 

 

The ‘E’ word — expansion — again was heard. It was asked at the All-Star Game a couple of weekends ago, and again last weekend when WNBA President Laurel Richie spoke to the tiny Minnesota press corps prior to the August 2 Minnesota-San Antonio contest. Too bad the quizzical reporter, as well as others who keep bringing it up, hasn’t gotten it yet. A dozen teams — six in each conference — is fine right now. This reporter, who has covered all 17 WNBA seasons, has seen the league expand too fast during its formative period, only to see teams like Cleveland and Charlotte later close shop after a couple of years. Continue Reading →

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‘Under-the-radar’ rookies take their best shots

 

 

 

They haven’t as yet received attention similar to “The Big 3” WNBA rookies — Brittney Griner, Skylar Diggins and Elena Delle Donne — but here are two other “under the radar” rookies who are also worth noting.  

Ta’Shauna Rodgers 

A first-round selection usually is a roster lock, but that’s not necessarily the case for players picked in later rounds. Once a projected first-rounder, Minnesota guard Ta’Shauna “Sugar” Rodgers was the 14th overall pick in the 2013 Draft. “I had to come in here and try out,” recalls the second-rounder. “When I made the team, I was excited. Continue Reading →

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Black sportswriting talent finds outlet on new online site

The Shadow League.com is an online site that features Black writers who provide in-depth articles. It provides “engaging, insightful and entertaining coverage of the intersection of sports, pop culture and

race” from a diverse perspective.   Comparable to the Black-oriented news site The Root.com, TheShadowLeague. com, which debuted in January, is a “go-to website for edgy, forward-thinking perspectives.” However, unlike The Root, which is corporate- owned, the latter is solely owned by former ESPN vice-president Keith Clinkscales.   “We all enjoy sports,” says Clinkscales. Continue Reading →

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