WNBA

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The rookie and the vet: two new Lynx

There are a few new faces on the 2014 Minnesota Lynx roster 
this season. This week’s “View” takes a look at two of them
 

Asia Taylor

Normally. a later-round pick is considered a long shot to make a WNBA roster, yet alone one that virtually carried over its 2013 championship squad intact. Forward Asia Taylor as a result didn’t beat any odds, but rather took advantage of circumstances clearly out of her control and had an impressive training camp. The 6’-1” Taylor told the MSR that her college coach, Louisville’s Jeff Walz, who also coached All-Star Angel McCoughtry, prepared her well for the present. Continue Reading →

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Lynx stay unbeaten at 5-0

 

It could be said that five games into the season might be a bit premature to celebrate the 2014 Minnesota Lynx. I disagree. The defending WNBA champions picked up where they left off last season and are off to another fast start in pursuit of their third title in four years. Coach Cheryl Reeve has the ultimate challenge this year. All-Star Rebekkah Brunson, the team’s leading rebounder, and key reserves Monica Wright and Devereaux Peters all had knee surgery before the season and have not played yet. Continue Reading →

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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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WNBA league, players reach 8-year contract agreement

 

 

 

 

 

 

The new eight-year collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the WNBA and the players will add 12 more players to the league, beginning this season. Expanding the rosters, even if only by one spot per team, was a key goal for the players. According to released statements last week:

“We expect all of the league’s constituencies to benefit from the teams’ ability to sign a 12th player,” said WNBA Players Association Director of Operations Pamela Wheeler. “This agreement caps a successful 2013 season both on and off the court,” added League President Laurel Richie. The new deal, which continues through 2021 and includes salary-cap increases, “provides the league with a long-term foundation for growth while also guaranteeing increases in player salaries and benefits,” Richie said. Continue Reading →

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Local leading coach nominated for national honors

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

DeLaSalle Girls’ Basketball Coach Faith Johnson Patterson is among this year’s nominees for USA Today national girls’ coach of the year.  Johnson Patterson in 2012 became the first Black female basketball coach to be inducted into the Minnesota Girls’ Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. “They [USA Today] go around to different states, looking for the top coaches,” Johnson Patterson said exclusively last week to the MSR. “People are selected from each region. My name was brought up several times. “It’s a two-to-three week period where you have to vote, and the top coach from each region is selected as a finalist. I think the winner gets a [cash prize] and a banner to be placed at the winner’s school,” surmised Johnson Patterson. Continue Reading →

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Women coaching men — can they? Will they?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fourth in a series
 
Six women were full-time Division I men’s basketball assistants during an eight-year stretch from 2003 to 2011. Before that (1990-2002), there were three female assistants, two of them Black — Bernadette Mattox at Kentucky, 1990-94, and Stephanie Ready at Coppin State, 1999-2001. None, however, were ever fired as men’s assistants. Mattox went on to become Kentucky’s head women’s basketball coach, then eight years as a WNBA assistant. Ready later coached two years in the NBA Development League (2001-03) and became the first female to coach in a men’s pro league. 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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The WNBA: where it’s been, where it’s going

League president Richie defends ESPN coverage
 

Although it’s America’s longest running women’s pro league, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) is still seen by too many as below major league status. The MSR talked about this and related issues with coaches, players, analysts, fans and league officials throughout the league’s 17th season; their insights are included in this multi-part series on the WNBA.   Shortly after a visit here in August, WNBA President Laurel Richie promised the MSR a one-on-one sit-down interview later in the season. The third-year league president made good on her promise during the playoffs, and we respectfully discussed several topics. Despite a six-year extension, this columnist remains unimpressed that ESPN will ever see the WNBA as other than a stepsister in its overall coverage. Continue Reading →

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The WNBA: where it’s been, where it’s going

How to better promote the WNBA
 

 

Although it’s America’s longest running women’s pro league, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) is still seen by too many as below major league status. The MSR talked about this and related issues with coaches, players, analysts, fans and league officials throughout the league’s 17th season; their insights are included in this multi-part series on the WNBA.  

The WNBA has over the course of its existence used season-long promotions that frankly bombed. “We Got Next” and posing star players in evening gowns are just two sad examples. Prior to last spring’s draft, the W launched a new logo as part of what League President Laurel Richie called its “rebranding initiative.” Then came its “3 To See” campaign, for which the president credited ESPN with the season-long theme. Continue Reading →

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