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Minnesota ‘the team to beat’ in 2013 WNBA playoffs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cast of The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the closing scene of the series finale together sang, “It’s a long, long way to Tipperary.” To initially begin our WNBA playoffs discussion, we note that it’s simply a long, long way to seven wins, the required number needed to capture a championship trophy next month. Winning the first in a best-of-three series generally puts additional pressure on the other team that now must win the next two contests to advance. Several “insiders” recently shared their thoughts and prognostications with the MSR on the 2013 WNBA eight-team playoffs that begin Thursday. “I think it will be a battle between those two [on] who will come out of the West,” says Indiana Coach Lin Dunn on Minnesota and Los Angeles, seeded one and two respectively in the West. Asked about her club’s

post-season chances, Dunn says, “Right now we’re not a great team, but we got a chance.”

“It doesn’t matter where you are going into the playoffs as long as you get in,” adds Indiana forward Tamika Catchings on the Fever’s 4th-seed position in the East. 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 rookies learn the ropes

 

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Wearing a visitors’ uniform in her hometown is nothing new for Tayler Hill. Although she wore the Washington Mystics’ red road colors in the August 8 game against Minnesota, the host crowd warmly greeted the Minneapolis South and Ohio State graduate as she entered the contest near the three-minute mark left in the opening quarter. “The [Minnesota] fans never boo me,” says Hill. “I’ve always have been on opposite teams, and they still support me.”

The last time she talked with the MSR was a few hours after the Mystics selected her with their top pick (fourth overall) back in April. “We joked about it that she was the first draft of the other draft,” says Mystics Coach Mike Thibault on the Hill selection after the top three overall picks. Continue Reading →

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WNBA joins effort to build Black girls’ self-esteem

 

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and Procter & Gamble last week announced a new partnership that solely focuses on Black girls. My Black Is Beautiful was started in 2007 by the Procter & Gamble (P&G) Company, and in April they released Imagine a Future, a 30-minute documentary on Black women in America and Africa. A program of the same name was started as well and now will connect with the WNBA, the world’s longest running women’s professional team sports league, where over three-fourths of the players are Black females. “It’s a slam dunk,” said P&G North America Brand Operations Director Julie Eddleman in a July 22 press release. Although the specifics have yet to be released, the WNBA-P&G partnership will be woven into the league’s WNBA Cares program. 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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Big changes called for in women’s college hoops

 

 

 

It isn’t yet “broken,” but according to new Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman, she has learned through 100-plus interviews that “There is a desire for change” in women’s college basketball. “Now is the time for people to really come to grip with that,” believes the WNBA’s founding president and USA Basketball’s first female president, who last month released her “white paper” that specifically focused on five areas: vision, post-season, the game itself, the business side, and how the sport currently is governed and managed. “I spoke with a horde of people” including her former league, NBA, USA Basketball and marketing types, explains Anderson. “I [also] had my own thoughts and observations.”

The entire report is on the NCAA website, but several of Ackerman’s “specific recommendations” I wholeheartedly agree with include: changing the current Women’s Final Four format back to Friday-Sunday; holding it at the same site for multiple years; and adopting a more aggressive promotional strategy. She also strongly suggests that the sport must look at making some changes in the next six to 10 years, especially in finding successful ways to generate revenues as too many college programs are losing money. Continue Reading →

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To flop or not worries men more than women players

 

 

“Flopping” has been a part of basketball since the Flintstones. Lately it’s become a hot issue for NBA male players, but in the W there appears to be little concern. This season, 19 NBA players were warned about flopping, which is when a player intentionally falls down while guarding an offensive player to draw a foul. Five of these players were fined $5,000. Seven more got hit during the playoffs. Continue Reading →

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Devoted Lynx fan honored — Might this suggest the team is finally acknowledging its Black fan base?

 

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

She’s seen it all — the team’s first-ever victory in 1999, the endless roster changes, the hiring of two Black female head coaches, a rookie-of-the-year winner and sixth woman winner, and a league-record four all-stars two seasons ago. She also took part in the area’s first championship season since 1991. Debbie Montgomery is no bandwagon Lynx fan . She has been with them through all the downs and the ups. It seems only fitting, then, that the Minnesota Lynx organization honor her, which they did during last Saturday’s 15th season opener at their downtown arena. Continue Reading →

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Changing of the guard with the T-Wolves

 

 
Flip Saunders’ good calculations will replace David Kahn’s poor ones
 

Because of my November 7, 2012 column (“The smartest White team in the NBA: T-Wolves team return to the 1950s?”), we took heat from those who took exception with our prediction that there would be a “day of reckoning” (being fired) if David Kahn’s “smartest White team” strategy didn’t result in at least 45 wins (it was disastrous; they won only 31). As I wrote in that November 7 column: “Play the best players, whether all White, all Black or a combination. To have the best game possible, Commissioner Stern has insisted on ‘color blind’ drafting/signing. So why not the Timberwolves?” Thus, get the fans “the best players playing so their teams have the best chance to win. It is quite clear that owner Glenn Taylor is of the same mind set.”

My prediction was the fruit of my being a life-long sports analyst/journalist/fan with a deep sense of the game’s history. Continue Reading →

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